Monday, February 23, 2015

Dedicated to Ferguson

Our church's version of Nothing But the Blood. 

God, heal our city. 
Let us know peace, through grace and forgiveness.
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Nobody's Perfect

I was sleeping on the sofa Sunday morning...trying to squeeze in an extra five minutes to my 2 and a half hours night of sleep.

I heard a little voice who had just gotten into trouble.

"Nobody's perfect Dad. Not even God." 

I opened my eyes, curious how this conversation would go. I DESPERATELY wanted to declare the truth to the five year old, but I was barley coherent, besides, I wanted to see what the Hubs would say.

"Why do you think God isn't perfect?" The Hubs asks, ignoring the fact that The Kid is trying to get out of trouble.

"'Cause nobody is. So God can't be."

"Hmmmm." The Hubs replied, not wanting to make a mountain out of a mole hill.

I closed my eyes trying to hang on to the last moments before I had to roll off the couch and take a shower, to get ready for church.

The declaration bothered me. I couldn't let it go as easy as the Hubs could.

Later that afternoon The Kid and I were running a few errands together and I reminded him what he said that morning.

"Do you remember what you told your dad this morning, about God not being perfect?"


"Well, you should know that God IS perfect. It's very important that He's perfect."


Oh to explain to you the things that God reveals to us in our journey to Him. My heart cried out to his.

"Because it's important to know that God does not make mistakes. It's important to know that He loves us perfectly, and that we can always trust Him. We know He is perfect, because the Bible tells us that He is perfect."

I wanted to take him home and open the bible and find all the bible verses that declare God's perfection, holiness and righteousness.

I wanted to show him the verses that tell us how good God is, and how we are to be holy as we are holy....but we can't, because all fall short of the glory of God....

                                                                                              and so we need Jesus.

 "Nobody is perfect, Dad"........
                                              but Christ.

Christ, the perfect sacrificial lamb. The perfect one, without spot or blemish, if God is not perfect, his sacrifice would not and could not be eternal. His love would not and could not be everlasting. I would not and could not be saved.

Of course, as with all little boys, when he got in the house he wanted to wrestle with his dad and play cars.

I can't wait for the day when he wrestles with his Heavenly Father and seeks truth in His perfect word.

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When God Showed up to my Wedding Part II: Saving Yourself for Marriage

*Mom, and Cheryl, if you are reading my blog, please don't read this post :)*

The first time I had sex was on my wedding night.

Inevitably, if someone knows you long enough, or is nosy enough, if you are unmarried, the subject of sex is going to come up. 

....and inevitably, someone is going to ask you if you are a virgin.

and if you are you will get some variation of one of two comments.  
"Whoa! I don't even understand how that is even POSSIBLE!"
"Wow! That's cool, I don't think I could do it, but that's really admirable" 

My husband and I have had several conversations about our struggles with sex through our lives, and ultimately, it always comes down to misunderstandings about sex and God's design for marriage.

Some of this post is going to be written by the hubs. His writing will be in blue.

To be honest, I didn't really have a conception of what "struggling with sex" meant until I was in college. In high school I wasn't really allowed to date, and I just wasn't in the mind frame.

In college, I was inundated with exposure. It was depressing when my girlfriends were out with their boyfriends Friday nights, while I was drafting, or reading or making s'mores over the burner on the oven in the basement.

I think that's when I really started to feel entitled; when I felt like God was giving everyone else something that I wanted, but He was denying it of me.

It was hard to watch romantic movies and listen to popular music without feeding the fire so to speak. Sometimes I would cry myself to sleep at night, angrily praying to God, or begging Him to give me the things I most desired.

When you believe you're entitled, you open the door to sin.(AGREED!)

When I started dating, it was a constant struggle to "keep myself" physically pure. I would tell you that, only by the mercy of God, did I make it to meeting my future husband without physically having sex.

I didn't save myself, God preserved me.

For me, I had to keep telling myself that my virginity cannot be taken away from me, * and it's the only thing I can prepare to honor my husband on our wedding night...

but when I was feeling entitled, I would think...."I'm not even going to HAVE a wedding why does it matter?"

      "Sex!" The first words I would say on stage to a bunch of teenagers listening to a presentation. It is an attention grabbing, powerful, controversial, take sides and stand by it kind of subject. Sex is fun. Sex is science. Sex is a gift. Sex is great. My experiences with sex, in general, started with band in sixth grade. Ripped out pages of Playboy being passed around. Eighth grade, eaves dropped conversations between classmates. High school, and the great '.com' era, internet exposure. In a sense, I was an addict before I even left high school. 
      Sex also ruined my first marriage. It was my selfish actions, self serving, self centered-ness that didn't serve my (ex) wife. My concern was not for her, and that makes me sad, to reflect and see how selfish I was. 
       Sex is something we do and there is a formula, a recipe, an instruction booklet on sex. (It's called the bible.)Within marriage, with your spouse that you are married to, and not prior. Period. Sex is not (but is unfortunately) about one's own personal agenda. It is about loving your spouse in the manner that they feel loved.

Many of us"Echo Boomers" came from parents and churches who either did not talk about sex at all, or treated sex as a chore or duty, and otherwise, something that was "dirty" and "sinful." That way of thinking is contrary to God's word.

First Corinthians 7:5 tells us to only withhold sex from each other in times of fasting and prayer.

So many times we hear of spouses (especially women) withholding sex from their husbands as a punishment, or using sex as currency, "If you rub my back, and make me dinner I'll have sex with you."

Sex is a physical manifestation, an outpouring, of your love for your spouse. A realization that coming together as one may overflow into a "mini-me," a living, walking testament of your love for one another.

One of our pre-marital counselors illustrated it this way; Sex isn't in the act, it's in the way of being with your spouse. It's in the way you make each other breakfast in the morning, it's in the way you greet each other when you come home from work.

 I had come to grips with the fact that sex wasn't dirty, and it wasn't bad, but it was ONLY intended within the sanctity and holiness of marriage. There's this amazing illustration of the holy trinity within the framework of intimacy in marriage. As the father, son and holy spirit are one, so are God and a believing husband and wife.

At the same time that sex is this outpouring of love, it's also a covering of protection. Sex is an animal instinct, a basic primal need. If you are not selflessly fulfilling that need for your spouse, you are making it VERY difficult for them not to look for a fulfillment of that need elsewhere.

You are to ONLY become one with your spouse. Having sex outside of marriage is not only committing adultery against your future spouse, it is also committing adultery against God. You are choosing something other than God to fill up His space in your heart, and so cannot be content living in His ways.

I read a horror story posted on Facebook of  a woman who waited until marriage to have sex and she was traumatized the night of her wedding. As I was reading it, it reminded me of a few of the "chat rooms" I had browsed while digesting the fact that I was about to become a step-mom. This woman was NOT communicating with her future husband, and did NOT communicate with him through her adjustment of thinking, which was problem number 1. Problem number 2 was that the perspective she had on sex, that had been affirmed through her mothers teaching, and through the teaching of the church, was not God's teaching! And number 3, she was being incredibly selfish. The marriage shortly ended in divorce.

 I was talking with the hubs about having sex months before we got married. I told him what I was worried about, what I was looking forward to, what I wanted our wedding night to look like, what I didn't want our wedding night to look like. I also communicated with him that I wasn't even sure I WANTED to have sex on our wedding night because it kinda freaked me out a little that it felt like everyone was expecting us to. WEIRD! (People aren't supposed to KNOW that you had sex last night RIGHT?!)

You are entering into a great unknown, and yes it can be a little scary beforehand, but really, I've been learning that things are less scary than you imagine them to be, and the fear factor is cut down by about 60% when you open your mouth and talk about it with your significant other.

God's way can be difficult, but I'm here to tell you that God's way is not wrong, God's way is beautiful, and good, enjoyable and FUN! God's way isn't about you, and how you feel, it's about serving the other person. If you are both mutually serving each other, sex is going to be amazing!

The entire book of Songs is riddled with sexual innuendo's and metaphors, some more explicit than a romance novel.

The hubs and I joke that a one night stand could never look like they look on T.V. Sex gets better with communication, and learning about each other. The flopping in bed looking up at the ceiling, not being able to breath (I'm thinking of Big Bang Theory with Penny and Leonard here) is not going to happen when you are dating someone (or married to someone) that you feel a continuous need to impress in order to keep them.

Good sex is going to come when you feel comfortable, and are not self-conscious; naked and vulnerable (both literally and physically) in front of your spouse. The master bedroom should feel like the cool of the evening in the Garden of Eden, "naked and not ashamed." (Genesis 2:25)

That was God's intention for man and wife.

If you ARE having sex outside of marriage. God want's you to stop. Turn from your sin, ask for forgiveness and wait for God's good and perfect timing.

* I want to make sure that it is clear that I do not believe that sexual assault would cause anyone's virginity to be "ruined." It is not something you gave up, it is something that is stolen FROM you. If you have experienced sexual assault, I pray that you have  the courage to tell someone and are getting help, and that you are currently experiencing love and support all around you.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

When God Showed up to My Wedding Part I: Singleness and Idolatry

I'm 31 years old. I was married 3 months ago. 
My first kiss (and first boyfriend) was at the age of 21. 

 I want to encourage single woman who are considered "older" in the Christian culture. When they are reading blogs and books about singleness written by women who agonized over being single through their high school and college years, and were married before they hit their mid 20's ,and who are kindly offering their advice through that time, I don't want to belittle or make light of their attempts of encouragement, but when you get to be in your late 20's, into your 30's it actually begins to have the opposite affect than what your intention is....

It starts to become DIScouraging. 

It's not that I want them to stop writing, I just want them to stop writing about the length of time they've been waiting, and I want to read a book about female singleness that doesn't feel like it was written geared towards high school and college aged young women.

I was 21 when I received my first kiss. 21 before I had my first boyfriend. The late age of my dating experience was not out of choice, but out of my desperate heart and idolatrous longing for  marriage, it started a cycle of dating that lead to my deepest sins, broken before God. 

Strange how your "badness" leads you to God and his goodness.....

I did dating the wrong way. I would date men that showed interest in me, and tried to do everything within my power, short of giving up my virginity to keep them, and inevitably they would leave. 

It was the strangest type of leaving.

Not an, "This isn't working out..." kind of leave. The majority of them just disappeared. 

Selfishness on their part...maybe? 

Idolatry on mine? Yes. 

Mercy from God. Most definitely. 

One of my friends made the connection one day between her miscarriage/infertility and unwanted singleness.

Can I just dispel a rumor for a second? If you are unwillingly single, there is nothing wrong with you.

Not a thing.

You did not choose to be single. Just like women who want to conceive, and can't, you did not make a choice.

Your longing is real, and it is not foolish. The longing was put there by God.

However, be careful that marriage does not become an idol.

"There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus."
Blaise Pascal
You can read my Faith Story *here.* I want to tell you why I was curled up on my floor that long night when I cried out to God. 

I was lying on my floor because once again, after less than five months, a boyfriend had disappeared. It was the strangest thing that always seemed to happen. We were getting along great, I tended to break the "I'm a Virgin" news relatively early to give them a way out....
and then five months or less later....most of them left without a word. No phone calls, no notes, nothing. I don't think I ever thought I would MARRY these guys, at least that conversation only came up once...I wasn't even sure I actually WANTED to get married.

 I felt SO entitled to what wanted, because God wasn't giving it to me fast enough, I decided to play god of my own life.

I gave to dogs what is holy, I cast my pearls before swine. I did not bring my husband good ALL the days of my life.

 I'm not saying that my past boyfriends were bad guys, they just were not ready for what God was making holy.

Then one day I thought I had found "The One," He was a sweet guy who never made an advance that would put me in the way of temptation. We would go on mini day trips to historic places around the area and discover new spots. We would cook together...he was the only guy I had ever dated that I had prayed that God would make him break up with me....but he left anyway.

And God made me holy through every one of those relationships. If I had not been through every disastrous, beautiful mess, I would have not been curled up on the floor in the fetal position that night.

I was left broken. That night I promised God that I would spend a year, in singleness, so that I could spend the time with Him that I had been spending haphazardly dating.

I don't believe that God's ideal for us is to be constantly heart broken. Our fragile heart should only be held by three men; God, your daddy, and your husband. I don't believe that we need "experience" in dating to be a good mate for others. I actually think that the "practice" in dating makes becoming a committed, long term mate harder, because with so many hardened wounds, we become more guarded, less prepared to be vulnerable. 

The nights I would have gone out on a date, I reserved for time with God. I would make a nice meal, turn on worship music, light a candle...and get to know Him better.

Once the year was up, I asked God to lead me in dating. 1 year became 2 years and 2 years became 3 years, I had moved to two different states, and while I had gone on a few "dates" I had not kissed, or engaged in a  committed relationship with anyone. 

It was a very different feeling than the first half of my dating life. I wasn't looking to be fulfilled by anyone else's love for me. My roots began to run deep in the Lord. I would not go out on a date with a non-Christian, and I was growing into a comfortableness with my singleness. 

While the longing in my heart to have a family was still there, the "God Hole" in my heart was being filled with God, instead of with men, and I was content. 

In the meantime I read. I read everything I could get my hands on, not about singleness anymore, but about being a Proverbs 31 woman, and about building a sacred, godly marriage.

My view of marriage began to change. I became convinced that even if I wasn't married to a man, in my commitment that I made to Christ in my baptism, I was a part of the bride of Christ, and as such I needed to figure out what marriage, according to God, was supposed to look like. 

Not having a significant other, allowed God to open up opportunities for me to know Him better, that I would have not have learned as well, or in the way I needed to, had I been yolked with another.

If  "all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28) And what is good for you, is the glory of God, then wherever you are; whether in singleness or "coupleness" or "mamaness," you have been placed there for a reason. You have an area to grow in to become more like Jesus, your situation will ultimately bring glory to the Lord, you will grow closer to the heart of God, and know Him better. 

I know how hard it is to wait on the Lord. "Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!" He has a plan for you "plans for welfare[a]and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11)

If you are single, or infertile, or just feel like you are in a period of waiting and longing. If you are crying in the night for God to hear you....let me reassure you He is listening, and He is hearing. 

Use this time to draw near to him. Cry your heart out. Be vulnerable and open to Him. Tell Him how much it hurts, and how you are angry. Confess your entitlement, and lay your heart, bare before Him.

Tell Him what plagues your heart. He will not give you a stone when you ask for bread, or a snake if you ask for fish. He will give you good things if you ask Him! (Mathew 7:9-11) 

Trust in him at all times, pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge! (Psalm 62:8) Run to your heavenly father with your broken heart. Bury yourself in his arms. Take refuge and heal! 

(Stay tuned for Part II of Inviting God to Your Wedding)

There are a couple GREAT books about singlness out there:

Check out a few of other posts about singleness on my old blog "The (re)Education of the Feminine Soul"
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Monday, February 16, 2015

32 Ways to Celebrate Lent in 2015

God usually leads me to some sort of intentional worship of Him throughout the season of Lent. While what you choose to do is between you and God, and maybe your husband or a close mentor, it's always nice to have some ideas at the ready to consider and pray over. 

Check out my previous post for a little more information about Lent. 

Fasting 40 Days (Fasting and Prayer)

Forty Days for 1,000 Days
Daniel Fast (This actually takes a lot of preparation) 
40 Days on the Makers Diet


40 Days of Prayer for Survivors of Sex Trafficking
Book of Common Prayer
Prayer Walking
Transform your Mornings
Read a Book
9. Devotional
11. Sacred Holidays


12. 40 Days of Worship Music 
13. Write in a Gratitude Journal
14.40 Days of Beauty Treatments to Honor Gods Temple: Your Body


15.40 Days of Community
16. Love 146
17.Habitat for Humanity
18. Give of Your Gifts
19. Give of Your Cooking
20. Give of Your Time

For the Kidinkles

21. Create a Forgiveness and Fresh Start Place
22. Easter Passion Tree
23. Lenten Prayer Garden
24.A Repentance Box
25. Resurrection Tree
26. Hands on Experience of the Resurrection 
27. DIY Resurrection Eggs
28. Kindness Jar
29. An Easter Garden
30. Countdown to Easter
31. Un-Easter Baskets
32. Memory Verses for Kids
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Sunday, February 15, 2015

40 Days: The Passover of the Lamb

God loves celebrations! He loves weddings! He loves holidays! He loves rest!

Jesus celebrated every Festival that God appointed in Leviticus 23.

 I love Lent and Advent, more than the Holidays that they lead up to. I love the stretch of time between "forgetting" and "remembering."

When I was young I was aware that Lent existed, but was not aware that I was inadvertently partaking.

I just knew it was that time when we had mac and cheese and fish sticks....A Lot. But I liked Mac and Cheese and fish sticks....A LOT, so it didn't really dawn on my 10 year old mind that it was Friday and it usually happened right before Easter. 

You see, it was a secret. It was a secret kept for two reasons. 1) I was not allowed to partake in such "Catholic" celebrations as my father, and 2) my dad would repeat "your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."(Mathew 6:18)

I have no idea what my father did all those years during Lent, was never aware what he was choosing to "give up," he did it quietly, in secret, not inconveniencing anyone but himself...

In college, you could smell the fish all over campus during lent. It kind of made me not want to eat fish EVER again...but besides the potent smell of fish, and the posts in the elevator about Mass.....again...there was this quiet stillness about Lent. 

Lent is not a period in time that is dictated in the bible as a celebration, it is a time that falls within the Liturgical calendar that is 40 days before Easter. 

Lent is an acknowledgement of the 40 days that Jesus fasted in the dessert in preparation of his ministry. 

40 days.

40 days and nights that Noah and his family floated in a zoo, the sins of the world washed away in a flood.

The 400 years of slavery the Jews suffered in Egypt, until the night of Passover when the Lord passed over the homes with the doorposts marked with the blood of the lamb. 

The Feast of the Passover; "the day of Unleavened Bread,on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed" (Luke 22:7) the night that Jesus' sweat fell like drops of blood, the night The Lamb was betrayed, given up to death by his disciple, and denied  3 times by his best friend. 

The night before the Messiah was crucified.

The sins of the world washed away in His blood. 

The Passover that the Jews celebrated, that Jesus celebrated...the perfect lamb that was slaughtered, the doors painted red...the blood that flows over us...the Lords judgement that passes over us.

The 40 years that the Israelites wandered the dessert waiting for God to open The Promised Land to them.

And on the 3rd day...

on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. Ex. 19:11

*(on the third day) God raised him * and made him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. Act 10:40-41

As opposed to Advent- the time of longing, the waiting for the King to be born unto us. 

  • Lent is a time of heaviness.
  • A time of preparation for the Passover of the Lord. 
  • A time of denial, but this time of self.  

The beginning of Lent is a celebration of Ash Wednesday, which this year lands on February 18th.

Prepare for the Passover of the Lamb

This Lent,
Deny yourself, and take up your cross, walk with Him to Calvary. 

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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Things I learned about Dating...while dating God. #2

2. Honor your Father and Mother

I don't know that I'm a huge fan of the "courting" concept. Especially when you are out of high school, moving on to college, or a full grown adult, "courting" is not practical, but honoring your father and your mother is.

When I was in grad school, I had a roommate who was from India. As I was embarking on my journey into dating, we would drink tea and discuss our relationship situations. She would tell me about her families concept of arranged marriages, and I would tell her of my crazy current heart longing somewhat for the safety and love that surrounded her future.

Choosing a spouse is (or at least should be) the second greatest decision you make in your whole life. (The first should be your acceptance of Christ as your savior) and at 21 I was not mature enough to handle this one on my own.....but I was too embarrassed of the situation to really allow my parents in on the process.

By the time I was thirty, I decided that was EXACTLY what I needed, and not only did I want my parents in on the process, I wanted my closest friends and mentor in on the process as well. I did not trust myself to not create an idol out of a man, and I knew that people who probably loved me, more than I loved myself, are going to be looking out for me.

I told my future husband that I would not consider him a "boyfriend" and would not be committed to him, until my parents met him. I wasn't too concerned about my parents giving him permission to date me, I just wanted them to be active in my dating life.

The hubs agreed, and went one step further. He said he wanted to confess to my parents his sins, and he wanted to make sure my Dad was okay that we were dating....AND he wanted me to meet his parents.

I was a grown woman, not living at home, but every other Sunday afternoon the hubs would have dinner with me at my parents house.

A couple months later, our parents met each other.

My parents got to know the hubs, and I knew when my father walked me down the aisle that he was completely confident, that the man standing at the altar was going to care for my heart.

Honor your parents in your dating relationship. You belong to three men in your life, God, your daddy, and your husband. If you are not including God and your Dad (and/or your mom) in your relationship with your dating partner, you need to stop what your doing.

Some parents do not feel comfortable "getting involved" with your life, especially your dating life. They might actually need the verbal permission and invitation from you.

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Friday, February 13, 2015

Things I learned about Dating...while dating God. #1

While I was on "sabbatical" from dating, I intentionally took the time out I would have been spending on dates, to spend time with the Lord.

A while back ago a read a book by Rabbi Shmuley called "Dating Secrets of the Ten Commandments"  I think everyone should read it. It's not just about dating, it's about relationships. Relationships with significant others, relationships with spouses, friends, and with God.

Over the next few days I am going to touch on a few pieces of dating advice I learned while spending time alone with God.

#1 Follow the First Commandment.

The Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’  Mark 12:30
and the first four Commandments clarify this: 
1.You shall have no other God's before me
2. You shall not make idols
3. You shall not take the Lords name in Vein.
4. Remember the Sabath day and keep it holy

Above all, keep God the center of everything you do. Pray when you meet someone. Pray before you go on a first date, pray before you go on every date after that, and pray when your date is over. Continuously check in with God. Allow Him to have a say in your dating life. If the person you are dating is not in similar place as you are with God, you need to be very cautious about moving deeper into a relationship. If God is not the center of their life, they will not appreciate the fact that God is the center of yours. 

Our culture insists that our dating partners are to take over our world. Our thoughts, and our plans. If you are the middle of this situation, if your time with God is being pushed to the side because of another person, if you are seeking out someone else's comfort and leaving out God, you have created an idol of another person.

This will ALWAYS lead to heart ache. An imperfect person can not fill the spot in your heart that God was meant to fill. 

God WANTS to be your match maker. The most romantic stories in the bible were orchestrated by God; Adam and Eve, Isaac and Rebecca, Ruth and Boaz...

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Valentines Cupcakes for the Teachers

So I LOVE to cook, and we have potlucks and school all the time....

But I NEVER bring anything...and I feel like a mooch.

So this time, for the "Heart and Soul Potluck" I was going to be ready.

I made the cupcakes ahead of time. I made the frosting ahead of time. I dragged the hubby to two different stores to find heart sprinkles (which I couldn't find) and had these big plans to make the cutest valentines day cupcakes EVER! They were going to look like the ones I found on pinterest. (Follow the next Jump)

And THEN they "postponed" the pot luck!!! WHAT?! I have close to 30 cupcakes ready for to be delivered TOMORROW for hungry teachers and the pot luck is canceled.

I'm bringing them anyway.

I followed this recipe by Bakerella. I was going to decorate them similarly but since the pot luck was canceled I wimped out on the arrows.

A couple changes I made:

I made my icing a little differently to the taste and texture that I like. I added whipped cream and some milk to the mixture once the butter, Cream cheese and Sugar were creamed. The interesting thing about the whipped cream is that it doesn't really water down your icing, but just makes the whole thing richer. I added the milk to water down the icing a bit when I put too much sugar in.

The grocery store was out of buttermilk (when does that happen EVER?!) so I made my own by taking the same amount of milk and adding a bit of lemon juice (or you can use vinegar) to it.

When I'm making cakes I prefer to use cake flour as opposed to all purpose flour. I just think it has a better texture.
I'm not sure why, but the cupcakes took about 10 minutes longer to cook than the reccomended 18 minutes.

I used Russel Stovers Itty Bitty Chocolates. (Russel Stover is my favorite midline chocolates. My FAVORITE chocolates are made by Christopher Elbow)

An then I used pink and read crystal sugar.

A trick to evenly control the sprinkle sugar is to place all of the cupcakes together and then hold the sugar container about a foot or two above them. Then I tap the sugar canister while I move  the container over the cupcakes.

The cupcakes are yummy, but they did not turn out as dark, or red as I thought they would.

*I ate two! I have to save them for tomorrow!!!!*

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Bathtub Worship Playlist

I always want a good playlist I can tap into that someone else came up with when I'm in my bath. So here is one for a romantic evening in the tub with The One who loves you most. :)

To start of your bath!

Followed by Chris Rice's "Living Room Sessions" 

Sit in the tub until the playlist is over, or the water gets cold. 

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Monday, February 9, 2015

When God Showed Up at My Wedding: Series Intro

One of my best friends, Olga called to shoot the breeze. She has barely spoken to me since my wedding, and as much as I used to think that it wasn't appropriate to call anyone after a wedding or a baby for AT LEAST 3 months, I am here to tell you that that is not a necessary gesture. But anyways....

We were talking about my wedding...and I have been far enough removed from it now that I feel like I can begin to write about it. 

I am going to start a series called: "Inviting God to Your Wedding" I will actually start in the dating phase and move on through Engagement, Wedding Planning, the Wedding and the Honeymoon. I will be asking The Hubs to chime in every once in awhile, because, while I was very stubborn, so was he, and he helped out A LOT in the planning and doing process, and had a good amount of say in what was going on.

What I really want to talk about today is a bit of my conversation with Olga. She was telling me that her husband had said that our wedding was the most fun he'd ever had at a wedding. Olga proceeded to tell me that it was so laid back, and it didn't feel forced, and people weren't stressed out...and as she's talking to me....I'm thinking, remembering the weekend, all of the things Olga and the other girls did for me, not asked, but dove in, in the middle of an unforeseen unfortunate/fortunate chain of events. 

You see, the afternoon, evening before my wedding was HORRIBLE. So horrible in fact, that I was over an hour late to our rehearsal dinner, at least thirty minutes of that time spent in the arms of The Hubs bawling my eyes out (the first time he'd ever seen me cry.) 

For ten months I had prayed for God to be a part of our wedding somehow, I had no idea how, but somehow, I wanted Him to show up and love on us, to show us that, He knew He was invited, and he was present. 

And God DID show up! The morning of our wedding, my friend Victoria knocked on the condo door and I fell into her arms with tears in my eyes, and asked her to pray with me, to thank God for how He was showing me love all morning long, as I'm writing this, tears are welling up in my eyes as I contemplate his presence the entire day. 

Most of the time, the unfortunate happens, so that God's glory and love have enough room to be lavishly displayed. In the midst of cakes collapsing, moms snapping, fiance's MIA, wedding coordinators on vacation, or sick etc. etc. etc.....God displayed his AMAZING love, and I want to invite you into my story and extend the invitation to you.

I'll go over practical things like budgeting, and coordinating, as well as spiritual encouragement and blessings through the story of our wedding. :) 

While you're waiting for the first installment, I'll give you a sneak peak!

Photos are taken by Jana Todd at Excellence in Photography

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Ceremoniously Clean

So the other day I suggested you get naked and take a worship bath. I dug through some old blog posts because I knew I had it SOMEWHERE!

And here it is, two years older. It needs a little dusting:

I lay in my mothers lap crying. I didn't want to talk about it. I wanted it to go away. All of it. All the worry, all the stress. Sometimes I wish that the good Lord didn't have a job for me here on earth, and I could just see his face. No more tears. No more pain. 

God bless my mother. She keeps presents burrowed away around the house for birthdays she forgot, or weddings, last minute guests, or gusts children. She brought out a box of lavender bath items, candles, oils, salts. "Lavender is supposed to help you sleep" she suggested, "Why don't you take a bath?" I did-it's almost three in the morning....but I did. 

Bath time is God time for me. A place where GOD seems to meet me in my symbolic and literal nakedness. A place where I'm most vulnerable and open to Him. When I lived in Los Angeles, I didn't have a bath. So I met him in the Garden of a Church. He spoke to me there through the fountain, the trees, the birds and the squirrels. 

In the bath. He speaks to me in the quiet. 

My aunt used to tell me. "Don't cry now. You're only allowed to cry in the shower. You can take as many showers as you want, but you can only cry in the shower."

In a season of my life where I was simply waiting for the Lord. Hearing that this was supposed to be my year of Jubilee.

 I always thought Jubilee was supposed to be celebratory...and relaxing...and intentional....but sometimes, being told to be quiet, be still, and wait...isn't so easy to hear.

A cleansing was what the High Priests were called to do before they entered the Holy of Holy's. Esther spent an entire year in baths and special oils in preparation for the King. We are baptized as a symbolic statement of our covenant with the Lord and His cleansing of our souls. 

Sometimes, as a woman, you need to take that extra hour, and scrub off the dirt, the worry, the tears, the frustration and depression. You need to luxuriate in His presence; in aromas that comfort and relax you. In soaps and cleansers that make you feel beautiful and clean. A gesture of renewal. A reminder that tomorrow is indeed another day. As Anne Shirley says in my favorite novel, "isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?" Your world may not be washed clean, but you can look at it with new eyes. You have hope, and a future.

 "Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" (Mathew 6:26) Our dear Lord asks us.

You are precious. You are loved. Have faith dear sister. The Lord has good work in you. 

Linking Up With Holly Gerth

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What True Love Is

I think it's appropriate to start my blog in February, a time of acknowledgement and celebration of Love. 

by Stephen Ramkissoon

I've been thinking about love a lot lately. As a a newlywed sometimes love can seem so easy, and at other times, it really takes the Holy Spirit to take over my heart to love  The Hubs well.

A while back ago I happened on this blog post,  and I just thought it was SO spot on! It's stuck with me and completely changed my view on marriage, and on how to love well.

Love isn't FOR you. Jesus did not die for us to benefit himself, he died for US. When we are in a relationship for ourselves, we will never find fulfillment in it. When you are intimately involved with a significant other, and your goal is to find pleasure for yourself, you will never reach a point of true intimacy.

It's the times that YOU reach out and give. It's the times that YOU make the phone calls. That YOU do the dirty dishes, that YOU spend the time constructing presents and making dinners and giving up your time and money and thoughts for someone else.

This is the hardest for me when I feel like the Hubs is expecting more of me than he expects of himself. While I'm waiting for him to get home I stomp around the house, completing the extra work I feel like he has unfairly created for me, muttering to myself. Inevitably I will stop in the middle of it all, and if I'm really REALLY mad, I will treat him the same way I feel like he treats me when he wants me to do something, and leave a big pile right in front of his path for when he gets home.

How UNLOVING is THAT?! The silly thing is that when the Hubs does it to me, he's usually not mad at me, and has no intention of creating extra work for me, and I know for a fact that he cleans up after me when I am rushing around in the morning trying to get myself together to go to work, and after I've made a complete mess out of the kitchen preparing dinner. Most of the time, he's actually trying to make my life easier. When God whispers that to me, I stop being all grumpy, complete the task and hand, and give The Hubs a giant kiss when he comes home.

Sometimes when I tell The Hubs I love him, he says, "I know," and I ask him "How do you know?" and he replies, "Because you show me!"

Now, I'm certainly no expert, but in just four months of marriage, I have definitely learned a few things, and most of them are echoed in Gods word. One of them is that this isn't about me, if it was, marriage wouldn't be FOR me. I would have been able to serve myself so much easier without someone else "butting in." But we are here to help each other. I am here to help him, to help make his plans and desires, and dreams come true. To create a space that feels like home for both him and his son. To walk beside him, and to support him when he needs it.

16By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.  1John 3:16-18

What does it look like to lay down your life for someone? To lay down your time and your money, and your desires and priorities for someone else's sake? What are you going to do this Valentines Day, not in words, or in speech, but by doing and truth?

What does it look like to love someone the way God loves them? To "Agape" them? A love of the will, sacrificially, unconditionally, selfless. What does it look like to show someone love even when you aren't feeling it? That's how Christ called us to love not only our husbands, and our children, but our neighbors and our enemies. 

This Valentines Day, forget about the chocolate, and the roses, and the cards you are expecting. What Random Acts of Kindness can you commit that will serve your family, your friends, your coworkers and even strangers? Will you allow God to Love others through you this Valentines Day? 
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Monday, February 2, 2015

14 Ways to Share God's Love this Valentines Day


My sister-in-law and I swapped Valentines Day stories the other day. We were each talking about how stressed our husbands get over presents and the pressure to be romantic. 

As I left my apartment today, on the dry erase board by our door was a little drawing. It said "I <3 you!" With a little arrow going through the heart. 

"I love you too!" I thought with a smile and a skip in my step as I floated my way down the stairs. *sigh*

The hubs is most romantic when he doesn't feel the pressure. 

While I sit planning, and scheming for The Kiddo, and The Hubs, about how I am going to make this "THE BEST VALENTINES DAY EVER!!!!!" The hubs makes my day by drawing me a picture. :)

Last year, I got a giant poster board with foam hearts pasted all over it and "I Love You" written in marker in all different languages. He got over 8,000 calories worth of candy that he ended up giving to his co-workers in the ER. 

While we work so hard to be romantic, and to take out time for our significant others, I think it's the little things throughout the days that really mean something. 

I think that's how God romances us too. In the still, quiet spaces of our lives, he envelopes us with His love in the a glimpse of the sunset, a single flower blooming in a field of nothingness that caught your eye, a cup of hot cocoa sprinkled with cinnamon and rimmed with marshmallows, a desperately needed encouraging note from a friend, little bodies snuggling up against you for an, 'almost not quite there, I just need to be sure of you' moment while reading a book or watching a movie, or a stolen kiss on the shoulder from your husband as he buries his head into your neck, with a muffled "I love you." 

God loves us through these gifts, through the people he has put in our lives, and he loves others through us as well. 

This Valentines Day, forget about the hype, and think about the True Love that flows down on us and through us. Let the love of God flow out of you and spill over onto the people God places in your life every day. 

And so... without further ado... 

And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” (Mark 12:33 ESV)

Neighbor is an interesting concept.

“And who is my neighbor?” 
Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” (Luke 10:29-37 ESV)

Do you even know your neighbors?

Our literal neighbors are probably none to happy with us right now due to The Christmas Tree Incident, and The Early Morning Screaming Kid Fiasco.

1. What would you like this Valentines Day? A Card? Some Chocolates? A flower?  
How can you bless your neighbor with these same gifts this Valentines Day? 

Hatred stirs up strife,
but love covers all offenses. (Proverbs 10:12 ESV)

2.  Is there someone in your life you need to forgive? Is there someone you have held a grudge against, or have not been very kind to. It seems to work, that even though you DO NOT feel very loving, when you commit acts of love, God seems to soften your heart. What can you do this Valentines Day, after you ask God to change your heart, to drop your guard, and do something kind for someone you hold negative feelings against?

3. While your at it, encourage your kidinkles to do the same. You know, when you were a kid addressing Valentines to all the kids in the class, didn't you pick the BEST valentines for your BESTEST friends and leave the ugly ones for the kids you didn't like so much? Wow. How young our hearts turn to sin. :( 

Chances are your kids are thinking the same thing when they are making their cards. Talk to you kids about what the bible says about hate, and loving your enemy, and help them make decisions with their cards that are loving to those that are sometimes hard to love.

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
(1 John 3:16-18 ESV)


As I learn about church history I am amazed that the first century church basically made government programs obsolete because they were doing such a great job of helping those in need! They would go out to the fields and save children left out to die, they would feed the poor, and heal the sick! I'm listing a few ideas here that you can take on yourself leading up to Valentines Day.

4. Donate Blessings Bags to the Homeless
I LOVE FREE PRINTABLES!!!! Check out Mique's printables for this project. She also has a lot of links to ideas to complete this project. Basically, you make up kits with food and necessities for the homeless who stand on the street corners.

5. Donate Night Night Bags to Children in Shelters and Foster Care. 
but you don't even have to go through the program, you can construct them yourself and drop them off and shelters and Agencies.

6. Join Knots of Love and Make Chemo Caps for the Kiddo's or Blankets for Babies in the NICU, drop them off at your nearest Children's Hospital.

7. Join or start initiatives with your church to serve others in need.

Let the Children Come to Me
13Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, 14but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”  Mathew 19:13-14
8. Love on your kidinkles and let them know how much Jesus Loves them. Get out your Jesus Storybook Bible, and read through your favorite bible stories with your kids. (If you don't have one, get one. It's great for adults too! I have it on my nook, the narrator is GREAT! The Kid will listen to the stories in the car when we can't read to him.)
9. I LOOOOVE Kim at Not Consumed. I just LOVE her blog. She's got this great idea for a little valentines Gift Basket for  Kidinkles I'll be doing for The Kid. She has a whole roundup of Scripture based valentines as well. Check it out

I also read a lovely blog recently that has some great ideas written by Kendra 5 Easy Ways to Show Kids Love on Valentines Day
Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: (1 John 2:4-5 ESV)
10. Write God's word in your home. I try to have scripture in every room of the house. We have a picture frame beside the television that we decided to switch out scripture printables every month to help The Kid memorize scripture, and to keep it up. There are plenty of printables and ideas you can find on pinterest. I LOVE this from Amy at Positively Splendid. And we are using this printable beside our television. I really like Missie's Printables at LostBumbleBee.
Let's talk about the Hubs. No pressure here, but Valentines Day isn't just about you. It's about him too, and he doesn't have to make it a win this Valentines Day for you to show him how much you love him!
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!
For your love is better than wine; (Song of Solomon 1:2 ESV)
11. Oh Solomon, you risque man you! (Seriously, when you start to realize what he's talking about it is almost downright embarrassing) We are called to SUBMIT to our our husbands, and THEY are called to LOVE us!  WOW! I find that it is much easier to submit to someone when you love them...but that topic is for another day. Use Valentines Day to love on your husband in your cute girly ways. Leaving him notes in his lunch box, writing messages to him on the mirror, sending him emails and texts throughout the day....
12. and let him know your ready for his kisses in the evening...;) Text him hints throughout the day, and check out the Dating Diva's for great creative ideas for celebrating Valentines Night with your Hubs.
Delight yourself in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4 ESV)
13. Your greatest Valentine is the Love of God. Spend the month of February reading everything that John wrote in the bible. He LOVES to tell you how much God LOVES you. 
14.  Take a bubble bath light some candles, put on some worship music (I perfer to listen to Plumb, Lauren Daigle and Chris Rice) and get naked. I love doing this periodically. There is something about being completely bare, and comfortable in front of God and just spending time worshiping and speaking, and listening. Take time out this Valentines Day to spend time with the one who loves you the most. Let him love on you, and show you how romantic He can be.
The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3:17 ESV)
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