Sweet Treats and Friendship

Hello friends!

I’ve been featured at the Perennial Generation blog! I am so excited and would love for you to head over and read the article and let me know your thoughts on what a difference food can make as you reach out to be hospitable to those around you.

Friendship Starts With A (Gluten-Free) Cookie

Perennial Generation is a great website for those of us who find ourselves caught in between aging parents and adult children while we manage our own changing lives. If this is you, join me and let me know if you try out the recipe.

Until next time,

Blessings and best wishes,

Date Night and Christmas Lights

The Hubs and I are best friends. I love that man of mine. And he loves me. We trust and love each other and truly enjoy spending time together

After almost 3 decades of marriage we tend to know each other pretty well. However, that doesn’t give us the right to take each other for granted.

Nope. Just the opposite. We have to be diligent in making time for one another and making each other count.

So when I got home from work today The Hubs announced that we needed to go see the Christmas lights downtown.

Now normally I don’t think Christmas lights go up quite so early in the season but this is the first year a Winterfest and Holiday Art Walk is happening so decorations are going up a tad early.

Yay! We love it!

In fact, generally speaking I start playing Christmas music before Halloween. Besides, who doesn’t love a little Michael Buble playing in the background?

Taboo, right?

I know. It’s ok. I’ll admit that I am that person.  But only to a small degree.

No I don’t have my Christmas shopping done. That’s usually completed by Christmas eve. Ugh! Late wrapping. The worst!

We don’t put up our Christmas tree and decorations until after Thanksgiving.

So really the only thing that sets my heart a flutter are Christmas lights. Specifically blue Christmas lights and white snowflakes. It’s my favorite combination. 

So when The Hubs saw that they were hanging just that color combination on all the trees downtown, he knew, because he knows me so well, that I’d want to go see.

He was right.

So after dinner we bundled up, grabbed the puppies and headed down to see the lights.

You see, here’s the truth. Being married takes work. Lots of it. You have to really intentionally invest in each other continually.  It matters. All those little acts of thoughtfulness and love, it matters. 

Those small acts of love add up and help build a marriage, keep it strong and growing because that spouse of yours is showing that they know you so well, and they love you so much, they want you to be happy.

Even when its something as simple as blue Christmas lights and white snowflakes. 

Let me encourage you today. What is it about the upcoming holiday season that makes your spouse’s heart skip a beat? Is it going to see a local theater’s version of the Nutcracker? Is it grabbing a hot chocolate and walking through a holiday craft show? Or maybe its heading up into the mountains, just the two of you and having a snowball fight? 

Give it some thought and then act on it. Make your marriage a priority. Show your spouse that you love them dearly and that they are the most important person on this planet to you.

Your marriage will benefit, flourish and grow. And who knows maybe you’ll create new holiday memories together.

Happy Holidays!

Blessings & best wishes,

Step Into The Valley Unafraid

During my prayer time today God led me to Ezekial 37, The Valley of Dry Bones.  Today, I believe God wanted to remind me that I am always walking in the Valley of Dry Bones.

We all are.

In every area of lives there are those who desperately need to hear the word of God.

I’m one of them.

Every day I need the refreshment of God’s promises of love, the reassurance He’ll never leave my side, that He’s right there in the thick of things in my  life and He’ll never, ever let me go.

I am a sinner. Plain and simple. I need Christ more today than I ever have. 

Each day brings forth its own set of challenges. Things that I cannot handle on my own. I have aging parents that live 1500 miles away and I’m helpless to meet their needs.

I have grown children who make decisions that make my stomach clench in knots and cause sleepless nights, soul exhaustion and plenty of gray hair!

I am surrounded by those who openly oppose the Lord and challenge me each time they see the cross I wear around my neck. It’s draining.

And yet, I truly believe that I am right where the good Lord wants me.

What about you? Do you feel so alone you might as well be in the Mojave Desert with the hot winds of isolation, the heat of fear pounding down, sapping every ounce of strength, leaving behind exhaustion and thirst for a better tomorrow?

Maybe you are so broken, tears no longer fall.

Friend – God is with you. He loves you.

Do you believe that truth?

God asks Ezekial, “Son of man, can these bones live?”  Ezekial answers, “O Sovereign Lord, only You know.”

Let me ask you, “Do you believe God can breathe life back into you?”

Lord only You know.

It’s not a matter of if,  it’s a matter of will He?

There are people, places, things in our lives that God may not revive or restore to us. Such as a toxic abusive relationship. Or maybe a great job was taken from you due to a company restructuring and the timing couldn’t be worse because your rent went up $200,  your child fell at school and busted his front teeth and needs $1000 worth of dental work and your car needs a new battery. Or what if your baby girl just lost her battle with leukemia, the funeral is set for Saturday and you don’t have the will to get out of bed or to run a comb through your hair because the pain is so deep, so raw, you can’t breathe.

Is God in those moments? Can God take our broken, dry bones and breathe life back into them again?

Only God knows if those barren places are where He will choose to open the gates of living, refreshing water of life.

Do you trust Him to do so? Or maybe an even bigger question is, do you trust Him not to? Neither answer is easy and yet, either way, trust is involved. I want to encourage you to step out of your pain, your fear, your worry and let God be God in your life.

Trust your heart to the Lord and then ask Him to keep His promises over you, to heal and protect you and to breathe the His holy healing breath over your life. It’s ok to ask. It’s ok to accept. It’s ok to be loved by the Father.

My prayer for you is that you would indeed call out to God and allow Him the opportunity to show His love for you.

You Are Loved By God!

Your friend in Christ Jesus,

Amy

Impossible Places – A Mighty God

I left for work on Wednesday morning knowing all I had to do was to get through the next 9 hours. Then I could finally take a long weekend off.

I was more than ready.

I shoved aside my exhaustion and kicked myself back into survival mode.

Maybe you know what that’s like. Going through the motions, no joy, no hope, with nothing more to give and the only way you’re making it through the day is by digging deep in your soul, slapping on a smile and counting the seconds until work is over and you can slump into the seat of your car so you can make your way home just to fall into bed.

Exhausted.

That was 1000% me Wednesday morning.

When my eyes popped open the next day I breathed in slowly. A bit hesitant to get excited about the upcoming time off.

With everyone still asleep in the house I pulled on my windbreaker and tennis shoes, leashed up my 2 pups and headed out for an early morning walk. Just me, God, my exhaustion and my 2 dogs.

As I walked, the realization that I had nowhere to go, no one to see and all the time in the day to do nothing began to seep into my soul. My normal break neck speed slowed. My mind began to accept I was truly on a hiatus and it was ok to let go of work, life and heartaches that had been building up.

Without warning my internal dialogue with the Lord shifted from frustrations and anger about my life, to, “Hey wait a minute, the trees are changing colors. It’s fall. I love fall. I don’t want to miss this, slow down and enjoy.”

I did.

With each step I took, I began to see and feel life.

Cool fall air filled my lungs and pulled the few wisps of hair I’d tucked behind my ears out from underneath my ballcap and tossed them to and fro across my cheeks.

I smiled.

This was my favorite time of year and I wasn’t missing it.

As I focused on the brilliant fall colors intermixed with the last green leaves of summer I tripped and almost face-planted on the sidewalk. When I looked to see what caught my foot I noticed a tree root system squeezed ever so tightly in between the cracks of the sidewalk, bursting forth and making itself known.

Impossible situations can lead to growth

It struck me then that the root was like my life at the moment. Despite the hardships, struggles, pain and pressures I was experiencing in my life, God in His infinite wisdom and love was providing a way for me to get through the tough times and still grow.

I needed to trip over that root and be reminded that God sees beneath the hard stuff of my life. He knows what takes us to our knees in heartache and He will use to create beauty.

What we see as impossible, God makes possible.

In fact, as I correlated the analogy of this trees root growing in impossible conditions and how God does the same in my life, I began to notice perfect impossibilities in the trees around me:

  • Sometimes the stripes of pain we endure mar our outward appearance but eventually will lead to beauty.
Marring stripes make for beautiful growth
  • The bumps and bruises of situational challenges cause us to have character and depth.
  • And even when we feel as if every hope is cut out of our life…
Life might cut you down but the foundation of God’s love is ever growing
But God’s love is ever growing us, even in the impossible places.

 God has the ability to take what looks to be dead and bring it back to life!

My friend, we serve a mighty God! A God who loves us so much that He absolutely refuses to leave us where we are.

Instead, whether we can see His hand in our lives, or if we’re completely blinded by the pain we are experiencing we can trust, like the root growing in impossible cemented conditions, God is a God of ever possible solutions and He will grow you in ways and in “soils” that you didn’t even think were possible.

My friend, there is hope in His love for us. God sees a way when we think all is lost and He will take our pain and create beauty out of our lives that we will not imagine or begin to understand until His work is done.

May God bless you today and show you just how precious you are to Him no matter what you are going through and where you are headed, God loves you!

No eye has seen, no ear has heart, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 NIV

With love and blessings,

Amy

Facing Your Giants by Max Lucado

Non-Fiction

Triumph over Tragedy

I picked up this book for one reason, we were facing giants in our lives. Not just one, as did David when he fought Goliath but an army full of them. In fact, it seemed that as soon as we finished one battle, another enemy came forth, taunting and baiting us into war.

We were exhausted. Battle weary. My husband and I needed advice, help and wisdom on how to withstand yet another attack. Sometimes, when I’m in the thick of a battle I need that cheering squad to remind me just who I am and who God is. “Facing the Giants” did that.

Most of us know the story of David and Goliath. David, the scrawny good looking teenage family outcast, sent by his father with food to aid in the support of his older brothers who were on the front line of battle against their arch enemy the Philistine’s and their monster frontman, Goliath.

When David hears Goliath taunting and bad-mouthing God, indignancy welled up in David as he threw down the gauntlet, grabbed 5 smooth stones and ran into battle.

Keep in mind, David didn’t fight for his sake, he fought for the name of the Lord. In fact, in this story, David knew God had the power to fully defeat the enemy all on His own, and yet David stood for God as a willing participant against Goliath and the Philistine army.

But when it comes to our own lives is that how we see the trials that taunt us? Do we rear up in righteous indignation, prepare ourselves to be used by the Lord to bring Him glory or do we pull back like David’s brothers? Afraid? Shrinking back, already defeated?

If I’m completely honest, it’s yes to both. There are times when life will kick me off of my soapbox and before my fanny hits the ground, I’ve already given up the will to stand firm in God’s strength and power to defeat the trial before me.

Max’s book, “Facing the Giants” reminds me over and over to not focus on the battle but focus on God. To give God the glory, to give Him the praise, to seek joy in the midst of heartache and to be reminded just as David knew that we love and serve the one true Holy Lord Almighty.

I enjoyed reading “Facing the Giants” and found a bounty of helpful tips to implement in my life now and when the next trial hits, such as:

  • Remember each trial is an opportunity for God to be glorified
  • No battle is ever too big or too small for our God.
  • Along with my personal favorite tip, “run towards your Goliath, not away from it” because we know, believe and trust in who and what God can do in any given situation. That little tidbit of advice did wonders to readjust my thought process as it applied to facing trials.

Let’s face it, how many of us look at a burning house and want to go run in? Or how many of us saddle up to the truth we are about to lose our home to foreclosure and welcome the idea to see God glorified through it all?

Reading Max’s book helped me to really grasp the concept that focusing on God instead of my trials allows for a deeper relationship between He and I and through Him I am able to confidently and peacefully walk through whatever is happening in my life, because I know God is with me every step of the way.

If you are in over your head with struggles right now that seem 9 feet tall or even if you’ve recently exited the battle ground and wished you had had more peace, more confidence and a deeper relationship with God because of what you faced, I encourage you to pick up a copy of “Facing Your Giants” by Max Lucado.

I am hopeful you too will find in Max Lucado’s book, another “stone in your pocket” that will enable you to take aim at the enemy, with God at the helm of your lives, defeating your nemesis once and for all.

Happy reading and best wishes,

Amy

Don’t Be Ugly – Miriam’s Example

 

When I was a kid and acted up or got a little sassy in front of my grandma, she would look over her black rimmed glasses and with the softest but firm voice and say, “Now Amy, don’t be ugly.”

Instantly no matter what I was doing or saying, I’d stop.  Part of that immediate change came directly from the fact that I absolutely adored my grandma and did not want to disappoint her, the other part of my change was rooted in fear of having my grandma tell my folks that I was being “ugly” and I get in trouble when I got home.

Either way, her words still ring true today as a reminder that when situations get out of hand or when life isn’t going my way, it is not cause to be “ugly.”

And just so there’s no confusion, grandma wasn’t talking about my appearance.

Ugliness in character generally leads to painful consequences as we see with Miriam, Moses’ sister in Numbers 12:1-16

In this biblical account Miriam and Aaron slandered Moses for a decision he made regarding his wife. As the account goes, God immediately calls all three siblings, Moses, Aaron and Miriam to the Tent of the Meeting and addresses Miriam and Aaron’s verbal assault against Moses. God is not pleased at all with their behavior, in fact, as punishment, Miriam is struck with leprosy. When Aaron sees his sisters leprous state he immediately recognizes their grievous mistake and begs for mercy from Moses who then asks the Lord to heal his sister.  God in his mercy granted healing but not without Miriam suffering the consequence of her “ugly” actions and living with leprosy for seven days.

Now when I first read this passage the first thing that came to mind was Proverbs 14:1, “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.”

In Miriam’s story I am reminded that being ugly can take on the form of verbal nastiness towards a loved one, an emotional rejection of a spouse who has wronged you in some way, or even in physical separation from a friend whom you feel betrayed you in some way. All venues are painful and end with terrible consequences.

Reading Miriam’s story, I am quickly reminded how often (erg!) I lose my temper or say words that leave a nasty sting with the ones I love most.

The truth is, once ugly words are said, the damage is done.  Being ugly, reacting in anger, popping off without giving full measure to our words before they’re spoken often leads to consequences that may be immediate or may rear their ugly heads days, weeks or even years later.

For example, when my oldest child was just a toddler we were heading home during high traffic time from an afternoon of errands when we pulled up to a stoplight. When the light turned green and the car did not start moving instantly, my son’s voice rang out from the backseat, “C’mon people give it the gas.”

I was shocked to hear him be so snarky, so I questioned him, “Where’d you get that?”

“You mom.”

I argued, “You did not. I never say that.”

He just smiled and swung his legs in happy rhythm to the music on the radio.

Meanwhile his words stuck in my craw as we continued our way home.

My thoughts revolved around my son’s nasty comment. “Where in the world did he get that?   I bet he got that from his daddy. Or maybe his grandma loses her temper when driving and I’ve just never seen it. Or maybe, it’s his uncle who is known for having no filter.”

As the light turned green and we headed to the next red light I just simply could not put a finger on who it might’ve been who used those words, but I knew it had to be someone who spent enough time with my son in their car that he’d picked up their rude habits.

Traffic was bumper to bumper, and cars were not moving and the more I thought about my son’s comment the more I became irritated with his words and traffic. I wanted to get home as soon as possible to get to the bottom of this, so I could put a stop to it immediately.

I looked up to see a green light and dead-stop traffic.  I slammed my hands against the steering wheel and out came the following words, “C’mon people give…it…the…”

Gulp!

I looked back at my son and he smiled like the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland.

Busted.

I was 100% guilty.

Without thinking about the damage and destruction I was causing in my own home with my own child, here I was transferring my very ugly habit of fussing at traffic onto my unsuspecting son. I did not like what was being mirrored back to me through the voice of my child.

Miriam is the prime example of the type of power we hold over our family. We set the tones in our homes. We can speak words of encouragement, love and support or we can be like Miriam or even like myself and tear our homes, families and those around us down with our words, actions and deeds.

But please don’t be like me or Miriam. I am am a sinner in need of forgiveness and grace…daily, hourly and moment by moment.

Instead, look to our Lord Jesus Christ who set the example before us to always be kind, gracious, patient, self-controlled, compassionate and filled with love and joy to all around you.

With blessings and best wishes,

Amy

Have Faith

I’m on this road right now that has pulled me out of my norm.
I think it’s safe to say I’m afraid.
I like life to be predictable and yet I’m at a place right in my life where everything in my life is in upheaval. I have kids going off to college, my husband and I are a trying to decide if we’ll put down permanent roots in this new state and I want to try my hand at pursuing a secondary career.
It’s all very unnerving and a bit stressful. All of those what if’s cause me quite a bit of worry.
So why don’t I have faith?
It’s like this: I do and then…I don’t.
I’m human, and frankly, sometimes, my faith in God and how I’m feeling in the midst of challenges are two separate issues.
Spiritually I know God is good. I never doubt that. In fact, my life is a complete testimony to God’s love, grace, mercy, provision and tons of forgiveness.
But emotionally I’m still just a human. I struggle to fight back my worries and fears. I struggle with needing patience and focusing my eyes on God instead of my circumstances. I struggle with resting and being still while I wait.
I definitely have issues with waiting. J
I’m one of those people who maps out where she’s going and the best route to get there, days before I even am scheduled to leave. But now, I’m in a stage of life where I simply do not even have a clue what my destination is, let alone, trying to figure out how in the world I’m gonna get there.
I’m lost.
110% at a loss.
And that, my dear friend, completely sets me on edge. I don’t like feeling at a loss and vulnerable. I don’t like to wait and pursue God instead of a goal.
Wait…what?
Did I really type that last sentence?
I did.
Can I admit that I wasn’t expecting that sentence to come out as I typed?
I was planning on writing something else and look what happened…the truth popped out.
I guess I want God in my life on my terms especially now, in this moment of my life, when I’m constantly living in limbo-land.
My own personal hopes, dreams and direction for my life are on hold.
And I don’t like it. Especially when it’s combined with the truth that I haven’t the slightest idea where I’m headed next.
These moments are unchartered territory for me. Up until this year, my life followed a very traditional route, “get married, buy a house, have children, raise the children and then….???”
To be honest I’ve never given one thought as to what came next.
So here I am. In a new state, with a new church, barely any friends, my kids are leaving home and, and…
And what? What comes next?
I don’t know.
I honestly don’t know. It’s a horribly uncomfortable feeling.
I want my life to matter. I want it to count. I want to live a life worth living.
So how do I make that happen? Do I fill my days with work and busyness? Nah…that leaves me feeling empty.
Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my job. But as we all know, there’s more to life than work. So what is it?
I’m sure many of you might be thinking, “Oh stop your whining.” And you’d be right. There is a small bit of whining happening, but mostly frustration. Simply because I do realize that tomorrow is not promised to anyone. So while I’m on this earth I sincerely want my life to matter. I want it to matter to me, to my family and to my future generations and to those to whom God puts in my life.
So I’m on the road to figuring it out. Me and God. We’re gonna do this life together.

Along the way, I need to remember to not be afraid and have faith. God is with me always.

“So do not fear, for I am with you, do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” ~ Isaiah 41:10

Blessings and Best Wishes,
Amy

Welcome to Window of Faith!

I am so glad you are here!
Friends and family who enter our home know that I’m rushing to hug their neck, sending a prayer of thanks heavenward to God for their safe travels, then I’m dragging my company off to the kitchen so we can share a bite to eat while we sit and visit.
My fondest memories have always included a combination of faith, family, friendships and of course, food. I find there’s something about sharing a meal that causes people to smile more, laugh more and simply relax. At the end of the day, everyone leaves feeling happy, satisfied and encouraged.
So this is my prayer for Window of Faith- to be a place where God reigns and friendships flourish – and of course, if we can add a little food in the mix, all the better! So please, pull up a chair, grab a glass of your favorite iced drink and let’s get acquainted and talk about what God is doing in our lives!
With blessings and love,
Amy