Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Shepherds and the Lamb & Merry Christmas

In the darkness of a typical night, sitting on a hillside outside the town of Bethlehem, some unsuspecting shepherds received word of God's redemptive entrance into the world.

Shepherds were ordinary folk.  They never donned royal robes or mingled with the leaders of the land.  They smelled of earth and sheepskin, not oil and perfume.  Simple people with simple jobs.  Take care of the sheep.  Protect the flocks.  Watch the lambs.

Suddenly the glory of God lighted the darkness of that night.  For God had chosen to make these ordinary shepherds the first recipients of the greatest joy-filled news ever told.

A baby had been born.  He was swaddled up, and could be found in a manger somewhere in Bethlehem.

The angel described this baby as Savior, Christ the Lord.  Upon the utterance of this news, the whole sky was filled with a multitude of heavenly hosts saying: "Glory to God..."

The glory of God coming to some smelly shepherds on a hillside?  Why here?  Why were these ordinary people the first ones to hear?  The fulfillment of God's promise was present.  God's Son had been ushered into the world as a tiny baby.  Shouldn't this miracle be told to someone more influential, someone who could really make a difference and spread the news to all the people for whom the angel spoke?

And yet the shepherds seem to be a most fitting audience.  For not only did they understand the task of shepherding, they also understood sheep.

They may not have completely understood Who they were looking for, but as they searched the town of Bethlehem for the baby that night, these shepherds were searching for one who was a Shepherd and a Lamb.

They found the Good Shepherd lying in a manger that night.  The precious Lamb of God was the object of their search.

It only makes sense that God would choose to allow some simple shepherds to be the first ones to come and sit at the feet of Jesus.  Shepherds, who excelled at watching lambs, now with amazement and wonder, watched the Lamb of God.

As you celebrate Christmas this day, may you sit in wonder and rejoice in Jesus, the Good Shepherd and the Lamb, who came to take away the sin of the world.

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Our Weekend: The Beginning of Advent

Happy December!  Happy Advent!  I love this time of year, and I especially love it through the eyes of my children.  We had a great Thanksgiving week; my husband was off from work the entire week, and we thoroughly enjoyed being at home and being together.  All of us were sick with colds and such, but that just made staying inside all the more acceptable.

We decided to put up our Christmas tree on Friday night and I'm so glad we did.  In years past, I have been the lone decorator of the tree {with the exception of the lights--that's always the man's job}, and I missed those days of decorating the tree with my parents and siblings.  For the first time, my oldest two girls were interested and capable of decorating the tree.  It was truly thrilling to watch their excitement as they carefully placed ornaments on the branches.  And I only rearranged a few, just to make sure the tree wouldn't tip over.  Letting go of my 'I want a perfectly decorated, pinnable Christmas tree' was quite freeing.  And my girls appreciated the bit of responsibility they were given.

We took the kids out shopping on Black Friday, just to peruse the toys and have them point out things they liked.  We're trying to teach them about contentment and being greedy and giving -- these are hard things for little people to learn.  Contentment is hard for us adults to learn!  But, it was fun to watch them get excited about what they would give to each other for Christmas.  We've since done some ear-whispering about ideas and I love how they're learning the joy of giving.

Yesterday evening we ventured out to the yard with our tripod and camera remote to try and capture that perfect family photo for our Christmas card.  I had pretty high expectations and some great ideas for poses.  Let me just tell you that's not the best way to try and photograph four children, two of whom can't walk or follow instructions.  I was lamenting over the fact that there weren't any perfect ones.  Bradley's response was, "Good.  Because we're not perfect.  This is us, it's more real."  So, if you too haven't gotten that perfect photo, embrace the imperfect.

I took the week off from cleaning and laundry, so today's tasks are pretty simple:  clean, organize, and wash. My goal with laundry, as of late, is really just to actually put the folded clothes away.  That to me is success. There are still two laundry baskets full of the kids' clothes sitting in our bedroom from last week.  They're folded, just never made it to the dressers.  My poor children can't ever find their underwear!  Maybe today will be different.

This was our weekend, and a little bit of the week.  Back to routine today, but I think I'm ready.

I want to focus my attention today on Jesus, the Light of the World, who entered our darkness as a tiny baby.  His light has pierced the darkness of my heart, and as I go through the tasks today of cleaning, correcting, counting my blessings, and caring for others, I want that light to shine out in powerful ways that my children might know Jesus a bit more.

Linking up here.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Begging my Heart to Praise, 30 Day Praise Challenge Week 4

One Sunday morning a few weeks ago, the Youth Pastor at our church gave a call to worship, like he does many Sundays.  This particular day, I was sitting at the piano, helping with the music.  We had just finished singing Matt Redman's Ten Thousand Reasons, one of my favorite songs.  {If you've never heard it or don't know what I'm talking about, just click here to see and hear it}.

The chorus of the song goes like this:

Bless the Lord, O my soul, O my soul
Worship His holy name.
Sing like never before, O my soul.
I'll worship Your holy name.

And our Youth Pastor said something like this,
"Do you realize that this song is speaking to our souls?  It's like we're grabbing our soul by the collar and screaming, 'BLESS GOD.  BLESS GOD.  BLESS GOD'."

I've had that image in my head now for a long time.  And this is what I have to do some days, this begging my heart, my soul, to bless God, to praise Him, even when it's hard, when it seems like there's nothing to praise Him for in whatever challenging moment I'm facing.  

I love what Ann Voskamp wrote just yesterday on her blog, her own story of choosing to give thanksgiving to God, blessing Him, even when it's hard.  I could never say it like she does, so just go read her blog post, if you haven't.

The Psalms are full of verses about praising God.  And believe me, there is much for which to praise God.  Even when I have to scream at my soul to do it.

So, today, the day before we pause to celebrate Thanksgiving Day, I leave you with a Psalm that talks about blessing God.  Blessing Him for the countless ways that He demonstrates who He is and what He can do for sinful, praise-struggling-souls like me.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!  
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, 
who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.
But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, 
and his righteousness to children's children,
to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.
The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.
Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word!
Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will!
Bless the Lord, all his works, in all places of his dominion.  
Bless the Lord, O my soul!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Sausage Stuffing Recipe, the Best Stuffing You'll Ever Eat

Thanksgiving is less than a week away!  I can't even believe it!  If you're looking for some last minute recipes to add to your menu, you'll definitely want to include this one.  Just be sure to buy an extra pound of butter; you'll need 3/4 of a pound for this recipe alone!

Four years ago we spent Thanksgiving with my husband's sister and her family in Las Vegas.  We were living in Monterey at the time, so we decided to make the 8 hour drive and it was totally worth it.  Isabella was almost one, and I was about 34 weeks pregnant with Mallory.  We had a great time with them, seeing their new home, visiting some of the sights downtown and being together.

At the Bellagio
My sister-in-law made this awesome stuffing for our Thanksgiving meal and I've made it every year since.  I'm a big fan of stuffing, so when I say this is the best stuffing ever, I mean it.  I think my younger sister might even be okay with it instead of the Stove Top variety, which is saying a lot for her! {By the way, head over to her blog for a great Sweet Potato Casserole recipe}.

Be sure to start on this the day before your feast, as the bread needs to sit out overnight.  I like to sit on the couch while I rip up bread the night before; it's much more comfortable and you can enjoy your friends and family at the same time.

Sausage Stuffing

2 loaves of bread, torn up and set out overnight {I used French bread loaves purchased the day before}
1.5 pounds sage sausage
3 sticks butter, unsalted
1 1/2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
1 Tablespoon salt
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion

Brown sausage in a large skillet, until no longer pink.  Place on a paper towel lined plate to absorb the grease.  Melt butter in a large skillet with poultry seasoning, salt, celery and onion.  Cook until onions are soft.  Place the sausage in the pan and mix well.

Using a large bowl or pot, mix the sausage mixture with the bread.  Then, add 1/4-1/2 cups of water until all the bread is moist.  Place in a greased pan, cover with foil and bake at 450F until the bread starts to slightly brown, stirring every so often.  Add water if it needs more moisture.

Be sure to see this post about a new Etsy shop that recently opened and the verse print they made for me!

Roots by the Stream Verse Print from Love & a Prayer

I have something exciting to share with you today!  Right after I finished  my 31 Days to Thrive series, a friend of mine announced on her blog that she had opened an Etsy shop.  I clicked over to her store and saw some beautiful prints she had created of verses and quotes.  I noticed that she also mentioned she would do custom orders.  I quickly emailed her to find out if she would be willing to create a print based on the verse in Jeremiah that I used as my 'theme' verse for my series.

She sent me a proof, we tweaked it a bit, and I LOVE what she came up with!


This verse is available in this blue/grey shade, as well as with a chalkboard background.

I haven't had a chance to purchase a frame for this yet, but I wanted to share it with you anyway because Amanda is graciously offering my readers a discount on any print you purchase through the end of the month!

Here are some of the other items in her shop:



{Fun little fact: my husband quoted this from Pride and Prejudice when he proposed to me!}


These would make great Christmas gifts, and they're the perfect addition to any room in your home.  Her prices are very reasonable and she was great to work with in creating a custom order.

Head on over to her shop and check it out!

Love & a Prayer on Etsy

For a discount, just enter OFS10 in the promotion code to receive 10% off any print through the end of this month.

Thanks, Amanda, for this offer, and for your hard work in making this printable for me!

May we thrive today as we dig our roots deep into the Stream, trusting Christ to bring about His perfect work in our hearts.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

30 Day Praise Challenge Week 3: A Continual Sacrifice

Praise can and should be a regular overflow of my life.  It's a decision, a choice to turn my thoughts outside of myself, my circumstances, my disappointments and to turn them to the Lord.

It's in the praising that I find joy.  It's in thankfulness and reflection that my heart can be quieted.  It's in Christ that I can stand when the cares of life threaten to push me over.

I was reminded of a verse in Hebrews:

"Through him {Jesus} then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name."  Hebrews 13:15

Praise is to be ongoing.  It's not something that starts and stops because we feel like it.  Praise is a sacrifice, an act that requires giving, concentration, deliberateness.

Just as I choose to not be anxious, to forgive those who have wronged me, to find my worth in God's eyes, to run to Jesus as the One who can satisfy every longing of my heart--and do these over and over again--so must I offer my praise to God.

So today, may we make a deliberate decision to praise God and praise Him over and over again.

I was encouraged by my friend's post yesterday about how God used one of the days of praise in her life.  Go visit her blog and be blessed.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Uses for Leftover Halloween Candy

We're now two weeks past Halloween and there's still a lingering collection of candy in our pantry.  Part of me wants to just throw it away so the temptation to indulge will be gone.  Thankfully, my kids love the fruity sticky stuff and leave the chocolate goodies behind.  Unfortunately, this means I end up eating said chocolate goodies.

Yesterday, as I stood there debating about which kind to snack on, I started thinking about how to use up all this candy.  Maybe you've wondered that too.  I've rounded up some creative ways to put candy into cakes, cookies, or to use it for other crafty projects.  You don't have to eat it in its simple form.  With a little bit of time and some creativity you can enjoy your Halloween candy without just sneaking it in the pantry.

Chocolate Chip Snickers Cookies

Twix Cake

This next one is actually a recipe for homemade sprinkles, which look really amazing!  But, if you look at the picture closely, they resemble the candy Nerds.  Use Nerds as sprinkles on a cake for an easy colorful display.

Skittle Straws

Trail Mix

Starburst Candy Sculptures

Sorting and Graphing with Sweet Tarts

Candy Train Game

Oh, and in case you're wondering, I didn't sneak any candy yesterday :).

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

30 Day Praise Challenge, Week 2

I don't always feel like praising.  Last week was one of those weeks.  Every day it seemed like something else went 'wrong' causing frustration, weariness, anger, and a general feeling of defeat.  There was no major crisis.  Just a lot of bed-wetting, crying babies, disobedient children, and a busy schedule.

Sometimes it's the littlest frustrations in life that rob me of a praise-filled heart.

This week I had to choose to praise, even when I didn't feel like it.  The Holy Spirit indwells me, He convicts me, instructs me, and guides me into all truth.  The truth is that God is worthy of praise.  Always.  At all times.

In those moments when I feel defeated, frustrated, angry, or just plain tired, I'm learning to stop and praise God for something.  Sometimes I have to start really simple, but if I keep going, praising God for various things, more things follow and before I know it my heart has been changed by praising God.

To overflow with praise is to be filled up with the One who is worthy of praise.

If I'm filled up with Him instead of my troubles, I can live a praise-filled life that spreads the fragrance of Christ to those around me.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

30 Day Praise Challenge, Week 1

Have you ever read a book and felt like the author wrote it just for you?  That's how I have felt each day as I've read through Becky Harling's book, the 30 Day Praise Challenge, over the past few days.  There are specific things in each day that we are encouraged to praise God for.  I'll share with you a few things that I've gleaned from each day.

day 1:
I was feeling particularly inadequate on this day regarding caring for Mason.  He had two therapy sessions back to back that day and by the time it was over, I was emotionally spent.  How was I ever going to help him learn how to talk?  And, how would I be able to do it?  I was at unrest in my spirit about caring for my son.

Then, I read these words:  "Every time you feel an uncertain angst in your soul, praise God immediately that He will give you discernment for that moment."

I definitely need God's wisdom, and if I can learn to praise God in advance, I would avoid unnecessary grumbling in my spirit.  He promises wisdom; I need only to ask.

day 2:
Tired is an understatement these days.  I'm sure you all can relate!  Life is busy and there are certain seasons for each of us that are more taxing than normal; I'm in one of those more taxing seasons.  And it's not just physical weariness, although I do feel that.  There's a soul-weary that comes from challenges, changes, circumstances we didn't expect, etc.

In Becky's prayer that day she says, "I praise You that when I feel exhausted, You invite me to rest in You, reassuring me that You are not demanding or harsh in Your expectations for me."

We have strength from a God who never grows tired or weary.

day 3:
This day was all about praising God for how He has made us.  Quite timely for me, who is hanging onto more pregnancy weight than I want to right now.  It was a good reminder to me that we were created in God's image, not to be skinny and feel good about myself, but God designed us "to reflect Your {God's} beauty in a world that is often not very beautiful."

day 4:
There have been periods of time over the past 18 months, since finding out our son had Down Syndrome, that I have struggled with his condition more than others.  This fall has been particularly challenging for some reason.  Over the past two weeks, though, Mason has crossed some major milestones {I'll share more on that later this week}. I have really been thinking on the kindness of God--He always seems to give me encouragement just when I need it.

Then, I read, "Perhaps, just when you felt you couldn't handle the challenge of having a child with special needs, you experienced an unexpected breakthrough."  Yes!  That's exactly what happened!  Even when things feel unfair or hard, God is always kind.

day 5:
God never changes.  This was the theme today and I needed that reminder.  We are facing some changes in our family in the coming months, and I have tried not to think about them because I start to become anxious about the unknowns.

I love the verse that Becky ended the day with:  Psalm 26:1 says, "I have trusted in the Lord without wavering."

I want to be able to say that.  Even when I am facing all sorts of uncertainties, I don't want my trust in God to falter.

In summary, I am thoroughly enjoying this book.  I'm being challenged, blessed, and I find myself praising God more even in the mundane things that I do each day.  My heart is being turned to praise more and more.

If you're joining in this month's challenge, I'd love to hear what you've learned so far!  Feel free to share in the comments, or you can email me: onlyfromscratch at gmail dot com

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Day 31 :: The Conclusion: Carrots and Trust

The other day we went out and picked the last of our beans from the garden and some carrots that have been growing for months.  We've never grown carrots before, and we weren't exactly sure when to pick them.  We ended up with quite a crop!

It was interesting to pull the carrots from the ground.  The tops would be tall, full of leaves, and from all appearances, I would think that carrot would be huge.  Then, when I pulled it up, I was shocked to find the carrot was tiny, maybe only an inch.  Some of the bigger carrots were smaller on top.  The growth of the fruit was only evidenced by its roots, the part that wasn't visible at first.

It's that way with us, too.  We dig deep roots, that secret to thriving, and as we do so we can thrive.  Not looking to the outside for evidence of thriving, but looking to our heart, that fruit that is produced in a life of obedience to Christ.

And so I conclude by going back to the verse in Jeremiah that I shared in the beginning of this series.  Only this time I want to start a few verses earlier.  Jeremiah provides a wonderful contrast:

"Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord.  He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come.  He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.  He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit." - Jeremiah 17:5-8-

I think the times when I'm not thriving it boils down to the fact that I have missed the simple practice of trusting in God.  I fail to thrive when I start trusting in myself.  I trust myself to make my kids obey, my husband love me, finish all of the things that need to be done, and try to look good while I do it.  

I don't want to be a shrub in the desert.  But that's what I'm likened to if I trust in myself. 

A tree that needs not fear in the drought?  Always producing fruit?  That's what I'd like to be.  And, so I make every effort to trust in the Lord.  

I trust in Him to give me the grace to do anything.  I trust in Him to mold me and shape me to become more like Him.  I trust Him with the things in life that bring me sorrow, knowing that He is using them for my good and His glory.

And, then, when I put my trust in the Lord, over and over again, I can send my roots deep to the stream of Living Water, and I can thrive.

For a list of all posts in this series go here

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Day 30 :: Productive or Fruitful?

My mom and dad visited a few weeks ago.  I love it when they come because it always refreshes my soul.  As we always do, we started talking about life--the good, the bad and the ugly {at least my ugly}--and we began to talk about thriving.  {Yes, my mom reads my blog}.  She shared with me some of the things she had recently heard at a retreat she attended.

One thing she shared stuck out to me as it relates to thriving.  The speaker had said something like, "We must not confuse being productive with being fruitful."

This has been a good reminder for me, especially during this season of my life.  If I thought that it was only possible to thrive when everything on my to-do list was done or I 'had it all together', then I would never thrive.

There's always going to be one more thing to do.  The laundry might get done, but by bedtime that night, more's going in the dirty clothes' basket.

And I will never 'have it all together' whatever that means, because I'm not holding anything together. All that I am or do is Christ at work in me.

So, I'm trying to replace the word productive in my mind with fruitful.

Am I bearing fruit in this moment?

Jesus said, "I am the vine, you are the branches.  Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." - John 15:5 -


In order to bear fruit I must abide in Christ.  I must dig my roots deep into His truth.  I must depend on Him for all things.  And I know that it is only by His power that I will do anything.

What is the fruit that we bear?

The fruit that we bear is our obedience to Christ, the fruit of the Spirit that only comes by walking with Him.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control..." -Galatians 5:22-23

I can truly thrive when I am abiding in Christ and walking in the Spirit.  Then, my life will be fruitful not because I got a lot done, but because I am a person changed by God.

For a list of all posts in this series go here.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Day 29 :: You have to close your eyes to really see

The furniture is dressed in a fine layer of dust.

A trail of toys makes its way up the steps, some sort of game the girls are playing.

Shapes and blocks left over from a therapy session lie scattered across the living room floor.

There are spots on the kitchen floor, a mixture of grape juice and spaghetti sauce, I think.  And we haven't eaten spaghetti in a few weeks. 

My clothes lie loose around my middle, hiding the wrinkles and excess skin from bearing babies four times over. 

It's a glorious mess, this day in and day out life, and when I open my eyes it's all I can see.

My eyes are open and yet I'm blind.  

Can I look at the dust and thank God for the sunshine?

Can I walk along the trail of toys and rejoice in the imaginations of my children who play together each day?

And those shapes from therapy?  What a wonder it is to watch my little boy strive to crawl and learn new signs so he can communicate with us.

A messy kitchen floor?  I should be grateful for food to eat and a house to live in.

That wrinkly stomach of mine? Well, it's evidence of a miraculous God, creating life and bringing it forth.

Thankfulness, rejoicing, wondering at the awesomeness of God -- these are the things that I want to focus on in the day in and day out that I live. 

A friend's Facebook status a couple weeks ago said, "God, give me eyes to see your reality today, to see all the things that I can't see."

God's reality is found in the eternal, the things that are unseen.  Sometimes it takes closing my eyes to really see.

When I close my eyes I can see God's hand at work as I dwell on Him.  

I can see little children who need Jesus rather than seeing the messes that they make. 

I can see a woman who, although scarred by childbirth, is being changed by God through her children.

So, I'm learning to pause during my day in and day out glorious mess of a life, close my eyes, and re-focus my sight on those things that I can't see.  

The eternal things.

The Eternal One.

No longer blind, I see Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith.  

Now, when I open my eyes, I can "look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.  For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:18

To really thrive I need to close my eyes. 

Close my eyes to the day in and day out and open my eyes to the wonder of the Eternal.  

For a list of all posts in this series go here.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Day 28 :: When you just want it to be normal

Many times after our son was diagnosed with Down Syndrome I found myself thinking, "If only things could be normal again."

I finally uttered the words to my husband and I remember him gently, and yet forcefully, saying, "Lauren, this is normal."

I find that it's easy to wish for life to be different than what it is.  To look forward to the day when things will slow down or be what I had always pictured.

Life doesn't happen that way.  There may not ever be a time in my life that I would consider 'normal'.

Normal is busy days, sleepless nights, sick kids, change, loss, longing, transition, unexpected circumstances, relational turmoil, suffering.

Normal is life in motion and sometimes normal means I will hurt and grieve and experience sorrow.

Sorrow because it's not what we wanted.  Sorrow because we can't change it.  Sorrow because it's so hard to deal with the stuff of this moment that all I can do is cry.

Is it possible to thrive in these moments of sorrow?  Is God's grace really sufficient even for the most seemingly un-normal things I'm facing?

I'm learning that it is possible.

It is possible to thrive in my sorrow because I'm just a simple jar that God has chosen to fill with "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God." {2 Corinthians 4:6}

So, I can say with the apostle Paul:

"We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.."  2 Corinthians 4:8-9

Nancy Guthrie, in her book, Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow, says:

"To experience and exude peace when life is crashing down around you, to have the lightness of joy when the weight of sorrow is heavy, to be grateful for what God has given you when you've lost what is most precious to you -- that is God at work on the interior of your life, on display in your life.  It is the light of God piercing the darkness of this world."

You see it's not about removing sorrowful things that will make us thrive, it's about running to God in the midst of our sorrow.

What?  That's not what I want!  Often that's how feel, right?  We just 'want it to be normal again'.

Guthrie goes on to say:

"When Jesus offers himself to us in the midst of our pain, most of us think, That's it?  That's the best you can do?  I was hoping for more.  The truth is, we're often more interested in getting what God's got, not getting more of God.  We've put in our order for a miracle of healing or relief, and the miracle of his presence to us seems like the consolation prize."  {Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow, p. 118}

The grace of Jesus, the presence of Jesus, the truth of Jesus -- these are the things that will enable us to thrive in this normal sorrowful life.  HE is what we need to thrive.

I don't know what your normal life is like right now.  But I would guess that some of you are experiencing sorrow in one way or another.

Will you run to Jesus with your sorrow and allow the power of His presence to fill you up?

Will you trust Him in the midst of your sorrow and watch how He changes you?

Let's embrace this normal life with the sorrows that it brings, and trust that God is using it to put Himself on display, and let us thrive.

For a list of all posts in this series go here.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Day 27 :: Prayer for a Full Life

Do you ever take a moment before closing your eyes at night to refresh your soul?

Is it possible that by turning your thoughts heavenward you could enter into a more peaceful night's rest?

In the quieting of our hearts and minds we find a perfect peace that can only come from time with the Lord.

And our bodies can thrive in a sleep refreshed by spiritual truth.

Susie Larson, radio show host, national speaker, and author, has written a wonderful book titled, Blessings for the Evening, Finding Peace in God's Presence.

Her short prayers remind of God's truth, encourage with God's promises, and refresh with thoughts about Him.  This book is an excellent way to incorporate spiritual truths into those quiet moments before you drift off to sleep.  Your heart and mind will be blessed to rest so that your body can relax and be refreshed in sleep.

A Full-of-Life Life

May God surprise you with moments of grace and refreshment.

May He bring the long-awaited breakthrough.

May He bless you with sudden belly laughter and watery-eyed joy.

May He give you a gift that you least expect.

And may He inspire you to pray more audaciously than you ever have before.

He is with you and for you.

 -excerpt from Blessings for the Evening by Susie Larson-

For a list of all posts in this series go here.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for writing a review.  All opinions and photos are my own.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Day 26 :: Bake Something with Pumpkin

It's fall.  The season for mums, pumpkins, sweaters, snuggling with your honey, and soup  {not necessarily in that order}.  And this morning when I got up it actually felt like fall.  Our house is currently 65 degrees, so I had to turn on the heat.  Those little babies upstairs need some warmth!

One way to thrive?  Get in your kitchen and bake something.  Since it's fall, bake something with pumpkin.  Using one can of pumpkin you can make both of the recipes below.  If you don't like pumpkin, certainly someone you know does, so take a loaf of bread to them, or wrap a few scones and deliver them to your neighbor.

Givers and receivers can both thrive!

Go, turn on your oven.  It's pumpkin time.

Quick Pumpkin Bread

1 cup pumpkin
2 eggs
1 stick butter, melted
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon {original recipe calls for 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice}
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Craisins {optional.  You could also add 1/2 cup of any of the following:  chocolate chips, pecans, walnuts, raisins, white chocolate chips}

Combine pumpkin, eggs, butter, sour cream and vanilla in a mixing bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients.  Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture.  Stir in Craisins.  Bake in a greased 9x5-inch loaf pan at 350F for one hour.  

Pumpkin Scones

2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon {original recipe calls for 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice}
1 stick cold butter, cubed
2/3 cup pumpkin
3/4 cup half and half*
1/2 cup chocolate chips, optional

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon in a medium sized mixing bowl.  Cut in butter with a pastry blender.  In a small bowl combine pumpkin and half and half.  Stir pumpkin mixture into flour mixture until  combined.  Stir in chocolate chips, if desired.

Pat into an 8-inch square on a floured surface, then cut into 16 triangles.  Transfer to a baking sheet and bake at 400F for 20 minutes.

*I used 3/4 cup cream, as recipe calls for, and the dough was too moist.  I had to keep adding flour to my surface just to pat the dough out into a square.  I would recommend trying 1/4 cream at first and see if that would suffice.  

source:  Food Network, October, 2013

For a list of all posts in this series go here.