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Redeemed: another layer of the onion

I have to tell you, that God never ceases to amaze me. I have been experiencing quite a revival over the past four years and He is still showing me areas where I have not let go.

I am currently in a Bible study with a small group of women that I was initially not going to attend. Through a series of events, promptings and such…I said yes to “Seeking Him: Experiencing the Joy of Personal Revival”. This week I went down a rabbit hole and found hidden treasure so valuable. I lacked faith and found that I was not embracing one of God’s many promises. This one was a doozie! Wait. Did I just say that out loud? Yes. I did.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9

I have shared with you in past posts that I was living in backslidden state for years. I found myself there as a result of a lack of Christian growth, an anemic personal relationship with God and a series of compromises. After many years, the Lord called me to repentance and four years ago He began a revival in me…a process of confession, reaping, repentance and seeking the Lord’s face. This current study is one that helps a person to identify areas that may hinder revival with the Lord; strongholds, un-confessed sin, and pride. As I have been walking through this study, it has been awesome to reflect on where I was just a few years ago and evaluate areas where I still need to seek the Lord to change me. During my study time on Wednesday I got off track. (Well, it depends on how you look at that. I got off track in the book, but was following God’s lead.) There are certain portions of scripture that have hung me up from time to time over the past four years. These passages incite fear and doubt into my heart.

It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance.

Hebrews 6:4-6

Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

Luke 9:62

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!

Matthew 7:21-23

A few years back, a pastor asked for my testimony. I shared with him that I became a Christian at age 11, but didn’t grow and started the slow fade in college. He didn’t let me finish- stopped me there and said something like,”That is just awful, I am so sorry for you.” But, what I heard was, “Sorry about your luck.” That stuck with me and caused me to doubt. Yikes. That coupled with the scriptures above have kept me captive even more than I was consciously aware of.

I know that God has forgiven me of all of my confessed sin during that dark time, but will he ever forgive me of my backsliding?

It’s something I really wrestle with from time to time…until today.

God brought to my attention that I needed to deal with this fear and doubt now. For the last 24 hours that is where I have been dwelling. I have read through 2 Samuel, Kings, Hosea, Psalm. There are enough instances in the scriptures where God is seen forgiving repentant backsliders. The nation of Israel wandered and repented time and time again and then there’s David…King David! It may have taken him some time to see, confess and repent from his sin…he still had to reap the consequences of his sin…and yet while his flesh and will was weak- it was his heart that followed God. While he had regret, he was forgiven. Why do I think I am so different that any of these people? Am I not special enough? That is what Satan would have me believe.

So last night I was chatting with my hubby. I asked him if it’s possible that I have not forgiven myself…could that be the problem? He shared with me a sermon he had heard. He didn’t know who the speaker was or on what radio station, but what he said was the truth (ugly as it was) that I needed to hear.

Forgiving yourself if a crock. You don’t have to forgive yourself…you have to believe that you ARE FORGIVEN. 

When he said that the lights went on. All of the sins I had confessed over the past several years had all melted away except the “adultery” I had committed in my relationship with the Lord. That one I doubted that God would forgive. Therefore, I was not taking God at His word when he said…

… he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

I didn’t believe. I had been harboring such guilt over walking away from God for so long that I had not given Him that piece of me. I still had Jesus hanging on that cross for that sin and ignored the victory that followed. Jesus CONQUERED death and sin…yes, that one, too…therefore, my sin- my backsliding is no more!

Victory in Jesus!

let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

Hebrews 10:22-23

Today I have a song in my heart! I am REDEEMED by Big Daddy Weave.

Seems like all I could see was the struggle
Haunted by ghosts that lived in my past
Bound up in shackles of all my failures
Wondering how long is this gonna last
Then You look at this prisoner and say to me “son
Stop fighting a fight it’s already been won”

I am redeemed, You set me free
So I’ll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe away every stain, now I’m not who I used to be
I am redeemed, I’m redeemed

All my life I have been called unworthy
Named by the voice of my shame and regret
But when I hear You whisper, “Child lift up your head”
I remember, oh God, You’re not done with me yet

 

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Encouragement during the race

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds

Hebrews 10:22-24

In my last post, I pointed to this scripture and indicated that “how we may spur one another on” was something that God was really pointing to in my purpose going forward. I had no idea that He’d start convicting me to move on that this morning. I am so glad He did.

Last night, a friend asked how our son did in the 5k over the weekend. I told her that he finished and I was so proud of him, but I was really proud of my husband. He is, what I like to call, a competitive jerk. We both are. When there is a competition between hubby and I (cards, video games, volleyball, marksmanship…you name it) we are…well…boisterous about it. Hubby had been training for this 5k and was looking forward to knocking time off of his last race. Competing against himself. When our son decided that he would run with his Dad, they were both excited.They had already talked about the possibility of getting separated during the race and had a game plan to meet up at the finish line. It was all mapped out- so we thought.

At one point in the race, our son decided to turn back and look for me. I was walking with the dog and his sister near the back of the pack. What he didn’t realize was that his sister’s little legs had worn out early (and the dog saw a rabbit that nearly resulted in shoulder dislocation) and she asked if we could turn back for water. I had given her a pat on the back for her effort and we set some training goals for next time. When my son couldn’t find us he turned and started running with the pack again. Because he had turned around and doubled back, he had run further than most and became tired. When my hubby happened upon him, he was walking and looking for a shady place to rest. Hubby stopped to encourage him. He noticed that our little runner had a shoe untied, so he helped him tie it tight. Then, he sat with him on the curb for a moment of chalk talk. They continued the race together at a slower pace and at one point my son ended up riding piggy back. They both crossed the finish line together. WOW! For those who know my hubby- you know how difficult this must have been for him. When I was telling the story last night- I imagined that he had some teeth grinding and some muffled frustration and it definitely went against everything in his nature to stop his race to walk with our son.

…in HIS nature.

It definitely wasn’t his nature that caused him to stop and spur our son on and offer encouragement. It was God’s nature. I am so very proud of my husband for the sacrifice he made to encourage our son. He threw his goal, race time, competitive nature and himself out the window and focused on that boy. What a wonderful picture.

wpid-20140603_080935.jpgThis morning, when I woke up our son was sitting in the living room watching TV. He is an early riser and always has been. He had already made his bed, ate breakfast, packed his lunch and his uniform was on…he was ready to roll. As I saw him sitting there- a nudge from the Spirit. “Consider how we may spur one another toward love and good deeds.” But, not just love and good deeds…toward God himself. I asked him to turn off the TV and come to the table with me. I start my day with prayer and scripture. When he became a Christian in September, he did a morning devotional as well. While he still prays for his classmates in the morning, he has let his devotional book gather a little dust. When I opened the page to where he had left off, the lesson was  this “If you fall, Get back up”. Ok, thanks for the nudge God.

As I sat there with him, reading- I began to tell the story of how I learned to ride my bike. When I was young, I liked to ride my bike up and down the step on the side of our home. One day, one of my plastic training wheels cracked in half. I never went back to that bike. Later…much later, I set a goal for myself. I wanted to learn to ride a bike before my son. Yes, 30 years later at the age of 34- I finally learned how to ride a bike. My son never knew that about me. So I continued….

When I was 11 I became a Christian. I studied my Bible in church, in youth group, on mission trips and retreats. We were always very active at church and in serving others, but all of my “study” consisted of what I was fed by teachers and leaders. When I went away to college- ALONE- It didn’t take long for the slide…the slow fade to begin. I never got off of the baby food.

in fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

Hebrews 5:12-14wpid-20140603_070841.jpg

I shared with him my shame. It was 18 years before I had my Josiah moment. I returned to the Lord and was brought to my knees. How in the world did I get that far from Him? From the truth? Outside of His will for me? That little boy could see the urgency in my eyes and hear it in my tone as I told him, “Don’t rely on what you are taught in class. You have to spend time with God alone- daily. When you are saved and have that blessed assurance it’s time to RUN…not walk…not sit.”

It’s time to get back in the race.

Buttermilk Blessings

Our daughter is not always the most joyful morning person. (Frankly, we all have our moments.) She is a creature of habit with respect to her choice in breakfast food and equally as particular about its preparation. This morning, her brother decided to make one of her favorite breakfast meals. He placed a buttermilk waffle in the toaster, retrieved a small plate from the cabinet, and after he had centered the warm waffle perfectly on the plate- he topped it with syrup. It was positively beautiful…and so was the sentiment. So imagine his surprise when she approached the plate and promptly crumbled into a small pile of discontent on the floor. She lifted her face from her fuzzy moose slippers and cried, “But, I like mine cut up!”.

Like I said…she’s particular.

She likes her waffle cut up with the pieces arranged around the outer edge of the plate. This leaves a nice area to pour her syrup in the center of the plate so she can dip each piece with just the right amount of sugary goodness.  I convinced her to stand up…I assured her that it would be ok…I told her that I would “fix it” but, asked her to please thank her brother first. She shook her head furiously. Why in the world would she thank him for THIS? I firmly told her that I would not rearrange the breakfast on her plate until she properly thanked her brother for the one he had so carefully prepared. She rose from her position on the floor, wiped her tears, and hugged her brother. (Who-by the way-was looking at her like she had two heads at this point.)

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I wonder. How many times does God answer a prayer and gives us exactly what we want…but, not in the manner we had wanted it? It’s those times when we are less than thankful and down right unappreciative. It’s shameful. I have been there.

When the Israelites received manna after begging Moses to petition God for food in Exodus…and then responded with grumbling when they grew tired of manna in Numbers 11. God provided exactly what they had requested and yet it was received with grumbling. He further illustrated his unhappiness with their ungrateful response by answering yet another prayer for food…and this time they would choke on that request.  Numbers 11 reads:

4The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat!  5We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic.  6But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!”

18“Tell the people: ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow, when you will eat meat. The Lord heard you when you wailed, “If only we had meat to eat! We were better off in Egypt!” Now the Lord will give you meat, and you will eat it.  19You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days,  20but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it—because you have rejected the Lord, who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?” ’ ”

Truth of the matter: God answered their prayers, they were just unsatisfied and looking for something more, something different, a more aesthetically pleasing arrangement.

Late in 2010, I had begun praying for my husband. I had been a prodigal for many years who had just repented and come home. I wanted the Lord to reach my hubby. I prayed specifically that the Lord would “Git ’em! Please make him a strong spiritual leader in our home.”. Early in 2011, my prayers were answered. My husband had surrendered and then the heat was turned up for both of us. We had built our marriage on a foundation that we had built ourselves…outside of God’s will. Now, as Christians, God had shined the light in some dark places- exposing some pretty mighty flaws in the foundation. Our marriage crumbled.

Wait, God! This is not quite what I had asked for!

Yes, child. It is. And much more.

tornadoI felt like I was standing still…alone…in the middle of a massive tornado. I could see the past and present whirling around me. It was so loud….SO LOUD! No, this was not how I had imagined – the prayer begging the Lord to touch my hubby and make him the strong spiritual leader of our home- no, this is NOT how this was supposed to go! There was supposed to be peace. That prayer was not supposed to result in months of barely hanging on. That prayer was not supposed to come with a year of counseling. That prayer was not supposed to come with isolation and friendlessness. But, the truth of the matter is: I was not friendless…I had a friend who sticks closer than a brother. I was insulated but not isolated. And hanging on to the Lord with the only ounce of strength you have left is never a bad place to be.

I had gotten a gift- the very gift I had asked for. And it was arranged on the plate a little differently than expected. Almost three years later, I can see it as a much sweeter gift than the one I had requested.

A buttermilk blessing left behind after a vigorous churning.

Are you thankful for what the Lord has given you? With the way He faithfully responds to your prayers even when it’s in an unexpected way? Are you thankful for breath and life? Or do you grumble because you wish the air were sweeter and the life resembled that of your neighbor?

Lord, thank you for each moment of each day. Thank you for the blessings…the sweet ones and the more bitter tasting buttermilk blessings that come as a result of trials. Lord, I pray that I will give thanks in ALL THINGS and not just the things that are pleasing to me. Lord, I pray that my response and my life will always be one that reflects a desire to please you.

May Day…a celebration of new life!

May 1st is May Day in the Northern Hemisphere. With pagan origins, it is a day that celebrates the new life of Spring. I celebrate new life on May Day too! But, it is a day significant for other reasons.

IMG00360-20120707-0633

Today is our second Anniversary! Those of you who came to our wedding nine and a half years ago may be scratching your head, so I will gladly clear up the confusion for you. Two years ago we renewed our vows, committed to move forward and, most importantly, we gave our marriage over to God.

By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping the flames.

1 Corinthians 3:10-15

That verse speaks volumes to me because it is a picture of our marriage and the condemned structure we had initially built. Over the course of seven years we had been building a really shabby foundation. Everything from the cornerstone up was haphazardly placed with second-rate building materials and a sloppy mix of mortar that was cracking and crumbling. (Truthfully, it wasn’t even pretty to look at.)When I recommitted my life to the Lord in 2010, I began praying for my husband. Early in 2011, he became a Christian. When God’s light shined in to our home and onto that foundation, it was completely consumed in the fire that ensued. All of the crud, lies, poor workmanship, sin, selfishness, pride and arrogance was revealed in the light and the whole thing came crumbling down. With pastoral counseling and a whole year of professional Christian counseling, God helped us keep the dust from the implosion under control so our children didn’t feel the effects. Then, we committed to move forward.  Jesus laid our new cornerstone and the new construction commenced…two new lives, a new marriage, new hope and new love. GOD IS GOOD!

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. LOVE NEVER FAILS.

1 Corinthians 13:48

I am here to tell you, folks, that God can do ANYTHING! If your situation, your marriage, your life seems beyond repair…you need to seek the right materials and the right builder.

Happy Anniversary, Hubby!

Praise the Lord for new life!

Let go of the offense…start to de-fence

wpid-Fence2.jpg

Let’s start with a fence. What is a fence? It’s a structure that surrounds the perimeter of an area. Whether it be around a home, a dog kennel, a business, a pool, an area of danger, or an area to be preserved. A fence can do one of two things: keep someone or something out, or keep someone or something in. Or maybe it’s really a combination of both.

Now, let’s look at another kind of fence…offense.

of·fense

1. a violation or breaking of a social or moral rule; transgression; sin.
2. a transgression of the law; misdemeanor.
3. a cause of transgression or wrong.
4. something that offends or displeases.
5. the act of offending or displeasing.
~
~
Two different words…two different things.
But, without a doubt-both are restrictive barriers that can impair vision,
block passage and cause division.
~

For the past two weeks, the sermons have been centered around “offense”, being offended or being the offender. Unfortunately, this is subject matter that I have had personal experience with and can say first hand how detrimental it can be to a persons relationship- not only with people, but with God. You see, one weekend I came home from college and went to church. Not just any church – this was the church I grew up in. This was the church I called home. The friends and families I grew up surrounded by were there; it was special to me. That particular weekend, I was met at the door of the Sunday School class by a woman. I had no idea who she was and she didn’t know me from Eve. She asked that I sign a petition before I went into class that morning. I can honestly tell you that I have no idea what the petition was for…and though it was likely not a condition to enter the classroom, I took it that way. I remember thinking “Who are you …in my church…to tell me…what to do?!” I was furious. I was offended. Therefore, aside from holidays, I didn’t go back. I had already started a slow fade- but this was the kick in the pants that got me all the way out the door.

This was two years into what would be about 18 years of wandering.  I had already started building the fence…but this offense was the final section of fence between me and God. Yet, the particular offense had nothing do to with God. So there I was-offended at my church and out on my own. Satan is slick like that.

Last week, the pastor gave the congregation homework. We were asked to make a list of anyone who offended us in any way- and what they did to offend us. After that was accomplished, we were to pray over each and give each to God. Just let them go. I thought I had already covered this ground a few years ago, and really didn’t think I needed to do this assignment. When I recommitted my life to Christ, I had to wade through the muck and let a lot of stuff go. As a matter of fact, one of the verses that I held dear during that time was Ephesians 4:31-32.

31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

As the pastor was reading through Matthew 18, I could see the parallel to my testimony and situations that had come to pass in my life. I was the sheep that left the flock (v 12-14) that He came looking for…and He rejoiced when I came home. Then, not even three months later, I would have to turn around and offer the same kind of forgiveness God extended to me…to someone else. (v 21-35) Yes, it was hard. But, it was a lesson in forgiveness that I needed in order to fully comprehend true forgiveness and mercy– and fully appreciate both as a gift to be thankfully given as well as received. Also, in Matthew 18:13-19, there are guidelines on how to handle a matter when a brother or sister offends you. After you follow those steps, if forgiveness and reconciliation are not achieved, verse 17 says to “treat him as if you would a pagan or tax collector.” Lets remember something…that doesn’t mean to shun them; but rather to love your neighbor as yourself. Do not be offended or carry around a grudge. Harboring ill feelings and offense- puts up a fence between you and God.

Then, Sunday night I opened Facebook (which is a perpetual offender) and saw a post that immediately ruffled my feathers. It was a picture and comment regarding a group of people who had hurt me deeply. After years of letting their sharp jabs and misdeeds just “roll off”…a final blow was delivered and I immediately put up fences around myself to keep them out. But, being offended and hanging on to that hurt has me on the other side of that fence, surrounded- locked in. It’s that verse in Proverbs that keeps speaking to me over and over again…

Fear of man will prove to be a snare; but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.

Proverbs 29:25

I didn’t trust the Lord to deal with this situation or these people. I handled it myself…one fence post at a time. It’s a TALL fence too! I think I even put barbed wire at the top of that one. God made it clear to me that all of my fences of offense were not down. Far from it.

Anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgement…Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

Matthew 5:22-24

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their wicked ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret- it leads only to evil. For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.

Psalm 37:7-9

This is a big fence to tear down, it’s pretty solid. But, nothing is too big for my God. I just have to surrender my feelings, my hurt, the grudge(s) that I am harboring, the anger and feelings of betrayal. It all has to go. I have changed. I am a new creature. And, while I don’t think it’s appropriate to build a bridge to reconcile in this situation, I truly need to let it go.

wpid-Longfence.jpg

I have an offense….and I need to de-fence.

All other ground is sinking sand

Last night, we were watching the movie Journey 2. At one point they are in the lost city of Atlantis and one of the people noted that there was evidence of “liquefaction”…the city was going to sink. And fast!

According to Wikipedia, “Liquefaction is a special case of quicksand. In this case, sudden earthquake forces immediately increases the pore pressure of shallow groundwater. The saturated liquefied soil loses strength, causing buildings or other objects on that surface to sink or fall over.” Quicksand can happen in areas of marsh, flowing springs, or near shorelines. There is partial myth associated with quicksand that most of us are familiar with. I have seen countless movies where the bystanders frantically warn the unfortunate person stuck in the pit of quicksand to not struggle-or they will sink lower. In my research, I have found that while frantic movements will wear you out and hurt your cause; it is actually wise to slowly move your legs to allow for air and water to move between them, thereby causing the sand to loosen making it easier to break free. However, if the pool of quicksand happens to be near shoreline during rising tides, it is possible for the individual to drown.

Photo courtesy of Brian Owen

Photo courtesy of Brian Owen

Let me take you back to my the lighthouse where I live. (Click on the picture if you missed this blog.) A few years back, my hubby showed me some quicksand near the lighthouse. He had fallen in and wanted me to know about it. So, now, I know it’s there-It has been there for years.  However, due to its close proximity to the ocean, I am fully aware that lingering near this pit puts me at increased risk- so I try to avoid it. Why do I think about it every April? Maybe it reminds me of that swim back to the lighthouse…where I struggled and struggled, gasping for air. It’s not something I want to remember, but I know it’s there and it always comes to mind. A few years ago, I foolishly fell in. I heeded the prescribed advice and slowly kicked my legs and was able to break free. Last year, I just ran around it and kept going. I had things to do and keeping busy was a good way to avoid it all together. This year…for some reason I find myself running circles around it. I want to stay busy- my “to do” list is in place and I have plenty to do…avoid it…keep going…try to stay busy…but I just keep looping back around. Even though I am not crossing over or falling in- disturbing the ground around this unstable area may cause more instability. Pit dwelling is not something I want to do. I am getting tired and if I do not move away, I just may fall in. I know that from time to time this pool of quicksand may come to mind, but I have to remember that while I can reflect and thank God that we are both out of that pit and it may evoke strong emotion; It’s probably not a good idea to visit.

I have to move to solid ground- I have got to find a rock to sit on and rest…and BE STILL .No more running in circles today.

Hey- The lighthouse is built on rock! Man, I am so glad that I already live there. Homeward I go.

From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

Psalm 61:2

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

Psalm 40:2

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.

Matthew 7:24-27

In you, Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me; turn your ear to me and save me. Be my rock of refuge to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and fortress.

Psalm 71:1-3

I wonder what happens if I pour a few bags of concrete in that hole? I think it’s time to find out.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,

All other ground is sinking sand.

While looking down…I forgot to look up. There is an amazing brilliant, blue sky today and blessings abound!

390. he made a Lego scorpion all by himself- blessings of brain power

391. Snuggling an 87lb dog

392. Cousins

393. Kids who help, listen and honor

394. a sleepy girl who goes back to bed

395. Easter- He is risen, indeed!

396. thoughts- freedoms are slowly being limited, but I still live in a place where I can wake up and approach my kitchen table with my Bible open.

397. red buds on the trees

398. sleepovers and whispering kids…struggling to hang on to every moment before sleep catches them

399. dyeing eggs- a lost tradition, FOUND!

400. home sweet home

401. …and my own bed

402. He thanks me for sharing my burdens

How to Caramelize an Onion

If you really want to know….here’s a great link with a step by step walk through. http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_caramelize_onions/

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Why? During a conversation with my sister recently she said, “When I look at my tea in the morning, I see…..TEA. You see Jesus in your tea. Really, Joanne?”. And we both laughed. She is probably my biggest fan and encouragement on this blogging endeavor and I thank her for that. I assure you all that I am not sitting around my home looking for God in ridiculously mundane things like my tea- but HE IS showing Himself to me through seemingly mundane aspects of my day. He is everywhere. I can’t write this stuff. He has opened my eyes and changed the lenses. But, this conversation brought something else to my mind. You don’t know me. Even those who think they know me, likely don’t really know me. There is no other way for me to begin to share than one layer at a time.

There is a category on this blog called “The Onion”. This is where I will share my testimony- one layer at a time. You see, God is always working and this becomes obvious in the multi-dimensional layers that appear in our lives as He moves and works in them. He is always molding us…changing us. My testimony reflects that….and my personality is like that as well. Back to caramelized onions. Here is an excerpt directly from the link above.

“Caramelizing onions, by slowly cooking them in a little olive oil until they are richly browned, is a wonderful way to pull flavor out of the simplest of ingredients. Onions are naturally sweet; and as caramel comes from the simple cooking of sugar, when you slowly cook onions over an extended period of time, the natural sugars in the onions caramelize, making the result intensely and wonderfully flavorful.”

So, not only am I layered like an onion…I have been anointed in oil and have a natural sweetness that can be released over time. (Ha ha ha ha….sorry couldn’t help but laugh out loud on that one. Dawn, that was for you.) Yes, I AM the “simplest of ingredients”.

Because the purpose of this blog is for me to share how God interacts with me on a daily basis- that is what you get to see. So I thought I’d take a few minutes to share with you on a more personal level. Pulling back the layers, so to speak.

The lighter side…

I like art and am starting to explore it again….my favorite place to be is at the beach and it’s also the place I spend the least amount of time….I stay at home with my two kids…I haven’t colored my hair since last summer and am going gray gracefully….my house is straight but not clean…I love golf but am pretty bad at it….I don’t laugh enough, but when I do I snort sometimes….I have extremely goofy moments that may or may not include wearing articles of clothing in a manner other than intended…there are times when I may dash quickly into my bedroom and jump like a spider monkey onto the bed just to scare my husband as he’s easing into bed for the night….I sometimes play my kids video games while they are sleeping (“monitoring” their games of course)….HGTV…I make funny noises to make myself laugh…and find it hard to control my giggles when my daughter “toots” at inappropriate times…I like “family piles” when we all crawl on top of my husband and smush him with hugs…I like to joke and cut-up with my family…bounce houses and roller coasters rock with or without my kids…I once launched cake at my father from across the dinner table because he very sternly dared me to – and then laughed uncontrollably as the pieces that were sticking to his glasses fell to the table…I still know the lyrics of most 80’s and 90’s rap and R&B songs and would have been a ringer on “Name that Tune” if they hadn’t cancelled it on me….I was once “in love with” Adam Sandler, Harry Connick, Jr., and Sean Connery (what a combo, right?)…I prefer the scent of coconut and banana or vanilla over perfume…and prefer to be barefooted. You see…I am a dork.

The other side…

I take my walk with God seriously and want to be always moving closer to Him…I was a prodigal and am ashamed of that…thankfully forgiven…I grew up in 4-H…my mother taught me how to sew, cook, bake and keep a home -I am thankful for her influence in my life…I pray that I am raising my kids the way God wants me to…I am stern when I need to be…Hallmark commercials don’t get me, but the scene in “Mighty Joe Young” when the gorilla falls from the ferris wheel gets me every time (as does “Steel Magnolias”)…I cry -for myself and others…there are sleepless nights…I am a “Martha” like my father…I am steady in a crisis…I am learning to grow veggies…I have built a deck, refinished a basement, and demolished other things and enjoyed all very much…I love to cook and entertain…I’d rather spend a quiet night at home with my family than be anywhere else…I can’t just read one book at a time, so  it may take me longer to read one…I take comfort in food too often which results in other struggles…I helped teach a marksmanship class at camp when I was younger and currently enjoy time at the firing range…I love deeply and have been hurt deeply…I love planning things and have control issues (my greatest strength is my greatest weakness)…I like to sing, but not in front of people…I am competitive…I am quiet and “to myself” unless I really know you- then you can’t shut me up….the news gets me fired up…I am my worst critic…dogs not cats…I have lost two children to miscarriage…and I get lost in Home Depot just as much if not more than my hubby…I am not perfect and will not pretend to be- but am making an effort to not make excuses because there are none.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, only scratches the epidermis of the onion. I am not always a deep, thoughtful person. As a matter of fact, I never would put those words anywhere near my name. I am a girl, a woman, a mom, a sister, a daughter, a friend, a manager, a teacher, a chef, a sportsman, a goofball, a cry-baby, a taxi driver, a general contractor and a child of the Lord God Almighty. If you’re looking for perfection- you won’t find it here. If you’re looking for wisdom- open your Bible. I can only share what I see, hear and learn and am so excited to do so. How is God talking to you? How is He working in your life today? I hope you’ll share with me as we get to know each other better.