Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Philippians 4:4
What does the word rejoice mean? Joy is one of the fruit of the spirit. The fruit of the spirit are all independent of our feelings, although when we are going through things, it definitely doesn’t seem like it. When we have joy, it is when we focus on God’s goodness, grace, mercy, and all the things that he has blessed us with. So, when we are rejoicing, it is doing this over and over again until it gets contagious to others. Sometimes when I listen to praise music, and I bask in God, and who he is to get centered, I get so filled, that I am just beside myself, literally having worship service in my kitchen or living room. It’s not that my circumstances have changed at all, but God is using the praise music to steer my heart close to him. So even though nothing has changed, everything has changed.
When we go through trials, and unfortunately, this summer has given me my fair share, we will know beyond a shadow of a doubt what Philippians 4:4 means. It isn’t going to be easy, and it hasn’t been for me. Sometimes I have to air out my feelings and tell God that I know what he says in Romans 8:28, ” And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose”, but right now I am just upset by yet another trial. After I get it out, then I can praise him. What I notice is that when I don’t get my feelings out, then there is internal conflict, and when our emotions are split, we can’t be in the present. I also have to remind myself that God already knows my heart, and since he already knows, what better time to air my frustrations, so that I can move on. So that I can get to the rejoicing part.
I have a saying that I like to tell my kids all the time. They laugh, but it is true: Every morning we get to hit the reset button on God’s mercy.
It is very hard when we are going through things in life. The immediate response when trouble hits is to panic. It is natural. God created us to have emotions. What tends to happen is that when we panic, we oftentimes forget to give ourselves room to breathe. Room to pray, think about the situation, and breathe some more. Satan usually have our minds in such an uproar, that anxiety often takes over, and then instead of us praying and asking God for discernment in these situations, we become reactive instead of responsive. Anxiety and fear tells us that we have to come up with a solution right now. Wisdom tells us to wait on God for promptings of the Holy Spirit on the how, when, why of the response. Praise God that all we have to do is ask!
James 1:5: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”
Wisdom, She Cries in the Streets
Wisdom, Wisdom, She Cries in the Streets:
“Put the knowing into doing,
And discernment we will greet.”
Wisdom, Wisdom, It is ours for the asking.
Helps us make the right decisions.
Fills the blanks in the lacking.
Wisdom, Wisdom, Right with God in the Beginning.
Everything ever so perfect,
Right before there came the sinning.
Wisdom, Wisdom, it is given to us freely,
All we have to do is ask,
Get right down to praying and kneeling.
Wisdom, Wisdom, far more precious than those rubies:
This is a super quick and easy recipe to make for lunch or dinner. Depending on how many pounds of black lentils that you buy, you can have this to last for 5 to 7 days, even with a large family. As I mentioned in one of my more recent posts, you are going to see a lot of recipes where I use cut-leaf spinach and fire-roasted salsa style diced tomatoes. This is also one of them. They are inexpensive, and I love the combination. The tomatoes give just the right kick without being overwhelming.
It would be too much like right if I could just give the recipe without a background story or some drama behind an ingredient. My friend and I went into Whole Foods about a month ago. When we got in the store, we both went our separate ways. I was happily pouring items into bags and weighing them over in the bulk session. My friend and her daughter were in bliss over in the bakery section. I was just finishing up on grabbing the black lentils, when I decided that I would purchase some split green peas. I pulled the lever down, and the lever got stuck. Literally six to seven pounds of split green peas went all over the floor, and inside the squares into between the bulk items. A worker came over to sweep up the mess. I tried to explain what happened, but I don’t think it was any comfort. She gave me grace by not saying anything and grabbing the broom and dustpan to take care of the clean-up job. At this point, I was thinking, maybe I should grab the almond flour and head to the front.
By the time that I got to the register, my friend and her daughter were there. I tell her about what happened, and how I had an embarrassing moment in the bulk section. She proceeded to tell me about her embarrassing moment in the bakery section. What’s an adventure to the grocery store without a little bit of drama? Here’s the recipe:
Making Black Lentil Soup with Rice
Total Prepping and Cooking Time:
2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
Imagine low sodium vegan broth
2 pds. of black lentils
1 can of cut leaf spinach
2 cans of fire-roasted salsa style diced tomatoes
Boil two cups of white rice.
While the white rice is bowling, boil 8 cups of water, and add two pounds of black lentils after the water starts boiling.
The lentils need to cook for about 35 minutes.
Saute the spinach and tomatoes with oil or vegan butter.
After the lentils are ready, add the broth and all the rest of the ingredients, except the rice.
Cook for another 15 minutes.
I kept the rice on the side and poured the black lentil soup on top.
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
The Venture-Making Oatmeal Pumpkin Seed Coconut Cookies
I had been itching for the last couple of weeks to make oatmeal pumpkin seed coconut cookies. There are several reasons that it hadn’t happened yet:
Didn’t have the time
Had the time, but didn’t have the energy
Had the time and the energy, but I had a sink full of dishes already
Well, a few days ago, I finally got to baking the cookies. They were surprisingly delicious. On the cooking shows, they say that things are so good that they make you want to slap someone. For my purpose here, I will say that they make you want to jump up and down and dance. My kids laugh at me because most of the things that I cook or bake usually starts with my mind going, ” Oh, I wonder what would happen if I mix this and that together.” That’s what happened with these cookies. Most of the times I have good results. Other times, it’s one of those things where you know there’s always next time. I call them my concoctions. I bought the almond flour about a month ago, so I didn’t have to worry about having to run out and get it. This was my first time ever using it for baking, and I loved it. Well, so much for rambling on…
I set the oven for 350 degrees, at a 22-minute timer. At 17 minutes into the baking, the entire house smelled like almonds. My daughter said, “Mom, I think that you need to check the cookies. They smell ready.” I felt them and they were still soft. However, she reminded me that they will finish cooking even after I take them out. She was right. She is the one who is the baker, but I am learning. I hope that you enjoy these cookies. I think that next time I will add quinoa. Here is the recipe:
Activity: Making Oatmeal Pumpkin Coconut Cookies
Prepping and Baking Time: 33 minutes
(1/4) cup unsweetened coconut flakes
(1 1/2) cup of almond milk
(1/4) cup of grapeseed & sunflower seed oil blend
(1/4) cup of sunflower seeds
(1/4) cup of pumpkin seeds
(1/4) cup of raisins
(1 1/4) cup of almond flour
(1 1/4) cup of oatmeal
(1) teaspoon of vanilla extract
(1/2) cup of brown sugar
(1/2) teaspoon of baking soda
(1) tablespoon of chia seeds
(3) tablespoons of flaxseed meal and 4.5 tablespoons of water mixed together
Use parchment paper or grease a full-sized cookie sheet with oil.
Whisk together the following in bowl number one: almond flour, oatmeal, baking soda, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds.
Mix together the following in bowl number two: grapeseed oil, coconut flakes, flaxseed meal mixture, almond milk, vanilla extract, and brown sugar.
Dump bowl number one into bowl number two and mix well.
Use a cookie scoop to form balls with the cookie mixture and place them on the cookie sheet.
Enjoy and have a blessed weekend!
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
No matter who we are, at some time or another, we are going to experience grief in our lifetime. Some of us will not only experience grief, but we will experience traumatic events as well. There is no way to prepare for trauma. It sneaks upon you out of nowhere, like an ambush. Grief can be this way as well. You are not prepared for either of these happening, and you don’t know when the symptoms will occur. I can remember times that I was in the grocery store, and I felt like grief was going to overtake me in the aisle. The symptoms of grief are different for everyone. Some of them may be:
inability to stop crying
physical pain and eye troubles
Job experienced trauma and grief. He lost everything that he owned in no time: everything and everyone except his wife. For some reason, ever since I was a child, I marveled over how there was always one person who was able to come back and relay the news to Job about the next devastation that hit him. I have been there with Job. When you get to the point of such compounded trauma, you just end up numbing out. Your brain just can’t seem to handle it all. Job’s friends came to support him, and they were fine until they opened their mouth. God ended up reprimanding them for going on and on to Job with wild explanations for his “suffering”: After the LORD had finished speaking to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “I am angry with you and your two friends, for you have not spoken accurately about me, as my servant Job has.” Job 42:7, NLT
Here are six tips to take to heart if we know someone who is suffering from grief or trauma.
1. Words and Physical Touch: Express to your friends or loved ones how much you love them with words or giving them a hug. If you are not sure of what to say, then just sit with them and say nothing. Sometimes we say the wrong things without realizing it, even if they are true. As Christians, we do know that if that person was saved, they will be in heaven with Jesus. However, it is still hard sometimes for this reality to be of comfort to a person. It is also hard for people to wrap their minds around the fact that the person is no longer suffering. It is still a loss to that person. Sometimes it is better to remind a person that you will be praying for them.
2. Meals: Offer to bring meals over, as well as setup a mealtrain with the small groups at church, as well as the neighborhood friends.
3. Calls and Errands: Offer to run errands or make calls to family members, friends, and churches to inform them of the death. Sometimes when we are in such shock, your focus and memory is off. If the person has a phone book or contact list, it would be nice to go through the list and call each person.
4. Babysit: Suggest taking the kids for a few hours so that the person has time to process and grieve what has happened without having to stuff their pain and scare their children. This is especially helpful if the children are young.
5. Pamper: Treat your friend or loved one to something that would make them feel good: getting a facial, mani-pedi, beauty or barber shop appointment, or a nice outfit.
Valley of Grace blog’s New Merchandise Store is up and running! Time to get those products. Whether you are at work or play, you can be reminded of what it means to live simple, functional, grace-filled lives!
For the next two weeks, I am going to do a quick series on the ins and outs of living with trauma on a daily basis. I am not sure how many of you have dealt with trauma in the past or present, however, it is something that is more prevalent than one may think, and a lot of fears have trauma at the root of it.
Women at 10.4 %, are twice as likely as men to experience PTSD. About 8 million adults have PTSD during a given year. This is only a small portion of those who have gone through a trauma. I have been living with trauma all my life, unbeknownst to me.
What I didn’t realize is that a lot of my trauma manifested itself as fear during my younger years. After having compounded trauma within the last six and a half years, this fear effect gets multiplied. Unfortunately, when this happens, we can definitely pray, and start to take deep breaths to help ourselves calm down. However, the fear is so strong, that you would think that you are in an all out fight for your life. The fear gets multiplied by fifty.
About three years ago, my kids were at youth group at church, and a tornado swept through parts of the town where I lived, along with some of the other nearby towns. I was at home by myself. Praise God for community! My friends and I texted and called one another to make sure that everyone was okay. This discussion took place as I stood in the bathroom with the door closed, begging God for the weather to pass over.
My mother called to check on me since she heard that the tornado was headed our way. I could tell by the sound of her voice that she was nervous. I called the kids at church, and they stated that one of the youth leaders, who was a fireman, told them where to go, and what to do. I knew that they would be fine, but I kept wondering if I would be okay. The townhome that I was living in was surrounded by large evergreens on all sides. I kept thinking to myself, if they were just here, then I would be okay.
Deep down, I knew that my kids couldn’t control God’s weather. However, I knew that it would make the out of control fear that trauma had placed on me to loosen up. I shifted between being okay, and feeling like my whole entire body had been tied up because my muscles were so tense.
Thank God that the weather did let up. The tornado didn’t hit my side of town, but it did hit all around the church. God protected the church. All the while, as I stood there in that bathroom, God had praise music going in my head. I knew that it was his sign that everything would be okay. However, because of the fear from trauma, I must be honest, my body was saying a different story. My kids made it home safely that night, and it was just another testament to God’s faithfulness, as trees had been knocked down everywhere from the tornado.
Have a blessed night!
Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. Lamentations 3:23, NLT
We’ve all heard of the phrase “Bring the outside In” when we look at home magazines. For this purpose, since I love the beach, I decided that I would do a blog post on bringing the beachside in. When I think of the word beach, I think of my feet in the sand, the water, and God’s big, beautiful sky.
It makes me think about painting the color white on a blank canvas, and then painting the blue sky and water, and tan colored sand. If I wanted to add to this canvas, other things that come to mind is a pier, a chair for one to sit on, minnows in the water, people, rocks, trees, flowers, etc. Take a few minutes to think about what your beach would look like.
Now, let’s transfer this canvas to your home. How can one keep themselves at the beach all year round? Use a room or two in your home as the beach all year round. I am including pictures of how I brought the beachside into my bedroom:
Paint: The walls would represent your canvas. The first thing that you need is the right color of paint. Bright, airy colors are needed to bring your beach to life. For my personal choice, I would have shades of tan, cream, blue, or white.
Pictures: Pictures tell the story of your home. They give your home life, and they keep your friends and loved ones close by. Since this is a beach canvas, people, flowers, trees, sand, rocks, and seashells would be great. However, this is your canvas, and therein lies the fun. This is one of my favorite pictures from when my children were little. They were about one and four years old. Sometimes when I can’t find the colors that I need, I just paint the frames, as well as the furniture.
I found the pictures below at Goodwill for $.99 each a few years ago. I have two sets of two on either side of my bed.
The picture below is one of myself, kids when they were little, mom, and grandmother, who is deceased.
I painted the canvas paintings on the left below. Three pictures were upcycled and painted over since my color scheme changed. The pictures of peonies on the left were taken a year ago. The clothespins and jute string were $1.00 at the Dollar Tree.
3. Furniture:The next thing that you would need would be furniture that would give the beach vibe. Adirondack, wicker, and bamboo seems to do the trick. If you have more than one style of chair, that would work out nicely. A mixture of texture gives rooms more of a natural feel, along with an illusion of more depth. I was blessed a couple of years ago with the wicker chair below. Next to the wicker chair is a wrought iron plant stand. I got rid of the glass top to place the plants on. It safely holds a journal and wallet that my sister bought me when she visited Europe. I love this journal, but I have to be careful because it can easily rip since the pages are made out of a linen, natural parchment.
4. Accessories: Let’s not forget about the accessories. In the picture above, I have a couple of books resting on top of the ottoman, a pillow, and fun necklaces that help give the beach vibe. You can also add mirrors to the wall, as you can see in the picture above, a little bit behind the wicker chair. The mirror was $6.99 at Goodwill. I also found this mirror a couple of years ago.
6. Plants and Flowers: The last things that you need are plants. They can be real or fake. Hanging terrariums are a nice accent. Using a combination of hanging and non-hanging plants makes your room look even more inviting.
I found the fake plant above at Good will for 3.99. The candle was on sale at Michael’s for $2.00 during one of their lowest prices of the season. It smells just like the beach.
The cream colored flowers below are sitting in a mason jar of rocks. They were $1.00 from Dollar Tree.
Have a blessed rest of your weekend!
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
I guess if you haven’t realized it by now, I love pasta. The second two things that have really been my go to is cut leaf spinach and fire-roasted diced tomatoes(salsa style). You can’t beat buying four cans of this duo for only $3.20. The quinoa helps to fulfill the protein requirement, which is a bonus.
I am not able to tolerate really spicy foods. However, these tomatoes give just the right kick to chili, burgers, avocado, homemade salsa, and several other things, without being too overwhelming. This meal was ready in no time. Since I decided to use two pounds of spaghetti, I had to use a large stock pot. Please feel free to email me your favorite recipe for spaghetti and I will feature it as a blog post. Have a blessed weekend!
Activity: Making Spinach, Spaghetti, & Quinoa Twist
Total Prepping and Cooking Time: 40 minutes
2 pounds of whole grain spaghetti
2 cans of cut leaf spinach
2 cans of fire roasted with garlic salsa style diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon of garlic powder
1 tablespoon of marjoram, italian seasoning, or basil
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 1/2 jars of pasta sauce (tomato & basil, garden vegetable, garlic)
1 tablespoon of parsley
1 cup of red quinoa
Bring four cups of water to a boil, then adding spaghetti with one tablespoon of oil added to prevent sticking.
While this is going, bring one cup of red quinoa to a boil.
Boil the quinoa for twenty minutes.
Saute the spinach and diced tomatoes with olive oil, grapeseed oil, or whatever oil you have.
Drain the pasta with a colander or top of the pot.
Add the pasta sauce, vegetables, quinoa, and seasonings.
Makes 15 servings.
I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
I like to go to the beach to feel refreshed. I love watching the ripple of the water hitting the rocks, feeling the breeze, and placing my feet just so in the sand, and reflecting on God’s creation, along with taking a few minutes to just breathe.
When we are sitting in “The Son”,
Getting our warmth from “The One”.
Whose burdens are light,
When we surrender our fight.
He’ll fill that empty void.
With his power, sin destroyed.
Running our cups on overflow,
His name is Jesus, don’t you know?
There is nobody like our Wondeful Saviour Jesus! We can rest in him when we feel the temptation to get filled up by all the other things in this life that will leave us filling more empty and void of joy!
What are some of the things that you do in order to feel refreshed during the day? Feel free to comment below. Be blessed!
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.