Gratitude Sunday

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It’s Sunday, and I find myself counting my blessings from the past week. Life has been busy, but good, especially on the spiritual side of things.

I would like to encourage you, no matter what you believe, to spend a little time focusing on something greater than yourself each day, even if you only have five minutes. Whether you believe in divinity, or the wonder and majesty of the natural world and universe…a moment of awe is good for the soul. :-)

In no particular order, these are things I feel grateful for today:

1. A great, perfect, awe-inspiring creator. Who loves and pursues me relentlessly.

2. Words from my own holy book, The Bible, and the freedom to read and study at my leisure. Not everyone has that freedom, and my heart is with people of all faiths who are denied the right to practice their religion.

3. Cheese. I feel this needs no explanation. Because, duh. And also the the cows who provide the cheese. Amen.

4. Sugar-free Hershey’s syrup. It’s hotter than the devil’s armpit in Vegas right now and I love that I can have a Trim, Healthy Mama approved iced mocha every day, guilt-free.

5. Right priorities. I have had my priorities out of whack lately, and things are lining up nicely again.

6. Back-to-school sales. School supplies make me happy…the sight, the smell, and the deals!

7. Love. The perfect kind that is kind, patient, and not self-seeking.

8. Chili in the crock pot for dinner tonight. A little hard work this morning before church will mean a relaxing day AND a good meal.

9. My family. I just love them…a lot. ;-)

10. Netflix. Just saying.

I love reading what you are grateful for, here on the blog and on Facebook. Share your grats, and share this post do others can share theirs, too. Let’s all develop a heart of gratitude.

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Chicken, Kale, & Kidney Bean Soup

I have been working on a pretty simple (but very delicious) soup recipe for a while now. It’s a healthy, super-food-packed soup that is an E meal, if you are a Trim Healthy Mama. If you are just health conscious, it’s good for everyone!

 

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The cast of characters:

  • 2 cups cooked, diced chicken
  • 2 small onions
  • 1.5 cups of chopped carrots
  • 2 cups cooked kidney beans (probably two cans if you buy canned beans
  • 1 can of artichoke hearts, drained
  • 8 cups of broth (I used a mix of homemade and store bought)
  • seasonings to taste (sea salt, pepper, chopped garlic, paprika, chili powder, fresh oregano, rosemary, and basil
  • 2 cups of kale (just before serving ONLY)

I used my food processor to chop the carrots and onion. Throw all of the ingredients except the kale into a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and let simmer for at least one hour, but I prefer two. I enjoy the flavors having a chance to really meld. Stir occasionally. Five minutes before serving, add the kale. Serve nice and hot with a side salad.

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For a printable PDF, click the image below. :-)

Chicken Kidney Kale Soup

 

God Called Me Gomer, Then Rescued My Heart

She will pursue her lovers but not catch them; she will seek them but not find them. She will think: ‘I will go back to my former husband, for then it was better for me than now.’  Hosea 2:7

God called me Gomer last week. Yes, that Gomer. The promiscuous wife of the prophet Hosea. The metaphor for an unfaithful Israel.

OUCH.

It didn’t go down exactly like that…it all happened because I was having a rough time. Like most believers, when I am having a rough time, I pray. And I cry. And I generally whine at God about how I am having a rough time. Why, God, WHY? Ad nauseam. Haven’t we all been there a time or two?

During this whine fest at God, I heard a quiet urging of, Why don’t you start a new Bible reading plan?

I didn’t really get the point of this urging at first, because it seemed so totally unrelated to my present dilemma, but I did it anyway. While I was browsing new plans, I found one on minor prophets. Again, I felt this quiet urging to choose that one. After all, I haven’t really spent much time with Hosea, Amos, Obadiah, etc. I think I am probably not alone in that, either. Habakkuk, anyone? Not so much.

I began reading the first chapter of Hosea and I was thinking it was heavily allegorical and also pretty intense. There is strong language used in almost every verse regarding Gomer’s (Israel’s) unfaithfulness. I decided to dig deeper on this and found some commentary about Hosea.

By the time I got to chapter 2, I felt God was telling me, very clearly, that I am Gomer…that I am unfaithful to Him.

Initially, I thought, “NO WAY!” I am not unfaithful to you, Lord. I go to church (I am in the choir, even!) and I don’t worship pagan gods or idols. But then, He sort of broke it down for me.

I may not worship little carved statues of gods, but I have idols. I have MANY idols. In terms of God’s ranking of importance in my life, he is not even in the top 10 of my priorities. This was a heartbreaking realization for me, but it was the truth.  My idols are not immediately obvious, so I will run through them for you.

In the midst of my dilemma (that started the whine fest), I had removed several social media apps from my phone. More than that, I deleted the accounts, so that adding the app back on would be pointless. In the days following this decision, I have been surprised at how much I think about those stupid accounts! Foursquare being one of them. EVERY TIME I go somewhere, I think about checking in on Foursquare. It’s been two weeks since I deleted it, but I still think about that app! So while the catalyst for removing those accounts had nothing to do with my spiritual life (I thought!!), God had things to show me – like, social media are some of my idols.

I felt he was saying to me, You literally don’t go a single day without checking Facebook, but when was the last time you read my Word? 

You check in on Foursquare, even when you get gas in the car, how but how often do you check in with me in prayer?

You spend hours planning and cooking meals, even photographing them on Instagram, but when was the last time you fasted to draw closer to me?

You watch TV every day, hours a day, but how much time do you spend on becoming more Godly?

That’s not even mentioning the people I place in importance before God. There are many. My kids, my husband, my friends. They all get more time than God does.

There are days (many, many, many) when my Bible was never opened at all. Not even for five minutes.

God was so low on my list of priorities he wasn’t one AT ALL. In fact, the dilemma I was facing when all this began was really about being worried about the approval and acceptance of others, yet I was spending almost no time worried about God’s approval and acceptance.

God has harsh words for Israel in Hosea, and I deserved them, too. I am grateful, because I needed this correction. I know I have been adrift. It happened slowly, inch-by-inch, until I looked back and realized that where I had once been close to God (and fully alive in the Spirit and flow of His grace), I was now miles and miles from where I should be.

It starts with little choices, little idols, little altars. They don’t stay little, though, do they? Soon they have taken over and my life is not recognizable. Soon, I look just like the rest of the world.

However, God has a plan for me, just like he had a plan for Israel. He promises to pursue Israel and woo her again, and He does. He is doing the same for me. He ends several chapters of Hosea with the promise of Israel’s restoration, and therefore, mine.

Therefore I am going to persuade her, lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her vineyards back to her and make the Valley of Achor into a gateway of hope. There she will respond as she did in the days of her youth, as in the day she came out of the land of Egypt. Hosea 2:14-15

It’s pretty amazing, really. I also heard a good message on Esther this past weekend, and I adore Esther. I want to be like Esther – a woman who was so faithful she was willing to risk everything. I have been pondering on that the last few days.

Once my eyes had been opened, I had a choice to make: I could either continue on willfully in the wrong direction OR I could start taking the steps I need to take to make God my first priority. I am choosing God, so I also picked up a book on spiritual disciplines and began reading it. Thankfully, this book is really wonderful and definitely helping me on this path.

I am nearly done reading through Hosea, but I already feel that a new woman will be moving on to Joel – one who is focused and hungry for a deeper spiritual connection. I feel like I am in the early stages of a renewed love affair. I want to stay in the flow, where the joy is boundless and life is beautiful, regardless of circumstances. That means destroying idols and resurrecting a different altar in my heart. I’m ready. I’m thirsty for living waters.

Come, let us return to the Lord. For He has torn us, and He will heal us; He has wounded us, and He will bind our wounds. He will revive us after two days, and on the third day He will raise us up so we can live in His presence. Let us strive to know the Lord. His appearance is as sure as the the dawn. He will come to us like the rain, like the spring showers that water the land. Hosea 6: 1-3

 

God Called Me Gomer, Then Rescued My Heart - Facing Spiritual Unfaithfulness and Tearing Down Idols

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wordless Wednesday

Runner Girl

Gratitude Sunday

Sunday ButtonIt’s Sunday, again, and I have things I am grateful for! Please share your grats with me, I love reading them! This week I am grateful for:

  1. Novels. I have been reading like crazy since summer hit and I have enjoyed some really great books.
  2. Air conditioning! I live in Vegas, it’s crazy hot! For the past four summers, I had no a/c in our minivan. It was hell, almost literally. We finally have a newer vehicle with a/c this summer, and it makes life in the desert manageable again. I used to cry when I had to leave my house at all on really scorching days.
  3. Chicago-style pizza. Totally happened this past week and I regret nothing! *burp*
  4. Cupcake ATM machines. This was a first for me, but oh-so-delicioso.
  5. Board games. We acquired THREE new Simply Fun games in the last few weeks and we have been loving playing all of them! We expecially love “Get 4 and Score.”

I could list more things, but those are topping my list this week. What are you grateful for?

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