Saturday, November 28, 2015

Thankful for my children

We just had a fabulous celebration of Thanksgiving, the whole family together.

I am overwhelmedly thankful for the children God gave me.

Here are their baby pictures.  I go all warm and melty inside, almost painfully so, when I remember holding their tiny bodies and thanking Jesus for their precious new lives, right as soon as I first met their miraculous selves.

Baby Shannon, 1989

Baby David, 1991

Baby Laura, 1992

Baby Jon-Jon, 1995

Be still my heart.

God is good.

I am thankful for my children.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Thankful for my single geranium bloom on a snowy day

Today I woke to inclement weather.

I had to be somewhere at 5:55 a.m.  On Saturday morning.  Yes, I did.

Yesterday had been warm and beautiful.

Today I woke up in the dark.  Fortunately for me, I dressed and left my house before I was aware of much.  At some point between the first and second turns away from my home, I realized that all was black and wet, but I just kept driving, and the Lord kept me safe.  I assumed that the precipitation was rain, because everything was as black as night.  Well, to be fair, it pretty much was night.  I did try to read the temperature on my dashboard, but I wasn't wearing my reading glasses (I can't see in the distance for driving, if I have reading glasses on).  All I could make out on the dashboard thermometer was thirty-something.  I chose to believe it was 36 or 38 degrees.

When I got out of my meeting, three inches of heavy snow coated my car.  Punch-drunk from early morning, the others who had attended the meeting commenced to lobbing snowballs in the parking lot.  One man drove off with a mini snowman perched on his hood.

When I arrived at home, my neighborhood looked like this:

But, on my front porch, a potted geranium stood resolute and fuchsia, barely sheltered from the blowing sleet beyond.

Gawky, yet determined.

I am thankful for the sight, for the fact that this flower could bloom at all on the 21st of November, and for the symbolism.

Hope springs eternal.  Miracles abound.

I am thankful.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thankful for windows

I am thankful for windows.

Have you ever imagined what the world would be like, if there were no windows?

Windows let in light and air.  They connect us to the world around us, even while we shelter in our familiar cocoons.

Windows show us beautiful views.

They can also show us brokenness, despair.  This is not a bad thing.  Windows (like books) open our eyes to new perspectives that we need to understand, teaching us empathy.

Windows gently encourage us to imagine things beyond ourselves.  Brightening and darkening, they help us mark time.  Open, they refresh with a cool breeze.  Closed, they shut out a violent rainstorm.

Have you ever watched raindrops squash against the outside of window glass, smearing and straining but unable to dampen you?

Our own windows bring familiar views, day by day.  When we travel, we might see almost anything from a window, especially if we peer out the window of a car or an airplane.

Windows demand quite a lot of upkeep, cleaning and maintenance.  They are worth it.

I am thankful for windows.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Thankful for the sun, light and sight

As I age, my eyesight is deteriorating.

My lupus medication is hard on eyes, so I can be a bit paranoid about the whole thing.

But, today I can see, and for that I am truly grateful.

I need my reading glasses for almost everything: reading, cooking, shopping, cleaning.  I can't even do a decent job of washing dishes without my reading glasses.

Sometimes I just wear my reading glasses all day.  Since they blur my distance vision, I find myself walking up and down hallways and stairs with my hand held up 18 inches from my face, as a focus point.  This is something I can do, and it works fine, and I can function, and I can see, well enough.

It's strange how much more thankful I am to be able to see, now that my sight is no longer what it used to be.  Or perhaps it isn't strange.  Perhaps it only illustrates that we don't always appreciate things fully, until we are at risk of losing them.

With decreasing visual acuity, I also appreciate light more than ever.  (I've been glad on more than one occasion that we installed white counters and a white backsplash in our kitchen work areas.)

The sun, of course, is the ultimate source of light.

Since moving to the midwest, I have gloried in the frequent presence of sunshine in my days.  I never tire of it.  We do get a cloudy day, now and then, and it is nice to stay inside and do quiet things while the clouds temporarily muffle the brightness of the sun.  Clouds never last too long here, and it is an absolute wonder and a balm to my soul.

I am thankful that I can see.

I am thankful for light.

I am thankful for the sun.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Thankful for time to be alone

I love to be alone.

I also like to be with people.  I don't like to be alone over tremendously long stretches of time.  For instance, when Shawn goes away on business trips.  Business trips result in more alone time than I really appreciate, especially in the evenings after the sun goes down and the windows turn black.  Going to bed at night all by myself is lonely in not-a-good-way.

But I do love to spend some time alone, every day, preferably in the morning.  Long, quiet mornings alone are an unspeakable luxury.

I like to read my Bible and pray, all by myself.  It's much harder for me to do these things when there are people around.

I like to be alone when I write.  Actually, I probably fundamentally need to be alone when I write.

There's that song, "Give me Jesus."  It has a verse that says, "When I am alone, give me Jesus."

When I am working on chores, or taking a walk, or eating, then I prefer to have company.

When I am praying, studying, writing, then I like to be alone.

I am thankful for times when I have opportunities to be alone, to get centered, to let the Lord examine my heart.

Since Jesus promises never to leave me nor forsake me, I am never utterly alone.  Alone with Jesus, that's what I love.

I am thankful for time when I can be alone with Jesus.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Thankful for hope

I don't know what the future holds, what is beyond the next hill or twist in the road.

It is a mercy that we don't know the future, I think.  It's a mercy not to be burdened with all the details of what is to come.

We do know this:

Jesus is coming back, and He will bring the final triumph of good over evil, completely and forever.

Knowing that, we have hope.  Sure hope.  Hope that, as the Bible says, will never be put to shame.

I am thankful that no matter what lies across the horizon, I can hope in the Lord, and He will never let me down.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Thankful that my husband is home

Paris is under seige.

But here in the flat center of the USA, the sun is shining, and my husband, who has traveled five out of the past six weeks, is home.

It is good to be together when the world is in tumult.

He fixed me the first good cup of coffee I've had in ages.

We feasted on leftover crustless quiche, because I made it for myself while he was gone and didn't even get a fourth of the way into it.

We sat, talked, hugged, held hands.  It feels good to rest your head on the shoulder of the one you've been missing.

Together.  Near.  With.

I will wash his laundry from the week, and life will be mostly normal, despite everything.

I am thankful that my husband is home.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Thankful for books

I am thankful for books.

Books teach us truths, transport us to other worlds, and broaden our minds and understanding with perspectives we would otherwise never know.

The books we read have a great influence on whom we become.

In my older years, I mostly read the Bible, but I do read other books, and I have read many other books in the past.

In a soul-bearing move, I will show you pictures of some of my bookshelves.  This is threatening both because it tells you a lot about who I am, and also because the photography is particularly bad.  Part of the reason for the bad photography is that I don't put much effort into making my books look aesthetically pleasing on a shelf, and then when I go to photograph them, I don't know where to focus, so the overall sloppiness just piles up. 

Nevertheless, I am thankful for books, and here are some of my favorites:

Here is a group of books I love, mostly by John Piper and C.S. Lewis.
Honestly, if you had only the Bible, Piper, and Lewis, you would be fine.
Desiring God by Piper.
Mere Christianity by Lewis.

At the end of my set of Bible commentaries, 
some blessedly solid theology by Tozer and Packer, 
with a couple other authors thrown in.  
Packer's, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God 
is an important book that simplifies a difficult subject.

This shelf makes me smile, for the sheer randomness of it.

The Magic City by E. Nesbit (one of the few things our dog Piper ever defaced by chewing)
I am David by Anne Holm
From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
Pearls of Lutra by Brian Jacques
Hank the Cowdog: The Case of the Haystack Kitties by John R. Erickson
Ralph S. Mouse by Beverly Cleary
A book from the Series of Unfortunate Events series
A Hardy Boys Mystery
A couple of books full of history trivia to stimulate young minds
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis
The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
Iran: The Coming Crisis by Mark Hitchcock (? -- haven't read it; sounds scary)
Lila by Marilynne Robinson
The Grand Weaver by Ravi Zacharias
The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis
Seeking the Face of God by Martin Lloyd-Jones
The Sovereignty of God by Arthur Pink
Spiritual Depression by Martin Lloyd-Jones
Amy Vanderbilt's Everyday Etiquette by Letitia Baldrige
Another history trivia book for kids
Let Me Be a Woman by Elisabeth Elliot
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

And they all sit on top of a massive art book full of Van Gogh prints, while The Very Quiet Cricket by Eric Carle nestles in behind, perpendicularly because it is too wide for any shelf.

I guess I read theology and children's literature, mostly.  These are all in our study, upstairs, where I write on my computer.  We have three six-foot-tall bookshelves against the long wall in here, and it feels like a library.  I love it.

Downstairs, in our front hall, there is another bookshelf.

Originally this was meant to hold "real literature."  It is rather a random mix, but with less children's literature (maybe).  This is where I keep my Dickens, my George Eliot and my Jane Austen, and where I placed Tolkien between Chaucer and Homer.  But you will also find the Hunger Games trilogy on this shelf, The Book Thief, Ender's Game and two (??) copies of The Great Gatsby.

In a closer view, you also see a collection of Alan Bradley and a collection of Madeleine L'Engle.  Oh!  There's The Wind in the Willows and The Phantom Tollbooth.  Maybe I've placed as much children's literature here as anywhere; there's even a green anthology of it.

I am thankful for books.  I've made many friends through books, and there are a lot of people I look forward to talking with in heaven, to thank them for how their words have ministered to me on earth, even though we've never met.

Ruminating on what books mean to me, and how they have touched me, gives me a deeper understanding of what the Bible means when it calls Jesus, "The Word of God."  He is the greatest "book" of all.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Thankful for trials

Thankful for trials.

Wow.  I never thought I would say this.  I never thought I would be able to say this.  I am the Big Chicken, remember?  I'm the one who is always complaining about the way we have to learn through pain, and wishing it were a different way.

Count it all joy, my brothers,
when you meet trials of various kinds,
for you know that the testing of your faith 
produces steadfastness. 
And let steadfastness have its full effect, 
that you may be perfect and complete, 
lacking in nothing. 
~James 1:2-4 (ESV)

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, 
knowing that suffering produces endurance, 
and endurance produces character, 
and character produces hope, 
and hope does not put us to shame, 
because God's love has been poured into our hearts 
through the Holy Spirit 
who has been given to us. 
~Romans 5:3-5 (ESV)

You learn things when you go through something hard.  

You learn that God is faithful.  He may not fix the problem when you want Him to fix the problem, but He demonstrates His nearness over and over.

You keep seeing the same words come up, words like hope, peace, joy.  Delight yourself in the Lord.  All things are possible with God.  You find these words in the morning when you are reading the Bible by yourself, and then you see them in an article on the internet, or hear a friend speak them, or they rise up out of a small group Bible study.  They may even float by on the notes of a song.

You spend a rough morning crying tears to the Lord, and the phone rings.  Although you never answer the phone when you don't recognize the number, you happen to pick it up, and it's a friend you haven't spoken with in quite some time.  "The Holy Spirit put you on my heart, Ruth," she says, "He told me to find your phone number, and I looked until I did.  I don't know why, but I just got to pray for you."   And she does, balmy God-words flowing, mixed with scripture, from her lips.  "God is faithful," she tells you.  "He has this.  He's the almighty God and nobody can stop Him.  You got to PUSH.  You heard that before?  PUSH.  It means Pray Until Something Happens, and it's going to.  God's not going to let you down.  He's faithful.  He's merciful.  He's Love."  Through your wondering tears, you try to tell her how blessed you are by her obedience to the Spirit's direction.

You have it out with God one afternoon, and you beg Him, "Please, if You aren't going to fix this, please hold my faith together.  Please help me see Your goodness when things don't seem good.  Please don't let me stop believing when it feels like You are so far away, and it appears that You are not acting on my behalf." He leads you to John 6:68-69 (you were familiar with the words but didn't know where they were, and then, while looking for something else, you stumble across them) --

“Lord, to whom shall we go? 
You have the words of eternal life,  
and we have believed, and have come to know, 
that you are the Holy One of God.” (ESV)

He shows you beauty all around you, soothes your spirit, comforts your heart.  He tells you, "Delight in me, my child.  I will care for you.  I will never leave you nor forsake you.  I am your God and I watch over you always, without slumbering or sleeping.  I am your Shepherd, and you shall lack nothing."  As He gently works, you begin to experience joy again, to see beauty and goodness and the hand of God all over, in spite of the thing that troubles you.

You also learn things about yourself.

You become aware of ways you used to be, ways that needed to change.  You used to be so protective of yourself.  "I feel bad for those people," you'd say.  "I'll be pleasant, and maybe donate to a shelter or something, but arm's length is good.  I don't want them to know where I live."  You realize that God has ways of breaking down these attitudes, tendering your heart, making you care compassionately for the lost in ways you never could before He began the hard work.

You learn the difference between understanding that and understanding how.  For instance, you used to understand that certain topics of conversation could make someone sad, but now you understand how the sad person feels in the middle of the discussion, the uncontrollable visceral pang.  You understand how the barren woman feels when she sees a new mother with her baby.  You understand how a mother of a child with a disability feels when the mothers of "normal" children celebrate their children's successes in sports and academics.  You understand so much more, and with more understanding comes less judging.

Some of us have a strong propensity to try desperately to do everything right so nothing bad will happen to us.  There are two problems with that.  (1) None of us can do everything right, and (2) Bad things will happen; we live in a fallen world.  When we live under the mistaken notion that we can control outcomes and insulate ourselves from trouble by doing all things right, we set ourselves up to suffer loads of guilt when troubles come.  We think we are being punished.  It's the natural conclusion.  It's what Job's friends told him: "You must have sinned.  Confess your sins to God, and He will stop tormenting you." 

We have all sinned, but a person's sin is not the cause of all his suffering.  When trials come, we must learn to give up control and hope in the Lord.  To whom shall we go, if not Him?

God uses all things for good for His people.  He uses terrible, painful situations.  He uses brokenness and loss.  He even uses sin and guilt, redeems them and makes them produce blessed results.  He uses it all for good, to form our hearts and to beautify our spirits within us, to make us holy.

I wouldn't say my spirit is beautiful yet, but I know without a doubt that He is working on it.  He is teaching me, growing me, changing me.  I'm already stronger, already a little more joyful than I ever was before, for no understandable reason except that Jesus is working a miracle.

So yes.  I am thankful for trials.

Kind of.  I'm thankful for how God powerfully uses them, anyway. 


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Thankful for pears

Some years, I hardly buy any pears, sometimes none at all.

Other years, the pears are plentiful, tasty and reasonably priced.  These are what I call pear years.  During pear years, I buy quite a lot of pears.

I am happy to say that this has been a pear year.

There is nothing quite like a ripe, juicy pear.  The wet, smooth, melt-in-your mouth texture of sweet, mellow pear flesh is even a pleasure to slice with a knife, let alone taste on your tongue.

Isn't it amazing that such deliciousness should grow on a tree, in the sunshine, and be good for you?

Once I was at a luncheon, and they served a fancy salad.  The salad contained a number of exotic ingredients and a lovely vinaigrette dressing.  Oddly, interspersed amongst arugula, radicchio, spinach, goat cheese, glazed walnuts and huge glistening blackberries, there appeared to be wedges of unpeeled boiled potatoes.  I picked around the potatoes for awhile before I finally steeled myself to do the right thing and eat them too.  Imagine my surprise when my teeth sank into Bosc pear, a perfectly ripe, sweet, juicy Bosc pear, and not a boiled potato at all.  Few surprises in my life could rival the unexpected delight of that one.

Pears are just so good.

I am thankful for pears, and to God who made them.  What a wonderful gift He dreamed up for us when He thought of a pear.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Thankful for Epsom salt

Epsom salt is, honestly, quite amazing.

A 20-30 minute soak in a fairly warm bath of Epsom salt gives me substantial pain relief for a substantial length of time.  This is a big deal for someone with lupus, but people without lupus might derive some benefit as well.

My tub is big, so I use two cups of Epsom salt, measured carelessly, because the Epsom salt is usually chunky (having been stored in a humid bathroom) and does not fit neatly into a measuring cup.

I've found that I achieve my best water temperature if I get into the tub just as I begin to run the tap, and adjust the hot-cold ratio to my liking as it fills.

You don't want too hot a bath, or you will get woozy.  At least, I do.  I've almost fainted from too hot a bath.

But a nice, warm bath (just this side of hot, if you know what I mean), with Epsom salt and a few drops of lavender essential oil, is legitimately therapeutic.

I've found that the pain relieving effects from an Epsom salt bath are more comprehensive and longer lasting than a what I get from a professional, therapeutic massage. . . and for significantly less expense.

I am thankful for Epsom salt.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Thankful for beauty

Today we took a November walk in the park.

Many of the leaves have fallen.  In the aftermath, trees stand exposed, their bare twigs branching delicately off the ends of limbs.

Here a tree reaches for the vast blue sky, spots of red color lingering, embellishing.

Even weed seeds have some glory when the sun strikes them at a certain angle.

Space, lacy trees, blue sky.

Bright red berries shining just before evening.

More weeds, standing golden before the edge of the forest.

After 25 years in the Northeast, I never seem to tire of open space and big blue sky.

Magical sun dispersing slanted beams through the thicket and onto the path,
lighting up some last golden leaves on the way.

Layers of shadow, vertical trunks, illuminated meadow, far off tree row, 
slices of space and light.

Trees and space and so much sky.

A wild-flower blooming in November, and who would have thought blue?

This is where we live.

So much beauty, right outside my door.

And that's only this beauty, here, today.

There are also babies, puppies, roses,
Waterfalls, lullabies,
A tiny rainbow reflection from a piece of crystal near the window,
Always the sun and the sky.

When other things are wrong and terrible, we can turn our eyes towards beauty.

I believe that God made beauty so we could find some hope when our souls are in distress.  Beauty is a sign of His presence in this world, and His promise of infinitely more beauty in the world to come.

Finally, brothers, 
whatever is true, 
whatever is honorable, 
whatever is just, 
whatever is pure, 
whatever is lovely, 
whatever is commendable, 
if there is any excellence, 
if there is anything worthy of praise, 
think about these things.
~Philippians 4:8 (ESV) 

I am thankful for beauty.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Thankful for November blooms and for x, y, z.

It's November, and this rose still has blossoms going.  I have to walk around the corner of my house to see it, but it's worth it!

Lingering signs of fruitfulness in late autumn have always thrilled me.  Hopeful, unexpected miracles of beauty minister to a world heading for winter.

Winter and deserts have this in common: it is rare to find growing, living things in winter, and in deserts.

One of God's specialties is making fruit grow from barren ground.

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad;
    the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus;

it shall blossom abundantly
    and rejoice with joy and singing.

~Isaiah 35:1-2a (ESV)

Some barren ground near me lies parched.  I long to see the Spirit of God poured out like water on this ground, bringing forth the fruit of repentance, restoration and joy.

This is the business of the Lord.  The Lord took Aaron's walking stick, a dead branch completely cut off from root or water source:

. . . and behold, the staff of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted and put forth buds and produced blossoms, and it bore ripe almonds.
~from Numbers 17:8 (ESV)

God makes life flourish from lifeless places, wherever He chooses, by mercy and grace.

And you were dead 
in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked . . .
But God,
being rich in mercy,
because of the great love
with which He loved us,
even when we were dead in our trespasses
made us alive in Christ --
by grace you have been saved!
~from Ephesians 2:1,2,4,5 (ESV- emphasis mine)

Xerophilous.  Xerophilous things thrive in a dry, inhospitable environment.  God can come, and produce the fruit of His Spirit from our formerly dry and barren hearts.  He not only can, He does.

That is X. 

Y is for yearning, the yearning of the Lord to gather His people under His wings and protect them, keep them, heal them, enlighten them, save them.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people . . .  

This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
~1 Timothy 2:1,3,4 (ESV)

Z is for the zeal of the Lord, which will see that His purposes will be accomplished.

O Lord, your hand is lifted up,
    but they do not see it.
Let them see your zeal for your people, and be ashamed.
    Let the fire for your adversaries consume them.

~Isaiah 26:11 (ESV)

God has zeal for His people, and He will trample down the evil that rages against them.  He will save His children with mighty acts of judgment and an outstretched arm.   He will bring us home to His Kingdom to live forever in glory.

X, Y, Z.   Xerophilous (Xerophilousness?).  Yearning.  Zeal.

I am thankful that my God makes life spring up out of barren places, and that He has both the inclination and the ability to accomplish this miracle. 

I am thankful for beautiful rose blossoms blooming amidst the dry, crumbling leaves in my yard. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Thankful for delicious, healthy chocolate smoothies!

I've developed this chocolate smoothie that I drink nearly every day now.

It is so good, I just cannot even wrap my mind around the fact that it doesn't have any unhealthy ingredients.  In fact, it is so good, I prefer this over a fast-food chocolate shake, based on flavor alone.

Besides that, it only has four ingredients, and they are four easy ingredients, common and cheap.

On top of that, it helps me, now that I have no kids at home, when I am having trouble using up the milk and bananas.  Milk and bananas were a problem for awhile there, when it was basically just me eating them (Shawn doesn't drink milk or eat bananas).  But!  No more!  Now I make all my extra milk and bananas into delicious, nutritious chocolate smoothies.

Here are our four ingredients:

(1)  A frozen banana.

This is the right way to freeze a banana.  Peel it, cut it into chunks, and freeze it in its own, individual zip-lock bag.

The bigger your banana, the thicker and more ice-creamy your smoothie will be.

Use ripe bananas.  You know how the whole bunch of bananas is ripe on the same day?  Freeze them a day or two after that, no more, and you will have a wonderful result.  The way my banana bunches go, I usually end up freezing about five bananas on the day they are ready.  If they are small bananas, I might split the fifth banana into four pieces and add one piece to each of the other four banana bags.

Place your frozen banana in your blender.

(2)  A cup of milk.

Personally, I like whole milk.  I am not gaining weight on whole milk.  In fact, my doctor was displeased the last time I was in, because I'd been losing weight, and she threatened to change my lupus meds.  So, I use a cup of whole milk.  However, I'm sure 2% would be absolutely fine.  Skim would probably even work.  I have also made this smoothie with almond milk for my daughter Lu, who is lactose intolerant.  I think unsweetened vanilla almond milk works the best, if you're aiming for a non-dairy treat.

Pour your cup of milk over the frozen banana in the blender.

(3)  A rounded soup spoon full of dry cocoa powder.

We are not talking about sweetened, flavored cocoa mix.  No!  Banish the thought!  We are talking about unsweetened baking cocoa.  Use a nice, big generous spoonful.

Gently dump the cocoa powder into the center of the blender.  Try to make sure it is surrounded by milk and banana, and that none of it gets on the sides of the blender to start.  It will blend up nicer this way.

(4)  A rounded soup spoon full of nut butter.

For this, I use the same exact spoon that I just used for the cocoa powder.  If you follow this order of steps, you minimize your dirty dishes, and minimal dirty dishes is always a good thing.

I cannot eat peanuts, so I usually use Sunbutter from sunflower seeds.

You could certainly use peanut butter.  If you're using almond milk instead of cow's milk, you could go with a theme and use almond butter.  It really makes very little difference.  I add this ingredient because when this is my breakfast, the nut butter helps me to get filled up, and it holds me until lunch.

Place the nut butter, like the cocoa, in the center of the blender, away from the sides.

There you have it!

Blend until smooth.  Depending on the cut and angle of your frozen banana pieces, you may need to use a variety of blender powers, and a few blasts with "ice-crush" to get it smooth.  Make sure it is smooth!  There's nothing more disappointing than a chunk of unblended frozen banana in this smoothie (well, that's hyperbole, but chunks are disappointing).

After you have blended it nice and smooth,  pour it into a glass and enjoy!

Isn't that beautiful?  Can you believe there's only banana, milk, cocoa and nut butter in this?  NO SUGAR!  And, I promise, you won't miss it!

Here is one of my chocolate smoothies, approximately 2.23 seconds after I poured it up:

I can drink a smoothie faster than anybody in my family, without even trying to.  That's just how it goes for me.  Fast.  Sigh.

But there's always tomorrow.  These are so good for me, I can have one nearly every day!


Healthy Chocolate Smoothie

1 frozen banana
1 cup milk (or milk substitute)
1 rounded Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 rounded Tbsp. nut butter of choice

Blend in blender until smooth.

I am thankful 
for healthy foods
that are easy to make 
and use affordable ingredients!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Thankful that God is worthy of praise

I will extol you, my God and King,
    and bless your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless you
    and praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
    and his greatness is unsearchable.
~Psalm 145:1-3 (ESV)

No matter what happens, 
God is holy, almighty and good.

No matter what happens,
God is worthy of praise.

God created the Universe out of nothing.  

God loves the world.

God sent His only begotten Son into the world
to be the atoning sacrifice for all the sins of humanity. 

God tarries now, giving opportunity for the full number of the faithful to come to Him.

God will return to judge the world.

He will punish the wicked. 
He will reward the faithful.
And the faithful will praise His name. 

God is worthy of praise.

This is a great comfort to me.

When things go wrong, when life twists away, awry, painful, God is worthy of my praise.

Sin, pain and disappointment can obfuscate the glory of God, but they can't change the essence of the glory of God.

In the end, sin, pain and disappointment will be cast into the pit, along with the devil, and we will be completely free, forever, to bask in the glory of God. 

One of my favorite Bible passages tells of the end, when God will make all things right:

And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea.  And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.  
~Revelation 20:7-10 (ESV)

Did you read that?  Did you see?  Satan assembles his forces for battle, and they gather, a massive force with numbers like the sand of the sea.  They march up against the beloved city, the people of God, surrounding them with menace.  And what happens?  Fire comes down from heaven and consumes the enemies of God before they fire a single shot.

There isn't even a battle.  God is the victor before the conflict even begins to rage.  And then God throws the devil into the lake of fire where he can never, ever hurt anybody again.

And I heard every creature in heaven 
and on earth and under the earth 
and in the sea, 
and all that is in them, 
“To him who sits on the throne 
and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory 
and might forever and ever!”
~Revelation 5:13 (ESV)

God is worthy of praise.


Monday, November 2, 2015

Thankful. A November series.

I may make it a November Tradition to do Thankful posts.

I have a thing.  I like to accompany my thankful posts with pictures.  Unfortunately, I have not built up a body of photos in advance, but this is a picture that reminds me of many things that put gratitude into my heart.

I am thankful for a sweet husband who cares for me with my lupus.  He makes me tea, and he takes me for walks, and he often unloads the dishwasher.  He helps me stick pain patches on my back, and he helps me hunt for the pain-killers when I hurt too much to dig through cupboards.  He never gives me a hard time if he gets home from work and there is not a nice dinner, because I ran out of energy before I started cooking.  He just cracks a joke and offers to take me to Culver's for a gluten-free burger.

I am thankful for the big, maroon scarf I was wearing, because it keeps my neck nice and warm, less apt to ache.  I'm thankful for the reading glasses atop my head, not only because they help me see to read, but also because they were there, atop my head, and not lost!

I am thankful for my warm, homey kitchen where we spend quality time together, sometimes just Shawn and me, but on this particular occasion we were with these cutie patooties:

They came out to celebrate their 24th and 23rd birthdays, respectively, and to share gluten-free chocolate cake with us, and to grace us with their mad photography skills and even to take a picture back across the table, which is why there actually exists a picture of Shawn and me together at the top of this post.  Obviously, I am incredibly thankful for these two.

And so, you see, there is plenty to be thankful for.  I am trying to restrain myself and not spew an undue amount of thanks in the very first shot.

I am thankful.