living ink

from 2Corinthians 3:

You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.

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I read this passage a lot last week – with the desire to write about it.  I love how Paul gave such a clear picture – that the Corinthians were to being a living epistle of Christ- not just in word as Paul taught them, but in deed.

And every time I sat down to put my thoughts in writing, you know what I realized?

Last week was full of my very own personal examples how NOT to be a living epistle.  seriously.  I won’t even begin a list because I failed big time.  As a Momma, Teacher, Musician, Runner, you name it – I blew it!  And that’s too depressing for everyone to read.

Truly, I find myself at the beginning of this week, grateful for His grace and for a Monday morning that gives me a fresh start.

At any rate, there is one place I can look and see the example that Paul describes. I can see it right out my kitchen window, in my backyard.

remember this?

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That’s our workshop.  My husband’s been in the process of building it for three years, with the help of his dad.  Over the last two weekends drywall has been going up inside.  This. is. big.  He is on the home stretch and we are closer than ever to guitars being made.  right here.  on Logger lane.DSC_0500

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His patience, dedication, perseverance, and wisdom over time is remarkable.  And – shall I say it?  I believe it is the result of the Holy Spirit in him, giving him every ability, whether physical, emotional, mental, financial – everything necessary to continue, even when he’s been discouraged or defeated.

The longer we move forward in this journey, the more I see my husband and this shop as a living and breathing picture of God at work! He is calling, equipping and producing at every step.  And someday, hopefully soon, music will be played on guitars my husband has made-  an authentic, living epistle to the glory of God!

And here’s my trip down memory lane…

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letting go

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“Let’s bake cookies, you know the oatmeal chocolate chip ones? Those are my favorite.  and we can take them to the pool on Friday to share. and lemonade – let’s make lemonade too.” That’s what she said yesterday when we were talking about our week and making a few plans.

I was a bit proud.

There’s one thing I know for sure: I’ve been baking cookies to share ever since she can remember.  It is as normal as laundry or cleaning around here and it shows in her idea.  My girl is starting to think like me.

So, we set out to bake together tonight.  And I found myself huddled with her around the mixer.  Trying desperately to let her navigate, I kept giving unnecessary instruction.  She’s been with me long enough to know how to bake cookies.

But, I’m not good at letting go.    I have this unreasonable expectation of perfection in the kitchen;  cookies should turn out a very certain way…

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I’m sitting here waiting for the cookies to cool and I’m reminded of Scripture from Deuteronomy 11.

18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.

You know, I’ve read this over and over this evening. While the Lord is asking for obedience from His people – He isn’t saying, “Look here, teach your children all of this, and they will go do it perfectly on the first try.”

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A few weeks ago my girl went thru assessment testing.  I was a little nervous about what her scores would be.  For the most part I’ve been her only teacher here at home, overseeing all of her education.  Are we on track?  Are we behind?  Have I done a worthwhile job?  All of these questions would haunt me when I was trying to fall asleep at night…

Well, the time came and I sent her into the testing – she had to go it alone and come up with the answers (obviously).  No help from me, other than what I had taught her over the last eight years.

Here’s the thing:  we got her scores today and she is absolutely on track – even ahead on several subjects.  I would like you to think it is because she’s had a fantastic teacher.  But it isn’t. Faithfully we did the work, learning each step of the way.  And when it was time she was successful.   Was it perfect?  Nope- we have some work to do.  But, that’s okay!

As I see  my girl grow into a young adult, who makes good choices, who thinks clearly even when it is difficult and who loves Jesus- I can see that He is working in her.  Maybe that’s partly because we’ve tried to be obedient to settle His words in her heart… or maybe it is because He is having mercy on us.

Sin and mistakes and poor decisions are probably in her future – I know they are a part of my growing up.  But, I’m confident that she belongs to Him.  And I can see that it might be okay to let go just a little bit, let her spread her wings, do things on her own- baking or test taking or any other number of things –  and become the young woman He is creating.

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a tale of two cakes

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This week, two opportunities came up to bake, so I spent a little time browsing thru recipes, old favorites and new ideas on pinterest.  And I found a recipe for strawberry buttermilk bundt cake.

I decided to make two – One, to give to a friend as a thank you gift.  And the other to take to a meeting to share.  I got started last evening, early so that I’d have plenty of time.

I got the first mixed up and into the oven quickly, and the second mixed up ready to go in the oven as soon as my bundt was available.

Now, I can admit that it is rare for me to make a recipe that I’m going to give as a gift or take into public without testing it out first.  But, I felt confident this was going to be pretty wonderful, so I jumped in with both feet – two cakes for two occasions!

The first bundt came out of the oven looking and smelling amazing.  But, in my hurry, I did not wait quite long enough for it to cool – and so, the cake did not come out of the pan well.  I cringed when I pulled the pan away to see many craters where there should have been the top of the cake.  It truly is the bain of the bundt pans existence, especially when dealing with a hurried baker.

Well, I didn’t give up and wallow in my sorrow.    I persevered and tried the second cake, prepared to wait the required amount before shaking it from the pan.   Guess what!?!  It turned out, quite literally,  perfectly!  The good news is that since the first cake was not good enough to give as a gift, we got to taste test it for breakfast!  I’m telling you the truth:  it is super yummy!

Here’s a photo of the cakes side-by-side – totally shattering any positive reputation as a baker I might have enjoyed.  But, I’m okay with it.

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Mistakes teach us.  I’ve learned something again, my Great Grandmother taught me long ago.  She used to say, when opportunity arose, “Patience is a virtue.  Possess it if you can.”   And that’s partly true.  Patience is a fruit of the Spirit – which the Holy Spirit longs to grow in each of us as believers.  I’m not sure I even have a bud of patience yet.  Truly, it is a fruit that I am lacking. (proof: last night)  But, maybe I’m closer than I was before…

Well, here is the recipe – I hope you can enjoy it!  Remember, even when it smells amazing you must wait to flip it out of the pan!  Cool it and then try it.   (I’ve just now realized why people say “cool it!” when telling someone to wait…)

Strawberry Buttermilk Bundt Cake

Ingredients
3 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
½ cup sour cream
½ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups diced strawberries
1/2 cup strawberry jam
Confectioners sugar for dusting.

Place rack in center of oven, and preheat oven to 350. Grease and lightly flour inside of 10 inch bundt pan. Preheat oven to 350. Grease and lightly flour inside of 10 inch bundt pan. Beat the butter at medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add sugar and beat at medium-high speed until the mixture is light in texture and color, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time, beating for 30 to 40 seconds after each addition. Scrape down sides of bowl as necessary.
Mix together sour cream, buttermilk and vanilla extract. add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with sour cream/buttermilk mixture.  Carefully fold in by hand the diced strawberries.  Warm the 1/2 cup of jam in the microwave.  Place half of the batter into the pan, then swirl the jam into the batter in the pan.  Then cover with the second half of the batter.  Bake the cake for 55-65 minutes.

(I’m not exactly sure where this recipe came from.  There appear to be many versions of the same cake online.  Even I altered this recipe to my liking…  But, the recipe I began with was from weekofmenus.blogspot.com )

every morning…

On this, the first day of our school year, when its a tiny bit dreary and gray, and I still have a few books to order for Mackenzie, and still a few more things to accomplish on top of that, I’m grateful for these words from Lamentations 3.

Yet this I call to mind  and therefore I have hope:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”

As a mom, who believes in Jesus, I’m not sure there is a promise I relish and treasure more.

I have these thoughts often, when I’m praying…  “Every morning, Lord?  every one?”   “Never failing compassion?  Are you sure?”

I ask Him because I know I don’t deserve it.  because I mess up A LOT.  But, these words from Lamentations echo in my ears.   And He confirms in my spirit, “Oh yes, I’m sure.  Every minute, of every day, My mercies are fresh and My compassion will not falter.”

It is a beautiful way to begin the school year – with confidence and joy in a sovereign Lord who will keep me and my children each day.

keep going.

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A few weeks ago I was window shopping in the Short North, in Columbus Ohio.  I wandered thru this cute little shop called Red Giraffe Designs where the artist was making jewelry on the spot.  Hearty pieces and dainty pieces, brand new and vintage alike.  They were all on display.

I sat and watched her hammer a few things into place on a pendant for a necklace.  As I looked around, I happened upon this bracelet.  And for a lot of reasons I loved it.  But, mostly because it said something I needed to hear…

keep going

Raise your hand if you can relate?

Friends, there are times that I feel like I am the piece of silver being hammered into place.  And make no mistake about it :  I am.

In life there are so many ups and downs, cycles of lows and highs – emotionally, physically and mentally.  When looking at my own reflection, in a spiritual looking glass, I know that it is all for good reason.  The Master is at work, creating the most beautiful masterpiece.  Polishing, scrubbing, peeling, molding, melting, engraving – doing all that needs to happen for me to become what He has intended.

But, there are times, even though I know all of this to be true, I need to be reminded:

Chin up, daughter – keep going! 

The very thing that is daunting, that is weighing me down, or that is extremely painful, may also be the very thing He is using to bring out a most glorious, unique design, for His divine purpose and His glory!

I’m reminded of these verses, and how very much I’d like to follow Job’s example of trusting the Creator who has planned every inch of my path.

When He works on the left hand, I cannot behold Him;  When He turns to the right hand, I cannot see Him.  But He know the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.   Job 23:9-10.

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for giving the strength and hope to believe that you have a purpose – and for giving me the power to keep going! amen.

embrace the first

So, Em played drums for church on Sunday.  No biggie, really.   It seemed like cuts of video from her life passed in front of my eyes all day long.

It didn’t help that the day before when I registered everyone for school, the final document stated that I have two elementary students and one high school student.  Which, in my head I vaguely understood since she’s taking two classes for high school credit as an eighth grader, but still… high school.

And it got me to thinking about all of those well-intentioned, blog posts I’ve read on the internet about mama’s living in the moment and treasuring events of life because  you never know when it might be the last.

Frankly, that thought process is overwhelming and heartbreaking.  I just can’t dive in and live fully if I feel like it is an ending. The effort is almost suffocating for me.

I decided I’m not gonna do it.

That’s right you heard me.  Not. gonna.

With the beginning of school on our horizon and a whole year of adventure, I’ve realized – There is so much possibility, not because its the last, but because there are many firsts to enjoy!

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Mackenzie’s feet may be too big for the toddler sized shoe section now, but it sure was fun going shoe-shopping, letting her pick her own, and see her fabulous sense of style come out.

Isaac may be old enough to go to the barber with his grandaddy and get a “grown up” haircut, but it sure is a joy to see his big grin afterwards, and let him regale us with stories of the experience.

And Em may be ready to take a high school biology course, but oh how I know I’ll love watching her excel at something she loves so much!

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You know, when I think about my Heavenly Father, I’m reminded: He is a God who follows endings with beginnings.  It isn’t the other way around.  Jesus’ own death was followed by resurrection and LIFE.  Hasn’t he promised to make all things new?  He is not a God of living to die, but rather dying in order to begin living eternally!

I can live in the moment not because I’m dying or because everything is ending, but because there is the fullest of life to be lived!

It is understood that there are cycles of life, seasons that come and go – Some may be my favorite more than others. But, with every bend in the road, with every “last chance to…” there is a robust hope for more just around the corner.  The hope of His goodness and his plan for my family, is so much greater than whatever stage is coming to a close.

With the first day of school coming inching closer on our calendar, I have made this promise to myself – I will mourn less when observing the “lasts” and gladly embrace the “firsts.”

 

always the groupie…

Every year Michael travels to different places to play in a band at the National Conference for Thirty One Gifts.  And every year I tag along.

This year we were in Denver and Columbus.  And it was as much fun as ever.

I love watching my husband do what he loves, which he happens to be amazing at doing.   I’ll admit, I’m slightly the biased wife-groupie.  But that’s okay.  I wish you could’ve been there to hear it.  The band was amazing.  And there are roughly 15,000 women who would agree.

But, its not just the music.  We get to hang out with some really wonderful friends – who we laugh with.  a lot.  It is just a fantastic time all around.

And I have to say that I couldn’t have appreciated the conference theme more – “Love Your Journey” is exactly accurate for us – I’m so grateful that being a part of this adventure is one of the paths on our journey!

Since, I can’t post video of the band here, or any of our other shenanigans for that matter, I’ll just post a few of my favorite photos.

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the beautiful sunrise on the way to Denver.

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a little note making, just before the first performance.

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the room, lots of music and lots of laughter happened here.

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my fellow groupie, Jess.  she’s always making me laugh.

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the theme

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one of my favorite photos from worship, Sunday morning in Denver.

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from backstage, in Columbus.

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Michael wasn’t in the mood for a post-lunch photo (actually I don’t think he heard me, it was really loud in there)  – but, Jonathan cooperated.

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one of my favorite photos

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the best photo I could get of the guys, without the normal craziness.

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