Monthly Archives: April 2012

Oh God…do I really have to love … HER?

When we encounter some of the  really difficult people in our lives, we need to remind ourselves that God has not called us to simply tolerate these folks; He has called us to love them.

The other day I was watching quality Christian television with my daughters. I’m not certain they were paying attention to the cartoon that was playing, but I sure was. Oh, how convicting that program was to me! Depicted were two different ant colonies. One colony was comprised of strong, simple black ants who worked hard and took life pretty seriously. They had lived in the garden for a long time and were very well established there. The other colony was comprised of  strange looking red ants, who suddenly moved into the beautiful garden, without notice. The black ants were furious! How dare someone move into their garden without their permission? Without hesitation, the black ants sent their biggest and strongest warrior out to declare war on the red ants.

Sounding familiar to a situation in our own lives? Read on…

Halfway to the red ant colony, the black ant was stopped by a booming voice from the sky. God called down to him and asked what he was doing. Indignant, the black ant informed God he was going to do away with his adversaries.

God interjected, asking the black ant to love them.

“Love them?” the black ant replied. “Surely you must be jesting. They’re obnoxious and they play their music too loudly! They’re funny looking and they don’t do things the same way we do. Why should I love them?”

Tenderly, God told the frustrated little ant again that He desired for the black ants to love their neighbors.

The black warrior ant continued on to the red ant colony, but this time, instead of declaring war, he welcomed them to the garden. Surprised, the red ants didn’t quite know what to do. This was not the kind of visit they had been expecting from the black ants. They too had been ready for war. Afterall, the garden was a beautiful place. Why shouldn’t it belong to them? Surely they were more deserving.  Then questions moved to more practical topics, such as the ability of the garden to feed both colonies, and discussions about space for growth.  Would there always be as much to eat as there was now? Would the garden continue to hold both colonies as they grew over the years? So many uncertainties. What should they do? They talked amongst themselves and developed a “wait and see” attitude. Whatever the black ants did would determine their next course of action.

As the black warrior ant returned home, the red ants began playing their bag pipes, as was their usual way at this time of day. This sound was irritating to the black ant colony and their tempers flared up. This was not their way. Immediately, the ants discussed how to handle this situation. Surely the red ants were up to no good and must be stopped at once! The black warrior ant (who had previously visited with the red ants) sat idly by as the conversations moved from war to a more peaceful idea – tolerating the strange ant colony. After all, the blank ants were dignified and didn’t need to stoop to the same lower level that the immature red ants had stooped to. No, the black ants would hold their heads high and walk upright with pride, doing what they believed was the right thing – the godly thing.

God saw all that happened. His eyes never turned away from the garden. He knew the nature of these little ants. He saw them tolerating their neighbors in person, but talking badly about them behind their backs. The female black ants would gossip about the red ants in private. The male black ants would make fun of the odd looking kilts the red ants wore, in private of course. No one wanted to hurt the red ants feelings by saying these things to their faces! The gossip mill grew until all the black ants could talk about anymore was how odd and inappropriate those red ants were. Still, nothing was said directly to the red ants, so those mature and godly black ants were able to sleep well at night and hold their heads high in the morning. They were just following God’s Word and doing what He’d asked.

That was what He’d asked, right?

Some time later, God asked the now sullen black warrior ant  “What is the matter, my child? Why are you so blue?”

Black warrior ant replied that it was hard work tolerating those weird red ants. It simply wasn’t in his nature to do so. Couldn’t God just change him and make the whole situation easier?

God quickly reminded him that He didn’t ask the black ants to simply tolerate the red ants, but to love them!

Black warrior ant asked God just how he should love these annoying creatures. God reminded him that he already knew what to do. Now it was time to put the plan into action.

Taking this information back to his colony, black ant warrior then began to look for the good in the red ants, sharing his insights with his fellow brothers and sisters. The good feelings grew and were infectious! Soon, all the black ants began to praise God for their neighbors, those blessed red ants. The black ants began to love their neighbors, helping them with their work load. But it was not to last, as word soon got out that the red ants were planning a revolt. The black ants began to lose heart because by this point, they were truly loving their neighbors and had yet to taste the  fruit from all of their hard work. The red ants now wanted to kick the black ants out of the garden! What were they to do?

God reminded the black ants  once again – “Love your neighbors.” 

Eventually, with much patience, prayer and perseverance, the black ants were able to convince the red ants that they were all welcome in the garden, that there was plenty for them all to eat and drink there. In time, the black ants were able to minister to the red ants who at one time, were hostile to the Lord, and to them. Through their hard work- peace and harmony reigned through the land, because they finally obeyed God’s command to simply love their neighbors.

ants

‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

There is no other commandment greater than these.”

 Mark 12:31 ESV

Choconut Cookies

These are a larger, fun cookie for girls’ night, parties, potlucks, gift baskets, or just because. I like to make a batch, eat one and give the rest away.

Ingredients:

  • 3 Cups flour (I prefer spelt flour, an ancient grain)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoons iodized salt
  • 1/4 Cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 Cup Lite Coconut Milk
  • 2/3 Cup 100% maple syrup or honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 -12 oz pkg dark chocolate chips
  • 3/4 Cup chopped pecans
  • (optional: 3 Tablespoons cacoa powder)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
  3. Beat butter, coconut milk and syrup or honey in large bowl until combined.
  4. Add eggs and beat until well blended.
  5. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined.
  6. Stir in chocolate morsels and pecans.
  7. Using a clean, wet ice cream scoop, drop onto ungreased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart.
  8. Lightly press centers down, using a clean, wet tablespoon, so cookies can bake evenly.
  9. Bake 12-14 minutes or until golden brown.
  10. Let stand 2 minutes on cookie sheet before removing and cooling completely on wire racks.

 

Makes 20 cookies, approximately 5 inches in diameter.

Busy Mama Cookies

I find I’m often too busy to make, mix and bake the cookies I need (or want) all in one stretch, so I came up with a cool way to get it all done – on my time! These are really healthy and packed with flavor!

Ingredients: 

  • 2 1/2 Cups flour (I prefer spelt, an ancient grain)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon iodized salt
  • 2 Cups (any combination of the following) raw hulled sunflower seeds, unsalted pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, raw slivered almonds, rolled oats
  • 3 Tablespoons cacao powder
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 3/4 Cup nut butter (any type – peanut, sunflower, almond…whatever you have on hand)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 Cup no sugar added apple sauce
  • 1/2 ripe banana
  • 1/4 Cup 100% maple syrup or honey
  • 1 Cup dark chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate bar
  • 1/2 Cup chopped dates or figs
  • 1 Cup diced cherries or dried cherries (can also use cranberries!)

Directions:

  1. No preheating required
  2. In a medium size bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, nuts/seeds/oats and cacoa. Set aside.
  3. In large bowl, beat butter, nut butter, banana, apple sauce and syrup (or honey) until combined. Mix in egg.
  4. Slowly mix dry mixture into wet mixture until well mixed. Fold in chocolate chips and fruit.
  5. Tear off 2 large sheets of freezer paper the same size. You’ll need the entire width and about 8 inches of length. Set one aside.
  6. Using your hands, divide your cookie dough in half. Take one half of the cookie dough and roll into a long thin log. If you want perfectly round cookies, roll it around on the freezer paper to round it out, otherwise you can just roll it into a log shape or square it off for an interesting look later.
  7. Once you have the log shape you want, wrap the freezer paper around the cookie log and pinch the edges together.
  8. Using a piece of tape, tape the ends off. Complete the same process with the other half of the dough.
  9. Place in the freezer or refrigerator (be sure to mark it with the date and what it is)
  10. Bake at your convenience, remembering that cookie dough last a maximum of 5 days in the fridge and 6 months in the freezer.

To Bake:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F
  2. Lightly grease cookie sheet
  3. Using a sharp knife, cut the log every 1/2 inch and place unbaked cookies onto lightly greased cookie sheets
  4. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy!

Makes roughly 3 dozen cookies.

Birds

11 April 2012

10 things/people I’m grateful for

My husband.

My husband and me
Anthony is my best friend, lover, partner in life. When I'm down, he carries me to Jesus on his knees.

Theresa, my firstborn daughter.

Theresa
She's just an amazing kid - funny, smart, creative, curious and beautiful to name a few.

Chelsea, the baby of the family.

Chelsea
She's a great kid, too. Cute, funny, happy, artistic, and focused to name a few.

Holy Bible.

Holy Bible
Life DOES come with an instruction book. This is it.

Kittens.

Kittens
My dad's cat just had four kittens last week. They are adorable!

Freshly mowed grass.

Freshly mown grass
It smells amazing

The cross.

Cross
There is no greater symbol of love, grace, mercy or forgiveness without looking directly into the face of God Himself.

Gonzo.

Gonzo
Yes, the blue Muppet with a long, crooked nose. He is just so cute!

Daisies.

Daisies
Sweet. Simple. Innocent.

Birds.

Birds
Matthew 6:26

What are some things you’re grateful for? Please feel free to share in the comments. Let me know if you’ve got a gratitude journal/blog as well. I’d love to read it!

GFA Bridge of Hope

A Voice In the Dark – Come, Jesus Come!

Tall and proud
Arrogant and loud
Rejected and scorned
Lost and torn
Swollen and red
Beaten and bruised
Tossed and clouded
Shrill and rude
Calm and collected
Neat and clean
Jealous and boastful
Private and unseen
Sweet and moving
Bright and beautiful
Jolted and unclean
Children, angels
Pray to Thee
Oh God! Oh God!
You know our needs
Give aid, give voice
Bring health and safety
A net, a trumpet
A bugle, a choice
Anything but here
Nothing but now
Oh God, oh God
Hear me right now
Lift up our heads
Our voices let them hear
That we are the martyrs
Come praying
Come calling
On knees bloody and weak
From You alone, Lord,
Protection we seek
Sinner and saint,
Tortured and captor,
Lover and hater
We come one and all
Until it is that our earth should fall
Come now, Lord Jesus,
By our side shall You stay
Until this long night
Turns into eternal day.

If you think this is not happening around the world, it is. Every day people are being beaten, raped, imprisoned, and tortured simply because of their faith in our Lord and Creator. Men, women, children…all look the same to the devil and his followers.
Let us now fall to our knees, and lift these beautiful souls up to the Lord.

Voice of the Martyrs
In 53 countries, it is illegal to be a Christian. In many of those countries, you can expect daily terror just for owning a Bible - or a part of one. Please pray now for persecuted Christians.

 

GFA Bridge of Hope
over 80,000 die every day in Asian countries without knowing the love of Jesus Christ. They believe they were born to be abused, neglected simply because of their caste. 500,000 villages in India alone have never heard the Gospel. What can YOU do to help?

Now that you know, it’s time to act. Check out http://www.persecution.com and http://www.gfa.org/slumdog/ to learn more about how you can help. Let us be Christ’s hands and feet.

Carrot Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies are AMAZING and totally hide healthy stuff your kids (or spouse) won’t eat. :0) I told my husband I was making these, and he rolled his eyes at me…until he tried them! The carrots add a real sweetness that he wasn’t expecting. You can’t tell they’re healthy by the taste.
 Ingredients
  •  2/3 cup 100% pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk (nut milks work too!)
  • 1 cup  flour (I prefer spelt flour, an ancient grain)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup grated carrots (go crazy and add 1/4 cup zucchini if you dare! Just make sure to add another 1/2 cup of flour if you do!)
  • 1 cup chopped up 70% dark chocolate or dark chocolate chips
  • (optional — 1/4 cup dried cranberries or cherries)
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cream together the syrup and peanut butter.
  3. Add in the egg and the milk.
  4. Sift together the flour, salt and baking soda and stir in.
  5. Stir in oats.
  6. Add in the carrots and chocolate chips and anything else you’d like. Stir until well combined.
  7. Drop by teaspoon onto cookie sheets and bake for 15 minutes.

Poor Man Cookies – Citrus Shortbread

Poor Man Cookies – Citrus Shortbread

Chef’s note: These cookies are NOT meant to have a strong flavor. They’re a lighter cookie, perfect for teas, church coffee hour, and dipping in yogurt as a yummy snack! I’m also including some alternate ideas for adding flavor at the bottom. Feel free to comment after you’ve tried the recipe and tell me how they came out. 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium juiced oranges, and zested rinds
  •  1 cups unsalted butter, softened and cooled
  • 1-1/3 cups 100% Maple syrup or raw honey
  • 4 cups flour (I prefer spelt flour, an ancient grain)

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Whip the orange juice and butter together. Slowly add the syrup or honey, and cream ingredients together. Hand mix in the flour to a firm consistency. If dough seems too soft, add in more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.
  3. Lightly flour a flat, smooth surface for rolling out your dough. Roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness, then cut into fun shapes with a cookie cutter. Then place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. (You can lightly poke cookies all over the top surface with a fork to prevent slight bubbling during the baking process.)
  4. Bake for 11-13 minutes, or until edges are a light golden brown. (dark brown edges mean the cookies are burnt, and will be hard. Shortbread is meant to be soft)
  5. Cool on wooden cutting board before placing on wire cooling racks.
______________________________________
Alternative flavoring ideas:
* mix in 1/2 cup chopped frozen raspberries, cranberries or strawberries
* mix in 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
* mix in 1/2 cup frozen blueberries