Tough Undertakings

11 Nov

Discipline means to instruct and implies correcting or chastening.

Pruning is a cutting process that removes non-productive, unwanted portions from a plant. The purpose of pruning is to shape the plant by controlling or directing plant growth, to maintain the health of the plant, or to increase the yield or quality of flowers and fruits.

This happens in my spiritual life, too.

Yikes, Ohh, Ouch.

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Welcome to October!

1 Oct

“I woke up to October like it was Christmas: too early and too excited.”

That was my post to Twitter at 7:28 a.m. when, after being wide awake and staring blankly at the ceiling too ashamed to get out of bed so early on a Saturday, I caved.

I funneled under the covers to tweet my excitement but not yet wake my husband, and then I climbed out of bed, turned the thermostat up to 73 degrees, grabbed a hoodie and a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios and settled on the couch.

It’s October, y’all! My most favorite month of the year. And I want to savor every last crumb and crumble of it as if it were a Panera shortbread cookie. (If you’ve ever had one, you know it’s not even hyperbolic for me to say that!)

So I’m kicking off the week with a rundown of my Upcoming October Highlights. All the reasons why I am looking forward to this lovely autumn month:

OCTOBER EXCITEMENT

  1. Tomorrow marks the 90-day countdown to our move. If you miss it, yep, we are moving to Saint Louis in January. STL here we come 🙂
  2. MBH and I are going to see Switchfoot in concert on Wednesday. Only five short days away! Every year or so, for as long as I’ve been of concert-going age, Switchfoot has been in Ohio on or around my birthday. I can’t imagine how this concert is going to top the last one I went to in Cincy with Amanda Eason, but in faith, somehow I know it will. Those guys get better every time. And their recently released album Vice Verses is reason enough to believe this. show. will. rock.
  3. My officemate/distant cousin is getting married a week from tomorrow….which we all just  found out about three days ago. Yeah. It’s one of those “why wait?” situations. God is making it so clear that she and her man should go ahead and get married. God is even orchestrating outside circumstances to push them forward in the process. I am so incredibly happy for them. More than that, I have the amazing honor of standing beside her as a witness to her covenant union to him. I am honored that she values our friendship so greatly. I want to speak words of life and encouragement into her that special day. I’m looking forward to lifting them up in prayer as they embark on this lifelong classroom called marriage.
  4. I feel like #4 should be #1, but for the sake of chronology… MBH and I will be celebrating one glorious year of marriage on October 16. Our first anniversary!  🙂
  5. In celebration of our 1st anniversary, we will be road-tripping up to Geneva-on-the-Lake for a weekend of lodge and lakeside relaxation. This area has the best wineries and vineyards of the region (maybe even the state). local food, a beautiful lakeside, and good wine pretty much constitutes a great time for the two of us. Here’s to praying for no rain!
  6. On October 20, I will celebrate a quarter-century of life. That’s right, birthday birthday! I’m blessed to celebrate another eventful year of life.

So there it is folks, all the incredibly exiting happenings ready to unfold in the month of October alone. I am excited to see the goodness of God unfold in front of my eyes right along with everything else.

I’ll try to stay plugged in here at the blog as we walk through all of the times of celebration. So, hang in there! and if you don’t hear from me for a while, don’t hesitate to drop me a line. Wherever I am, I’m usually never very far from my Macbook. Such is my life.

When the French are lazy, they make pie.

19 Sep

I imagine my new writing regimen will be good for the blog. And it will be good for my husband, too. He benefits from most of the subject matter of this blog in one way or another.

So tonight, for fifteen minutes, I will write. As MBH said, “For disciplines’ sake.” He’s such a disciplined man :).

Ahem… so did I mention how much I love and miss France? I miss it especially lately because my friend (a term loosely applied) is studying in an exchange program that landed her in… you guessed it, Nantes. The very city in which I spent a year working loving and eating.

Here’s one thing I love about the French. They work for their food. Not in the literal sense of if a man doesn’t work, a man doesn’t eat. I mean that food, the preparation or eating of it, is a process. It requires effort, of which the French do not shy away from nor attempt to avoid. Have you ever seen a Frenchman eat pizza? Case in point. Pizza in France is thin crust, and these dudes eat it with a fork and knife! Talk about exhausting. So, of course, in this sweat and blood food culture, the thing I am most enamored with would be one of the easiest desserts to make (the irony!). Mmm. Galette de Pomme. More or less and apple tart for those of you who didn’t make it past “merci beaucoup” in middle school French class.

The thing I love about the galette de pomme is that in a landscape of complicated French cuisine, this is basically the American apple pie gone lazy. Yeah. A shortcut. In France. I know, I barely believe it either and I just made the thing tonight.

But since you have to see it to believe it, I’m going to stop blabbering and give it to you straight. This recipe was adapted from smwise’s Tablespoon profile (I love her blog! Isn’t she pretty! I want to be her friend!). However, I had apples on hand, so I adjusted accordingly and added a little French flair:

Recette pour La Galette De Pomme

2-3 apples peeled, cored and sliced into thin wedges

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup confectioners sugar

1 teaspoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons flour

1 and 1/2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon cinnamon & a tiny dash of nutmeg

1 refrigerated pie crust dough

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Roll out refrigerated pie crust to a 12-inch diameter. Place on a baking and set to the side.
  3. Mix together the apple wedges, brown sugar, conf. sugar, flour and lemon juice in a medium-sized bowl mixing and tossing together until apples are well covered and no flour remains unmixed.
  4. Melt the butter. Mix cinnamon and nutmeg into the melted butter. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the butter mixture into the bowl of apples and mix well. Reserve the other 1/2 tablespoon for later.
  5. Pour apple mixture into the middle of the pie crust. Keep the filling 2″ from the edge all around. You can arrange the apples into a spiral patter if you don’t mind getting a little messy. It will look lovely and be well worth it later. Fold up the edges of the pie crust over the filling leaving it uncovered in the center. Feel free to make the edges look nice and pretty.
  6. Take the remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter mixture and brush it on the folded over pastry edges with a pastry brush.
  7. Place the galette in the oven at bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Allow the galette to cool for 10-15 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack where you should allow it to cool completely before serving. Mmm. Enjoy 🙂

(Don’t be alarmed, this was after MBH had two slices and I had one!)

Working Woman Growth

12 Aug

I work for a church, and we take ourselves seriously. We’re like a “church company.”

There are executives and directors and assistants and tasks; the whole nine. A coworker one said, “Every tasks feels like the Apprentice around here.” There’s truth to that.

While God surely did not cut me from a corporate cloth, I work here for a reason and for a short season of life, and so I’ve resolved to sponge-mode: I will absorb as much as I can for the purpose of learning, growing, discerning, and information-gathering. I know that wherever God takes MBH and I in the future, these lessons will come in handy.

Yesterday, I walked with an ace. TA is the executive assistant 

I realized I had this standard at home, but not at work. In my home life, whether regarding bills, replacing the carpet, getting the dishes done or the bathroom cleaned, I rarely take no for an answer. I figure out how to get it done. And I expect MBH to, as well. Sometimes I get frustrated when he attempts something, reaches the first obstacle and stops. “So much for that!”

In instances like that with my husband, I’m internally screaming, “No! Couldn’t you see there’s got to be a way around this obstacle? Why wouldn’t you press through, try every door until you find one that leads to a completed task?!”

I know I value my home more than I value my work. And that is biblical. But values and standards are not the same. Values change depending on what they are placed. Standards shouldn’t change. That’s integrity. So, if I have a standard of ‘follow-all-the-way-through’ at home, I must have the same at work.

This is a designated growth area and I’m thankful the Lord pointed it out yesterday, gave me time to mull on it, and gave me a heart of resolve on the issue. I don’t envision myself in this role forever. I want to have lots of children and I want raising them and discipling them to be my full-time job. But for now, I am a working woman, learning from other working women. Trying to piece it all together and put it to use for the glory of God’s church.

Flowers and Unregenerate People: The Living Dead

14 Jul

I have these beautiful flowers sitting in my living room. My flowers

They are gorgeous and filled with color. And they are dead.

Yesterday I saw a woman I’d known since kindergarten (we grew up as neighbors). She looked great, still as skinny as she used to be, working a great job and living in a great apartment. I walked away with a heavy heart thinking, “but really, she’s dead.”

In my world people are a lot more like flowers than we let on.

Those that are rooted to the source are alive and vibrant. They are growing. They wilt through some seasons and sprout new buds through others. The source of life never runs dry. As long as the flowers are in the ground, they will receive the water from rain and sunlight from above.

The planted flower remains by simply being. The flower did nothing to arrive there in its place in the ground. It does very little to stay alive in the ground… except be, well, exactly where it is.

The planted flower receives everything that gives it life. Both water, sunlight and nutrients come from outside sources. The flower produces life-giving elements to the things around it like, bees. But in order to live, it receives.

All of this is so not the case for the gorgeous lilies sitting on my dining room table, though. Not long ago, they were cut off from the source. I stuck them in what is now becoming stale water, and I will admirably watch them as they die. Depressing, huh? Well, when you put it like that…

This is the plight of the unregenerate soul. It hopes in its beauty and the admiration from the world, while all the while dying. Well, already dead and on the way to dying. That’s the crazy part. An unregenerate soul is living dead (as in “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins…following the course of this world,” Eph. 2:1-2).

Flash back to my flowers in the vase. There is virtually no way to bring these flowers back to life. What was done to them when they were chopped at the stems is irreversible. It is only a matter of time. Not so with the souls of people!

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:4-5

We were born spiritually dead, on our way to an eternal death called Hell. Not until God intervened by stepping into our world into space and time in the form of Jesus, and taking that punishment of death that we deserved upon himself, did we even have a shot at becoming alive again. But thanks be to God! What He accomplished on the cross is applied to all of us who believe. We can become alive again through Christ.

Only God has the power to bring the unregenerate dead soul to life. I know He can. He did so in me.

"Plenteous grace with Thee is found,
Grace to cover all my sin;
Let the healing streams abound;
Make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the fountain art,
Freely let me take of Thee;
Spring Thou up within my heart;
Rise to all eternity."
     From the hymn, "Jesus, Lover of My Soul"

The Killer Virus

8 Jul

“In marriage, a bad attitude is like a virus. One person has it and inevitably, it is just a matter of time before the other one has it, too.”

 

 

Wendy’s Win.

5 Jul

No strings attached.

 

Wendy’s wild berry tea is good!

If you have talked with me about food lately, you’ve probably already heard me talk about how much I liked it. But seriously, I’ve had maybe six of them already this summer. Yumm!

If you haven’t tried it yet, go get one. Now. Or, like, today, at least. 😉

Freedom.

4 Jul

At the risk of sounding like everyone else, Happy Fourth of July!

Husband and I had a great 4th holiday which included much sleeping in, much celebration over the fact that he actually HAD the day off. What a blessing!

Of course, on the 4th of July, every other person has their thoughts and comments about freedom. My thoughts on freedom unexpectedly emerged through the women’s small group that I’m leading at church this summer. We are going through the book, “Prayer Guide for the Brokenhearted” by Michelle McKinney Hammond. Not my pick for my first time leading a group at church, but God is sovereign and that was His pick.

In previous weeks, we talked about the reality of “The Pain” of a broken heart. Last week, the women and I walked through “The Process” toward healing. The chapter we landed on started with the verse from Galatians 5, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

How appropriate.

The writer of Galatians is talking about the weight of the demands of Abrahamic law. Christ came to free us from the condemnation that comes with the law. The Biblical Jews followed the law in pursuit of righteousness. Christ came to BE our righteousness, so that when we are found “in Him,” His righteousness becomes our own. That is some good news.

But I guess even those who are freed are tempted to return to the chains that they knew for so long. Why else would Paul add, “do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”? Paul says, you were saved by grace through faith, it was nothing that you did on your own. It doesn’t make sense then to turn around and try to live again by the law. That’s not what saved you in the first place!

But I guess to live differently, you need to think differently. Believe that the power that changed your life the moment you surrendered to Christ, is the same power at work in your life. Every. Day. Don’t be conformed to the pattern of the world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.

Being renewed means continually putting that truth about your freedom in front of your mind all day every day. It’s when you have nothing to look toward that you are tempted to look back. I really really hope this is never the case in my life as a Christ-follower.

Christ came so that we could be free. Free for freedom’s sake. Because, in freedom we can experience true beauty, joy, love, peace, the abundant life.

Freedom in this world is worth celebrating on the 4th of July, but the freedom of the soul, given only by Christ, that is a freedom worth celebrating every day. So celebrate it, lest you forget and fall back into those old yokes of slavery.

Cinco de Mayo

5 May Colorful

I WISH the sky looked like this today. Splash of color #win.

~Happy Cinco de Mayo, everybody! ~

Two of my favorite things.

3 May

CinnamonPeanut Butter

Cinnamon and Peanut Butter are two of my favorite things. I love cinnamon. Love.

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across this recipe and was immediately intrigued. But I couldn’t stop my: “wouldn’t that be even better if…” train of thought. Which led to, wouldn’t that be even better if it was a Cinnamon Peanut Butter Blondie?!

Amazing. I know. Now my apartment is filled with those beautiful, golden, mouth-watering smells.

 

 

 

 

 

Peanut Butter Cinnamon Blondies

1 and 1/8 cups flour

1 and 1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. cinnamon (or a heaping 1/2 tsp. if you’re anything like me…)

1/3 cup butter

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 tbsp. corn syrup (or substitute with 1 tbsp. water 1/4 tbsp. sugar mixture)

1 egg

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350 F. Spray an 8×8 brownie pan with nonstick spray.

First, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Then, in a separate bowl, mix butter, brown sugar, peanut butter and corn syrup. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until smooth.

Mix wet and dry ingredients together until all the flour is absorbed. The batter may seem really thick and doughy, but it’s all good. Bake 20-22 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 15 minutes before cutting.

Mmmm.. Enjoy!