My full cup

A Brew of Fresh Grace

Chicken Marsala

I’ve been experimenting in the kitchen. When I have time that is. Life has been at break neck speed.

I’ve also been cooking less and having my offspring cook more. They each take a day and plan the whole meal.

I’ve made a nameless chicken dish that was out of this world good, or as a friend says it’s an EO.

I’ve made Beouf a la mode, and Beouf Bourguignon.

I’ve heard about chicken marsala and I’ve been anxious to try it.

Enter yesterday.

Yesterday was the day. I found a recipe on the internet, and headed to the grocery store. I needed three things:

  • Chicken. (That should be a given.)
  • Cooking Sherry and
  • Marsala.
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions

I hit the salad dressing aisle first in search of cooking sherry and found none. I texted a friend, “Quick! What’s a substitute for cooking sherry?”

I headed to get the veggies and then the chicken.

I searched the entire liquor section for marsala. I text another friend when I can’t find it. I just grab a bottle of Merlot and head to the check out.

I decided to go to a different grocery store to see if I could find cooking sherry.

BINGO!!

They have it. And since I’d heard from my friend about Marsala I now knew it was a cooking wine and BINGO again. They had it.

Grab the cooking sherry and Marsala and a venti iced decaf Americano for me and the mental anguish I’ve been through.

I came home and turned into a cooking freak.

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Picture Post!

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Of Swords and Battering Rams

battering ramI have my own shield and battering ram and I’m very skilled at using both of them. Together or apart I’m a professional.

Every morning I pick them up and begin my day. They’re heavy and ungainly. They’re difficult to carry around and I get tired. At night I carefully drop them to the floor, crawl into bed and sleep the sleep of the dead.

Because I’ve been carrying my own armor around all day. I’ve been fighting my own battles. I’ve fought battles that were both real and imagined. I’ve fought with people I love dearly thinking they were my true enemy.

I’m not proud of this. I’m ashamed of my battles and battle scars, even though I’d proudly show anyone. Not that anyone wants to see them. No one likes those, no one really wants invited to pity parties. And I’ve had a lot of them.

“If you only knew what he did!”

“Did you hear what she said to me?”

“It’s all their fault!”

Jab, jab, strike, stab, lop them off at the knees. Or the head. Anything to wound them before I could be wounded by them.

Even if they meant well. And actually sought my good. I’d battle them. Misunderstanding their words, on purpose and accidentally.  If they said I was like “this”, I’d seek to prove to them I was more like “that”. If they said the wrong thing, which really was anything I didn’t like, I’d give them the stink eye, a withering glance and go to battle with words or with silence.

Then last week I was on a long road trip alone. Just myself and Mercy Me in the car.

And Jesus.

Jesus, the very One who told me over and over, “I am never in your presence, but you are always in Mine.” and “You can give Me no glory! I have all the glory and any glory you think you have is dirty compared to My glory. You are to merely reflect My glory in you. You are a conduit, a reflector of My great glory. You can’t give Me what I already possess.” The very One who told me one day as I walked around the building, “Since you have learned you are always in My presence, take off your shoes because you’re on Holy Ground.” Then when I had slipped my shoes off, He said, “Now, walk on the rocks.”
“But, Jesus, my feet are too tender!”
“Walk on the rocks.”
They poke and cut at my feet, I cringed and walked very gently, tenderly. The second time around the building barefoot He spoke again, “My child, there are times I will make you walk through difficult, painful times, just like you walked on the rocks. But I will be with you, just as I am with you now.”

Not going to lie, that statement did not fill me with joy. At all.

Back to my road trip. I prayed little sentence prayers, more like a whisper of a breath, “Word of God speak, Jesus. I need to hear Your voice.”

And I was suffocating in His very presence.

His words to me,

“You have to put down your shield and battering ram. And take up Mine.”

As if it was an easy thing to do. Put it down and take it up.

I’ve held on, tightly to my battering ram and shield for a lot of years. I’ve honed my skills on them and with them. They are like friends to me.

Friends who want to destroy me and kill me.

His words have rattled around in my head for the past week. I’d try to pray and I’d hear Him speak those words again. I’d beg to hear His voice and I’d hear those words.

I listened to a podcast recently and while it wasn’t on this topic, I heard His voice speak those words to me loud and clear again. I did a Bible study lesson and again I heard those words.

I went to bed that night and wept. Giving up my defenses was a very scary thing. Hugely scary.

Today I was emailing an old friend about this very thing. I was wanting someone to hold my hand and whisper to me that everything was going to be okay, that while yes, I did need to let go and pick up His, I could do it and they would hold my hand the whole time. I was half expecting harshness. This friend had already referred to me as a glutton and a rude pig at a kings table, so today when I was referred to as a leech, I wasn’t too surprised but it still stung.

And then I was told to pray about it and not argue or defend myself.

Again Jesus spoke, “Remember, I told you ‘No defenses. No excuses.'” I sent those four words, and only those four words back in an email.  I took a walk to my prayer bench, praying the entire way. Praying for truth. Praying I’d be able to retaliate. Praying I could prove my friend wrong. Praying for truth in me. Praying for Jesus to speak to me on this matter.

“What if you just believe?”

Yeah, what if I just believe?

“And let go of your battering ram and shield.”

Ohhh Jesus I don’t think I can do that! It’s too hard. It’s too painful. I know the pain of these, I don’t know the pain of Your sword and shield. You could hurt me again.”

“What if you just believe?”

I decided to quit the battle. I decided to try just believing. And then all the hurt and the anger at my friend’s comment came on full force. “Oh you thought it wasn’t enough to call me a glutton and a rude pig, now a leech? What other unflattering animals would you like to call me next? Bring it on, buddy. I’ve got a few animals for you too.”

And Jesus spoke.

I listened. Shattered. Scared. Afraid.

And I completely gave in and gave up.

I dropped my battering ram, laid down my shield. Shivered the pain of it all. And slowly walked away.

Into just believing Him.

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Journey To Heal by Crystal M. Sutherland {A Review}

journeytohealOne in four girls will be sexually molested during their childhood. As these  girls grow into adulthood they feel like the walking wounded. Their innocence was violently taken and they are left alone to try and pick up the pieces of their shattered lives and put themselves back together.

Most can’t. Some seek help. Others just silently suffer. Some look for a way to numb the pain. They all believe the lies their mind, and often the very words of their abusers, tell them. Even if they know they are lies, they feel powerless to change their thought pattern. They feel doomed to a life lived alone in the shadows. The fortunate ones turn to Jesus for complete healing.

Is it possible for a victim of childhood sexual molestation to have a life free and abundant in Jesus? Is healing available for them? And their baggage?

There is no easy formula, no 12-Step Plan for them. But according to Crystal Sutherland, a survivor herself, it is not only possible it’s guaranteed! She has walked the road to healing and she has written a book, Journey To Heal, to share her story and offer help to those who need healing.

My Thoughts:

I found this book to be a great resource to healing and I was blessed to be able to pass along to a dear friend who was a victim.

My one caution to those who would read this book for healing, it should NOT take the place of seeking out professional help. Yes, Jesus can heal anyway He chooses, but this is one road women should not go alone. They should not rely on their own brain and will power to muscle through to healing. I would recommend using this book in addition to counseling with a professional.

If you, or someone you know was sexually molested as a child, I highly recommend this book. Crystal has “Journey Essentials” at the end of each chapter, a prayer, Scripture to read,  a question and then something to journal. This is GREAT!

She also frequently writes that the reader is to go at their own pace and not to move beyond *this* until they are ready and have completed the homework. For some it might take days, weeks or even months.

Also from Kregel publications is a book, “Naming Our Abuse, God’ Pathways to Healing for Male Sexual Abuse Survivors.” If you’re a man reading this and wishing their was a book for you to help you through your journey to healing, there is!! And this book is it!. It is sound and offers help and hope to male victims of sexual abuse.

I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.

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Sister Eve and the Blue Nun by Lynne Hinton {A Review}

Sister eveIf you’ve read any of Lynne Hinton’s books about Sister Eve Divine you’ll love this new book!

In Sister Eve and the Blue Nun, Sister Eve is still in the throes of determining her passion, and her calling. She has returned to the monastery to attend a conference. While there the main speaker is murdered and the blame is cast on her brother.

Sister Eve knows Anthony has to be innocent but the evidence against him is mounting rapidly.  Can she possibly find out the truth before anyone else dies? And can she remain safe while she investigates? And who is the new police detective working the case and why does she feel so odd when he is around?

The answers to those questions can only be found in the pages of the book, Sister Eve and the Blue Nun by Lynne Hinton, so you’re going to have to get your own copy of the book.

My thoughts:

The characters are well-written, although lacking in common sense.  Sister Eve lies constantly throughout the book, to those in authority, to herself, to her friends, to everyone. And she has no consequences for these choices.

Sister Eve also steals a key piece of evidence from the crime scene and encourages the abbot to lie about it and they come together in a deception that would leave most people in prison when it was discovered, but again, no consequences to either the abbot or Eve.

Those are my main objections to the book.

The plot moves along for the most part. I think it could have been wrapped up a lot sooner had Sister Eve not spent pages and pages detailing her inner dialogue.

All in all I give this book 3 out of 5 turning pages.

 

I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.

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Hunting Hope by Nika Maples…A GIVEAWAY!!!

At twenty, Nika Maples learned that when hope was all she had, she claimed it boldly while defying all odds to recover from a devastating stroke. The lessons from that struggle are powerful and universal, and she shares those lessons in her new book, Hunting Hope. Doctors warned that she had as little as 48 hours to live, and—if she lived at all—she would never walk or talk again. There was no hope on the horizon. So Nika started to hunt for it. Today, she not only walks, but she speaks to audiences everywhere about the power of hunting hope when a situation appears hopeless. She says hope remains camouflaged in the daily mundane. If we are not looking for it, we will miss it, though it is right before our eyes.

Celebrate the release of Hunting Hope with a $200 Getaway Giveaway (details below) and a live webcast with Nika on May 26!

hunting hope-400

One grand prize winner will receive:

  • One copy of Hunting Hope
  • A $200 Hilton gift card to give a hope hunter the chance to rest

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on 5/24. The winner will be announced at the Hunting Hope live author webcast on 5/26. RSVP for a chance to connect with Nika and other hope hunters, as well as for a chance to win other prizes!

hunting hope-enter

RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK, TWITTER, or PINTEREST and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 26th!

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Hunting Hope by Nika Maples {A Review}

5193EHfXjKL._SX343_BO1,204,203,200_Winter is inevitable. Both in nature and in our own lives. We will all at some point in time or another face a winter of the soul.

We will encounter those times when life is hard and painful and God seems more like a figment of our imagination than anything real and tangible. Our world will be darkness, we won’t be able to see anything good.

But good is there. Crouching just under the surface, all we have to do is search for it, to pray for our eyes to be open to His working good in us and through us. We won’t see it right away, but in time, in His timing we will. And we will rejoice.

In Hunting Hope, Nika Maples gives us a road map to Hunting Hope. She lovingly, kindly and at time humorously teaches us how to be a hunter of Hope. She reminds us we are not alone, that we won’t always see death around us. She tells us that when we look around at the bare trees, the grey skies, the silent world, we can still have hope if we choose to hunt for it.

In this short book (just a hair over 200 pages), Nika shares personal stories, God stories and uncovers the hope we all have in Christ. She floods each page, not with her words, but with the words of God. I love the amount of Scripture she uses! It is so refreshing!!

And it teaches us where our true Hope comes from!

This book is so well-written, you’ll want to sit down and read it all at once. But don’t! Take your time, read it slowly, look up the Scriptures. Pray about what you’re reading. And hunt for your own hope.

I fully recommend that everyone read this book now. Not later when you’re experiencing your own winter of soul, but now, so when your winter comes, you are prepared and armed for battle.

I simply cannot recommend this book enough. It is revolutionary!!

I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse for the purpose of review.

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Sister Dear by Laura McNeill {A Review}

sisterdearAllie Marshall has life by the tail and everything is going her way. Things in life have come easy for her, much to the dismay of her younger sister, Emma. Emma struggles for everything and she is convinced her big sister hates her.

Emma tries to compete with Allie but she always ends up on the losing side.

But then tragedy strikes and Allie is charged with the murder of the high school football coach. When she is convicted and sentenced to prison her daughter, Caroline, is 5-years old. Suddenly Emma finds herself the favored daughter and the care-taker of Caroline.

Allie is released from prison after 10-years and she has one goal, get her daughter and find out who really killed the coach. Neither one will be easy, but can she do both?

You’ll have to read the book to find out.

My thoughts on Sister Dear by Laura McNeill:

The characters were well-developed and a little over-done. The angst both sisters experience was a little over the top.

Emma’s angst is her “perfect” sister and how no matter what she does, she just isn’t good enough in anyone eyes.  Her intentionally keeping Caroline from Allie, and then pitting her against Allie was aggravating to me as the reader. Allie’s chip on her shoulder towards the sheriff was, again, aggravating.

The story is well written, but it wasn’t a story I couldn’t put down. The plot tended to drag on and on and I think there could have been a climax and solution much sooner, making the book more enjoyable.

By the end of the first chapter, the reader understands the animosity between the two sisters, yet every chapter details it further.  A few sub-plots would have made this book unforgettable and a GREAT read.

But don’t take my word for it! Go get your own copy and read it. You might love it.  Please follow this link to get your own copy. (Clicking the link will open a new window.)

 

I received a free copy of this book from Litfuse for the purpose of review.

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Then and Now.

fullmewedding

Twenty-one years ago. May 6, 1995.

I was 12. No really, I wasn’t. I was 12.5 and playing dress up.

Not really. But I look like it, don’t I?

Tonight we spent a great deal of time reminiscing over wedding things. I brought out our wedding box, the box filled with wedding memorabilia. One of the goodies was “A Premarital Guide For Couples”. Some of our answers really made us giggle with glee.

 

Chortle and guffaw really if you must know the truth.

It quickly became apparent to all of us that Mr. FullCup and I are not alike. We aren’t even all that close.

“What are your feelings about having a percentage of your take-home pay set aside as a ‘non-accountable allowance’ for each of you to spend as you like, no questions asked?”
Me: HEY! Here’s an concept I can get excited about. Great idea! Mr. Fullcup said I should have more than him because I’m more likely to spend it. However, I think it should be an equal amount.
Him: I have never before considered this, but it may be a good idea.
(*Note. We have never done this.)

“What do you believe is the function of a budget?”
Me: To plan for unforeseen expenditures without going to Debtor’s Prison.
Him: To plan for immediate and future expenditures. For the purpose of avoiding a financial catastrophe.

“What are your feelings about budgeting?”
Me: Personally, I don’t like them.
Him: I enjoy them.

“Are you planning to have children? Yes_____ No____”
Me: No.
Him: No.
“How many children would you like to have?”
Me: As many as God allows
Him: At this point we aren’t planning to have any.

I’m sure I was smoking something back then. And  I didn’t smoke.

 

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I can’t believe I can still wear it.

Stats:
Twenty-one years.
252 Months
1,092 weeks
7,665 days

8 Addresses
2 Cats.
2 Children.

Countless hours of silliness and giggles.

I would do it all, all over again.

 

 

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The Vine (John 15:1-2)

20160422_171041Jesus is the only True Vine and I am to abide (accept without objection) in Him.

I can through my own selfish, sinful desires abide in false vines. These can be anything I look to in substitution for obedience to Jesus, my True Vine. Anytime I choose my own way I am abiding in a false vine. Anytime I do my own thing, even if it is a good thing, if I do it apart of my life in Jesus, my only True Vine, I am abiding in a false vine.

I will bear fruit when I abide in alternate vines but it will not be good fruit. The fruit I will produce will be bad, rotten and downright evil. They will come from a life lived entirely for self. And myself is pretty rotten.

“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident which are immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing and things like these of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21

Wow! To abide in false vines means we  won’t inherit the kingdom! That to me is not a good trade off!

The fruit of my sinful nature are not pleasant–not even for a short time. They bring only pain and suffering. There is no peace for those who practice the above fleshly deeds. None. There is no peace. There is no rest. There is no transforming. Just unfruitful deeds of unrighteousness, strife and chaos.

Every branch that is in Him but isn’t bearing fruit He removes because they are not doing what God created them to do.

Taking away could be simply that He stops their self-serving ministry. Or it could be a bit more drastic  as Him just taking them home because they have lost their effectiveness for Him.

We are told in Isaiah 42:8 that God won’t share His glory with anyone else. Not even His child. Not even a branch that is attached to the True Vine.

When we repeatedly and consciously choose to go our own way, abide in false gods of our own making, we are of no earthly good to the kingdom of God. So He uses His prerogative to remove everything from our lives until all we have is Him. When we still choose to abide in false gods, He will simply remove our feet from earth.

When we choose to abide in Him and allow His life to flow through us, we will bear fruit. We will not produce this fruit. This fruit is something we bear through spending time attached to His life giving Vine, and allowing His Spirit to run like sap through us, nourishing us, and nurturing us. It is God and God alone who can produce good fruit. Any fruit I produce in myself will be rotten, because I just can’t be good or produce good on my own. I need Jesus for that.

As we bear fruit, He lovingly prunes us.

I love roses. I know if I want a lot of flowers I have to keep careful watch and prune the dead flowers off. So that it will produce more of the desired flowers.

Jesus is the same way! He loves us and wants us to bear fruit. As we do that He lovingly prunes us, removes the dead fruit, and removes any dead spots. He also watches closely to see if there are places that are just growing and not bearing fruit. He prunes those back as well.

If we did not go through this time of pruning, Jesus would not love us. And He does!

Also if He didn’t love us enough to prune us back, we would stagnant in our growth. We would stop bearing fruit and then we would be taken away.

“Knowledge puffs up”. If all we’re doing is growing, we are getting more knowledge if that is all we have, without adding understanding and converting those to wisdom, we are being puffed up with pride.

Jesus can’t abide a prideful branch. (Isaiah 42:8)

His pruning is for our good. If we are growing tall and leafy, but aren’t bearing fruit, He will prune us back. So we can bear fruit.

I just pruned back a rose bush that was using all of the nutrients I’ve given it to grow tall, and it wasn’t using any of it to produce the flowers I love so dearly.  So just as I pruned back my pretty, but unfruitful rose bush, Jesus will prune us back. Even if we are growing. I planted the rose bush so I could enjoy the flowers, not see a tall rose bush with a lot of growth and leaves but no flowers.

I want the fertilizer, mulch, sunlight, and water I use to take care of my rosebushes to be used to produce blooms–not just a leafy bush.

Jesus is the same way. He doesn’t want us to merely look good, He wants us to be transformed by His sap (the Holy Spirit) so we are good. He wants to produce fruit in us that will make people stop to admire Him and glorify Him.

No one stops to admire a rosebush that isn’t producing roses! No one praises the gardener for his rose bush that is tall and leafy but has no flowers on it.

That isn’t the point of a rose. And it isn’t the point of a believer either.

We are told in Ephesians 2:10 that we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared for us beforehand.Before the creation of the world!

These good works bear fruit! This fruit is what God will use to draw a hurting world to Himself because good fruit glorifies Him and not the branch.

We can’t produce the fruit on our own. He produces it in us and we just have to bear it. This takes abiding, fixing ourselves, stationing ourselves in Him and making no objection to His work in us.

 

 

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