Light in the Darkness

This morning, as I started to read my devotional and get into the Word, I realized there was a common theme of my study today. Doubtless, it’s a common theme throughout the Bible in general, but it seemed like today in particular I was being bathed in the concept of “light”.

The two scriptures that I wrote out in my journal (above, and yes, please excuse my writing mistakes, ha!) are two that I’ve heard before. They are familiar, and sometimes that means they get a little stale… not because they lose their meaning, but because we get desensitized to their power. So today, as I read them anew, I prayed to not be desensitized to the Word of God.

The Bible has innumerable passages about light. Some are just brief mentions, some mean “light” in the natural (sunlight, moonlight, firelight) and some mean “light” in a spiritual sense. Here, and in most cases, Isaiah refers to Jesus… Jesus has come. He is our light. He appears over you in His glory. I love that the heading for Isaiah chapter 60 is “The Glory of Zion”. Metaphorically speaking, the glory of God in the man Jesus has come to earth to bring healing and hope and LIGHT.

I always love the tension between light and darkness in verses like this. Darkness cannot exist where there is light. It is IMPOSSIBLE. Where there is a light, especially a light as bright as Jesus, there can be no true darkness. There are shadows, but no impenetrable darkness. Moving forward to John 1:5, I love the different words that are used in the second half. “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it.” That’s the most common word, but in some other translations (overcome was in my ESV) we see comprehended, understood, apprehended, and extinguished. This light, the light that  shines straight into our own personal darkness, and also the same light that shines into the darkness that seems to run rampant in our world, that light cannot be understood, or fought, or dampened, or extinguished. Put simply, that light won’t be put out. It will triumph over the darkness. It has already done so!

One last little piece that was a huge encouragement to me was Isaiah 60:3: Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. My prayer and the prayer of many fellow Christians is that our world leaders would be leading in a God-glorifying way. That they would love as Jesus loved. That they would come to the light, and the brightness of His dawn. Isaiah was a prophet. He speaks words that are coming true and have already come true. We pray for our leaders to be in tune with how God is leading them, changing them, and shepherding them. We cannot possibly know or understand God’s will and the way He works, and this discourages some. But take heart: His light permeates the darkness, it won’t be extinguished, and He is already playing out the victory that He has won. He’s been working on this since the beginning of time! Trust Him to see it through.

Isaiah 9:1-7 (ESV)
But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. 
The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
    on them has light shone.
You have multiplied the nation;
    you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
    as with joy at the harvest,
    as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
For the yoke of his burden,
    and the staff for his shoulder,
    the rod of his oppressor,
    you have broken as on the day of Midian.
For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
    and every garment rolled in blood
    will be burned as fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon[d] his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called[e]
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
    there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
    to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

Things Toddlers Say

Happy Tuesday! I’ve got a lot of funnies from EK this week, mostly because J’s vocabulary has (sadly) deteriorated into frustrated grunts and lots of “FINE!” and “OKAY!” Hopefully he’ll be back next week. Enjoy!

After J got in trouble…
EK: J, you know what? Even when you make bad choices, Jesus still loves you.

J: Did you remember that I was locked out on the porch and there was a robot?!
EK: You’ve been saying that for forty-nine years!

EK: These jeans have a hole.
Me: It’s okay, some people love holes in their jeans.
EK: I don’t want to wear them with a hole!
Me: Please. We aren’t going anywhere, just wear them to make it easy on me.
EK: Fine….
Two days later…
Me: *puts holey jeans in the trash*
Ek: Wahhh! I’m really gonna miss those jeeeeeeans!

EK: Look, mom! My booboo is getting better! I’m magical again!

EK: I tried to not dream about Teka, but I dreamed about Teka, that he would get Moana and kill her! Haha!
Me: Umm…

EK: Look, Mom! It’s the one with Darth Vader!
(For those who don’t know, that’s evil Emporer Zurg from Toy Story.)

J’s three major food groups:Broccoli, pickled radishes, and bulldozers.

J: You remember babies don’t do what they’re doing?
Me: Sure, babe.
J: And babies need help burping.
Me: Yes!

Tootsie roll=tweetsie roll (can you tell my kids are obsessed with trains?)

EK, singing: Oh Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun, please slide down on me! Wait… is it slide or lie?
Me: Shine… It’s shine.

Arguing about how to pronounce “Motonui” (Moana’s island)…
EK: Listen to this! She says Motchnui!
Me: I think it’s Motonui.
EK: She knows how to say her own country’s name!
Me: I know, but I don’t think you’re hearing her correctly.
EK: I’m gonna listen to her again.

 

How to Go Gluten Free (Without Hating It)

This post also appeared on the Grit and Grace Project. I’m a contributor there – go check it out!

I’ve gone gluten free for several periods of time in the past few years, and even now, I’m a little gluten-less-than-usual. And guess what?! It’s not as hard – or as miserable – as you might think. Yes, you make concessions. Yes, there are foods that you will probably miss. But depending on the reason you’re going gluten free (allergens, weight loss, or to support a family member who has to make that choice), you might be surprised at how successful and even happy you can be while you’re off gluten. Here are a few suggestions to help you along in the process.

  1. Don’t feel like you can’t eat bread. Or pasta. Or whatever your glutenous pleasure is. There are plenty of gluten free breads, pastas, and even beers out there. Of course they don’t taste the same as your favorite sourdough, but they can be great substitutes.
  2. Make the effort to search for gluten-free recipes. The main reason I suggest this is because it’s much more successful than trying to leave out or substitute the gluten in your normal recipes. There are many substitutes; for instance, flour can be substituted by brown rice flour, coconut flour, almond flour, and others. But those don’t always measure cup for cup, and they don’t always substitute well, especially when you’re baking. There are many recipe bloggers that have already figured out the best substitutions, so why not just use their methods? Don’t reinvent the wheel.
  3. Stick it out. If it’s not an absolute requirement to go gluten free (ie: allergy-related) and it’s just an experiment, then it’s tempting to add gluten back in sooner, rather than later. But my advice? Stick it out for a couple of months (yes, whole months!) before you start adding it back in. Whatever your desired results are, it might take a couple of months to start seeing them.
  4. Be creative with how you eat your vegetables. Lots of types of food (Asian food, for instance) don’t have much gluten in them in most cases. Gluten free doesn’t mean salads only, or that you can’t be full after your meal. But it might mean you’ve got to be a little more creative with what your meals look like. If you usually eat a pasta of some sort with your vegetables, try eating rice instead. If you typically eat a bagel or toast for breakfast, try oatmeal. There are other grains that are just as filling as wheat.

It’s possible to go gluten-free and love it! Here are three blogs that I like to check out for delicious meals, practical ideas, and even baked goods!

Against All Grain – Danielle isn’t just gluten free, but all of her recipes are! She also has a cookbook, if you’d like it on paper.

Elana’s Pantry – Elana has some great recipes I use often (specifically for sweets/baked goods).

Delightfully Gluten Free – Cassandra is helpful with knowing what products to buy to help out your kitchen’s ingredient stock.

*Also helpful for gluten-free eating are blogs that focus on recipes for those with celiac disease.

Don’t believe all the bad things you’ve heard about going gluten-free. It’s possible to go gluten-free and love it! You’ll never know until you give it a shot, though. What do you have to lose?

Things Toddlers Say

Happy Tuesday! Sorry it’s so late – I’ve had a busy day, full of running, friends, games, and homemade pizza. But no excuses… Here are the funnies!


Passing the hospital at night…
EK: There’s Lala’s work! (our PA friend)
J: And Lala’s work glows in the dark!

J: Can I have dessert?
Me: I asked you to eat five more bites, but you’ve only eaten two.
EK, with no pause: Just eat three more bites, J.
Me to Hubby: Was that math or coincidence?
Hubby: Let’s call it math.

Every time J is in a public bathroom: Is this toilet gonna flush really loud?

Avocado=abocado, alocado

Whenever I have to scold EK, she say, “I miss-ed you while I was at school!” Like, she missed me so she’s gonna say rude stuff now.

D: *brings me pig* Woof woof!
Me: That pig says, “Oink!”
D: *brings me a bear* Meow! Meow!
Me: A kitty cat says, “Meow,” not a bear!
D: *huffs and puffs away*

EK: Can I have that back?
J: (screaming) YES, MY DARLING PRECIOUS!

J: I hurt my finger! When I crosed it in the door!

J: Is it two firty o’clock?

J catapults himself onto D, and D pulls his hair. J: Well, that’s how I get pulled by my hair.


EK (in the picture above): I’ll have a number 8.

EK, holding a pencil: How do you spell Drew?
I spell it, and then his wife and daughter’s names too.
EK: I spelled their whole family! Oh wait! What about Walker and Quinn?! (their dogs)


EK (referring to the picture above, top to bottom): It’s a flower, a star, another flower, and a hoolie-hoop!
(She’s been using her Spirograph!)

EK: *toots*
Necie: If that smells, I’m leaving.
EK: You could just go like this when you smell it! *covers her nose*

EK: Let’s play hind and seek!
Me: I think you mean hind end seek.
EK: What?
Me: Nevermind.

EK to our friend who was holding her newborn baby girl: That baby is so cute, I could die!

Well, there you have it! What have your kiddos been saying recently?

Stir It Up -Finding My Calling as I Go

As I was reading and having some quiet time yesterday afternoon, an image came to me, and I just had to stop and pray about it. I was led to pray for God to “stir up” my calling within me. I haven’t ever had a single moment in my life where I thought, This is it! This is the thing that I’m supposed to do forever! I’ve had many times where I’ve really been enjoying a job or a season or a ministry with which I’ve been involved. But I don’t know that any of those things ever resulted in a clear “Aha!” moment.

However, I do think that I’ve been easing into my calling for years. I love music. I love worship. I love Jesus. I love my husband and my kids. Just recently, I’ve been made aware (through His grace and a little bit of providence) that I love women’s ministry. I’m reading two books right now (Wild and Free by Hayley Morgan and Jess Connolly, which I’m almost done with, but I just can’t read more than a little bit at a time because I cry a lot, and Lioness Arising, by Lisa Bevere) that are focused on women, and focused on freedom in Jesus to be who He has called you to be. These books are changing my thoughts about women and ministry, and women’s ministry. I am learning that freedom and wildness is what Jesus wants for us, especially as women, where we can feel so bound by our roles (familial, cultural, etc) and the chains that come with them. The most beautiful thing about us, as women who follow Jesus, is that we are all different. We have things that we’re good at, and not so good at, things we love, and things we don’t like to do as much. We are fierce, whether loudly or quietly. We are called and equipped and FREE to do His will, and that’s an incredible (and overwhelming) feeling. These books, coupled with the Scriptural references within, are truly opening my eyes to a new way of thinking about myself and how Jesus sees me.

So when I felt like He was leading me to pray for a “stirring up” of my calling, I pictured it this way: there are lots of pieces of me – things that I’m good at, things I love, and spheres of influence that I have been welcomed into. There are all these ingredients for Him to work with, as He is crafting me into a woman of His own design and His own purpose. What will it all hold for me? I don’t know yet. But I am praying now more than ever that I will be cognizant of His call, sensitive to His voice, and willing to go wherever it is He would have me go. And isn’t it usually true that it’s going to be uncomfortable along the way? I’ve been praying about that, too.

You see, I have had this idea about what I should be doing with my church job, my blog, my family, my friends. I felt like I had found a good niche with all of these things. But I’m learning that it can grow stale if I don’t listen to what He is telling me. (Disclaimer: I’ve not been unhappy in any of these situations. I’m just learning to grow in them instead of stagnate.) I truly do want Him to stir up a calling. I want Him to take all the ingredients of which I am made, and have Him stir it up into something for His good.

So let it be, Lord. Stir it up within me. Make me into a wild, fierce woman for Your kingdom.

So I Got Some New Shoes…

I wouldn’t necessarily classify myself as a runner; that trendy word happens to have a lot of stigma, like (over)sharing how many miles you went every time you do it, having a sticker on your car that says “26.2”, etc. But I do run. I run a few times a week, if weather permits – and no, I don’t run in rain or freezing cold. I guess that’s part of why I don’t consider myself “a runner”. I enjoy it, I’ve participated in a few races, and I like running to be my cardio.

I’ve been wearing Nikes for the past few years, as my “training” (a term a use loosely) has ebbed and flowed during pregnancies and cold weather, and fluctuated from running to lifting to yoga, and back and forth. I like doing lots of different kinds of things, and I think that’s healthy for your body as well.

But dang. This week, I got some new shoes. Nice ones. Running shoes. Brooks, to be exact. I’ve only been running twice in them, but they’re like wearing pillows tied onto my feet! I guess my other shoes had been a little worn, but these are a whole new world. After the first run I went on, I thought, I gotta find a race in the spring! A short run in new shoes and I’m already looking for a race? I must be crazy.

I realized that it doesn’t take much to get a little motivation going.

I’ve never been one to really understand expensive and trendy-looking workout gear. Yes, I understand if it helps the function, i.e. bras that fit well, shorts that don’t chafe, socks that don’t cause blisters, etc. But when the exercise clothes are expensive just because they look cute? That annoys me. I didn’t understand why people would spend the money. However, the busier I get and the harder it is to carve out the time to run (or work out at all), the more I realize there is value in finding the motivation in creative places. For me, being excited about the workout gear makes me excited to use it. New fun leggings? I need an excuse to wear them! Comfy and supportive new shoes? I better go break them in!

Naturally, I’ve had the shoes two days, and I ran at least a little while both days. It’s rainy today, and I’m not ready to get these brand new babies wet just yet, but my enthusiasm hasn’t been dampened yet! (Get it? I got the jokes!)

Now for a question for you: I’ve been considering doing “the runner thing” and finding a bracelet that will keep track of my mileage covered, calories burned, etc. Right now, I’m just running with my iPhone in an arm band (or the stroller pocket, if I’ve got it). Music is a nice perk, but not totally necessary. Does anyone have one they suggest? I’d like to be able to link it up with my phone/computer to import workout details so I can keep track. Mostly because I’m nerdy and I like looking back at it. It sounds like (from talking to a few people) that there aren’t many options for one that keeps track of your mileage when your phone isn’t also on your person. So that’s my main desire. (Also, I don’t want to spend a million dollars!)

Things Toddlers Say 

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I’m glad to bring you a long list of hilarities, courtesy of the children! I literally can’t make this stuff up, y’all. Enjoy!

First time with his legs falling asleep…
J: Help me! My legs aren’t working! They’re not working a lot!

EK to Hubby: Daddy, tonight, can you take me on a special date, just you and me?
Hubby: You know what? Sure. I’ll take you out for dessert.
EK: Can we go have gelato?!
Hubby: Sure!
J, running in from the other room: TONIGHT! Can Mommy take me to have ice cream?! And that big girl (aka adult) who gives us gelato can give it to us?!
Me: *dying*

EK had just been out for ice cream with her daddy.
J: You say, “How was your special date?”
EK: No, you say it to me.
J: Oh. How was your special date?
EK: Great!

How the kids know we aren’t fancy: They ask for a towel instead of a napkin. A paper towel, of course.

Hubby: How was your nap?
EK: I didn’t go to sleep.
Me: Really?
EK: I just read a book.
Me: For three hours? (She can’t really read yet.)
EK: Yeah, I had to stay in my room till nap time was over.
Me: Um…

J, the first thing he said when he woke up: I love you and you’re awesome, EK.

 

EK to our waitress after we’d ordered: And also, excuse me, did you know that I’m the big sister who is four and that’s my brother who is three and my brother who is one and may I have my water in an adult cup?
Waitress: *pause* Since you’re the big sister, you can have water in an adult cup if your parents are okay with it.
EK: Okay. And for the brothers, they need cups with lids.
Me: *dying*

Bedtime stall of the week…
J: Wait! I forgot my nightstand water!

A breakfast song by J: This is the way we eat eat eat, eat eat eat, eat eat eat. This is the way we eat eat eat, before we go to play.

Misnomers of the week:
Stomach=stomachache, i.e.: My stomachache is getting hungry!
Potato=batato, i.e.: the food, Mr. Batato Head, etc.

What are your kiddos talking about this week?