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Platform of Humility

September 10, 2013

empty-white-podiumA former pastor used to speak of a “having a  platform,” meaning place of honor where we could (and should) glorify God. He was referencing any talent, ability, or accomplishment that would allow an audience where you could give God the glory for that ability.

I agree with this. In this world where self-esteem is preached more than the gospel and where excessive pride in accomplishments is the norm,  if we are given the opportunity to say “Thank you, God for the great work You have done! Thank you for allowing me to accomplish this feat, because You are my strength.”  We should let the world know that we are His – bought with a price to glorify God.
In my case, I find myself on the platform of humility rather than of  grand accomplishment much more often. How can we glorify God in those “losing” situations? Wouldn’t it still be true – that God is worthy of thanks in the midst of a trial and that He is still our strength?
Our response to not only good, but also the bad should be more similar. It should all be thankfulness and praise.

I have seen people call attention to financial need as if it were some seal of spirituality. I have seen those without need flaunt their status as if it were a sign of God’s blessing upon them. Neither of these things is necessarily true.

Our eternal God doesn’t “bless” with such temporary things. True, he provides for our needs and he provides the tools for His servants to carry out His wishes. Remember, every good gift is from Him.
Our ability to glorify Him in any and every situation has to do with our humble response to fame and fortune – or to infamy or loss. It lies in our faith that God is good, and that He has a purpose in taking us on a path that might involve either pain or great victory.
I don’t understand why things happen the way they do, but I remember that His ways are not my ways and of this I am confident: He loves me with an everlasting love, evidenced by the giving of His own Son, and He will strengthen me to accomplish his will.

I will walk the path that You, O Lord, have set before me. I will learn to trust you more and more, and I will thank you in everything.

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Garden: A Late Start is Better than Never

August 1, 2013

My garden that almost wasn’t …  I have been meaning to post about it for two weeks….. but better late than never, right?

The garden started in late February, when I gently poked my tender little seeds in an egg carton, then moved the seedlings into the newspaper origami pots I made. (That was a Pinterest idea that really worked! Yeah! The first website did not have clear instructions, but I kept looking until I found one that did. When transplanting, I ripped the newspaper off, instead of planting in the paper pots.)

When April rolled around we finally had snow – nearly every weekend in April, we had snow. When April gave way to May I was busy. And the more May days that passed, the more I considered not even planting a garden this year. After all, a garden takes work and I was not keeping up with my regular workload already. Besides, it was already so late.

notice the newspaper pots

notice the newspaper pots

I thought I might transplant the seedlings I started and call it good….. but I couldn’t. So into the earth went the seedlings and then the seeds. The puppy promptly ate all the leaves off the cantaloupe and broke some tomatoes. Oh, well.

pole beans this year

pole beans this year

The pole beans are a bit disappointing – all “pole” and no bean yet, but still I hope. The cucumbers are blooming like crazy with itsy-bitsy little cukes on them. And I’ll be picking jalapeno peppers soon.

Almost ready

Almost ready

The store was out of the largest bamboo supports for my tomatoes – so they were looking a bit neglected. But while I was visiting my grandson last week, my husband and David rigged a support trellis for them! I usually get nervous when Paul tells me he worked in my garden. 😉

the trellis supports

the trellis supports

I had planned on planting a  perennial herb garden this year, but since its location is currently being used as a track where Muddy runs, I decided to wait another year and put my herbs in pots for now. Their abundance is being dried and stored.  It is so easy to dry herbs and flowers in Colorado’s low humidity. Just wash, bundle with rubber bands, and hang upside down.

lavender, sage, oregano, and thyme drying

lavender, sage, oregano, and thyme drying

So while other gardeners are enjoying their produce, I am patiently waiting. But I am glad I planted. I guess it shows a little bit of faith in the future; a promise of reaping after planting. So, how are your gardens growing?

My favorite puppy, Muddy

My favorite puppy, Muddy

 

Independence Day Cookies

July 15, 2013

Independence Cookies 003I saved the cover of my June 2012 Martha Stewart Living magazine because I wanted to make the cookies that were featured on cover again. After I made them last year, I decided that I did not like the cookie or the frosting – after I had tried three different stores looking for the egg white powder that I needed for the meringue frosting that never set up. (I am sure that any cake/cookie decorator would have known right where to get this, but for me it was a mystery.)

The note I wrote on that cover:  “Next year make with a good sugar cookie, frost with regular frosting, and use gel decorating tubes for the design work.”

I could not find my sugar cookie recipe that uses cream cheese, so I searched the internet and found it! I didn’t have almond flavoring, so I used extra vanilla. We decided to leave early for a little road trip to see my in-laws, so the cookie dough was in the fridge all weekend.

I rolled and baked them this morning and left them cooling while we picked up the cat from his surgery. While I was gone, our Labrador puppy ate most of the cookies. Secretly, this made me happy because I knew that since I had already logged a disaster on this project, the rest would go smoothly!

I made the frosting with powdered sugar, about a tablespoon of butter, a bit of vanilla, and a little milk. I made it thin but still spreadable and not running off the sides of the cookie.

After the remaining cookies had cooled, I frosted them while my eager helpers decorated. I explained that they should make two concentric circles of gel color on the frosting and then drag the toothpick through the frosting from the edge to the center and the next stroke from the center to edge. Alternating stroke direction until you reach the place you started.

My creative helpers

My creative helpers

Of course, being the creative thinkers that they are, their designs started to resemble smiley faces. And that’s okay.

my "practice" cookies

my “practice” cookies

Here are the cookies I made. You can see that I was getting better and better with each cookie – but alas, Mudder has eaten my blank canvas and I will never see my masterpiece.

Yes, I know that I am late for the 4th of July, but I prefer to think of it as early for next year.

Please Excuse My Absence

July 9, 2013

excuse slipThis past year has been a bit harder than normal. Hard in many ways: health, finances, family, jobs, and even more. My emotions have run the gamut – sometimes all in a day. It has been a stretching and trying time for everyone in this household.

I have written, but I haven’t published much because I was unable to write what I thought might be valuable. It has been a year that my God seemed distant – but yet I always knew He was there. This past year, I have clung to His promises even though I did not “feel” like it was helping.

That – clinging to those promises – might have been the only thing I did right. I am convinced that you can not go wrong in trusting an Almighty God. I am not sure my circumstances are much changed from what they were 3 months ago, but I have been strengthened to take on the future.

I cannot look back and see great strides of personal or spiritual growth. I don’t know why God has led me on a path through this valley. But I don’t have to know why or how long it will last, I don’t have to know if I will see a value in this journey. I don’t even know if this respite is temporary or not.

What I know is this:

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

Romans 8:38 and 39

This is enough.

Broccoli Cauliflower Salad

July 4, 2013
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This is my absolute favorite salad to make for  pot-lucks. It is huge and I only make it we are having company or going to a gathering. The reasons I LOVE it are: It is EASY and it has feta cheese!

Mmmm!

Mmmm!

Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad

  • 1 large head of broccoli
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1 can black olives – small to medium
  • 1 jar green olives
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 8 oz. crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 cup Italian salad dressing -oil-based type ( you may need just a bit more)

Wash and cut broccoli and cauliflower into florets. Drain olives and add them. Add the washed tomatoes and cheese. Mix the vegetables and pour salad dressing over the top. Mix it up again, then let it marinate in the refrigerator for an hour. Serve. And if you are lucky enough to have left overs – enjoy them the next day. I think it tastes even better then.

NOTE: You will need a large bowl to mix this in.

Happy 4th of July! Enjoy all your gatherings and stay safe.

Book Review: Transforming Grace

February 27, 2013

Transforming Grace   I read this book four months ago.  I have been thinking about it almost daily. I was reading it solely for the purpose of reviewing it; I did not intend for it to impact my life much in any way. I have been a Christian for over 35 years. I understood grace. Sure, I still need growth, but I didn’t expect the scriptural applications and illustrations to convict, comfort, and challenge me like they did.

I am tempted to  list the portions I highlighted in the book, since I am still not sure I can describe the challenges and rebukes I encountered as I read.

The beginning of the book was what I expected, an explanation of salvation by grace. When we realize that we are spiritually dead in sin and bankrupt, we know that it is only because of His grace that we can be saved.

I was not sure why it would take the author, Jerry Bridges, another 200 pages to discuss this ‘grace.’  Then the teaching was expanded to reveal that grace is NOT the result of Christ’s sacrificial death, but that His death is the result of grace, was forced upon my conscience. His death isn’t the beginning of grace and my salvation is not the end of it.

While I knew this in my head, I don’t think I was living it in my life. Sometimes Christians are afraid that if we live in the power of God’s grace we will slack off in the doing of His will. We like to think that we earn God’s favor by doing right things. And to be certain, when we yield to His will and are obedient, it is pleasing to Him, but do not be confused we cannot earn His favor. I wanted to chalk up the blessings that God had poured out in my life as a payment for “my righteousness.”

“Only when we are thoroughly convinced that the Christian life is entirely of grace are we able to serve Him out of a grateful and loving heart.” (pg. 94)

I was having a hard time giving up my “points system.” It was almost scary to cast myself upon His mercy – probably because I knew I was unworthy – and yet this is how God operates and always had. His mercy was abundant in my life and His goodness was evident. I had to realize that I was not changing Him; I was changing my perception of God to a true reflection of Him.

Jerry Bridges goes into depth about legalism in relation to grace.  I boiled the teaching down to the fact that God’s law is good because it is an expression of His unchanging self. Legalism is not about obeying the law. Legalism it is rooted in seeking justification and a good standing with God through the merit of works done in obedience. Grace did not make the Law optional, but our motive to obey is changed to a loving response to His grace.

From there the author expands on grace in relation to suffering. God wants us to be acutely aware that He is our sustainer. He does not waste pain in the life of a believer. He works it together for their good.  He wants us to experience His sufficiency. Mr. Bridges says, human weakness and divine grace go hand in hand.

He does not skim over the fact that God can and does use hardship to discipline those He loves, but that discipline is never administered in wrath, but always in love.

This book helped me remember that I was bankrupt when I received salvation and I am still bankrupt today. I need His grace – every moment of my life.  Every believer should read this book, especially those that think they understand grace.

Crochet: A Bit of Creativity Can Cheer Anyone Up

January 15, 2013

Ghost Cone Scarf

It always make me feel good to accomplish things – even little crafting frivolities. This is the chunky scarf that I just completed. It went so fast and was a ton of fun. I found it on Pinterest,  which linked back to Ravelry. Ravelry is a great forum to view and post your own yarn creations. From there I could purchase and download a PDF of the magazine with the pattern. (I am loving all this technology!)  The particulars: Pattern is:  Ghost Cone Scarf, by Sue Perez, published in Interweave Crochet, Winter 2013. 

I enjoy crochet because many  projects don’t require careful attention once you have the pattern down. That makes it easy to watch a movie with the family and still feel productive.  It was finished in just a few evenings…. I think I might have spent more time looking for the perfect yarn and “just right” buttons than actually crocheting the scarf. But that is a different and very long story. 😦  

The hardest part of the pattern was getting  used to the fact that it is worked in columns rather than rows. The design looks like broomstick lace, but is really just a simple chain, stitched to make loops. The pattern recommends  fingering weight, which I could not find at the general craft store so I substituted sock weight (1). It uses a double stand of yarn throughout and called for six (1.75 ounce) balls. but I used four with only a few feet to spare. You could make it easily with five balls, but since it is worked with a double stand you would need to roll the last skein into two separate balls. 

 My daughter asked me to make a scarf for her. Any other orders?  🙂 It would be more fun to teach you to crochet so you would reap the benefits of creativity too.  I know  God is a creative God and the creativity I have is  part of being created in His image. You have it too.

 I am intrigued by the Tunisian crochet circulating now. I tried doing the Tunisian stitches (also called Afghan stitch) when I was a girl and couldn’t figure it out, but that was before U-Tube and video demonstrations were so available! Maybe my next project will use that technique, but it will have to wait until I sew the jacket I have cut out. Of course by then it will be time to plant the garden……

Are you working on any projects during this cold winter evenings?