Weak Coffee

My dad used to say, “Weak coffee makes you sick.”  So whenever I can see through coffee, it reminds me of my dad & his helpful observations 🙂

Let’s also think about our Heavenly Father & His helpful observations, particularly about each of us. Here are some of God’s observations that can help us today:

  • God sees you through the lens of genuine love.
  • God says that nothing in your life is impossible.  
  • God has peace for your soul no matter what’s happening around you.

I’d encourage you to listen to God’s observations during this day & you’ll be very encouraged!

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Preparing for Mother’s Day

On Sunday, we celebrate the annual holiday, Mother’s Day. For lots of people, this is a wonderful day to remember the great care, nurture, sacrifices & relationships with their moms. And for other peeps, this holiday pokes a wound to remind them who their moms were not. So this holiday has a wide spectrum of reaction in consideration of our upbringing.
But more importantly, let’s be committed to the truth that God is our Heavenly Father, as reveled & confirmed to us by Holy Spirit, based on Romans 8:16. Let’s be certain that we honor our earthly moms but let’s live from the reality that we are the sons & daughters of our Heavenly Father. In this truth, we have our true identity, genuine love, unlimited power, eternal life, infinite resources & grace beyond the sky. Happy Mother’s Day!
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Short Supply

“Can I borrow some milk?” My former neighbor & I used to always borrow ingredients for cooking. Both of us were always busy, so it was abundantly helpful that we could text each other & have one of our kids run over whatever was missing (eggs, flour, sugar, milk, cumin, celery salt, etc). And we would often talk about how we had run out of patience, or run out of time, so it was very nice to have a friend who could sympathize with the “short supply” challenge.

Sadly, she moved a few years ago and my cooking has never been the same 🙂

And I’m super grateful that Jesus is never in short supply of everything I need! Indeed, Jesus has an oversupply of patience, grace, wisdom, time, energy, faith, genuine love, help, strength, . . . . To be sure, Jesus is the ultimate Provision for everything we need for all of this week and beyond!

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Timing Is Everything

“My time is not here yet, but your time is always opportune.” This is what Jesus said to his brothers in John 7:6, replying to their advice about His visibility and their marketing wisdom. And there’s lots of value in thinking about the right timing, alignment, relationships, resources, etc.

It seems to me that in our modern world, we don’t have much appetite for patience, refinement processes, aging, maturation and stuff like that. We want the results, but not the time that goes into having the results. And yet I see such massive value in the actual process, time spent, maturation journey. There is timeless wisdom and value in looking at life for the long view and not only the short-term gains. Indeed, since God is the author of time, we would be wise to trust in God’s timing and processes, but most of all that God deeply loves us!

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The Tired Toaster

I cleaned out our toaster over the weekend & noticed that the knobs are broken off, the base comes off of the body and there are a few exposed electrical wires. A day later, my husband suggested that I buy a new toaster. I explained that I cleaned it out over the weekend and it should be good to go, knobs being nothing more than convenient accessories. He smirked and said, “Sarah, the base is separating from the toaster & it could be a fire hazard.”

Hmmmmmm.

Like my worn out toaster, sometimes we can get worn down from life and grow comfortable being broken or dysfunctional. But genuine love will step into that quagmire and speak truth, redemption, hope, transformation and life. Let’s be available to speak gentle and loving words of truth and redemption. And let’s be open to receiving truth and life with genuine love!

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Nutritional Value

My husband & I enjoyed a delightful dinner at a “healthy” restaurant last night. The menu overflowed with nutritional options, including the desserts. My indulgence was a chia parfait and I wasn’t expecting anything very tasty. Indeed, my kids will often associate consuming healthy stuff with things being flavorless, at best. More often they think that healthy is flavor repulsive. So it was nice to be pleasantly surprised with the delicious chia parfait!

I wonder if it wouldn’t be helpful to consider nutrition in not only a food context, but also in the contexts of our attention, spiritual disciplines, relationships, intellectual pursuits, time management, conversations, etc. And ultimately, no one & no thing is more tasty or healthy than a deepening walk with God! Indeed, let us taste and see that the Lord is good! Psalm 34:8 🙂

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What Smells?

How often have you smelled a perfume or cologne & it reminds you of someone you know?  Or maybe you played sports & when you smell a certain soap it brings back those memories from showering off the workout / practice sweat. 

In the same way, we can leave a lingering smell / residue in our interactions with people. To this end, think about the people who leave a “bad taste in your mouth” & how you might try avoiding them. On the other side, think about those people with whom you interact & you find yourself smiling, cozy on the inside & wanting more interaction. 

I would propose that genuine love is what all of us want & the exchanges that have genuine love leave a healthy & desirable residue. With Jesus’ help, let’s aim to leave a sweet smell from our people interactions!

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The Frozen Turkey

Imagine my surprise at 8:30am on Thanksgiving morning, when I unwrapped our turkey, only to discover that it was still frozen, with company expecting delicious & cooked turkey at 1pm.  My son was helping me & our faces reflected mutual freaking out!!  I was even pulling ice out of the cavity & trying to troubleshoot solutions.  Long story short, we had a delicious, fully cooked turkey & no one got sick eating it 🙂

In the meantime, my son was the hero who helped me avert a Thankgsiving disaster and here are a few things he did that could be helpful when you face a possible cataclysm or fiasco:

  • Assess the situation and don’t freak out – gather as much info as possible to grasp the extent of the possible disaster:  Everything was frozen on and in the turkey
  • Start thinking of little steps to make the situation better:  We ran hot water on the outside of the turkey, as well as in the cavity
  • Keep working with the incremental improvements:  We stopped up the sink so that hot water could get around the turkey as much as possible
  • Thoroughly inspect the progress:  We frequently inspected the mobility of the legs to see if they were unthawed (greater flexibility = less frozen)
  • Be positive & encouraging:  “Mom, I think we’re making some good headway in unthawing this bird!”  That was really encouraging to me!!!
  • Teamwork:  Appreciate that we are better together than trying to do catastrophes alone

The outcome of our efforts was a delicious turkey & a delightful meal.  Possibly more important, I learned LOADS of helpful tips on cooking turkeys, I had a significantly bonding experience with my son and I now know how to cook a turkey at a fast speed 🙂

Happy belated Thanksgiving to you!!

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Do The Work :)

Welcome to Monday, the start of a work week for some of us, or the start of a school week for those who are students.  Wherever you find yourself on this day, there are things in front of you and me that we need to do.  Maybe you need to work on a school assignment, write a paper or study for a test.  Maybe you need to write some emails, craft a proposal, flip a hamburger, wash a toilet, load the dishwasher, drive to a soccer practice, grade some papers, manage a project, crunch some numbers, etc.  No matter what, all of us have stuff we need to do today – do the work.

And this is part of God’s design for each of us.  You and I are uniquely designed to participate in and accomplish things.  How we do such work is the real issue, even more than what we do.  So here are some helpful ideas about how we do our work:

  • work as unto the Lord and not to man – Colossians 3:23
  • keep a grateful heart – 1Thessalonians 5:18
  • stayed focused and eliminate distractions – Proverbs 4:25
  • maintain genuine love – 1Corinthians 16:14
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Doing Difficult

As I parent my own teenagers, I am increasingly recognizing the boatloads of magnificent stuff my parents invested in me when I was growing up & I’m massively grateful!  Much of my appreciation for the Bible, beauty & creativity, as well as Holy Spirit can largely be attributed to my parents & their influence on me.  Additionally, my parents taught me heaps about doing what’s difficult, rather than shying away.

Do you have difficult things in your life?  Difficult things can include:  internal mindsets, challenging work situations, relationships, school classes, bad habits, etc.  Here are some verses that you could pray to help you do what’s difficult:

  • Phil 4:13, I can do all things through Christ who strengths me
  • 1John 4:4, Greater is He Who is in you than he that is in the world
  • 2Cor 2:14, God leads us into triumph
  • Rom 5:5, God’s love is poured into your heart through the Holy Spirit
  • James 1:5, Ask God for wisdom & He’ll give it to you liberally

Feel free to send this to anyone you know who could be struggling to do difficult things!

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Easy or Hard?

I like the “easy button” and easy for me includes: washing dishes, ironing, international travel, languages, grocery shopping, simple cooking and reading my Bible.  In contrast, I don’t like to do stuff that’s hard, which includes:  getting in shape, seeing suffering babies, recovering from jet lag and being gracious rather than snarky.

No doubt, you have your own lists of things that are easy and hard.  But just because something is hard, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done or we shouldn’t try to do it.  I say this because of my morning Bible reading in Philippians 2:7, where Paul says about Jesus, “He emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.”  This verse speaks to Jesus entering the human race, from start to finish, and experiencing human existence.  From my perspective, I would think that might have been difficult for Jesus to do – but He did it nonetheless.

If God asks you to do hard stuff, ask for divine Help and try!  Whethere something is hard or easy, let’s pre-decide to remain obedient and faithful to God!

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Keep Getting Better!

I make a pretty good roast chicken, but this hasn’t always been true. Indeed, for countless years, my roast chickens were “dry & tasteless”, to quote one of my offspring. I tried lots of different things to make it taste better: stuffing the cavity w herbs, water in the pot w a lid & lots of other stuff. Alas, I almost quit trying, but I didn’t. Instead, I decided to try getting better even just by little steps.
I’m the type of person who wants to see big steps of progress & when I only see millimeters, I can get discouraged. So I want this blog to encourage you on little bits of better if you’re discouraged w the absence of giant leaps of progress. And remember that a little better can apply to heaps of areas in your life: exercise, discipline, Bible reading, relationships, school grades, etc.  Gal 6:9 🙂
And my giant leap progress for doing an awesome roast chicken happened when I cut out the backbone, seasoned both sides w salt / pepper & broiled it on the bottom rack 🙂
I no longer make dry & tasteless roast chicken 🙂

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Ready for Christmas?

Now that Thanksgiving is in the rear view mirror, Christmas is ready to take center stage. And with Christmas , come all the associated activities: decorating, parties, concerts, shopping, cookies, wrapping, etc. In the midst of the hub bub, let’s keep our hearts & focus attentive to Jesus. He’s a really quick video that could help you keep your focus on Jesus throughout this holiday season:

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Too Much Gratitude

I don’t like cinnamon & this is only a recent development. Maybe I  don’t like cinnamon because at this time year, everything seems to have cinnamon: coffee, ice cream, apple cider, pies, smoothies, etc.
So it’s possible to overdose cinnamon, but I  don’t think it’s possible to overdo gratitude. Maybe we should think in terms of spreading thanksgiving throughout the year & not only a seasonal overdose. Feel free to leave a comment to express something or someone for which you’re grateful!

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A Lavish Feast

Jesus told a parable about a rich dude who made an elaborate feast, with abundant food. The dude went to extravagant lengths to prepare, complete with invitations, massive amounts of food & loads of servants to facilitate this magnificent party. When the servants went out to let the invitees know that the party was ready for them to attend, none of the invited peeps showed up. This was very rude because the dude hosting the party had killed several animals to abundantly provide food for his party. Now, he’s stuck with all these provisions & no one to eat them. Rather than letting everything go to waste, the party host sent out his servants to invite anyone & everyone to come to his party.
Here are some important take aways for us from this parable:

  • God has made an extravagant feast for everyone – there’s more than enough!
  • As God’s servants, let’s keep inviting people to experience God’s lavish love for them
  • There’s room at the table for you, your friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, . . . .
    “Come & Dine!”, the Master calls!
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When the Sizzle Fizzles

I like the sizzle. This means that stuff that’s fun, exciting, zingy & zesty catch my attention. I would suspect that possibly on occasion, you’ve also been attracted to stuff that sizzles. But it’s often true that sizzle stuff doesn’t always endure.
Then what??
Regardless of the presence of absence of sizzle, what’s important is to stay the course & endure! Sizzles fizzle, but endurance wins the prize. I say this based on Mathew 25:23 where Jesus says, “Well done, My good & faithful servant.” Let’s remain faithful & steady regardless of the presence or absence of any sizzle!

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Enjoying Contrasts

I have a child who enjoys classical music & rap. For me, these contrasts don’t match up too well, but to each his own.

I also made an interesting blueberry pie a few days ago where the recipe called for goat cheese & chopped almonds / more contrasts. The pie was like a party in my mouth because of the complementing contrasts: tangy goat cheese & sweet blueberries as well as crunchy almonds & soft blueberries. These contrasts were super pleasant although not something I’d usually consider.

That’s the interesting thing with contrasts: we don’t normally put contrasts together because they often seem to compete rather than blend & complement. But alas, this is how much of following Jesus seems to play out.
For example:

  • Jesus applauded Peter for acknowledging Him as the Son of God but He rebuked Peter for shooting off his mouth;
  • Jesus demonstrates genuine love in the face of abhorrent & brutal humanity;
  • we are to each celebrate our unique gifts & talents while blending them into the Body of Christ for mutual benefit

Navigating contrasts for spiritual growth requires us to pay attention to the Holy Spirit & remain steady in our commitment to genuinely love 🙂

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Are You Gluten Intolerant?

Many people are removing gluten from their eating for allergy & health reasons so it’s increasingly common to hear from people that they’ve eliminated bread from their diet.
There’s one bread, however, that we would be wise to increase for our daily consumption – the Bread of Life, who is Jesus!


Lately, I’ve been trying my hand at baking bread with mixed results. But there are four basic steps to letting Jesus, the Bread of life, participate in our daily living:

  1. Assemble ingredients – be sure to always have time in the Bible & prayer everyday
  2. Mix ingredients – keeping prayer & the Bible in isolated compartments will never be as effective as letting them mix throughout our days, activities, relationships, conversations & responsibilities
  3. Proof – time for the rise is essential for bread to have a palatable texture & taste; let’s be careful not to get impatient during the process or proofing
  4. Bake – heat is necessary for the bread to be portable, practical & edible; Jesus helps us through all of life’s hotspots!

Eat good bread, the Bread of Life!

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What Do You Repeat?

Do you have mindless habits? All of us have things that we do without giving much thought to them, such as brushing our teeth, driving home, morning routines, etc. It can be really helpful to have these kind of routines, but sometimes they’re counterproductive.

For example, in Luke 10, Martha & Mary had Jesus come to their house for dinner. Based on Martha’s behavior in other stories in the Gospels, it seems like she fell into the routine of cooking, serving & being busy with getting stuff done. All of these things aren’t inherently wicked, but if we allow our routines to sabotage our fellowship with Jesus, then they become more of a hindrance than a help.
Let’s always remember that Jesus said in Matthew 6:33 to seek His kingdom first & we’ll have what we need! Let’s be sure our routines reinforce our intimacy with Jesus rather than distract us in mindless disconnect 🙂

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Highminded & A Warm Heart

I woke up this morning to -7degree temperature. Thankfully our heater works well but my body definitely felt the chill, which compelled me to keep my heart warm. Sometimes it’s easy in the hustle & bustle of this season to get cold hearted, detached & insensitive. Regardless of the external temperature or the demands that we have, let’s endeavor to remain warm hearted.
As for our brains, part of my Bible reading this morning was in Colossians 3:2 where Paul tells us to set our minds above. To me, this means that i keep my thoughts out of the low things & stuff that’s fleshy.
I want to actively chose to set my mind in things above & keep my heart warm regardless of what’s happening around me. Who’s on board with that plan??

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What Seduces You?

Nothing.

That’s a stupid question.
But actually, it’s a very important question because what seduces us can give us insight into weak spots & things that can possibly cause us to go off the rails.
For me, I’m a bit of an odd duck. What seduces me isn’t chocolate, wealth, image, clothes, etc. I’m more enamored with intellectual stuff, March Madness & the NCAA college basketball tournament, along with adventure & exhilaration.
Let’s be sure that we keep the stuff that interests us in proper alignment to our love for Jesus. If I let my interests in college basketball, intellectual pursuits or thrill seeking get more intense than my passion & love for Jesus, then I’ve become a victim to idolatry.
We don’t intentionally set out to be idolaters but that’s the problem with seduction. It’s subtle & creeps up on you often before you recognize it.
This is one of the reasons I so deeply love the Holy Spirit who keeps me away from deception & distortion while staying passionately in love with Jesus! Let’s pay attention to the things that seduce us!

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Hurray for Practice!

My family made the Thanksgiving meal yesterday & it was a smashing success! I’m not saying this to brag, but rather to acknowledge years of practice that have finally culminated in success – YAHOOOO!! In any given year in the past, I was practicing on how to cook a turkey that wasn’t dry or under-done. I was also practicing a few other dishes to make them not only edible but also tasty! And this year, I’m celebrating success!!!

We all want to be successful, but we don’t often celebrate the practice required to be successful – so let’s take a moment to applaud attempts & failures more than victories 🙂

Here are some things that help us to be successful:

Teamwork: yesterday, my whole family pitched in to make various parts of the meal & no one was unraveled by too much work!
Practice: keep trying!!
Testing: the guests that came to our meal were the testers. It helps immensely to have objective input on our journey to success

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Hot Topic: Pivot Gratitude

 

Happy Thanksgiving! In the US, we celebrate being thankful today, enumerating our blessings & acknowledging the abundance that we have. But alas, sometimes the mindset that looks for abundance can get disappointed. Indeed, on this day, we often turn a blind eye to the deficiencies we have, choosing to ignore lack or gloss over the absence of things we want.

Let’s pivot this thinking. Today, I’m not only thankful for what I have, but I’m also thankful for what I don’t have.

I’m grateful that God doesn’t give me everything I want because this would be very destructive to my soul. I’m grateful for struggles & hardships because I don’t develop patience & persistence without such struggles (James 1:2-4). And let’s not forget Paul who was thankful for the thorn in his flesh in 2Cor 12:9ff because this thorn cultivated reliance on Jesus like nothing else in his life.
Let’s not only be thankful for abundance but let’s be grateful for some difficulties as well. And of course, let’s always be mindful to encourage & love the people around us! We can’t always understand their decisions but we can always chose to be loving & encouraging!
Be super clear that I’m thankful for you! Feel free to pass this along to friends & family today! It could be really helpful to lots of peeps!

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Hungry Shopper

Weekly grocery shopping when I’m hungry is tricky, particularly when the store has samples. What happens is that regardless of my list, I can impulse buy & come home with some random stuff.

Sometimes, I think we do the same thing with stuff that’s not just food related. There are times when I can be struggling with some emotional stuff or various pressures & I’ll divert my attention with some sports thing or pick up an interesting book.
What usually works the best for me when I find myself struggling is to let my heart settle deeply into God’s love for me. Rather than being impulsive, let’s train our appetites to crave Jesus, the greatest fulfillment & solution in our lives 🙂

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Enough?


I used to have an insatiable appetite for good coffee, not so much bad coffee. Thankfully, I’ve had an intervention so I’m not quite the junkie I once was. But this journey has started me to think about some things in new ways. It seems like the human experience suggests that we can never get enough – not enough money, not enough time, not enough recognition, not enough care or attention, not enough . . . .
I think our perspective on the idea of “enough” gets warped because we focus on the provision more than the Provider.

Somehow we’ve swallowed the poison that provision can replace Provider & we chase the illusion of enough.

When I was a coffee junkie, I could never get enough. I believe that the enemy of our soul would endeavor to perpetuate this illusion through the continuous acquisition but never sustaining pursuit of provision rather than Provider.

Indeed, let us seek first the kingdom of God & everything falls into divine order.

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