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.