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Thursday, March 5, 2015

James 2:2-26

I like to randomly open my Bible and discover the message God has meant me to read. I find this particularly helpful and relevant to every day life. Something we should all try to focus on to improve ourselves and our servitude toward God. 

James 2 English Standard Version (ESV)

The Sin of Partiality
2 My brothers,[a] show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. 2 For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, 3 and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” 4 have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?

8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Faith Without Works Is Dead
14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good[b] is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

Footnotes:

James 2:1 Or brothers and sisters; also verses 5, 14
James 2:16 Or benefit
English Standard Version (ESV)

I pray for those who ask. I pray for those I love. I pray for children, military, police, rescuers, pedestrians, bike riders, teachers, doctors, homeless, persons of faith. What good is it if I don't reach out my own hand and help them? I pray for the homeless man on the corner, but I do not offer my money to him "in case he's a liar/drunk/etc." just because I once saw a wealthy young man deceitfully beg for handouts. He became my excuse not to act and to judge others. It's not my place to judge, it's only my place to help. Prayer is valuable and great but faith alone is dead without works.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Class Valentine's Are Complete!

Here is our idea for a kid-friendly Valentines that will be a huge hit!

We found these cute little eyeball rings at the local party supply store for $.25 each. A bag of treat bags was $2.50 and I printed the toppers on leftover card stock. Total cost: $.26 cents each!

The treat bag toppers were a template I found at Avery.com . I printed the text on one side, flipped the paper over and printed the template so we could cut on the lines without them showing.


"Eye think you're nice!" 
"Eye like you!" 
"Eye think you're cool!" 
"Eye want to be friends forever!"


Cut out the treat bag toppers and fold over.





My daughter wrote her name on the front of the topper and the recipients name on the back, before we assembled our bags so it'd be easier to write.

Cut the treat bag down to the size you'd like, put the treat inside and staple the card stock topper on top.

That's it!
This was a lot of fun and it didn't cost much more than buying a box of generic cards to pass out.
We did 22 total with two extra "just in case".


"Eye" thank you for reading!
Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Autumn Apple and Sausage Couscous

Autumn Apple and Sausage Couscous

We made this delicious recipe a few weeks back and I can't get enough of it! It's hearty and healthy at the same time. My normally "meat and potatoes" kind of husband and kids loved it too!

Ingredients
1 12-ounce package Hillshire Farm Gourmet Creations Chicken Apple Sausage, sliced
1-2 tablespoons butter
2 granny smith apples, cored and sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 lemon or a splash of bottled lemon juice
5 cups cooked couscous
¾ cup dried & sweetened cranberries
¾ cup chopped pecans (I normally skip nuts, but the crunch is important in this dish!)

Instructions
In a frying pan over medium heat, cook sausage slices. Flip slices over to allow each side to brown. When each side is browned, remove sausage from pan to a bowl or plate.
In the same frying pan, melt butter. Cook apples and onions in butter over medium heat. Squeeze lemon over apples or give a splash with bottle lemon juice. Cook until apples and onions are becoming tender and slightly browned. Set aside with sausages.
In an ungreased skillet, add chopped pecans and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook until pecans are golden brown. Remove from heat.
Combine the sausage, apples, onions, cranberries and pecans with the couscous. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm!

Note:
Recipe adapted from Hillshire Farm Gourmet Creations Chicken Apple packaging

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Transgender Pride

Transgender issues have been getting some media attention lately, and I say it's about time!

Due to her own desire for privacy, I can't disclose any personal details, but I am related to a transgender person. She's my aunt and always has been. She underwent gender reassignment close to 15 years before I was born, but I knew at an early age she was born male.

Some of my family does not approve and I understand that. Gender issues are complex and very hard to empathize with. Maybe because she's "always been that way" and I never knew her as "him", I have never had trouble accepting and loving her.

I admit I'm still learning, but to me, transgender issues are easy to accept. Why would it be hard to accept the fact that some of us are born with gender identity issues, just as others are born with any other type of medical concern? It's not a matter of choice; it's a matter of birth!

(I'm sorry if that's not a PC sanctioned statement, but that's the best phraseology I could come up with after dwelling on this for two days)

I recently read the book "Beyond Magenta" by Susan Kuklin. While I wish it would have actually gone into more detail and featured more personal stories and research, it was enlightening.

For much of the transgender community, being labeled gay or lesbian is a source of frustration. My aunt happens to be attracted to males, so I was ignorant to think that gay went hand-in-hand with being transgender. It does not. Being transgender and being gay are two separate things. Transgender people either identify with the opposite gender they were born with or "no gender at all". It's very complicated and I'm by no means qualified to write much about it. All I hope to get across with this post is to express my new understanding of a bright a colorful part of the world I wasn't previously familiar with.

The world is a big, beautiful place full of interesting people, places and things. It's our gift from God that there is so much in this world to explore and enrich our lives. It's up to us, no matter what our affiliations and upbringings, to embrace it with grace, dignity, love and respect for all living creatures.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

"He has no room to judge me"

"He has no room to judge me. He should be judge for his crimes against humanity."

This, from a friend who calls herself atheist but is truly a Christian hater. Why do I call her that? Because she respects all other faiths but Christianity and because she practices Wicca. True atheism is a belief that there are no superior beings, yet she worships multiple gods and goddesses she associates with Wicca. She does not insult or question Judaism, Hinduism, Islamism, etc., only Christians.

This comment hurts me on many levels. First, it's completely ignorant. Of course He did not commit crimes against humanity--humanity did!

Secondly, she's so full of hatred and misunderstanding, it's hard to bear witness to it.

Why would I remain her friend when she insults something as important as my faith? Because I know her and I know she has a good heart. I also know she struggles with demons she has a hard time controlling. It's also important to me that I lead by example. She doesn't realize it, but I'm inspired by her to be a better Christian and I can be thankful for her hurtful words in that way. She reminds me to lead my life as a good Christian, setting an example of what Christianity should mean... a life of love, acceptance and honor. She can insult our broad faith in a general way, but I will not falter. I will not loose my temper and sink to the level she might want us to in order to prove her point.

She mistakenly believes Christians see themselves as "perfect" and that we don't make mistakes. In reality, we know and accept that we cannot, nor ever will be perfect. We ask for forgiveness and remain humble. That does not mean we will not fail at those tasks, but we get up and try again and again. We love and accept, leaving true judgement to God alone.

I will pray for her peace, which I feel she must need a great deal. Someone with a peaceful conscience does not attempt to start arguments and throw insults.

Monday, December 29, 2014

My Angels

I know I've typed this all out before, but I must be afraid of forgetting... because I'm the only one who knows.

My husband knows about each of our losses, but by his own choice, he doesn't know their names. I chose them myself, with God whispering in my ear.

Gender was never confirmed, but if these names are wrong, there is no harm in it. I believe they each deserve recognition. They each deserve to be honored again and again.

I have nothing but their names to hold onto and the knowledge that I'll meet them one day.

Ariel 
November, 2006
(due August 2007)
The first. The unknown. The wanted. The whisper of things to come.
It seems so long ago now.

Samuel
April 30 - July 17, 2008
(due 2/4/09)

1 Samuel 1:27-28 King James Version (KJV)

27 For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him:

28 Therefore also I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord. And he worshipped the Lord there.

Zipporah Leah 
Jan 3 - Feb 20, 2009
(due 11/10/09)
My little bird. You flew away much too soon, but you left a stamp forever on my heart.

Malachi David (twin to G)
April 14 - June 3, 2009
(due 1/19/10)

Gabriel
Dec 19 - Jan. 25, 2011
(due 10/10/11)

I love you all so very much and I think of you often. You've each changed me for the better and I can't wait until the day comes that I see you in heaven. My heart will always be with you, as you will each remain with me.

XO,
Mama

Resolutions: A List of ...?

I'm not a person who makes resolutions.

I consider myself a constant work-in-progress and though I normally love lists, I've never actually made one of this type.

However, maybe it'll help me to see what I was thinking on this date, Dec. 29, 2014.

Maybe I'm just trying to get out of work...

In 2015, I (hope to) resolve to:


  • Lose 50 lbs.
  • Forgive myself.
  • Forgive others (even if they are not sorry or if I never get an apology)
  • Appreciate family more
  • Reduce social media time
  • Read the Bible daily


Let all the rest fall into place.

Daily Acceptance Prayer  

Author Unknown  

 
I accept myself completely.
I accept my strengths and my weaknesses,
my gifts and my shortcomings,
my good points and my faults.

I accept myself completely as a human being.
I accept that I am here to learn and grow,
and I accept that I am learning and growing.
I accept the personality I've developed, and
I accept my power to heal and change.

I accept myself without condition or reservation.
I accept that the core of my being is goodness
and that my essence is love,
and I accept that I sometimes forget that.

I accept myself completely, and in this acceptance
I find an ever-deepening inner strength.
From this place of strength, I accept my life fully and
I open to the lessons it offers me today.

I accept that within my mind are both fear and love,
and I accept my power to choose which I will experience as real.
I recognize that I experience only the results of my own choices.

I accept the times that I choose fear
as part of my learning and healing process, and
I accept that I have the potential and power
in any moment to choose love instead.

I accept mistakes as a part of growth,
so I am always willing to forgive myself and
give myself another chance.

I accept that my life is the expression of my thought,
and I commit myself to aligning my thoughts
more and more each day with the Thought of Love.
I accept that I am an expression of this Love.
Love's hands and voice and heart on earth.

I accept my own life as a blessing and a gift.
My heart is open to receive, and I am deeply grateful.
May I always share the gifts that I receive
fully, freely, and with joy.