July 4, 2018

Faith Even When You Don't Feel Like It


My husband, God bless him, is a die-hard college sports fan. His blood runs the colors of his alma mater, and he believes in his team whether they’re winning or losing. He’s a faithful fan. 

I didn’t grow up in a sport-centric household. Before I met my husband, I wasn’t even sure what the difference was between the institution of my husband’s devotion and the other big university bearing the name of our state. Out of love for my husband, I’ve learned what downs are in football and where three-point range is in basketball. I root for my husband’s team, and when they’re doing well, I’m an enthusiastic supporter. But if they’ve just given away a big game or are on a losing streak, I leave my NCAA-approved college-logo sweatshirt in the closet. I’m a fair-weather fan.

But here’s the sticking point: this is often how it is in my relationship with God.

I regularly practice fair-weather faith. I enthusiastically worship God when everything is going the way I want it to. I testify to His goodness when I feel His presence and His blessings. When I’m not sure what He’s doing, though, or when I think I can tell what He’s doing but don’t like it, I pull away from Him and hold back my praise.

And this is a problem, because I am not called to love God “when” or “if.” I am called to love God. Period.

What does love for God look like? I show love for my husband and children by spending time with them and bragging about them. So if I’m truly loving God—love, the ongoing action, not some vague feeling or greeting-card emotion—I’m going to spend time with Him. I'm going to pray and read and study His love letter. I’m going to make a big deal about Him to others.

The Psalmist knew the formula for all-weather faith, and it hinges on a single word: yet. He describes his soul as “downcast” and “disturbed” (Psalm 42:11) but doesn't stop there: “I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.” In the midst of a struggle—not when it's over or improved or resolved, but while it is still going on—the saved soul decides to praise God.

In his book of laments, the prophet Jeremiah shows this same “yet” kind of faith. I love that the consistency and connection of Scripture is on full display here: we're told that in his own “yet”moment, Jeremiah too, finds his soul to be downcast. “Yet this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope…” (Lamentations 3:21). Same state of soul, same hinge word, same decision to extol God and affirm who He is.

As a naturally melancholy personality, my soul often dwells in the land of the downcast. When I am there, praise and hope are not my default reactions: withdrawal and wallowing are. But I can learn a new way. When storm clouds of worry, uncertainty, sickness, hardship, or sorrow roll in, I can make the choice to make a habit of defaulting to yet.

Yet, I can choose to praise God. Yet, I can choose to “call to mind” truth about who God is. Yet, I can choose to worship in the waiting, in the meantime, in the midst. Whatever the weather. Whether my team is winning or losing.

I. Will. Yet. Praise. Him.



**This post in its original form first appeared on Blogs By Christian Women. It may have been shared at some of these link parties.** 

June 10, 2018

Seriously Strawberry Sauce


While we're on the subject of fruit, let's talk for a minute about self-control. As in the characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit described in Galatians 5.

We should talk about this because I exercised considerable self-control in not titling this post "Berry, Berry Strawberry Sauce."

The thing is that this sauce really does taste more like a strawberry than the berry itself. I think it's because of the concentration of strawberry essence in the base sauce, combined with the strawberries themselves. And the best news is that this sauce screams "ripe-from-the-field strawberries picked at the exact moment of readiness" even if you make it with frozen strawberries picked from your freezer in the dead of winter.

Go ahead. Blend up a batch now, and save your self-control for something else. I'm going to use my last reserve of personal restraint and NOT tell you you'll be "berry" glad you did.


Seriously Strawberry Sauce {print}

2 cups frozen, unsweetened strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
approximately 2 additional tablespoons sugar

Measure frozen strawberries into a strainer set over a medium saucepan and sprinkle with 1/4 cup sugar. Leave to thaw, stirring and pressing into the strainer occasionally. Dump the drained, thawed berries into a blender and puree until smooth. Leave them in the blender. Leave the strawberry juice in the saucepan.

Mix the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of sugar together and whisk into the strawberry juice. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. As soon as the mixture is bubbly and thick, remove it from the heat and cool several minutes. Test for sweetening and add more sugar if needed. Pour on top of the pureed strawberries that are still hanging out in the blender, and pulse several times just to mix. You're not trying to whip this into submission, just to bring the thickened juice and source strawberries into one happy saucy marriage. 

Pour into a covered container and chill until needed. Makes 2 cups (ish).




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June 1, 2018

Dear Daughters: 12 Things I Didn't Know I Needed in a Husband


My dearest daughters,

Just the other day, you were babies, and now you are young women. How or when that happened, I have no idea, but it did, and so now you are getting to the age when you might start thinking about the kind of man you want to marry someday, should that be God's will for you.

When I was your age, I had no idea what to look for in a husband. I knew he needed to be a man after God's own heart, but beyond that I didn't give very much thought to the kind of mate I should be seeking.

I didn't know I needed these things in a husband. But our God of grace gave them to me anyway in your wonderful dad, so now I can tell you that you might want to look for them, too.

I didn't know I needed a husband who would be patient with me even though I am so often impatient with him.

I didn't know I needed a husband who would spend more time reading the Bible than any other book.

I didn't know I needed a generous husband who would put gas in his teenager's car and would never even once make me feel I wasn't contributing to our household just because I "stayed home."

I didn't know I needed a husband who would serve God and his family by serving his local church as deacon and elder and Sunday School teacher and kids' club leader and pastoral search committee member and prayer room volunteer.

I didn't know I needed a husband so truly kind that when he would be out to lunch one day with our children, someone would come up to their table and tell them, "You do know you have the best dad in the world, don't you?"

I didn't know I needed a husband who would tell me I'm beautiful not because he thinks I expect it but because he thinks it.

I didn't know I needed a husband who would go to work every day to provide for his family without ever complaining or grumbling. Even when he was tired... or it was his birthday...or he had to drive through a snowstorm while the rest of the family had a snow day.

I didn't know I needed a husband who would rearrange his work schedule to attend all his children's events.

I didn't know I needed a husband who, when I called him at his office to tell him there was a bat hanging on the window curtain, would say "I'll be there in 10 minutes"--even though the drive home took 15. (Sometimes, Batman wears a business suit.)

I didn't know I needed a husband so steady and calm that his standard response to panicked messages from me would always be "no problem."

I didn't know I needed a husband who, on a cold Sunday morning when I was running behind getting ready for church, would move the dress I'd chosen to wear out of an unheated closet and into the warm bedroom AND make the bed because he knew it drove me crazy to leave it unmade. 




My beautiful brides-to-maybe-be, look first and always for God. He alone can give you everything you need and will never fail or fall short. But if someday, you bring a future husband home to meet your dad and me, I hope he's a lot like the man I didn't know I needed...the man I didn't know to look for. Because a man who is these things and does these things is someone worth finding and holding onto.

Love,
Mom






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