August 2, 2017

What To Think About Instead of That Thing You're Trying Not To Think About


You know That Thing I'm talking about, don't you? 

It's that subject, thought, problem, person, worry, or issue that's taking up mental real estate and (pre)occupying your brain. 

I'm not talking about something you genuinely need to remember or mull over or figure out or deal with or process. I'm talking about a dead-end road in the pathway of your mind. I'm talking about something you have given ENOUGH ALREADY mental attention to. 

You tell yourself to stop thinking about it, for crying out loud. Just. Stop. Get control of your thoughts and think about something else. Anything else. Except at the moment That Thing is front and center in your brain, you cannot come up with a single other thing to think about. 

A few months ago, I decided I needed a go-to, default action plan to reroute my brain away from That Thing--whatever it might be in various seasons of life--to something else. But not just anything else...I wanted something that would draw me closer to God and His power and peace. 

I started to think that gratitude was the way to go...that instead of mentally chewing on That Thing again, I should think of things I'm grateful for. But then our very creative Creator expanded the idea to include five more areas I could mentally detour to. And He kindly provided them to me in a handy mnemonic acronym (a.k.a., the tool of the memory-challenged). 

In short, God gave me a divine P.R.O.M.P.T. 

These days, when I'm tempted to think about That Thing again (for crying out loud), I try to redirect my mind toward one of these far better mental actions instead: 

Praise.

Praise God for Who He is. Praise Him for what He's like...His character and nature. Mentally list His attributes--"You are good" or "You are just" or "You are unchanging," for instance. I often tell God what His name is: Abba, Jehovah, I AM, and on and on. He already knows, of course...the telling is to remind me, because every one of God's many and varied names communicates something different and true about Who He is. Which is far better to think about than...well, you know.

Remember. 

Remember what God has done in the past. Recount His miracles and faithfulness. Rehearse the impossible situations He's worked out. I've spent plenty of time replaying That Thing in my brain; this is the time to recall what God has done before--and, because He is a consistent God, what He is likely to do again. He was good and just and kind and generous yesterday; He will be the same tomorrow. 

Offend (the enemy).

In the spiritual armor described in Ephesians 6, the sword of the Spirit--God's Word--is our only offensive weapon; all the other pieces are defensive. With the defensive pieces of armor, we fend off harm, but with the offensive sword, we can do damage. We can inflict some wounds. The enemy can't read our minds, though, so when I'm trying to offend him, I like to speak God's Word out loud. As loudly as possible. Which is why I don't usually choose the "O" of P.R.O.M.P.T. in the middle of the grocery store. (See "M," below, if you need to reroute your brain while you're in the produce section.) I favor "sharp" verses like Psalm 18:46 (capitalization mine): "THE LORD LIVES!!! PRAISE BE TO MY ROCK!!!" You've read that in texting and other written communication, using all caps is the equivalent of yelling? Well, in this case, that's exactly the point.

Meditate.

Here's where I turn a Bible verse over and over in my mind, thereby crowding out, ahem, other thoughts. I like something simple and hopeful...this is probably not the time for a mental recitation of the punishments for sin in Leviticus. I favor phrases like "Your love is better than life" (Psalm 63:3) and declarations like "I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living" (Psalm 27:13).

Pray.

For others. For myself. Repeat indefinitely.

Thank. 

Back to the armor of God: during a fabulous Bible study I had the privilege of facilitating on this subject, I learned that gratitude is what activates the shoes of peace. That Thing I'm trying to mentally avoid is a great peace stealer, but gratitude is a great peace sealer. It's hard to think about That Thing when I'm thinking about everything I have to be thankful for. Which is exactly the point. 


Like any other new habit worth forming, training my brain to P.R.O.M.P.T. is an ongoing process and daily (hourly?) decision. But I'm determined to keep it up until this P.R.O.M.P.T. becomes my mind's go-to thought.

Do you have your own That Thing you're trying not to think so much about (for crying out loud)? I'd be thrilled to know if this P.R.O.M.P.T. makes any sense and, even better, if it helps you gain some ground in fighting the good fight. 

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I was so honored to share a condensed version of this P.R.O.M.P.T over on Of the Hearth, as part of the two-part series "Can Busy Moms Really Find Time to Spend with God?" No guilt here, just practical suggestions for finding God-time right in the middle of your crazy life.



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July 21, 2017

Chocolate Malt Ice Cream Cookie Cake


My first job was at a little ice cream shop in my hometown.

We served about 20 flavors of hand-dipped ice cream, along with sundaes, shakes, and malts of every variety.

Everyone said I'd get tired of ice cream, working with and around it so much.

Everyone was wrong. Very, very wrong.

I didn't get tired of it then, and I haven't gotten tired of it since. I've passed this love onto my family, which is why we have at least five flavors of ice cream in the house at any given time.

I'm particularly fond of the combination of chocolate and malt, so I don't know why it took me until my 47th birthday to figure out that this variation of my favorite ice cream cake would be a very good idea. Apparently, with age really does come wisdom. 

And for the record, I don't expect to get tired of this ice cream cake any time soon.


Chocolate Malt Ice Cream Cake (with Malted Chocolate Sauce) {print recipe}

Base layer:
12 chocolate-cream sandwich cookies, crushed
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Main layer:
16 chocolate-cream sandwich cookies
1 1/2 cups malted balls
8 ounces non-dairy whipped topping, thawed OR 3 cups sweetened whipped cream
1 1/2 quarts chocolate ice cream, very slightly softened

Malted Chocolate Sauce (optional, but a very good idea):
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-processed)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/3 cup plain malted milk powder
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the base layer: preheat over to 350 degrees and lightly coat with nonstick cooking spray the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan OR a 9-inch cake pan with the highest sides you can round up. Toss together the 12 crushed cookies and the melted butter and press into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 5 minutes, then cool completely.

For the main layer: break 16 cookies in half and throw them into the work bowl of a food processor, along with your malt balls. Process like crazy (you may have to add in some pulse action) until you have very fine (and highly addictive) malt-flavored cookie crumbs. Reserve about 1/4 cup for garnish. Spread 1/2 of the ice cream evenly over the cooled base layer. Top with 1/2 of the whipped topping or whipped cream. Sprinkle evenly with 1/2 of the malted cookie crumbs. Repeat layers with remaining ice cream, whipped cream/whipped topping, and malted cookie crumbs. Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the cake, then wrap the entire pan in foil and freeze several hours at least, or up to several weeks. Cut into wedges to serve, drizzled with hot fudge sauce or plain chocolate sauce or warm Malted Chocolate Sauce and sprinkled with reserved cookie crumbs. Makes approximately 8-10 servings.

For the Malted Chocolate Sauce: in a small saucepan, whisk together the cocoa, cornstarch, malted milk powder, and brown sugar. Add the milk and whisk well, then whisk in the corn syrup. Set the pan over medium heat and stir while bringing it to a full boil. Lower the heat slightly and cook, whisking constantly, about one minute longer, until the sauce thickens and generously coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Cool, then refrigerate in a covered jar. Makes about 3/4 cup.




**This post may have been shared at some of these blog parties.**


July 6, 2017

10 Bible Verses to Share With Someone Who's Celebrating (or Struggling)

I've had the great privilege of facilitating* women's Bible study for the past 12 years, and one of my favorite moments is when my study sisters and I discover a "who knew" verse in God's great love letter...as in, "who knew this was in the Bible?"

Some of these lesser-known** verses have become my standbys when I'm sending a text message or a card to a friend or acquaintance who's celebrating a gain (a new baby, a new job, a new house) or grieving a loss. If you're trying to rejoice with someone who's rejoicing or mourn with someone who's mourning (Romans 12:15), one of these might give you a place to start.

For someone who's just had a baby: "See, the Sovereign Lord tends His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young." (Isaiah 40:10a,11)

For someone who is graduating: "Love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him. For the Lord is your life." (Deuteronomy 30:20) 

For someone who is grieving: "The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms." (Deuteronomy 33:27) Also, "But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand." (Psalm 10:14)

For someone who is starting a new job: "May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us--yes, establish the work of our hands." (Psalm 90:17)

For someone who is suffering: "I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul. You have not handed me over to the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place." (Psalm 31:7,8)

For someone who has moved into a new home: "My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest...how blessed you will be." (Isaiah 32:18, 20a) Also, "By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures. (Proverbs 24:3,4)


For someone who is overwhelmed: "In all their distress He too was distressed, and the angel of His presence saved them. In His love and mercy He redeemed them; He lifted them up and carried them." (Isaiah 63:9)

For someone who is waiting for something: "All my longings lie open before you, O Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you." (Psalm 38:9)

For someone who is starting something new: "The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." (Deuteronomy 31:8)

For someone you appreciate: "Your love has given me great joy and encouragement." (Philemon 7)




Do you have a favorite "who knew" verse? 
Please share it in a comment or over on Facebook! 


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*"Facilitating" rather than "leading," because "leading" implies I have all the answers (as if), whereas "facilitating" merely indicates that I set up chairs and make sure our stash of pens and tissues is replenished regularly.

**Or, at least, these are lesser-known to me. You might be thinking, "Honey, everyone knows these verses. Some Bible study leader you are." To which I would only ask you to see "facilitator," above.

Click here for a free printable of all these verses.

Previous post that might have something to do with this one: So You Want to Start a Women's Bible Study Group.

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