Monday, January 31, 2011

Working and Willing for God's Good Pleasure

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation in fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure...Philippians 2:12-13.

Paul was a man who sincerely loved the Lord, loved the church and loved people.  His life's passion and calling was to tell others about Jesus Christ and to strengthen the church.  In fact, he called himself the bondservant of Christ.  He was constantly putting others before himself, and he valued those who co-labored alongside himself who had the same attitude, or "like-mindedness".  This was the topic of our study this week.  Paul's desire was for us to understand why we serve others and he gives us the secret to being an effective servant for Christ.  He even threw in a couple of examples in Timothy and Epaphroditus to learn from. 

There is a common misconception about why we serve the Lord.  In fact, many religious organizations go as far as making service or works unto the Lord a prerequisite for salvation and rightstanding with God.  Service unto God is a byproduct of what the Lord has done for us by sending us His Son, Jesus Christ to save us from our fallen state and exalting Him to Lordship by giving Him "the name which is above every name".  That is why we obey and "work out our salvation in fear and trembling".  Not only in Paul's presence or absence (or in the presence or absence of any other godly leader), but because Jesus is on the throne and we do it in reverence of Him. 

Now how does this play out practically in our lives?  This is the secret that Paul shares with us in the next scripture.  We acknowledge that it is God who "works in us to will and to do for His good pleasure" and we allow His power to do that work within us.  Kay Smith's study directed us to the scriptures from Ephesians 2:8-9 that says, For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works,  lest anyone should boast.  Even the act of believing in Him is something that God does within us, it's nothing that we do ourselves.  The second part of the secret is in verse 16, holding fast to the word of life. 

Between allowing the Lord to work within us through His power and through His word guiding and directing us, we are able to be that light that shines in this world.  That is how we are able to keep from complaining and disputing, how we are able to be blameless and harmless in crooked and perverse generation, and that is how Paul was able to pour out his life for others.  Chapter 2 talks about doing things that are really difficult for us to do, but they are not impossible through Jesus. 

Lord Jesus, pour out Your Spirit upon our lives so that we will be able to live out those things that You desire in our lives.  Cause us to be Your servants and to love others with Your power in us. 

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Coming Back Around

I saw a great deal on tomatoes this week.  So I decided to do my grocery shopping at a supermarket that I do not usually shop at.  As I was on my way out the door, I spotted someone that looked familiar to me infront of the Redbox.  For the first 2 minutes we did the whole: "Do I know you from somewhere?"  "You look familiar to me."  "What highschool did you go to?"  Then it donned on her.  "I met you at another grocery store and you asked me if I knew Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior."  I had told her about my endeavor to share the gospel with at least one person a day after I had found out that she was already a believer.  I have not been able to share every single day like I would like to, but that meeting encouraged me to keep going.   

Lord Jesus, help me to continue to share Your good news with those around me.  Remind me that I am a missionary here in my own hometown. 

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Bringing Her Food From Afar...Thailand

Eating out is always an occasion for indulging in an entree that I have never had.  Because I have never been a finicky eater, I tend to be adventurous in my ordering.  I savor the pungency, the sweetness, the spiciness, the bitterness and the saltiness of the new fare I am attempting.  Afterward, I come home and I find it a challenge to reproduce the same recipe. 

The first time I had Red Curry, I fell in love.  It was spicy and sweet and something I never thought I could recreate on my own.  In fact, when I would ask Thai people if they could give me a recipe, they all looked at me strangely.  The reason they were looking at me this way is because it is really quite simple to make:

Red Curry Recipe (Serves 6)

2 Tbsp    Red curry paste (Found at the Asian food market, I use the Mae Ploy brand in the photo above)
2 Tbsp    Vegetable oil
2 Cans    Coconut milk
2 Tbsp    Sugar
1 1/2lbs   Meat (chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, tofu)
2 C         Vegetables of your choice sliced (onion, bell pepper, zucchini, etc.)

On medium heat, saute red curry paste in oil for 1 minute, add 1 can of coconut milk.  Add another can of coconut milk and heat until boiling.  Add meat and continue cooking until meat is nearly done, then add vegetables and sugar.  Cook until vegetables soften and serve with Jasmine rice. 
***Red curry paste is very spicy, for a milder flavor use half the portion***

Friday, January 28, 2011

Lifting My Eyes Up to the Hills

Within the confines of  the four walls inside of the medical examination room is a very intimate place.  The conception of a child is confirmed there, our bodies are scrutinized, illnesses are diagnosed, and life expectancy is estimated.  My parents and my Dad's physician have allowed me to be part of this personal place for the last year, and I am so thankful to have been accepted. 

It is so difficult to see my parents go through this time in our lives, though.  Please pray for comfort and peace. 

I will lift up my eyes to the hills- From whence comes my help?  My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth...Psalm 121:1-2

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Update and Prayer Request

I suppose I would describe it as a blessing and a curse.  A blessing because I get to be the one to walk side by side with my parents as they tread through this valley of affliction.  To alleviate some of the burden that weighs heavily upon them in the form of appointments and paperwork.  To be an encouragement and support when the emotional load becomes cumbersome.  To be the first to celebrate through the victories won throughout this last year.  Nevertheless, a curse because, often times, I am the first to receive information about his condition.  I am the one who has to break the news to my parents as things progress. 

A little over a month ago, I received the news from the doctor that he suspected his leukemia was back.  By the looks of his white blood cell count, he estimated that he had days to weeks of life.  I celebrate because my Dad is still alive.  He is weak and he is tired, but he is still here.  The Lord has spared him in the middle of flu season thus far, and I am so grateful to our God, and for you who are lifting him up in prayer.

Tomorrow he has a doctor's appointment.  His blood test today indicated that he needs a blood transfusion.  This will be the first transfusion that he has needed since leaving the hospital last year at the beginning of February.  Please pray for strength to endure physically and emotional strength to overcome discouragement.  Pray for my Mom to receive comfort, and rejoice with us for the grace and mercy we have already received.  Thank you so much.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Esteeming Others Better Than Ourselves

My sister and I are less than 2 years apart.  As children, when her birthday came around, I would closely examine her gifts, figuring out which toys I was going to play with first.  It was my ambition to monopolize playtime with her new spoils before she had a chance.  Twenty-five years later, things have not changed much.  I still find that I am grappling to take the best for myself. 

In week 3 of our Women's Study we surveyed through Philippians 2:1-11 and contemplated this very topic. 
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind, let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you lookout not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others...Phil. 2:3-4
Paul, the author of the letter to the Philippian church, teaches us that we can have unity with one another and look past ourselves unto the needs of others because of what Christ has done for us.  This is possible through 6 ways explained in the scripture passages:
  1. Through the encouragement we receive in Christ (v1)
  2. Through the comfort we receive from Him by His love (v1)
  3. Through fellowship with the Holy Spirit (v1)
  4. Through His affection and mercy upon our lives (v1)
  5. Through His example of being God, yet humbling Himself, coming down from heaven, becoming a man and dying the death on the cross (v6-8)
  6. Because He is highly exalted in heaven (v9-11)
This study has definitely brought me a fresh perspective on how I perceive myself and how I regard others in light of what our Lord has done for us.  Lord, help me to keep this perspective continually on the forefront of my mind. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Bringing Her Food From Afar...Mexico

When my husband and I first got married, I was enthusiastic to be the kind of wife that would make some healthy and delicious meals.  My first endeavor was to remove all signs of refined foods and replace them with hardier ones.  I was fully committed, I bought a 25 pound bag of brown rice.  With one taste of that rice, he made me give it away to all of our friends.  Failure!

With nearly 7 years under my belt, I now know what it takes to sneak healthy food into my husband's belly.  I can't skimp on the flavor.  And now, with two little ones, I have even more of a motivation to eat well.  My family often asks for seconds. 

This is my recipe for Spanish Brown Rice:

2 C       Brown rice
3 C       Chicken broth
1/4 C    Chopped onion
1 clove Garlic minced
1 Tbsp  Butter
1/2 C    Tomato sauce
            Salt to taste

Lightly brown the rice in a frying pan with vegetable oil on medium heat with onion and garlic, add butter, chicken broth, and tomato sauce.  Add salt until the broth is just a little too salty.  Bring to a boil then cover and reduce to low heat.  Simmer for 20 minutes or until fully cooked.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Delighting in His Thoughts Towards Us

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!  How great is the sum of them!  If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand...Psalm 139:17-18

If you have ever taken the time to sit and ponder this scripture, you would marvel at the thought that such a high and lofty God cares about us and we are constantly on His mind.  And if His thoughts are on us more in number than the sand, then it means that He is concerned even when it comes to the little things in life.  This is how I feel about my living room redo.  I feel as though the Lord is right here, discussing and interchanging ideas with me.

This week, this thought was affirmed when I found this chair on my way home from a preschool meeting.  My initial thought was that it was going to be a reupholstery project.  When I go it home however, it was in such great condition.  From underneath, the chair looked very clean and the fabric was intact.  When I put it next to my window, it was the ideal size for that corner and the perfect color to go with the color scheme that I have chosen for the living room.  As I got a closer look, I was delighted at the detail of the tufted buttons.  I am happy to accept this chair as His special gift to me.

Have you considered the thoughts that the Lord thinks towards you?  He cares for every little detail in your life.  Even the ones you would consider to be trivial.  When we come to the point where we begin to see how much He loves us, it becomes that much easier to surrender to His will for our lives.  It also becomes much easier to trust in Him.  How much more must His thoughts be upon us when we are struggling through weighty matters.
Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you...1 Peter 5:7

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Please Mr. Postman!

We have a very friendly mailman.  Very jovial and inquisitive, he loves to start a conversation and ask questions about various topics.  I do not mind whatsoever because I believe that it gives me license to ask whatever questions that I want.  Of course the topic about God came up, and I was very surprised to find that he is an atheist. 

Now Jorge is someone that I will be seeing on an ongoing basis, so I am going to take this one slow.  Our first topic of conversation in regards to God was whether or not we believe that man is innately good or evil.  I told him that we are evil and he believes that man is good.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?      Jeremiah 17:9
I think my next question will be about whether or not he has peace.  I have not run into many atheists when I am out there sharing, so I think that is why it was such a shock to me.  Please leave me a comment if you have any suggestions you can give me.

Lord, I pray for Jorge, that You will begin to reveal Yourself to him.  Surround him with others who can share with him and may he even have a personal encounter with You.  Give me wisdom as I interact with him.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Shoemaker and the Elves

Do you remember the story of the Elves and the Shoemaker by the Grimm Brothers?  The Shoemaker would leave some leather out overnight and would wake up the next morning to a very well made pair of shoes that little elves had made through the night.  I feel like the those little elves sometimes as I am taking advantage of the late night hours to finish my projects without interruptions.  In the morning I am too tired to get up with my husband but there is something new to admire in the living room.  Last night it was throw pillows.

Throw pillows in my home go through so much.  If you look close enough, you could see stains on these dark pillows from my children drooling on them during their naps.  My solution for this: slipcovers!

I started by measuring out enough fabric to have a 1/4 inch seam allowance on each side but leaving enough fabric on the top end to overlap about 10 inches over.   

Then I brought the first side of my fabric to the middle of the pillow and pinned the ends.  That is the point at which I would close the sides. 

I sewed the left side and the right side up to each pin.  Then I folded it again, allowing some fabric to overlap again and closed the right side and the left side. 

When I was done sewing, there was an opening in the middle which is where I would slip the pillow into.

Then I slipped the pillow inside the cover.  Here it is hugging the
pillow nicely.

And when they get dirty, which I already noticed some pencil marks after putting them out last night, I just take the covers off and throw them in the wash.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Delighting in Our Trials

But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which have happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard,and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear...Phil 1:12-14
We had the second meeting of an 8 week series of our women's study tonight.  We are going through a study written by Kay Smith through the book of Philippians.  In tonight's study we learned that Paul, the author of the letter to the Philippian church, found joy in his circumstances and actually allowed the Lord to use him in two very specific ways.  One was to spread the message of the good news of Christ's sacrifice for our salvation to the prison guard and to the members of Caesar's court.  The second was to encourage believers to boldly share the message even in the midst of persecution. 

The women in my group all agreed that we were all inspired to share boldly with those within our sphere of influence.  Our family members, co-workers, even those that we come into contact with throughout our day. 

Lord Jesus, cause Your Holy Spirit to come upon us in power to share your good news with those around us.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Bringing Her Food From Afar...China

This is my secret ingredient.  When I invite friends over for a Chinese dinner, they marvel at my ability to emulate the cuisine.  The truth has very little to do with my cooking skill and everything to do with this sauce.

It is called Black Bean Garlic Sauce.  The flavor is pungent, with a salty, bitter, sweet taste to it.

Stirfry - In beef, chicken or pork with your choice of vegetables.  Fry meat and vegetables until cooked through, add 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and 2 tablespoons of black bean garlic sauce to frying pan.  Saute the mixture for a couple of minutes.  Serve with steamed rice.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

3 tablespoons oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (finely chopped)
1 cup water chestnuts finely chopped
2/3 cup mushrooms finely chopped
3 tablespoons chopped onions
1 teaspoon minced garlic
4 -5 leaves iceberg lettuce
2 tablespoons black bean garlic sauce

Bring oil to high heat in a wok or large frying pan.  Saute minced chicken for 2-3 min or until done.  Remove chicken from pan and set aside.  With the pan still on high heat, add another Tbsp of vegetable oil.  Add chicken, garlic, onions, water chestnuts and mushrooms to the pan.  Add the black bean garlic sauce to the pan and saute the mixture for a couple minutes then serve it in the lettuce cups.
(I tend to substitute ground meat for the chicken and whatever vegetables I have on hand; green onions, carrots, zucchini, etc., all finely chopped)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Bringing Her Food From Afar...

She is like the merchant ships, she brings her food from afar.  Proverbs 31:14
When I was single, I had the opportunity to travel to many different countries.  I loved experiencing the new sights, sounds and flavors of the various new lands that I was encountering.  As a mommy with two small children, the term "overseas travel" has pretty much disappeared from our dialog.  I must confess that when our schedule becomes predictable, and the day-to-day tasks become monotonous, my mind drifts to those days of old.  That is when I need "a little more" for the day and I cry out to the Lord to give me fresh perspective.

In His infinate wisdom, boundless creativity...and still, small voice, He reminds me that life is still an adventure.  This time however, it includes two little souls who I have the opportunity to share my experiences with.  So I am purposing to bring the world to my family through food.  I may not be able to venture across the seas...but I can bring the flavors of the world into my kitchen.  Along with some good old fashioned lessons in geography, foreign language and the culinary arts.

Ultimately, I desire for my children to know Christ and am learning that sharing with them is as important as sharing with those around us.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Delighting in Preschool

For the last three years, my children have belonged to a preschool that is connected to our homeschool group at church.  We are so blessed to be connected to such a wonderful group of people.  We operate as a co-op, meaning that each family participates to keep the classes running and to organize field trips, our newsletter, a Mom's Night Out fellowship, and other fun activities throughout the year. 

Today we had the privilege of going to the California Science Center.  One of the families arranged for us to get there on a school bus.  I couldn't help but marvel at how generous the Lord is to us to give us such a wonderful experience!  And my kids being of preschool age!  Our favorite part was probably the marine aquarium where we had a chance to see a scuba diver give us a presentation about his gear and the fish he had in the aquarium. 
There were also three rooms that were perfect for toddlers and preschoolers.  I was very impressed by the fact that they supervised the rooms with plenty of help.  One room even had three helpers that were there to guide us through the rooms and play with our kids.  At one point is was just my children and I in the rooms so we had their undivided attention.  I was able to share my testimony with them about what the Lord did in my life when I was their age.  I shared with them about the love of Christ, His desire for us to know Him on a personal basis, and the plans that He will reveal about our lives as we draw nearer to Him.  One of the girls was very open to hear my message.  She admitted that this was something that she knew she needed in her life.  We prayed and I could see that there was an instant change in her countenance. 

Lord, I pray that you will continue to draw her closer into a relationship with you.  Draw them into a church where they can be led to You dear Jesus Christ. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Little Extra Fabric

At the end of a bolt of fabric the sales associate will always ask you if you would like to buy the rest of it at a discounted price.  It's usually less than a yard.  With this particular fabric, the woman told me that I had enough to make a pillow to coordinate with the curtains that I was planning to make.  At the time, I couldn't think past the curtains, but I ended up buying it anyways. 

Now that I had completed my curtains, I was itching to do something else.  Lately, I have been sitting in the middle of my living room thinking about what project I am going to do next.  That's when that little ottoman caught my attention.  I have always wanted to reupholster something, so I starting taking it apart.  What I discovered was that there is not much to it.  I removed all the hardware, pulled out the legs and matched up my decor fabric to the fabric that was on there. 
I pulled the fabric tightly over the top part of the ottoman and stapled the center first and then worked to the corners.  It was much like wrapping a gift.  This ottoman had buttons on the top, which I recovered and then put them back into place with a curved needle.  Once the buttons were in place, I pulled them underneath tightly and secured them with the staple gun.  This is what creates the tufted look.  Next, I stapled down all the black lining and replaced the legs and hardware. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Not as Hard as I Thought

I have very little experience with the sewing machine.  I once took a class where I learned how to make a standard pillowcase.  I enjoyed the pleasure of creating something, but never thought I would go any further.  Until I started looking for curtains for my living room.  There was nothing that appealed to my taste as I searched the stores.  So I opted for Jo-Ann's and was pleasantly surprised to find some fabric that caught my eye. 

I knew I wanted my panels to be about 84 inches long, so I bought three yards for each panel.  I  hemmed the sides of the curtain by folding ever each raw edge a 1/4 of an inch, then about a half inch.  Then I folded the top edge with enough fabric to put the curtain rod through, ironed it flat and sewed it in place.  The bottom I folded leaving a little extra fabric to create some weight, ironed and sewed in place. 

Very simple and perfect for a beginner.  We'll see how ambitious I will get in the future.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself

One of the most common rationalizations for not getting things accomplished in my living room is just plain fear.  A girlfriend and I were just talking about how we allow ourselves to become paralyzed in our tasks because of fear.  She made a reference to a man name John Fischer who writes a daily devotional and had just posted about fear.  You can read his blog here:  But John says, "Fear rules where inactivity festers. Fear dissipates where activity flourishes."  He illustrates his point using Peter coming out of the boat to walk to Jesus on the water. 

So I am going to take his advice, I am going to take the sewing machine out, research a couple of tutorials online, and I'm going to make some curtains.  Above is the fabric that I am going to make them out of.

Here goes nothing...

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Delighting in My Living Room

The thought of decorating any of the rooms in my house seems so overwhelming.  Even the very thought of hammering a nail into the wall immobilized me.  I have been married nearly seven years now, have two children, and have never completed my bedroom, a nursery...anything!  I figured that one day when I got some friends over to help me, it will happen.  Or one day when we have a little extra money, I could start decorating.  Or one day when we move into a house.  Or even just move into a place where they would let me paint the walls for crying out loud!

This January, I have decided that I am going to do it.  I am setting small deadlines to keep me on track and to give me a starting point since I am a hopeless procrastinator.  I desperately need a deadline so that I can wait to the last moment.  I am no longer going to let these moments of enjoying my home slip me by. 

So here we go....

Although you cannot tell from looking at it, the living room has a couple of updates that have already been implemented.  But yes, it still has a long way to go.  We replaced a very small bookcase that was about 3 feet tall with the one you see there.  We also had a tan, microfiber sectional, which has since been replaced with the white.  I always said that one day when my kids grow up, I will have a white sofa, but we are going with the theme and living in the moment.  Who knows what sofa color will be popular when they become of white sofa dwelling age. 

Changes I would like to see:

  • Curtains
  • Throw pillows (currently they are red)
  • Some kind of organization in the bookcase and with my kids books to the left of the armoire
  • Rug
  • Coffee table
  • Additional seating...chairs, ottoman, etc. 
  • Artwork on the walls
  • Family photos
  • Paint the armoire
Delight in the joy of redecorating my living room with me, and join me if this is something that has been on your heart to do.