Live, Uncategorized

Jesus is Enough

Jesus is Enough

Today is the anniversary of my dad meeting Jesus face to face. What an impossibly glorious thought of what this past year must have been like for my dad as he worshipped his creator in his new and perfectly whole body, now living in paradise. My heart is overjoyed at the thought of my amazing earthly father residing with my all powerful and perfectly holy Heavenly Father. I find myself longing to be in such company, along with the angels and all those that have gone on before us to their eternal glory worshipping the one true Creator.

Life if full of ups and downs, highs and lows. It just is. Everyone will face moments of absolute joy, finding delight in beautiful moments gifted to us by God, but there will also be devastating set backs and heartache to endure.

I have experienced both. Joy and heartache, delight and devastation. Jesus is in them both. His presence should not be taken for granted, lost or forgotten in either circumstance, good or bad.

As I’ve wrestled with my faith the past couple of years I am profoundly strengthened and encouraged because of the wrestle. I’ve been embarrassed and felt ashamed when my reality was one of incredible doubt and endless questions. When I’ve wavered and asked God the tough questions, God was not mad at me. He did not get offended or flee from me. He showed me absolute mercy and grace when my foundation seemed to be crumbling.

In a purely miraculous way, my faith was being restored and strengthened, the struggle and wrestling forced me to deconstruct my faith and start the construction process back to my first love. Jesus has not changed, He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He’s not afraid of my struggle and insecurities, He’s right there…in life and in death.

I’ll never forget the moment I got the phone call about my dad’s passing. His death was expected and we had gathered with him for months just about everyday thinking it was the end. We actually joked about the fact that we had said our “good byes” numerous times, my poor dad was probably tired of hearing our “It’s ok to let go” speech. He had a fabulous sense of humor and I think that’s what I miss the most.

Those days we watched my dad slowly and painfully lose his battle with ALS were long and terrible, they were gut wrenching. But I have learned many lessons, I have grown in my relationship with my God and my family and the brave friends that stood beside our family when we could barely function. Most of all I learned that Jesus is enough.

My dad knew that Jesus was enough. He served him faithfully even to the end. I know it wasn’t easy for him, I know that he wanted to be strong for us. I also know that he chose God even when he may not have felt like it – the end of his life was heartbreaking. It just was. You can’t sugar coat the ugliness of disease and isolation of death. He wasn’t able to speak, but I know he would have proclaimed that Jesus is enough. I know this was not what he wanted the end of his life to look like, I’m sure he had disappointments. There were tears and there were times of uncertainty but… Jesus is enough.

If you are struggling with grief, if you are experiencing a terrible life altering circumstance please know that it’s ok. The struggle is ok. You will grow in the struggle. You will grow in the devastation. You will have questions and will struggle with your faith. Your faith will be strengthened. Please don’t feel guilty but know that God loves you and most importantly that Jesus is enough.

Advertisements
Eat, Uncategorized

Organic gluten free BANANA BREAD

I’ve made this recipe literally dozens of times over the years.  I’ve modified it several different ways to fit dietary restrictions and the tastebuds of my family.  This is the organic gluten free and almost lactose free version of the recipe.  To make it lactose free you would just need to omit the chocolate chips.  I would do that but my kids would not be happy with me…  So here it is.  You can substitute a little coconut flour with almond flour to increase the texture and taste.  I love the little bit of extra flavor that the coconut and vanilla almond milk provide.  To make the batter less dry, I melt the coconut oil and peanut better together, it seems to make the bread a little more moist and is much easier to blend.   I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I have.

2 cups Bob’s Red Mill gluten free flour

1/2 tsp Salt

1 cup Organic cane sugar

1 TBS Baking Powder

3 mashed bananas

1/3 cup vanilla almond milk

1/4 cup organic peanut butter

3 TBS extra virgin organic coconut oil

1 egg

1 C. dark chocolate morsels

350 degrees for 1 hour

Mix together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder.  Add three mashed ripe bananas and almond milk.  Melt coconut oil and peanut butter and mix into batter with slightly beaten egg.  Stir in chocolate morsels then pour batter into greased bread pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until toothpick comes out clean.

 

Travel, Uncategorized

Norfolk Botanical Garden Pictorial

If you live in the Coastal Virginia area I’m sure you have heard of the Norfolk Botanical Gardens.  It’s one of my most favorite local places to visit.  I make sure to keep my membership up to date because I enjoy touring the gardens regularly throughout the year.  I’ve put together some pictures of my son and I earlier this summer exploring some of the beautiful areas throughout this magical place.

These pictures represent just a small glimpse of how wonderful this place is.  The park offers around the clock tram services throughout the park if you’re not up for walking.  The tram has several stops, providing an opportunity to stop and walk for a bit as well.  My son and I usually do the boat tour a couple times of the year.  There is much to see from this perspective including an assortment of birds and the beautiful shoreline of the gardens.  For families with young children, there’s an interactive children’s garden with various activities throughout the year for the young gardening enthusiasts!

One of the great things about NBG is that they have year around classes and events during the different seasons.  Some of the offerings are free, some have additional fees.  You can take horticultural classes, sign up for yoga,  or even get creative with crafts including painting and photography, to name just a few.  If you are hungry or thirsty, there’s a quaint little cafe where you can swing by for a sandwich, delicious salad or even a healthy smoothy.

If you live in the Hampton Roads area or find yourself traveling through here please make it a priority to stop at the NBG!  You will not be disappointed.  You will leave feeling relaxed and refreshed.

Spiritual, Uncategorized

Firm Foundations

Dealing with Storms

It’s not about what you’ve been dealt in life, it’s how you deal with it…

Matthew 7:24-27New King James Version (NKJV)
Build on the Rock
24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.
26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

The rain will come and the floods will rise.
Sometimes life hits us like a violent storm. Things happen to us out of our control: Divorce, Death, Loss of a friendship, Failure, Fear, Disappointing circumstances, Unexpected temptation

What does our foundation look like?
Maybe it’s starting to rot, or is in danger of being destroyed. Our foundation in this life must be firm and built properly. The builder of our foundation should be Christ and His Word. Scripture tells us to build our house upon the rock.

The Rock: The Rock is Jesus and having a personal relationship with Jesus as well as knowing God’s Word: build your life on the Word of God! The Word of God should bring about TRANSFORMATION in our lives that will strengthen our foundations to withstand the strongest of winds. The transforming Word of God is so powerful that it should dictate how we live our lives, wanting to serve Him even in the devastations that come our way in this life.

The problem comes when we don’t build our lives on the firm foundation or the Rock which is Jesus. Scripture tells us that our foundations are resting on nothing but sand when we don’t choose to follow Christ and His instruction. When we abandoned Christ and follow culture, it’s a perfect storm for disaster to strike. Our culture is nothing but shifting sands, a place where people are constantly trying to find peace and contentment but instead find emptiness. The sand will fail and we will be left without a foundation or a house.

Sometimes our temptation may be to make Jesus an “option” among many other options offered to us. He is not just an option: He is our Hope, our Anchor in life…. He is the bridge that safely leads us over the destructive waters of our messed up situations into eternal salvation. He provides PEACE in the storm, when the angry waves relentlessly beat against us, He is the strong foundation, always holding steady. Without shelter from the storms of this life. If we want safety and stability we must know God’s Word and be obedient to it.

We have a choice,
We can build the foundation of our house on the sand OR
We can build the foundation of our house on the ROCK: JESUS

HOW?
Read his Word – it’s not going to magically get in your brain…Read it, think about it, get to know the people of the Bible… imagine what it would have been like if you were there… journal your thoughts, prayers, etc…

Don’t just read it…

2. Do it! Once you gain the knowledge of God’s Word…. do your best to live it out… do your best to be obedient to His commandments… celebrate His Words… Worship Him with all your heart… Love others… Be the person who Jesus wants you to be…

When you fail…Return to HIM… Keep going…
God does not stand at a distance while His people suffer and struggle through the storm. His amazing grace surrounds us like a lifeboat bringing us safely to shore and into His arms.

Live, Uncategorized

Peace.

Peace I leave you, my peace I give to you: not as the world gives, give I to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27

The word “Peace” spoken by Jesus to His Disciples was a common form of greeting one another, often a way of saying hello as well as goodbye to someone. Such a common everyday word of Jesus’ time, and yet when He said it, it seemed to mean something much more significant. It was in an attitude of love and encouragement, with a sense of hope that Christ gifted this precious promise to His followers. Jesus knew there were tough times ahead not only for Himself but also his Disciples, the road to the cross was getting shorter.

As parents we want so much for our children. What I want most for my boys as they navigate life is that they know true contentment and peace as they grow and become the men God intended for them to become. Unfortunately I can’t swing by Target and pick up a box of “contentment” or a bag of “peace” and gift it to them. That’s what makes this verse so mesmerizing and beautiful. Jesus is freely leaving us a beautifully packaged gift box with His perfect peace inside. All we have to do is unwrap it and accept it.  Peace is simply knowing Jesus.  It doesn’t mean that life will be easy and there will be no set backs or suffering to endure.  It means that during the tumultuous storms of life and crushing waves of pain, Jesus is in the boat with us.  He is peace.

Jesus must have sensed that His beloved Disciples were having a hard time understanding His mission and work on earth. They were afraid of what was to come. The words our Heavenly Father spoke to those so dear to Him must have been like a soothing salve to their troubled and fearful hearts. Much like the men that followed Christ during such troublesome times, many of us are facing circumstances beyond our control or understanding. We too need to cling to those precious words so lovingly gifted to us in this verse. Dive into God’s life giving Word everyday, read it, meditate on it and pray it. When we open ourselves up to the presence of God, we open ourselves up to His perfect peace.

Travel, Uncategorized

Day Trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina

To celebrate Mother’s Day with my husband and boys this past month, I decided I would like to take our first trip of the season to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It’s an easy 1 1/2 hour drive to the beautiful Outer Banks Islands from our home in Virginia. Along the way we pass fabulous Farmer’s Markets that are so much fun to stop and take a look around. One of them, Morris’, which I previously blogged about, is one of those places. You know spring has sprung when they open the doors for the season to the huge red building full of natures delicious bounty. There is plenty of great things to sample, cute sea inspired home decor items and a truly unique bathroom, (yes, I said bathroom) which makes it the perfect stop for a break along the way to the OBX. The bathrooms have a wonderful rustic, seaside charm. Each one is its own private sanctuary for the guest filled with antique pictures of the farm and surrounding area, but most importantly, is thoroughly cleaned after every patron and smell quite nice.

apple business fruit local
Photo by Erik Scheel on Pexels.com

The charming bathrooms run on donations and typically do have a little bit of a wait, however there are portable bathrooms available if you decide you can’t wait and don’t have a dollar or so to spare on gratuities. If you are lucky enough to visit Morris’ Farmer’s Market, PLEASE use their wonderful restroom facilities, it’s certainly not your typical bathroom break while traveling.

The excitement is palpable in the car as we cross over the Wright Memorial Bridge connecting the mainland of North Carolina to the OBX. The air seems more fresh and the vacation vibe is everywhere once on the island. It is time to relax and simply enjoy an afternoon escape with my family.

wood-wooden-number-home-decor-5733.jpg
Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

Our first stop is Trash to Treasure, a quaint antique shop on Croatan Hwy in Kill Devil Hills. The shop is open seven days a week and filled with eclectic treasures from days gone by. There are vintage pieces still in their original condition as well as fresh re purposed furniture ready to find a new home. There is a heavy nautical theme in the shop which makes it a perfect place to find that, “one of a kind” item for your beach cottage. I hope to visit some of the other antique stores that seem to be popping up along Croatan Hwy very soon!

We never go to the OBX without stopping at the Outer Banks Boarding Company. This is no “run of the mill” surf shop. It’s owned and operated by Lynn Shell, an internationally known surf board shaper and all around amazing guy. If you need a surf board or anything related to surfing or water sports, this is the place. Lynn’s vast knowledge of the sport and top of the line surf equipment make his shop the best of the best. It’s one of those home town places that we just want to always support, we wait until we can stop by the OBBC to make a purchase that we could easily buy back home. The place is jam packed with not only surfing equipment but apparel, shoes and all things “beachy”! Spending time talking with Lynn and browsing through his shop is definitely a must do!

After eating dinner and stopping for dessert at a frozen yogurt bar, we end the day with a relaxing walk along the beach in Nag’s Head. It’s really the perfect day in my opinion!!