Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Heb 12:1-2 (NLT)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Intangible mission

Day 36 of The Purpose Driven Life, discusses reaching unbelievers as being the mission of a Christian.

Warren goes on to say that Jesus' second coming is tied to Christians completing this mission. i.e., making sure everyone God wants to hear the Good News has heard it. So if I want Jesus to come back sooner, I had better focus on fulfilling this mission.

I realized when I read that statement, that I don't want Jesus to come back yet. And that got me thinking that as a Christian, shouldn't I want that more than anything?

I know that I am too much of the world as opposed to in it. I like my life. It has it's struggles, but on the whole I enjoy it. I don't want to leave it yet. And it's because the idea of something greater, heaven, just is not a tangible thing to me. Maybe I haven't had the blessing of experiencing God on a significant level yet. Maybe I just don't know Jesus well enough.

This is yet another example that I have a lot of growing in my faith to do. A lot of learning.

It also leads me to a fear. Because I am so comfortable in my life and sometimes still love things, my kids, and my husband more than Jesus, Jesus will take those things away from me in order to make me grow. It is no secret that Jesus uses people and circumstances to reach us.

James 1:2-4 (NIV) says, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers [and sisters], whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything".

Warren himself writes that there are just some issues in life that will never be changed by any amount of Bible study or prayer. I am afraid that the only way for me to grow in faith will be to suffer the unthinkable: losing loved ones.

Warren ends day 36 by asking what keeps me from telling others the Good News. Well, my doubts often do. How do I sell something that I am not always convinced of myself? I fear being challenged on my beliefs because they are so shaky at times.

I posted about my faith difficulties recently. I now believe that God purposefully made me a doubtful person and he intentionally gave me faith as a struggle.  Maybe part of the reason is so that I can share this struggle with you. And to keep me continually searching for truth and answers so that in the process, I can come to know and love God more than the things of this world.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wordless Wednesday; 02/22/12

This is San Diego. A place we last visited when my daughter was 15 mo old. My daughter is now 4.5 and my son is 2.5 and we are going back for a little visit. Escaping the (unusually mild) snow and cold.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Apple Cranberry Pumpkin Muffins

These are a nice breakfast treat. There is no one overpowering flavor in these muffins. Instead the flavors blend well, resulting in a nice, moist, slightly dense muffin.

You will need:
  • 1 C uncooked oatmeal, plain
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 C all purpose flour
  • 1/4 C whole-wheat flour
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 C apple juice
  • 1/2 C unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 C canned pumpkin
  • 3 eggs
  • canola oil
  • 1/2 C dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 375 F

Prepare a muffin tin.

In a medium bowl combine oatmeal, pumpkin, applesauce, juice, eggs and oil. Mix until well blended.

In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Make a well in the center and pour in wet ingredients. Mix until dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in the cranberries. 

Spoon muffin tins 2/3 full. 

Bake 15-18 minutes or until lightly browned on top. 

Catch these when they are warm, spread a little butter on top, and enjoy! Makes ~12 muffins.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Here we are; Valentine's Day.

So what's one more post about love?

In greek, there are four words for love. This seems much more appropriate than our one wimpy English word. Love is complex. Loving sandwiches is different than loving your spouse, for example.

Each of the Greek words has slightly different connotations and meanings.

Eros: passionate love (the boom-chika-bow-wow type)

Philio: friendship

Storge: familial love

Agape: sacrificial love

Although Valentine's Day is more about Eros, I want to talk about Agape love. This is the type of love Jesus expressed for us, and the type he wants us to express for each other (Ephesians 5:2, "Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us,").

So what is love? Our pastor gave a sermon on this a few weeks ago. He read out a commonly used wedding verse (I used it at my wedding), but for the first time I asked myself, based on that verse, how loving am I? I was disappointed with my answer.

1 Corinthians 13

1 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn't love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God's secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn't love others, I would be nothing.
3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn't love others, I would have gained nothing. 
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud
5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.
6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.  
Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever!
9 Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture!
10 But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.  
11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 
12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.
All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. 
13 Three things will last forever - faith, hope, and love - and the greatest of these is love.

Maybe if we were spreading a little more agape love around, divorce filings wouldn't jump by 40% around Valentine's Day. Just a thought :)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

12 Cheesy Easy V-day Gift Ideas

With Valentine's Day only a couple of days away, I thought I would share with you the easy and admittedly cheesy, v-day gifts I've been leaving for my husband since February 3. My kids were able to get in the action too, helping me pick out treats and make the cards.

I didn't put enough forethought into this to think up items for a "12 days of Valentine's" song, so maybe that will be my challenge for next year.

1. "I Love You" card; a Pinterest find
2. Fun Bite snack ("You're a FUN dad!")
3. Nibs ("Nibbles" of Love)
4. Old Spice antiperspirant, Fiji scent (Our honeymoon was in Fiji)
5. Fly-Fishing Magazine ("You make my heart FLY")
6. Sweet and Sour Lifesavers ("Being with you is a lifesaver, even if some days are sour"
7. Energizer Battery ("Our love keeps going and going and going...")
8. Fruit n' Nut Bar ("I'm Nuts for You")
9. Burt's Bee Lip Balm ("Bee Mine")
10. Bear Hugs, another Pinterest find - I also used this idea for the kids in my daughter's preschool class
11. Box of Smarties ("From the Smartypants who was wise enough to marry you")
12. I love you this much card; also from Pinterest (for this one, I used one of my daughter's hand prints, and one of my son's)

There you go. 12 simple, cheesy ideas to remind your partner how much you love them.

Linking to Serenity Now

Friday, February 10, 2012

Battle of the Leading Men!

As co-host of Battle of the Leading Men, I've got some serious business to talk about here so I'll get right to it...

McDreamy or McSteamy?

A long asked question for Grey's Anatomy fans and with here's your chance to weigh in!

Be sure to comment for your chance to co-host next week and visit Mommy Lady Club to connect with more fabulous women blog writers!

You didn't know that you could find a romantic retreat on a Mom blog, did you?
Welcome to Battle of The Leading Men!
Your Romantic Getaway...
Would you like to play?
Round 2 is Here!
First, meet our one and only Hosts, Clint Eastwood & Timothy Olyphant of Justified. 
  Why are these two so special you ask?  They have been designated Untouchable, and shall never battle!

battle of the leading men on mommy lady club
Thank you Gentlemen for guiding us through Round 1.  We trust we are still in good hands.

Here’s how to play:

1: Please G+follow, visit and comment on our Co-Hosts blogs, Mommy LaDy Club and Lucy's Soup Can

2: Please vote in the Battle below by commenting the name of your Battle champion. 
3: You may also link up by Sunday at midnight to be drawn to win next week’s co-host spot!
The Battle voting will remain open through the week, even if you missed linking up for the co-host spot.  Get all of the details of our Battles at your Romantic Getaway central, where you can view all past winners and losers from Round 1 and 2.  
These lovely contenders were some of our top competitors last Round.  It is going to be tough, but you will have to choose whom you want to see again.
Now...Battle On!
 Eric Dane, Battle Cry: Just Eric
Patrick Dempsey, Battle Cry: Grey's Anatomy 
Don't forget to link up to be next week's Co-Host, and come back next weekend for more Battles!  If you like to play our Battles of The Leading Men, grab our button...

Monday, February 6, 2012

Banana Nut Oatmeal

I love oatmeal for breakfast, but I don't want to develop an oatmeal rut. like our cheerios rut.

I've been playing around with different oatmeal additives and combinations. Loved this one!

You will need:

  • 2 C uncooked oatmeal, plain 
  • 4 Tbsp all natural peanut butter, (I like smooth) 
  • 2 C milk
  • 2 C water 
  • 1tsp cinnamon 
  • 4 Tbsp chopped walnuts 
  • 4Tbsp coarsely ground flax seed 
  • 2 bananas, sliced for topping
  • brown sugar for topping (optional)
  • milk for serving
Bring water and milk just to a boil (watch you don't over boil it like I frequently do!). 

Stir in oatmeal, peanut butter, and cinnamon. Reduce heat and boil gently for 3-5 minutes or until mixture thickens and becomes uniform.

Remove from heat. Stir in walnuts and flax seed. Serve in bowls with desired amount of milk and top with bananas and brown sugar. Delicious!

You can of course play around with different nuts and fruit. Raisins are really good!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Is it receive and believe, or believe and receive?

Okay, so one of the fundamental things that I have struggled with since I was eight years old and first heard about God and Jesus, was the whole "receiving and believing" thing.  Everyone who knows anything about Christianity knows that at it's core is believing in the existence and resurrection of Jesus.

To become a Christian, all one has to do is pray to Jesus and say "I believe in you and I receive you".

I cannot tell you how many times I've prayed those words over the years and yet there are times when I still wonder if I've done it right. When I was little, I was told that praying those words only means something if you really accepted Jesus in your heart. But what does that mean, exactly? The issue that I have is this: wanting to believe that something is true isn't the same as believing it.

I have no problem believing there is a God. But how does one go from believing in a God, to believing that same God came to earth in the form of a person named Jesus, who was then murdered, but came back from the dead so that our souls could live forever? Why doesn't this belief or knowledge automatically translate for me like it seems to do for others?

If it hasn't become abundantly clear, one of my struggles as a Christian is faith. I have feared over the years that I was one of an unfortunate few whose heart God had hardened. Romans 9:21 discusses how a potter has the right to decide to use some lumps of clay to make a jar for decoration, and another to throw garbage into. What if I was one God had made to "throw garbage into"? Not a pleasant thought. But then Romans 9 goes on to say that even though God has the right to show his anger, He is patient and merciful. Thank goodness for that.

I have asked God why I should have so many doubts. Why couldn't I just believe and have faith?

Romans 10:17 (NLT) says "faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ". Ephesians 2:8 words it a little more specifically, "God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God". The "it" referred to in this passage, is faith.

It seems pretty clear then that faith is a gift from God. I can't manifest it myself. This makes me feel a little better but it has also meant that I've come to accept that faith is a struggle God has given me, and that I am just going to have to work through it. I take a lot of comfort from Hebrews 12:1-2 (NLT): "...let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith." The perfecter of our faith. This implies that it okay to struggle with faith! This verse has made me realize that I truly am a work in progress - God is still working on me. I'm not a lost cause! He just isn't finished with me yet.

Most recently when I questioned God about my faith, the following words popped very clearly into my head: just keep asking.

Once again it would appear that God is trying hard to teach me the lesson of depending on Him instead of myself.

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