Sunday, February 28, 2010

good for the soul... romans 3

today our pastor spoke on one of my favorite passages in the bible. sometimes i wonder if it is ok that i like this passage so much, because after reading it, it can leave you pretty much hopeless. but that is also the reason i love it… paul does not pull any punches, he is just straight up. and that is what i like and need: the straight up truth. 
romans 3:10-18:

"none is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
all have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one."
"their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive."
"the venom of asps is under their lips."
"their mouth is full of curses and bitterness."
"their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known."
"there is no fear of God before their eyes."

there are many reasons i love this passage… it points out our hopelessness before a perfect and holy God, it cuts to the heart and exposes us, and leaves us naked before the One to be feared (while pointing out that we don’t fear Him). all very humbling, very good, leaving me in need of jesus.

but today God used it to point out afresh some sin in my life. you see, i have a coworker that is very, very hard to love. she claims to be a Christian, but is one of the meanest people i have ever met, and contradicts me on nearly everything that i say. therefore, i don’t really try to be involved in her life, i more just endure the time that i have to spend with her.

during the sermon today, God reminded me of how mean i used to be in high school. i would talk about my friends behind their backs, gossip and make fun of people. i wasn’t searching for God (romans 3:11) and i did not fear the fact that i was breaking His law (3:18), my speech was like venom (3:13) and my mouth was full of abhorrence (3:14).

BUT GOD… changed me. i did not seek it out, He just did it by his grace.  there was nothing i could do to earn it, i didn't even want it until He gave it to me.  he just did it because of His awesome kindness, and loved me when i didn't love Him.

therefore, i want to also show that same grace to my co-worker.

pray for me. i cannot love her without the help of the holy spirit. pray also that i might have the opportunity to go deeper with her about spiritual matters.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

simply tasty: pumpkin cookies

this is a HUGE favorite of ours every fall, but i will share it now because of the recipe series. you can buy canned pumpkin any time of the year, so you could make this now, but i prefer to make fresh pumpkin puree from pumpkins in the fall.

also, I have to make an important disclaimer: i cannot take credit for this recipe!  i got it from my friend krista.  she actually calls them “pumpkin tastiness” and if you have ever had these cookies, you will know that that is an accurate description… these things practically melt in your mouth.  There is no way to describe the goodness, you just need to make them for yourself :)

pumpkin tastiness cookies
1 c butter
1 c sugar
1 egg (or 2 whites)
1 c pumpkin
2 c flour
1 t. b. powder
1 t. b. soda
2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t salt
optional: a dash of nutmeg and allspice (i usually do, i think it adds diversity to the flavor)

combine all and mix.  drop spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet.  bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. makes a lot!

frosting:  (though it can go without too!)
1 c brown sugar
3 T butter
4 T milk
1 c powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla

boil butter, milk and brown sugar for 2 minutes.  cool and add powdered sugar and vanilla.

ice COOL cookies with warm frosting.

how to make this recipe healthier without sacrificing the taste:

*make only half the frosting (or double the cookie recipe).  i usually do this, and it still makes more than enough to cover all of the cookies. 

*use white whole wheat flour.  i guarantee you will not taste a difference.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

why i love the church

Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion right now i am reading why we love the church: in praise of institutions and organized religions and i would commend it highly to you.  the book is super readable and engaging, but also very informative and challenging.  i have been humbled and encouraged by everything i have read.

i hope to blog more about some of the things i have learned from this book, but today i just want to share a few quotes that hit me.

both of these quotes come from an interview the authors did with chuck colson.  colson was a key person in the watergate scandal years ago, and went to prison for it.  in prison he met jesus christ, and his life totally changed.  for the past 3 decades he has been leading ministry to prison inmates.

"we live in a therapeutic age where everything is measured by how much i get out to it.  the church ought to be measured by what we put into it for God and others."

[after the interviewer asked him where he goes to church]
"i've always resented the phrase 'where do you go to church?'  i dont go to a church, i'm a member of a church.  you don't ask where somebody 'goes to a country club.  i'm not talking about where you are going, i'm talking about where you plant your flag and say, 'this is where i'm a christian'"

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

simply tasty: vegetable soup

i used to buy canned soup thinking it was a good deal, until i realized how ridiculously cheap and easy soup is to make.  furthermore, it is really easy to make soup in big batches, which means that you can make it once, and have meals every day for a week.  i usually freeze several servings so that in the future i have a quick meal ready when i am too busy to make something homemade.

soup is especially delicious in the winter, and it is filled with nutrients.

vegetable soup

2 T olive oil
1 cup frozen peas
2 cups chopped broccoli
1 large onion, diced
1 large bell pepper (any color), diced
2 cups cabbage, shredded
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup cauliflower, chopped
32 oz box of chicken broth
1 T each salt, pepper, parsley, garlic powder (more or less to taste)
2 t oregano
½ t each basil, thyme, crushed red pepper
several dashes of hot sauce, to taste
1 24oz can diced tomatoes

pour olive oil into the bottom of a large pot.  add all of the vegetables (except for the canned tomatoes).  add the chicken stock and spices.  add just enough water so that the water is level with the top of the vegetables.  bring to a boil over a high heat.  reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for another hour. add tomatoes just before serving.  enjoy!

note: you can cook this more or less, depending on how soft or firm you like your veggies.  also, feel free to leave out a veggie or two, and/or add a veggie or two, depending on what you have around and what you like.

[this is especially delicious served with a grilled cheese or cold-cut sandwich. mmm....]

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

until the number is complete...

"for the Lord loves justice,
he will not forsake his saints"
psalm 37:28

"i saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. they cried out with a loud voice, "O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been."
revelation 6:9-11

i really love these verses.  and if it wasn't for them, i would be completely hopeless after watching this:

Persecution in India: Unedited Footage from Cornerstone Church on Vimeo.

Persecution in India: Francis' Response from Cornerstone Church on Vimeo.

please stop and pray for these people, if you consider them your brothers and sisters.

Monday, February 22, 2010

in absentia

i have been absent from the blogosphere for about three or four weeks now... not writing any blogs, and barely reading any.

i've missed the blogosphere, but plenty of important things have kept me busy, like hanging out with my mom when she came to visit, taking on extra hours at work, getting certified for adoption and getting our place prepared to be taken over by little ones.  though we are getting closer each day to adoption, at the same time various things have come up to put us farther away. 

while not really knowing when this will happen (i would guess early april... could be sooner, could be later), we are slowly gathering/collecting stuff together that we will need in order to take care of the children God is going to bring our way (i have coined the term "baby paraphernalia" to describe the exorbitant amount of stuff you need).

i place a huge priority on living simply/minimally, so i am trying to be discerning in what we get, because i really don't want to buy something we will use only twice.  making things more complicated is the fact that we have no idea what to prepare for... we have requested a sibling set of two between the ages of 0 and 4.  now if you know anything about this age range, you know that there are HUGE discrepancies between children in this age range.  even 6 months in the life of a child this age can mean different clothes, different toys, different car seat, and even a different bed.  we could be placed with twin infants, a 14 month old and a 3 1/2 year old, an infant and a 18 month old or twin two year olds or any other broad range of possibilities.

we are trying to be broadly prepared, while only purchasing minimally.  what would be most helpful in this effort is to get lots of hand-me-downs from other parents.  unfortunately, we basically know zero parents of young children here.  about a month ago, God reminded me of a friend from our old church who told me that every time she needs something, she prays that God would give it to her for free, and He has often answered.  so i decided to start praying for free "baby paraphernalia", remembering how God brought water from rocks for the israelites (exodus 17, numbers 20).

in usual God-like fashion, he has answered.  so far, we have been given two cribs (one converts into a toddler bed...perfect for our situation), two crib mattresses, several receiving blankets, almost 20 pieces of clothing of various sizes, a crib mobile, and a baby sling, as well as various books and toys.

when my mom was here, she also helped me to sew some bibs, which i was pretty excited about (i really enjoy sewing, but i need lots of help/guidance).  i'm also on craig's list a lot, trying to find good deals.  [in case you cant tell, i am all about preparing and planning ahead :) ]

please take a moment to stop reading and pray for us and the adoption.  specifically, please pray:

*for the health and safety of our future children.  they are almost certainly being abused right now in some way, which is why they will be put into the foster care system.

*for God to prepare Alex and I for the challenge and sacrifice of parenting; and that we would parent by the power of the gospel.

*that God would continue to bring water from the rocks.  specifically, at this point we really need another infant car seat, two booster seats, a dresser, bottles and more clothes (more books and toys would be great as well).