Monday, January 26, 2015

Rejoicing in Hope of the Glory of God

I came across this verse a week or two ago as I was reading my Bible.

...and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:2)

And it just struck me like it never has before. Christians are able to rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. So???

Hope, in the Bible, is not a nebulous idea. It's not a vague wishing for the impossible. It is a confident watching for something that is definitely going to happen.

The hope of Jesus Christ's return makes us purify ourselves as He is pure. (1 John 3:2)

The hope of Jesus Christ's return brings us comfort when believers die.

The hope of God's glory makes us rejoice.

We rejoice because we are certain-God is going to be glorified in every situation.

That sinner converted-God is glorified.

The gospel preached-God is glorified.

That mass shooting-God will be glorified.

That death-God will be glorified.

That cancer diagnosis-God will be glorified.

That infidelity-God will be glorified.

That financial crisis-God will be glorified.

Did you notice the change in tenses there? In some instances, we can see exactly how God is glorified. In other instances it may be more obscure. But, the fact of the matter is, we rejoice because we have the assurance that God will be glorified. He will be lifted up, worshipped, praised. In all circumstances. Even the horrendous ones. Maybe especially in the horrendous ones.

Of this I am confident.

For Thou hast created all things and for Thy pleasure they are and were created. (Revelation 4:11)

Surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee: the remainder of wrath shalt Thou restrain. (Psalm 76:10)

Do we believe this? Do we live like we believe this?

Something to ponder on a Monday...

Friday, January 23, 2015

A Superbowl Broiled Pizza Burger Recipe

I've decided that I am going to share my favorite internet reads of the week here on Fridays. I read a vast array of things, so I am going to try and share 4-5 articles on a variety of topics. They may be funny. They may not be. I will give a teaser so you don't go into anything blind.
because: new lens, and cookies...
IHOD: The Art of Getting Dressed. Because I totally imbibe the idea of getting dressed. And dressing for the occasion. I may only be sitting at the library on my working Thursdays, but I always dress professionally. And I only camp out in yoga pants all day when I am sick or depressed.

Huff Post: I'm Not Pregnant, It's Just My Belly (warning: some language). As a person who gets asked monthly if I am pregnant, I loved this post about loving our non-pregnant bellies (and bodies).

An Open Letter to All the People Writing/Sharing Open Letters About What's Wrong with the Church by Witney Capps. My news feeds have been flooded lately with these kinds of what's wrong with the church posts. I think this author captures my feelings much more succinctly and accurately than I'd be able to articulate to you.

20 things I want my Daughters to Understand About Being a Woman by Your Mom has a Blog. Especially #1, 4, 18, 19.

7 Ways to Hate a Book by Modern Mrs. Darcy. Yes, yes and yes again. I'd add 2 more ways-"letter/email" format and bratty protagonists.

I love how you can easily tell what I was focusing if life would only be so clear....
So, the other day, Mr. Hippie and I were discussing healthy eating. The thing is, we aim to eat healthy foods-fruits and vegetables, and the like, most of the time. Which allows us room to eat the not quite as healthy things at other times. Because, obviously, I'm not just baking and photographing cookies...

A good framework for us is about 80/20. Good, healthy food about 80% of the time, and then less healthy options the remaining 20%. It is a goal that is workable and sustainable for our family.

We eat things like stir-fry and we eat things like Easy Broiled Pizza Burgers. They aren't dripping in calories, but they aren't exactly the picture of health either. They are the picture of ease and deliciousness.

I was able to whip these up one evening between grocery shopping and heading out to Bible Study. It was filling and enjoyable, and everyone was happy to eat their share.

I used Velveeta, since I had it. It worked marvelously.

I am pretty sure this would be a great recipe for Superbowl next Sunday.

Easy Broiled Pizza Burgers
1-1/2 pounds ground beef
1-1/2 Tbsp minced onion
1 Tbsp cornstarch
2 (14-1/2 oz) cans diced tomates, undrained
1-1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp onion salt
15 slices processed American cheese, divided
6 hamburger buns, split

-Mince onion.
-In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until the meat is no longer pink. Drain. Sprinkle with cornstarch.
-Stir in the tomatoes, oregano, salt, and onion salt. Cook uncovered for 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Add 9 cheese slices, cook and stir until cheese is melted and blended.
-Preheat broiler to high.
-Cut remaining cheese slices diagonally. Place split buns cut side up, on a baking sheet. Spoon about 1/4 cup of meat mixture onto each bun and top with each with half a cheese slice.
-Broil 6-8” from the heat for 4 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
-Feeds 6. Great with potato chips, and carrots and celery.

How's that for any easy-peasy, delicious weekend recipe?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Back to the Basics

It's January.

For me, life boils down to one of two options...hibernate for two months, or get back to the basics.

I guess hibernation really isn't an option. Bummer. Though it is so appealing. Burying myself in my bed under my nice thick comforter sounds so warm and comforting. Besides, I have a sufficient view of the snowy outdoors from there...

Okay,'s really NOT an option.

The thing about January, and winter in January, is that the scheduled existence that saved the day and allowed life to happen in the fall and through the holidays, suddenly becomes overwhelming. While in September and October and November and December, I could countenance regularly scheduled activities every night of the week, now it just becomes a never ending rhythm of busyness. There is no light at the end of the tunnel, because the tunnel has months still to go.

The scope and burden and unending makes for not many options. Some of which are more feasible than others.

1. Drop out of all activities. (refer back to the aforementioned hibernation idea)

2. Persevere through the craziness and maybe lose your mind-to say nothing of your sanctification.

3. Get back to the basics. Pare down the unnecessary. Stick to the commitments. Carve out space for what you love.

The thing is, I don't want to drop our evening activities. There are good reasons that we signed on for each of the activities, that still apply. So, we still have things scheduled for every Monday, Tuesday and Friday night.

But, beyond that, I am going to be intentional about how I use my time. I am going to fill it with what I love. I am going to fill my time with the things that challenge, grow, and encourage me.

I am going to fill my surroundings with beauty and with things that challenge, grow and encourage me. And this is how I will survive the winter. Because it's how I have survived most other winters.

My January/winter list looks like this...

Getting up early 3-4 mornings a week. By early, I mean 4:45 or 5:00. Conscientiously getting up early helps me be conscientious about going to bed on time. Regularly getting up early forms a habit and thus makes it easier to get up early. It's not the shock to my system that once a week is. Really.

Swimming 2-3 miles per week and running 3-4 days a week. I may not pick up my regular Monday runs again until late February, but I am working on running (slipping, sliding, plodding) 3 times a week-at least 3 miles, but also accomplishing at least two 6 or 7 mile runs before we leave for Spain. And the swimming is just good. The flip turns are whipping my abs back into shape. I also may be signing up for a Pilates class or just buying another Pilates dvd. It's also helping my core (they call it a power house-same diff). Physical exercise is worth its weight in gold as far as mental outlook goes, and the physical benefits are nothing to sneeze at either.

Reading. I read a lot over Christmas break and I am trying to continue the trend through the winter. This takes work. It takes self-control to shut down the computer and read. It takes presence of mind to remember to bring a book with me for the times I may be away and have some down time. It is worth it to find minutes in my day to feed my soul.

Dates. We are making Wednesday or Thursday nights our date night. It's just going to happen. Last week we took our Sequence board to Olive Garden (after 8:00) and played while eating dessert and appetizers. It was fun to just have fun together. To date again. The week before we went to a pizza joint, and then perused Barnes and Noble for an hour or so.

Buy the flowers, burn the candles, wear the lipstick, drink the tea, and apply the lotion. Its about surrounding myself with beauty in the midst of the gloom. It's about enjoy the luxuries I already possess. It's about reveling in the glories and small graces of the day to day. I go back to this theme every January. Because January is when schedule no longer reigns supreme. January is when I always arrive at the conclusion that these things aren't luxuries, they are necessities. They are life.

Hospitality. I am an introvert and I don't thrive on crowds, but I still need solid interaction with people. On a regular basis. We have been very intentional this month about inviting our people over and/or connecting face to face with our people. It leads to good, deep conversations, on which I do thrive.

Ironically enough, this list closely follows my what worked for me, and what didn't work for me, in 2014 list. Except, cleaning is still not making a bigger cut of the pie. But, I am trying to continue the great things and shore up the needed things.

What basics are you working back into your life and schedule since the advent of 2015?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Emptied that Thou Shouldest Fill Me

The Hebrew word that we translate consecrate (consecration) means fill your hands.

Isn't that interesting?

When we think of consecration, we imagine giving of ourselves or resources to God. But, actually, it is receiving something from God.

In Leviticus 8, there is the account of Aaron and his sons being consecrated for the priesthood. The paragraph from verses 25-29 illustrates this consecration picture.

Moses kills an offering, and places parts of the animal in Aaron's empty hands. He then takes those parts from Aaron's hands and burns them on the altar as a burnt offering. Completely consumed.

The paragraph ends...they were consecrations for a sweet savor, an offering made by fire unto the Lord.

There is nothing that we offer to the Lord that He has not first given to us. We approach Him empty. He fills. We give back as an offering.

...present your bodies a living sacrifice-holy, acceptable unto God; this is your reasonable act of worship. (Romans 12:1)

At every cross roads in my life lately I've had the mental picture of empty hands. I've mentioned that before. It's empty of my agenda. Empty of my resources. Empty so that God can fill me.

I'm at a crux again. Between churches. Between service opportunities. Between. Empty hands.

I have a choice before me. To try an ooch and scooch and fill my hands myself. Or, expectantly wait for God to fill them. With what He has in mind for me and mine.

Another tandem thought to the consecration idea: the burnt offering is completely consumed. It is completely for the pleasure of God. God fills, and we freely offer back our best. 100%. Without reservation. Without strings attached. Knowing that God's plan for the use of our offering may look entirely different than what we picture.

Emptied that Thou shouldest fill me, a clean vessel in Thy hand,
With no power but as Thou gives, graciously with each command.

Channels only, blessed Master, but with all Thy wondrous power,
Flowing through us, Thou canst use us, every day and every hour.

-Mary E. Maxwell

This consecration process is a continual flowing of empty, filled, giving back, empty, filled, giving back.

So, my words for this year are both empty and filled. They seem opposite, but the one allows for the other. And that is what I am looking for.

Emptied, filled, giving back. Consecrated.

I wrote a post about goals for the New Year over at Womanhood with Purpose. Check it out. (here)

Happy Monday!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Sesame Chicken and Broccoli Stir-fry

The internet is such a huge thing, with millions of voices and opinions shouting for your attention. But, it is no where near all bad. There is good content that encourages me, challenges my thinking, and makes me laugh.

Like this...
source because, seriously, who has time to do all this AND sew?
How to Stay Sane on the Internet by Emily Freeman. She includes a 15 point manifesto on what she will and will not do on the internet. So practical.

Burn the Candles by Shauna Niequist. A reminder to do the special for our own enjoyment.

Countdown to Church by Mornings with Jesus. I busted a gut over this.

When You Can't Shake, Shake, Shake it Off by The Gospel Coalition. I think the thought shared in this article about praying for another's pain when our own unforgiveness and and bitterness surface, is so practical. 

Surviving Whole Foods by Kelly MacLeari. I think there may be some language but it's satire at its best. 
this is just for fun because fresh baked bread is so beautiful...
I've been having fun these past few weeks playing with my new camera lens and many new recipes. We have tried 5 new recipes this week. I can't even remember what our old favorites used to be. We have so many new favorites that I have discovered in the past year or two.

One of our new favorites is stir-fry. I shared the Chicken Asparagus Stir-fry a couple weeks ago. I like stir-fry because they are generally fairly quick dinners. They are chock full of vegetables. And they are mostly gluten-free and dairy-free. Not that either are a factor in how I feed my family, but they are great recipes to have on hand for company.

Today I am sharing another stir-fry recipe. Sesame Chicken and Garlicky Broccoli. It only has 8 ingredients, so it is fairly streamlined and simple.

What I like about actually cooking this recipe is the smell of the sesame oil as you heat it in the pan. It is a slightly toasty scent, reminiscent of bagels.

So, for stir-fry, the most time consuming aspect is the chopping of the veggies. This one only had broccoli, which made it quick. I have another stir-fry to try one of these days. It has carrots, 2 kinds of peppers, onions, broccoli and maybe even asparagus. That's a chopping time commitment.

Sesame Chicken Breasts with Garlicky Broccoli (Stir-fry) 

1-1/2 Tbsp sesame oil
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 tbsp sesame seeds
1-1/2 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup Chinese black bean garlic sauce
3/4 tsp black pepper
1-1/2 tsp garlic powder
6 cups broccoli florets

-Cut the chicken into 1” pieces. Chop the broccoli.
-Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook, stirring, until golden brown on all sides, about 5 minutes.
-Add the sesame seeds and stir to coat the chicken with them. Cook 1-2 minutes, until the seeds turn golden. Add the broth, black bean sauce, and pepper, and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes.
-Sprinkle the garlic powder over all the broccoli, and arrange the broccoli over the simmering liquid. Cover and simmer until the broccoli is crisp-tender, 3-5 minutes. Serve over rice (brown or white) with salad if desired.
*I actually used 8 garlic cloves instead of garlic powder, bc I didn't have garlic powder. It worked just fine.
-Serves 6.

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Profound Thoughts to Accompany Your Coffee

Well, maybe not profound. But these are some of the thoughts that have been accompanying my coffee this week...

-Meres has a cold. And she genuinely doesn't feel very good. How do I know? Besides the glassy eyed, runny nose thing she has going on? Well, she left the dinner table last night because she wanted to lie down. Pretty soon I heard her hollering for help. She wanted to get her conjammers (her word) on so that she could go to sleep. She was out, a mere 15 minutes later. At 6:30. She woke up about 9:00 for an hour, and then was out until 8:00 this morning.

-I've been reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. Many of my friends had it on their best books of 2015 lists. I do have to say that I am enjoying it. One thought that I am pondering, but not settled in my mind about, is that we often operate from a position of scarcity. Not enough...time, sleep, audience, etc.

Another thought is to not parent by shaming. Guilt is one thing. Shame is a whole other. More fodder.

But, the thought that is really sticking with me-that I keep returning to over and over again-is the thought that anger is a secondary emotion. It is the socially acceptable emotion. But it is only indicative of a deeper problem. I think that is very true, so when I have been angry-annoyed-irritated, I've been trying to dig down to the why. What is really bugging me?

-I've been contemplating layers also. No, not hair layers. Layers of events and emotions. This past Sunday was our last Sunday at our church. This is the church I've been at my entire married life. It is the only church my kids have known. When we made the decision, there was a measure of relief and even excitement. The ending of one chapter and the beginning of another.

But, what bit me in the butt yesterday was just some profound mourning. Mourning for the end of a chapter. I totally didn't expect the mourning. I never do, for some odd reason. I spent the majority of Monday morning in bed, alternating between crying and crying some more. I was feeling rather lost, and set adrift.

I'm better today. I'm thankful for friends who pray for me when I can't quite formulate a prayer for myself. And I am thankful for friends who listen and say, it's okay. I was challenged in a great message last night that if we need direction, the place to look is the Word of God.

Regardless, yesterday reminded me that things are never as black and white as we'd hope. Life and actions are nuanced.

Also, I wrote a post yesterday filled with all the feelings. I decided to sleep on it and run it past Mr. Hippie before publishing. Which was prudent move. In the light of a less emotional state, it was probably good to have gotten it off my chest then and to delete it now forever...

-Back packing in Spain is taking up mental space. We know how we are getting to Spain. We know where we are staying in Madrid (and arrangements are in the works for Barcelona). Until yesterday, our travel arrangements from Madrid to our friends' town, and then from their town to Barcelona, were still up in the air. And I have no idea what we are doing in Madrid or Barcelona.

(if you've ever visited either of these cities, let me know what your don't miss, don't bother activities are)

And there is so much to do before we go. Like trip stuff, and life stuff. LC needs jeans. Meres needs jeans. 1099s need made for the 2014 tax year. Payroll needs finished before the 1099s can be filled out. Menus need assembled for She Plans Dinner. It is going to be a busy 3 weeks.

There is a reason we take off in February. Weather here is not conducive to roofing (or much else, for that matter). But, I always forget what a challenge it is to complete tax stuff before we go on our trips. I'm glad I didn't schedule this for January, like our trip to Indonesia and Japan, but still...

Btw, I am totally pumped about only taking back packs to Spain. Seriously?! How convenient and portable and scaled back. Hopefully my vision will pan out.=)

-Have you seen the viral video clip that someone took of a woman getting beat up by another woman? There is like a crowd of 9-10 bystanders who are watching and no one comes to the defense of the victim except her two year old son. I had seen the clip in my news feeds but have not watched it. While getting an eye brow wax I saw Dr. Phil on television talking with the victim.

And I wonder what our world has come to that a person's first impulse is to make a video of violence instead of stopping it.

It makes my spirit sigh with heaviness. Really.

Dr. Phil polled his audience-who would record, who would defend. No one raised their hands about recording. Everyone raised their hands about defending. But, I think that people aren't being honest with themselves.

I mean, we don't want to look horrendous by saying, oh yeah, that's what I'd do. But the fact of the matter is, this is not the first video recording of violence or even stupidity. By "normal" people of "normal" people.

It made me think of the similarity to this phenomena and that of the Colosseum in ancient Rome. People watching other people be attacked by still other people or by animals.

It is kind of scary when you think about it.

-Pilates aren't for the faint of heart. So, my mailman (he is the quintessential mailman, seriously), with whom we have a very good relationship, suggested that I take up Pilates to help strengthen my core. I borrowed a dvd from the library, Easy Pilates. Snort. Either that woman has much longer arms, and way shorter legs than me, or she's made of rubber-but there is not much easy about easy pilates. Just sayin. I can feel the difference in my core after doing the exercise though. It makes me want to stand straighter and suck it in, up and down-respectively.

I'll leave you with that particular mental picture...What's been on your mind lately?

Monday, January 12, 2015

An Unchanging Standard of Holiness

Holiness is the most often mentioned attribute of God in the Bible. The word holy is used 546 times, with holiness adding another 24 times. (in the KJV) It even out paces love (used 442 times) by over 100 mentions. 

God is holy, holy, holy.

And God sets the standard of holiness. 

Be ye holy as I am holy.

God is the one who says, this is what I expect. This is my standard. And the standard is Him.

We do not look to those around us to set the standard of holiness. We don't look to those around us to define holiness. We look to God. Holiness is not something that changes from culture to culture, generation to generation, because God does not change. He is the same yesterday, today, forever.

The final chapter of the book of Exodus and the first chapter of Leviticus vividly illustrates this fact. 

Moses and the children of Israel built The Tabernacle. After it was all put together, the cloud covered the tent and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. The Shekinah glory, symbolizing the very presence of God, was smack dab in the center of the Israelites' encampment.

This event, at the close of Exodus, followed by the very next verses taking up the idea of offerings and sacrifices for sin and atonement.


Because whenever we are in the presence of God, in His light and holiness, our sin becomes oh so apparent. 

And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world and men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil. For everyone that does evil hates the light, neither comes to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that does truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest that they are wrought in God. (John 3:19-21)

Our sin is apparent in the light of God's glory and holiness, but it has been atoned for. Leviticus is full of sacrifices and laws that emphasize the holiness of God, the standards of God, and the way an unholy people can live in the presence of a holy God. It's all in the blood.

If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)

Walking in the light reveals our sinfulness and the only real option we have for cleansing.

Thus, believers shouldn't shy away from the topic of God's holiness. We should not apologize for it. We should not try to amend God's standards to fit with current trends. 

We should walk in the light. 

Come let us walk in the light of the Lord. (Isaiah 2:5)

God's presence is not a burden. It is a blessing. It provides protection, direction, relationship.

Have you worshipped God for His holiness lately?