Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Way to A Blessed Life: Delight

{How to deepen your roots and grow in your faith through delight}

Psalm 1
Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoff
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

One of the best ways to grow in your faith, to deepen your trust, and to seek comfort from the LORD . . . to have a blessed life . . . is to "delight in the law of the LORD and meditate on it day and night."

Delight: a high degree of pleasure or enjoyment, joy

To be able to delight in His law and meditate on it, you must know it. In order to know it, you must read it. God never promises we will grow in Him by simply going to church on Sunday. He promises we will deepen and grow in our faith when we spend time in His word.

When we spend time in His word, God is able to transform our thoughts and minister to our hearts. He may not always change our circumstance, but He will change our hearts to trust in Him.

When we delight in His word, we will trust in Him and bear fruit. We will remain on His path for us, and not be blown away. We will deepen our roots and be blessed!!

I had to ask myself after I read this . . . LORD, do I delight in Your word? Do I find great excitement, joy, and pleasure in seeking You and Your word? OR is it something else?

Father, would You help me to delight in You alone! Help me to delight in Your word and Your way and meditate on it day and night! Oh that Your word would help me to worship you more. That I may know you more, trust you more, love you more, and be deeply rooted in You!

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:6-7)

Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)

I long for your salvation, O LORD, and your law is my delight. (Psalm 119:174)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

How Do You Encourage Your Man?

Recently, I've been listening to a sermon series from Mars Hill Church titled Real Marriage. It's based off a book the pastor and his wife wrote to encourage others in their marriage and most importantly in their pursuit of Jesus.

This pastor is known to be controversial, and I haven't listened to all of the sermons or read the book, so I don't really know what to expect, but . . . so far it's been great!

Challenging and encouraging.

The most recent sermon I listened to was The Respectful Wife. I download their app on my iPhone and then listen to a sermon as I do my Saturday cleaning. Oddly enough, this time, I was wanting to listen to the "husband sermon", but the app was funky and I had to listen to the one directed toward wives! Hmmmm . . . ?!?!? Imagine that?!?!?

In this sermon, the pastor mentions how you can encourage your husband and be a helper to him.

Which got me thinking . . . how often do I encourage my husband?
How often do I complement him?
How often do I speak kindly to him?
Thank him for the way he provides?
Appreciate all of the things he does around the home? Little or big?

I think all of these things . . . but does he know?
Do I voice all of the things I'm thankful for, the positive, the good as much as I voice the negative?

And I realized I need to do some repenting.

The pastor said that if all you ever talk to your husband about are the things he does wrong, needs to work on, etc. then he'll begin to think that's all you see in him.

Isn't that devastating? Just as much as our words have the power lift up our husband, they also have the power to deflate.

So what am I speaking to my husband? Words of encouragement? Words of praise? Words of honor and thanksgiving?


Words of defeat? Discouragement? Negativity?


The pastor suggested we go to your husband, with a repentant heart, and ask these 2 questions:

1. How do you like to be encouraged?
2. When/how have I been disrespectful toward you?

And with an open, teachable heart, listen.

So I took a big gulp, swallowed my pride and asked. And his answer confirmed what the pastor spoke to, what I already knew.

Ladies, our words have so much power. Our tone speaks volumes. Nagging deflates, belittles.

But oh how the words of kindness, thanksgiving, and appreciation give life!

So will you (like me) consider ways to encourage your husband? Will you think of ways to let him know he's appreciated? Will you watch your tone and use your words wisely? I am asking for the help of the Holy Spirit to lift my husband up rather than tear him down. For every good thought I have of him, to let him know. Next to my relationship with Jesus, he is my most important relationship and I want him to know that!

Let me know how it goes! And let's pray for one another this week . . . to walk in the Spirit and respect our husbands!

For more on what God's word says about husband and wives, love and respect, and marriage in general, click below:
Ephesians 5:22-33
1 Peter 3
Colossians 3
Titus 2:3-5
Proverbs 31

Monday, February 27, 2012

Meek Shall Inherit

My Journey Through the Sermon on the Mount

{Matthew 5:1-5}
"Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

In the first 3 beatitudes Jesus is saying in order to enter into the Kingdom, to be comforted, to inherit the earth, we must:
Recognize our nothingness (poor in spirit)
Grieve over our sin (mourn)
Having a humble, teachable heart (meekness)

According to my study resources, meekness or humility here is not just referring to a person’s outward behaviors or relations with fellow men. It’s referring to a mere natural disposition.

It is an inwrought grace of the soul; and the exercises of it are first and chiefly towards God.

It is that temper of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting.

It is having a humble heart towards God, one that does not contend or struggle with Him.

I think meekness is coming to that understanding of “You are God, and I am not.”

Trusting that what He says in His word is true and the circumstances He puts us through are for His good.

Easier said than done.

But really, when you think about it … if He is the Creator of all, the One who has the power to give me life and take it away, and He is sovereign and in control, than why do I struggle so much to trust?

Why am I not meek and humble when I think of my God who is all powerful?

Why do I know bow low and accept all that He places in my life because ?

Why do I look to other things instead of His word to guide me?

Do I truly accept His dealings with me as good? Without disputing?


If I’m honest, there are somethings that I DO NOT accept as good, and I do more than dispute . . . I grumble!

Perhaps that’s why over and over again in His word, you see God reminding us that it’s the humble, the meek, who get the reward.

“But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)

“Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor." (Proverbs 3:34)

“For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.” (Psalm 149:4)

Father forgive me for my prideful attitude! I rejoice in what You’ve done for me and for who You are. Help me to become meek, so that I may trust you more and delight in all of your dealings with me.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

My Story: Part 4

Shortly after coming to know Christ, my now husband (then boyfriend) moved to the Bay Area. Which meant the one Christian I knew was out of town, and it was time for me to stand on my own 2 feet.

I was living with 3 of my best friends at the time I accepted Christ. Which made it hard because our favorite thing to do together was sit out on the patio all night smoking cigarettes and drinking wine.

When Santino moved to the Bay Area, the house he was living in was his grandparents, and I was able to move in (rent free, thank You LORD!) to sort of "house sit". I remember reading through the Bible at the kitchen counter wishing I didn’t have to go to work so I could keep reading! I remember thinking “I can’t believe that’s in the Bible!”.

The first book I read on my own was the book of James. Mostly because that was my dad’s name and since his death was what launched me into relationship with God, I thought I’d check the book out! So I started to read through it at night and fell in love with it. It starts off by talking about trials and suffering, which was so comforting to me. It was the first time I felt God's word speaking to me, I could relate to it, I was encouraged by it, challenged by it, and convicted by it!

The LORD used one verse in particular to challenge me in an incredible way! I knew many people who “believed” in God, but you would never know it by their actions. I came across the verse where it says “You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.” (James 2:19, NLT)

This verse absolutely wrecked me. It was through this verse that I realized merely the thought, the believing that God exists, etc. does not mean you are a Christian, a follower of Christ, a disciple.

James is saying here that there is much more to your walk with God than merely believing He exists. Your belief should change your behavior.

If I was truly a “believer” than I could no longer go on drinking and partying all night long. I could no longer use vulgar language and spend money like it was my own. This verse was the beginning to helping me see that there is much more being a new creation than simply just checking a box.

My life should prove that I believe! Otherwise, how do I know I’m any different than the demons, who too just believe?

Soon after, I had to call my closest friend and tell her I just couldn’t go out drinking anymore. Not because I didn’t want to, but because I just couldn’t do it and continue to go to church and pursue Christ.

I asked her not even to invite me because I’d probably go (because deep down I still loved to drink!) but I was just too weak to be in the presence of alcohol. She didn’t really understand why I was making such a big deal over this, but that’s okay, because I did.

I realized that I needed to surrender ALL to walk humbly with the LORD. I couldn’t stand living like a hypocrite who believed one way and behaved another.

I feel like this verse in James was the line in the sand for me. It was the beginning of a new life.

Soon a friend invited me to The Well. My first church experience on my own, where the pastor was teaching out of Revelation of all things! I had barely even read the bible and here I was going to a church teaching one of the most difficult books in it!

One particular week the pastor was teaching on the church at Laodicea. The church where God calls the people “lukewarm”. “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!” (Revelation 3:15-16) These were people trying to live one foot in the world, and one foot out. It was me!! I was trying to maintain my partying lifestyle and grow in the LORD.

So the message was loud and clear. If I was to follow Christ, I was to seek Him and His righteousness, I needed to flee from my sinful lifestyle. The thought of God saying He’d want to vomit me out because of living like this just devastated me.

So I gave it up. I made a decision in my heart to give up the drinking, the partying, the lifestyle and seek Him and decided to live for God and pursue the life He had planned for me.

That was 8 or so years ago. Lots of moments of struggle and sin after the fact, I can’t tell you the exact time or day I “accepted” Christ but I can tell you the exact verses that led me to believe and live for Him!

Now here I am, nearly 10 years after losing my Father, still in pursuit of the LORD. And even working for our church! Who would’ve thought?

From party girl to church girl?? From being bound by sin, booze, and materialism to walking in freedom with Christ.

His grace abounds. Somedays I wish I had a much more boring story to tell. That I would've accepted Christ when I was 5 years old and never left His side. But this is my story. Because I have seen my sin and fallen so deep into the pit, I am all the more thankful of a God who reaches down from on high to rescue me (Psalm 18:16-19). My sin, my past, my regret, had led me to understand His grace in a deeper way and live with gratitude towards my Redeemer!

From the pit to the King's table. From death to new life. From sinner to saint. From losing an earthly father to gaining a Heavenly Father. That's my story.

*For the rest of my story, click here:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Worst Pictures Ever

Remember yesterday I told you I was the worst picture taker ever? I decided to post a few pics that I've taken to prove it to you! I mean what in the world is going on ?!?!

My husband holding our brand new baby nephew for the first time. Must've been foggy that day . . . in my sister's living room?

My husband after he just finished a hard bike ride. Why bother telling him to look up and smile, right?

Blurry brothers

Let's try again . . .

Maybe if I just try one at a time . . .

Dinner party with my life group

James and Uncle Tino having fun watching tv

Some kids I was babysitting

And of course, my haunted sister

I honestly do not know why I can't take a good picture!

Oh wait . . . yes I do. It's genetic. Here's a picture my mom took and sent to me . . . hahahaha!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Fun with Family {And A Few Recipes}

I had a fun-filled week with family!

Monday, my mother-in-law came over to teach me two of my favorite recipes she makes for me. (Please excuse all of the pictures. I took them with my iphone and I'm also the absolute worst picture taker ever!).

Easy Marinara (which I posted before, but made it wrong)

1/4 cup olive oil
4 tbl finely minced garlic
2 tbl dried oregano
Garlic Salt & Pepper
1 tbl crush red peper

Heat olive oil over med, add garlic and cook for 2-3 more mins (don't let brown). Add in 2 large cans of crushed tomatoes. Add in oregano, garlic salt & pepper, crushed red pepper and let simmer about 45 mins.

Capellini Pomodoro
1/4 cup finely chopped garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
1 lb vine ripened tomatoes, chopped
20 basil leaves, chopped
1/4 cup gorgonzola cheese
1 lb capellini (angel hair)

Heat olive oil over med. Add in garlic about 2-3 mins. Add in tomatoes and turn to low for 5 mins. Turn off heat, add in basil leaves, salt and pepper (to taste). Pour over pasta, add in gorgonzola.

Aren't these so simple and great!?!!

Thursday my little sister came to town for a concert and we got to have an early dinner together. She is so beautiful, but again, my picture taking makes her look a little haunted or something?

I.LOVE.HER. a crazy amount. Like I cry when I think of her being a little girl, for no reason!

And the best part of all. . .

My brother & sister-in-law moved back to Fresno!!! Oh my gosh, we are thrilled out of our minds to have them back. My husband took this picture with the caption "It all feels right again". Yes it does. Welcome back Gianni & Cydney!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Where Does Sin Come From?

{A Trip Back to the Garden}

This semester in life group we made a list of questions about God, life, the bible, etc. and we're just working our way through them, seeking truth from His word.

You need to know that absolutely none of us are bible scholars. We are all at different places in our walk with Jesus. Some are curious, some brand new Christians, some grew up in church, some did not. We’re just a group of fun, different, messy women trying to understand and love God in a deeper way.

Here were the questions we covered this week:
-Where does sin come from?
-Why are we inherently sinful?
-Did God make us this way?
-Why didn't He just make us good without the possibility of being sinful?

We dove right in to Genesis 1-3 to read with our own eyes. We noticed right away in Chapter 1 it says over and over after God created something that “it was good”. Our LORD, the Maker, makes things good from the beginning.

So if He doesn’t make us sinful then where in the world does sin come from?

And we see it in Genesis 3. We see it begins with Eve’s lack of trust, lack of faith in the Father. She doubts God’s very word. The enemy convinces her to doubt God, that His consequences aren’t that bad, He can’t really mean you’ll die, He’s holding out on you.

Do you see it:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:1-5)

So she gives way to the doubt, and believes the enemy that God is holding out on her (ingratitude, lack of faith). She trusts her own desires, she puts her wisdom above God’s (pride) and indulges. Surely if I want it, if it looks good, if it feels good, than I should be able to eat it. God doesn’t know what’s best for me, I do. I choose my way over His (selfishness).

Do you see it:
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. (3:6)

And as result, the fellowship, the peace, the intimacy they had with the Father was broken. They feel guilt, shame, fear, and regret. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” (3:7-9)

But God loved them so much He wouldn’t let them hide. He knew where they were, He knew all along. When left to mankind’s choice, we will always choose our way over God’s. We will always choose what feels good, what looks good, what we think is right over God.

A loving Father has to give us this choice, the choice to choose Him.

Which is where our questions “why not just make us without the desire to sin?” comes into play.

The desire to sin comes from the freedom to choose.
God doesn’t makes us sin, we choose it.
If He doesn’t allow us choice, then it isn’t love.

Which is real love . . .
Loving because you want to OR loving because you’re forced to?

God wants us to love Him, he doesn’t force us to love Him.

We looked up at each other and said “so what now? If we will always choose sin, how do we ever have a shot at seeing God?"

That’s when we discovered this little verse tucked away in chapter 3. After they confess their sin (though God already knew) and God reveals the consequences for their sin (death, strife, enmity, etc), He also reveals HOPE.

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (3:15)

Her offspring will bruise the enemy’s head.

This offspring is Jesus Christ! This is the first glimpse of Jesus in the Old Testament, it’s foreshadowing Christ’s death that will conquer sin once and for all!

So we see God gives us abundance.
God gives us choice.
God gives us consequence.
God gives us HOPE.
God gives us Christ.

He knew and knows we will choose sin. Christ was a part of the plan all along.

In our sin, in our choice against God, He loves us enough to provide a way to be reconciled.

We walked away realizing you can't understand John 3:16 without understanding Genesis 3:15.

The reason we need a Savior, is because of our sin.

Thank You Jesus.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24)

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Spiritual Pathways

Christians don't always access God in the same way. In fact, there are various ways in which we can feel God's presence in our lives. God wants to be fully present with each of us. But because He made us to be different from one another, we are not identical in the activities and practices that will help us connect with him.

What leads you into worship?

When do you feel closest to God?

If you'd like to find out which pathway helps you best connect to God, please read through the descriptions below or take the Spiritual Pathways Assessment to find out more!

Spiritual Pathways
Relational: you connect best to God when you are with others or in significant relationships.
Relational people feel closest to God by connecting with others, deepening relationships. Living in community comes easy to you. Being alone drives you crazy. Relational people are good at entering in and sitting in the mess with others. Relational people love to be in small groups where they talk about their feelings.
Danger: People pleaser.

Intellectual: you connect best to God when you learn.
*This happens to be one of my highest. I have always loved learning, and academic environment excites me, which is probably why I became a teacher. I love listening to sermons, reading books, finding how many times the word “hope” or “wait” is in the bible, studying Hebrews, Romans, & Proverbs in my life groups, etc. these activities absolutely delight me! I feel so close to God when I read and study His word. It is a source of encouragement, excitement, comfort, and challenge for me. It thrills me to read and I desire to know my bible to know Him more. Intellectual people get nervous in small groups when people start talking about how “well to me, this verse means . . .”.
Danger: Arrogance, Legalism

Worship: I connect best to God when I worship.
Praise and adoration flow from these people. Outwardly expressive. Perhaps moved to tears or deep joy, God seems so close during worship. This is my highest. Sometimes I put my ipod in and kneel on the floor and sing and cry and shout for joy, longing to see Jesus face to face. Since I’m also highly intellectual, I love reading scriptures that bring me to my knees in worship . . . like the Psalms or Isaiah 40 or even the end of Romans 11.
Danger: Emotionalism

Activist: you connect to God when doing great things.
You have a passion to act. When you hear an injustice, something must be done!
Danger: Don’t let God become a means to an end.

Contemplative: you connect best to God in silence.
These people are observant, reflective. This is Santino, my husband. He is a contemplative intellectual so he needs quiet time. I’ve learned to keep the tv off so when he gets home our house is soothing, calm, quiet. He retreats to the study around 7:30 and I usually go in 3-17 times until he comes out. After corporate worship, he is out the door within 5 minutes. It stresses him out just thinking about how much I do in one work week or how many people I meet with. If he gets too busy or has too many people around, he feels drained.
Danger: Isolation

Serving: you connect to God while completing Kingdom tasks and helping others.
You want to know what you can “do” in a group setting or with people. This is my mother-in-law. She is always taking meals to someone, or visiting elderly friends, she’s starting answering phones at the church. The other morning Santino was cooking breakfast at 6am for his life group and she offered to come over and cook it and clean up!
Danger: Don’t get so caught up in serving, you forget you’re a child of God too. Abding in Christ is hard for those who love to serve.

Creation: you connect best to God in nature.
This is my worst one, which is weird because I’m kind of a secret hippie and I love pictures of nature and fields and oceans. However asking me to take a walk in the woods to connect to God sounds kind of horrifying. Worship is my highest, but it’s not usually when I’m looking at a sunset that I worship God most, it’s when I’m in His word, listening to music that stirs my heart or with His people (either relationally or serving). This is why when Santino takes a long bike ride on Saturday mornings, I no longer get upset. I realize that those 2 hours of alone time riding through hills and dirt and nature is equivalent to the 2 hours I spend in worship/prayer and reading through the Psalms.

The danger is saying because you’re not an intellectual pathway, you just won’t study your bible. Or because you’re not highly relational you won’t be in biblical community. The important thing is not to think there is one way to connect to God, that we all have to be like the guy behind the pulpit. We also can't let our feelings dictate our beliefs and it's a must that we read the Bible and let Truth guide our thoughts.Above all these are ways you connect to God, and although some won’t feel natural to you, they are still wonderful biblical practices that will stretch you and grow you.

So . . . did you discover your spiritual pathway?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My Story: Part 3

{Finding Redemption & Love on the Side of the Road}

Last post (Part 2) I shared how my dad's sudden death spiraled me into a season of asking questions and seeking answers. Although his death was sudden, unexpected, and confusing . . . there was also such a sense of peace.

A peace that I could not understand.

How could I find peace in a time when my whole world was just turned upside down?
How could my sisters and I be laughing on the way the way to his burial?
It was so strange . . . yet so real.

I know now that it was God. Comforting me, sustaining me, and filling me with a peace beyond understanding. My father's death and this inexplicable peace was what led me to pursue the LORD. I asked the pastor that did my dad's funeral service "I want to read the bible, but where do I start?". He suggested reading through a chapter in Mark and a Proverb each day.

So I went home and I did. For a little bit. I tried to stay away from my partying life style (for fear that in such a time of tragedy if I leaned on booze I would become an alcoholic or something) but that only lasted about a month.

And soon, I found myself going out and partying and coming home and reading the bible drunk, before I went to bed.

Yes. You read that correctly. My first bible readings were through blurred eyes and drunken thoughts.

A year or two later life was back to the same pace-working, school, partying, working, school, partying, etc. Until one day I was driving from work to school and pull up next to my high school sweetheart. We rolled our windows down, said hi, exchanged numbers to "catch up" and drove off. I kind of had butterflies and really hoped he'd call. I had always wanted to talk to him after my dad died, since he knew him so well but thought oh that was years ago, etc.

A week goes by, and he calls! We set a date to go and have lunch. The minute we got there I felt butterflies again. I was so nervous to see him, I remember trying on what seemed like 100 things trying to look skinny, because I had gained about 20 lbs of drinking weight since high school, but I didn't want him to know :-).

As we were eating, the mood changed. He got very serious and started to apologize. He was asking for my forgiveness for how he had treated me in high school and most of all, for not really acknowledging my father's death. He said it was weighing on him and he felt so bad.

I was so confused. Something was so different about this guy. Why would he apologize after all these years? Why would he feel so sorry for not acknowledging my dad's death? It was 4 years since we dated. I remember looking across the table at him wondering, what going on? Something was so different about him.

I found out that while we were broken up, He had come to know the LORD. He became a Christian and I could see the difference in him. The LORD had brought him back into my life at the perfect time. I started to ask him lots of questions about Jesus.

Why Jesus? Why Chrisitianity? Why does His death on the cross matter to me?

He started to share scripture and truth with me. He gave me a book "Case for Christ" by Lee Strobel that answered many of my Jesus questions. We watched the Passion of the Christ together and he'd pause it and explain to me what was going on and who the guys in the weird hats were. He was teaching me all about Jesus and I was falling in love with him because of it!!

About a 1 1/2 years later we were married. I was following hard after Christ because (my now husband) Santino, led me to Him. I tell people it was divine intervention that day at the stop sign on Chestnut and Shepherd! The LORD had us meet on the side of the road that day so that I would meet HIM in eternity.

I'm still amazed when I share that story. We are a part of a much bigger story with a God who can do far more than we'd ever imagine.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Mourning Glory

My Journey Through the Sermon on the Mount

{Matthew 5:1-4}
"Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."

We have often heard this scripture quoted to those who have just lost a loved one. In an effort to comfort, we call them blessed for mourning. God blesses your sadness.

However, according to my study resources, the meaning for mourn here is “to have a deep sorrow for sin.” It’s "a grief so all encompassing it cannot be hidden."

Why in the world is that a blessing? To feel terrible about what you’ve done?

Do you feel sorry for your sin?
Have you felt a deep sense of grief over your sin?

So here again Jesus is telling us we need to feel so broken, so bankrupt (poor in spirit v.3), and so grief stricken to receive the Kingdom of Heaven and to receive comfort from the Comforter.

He is telling us that those who come filthy, poor, and broken are the ones who will receive forgiveness and eternal life.

Religion teaches us we must clean up our act, walk a straight line, and do it on our own to earn eternal life.

Jesus says it’s poverty in spirit, grief, mourning that leads us to Him in glory.

Mourning is the road to glory.

Are you still trying to earn God’s love?
Are you still so “good” that you think you deserve eternal life?


See yourself before a holy God and ask yourself again.

If we are so high on our own pedestal, then how can the LORD our God reach down to rescue us?

If we have it all figured out then what need do we have to depend on Him?

The reason this place of mourning is considered “blessed” is because it is the beginning of seeing who we are (or better yet, who we are NOT) in comparison to who God is.

Our mourning helps us to see His glory more clearly.

Will you mourn with me today?

"For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret . . ." (2 Corinthians 7:10)

Friday, February 17, 2012

From None to Some

"For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come." (1 Timothy 4:8)

I have long used this verse to support my choice over reading the Bible rather than exercising. Or just not making exercise a priority in my life. When it comes to exercising and a choice over something else, I pretty much choose the "something else" 9 times out of 10. I thought once I stopped teaching I'd have more time and energy and I'd exercise regularly. Well I haven't. It was time and energy I needed, it was motivation and accountability.

I have suffered from headaches since I was a little girl. And more recently chronic pain in my neck and back. A friend told me (after visiting Stanford and UCSF for her chronic pain and headaches) that moderate exercise is important because it produces endorphins (your body's natural pain killer). The thought of no more pain and headaches=MOTIVATION!

I also love to walk. I love to meet with ladies and talk about life. Why not combine the two? Have a walking partner, that I can connect with, talk with, that can spur me on! A good friend as your walking buddy=ACCOUNTABILITY!

So, after some repentance and much needed accountability, I am back to exercising (moderately, but consistently).

I have come to a place where I realize a little word in this verse.


It doesn't say exercise has no value. It doesn't say it's the most important thing. It says some. So I appreciate new lessons in God's word. It is of some value, but not be held higher than godliness. I'll exercise moderately and consistently, but the godliness, that I'd like to do whole-heartedly.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Theology Thursdays: Where Do We Start?

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7

This verse is a great beginning place as we study theology and explore God's word in a deeper way. After all, it shows us where the knowledge begins, in fear of LORD. To gain knowledge . . . start with fear.

What does it mean to fear the LORD? To have a deep respect or admiration and humility before the Maker and Redeemer. Before we can go any further in our understanding we must come to a deep place of reverence for the LORD.

We should be in awe of the LORD and worship Him because...

He is glorious
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” Psalm 19:1

He created us
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13

He chose us
“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will”
Ephesians 1:4-5

We are saved

"For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." Romans 10:13

We are adopted
“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!"” Romans 8:15

Christ lives in us
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

We are justified and glorified
"And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” Romans 8:30

We are blessed
And the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." Revelation 19:9

Our Creator reached down from on high and rescued us . . . bringing us into a spacious place (Psalm 18:16-19).

Remembering the things listed above is how we humble ourselves, worship, stand in awe, and fear our LORD. That kind of fear is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom. Thanksgiving and praise for what He did to us, in us, and through us. I hope we bow our hearts today in reverence, filled with fear, that we would receive knowledge from our King.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My Prayer Place

Last Wednesday, I wrote about one of the rhythms I've gotten into the past few years in my time with the LORD which has sustained me and led me into worship.

Saturday Mornings

I spend Saturday mornings with the LORD, studying His word, worshipping, writing, and praying. It has been the sweetest, most sustaining time I have with the Father. I look forward to it, protect it, enjoy it, glean from it, and delight in it.

Being in His word without a time limit is a gift! I know that this is a season of life where I can enter into fellowship with the Father often, and I try to take advantage of that as much as possible. When I was teaching full-time and involved in other ministry things 2-3 nights a week, I didn't have hours everyday to spend studying. So this was a habit I developed and Saturday mornings with Jesus have sustained me, filled me, and led me into adoration and worship of our King!

Another thing that leads me into worship is prayer. I love going before the Throne of Grace and seeking the LORD. Once or twice a week, I have a real intentional prayer time. I have a prayer place in my house. It's in my guest bedroom, by the side of the bed. I lay out comfy pillows to kneel on, I stack up requests that people have sent me, and I leave out cards of recent weddings or birth announcements. I leave a bible out and open to the Psalms. I read through a psalm or two before I pray to help guide me and enter into His presence through worship and adoration.

I don't write all of this to sound pious, but to just offer some insight into things that have helped me love and worship the LORD with more of my heart, soul, mind, and strength. I just can't get into the "morning devotional" routine, 2 minutes of prayer while driving to work feels like I check a box more than I seek the LORD, and I just don't feel fulfilled when I spend time with the LORD like that. These are just practical ways I spend time with the Father, and hopefully someone will find them helpful!

If you're like me, your "prayer place" can be the hardest place to get to. So I pray throughout the day, I talk to God often, I think about Him all the time . . . and I seek Him intentionally, in my prayer place, 1-2 times a week.

I wrote a post on prayer awhile back on why getting to our prayer place can be so hard and shared some practical tips on how to overcome prayerlessness. You can read it here: Prayer

What are some things that help you when it comes to prayer?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Different Kind of Valentine's Day

Oh Valentine's Day . . . the holiday of love. A day to celebrate that special someone in your life. A day to rekindle flames, honor vows, and spend way too much money on stuffed animals and chocolate.

But today . . . I'm thinking of Valentine's day a little differently. Not to put a dark cloud around a bright day, but I'm thinking of those who don't really have much to celebrate today.

If you do, that's great! I do! I have a wonderful husband, who spurs me on to love Christ in a deeper way, who loves me, who makes me laugh, and provides for me beyond anything I could imagine, and I am celebrating that. I know God wants us to enjoy the life he's given us to the fullest, so this is not to rain on your parade or make you feel guilty for enjoying the blessings God has given you. You absolutely should delight in the gifts from The Giver.

However, this Valentine's day there are some people heavy on my heart that won't be celebrating so much. For them, today is just a painful reminder of what used to be or what they wish it would be.

I'm thinking of my mom, a widow, who will be missing my dad today.

Grandma Ida who will be spending her first Valentine's Day without Grandpa Frank in nearly 60 years.

My friend who just became a single mom because her husband up and left her and their 3 children, with no notice.

Or my single friends, who follow hard after Christ, who will be hoping for God to hear the cry of their hearts soon.

"Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." (Romans 12:15)

For some today is a day of rejoicing, for others a day of weeping. If you are one who gets to enjoy today to the fullest, then by all means rejoice! But please don't forget those who are weeping.

Who can you encourage today?
Who do you know that is spending Valentine's day alone?

As I was praying for those who are weeping today, God kept bringing to mind 3 words:


Even if we are celebrating with someone or without, there is only One who loves without condition, who will never leave you or forsake you, only One who can "complete you". While I celebrate my husband today, I also remember the greatest Lover of all . . . the one who overcame the cross and grave to find my soul*.

The One who "heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." (Psalm 147:3)

If today, you have something to celebrate, celebrate! Rejoice! Give thanks! Respond in love!

If today, you have wounds and heartache . . . would you run to the One who heals?

"Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13)

*"Till I See You" by Hillsong

Monday, February 13, 2012

Poor in Spirit

{Matthew 5:1-3}
"Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
As I walk through Jesus’ teaching from the Sermon on the Mount, I see how upside-down His kingdom is. He teaches opposite of what we feel, think, or have been taught to believe. The guy on TV says I’m blessed when I’m healthy, wealthy, and full. Jesus says we’re blessed when we’re poor, mourning, humble, hungry, and thirsty.

Which is it? Why?

Why would Jesus tell us the starting place is a lowly place? A place of poverty? Brokenness? Spiritual bankruptcy? Why would God want us poor?

When we are poor in Spirit, we are brought low. We see God for who He is and we see ourselves for who we are (sinful) and who we are not (righteous).

When we are poor in spirit, we are awakened to see our position before God. A position of lowliness, dust, nothing, poor, spiritually bankrupt, lost, and far off.

A.W. Pink said “To be "poor in spirit" is to realize that I have nothing, am nothing, and can do nothing, and have need of all things. It issues from the painful discovery that all my righteousnesses are as filthy rags. It follows the awakening that my best performances are unacceptable, yea, an abomination to the thrice Holy One. Poverty of spirit evidences itself by its bringing the individual into the dust before God, acknowledging his utter helplessness and deservingness of hell. It is the Spirit emptying the heart of self that Christ may fill it: it is a sense of need and destitution. The one who is poor in spirit is nothing in his own eyes, and feels that his proper place is in the dust before God. {Pink, A.W. (2011-06-28). An Exposition of The Sermon on The Mount (Kindle Locations 241-242). Unknown. Kindle Edition.}

Don’t you see being poor in spirit is a blessing? As long as we think of ourselves more highly that we ought, we are filled with pride and have yet to taste of His grace. When we see ourselves as sinful, we see The Cross more clearly. God is not interested in us trying to clean up our own mess, He is interested in being our cleansing flow.

It is only from this place of emptiness we can be filled by the One who satisifies.

It’s only from this place of brokenness that we can be made whole by the One who heals.

It is only from this lowly place that we can be lifted high.

It’s only from being poor in spirit that we will receive riches in Christ.

Poverty of spirit leads to mourning, humility, hunger, and thirst for God. Poverty leads to gratitude . . . gratitude of His life, His death, His blood, His resurrection, His grace.

It’s this lowly place that leads us to His grace.

“But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (James 4:6-10)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Stay Connected

Friends . . . there is a disease among us. One that lures us in for the moment, but leaves us weary and unfulfilled by days end.

The Disease: Busyness.

The symptoms: weariness, discouragement, bitterness, anger, discontentment, distress, unhappiness, ingratitude. We are too busy to stop, pause, reflect, listen, connect, and rest.

Our Doctor, Great Physician; Our Healer, the Lover of our souls, is well aware of our disease of busyness. That's why His word is full of prescriptions to nurse us back to health.

The Prescription: ABIDE
1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

Please, I beg you, don't continue to fill up your schedule to the neglect your soul. Will you consider doing less so that you can abide more? Stay connected to the True Vine . . . it is the only prescription that can cure. He is the only One that will make you healthy and whole.

"And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:31-32)

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Fun Friday: 2 New Recipes, 1 New Habit

So, I've dedicated Fridays on this blog to trying new things, FUN things. This week I tried 2 new recipes (both from my mother-in-law) and started one new habit.

Simple Baked Chicken
Preheat oven to 400.
Rub chicken breasts with olive oil, paprika, & season salt. (I was out of paprika so I used cayenne pepper, and didn't have season salt so I used garlic salt. NO measurements, I just guessed.)
Put chicken on foil. (On foil, don't wrap it in foil.)
Bake for 20 minutes on top shelf.
Turn chicken over, bake for 10 more minutes.

Done! How easy is that? And since we baked it on foil, I did not have pan to wash, so so so so easy!

Easy Marinara
-1/4 cup olive oil
-1 tbl minced garlic
-4 cups of crushed tomatoes
Heat olive oil. Cook garlic for 1-2 mins on med-lo (don't let it brown). Add in crush tomatoes and cook for about 30 minutes. Add salt & pepper to taste.

I love learning new recipes that are simple and basic. You can use these for so many different meals!

One New Habit: Walky-Talkies
No, not the toy. I love to meet with friends for coffee and talk about life. And, I desperately need accountability when it comes to exercise. So I decided instead of meeting for coffee to talk, we could meet for walks! My friend Jenny inspired me to get my fitness on. She took me on a 4 mile walk Monday and I've gone walking almost every day since!

What new things or fun things are you trying??

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Theology Thursday: Questions

Last week, I asked "If you could find the answer to any question about God, the bible, spirituality, life, etc. what would you ask?"

Here were some of the questions that you responded with:

Why did Jesus come at the point in history when he did?

Why isn’t the doctrine of the Trintity more clear in the bible?

Why are all sins considered equal? Are there different degrees of sin?

How do you love like the LORD? How do you love difficult people? People that have hurt you?

Can you lose your salvation if you turn too far away or become hardened?

Why did God create us to be inherently sinful?

Who are the women of the bible? And what were there roles?

How do you know the bible is true?

Plus 50 more! We'll be spending this semester as a life group going through the bible to find the answers! Check back on Thursdays for answers to these theological questions (get it-Theology Thursdays), and feel free to leave any others you may have!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Saturday Morning Challenge

When I started teaching, I quickly learned that I was too exhausted to do anything after work. I was a newlywed, and I love serving my husband, so I did cook dinner but beyond that, nothing. Exercising was out of the question, reading my bible was to “check a box” and “get it done” so I didn’t feel so guilty.

By the time the weekend came, I was so drained physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I was out of energy, overwhelmed, tired, discouraged, and cranky. I could hardly do anything Saturday morning. So I started to protect that time at home. I slept in and did not plan anything until after lunch time.

I’d start a load of laundry, get my breakfast, and plop down at the counter with my books and my computer. I’d check my email (I didn’t have Facebook or Twitter yet) and then I’d just linger. If I found a devotional or article on website, I’d read it. I’d open my bible to whatever I was reading, and dwell there. I’d go off to my prayer place and pray (for myself, my husband, and the 20,000 people I’d offer to pray for throughout the week).

I just committed my Saturday morning to abiding in Christ. No agenda, no time limit, no excuses. And I’ve been doing it ever since.

My Saturday mornings are guarded and protected in my home, with my LORD. I saturate myself in the presence of the LORD. It is my time to be filled by Living Water and satisfied by the Bread of Life. Just like I make coffee dates or lunch dates with friends, this was my date with Jesus. (Sounds hokie, I know!) But honestly, we put everything else on our calendars, why not put some time to be intentional with the LORD?

This has brought so much freedom in my time of study with the LORD. I usually pick one book of the bible, or one sermon series to listen to, and stay there until I finish. {I don’t do well with bible reading plans because I often get more caught up in finishing rather than abiding, so this has worked for me.}

I treasure Saturday mornings like none other. I enjoy slowing down enough to read, pray, listen, worship, and rest. And to be honest, it fills me up like nothing else. Whatever I study/read on Saturdays I keep in my heart and meditate on throughout the week. I strive to be in the Word daily, and this practice has just broken the chains of feeling guilt for “not being in the Word enough”. I am often thinking about the Word and going back to it more because of my time on Saturdays.

Not only that, I feel like I’m growing in God’s word in such a deeper way. I read through the Sermon on the Mount several times in January. Now in February, I’m creeping my way through verse by verse. I can tell you meanings of words and verses that I never knew before!

This week in life group, we read through John 15 and talked about what it means to abide. I challenged my life group this weekend to just commit the first hour of their Saturday to the LORD. Don’t turn on the tv, don’t make any plans. Just wake up, open your bible, and abide.

John 15:5 tells us “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

We are so drained, so busy, so tired, so broken, so discouraged . . . and I wonder if this is why? We are doing it all apart from the One who sustains, fills us up, renews us, gives us strength, heals us, encourages us, and guides us.

Will you consider taking the first hour of your Saturday and spending it with the LORD? Feasting on the Bread of Life and drinking Living Water? If so, leave a comment about what you’ll be reading, or join me in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).

I promise, it will fill you and sustain you more than you can ever imagine!

“On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:37-38)

“Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35)

“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” (James 4:8)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

My Story: Part 2

{My experience with life, death, and Jesus}
My Story: Part 1

Fall of 2002.
I was in my 3rd year of college, taking 25 units in one semester because I wanted to spend the next semester studying (okay partying) in Spain. I was living the life, going to school, working at a restaurant, going out at night, etc. Life was good . . . fun . . . livin’ in the moment.

I was home one evening with my little sister, waiting for my dad to get home. My parents were in Stockton, visiting my grandma who was recovering from surgery. My dad was on his way home, but it was late, so I went to bed. I was laying in bed when I sat up, and gasped for air. It felt like my heart dropped or something.

A few minutes later I heard a knock at the door. It was a man I didn’t recognize, so I yelled at my sister to go get the door, thinking it was one of her friends. After a few minutes passed and I realized the guy hadn’t left, I went down stairs. The guy was asking us in broken English if he could come in because something had happened.

He told us my dad had pulled over on the freeway, had heart attack and died.

We we’re so confused.

I called my dad, to tell him some weird guy was at our house telling us he had died, but my dad didn’t answer. I called my mom and told her. She called the police, and they said they’d send someone out to her right away. We knew what that meant. And they arrived and confirmed what the man at my house was telling us. My dad had died. Right there on the side of the road.

That was it . . . one last breath, one last heart beat. His life was over.

How could that be? So suddenly, without warning, without preparing . . . so young, so soon, so unexpected. That was so hard to understand, to feel, to experience.

I remember feeling immediately like I had absolutely no control over my life. Here I was planning out my future, off to another country next semester, and everything unraveled in just seconds.

If I wasn’t in control of my future, or when I would take my last breath, then who was?

And this was when I realized there has to be something more out there, answers to questions, someone/something in control, but who? What?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Crowd or Disciple?

The Sermon on the Mount is Jesus longest sermon or piece of teaching. It is His words to His disciples, the crowd, and the religious people of the day. Jesus is not only teaching in this sermon, He is also reteaching. He is giving a more accurate view of who God is and who we are in response to that.

Much of what the religious leaders of the day had done was distort the character of God. They had made people take up “religious activity” rather than know and rest in the Truth about our Heavenly Father. Jesus is about to shift their paradigm, not only with what He teachers, but the way He teaches it.

He is teaching to His disciples, He knows the crowd is listening, and He is rebuking the religious people. All in the same sermon.

He knows His audience. He knows who’s listening, who’s learning, who’s watching from afar, and who’s waiting to pounce.

“Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying…” (Matthew 5:1-2)

There were crowds, and then there were disciples.

Do you notice that Matthew made it a point to make a distinction between “the crowds” and “disciples”. Not all who were gathered, listening to Jesus, were His followers.

Crowd: audience

Disciple: A learner, one who follows one’s teaching. A disciple was not only a pupil, but an adherent, hence they are spoken of as imitators of their teacher.

Which are you?

Are you like the disciples who came to Him?
Do you come close to God?
Do you follow to glean from His words? To listen, and learn?
Do you imitate Christ out of a grateful heart?


Are you like the crowd?
Watching from a distance?
Watching the show, listening, but never entering in?
Waiting for spectacular but have yet to come close enough to see Jesus face to face?

It’s easy to be a part of the crowd. You can blend in, you can seem like you’re a part of the movement, you can play the part. But remember . . . the crowd is fickle. At first, watching, following, it seems as if they could even be disciples. The crowd rejoiced, shouting “Hosanna”, during the Triumphal Entry, and days later that same crowd screamed “crucify him!”

Let’s step out of the crowd and into relationship. Let’s become a disciple. Not one who plays church or looks the part, but one who is sold out to following Christ. Complete surrender, complete trust, complete pursuit of our Teacher.

Let people know us not by the crowd we sit in, but by the One we imitate. Let’s come close to our teacher, let His word change us so our lives display what we believe!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Put the Dishes Down, and Rest!

"A sitting silently at the feet of Jesus is of more worth than all the clatter of Martha’s dishes." - Charles Spurgeon

I read this on Twitter this week. It's not the first time I've seen it, and not the first time I've needed to hear it. I'm starting to take Sabbath seriously. Finding that resting in the LORD is the only way to accomplish anything.

So here's to doing less dishes this weekend and abiding more! Will you join me?

"Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Fun Friday: New Recipes

Okay . . . I never, ever, ever post fun, real life, stuff on my blog. Probably because I'm much more reflective and studious than I am creative or fun (actually that's not true, I'm super fun). I love reading other people's blogs and seeing all of their cute crafts or fun recipes, but I have to admit, that's

I really don't enjoy cooking. There, I finally confessed it! I feel like the only woman on earth who doesn't delight in trying new recipes or baking cookies for my husband, but I've accepted that I just don't. I honestly would rather organize my pantry, read through Romans, or memorize Proverbs.

But because I love my husband like 100 million, I have committed to being more spontaneous . . . in the kitchen. {Hee hee}

Thanks to Pinterest, here are some of the new recipes I tried last month. (If you click on the title above the picture, it will bring up the recipe so you can try it too.)

Cilantro Lime Shrimp

Quinoa Fried Rice

Lemon Tuna Pasta

I won't post the 4th recipe, because I ruined it and it turned out awful.

Hope you have a Fun Friday and try something new, out of your comfort zone, too!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Q & A

I’ve mentioned before I did not grow up knowing the LORD or with much knowledge about the bible. So, when I started to seek Truth, I had LOTS of questions.

For me, I grew up hearing all the time about Jesus being “the only way”. I heard “Don’t you know He died for your sins?” I had no idea what this meant or how it could be true. So for me, before I placed my faith in Christ, I had some questions.

1. Who is Jesus?
2. What does His death have to do with me?
3. Why is HE the only way to Heaven?

Although we are saved by grace, through faith (Ephesians 2:8), there are some facts, some knowledge we base our decision on. I needed to hear some evidence, some truth, and some explanation of these things. I needed to know before I believed. Because after all, with knowledge comes understanding, right?

There are still many things I don’t understand. I know I walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). I also know God says His thoughts are not like our thoughts, and His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55), but I still have lots of questions. Many of which I believe I can find the answer to.

So . . . how about you? Do you find yourself asking questions, trying to understand better, make sense of it all? I don’t think we’ll ever fully grasp God and His infinite wisdom or His purpose to why things happen . . . but I certainly think if we ask, if we seek, we can find answers.

What questions do you have? If you could find the answer to any question about God, the bible, spirituality, life, etc. what would you ask? Leave it below, let’s answer seek Him out together!

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Start Somewhere

I’d love to spend time on Wednesdays sharing about some of the spiritual disciplines or spiritual practices (that sounds less strict) that have led me to worship the LORD with more of my heart, mind, soul, and strength.

Let’s start with an obvious one.

Bible reading.

For whatever reason, since I was a child, I absolutely loved learning. In my post yesterday, I told you all about how crazy I was about playing school, after school. I still love learning and studying, but I realize, that might not be the case for all of you. I think that might be what makes part of reading the bible so difficult. Not everyone loves to sit in solitude for an hour to read through Romans!

But we’re exhorted time and time again to make reading your bible of utmost importance. We are told to meditate on this book day and night (Johua 1:8), to be devoted to teaching (Acts 2), to be sanctified in truth (John 17), and to renew our minds (Romans 12).

So we know reading the bible is good for us, it will grow us up in the LORD and conform us to the image of His son. But, let’s face it . . . most of us feel a lot more guilt than pleasure when it comes to reading.

I don’t do it enough.
I should be in the Word more.
I’m not in the Word daily.

We’ve all said that, right? I think part of that is healthy conviction, but the other part is guilt and shame from the enemy that keeps us from entering into fellowship with the LORD.

So here’s my encouragement for this week:

(Okay, I stole that from Nike.)

But really, just do it! Just once, pull out your bible, and read it. Then, go from there.
Even if it’s just reading for 2 minutes to start with, start there. Start somewhere.

Here are some practical tips that have helped me:
-Leave your bible out and open.
-Don’t turn on the tv first thing when you get home.
-Download a bible app on your phone. Instead of checking Facebook or Pinterest, read through a Proverb or a chapter in Matthew.
-1st day of a new month, start in the first chapter of a new book!

(I'm not a morning person, so you won't find "wake up 10 minutes earlier" on my list, but I've heard it has worked for others!)

And please, share any practical tips that help you devote time (even if it’s 2 minutes) in the Word!