Friday, May 31, 2013

Love your enemies

A friend of mine came to me this week, and she had been hurt yet again by someone in her life.

My friend was frustrated, because she said she keeps trying to improve her relationship with this other person, but the other person continues to disappoint her. My friend finally wanted to give up. She said she was better than letting someone continually hurt her, right?

That is how most of us would react to a situation where a person continually, or even singularly, hurts us. We would say that we have more self-respect than to continue to try to be their friend.

And then, I was looking over my pastor's sermon from last weekend, and the book of John and the example of Christ clearly says "No" to that sentiment.

Jesus knew what was going to happen to him before it happened. Especially, he knew that he was going to die an excruciating death on the cross, thanks for a betrayal by someone who was pretending to be his friend - Judas. Yet, at the Last Supper, Jesus got down on his knees and started to wash his disciple's feet, including Judas'. Jesus humbled himself and served his enemy, loving someone who would hand him over to be killed.

Our reward for that on earth would be pain and disappointment, ridicule by others who wouldn't understand the choice. However, God showed us by his example that we are to love and serve even our enemies. We will receive a reward for that in heaven.

"Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you...“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful," Luke 6:27-36.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Stress that doesn't cause worry?

"Now before the Feast of Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end," John 13:1 (ESV).

Our pastor's sermon this week was very informative and I took away several points from it. The first one was from this verse, that when Jesus was under stress he wasn't thinking about himself. Instead he gathered his disciples together for a final supper together.

I know that when I get stressed out, all I think about is myself. I complain about what I'm stressed about, I don't really do anything else, and I often even don't make dinner or think about Nate because I am obsessed with what is stressing me out.

However, when the pastor said that Jesus was under stress, I started to question --- did Jesus stressed? I know that in the Garden of Gethsemane he prayed to have the cup taken from him, so I guess that counts as stress. Yet he obviously didn't worry or that would have been a sin. I don't really understand how someone can be under stress and not worry.

I guess when I stress, it crosses the line quickly into worry. I don't just feel overwhelmed, I start to worry that I won't get everything done or that I won't be able to make the decision that I need to or that whatever I'm stressing about won't be resolved.

Although I guess it does help to not worry when you know how everything is going to turn out anyway. That's why I stick with my favorite verse, which follows:

Monday, May 27, 2013

In memorium...

Memorial means commemorating something or someone. Memorial Day is all about remembering the people who have given their lives for us in the United States, in particularly people who have died during wars.

I am so thankful for the men and women who put themselves behind the safety of their country and its people. They all went into the service knowing full well that they could die for their patriotism, and they decided that it was more important than their lives. That is so brave and so selfless. We wouldn't have our freedom without them.

Then there's the people in our country who serve but get much less recognition. Our police officers put their lives on the line every day, not just when they are serving at a war abroad. They are constantly fighting against the enemies of evil right in our own neighborhoods, whether they be small or large. Most citizens have no idea how much lawlessness goes on right in their backyards because our officers are taking care of it. So many give their lives without the recognition they deserve.

The greatest sacrifice of all was given by someone that doesn't even live today and also doesn't get the deserved recognition. Jesus gave his life for all our sins, and in his perfection he was the only sacrifice God would accept. Although our soldiers and our police officers give their lives so we have a better life in our short time on Earth, Jesus gave his life so we could have eternal life once we die - which we all do.

I'm thankful for the sacrifice that Jesus gave, and it makes it easier to deal with the loss of our armed forces members and our law enforcement officers. Those who are Christians when they give their lives have something even better to look forward to, and it's comforting that they gave their life and have an even better life in heaven afterward.

It's important to remember those who sacrifice for us - whether its our service members, our law enforcement, our parents who give up their lives for better lives for us, our God. Thank you for all who have sacrificed so that I have the wonderful life I have today. I am so appreciative.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

By golly, I think she's got it!

When Nate and I first got married, I think I mentioned how much I struggled with bread-making. I wish I would have taken some photos of those first few loaves, although I was much too embarrassed at the time to record those moments.

I read about baking bread, asked for advice from my mom and grandma and tried out several recipes. The loaves continued to come out dense, short and disappointing.

However, yesterday I decided to attempt to make bread again, after about a two-month hiatus.

And I got it right!

I fell asleep when it was rising in the loaf pans, and it rose about 45 minutes longer than I was going to allow it to. Perhaps under-rising has been my problem all along.

When the bread came out of the oven, it was soft, moist and fluffy. Nate actually applauded me when he cut it to go with our broccoli-cheese soup last night.

The recipe is one that I found on Pinterest. So here is what I followed:

Sandwich Bread
5 teaspoons dry active yeast
3/4 cup warm water plus 2 2/3 cups warm water
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
9-10 cups flour

Mix yeast with 3/4 cup water (about 110-115 degrees) and proof. Then add the rest of the water, sugar, salt and melted butter. Mix in enough flour to create a dough but leave it sticky.

Turn dough onto a floured surface and need with additional flour until the dough is still sticky when pulled apart, about five minutes.

Put dough in greased bowl, cover and let rise in warm spot about one hour.

Punch down. Split into two sections, flatten and roll up each, placing in greased loaf pans. Cover and let rise 1 hour 45 minutes.

Bake about 30 minutes at 400 degrees. When you knock on the top of the bread and it sounds hollow, it's done.

Then, hopefully, it looks like this!

Friday, May 17, 2013


She didn't know today was her last day.

My sister-in-law's mother passed away today, a death that was completely unexpected and sudden. I got a call from my mom telling me, and I didn't even know what questions to ask or what to say. It was complete shock, and obviously, it was even worse for my sister in law.

I got on Facebook, because I knew that my sister-in-law wrote a tribute to her mom this past Sunday, which was Mother's Day. And her mom had commented "Love you too honey." She had no idea that this would be the last post she would make on her daughter's Facebook - but how perfect it was and how much her daughter will treasure that forever.

Happenings like this make your mind just swirl around - what can I do, how do I show support without being bothersome, how crazy is it that this happened and how sad, how do I get to the funeral, how much will it cost, can I take off work, what if it was my mom, what if it was me?

It's horrible, because Darcie and her mom were so close. "Aren't all daughters with their mothers?" Nate asked. "Not all," I said. I told him that Darcie was everything to her mom, a closeness that sadly isn't all that usual between mothers and daughters.

I didn't know Darcie's mom all that well, just having talked with her at some family gatherings. However, the first two things that came to mind when praying about these tragic circumstances were how much she loved her family and her God. As I prayed, I asked God that he would welcome Darcie's mom with open arms into his kingdom and her everlasting reward.

Her family and her faith - isn't that exactly how Darcie's mom would want to be remembered? I know that when I think about how I want people to remember me, that's exactly what I want. I want them to say that she gave up everything to make her family's life better and that I was a woman of God.

So I hope that in this time of turmoil Darcie's family can find peace in the fact that her mom led a life that was servantful and full of love. Because although it may make it harder now that their loving mother is gone, it will make it easier in the future to know that their time with her was full.

In times like this I always go to the same verse, "Do not be anxious about anything but in everything, through prayer and petition, present your requests to God so that the peace of God, WHICH TRANSCENDS ALL UNDERSTANDING, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

May that peace guard Joey, Darcie and their entire family, may they feel at peace even though they don't know why.

Marriages need support

Some people have been making fun of Nate, saying that he's not as cool as he was when he was single.

We haven't gone out as often as we used to, and Nate spends a lot of time working on our house, building and hanging out with me. I think that we have both changed since we've been married.

However, I think the changes have been for the better. We have both grown up and have priorities in our lives, and we have put each other ahead of friends.

I find it frustrating when people want to bash that. Marriage is hard, and a lot of marriages fail when priorities are not in the right order. In order to make marriage work, you sometimes have to make tough decisions that other people aren't going to like.

To make marriage work though, people around you need to be supportive. If people are constantly berating you and knocking you down, you might soon think that something is wrong with you. You might feel like you have changed too much or that you shouldn't be doing what you're doing.

I want my husband to know that I appreciate him. I appreciate all the time he spends with me, and I appreciate that he's responsible, works hard and is trying to make a nice home for us. I try to tell him that, but I also know that my words won't always be enough. Everyone needs a little outside encouragement from time to time as well. If we should or not, we all seek approval.

All in all, I think it's important that we all support each other through life changes. Maybe you do have to spend less time with a newly married friend, but if that's what they need, shouldn't you support them in that? It doesn't mean that you're any less important.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Fighting off demons

I love to watch TV on the computer. It's not that I'm TV obsessed - OK, maybe a little - but instead of listening to music like most people do, I like to listen to TV while I work around the house.

I didn't have any shows that intrigued me at the moment, so I found a list of shows to watch online. One of them was "Buffy: The Vampire Slayer." I thought I would give it a try.

I'm not quite sure about it, but today I watched an episode where two girls were studying, and all of a sudden a demon came up behind them. Buffy's friend Willow called out, and Buffy jumped up to quickly kill the demon before it caused any more damage around town.

It made me think about how easy it would be for us if we could see all the demons that are attacking us. Demons are more real than many people know, and they really do attack us. It might not be by physically assaulting us, but it's by tempting us, putting us bad situations or whispering lies in our ears.

If only we could see what they were doing and immediately fight them off, even kill them. We could solve our problems so much faster.

But we can't see demons. So that means we really do need to put on the full armor of God and be aware of the evil temptations in our lives so we can spiritually see the demons and fend them off as quickly as possible - so they don't do any more damage.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Icky little ticks

Novie and I were walking down a local trail with a friend when I saw a dark dot on Novie's hindquarters.

I tried to brush the bug off, but it wasn't moving. And then I realized it was a tick.

Like everyone, I am not a fan of ticks. However, our family has become even more nervous about them after Nate got Lyme disease from a tick last year. It was a horrible illness, and now just thinking about ticks gives me goosebumps.

I grabbed a stick and got it off of her, but a few feet down the road I saw another spot on her and realized it was another tick.

Then my friend brushed one off my shirt, and I saw one crawling up my leg. And then I saw another one on Novie.

Well, for the rest of the walk my friend and I were getting the feeling of creepy crawlies all over us.

Luckily, when I got home I didn't find any more on me. However, I pulled two more off of Novie and burned them with a lighter. Even now, when I write this I feel like there are ticks crawling on me still.

Ticks are horrible little creatures because they are so tiny, but they cause so much damage when they stick in. It's fine if you get rid of the problem right away, but if they embed in your skin, they will dig themselves in deep and start sucking the lifeblood out of you. They will even put in disease as they do and make the problem even worse.

Sin is a lot like ticks in that way. If you don't pluck out sin from your life quickly, you will have big problems.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Thankful for mothers every day

Yesterday was Mother's Day, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't be thankful for our mothers today as well!

I'm thankful that this year I have two moms, because I now have a mother-in-law as well. I am thankful for so much about my mom and mother-in-law, but recently what has struck me most is the importance of having a mom that is a friend when you're both adults.

I love that my relationship with my mom is reciprocal now. I call her when I need advice on everything from home decor to personal problems, but she also calls me when she needs to cry out something or isn't sure what piece of furniture to buy. It's nice to be there for her when she was there for me for so long without getting anything in return.

I also love that I can hang-out with my mother-in-law and talk to her like a friend. When my in-laws visited earlier this year, Nate and his dad went ice fishing, and his mom and I went shopping all day. We laughed and found fun stuff, and it was just nice to be equals. I realize that many women dread when their mothers-in-law come into town, and I am blessed to have one that I like and that likes me!

I guess that's something that mothers of younger girls should know. Although right now you have to be in charge and make rules and punish when rules are broken and can't be the friend to your daughter that you desire to be, someday you will be equals. Someday your daughter truly can be your best friend. Someday your relationship will be reciprocal. Be the best mother you can be now, and later, you will get to be friends.

I'm so thankful for my mom - a woman I truly don't know how I would live without. I thank God for her, her wisdom, her example, her friendship. I hope that I don't have to learn how to get along without her!

And this year, I'm so thankful for my mother-in-law. I'm thankful to feel the love of a mom even when I'm not with my own. I am so blessed.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Think before you speak

My pastor's sermon from last week said, "We talk about ourselves too much, and our lives are boring and trivial.  It is probably a good idea to talk about Jesus more because his life is not boring and trivial."

It's so true! We spend so much time talking about ourselves - Facebook statuses, Tweets, blogs, text messaging about what happened to us today. I haven't joined Twitter, because I figured no one really cared about my life all that much. Why would I need to update my every move?

However, I still talk about myself a lot. I talk about my day with my husband, my parents, my friends. I act like my life is really important. Really, what is important is Jesus. Why don't we spend more time talking about Jesus.

I know why - it's awkward. It's hard to fit God into a conversation. The moment you bring up God or Jesus, things get awkward. Even if you're talking with other Christians, God doesn't enter your conversation all that often.

Really, though, we don't prioritize much in our lives. We talk about the weather and what happened at work. It's the serious issues, the things that matter, that are hard to talk about.

When we open our mouths, we should make sure that what we're talking about is important.

One of the people I know who is best at this is my dad. He doesn't talk all that much, but we always say when he does you better listen. When he sits down to have a discussion, you know he has thought through what he has to say and that it is important. I think that's a good reputation to have and something that we should strive for.

Let your words be humble, impactful, God-filled and selfless.

That's a big challenge.

Thursday, May 9, 2013


Last night after work I made homemade potato gnocchi.

I have always loved it, but the best I have made at home was plopped out of a plastic package purchased at Wal-Mart.

Not wanting to pay a couple of bucks per package, I decided to find a recipe on Pinterest, and I finally tried it last night.

It wasn't too difficult, although it took a while just because it had drying and cooling time built in.

I popped a couple of potatoes in the oven while I was finishing up work. After they had cooled and I was off the clock, I  peeled them and grated them. Then I mixed the puree with an egg, 1.5 cups of flour, salt and pepper and rolled in into a dough. The dough was separated into eight pieces and rolled into a long rope. I cut the ropes into little pieces, rolled them on the tines of a fork and then put them on a cookie sheet to dry.

From there, they dried for a couple hours and took three minutes to cook in boiling water. I topped them with a venison ragu.

Nate loved them! And I had enough to freeze for a second meal. Nate said that gnocchi is his favorite kind of pasta - if you call it pasta. I don't know. I'm not Italian, even though I have been told I look it!

When I was in the process of making it, Nate said that I could have bought it. That I have to figure in my time in how much that was saving us in money.

However, when I saw that he liked my cooking and that I was successful in trying something new, I told him it was worth it. When you cook something straight from a package, you don't have the feeling of success that I had! It is so worth a little work when you make other people, and yourself, happy and fulfilled.

I told Nate I think if I had an Italian grandmother, she would have been proud. :)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Growing a garden!


The mud room smells like herbs tonight --- oregano, basil, mint.

I spent a couple hours after work planting my first garden, and Nate went to the store while I was finishing up work to get me a tomato plant and he brought back some herbs to grow as well. I used to have a basil plant, but Novie ate it this winter when it was sitting on the floor to get some light by the sliding glass door.

I love to have some herbs to grab when I'm cooking, and I'm excited to be able to go outside and grab fresh veggies from the garden too.

I haven't grown much before, so I'm not sure how it will turn out, but I have to say I did enjoy planting it! It was fun getting dirt underneath my fingernails and to have all the hopes of what can grow by my own hand. I didn't even have the radio playing or the Internet streaming, it was just nice to be outdoors in the beautiful weather.

I'm excited for summer weather and to see what happens as the greens start to sprout in the black soil! I like being a homeowner :)

Monday, May 6, 2013

God wants thank you notes too

After our wedding last September, we had lots of presents and cards to open. We were excited about all the gifts, the gift cards and the cash.

Of course, along with that came the thank you notes.

After any kind of party where you receive gifts, the first thing you have to do afterward (well, after cleaning up, that is) is write thank-you notes. Everyone expects them, and it's courteous to show your gratefulness for what you've been given.

Often, when people are very generous in blessing you with something, you want to give part of that back. It probably isn't in the thank you note, but you will often bless them even more the next time you give them a gift.

Everyday though, we receive gifts from God. Yet, how often does he get a gift back or even a thank you?

Just like in our lives on Earth, our spiritual lives should utilize thank you notes much more. The moment you get your pay check, you should thank God for that blessing. When you get a birthday gift, you should thank God as well as the giver. When you get a bonus or win a prize, God should get a thank you first.

Then we should give back to God what he has blessed us with. The Bible calls for God's people to give back 10 percent. What we have was given to us by God, and he has greatly blessed us, so we should also want to give back to God by blessing others that are doing his work.

I often fall into the pattern of thinking that I should tithe because otherwise I won't be blessed. However, that shouldn't be our attitude at all. We should be so filled with gratefulness and love for God that we want to do something for him.

I love to buy things for Nate and surprise him, even if it's just with fruit snacks or Mountain Dew from the grocery store. Even though we physically can't shower God with gifts, even little gifts, we can still shower the church and missionaries who are doing his work with our gifts, which is the same as giving it straight to God.

So next time you see the offering plate being passed, don't just watch it go by. Say thank you to God for all that you have by giving back to him.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Not just part of life

God isn't supposed to be part of our lives, he is supposed to be our lives.

I heard this on Christian radio today.

The speaker said that God is not like a friend on Facebook, just someone we add. When we become Christians, our entire lives are supposed to revolve around our faith.

Francis Chan was talking on the radio the other day about when he took a trip to China, the people in the underground church there were laughing hysterically about how we treat our faith. We switch churches when we don't get along. We don't appreciate that we do have a church on every corner. We go for an hour a week.

I think we have it so good in America that we don't appreciate our faith as well. The American pastor that is in jail in Iran right now - how many of us would be able to survive that? We haven't been pressured enough to appreciate all that God has given us. Most of us haven't completely given our lives over to God, because we don't have to. It's comfortable to be a Christian, with that as much a part of your life as soccer, your job or dance. It's not supposed to be part of your life - it's supposed to be your life.

I honestly am not even sure what it means to give my whole life to God. I don't even know where to start, I guess, except to talk to God more and read his Word more and just see where it leads - and be open to where it leads.

It's just something to keep in mind that when the choice arises, it's God or nothing. Not a part, but a whole.