A Prayer for our Students

silhouette of person walking
Photo by Subham Dash on Pexels.com

Psalm 63:7-8 “Because You are my Helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of Your wings, I cling to You; Your strong, right hand holds me securely.”

Father, Creator of Heaven and Earth and all they contain,

We adore You and praise You for Your ever-present love and guidance through the ages. You shield us from danger, lead us with wisdom, grow us in faith and continue to extend grace and forgiveness, patience and mercy to us as we live into all that You’ve called us. Thank you for pursuing us like you do!

We confess, Father, that we often prefer our way over Your will for us. Forgive us! The language of “letting go” is not our native tongue. You have placed eternity in our hearts and we long to HOLD ON…to our people, our things, our illusions of control, our schedules, our titles, our strong wills and stubborn ways. However, in LETTING GO, You are teaching us to TRUST. In LETTING GO, we can find REST for our weary souls as You shoulder the burdens we were never meant to bear. If we must hold on, let us CLING TO YOU…and You alone…our anchor.

Thank You, Father, for the blessing of children! They are such a gift and we continue to be so grateful for the opportunity to raise them! Thank you for their compassion for others, their ingenuity, their observant nature and their exuberance for life! Thank you for their confident and creative problem-solving, their hope for the future, their refusal to tolerate intolerance and their strong sense of justice! Thank you that you’ve made each one unique and given them different gifts to use for good! Help them to step fully into those giftings and to steward them with diligence and care as You prepare them for the special duty you have planned for each one of them.

As our sweet baby birds are leaving the nest, show them how TRUSTWORTHY You are! Let us lead by example in trusting You! As they stretch their wings, capture their hearts with Your WONDER! DRAW THEM CLOSE to You and FILL THE LONGINGS OF THEIR HEARTS with Your HOLY SPIRIT! Give them DISCERNMENT as they traverse these new university landscapes…show them Your nourishing oasis of communion wherever they go! You are our stream in the desert, our thirst-quenching water…ALWAYS WITH US…never leaving our side for a moment! PROTECT them from the sway of the world that tempts to fill those longings with anything less than You. Keep them from stumbling into the vices of substance-abuse, immorality, self-gratification, accolades, pride and consumerism. Fill them, instead, with a DEFIANT JOY that is the hallmark of trusting You and Your promise to bring good from any circumstance. Fill them with STUBBORN FAITH that refuses lies and acknowledges your goodness and watch-care over them! Fill them with SATISFACTION in Your perfect timing and guidance, as doors open and close to opportunity. Let them know and trust Your WORD, remember that YOU are their HELPER, ABLE to strengthen them for any task. Give them BOLD CONFIDENCE to follow You and the call you’ve placed on their hearts…even if it looks very different than what others have expected from them. Let them walk in the light of your glory and grace…shining Your RADIANT LOVE into the aching crevices of this broken world with gratitude and humility, hope and healing. Help us, their parents, to continue to Trust You…with growing them up, protecting them, being present with them and guiding them with your wisdom. Fill us up to overflowing in all of the places where our loved one’s absence leaves gaping holes in us. Show us how to reach out to the college students or their parents around us who need that family connection, a home-cooked meal or a shoulder for support. Grant us grace, Father, to be patient with each other as this new normal leaves us a bit edgy, lonely, unsure of ourselves and grasping for comfort in the midst of so much transition. Let us always reach for You first! You are eternally our home base. We Trust You. Thank you for Your steady and loving presence as we navigate these new waters. With Jesus in the boat, we can smile in the storm.

In His name we pray,

Amen

Art Show Opening

So blessed to be a part of this amazing group of women! Come join us for the opening reception this Saturday, October 10th from 5:30 – 7:30pm on the corner of State Farm and Shadowline Roads in the Watauga Arts Council ArtSpace building.

https://www.apprhs.org/news/cancer-center/creative-arts-provide-hope-and-healing-for-patients-at-cancer-center.html

  

Forging Iron into a Song of Defiance

Cinnabar-red Chanterelle

(Cinnabar-red Chanterelle, a beautiful image of bold defiance among the decay ;o)

Today, my heart is pondering and digesting the nourishment of Sunday’s sermon-food: one morsel in church, the other in the woods. Both sermons touched on God’s faithfulness in the midst of tragedy, life amidst death, beauty out of ashes.

In the first sermon, with passionate words, Pastor Jason dished out some sermon gold with this resurrection encouragement: “to sing a song of defiance that spits in the devil’s eye.”

This is what we do when we sing in the face of death, claim joy in the middle of suffering, look through the rubble to the blessing-nuggets. God does provide blessings and creates good even through the terrible things that we endure.  After receiving my own cancer diagnosis, the pastor’s first words to me were, “OK, let’s see how God will show His faithfulness now.” And He did. One-hundred-fold. Beyond my wildest imagination! He used His people. They came in all shapes and sizes and gave all kinds of love, encouragement, laughter, hope and provision. They held my family in prayer. (Here is the link to listen to or read his September 8th sermon.)

The second sermon morsel came in visual form as light filtered through God’s canopy-cathedral on a beautiful hike through Rocky Knob. Sunshine streamed through the dark, wet woods highlighting the beauty along the forest floor where gorgeous mushroom-life teemed in the middle of the leaf-litter. My thoughts ran toward some special friends who are shining God’s light into the dark recesses of cancer battles, just like the red Chanterelle. Some, young and courageous, are waging war by sharing their joy and delight in God’s strength and guidance, fighting with traditional and alternative methods, they pray, they laugh, they shine Jesus-love all over the place. Some, older and seasoned by suffering, are stepping out in faith to strengthen others as they continue treatments themselves, wounded healers at work. Some, in quiet corners, quarantined by blood counts and weak immune systems, fight on the front lines as prayer warriors, claiming His promises, resting in God’s truth & encouraging others by their discipline.  In honor of all of those fighting in all of their unique spheres, in hopes of spreading God’s goodness around and offering an anchor in the storm, today’s post includes an excerpt from Mrs. Charles E. Cowman’s “Streams in the Desert”…my other bible of encouragement.

Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress (Psalm 4:1)

This is one of the grandest testimonies ever given by man to the moral government of God. It is not a man’s thanksgiving that he has been set free from suffering. It is a thanksgiving that he has been set free through suffering: ” Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress.” He declares the sorrows of life to have been themselves the source of life’s enlargement.

And have not you and I a thousand times felt this to be true? It is written of Joseph in the dungeon that “the iron entered into his soul.” We all feel that what Joseph needed for his soul was just the iron. He had seen only the glitter of the gold. He had been rejoicing in youthful dreams.(…) We need the iron to enlarge our nature. The gold is but a vision; the iron is an experience. The chain which unites me to humanity must be an iron chain. That touch of nature which makes the world akin is not joy, but sorrow; gold is partial, but iron is universal.

My soul, if thou wouldst be enlarged into human sympathy, thou must be narrowed into limits of human suffering. Joseph’s dungeon is the road to Joseph’s throne. Thou canst not lift the iron lead of they brother if the iron hath not entered into thee. It is thy limit that is thine enlargement. It is the shadows of thy life that are the real fulfillment of thy dreams of glory. Murmur not at the shadows; they are better revelations than thy dreams. Say not that the shades of the prison-house have fettered thee; thy fetters are wings – wings of flight into the bosom of humanity.

The door of thy prison-house is a door into the heart of the universe. God has enlarged thee by the binding of sorrow’s chain. (George Matheson)

If Joseph had not been Egypt’s prisoner, he never would have been Egypt’s governor. The iron chain about his feet ushered in the golden chain about his neck.

Father, God of peace, continually grant us peace, comfort & healing in the battle as You forge our souls into iron just like Joseph. Let iron sharpen iron as we reach to comfort others with the same comfort we have received from You. Pour out your special mercy on those young warriors and the parents who lovingly stand on your promises by their sides. 

A Heart for Gardening…

Kauai Rooster

Ahhh…daylight savings time is here! The Farmer’s Market has opened, the earth is in bloom, all the clocks are reset; the body…not so much. I don’t know about you, but I could’ve used this guy this morning along with my strong cup of joe. Being a farm girl wannabe, I love all things farm-like: red barns, cows, pastures, farm-fresh eggs, bales of hay, horses, sheep, goats, garden dirt, chickens, long farm tables and big early breakfasts. Being tied to the feeding and care-taking, the daily maintenance and the hope of harvest is something that requires patience, persistence, fortitude and lots of faith. I admire the farmers of the world who work the earth and see that hard work come to fruition. It’s a sad fact, though, that I have a purple thumb. Not a green one. Flaming Purple. The color of dying things. The Lord knows I’ve tried! My hubby knows I’ve tried! My neighbors know I’ve tried! Even my kids have tried with me, bless their little muck-boot hearts! As we emptied the terra cotta pots of spindly basil remnants, my sweet hubby gently asked me at the end of the growing season last year, “Can we just buy our herbs at the Farmer’s Market next year? Please?”

Still, as Spring approaches and warmer weather shines down, I long to dig in the dirt, to plant things and to watch them grow. I long to see new life emerge, to gather eggs and to fertilize the garden patch with my precious neighbors and long-time gardener friends. However, this year, God has seen the desire in my heart and has planted a new seed of thought:

“Would you be a heart-gardener?! Someone who tenderly observes the seasons, listens, prepares the heart’s ground to receive My plantings? Gently helping to remove rocks, fertilizing & strengthening with My promises, gathering the gems of My grace, watering and watching Me grow the seeds to fruition?”

Yes! A heart-gardener! After all, He gave us this longing. This is what He created us to do…what He calls us to do. Listen to His farming/gardening imagery.

“He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.” Psalm 23:2-3

“I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.” 1 Corinthians 3: 6-7

Jesus even went to the garden, where He often met with his disciples, to pray His most earnest prayer…“Thy will be done.” Matthew 26:42…before dying to his own will, all the way to the cross for us.

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field.” Matthew 13:44

Jesus asked Peter a third time, “Do you love me?” and Peter answered, “Lord, you know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed (Shepherd/Tend) my sheep” John 21:17

Jesus taught in parables of fig trees, landowners, soil, mustard seeds and sowers…and He promises to continually guide us…“giving strength to our bones; and you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.” Isaiah 58:11

“I am the Vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

“And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit, and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.” Matthew 13:23

Hmmm. Dying to self. Connected to the Vine. Mining for treasure. Preparing the heart’s soil to receive…the seeds of the good news of Jesus Christ, crucified to bring us connectedness to the Father…watering through baptism…feeding His sheep through His Word-the Bread of Life…watching God do the growing…now that’s some gardening I can get behind! Purple thumb and all! I love that God is Master of taking things that are dying and restoring them to fullness of life, turning that purple thumb from dying to royal! I want to be that watered garden!

Lord, help me to cease striving. I give you my purple thumb.

Help me to be willing and courageous enough to plant a seed, to feed Your sheep.

Strengthen me with the patience to wait and watch, in prayer, with thanksgiving as You do the growing. In Jesus name, Amen.

Won’t you join me?! Let’s wake up during this planting season, warm to the opportunities all around us, and be heart-gardeners together! Reach out and sow!!

“Behold, the sower went out to sow…” Matthew 13:3

Mom’s No-Giblet Giblet Gravy

…because who really wants to eat liver, heart and gizzard parts!??

This recipe morphed from my grandmother’s frugal Thanksgiving standard and was changed because my father wanted more eggs and my mother was not a fan of organs. Every year when we host the annual Thanksgiving Dinner at our house, I end up having to call my mother & rehash the particulars of this traditional gravy because I have never written it down. It’s great because you can prepare it ahead of time and simply reheat it, which works particularly well for this ADD kitcheness.

So, in honor of quirky family traditions, in gratitude to God that I have my mother to call and that she has preserved these family recipes, and for the legacy of good food that I want to pass on to my girls, here is the recipe for Mom’s No-Giblet Giblet Gravy. And thanks, Mom, for not making me eat those parts either!

Hope you enjoy!

May God fill your home this Thanksgiving with abundant JOY, grateful hearts, loving family, faithful friends and yummy food!

Mom’s No-Giblet Giblet Gravy

because who really wants to eat liver, heart and gizzard parts?!

2 stalks diced celery

2 small diced onions

sauté in 2-3 T. butter & 1-2 T. olive oil

add 1-2 T. flour for roux

sage or poultry seasoning

salt & pepper

create gravy with chicken broth

add 12 boiled eggs, sliced in rounds

add dark turkey meat bits

Snowflake Waffles for Snowy Days

Making this divine recipe has become our family’s special tradition on snow day mornings when we linger by the fire in our pajamas with hot coffee and cocoa. I won’t lie…they are a little involved…but the outcome is sooo worth the effort. Beware, calorie-conscious, low-fat only describes the destination of these treats…low. fat.

Snowflake Waffles

1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar
nutmeg & cinnamon to taste (@ 1/2 tsp. each)
2 eggs, divided
1 can sweetened condensed milk
3 T. melted butter
sugar & cinnamon mixed to sprinkle

Mix flour, sugar, salt, spices together.
In a separate bowl, mix egg yolks & condensed milk together, then add to dry mixture.
Add melted butter & stir.
Beat egg whites until stiff & gently fold into batter.
Bake in buttered waffle iron.
Spread waffles with more butter & top generously with cinnamon & sugar.

Happy Snow Day!! What’s your snow day tradition?

Mothers, chap stick & a belly laugh

Here’s a belly laugh for all the moms out there who have been patient, endured & discovered that it’s the everyday moments that we’ll treasure for a lifetime! Every Mom needs a good laugh…so read on & have a Hoot of a Happy Mother’s Day!

(Glad this one didn’t happen to me!) :o)

We had this great 10 year old cat named Jack who just recently died. Jack was a great cat and the kids would carry him around and sit on him and nothing ever bothered him. He used to hang out and nap all day long on the mat in our bathroom. We have 3 kids and at the time of this story they were 4 years old, 3 years old and 1 year old.

The middle one is Eli. Eli really loved chap stick. LOVED it. He kept
asking to use my chap stick and then losing it.

Finally one day I showed him where in the bathroom that I kept my chap stick
and explained he could use it whenever he wanted to but he needed to put it
right back in the drawer after he finished because I used it sometimes
several times a day.

That year, on Mother’s Day, we were having the typical rush around to try to
get ready for church with everyone crying and carrying on. My two boys are fighting over the toy in the cereal box.

I am trying to nurse my little one at the same time I am putting on my
make-up. Everything is a mess and everyone has long forgotten that this is
a wonderful day to honor me and the amazing job that is motherhood.

We finally have the older one and the baby loaded in the car, and I am
looking for Eli. I have searched everywhere and I finally go into the
bathroom.

There was Eli. He was applying my chap stick very carefully to Jack’s rear
end. Eli looked right into my eyes and said “chapped…”

Now if you have a cat, you know that he is right – their little bottoms do
look pretty chapped. And, frankly, Jack didn’t seem to mind. And the only
question to ask at that point was whether it was the FIRST time Eli had done that to the cat’s behind or the hundredth!?!

And THAT is my favorite Mother’s Day moment ever, because it reminds us that no matter how hard we try to civilize these glorious little creatures, there will always be that day when you realize… they’ve been using your
chapstick on the cat’s behind!