One Phrase

Friday, May 30, 2014

We hear it all the time, "I just want God's will for my life."

Jesus Himself said, "For I have come down from heaven, not to do y own will but the will of Him who sent me." (John 6:38)

He also said, "Did you not know that I must be about my Father's business?" (Luke 2:49b)

And that makes us wonder...WHAT is the Father's will? 

Through His Word, God makes His will clear. 

Jonathan Edwards put it this way, "It appears that all that is ever spoken of in the Scripture as an ultimate end of God's works is included in that one phrase 'the glory of God.'" 
I'll give you a few examples:

Colossians 1:16 "For by Him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things were created through Him and for Him."

He created ALL things...For Himself. 

1 John 2:12 "I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for His name's sake." 

He forgives sins...For His name's sake. 

Isaiah 48: 11 "For my own sake, for my own sake I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another."

Here God was speaking to Israel and promising to defer His anger in order that He would not cut them off...For His own sake, so that His glory would be seen.
God acts, God sent His Son to act, God saved you to act. In all these things He is working. He has a will and that is that He would be glorified. 

Whoever you are, wherever you are, God DOES have a will for you life. He calls you to know Him and He leads you in living for His glory. 

Can your plans today be summed up in glorifying God? 

Oh, you have a floor to mop? Or maybe a letter to mail? There is good news! Glorifying God does not ONLY pertain to things that seem in themselves "holy". 

Remember that quote I shared before by Samuel Taylor Coleridge? He said, "Christianity is not a theory or a speculation, but a life; not a philosophy of life, but a life and a living process." 

Paul says it like this in 1 Corinthians 10:31, "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."

God's will is NOT far off or unknowable!

His will is that He would be glorified.

Jesus came for His Father's glory and in His coming He made it possible for us to live with that same purpose.

We live for that glory by reading His Word and remaining in communion with Him...Our lives stay centered around Him. With Jesus we say, "I must do His will." With Jesus we shine because, "I delight in His law." 

His glory is plain to us and made known through us and THAT is His will in all that He has ever done. 

A Motto

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

April 30, 2014

We have seen that Jesus' purpose and sustenance was doing the Father's will.

From our own lives we know that it takes more than purposing to do something in order to continue doing it. 

Isaiah 50:4-5 tell us what that something more was in Jesus' life...Jesus stayed faithful to His purpose of doing the Father's will and clung to it as to food because morning by morning He was awakened by the Father to be taught by Him. 

John Snyder summed it up quite well with these words, "His food was to do the will of the Father, and He understood that a life of obedience could only be sustained by having an open ear to all that the Father was saying."

The Father's will and the Father's words kept Jesus. 

In Luke 2:49, Jesus says, "...Did you not know that I must be about my Father's business?"

In Psalm 40:8 we see His heart, "I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart." 

Again John Snyder writes, "Here the whole service of Jesus is described: I must. I delight."

April 28, 2014

The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks, "What is the chief end of man?" The answer is this: "The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever."

As children of God, we too are here to do the Father's will.

Like Jesus, we need to have an open ear to all that the Father is saying.

We too can live by the motto: I must. I delight. 

It is true. We ARE here because we MUST glorify God and we HAVE been made alive to the DELIGHT that is enjoying Him forever.

Christian, delighting in God and doing His will are your calling. The Holy Spirit is with you to help you and to lead you in that Word of truth that will preserve you in this purpose that is yours in Christ.

You have the purpose, you have the treasure, you have the Helper. Open your ears to be taught by God by setting your eyes on His Word.

The Circle: Goals

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

May 8, 2014

Kiki and Samantha are hosting this month's "The Circle" link up. They've decided that the theme this month is GOALS. I don't think I've set any real goals since last fall. I did very well at keeping them and I think I'm ready to start "working" on some more again.

* Learn more about growing green beans. Over the last few weeks I've planted cucumbers, sweat peas, green beans, and morning glories from seeds. I came home yesterday to find so many sprouts coming up and that makes me pretty excited!

* Continue reading through the books on my list. Goodreads is so much fun. Not only do I keep track of what I've read and what I want to read, but I also get to find out about new books and the books that my friends are reading.

* Keep writing in concentrated sessions. I started really writing this spring and I've kept it up. College was full of writing, writing, and more writing and I've missed it.

* Begin the Bible memory program that I just learned about over the weekend. It involves an index card for each book of the Bible. You write the outline of the book on one side and references to the verses you've memorized with key word prompts on the other. You go over one card every day and read a Psalm or a Proverb. At the end of the year you've gone over the whole Bible like 12 times and you've read through the Psalms and Proverbs twice (I think). This would happen alongside of whatever other study you are doing and will give you a functioning timeline of the Bible. You can add geography and dates eventually and then you'll really have a better grasp on what God's been up to over the years!

*Host a giveaway on this little space. Keep your eyes open, because I've got a couple of things up my sleeve for this summer!

* I'd love to throw at least one cook out a month over the summer. It depends on PLANS, but I love gathering people together and filling them up with good food!

What are YOUR goals right now?

In Its Time

Just Not For Me

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Before I begin this review I want to say one thing: 
I don't usually read historical fiction, especially when it has to do with women. 
This review is being written by someone who is picky with what historical fiction she does read.

"While Love Stirs" caught my eye because it was all about a woman in the early 1900's and her adventures in cooking. After graduating from cooking school, Charlotte Gregory ends up traveling around for a gas company in order to demonstrate their new stove. I was excited to read about her travels, lectures, and demonstrations.

Lorna Seilstad did her research! My favorites parts involved any mention of cooking that was made throughout the pages of this book.

As for the "problems" I had with it:

As with most pieces of historical fiction written for women, the love interest was front and center. In this case, Charlotte has two men vying for her attention and one man from her past whose memory is causing her to falter between the two.

Since it was the early 1900's feminism came out strong...Each woman seemed to have a point to prove. The point is still trying to be proved by many women today and quite frankly, I just find it tiring.

I was 200 pages in before I was hooked. By the time I made it to page 230, I was back to wondering if I was ever going to really get into it.

Even though this book just wasn't for me, there were a few elements that I enjoyed:

My favorite character was the widowed southern lady named Molly who was hired to be Charlotte's traveling companion. Molly has been around the block a time or two and has a southern saying fit for every occasion. She's perfect!

Charlotte's passion for cooking came through with her willingness to whip something up even at the oddest hours of the day. Hearing about what she was making and even reading some of the tips and tricks was very interesting to me.

Seilstad knows her stuff! She's just writing for a different kind of woman than I am.

If this sounds like a book for you, feel free to pick up your copy HERE

What's your favorite genre?

Has there been a book that you decided just wasn't for you?

* I was provided with a review copy of this book by Revell. All thoughts are my own honest opinion.


Friday, May 23, 2014

May 14, 2014

I have a question for you... Why did you wake up today? Why did you get up and get dressed? What is your goal for this weekend?

Now let me ask you another question...Why was Jesus on earth? Why did He get up and get ready each day? 

The best answers for these questions will be found in the Bible. 

In John 4:32-34, we read,  "But He said to them, 'I have food to eat that you do not know about.' So the disciples said to one another, 'Has anyone brought Him something to eat?' Jesus said to them, 'My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish His work.

Food is that essential element that gives us both strength and determination. Without it we are weak and pretty much have one goal, which is, to get food NOW. 

In John 6:38 Jesus says these words, "For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of Him who sent me." 

DOING the Father's will was EVERYTHING to Jesus. 

Jesus was on earth to do the Father's will.

Jesus woke up and got ready each day to do the Father's will. 

May 14, 2014

Actually, the same is true for you! Once we have been made alive in Him we can see that just like Him, our life is to do the Father's will.

Think about your unrest as a call to eat the food that is doing the Father's will.

Think about each day and getting ready and even weekends as wrapped up in doing the Father's will. 

That's all for today but I'll be writing about WHAT the Father's will is as well as HOW we are to continually accomplish it soon. 

My Writing Process

Thursday, May 22, 2014

My friend Jess  invited me to take part in this series where bloggers are sharing their own personal writing process. You can read more about the tour as well as Jess's post by clicking HERE

What am I working on? 

I have a few things going...The thing that I'm most excited about is that I'm writing from my heart more. I've taken some time most mornings to get some important words out.  I'm writing posts as the ideas come to me and scheduling them ahead of time. They're all inspired by Scripture and quite a few are further inspired by someone else who wrote from their time in God's Word. 

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I've never felt that my writing was that different from anyone else's. The thing that sets mine apart is that it is mine. It's written from my perspective, in my voice, and it is fueled by my own walk with God. What I have to say isn't new, but I've been learning that it is mine to say. 

*no timer here...My brother graciously snapped this one for me.*
 Why do I write what I do?

When I really write it's because I've seen something that I want to help others see. There is a life and there are passions behind this kind of sharing.

 How does your writing process work?

My writing process itself is always different. If I'm blogging I usually sit down, crank out a post, read it a few times, pick pictures to go with it, and then read it a few more times. Anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours later and the post is live. 

As I mentioned earlier, I've spent more time in concentrated writing lately which has resulted in some posts being scheduled as much as two weeks in advance. These posts will be put together slower and will receive a bit more editing.

This blog only ever sees a portion of what I write. I have folders and notebooks and journals and scraps of paper and word documents keeping track of the rest of my writing. 

Almost all of my writing begins on a scrap of paper. I think this started back in elementary school with those brainstorming exercises my teachers had us do before writing an essay. 

If my goal is to produce a longer piece, I collect books that I need to read or that have influenced my thoughts on the particular subject. If I'm writing something biographical, I print any articles or letters that may be helpful. 

That scrap of paper and those resources find their way onto index cards and an outline (sometimes on paper and sometimes in a word document) is formed. 

From there a rough draft is produced, usually in one sitting. Getting that rough draft out is my favorite part. If you're a writer, you know that THOSE words can leave you trembling and uneasy because they are like letting out the biggest, longest, deepest breath. 

I let the draft sit for a few days and then my next favorite part begins. I've always loved editing because of the polished result it can bring. 

Editing leads to a piece that is ready to be shared and that's when you just have to let it go. 

Whatever and wherever I am writing there are a few things that are always the same. If it's going to be good, I have to be alone in a quiet room or with other people who are writing too. There is no music. The only sounds are those coming from a distance. 

So, that's what goes on behind the scenes of Through * For * By. 

What is YOUR writing process like?

Oh, and the tour isn't over yet..

My friend Amy is also taking a turn today!

Monica @ Prince Snow Farm

Next Thursday, Monica at Prince Snow Farm will be posting. I discovered her blog years ago and have always loved popping over for visits! She has an amazing garden and sometimes she even posts about the Cape Cod area. You'll have to look around her blog while you're there to read her post next Thursday!

Happy Writing!

The Strength

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

April 25, 2014

Was it helpful to stop and realize that as Christians, we are what God guaranteed Jesus?

Does it change things when you see that as you live by God's strength with your hope set in Him that you are proof - even to Jesus - of God's faithfulness?

I hope so!

It changed things for Jesus. He did all that He did for His Father's glory and He was able to do it because He was convinced that His Father was faithful.

In Isaiah 50, we see exactly what got Jesus through His ministry on this earth.

In Isaiah 50:4-5 Jesus says, "The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I turned not backward."

Jesus is saying that He was taught by God .  Jesus says that He is always listening to the Father who opened His ear.

In Isaiah 50:6 Jesus says, "I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting."

That's just SOME of the torment He endured...He knew it was coming and He knew that it was going to take His cooperation.

Jesus tells us about what it was that gave Him the ability to go through with it...By now He has been assured that God is faithful and guaranteed that His work will not be in vain. It was not you and I that got Him through...Isaiah 50:7 says, "But the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame." 

Jesus lived and was killed and rose again and ascended because He was driven by these words: "but the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced"! 

Disgraced and put through terrifying things, He wasn't really disgraced. The Lord God helps Him, the one who is faithful would make everything right.

Christian, piece of living proof, your Savior pressed on with His "face set like a flint" because He knew that God was His strength!

At the heart of Jesus' faithfulness was the Father - His glory, His Word, His strength, His plan, and His faithfulness. 

He is YOUR guarantee and you are His guarantee.

God is faithful.

P.S. Remember that these words were recorded about 700 years
 before Jesus Christ was born to the virgin Mary! 

Twosday: Back in Time

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A simple peony.

 I first discovered peonies in Jay's garden during my "goodbye for now" dinner in August of 2010. Whenever I see them I am reminded of that dinner and those days. (I just transplanted the one in the picture last Friday. It's from Jay's yard.)

An ornamental box.

It takes me back to the foot of my Grandma and Ghiddu's bed. Those were the days of sports on TV, fruit parties, Nick Jr. magazines, car rides, and the most peace I suspect I'll ever know on this side of heaven. The inside is lined with velvet and because there's no way you'd know, it says, "Hello!" when you open it.

Two things that take me back in time. 

Twentieth Street

The Scenic Route: Turning Out

Monday, May 19, 2014

EB White 
Morning Glories 

Do you ever have a weekend that goes nothing like you thought it would? That's about how mine just went!

My goal for Friday was to finish the laundry for the week and get the rest of my cutting flowers planted.

Jay needed help digging out peonies and echinacea... I went over there with my brother and sister and we joined him in the pulling party. When we were done he invited us in for ice cream complete with hot fudge and butterscotch!

We headed home and I had them watch for snakes while I put a bunch of the new plants into the ground.

Saturday I kept my garden areas watered, worked on some blog stuff, finished the laundry, went to the library, and watched the end of Driving Miss Daisy. (I cried...)

I'm writing this after lunch on Sunday. So far today I've spent some time reading EB White's "This is New York", whipping together a jello salad for a potluck, and getting rid of some clutter.

This weekend was supposed to be crazy and busy and include a trip out of town...It turned out to be the perfect weekend at home with time to accomplish so many things that just needed doing.

How was YOUR weekend? 

What are you looking forward to this week?

A Perfect Kind of Novel

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Sometimes life just calls for a good story. You know - the kind where life is described without any great mystery or conflict or real reason. That's what you'll find with Cathleen Armstrong's book "One More Last Chance".

Sure, Chris moved himself to a small town and bought up a restaurant that he aims at making his own. Then there's Sarah who moved back to that same small town after going away to college because her family and a fresh start were waiting for her. As it goes with all good stories, these main characters are each surrounded by an entourage that brings the plot the perfect amount of substance.

"One More Last Chance" is set in modern day New Mexico where Armstrong has roots of her own. From what I can tell she did a very nice job at giving her readers a taste of the southwest. You'll find yourself rooting for Chris, coming to love Carlos (the cook at his restaurant), and wanting to give Rita (the main waitress) a reminder that maybe she doesn't know everything.

Many of us will relate to Sarah. She's a family girl who decided that there really was "no place like home". We meet Sarah just as she is preparing for her first year of teaching beginning with a room full of 2nd graders. She settles back into things and begins touching the life of one special little girl long before there's even a hint that summer is over.

If you enjoy a good story with a plot that pretty much goes just as you hope it will, you should give "One More Last Chance" a chance to give you something new to read!

You can pick up a copy or learn more about the book by clicking HERE.

You should know that this book does not stand alone. It is the second book in Armstrong's "A Place to Call Home" series. The third book is due out next spring!

* I was provided with a review copy of this book by Revell. All thoughts are my own honest opinion. 

Living Proof

Friday, May 16, 2014

May 6, 2014

In Isaiah 49 we get a closer look at the relationship between God the Father and Jesus Christ. In this chapter, we learn exactly what it was that gave Jesus the wherewithal to be obedient to God, even to death, and that death on a cross!

This morning out on the patio as the sky was blue and the birds were singing, something HUGE happened.

Isaiah 49:4 says, "But I said, 'I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my right is with the LORD, and my recompense with my God."

Did you see that? Jesus was "worried" (if you can call it that) that everything He did was for NOTHING, for VANITY, and it was done all in VAIN.

Do you know what the Father's answer is?

In Isaiah 49: 6 He says, "It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth." 

He goes on at the end of verse 7, "...Kings shall see and arise; princes, and they shall prostrate themselves; because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you." 

April 30, 2014

Of these verses, John Snyder wrote "He has guaranteed His Son that countless multitudes from every nation will love and worship Him! With this before us, we can continue serving. Duties are ours; results are the Lord's."

I realized something...

We are what God guaranteed Jesus! 

Do you understand what that means?

Your salvation, your life, your suffering, your joy...They make you part of what God guaranteed to Jesus as He assured Him that His strength was NOT poured out for nothing. 

Christian, as you live and love and serve in THIS hope that is yours because of Christ, knowing that God is working, you are PROOF - even to Jesus- that God is faithful! 

I hope this encourages your soul like it did mine.

Go read Isaiah 49. While you're at it check out 42, 50, and 53...I've always said Ephesians was my favorite book, but over the last few years Isaiah is catching up.

What I Learned in April

Thursday, May 15, 2014

April 28, 2014

* I learned that you CAN bake on wax paper. Apparently the rest of the world has heard about this, but it wasn't until a recipe mentioned it that my Mom and I said, "Oooooh?!?!?" Honestly, I'm still a little skeptical about this whole thing.

* I learned about growing morning glories - plant them as early as you can, they take a while to take off - then watch out, soak and file the seeds before you plant them (I didn't file mine, but I am soaking them).

* I learned that garden statues have a purpose. A lady at a nursery told my friend Shauna that she needed to give her clematis plants plenty of sun and that she needed to find a statue to keep the roots of the plant in the shade.

* Dennis showed me (and Quincey) horseradish that he had growing in his garden, dug a big on up in order to split it into two plants, and then gave us a little taste test of fresh horseradish.

* "The Culture-Wise Family" by Ted Baehr taught me that a 20 second video clip impacts 12 month olds long after they see the clip. Research shows that these infants actually reacted to toys differently based on what kinds of clips they were shown.

* A short bike ride is fun. My brother and I started going on bike rides a couple of times a week. I'm really enjoying our chats!

* Less time doing whatever = more books read! I read quite a few books in April and yet it never really seemed like I spent much time reading. Magic, I tell you.

That was April...

It also included a cooking weekend at the Ranch where things felt just like old times.

Our church hosted a man from Jews for Jesus which was so interesting. The man that came reminded me that as we minister to people we're actually only really able to work in the lives where God is already working.

April was a month where Jay dropped in every now and then just because. He'd be out for a drive, grab a coffee, and just pop in for a visit.

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Layered Chocolate Cake

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A few years ago I started offering to make special desserts or cakes for the birthdays that happen at this house. None of us are huge cake eaters so this has resulted in things like cheese cakes, pies, and cakes that are covered in so many things you forget that there's actually cake involved.

I'm always keeping my eye out for ideas to suggest. It was just days before my sister's birthday and we still had NO idea what her dessert would be. At the last minute I remembered a "chocolate peanut butter something or other" that I saw on Picky-Palate. I suggested it to my sister and got the green light.

This cake is kind of crazy. It is huge and pretty rich and comes topped with a bunch of reese's peanut butter cups. We learned that a very skinny piece is best!

 I made the cake layers on Thursday morning as soon as the breakfast mess was cleaned up.  It was really simple.You can get the a printable recipe by clicking HERE.

The batter tasted very much like brownies which made me slightly nervous because that would be A LOT of brownie.

As it turned out it was nothing like brownie which was a good thing in this case.


I made the cookie dough layer a few hours before the party after I got the dinner casserole ready to go.

The cookie dough was actually pretty even when all was said and done. I pressed it out on the bottom of a 9in cake pan, set the cake pan on the cake and then gently pried it off. 

The cookie dough stays raw and does not include any eggs. It's what caught my eye when I originally saw this recipe!

This frosting is THE BEST frosting I have EVER made or tasted. Like, THE BEST. It's butter and powdered sugar and  coccoa powder and melted chocolate chips.

 I melted my chocolate chips in the microwave and I added a touch of milk (maybe a teaspoon) to the frosting to thin it down just a bit.

This Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Chocolate Layer Cake is fancy enough to serve at something as special as a 16th Birthday Party and yet simple enough not to add any extra stress to the day!

When I had my first piece I thought I might make it again with very thin layers of cake, but a few days later I cut my second piece EXTRA skinny and it was perfect!

A Life

Monday, May 12, 2014

Taken as we flew by the trees and the sunset on the way home last night...I know it's blurry, but I kind of like it!

Last night I went to bed FULL. Full from the joys that God has placed in my life...

I've been gardening and using things from my garden.

I've been chatting with friends via e-mail and skype and phone. 

I've had some good times with my family even in spite of the imperfection that is five people living under one roof. 

Yesterday was Mother's Day and that little day was part of what made me feel so FULL. That one day represents countless LIFETIMES that have been and are being spent on one of the most admirable accomplishments of which humans are capable. 

I don't take having my Mom in my life lightly. For one thing, that was never something guaranteed to me. One choice at the beginning of my life or one choice as my life progressed and she could have been rid of me for good. Somehow she stuck it out, she kept the baby and then she kept the kid. For another thing, God does not guarantee anything. Life is HIS and He does with it as He pleases. 

Since it was Mother's Day, I tried to make the day special for my Mom (I'll tell you more about that later). We went with our family to a small production of The Wizard of Oz. The day was long, but fun.

Saturday I read and wrote and we continued the Emma "marathon". There was a trip to run  some errands and pick up groceries. 

Sometimes life is the same, ordinary, predictable cycle and sometimes that cycle just leaves you FULL. 

Before bed I read these words by Samuel Taylor Coleridge:

"Christianity is not a theory or a speculation, but a life;
not a philosophy of life, but a life and a living process."

I'll be coming back to that quote for a while...It says it ALL so well. This life, this living process, was GIVEN to us by God, the one who created us! We can be sure. In Him, we are ALIVE!

I also read these words from 1 Peter 4:11 

"...whoever speaks as one who speaks oracles of God; 
whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies-
in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. 
To Him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."

That's it...I've been "feeling" FULL, because I am full! 

Dangerous Desperation

Saturday, May 10, 2014

"Fatal Exchange" by Lisa Harris was a book that I could not put down! Harris is an excellent writer and did not waste a single page getting things started. I read the book about 100 pages at a time in just three sittings!

The book begins in modern day Atlanta with Mason Taylor who works as an undercover police officer. You will join Mason in attempting to figure out who is behind the kidnappings happening in Atlanta, before it is too late.

Although it takes place in a city that doesn't seem to have limits, Harris reminds her readers that when lives connect, the world seems to be a very small place. You may be surprised and maybe even a little frustrated at how tied together all of the characters' lives end up being. Somehow, it all works out so that the connections do seem natural.

With people missing, a hostage situation that needs negotiating, and an estranged relationship needing mending, this book keeps readers ready for the rest of the story.

Lisa Harris is a master at weaving a mystery that just keeps growing with twists and turns this reader did not see coming. I trust that you'll enjoy this fast paced story because it is one that will definitely keep you guessing.

Pick up your copy HERE.

During the month of May, I will be providing four reviews. 

Thank you for making it possible for me to work with these publishers! 

* I was provided a review copy of this book by Revell. All thoughts are my own honest opinion. 

Thoughts for Your Weekend: Emptied Souls

Friday, May 09, 2014

I just finished another assignment in "Behold Your God". Today's lesson turned my mind to the pattern of evangelism that John the Baptist, Jesus, and Paul all had in common.

Like God before them, each of these men labored to show people the glory of God, the wickedness of sin, and the truth that their souls need one thing: to know God and hope in Him.

So often we begin there, with the end. We tell people that God has a plan for them and that He is worthy of their hope and trust.

God has been showing me that that is not the way He does it. God begins by emptying. He shows people that they are sinners, that their hopes are false, and their their treasures are actually trash. 

That is devastating.

That fit of anger you had this morning? The cost is hell because in that moment you denied God of His place on the throne.

That church you go to? That mentor you have? Those 30 years of service? Yep, they're not enough.

That beautiful family you're raising? Those investments you've successfully made? That garden you're growing? It's passing away. It won't leave you satisfied.

You fill in your own blanks...The point is, you can't fix yourself and your circumstances will never ever satisfy you. 

Once God empties a soul, He fills it.

He fills it with the blood of Jesus Christ, the work of the Holy Spirit, and the fullness of who He is.

Today is Friday. Your soul is going to be hunting this weekend. Hunting for quiet and fun and relaxation.

May we be emptied of ourselves. May we be emptied of our false hopes and our treasures that are actually trash.

May this emptiness be devastating.

May the emptying lead to be filled to overflowing with God. 


Wednesday, May 07, 2014

April 30, 2014

May 2, 2014

May 6, 2014

We're seven days into May now and so far it's mostly been really good! These mornings are feeling more like summer all the time.

Currently, I am...

cooking: lots of salad, old favorites (tacos, waikiki meatballs, baked alfredo, hamburgers, etc.), and I'm dreaming of grilling everything. Actually, I'm dreaming of someone else grilling everything because I'm a terrible griller. 

reading: In the Bible I'm landing in 2 Corinthians. I've been reading The Westing Game with my brother and sister. Shauna and I just finished What Mrs. McGullicudy Saw by Agatha Christie. On Saturday, I started a review copy of "One More Last Chance".

wearing: my maxi dresses and light summer skirts. It's still a little chilly, but I'm going for it!

loving: the time I get to spend in my gardens again, the excitement that *16* is bringing in my sister's life, and the special times I get to have with my friends and family. I just want to hug everyone and never let go. :) 

anticipating: I'm trying hard to just take one thing at a time. This balancing act is soooo hard for me! Right now I'm really looking forward to going to a play (the Wizard of Oz) with my family soon. 

You can join in the current fun by heading over to Jenna and Anne's blogs! 

Twosday: Hobbies

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Tuesday. Two hobbies that cultivate life.

Twentieth Street

PS I'm guest posting over at Amy's blog today. Check it out

Sixteen Candles

Monday, May 05, 2014

Good morning, everybody!!! I'll warn you now - this post should be split into more than one, but I'm just going to let it be a LONG one. :)

Last Thursday, my sister turned 16! For a while now she's been talking about how her favorite color combo is blue and yellow... I thought it would be fun to go ALL out.

The surprises began late the night before. With the help of my Mom and brother the one hundred million balloons were blown up, the tissue paper flowers were made, and the initial decorations went up! 

On the morning of her birthday she came upstairs and knew SOMETHING was up right away! My brother was excited to see what her reactions would be.

Next we moved on to making Ree's fried fruit pies that my sister had requested. This was a trial run and it went very well. We got about 25 fruit pies out of the deal and decided that we prefer the smaller ones.

After the fruit pies were over and the cleaning marathon was finished, my sister went to visit some friends who had birthday surprises for her.

While she was away, we did some more decorating...

I loved the idea of hanging balloons from the ceiling and stringing crepe paper everywhere!

The picture collage was a lot of fun to put together. I spent several hours going through the pictures that I've taken over the years looking for the ones that were super cute, extra memorable, or just plain goofy!

The center piece looks like an innocent balloon bouquet, but at dinner, the guests found out otherwise!

Thanks goes to my Mom for stepping in to frost that cake! The frosting of birthday cakes always makes me sooo nervous. After all, so much can go wrong! My sister is talking to our other brother in this picture. (We'll want to remember that!)

The company arrived just as she was putting on her lovely birthday hat (thank you, Dollar Store!) and leis. 

After the dinner plates were cleared, everyone got to learn the rest of the details concerning the balloon bouquet. I got the idea for this game from the Christmas Crackers that we enjoy after Christmas dinner every year....Everyone chose a balloon. Inside of each balloon were two multiple choice questions that my sister answered before the party.

Ron went first. He used the skewer that was attached to his balloon to pop it  in order to get to the questions. He read the first question aloud, gave his answer, and then everyone else gave their answer to his question. My sister announced the correct answer and then we repeated the process with the second question that had been in Ron's balloon. 

The game continued around the table until everyone's balloon was popped and all 14 questions were answered. 

The fact that no one suspected anything and everyone really enjoyed the game may have made this part of the party my favorite!

Gift opening time...She got A LOT of stuff and I think it's safe to say she was very surprised!

My "favorite" of her gifts were the keys she got to a Benz....She didn't get to keep those, but Jay got a good laugh out of giving them to her for pretend! Apparently, turning 16 calls for a lot of gag gifts!

I have so many pictures with this exact face happening!  Here she is opening a watch that my parents gave her.

 In this shot, my brother pulled out his jeweler's glass to inspect the quality of the ring that my parents also gave her.

The night ended back at the dinner table where the cake came out while The Crests serenaded her with their song "Sixteen Candles". I took a video of that event so I don't have a picture of her with her cake...:( Jay did take one and it is somewhere!

Sister, you're 16 now!!! You got your license on Friday and you're picking up a truck on Saturday...HOW did that all happen so quickly!?!?!? 

I love you more than you'll ever know and I'm super excited to see what God does in and with your life over these next few years! 

I think 16 was my favorite and I really hope it is yours too! 

If I could give you one word of advice it would be this: time is going to fly and things might not turn out how you think they should or even how you want them to. There is one thing you can be sure of, namely, the faithfulness of God! Spend this year with the aim of setting your hope in Him. You were made to worship Him and to live out that worship in front of every person around you. Set your eyes on Him and never, ever, stop looking!

Happy 16th Birthday!!!!