Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Stories


He is all about the story. The plot twist. The hearts of the characters.  It is in the story that He transforms us. It is the plot line of our lives that create who we are.

This spring I have been writing a curriculum for a local Christian summer camp.  The story is Joseph. The one with the awesome coat and the not-so-awesome brothers. It is a tale that twists and turns.  Who can say they really go from pit to palace in a lifetime?  God loves a good story.

I am Joseph.  No, I am not second-in-command of anywhere. I don't have a band of brothers. I have never been to Egypt.  And yet...

I have been a slave to sin.  Locked up in a prison (sometimes of my own making). Mistreated by others (Haven't we all had that experience?). Misunderstood.  Falsely accused.  Yes, I am Joseph.

The greatest part of his story? Joseph's ability to forgive his brothers.  To see the blessing that came through pits, prisons, and a place owned by Potiphar. That is my goal. To see the good that comes from the agony. To see God write my story. To know that God writes with his fingers (Exodus 31:18 and John 8:6) and that every aspect of our story flows through His hands.  To trust the Master Storyteller with our lives.  To know that He won't write what He can't finish.  He won't tell the tale unless there is good in the end. Every twist in our story will be used for our good and His glory.

I am linking up at...

Whitespace Community Linkup @ faithbarista.com

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Buttermilk Bread {With Variations}

{Affiliate links used.}

Making a recipe in bulk by doubling or tripling it saves time and money.  Recently, I made a batch of buttermilk quick bread because I had a bunch of  buttermilk powder I needed to use up.  This recipe turned out fantastic!  I tripled it and then divided the batter into thirds. I was able to make a cinnamon swirl, orange cranberry, and chocolate bread and bake them all at once!

Here is the recipe...

Buttermilk Quick Bread
{Makes one loaf}

2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1/4 cup oil

Heat the oven to 350. Grease the loaf pan(s) you will be using to bake the bread. Whisk together the dry ingredients in one bowl.  In another mix together the wet ingredients.  Then pour the wet mixture over the dry one. Gently stir the two together.  Don't over mix.  Add the mix-ins {See below}. Put the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake 45-50 minutes. The bread is done when a toothpick comes out clean from the center.  Let the loaf cool about 20 minutes in the pan and then remove it.  Let it cool about 20 more minutes before slicing.  The baked bread can be wrapped in plastic wrap and then in foil and frozen for later.

Variations

-Chocolate: Add one tablespoon of baking cocoa.
-Chocolate cherry: Add one tablespoon of baking cocoa and 1 cup dried cherries.
-Orange cranberry: Add 1 teaspoon orange extract and 1 cup cranberries.
-Cinnamon Swirl: Put a thin layer of batter on the bottom of the pan.  Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on it.  Add another layer of batter.  One more later of cinnamon and sugar and then a final layer of batter.
-Apple Cinnamon: Add 1 cup diced apple and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.
-Almond Chip: Add 1 teaspoon almond extract, 1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds, and 1/2 cup mini-chocolate chips.
-Blueberry: Add 1 cup blueberries and the zest of one lemon.
-Cheddar: Reduce sugar to 2 tablespoons.  Add 1 cup shredded cheddar.
-Onion Dill: Reduce sugar to two tablespoons.  Add 1 small minced onion that has been cooked soft and 1 teaspoon dried dill.
-Italian: Add 1 teasopoon dried basil, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, and 1/2 cup shredded parmesan.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Spoiling the Bounty


They wanted it all.  Even the tree with the fruit in the middle of the garden.  All the fruit wasn't enough if they couldn't have the forbidden ones.  Oh, how they didn't realize that we spoil that which we are given when we lack gratitude. We throw all that He is given aside for the one thing that will do us no good.  When will we learn? A problem as old as time...spoiling the bounty to get to the taboo. He is always out for our good.  He is always blessing.  We can find all that He gives if we will just focus on what we do have instead of what we don't.  Ask the couple in the garden.  They knew. It never pays to desire what you shouldn't have in the first place. Make a gift list and thank Him for all that you have...

{4,426-4,444}

-Having a voice
-Easter and all that it means
-The birth of a new baby 
-That God is doing a new thing!
-Getting near the end of the semester
-God blessing in ways I didn't see coming
-Getting together with friends we haven't seen in awhile
-That Christ brings freedom
-Learning to stand up for myself
-Chocolate peanut butter eggs
-Time with my boys
-Encouragement from a friend
-The blessing of writing a curriculum for a Christian summer camp.  
-Time praying over the counselors and campers who will receive the lessons I am writing.
-Confirmation I am not crazy! LOL  Always a good thing!
-Titan trying to navigate walking on snow when it is melting.  Humorous!


-The snow...almost gone
-My son's interest in history
-This reminder: "Comparison is the thief of joy."-Theodore Roosevelt

Friday, April 18, 2014

Soul Seller


Judas sold out Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, but that isn't all he sold. He sold his soul. Anytime we work against a friend, fellow Christian, or family member we work against ourselves. The price of betrayal is way too high for the betrayer. 

Look at what Judas "gained" in betraying Jesus...

~Last in line. Anytime the names of the disciples are listed Judas lands up last. He is the least of the Twelve. 

~A replacement. See Acts 1:25. Judas is replaced soon after Christ returns to heaven. Most betrayers are replaced in our lives with those that are trustworthy. 

~Death. We all know that Judas killed himself. Most betrayers do...kill themselves in a sense. They sacrifice their reputations. They kill trust. They murder their relationships. 

We make think that our betrayers get away with murder. Not so, because they sell their souls in the process. We can leave them in God's hands knowing that He will take care of the details. The vengeance is His, not ours.

Betrayal doesn't do unnoticed by Christ.  Run to Him if you are feeling betrayed. He, more than anyone else, understands. We don't need to take justice into our own hands.  Hand your betrayer over to the custody of Christ. Once betrayed the best we can do is pray for those that inflicted the hurt.  Pray blessings over their lives.  Pray that they will heal.  Pray that the forgiveness from our hearts will flow so we can heal. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A New Thing


  See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19

Last year during Easter if you had told me where I would be this year I would not have believed you. God took me on a journey, a wilderness wandering. One where I left my Egypt, a place of bondage and pain, to wander a bit.  I can't say that I have arrived.  Maybe I never will this side of heaven, but for the time being I am where I need to be. God made a way in that wilderness even though much of the journey was bewildering. He left me wondering what He was up to, then He ended up doing a totally new thing!  While painful and perplexing in the process there is now peace.

Isn't that the way of God? A Christ on a cross. In a pit of pain. All because God was doing a new thing...to bring us peace.  Peace with God.  Peace with ourselves.  Peace with others.  Peace comes at a price and normally involves pain. Many times it involves a lack of understanding.  The new thing just doesn't make sense.
The newly risen Savior didn't make sense...

Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened. Luke 24:12

The dead don't walk off. They aren't escape artists. A three-day-old dead person doesn't pull off his own resurrection. Or does He? Peter left wondering. Mary confused. The disciples dumbfounded. That's what happens when God decides to do a new thing.  A thing to bring us peace. A thing to make a way in the wilderness so we can reach Him. A thing that brings us into relationship with the One that is all about resurrection.

This Easter? I am thanking that Escape Artist. The Wilderness Way Maker. The One who can pull off His own resurrection.  The One who made a new thing!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Always an Inside Job


Betrayal is always an inside job.  You can't betray a person you aren't close to.  You can't betray a stranger.  It is those in the inner circle that you need to worry about.  Judas was in that inner circle. Close enough to cause pain. Close enough to hand Jesus over to the authorities simply because they handed him 30 pieces of silver.

Betrayal is always an inside job.  A job that comes from the heart. A betrayer can look good on the outside, but it is the inside that counts.  Judas was a disciple...a follower of Jesus.  You don't get better credentials than that! The greatest harm comes from the deep recesses of a heart gone bad.  The outside of a person tells you nothing of what is lurking on the inside.

The inside job becomes the outside job when the heart of the betrayer reveals itself...

So how do we deal with those on the inside of our lives who hurt us?  Here are some concepts that God has been teaching me...

-Be discerning about your inner circle.  If you see warning signs (a critical spirit, selfishness, jealousy) repeatedly in a person, then you need to "love them with a long-handled spoon".  Love them, but don't give them your heart.

-Realize that betrayal is a part of life.  If Jesus was betrayed, you probably won't escape it either.  Jesus understands what it feels like.  Accept it and run to Him for comfort. The more you fight it...the worse it becomes.

-Give yourself time to heal from betrayal. It can take a long time.  But through the healing process make forgiveness your goal. Reconciliation may not be possible (because that takes two people).  Reconciliation may be an unwise move with an unhealthy person, but you can always forgive.  It takes time, but it will be the best medicine for healing.

-If you are betrayed, learn from it.  Ask God what He wants you to get out of the experience.  Does He want you to be more compassionate with those that are hurting?  Is He teaching you how to have better boundaries?

 It is my prayer that if you have experienced betrayal and are trying to heal from it that you will go to the One that knows how it feels.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Never-ending Gratitude


You would think you could run out of gifts to thank God for, but He out gives every time!!  I can never thank Him enough for all that He gives!

{4,412-4,425}

-Being asked again to write the curriculum for a local Christian summer camp.
-The opportunity to influence the lives of children
-Writing the lessons on Joseph, my favorite character of the Old Testament. Joseph was definitely unstoppable!

-Freezer meals made in a morning
-Words of love and encouragement from so many
-The promise of spring


-Bread baking
-Breakfast with a friend
-Getting our computer fixed
-Easter here soon!


-Getting some prep work done for Spanish lessons
-Warm sun that makes me sleepy
-A Saturday to get caught up on chores
-Being in a great place emotionally

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