Peanut Butter Play Dough: For Grown-Ups too!

3 ingredients:

4 cups ground oats (oats can be easily ground in a blender, coffee maker, or food processor)

1 cup raw honey

1 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter-sometimes a little more or less. I use a natural unsweetened version so my peuanut butter tends to be more runny than a brand with sugar added, that does make a difference in the amount of peanut butter.

Mix ingredients together, a hand mixer makes is quick. Add more peanut butter or honey to reach desired dough texture and sweetness.

This is a simple, healthy, and fun lunch or snack for little ones. My children love the adventure of being allowed to play with their food.

I love to use this recipe on the go too by rolling the dough into balls. It is a great afternoon snack for growing bodies too.

For grown-ups chunky peanut butter can be nice, raisins or mini chocolate chips can also be included. I have even rolled the balls in coconut at times. It is truly a great base for experimentation.

Hoarding Has Never Been Preparing

We had enough Rice Krispies in the box for one more bowl of cereal. It is a special treat. Every child around the table was eyeing that box as it sat on our table for breakfast this morning. They began fighting over who should have the last bowl. They all wanted it, and sharing wasn’t an option. The squabbling continued until I stopped them…

“Girls! what you are doing right now is what is causing so much trouble in our world today!” They looked at me with questioning eyes. “Yes! I said. Grown-up people want certain things for themselves. They don’t want to go without. They are afraid there isn’t enough to share. Some of them are even fighting over those things…just like you.”

My mind raced back to the sweet old lady I encountered in the condiments aisle last week. She was nearly in tears having been to several stores, searching for a very specific bottle of mayonnaise. She didn’t want twenty, just one, that one brand she was particularly fond of eating… And the shelf was empty.

It should not be. We Christians should not have any part to do with that crisis. Who knows what that dear lady had been exposed to as she searched store to store for her necessities.

As Christians, we should adapt our living to make life easier for others; not play a part in complicating other’s lives. We can make it by with whatever is left of the shelves, we can run from store to store to find milk, we can come up with creative ideas if we run out of toilet paper. Don’t make the scared single, working mom do that, certainly not the ninety-year-old widow who can barely shuffle in the door, or even the other multitudes of terrified souls out there who do not have the Rock of Christ to anchor their hearts in during this time. We have it all, we should not even entertain the thought of buying more than we need right now.

I pointed to the other options on the table. They were less favored by the children, Raisin Bran, Cheerios, Shredded Wheat…There was plenty of cereal, no child would be hungry. My children’s eyes were wide as they reflected on our recent grocery trip and the empty shelves they saw. I waited for the concept to sink in and prayed they would choose wisely. One by one, they each picked another option. I poured out the cereals, and put the untouched box of Rice-Krispies back in the cupboard. There is still enough left for one more bowl…

My children had more sense in their heads than most of grown-ups today. I choose not stockpile anything. In fact I avoided the grocery stores completely for two weeks. My husband did brave one to pick me up a couple of gallons of milk for our tot, but other than that, I simply did not see the need to go out in that chaos. Honestly, we have enough on hand. It might not be first choice, but we will not be going hungry.

For those of us who have homemaking as a career, stocking up right now is particularly selfish. We work at home, we know how much our family needs in a weeks time. Some families are struggling so much in making wise purchase decisions because that are unfamiliar with what their family will need in for two weeks. There are busy families out there who do not even know how to plan meals, cook and the thought of what to eat on a daily basis is frustrating. When I do that sort of thing every day, why should I take food away from such scared people?

I am not saying my cupboards are bare. I keep enough on hand on a regular basis due to my shopping methods. We might be eating up the turkeys I picked up around Thanksgiving for .30 cents a pound for the next couple months, but we will not starve. Turkey meatloaf, turkey soup, turkey casserole, turkey pot pie…any other ideas? I have a food processor and honestly, pulverizing roasted turkey makes the most excellent turkey meatloaf… If we run out of toilet paper, a spray bottle of water in each bathroom could do the cleaning work , with a bit of air drying…I have thought through a few “plan B’s” and am at peace.

well, since I did not go to the grocery store for two weeks in hopes the senselessness would have died down by the time I needed to get supplies. This past Friday, I ventured to a grocery store for the first time since the stockpiling crisis began. I prayed and prayed even the night before shopping, and again with the children before we went out that morning. I prayed that the Lord would provide our family with our needs for the upcoming week. I was prepared to make do with whatever I found at the store. We would figure something out. Everything I needed was on the shelves, including toilet paper! The Lord simply provided for our family’s most basic weekly needs in less than one hour of shopping.

Proverbs 32: 20 and 21 has come to my mind so often through this season of fearful greed.

She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet.”

Virtue begins in the heart, it has nothing to do with the size of a pantry, but the generous spirit a God centered homemaker has.

I can be generous and not fearful for a season of cold and difficulty of finding necessities. I prepare daily food for my family, and have been preparing meals for those in church and neighborhood who may need them over the next couple months. Hopefully they like turkey! And as for being prepared, I am not really talking about about keeping a freezer full of food, but having an innovative mindset! I am not afraid, because we will think of something amazing.

In 1999, many families stocked up seeds, and food in case the world crumbled when the computers rolled over to 2000. I struggled with that concept twenty years ago. What would happen if our neighbors had not stored provisions? Would we give them our supply, or defend our stuff? Would we be prideful that we had prepared and others had not? Did our security rest in a freezer full of wheat berries and a handful of seeds? Yet, wasn’t it wise to be prepared? As I grow older, I have settled in my mind, that being prepared has far more to do with our mindset in life than our material state of affairs. It is an ability to cope, ingenuity, and joy during the difficult seasons of life. That is wlorth far more than a dozen cans of corn.

As a mother, am I preparing my children to be okay with having the same meal daily for weeks on end? I do not want my children to hoard food, toys, or even clothing, but children who are so filled with compassion, that they seek ways to give, even their favorites to others. I have had to search my own heart during this season? Am I grateful for everything I eat, or am I too choosy? Am I prepared to donate my last roll of toilet paper to my neighbor who has none, and go without for my whole family? Is my job as a home-maker to protect my family’s provisions, or to share them with others? I doubt when I come to the judgement seat that God will congratulate me for filling my pantry for my family in a troubled time. That hardly seems valuable in the light of eternity.

I realize, there is wisdom in being prepared and ready for whatever lies ahead, but that doesn’t begin when there is a pandemic. That is a way of life. I am, with an open hand, always purchasing bulk deals. That is why I have three turkeys in my freezer, 30# of whole wheat flour, and twenty jars of peanut butter. It is not because a pandemic happened, but because they are items we can use at a very good price. It caused no one to suffer by my purchasing them months ago. That is very different than running to the store, spending money that is not in my budget to fill up a barn I do not even have.

The Parable Jesus told of the Rich Fool has often come to mind as I read stories of people filling their freezers and pantries and going out to buy more….

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:13-21

Hoarding is something godless people do. We Christian’s do not be needing to buy more than we need. We should be the ones going out to buy necessities for our neighbors, giving our last roll of toilet paper to the family next door, and using what God has already given us to bless others in their times of need. Right now, I am working on cooking up some of those turkeys and that flour and filling my freezer with home-made bread soups and casseroles. I am cooking a bit extra on a daily basis. I am not making extra food with my family in mind, but for those we know who may fall ill in the near future or for neighbors who might have difficulty finding food or be at high risk and fearful to go out. My job is not to provide for my family, that is God’s job. And I know He already has provided. I have already seen Him do it…over and over. My job is to be a tool He can use to provide for others.

Hoarding supplies and food is for the faithless and fearful, it is not for us who know Christ.

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. hey are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. I Timothy 6:17-19

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.‘ As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. James 4:13-17

Everyday Lentil Soup

8 servings


1 Cup Lentils-any kind

1 chopped tomato

Handful of spinach or a bit more…

1 slivered onion

6 cloves of garlic-chopped

2 sliced sweet peppers

2 cups cabbage

Salt-to taste-I cooked mine up, and added a bit more. Roughly 1 Tablespoon for my pot.

Pepper as desired

3 T. Coconut aminos or Worcester sauce

3 cups Chicken stock

1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional but adds amazing flavor and immunity boosting B vitamins)

I used the instant pot for this entire process, but it could be done on the stove or crock pot too.

1) Saute onions, peppers, and chopped garlic.

2) Add in cabbage, spinach, and tomato
3) Pour in stock, seasonings, and lentils
4) Put the lid on and cook
5) Cook for 2 hours in an instant pot, 4-6 hours in a slow cooker or on low on the stove

Enjoy this wholesome soup and have fun experimenting with other veggies in your fridge.

Mushrooms would be good in it…more tomatoes…if you want meat, a bit of turkey sausage…

This pot of soup had a great flavor profile to work with.

How COVID-19 Sparks My Gratitude

It is easy to become bitter, fearful, complain, stress, and simply be frustrated during this unfolding corona drama in history. I began a list of things that make me grateful for this experience. I know there are hundreds more bullets that could be added to this ongoing list, so please post your thoughts below!

  1. Our children seem to be spared from this virus. Very few children under eighteen even contract the virus, and if they do, the get a mild case and recover quickly!
  2. We live in a scientific age! One hundred years ago, such a virus would have seemed hopeless. But with every day scientists across the world are closer to confirming vaccinations and medication to treat the virus.
  3. COVID-19 has begun in medically advanced countries and not a third world nation where the death toll would be far more expansive due to lack of intervention and science. And it could have gone undetected for much longer than it did too!
  4. The reconnecting of family is happening. In countries where families are divided, both parents work, where life never stops, where people are loosing touch with reality…something too microscopic for the human eye to see has put a stop to everything. Families are resting, staying home, eating together at home, and getting a much needed diversion from their absorbing schedules. This time at home is good for our generation.
  5. Seeing such an emphasis on uncertainty is where our minds should always rest, allowing us as Christians to depend fully on God for our future. When He is in control and we are not…that is the very best place to be.
  6. Lessons in frugality are already working out in our home as I have restricted our milk supply to the toddler. The other children can stick to water for a season. It is good for us to learn how to be less wasteful with food and possessions.
  7. Neighbors are connecting! If you live in a neighborhood like us, you may have already noticed that people being home and in a crisis together has caused a bit more conversations between those next door and us. Walls are coming down because we are all in this mess together.
  8. What an opportunity for us Christians to shine! We can share fearless, God dependent living with those around us who are terrified. I have already had a couple opportunities. One was at my daughter’s ballet lesson last week, when one of the other mother’s struck up a conversation about how scared she was. I was able to share with her how I knew how she felt, and I had a few moments of fear initially, but I was able to walk through my fears by resting in God’s sovereignty and reading facts…and forbidding my ears to absorb the fear based media. Fear breeds fear. And it is best to simply block our ears to fear by seeing our hearts on biblical truths! It is also a good time to meet the needs of those around us. Who knows, maybe there is someone in our neighborhood who did not stock up on toilet paper. Yes, that was supposed to be funny…
  9. Spring is here! What better time for a virus to pop out than in the grey cold of winter? Many people will be able to plant and grow food if needs be. Also, the magic of sunshine will do much to prevent cabin fever from causing depression. We can go for walks, garden, or simply picnic in our own yards!
  10. A renewed hunger for fellowship is coming! Yes, after a season of being unable to meet together as Christians, I grantee attending church will be a lot more meaningful in the future. And those who are challenged through this experience will be seeking truth.
  11. Our idolatry to comfort is being threatened. What are people so afraid of during this crisis? Is it death? Is it hunger? Is it poverty? I perceive the loss of comfort is more important to most people than life itself! Watching the hoarding that is taking place, I have observed that people don’t want to be without special foods, toilet paper, or easy meals! Honestly, four turkeys, some carrots, celery, and rice would easily provide a family of six lunch and dinner for an entire month…tack on a few pounds of oats and perhaps cinnamon, and there is breakfast. But that is not the way of our comfort driven society. For us Christians, it is a true test of our affection for comfort. This is so good for us!
  12. God is sovereign and always will sovereign in every chaotic event. Perhaps He is using this time to provoke obstinate hearts to think about Him? Death has a way of causing people to consider their life and its purpose. God is always in control, not us.

So let me ask you? What would you add to this list? What gratitude has entered your mind during this season of uncertainty?

“I am Not Afraid. I was Made For This” Joan of Arc

I was teaching my children a Bible lesson about Nehemiah last week and found my own heart convicted as I re-told the story to my children.

Nehemiah 2:11b “…And I told no one what my God had put into my heart to do for Jerusalem…” God took hold of Nehemiah’s heart and Nehemiah committed to do what God had moved him to do, which was re-build the walls of Jerusalem. Nehemiah lived in Babylon and had to ask permission from Xerxes, the king of Babylon to go build the walls. God worked in Xerxes heart, and he agreed to let Nehemiah go and build.

God enabled and prepared Nehemiah to do exactly what Nehemiah was meant to do. God surrounded Nehemiah with people to help him in doing the work ahead of him. Even the heart of the king of Babylon was prepared to help Nehemiah do God’s will.  Like the famous quote from Joan of Ark: “I do not fear the soldiers, for my road is made open to me; and if the soldiers come, I have God, my Lord, who will know how to clear the route that leads to messier the Dauphin. It was for this that I was born!” more simply stated: “I am not afraid; I was made for this.”

We are each a Nehemiah. God has given each of us walls to build, and we are each made and placed here on earth for a divine purpose. Whatever lies ahead, is what God has created us to walk through. He has equipped us with all that we need to do what He has given each of us to do. He will even turn hearts toward or against us as He is fit to bring about His purpose.

There is much comfort in God’s sovereignty….knowing that nothing is by chance…even my life. For me, although there is much I do not know about my purpose in this time and place, I do know what God has laid on my heart to do.

Jews recently celebrated Purim at the end of February. It is a holiday that is completely about God’s sovereignty over the hearts of people and events during the reign of King Xerxes. The book of Esther describes the events in detail. I love the wisdom given to Esther by her cousin Mordecai, when Esther struggled with going to see King Xerxes on behalf of the Jews. Mordecai gently reminded Esther of God’s sovereignty in Esther 4:14 “And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Oh to rest in that thought!

God has placed me here in this time, in this place, in this family, with this husband, children, and church…for such a time as this. God has given me the task of living out the gospel in my home, church, neighborhood…basically, in whatever circumstances He has placed me. That, leaning into grace, must be played out in my soul daily. Since, God has also placed me in a specific place in time, spot on the map, marriage to a certain man, mother of four souls, church, and neighborhood. This is the place and time and people I am called to live out the gospel.

And then, there is the state of my own soul. I am called to be a disciple of Christ…to follow Him.. .to rest in His sovereign grace for the continued sanctification of my heart. With that as the foundation for my actions, anything that distracts me from that calling is sin (Nehemiah 6:13).

Like Nehemiah, as I set about to do what God has called me to do, adversaries of God will appose me. The adversaries of God, play on my emotional, human weaknesses to gain foothold in my lives, with the ultimate goal of distracting, stalling, and preventing me from doing the work that has been “put into my heart to do.”

Ammonites, Sanballat and Tobiah felt threatened by the work Nehemiah had been sent by God and his king to do. They and did their best to prevent Nehemiah from building those walls. At first, Sanballat and Tobiah used harsh, unhappy complaints and untrue accusations. When the complaints and lies failed, Sanballat and Tobiah attempted to use fear to deceive Nehemiah into hiding.

I have since pondered the debilitating affect of distractions. There are ever so many! What distractions do I embrace? Is it fear? Do I run and hide, or arm myself as I I continue the work God has set for me to do? What is the enemy using in my life to bring fear, to prevent me from building the walls of my home? From pursuing faithfully in the task the Lord has given me to do? From listening to the calling God has laid on my heart? Lies….always lies…

I Peter 5:8 warns us of the dangers of lack of discernment and distractions. “Have sound judgment. Be alert. Your adversary, the Devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” EHV. Let me indulge this Biblical illustration from nature a bit. A Lion is a very skilled hunter. The lion is a large, loud creature, except when he is prowling. Anyone who has watched a nature documentary has seen a lion go into a stealth, hunting mode. He watches, and waits patiently…eyes slowly studying his prey. The lion seeks out the easiest targets, the young…weak…old…those separated from the herd, the unprotected, distracted, and those who are too engrossed in an activity to be alert….those who lack the wisdom to discern danger.

For a time, part of my calling is to protect four young, and weak little lambs. For me, as the mother, not to be on watchful guard against adversaries, puts my young at great risk. I am also to be alert for my own safety. Staying close to the herd, means being close to other Christians. The Shepherd watches over the herd carefully, and being near Him is also of upmost importance.

Back to Nehemiah… his discernment of the attempted deceit of the enemy is admirable. I believe he was able to make a wise decision because of his confidence in God and what God had called him to do. Instead of running to hide, Nehemiah armed himself and his men and continued to build the walls, ready to fight at a moment’s notice.

Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.” Nehemiah 4:18a , Nehemiah 4:21 “So we labored at the work, and half of them held the spears from the break of dawn until the stars came out. I also said to the people at that time, ‘Let every man and his servant pass the night within Jerusalem, that they may be a guard for us by night and may labor by day.’ So neither I nor my brothers nor my servants nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us took off our clothes; each kept his weapon at his right hand. And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built.” 

But even though he was armed, Nehemiah’s enemies were bent on preventing his work from continuing. They made up lies and attempted to drive fear into his heart. Sanballat hoped fear would weaken Nehemiah’s judgement and he would run to hide!

Nehemiah 6:9 “For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, ‘Their hands will drop from the work, and it will not be done.’ But now, O God, strengthen my hands.” Recognizing lies that are meant to distracts us from the task. Nehemiah 6:10-14 Now when I went into the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, son of Mehetabel, who was confined to his home, he said, ‘Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple. Let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you. They are coming to kill you by night.’ But I said, ‘Should such a man as I run away? And what man such as I could go into the temple and live? I will not go in.’ And I understood and saw that God had not sent him, but he had pronounced the prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. For this purpose he was hired, that I should be afraid and act in this way and sin, and so they could give me a bad name in order to taunt me. Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, O my God, according to these things that they did, and also the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who wanted to make me afraid.” Nehemiah 6:19 “Also they spoke of his good deeds in my presence and reported my words to him. And Tobiah sent letters to make me afraid.

So like many other followers of Christ, I find myself constantly distracted from the work God has set before me to do. Sometimes those distractions take place completely in my head as I allow my mind to dwell on thoughts that are untrue or out of my control. Other times, it is a text message, a piece of news…I have found even good things can be completely wrong if that is not what God has tasked me to do! Like Nehemiah, I pray for discernment and wisdom as I am constantly bombarded by the enemy with distractions, fears, and lies that would consume my soul and make me unable to fulfill what God desires I do! I also need to be fully committed, and confident of God’s calling in my life. I will be easily swayed if I am unsure about what God has for me to do. It is possible to be confident in each of our callings. We might not be an apostle like Paul. But we can certainly have the same confidence as we rest in God’s sovereign alignment of circumstances, people, and locations where we are.




Tilapia Salad

This recipe is simple and makes a great, low fat, high protein lunch for one person.

1 Tilapia-poached in water (I boil mine right from the freezer for 4-5 minutes, then drain the water-the fish should simply flake into melted goodness)
2 chopped green onions
2 chopped celery stalks
1/2 c. Nonfat Greek yogurt
3 triangles laughing cow cheese
2 t. Garlic powder
1 T dill
1 t salt
Sliced tomato

1 Slice sprouted whole grain bread or two Wasa crackers

Mix the onions, celery, yogurt, cheese, garlic, dill, and salt into a salad mixture. Add drained, warm tilapia and mix.

Spread on bread or crackers and top with a thin slice of tomato.

I enjoyed this for lunch today with a side of fresh papya and spinach topped with balsamic vinigar. Healthy, easy, and delicious.

If you are unfamiliar with tilapia, it is a mild flavored white fish. It is low in fat, compared to salmon which is a fattier fish. I buy mine frozen and keep it in the freezer, simply because frozen fish is more affordable for my family. The flavor is so mild, it would probably suit the pallet of more fussy fish eaters. Yet the fish is rich in healthy omegas our bodies all need.

Sunday Evening Snacktime

We started a tradition when my children were little. Actually, it was a tradition in my home when I grew up. I just kept it for my family. Instead of having a regular dinner Sunday evening, we snack.

I simply pull out whatever I have and lay out a spread for the evening. Very often, that spread includes a bowl of popcorn. Always fresh cut veggies and fruit are in the table. And some protiens like cubed cheese, ham, boiled eggs, or peanut butter on sprouted wheat bread.

My children are allowed one sweet after they have eaten an ample amount of veggies and protien. The sweet may be cookies, an ice-cream cone, or a leftover dessert we have on hand.

I love the Sunday evening spread because it takes the brainwork out of the evening meal. I find it nice to always know we are simply having snacks and no forethought is needed.

I also find it nice to have the veggies prepped for the week. I chop up a lot of veggies Sunday night. What isn’t eaten, I can use the upcomibg week for omelets, lunches, salads, casseroles, and snacking. It is nice to have washed and cut veggies ready for use.

Sunday evening is also a good time to eat up leftovers. I can cut up leftover pizza, peanut butter play-doh, deli meats, hot-dogs, and warm up rolls, or muffins.

My children like to graze Sunday evenings. They look forward to an evening of stress free eating. Other than eating protien and veggies, there are no limits to what they can have and they will not be made to eat something they don’t like. They also can eat all evening long which is simply fun.

Sometimes we get together with other couples to play games Sunday evening. It is easy for me to prep and a fun way to share an evening with friends too.

If we do invite guests, I will probably plan a little more as to what snacks we have for the evening and include more protien like chicken wings or chicken salad on croissants.

And that is it, my non-complicated, relaxing tradition for Sunday evening.

Another Story About God

After hearing a preacher speak at an evangelistic meeting at our small Baptist church in the country, I asked my mother to pray with me to ask Jesus to forgive my sins. I was seven. I do not remember a thing about that moment, other than the story has been told to me by my mother long enough to create its own memory. At seven, I didn’t know the extent of my sins, only that I did bad things. At seven, I didn’t understand the extent of what Christ did in my place on the cross or even what “the gospel” truly meant. I only understood Jesus loved me and died on the cross for me because I was a sinner, and I also knew I did not want to go to hell when I died. Like many children raised in Christian homes, the thought of hell terrified me; along with the guilt I felt due to my sins. My thoughts of hell and my feelings of guilt brought many whispered prayers in the night…often asking Jesus that, “if I wasn’t already saved and forgiven, that He would forgive me now.”

The small Baptist church we attended was a classic in its time, every sermon ended with an alter call, the choir was the place to display one’s musical gifts, and people dressed up for church like it was a social event. Sadly that is all church was to most people. Many of my Sunday School teachers did not know much doctrine beyond what was presented in the Regular Baptist Press Sunday School curriculum. I remember once asking my Sunday School teacher why God created me. She seemed a little surprised by my question, and answered that “Maybe God was lonely and wanted friends.” I thought that sounded good, and didn’t visit that question again for a long time. And so melding humanism and Scripture began in my thinking even as a child.

In my teens, I began to focus on good works in an effort to draw closer to God. I read my Bible daily, spent time in prayer, and for a time, wore clothing that resembled the Mennonite and Amish people we lived near in Pennsylvania at the time…yes, I even wore a head covering! I felt God was truly pleased with my conservative ways.

Still, I was oblivious to the fact that I was seeking spiritual peace through my works instead of resting only in Christ for my salvation and sanctification. I prided myself in my plainness, modesty, simplicity, piety, and anything else I invented that made me feel closer to God.

Mother’s, though imperfect, can have insight into the hearts of their children that no one else has. My mother saw the contradictions in my life and heart and gently pulled me aside one day and, as Yankees do well, she bluntly spoke truth into my floundering mind. She pointed out my faults…the faults like my unkind speech, controlling nature, and lack of basic tenderness toward others due to my overblown self-image. After getting a glimpse of my true self, I remember feeling very much like a failure. The headscarf came off immediately, and I began thinking through the motivations for every behavior.

In my college years, my faith deepened as the Lord began to provide spiritual mentors in my life. Due to the friendships of some extraordinary older women, I began to see a glimpse of what it meant to live out the gospel (although that term was never used.) Grace began to become something I not only partook of, but was learning to live out what had been poured so generously on my life.

One day, while I was preparing to move on from my current place of work, my mother asked me how she could pray for me that coming week. I told her to “Please pray my husband would ask me out this week.” It was a very specific yet heartfelt prayer. Because my hunger was to marry and mother children, but I was getting older and those days were numbered. And I did not want to waste my youth in a waiting mindset. That very week a young man did ask me out! In six months, I was married to that man.

Jim had a different perspective on Scripture than me, in that He was reformed in his theology. Reformed theology was a unimportant in my opinion, so I certainly didn’t let that prevent me from marrying him. And thankfully he married me despite my lethargy about that portion of doctrine.

A year after our marriage, Jim and I were led by God to help a close pastor friend plant a church in the Midwest. The Lord provided Jim with a job that came with a free apartment if he would work maintenance for the landlord. So, Jim quit the job where he was thriving, and started in a new field of work. We felt we were making a big sacrifice to leave good jobs and family, but the Lord had in mind to bring about in our lives a blessing we had no idea existed…a church family.

Up to that point in our lives, church was truly and event and tradition, even though we believed it was biblical to attend, we missed seeing it as an essential part of our faith. In fact, both Jim and I found church very frustrating and our Christian brothers and sisters to be full of contradictions. In Nebraska, there are few traditional believers or pretend Christians. For instance, when I got hired on for my new job after our move, knowing that I was a woman of faith, the owner made it clear that she was not a religious person and would say words that might offend me. Which she did. It was actually refreshing to be around non-believers with no religious pretenses.

Our dear church grew very quickly. Being so far from our family those first years of marriage was also extremely healthy for our relationship with each other. We grew closer to God and to each other out of necessity.

But it was the family of the church that provided the greatest avenue for Spiritual growth. We were surrounded by people, who truly cared for the state of our souls. We had people praying with us and for us as we walked with God. As other Christian’s poured their wisdom into my life, my heart began to grasp biblical truths it had never before seen, and an excitement about the truths of God’s Word and the Gospel began to sprout in my heart.

One day, an older lady I met with regularly for studying Scripture and prayer, brought my attention to a sermon by an old-time preacher named, Paris Reidhead called “Ten Sheckles and a Shirt.” I listened to that sermon over and over with tears. Something clicked in my heart for the first time, as I realized my idolatry. In that Sermon, Reidhead brought up the humanistic thinking that had infiltrated the American church and I saw it abundantly in my own faith.

Questions that Reidhead brought into my head taunted my mind. Did I follow Christ only because He has promised me salvation and heaven? I concluded that God is worthy of my lifelong worship and praise even if my destiny was to be hell for my sins. The idea that God did not need me also became a reality. Even the concept, that a person is helpless to receive redemption without the drawing of the Holy Spirit (John 6:44), and that even the faith to believe is a gift of God (Eph. 2:8-9) permeated every thought. And to know that Christ did not redeem mankind to fix an unexpected mishap, but that redemption was God’s amazing plan before He created the world! (Eph. 1:4, Ro. 8:29…). God’s sovereignty began to make its appearance to me through Scripture.

I focused my thinking on the sovereignty of God, and spent hours in awe and as my heart began to understand a bit about God’s sovereign grace, and the concept that God choose me. I devoured doctrine and Scripture as though seeing it for the first time. Scripture suddenly made sense as it was placed in the perspective of devotion to God’s glory. I realized Christ did not come to redeem me for me, but for Himself. I had, without meaning too, crossed over to what many Christians call reformed thinking. Scripture passages fell into place under the perspective of God’s sovereignty. My life and all its circumstances took on a meaning beyond myself. To me, it was a turning from the humanistic perspective I had about God, Scripture, and my place in it all, and a simple resting in the God who created and ordained all things for His glory.

As my understanding grew, so did an ache in my heart for my friends and family, neighbors, my children, who must also come to realize that EVERYTHING is about God, not about us! My heart resonates with Paul “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” Rom. 11:33. Even now, I understand but a glimpse of those depths and my heart is amazed. My theology up to that point had been so man-centered…humanistic, but the truths that John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, and modern-day John Piper brought to my understanding from Scripture, sunk deep into my heart. My perspective turned from its humanistic marriage with Scripture to seeing Scripture through its goal to bring God glory. I still feel I have been playing doctrinal catch-up as I study Scripture up to this day.

After seven years, leaving our church family in the Midwest was truly the deepest grief we have ever felt. But the Lord had made it clear we were meant to move, and so we followed His lead with hope of finding a similar fellowship in our new territory. We thought finding a good church would be easy, but it proved otherwise.

After a year, of seeking churches, we had found nothing. We needed to find something… so we settled at a conservative, Presbyterian church and joined. After engaging in small groups for a very short time, our hearts were greatly saddened to see the lack of value placed on Scripture. In fact, no one even opened a Bible during small groups. We were floundering spiritually, and finding our hearts living in discouragement. We knew we needed the fellowship of Christians along with sound Biblical preaching. So, continuing to fellowship with the small Presbyterian church, we also started attending Sunday evening services at a mega church in order to deepen our relationship with God. We debated joining the large church, but children were not welcome in small groups there, and we really wanted our children to be a part of the church, not just a Sunday School class. After a year of attending two churches, we began praying and seeking for a church again, but with little optimism.

A month into our new church search, Jim received a call from a head-hunter for a job interview. In a short time, the Lord once again asked us to move… this time, we were determined to find a church, so we could be close to the believers we fellowshipped.

We committed the matter of a church to prayer. Once evening, Jim was browsing on his phone one evening and came a across a post from an old college acquaintance. It was a post of a worship service. “Listen to this.” He showed me. After we listened, Jim said, “I wonder where his church is…” After looking it up and seeing the church was minutes from our new location, we planned a visit. We knew after our first visit we had finally found a church home. We still marvel at God’s work.

After a summer long transition, we are two months settled into our home and absolutely cherishing our new church family and looking forward to seeing what the Lord will do in our hearts and lives as we seek Him and continue to grow.

I am in awe of what God does and how He truly encompasses our ways in life to not only physically place us in a position to draw closer to Him, but how He orchestrates every event to even give us a hunger for Himself. It is all about Him…truly everything is all about Him!

Like Mary, in Luke 1:48-50: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.” Not because of anything I have done, but I rejoice in Him because of what He has done for His glory.