May 7, 2017

May 7, 2017

Growing up, we ate a bowl of grits almost every morning before school. I’d push my bowl aside to lay down on the warm spot it left behind. We’ve raised our own little people on Quaker, and today, almost everybody is a grits-eating believer. Songbird is the only holdout; she loves Jesus, but she can’t stand grits. The only way she eats them is smothered under shrimp and gravy. Since we didn’t have any shrimp today, Songbird stuck with the proteins. Nobody can pass up bacon and eggs. While Hubby stirred, fried, scrambled, and toasted, we discussed a different type of provision—spiritual, not physical. We talked about Joshua 7 and 8, which tell of the battles between Israel and Ai. These chapters show that it doesn’t matter the size of the adversary or the strength of its weaponry. Victory depends upon the presence and authority of God. Our morning lesson connected with Jeremiah 33:14, 15: “‘Behold, the days are coming,’ says the LORD, ‘that I will perform that good thing which I have promised to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah: ‘In those days and at that time I will cause to grow up to David A Branch of righteousness; He shall execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.’” Today’s sermon expounded upon our Sunday morning devotional. The service didn’t go as planned. We didn’t get to hear all Reverend Livingston’s message; another pastor answered the call and stepped in. But even in this unusual turn of events, the lesson was clear: life in Christ isn’t about what we plan or what we expect. It’s not about how...
April 9, 2017

April 9, 2017

I’m not a pancake person, but I’ll take Hubby’s creations over Cracker Barrel’s or IHOP’s any day. He has perfected the combination of light and fluffy middles and crispy edges. I found the recipe years ago in a book I permanently “borrowed” from a library and the little people love them plain or filled with blueberries or chocolate chips. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” Genesis 1:1, 2 While he worked the griddle, Songbird talked about a different type of creation in Sunday School. She introduced the lesson by asking the other little people, “If you could create something out of nothing, what would you do?” They named everything from a private sweet shop to piles of money and toys they could share. However sweet to the taste and generous of spirit, these desires pale next to God’s hopes and plans for us, including His gift of the world that He spoke into existence—and the power to overcome this same world in His gift of salvation. And God continues giving to His creation. Palm Sunday honors Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem and marks the last seven days of His life on Earth, but today’s sermon focused on the Spirit of fellowship, one of God’s great gifts that continues to give. In “Let’s Eat” we heard how Jesus spent His time on Earth nourishing hungry bodies and souls, as our prayers and pancakes feed the little people during...
April 2, 2017

April 2, 2017

Today was an all-hands-on-deck type of day. Instead of Hubby leading Sunday School while I cooked, we all participated in breakfast prep. Think Tank, Songbird, Brown Sugar, Maven, Lone Ranger, and I played sous chef to Hubby, helping him make sausage casserole, monkey bread, and potatoes. TD spurred us to work harder and faster with his constant “I’m hungry!” playing in the background. At first I felt conflicted. I mean, it’s the Sabbath, and that means we start our morning with Sunday School. Then we eat. But that’s not the way we did things today—and what a blessing! Seeing my little people cooking together and serving each other, expressing such love and sweet fellowship…we even fit some math in because we had to change a recipe by two-thirds. Our worship in church was different, too. It was filled with song and personal testimony. Members shared experiences that attested to the faithfulness of God and His powerful work in their life. As much as we love Pastor Livingston’s sermons, we are always so inspired by this time of honest sharing, by people who aren’t ashamed to bare their brokenness and need and who confidently speak of the God who continually meets that need. Why is Daddy crying? What’s wrong? One testimonial in particular struck us, bringing both Hubby and me to tears. It wasn’t about what the speaker had been through, but what God has brought our family through. Her near-death experience reminded us that Hubby is here with us only by God’s grace—and I don’t mean that daily grace that keeps working in us and saving us. I’m talking about that...
March 26, 2017

March 26, 2017

  “Waffles? Can you put chocolate chips in mine?” “Ooh, could you crumble up bacon and add it to mine?” “Mmm…they’d taste great with brown sugar and cinnamon sprinkled on top.” For some reason, the little people think Hubby and I are here to serve. Well, as parents we are in many ways, just not necessarily the way they’d like. And sometimes they have too many preferences for my taste (no pun intended). Brown Sugar will eat scrambled eggs if she can add an extra dash of salt. Maven likes to cook her own eggs until they’re almost golden brown. Today, I went with the request for chocolate chips, but I left it up to the individuals to make bacon-and-waffle sandwiches or specialized eggs. Sometimes, they just have to eat it my way. (And if you’re also a fan of waffles try the easy recipe I included below from Soul Food: Classic Cuisine from the Deep South.) Today’s sermon emphasized this point today in “Quit Asking Questions.” Pastor Livingston used The Message Bible to make his message plain and clear: “I’ve concluded that whatever God does, that’s the way it’s going to be, always. No addition, no subtraction. God’s done and that’s it. That’s so we’ll quit asking questions and simply worship in holy fear.” (Ecclesiastes 3:14) I’ve been asking God “When, Lord?” “How, Lord?” “Why, Lord?” There hasn’t been much praise, thanksgiving, and patience during this season of testing in my life. While I know I must endure trials, I want to do it my way and on my timetable. But really, trust and faith don’t work that way....
March 19, 2017

March 19, 2017

This morning, while I cooked breakfast, Hubby read Matthew 24:29 in Sunday School and then he talked to Lone Ranger and Brown Sugar about one of their biggest fears—the dark. Every night, they keep their door open wide so the light from the hallway will illuminate their room. This might’ve seemed an odd discussion to have while basking in the almost-spring sunshine as our block potatoes sizzled on the stove. But the setting and the timing were perfect, for Think Tank had just read, “The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.” (Revelation 21:23). The little people should rest assured—literally: they might need a nightlight now, but one day, Jesus will provide all the light we need. He will take away every fear and wipe away every tear. (Revelation 21:4) God often uses the dark moments in our life to speak to us, as He spoke to Jacob in Genesis 46:1-4, the subject of today’s sermon. He illuminates those midnight hours in our life, when we’re at our lowest, most afraid, or most confused, bringing meaning and understanding to our circumstances. Yet, sometimes we just need to go, do, or stand still, especially when we don’t fully comprehend the wheres, whens, whys, and hows. We struggle over here with the fear of failure and the dread of the unknown. The perfectionist in me over-analyzes every scenario; I’m paralyzed by every “if…then.” Pastor Livingston explained how God uses what we see as failure to shape us and fit us for service. He...
March 12, 2017

March 12, 2017

“I think bacon is the only meat you can wrap around any other meat to make it taste better, including more pork,” Songbird observed today. “I mean, you don’t hear people wrapping baked chicken around fried chicken.” Ain’t that the truth? It works on everything from pork loin to steak to Brussel sprouts. If you need some convincing, check out the recipe for “Bacon Maple Crack,” a recipe that made its inaugural visit to our kitchen last Thanksgiving. (Yes, it’s as addictive as its name.) Sadly, we didn’t have time for any special recipes this morning since Crusader’s leave-taking hijacked breakfast and Sunday school. We just had time for plain old Oscar Mayer, and it had to work overtime to lift our spirits. Brown Sugar was sad about placing just eight mats around the table. Songbird mourned the last day of spring break and the return of early nights and mornings. Even our daffodils drooped once they heard an approaching snowstorm was threatening their early fling with spring weather.  But bacon isn’t the only thing that makes things better. I’ve been anxiously awaiting word from a literary agent for the past two weeks. Every email alert on my phone causes heart palpitations. I worry my manuscript isn’t good enough or that its message isn’t “Christian” enough. These worries lead me to believe that my meager faith just can’t do enough—which makes me worry even more. But today, Pastor Livingston taught about the “mighty man of valor,” and I felt better even before I ate my bacon. I don’t need to wonder if my faith is strong enough to win my war with...