Write It On A Rock

Faith and Family
June 30th, 2012 by Sarah

Flourless Chocolate Cake and Pear/Cranberry Poppy-seed Salad


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This week we had my mother-in-law over for her birthday dinner.  She is such a special person.  We appreciate her so much, and always love to honor her.

We made salmon and chicken, grilled vegetables (which didn’t turn out the best), pear/apple poppy-seed salad, watermelon and this flourless chocolate cake for her dinner.

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If you are a chocolate fanatic like my mother in law, you will love this cake.  It has a rich dark chocolate flavor.  AND it only has FIVE ingredients not including the water :).  I like that.  We put raspberries around the cake with a strawberry in the center, and then served it with whipped cream.

My mother-in-law asked for the recipe of both the cake and salad, so I thought I would share it on here as well.  Here is the salad recipe.  This recipe was given to me by someone who brought us this salad after Jasper was born, and it is a nice refreshing salad for summer. Cashews are my new favorite on salad.  This has been all I want to eat on hot days this week.

Pear/Cranberry poppy-seed Salad

Dressing:

  1. 1/2 c. Sugar
  2. 1/2 t. Salt
  3. 1 T. Poppy-seed
  4. 1/3 c. Lemon juice
  5. 2/3 c. Canola oil
  6. 1 t. Dijon mustard

Store dressing in the refrigerator.  The dressing lasts me quite a few salads, so you can cut in half if you only want a little.

Salad:

Your favorite greens (romaine, or spring mix), one pear sliced, one apple sliced, craisins (dried cranberries), cashews, and parmesan cheese.

Drizzle with a bit of dressing and toss.

This recipe is versatile, if you don’t like pears, just use apples.  Fuji apples are great in this salad, but use what you like.

Hope you are keeping cool on this hot weekend!

June 26th, 2012 by Sarah

My First Love


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Sorry that it’s been so long since I posted on here, and thank you for putting up with me learning about this blog thing.  I am technologically illiterate and all the while a bit of a perfectionist.   I know, I need to get over that if I am going to post what I write.

I mentioned in my last post that Jason and I were able to get away for our anniversary.  It was a beautiful and refreshing getaway.  Jason and I have not had a two night getaway without the kids since Micah was born seven years ago!

And… we still were not totally without kids this time.  Jasper came, while our other three were with Grandma and Grandpa.  Jasper is a peaceful baby though and one child is much more peaceful than four, so for us it was still a nice getaway.    We did not get one picture of Jason and I.  It’s always one of us and then Jasper ;).

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We went to a lodge on a tiny island in Wisconsin called Stout Island Lodge.  The lodge was built in the early 1900’s so it was full of character.  The lake surrounded the lodge, as well as beautiful gardens, lawns and trees.  We enjoyed peaceful dinners, and hikes around the island.

 

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Jason gave me the most thoughtful gift he’s ever given me.  My love languages are words of encouragement and quality time.  I also love tea.  He doesn’t.  So, he gave me the gift of one night a week after the kids go to bed having tea with me to specifically encourage me and give me that quality time with him that I love.  This is on top of our weekly date night, so he is a pretty super husband.  When basketball season comes around he may be wanting to rethink this gift :).

I was reading Revelations the other day.  In the second chapter Jesus writes to one of the churches and praises them for their morals, their hard work, and their ability to recognize false teaching.  But then He says this to them, “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.” Revelations 2:4.

In other words, similar to how marriages can often go through the motions, Jesus is saying, you do lots of good things, but have forgotten to love me like you did at first.  I can relate to that because sometimes I go through the motions.  I have set into place habits of reading my Bible, prayer and church, which are all good things, but sometimes I am doing it because I know it’s a good discipline, rather than really wanting to get to know God and have Him speak to me.  My mind can be elsewhere.  Can you relate?

What does this have to do with our getaway?   When Jason and I got home things were different.  We looked at each other longer, felt closer, gave each other more affection, and had more grace with each other.

I can honestly say that there are times where I still feel butterflies when Jason holds my hands, and it is usually a result of some acts of intentionality, forgiveness, encouragement, and time spent with each other.  I know it’s not realistic to have that in love “feeling” constantly in a marriage, but we also need to be intentional about doing things we did when we first loved each other, and our love grows even deeper.

I think it’s the same with God.  Do you remember when you first learned of Jesus’ love for you, that He died on the cross to pay for your sin?  Do remember when you believed that God heard your prayers, or when you opened up your Bible and read with anticipation that He would speak to you through it?

I am guilty of getting busy and not entering in with my relationship with God.  When I notice myself lacking in zeal, I usually repent of that and thank God that He’s waiting for me, willing to forgive.  Then I spend that time seeking Him through prayer and His Word.

I am so thankful for the unfailing, never giving up love that Jesus has for me, as well as the commitment that Jason and I have for each other.

Do you have any tips on how you keep up your love life with your spouse or God?

 

 

 

 

June 7th, 2012 by Sarah

Celebrating Milestones


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Today is our 10 year wedding anniversary, Jasper turned 4 months old, and Micah graduated from Kindergarten.  What a day!  Jason and I already celebrated our 10-year last weekend, which was amazing.  More on that later.
Even though everyday represents some sort of change I think it’s good to celebrate the markers in our lives, small or large.
We made a big deal of Micah’s graduation today.  At dinner Jason listed off some of the ways that Micah has grown since he started school this last September.
Micah has learned to write, read, and count numbers on and on and on. He has lost four teeth, made many new friends, learned to resolve conflict, stay in a straight line and obey teachers.
How seldom I take the time to reflect, and big days like today can help us do that.
Whether these milestones seem insignificant or big I am thankful.  Thankful for ten years of marriage, of being faithful to each other.  Ten years of learning to choose to work on our marriage, to work on loving each other through the good, bad and mundane.
Every time I take the time to write a card to Jason I am reminded of every reason I married him plus all of the wonderful things I didn’t know I was getting when I married him.
I don’t know about you but I too easily focus on stupid little roommate annoyances or chore battles, and forget that Jason is the most amazing husband I could ever ask for. Or that Micah is such a special, enthusiastic, and lovable little boy.
If I wrote more cards maybe I would tend to see truly how amazing the people are in my life.  Maybe I would have more patience with the little annoyances if I stopped to think about all the wonderful attributes each one of my loved one’s possesses.
The toys need to get cleaned up and the chore battles will happen, but I for one am thankful for excuses to write cards, remember and to celebrate.

 

May 25th, 2012 by Sarah

If I Could Go Back: Lessons for Marriage


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I wrote this for the EBC Marriage and Family Therapy Blog but wanted to share it here as well.

Jason and I will be celebrating our ten-year wedding anniversary in two weeks.  I am thankful that our love has become richer and deeper through all of the ups and downs of life.  We have grown and learned in ways I never expected.

Ten years ago I was an almost 22 year-old who had just graduated from college.  I looked forward to our marriage with excitement, a little reality, and a lot of expectations.

We did the premarital counseling and filled out the worksheet where we each stated our expectations, but lets get real, you don’t really know what you expect until you get there.

In my head we were going to clean the toilet together, grocery shop together, and pretty much everything else in between… together.  Jason, as you can imagine had some different expectations.

If I could go back and teach my 21-year-old self a lesson (and I know I still have many more to learn), this would be a biggie.  If I had learned this lesson earlier it could have kept us from many unnecessary conflicts and hurt feelings.

I am an advocate of books that teach us to fill each other’s love tanks because God has called us to love each other deeply.  BUT when rely too highly on our spouse to fulfill our needs and not enough on God we make our spouse an idol.

An idol is anything we put before God.  In Deuteronomy 5:7, one of the ten commandments, God says, “You must not have any other god but me.”  Marriage is a blessing created by God, and is a good thing. But idols can be just that, “Good things that we’ve put before God.”  Has your spouse become an idol in an unhealthy way?

If you find yourself upset often with your spouse or constantly disappointed maybe you are not seeking Christ first to meet your needs for love and acceptance.  Applying these four things will hopefully improve your marriage and lead it in the direction that God intended it to be.

First, confess to God that you have looked to your spouse to meet unrealistic needs and turned him/her into an idol.  You will fail your spouse and your spouse will fail you.  Use those moments as a reminder to run to the One who is perfect and will never fail us.

Seek God through His Word and prayer, and ask Him to fill you with His love and presence.  Say to God, “I want you to be in your rightful place, number one in my heart.” God is the only one who can meet our deepest needs.

Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” What a great application to marriage.   This verse pertains to our emotional needs as well as our physical needs.  God will give us everything we need when we seek Him first.

Second pray for your spouse.  Bring your need to God, asking Him to show your spouse how they can love you in that specific way  you are desiring.  I have never had someone tell me that they changed their behavior because their spouse nagged them for long enough.  God can change hearts, and we cannot.

Third, use actions and kind words.  This is challenging because for most of us our first reaction when we don’t get what we want is to whine.  I know mine is. Instead, ask your spouse in a kind tone for what you’re wanting.

For example, if you want quality time, explain that it’s important to you and ask in a loving tone instead of a complaining tone.  Or if it’s more affection you’re desiring, explain why it’s important to you in a non-threatening tone, and then help them get in the habit by modeling it yourself.

Take action to love and respect your spouse.  Be the first to show kindness.  Be the first to forgive, out serve, and encourage.  1 John 4:19 says “We love each other because he (Christ) loved us FIRST.”

Fourth, reevaluate your expectations.  As Gary Thomas says in his book Sacred Marriage, “Marriage is not given to us to make us happy but to make us holy.”  That’s a profound statement.  It means that your spouse isn’t going to meet your every need.  It means that you may have moments where there’s conflict and unhappiness, but it also means that God has a greater purpose.

Marriage is a training ground for holiness.  It’s an opportunity for us to grow in selflessness, serventhood, and sacrificial love.  It’s an opportunity for us to hold our tongue instead of lashing out in anger.  It’s an opportunity to forgive instead of hold a grudge.

Holiness is a completely different expectation than happiness.   And here’s the good news.  I’ve found that my marriage is more joyful than ever when I’m not creating an expectation that my spouse is going to meet my every need.

I find more joy when I am trying to serve Jason rather than thinking about myself and what I am not receiving.  I need to grow by God’s grace in this area.  So next decade of marriage here I come.

May 13th, 2012 by Sarah

The Way I Want to be Remembered as Mom to my Kids


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I have been reflecting today, Mother’s Day, on my own mom and how much I love her.

As I’ve mentioned before, my mom raised us as a single mom, and she struggled with mental health issues most of my childhood.  We did not have the cleanest house on the block.  She didn’t bake, decorate, or garden, and she didn’t cook gourmet food.

I also know my mom made mistakes, but that’s not what I remember about her.

What I do remember is my mom sitting on my bed rubbing my back when I cried as a hormonal teenager.  I remember her packing embarrassingly gigantic lunches when I went on field trips because she was afraid I would get hungry.  And, I remember her compassionate responses when I was sick or struggling with something.

My mom really loved us.  1 Peter 4:8 says, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

That verse gives me much comfort.  I know I will make mistakes as a mom, and I will sin.  I am lacking in a variety of areas.  I have bad crabby days, but I love my kids deeply.

I hope that my kids remember my love for them and forget my mistakes :).

As I think back to the ways my mom showed her love to me, times that stick out to me vividly, these are a few of the things I want to emulate.

  • My mom showed compassion and mercy when I was hurting, even if it was just a small sickness.
  • She encouraged us often.
  • She took the time to have a “special one on one time” with my brother, sister and I.  Since she often didn’t have babysitters she would take us out of school once in a while for a lunch date.  We cherished that time.
  • She gave us consequences for our behavior, something I loathed at the time but have become thankful for.
  • She was humble enough to apologize.

I remember a time right before I got married.  I was praying and thinking about the possibly near future of being a mom.  Something inside me felt scared and inadequate.  The sense of responsibility washed over me.  I wondered, well I still do wonder sometimes, am I going to mess my children up?

In hindsight I was scared because I thought I had to be perfect, and the picture I had of the “perfect mom” didn’t fit me.

I will never forget the mental image I saw in my head as I confessed my fear to God.  I pictured a little boy laying in his bed, and I was kneeling beside him apologizing.  It was as if the Lord was comforting me by saying, “you won’t be perfect, but you will be forgiven.”

That did bring me comfort, and I have apologized to my children many times since God spoke that to my heart ten years ago.  Just yesterday I turned down the radio in our car and said, “sorry I was crabby today.  I have had a bad attitude, will you guys forgive me?”

They accepted my apology, as they always do.  Sometimes we as parents think it’s unnecessary to apologize, but doing so models a repentant heart, brings reconciliation and shows our kids that we aren’t perfect just because we are the parents.

Thank you Mom for modeling deep love for me.  Thank you for your humility, and your empathy.  It’s why I still call you almost daily.  You listen, you understand, and when I am struggling you pray with me.

I pray for a healthy and godly relationship with my children and that I can model for them the deep, deep love of Christ.

 

May 1st, 2012 by Sarah

From Weary to Strengthened


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Last fall, while I was pregnant with Jasper, our fourth baby, I was having one of those long difficult days where everything seemed to go wrong, and I was exhausted from the pregnancy.

I made it to the afternoon and as I rocked my daughter by her crib before nap time I realized it was the first quiet moment I had had all day.  It was like I forgot that I could call on God and had been scurrying around aimlessly all day.

I whispered a quick prayer for Isabelle in her ear and then one for myself as well.  I prayed, “Lord, I am so weary, please give me your strength.”

I laid Isabelle down in her crib and ran downstairs to round up my two boys.  It was not a minute after I whispered my plea to God that I stepped outside, and up in the sky an eagle came soaring over our heads.

“An eagle!”  Micah and I both yelled.  We ran through the grass watching it until it perched on a branch in front of us.  I had never seen an eagle in the wild before and it was beautiful.  Right when I saw it my prayer came to the forefront of my mind and I remembered a verse about eagles.

It says, “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;  but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”  Isaiah 40:30-31.

I have carried that verse with me throughout these last months, but still I forget often.

We are in the midst of a trial at the moment.  Only five days in and I am weary.  I have taken my stress out on my husband at certain times, and I have worried when I should have prayed.  I was reminded of that last night of how faithful God is, and that He will bring good out of this.

God wants us to trust Him, and how quickly we forget in our current trial that He was faithful in our last.  I went to bed last night reminding myself of God’s faithfulness and He showed Himself so evident today.  It wasn’t free of hardship, but wow was He evident.

In fact, this morning I opened up a letter from one of the children we sponsor through Compassion International and the verse our child wrote at the end of the letter was Isaiah 40:30-31.  I needed that reminder.  Hope in the Lord Sarah and your strength will be renewed.

Then I read this quote by  J.I. Packer.  “The weaker we feel, the harder we lean. The harder we lean, the stronger we grow spiritually, even while our bodies waste away.”

It is not bad to feel weak, and it is inevitable to go through trials.  God doesn’t tell us the outcome of our situation because when He doesn’t we wait on Him.  We long to hear His voice.

God knows what He’s doing and we can trust Him in the midst of hardship, asking Him for help and strength.  I am constantly growing in this, but I want to lean hard on Him.  I want to hope in God’s promises and in so doing experience the strength that only He can give.

“So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. 11 All power to him forever! Amen.”  1 Peter 5:10

 

April 25th, 2012 by Sarah

Asian Salad


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This is another one of my favorite salad recipes, and so refreshing for summer.  You can have it as a side or make it an entrée by adding a protein.  I think shredded carrots or chopped cucumbers would be a good addition if you want to give it some more crunch.

This recipe will last you for about a week, so cut it in half if you can’t use that much, but I always make this amount so we can have the dressing/topping around for a couple of weeks.  It’s a crowd pleaser too, so if it’s your turn to bring a big salad this is perfect.  I got this recipe from my friend Jody who loves to entertain and I just tweaked it a bit.

Salad:

  1. Lettuce (whatever you have, but a mix of iceberg with romaine or spring mix is good)
  2. Mandarin oranges (optional)

Topping:

  1. Small bag of sliced almonds
  2. Bag of sunflower seeds
  3. Two squares of ramen noodles broken up (save the seasoning for the dressing)

Dressing:

  1. 1/2 C. sugar
  2. 3/4 C. white vinegar
  3. 1 C. oil (I use canola)
  4. 1/2 t pepper
  5. 2 packets of Ramen seasoning (oriental or chicken)

Easy and delicious!

Click here for more salad recipes.

 

April 21st, 2012 by Sarah

Don’t Forget Your Shoes-Part 2


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If you have not read the first part of this blog post you can read part 1 here.

I have read and reread Ephesians 6:10-20 on the “armor of God.”  I have taught it to my older children as well, but it struck me as I studied each piece of armor that though I would say the passage out loud, I did not apply the passage as best as I could.

Paul, the author of Ephesians, had a reason for each piece of armor that we need to put on so that we “will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.”

I hope you are inspired, as I have been, to put these things on everyday.  I talk about two of the six pieces of armor in Part 1, and here is what I have been applying from my study of the other four.

The shield of faith.  Shields, at the time Paul wrote this passage, were large and used by Roman legions.  They were held above their heads to protect their whole body from flaming swords.  Paul used this figuratively because Satan will fire arrows of doubt, fear, lies, and hardships at people, and we need to have a way to defend ourselves.

Paul says to take up the shield of faith in “all circumstances.”  Taking up the shield of faith means trusting that God loves us and wants the best for us no matter what circumstance we’re in.  There are some circumstances that really make you wonder “why?” And, in those times we have to trust in His promises, and obey Him, knowing that He is good and has good in store for us.

How do we increase our faith?  I often simply ask God to increase my faith, as it is spoken in Scripture as a gift from God.  Romans 10:17 also says that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”  Listening to and reading/studying our Bible is another way we can increase our faith.

I want to have a faith in Christ that will withstand the hardest of trials and even death itself.  We have no idea what kind of hardships the future holds, but with a strong faith in Christ we will be able to extinguish the flaming darts of the evil one.

The breastplate of righteousness protects our hearts right?  Proverbs 4:23 says “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”  I often hear people say that they will follow God when they’re older and done “having fun.”  That is satan’s deceitfulness right there.  Sin is not fun.  It turns on you.  It is pleasurable for a moment, but there are devastating consequences that hurt our hearts when we don’t obey God.  He wants the best for us, and is not a kill joy.  He wants to give us the best joy!

I have experienced trying to do things my own way, only to end up with a wounded heart.  What can we do to guard your hearts?  We can choose to obey God’s Word, even when it goes against what “feels right.”   We can share our sin and temptation with other Christians and ask for accountability.  We can remove tempting situations or bad relationships.

No sense in buying a bag of Oreos, that stare you in the face every time you look for a snack, when you’re trying to eat healthy.  This same concept goes for guarding our hearts.  I know that when I am struggling with coveting or discontentment the best place for me to hang out is not at the Parade of Homes or the mall.

We can only be “righteous”  through the strength of Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:30 says “Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin.”  We can never be right with God on our own.  One single sin separates us from Him, but when we trust Jesus for what He did on the cross we can be made righteous because He traded us; our sin for His righteousness.

The belt of truth is what holds everything together.   Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”  In contrast, John 8:44 speaks of Satan as the father of lies.  When Satan lies he is speaking in his native tongue.  One of the ways Satan ruins people’s’ lives is through getting us to believe lies about ourselves, God, and others.  When we speak the truth we are arming ourselves against satan.  I think we can “put on” truth in a few different ways.

One would be to be honest with others.  It is easy, when we are afraid of what others think of us, to not share the whole truth about our struggles or sin.  Adam and Eve, when they sinned, innately tried to cover it up.  It is scary to share our sin with others, especially if it will hurt someone, but in the end John 8:32 says “the truth will set you free.”

The second way to put on truth is learning and telling ourselves the truth about God and who we are in Him.  I hear people say things like, “there is no truth, what’s right for you is right for you and visa versa.”  That statement in and of itself is a contradiction.  How can there be “no truth” when that is a truth claim in and of itself.

You cannot say two contradictory ideas are true while being intellectually honest.  It’s just not possible.  We do need to be humble in our pursuit of Truth, not thinking that we are better than anyone else.  I believe that Jesus is God and raised from the dead for intellectual and experiential reasons, and making that truth claim doesn’t mean that I believe I am better than someone who does not believe it.  I do however want everyone to find the joy that I have found by putting my trust in Christ.  I love the quote, “Christians are just beggars telling other beggars where to find food.”

And last, as shoes for your feet put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.  I never realized that Paul, being the Old Testament scholar that he was, probably got this illustration from Isaiah 52:7.  It says “how beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace.”

Sometimes I get preoccupied with prayers for myself, and my own friends and family.  It is so important to be praying for ourselves, but I have been praying more lately that we, the body of Christ ,will proclaim boldly the good news of Jesus.  I have been praying for churches to be started all over the world and for God to send out workers to share the gospel.

We have peace with God through Christ.  All of us have turned away from God leaving our relationship broken.  We started it.  It’s our fault, not His, and yet rather than getting back at us, He gave His only Son to take on our sin and give us His goodness so that we could have peace with God and with each other through forgiveness.

We can put on this piece of armor by preaching the gospel to ourselves every day, remembering when we sin or fail that we can come to God and turn away from our sin at any moment, and He will forgive us… we have a friend, a perfect Father in Him.  Lets live joyfully knowing that we have the peace of Christ, but lets not keep it to ourselves.  As my Grandpa says when I leave his house.  “Sarah, don’t keep the faith.. share it.”

“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.”  Don’t forget your shoes.

 

April 12th, 2012 by Sarah

Don’t Forget Your Shoes- Part 1


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Last week I called my mom on the way to Bible study and told her how thankful I was to be going.  Every week I feel so blessed and encouraged by it, and that day I felt like I really needed the time to be refreshed with other women by God’s Word.

We parked our car, arriving a little late after a hurried morning, and out of the mini-van steps a shoeless boy.

“Hudson, did you forget your socks and shoes?” I ask.

He looked down and said, “oops.”  We live 25 minutes away from Bible Study Fellowship so I wasn’t about to go home.  I felt a like I was going to cry because it’s a minor miracle for me to get out of the house with three little kids and an eight-week-old by 9:00, and here we are in the parking lot with a missing pair of shoes.

I said a quick prayer, and then I saw a friend pull in and I began to tell her about my circumstance.

By the time I turned around, still deciding what to do, Hudson said “look at my shoes Mommy.”  Both of my boys were gleaming with proud smiles on their faces.  Micah had taken two covers off of his booster car seat and put them on Hudson’s feet.  His shoes looked like little slippers, and they fit perfectly on his feet.

I laughed and said, “great creativity!  Lets go with it.”

When I told Hudson’s wonderful teacher our story, she looked at Hudson and said, “well Hudson, we’re learning today about how God provides for our needs and look how He provided for you today.”  I love it!

Here’s a picture of Hudson’s shoes for the day.

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I left Bible study not only feeling encouraged and blown away at how great out God is, but also more motivated to pray than I’ve been in a long time.

We were studying Ephesians 6:10-20, a passage I’ve read many times before.  This time studying it gave me a whole new vision on how to apply it.

When you find yourself discouraged, doubting, afraid or struggling in a relationship what do you do?

Here is a synopsis of what I learned and how I am attempting to use this passage of Scripture and apply it to my life.

We are in a battle whether we are actively engaged or not.  Ephesians 6:11 says to “put on the whole armor of God.”

It may sound weird that we are talking about a cosmic world going on around us that we can’t see, but when you look around at some of the evils in the world it is not so difficult to imagine.  I watched a video the other day about the number of little girls and boys who are kidnapped and forced to be prostitutes at a very young age.  It makes me sick to my stomach to think about.

More close to home we see marriages and families being destroyed every day by anger, selfishness, and sin.  Every one of us is tempted to sin on a regular basis, and there is no doubt a spiritual battle going on around us.

Ephesians 6:12 says  “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Are you struggling in a relationship?  Paul says that we aren’t fighting against flesh and blood… remind yourself of that when you are in a fight with your spouse.  It is easier to stop and pray in the midst of conflict when we keep that in mind.

Satan is real and the Bible says that he is at work in our world attempting to “devour,” “steal, kill and destroy.”  No one is immune so it is important that we apply God’s Word by putting on the full armor of God.

Paul gives us six ways we need to be prepared for battle using the analogy of literal armor.  Here are two of them, and I will write briefly on the other four in Part 2.

The Sword of the Spirit: This is the Word of God and prayer.  Isn’t it interesting that this is the only weapon mentioned that we can fight with, rather than just defend ourselves.  The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God and then Paul mentions prayer.  Paul says, “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere,” verse 6:18.

We are to be in communication with God all throughout the day.  We may forget momentarily but like the loved one you text or call, you stay in contact throughout the day.

I am  trying to “take up the sword of the Spirit” by stopping to pray when I notice any doubt, fears, discouragement, lack of joy or disharmony in relationships.  I pray for myself, for others, for faith, and that God will help me to obey Him when I’m tempted.  I recite or read a Scripture that has to do with what I’m going through.

I have been more motivated to pray for others and looking for ways I can be praying.  It is easy for us to be deceived into thinking that our prayers don’t make a difference.  When we hear about children being kidnapped as sex slaves we can pray knowing that we may never see the result of our prayers until we get to heaven.  When we see an ambulance, pray, our child struggling in an area, pray.

Prayer and the Word of God are our only offensive weapon.  Use them, they are powerful and effective.

Here are some ideas of ways we can get Scripture into our souls… write Scriptures and tape them on places you look so you can read and memorize.  Get the Bible for free on your phone, computer or Ipad here. There are different Bible reading plans there, and you can even listen to the Bible, all free!

Have a time and a place to read your Bible and if you get out of the habit don’t give it up, get back in.  Another great way is to join a Bible study at your church.  I also recommend Bible study fellowship.  The groups are nondenominational and are offered all over the country.

Another piece of armor…

The Helmet of salvation covers our head, and I am guessing Paul used this metaphor because we need protection for our mind.

Many of us trust in Christ for salvation and then we walk around frowning in defeat as if we are not saved.  I know I am guilty of doing this.  We act as if we aren’t good enough, or maybe we depend on ourselves instead of Jesus.

In difficult circumstances, Satan wants us to be discouraged.  To think this is it, we will never be delivered.  But when we look around at this world that is so easily shaken and uncertain, we can put on our helmets and look to Jesus knowing with certainty that He has and will save us.

On our own we are easily defeated, but with Christ we cannot be defeated.

In Part 2 I will share practical ways that we can “put on” the other four pieces of armor from this passage.

 

 

 

April 3rd, 2012 by Sarah

Homemade Salad Dressing


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These salad recipes are perfect for summer, and I almost never use store-bought salad dressing which allows me to switch up the recipes and eat salad without getting sick of it.

Below are a couple of my favorite salad recipes and dressings, but if I don’t have one made and I’m in a hurry I simply salt and pepper the salad, then sprinkle a little vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, and maybe a dried or fresh herb.

After you’ve made a few homemade dressings you start to get than hang of experimenting with your own recipes based on what you like and have on hand.

What you’ll need:  a jar to shake the dressing in (a washed out jam jar or spaghetti sauce jar), oil, vinegar (cider, balsamic,rice or any fancy vinegar like raspberry is great, and cider is the cheapest), salt, pepper, sugar, and I will give some more ideas for varieties, see below.

The basic rule of thumb is 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar.  My favorite two oils to use are extra virgin olive oil, and canola oil because they have some healthy fats in them.  Add salt and pepper, maybe a little dried mustard or Dijon mustard if you have some in the fridge.

Warning if you use extra virgin olive oil and put it in the fridge it does harden.  It looks gross but the dressing is still good, you just have to let it thaw and then shake it up.

Here are a few of my favorite recipes…

Cranberry/Pear Salad: 

Greens, Pears or Apples,Gorgonzola, Parmesan or Feta cheese (I really like the gorgonzola and even find it at Aldi), Craisins/dried cranberries, Pecans or walnuts toasted in a skillet (when I’m lazy I don’t toast them or I use store-bought candied/toasted nuts).

Dressing:

  • 3/4 C. oil
  •  1/3 C. honey
  • 2 T. raspberry vinegar (I don’t usually have this on hand so I substitute with cider vinegar or balsamic).
  • 1 T. Dijon Mustard
  • 1 T. minced red onion (optional)
  • 1 t. salt

Strawberry Poppy Seed Salad  This is my all time favorite poppy-seed dressing.  You may want to cut this in half your first time to make sure you like it).

Dressing

  • 1 C sugar
  • 3 t. ground mustard
  • 1 t. salt
  • 2/3 C. rice vinegar
  • 2 C. Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 T. poppy seeds

Combine in a blender or food processor, but again I am usually lazy and I just shake it up in a jar.  I think it still tastes great.

The salad I put this dressing is just greens (spring mix), silvered almonds (toasted), and strawberries or blueberries.

Time Saver: Trader Joe’s had silvered almonds that are already toasted and they are delicious on this salad.

More salad recipes to come!

 

March 23rd, 2012 by Sarah

Going Unnoticed


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I spend a lot of time doing tedious tasks. Making and cleaning up from meals, picking up toys, changing diapers, and filing away our bills.  It doesn’t feel very important.  If I am honest,  I can get a bad attitude when my work goes unnoticed for long periods of time.

I have always loved this verse.  On days when I worked outside the home and wanted to please my boss or on days as a mom when I feel unnoticed, this verse is a great reminder.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as if working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.” Colossians 3:23

In mundane moments I try to remind myself that even if my husband doesn’t notice that I just put away his laundry for him, or that I picked up his bowl, God does.  I am reminded that God asks me to do a good job because it’s good and pleases Him, not merely for the praise and recognition of others.

My children may not thank me for changing their diaper or coming into their room at night for the fifth time when what I really want is a break… but God sees when I work with all my heart.  This attitude has given me a joy in doing tasks that I don’t particularly love doing.

People may notice our hard work when we are working hard to please God, but that isn’t even the best reward.  The Bible says we will receive an inheritance.  An inheritance from the Creator of the world and owner of all things… that sounds amazing to me.

This poem for wives and moms by Roy Lessin really encouraged me.

CONTINUE ON

A woman once fretted over the usefulness of her life.

She feared she was wasting her potential being a devoted wife and mother.

She wondered if the time and energy she invested in her husband and children would make a difference. At times she got discouraged because so much of what she did seemed to go unnoticed and unappreciated. “Is it worth it” She often wondered.

“Is there something better that I could be doing with my time?”

It was during one of these moments of questioning that she heard the still small voice of her heavenly Father speak to her heart.

“You are a wife and mother because that is what I have called you to be.”

Much of what you do is hidden from the public eye. ” But I notice.”

Most of what you give is done without remuneration. “But I am your reward.”

Your husband cannot be the man I have called him to be without your support. Your influence upon him is greater than you think and more powerful than you will ever know. I bless him through your service and honor him through your love.

Your children are precious to me.. Even more precious than they are to you. I have entrusted them to your care to raise for me. What you invest in them is an offering to me.

You may never be in the public spotlight, But your obedience shines as a bright light before me. Continue on. Remember you are MY Servant.

Do all to please me.

By: Roy Lessin