Amazing God

Anthony Evans is Priscilla Shirer's brother, and he leads worship for her at her "Going Beyond" events.  She spoke at our church in the fall on the book of Jonah, which was awesome, and the worship led by her brother was seriously powerful.  Let me just tell you, I am a gospel girl at heart!  Anthony's latest cd, "Undisguised" was released in January, and today is the last day to download his song "Amazing God" from Amazon for free!  Check out it out on YouTube.

Even if you miss it, preview the songs from his new cd here.  My personal favorite is "The Stand."  Brings me to tears every time I sing it, and it's a powerful song for worship.  He also sings his version of one of my favorites, "Revelation Song," with Kari Jobe.    Hope you're having a wonderful and restful Sunday and sabbath!


Delightful Discovery

   Okay, so I might be one of the last few people in the country to have heard of this fabulously inspiring lady, The Pioneer Woman. Apparently she was just recently on Good Morning America, (too bad our t.v. doesn't work and I have to be in class and ready to go by 7:30!).  I've seen other blogs link to her, and have always been curious, but I've never really explored until today.  It seems like she wrote the book on this wonderful world of blogging.  My two favorite features:  amazingly beautiful and wonderful tutorials for delicious looking recipes, and beautiful photos that she has taken and allows her readers to download and print out for free - like the awesome flower below!  Love it!

So for the few of you who I have the pleasure of introducing The Pioneer Woman to - (mom) - enjoy the great find!


33 Years

Today is my mom and dad's 33rd wedding anniversary.  33 years ago today, exactly 23 days after my husband was born, God united my parents as one.  I am so very thankful for the family He created that day, and for the family that my parents raised.  They raised us to know, love, and follow God with our whole hearts, and to grasp how very deeply He loves us.  I have two awesome brothers who I am blessed to call friends, and we always enjoy when we are able to spend time together.  It all started when our family was established on this day, February 26, 1977.  So thank you mom and dad for raising a family centered around God, and teaching us how to enjoy one another, live fully, dream big, and laugh a lot!  Thank you for being committed to one another and committed to our family for all these years.  It has been quite a journey...and we look forward to many more memories to come.  We are blessed to be your children and it's a privilege to call you our parents.  We love you so much!
Happy Anniversary!!!


Put Down the Apple

This post has nothing to do with food.  It does, however, have everything to do with choices.  Specifically the choice to trust.  In a previous post I posed the question, "Who has your heart and what are you seeking?"  The first woman who ever had to ponder this question was one lovely lady named Eve.  The very first lovely lady as a matter of fact.  She literally had everything - paradise as her home, a life free from pain, (including childbirth!),  a husband who loved her perfectly, and complete access to an unhindered, absolutely intimate relationship with the God whom she was created to live in a powerful relationship with.  The woman very literally had it all - not a care in the world, not a burden to bear.  Yet it was not enough.  She just couldn't help but crave, want, and go after the very one thing she could not have.  The world had her heart and she was seeking after all that it had to offer.  She was not completely surrendered to the only One who could give her everything and anything she could ever want or need, even if she didn't understand the process.

Even as I write this my heart aches and beats faster from frustration at the thought of what we as women so often do.  We live in such a way that communicates to God that He is holding out on us in some way.  That we are suffering an unbearable pain and confusion and we assume He just doesn't want to comfort.  The truth is, it's not Him at all.  It's us.  We are the ones enticed by and often falling for the apple, while He is asking us to wait.  He is longing for us to trust that He has so much more than we could ask or imagine.  He longs to refine us during what feels like a long process to get there, but we do not need to go after it for ourselves.  He will provide.  He is pursuing us into a love relationship with Him that will be like no other, that will be the source from which all other fruit in our lives is produced.  It might be painful and confusing at the time, but ultimately more life-giving than we can imagine in the end.
Yet we must choose to trust.

What is it that you are seeking?  What is your "apple" per say?  Is it love, beauty, a man, children, success, physical pleasure, perfection, affirmation, money, comfort, justice, or recognition?  What desire plagues you and challenges your ability to completely believe in the all-powerful God who specifically created and knows you?  What, in essence, is Satan telling you your life is missing?  Do you ask your kids, your boyfriend, your students, your husband, your friends or family to answer your questions of, "Am I valuable?  Am I worth it?" For me, still being fairly new and not so perfect at my job as a teacher, I fight to not let my heart go to a place of wanting to prove myself.  I am finding that when I am depending on myself, I have very little confidence and I feel like a failure.  I want to scream, "Outside of these walls I am somebody!  There are people who love and respect me!"  But God has been so gently yet firmly reminding me that even if I am never praised for my work or my efforts, if I am never talked about as one of the best at what I do, that does nothing to affect my value.  It does not define who I am or what I am worth.  Often the season of life we are in determines what it is we are seeking and who it is that has our hearts.  Yet there will always be only One who should have it, and only One we should seek heart, soul, and mind after.

Trust me, being single until I was almost 28, I know the particular struggle that involves the longing to be loved, valued, and pursued by the man of my dreams.  I prayed and prayed for years, I cried and wondered, I often felt frustrated, confused, and ugly.  I questioned and doubted myself.  I wondered what I needed to do to get the attention of others.  I often wondered what I needed to do to answer my question of whether I was worth enough, valuable enough, or beautiful enough to ever have the desire of my heart fulfilled.  Here is where I went all wrong.  I realized God alone could answer my question.  I would only be at peace when I was looking only to Him for my value, not letting anything else define me.

The book Captivating was a powerful resource God used to bring me back to Him during this time.  When I read this book I felt like I was very much reading my heart and struggles on paper.  It made me cry and pray, realize and return to wanting what God alone wants for me; trusting that He is for me and wants the best for me, and is asking me to simply fall crazy in love with Him.

In the chapter called, "Haunted By a Question,"  Stasi Eldredge, the author of this book, recalls the part of scripture that tells the story of Eve and her fatal choice. (Genesis 3:1-6)  Then she writes this:

"Alas.  There are no words.  Wail; beat your chest; fall to your knees; let out a long, lonesome howl of bitter remorse.  The woman was convinced.  That's it?  Just like that?  In a matter of moments?  Convinced of what?  Look in you own heart - you'll see.  Convinced that God was holding out on her.  Convinced that she could not trust his heart toward her.  Convinced that in order to have the best possible life, she must take matters into her own hands.  And so she did.  She is the first to fall.  In disobeying God she also violated her very essence.  Eve is supposed to be Adam's ezer kenegdo, like one who comes to save.  She is to bring him life, invite him to life.  Instead, she invited him to his death."

    She talks about Adam's role in the whole mess, then goes on to say

"And women?  We tend to be grasping, reaching, controlling.  We are often enchanted, like Eve, so easily falling prey to the lies of our Enemy.  Having forfeited our confidence in God, we believe that in order to have the life we want, we must take matters into our own hands.  And we ache with an emptiness nothing seems able to fill."

Dear friends, I ask you to take your question to Him.  Seek with your whole heart after God and ask Him to remind you of how valuable, lovely, and beautiful you are simply because He made you and He says so.  He created you, designed every ounce of you and loves you with an everlasting love.  Everyone and everything on this earth will fail you at some point.  It is the nature of the world before we get to enjoy eternity in Heaven.  Do not look to it to satisfy.  Do not compare yourself to others or allow Satan to condemn you.  Do not settle for the pleasures this world has to offer at the cost of intimately knowing and following your heavenly Father.  He promises to be faithful, but He will not make you trust Him.  This choice is yours alone.  Please do not be convinced, like Eve, that God is holding out on you.  Rather, He is holding you in the palm of His hand.  Rest there.  Put down the apple.  Pursuing it might lead you down a painful road God never intended you to travel.  Perhaps clinging to it already has you in a painful place .  Lay it at His feet and trust Him.  Seek Him and give Him your whole heart.  I promise you, He will be faithful. 

"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with your whole heart." Jeremiah 29:13


Matters of the Heart

"Above all else guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life."  Proverbs 4:23

"I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you."  Psalm 119:11

"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."  Jeremiah 29:13

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving."  Colossians 3:23

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."  Psalm 34:18 

"With all my heart I have sought You; Do not let me wander from Your commandments.  Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from your law." Psalm 119:10, 18

"For the eyes of the Lord range throughout all the earth to show Himself strong for those whose hearts are completely His." 2 Chronicles 16:9


Friends and Fruit Pizza

Tonight, after having the last two weeks cancelled due to snow, my bible study finally met again.  I so enjoy studying the Bible with a group of other somewhat newly married women who are seeking after God.  It was so nice to be together again.  And let me tell you, Priscilla laid it down.  This week's message from Discerning the Voice of God was about the character of God and how He longs for us to know Him fully and intimately.  It certainly started a million thoughts and feelings swirling in my mind and heart that I am bursting to share in the very near future!  Until then, consider this:  Who has your heart, and what are you seeking?

It was my night to contribute dessert as part of the bible study refreshments, (because when girls gather there must be food!), so here is the recipe for the yummy fruit pizza I made.  It's adapted from looking up all kinds of different versions on allrecipes.com.  Simple, quick, and definitely delicious!  Enjoy!


16 oz pkg. of sugar cookie dough (or make your own!)
8 oz. of cream cheese
1 jar of marshmallow fluff (or 1/3 cup of sugar)
1 tsp. vanilla
Assorted fruit (I used strawberries, kiwis, and blueberries)
Dark chocolate (optional)

First, spread the dough onto an ungreased round cookie sheet.  It will seem thin, but it will puff up!  Bake this at 350 degrees for about 10-12 minutes.  It will get lightly brown on the outside, but don't let it get too brown on the inside!  When it comes out, let it cool completely on a rack.

Next, when the cookie is cooled, blend together softened cream cheese, marshmallow fluff OR 1/3 cup of sugar, and 1 tsp. of vanilla.  Spread this on the pizza.

Then cut the fruit into thin slices.  Other fruits that are good for this are pineapple, mandarin oranges, or grapes.

Finally, arrange the fruit however you would like.  That's it - super simple!

You can also shave chocolate or drizzle melted chocolate over the top for a bonus treat.  This dessert is Kevin and bible study approved, and it's as much fun to make as it is to eat - hope you love it!


Fashion In The Rain

     With a sunny day yesterday and a rainy day today, one of my favorite fashion seasons is right around the corner!  Here are some fast fabulous finds for today.  I found these at zappos.com, target.com, and amazon.com.  Target always seems to have the cutest boots for the best prices.  These are mine from a few years ago...well worn, but still fun!




Thank You for the Sunshine!

Dear Lord,

     Thank you for the beautiful blue skies and bright wonderful sunshine today.  The warmth was restoring to my soul.  And thank you for the beautiful days ahead that you already have planned...we anxiously await them!




Seek First

"So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:31-34


Sock Snowmen

Check out this fun snowman craft (plus some other great snowman ideas) at Family Fun.  My class made them in December at our Christmas party.  These are the two that Kevin and I went home with.  Super cute!


From God to You

This book is my 'love it' pick of the day.  I "stumbled" upon it, (although I'm quite sure not by coincidence), when I was trying to choose the just right book to go with the new journal I gave to my husband for his birthday.  Larry Crabb is a well-known Christian psychologist and Bible teacher, and a favorite author of mine since my days in grad school for counseling.  He has written many powerful and truth-filled books including Inside-Out and Shattered Dreams.  Yet I believe this is one of his finest works.  I have picked it up a few times since I originally bought it, but really dug into it last night after spending some time in Zephaniah.

The book is set up in a way that each chapter is a "love letter" from God deciphering the message he is communicating to us through each of the 66 books in the Bible.  It's awesome.  Basically it depicts what it might look like if a person was having a very intimate conversation with God, asking Him to really explain what the Bible really says and how it relates to each of our personal stories.  Larry Crabb does such a great job of drawing you closer to the God who cares about you more than you could imagine by drawing you into the reading of His word.  Check out this book.  It will be difficult for you to put it or the Bible down.

Here are some of my favorite lines from the chapter on Zephaniah that portray the author's interpretation of what God is speaking to us through it:

"Surface change is often mistaken for deep change.  When the medication of exciting worship and inspiring preaching relieves the symptoms of sin, the need for the surgery of brokenness is no longer recognized.

If you greet My Son believing that instruction, discipline, and inspiration are enough to keep you on track, You will see Him as merely a religious cheerleader, not the holy Savior you desperately need."

"Only when surface revival where hearts remain unchanged is replaced by deep renewal, only when the judgment of death destroys the power of selfishness and opens the door to the resurrected power of love, only then will My plan become visible.

My thirty-sixth letter begins with My promise to sweep away everything and ends with My ironclad promise to bring My people home, to change their hearts so that I can look on them with delight, to pour into them the life of My Son.  What a day that will be!"


Mighty to Save

Tonight, after a long and once again exhausting day at work, I came home, got my Real Simple out of the mailbox, stepped into my nice clean apartment, (thank you snow day!), and got dinner simmering on the stove.  Then I finished the laundry, lit my Woodwick candles, made some coffee, and plopped on the couch with the computer, with the full intention of turning off my mind and "escaping" the worries of the day.  I let out a huge sigh of relief and propped up my feet.  After surfing around on my favorite blogs for a few minutes, then checking to see what's happening in the world on Facebook, I started to feel an unsettling ache that I could not ignore.  A longing and desire as a matter of fact.  All I could think was, "I need to read the Bible."  I felt an insatiable hunger and thirst to spend time hearing from God.

It has been my prayer lately that God, my first love, would become my first instinct.  No matter what, no matter when, where, or who is involved, I long and pray for every word, action, and motive to be taken to Him first.  So that at the end of a long day I am drawn to go directly to the only one who can truly restore me.

The Holy Spirit has been stirring in my soul lately, overcoming my fears and insecurities with peace, softening my feisty and stubborn heart, and healing and redeeming the wounds that linger inside of me.  He is powerfully moving in my marriage, and my husband and I can feel it.  We are so grateful, yet we know it does not simply come from our desire for it, but instead is coming from God's pursuit of us, and our ever-growing prayers to and pursuit of Him.  Oh, how he loves us!  Do you feel His great and powerful love for you?  Do you see how God is pursuing you too?  You might shake it off as coincidence or a fluke, it might even come in the way of pain.  Either way, God desires and longs for you.  He knows what it will take in your individual life to draw you close and make you most like Him.  He created us to be in an intimate relationship with Him.  In the book, Desiring God, John Piper so beautifully writes, "Our purpose is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever."  Sounds so wonderful, so simple, but oh, the distractions.  As a matter of fact, my husband, who has been out of town for a few days just called.  Now, he is the sweetest distraction on the planet, and the very one I walk alongside enjoying God with, but as I talked to him and my mind shifted to preparing to receive him with a warm welcome, I was reminded of how my time with God must be fought for, must be protected, must be the first priority, especially now that I share my home and life with someone else.  It is when I do make him my first priority that the fruit will overflow into everything else.  Even the most beautiful, wonderful, godly, and God-ordained people and things in our lives can be used to take our focus off God alone if we let them.  As a matter of fact, my best friend just texted me about baby names.  Oh how I love to talk about baby names.  I have to smile at how God is teaching me even as I write this...

So my reaction to the holy prompting God placed in my heart tonight led me to the wonderful book of Zephaniah.  If you're not careful, you'll likely miss this book in your Bible.  It is tucked away in the Old Testament between Habakkuk and Haggai.  These three books are all small, but truly mighty.  Last night my bible study took me to Zephaniah, one of the books of prophecy that speaks about the coming judgments to come on Judah.  It's actually quite somber and eye-opening, calling out the destruction that is to come on the sinners of Jerusalem because of their "corruption and spiritual blindness in continuing wickedness," as it says in the back of my bible.  Yet after the judgment that is to come is proclaimed, the mood is lifted, as the future of Jerusalem and God's promises to deliver Israel are revealed.

Zephaniah 3:14-17 says, "Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel!  Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem!  The Lord has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy.  The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm.  On that day they will say to Jerusalem, 'Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp.' The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."

Now that breathes a sweeping peace over me and fills me with intense joy.  I love the thought of God delighting in me as I delight in him.  I love that in his strength he is mighty to save, yet the very essence of him is the gentle and powerful love that is more than strong enough to quiet my worries, fears, and the matters that threaten to overcome me.  Can you imagine God rejoicing over you with singing?!  I treasure the thought.

I look forward to meditating on this verse today and in the coming days, asking God how I might reflect on its implications in my own life and praying for him to speak whatever words he might have for me.  Though I know that in order to truly hear, I must listen.  In order to listen I must be still, seek him first, pour over his word, and receive how he loves me.  He will ask me to do difficult things, I know this for sure. Yet I know even more that his promises are true, his love is overwhelming, and his faithfulness is amazing.  He comforts me and he delights in me.  This is why I claim a crazy joy in my life.  Certainly not because I am always happy, definitely not because I or anyone I love hasn't experienced intense pain.  But because never again do I need to fear.  The Lord my God is with me; and he alone is mighty to save.


Snow and Knitting

Today was officially snow day #5!  So while enjoying a day of both productive and unproductive (yet fun!) activities, I decided to learn how to knit!  My grandma gave me a great box of yarn and all kinds of knitting needles quite awhile ago, and after an inspiring night at Barnes and Noble last night, today was the day to learn.

I learned how to "cast on" after watching this YouTube video at least a million times.  I tried not to get frustrated, and I refused to give up.  Knitting is just not an easy thing to replicate simply by watching someone else do it!  After much perseverance I finally got it.  Then I watched this video from Knit Picks to learn how to make a scarf.  They also have some other great tutorials on there.  I have my sights set on making an adorable round hat!  While I can see the scarf is going to take me quite some time, knitting is very relaxing, and I am excited to have a new creative outlet!  I'm a knitter!

P.S.  This very old and "classic" book did absolutely nothing for me.  I don't think this is the sort of thing that someone like me can learn from looking at one-dimensional pictures!  But that certainly doesn't stop me from trying! :)


Fun V-Day with K-Love

I love my husband.  I waited many years for him and this is only the second Valentine's Day we have spent together.  He is so sweet and we shared a sweet and wonderful evening.

He surprised me with these beautiful (and budget approved:) ) flowers:

He also wrote in our "love journal."  This was one of our favorite wedding gifts.  It's a journal in which we write back and forth to each other - ideally at least once a month.  It's also a great way to record our "love story" on paper.  Yesterday he actually wrote me a personalized Song of Solomon verse.  Oooh.  Very sweet!!!

We hung out at Barnes and Noble while we waited for our table at dinner.  I actually saw these very same "love journals" there. :)  I hung out in the craft section... let me just say, I am crazy inspired to get the knitting and sewing going!  Homemade toys are my new favorite thing! 

We used a gift card to eat at one of our favorite restaurants, Outback.  Yum!  This was also a wake up call to us to have more date nights.  We had fun talking about our vision for our future and praying for God to lead us in the direction and timing He desires for our family.

Then we stopped by P.F. Changs to pick up the best dessert EVER to share at home...the flourless chocolate dome!!! Yum!!!  We love every bite of this dessert!

Needless to say, we had a great day.  I am reminded to creatively love my husband every day like it is a special "love" holiday.  I am so very thankful for the amazing, godly, passionate man that I get to share life with, who so beautifully expresses his love for me in such wonderful ways.  I love you K-Love!

P.S.  Did you know this holiday is named after St. Valentine who was a Christian martyr?  Fascinating!

Auntie Anne's and Krispy Kreme

If you are looking for some seriously fun family festivities, making Auntie Anne's pretzels, (thank you mom for the Christmas present!), and getting fresh Krispy Kreme donuts definitely tops the list.  Kevin and I enjoyed both with our friends Sadie and Sam on Friday night.

I'm pretty sure this is Kevin sweet talking the kind lady at the counter about our coupons!  :)


Surprising Grace and the "L" Word

I drove up to Northern Kentucky today to hear my brother Darin preach an awesome sermon on Jonah 4.  He has such a gift for creatively sharing God's word with amazing insight and depth.  I was definitely convicted  to demonstrate God's love by "surprising" others with grace and compassion rather than ridiculing with judgment and criticism.  Thanks bro...I'm proud of you and I love you!

In light of today being Valentine's Day, before he began he showed this super cute video:

"The L Word"

Have a great day  - Love love!