Keep on Swimming. . .

everyday life inside the fishbowl

The Best Almond Granola {Refined-Sugar Free!}

I’ve been making granola for years, and I’ve liked the recipe or two I’ve tried, but the texture has never been quite right. Not like the dreamy granola I remember my mom putting on her frozen yogurt at TCBY, at least! Recently, I happened upon a recipe that I fell in love with AND it only bakes for 10 minutes!! I’m not quite sure how it works, seeing my other granola baked for 40 minutes. Julie’s granola is heavenly, and here’s her recipe:

Initially, I made it exactly like she wrote it, and it was just perfect. Grinding up half the almonds gives wonderful nutty texture. Plus the almond extract makes the almond flavor jump right out (and I’m normally not a fan of almond extract). Cooling the granola on wax paper after spreading the granola out very thinly helps keep the texture clumpy, but chewy. Delicious!

I did want to reduce the sugar content. I repeatedly cut down both the honey and the brown sugar, until finally I had cut the honey in half, eliminated the brown sugar, and added unrefined coconut sugar. These modifications keep the granola slightly sweet with occasional clumps (though perhaps not quite as clumpy as Julie’s original).

Here is my modified recipe. Enjoy! 🙂


2 cups whole almonds, divided

6 cups old-fashioned oats

1 tsp salt

1/3 cup coconut sugar

1/3 cup honey

6 Tbsp (or 1/4 cup  + 2 Tbsp) coconut oil

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Place 1 cup almonds in food processor and chop until finely processed.
  3. Chop the remaining 1 cup almonds coarsely.
  4. Place all almonds, oats, salt, and coconut sugar in a large bowl.
  5. Heat oil and honey in microwave/stovetop until oil is melted. Stir in vanilla and almond extracts.
  6. Mix oil/honey mixture into oat mixture, then place onto 2 silpat- or parchment-lined rimmed baking sheets.
  7. Bake 5 minutes. Stir and switch around baking sheets (to prevent bottom one becoming too dark). Bake 5 more minutes.
  8. Spread baked granola onto 2 large pieces of wax paper on a flat surface. Spread as thinly as possible. Cool.
  9. Store in an airtight container.
  10. Enjoy!!
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You Have Not Delivered Me At All!

This past year I finished writing a study on the first book in the Bible, Genesis. I couldn’t wait to continue to study how God would keep his promises to his people, Israel, so I decided to study Exodus as well. I’ve almost completed my first week of the study, and some things struck me that I have never noticed before. I shared my thoughts as a Facebook post, but it was blog-length, so I thought I’d share here. 🙂

When Moses was living in Egypt, he killed an Egyptian who was wronging an Israelite. Stephen, martyred hundreds of years later for preaching the truth about Jesus, gives an interesting commentary on this before his stoning in Acts 7:25: “He supposed that his [Moses’] brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand.” Instead, they rejected him. Moses had tried to be the deliverer of his people on his own initiative with his own methods, and he had failed.

40 years later, God appeared to him, saying that he had seen his people’s affliction, heard their cry, knew their sufferings, “and I have come down to deliver them” (Ex 3:8). Salvation/deliverance was to come by God’s hand, although God would choose to use Moses (His way). God followed this call with detailed promises and signs to back up his promises. Despite Moses’ many protests, God sent him to Egypt. Here again, Stephen comments: “This Moses, whom they rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’–this man God sent as both ruler and redeemer by the hand of the angel who appeared to him in the bush” (Acts 7:35).

So, Moses goes, and Pharaoh rejects him as God had said he would. But he does not just reject Moses’ words, he also increased the Israelites’ burdens, causing them to resist Moses. Moses’ response was to tell God, “You have not delivered your people at all.”

Two things struck me. First, we often try to solve our problems our own way and sometimes in an unbiblical manner. Clearly, killing an Egyptian was not the answer. Yet, Moses had this idea that he could be Israel’s deliverer.

Ironically, God did want Moses to be the one through whom He delivered his people, but according to His own plan and timeline. God had given Moses all of these promises, based upon his former covenant with Abraham and based upon his own person. Yet at the first negative interaction (albeit an interaction which worsened Israel’s situation), Moses accused God of not delivering his people at all.

Secondly, it is so easy to doubt God’s promises when we do what he has said and then see life not going well–or even going worse. We begin at times to think that God is not going to keep his promises–because, well, he sure hasn’t done it immediately like we wanted him to! “You have not delivered me at all!” our hearts cry (though we may not accuse him in so many words).

Yet God responded to Moses’s doubts and accusation graciously. He repeated his promises based on who he is: “I am the Lord” (Ex 6:2, 6, 7, 8) and based on his past promises (see all of Genesis). We also must trust God, because of who he is, what he has said, and what he has done. He knows our trials, and he hears them–just like he heard the Israelites’ groanings. And, we have this wonderful story–as we know the end of the story here–of God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt.

God keeps his word. We can trust him. Psalm 31:14 – “But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, ‘You are my God.’”


Thursday Thoughts: The Most Important Parenting Truth I’m Learning

crossI haven’t written in over a year. Life has happened, and I’ve tried to make real life a priority over the blog, fun as it may be. The kiddos are now almost-7, 5, almost-3, and 6.5 months.  Real life has been really busy around here lately.  .  .

Mothering has become even more full-time than ever, and I’ve been learning a whole lot. I am a mom-in-progress as I find out the hard way the better way of mothering.

This isn’t a post about whether or not to schedule you baby’s sleep, whether or not to use a pacifier, whether or not to vaccinate, whether or not to give your child sugar. I have learned a lot about sleep, food, vaccines, etc. But these are not the most important parenting truth I’m still in the process of learning.

This truth is the truth about how I view myself and how I view my children.

My older three children are at intense stages of discipline right now. They are learning to be disciplined in their schoolwork, piano, chores, and play with each other. And behavior. Behavior discipline is especially {ahem} challenging–to say the least–with the two-year old at the moment.

But I consistently persevere with the two-year old, because I look at my six-year old, and I realize there is HOPE. God can use my measly, growing, evolving mothering to do a work of grace in my children’s hearts.

I especially hope in regard to the two-year old when I observe my five-year old. This child has more spunk, will, and emotional versatility and volatility than almost anyone I know. Discipling her and disciplining her behavior has been a difficult path for us. Yet I have recently seen a softening in her in response to our discipline, and I have tried to put a finger on its cause.

I think this truth may play a big part in it. I have learned that it is essential to view myself on the same plain as my children–at least where I hope they place themselves.

I need to keep myself–with them— at the foot of the cross.

I need to remind myself that I am in need of just as much grace as my children are. I need to remind myself that I am just a little ahead of them on the race–the same race–that we must both run.

And not only do I need to remind myself of this truth, but I need to frequently tell my children this truth. I believe that this has made a huge difference in my disciplining of them and their response.

  • I apologize daily to them for sinning in my interaction with them. I ask them to forgive me.
  • I tell them that they are sinners–just like mommy–when they are being disciplined. I tell them that they need Jesus, just like mommy does.
  • When they obey, I point them to Jesus. We praise God that He is teaching them to obey. When I am more patient with them, I tell them how thankful I am that God is teaching me to be more patient.
  • I pray with them for myself. I tell them how I struggle and how I ask God to help me.
  • I ask them how they think I’m doing with the struggles that I have (primarily patience!).

Here’s one example from just the other day. The five-year old was out-of-control reacting {again} to something the two-year old did {again}. I yelled at the five-year old and lectured her about being out of control. In the middle of my lecture, I just stopped. I recognized what I was doing. I took a deep breath, and I told her that mommy was out of control too. I told her that we both needed Jesus to help us have self-control, especially when other people do things that we don’t like.

This five-year old who used to have a hardened expression on her face during these conversations, who used to suddenly “have to go to the bathroom right now,” who used to tell me “I’m bored” when we would talk about behavior and Jesus. . . . This girl suddenly started gently scratching my back, and hugging me, and listening. And this has been her general disposition lately.

I don’t know what exact work that God is doing in her heart right now. But I know one thing. She knows that her mommy is running the race with her (or at least calling her to run with her), at the foot of the cross of Jesus.


{On Thursdays, I share some thoughts about what God is teaching me in my various roles as a Christian, a woman, a wife, a mother, and a pastor’s wife.}

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Learning to Love God’s Word, Psalm 119-style

open bibleHave you ever read Psalm 119 and felt guilty that you don’t love God’s Word like the psalmist? Or have you ever thought–Wow! I wonder what it’s like to feel so passionate about the Bible?!

(Or do you just skim through that chapter anyway when it comes up because it is so. incredibly. long–especially when you were just able to breeze through 117?)

Here’s a taste of the psalmist’s love of and dependence on God’s Word in Psalm 119:

Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all day. (97)

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (103)

I love your commandments above gold, above fine gold. (127)

Your testimonies are wonderful; therefore my soul keeps them. (129)

I open my mouth and pant, because I long for your commandments. (131)

I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words. My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise. (148-149)

Do you feel that way about God’s Word?

I have been in that place where I know that God’s Word is good. I know that it is helpful. I know that I should read it. And so I read.

But I did not necessarily “open my mouth and pant, because I long” to read God’s Word.

But now I do. I can truly, honestly say, “Oh how I love your law!” “How sweet are your words to my taste.”

What changed?

Ever since having children, I have struggled–as most moms do–with squeezing in quiet time. For me, I know that if I don’t get that time in the morning, it’s just not going to happen. That is the time I also tried to exercise, after which I would read my Bible. Getting up early is challenging enough, but getting up early to exercise–something I’ve traditionally not enjoyed–was not motivating, even though I knew I’d read my Bible after.

A few months ago, I decided that I needed to adjust my schedule. I decided to exercise a few times a week during the kids “quiet” time. (I’m actually more motivated to do this now, because my husband bought me a pair of Bluetooth headphones, and I listen to audiobooks off my library app. I actually look forward to this now!)

This has allowed me to save my morning quiet time for time with the Lord. I prepare my coffee every night, and I have 45 minutes to 1 hour at least 5 days a week to read. Because I enjoy my quiet time, and because I’ve grown in my love for and desire to read God’s Word, I have been extremely motivated to get up. I have not intentionally slept through my alarm once!

I say all this to explain the practical changes I had to make in order to prioritize having a consistent time with the Lord. Once I had this time, I actually had the time to do more than read a few verses, a psalm, or the proverb of the day.

I found the time to thoroughly study individual books of the Bible.

I truly believe that this is what is key to loving God’s Word. Reading God’s Word is good. But studying God’s Word with a heart to know it fosters a vibrant love and desire for God and His Word.

Think of the things you really love. How did your love for that thing, hobby, study, or person develop? It likely did not just pop up in your heart. You invested time, energy, and interest in it.

Love for God’s Word is not necessarily a natural instinct for a believer either. You must invest time, energy, and interest in it as you would anything else.

I would go further and say that we should invest more time, energy, and interest in what truly brings life to a believer, God’s Word. In Matthew 4:4, Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 8:3 when he says,

Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

Do you really believe that?

Studying God’s Word takes work. It takes more time and mental energy than simply reading through some verses. Obviously there are those days, when that is all one may have time for. But knowing God’s Word requires studying it. And studying God’s Word fosters love for God’s Word.

In the future, I will post some tips on how to study God’s Word and some resources for doing so. Just know that studying God’s Word does not require a seminary degree, a knowledge of Greek and Hebrew, or even access to a commentary. It requires a Bible, pen and paper, and a heart that recognizes that

Your testimonies are wonderful;

therefore my soul keeps them.

The unfolding of your words gives light;

it imparts understanding to the simple.

I open my mouth and pant,

because I long for your commandments.

(Psalm 119:129-131)


{On Wednesdays, I share from a book, blog, or other resource some “worthy words.” I love to read, but my time for reading has been much decreased since the birth of my first child. I am encouraged when I am able to read snippets of precious truth as I come across them. Hopefully these few words will encourage your heart, as well as give you a resource for fuller reading as your time allows.}



Thursday Thoughts: Provoking Your Children

By Mindaugas Danys from Vilnius, Lithuania, Lithuania (scream and shout) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Mindaugas Danys from Vilnius, Lithuania, Lithuania (scream and shout)

I’ve been writing a Bible study on the book of Colossians, and it has been such a benefit to my soul! Christ is the theme of the book. A major sub-theme is the believer’s position in Christ and his responsibility to live in accordance with his position.

The author, Paul, spent the first part of chapter 3 discussing what relationships should look like within the body of Christ. The last part of the chapter focuses on family relationships. While the wives-submitting-to-their-husbands part struck home for me as I anticipated, the parenting aspect struck a new chord.

Paul says in verse 21,

            Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

While Paul directly addresses fathers, I believe that it is valid for mothers to take note of this command as well. I also looked up the parallel passage in Paul’s letters to the Ephesians:

 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (6:4).

Paul’s point is that there is something wrong when a parent provokes his or her child to discouragement or anger. Clearly, there are times when a parent provokes his child to unwarranted anger. When I tell my child that we will not buy any of the candy in the checkout lane of the grocery store, and that child throws a fit of anger, I am not guilty of sinfully provoking that anger. (However it might be wise to avoid shopping with an overly hungry child and/or to have a conversation before hitting the checkout lane!)

So, I began thinking about which of my words or actions can provoke my children to anger or discouragement. I came up with a list (and I’m sure there are more!).

  • Inconsistency
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Unclear or unspoken expectations
  • Teasing
  • My own anger or impatience

Next, I looked at what Paul contrasts with provoking your children to anger in Ephesians: “but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” The implications of this contrast were really sobering to me.

When we provoke our children to anger or discouragement, we do not have the goal of disciplining or instructing our children in the Lord as our primary goal. If we provoke our children, then we are evidencing that our primary goal is likely selfish–anger, pride, inconvenience, impatience, etc. If our primary goal is to discipline and instruct our children in the Lord, then the manner of our discipline and instruction will be such that it will not anger or discourage our children. (Again, our children may become angry or discouraged simply because they do not like to be disciplined, but we are not at fault if we have not provoked that anger by our own sin.)

When we sinfully provoke our children to anger, we’ve also lost (or at least hindered) an opportunity to help our children focus on the Lord’s instruction. They instead become focused on our words, actions, or attitude that provoked them to discouragement or anger.

As I write this, I think of how I fail in this area multiple times a day. The discouragement would be overwhelming if I didn’t remember the context that these verses are in. Colossians 3:3 says,

Your life is hidden with Christ in God.

Despite my many failures, my life–with all its sin–is hidden in Christ’s perfect life.

Not only can I find encouragement in my position in Christ, I can also find encouragement in what God is actively doing in my life:

And have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator (3:10).

May God help each of us parents to remember who we are in Christ, what Christ is doing in us, and the goal of our discipline and instruction of our children–to also know and be like Christ.

* * *

{On Thursdays, I share some thoughts about what God is teaching me in my various roles as a Christian, a woman, a wife, a mother, and a pastor’s wife.}




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Frugal Friday: Meal Planning Made Easy

sticky-paperRaise your hand if you dread weekly meal planning!

My hand would have been raised until recently when I devised a system that has completely changed my meal planning game. I share this in case someone out there just might profit from what has helped me immensely!

I used to sit with my sales ads in front of me, along with cookbooks and my recipe cards trying to figure out what I felt like making, what was on sale, what was healthy, what new recipes I wanted to try out, what my family would like. . .

My husband, though, would frequently comment about the meals we all loved: “You know, you could make this every week, and I wouldn’t mind.” After almost 8 years of his saying this, I finally took his words to heart and made myself a monthly schedule. Obviously, if you live with people who don’t like routine meals, this isn’t going to work for you. But this has been a huge time-saver for me, as well as minimizing a task I used to dread. As an added plus, I think my young kids actually benefit from the routine, as they generally know what to expect.

I have some open meal slots, as I do enjoy trying out new recipes, or throwing in something that is not as frugal or healthy as our usual. I initially started out planning just dinners, but I liked the idea so much that I plan our lunches too. My wonderful husband makes breakfast, so I don’t even have to worry about that, although he makes the same meals on certain days of the week too.

Here’s our basic weekly schedule:



L-Leftovers (AKA empty the fridge, because I will shop that night)




L-Leftover from dinner (or egg salad if no leftovers)



B-Smoothies and eggs

L-Baked potatoes with broccoli

D-Pizza & veggies (Aldi’s large deli pizzas are delicious and only $5.99)


B-Smoothies and eggs

L-Sandwiches & veggies

D-Mexican (I have 4-5 different meals I plan on for each week of the month. Every other week I cook a big crockpot of refried beans to use with this meal and others.)



L-Leftover Mexican

D-Breakfast/vegetarian (I have 2 breakfast meals and 2 vegetarian meals I plan on)



L-Refried bean dip (from Thursday’s meal)

D-Crockpot meal



L-Saturday leftovers

D-Cheese quesadillas

We have reasons for doing some of our meals the way we do. Wednesday nights we meet with our church for prayer, so pizza reduces the stress. Thursday nights are our family fun night, and we all love Mexican–and I often make a dessert too. Sundays we have church, and because my husband is the pastor, they tend to be crazy or stressful, so we like to keep it simple.

I can’t stress enough how much of a help this has been to me. I hope it can help one of you too! Stay tuned in future “Tasty Tuesday” posts for a few of my regular recipes for extra inspiration.

Happy stress-free meal planning! 🙂

{On Fridays, I attempt to pass along a frugal tip I have learned or am attempting to learn. I love a good deal, and I love to help our family stay within the budget by being frugal in every area of life!}




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Monday Meditations: Preach the Gospel to Yourself Every Day

open bibleYesterday, my husband preached a message titled “Unbelievable” from Mark 6:1-6. This passage tells of Jesus and his disciples returning to Jesus’ hometown, Nazareth, and teaching in the synagogue. Jesus’ friends and family “took offense” (v. 3) at Jesus and rejected him. They didn’t believe he was who he said he was. They couldn’t get over who they thought him to be (i.e., merely Jesus, brother to their neighbors, a carpenter’s son, the son of Mary). Jesus “marveled because of their unbelief” (v. 6). It is unbelievable that people would hear and see Jesus, yet reject him.

It is unbelievable to me when people hear the gospel clearly presented and yet reject Jesus. I recently had the opportunity to study one of the gospels with a friend for about 2 months. It was sad and unbelievable to me that she should come away rejecting Jesus as who he clearly said he was–God the Son.

Yesterday evening our ladies’ study discussed a passage from our current book Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges. Our emphasis was the Gospel. The point was that in order to fight our sin, we need to view our sin in light of the gospel. We each need to “Preach the gospel to yourself every day.”

As I thought about this and typed out for myself a reminder to do so (see below), I thought that believers can also struggle with unbelief in the gospel. When we live constantly giving in to our sins (even–especially?!—the “respectable” ones), when we wallow in the guilt over our sins, when we strive to meet God’s approval only with our good deeds, etc we don’t practically believe the gospel. We’ve given in to unbelief. And this should be unbelievable too. It is unbelievable that believers should live every day without practically living out God’s work in us through the gospel every day.

So, as I told my ladies that I would do, I typed out this reminder to preach the gospel to myself every day. I’m going to print it out and put it somewhere visible, so that I will remember the gospel.

Preach the Gospel

{On Mondays, I share some thoughts from my pastor’s (husband’s) sermon on Sunday. This will be good for me, as it will help cement God’s truths in my head and heart. I hope these truths will encourage and challenge you! If you’re interested in hearing a particular sermon, you can head here to listen.}

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Tasty Tuesday: Mom’s Meatloaf {with tomato sauce gravy, caramelized onions, and french fried onions}

024First let me warn some of you off. If you never veer off the path of pure healthy eating, you will not care for this recipe. Second, if you like your meatloaf dry and able to be perfectly sliced like a loaf of bread (as my husband does), then this recipe is not for you either.

But, if you are willing to occasionally indulge in a splurge of homey, meat-and-potato goodness. . . . If you relish the thought of a moist bite of meatloaf, topped with caramelized onions and crunchy fried onions, all smothered in a tomato gravy atop a bed of mashed potatoes . . . then this recipe is for you! 🙂

Initially, my mom’s recipe did not have the onions on top. Years ago, though, I ordered meatloaf at a restaurant (something I rarely do, because–well–who orders meatloaf at a restaurant??). Anyway, it was some of the best meatloaf I ever had, smothered in caramelized and french fried onions. I decided to make the onions a staple (and defining, I might add) part of Mom’s meatloaf recipe.

One more note before I get into the recipe: Technically, this recipe does call for hamburger, which usually has a higher fat content than ground beef. The higher fat content helps the loaf better stick together. However, I usually use ground beef, which does mean that the slices of meatloaf  somewhat fall apart when sliced. This does not bother me, but if it bothers you, use hamburger, as the recipe calls for.

I love to serve the meatloaf over mashed potatoes, spooning a little more of the gravy on top, then sprinkling the caramelized and french fried onions on top. Absolutely delicious!


  • 2 pounds raw hamburger
  • 1 large onion, chopped fairly finely013
  • Onion and garlic powder (to taste)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup cracker crumbs (I used saltine-type crackers)
  • 1 tbsp A-1 sauce (any steak sauce will do)
  • 3 8-oz cans tomato sauce
  • 2 cans golden mushroom soup
  • 1-2 green peppers (chop ½ of 1 green pepper and slice the remaining to place on top of the meatloaf)


  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Combine hamburger, chopped onion, spices, eggs, cracker crumbs, A-1 sauce, 1 can tomato sauce, and the chopped green pepper in a large bowl. Use hands to mix thoroughly.
  • Form into a loaf shape and place in a casserole dish. (I recommend a 9×13 if you are going to make the gravy.)020
  • Place the pepper slices on top of the meatloaf, pressing them slightly into the meat mixture.
  • Mix the remaining 2 cans of tomato sauce and 2 cans of golden mushroom soup. Pour the soup mixture on top of the meatloaf.
  • Bake uncovered for 1 hour, 45 minutes.
  • While the meatloaf is cooking you can prepare your mashed potatoes and caramelize your onions.
  • For each serving, place a slice of meatloaf on top of mashed potatoes, add gravy, and sprinkle with caramelized and french fried onions.
  • Enjoy! 🙂

{On Tuesdays, I share a yummy recipe. Typically, my recipes will be super easy, because I’m a mom with littles. I try to be healthy and frugal as well. But I like good food, so it will always be delicious! }

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Monday Meditations: The Power of the Son of God

wavesMy husband has been preaching through the Gospel of Mark, and it has been so refreshing to hear this “gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1) preached straight through. It has been humbling and awe-inspiring to see the immense power in simply a word or a touch of Jesus Christ.

One of the primary emphases lately in my husband’s sermons is that Jesus is God. While some think the title “Son of God” implies only that Jesus is God’s Son, the fact is this title means much more. Jesus, as “Son of God” shares the qualities of God. Jesus is, in fact, God. I have heard my husband say basically the following words  many times over the past few weeks: “If you can come away from these passages and not see that Jesus is God, I don’t know what else to tell you.”

Jesus, the Son of God, has power over Nature

In Mark 4:35-41, Jesus had finished a day of teaching in a boat to a huge crowd by the sea. At evening, Jesus and the disciples left the crowd to go to the other side of the sea. Jesus fell asleep in the boat, and there soon arose a fierce storm. The storm was so bad that waves crashed over the boat, filling it with water. Jesus continued to sleep, so the disciples woke him, asking him if he cared that they were perishing.

Jesus responded by simply standing up and rebuking the wind and sea with one command: “Hush, be still. And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm.”

Then Jesus asked why they were afraid. He asked them if they still have no faith. The disciples response? “They became very much afraid,” wondering “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”

What made the disciples afraid? Who then is this? Who then can say a word and all nature obeys him? None but God. None but the Son of God. Jesus.

Jesus, the Son of God, has power over Demons

In Mark 5:1-20, Jesus and his disciples came to the other side of the sea. As soon as they got out of the boat a man with an unclean spirit met Jesus. This demon-possessed man lived naked among the tombs, was so strong that he was unable to be restrained even with chains, spent night and day screaming in the tombs and mountains and gashing himself. Note the demon’s response (through the man he possessed) when he saw Jesus:

  • He bowed before Jesus (v. 6).
  • He referred to Jesus as “Son of the Most High God” (v. 7).
  • He appealed to God for Jesus not to torment him when Jesus commanded the spirit to come out of the man (v. 8).
  • He earnestly implored Jesus not to send them out (v. 10) but rather into swine (v. 12).

When Jesus asked the demon’s name, he responded “Legion; for we are many.” A Roman legion consisted of 1000-6000 men, so it is possible that this many demons possessed this man.

            “Jesus gave [the demons] permission [to enter the swine].”

After the demons entered the swine, the pigs jumped into the sea and drowned. When the pigs’ herdsman told the people of the city and country, they ran to see what had happened.  They came to Jesus and saw the once-demon-possessed man sitting, clothed, and in his right mind. Their response? “They became frightened.” So frightened, in fact, that they asked Jesus to leave. The man who had the demon removed, however, begged to go with Jesus. Jesus denied him, telling him instead to go home and report “what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you.” This the man did and “everyone was amazed.”

What frightened the crowd? What amazed everyone? What kind of person does a demon bow to, beg for mercy, and ask permission to leave the one it is inhabiting? Who can command  thousands of demons with a word? None but God. None but the Son of God. Jesus.

Jesus, the Son of God, has power over Disease and Death

In Mark 5:21-43, Jesus went back to the other side of the sea by boat, only to be greeted by a large crowd. The crowd gathered around him, and Jesus stayed on the seashore. One of the synagogue officials, Jairus, came to Jesus, fell at his feet, and asked for the life of his dying, 12-year-old daughter. He asked that Jesus would come lay his hands on her, so she would get well and live. Jesus went off with him.

While he and Jairus were walking to Jairus’ home, the large crowd continued to follow him and to press in on him. A woman who had a hemorrhage for 12 years (thus considered unclean and untouchable according to Jewish law) heard about Jesus and squeezed her way through the crowd to get close to Jesus. Her goal was to simply touch Jesus’ garments in order to be healed. This she did, and immediately the hemorrhage stopped and her body healed.

After simply touching Jesus’ garments, the woman was healed. Jesus could perceive that power had left him by this simple touch.

Jesus asked the disciples who had touched him, and the disciples were incredulous that he would ask such a question because there were so many touching and pressing in on Jesus. Still, Jesus looked around and saw “the woman fearing and trembling.” Jesus comforted her, telling her to go in peace, because her faith in Jesus’ healing power had made her well.

Now, remember, Jairus was still with Jesus and likely saw this whole thing. In fact, while Jesus was still speaking to the women, people came from Jairus’ house, saying that his daughter was dead–no need to trouble the Teacher anymore. Jesus, ignoring this announcement, said to Jairus, “Do not be afraid, only believe.”

Jesus, now taking only Peter, James, and John with him to Jairus’ house, saw people making a commotion, weeping and wailing loudly. Jesus informed them that the commotion was unnecessary because the girl was not dead, just sleeping. The people laughed at Jesus, and Jesus put them out of the house. Taking his three disciples and the girl’s parents, Jesus entered the room where the girl was lying.

Jesus took the dead girl by the hand and said “Talitha kum” (“Little girl, I say to you get up!”). Immediately the girl got up and began to walk.

They were astounded. What kind of person could bring healing by a woman’s touching his garment in faith? What kind of person could say two words, commanding a dead girl to come back to life? None but God. None but the Son of God. Jesus.

Only the God who is Creator of the winds and waves, Sovereign over demons and disease, the Creator of life itself can have the power to still the storm, demand demons to depart, heal disease, and command life. Only Jesus, the Son of God, can share this power to its fullest extent.

Over and over again, the people who saw Jesus’ power were afraid. They recognized that Jesus was not mere man; He is also God. Unfortunately, some people were (and still are) fearful and rejected Jesus, asking him to leave. Others though–afraid and awed at Jesus’ display of power–did not remain fearful, but believed in Jesus as Son of God.

When we view Jesus Christ, in all his magnificent power, we should have a holy awe and reverence. Yet let us not “be afraid, only believe” and then report “what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you.”

{On Mondays, I share some thoughts from my pastor’s (husband’s) sermon on Sunday. This will be good for me, as it will help cement God’s truths in my head and heart. I hope these truths will encourage and challenge you! If you’re interested in hearing a particular sermon, you can head here to listen.}

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Frugal Friday: Filling the Freezer for Post Baby, Part 3

297The past couple weeks I posted parts 1 and 2, each listing 10 recipes that I made to fill my freezer with meals to eat after my third baby was born. Here are some more of the recipes I made. Again, I’ll star my absolute favorites that I know I’ll make again.

  1. *Homemade Pizza

These are delicious, easy, and frugal–not to mention much healthier than store-bought frozen pizzas! I make my own crust, using this simple no-rise dough. I also make my own sauce, using this delicious and easy sauce recipe. I often make double the pizza when we have pizza and follow these simple instructions to parbake and freeze one of the pizzas. Delicious and easy!

  1. *Slow Cooker Italian Beef 

Another delicious and easy winner! Techinally, you don’t really freeze this meal, unless you have a roast that you bought on sale and froze. I also definitely recommend the baked potato wedges recommended at the end of the recipe. Delish!

  1. Freezer egg sandwiches using homemade sausage patties.

I will not make these again. The homemade sausage was good and maybe I’ll make that (but I would cut them in patties before freezing next time!). It was quite a bit of work for the quantity I made, and I did not care for the way they reheated. The English muffins were soggy and the eggs were kind of spongy. Oh well, live and learn. . .

  1. *Instant Oatmeal 

So simple. If you buy instant oatmeal packets, just stop! 🙂 This is so much cheaper and healthier. Not to mention really easy.

The following are some side dishes I made as well.

  1. *Homemade Salsa (whichever is your favorite!)

After blending, simply place in freezer bag container or bag and freeze.

  1. Twice baked potatoes 

These were fine, but I thought the work outweighed the convenience factor.

  1. Cheesy potato skins 

If you do make #6, though, do make these. 🙂 They were good.

  1. Sweet Broccoli Pasta

Confession: we still have this in the freezer. We did not care for this when we made it. It was just weird to have sugar in a pasta dish.

  1. Southwest Rice and Beans

This a great, delicious side dish. I just didn’t care for it after frozen. It’s so easy anyway (especially if you have rice in the freezer) to just throw together–I just make it fresh.

  1. Spiced Roasted Cauliflower 

This was good. I just prefer to use whatever fresh veggies are in season, though.

Hope these lists are a help. Happy cooking and freezing! 🙂

{On Fridays, I attempt to pass along a frugal tip I have learned or am attempting to learn. I love a good deal, and I love to help our family stay within the budget by being frugal in every area of life!}

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