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Friday, April 27, 2012

Newk's Cafe

So, I don't usually blog about chain restaurants, but I love the Mediterranean pizza and the Greek Salad at Newk's Cafe. I didn't want you to miss out on it. There isn't anything special about the atmosphere, but they have delicious fresh veggies. Here are the ingredients to our favorite items.



Mediterranean

grilled chicken breast, mozzarella, roma tomatoes, kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, diced red onions, pepperoncini peppers, olive oil and feta cheese

Greek

romaine, feta cheese, kalamata olives, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, cucumbers, pepperoncini peppers and sliced red onion tossed with Newk’s Greek dressing
We cut the onion. It's fantastic.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Grace, Grace, God's Grace.

 Sometimes I think there should be a top secret version of this blog. I wish I could tell you all of the things we get to see at our house. There is heartbreak and there are miracles. I am more thankful for the kindness of Christ and how He ministers to us than I could ever convey to you. Just in case you have forgotten, God is good. He is good and He loves you.

It seems so silly to me to be putting so much thought into what goes into the kitchen and dining room. I hope that people know how much thought went into making a place of rest for them. I want people to be assured that God has prepared a place for them. A few weeks back, I took my neighbor a container of homemade soup and a photograph I had taken so she could have some art in her house. She told me that we were the kindest people she had ever known. I cried. It was soup. I was grieved that simple love had been withheld from her much of her life. As people come in to our home, I want them all to feel loved no matter what place they are in. I hope that the simple things we can do seem full of the extravagant grace of God to each person. As much pain as we see, I pray that we see as many miracles. I am thankful for a miracle this week. I am excited about an old friend and neighbor beginning to fall in love with the word of God. I am thankful for simple kindness. 

What is left for the kitchen? 
Floor, Moulding, Countertop, Dishwasher, etc. I love how each piece is coming together. It's beautiful that when we get out of the way that God brings in what He wants how He wants it.

 The knobs going in!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

When To Flee Your Church

I read this article that was featured on Tim Challies yesterday and I wanted to share it. This is a genuine issue in the church today. We have seen it over and over in the lives of the Saints and have experienced it ourselves. It is okay to walk away if you are being abused in any way. I am grateful for this post.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Talk to me, Abba.

Do not get distracted from the thing I have called you to do. Always be ready and available to love when I come your way in the face of another. There is no need to dress things up with churchy words or to call what your doing a ministry. Just love people right where you are. Don't love others by throwing Christian things at them. Love them with your presence. Love them with your nearness. Don't let the moment to have a deep heart connection form with another human being pass you by. Don't miss Me in the face of another.

"For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited me in; naked, and you clothed me; I was sick, and you visited me; I was in prison and you came Me."
Matthew 25:35-36

For more on this segment, see this post.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Love Does by Bob Goff

I liked it. Let me tell you why. Bob Goff's words in this book are like a pair of old jeans that you just feel like you belong in. They feel like home. They feel like the Jesus you want to know more instead of the one perpetuated to us by the establishment. Love Does is a rowdy, exhilarating breath of fresh air that will catch you off guard and make you question if you've been doing it right this whole time. You might want to pick up a copy to see if there are things that would be more worth your time than the sterile way you have been going about this Christian life. Dive in.

I read several of the stories in this book to my husband as we were driving. I knew that the simple, witty, hilarious style Bob uses to speak to us in the book would wildly appeal to him. It did. Sometimes, you get so engrossed in his stories that you forget that you are learning a lesson. Brilliance, I tell you.

We follow Bob around as the most amazing things happen to him. I want to tell you the stories, but I don't want to ruin the book for you. It's something you need to experience yourself. It is a delicious break from the monotonous how to books of our Christian culture. He asks us to quit stalking Jesus and  really get into a relationship with Him and engage the people around us. 

I read a story about Bob in Donald Miller's 
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. In the story, Bob and his kids send their house keys to heads of state and dignitaries around the world. As a result of this, they all got to meet world leaders and some even showed up for a sleepover. This inspired my husband and I to give away keys to our house. We just thought that people might need to be reminded that they are loved. 

I only had one thing that stood out to me. It was the way "religious" people were portrayed. Looking at Bob's words in the rest of the book, I don't think he was a judgmental guy or the type to jump on this band wagon to bash religion. I just know that if you look at the Jewishness of Jesus, the disciples, even Mary, these people were devout. Jesus wasn't bashing religious people. He was speaking out against hypocrites. I think Jesus loves the church. He made a guy on the island of Patmos write her letters and referred to her as His bride. Sounds like a man smitten to me. That's just my side note. Buy this book.

Bob, I am delighted that you wrote a book about the rich compassion of Christ and the extravagant lengths it goes to in the normal human life. Send me your address and I'll send you a key to our house. You are beautiful.

(I noticed the book had a brilliant editor as well. Kudos to my friend Jennifer Stair)

This book was graciously provided for review by Thomas Nelson Publishers.



Friday, April 20, 2012

Bacon Wrapped Green Beans


I always see these with barbecue sauce slathered on them. Listen, Texans, quit putting barbecue sauce on everything. Keep it on the meat. Let us be creative with the rest of our cooking repertoire. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Volunteers. Hallelujah.

 We had a group of juniors come to volunteer here from Hill Country Christian School in San Marcos. They worked all day pulling down huge dead trees, scraping paint, top coating chairs, and general sprucing up of the place. We have been eliminating dead trees since we moved in here. Our weeds were 5 foot tall back then. The dead trees are quite a big deal themselves. Some of them are forty feet tall. The place had gone unmanaged for 20 years and it is a constant effort to get these trees down. Eventually, we would love to get a fence instead of overgrown trees along the back of our property. 

I have to tell you, my heart breaks every day here. As we love on pastors struggling through hard marriage issues, mental illness, the ramifications of church abuse, seeing addicts struggle, neighbors without food, I find myself asking what the best way is to love on these people. We don't want to handicap anyone any further, but we want to help. One way is to give people things to do around here and give them food. We have let people work here and we paid their electric bill. Right now, we have the opportunity to hire a local house painter and minister to him and his family. It is interesting timing because we had been praying about God taking care of this aspect of our house restoration. Please pray with us for five thousand dollars to get the equipment and be able to pay him to do this job. 

My birthday is next week. I'd like pea gravel, mulch, or a piece of fencing. You can also come work at our house next Saturday for the sheer fun of it. 

Give to my birthday wish on facebook: Click to Donate.









Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Being Thankful.

I have been doing Beth Moore's new study on James. One of my favorite exercises that we have done thus far was to divide our lives into quarters and write things we were thankful for in each. I don't know about you, but I have had some pretty tough quarters. The first two almost did me in. That's why I appreciated this exercise so much. It made me dig through the pain to happiness. She even gave us some easy examples to get us started...like braces. I realized that despite some horrible times and situations, God's providence still shown through. He still provided some beautiful moments tucked inside the pain. He rescued me. Why do we act like we are in prison camps in Cambodia? We have every luxury and yet we focus on our lack. Stop and think. What has Christ done in your life that you have failed to be grateful for?


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Talk to me, Abba.

Do not be double minded. Cast away all doubt and fear. You have no part in these things. People often make fun of the Israelites because they seemed so wishy washy in their belief even though they saw powerful miracles and daily provision. Don't laugh. You are much the same. I move mountains in your spiritual and personal life on Monday and by Thursday mid-morning you are wondering why I have forsaken you. Have faith, sweet child. Remember, when I work I do it in a greater way than you could do or conceive and I do it at a time when no one could doubt that I had done it. Put away this need for rushing and the crutch of doubt as a comfort. I am moving. Rest in that.

"...He answered their prayers because they trusted in Him." 1 Chronicles 5:20

For more on this segment, see this post.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Kurcinka

I saw this book a while back and wondered what it might contain. I get a little weary of experts labeling children as strong-willed. Why would we want to strap our small children with the burden of a title that makes them seem deficient. These character traits we seem to deplore in small children become the tenacity we applaud in adulthood. The difference to me is seeing the beauty in the character that has been entrusted to our children by God. Our job is not to become angry at it, but to help them cultivate their personality to the glory of God. That's one of the reasons that I enjoyed this book. It touts the positive attributes of the spirited personality. We can think we are raising a terror or we can believe that we are raising a strong, passionate adult.

The main thing I enjoyed about this book was simply how it pointed out the challenges of this personality type and how to prepare for and direct it. The child that has a spirited temperament is generally more perceptive and sensitive to their environment than other children. They can have trouble transitioning and things effect them with much more depth. This can lead to being so overstimulated by environment and to tantrums. Our natural tendency is to react to these tantrums. Part of the tactic to overcoming and redirecting these tantrums is to not have adult sized versions in retaliation.

For the most part, I enjoyed this book because it gave me some clear insight into what might be overstimulating to my daughter and ways to help her engage in calm activities. I saw areas where I could help her and help myself to respond appropriately to certain situations. There are some places that I would disregard completely. Some of the suggestions were to let the child have a certain amount of tantrums or try to create this environment where things would not upset them so that you do not have to deal with the issues. For me, I want to tech my children the beauty of the spiritual gift of self-control and how to react appropriately instead of avoiding everything. I would give it 4 stars. Insightful, but not a solution. With everything that is shown to us, we must pray and ask God to show us what to do with it.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Mansion in the Ghetto

 Perhaps you noticed that I did a book review on a book entitled Quiet a week ago. This book is about the positive attributes of introversion. Maybe this let our secret out of the bag. My husband and I are introverts. We love quiet to recharge. Most people do not notice this because we love friendliness and Southern hospitality. It is true, however. I always laugh at how God uses people. He takes two introverts and gets them to open a respite and uses them to change the atmosphere around them. Irony. As I was reading the book, I really noticed how God had used the way He formed our brains to do the task He set before us. Who better than two people who love tranquility to set up a quiet place to be alone with Him. Did you know the introverted brain is designed to pick up on things the extroverted brain will never see unless pointed out to them? God designed us to see hurts in people that most people don't see or care about. Isn't that interesting. In the womb, God was causing our brains to fire in a certain way that we might do the thing we are called to do. God fascinates me.

We have people stop by our house almost every day to see what we are doing. To be completely honest with you (and I hope I am not being offensive), we bought a run down mansion in the ghetto. There are nice homes and nice people here, but it is largely comprised of dilapidated homes and drug addicts. I say this so you know how much our house stands out. It's three stories high amidst fallen in one story homes and trailer houses. Everything we do here is noticed. People driving through stop by and talk to us. History buffs come by. People in our neighborhood thank us and tell us that the work we are doing is like a beacon of light. Often I find myself immensely humbled that God chose raggedy, old us to show grace and hope to others. It's one of those "if God could use me, He could use anybody" stories. 

I think we feel like we are doing this for everyone around here. We want to paint and put up window boxes and plant trees and gardens so that others can have hope. We are making a place for those hurt or languishing to remember that Christ has deep, abiding affection for them, no matter how they feel. We are doing this so that even you in our cyber world can see the lengths God goes to in order to love and restore His people. I hope you see it. You, beloved, are dear to our creator. You are instrumental in our journey.
 One of my goals in life is to have 2 acres of produce. We have started off small because we are working on our house consistently. This savagely hungry caterpillar tried to take out my grape vines. About 40 of them had to be relocated. They are a black spotted moth. 

If any of you are compelled to come make some raised beds for us, we would welcome your help. It is on our agenda to have enough garden produce to help sustain the cost to run Gomer.
 Our first Pomegranate tree going in the ground.
 Look at the little, tiny pomegranate. She is lovely.
 I love how flowers bring joy to the landscape.
 I love irises. They are low maintenance and can survive out Texas summers. They also make me yearn for a more simple time and yearn to be with my grandmother. 
 So, we made a discovery here recently. You see, most molding in homes is miter cut so it angles together at the corners. We discovered that ours is not. It is all a straight cut. This has a glorious meaning. We can simply take the boards off and flip them over. We have been removing the paint. Now, we see we don't have to finish this. The only things we have to take the paint off of are the moulding and windows. What joy this brings. You can see I stained a piece of the moulding we flipped to the left of the buffet. Here is the buffet. I get to put a coat on every few days. I think I am almost done and then the top coat cometh. I'll add the doors when they are done and the hardware comes. A table will be made and food will be had to the glory of the Lord. Can you picture it?

I wish I could share with you all the things that God is doing here. One woman I recently began to counsel has stopped drinking after 8 years. I cried when she told me that she decided to quit. People are being fed. Meals are being given. Ladies are coming to a Bible study at our house. It is amazing to me to see what God is doing. 

Yesterday I was reading James 1:17 about every good and perfect gift coming down from the Father of Lights. Next to this verse I had written a note about a time when a man we had met once gave us ten thousand dollars. This is the amount that I am praying for now and so I whispered, "Do it again, Lord." Within two hours a man came to our house and gave us a small check that I believe will be the beginning of this. We had never met him before. He simply felt compelled to stop. We are praying for a fence to help put a buffer between the street and our children. We want to paint our house to bring further joy to our neighborhood and we want to finish the kitchen because it is such a testimony of the goodness of God. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Beauty That Surrounds.

When I first started counseling, I had this idea of being in an office with two wing back chairs facing each other and me "helping" someone else have the life they desired. I'd be well-dressed, of course and they would need me desperately. God has brought me on a much different journey. It took much longer to get me here than it did to educate me on how to counsel. Brokenness and desert surrounded me for a long time. I have learned that it is easier to counsel in a few gracious sentences than in hours of my opinion. God intends us to do this when we look the worst. He wants it when we desperately want to escape the Walmart bathroom, but there is someone at the sink crying. He wants you to offer your heart when you are desperately uncomfortable. I have had more meaningful conversations on my front porch or across the table at a hole in the wall restaurant than I ever could have had in a stuffy office. I'm better for it. The more we are real about our struggles, the more we are changed. 

I have long clung to a verse that says God is close to the broken-hearted. My prayer is that He would let me be too. He has. I have rarely dealt with people who want to be counseled about some superficial thing in their ministry. In fact, I'm honestly reluctant to help them. I love being surrounded by the broken. The presence of the Lord is so thick around them . . . even when they cannot feel it. 

There are things I have learned we all need to hear. It is okay to be in a desert. We don't have a part in the lies of the enemy. There is a season for everything. A time to dance. A time to mourn. It is okay to be in that season. We are beloved of Christ and we can trust that He will carry us to the other side.

Where do you find yourself today?

Monday, April 09, 2012

Talk to me, Abba

The graciousness of Christ abounds to you. How will you take this out to those around you? How will you choose to show grace to someone near to you right now? Our reluctance is a sign that we need to ask Christ to put to death our flesh. There are simple things, simple words, simple sentences that can change the lives of those around you. What if you showed a tiny bit of interest or three sentences of compassion? Perhaps, compassion can even be shown by not saying what your critical spirit wants to say. Don't let the spirit of criticism rob you of the joy of loving and being loved by others. 

"...May you be blessed of the LORD for you have had compassion on me."
2 Samuel 12:6

For more information this segment, see this post.


Thursday, April 05, 2012

Getting People To Care

 I was perusing the photos on my phone from the last week and this is what I found. Last Thursday we had a bunch of people over for dinner. One of those being Chad (above). Yasha just loves him. We also had 2 sets of guests Wednesday through Sunday. 
 Here is my beloved husband mowing our property. We have two acres so this is quite a commitment. There always seems to be something getting into the lawn mower and it has to be repaired. This particular time, Denbigh wanted to mow so bad by the time he was done repairing that he didn't even bother to put the hood back on.
 This has nothing to do with our house, but I decided to let Yasha eat pasta on the porch by herself one evening. We were all laughing. When she got up, there was more pasta hanging off her derriere than I had eaten for supper.
 Denbigh is a tad bit protective of me when I am pregnant. He has been letting me stain the buffet little by little. I fo course am wearing my intense, heavy duty vapor mask. It's fun though. It has really begun to transform the room. I can't wait to get the whole thing done and have a dinner party. 
 Pardon all of our work materials. Would this room be enhanced by a long elegant table or a round one? I am kind of leaning toward a long, wider table because of the lines in the room. The room itself is 15 by 17 foot. It would have lots of elbow room and easily seat ten people at a table. 
 It was somewhat of an odd week here. I got a little drained and shed a few tears, but I am thankful for the quiet that has come int he last few days. I have been thinking more and more about the people who live around me and wondering what I can best do to serve them. I have been thinking about have a fundraiser to get some big projects done around our house. We have been presented with a good offer to get our house painted for twenty-two thousand dollars less than the first bid we received. What should it all look like? How do you go about giving people love, dignity, strength, and encouragement?   How do get people to fall in love with the people around you who don't have food or that are hopelessly wading through addiction and come along side you to support them? What makes people care?