Growth in Darkness

Today I want to share an excerpt out of a wonderful book by Oswald Chambers called “My Utmost For His Highest”. It is an amazing daily devotional that I have been reading for a few years now and I thoroughly enjoy it. This excerpt comes from the February 14th reading.

“What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon housetops…”  ~Matt. 10:27

At times God puts us through the discipline of darkness to teach us to heed Him. Song birds are taught to sing in the dark, and we are put into the shadow of God’s hand until we learn to hear Him. “What I tell you in darkness” – watch where God puts you into darkness, and when you are there keep your mouth shut. Are you in the dark just now in your circumstance, or in your life with God? Then remain quiet. If you open your mouth in the dark, you will talk in the wrong mood: darkness is the time to listen. Don’t talk to other people about it; don’t read books to find out the reason of the darkness, but listen and heed. If you talk to other people, you cannot hear what God is saying. When you are in the dark, listen, and God will give you a very precious message for someone else when you get into the light.

I just love that. It’s a bitter-sweet reminder that we walk through dark times for a reason, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” ~Ecc. 3:1. Remember, during your times of darkness and waiting, that the Lord has a plan for you and He may need to put you in a place of solitude so that all your focus can be on Him and what He is trying to teach you.

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Marinated Tilapia

As promised on my about me page, here’s a quick and easy recipe I hope you’ll enjoy.

I had the idea for this recipe last week when I wanted a little more than just a salad. I knew I wanted some protein and a little zing and most importantly, something that would cook quickly since I had this lovely idea an hour before supper!

I just happened to have some tilapia fillets in the freezer that I had gotten from Aldi’s and a bottle of citrus coconut vinaigrette from Sam’s Club.

It has a bit too much zing for my taste but it’s great when I add some to my homemade mayo and make it a dressing (I’ll cover the mayo in another post). I was hoping that it would lose some of its zing in the cooking and it did.

I poured 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette onto a 2oz. frozen tilapia fillet, made sure it was evenly coated, and let it thaw. If your tilapia is not frozen that’s fine, just put it in the fridge while it marinates 10-30 minutes.

After about 30 minutes, heat a small frying pan on medium high heat. When the pan is heated (after maybe a minute), turn it down to a low medium and place the tilapia in, scraping all of the vinaigrette onto it and into the pan and let it simmer for 2-3 min.

Flip the tilapia and let it simmer for another 2-3 minutes and then you’re done.

I poured the excess vinaigrette onto my salad as the “dressing” and it was yummy!

One thing I don’t care for is fish that tastes “fishy”. Tilapia is great because you only get a subtle hint of fish flavor which, in my humble opinion, makes it easy to add to almost any dish.

Recipe Recap
serves: 1

2 tbsp vinaigrette (whatever’s your favorite)
2oz tilapia fillet

Marinate the tilapia in the vinaigrette for 30 minutes.

Simmer for 6 minutes, flipping halfway through.

Enjoy!

The Beauty of God’s Creation

We recently took a family vacation and got to enjoy several amazing things that put us in awe of God’s creation. If you have ever been to a cave you know what I’m talking about. If not, then keep reading and you’ll get to see some pictures.

Fantastic Caverns is unique because instead of walking on the tour, you get to ride around the cave. It just amazes me how huge some of the formations are!

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Meramec Caverns is by far my favorite. I don’t know if it’s because of the size of the cave, or the size of it’s formations. Either way, it’s absolutely breathtaking.

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Ruby Falls was interesting because it is a cavern and not a cave. It has less formations but the enormous rocks and huge stone slabs leave you feeling quite small in comparison. Not to mention the huge underground waterfall at the end!

This next one is not a cave, but it is beautiful all the same. Rock City Gardens made me feel like a child again. It gave me the urge to want to climb and explore all that was there. The view from the top is a little dizzying, but it’s really cool that you can see seven states at once.

Though pictures cannot do justice to the beauty of it all, I hope you can get a taste of His wonderous creation. I hope it reminds you that if He took such care to create these amazing lifeless things, how much more love and care went into creating you!

A Lesson In Waiting: Joseph

Sometimes life’s problems are overwhelming. They surround us like a dense fog, preventing us from seeing past them. It’s times like these when hearing about another’s problems can make your own not seem quite as bad as they did before. Especially if, when hearing of their problems, you can also see God’s involment in handling their outcome.

As you can tell by the title, today’s post is about Joseph. He is a great example of how to go about waiting on the Lord and His timing.

Joseph was a miracle to his parents. His mother, Rachel, was barren for around 26 years before giving birth to him. I can only imagine the advice and lessons in patience he received in reference to that. I wonder if that is one of the things he kept in his mind and heart during his 20 year wait for God’s plan for his life to come to fruition?

That’s right, I said 20 years. It took that long from when Joseph dreamed his first dream to when he was second in command over Egypt and his brothers sought help from him, unknowingly, during the famine.

One of the things I love about Joseph’s story is the many times that the Bible says, “And the Lord was with Joseph” or that someone “saw that the Lord was with him.” Through all the trials that he went through, it was always aparent who he ultimately served and God blessed him for it.

As you go through life’s many trials, are people able to say the same about you? Though you are having a tough time, are they still able to see the joy of the Lord in you? Just something to think about.

Contentment

It has been quite some time since I posted anything. I just felt like I had run out of things to say. But now I’m back and eager to get started again!

I read this wonderful story a few years ago out of a book called Raising Maidens of Virtue by Stacy McDonald that I would like to share with you today. It’s a little long, even though I shortened what I could, but truly inspiring all the same.

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THE FENCE DWELLERS

Once there was a Gardener who made a beautiful garden with flowers of every shape, scent, and size. Next to the garden was a rock quarry, gray and cold.

The flowers that were by the fence near the quarry began to turn their faces toward the rocks on the other side and wonder what it would be like to be strong and smooth. The flowers did not care that the rocks had no roots for who could see those? It would be much better to be big and strong so everyone could behold their powerful shape.

As they gazed upon the gray lifeless rocks, the flowers began to covet the rocks’ strength and coolness. They grew discontent with their purpose and design and began to despise their beautiful colors and delicate leaves and petals. They were no longer satisfied with their own simple beauty.

The fence dwellers began to rip off their beautiful petals and leaves and refused to produce seed since the rocks did not produce seed themselves. They covered themselves in clay to hide their vibrant colors and soon began to crouch down low to the ground, trying desperately to resemble the rocks they so deeply admired.

The older plants in the garden laughed at their foolishness. But soon, the new seedlings in the garden began to listen to the fence dwellers and they too tore their petals and dusted themselves with clay, but only halfway up their stems as they were not near as daring as the fence dwellers. The young plants desperately wished they could uproot and live next to the quarry so they too could see the magnificent boulders and strong stones.

The  boldness of the fence dwellers and the stories they told the younger plants caused a strange spirit of yearning throughout the garden. Within a short time the once vibrant colors of the garden were covered with mire. Instead of the sweet smells that once lingered, the stench of decay prevailed. The birds looked elsewhere for a home, as did the bees and butterflies.

Surprisingly, the fence dwellers did not realize they were shriveled and dying. Their bald heads were stripped of petals and the clay was suffocating their stems….yet they still yearned to be something they were never intended to be.

The Gardener walked sadly through his creation and sighed. He noticed the tender plants with clay halfway up their stems and missing petals – the result of a self-imposed deed.

“Why have you done this to yourselves?” cried the Gardener. “I created you in the way of my choosing – for my purpose. But you have rejected my ways and looked on foreigners and adorned yourselves in mud and grime. You have ravaged and exposed your own bodies.

“Do you not know that you belong to me? This was a wicked and foolish thing. You have emulated the fence dwellers and have followed after those preferring death. They have chosen cold and hard barrenness over the true beauty of a warm and tender life-giving existence. Do not mimic those of the quarry or their followers – those who never belonged to me. There you will find only death and desolation.”

The plants of the garden shivered and hid their faces; however, the fence dwellers did not hear the words of the Gardener, for they were no more. The plants who belonged to the Gardener solemnly watched as the last remnant of the fence dwellers’ decomposing stems blew quietly over the fence to rest upon a large boulder. Here the scorching sun would finish the job of destruction until nothing remained.

Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long. For surely there is an end; and thine expectation shall not be cut off.”
Proverbs 23:17-18

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God created us in His image and has a plan for each one of our lives. We are, each one of us, special to Him. Let’s remember that any time we feel discontent with where we are in life, the way things are or are not going, or even with what we look like. God loves you!

Though the story ends sadly, it is very beautifully written (in it’s original, unshortened form) and I encourage you to check out the book as it has many wonderful lessons to teach.

Thank you for reading and have a blessed day!

Perspective

All of us have times in our lives where it seems impossible for any good to come out of a situation. In fact, all we seem to be able to see is what is wrong. Here is a story I recently heard that made me consider looking at my situations with a different perspective:

The story is told of an African King who had a close friend with whom he grew up. The friend had a habit of looking at every situation that ever occurred in his life (positive or negative) and remarking, “This is good!”

One day the king and his friend were out on a hunting expedition. The friend would load and prepare the guns for the king. The friend had apparently done something wrong in preparing one of the guns, for after taking the gun from his friend, the king fired it and his thumb was blown off.

Examining the situation, the friend remarked as usual, “This is good!” To which the king replied – “No, this is not good!” and proceeded to send his friend to jail.

About a year later, the king was hunting in an area that he should have known to stay clear of. Cannibals captured him and took him to their village. They tied his hands, stacked some wood, set up a stake and bound him to the stake. As they came near to set fire to the wood, they noticed that the king was missing a thumb. Being superstitious, they never ate anyone who was less than whole. So untying the king, they sent him on his way.

As he returned home, he was reminded of the event that had taken his thumb and felt remorse for his treatment of his friend. He went immediately to the jail to speak with his friend. “You were right,” he said, “it was good that my thumb was blown off.” And he proceeded to tell the friend all that had just happened.

” And so, I am very sorry for sending you to jail for so long. It was bad for me to do this.” “No,” his friend replied, “This is good!” “What do you mean, ‘This is good’? How could it be good that I sent my friend to jail for a year?” “If I had not been in jail, I would have been with you.”

So when you are going through a difficult time, try looking at it from a different perspective and find the good in it, or the good that may come out of it. As we go through difficult times, we need to remember that God is in control, and if we allow it, all things will work for our good. (Romans 8:28)

The Protection of the Lord

As we admire God’s handiwork in His many different creations we can often be reminded of His promises to us. As I was watching our pet turtle the other day I began thinking of his protective shell and how turtles, when threatened, can tuck themselves completely inside that shell and avoid things that could harm or even kill them. We also have a similar spiritual protection through God.

Psalms 91:4 says, “He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.” This whole chapter speaks of God’s protection to those who seek it. That is not to say that we will never suffer trials and temptations or never have problems, but God will always be with us through everything and be our shield and protector when things get tough.

However, unlike the turtle who cannot come out of his shell, we can choose to try and go it on our own. God gave us a free will to do as we please and we have the choice to face life on our own without His guidance and protection or with it.

What choice have you made? Oh how much easier trials can seem when we have a constant companion in our Heavenly Father!