Monday, April 22, 2013

Sharing on Infertility

Image from aroyaldaughter.com

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week.  That's probably not a remembrance many of us want to celebrate.  For those who have walked this painful road, infertility can be isolating, scary and sometimes even a challenge to our faith. It can be hard to find God's purpose in a life where we don't have those pregnancies and children we long for, but God is there nevertheless.

I have written some about my own infertility struggle here on this blog at various times and reviewed a book on the issue. Today, as part of National Infertility Awareness week, I am so honored to be able to share with others as Amanda over at A Royal Daughter discusses Lies Women Believe about Infertility.  There are some emotional and encouraging testimonies over there from several women, and I encourage you to check them out HERE.

As we move through this week, what are some ways that you can think of to encourage brothers and sisters in Christ who struggle with infertility? Have you faced an infertility struggle yourself? How did God show Himself to you there?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

All That Tomato Sauce

Earlier I posted on how to make a good, basic tomato sauce. As I mentioned, it's a great staple to store and use in your other cooking. So, what are some things to do with all that tomato deliciousness?

Well, making pasta sauce is probably the easiest and most obvious. Sometimes I'll find myself with odds and ends of food left over from other cooking that would go perfectly in a sauce. For instance, I recently found myself with a single sausage link, an onion, and most of a container of shiitake mushrooms. No way was I letting that go to waste!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Bloggers' Meet and Greet Week

Blogging fills a number of needs for me. I enjoy writing, and this is one way to hone my craft. Putting ideas down in writing also helps me think them through, as does discussing them with readers, and in the end, I think this helps me better understand faith, life and serving God.

There's also the community side of things. Being online(with discernment - there are some scary corners of the internet!) lets me have fellowship with and learn from believers from different places and in various stages of life. What a blessing! I have met some wonderful women of God online since I began blogging, and I am so thankful for them.

This week, one of those ladies is hosting a Meet and Greet on her blog so that we can learn more about each other and perhaps find some new bloggers to follow! You can find the details at Raising Mighty Arrows:



And as for me? You'll find my "About Me" page here, along with all the various places (email, Pinterest, Facebook, etc..) you can contact me. Hope you see you there!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Here and Now



In my dreams, I still roam valleys barefoot, smiling into the sun and smelling the grass, flowers and water that sing spring.

Here and now I live in a small city, a beautiful green corner of it, but still not the wide open spaces my heart knows as home. And yet there's beauty here.

There's the joy of recognizing a friend as we go about errands in town.

The unexpected delight of seeing sun hit water as one turns a corner, going from city streets to wide open river.

I can live in memories and dreams, and let my mind's eye vividly open pictures of spring spent elsewhere. And at times, I love to do that. But living in the here, the now, creates new memories and delights. It's a different place than what I'm used to, but it's become home over time. Here I have a loving church family, my much-beloved husband, and a little city to explore. Walking among Civil War battlefields and historic buildings, one finds treasure here - a coffee shop that makes some of the best lattes I've ever tasted, a thrift store that looks more like a cozy cottage than a garage sale, unexpected glimpses of beauty as trees and gardens peek out amidst the downtown streets.

I treasure my memories, but I give thanks for the joys of life here and now.


------------
This is a piece written in five minutes with no editing as part of Five Minute Fridays. Want to try writing free for five minutes? Join in here!

Five Minute Friday

Thursday, April 11, 2013

I Didn't Deserve That




"(F)or all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,"
- Romans 3:23-24

My grandfather was always fond of saying that everything has a flip side. And so it is with fairness. Often when we complain we don't deserve something, it's because we at least perceive ourselves as being treated unfairly. While I do not downplay the importance of justice, it's impossible to think on just outcomes and fairness without remembering the other side of things we don't deserve.

After all, none of us ever deserved a Savior.

All of us have sinned, and all of us would be dead in our sin were it not for Christ's salvation. I can cook and clean and even if I somehow made myself into the perfect picture of a homemaker, I would not deserve salvation. My sin is real and cannot be erased. And so it is with all of us.

As I read Romans during my devotional this morning, I could not help but be struck anew. As a believer, it can become too easy to think of ourselves as the saved, the elect, and too difficult to remember the dark sinfulness of heart from which we came.

And yet, the more one thinks upon this amazing unfairness, this unearned salvation - how can we not fall to our knees in wonder? How can we not let our hearts sing with praise? In our sinful hands, we can break others with undeserved acts but in the hands of God, undeserved grace and love makes us whole. We don't deserve God's love, but learning of it, how can we not want to seek His face and learn His ways?


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Kitchen Basics: Making a Good Tomato Sauce



Tomato sauce doesn't have to come out of a jar or can! In fact, canned tomato sauce can be dangerous as many brands use BPA to line their cans, and BPA has been linked to a variety of health issues. Making a good tomato sauce is relatively easy and takes little time, so I like to make big batches and freeze it for use later in as it's a good base for a whole host of dishes.

Curious? Well, here's how to make the sauce. Please note that this recipe will make enough sauce to serve 8, but can easily be doubled or even tripled.

The Tomato Sauce

4 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 chopped garlic cloves
kosher salt and pepper
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
a pinch or two of red pepper flakes
52 oz. canned tomatoes (these can be home canned or storebought - if storebought, I recommend using a BPA free brand, such as Muir Glen)
1/2 tsp. sugar
4 T. coarsely chopped fresh basil
balsamic vinegar (optional)

1. Heat the oil over medium heat until shimmering.
2. Add garlic, 1 1/4 tsp. salt, oregano and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
3. Add tomatoes sugar and black pepper to taste. Increase heat to high and bring to a strong simmer.
4. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover pan. Simmer for 20 minutes or until thickened(if you increase recipe, you may need more time on this step.)
5. Remove from heat, and stir in basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If you want to give your sauce a little extra zing, add a teaspoon or two of balsamic vinegar.

Now you have a good sauce to use as a base for chicken parmesan, lasagna, pasta sauces - the possibilities are endless!

And I will be exploring some of those possibilities in blog posts to come, so please keep an eye out!

In the meantime, if you want to store tomato sauce to use for later, it can be kept in non-metal containers or even large freezer bags. It will keep in the refrigerator for about a week and can be frozen for 12-18 months. Just be sure to let the sauce cool completely before refrigerating or freezing.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Book Review: Modest: Men and Women Clothed in the Gospel

The Book - Modest: Men and Women Clothed in the Gospel by Tim Challies and R.W. Glenn
Cruciform Press, $9.99 (2012)

I initially read Modest for the Book Club at Desiring Virtue, but it has taken me a little while to think through it. Though a very short book, there is a lot packed into it and I found myself thinking about modesty in different ways as I read.

One thing I really like about this book is that the authors go to great pains to emphasize modesty as a heart issue for Christian believers. So many times I have heard talks on modesty or read articles that spend much time discussing tightness of blouses, length of skirts, etc.. - and then they stop. If I want to know how to look modest, I can find lots of guidance, but it's a lot more difficult to be modest. As I read the authors' words in this book, I have to admit that I felt uncomfortably convicted on occasion. After all, if I'm feeling smug as I sit there in my modest skirt, I'm not exactly going into this modesty thing with the right attitude.

I also appreciated that the authors addressed their topic to both men and women. I think both men and women struggle with modesty issues, even if we tend to do it in different ways.

In a way, though, this book makes the issue of modesty more challenging because we are reminded that modesty deals not only with outward appearance(though that's part of it), but also with our inner hearts. While we as Christians are urged to examine modesty in light of the gospel, the authors go out of their way to avoid providing a concrete checklist of do's and don'ts with regard to the mix of outward dress and behavior and inward heart. I could understand why they would do that because it can be easy to fall into legalism in this area, but I do wish that this book had a little more concrete guidance. I felt as if very important questions were raised, but then the practical application somewhat glossed over. Even so, the subject is an important one and given what I see in modern American culture, I am glad to get a biblical perspective on the subject.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Walking the Path of After

As much I love pretty pictures, sometimes the very prettiest pictures of Christian faith just don't tell the whole story. You know the ones I mean, the portrayals of Christianity as the happy club where everyone's always smiling. The knowledge that we are dead in our sins but given life because Christ died for us is the most amazing miracle there is. It's knowledge that brings deep and abiding joy and it would be nice to be perky and happy happy happy every day, but I still live in this world.

And that path of life after receiving Christ still has struggles. I've walked it through stressful days, the decision to move from career to making serving God from home the center of my life, watching my grandmother grow ever feebler, and a devastating miscarriage. The way of Christ is not easy street in this world. Things still happen that hurt so much they turn me inside out. But you know what? I don't walk it alone. My God is with me and comforts me, and He strengthens me day by day.

Walking that path of life after becoming a Christian and acknowledging Christ as my savior has not been a 24 hour party but even in the darkest of days, I can feel the warmth of hope and the knowledge that there is a Savior. And that hope is the part of after that I treasure.

--------------
This is a piece written in five minutes with no editing as part of Five Minute Fridays. Want to try writing free for five minutes? Check out this week's writing prompt, and join in here!

Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Midweek Links - Same Sex "Marriage"

Same sex "marriage" is not strictly a homemaking topic, I know. However, it is a type of relationship which does not fit any biblical definition of marriage and the laws surrounding these relationships definitely have a bearing on what type of society we will be building into the future. In that light, I cannot help but pray about and study this issue. Ignoring it will not make it go away, so what are we as Christians to do?

First of all, if you are unfamiliar with biblical teachings on marriage and homosexuality, I would urge you to consult your Bible. This list gives some places to start, and this Bible study also has some helpful information.

You may also want to listen to the American Supreme Court arguments for yourself, so you know what is being debated from a legal perspective in my country. One case deals with whether or not a state law banning gay marriage in California is legal. That case is called Hollingsworth v. Perry, and you can access it here. The other case deals with whether or not the nationwide, federal Defense of Marriage Act is constitutional. That case is styled United States v. Windsor and can be found here.

In addition, Kelly Reins from Ah the Life has compiled some research regarding biblical teachings on this issue, and she has made it available on LAF/Beautiful Womanhood.

I also found this message from a gay sister in Christ very moving. I'd highly encourage reading this one - I even pinned it to my Pinterest boards because I didn't want to forget it! It's a good reminder that what the world preaches as "compassion" does not bring the peace and healing that so many people need and will only find in Christ.

Lastly, over at True Woman is posted an action plan on how we, as Christian woman, can confront this issue.

And I'm sure people want to know what I think, too. After prayerfully seeking guidance, I cannot come to any conclusion other than that which teaches engaging in homosexual behavior is a sin. I am also very much aware that gays are sinners in need of God's love every bit as much as the rest of us. "Hate the sin but not the sinner" is a phrase that has unfortunately become cliched as well as shamefully misused to excuse all manner of distinctly un-Christlike treatment of others, but it is also a phrase that really does fit this situation. The people at the heart of this debate are God's creation and I think we need to remember that, but I cannot in any way condone the false "marriage" that they seek to promote because it goes against the teachings of God with regard to marriage and the family.