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."