Many of us are familiar with the account in all four gospels when Peter denied Jesus 3 times (Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, and John 18). Tensions were high surrounding Jesus and he was giving his friends a play-by-play from the future like only God can.

Jesus said, “Tonight all of you will desert me.”  Hmmm.  That must have been more than a little awkward to say and to hear.  Peter was none too pleased with this accusation though.  Jesus was dead wrong about this.  That would never happen.  “I will never deny you!” was Peter’s impassioned reply.

What a fantastic gift though!  I would really love a heads up minutes before I make a mess of things.  Jesus wasn’t vague.  He didn’t speak in parables.  He included some serious details.  He mentioned the number of times Peter would deny him.  He even went so far as to describe which animal Peter would hear after all the denying.

Ah, Peter.  He was chronically popping off, his impassioned intentions yielding less than satisfactory results.  If I were Peter I would have rounded up the village roosters and put them outside the city gates. Next, I would have high-tailed it away from people and hid in a closet.  Whew.  Now I can’t possibly deny Jesus.

This, by the way, would be the car I would have used to gather said roosters:

The disciple was so confident he wouldn’t deny Jesus, however, that he didn’t need to hide.  Because I know myself, hiding would have been my entire plan. Now, I would never set out to deny Him, but I know it’s conceivable given the right circumstances.

At church our pastor said something got me thinking.  He said, “The enemy isn’t trying to get you to renounce Christ, He’s trying to get you to act like you don’t know Him.”

My opportunities to deny Jesus don’t take place on just one night like in the example of Peter.  They can occur at any time of day.  Even on weekends or holidays!  This paradigm shift makes my hiding plan no longer feasible as I will eventually have to be around other humans.  I’ve mentioned it before but I would still like to get rid of roosters.

What my pastor said gives me great pause.  It prompts me to shine lights on areas of my life I don’t typically consider as possible points of denial.  Do I act like I know Him in the tone of voice I use with my children?  Is it apparent that I know Him in the way I spend my free time, the things I buy, the topics of conversation I choose, the things my mind ponders?  Our lives are composed of our choices.  Maybe we don’t outright deny him in public but do we slyly ignore him and push him out of areas we’ve deemed “too personal” or where we’ve decided He’s irrelevant?

You guys, let’s be intentional about not acting like we don’t know Jesus (accidentally or otherwise) in the choices we make today.  He will show up.  He promised.  1 Thess 5:24 “God will make it happen, for He who calls you is faithful.”

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In the 1990′s Sandra and Harry taught us that Hope floated.  

You can imagine my surprise, then, when I read in Hebrews 6 that hope is actually an anchor.  At first glance, it seems like a contradiction.  I don’t know about you, but when I am feeling particularly hopeful I would describe it in words more like floating and less like laying-on-the-bottom-of-the-ocean.

How on earth is hope like an anchor?  I did what any reasonable human would do and busied myself in anchor research.  What?  Not everyone would do that?

 

Anchor Anatomy 101

Welcome class.  The first anchors were simply rocks or lead-laden logs.  They worked well with small boats but, as boats got larger and heavier, anchors needed a way to dig into the ocean floor.  The flukes were the solution to this issue but they only worked if the anchor fell juuust right.  If a fluke didn’t stick in the bottom, the anchor had no hold.

Enter the stock.  The stock was positioned in such a way that it would always cause one of the flukes to dig in and hold the boat in place. Brilliant!  I’m not pretending to understand HOW that works (I only passed Physics in high school because my teacher was a merciful human being) I only know it DOES work.

Behold dear friends, I have made you a diagram.  Please save your applause until the end.

 

So what does that have to do with hope?

In order to remain hopeful, we need an Anchor!  Our world is changing quickly.  Take the smart phone for example.  Information assaults our senses at dizzying speeds.  We can know anything in about 4 seconds.  We don’t need to wear a watch or look at a calendar.  Thanks to my iphone, I don’t ever need to hunt down a map, a flashlight, or even a level to hang pictures on my wall.  Annnnd thanks to the ap Fatbooth, I can even see what I will look like if I don’t quit eating so much cheddar cheese at night.

We are silly little comfort-seeking creatures.  We are hooked on current and hip and we lose our bearings on what is true quite easily…that is, unless we have an anchor.

Ah, but God knew.  

He knew what you and I would be like, He knew what 2014 would be like, and He knew about smart phones (even before Steve Jobs did).  In His mercy, He gave us promises that He keeps 100% of the time.  Those promises anchor us in Him because in Him alone we find hope that sticks around.

A promise anchoring me these days is Philippians 1:6 “I am sure that the One who began a good work in you will carry it on until it is completed.”  I will be less of a mess in the future! My close friends and family find this to be great news!

 

Which promise of God anchors your soul recently?  I would love to hear in the comments!

I’m linking up today with the good women of Velvet Ashes.  

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There are several very important reasons why making this cake with your child is a must.  In fact, you’re basically covering everything you’d do in a day at school so don’t bother going.

What?  You’re not convinced?  Let me break it down for you.

There are fractions in the measurements so: MATH

There are bananas to be mashed and stirring to be done so:  PHYSICAL EDUCATION

It has bananas in place of some of the oil so: HEALTH CLASS

It rises in the oven so: CHEMISTRY

You make it then turn it upside down so: PHYSICS

You eat it so: LUNCH

The kids run around on a sugar high so: RECESS

You are welcome.  Now put those pajamas back on and make some cake!

*the original recipe calls for everything to be cooked and baked in a cast iron skillet but I don’t have one (poor me) so I used a cake pan.  There is freedom here, friends.   

5.0 from 1 reviews
This cake is the same as a day at school.
Author: 
 
Ingredients
TOPPING
  • 20 oz can unsweetened sliced pineapple, undrained
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ½ cup sugar
CAKE BATTER
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup mashed ripe bananas
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1¼ cups flour
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Drain the pineapple, reserving ⅓ cup of juice. In the skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the sugar and cook, stirring constantly. When the sugar starts to turn brown, after about 3 minutes, remove it from the heat and continue stirring to prevent the residual skillet heat from browning the sugar unevenly.
  3. Carefully add the drained pineapple juice; the mixture will sputter somewhat. Return the pan to low heat and stir to combine the juice and the carmelized sugar. When the sugar has melted again and the mixture is smooth, remove from the heat. Arrange the pineapple slices close together in a decorative layer on the bottom of the skillet; reserve any remaining pineapple.
  4. For the cake batter, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, buttermilk, bananas, oil, and vanilla. Sift together the cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and flour. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until smooth.
  5. Pour the batter over the pineapple slices and top with any reserved slices. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the skillet for 10 minutes, then invert it onto a serving plate. Enjoy!

 

Did you make it yet?  Oh.  I should give you a little time.  Come back and tell me if you liked it and if you live in the area, I would like some of it.  It’s only fair.  I DID give you the recipe.

Linking up today with my friend over at Perfection Pending!

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This post first appeared on Velvet Ashes which is an online community

to encourage and breathe hope into the lives of women serving overseas. 

 

Vacuums, Sponges and Mops, Oh My.

 

More than likely, we are well-acquainted with these tools (of torture).  In fact, while in China, the brand of cleaning supplies in our grocery store was “Good Wife” which, while it may be true, is not exactly an ego boosting sentiment…

 

On a side note, one of my favorite parts of China was the product names they came up with. Another hilarious brand name was “White Men” toothpaste.  I don’t even know what that means but it made me smile every morning.

 

Each of my “Good Wife” products worked on different parts of the house, but all had the same purpose: to clean.  Mops are not meant to wipe counters.  Dish sponges are not for toilets. Toilet bowl brushes are certainly not meant to clean anything other than toilets.

 

I have a special place in my heart for that last sentence.  While in China, we discovered an elderly woman who needed money to pay for her daughter’s medical treatments.  She wanted to clean our house weekly and so she did.  It felt very strange to me to have a maid but it was helping her and the going rate at the time was the equivalent of $5 so we “splurged.”

 

The darling woman (who insisted we call her grandma) would not be persuaded to stop cleaning our ENTIRE bathroom with the toilet bowl brush.  She did the toilet first (of course) then the shower, the white tile walls, then the sink.  Every week after she left I would re-clean and de-poo the bathroom.

 

I tried everything I could to communicate that she needed to stop.  I performed gestures that would have won me ANY game of charades, I looked up words in my Chinese/English dictionary,  I asked my language teacher to help me say it correctly.  Still, the feces-laden brush would “clean” the bathroom each Monday morning.

 

“A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.” 1 Cor. 12:7

 

In the same way as the Good Wife tools our spiritual gifts are very different.  Some of us (myself included) look around at other people’s shiny gifts and then back down to our own toilet bowl brush with very little enthusiasm. They are gifted.  I’m just so…ordinary.   The truth, friend, is that all of our gifts are still that: gifts.  You are unique.  Your gifts might not seem as sparkly as someone else’s but the God of the universe wanted YOU to have it and it’s all yours.  So rock it!

 

Want to know mine?  Hold onto your hats…It’s organizing.  I know.  Try not to be jealous.  Really though, it’s not my favorite on the gift list and wouldn’t have been my first choice. Consequently, I’ve tried to fight it and deny it but the reality: I get giddy in office supply stores.  I’m owning it.  A second reality: when I’ve tried my hand at gifts I’ve deemed more exciting, it hasn’t gone too well.

 

Annoying as it is, I’ve seen my (nerdy) gifts bless other people.  Apparently not everyone is as OCD as I am.  Apparently others can benefit from my attention to detail.  Seeing other people benefit time and again makes me embrace my pocket protector and hole punch with increasing gratitude.

 

What is your gift?  Is it what you would have chosen?  Are you rocking it?

 

One more thing: Registration for Velvet Ashes Connection Groups is open right now.  The six week groups start next week!  I am leading a group and so are several of my friends. I know these women personally and you would be blessed to know them as well.  You do not have to be serving overseas to take part in these groups.  You can find out more about them and register here.

 

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I get Jonah.

God asked him to go to Nineveh to tell them to repent of their wickedness.  Jonah promptly arose and went in the opposite direction.  Our children’s Bible says he asked for a ticket to “Not-Nineveh.”  I seriously love that.  I have to shake my head at Jonah’s ridiculousness and nod my head in serious understanding. It makes for some really strange head movements.

Not surprisingly, the boat to Not-Nineveh runs into a huge storm and everyone is in danger.  Jonah took responsibility and the sailors threw him overboard.  But God arranged for a fish to swallow him.

Jonah is sorry and God has the fish spit him out.  God repeats himself: “Go tell Nineveh I am destroying them in 40 days unless they repent.”

Jonah goes and the Ninevites actually listen.  They all (even the King) changed into mourning clothes, covered themselves with ashes and fasted.  They stopped feeding their animals too.  They were genuinely sorry.  And their animals were genuinely confused. And hungry.

So Jonah, filled with rejoicing, skipped home.  Nopes.  The Bible says, “This change in plans” (the part where the people are not getting destroyed anymore) “greatly upset Jonah and he became very angry.”  As a planner, I totally get that.

Jonah takes the news pretty hard.  Jonah is mad because he thinks all the bad dudes in this town should get what’s coming to them.  Now all of the sudden everything is fine?!  He goes on to complain, “I knew this would happen.  You’re so nice.  You’re so forgiving.  Ugh. Kill me now please.  I’d rather be dead than watch this.”

God’s reply: “Is it right for you to be angry about this?”

Jonah stomps off to pout at the edge of the city.  But God arranged for a plant to grow and shade him.  Since this allowed Jonah to pout much more comfortably, he was thankful.  But God arranged for a worm to kill the plant.  Then Jonah was back to being angry enough to die.

God’s (entirely valid) question:  You’re mad that a plant died but you’re not concerned about the 120,000 humans that were just saved from destruction? 

And then the book ends.  It’s abrupt.  It’s uncomfortable.  Loose ends are not tied up.  Resolution is not enjoyed.  It just hangs there.

Things I want to remember:

  1. Is it right for you to be angry about this?  In my life, the answer is a resounding, “Probably not.”  I don’t walk around with my hair on fire the WHOLE day but often I am wound up tighter and more frequently than the situation really calls for.  Jonah was so glaringly self-centered in his anger here. That’s my kind of anger.  I don’t like being inconvenienced.  A recent example: my child in diapers won’t poop in a wet diaper.  He has standards. Therefore, I change a wet diaper only to change a stink bomb five minutes later.  I don’t know if it makes me want to die exactly but it sure makes me want to eat some cake.
  2. God effortlessly arranges nature for His purposes.  Pop up a plant here, have a fish swim by at the exact right time there.  No big thing.  Really, for God details are no. big. thing.  I try to arrange my trips to the grocery store and always end up loosing my list somewhere between the house and the store.  He is able to arrange certain worms to munch on particular plants.  We should let Him be in charge more, yes?
  3. Sometimes loose ends remain loose.  This one makes my blood pressure rise.  This sentence is bad for my health.  Some things end abruptly.  Sometimes I can’t see the rest of the story.  Being ok with that would serve me well.

So what about you?  Is it right for you to be angry about that one thing?  Could you let God arrange some things instead of you scrambling for control?  What loose ends can you try to (gulp) embrace?

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God sees something else. And He just may know somethings we don’t…

 
On Sunday our pastor reminded us of this with an illustration from his own life. His toddler son really wanted the hot sauce he was eating but he wouldn’t give it to him because, while it seemed great from a distance, it wasn’t the BEST choice for a one year old. From the son’s perspective, his dad was cruelly withholding the goods and the son was clearly missing out.
 
And he WAS missing out! Missing out on a rude awakening and intense pain. Rather than being thankful, however, he is just plain old mad.
 
Hmmmm. I wish I didn’t see so many connections between myself and that one year old child.
 
I have been blessed richly by my Father throughout my life. He has not withheld good from me. But I’ve not gotten everything. I was never a model and I am still not independently wealthy. Most glaringly though was that I wasn’t able to have children. That is one tough pill to swallow. For anyone who has ever attempted to choke down a calcium pill, it’s bigger than that.
 
For anyone who knows me even a little, you know that I DO have kiddos now through adoption. But they didn’t come overnight. It was a looooong and very treacherous road. It still brings tears to my eyes to remember. Not getting what we think we really need from God is not pleasant.
 

I am a guest over at Perfection Pending on the infertility piece and I want to encourage you to read it.  You can click here.

 
I know! I am asking for “the extra click.”  No one wants the pressure of the extra click. I can say that because I am not a fan of the extra click. I am happy to do it if it was MY idea but when YOU tell me to, well now I simply don’t have time.
 
Well friends, I am asking you to push past your desire to run.  Here is another chance. 
 
Do it for yourself. You just might be encouraged about “that thing” you’re waiting on.
 
Do it for a friend who might be in the throws of infertility who would benefit from the perspective of someone who has experienced it.
 
Final chance guys.  Together, we can make this extra click happen! Click!

 

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