My Weekend: Women of Acts & Romans ~ Patrons, Prisoners, Partners, Sellers of Purple

Robert and I are just about to leave for Cape Cod  ~ again.  This time we’ll be there for a weekend retreat and conference for college students and young adults.  Doesn’t really sound like a vacation, and honestly, it’s been a steep uphill climb to make it to the end of this week, but anytime we get a few hours in the car together and a night in a hotel, we consider it a semi-vacation. I can’t wait!

Another reason I look forward to the weekend is the topic I get to speak on during breakout sessions tomorrow afternoon ~ biblical womanhood.  If you know me at all, you know it’s one of my very favorite subjects.  Tomorrow’s breakout session is called “The Romans 16 Woman.”  I was asked to lead a seminar for women that would encourage and empower them in ministry, and though I always feel inadequate to truly communicate the high, high value of women in and to the church, I can’t wait to have the opportunity tomorrow.  Here’s the session description:

The Romans 16 Woman: You’ve probably heard about the Proverbs 31 Woman, but how much do you know about the Romans 16 Women? In this concluding chapter Paul mentions 29 people, believers who courageously and humbly served Christ in the spreading of the gospel. At least 9 of those people are women.  Paul highly valued the ministry of women. So did Jesus. Both of these men recognized the critical and beautiful gift of femininity in and for the church. Come and discover it for yourself!
I’ve read Romans many times, but it was this last time, just a couple of months ago, that I was awestruck by the number of women Paul mentions in his last chapter.  It made me wonder why Paul always gets such a bad rap and labeled and chauvinist and misogynist.  Have his haters not read his most famous and brilliant letter? He obviously loved and cherished women.  He recognized their courage, their wisdom, their gifts.  He called them partners and co-laborers.  He exhorted other believers to recognize these things as well. He commended them to others and called upon the saints to receive them as sisters, mothers, and valued members of the body of Christ.
But so many are stuck on his commands for a woman’s silence, submission, and modesty.  I think it’s time they move past their pouting and victimization and recognize Paul’s word to be God’s Word. Those were real and serious issues in the early church.The truth is that those rebukes and commands are still things that women need to hear and heed. 
So tomorrow, we’ll talk about Phoebe, Priscilla, Mary, Junia, Tryphaena and Tryphosa (sisters?), Persis, the mother of Rufus, the sister of Nereus, and we’ll even touch on Lydia, the God-fearing seller-of-purple, and first convert in Europe.
First convert in Europe.  That’s right.  And Mary was first to see the risen Lord and tell the disciples about it.  And the book of Exodus doesn’t begin with Moses and Pharaoh, it begins with women ~ midwives courageously defying orders to kill babies, as well as the five women involved in the protection and nurturing of Moses.  The saga of Samuel doesn’t begin with Samuel, it begins with his mother, Hannah, fervently praying for a child, receiving and child and dedicating him to the Lord.  The Gospel age begins with Mary and Elizabeth.  And in the age of the early church, Lois and Eunice are recognized for training Timothy in the Scriptures.
I’d say Jesus and Paul considered women necessary members and key players in the kingdom, and I can hardly wait to tell this to the young women tomorrow.
And I also can’t wait to tell my favorite Bible heroine stories either:
Deborah and Jael: Judges 4:1-23 and 5:1-31
The Wise Woman of Abel: 2 Samuel 20: 13-22
The Shunammite Woman: 2 Kings 4:1-37 and 8:1-6
(I owe a debt of gratitude to Barbara Mouser for introducing me to these trends and stories through her wonderful study entitled The Five Aspects of Woman.  She completely changed my understanding of my own created femininity, and therefore my life and relationships with men and God.  You can bet I’ll be taking my books and encouraging the girls to start their own study groups.)
Oh, we’ll heed the call to respect men, to submit to their authority in marriage and in the church, to be silent when it is out of bounds for us to speak, and to adorn ourselves modestly.  Those things will only cause our own gifts and labor to be more fruitful.  And we’ll not throw out the beautiful example of a feminine life given to the Lord in Proverbs 31. (I happen to adore her.) We’ll just also be encouraged by the example of the women of Romans 16, and so many other women of the Bible, to use our gifts and to obey God’s call to participate fully and according to our feminine design in His work of spreading the gospel.
We’ll ask the Lord to make us women who are God-fearing, capable, responsible, visionaries, strong, brave, hard-working, devout, dependable partners, mothers, wives, teachers, nurturers, hospitality-givers, businesswomen (Seller-of-purple, anyone?), risk-takers, skilled-laboreres, wise, practical, earnest, prayerful, faithful, servants.
And those characteristics will all be possible for us because of Christ, His life, His death, His resurrection, His promised return, and His incredible indwelling of our female hearts.
Wow.  I’m overwhelmed.  Pray that the women at the conference will be, too.
(P.S. Robert’s seminar is on sexuality ~ and all the many issues you might imagine go along with that in our current culture.  He has a harder job, as usual.  Pray for him if you think of it!)

There’s Really No Time To Blog, But…

 …here’s a few things that have been happening and are about to. A Holy Spirit prompt and a little time taken from Women’s Boot Camp last night to celebrate the engagement of Becky ~ 2nd from the left.  We had a sparkling cider toast.  Then we got down to business ~ The Doctrine of the Trinity. That’s right.

 We returned from Cape Cod on Sunday evening and hit the ground running.  Before that though, we enjoyed a whole day in our pajamas in front of the TV at a friend’s home there on the Cape.  It was rainy and the perfect day to do nothing but sit in front of the TV.  We watched the UT game (during which I attempted to study) and then the Baylor game, which was the wildest, craziest, most amazing come-back of a game I have ever seen. (And I know FOR SURE that I have NEVER watched that much football in one day.)

Kory sent us a picture form where he was sitting.  The final score was 61-58, and it was really just unbelievable.  And you know, I don’t really care about football that much, but this whole winning season makes me so happy ~ for Kory, who gets to be a student there during a super-exciting time, and for our friends the McCaws, who are seeing the fruit of 11 years of hard work in recruiting coaches and players of character and even Christlikeness which draws attention to the Christian University and hopefully to Christ on some level.
But that Baylor-TCU game was an experience.  Felt like I needed to sleep for about 12 hours afterward.
I enjoyed another long run along Cape Cod Canal this time ~ so beautiful!
And we went to Provincetown, which is the very tip of the Cape.  It is sort of a strange place to visit, has an odd feel, and a bit of a strange mix of people, but the view of the entire Cape from there is a must-see and we also enjoyed some of the shops and cafes. (Care must be taken, though, in browsing.  Some places are R-rated.)

 We climbed the Pilgrim Monument Tower to see it.  116 steps to the top.

In this pic you can see both the tip and the curve of the Cape back toward the rest of the state.

That’s all for now.  I’m overwhelmed by the weekend’s activities:

  • An all-day field trip to Boston with 30 homeschoolers tomorrow
  • An all-day teen girls’ conference on Saturday with Kayla and a few moms and friends
  • A Saturday evening church gathering at a local restaurant to kick off the 15 year anniversary weekend celebration
  • A combined worship service and catered lunch afterward with lots of folks from out of town here to celebrate 15 years with us.
  • A haircut (very important ~ ha!)

All good stuff, but my mid-term exam (due Monday by midnight) and the research paper rough draft (due next weekend) and the need to prep to speak at a weekend retreat next weekend have me totally overwhelmed.  I could hardly focus to pray or read my Bible this morning and I kinda feel like running away.

Actually, I am about to run away ~ all the way down the street to Barnes and Noble.  Going to open up my class notes and start studying and organizing them.  Hoping to get at least a couple of hours in.  Cooper and Kayla are going with me.  We all have work to do in order to have a day off for a field trip tomorrow, and, and, and…

Trying to meditation this:

When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.
Psalm 94:19

Also ~ I so much want to write about our 15 years here as a church, and the church planting adventure we’ve been on for that long, so maybe it will just be a bit delayed ~ like maybe until we’re 16 or 17 years old ~ who knows?!

Okay ~ bye for now!

Pray for me?

Cape Octobers & Good Things

So…October 8 came and went, and nothing out of the ordinary happened.  Maybe the “good thing” that was supposed to happen is something we don’t know about yet, or maybe it was a call to count our current blessings ~ good things that we may be taking for granted. Admittedly, the “prophecy” sounded like it was something big, new, and exciting, but nothing of the sort really occurred.
Lots of regular “good things” have happened, though.
We did have a safe drive to Cape Cod on Tuesday night. We arrived around 11pm, got a good night’s sleep, and didn’t have to set alarms for early morning wake-ups. We’ve been coming to Cape Cod every October for many years thanks to the generosity of a sweet family in our church.  It’s been a good time to take a break after all the craziness of the end-of-summer and fall church activities.  When you live in a college town and have a congregation full of students August and September are full speed ahead.
Robert’s back is just about completely healed.  His constant pain is almost no more.  He’s even been able to run a bit, but not with me on the pavement yet.  Hopefully soon.  This healing is such a good thing ~ something we’ve prayed for daily since December.  And it’s all come about in the last week.  We are so grateful.

Important communication happened on the 8th.  Maybe even breakthrough communication that has possible benefits for everyone involved, granting growth, maturity and freedom.  And this was communication with several different folks about several different things ~ hard, burdensome things, and wonderful, celebratory things.

The beach is always a good thing ~ especially the beach on a sunny, blue sky day.  We took a walk in the sun and wind and enjoyed the refreshment that comes with being out of your usual surroundings and away from your usual responsibilities.  Shoes off, sand between your toes, sunshine on your face. Good things.

This week is an “off” week for Classical Conversations and homeschooling and that’s a good thing for  Cooper and Kayla ~ and me.  They put in a lot of hard work during the week to meet deadlines and complete assignments, so it’s nice for them to have a bit of an academic and mental vacation.  It also happens to be fall break for my seminary, and while it’s nice to have a reprieve from a heavy reading load and weekly quizzes, I do have a mid-term exam next week and a research paper due at the end of the month.  It’s okay though.  I really love what I’m studying and researching.  Good things.

Thursday morning, before we went to the beach, I went for a long run.  Running is such a good thing for me.  It’s a gift to have health and strength, to be outside in a beautiful place, and to have time to think and pray. I’ve also been memorizing Romans on my runs.  Amazing how memorizing it and therefore meditating on it can be so different than just reading it.  It feels like I understand it so much better.  I read Hebrews 9 and 10 before my run.  I love Hebrews ~ maybe more than Romans, I don’t know.  And what I read this morning is relevant to my research paper.  Wow. Good, good things.
I didn’t realize how close I was to the beach at the mid-point of my run!
Speaking of running, I received the gift of new running shoes while here at the Cape.  Church Planter Catalyst (Robert’s new 2nd job) wives were each given a $100 gift card recently. I knew exactly what I would buy.  My old running shoes had over 1300 miles on them, and so it was time.(Actually, it’s time at 500 miles, so this was overdue.)  The local Sports Authority had just my size and brand. This morning’s 8 mile run felt especially good in these new Asics, and they are perfectly timed with the training I’ll be doing in the next couple of weeks for a half-marathon with my friend Betsy.
We’re missing Kory on this trip, but here’s a throw-back to 2008 when all five of us were here, and we played a fun round of miniature golf.  We did talk to him on Wednesday night.  He was super-exhausted and super-excited all at the same time with things join on at school.

Tuesday night he interviewed Ian McCaw, the Athletic Director at Baylor, in front of a crowd of 300 students in the Lead Living-Learning Community. His day leading up to the evening event was completely chaotic, and he sent out a desperate plea for prayers via text early in the day. We prayed for him and for the event, and it ended up going well ~ all of it.  Good things.

So, lots of good things this week. Not of the prophetic dream sort, but still our life is often overflowing with good things that I never stop and acknowledge.

We still have three more days at the Cape, and it’s good to be away. When we return home, life will be very full and fast-paced.  It will be so good, but so busy. For now…we’re soaking up the good rest and good times with each other.

Mondays, Prophetic Dreams, Piper Impersonations, & Senior Pics

Real pic from Monday’s morning run.

 I like Monday mornings, and yesterday’s was especially enjoyable. We were up just after 6am and enjoyed some time in a quiet house (before teens were awake) to read our Bibles and pray ~ Robert in his office, me at the dining room table. I guess I should say that the morning became enjoyable, because in those first moments alone with the Lord, there were fears and tears. The tears were a surprise, because I thought I was free from the minor disappointment. The fears were regarding something still yet to come.  Robert was told a few weeks back that something good was going to happen to him, to us on October 8.  It was a prophetic dream by a somewhat confirmed prophetic-dreamer.  I write it here partly so together we can know if there was really truth to this fore and forth-telling. We will be waking up on Cape Cod tomorrow for a mini-vacation, so maybe that’s the good thing, but that’s happened regularly in October for years.

  I think my fears involve the fact that sometimes God’s “good” is different than what  I might define as good.  Sometimes His good feels really bad for a time.

The view from where I sit at church on Sunday mornings.
I couldn’t get the picture to do the actual scene justice.

 What happened though when the tears and prayers ended and the Bible reading began was Hebrews 6 and the reminder of anchored hope. And as usual, I didn’t go searching my concordance for “hope verses.” They were just there in the next chapters of Hebrews which I’ve been reading on my way to Revelation.  I’m almost able to say I’ve read through the Book from cover-to-cover.  I’ve never done it that way before, and I highly recommend it. Have I told you that He meets you in His Word wherever you are reading and speaks to whatever it is you’re needing?  Well, it’s true.

For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying “I will surely bless you and I will surely multiply you”… In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath so… we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.  This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us…
Hebrews 6: 13-20
Totally unedited!  I had to stop running and capture these bright leaves
as well as the view of the path above. My running app even lets me store photos
along with the statistics from each run.
In Jesus.
Who has gone before us in all things.
Sure and steadfast.
Promises of God unable to be broken.
Purposes unchangeable.
Take refuge in this.
Our soul is anchored in this.
I need not mistrust the “good.”  I need not fear the “bad” that the “good” is sometimes accomplished through.  His promise to me will not ever change.  In this I can take refuge.
So, I guess I’ll have to let you know what happens tomorrow.  There will be a “blood moon” I hear. Ugh.  I may be struggling with anger at the prophecy giver, because of the anxiety he’s produced however unintentional he may have been. 
But Monday morning was still good.  The quiet time was interrupted by the desperate need for a haircut by Cooper who had big plans for a hike and lunch with friends and a senior photo shoot later in the day. So there was prayer, Bible, hot tea, and a homemade (yikes!) haircut before leaving the house for my run and Robert’s Planet Fitness workout around 7:30am. (His back is getting better!  If you prayed, thank you.)
Kayla planted a tree on Monday, too! It was our favor from a wedding over the weekend.
Perfect timing to replace the one we said goodbye to last week.

 After an hour of exercise, Robert and I headed to Whole Foods for our typical Monday morning breakfast.  It was good to talk through the weekend and the week ahead over a smoothie and eggs and their delicious maple smoked bacon.  On the ride home, I got to hear about the John Piper sermon Robert had listened to while on the elliptical and treadmill.  It was on what Mr. Piper believes is the best chapter in the entire Bible.  Can you guess?

My first guess was Romans 3. Not quite.  Then John 15.  Nope. I should have known to stick with Romans.

The answer was Romans 8.  Robert was in complete agreement, and I suppose I am too.

I could not control my laughter, though, as Robert began to impersonate Mr. Piper and his Romans 8 endorsement all the way home.  Complete with hand gestures (as much as possible while driving) and booming voice intonations.  If you’re wanting a John Piper at your next worship service, and the real pastor in unavailable, my husband is your man.  So funny.  And laughter is such a good gift on a Monday morning or anytime really.

 Back at home an endless list of tasks awaited, the most pressing of which was apple butter making. The apples had been simmering in the crock pot for 18 or so hours, and needed processing. (Maybe I’ll share the photos and recipe on Friday. Unless…) Then there were seminary assignments, and emails, and phone calls, and an appointment for Coop’s senior photos with our sweet and talented friend, Ify. It felt like my 7 mile run turned into a marathon once back home. Thankfully we have a week off from homeschooling and Classical Conversations!

Somewhere in the middle of the day, I sat down to check email and Facebook and this was one of the first things to pop up on my news feed.  More hope. He wanted me to really believe it, I guess. He has this way of gracefully reinforcing the pertinent and necessary truths.

Later, we picked up Ify and headed to Northampton for photos downtown and photos at Smith College.  The weather was perfect yesterday, as I’m sure you could already tell.  And speaking of perfect…just take a look at this young man and these photos.  I couldn’t be more pleased, and these are only a few teasers from the hundreds of photos taken yesterday.

 Classic Cooper is what these are. His good looks and laid back personality perfectly captured. So thankful for him in my life and thankful for these treasures that will help us remember this special year of his life. He’s got big, exciting plans for after graduation that I haven’t told many of you about.  Maybe soon!

And modeling for American Eagle is not one of them.  At least not that we know of.

So, tomorrow is the 8th ~ the day of good news, good happenings supposedly. Last night I dreamt that someone close to me died.  Kayla also had a dream about this person dying not long ago. And I wonder, where do these dreams come from?  The proclaimed prophetic ones about good things to come.  The terrifying ones that leave you paralyzed in a dark room in the middle of the night too scared to even go and check the cell phones plugged in downstairs to see if you missed the grievous phone call. (All was well.)

I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I know a lot of things I hope it will not bring, but I know that the unchangeable God who says “yes” to every promise in Jesus is the only safe refuge every day of the week.

Gluten Free/Paleo Friday: Chicken Tenders With Creamy Cider Sauce

Last Saturday was the perfect day for apple picking.  It was even hot outside, which I always hope for in September.  We went to an orchard we’ve never been to before called Cold Spring Orchard which is actually the one run by UMass.  I remember having someone from the orchard come and speak at The Amherst Woman’s Club years ago.  He brought samples from a large variety of apples.  It was my first time to try a Honeycrisp and a Macoun.  Both are delicious.

 I don’t remember the variety we picked last weekend, but they were large.  Very different from the Macintoshes we typically pick.

Kayla and Cooper were thrilled about picking apples, or was it that they were thrilled about what came after apple picking (a trip to the mall) and just decided it was a necessary evil?  Oh, they really didn’t mind it at all, but it’s so funny to watch the transformation over the years ~ from toddler giddiness to teenage nonchalance.  At least they don’t try and climb the trees anymore and throw apples at each other. Actually, I’m a little surprised about that last part.

 The big apples filled our two half-bushel bags in no time at all.  Robert headed home to finish up sermon and other work for Sunday, and the kids and I headed to the “big” mall to meet up with the McCullah family girls in search of wedding clothes for this weekend.  We did not have any success, and I told my crew that the six mile run I’d been on earlier that morning was a breeze compared to walking the mall for four hours with five teen and tween girls and one baby.  Oh my.  And to leave empty-handed….

The wedding is tomorrow, and none of us have any clue as to what we’ll be wearing.
Monday night we returned to our tradition of having Lois over to watch The Voice.  She made bouquets for the bridesmaids while watching.  I made some homemade applesauce and also a paleo version of this recipe from about three years ago for our dinner together.  The only differences are that I did not “bread” the chicken tenders, but rather baked and broiled them, and that I substituted coconut milk for the heavy cream.
This pic is of the GF “breaded” version from a few years back ~ and before the cream was added and sauce thickened.
And here’s the paleo version:
Chicken Tenders with Creamy Cider Sauce
10-15 chicken tenderloins
4 Tbsp coconut oil
1 onion, finly chopped
1 apple ~ peeled, cored, sliced thin
1 tsp thyme
2 cups apple cider (not juice)
1-2 cans coconut milk (or cream) ~ I used two because I wanted extra cream and sauce overall.
1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
For chicken: Place tenderloins on a baking sheet.  Rub with olive oil (or coconut oil) and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake in a 375 degree oven on middle rack for 15 minutes.  Turn the broiler on after fifteen minutes and move chicken to top rack.  Broil about 2 minutes each side.
For Sauce: Heat coconut oil in skillet adding onions, apple slices, and thyme.  Sauté 3-5 minutes until apple and onion are softened. Add cider and bring to a boil.  Keep boiling until liquid is reduced a bit.  Stir in coconut milk (or cream), dijon mustard, and salt and pepper.  Continue simmering and stirring until the cider sauce is slightly thickened.
Spoon sauce over chicken tenderloins to serve.
Our side dishes were sweet potatoes and sautéed kale.
Enjoy ~ and have a great weekend.  We’ll be rehearsing for the wedding tonight and spending most all of our day wedding-ing tomorrow with a wonderful couple from our church.  Kayla and her friends will be serving during the cocktail/appetizer hour as well as throughout dinner.  We’re praying for no rain and a beautiful outdoor-among-the-gorgeous-foliage ceremony.  S’mores and camp fire will be the grand finale if the weather cooperates.
Now…to find something to wear for all the boys and girls here at my house!