July 6, 2020 – Pie

Do you have a favorite flavor of pie?

My mother-in-law bakes an awesome pumpkin pie and my sister-in-law Vickie’s sister-in-law Lori makes a fabulous apple pie that my daughter Kelly has mastered. My specialty is King’s Pie. My oldest son named it after I served it to our family over 20 years ago. Click here for the King’s Pie Recipe (a/k/a Red, White, Blueberry Pie from the Pampered Chef website). My spin on the recipe: I changed the pudding from white chocolate to cheese cake flavor and added raspberries.

Photo from Pampered Chef website

I made these two pies for our weekend with our Chicago family. Oh. My. Goodness. And. Let’s. Not. Discuss. The. Calories.

Another favorite is Texas Trash Pie…chocolate chips, Carmel, pretzel bits, coconut, condensed milk…need I go further? I met the energetic, colorful Texas Trash pie-maker Tara Royer Steele and her husband Rick at Royer’s Restaurant and Royer’s Pie Haven in February 2018 along with Tara’s brother Jonathan Royer and his wife Jamie – they are the most hospitable and generous people you’ll ever meet. The food at Royer’s Restaurant is incredible – huge portions and so tasty.

Tara recently published a beautiful book filled with delicious recipes, delightful artwork and 52 soul-filling devotionals. Click here to order your copy of Eat. Pie. Love. If you love pies and want to know Jesus in a more intimate way, use her daily devotionals and make a pie or two. You won’t regret it. If you don’t want to bake, order her pies online and have them shipped to you.

AND – if you get a chance to go to Round Top, Texas, be sure to say “hi” to the Royers and the Steeles for me. While you are in the area, check out the Junk Gypsy Company (so awesome) and consider staying at the Round Top Inn. Austin is only 90 minutes from Round Top and Waco is a little over 2 hours away.

I love spotlighting people who are bringing goodness and joy to our world. We surely need it. I am so proud of Tara’s accomplishment and her book encourages me to get more serious about publishing mine. Go, Tara, Go!

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.” Hebrews 10:24 NLT.

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” Hebrews 10:24 NIV

May we spur each other on. May we be encouragers. May we be motivators. May we be the voice of cheer someone needs to hear today.

Cheering you on!

Inspire – June 29, 2020 – Justice

Is social justice on your radar?

People are fighting for justice on many platforms – Fair Immigration, Black Lives Matter, LBGTQ, Blue Lives Matter, Racial Equality, Reproductive Rights, NOW, Fight for $15, Climate Control, Marijuana Reform, Gay Marriage, etc. Individuals are rallying their troops to get their cause in the spotlight. People are speaking out to educate others as to the injustices affecting them. Young and old are protesting – some peacefully, some not. There are hundreds of organizations seeking to bring change to our country and our world. Organization desiring justice to prevail.

The fight for social justice is not new. One of my favorite stories in the Old Testament is about Queen Esther. She risked her life by approaching her husband, the King of Persia, seeking justice for her people. Her story is recorded in the Old Testament book named after her.

Bryan Stevenson’s book and subsequent movie Just Mercy gives a glimpse into those working to correct injustices done to innocent black people and to illicit prison reform. I recommend reading his book and watching the movie. You won’t be sorry. His organization The Equal Justice Initiative provides legal counsel to those unfairly and wrongly imprisoned.

Jill McElya founder of The Invisible Girl Project is working to stop injustices against baby girls in India. Injustices that are unbearable to even speak of. Check out their website for more information.

Annie Lobert founded Hookers for Jesus to rescue those caught in injustices of the sex trafficking business. HFJ seeks to restore life and to give hope to girls and women.

Dr. Jo Anne Lyon founded World Hope International in 1996 to work in underserved countries around the world. According to their website, World Hope International (WHI) is a Christian relief and development organization working with vulnerable and exploited communities to alleviate poverty, suffering, and injustice.

International Justice Mission has been successfully rescuing young boys from Lake Volta in Africa and bringing their perpetrators to justice. They have also rescued young girls from sex trafficking. Their mission is to “end slavery in our lifetime”.

If you begin to lose hope and think no one is doing anything about righting injustices, consider these organizations as well as myriads of other individuals, groups, churches, businesses and corporations who are pouring their blood, sweat, tears, finances, resources, talents and prayers into changing our world for the better.

The mug pictured above was a gift from a friend. Some of the graphic has worn off due to the fact it is one of my favorite mugs and used frequently. The words speak to my heart. I don’t want to stand before my Savior ashamed that I didn’t do my part in righting the injustices God has opened my eyes to. I support the organizations mentioned above. I pray they can do what I cannot.

Let those who love the LORD hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked. Light shines on the righteous and joy on the upright in heart. Psalm 97:10-11

He will judge the world in righteousness and the people with equity. Psalm 98:9b

The King is mighty, he loves justice – you have established equity; Psalm 99:4a

The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. Psalm 103:6

For he stands at the right hand of the needy, to save their lives from those who would condemn them. Palms 109:31

May we be the hands and feet of Jesus. May we be people of justice. May we rise up and speak up against injustice. May we love like Jesus loves. Everyone.

Cheering you on!

Inspire – June 15, 2020 – Trim

What have you trimmed lately?

My husband trimmed our wisteria on Saturday. It has to be trimmed to keep it from getting wild and out of control. Yesterday he trimmed a tree limb in our front yard. It was a huge partially dead limb that had been broken during a gust of wind.

I trimmed some of my houseplants that had grown like crazy while we were in Arizona. They look so much better.

Last night I trimmed my husband’s hair. I like to cut it short so I don’t have to trim it so often. He won’t have it professionally cut – “look at the money we save” – true, but it would be easier to have someone other than me trim it.

I’ve been trimming my nails since the COVID pandemic shut down began and will continue until I go back to the nail salon.

We have trimmed out extra activities – dining in restaurants (we have done take-out), movie theaters, in-store shopping, hotel stays, ball games (hey, there haven’t been any games anyway), in-person business meetings, etc. Some of the trimming has been hard. Some of the trimming has been painful. Some of the trimming has been good. We’ve trimmed out the unnecessary and pared down to the essential. The constant running from this place to that – meeting after meeting – appointment after appointment – full calendars – busy evenings – all of that has stopped. Life has been slower and less complicated. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve missed my family and friends that I couldn’t “quaranteam” with these past few months. But honestly, our life in Arizona during the shut down was simpler and less stressful. We stayed in our little 972 sq. ft. condo. We had very few possessions to worry about – less to clean – less to maintain. It was refreshing to not be bogged down with so much stuff.

We are back home again in Indiana – sounds like a song waiting to burst out! I look around at our material possessions and want to turn around and go back. I know that sounds crazy but trimming is so freeing. Phil and I are working on reducing our possessions. It may take time to trim out the unnecessary and the excess but we are determined to do so.

We also want God to trim out the things in our hearts and minds that bog us down. Unforgiveness, bad attitudes, negativity, criticalness, envy, jealousy, anger, impatience. We want to be free and only God can trim out the ugliness in us. How about you? Is there something God needs to trim out of your thoughts, your actions, your life? Please join us on this journey to trim out the unnecessary, the excess, the burdens, anything that keeps us from being free in Christ.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” John 15:1-2

May God have the freedom to trim whatever needs to be trimmed. Amen.

Cheering you on! (And it’s my sister’s birthday today. Happy birthday, Karen! I love you.)

Inspire – June 8, 2020 – Days

How many days are left in your life?

I was reading Psalm 90 a few days ago and that question crossed my mind. How many days do I have left? 100? 500? 1000? 3650? 7200? 10,500? Only God knows that answer. According to the SimplyInsurance website, a white North American woman like me has an average life span of 81.4 years or 29,711 days. Since I am 66 years old, I have approximately 15.4 more years or 5,621 more days. How will I spend or use my days?

Consider the prayer of Moses in Psalm 90:12, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Moses, the man of God, was fully aware of his days being numbered and his need to gain a heart of wisdom. Interesting – a heart of wisdom. Is a heart of wisdom different from a head of wisdom? It must be or Moses wouldn’t have said it. You can have a full head of knowledge but until that knowledge penetrates the heart, does it really matter?

I don’t know how many days I have left, but I know I want them to count. To count for my family. To count for my friends. To count for my church. To count for good and not evil. And most of all to count for God’s kingdom. What a shame it would be to live another 15-20 years without making a difference in the world for good and for God. I want my days to have meaning. I want a heart of knowledge.

What are you doing with your remaining days? Are you merely sliding by or are you seeking a heart of wisdom? Are you making difference in your sphere of influence? (Yes, everyone has a sphere of influence – you don’t have to be rich or famous to be influential). Let’s follow Moses lead and seek a heart of knowledge so that our remaining days are filled with purpose and meaning. Let’s do our part to make our little corner of the world better than the way we found it.

May our days be blessed with many meaningful moments God has for us. May we live so that no day is wasted. May we love others the way Jesus loves them. May we make our days count and not just count our days.

Cheering you on!

Inspire – June 1, 2020 – Current

Have you ever floated down a river?

Phil and I tubed down the Salt River with our daughter, son-in-law and their three kids two weeks ago. It was so much fun and so relaxing – well, for the most part. But I’ll get to that.

We bought a waterproof box (for our phones, keys, etc.), a small cooler and river tubes. We took two extra tubes for coolers, the dry bag, etc. which was a really good thing. Yep, I’ll get to that soon.

Two vehicles were needed in order to leave one at the exit point and the other at the entry. Pebble Beach Recreation Area is where we put in. We inflated our nine tubes and made our way to the river. The water was chilly but our bodies quickly adjusted in the sun and high temps. We tied most of our tubes together and lazily floated for about an hour. We saw clusters of wild horses lapping water at the river’s edge. Gorgeous rock formations, mountains and lush greenery were our backdrop. Not much energy was required with the river’s current gently carrying us along. And then…

Approaching an area of dead trees, brush, etc., we needed to avoid being pulled in. At this point I was tied up with Kelly, London and one of the cooler tubes. I didn’t work hard enough (actually I didn’t do much of anything) and we ended up in the dead trees. One of the tree limbs punctured my brand new river tube leaving a gaping 2″ hole. My tube quickly deflated. I held on to the punctured area as tightly as I could to keep it from going completely flat but it was a losing battle. I laughed while yelling, “I can’t swim” and my daughter began to scold me for not being able to swim and not wearing a life jacket. Even though most of the river is about 2-3 feet deep, I couldn’t touch the bottom where this happened. I can swim but tend to panic when I can’t see or touch the bottom. I probably should have worn a life jacket. Kelly, London and Trey moved the things from the cooler tube so I could use it. With the help of my teenage grandson Trey and a huge amount struggle – I really, really struggled – I eventually flopped into the tube. Let’s just say it wasn’t a pretty sight. I thank Trey for coming to my rescue.

After that stretch of excitement, my daughter didn’t want to tie up with me. She wasn’t thrilled about the possibility of another dangerous situation with her life-vest-less, poor-swimming-skills momma. I honestly couldn’t blame her.

I saw the danger in advance. I didn’t do enough to avoid it. I allowed the river to carry me into the branches. I lost my new tube. I had to rely on the help of my family. I caused a lot of trouble. My ego was bruised but fortunately, no lives were lost. It could have ended tragically so I thank God for protecting this foolish 66 year old. The rest of the afternoon float was peaceful and drama-free.

On the drive home, I thought about what had happened. Life is very much like my river tube experience. We float through life – allowing the current to take us wherever it desires – without considering the danger or problems. We get stuck in the thicket at times. We can become deflated because of our bad choices. Sometimes, we allow others to shipwreck us as we follow their current. We have to lean on others to rescue us or to pull us out because of our stupidity or reckless decisions.

The current is strong. We can be easily pulled this way or that. We have to be careful about who we connect with and prepare our decisions in advance. If we don’t we can be caught up in the dangerous current – carried along with those who make unwise decisions – often leading to damage or destruction. Sheesh. It’s embarrassing to admit my failure but it is a good life lesson and can be used to warn others.

May we work to avoid the undertow, pitfalls and dangers. May we allow God’s current to lead us. May we lean on him for our rescue. May we trust him to hold us up through the whirlpools and raging waters. And may we relax in him through the peaceful floats. May we ask him to be our lifesaver – even before the punctures.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Cheering you on!

Inspire – May 25, 2020 – Marathons

Have you ever run a marathon?

I wish I could say I have but I haven’t.

In 2007, we cheered our son-in-law Jon Bohm as he ran the Cape Cod Marathon. We also cheered our daughter-in-law Abby Troyer as she ran the Chicago Marathon in 2018 but we missed her completing the Phoenix Marathon in January 2020. Matt and Natalie Troyer, my son and daughter-in-law, ran an interesting self-organized marathon in Indianapolis. Matt (pictured below – I stole his pic from his Facebook page) completed a 50K this past weekend. I’ll share more about that in a second.

A marathon is 26.2 miles. According to the VeryWellFit site, in 2019 the average male finished it in 4 hours and 30 minutes. The average female finished in 4 hours and 56 minutes. A 50K is 31.06 miles. The average female runs it in 6 hours 49 minutes and the average male in 6 hours 13 minutes according to UltraRunning Magazine. 26.2 or 31.06 – either race would take me at least two or three days.

Many marathon/ultra runners have a support group. People to challenge and encourage them during training – people to cheer them on along the way – someone to hand out an energy bar or drink. Family or friends to hold discarded hoodies, hats or gloves.

Matt and Natalie did a tag team marathon on May 9th (Matt’s 38th birthday). Each one ran for a few miles and then switched off. Our son and daughter-in-law Eric and Abby Troyer and two other friends also ran in the relay marathon. Sometimes the women ran together and the guys ran together for a change of pace. They said it was fun and not so hard while switching out every 10-12 minutes. They cooked meat on the grill and took beverage breaks in between running shifts. Although it took several hours more than a “normal” marathon – they finished the task and achieved their goal.

When Jon ran the Cape Cod marathon, he began to lose steam at mile twenty so Eric rolled up his jeans and ran with him for the final 6.2 miles.  Eric encouraged Jon through the tough stretch and stepped aside allowing Jon to cross the finish line alone.  Our group was in tears – tears of joy and pride.  It was a monumental moment for everyone.   

Aren’t our lives similar to a marathon?   We “train” during the easy times, the lonely valleys, the almost-unbearable stretches.  We live and die alone but we don’t have to live and die alone.  We need encouragers to help us along the way.  Our cheering squad.  Our people.   Those who believe in us and love us no matter how weird or strange we might be.  

Friends, we will make it to the end of our marathon because there is no other option.  What our marathon looks like – how we choose to run it – how we decide to live until we die – is for the most part up to us.    

..and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us… Hebrews 12:1b

May God speak His truth into our hearts, souls and minds.  May we choose to live.  Really live.  May we run our marathons well.  With God’s help, may we encourage others to run their marathons – fully living until they cross the final finish line.  Let’s choose to live until we die.  

Cheering you on!

 

Inspire – May 18, 2020 – Shower

Have you ever showered outdoors?

I never understood my daughter and son-in-law’s fascination with an outdoor shower until I tried it. Twice.

The first time was while vacationing with my girlfriends on St. Simon’s Island. Our hostess-friend’s beautiful home developed plumbing issues due to tree roots that had infiltrated the pipes. Let’s just say seven type-A mama bears came up with creative ideas to take care of bodily needs. I’ll spare you our toilet solutions. One afternoon we showered at a nearby beach facility in front of God and his creation. We laughed so hard that we cried as people watched in disbelief while walking by the outdoor showers. Do you know how hard it is to wash your hair while laughing uncontrollably and trying to hold the shower button? Understand, please, the outdoor showers were for rinsing off sand before leaving the beach. So using shampoo and conditioner and taking care of cleanliness business was not the ordinary.

My second outdoor shower experience was this past week at my daughter and son-in-law’s Litchfield Park AZ home. Phil and I were asked to dog sit for a few days so we jumped at the chance to stay in their home. Kelly suggested we try the outdoor shower on past dog/kid sitting weeks but we never did. I took the plunge this time – and – oh – my – goodness – it was unbelievable – refreshing and exhilarating. I could hear nearby golfers and birds chirping. Looking up, I could see the gorgeous blue sky. I messaged my daughter to inform her we would not be leaving. We were claiming squatters rights and they would need to find a new home. She didn’t respond. She didn’t believe me.

Yes, outdoor showering is delightful. Of course, my second experience was more enjoyable – mostly because no one else was watching and I didn’t have to hold the button to keep the tepid water flowing. Taking in the outdoor sounds, the coolness of the air, the warmth of hot water – ahhh – it was a spiritual experience. The water washed away the sweat and dirt of the day – my skin felt cleansed and my mind felt renewed. I couldn’t help but think how Jesus does the same for us. He washes away our sin and shame and leaves us clean and whole. His cleansing power exceeds anything and everything. No outdoor shower or indoor spa can make us cleaner.

Our sins are washed away and we are made clean because Christ gave His own body as a gift to God. He did this once for all time. Hebrews 10:10

Thank you, Father, for the experience of outdoor showers. Thank you for sending your son, Jesus, for the ultimate in cleansing. You are a good, good Father. I do not take for granted what your Son has done for us. I am blessed. I am grateful.

May we find the cleansing that only Jesus gives.

Cheering you on!

Inspire – May 11, 2020 – Fear

Are you struggling with fear?

I remember covering my eyes when I was younger while watching the creepy Flying Monkeys during the Wizard of Oz. I knew what was going to happen and I wanted to watch but I was afraid they might get me. I don’t know what I thought covering my eyes would do to protect me. But I did it.

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on our world. People are fearful. The media incites – almost invites – fear. Fear has infiltrated our homes, our neighborhoods, our churches, our businesses, our thoughts, our lives. Fear is a liar and a thief.

According to an article from the University of Minnesota: “Fear can weaken our immune system and cause cardiovascular damage, gastrointestinal problems like ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome, and decreased fertility. It can lead to accelerated aging and even premature death. Fear is a human emotion that is triggered by a perceived threat. It is a basic survival mechanism that signals our bodies to respond to danger with a fight or flight response. As such, it is an essential part of keeping us safe. However, when people live in constant fear, whether from physical dangers in their environment or threats they perceive, they can become incapacitated.”

Sheesh. Fear can do a great deal of damage. But do you know what I have learned? God’s word is a weapon to combat fear. Believe me, it’s taken years to get to this point. Fear is a tactic. It is our enemy’s sneakiest way to paralyze us.

Here’s what God’s Word has to say about fear.

Isaiah 35:4 …say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.”

John 14:27 – the very words of Jesus: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Matthew 6:34 – Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

2 Timothy 1:7 – For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

Isaiah 41:13 – For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

My friends, we might experience moments of fear but we do not have to live in fear. Let me say it again. We might experience moments of fear but we do not have to live in fear. To counteract any fear you are experiencing, go to God’s Word rather than listening to the news. The news reports what is sensational. To defeat fear our mantra must be – I am a child of God. I will not fear. “Even though I walk through the darkest valley I will fear no evil, for YOU are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4)

May we live life to the fullest and not fall victim to fear. Let’s live like we believe the words of Jesus: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Cheering you on!

Inspire – May 4, 2020 – Church

How do you define church?

Most of us, would say church is a place where we go. A building. A specific location with an physical address. A space with chairs, speakers, tables, kids’ ministry areas. A certain day of the week. A set time.

We’ve evolved from the early church days of meeting in homes, haven’t we? Our buildings, performance music, creative arts, committees, sub-committees, electronic information, video presentations, etc. have come a long way since “church” during Jesus’ time. Not that any of these things are bad, they just weren’t part of the initial body of believers.

Ekklesia is the Greek word used to describe the community of Jesus’ believers. It means “assembly” or “congregation”. The early church met in homes. Small groups of believers shared their lives, their belongings. They ate meals together, sang songs, prayed and discussed Jesus’ teachings.

Jesus called Peter “this rock” – “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Matthew 16:18. Jesus chose Peter. He said He would build His church on Peter. A person. I’m not a Biblical scholar but it appears to me that Jesus intended people to be His church – not a building.

I miss my church family. I miss meeting together in our building. But as long as I have breath, as long as other believers have breath – the church is alive and growing. We are the church. We are to be Jesus’ hands and feet to those around us. We are the church whether we meet in a building or not.

I’m grateful for my home church. I miss my people. Pastor Aaron, Pastor Stephanie and the worship team have worked hard to bring us together virtually on Sunday mornings. The after-church Zoom meetings have been a source of laughter, discussion of the message and a time for sharing concerns. I thank God for tech people like Joey Griner and all who make these online events possible.

Church gatherings have changed and will continue to change so let’s use this “reset” time of COVID-19 to reframe our thoughts about church.

May we be the church whether we meet in person or virtually or in small home groups. May God grow His church in creative ways through each of us. May we say with confidence – the church of Jesus Christ is alive and well and is a force to be reckoned with – for God and for good! We are the church.

Cheering you on!

Inspire – April 27, 2020 – Nourish

How are you nourishing your soul?

I have worked for my husband since 1989. We work together. We live together. We are used to being together – a lot. We have worked through many issues due to that amount and intensity of 24/7 togetherness. Please, don’t misunderstand or get me wrong – I love my husband. We love to travel, serve in Guatemala, ride bikes, vacation and spend time with our family, hang out with friends, and play games – okay, that one isn’t true. Ha! I’m the one who likes to play games. My husband is my best friend. I can count on him with my life but…

I can’t depend or rely on him solely to nourish my soul. That would be unrealistic and unfair to him. So, with everyone hunkering down with their quaran-teams, intentionality is necessary to nourish the soul. I would love to hear how you are nourishing your soul.

Here are a few things I’ve been doing this last month to nourish mine:

  1. A group Fort Wayne women meet online weekly for a Bible study by Lysa TerKeurst called Trustworthy.

2. A weekly online discussion group after viewing Jennie Allen’s Made for This IF:TV sessions. The four sessions have included interviews with Andy Crouch, Bob Goff, Jill Briscoe, Annie F. Downs and Ellie Holcomb. It is free and so good. https://tv.ifgathering.com

3. Weekly online meetings with Ball State friends, a few high school friends and two different church friends. If you don’t already know, I need time with girlfriends. I am an Enneagram 7 and I crave people and parties.

4. Weekly Zoom Bible story sessions with our grandkids.

5. IF:Table Go to Meeting with Cultivate Church’s she group.

6. Audible books: Chasing Vines by Beth Moore, Imperfect Courage by Jessica Honeggar.

7. Bike rides around our little community in Litchfield Park, AZ. Getting outdoors nourishes my soul and helps me stay sane – okay, no wise cracks, y’all.

Circumstances and situations can suck the life out of us. Isolation and fear can paralyze us. The enemy wants us to starve and destroy us. We have to work at nourishing our souls. We cannot depend on any thing or human to do it for us. God can use people and things to help but it is only through Him – His Word – we are truly nourished. Our life-changing, life-giving nourishment has to come from God.

But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4

Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. Proverbs 3:7-8

May we stick close to our Heavenly Father. May we find our nourishment in Him. May we points others to that nourishment.

Cheering you on!