A Plan To Change

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The New Year is approaching. You're making your resolutions. It's time for change.

The New Year is approaching. You’re making your resolutions. It’s time for change.

     2015 is upon us, heralding all things new. Pinterest is exploding with inspirational quotes, workout plans, and diets. The top ten lists of things to change are being written up by ladies from various walks of life.

It is like starting over.

A fresh page, a new beginning.

We draft our plans.

Our plans to change.

     And inevitably, all the best laid plans fall apart somewhere around February 14th, give or take a few weeks.

     I realized something though when I was listening to Steven Furtick’s message the weekend before Christmas: when I make a plan, and God changes it, I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

I can get all worked up over the changes or I can plan for them.

     I’m not saying I know what God is thinking (although, that would help). But since I know that part of who He is is keeping me from leaning on my own understanding, my plan can include that variable.

     My plan for the new year isn’t a weight loss challenge, exercise dream, or budget makeover. My plan is to anticipate God. To wake up every morning knowing that the day will include irritations, inconveniences, and impossibilities.

     I can’t make a resolution and stick to it, my willpower melts at the sight of chocolate, but my God is in the business of change. When He says jump, I’m resolving to ask how high. When He says go, I’m resolving to obey. When He says give, I’m resolving to let go.

And maybe, in the process of this plan, things will change.

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Do I qualify as a Titus 2 woman?

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There seems to be something freeing about getting a chance to put your thoughts down on paper…or computer document. My days are long, filled with people, places, and activities, busy until the last possible second. I started this blog nearly three years ago with the intent to write about whatever and see what would come of it.

In those three years, life happened.

I didn’t write much, even for myself. Now, after three years of living, I might have found something to say.

Titus 2 talks about older women mentoring the young women. I never really thought that verse would apply to me until I was old enough to be qualified as an “older woman”, whenever that is. As a young, twenty-something woman, I wanted to find more older women to mentor me, until one day, someone told me it was time to do otherwise.

I have Godly mentors, women who I can watch, model, and talk with to grow as a Christian.

But there are girls younger than me, watching me, modeling after me. I suppose this qualifies me as an “older woman”? I want to be sure that those girls have someone worth looking up to.

I’m not amazing. I’m a mess. But I serve an amazing God who is perfecting me to become more like Him.

The future of this blog is as unknowable as my own. Tomorrow, God may change courses and I will keep following. In the meantime, my challenge is to live purely before God, out of my love for Him, and see who else He wants to bring with me.

Krispy Easter Eggs

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Krispy Easter Eggs

This is a recipe I found by the Pioneer Woman. If you ever want to try a really delicious recipe, head over to her website. Really.

That said, the following recipe is hers and I am reblogging because I think it is a super cute way to revamp your Easter eggs. This is taking rice crispy treats to a whole new level. Enjoy!

DSC_9634Imagine the Easter Bunny laying an egg.

Wait. That’s not anatomically possible.

And anyway, the Easter Bunny is a boy, right? It’s even more impossible than I thought!

Okay, let’s start this whole thing over. Imagine that the Easter Bunny’s wife is a chicken, and imagine her laying an egg. These sweet, crispy eggs with a fun candy surprise inside would be what came out!

Wait. I don’t think that’s possible either.

Sheesh. Leave it to me to take something as innocent as an Easter treat and turn it into something disturbing. Please don’t let me spoil this special time for you.

Haunting visuals aside, these adorable little ovoid (vocabulary word alert!) wonders are nothing more than Rice Kripie Treats that have been thrown into a wacky-looking Easter egg machine and, minutes later, come out the other end looking like Easter eggs. They’re super easy and fun to make with kids. The perfect Easter treat!

DSC_9315Add the butter to a pot or large saucepan and melt it over medium heat.

DSC_9317Throw in a bag of mini-marshmallows…

DSC_9320And stir it until the marshmallows are melty and sinful.

DSC_9323Throw in 6 cups of Rice Krispies…

DSC_9325And stir it around gently until it’s all sticky and gooey and combined.

DSC_9327Next, lightly spray the inside of a plastic Easter egg with cooking spray.

You know. Those plastic Easter eggs? The ones you think are taking over your house one minute, then the next minute, when you actually need them to photograph a recipe, you can’t find one to save your life so you drive over to your sister-in-law’s house and borrow hers?

Yes, those plastic Easter eggs.

DSC_9342Stuff one half with the Rice Krispie mixture, then press a chocolate egg into the center. (The official Rice Krispie recipe calls for hollowing out a well and placing small candies in the center, but my motto is “Go Big Chocolate Easter Egg or Go Home.”)

DSC_9343Fill the other half of the egg with more cereal mixture, then press the two halves together until they’re totally closed. The egg should be full enough to meet with a little resistance as you close the egg, but not so full that you feel like you’re crushing the life out of the cereal.

DSC_9334A few seconds later, gently pull the egg out of…well, the egg! I found that the longer you let them sit in the plastic eggs, the harder it was to get out.

DSC_9339Sprinkle them with different springy colors of sprinkles, and place them in an egg holder to let them set.

DSC_9628Let the kids do this part!

Just have a broom nearby.

DSC_9625Lovely and adorable.

Recipe

Krispy Easter Eggs

Prep Time:
20 Minutes
Cook Time:
5 Minutes
Difficulty:
Easy
Servings:
12

Ingredients

  • 4 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 package (10 Ounces) Mini Marshmallows
  • 6 cups Rice Krispies
  • Assorted Sprinkles
  • Small Chocolate Easter Eggs
  • Plastic Easter Eggs

Preparation Instructions

In a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until melted. Remove from heat, then add rice cereal and stir until well coated.

Lightly spray interior of the plastic eggs with non-stick cooking spray.  If mixture is too sticky, you can also spray your hands.  Fill both sides of the plastic egg with rice cereal mixture, slightly over-filling one side. Press chocolate egg in the center on one side of the egg, then close the plastic egg to shape it. (It should be full enough to meet with a little resistance as you close it.) Gently release the rice cereal egg from the mold, decorate with your choice of sprinkles and set aside in egg crate until set.

Bethany:

I am planning on doing this recipe myself for an upcoming Easter egg hunt…I may or may not eat a few in the process.

Not Waiting for Someday

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This past week, I hit a rough patch spiritually. I couldn’t remember why I was doing life the way I was or why some things weren’t happening. I felt frustrated and in many ways I still do. Frustrated about the future and what is happening there. Frustrated by the time I have and the time I lack. Frustrated by having a passion but not feeling as though it were worth anything. This month, I have been wrapping up the last few credits of my sophomore year and was struggling with a feeling of urgency about the deadlines I had put on myself. I have continued my morning hour of prayer and He has never failed to show up and speak. At first, I didn’t really pay attention. I love to talk and that makes listening one of my more common weaknesses. I would feel the prompting of The Lord but because I had an agenda for how my prayers were supposed to work, I often pushed it aside. Get this: my prayers were still impactful and He was still listening, but I would walk away feeling as though I had missed something. My prayers were growing in strength and eventually, so did my listening. As I heard what He was trying to say, I began to remember that not everyday will I see a miracle happen, but everyday is a miracle. Not every day will be full of accomplishments and success, but every day does add up into eternal glories. I realized that my perspective had shifted to looking out from where I was standing and not up to where He is leading. This prayer time was fantastic for me because I began to add a fervency to my prayers that had not been there before. Now, as I keep up this habit, I will find it harder than ever to go back to the way I thought and believed before. When we encounter His presence, we are changed, and when we commune with Him daily, we are renewed. The day-to-day can be touched by the supernatural when we stay in communication with God.
Thinking back to the struggles of this week, I realize that I will feel this way many times into my future. Frustration is a side affect of living in a fallen world but how I approach it will determine how it will affect me.
This afternoon, I found a letter that I had written to myself back in September. Something I wrote stood out to me: “remember that this is not about someday. God has your now. What will you do next?” All too often, I find myself thinking in terms of someday, when I should be thinking about what comes next. Someday will never come, but next can be planned. Someday is the place dreams die, but next is where I will see those dreams come into being. So today, right now, all I need to do is ask God what He wants to do next. As the Master Planner, He knows exactly how this little shindig should go down and I can rest in knowing that He has chosen to use me to further His Kingdom. When we follow His guidance for what happens next, we don’t have to wait for someday.
So are you frustrated about the future? Your prayers will bring someday into reality. What are you doing that is hindering you from doing what comes next? Is there something you believe about yourself or the plans God has for you that inhibits your ability to hope? Don’t get caught up in someday, just enjoy today and let God plan tomorrow.

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Nothing But the Truth

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C.S. Lewis, one of my favorite writers/apologists, wrote, “The real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other, larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.”

This process of ignoring our flesh and tuning in to the voice of the Holy Spirit starts with just a moment. But from that moment, a new sort of life will be spreading through our whole being and influencing how we view the world and each other. I have been experimenting with getting up earlier than usual in the mornings and praying for about an hour or so. Some days, this is incredibly difficult. My body cries for the comfort of my bed and pillow, but over time, the hunger in my spirit for His presence is loudest. In this time of prayer, I came across John 17:17, “Sanctify them by Your truth, Your Word is truth.” A little background: Jesus is praying for His disciples just before the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane. He is praying that although He equipped them to face the world, they needed to be continuously sanctified by the word of The Lord, which is Truth. In popular culture today, truth is relative to either the individual or the society they live in, there is no such thing as an absolute truth. This decline in absolutism and trek toward relativism has led to some of the most major compromises faced by the American people. Just look at the aftermath of Roe v. Wade and the Mystery Passage. All of a sudden, no one knows what the definition of a human being is because we each have the ‘right’ to define our own existence and reality. The danger here is self-explanatory. The cry of my heart has become that God would sanctify His people with His Truth, His Word. That He would sanctify our mouths that we may speak His Truth, our heart that we may love His Truth, and our minds that we may operate in His Truth.

What does this look like? Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” He is the Word of God and when we study His teachings, we are being filled with His Truth. Get in the Word! The best way to be sanctified is by letting God renew our minds with the power of His Word.
As modern-day disciples, when we declare His Truth over our lives, pessimism and fatalism has no place. When we choose to believe His Truth over the lies of the enemy, we begin taking back the ground satan stole. As daunting as our task may seem, when the Church rises as one body, unified by the undeniable Truth of God’s Word, in the name of Jesus, we can take back the lost generations, the marriages, and the families. His Truth establishes us and equips us to turn this world upside down.

There is nothing that cannot bow to the Truth of our Most Holy God.

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Resolved

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The new year is approaching and people are either making their resolutions or resolving to make none. Whether you be anti-new-year-resolutions-because-i-can-never-keep-them-and-its-too-mainstream or be the one who lists your top ten and puts sticky notes in every conceivable place to remind you of your plans, we all have a mindset in how we approach the new year. Some of us fear it for one of two reasons: it could never be better than the last or things can only get worse. Some of us are looking forward to a new beginning, a new dawn to brighten the horizons. Others don’t really care. 2013. Whoopee. Whatever your feelings on the coming year, none of us know what it holds and can only keep moving into the change.
As for myself, I make declarations. I declare over the new year a word The Lord gives to me. Fortunately, this year is not one where I wander and seek purpose and direction. In specific areas, I know what I have to do and what is expected of me by others and myself. In a way, I fear failing. I fear being unable to complete the plans laid before me in the time allotted. I fear distraction. This is when God steps in, overriding my fears and giving me a hope to cling to. Psalm 37:5, “Commit your way to The Lord, trust also in Him and He shall bring it to pass.” My part is to trust that God is who He says He is and walk out what He asks of me.
My dad said this morning that discipline is a perishable. It fades with each season and we have to cultivate it, adapt it to the changes in us and our circumstances. This year, trust and discipline are irrevocably tied together. On my own, this year will be just about impossible; but, I commit my plans to God, trusting Him to be faithful to grow in me diligence and consistency that He may complete what He promised. So, I declare this year to be the Lord’s and I will walk in trust and discipline to see His promises fulfilled in my life.

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{Author of artwork unknown}

Getting it Right

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Growing up, my standard answer to any question or statement an adult, sibling, friend or relative might have posed was, “I know”. Even when I had no idea what they were talking about, I pretended I did. In church, I was the kid on the front row with her hand raised for ALL of the questions and the same could be said for my classes. For years I have wondered about why I felt the need to be right, to have all of the answers. I reached my teens with the intent to change this tendency. No more would I be the know-it-all, I would be the know-most-of-it-all. Better, right? People began to expect me to have the right answer, especially since I was so ready to voice my opinion. I had an opinion and was willing to be the first to share. Willing, that is, until I started competing in speech and debate tournaments that took me all over the country, bringing me into contact with some of the most brilliant minds of my generation on the face of this planet and realized: I have no clue what I am talking about. I was thrown into conversations about the legalization of drugs, the impact of the Arab Spring, how the election of Barack Obama would affect the economy and the working class and I learned that Tonga was NOT somewhere in the middle of Africa. I learned to research my opinions before voicing them, giving careful consideration to what I said. In the beginning, I just listened to my friends banter and argue. Their wit was so advanced I was lost before the punch line ever appeared on the horizon of the conversation. Gradually, I became accustomed to their form of humor and how they structured their arguments and started developing my own opinions to throw into the ring.

These conversations gave me a reason to research my more basic assumptions, fine-tuning what I believed, and bringing me back to the place of examining my motivation. Why do I speak, write, or teach? Why do I feel the need to make my voice heard? Why do I still feel a sense of wanting to always get the answer right? I failed my microeconomics CLEP test by 3 points. What? It took me a month and a half to recover enough gumption to take another test.

After time spent listening to the heart of God and long moments of self-examination, I pondered this character trait of mine. Is it wrong to want to always be right? I had realized that I could not possibly know everything; but, what I couldn’t get around was how as Christians, we are supposed to be the ones with all of the answers. I was in a conversation one day with an older gentleman and we were discussing (almost to the point of debating) the topic of abortion and he brought up an argument that blindsided me. I sat and just looked at him. In that moment, I didn’t have the answer and had to admit such to both him and myself. I went home and mulled over his point until I found the answer that had really been staring me in the face all along. When I saw him next, what had impressed him the most was not in the fact that I knew what I was talking about, but in how I had admitted that I didn’t know something. This encounter brought me back to the feet of my Father and a thought occurred to me: it is ok to get it wrong. To a perfectionist, that is like nails on a chalkboard. What do you mean get it wrong? Other people get it wrong, we are supposed to be getting it right! I had to wrap my mind around the fact that God does not expect us to get it right the very first time and every time after that, so why would I expect it of myself? Suddenly, the pressure I had been putting on myself to have the answers was wiped away. All of my questions and assumptions were answered with devastating simplicity: grace.

As a child of God, I am called to walk in wisdom, set apart for righteousness, but He died so that when I fall, I can stand again. There are days when I feel like I am tripping over the same stupid stone, failing the same test time and again. There are other days when I feel overwhelmed with the amount of responsibility I owe to my future and all that it holds. On both of these kinds of days, God reminds me of what grace looks like. It looks like my Mom forgiving the same mistakes and loving us through our failures. It looks like my Dad, pulling his projects through to completion and still taking time to guide and teach us. It looks like my sister when she walks in and sees the disorder on my side of the room and chooses to smile and move on. It looks like my grandmother bringing dinner over, knowing that it would have been left overs if she hadn’t. It looks like my brothers wrestling and rough housing but the instant one of them gets hurt, the others see to it that the pain doesn’t last longer than a moment.

Grace is a characteristic of God and if we let it, will make a place in our lives. Grace covers when we get it wrong and equips us for when we get it right.

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In Memory Of

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How do you grieve? Until this weekend, I never really had a reason to learn. Older family members have died over the years, none of them unexpected and I knew that death was a natural part of life. Friday afternoon, a young friend of mine died of heart failure after a seizure. The thirteen year old football star and theater kid was probably the last person you would think of to die prematurely. At first, all I felt was shock. Disbelief that the guy my siblings and I knew and had goofed around with was gone. I sat down to breakfast this morning when my mom said something to us. She said, “grief validates the life of the person who died.” The very fact that we were hurting was evidence that his life had an impact. So, I began the process of grieving. I learned that I was not grieving the life he would never live, but for those who would have lived it with him. Caleb was the second to youngest of six. I was grieving for Aaron, Ben and David. For his brothers. For his parents and oldest brother and sister. I was sad for their upcoming Christmas. For his birthday in January. For every day that they would wake up and wish that their dreams were their reality. For every Thanksgiving that would remind them it would always be the last day they had shared with him. I was grieving because I knew that it could so easily be my own family. And yet, I was grateful because it wasn’t.
I cried. I mourned. And I leaned on the strength of my Heavenly Father. I can only find my comfort in Him who weeps over the death of His saints, even as they are walking into His presence. My peace is in the One who knows our end from our beginning. Death was never part of His original plan. Death robbed Caleb and his family. Now, in my hurt, I find what true comfort is. Our pastor’s son spoke this weekend at church and said that the Latin translation of comfort is with strength. I am not comforted by a God who feels sorry for me, but by a God who is walking it out with me. James 5:13 says, “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.”

Then it occurred to me, all of us have lost something. A job, a child, a friend, a mentor, a family member, a love, a dream, a plan or even a hope. But do we know how to grieve? Grieving is a process of walking out the hurt, the sadness, the anger, the lack of understanding. Grief releases those emotions and frees us from them. After we cry, scream, kick, punch, vent and probably cry some more, we need to seek comfort from God to fill the space we have emptied. If we don’t grieve properly, all of those same emotions build up and root bitterness in the hardness of our hearts. Grieving makes us vulnerable, a position that most of us would like to avoid, but with humility comes grace.
Grief, whatever the cause, is a natural part of life in this fallen world. Seek comfort and be strengthened by the power of our mighty, loving Father.
Put your hand over your heart. Do you feel that? That is called purpose. You were made for a reason. Your life has a destiny. You were saved and can live freely in Him.
No one can walk your road but you. Your wisdom comes from how you live your life. Part of gaining that wisdom is the pain that the enemy throws at you. The key is to hold tightly to your faith, clinging to the promises of God. There is hope for tomorrow even in the struggles of today.

So now, for me, I will treasure my time with my family and friends. I will love a little harder and smile a little brighter. I will cry and I will laugh. I will lose and I will gain. I will sit silently and I will dance. In the midst of it all, Jesus is Lord.