“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV
God has done some amazing work behind the scenes in my life this week and in my family. To Him be all glory and power and praise forever more!
Like the clouds that softly encircle the mountains, the Lord’s Spirit breathes whispers of His gentle love and reassures us of His constant presence. In the stillness, He is there.
Linking with Word-Filled Wednesday
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We had looked forward to this time for months. With our son having left for boot camp only two weeks prior, we knew that a few-day visit from our friends would be the perfect pick-me-up for our droopy spirits. But as the time approached, I felt myself sinking into a deep pit. Son had not called or written–my heart breaking while other Moms reported glorious words from their offspring. Energy levels plummeted with the mood. I looked around the house and wondered how I would ever get it cleaned before my friends arrived.
|Our friends Rachel and Marcia from Oregon in Tombstone–original building|
|Arizona’s oldest continuously published newspaper–started 1891|
There I sat in the dining room, tears running down my cheeks, my Bible Study open to pages proclaiming how God answers our prayers in the hard times, and all I wanted was a letter from our son. It was a hard time fraught with doubt, fears, and a severe case of the “what ifs.”
But God was watching and He was in control! In a couple of days, about the time I was ready to give up, the form letter arrived and son had scribbled words of love in a corner. Then my dear friend said that the lady who cleans houses would be available to come before my company arrived. One thing after another fell into place.
|Historic typesetting machine used to publish “The Epitaph”|
Life began to look brighter and I could see the light and smell the fresh air at the top of the pit. Quickly I scrambled out, thanking God for His promises to see me in my distress and provide a way out.
When our friends arrived, I was imbued with energy from above. We toured the majestic Kartchner Caverns. Droplets of water sparkled from stalactites that clung to the glorious caverns carved by God so long ago. One whole arena called the Throne Room boasted formations of various shapes, thick and twisted, thin and tall like a straw, striated chunks of rock colored red from iron deposits–all molded by the Creator’s hands. We praised God with wonder from our hearts.
The next day we toured the Wild West town of Tombstone. In the 18 years I have lived in Arizona, not once have I gone to this famed location where the notorious Wyatt Earp was a law unto himself. Having watched a reenactment of the famous gunfight at OK Corral that took place in 1881, we then strolled the dusty streets and poked into lace-frilled shops.
|A reenactment of the notorious gunfight behind the O.K. Corral 1881|
I never would have believed that I would hike anywhere in the desert in summertime. But the third day had us hiking a small trail in a canyon where stands of Saguaros rose up the mountains bordering the canyon.
|Wyatt Earp, the actor. Rumored to be a great grandson of the infamous Earp|
It wasn’t just one Playdate with God but it was three glorious days of marveling at His mighty power in me, the beauty of His desert creation, and sweet fellowship with God’s gift of friends.
|Just a small stream of water flowed over the dam. We paused and ate our lunch under the trees, eyes on the water.|
|A bloom in the desert to Glorify God|
“I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me, let us exalt his name together. ” Psalm 34: 1-6 NIV
Giving thanks to the Lord for:
926) God’s goodness
927) God’s watchfulness
928) God’s provision
929) A form letter with scribbled words of love
930) Friends who bring the joy and delight of the Lord with them
932) Hiking the desert in summer
933) A stream of water in the desert, even a little is refreshing 934) Thunderstorms that cool the desert heat 935) Capturing lighting in a photo
936) The flower that blooms in a rugged climate
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I gazed up at the sky, overcome once again by a vibrant Summer Sunset in this blistering desert. Quickly I grabbed my camera and snapped away before the colors faded and the clouds pulled apart like cotton candy. When I checked the views billowing into my camera’s viewfinder, I was struck at the deep roiling red captured in my first photo. It eerily reminded me of fire more than a peaceful sunset ushering in a docile evening. I winced, not realizing that the next night, those fiery storm clouds would billow out of my mouth and set my home ablaze. Scripture warns us that the tongue is like a fire and sets the whole course of one’s life on fire (James 3:5-6). That night, I forgot about the eery crimson clouds that had covered the sky. Maybe they had been a warning that I had not heeded. Or a vivid declaration of Scripture that I would not heed as I emotionally let words erupt like a volcano out of my mouth. Sure I had valid reasons to be upset. Sure I had been hurt deeply. This was not the way this evening was supposed to play out. I was not supposed to be duped or surprised at the sudden turn of events. But did these reasons–events–validate the vindictive words that spewed from my mouth with justification.
Pride. Vengeance. Retaliation. My rights had been usurped.
“Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts.” James 3:5 NIV
Were the roiling feelings inside of me based on pride,? My eyes would not see that truth for days to come.
But right before my eyes I witnessed a great forest fire that scorched the one in my family who was in the path of my burning words. They tore us apart like fragile pieces of timber, not like the soft puffs of cloud pulled apart like cotton candy. Would the fire not cease?
Who or what could douse the pride giving fuel to the flames? All my tears could not quench the damage caused by the inferno.
“The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands (and mouth) the foolish one tears hers down.” Proverbs 14:1 NIV (words in parenthesis mine)
All I had worked toward for several months came crashing down around me in a matter of minutes. And the storm continued through the night. The aftermath left destruction in its path and barrenness where once a forest and a relationship had stood.
Who could replant life where charred ruins now lay dead?
I awoke during the night in tears once again. What could I do?
Just confess my sins and wait for time to heal the wounds. Sound counsel from the Spirit through my husband. I crawled out of bed and confessed my sin to God. I asked forgiveness from the Lord, although I had asked forgiveness so many times of the one burnt by my words.
As light filtered through the wooden blinds, I experienced one of God’s greatest promises.
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:21-23 NIV
He began a replanting of tender shoots that will take time to grow. Ones that will take nurturing and care and water from His Word.
Because of His mercies, the relationship could begin to see new life again. But there are scars from where the fire charred both of us. Realize that a fire does not consume only one space in a forest but also burns over the spot that ignited it. Both of us had charred remains that would need the healing balm of Christ.
Words. Pride. The tongue that spews the fire forth can cause unrelenting damage. God warns us and I take heed:
“…but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?” James 3:8-12 NIV
Who can clean this contaminated spring?
God alone can clean the spring with His mercies and the Holy Spirit can set a guard over our lips that we may not come to ruin.
So we humbly present our need for cleansing to the Lord.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 NIV
And the Holy Spirit sets the guard:
“He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.” Proverbs 21:23 NIV
Linking with Spiritual Sundays and Scripture and a Snapshot
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|Sesame Seed Chicken with Broccoli Crumb Casserole and Stove Top Dressing|
I figure it is still barely Friday here in Arizona, so I’m legally posting a recipe for Ann Kroeker’s site Food on Fridays. While I await a letter from my youngest son who is in Navy Boot Camp, I thought I might include one of his favorite recipes that I made while he was still home. Yes, this one is chicken. If you know our family, you know we eat a lot of chicken, and it’s a standing joke in our family that if our sons’ fiances serve chicken–the wedding is off! However, certain chicken dishes were looked forward to at our home. One of them was Sesame Chicken. Besides the flavor that soaked into the chicken during its cooking, the juices on the bottom of the roasting pan (Corning Ware in our case), turned crispy and made for scrapings after the meals. The boys would vie for who would get the tasty browned morsels in the bottom of the pan.
When the weather begins to cool down, I hope you’ll try this simple but tasty recipe for your family.
taken from the American Heart Association Cookbook Ballantine Books, New York adapted by Janis Van Keuren About 3 pounds of chicken pieces 1 large scoop of flour seasoned with paprika, salt, and pepper to taste 3 TBLS of minced green onions Heat oven to 375 degrees. Melt butter with oil in the baking pan. In the meantime, put the flour and seasonings in a storage bag. Shake each individual piece of chicken in the seasoned flour. Roll pieces in the melted oil in the bottom of the baking pan and place them skin side down or face down for the side you will want facing up when you serve it. Leave room between the pieces. Sprinkle with half of the lemon juice and half of the sesame seeds. Bake 30 minutes. Turn chicken and sprinkle with the rest of the lemon juice, the sesame seeds and the minced onions. Pour wine gently over the chicken pieces and cook for 30 to 45 minutes longer. (45 minutes yields those crispy morsels in the bottom of the pan) Linking with Food on Fridays Share: Share what you have enjoyed.