The Way of Love

I Corinthians 13

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

Chapter 13 of I Corinthians describes a holy love called agape.

The essence of agape love is goodwill, benevolence, and willful delight in the object of love. Unlike our English word love, agape is not used in the New Testament to refer to romantic or sexual love. Nor does it refer to close friendship or brotherly love, for which the Greek word philia is used. Agape love involves faithfulness, commitment, and an act of the will. It is distinguished from the other types of love by its lofty moral nature and strong character. (http://www.gotquestions.org/agape-love.html)

The most brilliant, talented, or gifted human being you know or admire without commitment, faithfulness, and an act of will to embrace and practice the love of God for man and of man for God is a “noisy” individual.  The kind of noise that is described as a cacophony or irritant. Perhaps we can dismiss this lack in others, but over time as you journey with God, you find yourself understanding more and more what this verse is declaring. You desire this love within in you.  Perhaps you requested this to be read on your wedding day?  The misty eyed bride and proud groom stood side by side announced that their marriage relationship would put into practice this Holy, Godly love. Friendship love surrounds them, the honeymoon night will come and their “Eros” love–sexual love, will culminate a beautiful day.

Years go by, and marriage relationships will face the inevitable trials and temptations. Children grow up, and in finding their way, make decisions that were not written in your story book.  Aging parents are cared for, jobs come and go, and your love story is played out year after year.

The greatest love is an act of will to choose agape.  It’s a commitment or act of will to forgive daily, to extend yourself in situations that most would ignore, ridicule, or chastise; yet, you choose to work at the relationship. Today, how can I act on this Holy commitment.  It is within our communion with God, that He gives us the grace and strength to act on this commitment.

  • It’s Jesus bending down to engage with the prostitute.
  • It’s God sending His Son as a little baby to save us–redeem us.
  • It’s the mother hugging her angry child.
  • It’s the husband actively loving his despondent wife.
  • It’s the wife walking the journey of her husband’s addiction, and choosing to love, and forgive.
  • It’s the caretaker listening despite their hurts and fears.
  • It’s a friend who chooses to understand the reason behind the hurtful words, and seeks to understand.
  • It’s the soldier serving his country and fighting for freedom for unborn children.

God calls us to choose joy and to love in the midst of the hard–the changes. What if God put us on hold until we figured things out?  He loves us despite ourselves, and asks us, in return, to shower that same love on those He has put in our lives. Maybe you are very busy serving and doing, but God is asking you a heart and soul question.  “Do you love?”  If not, your acts and works are noisy.  It’s a noise that mostly troubles you–your soul work.  God can heal and restore.

Today, Lord, Jesus, help me to “willfully delight” in those whom You have called me to serve and love.  Thank you Jesus for delighting in me.  May I start there–Your love for me. Jesus I know you can heal and show us how to “willfully delight”.  Amen

 

 

Dar Luz–The Light Has Come

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.

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Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.

And, God saw that the light was good;

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and God separated the light from the darkness.  God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.  And there was evening and there was morning , the first day.  Genesis Chapter 1

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God created every intricate detail of the world, and every hair follicle and cell in your body.  It stands to reason, that we, too, are asked to join in His creation.  God is creative and full of life-giving promises.  He takes chaos and brings order.

“Wherever there is darkness and pain it is the will of God that humanity acts on the side of goodness and truth.  God’s act of creation continues to this day, and Advent is a reminder that human beings are called into living deliberately to make the world a better place.” (Bozzuti-Jones, The Womb of Advent, 2007)

Believe that you, God’s creation, can participate in God’s continuous and magnificent creative creation!

I think upon God’s perfect order and the harmony of His work.  Night gives way to day, just as the darkness gives way to light. God created the darkness for a purpose.  How could we enjoy the sunrise without the darkness of the night?  How can we fathom redemption without our desperate need for a Savior, a blessing without the knowledge of a curse, or healing without suffering?

Jesus, the light of the world, was hidden in the darkness of the womb of Mary. The darkness of the womb was created by God to fashion a human soul, and for His Son, Jesus, to be brought into a world in desperate need of His light.

“In Brazil, they actually describe the birth of a child as the giving of light: dar luz, people say.  It is their way of saying–and I delight in this–that a woman has brought a light into the world.”  (Bozzuti-Jones, The Womb of Advent, 2007)

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Our first grandchild is to be born in June, 2016

I love that my daughter and son-in-law put the baby picture on their Christmas tree–the coming of Advent season, the coming of Jesus, the coming of God’s creation in my daughter.

During the time we found out that our first grandchild is to be born, we went away to a marriage encounter weekend…..

My husband and I experienced an incredible Marriage Encounter weekend.  The entire weekend was God creating something new in us individually and as a couple.  Our tears brought exhaustion, healing, and hope.  We were a part of God’s creation.  With no time to walk the beach during the encounter weekend, my exhaustion burst into a renewed spirit as the weekend came to a close.  It was just my husband and I, sitting on the deck of the hotel watching the sun set.

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The day closed with us watching the stars appear, but so very dear to us, is that first star that appears so bright in the sky.

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Our First Star

Parish, my husband, read to me,” A Child’s Dream of a Star” by Dickens.  His favorite author and my love for having someone read to me, brought the night to a rapturous close. What a tender story that seemed to give a metaphor to our weekend’s work.

God gently woke us up in the morning with His soft and tender beauty of creation–the new day.  Ever so slightly, as the minutes passed, His glorious sun broke forth into a new start–a new day!  Just as Jesus came into the world over 2,000 years ago.

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This last picture captures my soul work.  As I gazed on the sun’s rays pouring forth over the waters, the power and love of our God was bursting forth from heaven on to earth to His people. I imagined myself, like Peter, walking on water, taking the lighted path to a new and renewed Hope.  His faithfulness, day after day, sunrise after sunrise, beckoning the world to take part in His creation!

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Days after the retreat, I would close my eyes, and I would remember that moment.  “God, please keep me here in my soul, my mind, and my spirit!”  Cause me never to forget the work that was done, the healing, and the promise that each new day brings a new work–another opportunity to be a part of Your Creation.

“When we are aware, we are more creative.  And when we are more aware of the things of God, God is more creative within us.  It is not our awareness that causes God to be more active, but we become more conscious of the power of God in our lives.” (Bozzuti-Jones, The Womb of Advent, 2007)

Love deliberately

Forgive decidedly

Witness consciously to God’s ongoing act of creation

This deliberate decision is not an act of finality or perfection.  I’m still in the midst of my marriage encounter, as well as facing another season in this life’s journey. I walk alongside friends who are struggling with illness, unspeakable loss, and hurting marriages.  It’s in the journey we can rest in the uncertainty, knowing that God is faithful. As we walk the lighted path home towards His light and love, He promises to keep creating in us, loving us, and holding us.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Psalm 51:10

 

 

 

Memphis Style Ribs by Parish

The first time Parish made these ribs, I was laying in the bed watching the “Love Comes Softly” movie series with my windows open.  Between the laughter of little children playing outside, the perfect breeze, and the smell of his ribs on the grill, I bathed myself in joy, gratitude, and a few tears.  It’s a Sunday afternoon memory I will never forget.

Here it is Sunday again.  I’m not laying in the bed. I am busy at work cleaning and getting ready for Bible Study, but the smell is still captivating and sensual.  Vivian came downstairs and exclaimed, “It smells like Christmas!”  I love my life.  Try this recipe as a family and be whisked away to paradise.

Memphis style ribs use a dry rub verses a sweet, sticky barbecue sauce.

Ingredients:

2 racks of Pork Ribs

Dry Rub

Wood for smoke ( we used hickory and pecan chunks)

Charcoal (we use Kingsford blue bag)

1/2  cup Apple juice

1/2 cup Apple cider vinegar

Directions

Let’s start with the charcoal.  Put a standard chimney starter load of charcoal heaping over the top on one side of the grill, and place a few soaked wood chunks in it. Then you take a small chimney starter or a 1/3 to a 1/2 of a standard chimney starter full of charcoal and light it.  Dump this on top of the unlit charcoal.  Then add some more wood chunks on top.  The lit charcoal will burn and slowly light the unlit charcoal and this allows for a longer cook time at low temperature.  You will need to experiment with adjusting your top and bottom vents to keep the temperature lower.

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Place a drip pan on the opposite side of the grill from the charcoal.  Place your cooking grate on the grill and position the ribs over the drip pains and away from the charcoal.

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I try to maintain between 250-270 degrees for a couple of hours.

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Combine the apple juice and the vinegar and a teaspoon or more of your dry rub, this is your mop sauce that you can baste your ribs with periodically.  I did it about every 45 minutes as to not open up the grill too much.

When you open the grill you can also move the ribs around to minimize the time they are closer to the heat.

Smoke/cook for at least two hours (you’ll raise the temperature after this to finish cooking them).  Cook them until the meat shrinks away from the bone (see the up close picture below)

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Note: These ribs ended up cooking/smoking at 260-270 degrees for 2 1/2 hours.  I opened the vents to raise the temperature to 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours.  I finished them off in the oven at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes (it was time to eat!).

Total cooking time about 4 1/2 hours.

How to prepare the meat:

Pull off the membrane from the less meaty bone side of the ribs. You can get it started with a knife then use a paper towel to grasp it and pull it off.

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Generously sprinkle the dry rub onto both sides of the meat and pat it in. Don’t forget the sides and edges of the meat. I prefer Penzey’s Barbecue of the Americas, but used Stubb’s this time. Stubb’s is a little more salty.

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If you have the time, you can soak the meat in a dish with some apple juice for 1/2 an hour to an hour prior to the rub.

We prepared some rosemary potatoes to cook alongside the meat. The rosemary smelled divine!

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The Freshman 15: Time Management Lesson 2

“College is the land of opportunity” (Henderson, 2013, pg. 17).  You probably have already signed up for clubs, developed a routine, and continuously discovering that there is “oh so much to do”.

Be effective by being selective

Let’s face it most of your days will be busy with constant deadlines.  However, by being selective about new opportunities and prayerfully considering your time, God will show you when to say “no”, and when to say “yes”.  In my life experiences, there have been insane moments in which I felt strongly to say “yes” even though I knew it meant more time and effort.  I trusted God to provide the strength and provision of time.  In faith, I knew I had to say yes.  Other times, I’ve equally felt God calling me to say “no”, and I had to trust Him.  What are your spiritual gifts, and how can God use you to further His kingdom work?  When you know your gifts, you can be selective.  Never limit God’s calling you out of your comfort zone, though.  Trying something new, may open doors for growth.

Take the spiritual gifts test for FREE!

http://giftstest.com/test

REST

Jesus “went away to a quiet place to rest”, and God rested on the 7th day.  God created sleep to rejuvenate you, and heal your body.  Lack of sleep impacts your memory, emotional well-being, and in some cases irrational thoughts/hallucinations, and has been linked to heart disease and other health related issues.  Sleep is a time for you to store all of you’ve learned in your memory, and to heal your body.  Laying in the bed and checking your phone, and being on your computer is not resting.  The blue lights from computers and phones causes a decrease in melatonin, a natural hormone that helps you fall asleep.

Schedule your time and keep a list

List your top five priorities, and ask yourself how you will make time for these priorities. Get a good paper or computer calendar and make sure your priorities are listed–Family, School, Church, God, Job, Friends, etc…

Ask yourself honest questions.  How much time are you on social media in comparison to homework or spending time in Bible study?  Readjust and make time for your priorities.

Pursue excellence to the end

Pursuing excellence does not mean you will not make mistakes, or fall short.  It’s about attitude and action.  Colossians 3:23-25 tells us that anything we do, we do it for God, and with all of our heart–with passion. From cleaning your bedroom and bathroom to writing a paper for a class make sure you are doing it for God, not man.  Talk to Him about it. Ask Him to give you wisdom and direction.  Ask Him how the assignment or chore will help you grow.  Most importantly, be grateful and give God thanks. Research has proven that gratitude creates joy. Feeling a little down? Start listing your blessings, and practice an attitude of gratitude.

One verse in God’s Word that encourages me is “to finish what you’ve started”.  If you’ve made a commitment –finish it.  Even when you may feel disconnected from the professor, the class is boring, or you are just tired or bored, “finish what you’ve started” and trust God not your feelings.

Prayer: Heavenly Father I pray that you will give me the guidance that I need to have fun while still maintaining a schedule of proper study and needed rest.  Protect me as I seek your help in scheduling time for everything. I love you Father and pray this in Jesus name, Amen.

(http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/7-good-prayers-for-college-students/)

Autumn Sage Apple Squash Soup

PBS Parents had a great soup recipe that my wonderful friend Monica shared with me.

Recipe: Autumn Sage Apple Squash Soup

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Prep Time: 10 min(s) Cook Time: 20 min(s) Total Time: 30 min(s) Servings: 4

Autumn Sage Apple Squash Soup – The perfect soup to welcome fall and celebrate seasonal ingredients. Made with acorn squash, apples, and fresh sage sauteed with onion and browned butter, this soup is perfect for any occasion.

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Ingredients
1 acorn squash
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
10 fresh sage leaves, thinly sliced
1 large Fuji apple (any sweet apple works), peeled, cored, and cubed.
3 ½ cups vegetable broth (chicken broth works, too)
Optional garnish: Toasted squash seeds and fresh sage leaves

Instructions
Cut the acorn squash in half. Remove the soft center stringy pulp and seeds. Set the seeds aside to be toasted later.

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Place the squash, cut side down on a large microwavable dinner plate. Add 3 tablespoons of water to the plate and microwave for 8 minutes to soften the squash.
While the squash is steaming, melt the butter in a large pot until browned and nutty in aroma. Add the chopped onion to the pan and sauté for 5 minutes. Season with the salt and add the sage leaves. Continue to cook the onions for another minute.
Carefully scoop the acorn squash from its skin and add to the soup pot along with the chopped apples and broth.
Bring the soup to a boil and then cover the pot with a lid. Reduce the heat to a low simmer. Cook the soup for 15 minutes.

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Using an immersion hand blender or food processor, puree the soup until smooth.
Season the soup with additional salt if need.
Garnish each bowl with toasted squash seeds and fresh sage.

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The Bundt Cake Marriage

God provides a way out ahead of time. The invitation you receive to speak, show up, take a class, or the article you pick up in the newspaper are all connections to God’s perfect plan for you.  My husband and I have recently been asked to support couples in their next step of marriage, and one beautiful lady asked us to speak at her church group on intimacy in marriage.  My husband and I are in our fifties, and we are still raising children along with a host of other duties and working full-time.  Marriage for us has become more of a duty and promise that we’ve kept because God’s design for marriage involves a serious commitment.  Remember your vows?

Marriage is relational, physical, spiritual, and emotional.  My husband and I tend to concentrate on one of these areas at a time, but we become unbalanced due to “life”–the vow part.  The worse happens, or financial issues occur, and we have to re-evaluate.

In preparation for the marriages we are supporting and the workshop, we are reading The Five Sex Needs of Men and Women by Dr. Gary and Barbara Rosberg.

Mind you, after 26 years of marriage, I know most, if not all, of the content. However, when you stop talking about these things in your marriage, your marriage will suffer. One of the questions is “What are your top five sexual needs?”  I honestly could not answer this.  I’m satisfied. I’m good.  After reading the book out loud together and walking away from it, I came back to my husband.  I sounded like the mom on My Big Fat Greek Wedding trying to understand the Bundt cake that her future in-law brought for the engagement party—“Oooooooooooooooooooooooooh  I knoooooooooooow!”

So we are little confused at 50.  That’s okay.  The joy of figuring it out will be a working out of our vows “to have and to hold until death do us part”.

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