Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"Whoever clings to me I will deliver; whoever knows my name I will set on high. All who call upon me I will answer; I will be with them in distress; I will deliver them and give them honor. With length of days I will satisfy them and show them my saving power."

Psalm 91:14-16

This is for an amazing and inspiring soul in need of prayer. Please lift this person up to the Lord as you read this today. Thank you!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Life is Beautiful...

-on a bike ride down a country road, with deer grazing (do deer graze?) in a nearby field.

-watching Mary Tyler Moore episodes with my mom and a bowl of freshly-popped popcorn (in my Stir Crazy popper from a garage sale!).

-little moments with A. when her work shift was called off: baking and cooking and mopping and even cleaning out the garage.

-around a campfire on the lake with three treasured girlfriends, making s’mores and Smart Dogs (*ahem* they are much healthier. Do you know what real hot dogs have in them??)

-when others share from the abundance of their gardens and our countertop protests under piles of cucumber, yellow squash, and tomatoes.

-reading a fun Christian fiction book in bed, snuggled under polka-dot cotton sheets.

-chubby little nephew-arms reaching for a hug or a hold, and his adorable scrunched-up grin and giggle.

-taking advantage of a rare full-hour lunch break at work and gathering with the Cardiology girls at a Mexican restaurant next door.

-standing at the window watching an incredible lightning show in the night sky before a storm (God's fireworks! SO neat...just don't tell my mom, who always taught us to stay away from windows when there was lightning!)

-fishing with girlfriends and giggling as we tried to get the fish off the hooks (it takes a village three girls to get a hook out of a perch’s mouth).

-phone calls with my marmee when I’m in need of her wisdom and understanding and listening ear.

-dancing through the house because a hummingbird landed on my new feeder (it doesn’t take much to make me happy!)

-meeting new people, sharing in conversation, laughing with a stranger.

-a motorcycle ride with my dad, loving the freedom and sunshine and daddy-daughter time.

-during a calm, peaceful evening out on the deck, praying my rosary and star-gazing, drinking in the beauty of the night…until I saw a black-and-white creature waddle up to the deck—you’ve never seen such a sneaky, lightning-fast getaway as mine. (he was a cute little guy, but I wasn’t about to risk smelling like a skunk just so I could enjoy my evening outdoors!)

Life is beautiful. What a gift.

And for the cherries on top of these colorful sprinkles, two quotes:

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” — Robert Brault

“I believe we would be happier to have a personal revolution in our individual lives and go back to simpler living and more direct thinking. It is the simple things of life that make living worthwhile, the sweet fundamental things such as love and duty, work and rest, and living close to nature.” — Laura Ingalls Wilder

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Monday, August 22, 2011

Letting Him Do It

It sounded so comforting when I read it.

“Like St. Margaret Mary, you may hear Jesus a hundred times a day, saying to you, ‘Let me do it.’ In your difficulties, in your problems, in all those things in your daily life which are sometimes so difficult, so distressing, when you ask yourself, ‘What shall I do? How shall I do it?’ listen to Him saying to you, ‘Let me do it.’”

And I wanted to believe it. I wanted to feel a burden lifting. An ease that Jesus would do these hard things. That when we let go He steps in.

But instead, I felt resistant to the words in my devotional book. Doubt. Frustration. Because, my mind argued, He doesn’t always seem to step in when I let go. He doesn’t physically appear and do the hard things for me. If I let go or step back or fall down in weakness, I don’t always see Him or feel Him…and those difficulties still seem to be there.

I wrestled with the words.

Maybe letting Him do it means letting Him do it in me, through me. Letting Him pour out grace into my heart, making my weakness into His strength. That when I think I’m doing it all on my own, I don’t realize the graces and the strength He has given me. That He’s beside me, in me, with me. Just because I don’t feel it or see it doesn’t mean He’s not there through the “distress and difficulties.”

The hidden undercurrent of His grace.

I think about those Apostles . Those earthly men who followed the Divine. I look at the crucifix, at my saving Jesus on the cross, and I wonder…did they look at Him dying there, and wonder why He wasn’t stepping in? They had let go of so much in their lives and here He was, seemingly helpless on a cross. Did He look at them with bloody-beautiful eyes that spoke “Let me do it.. Let me do this.” The Apostles had no idea of the power and the grace and the redemption in that moment. The burdens and sins and darkness Jesus had taken on and was conquering.

So too in my moments when I choose to let go and to let Him…maybe I will see no actions but my own. Maybe I will not see Him taking on my burdens or defeating or conquering. Maybe I will feel like my letting go brought nothing. But I must believe. I must trust. Because there is strength and grace and power behind that action of letting Him do it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"It was only a sunny smile and little it cost in the giving, but like morning light it scattered the night and made the day worth living."


-Unknown

Monday, August 15, 2011

It started out as a simple grocery trip...

Just as freedom and captivity crossed at the intersection a few days ago…abundance and need passed each other at the grocery store today.

I was studying the cans of food preparing for a girlfriends’ camping trip this weekend when I heard the little voice.

“Grandpa, why do some people have hundreds of food at home and then still buy more hundreds of food?”

Time stood still for me as I forgot what I was looking for and instead stole a glance to where I’d heard the cheerfully innocent voice.

It belonged to a little boy, about six or seven, with circles under his sparkly eyes and a youthful energy in his skinny frame.

His “grandpa,” stood near him, looking worn and in need of a haircut and shave, but with a kind face. And bent over a child-size wheelchair carrying the little boy’s sister.

The boy’s question echoed in my mind and something inside of me instinctively knew they were in need. Why else would he look with wonder at the abundance of others?

I continued through the aisles, distracted by my thoughts and keeping an eye on the family. A middle-aged woman with them was carefully filling the cart while the man kept the children occupied.

I saw the face of the wheelchair-bound girl. Something was wrong. Her dark bluish-purple lips. The pale face. The sadness and maturity in her eyes.

My heart was being tugged.

All sorts of arguments formed in my mind. He might be offended if I tried to help. Perhaps they misused their money. What would I say anyway? How would I approach?

Lord, give me an opportunity to help them.

And in one of those rare, clear-headed instances, I knew He would not give me an ‘opportunity.’ Because He wanted me to step out in faith—simply seeing them was the opportunity.

So I awkwardly approached them.

And said how sweet their kids had been, how I’d enjoyed watching them and could I buy them a treat?

My heart officially melted in the freezer aisle when I saw their eager faces.

And the beauty in that older man’s face! His scruffiness and not-so-good-smellingness couldn’t hide his love and tenderness for these children as we talked in that aisle. About the little girl’s many medical problems. About what kind of ice cream the boy liked (vanilla! With all those amazing choices, he wanted vanilla!). About the popsicles the girl could eat—because usually she was fed through a feeding tube. About nurses and doctors and hospitals and diagnoses (I was in my scrubs). About a possible surgery for her that could either help her…or take her life.

I cried on the way home, mascara bleeding into my eyes as I thought about this little girl who might not grow old enough to wear mascara. It was heartbreaking. But there was more to it than that. Somehow, in giving the gift, I was given one in return.

Abundance and Need chatted in the grocery store, yet when I think about the love that flourished in this family despite incredible trials…

I’m not really sure anymore which one of us was in need and which one had abundance.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Baking from the Garden: A Healthy Zucchini Bread Recipe

Last night, as a delicious summer thunderstorm approached from the west, A. and I decided to bake up a storm inside (and it was delicious, too). The zucchini bread turned out so well I decided to share it on here. For all those fellow health nuts health-concious individuals...this recipe is a great alternative to the ones that have more sugar than flour! And as Rachael Ray would say, it's yum-o!!

(so I have to be honest here: those amazing zucchinis in the picture? Not from my garden, but graciously shared by a better gardener than myself!)

Zucchini Bread

2 eggs
¾ c honey (I use ½ cup and then add just a bit of sucanat/sugar)
½ c olive oil (I use coconut oil)
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp ground ginger (oops, we didn’t have any)
¼ tsp cinnamon (didn’t measure; I’m sure I used much more!)
1/3 tsp of vanilla (same as above)
1 medium zucchini squash, grated
1 ½ cup whole wheat flour

Beat eggs, honey, and oil together. Mix in rest of ingredient, adding flour last. The zucchini should be about 1 ½ cups, loosely packed. Can also add nuts if you wish. Bake in a greased loaf pan for 1 hour at 350* F.

From Healthy Choices: No sugar. No white flour. No artificial anything. Authors Marvin and Miriam Wengerd of Keepers at Home Magazine

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Morning Mess

I woke up before the alarm, crawled out of bed. Put my contacts in puffy eyes, promising them some more sleep when I returned. I poured my cinnamon tea into a travel mug (ignoring the coffeemaker’s lure of more caffeine), grabbed my journal and devotional, and headed to my morning Adoration hour with Jesus.

I was exhausted. The type of over-tired where everything makes you cry, but you’re too tired to even cry.

And the worst thing was that it was my own fault. I choose what fills my calendar days. I allow the busy-ness to infiltrate. I let the prayer time, the quiet time, lapse.

Doing too much. Not doing enough. Thinking too much. Being thoughtless. One by one, the burdens piled up. The guilt.

And because I was displeased, I thought Jesus must surely be displeased with me, too.

The lies we believe.

But His promises are louder.

Come to me, all you who are heavy and burdened, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).

Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10).

He commands us to come. Even, or especially, when we are weary or burdened or sinful. Not because He dismisses our mistakes or excuses our sin. But because He is Jehovah Rapha, the God who Heals. Because He is a loving God, a saving God, a sanctifying God.

He doesn’t ask that I come to Him with everything under control. He just asks that I come to Him. Period. And give Him control. Being open, humble, trusting. That He may work in this messy heart and make it more like His.

So I approached the throne and knelt before this God Who never ceases to amaze me. Empty, sinful, and weary, I came to Him. I ignored the whispered lies that He didn’t want me there with all my imperfections because He has said otherwise (Mark 2:17).

I gave Him my messy heart with its sins and faults and failures.

And He gave me His unconditional, indescribable, life-changing love.

What an exchange.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"He said, 'Come.' Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.
But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, 'Lord, save me!'
Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him..."


Matthew 14:29-31 (emphasis mine)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Snapshots of Summer: Week 7



The ice cream aisle...one of our favourite summer places! (My roomie A. is so good about putting up with me and my summer snapshots!)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Free

It was a bright summer morning. I was feeling happy and energetic on my drive to work. My convertible top was down, the sun was warming my face and the wind was dancing through my hair.

Freedom.

I waited at the stoplight, inching my way forward for a right turn and glancing at the oncoming traffic. A large white bus approached, blue wording on the side. As it made its way down the hill and through the intersection, I recognized its logo.

The local correction facility. Jail.

Captivity.

I squinted in the sunlight to see if there were any passengers. Dark silhouettes were scattered throughout the bus as it passed by.

The contrast settled upon me heavily. Just as I was breathing in the fresh morning air and delighting in the freedom of the day, these men and women were being transported in a dark, drab bus to or from prison.

Freedom and captivity crossing at the intersection.

But the crazy thing?

We weren’t so different from each other.

And my heart of hearts knew this as a sobering sorrow filled it.

When ministering to prisoners, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen quipped that the difference between them and him was that he "hadn't been caught!"

How true. We all fall short. We sin. We choose evil over good, dark over light. We turn away from the One who offers freedom.

My Kutless cd spun in the player as I turned onto the road after the bus passed. The lyrics echoed my heartthoughts and I marveled at the timing.

“If you take it all, will my hands stay lifted to the God who gives and take away?”

All this I have, this freedom, is a gift I haven’t earned. This freedom in America. This freedom in Christ.

Blessings.

Did those prisoners grow up in a broken home? Were their crimes born from ignorance, pain, need, despair? What if we switched places? Would my hands stay lifted in praise to a God who is always good no matter what my circumstances?

Grace.

Grace that set me free. Grace that continues to free me from all that holds me captive.

Grace that nudges me to share that freedom with others. With those who do not know the One who shatters chains, opens gates, and pours light in dark places.

So when the sun shines and the wind dances, I praise God for the freedom He has brought into my life in so. many. ways. Yet I also pray that I "not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; [but] rather, serve one another through love" (Galatians 5:13).