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Virginia's Life, Such As It Is!: Gourmet with Dana: Orange Sunshine State Cake

Orange Sunshine State Cake

Virginia's Life, Such As It Is!: Gourmet with Dana: Orange Sunshine State Cake

 
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One Little Word

Lots of good stuff happening here! But for now, just wanted to share a New Word, for a New Year!Last year, God led me to a scrapbooker, Ali Edwards, who has inspired many by her "One Little Word" challenge. It has been a way for her followers to focus on one trait, thought or character change for the year. It has been life changing for many, and so helpful for me, in the midst of everything that has happened this past year. My "One Little Word" for 2012 was HOPE. And I want to stay there. I learned that Hope in Christ was the only way I could exist; That I could be fully present and fully alive.I realized that I had placed my hope in all sorts of other things, especially people. And that did not work, especially when those people were human, flawed (like me) and not able to meet my expectations; nor were they designed to!! So I had a paradigm shift. I learned to place my hope in God alone. After all, he designed it all, including me, so he would know how it all fits together. And because of that, I don't have to. I just have to trust, and place my hope in Him. He knows what I need, and what will make me fall on my knees, rest, and just live in joy. I don't get it all the time, but having that one little word in the forefront of my mind helped me so much.So this year, God gave me a new word.What is that new word???HALF.Half? Why half?Well, I have so much stuff. SOOOOOOO MUCH. Too much. Way too much. And there are so many with not enough. So I am going to try to pear down. Not  buy. Use what I have, and give away lots. Sell some. Give more. So I can have time to enjoy what is most precious to me. People. And if I have so much stuff to maintain, pick up or move around just to store it, I don't have time to do what I really want to to: Bless people. Be a mentor. Be a friend. Mother. Cook great food. And if I always feel like I don't have time to do stuff, then maybe I don't need so much stuff to do it with. Maybe it would be better to just live without it. Or make due with what I have. Or pay someone else to do some things. I am trying to figure it out. But I am excited to do it, because God is in it. He has a plan. And I can't wait to see what this year brings. My hearts desire is to have half as much stuff to have twice as much of Him by the end of this year.Will I mess up? sure I will. But I will forget what is behind, and strain forward for the high calling of Jesus Christ. After all, I can do all things through Christ who is my strength. My hope. My joy. And if I have joy in him, isn't that enough?

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Joy journal

this is another entry from my journal, while reading "1000 Gifts" by Ann Voskamp.  God has me in a very vulnerable place, learning how to conquer my feelings, my fears, and embrace all that he has for me – all of it. Pain, which leads to joy, grace, trust, and a new word I am learningEucharistao.Thanksgiving, grace and Joy. The following entry is my heart-cry from a few days ago. I hope you can hear my heart.I am not depressed. quite the opposite.Just processing. Maybe my words can help you process too.  and we can grow closer to him together. This is not just a tiny step – a baby step here, LORD.This is a run – a marathon, a distance between here and the moon.You are pulling me, dragging me, helping me.Crack me wide open, LORD.Break my heart so that you can pour more of you in. Help me to see. Really see –not just behold, but jump in, headfirst.Plunge deep. It is you –you who are doing this in me. Undoing me. Unraveling me.Release me from the fetters of this life so that I can see.I can run.I can – But how can I see beauty in this? It is sin. Yet I am missing at it.  I am tangled up in my hate of the sin and the desire for you. In the hurt that I deserve and the pain that eats away all that you are trying to show me.Snatches it up and consumes that before I even taste and see that the Lord is good.What is the  secret? what do I long for here? why does it hurt so deep and I want the relationship restored and the pain to subside, even stopped throbbing, ripping, tearing – so abrasive is this pain, that it has worn me raw.Is raw where you and I meet?Where the salve- the ointment of your Word is the only thing that heals?"The Word became flesh and dwelt among us."  Dividing the joints and marrow – the sinewy places where the scar tissue is so hard from the life torn apart. This is where's the healing takes place. Where I embrace the whole of it. Not just the pain that the "terrible awful" caused by sin and blindness – not seeing – but the whole of it. Is this not what Job did? And what you did for him? How can I understand it? Open my eyes to see. You did not just allow Job's troubles, you brought them. So he could see. You chose him. So he would choose you. "Have you considered my servant, Job?"You are in control of even Satan. I am like Job.Writhing and not seeing.Blind.But you have beauty to behold. Sin had left its Crimson stain, He washed it white as  snow. This tastes bitter on the tongue – the pain. It seems so tragic.Meaningless.Senseless.It didn't have to be this way. Yet it did. For me. For her.For us to know. For us to learn.For us to see. Open my eyes that I may see, glimpses of truth thou has for me. Place in my hand the wonderful key that will unclasp and set me free.Silently now I wait for thee,ready my God, thy will to see.Open my eyes, illumine me,Spirit, divine. Open the eyes of my heart Lord, open the eyes of my heart.I want to see you, I want to see you.To see you high and lifted up, shining in the light of your glory.Pour out your power and love, as we sing:holy holy holy–Lord, God Almighty.Early in the morning, our songs  shall  rise to thee. Cherubim and seraphim, falling down before thee.Who was, and is, and evermore shall be. and me – with my face to your son – help me to see.With my eyeswith my handswith my heart.  "My son, what is it that you want me to do for you?""Lord, I want to see."To see you fully, and experience you- your joy, unlike anything earth has to offer. Thats what you are doing in me through all this mess. And anything that makes me fall on my face before you is good. Thank you Lord, that you are healing me of my blindness. That you are with me in this process to lead me; to be my guide. To hold my hand and walk me through this maze of pain and despair. To lead me to hope. To Peace. To fullness of Joy. To you. I am so grateful. So dependent for my very breath, for sometimes it feels like I will be smothered by the heaviness of my heart. Yet, when I let you,  You carry it.  thank you for your joy. For it can be as overwhelming, the soothing balm to my weary soul. Jesus I'm so in love with you. Thank you for making me love you, need you, want you. Jesus, I'm desperate for you. Lord, you are all I want.
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To trust or not to trust?

I have been reading "1000 Gifts" by Ann Voskamp over this past week.(Her blog is www.aholyexperience.com and is a wonderful place to go to see God at work.)  I have been learning a great deal about myself, and I have serious trust (or should I say, lack of trust) issues. I want- really, expect things to be good. To turn out all nicey nicey. And if it doesnt, I have to find someone to blame. I know I don't deserve to have my way, but I want it. Really, really badly. and I often sacrifice much on the altar of self to get it.  So today, I am taking a little side step from Colossians to share my journal entry from a few days ago.  This joy-journey has me undone. I am not a natural. Not a "truster". Not one who has yet learned to "see". To embrace the impossible- the "Him-possible" and look with the wonder of a child. I lost that somewhere along the rocky road of life. Sure, I can look and see through the good times; I can remember. But for the future? A choke hold comes upon my anxious heart and the "what if's" fly in the face of my ever increasing thankfulness, saying, "you don't know if He will be good in the future. You don't know what will happen."  And I reel, and I thrash and still a Hope-beam shines piercing the fear like a hot knife into a block of ice.  A whisper of quietness tries to touch my soul. "But Remember" it says.  And I breathe. And exhale. Breathe and exhale. Ps. 1:2But his delight (joy) is in the law of the LORD and on His law does he meditate day and night.He is like a tree, planted by streams of water which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. (emphasis mine) Meditate. Remember. What law?  Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy strength. And thou shalt have no other gods before me.  OUCH. When I elevate my heart as to think that I deserve anything, then I am ungrateful, prideful and putting myself on the throne. But when I, in gratitude, bend the knee saying come what may, not my will but thine be done... Is it really that simple? and that difficult? Every good thing, and every perfect gift comes down from the Father of lights in whom there is not shadow - no darkness - and who does not change like the shifting sands (of my life). He is the steady one, not I. I wish I could just nail the lid on this- be done with it and never have to think about it again. Never worry about the future. About my kids and what would happen to them if something happened to me. What may come. Be done with it. Learn it once for all. But now that I have opened it, scratched the scab off, I see there is a gaping hole and all my fears come tumbling out. Spilling, dripping bleeding.  And I am undone.  I am like a bird with the cage door open and I don't know- don't remember how to fly. Or perhaps I am just petrified.  Remember. That is the key that unlocks this trap. Recount. Thanksgiving. Gratitude. I have lived so long in the state of trying to balance everything, to do enough good that it evens out and that God will recognize it, so he won't send bad stuff my way.....That is not my motive. My motive is love for Jesus, and love for others. But if I really think about it, deep down under the layers, all the way to the marrow, I am afraid.  Of dying.  Of my kids getting hurt or sick or killed. Of pain. Of how am I going to see Her? And that somehow, I might really stop loving Her. She who traded the beauty inside and out for a lie? She who has cut me so deep that I bleed joy and pain intermingled? She- who wants so desperately to become he- all the while hoping that is the answer to her own pain?  Remember. Recount. Thousands upon Thousands. Heaped up and spilling over. Blessings. Gifts.  And He who gives good gifts- the ones we see- can He not disguise those good gifts in earthly pains? He was.He is.  Did not His ultimate earthly pain bring us the most joy? He, who for the joy set before Him suffered death (and separation from God) even death on a cross.  Joy. And I identify with Him, and He with me in my painful quest for joy. I crucify my desires- even my fears upon the cross with Him. I can let go. I can be free to accept whatever comes from His hand. Because it comes from the hand with hole in it. The Whole in it. Ps. 1:6For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous- but the wicked will perish. 
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December Daily Day 16 Presents

Presents. Packages. Gifts. We all like them. The surprise contained inside usually brightens our day and makes us feel loved.Especially if the gifter knows us well, and takes the time to either purchase something that we especially want but would not make for ourselves, or if they hand-make us something; for it is the gift of time that is the most precious of all. Because time is the one thing you can never get more of. Think about it: everything else you can get more of. Or at least something similar. But time, no.This moment will never be able to be relived. Memories never remade. Years never repeated. I was so blessed yesterday by my dear friends who chose to take time out of their busy holiday schedules and spend the morning with me celebrating my birthday at Teapots and Treasures. We had a lovely time, and I got some wonderful gifts. The most wonderful being time with my beloved friends. Truly they are my heart sisters, and inspire me to be the kind of woman Christ wants me to be.  One of my friends bought me a book called 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp. You can find her website here. www.aholyexperience.com(by the way, the Jesse Tree Advent devotional on there is phenomenal.) I started reading this book last night, and I think every Christian woman needs to read this book. And do the challenge. I know I am and will be this coming year.  About 14 pages into the book I knew this was going to be a life changer for me. And that I had to make sure my daughters read this book. Heres a quote that will explain why: (from page 15)Ultimately, in his essence, Satan is an ingrate. And he sinks his venom into the heart of Eden. Satan's sin becomes the first sin of all humanity: the sin of ingratitude. Adam and Eve are, simply, painfully, ungrateful for what God gave.  Isn't that the catalyst of all my sins? Our fall was, has always been, and always will be, that we aren't satisfied in God and what He gives. We hunger for something more, something other. Standing before that tree, laden with fruit withheld, we listen to Evils murmur, "In the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened..." (Gen. 3:5). But in the beginning our eyes were already open. Our sight was perfect. Our vision let us see a world spilling with goodness. Our eyes fell on nothing but the glory of God. We saw God as He truly is: good. But we were lured by the deception that there was more to a full life, there was more to see. And, true, there was more to see: the ugliness we hadn't beheld, the sinfulness we hadn't witnessed, the loss we hadn't known. We eat. And, in an instant, we are blind. No longer do we see God as one we can trust. No longer do we perceive Him as wholly good. No longer do we observe all of the remaining paradise.  We eat. And in an instant, we see. Everywhere we look, and we see a world of lack, a universe of loss, a cosmos of scarcity and injustice.  We are hungry. We eat. We are filled...and emptied. And still, we look at the fruit and see only the material means to fill our emptiness. We don't see the material world for what it is meant to be: as the means to communion with God.(end of quote) Wow. I can't wait to see where this is going. Actually, I know where it is going. But I can't wait to see how she (the author) gets there. Because I think it is going to be a great ride.  All of this to say:Where are we in our expectations with God? Do we long for His Presents, like a happy family, happy life with well behaved kids, and adoring husband, and even the traffic to go our way, more than we long for His Presence?I not only long for them, I expect them. And then when they don't happen, I get aggravated and even upset at times. But when I let those circumstances drive me into His Presence, instead of insane, I realize that is exactly what they are there for: to create crisis of belief, and a need for relationship with Him.  I wonder: if we never had any trouble, would we need or want Him?  Why would we need a Savior?What would He have to save us from? As it is, he has to save us from Ourselves. 
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Welcome

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The Author

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Our Mission

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