Here’s the Truth

Here’s the Truth
[In my super clever, just-getting-over-influenza brain tonight I felt like taking a selfie. .. ? And not doctoring it up… ????? It’s midnight. I’m insane. So I found this picture of me and my really adorable sister instead, in my book she makes it 10x better.]

Ok so this is not the point entirely, but it’s been a seriously long time since I’ve felt I could actually take a selfie of just me cause I’m a typical person who has issues. I don’t need to list them because you know we all have them to one degree or other. But what’s been on the forefront of my thoughts in the midst of all that is God is always there in the midst of it. He is THE refuge and fortress, my God in whom I trust. Yeah I feel pretty insecure and hopeless sometimes, but even though this world is a mess and it just seems to be getting worse, God promised He will never leave us or forsake us.

This place is full of bad stuff, but He’ll never stop being our refuge. There is real actual peace that is in that fortress. It’s hard sometimes; just being honest, it’s super difficult to find that peace when your heart is overwhelmed and you feel like there’s no way to repair the damage. But while it’s the hardest time ever to open your heart to trusting anything or anyone, it’s the most vital time to give it over to Him. Losing that control is hard. So hard. But it’s so worth it. He died for you. And then He lived again for you. He’s more powerful than even death. He’s so tender that He invites in the worst and cares for them, and so mighty that it took a mere “Peace! Be still” spoken to the waves, and they submitted to Him.  He’s the One who saved Peter from drowning when he lost his focus, He walked on waters, healed the blind, and forgave those who tortured killed Him. And the coolest thing is that in spite of how ridiculously awful we actually are, He asks us to be with Him forever. He’s giving you that chance today. And tomorrow. He’s giving you the chance every day. It’s hard to open your heart when it’s been scarred and bruised with so much of this world’s tumultuous strains, but opening your heart to Him and letting go will be the best decision you will ever make. You’ll still be a bit crazy and you’ll still have weirdo issues, but with God on your side and in control those issues get different; you learn about His grace, you learn about forgiving others and forgiving yourself and asking for forgiveness. Your heart changes, because that’s what He does when you allow Him to do His work in you. It’s a fantastic process. You know that He’s Your refuge and fortress through it all, the One you can cling to when your world is falling apart. It’s hard, but really worth it. Give your heart to Him, and you get to be in eternity’s paradise forever with Him.

That’s the Truth.

I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.‘”
Psalm 91:2

“And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.”
Mark 4:39

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
John 3:16

 

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Bow the Knee

Bow the Knee

Bow The Knee – (Lyrics) Ron Hamilton

Within this song is a glimpse of 8-year-old Elizabeth.

In room 809 of the old, 13-story training center in Indianapolis I woke up to what my little heart was convinced was angels. I was in a romantic daze from it’s effect on my soul the rest of the day. Through “Bow the Knee”, little Elizabeth Joy experienced a gentle whisper of heaven and God’s peace that would guide her for the rest of her life.

Since then, verses and songs have clung to my heart in similar ways, and I’ve found it to be one of the most wonderful gifts God has made available to His precious creation. There have been far too many times throughout my life that I’ve forgotten the great things God has done through Scripture and music in my daily wanderings, and I have had seasons of doubt, fear, and even anger towards God. But I was recently touched by a verse that reminded me the vitality of remembering His works in our lives:

“Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice, for the LORD has done great things!”
(Joel 2:21, ESV)

Remember. Recall those little miracles, every morning you woke up and were joyful, every moment you learned of a new birth. The feeling of springtime and the smell of fall, and knowing who has control over even the snowflakes, and puts inspiration in the hearts of people to spend time helping to mend broken hearts and homes. That child who smiled at you when you during a rotten afternoon; the lady on your way to work who complemented you on your hair; the unexpected gift card; that moment when a song spoke to you and gave you hope when you thought there was none.

Never forget how He has provided for you in the wilderness.

He is so faithful to provide.

“But I trust in your unfailing love;
    my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
    for he has been good to me.”
Psalm 13:5-6 (NIV)

One October 31st

There are a lot of October 31st’s in history. I don’t remember what I did October 31st last year, but everyone remembers what happened 500 years ago today: Martin Luther, a man on the pursuit of what it meant to be a Christ-follower, felt compelled to make a stand. He brought to light what had been in darkness and bodly presented these things before higher authorities. He did what God had called him to do. On October 31st, many people have risen and fallen. On countless October 31st’s  the unpopular and unnoticed followed God’s calling in their lives and made significant impacts that most of us may take for granted. Martin Luther made the choice to do something big in his life. And we’ve remembered it. But what is big to this world is like a breath of wind to God.

Jesus witnessed a poor widow giving all she had, and it may not have seemed to her as though it would make much of a difference in the ultimate financial need if she inserted the only two coins she had into the offering box at the synagogue. But it touched the heart of Jesus in a very meaningful way. That offering she gave was big in her perspective. That was her step of faith. It was kind of a big deal. Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the church door. That was his step of faith. And we remember the exact date to this day.

On October 31st, 2017, what is your step of faith? On November 1st, will you answer God’s call? On November 2nd, will you choose  to do something for Jesus that is out of your comfort zone? Perhaps your calling is to reach out in friendship to the next Billy Graham who has yet to hear the Gospel. Perhaps it’s to share what God has laid on your heart recently with a random friend. Perhaps your duty in this moment is to benefit God’s Kingdom by being faithful in this season in which God has purposefully place you, or your calling could even include traveling to China for missions work, nail the next 95, or give your next paycheck to Jesus.

Martin Luther and the poor widow both did great things. They may have seemed small in the world’s perspective at the time. Don’t be afraid to step out in faith, out of your own comfort zone as God’s treasured child; you could make a bigger impact than you know.

And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.

Mark 12:41-44

God Is In Control

God Is In Control

If you don’t read anything else in this post, read this. I don’t care that it’s cliche: GOD’S ACTUALLY IN CONTROL.
He is beyond huge enough to deeply care about your problems.

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
-Matthew 10:29-31

When you experience a crisis, what is your go-to solution?
Are you going to try and fix it yourself?
Are you going to blame God for it?
**or**
Will you drop to your knees and seek God as your number one solution?
Will you praise God for another situation that could strengthen your character for God’s Kingdom?
My heart has been CHANGED by the One who has set me free and opened my eyes to see that He is HERE. He is with me at every moment, and He cares, because I am His child, and He grieves when I stumble and lose my way and reject His hand which extends me grace and joy beyond human comprehension.
Abandon the idea that you’ve got this and adopt the mindset that God’s got this.
Because He DOES.
I believe this with all my heart.
Choose to open your eyes and see that He has got everything under control.

“When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you? My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” -Psalm 73:22-26

Recipe 9: Cheese Cake, Quick Method (Ostkaka)

Recipe 9: Cheese Cake, Quick Method (Ostkaka)

In the beginning of June I started working for a quaint little gluten-free restaurant on main street as my summer job, and by the end of the summer they’d given me the nickname “baking Betsy”. I thoroughly enjoyed baking there, but since I began to do it more often I felt incredibly unmotivated to do anything more at home. But I really want to conclude the summer with just one more.

And the grande finale is…cheese cake!

Honestly, it was because I didn’t have the ingredients for the next recipes in alphabetical order.

I had the perfect excuse: my friends and I were bringing food to go watch one of my favorite movies before we parted ways for college. I chose the easy method because I got a late start.

This recipe was very simple: cottage cheese, flour, eggs, sugar, grated lemon rind, pulverized cardamom seeds, and whipping cream. When I let my “guinea-pigs” in on the ingredients, every one of them said, “Hm. Sounds healthy.”
About as healthy as pancakes, if we’re being honest.

[quick side note: I saw a meme recently about how breakfast is so great because it’s the only meal where you can eat dessert for the main dish. Yikes, people!]

On to the procedure: it took me a good 8 minutes to press the cottage cheese as directed through the sieve. But everything else flew by and was fairly uneventful. I actually remembered to record the prep time, and it was almost exactly one half hour. Mom helped me put the pan of cheese cake mix into another large pan of boiling hot water to put in the oven. I don’t actually know why that was required, but apparently this is typical for cheesecakes.

The cheesecake took an hour and a half in my oven out of the hour and a quarter suggested time.

My adorable friends fancied their slices up for the picture. In the pan, it was about an inch and a half thick, and was very typical, yellowish cheesecake color. It only cracked a tiny bit in the middle. The texture was very moist, probably because I was in a hurry to get it out of the oven, but also very highly because it’s the quick cheesecake method.

I served it with raspberry jelly which I mixed with a little water to make it more like syrup to serve. My friends said it was really good with the jelly. I’ve noticed with most of these recipes I’ve done, the recipe itself is a bit bland, but they always offer some sort of topping to go with it which makes it taste so much better.

There were plenty of leftovers, and my grandparents and parents got to enjoy it too. My grandparents absolutely adored it. My mom is a cheesecake fanatic and wasn’t too ecstatic.

In my opinion, if you don’t consider it to be a cheesecake dessert then it’s a great snack.

My rating: ★★★☆☆
(realistically, a 3.5 star rating. But that darned half-star isn’t available.)

Thanks for reading! This has been a fun experiment, and my goal was accomplished: I now love to bake.

Next up (maybe someday…), learning to love cooking. 😉

Recipe 8: Caramel Bread Pudding (Brödpudding)

Recipe 8: Caramel Bread Pudding (Brödpudding)

I rushed up to grandpa as he walked in and asked if he’d like to be the first one to try my creation and also that he’d get to be a model if he did. I handed him a plate of it as soon as he said yes and I snapped some pictures. Forgive me for my camera phone’s quality, but I think my grandpa’s pretty cute:

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The caramel bread pudding was fairly easy to make. I meant to make it the day before, and was completely prepared to track the prep time, but I got distracted with other shiny things. Yesterday, however, I managed to actually make it, and had so much fun that of course I forgot to record the prep time. Again.

I scalded the milk first, then added the melted sugar it required, and the result was not expected! Apparently when you add melted sugar to scalded milk it hardens immediately in a big bubble of what looks like a solidified, brown mushroom cloud. But this candied explosion dissolved in about four minutes, and it made me really miss science classes. Not really. I just wished my science classes had been that exciting.

I had the eggs ready and added them as soon as the sugar was dissolved, then mixed half of that concoction to the prepared bread crumbs in a separate bowl. The half without the breadcrumbs I added vanilla and salt, then put that into the breaded stuff as well. All of that was put into a small casserole dish and into the oven for almost an hour and a half.

It was required to bake for 55-60 minutes, but after several extra 7-minute increments, I gave up and let it be super…moist.

I made some whipped cream to put on top for as soon as it was cooled. No one else tried this dessert without the whipped cream, so everyone in my family gave it a 4 out of 5 stars. Mom said it was a little bit like pumpkin pie. I somewhat agree, but I thought it tasted a little more on the mushed graham crackers side because I was the only one who ate it without the whipped cream, so consequently…

My rating: ★★★☆☆

The recipe was fun and fairly easy to make. But I would personally consider it more of a snack or a breakfast sweet than specifically a dessert. It wasn’t especially unique, and the caramel taste was barely noticeable. I think it would give it a fun taste with some nutmeg or a some such festive spice. But to enhance the caramel flavor it might be helpful to include some corn syrup and butter. Aside from oven time, it probably took me about 15 minutes to throw it together.

On Prayer, Part 2: It Affects You

On Prayer, Part 2: It Affects You

 

I wish we were sitting across from each other at a quaint little coffee shop with ice cold frappes in our hands. The things I want to share with you are so much a part of my life and so impactful on my heart right now I feel as though we must be in person to convey these things accurately. But alas, you’re way over there and I’m way over here. Let’s imagine we have frappes though, because wow it’s warm in northern Illinois right now!

Recently, I was reminded through one of Jesus’ Gospel parables about the importance of praying earnestly. Boldly coming before the Father with your request and taking it to Him not just once but many times is huge. I decided to have a go at this myself, and pleaded with God on behalf of something that has been really impacting my life, and I included the plea for love and joy to fill my heart as I waited. I am so aware that my actions are often so selfish and I can do little about it in my own power, so praying for God to adjust my heart with genuine love and His joy has become a necessary factor for me. Throughout the day, God did not fulfill the initial request, but He changed my attitude about it, and in addition He filled me with a rare amount of a unique love and joy that I hadn’t experienced before. Because of various situations just in that day alone, it couldn’t help but be pointed directly at God, because I knew that I was completely incapable of conjuring up those qualities in myself! And this happened because the Holy Spirit led me to that passage that reminded me of praying to Him earnestly. That day, Hebrews 11:6 became very real to me: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”

There have been many times that I have prayed for something in my life to change: for pain to go away, for finances, for getting accepted into a university, for a plethora of things. And you may have heard the saying that either God says “yes”, “no”, or “wait”. Often, it’s the dreaded “wait”, during which you’re not even sure if God heard you. But rest assured, He certainly did. When you come to Him, intentionally seeking Him out, He absolutely does hear you. And that waiting period is so very difficult. But this is what I’ve found to be so very true during those times of waiting and praying earnestly and diligently: He changes your attitude. There have been times when He was preparing me for the death of a dream, and what incurred was the result of a “no”, but He had something far better in store. Sometimes too that initial desire was in preparation for what was to come in its place. Waiting resulting in the answer “yes” is also a good preparation period, during which God is molding your character.

And there is so much more to prayer than even that. Building your relationship with God requires communication just like any other relationship, and this relationship with the Creator of the stars is a life-changing, heart-altering experience. And I can’t wait to tell you more about it soon and continue with our frappes!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Jeremiah 29:11-13