Monthly Archives: April 2013

The Perfect Plan

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So, my coffee cup lid doesn’t fit on my to-go cup this morning. It was made to do just that. It is supposed to fit on my cup perfectly so that no hot liquid leaks out and burns any part of my anatomy. However, this morning, it does not seem to understand its purpose in this world. (See where I’m goin’ with this?)
We were made for what God has planned for us! It’s our fate, our destiny, our design, our blueprint!! We feel, well, a bit off-center, if we do anything else. We don’t feel as though we fit and we don’t accomplish half of what we set out to do. So many people spend too much time searching for their purpose in this world and all we have to do is look to the One Who knows us and our thoughts better than anyone else. We simply pray for God to show up in our lives and guess what. He does. Simple, right? Why do we have to complicate it so much? Because we’re human that’s why. We wanna know why it would be that simple…how could it possibly be?? Surely there’s more to it than that! We need beads around our neck or a prayer cloth anointed with oil or the head pastor and his secretary to lay hands on us as we meditate…No! God cut out any “middleman” we think we need when Jesus hung on that cross like a common criminal and that curtain riiiiiiiiipped from top to bottom! There is no thing, nothing, we can’t ask Him for. Ask for courage, boldness, and guts to go out and do your thing, not someone else’s, without worrying what others may think. Wear that “Jesus Saves” t-shirt to the gym without a second thought. Lift your hands in praise (one at a time, please) while driving in your car. Do something spontaneous for Jesus! Pray, then be still, and know without a shadow of doubt, that God’s got this. He’s got it, your plan, your purpose, your to-do list.

God’s welcomed, with open arms, a man who lived his life believing every word that proceeded out of His mouth. David Iles, you will be greatly missed, but your zeal and committment to the Lord lives on through the ages. Thank you for constantly being an example of a man after God’s own heart.

Thoughts About Our Thoughts

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My thoughts are about our thoughts today. What’s goin’ into that beautifully-created brain of yours? Ideas and thoughts that build you and others up? Or are you feeding into the idea that it really doesn’t matter what goes in and how that affects your thoughts?
I personally heard “garbage in-garbage out” so many times when I was younger, I wondered if it was truly something I needed to prepare for by setting up trash service. I wasn’t sure what it meant, but now that I look around God’s beautiful green and blue earth, well, in short, I get it. We tend, as human beings to stink things up sometimes with our garbage. We say things we don’t mean, or even say things we DO mean, but are just plain mean! We don’t take hold of the thoughts that keep us down below the level God wants us (i.e. “You’re not good enough. You can’t do that. Whaaaat? You’re gonna go to church??” Or “Whaaaaaat? You’re gonna ASK someone to go to church?”) We are to grab onto these thoughts after we identify how they affect our actions, and just throw ‘em out. Replace them with a positive thought and go about your day. I believe it’s one of the most effective methods to change your life.

Say you’re taking a nice country drive (people still do that where I’m from) and you’re enjoying the sights: deer, sunshine, green leaves, gorgeous pastures, and then…what do we have here? A sack of “fast food memorabilia” if you will: fry containers, used napkins, “burger” wrappers. These are all scattered along with a broken TV and possibly someone’s unfortunate Oldsmobile bumper. This should not be so folks. We are to show God respect, glory, and honor and I firmly believe that if we dump our trash out on His creation, well, wouldn’t it be like walking into someone’s house and scraping the caked-on mud off your shoes? It’s disrespectful. It’s the same with cluttering our brain with thoughts and ideas that don’t belong in His creation. We have the ability to clear out the clutter and litter on our roads and our minds!

It’s just occurred to me, as I write this, that it’s Earth Day. God is so cool…show him some respect today by picking up some ugly trash from His awesome Earth and taking captive some thoughts that have lingered to long in that beautiful mind of yours.

God Loves Me Too?

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Does God love me as much as He does you? Questions such as these come to our minds whether we necessarily want them to or not. You preach to African children. Joe feeds the homeless and then hands out Bibles at the shelter. Sherri sells purses to raise funds to build a school in Guatemala. Back in the day, He was literally counting stars with his buddy ol’ Abe. What do I do? Wellllll, (scratching head) the list goes on and on really, with the most extensive part being…uhhh…being…raising 2 kids? Making it to church before worship is over? Managing to finally get that “Praying for you!” card dropped in the mail while trying to find new shoes to put on the kids’ feet? Does God love me as much as He loves Joe or Sherri or Abraham? The resounding response I hear with all of my being as I type is: YES!!
God loves us! He loooooves us!! If He were here, in the flesh, right now, He couldn’t quit huggin’ on us, like that lipstick-smearin’ aunt you used to get one too many kisses from! He loves us!
To be quite honest, yesterday was a day that I didn’t feel it as much as I wanted. Call it what you will, anything from hormones to an attack from the enemy to stress to all of the above. It doesn’t really matter what you call it, the ick factor was there and I couldn’t seem to shake it. God loves me. I would say that to myself and there would be a defiance in my spirit and self that would say, “Oh yeah? Really?” Ew. This was a prime example of me focusing not on what was important (God) but on what was happening around me (bombings, explosions, homeless, child abuse, divorces, tragedy, loss of babies, loss of loved ones…) This list seems to be much longer than the 3-letter word behind “important” above. You would think we would be able to focus on God more since the second list is overwhelming to ponder and try to figure out. God and His love for us aren’t so apparent on some days? Can that be true? I think it is, not by a fault of His, but our own. We allow the weight of the world and the disgusting events down here to poison our minds and our days. Let it not be so. We are to grieve and to grieve with those who grieve, even as Jesus grieved and wept. (Maybe not on His way to to a dreadful stupor-center, where He had to gather Himself and find an appropriate, more “hidden” place to park due to the fact that He was weeping a little insanely, buuuut, that’s neither here nor there.) God loves us so much that one day, He’s taking us away from all of this nonsense and ugliness down here. No more sorrow, no more killing, no more acts of cruelty, no more deaths of innocent children, no more tears. Not a one. Let this be our focus today as we continue to look to the only One Who can heal our hearts while we are here.

Cuttin’ the Carbs

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“…He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.” This Scripture has always been kind of a “duh statement” for me, I guess, until this week. I took it very literally for the longest time: of course we can’t live on bread alone, geez. Can you imagine how obese we would be as a nation if all we ate was carbs? Oh wait…we are obese.

We are fattened up by things that don’t do us a lick of good, whether it be too much food, (bread and otherwise) too much booze, too many drugs, or even 24/7 TV. Anything not in moderation in this lifetime spells T-R-O-U-B-L-E for us, believers and unbelievers alike. We go overboard with everything: cars complete with payments, houses too big for us to clean ourselves, 3 times the amount of food we need at each meal, clothes so that we can look like those we may not even respect, accessories (to match the car), debt…we rack it up quicker than a game of pool.

God’s been showing me lately that all of that is bread. Thick, weighty, fat-laden, socio-economic bread. We cannot live on that alone. If we take the time to look around us, we’ll see how hard people are trying to do just that. (Hollywood, anyone?)

“Man lives.” Everyone’s trying to get a life in some fashion or another. An abundant life where we’re happy, content, and don’t have to work so hard at whatever it is we’re doing. My challenge to you and to myself today is to change our focus. Let’s make a conscious effort of placing it on what God says, because it pertains to us and our lives at this very second. I believe we wouldn’t be able to count the awesome changes in our lives, those around us, and our mindsets. We would see and experience contentment, not just in what we have, but also in what He’s doing and what He’s gonna do!

Prayer for Peace

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2 days after the Boston Bombings. The toll has reached over 170 people injured and at least 3 dead, one of them being an 8 year old boy. I would say that words can’t express my heartache, but that would be untrue to a point, as one of the only ways I can express heartache is through the written word. There is nothing in my life that could compare to the sorrow of losing a loved one due to an attack by a stranger. A man or woman that has no feeling for what he or she is about to do. No remorse. No regret. Possibly even a feeling of accomplishment and success.
The pictures flash across the screen of wounded spectators and injured runners. Blood stains the streets and sidewalks. Innocent blood shed and for…for what?…a reward in a twisted heaven? A warped idea of fame?
Comfort, peace, support, and love is my prayer tonight for each family who has needlessly suffered loss, wounds, and a shaken foundation. Let the Creator of the Earth use this tragic event somehow for good. God is not to blame, but serves as a refuge for confused, discouraged, and weary souls. Blessings to those who cannot imagine a day without the unique individual whose life has been cut so very short. Peace to their overwhelmed minds and an unexplainable sense of comfort to their souls. And may God bless the selfless heroes of yesterday who could never be thanked enough.

Distracted Head

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Tormented. my brain feels tormented. this isn’t something I would feel comfy sharing with my best friends, but I feel like I can share it on here for some reason. Because I’m writing. that’s why. someone once said, you ARE a writer. it’s not something you choose to do. Writers simply must write. that’s what I feel like. If i don’t write this down and get it out of my head, I may never be able to “function properly.” I’m not even sure what that means. Anyone who knows me or my writing understands that my thought process can take off on a tangent quicker than a beagle on a scent (for the country folks) or faster than Kim Kardashian on diamonds (for the city folks). I am undecided on anything you ask me today, “Do you want some coffee? ummmm…it…well…I ….” My stomach is literally growling to the point of nausea because I can’t make up my mind as to what I wish to feed it. I open the fridge door and just stare, only to realize that i’ve been standing there for minutes. When I was younger, adults would get on my case about focusing and completing a thought. My dad would ask why I couldn’t just finish one task, from the start to the end. Beats me…I still don’t know. I have an idea of course. In college, I was asked whether or not I thought I had ADD. “What? ADD? I don’t think…heeeeeeey, I like your boots! What were we talking about?”
I never wanted the diagnosis or the label so I never took the test…actually I think I may have taken the test, but never picked up the results. *chuckle. I was already on to something else. People will tell you that they have ADD and joke about it, but the truth is, when my brain starts to feel tormented is when I have to stop, slow down, and realize I’m not in this all by my lonesome. I think we all have “quirks” or “wiring” like that that causes us to need God. After all, if my brain never felt like this, i wouldn’t know His extreme and unexplainable peace.
I have attempted to read my Bible 3 times today, but couldn’t due to my distracted head. I don’t want any poor me’s as I hate those with a fiery passion thanks to my dad constantly telling me things like, “Pain don’t hurt, suck it up, and pull your boot straps up!” (Which FYI, makes no sense to a child, as I did not wear boots, much less ones with straps. I later changed it to “bra straps” as that made more sense to me.)
Kari Jobe sings quietly in the background about how she can find Jesus on her knees and I think that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Yet another example of me knowing what the solution is, (prayer) yet not doing it for some reason.

Enjoy the Joy

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A cup of coffee, God, and a sunrise. That’s all I really need. Everything else that happens today is just icing on a very well-made, HOME-made, cake. (Keep that boxed stuff. It makes my mouth scrunch and my belly button pucker.)
It occurs to me that as I type this (oh yeah, I need a way to write too…whether it’s a paper and pen or the technological version.) how complicated we humans make things. And the irony is, it’s all in the name of convenience and simplicity. For instance, boxed cake. All you do is add oil, eggs, and water I believe. Simple, right? Tasty, riii…weeeeeeeell, kinda.
In doing so, we sacrifice the BEST part of cake…the flavor! My parents and grandparents spoiled me, I’ve learned over the years, by literally making things. Not “dumping” things. We try to convince ourselves that we don’t have the time, but I believe we really do. We can’t “convenience” things so much that we can no longer feel the love in them. As believers, we are to be all about the love.
Sure, we try to convince ourselves that it’s ok, we only have so much time, we only have so much flour, we can’t find that pesky cookbook, and on and on and on. Now, this isn’t a cooking lecture, or a lecture of any kind for that matter. I’m guilty of choosing the health-less, flavor-less, fat-filled, preservative-laden version myself from time to time. It’s more of a reminder that we must take time to enjoy the joy. Your great grandmother took great joy in making things for her family. I believe Betty Schmocker or whoever’s name is on the box has sucked the joy right out of creating something wonderful for your family. We just want to get it done, get it over with, “Is the 30 minutes up?? It’s been 31! The box says 30 minutes! What’s taking this crazy thing so long??”
God wants and needs for us to take time to enjoy not only what He’s created, but also what He’s doing in our lives. If we constantly insist on using the quickest version of everything, whether it be cake or glancing at a couple words found in the Bible and calling it our “Bible study” for the day, we are missing out. We miss out on what God has for us and wants so badly to give us free of charge. Yes, we may be saved, but if we’re always doing the Sara Lee-nient version of things, then we may be missing out on the abundant life God promised (He promised!!!) we could have. (John 10:10) Take time today…and maybe even try a real cake. *wink.

Basic Yellow Cake

Preheat oven to 350°.
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (do not sift the flour)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups milk
Vegetable oil
1 stick butter (not margarine), softened
1-tablespoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs

Cut wax paper to fit the bottom of (3) 9 x 1 1/2-inch round pans. Spray the pans with cooking spray, place the wax paper in the pans and spray the paper.

In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt, mixing well.

Measure the 1-1/4 cups of milk in a 2 cup measuring cup….then add enough vegetable oil to bring the liquid up to 1-1/3 cups.

Add the milk/vegetable oil mixture, butter and vanilla to the flour mixture and beat with an electric mixer on medium to medium-high speed for 2 minutes, scraping sides of bowl as needed.

Add the eggs and continue beating an additional 2 minutes. Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted near center of cake comes out clean, or until cake springs back when touched lightly in the center.

Cool cakes on wire racks for 15 minutes; remove from pans and cool completely.

Frost as desired.

Cooked Chocolate Frosting

Mix together in a large microwave save bowl:
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cornstarch; packed
7 tablespoons cocoa
1 tablespoon butter
3/4 teaspoon salt

Stir in with a wire wisk : 1-1/2 cups boiling water.

Cook in microwave on high at 1 minute intervals stirring well after each with the wire whisk. As mixture begins to thicken cook at 30 second interval until the mixture is very thick.

Then stir in 6 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of vanilla; stirring until the butter is melted; cool to frosting consistency and frost cake.

If you prefer to cook it on the stove just stir the boiling water into the dry ingredients and cook over medium heat stirring constantly until thick and bubbly; remove from heat and add the butter and vanilla.