Unity or Isolation

Every marriage is either moving toward oneness or drifting toward isolation.  Our culture’s pattern is a 50/50 relationship, and typically based on merit with affection given when one feels it is deserved.  Marriage faces inevitable difficulties and constant adjustments.  The person you married many years ago is not the same person. Life happens, and we individually grapple with loss, success, aging, changes, etc…

As my husband and I re-looked at this devotional topic from FamilyLife “A Weekend To Remember”, we shared things that seem insignificant, but were moving us toward isolation.  Having that discussion and reading God’s Word together was hard.  We recognized that ignoring and stuffing are easier in the short-run, but having the difficult discussions and seeking God in prayer will bring healing in the long-run.

Oneness in marriage involves complete unity with each other.  It’s more than a mere mingling of two humans–it’s a tender merger of body, soul, and spirit.  Dennis Rainey, Staying Close

I have found after 25 years of marriage, that marriage is the combination of living in a state of forgiveness while working out  issues, and holding each other accountable.  You can spend the rest of your life being mad.  Lets face it. Every day your spouse will do something “wrong” or “irritating” in your eyes.  It’s in those moments you have to choose how you will respond.  Will you suppress, over analyze, escape, blame, attack, deny, or will you move together toward Jesus and humble yourself before Him?

Marriage is primarily about holiness, not happiness. But our pursuit of holiness will lead to ultimate happiness in the long run when we seek first the kingdom of God.

“There is no perfect spouse to be found; even really good spouses will try our patience, will sin against us, and occasionally may deliberately hurt us. Yet God can do some wonderful things through painful and even horrible circumstances.”  ~Sacred Search by Gary Thomas (A GREAT book)

I highly recommend the marriage weekend retreat for couples, “A Weekend To Remember”, if you are needing a great marriage booster!  Invest in your marriage!

http://www.familylife.com/events/featured-events/weekend-to-remember?gclid=CJi-443jn8ICFY8F7AodOlIAbg

 

Natalie’s Cakes and More

I love the verses in Romans 5 that reminds us of our source of strength during sufferings and what sufferings produce

…..because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

As we all listen to the news about Ferguson, this story brought to light this verse.  Hope does not put us to shame.  Why? Because GOD’s LOVE has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.

All the rioting and behaviors of those wanting change has brought “shame”.  This woman shines like a beacon of hope–the essence of how to REALLY change a community.

A single mom of two children, she worked hard and saved her money to open a bakery.  This bakery represented her hard work, her dream, and the talent that God has given her.  After her shop was vandalized by protesters wanting change, she was determined to work a midst the rubble, stay open, and serve on Thanksgiving Day.

Despite the mess, however, Dubose says she will continue to bake. She can’t afford to give up now, having invested all she had into a business that was funded through bake sales at flea markets.

“I am a single mom, a mother of two,” she said. “This is everything that I own. I can’t walk away from it. I just got to start-up and start baking again.”

We can all think about situations and circumstances that brought us setbacks and sufferings, but the real test is how will you use that?  Will you claim the love and power of the Holy Spirit?  Our true Hope in sufferings comes only from this amazing love and power of Jesus.  I pray that those who choose to overcome by hurting others will wake up and follow this woman’s example.  She has deeply moved me this Thanksgiving morning.  I praise God for strong women who are willing to overcome by working hard and living their dream, and protesting by creating something beautiful.

I plan to order one of her cakes to say thank you and be a part of her hope!

If you would like to visit her FaceBook:  Natalie’s Cakes and More

100 S Florissant Rd
Ferguson, MO 63135
(314) 398-3951

Pre-Thanksgiving Meal

On my way to hot yoga (a recently found love), I was listening to NPR.  A special was on about what to cook for all those different palates for Thanksgiving–the Vegan, the meat lover, the…..you name it.

So, tonight, to get my family in the Pre-Thanksgiving mood, we cooked some interesting dishes along with the tried and true.

The first recipe from my radio listen has some of my favorites:

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Cilantro

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Lime Juice

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Kale

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Mint

 

005Brussels Sprout and Kale Slaw with Herbs and Peanuts

Note: Make sure to tell your guests that this dish contains peanuts — as peanut allergies can be life-threatening.

“One reason people don’t like Thanksgiving is their badly cooked Brussels sprouts,” says Kimball. “So we’re actually gonna take a pound of Brussels sprouts and shred them into, essentially, very thin pieces.”

1/3 cup cider vinegar

3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed, halved and sliced very thinly (“You could probably also shred it with a food processor,” says Kimball.)

8 ounces Tuscan kale, stemmed and sliced into 1/4-inch strips

1/4 cup dry-roasted, salted peanuts, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

Lime juice

Salt and pepper

Whisk vinegar, sugar, coriander, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper together in a large bowl. Whisking constantly, drizzle in oil. Add Brussels sprouts and toss to combine. Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.

Vigorously squeeze and massage kale with hands until leaves are uniformly darkened and slightly wilted, about 1 minute. Add kale, peanuts, cilantro and mint to bowl with Brussels sprouts and toss to combine. Season with salt and lime juice to taste and serve.

 

So, then I came home and watched Sleepless in Seattle and at the Christmas Dinner table the father announced that Salmon would be served at the wedding reception.  Salmon!  Yes!  So, I text my hubby, and say, “Cook me Salmon tonight with Capers!”

Nothin’ like a Steve Raichlen Recipe:

Grilled Salmon with Dilled Mustard Glaze

http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/grilled-salmon-with-dilled-mustard-glaze

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  1. 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
  2. 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  3. 1/4 cup whole-grain mustard
  4. 1 tablespoon finely chopped dill
  5. 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  6. 1 1/2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
  7. Freshly ground pepper
  8. Vegetable oil, for the grill
  9. One 2-pound salmon fillet, skin on
  10. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  11. Salt
  1. In a dry skillet, toast the mustard seeds over moderate heat until they darken and begin to pop, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate. In a bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the mustard, dill, lime juice and brown sugar. Season with pepper.
  2. Light a gas grill. Lightly brush the grate with oil. Run your fingers over the salmon fillet, feeling for bones; use sturdy tweezers to remove any you find.

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Brush the skin side of the salmon with the olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Set the fillet on the grill, skin side down, and spread the mustard glaze over the fish. Sprinkle with the toasted mustard seeds. Close the grill and cook over moderate heat until the glaze is golden and the fish is nearly opaque, about 25 minutes. If the skin begins to char, reduce the heat to low and move the fish to a cooler part of the grill. Transfer the salmon to a platter and serve hot or at room temperature.

 

The tried and true?

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The joy was having my little one try the yummy Kale salad and exclaim, “I love Salmon!”  And, my middle child, cutting the potatoes for her favorite–Onion-Roasted Potatoes!

My crafty little one is busy with Pre-Christmas crafts.

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Closing out this post with Valentina’s Thankful Tree–

I am thankful for food, clean water, for my family, and friends, for school, and my house, and trees…

Can you find them?

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HAPPY THANKSGIVING!  I AM THANKFUL FOR YOU AND YOUR FRIENDSHIP AND LOVE!

 

Repentance and Renewal

As a blogger, you can see statistical data on posts read. This one, that I’m reblogging, was showing up as “read” many times in different countries. I had never heard of the country Macau, a Region of the People’s Republic of China. Someone in Macau needed a fresh start. Last night I spent time with a group of high school girls that I mentor through Woman of Worth Ministries. I was reminded that this post was written after a session with our study in And The Bride Wore White by Dannah Gresh. I guess it never matters your age, your location, or your nationality. We all long to be renewed. Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing, and perfect will.

I think it’s such a God thing that one year ago today this was written and it resurfaced in my life. Happy Thanksgiving! I pray you can do this with your family, or as an individual with God.

ARRESTED BY GRACE

This post was written for me personally and for those who have come to me asking for prayer to be renewed. Take 5 minutes to offer a time of repentance and renewal by reading aloud or silently praying in your heart and mind.

Another suggestion is to have communion as a family and take turns reading portions of this and sharing your heart as a family.  I hope to do that tonight with my family to start Thanksgiving off with a renewed spirit.

2 Timothy 3:16

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.

Jesus,

We acknowledge that your Word is Your very presence in our lives.  You created us and know what will keep us safe and joyful.  Your Word is good for me.  It teaches me and corrects my wrong thinking and doing.  Your Word trains me…

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Paper Flowers

My daughter was recently in a local play.  She was a junior orphan in the Broadway production Annie.  Flowers and cards were pouring in from those who love her most.

What was truly amazing was a little girl’s gift in her elementary school. My little actress brought home from school today a note and flowers–all homemade with  details and love crafted into every line and cut.  I just imagined her seeing my youngest in the play and then, on purpose, taking the time to bless her with a note and gift of love.  The construction paper flowers smelled with perfume!  My daughter ran into the door after school announcing this amazing gift and encouraging me to smell! “Smell!  Mom!”  We were both brought to tears of joy.

Amazing.

Little girls knowing the love of Jesus and, at an early age, desiring to love like He loves–extravagantly and without inhibition, can change our world.  Can you imagine adults sitting down to create a handmade card for someone to encourage them?  Jesus loved children so much when He walked this earth because children just…… “got it”.

Her act of love encouraged me.  What if?  What if, instead of mean girls, we clamored to encourage each other and build each other up?  What if we stopped competing with each other and instead encouraged each other’s gifts?  What if you looked outside of yourself to take a moment and encourage others?

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.  I Thess. 5:11
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Like, sweet Michelle, we can grow in our ability to encourage.  A single word, a small note, a gift from your hands, could make the difference in someone’s day.  A small act could radically change your community and the world!
ValentinawithMichellesgift

Gifts from Michelle!

 

 

Philosophìa Krateìto Photôn

Phi Kappa Phi’s name is from the initial letters of the Greek words forming its adopted motto: Philosophìa Krateìto Photôn,

“Let the love of learning rule humanity.”

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I was mesmerized by a guest speaker, and honored guest, Dr. Alison Baski, Executive Associate Dean and Professor of Physics College of Humanities and Sciences. Her life story embodied the love of learning. She spoke of a high school physics teacher who passionately sparked the interest of three young people in their junior year, one of them being herself, to understand the importance and joy of physics. They all three went on to obtain their PhD in their specific area of physics. Much later in life, they all ended up working on the same research project.

I have a junior in high school. She sat there and listened to Dr. Baski enthralled to the point of grabbing my hand to hold it. We all know that moment that you have so much emotion you want to share it with someone. My emotions were tied to her love for learning, and the importance of mentors and loved ones who support us in our love of learning. I realized in that moment the journey of my 16 year old. Her journey in learning. Would you be here today without that loved one who cheered you on, taught you new and exciting things about the world around you, or held your hand when things were too much?

It was obvious that this woman was brilliant. Her brilliance was admired, but the audience connected more to her warm and gracious smile and willingness to be vulnerable about her life experiences. It is one thing to be a lifelong learner, but if we are not kind and filled with love for others, what would it matter?

What would my Ed.D in Educational Leadership be without the love of my family and friends, their belief in me, and the determined focus to use the knowledge to make a difference in the world around me?

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Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. ….. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. I Corinthians 13

With a breath of kindness blow the chaff away….

God amazes and overwhelms me. His Word is filled with truth that confounds the wise.  There are verses that are so familiar that they have been quoted on souvenirs in the most unlikely places and shops.  They sound profound, but do we truly practice them?  God’s Word is not sentiment.  God’s Word is to be practiced with reverential awe and respect that demonstrates that we believe His Word to be true.  His Word can change us.

The age-old problem.

Getting along with those who hurt you, or offend you.

There are four things God specifically tells you to do. When you read this, you’ll either say, “You are crazy–not doing that!” or you’ll think lofty thoughts from your couch–“Yes! Jesus, you are awesome!  I can do that!”

But, then….

It happens.  You are offended and/or hurt.

Will you obey, or justify your actions and feelings?  Let’s assume that we are not talking about serious abuse or being a doormat for a bully.  I’m talking about the day-to-day, year after year, struggles with relationships.

Although, after creating safe boundaries, the best thing to do in a bully or abuse situation, is to pray.  God is a miracle worker.

God’s Word may arouse our feelings and emotions, but the years have changed me; and the more I realize that God’s Word has nothing to do with how I feel.

Love for Enemies  Luke 6: 27-28

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”

You’ve got to just do what the verse says regardless of your feelings.

Love

Do good

Bless

Pray

What do you tell a friend who is hurt? Love, do good, bless, and pray.

God specifically states that we overcome evil WITH GOOD.

You want to overcome the bitterness, the insecurities you feel, or the anger?

Love, do good, bless, pray….

 

You love them with the love God has shown you.  You “do good” through kindness, seeking to understand, and following through with the nudge of the Holy Spirit to do a certain action.  You bless them by not gossiping or pointing out their faults publicly, or through complaining/gossiping to others about the person and/or event.  You pray for God to heal them, work in their lives, and restore them.

The enemy will help you rehearse the offense and all the things you should do and say to get even, or prove your point.

Love, do good, bless, pray…..

This verse has, at times, caused me to question motives. Our actions must be from God and sincere.  Love is sincere, not haughty, prideful, or spiteful.  Pray for God to show you how, when, where, and why.  And, if rejection occurs, that you will not be moved.  God’s Word is truth and a hedge of protection, even for our feelings of rejection.

One of my favorite friendship quotes: This quote was on my mom’s wall growing up from one of her best friends, Inez McKay, a woman who mentored me as a little girl, and loved my mama so much.  She is with Jesus now. ” Hi Inez!  Your friendship still lives on in our hearts!” The Bible shares that there is a cloud of witnesses that surround us, so I know she heard that!”   🙂

“Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.” Dinah Maria Mulock Craik

We often pray for friends like this.  Friends that you feel truly safe with….

After a series of hurts and crying out to God, He clearly moved my heart from inward to outward….

“Will YOU be that friend?”  Can I live my life in obedience to God’s Word, regardless of the actions of others?

My obedience is to cultivate a friendship with God–my perfect Father and friend, not for worldly gain and comfort.

That last sentence was a HUGE REVELATION for me!  So, as I’m typing, I’m rejoicing!  It’s a MAJOR aha! moment. My purpose is to cultivate a friendship with God, not seek acceptance from man!  In a strange way, the hurts are worth it and can be used for God’s glory.  The hurts can point you to Jesus and the importance of knowing Him and His grace and love for you.

Jesus–thank you for being my best, and perfect friend.  Thank you for taking what the enemy would use to destroy us, but turning it into Your glory, Your purpose, and Your amazing grace….

Teach me to love, do good, bless, and pray……

I pray you can listen to this beautiful worship song and worship with your true best friend–Jesus