Sunday, December 1, 2013

Wait, I thought we only had 5 senses....

We all know that we have 5 senses: taste, touch, smell, vision, and hearing. And some people have to claim a 6th sense, which is usually something ridiculous like knowing when something is about to happen or about the weather or if some one is a decent human being or not. That's really not a sense, that's more like discernment and wisdom. BUT I just learned something new at a recent therapy conference I went to.....

So I am working at a child development center where we see a ton of different, unique kids with a multitude of skills and abilities. One of the challenges we are seeing more kids dealing with is called sensory integration disorders. Basically, their bodies and brains get easily overloaded with all the sensory input that the world around them is constantly trying to hit them with. Have you ever been in a candle shop that started to make you nauseous from the over powering smell? Or been at a rock concert where the volume was a little too loud and you just wanted to close your ears? Tried to try tapioca pudding but just couldn't get over the frog-egg texture? Shopped in Walmart?  These are just teeny, tiny examples of what a child with a  sensory integration disorder deals with 24/7. In order to help therapists understand what it's like to be one of these kids, several of my co-workers taught a mini conference on it this fall. It was a blast. Basically we put fully grown, neurologically "typical" adults into sensory overload and then gave them various strategies to cope and regulate their brains and bodies. Ever wonder why you chew copious amounts of gum when you're trying to focus on that difficult task? Why listening to classical music takes you to that happy place? Why that lavender bubble bath is just so darn relaxing? It's a way of using your sensory system to bring yourself back to "normal".

Here's the kicker, though. We don't have 5 senses. We have SEVEN. Yup. There are two other sensory systems that are integral in being a human being. Number six is called proprioception. It's the one that tells your brain where your body is in space, what your limbs are doing and where they are at any given time as well as the amount of strength and force you need to move your muscles to do what you want to do. Know some one who is super klutzy and trips over invisible rocks on the sidewalk? They probably don't have the best sense of proprioception. They're always bumping into things and not too coordinated. The lucky sense number seven is related to the vestibular system, which contributes to balance and your sense of spatial orientation to gravity as well as movement and balance. This sense tells us which way is up and helps keep us on our feet. If you've ever been swept away in a ginormous wave in the ocean and found yourself swimming endlessly looking for air but you just can't seem to locate the surface, this sense has just been messed with.

In the therapeutic world, this information helps us work with children by focusing on the systems that may be interfering with learning. In the spiritual world, this has huge implications. The Bible tells use that we are made up of three parts: the body, soul, and spirit. Our bodies are obvious, that's our physical, living, breathing, organic matter. Our souls are our thoughts and emotions. Our spirits are what separate us from the rest of the animal kingdom and connect us to the Kingdom through the Holy Spirit. (That is a basic explanation, maybe one day I'll write a whole blog on that, but for now if you have questions let me know). How else are we supposed to wear the armor mentioned in Ephesians? Anyway, long story short, not only do our physical bodies have 7 senses in the natural, but we also have 7 senses in our spiritual bodies. Think about it. Jesus uses this language all the time. Not only was he constantly "seeing" what the Father was doing, but he was telling us to as well. He was perpetually telling the Pharisees that whoever had eyes should see and ears should hear. He wasn't suggesting they were all blind mutes. The other senses are referenced throughout the Bible, too. Psalm 38 says, "Taste and see that the Lord is good." And we are to eat the body and drink the blood of Jesus.  There are plenty of references to the typical 5 senses. But what if we had all 7 senses in the spirit as well? A proprioception to know where we are in relation to the rest of the Body, where our spiritual "muscles" are, and how they're flexed. A vestibular system that tells us where we are in relation to the Holy Spirit (who is our center), our movement in the spirit, which direction we need to go, and whether or not we are in balance. Ponder it for a while. Makes sense.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Back in the Saddle

Hey, everyone!! I am settling into life in California and am so glad the Tupperware is all unpacked!! Woot woot!! As most of you know who follow my blog or facebook, I have settled in and am starting to make new friends and community out here. When I moved in to Simi Valley, I found a Vineyard church plant that meets not too far from where I live. The church is an amazing group of people that already feel like family. So you can imagine how thrilled I am that they wanted to go on a missions trip back to Costa Rica with me in March!!  We're packing out bags and getting our hearts ready for working in Los Anonos!! I am going to be raising funds for this trip. I have set up a special website for fundraising. Please check out the link below (click on the picture or the link directly below it) if you're interested in continuing your support of my trip!! If you have any questions, feel free to email, call, or facebook!!! THANKS!!!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Love, Love, Love

Something I have been thinking a lot about lately is love. Ok, I always think about love. But I've been thinking about how often we actually state our love.   In English we tend to overuse the same word regardless of what is the object of our affection. I love my kitten, my cappuccino and world peace, my mom, that painting over there and my spouse, too.  And yet while we flippantly say "That was the best movie I've ever seen! I LOVED it!!", we typically reserve saying "I love you" directly to others in only the deepest of most intimate types of relationships: Fathers to sons, nieces to beloved aunts, committed boyfriends to girlfriends after many serious DTR's. In our society there is a stigma and a whole set of unwritten rules of behavior for what accompanies those three words. Which makes it really difficult and confusing when we talk about wanting to love our neighbor and our enemy while maintaining health boundaries. I mean in our culture it can be really hard to say that to somebody without it getting really awkward really fast. A woman can say to another woman "Luv u!" and society says they are just good friends. If that same woman says it to a man survey says they better be in a relationship. It has a stigma that are attached to it. So instead of saying it, we're afraid of it and keep it locked away for special occasions.

Saying I love you in a language that has multiple verbs is so much easier than in English. In Greek, for instance, there are 4 different types of love. It' so much easier to clarify your intentions when you say "I philia you" (which is the brotherly type) versus "I eros you" (which means you're horny for them). I feel-e-yah there, too, buddy. If you haven't heard a sermon on the 4 Greek words for love, you should go to church more often (just teasing!!). You can look them up online to see what they are.

Just look at the passage in John 21 when Jesus asks Peter if he loves him. In English he asks Peter the same question 3 times. When I lived in Costa Rica and read this passage for the first time, I realized that in Spanish there is a verb change. And I later found out it's the same in the Greek. The first two times, Jesus asks Peter if he AGAPE loves him, and Peter responds he PHILIA loves him. So the third time Jesus lowers his love standard to Peter's level and asks him is he PHILIA loves him. This is when Peter gets offended. Hasn't he already been saying that? But no, Peter was offering Jesus a lower kind of love than Jesus was looking for. This point was overlooked in sermons I heard for YEARS. There was a distinction in the kind of love Jesus was looking for that one word could not capture.
What I've been thinking about on our word "love" mostly relates back to another post I recently wrote on the power of our words. How powerful is it to hear someone say they love you. And how much more powerful is it for you to say it back? It is a challenge for us where our word is nebulous and can mean anything from hopeless infatuation, intense like, preference, or in favor of. Regardless, we have been called to love. Love God. Love ourselves. Love our neighbors. Love our enemies. We should stop worrying about what others will think and start saying how much we care. And I will start. I love you. I love you a lot. If you need to hear it and not just see it, give me a call. I will tell you. Because it's true. I love you. And you are my favorite.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The landfill

I think this is such a perfect picture for our lives in Christ. He takes the trash from the landfill in our hearts and turns it into a beautiful instrument that we can use for praise and worship. We have a choice to join in to the beautiful thing God is creating in our lives in the midst of sorrow, poverty, and pain.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Expression 58 | School of Ministry

                                                                                                                                                                    So a few posts back I mentioned that I felt called to LA to be a new kind of missionary. I have been going to a church just outside of downtown LA called Expression 58 since I moved here. It's a church plant out of the Bethel Church (in Redding, CA) and the International House of Prayer (IHOP/Kansas City). It also has some loose connections to the Vineyard church (mostly because of it's charismatic nature, in my eyes). In September a school of ministry was launched from the church. I was asked to join in the school as a leader during the small group breakout sessions which happen every Thursday night for the next 8 months. This is just an update for my missions followers on what I'm doing as part of my new mission of discipleship here in LA. If it's too much written info, just watch the video ;) The blurb on the school is taken directly from their website. If you're interested in attending, check out

Expression58 established the School of Ministry to be a supernatural training center to instruct, activate and empower a generation of world changers to pursue and captivate their God-given spheres of influence. The DNA convergence of Love, Creativity and Justice are core pillars of our curriculum. E58 believes in the marriage of the arts & entertainment with social justice initiatives that will transform culture. 

Expression58 is dedicated to the belief that God is in a good mood, fully engaging and equipping His followers with tools to demonstrate the goodness of His nature. E58 uses the life of Jesus as a model for ministry:
I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I’ve done and even greater works, because I’m going to the Father.” (John 14:12)
Expression 58 School of Ministry focuses on assimilating the core values of the Kingdom into the heart of the Believer and establishing God’s Royal identity in the mind of each student. Students will also learn leadership principles to gain an understanding on how to lead people and establish the Kingdom in every realm of society. You are invited on an adventure of discovering your role in stewarding this current “Kingdom Renaissance” from merely echoing a message to becoming a message and re-presenting Christ to this generation.

Our words have power

I've heard about studies like this. There was once one done by a scientist where he took a batch of white rice and split it into two containers. Over one container he spoke only words of love and affirmation. Over the other container he spoke hateful, spiteful words. Within even a few days the difference was noticeable. The rice over which he spoke love was still as white and clean as the day it was put in the container, but the rice that had hateful words spoken over it was molding and had black spots on it. To check it out, google some combination of experiment with rice and words. A ton of people have copied it and it seems to hold pretty true. Or try it yourself.

This is not a new concept. It's a very old one, actually. The Bible says in Proverbs 18:21 that "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit." This experiment is just the proof of it.

So here's what I was thinking. How often do I speak negatively over myself? I hate my thighs. I wish I wasn't so giraffe-like tall. I wish I had an amazing voice. How much is my words actually impacting how I am? OK, so I can't change my height by speaking it over myself, but I could change how I stand in my height, or how I view myself because of my height. How often do I speak negatively over my situation? I'm tired of being single. I hate living alone. LA traffic sucks. What if I started speaking out positively over myself and the world around me? Would it have the same effect as on the rice? Would the world actually be less moldy? I'm gonna give it a try. Here's your challenge, all you readers out there, will you try it too? Pick one feature that you have never liked about yourself. Look at it either in the mirror or on your body and every day for a whole week speak only loving, encouraging words about it. I dare you. See what happens. Pick a situation in your life that has you down. Speak  only positive message about it. Out loud. Note the change. Let me know how it goes!!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Love Languages

A few months ago when I was at the Vineyard Church National Conference, I attended a worship workshop lead by Dan Wilt. He is a phenomenal musician and worship leader. To start off the session, he had us campfire style the room, i.e., get in a big round circle. There were about 150-200 worship leaders in the room from all over the country. It was a bit awkward with all the chairs set up for a lecture, but we made it work. Then Dan stood in the middle and lead us in a very old, very simple worship song. The kind of song that EVERYBODY knows, with really simple words and a basic melody. And then it happened. Everyone started singing in harmony. Everyone started singing in unity. And Everyone could feel a shift in the atmosphere. Like Heaven was not only listening but joining in. It was the kind of moment where all the little hairs on the back of your head stand on end and there's a vibrant electricity in the room that makes you want to cry and pause time so that it lasts forever. 

It was in that moment that I heard the Lord speak. Do you know what the love languages are? I felt him nudge. Yes. Of course. As most of you have probably heard of them, there are 5 "love languages", or ways that we receive and give love. Quality time, acts of service, gifts, words of affirmation, and physical touch. while we as humans typically like to give and receive love through 1 or 2 of the 5 love languages, God "speaks" all 5 languages all the time. When we as true worshipers gather to worship in spirit and in truth, that type of worship actually represents all 5 languages at once. We give Him the words of affirmation He deserves through the lyrics we chose to sing. They tell of his attributes and remind him of what he's done for us. We are spending the best quality time with Him. We set aside all other tasks and chores to just gather together and focus our hearts and our minds on him. We are having the act of service of the sacrifice of praise. We give Him the gift of ourselves, completely and totally, our minds, bodies, souls, and spirits. And by its very nature, worship at its roots means to kiss, so our worship itself acts to physically touch God in the most intimate of ways.

So the next time you're in worship at church and you feel your mind start to wander about the list of things to do later, just remember that what you're doing is speaking directly to all of God's love languages. 

Divine Appointments

Yesterday I had the most delightful time dress shopping with one of my best friends in the world, Sarah. We were on the hunt for the perfect gown for the Justice Ball that we'll be going to on Tuesday. While usually I love to leisurely peruse the racks and try on everything in sight, we only had an hour and a half due to some other commitments later that afternoon. So we were on a mission: I've never seen two girls cross the mall so far (and in heels!). Dresses flying, racks tumbling over in the quest, baby carriages pushed out of the way, Cinnabons flying through the air as we dashed about!! (Ok, that's a major exaggeration, but it makes for good story telling). We finally found the most stunning gown in the world!! (At the opposite end of the mall from where we parked, of course). And we were late. We flew back through the department stores only to realize the escalator down to the parking garage was broken. Where are the stairs? Those are never convenient in the mall. It's like they're afraid you won't see their merchandise if you're not slowly moving through the middle of the store at a pace that makes you look around at all the wonders that beckon to find a new home. Fine, the elevator will do just fine and it's right behind the escaltors.

We get on only to have it go, that's right, up instead of down. Sheesh. Can't the elves hoisting this tin can up and down see that we're running later? Who pushed the up button?? We go up. And about a dozen people get on, including 2 elderly women speaking what sounded like Russian hurriedly try to shove on an ancient woman with a walker into the cramped elevator. As the doors shut leaving us very little wiggle room, I find myself toe to toe with the petite babushka. And the elevator decides to go up again. I look down, waaaaaay down, into her scarf-framed, angelic face and she looks us at me and she does something unexpected in a crowded elevator. She grabs my hand. She grabs my hand in her weathered, frail hand and, with eyes full of great-grandmotherly twinkle,  starts speaking, knowing  that I will probably have no idea what she's saying. But what was lacking in intelligible words was abundantly clear in feeling and tone. It was as if she was blessing me. So I did the only sensible thing one can do in a crammed elevator with no place to go and no where to be. I placed my hand on top of the one holding my other one and started blessing her back, knowing full well she would probably have no idea what I was saying. Knowing that what I wouldn't be able to communicate in intelligible word would be felt through the eyes and tone of love.

When the elevator doors opened, we were not only in a different place, but so was I. I was no longer hurried. Something changed when she grabbed my hand. It reminded me that no matter how busy we get, we should never be too busy to stop and love the one in front of us. Even if it is only for the three minute ride in a crammed elevator.

Who is right in front of you today? Who will you love well in the little moments?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Birthdays, dreams, and truth.

Friday night I had a dream about snakes. Six snakes, to be exact. In a sewer where I was searching for diamonds. Actually, I only saw one snake as it came down the drain pipe, but I knew there were a total of six in the murky, swampy water that pooled at the bottom of the cave where I was mining. It was one of those dreams where you wake up and you aren't afraid, but you are curious. It was one of those dreams that leaves you pondering for days about the meaning.

Tonight is Monday. Well, only for a few more minutes. Tonight is also one of my dearest friend, Sarah's, birthday. So in true LA style, several of us got on our hottest dresses, our highest heels, and hit the town to celebrate our lovely Princess!! We went to this amazing cocktail lounge on the 35th floor that has the most spectacular view, because it is constantly changing. The entire lounge actually slowly, almost not perceptively rotates, so if you stay there long enough you get a 365 degree view of downtown LA. AMAZING!!!
A partial view of the lounge

While we were there, one of the girls brought up a dream that she had a recently. We love sharing and figuring out what our dreams mean together. It's fascinating what goes on in our minds in the night. So she shared her dream and another friend told her what she thought it meant. Then I shared my dream about the snakes. Lies. Snake in dreams usually represent lies. Lies while searching for truth that shine like diamonds in the dark places. Yup. Sounds about right.

Then Sarah asked us to each share a single word that summed up what we were hoping this next season in our lives would bring. We each went around and shared. Rest. Transformation. Family.  And so forth. We poured out our hearts about how we were looking forward in hope to what we felt was missing in our lives. Then it hit me smack in the face. There were six of us. Six lovely women ready to break forth into the next season of their lives but feeling stuck. And in our own ways believing little lies from the enemy about our destinies and keeping us from fully hoping in the promises that we knew should be ours. So we all agreed and said enough is enough to the lies!

So what do you hope for in this next season of your life? Healing? Victory? A pay increase? A job that you actually like? Love? Peace and quiet? What lie are you believing that is causing friction with hope? That you're not worthy to be healed? That it's your cross to bear? That you're a loser? That you don't deserve any better? That's not the truth. So stop agreeing with it. It's time to walk into your destiny in Christ!!
  We were missing one in this photo op....another picture of all of us to follow....

Monday, September 2, 2013

Unlikely Mission Field

Yesterday was monumental. I didn't even realize it until about half way through the day. I went out to lunch after church with some new friends and we were sitting outside of a little restaurant talking natural health and essential oils when some one mentioned it was official September. Wow. September 1. Monumental. That marked to the date 6 months since I moved from Grand Rapids to California and one year to the day that I moved home from Costa Rica. Coincidence? I think not, yet this is not at ALL where I expected to be a year ago. In looking back through my prayer journal, my notes from my time in the "cave" in Michigan, and my blog, I honestly never thought I would actually be living just outside of LA.

Jessie and I one year ago to the day, Sept. 1, 2012. The passing of the torch.

Six months ago to the day, landing in California

When I moved back stateside, it was out of obedience to what I felt God was telling me. Rodney and Cindy had asked me to consider staying a third year, and I would have been happy to do so. But I had absolutely no peace about it. I knew in my heart it was time to move home, but to what I had no idea. So I made the faith step and moved back to Michigan. As most of you know, it was a difficult transition, but God gave me so much grace and favor in that season. I went through severe reverse culture shock. I am so thankful for the friends that surrounded me and helped me through. (Thanks, Tany for putting me to work cleaning bathrooms, Lynelle for the frequent coffee dates, and Sue Golder for the family dinners!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You all have no idea how essential those moments were!!!).

During my processing time, I wrote out a list of the 4 directions I was open to trying. Number one was obviously staying in Grand Rapids, finding a job, and settling back into the life I had been living pre-Rica. This was the option I really, really, really wanted. Number two was moving to an adjoining mid-western state where I had a network of friends or family, finding a job, and settling back into life as I knew it. Number three was literally selling everything I owned and moving back on the mission field to Costa Rica. All in. No looking back. For life. I told God if He didn't give me work by Christmas that was the option I was going with by default. Number four, which was actually just an addendum tacked on the bottom to fill out the rest of the paper literally said, "Move to LA with Sarah to do ministry and go all crazy." Seriously? I still can't believe I actually wrote that, but it's there in black and white. Must have been the altitude change. Note to self, in the future when writing things out to put before the Lord, include even crazier things like, "Have rich benefactor offer to buy me a mansion to house orphans", "Allow a dealership to lend me a new sports car every month to advertise their company", and "Win the lotto, spend the money on world missions trips." Seriously. I need to start dreaming bigger with God. Still,the point was in the core of my being, I was ready to go where ever God sent me.

So I guess we all know which option was God's option. I wondered what the purpose was for me moving out here. LA is so different from Grand Rapids. Most people sojourn here hoping to realize a dream. They are desperate to make it in "The Industry". Acting, fashion, modeling, film making.  They struggle and starve to make it, to find the right connections, and break into the false reality where fame and fortune are the goals of life. And most leave shattered in less than a year after their funds run out. I am a pediatric speech therapist. I work at a child development center and spend most of my waking work hours hanging out in the ball pit with two-year-olds. What the heck am I doing here?

When I moved out here, I felt like God was bringing me into a Jeremiah 29 season. Not just verse 11, though. We get too caught up in just that verse. Have you ever read verses 1-10?  Basically God's people were taken from the promised land and exiled to Babylon, the most pagan nation, like, ever. And God told them to stay there, to build houses, set up shop, have parties, eat food, get married and have babies. To pray for the land they were inhabiting, because if it prospered, they would prosper. Because God knew the plans He had for his people. To prosper them, to give them a hope and a future. And if they prayed to God, he would hear them and listen and answer them. I totally commiserate with the Israelites. Like God was taking me from my home land and planting me squat in the middle of Babylon. Did you know that's actually what they call a major section of Hollywood? Coincidence? What do you think. I feel like God wanted the Isrealites to be a model of what Godly living looked like in the middle of the pagan nation. Like missionaries sent to model and demonstrate family, community, and upright living in a foreign country with foreign practices. Did you know that Daniel (like the whole book of Daniel) was written during this season in history? Daniel was one of those exiles taken to Babylon during the Jeremiah 29 season. He was meant to be a missional model in the royal palace of not bending to cultural norms and values. He stood out, was different, was persecuted for his faith, but ultimately had divine favor on his life and is a hero of the faith for ALL ETERNITY.

So basically what I'm saying is I am still a missionary. Instead of going to the countries of the world, the Lord has brought them to me, all in one place in one of the biggest melting pots of the globe. And it is one big mission field!! There are so many people here who are hungry for the things of God. I have also become highly involved in a church out here in Glendale called Expression 58 (based off of Isaiah 58). Starting next week I am going to be helping as a revival group leader in their new school of ministry. Check out their website at to learn more about what they're about. And what I'm going to ask for is your continued prayer support. I moved back into the country, but I haven't left the mission field. I need all of your prayer cover as I continue to model community, family, and healthy living in a part of the country whose reputation precedes it. Thank you for all your support and love!!!!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

THE Essential Lemon Cornmeal Cookie

I love baking. Period. There really needs to be not other introduction. I started experimenting with gluten-free cakes and cookies to take to church. There is always a table set up afterwards for coffee hour and one day it was announced that there were treats each week after service. One of my friends, who is on a strict diet for severe health reasons, snarked under her breath that she would have to wait for the day they offered gluten-free and sugar-free in the schmear. Darn it, everyone should be able to eat at our table, especially at church!! So, here began my experimentation. Here is my following creation, which I feel is the best one yet!!

Gluten-free, Sugar-free, Lemon Cornmeal Cookies!!!!  AKA Pure Awesomeness

1/2 cup Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Baking Flour
1/2 cup white rice flour
scant 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground ginger
3/4 cup Truvia
1 tsp Agave nectar
6 Tbsp butter, softened
1 egg
5-6 drops DoTerra Lemon essential oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line making sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
Combine the first 5 ingredients and wisk together with a wire wisk.  Combine sugar and butter and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy (yes, it gets fluffy), scraping the sides of the bowl as you go along, approx. 5 minutes. Or whenever you get tired of standing there mixing sugar and butter. Add the egg to the sugar mixture and beat well, scraping to make sure you beat it all. Sing the Michael Jackson song "Beat It" to pass the time. Great song. Add in the lemon oil and continue beating. Add the flour mixture at this point and beat just until blended. Drop in cookie sized balls onto the parchment paper, using appropriate spacing between cookies so they don't bicker in the oven. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 12 minutes. When you start to smell the lemon they're almost done!!! YUM!!!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Optic Nerve

Last weekend I had a special eye appointment. I had my eyes dilated and a field vision test done to test for blind spots in my retina and optic nerve. Basically during the test you are put in an individualized mini-planetarium and told to stare straight ahead at a little golden light. You must keep your eyes fixed on that dot for 3 and a half minutes while little lights flash all around the dome. Each time you see a light, you need to click a button, telling a computer that you saw the light. I asked the eye tech why I had to stare straight ahead. She told me that everyone's eye has a natural blind spot in the same spot. When you stare straight at the light, the computer knows where that blind spot is, since it's always the same. But if you shift your gaze, your blind spot moves as well, and doesn't give an accurate reading. 

As I was thinking about the test later, Jesus reminded me of our spiritual eyes. They have a blind spot, too. When we fix our eyes on Jesus, our natural spiritual blind spot is to all of our troubles, snares, trials, and all the things that would cause us anxiety, fear, and worry. But when we shift our eye to these things, we literally put Jesus into our blind spot. It's kind of like when Peter got out of the boat. When his eyes were fixed on Jesus, he couldn't see the waves and winds around him, only Jesus. But as soon as he shifted his focus, he put Jesus in his blind spot and could no long see how much bigger God is than the storms around us.

Later in the week I went to an evening service at church. One of the guys in the church reminded us of the verse from 2 Chronicles 16:9: "For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him." Jesus does this, he told me, because his eyes have a natural "blind spot", too. When God has his eyes fixed on us, our sin is in his blind spot and he is able to see us as totally beautiful, worthy, holy, and fully loved.

Psalm 123:2
Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master,
As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress,
So our eyes look to the Lord our God,
Until He is gracious to us.

Hebrews 12:1-2
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

I can see clearly now...

I never realized how clearly I couldn't see until I could actually see clearly. 

Let me explain. I've worn hard contact lenses since I was a sophomore in high school. Tiny, little, rigid lenses no bigger than a dime which suctioned themselves to just the brown colored iris of my eye gave me the ability to see clearly. That is, at the beginning. Unlike soft contacts, you can wear hard contacts for significantly longer, some times years longer, which is what I did while I was on the mission field. I took meticulous care of my contacts. I "enzymed" them weekly and cleaned them religiously. I took painstaking care to make sure I never lost or dropped one. With no insurance coverage for new contacts or glasses, I just acted like most missionaries and just made do with what I had. I couldn't complain. I could see very well and my eyes never bothered me. 

Then I started my new job. And with that came duh-duh-duh-DAH insurance coverage for eyes!! Oh, happy day!! I went in yesterday and finally got my eyes checked. My prescription hadn't changed, but I knew I needed new contacts. The doctor recommended soft contacts. I was a bit hesitant. I've had hard contacts for almost two decades. I know how to take care of hard contacts. I can pop them in and out like a pro. I know how they are supposed to feel in my eye. I know the routine for how to religiously clean then. But I caved. Sure, why not. You're the doctor.

Man, it's like a whole  new world! I hadn't realized how gradually my old contacts were not serving my sight well. Slowly, without my permission or me noticing, they were no longer as strong as they used to be. WOAH! With these new soft contacts, I now have amazing clarity! And I no longer have to go through the meticulous and constant cleaning, polishing, and enzyming. I just throw these away every few weeks and get a new pair, keeping a constant and instant clarity to my world. 

Then, to my surprise and delight., I was told I am could have lasik surgery to completely correct my vision. No more contacts, no more glasses. I could wake up every day with this same type of clarity. WOAH. Mind blown. I could finally donate all MY glasses to our eye clinics in Costa Rica and Nicaragua...that would be ironic...

So what is the point in me telling you all this? I mean, who really wants to read someone's blog about their new contacts, anyway. Well here's the point:

When we live under the Law, before we know who God is or what he did for us by allowing Jesus to come and die for us, we see the world through hard lenses. They need to be meticulously cleaned and polished constantly. They're rigid and, though we get really, really used to them in our eye balls, they are still uncomfortable and can easily irritate our spiritual eyes.  When we accept Jesus into our hearts, he throws away those old, rigid lenses for softer, more flexible lenses. These lenses don't need the meticulous cleaning like our old lenses. We just repent and throw the past away, looking forward to constant clear vision while never holding on to the fogginess of our past. Then when we start actually living by the Spirit, we have no need for lenses at all! The Lord completely heals and changes the shape our spiritual eyes so they are in the same shape as his! And that, my friend, is complete freedom.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Discipline in a Long Distance Race.

Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!  

 In this all-out match against sin, others have suffered far worse than you, to say nothing of what Jesus went through—all that bloodshed! So don’t feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children?
My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline,
    but don’t be crushed by it either.
It’s the child he loves that he disciplines;
    the child he embraces, he also corrects.

 God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.

 So don’t sit around on your hands! No more dragging your feet! Clear the path for long-distance runners so no one will trip and fall, so no one will step in a hole and sprain an ankle. Help each other out. And run for it!

 Work at getting along with each other and with God. Otherwise you’ll never get so much as a glimpse of God. Make sure no one gets left out of God’s generosity. Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time. Watch out for the Esau syndrome: trading away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite. You well know how Esau later regretted that impulsive act and wanted God’s blessing—but by then it was too late, tears or no tears.

Hebrews 12:1-17

Monday, May 27, 2013

Time Bank

I'm not sure who the original author is of this next story. One of the guys in my Bible study shared it last night and I was really blown away by it. I wish I could give credit to the true author, so if you know who wrote it, please feel free to comment:
Imagine there is a bank account that credits your account each morning with $86,400.
It carries over no balance from day to day.
Every evening the bank deletes whatever part of the balance you failed to use during the day.
What would you do?
Draw out every cent, of course?
Each of us has such a bank.
It's name is TIME.
 Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds.
Every night it writes off as lost, whatever of this you have failed to invest to a good purpose.
It carries over no balance.
It allows no over draft.
Each day it opens a new account for you.
Each night it burns the remains of the day.
If you fail to use the day's deposits, the loss is yours.
There is no drawing against "tomorrow."
You must live in the present on today's deposits.
Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness and success!
The clock is running!!
Make the most of today.

To realize the value of one year, ask a student who failed a grade.
To realize the value of one month, ask a mother who has given birth to a premature baby.
To realize the value of one week, ask the editor of a weekly newspaper.
To realize the value of one minute, ask a person who just missed a train.
To realize the value of one second, ask someone who just avoided an accident.
To realize the value of one millisecond, ask the person who won a silver medal at the Olympics.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Essential Kale Chips

I LOVE kale chips. Not only do they have that satisfying crunch without any guilt, but they're so easy to make! I've been totally having a blast trying out my new essential oils in creative ways. So I decided to experiment with my favorite snack-y recipe. Enjoy!!

Krispy Kale Chips
2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp white distilled vinegar
2 drops of DoTerra oregano oil
Seasons to taste (I like paprika and chili pepper on mine, plus organic pink salt).
Lots of Kale (1 cup or so)

Preheat oven to 385 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix ingredients in a shallow bowl. You can add more or less of any ingredient, it is really all to taste. You can also add the salt after they've cooked. Totally your call. Once the ingredients have been mixed, coat the kale in the mixture until well coated. Spread out on the parchment paper on the baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until crispy. Cool and enjoy!!

To order your own oregano oil, check out this link: Essential Oils

The Basics of Essential Oils

Oil. We hear about it on the news. Prices of oil per barrel. As those prices go up, the price of our gas goes up. Supply and demand. The amount of crude oil in the world. That's not the kind of oil I'm talking about. Although it is an essential oil in the other sense of the word.

Vegetable oil comes from soy beans. Olive oil comes from olives. Coconut oil comes from coconuts. baby oil comes from babies? No, it's actually mineral oil. Have you ever thought about why you can buy gallons of vegetable oil for cheaps while good quality extra virgin olive oil can be exorbitantly expensive? Supply and demand. It is really easy to plant and grow soy beans. And corn, while we're at it. And lots of it. It's easy and cheap to get oil from these plants, too. Hence it's price. As a plant becomes harder to grow, the price of it's oil increases. That's called the basics of economics. But the is the basics of essential oils. 

Some other oils you've probably heard of include peanut oil, canola oil, safflower oil, sesame seed oil, grape seed oil, and tea tree oil. When we talk about their consumption, they are in the same classification as the common fats of butter, margarine, and lard. These are just a few of the healthy and unhealthy oils and fats that we commonly use. They add flavor to our foods, keep our ingredients from sticking to the pan, and, depending on the type of oil, add nutrition to our diets. 

The latest craze in oils comes in the realm of essential oils. What exactly are essential oils? Essential oils are natural aromatic compounds found in the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants. They can be both beautifully and powerfully fragrant. If you have ever stopped to smell the roses, walked through an apple orchard, or smelled fresh cut cilantro, you have experienced the aromatic qualities of essential oils. In addition to giving plants their distinctive smells, essential oils provide plants with protection against predators and disease and play a role in plant pollination. 

Not only do these oils intrinsically benefit their plants, they have been used throughout history in many cultures for their medicinal and therapeutic benefits. Even the Bible has over 600 references to essential oils. Remember Jesus' birthday gifts from the wise men? Frankincense and myrrh are essential oils. Some other plants that make wonderful essential oils are lavender, oregano, peppermint, lemon, orange, and even black pepper.

For more historical uses of essential oils, check out this article: History of Essential Oils

So why are these oils so essential? Essential oils are used for their very wide assortment of emotional and physical health properties. A single oil can be used at one time for a specific purpose, like helping you sleep, to give a boost of energy, or even to naturally freshen your breath. Or they can be used in complex blends to help rid toxins from the body, balance and regulate blood sugar and metabolism, or even to heal cancer. Essential oils are usually administered by one of three methods: diffused aromatically, applied topically, or taken internally as dietary supplements. 

For more uses, check out this link: Essential Oil Uses 

Interested in learning more about essential oils? Feel free to contact me. I would love to chat. Want to try them? Click this link and begin an adventure into the world of essential oils:
DoTerra Essential Oils 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Essential Oil Banana Muffins

Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Essential Oil Banana Muffins

1 cup white rice flour
3/4 cup Bob'd Red Mill Gluten-free All-Purpose Baking Flour
2 Tbsp Truvia
1 tsp agave nectar
1 and 1/2 tsp blackstrap molasses* (optional)
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp organic pink salt
1 beaten egg
1/2 cup coconut, almond, or soy milk (coconut milk in this recipe is very yummy!!)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2-3 drops DoTerra lemon oil
1-2 drops DoTerra orange oil
3/4 cup mashed banana
1/2 cup almond pulp from a recipe of home made almond milk

Grease 12-16 muffin cups, set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, truvia, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center of the dry mixture and set aside. In another mixing bowl combine egg, milk, and oils. Add in the mashed banana and the nut pulp. Add the egg mixture to the dry mixture and stir until just moistened. It should be lumpy. Spoon batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes or till golden. Cool in the muffin cups on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove from muffin cups, serve warm. Makes 12-16 muffins.

*The third boiling of the sugar syrup yields blackstrap molasses, known for its robust flavour. The majority of sucrose from the original juice has been crystallised and removed. The food energy content of blackstrap molasses is still mostly from the small remaining sugar content. However, unlike refined sugars, it contains trace amounts of vitamins and significant amounts of several minerals. Blackstrap molasses is a source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron; one tablespoon provides up to 20% of the daily value of each of those nutrients.

DoTerra Essential Oil Smoothies

I have recently endeavored into the essential oil world. I have to say, I was skeptical at the beginning, but after using them for 3 weeks, I'm a believer! I have more energy, my headaches are gone, and I've lost 5 pounds just by drinking water with oils in it!! So, here are my favorite drink recipes so far. To order the oils for yourself and give it a try, check out the link to my DoTerra website!! More recipes to come!!!

Refreshing Mango-Lemon Smoothie
1 cup of spinach
1 cup of sugar-free vanilla coconut milk
1/2 cup frozen chunk mangoes
1&1/2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
3 drops DoTerra lemon oil
Throw all ingredients in a Magic Bullet or blender and blender until smooth!!
If it's too thick, add extra milk as you blend.

Harvest Blueberry-Lemon Smoothie
1 cup of spinach
1/2 cup of sugar-free vanilla coconut or soy milk
1/2 cup blueberry greek yogurt

1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1 Tbsp ground flaxseed
3 drops DoTerra lemon oil
Throw all ingredients in a Magic Bullet or blender and blender until smooth!!
If it's too thick, add extra milk as you blend.

Immune-boosting Ginger Zinger
1 bag Ginger tea of your favorite tea brand
1 Tbsp agave nectar
2-3 drops DoTerra OnGuard oil
Boil water. Pour over tea bag and steep for 5 minutes. Add agave and oil. Sip and enjoy!! 

I have also been experimenting with using the oils while I cook. I've found 2-3 drops of lemon +  2-3 drops of oregano oil added to my jasmine rice while it cooks in my rice cooker makes the BEST aromatic rice. And it gives it a nice flavor, too!!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Gloriously Gluten Free Sugar Free Pumpkin Muffins

MMMMMMMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.... That's how I will introduce my latest kitchen creation. Delicious. Smeared with a little butter and these bad boys melt in your mouth!!

  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin purée
  • 1 tsp real vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Bob's Red Mill gluten free all-purpose baking flour
  • 3/4 cups white rice flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated truvia
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 1) Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 12-cup muffin pan and a 6-cup muffin pan, or line the pan with papers, and grease the papers.
    2) Whisk together the eggs, molasses, vanilla and pumpkin purée. Set aside.
    3) Whisk together the gluten-free flour and white rice flour, truvia, baking powder, salt, and the spices.
    4) Add the oil, mixing with an electric mixer until evenly crumbly. The mixture will look like coarse sand.
    5) Add the egg mixture a bit at a time, beating well with an electric mixer after each addition. Beat for 1 to 2 minutes, until the mixture is fluffy.
    6) Scoop the batter into the prepared pan, filling cups 3/4 full.
    7) Bake the muffins for 22 to 25 minutes, until the middle springs back when lightly touched. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before removing from the pan. Best served warm.

    Saturday, April 27, 2013

    Gluten-Free Awesomesauce Banana Bread.

    Gluten-Free Banana Bread Recipe  Gluten-Free Awesomesauce Banana Bread
    20 45 65


    • 1 cup gluten-free all-purpose baking flour
    • 1 cup white rice flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 4 eggs
    • 2 cups mashed ripe bananas (4-5 medium)
    • 1 cup agave nectar
    • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
    • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
    • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)


    • In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, bananas, sugar, applesauce, oil and vanilla. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.
    • Transfer to two 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pans coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with walnuts if desired. Bake at 350° for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. Yield: 2 loaves (12 slices each).

    Mixed Grain Whole Wheat with Bran Bread from the Breadmachine

    Mixed Grain Whole Wheat with Bran Bread from the Breadmachine

    Created by Julie Herrmann
    • 1-1/3 cups Water (room temperature) 
    • 3 Tbsp Vegetable Oil 
    • 1-1/2 Tbsp Honey 
    • 1-1/2 Tbsp Agave Nectar
    • 1 tsp pink Salt
    • 1 cup white rice flour
    • 1 cup Bob's Red Mill All purpose Gluten Free Baking Flour
    • 1-1/2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
    • 1/3 cup Bob's Red Mill High Fiber Oat Bran cereal
    • 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed
    • 2 tsp Active Dry Yeast


    Add all ingredients in the order of appearance in the recipe. Set bread machine for the basic bread cycle according to the manufacturer’s directions.

    Enjoy the aroma while baking.
    Frequently update your facebook status with the progress of the bread.

    Let loaf cool for 15 minutes before slicing.

    Wednesday, April 17, 2013

    A Year in the Life

    My new Vineyard church in Simi Valley is interested in doing missions to Costa Rica. So I made a little missions video. Enjoy!!

    Yummerouski Vegan Bran Muffins

    Experimental recipe win of the week: Yummerouski Vegan Bran Muffins. I've had this Bob's Red Mill High Fiber Oat Bran cereal in my fridge for a bit now and have wanted to make something yummy. Tonight was the night. They came out AWESOME!! Enjoy!!

    1 & 1/4 Cups Bob's Red Mill High Fiber Oat Bran Cereal
    1 & 1/3 cups flax milk (I used flax milk. You could use almond or soy)
    1/2 cup raisins
    1/2 tsp vanilla
    1/4 cup unsweetened applesause (or you can substitute oil)
    1 Tbsp ground flaxseeds + 2 Tbsp milk (flaxseed, soy, or almond if you want it vegan) (or if you don't mind and don't care if it's vegan, you can add 1 egg)
    1 & 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1 Tbsp baking powder
    1/4 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp cinnamon

    1. Heat over to 400 degrees. Grease the bottoms of muffin tins or use paper baking cups.
    2. Mix cereal, milk, raisins, and vanilla in a bowl. Let stand 5 minutes for cereal to soak in milk.
    3. Beat in applesauce and flaxseed/milk mixture with a fork. Mix remaining ingredients; stir into cereal mixture just until moistened. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.
    4. Bake 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. This batch made 18 muffins for me.

    Thursday, April 11, 2013

    The devil likes to throw snake skins

    Fear is a snake that tries to slither it's way into all of our lives. It is as old and crafty as Eden and still uses the same tactics. There are several kinds of fear, just as there are several kinds of snakes. There is the innate fear that keeps us from randomly jumping off buildings or crashing our cars into guard rails at will. That is the garter snake that is harmless and can eat the other mice and bugs that would actually be a problem in our lives. That kind of fear is a natural fear and can be helpful for species preservation. There is the imitative fear that keeps us from trying things because we are tricked into thinking it is dangerous when it reality it is not. This type of fear is the snake that looks like a coral snake, but the color of its stripes are wrong, thus it is an imitation of the real thing that causes confusion and makes us think we should be afraid of it, even though it is in fact harmless. This type of fear is the fear associated with public speaking or trying a new food. I have yet to hear of any one who has clinically died from public speaking, and yet it can paralyze people. Then there is the legitimate, heart-pounding, sweat-inducing fear. The fear of death. The fear of drowning. The fear of losing a loved one. The fear of the dark. Even the fear of missing out. This type of fear is the boa constrictor, the python, the rattle snake of all fear. It bites. It poisons. It incapacitates and murders. 

    Here's the good news: in Luke 10:19 Jesus says, "I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.". I believe Jesus is referencing fear and the demonic. He has given us authority over fear and the demonic that act like snakes in our lives. That kill, steal, and destroy from the fullness of our lives. We can take that kind of stand in our lives and through the power of Jesus' blood trample fear out of our lives!! We don't have to be afraid of anything any more! Not even death!! Mark 16:17-18 literally says, "And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” 
    When we ask Jesus to kill fear in our lives, He does! When we stand in our authority over what makes us afraid in our lives, we also kill fear in our lives. It is dead. It holds no power. But Satan is deceptive. Satan doesn't like it when we are not held captive to fear. He likes to keep us bound to it, trapped, cornered by snakes and scorpions, paralyzed when one crosses our path. He will do anything he can to throw snake skins and snake-look-a-likes in our paths. He likes to try to make us think that fear is not dead, even though the thing he is using against us is, in fact, dead. Have you ever been startled by a rubber snake in a toy store? Rodney has one hidden in by the base of the big tree in the back patio by where we eat dinner with teams. It is a thin, green, rubber snake. It would startle some one on just about every team that would come down. Can that rubber snake harm some one? Only by an associative heart-attack! The enemy loves to use this tactic next because it drives doubt into our hearts about our authority and the promises God has for us. When we linger too long in doubt, it allows either true fear open access to come back into our lives, or leaves us discouraged and feeling like God has some how lied to us. It's a sneaky, low-blow to our confidence in Christ.

    Are there major areas of fear in your life? Are you afraid of death? Trying new things? The dark? Losing some one close to you? Have you asked Jesus to trample the fear out of your life? Did you know you have the authority over that in your own life through Jesus Christ? Did you think you had taken care of fear in your life already? But does it occasionally sneak up on you? Is it actually a snake skin pretending to have power and authority over you when it is  really a fake?