Not Your Momma’s Beans

Not Your Momma’s Beans

Do not be confused by the title of this post!! You haven’t accidentally stumbled upon another food blog. It’s still little old me! But because food is a big part of my life, I will occasionally share a recipe that even Jesus would’ve liked on His last supper table!

On Tuesday nights , we host a small group bible study at our home. And because we meet at dinner time, we start each week’s gathering around the table having a meal together. Well to be honest, the women sit at the table and the men stand around in the kitchen hoping to find some empty counter space for their plates! But they don’t mind, being the good southern gentlemen they all are! The recipe I’m sharing with y’all today is one I made this week for our “End of Semester Cook Out Extravaganza”. These are not your average old baked beans. These are really good. Really, really, really good even!

So with no further ado, here ya go……the actual recipe near the actual top of the post. No scrolling through 1500 words and ads to get to this one!!

This is what you need

  • 1lb ground beef (or turkey if you prefer less fat)
  • Bacon (I won’t tell you how much to use. That’s between you and Jesus!)
  • 2 cans each kidney beans, white beans, pork ‘n beans (or whatever beans float your boat)
  • 1 diced onion
  • 3/4 C light brown sugar
  • 3/4 C ketchup
  • Little less than 1/2 C molasses
  • 2 big glubs of yellow mustard (if you must measure, start with 2 T)

This is how you doooo iiiit (did you sing that?)

  1. In a large dutch oven type pot, cook your ground beef (or turkey) with the diced onions. After you feel confident you have the perfect amount of bacon (because Jesus said USE AS MUCH AS YOU WANT BECAUSE I LOVE YOU!) cut the bacon in small pieces and cook it with the meat and onions. You can also cook the bacon separately if you like but I really like saving steps. So I cooked it all together! Drain!
  2. Stop and say a little prayer of thanks for bacon…just because!
  3. Drain and rinse all your beans except the pork ‘n beans. Then add all these yummy, belly filing beans to your meat mixture.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients. Besides the bacon, these are the things that help make these beans so incredibly yummy!
  5. Bring to a boil. Or at least let them get really hot before you cover then and turn them down to simmer for a while. I let mine simmer for about an hour but you can dig in way sooner than that if you need to!

This recipe fed 9 people very generous portions. And there were left overs. I feel confident you will love these beans, especially if you already sorta like baked beans. If you just can’t stand beans, make these for your bean lovers and try a bite. You just might change your mind about beans after that! And if not, Jesus still loves you!!


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My Clamorous Life

My Clamorous Life


Like most new parents, I can remember fretting over what we would name each of our five children. Did I want a name with an impactful meaning? Did I want a Biblical name? A family name? A trendy name? A popular name? A unique name? I knew whatever name we gave our children, it would be theirs forever. Unless, of course,we chose Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii! Thankfully, none of our children were so embarrassed by the names we gave them that they had to fight to legally change it!

Several months ago when I started this blog, I had a similar struggle. What would I name my little piece of real estate on the world wide web? I had waited to reboot my blog, The BeBe Dyearies, until I felt God was giving me the big go-ahead. I knew I needed to change the name but I struggled with WHAT to name it. So in a moment of impatient desperation, I hunted down an old Facebook post from years ago where I begged for help naming a blog. And one person commented they would read a blog called “Dyehard Truths and Happenstance”. It was a cute little play on my name so I thought why not? If one person would read a blog with that title, surely thousands would! But there was one problem with this name. Even though I settled for it, I never truly felt peace with it because it wasn’t a name I felt in my spirit came from God.

So when I felt that nudge to make some more changes in my little corner of the Internet, I prayed hard for a new name for my blog baby. And patience to wait for it! What He gave me was just crazy enough that I knew it wasn’t just me hoping it was Him. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have come up with this name completely on my own!

So I present to you my new blog name…

“MY CLAMOROUS LIFE”

Photo by Mariusz Prusaczyk on Pexels.com

Believe me when I say I questioned this name. Was He sure about this one? When I think of the word “clamorous”, I think of loud annoying sounds I wish would stop!! The word means “noisily insistent” for crying out loud!! When I think of clamorous, I think of how quiet my life is now that my nest is empty. When I think of clamorous, I think about how I crave stillness and peace at the end of a day with my sweet preschoolers…who often are the very exact definition of “clamorous”!! When I think about clamorous, I think about how OPPOSITE of the true meaning of this word my life is most days! But I felt that overwhelming insistence and I couldn’t shake it.

Then He gave me this. Not only was He wanting to do new things with my writing, He wanted to give new meaning to how I live my life “clamorously”. Am I living my life “noisily insistent” for the sake of others? Am I showing the love of Jesus to all I encounter in a way that makes them want to know Him more? Not only in my home but when I’m traveling or out to eat or shopping or driving down the Interstate? In this Internet/Social Media driven society we live in, am I writing words that show love, kindness, peace, patience , goodness and gentleness? Am I making a JOYFUL NOISE? Or just a noise for the sake of being heard or right ?

Lord knows I don’t always make noise for the right reasons! But I am encouraged now to try harder. I am encouraged to always be aware of how He’s moving and grooving in my life! My prayer and hope is that as you read my little blog through the years (yes I’m feeling super hopeful right now!),that it will become easier for you to notice how the Lord is working in all the areas of YOUR life. And that because of your own open eyes, you too will be encouraged to live your life in a way that is “clamorous” in all the right ways, for all the right reasons! Until next time,

Pay to Caesar and All That Jazz

Pay to Caesar and All That Jazz

So Happy Tax Day Y’all! Today may find you sitting pretty, spending the giant refund you received back in February because you filed your taxes so stinking early. Are you enjoying that new couch? Have you planned and paid for the perfect summer vacation to paradise? Or you could be biting your nails today hoping you can get it all done before midnight, weighing out the likelihood that you’ll just go ahead and file an extension. Raise your hand if you’ve ever filed an extension and still waited until mid October to get ‘er done! Cue the wah wah music…

I spent my E N T I R E weekend debating whether I should get my taxes done on time or hit that “File an Extension” button looming over on the left side of my TurboTax screen. I mean, it would’ve been much more enjoyable to sit on my couch and binge watch seasons 6 and 7 of Game of Thrones. I like doing things that don’t involve hours of digging through paperwork to prove I really spent “xyz” on this , that and the other. I don’t like mileage logs or documents with number/letter names or any of that jazz. I like having fun on my weekends.

But I put on my big girl pants, grabbed my bottle of Motivate , said a prayer , and commenced on the 10 hour journey to find how much I had to “pay to Caesar”. Oh Jesus, I wish you had said “Then give bubble gum to Caesar because he loves it” or “Then give Caesar a pat on the back for a job well done” or anything else . But scripture is full of references to why we must pay our taxes so journey on fellow American tax payers.

Doterra’s Motivate Blend really is good! I applied it many times through my tax journey and I did get done well before the GOT premier!

But that’s enough serious tax talk. It is what it is and I figured today we could all use a little bit of humor. I have scoured the Internet and asked Comedian Google for her best Tax Day Jokes. So I now present to you some of the best funnies I found .

  1. From Jimmy Kimmel…”The IRS suggests filing early to reduce the chance that someone will steal your identity and file before you. Honestly, if somebody wants my identity so badly they’ll file my tax return, go crazy. You can mow my lawn while you’re at it, too.”
  2. From Tom Lehrer…”On my income tax form 1040 it says “Check this box if you are blind.” I wanted to put a check mark about three inches away!”
  3. From some anonymous dude… ” Taxes. Of life’s two certainties, the only one for which you can get an automatic extension.”
  4. Me to Siri…”Hey Siri, tell me a tax joke” Siri………. Again Me to Siri…”Hey Siri, tell me a tax joke” Siri…… All I got was dead air. She had nothing for me.
  5. Until about 5 minutes later, my phone randomly starts talking to me and Siri finally has a joke. Why don’t koala bears hang around with all the other bears?…Because they don’t meet the Koala-fications.

I guess Siri knows that there’s nothing to joke about when it comes to taxes. So today my tax procrastinating friends, trudge on. Smile whether you want to or not. Find something to be grateful for. Know you’re not alone in your delay. Take a deep breath . Be thankful you have another whole 365 days until you have to do this again! And if you can find that “Check here if you’re blind” box, please let me know if you check it three inches away!

The Muffin’s In the Bag

The Muffin’s In the Bag

Why did I just eat that?

How many times in my life have I said these words to myself? How many times have I caught myself with a child’s leftovers in my mouth? Because you know, nothing screams “Eat Me I’m Yummy!!” more than pasta or a muffin or a cookie that’s been poked, prodded and used as jewelry by a toddler.

How I’ve survived all these years as a “food addict” with a house full of messy toddlers is beyond me! Because the germs alone should’ve had me curled up in bed, clutching my achy stomach on the daily! I don’t know how many times I got to the end of the day and realized all I had for lunch was a few bites of the one year old’s spaghetti and a couple Goldfish off his tray. Thank You Jesus for the germ protection when my own inner toddler seemed to be screaming, “If you have it , it must be good enough for me! Gimmee! Gimmee! Gimmee! ” (insert gigantic eye roll here…or maybe a good old toddler foot stomping tantrum because if the shoe fits and all that! )

Bad food habits obviously include way more than just eating three desserts after a pizza feast! Or sitting down with a full bag of a chips while you watch a movie and the chips are gone before the movie is over !

I love how 1 Corinthians 6:12-13 reads in The Message. And by “love”, I mean that it steps all over my toes! If you need your bad eating habits stomped on , continue reading. If being convicted over your poor eating habits isn’t in your plan today, skip over the next paragraph!!

“Just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean that it’s spiritually appropriate. If I went around doing whatever I thought I could get by with, I’d be a slave to my whims. You know the old saying, ‘First you eat to live and then you live to eat’? Well it may be true that the body is only a temporary thing, but that’s no excuse for stuffing your body with food…”

As I move further down the path of improving my health and losing weight, I’ve found that confession is just good for the soul. Putting a voice to all my secret bad habits causes them to lose their authority over me. So yes, I’d eat toddler leftovers right off their tray. I’d eat a dozen cookies without blinking. I’d fill my pantry with complete junk food and somehow convince myself it was somehow healthy. I’d put sugar plus sugary, extra creamy creamer in my coffee . I’d stand in the kitchen with an open container of ice cream and a spoon and blindly eat it while standing over the sink and watching TV. And all the exercise I ever got while destroying myself with all this garbage was basically walking from the living room to the kitchen. Gosh,I should count it a blessing I only gained 80 lbs and not twice that!

Over this last 4 weeks of living in the loving conviction that God threw in my lap, I’ve discovered and overcome many things…

1. My morning coffee was a major culprit in my weight gain game. A month removed from drippy sweet coffee has made me see that all that sugar and cream in my coffee just wasn’t necessary! A protein shake added in a decent portion size does wonderful things for my coffee. I can get my coffee my preferred shade of light beige and enjoy the fact that it doesn’t taste like dessert! And now the thought of the coffee of my past makes my teeth hurt. Yikes!!

2. I can bypass brownies, cobbler, cookies and cakes without even feeling a twinge of desire for them. There is nothing God can’t do!!

3. I LOVE cottage cheese and fruit! Like I crave it now! Also, fat free Greek yogurt. Same story! I eat this now and instead of regular ice cream. And I’m OK with that!

4. A carton of blueberries is more delicious than a bag of chips. I can sit down with my blueberries in front of the TV and if I eat them all before the movie is over? So what? No biggie!

5. Exercise can be fun! My preferred work out right now is good old Leslie Sansone Walk at Home videos. THERE ARE SO MANY!! While I used to make excuses that I couldn’t exercise with a house full of kids or at the end of the day or because something was achy, I can say now that I’ve thrown those excuses out the window. It delights my heart to watch the one year olds work so hard to get all the moves right as they exercise alongside me! And all those aches can just take a hike!

6. No more toddler leftovers! This week I actually bagged up their leftover muffins instead of mindlessly stuffing them in my mouth!! And God as my witness, when they still hadn’t eaten them by the end of the day, I threw those rascally scraps of deliciousness in the garbage!!

Coffee with 1/2 cup or so of Premier Protein with my morning bible study

So toodleloo LIES I’VE BEEN TELLING MYSELF AND BELIEVING! I am leaning into TRUTHS now!! I AM able to do this because “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:13) When I feel weakened by old cravings or by my desire to just sit on the couch, I know “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him and He helps me.” (Psalm 28:7a) . When I feel unworthy, I know that I can praise Him “because I am fearfully and wonderfully made: Your works are wonderful. I know that full well.” ( Psalm 139:14)

If you are believing any lies about your own abilities to overcome weakness and you need help finding the truths to grasp on to, grab your bible and start pouring God’s truths about you into your heart and soul! If you need help, let me know!

Until next time…let’s keep eating to live and not vice versa!!

ps…in 4 short weeks, this 55 year old, with the weight loss obstacle of menopause firmly in my path, has lost 10 lbs! And for that, can I get a big old Hallelujah!!


The “Hmmm” of God

The “Hmmm” of God

I’ve heard from God about my weight problems exactly twice in my life now. The first time was in January of 2003. 7 months before my 40th birthday. I knew I didn’t want to be “fat and forty”. I hate the word “fat”, coincidentally, but I was distressed about approaching my 40th birthday and being overweight so I wasn’t thinking in nice terms! And I was frustrated because I hadn’t exactly had a great amount of luck losing weight in my past. I could look in the mirror and the size tag on my clothes and knew I had quite a bit to lose. This wouldn’t be pretty. Or fun. But I was lost as to where to begin.

So one day as I was driving home…probably with a giant cheeseburger and fries in my lap…I began crying out to God. I knew I was hopeless trying to tackle this giant in front of me without Him. And I knew that whatever approach I took to losing the weight would literally have to come from God’s lips to my ears. So I opened my ears to hear Him, hoping He’d have something to say. Like “Becky, you are so amazing . When you wake up in the morning, you will be 80 lbs lighter. You won’t have to lift a barbell or ride a bike or walk 10 miles a day. You won’t have to eat broccoli or salads every day . You’ll just wake up fit and thin. And you’ll stay that way forever! You’re welcome!”

But you know what? He didn’t say that. He’s not a genie in a bottle handing out three wishes to every one who calls His name. He’s also not Santa with a bag of goodies to pass out.

I didn’t hear anything.

But in that moment , I looked up from my drippy , greasy cheeseburger and on the side of the road was a billboard. It was bright and flashy. Like literally flashing! And in neon green letters were two words….Weight Watchers. My first thought was “Wow, Weight Watchers has gotten so fancy with their billboard advertising!” My second thought was “Maybe I’ll try Weight Watchers. There’s a meeting in town on Thursday night.”

So I joined Weight Watchers on a cold January Thursday along with hundreds of other New Years Resolutioners. I was determined to make it work but I wasn’t terribly hopeful. Until my first weigh in. I had quite a large loss in that first week ….and in the second. And suddenly I was a Weight Watchers “super star” knowing with full confidence that I would lose every pound I needed to. And I did. My before and after pics were up at the local gym. I’d be stopped in the grocery store by people who recognized me from those pics and they’d offer their words of awe and encouragement. This happened back in the day when AOL was still a great thing. Their Lifestyle and Health people contacted me for permission to share my pics and a few words about my journey in their little corner of AOL. I paid all this forward and worked for Weight Watchers as a leader, helping other people to achieve their goals.

Why was this time different from all the other hundreds of times I attempted to lose weight and be healthier? HmmmBECAUSE GOD. I became certain my bright green neon flashing sign was from God when I was driving down the same road a few weeks after that January day and it wasn’t there. Oh it hadn’t been replaced with another company’s advertising. The billboard itself wasn’t there. It didn’t appear that it was ever there based on what I did see there.

Yes, I know it sounds weird. We often wish for God to speak to us in obvious , crystal ball, flashing billboard ways. But that doesn’t happen often. Why He chose to lead my path and speak to me in that way is beyond me. I know this though…

“I, too, give witness to the greatness of God, our Lord, high above all the other gods. He does just as He pleases – however, wherever, whenever.”

Psalm 135:5-6 (The Message)

God can do whatever He wants, however He wants, wherever He wants. He can be big and flashy. Like when He gave me the literal flashing sign. Or He can be quiet and whispery. He can come in like a marching band or He can gently tap you on the shoulder to get your attention.

I mentioned at the beginning of this that God had spoken to me twice about this one subject. The second time wasn’t so big and flashy. In fact, it was just a still , small whisper.

A couple weeks ago, I found myself praying about our upcoming 25th Anniversary Vacation Extravaganza. I’ve already been praying for nice west coast weather and calm, smooth seas. I’ve already been praying for the provision to make this trip financially easy for us. But when I realized how out of shape I was…how overweight I truly was AGAIN…and how much walking would be required to get the most out of this trip, I added a few things to my prayers.

It went something like this…”Lord, you know how hard it is for me to comfortably walk or stand up for extended periods of time. You know how out of breath I get with too much activity. You know how wimpy I’ve become with a weak back and bad hips. So Dad, could you please make sure our cabin is near the exit of the ship so I don’t have to walk too far to get off the boat to begin our adventures each day. …..” I had much more to add to this oh so eloquent prayer but in that moment, I felt it. God’s answer was nearly immediate.

That Still, Small Voice was whispering to me. I felt it in my spirit and I knew exactly what the “Hmmmmm…” I felt meant. I could just imagine God standing there, arms crossed, giving me the side eye. Then looking the other way and getting a good laugh out of my oh so humorous request. That “Hmmmmm” said so much to me. And as the voice of God so often does, it changed me. Right then and there I felt the inner conviction I’ve been begging to feel for years. All the failed attempts to keep the weight off since it started creeping back on in 2006. All the weak efforts to be at a healthy weight again as I approached my 50th in 2013. Nothing worked for me because I did not feel that inner conviction that only God can give me. But with that holy “Hmmmm” , that conviction came rushing back to me.

I knew exactly what I needed to do. God had helped me do it before. I knew it was time to return to where God had lead me in the past. It was time to let go of the old frustrations in overcoming my weight battle and remember that God is always in control!! That I do so much better when I GIVE GOD ALL CONTROL!


“And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

1 Peter 5:10 (ESV)

My “suffering” has been gaining every bit of that 80 lbs back. My “suffering” has been joint issues because of the weight…bad back, bad hips. My “suffering” has been feeling like an 80 year old every time I get up out of a chair or have to walk more than several feet at once. I’m only two weeks into my God lead journey back to better health and I’m already feeling a difference. I have a long way to go. But I know that HE will restore me. He will make me strong and firm. And I will be steadfast on this road far beyond reaching my goal.

I try to only share head shots of myself. My weight isn’t as obvious from the neck up! But to stay transparent and honest here, I share this photo that is now my “before” shot. I like my dress. But I cringe a little when I look at this and can see how far off goal I am. I trust, though, that God is leading me . I trust that He will hold me tight to this road. My good health WILL be restored. I can’t wait to share my progress over the next many months!

ps…this is in no way an endorsement for WW. It’s just what works for me and is part of my weight loss journey testimony!

In the Waves with Matching Socks

In the Waves with Matching Socks

Picture me standing on my rooftop (which I’d never really do because heights are scary!) screaming at the top of lungs, tears rolling down my face, tearing at my clothes, kicking up roof tiles, madder than an old wet hen on a snowy winter’s day. That would’ve been me on one particular gloomy day in January 2014 … if I’d had the nerve to climb on my roof. Well, and tear at my clothes that I spent good money on and kick up roof tiles that I don’t have the money to replace! No, I’d never really do this. But I was pretty stinking mad that day.

I’d love for all the little stories that make up the testimony of my life to involve butterflies and rainbows and cuteness and all things lovely, true and pure but I live in the real world just like you do. So ,many times, the stories of my life are going to involve the opposite of the things listed above!

Finding beauty in sticky situations. It can be tricky, but I believe that through every rough spot we face in life, God provides us with something beautiful in the end…..

In spite of the ick.

In spite of the trial.

Beauty from ashes.

Always…because He is faithful.

The end of 2013 was one icky mess after another. I got the flu… or maybe it’s evil twin… on Thanksgiving Day. And it liked spending time with me so much that it hung around for weeks. Like until just days before Christmas. I can’t remember the last time a seemingly “simple” illness hung around with such tenacity. I had a horrible cough for weeks and completely lost my voice for the good part of a month. I still couldn’t sing a note by Christmas Eve…which was quite tortuous for this girl who loves nothing better than to “spread Christmas cheer by singing loud for all to hear!” I’m still not sure why I chose to go to the mostly song-filled worship service on Christmas Eve since all I could do was my best Milli Vanilli impression . Remember them? Then 10 days before Christmas, while I’m STILL trying to recoup from the flu, I get a call from my son’s school that they’ve called an ambulance to transport him to the hospital of our choice. He’s severely broken his arm. They weren’t kidding. I’d post a picture of Noah’s arm for your viewing pleasure but you’d probably never come back and read this silly old blog again. It was hideous! He had surgery and spent 3 nights in the hospital. Shortly after this, we get a call that my husband’s dad had taken a fall and broke many ribs and punctured his lung. He was in the hospital awaiting surgery….one he might not recover from. Sadly, he didn’t. Two days after Christmas my father in law was finally breathing freely in the presence of Jesus.

This was just December. I won’t bore you with tales of job losses, extremely reduced income and other stresses that plagued us January through November!

Oh sweet 2014 please be kinder………

…sigh…

But the trials of 2013 weren’t quite over. January had a rough start with flooding in our house. Twice we tromped through little unwanted rivers in the back of our house caused by frozen, busted pipes.

And so we’re back to the opening rooftop story here. On that day, I found myself standing in my sons bedroom ankle deep in water for the second time in a month but this time I was in matching socks. Yes, I said matching! My day had started so well because we all know that matching socks is a victory. Especially when your dryer loves nothing more than to always eat one sock from each pair you own!! Now my beautiful matching socks were soaked in yucky flood water.

I closed my eyes , took a deep breath and made the calls I knew were next after a flood. Then I was mad again. Still in disbelief…..I’m pretty sure I went to bed that night wondering what in the world was going on. Why were we continuously being plagued with one challenge after another?

In my mind, I deserved a big huge pity party. Who wouldn’t after going through all we’d been through? I’d invite friends over to cry with me. We’d have cold pizza and hot diet coke. It would be a blast.

No sooner had I created the guest list for my pity party than I got a little nudge from God. A nudge to remind me to open my pity filled eyes and really see what was going on. Nothing had really dramatically changed from Flood One . Flood Two happened on concrete floors, a stripped down bathroom. The floor was mostly empty of all the clothes, books, and computers that were ruined the first time. We had a roof over our heads. We had heat, clothes on our backs, food in the pantry. And the livable portion of our house was still livable.

Just like that I was reminded of a few things…

  • Blessings abound , even in the midst of turmoil. The faster I start looking for the blessings, the more quickly I’ll find them. The quicker I remember how greatly blessed I am…well, wet matching socks just seem so insignificant.
  • The faster I turn to God with my troubles, the faster I feel better. I like to feel better. Who doesn’t?? Why do we hang on to anger, fear, uncertainty, etc. etc. sooooo long?
  • I don’t have it near as bad as I think I do. Somebody slept in the cold last night. Somebody is begging for food. Somebody doesn’t have a penny to his name and only has what he can carry around in a bag on his back. Why is it so easy for me to fall into a pit of pity for myself when I have it better than a good majority of the world……misplaced water, concrete floors, ripped out walls, kids sleeping on the couch or not?

And those things were my BEAUTY…..in spite of it all.

As I stood in my son’s room on a patch of dry ground, I looked into the bathroom where water was still dripping out of the pipe into the house. There were already fans blowing attempting to dry things up as quickly as possible but the breeze from the fan was having a rippling effect on the standing water on the floor. There were waves on my bathroom floor. As I think back on that, a song came to mind. So I’ll close with the lyrics to that song and pray you too can allow your soul to rest in the embrace of the One who puts up with every pity party we indulge ourselves in and still calls us His own.


“So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours, and You are mine”
……

”Oceans” by Hillsong United (chorus)



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Do You Like Me? Check Yes or No

Do You Like Me? Check Yes or No

It all started when I was a 3rd grade kid. I loved making a Valentine box to sit on my 3rd grade school desk. Paper hearts…glitter…glue. All things pretty and sparkly.  But that’s where the fun ended. I rarely ever got as many Valentines as everyone else did.  Back in the day, we weren’t required to give everyone in the class a cute little card covered in hearts and puppy dog tails. Nope. We just gave cards to whoever we wanted to declare our undying love and friendship for. My box was light.  But to not totally dis that class full of fellow 8 year olds, they may not have even known I was in their class.  I was so shy…I rarely spoke to anyone.

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Then there were all those horrific teenage Valentine’s Days.   You know the ones.    You really like him, but he really likes her.  And you’re not her. Notes are passed and you hold your breath hoping and praying he checks “Yes”!   In all my teen years, I remember getting a Valentine from a boy exactly once.   He got me a cute little stuffed bear I named “Buff”.   This boy liked me because I looked good in a bathing suit.     Ugh!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Then there are the adult Valentine’s Days.  “Singles Awareness Days” are brutal.   All your friends have dates and you’re home alone with  a sappy movie and a gallon of Moose Tracks, thoughts of the perfect man running through your pretty head. Even after we find Mr. Right and live out our days happily ever after with him, we often become painfully aware of Mr. Right’s imperfections…(and just to be fair, he very likely becomes all too aware of our imperfections as well.)  

I wonder if we are just hard-wired to always be seeking the perfect one  so that we’ll ALWAYS be seeking that Perfect One? Hmmmm…..

You know the one?    He’s truly perfect in every way.    And I don’t mean to brag, but y’all, I’ve found him and he’s taken a bit of the “humbug” out of my hard Valentine heart.   He’s mine and I am his.    At first glance, you may not think he’s all that…but let me assure you, he is truly beautiful!

He loves me just as I am…..flaws and all.    In fact, he proclaimed his love for me well before I did the same.   He pursued me like crazy and never gave up on me.  His love is relentless and pure.  He says he’ll NEVER give up on me…and I believe him.

And now that he has me, he hasn’t marked me off his list of “claimed pursuits”, pushing me aside for the next best thing. He will faithfully love me forever.    In fact, I’m not sure I’ll ever fully understand how deeply he loves me. He tells me all the time that nothing can ever separate us.   Nothing I do will ever make him  love me less.   He doesn’t care if I’m grumpy or hormonal or “look fat in that dress”.     He just loves me.

He always takes care of me…always.   He does this because I love him…but mostly because he loves me so much.    He’s the perfect provider and he never has to guess what I need.  He just knows.   He’s my “knight in shining armor”, keeping me safe and protected.    I feel so safe with him.

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If He had been in my 3rd grade class, He would’ve stuffed the little box on my desk full of little heart shaped cards with Snoopy on them.   The “Yes” box would’ve been checked .

Quite simply, He’s the perfect Man.   Nobody will ever come close to His perfection.  He’s the best “Valentine” I’ve ever had or ever will have……and I don’t mind sharing Him one bit!

The Craziness of Time

The Craziness of Time

I had a dream last night that we were all at my oldest daughter’s house for Christmas. Except it was one of those strange Christmases where she was obviously moving. There were moving boxes strewn all over the house among the Santa gifts. I, being the helpful mom I am, decided to help her unpack some things. Until one item I found in a box totally unglued me. It was a gently used set of children’s water colors with her sisters 1st grade handwritten name across the back. I just lost it right there in her living room where it looked like Christmas and the Moving Fairy had met up and exploded. Everyone thought I had stuck my hand in a box of pit vipers or something. Because seriously? Why would mom be practically hysterical over children’s water colors?

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I am not a dream interpreter. But it doesn’t take a genius to figure out the meaning of this dream. Seems my dream world and my real life feelings collided in my brain for the few minutes it took for my sleep self to create this scene.

I had my first baby in 1986. And our nest did not empty until the summer of 2017 when the last of our 5 kids graduated high school and moved out. The math is easy here. I spent 31 YEARS with kids under my roof. Some of you may be wanting to ask how big the party was on that day we finally graduated from full time parenting to empty nesting. But the truth is this. In spite of the fact there were times when the kids were young that we’d go to bed exhausted, chanting “2017! 2017!” over and over, that August day in 2017 felt like it totally sprung up on us. My hubby and I almost felt blind sided by it.

Why? Because the time passed so quickly our hearts couldn’t catch up. The reality was our children were raised and were starting adulthood while our hearts were screaming that we needed to load them all up in the minivan and get them to practice on time! The reality was all the bedrooms were now empty while our hearts were still telling our kids it was time to come to dinner! Don’t even get me started on how hard it is to cook for two when I’ve cooked for 7 for so long!! Two people do NOT need an entire large box of spaghetti!! Thank you Hello Fresh for easing us into THAT!!

But I digress!

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1

These are words I started singing long before I knew they were actually words of Scripture. (I’ll post the song at the end. Take a look at Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 as you listen!) Once I realized they were actually words from THE Word, I began to see them as truth. And now I can hang on to them and begin my new song. Because I can either embrace the passing of time and enjoy each new season for all it is or I can crumble.

So I sing….

There IS a time and a season for everything. I may be well past any ability to birth babies, but new things can still be birthed in me! As each new thing comes my way , I will grasp it with eager hands and let the glories of the past be sweet memories.

As I am “planted” in new places that don’t involve motherhood, I will keep my eyes open and my ears tuned to what God has for me in each new “planting”.

My heart will heal from the ache of time that zoomed by way too quickly.

I will build up my children as they race into adulthood, spreading their wings to fly. And I’ll build myself up by filling my head with God’s truths and smashing the enemies lie that I was only meant for one thing.

I have mourned the “passing of childhood” and will now find JOY in all the things. Because , quite simply, there is so much to find joy in!

I will learn to dance with wild abandon to this new song!

I will embrace the amazing things God has placed before me. And, quite literally, I will always be thankful that the embraces I get from my adult kids are so much more REAL than the embraces of their teenage selves!

I will keep the memories of the last 31 years treasured in my heart as I create new, beautiful memories with my children and grandchildren.

I will speak words of affirmation to these amazing people God gave me when they need to hear them most. And I will keep my own opinions to myself when they benefit no one but me! Because peace in the family is so much better than a “war of words”!

My heart is slowly but surely catching up with our new reality. And it’s good. Really good! I don’t know what new season you’re facing right now but I know that with each bit of new, God has something marvelous! I hope you’ll embrace it!

“Oh sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things!”…Psalms 98:1


Shattered

Shattered

We planned this move as a means to start over. Being 1000 miles away from all we knew was going to be our fresh start. The hurts from the past would be set aside and forgiven and we would move on…together. As I made the final arrangements to move myself and our two young children to meet him and start a new home and life together , I got the call. He wasn’t ready to make our marriage work and he would be coming home to finalize our divorce.

I was shattered.

It came as a text. They wouldn’t be needing my services any longer. As nice and cordial as the message was, it still stung. But when I got a similar message from another parent just a few days later, I was left empty. Even though children moving on is the “nature of the beast” of my business , I wasn’t expecting this to all hit at once and it hurt. To top things off, not only did I lose every penny of my income that week, so did my husband. How long could we keep food on our table and a roof over our heads with the little bit of savings we had? I knew it wouldn’t last long.

I was shattered.

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As I finished up Chapter 2 of “It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way”, I was challenged to think about times in my life that felt shattered to the point of dust. “Shattered to dust”…those times that felt like an abrupt, scary, disappointing end to the comforts I once felt. The times that felt like I could never pick up the pieces and move on. Because, well, once something is shattered to the point of dust, it’s a smidge impossible to glue those teeny, tiny fragments back together and make anything good.

Unless, of course, you’re God!

In the book, Lysa brought to our attention how magnificent God is with dust. Give God a handful of dust and He can create a living, breathing human being. I mean, come on. Creating a person with such ease should give us great comfort when we hand Him the dust created from our obliterated circumstances!

But I know how much easier it feels in the moment to just scream at God and come short of demanding that He fix things just the way we think would be best. I’ve been there, done that….

LORD! Make him love me again! Get him on a one way plane back home where he’ll stay and we’ll live happily ever after with our two kids and one dog. He’ll be faithful to me forever and I’ll never look like the black sheep of the family because I was the only one with a failed marriage! God, only You can do this, so do it now!

But God had other plans for my dust!

LORD! WHY?!? You know we can’t live without an income. I can’t even believe You made this happen to us. Why would you give me a calling in my life and rip it away with nothing to fall back on?? I have no clue what to do next! So God , You better lead me very clearly to the next step because I feel blinded here!!!!

But God had plans for my dust!

Did you ever watch David Letterman’s late night talk show? He would often have a segment he called ” Stupid Human Tricks” where people would do little “tricks” they taught themselves. Silly little old idiosyncratic crazy things they could probably make money showing off in bars! When we try to tell God what to do , or worse yet, jump ahead of him and start doing these things all on our own, I imagine He looks down on us from heaven , shakes His head and gets a little giggle at our silly “stupid human tricks”! Because try as we may, we can never ever create anything as fabulous out of the dust of our cruddy circumstances as God can. But we have to hand our crud over to Him and let Him do His thing!

Because God’s way is simply better.

“I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work.  God’s Decree. For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think.” … Isaiah 55:8-9 (The Message)

When I think back on these two times in my life when my circumstances felt crushed to dust, I can smile now knowing the truth of God’s declaration here. His ways ARE better! His thoughts for me ARE better! God took the dust of that broken marriage and did a new thing that never would’ve happened if I had stuck to my way of doing things and had not moved 1000 miles out of my comfort zone. God’s way gave me new confidence . His way showed me the rewards of obedience. His way showed me His heart and His great love for me. He drew me closer to Himself as He molded a new creation out of my dust. His way brought me new love, a new marriage with Him at the center and three sons I adore. God took the dust of our broken pay check and showed us how great His provision is, how perfect His timing is. He brought my husband a wonderful new career way closer to home. He brought me new children to love and care for. He showed me that even though I felt forsaken for a time, it was a lie. He never left our side or was ever unaware of what was happening.

He is simply good. He knows what to do when our lives are shattered to dust. My encouragement for you today if you are feeling shattered is to trust in His goodness , His love for you, and His timing in your situation. He knows what’s going on. He won’t take His eye off you. So mourn, mope, scream, do whatever you need to do to deal with the emotions but quickly shake off the dust. And let God create something new and magnificent with it.

If you have a story to share where God has turned your dust to glory, I’d love to hear it. I bet it would encourage someone else!

Oh but what God will do!!

From “It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way” by Lysa Terkeurst


The Pursuit of Perfection

The Pursuit of Perfection

As she strained to open her eyes , I wonder what she was thinking. Was she confused? Disoriented? Did she immediately know what was going on? Was she astounded by the love I’m sure she saw in the Eyes that gazed upon her first? She was created into a world without flaw. The beauty before her must have been breathtaking. Did she even realize that?

Luscious green gardens that grew magnificently regardless of her lack of knowledge in caring for them. Flowers she never had to water or plant for that matter. No bugs to eat away the leaves . The nearby river never overflowed nor did it show any signs of pollution. I bet the fish from this river tasted so amazing they didn’t need any Panko OR garlic! I can only imagine!

When her Creator took her to meet Adam for the first time, I wonder what she thought? I mean they were naked! Unless you are a nudist by nature, can you imagine how awkward that must’ve been!! Where did their eyes fall? Nothing was covered.

Nothing!!

In spite of this, they felt no shame. She wasn’t worried about cellulite or extra weight in her belly. He wasn’t concerned with his six pack or lack thereof and, if he had back hair, he simply didn’t care. They were just perfect.

EVERYTHING was perfect!

Until it wasn’t.

Enter the serpent and that oh so appealing tree with the fruit they just had to have a bite of. Suddenly they realized that knowing everything wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be. If the fruit was actually an apple, I wonder if a worm crawled out of it as Eve took that first bite and suddenly realized her toes were weird and she was jiggly in places she didn’t like to be jiggly! As she sought out the biggest fig leaf she could find to cover herself, I wonder if the perfectly lush grass under her feet all of a sudden had weeds poking through.

All that perfection. Gone with one moment of self indulgence.

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“The human heart was created in a context of the perfection of the Garden of Eden. But we don’t live there now. This is why our instincts keep firing off the lie that perfection is possible. We have pictures of perfection etched into the very DNA of our souls.”

“It’s Not Suppose to Be This Way” by Lysa Terkeurst

When I first heard Lysa Terkeurst talk about “life between the Gardens”, it was such a WOW!! moment for me. I had never thought of how our lives are book-ended with the perfection of the two gardens. God’s intention for us at creation was for us to live in His perfectly created world with no shame, guilt, anxiety, endless etc’s! And His intention for us at the end of this life on Planet Earth is the perfection of the New Heaven and the New Earth . Another garden riddled with perfection!

The time we spend between the two is a constant seeking for the perfect. I’m sure that looks different for each of us. What I deem perfect, someone else may declare sloppy. We search for the perfect in so many things…spouses, homes, vacations, food, friends, pictures of ourselves! Yes, my current Facebook profile picture is totally filtered!

See. This is exactly how I look!
I mean, this is how AirBrushed me looks with sparkly white teeth and a flawless complexion!

There’s not one thing wrong with seeking to do all things well. But in our pursuit of perfection, are we doing ourselves any favors? When we airbrush our profile pics , do we feel a stab of disappointment when we look in the mirror and there’s no AirBrush app to take out the coffee stains on our teeth before we head out for the day? Are we making ourselves and possibly all involved crazy seeking the illusion of perfection? Because, really? Is perfection truly even possible this side of heaven? The perfectly clean house is just gonna get dusty again and those amazing vacuum marks are gonna get walked on. The perfect vacation may get rained on. The perfect hair color is just going to turn gray again! That perfect friend is going to say something one day that hurts you to the core of your soul. And that perfection you worked so hard to achieve is going to vanish like a cloud of vapor.

When we seek perfection on our own, in our own power, we will never find it. We’ll be like dogs chasing our tails that we can never catch. But here in this life “between the gardens”, we have been given a Great Gift that will bring us that perfection we seek so savagely.

“And being made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.” …Hebrews 5:9

What if we sought after Jesus as hard as we fight for the perfect anything else? What if we just surrendered our desires for perfection to Him and just admitted that we can do nothing with true perfection without His help, without His guidance, without His love?

He IS the perfection “between the gardens” that will fit into the heart shaped hole we keep trying to stuff a square shaped peg into! So if you are a self proclaimed Perfectionist currently making yourself nuts because perfection is hard, can I encourage you with this last thought? Release yourself today from the pressures of the illusion of perfection. Grab on tight to the perfect peace that is yours when you keep your mind on Jesus and trust in Him! Work hard and do your best but leave the perfection to the only One who can and who has ever achieved perfection!

You are loved by Him in all your glorious imperfectness!!