Tuesday, July 20, 2010

"When your children ask later..."

This morning's sermon and our life group's discussion on moving from depression to dependence rekindled my desire to pass on the stories of God's faithfulness in the life of our family.  Below is a repost of the original post about our Remembrance Stones.  The kids are even more grown up now!  As I watch each of them grow physically and more importantly spiritually, I'm reminded often of God's faithfulness! 

These stones now will be added to in order to remind each of us in our family that we CAN and SHOULD depend on our faithful Father.  "All I have need of His hand will provide.  He's always been faithful to me."

Original Post:

As you can see in the picture, our children are growing up...FAST.  (This picture is nearly a year old...the boys have changed a lot even in the last year.)  Brooke will be going away to college in less than a month now.  Blake and Cody are driving now.  Dale will be starting high school just a couple of days before Brooke leaves for school.  It seems like yesterday they were all babies...oh how well Doug and I remember the days of a booster seat, 2 bulky car seats, and a baby carrier.  We have so many stories of their growing up days that I'm sure many of you have heard...probably more than once. Have you heard the story of the 'car fly' or the story of the diaper incident when we thought Blake and Cody were napping or what about Brooke's rendition of the song "I Shall Not Be Moved" when she was two or maybe the story of how Dale sang the "I Know a Song that Gets on Everybody's Nerves" ALL the way to FLORIDA?  We never tire of remembering and sharing stories of our children.  If you are a parent or a grandparent, I'm sure you are the same.

Many months ago, I started following the blog of a wonderful Christian woman who has a weekly feature called Memorial Box Monday.  (The blog is http://aplacecalledsimplicity.blogspot.com/ .  You can check out her blog and see her reasoning and thinking behind how she does her Memorial Box.) 

Anyway, it got me to thinking.  I'm so quick to tell stories about my children and family.  I tell my children stories of themselves and our family so that they have those stories to tell their children, but do I purposefully tell them stories of God and His goodness and His love and His faithfulness so that they can experience it and then pass it on to their children in the future?  I had to answer...not nearly enough.  As a matter of fact, many times I would tell stories or recount the events in our lives and tell the details of the event and completely leave God out of it.  Did I do that on purpose?  No, but was it still wrong?  Yes. 

Throughout the Bible, we are instructed to teach our children of the faithfulness of God so that they can and will teach their children.  In Joshua 4, the Lord instructed Joshua to use stones as a memorial for what the Lord had done for the Israelites when they had crossed the Jordan.  We should in some way be doing something so that we not only remember but pass on stories of God's faithfulness to our kids.

For example, when Cody was in the first grade he fell about 16-18 feet out of a tree when the branch he was standing on broke.  He fell into a dry creek bed.  Cody had a major compression fracture in his back, and he broke a small bone in his foot near the growth plate.  I've told that story many times over the course of his life.  I remember using words like..."It's AMAZING that he wasn't hurt worse than that."  "It could have been so much worse."  Both of those statements are true, but the TRUE TRUTH is that God protected Cody during that fall.  God kept Cody from landing on his neck.  God gave me the strength and determination to demand that the doctors x-ray Cody's back when they were refusing.  God saw us through those days of Cody having to be flat on his back and very still until they could custom make a brace for him.  God sent family and friends to minister and care for our family.  God saw us through the months of Cody being in a hard-shell brace and wheelchair.  Some people may say that God wasn't there or He would have kept Cody from falling.  I not only say, but know that God was there and did protect Cody.  Now, it is a story of God's faithfulness that we will share with our children and they will share with their children.

With that being said, we all know there are so many stories of times when God has been faithful in our lives AND our human minds tend to forget.  So how do we make sure that we have those stories to pass on?   There are many ways that different families choose to do this.  Our family has discussed this for a long time and have had many ideas. 

For now, we are doing a Remembrance Stone Box.  We've just started this project.  I thought I'd share some pictures with you.  We started with a planter box.  We collected flat, smooth rocks from a creek.  It was fun to try to find rocks with odd shapes and colors. 

Brooke painted a scripture on each side of the box.

Then, we took the stones and wrote brief descriptions of times in our family's life when God was faithful.  When we can remember the date, we write the date.  The stones are reminders.  Obviously there is not room for the whole story.  These are reminders so that when we see them we remember the story.  We only have a few of the rocks with messages on them right now.  We're adding to them a little at a time.  As we need to, we'll add rocks. 

The box sits on our coffee table in our living room.  (My friend, Dawn, from church knew someone who used their remembrance stones in this way.  Thanks for the idea, Dawn!)  So now it serves a dual purpose.  If someone is visiting our home, we hope it becomes a conversation piece.  After all, we have a box of rocks on our table.  This will open up the door for conversations about how good our God is!

So now, when our children (or grandchildren or anyone who comes into our home) ask later what are those rocks for, we'll answer with hearts full of love and thanksgiving as we tell of God's faithfulness!

Do you have a way that your family shares stories of God's faithfulness in your lives?  I'd love to hear your ideas!


Friday, July 16, 2010

But God...

As I was reading this morning in Psalms after my study in 1 John, I came across some of my favorite words in scripture...


Over the years, as I've studied, read, and listened to the Bible being taught, some of the words that always send chills through my body or grab my attention the most are...


Now, I'm not talking about the way we use the phrase in our sinful whiny ways.  "But GO-O-O-D-D-D!  That didn't go the way I wanted it to go.  Can you fix it please?"  or "But GO-O-O-D-D-D!  I always try to do the right thing and it seems that bad things are always happening to me."  or  "But GO-O-O-D-D-D!  I only went here or did that one time.  Why should I face the consequences?" or "But GO-O-O-D-D-D! You didn't answer that prayer just the way I had planned or wanted you to."  I'm sure if you close your eyes and listen, you can hear the voice of a child screaming, "But Dad!"  Well, sometimes we're the same way with God.  However, I digress...that is not the wonderful BUT GOD I'm talking about today.  You'll  have to excuse me, because just thinking about those little GIANT words, gets me so excited!

There is no way I could give you an exhaustive list, but I want to share a few BUT GOD instances from the Bible.  These are so encouraging!  When we're tempted to whine and complain and dig deeper into our own pitiful pity pit, we should stop and think...BUT GOD!

 Genesis 45:6-8 (New International Version)
6 For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. 7 BUT GOD sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.



Are you in a time of financial famine, perhaps?  Is there a drought in another area of your life?  Been there, done that...would have bought the t-shirt, but didn't have the money.  Dear friends, BUT GODIf He can save a land and people from famine that had lasted 2 years and was going to last 5 more years, He is more than capable of delivering us from our hardships, too! 

Psalm 73:26 (New International Version)
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
BUT GOD is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.

God doesn't promise us sunshine and rainbows every day of our life.  We aren't promised a life without sickness or pain.  Our flesh may fail us in many ways...we may get sick or we may be tempted by fleshly desires that lead us toward or to sin.  We may find ourselves in that pitiful pity pit where we allow our emotions to control our lives.  BUT GOD!  When our strength comes from Him, we are more than able to get through anything.

 Romans 5:7-9 (New International Version)
7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8BUT GOD demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

How exciting is verse 8?!  Do you understand the full meaning and depth of what it is saying?  To help us get the picture of this love we need to go to another BUT GOD...this time it uses BUT THE LORD.

Isaiah 53:9-11 (New American Standard Bible)

9b Because he had done no violence,
nor was there any deceit in His mouth.
10a BUT THE LORD was pleased
to crush Him, putting Him to grief;

Wow!  God loves me and you so much that He was willing to have His son, Jesus Christ, put to horrible, cruel death as a substitute for my sins and your sins.  Not only was God willing, but Isaiah tells us that it pleased Him to do this for us.  Because Christ died in our place, we only have to believe in Him as our Lord and Savior...believing...not just with our heads but in our hearts...that He died a cruel death on the cross in our place, was buried in a tomb, and was raised from the dead three days later to accept that substitionary atonement for our sins.  That is so amazing to me!

I'm a sinner!  You're a sinner!  BUT GOD!  BUT CHRIST!  Now, I'm a forgiven sinner who God calls His child!  WOW!  Just WOW!

1 John 3:1 (New American Standard Bible)

1a See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God

So, the next time things aren't going our way or our path gets foggy or rutted, let's stop and think...

>is my salvation
>is my refuge
>is my hope
>is my strength
>is my help
>is my deliverer
>is my _______!
(You fill in the blank.)


Friday, July 9, 2010


Rain, rain, go away...
Come again another day...
As children, we were conditioned to think of rainy days as something to wish away.  Rain was something that got in the way of our plans.  It messed things up for us.  We carried this belief with us into adulthood, too.  While, on the surface, I suppose it is true...rain can mess up plans for a picnic and can slow down travel and can even bring with it devastating floods...rain brings so much more than the down side of things that pop up in our minds. 

Rain brings new life.  It revives wilted life.  It washes away dirt and grime.  It refreshes when things get hot. 

This morning, as I sat on the couch in the quiet of kids sleeping late preparing for my Bible study time, I heard it.  Heard what, you may ask.  The wonderful sound of a summer rain.  It was like an invitation from God calling me to come sit on the porch.  So I took all my materials and out I went.

After my Bible study, I stayed outside to just enjoy the rain.  It didn't take long for me to need to grab my camera.  As I snapped pictures, I began to really ponder rain...literally and figuratively.  A new friend, Teresa (someone I know God sent into my life that will be a close friend) mentioned a song the other day that I happen to love, too.  It's "Jesus, Bring the Rain" by Mercy Me.  While I was snapping away, that song came to my mind as did "Praise you in the Storm" by Casting Crowns. 

Over the last few weeks, months, and even year(s), our family has had its share of rain and even storms in our life.  Praise God for the rain!  God has used that rain to wash us, revive us, refresh us!  It's not easy to praise God when it's raining in our lives, but it is always RIGHT to praise God.

The last verse of Mercy Me's "Jesus, Bring the Rain" says:
I am Yours regardless of
The dark clouds that may loom above
Because You are much greater than my pain
You who made a way for me
By suffering Your destiny
So tell me what's a little rain

When we consider what Christ did for us and continues to do for us, the only correct response to every single thing in our life is PRAISE.  Instead, I know for me the first thing that I do when a little rain sprinkles down in my life is WORRY.  However, Jesus tells us in Matthew 6: 25-34 to not worry.  To sum it up, it basically says that if God takes care of the birds and the flowers, won't He take care of us so much more than them?  Worrying accomplishes no good.  While praising God is always correct!

Psalm 34:1 "I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips."

So, let's pray for, help and encourage each other through the rains and storms of life.  Instead of joining in on the 'woe is me' parties, let's look for the rays of sunshine peaking through and if they can't be found just yet, let's praise God for what the rain will bring. 

Proverbs 10:25 tells us "When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever."


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Vanilla Blackberry Cake...It was a hit!

We've had an abundance of fresh blackberries this year!  They are wild blackberries.  We're hoping in the next year or so our seedless blackberries will take off and be plentiful, as well!  Doug doesn't care if they are the wild variety or not.  To him, all blackberries are delicious!  Blackberry cobbler is one of his favorite desserts.  I've made several of those already this year.  In hopes of finding something new and different to do with the blackberries, I started searching today.  I didn't find a recipe that sounded like THE recipe so I took ideas from several different places and made my own.  It turned out to be a hit at our house!  The batter turns out quite thick, but the cake is light and tasty!  Enjoy.

Vanilla Blackberry Cake

Preheat Oven to 350

Filling Ingredients:

2 c. fresh blackberries

1 c. sugar

Mix sugar in with blackberries and set aside while you prepare the cake batter.

Batter Ingredients:

1 c. real butter

1 ½ c. white sugar

8 egg yolks

¾ c. milk

¼ c. heavy cream

2 -3 tsp. vanilla

2 c. self-rising flour

3 Tbs. cornstarch

Grease bundt pan. Sift together flour and cornstarch and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time. Then, beat in the vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk and cream, mixing until incorporated.

Pour half of the batter into the bundt pan. Spoon blackberries onto that batter. Then, cover the blackberries with the remaining batter. Bake at 350 approximately 1 hour. (Adjust time based on your pan and oven. I used stoneware and it took right at an hour to cook.) Cool about 10 minutes and then turn onto a cake server. The blackberries will then be on the top of the cake. 

To add to the look of the presentation, I garnished the serving plate with a few blackberries and filled the hole of the cake with more blackberries.

I'm sure the cake would be great with other fruits, too.  Let me know if you try it with something besides blackberries.