Our Favourite Things 2019

Ladies! I am very sorry for taking so long getting this done and thank you very much for your patience. It seems like life has been so very life-y for a very long time! Glad to have this checked off the list, and recipes will be coming asap. At long last, here are the links to the favourite things shared at this year’s conference.

Salsa Dip
Mix a softened block of cream cheese with your favourite salsa to taste. Start with equal parts cheese and salsa. Mom adds a few dried chile flakes, too. So easy and so good!

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Peace Like a River, by Leif Enger
Such a good read! My husband, a couple of my grown-up kids, my mother-in-law all really liked it, too. One of my favourite books. Gripping storyline, excellent characters, surprise ending!
It’s in our AVRL library system, available on amazon.ca. I saw it at Value Village in New Minas the other day!

 

 

Welcome to Clean Mama

https://cleanmama.com
If you need a little (or a lot) of help “looking well to the ways of your household”, Clean Mama is here for you! Lots of free printables, lots of practical help. The blog post that led me to the life-changing toilet brush (ha, ha): Toilet Brush Care 101: End the Gross Out

The toilet brush I bought: Hideaway Compact Toilet Brush
And the plunger caddy: Kleen Freak Twister Caddy
I have since seen the same or similar products in Winners and Walmart. After the conference, one of you told me about the combo caddy. Excellent option! OXO combo brush and plunger

Stomach Settler
1/2 tsp. baking soda in 1 cup of water, almost instant relief for digestive discomfort including nausea, heartburn, gas and bloating. It doesn’t taste very good, but it works!  My kids ask for it at the first sign of nausea or stomach ache.

Chiropractic Adjustments for Chronic Ear Infections/Congestion
After five years of going back and forth between pain and discomfort, my daughter’s ears have been clear and infection-free for nearly a year, thanks to the chiropractor! Definitely consider it if you or your child has these struggles. One of the ladies in the audience added that chiropractic adjustments have ended her sinus issues, and I have also found relief from the daily tension headaches I was experiencing.

51+xGDb9JYL._SX338_BO1,204,203,200_Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls
One of my favourite books as a child, now one of our favourite family read-alouds. Pick up a copy and enjoy it with your kids! (Spoiler alert: there is one intense scene where a side character dies. Be aware and read ahead if you have sensitive children. All that to say, I have some sensitive children and we were okay with it.) Request it through AVRL or order it on Amazon.

 

 

512ETmg2o3L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Love Your Life Not Theirs, by Rachel Cruze
This is one of Shannon’s favourites and Mom is reading it, and I really need to read it soon! In the meantime, I’m listening to their takeaways and being more intentional and careful with my spending. From Amazon: “…Rachel Cruze shines a spotlight on the most damaging money habit we have: comparing ourselves to others. Then she unpacks seven essential money habits for living the life we really want–a life in line with our values, where we can afford the things we want to buy without being buried under debt, stress, and worry.” Amazon: Love Your Life Not Theirs and Christian Book Distributors: Love Your Life Not Theirs

 

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Fair Trade Friday & Mercy House Global
I learned about these great projects years ago through blogs I followed, but only in the last couple of years got personally involved. Such a great cause. This link takes you to a video describing how Mercy House came to be: Mercy House Global
This is where you can support a rescued girl as she transitions home after her time with Mercy House: Support a Graduate
And this is where you can buy fair trade products that are providing many people all over the world with a decent wage and hope: Fair Trade Friday

Tim Challies Links
2019 Christian Reading Challenge
This challenge provided lots of options for varying levels of readers: from one book a month to two per week. I found that not only did I read more, my book choices were more varied. Win-win, no matter how many boxes I checked off! Watch for a new challenge in January.
Reading the Bible Fast and Slow
It is a popular habit to read through the Bible each year, and maybe you do it but are ready to add more time with God’s Word into your day. Or maybe you are already spending longer periods in one book at a time, and you could add a one-year Bible reading plan into your schedule. I found this article’s insights helpful in how I approach all my reading. (But please remember that if you find your commentaries carry more weight than your Bible, set them aside!)

Audiobooks
I am a convert! I love my paper books, especially hardcover, but listening to audiobooks is such a great way to ‘read’ at a time when you can’t be holding a book in your hand. It’s also a great way to give your kids some down time without sitting them in front of a screen. When the book is especially good, you’ll find the whole family gathering around. I have subscribed to Audible, and amazon.ca service, because I wanted to listen a particular book right away and already had an Amazon account. I’ve read that there are better bang-for-your-buck options out there. So look around and find one that suits your situation. Most have a free month trial subscription. I have heard good things about Christian Audio.
christianaudio
Audible

51YJS9EVP1L._SX469_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgThe Nook Book, by Karen Hansgen
Make your home cozy – including those unused or neglected spaces. It’s on Amazon, but if it’s more than you want to spend, check out the used copies. I found a used one in great shape to give away at the conference, and also our AVRL library has it.
New on Amazon or used on Amazon

 

back-to-eden-dvd_2Back to Eden, with Paul Gautschi
Unique approach to gardening, based on spiritual principles, with amazing results. A Bible study and gardening seminar in one! The movie and more resources are free online here: www.backtoedenfilm.com
But if you’d like to own your own copy, you can order it from the official website above or from Amazon.com (US site):
Back to Eden DVD

 

 

chopin.jpegChopin: Nocturnes, by Arthur Rubenstein
My current favourite classical CD. I’m listening as I type! And I was so pleased to learn that my friend Skytha used to enjoy hearing Arthur Rubinstein in concert in Europe!
Chopin: Nocturnes

 

 

51+YvuW5hOL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgNew Morning Mercies, by Paul David Tripp
Shannon’s new favourite daily devotional, and she has sent us several awesome excerpts. Your day really isn’t about you! It’s about Jesus, and it is true encouragement to have that reminder each day.
Amazon
CBD

 

 

 

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Reading Through the Bible Chronologically
A different approach to reading through the Bible, reading the events in the Bible in the order Bible scholars believe the events to have taken place gave me a great sense of history and context. The online plan I started with in 2015 is no longer available, but if you search “Chronological Bible Reading Plan” you’ll find lots of options. If you’d like to buy a daily chronological Bible that you just read straight through, this is the one we gave away at the conference:
Amazon
CBD

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Honey!
If you suffer from allergies, look into using local unpasteurized honey. We are obviously not doctors! A quick google search showed that lots of people are talking about using honey for allergies, but the clinical studies aren’t showing consistent results. All we know is people are doing it and it is working for them. Eat a spoonful of honey as soon as you feel symptoms starting. Stir a tablespoon or so into milk or water if you find it difficult to swallow it straight.

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The Magnificent Defeat, by Don Sunukjian
I definitely recommend this excellent and challenging sermon: “I didn’t understand Jacob; I didn’t understand God; I didn’t understand myself… Is God bringing you to a defining moment where it will be your way or His?”
The Magnificent Defeat, Don Sunukjian

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Francis Chan, Get Over Yourself
Here’s another good one. We all need to get over ourselves!
Francis Chan sermon

41HV850cxuL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgYou Who: Why You Matter and How to Deal with It, by Rachel Jankovic
This great little book packs a big punch.
“If we try to write our stories like the world does, composing our little plot points and shaping ourselves into what we think it would be neat to be, but we love Jesus, this is just making Him one more interesting plot point about us… But Christ will not be managed or contained like that. If He truly bought you with His blood, He did not do so in order to get a sponsorship position in your life. He is not here to look good next to your brand. He bought your life, and you are His.” Available on Amazon or CBD

 

412RIxHHmEL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgFit to Burst, by Rachel Jankovic
Another gem from Rachel, offering a fresh and Christ-centered perspective on mothering in the trenches. “I don’t pull punches or hold back in this book, because I am writing to myself as much as to you. If something in this book strikes a little close to home for you, know that it struck in my home first. I am not writing about other people’s problems, although I know many of them are common. I write about what I know, and what I know is the challenges, the joys, and the work involved in raising little people.” Buy it on Amazon or CBD.

 

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The Jesus Storybook Bible, by Sally Lloyd-Jones
Every story whispers His name! We love this book. Not just for our kids! We’ve learned a lot from it, too.
AmazonCBD

 

 


S
ally Clarkson Girls’ Club podcasts
I love all of Sally’s podcasts. These five were particularly meaningful on the subject of friendship.
How to Be a Friend Worth Having
Interview with Emily Ley
Interview with Elsie Iudicello
Interview with Kate Merrick
Kristen Kill with Sally: Cultivating Friendship with Teen Girls

Also, a favourite blog post by Sally: Sing a Beautiful Song, Mama!

41tKYDMD+EL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgEve in Exile, by Rebekah Merkle
My favourite book ever on biblical femininity! A game-changer! Everything fell into place for me. Move over tea parties, and please pass the theology. Don’t get me wrong: tea parties can be profound when your theology is biblical, but if your idea of femininity doesn’t include theology, you’re missing the point. Be the glory of the glory! I bought mine on Amazon.
Also by Bekah, two excellent women’s conference sessions on youtube:
How to Read the Infallible Word
Mothering the Mind

 

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Adorned, by Nancy Demoss Wolgemuth
I gave this to my 24-year-old daughter for Christmas last year, and she learned a lot from it and passed it along to my mom, who also really liked it. I’m working my way through it now and I think it is very timely: more on biblical womanhood and how to live and learn and serve together. Amazon or CBD

 

 

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Here Now, by Kate Merrick
I bought this book, thinking it would be about breaking device addiction, but it was so much more! Also very timely. Plenty to think about in this book, and it will affect more in your life than your screen time. AmazonCBD

 

 

 

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Young’s Literal Translation of the Bible
My son gave me this for Christmas last year, after hearing me talk about reading it online for some time. A literal word-for-word translation from the original languages, it has clarified and provided insight for me again and again. I enjoy reading several translations at home. You can order it from Amazon.

 

 

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God’s Chosen Fast, by Arthur Wallis
I wasn’t going to mention this one this year, but at the last minute I threw it in. I’m still processing the information in this one, and need to spend some time with my Bible and the passages he quotes to understand his interpretation, but even so, I gained many profound thoughts about our appetites, sin and our prayer life. So if you are curious about fasting, check it out here: Amazon or CBD

 

 

tgcwahk.jpegThe Gospel Comes with a House Key, by Rosaria Butterfield
Saved the best for last! This has been the most life-changing book outside of the Bible that I have read to date. I say that if you are only going to buy one book from this long list, get this one. Order it from Amazon or CBD, and be prepared to be challenged and stretched in the best way! Make your home an incubator and a hospital! Read the book to find out how Rosaria does this.

2019 Favourites…

Hello again, everyone! Busy busy days!! But happily I announce that Charmin sent the ‘Favourites’ along and I managed to post them for you all to go over again. We are not professionals, lol!! But hopefully all that information is clear and helpful to you.

Check out Our Favourite Things HERE!

Check out the 2019 Conference Recipes HERE!

~Shannon

Thank you!

My thoughts are whirring early this morning. I woke up and prayed for many of you. We are FULL of gratitude that you came! …. already excited and looking forward to seeing you next year. 🙌🏻

We are all wondering what ‘place of abundance’ the Lord will bring many of you to by next year while you keep pulling your chair up to His table in faith. We can’t wait to hear you say, ‘Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he has done for my soul.’ We will be ready and waiting to hear your high praise of his mighty acts!

We will do our best to update the website with all the conference stuff ASAP. Just wanted to pop in and say a big THANK YOU and we will be praying for you throughout the year!

~ Shannon

Beautifully Scarred

Psalm 66 is the praise of a scarred man.  You should read it. And be prepared to hear from other scarred people at CONFERENCE  this year!

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Scars are storytelling things. They have stories that remind us who we were, where we were, and leaves us forever changed. I have a scar above one eye from a swing set mishap when I was 10 or 12. I have a scar on my finger from a glass breaking as I was washing the dishes during my first year of marriage. Another scar on my leg from a rock at the shore. That small bump on my chest where my heart procedure took place….

Scars that take me back to specific moments in time and make otherwise normal and obscure details become clear as day and unforgettable. They don’t heal and grow to be invisible over time. They are harder skin, raised up and a different colour or pressed down and dark. You can’t ignore them. They draw the eye away from the normal, mundane skin all around and call for attention. They call up questions in other people. There are stories to tell and sometimes laugher and amazement from crazy times, sometimes pain and sadness because they are the stories that didn’t end well.

My dad’s large scar on his head every time I cut his hair takes me right back to  the first night after surgery and walking past the nurses station to enter his room. Things were bleak in that moment. That scar has seconds that have turned into years attached to it.

We all have scars. Some deeper and more obvious, others smaller and less dramatic.

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So what about your other scars? What about the scarred dreams, scarred purity, scarred and wasted time? Every once in a while (or constant maybe?) a picture or circumstance or conversation makes that emotional scar ache or itch a little. They can’t be forever forgotten. Forgiven? Yes! Forgotten? No.

Scars are our moments of the faithfulness of God standing tall and showing a different shade in our lives. They are God’s graces pressed down and dark with remembrance. People with scars connect well with other scarred people. Women sharing birth stories, kids sharing swing set mishaps, chemo patients seeing the bald head and immediately connect on a deeper level.  Scars bring intimacy. I see your scars. I carry them too. We are none of us perfect, we all are carriers of God’s amazing grace bringing us through each trial in accordance with his perfect plan.

My scars may look ugly to you, but I learned valuable lessons from each place I got them. Every year my anniversary is a scarred reminder of the hard years and how God miraculously brought us through. Every time a picture of a certain place we lived comes across my path I’m reminded of God’s heavy hand of teaching and training that was on me while there. He brought me through.

Each place I was brought through stands taller and is shaded lighter and shows itself more. ‘Remember God’s faithfulness’ is what those scars tell me to do. If He brought me through once He can do it again.

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The Israelites have life scars, too. A bunch of them are written down and passed on to me  in Scripture so that I can see God’s hand of faithfulness in other lives in big ways. It builds my trust and patience in my own circumstance to see the way He worked in other messy lives. Remember Noah and the flood… Abraham and Sarah waiting so long for God’s promise… Pharaoh killing all the Hebrew babies… 40 years of wandering in the wilderness… during the time of the judges constantly being overpowered by their enemies…

Scars are not about us. My jagged marks in life aren’t about me. They are the marks of grace given to a sinner from a merciful God who has every right to do away with me right now and not allow for anymore remembrances. What is Shannon that thou art mindful of her? Why do you patiently keep working and healing and creating a scar-filled highway from her life? I’m not proud of my scars. They aren’t feathers in my cap. If I focus on my part in those scars it brings me down. If I’m the key player in those stories I become defeated. My part is so depressing. But God who is rich in mercy and that amazing love wherewith he loved me is the highlight in those moments along my life’s highway. Grace stands taller, stronger, calling for my attention. It aches with the deep humble gratefulness when reminders come. It has built compassion for those in the middle of being wounded right now. It’s built trust that the same God who healed me and made things stronger somehow in my life is working the same miracles in the lives of those around me.

A sign of a surrendered heart is the willingness to bear the marks of the Lord Jesus. Do you have the mind of Christ or do you have your own? How you suffer and heal changes when you lay your life down the way Christ did. He laid it down to the death. I can ‘seek my own’, and instead of healing stronger and God being raised up brighter in my weakness, the wound festers and gets infected. And the tell-tale sign of bigger problems are those red streaks that start travelling up the skin straight toward the heart. Wounds not dealt with properly eventually attack your main source of life.

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My son broke his leg a couple of years ago. After it should have healed in that one spot after surgery we didn’t know infection was brewing under that cast. His symptoms were being blamed on the flu. But then I happened to see that sore spot. Red, hot, and lines spreading up his leg showing it’s goal was reaching the heart and, unless we dealt with the actual problem, infection would win. But with some proper treatment of the infection things improved quickly and now we just have a scar instead of death. Yet another reminder both physically and spiritually that a problem not dealt with turns into more. If it doesn’t turn into Christ it turns into more of us…. something that is never pretty and always leads to death.

2 Corinthians 11:30 ” If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern my infirmities.” That means I will boast of the things that show my weaknesses… I will boast about my scars that shout out about my mess and all God has done to heal and show His power, not mine.

With that thought in mind, read this:

2 Corinthians 12:8- “For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

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Take a look at your scars. They are beautiful. They shout out of Christ’s work and faithfulness in your life. Do not be discouraged in your pain today, for God is being raised up in your life for tomorrow. Live to that end!

~Shannon

Spiritual Anorexia

 Is your Bible woven intricately into every area of your life? Does it consume you? Do you understand the thoughts of the Psalmist saying ‘As the deer pants for the water so my soul longs after you’?

That phrase used to confuse me. I’d think to myself, “I’m not desperate for my quiet time with God like a thirsty deer hunting for a stream.’ I figured the Bible teachers I’d heard mention it must be faking that feeling….

At that same time the thought confused me I was starving for help and life was getting to be way more than I could handle. I hadn’t realized yet where my nourishment came from and I was bordering on spiritual anorexia.

As my hubby says, if you’re not going to eat your spiritual food don’t complain about your hunger pains!

When was the last time you devoured your Bible? Not a Bible study book…. not a commentary… not a Christian living or devotional book… but the tried and true Word of God all on its own? … for more than 5 or 10 minutes???

We are pretty big on getting people into Scripture in these parts because many of us have experienced the awesome consequences time after time in our own lives, and we are so excited to pass on the simple advice that will change other’s lives, too!

We’ve watched as prison walls have been torn down in lives over and over. We’ve also had to watch the consequences of many who don’t love on their Bibles, too… and it ain’t pretty. Hard to witness such things, but praise God for the many who He teaches to ‘pant for the living water’ and those that are washed by the Word daily!

As you pick up your Bible today, and every day, think of these words I found in my bible study notes from a couple of years ago (I preach to myself CONSTANTLY 😅) because maybe you need this reminder, too?

Always be willing to revisit the word of God. He is constantly revealing more of himself to the christian through it. Always ask Scripture good hard questions, it can handle it. Whether you will bear it or not may be a different story. Ask God to help you handle it.

Prepare yourself to be cut and maimed and destroyed every time you open the Word. God uses it to cut away every bit of self government and reason humanly speaking, and works to bring you under the subjection of the One who holds the sword, no matter what He may say.

Always be humble enough to hear other men’s views on what those inspired pages say but wise enough to honestly sift them through the whole of Scripture to see if they are in keeping with the Word – not necessarily in keeping with what you have always understood the Word to say.

Jump into your Bible today! Expect BIG THINGS!

Haven’t heard about the Bible Challenge? Here it is in a nutshell… It’s an awesome addiction.

~Shannon

What’s New (with links)

Here at Watch the Sky things are SO DIFFERENT. Oh my. And there’s no end in site for more changes to come. Gotta fasten my seatbelt a little bit more.

These past months have been just one big change after another and this momma is about ready for some sweet normal… whatever normal is.

This past fall things started to feel crazy when my oldest told us about his plan to move west and follow some dreams. Enter prayer warrior mom status…. and all who have had kids leave the nest know how hard this was. He moved right after christmas along with a young family, his good friends, and started in on his adventure. I don’t think I’ll ever get over not having him home each night after work. I cried all Christmas Day knowing he would be gone soon. Sympathy please??

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For a Mother’s Day surprise he drove in and shocked us all! He had come back with his friend to move the rest of their stuff west and didn’t tell us he was coming. So we all got to sit and chat and hug that boy! Best Mother’s Day present ever!

My boy isn’t the only one moving and grooving. The rest of us have moved out of the rental we were in (not your usual rental! It was big and beautiful and God set it right in our laps 4 years ago). It was wonderful and God used it in many ways. So thankful for our time there. But now is an even cooler turn of events. My family is moving into my childhood home and taking over The Homeplace!

No complaints here. But it’s surreal to watch your parents pack up their belongings and prepare to leave the home that has been theirs for 43 years. Not sure I’ll ever get over that either.  Because of the way life worked we had to move in before they moved out. This has made things a little crazy. But they are super patient and gracious. So we have two houses worth of stuff in one along with 8 people. Always an adventure.

While we sift through all the things piled around the Homeplace I’ve been making notes of all the cool things that I want to tell you about in case they are encouragements to you. I’ll have to split up the links and share some another time.

  • CLEANING: Before moving I had just found Clean Mama and fell in love. I printed off a bunch of printables and started a home binder and it changed how my days rolled. Shocking how a simple list and straightforward calendar in front of me all day every day can make such a big impact. With moving and life with piles around us make it difficult to continue my Clean Mama regime but I can’t wait to get back into the flow this website was teaching me to embrace. Life for the Elson’s is very busy and full and it is really difficult to maintain order and cleanliness when there is always something going on, people coming or going, and lots of relationships to be involved in. ( My mom can’t believe the amount of dishes that get washed dried and put away in the run of a day with my kids!) Clean Mama was the fresh boost I needed. My mom joined in on her website, too! You’ll love all the printables!
  • BINDER CHANGE: I am in the midst of changing up my planner. GASP!! I have used the Franklin Covey classic binder for the past number of years. I LOVE IT. But, it is hard to find all the accessories and papers that I want for it at the prices I want. While standing over the multitude of options in the Michael’s store here the manager of the store showed me her Happy Planner that she has been using for years. She took the time to walk me through all the different sizes, accessories, and options within this amazing planner. Also some money saving lessons she’s learned along the way. She was SO helpful. So I walked away with my own Happy Planner and have been transferring all my info into it from my old binder and thoroughly enjoying myself.
  • SOME AWESOME ENCOURAGEMENT for moms right here! Charmin sent Mothering the Mind by Rebekah Merkle to all of us sisters and told us to listen immediately ALL IN CAPS!!!! LOL. It’s an excellent listen. Excellent.
  • SOME MORE AWESOME ENCOURAGEMENT was sent to me from Jenn. Antifragile Mothering by Rachel Jankovic . So good. Take a listen!! We all need to be told this stuff!

 

  • AFRICA FOR NIKKI: Many of you know and love my cousin, Nikki. She is headed to Africa! She’s pumped to be headed to go help her good missionary friend this summer. God has just continued to do amazing things in her life and we all just praise God for all the things He keeps doing through her and her testimony. Leave some encouragement for her here! Let her know you’ll be praying for her! If you haven’t heard her story from the beginning you can listen to Nikki’s testimony on the blog.

That’s all for now. Keep on keeping on y’all!

~Shannon

But then Jesus…

Thought I’d share some encouragement from my Bible Challenge notes a few weeks ago.

Do you know despair? Do you know shame? Do you know regret? Do you know what it’s like to say, “God, I did what you asked! I begged you for help! Why didn’t you show up?!! It all could have been so different!!”

If you are in that place right now, this is for you. Keep on keeping on.

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The stench of the death of your hopes and dreams dying away is not a forever aroma. Don’t keep facing what you thought were your perfect ideas, struggling to breathe in the midst of the smoke of what God asks you to leave on the altar smoldering as an offering to him. Turn away and face Jesus again. There’s going to be more to your story. Trust him with the grave of all you hold dear. He is worthy… and He is still at work.

You already know this story, but read it again before I tell you how it hit me.

John 11:37-46

“And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died? Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave cloths: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him. ”

Think about that. All the people there along with Mary and Martha were believers in the fact that Jesus was a miracle worker. Of course He could maintain things and keep things going that were already good. No one disputed that Lazarus wouldn’t have died had Jesus come. Healing would have been certain if Jesus had been there. But surely even he could do nothing after a body has been buried and decomposing for a couple of days. All that could be done now is to give up and wait for that final promise and rest in that…. but as for now, things could ever be good again. Never.

I’ve felt that way so many times. I’m sure you have too. Many of you feeling it at a far deeper level than I have had to so far. When it would seem that all is lost and nothing is left but death and despair. Nothing but pain and heartache. Messy, fetal position on the bathroom floor, kind of pain.

But then Jesus

Jesus reminds Mary, Martha, and all those present that he holds the key to resurrection. No restraints. Nothing  is out of his capabilities… Never give up, just refocus. Not only can the situation still change even after all is lost according to all human reasoning, but if Jesus chooses to call life out it will be bigger, better, and more powerful than before.

Lazarus came out with all the evidence still attached of his previous circumstance. He didn’t walk out all cleaned up and in a new suit. He walked out of that tomb with evidence of the mess he was just in. Everyone knew what his state had been… then the focus was on the amazing thing Jesus did with his mess… not how Lazarus pulled up his bootstraps and got his act together and cleaned up the grave and got himself out of there looking better than before without anyone realizing how bad it really was. And Lazarus wasn’t the only one benefiting from how Jesus worked.  All eyes were on the proceedings and many were changed from the one life Jesus allowed to be taken and buried. What a glorious witness of what Jesus is capable of! When all human hope is gone, never give up hope!

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Many times things are just hard and life gets messy and stinky. We bury all the hard things and call them done deals. It’s over. There’s nothing anyone can do with decomposition and stench and lack of oxygen and blood for 4 days! And usually they stay buried and decomposing. But God gave us just enough examples of miracles throughout Scripture that He chose to perform that it makes me say, “Yeah, this looks super hopeless… but what about Lazarus? What if I wait patiently for God to show up and He calls life back into this tomorrow?! What if my situation is the next ‘lazarus’?” ……. It kind of makes me want to charge hell with a squirt gun!

Bring. It. On.

So you’re in a mess right now? Sin and stench, brokenness and strife is all your story right now??? What if God is just waiting 4 days before amazing everyone? If there is any hope given to the broken hearted and ungodly in Scripture, it is Lazarus’ resurrection. Somebody say THANK YOU JESUS!!!

We can ask in the midst of the hardship, how can this possibly bring glory to God? How can grave clothes and embalming, tombs and weeping possibly be the best choice to bring God glory??? But doesn’t Lazarus’ grave clothes and stink from death make the end result so much more glorious?! Can there be any doubt that this was a far more powerful story than the simple healing of a sick man?!

Wait patiently, friend…. God is still at work. All hope is not lost. He is good. He is worthy.

~Shannon

Learning Quietness

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty”

Psalm 91 – I’ve memorized this chapter to help with my word for 2019. It was medicinal. It reminds me how much power I really have. Go read Psalm 91!! 🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻

It has helped me as I have had my involvement taken away in a number of situations lately . When I can’t do what I’ve always done I am forced to learn to be quiet and trust the God that I read about in Scripture and live like I believe he is omniscient and omnipotent. I say I believe it. Now I have to live it.

It helps me remember my rightful place is being quiet and watching God work. I’m hiding under that wing, in a little nook while I watch through the feathers as God takes care of the situation. No input or help from me. He is God, He can handle it!

“He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust.” Psalm 91:4

I am being forced to learn to be quiet and trust that the same God that works in me and has tethered me to himself, can tether those I’m concerned about to himself as well. None of it is dependant on me.

“ A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at they right hand. But it shall not come nigh thee.” (Verse 7)

That’s a big deal that verse is proclaiming! That is a huge attribute of God being spoken of right there. We are nothing. God does it all. My job is to choose wisely where to hide and whose strength, wisdom, and ability to trust in. I watch ‘inactively’ and see what God does. No input from me. No action from me.

God calls his people to action. We are to obey… but sometimes we get thinking he’s accomplishing so much because of how good we are doing. We all have circumstances that God brings into our lives to show us where He is not looked to as sovereign God.

Every hard circumstance, every anxious feeling, every terrifying thought is a place to give God the preeminence there.

Colossians 1:18 “and he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.”

He already is preeminent. That’s not up for discussion. He just takes time here and there to bring us back to that reality.

Where there is a struggle to allow God to work on his own, without any interference from me, He most certainly does not have the preeminence yet.

Feelings of fear or anxiousness are not the issue. Those feelings may not go away after our humbling and submission for the simple reason that God is not safe. He may allow the hardest and lowest of circumstances. Have you read the Bible?! The possibility of horrible things happening is not promised away by submitting ourselves, therefore the sweat is still abundant. But the attempted control over which way it will go has been released.

Being troubled over what God calls you to is something that even Christ himself went through.

Matt 26:37 “And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death;…”

That word ‘troubled’ is the strongest of 3 forms of depressed, anguished, and distressed, used in the Greek language. Jesus was heavily troubled and prayed to be delivered from his circumstance. He sweat blood. It was bad.

My point is that you are able to be distressed, even unto death, and not be in sin…. If you are not attempting to be in control of the hardship.

Jesus handled his troubling time exactly as he instructed his disciples in the gospels and the further direction we get from 1 Peter.

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

1 Peter 5:6-11 “Humble yourselves therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care (anxieties) upon him, for he careth for you.”

‘Humble yourselves’ means to give God preeminence. Let him do whatever he wants and trust him with it. 

I notice a big difference in how anxiety and fear are handled by Jesus than other issues with us humans. Even if you want to call it a sin (which is only a sin if you are trying to control it from what I’ve seen and understood so far), Jesus clearly gives different instructions for being troubled or depressed. It’s not a ‘stop sinning!’ command he gives, but a comforting reminder to bring our fears to Him and trust Him with the results.

Christ took it to the Father and he knew he still needed to die. The stress of all he was going to endure didn’t disappear because he gained a godly perspective. All the difficulty was still there waiting for him. It was just a humbling moment where it was modelled for us how we will wrestle with God’s will vs. my will.

You know the humbling has taken place when you lay all your tools down and let God call the shots.

Think about this thought taken from Exodus when the Ten Commandments had just been given along with instructions from God how he wants sacrifices to take place…

Exodus 20:23-25 “And the Lord said…An altar of earth you shall make for me and sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen. In every place where I cause my name to be remembered I will come to you and bless you. If you make me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stones, for if you wield your tool on it you profane it.

Every place of my humbling is a place God ‘causes his name to be remembered. It’s a place you lay yourself down as the sacrifice on the altar and the only one that walks away is God. Your tools stay on the ground and the stones of that sacrifice stay raw with God’s perfect beauty. I don’t get to chisel the altar and make the stones fit like I want anymore. When I’m okay with how God’s going to have this end up looking I am done wrestling with God. I may still be piling the stones for that place of remembrance and preparing myself to climb on the altar so my will dies, but the chisels are profane to me. They call for MY control and MY glory – sickening to a truly repentant heart, arrogant to a humble soul disgusting to a willing servant.

Humbling. Sacrifice. Repentance. He shall be preeminent!

~Shannon

(Photos snatched from my daughter’s phone 😉)

Fav’s: A Sermon & A Recipe

I have an all-time favourite, life changing kind of sermon to share with you. Skip ahead to the 2 minute mark if you don’t care about the very long introduction to the speaker. 😉

Sermon: The Magnificent Defeat

You can listen to that while you are making the recipe I’m sharing! 😉

Charmin found an awesome white bread recipe years ago and I tweaked it for my stand mixer and what worked for me. It’s so Good! So easy! So cheap!!!!

People think that making bread is a big ordeal but it’s so desperately easy and takes hardly any of your time! Give it a try and your family will love you. Seriously, if I can do it anyone can.

White Bread

1/4 Cup Lard

1/4 Cup Sugar

3tsp Salt

2 1/3 Cup Hot Water

Mix this until lard melts.

Dump in 4 cups Flour with 1 1/2 Tbsp Quick Rise Yeast and mix well. Add 2 Cups Flour and knead … continuing kneading in flour until bread is ALMOST too sticky to handle. It may take between 3-4 cups of flour.

Knead into a ball and set in oiled pan, roll dough to cover with oil. Cover with syran wrap and a towel and set in warm

Place to raise for 30 min – 1 hour.

Divide dough into 3 even sections. Knead into 3 loaf shapes and set in greased bread pan. Set aside to raise for 30 min-1 hour.

Bake at 400 for 20-25 min. Just until nicely browned.

Brush with butter immediately.

(This recipe freezes well, too! Yummy goodness is not lost upon thawing.)

~ Shannon

Cinnamon Rolls: A recipe for their hearts

I was asked for our cinnamon roll recipe and I thought I’d share it here on the blog. But first, some food for thought from a lady who doesn’t enjoy cooking/baking.

Even if I dislike chopping, stirring, and mixing… even if I hate creating messes in what was once my tidy kitchen… even if moms throughout the world see the endless needy tummies as a source of never-ending tiredness, our attitude toward it all does a flip when we understand the significance of our labour.

Anne’s (my sister) Valentine’s Day Cinnamon Buns

Food.

It’s our chance to show care and offer comfort without using any words. Food creates an environment that lends itself to communication. When there is food ready in the kitchen there will be bodies relaxing and getting filled up. There will be smiles, laughing, and confidence built up in those people you’re raising.

If we keep our ministry of motherhood first and foremost in our minds we can use treats and comfort food to put our families at ease and find their souls relaxing too. Sure, I could open a pack of cheetos and throw it on the counter and call it a day. But I dare you to go all out make something (cheaper!!!) like muffins, put them in a basket while they’re warm and stick them on the counter or table with a butter dish beside it, and napkins. Your house will evolve into the best of hygge, and your kids will love life. When they ask if they can have 2 or 3, let them. Do it and take note of what happens.

Anne’s Cozy Tablescape

I’ve discovered it’s amazing the roll a plate of bacon, or a cheese tray, or a simple cinnamon bun can have in a day. I’ve been pondering it awhile now… and pondering it more as I prepare to share a little bit about it at our next homeschool monthly meeting. There is so much more to this idea! God is teaching me lots.

On that note, here is my mother’s awesome cinnamon roll recipe that has filled my and my sister’s tummies, and now our families, for many years.

Mrs.D’s Cinnamon Rolls

Mix 1 tsp Sugar in 1/2 Cup warm Water.
Add 1 Tbsp Yeast.
Let rise 10 minutes.

Meanwhile scald 1 1/2 Cups Milk
Add the following to milk and let butter melt:
1/2 Cup Sugar
2 tsp Salt
2 Eggs
1/2 Cup Butter

Add yeast mixture.
Add 5-7 Cups Flour, kneading after each addition.
Let Rise 1 hour.
Divide dough in half. Roll each half into a rectangle 1/4 inch thick.
Butter dough all over and sprinkle generously with brown sugar.
Sprinkle cinnamon over brown sugar.
Roll up and slice 1/2-3/4 inch slices.
Let rise 1 hour
Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
When cool pour glaze over.

Glaze:
2 Cups Icing Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
Mix in enough milk to make runny icing.
(I like to add 1/4 Cup softened butter to icing and make it thick to spread on!)

Enjoy!

~Shannon