Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Recipe For A Favorite Childhood Treat

As a child this was one of my fave after-school snacks probably because it was easy and I could make them in the microwave or the oven. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

BAKED APPLE RECIPE

INGREDIENTS
4 tart green apples
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Scoop out the core from top of the apple, leaving a well. Do not cut all the way through. Stuff each apple with 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 1 tablespoon butter. Place in a shallow baking dish and sprinkle with cinnamon.
Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, until sugar begins to caramelize and apples are tender.

Monday, October 29, 2007

A Couple Days Late Friday Five!

1. How did you celebrate this time of year when you were a child? We usually dressed in Halloween costumes. Mom would take us out Trick or Treating!Then Mom and Dad would sort through our candy to make sure it was safe and stuff.

2. Do you and/or your family “celebrate” Halloween? Why or why not? And if you do, has it changed from what you used to do? Yeah we celebrated Halloween and no it hasnt really changed.

2. Candy apples: Do you prefer red cinnamon or caramel covered? Or something else? Caramel covered of course!

3. Pumpkins: Do you make Jack O’ Lanterns? Any ideas of what else to do with them? I haven't made a Jack O'Latern in a long time!

4. Do you decorate your home for fall or Halloween? If so, what do you do? Bonus points for pictures. No not really.

5. Do you like pretending to be something different? Does a costume bring our an alternate personality? I like dressing up and no it doesnt bring about an alternate personality.

Bonus: Share your favorite recipe for an autumn food, particularly apple or pumpkin ones. I can't really think of one at this moment. Sorry! I think I've caught a cold or something...not feeling the greatest today! I'll try to think of a recipe and will post it later!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sermon Time Again!

“If you build it, they will come.” // “If you build it, they will come”// Ray Kinsella hears this voice and believes that he is to build a baseball field on his farm. These persistent words produce results from Ray as he builds that baseball field complete with lights for night games and bleachers for spectators.// Ray continually searches for the answer to the voice. He doesn’t care what others including his own wife think of him. He is determined to find out what the purpose of the baseball field is.// And at the end of the movie “Field of Dreams,” we see cars almost as numerous as the stars in heaven heading towards that “promised” baseball field because of Ray’s determination and persistence!

In today’s gospel text, the widow is just as persistent and determined as Ray. She will not take “no” for an answer.// She needs results.//And because the judge is worn down by her persistence and determination, he grants her plea.

Are we willing to be as persistent as Ray or the widow in our own prayers? // Or do we often expect an answer immediately---right this hour, minute or even second?// We all want God to answer us but often God grants our prayers in ways we don’t always expect// but are we willing to wait?

Patiently waiting for God to act is much easier said than done //especially in a society filled with high-tech gadgets that produce instantaneous results! // However beautiful and amazing things can happen when we take the time to wait for God to act!

One of the best examples for me happened during my January Term class at seminary. I was taking a class on Domestic Violence Against Women and Children. We spent the whole month touring different shelters, abuse centers, etc.// I remember one place in particular…Genesis house in Chicago! Genesis House is a home for women who have been living in prostitution. Genesis House takes these women off the street and helps them to get away from living this awful life. For them and their families, Genesis House has become a safe-haven for them….a new beginning.// However for these women’s families, Genesis House probably wasn’t what they were asking God for when they asked God to help their moms, sisters, wives, etc but in so many ways, Genesis House was a blessing in disguise for most of these families!

This blessing, in disguise, was a persistent and determined force that aided these women in escaping the clutches of prostitution.// One woman sat and told us her story. She told us of how her family kept asking her to leave this horrible life but she just couldn’t do it.// Until one day, Genesis House found her and brought her back to Genesis House. She spent the first few weeks living there without many privileges. One day her children called but she wasn’t able to take their call because she still had not earned that privilege so the Genesis House employee asked if she could take a message to their mother. They simply told the employee to tell their mom, “We are proud of you and love you dearly.” Immediately the tears fell from this broken woman’s eyes and within seconds, our entire J-term class was shedding tears with her. And as I look back on that moment, God blessed and healed her and her family, all whom waited patiently for God to act!

Now I’m not saying that this woman was blessed because she was living in prostitution//but what I am saying is that because her family waited and trusted God to act, the results were beyond their expectations!//Can you think of a time when God gave you results beyond your expectations?// How did that blessing help you to grow in your faith?//Did that blessing help you to continue to pray without ceasing and to never lose heart?

For me, my mom’s illness has been an event in my life that has helped me to continue to persevere in prayer and never lose heart.//Growing up, I know that I definitely struggled with her illness.// I remember asking God to take the illness away.// I remember asking many questions of God and they are best expressed in the words of this poem I wrote:

My heart is breaking
You seem so helpless,
And I want answers.

I want to know “Why You?”
I want to know “Why our family?”
I just simply want to know
Yet I still
Have no answers.

And without those answers,
I ache,
I ache for all the pain,
I ache for God to tell me “Why?”
I ache in so many ways
But I mostly
Ache for the fact
That I call you “mom”
And that I am
Powerless to this illness
That consumes
You.


These powerful words are words that were written because I wasn’t willing to wait for God to act.//However over time, God’s response helped me to see that my mom’s illness would help me connect and start relationships with others who had experienced the same illness in their families.//What an amazing gift when we are willing to wait…on the Lord!

God acted for each and every one of us when God sent God’s Beloved Son to die on the cross for all of us. His death on the cross tells us of the magnificent love God has for all of God’s children, // a love that gives us the courage to continue on, persevere, and not lose heart.//So the next time we feel like giving up, remember that perseverance and determination does
pay off//just like they did for Ray and the widow in today’s gospel text.

Because of their persistence, they were able to move beyond their obstacles.// They were able to trust God and see that God has the power; a power that only God has the capacity to understand.

God uses God’s power to answer our prayers in ways we often don’t expect or even understand. In fact, I truly believe that we aren’t fully skilled to understand what God has planned for each one of God’s children.// A seminary classmate talks about how she was (and is) persistent in prayer and still lost her husband to cancer. She can’t fully understand why God took her husband from her yet she trusts God and continues to be persistent in prayer!


And so I leave you with these words from Christian music artist Aaron Shust, “ I am not skilled to understand what God has willed, what God has planned, I only know at his right hand stands one who is my Savior.” // And this Savior is the one who brings amazing blessings when we persevere…and wait on him!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I Need Some Sunshine!

The weather here has been so rainy. It just won't quit. I need me some sun! It's rained for like three days straight! YUCK! It's been a crazy week. I am preaching on Sunday since Pastor will not be there due to a death in his family. I am glad to preach but boy did I struggle with this week's texts. Some times it comes so easily and other times I get so frustrated because it just doesn't come! And on another note, I'm so excited! I get to see Aaron Schust and MercyMe in concert a week from tomorrow! WOO HOO! I'm taking youth from my church. It should be a lot of fun. Hope you all are staying dry and aren't being rained on. Have a great day!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Remembering All Affected by Mental Illness

October always brings about interesting emotions for me! I love the change fall brings in. The leaves changing hues of red,orange,and yellow in late Sept/early Oct. I love how fall reminds me about how change can be good! But probably the thing I think about the most in Oct is mental illness. Mentall Illness Awareness Week takes place in Oct. From what I've seen, few congregations put inserts in their bulletin or use a litany for mental illness! Now it could be that the churchs I have attended have had limited experience with the illness. However what they probably don't realize is more people than they realize are affected by this horrible illness! In fact, it has shocked me how many people have a relative, friend, etc who have been affected by this illness. And for those new to this blog, I too have been affected by the illness. My mom had a nervous breakdown after my sister was born. Growing up I don't remember a time when mom wasn't in the hospital. The illness reared its ugly head at least once a year (or more. However the illness truly has helped me become the woman I am today. My mom has never given up. She is one of the strongest women I know! She doesn't let her illness get in her way. I know it hasn't been easy for her but she still has reminded so strong! So when October and Mental Illness Awareness Week roll around, I am reminded once again about this illness and how it has affected my family and so many others out there so I ask that you all take the time to pray for those individuals and their friends and family affected every day by mental illness! (If you want to learn more about my family's story, check out my blog entry from a year ago)

You can also find more information about NAMI (The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) at www.nami.org.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Sermon Time!

So I told you all about giving my first sermon at my new call. Well here it is! I used the reading from 1 Timothy 6:6-19. I hope you all like it! I love to write but writing a sermon can be such hard work.Know that the name of the SO athlete has been changed to protect her. Looks like I will be preaching again on Reformation Sunday!


Gracious God, May the words on my lips and the meditations of my heart glorify your name alone. To yours be the glory forever and ever. Amen!

In the Farrelly Brothers movie “The Ringer,” Johnny Knoxville plays a character who pretends to be a Special Olympics athlete because he believes it is the only race he can win. However the Special Olympics athletes catch on to him and convince him to continue to compete so he can beat the one athlete they all hate…the jerk, the mean one, the enemy.// Now I’m not saying that we should lie for Special Olympics but what I am saying is that these athletes were fighting for something worth fighting for! And in the end, it is Johnny’s character that is blessed by these athletes by their faith, love, and gentleness.

It seems to me that these athletes understand what it meant to fight the good fight. They understand what it meant to run the race set before them no matter the obstacles placed in front of them. They truly know what it meant to “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness” in the midst of their lives.

It seems to me we also know what it means to fight the good fight// but do we always fight the “good” fight?// Or do we too often get caught up in the busyness of our own lives to trust that God is with us in the good fight?// In all honesty, I think we too often get caught up in our own lives to fight the good fight. However in today’s reading from Timothy, we are being called and challenged to fight the good fight in our own lives! And we can fight this good fight because of the transforming power bestowed upon us in our baptism.

In our baptism, God has claimed us as God’s children. This wonderful gift given to us by God transforms us by calling us to serve God’s people…whether it is the sick, the down-trodden, the lonely, the rich, or the poor. We are called to fight the good fight of faith among all God’s people.

Fighting the good fight of faith isn’t always the easiest thing. In fact, it is so much easier said than done!// Growing up my mom lived with a mental illness that landed her in the hospital at least once a year. I found myself keeping her illness quiet because of the stigma associated with the illness. I was afraid of how others would look at her and our family. I was afraid to fight the good fight of faith. I was scared to turn to God and ask for his love and care during this difficult time. Fighting the good fight was definitely so much easier said than done…that is…until some wonderful friends came into my life and taught me what it truly means to fight the good fight of faith.

So what does it mean to fight the good fight of faith? Is fighting the good fight turning to God during those challenging times? Is fighting the good fight opening God’s precious love letter to us---the Bible---to find comfort in God’s words? Is fighting the good fight turning to God in prayer when it seems so much easier said than done? Is fighting the good fight allowing God to bless us so others can be a blessing to us?

Can you think of times when you were blessed by others?// Who were these significant individuals in your life?// How did their blessing to you become a blessing to others? (Or have you held back?) For me, it was working at a Bible camp for seven summers. So often the children I served during the week blessed me more than I ever could imagine. However the greatest blessing is the gift God gave us in sending God’s one and only Son Jesus Christ to die for all of us! And through this wonderful blessing, we can see that love, beyond doubt, does flow from faith.

This love that flows from faith is a powerful love that allows us to fight the “good” fight of faith each and every day. It is a love that God gave us and continues to give us that helps allow for change. Through this love, God’s truth, and the Holy Spirit, we can see amazing things happen in our lives. We can use this love to fight the good fight of faith and stand up for people, events, etc in our lives that are worth fighting for.

How can blessings in our lives help us to fight the good fight of faith? Little did I know how big of an impact the Special Olympics athletes would have on my own life. However they are one of the many examples of how God’s love has helped me to be a blessing and example to others of how to fight the good fight.

It was the summer of 2005. I had just graduated from seminary and was looking for a place to do my field work. I sent letters and a resume to the Ronald McDonald House, the Ruth Myers Hospitality House, and Special Olympics North Dakota. I was praying that I would hear back from one of these organizations and eventually I did. Special Olympics North Dakota offered me a position to come work with them for the summer. Like I stated earlier, little did I know how big of an impact the Special Olympics athletes would have on my life. They taught me what it truly means to be a blessing to others.

Mary*, one of the Special Olympics athletes, taught me what it truly means to be a blessing to others. She fights the good fight each and every day. She lives in an apartment building and one morning while showering a stray bullet went through her window and hit her. She was shot. Mary though was able to move past this unfortunate incident and continues to fight the good fight. She is only one of the many examples of how these individuals fight the good fight and are a blessing to all those around them. Her injury could have been so much worse. However it was not, God had blessed her. She was able to live her life and stand up for something worth fighting for!

These little blessings help us to stand tall, to listen to what God is saying to us, and to fight the good fight of faith that is set before us. By fighting the good fight of faith together---through the power of God’s love, spirit, and truth---we can make a difference in the world just like those Special Olympics athletes do each and every day.// Through God’s love, the blessings bestowed upon us, by fighting for all that is worth fighting for//, we all in the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “can be the change we wish to see in the world.” Amen!