Welcome to my blog! I'm so glad you stopped by. I happen to be one of those people who lives to eat, and the only thing I love more than eating is hanging out with my family and friends. Grab a cup of coffee and sit down to my daily devotion. I can't wait to tell you what's on my mind today....

Monday, July 4, 2011

One Nation, Under God

Today is the 4th of July, the day that we Americans have set aside to celebrate our freedom as a nation.  We all pull out the barbeque grills, stir up the baked beans and get together with family and friends.  Children decorate their bicycles for neighborhood parades, and fireworks light up the evening skies.  The beaches are crowded, and there is a waiting line at every ice cream stand.  Freedom is good.  Freedom is great.  And we owe such a debt of gratitude to every man and woman who has served our nation, gaining our freedom, keeping our freedom.  Not everyone has these rights, you know.

I remember being in Thailand when a major tsunami came through Myanmar.  We saw disturbing images on the Thai TV channels. Thousands were killed and even more left homeless.  Many countries tried to come to Myanmar's aid, but their government would not let people in to distribute the food and help that was needed.  I think of North Korea.  Those people live in such literal darkness.  The government has successfully brainwashed a nation.  The people don't even know the truth about their poverty and oppression.  Governments across the globe are filled with corruption and tyranny.

In America, we have the freedom to say anything at all that we want to about our nation.  As a result, you can open any newspaper, turn on any channel, and you will see someone making a negative comment about the way things are being done.  It's true.  We are wrought with imperfections.  We are stained beyond recognition at times.  The sins that plague us are many, and we have much for which to repent.  But we are free.

We are free to speak, we are free to worship.  We don't realize the great honor that is ours. But our freedom came at a cost.  Many died defending this great land.  We have gone outward and defended other nations who cannot stand up against the evil that pushes against them, as well.  We are defenders of freedom. We are known for it, even criticized.  But we are free.

If you look at our freedoms, though, they are often cheap imitations of true liberty.  We are free to speak, yet we rant and rave about ungodly topics - because we can.  We are free to bear arms, yet crime is rampant. We are free to vote, yet our process is so covered in mud that we can't even see the merit in our candidates.  We are free to worship, but what a mess we've made of God. 

What is freedom, then?  One of Merriam-Webster's definitions is this: liberation from slavery or restraint, or from the power of another.  John 8:34-36  tells says, "Jesus replied, 'I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.'"  In other words, we are not truly free if we have sin in our lives.  All of us have been a slave at one time or another because the Bible tells us that we have all sinned.  It is our very human nature to live at odds with God.  We have no righteousness on our own that allows us to come into fellowship with the perfect nature of a perfect God.  The passage above reminds us of that.  As slaves, we do not have the same rights as the family, but as sons and daughters, we can lay claim to the fellowship of the household.  How can we get beyond our slavery and enter into our spiritual inheritance?  Through Jesus Christ.  The Word is very clear.  There is no doubt whatsoever of our salvation if Jesus, Himself, has given us our freedom.  We cannot earn fellowship with the Father, righteousness in our deeds.  This is something that is given to us freely.  The plan of salvation that was orchestrated by God the Father is a spotless plan of redemption for each of us.  We don't have to wonder if we did it right.  We don't have to question whether or not we can enter into fellowship with God.  If the Son has set us free, we are free!  There is no fear.   

Romans 8:15-16 says, "For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry, 'Abba Father.' The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ."  We are not illegitimate children roaming the streets of eternity.  We are co-heirs with Christ!  We are invited into a permanent place in the family of God.  The cost that was paid was precious, and we can receive the benefits freely.  

I appreciate our nation and the liberties that we pursue for ourselves and for others.  We still have a godly hope that draws others within our borders.  But this freedom is nothing in comparison to the great liberty that is found in Christ, in fellowship with the Father.  Once you step into that, you are free, indeed.

Thank you to those of you who have served our nation.  We don't regard your dedication lightly.  We are one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.  I pray that we will continue to stand for godly precepts in these last days. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Preparing for Marriage

Last weekend, I had the great pleasure of helping to host a bridal shower.  The bride-to-be was radiant with the hopes of a beautiful future with the one she loves.  The food was delicious, and the cake was a perfectly moist pound cake with strawberry filling and buttercream frosting.  She received so many wonderful and thoughtful gifts, and her joy was contagious as we watched her taking the steps towards the next phase of her life.

While I observed, I couldn't help but think about the way that we, too, are like this bride.  We are waiting for the One we love to come and take us to be with Him forever.  I like the way the weddings of the Bible were conducted... The bride and her bridesmaids knew a general time frame for the groom to come, but they did not always have an exact moment when they should be ready.  They sat and waited with great expectancy.  I'm sure that they took turns looking down the street, the waiting room filled with giggles and nervous chatter.  I imagine that each of the girls was thinking about how wonderful it would be when their groom came to take them home.  They were probably ready for days before he arrived.

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.  Five of them were foolish and five were wise.  The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them.  The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps.  The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps.  The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.'" Matthew 25:1-13

This parable of Jesus is an interesting look at how we behave.  We are eager for the Lord's return, but even in our excited state, some of us are not prepared.  My friend who had the bridal shower was so happy to be gathering the things needed to make their new home comfortable and livable.  She anticipated the needs that she would have in establishing their lives, and the ladies who came were thrilled to help her get what she needed.  That kind of excitement blended with preparation is what our Bridegroom wants from us.  We don't just agree to be a bride; we also prepare for His return.  We stay in eager fellowship with Him.  We maintain an atmosphere of purity and patience.  We pursue His peace and avoid the frenzy of thoughtless chaos.  In an effort to be ready to meet Jesus face to face, we seek His presence in our hearts until the day of His return.

We are brides.  It is easy to grow stale in earthly marriage, but life in God makes everything new.  The Lord is coming.  We can be filled with anticipation and excitement.  We should keep watch to see when He makes His glorious appearance.  We should be ready to go with Him the moment He arrives.  What a glorious day awaits!  Congratulations are in order!  I will see you at the feast.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Another Year Older, Another Pie Eaten

Over the past weekend, I celebrated yet another birthday - will they never end? - and I did it with my family and several of my very best friends.  The one dessert that I just had to have was a tart and tangy key lime pie.  I made one.  It's funny that I would never eat any of the ingredients by themselves (OK, maybe I'd take a few spoons of sweetened condensed milk), but all together, the ingredients turn out to be a heavenly version of summer birthday fun!  I love everything from the graham cracker crust to the creamy filling to the tart and slightly bitter bite at the end.  Perfection on a plate!  But if you gave me a tablespoon of lime zest, I may not be as thrilled.  If I had to drink a half cup of lime juice, my mouth would pucker, and my stomach might revolt.  I would never pour the egg yolks down my throat...no way.  But the end result is so spectacular that I might be able to eat a whole pie! 

Three of my friends showed up to celebrate with me.  It was a complete surprise.  I think it may have been one of my happiest moments ever (so sad Jenny McN wasn't here to join in!).  Years ago, I didn't think I needed many friends to be happy and complete.  Boy, was I wrong.  I had avoided giving my heart away in friendship for some odd reason, but after moving back to North Carolina, I needed to connect with other women - particularly other mothers of small children.  The need to feel like I wasn't alone in the trials of marriage and family forced me to pursue relationships with the women around me.  I have never been happier. 

I think of my pie and how all the ingredients work together so well, and it reminds me of the many facets of friendship.  There is the obvious sweetness that comes with friendship - the kind of fellowship that is relaxed and comfortable.  That's the part that we all know and love.  There is the laughter and joy - kind of like the lime juice that makes our mouths water.  This is part of the flavor that keeps us coming back for more.  But how about the lime zest and the egg yolks? 

Sometimes, we get into places in our lives where we have the tendency to "drift"....we lose focus on the things of God and become wrapped up in entertainment, kids, travel, the stuff of life.  In those moments, it is so good to have a friend who can speak into our lives.  It only takes a small sentence to bring accountability.  For example, "What has God been saying to you lately?"  This one sentence can bring us right back around, and a good friend can do it in a way that is non-threatening yet gently reminding of where we should focus.  That is the lime zest, isn't it?  Very powerful tiny bits that work their wonders.  I remember a time when I thought that I could handle an issue in prayer on my own.  In a brief moment, I mentioned a little bit to a friend, thinking that the conversation would continue.  She stopped right there and began to pray - to intercede - on my behalf.  Suddenly, I got it.  I understood why we should lean on each other.  Her prayers were objective, not at all subject to the thoughts bouncing around in my brain.  She had wisdom that didn't get confused with personal thoughts on the matter.  She had the authority to pray and speak over me because of the trust that we had given to each other in our friendship.  This particular dynamic was a brief but powerful moment in our sweet friendship. What a beautiful ingredient that is often overlooked! 

As for the egg yolks, that is the relationship that we have with God.  This is the most blessed part of a really good friendship.  God binds us together in love.  He makes the whole thing set well.  He is the one thing that keeps the recipe from falling apart.  You could put everything else in the shell and try to bake it, but it just won't work without God.  Sure...there are plenty of people out there in the world who have lifelong friendships, but when you understand the depth and flavor of relationships bound with the love of God, why would you want to settle for conversations about parties, fashion, movies, etc?  It's all fru fru.... I'd rather have the substance of God.

The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense. Proverbs 27:9  I love my friends.  I am so glad that you are in my life.  There is no greater gift than the time we have together.  Thank you, my sweet sisters!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Expiration dates are funny things.  How is it that the bread I buy today can be good 2 weeks from now?  Or that cereal can last 2 years?  And how about canned goods?  How long can they really be good for me?  I know that most of the time the dates are real, but sometimes they are just there to protect the manufacturer.  During college, I stayed one semester with an old lady who was a friend of the family.  We had a sweet time together, but this dear soul had not thrown anything away in decades, including her food.  I remember a night when she pulled out a can of barbecued pork (which, by the way, I didn't even know came in a can), and she prepared a meal.  It had a definite smell.  I reached into the trash and picked up the can....yep, expired 7 years prior.  Not being one to hurt feelings, I determined to eat the lethal substance and suffer the consequences.  Her younger sister was with us that night with her persnickety little terrier.  The dog wouldn't go near the pork - smart dog.  I will never forget that distinct flavor....the flavor of aluminum.  All flavor of BBQ had left years ago.  I ate pure tin, it would seem, and I managed to do it with a straight face; although, much prayer went up during that meal.  And, no, I didn't die.  I didn't even get sick, believe it or not.  I guess that's what happens when mushy aluminum meets a stomach of steel.

Speaking of expiration dates, I'm not sure if you've noticed, but the world did not end a couple of weeks ago as we had heard that it might in the news.  My son was fascinated with the elderly gentleman who had predicted the end.  We talked about him frequently leading up to the date of our supposed demise.  Matthew was concerned that the man would take his life if his predictions weren't true.  He wanted to put people on alert on the old guy's behalf.  The man truly believed - and has since changed the prediction to be some time in October - but didn't Jesus say that, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." (Matthew 24:36)  Why, then, are people so persistent with their thoughts on the matter? Clearly, we do not have that important piece of information.

If we don't know the expiration date, what are we to do?  The truth is that I don't know when the apples in my fruit bowl will expire.  Some may go bad in 3 days, and some may be good for 2 weeks.  It's hard to say.  There are so many factors involved.  I wouldn't dare speculate; I will just be vigilant on the fruit bowl.

It's easy to get preoccupied with extraneous details.  It's easy to get bogged down in the how's, where's, why's of our Bible speculation when all that really matters is the Who.  If we began to live our lives in a way that magnifies Who God is, we would be so much more effective as believers and warriors in the Kingdom of God.  Our hearts should be so filled with the person of Jesus that we are salt and light in every moment to the people around us.  I can't be so concerned with when the Lord will return as I am with how He will find me when He gets here.  In fact, I should be filled to overflowing right this minute so that the moment I come across someone in need, I will have what that person needs to find Christ.  2 Timothy 4:2 tells us to "preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season."  Because we don't know the season of His return, we should walk around ready, grabbing the hands of everyone we see so that they, too, can be ready when He gets here.

I'm sure that my fridge needs purging...that there are one or two things in there that could be tossed... Expiration dates are handy, but they only really come in food.  Let's be ready for anything, friends, because I'm not quite ready to expire!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


I haven't been one to bake much bread.  Growing up, we ate a lot of biscuits and corn bread, but now that I am older, I just stick with the corn bread.  I really like a nice hearty European loaf of bread, though, and it is something that I should probably pursue baking.  I love to be able to see bits of wheat and oats and seeds.  I like the added crunch to my teeth.  ....but I love the modern convenience of going to a store to pick it up.  I can't even begin to imagine what the people before us went through in order to get a loaf of bread!  Automatically, my mind wanders to one of my favorite Bible stories - the story of Ruth.

Naomi, a widow, also lost her 2 sons.  Their wives were going to accompany Naomi back to her homeland, but she released them from the promise to go with her.  Ruth, however, would not leave Naomi's side.  She continued on to Naomi's land and Naomi's people.  Ruth was an outsider, to be sure.  She and her mother-in-law were very poor, so Ruth had to go gather bits of grain left in the fields by the harvesters.  This was just a small step above begging.  But Ruth caught the eye of Boaz, the field's owner.  Everyone knew that Naomi had released her from coming, but everyone also knew that Ruth was faithful to help her mother-in-law.  Her kindness plucked the chords of his heart, and he told his workers, "Let grain from the bundles fall purposely for her." Ruth 2:16  In other words, they were to take handfuls of their gathering and drop them so that Ruth could have enough.

Many of us have known seasons where we kind of felt like Ruth - just a small step above begging for what we need.  Sometimes we think that we aren't worthy of blessings, and sometimes we think very highly of ourselves - we think that we are due the entire field, but we're not.  It belongs to the Master.  God knows exactly the amount of grain that we have available to us.  Just like Boaz to Ruth, He will not let us suffer.  God is our true Kinsman Redeemer, the one Who pays our debt and brings us home.  Along the way, He gives us handfuls on purpose, knowing all along that we will have more than enough to meet our needs.  You are not forgotten.  Trust God.  He cares for you and will make sure that you have what you need when you need it.

I'm glad that I do not need to harvest my own grains and mill them myself.  I'm sure I could do it if the circumstances demanded and if the right tools were in my possession.  Meanwhile, I enjoy local bakeries and healthy markets.  I can pretty much get the things I need to create and excellent loaf, but when it comes to the situations of life, I'm so glad that the Master of the fields notices our needs and cares for every one.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Kernels of Corn

I just got back from a great weekend with my extended family.  It was so good seeing cousins after such a long time.  One of my cousins has the family farm, and he still plants crops in the old fields.  One of the things that he has been planting is corn. He takes the corn and dries it out and then grinds it down into grits and corn meal.  He uses the corn sheller that my grandfather used.  Two years ago, my sisters and I drove to the old home, and we tried our hand at making our own grits and meal.  I'm sure it was entertaining for my cousins to see the "citifolk" (my sisters and I) getting so dirty from the scalp down and loving it!  We had never done anything like it, and we probably never will - unless we make it back down there with our own kids!  My cousins have perfected the display and do it for school groups, scouts, homeschoolers.  It is such an interesting thing to see something as ordinary as cornbread and how it evolves from the field to the table. 

If you think of a giant field of corn and then move to the potential ears therein, can you even begin to imagine the number of kernels that are there?  And if you take those kernels and grind them down into grits, how much more could be counted?  The process is only multiplied further when corn meal is made.  This is exponential growth.  The one field becomes many ears which become many kernels which become many grains.  This is the kind of math that God practices!

So many times, we feel like our lives are not worth much.  We think that we aren't accomplishing the great things that we just knew in our hearts that we should be doing.  I often have found myself thinking that I have lost all potential, that I am not doing as much as I should.  But if we each consider ourselves a field, all we have to do is touch the ears of corn within our borders.  We aren't responsible for every kernel.  There is a downline, if you will, of outreach that should be occurring.  In other words, I am responsible to be a light to the people who are in my family, my work, my community.  The ultimate goal is that those people, then, take something from me and in turn influence the people in their realms of influence.  From there, the next level turns and takes it on.  If you can picture yourself making an impact on just 12 lives, and those 12 turn and touch 12 and those 12 turn and touch 12 and so on, in just nine cycles, you have impacted every person on the planet.  When you look at your life in terms of personal impact, this make the task seem so much less daunting, doesn't it?  We can make a difference in our families, in our communities and in our world.  In fact, we will never even know the extent of our influence until we are face to face with God and all is revealed.  I have a feeling we will be surprised at the ways that we have touched the lives of others. 

I think of my cousins who bring kids to the farm and teach them about the simplicity of good food.  The potential to make an impact on the lives of those who visit is great.  The kindness that is displayed can warm the heart of a child in desperate need of love. 

Likewise, when we encounter a person in need a prayer offered up could do so much to bring great light to a lonely soul.  I challenge each of you to be a light.  We don't even need to be a beacon!  We just need to bring Jesus to the people nearby, and then we can encourage them to do the same.  In fact, it may not be the huge assemblies that will make the most impact in the end.  It will most likely be the people like you and like me who have lived lives of example and gently led others to do the same who will impact this world in the greatest fashion. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Family Reunions

What shall I cook? We are headed off to Alabama for a family reunion.  As usual, someone will fry the chicken, etc, and we are to bring sides and desserts.  It sounds pretty easy, but I always wonder what in the world I should fix that would reflect who I am to the family that I only ever seen once in several years.  Should I make a more metropolitan dish with worldly spices? or something super healthy that nudges the larger members to make wise choices? or should I keep it real and make the home cooking that my grandmother would have done? I haven't been to this particular reunion in about 12 years, so these are the things that have crossed my mind on a superficial level.  But at the heart of things, I still miss my grandmother who passed away 24 years ago.  Many of my aunts and uncles are gone, as well.  And I worry about many of my cousins who had not previously made their faith known.  Do they know Jesus now?  Family reunions always bring up the many thoughts that lie dormant for most of the time. 

In truth, every Sunday at church is a family reunion, of sorts.  If we think about it, the Bible tells us that we are all joint heirs with Jesus...which basically means that we are adopted as daughters and sons of God, the Father.  With this in mind, we all get together for fellowship and the food of the Word - a family reunion!  When my family gets together, which is only once a year, everyone laughs and tells old stories and dreams of the future.  Not one minute is wasted arguing about what kind of background music we should hear...or when we should take up the donation for next year's paper goods.  No time is wasted thinking about why my dad may have prayed 30 seconds too long or why my dish is not the favored choice.  We don't worry about the trivial things; instead, we fellowship.  I just bet that this is what God is looking for when we gather together under His family name. 

1 Corinthians 1:10 say,s "I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought."  Wouldn't it be wonderful if all of our church family reunions were so orderly and godly?  And wouldn't it be perfect if our biological families could be so agreeable all the time?  This is our goal.  Instead of the continual problems between us, we should be growing up in our walk with God to a point where we can behave ourselves and get along.  This would please the Father. 

 I still don't know what to bring.  Since it will be in south Alabama, I'll probably just have to stop by a store and pick up fruit and dip.  I can't really make anything fabulous and ride in the car for 10 hours...so my dish will reflect my favorite food:  fruit! 

I hope your Memorial Day get together will be fun and agreeable!