Wednesday, December 28, 2011

For the Love of Cake

Years ago there was this fabulous European Bakery and Pastry shop downtown. It started out as Napoleon’s and when the original owner retired, he sold the business to a couple who had worked with him for quite some time. The name then changed to Pitzmann’s, but the menu remained mostly the same. They would arrive at the bakery in the wee morning hours and begin baking fresh baguettes and chocolate filled croissants and beignets and other pastries and treats you just would not believe. It was always a treat to go early for breakfast and sit at the bistro tables and linger over one of these fanciful delights.

My mom, dad and I were in love, yes…in love, with this chocolate truffle cake that they sold by the slice. The cake consisted of three layers of a super moist cake with a buttery chocolate ganache between each layer. The bakery was literally within walking distance from my dad’s office, so every Friday afternoon he would walk down and purchase 3 slices of cake for us to enjoy on Friday evening. This was a family tradition and because he was so faithful to go every week for years, he was on a first name basis with Gretchen who worked behind the counter and she knew the moment he walked in just what the order would be. On special occasions we would order a whole cake and savor every last morsel of it. This cake was SO DELICIOUS that one evening my mom accidentally dropped her slice on the carpet and ate it anyway! This was some serious cake, y’all!

Sadly, a few years back Pitzmann’s closed their doors due to a personal health issue. Since we could no longer celebrate Friday nights with that oh so wonderful cake, I began to look for recipes that might be similar. I tried several cakes and frostings, but nothing matched the fullness of that chocolate truffle cake. In time I gave up trying to recreate what was.

This Christmas I found a new cake and chocolate ganache recipe. I made a few tweaks to the recipe and hoped for the best as I sliced the cake and served it up to my family. Everyone LOVED this cake and I was overjoyed to have found a dessert that we all enjoyed. As I ate the cake, I was reminded of the moistness of the cakes we once savored from Pitzmann’s. Then, the buttery-ness of the chocolate ganache that we so looked forward to each week. It has been years since we enjoyed a slice of chocolate truffle cake, but every wonderful taste that was once enjoyed long ago came flooding back. This was an unexpected delight!

The cake and ganache are so quick and easy to make too…this could be dangerous!

Moist Vanilla Cake

2 Cups almond flour
¼ Cup coconut flour
½ teaspoon sea salt
10 eggs
1 ¾ Cup maple syrup, grade B
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Whisk eggs, maple syrup and vanilla. Add remaining ingredients and whisk until well combined.

Line the bottoms of 2 nine inch cake pans with parchment paper.

Divide the batter evenly between the pans. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Cakes are done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool cakes for at least one hour. Run knife around sides of pan to loosen. Place bottom layer of cake on a cake plate. Cover with ganache (see recipe below). Add the top layer and cover cake with remaining ganache.

Serve, savor, enjoy, and linger over every last bite!

Chocolate Ganache

2 Cups dark chocolate chips
1 Cup extra virgin coconut oil
4 Tablespoons maple syrup, grade B
2 Tablespoons vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a boiler over low heat. Stirring until chocolate is melted and mixture is well combined. Place boiler in the freezer for 15-20 minutes. Remove from freezer and whip with a hand held blender. The mixture will become thick. Spread over cake and Enjoy!

Monday, December 26, 2011

He is Coming and He Has Come!

Just a month ago I began my first Christmas season of deliberately keeping focus on the Christ of Christmas by reading a daily devotional that would, between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, take me through God's plan of redemption from The Beginning through the birth of Christ while pointing to our salvation made possible by His death on the cross and resurrection. In addition to reading the devotionals, I hung a new ornament on a Jesse tree each day, each one a reminder of how God loves, provides, disciplines and fulfills His promises.

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from its roots shall bear fruit. - Isaiah 11:1

As the tree filled, my heart filled with anticipation and excitement about Christ coming, about Christmas Day. This was perhaps my most highly anticipated Christmas ever! Looking at the Jesse tree is a constant reminder of God's care for His people, those of us who choose to receive the gift He has so graciously given.

Four days before Christmas I was filled with an unexplainable sense of awe, excitement, anticipation and joy in waiting for Christ, His blessings and the manifestation of answered prayers. I had great confidence that God was up to something good.

Over the next couple of days I kept thinking about Mary and how she must have greatly anticipated something wonderful as she watched her belly swell with child. During the months of waiting, did she ever doubt what the angel had told her, or did fear try to creep in? Did she ponder just what this God-child would be and do in this world? Was she anxious as she waited to see what God's Son would look like? Then, as the day drew near and labor pains became more intense and more frequent, and she and Joseph were in a dirty barn and she cried out in pain, did she ask God, "how can this be that Your Son would come into the world through all this pain and in this stinky, filthy barn?" Did she cry out, "where are you God?" as she pressed on in labor and did she tremble before Him in prayer? And then, when Jesus came through the birth canal and she heard His cry, did she rejoice? "He is here! Emmanuel God with us! He is here!" Did she thank God for choosing her? For allowing her the honor of participating in and witnessing this miracle?

Shepherds came and told Mary and Joseph what the angels said concerning the child. That they would find him in a manger, wrapped in cloths and that this is the Savior, Christ the Lord! (Luke 2:8-20) Did Mary feel peace that only the coming of the Prince of Peace can give as she pondered and treasured these things in her heart?

Christ came as a baby long ago one Christmas Day and He came this Christmas through "labor pains" as He birthed new life and answered prayers. And He is coming again. It may not always be gentle, but once the "labor pains" subside and His presence is fully here, we rejoice and glory for Who He is and how He loves.

This year, I can joyfully say that Christ has come and I know Him more fully as my Jehovah-Rapha (Healer) and my Jehovah-Jireh (Provider) - physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally.

Praise You Jesus! You are coming and you have come!

Friday, December 9, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas...

Christmas-looking breakfast...

and dinner...

Go light your world...

Angels we have heard on high...

My niece and nephew LOVE doing the Jingle Bell Rock with this guy...

The stockings are hung by the chimney (not really, but by the fireplace) with care...

Cole and Chloe's well-loved reindeer...

What Christmas is all about...

My humble little Advent tree. This little tree was just $5 at Hobby Lobby and although I am no artist, I am drawing ornaments to hang on the tree each day. I had no idea what a tremendous blessing this would be. Reading the devotion each day is truly building the anticipation and joy of waiting for Christ to come. I am so thankful to have this daily reminder to keep focus on what Christmas truly is all about...

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Recently in a conversation with an acquaintance, this person mentioned that they “choose to just believe the worst about people and in doing so, they are not hurt by others”. At first glance, this may seem like a good way to live…have little or no expectations of others and you won’t be disappointed…but, what are the true repercussions of this view? What may at first seem “self-protective” can easily give way to bitterness, anger, and a judgmental spirit while leading one to hurt his/herself and others. It can create walls of separation and isolation. In short, it’s just no way to live.

Looking more intently at this viewpoint, I see that this “no expectations” mantra is really an expectation that others are not good, are not trustworthy, are not kind, and so on. In converse, we can also swing in the complete opposite direction where we have heightened expectations of others to do or say certain things because, “That’s how we would do it” or it’s just how we think it should be done.

“Expectations kill relationships” – Ann Voskamp in One Thousand Gifts

When I first read the above quote, I lingered over it, reading those words over and over again, not sure if I agreed with what was said. I was stuck and struck by the comment. Should we not expect others to treat us with respect and compassion and love and…and…and…?

There is a delicate balance between expecting the worst and expecting what we view as the best in others. In a world that promotes “self” we could be easily swayed to think that other people owe us anything. It can be a struggle to land in the middle, and I admit that I’m guilty at both ends of this spectrum. It is a slippery slope to find the middle ground of hope because a twinge of doubt can quickly slide my thinking to see the worst in others, whereas a heightened view of self can quickly slide my thinking to view others as owing me something. In either case, I am harboring expectations and find myself disappointed and lacking in joy.

Ann goes on to say, “Without expectations, what can topple the surprising wonder of the moment? The joy-filled do not fill with expectations, the joy-filled expect nothing – and are filled.”

How many wonderful moments have I missed because of my own expectations? How many times has my tendency to slide around on this slippery slope colored my view of God and squelched His joy in me?

But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. – Psalm 73:2

To live in the middle of two extremes, where I believe hope is and ultimately joy fills my soul:

"the knees must bend humble and the hand must lie vulnerably open and the will must bow to accept whatever the Giver chooses to give." (Ann Voskamp)

Lord, help me live a life where hope and joy rule.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Stay Awake! Yesterday’s Hair and Coffee

“Stay awake” Those were the last two words I read in my Bible on Friday morning and how timely those two little words would prove to be for the next few days.

The tickets were bought months in advance for my mom and me to attend the Living Proof Live event with Beth Moore and Travis Cottrell on December 2nd and 3rd. Just after we made our ticket purchase, we found out that my brother and sister-in-law were expecting their third child, due around the same time as this event. We were very excited about the new baby, but for months we asked my sister-in-law to "not have the baby on the second or third of December"! Mostly joking, but half serious! Mom and I had never heard Beth Moore speak at a live event, so we were thrilled that she was coming to our hometown and we did not want to miss it.

Friday was a beautiful day, I had a great sense of peace and excitement about attending the event. As I was getting ready to go, with my hairdryer in full action working to get this thick, curly hair of mine tamed and straightened, I heard a click followed by nothing but cold air. Temperature is very important for straightening hair, the air must be hot and strong. There I stood, looking in the bathroom mirror with half-straight/half-curly hair. Praise the Lord for keeping me in perfect peace because this was a hair crisis if I ever saw one! My mom’s hairdryer is not nearly the fast-acting super-powered one that I use, but it got the job done and we were on our way. The event was open-seating and we wanted to be early for a good seat, so getting ready in a timely fashion was important to say the least. Even with my hair crisis, we were in our seats an hour early.

Just 4 minutes until the start of the event I received a text from my dad: Call me ASAP! I knew immediately that my sister-in-law was going to have the baby. We were a little unsure what to do…should we stay or go to the hospital? My dad was going to the hospital, my niece and nephew had another family member staying with them and my dad promised to keep us posted if the baby seemed to be coming quickly. I hung up the phone as Travis Cottrell and the praise team made their way onto the stage. The most overwhelming sense of peace came over me and I cannot describe the power of the Spirit filling the arena as 4,000+ women (and a few men) praised God in songs of worship. When Beth Moore began to teach us from the New Testament book of Philemon, I had no idea how much I could learn from this one- chapter book of the Bible. This was most definitely a God-ordained message for me to hear.

At the close of the night, we went straight to the hospital to wait for my new niece to make her arrival. In the wee hours of Saturday morning, no one seemed to think she would arrive soon, so my mom, dad and I went home to get a little rest. By the time we made it home, delivery had sped up and the baby was here! My brother called us with the news and we planned to see her before we went back to the arena for the Saturday morning portion of Living Proof Live.

My hair crisis continued...going on less than 3 hours of sleep, having much to do, without my good dryer, there was no time to do anything with my hair. I had to go out with yesterday’s hair! Sometimes going out with yesterday’s hair is OK, like to the grocery store, the post office, running a few errands, but this was a Beth Moore women’s ministry event! Not where I wanted to go with yesterday’s hair! The grace and peace of the Lord was with me.

To help keep me going through the day, I even drank a cup of straight-up black coffee! I have never enjoyed a cup of coffee, but again, grace and peace were with me because it was good and I did not feel tired all day long!

We were able to peek in on my niece in the hospital nursery before dashing off to the event. If you ever have opportunity to hear Beth speak or worship with Travis Cottrell, do not pass it up! You will be blessed beyond measure. I am still reviewing my notes, soaking up what I learned, and applying it to my life. Beth prayed at the beginning of each session, “broke the bread” and I believe all in attendance were filled.

There was so much excitement with a new baby in our family that I could hardly contain myself to get back to the hospital and see her and hold her. But, the event was also such a blessing and being in the presence of so many Christ followers joining together to praise Him was such an incredible experience that I did not want to leave there. I’m so thankful that God’s sovereignty worked out all of the details. He allowed my mom and me to attend this event and He blessed our family with a new addition. Although we’d hoped my precious niece would come before or after the event, she arrived right on time, perfectly in the middle of it. Not how we expected it to all work out, but in God’s timing and way, it was a perfect and beautiful weekend.

I “stayed awake” physically this weekend and I pray that I will “stay awake” spiritually to the things that I learned, the things that were revealed in and through each experience and word spoken.

Friday, December 2, 2011

More Waiting…and an Unexpected Christmas Blessing

I’m just four days into the Advent readings and hanging ornaments on the Jesse tree and the anticipation of Christmas Day is upon me. I feel it building a little more each day as I read a little more of the greatest love story in all of history. At the close of each day’s devotion I am filled with a great desire to turn the page and read on. It is taking quite a bit of discipline to patiently wait, reading just a little bit each day, excitement swelling within me. I love a love story and I know how this one goes, yet I feel like a little child who wants to hear her favorite book read over and over again, each time it somehow seems fresh and new and exciting. I could devour it in one sitting, but instead I’m savoring it and hanging on every word, following each twist and turn, relishing in the unveiling as it leads to something beautiful.

Cole and Chloe love to be a part of anything we do, so naturally I was holding her yesterday morning while reading our daily portion.

Still soaking up the day’s lesson, my mom and I began to reflect on a Christmas eight years ago when we received an unexpected blessing…

It was late November/early December 2003, I was working not too far from the mall so I spent many lunch hours meandering through stores and often stopped by the pet store to watch the puppies playing in the window. You cannot watch puppies play for too long before you start wanting to take one home! I set my sights on one in particular and I watched him through the window for several days before asking to spend a little time with him in the playroom. I greatly enjoyed playing with toys and tossing balls for him, he was FULL of energy and cuteness and after a little time with him I decided that on Christmas Eve I would bring him home with me.

The morning of Christmas Eve 2003, my mom went with me to the pet store (I know…buying animals from pet stores is not the best thing to do and there are numerous sites for finding rescue animals in need of good homes…now my dad volunteers with Pilots N Paws to help get rescue pets to new homes, so we’d definitely go that route in the future). Back to the pet store…I went straight to the back of the store and looked for my puppy, but he was nowhere to be found. I looked in the playroom and finally asked an employee about him. She said he had been adopted out the day before. I was crushed. Sure, there were other puppies in need of homes, but none of them were “my puppy”. Leaving empty handed, my eyes filled with tears as we made our way through the sea of last minute shoppers and out to the parking lot. My mom suggested we go to the other pet store nearby just to take a look. I was doubtful that they would have a puppy for me, it was Christmas Eve after all…I was certain most puppies had found their way into homes already. Nevertheless, I agreed to take a look.

There were several puppies awaiting homes in this pet store and I carefully looked at each one, watching them sleep and play in their kennels. I was already emotional and did not want to make a quick decision, so we watched and waited…there were two tiny Maltese puppies rolling around in a kennel together. After watching them play for a while I asked to see the smaller one of the two. As soon as the pet store employee placed her in my arms I knew that she was “my puppy”. I held her close and did not let her go. It was just moments later that we heard a howling cry and looked to see her playmate, still in his kennel, looking towards us turning his little head up and letting out a sorrowful cry. Immediately my mom asked to hold him and soon after, we left that store with not one puppy, but two.

Flash forward eight years and we still feel so blessed. I cannot imagine having any other puppy. During that time when my hope was set on one puppy, God had a better plan in motion to fulfill the longing in my heart. Cole and Chloe were unexpected, but perfect gifts that day. On a day that started out full of hope, then quickly filled with sadness and letting go of my heart’s desire and my one Christmas wish, I opened my hands to receive the gift God had prepared for me.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep…And God said, “Let there be light…and it was good.”- Genesis 1:1-3

I am so very thankful today that God saw darkness and gave us light in the beginning, in the birth of Christ and in our souls. That He takes darkness and nothingness and creates something. That when Mary’s response to the angel was, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38), and she died to her expectations and her plans, fully accepting the gift God was giving to her, He filled her emptiness with the fullness of Himself.

I am so thankful that He sees darkness and emptiness and needs and longings and He knows better than I do how to fill those places and all I have to do is open my hands to receive the gifts He has prepared. When I don’t know what to ask, He knows and He gives and it is good.

He who did not spare His own son, but gave him up for us all, how will He not also, along with him, graciously give us all things. – Romans 8:32

I’ve been putting up the Christmas tree and setting out other decorations this week, flooding darkened places with tiny white lights, turning on lamps, and lighting candles all as reminders of the light He gives.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Thanksgiving was so much fun with all of the cooking and baking and eating and family time…

I found the recipes for each of these desserts at Elana's Pantry. I pretty much followed them as she directs, except I used maple syrup in place of the agave. They were really wonderful tasting, easy to make and good to make ahead and keep in the refrigerator because the flavors had more time to really meld together. For the carrot cake cupcakes, I used a maple cashew cream frosting...slightly tart but much lighter than a traditional cream cheese and super yummy with the carrot cake. The chocolate cake was made with coconut flour. It was really rich and decadent, yet much lighter than a typical chocolate cake.

Now we enter the season of advent…the season of waiting…waiting with hope and expectancy for many things. I remember how exciting this time of year was to me as a child. My brother and I would anxiously anticipate what gifts might be hidden in the house for us and we would set about to find them…searching through closets, under beds, in drawers. Then, when the presents were wrapped and under the tree we would shake them and peer as hard as we could trying to see through the paper and sometimes, yes, we even peeled back the paper in an attempt to see what might be written on the box. We were hopeful and forced to wait until Christmas Day to receive the gifts, but we were not always peaceful and patient in the wait.

Hope: the desire of some good with expectation of obtaining it.

The things I hope for now are not like the Cabbage Patch Kids, bikes, and doll houses I hoped for as a child. The things I hope for cannot be bought on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. The things I hope for cannot be found at the mall. Yet, there are good things I desire and greatly expect to obtain. There are presents figuratively wrapped under a tree, but I cannot shake them, peel back the paper or strain my eyes to see what they might be. And honestly, I don’t want to know until the day when the One who wrapped them up tells me I can open them. One thing I learned as a child too impatient to wait for Christmas Day is that some of the thrill is lost when you already know what’s inside. There is an excitement in the unknowing, in the unveiling, in the peeling back of the paper and lifting the lid of the box and removing the tissue paper and finally seeing what has been so carefully selected and tenderly wrapped especially for you.

"Whoever does not know the austere blessedness of waiting--that is, of hopefully doing without--will never experience the full blessing of fulfillment. For the greatest, most profound, tenderest things in the world, we must wait." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

As I wait for things long hoped for, I know my ultimate hope is in Jesus, the One who makes Christmas. Without His coming we would have no true Christmas. This year, I am creating a Jesse Tree to keep focus on the main thing. I will be lighting a candle each night, reading a passage of scripture and hanging an ornament on a Jesse Tree as a reminder of what it is I truly await. On Christmas Day I will celebrate the end of waiting and the beginning of the flooding light and proclaim:

All of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding ‘Yes!’ And through Christ, our ‘Amen’ ascends to God for His glory. - 2 Corinthians 1:20

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


The Thanksgiving menu is planned, the groceries are bought, the turkey is thawing and I’m ready to start cooking! Last year was the first year for my mom and me to cook an entire Thanksgiving meal. Everything turned out better than we could have even hoped, so we are pretty excited to try our hand at it again this year.

As important as a good meal is, I’m taking a little time out to reflect on some of the things for which I’ve been thankful this year. Afterall, what is a good meal without first giving thanks?

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him who have been called according to His purpose. – Romans 8:28

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

He took the bread and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "take, eat..." - 1 Corinthians 11:23-24

From the silly to serious and everything in between, here are some of my thanks offerings...


Playing games with my nephew

Birthday cards

Little birds tucked under little arms

Chocolate mustaches

Green grass

Sunlight early in the morning until late in the evening

Mutual encouragement

My Holy Counselor

The sustaining, comforting, strengthening power of God’s word.

The clack, clack, clack of my niece’s princess shoes on the tile floor



Heart that pumps blood, lungs that breathe air, legs that carry me

Floral prints

My niece singing “Jesus Loves Me” during a pancake breakfast and again while playing on the beach


Chocolate chip cookies

Sword clouds in the sky

Wet dogs on the back porch

Testimony of others

Clean kitchen before bedtime

Lara bars

Endless questions


The Cross

God’s love, mercy, forgiveness

Sunsets on the beach

It’ll be ok…just be nice

Clean dogs

Awakening to a new day of God’s plans

My nephew reading “Mad Maddie Maxwell” to me

Cows grazing in green pasture


Missing others and being missed by others

Surrender and acceptance


Farmers Market


Walking in the rain



Swimming in the deep

Basketball in the pool

Fresh paint

Learning to enjoy the journey

Laundry…stacks getting smaller

Sorting through old stuff

Rainbow after the storm

Movies on the beach

Friends in unexpected places

Old photo albums

Cobwebs in high places

He knows

Little brown bunnies waiting in the grass

Hens pecking in the neighbor’s yard

Lizard houses

Facing truth, letting go, tear-filled nights

The One who collects my tears

Beauty rising from the ashes of refining fires


Running the race

5 year-olds birthdays

Monkey cards with monkey sounds

Eyes to see needs, opportunities to be hands and feet

Hot tea

Life-giving words

It was really difficult to pick highlights from the ever-growing list of things for which to be thankful. I am blessed beyond measure and my cup truly overflows.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow. – Romans 15:13

Monday, November 14, 2011

Half Marathon: More than Running

Running is something I’ve enjoyed for years. It is therapeutic and relaxing and an opportunity to really think without distractions. Running a half marathon is something I’ve wanted to do for years. After going through the discouragement and confusion and fiery health trials of the last six years, I now felt strong and healthy and ready to run with endurance the Pensacola Half Marathon. In the weeks leading up to the run I began to see this as a marker of sorts in my life, a date on a timeline to mark the overcoming and putting behind of the past and the beginning of something new.

I awoke unexpectedly at 2:00 a.m., fully awake I decided to get up and prepare physically, mentally and spiritually for the task of running 13.1 miles. I asked the Lord to strengthen every bone, joint, tendon, ligament, organ, nerve, tissue and cell of my body; to give me a mind staid on Him so that I would not become discouraged by mountainous hills (yes, as I found out yesterday, Pensacola has some hills that appear as mountains or walls when you are on foot); and to let this day be a reminder of the healing and restoration He has given me.

The blessing of friends was a great way to start the race. At 6:30 myself and three friends along with about 1,400 other runners set out to accomplish goals, prove something to ourselves or others, qualify for greater challenges (some ran a full marathon in hopes of qualifying for the Boston marathon), or mark time with a reminder of overcoming illness or achieving a personal fitness goal. During the run, my eyes were opened to or shown afresh some interesting and important lessons that I found applicable to more than just running and beneficial for life.

Lesson 1: Encourage others to do their best.
About 2 miles into the run, my friends encouraged me to do my best and said they’d see me at the finish. At that point, I began to run a little faster falling into a challenging yet manageable pace to persevere until the end.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Lesson 2: Find your natural pace.
Once I settled into my natural pace, I did not become concerned with who or how many people sped passed me or stayed behind me. In order to accomplish the distance set before me, I couldn’t be concerned with or let anyone else’s pace cause me to become anxious and speed up or complacent and slow down or defeated and give up. I joyfully continued on.

Let us run with endurance the race set before us. – Hebrews 12:1

Lesson 3: Speak God’s Word.
I had an arsenal of scriptures memorized to encourage me throughout the run. No hills, wind, physical ache or mental discouragement could contend with the Word of God.

So will my word be which goes forth from my mouth, it will not return to me empty, without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it, without accomplishing that which I desire. – Isaiah 55:11

Lesson 4: Hills can look like mountains and walls, but you just have to take it one step at a time and you’ll reach the top.
There were three main hills that seemed like mountains upon first look. The first one, I thought I had surely reached the top, but quickly realized that it had just leveled a little and was still inclining. The second one looked like a wall. It was so steep and seemed almost impossible as I approached from a distance. The third one was steep and long and I wondered how many miles of straight uphill I would have run by the time I finished it. I chose to praise the Lord for each hill, taking each one a step at the time.

Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, His holy mountain. – Psalm 48:1

Lesson 5: Surround others with love, support and encouragement…even if you don’t have a close personal relationship, speak life-giving words when given the opportunity.
I was greatly encouraged by the neighbors who rose early and came out of their homes to cheer on all of the runners. Shouting: “Good Job!”, “Way to go!”, “You can do it!”

I was even more encouraged when someone I didn’t know was cheering and as I ran passed they called me by name (our names were printed on our bibs).

The best feeling was when someone I knew, a familiar face, called me by name and cheered me on. Oh the importance of speaking words of encouragement and support to those we know…our friends and family…the relationships we should cherish, yet so often take for granted. Cheer them on….whatever the race they are running…speak words that build up. Life is too short to not speak kind words, encouraging words, life-giving words. Just a few words to let someone know you see them, you think of them, they are important in your life can mean so very much…they can halt fears, promote faith, restore confidence. It is not enough to assume our friends and loved ones know how we feel, we should speak those words to them and let them know they have a cheering section in their lives.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders… - Hebrews 12:1

As I entered the final mile of the run, I could hear the roar of the crowd at the finish line as each person ahead of me finished their race. A little further and I could see the letters forming the word: FINISH. Then, I was down to the last tenth of a mile and I was able to sprint through it. I had been encouraged all along the way by speaking out the word of God and by others speaking out words of affirmation and encouragement to me. I finished the race in 2 hours, 5 minutes, and 44 seconds, not exhausted and worn out, but exhilarated and excited and with a sense of a job well done.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. – 2 Timothy 4:7

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Epitome of Fall

Pumpkin chocolate chip bars and hot tea….plus an arrangement of fresh roses. This was the morning after an evening of fellowship with some beautiful sisters in Christ as we wrapped up a 10 week study on the Fruit of the Spirit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things, there is no law. – Galatians 5:22-23

As I enjoyed my fall treats the next morning, I thought back over the last several weeks of the study and how blessed I am to have been invited into this group for a time of studying God’s Word and developing friendships. God calls us to live a “one another” life, meaning that we aren’t to go it alone, but we are to connect with others in many ways:

Accept one another: Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. – Romans 15:7

Admonish one another: Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. - Colossians 3:16

Bear one another’s burdens: Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2

Care for one another: so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. – 1 Corinthians 12:25

Comfort one another: Therefore encourage one another with these words. – 1 Thessalonians 4:18

Confess our faults to one another: Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. – James 5:16

Encourage one another : Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Greet one another: Greet one another with a holy kiss – Romans 16:16

Be honest with one another: Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices – Colossians 3:9

Honor one another: Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. – Romans 12:10

Be hospitable to one another: Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. – 1 Peter 4:9

Be kind to one another: Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. – Ephesians 4:32

Love one another: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34-35

Pray for one another: Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. – James 5:16

Be of one mind with one another: May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. – Romans 15:5-6

Serve one another: serve one another humbly in love. – Galatians 5:13

Spur one another on: And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds – Hebrews 10:24

Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching. – Hebrews 10:25

As I was relishing our time together in this study and thinking about the upcoming holiday season, my thoughts turned to Thanksgiving and I was reminded of Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts. This book has made a tremendous impact on me this year. In it, Ann reminds us to be thankful in all things. Even those things we think are setbacks, upheavals, pointless disturbances and tedious annoyances. She reminds us to see them for what they really are: the will of God. We tend to curse the things we don’t understand because our spiritual senses are impaired and we must tune our senses to the grace of Christ.

The amazing thing here for me is that I prayed for God to send me godly girl friends who I could really trust and connect with, but it was through an injury of sorts that the blessing of this wonderful group of women came into my life. I was quite annoyed with the fact that I was having some issues that led me to the chiropractor. I thought, “what a hassle, I have to go week after week and get these adjustments”, and honestly, it got a little worse, before it got better. But, God had a plan in place for me to meet a wonderful new friend who invited me into this Bible study and through what I considered a setback, He brought tremendous blessing.

As Ann says in her book, “we must change not what we see, but how we see” and “the discipline or the practice of giving thanks is the way to joy, the way we enter into God, the way we practice the presence of God”.

Sometimes the Lord has to break us down at the strongest part of our self-life before He can have His own way of blessing with us. Wrestle to see the blessing and all faces become the face of God. (see Genesis 33:10)

The secret to joy: keep seeking God where we doubt He is. – Ann Voskamp

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Waiting for Cookies

This happened several months ago, but I’m constantly reminded of the lesson I learned from my four-year-old nephew…

One morning he asked me to bake chocolate chip cookies to have for a snack after lunch. Just after lunch I went to the kitchen to prepare the cookie dough. As my nephew took his last bite of lunch, he walked to the pantry and said, “No, I want graham crackers instead, I don’t want chocolate chip cookies.” He proceeded to eat a few graham crackers and then declared he was full. Two and a half hours later, I baked the cookies for my niece, my mom and myself. My nephew had become excited again about the opportunity to have fresh baked cookies, so we placed one on a plate for him as well. He only poked his finger through the chocolate chips that were visible from the top of the cookie, licked his finger a few times, then declared, “I’m done.”

I began to think how many times I ask God for something good and grow tired of waiting, becoming impatient with the wait, turning to other, lesser things to fill me up. How often do I trade “fresh baked, warm and gooey cookies” for “quick, less satisfying, dry, plain graham crackers”? How often do I choose to “fill up” on TV, Internet, busyness, mindless things of this world, rather than wait for Holy God to speak, wait to clearly discern, wait to see His glory?

The difference between a graham cracker and a chocolate chip cookie is about 20 minutes…

Father God, in Jesus’ name I ask that you will strengthen me to hold fast to Your word, to pray expectantly, and to wait with great focus and anticipation at what You are saying and doing. Lord, I don’t want to fight you for the things I don’t truly want, please help me accept what You give that I truly need.

And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” – Mark 10:51

When Jesus asks what I want Him to do for me, I pray my requests will not be selfish, but will be guided by a heart laid bare before the One who redeems and lights my way, by a heart awaiting His divine guidance and wisdom, and by a heart that desires ultimately to bring Him praise, honor and thanksgiving.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 ½ Cups Almond Flour/Meal
½ tsp. Celtic Sea Salt
½ tsp. Baking Soda
1/3 Cup Grapeseed Oil – or – ¼ to 1/3 Cup Coconut Oil
½ Cup Honey or Maple Syrup
2 tsp. Vanilla
1 Cup Bittersweet Chocolate Chips (can use semisweet for a sweeter taste)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together all ingredients. Scoop or roll into 1-inch balls and place on a stone cookie sheet or a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes. (Makes about 24 cookies)

Friday, October 7, 2011

New Challenges and a Hearty Fall Breakfast

I finally made the commitment last week…I’m officially registered to run a half marathon in just about five short weeks. I’ve always wanted to run a half marathon and who knows…maybe one day I will run a full marathon…we’ll see how this half goes. On Wednesday morning I entered full-on training mode. I set my clock for a 5:00 a.m. wake up call…this is going to take some adjusting! I think I actually got out of bed around 5:40 or so and hit the pavement about an hour later. I usually work out in the evenings, so getting up-and-going early is going to be a challenge, but I don’t want to be in complete shock at 6:30 a.m. on race day morning, so it’s one I’m willing to embrace.

The last few days have been a test to rise early, but every morning as the clock radio comes on I remind myself of Proverbs 31:15 – She rises while it is yet night. In rising early, I can definitely see a big jump in energy throughout each day and more time to accomplish more daily tasks and more discipline to get in bed at a decent hour each night. I’m hoping to form some new and worthy habits over these next weeks.

I’ve always been a BIG fan of breakfast and with my new schedule it is essentially important to refuel with a well-balanced meal after a good workout. Wednesday morning I had the BEST Hearty Fall Breakfast: scrambled eggs with veggies, cauliflower mash, cantaloupe and kiwi.

This particular morning I scrambled the eggs with spinach, broccoli, turmeric and paprika. Mushrooms and red onions are also great additions, but we were out of those on this particular morning. Adding veggies to eggs is a most excellent way to pack extra nutrition into the day and the turmeric is a great anti-inflammatory/anti-cancer spice.

Cauliflower is in high season right now, so it is super easy to find in abundance and is one of my most favorite and nutrient dense veggies to eat. I literally cannot get enough of it right now…eating it for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner whenever possible.

Cauliflower mash

1 Head Cauliflower
¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea Salt (to taste)

Quarter cauliflower and place in a medium pot with a small amount of water. Cook covered over medium heat until tender. Place cauliflower, olive oil and sea salt in a Vitamix or blender and process until the consistency of mashed potatoes. Serve warm and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Restin' in Destin

My blog has nearly died on the vine…I’m not sure what happened to September, except to say that it flew by, so I must have been having fun! It’s a new season (yay for fall!) and I just spent a couple of nights in Destin, so I’m feeling refreshed and hoping my blog can be revived too!

Going out of town where you can’t prepare your own food is scary business when you must eat gluten-free. I did the research on Destin before we went to see what my options would be. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of restaurants that not only can accommodate gluten-free diners, but that have specially printed menus and well-trained employees who can answer questions and know the precautions to take when preparing and serving gluten-free meals. It was difficult to narrow down the choices, so we went with what we were nearest to when we were ready to eat. For dinner one night, that was Mitchell’s Fish Market. The menu is printed every day, so you know the offerings are fresh. I had the broiled trout with vegetable medley and topped the meal off with strawberry sorbet…yum! The following day, just before heading home we stopped at Cheeseburger in Paradise. I had never eaten there before, but had heard rave reviews of the one in Orlando, especially in relation to gluten-free dining. The chef came out and talked to us about the menu and told us about their new gluten-free bun for burgers and sandwiches. I don’t generally crave bread very often, but honestly, I can’t remember the last time I sank my teeth into a real sandwich. So yes, I ordered the grilled fish sandwich and it was great! French Meadow Bakery makes the buns that they use in the restaurant and it was soft and light and just really delicious!

Another big issue when eating so many meals away from home is the quantity of salt and sugar that is used in many restaurant meals. To cut down on the intake of salt and sugar from eating out, I like to bring along some healthy breakfast items to eat while getting ready in the hotel room. Plus, it saves time and everyone can take turns getting ready and eating. On this trip, we took granny smith apples and banana blueberry muffins. I baked the muffins the day we headed out. They are so quick and easy with just a few ingredients, no added sugar, and I literally mixed them up and baked them in about 30 minutes time. (See recipe below.)

Our first night in the hotel brought back memories of an Orlando trip from about twenty years ago when the fire alarm went off every few minutes all night long! This time we were sound asleep at 12:00 a.m. when a loud, blaring, alarm started going off. My first thought was that someone forgot to check the in-room alarm and we needed to shut it off. My mom’s first thought: little Cole is going to be upset. (Cole is our over-anxious male maltese who doesn’t like any strange noises.) As we all came to awareness we realized it was in fact the fire alarm. We all threw on some extra clothes and headed down the stairs…thankfully we were only three floors up. I think...if there had been a real fire...we would have taken WAY TOO LONG to get outside. Nevertheless, we made our way outside and awaited a visit from the local fire department. As we waited, Alice and Wonderland, Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum and a few other unknown characters walked past. While it is October, Halloween is still a few weeks away, so I’m just hoping this crowd had found an early costume party to attend. This most certainly was not a dream! Strange and unusual, but not a dream! Praise the Lord when the fire alarm was shut down this time, it did not go off again!

Compared to the first night, the remainder of our stay in Destin was uneventful, relaxing and very pleasant. Being outside, walking around, looking at the ocean, the sand, the nature preserves and enjoying the somewhat cooler temperatures and low humidity were refreshing and just downright enjoyable. This was the perfect time of year for a little respite and I’m so thankful to the Lord for providing my mom, dad and myself with a little getaway and to my parents for letting me tag along.

Come aside by yourselves to a quiet place and rest. – Mark 6:31

Here is that yummy banana blueberry muffin recipe. These are also great to make ahead and freeze for those mornings when you are short on time.

3 Cups almond flour
¼ tsp sea salt
1 ½ tsp baking soda
2 Tbsp grapeseed oil
3 eggs
4 ripe bananas
1 cup frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line 14 muffin cups with paper liners.

Combine all ingredients except the blueberries. Stir until well combined. Fold in blueberries. Divide between muffin cups.

Bake for 20 minutes. The tops should be a golden brown and a toothpick should come out clean. Eat promptly or let cool and serve.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Unexpected Visitor

As I finished up a chapter in a book I’ve been reading, I felt prompted to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal God to me…today…in a fresh and clear way…to make His presence known to me in a way that I could not deny His love and acceptance. Within minutes we had an unexpected visitor, someone neither my mom nor I had ever met before, yet we instantly connected and spent much time in conversation. Our visitor’s name is Ms. Sharon and she is a godly woman full of grace and wisdom and willing to sit and share and bless us with stories and memories of love and loss that are truly inspiring. Here is one story she shared that touched us so deeply:

There was a college professor who had a hobby of studying the American bald eagle. One weekend he was driving through Tennessee in search of possibly spying an eagle when he drove by a farm. Something stood out to him, so he turned the car around and pulled up to the Farmer’s house. Speaking with the Farmer, he asked: Sir, are you aware that it is illegal to capture a bald eagle?

The Farmer answered: I’m not sure I know what you are talking about.

Professor: Over there, with your chickens, you have a bald eagle.

Farmer: No, that is just a brown chicken.

Professor: May I prove to you that that is an eagle?

Farmer: Sure, do whatever you need to do.

The Professor went over to the chicken coop and picked up the bird and raised him up to the sky and said, “You’re an eagle, fly!” The bird went straight back to the ground and started walking around among the chickens.

The Professor asked the Farmer if he might try again. The Farmer said, “Do whatever you need to do, but I really think it is just a brown chicken”. So the Professor picked up the bird and climbed to the top of the barn. He held the bird out and said, “You’re an eagle, flap your wings and fly!” The bird went straight back to the ground and walked around among the chickens.

The Professor asked if he might come back early the next day and try one more time to prove that this was in fact an eagle. The Farmer replied, “Yes, do whatever you like, but I’m convinced this is just a brown chicken.”

The Professor showed up early the next day and took the bird to the top of the highest mountain nearby. He held the bird out and said, “Spread wide your wings and soar, you are an eagle!” The bird went down to the ground and started looking at the worms and bugs that were crawling around…things he’d never seen before in the chicken coop.

Then the sun began to rise big and bright and beautiful above the top of the mountain and the bird looked straight into the face of that glowing sun spread his wings and soared straight towards the sun. The Farmer was amazed as that eagle soared away into the brilliancy of the sun.

Ms. Sharon began to sing:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace

She challenged us with this story to look into the face of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, to keep our eyes fixed on Him and soar wherever He leads. To stay focused on Him and not look at the “worms and the bugs” of this world, but to look intently into the face of Christ and follow Him.

After just moments with Ms. Sharon, we loved her and some of the things we chatted about were so specific and personal that I won’t go into detail here, but she followed the Son to our home and we were blessed. We invited her to stop by and visit with us anytime and I trust that she will do just that and we will be gracious recipients of the wisdom and beauty of her life lived for Christ.

Thank you Lord for unexpected visitors, for revealing yourself to us in a fresh way today, for blessing us with new friends and speaking to us from the lips of Your faithful ones.

…so that the older women may encourage the younger women… – Titus 2:4-5

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Unexpected Shower and a Promise

So I was nearing the 4.5 mile mark in my run, the sun was beaming, sweat was pouring off of me, the heat index was well above 100 degrees, and dirt or trash of some sort had just blown in my eye. As I closed my eye, I realized that yes, trash had blown in my eye, yes…a cool breeze had begun to blow. Thank you, Lord, for cool breezes on hot days.

Then I began to feel tiny drops of refreshing rain. It was a soft shower that cooled me down as I walked the last half mile of my 5 mile journey. The sun was still shining, the sky was blue with just a few pillowy white clouds scattered about, but there was a steady washing…thank you, Lord, for unexpected showers.

The rain became a little more intense as I passed by in front of my house, but I wasn’t ready to take cover, so I kept walking…just one more time around the block. When I turned the last corner before returning to my street and entering the home stretch, I looked up and saw it. High in the sky, stretched far and wide was a beautiful rainbow as if on display for me as I made my way home. Thank you, Lord, for beauty in the sky.

Thank you, Lord, for promises far beyond what we could think, ask, or ever deserve.

And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” - Genesis 9:12-16

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Unexpected Heat

August in Florida is crazy hot, but we’ve been blessed with a few cooler nights, a gentle breeze and less humidity over the last few days. While the outside temps may have cooled down slightly, our kitchen unexpectedly became very hot last night. I was washing berries in the sink and preheating the oven to bake cinnamon apples when the lights began to flicker and then I heard a loud POP! I turned to see the oven light on and a small glowing flame growing brighter and brighter on the element. The oven door locked shut and the electronic panel was completely black. I quickly called my mom to the kitchen. When the door unlocked, she grabbed the baking soda to try smothering the flame and I reached for the fire extinguisher. Oh my goodness, have you ever read the warnings on a fire extinguisher? “STAND BACK 6 FEET…FLAME MAY APPEAR TO GROW LARGER AS CONTENTS MAKE FIRST CONTACT.” Um, no thank you…all I could think about was backdraft and I envisioned this huge blaze of fire flaming out of the oven.

We closed the oven door and mom set out to find the circuit breaker for our oven. Fifteen years in our house and we had not known which breaker would disconnect the oven. After many minutes of turning switches on and off with the oven getting hotter and hotter and us both praying for mom to have Divine guidance to the breaker, she located the switch and the power to the oven was turned off. Praise the Lord! Now we are awaiting repairs…or a new oven, whichever the case may be.

In the meantime, we still have our stovetop to cook on, but it is also a good time to focus on raw foods. So, one delicious breakfast choice is hummus with veggies and a green smoothie. I think this makes a good breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner, midnight snack…pretty much anytime.

The hummus and the smoothie were both made in the Vitamix. It takes just minutes to toss all of the ingredients in and viola, you have a great meal!

Green Smoothie
Serves 2

1 1/2 Cups Filtered Water
2 Granny Smith Apples
2 Pears
1 Lemon, Juiced
4 Kale Leaves
1-2 Cups Spinach
Ginger, to taste

Combine all ingredients. Mix until well blended. Pour and enjoy!


1/4 Cup Filtered Water
1/4 Cup Fresh Lemon Juice
1/4 Cup Sesame Seeds
2 Cans Garbanzo Beans, Drained
1 Tsp. Cumin
1 Clove Garlic
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil

Combine all ingredients. Mix until well combined. Serve with fresh veggies.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Cool Cucumber Salad

It has been hotter than hot the last several weeks. The temperature has steadily been in the upper 90's, but with the humidity on the gulf coast, the heat index has been upwards of 115 degrees. I'm not complaining though, I prefer the warmer temperatures.

It's the perfect time of year to give the oven a rest and focus on fresh, cool salads. Last Sunday afternoon I went for a 5 mile run and after I'd cooled down, I began looking for a quick, refreshing snack to replenish and rehydrate. Taking what we had on hand, this Cool Cucumber Salad is what came together. It was so satisfying with the crisp cucumber, sweet blueberries, creamy avocado and tart lemon juice and apple cider vinegar. I think walnuts would make a great optional addition as well.

Cool Cucumber Salad
(Serves 2-3)

1 Cucumber, diced
1 Granny Smith Apple, diced
1 Pear, diced
1 Avocado, diced
1/2 - 1 Cup Blueberries
1 Lemon, Juiced
2-4 Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar

Combine all ingredients. Eat immediately or let stand. If you let it stand the vinegar and lemon will begin to give the cucumber a slightly pickled taste, which is also really delicious.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Sweetness of Grace

I have a sweet-tooth, I really do. I come by it honest. I think it is a southern thing. Growing up we always had dessert after dinner and of course lunch was never complete without some little sweet treat too, oh and well, breakfast usually consisted of biscuits or toast with homemade jelly.

Last September I followed a 40 Day Elimination Diet in which all refined sugar was eliminated from my diet. It was quite an adjustment, however, at the end of 40 days my taste buds and cravings were somewhat reset. I recognized some of the negative impacts processed sugar had on my body and felt great and confident to keep it far from the table. In the months that followed the elimination diet, I began remaking some of my old recipes and researching new ones, learning to create incredible truffles, cookies, brownies, cupcakes, chocolate pudding, and so much more. These new treats are definitely healthier in that they are naturally sweetened with honey, maple syrup and dates. Yet, they should still be consumed in moderation….not every day, which is a habit I’m working on right now.

In the last two weeks I’ve not had any dessert, except for one concession I gave myself as we celebrated my brother’s birthday. I made chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting and ate one, ok well I also had a half of one right after they were baked…you know, for quality control. But, the next day I got right back to watching my sweet intake. I’m not eliminating desserts at this time to be legalistic or impose some self-restrictive guideline or test my willpower and discipline, no, I would certainly fail if it were for selfish measures.

A couple of weeks ago, I began to be overly concerned about circumstances I either can’t take action to speed up the process on or I don’t know what the outcome will be. In my stressed state of worry, I turned to desserts as comfort. We all know that “stressed” turned around is “desserts”! I find joy in baking and well, if I bake it, I’ll eat it too. I realized that I was busying myself with something to keep my mind and actions focused not on what concerned me when what I really needed to do was set my mind on the things of Christ and rest in God’s Word. Thus, the fasting from sweets and focused attentiveness to what my Lord wants to show me in these circumstances.

Here are some of the ways He has encouraged me over the last days and weeks:

Faith is living out the present circumstances or situation in full trust that God has something good for you there. -Unknown

The LORD Almighty has sworn,“Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will happen. –Isaiah 14:24

…according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, -Ephesians 1:11 This verse brings to mind a quote from my former Pastor, Brother Willy: God never wastes a hurt.

Joy is always worth the wait, and fully living worth the believing. – Ann Voskamp

O my soul, thou art capable of enjoying God, woe to thee if thou art contented with anything less than God. – Francis de Sales

What I’m finding is that my sweet-tooth is being fulfilled with the richness and sweetness of His grace abounding in my life.