Secret Ingredient

The floating “I Love You” heart for our family tradition of 14 days of intentional acts of love has been tucked back in the drawer for another year. We don’t generally celebrate Valentine’s Day with roses, chocolates, wine and an elaborate night out, but we do enjoy being more intentional in the little ways we show our love to each other. Some days the paper heart shows up several times. Other days, it may only get passed once. Some expressions are easy to capture a photo others are not. These designated two weeks are a good reminder to not take love for granted, and to be mindful of ways we can show love every single day. If you want to know more about this tradition, you can read about it here.

The secret ingredient for any lasting relationship is love!

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Love others as Jesus has loved you!

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT

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No Man Can Tame the Tongue

A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Proverb 15:1

Oh to master this truth at a young age!

When I substitute teach, my 20 minute drive allows me time to pray for the students I’ll be spending the day with. I also pray that I will have patience and gentle responses. There are times when a student enters the classroom angry, and my response has a lot to do in setting the tone for the rest of the class.

In the New Testament book of James, we are told “no man can tame the tongue.” If that’s the case, why bother trying?!

Let’s take a closer look. James 3:7-10

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. (NIV)
We should strive daily to control/tame our tongue because human beings/mankind/people have been made in God’s likeness. As Christ Followers, we should reflect God’s character to all. However, too often we fail.
Often on my way home from school, I reflect on my day…Did I remember to speak gently, patiently, calmly? Did my students see Jesus in me? How can I respond differently next time?
Are you trying to tame your tongue? What steps are you taking?
May the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14

Today

Today was a day of devotion, reflection, education, and introspection.

Doesn’t that sound impressive?! If you want to know the details, continue reading.

My days are generally quite scheduled, but today was a rare exception with not one thing penciled on the calendar. I hardly know what to do on such days! I could have cleaned the house, done some laundry, or baked, but I decided to focus on reconnecting with myself, my husband, and friends.

My husband and I like to begin our day with a short Bible reading together. We have just begun a devotional book that focuses on marriage, and each day has discussion questions. Today’s questions had us think back to our dating years, and reflect on how God brought us together. Thirty-eight years ago was fun to revisit!

I was in Arkansas the 4 weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was a pleasure  helping my daughter with childcare (AKA playing with grandsons all day). Oh what fun that was!! However, since then I’ve felt a disconnect with the ladies from church. It just so happens there is a ladies Bible study on Thursday mornings. This was a perfect opportunity to reconnect plus study God’s Word together. Following the study, I had lunch with a close friend at our favorite local coffee shop. Such sweet fellowship was shared!

When I arrived home, the sunshine beckoned me to come out and play. My road is much to muddy for a brisk walk, so to the lake I went.

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The peaceful environment and lack of interruptions and distractions allowed my thoughts to bounce from one topic to another. This hour of walking and contemplating was quite energizing.

My day may sound boring, lazy, or mundane to you, but it was rejuvenating to me. It all boils down to perspective. That is why I saw my day filled with devotion, reflection, education, and introspection.

Teach us to number our days,
    that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12 NIV

 

Saturday Show and Tell – Sourdough

It’s been quite awhile since I last posted a show & tell, therefore that’s how I’ll start this new year!

One of my very favorite things to do in the kitchen is bread baking. Many years ago, I discovered crusty, tangy sourdough bread tickles my taste-buds. That’s right! In fact, just thinking about a warm loaf fresh from the oven has me salivating! Seriously, I do not exaggerate!

My sourdough starter is several years old, and I started it with no store bought yeast. Did you know there is natural occurring yeast in the air around us? I’m no scientist so I really don’t understand how it all works, but to grow a sourdough starter one only needs water, flour, air, and patience.

There seems to be a rising number of people swearing off gluten whether they have a sensitivity to gluten or not. That would never go over well with my husband/wheat farmer/lover of bread. However, I’ve read many reports that bread made with long fermentation is much easier to digest. Why? During a long fermentation, the proteins begin to break down making it much easier to digest. I cannot tell you from personal experience how much difference this really makes since I don’t have any sensitivity to gluten. I will also caution that most store bought sourdough bread has most likely not had a long fermentation.

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To begin my bread making, I retrieve my starter from the refrigerator, feed it, and let it sit on the counter several hours until it gets bubbly. When it has expanded to almost fill my jar, it’s time to make the dough.

When my dough is mixed, then I put in a large covered bowl or jar for the long fermentation. I like to let it sit and do it’s thing over night. These beauties greeted me in the morning!

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It’s time to dump out the dough and make the loaves. I made two different breads. The round loaves are oat and molasses, and the formed loaves are cinnamon spiral.

The loaves need scored to allow a weak area for steam to release during baking otherwise the loaf may crack. As you can see, I used two different scoring techniques.

After scoring, the loaves are covered and allowed to rise until almost double in size. Then it is time to bake.

Sourdough baking is not a fast task. Time and patience makes the best loaves. This is all too similar to one’s maturity. It is through practice and experience, trial and error, faith and devotion that enables one to grow.

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18

 

 

Hint of Light

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At first glance what do you see?

A bare, dark, all alone, ugly tree?

Look again, do you see that hint of light on the horizon? It is just enough light to make the tree pop, giving definition to each gnarly naked branch.

What’s going on in your life right now? Is it filled with joy and excitement for Christmas, or are you under a cloud of dread and gloom? Maybe you are in the midst of a trial that is weighing you down in darkness. Do you feel all alone? I’m told these are very common for many people around the holidays.

Do you think you can let a little bit of light in?

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

Jesus wants to shine light on and through you. Call out to Him! He will light your path and lead you through this time of darkness.