Archive - October 2015

Me versus the pumkins

A couple of weeks ago I did an insane thing. I took all five kids to Walmart. Yes, I said five. Even my husband asked what I was thinking.

Honestly with all but one of my children being in double digits, it wasn’t the nightmare it could have been if they were all under ten. I did however, get a lot a requests to buy things. Even my almost seventeen-year-old managed to find stuff to ask for. (Note: When it’s almost your birthday, expect a “no” when you ask for stuff.)

Among the 287,987,982 other things they found that they had to have, were the pumpkins that my ten-year-old foodie spotted. I said “no” to almost everything else. At least I thought I did until I got in the checkout line and watched my money disappear.

But the pumpkins were another story. Even though I do love pumpkin pie and pumpkin muffins, I’m not one that has to put pumpkin in everything just because the leaves are changing, especially not my coffee. But I do happen to have a weakness for pumpkin butter. So Foodie and I picked out two pie pumpkins and put them in the basket before I had a chance to think through what I was doing.

In the end, it all comes down to grace. The grace that pulled us out of our sin, keeps pushing us forward to the finish line, helping us along the way, and turning us into a masterpiece for His glory.

The next morning I grabbed the biggest sharpest knife I had, and a rubber mallet from the garage, and went to work. I sawed, I hammered, and I pounded, but these pumpkins were resisting my efforts with everything they had.

It took me at least a half an hour to get two pumpkins split in half, and another half an hour to scoop out all of the seeds. Finally they went into the oven for an hour. Then it was time to purée.

It was at this point that I realized I needed a food processor, and remembered that mine is broken. Has been for a few years. (I recently replaced it with one like this from Amazon. It’s not fancy, but it gets the job done.) So I reached for the blender, thinking it should work just as well.

It didn’t.

A few rounds of the blade and whatever was on the bottom got puréed, while everything else got pushed into the top of the blender jar. Obviously I needed a spatula to push it all back down. Doing this while the blender was running seemed like the most efficient method.

It wasn’t.

Blender: 1 Spatula: 0

I spent a few minutes fishing blue silicon out of the blender, and then reached for a wooden spoon. Please don’t make me tell you what happened next.

Sometimes I’m a slow learner.

I spent the next hour fishing wood chips out of my still-not-puréed pumpkin. I threw away more than I probably needed to because I was terrified of my family eating a splinter.

Next up a big metal spoon. I don’t even care anymore if the spoon tears up the blades. I will conquer this pumpkin.

I should probably mention that although Foodie loves food and loves to eat, he also tends to develop strong attachments to things like fruits and vegetables. I bought a watermelon over the summer, and he objected every time I started to cut it, until I finally told him it was cut it or let it rot and throw it out.

He relented, but I had to take his picture with it first.

He mourned when the zucchini he picked from my mother’s garden became zucchini bread. Until he tasted the zucchini bread.

But I had to take a picture of the zucchini remains before I put it in the bread.

It was at this point that Foodie came in and demanded to know what I was doing with his pumpkins. I calmly explained to him that I was making pumpkin butter, and he would love it. He wasn’t convinced. There were tears pending. I might have promised to buy new pumpkins.

After several more minutes of blending, which both spoon and blender somehow survived, I finally had enough pumpkin puréed to make my pumpkin butter. With Foodie’s help, I got the pumpkin, the sugar and spices, and some lemon seeds, into the slow cooker for the prescribed three hours.

When the three hours were up I went into the kitchen with high expectations. All of my hard work was about to be rewarded with sweet spreadable goodness.

Or not.

One taste and my heart sunk. The texture was off, and it tasted like somebody had left apple juice out on the counter for way too long. I was so disappointed with it I wanted to chuck the whole thing in the trash, slow cooker and all. I walked away and left it sitting on the kitchen counter planning never to have anything to do with it again.

But as I sat in my chair, exhausted and licking my wounds, I remembered my Savior.

I remembered that He never gives up on me.

Not even when I’m being stubborn. Or when I’m holding onto something that He wants to use to mold me into His image. He started a work, and He plans on finishing it.It all comes down to grace

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: Philippians 1:6

No matter how much I resist Him, no matter how many times I fail Him, He’s still there, gently prodding me and guiding me. Sometimes I’m hardened to His efforts, and He has to use the mallet. And sometimes I have to be willing to give up my pumpkins, or my zucchini, and let Him purée them and shred them to make them into something that will nourish me and give me strength for the journey.

It’s not always an easy process, but it’s necessary. I cant do what I’m put on this earth to do if I won’t let Him do a work in me first. And He never quits trying. He’ll never write me off as lost cause.

In the end, it all comes down to grace. The grace that pulled us out of our sin, keeps pushing us forward to the finish line, helping us along the way, and turning us into a masterpiece for His glory.

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen. Jude 1:24-25

As for my pumpkin butter, I didn’t give up on it either. Even though I still kind of wanted to. I put it in the fridge that night, and in the morning I put it back in the slow cooker, added a little water, and let it cook some more. A couple of hours later I ran it through my handy chopper. (Basically a miniature food processor like this one, also from Amazon. I got it as a wedding gift 18 years ago and it’s still going strong.) I don’t know why I didn’t think doing that before. I cautiously gave it a taste.

It was perfect.

Foodie loved it, and wanted toast for every meal just so he could have pumpkin butter. I call that a win.

It had just needed a little more time and little T.L.C. and a little grace.

I’m linking up at Grace and TruthTell It To Me Tuesdays, and A Little R & R!



Jesus Loves The Little Children: When Prayer Doesn’t Feel Like Enough

But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 19:14

He gave me a penny. I don’t know why he gave me that penny, but I remember him holding it out and saying, “this is for you.” It wasn’t a shiny new penny. It was dull and brown, and its face had been worn down through years of use. The edges were rough as though it had been scraped along the ground or escaped an encounter with a garbage disposal.

His body language as he dropped it into my hand indicated he was trying to be casual about it, but his eyes told me that this little penny was an enormous gift.An enormous gift

That was somewhere around a year ago. He stopped coming abruptly a little while after that, only to turn up again recently. I’ve treasured that penny like the priceless gift it was, and kept it as reminder of its giver. Whenever I thought about that penny, I said a prayer for that little boy and his family.

Maybe I should have prayed more.

There are days when I want to get rid of all of the stuff in my house, line the walls with bunk-beds, open my door, and say to the hurting children of the world “come in you’ll be safe here.” Wednesday was one of those days. After all when you already have five children, what’s one more? Or seven. And maybe a very nearsighted grandmother.

One room for the girls, one room for Grandma, and the basement for the boys. Should work out just fine, right?

Except that it doesn’t really seem really possible right now. My life has it’s own craziness and uncertainties.

As I made a note to myself to pray for two families in need, it didn’t feel like enough. I felt like I should do more, like I should do something. And praying didn’t feel like doing anything. In that moment saying a prayer felt like a cop-out.

Yes, there are canned goods and clothes being collected, and someone is having Grandma’s broken glasses replaced, but that doesn’t feel like enough either.

It feels like a band-aid. And hurting hearing hearts need more than a band-aid. Especially little ones.

For many, if not most, first world Christians our “can do” far exceeds our “will do.” I admit that’s been me on more than one occasion, and I’m sitting here wondering if this is one of those situations. Surly there is something I’m missing.

Sometimes though our “will do” exceeds our “can do.” Sometimes we have to accept that we have limits, and that what we want to do is impossible.

But here’s the thing about God, there is no limit to His “can do.” There is nothing that is impossible for Him.

And the best thing we can do is pray.

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (James 5:16)

I am a firm believer in the power of prayer. I’ve seen lives changed, marriages restored, wayward children find their way, and situations beyond the control of any man resolved, all through the prayers of righteous men and women.

In those situations God gets all the glory.

None of us can sit back and say, “Look what I did,” because we didn’t do anything. Except pray. We pray and cry out to God and He does everything else. 

None of us is tempted to rob God of the glory that belongs to Him in every circumstance.

God desires us to abandon our plans and trust Him to do more than we can imagine.

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. Ephesians‬ ‭3:20-21

Praying is doing something, and sometimes it really is the only thing we can do.

There will times though, when God asks us to put feet to our prayers. There will be times when He moves on us to be the change we are asking for. Sometimes it will be us that hear the whispers from that Still Small Voice prodding us to reach out to the broken and hurting.

Maybe those are the times when our prayers don’t feel like enough.

We need to be ready for those times. While we’re doing all of our praying over those impossible situations, we need pray for ourselves too. We need to pray that God would not only give us the ability to respond, but also a heart that is willing to respond.

I can’t give those children what they really need, but I can be there for the few hours a week that they are in my care. I can find out what they need right now, and help them get it. I can call them by name, and offer them a kind smile. I can tell them, and show them, that God loves them, and they are special to Him. I can point them to the cross where they can find forgiveness of sins, which is the greatest need any of us have.

Maybe I can’t do everything, but what I can do I will do.

As I made a note to myself to pray for two families in need, it didn’t feel like enough. I felt like I should do more, like I should do something. And praying didn’t feel like doing anything. In that moment saying a prayer felt like a cop-out.

What about you? Are there things that you could do, or are you frustrated by what you can’t do? Don’t be discouraged by what you can’t do. Give it to God in prayer and find out what He can do. Then ask Him to show you what you can do.



Whose Armor Are You Wearing?

Have you ever tried wearing two sets of armor at once? It can be a real challenge. The first hurdle is deciding whether to put on one whole suit of armor and then layering the other on top of it, or to layer each individual piece.

Whichever way you do it, just getting the armor on is problematic. Then there’s actually wearing it. All those pieces rubbing and bumping together, making movement extremely difficult.

It’s nearly impossible to see when you’re wearing two helmets. That’s if you can turn your head at all.

Two swords sounds like a good idea. You’ll be able to whack at your enemies with two hands just like a fantasy movie ninja. Awesome! That is until you realize that you also have two shields.

Okay so I don’t actually know from experience what it would be like to wear two sets of armor. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that you don’t either. Most of us probably won’t ever have the opportunity to try on two sets of armor. Probably. So lets put it in more reasonable terms.

Would you wear two pairs of shoes at the same time?

What about two winter coats?

Two hats?

Of course there are exceptions, but for the most part we wouldn’t try to wear two of any of those things. It would bulky and impractical. In the case of the shoes, I’m having trouble picturing how you would even get two pair on.

The same is true for spiritual armor as well. We can’t wear two sets. It won’t work.

Yet before I’m even out of bed in the morning I find myself already fastening on my own armor.

We can't be affective soldiers if we are wearing faulty armor. The armor we wear must be the best. It must be God's armor. He provides for us everything we need. But we have to be willing to give up our own armor first.

Instead of having on the girdle of truth, I’ve bound myself up in lies. The lies of the devil, the lies the world tells me and the lies I tell myself.

Instead of the breastplate of righteousness, I cover myself with my own self-righteousness.

I don’t have my feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, but with the preparation of criticism.

Instead of taking up the shield of faith, I take up the shield of my own reasoning.

Instead of the helmet of salvation, I’ve forged a helmet of good works.

The sword I carry is not the sword of the spirit, but I carry a sword forged of my own stubborn will.

None of this armor will help me. None of it will protect me or prepare me to stand against the wiles of the devil.

My own armor does nothing for me except make provision for my flesh. Something that God’s word warns us not to do. Instead we are to put on Christ.

But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. Romans 13:14

Instead of our own armor, we need the armor of light.

The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Romans 13:12

In order to put on the armor of light, God’s armor, we have to take off our own armor first.

That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24 (Emphasis added.)

We can’t be affective soldiers if we are wearing faulty armor. The armor we wear must be the best. It must be God’s armor. He provides for us everything we need. But we have to be willing to give up our own armor first.

Then we put on the girdle of truth that keeps us from falling prey to all of the lies surrounding us.

We cover ourselves with the breastplate of righteousness that protects our hearts, and keeps them from growing cold.

Our feet we protect with the Gospel of peace that allows us to see others as Christ sees them and to love them as Christ loves them.

Then we take up the shield of faith that will quench the fiery darts of the wicked.

We put on the helmet of salvation that gives us peace to know that we are safe in His hands.

The sword we carry is the Holy Spirit of God working by His Word in us and through us, cutting away the old and making all things new again.

Then there is prayer. The piece of the armor that we absolutely cannot forget.

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; Ephesians 6:18

We often hear that our armor must be prayed on, and that is true. But prayer is so much more important than that. The verse above says: “praying always.” We pray on the armor, but we can’t stop there.

Prayer is not only how we put on the armor, it is the underpinnings of the armor, a vital piece of the Prayerarmor, the fastenings that hold it all together, a weapon to use in battle, the ground we fight the battle on, and the battle itself.

Instead of relying on myself, I must rely constantly on God. No matter how hard I try, eventually my own efforts will fail. My armor will let me down every time. But God never fails, and His armor is never faulty.

But we have to make a conscious choice each and every day to take off our armor, and to clothe ourselves in God’s armor. Only then can we have hope to stand against the wiles of the devil.

Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Ephesians‬ ‭6:11‬




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