Is this really spring?

I had to make a quick run to Whole Foods this morning to pick up a gluten free pizza and cake mix for a birthday party that Kayla is going to this afternoon. It was raining/sleeting when I arrived.While in the checkout line, a voice was heard on the store’s intercom…”Attention Whole Foods shoppers. Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to announce that it is now snowing outside. (Long Dramatic Pause) I’m sorry.” Everyone in the store was giggling. I looked outside, and it was indeed snowing – and HUGE flakes at that!
An elderly man walked out from the cafe, took one look outside, and said aloud, “I though he was kidding!” No joke here. At least the store clerk who made the announcement lightened the depressed hearts that even New Englanders have in a March snowstorm!
Last week, I found myself in a place where it was a sunny 85 degrees. I was sipping iced coffee on the deck of a Starbucks in Austin, TX with my dad. Now, laying out in the sun has never really appealed to me, but in that moment it was all I wanted to do. I could almost feel the vitamin D restoring my soul. It was heavenly. You can take the girl out of Texas, but you can’t take Texas out of the girl. Don’t think I will ever get used to being this cold this long. Sigh.

Gluten Free Friday

Robert’s mom made this for us a couple of times during a summer that a group of us worked in a summer youth ministry in their town while we were college students. (We weren’t even dating then!) Robert made it a few times when we were dating, and then I learned after we got married. It’s best made in a cast iron skillet, but will work in a baking dish also. We haven’t ever gotten tired of it – we’re even having it tonight for dinner along with black beans and salad!

Mexican Cornbread

1 lb. ground beef (or turkey)
1 can cream corn
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup milk (soy, rice work fine, too)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
1-2 cups grated cheese
3/4 cup salsa

Brown ground beef in cast iron skillet and transfer to bowl. In another bowl, mix cornmeal, cream corn, milk, soda, salt, eggs, and oil. Pour half of this mixture into bottom of skillet. Layer ground beef, then cheese, then salsa on top of cornmeal mixture. Pour remaining mixture over the layers. Bake 45 min. @ 375 degrees.

I have even decreased the oil by half, reduced the eggs to 1, and replaced the beef with beans, and it still works fine!

Receiving Resurrection

Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, your faith is also vain…If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. I Cor. 15:12-19

I believe there is a resurrection of the dead – both here on earth and later when Christ returns. It’s the resurrection here on earth that I’m grappling with. To be sure, I have seen lives resurrected – both from an actual, physical death, but more so from the death that sin causes – victories over addiction, anger, selfishness, immorality. I’ve seen lives completely transformed by the love, forgiveness, and power of Christ. Even my own life. Yes, the good grades, good friends, good behavior, good girl from a good family and good neighborhood, who went to a good school, got a good job, and married a good guy – even that girl was in desperate need of forgiveness and resurrection power to overcome sin and receive God’s love. (Still am.)

But it’s not a one-way relationship where God simply bestows the forgiveness and love giving us no freedom to decide whether or not we will receive it. When my kids are being questioned as to why they are repeating the same negative behavior and having to suffer the same consequence, they say, “But I prayed that God would make me stop doing this, and He won’t make me stop!” To which I usually reply, ” You are not a puppet on strings. God has no desire to make you say and do all the right things. He wants you to choose them, to choose Him. That’s what a relationship is about. It shows Him you love Him, too, and desire to please Him.” So, it seems we have a part and our part is receiving.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God…. John 1:12

In the last few years I have encountered several people who claim to know Christ, but at the same time are causing much dissension and great pain in my life, the lives of my loved ones, and the life of the church. And I wonder, do they really know Him? And then I wonder, do I really know Him if I’m wondering if they really know Him? It can be really confusing to be a Christian sometimes. We are called to love and extend grace, but are we allowed to exercise discernment without it being called judgment?

In Dan Allender’s book, Bold Love, he discusses the dangers of labeling those who are difficult to deal with, yet says we must do this at times for the sake of loving them well. We must know how they would be categorized biblically, in order to know what we’re up against in trying to love them. His (and the Bible’s) categories are the evil person, the fool, and the normal sinner.

The evil person, he says, lacks empathy, shame, and goodness. Their lack of true connection with people keeps them from viewing other people as “a living, breathing being who feels hurt, fear sorrow, and shame.” When the evil person is someone close to you, and they profess to be a believer, it can be so confusing as to why they are consistently acting in a way that destroys their life and the lives of others. Is a Christian truly capable of this? Where is the restraint of the Holy Spirit? You second guess yourself when you call their behavior questionable or worse, sinful.

But God, in His faithfulness, and out of His great love (and without my help!) will expose the evil and give the person another chance – even a second, third and fourth chance, which boggles my human sense of justice. But what happens when they don’t take the chance? It’s a chance to yet again receive an opportunity for resurrection, yet they twist it and resist it in order to continue in their sinful and destructive ways. I am really frustrated by this lately. I am praying for a person in my life to truly receive the resurrection and be changed miraculously in their person – their whole being. It seems the only hope, but it also seems to be somewhat dependent on the very person who tends toward evil. After a lifetime of indulging in the sinful nature to the extreme, are they even capable of this?

In Allender’s words, “Though evil is cold, hard, and destructive, no person is so evil, or so beyond the grace of God, that His light is unable to penetrate. Our task is to know what lurks inside the heart of the evil person so we can excavate a pathway toward the part of his heart that is made in the image of God and, consequently, still hungers for love and meaning. In every person, no matter how reprobate, there is some remnant of desire for beauty and justice. “

I am praying for this. There is much at stake. It feels hopeless. I so much desire that this person would feel the weight of their sin only to look up and see the deflection of that sin on to Christ at the cross and the forgiveness thereby available. That they would hold out their hand and open their heart to this gift and truly receive it.

But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who indwells you. Romans 8:11

May this person allow you access to their heart and life – an indwelling of your Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead and can raise their life from sin and evil as well. May their loved ones worship you, Lord, because of the power they see displayed in this sinner’s life. May our hope in the resurrection of the dead be proven yet again. May our faith not be in vain.

And, may I walk in this resurrection power in my own daily struggle with sin.

Easter

We’re still “in” to the tradition of egg dyeing here, but this year we did them on Easter afternoon, waited for them to dry and then took turns hiding them outside. It was cold and brown out there- no signs of Spring whatsoever! Still, the kids passed the afternoon with this activity while I prepared brisket, etc. for our family and a few friends from church that evening.
And here they are in their Easter best thanks, in part, to their Grandad Dee in Texas. (I’m so unhappy with the quality of these photos – think I need to break down and look at the “Advanced User Guide” via CD on the computer. Can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong!)

Hope you had a great Resurrection Day! Robert’s sermon was entitled pORTABLE rESURRECTION and was wonderful – even though he says Easter sermons are the hardest. More thoughts on this later, as it was a very rough week of attempting to take the resurrection places it wasn’t being received well. Praying for healing, brokenness, and an awe of the forgiveness offered at the cross.

Menu Monday – A Week of Gluten Free Meals

Had to go out of town unexpectedly, so Dad was in charge for a few days….but had everything bought, so he followed the menu until Thursday when my good friend Betsy bailed him out with a meal that lasted two days!

Monday

Beef Tips & Gravy, Rice, Apple/Cran/Pecan Salad

Tuesday

Mexican Pizzas & Fruit Salad

Wednesday

Hamburgers, French Fries (frozen), and cut raw veggies

Thursday

Betsy’s Chili, Rice & Fruit Salad (She even brought Jell-o)

Friday

More of Betsy’s Chili!

Saturday

Pintos and Rice

Sunday

Brisket, Roasted Potatoes, Green Beans, Salad

Menu Monday – A Week of Gluten Free Meals

Only including dinners today – The Thai Chicken and Full-Of-Veggies Chili are from a Southern Living Magazine Cookbook. The Lentil Soup is from the Moosewood Cookbook.

Monday

Leftover White Chili & Salad

Tuesday

Thai Chicken Stir Fry & Fruit

Wednesday

Bean & Cheese Tacos + House Church Meal

Thursday

Roast, Roasted Potatoes, Green Beans

Friday

Full-Of-Veggies-Chili & Cornbread

Saturday

Spaghetti & Salad

Sunday

Lentil Soup & Cornbread

Call to Give – Call to Receive

I used to keep a notebook which listed all of the ways the Lord provides for us on a weekly , even daily basis. Things like, Caryl Talley stopping by my home in Stillwater with $200 to give me for “my ministry of hospitality”, or Deborah Green taking me to the Wooden Nickel to buy me an Easter Dress – complete with matching earrings and necklace, Jim Foley shaking Robert’s hand on a regular basis and thereby slipping him a $20 bill so we could go out to eat, Tamyra Mefford buying Kory whole wardrobes of Old Navy clothes for winter and letting me “shop for free” in her store. A year ago at Christmastime, we received $2000 in JC Penney gift cards from our church, so we could buy new living room furniture, and the summer before that they went on a secret campaign to raise money to buy Robert a new truck to replace the nearly 20 year old one he’d been driving since he was a senior in high school! And this doesn’t even begin to tell the amazing story of God’s faithful provision in our life.Well, the story only continues…… Two weeks ago, we received a phone call from a very generous person in our life. The voice on the other end said “I feel very certain that the Lord is telling me to buy you a new car – I really wanted this to be an anonymous gift, but I also want to get you the type of vehicle that you most want and need.” We were speechless, resistant, amazed, grateful, humbled…..

So, here are a few photos of us living in what we feel is the lap of luxury….a new Toyota Sienna – slate colored – fully automatic everything – DVD player – all wheel drive – etc., etc.,etc.
I no longer have a co-pilot, as even Dad wants to watch Facing the Giants on the screen as we ride around town! ( They just fast forward to their favorite scenes.)
And our fun discovery….. the large middle window actually rolls down to the push of a button. Whew – now when it does get hot, those in the back will get air – oh, wait a minute – we have air conditioning now! Wow! Well, we’ll just enjoy the spring breeze until August when it may reach 90!

I remember, years ago, studying Beth Moore’s A Woman’s Heart(about the OT tabernacle) and learning that the priests in Israel had no inheritance in the land. They were dependent on the sacrifices of the people for their food, homes, holiday celebrations, etc. At that time, (and honestly, sometimes today) I resented this calling-was even embarrassed by it. I would rather be the giver than the receiver. It is uncomfortable to be in need.

In 16 years, our finances have never “worked” on paper, but we have never been without. There have been times of struggle and even bitterness over what seemed like a delay on God’s part, but He has ALWAYS provided. I can say today that I am thankful to be in this place of dependence. It is an opportunity to see the power, love, and faithfulness of the Lord.

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-22

Thanks to our earthly giver who was motivated by the Heavenly Giver.
We are so blessed.

Gluten Free Friday

This recipe came from my friend Laura Ito – now Laura Combs. We eat it several times a winter and think of her. If you’ve been to my house, she’s also the one that did the amazing pencil drawings of my family at the top of our stairs. And the kids remember her as their favorite babysitter. Now she has her own baby! We miss you, Laura!

White Chili

3-4 boneless chicken breasts
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper
1-2 4oz cans of green chilies
3 cups chicken broth
1 -2 cans each any white beans
canneline (white kidney beans)
great northern beans
garbanzo beans
navy beans
large white Lima beans
1 can white shoe peg corn

Cook and chop chicken breasts in skillet in oil. Add onion and saute. Transfer to large pot. Add remaining ingredients. (Do not drain beans before adding) Simmer 30 minutes. Garnish with Monterrey Jack cheese to serve.

The Fall of Constantinople

So, we re-enacted the battle between the Ottoman Turks and the city of Constantinople today in my basement. This was the PERFECT lesson for a class of 12 boys – they loved it! I was on for teaching today, and Kory helped me with a wonderful book called Great Battles. It gave details of the battle tactics, weapons, commanders, ships, and forts.

I had already outlined a map of Turkey, Constantinople, and Greece with electrical tape on the basement carpet. The boys’ wooden blocks served as the wall and buildings of the city. (I’m sure you recognize the Hagia Sophia there in the middle!) We used triangular blocks as ships and a handful of pencils to show how Mohammed II literally rolled his ships across land in order to completely surround the city.
We learned about the HUGE cannon that he had built, which could shoot a one ton cannonball over a mile, and that the Muslims had the advantage of not only gunpowder, but soldiers outnumbering the Christians by 10 to 1. And then, the boys were split into small teams and given a set of materials form which to construct their own siege weapon. Later, with mini marshmallow ammo they demonstrated the power of their designs.

Last week, we learned about John Wycliffe and John Huss. For homework the boys wrote an essay on the Bible, and its power to instruct, teach, bring joy, light our path, etc. They each also memorized a verse and recited it aloud today. I was so amazed at their insight and it was wonderful to hear them quoting the verses they had studied. And I myself feel that I am being educated for the first time!

Fire Feeding at the Dentist

Only if you read the very long book review below, or the book itself, will you appreciate the following conversation (if you call call it that – my mouth was wide open and filled with cleaning instruments) with my dental hygienist yesterday……

Hygienist: Your gums are very healthy. I bet you don’t drink soda or eat a lot of refined carbs.

Me: Uh huh

Hygienist: And I’m so pleased to see that you are not on a long list of medications. You realize, don’t you, that most of the ailments that people are on meds for can be resolved with some dietary changes.

Me: Uh huh

Hygienist: Are you a vegetarian?

Me: No. I probably could be, but my husband is a meat and potatoes guy, and I think the protein does my kids some good. (She removed her tools so I could respond.)

Hygienist: Have you seen the movie King Corn?

Me: Uh Uh (No)

Hygienist: Did you know that cows are supposed to eat grass? We just feed them corn because it’s cheap and the government will subsidize it. That’s why we have to give them antibiotics! You have to see this movie!

Me: Uh Huh

Hygienist: High fructose corn syrup is one of the worst things we eat, and it’s in everything! I walk into the grocery store, and all I see is poison! I wish I could shop at Whole Foods for everything, but it’s so expensive.

Me: Uh Huh

Hygienist: Well, your teeth look great and so do your kids’ teeth. If only more people thought like you and me.

Me: Thanks.

Fire and ego successfully fed. Beware.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?
I Corinthians 6:19

When pride comes, then comes dishonor, But with the humble is wisdom.
Proverbs 11:2