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Remember when the disciples were on the Sea of Galilee and a storm struck? (Read Matt 14) The wind and waves began in the evening and continued all night long.

Meanwhile, Jesus was on a mountaintop praying, far away from the impending disaster. I’m convinced the disciples were praying for the storm to stop, or at least to be able to make it to the other side of the Sea and find safety on dry land. Jesus didn’t answer those prayers. Instead, He met them out on the Sea, walking on the water. Why?

This age-old question has kept millions at an arms-length away from their Creator. Why does human suffering occur and why does God not stop it? When we are going through trials and tribulations, we can hang our hats on this truth: God has a divine purpose in the pain. Our job is to trust Him through it and wait to see the spiritual fruit that accompanies it in the future.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.  2 Corinthians 1:3-5

God has not promised us an easy life. Far from it! He has promised His children that he will be with us through those trials. Jesus meets us in the middle of the storm to build our faith and to teach us to worship Him in truth and spirit.

Suffering produces a reliance on God in the heart of the faithful. Suffering pushes others further from the Lord when their souls are unfaithful and bitter. In essence, tough times separate the wheat from the chaff. As we grow spiritually, God begins to show us His power and comfort as we go through the curve balls in life.

The comfort we receive from Him can be used to bring people into the Kingdom of God. When non-believers experience trouble, it’s the perfect opportunity for the believer to comfort them, love them, and understand them. When we show others God’s love through our lives, they will be prodded to consider Jesus as their own Lord and Savior.

We live on a fallen planet where sin and suffering is the natural order of things. Suffering will continue until sin disappears; and that will not happen until the Second Coming of our Lord.

Notice some key words in verse 5: abundantly and abounds. The word abounds comes from the Latin word abundāre, meaning to overflow. Imagine a river after a rainstorm. The water overflows its banks because it cannot be contained. There’s too much water! In the same way, God provides a mechanism through the power of the Holy Spirit to bring an overflowing amount of comfort when times turn difficult.

That comfort is available in very large quantities when we humble ourselves before the Lord. This builds our faith and helps us shine a brighter light into a darkened world. One of the greatest evangelism tools we have is our testimony. Every powerful testimony contains so many examples of God’s grace and comfort when the wind threatens to tear us down. Seek God’s comfort today. You will not only be helping yourself, but you will also be providing a wonderful weapon for your Lord to use to see others come into His glorious kingdom.

pride…

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Have you ever offended someone? Ever been offended? I’m guilty on both counts.

Just before I came to Christ, I didn’t much care if I offended another person. If they interfered with my goals or ambitions, look out. I didn’t care how carefully I talked when I was treated unkindly. Turn-about was fair play as far as I was concerned. “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” I was so truthful I was brutally blunt. I remember challenging a Christian over lifestyle choices and know I was not the most diplomatic of people at the time. I rarely weighed my words. I did what I felt like doing.

After Christ, I changed. I began to care that I didn’t offend others with my words and actions. I considered the feelings of others even when I was hurt. I was careful with my words. I thought seriously about doing to others as I wanted others to do to me. I must have read 1 Corinthians 13 a hundred times and took it to heart that love was not rude, nor did it keep account of wrongs. It took work on my part to break some of my impulsive habits and to practice love that the Apostle Paul urged we practice in Chapter 14. But in time, the LORD worked in me and I know that my conscience began to be clearer and clearer. At the end of the day, there were fewer and fewer times I felt guilty.

Since becoming a child of God, I pay more attention to how I speak to others…how I treat them. I find myself looking for more ways to encourage, than denigrate: to praise than criticize. To control my emotions than letting my emotions control me. The beauty in being a Christian is God shows us so much mercy and grace in our slips and stumbles. He cleanses us from all iniquity and has already paid the debt for our sinful nature.

With this in mind, it behooves me to show mercy and grace when another offends me. I usually get a bit more uptight when someone offends a friend or loved one of mine, than myself. But I have to bring all these feelings to God and recognize them for what they are. Pride. The how-dare-they attitude really has no place in the thought patterns of those who follow Jesus. After all…what did Jesus do when criticized, rejected, scorned, and mocked? He said, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Sadly, some folks today know exactly what they are doing when they say things to offend, when they do things to get a rise out of us, to incite others to anger. Some folks have no desire to be less offensive, or render mercy. But I can only control me and myself. I can only come to Jesus with my own weaknesses and flaws. Others must answer for themselves.

LORD, help me master the offensive nature I battle. Let me so fill myself with your grace that I pour out kindness, peace and love to others. Give me more of You, LORD. Let me so shine before man that I bring glory to You and You alone. Amen

What about you?  How do you deal with pride?

In His Grip,

Mary

Vitality Fit for life

Here starts the journey of healthy eating.  I’m doing this for a life-style change and not weight loss…although I am hopeful I will continue to lose the weight!  I have lost 20 pounds in the last two months just changing my eating habits!  I will be adding the Melaleuca Vitality for life products to my daily routine…and I will share with y’all.  I ordered a little too late, they should be here tomorrow!  More to come on this.  I have researched many months on this…and I cannot wait to begin.

First, I took a full body picture of myself yesterday.  Don’t worry, I won’t post it! LOL and I took all the my measurements.  Put it on a paper to document.  I slide those both in my desk drawer to look at later.  I dated the paper because I will forget when I started.  Will you do that too?  Join me…it doesn’t take long!

Next I prepared my meals for the week.  Made my shopping list and went to the store and stuck to my list!  Most of the items are on the outside of the isles…stay on the outside ladies! :-)  I am trying to eat “Clean” staying away from preservatives and eating fresh items.  This is a little harder, or should I say a little more time consuming…that is where planning comes in handy!  I like the Paleo diet…many of the recipes I will share are from this diet.  Just google Paleo diet recipes and there are so many!  Basically if it is grown, you can eat it!  I am also trying to buy my meat from local farmers who only grass feed their stock.  It is a little more expensive, but worth the change.  I joined a local co-op and shop with local farmers each week.  If you want more information on this co-op, just email me and I will get that info to you…if you are in the Little Rock area that is.

Let’s start with juicing.  I bought a juicer about 4 months ago and it is the best thing ever!  I love it!  I juice every morning.  Here is mine from this morning…fruit

I started with three apples and one orange.  Try to mix the apples…different kinds, it gives the juice more flavor!

juicer

I ran those pieces through my juicer…and end up with just the juice…then I make an ice drink with it.

pinapple

My juicer comes with this mini blender…I add ice and whole pineapple chunks or banana.  Blend well…

drink

 

Add a straw and it’s ready.  This is about 190 calories.  I add a slice of turkey bacon and fried egg (s) depends on the morning.  Turkey bacon is 40 calories a slice…and two whole fried eggs are 180.  Most of the time I just do one…or just the egg whites.  Makes for a yummy breakfast.  Gives you plenty of energy to start your day too!  I switched from margarine to real butter with no salt.  Did you know margarine was created to fatten chickens and turkeys???  Truth.

Lunches at work…that’s hard for many people.  It was for me too.  So much easier to just go out and eat!  But I have changed my lunch habits.  I make soup for the week.  I find recipes for the crock pot…make it on Sunday for the whole week.  These soups have so much flavor and are super easy to make.  The one that is in my crock pot today is a creamy chicken soup.  I will share the recipe at the bottom of this post.

chicken

Place frozen chicken in the crock pot.

spices

Open and add these…the recipe will be at the bottom.

crock pot

Looks like this in the crock pot…cook for 6-8 hours…and pure yumminess!  I pour this into 5 ball canning jars I have and it lasts in your fridge for 2 weeks!  Yup, so much better than can soup off the store shelves!  I also eat a few chips…the blue corn chips.  I get a bag from Kroger in their health isle.  I need a crunch with lunch.

Here is my dinner menu:

Monday: Kabobs.  I use stew meat, onions and bell peppers and do them on my George Forman grill inside.  10 minutes!  Easy.  I can eat just this, but usually make brown rice with it.  I try not to eat it though.

Tuesday:  Chicken and veggies.  George Forman grill again because it is fast.  I add a bag of steamers to it and call it dinner.  Quick and easy clean up!

Wednesday:  Hamburgers and veggies.  I use grass-fed ground beef…and yes, I fry it in a pan.  I do not put my on a bun, but will have one for the hubby.  I do add a slice of cheese, tomato and onion and eat it with a fork.  Another bag of steamers veggies.  Love those bags!  Saves me time!

Thursday:  Chicken and veggies again.  Maybe bake it this time???  Depends on how the day goes.

Friday:  Fish and veggies.  I love the fish from Walmart…if you cannot get fresh, these are awesome.  They are flash frozen in individual pouches.  Love it.  I am baking mine and adding another bag of steamers.

Saturday…I will do any leftovers we might have.  Or just open a can of tuna.  Depends on the day.

Sunday: I like to do a roast.  I cook carrots in the roast, but no potatoes.  If the family comes over and wants some of those, I do it in a separate pan!  I usually have a big ole salad this day!  Yummy!

Don’t forget your snacks!  Trick is to eat less and more often.  So I grab a few pecans (8) as a morning or afternoon snack.  Celery sticks…whatever you pick.

Drink water.  Take your weight divide in half…and that is how many ounces you need to drink in a 24 hour period!  Yup…drink the water!

I am doing at least 30-45 minutes of workout a day…brisk walk, it there isn’t ice on the ground…or the Wii whatever activity…do it daily!

That is what I am doing.  Will you join me?  Comment me if you are and I will encourage you or help anyway I can through the week.  I will leave you with the chicken soup recipe and one I LOVE, a pizza casserole using spaghetti squash!  Best ever!

In His Grip,
Mary

Recipes:

1)  Creamy Chicken Tomato Crock pot Soup:

4 frozen skinless chicken breast

Garlic salt to taste

2 tablespoons of Italian Seasoning

1 tablespoon of dried basil

1 clove of garlic

1 14 oz can of coconut milk (full fat)

1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes and juice

1 cup of chicken broth

sea salt and pepper to taste.

Throw it all in the crock pot.  cook 6-8 hours on low.  Pull the chicken out and shred it up and then just mix it back in.

2)  Pizza Casserole:

1 pound of grass-fed ground beef (sausage works too)

8 oz chopped turkey pepperoni divided in half

1 small onion diced

4 cloves of garlic minced

1 teaspoon of sea salt

1 teaspoon of EACH oregano, basil and thyme

4 cups of roasted spaghetti squash noodles (about 1.  See how to roast at the bottom)

2 cups of your favorite spaghetti sauce

2 eggs

1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese or any substitute

Roasting your squash:

Cut squash in half.  Clean seeds out.  Place meat side down on parchment paper with a tablespoon of water.  Bale 375 for 30-35 minutes.  Let completely cool.  Use a fork to scrap the inside getting the noodle like meat out.

Method:

Preheat oven 400 degrees.

In a large skillet over medium heat saute the ground beef and 1/2 the pepperoni onion and garlic.

As the ground meat cooks, add in the sprinkle in the seasoning.

In a large bowl, mix the warm beef mixture, spaghetti sauce, squash threads, eggs and cheese of your choice.

Place in a casserole dish.  I use a 9 X 9.

Top with remaining pepperoni and cheese.

Bake 30 minutes until golden brown and bubbly.

You can also place this in the fridge and cook on the night you are ready to eat!  Makes it easier if you work!

Print. Share. Enjoy!  Let me know if you try these! :-)

Happy Health!

This thing called Grace…

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We hear the word “Grace” often in church.

We sing “Amazing grace how sweet the sound”.

We talk about God’s grace, but what is it? What is grace?

Grace is a pardon activated by faith. It saves us from ourselves and stands us next to Jesus. It washes us clean from the dirt of our messy lives and clothes us in garments washed by the blood of the Lamb.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.Ephesians 2:8-9

Grace is neither elusive nor can we fully comprehended it, because it lives somewhere between the place of believing and seeing, where faith resides. It is hope and trust blended with peace and assurance, forgiveness and the power to change. It requires us to take God at His word and open to Him our clinched fists and closed hearts to receive the gift He offers.

For me grace came at the most unexpected time, in the most unexpected place. It came in my mistakes – my sin, and turned me around. It showed me a love that has no depth, no height, no width and no end. It showed me God; a good and loving Father who is not turned away by messes but instead transforms them into something better, something good, and something that becomes an abundant life.

No matter how deep in despair or in the darkness of sin, grace breaks through and claims the lost, the hurting, the lonely, and the broken when hearts turn to Jesus. And like the song, His grace is amazing, and sounds so sweet to the ears of those who are rescued and set free from bondage. To those who were blind and now can see, it truly is amazing grace!

It is amazing because we don’t deserve it…we cannot earn it…we can only accept it. It is available to anyone who will receive it.

Those times when we are weak –His grace will carry us and His strength will be made perfect in our weakness. It is then that we see – His grace is sufficient!

My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.

– 2 Corinthians 12:9

Have you accepted His Amazing Grace?

In His Grip,

Mary

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 10,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

 

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Tis the season for people to be thankful and that’s a good thing, I guess. People are posting “a thankful thought per day” on FB and it’s kinda nice. It’s neat to read how God has been good to them and rejoice with them.

But truthfully, thanksgiving is not a November thing, or a Thanksgiving Holiday thing. Thanksgiving is a heart attitude thing and is expected from all believers at all times, in every thing.

I know that I certainly don’t give thanks in all things. I don’t naturally praise God for the flat tire or the late child or the flopped cake or the prickly person. I want to pout instead of praise.

When gratitude dies on the altar of a man’s heart, that man is well-nigh hopeless. ~Bob Jones, Sr

But, when I choose to pout instead of praise, something happens inside of me. I start down a familiar old road: discontentment which leads to complaining. I begin making soft choices and talking to myself:

  • Hey, cut yourself some slack. Everyone has a bad day.
  • Don’t worry about it. Complaining is nothing compared to other sins.
  • Don’t be so uptight about sin. For real. Who do you know who never complains?

But when I make soft choices, and wonder “Did God really mean that?” I am questioning and challenging the authority of God’s word in my life.

After all, if I belong to God, and am bought with a price and redeemed, then He has a say in how I live.

I encountered these verses this morning in one of my favorite Psalms, Psalm 50 where God calls his covenant people to account for two things:

ritualism and empty worship which resulted in

rebellion against God and showed up in their

heartless worship (ritual and externalism) and hypocrisy in their relationships with their own family and neighbors. (Read the Psalm! It’s a great one!)

And tucked into these verses is a common root whenever we fall into sin: Thankless-ness. (Romans 1 talks about this downward path)

The remedy? Instead of performing another ritual, or offering God another sacrifice, God tells us what he wants:

“Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High.”     (v. 14)

and

“The one who offers thanksgiving in His sacrifice glorifies me, and to the one who orders his way rightly, I will show the Salvation of God.” (23)

I don’t know about you, but my patterns of behavior are pretty predictable:

I’m think I deserved more or better,

I begin to complain,

Which leads to un-thankfulness,

Which puts me in a prime spot for Satan to attack me on so many levels,

Because all Satan needs for me to believe is that God was not good to me somehow, and he’ll begin his destructive work.

That’s why I need to keep a TIGHT rein on my thought life, and that’s why guarding my own heart is imperative.

God is worthy of all of my thanksgiving and praise and when my heart is right before Him, this comes easy. But when my heart feels entitled to more, I struggle.

God is good, whether the cake rises or not! :)

How about you? Do you struggle with this as well? Do you talk to yourself and keep yourself in check with Scripture? Does this make you feel like a crazy woman sometimes?  

I would love to hear.

In His Grip,

Mary

Spiritual Apathy…

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Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me (John 15:4).

The primary meaning of the word abide is to remain or to maintain a continual presence. The concept of abiding refers to maintaining an intimate, vital connection or relationship.  When it comes to grapevines (the illustration Christ used to represent the Christian’s relationship with Him) the only way that a branch can bear fruit is to maintain a vital relationship with the vine. Once that connection is damaged or broken the branch is no longer useful to the vine. The only way that Christians can bear spiritual fruit is to maintain a vital relationship with Christ. Once that connection to Christ is damaged or broken our usefulness to God is adversely affected.

A damaged relationship can be the result of a number of different issues. The one that immediately comes to mind is sin. Sin left to linger in our lives saps the spiritual vitality of the believer and damages their connection to Christ. Most Christians understand the danger of sin not dealt with, but there are other issues that can destroy our relationship with Christ that we often overlook.

Spiritual apathy is perhaps one of the most ignored “diseases” (keeping with the metaphor of the grapevines) in the Christian life. It’s a condition of the heart. It rarely, if ever, manifests itself in open rebellion. Instead it’s a secret thing, sometimes not even evident to those around us (although often evident to others before we even admit its presence in our lives). Spiritual apathy doesn’t care; it’s an I-can-take-it-or-leave-it attitude toward spiritual things: Bible reading and study, prayer, worship, church, witnessing, our world-view, our mental and emotional filters, relationships, service etc.

The thing about spiritual apathy is that it rarely strikes like a bolt of lightning. Instead it sneaks up on you; it’s a process that you don’t see coming. Few Christians become apathetic overnight – but they do over years. We all know people who at one time were faithful but who over time stopped attending church, reading their bibles, praying, witnessing – in short, stopped living the Christian life in any meaningful way.

Spiritually apathetic Christians rarely admit it, either because they are spiritually blind to their own condition or because of the hardness of their hearts. But make no mistake about it…spiritual apathy will damage your connection to your spiritual vine just as surely as will sin. That’s why it is imperative to abide in Christ. The alternative…is to slowly dry up and become useless to the Kingdom of God.

The question that we need to ask ourselves each day is: What will I do today to abide in Christ? What will I do today to build that vital connection with Him? If we are not actively doing whatever is necessary to abide we will, by default, become one of the damaged branches.

Stay connected.

In His Grip,

Mary

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