Blog: *It's Where I Begin... we can only start from where we stand each day


The Wonder of It All

This is a photo of Ethan, our newest nephew.
He is one of 5 nieces and 3 nephews we absolutely adore.

I can't stop looking at this photo.
It stirs my heart in ways I can't quite express. Anyone with me?

Perhaps it's his sweet gaze. Or maybe the dancing lights behind his fuzzy baby hair.  

I so easily forget how the Lord uses images to stir something deep within me.  This photo does just that.

Pause for a moment...
What do you see?

When I look at this photo, I see a boy looking adoringly at his father. His gaze speaks trust.
He knows his father.

His father deeply loves him.

As I begin to contemplate the coming of the Lenten season, this photo reminds me of an old hymn. Even if it's familiar, read it again slowly:

How deep the Father's love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He would give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross
My guilt upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no powr's, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

How beautiful.  How painful.  How simply grateful it makes me.

I have been blessed to be in the company of many great fathers. It has been an absolute joy to watch my brother become a father for the first time this year. He joins the ranks of both of my brothers-in-law who are also excellent fathers.  I love seeing these men love and adore their children.  They would do anything for them.

I am drawn again to this photo and the hymn.  If these earthly fathers love their children this much, how much more does our heavenly Father love us?  I can't help but think that Jesus loved and trusted his Father just as much as sweet Ethan's eyes reflect. Do I trust my Father with the same abandon?  Do I trust His son?

Lord, continue to stir the deep places of our hearts. Remind us of your love.  Thank you for your sacrifice.


Cashew Chicken and Veggies

This is a picture of  leftovers from last night-
still tastes just as good!
I haven't been one to post recipes on my blog yet, but this one is too good to pass up.  I found the original recipe from a pretty picture on Pinterest.

The original recipe used a crock pot, but I changed it up since I got started late. (I also skipped the step of coating the chicken in flour and browning.)  The red pepper flakes add a little kick to it but it's not too spicy.

4 chicken breasts, cubed
1 cup cashews
Frozen or fresh stir fry veggies
2Tbsp canola oil
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
4 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
4 Tbsp ketchup
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
(1 tsp grated ginger- optional)

Using a wok, cook chicken cubes in olive oil and some sprinkled black pepper. Add veggies and cook to your liking.  In a separate bowl, mix sauce ingredients and add to cooked chicken and veggies.  Add cashews.  Serve with steamed rice or noodles.  This recipe took about 30 minutes total prep and cooking time.

Let me know what you think. Enjoy!


Retreat: Encountering the Wall

Last spring I hosted my first Art & Soul Care retreat as a part of my thesis project at Denver Seminary.  I am honored and blessed to say that I am hosting another- this time in Greeley!  The two day retreat (two consecutive Saturdays) is centered around those who are facing a Wall in their spiritual life.

The retreat uses elements of spiritual formation and creative expression to work through this often difficult stage in the spiritual journey.  The Wall is often lonely, dark, and full of questions about ourselves, our faith, and our God.  The Wall often comes out of a time of transition or extreme busyness.

Because the Wall is an isolating experience, it is incredibly helpful to sit with a group of those who are either in a Wall or coming out of one. 

This retreat is for both artists and the creatively challenged!  

The retreat is being held on Saturdays November 3 & 10.  I have created a retreat flyer with more information for those who are interested.  Or, I can be emailed for more information as well. 

Sign up is limited, so please contact me soon!


Polishing Brass

My brass lamp: a work in progress
Heath and I are preparing to have some guests for the weekend- three of the smallest, cutest guests I know and their parents who I couldn't live without.  It has been our goal to have our home ready this weekend for everyone to see.  It has been a work in progress to be sure.

Heath had to go into work for a few hours this morning so I planned to get a few more things done. And yes, I'm procrastinating on vacuuming.

That's when I starting polishing.  I thought it would be a quick project.  I have polished silver before and thought this would be easy.  Does anyone else enjoy the same satisfaction of seeing the shiny surface return from underneath the dark tarnish? It's a chore I don't mind doing.

Until I decided to tackle a very old brass lamp that was a hand-me-down from my great aunt.  It's a beautiful lamp that was in great need of some attention.  It turns out the tarnish was much thicker than I thought.

Like our lives, we think we've made some progress and have become more pure, more sanctified.  While this is true indeed, there is always more tarnish to get rid of.  A wise friend recently reflected this week that the closer you get to Jesus, the more aware you become of your sin (tarnish).

It's not that he is trying to point out all our faults in order to bring shame.  Rather, he is working to sanctify us to be more like him.  To love like him. To see like him.  To hear like him.

As our tarnish is exposed we have two choices.  We can turn back and live with the ugly tarnish encasing our hearts.  Or we can turn to him.

He's a master with that polishing cloth and loves to see things made new.


Pulling Weeds

Sometimes the weeds are beautiful in their own right,
but need to be pulled none the less
(photo taken last summer in Westminster, CO)
At the beginning of the month we moved.  While we were moving I was experiencing what Heath called “mover’s remorse.”  It’s that feeling of being overloaded with boxes, the exhaustion of packing and lifting, and continually wondering if you made the right choice.  Thankfully, mover’s remorse is temporary.

Once we were officially done with the old and moved into the new, we knew we had made the right choice.  The home we are renting is beautiful. It has more room, more light, and generally feels like an upgrade in every way.  One of the many perks is the little yard we have in the front and in the back.  This perk also means more work, but is a price we are more than willing to pay.

This morning I went outside to pull some of the weeds I had been avoiding.  I started to think about the age old analogy of how we can also have weeds in our personal lives.  For me, one of my biggest weeds is procrastination.  The irony is thick in this case because the more I procrastinated on pulling the weeds in our front lawn, the more weeds I had to deal with today.

I realized that many of the weeds in both my life and in our yard seem to pop up in some of the healthiest areas of growth.  It’s like the weeds instinctively know that they will be well fed and nourished if they weasel their way in with the green grass. In some cases we are less likely to pull those weeds because the grass is still growing green and strong.  That is, until the weeds begin to multiply and take over. 

Much like procrastination, the more you ignore the weeds at first, the more you have to pull later.  The weeds have to be dealt with one way or another.  What are some of the weeds in your life?  I pray that you find the strength to face them.  When they are tough to pull or the roots run to deep, seek the Master Gardener.  He’s always willing to help.

And with that, I’m off to pull some more weeds.  And maybe unpack a few more boxes.