My Thursday Morning Muffin Top Experience Or “When God Speaks Through the Muffins”

muffinsMoses was on a mountain. I was in the kitchen.

I’ve shared recently that I’m living with my dad right for the time being, taking care of him after my mom’s death. He needs to be a healthier eater, but at 82, really has no interest whatsoever in doing so. I’m sure, if given the chance, he would live on Oreos and ice cream for the rest of his days.

Since he loves sweets, I do my best to invest in his caloric bank account by making things that allow him to think he is doing what he wants–grazing sweets all day, while he is actually doing what I want, grazing on healthy treats all day. OK, perhaps, I am that woman.

Today, I found a recipe from Whitney McNutt’s website wholelifestylenutrition.com for “The Easiest Gluten-free and Grain Gree Muffin Recipe Ever.” That is actually the name, and there is true in that there title.

Now, I’m all about easy, and I’m making gluten adjustments in my own diet, so I thought, “Why not?”

Off to the pantry I went set on my mission.

Bananas. . . nut butter. . . eggs. . . honey. . .  I got my things together and into the mini blender they went. Holy Cow! It made the most terrible sound. (Note: I would not recommend using a mini blender with 1 cup of any nut butter!) But even worse than the sound was the look of the stuff.

As a children’s pastor I’ve seen my fair share of baby diaper deposits, and I’m not making this up when I say the resemblance was uncanny.

Don’t get me wrong, the ingredients were all good things–unconventional maybe, where was the flour?–but good. I just couldn’t quite see how this baby diaper goo was going to become a muffin or twelve muffins for that matter. Yet, being the courageous woman of God I am,  I stuck my finger in the batter and gave it a try. Low and behold! I heard the angels sing!

So I dipped my finger in again–I even did the Naaman and dipped 7 times–just kidding, I don’t know how many times, but more than a couple!! Soooo good!

Here’s the thing:

Sometimes God gives us instructions that seem like a good idea at first. We are so excited to follow and obey.  But when we get going, things start to look a little, well, let’s call it messy. OK, maybe just plain poopy! It may appear like there’s no way this thing He’s asked you to do is going to work out.

This is when God gives us little encouragements to keep going, to trust, to try, to commit and to see it through to the end. When we do, it’s so worth it! It’s cause for celebration! You smile, you tell your friends,  you give God praise!  You are in awe of Him.  We don’t necessarily have to even understand it, we just get to be thankful for the experience of knowing His faithfulness and wisdom.

Maybe you are in that messy place right now. It may be in your ministry, job or relationships. You know God is asking you to press on, trust, try, commit and see it through to the end. I pray you will. Because when you do, you will know it was worth it, and then maybe, just maybe, you’ll think of this post and celebrate with a friend, some coffee and of course, some muffins!

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.” Isaiah 55:8

 

 

 

 

Finding the One in Wonder

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My husband and I ran across this beauty in my hometown of O’Fallon, MO.

Isn’t she something???

Honestly, best scarecrow EVER!! I love everything about her. I love her hat, hair, her skirt, and of course her skirt!! What??? She has a skirt made of flowers!!!!  Every time I drive by her, I smile and think, “Amazing!” She leaves me with a sense of wonder.

In teaching and leading children, few things make a lesson great the way a sense of wonder does.

When we teach in ways that leave children with “ooo’s,” ahhhh’s,” “woad’s,” and wow’s,” we know we are doing something right.

Wonder causes children to want to explore, question and dig deeper. Wonder is a catalyst for greater learning.

Wonder may come in the form of a story or an object, an experiment or an experience. It may come from seeing, touching, hearing or smelling. Whatever form it takes, it’s desperately needed in our teaching and lessons in order to leave our children hungry for more. Because when used effectively, the sense of wonder a child experiences in our classrooms unveils a wonder for the One who made it possible.

God is the One in their Wonder.

God is the One who made the colors, made the smells, made the flowers, and caused the reaction in an experiment. God is the One we point our children to in moments of wonder.

Whether you are teaching in church, school, home school or you are just hanging out with your kids, take the time to find those moments of wonder together and find the One who makes them possible.

 

Photo Credit: My amazing husband, Tim Farris. Checkout his pictures on flickr.

 

 

 

Ten Truths I Found Watching Old War Movies with My Dad

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Due to the circumstances of life and death, I am currently living with my father. We’ve gotten ourselves a little routine going, and part of it includes watching old movies together at night. Thanks to Amazon Prime, we have a veritable plethora of old films to choose from. Our favorites are westerns and war movies from the 1940’s and 50’s. I say they are “our” favorites because although they were his favorites first, they are now becoming some of my favorites, too.

We were a military family. My dad served over twenty years in the U.S. Navy so I know a little about military life. But military life as a military kid in peaceful times is not at all the same as military life in a unit during combat.

I have a new appreciation for actors like John Wayne, Gregory Peck, Henry Fonda and Robert Mitchum–such grown men! They were gallant, chivalrous, tough, strong and loyal, and if you watch enough of their films a few basic themes will quickly make themselves evident.

Here are my top 10 favorites:

Truth #1: You did what you were told even if the commanding officer was wrong.

Truth #2: You held your tongue out of respect for the office, and you spoke only when you had permission to speak.

Truth #3: You gave 100% all of the time even if those around you did not.

Truth #4: You did what you could for the best outcome, yet realized you are not  responsible for the outcome.

Truth #5: You dug the foxhole together and you were in the foxhole together.

Truth #6:You took time to laugh. (And smoke alot of cigarettes!)

Truth #7: You kept your word.

Truth #8: When you fell down, you got back up. When someone else fell down, you helped them back up.

Truth #9: You cared for those you served with even at the expense of your own life.

Truth #10: You never gave up.

My dad was an example of many of these truths. I am thankful for his influence in my life, for the things he has taught me and for our time together.  Being the strong, silent type himself, I doubt he would ever sit me down and tell me these things over his cup of coffee and my Diet Coke. But in nightly choosing movies that have resonated with the traits he has valued in his lifetime, he is, in essence doing that very thing–for which I am grateful and humbled.

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My dad and I while stationed in Hawaii in the early 1970’s.

Go Pack Go! (A Real Life Kids Camp Lesson)

Go Pack Go

Recently I was privileged to speak at a kids camp across country.  Seahawks part of the country. Interestingly enough, of the 5 camp directors, at least three of them were Packers fans. I’m not sure any were Seahawks fans, which led to some good spirited conversations about whose team was best.

Most of the 275 kids in attendance seemed pretty set on being die-hard Seahawks fans too, or so I thought.

During the first part of the week, we taught about Jacob and Esau and how Esau had given up his birthright for a bowl of stew. Everyone agreed that was just a dumb thing to do. We understood that you shouldn’t give up something you want right now for something more important.

Until. . . Tuesday night.

On Tuesday night, the camp directors had a contest for the four sections of kids. The section that cheered the loudest would be dismissed first for the night. First for what, you might ask? First to go get ready for bed!

Honestly, I think I would have been quiet. When I was a kid, getting to stay up later was the real prize. But on this night, I think everyone just got caught up in the frenzy of who could be loudest and who would be FIRST!!!!

Because we all know going first is most important!

So when the directors gave the instructions that each group was to yell as loud as they could, “Go Pack Go!” I thought for sure they would be greeted with near silence, or at least cheers of “Let’s Go Seahawks!”or something similar.

But no, I was wrong! So wrong.

These little Seahawk fans began shouting at the top of their lungs, “Go Pack Go!” over and over. Each section determined not to be outdone by the other. Seriously, I didn’t see it coming.

Later that night I sat in on devotions with girls from one of the cabins and the question was asked, “What did God teach you today?”

When it came my turn to share, I commented that I thought God taught me to be careful not to give up something important for something I wanted right now. I then told the girls about what I had witnessed and how it touched my heart.

Immediately they began to explain how they only mouthed the words, or that they didn’t yell at all. One or two friends ratted the others out saying, “Yes, you did! You were yelling, too!”

The next day at large group teaching we broke that down a little bit, allowing the kids to see how our lives can sometimes be more like a Bible story than we realize. We discussed how our favorite team isn’t exactly the same as our family’s inheritance, yet, we have to be on guard of the power of the crowd and our own flesh to want what we want now rather than hold on to our convictions.

It was a good lesson for us all to experience and one that would impact the campers for at least a day–until it was time for Real Life Lesson Part 2:The Discount Double Check.

Stay tuned for the rest of the story coming soon.

 

 

 

 

Nehemiah Prayer Time

Nehemiah 8_8

Nehemiah. He’s one of my favorite characters in the Bible. To be honest, I have a lot of favorites, but really, he’s up there as one of my top 20, or 10 or maybe even 5. . .

To coin a phrase from the Fabulous Bentley Brothers, “He built the wall, y’all!” But he did so much more. He prayed, he wept, he humbled himself, he led, he worked, he encouraged, he persevered and he saw God do incredible, miraculous things in and through the people.

Nehemiah 8 is one of my favorite chapters in his book. In a few weeks, I’ll be heading  to the Northwest to speak at a camp, and  I found myself digging trough the pages  of “his-story” for inspiration and prayer.

We find Ezra, the scribe, bringing out the Book of the Law and reading it to the people. He read it from daybreak until noon, and all the people listened attentively as he read. (Yeah, from daybreak til noon! Sometimes we hope for a good 15 minutes of attention!) While he read, the people all stood. They praised the Lord and lifted their hands and responded with Amen! Amen! Then they bowed and worshiped the Lord.

Verse 8 is one of my favorite favorites, “They read from the book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was being read.”

Now there’s something to pray for. As we teach, may our words be clear and give meaning so those we teach can understand.

Here is a list of things we are currently praying from Nehemiah 8 for our camp and our campers:

v. 3 May our campers (and sponsors) listen attentively.
v. 6 May our campers (and sponsors) bow their hearts and worship the Lord.
v. 8 May we make the Word clear and give it meaning so that our campers can understand what is being taught.
v. 10 May we all know the joy of the Lord as our strength.
v. 12 May we celebrate with great joy because we now understand the Words made known to us.
v. 15 May we proclaim the word and spread it throughout our towns.

Nehemiah didn’t just build a wall, y’all. As we read, remember  and pray “his-story,” his life, and ours, is building believers! Let us pray. Amen! Amen!

Bring the Ephod

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There are days, and then there are days.

Sometimes days last into seasons. The kind of seasons that bring storms, danger, trial and fear.

David was living on the run. As King Saul pursued David, David lived out one of those seasons. In 1 Samuel 23:9, when David learned that Saul was plotting against him, he said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring the ephod!”

“Bring the ephod”!

Three little words that said so much.

The ephod, a part of the garment of the Old Testament priest, represents Christ, our high priest. Worn much like a tunic, it was made of fine linen with gold, blue, purple, and scarlet thread. At the shoulders there were two onyx stones engraved with the names of the sons of Israel (Jacob).

The High Priests would bear God’s people, their sins, needs and burdens on their shoulders as they entered the place of God.  Christ, the High Priest, carries the whole burden alone.

When David said, “Bring the ephod,” David said, “God, we worship You.”

When David said, “Bring the ephod,” David said, “God, we need You.”

When David said, “Bring the ephod,” David said, “God, we trust You.”

When David said, “Bring the ephod,” he humbly acknowledged His dependence on God for His wisdom, direction, protection and sovereignty over not only his life, but the lives of those who were now with him. His request to “bring the ephod,” was a request to inquire of the Lord God Jehovah for deliverance.

I don’t know what you are going through today. I don’t know what season you are in your ministry, family, relationships, finances or health. But I know the One who does, and as you come before Him with your need in worship and faith, He is more than able to direct, protect and provide everything you need. You just need to ask. So, what are you waiting for?

Bring the ephod!

photocredit: Tim Farris 

 

H.O.W. I’m Praying Now

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I’ll admit it. I like a good acronym.

Recently, while praying, God put three little letters together to help me remember to pray specifically for three not-so-little qualities that are changing my heart.

H.O.W. does it work? It’s simple. (I like simple and am really just a simple girl at heart!)

Every day I take time to pray for:

H Humility

O Obedience

W Wonder

In praying for these three things each day, God is opening my heart to areas of pride that need to be removed, and my eyes to areas where I can put humility into practice.

He is showing me what a deeper level of obedience means and reminding me again that the little things are really the big things.

God is revealing to me His wonder. The sometime inconsequential things that are really meant to be appreciated and treasured. In my race to get to the next thing on my to-do list, I have been missing out on the wonder of God around me.

Simple.

Powerful.

Life-changing.

Thank you, Jesus.

“Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it. A man is powerful on his knees.” ~ Corrie ten Boom