Homemade Fried Rice and New England Style Duck Sauce

My friend, Ruth, had the greatest recipe for fried rice on her website, but the flipgram is now disabled!! (Ruth, we need another tutorial!!) I’ve made her recipe so many times because my kids love Chinese Rice and this recipe is quick, easy, and inexpensive.

fried rice

I’m going to summarize Ruth’s recipe for you the best I can and I think we should peer pressure her into doing another video. Mkay?

Per Ruth’s FB, you need “day old rice, lunch meat, frozen veggies or whatever you have, and eggs.”

I usually cook up jasmine rice the day before and stick it in the fridge for the next day.

To start, I cut up a boneless, skinless chicken breast into small cubes and fry them up in a little oil in my largest non-stick pan. ( I still don’t have a wok!)  When they are almost cooked through, I add green and red peppers and sugar snap peas, cubed, and I fry until slightly softened.

I scramble three eggs and add that into the meat and veggies, making a big scrambled “mess.” I add a little more oil, and then add my cold, day old rice (about 4 cups or so) and fry it until it sizzles a little and browns slightly on the bottom.

When the rice is fried, I added some soy sauce to add color. I just sprinkled it around until I got a nice brown color. Maybe 1/4 to 1/2 cup max for a large pan of rice. I also threw in a few Tbsp brown sugar, 2 Tbsp Sesame oil, and black pepper. Right before it’s done, I add a cup of frozen peas and cover loosely, stirring until they are soft.

This recipe is so easy to tweak. I’ve made it with leftover ham lunch meat that I cut into cubes. (Also, I’ve made it without lunch meat. It does have eggs in it as protein.)

I always serve fried rice with duck sauce. Apparently our area of New England has their own version of duck sauce because the grocery store version is a sicky-sweet-gloppy-orange impostor and is nothing like our restaurants serve. The duck sauce in New England is thin, almost watery, and applesauce based.

It’s easy to make at home for those of you who can’t stand the store bought version.

New England Style Chinese Duck Sauce

In a saucepan, simmer until flavors meld:

1 cup sweetened applesauce (not the kind with cinnamon)

and 1 Tablespoon each: apple cider vinegar, sugar, soy sauce.

That’s it! Enjoy.

 

Seeking Friendship {Ministry Wives Edition}

For the next few posts I’ll be answering a few ministry related questions I’ve received over the last few months. Hopefully, by reading someone else’s perspective, it’ll help you make sense of your situation. I know every ministry situation is different and has its own nuances. Please feel free to take what helps and leave what doesn’t. Okay, then?

friendship

I frequently get asked about friendships in ministry–specifically the lack of forming close friendships in your own congregation.

It’s no secret that friendships in ministry can be tricky.

No matter where you serve,

whether full-time, part-time, or layman, missionary, youth pastor’s wife, musician, or church planter’s wife, we all need someone to love us enough to speak truth into our lives. But we all know that sometimes transparency backfires in a leadership position. This is certainly the ministry wife’s catch-22.

“Blessed are they who expect nothing for they shall not be disappointed.” Although this saying from Rachel Lynde is laughable, there’s wisdom in realizing that we are all just people walking through various stages of life at different stages of sanctification. Since we are flawed people serving with other flawed people, wisdom is necessary when sharing our heart.

You don’t share your heart with someone who gossips about others.

You don’t share your heart to someone who is critical or outspoken about every little thing.

And repeat after me:”Transparency is not spilling your gut and sharing every thought. That’s venting.”

You simply don’t share with people who have proved themselves untrustworthy.

  • I know of one friend who was co-laboring with another couple and who shared some deep troubles they were having in their marriage, desperate for help, and they were basically disciplined out of the church after a slow death of the relationship, and told they would not be recommended for another ministry because of their marriage issues. (For the record, their marriage is thriving.)
  • In another instance, a ministry friend was punished by a bitter pastor’s wife after sharing concerns about ministry practice to her.
  • In yet another instance, a pastor’s wife and family were raked over the coals for asking, through a broken heart, for prayer for a struggling teen.

So what do you do about forming close friendships as a ministry wife?

Well, the Lord initiates friendship with us and the Bible warns about how vulnerable the “loner” is, and how there is strength in numbers, so we know avoiding friendship is not the answer.

The pat answer seems to be to have friends in other ministries because sometimes you do need to “talk shop.”

There’s a problem with this, though. Friends in other ministries don’t know our “blind spots” and we’re certainly not going to tell them because–wait for it–we are completely blind to them, so our version of the “truth” might be skewed and we might not get the help we need.

And God does PUT us with people to humble us and chisel away our ungodly characteristics, so total avoidance is really short changing yourself.

Here are a few things I’ve learned in my limited experience:

Be in your Bible.  God’s word is there to convict you and change you. Go into each reading assuming that God wants to humble you in some area. Then read to change. God also offers you friendship and only when you love God supremely will you actually have the ability to love others well, warts and all.

Know your church culture. If you’re in a church culture where truth is valued and transparency is safe, then by all means, feel free to share with your fellow leadership wives or trusted friends. If you’re not sure about the culture, listen, listen, listen to the way people talk about others when they fail. You can tell a lot about the humility of a leader by how well or ill they speak of others.

Accept what God gives you. You might really want a close friend and deep conversations but God keeps giving you younger moms who are really needy for advice and play dates. God always gives us what we need. He promises to. Perhaps our desire is stronger than it should be and God wants us to serve others at a play date at the park or beach.

Keep friendship in perspective. We sometimes imagine that there is that one person out there who will always be there for us, be completely loyal, never let us down, always know just what to say. There is only one person who can do all this and it’s God. That kind of pressure on any friend will kill it from the start. Friendships are good gifts, but not the ultimate thing: God is!

Pray for a wise woman. She doesn’t have to be in your congregation, but pray for an older woman to talk to. You don’t have to bear your soul. You might just really listen and learn as she talks about God’s faithfulness through years of marriage and child raising and widowhood.

Look for a woman who has these qualities:

  1. She doesn’t feel the need to gossip to gain acceptance or to seem like she’s in the know. This quality assures you she’ll keep your confidence.
  2. She speaks well of others.
  3. She’s self-controlled in her life and emotions.
  4. She’s Word-filled. Enough said.
  5. She’s faithful. Her yes means yes and her no means no.

Realize that God appoints your place and time and makes no mistakes. You don’t have to be best friends with someone in order to work with them. Your personalities don’t even have to mesh. Because in the end, love for God will smooth the way.

 I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord.

Notice that Paul doesn’t give relationship strategies or personality profiles to help fix whatever was troubling Euodia and Synthche, two New Testament women who seemed to clash. He tells them to recognize their place “in the Lord.” He emphasizes their mutual submission to the Lord. He was saying, “Hey, girls, it’s not all about you! It’s all about the Lord!”

Realizing that we are “in the Lord” does eliminate any temptation for one-upmanship or insisting on your own way. This brings humility. Serving in unity rises and falls on our willingness to see ourselves in Him.

Initiate friendships. If God brings someone to mind, you initiate. If you’re lonely, they might be, too. Make the first call. Invite them over. Ask to meet for coffee. Contact them online. Tell them you’d like to get to know them better. This is always a blessing.

Don’t demand that friendship look a certain way. Maybe for a season, your friendships will be with older women or with women walking through a sorrowful season. You be the friend that you’d want to have.

Don’t waste your loneliness. Read good books. Do an online Bible study. Encourage others. Visit a nursing home. Babysit for a younger mom. When one of my girls struggled with loneliness in her teens, I told her that maybe God was preparing her to depend heavily on Him for some mission work in her future or season of isolation.

“Be not weary in well doing. For in due season, you will reap if you faint not.”

I’ve learned that God uses every trial to direct and lead me. When I’ve lacked close friendship, He’s used unpleasant circumstances to lead me to the people and the opportunities where He wants me to minister. And in obedience and joy, there’s so much hopeful anticipation about what God is doing and how He’ll provide for each of our needs, just like He’s promised He will.

 

 

 

 

Grace for the Mom Who Isn’t Enough

Wipe the counters. Empty the trash. Vacuum the rug. Make the coffee. Wash the cups. Fill the dishwasher. Empty the dishwasher. Change the laundry. Pick up Cheerios. Pick up Legos. Swiffer the floor. Change the diaper. Answer the phone. Fill the sippy cup. Check the mail. Write the check. Fold the laundry. Brush the teeth. Feed the cat.

Dizzying, this mother-life. Constant. Always moving, never seemingly making progress.

grace

Nothing will hit you with the stark reality that you are not enough like motherhood will. You quickly realize that you don’t have enough of anything–energy, time, organizational skills, wit, wisdom, patience, or maternal instinct– to parent these kids like you dreamed you would.

Our suspicions seem to be confirmed when we check social media and notice that our friend’s kids are wearing matching outfits and hairbows and they’re all “off” to ballet lessons. You notice your smiling friend seems to have the Kate Middleton blowout, and she’s clutching her coffee in neatly-manicured-hands.

And with every click, we are measuring ourselves and mentally keeping track of our deficiencies.

Click. Oh, she’s on a missions trip with her kids! Wow.

Click. Oh wow, they’re on vacation at that beautiful resort.

Click. What a sweet husband she has. He’s always sending her flowers and wisking her off for dinner. 

Click. Look at how amazing her decorating is. That house looks like it should be in a magazine!

Click. Oh, look at her surrounded by all her friends. They always have so much fun. I wish I had just one close friend like that.

Doesn’t social media feed the notion that everyone’s enough but you?

I had a day like this recently. I was going on day three of barely any sleep because my little guy was suddenly crying at night and needed to be rocked. I was also fighting sickness.

I pulled myself out of bed earlier than normal because my to-do list was long, poured myself an extra-large cup of coffee, plopped down on the couch and admitted to God, “Well, here I am. Completely overwhelmed before the day even begins, exhausted, moody, and ridiculous, but here for whatever I can get today.”

grace 1

I’ll admit to you right now that my flesh hates to come to God. I hate to admit that I’m needy. I feel like a beggar and who wants that? I want to be like my friends in the pictures who have it all together! But I’ve learned that my feelings are rarely truth. God tells us to come. He implores us to come! Because he wants to satisfy. He tells us to come with nothing in hand and be filled.

I love this paraphrase/commentary of Matt. 11:28-30

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (MSG)

Bleary eyed and half-heartedly I read:

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

God’s power made perfect in the midst of my weakness.

Yes, please. That’s what I need.

When I agree with the Bible and admit that self-dependence is NOT a Christian virtue, nor the trait of a Spirit controlled woman, I can embrace these truths when I am depleted that give me hope:

I am never left to fend for myself and I am not parenting these kids alone.

God gives me exactly what I need in the moment. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want/lack.” He takes care of every one of my needs.

I do not need to conjure up the strength to do this thing right. I have God’s strength to cover my weakness.

God promises grace for today. I don’t need to worry about the tomorrows, because God doesn’t dole out grace for all.of.the.things I could ever worry about tomorrow. He deals in today.

No matter what I feel, God called me to parent these kids. This wasn’t a freak lottery. God is sovereign and in His wisdom, you are “it”, dear mother! Yes, you have inadequacies like we all do. Yes, you’ll struggle with issues your friends may seem to conquer with ease. But God does not call you to do something that He doesn’t equip you to do. While parenting is hard, we are not left comfortless. We have the Holy Spirit to cheer and guide our daily work.

My life doesn’t have to look like my friend’s life. God called me to this. He ordained my place and time. He wants me to rejoice and live it out!

Could it be that weakness is a gift? On those days when we are most aware of our own frailty and feel like a failure before we begin,

on the days when we are most vulnerable, is it then in those moments that Christ can work in us and through us in visible ways by the power of His might?

And isn’t it when we are the frailest that we’re also hyper-aware of His work in us and through us and we’re most prone to thank Him and give Him the glory?

So instead of beating yourself up for having limitations or for lacking ability, let’s give thanks for anything that causes us to press in to God and to rest in His sufficiency.

What is lacking in your life? Could it be that God will use that deficiency to keep you close to Him? Praise Him for it and rest in Him.

My Latest Stitch Fix {Which Led to the Salvation Army Fix}

Today I’m sharing what was in my latest Stitch Fix box.

I needed a few items for an upcoming trip and decided to give Stitch Fix another whirl, which is easier than shopping for clothes with a toddler.

I made the video below and I apologize for the quality in advance. I guess I didn’t save it in HD. Anyway, I tell you about the pieces and then my plan B which was a trip to the Salvation Army.

If you are new to Stitch Fix, it’s basically a styling company that sends you items based on a thorough style guide profile that you create.

Liked this but didn’t love it.

IMG_0416.JPG

At $68, I wasn’t sure this front would look flattering if the flaps weren’t just so.

From my limited experience, here are some of the pros and cons:

Pros:

  • You don’t have to shop.
  • A stylist picks out items you might not have chosen for yourself. (sometimes we get into a rut or stuck in an era!)
  • You can pick your modesty level from “flaunt it” to “cover it” for every area of your body.
  • You can choose what you want to spend from least expensive to most expensive. Great for those of us on a budget.
  • If you refer a friend and they sign up, you get a credit towards Stitch Fix items. I had some credit, which is why I decided to do this before our trip.
  • The stylists really do read your comments and are super helpful. It’s like having a life coach for style.

Cons:

  • If you don’t like anything in your box, you pay a $20 styling fee anyway which seems risky. If you keep any items, the styling fee goes toward your items.
  • Even after choosing the “least expensive” option my items seem to land around $48 a piece which is more than I want to spend per piece.

In the end, I am sending everything back. Here’s why: The necklace was $46 which was too much and not my style. The blue and white striped shirt ($48) was a little too baggy and not very flattering on, although I loved the pattern. The green cargo shorts were just too short. I do love the color and will probably find a pair that color elsewhere for the trip. They were $58! I’m too cheap to spend that on any shorts. The jean shorts were nothing special and had rips, which isn’t my thing. The grey asymmetrical cardigan was the most gorgeous cotton and if I were going to pick one thing to keep, it would have been that. I didn’t keep it because I was afraid that the front would just look messy if it wasn’t folded just right. Here’s the video. I look exhausted and in fact, I actually am. 😉

 

You’ll see in the video what I decided to do instead. Emily and I hit the Salvation Army 50% off sale and found pants to hem for shorts. They were each $2.50 each. (A red pair and a navy mattress ticking pair.) I found an accent piece for a dinner we need to go to at Ocean State Job Lot for $2. Maybe the real lesson I need to learn is that I am too cheap for Stitch Fix! lol

I am going to try it one more time, this time with my Pinterest board connected with my account!

What do you think? Have you tried Stitch Fix and had better luck than I had?

Let me know in the comments.

 

 

 

We don’t need Valentine’s Day to show us how needy/clingy we are.

We don’t need Valentine’s Day to show us how needy and clingy we can be. All we need is a day when we feel lonely, overlooked, pushed aside, or under appreciated, and the inner rumblings of our hearts and mind reveal that we’re looking for love in all the wrong places.

needy

We look to people to fill the heart needs that can only EVER be met in a relationship with God.

But we ask people to be things they can never be to us and make these impossible demands on flawed, human people.

Did you ever expect your husband to do more than he did and feel disappointed and unloved when he didn’t?

Or a friend? Ever expect a friend to always be there for you? Always support you, say the right things, do the right things, remember special days, keep up with you?

We ask people to meet needs that only God can ever meet, and we are frustrated when they don’t deliver.

Whenever we are in despair over a failed relationship, or find ourselves feeling hopeless when people don’t love us the way they should, we’ve allowed these things to morph our small g-gods.

“Whatever you cling to or confide in, that is really your god.” Martin Luther

To whom do you cling to? When things get tough, do you head for the phone? A gallon of ice cream? Sleep? Hours of TV? Shopping?

What are you banking on for happiness? Respect, kindness, great relationships? A fulfilling career? A doting husband?

Where do you place your hope? What elates you? Excites you? Makes you want to spring out of bed in the morning when you have it?

These needs are supposed to be found in Christ. In Him we have all the things we ever looked for in a friend or husband:

  • a best friend,
  • someone to listen to us,
  • someone to be there for us,
  • someone to love us unconditionally,
  • someone to be faithful to us.

Knowing this lets our friends, husband, family, and expectations off of our happiness-hook. It allows them to be human. It allows us to accept their limits. And it helps us to see the Awesomeness of Christ.

Valentine’s Day is simply a catalyst that exposes that in our heart of hearts, we need Jesus.

But we aren’t quick learners, are we? We tend to straddle the fence between God and other “lovers”: career, perfect children, romance, a Pinterest home, a perfect body, experiences, food, drink, fun, best friends, fulfilling work, respect.  When they fail us and leave us disappointed and disillusioned, we move back towards the God-side of the fence.

Straddling is no way to live. God wants your heart. All of it. And He is jealous for it. He wants you and I to love Him first and best and most. 

Let’s stop with the spiritual adultery and idolatry. Let’s call out and dethrone any idols that challenge the Lordship of Christ in our life.

Still not sure where your idols are lurking? Here’s the surefire way to know: How do you react when it’s taken from you or withheld? What gets an unrighteous rise out of you?

  • When your husband is unloving and you believe you deserve love, do you go all.the.crazy? A loving husband, though a good gift from God, has morphed into an idol for you. Something you believe you can’t live without.
  • When your “supposed” friend says hurtful things, do you find yourself self devastated or holding a grudge? Trying to hurt them in return? An understanding friend has become your idol. God calls us to love anyway, and when He is our God, we’ll do this whether they deserve it or not.
  • When your co-worker gets recognition you desired, do you sulk and envy? Respect and self-love are your idols.
  • When a friend gets an opportunity or an honor you wished you had been given, do you resent her and belittle it? Honor is an idol for you. God calls you to rejoice with those who rejoice and to refrain from envy, and if He is your God, you’ll happily obey.
  • When God answers someone’s prayers for good, can you rejoice with them when you’ve been praying for the same thing and God seems to be withholding it from you? That
    “prayer request” has become a demand and an idol.

 

Let’s let God be God and fill our hearts with the abundant love He’s offered. Let’s let our husband (and friends and positions) be put into proper perspective. They are blessings from God that we can enjoy. They are wonderful gifts but not rights. We are free to love them because we don’t expect them to bring happiness that only God provides. We can thank God when we have them, and praise Him– that He’s our all in all– when we don’t.

What about you? Is your happiness dependent on people or circumstances? Have you determined to seek God first to put Him in proper perspective?  Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments or on FB. 

The Grace Table

Today I want to talk about one of my favorite topics, hospitality, and the concept of stewarding our homes as grace-giving spaces where others find favor and kindness under our roof (or in our presence) whether they deserve it or not. I want us to envision our kitchen tables as little hospitals, thus hospitality, dispensing grace like medicine to anyone God sends our way.

table

I know that concept of hospitality can trigger stress. I know that. We immediately begin comparing and think of Martha Stewart. Though hospitality does include meeting the needs of others through work in a physical way, I want to assure you that a hospitable spirit is not something that we conjure up on our own. Rather, it’s the result of and the out-flowing of the unmerited gift of God’s abundant grace towards us. The word grace comes from the Greek charis, hence your kitchen table can become the grace table— the chari-table place for many acts of worship and service.

Here’s how it works: 

God —->freely gives us His unmerited grace—->we receive grace—->we respond to that grace—-> by freely give grace to others.

Grace begets grace.

I found it interesting in my study that another word stems from the Greek word for grace (charis)–the word gratitude. Have you ever noticed that the more alive to grace you are, the more humble you become and the more gratitude becomes your norm?

How can you do anything but PRAISE when you deserve death and hell by choice and action and instead get joint-heir status with the perfect, beloved Son of God? Completely justified. Just as if I’d never sinned. Just as if I’d always obeyed. Mind blowing and praise producing (gratitude!!) all wrapped up in one.

And when we forget what God has done, when we forget that we were the debtor who needed forgiveness, we set out to make our debtors pay. We set out to punish. We are blind, forgetting what kind of person we were. Complaining follows because ingratitude is always the response of someone who thinks they deserve more than they were doled out.

As Christians, God’s grace transforms our hearts, which transforms our speech, which gives us something worthwhile to say–words of gratitude to God– thanksgiving, praise, and glory-words that point others straight to Christ.

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.” Hebrews 13:15

The sacrifice of thanksgiving—gratitude—the fruit of our lips.

Obviously, we are not under the Old Testament law, but this is a reference back to the OT sacrificial system, to what were known as “thank offerings”–purely voluntary offerings that could be made to show your heart felt gratitude for all the Lord has done in our lives. And this is what our praise is–voluntary acknowledgement of our great God.

Are you looking for opportunities to serve? Have you considered that you can become a conduits by which God’s grace flows through you to others who:

  • desperately need to see His goodness in an unkind world
  • don’t necessarily deserve or want our favor
  • oppose us
  • despite-fully use us
  • are unlovely and overlooked

Do you see people as sinners made in the image of God? Or do you judge them and categorize them, putting yourself on a little pedestal as you look down your nose at this different breed of sinner than you?

Do you see that heroine addict as a person made in the image of God who doesn’t know His love yet? Someone you might reach?

How about that homeless person? Do you assume all the worst about why he is where he is, or do you try to love him into the Kingdom of God, leading him by the hand?

As women, we have the unique opportunity to speak truth into the lives of other women who need hope and help. This can’t be done if God’s grace is not pulsing through your own spirit.

Our homes can have an impact, and they are one of the most underutilized tools in evangelism today. Invite someone in today.

If you have a kitchen table, or a coffee table, or a dorm room for that matter, I want to encourage you to use these things for the sake of the gospel. Your home can be a little chari-table spot, a bright light in this dark world where you can make a difference for Christ.

How the Abundance Mindset Transforms our Relationships

There’s a relationship between how we act when we have an abundance of something and how we behave when it is scarce.

When we have abundance, we think nothing of giving away because we know that we’ll never lack. The opposite is true when a commodity is scarce.

fruit

My dad is a cranberry grower and each year we have an abundance of cranberries to give away in November. We happily share bags and bags and more bags of fresh cranberries because we know that we have so much.

I was watching my 2 year old toddler the other day and we gave him five m&m’s. He gobbled them up and then asked for more. I gave him a few more, then asked if I could have one. He looked at me, smiled big because he knew I was kidding, and quickly gobbled them up because he only had five and he knew I was holding the whole bag. He knew I didn’t need anything from him–I had an abundance.

You guys, when it comes to spiritual things, we are holding the whole bag. In Christ, we have all that we need. But only when we focus on the abundance that is ours and set our minds on things above are we able and willing to give to others.

Conversely, if we haven’t been in connection with God, or question His love for us, when we believe He’s overlooked us or short-changed us, or that He can’t be trusted—-when we believe the lie that His resources are scarce and we are lacking, we will become self-serving, grasping Christians.

Our ability and willingness to do good to others is in direct proportion to our relationship with and our knowledge of Christ –however abundant or scarce.

If we are constantly receiving and focusing on the goodness, grace, forgiveness, encouragement, and love that is “lavishly” given to us from God, we’ll be more apt to freely and joyfully pass that along to others.

If we believe that God’s love for us is sparse, our love for others will be in proportion to that belief. We’ll hoard for ourselves. We’ll look to other to supply our needs and give, give, give to us and we’ll be angry when they don’t.

The woman who is a grudge holder, doesn’t realize that she’s been forgiven much and won’t forgive others.  She holds on with clenched fists to her rights and nurses the wrongs from others. The woman who knows the God that forgives her abundantly will be free to walk in obedience and give out forgiveness. She lives “hands open.”

The woman who believes that God can’t be trusted to meet her needs becomes a control freak and goes into self-preservation mode. The woman who believes that God can be trusted to meet her needs generously gives and doesn’t worry about supply. God will provide for her, so she’ll happily give to others whatever they need–resources, honor, recognition, time, encouragement. Hoarding for herself doesn’t come into play because she believes she’ll never lack. “The Lord is my Shepherd, He’ll take care of every one of my needs.”

Bottom line:

We will love more, serve more, forgive more, be kinder, more generous, more patient, more forbearing when we realize how much God has given to us in these very areas…and how much He is still giving to us…and how He’ll always provide these things to us.

I once had a Christian woman tell me off and basically say that because of a series of events, our relationship was over. The end. Final. I realize that she was just angry and spouting, but I honestly felt such pity for this woman because she was showing by her words that she’d never experienced the love, forgiveness, or grace of God in her life in a way that changed her. She was still in “famine” mode when it came to the love of God, and she was dealing with others in a scarcity mindset.

Maybe you don’t realize all that you have in Christ today. I’d encourage you to read Ephesians 1  today if you are in this boat.

God tells us that His riches are not handed out stingily, but LAVISHLY. In Christ you are

  • blessed (1:3)
  • chosen (1:3)
  • adopted into God’s family as a son/heir (1:5)
  • redeemed by the precious blood of Christ (1:7)
  • forgiven of all my sin (1:7)
  • lavishly given God’s grace (1:8)
  • sealed and secure through the Holy Spirit (1:13, 14)

 

To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;” Eph. 1:6-8

Now, God’s abundant love transforms our relationships with all people and frees us to give them good whether they reciprocate or not. We don’t need payment from them–God’s holding all that we need. He’s never stingy. This frees us up to go and do likewise!

What about you? Do you notice a correlation between knowing God’s love for you and your ability to love others with no strings attached? Are you able to honor others without worrying about recognition in return? Share your thoughts in the comments.

The sky is falling, the world is horrible, and GASP, your Facebook “friends” are frauds.

Oh my goodness. As it turns out, this world is really more horrible than once thought.

A new study circulating the internet shows that your FACEBOOK FRIENDS ARE ALL A BUNCH OF FRAUDS AND COULD NOT CARE A STITCH ABOUT YOU.

“Facebook Friends Are Fake, Study Finds.”<—You can read all the depressing but true details here.

Here we all were, accepting friends requests like drunken sailors and now it turns out that ALL these people don’t care about us.

You have no friends. Just four. Probably five if you count your own mother. Six if you count great Aunt Gertrude.

And don’t even think about considering your PETS as friends, because, WHATEVER.

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Honestly, how could we have been so dumb? It’s like we got on this social train of an experiment and we were all duped into thinking that our third grade playmate really had an ounce of affection for us, but turns out, in crisis, she could care less. And if you wouldn’t ask your book club members to, say, pick up a prescription or drive you to the hospital or airport, then, you fool, THEY WERE NEVER YOUR TRUE FRIENDS. Awesome.

Okay. Let’s just tinder down a minute and think about friends.

I can promise you that, unless you are friend-ing absolute demons on FB, that your friends DO care about you and WOULD help you IF YOU ASKED THEM.

Here’s the thing. Just because we have different levels of friendship doesn’t mean that they don’t care. And because I wouldn’t inconvenience you by asking you to drive me to the airport unless you were my parent or sister, doesn’t mean that we aren’t friends.

Let’s define friend, shall we?

  • a person who you like and enjoy being with.

  •  a person who helps or supports someone or something (such as a cause or charity)

  • a favored companion

Now then, we have all kinds of friends: neighbors, acquaintances, our church congregation, people who work on projects or ministries together, our kid’s friend’s parents, our kid’s friends, people we know from town, people in support groups for illness or homeschooling. Maybe we are separated by an ocean, and we really don’t have the chance to get together, but that doesn’t mean you don’t care about me. Maybe our stage of life keeps us from meeting up more than we do, but that doesn’t mean I assume you aren’t really my friend.

In fact, I know that if money was no limit, I would FLY to visit many of my friends, because I value our friendship and wish we could spend more time together.

But there’s this thing called common sense that says that I call my mother for help before I call my neighbor, no matter how friendly we might be. And, actually Dunbar’s observations make absolute sense:

  • my “closest friends” (which are usually family) number about 5.
  • the people I could/would confide in for sympathy/help when I need it is about 15.
  • the people I would invite to a dinner party at my house numbers about 50.

But this doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t LOVE and totally enjoy going out for coffee with any of my Facebook friends. If you are really a demon, I’m not going to friend you in the first place. And just because I wouldn’t ask you to pick up my anti-nausea meds at the pharmacy for me, doesn’t mean that we aren’t real friends or that I don’t care about you.

If you believe that your FB friends are not really your friends, then they probably aren’t. Know–this is not a reflection on them, though. It’s more about friendship being a two way street.

For the rest of us, we choose to believe the best about others.

And, for the record,  if we are friends on Facebook, however casually, and you DID need me to help you, if I could, I absolutely would.

And I choose to believe the same about you, too, friend.

 

 

 

 

3 Ways to GROW this year.

Want to have the best year spiritually? Do you want to experience unprecedented growth and fruitfulness?

Did you know that the Spirit enables us to grow when we not only do the right things (obey) but we avoid doing the wrong things. (saying NO to what is forbidden.)

Here are three attitudes/actions that will help you as you seek to grow as a Christian woman this year.

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In order to grow and thrive, you’ll need to be:

Submissive vs. Self Willed. This seems obvious, but sometimes we forget. A submissive spirit doesn’t have a will of it’s own, but places itself under the will of another. A “servant” mindset follows where God leads, serves as God provides opportunity, and says “Yes, Lord” when the Spirit tells you that something needs to change and go. A self-willed Christian has her own agenda. A self-willed Christian is an oxymoron–Jesus is Lord of our life or He is not. Whenever you demand your rights, resist serving in a “lowly” capacity, or seek to strong arm positions of leadership and authority for yourself, you’re headed the wrong way. Choose submission.

Side note: one of the best ways to know where you are not submissive is to ask yourself, “What am I hiding from people? What don’t I want them to know I am doing?” We usually try to cover up our sin and since we all have a conscience, we know what we are doing is wrong. For instance, your child sitting in the corner hiding the fact that they are eating cookies before dinner. Or the woman who is flirting with a married man who goes out of her way to run into him and lies about bumping into him yet again. Or the teen who is texting inappropriate things, so they hide their phone so nobody knows. WE know the right things to do–the question is—will we do them or not? Will we submit to God’s ways or go our own?

Teachable vs. Stubborn.  Obeying God’s Word is not optional. Have you ever known the right thing to do and chose to do the exact opposite? I have. Obviously, choosing God’s way is much more conducive to Christian growth. A teachable woman is pliable and will change behavior and attitudes to please and obey the Lord.

The opposite is not a pretty sight. Have you ever seen a “stiff necked” person who literally looks as straight and stiff and unmovable that it oozed out of her persona? A “stiff necked” people resists changing when God prompts. (rebellious because their heart is bent on something else.) A teachable woman puts self aside and embraces the path of holiness that God ordained for her.

Led vs Leading.

Even in you are in a position of leadership somewhere: the home, the work place, or church, you are never really leading. As Christian women, we are to be professional followers of Christ.

We want to make sure we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us. We never want to take the “bull by the horns” and run our own little show because the Bible teaches that we should be led by God.

I’ve seen this over and over again and it never ends pretty. A woman domineers. She insists on her own way. The people who usually speak into her life know that trying to speak reason to her is pretty much futile, so they let her learn the hard way.

If you are in ministry, this is the surest way to ruin your effectiveness because God’s not on board with your agenda. He’s got His own.

If you are led by the Spirit, your interactions will be peaceful and peace-filled because all of that icky flesh stuff is not lurking underneath. You’ll have opportunities that come to you and you’ll know they were God given. You’ll have people to serve and you’ll know that God sent them or brought them to mind. You won’t have to try to orchestrate your own parade because the Lord has already gone before you.

These three traits will give you the mindset that allows you to see God as Sovereign in all things, to submit to His Word and will, and to put your eyes on Him as you walk through this life.

How about you? Are you struggling with any of these attitudes or actions? What do you need to do to re-calibrate and get on the right course?

 

 

Book Giveaway: The Life Giving Home!!!

UPDATE: THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW OVER AND THE WINNERS ARE DEBBIE S AND JENNY M!

I’m super excited to be able to offer a copy of Sally Clarkson’s newest book, the Life Giving Home, to TWO Joy-filled Days readers, courtesy of Tyndale House publishers!

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Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

“One of the first obstacles I find in presenting the vision for the importance of home is the almost unconscious assumption on the part of many modern people that home is inherently a sentimental notion and that beauty is peripheral to spiritual formation. We discount our own homesickness as a form of weakness. We marginalize the beautiful. We dismiss the aesthetic as second class. WE think of beautiful spaces and comforting traditions as spiritually unnecessary and underestimate the profound importance of a safe place for growing minds and souls.” Sarah Clarkson, pg 15,16

“We must understand homemaking not as a retreat from the fallen world, not as a retrenchment from culture, but as a profound engagement with it. ” Sarah Clarkson, pg 17

No matter what has transpired throughout the day, we can close it by speaking to our children’s hearts with something like, “I love you no matter what. Please forgive me for my impatience today” or “I forgive you for your disobedience today” or “You are very precious to me. I am blessed to have you.” pg 56

“So often we get caught up in the immediate things, the practical tasks–getting the housework done, doing our jobs, checking homework, paying bills, disciplining our children. yet it is the emotional and spiritual atmosphere our children and friends breathe–the way we treat people, the foundations of the grace we live by, that will attach their hearts to ours and ultimately to God.” pg 65

“Even as an orchestra needs a conductor to choose the music, lead rehearsals, and unite all of the instruments into a harmonious sound, so every home needs someone to conduct what I call the life music of home–its atmosphere.” pg 24

To enter, use the form below and either follow us on Instagram, share on Facebook, or comment below. Easy. <3

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