Monday, October 14, 2013

pumpkin bread

Today, I made my most favorite seasonal pumpkin bread (from Pioneer Woman). It is the best intro to the fall. Perfect for breakfast, afternoon snack or dessert (or anytime, really).

3 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon 
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3 whole eggs 
3 1/2 cups sugar 
1 1/4 cup vegetable oil 
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
29 oz. pumpkin puree 
1 bag semi-sweet choc. chips

-large bowl: combine flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking powder
-separate large bowl: combine eggs, sugar, oil, vanilla, and pumpkin puree
-stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients 
-add chocolate chips
-transfer mix to greased bundt pan
-cook on 350 degrees 45-55 min

Sunday, October 13, 2013

[The following is an incredible word I read today in "Experiencing God's Presence" by Chris Tiegreen. I hope this beautiful story encourages you as it did me]

"This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break." Genesis 32:24 

"Jacob had issues, particularly that nasty episode with his brother that had never been resolved. Years earlier, he had tricked his father into proclaiming Esau's blessing over him instead. Then Jacob fled in fear that Esau would kill him. Now, after marriage, children, and years in a far country, Jacob was returning home. He would soon see his brother face-to-face. And he feared the prospect of his past catching up with him.

Jacob was left alone in the camp, and God (as a man) came and wrestled with him all night. It's one of Scripture's strangest stories -- until we reflect on the picture and realize we've been there. There are times when we are left alone to wrestle with God, when past issues loom over our psyche and threaten to burden us with consequences and conflicts we don't want to confront. At such times, God's Presence is painful but purposeful, provoking a catharsis or cleaning from ole wounds. It can be an intense, exhausting struggle, but eventually dawn comes and we receive a blessing for having contended with God- and ourselves - face-to-face.

For your relationship with God to arrive at any depth, it has to include some sort of these wrestling matches. Old wounds must be healed, and it's sometimes a messy process. When your past and your God come face-to-face, it can sometimes be an intense encounter. But it's a necessary one, and it leads to blessing - sometimes even a new a name. The struggle lasts until dawn, but only until dawn. And with it comes a new day.

"Then the man said, 'Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!' But Jacob said, 'I will not let you go unless you bless me.'" Genesis 32:26

Some people see surrender as the purpose of Jacob's wrestling match with God - that Jacob had to come to the end of himself and submit to God's lordship. But there seems to be no surrender in this episode, or even a need for it. Jacob had already arrived at the end of himself, unable to face his brother in his own strength and willfulness. No, the "man" who wrestled with Jacob "saw that he would not win the match" (Genesis 32:25), and Jacob refused to let go until he was blessed... No, this wasn't about surrender; this was about contending with God and knowing His heart even in the intensity of a battle. 

God honors spiritual tenacity. His Presence can provoke turmoil within you for a time, but those who press through the struggles and hang on to faith in Him will be blessed. God has many sides to His face, and sometimes He seems to show a harsh one. But what do you really see - a harsh face or a tender heart? Whichever you see more clearly determines whether you can endure being on your back for a while, as well as what blessing you see at the dawning of the next day. Only the tenacious hold on to God in the midst of a wrestling match with Him and the relentless issues of life.

Hold on. Go ahead and wrestle; God doesn't mind. But if you've been flat on your back, keep holding on anyway. Stay in close contact with God, no matter how intense, and see into His heart. He wants to bless. He's waiting for the dawn. And He wants you to wait for it too.    "

The following is further commentary on this passage by Matthew Henry:

"A great while before day, Jacob being alone, more fully spread his fears before God in prayer. While thus employed, One in the likeness of a man wrestled with him. When the spirit helpeth our infirmities, and our earnest and vast desires can scarcely find words to utter them, and we still mean more than we can express, then prayer is indeed wrestling with God. However tried or discouraged, we shall prevail; and prevailing with Him in prayer, we shall prevail against all enemies that strive with us. Nothing requires more vigour and unceasing exertion than wrestling. It is an emblem of the true spirit of faith and prayer. Jacob kept his ground; though the struggle continued long, this did not shake his faith, nor silence his prayer. He will have a blessing, and had rather have all his bone put out of joint than go away without one. Those who would have the blessing of Christ, must resolve to take no denial. The fervent prayer is the effectual prayer."

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Often times we forget or lose sight of our initial prayer. 

I am immediately reminded of the Israelites in the desert, and immediately reminded of how similar I can be to them. They had been praying for years and years for deliverance from the oppression and rule of the Egyptians. Simultaneously during those years the Lords provision had already been set in motion, which is one of the coolest things to me. He had been raising up someone, Moses, through whom He was going to bring about that very deliverance. It's amazing to me looking at the details of Moses life in retrospect and being prepared for this instance. God is Provider. He was absolutely hearing them and working on their behalf, even in advance, without them even being aware of their prayer. He goes before, always. Even before what they are about to endure in the desert.

After the Israelites left Egypt before they even cross the Red Sea, Pharaoh and his army are quickly approaching. Their whole idea of deliverance is threatened, and they are becoming doubtful and fearful by the second. 

10 When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord. 11 They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” 13 And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of theLord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again.14 The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent. 15 The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward.” Exodus  14:10-15

Wow. Humbly, how many times is this us? This is shockingly me far too often. Things maybe don't go as we expected and we oh so quickly cry out, why Lord did you even bring us here if this was going to be how it ended? We want to jump ship. This isn't what we were imagining, why didn't you just leave us where we were? I didn't ask for this. I know so many can empathize with those thoughts and questions. However, and I love saying however here. This is not the end. This was and never is how He set it up to end. I love how He sets the atmosphere here for entering the desert. "The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent...Tell the people of Israel to go forward."  

Sometimes when unexpected things come at us or deserts are asked of us to walk through, the Lord simply just asks us to rest, trust Him, and go forward. Forward to what? That may be unsure, but what we do know is, forward IN His perfect provision and sovereignty, knowing that He will be faithful and it will come to fruition. There is reason for the desert, always. Nothing is wasted in the sovereignty of God, Hallelujah! We often want to DO something to make the uncomfortableness of the desert go away, but that's not what gets you through. God is constantly trying to instruct the Israelites (and us) to rest in the beauty of surrender, and trust and understand the perfect mesh of our weakness and His amazing strength.

The past year of my life has been some desert area, but amidst the struggle I forgot my initial prayer before the desert was even in sight, was for the Lord to give me deep roots of faith. I hungered for this deeply. I am not exactly sure if I thought it was going to be this magical movement and poof there I was deep rooted, faithful and strong, but roots don't grow deep and strong without the weather and storm. I at times because of the pain of the moment became so focused on the struggle that I lost sight that the Lord was working & accomplishing what I asked Him to do, which is so sweet to me now. I can look back through and see threads of His grace & provision the entire way.

Here's the beautiful thing to me - regardless of the Israelites doubt, forgetfulness, or maybe at times extreme stubborness (guilty); it did not disqualify them for the redemption and promise the Lord set out to fulfill and accomplish from the very beginning. He never wavered. He did and will bring it to fruition. It is a promise. He works all things for good. Like the Israelites, we so often forget our initial prayer when the steps in desert aren't what we expected. But the desert is the process. The promised land is our destination. He will bring whatever He is working in you to fulfillment.

Hold the vision, trust the process.
It's a daring adventure that is incredibly worth it. Every step.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The following excerpt was taken from "Experiencing God's Presence" by Chris Tiegreen: 

"As the waters fill the sea, the earth will be filled with an AWARENESS OF THE GLORY of the LORD." Habakkuk 2:14

Scripture is filled with majestic, sweeping verses like this one. Some of them envision nations streaming to Jerusalem for worship or every knee bowing before Jesus. Many portray a level of victory for God's Kingdom that, in light of the headlines we read, seems hopelessly far-fetched. So what do we do? We take the really good promises and defer them to that "one day" after Jesus comes back - the millennial kingdom or the heavenly city. We modify an old adage with a spiritual twist" 'If something seems too good to be true, it probably is - this side of heaven.'

We've been conditioned to not believe extravagantly. We've been disappointed too often, even by other Christians and our own perceptions of God. So if an extravagant declaration from Scripture doesn't seem realistic to us, we assume it belongs to another age. The problem is that in doing so with something God plans for this age, we forfeit any meaningful participation in it. To be specific, we don't pursue great manifestations of His glory because we don't believe He will give them now. In our beliefs, we default to the status quo.

Do you really want to experience God? Then have big vision - a vision that honors what He has said prophetically and that fits His heart for the world. Small visions don't capture his heart and don't reflect who He is. He doesn't fill nearsighted hearts with faith because they don't really need it. But those who lift up their eyes and envision God's victories in this world will find HIs strong support within and around them. He Presence accompanies His agenda.

Father, I not only want to see Your glory fill me, I want to see it fill the earth. Increase my vision to believe such things and to pursue them. In my lifetime, let me see Your Kingdom advance in ways I never imagined.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

a call to a community of unity.

We were made for COMMUNITY. We were meant for a shared journey with one another. We are a body. We can’t do it on our own. We need each other. There is a reason why we gather as believers. There is a reason why we share testimony to build up each other’s faith in what the Lord is doing.  Traveling here there and everywhere over the past year (or being out of college for that matter) has made the word “community” translate something in my heart like never before. It has bubbled up a thankfulness in my heart from a deep deep well for the people that I’m surrounded by and live life with. He has entrusted something beautiful to me. Community - It makes you come alive. We all ache for real community that knows us, that understands us, encourages us, and yes pushes us. Believe it or not, we want to be pushed and challenged. We want MORE.

“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to PROVOKE unto love and good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.“ [Hebrews 10: 23-25 KJV]

I love the word provoke here. It’s edgy. It pushes. It challenges. By definition it’s to stir up, or call forth (feelings, desires, or activity), to give rise to, induce, or bring about. In essence, to leave the so-called vision state we are in for an expanded vision of another. Provoke each other to what? To love, and yes good works. I know a lot of us think good works, and our mind immediately goes to service projects, or have like a “good deed” mentality. However, there is more here than just meets the eye. I learned something here going over this text. By the original Greek translation the word used for works here is “ergon” and is translated in this passage into “God works.” Wow. SO…. Let us provoke each other into God works. Amazing. This altered my thinking all together and dropped something in my heart that just stirred me to overflow. God works --- the kind of things that ONLY GOD CAN DO. Let us provoke each other into things that only God can do. To push each other past ourselves and to things that there is no way we can do in and of ourselves; things that if God doesn’t show up will not happen. This takes big faith. And even just saying that makes me want to jump out of my seat with excitement. We all want to be apart of something we cannot do on our own - something far greater than ourselves. It’s exhilarating. However, this cannot happen on our own. This takes other people coming along side us, to join us in vision and faith. To provoke us. There are times when I can’t believe, when I am filled with doubt, or quite frankly scared out of my mind. We need each others’ faith. We are a line walking together as a community toward a goal and when I weaken and fall behind I need someone to push me back to the line, and not only to the line but forward. I need someone to provoke me. There is a beautiful responsibility we take on for each other as a community of believers - it’s about the physical representation of the church, CHRIST, on this earth – His glory; His renown, and that is our united aim.

What is our expectation? What is our vision? What is your God given calling? The questions arises shouldn’t our aim be high, our vision be huge if we know and understand we have the spirit of God that raised Christ from the dead and that that same power resides in and is working through us? And not only if we understand that individually, but take hold of that corporately– the power in that to do the immeasurably more He promises in Ephesians 3:20-21 astounds me.

We need to leverage our faith for each other. In moments when one can’t see what’s ahead, we can be their eyes. In moments when someone can’t believe the capacity of what the Lord has called them to, we can believe for them. When someone can move anymore, we can be their legs. It is more about awakening each other to what is already in us: what He has spoken- calling out gifts in each other to use for the kingdom, reminding each other of the authority we have in Christ and ultimately pushing and helping each other grow into the likeness of Christ.

Going back to the Hebrews 10 verse above, I love the mention of encouraging the body as well as provoking the body. We need to be encouraged, but we also need to be pushed for more… into a fullness of life that we could not attain without the power of Christ. As a community, as a body, we are entering a new frontier of risk and faith. Let us take the safety net out of our prayers and pray boldly, believing and trusting the Lord to do what He has promised. Let’s in unity spur and provoke each other into things that only God can do.

But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” [Hebrews 10:39]

Sunday, May 19, 2013

hunker down.

Wow, have I been learning a ton lately about the character of the Lord. Gut check rather. However, He is good. He is faithful. Always. He does not delay. He always comes through and YES regardless of whether we can or cannot see. And YES whether we can see Him moving or not. 

"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." [Hebrews 11:1]

However, we know that deep roots come with trials. Come with lots of gut checks. And "because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." [James 1:3]. Which way are you going to go? Are you going to stand in the way of faith? or Are you going to give up and leave what you know because it is not looking like He is coming through or maybe for that matter doing anything? A lot of us could probably be able to stand before the trial and of course pick standing in the way of faith, but it's in the wind and the waves were this becomes so crucial, co critical, on which everything hinges. 

As of lately I have been sticking around 1st and 2nd Kings. These books are so rich; it's packed full. In 1 Kings 18, there is a story that comes to my mind often here lately. Let me kind of hash out what's going on here. The people of Israel had began to worship other gods other than the Most High God. They were praying to the god Baal. However, there was severe famine in the land and they were praying to both God and Baal for the famine to lift and rain to come, going back and forth (being half-hearted). 

 The word of the Lord came to Elijah the prophet saying, "go show yourself to Ahab (the kind of Israel) and I will bring the rain upon the earth. Elijah went to Ahab stating he had abandoned the commandments of the Lord and told him (in a summary) we will test your god against mine. Elijah said to the people, "How long will you go limping between two different opinions? if the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.' (v.21) Oh goodness the significance of this statement is great. When we find ourselves in the middle of just going with faith and then second guessing in our flesh. It can be so weakening. We start limping. We are not strong either way. This is what Elijah was trying to convey to the people of Israel. Elijah challenges the people of Israel to make a decision, but they did not say a word. Then Elijah says okay lets prepare a sacrifice and the let you call on your god and I will call upon the name of the Lord and whichever one answers by fire, he is God. the people agreed. They cried to Baal and nothing happened and Elijah cried out to the Lord and the sacrifice was consumed by the Lord by fire. (something interesting I thought that was as they prepared the sacrifice before they were about to cry out to the Lord after nothing from Baal, Elijah had them fill 4 waterpots with water to pour on the sacrifice to show he was requiring more of the Lord than from Baal. He was confident that not only would the Lord consume the dry sacrifice with fire but they he could consume and wet sacrifice with water - trying to make a deep impression on the people that the Lord is mighty. So neat.)

... After the Lord showed Himself, Elijah said to Ahab, "Go up , eat and drink, for there is a sound of the rushing of rain." (v. 41). He knew what the Lord had said, he knew He would send the rain like He promised. He knew not because he was confident in his knowing, but confident in the one that he KNEW. He knew the fulfillment of the drought (hard time) was over. Elijah then went up to the top of Mount Carmel and he bowed himself down on the earth and put his face between his knees." (v.42)... Okay, so he sent Ahab about his business and then Elijah got to his business and put himself in a posture of praying. I find it so interesting the posture Elijah is in because he is not standing, kneeling or sitting but rather in a position that in that day was for child bearing. Women would sit in that position to have babies. It is so cool because it signifies Elijah was birthing something, he knew something was to come out of this. He believed it. He HUNKERED DOWN in prayer. So Elijah says to his servant, "Go up now, look toward the sea (to see if the rain was coming). And he went up and looked and said 'There is nothing.' And he [Elijah] said, 'Go again.' seven times. Seven times he sent his servant back. However, that means that six times he was heard nothing, saw nothing. Right here in this little moment is where so many people can identify. With disappointment, feeling forgotten, not understanding what the Lord is doing and maybe doubting whether or not He will come through. However, the seventh time after sending the servant, he [servant] said, 'Behold, a little cloud like a man's hand is rising from the sea." OKAY... this is incredible interesting and neat to me. Elijah KNEW the Lord had promised rain and was going to send rain. The persistency and fervency of the prayer of Elijah here, it's obvious He knows what the Lord said will NOT take no for an answer. He stays hunkered down in prayer until he sees the promise of the Lord come to pass. 

When Elijah hears word of the "small" sign of rain, he says to his servant, "Go up, say to Ahab 'Prepare your chariot and go down, lest the rain stop you.' And in a little while the heavens grew back with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain." (v. 45) .... I think it is amazing that after the sight of only a small cloud the side of a man's hand rising Elijah knew the torrential downpour was coming and told Ahab. He was so confident. He was bold. I don't know if I with just seeing one tiny cloud would be as bold to say oh YES the rain is coming I am confident of this. I wonder how many times I question the little clouds asking for the Lord to show me more, or maybe wait around longer to make sure I see other clouds. Elijah's faith is so honorable.

Charles Spurgeon used this text when he was describing "certain signs and tokens for good, which prayerful faith clearly perceives when an awakening, a genuine revival is about to come." He goes on to say that we should make note of the little clouds in our lives to not take them likely. 

How many times have I missed little clouds? We so often see HUGE movements and so often take the little clouds for granted that lead up to these moments to those things. It's those moments of hunkering down in prayer and rooting in & trusting the promise of the Lord to come to pass before the rain comes  - those make a person. It weaves something beautiful in a person. 

The Lord is FAITHFUL. That is who He is. He doesn't have to prove Himself faithful because that's just who He is. You cannot add or take away from Him. But He chooses to reveal and show Himself to us because of His great. So do not lose heart because He WILL COME THROUGH. He always does. Keep pressing in and keep trusting Him. He is for you. He hasn't forgotten or looked away from you for one second. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Ephesians 4:1-3

Thankful to a sweet friend for sharing this timely Word from Ephesians this morning,

"In light of all this, here's what I want you to do. While I'm locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk - better yet, run!- on the road God called you to travel. I don't want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don't want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline -  not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences." 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Even when it's hard, I pray this is always my prayer.

Monday, March 11, 2013

ENOUGH for today.

I recently listened to an incredible podcast by Louie Giglio titled, "Enough for Today" (if you have a chance, listen to it here.) It was an incredible teaching. I realize how quick we are to jump to future things and not rest in just today. We can say yes Jesus is enough for today AND tomorrow, or today AND forever. It's like we bust at the seams to put that "and" in there. Yes He is enough always, faithful always, good always, but we are only promised when we wake up what He has for us in this day now and so often we miss it because we are anxious about the next day or the next month. We cannot access those promises yet. We cannot access tomorrow's promises today. He is sufficient for the day. Just like the manna He gave the Israelites in the desert, He told them He would supply all they needed for the day. However, some of them stored up to make sure they had enough for the next day and "it bred worms and stank" (Exod 16: 20). How often are we like these Israelites? I am guilty of this often, wheeling my mind over and over trying to plan this and that and get things done, get ahead. When the Lord is saying to me, "Be still, daughter, I am working on your behalf. Trust me. Depend on me, not your own strength. I am here today. Present with You now."

He is perfectly provisional for the day.
"Give us this day our DAILY bread." Matthew 6:11

Instead of manna, we now have the bread of Life. By His son. His blood covers everything that happened and we get to stand a new every single morning, and so often we do not claim that. So often we do not operate in the promises the Lord has for us in the day. It is so important to remember that we have a Father that knows what we need BY day, BY moment.  I pray that we SHIFT our mindset to instead of worrying about how things will work out tomorrow, or next week to saying I KNOW You, Oh Lord, will provide for me today; I need not worry about tomorrow - You WILL be faithful - You WILL come through. Let us rest in that the Lord is fighting on our behalf in our stillness (Exodus 14:14).

When I fail to let Jesus be enough for me today, I fail to reflect His sufficiency to others.
Let us live in all the fullness He grants today. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

In the wait.

In the wait.

Something our generation hates to hear. Wait. We can hardly stand commercials, or a website loading, much less an entire season of "wait"appointed from the Lord. We are used to having everything at our immediate request. Honestly, I am guilty of liking everything to be done efficiently and quickly. However, that's not exactly how the Lord operates all the time.

For instance, King David was no stranger to waiting. He was anointed to be king by the prophet Samuel, as the youngest of his father Jesse's sons. Instead of rushing to take the throne, it would be years before he was set to be king. The Lord had to prepare him to be king. David was a shepherd boy, and that's what he did day in and day out. David waited on the Lord to take him from the pasture to the palace. Even though David was appointed and anointed didn't mean he didn't have to wait for the right time. His waiting was a extremely important intimate time with the Lord that would set the stage for the rest of David's life. Even in the wait the Lord was moving on David's behalf. He does not delay.

To feel, doubt, or not trust the Lord is faithful or that He will not provide is denying that He has done it in the past. The Lord is who He is all the time, never changing, without shadow. He is FAITHFUL that is WHO HE IS. He is a PROVIDER, that is WHO HE IS. He does deliver. He is a DELIVERER. He did not leave Jonah in the whale. He did not leave Hannah barren. He did not leave Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fire. He did not leave David stranded when fighting Goliath. He did not leave Moses and the Israelites staring at the Red Sea not knowing how to cross, when the Egyptians were approaching. He did not leave His only Son in the grave. HE PROVIDES, HE IS FAITHFUL, and HE DOES DELIVER. We can't stand here now and doubt His faithfulness now because we would have to say He wasn't faithful then. He is the same today, yesterday, and forever. We have to remember His faithfulness. Feed on faithfulness like it says in Psalm 37:3. Just because He has spoken something into our life that we have not seen come to fruition does not mean it won't. There is a time. There is a season. He will come through.

We also have to give up "trying to help God out" in our own flesh because it accomplishes nothing and may even prolong the time until the promise is fulfilled. We need to just receive from Him, which is often much easier said then done, which of this I am guilty myself. We must rest in the fact that He has it, always has, and always will.

It's hard in waiting seasons to see the purpose, especially if it feels like it has been dragged out. However, we must rest assure the Lord is weaving something incredible. He is always working things together for our good. Our best. Refining us to depend on Him, alone. Trusting Him with everything we've got. Persevering. Continuing to know WHO He is and what He says. Even through the heat of the process it is such an incredibly beautiful thing - and the coolest thing, the Lord never lost sight of the beauty that is coming. It has always been His focus and will remain until we see it fulfilled.

We must HOLD the VISION, and TRUST the PROCESS.

"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." Philippians 1:6

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Passion 2013

WOW, words can't describe how epic Passion 2013 was. The Lord met us in extravagant ways. I was overflowed to the brim, just spilling over. We believe the Lord for IMMEASURABLY MORE and it's incredible to still see the ground shaking in the days after...asking for more.