As I have scanned through Facebook and twitter I have read and saw so much about the marathon. I saw so many people that have written about the terrible explosion. I read about all their prayers for Boston.
I've been praying too. I prayed for those people who I saw and read about. I prayed for Grant, a missionary running to raise money for a Christian camp. I prayed for his wife Miho and their two little girls, who had been planning on going to cheer him on. I prayed for the responders. I prayed for doctors and nurses. I prayed. A lot. And I still am.
I've heard a lot of people say they are praying for Boston. I've seen a lot of people write online that they are praying for Boston.
Friends, let me tell you a little about God, who listens to all these prayers. He is here. He is just as upset as we are. He hates evil. He loves us. He doesn't want us to hurt. He is love. And He loves our prayers. Because He wants us to run to Him right now.
My eyes filled with tears yesterday, when I learned Grant and Miho and the girls were safe. After that I know that God is listening. I cry out to God for all those who are suffering. And I know God is listening.
If you want to know more about this God you've been praying to. If you want to know about this love. If you want to be with people who pray knowing that prayers make a difference. Come join us on Sunday. We will grieve together. And comfort one another. We will pray for those hurt and those hurting.
The God we pray to knows hurt beyond anything we could imagine. The God we pray to has not stood by just watching from the sidelines but is overcoming hurt with love.
An answered prayer. I made two birthday cakes for two very special people! Thank you for your prayers. I cannot express how much your prayers have meant. I am on the mend; however, from what I understand, it's going to be a while before I'm completely back to normal.
I made an applesauce cake with cream cheese frosting for my son. And the picture above is the chocolate cake with chocolate frosting I made for my daughter. That's the one I'm going to write about today.
This recipe is not one I've made before. Sarah picked it out from her cookbook. We made it together. It was special. I used a square cake pan. I know. It doesn't look square. I'll get to that in a bit. When I was flipping it over on the rack, only some of the cake came out. I was bummed. My wonderful husband cut the remaining pieces out of the pan for me. I had a plan, though. I was convinced I didn't have to make another one. I had a vision of piling all the pieces on top. I was convinced that I could make it work.
I knew that I wanted to have a circle cake, so it would fit on the cake plate. I needed something to trace. I used the cover of the round storage container that holds our peanut butter. We don't keep our natural peanut butter in the jar. One of my brilliant friends recommended mixing it, so the oils aren't all at the top making a huge mess every time we make a sandwich. Brilliant. I cut my cake. That went relatively well.
I didn't really want to make a double batch of frosting. I knew that I needed something to make all my pieces "stick" together. Since I had the peanut butter out, I slathered a layer on top of the circle piece. It was a spur of the moment decision. I carefully placed the biggest cake pieces on top. Then I started filling it in with little pieces. They weren't stuck together by anything. I just piled pieces (crumbs really) on top. I told myself, at least it will taste good.
Next, it needed to be frosted. Now the color of the frosting was slightly lighter than the cake, so the crumbs that were inevitably coming off and mixing with the frosting were so obvious. Not to mention that the top of the cake was not even. It was pretty bumpy. Don't forget it was just a bunch of cake pieces on there. I kept telling myself, at least it will taste good.
Since it was bumpy on top and I could clearly see the crumbs in the frosting, I decided to look through the cabinets to find something to put on top. I just wanted to distract from the bumps. I had no desire to go out to the store. I found some brown sugar. I sprinkled some of that on top. I found a few other things to sprinkle on top. I wasn't convinced that it looked any better. At least it will taste good. And maybe it won't look so bad in the pictures that I take to remember this day forever.
My husband said that it looked pretty nice. To be honest I thought he was being nice. We had a nice slice of chocolate cake after dinner that night. It did taste good. Especially with the peanut butter.
But here's the strange part. We had some people over later on, and they remarked how nice the cake looked. And that was after it was cut. I'll admit that I was a little surprised, because I knew how not put together it was on the inside.
I felt like it was all smoke and mirrors. It might look good, but it's just a big mess.
It got me thinking. For those of us who are regular attenders to Sunday worship services, do we feel like our lives as we present them on Sunday morning are all smoke and mirrors? We might look like everything's a-ok, but it really isn't.
For those of us who are not regular attenders, do we feel like we'd have to be all smoke and mirrors to fit in at church? Does that become a roadblock?
I know that the answer may be yes to both. And I know that our God is so much bigger than that. He knows it all. There is no way that we can be all smoke and mirrors to Him who created us. Our church should be a reflection of that.
Let us be a group of people who doesn't feel like we have to be all smoke and mirrors, when we enter the church building (or in our case the town hall). Let us be a group of people who can be honest enough to our friends and family that we don't have pretend that we live perfect lives. We are just a group of people who recognize that we are so in need of a Savior, Jesus. And we desire to follow our Savior, Jesus. Together.
This morning I was trying to figure out what to wear. Warmth was important. There was sweater that was just calling out my name. I've had it for quite a while. An oldie but definitely a goodie!
It reminded me of the time I tried to give it away. That's right. I unsuccessfully tried to give it away. I was leading a group on getting closer to God. The details are a little fuzzy, but we were talking about letting go of our possessions. It was all about simplicity.
The book we were reading gave some ideas on working toward living simply. One was to give away a possession that someone else admires to find out how attached we are.
It's one thing to talk about it. Someone in the group joked around about liking my sweater. After that night I really thought about it. Was I ready to do it?
I really liked the sweater. But I knew what I had to do. I washed it and gave it to her the following Sunday. I'll admit it. It was harder than I thought it would be.
It was a test. God wanted to see what I'd do. I did it, and yet I learned I had an attachment to something that wasn't all that important.
I tried to give away my sweater. She gave it back. She didn't like it as much after trying it on.
Now I have a great reminder every time I wear the sweater. I haven't arrived. I've always got some work to do in my relationship with God.
How has God recently shown you that you've got work to do?
I needed some rest. I didn't want to believe it. I thought I could go on and on and on. I'm a type-A-I-can-keep-going-no-matter-what kind of person. My body didn't agree. I needed rest and plenty of water.
Last month I took a day off. Well, as much as a mommy can take off. No laundry. Minimal dishes. Hanging out with the kiddos on the couch. Oh, I was tempted to work on the blog and write some emails and about a million other things. It was so hard but worth it.
Sometimes I forget that it's okay to rest. God made us that way. He wants us to rest. I could write a bunch more about it, but I’m not sure I’ll convince you to do it with lots of words.
I want to encourage you to find time to rest this summer. In fact, I’m going to give you permission to rest. Take a morning and go sit by the pond. Or stay in bed. Or whatever else.
I rested. It was good. Give it a try!
The other day I was washing dishes. I do it. A lot. I have a beautiful window in front of my sink. I love it most of the time. The view, I mean. I get to look out into our back yard. I love it. Most of the time.
The other day I was washing dishes. It was later in the afternoon. The sun was shining right into my beautiful window. If you know the home in which the beautiful window is located (also known as the parsonage), the sun was coming from the left, beyond the hill. I didn’t love the view that day.
The other day I was washing dishes. Something that I do most every day became difficult on that particular day. I just didn’t want to.
Have you ever had the “I don’t want to” syndrome? Or it could just be the “I’m just in a plain ol’ cranky mood today” syndrome. It happens to the best of us. We wake up on the wrong side of the bed. It happens. Even to the best of us.
It’s helpful to recognize that we may have our good days and our not so good days. It’s also helpful to recognize that God gives us grace (meaning our unearned gift of God’s Son, Jesus, and all that happens as a result of this awesome gift) on those days. And every day for that matter. God sees us at our best. And our worst. He still loves us no matter what.
We may have our “I don’t want to” days. We may have our “I’m just in a plain ol’ cranky mood today” days. It happens.
We just have to make sure that those days don’t encourage us to take advantage of God’s grace. Like. All the time. Our motivation should come out of a response of God’s grace. That means treating our next door neighbor who is experiencing “I’m just in a plain ol’ cranky mood today” syndrome with love and respect. That means reading our Bibles on the “I don’t want to” syndrome days. It’s tough. I know. I’ve struggled too with these things.
Washing dishes. Well, if that doesn’t happen today, it doesn’t happen. Today, though, let’s live in response to that grace that God has freely given to us.
Usually we make our resolutions at the beginning of January. And usually we’ve given up by now. I read somewhere that goals are better than resolutions. One of my goals this year is to run a marathon. Just kidding. It’s to run a 5k. Now, this may not seem like a big deal. It’s really not that long.
For me it is a big deal. For two reasons. The first reason is I have never been an active person. Even as a child I was the one who preferred to read a book. I didn’t mind, when we stayed in for recess on a rainy day. It’s a struggle. The second reason is that I have had problems in both my ankles. It’s a genetic thing. I have dealt with pain over the years. Thankfully, the doctors were right. With age the pain has lessened. I don’t talk about it too much (or at least I try). I know that other people have to deal with chronic pain far worse than I do.
Actually, my goal last year was to run a 5k. As you probably can guess, that didn’t happen. I don’t want to give up on this one. When I started to do the running last year, I had planned on writing about accomplishing my goal after I could actually run a 5k. No one besides Chris knew about my goal. I think I was afraid of failing. Then what would people think of me? (I seriously think about these things.)
When we live our lives in fear, we miss out. We know that. And we still do it. Is there something unresolved that we’ve been putting off? Is there something that we just can’t stop doing, even if we know that it’s not healthy or good for our relationship with God? Is there something that we haven’t been doing, that we know we should be doing?
If you have said “yes” to any of these, you can stop living in fear of what may happen if you tell someone. You don’t have to tell everyone. You can find a person you trust (perhaps that someone sits right in front of you at worship services), and you can ask him or her for help or even just a prayer or accountability. It takes courage. I know. When we become more vulnerable to one another, we can find that the fear will dissipate. When the fear dissipates, it can only help our relationship with other people and with God.
A few years ago I met someone through a mutual friend at church. (Before you try to figure it out who I’m writing about, let me warn you that this comes from before my time in South Londonderry.) She was around my age. I invited her out for coffee. (Again, I love coffee!) I didn’t really have an agenda. Mostly, I wanted to get to know her, and I hoped that I could be one more connection that she had to church. That’s about it.
We hit it off. I spent most of the time listening to her. I don’t recall having any super deep conversations about faith or God, although neither one of us shied away from the topics either. The coffee was good. We went our separate ways that day.
Now, I know that sharing that half hour has meant more to her than I would have ever imagined on my way home that day. She still talks about it to our mutual friend. I’m not sure that she goes to worship services every week or that she has quite figured out her relationship with God. That’s okay. It’s not a rush. I do know that she goes to worship services. I do hope and pray that one day she will have the same relationship with God that has made all the difference in my own life.
It was a God moment for sure. I know that God can use almost anything to help others to know about His love for them. Sometimes we just have to be willing to share that cup of coffee.
It’s me again. First of all, I think I should start out by confessing that I’ve been slacking on the blog. I have had really good intentions; however, it hasn’t happened. My last post I talked about my pregnancy, which was the first time on the blog. While the pregnancy has been a fairly smooth one (thank God!), I don’t have the energy to do all that I usually do. I’m sorry.
I’ve been feeling God laying it on my heart to write about grace. Usually I make some connection with something in my life to faith. It would be easy for me to write about how much grace my husband has given me throughout this pregnancy (Seriously, you should have seen the kitchen this morning!). It would be easy for me to write about all sorts of instances in my life, when people have shown more grace than I deserve.
What those examples would miss is the magnitude of God’s grace. God’s grace is everything that He gives to us that we don’t deserve. In my mind that’s pretty much everything. Everything that God gives to me and to everyone else is grace. So as we have started this season in preparation for Christmas, the most obvious gift that God has given to us is Jesus. Through this gift we have a relationship with God. It’s not anything that we have done that has earned the grace.
Now, I hope this doesn’t come as a shock, but I am not perfect. Ok. There. I said it. No matter how hard I try to live as God wants me to live, I cannot live to His standard. But that just shows me how much God loves me and
reminds me of His wonderful grace.
Here’s where the rubber meets the road: I want to show others God’s grace. Even if it’s really hard. I cannot give them the gift of Jesus (only God does that), but I can give them love during the difficult times. So as you’re wrapping presents or decorating the tree, think about one way to show God’s grace to someone you know.
I just want ice cream. Usually I want it the most after dinner. Anything chocolate would work for me. You’re not going to see a picture of a bowl of ice cream on this post. If there were ice cream in the house, it would be gone before a picture could be taken. Most people call this kind of thing a craving. I’m not sure that the word “craving” is a strong enough term for this
feeling I get in the evening. Oh man, it’s rough! Now, I should say to all of you out there who don’t see me on a regular basis, there’s a reason for this
craving – there’s a baby growing inside of me. It would be easy to make that as my excuse of why I NEEEED ice cream every single night. I know that I need to take care of myself and this little one.
So I know what I am going to write about next is a little different from craving ice cream; however, I hope you’ll get my point. There’s a lot of things in this world that we want to do or even that we feel like we NEEEED to do. Some of those things can be good for us. Some of those things are not good for us. God wants the best for our lives as well as to have a relationship with Him. So, for example, if I am spending way more time thinking about or indulging in the ice cream craving than I am thinking about or spending time with God, it’s not a good thing.
How do we keep away those “cravings” that get in the way of our relationship with God? The easy answers are pray, read our Bibles, go to worship services. Those are good; however, we also need the right attitude. It’s okay for us to ask a trusted friend to walk alongside of us as we try to resist those "cravings” that keep us away from God. It’s okay to ask a friend to pray for us. It’s okay to get together with our friends to pray and to read our Bibles so we keep motivated. Let us be as a church community a support system and cheer each other on to crave a relationship with God more than anything else.
I love my blender. I should say I love my blender even more this week. I’ve had it since we got married. It was one of those gifts that we didn’t put on the registry but someone got it for us anyway. It’s a good quality blender. I love making smoothies with it!
There was just one problem with it. There was a small gap between the glass portion and the hard plastic base of the pitcher part. (Sorry about the non-technical language.) The result was gunk got caught in between. It was gross. And we could see it. But we couldn’t get to it. And we were bummed that there didn’t seem to be a solution for cleaning the gunk.
So a Tuesday I decided to make a smoothie. I picked up the pitcher and the plastic base seemed a little loose. Hmmm. I realized after seven years that the plastic base could unscrew from the glass part. I was in shock. I never knew. But it was so obvious. I could finally clean it. I gave it a good scrub.
Here’s the thing. I’ve learned that sometimes what God is showing me is so completely obvious, like, well maybe how to clean the blender, but I’m just being stubborn. I don’t want to be open to the idea of what He’s showing me through His Spirit. It’s a good reminder to me that I’ve got to be open to what He wants me to do. I’ve got to seek Him and ask Him to reveal to me how I can be a follower of Jesus. Will you pray that with me? Will you ask God to reveal to you and to our church community how God wants us to be followers of Jesus?
This is written by Kathleen Blackey, follower of Jesus and co-pastor at First Baptist Church.