The power of one word

 

Beth Vogt
Beth Vogt

As the new year approaches, we will start setting our new years goals. Some people find a word for the year to focus on. My friend Beth does just that. Please help me welcome to the table this week, Christy Award winning fiction author, Beth K. Vogt. She has some wise words on this topic. She also has a gift to give for Christmas! There of course will still be a recipe for you at the end. Enjoy the conversation today and enter to win the gift!

 

 

“Words have the power to make things happen.” Frederick Buechner (1926-), American writer & theologian

I believe in the power of words, both spoken and written.

The words we speak can either encourage or alienate other people. As an author, I want the words I write to do more than entertain my readers. I pray over my novels, weaving in truths and threads of hope.

But in the past 13 years, I’ve discovered the power of one word to change my life.

The New Year used to be a time for making my list and checking it twice – a list of New Year’s resolutions, that is. I’d plot out my do’s and don’ts for the coming months, all in hopes of becoming a better me by the time the next New Year rolled around.

The only problem? I always lost my oh-so-carefully-thought-out list within a few weeks of writing it. All my good intentions gone, leaving me feeling like a failure, year after year.

And then I discovered the idea of focusing on one word for an entire year. Just a single word, instead of a numbered list. It’s hard to forget one word, right?

My steps for determining my One Word each year are simple:

  1. Each September, I start mulling over my One Word for the coming New Year. No decisions … just tossing words around in my head. And yes, I pray through this process, too.
  2. God uses a variety of methods to help me decide my One Word. I watch for a repeated word to rise up, possibly through what I’m reading in my Bible, or through the books I’m reading, or songs I’m listening to, or maybe a sermon series.
  3. Once I know what my One Word is, I look for a Scripture verse to go with it.
  4. I also look for some sort of visual to go with my One Word: a graphic or a photograph.

My One Word becomes my focus for the next 12 months, something I concentrate on, allowing God to deepen my understanding of the word and to change me – how I act and react to people and situations.

Some of my One Words have been:

  •  gratitude– I kept a gratitude journal and found my “glass-half-empty” attitude revolutionized.
  • forgiveness– I had a lot to learn and unlearn about forgiveness, praying through broken relationships.
  • collaborate– Collaborate means “to work jointly on an activity, especially to produce or create something.” I focused on collaborating with God in my writing life.
  • kind– Ephesians 4:32a encourages us to “Be kind to one another.” In 2018, I started each week with a quote on kindness, sharing it on Instagram and Facebook, and looking for opportunities to be compassionate and kind.

anchor hanging on side of boat near shore
My One Word for 2019 is “anchor.” After compiling a series of my anchor verses – key Scripture verses that have helped me through the years – I’m going to focus on where I anchor my thoughts.

What about you? Are you a New Year’s Resolution kind of person or do you focus on One Word? Never heard about choosing a word for the year? You can read more about it the  book My One Word: Change Your Lifewith Just One Wordby Mike Ashcraft and Rachel Olsen.

BIO:Beth K. Vogt is a non-fiction author and editor who said she’d never write fiction. She’s the wife of an Air Force family physician (now in solo practice) who said she’d never marry a doctor—or anyone in the military. She’s a mom of four who said she’d never have kids. Now Beth believes God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” A Christy Award winner, as well as an ACFW Carol Award winner, Beth’s first women’s fiction novel for Tyndale House Publishers, Things I Never Told You, released May 2018. Moments We Forget, book 2 in her “Little Women gone wrong” series releases May 2019.

Cover of Things I Never Told You
Want a chance to win a copy of Beth’s book, Things I never Told You? Comment on this post and you’ll be entered into a drawing for a copy of her book! Complete rules can be found by clicking Contest Rules

Now, for this week’s recipe:

Dinner plate with 2 sloppy joes and a side of cheesy tomato pasta

Sloppy Joes with Cheesy Tomato Macaroni

Sloppy Joes:

1 lb. ground beef/turkey/chicken

1 can tomato soup (condensed, no water added)

Approximately 1 Tbsp. Mustard

Approximately 2-3 Tbsp. Ketchup

2 Tbl. Brown sugar

Dash or 2 of season salt

Brown ground beef/turkey/chicken in a large skillet. Drain. Before returning the meat to the pan… empty contents of tomato soup, add mustard, ketchup, brown sugar, and season salt. Stir together until well blended. Add additional of any of the ingredients (except tomato soup) if desired. Return meat to skillet and heat through on medium low heat for about 10 minutes. MMM MMM Good!

Cheesy Tomato Macaroni:

1 lb. Spiral noodles (or noodles of choice)

1 large can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes

4-6 oz. triple cheddar shredded cheese

4-6 oz. mild cheddar shredded cheese (this depends how cheesy you like it)

1 stick butter

In large crock pot, place butter, crushed tomatoes, and cheeses. Turn on high with lid on to get things melting. Meanwhile, cook noodles as lable directs. Drain. When cheeses and butter are mostly melted, add noodles and mix well. Place the lid back on and continue cooking on high about 30 minutes to infuse flavors and finish melting. Comfort food for sure!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What… she’s pregnant?

Hello again my friends. I would like to make just a little adjustment to my blog posts…

I would like to begin them with a short prayer:

Father in Heaven, I ask that You remove me from this post and stand in my place. Let these words be Yours Lord and let them be heard from You and not me. Go before this post is read and be with those who are reading it. In Jesus name, Amen.

Thank you for allowing me this addition.

I want to tell you a little bit about a young woman who found out a bit of shocking news at an unexpected time. This young woman discovered she was pregnant when she was quite young. Around fifteen years old or so. She was frightened at first. She was confused, alarmed and uncertain how to handle this news. She knew the talk about her condition would not be kind. People would whisper as she walked by, looking condemningly down their noses at her. Then there was the dreaded task of telling her fiancé that she was with child… and it wasn’t his baby.

As she stood ringing her hands and pacing the floor, she mulled over her options. She could simply disappear from her community so no one would know, including her fiancé. She could pray that her husband to be would be understanding about this and marry her anyway, although in reality that was not likely to happen.

Oh how she agonized about this situation. Her mother was presumably not available for consultation since she never mentioned her as being able to talk to. For that matter, neither was her Father. She did, however have a trusted cousin she could turn to for advice. So much so that she spent three months with her to discuss, plan, pray, and just talk as women in a similar situation. Ya see, her cousin was also pregnant. She was farther along than her youthful cousin. The older cousin’s pregnancy was a shocker as well. Her age too was a bit scandalous. Though she was married, it was something unusual to be having your first child at such an advanced age.

Both women leaned on each other in their situations. The younger woman, feeling more assured of her situation. She returned home to her soon-to-be spouse and shared the news with him. He was understandably upset and initially wanted to break things off and go their separate ways. So now she has no parental support, fear of judgment from her community, and no shoulder to lean on from her beloved. She was alone.

But she felt a calling on her life and a reason for this pregnancy. She remained faithful to that calling. She trusted in the bigger plan.

It’s a good thing she did. Otherwise we wouldn’t have a savior.

The young woman we are reading about here is the young betrothed Mary.

I pray that I would have this kind of trust and faithfulness this young woman had. Blindly trusting in such an outlandish and unpredictable plan. Sometimes life throws us some major curve balls and we have no control over the outcome or the events surrounding it. But if we will trust in the bigger plan, it can have amazing, outrageous, lifesaving results!

This young woman was certainly terrified and unsure of how she would get through this. But ultimately she trusted in her Lord and His plan for her life. Even when she had no one to lean on at the beginning of the journey. She got the news and faced it without another person to face it with her. But she was not alone. Her Lord was her shoulder to lean on. That’s all she needed to get through the initial shock of what was to come. God did give her people to lean on after she told Him she would trust Gods plan for her and be completely willing to go along with all of it. If we are willing to follow Gods’ plans, no matter how crazy they may seem, we just might be surprised at what He has in mind. Will you trust Him with your plans? Will I?

I want to share a homemade gift idea with you for this Christmas season. Many times, we need a little something for a teacher, nail tech, hair dresser, secret Santa and the list goes on…

This is inexpensive and adorable for anyone… and it’s homemade!

You will need:

  • 1 whole orange
  • ¼ cup cinnamon candies
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg
  • About 6 cranberries
  • 1 large/2 small cinnamon sticks
  • About 10 whole cloves
  • Holiday cellophane treat bags with ties

Slice the orange in half. Place it and all remaining items into bag and tie shut with the tie. Voila! Homemade potpourri! Add a tag with the directions to place items in a medium sauce pan with water and simmer for a home filled with the fragrance of Christmas! I plan to use a few of these myself this year.

P.S. If you haven’t signed up to get Around The Table posts in your in-box, now is a good time to do that. Share it with a friend too. Next week I have a special guest on the blog who will be doing a give away of one of her books! Intrigued? Come on back to the table next week to learn more…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All or nothing

Well Hello dear friends! I hope your Thanksgiving was very blessed and filled with joy. May I now wish you my first Merry Christmas of the season? I am happy to report that my turkey came out perfectly as you can see on my Instagram account. Food was on the table on time and everything went off without a hitch. Wheeeew! I have been taking down m Fall decorations and putting up the Christmas bobbles. Most of my trees are up. Yes, I said most. I put up five trees ‘round here. My two main trees are up. I am also happy to report that the lights on said trees are all working. Wheeew again. It’s never fun to find out that after putting the tree up and getting it strung with lights (although ours is pre-lite) only to find out that half the lights don’t work! UGH!

11-28-18My daughter and I usually are in charge of the inside décor while my husband and son are the outdoor crew. The icicle lights hang from the roof, rope lights are around the lamp post with the grapevine snowman standing proudly next to it, and the garlands with lights are wound around the windows and doors. It looks so festive and we usually try to have it all ready to be turned on thanksgiving night. This year we were a couple days late but it was still in the holiday weekend time frame.

This process also went pretty much the same way as the trees did, all the lights were working, but then that most frustrating thing about Christmas lights happened… half a strand stopped working! Heavy sigh. Of course no one wants to leave a strand of half baked lights up on display, right? So the testing begins. Which bulb is it? Eventually one of two things happens… either my guys find the defective bulb and replace it, or the whole strand comes down and a new one is put up.

After this hiccup is resolved, the Christmas lights display is once again shining and festive. Because let’s face it, if half a strand isn’t lit, people will definitely notice it.

Have you ever noticed that it’s just like this in our Christian walk as well? If we haven’t given our whole selves to Jesus, we won’t shine as brightly. People notice when only half a strand is glowing. The whole display of Jesus in our lives has a blotted-out section if we keep a little of ourselves back from Him to do the things “WE” want to do. Maybe those Christmas lights didn’t want to glow. Maybe they wanted to remain in darkness. But then they miss out on the beautiful glorious display that is going on around them.

Maybe there are things in your life that you want to still hang onto for yourself and not give over to Jesus. Maybe something is still in darkness. Maybe you feel like you’re in darkness. I certainly have felt that way before. I didn’t want to trust that God had a better plan when He asked me to surrender the independence back to Him after I prayed so long for it. I wanted to hold on to it for myself. My bulbs blew out at that point. God had to show me my burned-out lights and I didn’t want to have them worked on. So God had to restring a different strand. One that would shine brightly and once again be a part of His display going on in my life.

Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

Friends, if we let Jesus fully live in us, our display will be nothing short of beautiful! If we keep parts of ourselves back from Jesus to remain hidden in darkness, the beautiful display is interrupted by burned out lights. God already has your beautiful display planned out so let Him display it fully. Let others see that display. Let them ooohh and aaahh at the array of shimmering colors twinkling and glistening.

Remember driving around, looking at all the houses decorated at Christmas? Be the one people want to stop at and comment how beautiful the display is. Let Jesus replace bulbs or restring a whole strand if needed. Give it all over to Him and let His light shine in you!

Ok lets just jump right in with some Christmas cookies, shall we? I know you can buy premade sugar cookie dough in the store but… lets make ‘em from scratch huh?

Sugar Cookies

1 cup sugar

½ cup butter, softened (no cheating, the real thing)

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla (the real thing)

2 eggs

2 ½ cups flour

2 tsp. baking powder

½ Tb. Cream (half & half)

In large bowl, beat sugar and softened butter together. Add the eggs, vanilla and cream and continue beating with mixer until well blended. In separate bowl, blend together the dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to sugar mixture and beat together. It will be stiff so you may half to use your hands to form into a ball. Chill in refrigerator for at least one hour before using. Roll out onto floured work surface and use your favorite Christmas cookie cutters to cut out shapes. Place on greased cookie sheet or better yet, one lined with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. When they are cooled, frost them with the following icing…

1 cup powdered sugar

2 Tb. Cream to start with

2 Tb. Softened butter

Splash of vanilla

Beat together and add more cream if needed 1 table spoon at a time. Get creative and add colors or flavors such as peppermint, eggnog, or almond to spice up your icing. Gather the fam and bake, bake, bake!

 

God are you really asking me to speak?

I have offered myself to God over the last several years telling Him that if He wanted me to speak for Him then I would. He of course would have to open those doors and make it clear to me that He wanted me to walk through said open door. I prayed a specific prayer about this. I would not go knocking on those doors so someone would open one of them. No, this had to be by invitation only so I knew that God was indeed calling me to speak for Him.

Over the weekend I received said prayed for invitation. This is coming from my own home church but it is still an invitation. I wonder if you would allow me to practice (in written word) with all of you here at the table? It would help me to organize my thoughts and most of all, I pray it ministers to you.

As many of you may know, my husband is a master carpenter. He uses many different tools for his work. When the jobs differ, the use of a specific tool differs. He uses pretty much all of them on every job at some point. They all are equally valuable to him and they all get treated with the same tender loving care. They each have a particular place in his garage and/or work van. There isn’t one tool in his collection that he sees and says “I have no use for you”.

I cannot recall any given time that he left to go to work and came right back declaring he wasn’t’ taking his tools anywhere because they wouldn’t stop bickering about who was most valuable or most important or who was better equipped to do the job!

In the master’s hand, all of the tools are valuable, cared for and used according to the job they were designed and called to do. Now by the same token… I’ve never heard my husband come home and declare what an awful day he had because his tools simply refused to obey and do the tasks they were designed to do even though the end result was a beautifully crafted project that many people will benefit from. Can you imagine such a scenario?

My nephew-in-law is quite the artist and posts his art work on Facebook from time to time. He is very gifted and pays great attention to detail. Intricate lines and shading are woven throughout the piece. Where I’ve heard him mention how long a piece took or how many times he had to begin again, I’ve never heard him say that the paint, pencils or chalk simply wouldn’t produce the color they were designed to produce. Nor has he said the canvas just refused to display the art work he was trying to create. He too treats his artists tolls with love and care, valuing each one of them for their abilities.

I know I’ve mentioned my favorite verse in the bible as being John 9:3 which says “Jesus answered, ‘It was not that this man sinned or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him’”. I love that this verse starts with the words “Jesus answered” because… well… Jesus always answers. Here we have a man who was born blind. He spent his entire life in darkness. He would have had an acceptable reason by our human standards to be angry and confused by his circumstances. He sat begging each day just to meet even his minimal needs. If we were in similar circumstances, we  would most likely be frustrated and want to ask the all to popular question… “WHY ME?”

But ya know what? He didn’t. Jesus made some mud and placed it on his eyes and told him to go wash in the pool of Siloam. Without a backward glance, he went. No questions, no demanding an explanation, no refusal. He listened to Jesus telling the on-lookers that he was born this way so that Gods’ work might be displayed in him. Don’t miss the word “might”. This word means a polite request or used to say that something is possible. He had a choice! He could have chosen to not believe that Jesus couldn’t possibly make him see. After all, he was born blind. This was not restoring sight he once had; no, he was going to give the blind man sight he never possessed. If he chose to let it, Gods’ work would be displayed in a way that would make many a believer after seeing how the blind man who everyone knew, could now see!

The blind man allowed his situation AKA, his canvas, his tools… to be used to display Gods’ power. He didn’t ask to be paid for allowing it, he didn’t ask to be popular for allowing it, he didn’t ask to be rich and famous because of it. But he will be talked about forever for his choice to let Gods’ work be displayed in him.

Friends, we can make the same choice to let our circumstances be God’s canvas or structure to display His glorious power and divinity. Our divorce, our sorrow over a loved one passing, our financial struggles, our addictions, our disabilities, all of it can be used to display Gods’ work if we allow it too.

Ever go to a firework show at night? Ever try to see them in the day time? The glorious display of colors and brightness is seen better when darkness is the backdrop. Let God’s glorious colors and brightness be displayed through your darkness. Let His work be displayed in you?

On this Thanksgiving I’m so very thankful God has revealed this truth to me. I’m so thankful for all of you here at my table. I pray a special thanksgiving blessing over each of your thanksgiving tables this year. Take some time and list your blessings from this past year and share them with one another. That’s the best food of all. I would love to here your thanksgiving traditions and/or favorite dishes for our dinner. Happy Thanksgiving to each and every one of you?

P.S. You all have your dishes you prepare for thanksgiving I’m sure. Next week I’ll offer you a recipe to head into the Christmas season. My heart is with you all!

 

 

My offering of 5 loaves and 2 fish

Sometimes I feel like I don’t have much to offer with my story. You know, not a lot of teachable moments to offer up as learning tools. But I feel God impressing me to offer you my five loaves and two fish. In John chapter 6, Jesus asks Phillip a question. Seeing a very large crowd coming towards Him, Jesus turns to His disciple with these words on His lips… “Where are we to by bread so that these people may eat?” Jesus already knew the plan for feeding this massive group. Phillip answered His question with what I kinda envision to be a bit of an attitude. Lord, are you kidding me? It would take nearly a year’s wages to give each of these people just a little bit of food.

There was a young boy hanging around this crowd for some reason or another and in my imagination, he overhears the exchange between Jesus and Phillip and steps forward. ”I have some food” I can hear him saying. Another skeptical disciple named Andrew relays the information to Jesus with a scoff… “What good is the little bit of food this youngster has with him?” Oh I wish I could have been among that crowd to witness first hand how Jesus took the only offering to give everything he had from a little boy, and multiplied it so much they had left overs! Let me offer to you my five loaves and two fish and I pray God multiplies it as needed.

As I have mentioned before, I grew up feeling like I could just never be like everyone else in the areas of driving, sports or dating. Well, having the feelings that no man would want damaged goods, I was so delighted when, at eighteen years old, my knight in shining armor came into my life just when I needed him to. Oh he was so attentive and romantic. He called me all the time to tell me he missed me and loved me. When we would go out, he always wanted me next to him to let people know we were in love. I was so blind (if you’ll pardon the pun).

After being together for just a couple months, he began to show signs that I didn’t see then but are crystal clear now. He bought a cassette tape that he said was his message of love to me. The title of the song was “Possession”. I thought this was so incredibly romantic and demonstrated just how much he loved me. Oh, how wrong I was. The main verse in the song says “you’re my obsession, I want possession of you.” He made that very clear over the next several months.

He began showing signs of jealousy when we would go out. He accused me of “checking out” other guys. Mind you I couldn’t even see if it was a guy or a girl but never-the-less, I was cheating with my blind eyes. He began insisting I keep some memento from every place we went. These were literally items anyone one else would throw in the trash. Empty cups, plastic spoons, wrappers, that kind of thing. He demanded I display them in my room so others would know how in love with him I was and no one would stand in the way of that. I quickly was no longer allowed to wear makeup or style my hair to much. This of course was to eliminate drawing any attention from another man. Just who was I trying to impress anyway? It eventually escalated to him pushing me. I don’t honestly remember the incident that triggered that, but it really didn’t matter what it was. Pushing turned into slapping, slapping turned into punching and kicking. It always does! It never mattered what I did, anything would trigger him. Something that never triggered him before, would trigger him another time. The question always gets asked in these situations… Why did you stay?

The answer is different for everyone. For me, it was more than just a fear of leaving. He made me understand in no uncertain terms that no other man would ever want damaged goods. The very term I used on myself for many years. No one would know how to “take care of me” nor would even want to besides him. I witnessed many violent outbursts from him that usually were “my fault.” I suffered many bruises and bloody noses and lips at his hand. One stays with me to this day. I have a fifty-five percent hearing loss in my left ear as a result of his abuse.

I remember very clearly my last violent interaction with him. I am going to share it with you in the hopes the scene will help even one young woman get out of a bad relationship. He had picked me up and brought me back to his house. He still lived with his parents as did I. They however were gone for the whole day. After we arrived at his house, he was called into work. This meant I could either have him take me back home or sit at his parent’s house for the next eight hours by myself. I knew no matter what answer I gave, it would be the wrong one. If I wanted to go home, it was so I could hang out with another man. If I wanted to stay, it was so I could have said other man pick me up where no one would see us. I chose to go home to my parent’s house. At least other people were around to vouch for the fact that I spent the day in my room alone. Mistake.

He flew into a rage accusing me of cheating on him with multiple men and I just couldn’t wait to get home to one of them and make a fool of him. I freed myself from his grasp and ran to the bathroom and locked the door. Unfortunately, the window in that bathroom was not big enough to get out of. He pounded and pounded on the door. Screaming at me to let him in. I didn’t. I heard him move away from the door. I’d hoped he would give up and just go onto work. He didn’t. He had gone to get a screwdriver or something to help him gain entrance to the bathroom. The next thing I knew, the door flew open. He charged at me and drug me out by my hair. He threw me around and shoved me to the floor. Repeatedly grabbing my hair and forcing me to look at him, he called me many horrible names. Never quite sure what direction he would toss me next due to my vision loss, I hoped he would just tire of doing what he was doing and just leave for work.

I don’t really remember how long it went on but he eventually did leave me there and go on his way. Stiff and completely disheveled, I called my parents to pick me up. I of course didn’t mention the real reason why. Just that he didn’t have time to bring me home after getting called into work. They were on their way so I went into the bathroom again and brushed my snarled and ratted hair. I washed my face and returned my clothes to their proper arrangement. I awaited pick up. I went home and never told anyone. A short time later I left him for good because I had my family who knew more than I realized, and friends who were willing to keep me occupied so as not to go back to him and all his lies of promising to change.
That’s all those promises are… just lies. He was lying to me and himself. He could never change without professional help. If I can get one message across to young women who think they are in love and want to protect and help the person abusing them it’s that YOU can’t. You can’t love them out of abusing you. Your love is not the problem. No amount of patience or understanding will stop the abuse. I had and still have healing to do from that situation. God brought into my life another man a few years later who truly loves me. Loves my independents, my desire to follow Jesus, and my passion for helping others. He encourages me to be all God intends for me to be. He doesn’t need me to be at his side every waking moment but loves when I make time for he and I to sit together. Friends, this is the kind of love God wants for us. Freedom to love! God’s love is not demanding and accusatory. It’s open and free. He loves us with an unconditional love and has His arms open to us to CHOOSE Him. It is my prayer and hope that this ministry will help someone understand God’s free gift of love.

God’s word is filled with examples of His love for each of us. Seek those words out and read them over and over. Insert your name into those promises of His love. If you are in a situation like the one I write about here, I will be praying for you. Please consider getting the help you need to find freedom. God be with you friends.

This was food for thought… may I offer you some comfort food to go with it?

This is an old family favorite and many of you may have your own version of mac and cheese. But it’s a great comfort food and maybe this one is a little different…

Pan of baked macaroni and cheese

Baked Bacon Mac & Cheese

2 1/2 cups milk

2 Tbsp. flour

3 Tbsp. butter (the real thing)

8 oz. Triple cheddar cheese

8 oz. Sharp cheddar cheese

2 oz. mozzarella cheese

Dash of season salt

1 16 oz. box Cavatopi noodles

6-8 Slices turkey bacon; cooked

1 sleeve Ritz crackers crushed

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Boil noodles as label directs in a Dutch oven. In medium sauce pan, simmer milk and butter together on medium low heat until butter is melted. Add flour and whisk constantly for approximately 3 minutes. Begin adding cheeses a little at a time to melt evenly. When all cheeses are added and melted, put in a dash of season salt. Drain noodles and return to Dutch oven. Pour melted cheese sauce over noodles and mix well. Cut cooked bacon into pieces and add to mac and cheese. Pour into 9 x 13 casserole dish. Sprinkle crushed crackers over top. Bake uncovered for about 20 minutes or until golden. Enjoy the ooey gooey deliciousness.

 

Guest Post: Lynn Cowell

When I first started blogging a year ago, I was honored and privileged to have Proverbs 31 Ministries author and speaker Lynn Cowell, invite me to guest post on her blog just one short month after my blog was live. I had just had a conversation with God telling Him I was giving this blog into His hands to grow it as He saw fit. Later that same day I received Lynn’s Email with the invitation.

Lynn has now graciously agreed to guest post for me just two months shy of one year from my guest post. I am so honored to share a post from Lynn with you this week. My special and heart felt thank you to her for many things, including this post…

When I Doubt My Confidence
Lynn Cowell

Lynn Cowell seated on steps outdoors “Mary therefore took a poundof expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” John 12:3 (NIV)

Why did this memory come back now after so many years?

All was quiet in the early hours of the morning as I spent some time with the Lord…when an unwanted memory popped in my mind.

Painful and hurt-filled, this memory from years ago, involved me unknowingly letting someone down. She felt I had failed her and that my failure was an indication that I was unqualified. She let others know what she thought as well.

I was well past that blow, wasn’t I?Why did it return now of all times?

As I reflected for a few moments, the Holy Spirit helped me understand. I had recently made a new move with the Lord, saying yes to a challenging assignment. Once I saw my returned memory in that light, it made sense. The enemy would remind me what he had tried to drill into me years before: you don’t have what it takes, trying to bring my confidence into doubt.

It’s not the first time Satan has used this tactic.

We see him do the same to Mary as she anointed the feet of Jesus in John 12:3.

Mary knew her culture’s rules, just as you and I know ours. She was very aware that her place was not at the feet of Jesus; women were not “allowed” to learn directly from a teacher. Yet, it didn’t matter to her what others thought.

MarymayhavefeltscaredofthecrowdsurroundingJesusasshe approached Him, but she didn’t allow fear to hold her back. Confidence in the love of Jesus compelled her.

Mary’s heart and eyes were on one person: Jesus. As her perfume drifted through the air, others turned toJesus, from whom this lovely fragrance emanated. As Mary made her move toward Jesus, the enemy made his.

Through Judas, Satan tried to push Mary and all who were witnessing her love to look anywhere but on the King of Glory. Push Mary to become self-conscious and look to herself.

PushMarytodrawattentiontoherselfthroughherreaction.Pushothers to doubt Mary’s sincerity and look to judge her. Push the entire room to validate Judas and look to exalt her accuser. Anywhere but looking upon Jesus.

The enemy hates God’s glory, this radiance, this confidence, which is the Holy Spirit Himself in us. This is why the enemy tries to crush our confidence, and one of his main tactics is diversion—getting our eyes off of Jesus.

We have to be aware that where God moves, the enemy moves. As long as we are on this earth and “the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8), there will be opportunities for our confidence to be attacked and for us to turn to our God for His help.

The day my failure came to mind, the enemy might have thought he was being oh-so-sneaky. He knows we reflect the beauty, goodness, and love of his enemy, Jesus. He will do all he can to push down this glory, and he will use any tactic, including our past failures and fears.

When you make your move toward Jesus, like Mary did, that means the enemy looks to move as well. He looks for an opportunity to bring opposition. Even while you are in the very act of advancing and growing in your faith, the enemy will try to stop you. When he presses, pushing us to abandon Christ’s confidence in us, we must push harder toward Jesus and remind the enemy that he is not qualified to do that.

Jesus, when the enemy uses his tactics to try to get me to take my eyes off You, help me to not abandon the confidence I have gained in You. Instead, help me to remember who You have proven Yourself to be to me and who You are in me. You are my confidence. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

Resources:

Lynn Cowell’s newest Bible study for women, Make Your Move: Finding Unshakeable Confidence Despite Your Fears and Failures,empowers women to build their confidence on Christ alone.

If you know a young girl who needs to learn to be brave and become courageous, confident and fearless, Brave Beauty: Finding the Fearless Youis the book for her! Order your copy here.

Reflect:

Take a moment to reflect on a time when the enemy attempted to steal God’s glory in you. It may have occurred, when like Mary, you were pointing others to your Jesus.

The enemy does not have the right or the power to steal from us what Jesus has already died to give us: freedom and healing. Take this time to once again thank Jesus that He is the King of Glory and deserves all our worship.

© 2017 by Lynn Cowell. All rights reserved.

Thank you again, Lynn! And now for this week’s recipe to share around the table:

Twisted Green Bean Casserole

3 16oz. cans green beans, drained

1 ½ cups frozen corn (approximately 1 can)

2 cups sour cream

1 can cream of celery, onion, or mushroom soup (cream soup of your choice. I usually use onion or celery)

4 oz. buttery round crackers

½ cup butter melted

1 ½ cups shredded swiss cheese

Preheat oven to 350 digrees F. Place the green beans and corn into a 2 qrt. Dish, spread evenly. In medium Bowl stir sour cream, cream of soup. Spread over greenbean mix. Sprinkle cheese over the top. Stir together melted butter and crushed crackers, spread over the top.  Bake for 15-20 minutes.

This is a delicious new twist on an old classic for Thanksgiving. I hope you get a chance to give it a try!

 

I am so over this… I think

I have been evaluating my mobility, expectations of myself, what’s realistic for me… that kind of thing. For most of my life, I have wanted and tried to keep up with everyone else— figuratively and literally. If my friends were running to their next class, I wanted to run with them, no matter if it was safe for me to do or not. I didn’t want to be left behind. If my friends were all driving, then I wanted to try it too. No matter if was safe for me to do or not. I didn’t want to be left behind. If my friends were playing hide and seek in the dark (and I do mean DARK), I wanted to play it too. Even though it wasn’t safe for me to do… well… you know what comes next.

I just wanted to fit in with how everyone else was doing life. Even as an adult, I never wanted to use my cane out in public for fear of standing out from everyone else. I could hear the whispers before they even happened. You know the ones, “oh wow, look at that… she’s blind”, or “oh I feel so sorry for her”, or my personal favorite, “I could never go out in public if I was blind”. Mind you, these comments were not actually said to me, I just knew somehow that they would be. I did hear phrases like “what are you blind or something?” if I cut someone off in a grocery store isle. I’ve heard “Are you trying to smell that item?” when I’ve had to put something REALLY close to my face to see it.

-Just a little side note in case you are a new reader… I have 10 percent vision so I do see a little bit-

I have had people tell me how sorry they are that I’m blind. I’ve had people tell me they couldn’t do it. I’ve had people say how awful it must be to be blind. All those things and more. This didn’t exactly give me a lot of oomph to be using my cane and draw more attention to my blindness. The people who say how awful it must be or how sorry they are for me, really don’t mean to sound cruel or disrespectful in any way. I’m sure most of them are simply expressing sympathy for my situation. But this leads to feelings of being broken in some way.

But I can’t keep trying to keep up with other people. My blindness does not permit me to walk as swiftly as others do. I must be mindful of my steps to prevent me getting injured. The reality is that I would probably get much more of the “I feel so sorry for you” if I was trying to keep up and fell down a flite of stairs, as opposed to taking my time, using my cane, and walking with more grace and confidence. Don’t we all rush to much anyway? This is an adjustment for me in many ways. Slowing down is just necessary but not easy. I never wanted to be different from other people. I wanted to be as competent as anyone else. Slowing down was not proving that I could be. Not in my mind anyway. I just wanted to be like everyone else! But I’ve learned that I’m not meant to be like everyone else. Neither are you!

Psalm 139:14 says “I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

This use of the word “fearfully” means respectfully— reverently! Isn’t that cool? God made you with the upmost respect and reverence. Wonderfully means extremely well. You are extremely well made my friend! And so am I. Don’t we want to purchase things that are extremely well made? Don’t we honor things that are made with reverence and respect? Guess what? You have been bought, you are honored because you are well made and with respect. Jesus bought both of us with His very blood. Bet ya won’t find that on Amazon!

If I am fearfully and wonderfully made, I should be very careful with God’s merchandise huh? I am so over trying to keep up… I think. It’s a road I am traveling with Jesus. Maybe you’re on a road too? No matter what has happened… YOU ARE fearfully and wonderfully made! Will you pray for my journey? Will you let me pray for yours?

Now, may I offer you something to eat?

This is my kids’ favorite part of fall baking. My banana bread…

10-31

1 ¾ cups unbleached flour

1 ¼ tsp. baking powder

1 ½ tsp. baking soda

¾ tsp. salt

2/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup butter flavored shortening (you can substitute 1 stick of real butter) softened

2 eggs

2 Tbl. Cream (half & half)

Splash of vanilla

3-4 very ripe bananas

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in medium bowl. With electric mixer, beat softened shortening or butter together with sugar in large bowl. Add eggs, cream and vanilla, beat well. Add dry ingredients slowly to sugar mixture. Add smashed bananas and beat together. Pour into greased loaf pan (3 x 9). Bake for 50 minutes or until tooth pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Tip- parchment paper is the way to go on this if you have it. Easy clean up and keeps the bottom from getting to overdone.