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footprints

image courtesy daccentkueh

After reading the introduction and first chapter of Jeremiah, I feel a brotherly affection for the “weeping prophet”. I too, weep for family and close friends who don’t want to come to bible study because they are too busy, or feel its “not for me”. Those of us who feel that we are good enough or better than the next guy.  I don’t want to feel that I am better than anyone. Ever. An [inflated] EGO is just the acronym for Easing God Out.

I encourage my friends and family to gain a deeper understanding of Christ from time to time. I truly believe that learning more about Christ, in turn, allows us to learn more about ourselves and how we relate to the rest of their world.  However, with my toughest compadres, I am often met with contempt and even anger.  In these times, I return close to home to protect myself and my family from any negative reactions. It has happened so many times.

In the end, though, I can only look at my own heart.

And with each passing day, after another scriptural lesson, I know that I am called to do God’s work.  After starting a morning in bible study, prayer, worship and contemplation, God brings people into my life who are seeking Him.  I find it fascinating that what I just studied that particular morning or week is exactly the lesson or scriptural reference that someone needs to hear. And I am so honored and humbled that I can be the person God calls to do His work.

As I was contemplating His words through prayer in the early morning hours of our vacation, I heard my golden retriever walking around on the first floor.  This moment actually struck me out of my prayerful state as this is a rare occasion.  All week my sweet canine has had quite a bit of trouble getting to his 12 year old feet on the slippery laminate floor.  My husband or I have had to pick up all 86 lbs. of our fluffy canine to get him to his food bowl or to the back door for relief at least 4 times each day.

As I make my way down the stairs, he is staring at me with his head tilted and those big brown eyes tinged with age.  His tail gives a knowing wag as if to ask, “Ready for our morning walk? I have something to show you.”

We open the door to the salty sea air enveloped in darkness.  Lit only by the occasional front porch or streetlight, the quiet streets lead us toward the sound of the ocean.  I removed my shoes and our feet touched the cool, soft sand as we made our way up and over the dunes.  The pitch black ocean seeped into my bones and fear stopped me from going any further.  I took a seat on a wooden bench at the edge of the beach and faced the pounding waves. With the street and house lights casting a weak shadow past my place on the bench towards the dark ocean, I looked into the loud, vast blackness.  I trembled as I looked away and was comforted by a million stars twinkling overhead in the moonless night sky.  I was in awe of the beauty overhead.  I returned my gaze into the ocean and once again felt fear seep in.  But I somehow gained the strength to look directly into the darkness.   As the waves pounded the surf, I saw a faint light from a barge out at sea miles away from where I sat.  I looked to the left of the deep to search for more light, but only then did I find I was beginning to appreciate the darkness. With each crashing wave, I found the simplistic beauty in its raw nature. I was no longer afraid. The waves are just doing their job.  And then I was struck with how my life in Christ resembles this exact moment.

God used my sweet canine to remind me what life looks like in Him.

My life in Christ is this beach.

In the early morning hours of late July.

Behind me I have the man-made light casting a week shadow into my life.  This represents the good and evils in the world.  The shadow created by the man-made world points directly toward the ocean. The tumultuous surf and dark ocean is the ultimate destruction one will face after leading a life without Christ.  The harsh death and eternal darkness of not obeying God.  But the sand is cool and soft beneath my feet.  If I walk along the beach, I know that the narrow stretch of sand runs along the coast for miles. With the ways of the world to my left, and the dark ocean to my right, I will be guided by the stars, aka Christ, until the sun (Son) returns.

The beach is the long stretch that separates land and sea, and this path is well planned. It was created thousands of years ago.  The path that everyone knows to be real. To. Be. True.  This beautiful path has now been laid out before me.  And the sand remains refreshing and soft with each step I take.

And the stars will give me strength in the darkness.  As the waves pound the beach under the cover of complete darkness, I find that I no longer fear its deafening crash and blackest black ocean. The beach is now in front of me.  And even in this moonless night, I can see that it is beautiful. Of course there will be dark days.  But I will not fear what is at my right.  Or my left.  Because I can just look to the stars to lead me home.

[In loving honor of our golden boy, Boomer, who left us to be with our Heavenly Father in December 2015. May he rest in peace, until we meet again.]

 

 

xoxo

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I just find it so amazing that God keeps pursuing those who turn away from Him.  He is never ceasing, and always loving.  It is when I’m becoming completely overwhelmed, ready to ‘throw in the towel’, bone-tired of all that is in this world, I remember how God just keeps on loving.  This knowledge alone gives me renewed strength.

Take, for instance, the discovery of Nineveh.  In the 19th century, near Mosul, Iraq, Sir Austen Layard unearthed the site of one of the greatest cities in ancient times(cited: Wikipedia).  Back then, Nineveh was a powerfully wealthy city full of wayward citizens.  The people built their palaces on the backs of the poor; lied, cheated and stole to become wealthy.  Jonah, the prophet, was told by God to go to Nineveh with warnings.  Remember that story?

Well, the people of Nineveh repented, but then they became complacent and eventually began lying, stealing and cheating once again.  Enter the prophet, Zephaniah, who told them to get it right with God, again.  Did they listen?  No they did not.  So God not only destroyed Nineveh, but He said the ruins of the city would be reduced to a place where shepherds would graze their sheep.

When Sir Austen Layard finally discovered the ruins of Neneveh hidden underneath hundreds of years of dirt and clay, he found clay tablets recording details of Nineveh’s fall to the Medes and Babylonians in August 612 BC-just as prophesied.  But what I found most interesting, was that the mound of ruins used as a place to pasture flocks (Zephaniah 2:13-15) is highlighted by its modern name, Tell Kuyunjik, or mound of many sheep.  This was named by a predominately Muslim country who care nothing about Christian history.

So here is scientific proof that a biblical city existed and then destroyed while prophets are proven correct.  Why was it recovered?  Why bother?  Because God is pursuing even the toughest of toughs.  The thinkers, the scientists, the “I need proof”ers.

Before I became baptized, I was one of the “I need proof”ers.  And God, our awesome and powerful God, gently showed me some proof.

Shortly thereafter, I jumped into the water to pursue Him.

After I became baptized, I began to see and hear of many miracles done by Him.

The story of the Muslim woman from Iran who came to America under political asylum.  She became a Christian against her families’ wishes after Jesus came to her and restored her “dead” womb.  Her son is thriving here and she is proud to serve God through Jesus here in the US.

The story of the blind African woman immediately becoming healed after a member of our church prayed with her on a mission trip to her tribe.

And these are just two of the stories of the extraordinary works of God – in my lifetime.  In this country.  Why does He personally move me when I hear about these modern day miracles?  Because He is preparing me for the bigger miracles still to come.  Its as if He is saying “Now that I’ve got your attention, stay tuned.”

I am so excited for what the future holds.

I hope you can add a miracle or two to your life.  Let Him provide one for you.  He is just waiting to hear from you.

 

 

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Angel Eggs

Angel Eggs

Are you interested in a new family friendly science project to help celebrate the Easter holiday this year?  We are mad about earth friendly projects that cater to kids of all ages around here and  Angel eggs are a great way to teach your kids how to make all natural food coloring.  Plus, this dish is so pretty, it always takes center stage at the Easter dinner table.

In addition to being fun for kids, its a healthier option for the littles and its good for the earth.  Plus, the ingredients can be found right in your local grocery store, so its an easy project for busy moms.

Formerly known as deviled eggs (we’ve changed the name for obvious reasons), angel egg filling and dyes can be prepared a few days before your Easter dinner (just add 2 tbsp. of vinegar to each dye to make them last longer in the refrigerator).

 

Grocery ingredients

Grocery ingredients

Your Farmer’s market grocery list:

4 Beets  (red and pink)

Turmeric (orange)

1 bag of Spinach or Spirulina powder (green)

Baking soda (blue)

1 head of Purple Cabbage  (purple)

How to make homemade, natural,  raw, vegan food dyes:

Create red dye by boiling beets for 10 minutes. Place beet water in ball jar and add 2 tsp of white vinegar.

Orange/Yellow is made by boiling 1 tsp. turmeric in 2 cups water for 30 seconds.  Let cool and add egg halves.  The eggs will dye quickly.  Note: If you would like a deeper shade, add 1/2 tsp. more turmeric and keep eggs in dye longer until you achieve the desired shade.

Green dye is made by boiling spinach for 1 minute and letting it simmer for 10 minutes.  Place green dye mixture in ball jar with 2 tsp. white vinegar.  Place egg halves in jar into refrigerator for at least 24 hours.  Note: The spinach green is a much earthier green than the dye you will find in the store.

Green dye can also be achieved by adding 1 tsp. of Spirulina powder to a quart of boiled water.  Stir in powder and let cool.  Spirulina creates bright green eggs.

Purple dye is from boiling purple cabbage.  Wash the cabbage, cut out stem and cut into large pieces.  Place in pot and cover with water.  Boil for 10 minutes.

Blue: Pour half the cabbage water into a bowl with ½ tsp of baking soda at a time until you get the desired blue hue.

Secret to making eggs peel so easily, your toddler can help you:  place a teaspoon of salt and eggs into pot of water. Turn on high until rolling boil. Boil for 10 minutes. Immediately pour out hot water and replace with ice cold water.

Place halved hard boiled eggs with yolks removed into each color (we use Ball jars with lids). Place in refrigerator overnight for the brightest hues.

We like this filling recipe the best:

6 egg yolks

1 tbsp mayo

1 tbsp of pickled relish

1/2 tbsp whole grain mustard

fresh grated Parmesan Reggiano

salt and pepper to taste

Sprinkle paprika on top of finished eggs (we use Emeril’s Essence to top them off)

Enjoy!

Angel Eggs

Angel Eggs

~~~

Easter is a favorite time of year here in the northeast.  The warm sun melts away the last moments of the cold winter days and daylight lingers just a little longer each evening.  But what we love most about this time of year is honoring our Lord and Savior.  As you are dropping the eggs into the food coloring, be sure to share the story of God’s precious gift with your littles.  It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

xoxo ~D

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I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  Philippians 4:13

I am a renaissance woman.  I am a supportive wife, loving mother, forgiving daughter, humble horse trainer, thankful friend, budding artist, fierce warrior, passionate witness, thoughtful writer and humbled child of God.

I never would have said I were any of these things less than 10 years ago.  I was my own worst critic.  The inner voice told me I was lazy, stupid, selfish and hard-hearted. But through this long journey, God has a gentle way of showing me who I am in Him.  He has allowed me to see that I am wonderfully made (Psalms 139:14).  Because everything good comes from God (James 1:17).  And I am good.

A modern day poet sings it like this:

“This, this is for all the girls, boys all over the world
Whatever you’ve been told, you’re worth more than gold
So hold your head up high, it’s your time to shine

From the inside out it shows, you’re worth more than gold”

So you can choose to see yourself the way others see you.  But let me tell you, my friend, the world is a very cruel place.  There are so many skeptics and doubters and some will only see you in a negative light.  Why?  Because they either do not have the Holy Spirit at all, or they struggle with how much time the Holy Spirit resides in them.

Ask God to show you how He sees you.  Jesus was able to see the good in every one and recover the good from everything.

Only the full glory of Jesus allowed the adulterous woman to walk freely away toward a new beginning when everyone else wanted to stone her (John 8-11).  How she lived her life from that day on, only God knows, but she had the opportunity to begin again. In addition, only Jesus had the authority to forgive the crippled man He then asked to get up when the teachers of the law were skeptical (Mark 2:6-10).  What became of the man? No one knows, but he was able to go on living a full live with the ability to share his miraculous story.

Only Jesus could heal the boy of his seizures after his disciples failed to heal him (Matthew 17:16).  What became of the boy? I will bet money he followed Christ.

And finally, only Jesus saw the greatness beyond the darkest moments in his own brutal murder (Matthew 16:21).

So don’t let “the people” stone you.  Even some of the greatest disciples fail to heal.

Remember this: you ARE awesome.  Let God show you just how awesome you truly are.

With love, always, ~D

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Perfect Love

best-friendsI joined a group for new moms a few years ago and immediately felt blessed for the new friendships that were forged through the group. I became friends with one woman in particular but our friendship soon ended after I shared a personal story with her.  She became hostile and judgmental toward me.  It saddened me.  I wondered what I said that would make her act that way.  Then I got angry.  White hot.

Later on in the year, I saw her at a women’s function and said a few things I am not proud of. I immediately regretted being harshly judgmental towards her.  But I couldn’t help it.  A part of me wanted her to feel the judgment she directed towards me.

Did I get even?

Not even close.  I felt awful.  And it ate at me. How do I fix this?

Being home with a newborn,  I longed for a few Christian moms who would help me navigate through this new ‘mommy world’. After joining a couple of groups at my new church, I found other moms who scheduled play dates and helped me nurture my growing faith. 

Most days, I was so thankful to be surrounded by many awesome women.  But there were some moments I would stumble home feeling as if I were returning from another battle in the never ending cold war of defending myself.  I was still super sensitive to being judged.  I know I am a sinner and have done A TON of stupid things in the past.  But I was doing my part of confessing my sins to other Christians.  However, I wondered why it was sometimes met with hostility and judgement.

Then I began to understand.  Get out side of yourself, Dana.  Its so much bigger than you.

I guess at the end of the day,  I just need to let the past be the past.  I’ve learned from my mistakes.  And its OK that I am still not perfect today.  I am a work in progress, just like everyone else.

Nine months later, baby number two arrived and girl friends from our church welcomed our little bundle with homemade dinners for my growing family.  **By the way, never underestimate the power of a home cooked meal!  **

One of our visitors was the mom whom I got short with after “sharing”.  As she lovingly placed the hot meal in our partially finished kitchen, we chatted for a while.  I immediately remembered why I was drawn to her when we first met.  She was easy to talk to and so down to earth.  She openly shared lots of life experience.  But we still had a lot of mending to do.  Negativity was shared on both sides, and that was not easily fixed.

I gently declined her offer to join her small group.  I was overwhelmed with being a new mother to two baby boys and needed some down time.  However, through her persistence, I met up with her and together we shared our deepest shames in the parking lot of our church.

I am so thankful she was able to come back around and share more of her story with me.  It made me realize why she acted the way she did.

Six months later, I attended her baptism at our church.  In her testimony, she shared the stories of her past with the rest of the congregation as she accepted our Lord and Savior.

Today she stood in front of so many moms in our group and bravely shared her story.  She cried along with some who barely knew her, but also with a few of us who knew her well and loved her so much.  She poured out her feelings about how her father committed suicide and left her with a mess to clean up.

This experience has taught me not to take hostility and judgment personally.  Its not my place to “punish”others for the way they treat me.  Because I never know the whole story.  Only God knows, and He will right the wrongs. Plus, my good conscience beats me up after I intentionally hurt someone.  Its just easier to let God handle it.

I am just so thankful that I stuck around to see the story unfold.  His perfect story.  The story of how someone hurt so much, and after much work, comes back to Him.  Its always a beautiful story.

He has taught me patience and to keep going, and things will be revealed in His time.

I am in awe of my Lord and Savior.  His work is miraculous and perfect.

The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me – He will complete what he has begun. He will not begin to interpose in my behalf, and then abandon me. He will not promise to save me, and then fail to fulfill his promise. He will not encourage me, and then cast me off. So of us. He will complete what he begins. He will not convert a soul, and then leave it to perish. “Grace will complete what grace begins.”  Philippians 1:6

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dark clouds can't stop The Son from shining.

dark clouds can’t stop the sun from shining.

I was speaking to someone close to me today.  We spoke about current events, the recent tragedies that have unfolded and I shared with my loved one that I still weep for the victims and pray for them often.

It was in this point of the conversation that my loved one (L.O. for short) stated “you can’t make me believe that a child is better off dead.” WOW. That statement hit me like a ton of bricks.  I was shocked. I have no idea where the idea came from and I would NEVER believe or say anything like this.

I love this person so much, why would they say this?  Does she blame God for every bad thing that happens in this world?  As I begin to process this, I remember that I have been here before.  I am caught between my loved one and the One who loves me the most. Historically, I would be overcome with sadness. I would pray, and then feel better, but the  same situations would come up time and again.  After hitting the same wall over and over,  I would just. Get. Tired.

When I love someone so much, my heart aches for them.  I long for them to have a personal relationship with Jesus.  I weep for them the way Jesus wept for Jerusalem.  Now that I am older and have a family of my own, things have gotten better.  I am able to take a step back to realize I can keep being my God lovin’ self while continually praying for my L.O. from afar. The hurt doesn’t remain anymore. In addition, He gives me strength and stamina to get back up on my horse and keep going.

The truth of the matter is that this is not our home. We are sinners, and when we have the freedom to choose, there are some that will choose the darkness.  And it is those of us who choose the darkness that ruin it for everyone else.

In John 11:25-26, Jesus states:“I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”

Untimely death is dark, sorrowful, debilitating, makes me feel helpless, and at times, hopeless.

There is a sense of peace and comfort that is felt after we ask Him to take away the pain and despair.

He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.

Psalms 23:3

xoxo

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