Monday, April 6, 2020

Cookbook Comfort

"...for your Father knows what you need before you ask him" (Matthew 6:8 NIV).

Looking through cookbooks is always like being on vacation for me. I also like to watch exercise videos. Sometimes that's as far as it goes––looking and watching. Smile. We all need to cook or have someone cook for us. Neither can we live without moving––a form of exercising without realizing we are exercising daily. Moving––that's the kind of exercise I like––walking, bending, scrubbing floors, and washing windows. But, one Sunday in church, I learned a different type of exercise––a life-changing exercise.

During this hard time for all, it's good to remember how God has taken care of us over the years and present-day included. Last week, God encouraged me through my cookbooks. Many memories leaped off the pages and flooded my soul with the hope that He will take care of me now, too.

To not mislead you, I do bake but just not using all those fancy recipes. I have my favorites––like carrot cake and apple pie and cinnamon rolls. I use the same recipes every time and for many years now. Maybe because I teach little girls and teens to cook and bake, I keep it simple. And, I am an active person, just not an exercise guru--far from it. I also have exercise classes with my girls––keeping it simple also.

Where is this story going, you ask? It started when I began moving cookbooks from one location to another. As I looked at each one, I realized how many cookbooks I have from churches––churches that support our ministry. In each cookbook are recipes from beautiful Christian ladies (and men, too) who not only inspire me to cook but also to emulate their godly lives.

While visiting a long-time supporting church one furlough, we saw Jesus through these ladies and all the people who call this church home. We'd been trusting God for supplies to ship to Bolivia to start classes for underprivileged kids––this was before computers and printers were available in Bolivia. God had supplied ten computers to ship by the time we showed up for the Sunday morning service at this lovely church.

After sharing our vision for our ministry, we shook hands at the door after the service. One sweet church member leaned over, and in a low voice, said, "Do you have printers for these computers?" No, we didn't. We hadn't even thought that far ahead, but God thought of it. Then, surprising us said, "Well, you do now." God had supplied printers before we prayed for them. He knows our needs.

Without even realizing, my husband and I exercised our faith by going step by step with Him to provide for the ministry he'd put on our hearts. We knew we wanted to give computer classes to children with no opportunity to learn the technology of the times but somehow not seeing the need for printers also. But God! Yes, but God was a step ahead of us. We'd stepped out in faith to follow Him and do His will--teaching underprivileged kids in remote parts of Bolivia. We exercised our faith, and He provided all we needed––even printers we hadn't yet asked to be provided.

God will supply what we need. And He already knows what we need before we ask. He will do that now, too, in this pandemic. God has used our classes to bring children to Him. Let's pray many will open their hearts to the gospel message during this world-wide pandemic. And, that a cure will be found soon.

Are you exercising your faith?

What is God doing for you today even though you haven't asked Him?

The church in this story has a pastor who is a super cook––we know because he's cooked for us every time we are home on furlough. (He even allows us to fall asleep on his sofa.)
Thank you, Pastor Barry!

Hash Brown Pork Bake

From Pastor Barry's kitchen:

2 c. (16 oz.) sour cream
1 can (10 ¾ oz.) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1 pkg. (32 oz.) frozen cubed hash brown potatoes, thawed
2 c. cubed pork
1 lb. process cheese (Velveeta) cubed
¼ c. chopped onion
2 c. crushed cornflakes
½ c. margarine, melted
1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
3 green pepper rings

In a large bowl, combine sour cream and soup. Stir in the hash browns, pork, process cheese, and onion. Transfer to a greased 3 qt. baking dish. Toss cornflake crumbs and margarine, sprinkle over the top. Bake, uncovered, at 350 F. for 50 minutes. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Bake 10 minutes longer or until bubbly. Garnish with green pepper rings or parsley. Yield: 8 servings.

And, we also visit with a family of this church who opens their home and Amish dining room table to us. There is always a delicious home-cooked meal served with love. They are faithful workers in the church and a blessing to all who know them.

Pigs in the Blanket (Easy Way)

From the kitchen of Jean and Marty:

1 large head of cabbage shredded
1 lb. hamburger
1 chopped onion
½ c. rice (uncooked)
1 (15 oz.) tomato soup
1 (15 oz.) tomato juice
½ c. water

Put cabbage in casserole dish. Brown onion and hamburger. Mix rice, soup, juice and water. Pour over cabbage. Do not stir. Cover and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes at 350 F.

"He makes grass to grow for the cattle. and plants for people to cultivate––bringing forth food from the earth:" (Psalm 104: 14 NIV).

Friday, January 24, 2020

"Cookies" that Don't Rust

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, 
where moths and rust destroy," (Matthew 6:19 NIV).

My Eternal "Cookies"––I’ve known them since they were born. Some were in my Sunday School classes, some in youth group and children's programs, and most in our computer classes.Then, they became young ladies and entered my Bible and cooking classes. 

We baked chocolate chip cookies--they'd never had one. They learned many things, but most importantly, everyone accepted Jesus as their Savior. They are my eternal "cookies" that won't rust. I used God's recipe (His Word) and saw Him mold them, little by little, to His image. Finally, I watched them fly out of the nest to make "cookies" of their own that won't rust. 

This new year, I'm contemplating the things I will invest in for eternity and eliminating those things that will rust. I'm striving to share the things God has given me––flour, sugar, chocolate chips––to see them from a heavenly perspective to invest in "cookies" that last forever––eternal treasures.

Young Girls––now some are mothers

We Made Cookies

We Baked

We Studied

We Prayed

We Had Serious Conversations 

 We Laughed 

And Received Prizes

We Made Angel Dolls

My Classroom is Quiet Now
"To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:" (Ecclesiastes 3:1a NIV)
Some of my "angel cookies" sprouted their wings and flew on to the next phase of their lives. It was time to go; but soon it will be time for me to guide a new group in God's ways––new classes with new "cookies" will start soon.

I'm looking forward to storing up eternal treasures this new year––"cookies" that don't rust. 

What will be your eternal "cookies" this year that won't rust?

Need a lift and a laugh today?

*If you liked this post you might want to read more about eternal treasures in my article published on Heart Wings Blog. I hope it will give you a lift and a laugh today.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Step into the Future

"The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; 
he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8 NASB
David was on the run. Saul was bent on taking his life, feeling David to be a threat to his throne. Weary from the tense pursuit, David cried out to God. “Keep me as the apple of the eye,” he wrote, “Hide me in the shadow of Your wings” (Psalm 17:8 NIV).
The phrase “apple of the eye” is an idiom. At the time of David, people thought the pupil of the eye was actually a solid object (much like an apple). The pupil is at the center of the eye. It is a part of us that we instinctively protect. Asking to be the “apple of [God’s] eye” was to request that God guard him as a cherished child. He wanted the kind of protection that was akin to a chick hiding under the wings of its mother.
God is “keeping” us in the same way right now. I’m the apple of His eye, and so are you, child of God. I slip into bed every night knowing, when I wake up (Lord willing), I will step into the next day and all it will bring. None of us knows what tomorrow will entail, but we do know whatever it is, God will be with us and keep us close.
Recently, I experienced that presence and protection in an instant. It’s a known fact that seniors fear a fall because we know what the results could be—broken hips, broken shoulders, and sometimes even a fatal fall. So I am usually pretty cautious as I move.

But that particular day, I was anything but careful. Feeling all joyful with our new puppy in my arms, I carelessly traipsed down the stairs. Our puppy got the shock of his life when my ankle turned about half-way down the steps. I stumbled, lost my balance, and squeezed the poor dog so hard, he squealed.
A vision of an almost certain trip to the hospital danced in my head as I went down. I cried out to God to rescue me. I instinctively grabbed for the railing with my left hand, and all my weight landed on my left foot. While I sustained a serious sprain, the Lord kept me from broken bones or an even more tragic ending. There’s no question in my mind that God, in that moment, kept me as the “apple of His eye.”

Traveling this journey of life with God, we’re never alone. We’re cherished, favored, and loved beyond measure. Protected. It’s a trip of a lifetime. No pun intended––okay a little intended. It’s better than a vacation, because it never ends. Never. And, when our life on earth does end, guess what? It was only the beginning of being with Jesus forever.
We may wonder what the new year will bring, but we don’t need to doubt Who will be with us. Let’s step into the future, the new year, with confidence that we are the apple of His eye, and rejoice because God is with us always.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Peace in His Presence

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the fold, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone all around them: and they were sore afraid.”Luke 2:8-9

Imagine lying in a field under the stars with your fluffy sheep nearby. A quiet, peaceful night turns to fear when suddenly, an angel appears with glory all around. Can you envision a bright, glorious light shining over a dark, quiet field? Wouldn’t you be afraid too? The angel tells them of the baby born, and then a great company of heavenly hosts appeared with the angel praising God. I’d be sore afraid (I’d be terrified) too.

But then fear turns to peace in the presence of the baby.

“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”Luke 2:10-11

The shepherd’s fear turns to excitement. They are curious and believe what God tells them. They left their field to find the child. They got up, followed directions from God, and they found the Savior. Can you envision the scene? Are there any who are skeptics? There isn’t one mention of any doubting. They just set out to find the baby.

Do you hear the joy in their words when they say, “Let us go to Bethlehem?!” They believed and wanted to see what the Lord told them. Now imagine that peaceful scene when they see the baby and find peace in His presence. Fear turned to excitement, and peace returned when they believed God.

The shepherds followed God, came to find Jesus and worshipped Him. Then, they went out and told everyone they encountered that the Messiah was born. #ComeFindJesus #WorshipHim #GoAndTell 

How can we follow God as the shepherds did?
·     Through His Word: “The word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”Psalm 119:105
·     Through Circumstances: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all the ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”Psalm 3:5-6
·     Through Prayer: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” James 1:5
If we live each day following the example of the shepherds, then, we too will find Jesus waiting for us when we seek Him. #GodsGuidance #GodsPeace

Let’s thank the Lord for shining a bright light to guide us to Him and follow Him daily––through His Word, through circumstances, prayer, and God’s people.  Fear turns to faith when we look to Him and believe what He tells us in His Word. Just like the shepherds, their fear vanished when they believed God, it turned to joy and excitement, and they wanted to go to Bethlehem to see Jesus.
I’m thankful for the peace God gives when we trust him. I’ve experienced that peace on the mission field when all seemed terrifying, and we thought our son was dying of Typhoid Fever. But, when trusting God, I experienced that peace that passes all understanding. I still can’t understand it, but I know God gave me peace. My guess is, you experience it too.
“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”Philippians 4:7 #GodsPresence # #GodsPeace 
This new year, let’s go to Bethlehem to worship the baby...the Savior. Even wise men came to worship Him. Let’s thank Him for leaving glory for us so we may have eternal life,

He is the Prince of Peace who gives us the gift of peace that is accessible whatever our circumstances while abiding in His presence. #PrinceofPeace #GiftofPeace
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
How have you experienced peace in His presence?

Friday, November 29, 2019

Making Holiday Memories

Memorable Moments

Thanksgiving was a traditional family gathering at my in-laws. The siblings came from near and far with their families. Entering the snowy driveway, we'd see the house with seven gables high on the hill. The roar of snowmobiles could be heard coming from the fields nearby––nieces and nephews enjoying Grandpa's toys. Beautiful horses galloped in the fields near the red barn. Approaching the house, we'd be engulfed by a whiff of the turkey; then Grandma opened the door and lavished us with hugs. As we'd sit down at the beautifully set table with its china and crystal, the golden turkey was the centerpiece, and the pumpkin pie was a sweet ending to the feast. It was truly a Norman Rockwell scene. 

I miss those gatherings. They are but treasured memories now that many family members have entered eternity. The memories cause me to be thankful for the times past, and they make me conscious this Thanksgiving of how short my time is on earth. "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever" (Psalm 107:1 NIV). 

This Thanksgiving Day, I'll give thanks to the Lord for providing a way for me to have eternal life and for good health, family, and friends, and so many other blessings. And yes, good memories too. God is so good––enjoy His goodness––Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Biking or Bumbling

"Don't assume that you know it all" (Proverbs 5:&7 MSG).

Learning to ride a bike sometimes results in scratches, sore muscles, and maybe even broken bones––two out of three is my experience. Yes, just one experience––a memorable one. A memory of my son's seventh birthday. He got a bike and so did I. Warning: Don't learn to ride a bike at the same time your kids are learning.

So, what I can tell you about my biking experience is this. I was young! My son couldn't wait to ride. And, how hard could it be to sit on two wheels and stay upright? Pretty hard, I found out.

The July sun beamed down on the shiny new bikes. My son and I walked our bikes down the driveway and across the highway onto a less-traveled mountain road. Earlier that day, my husband pleaded for me to wait until he came home so we could all be together for this memory-making venture. Knowing our son couldn't wait to mount that new bike, he conceded and agreed to join the adventure when he arrived home later.

I helped my son up to the seat. He got the hang of it quickly while I played the role of traffic police until my turn. Then my turn, I sat with the posture of a natural cyclist even though I had no idea about brakes or speeds or balance. Determined to do this thing, I pushed the peddles while my son took a turn as traffic police.

With one push of the peddles, I sped into the wind. Whoa, what fun! Fun yes, until I had no idea how to brake. Panic set in as the wheels seemed to lift from the pavement under me. How to stop? What if a car came over the little noll? Think, I told myself! The only place to go and the only way to stop, I headed into a fence. Crash! But, a big bush kept me from a fall.

My son couldn't keep the tears from falling over his sweet face. I assured him I'd be okay. We walked those bikes home while I tried not to limp. The experience never deterred that seven-year-old from learning to ride––but I put my bike up for sale that very night.

Sometimes God nudges us to avoid a bumbling outcome. And, sometimes He pushes us into a fence instead of a dangerous fall on the pavement while He teaches us we don't know it all, but He does. We see God's hand that guides us to safety instead of falling into a dangerous situation.

I'm sure God's hand held me up that day and kept me from falling. I learned this, "...don't try to figure everything out on your own" (Proverbs 3:6 MSG). Sometimes we go ahead of Him as I did that day by not waiting for my husband who knew how to ride a bike. Sometimes He uses others to teach us.

My biking experience certainly taught me a lesson about how to wait on God and allow Him to direct my steps. When we are out of step with God, it's a dangerous place to be and may end on a pavement with bruises or even worse. Even so, He promises He will direct us in the way we should go––even into the bushes to lessen our injures from going our own way and not waiting on Him.

"Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he's the one who will keep you on track" (Proverbs 3:6 MSG).

Have you gone off track and crashed into the bushes thinking you know it all––as I've done more than once? So, how do we avoid the proverbial crashes and bushes?

Listen for God's voice. He'll keep you on track. The key is...drumroll please: Listen to His voice by reading His word, praying, obeying and learning from our circumstances.

I finally learned to ride a bike while passing through mid-life. But even now in my seventh decade, I still strive to trust God for less bumbling and more proverbial "biking" without crashes because He does know it all. I am still learning to ride my proverbial bike. How about you?

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Night of the Frogs

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; 
for he acknowledges my name” (Psalm 91:14 NIV).

I sipped tea while looking at a frog––he’d caught my eye when I glanced across the room. There he sat on top of my lamp. I couldn’t stop my lips from turning upwards––then a burst of giggles. Memories returned of frogs on an eerie night in a foreign field––actually miles of fields around the little mud house we called home for a while. Unlike my ceramic frog atop the lamp that held the lampshade from going ajar, the frogs that night were real.

We’d arrived at the mission school to join the staff after less than a month in Bolivia. We’d lived for a time in the attic/guestroom of the school library, and then prepared to move to the “farmhouse.” Before you form the image of a sweet stateside farmhouse, let me paint a picture of this “farmhouse” in Bolivia.

The school rested on a flat landscape atop a valley. A short walk on a winding dirt road brought you to a curve where a breath-taking panorama of acres of fields came into view. At the bottom of the hill sat the “farmhouse” that we had eagerly awaited to inhabit. There it sat, a little mud house in the middle of nowhere. Our barrels hadn’t arrived from the States so many household items were on loan to us, but we needed a refrigerator. 

My husband left for the city eight hours away to buy a frig, leaving our five-year-old daughter and me alone in that tiny house. Our son had settled into dorm life with boys his age, and we quickly became good friends with his dorm parents––also recently arrived missionaries. So, no neighbors, no lights outside, and no way to communicate with anyone at the school.

On the second night alone in that secluded little abode, I heard a noise, a strange noise. The hour neared that the school generator would shut down, leaving only candlelight. The noise continued. I looked out the kitchen window where the sound seemed to be loudest. Pitch. Black. It resembled the sound of a motorcycle trying to start. After listening to that sound for what seemed like hours, my imagination kicked into high gear. What if there were more motorcycles than just one. Hell’s Angels came to mind. Could there be similar gangs in this remote area? Were they waiting for the generator to shut down to make their move? Fear took over. Who could come to our rescue?

Fear held me hostage. But, more scared for my daughter than myself, I had to get a grip. Couldn’t God take care of her––of us? We were in the youth of our ministry, and just as Timothy was in the youth of his life and ministry, the enemy certainly didn’t want him (or me) to continue spreading the gospel. This would be the first time I confronted my fears on the mission field, but not the last––if I were to continue in the ministry God called me to.   

Scriptures came to mind. Why did Paul write this to Timothy? “I call to remembrance the faith that is in you…” (2 Timothy 1:5 NIV). Paul encouraged Timothy by reminding him of the faith he’d seen in him. Maybe that statement today would sound like, Hey, Tim, you can do this!

Paul reminded him, “to stir up the gift of God in you through the laying on of hands,” (2 Timothy 1:6 NIV). Go get ‘em, boy! I remembered hands laid on me only a few months before this night. And, then these powerful words of exhortation to Timothy, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy1:7 NIV). Fear paralyzes our ministry. Faith in God powers our ministry. Believe. Pray. A calm settled over me. I trusted God to take care of us. Peace.

Then, a knock at the door. I inched to the door. A familiar face looked back. It was our son’s dorm parent, Mike. My sweaty hands turned the doorknob. Telling him my scary story, he took his flashlight and ventured out into the darkness returning quickly. Nothing. But there was a noise. We both listened intently. “There, do you hear it?” Mike burst into laughter, then trying to control himself but to no avail. What on earth was so funny?

“Those are frogs making that sound.” No way! Eventually, I found the humor in it all, but with a bit of embarrassment. 

Gathering my dignity, I asked Mike, “Do they have little motorcycles?” We both burst into laughter until our eyes wept.

Do you know what I learned that night? I learned that God is always with us and never leaves us alone. He watches out for us and rescues us–-even from frogs with little motorcycles.

There will always be fears to face, but when we trust God, He will take us from fear to faith. He promises to rescue us. What are your fears today? Will you let God stretch your faith in whatever circumstance you find yourself? We can go from fear to faith daily and stir up the gift of God in us so that He can use us for His purpose.