The Bright Morning Star

Monday, December 24, 2012  ::   4 important comments

I posted this last Christmas, but find myself wondering the same questions. 
Merry Christmas, friends! May Christ fill your hearts with joy and peace. I pray we all earnestly long for His return and live with worship, kindness, diligence, and peace. 
Revelation 22:16 "I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root of David the Bright Morning Star." 
Jesus came to push back the darkness. 
John 8:12 When Jesus spoke to the people again he said, "I am the Light of the worldWhoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life." 
In the darkest places of my life, He still shines brightly.
I John 1:5 This is the message we have heard from Him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 
Last night during Second Mile's Sunday gathering Chad gave everyone 2-3 minutes of silence to sit and reflect on the part of Jesus' birth that was most captivating to us. I can't help but to be overwhelmed with the fact that our very infinite God wrapped Himself up in skin to come to the earth. My head can spin trying to understand this mystery. 
I wonder...
Was it painful? Did He feel confined? Did Jesus grieve leaving the glory of being with the Father to come to earth? Did it feel claustrophobic for Him? Did He love Mary and Joseph the way children love their parents and the way God loves humans? How did creation respond to God walking the planet? What did it feel like to hear His voice in the cry of a baby? From heaven He knew He was being worshipped, but did He as a baby lying in a manger know He was being worshipped? Did his earthly parents, the shepherds, the wise men sense the darkness in their lives being pushed back when they were in the presence of this God baby? 
Today I'm thankful that Jesus has made Himself known. I'm also thankful for the mystery of God so that He remains profound and unexplainable. I'm thankful that in Him there is no darkness at all and that He continues to push back the darkness in my life making me more like Jesus through the process of sanctification. 
Today my heart is anxiously awaiting His return
Come, Lord Jesus, come! 

A Seismic Shift at Beautifully Rooted

Thursday, December 13, 2012  ::   1 important comment

At Beautifully Rooted, I wrote out some thoughts about the wonder of a huge God coming as a baby to redeem the world.



A seismic shift for the entire planet took place.

I hope you will go read some more of this post and leave a comment over there testifying of what God has shown you about His birth on earth. 

Bold and Spicy

Wednesday, December 12, 2012  ::   6 important comments

Esther loves chex mix. She bugs me to make it quite often. I'm thinking the Christmas season truly starts for her as soon as I make the first batch of chex mix. Now, anyone can read and copy the original recipe and if you aren't a bold and spicy kinda person, I would encourage you to do so.  However, if you want to take it up a notch or two, keep reading. 

First, melt one stick of unsalted butter (1/2 cup) in a large roasting pan in your oven set at 250°. Please skip the microwave directions. Just skip it. The flavor and texture of oven roasted chex mix is far superior to insta-mix. Take an hour to make a legit batch of this deliciousness. Think of it as disciplining yourself to slow down a bit to enjoy life.

In a big bowl mix all of the dry ingredients, minus the spices. I kind of follow the original suggestions, but then get a little crazy.

3 cups each rice, corn, wheat chex
A big handful of stick pretzels (They are easy to pick and will be gone fast if you don't add extra.)
1 cup mixed nuts
1 cup whole cashews (my fancy expensive ingredient)
1 cup pecans (My parents and my mom-in-law have pecan trees. I can't even imagine having to buy pecans in the store. I'm spoiled.)
1 cup Cheerios (But only if you want something that soaks up extra flavor. The little cheerios are Esther's favorite part. They will take on so much of the sauce, so leave it out if you will just throw them out after everything else is eaten.)
1 cup of something special (Goldfish, Cheezits, Bugles, bagel chips...anything you think would fit the flavor profile. Goldfish are my favorite, but I may try the spicy Cheezits sometime soon.)

Be careful when you mix not to crush the cereal.

In a separate container, measure out your spices. Again, I just do my own thing. I'm pretty sure it is different every time, but I err on the side of too much because too little is just buttered cereal and who wants to eat that?


2 tsp seasoned salt
2 tsp garlic powder (you already added salt, so don't add garlic salt)
1 heaping tsp chili powder
1 tsp onion powder

Whoa. That's a lot of flavor.

Take out your pan and get over your guilt of making something with that much butter.

Enter the key ingredients: Worcestershire Sauce and Tabasco Sauce. Oh yes. Most definitely. 

Don't freak out, but I add about 6-8 tablespoons of the W-sauce. I know it's a lot, but my chex mix is pretty amazing. 

If you don't like spicy food (I'll pray for you) skip the Tabasco or add just a little. I add 3-4 tablespoons. Yep. I know. You think that's too much. But you're wrong. That's what gives it a kick. This is not your bland, ordinary chex mix. This is bold and spicy! You will love it! People will love it! Trust me. 

Add your spices in and mix it all up. 

Now dump in your cereal mixture and gently stir to coat. It will look brown, wet, and buttery, but it will come together perfectly within an hour. Stir every 15 minutes of baking to continue to evenly distribute the seasonings. 

After an hour of baking, beautiful golden crunchy goodness appears.

Dump it out on foil or paper towels to cool. Try really hard not to pick out the cashews and pretzels while it sits there wafting its fragrance everywhere. After it cools, store in an air tight container. It won't last long! This is also a great gift because it isn't a sweet treat and will stand above all the other plates of cookies your neighbors and kids' teachers receive. If you do give this to a teacher, be sure to add a nice gift card to Starbucks because they just deserve it.

Oh my yumminess. This stuff is so, so good! I've made two batches already. My kids are piggies.

I wouldn't lead you astray. It is easy to make. It is delicious. You should try it. 

Will you? Do you have any questions? Do you have a not sweet treat you like to make during the holidays? 

Surprises in Starbucks

Wednesday, December 05, 2012  ::   16 important comments

I have a serious case of brain block. To be honest, I'm struggling in the land of ambiguity, therefore I feel as if the self-preservation practice of not thinking has overtaken me.

As you know, after many tests, scans, pokes, and prods it was determined I had a stroke in August. My doctor referred me to a neurologist that I've seen a few times. He ordered more tests and scans to determine the cause of my stroke. During my last visit with him, he crossed his arms, leaned against the cabinet and said there seemed to be no known cause, that because of my age and the location of the stroke in my brain, he was concerned and wanted to send me to a specialist in Phoenix so another set of eyes could look over all my charts and information. That was over a month ago.

I've called the Phoenix doctor's assistant once or twice a week since then, but he is "still looking at my charts" whatever that means. Apparently, he isn't thinking about my brain as much as I am.

So I wait.

The waiting game is like a roller coaster for me. Sometimes it creates an out of sight out of mind attitude. I act like I didn't have a stroke, don't take my baby aspirin, and pack my schedule full of meetings and activities. This foolishness results in increased symptoms such as tears, headaches, and difficulty in speaking. Clearly, ignoring reality isn't a great practice for me.

Sometimes in the waiting game, I over think everything that has happened. I research online to find answers about having a stroke as a 39 year old woman in the right temporal lobe of the brain. You will not be surprised to know there is some scary information on the internet! I believe that being an advocate and educating myself is wise. I believe researching without a foundation of knowledge and an actual diagnosis is unwise and can lead to fear.

Sometimes in the waiting game, I avoid good things like blogging, reading books, thinking deeply about theology and how God is active in our world. Honestly, I think (ha) if I would engage in these activities I love, I may find some relief from ambiguity.

But, I'm afraid.

I'm afraid if I move on that I may forget something bad happened to me this summer.

I'm afraid if I move on my community will expect me to be the way I used to be, able to keep up with all of life's demands.

I'm afraid if I move on I will actually discover that I've just been being a baby.

I'm afraid if I move on I will never know any answers as to why I had a stroke in the first place and that there might actually be an answer AND if there is an answer we don't know about I'm afraid it may happen again.

I'm afraid if I move on and try to start reading deep books or have deep conversations I will be confronted with one of my worst fears that my brain has changed too much and I'm not smart enough remember or to keep up.

I'm afraid if I keep typing out all these fears I didn't know I even had I will be bawling my eyes out right in the middle of this Starbucks. The other patrons may feel awkward. Good news: I'm not afraid to be awkward. I'm a natural at awkwardness, but I should be considerate of others.

Oh fear, you suck. I can rationalize that you are irrational, but isn't that the point of most fears? Well, up yours! I am moving on, but not like you tell me I should by ignoring reality, researching to the point of fear, or sitting on the floor with my hands over my head hoping nothing else falls on me.

I'm taking Chad's and Lauren's advice in remembering that intensity is not the point. Daily devotion and consistency is the point. I know these truths in my brain, but once again, life circumstances are requiring me to move what was once easily lived out into a deeper, more experiential place in my heart and mind.

To live this out, I will try to read a couple of paragraphs of A Glorious Ruin by Tullian Tchividjian  (Thanks, Alysa) three or four times a week. My goal/hope is to blog five times this December. To many of you that may not seem like much, but these are a big goals for me as blogging and reading are much more difficult than they used to be.

I will take my baby aspirin every day. I will continue to go on my morning walks and go to yoga class once a week. I will not overdo it in meeting with people, but I will have a few meetings each week.

The most difficult goal is to talk with a few friends about what I'm really processing concerning this dumb stroke. Ugh. This one is a hard one because being the overly intuitive person that I am, I often wrongly intuit that I'm bothering people. I know, I know. It's silly, but I'm a sinner and have wrong thinking sometimes. Thank goodness for Jesus' grace and the gentleness of friends.

I appreciate some of you are gearing yourself up to "hold me accountable." While I appreciate the offer, I think this public confession will be all the accountability I need. If all of the people that love me start asking if I'm reading every day I may punch someone in the face with harsh words and then you will feel sad and rejected and then I will have to apologize and then you'll wonder if I really love Jesus, so maybe just encourage and pray?? Is that fair? It's not that I don't need accountablity. It's just that I don't need it from all of you.

Whew. This blog post was a shock. I set out to write about why traditions are important to me and ended up telling you about some ickiness in my heart. I guess the good news is I have still have another topic to write about!

Moxie Memorizers

Saturday, December 01, 2012  ::   10 important comments

My friend, Lauren, mentioned a couple of Sundays ago that she would be interested in writing a guest post about her scripture memory journey. A few days later she sent me these wonderful words.

Lauren, thank you for following through without any questions or prodding on my part. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it. Your vulnerability and practical suggestions are perfect. I hope it gives insight to anyone who may be wrestling with similar thoughts. 


I have been in a rut, a real rut, when it comes to spiritual disciplines. For the life of me, this entire year I have struggled with finding time to review my verses or read the Bible. It always seemed a daunting task to consider studying the Bible or reviewing memory verses. 

My excuse for not reviewing my verses seemed to always be the fact that I had no natural breaks in my day since transitioning from college life to an 8-5 monday-friday desk job. I tried a suggestion of memorizing in the car, but since I got married I ride my bike to work because my husband takes the car. So I have been stuck in my list of excuses and unable to come up with a solution. 

I have always had a knack for memorization, so memorizing a new verse was easy. I could have it memorized after one or two rounds of going over the verse. However, after not reviewing for a month I would forget the verse all together. Since college I have also been riding on the wave of PRIDE, because I already was introduced to memorizing and had to memorize 60 verses to be a Bible Study leader in college (which isn't something to brag about). So I have been hanging on to the high times of the past and listing excuse after excuse of why I didn't need to or couldn't review my verses....

And then a few weeks ago, Chad demonstrated via the work out called Insanity a concept that I have heard for a thousand times but finally made sense to my mind and heart. It is not about the intensity at which I study scripture, pray, or review verses, it is about daily devotion and frequency! I have heard this several times in the realm of setting spiritual discipline goals (keep them simple, attainable, and measurable). However, I am such an OVERACHIEVER that my idea of Bible Study is a solid hour a day and reviewing memory verses means reviewing all of them every time I pick up the pack (oh and budgeting my money means spending $100 a month and working out means running 10 miles a day). 

Now don't get me wrong, it would be great if I could ACTUALLY do all of these things. And when I was in college, studying the Bible every day for a half hour to an hour was more achievable (but I didn't always do it). But in the end, I CAN'T do all of these things at this stage in life and some I will never be able to do. And I need to accept this, but it is really hard for me because I absolutely hate feeling inadequate (this = PRIDE). But through this one area, Jesus is teaching me that daily devotion to him is not about achievement but about relationship. And the important part of scripture memory and reading the Bible is not the intensity at which I do it, but that I do it and that I regularly come before Jesus.  

So when this finally clicked, I decided I would review 3 verses a day (usually it goes new verse, a newer verse, and an old verse). And you know what? I have been doing this for the entire month! I have missed one day here or there, but there is frequency and I am actually reviewing my verses. 3 verses each day is enough to know I can do it, it is just the right number that I can pause at work and go over them. Now I start my day at work by going through those 3 verses, and it helps me focus on glorifying Jesus in my work. I also might increase from 3 to 5 a day next month, which means that there is still room for challenge in memorization. 

I wanted to share this with you all, because I finally found a way to start memorizing that might inspire some of you to get back in the game. Maybe you also are an overachiever or maybe you don't really know where to start? But, no matter where you are with scripture memory, I hope you are frequently meeting Jesus in your day to day lives! 


See what I mean? Beautiful words and great suggestions! 

Since there wasn't a post on November 15th, you all should be ready to post what you are memorizing. Right? I apologize for the lack of post that day. Thank you for your patience and grace towards me through this strange and frustrating season.  

Post away, friends! Tell us what you are memorizing.