Keeping The Faith

In an effort to stay connected with my college Woman of Worth ladies,  I will be posting devotional thoughts and questions from our book, The Freshman 15 by Kate Henderson.

See you on October 9 (College Fall Break for CNU and Richard Bland)

See you on October 15 (College Fall Break for VT)

Please email me questions about those dates if needed.

Parents and students please read the article below by clicking on the title.  You can also see the highlights below and come back to the article later.

Dropouts and Disciples: How many students are really leaving the church?

Some highlights:

Church attendance among teens and young adults follows some important patterns. There are always some coming and some going. Yet something significant happens between the ages of 17 and 19 that accounts for the vast majority of those who leave. At age 17, the twice- monthly attendance of our study sample drops as follows:

  • 16–17, drop 10%
  • 17–18, drop 14%
  • 18–19, drop 13%

What Works?

Statistically, we found four factors that were the most predictive in determining which teenagers stayed in church:

  • I wanted the church to help guide my decisions in everyday life (prior to 18).
  • My parents were still married to each other and both attended church (prior to 18).
  • The pastor’s sermons were relevant to my life (prior to 18).
  • At least one adult from church made a significant investment in me personally and spiritually (between 15 and 18).

the freshman 15, chapter 1, Keeping the faith

Your faith will be tested, and little by little you may find yourself pulling away from a daily intimate relationship with Jesus.

How does this happen?

We often jump to answers surrounding temptation and rebellion against God’s principles and promises, but it can be summed up into one word:

BUSY

College Students are usually busy with the following:

  • New friends
  • New living space
  • Job
  • School work
  • Extra curricular activities
  • Staying connected to your family
  • Relationships
  • The pressure of the Dean’s List
  • Time spent with emotional thoughts–excitement, worry, fear, confusion, questioning

Matthew 6:25-34 reminds us not to worry about our life.  If you’ve seen the movie War Room, the prayer warrior gives complete control over to Jesus in the most challenging of circumstances.  This frees you up to pray, worship, and study God’s Word.  You allow God to fight your battles, and you trust that He will provide.

The answer to busy?

PUT GOD FIRST

NO MATTER HOW YOU FEEL OR WHAT’S ON THE CALENDAR

In the Freshman 15 book, she gives you packing instructions for college.

  1. Must pack: SEEK GOD FIRST

What does it mean to seek God first?

2. Must pack: SPEND TIME WITH THE LORD

What are the things keeping you from seeking Him first?

When are you going to set aside time daily to be in His Word and pray? Where (be specific)? What are you going to study? Will you keep a journal?

3.  Must pack: GET PLUGGED INTO A LOCAL CHURCH

For example, I went to Christopher Newport’s website and found this! (click on the word “this” for a complete list)

Baptist Campus Ministries (BCM)
Baptist Campus Ministries is a student-led organization open to all denominations and anyone exploring their faith. It provides opportunities for Bible study, discipleship, fellowship, and missions. We strive to cultivate strong community and develop church leaders. Baptist Campus Ministries at CNU is a part of a nation-wide organization known as Baptist Collegiate Ministries.
website: www.cnubcm.weebly.com
email: bcm@cnu.edu

When searching, you want it to be a good fit, but remember it may not be like your home church. Churches are not perfect, and you are there to worship Jesus, not to find out if they have a coffee bar, comfy seats, or a pastor that’s hip and cool.  You want teaching grounded in God’s Word and a place that emphasizes growing in the knowledge of Jesus, grace, and prayer.

I’m going to add a fourth to the suggested three in the book.

4. Must Pack:  A COMMITTED MIND

Every decision you make and action you take, originated with a thought in your mind. The Holy Spirit is your comforter and powerful tool to keep your mind SET on keeping your faith.  No one else can do this for you.  There was a time your parents encouraged you in spiritual matters, but little by little, it becomes your journey alone with Christ. In fact, this is the most important decision you will make in college. Good grades, a career, perhaps a future spouse are the practical, most evident important decisions before you. Yet, unless you seek God first and His will for your life, these crucial areas could be disastrous or confusing.  Your JOY is found in Christ alone, and He directs your path and future.  Will you be courageous?

Choose THIS DAY whom you will serve!

But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”  Joshua 24:15

Change the words Euphrates and Amorites to modern-day words like busy, apathy, influence of professors and friends, parties, relationships, school work, …..

and

Take a stand! Say, right now out loud—

BUT AS FOR ME, I WILL SERVE THE LORD!

This day is sweeter than you know

I was recently asked to share the “thought of the day” using the “word of the day”–

It was perfect God timing, but not good timing in my mind.  A recent loss in our community made me question the word hope.  So when I was asked to speak on hope, I literally said out loud, “No way! God, really?!”  A dear friend of mine prayed for me, and she shared an incredible devotion on hope. (If you are reading this Leah, please post your devotional!)  On the way to the service, I drove behind a car with a license plate–3 Hope.  God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, our eternal hope.  God speaks to our soul and connects thoughts, circumstances, and questions using His Word and His love through others.

This day is sweeter than you know.  Live in the moment and embrace Hope.

Thought of the Day

It is said, that “hope differed makes the heart-sick but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life”. Our vision of things hoped for may not always align with the reality that we are living in. How can we be hopeful even when life does not turn out the way we had hoped?

I have learned three important lessons about Hope:

First, we embrace confident expectation and a firm assurance that all things, no matter how disappointing, will work together for our good, or someone else’s good.

Secondly, we turn from the disappointment and embrace the blessings. We are grateful for the longings that have been fulfilled. We are hopeful for future longings fulfilled.

Lastly, we all have the ability to be hope givers. When someone leaves your presence are they more hopeful about their future or circumstances?

Today—change your mindset

  • I will embrace confident expectation and firm assurance in my circumstances.
  • I will embrace the blessings and longings fulfilled.
  • I will choose words and actions that offer hope to others.

Last night my sweet girl sang to me.  Her life is a longing fulfilled, and a blessing.  We sat on the sofa singing.  No television, no busyness, just rest and song.

All of us: Stories of His Amazing Grace

God is timeless.  He was before; He is present; He is future; He is eternal.

God’s Word begins:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. Genesis Chapter 1

The last chapter of God’s Word:

“Yes, I am coming soon.”

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

The grace of the Lord Jesus

be with God’s people. Amen.  Revelation Chapter 22

Oh, John, yes….His grace has painted a beautiful story.  He is with us.

In between creation of the world, and the coming of Christ, His story, our story, my story are revealed.

What is His story?  What is your story?

His story in your life is revealed in the darkest of moments.

He reveals deep and hidden things;
    he knows what lies in darkness,
    and light dwells with him  Daniel 2:22

His glorious love is a light that breaks through the darkness, and we are forever changed. How can we know the things of God without seeing His love and light as the breakthrough, the backdrop, the anchor, and the pavilion of His majesty and glory?

The light dwells with him, and he dwells in the light (1 Tim. 6:16), and yet, as to us, he makes darkness his pavilion. Some understand it of the light of prophecy and divine revelation, which dwells with God and is derived from him; for he is the Father of lights, of all lights; they are all at home in him.  (Matthew Henry’s Commentary)

If you find yourself in deep despair and a darkness of the soul, remember His light WILL break through and reveal His plan, your story, our story.  You are His grace story.

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. I Peter 5:10

But we Christians have no veil over our faces; we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him. 2 Corinthians 3:18

When Christ returns for His children, and we are eternally His in the perfection of Heaven, we will have only just begun.

Until that time my sweet friend, we are all living His story of Grace, generation upon generation, until we are eternally led home.

Amazing Grace

When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun

Amazing grace how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now am found
Was blind, but now I see

Was blind, but now I see

Video:  Amazing Grace

Creamy Rosemary Potatoes (Pioneer Woman Style!)

Once you make this recipe, you’ll never go back to mashed potatoes!  NEVER! I made this dish for a dinner party.  It was “bring a side dish”, and I wanted to do something extra special.  This hit the nail on the head.  I left the house in such a mess, and my sweet husband, who came home later than my departure, wondered if the girls had “done it again!”.  I forgot to text him.  There were peppercorns everywhere, and every dish I used out on the counter.  I was running late!  We’ve laughed about my pioneer efforts since then.

Creamy Rosemary Potatoes

Ingredients

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, plus softened butter, for the baking dish
5 to 6 medium russet potatoes
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely diced
One 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup half-and-half
2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
3 green onions, light green and medium green parts, thinly sliced
1 cup grated Parmesan
Special equipment: a madoline, optional

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Rub the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with softened butter.

Using a mandoline or a very sharp knife, slice the potatoes very thinly. They’ll cook better that way. Place the potatoes in the baking dish and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and some pepper.

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In a large skillet over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the garlic and onions and cook until translucent, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes.

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Valentina was fascinated by this little chopper! I’ve had this kitchen tool for 26 years! It was a wedding gift!

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Can’t you smell the butter, onions, and garlic cooking?

Cut the bar of cream cheese in half and add the halves to the skillet, stirring constantly. Continue stirring until the mixture is smooth and combined, about 3 minutes.

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Anything with cream cheese is my new favorite!

Pour in the half-and-half and stir to combine. Mix in 1/2 teaspoon salt and some pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings as necessary. Do not undersalt! Add the rosemary and green onions and stir to combine. Finally, mix in 1/2 cup of the grated Parmesan.

Pour the cream cheese mixture over the top of the potatoes. Scrape out the skillet to get every last drop. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup grated Parmesan generously over the top and bake until golden brown and bubbly, at least 1 hour. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
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I would love to show you a picture of it cooked and done; however, it was all gone before I could do so!  It’s that yuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuum!  My mom shared that the sauce would be good for other creamy vegetable recipes.

THANK YOU PIONEER WOMAN!

Recipe courtesy of Ree Drummond

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ree-drummond/creamy-rosemary-potatoes.html?oc=linkback

I get to go to work!

Rainy days and Mondays always get me down…

I owe! I owe! It’s off to work I go!

24/7

I was thinking of all the negative lyrics and quotes surrounding Monday morning, and working. We’ve created hump day, thank God it’s Friday, and the dreaded Sunday night, “Ugh!”–tomorrow is Monday.

What if…..

God was the first worker–creating the world, and He saw that it was good.  He rested on the seventh day.

God is the primary worker, busy with the creation of the world (Genesis 1:1-15). The Bible states that God worked for six days and rested on the seventh day. These passages reveal that God was the first to do work on the earth. Therefore, legitimate work reflects the activity of God. Because God is inherently good, work is also inherently good (Psalm 25:8;Ephesians 4:28). http://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-work.html

God reveals Himself through His Work. So work reveals who we are.  Our work exposes our character and our motivation.  Sin came into the world and work became complicated. Work continued to be good and a way for us to bring God glory, but we now face the challenge of our sins, and the sins of others in the workplace.

But what is work? We go all the way back to the beginning of our existence and what God told Adam and Eve to do:

To cultivate means to foster growth and to improve. To maintain means to preserve from failure or decline. To subdue means to exercise control and discipline. Rule over means to administer, take responsibility for, and make decisions. This mandate applies to all vocations. The 15th-century Reformation leaders saw an occupation as a ministry before God. Jobs should be acknowledged as ministries, and workplaces should be considered as mission fields. (http://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-work.html)

Solomon in all his glory found that work was meaningless.

Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.

When we attempt to find ourselves in a work, it is meaningless. When we attempt to honor and bring glory to God, we will find meaning and purpose. Last night we watched a funny, true story of someone following their dreams.  They worked hard at their passion.  It reminded me of the joy of work.

What is your passion? The one thing that will drive you, motivate you?

Yet, as I pondered this, I remembered God’s Word.

It’s not the job, it’s the purpose.

No matter where you find yourself, and the name of the company on your paycheck, you have an opportunity to reveal the glory of God! Your mission field is the floor you sweep, the bed you make, the kitchen you clean, the paperwork you are drowning in, the conflict with your coworker or boss, the client you serve, and the unexpected circumstances that occur.  You don’t work for XYZ company, you are working to bring Glory to God.

So “Watch your mouth”.  You don’t have to go to work.  You GET to go to work.  It’s a privilege and honor to work.

A podcast that will help to shift your mindset about school, work, parenting, paying bills, exercising, etc…

SEASON 4, EPISODE 6: WATCH YOUR MOUTH [PODCAST]

How Small Changes in Your Vocabulary Can Make a Big Impact on Your Life

http://michaelhyatt.com/season-4-episode-06-watch-your-mouth.html

Pumpkin-Pecan Tart

Martha Stewart has done it again!  Loving her recipes lately.  After a long day, I lounged in bed watching her Pumpkin episode.  I fell in love with the tart, because I love brown sugar and pecans.

My alterations included freshly ground nutmeg to the filling. We purchased fresh nutmeg from Penzey’s Spices in Cary Town.  When we went grocery shopping at the Kroger in Cary Town, we purchased our nut meg grater!  Martha had one of those!

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I also did not want to make the crust from scratch.  My husband was all about it, but I saw a frozen pie crust in the freezer and knocked off an hour or so of cooking time.

Pumpkin-Pecan Tart (Click on recipe title to go to Martha Stewart’s webpage where other pumpkin recipes are available, including a pumpkin cheese cake!)

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE CRUST

  • All-purpose flour, for work surface
  • 1/2 recipe Pate Brisee
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten

FOR THE FILLING:

  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of coarse salt

FOR THE TOPPING

  • 3/4 cup light-brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of coarse salt
  • 4 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and chilled
  • 1 1/2 cups pecan halves

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  • Sweetened whipped cream, for serving

DIRECTIONS

  1. Make the crust: On a lightly floured work surface, roll pate brisee into a 14-inch round. With a dry pastry brush, sweep off excess flour; fit dough into an 11-inch-round tart pan with a removable bottom. Fold edges toward center to reinforce; press into sides of tart pan. Prick bottom of tart shell all over with the tines of a fork. Cover with plastic wrap; chill tart shell until firm, about 30 minutes.

  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Uncover and line chilled tart shell with parchment and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Transfer to oven and bake until crust is set in pan, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove weights and parchment and continue baking until bottom of crust is lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Brush crust with egg white and let stand 5 minutes.

  3. Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees.

  4. Make the filling: In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, condensed milk, eggs, cinnamon, and salt. Pour filling into cooled tart shell; transfer to oven and bake until slightly set, about 15 minutes.

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  1. Make the topping: Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt; using a pastry blender or your hands, mix in butter until mixture is crumbly. Add pecan halves and mix to combine.

  2. Remove tart from oven and reduce temperature to 350 degrees. Sprinkle topping over filling and return tart to oven; bake until topping is dark golden-brown and center is bubbling slightly, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool. Serve with whipped cream.

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Here it is on a pedestal!  Martha shares that some foods just look better on a fancy pedestal!  The “darkness” is from the brown sugar! Totally yummmmmmmmmmm!

Circle of Security

I recently attended a workshop on attachment presented by The Circle of Security. Our workshop consisted of learning about the importance of attachment in children and feelings of security within trusted relationships.  Whether we are needing a safe haven to be comforted, or the courage to take risks, all of us need a sense of belonging and someone to call “homebase”.  Obviously it’s seriously important in babies and younger children, but we never “grow up” and out of needing this sense of belonging and security.

Circle of Security

You will notice on the circle that “delight in me” is needed in order to explore and take risks, and, when we return to homebase, we need comfort when things just don’t go as well as we had hoped.

As a parent, do your children know you “delight in them”?  How do you show this delight? Do they feel they are a burden, annoying, or in the way?

I was amazed how God brought scriptures and messages after this workshop on how He delights in us.  I began to think of all the times I faced simple challenges to great risks, and He was there to cheer me on and comfort me.  I also thought of the times I fell to my knees in prayer and needed comfort when I failed, or felt insecure and He was there.

God wired us to be in relationship with Him.  He truly delights in us.

The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

Do you see the “circle of security” within this verse?

Jesus tenderly loves us.

When we grasp this love and its eternal security, amazing change happens in our minds.

I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. Hosea 2:19

Our minds are filled with life experiences from our past, our current situation, and thoughts about our future.  We have days in which we are ready to take on the world, and we have days in which we need to find comfort in the arms of the One who perfectly delights in us.

In Ephesians Chapter 6, God reminds us that “our strength must come from the Lord’s mighty power within you.” (verse 10)  Every day when we wake up or go to bed at night we think on this “circle of security”, and we put on the armor of God.  Verse fourteen tells us that we will need the strong belt of truth (His Word) and the breastplate of God’s approval.  There is more to the armor, but my soul stopped there on the word “approval”.  I was in the Living Bible translation.  I imagined facing the world with my mind and body protected by God’s approval–HE DELIGHTS IN ME.

If God created us for relationship, and He knows we need His truth and guidance, imperfection and failure will always be a part of my daily life; yet, HE DELIGHTS IN ME.

As you look at the circle again–

Circle of Security

imagine those hands being the hands of God. Always believe that He is BIGGER, STRONGER, AND WISER, AND KIND.  He desires to protect you, comfort you, organize your feelings and thoughts with HIS TRUTH, and, most importantly, He delights in you! He has great plans for you (Jeremiah 29:11), and those plans are underpinned by His support and delight in you.

We long for family members or our spouse to fulfill this, and God has placed those people in our lives to provide a circle of security.  We would not survive this world without trusted human connection and relationships.  It’s God’s desire to use His people to provide for others. As much as we long for these connections in others, God is the only perfect source of security and perfect love. Remember His love when someone fails you. As He delights in us, we, also, delight in Him.

 “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

This great exchange gives us the strength to face the world, extend mercy and grace to those who hurt us, and provides the courage to move past our mistakes and try again.

Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand. Psalm 37:24

When your thoughts or someone tells you a lie, remember the belt of truth (God’s Word), and the breastplate of approval.  Think more on His truth and approval and less on your feelings of anger, rejection, or self-loathing. Talk more about the details of God’s love for you, and His delight in you, and less on the details of the mistake and the wrong that was done.

Run to His arms and find delight!

God–our exceeding joy!

“Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy.” Psalm 43:4

For more information on Circle of Security as a parent or professional in the field of counseling and supporting families click on link embedded in “Circle of Security” and watch this video: