Friday, December 31, 2010

A Food Resolution

I have a goal and a prayer for 2011. My prayer is to have a workable kitchen and dining room. My goal is to try one new recipe a week. I love flair. I enjoy food. I desire for people to feel like they were prepared for and warmly received. Presentation is a passion of mine. All of that said, I want to cultivate this. I want to spend more time in farmer's markets and less time in grocery stores. It's a food revolution.

I am on the prowl for new recipes and cookbooks. Did you know there is a magazine called "Foodie?" How fun. I want to explore the Mediterranean diet more this year. The Daniel Fast looks interesting as well. What shall we cook?

Can you pray for my kitchen? I know this sounds silly. It's a shambles though. It needs to be fully gutted. Seeing as we have guests at our house every single day, we truly enjoy lavishing food on people. Come over. We want to serve you. 


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Gomer: A Good Foundation

Our 5,500 square foot is sitting on some cedar posts and cinder blocks. It boggles my mind that this gigantic three story home can stay up hovering in the air. It seems like it is held up by toothpicks. It's been doing that for nearly one hundred years. The house, is a bit un-level. We have to remedy this before we can go on to all of the satisfying cosmetic work. Our first estimate came in at fifteen thousand dollars. We just prayed. We don't have fifteen thousand dollars. God always answers prayers in ways you least expect it. We got a call from a friend who offered to assemble a crew and help us level the house and put it on new concrete footings. Can you believe that? All we have to come up with is materials and rental fees. This is by far the biggest thing that needs to happen to our home. To God be the glory.

Would you be interested in helping us with this project? We need concrete, cinder blocks, and rental fees. One thousand dollars. You can give a tax-deductable donation to: Gomer's House. We are always grateful for gift cards as well. We praise God as much for five dollars as we do five hundred.Thank you for giving.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

For Emily

I have been exceedingly emotional this Christmas season. I cried reading the new Drew Brees book! Perhaps I have kept all the pregnant hormones. The loss of my brothers is deeply painful to me when all of our family should be together. I am overwhelmed by gratefulness for my girls. We realized that if we had given birth for each child we were pregnant with, we would have seven children. People I love are deeply sick. I am learning to let go of something I cherished. One of my dearest friends has just had a baby at the same time as me. Then, her young, vibrant mother succumbed to disease and pneumonia. I cannot imagine her pain or what she must be going through. I loved her mom and enjoyed her immensely. She was beautiful and could make a mean taco. I was reading some Whittier the other day and I was moved by the goodness of God during our suffering. God gives us good gifts to richly enjoy. God gives us new family to love as a form of therapy. God's love is beautiful.
This poem is for my dear friend Emily.

     The Eternal Goodness
  John Greenleaf Whittier

O Friends! with whom my feet have trod
The quiet aisles of prayer,
Glad witness to your zeal for God
And love of man I bear.

I trace your lines of argument;
Your logic linked and strong
I weigh as one who dreads dissent,
And fears a doubt as wrong.

But still my human hands are weak
To hold your iron creeds:
Against the words ye bid me speak
My heart within me pleads.

Who fathoms the Eternal Thought?
Who talks of scheme and plan?
The Lord is God! He needeth not
The poor device of man.

I walk with bare, hushed feet the ground
Ye tread with boldness shod;
I dare not fix with mete and bound
The love and power of God.

Ye praise His justice; even such
His pitying love I deem:
Ye seek a king; I fain would touch
The robe that hath no seam.

Ye see the curse which overbroods
A world of pain and loss;
I hear our Lord's beatitudes
And prayer upon the cross.

More than your schoolmen teach, within
Myself, alas! I know:
Too dark ye cannot paint the sin,
Too small the merit show.

I bow my forehead to the dust,
I veil mine eyes for shame,
And urge, in trembling self-distrust,
A prayer without a claim.

I see the wrong that round me lies,
I feel the guilt within;
I hear, with groan and travail-cries,
The world confess its sin.

Yet, in the maddening maze of things,
And tossed by storm and flood,
To one fixed trust my spirit clings;
I know that God is good!

Not mine to look where cherubim
And seraphs may not see,
But nothing can be good in Him
Which evil is in me.

The wrong that pains my soul below
I dare not throne above,
I know not of His hate, - I know
His goodness and His love.

I dimly guess from blessings known
Of greater out of sight,
And, with the chastened Psalmist, own
His judgments too are right.

I long for household voices gone.
For vanished smiles I long,
But God hath led my dear ones on,
And He can do no wrong.

I know not what the future hath
marvel or surprise,
Assured alone that life and death
His mercy underlies.

And if my heart and flesh are weak
To bear an untried pain,
The bruised reed He will not break,
But strengthen and sustain.

No offering of my own I have,
Nor works my faith to prove;
I can but give the gifts He gave,
And plead His love for love.

And so beside the Silent Sea
I wait the muffled oar;
No harm from Him can come to me
On ocean or on shore.

I know not where His islands lift
Their fronded palms in air;
I only know I cannot drift
Beyond His love and care.

O brothers! if my faith is vain,
If hopes like these betray,
Pray for me that my feet may gain
The sure and safer way.

And Thou, O Lord! by whom are seen
Thy creatures as they be,
Forgive me if too close I lean
My human heart on Thee! 


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Talk to me, Abba.

I have allowed things in your life to draw you toward Myself. Come to Me. Though things seem confusing, I am in the midst of all of this. I AM at work. The story of redemption does not always make sense to the finite mind. I work through tragedy. I work through love. Be thankful for the gifts that I have given you. No longer be robbed of life and joy by focussing on the thing you believe you lack. It's absence could very well be a gift. 
Open it.

For more on this segment, see this post.

Monday, December 27, 2010

If God Is Good by Randy Alcorn

Randy Alcorn delivers a brilliant exegis on sufferring and God's purpose in it. Comparing the world views of atheist, deists, theists, agnostics and more, he shows us that the only basis for morality comes from a Christian world view. If there is good and morality, there must be an origin. The reader is led to think about the big question: If God is good, why is there evil in the world?

Most people ask why God would allow suffering if He was genuinely good and powerful. Many atheists claim that the existence of suffering is due to the fact that God does not exist. Using many powerful examples and scripture, Randy shows us how temporary pain can lead us to a better end. If your child were given a choice between a parent that disciplines and one that does not, the child will choose the lenient parent. We all know this is not for a child's greater good and maturity (even thought the child rebels against it).

I was genuinely impressed with the author's remarkable ability to wield scripture, intellect, and the lives of sufferers to show how and why God may be allowing it. There were no pages lacking in brilliance and usefulness. 

One thing I appreciated was being challenged to be thankful in hard situations like cancer, miscarriage, and death. Randy stated that he never thought about thanking God for a functioning pancreas until it no longer functioned. His insulin dependent diabetes has made him rely on God in a way he could never have fathomed. When we thank God for trials and suffering when we feel we don't want to, we will often realize that we are angry with God. That opens up dialogue and leads to healing.

I believe that God does work miracles. He does heal. Often though, I think that God is trying to grab ahold of our hearts and pull us close to Himself during trial and pain. My brain is still reeling form all that I took in during the 500 pages. Grab hold of this theology. If we can grasp that the Christian life is not sunshine and roses, we stop whining and become warriors.

"Many have become immune to Christianity by contracting a mild and unbiblical form of it."

This book was provided by Waterbrook Multnomah for review.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas

Gomer: Rocking Around Fentress

 About seventy people showed up to sing about Jesus Christ in our little town on Tuesday night. Denbigh and I had baked 36 dozen cookies and put them in jars to give out to our neighbors. That was comically more than enough cookies to give one to everyone in our town. We baked cookies for the whole town! We sang to mobile homes and shut ins. We even headed down to Leisure Resort and sang to the people camping there. It was a really joyous time capped off with some hot chocolate. Praying that the name of Jesus was heard and people respond lovingly to Him.

Thank you to everyone who made the trek out to carol with us and for the fabulous Fentressians (Fentressites?) who came out with us.

God bless you. Merry Christmas!


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Give the Gift of Presence.

One of the suggestions for Christmas gifts given by Advent Conspiracy was to give a gift card to eat or to coffee with the stipulation that they go on a date with you. 
Give the gift of presence.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Talk to me, Abba.

I delight in you. Release to Me the trappings of this season. Rest in Christ. Refuse to bear the weight and demands that this world seeks to place on you. Seek Me. Live. The greatest gift you can give to Me in this Christmas is to give love away. Love.

For more on this segment, see this post.

Monday, December 20, 2010

NLT Contest

I wanted to fill you in on an exciting contest that is currently being run and sponsored by the New Living Translation.  We’re highlighting three ministries, Wycliffe Bible TranslatorsOasis International, and The Dream Center, (click on the link to learn more details about these ministries) and by voting for one of these ministries you’ll be entered to win one of many prizes.

To enter, visit the NLT Facebook page by clicking here.

There are several levels of prizes you can win, here are the details:

With the Give the Word Bible Contest and Giveaway:
Ministries win: Each time the NLT Facebook Page reaches a fan count milestone, votes will be tallied and the three ministries will receive cash donations from the New Living Translation and Tyndale House Publishers.
Everyone wins: Everyone who enters on the Bible Contest website wins a free download of Matthew West reading the Christmas story.
Daily NLT Study Bible winners: Vote on the NLT Facebook page and you will be entered to win two NLT Study Bibles—one to keep and one to give away. A new winner will be chosen every day.
Weekly Give the Word Locally winners: Tell us about a deserving local ministry on the NLT Bible Contest website and they could win five NLT Study Bibles and $250 worth of NLT products.
One Grand Prize winner will enjoy a unique trip customized just for them and their family (or three guests of their choice), to Wycliffe Bible Translators world headquarters and the WordSpring Discovery Center where they will experience firsthand the exciting world of Bible translation. The Grand Prize winner could also choose to donate the value of the trip--$2000--to Wycliffe instead.

Brain Overload: If God Is Good

I just closed this book. It has proved to be 495 pages of exquisite biblical exegesis on suffering. My brain is swimming through all that this book has brought up for me to meditate on. I am not even sure what all I am going to include in my review (coming in the next few days). I underlined and dogeared a fourth of the book. Randy Alcorn can certainly put things of great depth into simple language so that we can all understand. I think America should sit down and peruse this book. I would hardly ever see anything wrong with asking for deliverance from a situation. What I know personally, a tenet magnified in this book, is that sometimes pain is our deliverance. God can glorify and reveal Himself in the midst of our suffering in ways that He cannot at any other time. Randy, you can write. You can write alot. I am impressed. In all of the 495 pages, I never thought that the writing wasn't brilliant or necessary. Kudos. I can't wait to unpack this, go back over my notes, and write a review.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Boodies: What Are You Cooking?

I once asked, via my facebook status, "If people who loved food are called foodies, would people who love books and food be called boodies?" I, friends, am a boodie. I like to work and rework recipes until they are sumptuous. 

I don't know about you, but I love P.F. Chang's and Mama Fu's Lettuce Wraps. I have made them at home and they come out good. It is hard to find that large lettuce at the local grocery store however. So, I thought I would try to make a lettuce wrap salad with homemade dressing. I am currently in the perfecting process of this adventure. The family all approved. I will post the recipe soon. 

What are you cooking? 


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Gomer: Baby Love

We continue to work away on the cosmetics of the Nursery. A glorious gift card came to us via relatives and we were able to buy this medallion and fan. Denbigh stripped, refinished and shaved down the door to the Conservatory from the nursery. Now, he has begun sanding down the antique four poster twin bed to go in the room. There is so much work that goes into each and every little thing. I am deeply thankful to God for giving to us and sending help. Our hope is to never try to get ahead of Him and try to orchestrate this restoration more quickly than He would have it go. God has taught us great patience and endurance. He has brought people here that never would have come if we had the ability to make it all happen on our own. Thank you, God. Thank you for bringing hearts and not just workers. Thank you for your timing. Thank you for your encouragement.

We were able to collect donations to give away five Bibles to addicts and those beloved by God in our area. I am thankful to see hearts turn to Him. I am thankful to see hearts that have long been committed strengthened and challenged. 

If you are looking for a place to do end of the year giving, please consider us. We are seeing a beautiful move of the Spirit here and our praying for people to partner with Him in this work.

Here are a few pictures from the trail of lights in Wimberley.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Death: The Last Enemy To Be Defeated

Death often appears like a cold, barren landscape. As I survey my life, I can say that death has been used in powerful ways to bring people closer to God than they could have been without the brokenness. We feel helpless against death. It has grabbed hold of the most arrogant parts of me and defeated them. It is powerful. 

I have lost so many loved ones and God has used that to tender my heart to be like Christ. He has revealed His power and His glory to me over and over through my pain. God never wastes our pain. Only we do that. What I have failed to realize is how much of an enemy death is. 1 Corinthians 15:26 says that death is the last enemy to be defeated. It is the last enemy of God to be defeated. As I have come to realize how death sets itself up against the purpose of God, I have begun to pray that death will be robbed of it's victory when it comes. May all remuneration belong to God. 


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Talk to me, Abba.

Trust Me. Every great story is darkest before the dawn. Look at the pages of the Bible. It often appeared that those chosen were in miserable failure and ruin right before I used them most powerfully. Draw close. Be steadfast in hope and faith. I am doing a new thing. I am changing hearts. I am answering you. Don't get distracted. I am doing something in your day that you could not believe unless I told you. I will provide. I will heal. I will restore. The Kingdom of Heaven comes to your house.

For more about this segment, see this post.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Write Me a Children's Book

I read a lot of books and I generally enjoy most reading. I get something out of it. To me, a book is a little tiny piece of a person's testimony. There is, however, something I have found lacking as I have searched through modern books on prayer for children. Our books are teaching them to pray in order to receive something. This is not altogether wrong. If you need comfort, or healing, or food, ask God. The thing I have found missing is a simple book that teaches children to intimately talk with God and enjoy Him. Where are the books that teach how to quietly sit and listen for the echoes of the Holy Spirit? 

When you are done writing that book, could you write one called, "You did not turn out fine." I'd love a rebuttal to everyone's programmed answer about participating in things that do not honor God or things we question our children's participation in.  That phrase, "We did it and we turned out just fine," is a lie. We are not fine. We are in a terrible war against sin and when we participate in things that detract from Christ,  we set ourselves up for a deep, often defeating struggle. If someone would have discipled us, we would be better than fine. That's my goal as a parent. Perhaps you could call the book 
"Better Than Fine." 


Friday, December 10, 2010

Merry Christmas- Here's a picture of me.

My husband thinks a Christmas card isn't a Christmas card unless it has a picture either in it or on it. He will act like he is going to toss out the cards without pictures and he will laugh to himself. Don't be offended, you photo-less people. He simply wants to see your face. He also has a tender affinity for making cards of our family for everyone. Nothing says, "Merry Christmas" quite like a photo of . . . you. I was excited to share with him, and with you, all the great deals at Shutterfly this Christmas. I have started making my card with pictures we took as a family and our starring roles in the nativity at Bethlehem to send to our family. Look out world, we will be releasing a fabulous Shutterfly photo Christmas card to the world in the next few weeks. 

Design a Christmas card.
Best yet, make your loved ones a calendar so they can celebrate 12 months of you.

If you are a blogger, you can receive 50 free cards (register today).


Thursday, December 09, 2010

Gomer: Baby, It's Cold Inside.

It's that time of year when I think I might like to go live with my mom. It's cold here, friends. We currently have one room insulated. It's warm in there. Nineteen more rooms to go. That's always my joke when we finish something. Well, all jokes aside, cold is my kryptonite. I am worthless. Last year, I was downstairs cooking and I had burned my hand. I didn't know it until later because it was so cold that my hands were numb. Then, during that particularly hard freeze we had in January, it was a frigid forty-four degrees in my bedroom. I stuck my phone out from under the blessed electric blanket to take a picture of the thermostat. I thought, "One day, this will be funny." 
One day it will.

I sat down with the Lord and was asking what He wanted from me for Christmas and He asked the same of me. I thought about it. I wondered if paying our house off or kitchen cabinets and a sink would fulfill my desire. Perhaps a thousand dollars of insulation and 10 guys to pump it into our walls. I think He will surprise me. For Him, I know he wanted us to buy some Bibles for some addicts in my neighborhood. They are such beautiful people. Since we are living on faith for absolutely everything, we don't have a lot of money to spend. We are trying to sell some things and get others involved to buy some nice Bibles. The story is truly amazing. I would love to tell it to you. 

I read something by Edith Schaeffer a while back and a line has stuck with me. "A stable seems like a perfect place for a lamb to be born." I loved that. It seems an odd place to human reasoning, but it was perfect to the Lord. As we walk through this advent season, I want to be wherever God wants me to be. We will continue to trust His ways as they mold us and shape us into being more like Christ. We just keep asking and trusting that God will provide for us in His mercy. Denbigh and I are deeply grateful to be allowed to participate in what God is doing in the lives of the people here. Thank you, Lord for how You are going to provide and for how You love.


Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Hostility Toward the Blood

"Also the cow and the bear will graze,
         Their young will lie down together,
         And the lion will eat straw like the ox. 
    The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra,
         And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper's den. 
    They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain,
         For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD
         As the waters cover the sea." 
-Isaiah 11:7-9

A few weeks ago, we were studying this passage in Bible Study Fellowship. As I was thinking about it and traditional teaching on it, I had a Spirit illumined moment. I have always been taught that all of this would occur because the Prince of Peace was ruling. Hostility would cease. What I saw with clarity was a healing. Fallen creation is not simply hostile. Fallen creation is hostile against the blood.

Christ has shed His blood to offer us life and redemption. Our vampire loving culture tries to falsely mimic they blood's ability to give life. War. Abortion. Murder. Hostility toward the blood. We are not merely hostile. Our fallen world is hostile toward Christ and His beautiful method of redemption.

When Christ comes and creation is healed by His presence, the hostility toward the blood will be healed. 


Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Talk to me, Abba.

Don't let suffering, financial stress, or grief distract you from Me. I want to show you the truth of who I am. I drew you out of a negative environment to reveal my beauty to you. Release everything in your past to Me. I want you to be the real thing. I want you to show an authentic representation of My Son to others. Trust Me. Let me mold your heart in the deep grief and pain. Release those left behind to My sovereignty. Pray for those who are hurting the saints and leading them astray. Pray for the saints to seek Me in truth. I love you.

For more about this segment, see this post.


Monday, December 06, 2010

Becoming A Woman of Simplicity by Cynthia Heald

Best-selling Navigator author Cynthia Heald helps you discover a God-centered life in the midst of a chaotic world.
"I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ." -2 Corinthians 11:3

Description: In a culture that pulls women in multiple directions at once, is it possible to adjust priorities, reexamine your time management, and reduce your busyness in exchange for what is truly important--becoming like Jesus? 

Written by Navigator author and Bible teacher Cynthia Heald, Becoming a Woman of Simplicity is a topical Bible study that delves into Scripture to offer practical, real-life counsel on rest and stress to women.
• 11 lessons

I have been going through this Bible study over the last few weeks. Every time I opened the pages, it was as rest immediately entered my spirit. Each pages engages you in Scripture. It isn't a lot of commentary. Cynthia has carefully brought together God's word to answer questions and point to God's desires for us on specific subjects. 

Cynthia's simple study guide to returning to simplicity is masterful. I felt myself release and surrender things to the Lord with each page. I have realized more and more the trappings of being busy in church and "for the Lord." God doesn't need us to stress ourselves out to do His will. It is meant to be fluid and natural. This book has aided me in the direction I should be going. I highly recommend it.

This book was provided by Nav Press for review.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Turkey Chili: A Recipe

A dear friend sent me a recipe for turkey chili. I decided to make it a bit more Texas. Basically, keep adding jalapenos and pepper until your nose runs and your left eye twitches. Buon Appetito!


Miscarriage | Infertility | Hope

I encountered Jesus as a young child in a church pew in the balcony of an old country church. Through a lifetime of trial, I knew he was the...