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.

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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.

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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!!

Live, Uncategorized

Breakfast on the Beach with Jesus

4 As morning was breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; however, the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 So Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish [to eat along with your bread]?” They answered, “No.” 6 And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find some.” So they cast [the net], and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great catch of fish. 7 Then that disciple (John) whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer tunic (for he was stripped for work) and threw himself into the sea [and swam ashore]. 8 But the other disciples came in the small boat, for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards away, dragging the net full of fish.
9 So when they got out on the beach, they saw a charcoal fire set up and fish on it cooking, and bread.   John 21:4-9

Try to envision what that must have looked like to Peter that morning…seeing Jesus. His friend and Messiah who he had just watched be crucified and suffer a horrible death. Now Peter sees Jesus on the beach through the misty crisp morning air next to an inviting crackling fire. I think Peter must have rubbed his eyes a couple of times, squinting through the fog and his own disbelief. Could that really be Jesus? But Jesus was there on that miraculous morning. Not only was Jesus patiently waiting for His disciples on the beach that morning, but he was making them breakfast. That blows my mind! Jesus was making them breakfast on the beach… just take that in for a minute. I can’t imagine eating breakfast, (which happens to be my favorite meal), on the beach with Jesus, (which also happens to be one of my favorite places to be). The Creator of the Universe was serving them and meeting them right where they were. Breakfast on the beach with Jesus is absolutely one of he most beautiful visuals of Jesus’ love for us from the scriptures in my opinion.

Peter had walked beside Jesus and been a part of His amazing and oftentimes controversial ministry on earth, he was part of the original 12 disciples. Peter was the boisterous and zealous disciple, he was a fighter — maybe best known for cutting off the ear of one of the soldiers that had come to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Peter witnessed miracle upon miracle at the hands of Jesus and was always bold in his service for Him. He accompanied Jesus as they fed the thousands of people with the loaves and fishes, he watched in amazement at the beautiful healing work of the Messiah and even offered his services (as silly as it sounded) to provide shelter for Jesus, Moses and Elijah at the transfiguration. Peter believed with everything that he had within him that Jesus was the Messiah and was constantly trying to prove his love for his Master.

BUT – Peter STILL denied Jesus three times after Jesus’ death.

Peter must have felt so confused and horribly ashamed at his actions against his Savior. He may have even doubted everything he had just been through, all the miracles and teachings at Jesus’ feet. Was it all for nothing? Im sure in Peter’s desperation and fear he acted in haste, denying his relationship with his beloved.

It seemed Peter was at a desperate place after all the events that had just unfolded and he didn’t know what to do after Jesus’ death. So feeling defeated, he just went back to the only thing he knew…fishing on the Sea of Galilee.

Who was God to Peter?

Peter knew Christ well. He had experienced a heavenly encounter on earth with God’s Son, they had served together and walked the dusty roads spreading the message of Christ to the Jews and the Gentiles. This was not a casual relationship, it was a firmly rooted friendship and Peter truly loved Jesus. But, yet Peter was able to deny Him.

Jesus, filled with grace, goes on to give Peter three opportunities to profess his love for Him. After doing so, Jesus gives Peter a purpose and commissions him for ministry on that magnificent morning together on the beach. Peter obediently responds to the call and serves God faithfully the rest of His life.

This account of Peter and Jesus and the reality of their relationship prompts me to examine my own thoughts on who Jesus is, my relationship with Him and how I can better serve Him.  Here are three questions to ask yourself if you are wanting to know Jesus more intimately…

What tangible ways can you get to better acquainted with God?

List some characteristics of God based on the text.

Who is God to you?

Live, Uncategorized

What is a Successful church?

successful
[suh k-ses-fuh l]
Spell adjective
1. achieving or having achieved success.

2. having attained wealth, position, honors, or the like.

3. resulting in or attended with success.

I’m not exactly sure how to measure a successful church based on Webster’s Dictionary’s definition.  It just doesn’t seem to accurately articulate what the body of Christ is capable of through the power of the Holy Spirit and our obedience to His Word.  Webster’s definition captures what success looks like here on earth, but falls short of capturing an eternal perspective of what success should look like as we follow Christ and His commands as the church.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic recently as I’ve studied Paul and his missionary journeys and the development of the New Testament Church. The older I get the more I’m convinced it’s not about numbers or the latest and greatest in ideas or technology. I have a sense of the church being a back to the basics, grass roots ideology that we are here to point the lost in the right direction. It’s a simple concept, but it’s our mission. We, as believers. are the church.  There are many styles and formats to get people on our campus and in the building, but once they’ve entered the doors of our sanctuary, it is really time for the Holy Spirit to do the work.
I’ve been convicted and challenged as Ive been studying Acts and the purity of Paul’s heart as he bravely entered each town along his journey with a heavenly message. His fearless proclamation of Jesus’ love for all people, even as they hurled jagged stones at his body time and time again, is mind blowing. I’m so comfortable in my nice home and familiar surroundings, my life is scheduled and I rarely deviate from my daily routines. My fear is that I’m not being an effective Christian and using my time wisely on this earth. Paul never found comfort in his quest, but he always had joy. His joy was pointing the lost in the right direction…the direction of Jesus.
Paul’s success of spreading the gospel came with a lot of hardship and ultimately his death. Are we there as a church? Am I willing to be uncomfortable for Christ? Am I willing to put others needs before my own? What does it mean to be a true servant? Will I love someone enough to speak the truth into their life, even if they don’t want to hear it?
Do I have a faith as strong as my dad who once said he wouldn’t change anything about his life, not even his disease that slowly and tragically robbed him of just about every bodily function and ultimately took his life. He couldn’t sit around a table to enjoy a good steak and conversation with friends, he couldn’t speak to his grandchildren or tell his wife that he loved her. He couldn’t run and play ball with his grandsons anymore. On a bad day, he couldn’t even breath without assistance. He had an obnoxious hole in is throat and in the middle of his stomach that hurt and regularly became infected, causing him to have daily struggles. But he wouldn’t have wanted to change a thing?
He also wouldn’t have changed the over thirty years of ministry where he pointed people in the right direction, scrubbed toilets, comforted those who were grieving, opened his home to strangers, provided for those who couldn’t provide for themselves, visited those in jail and the list goes on. So many of the back to basics human needs we find Jesus and the disciples doing as they went from city to city, household to household and pointed people in the right direction. My dad’s life was not perfect but I think he found success because he had joy in the journey as he pointed people to Christ. He wouldn’t change a thing, good or bad.
What does this mean for the church? I think we have to have joy in the journey, even when faced with our own personal struggles, and still be able to put others’ needs first. I remind myself often that it’s “not about me” when I’m down and want to give up. I’m here to point that wayward teen or single mom that is at her wits end, the wiggly three year old that can’t sit still during a Sunday School lesson in the right direction. What do people do once pointed in the right direction? I don’t know…That’s personal, it is really up to them. What is our responsibility as the church? I think it’s simply to create an environment where the Holy Spirit can do the work and people will leave feeling something they’ve never felt before. We need to be the hands and feet of Jesus daily to a hurting and lost world.  We need to point people in the right direction then we have a responsibility to help keep them on track through discipleship and study of God’s amazing Word.
Something beautiful…
something life changing…
something real…
Maybe that’s success, maybe that’s just “back to the basics” Christianity. But whatever it is, it is essential and life giving and our responsibility as the church and as individuals to fulfill.

Eat, Uncategorized

Easter Brunch French Toast

I recently made an overnight french toast recipe that I found while searching through stacks of recipes.  I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for, so I added a couple ingredients, adjusted some of the measurements of the ingredients I kept, and omitted a few things.  I have to admit that I really liked it and it was simple.  I will be adding this to my Easter brunch menu this year because of the simplicity, taste and the fact it can feed a lot of people.  The secret to this french toast is the delicious challah bread and added butter!  I used almond milk because I don’t drink regular milk and oftentimes don’t have regular milk on hand, but you certainly can use regular milk.  Full disclosure: this is not a healthy recipe, BUT it’s a fun dish that is suitable for the holidays and should please a crowd!!! Make it your own by adding a layer of your favorite fruit on top like bananas, blueberries or apples.

I actually doubled the recipe, if you would like to do that just double all the ingredients listed below…

Ingredients:

1 loaf of challah bread

6 eggs

1 1/2 C almond milk (vanilla flavored)

1/3 C white sugar

1 tsp bourbon vanilla extract

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

butter

For Glaze:

1/2 C white sugar

1/2 C brown sugar

1/4 C flour

1/2 C butter

1/2 C almond milk

2 tsp vanilla

Tear bread into 1 1/2 inch thick slices and place in a lightly greased 9×13 inch baking dish. In a large bowl, beat eggs with 1 1/2 cup almond milk, 1/3 cup white sugar, and 1 tablespoon bourbon vanilla. Pour egg mixture over bread slices.  Sprinkle cinnamon, nutmeg, and 2 tablespoons white sugar over bread and egg mixture. Dot entire dish with butter, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Bake toast in preheated oven until golden brown, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, combine 1/2 cup white sugar, flour, and margarine. Stir in brown sugar, 1/2 cup almond milk, and 2 teaspoons vanilla in a small saucepan. Cook until thick. Serve French toast hot with warm sauce.