Soul Food in Small Bites

If you’ve been reading this blog for long you know my delight with Zechariah 4:10 that cautions  “do not  despise the day of small things.” so this week I thought I’d share some “small things” that have inspired or delighted me.

Twice in the past two weeks we’ve spent time in D.C. and every time I’m here I’m distressed by the many homeless people on the street. I bring a supply of McDonald’s gift cards to give to those in need, but it’s such a small thing for such a big problem.

  1. I was inspired to see this story about someone else doing a small act of kindness that is so thoughtful.


2. Can you tell what this is?


It may sound crazy but it is the trail of a worm who made it from one end of a clay tennis court to the other. I absolutely marveled at the courage and resolve of this little guy.  

Did he get lonely? Discouraged? Scared? Did he consider that his efforts might end in failure or death? I know, I know…it’s a worm. But still!

This small picture of bravery made me think of small, but powerful efforts to resist violence in the Middle East.

This week John and I have been privileged to attend a leadership gathering hosted by The Telos Group, a remarkable organization committed to being pro Israeli, pro Palestinian, and pro peace. They have drawn together many of my heroes.

  • Robi Damelin, and Israeli mom who lost her son to a Palestinian sniper, working side by side with Bassam Aramin, a Palestinian whose 10-year-old daughter was gunned down by an Israeli soldier.
  • Daoud Nassar, a Palestinian Christian farmer surrounded by Israeli settlements and subjected to repeated persecution whose message is “We refuse to be enemies” and continues to respond to oppression with love.
  • Roni Keidar, a British Israeli living on the border to the Gaza strip, building bridges between people of all different faiths and political leanings.

Might you take a minute to pray for these hidden heroes who are doing small but courageous acts of love in hard places?

3. I’ve been reading a book with a small word for a title. 

Mark Batterson wrote IF to unpack Romans 8, the chapter about God’s unshakeable love, verse by verse.  I’ve been reading this devotionally, one chapter a day. Mark is inspiring and challenging as always. This is a book about possibilities!


4. A small dessert – Mini Caramel Apple Cheesecakes, a recipe I pinned from Cooking Classy. Check it out!


Sandra Bullock & 2 Important Questions to Tether You

A few years ago I felt like Sandra Bullock in Gravity – untethered, and floating in space.


We had just returned from a five month sabbatical and I was clueless about how the next season of my life would look.  What was my “place”?  Who was my “tribe”?  Was there anywhere God could use me to add value?

The answers seemed to be “nowhere”, “no-one”, and “nowhere” (again).

Maybe your circumstances are different, but you can relate.  You’re “in transition” (that horrible euphemism for “in a place that feels scary and directionless”). Or maybe you’re just feeling unsettled and under-utilized.

So I prayed.  And I prayed.  And I prayed.  And by that I mean I yelled at God a lot.

And once in awhile between my rants I tried to listen for His whispers.

And when I did, here’s what God said.  “Use the flour and oil I’ve already given you.”

Ok, it went a little different than that, but that was the bottom line.

And actually, God didn’t whisper, it was more like He shouted with clarity through the account of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath.

You remember that story in 1 Kings 17 when God sends Elijah to the widow telling him she’ll supply him with food, but when he arrives and asks for a meal she tells him all she has is a handful of flour and a little oil that she was going to use to make one last meal for her and her son before they die.

Elijah says, no problem, just start baking “from what you have” and God will make it enough.  And yep, “there was food for every day.”  “The jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry.”

So here are two questions I’ve been trying to answer each day:

1.  What’s your flour and oil?  Don’t focus on your nothing, focus on your something.  How often do you rehearse a list in your head that goes something like, “I don’t have…the right degree, an invitation, enough experience, contacts, a husband, money…”

Instead, identify the flour and oil (however small that may seem) that God has put in your hands.  It might be a relationship, or words, or a home, or information, or a car or a flexible schedule, or a pot of soup or an idea…

2.  What are you going to do with it today?  The flour and oil plan can seem fuzzy and uncomfortable, but that’s ok.  The good part of feeling out of control is that you have to trust God and lean into Him.  Like “Ok God, this is Your gig so I’m counting on You to show up and show me what I’ve got and how You want me to use it.  And BTW I’m not the sharpest crayon in the box so please make it clear.”

And maybe your flour and oil and what God wants to do with it has nothing to do with your “official” day job.

Four years later, I still don’t have a “real” job.  I don’t have a job title and I fumble and mumble when people ask what I do.  I just have a little flour and oil but God makes that enough.  Everyday.

Only God could come up with a crazy job description of kingdom capers that may  include launching a cakes for kids ministry at an inner-city tutoring center, helping create a live nativity, and being part of a movement to stop human trafficking among other things.  But that’s what He seems to be doing with His flour and oil plan.

You don’t need a snazzy title to define you or make you ok.  You don’t need power or applause or clarity (although all of those are really nice and tempting to hold onto!)  Part of the excitement of the journey is watching God take our ordinary selves and make something extraordinary that could only be Him at work.

God takes what we have and makes it more.  More than enough.

In what ways has God surprised you with what He can do with your “flour and oil”?

This is an edited repost from 2012.

Linking up today at…


Why Church?

I’m supposed to like church.

I’m a “pastor” of sorts, and a “pastor’s wife”.

I grew up “going to church” every Sunday. No. Matter. What.

I’ve been a Christian since I was 14.

I’m supposed to “do” church. I’m supposed to like church. And I do.

Most of the time.

But there are days…

Days when I’m tired, or I don’t particularly connect with the person preaching, or we’re in a series on Revelation, or it’s a rare Minnesota summer day and “I want to worship God in nature dontcha know?”


After all, what constitutes “legal” church? Your small group around the dinner table? Time in the woods reading your Bible? The 5 year olds Sunday School class you teach? Or is it only worship in the Big Church on Sunday?

If our whole heart belonged to Jesus, what would He desire? He’s not keen on rationalizing or self-centered consumerism, but He also has harsh words for the judgy pharisees.


Here’s one thing I know for sure. If participating in worship of some kind is optional, if it’s up for discussion each Sunday, it won’t happen more often than not. There will always be something tempting vying for our attention.

If you are someone who goes to church regularly, and I asked you “Why?” what would you say?

The question “Why go to church?” seems to surface a lot in these days of podcasts with world-class preachers and small groups full of people we like and absent of theology or politics we don’t.

You might just quote Hebrews 10:24-26 Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

But when I was thinking about this recently, what came to mind was Joshua and Jericho and the walls.

We spend six days a week looking at walls –  walls of problems and people and pitfalls.

And they can seem overwhelming. Insurmountable even.

Church is not a place, but when we gather together as the Church I think we’re reminded that we’re not alone in our wall-facing.

In worship:

  • Together we can give each other a leg up to see over the wall. Maybe even climb on someone’s shoulders as we hear the faith stories of others, both in Scripture and in our community.
  • The Holy Spirit can give us bionic glasses to see through the wall. We see a different perspective, a godly perspective maybe, that we haven’t considered.
  • Gathering in worship reminds us that we have a powerful God who can make the walls come tumbling down.

IMG_3530These are all benefits to us.

But more than anything, we gather to worship because God is worthy.

When we replace worship with podcasts or even small groups, the element that is missing is the physical discipline of going to a place at a time that may be inconvenient or uncomfortable and bowing before our creator and saying “This is not about me. You alone are worthy of praise.”

That said, make sure you’re part of the right church for you. Maybe ask: Am I experiencing the wall tumbling listed above even occasionally?  Is it a community where transformative relationships are possible? Is there the opportunity to serve within my gift mix?

If you are someone who goes to church, and I asked you “Why?” what would you say?

Soul Food for a New Month

It’s October, and I’m with Anne, reveling in a world of good gifts. Wispy clouds across the moon, the smell of cinnamon and wood smoke, crunchy leaves and vibrant color that needs no filter to enhance its beauty.


You may have noticed that I didn’t post on Wednesday like usual. It was hard for me to let it go, but it’s been an overfull week and when I prayed about it I sensed God whispering “It’s ok. It’s all Grace.” So I didn’t stress over it, and the world didn’t end. I’m learning that the discipline of mini-Sabbaths is an important one.

As a “do-er” prayer is another hard discipline, but this week we put together a prayer gathering that created environments for people to engage with God in a variety of ways.


In one of the prayer corners we had a fountain running.

For with You is the fountain of life, in Your light we see light. Psalm 36:5

We said: Listen to the sound of the water and think of God’s love washing over you.

Then take a blank rock and write something or someone you’re thankful for and place it in the fountain.

Lastly take a rock with an attribute of God written on it that you need to be reminded of.

FullSizeRender-35Maybe this is an exercise you can do on your own.

This was a reminder from another corner of the room.


Next, if you’ve been overwhelmed by all the bad news this week, take a look at 13 Inspiring Stories of Refugees Being Welcomed from Around the World.

And lastly, a couple of October recipes. The first one I tried last night and we loved it – it can be adapted in a bunch of ways.

Crab and Corn Chowder

6 bacon slices

2 celery ribs diced

1 green pepper diced

1 medium onion diced

1 32 oz. can/box Chicken broth

3 TB flour

3 cups fresh corn kernels (6 ears) If you don’t have some frozen from summer a yellow and white Birds Eye frozen mix works

1 lb fresh crab meat (I used 2 cans of lump crab meat, but you could also substitute chicken or shrimp, or leave out the meat)

1 cup whipping cream

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (I didn’t have this :( )

1/2 ts. salt

1/4 ts. pepper

fresh cilantro for garnish

Cook bacon in Dutch oven over medium heat 8-10 minutes til crisp. Remove bacon and drain on paper towel. RESERVE 2 TB drippings. Sauté celery, onion, and green pepper in drippings til tender (5-6 min)

Whisk together flour and broth til smooth. Add to celery mixture. Stir in corn. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. Gently stir in crab meat and rest of ingredients. Cook 4-5 minutes or til thoroughly heated. Makes 10 cups.


Zucchini Bread/Muffins

Mix 3 eggs

1 cup oil (yes, one cup :) )

3 tsp. vanilla

1/2 cup milk

Separately mix 2 cups sugar,

3 cups flour,

1 ts. salt,

1 ts. baking SODA,

1/4 ts. baking POWDER,

1 ts. each: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves.

Blend wet and dry ingredients together and then fold in 2 cups shredded zucchini.

If making bread, it goes in 2 greased 8″ or 9″ loaf pans and you bake for about 45 minutes at 350.

If making muffins, cut the time to about 25 minutes.


What Are Your Monuments?

As I write this John and I are in Washington D.C. for a few days of meetings and a chance to see our daughter and friends. Here, I am surrounded by monuments meant to remind us of the freedom we enjoy and the ways it was purchased at a high cost.

We lived here for a couple of years and are back frequently. Every time we come back we do new things, but we also return to visit the monuments we know.

Monuments help us remember our roots.


Returning to these and remembering their significance brought to mind a time when God prompted me to go back to another kind of monument.

A few years ago, there was a day when I was really shaken up.  Someone did something hurtful that left me rattled and wondering if I could be sure of anything.  It was one of those rare times when God prompted me and I actually paid attention.  I sensed Him saying, “Go back to what you know.” 

In the back of my mind, I thought I remembered that maybe this wasn’t the first time He had said this.  I checked and sure enough, I wasn’t the first one God said this to.

Isaiah 46:9 says, “Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.”

I felt guided to go back to a place I knew – a monument of sorts – a lake where I walked and prayed every day of a very difficult season of my life.  It became a holy place for me…a physical “rock and refuge” place.  A place where I cried out to God and was reminded of His power and sufficiency regarding any circumstances.


There I met God again.  While walking the path on this day I was nudged to go back and review what I knew of God and myself.  I needed to have Him remind me that I’m a precious child of His and nothing (not even mean people) can change that.  I needed to be reminded that even when I’m shaky He’s not and He still believes in me. I had stumbled, but I fell back into the loving arms of Jesus.

Do you think Mary ever went back to the stable in Bethlehem? Did David ever go back to the spot where he brought down Goliath?  Or did Peter row over the spot where he walked on water?  Each of them being strengthened by the monuments to God’s faithfulness?

When things knock you off stride, what/where do you return to?

Soul Food Cornucopia

How’s your week been? For me it’s been a delightfully cornucopia-full-type week of time with family and friends, and open doors to new ministry opportunities. But always along with fun “asks” comes the need for hard choices.

Saying “yes” to the best things, requires some “no’s” to some good things. When I say “best” I don’t think that necessarily means the most exciting or easiest things, but those that click with our gifts, passions, and season of life. I’ve heard from a bunch of you who are feeling stressed now, when everything is starting up and everyone seems to want or need something from you. Here’s an article I’ve been passing along that might be helpful – How to Say “No” When You Feel Pressured to say “Yes”

Aaaaannnd, if you need a little encouragement, check out this amazing video :) (sorry I couldn’t embed it in the post but it’s so worth a click!)

Seeing the Instagram post below from daughter Katy, prompted me to make my own batch of one of our favorite fall treats.


Here’s the recipe :)

PumpkinChocolate Chip Muffins

1/2 cup almond slivers toasted (can leave these out if you don’t like nuts)

1 2/3 cup flour

1 cup sugar

1 TB pumpkin pie spice

1 ts. baking soda

1/4 ts. baking powder

1/4 ts. salt

2 eggs

1 cup plain pumpkin (I accidentally used the whole can last year and they turned out great – just more moist. And what do you do with half a can of leftover pumpkin anyway?)

1 cup chocolate chips

1 stick butter melted (ARGH! I forgot this when I made them last week, but the world didn’t end)

Mix flour, sugar, and all dry ingredients.

Break eggs in another bowl. Whisk and add butter (cooled a little) and pumpkin. Pour over dry ingredients.

Mix in Chocolate chips. Pour in greased muffin tins. Bake 20-25 minutes (less if doing mini muffins). Store in plastic container.

YUM! And you’re welcome!

While enjoying a pumpkin chocolate chip muffin, here’s a delightful book I’ve been reading, by the same author who wrote Dear Mr. Knightly. It’s about two estranged sisters – one a chef, and the other fighting cancer, and a man who is a love interest. If you’re a foodie, or like Jane Austen references, or just want a good read, try Lizzy and Jane. by Katherine Reay.


And when this was my view as I was writing this morning, I thought of a C.S. Lewis quote John shared with me last night.

“Miracles…are a retelling in small letters the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some to see.”


What’s been some “soul food” you’ve enjoyed this week?


The other night I invited a bunch of young women over for snacky stuff and dessert, wine and coffee, candlelight, pumpkins, and “how are you’s?” They showed up looking like delightfully hip pulled-together young wives and moms.


Not everyone had met before, so we did some get-to-know-you stuff, but as the evening wore on, I felt a distinct nudge from the Holy Spirit. Truly out of “nowhere” I felt compelled to ask them to share a little about the season of life they’re in and the character quality of God that is most important to them today.

Now it would have been easy for them to open the door to their dusted and vacuumed “living room” like I had when I invited them into my home, but instead they were brave and authentic and before I knew it there were tears and prayers and a sense of feeding each other with love.

One way to feel stronger and less alone is to invite people into your really real life – into the rooms where things aren’t quite as neat and tidy as you might like.

When we’re vulnerable we remind each other that we’re all in the same boat, all dependent on the same Star-Shooter and Storm-Shusher, rocking along on the waves, looking for True North.

When we just share our shiny confident stories we tend to get compare-ish and competitive, but when we share our doubts and insecurities we hear “me too” and  find community.

People show up in our homes and in our lives hungry. But the food we share with each other isn’t always pumpkin bars. I opened my doors with a tiny “plan”, but I’m grateful that the Holy Spirit and some brave woman walked in and made it much more.

Let me give you some food so you may eat and have the strength to go on your way. 1 Samuel 28:22

Do you have places where you can share your real life? Are you creating safe places where others can open up?

When You Don’t Feel Strong or Courageous

Dear Baby David,

I know you’re with Jesus, but does that mean you know what’s going on here? How the heck does that work? I want to know.

I’m back in Glen Ellyn staying with our precious Susan for a couple of days. You’ve been gone from us for two months, and the season has changed from Summer to Officially Fall. IMG_1605This seems impossible. I want to yell “Noooooo!” How can the leaves turn, woodsmoke waft through the neighborhood, and life go on without you?  We can’t leave you behind. You are too real, too vibrant to not be present.

I continue to wake in the night, thinking of you, missing you, and praying for Susan.

The other night there was a last gasp of summer – heat lightning slicing through the dark like a strobe, just like the night you died. It will always make us think of the Angel Armies carrying you Home (with light show, parade and celebration).

I remember how concerned you were in those last months that your boys had to watch you become physically more weak. But in your physical brokenness you exuded a strength of spirit and deep character that was undeniable and could only be from the Lord.

One day towards the end, when you were in home hospice, you had been in excruciating pain. Kyle and I were standing on either side of your bed, helpless to do anything but tell you we loved you. Finally exhausted, you turned your head to me and whispered, “Strong and courageous.” Yes, David, you were.

Oh baby brother, how many times was that our refrain, our prayer? Together we continue to cling to Isaiah 41:10. “So do not fear for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

David, Susan longs for you, just like we all do. But she is walking forward bravely, even though it can feel like she’s living in a perpetual nightmare. You would be so proud of her. She is doing hard things, because she wants to honor God and you and your memory.

The other day she went with Sophia the wonder dog, back to Loyola Hospital where you spent some of your time, to continue her Therapy Dog ministry to patients there. You can imagine how terrifying it was when she was asked to go into a room where a young couple, the man with cancer, were preparing to go home to hospice. But she was strong and courageous because God in her is strong and courageous, as He was in you too.

Many others outside our family have been impacted by your life too. I continue to get notes from people I don’t know who have found comfort and encouragement in your story. October 18th you and Susan and the family are going to be honored at a run to raise money for Melanoma research. Do you know that Dr. Luke, your oncologist said you were the most courageous patient he ever had?  Yep. And he is going to be the race-starter.

One of the greatest gifts you gave us, David, was your rock solid, unwavering trust in God as the good Author of your story.  There are many days when we don’t feel strong or courageous. We want a different story. We want to cry and have you back with that infectious smile and indomitable spirit. But we continue to do hard things because you did. You remind us that it’s God in us who is strong and courageous.

I remain,

Your head cheerleader

If you want to run (even virtually) on “Team Dave – strong and courageous” click here.


Soul Food from a Full Week

It’s been a full week. In the best sense of the word.

It’s been full of moments when God just seems so present, and people are authentic, and joy is in the air like the woodsmoke from Autumn fires. Out of that fullness I want to share a few morsels of soul food that have been life-giving.

The other day when I wrote about Holy Drones, I referred to the (almost impossible for me) practice of being still before the Lord. Just silent and still…to become aware of His loving presence, closer than our breath.  I thought I’d share an app that has helped me. Note: you can set the amount of time for silence and I set mine for 3 minutes. That’s truly the most I can manage. I’m clearly not a natural contemplative!


I love, love, love good stories like this especially when it is men stepping up!


And lastly, some hospitality inspiration…

We went to a couples wedding shower this weekend and I absolutely LOVED this is idea! The Bible was given to the couple at the end of the party, full of love.


Then Wednesday night I had a bunch of young women over for a get-together and I was blown away by their vulnerability and present-ness. I made a little favor for them to take with them because I really wanted these young women who are in a stressful season of life to feel special.

However, 2 DISCLAIMERS regarding the following idea:

  1. I TOTALLY stole the idea from my friend, Mo, and tweaked it a bit for my get-together. She did something like this for a wedding shower with “She picked him.” on the tag instead. Thanks, Mo!
  2.  I like doing this, and in my season I have more margin, BUT making this kind of crafty gifty thing isn’t for everyone or for every season and THAT’S OK! We all have different gifts (My house was dusty and weeds have overtaken my gardens). More important to be present and welcoming than have a gift! Also, I did homemade caramel, but you could do store-bought if you want to make it easier. IMG_1568IMG_1563



What about you? Any soul food to share with the rest of us? What inspired you this week?

3 Times Not to Let it Go

The other day John was acting…you know…clueless and insensitive as men do sometimes. (Women never do that, right?)

Anyway, it was late and I was going up to bed. But my feelings were hurt.

Now at this point I had a decision to make. Was this a minor thing that could be blanketed in grace and forgotten, or was it something that would affect our relationship going forward if I didn’t address it?

Whether it’s in a marriage or friendship or work relationship, I think we face this tension often.

  • You have a friend who arranges to meet at you 6:00 and calls to cancel at 5:58.
  • You come downstairs feeling pretty good and your husband (thinking he’s paying you a compliment) says “Honey you look autumnal!” (I happen to have some first-had experience with this one. Men, let me just warn you, don’t do it. Your wife will hear, “You look like a pumpkin!”)
  • You’re struggling with infertility and have a friend who is constantly complaining about her kids.
  • An acquaintance moans to you about her weight when she clearly weighs a number you haven’t seen on the scale since you were 13.

Proverbs 19:11 says:

‘Good sense makes a man restrain his anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression or an offense’.

When we’re dinged, our go-to is supposed to be grace, right? We’re forgiven, so we need to be forgiving. Let it go. Let it goooooo.


But there are times when we need to be brave and talk out the offense with the offender.

I can think of 3 times that we shouldn’t let an offense slide:

  1. When it’s a pattern. The first few times our daughter Katy was stood up by a friend she was understanding and absorbed it. When it became a standard pattern she needed to confront her friend and say “If you want to get together, great. If you’re too busy, say so, but canceling last minute feels rude and discounting and it’s affecting our friendship.”
  2. If you need to question for better understanding. Many times our own baggage causes us to go to the worst interpretation of someone’s words or actions (like the autumnal “compliment”).  I wrote before,  we all tell a story to ourselves. Sometimes we need to ask questions to make sure we have an accurate picture of what’s going on.
  3. If it’s going to cause a root of bitterness. If you find yourself tossing and turning at night replaying the offense, if you avoid the offending person, if you make up conversations in your head to put them in their place, you need to pray and then go talk to the person.

One thing to remember when we do this…None of us is always at our sparkly best. We’re all, from time to time, self-absorbed, insensitive yahoos.  So when we’re on the other side, we need to go in humility with the goal of restoring the relationship, not shaming the other.

What’s your experience been with this? Do you have anything to add?

Linking up here today…



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