Friday, November 26, 2010

Simplify My Life

Simplify has been a word that I have used for years. I have a sign in my dining room with that single word on it. I would even take time in my Bible study group near the Christmas season and spend several weeks at the beginning of the class going over ways that we can simplify our lives and enjoy them more. We have so much stuff, both materially and personally in our lives, that we are overloaded.

If you are like me, you have a difficult time saying no. I want to do it all! And many things are well worth doing, but “we can’t be everything to everybody and we can’t do it all. We will cheat our families, cheat ourselves or cheat God. And sometimes we cheat all three.

Make a list of your daily activities and rate them. See if you are lopsided in any one area? Decide if there is something that you might want to delete from that list. I know that sometimes there isn’t anything that can be taken off and we have to go through some stress days but you get my idea.

Maybe you need to say “no” the next time you are asked to head up a group or be involved in a task. Give yourself some down time to just listen to the Lord and by all means get into His Word. He misses you when you don’t have time for Him.

Let me make this perfectly clear -- I am not preaching at you, I am writing this entry for myself. Now if I will just listen to my own teaching!

Psalm 119:36, 37 says, “Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; renew my life according to your Word.”
Patricia Harvey

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Who’s Speaking to Whom?

Have you ever been talking to someone, sharing from the wealth of wisdom you’ve accumulated over your life, and realized God may be speaking directly to … YOU? That’s what happened to me over Labor Day weekend.

My family and I were in the UP and went kayaking one afternoon. Along the way, my youngest son was having trouble and started to get very frustrated. I could see that he was going down the wrong path so I paddled over to him, intending to help him calm down. When I got next to Matthew and before I even got one word out of my mouth, I could see I was in for a battle. He didn’t want to calm down or listen. The only thing of interest to him at that time was slamming his paddle and yelling.

As I tried to explain that he wouldn’t be able to get control of his kayak and make progress until he got control of himself and as I watched him pitching a fit -- ignoring my every word -- God opened my eyes and my heart.

Sitting there in my kayak, sharing my words of wisdom, I wondered how many times God has held on to my arm and spoken those same words to me. How many times have I pitched a fit and missed His attempts to calm my heart?

How about you? Ever been in that boat?

Father in heaven, thank You for Your unending patience with me!
Karen Hossink

Monday, November 22, 2010

Taste of the Season

Fall is my absolute favorite season. I love the weather, colors, activities and of course the FOOD! Here is a yummy fall recipe that also happens to be figure friendly! Enjoy!

Crusty Pork Tenderloin with Sweet Potato and Apple 

1 lb. pork tenderloin
1 Tb. chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. coarsely ground pepper
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut crosswise in 8 slices
1 Tb. water
1 apple cut into 6 wedges
1 tsp. packed dark brown sugar
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a 9x13 inch baking dish with non-stick spray. 
  2. Mix the parsley, lemon zest, garlic, oil and ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub onto pork loin and place in dish. Let stand 5-10 minutes. 
  3. Meanwhile, place the sweet potato slices and water in a small microwaveable casserole dish. Cover and microwave on high until par cooked, about three minutes, and drain. 
  4. Place sweet potato slices and apple wedges around the pork. Lightly spray the sweet potato and apple with nonstick spray then sprinkle the sugar, cinnamon and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Roast until internal temperature of pork is 160 degrees and potatoes and apples are tender, about 30 minutes. 
  5. For best results let pork rest for five minutes before slicing. 
From: Dining for Two, Weight Watchers, 2004

Michelle Heriford

Friday, November 19, 2010

My Rock and My Redeemer

Psalm 19:14: Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. 

I don’t usually meditate on just one verse but this one caught my attention. Struggling with the words of my mouth is not uncommon for me and it seems like lately I’ve added the meditation of my heart to the list of areas in my life that I find hard to control. As I prayed over this verse, asking God to help me be more pleasing to Him in these areas, I started thinking about the end of the verse. Why did David include those two attributes of our Lord — my Rock and my Redeemer — with this particular verse?

An answer came quickly to my mind. As my Rock, God is all the strength I need to use sweet words and have pure thoughts. And when I remember that He is my Redeemer and all that that means, it is easier for me to give grace to those around me. I more quickly realize that the Lord died for the driver who just cut me off and the waitress who can’t get my order right and the neighbor whose dog does his duty in my yard.

I feel like God gave me the command and the way to fulfill it all in the same verse. Keeping my focus on what’s true and important, what never changes and the ultimate sacrifice that God made should help my thoughts and speech be more in line with God’s standards.

Patty Dextrom

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Choose Your Circles Wisely

Do you notice your behavior or attitude change around certain people? Everyone has different circles of friends, and I have had mine: my circle of Christian friends, and then the trouble type friends who drank too much, and then the circle of friends that actually suffered from negativity just like me. You know what I found? When I hung out with my friends suffering from negativity and hopelessness it actually triggered an attitude of negativity and hopelessness in my life. It was as if we all had this contagious element that would spread and intensify when we hung out, even pulling the most positive of us back into the pit.

With my friends who liked to “go out” and spend their evenings and weekends drinking away, I always felt pressured to take shots or order drinks when they did. I was always sorry when I chose to go with them and waste my time with drunken people desperately searching for happiness in a place that only offers addiction and enslavement.

Finally, my last circle of friends — those who live their lives to glorify God. When I spend time with them I feel refreshed by their love, joy, and peace. Their joy doesn’t come from a bottle, but from God, and it is real and constant. Evenings spent at a coffee house, talking over things that are challenging us or ways that God is revealing Himself to us ministers to my spirit. When I leave I felt uplifted, hopeful, and excited for what the next day would bring.

I encourage you to honor God with how you spend your very valuable time because it truly matters. Choose your circles wisely, and if any of you lacks wisdom, ask God for it! He will give it to you.

Andrea Perry

Monday, November 15, 2010

In Search of Sunshine

Some days I seem to love to complain. Imagine, for a minute, a fictitious storm cloud hanging directly over my head and following my every move. With every bolt of thunder or downpour of rain my mood gets darker and darker. I can blame my sour attitude on waking up on the wrong side of the bed, that wonderful monthly reminder that God made me a woman, or any multitude of reasons. I stomp my way through my day grumbling about having to pick up after my family, cook yet another meal, or make my way through the mountains of dirty laundry that seemed to have appeared overnight.

Being in the trenches of motherhood, or womanhood, is just plain hard sometimes but what would my life look like if everything I did was for the Lord? What if I didn’t complain about serving my family because those chores or duties weren’t really out of obedience to them but to the Lord? Wouldn’t life be simpler, and more joyful? Isn’t that what so many of us seek?

Colossians 3:23 says: 
“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember, that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.” 

So trade in your storm cloud for sunshine because that inheritance that our Father promises is going to be AWESOME!

Nichole Richardson

Friday, November 12, 2010

As Close as a Whisper

I recently had surgery of a major degree and was pretty much home bound while healing. The word “home bound” to a person like me seems like a jail sentence; I love to be out and about and doing life. But I found that it was the best time of my life! Not because of catching up on all of my reading or TV, but having time with my Lord is what made it such a beautiful experience. He is as close as a whisper! And His Word never changes or never gets old.

I received a card with these words:
  • A physician will ask you how you feel and what your symptoms are. The Great Physician knows how you feel and understands what you are going through. 
  • A physician will have you come to the office. The Great Physician will stay with you and never leave your side. 
  • A physician will treat you with the best medicine available. The Great Physician will treat you with the riches of His grace. 
  • A physician will send you a bill for services rendered. The Great Physician does His work without charge. 
  • A physician tries his very best to help you. The Great Physician assures you that your life couldn’t be in better hands! 
I am glad for doctors and medicine, but the One that gave them the knowledge to treat me is the One that I look to and whisper to in the middle of the night or day. He is my constant companion. A little down time is wonderful if you have Jesus by your side.

Hebrews 13:5b, 6 tells us, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.’”

Patricia Harvey

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I Didn’t Know

My family and I were talking about Jesus the other night -- discussing who we believe He is, and who other people say He is. And I shared with my children who I used to think Jesus is.

When I was a child, I believed in God. I went to church. (Most Sundays. Unless I could convince my mom I was just too tired to get out of bed.) And I thought that’s where God lived. In my understanding, God lived in church and He didn’t come out. Just sat there and waited for us to come see Him on Sundays. I had no idea God was present in every day. Didn’t realize He was involved in every detail of my life. I just didn’t know He was more than a story we talked about on Sundays.

Then my daughter asked me if I prayed when I was a child. And I told her I did! Before dinner and before bed. Again -- I did not know God wanted me to talk to Him about everything. I just didn’t know He cared about anything in my life besides thanking Him for my food and laying me down to sleep.

I cannot begin to express my thankfulness for God’s grace and mercy toward me. He reached out to a young college student who didn’t know she was lost, who didn’t know she was missing the most amazing relationship there is, and He revealed Himself to her.

Since Jesus has come into my life, nothing has ever been the same. Now I know He is present in every moment, and I can trust Him with each one. Now I know He cares about everything, and I can talk to Him about it all. I’m so glad He has saved me from all I didn’t know!

How has your understanding of God changed over the years?

Karen Hossink

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pain with a Purpose

Pregnancy has been quite an up and down experience! One time I got a waitress to get me half onion rings and half fries even though she said it was not allowed. Ahh … the perks of being a pregnant lady!

As I am getting “more” pregnant, I have one word for my growing body … uncomfortable! It seems I am moving slower, sleeping worse and getting more uncomfortable as the days go on. Sometimes I think I can actually feel my belly stretching. When I start to get grumpy or whiney (don’t ask my husband how often this happens), I try to remind myself this too shall pass. That there is a very worthy purpose for this pain and discomfort. That I am going through this process for a reason.

God will also take us through this process. He will take situations in our life to grow and stretch us to bring us closer to him or teach us something. It is not always comfortable, in fact, sometimes it is just painful! But sometimes we have to go through tough times. I know it is the tough times in my life that have shaped me and taught me some tough lessons. Lessons you think you know about, but unless you have experienced it you have no idea.

These growing periods are also a test of character. We can choose to whine and complain or to praise God. It makes me think of the song, Blessed Be the Name of the Lord.” The lyrics say:

Blessed be your name
In the land that is plentiful
Where the streams of abundance flow
Blessed be your name

Blessed be your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be your name

What is God taking you through?

Michelle Heriford

Friday, November 5, 2010

Merry Christmas!

As a follow up to Andrea’s testimony on Wednesday about the value of being involved in ministry, I want to make sure you are aware that sign ups for the Christmas Journey start this weekend after each service. This community outreach, which has become Trinity’s largest evangelistic effort, reaches 5,000 people every year. More than 600 volunteers from Trinity are needed to make this event happen. Whether you like to bake cookies, sew costumes, greet people, decorate or be part of the acting fun, sign up in the atrium on Saturday night or Sunday morning.

Another fun opportunity is to get your small group or family together and serve as townspeople in Bethlehem or on Angel Hill, telling people about the good news of the Christ child born to us. It’s a great way to build community among your group or serve as a family. You can be a part of sharing the Good News of salvation with people who might be coming to hear God’s story for the first time.

So if you’re looking for something to do this holiday season that defines the real meaning of Christmas, look no further than participating in the Christmas Journey on December 3, 4, 5, 10, 11 or 12. Come for one night or all six! In addition to signing up at church, you can also sign up online at Trinity's website. I’ll be there and I hope to see you there too.

Patty Dextrom

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Connect @ Church

Recently, I was early for church (that doesn’t happen as often as I would like), so I camped out in the atrium with my Styrofoam cup of coffee. The closer it came to the start of service, the more people started mingling and filling the atrium. Dozens filtered in and out and I didn’t recognize a face. For a few minutes I realized how lonely it could be for someone who wasn’t connected at Trinity to mingle before and after service. I had just decided to make another trip to the drinking fountain when I noticed someone I knew from the Worship Arts team. She smiled at me, mouthed “hi!” and waved from across the room. Then I noticed a group of friends that play flag football with me as part of Trinity’s Sports Ministry. As I crossed the atrium to say hello, I ran into a couple I met through Starting Point. Wow! I went from knowing no one in the room to being surrounded by friends in a matter of minutes!

As I went in to the service a few minutes later I felt blessed to have so many friends in Christ that also share my love for Trinity. I regret that it took me three years before I got involved in ministry at Trinity, but now that I am connected through the ministries and programs, I am building stronger relationships with my brothers and sisters in Christ and feel more at home in my home church.

I encourage those of you who feel disconnected and alone at Trinity to check out Trinity’s ministry programs and find an area of ministry that interests you. Being active at Trinity is a wonderful way to meet people and develop Christ-centered relationships. If you are already connected, and like me are feeling blessed by the friendships you have at Trinity, I encourage you to reach out to others who may not have those relationships yet. They need you!

Andrea Perry

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Beauty of the Seasons

I thank God every year for fall and winter. I believe it’s His way of slowing me down from the hustle and bustle of life. I appreciate the beauty of the leaves changing color, curling up in my favorite chair with a soft blanket and a mug of Hot Cocoa or the very first snowfall that is so enchanting. Darkness falls earlier and the colder air finds me seeking the warmth of my home more often. It is during those moments of stillness and rest that I hear my Father speak the most clearly.

As soon as I see the very first signs of fall this is what I bake:

Orange Pumpkin Bread
2/3 C. shortening
2 2/3 C. sugar
4 eggs
3 1/3 C. flour
2 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
1 (16oz.) can pumpkin
2/3 C. water
¼ C. orange juice
2 tsp. orange zest

Cream shortening; gradually add sugar. Beat on medium speed. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add orange zest, juice, and water. Combine flour and next five ingredients. Add to creamed mixture, alternating dry ingredients with pumpkin. Beginning and ending with flour mixture. Spoon batter into two greased and floured 9x5x3 inch loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour 10 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Nichole Richardson