I remember when my youngest son, Jordan Christopher, was three years old he asked a very mature question one afternoon following an impromptu Bible Study. We were discussing the early followers of Christ and how so many of them were martyred. Then we began to talk about Luke, the physician, and how he was with the Apostle Paul on many of his missionary journeys, and that this is how he had the first hand information needed to write Paul’s story. Jordan had been relatively silent throughout our conversation but all of a sudden he had questions. His last question was the one that stuck with me all of these years. My little three-year old was asking more than just who would write our story. We had just finished talking about the amazing lives lived by those who had committed their lives to Christ. We were up to our eyeballs in the historic accounts found in John Foxe’s Book of the Martyrs!! These were real life stories filled with action and adventure, agonizing pain and torture, peace, joy unspeakable….and love never-ending! He was learning, they were all learning about the lives that we are called to as followers of Christ. Not of comfort and materialistic pleasure, but of discomfort and eternal sacrifice. They were learning about the call to follow Jesus…and the cost paid by those who chose to follow him. The men and women who had laid down their lives rather than deny their Lord were ancient heroes to them, alive only on the pages of Scripture and history books…and that day, when he was three years old, Jordan chose to follow them as they had followed Christ! That day, my son chose to take up his cross and walk the way of a Christian. It amazed me that at such a young age he understood what that meant. I am speechless as I look back on that day. I do not remember if the Sun was shining or if it was cold outside. The only thing I remember is the question he asked, and the answer that was given. The Word of God is just that, the Word of God. All of it inspired…breathed by the Holy Spirit. These men and women had lived a life worthy of recording. Not because of their wealth, but because of what they did with it. Not because of their poverty, but because of what they did in spite of it. Not because of their health but in spite of their illnesses. The people they learned about that day, and many days since, were believers whose faith transcended the pages of Holy Scripture and history books and whose love and genuine faith in our Lord had traveled through generations to communicate to four children, one of whom was only three….and he got it that day. By asking the question, “Who’s gonna write our story?”, Jordan was making the statement that his heart was set on living as they did, and even dying as many of them had done. He was affirming that his life was not worth living if it was not worth giving it to the One who had given all for him. I remember one of the verses talked about that day;
Jordan is now 15 years old, and he still pursues the One who has proven to be the answer to the question he asked when he was three. He, as well as his three siblings, have a very different view of what it means to be a follower of Christ than many of their peers seem to. Somewhere during the years of our family reading God’s Word together, and diligently, with the help of the Holy Spirit, their father and I seeking to live out that Word, they grabbed a hold to something real….something True….aomething Authentic! They are not without mistake or fault just as none of us are, but they have a perspective that causes them to draw on the Lord’s strength when they are weak, and to hold tighter to His Word should they fall. The story of their face to face meeting with The Lord is different for each one of them. For Kayla it was in a Sunday School classroom when she was four years old. We were not thoroughly convinced of childhood conversions until we saw the fruit of repentance and the fruit of righteousness in her young life, and we see it still. For Isaiah it was when his big sister sat across the kitchen table with him one day over lunch when she was six and he was five and shared the gospel with him and helped him find his way to the Lord, while mom listened on the other side of the wall. For Leah, it was at a Secret Keeper Girls event that she made her faith known to me and a room full of Princesses….and for Jordan, it was the day he looked at me while sitting on the big blue couch in the family room and asked so sincerely, “Who’s gonna write our story?.” The house is long gone, but that old couch is the same one I am sitting on as I type this. I couldn’t bear to part with it. Not just because of its comfort, but because of its comfort…The pages of Scripture are filled with more than just words…they are filled with life…the Bread of Life…and water…the Living Water…And when served up tp our children for the delicacies that they are they will give them life!!! Since that day I have watched my sons and daughters grow in God’s grace and learn to ‘walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which they have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” This is the hearts desire of every parent who loves the Lord with everything in them; for their children to love him too. If I could offer you some encouragement, READ God’s word with them daily. Discuss the Scriptures as easily as you discuss whats going on in their lives. When they bring situations that they are dealing with to you, take them to the Word of God and see what God says about it. Give them His perspective as they face the sin sick world that awaited them at their birth. Your opinion will change, but His will not. Your views and advice will mature and vary with age and circumstance. His will not. Show them through the Living Word how to live a life worth being written about. Not for their material things, but for their faith without or in spite of those things. Not for their intelligence and book smarts, but for their unalterable faith despite what the genius of men says. Teach them to love God with all their heart, soul and strength….and to live their lives in such a way that the Spirit of the Lord will write their story in His Book.
God Bless You….Selena
My last personally written post on this blog was June 25, 2013. My life was in a state of upheaval. I was grieving on a level I had no idea even existed. My family was safe. We were intact. But we were not OK. And I had a choice. Let go of everything and trust God, or keep trying to hold it all together and ultimately end up losing everything. Multitasking was not working. Neither was pretending everything was fine. I felt helpless…broken hearted…and I could not write one thing. Writing for me had always been like praying. It was my way of pouring my heart out to the Lord on paper, and of seeing for myself what was in there. And during this period of my life I had no words….and for the first time in my life, I did not want any. I could not connect with others, read the latest blog, or even read my own. Reading my own words sounded hollow to me, and made my heart ache even more. I did not want to visit or receive visitors. I went places begrudgingly and did not stay long. We were struggling with something that had taken place right up under our nose…in our home…we had no idea…and we were devastated!!! So, I could not even write a post saying goodbye for a time. I had no warning that I would awake and the lifetime of words that I had taken for granted would be gone. They just left. Exiting stage right. And what remained, standing center stage, spotlight on and nowhere to hide was my heartbeat. And for about seven months it was the only steady reminder that I was alive.
When I sat down today and opened my computer I had no idea if this day would be like any other…like so many others where the words had failed to come…failed to be given…or given and I failed to receive. I brought my hands up to type out something…anything…and this time…the words began to flow. My silence was broken! And not only my mind was screaming this but my heart seemed to be aware also!! I have sat here often over the past nine months. Looking at this computer with no words coursing through my fingertips. I have looked back over blog posts and comments. I have examined myself…my heart for many things, this blog included. I have reevaluated my love and committment to Christ and what He has created me to do. I have witnessed myself taking the easy way out on here and posting recipes and how-to posts instead of the State of Emergency Posts that scream from within. (Nothing is wrong with those posts. I love reading and learning from them. They are just not what he has given me to do.) I have come to realize that it took a state of emergency within my own family to open my eyes to how gracious God really is…and how fleeting time really is. I know I may not be making much sense, but I am simply typing as it comes and praying someone is blessed by this.
I discovered something as my life began to balance out; My crisis was not about me. It was not about my family or my children. It was about Him. It was about you. You see, I was born with words as my gift. The ability to communicate using them…to convey feeling and stir emotions…to paint beautiful works of art that communicate the heart of, while simultaneously speaking to, the spirit and soul of women everywhere…that is my gift. I was hardwired with words within my heart that flowed from my soul. I have been writing since I was nine years old, and I have alway, and I mean alway, taken this gift for granted. I discovered that I have kept it buried much like the unwise steward did in Luke 19:20-26;
“But the third servant brought back only the original amount of money and said, ‘Master, I hid your money and kept it safe. I was afraid because you are a hard man to deal with, taking what isn’t yours and harvesting crops you didn’t plant.’ “‘You wicked servant!’ the king roared. ‘Your own words condemn you. If you knew that I’m a hard man who takes what isn’t mine and harvests crops I didn’t plant, why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’ “Then, turning to the others standing nearby, the king ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one who has ten pounds.’ “‘But, master,’ they said, ‘he already has ten pounds!” “‘Yes,’ the king replied, ‘and to those who use well what they are given, even more will be given. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.”
I rediscovered volumes and volumes, boxes and boxes of things I had written over the years. From poems to stories to study guides…it’s all there…BURIED! Is this making sense to you? It was because I was in a deep dark place in my life that the words dried up, and it was because the words dried up that I had to search for what I had already written, and it was because I searched for what was written and buried through the years that my soul and my spirit were revived upon finding them, and it was because my soul and my spirit were revived that I sat down today and the words that I had taken for granted,buried
and reused to share with the world…returned. But it began with a crisis!!! If God had not allowed it…if he had not allowed me to become stranded in a dark place…if he had not left me there at center stage with the heat of the spotlight on and no relief in sight and only the sound of my own heart beating to let me know that I was alive…If he had never allowed the words that have always been there for comfort in my mind and in my heart to dry up then I would have never searched for them…I would have never searched for Him! And I would not have found Him.
Can I ask you a question? What crisis do you find yourself in today? What pit of despair, what valley, what deep darkness are you experiencing right now? What have you hidden there, in that place??? What treasure has God given to you…what glory has he woven into your DNA…what is the fruit that he intended for your life to bear that you have buried deep within your soul where the only way that you could ever retrieve it is if the Lord allowed you to become stuck there with no way out other than it be revealed to Him???? Whatever your crisis, it is not to kill you. It is to make you more like Him. It is to show you the value the Lord placed on your life before you were even born. This crisis is designed to bring out the best of Him through you.
During the past nine months life has gone on. It seemed to come to a stop longer for me than it did for anyone else in our home. I know that our nightmare is one that has been faced by many throughout the years. We are not the only ones. But in those moments last Summer, I felt like we were. Like I was. Like they were. I want you to know that I am being deliberately vague with the details here. Even if I were to share them, I fear that the sharing of the details could cause some to miss the point that I want to convey. At the same time, deliberate vagueness has been known to lead others to speculate, gossip and/or spread lies. I hope that it leads not one of you to do any of the above. My prayer is that we would all learn to look at our crisis differently…that we would begin to see them for what they really are: The way to becoming more like him.
So no more hiding. No more taking the easy way out. In one of my darkest places I discovered a lifetime of buried gifts…buried words, and I plan to clean them off and put them to good use…lest the words be taken and given to someone else….
I pray someone found encouragement through these words. I will see you soon.
While it has been ages since I have posted here, I could not resist the urging to share this. Let those who have ears to hear…..
Originally posted on The Last Hiker:
Last year the History Channel featured the epic television event, “The Bible Series,” which was produced by Roma Downey and her husband Mark Burnett. This show captivated audiences and became the talk of many churches. Churches even purchased pre-written sermons to go along with the show, which according to outreach.com made it into 180,000 churches.
Roma and Mark were endlessly interviewed in Christian magazines, and on Christian radio. All along saying that they were sold out Christians and believers filled with the Holy Spirit.
And the churches bought it.
They promoted it.
And yet, as I watched “The Bible Series,” I personally became furious at how much they twisted the word of God. Not just omitting things for the sake of time–but changing the theme, the message, and the nature of Bible characters, and the nature of God Himself.
That is unforgivable.
God will judge that.
I was furious.
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Believe it or not, I have struggled with cooking breakfast for years!! My journey to becoming Joyfully Submitted had its share of bumps and bruises, and breakfast was one of them!! I knew how to cook, but I did not find joy in it, and as a result, lacked creativity, as well as the desire to find new things, recipes, techniques and flavors. As long as we ate and it was good, I was great! Delicious was not necessarily a goal of mine, or so I thought. But I found myself becoming disappointed or having my ‘feelings hurt’ when I got less than the highest praise for meals that I had put together without much thought. I put my heart into holiday meals, and meals that would be served to guests…(shaking my head in embarrassment). But my cooking lacked more than mouth-watering flavor! It lacked joy…it lacked heart! Nowhere was this more evident than in the morning…with breakfast. I am truly saddened as I look back and view in retrospect not just the food served, but the heart with which it was served. I was not horrible, I just was not there…my heart was somewhere else for years!!! And if anyone cared to look, it was evident…in my cooking. Oh I could do your basics…eggs and bacon, cereal and toast, oatmeal from scratch (took some practice), and the meals were good. But the really good stuff (in my opinion…in my families opinion) like pancakes and french toast…I always fell short of, well, delicious! They took too much time! They involved too many ingredients!! Who had time??? Time was not the issue, nor was the number of ingredients in the recipes. Who knew that a lack of submission to Christ and his plan for my life…for your life…for our lives…would reveal itself in our approach to meal time…to cooking? The sharing of meals has always been an integral part in the lives of believers since before the church was born. We see our Lord serve the disciples and spend his last night on Earth eating with those closest to him.
“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Matthew 25:26-28
We see that as the church was growing, food and the joyful sharing of meals was an integral part of that growth….
“A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.”Acts 2:43-47
But I had missed this, of course, because for years my silent, secret focus was on myself. I grieved for a long time and silently refused to let go of the life I planned for myself. I thought that if I looked like the submitted wife on the outside God would let me off of punishment and reward me with my dream life!!! My selfishness caused me to totally miss the glaringly obvious reality that I was living my dream life!! And this one came complete with surround sound and high-definition!!! But all was not lost….and breakfast has been rescued! On my journey I have discovered that as my heart was made new, so were my perspectives and the things I found joy in. And cooking everything, even breakfast from scratch, has become a source of great joy! The recipe below is so much more than JUST Vanilla French Toast! It is a symbol of another area in my heart that has been made new as evidence of my submitted heart. It’s not the vanilla that makes this french toast impossible to resist. It’s the depth of love and care and concern and joy that went into preparing it. It’s not looking at the recipe and thinking there are too many ingredients, but now investigating to find new ones that can be added… I pray that you enjoy making this for your family. Relax. Breath in deeply the aroma of the Vanilla and cinnamon blend. Slow down and taste all of the flavors mixing together in your mouth. Then teach your kids to do the same. You see, it was not just my heart that was filled with joy as I prepared this. It was witnessing that joy transfer to my children and my husband when they ate it…my change of heart positively impacted them! And with HUGE smiles they asked for more!
Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Philippians 4:4
This recipe from http://www.allrecipes.com has not only vindicated me in the kitchen, but has served of more evidence of a Joyfully Submitted heart! No longer are my husband and oldest son the only ones who can successfully prepare breakfast foods such as pancakes and french toast from scratch, and have us wanting for more. This recipe, posted in the pic below, is amazing!!! The kids actually had thirds!! Well, the boys did :D. Just between you and me, I made a few modifications the last 2 times I made these. I added another 1/2 tsp of cinnamon as well as 1 tsp nutmeg (which the original recipe did not include). The results were amazing!! The recipe yields 12-18 slices of french toast! Enjoy preparing it!!! Enjoy serving it!!! Enjoy eating it!!!
Today is my 40th Birthday! (Tomorrow by the time you read this) It was not the day I dreamed of. It was not the day I expected or would have planned for myself. It was soooooo much better!!! Let me tell you 10 reasons why :D
1. I am alive and healthy!!!!!
God is so faithful that he allowed me to see today. It is a BLESSING to have been walking this Earth for 40 years. So many were not even born, or have died before reaching this milestone. But I am still here!!! I am ALIVE!
2. My Husband is alive and healthy!!!!
My father died when I was 25 years old :( and I missed him all day! I saw my mother widowed just prior to her 30th wedding anniversary. They were YOUNG!!! It has been 15 years, and everyday I am soooo thankful that my Sweetie is still here with me, but never so much as I am today! As he approaches the age that my father was when he passed (he was only 46 and my Sweetie is 42), I am blessed and highly favored that he is still with me and that his health is good!!!
3. My children are alive and healthy!!!
I have four babies and they are all alive and healthy! I was able to spend the entire day with them, not doing schoolwork and lessons, but celebrating life…my life! God is good…AND he is FAITHFUL!!!
4. I LOVE THE LORD AND AM LOVED BY HIM!!!
In a day and time when so many are lost, where they do not know why they exist or how they came to be, I am sooooo THANKFUL that I was show the way to the Cross and the empty tomb as a young woman!!!! The Joy that I have found in knowing Christ…in being FORGIVEN by the Son of God…in being made a part of the family of God!!!!! …it given me a confidence in Christ that is unshakeable…unbreakable…matchless!!! The love of God fills my senses and my heart and the love for him overflows from within me!!!
5. Our needs are met!!!
The enemy of our souls actually attempted to fill my thoughts with complaints today…with ingratitude!!!! I was awakened with breakfast in bed…made from scratch by my Sweetie and the kids!!! Followed by a family tradition of everyone piling into our bed and presenting made from the heart greeting cards!!!
Each card was filled with a handwritten letter or message. By the time I was done reading them all I was, of course, in tears! Ukali then presented me with his card AND sang me a song <3! My mother in law took me out to lunch, and I returned home for some down time (and a rest from the 85 degree temps outside), before shopping! Shopping was followed by a home cooked meal with my family working together in the kitchen and me sitting and relaxing on the sofa! What was there to be discontented over??? What was there to lament or to be sad over??? I’ll come back to that!
6. That I am free!!!
It was 20 years ago that the Lord hijacked my life and turned it around!!! Maybe hijacked is a strong visual, but that’s how it felt! I prayed years before and I told the Lord that I was giving my life over to him! But I did not think He would take that literally!!! But He did….and I. AM. THANKFUL!!!! You see, he rescued me from me!! And today I.AM.FREE!!!!! Free from the prison of feminist ideology!!! Free to serve God and man from a heart filled with compassion and the love of Christ!!! Free to love my husband and to submit to his authority without fear!! Free to commit these years of my life to the rearing of my children and FREE to work hard diligently to draw their hearts to Christ!! Free to live and love without fear of what others think!! I.AM.FREE.
7. I am finally a grown up!!!
I can’t explain it, but I FEEL like an adult!! I feel mature and grown up in my thinking and my emotions and attitude. People asked all day if I felt different when I woke up this morning…and my response was ‘NO’. But I do feel different, it’s just did not happen this morning! It has been gradually happening over the last few months and I am just able to put it into words :-P. Today, I looked into the mirror, and thought to myself that I do not FEEL 40 (whatever that feels like), but I feel grown-up! I feel confident…and secure…and focused…ALL AT ONCE!
8. I FEEL loved!!!
My husband has loved me and complimented me and told me that I am beautiful for years..20 to be exact! I even remember one day, before we were married, that my dad was watching the Jerry Springer show and Ukali was visiting me. He overheard a portion of the show, which was about husbands threatening to leave their wives because they had gained weight after having one or more kids, and had not lost the weight! Ukali was horrified and came into the kitchen of my parents home to pledge his love and support of me no matter how my appearance changed over the years!!! He has stood by his promise… through 3 pregnancies, bedrest, bad hair, horrible rash outbreaks due to an unknown allergic reaction, bad breath, extended periods w/o physical intimacy during pregnancies, fake hair, colored hair, cut hair….THROUGH ALL OF IT I.HAVE.BEEN.LOVED!!! and I am just recently able to genuinely believe and receive it FULLY!!!!! And to rest in it…and I am sooo thankful!
9. I can do ALL things through Chris who gives me strength!!!
Really…I can! I can love. I can write. I can encourage. I can walk with young women and disciple them. I can submit to my husband in love and humility. I can educate my children. I can love God with all my heart, all my soul and all my mind!!!! I.CAN!!!
Maintaining this blog for a year and a half has worked to dispel the lie of the enemy that has told me that I am a quitter…a failure…a captive to fear! Looking back has worked to help me to look forward!!! Not only am I following through with this blog, I am wrapping up several writing projects and they will be published this year!! Praise God!!! Gone are the fears of a 9-year-old little girl who received rejection letters from publishing companies that served to crush her spirit and paralyze her. 31 years have gone by since then…those companies have probably been shit down or bought out by now! :D
Well, that’s it for now!! Of course there is more, but I am going to enjoy the last few minutes of my birthday with my Sweetie! Soon, I will tell you how my 40th birthday was almost ruined by …well, I will tell you that later! Let me just say that I thank God for perspective!!! TTYL
Ok, So I am taking a break from finishing my book in order to relax a little bit and catch you guys up on some goings on around here :D Today’s post will share a little bit about my first time canning apple pie filling!!! Let me just say that we (the girls and I) had a blast, and I am soooo glad they were here to help me. I was a little overwhelmed, but after completing this, we looked back and realized how simple it really was!! So, I hope you enjoy this look at the lighter side of things, and if you EVER wanted to do things like this, DO NOT WAIT!!! Tomorrow is NOT promised!!
We had quite a few apples that were getting pretty ripe in our refrigerator, so I said, “Why not?” I very rarely totally plan ahead…meaning I may have a thought that I want to do something on a certain day, but it’s not until that day comes that I decide whether or not I will…and sometimes that depends on if I even remember that I wanted to do it!!! Why did I share that? To give you hope!!!! I have wanted to can things for YEARS, but was always soooooo overwhelmed and felt like I had to be this EXTREMELY organized person to do it!!! I have realized that I don’t necessarily have to be organized, but I do have to have the basic tools on hand in case the urge hits me :D Anyway….here’s the Apple Pie Filling Recipe & Instructions for canning!
GATHER YOUR CANNING SUPPLIES
Water bath canner (or LARGE stock pot with lid)
Canning seals and rings (lids)
(ALL OF THE ABOVE WERE PURCHASED AT WALMART FOR VERY REASONABLE PRICES)
Large pot or blancher
Towels and dishcloths (it gets messy/to dry jars)
Apples (enough for 6-8 quarts)
1C Thickener (cornstarch, flour or clear gel)
3T lemon juice
THE INSTRUCTIONS FOR HOW TO MAKE WILL BE FOUND IN THE CAPTION FOR THE PHOTOGRAPHS :D
AT THIS POINT LET ME POINT OUT THAT I HAVE JARS THAT ARE FILLED WITH BOILED WATER WAITING, AS WELL AS A BOWL OF BOILED WATER WITH THE SEALS AND RINGS SITTING IN THEM WAITING. EACH JAR WILL BE EMPTIED OF THE WATER INDIVIDUALLY AND PROMPTLY FILLED WITH APPLES AS THEY ARE READY.
THE RIMS OF EACH JAR ARE WIPED CLEAN BEFORE THE LIDS ARE REMOVED FROM THE HOT WATER, DRIED AND PUT IN PLACE :D
STORE IN A COOL PLACE! USE WHEN YOU WISH AS YOU WISH!! ENJOY :D