Thursday, June 21, 2012

Classic Four-Bean Salad (Recipe Blog Hop)

I found this healthy summer side dish an an old Weight Watchers cookbook. Give it a try. It was really tasty!


1 cup thawed frozen lima beans
1 cup canned red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1 celery stalk, diagonally sliced
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/4 cup fat-free creamy peppercorn ranch salad dressing
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Refrigerate, covered, until the flavors are blended, at least 1 hour. (Makes 6 servings)

This is a blog hop so head over to Jill Savage's blog to find more great recipe ideas.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day 2012

“What is one of your favorite characteristics of your husband?”
 This was the question posed to me in a group of friends the other day. As I struggled with the word, “characteristic”, I answered with the first thing that entered my mind. “His love for God is what I love most about him. The fact that everything he does flows out of that is what makes me love him.”

Thinking about the core of who my husband is and how this plays out in our lives brought tears to my eyes. And yet I wasn’t comfortable with the answer I gave. It seemed so “churchy”. Honestly, my husband’s love for God was what attracted me to him and what continues to stir the passion in my heart. But… how, specifically, does his love for God play out in our lives?

Immediately, a real life illustration came my way. Leaving my friend’s home, I walked out to the van and found my cell phone (which I confidently believed was with me the entire time) and my youngest’ blanket. How could I possibly have overlooked these items the same night I left him to care for our children plus one? Driving home, I listened to the voice mail he had left for me with feelings of guilt overwhelming my soul. Should the situation have been reversed, I knew full well what my response would have been. I walked into my house, apologized to my husband and was, not surprisingly, met with grace.

My husband always extends grace to me. Situation after situation where I screw up royally my husband is there to greet me with grace. This… this likeness of God… this is what I love about my man. It isn’t some pat answer that Christians are supposed to give about their husbands. It is simply the truth. I need a lot of grace and my husband is the rare gem who extends it. It’s one of the reasons our marriage is strong. He doesn’t respond the way our world (or his wife) would respond. He looks to Jesus’ example and follows it.

I have visuals of my own father sitting at the dining room table, reading his Bible on Sunday mornings. It’s an image I cherish as I choose to remember the Godliness my dad demonstrated. His smile… the songs he listened to… the way he and mom always held hands… his little sermons scripted specially for me… they are all tucked away inside my heart as comfort for my soul.

Someday, my girls will comfort their hearts with the image of their daddy sitting in his chair holding his Bible and praying. They will remember the many times he reads with them and prays with them. The Bible stories he so naturally works into everyday conversations will be cherished by them in the years to come. There will never be a question as to what their daddy values. It’s clear in his actions. As he pulls them up into his lap to wrap his arms around them, it will remind them of his love. The memories of daddy fixing their bikes, sitting in the back yard to watch them play in the sprinkler, along with the special night they stayed up late to catch fireflies and look through his telescope will store up to remind them there is no question of where they landed in his list of priorities. These are the actions of a Godly man.

Men who live for God will dress up like Santa because it matters to the kids. They will set aside time for trips to the zoo, Great America and other family trips because it matters today and in the future. Sundays are set aside to worship God because it sets an example for generations to come. But it is what happens in the home when no one else notices that truly matters. Those are the memories children recall. Sure, there will be bad memories that will have to be sifted through. We are all human and make mistakes. Overall, I am confident that my girls will have memory after memory that their daddy loves the one true God with all his heart, all his soul, all his mind, and all his strength. There will be no question that he loves them and their mommy unconditionally. Like me, they will be able to talk about all the moments he extended grace to them which will naturally remind them of the way God extends grace to us and hopefully swell their hearts with love.

My husband is a man after God’s own heart. I don’t say this because it sounds good or it’s what I am expected to say. It’s the truth. Today I am reminded of one of God’s greatest blessing in my life. It is a day about him and expressing my gratitude for all he does. In our home, we have a long list of reasons to celebrate Father’s Day. I love that so many of them point us back to our Heavenly Father as well.
What is it that you love about your husband?

“And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 11:1

Monday, June 11, 2012

Trusting Perfection

“No matter who you are – Trust God” was the message I was supposed to convey in our children’s program in a couple of hours. With anxiety flooding over me, I struggled with whether to scratch my scheduled exercise in an attempt to memorize a bit more of my script. My mind was busy playing the comparison game. There were so many people good at what I was about to do. I didn’t want to appear inept. I wondered how I would look with my cue cards in hand. Defeated, I laced up my running shoes and set out to the road.

Leaving my music behind, with my practiced script written on index cards in an attempt to memorize while I ran, I very shortly realized that I had left half of the cards at home. Ugh! So much for the idea of killing two birds with one stone. I tucked the index cards between some nearby plants to pick up at the end of my run so I could focus on the task at hand. Wanting to rid myself of the anxious feelings, I began to pray. “Help the kids to get the message that no matter who they are, they can trust you.”



What did you just say?

Even with the inadequacy I was feeling... did I trust God to deliver His message? Why was I having such a difficult time with the upcoming teach? Was I about to present a message that I wasn’t even applying in my own life?

While I enjoy this type of serve, it doesn’t necessarily come easy for me. Some people seem gifted in the area of memorizing and public speaking. Every Sunday morning, my pastors clearly present God’s word without need of any apparent script. Why was this so difficult for me?

I felt God whispering the morning’s message in my heart. It was time to let go of the standard of perfection I had created in my mind and trust in The Perfection. Hours were spent getting accustomed to the script presented to me. God knew I had honestly done my best to be ready. It was time to let go and trust Him. “No matter who you are – Trust God” was a message I could not only present to the children that morning but also apply to my own life at the very moment I was teaching it.

How often do I attempt to teach God’s truth to others without ever applying it to my own life? As I stood in front of the kids, my adrenaline was up, my shirt was soaked with perspiration and my face felt flushed. But my heart was full of the message God had taught me that morning.

When all was said and done, I had forgotten to include some lines from the script. There were parts where the kids should have interacted that were dropped for times’ sake. Mistakes were evident to me. And my cue cards were accessible for peaking at throughout the entire teach. But God didn’t need me to be perfect to get across His word. He just needed me to be willing and trust Him as the definition of Perfection.
"Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he's the one who will keep you on track. Don't assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life! Honor God with everything you own; give him the first and the best. Your barns will burst, your wine vats will brim over. But don't, dear friend, resent God's discipline; don't sulk under his loving correction. It's the child he loves that God corrects; a father's delight is behind all this." - Proverbs 3:5-6 (MSG)
"The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” - 1 Samuel 16:7

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Struggle with "Scorpions"

“But Daddy… I really want a scorpion!” was the take-away our almost 10-year-old daughter had from the Sunday morning sermon. As we laughed, I thought more on the message behind this pleading demonstrated by one of our pastors. I hate saying “no” to my kids simply because there isn’t enough money. As a parent, I would love to give my kids all the good things they request. And yet, there are times I have zero problems giving thema big, fat "NO" … because I know what they are requesting is far from being what is best for them.

My youngest has a way of hitting me up for candy every time I am distracted. It’s probably because she knows she’ll get a “yes”. She will be given just about anything to keep the peace. Just let me finish this phone conversation… or have undistracted time on the computer… or read a book to escape. Whatever the task at hand, I am more concerned with limited to no interruptions than actually considering if my daughter’s request is what is best for her. God is always concerned about what is best for us.
Recently, I gave in to the request to purchase a gargantuan container of cheese balls. (Parenting in the moment to avoid a tantrum in the store was probably my motivation.) What could it hurt? Well, when all my child wants is cheese balls in place of healthy meals and snacks, I know what it will hurt. It’s not healthy for her and God has given me the responsibility of doing what I can to create a healthy environment in our home. Because of this, even my daughter’s incessant pleading does not result in handing her the container (which is actually about the same size as her little body) just to make the begging cease. In these moments where I am actually parenting with the future in mind, my responses seem to include a little more wisdom.

We all have those "been-left empty-handed-moments" with the desires we present to God. But, here’s the thing… I don’t get to determine what is best for my life. In my opinion, the best outcome to the situation with my dad was healing from the aggressive form of cancer that had overtaken his body. I was certain that I knew what was best for my life. I still do... and it baffles me when God apparently disagrees.
Honestly, I still don’t see how my dad’s healing from cancer could have been a “scorpion”. But I still choose to believe that my Heavenly Father knows best. “God is a helper and a giver, and he gives good” is a statement I choose to agree with even when the circumstances seem to disagree. I have chosen to trust God… even when I don’t understand. He is the Creator of the Universe and He wants good things for me.

“Prayer is reliable. God responds.” And His plans really are best for us… even though we have obstacles to overcome as a result of our sinful choices. The fact that Jesus received a “no” from His Father because of me really penetrated my heart. Even in His request for another way, Jesus accepted God’s “no” and went to the cross for us. In the same way, we are able to trust that God always gives good.
It’s unlikely that our children will actually be requesting scorpions. Still, I hope the next time you find yourself responding with a “no” because you believe that is what is best for them, you'll stop to think about scorpions. It will remind you that God wants only the best for you as well.

And if your children need a snack... I realize cheese balls may not be the best option... but I have ample supply in the quest for some uninterrupted time alone.

"One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say: “‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.'” Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need. “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” - Luke 11:1-13