You Have to Taste to See

Six months ago we brought our daughter Sadie home from China. For almost three years of her life she lived there. When we first got home so much was new to her. Her world was now turned upside down.  Sounds of a totally different language bombarded her.  Strange faces and people surrounded her.  The smells of a new environment, the clothes on her back…literally nothing in her life was the same as it had been just two weeks before.

Her little heart and mind didn’t know it yet, but there was so much good in store for her here in the U.S. and in our home. Among all of the scary and overwhelming “newness”, was a life filled with love, provision, safety, prosperity, and joy.

One of the big differences between here and China is obviously the food. For most of her life she had only eaten rice, breads, and some fruit. Once home, we would put something new in front of her and say, “It’s good; try it.”

Every single time she would protest.  Every….Single….Time.

She would push her bowl away, turn her head to the side and sit there. After a few minutes of sitting there, she would take a bite. That’s all it took, one bite, and then she would devour the entire portion.

Until then next time, then she would go through this exact routine again.

During this time God gently reminded me that at times I have been the same way.

Often times, God had laid His plan out before me, but I had turned my head and went my own way. God had given me opportunities to be His hands and feet, but I had pushed the opportunities away. There had been times His voice had called me to something bigger and deeper, but I chose to sit there in protest.

In Psalm 34:4-8 His word says,

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
    he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
    their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lordheard him;
    he saved him out of all his troubles.The angel of the Lordencamps around those who fear him,
    and he delivers them. Taste and see that the Lord is good;
    blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”

Those are some pretty spectacular benefits promised in those verses. I say, “Sign me up!”

It wasn’t until I surrendered my will, and began to live my life for Him solely, that I began to understand just how GOOD He is. When I was totally dependent on God’s provision, that’s when I witnessed His miracles.

You see, we can know a lot about God. We can read about Him. We can talk about Him. We can love Him. But until we have tasted what He wants for us, we cannot fully understand His goodness. Just like Sadie, it wasn’t easy for me to take that first bite. God often leads us beyond what we are capable of in our own flesh. He calls us to try new and brave things. And that is scary! But it is when we give up our control and let God lead that we live a life of fullness.

If you don’t ever taste, you will never know how good something might be.

Don’t sit at the table and turn your nose up at what is before you. Let go of control and trust that God is good.

Just taste, and you will see!

We would like to thank Robin Sanders for writing this post!

Live in the Moment!

Summertime is a stressful season for me each year.  Honestly, it’s rough for this momma who thrives on routine and is task-oriented.  I’ve always raised a large household of children and I feel the most settled when my children are in school.  I feel organized and accomplished with my time management.  I love my personal time, my time with God, getting my groceries bought, bills being paid. However, before summer even began, I felt God tugging on my heart to take a step back and enjoy these people he has given me.  Two of my children graduated this May and one is a Senior this coming year.  Three of my seven children are no longer living at home. This has been sobering for me.  What I’m doing with the time left with them suddenly hit hard; the years fly by and before you know it, they leave home.  Raising kids is hard work and I have regrets about not always being a mom who enjoys the moment and makes life fun in my home. This summer, I have allowed myself to be free from the expectations I usually would place on myself.  Here are a few ideas for you to think on:

  1. Don’t over think it, live in the moment.
    1. I spontaneously took my kids to the 10pm/late show at the theater (appropriate clean shows) in our pjs.
    2. We went to McDonald’s and ordered burgers off the dollar menu after 11pm.
  2. Create an environment for your kids and their friends to have fun. You want to be their greatest influence and want them to like to be around you.
    1. I have allowed friends to stay overnight often (friends of good influence).
    2. We took them to the park and cooked out.
    3. We let them build camp fires in our back yard where they could all hang out.
  3. Quality time as a family without technology distractions.
    1. We make breakfast meals together with the tv off and worship music on.
    2. We allow them to stay up late, laying in our bed talking and listening to their hearts.

I’m not advocating we be irresponsible and without structure this summer; there has to be a balance. I encourage you to lay down the routine and give yourself grace and permission to be free from your own judgements of what we should be doing with our children and the judgements of what other moms might think.  It does not have to be glamorous nor cost money to invest in our children lives.  You have exactly what it takes to be a mom, you’re exactly the right mother God created for your children.  God used the book of Ecclesiastes to speak to me when my journey to letting myself off the hook first began.  Go make memories with those precious little/big people in your house, don’t miss it!  And remember, GRACE upon GRACE upon GRACE, you can do it!

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink and find satisfaction in their work—this is the gift of God. Ecclesiastes 3:11-13

We would like to thank Brenda Martinez for sharing this post.

For the Love of Cooking

trinarecipe2

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved food!  I got my first cookbook in the first grade and remember rushing home after school.  I went through all the recipes and picked the one that we had all the ingredients for, Quick Sugar Cake!  I mixed all the ingredients by myself, put it in the oven, and sat in front of the oven for 20 minutes while it baked.  When my cake was finally done, I took it out and waited 5 minutes for it to cool.  It was so hot I could hardly taste it.  Once my taste buds recovered, WOW, it was delicious!  I was shocked I had made it all by myself!  I was hooked and ate the whole thing!

I’ve come a long way since then.  I love to read about food and cooking, and I love to eat (don’t judge)!  One of my favorite things to do is have people over and serve them a meal.  Several years ago, a dear friend told me that I had the gift of hospitality.  I had never heard of this before!  Since then, God has showed me that I can use my love of cooking for His purposes.  This gave me a new way of looking at how I can reach out to other people; it is a way to get to know new friends.  Through this whole process I’ve learned a few important lessons:

  1. Everyone enjoys being invited and included! I love to see the looks on people’s faces when they are invited over.
  2. You do not have to be a chef to entertain in your home. People just enjoy the fact that someone cares enough to invite them over!  You can even invite people over and just order pizza! It’s about the fellowship, not the food!
  3. Your house does not have to be perfect.It does not have to be clean enough to eat off the floor.  It does not have to be a mansion!  There aren’t many mansions in Plainview anyway!  Be happy with what God has blessed you with!

Hospitality is defined as:  The quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way.  In the New Testament, the Greek word “hospitality” literally means “love of strangers”.

With summer approaching, venture out, invite people over!  Remember, it isn’t about the food, it’s about the fellowship!  One of my favorite verses is Hebrews 13:2, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.”
I’m sharing two recipes with you.  The first is a recipe that my sister-in-law gave me.  I love it because it feeds a lot of people, and it taught me how to bake a brisket!  The 2nd recipe is my beloved Quick Sugar Cake!

3 DAY BRISKET
2 tbsp. liquid smoke
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. onion salt
1 tsp. garlic saltSAUCE:3 tbsp. brown sugar
1 c. ketchup
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. liquid smoke
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 tsp. ground mustard
4 tbsp. Worcestershire
1/2 c. water
2 tsp. celery seed
6 tbsp. butterDay 1: Baste the uncooked brisket well with 2 tbsp. liquid smoke and 1 teaspoon salt. Wrap in heavy foil and refrigerate overnight. Day 2: Cover with teaspoon onion salt and garlic salt. Wrap and bake at 300 degrees for 5 hours. Refrigerate overnight.Day 3: Slice thin, cover with sauce. Wrap and bake at 325 degrees for about an hour. Sauce: cook all ingredients until well blended.

Trinarecipe

We would like to thank Trina Lewis for writing this post!

Freedom

Freedom. It’s a word packed with emotion. This time of year, the word may conjure up images of waving flags, “rockets red glare,” and military heroes. We hear it used and mis-used on the nightly news with regard to human rights and civil & political issues. In the spiritual context, we Christians have profound freedom from the power of sin and death through the sacrificial death and resurrection of our Savior Jesus. Those are amazing, beautiful freedoms. But can I be honest about a freedom that I’m struggling with?

You see, I’m entering a new season of life. My oldest daughter recently graduated from college, got her first “big-girl job,” moved to Houston and is beginning her dream-career as an interior design professional. Isn’t that wonderful? And my youngest daughter just finished up a successful high school career with lots of friends, great grades and athletic awards. She has even received some nice scholarships and will move into the college dorm in the fall. Perfect, right? So, if I am such a blessed woman whose prayers for my children are coming true right before my eyes…why am I choking back tears as I write this?

To be honest, I’m afraid of the “freedom” that will replace the countless hours of busy-ness I’ve invested in my girls. Don’t get me wrong; I’m a tired momma. The 22 years of laundry, homework, practices, games, concerts, awards assemblies…as joy-filled as they were, have taken their toll. More time to devote to my marriage, my home, my work, and yes, to ME will be nice. But this new-found “freedom” will have its pain and its challenges.

Thankfully, I serve a gracious God who offers “freedoms” to help me through this new season:

  • Hebrews 4:16 says I have the freedom to approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, knowing I’ll find mercy and grace to help with my uncertainties and even my loneliness.
  • Galatians 5:13 reminds me that I am to use my God-given freedom to serve others humbly in love. I’ve been diligent to remind my daughters that God has a purpose and plan for each of their lives; maybe I should be reminding myself of that same truth.
  • Finally, on those days when I completely blow it and melt into self-pity because my chicks have left the nest and I miss them terribly, He gently reminds me that I have freedom from condemnation because I belong to Him (Romans 8:1).

    Wherever you find yourself today, I pray that you take full advantage of the freedom you have to approach your loving Father. Let Him walk you through the changes in your life and watch as He makes each season beautiful.

 

We would like to thank Lea Stukey for this post!

“Honey, this is the faith tree.”

Seeds for my love of gardening were planted at age 10 when I first read Frances Hodgson Burnett’s children’s classic, The Secret Garden.  I had the measles that summer, and was confined to bed for what seemed like ages.  Mom would darken the blinds each afternoon and read aloud as I closed my eyes and visualized the vine-covered walls of this extraordinary hideaway.

In this delightful book, a neglected garden is rejuvenated through careful tending, creating the backdrop for a neglected father/son relationship to be restored and new friendships fostered. I remember later reenacting scenes from the book in my grandmother’s backyard as I tended her daisies, black-eyed Susans, and honeysuckle. 

Actually, every garden tells its gardener’s story.  My grownup garden began in 1997 with the planting of a single tree.  No house existed on the lot we had purchased to build on because our country home was not selling despite several contracts which all fell through.  For many long months, I drove by our vacant lot, sadly praying God would make things happen faster so we could begin building our dream home.

One particular afternoon when my spirits were at their lowest, I drove by our lot and discovered a tree had been planted.  My farmer husband, as a surprise, had placed paper plates where the pillars of the house would stand, and had planted an oak tree right smack dab in the middle of our non-existent backyard!  Here’s what he told me, “Honey, this is the faith tree.  Someday soon we WILL build on this lot.  And someday our grandchildren will play under the overhanging branches of the faith we are planting right now.”  And you know what, 20 years later, he is right!!  Five grandchildren play under the shade of the tree in Noni and Papa’s backyard.  We are living in the promise fulfilled! 

And guess what?  We are the Lord’s garden!  And our lives tell His story! 

Isaiah 58:11 says:  

“The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry, And restoring your strength.  You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring!”

We would like to thank Susan Hurt for contributing this post.

Favorite Summer Memories

As I’m on my way home from Catalyst Camp with our 11-year-old, I spent a lot of time comparing to and reflecting on my own days at summer church camp, which were very similar. It’s easy to say that hands down, those are my favorite summer memories. Bus rides with all of my friends, mountain rain, hikes, worship that gave me my first encounters with the Holy Spirit, late nights laughing in bunk beds, dunking each other in freezing cold rivers, camp fires, and carpet ball on the front porch of the chow hall before and after dinner. If you grew up going to El Porvenir as well, I’m speaking a love language to you right now, right? 😂

I’m so thankful for Harvest Christian Fellowship. We have made relationship bridges between all 3 campuses and friends that have turned to family. I’m especially thankful that our kids have a place to grow up like I did, and memories at camp that they will carry with them for their entire lives.

We would like to thank Jennifer Westbrook for writing this post!


 

Some of my favorite memories from my childhood summers are of my mom and us kids loading up in the car with my Grammy, aunt and cousins to drive down old Route 66. We’d drive from New Mexico to Cordell, Oklahoma to visit my great aunt Mary who was in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s. Even though she had Alzheimer’s,  she always remembered every word to hundreds of hymns. She would walk around singing them all the time.  Now, I realize how important the music is that I listen to because at some point it may be the only thing I remember!  I also realized early on from those trips that I love elderly people, which is a big part of why I enjoy my job today. One year on our trip, our car broke down somewhere in Oklahoma and a lady in a tiny pick up truck stopped to help us and give us a ride to town. She was vague about who she was and where she was from.  My family believes she was an angel sent to help us from God.  These are a few summer childhood memories I’ll never forget!

We would like to thank Jill Moudy for writing this post!


 

When I was very young, I used to go spend about a week each summer with my dad‘s parents just north of Uvalde, Texas. My grandfather had cattle and he depended on windmills to pump water to the surface for them to drink. Windmills have sucker rod. That’s what we called the pipe that pumps the water to the surface. And sucker rod was always coming apart or having other problems.

I remember going with my grandfather to check on the water, thinking that we’d only be gone for “just a little bit”. Inevitably we’d be gone for hours and hours, at least it seemed that way to me. I thought it was boring and I couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to spend their day pulling sucker rod. I mean, who thinks this is fun?! Evidently, he wanted his cattle to live!

My grandfather is gone now, and those times I spent with him are treasured memories. I miss him and I wish I could ride around the ranch with him one more time. But I still don’t miss pulling sucker rod.

We would like to thank Jodi LaFrance for writing this post!

Family Trip

I have very fond memories of our family vacationing with my grandparents when I was growing up. Colorado was the destination, and occasionally we would get to fly, but the majority of the time we would pack our bicycles in a U-Haul trailer and head north. It’s funny to me now, as an adult, that the fondest memories, the stories that get retold over and over, actually come from the times that things didn’t go perfectly.

Like the time…

I fell fully clothed into an ice-cold river in the middle of a tourist town, while challenging my sister to see who could “make it the farthest” out on the rocks.

I set off the alarms and brought security guards running when I got ahead in the airport and thought I’d just make one more trip around the revolving security doors to wait for them to catch up. Apparently, those are one-way only.

My grandmother was behind me on a bike path that ran parallel to a drop-off into a creek.  I swerved toward the creek and she instinctively dove off her bike to save me…only for me to correct my course and have her land face first, bruising her eyes and looking like a raccoon for the rest of the trip. She sure must have loved me!

My 6-year-old sister and I would not stop arguing and my parents threatened to move us to the trailer. “Yeah,” she agreed, “so we can fight in PEACE!”

Looking back, I’m pretty sure my parents must have had the patience of Job. Well, for the most part. There was that ONE time they got fed up with teenage sibling bickering and made us get out and run on the side of the road for about a mile.  Let me tell you—that was actually a very effective strategy! But overall, I think they kept things in perspective and rolled with the punches.

Now this summer, I’m looking forward to a family vacation with our kids and their grandparents. Actually, it might be more accurate to say that I’m looking forward to a familytrip. (My father in-law famously says that a vacation is something you take with your spouse.  Anything else is a family trip. J) I know that there will be moments where things won’t go as planned. Meltdowns will happen. Mistakes will be made. But I’m really hoping I can handle them all with as much grace as was modeled to me. Because after all, those might be the makings of the best memories.

We’d like to thank Becca Wilhite for sharing this post.