Zesty!!! What a great word! It’s so fun! It’s. . . it’s. . . .it’s. . . .well, it’s zesty.  This week I’ve had zestiness on my mind because I recently baked some cookies made with. . . you guessed it, zest!!! Orange zest to be exact. Leah, a de-lightful young woman who grew up in our church and is now all married with kids and baking cookies of her own, share the reciped with me via Pinterest (I think) and Facebook  (I’m sure). Truth be known, Leah has shared much more than that with me. As I’ve watched her grow from young teen to a college age student to a now young mom, she has shared joy, servanthood, conviction, her great heart and  vibrant spirit which longs to live for God.  She is honest and transparent and funny and sincere. She was raised simply, and lived simply in a small, small town, with parents who I’m blessed to call friends and champions in the faith.

The recipe Leah shared with me is basic, simple and pure. Then you get out an orange and get to zesting!!! Just by adding some zest, followed with a spash of juice you get KAPOW!  This little ZEST of orange transforms this little biscuit of a cookie into sunshine in your mouth!! My friend Leah, is kind of like that cookie.  She’s “just a mom,” “just a wife,” “just a small town girl, living in a lonely world” (whoops! lost track there for a moment!) but because of Christ in her, she is something special. She makes you take notice, she makes you smile, she makes your day a little better just because she’s around.

I’m so glad God allowed someone to discover that the zest, that thinnest of thin sliver of peel, when added to a recipe has the power to well, ZEST THINGS UP!  Zest is fresh, zest is fragrant, zest permeates whatever you add it to.  You see, zest is powerful,  and what is so amazing is that is takes just a little. I mean just a little, bitty bit to make a big difference.

Sometimes I think we believe that we have to do something really big, really special, really amazing to make a difference. But I think it’s when we get ‘zesty,” that the real differences are made. A zest of kindness, a zest of joy, or patience, or helpfulness, laughter, prayer can make all the difference in someone’s somewhat plain, ordinary, mundane day. Zest is like a breath of fresh air in our lives, and in the lives of those around us, and that zest reflects the character of our God to the world.

So thanks, Ms Leah, for being a great example, a great mom, wonderful wife, and “zesty” friend. Oh, and thanks for the cookie recipe. Not only was it good, it was good for me. (and my blog!)

Oh, and that cookie recipe. . .you can find it here at http://www.stephanieskitchen.com/2011/05/orange-zested-cookies-w-sweet-orange-glaze/

Twenty Minutes With Jesus

20 minutes

It’s funny how one thing leads to another. . . since beginning this blog, several people have asked me where the ideas are coming from. Pretty much from the time of my day I call “Twenty Minutes With Jesus.” I understand that to many people twenty minutes with Jesus doesn’t sound very spiritual, I mean, why not thirty minutes? Why not an hour? Really, Dawn, all you’re going to give Jesus is 20 minutes a day? Well, kind of. I mean it’s my goal to give Him every minute, every second, every thought, action, motive and prayer. But I need some time in my day to just sit with Him and listen and learn from Him, and so several years ago I adapted a journaling and personal Bible reading plan from Dean Trune of Intentional Impact Ministries. It has become my “Twenty Minutes with Jesus” journal.

In my last post I talked about the whole being versus doing thing. I certainly battle that (most of us do, I think). I have to be very careful to make time to remember to cling to the sitting at Jesus’ feet Mary, while still embracing the passion and energy of my Martha personality.Yes, I tend to lean a bit towards the Martha side of the scale. (And yes, by a bit I mean try imagining Martha with a giant magnet and me wearing a metal suit!!)

But how does balance happen? How do we really overcome? We all know it needs to happen, but how does the “extreme spiritual home makeover” really happen? As I began to write this post, I wound up chatting with a friend on Facebook about this very topic. In regard to my life, I found myself typing out these words, “I finally figured out that I just wanted to be: to be the woman He wanted me to be, the wife He wanted me to be, the mom He wanted me to be. Once I got that down, the rest started falling into place.”

And I think that really sums it up. I finally saw what I needed, and just wanted it. When I wanted it, then God honored it by providing me this little method which took just twenty minutes. I think He knew that’s all I was ready for! In its simplicity, I still rarely allow myself to spend more than twenty minutes. I found that for my basic time with the Lord, if I didn’t limit it, I became the Martha of Bible study to the point where I wouldn’t or felt I couldn’t continue on. Since getting my twenty minute time down, I’ve added things like blogs, books, podcasts, conferences, my recent date with God, etc. at other times to draw me near and to build and enhance my relationship with the God I love and who loves me in return.

Basically for me, Twenty Minutes with Jesus works something like this.

1–Each day I begin by reading a Psalm. From that Psalm I write down any character qualities of God I see. For example, I may write, “You are faithful, you are king, your love is unfailing. . . .”

2–When I finish that I move on to Prayer Requests Usually these requests are personal, (I keep a separate prayer journal for other needs) based on the character qualities of God I desire to have built into my life or my family and for other specific needs as God leads. I usually limit this to four or five requests.

3–Then, I head into my Bible reading for the day. Currently, I’m in Isaiah. I’ve been here for a while–quite a while!! I’m good with that. I’ve learned spiritual transformation isn’t a race. I never set a particular amount of scripture to read each day, I just read until I feel God stops me by showing me something I’ve never seen before or something I need to consider, something that challenges me, or something I need to repent of.

4–After reading, I jot down what the Scripture is saying and what I need to learn from that. Again, I don’t write a ton, I just write enough so that I don’t forget what God is teaching me.

5–I’m almost done when I consider areas of spiritual warfare and repentance. These are most often in areas of character like impatience, pride, worry or self control.

6–I finish up with a quick reading from the New Testament and some notes on what I need to do as a result of all God has shown me. It may be to make a call, send a note, follow up with someone, work to make something right, or do some extra study.

On Sunday, my biggest working/teaching day at church, I will try to take time to look over the past week to see what God has been saying to me, or teaching me or where He may be leading me. Since the Mary thing isn’t always natural to me, I still have to take care that I don’t allow myself to have been so busy doing for God that I forgot what I learned sitting at His feet.

And as the years are going by, I find these twenty minutes a day to be the moments I crave most, I long for, and I cling to because it’s been during this time that He has shown me, clearly, not only who He is but who He wants me to be. And everyday, as I come to know more and more who I am in Christ, I come to know with confidence what it is He wants me to do. And all that in just Twenty Minutes a Day. . . .with Jesus!!