For the Love of Cooking

Featured

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

Featured

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.”

Featured

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

Featured

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!

Moms, rejoice! Tips for summertime fun.

Featured

As a mom who loves structure and routine, I see summer as an exciting yet frightening time! When school, church events and schedules take a break it can seem daunting to look at the lack of structure in the months ahead. Here are a few very simple things I have learned for those times when you just need to sit and finish your coffee, you’re trying to make it to bedtime alive, or you simply CANNOT think up dinosaur dialouge for one more minute!

Take it outside:Almost anything you can do inside, you can do outside! Have a picnic, camp in the backyard, or throw some soap in with the sprinklers and call it a bath. I know it’s hot, but the outdoors offer endless possibilities; and it’s good for your health!

Invite a friend:Don’t for one second think you’re the only mom with kids saying they are bored two minutes after they wake up. Plan trips to the park, invite friends over, and be “that friend” who invites herself over so you don’t have to get your own house messy. We are designed to do life together and summer with kids is no different.

Create life experiences:Visit a local dairy or farm, help your kids create the grocery list and talk about budgets, actually take your kids inside the post office, or pick out a profession your child is interested in and visit that place of work. You would be amazed at how interested kids are in the seemingly mundane parts of life.

Think smarter, not harder:The internet is chalk full of ideas for science experiments, DIY projects, arts, crafts, and homemade treats with most of them using supplies you have around your house or would already buy anyways. I have also come across fun summer bucket lists full of great ideas (or help your kids make their own). A little planning goes a long way!

Let them be bored:This may sound counterintuitive, but instead of saving them with tablets and TV why not invite them to play with the toys collecting dust in the closet or use their imaginations? From experience growing up and seeing my boys now, giving kids a chance to push through their “boredom” and get creative is a battle well worth fighting!

And please don’t forget to throw in those days where you stay in your pajamas and watch way too much TV. It’s called balance.

Happy summer-ing!

We would like to thank Kendra Huckabee for writing this post!

Family Trip

Featured

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.

 

Never Too Far

Featured

Editor’s Note: This semester we’ve focused on Titus 2 and the wisdom God offers us through His word and through relationships with other women. May Christine’s testimony today encourage your faith and you respond to God’s Word in this season of your life.

Reading Titus 2 brought back so many thoughts about being young and growing up in church. It brings to my mind the importance of living a life that reflects Jesus; that daily we leave impressions on many without even knowing it.

As a child, my family was in a very bad car accident traveling in Mexico. I was about 2 years old and I don’t understand to this day how things happened, but in that accident, I was lodged under the passenger’s front seat still strapped in my car seat. As I was in the hospital, my mom turned to the only one that she knew could heal and save me. In that hospital room, doctors gave a good report, but as I began to walk and grow I had problems with my hip.

My mother cried out to God and He responded by telling her to not worry. He said that I was going to be okay and that His plans for my future were to serve Him, even the person I was going to marry would serve Him and speak His Word, and for her not to fear. She believed and held to that promise, and after getting out of the hospital our family became faithful in going to church and we loved it.

Once I hit 13 years of age my eyes were opened and innocence was taken from me due to many things within our church. I began to resent a lot of things that were taught to me through the Bible, but yet taken differently due to convenience by leaders and teachers. I let the actions of others define my relationship with Jesus instead of standing firm on His truth. I began to tell God, “If this is how Your children are, I don’t want to be like them, hypocrites.”

I pushed myself away from God because of what I saw and ended up drifting far off into the world, but one thing I know is that my mom never lost that hope. She never stopped believing in God’s promise of everything being ok and that He had me in His hand.

God is faithful and after being away from God for almost 13 years, He fulfilled His promise to my mother. Due to her faith and her example, Jesus was made so real to me. He came in a moment when I was broken and drowning in my own consequences, but forgave and showed me love, healed me completely, and freed me from all shame.

Being an example for others has been such a huge thing for me. The reason why I have pushed away my flesh’s desire is I don’t want anyone to look at me and have a negative word about Christ. I don’t want to be that stumbling block that trips people up instead of one who lifts them up. I want to be able to teach with authority, truth, and be a living example of the love of Jesus and His truth.

We would like to thank Christine Araiza for contributing this post.

You Can’t Rush God’s Promises

Featured

Tags

Editor’s Note: This semester women from our three campuses have read Titus 2 and shared what God placed on their heart. May you be encouraged and challenged to connect with God and the power of His presence in this season of your life.

Ten months ago, Brent and I decided to try adoption again.  Our hearts were ready.  The timing was good.  Johnny would be 3 when Baby would arrive, so they could share a room.  The girls are the perfect age and would be so helpful.  He and Johnny would be best buds.  They’d play dinosaurs, giggle, and wrestle.  I had dreams.  After our first international adoption attempt, we said that we wanted to have the next one “handed over to us”.  This one was.   How could this not be God?  Doors kept opening, so we kept walking.

My husband was apprehensive the first three months.  We sought counsel from God, family, friends, attorneys, etc.  Over the next few months, I went to sonograms and grew a relationship with the birth mom.  After four months, Brent finally decided this baby boy was going to be our 4thchild.   Two days later, the birth mom started having complications.  We immediately texted our support system asking for prayers and wisdom.  Liam Jacob was born at 23 weeks and went to be with Jesus that same day.  I’ve never experienced pain like that before.

The joy I had was sucked right out of me.  How could this be God?  I felt angry at Him.   “We’ve been faithful.  We’ve done everything right.  Why are you taking this away from us?” I just didn’t understand.  I felt alone.

The devil knows when we are vulnerable, and his subtle deceiving whispers walked me into a season of fear, anxiety, and stress.  I didn’t notice it at first.  I just felt disappointed, confused, and embarrassed by another unsuccessful adoption.  “God, why do we feel called to adopt when it’s not working?”  When our birth mom was in the hospital contracting the night before Liam was born, I went up at ministry time during Core to receive prayer.   I tried to be strong, but I was disappointed.  That night God brought some healing and comfort through the prayers of my friends.

But after Liam passed away, unhealed emotional wounds became a stronghold in my life.  Ladies, we need to expose the devil when his lies feel true.  I couldn’t have done this alone.  Throughout this process I received advice, wisdom, and guidance from mentors.  I’ve been a recipient of what Titus 2 is supposed to look like because the ladies in my life have taken this seriously.  What did that look like?

  • The book a friend gave me on miscarriages.
  • The hug another gave me.
  • The text to check on how I was doing.
  • The encouragement from another friend, “God wants you to know He hasn’t given up on this dream, so you don’t either.”
  • The prayer from another, “Allow disappointment to happen.  You don’t have to guard your heart.”
  • The spoken words of my Father to me, “I am faithful. Your plans pale in comparison to what I have for you.  Keep trusting deeper.”

Does it hurt? Yes.  Is it sad? Yes.  Did it bring Brent and me closer? Yes.  Is my relationship with my Father any different because my trust in His plan didn’t work out? Yes.  It’s actually stronger, because I’m certain He has a better plan for us.  God has given us the gift of community.

When we guard our heart and mind in truth, we won’t be shaken.   Titus 2:13-14 reminds me that we can have hope.  We have peace, worth, and infinite value in our Lord.  We will endure hardships, but our Savior is coming.  Don’t lose hope, Friend.

We would like to thank JuLea Bouma for this post.

Champion Your Husband

Featured

Editor’s Note: This semester we’ve been focusing on Titus 2 and the mentor relationships Paul encouraged older women to share with younger women. It’s our prayer that as you read the real-life experiences from different women within our campuses you’ll be uplifted and inspired to respond to God’s truth in this season of your life.

One of the things I love about growing older is that I can look back at my life and see all the times God has answered prayer, gone before me, worked things out, shut a door, opened another, or taught me something that only He could. Several months ago, I was working through a Bible study that asked this question: Have you ever learned some biblical truth straight from God without textbook, training, or human teacher?

In 2004, Curtis took a church in the Lubbock area. Wade was two, and I was pregnant with Bethani. The church was without a pastor for about 6 months and needed someone who would help them become stable and healthy again. Curtis dove in head first, and before long the church began to thrive. For the first few years, Curtis wasn’t home much. After two years, I was pregnant with Emmalee. I was neck-deep in the season of raising babies and being pregnant.

I didn’t feel like I had a role or a purpose.

I felt vulnerable and began to believe the lie that Curtis was choosing the church over me. I became resentful of and offended by the church. They had Curtis all the time, and I would’ve liked for him to come home long enough so I could take a shower!

One day I fell apart before the Lord. Sobbing, I asked Him to help show me what to do and how to feel. God met me right there, right in the middle of my pain and brokenness. He said, “As Curtis’ wife, you have the power to sabotage or to strengthen the ministry I have given you. This is your choice. I have a purpose for you. It will change as your season of life changes. If you stay in a place of offense and resentment, you won’t be able to see this purpose. Curtis needs you to champion him on, not hinder what I’m doing through him.” Woah.

This didn’t have anything to do with Curtis OR the church. It was about my response to the trials in my life.

I didn’t want my offense to sabotage our ministry, so I asked God to give me the grace to love the church like Curtis did. He showed me my role and purpose during that season. I made the hard choice to be obedient and submissive to all God called me to be, and in doing so, my heart was softened toward the church. My roots shot down deep, and it stabilized our future. I decided to champion Curtis on in his calling, and he championed me on as well. It was such a sweet movement of God in our marriage and in our ministry.

If there is anything this “older woman” can tell you “younger women”, it’s this: Champion your husband! Ask God to show you your purpose during this season. With obedience and perseverance, submit yourself to the will of the Father, and your husband will champion you on as well! Remember that God is our number one Champion who has paid it all for us!

We would like to thank Allison House for contributing this post to the blog.

Choose Life

Featured

Editor’s Note: This semester we’ve focused on Titus 2 and the wisdom available to us as we glean from the knowledge of other women’s experiences. We hope this post encourages you and lifts you up today to connect with God in a tangible way.

I’m not certain how it happened, but one day I woke up and my kids were BIG. Big enough to see me. The real me. Not the me that could fix their boo boo’s and not the me that could give them a big ol’ mama hug. It had happened. I had been EXPOSED. They had somehow gotten big enough to see MY sin. They could see that I was over-worked, spread thin, wore out and had, over a period of time, become distant and disconnected from them. And while we’re being honest, I was also bitter, short-tempered, selfish and let’s just say it: SINFUL. I had been deceived and Satan had been robbing me from my children.

(INSERT SCREECHING RECORD SOUND HERE.)

Hang with me! I promise that this story ends well! You see, it’s at these pivotal life moments that we can choose to continue to be deceived and believe the lies,

You’re a terrible mom.”

“Look at that mom; her kids adore her.”

“Look at that mom. She can do way more, way better than you.”

 OR 

we can simply choose life.

Life, which is the Hidden Word of God in our hearts. It was an AH HA! moment for me. Repentance was easy and so was the change. I knew exactly what God’s Word said about me.

Ladies, His Word says that He doesn’t call the equipped, but that He equips the called. We are ‘called’ to be wives and mothers; CREATED to do such!  I remember a sermon that Pastor Paul preached where he said, “Parents, LOVE the SNOT out of ’em and let the Holy Spirit do the rest!”

God has equipped us with LOVE!  There is something spectacularly supernatural about LOVE. After sowing it, you reap a harvest VERY quickly. I began sowing and pouring intentional LOVE into my children, each so very different. I told Jeremy just recently that I could literally feel God changing me and the atmosphere of our home. I could see fruit everywhere.

There’s more good news. God maps it out for us in His Word. Titus 2 is fantastically plain and simple about the direction we must take in our homes as mothers and in our communities. Hide these truths in your hearts ladies, so that when the enemy comes against you with lies, you can combat him with truth. Titus 2:11-12 says, ‘For the GRACE of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It TEACHES us to say “NO” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this PRESENT age” (emphasis mine). We can literally be taught to say NO to wrongful, sinful behaviors. We can choose life and truth.

So, it is by His abundant grace that I can continue to grow and press forward in this life and journey as a mother. A life that will be ESTABLISHED in and full of His grace and LOVE! Let’s remember to do as Pastor Paul said, “Love the snot out of ’em and let the Holy Spirit do the rest!”

We would like to thank Kaci Searsy for contributing this post.