Wednesday, December 28, 2011

"A thing of beauty...

"A thing of beauty is a joy forever..." -John Keats

Best Christmas gift ever!
So this isn't what Keats had in mind, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right?

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Name

Today as I drove from Blythe to Chandler, I listened to RockHarbor's Stronger about three times. This album has been an immense blessing to me since it was released earlier in the fall. The songs are full of Truth, and there is something awesome about singing Truth at the top of your lungs to God. The Truths in these songs spoke to me during the time that I was with RockHarbor and it is awesome to see how the Spirit continues to use them to encourage my heart. I can't pick a favorite from the album, it is one of those albums that is best listened to in whole, but I would like to share the lyrics from one of the songs on the CD. Today being Christmas, made me think of the sweetest name given to the baby born in Bethlehem so long ago. 

"She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." -Matthew 1:21

Hallelujah, the Lord saves!

The Name by Todd Proctor

The Name that humbles kings,
The Name the angels sing,
The Name deserving of all praise.
The Name that darkness flees,
The Name that binds the enemy,
The Name that called upon will save.

There is no name that's lifted higher,
There is no name so strong and sure.
The Name that set the world on fire,
Jesus its Yours, Jesus its Yours!

The Name with power to heal,
The Name of love revealed,
The Name that marks the way of grace.
The Name that martyrs cry,
The Name that leads to life,
beyond the sorrows of this place.

There is no name that's lifted higher,
There is no name so strong and sure.
The Name that set the world on fire,
Jesus its Yours, Jesus its Yours!

And every knee will fall,
And every tongue will cry,
The Name that's overall,
Forever glorified.

There is no name that's lifted higher,

There is no name so strong and sure.
The Name that set the world on fire,
Jesus its Yours, Jesus its Yours!

Jesus, thank You for coming to earth, for putting on flesh, and living each day in perfect humility. Thank You for paying the penalty for my sins, for conquering death, and giving me life. Jesus, You are beautiful. Thank You for infusing life with meaning! You are so good. Lord, we await Your return in light of Your great faithfulness. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Coconut Macaroons Recipe (Make Me! Macaroons)

If you like coconut and chocolate, I cannot recommend a better recipe.

Earlier this year, I had a request for some macaroons. So I set about doing some research on the coconut dessert I had never sampled. After searching, I found a recipe that I thought would be a good base (Chef Keem's Tres Leche Macaroons) and added a couple ingredients to enhance the consistency and flavor. (I added the eggs to help bond the coconut mixture together; without the eggs, I found the macaroons to be too fragile. I also added the almond extract and cinnamon for flavor, but they are optional.)

  • 4-14 oz. bags of shredded coconut
  • 2-14 oz. cans of sweeten condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (I use fat free, and have substituted plain yogurt when I didn't have s.c.)
  • 2 tablespoons of whipping cream (I have used creamer and milk as a sub.)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tablespoon almond extract
  • A couple dashes of cinnamon
  • Chocolate almond bark (If you would like to dip them in chocolate, and you do!)


Simply combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. You will most likely want to use an electric mixer to make sure that the wet ingredients are evenly disbursed through the coconut. Once you have thoroughly mixed the ingredients, prep your cookie tray. Your cookie tray should be lined with parchment paper. I use a silicone sheet liner. Once this is done you can use an ice cream scoop, or any cookie scoop, to make your round macaroons. Bake the macaroons at 325 degrees for about 18 minutes or until the coconut becomes a nice, golden brown.

After the macaroons have cooled completely, then dip them in chocolate. I use almond bark, but if you are more comfortable with another dipping chocolate feel free to use that. I simply microwave the almond bark and dip half of each macaroon into the chocolate. Once they have been dipped, place them back on parchment or wax paper until the chocolate sets. 

These freeze amazingly well! Enjoy!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I love being a whimsy

Today was full of fun for a whimsy like me. 
I will share with you a few of the whimsical things that I documented.

I painted this for my aunt to give as a gift.

I also added some festive frills to the front door.

I spray painted a different project...
one that allowed me to use a drill gun.

AND look who is here! It's Lauran Hellen.
She is like strawberry ice cream on a Blythe, summer day.
God is good! I am so thankful to be made in His image. I am thankful that we are free to delight in creation and that in that delight we can worship our Creator. Tonight as I was walking in, I looked up and the sky was so clear. The recent rain fall has allowed some of the smog to settle and the stars twinkled ever so beautifully. Day after day they pour forth speech, there is no language where their voice is not heard. Yes, the heavens and all creation declare that God is glorious! He is awesome in splendor and full of power and might!

fyi- a whimsy is one who is playfully quaint
fyii- quaint is being attractively unusual or old fashioned

Good night! Lauran sends her love too!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

my favorite Christmas Carol

Today is my mom's birthday and as she was born so close to Christmas, my grandpa wanted to name her Carol, which means, "song of great joy." On her birthday, and other days too, I thank God for how much joy my mom has brought into my life!

I think that one of the greatest ways my mother has brought me joy is by teaching me so many things about life and walking with Jesus. Whether she was aware of it or not, I have been watching her since I was a little girl and have gleaned many things.

Here are a few of the things that I have learned from my mother, and will probably never stop learning about:
-How to be real- My mom is maybe one of the most real people I have ever met. She knows who she is in Christ. When I first heard about people putting on masks and hiding their emotions, I couldn't even understand it because it seemed so foreign to me. My mom and dad have been so intentional in sharing their lives with us and making our family an environment of grace so that we feel safe to be who we are, and free to give and receive love and truth.
-How to be hospitable- For the last six-ish years I have really enjoyed bringing different friends home to Blythe. My parents always give them a warm reception. One of my favorite memories is my mom meeting one of my friends for the first time and giving her such a warm hug, exclaiming, "I'm so glad to meet you!" I think part of my mom's hospitality is significantly enhanced by her realness, but ultimately she makes people feel like they are important. She will sit and listen, or share her story. She is not afraid to give advice, but doesn't bury you with it either.
-How to bake- A lot of my new friends ask me, "why did you start baking?" and my response is something like, "Well, my mom always liked to bake and she taught me how." I remember helping my mom in the kitchen as a little kid. She didn't care if the cookies weren't perfectly shaped or if we made a bit of a mess, she cared about spending time with us kiddos.
-How to sacrifice- My mom has made a lot of sacrifices over the years and I will probably understand this more in the years to come when I have kids, but it is pretty humbling to be the recipient of so many acts of love and service.
-How to trust- I feel like my mom trusts God in a way that I often don't understand. My mom often is so steady and anchored; I can't explain it, but I see it. She doesn't go on rambling about what could be or isn't, but she is where God has her and she is who God has made her to be. She knows the Word and walks by faith.
-How to laugh, cry and have fun- My mom has a great laugh and is a tender-hearted beauty. She is fun to be around. I genuinely enjoy her company!

At Thanksgiving...
Yes, my mom put whipped cream on my nose.
No, I don't know why.
Lord, thank you for my mom. I thank You for Your goodness and sovereignty in her life and the way that it has trickled down into mine. Lord, I pray that You would strengthen my mom this day. Lord, would You refresh and encourage her heart as only You can. I pray that You would continue to grow her and give her vision for her life. Yes, strengthen and encourage my parents as they labor for Your kingdom in Blythe. Thank You for the ways that they compliment each other. Lord, I am thankful to have had a front row seat to watch and learn from my mom, help us to grow in our Christ likeness. Thank You for her humility, joy and peace. Lord, would You continue to bless her to be a blessing, especially in her time with You? You are good Lord, and Your love endures!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Joy to the World

We sang "Joy to the World" in worship yesterday and my heart felt so triumphant. For Christ came in the flesh that we may set Him apart in our hearts as Lord, and that we might know complete peace. He came and He is coming again! That's what Isaac Watts had in mind when he penned the words to our beloved Christmas song, Christ's second coming. Man, I was so stinking excited at the thought that it could be today, it could be today that I see my Savior face to face and bow before Him with no words, but with a bursting heart of gratitude!

Joy to the world! the Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.
Joy to the world! the Saviour reigns;
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy.
No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.
He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Lord, thank You for coming as a babe, for walking so humbly and perfectly. Thank You for taking the wrath that was due me on the cross and for conquering sin and death. O Lord, there was silence for Israel for 400 hundred years until Your cries as a little baby pierced the quiet. The star shown in the sky, the angels burst forth into song. You proclaimed good tidings of great joy which should be for all people, for unto us was born that day, in the city of David, our Savior, Christ the LORD! 

Lord, even now we, Your bride, wait for You. Lord, sometimes it seems that there is silence, but You have spoken and Your Word is true. Lord, may You grow us with a desire and an expectancy to see You come again, to have You reign as King in the new heaven and earth! Lord, as we wait may our hearts be stirred to share Your grace and truth with those about us who do not know You as their Lord. God may the certainty of Your return encourage our hearts to live in light of the gospel and as ministers of reconciliation. Lord, that one day we will no longer know the curse, but only Your blessing, is awesome to me. Rule in my heart this day and always, my gracious Lord and King. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

basic math

1 x 2 = 2
2 x 2 = 4
4 x 2 = 8
8 x 2 = 16
16 x 2 = 32
32 x 2 = 64
64 x 2 = 128
128 x 2 = 256
256 x 2 = 512
512 x 2 = 1,024

"Be fruitful and multiply," the spoken blessing from the Holy Creator to the ones made in His image. 

"Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”" -Matthew 28:18-20

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." -John 15:5

"Ah, Sovereign Lord, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your out stretched arm and great power. Nothing is too hard for You." -Jeremiah 32:17
Lord, I could not escape Your blessing if I tried. For I am a daughter of the promise and of the new covenant. How deep, how rich, how wide, how high is the love of God apportioned to us in Christ?! My mind cannot grasp it; my heart cannot contain it. What joy I have in knowing Your grace. All that Your holiness demands, You have supplied. Where a positive demerit was due, You have given unmerited favor. Oh Lord, that I may dwell in Your temple and gaze upon Your beauty, that I stand before You blameless, without blemish is grace indeed! Oh for grace to trust You more, Father! 

Saturday, December 3, 2011


Lord, I remember my weariness, the ache of my tired muscles. I felt as though I could not go on. The journey seemed too great and the weight on my back was all I could feel; it was so heavy. But You were with me. You encouraged my heart with Your Word and I kept moving.  "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." I told myself only 20 more steps, you can do anything for 20 steps for the Lord is Your help. So I counted, "1, 2, 3,........20. I can do 20 more steps. 1, 2, 3,.....20." I continued up the mountain and eventually there were no more steps to count. I found that sweet rest was waiting for me.

You are my help in all things, O Lord. You are my Sustainer, the one Who carries me. I trust You for You are good. Your grace is enough.

enough to die

[This is somewhat disjointed. You have my apologies, but the blog is called "thinking out loud."]

At the end of the book of Jonah, Jonah is being a big baby and is angry with God. He doesn't come right out and say why he is so angry with God in his heart, but he complains to God about a vine that had once given him shade, but has now wilted and died. Jonah tells God that he is angry enough to die over the plant. One of the leaders of Navs said that he saw God's heart in this. And that perhaps, when Jonah said these words aloud, he too realized God's heart. God felt this way about the people of Nineveh; He wanted them to repent and turn to Him.  He desires the same for us. God was so angry about our sin and the brokenness of the world that He sent His Son to die in our place. He was angry enough to die.

For the last few weeks the fifth graders have been reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. It has been wonderful! Earlier in the week we read about Edmund's rescue and the White Witch coming to talk to Aslan because according to the deep magic a traitor's life belonged to her. The children soon realized that Aslan would give his life in Edmund's place. In my afternoon reading group Thursday, I was reading aloud about how hopeless Lucy and Susan were looking at the dead Aslan on the stone table. A page or so later, the girls hear a great noise. They turn to see the stone table broken and Aslan in all his glory before them, alive! How my eyes welled with tears, I had to pass the reading to a student.

Romans 5:6-8 says: "You see, at just the right time, while were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will a rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while were still sinners, Christ died for us."  These verses have been bouncing around in my head for the last few months. This week it seems like God is bringing me to a deeper understanding of it in my own life. I am surrounded by so many people that I would love to see come to know Jesus in a real way. I would gladly give my life for them to know Him. God is asking me to do just that, in the moment by moment dying to self where faith is expressed. As I wrestle with this, I have been praying about what this means for next year. Does this mean continuing in a career I don't know if I want, so I can continue to be with these lovely people? 

My heart comes back to the great commission. Go and make disciples, teach them in the power of my Spirit! Bear fruit! I think with excitement about how many apples could be in one seed. We have an awesome God, a God of such loyal love and endless faithfulness. He loved us enough to humble himself and put on flesh, to take the very nature of a servant, and to die, a death in my place and yours, on the cross. His death brought life, for the grave could not keep Him and He rose victorious!

Lord, thank You for Your perfect ways. They are higher and greater than mine. Continue to teach me, O Lord, what it means to die to self and to live for You. I pray that I would bear fruit in season and that my life would bring You glory. Lord, You are the giver of all life. Would You bring new life to my friends? Lord, that we would praise You among the nations. How great is Your love! Thank You for loving us enough to die.

longing for the better country

Sometimes I have a day that is not so good. It is hard for me to admit, but for a bunch of little reasons today was not a day I would want to repeat anytime soon. Yet, in the midst of it I see blessing upon blessing, grace upon grace from my Father's hand. I don't know if you have ever moved, switched careers (from one that is your heart to one that is fine), and have to start over with nearly everything, but I am currently in the midst of that and at times it is challenging. Changes call for trust and growing pains are just that, growing pains. I have almost been in Arizona for five months and God has done, and is doing, so much. How I must ask for the Spirit to birth in my heart patience as I wait and walk in faith.

The thing that I am constantly thanking God for in the midst of this transition is my family. Specifically, my beloved aunt and her family. They have been so gracious, generous, loving, thoughtful and they give really good hugs. One example of their extravagant love was on my birthday. I was sick so my aunt made delicious soup and my uncle made me an awesome birthday cake. He is an engineer so it was three giant layers of funfetti. We then played a silly game called "Headbands" and laughed til we cried. My uncle not only makes awesome cakes, but he serves so humbly. From helping me move to putting up curtains, and telling me silly jokes, he is such a servant.

I have also been thankful for Luke and that we get to live together. I am so blessed to have brothers that are sweet friends. Luke has a soft and tender heart, he is so caring and I am thankful that we can pray together. Not only that, but we have fun! 

The baby bro and my sweet cousins!
Even at the end of a not so wonderful day, blessings abound and with a hopeful heart we can be assured that we are one day closer to glory! Hallelujah! 

Lord, thank You that we don't walk alone and for the saints who have gone before us. In all these things woo me heavenward to You.

Hebrews 11:8-16:
   "By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.  By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
    By faith Abraham, even though he was past age—and Sarah herself was barren—was enabled to become a father because he considered Him faithful who had made the promise.  And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.
    All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.  People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them."

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

insanely ridiculous

Look at what a student left on my desk for me! 
They are LED Christmas lights that plug into the USB port on my laptop. 
They are insanely ridiculous, and oh, so, fun!
They change colors too, but in a nice, subtle way.

It is crazy that tomorrow is December 1!
I was sick, really sick, for the first 3 weeks of November and half sick for the fourth week,
but at least I will have a stronger immune system for whatever God has ahead after this year. 
I will be praying for a healthy December all the same.

Coincidentally, today I taught the Latin root, "sanus," which means healthy, not diseased or injured.
 The English words sane, insanity, sanitation, etc. are derived from it. Nifty!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Fatherly love

I talked briefly with my dad today, while I was walking the shampoo isle at Target. He was telling me how I was his favorite daughter and I joked that it really takes a lot of work being his only daughter. His tone changed a bit, and then he told me that he had been thinking about the roughest patch we had in our father-daughter relationship when I was a young teen. He said, "It took me so long to realize that you wanted me to be your dad before your pastor."  It is true; I wanted to know that my father was for me.

My father is one of my favorite people. He is far from perfect, but a man of humility and faith. He means so much to me for so many reasons. Over the years he has guided me so faithfully to grow in my understanding of my heavenly Father. I remember those early teen years were the absolute suckiest, ever! I was trying to find my identity in the things of this world, and needless to say I found myself to be a failure in every way. I insulted myself with such certainty. I'm sure the words I spoke broke my parents' hearts. Yet, they were so patient with me, especially my dad. He just kept on preaching the gospel to me. He reminded me of all that Christ did on the cross to secure me as His child. He told me blunt Truth out of such sincere conviction, love and sternness, repeating it to my seemingly deaf ears for weeks. One day my heart was pierced. "Alissa, every time you say those things about yourself, you're slapping Jesus in the face and telling Him that what He did on the cross for you doesn't really matter to you." In that moment, the lies I had held so tightly to were called sin and were no longer a place of solace. There was no other choice, but to run to my Father and to walk in the Truth of His Word, knowing that I was without condemnation, a new creation, and a child of God, free before Him in Christ!

How sweet it is to know that the God of all things is pleased with us and has such deep love for His creation that He was willing to send His Son to live a perfect life, die a sinless death, and victoriously conquer the grave to bring us to Him, redeemed!

Abba, Father, how great is the love You have lavished upon us that we should be called the children of God, and that is what we are! Lord, what a sweet thing it is to know that we are Yours. You are for us, with us. Who can be against us? You have what is best in mind and You are able to secure it. Father, all You do is good and nothing is too hard for You. I am so thankful to know You. My heart cannot contain my thankfulness and yet, my lips could never praise You enough! O Lord, may I love others freely and fearlessly knowing how set Your love is for me? Lord, grow us for Your glory. Ground us in the love of Christ, cause our roots to grow deep that we may bear fruit in season. May Your love continue to go out from us. There are so many people aching for Your love. Open their eyes to see You, let their deaf ears hear and let their minds understand the love You have for them in Christ!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

while the pies are baking

"Count your many blessings, Name them one by one.
Count your many blessings, See what God has done!"

What a simple and beautiful chorus for the grateful heart! (I just noticed I had a typo in the chorus. I had typed "Count your man blessings..." lol! I'm sleepy so that is really funny.)

On this Thanksgiving day, and every day, it is good to take time to thank God for what He has given us. As I was baking, I was struck by the abundance of blessing that I have in the people in my life. There are so many faithful, wise, and fun saints in my life. In the last few months it has been amazing to think back on how the Lord has led me all this way, often using different people to challenge and encourage me. There are so many nuggets of wisdom that have been passed down to me over the years. One of these nuggets is something that Don Allen (LB Nav staff director) often says, "There are three things that will last forever: God, His Word and the souls of men. I don't know about you, but I want to live my life in light of the eternal." Oh how I desperately want to live my life for eternity and for His glory!

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 

I keep letting the Spirit smack me in the face with this chunk. How prone I am to discouragement when life is hard, but my life is but a blip on the radar. God is working for His glory and how sweetly He invites me, and you, into His story for His glory!

Lord, thank You for the abundance of blessings that we have in knowing You as our Lord, Savior, Maker, Redeemer, Shepherd and Friend. I can't imagine what my life would be like without You. I thank You that You are at work in my life, in seen and unseen ways. Thank You for making me Your child. Lord, grow my understanding of who You are, continue this work that You have begun, that Your truth and love may reach those who don't know You. Grow us as we walk in faith. Thank You, thank You, thank You for Jesus' work on the cross, for His atoning sacrifice. Lord, that we are blessed in the heavenlies though we were by nature objects of wrath is a wonder to me. How gracious You are! Lord, I am a least one, but You love me still. Thank You for giving us so much significance. Thank You for good music and apple pies, too.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Apple Doughnut Holes

Have you ever had so many apples that you don't know what to do with them?!

All of my baking years, I have been spoiled with my mother's stocked kitchen and devices. One of the most fabulous tools she has is an apple corer/slinkier. It is amazing! It peels, cores, and evenly cuts through apples in no time at all. I currently do not have this wonder of a machine. So coming home from work to a boatload of apples, I needed a recipe that did not require peeled apples because I didn't feel like peeling them! I put the apples into my food processor and was left with 5 cups of apple slop. I wasn't sure what I was going to make with it. I was thinking of something completely different, but then thought it would be worthwhile to make some type of apple fritter. My creation was more of an apple doughnut hole, than a fritter. Here's the recipe. Luke made me write it down before I went to bed; he says it is the best thing I have ever made.

-5 cups of food processed apples
-1 cup of butter
-5 eggs
-3/4 cup whole wheat flour
-1 cup oat meal
-5 cups all-purpose flour
-1 1/2 cups brown sugar
-2 1/2 tablespoons of baking powder
-1 teaspoon salt
-1 tablespoon cinnamon
-1 teaspoon ground clove
-1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

-1 cup powdered sugar
-1/2 cup skim milk
-1 teaspoon vanilla

For cooking: 1-2 quarts of oil (I used vegetable, I know so little about frying food).

Combine softened butter and sugar, mix until smooth. Then add the processed apples and eggs. Add all of the dry ingredients and mix until blended. Prepare the glaze by adding the milk and powdered sugar. After stirring with a whisk, add in the vanilla and stir again. In a pot heat oil on medium heat. After a few minutes test a small piece of dough. The oil is ready when the dough immediately begins to sizzle once it hits the oil. Once your oil is ready, you can begin to drop a few dough balls into the oil. Let the fun begin! I used a cookie scoop for this. It helped to streamline the process. Let the doughnut holes cook until they are a deep golden brown and crispy. You want to make sure they are cooked all the way through. This took at least 3 minutes, but the time would vary depending on how hot your oil is. Take the fried doughnuts out of the oil with a slotted spoon and let them cool. Then toss them in the glaze. I sprinkled them with powdered sugar too. This made at least 70 doughnut holes.

Here's the finished product!

This is what the plate looked like when I picked it up from the teacher's lounge.
Somebody must have really loved them to turn my label into a heart.

These were good, but I also made the BIGGEST mess I have ever made in the process. On my very last batch of doughnuts, the oil boiled over and went everywhere! Last night I learned how to disassemble, clean and reassemble an electric stove top. It was fascinating!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

summer breeze

I am home sick today and as the good Lord would have it my parents are here visiting (and really for Dr.'s appointments). So I have had the wonderful blessing of my mother's care today, which makes being sick so much more bearable. I'm still in bed, but I want to share with you one of my all time favorite songs. It was penned by one of my favorite people, Miss Rachel Wade, whom I affectionately call "Wheezy Wade" on occasion because she has laugh induced asthma. I hope you enjoy it. I would hope that you enjoy it as much as I do, but that's probably not possible!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Jars of Clay - Gather and Build: A Collection

Free music?

Yes, please!

If you have ever liked Jars of Clay, or  old folk songs, check it out! The first song on the album is "This Land Is Your Land," which makes me simultaneously think of Peter, Paul and Mary and fourth grade choir.

Monday, October 24, 2011

shake your tail feathers

Painting pottery with a friend after work is a great way to enjoy a Monday. 
Here is one of last Monday's creations. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

worthy of every hallelujah

As I drove east to school today, the sun was shining so brightly, calling the world to awake. I was reminded of Isaiah 60:1-3, which says:

"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."

These words of promise inspire my heart to pray for great things, things I cannot grasp in detail, but merely reach after.

And tonight as I came home to my apartment, the hallelujahs of this hymn began to fill the quiet.

Revive Us Again
William P. Mackay, 19th cent.
John J. Husband, 1760-1825

We praise Thee, O God, for the Son of Thy love,
For Jesus who died and is now gone above!
Hallelujah! Thine the glory, Hallelujah! Amen.
Hallelujah! Thine the glory; revive us again.

We praise Thee, O God, for Thy Spirit of light
Who has shown us our Savior and scattered our night!
Hallelujah! Thine the glory, Hallelujah! Amen.
Hallelujah! Thine the glory; revive us again.

All glory and praise to the Lamb that was slain,
Who has borne all our sins and hath cleansed ev'ry stain,
Hallelujah! Thine the glory, Hallelujah! Amen.
Hallelujah! Thine the glory; revive us again.

Revive us again; fill each heart with Thy love;
May each soul be rekindled with fire from above.
Hallelujah! Thine the glory, Hallelujah! Amen.
Hallelujah! Thine the glory; revive us again.

I love this hymn, which I say of many; however, it's especially true of this one, so much so that I can't commit to any one verse as a favorite. How sweet the gospel is and how desperate our need for the Spirit's refreshment in our lives each day. How desperate we are for the Lord to rise upon us, for His glory, and His alone, to appear over us! For His light to scatter our night!

Lord, You are good. Oh how blessed we are as the sons and daughters of light! We thank You, Father, for You have qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints of the kingdom of light. You have rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son You love, in Whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. I look to You, Almighty King, to work in the ways I cannot. Call to life the dead. I wait with expectancy.

"Hallelujah! Thine the glory, Hallelujah! Amen. Hallelujah! Thine the glory; revive us again."

Friday, October 7, 2011

Pawn: the weakest and most numerous piece in the game

At the school where I work, we teach chess as part of our curriculum beginning in the third grade. Did you know that life is like chess? And that a teacher's aide is a pawn? We can be moved at a whim, out of necessity and quite deliberately. I am being moved to the fifth grade at the start of next quarter. While I am not exactly happy about this change, I am praying that it would be for the sake of the gospel. Would you join me in this prayer?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Josiah - 2 Kings

Yesterday afternoon I finished reading 2 Kings and the story of Josiah really hit home.

As I read it, my heart was stirred to pray that I would respond like Josiah to God's Word and the conviction of His Spirit. I also was struck by our present and great need for leaders like Josiah. Men and women of faith, who would not brush off the commands of the Lord, but would wholeheartedly respond to them. Allowing the Spirit to reveal to them their own depravity, grieving deeply their own sin, not out of self imposed guilt, but awe of the Holy One and His ways.

2 Kings 22:11,19-20 "When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes." 
"Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people, that they would become accursed and laid waste, and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you, declares the Lord. Therefore I will gather you to your fathers, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see the disaster I am going to bring on this place."

Josiah led the people of Judah to repentance. He gathered them together and read the Book of the Covenant to them, renewing the covenant in God's presence before them. Following this, he ordered all of the idols and priests to the idols to be done away with in the kingdom. He went so far as grinding the already burned Asherah pole into powder and scattering it over the graves. After he had removed the physical idolatry, he called for a celebration of the Passover. What a wondrous thing it is to celebrate the Living God and the abundance of His provision in all things, and how necessary it is for us to call others to do the same!

2 Kings 23:25 "Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did--with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses."


Josiah was eight years old when he became king. Recently I have had a bit of a refresher course on what it is like to be an eight year old. I joyfully can tell you that there are some eight-year-olds, a precious few, who grasp the truths of Scripture and seek to apply them in their lives. Literally turning the other cheek, loving the unlovable, forgiving seventy times seven, and  sharing their faith with others. What a blessing this is to my heart. I pray for these sweet ones that they may be like Josiah, men and women of bold faith and humble hearts all their days for His glory and renown.

Friday, September 30, 2011

vanilla fields

I always remember my grandmother wearing the scent "Vanilla Fields." Tonight as I put some vanilla scented lotion on, I instantly thought of my beautiful, gracious and loving grandmother. I miss her, but what a blessing she was to me and what a blessing are my memories of her. I am so thankful for the influence she had in my life; it is probably greater than I can tell. 

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate." -Proverbs 31:30-31

Sunday, September 18, 2011

third graders, you gotta love 'em!

After learning about the United States and their regions, one of the boys asked me, "Miss Williams, what state are you from?" "California," I replied and he looked disappointed, "Where did you think I was from?" He looked up and with wonder in his eyes said, "Oh, I don't know, some place like Virginia!" 

I was on my lunch duty and one of the girls in my class raised her hand. I walked over to her and asked her what she needed. Her face changed and I could tell she was confused about something. In exasperation she exclaimed, "Miss Williams, why aren't you married?!"

As I walked to the front row to calm down some of the students, one of them said to his classmate, "Oh no, here's the police."

Saturday, September 17, 2011

very much unfinished

A long while ago I was watching Pride and Prejudice and this poem popped into my head.

I have read the stories told by ladies of old,
And how they were chased about by their beaus.
Each story had its own turnabout,
In time true love expelled all doubt.

I fancy myself the heroine,
I wonder if you'll take part.
I have been waiting here so long,
It is time that you won my heart.

I'm so glad, now, that I didn't know at the start,
All you would be to me.
I don't know if I'd have believed it,
Could Elizabeth of Mr. Darcy?

So I wait for time to tell what it will,
And I think that in no time at all.
We will see what parts to take,
Our heads and our hearts will know.

Yes, I fancy myself the heroine,
and wonder if you'll take a part.
I have been waiting here for so long,
Waiting for you to win my heart.
"Write a new blog!" the woman cried,
But what to write, I can't deny.
No quote or poem or picture could suffice,
the third graders have all given me lice.
Alas, alack such stories to tell,
Of men and mice, and boats that sail.

I like it and I don't really have lice. Thank the good Lord!  And thank you Starbucks for keeping my eyes open so long.  Yahtzee!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

a thought on scones

If you're going to bake scones, do so at night and eat in them in the morning. They always taste better in the morning.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Psalm 34:1&2

"I will
extol the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips."

Lord, I choose to extol You at all times, in each circumstance. I will give You highest praise for You are God, and I am not. In all You have revealed Yourself to be I humble my heart to give You praise, kneeling in the security of Your holy sovereignty. 

"His praise will always be on my lips."

 O Lord, make it so. May the first inclination of my mouth be to speak Your praise. May it spill forth from my heart and mind, my soul. You, O Lord, are worthy of all praise. You give us every breath and sustain all things. I thank You for calling me Your child, for loving me with an everlasting love, and putting eternity in my heart.

"My soul will boast in the Lord;"

Everything alive within me will shine forth Your light, O Lord. I will speak of Your wonders, I will glory in them. May I always bring You laud from a thankful heart, for You have canceled my debts and established me in Your kingdom.

"let the afflicted hear and rejoice."

May the afflicted hear my praise, and turn their hearts to Your joy. May their oppression diminish in the brightness of Your greatness and eternal plans. Even in affliction, may my praise, spur on a deeper adoration for You as I know You more.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday, August 8, 2011

always faithful

God never stops being faithful. But how often do my concerns and worries, show I am afraid His faithfulness will soon stop, as though it were a good that the storehouses of heaven could run out of, as though this integral part of God’s character could be no more? I confess that it is too often that my faith falters, my heart grows weary and my eyes lose sight of His eternal purposes. About a month ago while I was reading 1 Samuel 17, I was struck by David's faith. I loved the way that he showed his faith facing Goliath when no one else would! The Lord used this to encourage my heart and I have continued to go back to the passage in the midst of all the changes in life. I have become fonder of the familiar story of David facing Goliath and pray that I will have faith like David.

26b: "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?"
David was not impressed by the size of his foe, but was disgusted with his defiance toward God.

32: David said to Saul, "Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him."

David was not numbered with the faint of heart. He was confident in the Lord, and allowed that confidence to control his actions.

34-37a: But David said to Saul, "Your servant has been keeping his father's sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine."

David recalled the Lord’s past faithfulness and deliverance. While the situations were different, David moved  to face the giant knowing that the outcome would be the same, the Lord would deliver him.

39b-40: “I can’t go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in hand, approached the Philistine.

In the two preceding verses, David tries on Saul’s clothing and armor, but David knew they wouldn’t do. They weren’t suited for him. So David went as he was; he stepped out confidently in the Lord and in the skills he had developed as a shepherd. He didn’t approach Goliath in the king’s, warrior armor, but as himself.

45-47: David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defiled. This day the Lord will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and He will give all of you into our hands.”

David explains the gravity of the offense of Goliath and the Philistine army; it is before God Himself, not just His people. He boldly declares what the outcome of their battle will be. David knows that there is great purpose in what He is doing. It is for God’s glory and that His existence be known through the whole world. David’s bold humility is striking. He moves courageously, knowing that the battle is God’s alone.

48: As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him.

I love the last half of this verse, “David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him.” David does not shy away from the battle or enter it only in reluctance, or by force. Rather, in faith and full confidence of His Defender, he runs quickly toward the battle.           

The story continues: with a stone Goliath falls to the ground, David is triumphant, the Israelites pursue the Philistines and the Lord gives them the victory. This was just the beginning for David and the Lord had awesome and eternal plans for his life!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

"Grace, grace, God's grace, grace that is greater than all our sin."

You know, I was folding towels a few minutes ago. Aw, the bliss of that fresh laundry smell and the humid warmth of the thick terry cloth fresh from the dryer. And then to fold them the way that they are supposed to be folded, the way that my mother taught me. I thoroughly enjoy folding laundry. My favorites are towels and sheets, I am especially partial to fitted sheets. Something about getting them in a neat rectangle makes me feel so accomplished, probably because I couldn't do it when I was twelve.

Yet as I was folding the blessed laundry, I was upset about this last week. I was particularly frustrated with myself. I have had to make a gazillion apologies and requests for forgiveness in the last week and come morning I will be making another one. Not only was I frustrated with my relational shortcomings, but also with my lack of faith. Why do I even ask God 'why?' God does not deserve a why from me. He deserves childlike obedience and faith, I should joyfully let Him lead me and be the Spirit filled person I am. As I thought about these things, as I prayed, and as I picked up the towels, I looked up and saw one of my dad's recent VBS props. It was a fishing pole with a big construction paper heart on it, with the text "God is fishing for your heart." Yes, in all these things, my selfishness, discouragement, frustration-my sin, God is fishing for my heart. He wants it all and there, so often tangible, is my blaring and ever present need for my Savior.

Lord, how often I see myself in Israel. You over and over again show Yourself faithful, yet I fail to follow You in faith. O You are Lord, and I am Your servant. Lord, I ask for faith to trust You more, may I love You more in light of Your great mercy. Lord, may I serve You with a whole heart and walk in Your ways. Thank You for circumcising my heart, for canceling the written code that was against me and that stood opposed to me. I praise You for nailing it to the cross and disarming the powers of this world. O Lord, how faithful and just You are! I seek You, continue this work You have begun. I seek You, I seek Your holiness. Thank You for Your great love for though I am but a least one, You love me still. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Double Chocolate Chip Mint Cookies...Shampoo

My shampoo smells so good that it makes me hungry and I am not even that big of mint chip fan! My mom got me a bottle of this shampoo for Christmas and I am still shocked by the delicious smell every time I use it. Grant it, I only use when I am at my parent's house, but still!

It is made by Philosophy and there are lots of other scents...coconut frosting, strawberry daiquiri and amazing grace...didn't know that last one had a smell. In my opinion, it is also a bit too pricey for something I am going to wash down the drain. But I will enjoy it while it lasts!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Then will all your people be righteous
   and they will possess the land forever.
They are the shoot I have planted,
   the work of my hands,
   for the display of my splendor.
The least of you will become a thousand,
   the smallest a mighty nation.
I am the LORD;
   in its time I will do this swiftly.”

                                                    -Isaiah 60:21-22

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Cream Cheese Frosting

I will get to the frosting, but first I would like to share with you some of the theatrics from the kitchen today.

Me: "Prepare to meet your doom."
Bunny: "Oh no, not the cheese grater!"
Me: "Yes, the cheese grater!! Bahaha."
Bunny: "No, not my ears! My beautiful ears!"

Wasn't that nice? I wanted some chocolate shavings to top the cupcakes that were frosted with the cream cheese frosting. Practically speaking, a chocolate bunny is much easier to grate than a chocolate bar because of its thickness. On with the recipe...

Cream Cheese Frosting:

2 (8 oz.) blocks of cream cheese
1 cup of butter
8 cups of sifted powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 teaspoons of sifted cocoa powder (optional)

Cream together softened cream cheese and butter. Add sifter powder sugar and cocoa powder, mix on low speed until creamed together. Finally add the vanilla, mix on high speed until smooth.


Friday, May 20, 2011

So good, so good, I got You...

I have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
I have joy-great, deep and real joy- in His presence.
I taste, see and know His goodness in the land of the living for He is my refuge.
I eagerly await Him.

Friday, April 8, 2011

fingerprinted today

My interview went really well. I was offered a position and accepted it before leaving. Thank you so much for your prayers, just wanted to update ya. God is so faithful, and I am so thankful and excited for the opportunities ahead. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

broken and grateful

My dear friend, Lauran, and I have had a long distant friendship for the last six years. Suffice it to say we have done a fair amount of communication via telephone. In our commitment to pray for each other and know where the other one is at in life, we began using Sara Groves' song titles and lyrics to quickly summate how we were doing. I recently told Lo, that the song “What I Thought I Wanted” best describes the majority of the sentiments of my heart lately, at least the ones that need prayer. The main idea in the song is that God is sovereign, and that in hopes and expectations that are unfulfilled or met differently, we are left broken and grateful.

In the last few months I have told people at different times, “we’re always broken, but sometimes we feel it more.” On March 1 my decision to The Navigators about continuing on staff next year was due. It was a hard decision to make, but I believe that the Lord is guiding me to leave staff and to trust Him with the unknowns ahead. There are several reasons that made my decision challenging. One of the most challenging factors to work through was the fact that I had not done the best job in pacing myself during my time on EDGE Corps. Over winter break I found myself the most exhausted I had ever been. I had been burning the candle at both ends. When I look back though, I also feel like I have said yes to the things that God wanted me to, and that my double portion of training was really more than I could deal with. However, it was hard to work through this because this is not a reason to quit doing something, but it was also the thing that I was feeling the most strongly at the time. If the Lord was calling me to stay on staff than lack of sleep is a sacrifice I would make by His strength and grace.

The thing is though, God isn’t calling me to stay on staff with Navs next year. It is hard to say that because I am not 100% sure what God is calling me to, but I am not going to stay on staff just because it would be easy, or even because it fits in with the plans I have had for my life (the plan for vocational ministry). As I prayed and processed this decision, some of the most helpful counsel I received was focused on the principles of calling from the Bible. It was from Mark Stebbins, the Western Collegiate Director for The Navigators, and he shared with me three I’s of calling. The first I is that God interrupts people, their lives and plans. Secondly, God gives them insight, either about who He is, who they are or others. Lastly, God gives instructions about the calling.

My plans have definitely been interrupted and God has given me insight about who I am. I am waiting on the instructions and specifics.

In the meantime, God has opened a door for me to interview at a charter school in Chandler, Arizona. I am especially excited about this opportunity for about 20 different reasons. My interview is tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. I would appreciate your prayers, mostly because I hate the idea of selling myself. Would you pray that I would honor the Lord during this time?

Would you also keep me in your prayers as I continue on staff with The Navigators through June? Please pray that I would make the most of the time that I have left in Long Beach, and that I would be faithful with the people and opportunities the Lord has given me. Pray also for my heart, it is HARD to leave Long Beach and my Nav family there. God has taught me so much during my six years here and The Navigators have been a huge blessing to me. I am so thankful for the ways that the Lord has used them to grow my relationship with Him and equip me to minister to others.

“What I thought I wanted, and what I got instead, leaves me broken and somehow grateful.”

Thursday, March 24, 2011

If only more states were named after presidents...

While in Washington to meet my nephew three weeks ago, I noticed that the in state freeway signs are in a silhouette of Washington's head...President Washington's head! Oh my.

Here is a picture from my phone.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

a few, beautiful things

Saguaro cacti and the desert while the sun is setting.

Sara, in all her pregnant glory.

People praying, sending your big brother for ministry.

Plane tickets to see people you love.

Students passionate about reaching the lost with their lives.

Snowcapped mountains.


Friends at Starbucks.