Saturday, May 31, 2008

Recipe Swap

One of my favorite people in the world is Nancey Ingram. She a "mature" woman (how's that, Nancey?!) who is steadfast in her friendship to me even when it's costly! We really got to know one another while heading up the women's retreat for three years together. I'm the one to call if you need a spreadsheet done or something fixed. So, I took the organizing of the lists and the nuts and bolts calls. Nancey was the one I sent the women to who just needed someone to talk to! I've never enjoyed serving with anyone more. Afterwards we were the dearest of friends. She never fails to make me laugh and also to remind me that loving God, delighting in God is not an option. She can let me vent and then pull my face to Jesus again and again. I'm so grateful to God for the gift of having met her and for somehow giving me favor in her sight.

But...she's not perfect. There was one time near Christmas when she gave me something that she never should have. Addicting isn't quite the word. I have never, ever served this stuff or given it away without someone clutching at me, demanding the recipe. It really is one of the best things you can serve a crowd. It is also our favorite teacher gift because we only give them a little. After they taste it and beg for the recipe, we trade it for a few points on the final.

No, we don't...but not a bad idea...

Here you go...don't ever make it when you are alone...or at least be smart enough to just go ahead and start a second batch!

Tijuana Trash

4 cups Bite sized Tostitos
3 cups Crispix cereal
1 bag popped microwave popcorn
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white corn syrup
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp chili powder

Mix chips, cereal and popcorn in a large baking dish or foil pan. Mix rest of ingredients in a saucepan and slowly bring to a boil over med-low heat. Drizzle over dry ingredients, stirring often. Bake for 1 hour at 250 degrees, stirring every 20 minutes. Pour onto foil to cool. Break up as it cools.

  • Yes. I know those ingredients are odd. You will not believe how good this is!
  • We usually snap the chips in half before stirring them in.
  • We never use popcorn because we LOVE the chips, so I just usually do those and cereal.
  • You can use corn chex or whatever instead of Crispix.
  • It is really not spicy with that much cayenne. We usually up it to at least 3/4 tsp when we make it for others and up it to 1 tsp for our family.

Friday, May 30, 2008

If God gives you time

Well, Aisley room is painted...curtains, bed skirt and pillows are sewn...only thing left is hanging the stuff on the walls. Which means we'll be able to rest this week? NO! It means Brennan can finally hear "yes" to the pressing question, are we going to start on my room now?! So, I won't have time for these things, but maybe your house is different. I hope you get a minute!

I found online a place where you can read some of what Wayne Grudem has written. He's the guy who wrote Systematic Theology which I love and use all the time in understanding key doctrines. He is a professor at Phoenix Seminary and is now hard at work as the general editor of the new ESV study Bible that's due out in October 2008. Check out some of his online articles here. You can also hear him teach his systematic theology class at the link to your right.

A touching look at the memorial service for Maria Chapman:

C. J. Mahaney has written three posts on the very timely subject of vacations. (You have to scroll to the bottom and work your way up.) But it's written for dads. This makes it a little sticky for us. If you pass this along to your husband, I don't want to be responsible for the "discussion" that breaks out! So, here's what I suggest. Why don't you read it. If you think it's worth a read, tell him what it is that you see he's already doing great at. Tell him that you know that he longs to be the dad God wants him to be and you can already see so much that you are grateful for. THEN, if he's still in a good mood and seems interested...have him click this!

I just learned of a website for those who love to listen to books online. It's called LibriVox and it has a catalog listing that is unbelievable! Austen is there...Dickens, Emerson, C. S. Lewis...the list is huge. Certainly enough for those longer car trips this summer...if you can still afford the gas!

And in the "oh, my is this funny" category...I loved this posting from girltalk. (Nancey, you have my permission to print this for Wayne. Tell him that I said even though he's 80, it's never too late to learn!)

Changes at 40

My 40th year is bringing change that is wonderful and terrible all at the same time. Yes, I've got bifocals, but I love that I can see. My blood pressure hit the "pre-hypertension" stage, but it finally got both Wayne and I to wake up to taking better care with what we eat and how we exercise. So, now we spend more time than ever together.

My oldest girl, Cassie, is a perfect example of this. Her last day of her junior year is today. In just a few short weeks we'll enter her last true year at home. College applications will have to be sent (along with the small...whatever...fee). Senior pictures will have to be taken. Cap and gown ordered. I can see her walking away even today. (Okay, Mom, I'll stop. I know. We're not talking about this yet!)

But with this time also comes the undeserved grace of seeing what God is doing in her and the hindsight to be able to see what He has been doing. We are so grateful to be able to bear witness to the Spirit of God that is within her. We taste the fruit of her life and proclaim together with those she blesses that the Lord is good. To give you a taste, here's a posting that she did recently on her blog. She told me when she wrote it that she meant it when she said that she liked it the way it was. I tend to edit. Heavily. I'd love it if you'd leave her an encouragement at her blog by clicking here. Here's our Cassie:

In my English III class at school we were told to write a college essay and turn it in the next day. It's the last week of school and my teachers are still assigning us homework! I pessimistically sauntered over to a computer and began to look at the plethora of prompts i could choose from. One stuck out to me the most. "Describe a significant person, experience or achievement that has meaning for you." I can find something to write about this for sure. Everything else is like politics and find a solution for the world...this should be a breeze. Which it was...but God had a different plan for my essay. He wanted it to be about Him. How selfish! Just kidding! He's allowed to be selfish...He's God! So, I began to think about what i could talk about. One topic that obviously came up under the "significant person" category was my mother. She's more than significant to me...BUT, it's a college essay and the things i'd have to say might be seen as sappy (although true) and made up (because they seem so fictional). So, then i began to think about other people, experiences and achievements that could come a close second to my mom and God said " about ME." So i said "O.K"...and this is what i wrote:

Discuss a significant person, experience or achievement that has meaning for you.

"Most people might have a certain mentor, life altering experience or unheard of achievements on which they could write a college essay. I'm not saying that I lack any of those, but the one I'm going to write about is the most important person, experience and achievement that has meaning to me all wrapped up in one. My life was saved, changed, and renewed. It began when I was just a little girl. I would dress up in my prettiest dress, or the dress that twirled the most, and trot off Bible in one hand, my Mom's hand in the other. Dad would proceed to drive us to church. This was a weekly event in which my parents and two younger sisters would greet people as I twirled down the hallway eagerly admiring the smiling faces I received and giggling with the joy of knowing here I was accepted. This tradition, so called has continued for all of my life and for the rest of it I'm sure. I had heard every Bible story imaginable from Moses and the Ten Commandments to the birth of Christ through His death on the cross. To me they were just like the fairy tales I grew up on or superhero cartoons on Saturday mornings. Nothing more, nothing less. Easily forgettable during the week, but boy was I a professional when it came to memory verses in Sunday school! As I grew older I began to question some of the things I had heard in church. Why would a God so great send His one and only Son to die? Wasn't there another way? Things like this irked me and I grew restless. I wanted to know the answers, but I was uncertain of where to find them."

"I had had a certain revelation when I was seven years old when I suddenly felt guilty for doing something wrong. That had certainly never happened before. It struck me as odd because I couldn't understand why I continued to do bad things even though I wanted to stop. That's when God revealed Himself to me. Not physically, but spiritually. I learned that day that nothing I could do could help me not to sin, but with the help of Jesus Christ "...all things are possible." From that day on I took that and ran with it. My life was not about me anymore. It was about living for Christ and putting others before myself. Yes, I realize that I was only seven, but this wasn't an overnight heart change. It took years. Four years to be exact, and I'm still growing. When I entered the public school system at the beginning of my sixth grade year, after being home schooled for three years it became apparent to me that I was different than the rest of the kids there. Not only was I socially awkward, which is just a nice way of saying weird, but I stood up for the other little people around me and didn't let them get pushed around. I knew what I wanted in my life and what I didn't and I wasn't afraid to let people know. This was, as I found out quite uncommon. I wrestled with what my friends were doing (sometimes joining in) and what I knew was right. For all my life my parents had to lay down rules and tell me what to do and what not to do. However, during my seventh grade year that began to change. I began to see things and decide for myself whether they were what God wanted me to do or not do. My reason for not going to a certain movie changed from: "Mom said no." to "I don't think I should be watching that." "

"My faith had finally become my own. Now, four years after that I still struggle with understanding God's will for my life. But one thing I am certain about is that if it weren't for Jesus Christ and His remarkable mercy and grace I would not be the person I am today. I'm not perfect. In fact, I'm far from it. Due to my experience when I was seven and having love and mercy revealed to me I was able to strive to achieve what many people look for everyday: my purpose. My purpose in life is to glorify God in everything I do. Not just the "churchy" things but the minute and everyday things like eating and drinking. God has not left me alone in this world. He has given me tools in which to master specific tasks He has planned for me. College is my way of sharpening those tools to better equip myself for what lies ahead. It's a journey that will take a lot of faith, trust, and perseverance, but knowing that the God of the universe is by my side is the most comforting stronghold I have."

I like it the way it is...grammatical errors and's how i write when i don't give mom my papers and have her edit them! haha! let me know what you think! I love y'all!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Light through dark veils

I met Beth tonight. She's an opera singer living in a place where, she says, the people literally do not sing. The irony of God. She and her husband have moved to the United Arab Emirates to join Oasis Hospital which is operated by Cure International. Cure was started by an orthopedic surgeon to help children around the world who are born with deformities. The vast majority could be cured if they only had the means to get help.

Her husband serves as an administrator and team builder to help organize ways the hospital staff can serve outside the grounds. They have organized wellness clinics for women and children, have helped with Lebanese refugees and have even reached out to the Muslim "seminary" that is in Al Ain (pronounced to my Texas ear as all-LINE...though I realize that I don't even think I have an accent). And they do it all in the name of Christ. It even says so on the walls as you enter the hospital. This in a country where it is forbidden by law to share the gospel. Another grace of God today to be thankful for today.

A little background was helpful for me...
  • UAE has a per capita income of $17 million dollars! The median household income for Texas? About $42,000. This is deceptive though as there are thousands which are not even counted for this statistic since they are lowest of the low class. Their income is a pittance.
  • Only about 18% of the people in the UAB are actually Emiratees.
  • Their women are in full veil and do not speak to outsiders.
  • The temperature can get to 146 degrees (which made me resolve again to quit complaining as I wait for the air conditioner to kick in...what is 95 degrees?).
  • It is illegal to "move someone from one faith to another"...though she said that the Muslims get a bit of a pass on this one.
  • If a person accepts Christ as their Savior, they will lose everything...children, home, job...and unless they escape, they will be killed.
I was so blessed to have been asked by Tim and Nino to help organize a dessert/coffee for some in our church who would like to hear more about what God is doing in the UAE. They are, God willing, going to be joining Oasis Hospital soon and moving to the Middle East with their two boys. Tim is an ophthalmologist and Nino is a Christian counselor. I am so excited to hear reports from these two who love the Lord and love His Word.

As I was cleaning, Beth came up to get a glass of water. I asked her simply: What is in your heart that I could pray for? What is your prayer, especially for the women there? Tears came to her eyes. She told me that she didn't want to go at first. Her husband wanted to and she followed obediently and lovingly. Now God has given her such a love for these people. And she sees so clearly how blind they are. They have everything that money can buy. And they are finding it has not solved anything. They are curious about Christianity after what they see those in the hospital do for them in the name of Christ. But they will not risk their lives for Him.

I feel so helpless, she said. There is nothing I can do to get through to them. I can't even reach them through singing. And there are half a million of them in our city alone...I feel so helpless sometimes. It's completely up to God. Would you pray that God would move in their hearts so that they will not that they would be willing to risk everything for Him. They are so lost. They can not see. Like the veils over their faces, their eyes are darkened. Then she spoke one sentence that seared into me: Pray that God would shine light through their dark veils.

So, will you? Will you take just ten seconds to pray for the women of Al Ain? It's a simple prayer...God, would You out of love for Your Name shine light through the veil of these women's hearts that they might see the Light of Christ? In Jesus name, Amen.

Got another minute? Open your Bible to 2 Corinthians 4:4-6 (go ahead...I'll wait...), read it and next to it, write the letters UAE. Maybe stick a piece of paper there so that every now and then it opens to it. And when it does...pray again...

Then listen for more of what God is doing around your town and around the world and add some more letters...and pray again...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

One step away

Just a quick drop-off before continuing my errands. You know how it is? Just sailing through my list of to-do's, not really even thinking...just chatting with Brennan in the back about whatever comes up. Then we round the corner, headed to the youth building in back of the church to drop off a couple of things for a missions' dessert/coffee that I'm helping with. And there he is...Uncle Lonnie.

Well, not actually him. He died a few years back. But it could have been him at a glance. Long scraggly hair, old jeans...has his shirt off as he's washing up, using the hose out front...his possessions at his feet. Everything hard worn, threadbare...even from a distance. I'm alone, so I stopped the car a fair distance away and called the main church office. I got a sweet secretary who said she'd send out a pastor. Brennan and I watch him wash off his stuff, scrub his back with his shirt. Rinse his head clean in the 100 degree heat.

And I think...that's me. That's my family. That's Uncle Lonnie. One step off the path from where I stepped and I'd be him. I know him. I remember Lonnie tossing me in the air...blowing on my belly. Does anyone remember this guy doing the same? Did some little one stare up at him, shyly hoping to be scooped up again? No one starts out hoping that this is where they'll come one day. Once they were born, cradled, nursed...some teacher smiled their way...tossed a ball to a a little frazzled over a test coming up...kissed a girl...little graces each day as I had. He went off toward folly like I did...and one more step and I'd be him.

I love our pastors. Danny and Tim showed up quickly. Shook his hand. Asked about him. Gathered up some water, snacks from the youth closet (not the healthiest stuff in the world) and stayed to see about getting him some help. Didn't run him off...didn't call the police. Wanted him to know we cared. I'm so grateful they saw him. Lots didn't see Uncle Lonnie, I know. He traveled from Houston to Austin to Big Spring (my home town). For those who don't know, if you drove it then it would be Houston, three hours to Austin, 6 hours to Big Spring. How'd he get from place to place? We never quite figured it out. But he'd be there one day, stay for a while...then off he'd go. Lived on the streets mostly. Threadbare clothes. A trailer that you could see through the floors of was the best he stayed more step and I'd be him.

I love Brennan. We pull away after dropping off what I needed to. Tim was still there with him. I glance down. Gift cards are there to a local Chik-fil-a. But their Bren's. She got them from a friend just last week as she'd been sick for a long while and had lost some weight (which is blessing for me, but not helpful to her). They were meant for a "shake a day" blessing. But I asked anyway...What do you think, sweetie? Could we give him one? Quick reply: You can give him more. I don't need them like he does. Love her heart...

So, I'm a thankful woman today in so many ways. Not simply that I'm not Uncle Lonnie. Nor that I'm not this man. For I am step away. It's the Lord I see today. I deserve nothing but wrath from Him and have proved it over and over. Uncle Lonnie and this man are the same. But today by His grace I see Him. I know Him. He is not simply the Holy One. He is my Holy One. And I see His grace in my life...grace when none should be offered. I see His grace in stopping me from heading to Padre to do "normal" college stuff that memorable Spring break when I met my husband Brennan's quick clear, cool water on a man's head to break the heat of the pastors who lived the meaning of the water put into bottle that can be filled again and again...for a glimpse of the gospel and how we can live it out every day.

Jesus died to purchase this grace for me...and for Uncle Lonnie...and for the man who needed a hand today. I've done nothing to earn it. More than that, what I have earned is death. But what was offered was water, Living Water, to satisfy my soul on a hot day. So, I'm thankful today. Not for a life of ease, but for a grace that allows me to see His grace...and for being able to watch Scripture come to life...
If you take away the yoke from your midst,
the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
if you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.
And the LORD will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail.
And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to dwell in.
Isaiah 58:9-12

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Thanking God for Tuesday

We enjoyed a long weekend here that makes Friday seem like a week ago. In the last three days, we:
  • went to the University of Texas in Austin where Cassie had qualified for state in choir with her solo
  • drove to San Marcos to the Pottery Barn outlet...which really has outlet prices unlike so many others...and got the girls new bedding and room stuff
  • drove to Fredericksburg to celebrate my in-laws 45th wedding anniversary and have dinner
  • church the next day which was Senior blessing for the grads which, of course, made me cry thinking about next year for us
  • training the youth for our Backyard Bible clubs
  • shopping for fabric for curtains, bedskirts, pillows, etc.
  • rearranging beds, furniture and wall stuff in the younger girls' rooms
  • cleaning out, cleaning up, donating, giving away to friends, throwing away (my favorite part...the girls' least favorite!)
  • shopping for Cassie's new bed and mattresses
  • doing the same rearranging, cleaning, etc. to her room
  • weeding, mulching in the flower garden (which grows grass much better than the yard)
  • taking a couple of hours to see the Indiana Jones movie with Wayne...while telling myself that if we're going to pay that much, I'm not going to fall asleep (thought it was fun, far fetched and ridiculous like it's supposed to be!)
  • and finally ending the night making these for a friend:

I love a weekend where we're all together and have lots to do, but I'm usually struggling to catch up on everything that I didn't get done. But not today! God has given me a gift of a house alone! The girls are off babysitting up the street. Wayne and Cassie are off to school. And I have had a great morning of being able to spend a couple of hours praying over Colossians and asking God's guidance for writing the study...doing some laundry...drinking a homemade Iced Chai (thanks again, Cass!)...praying for Cassie who is waiting to see if she made a performance for groceries...talking to friends...

Wait...that sounds like another busy day, but it feels like a day off. Perspective is everything, isn't it? Maybe I need weekends not to be times of rest. Maybe they need to be times of working hard and long so that my normal days are filled with greater gratitude to my Father!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Inspired to press on

Here's a clip I found challenging and inspiring. It from Adrian Wornock in the UK who interviewed Dr. Piper when he was there to give a talk at New Word Alive.

When I heard it, it was like I was hearing Paul tell Timothy how he lived this life of faith with Christ. He'd probably hate that I said that. But it's not that we have to go and do likewise in every form that Piper mentions in this clip. But how I need to be challenged to seek God. He says in the video clip that he would not hold himself up as a model for this, but as one who is running behind, I could do worse than starting where he is!