Thursday, October 30, 2014

When Circumstances Overwhelm

"I can bear it no more", my spirit cried.  "I beg for mercy, cry uncle, whatever it takes for this to end", my heart screams.  But my reply is a quite "don't you trust me?  I am working all things for your good."  And I scream back "It's not enough! I want no more of this.  I just want it to end."
Circumstances have overwhelmed me and there's nothing left in me physically, spiritually, and emotionally.  I am empty.  Even tears have ceased to come.  Overwhelmed!
"It came to pass...that the brook dried up."  1 Kings 17:7
I am there.  There is no hope in anything except in the Giver of all things.  The question is will he show up?  Will He provide for my ever present need?  Not just being by my side but actually provide for this tangible need?  Not can He but will he?  Will He withhold?  How much more?  So many questions and so few answers.
In spite of all these fears and questions, I have a hope that I can not explain.  It is a hope that will not let go of me.  I am bound by it.  No strength left, no desire left, nothing left but still bound to this hope that in spite of my limited vision, in spite of overwhelming circumstances, in spite of giving up...He is there.  And, for reasons I can not explain, it somehow becomes enough.
Where do I go from here when everything has changed and is changing still?  Why does He insist on this "Manna Living"?  I call it "Manna Living" because He tells us to ask for our "daily bread", not weekly or monthly, but daily.  This is not my way.  My way is planning, knowing what I will do tomorrow and the next and the next.  My way is what I dreamed for my life.  But now He has interrupted my plan with this "Manna Living".  Fighting it does no good because I can't win.  So where does this leave me?  It leaves me with learning to live a different way; a way that seems uncertain and unsure.  A way that only He can see the end and I can only see the dim light of the next step.  Sometimes this brings fear even though He says not to fear.  Sometimes it just makes me angry because, if the truth be known, I just want things my way.
These overwhelming, trying times force me to let go of the dross and hold only the pure.  In the end, I surrender my will to His because what is life without Him?
Overwhelming circumstances and Manna boils down to trust.  Am I going to trust and praise even when life is crashing down?

I have no idea if any of this makes sense to anyone but me.  This is just some notes that I have made over the past few weeks as the Lord continues to teach me what it means to live life His way.  But one thing is true, I have much to learn.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

God Does Not Give Me Anything That I Can't Handle Is a Lie

How many times have you said or heard the statement "God does not give you anything that you can't handle" ?  I have said it and I have heard it.  I see it all the time on friends Facebook pages.  How many of you realize that is a false statement?  My guess is not many since it is widely used.  This statement is usually spoken when someone's circumstances are trying and difficult.  But no where in God's Word is this statement found.  "Oh yes it is", you might say.  "1 Corinthians 10:13 says 'No temptations has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.'  See there it is; God will not give me anything that I can't handle."  Read that again.  This scripture is talking about temptations not circumstances, burdens, trials.  He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear.  Circumstances such as financial hardship, broken relationships, sickness, being hurt by others, and even death are all more than we can bear.  Ask any parent who has had to bury a child and I'm sure that they will tell you that that statement is false.
So what is that truth?  It is found in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9.  "We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia.  We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.  Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death.  But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead."
The truth is that God does allow unbearable circumstances in our lives so that we will rely on Him and not ourselves, our own ability or strength.  Sometimes circumstances are beyond our control and sometimes they are a direct result of our own sin or the sin of others.  Regardless of how our circumstances came to be, we still need the power of God to overcome.  Let me interject this one thing; this only applies to those who are believers.  Who are true believers?  Those who have put their trust in Christ.  Those who have seen their sinful state in light of God's law and know that they are in great need of forgiveness.  Those who accept the truth about themselves apart from Christ and accept the free gift of forgiveness and redemption that is only found at the foot of the Cross.
Some may ask "if God is so loving, why would he allow painful circumstances to enter our lives?"  The answer is found in 2 Cor. 1:8-9, "that we might not rely on ourselves but on God".  I know that this may sound strange but when has anyone called out to God when things were going their way?  If we never encounter unpleasant or painful circumstances would we see our need of depending on God?  No, we would not.  Here is that simplest definition of sin:  living independently from God.  So adverse circumstances, things that are beyond our ability to bear push us toward the only God who is able to do all things, even raise the dead.  He wants us to live wholly dependent on Him.  Daily dependence is an impossible feat for us.  So we also depend on Him to give us the ability to live in dependence.  Our human nature screams "I want it my way and I want it now".  Learning to live dependent on God is a miracle.  It is learning what grace truly is. 
So my charge to you is this:  Stop saying God does not give you anything you can't handle.  He does give you many things that you can't handle apart from Him.  It is only to drive us to Him.  It is specifically to show us our need of Him and His grace and mercy.

Friday, June 20, 2014

From Scratch Cooking for Busy People

If you have read any of my food posts you know that I stress cooking from scratch and not buying the boxed, processed food that most Americans readily ingest simply because they "don't have time to cook".  I certainly know what that feels like.  Yes, I'm a stay-a-home mom and you might think that I have more time than a mom who leaves home to work but you would be mistaken.  See I'm not just at home doing nothing.  I am also the teacher.  I have to research curriculum, plan lessons, teach lessons, grade papers, report grades, and all other teacher activities.  In addition to that, both of my boys play sports so I am chauffeur and co-team mom.  I am the wife of the football coach so I do whatever I can to help him.  Then I am the cook, the maid, part time nurse, bookkeeper, main shopper for household things, and I'm sure that I could come up with more if I had time.  So you see, I know busy and what I have found is that I don't have time to cook when I don't plan ahead.  But who has time to plan, you might say.  You have to make time to plan.  You make time for what's important to you.  And not eating processed, fast food is important to me.
So let's start with Sweet and Sour Chicken.  I found this recipe in one of my cookbooks and made a few changes to the original recipe because that's what I usually do.  But for the most part, this recipe was a good "from-scratch" recipe.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

1 lb. boneless chicken breast, cubed
1 green bell pepper, cubed
2 carrots, sliced thin
2 onions, cut in wedges
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 cup soy sauce ( I use Bragg's Liquid Amino)
3 Tbsp brown sugar
3 Tbsp vinegar
1 can (8oz) pineapple chunks in juice
3 cups cooked rice

Stir-fry chicken in olive oil coated wok until done.  Remove and stir-fry veggies about 2-3 min.  Add back the cooked chicken.  Mix cornstarch, ginger, soy sauce, brown sugar, and vinegar.  Add to pan with pineapple and juice.  Stir until thickened.  Serve over rice.

This is how planning ahead can help.  You can cut up your chicken before you freeze it or you can buy the chicken tenders that are already cut small.  You can also buy the fresh frozen veggies and you have no chopping to do.  How is this healthy?  Well you are making the sauce from scratch and we all know that the secret is in the sauce (ha ha).  But seriously, there is no unpronounceable ingredients and if you use Bragg's Liquid Amino, your sodium content is cut by more than half.  Also using brown rice instead of white rice is a huge step in healthier eating.
So start planning ahead and eat better.