Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Lessons from Sourdough

With COVID, came the 2020 fads. One of those I never jumped on was bread making. Until today. My brother is the most most amazing chef. If you've tried one of his soft pretzels, you know what I'm talking about. He has been trying to convince me for a while that making sourdough bread "isn't that hard." For Jeremy, not much in the baking/cooking/BBQing category IS hard. For me, it's all hard. 

For my birthday he got me a sourdough starter. He was convince I could make it happen. I was not so convinced. My birthday was in May. It is now almost August. That should tell you something. Needless, I started with my little starter in a little bowl and I was SO excited to see things start to grow and bubble. I would be lying if I told you I just followed directions and left my brother alone. He probably got at least one call or text a day... does this look right? Did I add enough? Is it supposed to smell like that?! Each time he patiently encouraged, corrected and helped me. He went over the baking process with me no less than twice. Is my brother the best or what?! 

Currently my bread is in the oven and I am praying it does it what it is supposed to do. Bake into the most scrumptious loaf that I will later slather in butter and jam because its "healthier" since I made it from scratch HA! 

As I sit here waiting to see how it turns out, I started thinking about the Word and the loving directions God gives us through it. As I think about how my brother could have just said, "The directions are all online. Look it up and follow the directions and it'll turn out ok." Instead he walked with me through the process. He allowed me to ask questions, to ask for the THIRD explanation of the same thing (because I was now on that step and needed to hear it again) and to baby step through this. God's Word, though it is a bunch of words come with a beautiful relationship - not just a set or rules, "Just do what it says and it'll turn out." 

God's Word is amazing because you can read the same thing and depending on where you are in the "process" you might understand Him in a different way. He lovingly and patiently walks with us through life, encourages us and corrects us. We can keep coming back to him, asking him for clarification and know He has no problem taking the time to explain yet again. 

Eventually I hope that I will be able to make this bread and not have to call 100 times but until then, my brother is a rockstar and is always there to help. 

As I grow in my walk with the Lord, I know I will never "master" the Christian life, but I can be transformed by his Word. I pray that I will continue to grow up into eating that "solid food" instead of having to only drink milk.

Those are the things that Jesus, sourdough and my brother have taught me today... now to go and see how my bread is doing! 

*update: it was a complete flop (multiple times!) 😂 Guess I'll be spending more time on the phone with my brother!

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

The Rapids of Life

As we watch the water rush over the rocks creating white crests, Andrew asks, “Could you go down that river?” I tried my best to explain the fun and thrill of white-water rafting. I think back on my times down the Colorado River; but even better, the time my sister and I bested a tributary river in the Amazon. 

While relaying these stories to Andrew, he comments, “Is it safe?” It causes me to pause because, no, it’s not really safe, but it sure is fun! So we talk about the difference between going down rapids in a raft, with a guide and a life jacket and then what it would be like falling into a river without all of these measures being taken. In a raft, with a guide and life jacket, you feel the thrill of the ride, the wind on your face and the adventure right in front of you! It is still dangerous and a bit scary, but also fun and amazing! If you were to fall into a swift moving river without all the things, that exciting thrill would quickly turn to panic and a desperate need to survive. 

What is the difference? Same river. Same person. Different situation.

I tried to paint the picture for Andrew. Life has many scary turns, rushing water, and roaring rapids that can feel like it’s too much to handle, because it is. However, as believers, we have safety in the raft. Our heavenly Father is the one who carries us and Jesus is our guide; the one who shows us where to go, how fast to paddle and steers us around giant boulders that we can’t see. Lastly, we have our life vest, the Holy Spirit, who has sealed us because of the saving work of Jesus on the cross. We need not be worried that we will drown or be lost because “When you believed you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.”  As one of the high school girls in my Bible study pointed out, if the water is calm, those outside of the raft, “ who are chillin’” will look at you and say, “What a boring life you live! Throw off that life vest and come float with us!” But, the moment those inevitable rapids begin, things shift quickly. 

Today you might wonder if life is safe. I guarantee you; it is not. Uncertainties abound… sickness, pandemics, shootings, accidents and more - today you may be feeling the rapids, or you may believe the waters are calm in your life. Jesus doesn’t offer you a way out of this life but he will navigate you through it all. John 20:31 says, “But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” He offers life eternal and life today. I urge you to believe in Him today and allow Him to lead you down this crazy river of life, whether life feels tumultuous or calm.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Trust Me

In 2007, I was sitting in Charlotte, NC preparing for my 2 years in Ecuador working at a coffee shop ministry to college and university students (my absolutely dream job!) I had the opportunity to hear from some very seasoned and wonderful missionaries and be encouraged by fellow missionaries getting ready to go out. My excitement was mounting with all the possibilities that lay before me!

In the midst of what seemed wonderful, there were things that weighed so heavy on my 26 year-old heart. I remember taking my journal out to a field behind SIM and crying out to the Lord. I had 3 things that I made my anxiety spiral out of control:

What if I never learned the language? For an extrovert who loves to connect with people, this was my worst nightmare. What if I could never communicate my love for Jesus? What if I had to sit silently, never making a deep heart connection with anyone for 2 years?
What if I never made friends? The fear of loneliness away from friends and family haunted me.
What if I never get married? Let's just be honest, this was probably my worst fear. The thought of leaving the country at the age of 26 for 2 years with NO possibility of marriage in the near or distant future made me cry.

As I laid these worries before the Lord one by one, he met me there. He did not meet me with answers but instead with Trust me. So I stepped out, trusting the God who had always been there and promised to walk with me whatever happened.

Fastfoward to 2020 during a crazy pandemic when this extroverted mama felt stuck and alone. Steven had the great idea of walking the 40 acres behind SIM USA, which I had never done before. As we walked, I saw the spot from 2007 where I cried out to the Lord and he heard me. I took this picture to remind myself: this is where the Lord met you and here is a little piece of the fulfillment of His answer to you.

I honestly love thinking back on that time in 2007 because the Lord answered each one of those prayers: the language learning, the friends and the husband. None of them came how I thought they would or when, but it was in His perfect time and way.

So no matter what is swirling around my mind, my heart or this crazy world, I remind myself to go back and hear Jesus whisper those sweet words to me, Trust me because He has been faithful and will continue to be.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

What's your word?

Present. Grow. Humble. Surrender. Depth. All words that people give to the new year. Sometimes it's based off of things you want for the future or regrets you have in the past. I have done this the past several years but rarely remember what my word even is from year to year, let alone allow it to affect my life!

To try and keep myself accountable, I'm writing it here so that January 1, 2021 I can look back and ask myself: was that true of you in 2020?

My "word" for 2020 is rather a phrase from Mark 6:31, "Come away with me." After long days of ministry, little rest and no food, Jesus called his disciples into the boat and said, "Come away with me. Let us go alone to a quiet place and rest for a while." Can you hear them breath a sigh of relief?

I have a mental picture of Jesus in the boat reaching out his hand to me on the shore, Come away with me. He is beaconing me to draw near, leave the multitude, truly rest and enjoy Him. Enjoy. Him.

Let's be honest, I'm tired and have been for a long time (I create cute kids who don't sleep!) But true rest is not something I'm good at. I am notorious for not giving myself margin. I try and fit it all in because I hate missing out or saying no. Even in my time with the Lord, it can feel like I'm checking a box, not finding real rest in Him! With two small children at home and loving being with people the way I do, I realized that if I want a quiet place to rest, that has to be a priority, not an afterthought. So this year, I'm choosing to make it a priority.

The God of the universe wants to meet with me and give me rest. Come away with me.

Whatever your word might be for 2020, know that THIS year, Jesus is calling. For those of you who do not know Him, He wants you to come, believe and be made new. For those who do, He's calling you deeper.

Come away with me. What will your answer be?

Monday, August 12, 2019

The Blizzard of Suffering

This week at church, our pastor talked about suffering and gave the most amazing analogy. This is the Jamie's condensed version: our need of Jesus is like a furnace in the bottom of our house (he's from Ohio... they have those there). During the summer months you may not even remember that it's there because you feel don't need it, but as fall and winter set in, you turn it on and enjoy your happy home. But when a blizzard comes you don't just realize your need for it, you get as close to it as you possibly can to stay warm. Suffering causes the same thing in our lives - to get as close to Jesus as possible. As he shared that, I began to think of my own suffering moments and the closeness of Jesus... 

Everyone’s picture of suffering looks different. Some are much more extreme and some are far more mild but suffering is real and God can really meet you there. Here's when Jesus met me...

From the moment he was awake to random moments he went to sleep, he cried. “Babies cry” was the response I got from a lot of people… that is until they heard him. The astonished look people would give when he let out his wails of pain from the depths of his soul… they were intense. Yep, that’s what I dealt with for the first 9-10 months of Andrew's life. I don’t have those sweet infant baby pictures of them curled up in a little basket. I have the mental image of a face twisted in pain and an exhausted mother just trying to hold it together. 

I cannot count the number of days and nights I cried out to the Lord and begged him to “fix” my son; to allow him to sleep, to allow ME to sleep. Some days He felt silent like He didn’t care that I was losing my mind. And then He would send me things. 

One day I remember starting out the morning with Andrew strapped to me, crying (as usual), bouncing and walking back and forth across my small apartment living room. A friend of mine had posted a worship song, which I clicked on in desperation to hear a word of encouragement. That word turned into pure and sweet worship of my Savior. Yes, I still cried out for Him to take this from me, but I wept as I bounced, sang and cried out to the One who hears. Did Andrew stop crying? No. Not by a long shot. But oh how Jesus met me there that day.

Several other days he sent friends to hold and rock him while I got a moment of peace. He sent fellow mamas to speak words of life and encouragement into my weary soul. 

But here is one thing He didn’t do: He didn’t make Andrew stop crying - he didn't stop the blizzard, even though I knew he could. As I leaned in, he held me there. It absolutely brings me to tears to remember these moments. They were hard. I would not wish them on anyone nor would I want to do it again. BUT I am glad that I suffered because I met my Jesus in a way I never would have if Andrew would have slept and ate like the baby I would have liked. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

You're invited to a wedding...

This year I have TWO very close friends getting married. Needless to say, I've got weddings on the brain. To top it off, our pastor has been preaching through Revelation and recently discussed the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.  

As Pastor Don shared with us the correlations between a Jewish wedding celebration and the book of Revelation, I stood in awe at so many things. I would really love to share some of those with you if you have the time to read...

In a Jewish wedding celebration, in those days, (as I understand) it would begin with the groom paying the bride's dowry and leaving a guarantee, something precious, so that all (especially the bride) would know that he was coming back for his beloved. He would then leave to add a room to his father's house and when that room was finished, he would come back to collect his bride. She was to wait in joyful anticipation at his return. She had no idea when he would return, only that he would. So she would make beautiful things to put in her new home and prepare her wedding garments.

When Pastor Don shared those things with us, a lightbulb just went off for me. WOW! My groom has paid the price for me at the cross, left His Holy Spirit as a guarantee that He will come back for me. He promised that He "goes to prepare a place" in His Father's house and that I should be ready because He could come back at any moment.

When I think about my two girlfriends preparing for their weddings, there is so much preparation and so much excitement... the most beautiful dress, the perfect wedding venue, and everything has to be just right. When you talk to them about their weddings, they are FILLED with joy. Why? Because they get to marry the man of their dreams.

Emily right after Pierre shouted "She's beautiful!"
At my friend Emily's wedding, her soon-to-be husband, Pierre couldn't contain his excitement. The doors opened and as she was about half way down the aisle, he shouted out, "She's beautiful!" He could not wait to have her as his own -  that's how Jesus feels about you and me. He can't wait for the day that we get to be together forever.

But until then, how are we (the church) waiting for our groom? With joyful anticipation? Inviting everyone and anyone to come and join the celebration? Or, are we pretending like we aren't even getting married - just living life like it's any other day?

If you aren't sure if you're invited, let me extend that invitation to you right now... Jesus loves you. He  desperately wants to be with you. Your sin keeps that from being a possibility, so he paid the ultimate sacrifice - he died for you. But then Easter... he rose again! And calls out to all, "COME and be my bride! Believe that my sacrifice was enough." If you believe, he leaves you the guarantee of His Holy Spirit and tells you, "Behold I am coming soon!" So invite others, grow in him, and remember your groom is coming for you!

Sunday, March 17, 2019

My flower bed = a scene from Jumanji

This is the first time we have ever had a yard let alone a flower bed to tend. I have no clue about gardening and kill most things I try to keep alive. So when we moved into our house, I didn't have high hopes for our flower bed. I figure I'm good at killing things so nothing out there should last too long. Well, I was wrong. Our front flower bed is a wreck - not with dead things, but with too many WEEDS. Every time I pass by, I cringe because it is so overgrown (see picture!). Honestly, at this point I can't tell what's a weed and what's a plant.

Yesterday afternoon I had it. As the kids played, I went after those weeds like a crazy person. There were a series of vines that were covering the ground, taking over rose bushes and trying to climb into our house! You want to hear the crazy thing? I didn't even SEE it all until I started pulling it out.

Pulling up weed after weed, the Lord impressed on me the sin that can live in my own heart - the way it hides in plain sight. If you have a nicely manicured flower bed, pulling a weed on a weekly or daily basis is no big deal. But if your flower bed has turned into a scene from Jumanji, it's going to take a while. Some weeds even tricked me into thinking, "That's a plant, not a weed. It looks kind of pretty - maybe I should just keep it." Until I pulled it up with satisfaction knowing it was one more weed invading my beautiful space (hard to believe the picture below is the SAME corner of my flower bed).

Sin comes in all shapes and sizes. There seem to be the obvious ones like lying, stealing, cheating and hate. While pride, ungratefulness, gluttony, selfishness, and gossip seem to hide in the category of "pretty weeds," but Jesus sees them all the same. I do not want these weeds taking over my life - they've got to go!

I must go to the Master Gardener, Jesus Christ who can take care of my sin problem. Jesus not only rescued me from my sin, but He now takes the time to clear out my junk. He lovingly and sometimes painfully clears out the weeds - for my good and His glory.