What Are You Empowering?

(A quiet lake in Southern Idaho that jeremy and I visited recently)

God is so generous to teach us if we ask Him to do so.  Recently, I've been on a mission to learn to truly love my Lord more deeply than ever before.  The things he's asked me to do as this has unfolded have been varied.  Some of them have been easy and some have been difficult.  Each one has had purpose far beyond what I understood at the moment of command.

But obedience has brought with it greater understanding and light in dark corners.how cryptocurrency works

I wanted to take a moment today to share with you some of the specifics, finishing with one that a dear woman of God shared with me only today.

One of the first revelations came as the Lord asked me to begin memorizing Scripture.  I began by looking at small portions, either from the bible study I was working on or perhaps the reading I was engaged in that week.  But then, the Lord asked me to do something a bit more intensive.  I'd heard of the concept before, and decided that it was too difficult for me to accomplish.  (Hmmm, wonder where that idea came from???? Any ideas?)  

The Lord asked me to memorize a book of the bible!  In particular, 1 Peter.  And so, because he's also been teaching me to obey, right away, I began.  I don't think I can express to you the joy and peace that has come to me through this exercise.  Not only so, but did you know that repeating a scripture until it's burned deeply into your heart is a form of bible study like NO OTHER!? 

I've found that when I struggle with a particular portion, it is ALWAYS because the Lord wants me to seek Him for the meaning of that bit.  In 1 John 2: 27-28, it tells us that the Spirit WILL teach us! '  As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.'  And so I ask my Lord what those portions mean and He begins to open my mind and heart to understand through the Spirit's teaching.  

The Lord has also asked me to step out of some of the things I was doing to make room so that I can do what He wants me to do.  He's asking me to do the things that bring Him glory.  They are often quieter than the things I was doing before.  But the joy I've had in watching Him change the lives of people around me is without compare.

He's asked me to spend more time just getting to know Him. This particular bit I've been a little reluctant to do.  But He is faithful, and today, through a friend, confirmed my need for obedience in this area.  Thank you Jesus, I will follow.

So the last thing I want to share?????  My friend shared this with me today.  You empower what you focus on.  If you focus on failure, hurts, bad habits, etc, that is what you are giving power to in your life. This is why Our Lord tells us to think on whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable.   If anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me, put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Phil 4:8-9)

So.....what are you empowering in your life today?


Does following Christ really look like what we see in the Church today? Ask Hard Questions.

Just as He asked Peter, Jesus asks each of His children, we, who are disciples of Christ are asked, by the Lord himself, 'Do you love me child?' ................................'Do you love me child?.......................'Do you love me child?'

I believe He is asking if we love Him first and best?  He was showing Peter that he was going to need to lay aside whatever else he loved first and best and love Jesus himself, FIRST and BEST.  

The scriptures are full of passages demonstrating what that looks like.  We can believe an interpretation that we've been taught, or we can choose to act on what the Scripture actually says.  

I've often wondered why it is so confusing to read the bible and then hear it taught in ways that are often quite non-literal.  I've wondered why it has to be so confusing.  I've asked LOTS of questions along the way and the answers are different depending on who I ask.  But the most common response I've received is one that explains away what the Scripture actually says.  

For example I'll share the following Scripture with you that has often tied me up in knots.  Mainly this is because what I read has not been consistent with how I've lived or how I've seen others live.

1 John 3 says 'Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life[a] is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God. 10 So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers[b] does not belong to God.' 

Does it actually mean that a believer can't continue to live in continual sin?  The common explanation is that this means that while they will continue to sin, sin won't characterize their whole life.  Even this is pretty weak when I look at myself and others who say we are children of God.  The Scripture says that a child of God CANNOT keep on sinning.  CANNOT!

When it says that a believer is filled by the Spirit and can do things greater than what Jesus himself did, does it mean it?  What does the Lord say about that?  

And what about the spiritual battle?  Is that a real thing that we must expect and actively fight, moment by moment?  

If you've read this far, I am encouraging you to look at the Scriptures and ask the Lord to show you the truth.  Many of us have been looking to men for answers which we should be looking to God for.  Take 1 John 2:26-27 to heart and be taught by the Spirit of God instead of the spirit of religion. 'I am writing these things to warn you about those who want to lead you astray. 27 But you have received the Holy Spirit,[h] and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit[i] teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ'.'


Gyros at Home -- From Scratch! You can do it too!

I really enjoy Gyros and I've always wondered whether I could make them at home.  It turns out to be easier than you might imagine.  The most difficult part is finding ground lamb.  If you have a local meat market (not your standard grocery store typically, but a dedicated meat market) you should be able to get it.  Or, wait until Easter when Lamb is more readily available.  

I went to Dickman's meat here in Tucson where they had meats I didn't know could even be purchased, including Antelope, Alligator and a few other extremely unusal offereings.

I found this recipe online and did a small amount of tweaking to meet with my vision.  I have to say that I was utterly astonished at how precisely like what I get in a Greek Restaurant this was.  It tasted exactly like what I was hoping for!  This may be my greatest copy-cat success ever!

Gyro Meat

1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground lamb
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 tsp fresh oregano, finely minced
1 tsp fresh marjoram, finely minced
1 tsp fresh rosemary, finely minced
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper


1.  Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and mix well.

2.  Knead the mixture on the counter for 10 minutes - just like you're kneading bread. You may want to use a dough-scraper to help keep the counter clean.. Pick that meat up and SLAM it into the counter, continuing to do so for the 10 minutes. This is key to getting the correct texture. This allows us to melt the fat so that we get a nice smooth texture in the end. (Do NOT skip this step!)

3.  Form into a flat loaf - I like to put the meat onto a piece of wax paper, and flattening it into a 3" high slab rectangle. I cover it with another piece of wax and use a rolling pin to flatten it out, just make sure you straighten out the edges to form a rectangle so that when it comes time to slice, they are nice and even. You can bake it with a brick (wrapped in tin foil) on top of it it you want it to stay super dense but I didn't bother with that.

4.  Bake the loaf on a broiler pan (or pan with raised edges, because it will leak grease!) at 350 for about an hour and 10 minutes, turning the loaf over every 15 minutes.. I used a rack in a smaller jelly roll pan. (I did turn the oven up to 375° for the last 15 minutes to enhance the browning effect)

5.  Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing thin.

Tzatziki Sauce

2 6 oz containers Greek yogurt
1 cucumber, unpeeled and seeded
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
3 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Mix together and allow the flavors to meld for a least 2 hours before serving.  

I picked up some Mediterreranean flat bread from Trader Joe's, diced some cucumber, onion and tomato to add to the mix and we had one heck of a delicious meal.

Let me know if you try it!  I'd love to hear how it turns out for you.


Differences Should Drive us to Christ and Ultimately, to Unity

If you are like me, you've noticed that even among God's people there are an awful lot of differences.  We can usually accept some level of difference of personality, or difference of appearance, or difference of preference.  However, a difference of opinion?  Watch out!

When differences of opinion (or what we deem to be the 'right' way to think/do/speak/feel) surface, we get might touchy!  And often, we become downright angry and resentful.  This is especially true when someone else's different way of doing things affects us directly.

It's true that the world speaks a great deal about tolerance, but the reality is, even within the secular world, the tolerance only extends as far as what seems to not affect others in a direct manner.  (We could certainly discuss some different interpretations of 'effect' but lets not for today.)

I believe God would love to speak to His people, in partiular, about how we are to accept one another's differences.  I've seen in my own relationships, in my church family and among the people of God as a whole that differences bring separation and I believe this deeply grieves the heart of God.

Jesus was pretty specific about this concept in John:

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,  that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me
John 17:20-23 (NIV)

God desires unity among His people.  If that is the case, how do we deal with the differences of opinion?  And for that matter, why does He even give us these differences?

Do you know how many times I've asked God to just sort of brainwash me so that I could think the way 'John Smith' thinks instead of always battling in my mind about how 'John Smith' might be 'doing it wrong'?  Well, I can tell you, it's a LOT of times.  A LOT!! (maybe this is especially difficult for women since our position within the church is not one of leadership?)

But I am coming to believe that God has a unique purpose in allowing these differences.  We know that God works all things together for the good of those who love him and are called according to His purpose(Rom 8:28).  So that has to include all the differences right?

I believe that what God calls His people to do is this: when there are differences  significant enough to breed contention, he desires us to take our frustration, our resentment, our concern, our anger.....all of it.....directly to Jesus and ask Him to deal with it.

And leave it there.

Our differences are intended to cause us to more carefully look to Jesus as the author and perfector of our faith.  They are NOT intended to divide us, or cause us to hold resentments, or to avoid people, or to hate people.  They are there to bring us to the end of ourselves so that we can begin to look more like Jesus.  Ultimately, they are meant to bring us to a point of humble unity.

Yes, there are times when we do have to confront things that are in error, but have we first really left it with Jesus and waited for Him to point us to a godly confrontation?

These things are very much a part of what allows us to truly  and unconditionally love the people around us.  May we wholehearted seek unity through submission first to Christ our Lord.


Let's Be Free

Walking this morning, I was praying over some of the people in my life whom I love and feel called to pray for.  I was feeling pretty thankful and joyful at the beauty of the day.  It's a rare cool day, only 80 ° so far and breezy and overcast.  It's heaven for a Desert Dweller like me, especially when walking!

As I prayed, God impressed me to pray for the church.  I live in a town where only 8% of the population even goes to church.  8%!!!  That is a grossly small number of church goers.  And so, I prayed that we, as a church will feel the freedom to reach out in God's LOVE to those around us.

I'd like to impress upon you what I mean by that.  For me, there have been many years when what I thought was love was really just judgement.  I'm not sure where I got this idea, unless it was from other believers, that I was supposed to point out what sin was to those who did not believe.  I guess I figured that they really didn't know what sin was and so I needed to help them with that.

Now, I believe it is true that those who are not followers of Christ do not understand how he has called people to live.  We, in the church, call many of the things that unbelievers do sin.  Which is true in a technical sense, but not especially useful to someone who doesn't believe.

And so instead of trying to explain what sin is and is not, I find the Scriptures, especially Christ, calling us to love others.  Many times, the ones that he was freeing in the Scriptures were already believers.  But Christ needed to free them so that they could truly live for Him.  They needed, for instance, to truly know forgiveness so that they could share what a gift that was with others.

In the church today, I believe many of us are bound up in so much of our own sin and hurt that we are crippled when it comes to sharing our joy and our faith and our LOVE with someone else.

I'd like to invite you, if you find it difficult to share truth and light and life with others from God's Word and from your own experience of Him, to consider that there is some freeing work that Christ wants to do in you?  Would you consider that there could be some sin that he'd like to cut out, or some healing of hurts he'd like to do or some truth he'd like to reveal?

Would you search for it like gold?  Can you imagine the joy if you found the treasure of a freedom to effectively share the gospel of truth with those around you?  Can you imagine if the WHOLE CHURCH found this freedom and began to have this as our focus?  What would happen?  How would the world change?

I believe we are called to this very thing, to true Freedom in Christ which implies an ability to share without inhibition?  It's what I'm praying for the church and for myself.  Will you join me?


Take 2 : Measuring Up

This is my first time trying a 'Take 2'. I guess I'm not so much in the habit of revisiting what I have already done.  However, as it turns out, this will be my third layout based off of this design concept.  I originally took it from an art piece I saw on Pinterest that I fell in love with.

The first layout you see is one I did using Scrapbook Circle's February kit Story Time and the add-on for that month.  You can see that it is strips and lots of sewing along with a bit of embellishment.  However, I didn't get any journaling onto this particular page..

This month, I wanted to try that design again, however, I'm not one to repeat something precisely so I had to think about how I wanted to keep the same idea but change the final look of the page.

So I decided to use the strips as sort of a 'slash' across the page to 'point' to the photo.  I also wanted to inlcude a lot of journaling as I talked about some feelings I've been having regarding measuring up.  The large space below the photo was the perfect place for me to include my story.

This is actually fairly simple to accomplish with the only real tricky part being getting the right cut angle on things that you desire. I used a large square see-through ruler that had 45 degree angles marked on it to get it right.  Other than that, simply cut your strips and sew them down to a base cardstock and then go from there.

I feel like the final page has a similar feel, but is enough different that I don't feel like I just did the same thing over again.  Have you done a Take 2 from your gallery?  Show us on our Facebook Page, you never know we may use your layout in a future blog post.


Is it Fear?

If you read my blog yesterday, you know that I wrote a very short post about something I'd read in an Eldredge book that is ministering to me this week.

When I did that, I neglected to mention that Eldredge is sometimes a bit controversial (it was brought to my attention by a precious friend, thank you sister).  He gets accused of all sorts of things, depending on the particular group pointing the finger, but sometimes, it is as serious as heresy.

Now, I've read quite a few of his books and I don't believe that the man is a heretic, however, I do understand why he gets accused of it.  I think what it boils down to is that what he writes of tends to be difficult for some people to understand personally.

He's kind of a touchy feely guy.  He leans toward the mystical and that just freaks a lot of Christians out altogether.  He talks alot about emotions and wounds and how all of that plays out in our lives.  He speaks of the cosmic battle as if he understands it and has been involved in fighting it actively, as if he's a warrior alongside his warrior princess (that would be his wife Stasi). I've noticed over the years that such talk tends to make a lot of Christians extremely uncomfortable.

And often, when something makes a Christian uncomfortable, he's very sorely tempted to point a finger and scream heresy.

What people are uncomfortable with varies greatly from one person to the next.  For example, many conservatives are very discomfitted when they see tongues being practiced in the church.  Most groups are a little freaked out when people are manifesting or casting out demons.  Some more liberal churches get really anxious when you begin to define sin and name specific sins.  Charasmatic churches are a bit put out when you point out things about 'order in the church' from Scripture.  Evangelicals wig out if a woman is ministering.

Each group has its areas where we get leary of another point of view.  Have you ever wondered why?

Why are we so certain that our interpretation is right?

Why are we often unwilling to even hear another point of view?

Why are we so ready to point a finger at another group of God's children and label them as wrong, disobedient or flat out heretics when they see things from a different perspective?

Are we so very convinced that we have a corner on the market of hearing from God?  That our group is the one group that has ALL of it's interpretations in proper order with the stamp of approval from Christ himself?

I'd like to suggest that it is FEAR that is the author of such suspicious attitudes.  I'd like to suggest that we have given in to fear when we will not respect our brothers and sisters in Christ from other points of view enough to really consider their perspectives.  We become afraid because......what if THEY are RIGHT?  What if the way I've always looked at it turns out to be wrong, misguided, inaccurate or worse.....HERESY?

And so, like the Pharisees, we hide in our little Christian box.  It might be stamped Evangelical Free, or Methodist, or Catholic, or Baptist (Fundemental, Southern, Missionary, etc), Lutheran, Assemblies of God.  Whatever our brand, it's where we are comfortable. And the reason we are comfortable is because we are convinced that it's the 'right' way to think/believe.

Fear keeps us separated.  Fear controls us, our thoughts, what we are willing to consider.  Fear locks us up in a box not of God's making.  Fear causes us to hate.

I don't mean to say that we should just believe everything that is out there with no discernment.  But I do mean to challenge you to consider whether the reason that  you won't even look at a different POV in matters of faith is really just because of fear.  Our God is big enough to answer our questions when we come to Him in humility.  If our goal as individuals is to seek Him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, then can't we trust Him to allow us to find Him?  And can't we also trust Him to do the same for the rest of His children as well.


Did you know that your heart is good?

Perhaps in the secular world, this is a common thought.  But I'd like to take a moment to speak to my Christian friends who may be reading this.

I'm revisiting the writings of an author whom I've found incredibly inspiring over the last 12 years or so, John Eldredge of Ransomed Heart Ministries.  He's one of those people who seems to be inside my brain, and yet is also telling me things I either didn't know or forgot I knew.

Today, he reminded me, yet again, of the fact that God, my Great and Precious God, the One who loves me beyond all reason..........has given me a new and GOOD heart.  Where you ask?  You also want to know about this truth don't you?!  It's quite unlike any teaching you've ever heard in a church service isn't it.  (unless your Pastor reads John Eldredge too!)

The book today is called 'Waking the Dead'.  I'm listening to the audio version, thanks to my dear friend Doug Coults gift a few years back.

Yes, as I sweep my floors, I am reminded that I have a good heart given to me by a good God in order that I can fulfill His good purpose for my life.  Eldreged offers quite a few scripture references to back this up.

Lest you fear that the one verse which says the heart is bad (Jeremiah 17:9) must necessarily blow such a fanciful concept out of the water, I'd suggest reading that passage in context.  I think you'll find what I did when I read it.  It's not saying that the heart is bad, but that the hearts of God's people in that specific time were confused by the enemy of their hearts.

Their hearts had been so deeply inprinted by their own sin that they somehow failed to recognize that if they would only put their trust in the Lord, he'd save them and they'd be strong and healthy like the trees planted by the rivers.  Their hearts deceived them into forgeting His goodness.

But God has given us a new heart.  It knows the truth and it can walk in the truth and joy and grace of our God.  I'll encourage you to start looking for what God's word says about your heart.  I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.


Our Marriage is Old Enough to Drink!

Ok, I admit it, I was pretty proud of how clever I am coming up with this title.  Now that this is out of the way, I can tell you a bit more about my layout.

The truth is, it's super simple.  I pulled a couple of pages from the DIY Shop paper pad from the July Embellishment add-on.. Cut out the file I created for the title (pictured below) and added a few of the super fun and easy to use embellishments from the Let's Chat kit.  A really easy layout to make but I like the impact.

Since I backed the Silhouette cut with a bold yellow paper, it really does stand out.  To add a bit more emphasis, I outlines the cut with a fine black marker.

 This last rub on I decided not to 'rub on'.  Instead, I cut it from the sheet and stapled it to my photo for a slightly different effect.  I had to cut it out in either case and once I got it trimmed, I like the effect.  I did cut it out a bit more than I might have had I simply used it in the normal fashion.

And yes, in case you're wondering, our marriage really IS old enough to drink. We've been married for 21 years.  Sometimes it seems like just yesterday that we started this adventure together.  I could not be more blessed in my marriage.  Has it always been easy?  Heck no!  But I do believe that we've grown together and individually over the course of our marriage and I am super thankful for that!


June Picks Projects

I've been neglecting to post my projects lately.  But I thought I should share with you a couple of projects that came out of my June Picks for Blue Moon Scrapbooking.  If you want to know more about how I created these, have a look at the video below to get the scoop on the details.

I highly recommend checking out the Art Anthology dimensional paint!  Lots of fun to play with there.

And in case you really like watching the videos.....ta da!

Oh, and you can see a complete list of the picks that I chose for this month here.
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