Saturday, March 8, 2014

Beauty in pain~


What an odd title, but appropriate, for each time I go through something hard in my life I am learning to see the beauty in my pain. When my eyes want to focus on the immediate and the future all at the same time, and when I "must" know everything that will happen in my life, I am being stripped and molded to conform to another image, the image of Christ. The study of 1John has been a meaningful one to me, and a timely one as the year started with a call to repentance and forsaking sinful habits and attitudes. How my life, if truly in Christ, should reflect Him. This last week I was studying 1John 2:15-17.

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

The thought that struck me as I studied the meanings of the words in the Greek, was that it wasn't just this super sinful worldly stuff that I wasn't supposed to love, but it was more than that.

The lust of the flesh-It is the inner sin, any sin, that is leading me away from God. My desire to be independent from Him.  Am I saying the same thing as God does about sin in my life? Am I being honest about who I really am?

The lust of the eyes(literally the eyes of the mind)- The sin that leads me away from knowing God and what He wants me to do. Do I really think I know what is best for my life, or does God? Am I conforming to the knowledge of this world?

The pride of life-Am I trying to be independent from God physically? Am I thinking of myself in such high esteem as to hurt those around me? I was blown away by this definition of pride by BLB
"an insolent and empty assurance, which trusts in its own power and resources and shamefully despises and violates divine laws and human rights"

Not only do I do all these things, it is truly the struggle we have between the spirit and the flesh. John's call to a life in Christ is more than just avoiding the "bad" stuff of the world, it is avoiding the thinking and independent spirit of the world. It gets right down to the nitty gritty of surrendering our every desire and thought to Christ. John's words are not easy, in fact, he is quite stern as he says that God's love is not in us if we love the world. This message was so timely as I had a choice to conform to the thinking of the world, or the thinking of my Heavenly Father.

In the midst of renovating the 2nd floor of our house, I have had to restore different objects, and I was cleaning the hardware to the doors the other night, and I was seeing God speak to me during my work. I would take a rusty hinge, caked with old paint and it looked ugly, and possibly useless, but as I started scraping away the surface and letting the water wash over the hinge something started to appear, a beauty, a design, scrolls and pictures in the metal, something that was hidden by rust and paint, had suddenly come to light, it was being restored to reflect it's original design. I couldn't help but see the perfect analogy in my life. Christ scrapes away the sin, the mire, the things we have clung to in our lives. His goal is not for our comfort, but for our redemption. The water of His word washes me clean, the painful things He allows in my life are revealing who I was meant to be, and slowly I should start reflecting the design, beauty, and functionality of who God desires for me to be.


When it comes down to the moment of decision, if He is in us, then we will choose that which abides forever- a life in Christ. It doesn't all happen in a moment, no, it takes our whole earthly life to learn, but what a joy the process is, when our eyes are fixed on the unchangeable, the best, the most beautiful, and the most wonderful, the one who created the universe- God.

Friday, February 21, 2014

A Skunk, a Kitchen and the Roosters


How are skunks, a kitchen, and roosters connected? Well, let me explain…

It all started out like a normal evening, crawling in bed around 10:30 and falling in a deep sleep from the busyness of the day. All to be awakened at 12:30 in the morning by the most ghastly choking smell of a skunk. I think my face turned red and horns came out of my head as I swore to kill the skunk with my bare hands, or a pitchfork, or make Seth shoot it. I was convinced it had got in the basement again, the smell was so strong. We lit some candles and sprinkled essential oils on the bed (Ylang Ylang, what was I thinking?) It just smelled like stinky skunk perfume in our room. After 10 minutes of failed sleep I went to the couch, but the smell wasn’t much better there either. So, we moved the mattress into the kitchen at 1am. It was cooler in the kitchen so we grabbed another blanket, so far it wasn’t too bad, we at least could breath. We got about an hour or so of sleep after almost crying, and hysterically laughing about the whole thing. Seth said he needed to smell something good like peanut butter, and I suggested he give himself a peanut butter mustache so he could smell and lick some off when he so desired. We finally settled down, and then around 4am the crowing started. Our roosters crow all the time, the barn is just on the other side of the kitchen, yeah, so we moved the bed back to the bedroom at 4:30am. The skunk smell had dissipated by that point and the candles were still going. I cracked the window just to keep some fresh air coming in. We awoke around 8am feeling exhausted and bewildered by the whole thing. For some unknown reason we have a local skunk who likes to spray just outside our bedroom every few months. Someday if you come up to me and I smell like a skunk, it’s because I killed it with my bare hands. Here’s to a good night sleep for everyone tonight!

Monday, December 2, 2013

How do we die?


This is the sort of week I dread. Old evils that come back to haunt me and my family. It isn’t fair I keep screaming inside, but Satan never is. He wants to burden us just when we feel life is heavy enough. I really just want to shrink, pretend I don’t exist. I know it is no use hiding, no use pretending the looming problems are not there. Yet I wish they weren’t there. I don’t feel strong enough to do battle, nor do I want to. This is the place we are allowed to go, because we have no other option but to lean on God through the storm and come through the other side stronger and more resilient. I know what the storms are like, and they always hurt, always bring pain, and are often uncomfortable and inconvenient. Yet, maybe I can keep my eyes on the eternal. The end has been foretold and in that I can rejoice. I know the war will be won, and I am on the right side. Isn’t it more about trusting the God knows what you are going through, and that He is actually bringing you through it. He doesn’t look down on us in helplessness and watch what we go through. He is there with us, guiding us, ministering to us, and always interceding for us!
 It seems easier to ignore a problem, maybe it will go away, maybe something will change, and sometimes it does seem to go away for a time, but it comes back to you and is glaring you in the face, demanding to be dealt with. These evils I have been through before, the victory has been so small, so seemingly insignificant that they seem just as large as ever, perhaps even larger because of their history. Will I fail again in battle, will those doing battle with me fail again. My experience says yes. I complain to God and ask, Why? It shouldn’t be this way. Don’t you want something better for me? I don’t want to admit that maybe He is perfectly content with the place I am in, and even desires me to be there. He wants all of me, and all my sustenance to come from Him, and all my needs to be met by Him. We want to protect ourselves to survive, yet Christ demands we die, we lay down our lives. I cry inwardly. I don’t want to die, dying isn’t pleasant, it isn’t lovely, it hurts. I know I will be brought through the fire, it will refine me, but it will kill me. Am I willing to die? That is the question in my mind today. I am prayerfully trying to trust God, and that it will work to some end that is not in my mind, trusting that He can transform clay pots to glorious treasure.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Hope Springs Eternal

Well, my lovely sisters wrote such inspiring blog posts this week, though truthfully I had been thinking of writing one before that, so here's mine.
I am happy! I love spring, it is my favorite time of year. I get sunshine and dirty hands :-) I am happy spiritually too. God's been working on me, I just had a big test this weekend, and I passed. I made the choice to trust Him by faith. I don't know what my future holds, or if it will "physically" look as lovely as mine is now, but somehow that doesn't matter, because I know who He is, and He only wants the best for me. I am happy that I can look beyond the immediate and my own desires and just be quiet and trusting in Him.

Our house is making quite a bit of progress this year. We have begun to sheet rock the second floor- yay! Finally done with lead paint! The barn is slowly getting cleaned out, but we have expanded our animal pens to house more ducks and chickens. We planted more trees/bushes, and the veggie garden will be bigger than ever. The somewhat dangerous, water filled, hole in the back yard is getting filled, and our fencing is about 3/4 done. It has been exciting to cross so many things off of our list this Spring.

Other lessons learned lately:
Quiet- be quite in my soul. I cannot hear that still small voice if my inward parts are so consumed with my own thoughts, agenda, and outside influences. I have been practicing quietness even in the busyness. What a freeing thing to have busy hands and busy days, but a quiet spirit. I am so thankful and it is much better than an anxious, worn out heart. Abiding in Him is where our momentary strength comes, and it is how we make wise choices in the disruptive moments of the day.

Big picture- it's so not about me! It's about Him! Only one fills the void, brings peace, offers life, security, thankfulness...It all goes back to Him. Fear is a funny thing, our fear often holds us back from the thing that would free us. Too many "what ifs". The beauty of knowing God, is that there is no need for fear. He has promised to provide for us, watch over us, sustain us, guide us etc. There is no area in life that God has not spoken and that he does not touch with his presence. When we begin to step out in faith and trust Him- not just SAY we trust, but ACT on that trust, that we being to experience freedom. We don't care what other's think of us, because God's opinion is the one that matters. We don't need certain things to be happy, because God is our true source of joy. We don't have to be treated a certain way by others, because God's everlasting love touches our lives. We don't need to fear situations or the future, because God is in control, nothing will happen that He does not allow. I find security and freedom in these promises of God, and they give me a boldness that I could never muster myself. If we really believe what God says and in who He says He is, then we will be contagious Christians.

It is neat to be on the other side of some of those pains previously during the year. I can see the hand of God, and it has built my trust in Him. I could not see any good in some of those situations. I can now see that good, and I am thankful for all I went through. God doesn't "waste" a moment in time. It is all in His plan. How we ultimately respond to that plan determines if we experience joy or sorrow. I don't know about you, but I definitely want the joy. That doesn't mean every moment of our lives is joyful, nope, but it does mean that our spirits are in a state of trust that brings a peace even through hurt or hardship. Joy comes in the morning, after the darkness.

My reptilian body is freezing sitting here by the computer- off to soak in the sun :-)
Grace and peace to you! Grow closer to Him- you will never regret it.
Anna

Friday, October 12, 2012

Too many thoughts for such a fragile brain

Where to start... this year, though not over, has been one of the hardest of my life. There have been just as many good things in it as well. I must confess, I often get caught up in the whirlwind, wondering how I will survive the current trial or test. A week later I am saying, wow, that wasn't so bad, and the "new" trial seems so much harder. The Lord certainly gives us what we ask for, "Lord, grow me, prepare us for the ministry, let me glorify You!" Wow, if we continually submit, the next thing comes and we continue to grow, but, baby, those growing pains hurt!

Some of the things I have learned this year are:
strengthening relationships, getting things right, confessing sin, forgiving, letting go of hurt, taking a chance, caring for others more than myself, to love my enemy, care for the lost.
How is it my thoughts are SO selfish! Lost in my mind, my own cares, forgetting that others bear heavy burdens too. "Lord, help me to see others like you do!"

There are so many questions that have been going through my mind, and they still are, the Lord has not answered, and I am trying to patiently wait. There are times when the deceiver speaks into my mind and makes me question the goodness of God, that His plan must have gone off course. How silly of me to think God's plan would be my plan :-) Ideally it would match up, but in my humanity, I think my desires and thoughts are what God wants for me. I am more focused on myself than the "big picture".

I am so thankful for the Lord's everlasting love, never ending love, sheltering love. "O, Jesus, help me to see through your eyes! If I did, I would not act the way that I do." What does it take for us to stay in His spirit? Do not forsake your brothers and sisters in Christ( there have been so many words spoken to me from the Lord through another believer) Do not forsake His word( He has given us all we need to follow him. Are we even trying to learn it?) Do not forsake fellowship with Him(worship and prayer connect us to him in a powerful way!) Do not run from rebuke(The Lord is chastening us to make us like Himself, not to hurt us. If we submit we grow, if we rebel we drift away.) They say pride is the root of all sin. I think it must be true. Humility is so crushing, so against who I want to be. God won't use the person who says "my way", He uses the person who says "Your way".

Some books that have been influencing me lately on my spiritual journey:
http://www.amazon.com/Unstuff-Making-Room-Really-Matters/dp/1414334788/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1350070512&sr=8-1&keywords=unstuffed

so good! Wow, my heart is way too wrapped up in stuff!

http://www.amazon.com/Three-Free-Sins-Gods-Not/dp/1451612265/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1350070583&sr=1-1&keywords=three+free+sins

Wow, I read this book, and felt as free as a bird! Does God really forgive me and love me no matter what I do. That is what I say I believe, but do I live that way? I found myself saying "no"! I only wish I could keep these concept alive in my mind all the time- it totally transformed my life.

http://www.amazon.com/Financial-Peace-Revisited-Dave-Ramsey/dp/0670032085/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1350070783&sr=1-1&keywords=financial+peace+university

I love this guy! What an energized man on a mission! So grateful for his wisdom with finances. We are still in the process, but team Powers is on the way to the finish line! I have learned that some of my thinking about stuff, money, our future, has been wrong, and unbiblical. May the Lord take us to the next step financially as we seek to honor Him in every area of life!

http://www.amazon.com/Focus-Familys-Truth-Project-DVD/dp/B008VPDL1G/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1350070956&sr=1-4&keywords=the+truth+project+focus+on+the+family

What a great DVD series, if you ever get the chance to go through it, do so! It is so amazing how God has spoken into every area of life! The order and design that He created is self-evident and a reflection of who He is. Our Christianity touches all areas of life!

What are some of the good things: It would take pages... the Lord has blessed us beyond words! From wild geese in the freezer, to yummy food, clothing, workers, healing. We never feel a lack of care from our Father. He has blessed us with wonderful friends committed to His truth. Children who continually make us laugh and wonder. A car that has saved us lots on fuel! Good fellowship with family...

We trust that He will continue to lead us to do His will. To open the door for us to serve Him in a full-time capacity.

I would appreciate your prayers as I seek to follow the Lord.

I want to be a lovely, attentive wife.
A mother who cares more about spending time with her loves, than cleaning her house.
Thinking of others before myself in conversation, becoming a good questioner.
Trusting the Lord's plan for us, that His timing is perfect.
Becoming a better pray-er. For my family, for others, for my church, and nation.
To have a song in my heart. I often let the dark thoughts loom to heavily in my mind.
Living in the grace of Jesus and the work He has done on the cross, and to share that passion with those who do not know it!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Death by Chocolate

Chocolate lovers come nigh!
I have made a chocolate recipe that I LOVE! 
 It's rich, dark, and decadent, and you won't believe it's good for you!



Raw cocoa butter
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004GPB8SI/ref=oh_details_o01_s00_i00

I really like this cocoa butter. It is good quality and will make your chocolate SO good! A little goes a long way, so don't be scared by the price. I would keep it in the freezer for long storage.


Coconut oil

I did not put this in the recipe before, but I now believe it is necessary for a smoother chocolate. If you like your chocolate a little harder just stick with the cocoa butter. Amazon is a great resource for coconut oil. Health food stores always have it on hand as well.


Cocoa powder

Buy something good quality. I would recommend an organic variety and something that is free trade. Amazon is another great resource for this. I bought mine through a local food coop.

Raw honey

I sweetened my chocolate with raw honey. Filtered or unfiltered will work. Make sure it is raw for max nutritional benefits. Usually found at a local grocery store or health food store. Local honey is great for allergy suffers. What better way to have some, then through chocolate!

Vanilla( optional)

Just make sure it isn't that awful imitation stuff. We are going for superior flavor in our chocolate!

Essential oils (optional) or other natural flavorings

This is for different flavors. The oil distributes beautifully because you are mixing it into an oil.
Only a few drops are needed. I would recommend Nature's Alchemy as a good resource for quality oil. You want something pure and not diluted.
Try- Orange, lemon, peppermint, or lavender

Toppings( optional)

Nuts
Chopped dried fruit
Chopped herb


Let's get started.

What you need
Pot
Whisk
Measuring devices
Parchment paper/wax paper
Cookie sheet or other shape for molding

Recipe- this makes quite a bit. It will last you for a while, or maybe it won't ;-)
1 cup cocoa butter
1-3 T of coconut oil(makes a creamier/smoother chocolate)
1 1/2 cups cocoa powder ( I would start with 1 1/4 cups and work up, you don't want it too thick)
2/3 cup raw honey
1/2- 1 tsp of vanilla

Take parchment paper and line a small to medium sized cookie sheet(with edges) It is best if the paper goes up on the sides. You could use a bread pan to make a thick bar, or use candy molds for small shapes.(no paper needed for the molds)

Melt cocoa butter in small- medium sized pot. Use low to medium-low heat so the cocoa butter is not damaged. ( if adding coconut oil do it now)
Once melted remove from heat. Whisk in cocoa powder. Once incorporated add honey and vanilla. Keep whisking till it slightly thickens and becomes shiny.

At this time you could flavor your chocolate with essential oil of choice or extract of choice.
I decided to pour half of my mixture and then do a different flavor for the second half.

Poor chocolate onto cookie sheet and add any toppings at this time. Put in the fridge for about 30mins to 1 hour. Take your chocolate out and snap into pieces or release from mold. In the summer it should be stored in the fridge to keep firm. The cocoa butter will become soft at warmer temperatures.

ENJOY! You will be so glad you made this. It's as simple as 123! Super healthy, and super good!

Please share any flavor combos you come up with!!

note: Stevia extract can be used. The proportions would need to be changed( something I have not yet tried)



Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Food for thought


Rethinking how we eat Part 1
Inspired by reading- Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life



Is it possible as Christians we have been sucked into the worldly way of eating? Have we forsaken simplicity and nature for the latest thing?



As I think about these sorts of questions I can’t help but think about God’s word. We are supposed to be “in the world, but not of the world” what does that mean for us. It is not just our clothing, or media choices that might separate us from the world’s likeness. Could it be the way we eat? How we buy our food and where we buy our food?

We know that the Lord wants us to take care of our “temple”. We should be taking care of our bodies from the stewardship point of view so we are better able to serve the Lord. We will spend less time “sick” and have the energy and vitality to invest in the lives of others. That, after all, is what we were called to do in the great commission.
So, what about how we buy our food, what could the Bible have to say about that? There are several things that come to mind. The bible talks about the “laborer being worthy of his hire” , is our local farmer worthy of his hire? Should be buy food from them instead of Walmart? Something in me says yes for several reasons. Stewardship comes to mind again. It takes less energy to buy local food than it does to have it brought from Mexico. From a different stewardship angle you are getting fresher and better food, and will be healthier. The great commission comes to mind again as we build relationships with people around us like our farmers. We will have opportunities to witness, not only through our actions of supporting them, but through our constant contact in their lives.



What if we are feeding our worldly habits? Have we forgotten self-control when it comes to eating?

There is something to be said about eating what is in season. We will be grateful for when “new things” come into season, like a ripe tomato! Oh the joy and extravagance from waiting all winter to bite into a juicy tomato, but when winter rolls around again, we can look forward to “new” crops. Perhaps we have become a little too accustomed to having everything NOW. Has the world crept in with out us noticing? Have we said no to God's best for us? Choosing to eat lousy, tasteless produce when it is out of season. Maybe it is better for our character to wait for the foods that each season brings. To have a celebration at each season, because there will actually be something to celebrate. We will have different weather, but different foods as well. We will have something to look forward to and something to be thankful for. When we get too far removed from the dirt and the animals we forget the miracle process that God made it. We forget the work, the toil, the waiting and watching, but the reward is amazing! We harvest, we store, we eat. The blessing is greater and we are happier.

I believe when we slow down and see the world around us, nature working and us taking our part, God will speak to us, and we will respond with thankfulness and joy. He will grow our character as he grows his world!

I know this is a very controversial subject, and my own household isn't ready to give up those special treats like chocolate and bananas, but I can't help thinking that hard times are coming our way and we might have to live seasonally anyway. Let me know your thoughts and what your view on food is.