Friday, December 31, 2010

Dear 2010, You make me vomit, you are the scum between my toes. Love, Alissa

Oh, it's love, it's hate. Who can say? That is pretty much how I feel/think about this year. I learned a lot, the heart wrenching way, and mostly vicariously. Holding out hope for others, and refining my hope at the same time.

In light of that, Sandra McCracken's "In Feast or Fallow" spoke/sang some good truths. In situation after situation, song after song, my heart was stirred to hope and cling to God.

God is good, in feast or in fallow. He is with us and His love comforts us.

"Taste and see that the Lord is good, blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him." -Psalm 34:8

"Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you." -Isaiah 46:4

I am so looking forward to the new year! Happy New Year!
Each year that passes, we are one more closer to glory, to eternity with Jesus. That makes me so happy.

(I hope my title reminds you of The Little Rascals.)

Friday, December 24, 2010

C is for Cookie, Christmas cookies!

Here are three of the recipes I used this week: sugar cookies, frosting and gingerbreadmen. 

Rolled Sugar Cookies
-6 tablespoons of butter or margarine
-1/3 cup of shortening
-3/4 cup sugar
- 1 egg
-1 tablespoon of milk
-1 teaspoon vanilla
-2 cups of all-purpose flour
-1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Beat butter and shortening, add sugar and beat till fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Add flour and baking powder to beaten mixture, beat until well blended. Cover and chill for at least 3 hours. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 minutes or till done. Makes 36 to 48.
Some of these are a little too golden :)

This recipe is from the 1981 edition of the plaid Better Homes and Gardens "New Cook Book." It is my fav, one of my favorite things about Christmas time. We at the Williams' house frost em' with butter cream frosting.

Butter Cream Frosting (from same cookbook)
-6 tablespoons of butter
-4 1/2 to 4 3/4 cups of sifted powder sugar
-1/4 cup milk
-1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla

Directions: In a small mixer bowl beat butter till light and fluffy. (Better Homes and Gardens is big on beating your butter till its fluffy.) Gradually add about half of the powdered sugar, beating well, Beat in the milk and vanilla. Gradually beat in the remaining powdered sugar, then additional milk, if necessary, to make frosting to desired spreading consistency. 
Add food coloring to make it festive! 

Soft Gingerbread(men) Cookies
-3/4 cup molasses
-1/3 cup brown sugar
-1/3 cup water
-1/8 cup of softened butter
-3 1/4 cup of all purpose flour
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1 teaspoon ginger
-1 teaspoon cinnamon 
-1/2 teaspoon clove (I use a heaping half teaspoon, cause I love cloves!)

Mix molasses and water together. Add softened butter and brown sugar, mix. Add the dry ingredients and combine. The dough will be sticky. Refrigerate dough for at least three hours. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. 
I find that the best way to refrigerate the dough is by dividing it in half, then flattening it out on plastic wrap to about an inch thickness. Wrap and store it the plastic wrap. This keeps you from having to work the dough too much. 

Gingerbread angels!
I hope you have as much fun as I did!
Made and frosted over 300 cookies in the last 24 hours!
I realize that probably isn't fun for most people.
 What is sweeter than Christmas cookies? The joy of knowing Jesus as your Lord and Savior!

Merry Christmas!!

Immanuel-God with us

I have so much to be thankful for! 

Today I spent a few hours playing church secretary (like old times) and redesigned the Christmas Eve bulletin. I was thinking about my favorite Christmas verses, and there are just so many! The plethora of these verses make me think of God's goodness, His sovereignty, and the infallibility of His plans and ways...and then the weights of this world lift and my worries cease to be. 

The verses I have been the most excited about this season are: 

Isaiah 7:14: "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: the virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel." and Matthew 1:22,23: "All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.”"  

What a sweet thing it is that God is with us...may it be super-glued in my heart.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Oh what a blessed hope is ours!

Yesterday morning my parents visited my grandpa. My dad wanted to communicate how thankful he was for his father-in-law's support and how much he loved him. Thankfully, during their visit my grandfather was lucid enough to interact and my parents were able to have a meaningful interaction. As they talked, my dad reminded him of Jesus' love for him, while mom was misty eyed. And with heavy breathing grandpa said, "For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." Dad said, "Yes, John 3:16." And grandpa continued, "And the seventeenth verse: 'For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.'"

Early last night my grandpa went home to be with Jesus, His suffering is no more and I can only imagine the joy that he now beholds. I am so thankful for a grandpa who knew Jesus as His greatest treasure, and even in his last years was continuing to hide God's Word in his heart. I am thankful for his support, his faithful prayers and his life. 

"Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him."  - 1 Thessalonians 4:13&14

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

This weekend, while on the phone with a beloved friend, I accomplished a life goal. I had never verbalized it as a life goal or written it on a list, but I can remember thinking "I want to do that!" whenever I saw such things. The satisfaction that I had on completion made me realize how momentous it truly was. The 30 minutes spent were well worth it!
It even bounces.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Zopf is for Sundays

In Blythe over Thanksgiving break, I made a new friend from Switzerland. He so dejectedly told me that there is nothing like Swiss bread in the U.S. My response to this was, I will make it! I did a bit of research online and found some different kinds of Swiss bread. One of the types of bread was called "zopf," which means braid in German-Swiss, the bread is braided. Zopf is traditionally baked on Sundays in Switzerland and is sometimes called Sunday bread, isn't that winsome!?

As much as I like the idea of zopf (Sunday bread, which is so cute!), I like zopf even better. If you like bread, do yourself a favor and get baking! I have baked zopf three times in the last two weeks, everyone has liked it. I have tried three different recipes and think I will share the second with you.

- 6 3/4 teaspoons of yeast (I'd go with rapid rise)
- 1 1/2 cups of milk
- 1/4 cup of honey (optional)
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- 4 1/4 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons of butter
- 1 egg yolk

First, combine yeast and lukewarm milk. Stirring, allow the yeast to dissolve, the mixture will be a bit frothy. After the yeast has dissolved, add the honey and sugar and stir until it too is dissolved. Following this add the dry ingredients and melted butter, stir with a spoon. Turn the dough out on a floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth, or if you want to avoid a mess, knead the dough in the bowl. Roll the dough into a ball, place it in a bowl, cover said bowl with a damp towel and allow the dough to rise in a warm location for an hour. After the dough has risen, divide the dough into two equal parts. Create two long strips of dough, approximately 24 inches, keeping the strips slightly thicker in the middle. Braid the bread, this can be a bit tricky, it took me two tries to get it right my first attempt. If it is too confusing, you can do three strips and braid that way, tucking the ends in. Here is a diagram that was useful and some pictures of my attempts.

This was way too long!

Make an "X," put the right top corner down and the left bottom corner up, then turn the dough down so that there are four strips facing you.

Continually move the furthest left strip
under the strip that is furthest to the right.
Your braided dough should look similar.
Make sure you tuck the ends in tight!
My ends came out a bit as the bread rose and baked.
Let the dough rise for a half an hour on a greased sheet. After the half hour brush the dough with an egg wash, avoid getting the wash in the cracks. An egg wash is made by mixing a teaspoon of water with an egg yolk. This will give the bread a crustier shell, a beautiful sheen, and a deep golden brown color. Allow the bread to rise another half hour. Bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees.

Finished product should look something like this. 
Hope you will try it out. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

a song from this morning's shower

Bring You Glory

If I don't bring You glory,
what am I living for?
If I don't give You praise, all of my days,
who is it I adore?

I will extol the Lord at all times,
My soul will boast in You, O Lord.
Let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
This is the reason I lift up my voice.

If I don't bring You glory, 
what am I living for?
If I don't give You praise, all of my days, 
who is it I adore?

Glorify the Lord with me, 
All you saints, all you saints, 
Let us exalt His name together,
Put praise, put praise on your lips.

If we don't bring You glory,
O Lord, what are we living for?
If we don't give You praise, all of our days,
Who is it we adore?

You alone cans save us,
You alone are our strength.
You alone can redeem and save from the grave.

You alone are good,
You alone are wise.
You alone, You alone are my prize.

You alone are worthy.
You alone give life,
You alone are all my delight.

We bring You glory, O Lord,
It's You we live for.
We bring our praise, now and always,
O King, You, we adore.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Early this week during my time with the Lord, I was struck by the verse Luke 15:31, which says, “My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours." This verse is at the end of the parable of the Prodigal Son. I have read the parable many times, viewing myself as different characters in different times, but this week I just read it. I didn't really identify with the big brother, but the father's words just rang out in my heart. 

"My son," the father said, "you are always with me, and everything I have is yours." 

As I thought about these words, I felt so bad for the big brother and the joy that he was missing out on. The joy of relationship with the father. He has been there the whole time that his brother has been away, but has he been enjoying the father and all that he has? Maybe he didn't realize the great riches of this place, but that does not change the fact that he has been enjoying them on some level and could be enjoying them more. 

I can see the truth of these words in my own life. It is so good to obey your parents and it really does go well with you. It brings such blessing! Primarily, in the relationship and being with your parents, at least in heart. It gives that relationship a strong past, an enjoyable present and a hopeful future. My relationship with my parents is one of the things that I am most thankful for! Being home with my mom and dad this week has been so restful, we laugh, cry, talk quite honestly and enjoy the gift that each of us is in each other's lives. My mom so sweetly said tonight, "the best gifts we have are our children." The relationship far outweighs the "stuff" that my brothers and I will inherit when our parents die, even if they became billionaires.

Now, there have been times in my life when I was tempted to respond like the big brother, and not rejoice at the graciousness of other people to those who are coming home with repentant hearts, but giving into that temptation is meaningless. In light of Christ and His mercy, I too must rejoice at the graciousness of others and give grace and forgiveness myself. There is no place for that attitude, it is pride. After all, I can only walk in holiness as I keep in step with the Spirit. 

On a day like today, Thanksgiving,  we stop to think about our blessings, and to thank the Lord for them. I am truly blessed and really thankful. While I am most definitely blessed in the physical realm by the Lord, I see my greatest blessings are knowing the Father as His child, being with Him always through the Spirit, and having an eternal inheritance from Him in Christ!  

Lord, thank You for Your love, for wanting relationship with us, and sending Your Son to secure it. You are sooooooo good! I just love You!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

the baking frontier

Life is often like baking. Recently, I had the opportunity to make a birthday cake for my friend, Andrew. I had planned to make a simple, yet fun cake, a lightsaber cake to be exact. I had made one before in high school and it was a success. I figured that it could only be easier and turn out better as I had already done it once.

I had bought everything I would need to make the cake and decorate it properly. I had done the math on how to cut the sheet cake right for the proper proportions. I had wrapped a wooden plank in foil, to frost and serve the cake from. I had even dyed a boat load of butter cream frosting bright blue! I was ready to make a lightsaber cake!
Lightsaber blue...frosting!!

However, as the cake cooled at home and I was at campus preparing for an investigative Bible discussion, the birthday boy told me he didn't actually like Star Wars. (Now, I don't just go around assuming that all people like Star Wars, some people are just stubborn and don't like good things, but Andrew was gathering his friends to watch it on his birthday, so I assumed he was a fan.) I knew that I could no longer make a lightsaber cake.

As I got home I was racking my brain to figure out what to make the cake into instead...after carving, baking more, frosting, sprinkling and frosting...and running to Michael's the next day for some miniature Pioneers, I came up with this:
A three year olds dream!

Happy birthday!

Now, how does this relate to life?

Well, I think sometimes our plans say lightsaber cake. We know it will taste good, look good, make people smile and serve to hold candles. But its probably not as fun as making a wild west, canyon cake! Definitely not as unique, and probably not as challenging or as much work. No way, no how! But of course, it is totally worth it!

There is an excitement in the unknown, in the challenges that lie ahead. I pondered all this the morning after my night of cake decorating, when I should have been sleeping. It was still worth it. While I haven't a clue where I will be this time next year, or what I will be doing I am excited for the adventure of it all. The joy is in the journey, when you're journeying with the Lord.

Saddle up!

Note: if the dirt looks purple, it is because I used that blue frosting as my base color.

Monday, November 1, 2010

I just thank You Father for making me, me.

This morning I was sitting outside eating a bowl of cheerios, enjoying the warm sun as a butterfly flew by me. And "The Butterfly Song" popped into my head. Now, this was one of my favorite songs when I was a little kid, and after "growing up" I still love it. The chorus is so simple, but the truth of the words make my heart brim full with joy!

"For You gave me a heart and You gave me a smile,
You gave me Jesus and You made me Your child,
And I just thank You Father for making me, me."

What a sweet thing it is to be God's child, to know this in your heart!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Hallelujah, What a Savior!

Do you know this hymn? I don't really remember hearing it until I moved to Blythe for some reason, but I love the words! It was naturally in my head all day as the Bible study I'm leading was in Isaiah 53 early this afternoon.  

Man of Sorrows! what a name
For the Son of God, who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Guilty, vile, and helpless we;
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
“Full atonement!” can it be?
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Lifted up was He to die;
“It is finished!” was His cry;
Now in Heav’n exalted high.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

When He comes, our glorious King,
All His ransomed home to bring,
Then anew His song we’ll sing:
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

I am so thankful for the Lord's faithfulness, for He has secured the salvation of my soul with His blood! He was pierced for my transgressions, crushed for my iniquities, punished so I may have peace and by His wounds I am healed.  May this ever be my source of all joy and thankfulness! 

No other song title is so worthy of an exclamation point!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Reflection from "The Rest of God" Restore-Chapter 10

Do you want to be well?

Lord, I think I do. But I think I don't. Oh there is this inner struggle. I want certain things out of this life. You have revealed to me my heart of self entitlement this year and I know that I am not entitled, but I still desire them. I feel as though You are holding out on me and yet, I know that I lack no good thing. I am struck by my dad's words about those of us who lose hope are wanting to find too much fulfillment this side of heaven. Lord, only You can satisfy. I don't know how to be well. I know You must heal, but I don't know what needs to be healed. So would You just heal me?

I have heard You speak, but I don't want to live on past promises.

"Come to me, trust me completely."

Lord, I want to say an enthusiastic "yes," but I say it with hesitation and with great fear of what may come. Lord, I think of Buzzie's talk and praying that You would make me a woman of faith no matter the cost. Lord, I am scared of what it may cost. 

"Do you still have no faith?"

Lord, help my unbelief. You are good, no matter the circumstance. You are more than enough. I will fear You more than I will fear singleness and walk down whatever road You guide me.

Has your illness defined you?

Lord, I think that my greatest "illness" is singleness, but its not really an illness, just a bad attitude at times on my part, for it is a gift from You. It has ups and downs, and its purposes, and is this not the way You have ordained it to be? And yet, could there be restoration? So not restoration as in no longer being single, but a genuine contentment no matter the circumstance?

"Contentment comes from knowing Me, finding your life in Me. You are too busy. You are laboring, at times, out of your own strength. Ministry will not satisfy you, even successful ministry. Only I will."

O Lord, forgive me for my foolishness, my forgetfulness. Lead me in the way of the everlasting, make me abide, lead me to the green pastures. You are my hope, my home is with You. I feel stupid, can I not be stupid anymore? I am guessing probably not this side of heaven.
Restore me, Lord. You are the Potter, I am the clay.

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."
-Romans 12:12

"now with patience in our suffering
perseverance in our prayers
with good reason this hope is in our hearts

hallelujah hallelujah
Christ our joy and strength
hallelujah hallelujah
Christ our joy and strength"

-Sara Groves "Joy in Our Hearts"

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Liz Fry

I wasn't home for worship today in Blythe, but it sounded a bit more traumatic than normal. After the service and walking out the door, Liz Fry paused and said, "There is a pain in my ear," and with that she keeled over. Greg Johnson caught her on the way down, Teresa Quist began chest compressions and Sara, my prego sis-in-law, continued doing CPR. The ambulance was called, but when the paramedics got there they only found a faint pulse. Liz went home to Jesus.

I have known Liz Fry since I was ten. She was a sweet and spunky woman. She always wanted a hug on Sunday, especially on visits home from Long Beach. She was an encourager to me in unexpected ways, letters in my dorm mail box or random compliments in conversation. One time she told me I had great legs! Oh, she was good at making me laugh. Liz was lonely these last years, her son out of town and daughter already in heaven. I am thankful to have known her, thankful that her pain will be no more, thankful that her last minutes were with her church family and thankful to know that one day I will see her again.

"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints." -Psalm 116:15

Friday, September 10, 2010

Aunt Anne

You know you love someone when picking out a birthday card for them inspires water works on the card isle at Target.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

dirt grows flowers

Yesterday, around midafternoon, I found myself feeling pretty mournful. I was sick of seeing the enemy at work and the way that men live out of their sinful nature. I was walking near a Starbucks and called my dad.

After a few minutes of talking he could tell that I was upset and He asked me if I was pms-ing. After responding "no," I shared with him some of the general things that I was grieving and frustrated about. My dad sympathetically shared some words of wisdom. We then talked about societies that deserve tyrannical rule when their men are so passive that they fail to fight for justice and stand up for what is right and how that was different than enduring persecution for one's faith. I shared with him how much comfort I had been finding in Psalm 34:21-22. It says,"Evil will slay the wicked; the foes of the righteous will be condemned. The Lord redeems His servants; no one will be condemned who takes refuge in Him." After that he prayed for me.

As we talked, I found myself walking through Lowe's. I love hardware stores, I kind of feel at home in them. There are so many fun things to look at, touch and smell! So many different projects one could conquer with a little creativity, geometry and hard work, and a t-square! And yes, for me there are so many sweet memories of following my dad down isles trying to find the right nuts and bolts to secure whatever it was he was working on.

As my dad's prayer ended, I was in the garden section of the store. I stood surrounded by pots of planted flowers and trees, living things that the good Lord had made. I lingered in the isles. I walked up and down them all, looking at the grasses, the moss, the trees, the cacti, the bushes, the vegetable plants and of course the flowers in all their bright varieties. I smelled their flowers and touched their leaves.

Aren't they pretty?

Well, as I looked at all these flowers in their planter pots of dirt, I thought about the dirt...

...and the nutrients in the dirt and how they help the flowers grow with proper watering and sun exposure. And I was thankful. I was very thankful that God is God. He comforts those who are in pain. He redeems His servants. He makes flowers from dirt. He trades weakness for strength, ashes for beauty, death for life, and sin for sanctity. God is gracious and I do love seeing Him work for the good of those that love Him and are called according to His purposes. Yes, yes, I was thankful for His reminder to claim hope in the suffering, even when the suffering was and is not my own.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

like mother, like daughter

Oh my, summer is over. I feel that today with the start of the Student Ministry Team retreat that the school year is truly here! What a summer it was!

God has been showing me a lot and breathing life into some parts of my heart that were pretty spiritless. I have cried more this summer than I have in a long time and I am happy about it. Most of my tears haven't been bad tears, mostly tears of joy and thankfulness, or tears of compassion. (Though just an hour ago I started crying reading the children's book Love You Forever to Athena. It is just so sweet and my mom used to read it to us when were little tikes, so as it was sitting on the shelf and since Athena had never read it before, I had to share it with her...maybe its the preschool teacher in me?)

These tears, however, represent the fact that the Lord is a faithful restorer that He, in fact, has given me (and you too) emotions for many reasons. I think for a couple of years I wasn't feeling as much as my "normal self" would normally feel and God has been slowly been refining some areas...and I am thankful, even if more tearful. I'm not saying feel your way through life, no, but bring your whole heart to the Lord. Don't be afraid to feel, God is bigger than our feelings and we must of course remember that He is also bigger than the circumstances that spur on whatever we are feeling.

In other news my hair smells SO good!

Friday, August 13, 2010

in a nutshell

What God taught me in Russia:
You fear many things, You need only fear me.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

joy in the little things

On the way back from Pyatigorsk to St. Petersburg, Cavin and I were bunk mates. The four bunks across from us were shared by four members of a family. They were quite friendly and eager to practice their English with us. Cavin especially got to know them, playing games with them and trying to understand the Russian children stories. They were traveling north to St. Pete's for their son's wedding, and the day we arrived in the city was the father's birthday. They taught us the Russian birthday song and we held hands singing it. It was just so sweet.

Earlier on the train, I was talking with one of the girls in our group about oranges. She was reminiscing about a summer with her family where they had tons and tons of oranges. She said that her dad peeled them like a whiz. She had an orange with her, but didn't want to try and eat it on the train; it would be too messy. I could sympathize with this. For some reason, it was not until college that I was able to master the peeling of an orange. My dad has always loved oranges and if I asked nicely, he would often peel an orange for me taking a slice for his labor, a "food tax" as mom called it.

As we played Russian card games with the family on the train, only a few hours left on the journey, the father peeled an orange and a grapefruit. He graciously shared the juicy citruses with us. It was such a sweet picture of kindness and simple generosity, a little thing meant that so much!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Deep Dish Delish, Peach Pie

One of the best things about Blythe is fresh, and often free, produce! Some friends of ours recently delivered to us a box of beautiful peaches. We really love peaches, but as fast as we were eating them, it became clear we would need to find a recipe that called for a fair amount of peaches.

I thought, "Henrietta Scott's peach cobbler!" (which is actually called Deep Dish Peach Pie in her recipe book).

Now, Henrietta Scott is a Blythe treasure! She has lived here for many years. Her husband was an entrepreneur- farming, mining, raising sheep and cattle (herding them with dynamite sticks from an airplane! (at least once)). Henrietta owned and ran Blythe Florist for many years, her daughter now owns the shop. She is such a fun, warm and loving saint and she can bake and cook with the best of them! Please say a prayer for her too, she recently fell and had a bump on her head the size of a tennis ball. Another thing I love about Henrietta is that she shares her recipes! Here's her Deep Dish Peach Pie and her favorite Pastry Recipe.

Deep Dish Peach Pie
4 cups fresh peaches, peeled and sliced
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. butter

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Arrange peaches in buttered baking dish (10x6x2 inches). Blend rest of ingredients and sprinkle over peaches. Roll out pie crust pastry large enough to allow 1/2 inch overhanging edge all around. Cut slits in top and put pastry over peaches, folding edge under and onto rim of dish. Press edges down firmly with a floured fork. Brush top with milk. Bake for 40 minutes.

Pastry Recipe
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Crisco
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup ice water

Mix flour, Crisco, and salt. Using pastry tool (or a fork), cut this mixture until it is a small pea size. Slowly add ice water and mix until fairly stiff dough. Shape into large ball and roll into a circle on a floured pastry cloth or sheet. Don't overmix or add too much flour while you are rolloing pastry dough.

I ended up doubling the recipe, we had a lot of peaches!
Here are the peaches in the dish covered with mixture.

Pastry dough in place!

Make sure you cut bigger slits in the dough than I did :) It still tasted delicious!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

peachy keen, mostly

Thirteen years ago today, when I was ten, my family moved to Blythe, CA.

It was quite an adjustment for our family; not to the climate thankfully, that may have been too much to handle that first summer. The thirteen years have proved to be full of blessings and the Lord's faithfulness. My brothers and I definitely have experienced some different things growing up in this town and missed out on some others, but growing up in Blythe has played no small role in shaping us into who we are today, for better or worse.

God planted our family here and the roots continue to grow deeper. It is a sweet thing to sit and think about all that God has done, the people that we were when we moved here and the people that we are today. It is all to His glory, and thankfully we are not the same. I see God doing new things in the hearts of my dad and my older brother that excite me all the way down to my toes!

Oh Lord, may there be many reasons that we have yet to taste as to why You planted us here! May we grow wherever You plant us, remaining in You and bearing fruit that lasts.

Monday, May 31, 2010

worms squirm, FYI

Brandi thought it would be fun to go fishing tonight and I thought it would be fun to see Brandi fishing. We got some live bait, earthworms to be exact. Neither one of us had ever hooked a live worm before. One of my biggest fears was that worm juice would squirt on me when I punctured the worm. While it didn't happen on the first try, it did on the second. It wasn't so bad and after that the worms became something fun for me to play with.


Here are both of our first successes for your viewing pleasure.

Yes, I wave at the worm. You can also hear our friend Justin in the background.

Sorry, this video is a little long at the end... once the worm is hooked the action is over.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

when the shadows of this life have gone...

I read C.S. Lewis' "The Great Divorce" earlier in the week and I thoroughly enjoyed it! It came recommended from a friend and I am oh so glad that their recommendation gave it a little more priority on my list of books to read!

Three Reasons why I liked it (without spoiling it for my beloved friends who have yet to read it):
-It was interesting... really interesting! I loved the imagery and the descriptions of the people....
-It was made me think about my own sin, but also made me want to desire Christ more. I also appreciated the humility in which the convicting message was delivered.
-It was short and moved along purty quickly (deep, I know).

Following my read of the book, I have been thinking about "the shadows of this life." So much of this life is shadows: shadows of the past -experiences, places, feelings, shadows of the future-our hopes, fears, dreams, and even shadows of the present -all that we cannot fully grasp or understand. The thing about shadows is they get smaller when the light is directly above them, like at high noon. I think with us, we are least shadowed in the presence of God, in Christ. His light is eternal!

"Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and His glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn." -Isaiah 60:1-3

Man, I so look forward to this!!!:

"The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it." -Revelation 21:23-24

"When the shadows of this life have gone, I'll fly away..."

Monday, May 24, 2010

Zebra Mocha Chip

Today I went by the local Starbucks and on the window was their latest frappuccino of the week. It's called zebra mocha chip and was invented by Luke. Luke is my little brother, so I figured I should try it. It was good, but more than anything I was struck by how proud I was of my little brother. I sipped it, enjoying the chocolaty chunks, thinking to myself, "Luke made this."

I'm praying for some sweet times with Luker before Russia.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

brown sugar

Today was a brown sugar kind of day; it was sweet and packed. Whenever you bake with brown sugar you always compress it and pack the measuring cup with every ounce of goodness.

First sweet instance was going to Starbucks to spend time with God. While I was there, a choir from Masters College came through. They saw me reading my Bible and I was instantly popular. The first guy that talked to me was really excited to see someone doing their quiet time and as we talked a bit more he told me that his parents were both saved in Navs in college! This gave me such joy! We didn't talk for long, but his parents have daily time with God and that was passed down to him, and he was excited to see a stranger doing a quiet time too! What a sweet reminder of the why we labor and of what we labor for...the spiritual generations. Sweet blessing number 1.

Followed by that I came home and cleaned the refrigerator. It is so clean. I like to clean, more than most people. Blessing number 2.

Then my parents and I went bowling. My mom's work was having a fundraiser so we met up with about 15 of her coworkers and spent the afternoon bowling. It was funny to sit by my mom and cheer for people; more than once we said the same exact thing encouraging our friends. I bowled my personal best today 137, which was also the high score in our group! What a fun time?! Number 3.

Blessing number 4 was just being with the family, catching up, laughing and getting hugs! Do not underestimate number 4.

The weather in Blythe was surprisingly spectacular. Apparently it is a cool May, it couldn't have been much over 90 degrees today and there was a cool breeze that made it feel in the 80's. It was great! I sat out back and read. Numero cinco.

My sixth and final big blessing of the day... a date with my dear friend Brandi. We saw Robinhood (finally)! I really liked it and am excited that there will be a sequel. It reminded me of Braveheart and while I don't think I will be going as Robinhood for Halloween this fall, I still enjoyed it. The best part was seeing it with Brandi, we laughed, sighed and feared the fate of our hero together. Catching up with her after the movie was also a grand time! Number 6!

Yes, today was a good day to be in Blythe! A day packed with sweet blessings from the Lord! God is so good!

Friday, May 21, 2010

"I've got it! Mud Ditch!?" "Oh yes, that sounds lovely!"

Tonight as I drove to Blythe, I was amused by the fact that the ditches along the interstate are named and labeled with the following names:

Bula Ditch, Taro Ditch, Adair Ditch, Hillhock Ditch, Wide Ditch, Larry Ditch, Desert Center Ditch, Airport Ditch, CDXCom Ditch, Quartz Ditch, Ghost Ditch, Rollie Ditch, Palen Ditch, Meta Ditch, Oban Ditch, Copa Ditch, Esso Ditch, Mud Ditch, Walla Ditch, Arco Ditch, Calada Ditch, Gale Ditch, Teed Ditch, McCoy Ditch, Isora Ditch, and Palowalla Ditch

I think this is the right order?

I arrived home and told my parents, they said they had just noticed them on their drive back yesterday; so we're thinking the signs must be new. I don't really know why ditches need to be named and labeled with their said names, but apparently someone important thinks it is worthwhile! On the bright side, if you ever end up in one of these ditches (which I hope you don't), you can tell the emergency dispatcher exactly which ditch to send help to.

It must be really difficult to come up with quality names for ditches. I think "Mud Ditch" takes the cake!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

And for me, some scarlet ribbons

Growing up, my dad always tucked us kids in. In our younger years, he often serenaded us as we fell asleep. He would usually play one song per kid. The two songs he reserved for me were "Scarlet Ribbons" and "Alissa's Song" (it is my very own lullaby).

Tonight I had the joy of meeting up with my parents for dinner in Brea. It was really nice to see them and to watch the Suns game with them, it would have been better if the Suns had won, but alas I will count my blessings. After dinner we went back to their hotel room and I gave my dad my guitar and requested "Scarlet Ribbons."

I peeked in to say goodnight and I heard my child in prayer. "And for me some scarlet ribbons, scarlet ribbons for my hair." All the shops were closed and shuttered, all the streets were dark and bare. In our town no scarlet ribbons, scarlet ribbons for her hair. Through the night, my heart was aching, just before the dawn was breaking. I looked in and on her bed in gay profusion lying there, scarlet ribbons, lovely ribbons, scarlet ribbons for her hair. If I live to be a hundred, I will never know from where came those ribbons, lovely ribbons, scarlet ribbons for her hair.

As the song was being sung, my eyes welled with tears. The little girl's faith hit me. Children aren't afraid to ask God for things, even ribbons for their hair. And God is the God who delights in giving His children good gifts. Yet in my stupidity and pride, I sometimes don't pray for some of the things I want. I think that I lack the faith to pray for them or I'm too afraid that God will say no and don't want to feel disappointed. But God even answers these prayers! (the unprayed ones, if that makes sense? the ones that are just on the edge of being prayed, the ones that slip out of your heart with out mental utterance.)

I see God answering one of these inmost prayers, the Spirit is at work and I am excited.

Lord, thank You for Your grace. Teach me to pray continually and fearlessly, in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Psalm 121

Fifth grade was the first year that I went to school in Blythe and the only year my brothers and I attended a private school. While I didn't like much about that year of school,  I am eternally grateful for my teacher and the way he chose to teach us "Religion." My teacher that year, Mr. Reale, thought it was best for us to memorize chapters of the Bible to fulfill the subject requirements. So that's what we did. He assigned us a chapter each quarter: Psalm 23,Luke 2:1-14, 1 Corinthians 13, and Psalm 121 and a few other key verses like Matthew 28:18-20. (I wish he made us do more!) We were required to memorize them in chunks; punctuation and spelling were to be perfect. Each Friday we were tested, writing out our new verses and our old verses.

I remember that before we began Psalm 121, Mr. Reale introduced it as his favorite Psalm. As I grew up and went through high school, I began to see why. Blythe is in a valley and in almost all directions you can see hills. Driving on the country roads, you're surrounded by them. I was constantly lifting my eyes up to the hills, often struck by the beauty and openness of the clean, country sky, and in awe of the fact that the One who made all that was before me was also my Helper!

Well, it is a little bit harder to see the hills in Long Beach, but I am so often in need of help, especially the Lord's! I find myself praying parts of this Psalm a lot lately and am so thankful for the inner strength it brings.

I lift my eyes up to the hills- where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip- He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD watches over you- the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all harm- He will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and your going both now and forevermore.

Lord, thank You for being my help, for keeping me from harm and constantly watching over my life. Thank You for the ways that You have shaped my relationship with You and for the blessing that Mr. Reale was as a teacher and man of faith. You're faithful and You will continue to be.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. -Hebrews 13:8

I trust You. Thank You for cornbread and honey butter, too!

Monday, May 3, 2010

mmm whatcha say

Lately I have been thinking a bit about my mouth and the words that I allow to come out of it. Words are powerful. I have often been hurt or encouraged by the words of others.

I think that sometimes I have failed to give thought to my words because of my pride and selfishness, but also because sometimes I don't really put much stock in others' words. What I mean to say is that words of affirmation is not my primary love language and I generally only care about someone's words if I have placed some value on the relationship or have felt genuinely loved by them in the past. All that to say, I can be pretty terse with my words.

I have known this for quite some time. My mom often said to me, "You would be the perfect child, if you couldn't talk," and "Alissa Ruth, don't sass me!" One time she told me that I should pray to God that He would make me sweet; I did and continue to. More than once as a child did I have to write the third chapter of James out when I had spoken disrespectfully to members of my family. While I can see that God has helped me to make progress in this area, I still fall short. I fail to love others with my words and in my heart.

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." -Ephesians 4:29

Lord, I am thankful for the ability to communicate with others. Would You continue to help me to do so in a way that is edifying and encouraging? Help me to love with my words. Thank You for Your Word that is living and active, sharper than a double-edged sword, for its convicting power and the story of grace that it holds.

I am now going to kill that giant mosquito on my wall with my dad's copy of Luther's Three Treatises. I don't think he will mind the bug guts. This mosquito is grossly huge!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

i love the long beach ladies

A year ago I found out that I was staying in Long Beach for my first year of EDGE. I did not think that this would be the case, but only a day before I was told my placement God had given me the heart to stay in Long Beach. The weekend prior I had the wonderful opportunity to take some women to my hometown. As we shared life that weekend, my heart became set for them. I had a lot of reasons why I didn't want to be in Long Beach, but these women tipped the scales of my heart toward Long Beach.

A year later, I am so thankful that the Lord kept me in Long Beach. My heart has continued to grow for these ladies in ways that I would have never expected. I am so thankful for the women here and for the ways that the Lord is transforming them.

Lord, You are so gracious. You give life in the dry and weary land.

(I'm thankful for the men too.)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

In the Garden

Growing up I always enjoyed the hymn "In the Garden" and I still do. It is sweet and simple, an easy tune and the chorus is often stuck in my head. I also think that the chorus sounds a bit like something drunken sailors would sing, but I digress. I praise God for the truths in these lyrics and that our God does in fact walk and talk with us. He is so intimate!

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

God is trustworthy

I used my thumb to make the ladybug's body
and a blade of grass to paint its legs.

my current favorite color

Today was nearly perfect.
And at 7:50 p.m. the sky was a soft, cornflower blue.

Thank you Lord.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I'm gonna give Micahel $10

When I was six or seven my mom lost one of her diamond earrings. She had searched high and low, retracing her every step, but could not find it. My brothers and I were enlisted in the search with the lure of a ten dollar reward. My brothers began to eagerly search for the earring, but for some reason I wasn't interested. Maybe the chance of finding it seemed too small, the time spent searching seemed less exciting than the swing set, or maybe I didn't think the reward was worthwhile.

A few days later, however, I was walking through my parents bedroom when I felt a sharp prick on the bottom of my barefoot. I looked down and there it was, mom's earring. I received the reward. As I rode to church this morning I couldn't help, but identify with my six year old self as I thought about some of the things God has been showing me lately.

God has pricked my heart with some truths. I don't know that I was eager to find them or wrestle with them, possibly too busy to realize they were missing, but nonetheless a teeny weeny bit of pain opened my eyes and there were these truths just waiting to be found. There is also a great reward, not just the experience of right living under truth, but also the sweet and deepening fellowship of the Lord.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

connect the dots

Psalm 84:11

"The Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does He withhold
from those whose walk is blameless."

As I first direct my thoughts to this truth, I think, "Sweet nectar, sun and shield, favor and honor! No good thing withheld!! Sign me up for that!"

But then "blameless" shifts my train of thought.

Blameless = Jesus

Jesus's walk was blameless. No good thing was withheld from Jesus? Jesus endured the cross, ultimate humility, suffering and shame. He was utterly forsaken on the cross.

I can see that this brought Jesus honor.

"Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father." -Philippians 2:9-11

Favor though? When I think favor, I think favorite and how I would treat someone that is one of my favorites or one whom I looked on with favor. I am sure that because of God's love and goodness His favor is perfect, where as mine is so not.

So Jesus suffering on the cross was God's favor for Him. It was Christ at the center of His Father's will. His ministry on earth with the disciples had been completed and it was time for Him to be offered as the perfect, atoning sacrifice.

Jesus must be a special case! After all He is Jesus, God in the flesh! Right?!

Well, Jesus definitely is special, the only one to ever walk a blameless life, the High Priest who could make atonement once for all. But we by faith are seen as righteous and with that blamelessness comes the Lord's favor and honor. The Lord in His providence sees fit at time to discipline us, or let endure hardships and let us suffer so that we may be more firmly rooted in Him and sanctified. In the Lord's favor suffering is something that we can rejoice in.

"Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that sufferings produce perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." -Romans 5:3-5

I confess that I have completely failed to do this today and yesterday too, and for me to even look at my life and think that I am suffering...oh my, it is an affront to the Lord, it is prideful, and self-entitlement at its ugly best. Lord, help me to see favor as You do and with Your truth at the forefront of my mind, as the greatest treasure of my heart.

Help me to be like my persecuted brother who wrote this in chains to his wife:

My dearest wife:

God, by His holy will, has prolonged my prison sentence to five years and four month. I very much long for the day that I will be reunited with you my dear wife, our children and God's people in the church.

My dear, listen to me; not only as a wife, but also as a Christian woman who has come to understand who God is and how deep and mysterious His ways are. Yes! I love you, I love the children and I would love to be free in order to serve God. But, in here, God has made me not only a sufferer for His Name's sake in a prison of this world over which Christ has won victory, but also a prisoner of His indescribable love and grace.

I am testing and experiencing the love and care of our Lord every day. When they first brought me to this prison, I had thoughts which were contrary to what the Bible says. I thought the devil had prevailed over the church and over me. I thought the work of the gospel in Eritrea was over. But it did not take one day for the Lord to show me that He is a sovereign God and that He is in control of all things - even here in prison.

The moment I entered my cell, one of the prisoners called me and said, ‘Pastor, come over here. Everyone in this cell is unsaved. You are very much needed here.’ So, on the same day I was put in prison, I carried on my spiritual work.

My dear, the longer I stay in here, the more I love my Savior and tell the people here about His goodness. His grace is enabling me to overcome the coldness and the longing that I feel for you and for our children. Sometimes I ask myself, ‘Am I out of my mind? Am I a fool?’ Well, isn't that what the apostle had said, ‘Whether I am of sound mind or out of my mind, it is for the sake of Christ.’ (2 Cor. 5:13)

My most respected wife, I love you more than I can say. Please help the children understand that I am here as a prisoner of Christ for the greater cause of the gospel.

-- From a pastor in bonds in Eritrea

Monday, April 5, 2010

Friday, April 2, 2010

spring dressed in summertime's clothing

I was recently given a wonderful mix CD with two titles, one of which was "a spring mix in summer clothes and i love you." I love the idea of spring in summer clothes and as I did some spring cleaning today, feeling the warm Blythe air, I couldn't get the idea away from head. I also couldn't help but think of love, for my spring cleaning was in honor of my parent's 28th wedding anniversary.

Little girl circles, she's dancing,
Flowers for springtime romancing,
But you went away, made me cry,
Tear stained cheeks now asking why.

And unrequited like is never easy,
No, unrequited like, it's not easy,
But its only that way cause it's supposed to be
It's supposed to be, you see.

You see spring dressed in summertime's clothing.
It's only spring dressed in summertime's clothing.
Love is only love when it lasts.
O love is only love when it lasts.

Your dad and I, we pray for you
And know that it'll come on soon,
You'll see April to May, in the blink of an eye,
In a glance May will turn into June.

Wait for sweet summertime warming,
Wait for sweet summertime's warming.
Love is only love when it lasts, child.
Love is only love when it lasts.

You see spring dressed in summertime's clothing.
It's only spring dressed in summertime's clothing.
Love is only love when it lasts, child.
Love is only love when it lasts.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

LB to Blythey Blythe

This song definitely kept me awake, I think I played it about 23 times in a row. Also, it kinda makes me want to kick box.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


This morning, as a handful of us girls caught the sunrise, I was reminded of my early Wednesday mornings a year ago. Wednesdays last spring were when I had my child development field work and got to teach preschool. It made me really miss those sweet kids and think back on some of the wonderfully adorable things they did. While I may have already shared this story with some of you, I think it is worth visiting again.

One Wednesday I was responsible for the gross motor activity and I had decided to do an obstacle course with the kiddos. The obstacle course included a tunnel, balance beam and trampoline. To make it a bit more exciting, I told the kids that while we did the course we would pretend to start as caterpillars, but as we went through the tunnel we would be transformed into butterflies. We would then test our wings on the balance beam before "flying" on the trampoline. We each wore a pair of antenna too!

Well, the kids started to go through the course in small groups, having fun being butterflies. As I walked the next group of preschoolers through the course, Max, began in the tunnel. When he came out he spun with his arms out and exclaimed, "I'm being twansformed! I'm being twansformed!" He of course lost his antenna in all the excitement, but after we got them back on he finished the course.

I loved Max's excitement that day. And as I thought about the things God was doing in my life last spring, I felt like I too was spinning around on the inside saying, "I'm being transformed!"

Praise God that we have been transformed! We may fail to recognize this transformation at times, but that does not change the fact of what has already taken place. That in Christ, we are new creations, the old has gone and the new has come!

Lord, thank you for securing life for me when I was utterly helpless to do so on my own. Thank you for transforming me and giving me the grace to walk in this newness of life. As troubles and joys come, may I see them in light of this transformation and Your continual sanctifying work in my life.

Monday, March 22, 2010


Velocitization is a natural, optical illusion. After an extended period of forward motion, your brain becomes used to the speed at which objects go by and when you stop, stationary objects appear to still move as they would if you continued moving forward.

This happened to me this morning as I finished my walk. I couldn't help but see a parallel between my warped vision and how I feel about life lately. I am moving almost continuously, so much so that when I try to pause, I keep going, or at least my brain does.

However, in all of the chaos of life I find myself thankful. Thankful for my Savior. And that in the busyness, I am not rushing about trying to earn my salvation, but rather confident of the grace that has been provided for me.

Also thankful for a roommate who sneakily did my laundry while I was out babysitting.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Smart Water Bottle

Smart Water has the smartest 1 L water bottle.

You fit my hand perfectly and are so easy to carry.
Yet you're not too tiny, you have enough water to satisfy thirst, or enough to share!
And you're opening at the top is just the right size; you probably didn't want me to spill even if I were drinking water and driving on a bumpy road.

You're so fine, you blow my mind!

Dream Deferred

I will borrow Langston Hughe's title, but I am not going to talk about raisins drying in the sun. I will talk about cupcakes and frosting again. I think they're much more optimistic than raisins.

So today a dream of mine (the one that was the sprinkles in a few posts prior) has been deferred. We could say I took the slightest nibble of that cupcake and then it needed a new frost job. That is putting it euphemistically, I could also say that my tearful worries and fears have become a reality. But facing your fears can be good, cupcakes can be re-frosted and deferrals can make one realize the depth of their dreams and hopes.

They are the "if the Lord tarries" kind of dreams and hopes, but they're still valid and important. Sometimes I push off these kinds of hopes because I am afraid they will always be the deferred kind. I know they are not guaranteed.

I will find comfort in the eternal and guaranteed hopes this night, letting them trump the temporal and iffy ones.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Fine and Not So Fine

Two weeks ago Alicia and I were responsible for the Nav West lunch. For dessert, I had decided to make my mom's chocolate cake. All that week I had been feeling disconnected from my family. But as the cake baked and its smell filled the air I felt like I was almost home. Then I saw my mom's facebook status, and it said, "Baking a cake to take to work for a co-workers birthday tomorrow...its chocolate and smells delicious. I hope she likes it." The fact that my mom and I were baking the same cakes and smelling the same smells at the same moment filled my heart with great delight. Cheesy, but it made me so happy.

Last night, after a full day, I was driving home from campus and trying to convince myself that I was fine. As I parked in front of my house, one of my best friends called. I heard her hello and the tears began.
"How are you?"
"I was just trying to convince myself that I am fine, but I'm NOT fine!"
So thankful for the care she offered, her genuine concern and her sweet encouragement. Thankful that I don't have to explain my thought processes because she knows them.

Then today, during my afternoon break from Nav West, I was still not so fine. I was buying a water bottle at a Target in Mission Veijo, when I heard a voice from behind me. "Alissa?" I turned around and who did I see? My mom's old boss. She was babysitting her grand kids for the week. How random! But our short interaction was encouraging to me. She gave me a hug and told me that she loves getting my letters and is praying for me. It may be silly, but I saw someone from Blythe!

These interactions are all different, but they all strike a similar chord within me. The chord of shared experience and life, and the comfort there is in it.

All that said, I have cried more this last week than I have in a really long time; tears of joy, tears of fear, tears or worry and tears of thankfulness. Tears from being in a place in life that I have never been before (I'd love to be more explicit, but am not at liberty to do so).

Joy-some big excitements on the horizon and seeing the sweet faithfulness of the Lord to me and those I love the most. A lot of hopes stirring...
Fear and Worry-that these hopes won't come to fruition...that if I'm this worked up about these things I'm unfit for life.
Thankfulness-thinking about Jesus, the cross, redemption, victory over sin and life in the Spirit.

But in all of these mixed emotions, I see God prodding my heart and asking me to trust Him more deeply and to have my hopes firmly rooted in Him.

I have had to ask myself some of the questions that I ask the girls I disciple. The one I have not liked my answer to is, "What do my thoughts, feelings, fears, behaviors, and etc. say about who I believe God is?"

I confess, they have been saying that I don't believe God is sovereign and good, but He IS and I have seen this in my life, the lives' of others and in Scripture. So I will take these thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ. I will be transformed by the renewing of my mind, in God's time and care. I will trust Him.

Lord, thank You for Your grace as You continue to refine me and draw me into deeper intimacy with You. May I have the faith of an obedient child.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

For my tall and gangly friend

Tall and gangly friend,
Tall and gangly friend,
Tall and gAngLY friend,
With beauty untold.

You walk around
You talk around
Painting the world
With words.

You skip about.
You hop about.
Frolic and play
Yes, the Eskimo way.

What to do
O WHAT to do?
With you, with you,

Shall I lock you up,
Shall we lock you up?
So no harm will come
No harm will come your way.

I think,
I think,
The ugly duckling is
Indeed a swan.

Tall and gangly friend,
Tall and gangly friend,
Tall and gAngLY friend,
With beauty untold.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sing it Sara, Sing it!

So many times I miss home. I miss my family. I desire to be with them, to share in their ups and downs more tangibly. I find myself hoping for the holidays, or the next time when we will gather around the table together.

Last night, I was on the phone with my family. They called me and it was so great to get to be there with them for a few minutes. Before we hung up my dad prayed for us all, together. It was medicine to my soul. Makes me long for their sweet embraces all the more!

As I love them from afar and praise God for my cell phone, I can't help but long for my heavenly home. I can't wait to be home.

Here are the lyrics to one of my most favorite Sara Groves' songs. She has such a way of putting words (and music) to the feelings of my heart.

Going Home

I've been feeling kind of restless.
I've been feeling out of place.
I can hear a distant singing,
a song that I can't write,
but it echoes in what I'm always trying to say.

There's a feeling I can't capture.
It's always just a prayer away.
I want to know the ending,
things hoped for but not seen,
but I guess that's the point in hoping anyway.

Going home, I'll meet you at the table.
Going home, I'll meet you in the air.
You are never too young to think about it.
Oh, I cannot wait to be home .

I'm confined by my senses
to really know what you are like.
You are more than I can fathom,
more than I can guess,
and more than I can see with human sight.

But I have felt you with my spirit.
I have felt you fill this room.
This is just an invitation,
a sample of the whole,
and I cannot wait to be going home.

Going home, I'll meet you at the table.
Going home, I'll meet you in the air.
You are never too young to think about it.
Oh, I cannot wait to be home .

Face to face how can it be?
Face to face how can it be?
Face to face how can it be?

Monday, March 15, 2010

I'll take the one with sprinkles, please.

Today I am filled with joy.

A deep joy of knowing Jesus and seeing His faithfulness in my life and in the lives of those I love (the cupcake, if you will?). I am content in my situation (the frosting). And have some circumstantial happiness (sprinkles!!).

As this happiness began to sink in tonight, some fears also came my way.

What if the cupcake falls?
What if the frosting is too thin and runs off?
What if the sprinkles disintegrate? (Yes, this can actually happen.)
What if...What if I trust You with the beautiful cupcake, sprinkles and all? After all, You made it.

Yes, I will enjoy it while it is here to be enjoyed. And I know the cupcake isn't going anywhere, even if it gets smushed or the sprinkles fall off, its still tasty.

So Lord, thank You for this day; for the cupcake, with frosting and sprinkles. I see You have been in the kitchen for a while baking. I even see that you have carefully frosted the cupcake and put sprinkles on it.

You sure are good!

Monday, March 8, 2010

The girl who forgets her own middle name!

Today as I talked to one of my dearest friends, she told me that I sounded so pathetic and cute that I should be in a Kleenex commercial. Ha! I have used over 150 Kleenex these last two days! And slept a ton! Oh my! But that is not what I want to write about at all, I want to write about my dearest friend.

I first met her in April of 1997, I was in the fourth grade and she was in the third. My parents were in the middle of the interview process with the church and our whole family was visiting Blythe for the first time. This was not a particularly good trip, but there was one ideal day, and that ideal day I spent with Lauran Hellen in an alfalfa field.

The alfalfa was beginning to bloom and was dotted with lavender blossoms. It was crawling with lady bugs. I had never seen so many! The lady bugs consumed our day. We had a coffee can to collect them in and fixed it with alfalfa. We then spent hours in the field collecting lady bugs, and getting to know each other. I don't really remember what we talked about that day, but I remember going home and thinking that Lauran would be a good friend.

For whatever reasons there were, it took me along time to become friends with Laruan. Now that she is one of my dearest friends, I still feel like the first day we met truly epitomizes our friendship. We may not collect lady bugs like we once did, or be basking in our Blythe backyard, but we share life as it comes our way, and we're still very much young at heart.

I think my nyquil started to work before I even started typing this...eek!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

In a dry and weary land
Where there is no water,
My soul thirsts for You.

I will not grow weary,
I will not become faint,
I know You will renew me
As I wait.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Near Sighted

As I sit on my bed and type this, I can't make out the photos on my desk. I know the images in my head and can even remember some of the feelings from when the photos were taken, but I can't actually see them with my eyes. I'm near sighted. I can see what is a few feet in front of me, but without the help of my contacts or glasses not much is crisp and clear beyond that.

Walking with Jesus, sometimes I feel near sighted. I see what is in front of me fairly clear, but the things at a distance become blurred. I can make out the general shapes and sizes, the colors, but my eyes don't see the details.

As I think about my future, I know what kind of woman I want to be. I want to have faith. I want to value the eternal. I want to be transformed by knowing Christ. I want to love in His strength. I want to run free and unashamed. I want to live in grace, in light of the Gospel.

The details of how this will actually look are hazy. Tomorrow, this week, the rest of this semester, the summer; they're in view, I can make parts of them out. There are the general disciplines that will of course help me do this: spending time daily in the Word and in prayer, living in community with other believers and loving the lost well.

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." -Hebrews 11:1

Lord, I know what I hope for, help me to be certain of what I do not see. Help me to be a woman of faith.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Only Way I Know How

I pray that you'll grow wise and strong,
As troubles come, you'll sing your songs.
That your great love will continue to grow,
Your heart stirred for the world to know.

This is the dream I dream for you,
My far off hopes and prayers renewed.
This is the dream I dream for you,
For in Him, you can do all things through.

To be joined together in our eternal home,
Before the Holy Lamb, enthroned.
To look out at that glassy sea,
And to have you, friend, standing next to me.

This is the dream I dream for you,
That you will seek and find the Truth.
This is the dream I dream for you,
That someday soon you'll be made new.

Not my own dreams, but Thine,
This is a simple prayer of mine.
So even when its hard to dream,
I'll remember You reign as King.

And I will dream these dreams for You,
Ah Lord, nothing is too hard for You,
So I will dream these dreams for You,
I will dream these dreams for You.