Quiet…but Active

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Still quietly praying over here while life swirls wild all around.  And God? He’s up to something good…  Hearing prayers…  Changing hearts…  Moving mountains.

Praying for you as well, my friends.  May you know His power and His presence in very real ways as we continue to pray our way through October.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

Good Eats…

Today I’m giving an unsolicited shout out for a service we’ve been using and sharing a couple of really yummy recipes we’ve tried recently.

A few months ago we started using Emeals.  We’ve tried several of the menu plans and have most recently settled on the “Clean Eating” plan as it seems to more consistently fit with how we eat.  The weekly menus have provided some great variety to meal times that had been in a major rut and the pre-planned shopping lists are easy to add to my regular list each week.  Most of the meals are super quick and easy to prepare and will often provide leftovers for the weekend.   What I may love most about Emeals, though, is their lunch menu plan.  Lunch has long been a frustrating meal to make…I don’t want to cook in the middle of the day, it’s just the girls and me here, and it really needs to be quick with minimal clean up.  Their lunch menu plan has been a life-saver this year. It has provided some great variety, and all the meals are designed to be “packed” lunches, which means they are very quick and easy to prepare.  The girls and I have both enjoyed them very much.  Win win!

As much as we’ve enjoyed the Clean Eating plan, the past couple of week’s menus have been pretty heavy on red meat and fish (neither of which we eat much of), so I’ve been trying out some Pinterest recipes.  And I’m so glad I did!  Here are two that we have really enjoyed this week…

The first dish we tried was these Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas.  Oh my.  So good!  And pretty, too!  I never make pretty food, so that was an added bonus!  It seems like it’s a very flexible recipe as far as what veggies you use.  I just used what we had on hand – jalapeno peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, sweet potato, onion, and frozen corn.  Even the leftovers were delicious.  This one is definitely going in the regular meal rotation.

We also tried this tomato basil soup recipe.  This is the closest I have found to replicating Jason’s Deli’s tomato basil soup.  I don’t own an immersion blender and had to pour the mix into my blender and back to the pot.  An immersion blender would definitely be easier.  I served this soup with grilled cheese sandwiches on a cool, cloudy night this week.  Very, very yummy.

Tonight we’re having a modified version of this beans and rice recipe – cheap and easy, which is about all I’m up for at this point in the week.  🙂

How about you – what’s cooking at your house this week?

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

On clearing out the worry and putting on the armor….

Monday morning dawned with to do list overflowing its page and calendar squares bulging til the end of the year and an irritable crankiness settled in like a heavy fog.  And I grumbled against that to do list and these children and how home schooling just takes so.much.time.

And this morning as I sat at His feet and soaked up His word, still battling the irritability and anxiety, I read in Streams,

Do not fret. (Psalm 37:1)

I believe that this verse is as much a divine command as “You shall not steal”.  But what does it mean to fret?  One person once defined it as that which makes a person rough the surface, causing him to rub and wear himself and others away.

And isn’t that what I’ve done all week, what I do every time I allow life to overwhelm and crowd out the most important things?  I become rough on the surface and wear us all away. So I pray about schedules and priorities and how to put first things first and not let the urgent become a tyrant in our lives.  And today is a new day and I choose to trust God with our schedule and our time.

In the early morning dark I also read this quote from Ann,

Life’s not hard because you’re doing anything wrong:  Life is a battle.  Put on your armor.

And it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with schedules and surrendering our time to God, but it gives me strength today as I remember again that this life is not easy, it is a battle, so I should expect hard and I should expect challenges and I need to dress for war every day. But by surrendering my time, my expectations, my schedule to Him, I am freed to fight the battles He brings with both hands, rather than fighting one-handed while clinging fiercely to my own plans with the other.

And as I drove across town this week to get a tooth for a science project, I soaked in the silence but begrudged the trip out in the middle of busy.  But as I drove I talked to God and heard His Spirit whisper in the midst of my unhappy grumbling just give thanks.  Thanks for to do lists that will never be done.  Thanks for kids and projects that send you driving all over town collecting teeth or staying up helping with fundraisers or cleaning rooms you’ve helped clean a thousand times.  Thanks for the opportunity to die to myself and my own plans and to serve Christ by serving others, primarily my family.  And thanks for all the gifts He daily gives….

2154.  perfect fall days

2155.  a tour of the local fruit farm

2156.  apple cider slush

2157.  apple cider donuts

2158.  making happy memories

2159.  a pantry re-stocked

2160.  a couple of days off school

2161.  resting, relaxing, slowing where we can

2162.  thirteen miles run

2163.  a long, slow Saturday

2164.  laughing all evening long with old friends

2165.  seeing others give so generously to help the oldest go to Haiti

2166.  warm furnace turned on

2167.  girls in jammies all Saturday long

2168.  the Sunday crazy train and all it teaches me about grace and giving it abundantly

2169.  an honest, insightful letter from a daughter who struggles to find her place

2170.  a Spirit reminder to just say “thanks”

2171.  grocery day

2172.  fall riding in on a cool north wind

2173.  new shoes.  again

2174.  yummy new recipes and happily feeding my family

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I continue in my 31 days of prayer and I lift up prayers for a changed heart and eyes opened and a mind stayed on the truth of His Word.  I lift up prayers to continue to rest from the fretting and the wearing down of those around me and to daily put on my armor and die to myself and my plans.  And I lift up prayers that you would each know the realness of His presence in your life this week.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

Runaway Heart

She comes to me tear-stained and tired.  She says no one wants her here and no one cares, so she’s just going to leave.  She wants to run away and wasn’t I just saying the same thing yesterday?

I ask where she’ll go and how she’ll care for herself and what will she do.  And she says she doesn’t know but she’ll be safe because she has her Swiss army knife, an arrow, and God.

And I find her a little later, a couple houses down and I call her back and we talk and I hold her and ask her to just come inside and do her school and think this through a little more before she decides to go.  And she does and I try to go on with my day.

But isn’t this what we want to do when life gets hard?  We want to grab our water bottle and our arrows and run away.  Away from training, away from discipline, away from the tough love of our Father.  I realize it’s what I’ve always tried to do and I know I’ve always been a runner, even before I wore running shoes.  And this little girl, she has her mother’s heart: a heart that wants to escape and a heart that doesn’t like to do hard, a heart that wants to run away.

And my beloved sends me encouragement from the book of James, that book we just spent a year (or more) memorizing, that book I should know well but have somehow forgotten already.  He reminds me of chapter 1 and trials and temptations and counting it all joy.  And I ask myself, am I still running?  It is one thing to write about it and to say it to myself in the early morning quiet, but when it comes right down to it, and my child is carrying on irrational and the calendar is overflowing and it feels like this whole thing is going to come crashing down in one spectacular heap – am I then looking to God and saying, “Yes, Lord, even this – thank you.”  Am I running to my Jesus and saying thank you, even for this – for our daily stumbling and falling and facing imperfections?  Or am I picking up my weary heart and running the other direction – running to quietly nurse my wounds and hide myself away from the world and from the sinking feeling that I’m never going to get this right.

And I know I’m still a runner.  And my girl is a runner.  But I want us both to be running to Jesus, not running away.  And I’ve seen it on a few different blogs this week, how October started this year on a Monday and brought fall and a feeling of something fresh and why not commit to something for the 31 days of October.  And that Monday morning I knew what I’ve known since we came home from Haiti in February – I am to commit to pray.  Pray for my little family.  Pray for our hearts and our minds and our relationships and that we would all be children who run to their Father.

I don’t know what this will look like here online because it’s hard to get on consistently and write in the midst of school and home and life in general.  But will you join me in praying for our families for the remaining days of October – yours, mine, and all of those struggling around us?  May we lift ourselves and each other up to our Heavenly Father for strength, encouragement, and wisdom as we struggle to be lights in a darkened world.  And if we must run, “let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus.”  (Hebrews 12)  And as we think about running with perseverance, let us contemplate this definition that Matt shared with me:

Perseverance – a steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success; continuance in a state of grace leading finally to a state of glory.

Steadfastness despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.  Was I not just talking to my friend this morning about how it feels like we keep having these same struggles and will we ever see progress?  Am I being steadfast regardless?  And, oh, to continue in grace!  Grace that overflows from the throne of God, grace that I must simply ask for and gather like manna because He supplies it new every morning, grace that leads to glory.

Lord, as we embark on 31 days of prayer, may you bless our efforts.  May you draw us closer to your heart.  Open our eyes to see our families the way you do.  Give us renewed love and affection for our children, our spouses.  Give us steadfastness and love and mercy and grace.  Protect us from the fiery arrows of the evil one and may all that we do bring You glory.  Give us runners hearts that run to you with wild abandon.  And may our love for you spread like fire to those around us.  Amen.

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For His Glory ~

~ Sara

Fighting the Battle and Facing the Enemy

It’s Sunday morning and no matter how we prepare to avoid it, try to derail it, we board that weekly crazy train that sends the whole day into a tailspin.  Children bicker over shoes and outfits and hair accessories and through our own gritted teeth we say how much prettier they would look with a smile.  And on this particular Sunday I’m so thankful we’ve decided only to go to Sunday school, so I don’t have to referee the arguments during the sermon.

And it’s clear this day is going to be a doozy, because the arguments they pick up right where they left off after church and one child wails angry and another does everything in her power to aggravate.  One shuts herself up in her room and another is trying to figure out who to side with.  And I just want to run away.

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It’s Sunday night and we sit, the six of us, all crowded into our little sitting room, and we discuss angels and demons and the very real battle that is always taking place around us.  We discuss the full armor of God and how we are to dress ourselves, prepare ourselves, to engage in this battle, because even the most non-confrontational among us will be called to the front lines.

We talk first about the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of readiness given by the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit.  And then we talk about how we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, “but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12).  We talk about how our Enemy the Devil, he wants to distract us and confuse us and he does want us to wrestle against each other and how he does a victory dance every time he drives a wedge or builds a wall between us.  He doesn’t want us to love each other or be kind or obey or control our tongues and when we fight and bicker against each other he gains a foothold and he wins a battle for our hearts.  We talk about our instruction to be light to the dark and to help the poor and needy and to raise up children who love the Lord and how much Satan hates us for trying.  We affirm that we know Who ultimately wins the war, but these battles we fight every day are important and we can’t give up even one just because we’re too tired to fight.  We purpose to work together to fight this common enemy, rather than letting our enemy divide us.  We agree that God has given us each other to love and care for and protect, and to make us more like His Son, and that we are a team and we’re all working toward the same goal.

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And privately, we wonder do we make too much of this spiritual warfare thing.  No one talks about it much since our high school days and Frank Perretti books and perhaps it’s a bit too charismatic and maybe this is just life?  But in the past two years we have seen it, we have lived it, and my spirit knows somehow when it’s life and when it’s war.  The battle is real and Satan fights dirty and he knows the chinks in our armor and will aim his fiery arrows straight for us.  But we wait for a coming King, whose kingdom is not of this world, so why would the battles we fight be merely flesh and blood?

And in a small way that grows big, we can fight the battle of discouragement and discontent by daily listing His gifts – the good and the hard gifts.  Because if it all passes through His hand and it all has the ability to draw us closer, make us more like His Son, then is it not worth thanking Him for?  Is it not worth writing down and remembering?  Is it not worth a whispered, “Yes, Lord, even this….thank you.”?

2116.  cooler days

2117.  chilly nights with windows open

2118.  feet and legs that ache

2119.  hope that new shoes will help

2120.  continuing the hard struggle with one girl

2121.  an impromptu date night – a few hours away from the “sick ward”

2122.  God’s grace when I don’t deserve it

2123.  hope when I am discouraged

2124.  days that go horribly wrong

2125.  words of encouragement in the morning

2126.  hope overflowing

2127.  Haitian girl actually speaking to us over Skype

2128.  her silly, sweet smile

2129.  an unplanned “in service” day to give this sick mama time to rest

2130.  more rain

2131.  more coughing

2132.  never quite feeling caught up

2133.  an unexpected hour and a half in a quiet house

2134.  a lovely lunch hour run

2135.  laughing with my girls

2136.  heart burdened for one in particular

2137.  weeks that I’m happy just to make it through

2138.  a to do list too big to finish alone

2139.  a God who sees me

2140.  a beautiful fall Friday

2141.  a thirty minute nap

2142.  a home school soccer game

2143.  full moon hanging low over western sky

2144.  fog draped over grass

2145.  husband who gives up his morning workout to ride his bike with me while I run in early morning dark.

2146.  good friend who (literally) goes the extra mile (or two!) to help me finish my long run

2147.  jeans that feel looser

2148.  neighborhood cafe and incredible chips and guacamole

2149.  country dancing with everyone twenty years our senior

2150.  a good date night

2151.  family talks about spiritual warfare and  the battle we all really face

2152.  learning to fight together rather than fight each other

2153.  putting on the whole armor of God

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Praying that as you fight your own battles this week, you will be able to see His goodness in everything.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara