Allowing Ourselves The Grace To Rest

 rest

 

Sometimes we forget that we need time for rest.  Time to give it over to God, and let Him work things out behind the scenes.  During this busy season, it’s easy to forget that.

I found out this past week that when I am constantly doing, planning and doing some more – I get burned out.  My attitude changes and I no longer want to do the things I need to do.  I neglect things I shouldn’t.  I am harsh.  I am just not who I want to be.

I start thinking about all the things that need to be done and my complete lack of energy or desire to do any of it.

I start to feel guilty.  The questions start mounting in my heart.  Why don’t I seem to care?  Why do I just want to spend all my time relaxing and enjoying my life instead of working towards all the things I need to get accomplish?  I end up feeling like I’m trying to move a brick wall.  All the things God has called me to do seem impossible and the task list just gets bigger and bigger.

My heart gets anxious.  Walls are built up between me and God.  I stop talking to Him.  It becomes a vicious cycle.

But then God…(I love that!)

I’m so thankful for God’s grace, and for the gift of His Holy Spirit that checks my heart when it’s out of alignment.

I’m thankful for His nudging lately that it’s OK to take some time to rest.  To stop striving and trying to accomplish.  To just be. To let Him do the work.  To enjoy the things He has given me.  To spend time in His word reading about His great love and affection for us.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to start again – to have His help and guidance.

I’m thankful for times of waiting – it gives me time to rest and reflect and dream.  Resting is a gift and I need to allow myself time to be refreshed.  Time to regain my excitement for what God Is doing and the energy to keep up!

I pray that you and I will know and understand that the little things matter to God.  That sometimes we all need a little bit of rest.  Even during this busy time of the year, we might need a time-out.  We might need let Him to minister to our souls, rejuvenating our spirits to do the work He has called us to do.

Father God,  I thank you for your Word which provides direction and your Holy Spirit that checks my heart.  I thank you for the blessings you have given me – for my ministry of home. I thank you for the job you have provided and the opportunity to show those I interact with your love. Help me Lord to balance it all and to follow where you lead each and every day. I thank you for the times of rest-  always given just when I need them the most!

Have you ever felt burned out by all you were doing?  Has God ever provided you with time to rest?  How did you feel afterwards?   I’d love to hear from you!

Stephanie

 

 

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Drawing Near To God In Difficult Times

 heaven

We all have them, periods in our life when we find ourselves far from God, struggling to find peace.  We feel helpless, unable to find our way.  Hoping and wishing things would turn around, only to find that each new day is the same as the one before.

Friend, I’ve been there – more than once.

I have found that when life gets messy and unyielding – I start to feel far from God.  My daily quiet time turns into three times a week, then once – then before I know it, I haven’t spent time with Him in weeks.

My thoughts become centered on all that’s going on around me.  I start to compare – feeling discontent and wondering why.

My attitude shifts, I start to complain.  Depression usually starts creeping in after this.

In spite of myself, He always calls me back to Him.  For that I am forever thankful!  His voice starts small, like a whisper I can’t quite make out.  It becomes a persistent tug on my heart, a gentle reminder of His endless love and grace.  Thank-you Jesus!

I realize that I need to be honest with Him.  To pour out my heart – all my messy feelings.  My wants and needs and questions.  It’s scary, but He already knows them anyways.

He leads me to start giving thanks – for all He has already done.  Starting with how He sent His Son to die for me.  For all my blessings – my husband, my children, our jobs, our health, the roof over our head and the food in the fridge.  The fact that our vehicles are running and we have hats and gloves this winter – on and on it goes.  Praising Him becomes easy after this and I wonder why I ever stopped!

With a clear heart I can ask for His will to be done.  I humbly turn over all those plans I thought were so great. In His time – whatever He wants me to do.  I let it all go.

My quiet time resumes – I look forward to spending time with Him.  Remembering His promises.  Learning more about who He is and what He has done.

He teaches me to keep my eyes turned to Him.  When the doubts start to come back and worry creeps in and my eyes shift towards my circumstances – He reminds me to replace those thoughts with His word.  His word doesn’t return void.

I’ve come to realize it’s really about knowing deep in our hearts that God is for us – not against us.  He is working all things out for those who love Him.  He will never leave us – we are HIS!  He holds us and every circumstance in His hands.

Friend if you are going through a tough time – know He is there with you.  He loves you so much.  Pour out your heart to Him.  He will give you rest.

God Bless You Today,

Stephanie

 

As Promised – Pepperoni Rolls!

As promised, here is the pizza dough recipe I use for pepperoni rolls, pizza, calzones, Stromboli – you name it!

Pepperoni Rolls

It comes straight out of The Joy of Cooking.  I’ve tried dozens of recipes over the years and this one is the best.

Pizza Dough

1 1/3 cup warm water

1 package active, dry yeast

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons olive oil

3-4 cups all-purpose flour

Place water in the bowl of a stand mixer (if you don’t have a stand mixer, you can do this in a large bowl).  Sprinkle in the yeast and let sit for about 5 minutes, or until the yeast is bubbly.  Add in the salt, sugar and olive oil.

Add in 2 ½ cups of flour, mixing well.  Slowly add in the rest of the flour, ½ cup at a time, mixing on low to medium speed (or kneading by hand) until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.  You may not need all the flour.  You may need more.  It all depends on the humidity in your kitchen and the flour itself.  (I wrote about that here)

Place the dough in an oiled bowl, top with a clean dish towel or plastic wrap and let sit until doubled in size.

Once the dough has doubled, punch it down and roll out to the desired shape.  For large pepperoni rolls, split the dough into two portions.  Roll each portion out into a rectangle and top one half with shredded mozzarella and sliced pepperoni – use as much as you like.

Tuck in the sides and roll up jelly roll style.  Brush the tops with olive oil, cover with the clean  dish towel and let rest until doubled again.

Bake in a preheated 450 degree oven for about 30 – 35 minutes, or until nicely browned and cooked through.

Be sure to let the rolls rest for a few minutes before cutting, otherwise all the cheese will run out!

You can serve these right away, or once cool – wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and store in the freezer. To re-heat, let thaw in the refrigerator overnight and reheat in a 350 degree oven.

I hope you enjoy!

Stephanie

 

 

What I Learned About Waiting on God From Pizza Dough

 Pepperoni Roll

 

Sometimes I get stuck in the mundaneness of life.  Impatient to use my gifts and talents in a new way.  Wanting to do something big and bold – to do more.   Sometimes I get tired of waiting and feel like giving up.

I try making this happen on my own.  I try to force God’s plan (what I think it is at the moment) into existence – right now.

I search and strive in vain for something that isn’t yet ready.  Not realizing it’s me that has to do the growing and changing first.

But God is so amazing.  He speaks to us wherever we are, gently guiding us.   Even making homemade pizza dough with my kids.

This evening I was contemplating life – where I was, where I want to be.  Wondering if certain things will ever come to pass or if I’m destined to live in what feels like limbo forever.  Playing the waiting game and not very well.

It occurred to me that we are a lot like pizza dough.  Stay with me here – I don’t mean lumps of dough!

One of the things that makes pizza so good is the crust.  It’s the foundation for the toppings.

But in order to make the perfect crust, you need to have exactly the right amount of liquid and yeast.  It needs to be mixed and kneaded until it is just the right consistency.  And then – just when you think it’s perfect and ready to go….

It needs to rest.  You have to wait for the gluten to relax and the yeast to permeate throughout the dough.  It needs to grow.  But it can only grow in the right atmosphere.

Growth can only happen when there is rest in the perfect atmosphere for an indeterminate amount of time.  The amount of time it takes is different for every batch of dough because so many outside influences  are a factor.

Take just one of these things out and the dough becomes stiff and unpliable.

Useless.

Unwilling to be formed.  If you try to form it into shape anyway –  it snaps back to it’s original form.  It prefers to stay right where it is.

Now you can go ahead and bake it anyways – but it’s nowhere near it’s potential.  It will be rigid, dry and hard.  Heavy and dense.  Not at all good.

Instead, it’s  meant to be perfectly golden brown, light and airy.  Sturdy enough to handle all the toppings.

Sometimes waiting for the dough to rise takes longer than others. It’s growth is dependent on the yeast and how warm the air it’s resting in is.

If there is enough yeast and the atmosphere is conductive to growth – the process goes much faster.

But if the atmosphere is cold and the yeast is dead – it won’t grow.  It will never become what it can be.

No matter how much time has been spent waiting.

So I starting thinking (and laughing because only God could use pizza dough to speak to me) am I staying in an atmosphere that promotes growth?

While I’m waiting, am I plugged into a good church?  Digging into my bible (the yeast) and applying the truths I’ve learned?  Spending time in prayer and thanksgiving with my father (the atmosphere)?

Am I showing love those placed in my care or path?

These are the things that cause me to grow.

Or am I too busy trying to force something that isn’t yet ready to be?  Am I like dough that hasn’t grown because it didn’t have enough yeast and didn’t spend enough time resting?  Rigid and unyielding?

I don’t want to be.  I want to wait for his perfect timing.  Because only he knows what needs to happen in my life, or maybe in someone else’s first.

I want to lean into that atmosphere – and remain there.  Staying thankful and content where I am.  Letting the yeast do its work in me.  Until the time is right – I don’t want to look at this time of waiting as a bad thing.

I want to look at waiting as the very thing that makes me stronger.

The thing that makes me sturdy enough to handle all that may be coming.

By the way, I turned that pizza dough into pepperoni rolls (see the above picture) – If your interested in the recipe, let me know!

How about you – how has waiting changed you?  What have you learned from it?  Id love to hear from you!

Stephanie

 

Is My Work God’s Work?

Is My Work God's Work?

Is my work God’s work?  What is God’s work?  Does knowing what God’s work is even matter?  These are questions I’ve been pondering lately.  I’ve talked a little about it here.

As I began to pray for answers,  God in His wonderful and amazing way started speaking softly to my heart. I just had to take the time to listen to His answer.

In the stillness, He is showing me that my work becomes His work when I approach everything in my life as being sent directly from Him.

He has placed me where I am for a reason. He has placed those in my life for a purpose.

When I go to Him in prayer about every step, every decision, every encounter – He will show me what He wants me to do.
When I approach each person placed in my path (whether it’s my husband, kids, coworkers, you name it) as being there by divine appointment – I find there is more meaning to everyday encounters.

When I give him the freedom and permission to move, to lead me in each moment and to spin the conversation any way he wants – He is there.

Real change and effective ministry that glorifies God and shines a beacon of light toward Him starts with the small everyday encounters in our life.

The world is drowning and doesn’t need another so-called christian telling them what they should or shouldn’t be doing . The world needs love. Genuine caring towards others – unselfishness that runs so deep  it can only point to Him..

The only way we can have that kind of experience is to spend time with Him. Getting to know Him intimately.  Discovering who He is  – not just what He has done for me. Although that’s part of it too. The grace freely given.  Mercy and unmerited favor. A love worth dying for. A love that fills us up so much it spills out onto everyone around.

If we want the world out there, the people who desperately need Jesus, to understand and believe that His love is for them too – we need to be mirrors of Christ. Of his love, compassion and genuineness.  The mercy we have received.

I believe that is what makes our work God’s work. It all starts with us. In the day-to-day.

Shining a light so bright right where we are that those around us can’t help but see God . A city on a hill.

God's Work is My Work

One of the things God has pressed on me is to really learn who He is. To know Him at a deep, intimate level.

So in the coming weeks I am going to start reading through the bible with the specific focus on who God is. His attributes, promises and His love for us.

I will posting along the way – it’s my hope that we can encourage each other.

I’d love for you all to join me in discovering more of Him – and so excited to see where He leads us!

Where is God leading you in your quiet time?  What is your focus?  Is He pressing something upon your heart? I would love to hear about it!

God Bless,

Stephanie

I Was Adopted

The month of November is always a reflective one for me.  Not only because of Thanksgiving, but because my birthday is during this time.

Adoption-words

While most people tend to do some sort of looking back over the past year around their birthday, I spend it thinking about her.

The woman I don’t know.  The woman who decided to preserve my life, give birth to me and then let me go.

I was adopted at age 11 days – into a wonderful, kind and loving family.  I’m forever thankful for that.  I grew up with all my needs met and more.  I have two wonderful parents who love me unconditionally.

As I think back, there wasn’t ever a time where I didn’t know I was adopted.  A great thing, in my opinion.  It’s always been an open topic.

Now that I am older, I wonder about her though.  What is she like?  What does she do?  What does she look like?  Do I resemble her?  Act like her?  What is her name?  Her favorite food, movie or song?

Does she know the Lord?

Do I have half brothers or sisters?  Grandparents, aunts or uncles?  Where does she live? What are her passions – her happy place?

Does she think of me?

I have these questions and so many more.  I may never know the answer to them.  But one thing I know for sure is that I love her.  A woman I have never met and may never meet.

I’m forever thankful for the gift she gave me – the gift of a better life.  I know the decision must have been difficult – I had my first child at 19 years old.  One year older than she was when I was born.

I understand the confusion and how scary it is – not being married.  Being pregnant.  Wondering what people are saying – thinking.  Wondering how you were going to get through.

To you dear mother – the woman who carried me inside, the woman who bravely let me go.  I love you.  I’m praying for you.  And some day, Lord willing, I hope we can meet and I can tell you how much you are loved and cherished.

 

~ Stephanie

Hearing God In the Midst of a Busy Life

How many times does your life get hectic?  So busy you can’t even hear yourself think?  How often do you wish God would just tell you what to do – or give you validation that you are on the right path?

It happens to me all the time.  I often find myself thinking “I just need an answer!”.

But God who loves me in spite of myself has shown me that He doesn’t always reveal himself in giant miraculous ways.

“The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”  Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind.  After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.  And after the fire came a gentle whisper.  When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.  Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 1 Kings 19:11-13

Lots of times it’s the still, small voice I need to be listening for.

“Be still and know that I am God.”  Psalm 46:10

I am learning that being still is a difficult process.  In this day and age we are accustomed to having everything in an instant.  We want our answers now (google anyone?!).  But the Lord asks us to remain still before Him.  He will speak to our hearts, we just have to slow down and take the time to be still and listen.

You can’t hear a whisper in a noisy crowd.

If I’m being honest this is difficult for me.  My everyday life is packed with stuff I need to do.  I tend to go from one thing into the next without even a moment to rest.  After all “so much to do, so little time”!

All this busyness often reflects what’s going on in my heart.

I am learning that I need to take a step back from all the noise and spend time with Him.  Quietly seeking out what He is saying to me.  Meditating on His Word.  Developing a thankful and content heart.  Taking the time to praise Him just for who He is – not for what He has done.

What about you?  How does God speak to you?  How did you learn to “Be still” before God?  I’d love to hear from you!

God Bless,

Stephanie

 

The Very First Promise of God

 If I asked you “What is the first promise God made to us in the bible?” –  what would you say?

After writing this post I started wondering myself, so I started at the beginning.  It turns out the first promise God made to us is written in Genesis 3:15:

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

God is speaking here to the serpent, cursing him to the ground after he deceived Adam and Even in the Garden of Eden.  Satan made Eve focus on something she couldn’t have.  Once her mind started to dwell on that she forgot the many blessings God had given her.  She felt sorry for herself and started to doubt what she knew about God.

Her doubting led both her and her husband right into sin.

But then ….God.

How amazing is this?  The very first promise is salvation’s plan foretold!

Christ’s death on the cross for our sins and His resurrection from the dead – all that we may be pure in God’s sight and live eternally with Him.  Thank you Jesus!

God had a plan.  He has never left us alone – not even at the beginning.  Even when we are knee-deep in our own sin, Christ provides a way.

Not only does He walk with us every day, but He provided the ultimate sacrifice for us.  That is amazing love.

“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

I loved you at your darkest

I don’t know about you but the thought takes my breath away.  We are loved by God in ways that we can’t even begin to understand.  He already knows everything about us.  From the moment we were conceived to the day we leave this earth.  No matter what we do, what we say, what we think – He loves us.

What about you?  Have you experienced God’s love in ways that are beyond our understanding?  I’d love to hear about it!

Stephanie

The Promises of God – A Cheat Sheet

Have you ever felt overwhelmed?  Useless?  Abandoned? Unloved? Alone?  Have you ever wondered if God is really listening?  Is He really with you in all things?

I wrote a little about the mountains in our life here.  I am learning that the more my thoughts stay focused on problem – the longer the problem stays.

But if I turn my thoughts and eyes towards Jesus, my attitude starts to change.  I start to look at things differently.  I start to feel differently.

The problem I have is that my mind automatically goes to the wrong place.  It starts repeating the negative thoughts over and over in my head. Pretty soon I forget whose child I am.  What He has done for me. All the promises found in His word.  Who God says I am.

So….being the type A personality that I am….I made a list! And as you get to know me, you will find I have lists for everything. Cleaning lists, menu’s, work schedules, school schedules, shopping lists, to do lists, master lists for the smaller lists – on and on it goes!  I’m a little OCD about it.

The one thing I don’t have is a list of God’s promises.  A list I can keep with me so that when the negative thoughts start piling on – I can easily remind myself of what God says instead.

I’ve included part of it here – please feel free to print it out and use it.  This is by no means all of the promises listed in the bible (I read somewhere there is over 3000 of them?! Amazing!).  Just the ones I use the most.

I believe that the Word of God is powerful.  It’s how Jesus himself responded to Satan in the desert.  Its part of our armor (Ephesians 6:10-18) – the belt of truth.  He has given us His Holy Spirit, and His Word – we just have to use it.

“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”  Romans 8:37

How do you keep God’s Word close to your heart?  I’d love to hear from you!

Stephanie

 

Eyes Wide Open

Have you ever read something you’re familiar with only to be given a fresh perspective on it? That happened to me recently when I read the parable of The Good Samaritan in Luke 10.

It never ceases to amaze me when the Lord reveals something new to me!

The parable talks about a man who was robbed, assaulted and left by the side of the road to die. Two men pass by him, but simply go on their way -refusing to help. Ignoring what was in front of them.  Then a third man enters the picture. A Samaritan.

This man was minding his own business.  On his normal route of everyday life. When he saw the injured man on the side of the road he immediately  attended to his needs. He brought him to an inn where he continued to care for the man.  He never left his side. He stayed.

The Samaritan used his own resources – money, time, attention.  He invested a piece of himself in the injured man.

He didn’t wait for someone else more qualified, didn’t wait for the church to step in.  He jumped in where there was a need.

I realized that I need to pray for God to open my eyes to my circle of influence.  To nudge my heart towards those around me.  Beyond my family, friends and fellow Christians – to reach out to the world. My co-workers, the residents I care for, even the people I run into at the store!

I don’t want to hesitate.  I want to show others His love in real, tangible ways. I don’t want to be a passive Christian.

I want to bloom where I’ve been planted.

Jesus said at the end of the parable to “go and do “likewise”. A direct instruction.

The world out there is full of people who are hurting, lonely and need someone to show them Christs’ unfading love and grace. They have real needs.

Lord Jesus help me to see them through your eyes. Help me to answer the call you have set before me.

What about you? What has God been speaking to you about? I’d love to Hear about it!