Monday, June 9, 2014

What is normal

What is normal anyway, really? Is it just a "setting on my washing machine"? Or a regularly scheduled item on my calendar app? Or is normal a happy balance between sorrow and hyper-joy?

I thought I knew. Then real trials came and I quickly learned that there really isn't a normal button for my life. I've lived a pretty simple, vanilla life. The past five months have awakened to me to the fact that vanilla normal is not where I am anymore. I actually started getting a taste two years ago with my preterm labor and then last year with my husband's medical scare.


Espresso shots have never enticed me and yet I am drinking the bitterness of these trials. When can I finish the cup so life can be normal again? Do I really long for the "before"? Because we can't go back. We don't get do-overs. I can't rewind to February 13th, when my oldest daughter became desperately ill and my world came to a crashing halt.

And yet. In His loving kindness, God has never ever left me. He has been my hope and stay since before time began, since before these bitter seasons, since my world became not-so-normal. Because He has known the whole vanilla latte thing would change. And He knew that by drinking some espresso-esque trials, I would be changed, not solely because of the dark liquid, but because He has been after my heart all along. In that lies a sweetness I have not known before.

There are days I want to throw the cup and just make some of that sweet vanilla stuff again. But here I am. Being made new as a creation of a faithful Father who has all of this. He has so much more planned than vanilla. The only norm I can lean on is that He never moves. I don't need more faith in all this, I only need to rest on the Faithful One. And that is a normal I am starting to live by.


Monday, June 10, 2013

Change is Good (for me)

We are moving. In two weeks, we will be in a new house, in a new town, turning over a new leaf. God has been moving on our hearts for months for this change, and now we will be physically living it out.

When it comes to change, I will admit I'm not a fan. I like routine, with it's predictability and normalcy and comfort. Like my daily coffee-with-half-and-half-and-raw-sugar, please and thank you. So although I believe with all my heart that this move is completely God-led, I do feel my love for the familiar push back against my desire to embrace this little storm.

Recently during a thunderstorm, my five-year-old, Sam, came to me in the night seeking comfort. I hugged him and then of course he wanted to snuggle in bed with me, to which his father replied, "Go back to bed. God is our protector, He will protect you while you sleep in your bed." This, possibly followed by a prayer for Sam to trust in God, was not the answer he was hoping for.  Later that morning, I heard through the grapevine that he had sought solace with his big sister as well. But to no avail. She sent him on his way as well.

It was such a real picture of how I so often seek comfort in other things, other people even. I'm stumbling around in the middle of the storm (read: this move), perhaps in discouragement or unbelief, and I text-a-friend, or escape to the world wide web, or even (gasp) hide in the bathroom. But my heavenly Father has been wooing me back to the comfort of His presence where I can run anytime-I-need. I love that He is unchanging. I love that I can crawl right into His lap in the middle of the storm. I'm practicing it daily now, by literally crying out for His help and strength. It might be a thirty-second prayer in the bathroom or with my arms digging out wet laundry from the washing machine, but I'm doing it and I know He hears me. And guess what? Every time, without fail, the peace comes. It washes over me. It resets my heart and my eyes to be directed upon Him.

"Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word." 2 Thess. 2:16-17 ESV


I am making the daily hourly choice to seek comfort in Christ and the good hope He has promised me. Eternal hope! Through the storms of life and through this move, as we gather up these last seven and a half years of our life in this house, I can take heart in his abundant grace that he freely gives me every minute I need it. And I do need it. I can't breathe without it.

I'm embracing this change now. It is so good for me.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Best ever marinara. Slow Cooker style.

Been trying my hand at a little freezer cooking to save time and money. This month I tried the slow cooker marinara sauce and it is divine. Use for any italian dish including pizza!

Here's the recipe. From "Not Your Mother's Make-Ahead & Freeze Cookbook" by Jessica Fisher

Easy Slow Cooker Red Sauce

1/4 c. olive oil
2 lg. onions, chopped
1 T. chopped garlic
4-28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
1-2 c. water
1 T.  salt
1/3 c. chopped fresh basil or 2 T. dried basil
3 T. chopped fresh parsley or 1 T. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic; cook until soft. Spoon onion mixture into a 5-quart or larger slow cooker. Add crushed tomatoes, water, and seasonings. Cover and cook on LOW for at least 4 hours. Adjust seasonings to taste.

To freeze: Divide sauce into meal-size portions in plastic containers (Ball plastic freezer jars work great). Chill in refrigerator before freezing.

To thaw/serve: Thaw sauce in refrigerator. Reheat in saucepan over low heat, whisking to recombine.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


I can't hold back. It's time to write.

In the last two months, we have had a whirlwind of trials hit our family. Relentlessly. One trial has led to another and James 1:2-3 has never been so real to me. 

"Count it all joy my brothers when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have it's full effect that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

I had no idea what true testing meant.

In two months we have encountered all kinds of sickness, kicked off with our oldest daughter's bout with influenza-the first case in our city (mom award)-mixed in with pink eye, mastitis (twice), a knee surgery, and now culminating with my husband's brush with, dare I say it, death.

Yes. That's what I said.

Pulmonary embolism is not a mild thing. As a complication of his knee surgery (brought on by a torn meniscus), blood clots formed at the surgery site and moved up into his lungs. Five days of shortness of breath landed him in the E.R. only because a surgeon friend of ours came and picked him up and took him there, thus saving his life.

When everything seems to be crashing around me, my true self is revealed. My weakness and frailty as I leaned heavily into my Savior that day were so real, so poignant. I have never in my life experienced the hand of God in such a powerful way. He intervened in our lives. Jeff was to fly on an airplane the very next day for a ministry trip that could have been fatal. God knew. He had a plan.  His way was higher than ours. He was working all things together for our good. And for His glory.

I confess that there were moments that day that I could barely breathe at the thought of continuing on in this life as a widow of four children, without my soul mate beside me.  I wanted to scream. "What about our ministry?? How would I tell our story by MYSELF??" I forced my heart to focus on this promise yet again: God is good. No matter what I feel. He still is. And He has promised to never leave or forsake me. I can hang on to that.

We actually had the chance to see the CT scan this past week of his lungs and the reality of my near-loss came rushing back in. The clots were huge. Half dollar size on both sides. Jeff is a walking miracle. And I melt down to my knees again.
my one & only
 My dear friend Rachel brought this song to our small group recently and it's as if it is written for us. The words speak of my deepest heart's gratitude. Take a minute.

So I will continue on in steadfastness. Leaning into my faith and on my Savior even more desperately than before. After all, He is constant, good, and sovereign. Not for a moment will He forsake me.

"Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand." Eph.6:13

When I have done everything, I will stand. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Homemade Runzas

Makes 24

1 pkg. 24 Rhoades Texas Frozen Rolls
1.5 lb ground beef
1/2 c. diced onion
1/2 pkg. coleslaw mix or 3 c. finely shredded cabbage
1.5 tsp. salt
1.5 tsp. pepper
24 slices american cheese

1. Spray 2 cookie sheets with non-stick spray and set 1 dozen frozen rolls on each.

2. Spray plastic wrap with non-stick spray and cover rolls. Let rise in warm room until doubled in size (4-5 hrs).

3. Brown ground beef with onion and cabbage. Drain. Add salt and pepper.

4. When rolls are ready take one at a time and stretch it into a rectangle about 5 in wide by 6 in long.
Fill with spoonful of beef mixture and cover filling with a slice of cheese. Fold the top of the dough over and seal edges well with your fingers.

5. When tray is ready, bake at 350 degrees for 10 min. Remove tray from oven. Brush tops with butter and sprinkle with salt. Bake 10 min more or until golden brown.

Can freeze what you don't need for that meal. Just thaw a bit before re-warming.

Thanks to Elizabeth Peshek for this great recipe!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Dwell (part 2)

You may remember my last post about dwelling....resting, abiding, and remaining in Christ. Since that writing, many opportunities (tests, if you will,) have arisen to prove if I believe that, and if I am living it out no matter what the circumstances. A radical shift in my heart and a deep internalization of the goodness of God has since ensued.

A few weeks ago I landed in the hospital for a day with influenza, excruciating lower abdominal pain and contractions so close together I became concerned for the health of our unborn child who was just shy of the gestational age of 25 weeks. While I was there being pumped full of meds and willing my heart to trust in God's plan for us, a conversation with a nurse begged the question in my mind: will I praise Him and rest in Him--Sovereign Creator and Master Planner of my life--no matter what?
The obvious goal was to stop contractions. If they were not able to do so, then we would need to head to Omaha for a potential delivery of a 1.5 pound premature infant, that could survive, yes, but with a long road of possible complications to overcome.

Our pastor, elder and their wives all visited me that day to speak truth to me, encourage me, and pray over me. My pastor said something to me then that I took in like a sucker punch: "Everything God ordains is good." Wow. If I had to deliver a preemie that day would I believe that? I honestly hope that I would have. I asked Pastor to clarify his statement which really helped my heart:

"What God ordains is good in its ultimate sense, bringing God glory and working for our good as well. (Romans 8:28)  Psalm 84:11, 'No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.' He does not withhold children, family, comfort, money, health, etc. if it is ultimately for our good. In the mystery of God's providence, there are times when those things are not for our good, God wants something better for us, such as conformity to Jesus and trusting in Him above our circumstances which He often teaches us through those difficult times."

The truth of the goodness of God does not depend on my circumstances, my emotions, or on my limited definition of "good". He is good because He is good. Did I experience the goodness of God that day? Most certainly. He answered our prayers and brought health to me and kept this little one safely within me! The overwhelming sense of gratefulness and worship I had on our way home was rooted in a faith that my God is my provider and giver of every good thing. I pray that I would have believed that same truth with all my being had the day ended differently. My husband kept reminding me that we would be thankful for any outcome because we knew that God had this one in His hands.

The song that ran in my mind that entire day was this beautiful classic by Twila Paris. It reminds me of Psalm 34:1 "I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth."

My lips will praise You
For You are holy
My voice will ever rise
Before Your throne
My heart will love You
For You are lovely
And You have called me
To become Your own

I am Your own
And I will worship You alone
I am Your own
I am Your child
I am Your own
And I will worship at Your throne
I am Your own
And I will love You

For a worshipful moment in your day:

My family: the goodness of God displayed to me daily
May we continue to dwell on the truth of the goodness of God, by sitting at His feet and resting in His divine plan for our lives.

A link to another great post about the goodness of God:

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Dwell (part 1)

Recently I sent this verse to a friend in need: Psalm 91:1 "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty."

It was only several hours later the same day that I realized that I, too, needed this very same "911" call to my heavenly Father. The word "dwell" from this verse is translated from the Hebrew verb "yashab" (pronounced ya-shav'). It means to dwell, remain, sit, abide.

Verse 2 and 9: "I will say to the Lord, My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust...Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place-the Most High, who is my refuge-no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent."

All of this beautiful Psalm is a picture of the Lord as a secure defense for those who take refuge in Him, for those faithful people that dwell in His shelter. I needed this reminder of dwelling. Where am I dwelling? Because when life is crashing all around me (or so it seems), am I dwelling, remaining, sitting and abiding in His shelter?

No, I tend to flit about like a little sparrow, attempting to make my own dwelling, my own refuge in which to hide. Then the rain of life comes and my little shelter that I've built for myself just crumbles. It's not too pretty. I worked so hard at building it, too. The problem with this is in these words: "I worked". Or really, just one word: "I".

It's really becoming quite obvious that I cannot do anything to protect myself from evil and plagues (in my own terms, hardship and stress), except to dwell in the Most High. I can do nothing without Him. My Father has never moved. He remains there, a refuge for me, ever-abiding and steadfast in His promises. He has already done the work. He already is the dwelling place, ready to keep me from harm. I only need to stop flitting and abide in His shelter that He has always been and always will be when I am faithful to trust in Him, instead of myself.

But if I believe this truth then it means that I must stop. Sit. Remain. Stop moving. This is a hard concept for me with a family and home to take care of, a fourth kiddo on the way (insert a mix of excitement and panic here), and a to-do list longer than my arm. Oh how I long to STOP!

So today, I did. First, I stopped sleeping and rose before the house did. Then I cozied into my comfy QT corner and opened up the Truth, letting it flood my heart and mind and sweep out all the untruth and craziness in there. All day, I have been reminding myself: dwell. Dwell. Dwell. His shelter, not mine. His safety, not mine. Oh how the peace of Christ has filled my heart.

More thoughts on abiding in His dwelling place coming soon.