Tag Archives: postaday2011

Ending and Beginning

Well, this is the end – my final post to complete the 2011 Post-a-day challenge that I started on Jan. 1, 2011. I made it to the end without missing a single day. You might think that I had therefore posted 365 posts this year, but you would be wrong. I actually posted 398 posts in 2011, which means I posted twice on 33 days.

Last week I mentioned to my son how many posts I’d written and said I had 7 more to go before the challenge was complete. He asked if I could count the extra posts as those final 7 so I could be done then. But I said no, it wasn’t a “post 365 posts in a year” challenge. It was a post-a-day challenge.

I want to thank all you who read my blog this year and provided me with encouragement and friendship. I want to thank WordPress for presenting the challenge in the first place. I think I have grown a lot as a writer – especially in the area of poetry – as a result of writing a post for every day. It has really been fun, even when it seemed overwhelming. And I want to thank God for giving me the wisdom and strength, and quite often the very words, necessary to meet this challenge.

Now that I’m at the end of the challenge, what’s next? More blogging, to be sure! But in 2012 there may be days when I don’t post. When I don’t have anything at all to write, or I don’t feel good, or I just don’t have time, I may just skip a day. I am truly looking forward to not feeling compelled to write every single day, no matter what.

I will still keep some of my theme days, especially Music Monday, Thankful Thursday, and Recipe Friday. But I think I want to let the rest of the days of the week be more flexible and to write more poetry.

The most important thing that will not change is that I will continue to share the love of Christ and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.

So for my last post of the year I want to share one of my favorite passages of scripture, John 1:1-14 (NIV), in which John testifies to the beginning of all things. May you be blessed by the truth and grace of our Savior.

John 1

The Word Became Flesh

 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.

 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood[a] it.

 6 There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 9 The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.[b]

 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent,[c] nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only,[d] who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Footnotes:

  1. John 1:5 Or darkness, and the darkness has not overcome
  2. John 1:9 Or This was the true light that gives light to every man who comes into the world
  3. John 1:13 Greek of bloods
  4. John 1:14 Or the Only Begotten

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Candied Yams for Recipe Friday

Today I want to share a recipe that is new for me, something I made for Christmas dinner that I’ve never made before – Candied Yams. I don’t know why I decided to make them. My husband was actually not too thrilled when I told him we were having yams with our spiral ham on Christmas Day. “I don’t think I like yams,” he said. I made them anyway, but made sure we also had mashed potatoes and gravy as well as a vegetable that I know he likes to round out the meal.

Since I had never made Candied Yams before, I had a little research to do. I started by asking the produce guy at my local Safeway whether I should use yams or sweet potatoes for the dish that has little marshmallows on top. He said to use yams, so I bought three big ones. I ended up only using two of them.

Next, I searched the Internet for various recipes for Candied Yams (many of which called for sweet potatoes). I found a variety of recipes and eventually created my own based on a conglomeration of the ideas I’d gleaned from the recipes I read. This recipe is the result. I think it turned out pretty good, and my husband even ate some and said they were good. My son liked them, too.

Candied Yams

There are only three of us so there were lots of leftovers. A big family dinner would be a better time to make these Candied Yams.

Candied Yams

Ingredients:

2 large yams
1 small (6 oz) can pineapple tidbits
½ cup dark brown sugar
¼ to ½ cup pecans
½ tsp nutmeg
salt
little marshmallows

Directions:

Peel yams and cut into cubes. Boil in enough water to cover, with a little salt, until yams are tender. Drain and return to pan. Add pineapple tidbits and juice, brown sugar, pecans, nutmeg, and salt. Mash and combine with a potato masher.

Turn yam mixture out into an 8″ square baking dish. Bake for 1 hour in 275° oven (if also baking a spiral ham) or for 35 to 40 minutes in a 350° oven (if also cooking a roast or turkey). Remove from oven and cover the top with little marshmallows. (If you want to, you can line them up all nice and neat, but I didn’t have the patience for that, so I just poured a bunch out and made sure the top was covered). Return to the oven and broil on center rack on low broil heat for 5 to 10 minutes or until marshmallows are browned and a little bubbly.

Remove from oven and let cool a few minutes before serving. Note that this dish really holds its heat – we all almost burned our tongues on it.

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Blogging – A Poem

For my last Thankful Thursday of 2011, I thought I’d write a poem about how thankful I am for the opportunity to blog and the technology that makes it possible. I am also thankful for my fellow bloggers, this wonderful community that I have become a part of over the past two years.

[Note: Imagine my surprise when I went to dVerse Poets Pub during lunch today to find a wonderful article by Gay Cannon about couplets in poetry! So I linked this one. :) ]

Blogging

Words once rambled in my head,
cluttering my mind like rising bread

I might dump them on a journal page,
where they’d grow dusty and dim with age

Lonely, they were, with no one to read,
no one to ponder the thoughts I’d freed

Enter the Internet and WordPress blog platform,
allowing my writing to fly, be transformed

Sharing my faith in Jesus and His grace,
what a blessing it is to seek His sweet face

Telling the world the truths I had learned,
the mercy God offers, wholly unearned

Still only words on a page it might seem,
until there were readers, fulfilling a dream

Now I was sharing my ideas, each thought,
considered by one a search engine brought

Then there were comments posted in reply,
a dialogue started between readers and I

Soon my new friends, all heaven-sent,
offered truth, faith, and encouragement

Brothers and sisters in Christ, worldwide,
friends in whom my fears I can confide

New readers, future friends, daily connected
as the circle of believers grows as expected

The Holy Spirit drawing us closer each day,
using the Internet in a most awesome way

Strengthening His church as together we meet,
praising in cyberspace, His plan is complete

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:25 (NIV).

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Manna for the Day

When the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, God provided them with food called manna. The word “manna” is a Hebrew word that literally means “what is it?” The Israelites didn’t know what it was, but they discovered that it was nutritious and filling. They were instructed to gather only as much manna as they needed for each day, except the day before the Sabbath when they were to gather enough for two days. They discovered that if they gathered any extra it would spoil. See Exodus 16 (NIV).

Gathering only as much as was needed was a definite test in trusting God to provide. Because He is faithful and trustworthy, God always came through and there was always enough manna.

This past year of blogging, I have discovered that trusting God for what to write is kind of like trusting Him to provide manna in the desert. There have been times when I thought I would write ahead, spend a Saturday writing for the following week. Occasionally this worked when I really wasn’t going to have time to write the following week, like before we headed off to vacation. But other times I just couldn’t seem to think of anything to write ahead.

Last week, for example, while I was off work for the week before Christmas I was going to write this whole week’s worth of blog posts so I didn’t have to do any writing this final week of the year. But for some reason I just couldn’t get it done. I was left to trust God to provide something to write. So far He has come through, and knowing how faithful and trustworthy He is I know He will provide for the remainder of the week.

This is just one of many lessons in trust that we can learn from the story of the manna God provided in the desert. We all go through desert times. We all have times when it seems we can barely get through each day as we wander in seek of the promised land. It is during these times that we must trust in God to provide. I’ve discovered for myself that He always does.

But the Israelites didn’t wander in the desert wilderness forever. Eventually they reached the promised land, which was flowing with milk and honey and an abundance of good foods. Although they still were called to trust God, it was more of a “big picture” trust and not a daily food thing.

I think it is the same for us. Sometimes God takes us through wilderness experiences so we learn to trust daily for some basic and distinct need. He uses these times of intense trusting to teach us about big picture trust so that we will not forget Him when we emerge from the wilderness into the promised land.

We must always remember to trust God in and for all things. As James reminded us, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17 (NIV). Whether we are in the desert wilderness or the promised land, our faithful and trustworthy God will provide for what we need.

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Perseverance – My Tuesday Three

The apostle Paul wrote a lot about perseverance. Here is the quote I promised I would share today:

Pressing on Toward the Goal

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14 (NIV).

As I thought about what I would post today for My Tuesday Three (the last one of 2011), I was reminded of three bloggers who make my efforts to complete my post-a-day challenge for 2011 look easy compared to the challenges they have persevered through that they share about on their blogs.

The first blogger I want to share about is one I’ve mentioned several times before, but he provides such a wonderful ministry for those who are broken and struggling that he is worth another mention. He is Pastor Bryan Lowe of Broken Believers. Bryan shares openly about the many things he perseveres through on a daily basis, including the challenge of living with bipolar disorder and several medical conditions. On top of that, he lives in Homer, Alaska. I have no doubt it is a beautiful place and that the summers are glorious, but the winters are long and dark, with extremely short days. Just persevering through an Alaskan winter is something that would be difficult for me. But Bryan is fully aware of the goal. He knows that God has called him to be in relationship with Him, and so Bryan clings to His Savior to give him the strength to persevere.

The second blogger I want to share about is The NorEaster, who is an occasional contributor at Broken Believers but also has his own blog. He is another blogger who has endured spiritual challenges and storms in life, including the loss of a number of friends and family members. He provides spiritual encouragement and a place to be yourself at his blog. I don’t get a chance to read his blog as often as I’d like, but I am always blessed when I do. I always find that he has persevered and continues to push forward to the prize.

The third blogger I want to share is one who recently liked and commented on a post on my blog and subscribed to my blog. So I decided to check out her blog as well. What I discovered was a true story so heartbreaking – the kind of story most of us are only exposed to in horror movies or shows like Criminal Minds – that I could hardly continue reading. And yet, I had to continue so that I could do my part to make her story heard. Her name is Joan and her blog is called Angels of Secrets. I suggest you make sure you have a box of tissue before you start reading. What is so amazing about Joan is that she persevered through events most people could not, and then has the courage to share her story in blog form.

We persevere because God gives us the strength to do so. And we are blessed by the hope that perseverance leads to.

1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:1-8 (NIV). 

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Standing in the Gap

If you read my earlier post today, you know I hit the wall and had to push through with just a quick little post. At that time, I didn’t think I was going to get a chance to actually sit down at my computer at all today. But I just now got the chance to get online (not on my smart phone) and check comments on the blog.

Turns out the reason I was able to push through the wall was because there were dear blogging friends standing in the gap and praying for me. God brought me to their minds, and they paid attention and prayed. My dear blogging friend Ann (the one who suggested Thankful Thursday) said she had tried to find a song by Babbi Mason called Standing in the Gap as her contribution to Music Monday. So that this would not be my only Monday this year that didn’t have a music theme, I decided to quickly post this song, which I found on YouTube.

My other dear blogging friend Linda provided me with much needed encouragement, as she always does. She wished me blessings when I finally complete my challenge and can enjoy a much needed rest from blogging.

I doubt that I will really slow down a lot with blogging in 2012, but it will be nice to be able to skip a day when I have nothing to say or no time to write anything worth reading.

I am thankful, though, that today the Lord provided me with this Music Monday post to share. Never underestimate the power of those who are standing in the gap for you, or how important it is to stand in the gap for others when the Lord brings them to mind.

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Opening Gifts

Today is Christmas Day! Hallelujah! It is a wonderful day of celebration and great joy!

I’ve been thinking today about gifts, wrapped and opened. (Well, technically I was thinking about it yesterday when I wrote this and scheduled it to post).

Sometimes a gift is difficult to open because the person who wrapped it used a ton of strong tape and sturdy wrapping paper, with ribbons strung around every possible direction. You know the kind – you wonder if the person who gave it to you really wanted you to see what was inside.

Sometimes a gift is easy to open, placed gently in a gift bag that is open on the top. This is the easiest way to wrap a gift, especially if it is an odd shape, or if it is a collection of things.

Sometimes it is easy to determine what a gift is based on its size and shape, or how it sounds when you shake it; especially if it appears to be something you asked for. Other times it is impossible to determine what a gift is from the outside because it has been so cleverly disguised by the giver.

Once a gift is opened, we are either delighted to have received it because it is just what we wanted or wonder if the giver really knew us at all. Some gifts are practical and are put to immediate use. Other gifts are merely decorative and end up sitting on a shelf collecting dust. Still others are meant to be useful but don’t adequately serve the purpose for which they were created or given, and they end up in a box in the attic or the garage.

But there is one gift that is always easy to open. Even if we don’t know we wanted or needed it, once we truly open it up and use it, it will serve the purpose for which it was given. But if we think it is merely decorative and keep it on a shelf, it will only collect dust.

This perfect gift is the love and grace of Jesus! It is the greatest gift mankind has ever received. But so many never open the gift because they think it is too hard to open. Others open the gift, but they don’t make regular use of it and so it has no impact on their lives. Yet there are many who have humbly accepted this gift, opened it, rejoiced at having received it, and put it to use each and every day. These people are blessed beyond measure, even when life presents its greatest challenges.

Has someone offered you the gift of Jesus Christ? Have you put Him to good use in your life? Of all the gifts you will receive this Christmas, He is the most important. Don’t leave Him unopened and unused. He is what Christmas is all about.

Merry Christmas!

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10-11 (KJV).

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Silent Night, Holy Night

Tonight is Christmas Eve. It is the night of one of my favorite church services of the year because we get to sing Silent Night at our candlelight service. The growing glow of candlelight as each person lights the candle of the person next to them warms my heart and reminds me of how we can warm the hearts of others by sharing the Light of Christ with them.

I decided that for my post today I just wanted to share a video of this wonderful Christmas song. I found this beautiful version by Sixpence None the Richer, featuring Dave Haseltine of Jars of Clay. I loved the video story that goes with it, too.

As you listen and watch, I pray that the Light of Jesus warms your heart and brightens your world this Christmas Eve and always.

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God with Us – A Poem

I often ponder the wonder of “God with us,” but especially so at Christmas time. I am in awe of the fact that the God of the Universe, the Creator of all things, He who is omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent, would desire to be with me. It is an amazing thing that Christ has seen fit to dwell in me, and the hearts of all believers, because of His great love for us. Of all the wonders of the world and the blessings in my life to be thankful for, it is this truth of God with us that I am most thankful for.

From a logical perspective, it all seems quite preposterous. If you were God, would you do such a thing? I’m not sure I would. I think I might leave sinful man to his own devices. But thankfully, I am not God; and God is faithful, merciful, and loving in a way I can scarcely comprehend. It is only when I seek Him with all my heart that I can even begin to fathom what He has done, and find hope in what He will do when He returns.

Do you know the Holy One, who longs to be with you? Are you in awe of His majesty? Do you ponder His great love? He is not some distant deity who desires to judge and punish you. He is “God with us.” He is God with you. He alone is the greatest gift you will ever receive.

God with Us

Glory of the Holy One, robed in majesty
Omnipresent King of kings, deserving pageantry
Deity incarnate be, because of love for you and me

Willingly He came to earth, left His throne behind
Immanuel, Son of God, seeking to redeem mankind
To leave mankind dead in sin was not what He designed
His love and mercy, on the cross, there with grace combined

Understanding His great love is for us what Christ desires
Sinners to trust in Him alone is all our God requires

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). Matthew 1:22-23 (NIV).

12/10/13 Update: Decided to link this up for the final dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night of 2013. No time to write a new one, but this is one of my favorite Christmas poems that I’ve written so I wanted to share it and the wonder of Christmas with the folks at the pub.

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Jesus Is the Reason, and Not Just for the Season

I’m reading a great book called Jesus Manifesto by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola. I bought it probably eight or nine months ago, and it just sat on my bookshelf with all my other not-yet-read books for a long time. Then about a month ago I decided to finally read it. It seemed appropriate for reading during the Advent season because it is all about the supremacy of Christ.

As I read this book, I thought of the apostle John’s warning to the church that the antichrist would deny that Jesus Christ came in the flesh. 1 John 4:1-3 (NIV). In the first century of the church, many people found it hard to believe in the incarnate God. They had no trouble believing in God, but they did have trouble believing in the humanity of Christ.

Today we have the opposite problem. People have no trouble believing that Jesus lived as a human being and walked this earth, but they do have trouble believing that He was God incarnate. The virgin birth is seen as a scientific impossibility, and the possibility of a miracle is discounted. Jesus has become for many just a good example to follow; and they seek to follow Him in their own power.

The problem with this view is that is strips the Christian faith of its real power, which lies solely in the incarnate Christ who died and rose again – literally. The Christian faith at its core is simply and wonderfully Jesus and the power of His Holy Spirit, which He imparts to those who believe.

In Jesus Manifesto, Sweet and Viola successfully argue that it is essential that the church return to a Christ-only mentality. Christ is the center of all things in heaven and earth. Jesus is the reason we believe, and not just for the season of Christmas but for every minute of every day. Jesus asked the question of Peter, “Who do you say that I am?” Matthew 16:15 (NIV). Sweet and Viola argue that this is the question that every generation must answer.

Every revival and restoration in the church has been a rediscovery of some aspect of Christ in the process of answering this critical question. In fact, three features are present in every awakening in the history of the Christian church: (1) rediscovery of the “living Word,” or the Scriptures and its authority; (2) a rediscovery of the living Christ and His supremacy; and (3) a rediscovery of the living Spirit and the Spirit’s gifts and power to manifest Christ in the context of that culture. God has a history of taking seriously people who take the eternal Word seriously. (Jesus Manifesto, pg. xvii).

Throughout the book, Sweet and Viola point out some ways in which the church today fails to take the eternal Word made flesh seriously. This book is not for the faint-hearted who are happy with the status quo. This is a book for those who are willing to be challenged in their concept of church and of Christ. It is for those who are willing to believe in the miraculous and to trust in Christ alone.

The apostles and the first century church taught Christ and Him crucified – nothing more and nothing less. The church today teaches:

  • how to live a good, clean life
  • church multiplication strategies
  • the mark of the beast and end times prophecy
  • the 613 laws of Moses, exhorting them to obey each one of them
  • how to build a movement
  • divine healing
  • how to live by faith
  • how to save the lost
  • Creation versus evolution
  • social justice
    (Jesus Manifesto, pg. 12-13)

The focus of the church today is how we can be like Jesus, how we can help the poor, living good lives, recognize and survive the end times, and defeat the powers of darkness. But often we are taught how to do all of these things without any mention of reliance on His Holy Spirit to do so. The literal indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the hearts and minds of believers is relegated to a back burner, or not considered at all.

There is a pervasive theology of “likeness” — “O God, make me more Christlike” — that cheapens the gospel and depresses the spirit. Christlikeness is too small a dream, to shallow and ambition, for a Christian. The call to Christlikeness is also not “good news.”

* * * * *

Second, we want a “like-Christ” relationship with God on our terms. But a loving, living relationship with Christ begins on God’s terms. In other words, it begins with the cross, or more precisely, a “dying with Christ.” It begins with a “death” to all those parts of us that are damping and hampering the Spirit’s work and preventing us from being “liberated from the controlling powers of [the] world,”FN the destructive, dehumanizing, controlling forces, like addictions, selfism, consumerism, hedonism, and others.

Third, to be “like Christ” often implies that you don’t really need Christ, since you already have the ideas and teachings of Christ.

* * * * *

Fourth, as Martin Luther said, if you read the Law, you will see that you can never hope to keep it. Similarly, try to be like Christ, and you will quickly realize you don’t have a prayer of becoming like Him. (Jesus Manifesto, pg. 69-71).

Jesus is not just the “reason for the season.” He is the reason for everything. All things exist by Him, through Him, and for Him. He is the center of all and the only way for you and me to overcome this world. We must not strive to become like Christ. Rather, we must seek Christ dwelling in us and through us, surrendering our lives wholly over to Him who alone is worthy.

Although I still have two chapters to go to finish this book, I would highly recommend it. I also recommend keeping your Bible handy to allow for easy reference to the many Scriptures that the authors rely on to support their argument. I hope and pray that there will be a revival in the church today with a renewed focus on Christ alone as the source of our power to love and live a life pleasing to God.

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