Anxiety or Joy

Ps 94:18-19  “When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,’ your love, O Lord, supported me.  When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.” (NIV)

What supports and upholds you in your day? Sunday morning I had a choice to make from the very start. I woke up with a very poor attitude to start the day. I sat on the edge of my bed wanting nothing more than to complain about everything… including a restless night with my toddler. The day was going to start miserable if I did not do something instantly. So, I decided to pick up the devotional that was sitting by my bed, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. It was about choosing thankfulness when we want to complain, ugh… Thanking God for everything and every circumstance so that our heart is transformed to be like Jesus instead of stepping through a land of complaining which leads to rebellion and regret.

Oh dear, you cannot read that and then choose to complain. So, I thanked God that my energy could only come from Him today. Thanked God that we are waiting. Thanked God for the projects and work He has provided to LeA’Tev. Thanked God for all of the amazing provision, blessings, and gifts He gives daily. And I thanked God that we are at a point in life where walking by faith seems more tangible then at other moments in life.

Then God provided tangible blessings and evidence of His supportive love from friends and family among three different states. What a joy when you realize God has prompted people to pray for you through their own circumstances, through brief meetings with them and through their dreams.

A good friend sent verses that challenged and encouraged my faith in God, including Psalm 94:18-19. Even when we think we are teetering and liable to fall, God is willing to uphold us with His love and replace our anxiety with joy. I am so thankful for the challenges of the day for without the challenges we sometimes miss seeing the blessings of God. Before we complain we have a choice of anxiety or love and joy.

Today, who can you show God’s love to? Who can you encourage and support? What a blessing it is to be a part of showing God’s supportive love and a joy to receive.

1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (NASB)

Thanksgiving… It is here!!!

I am so excited that Thanksgiving is on Thursday! I can hardly wait to see everyone and celebrate. I found coloring place-mats at Target and thankfully bought the exact number of people coming so far… unless there is someone else who joins in! Want a place to go where the cooking will be done for you! : ) Come on over!  (Don’t worry I’ll come up with additional place-mats for you to color!) Parade, people, food, games, and counting our blessings – I don’t think there can be a better agenda for a day!

Here are some of the things for which I am thankful this year:

  • My family who loves us, encourages, and prays for us
  • My husband who so lovingly deals with me and gently leads me to know Jesus more and who has endured and completed nearly 70 college credits in one calendar year – I am so proud of him
  • My son who is helping me understand how I need to obey God without excuse in the same way that we are trying to teach him to obey us without excuse : )
  • Endurance from God for the long days and hard times that are just a part of life
  • Encouragement from God and others that makes the long days worthwhile
  • The incredible support of some amazing friends who have walked through the crazy with us
  • Those who have encouraged LeA’Tev and allowed us to serve you this year
    • In particular, this past week I have been blessed by the response to the “Jesus is… Christmas” countdown. Your response and support of LeATev is among our many blessings and we have begun to pray daily for those that have received the cards. We are praying that they would truly help each person to focus on Jesus this Christmas and love Him more.

Thank you to those who read and follow this blog. Life is truly a beautiful design crafted by the Master Designer “who works all things together for the good of those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose.” (paraphrase of Romans 8:28)

Thank you for being a part of this sojourner’s journey; I am very thankful.

Thanks

Beautiful Disruption

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

This past week I worked on a t-shirt design with the words “beautiful disruption”. The words are the theme for the holiday season at Journey Church in Worthington, MN. They are a reminder that out of the disruptions of life God creates beauty. God is in the disruption; He allows and places circumstances and trials in our path that are contrary to what we thought the plan was for our life.

We all have daily disruptions… whether you are in the work place and receive constant disruption by bosses, co-workers, those you supervise, customers, venders, etc.; or if you work from or at home where children and pets offer about a kazillion disruptions per day. And everyone deals with the disruption of the phone, email, IM, and social media!

And we all have life disruptions – major and minor events that change the course of a day, a week, a month, or a lifetime.

In his book Margin, Dr. Swenson discusses the need to have margin in our spiritual life, emotional health, physical health, and schedules so that we can handle and even embrace disruptions. Mary, the mother of Jesus, displayed well her embrace of God’s disruption on her life. Mary’s responses to God’s angel telling her she is going to conceive are “How can this be since I am virgin?” and “I am the Lord’s servant, may it be to me as you have said.” She asks a question of logistics and curiosity, accepts the explanation, and willingly sets aside her plans for God’s disruption in her world.

Mary’s response to God’s major, life-altering disruption models an exemplary attitude. She held loosely to everything in her life – her dreams, her plans, her ideals. In a single conversation her life went from the average young Jewish girl to an extraordinary off-course, unchartered path with an uncertain future. But she does not even seem to fret for a moment.

Mary says – “OK, I am God’s. I am not my own.” She goes to visit her relative Elizabeth not too long after her conversation with the Angel, but she does not go to receive consolation or complain about the uncertainty of her future because of the plight God has given her… nope. Mary sings the Magnificat of praise to “Mighty One [who] has done great things for me.” (Luke 1:49)

We are thankful for the harvest God has given, for His salvation, for His provision and family and friends He has blessed us with and so many other good gifts. But, are we thankful for the disruptions and difficulties of the year? Do I recall that I am not my own, I was bought at a price; I belong to God? (1Corinthians 6:19-20) Do we recount God’s praise in our struggle or rehash our lack of faith to others? Do I hold loosely to every hope, dream, and even my life because I trust in God alone?

Luke 14:33 tells us that “in the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” (emphasis mine) Mary was willing to give up everything – she was a disciple of God. The question of holding things loosely is not just a good thought it is indicative of my relationship to Jesus Christ as a disciple.

BeautifulDisruption

17 days and counting…

Anticipation!! It is such a great gift. It is so much fun to think about good things that are coming and plan for the fun to be had! One of the things that I am so excited about is Thanksgiving!!! I was even more excited when I went in to Target last night and saw Thanksgiving decorations! One more reason to shop at Target. : )

Thanksgiving is so much fun and so relaxing! I really, REALLY like watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and watching football and looking through newspaper ads and cooking turkey. I actually think the whole of weekend of Thanksgiving is a holiday. Thanksgiving is four days of spending time together and remembering all that we have to be thankful for – I love it!

I am a bit behind in my Thanksgiving decorations, but I am hopeful to have everything up and ready to go by the end of the week – complete with a cornucopia. The week gets to conclude with a neighborhood fall block party… there is always a great reason to party and get to know people. How are you preparing for Thanksgiving?

FallBlockParty

I hope that you are looking forward to Thanksgiving and counting your blessings… we have so much to be thankful for!

Productive & Thankful

The gardening season at the Haxton house came to near completion this weekend… with the exception of a few broccoli plants all of the potatoes, onions, tomatoes and peppers were dug up, picked and brought inside. My sister looked up spaghetti recipes and two large pots of spaghetti sauce were made… the equivalent of 10 jars of sauce – or a paper grocery bag and a half full of tomatoes.

Our first year of gardening was quite the adventure of learning and experiments with a few failed attempts and much thankfulness for everything that God provided. The final experiment is in progress as Tim & I transplanted 11 pepper plants to pots and brought them inside. Lord willing, they will grow and finish producing the buds on them or at least ripening the peppers they hold!

Ultimately God grows food and provides; I am so thankful for everything He has graciously given!Harvest-1

Marinara Sauce Recipe… based on recipe by the Pioneer Woman and adapted by Debra Moe

  • A bunch of fresh tomatoes skinned, gutted (at least the seeds and majority of the water), and chopped.
    • Approximately 5-7 lb. or just under a 2’x3′ area of single layer tomatoes : )
  • 2 green bell peppers, chopped
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 1 whole garlic bunch
  • 2 Tbl. fresh chopped basil
  • 1 Tbl. + Oregano
  • +/- 2 Tbl. Olive Oil
  • 2  cans tomato paste (c. 12 oz.)

In a large pot add Olive Oil, enough to lightly cover the bottom. Add the green pepper and onion and sautee until just barely transulent.

Add the tomatoes until you they are approximately 1 – 1 1/2 inches from the top of the pot.

Gently stir in the tomato paste, garlic, basil, oregano. Stirring after each addition very carefully!

Your pot is now probably at it maximum fill or 1/4″ – 1/2″ from the top. Keep the heat on low and keep it uncovered.

Be patient! Let it sit on low, uncovered, on your stove top for the next 5 – 6 hours. Stir occasionally or at least once an hour. If you are going to serve it at this point you certainly can. If you would like it to be smoother run a hand mixer through it very carefully.

If you are freezing it… put it in the fridge, uncovered overnight. More of the water will evaporate and then it will be much easier to blend to the consistency you would like it to be.

Once blended put it into your containers to freeze or can and enjoy on a day that calls for a quick dinner!

Fall is here!

Fall classroom units are planned, children are back at their desks, gardens are producing harvest, and football is beginning again. Signs that fall is here!

Each season brings new beginnings. I love starting the fall activities at our church and seeing kids start a new grade (which somehow makes them seem older so quickly!). The beauty of the harvest and the leaves. Sweatshirt-weather and high school football games. Brach’s candy corn and mellow pumpkins. And I cannot help but long to spend fall days at Edward’s Apple Orchard in Poplar Grove, IL.

The sadness of saying goodbye to summer still lingers… I want to soak in every ounce of heat I can before the chill and cold settle in for a stay. I want to print the fun pictures of family visiting, summer birthdays, and teacher-friends who once had more time during summer months. I’ll embrace the fall, but oh I love and long for the warmth of summer fun!

Are you ready for fall? Pumpkin cookies and apple cider, trick-or-treat, and football? Fall is a fun season on its own. A delightful season of anticipation. A season that culminates in the holiday of Thanksgiving. A beautiful celebration to help us carry an “attitude of gratitude” all year. I worked on thank-you notes over the past week… an excellent reminder of how many things and people I have to be thankful for. In the midst of today, perhaps one person comes to mind who needs to know that you are thankful for their presence in your life. Write just one thank-you this week.

Fall is here! Celebrate the beauty of the new things, enjoy the harvest that God has given from your garden or grocery store. Start making your list of things to be thankful for… there is always lots no matter what circumstances you find yourself in right now.

Fall-is-Here