Renewing the Mind

(Just a note: Honestly enough, I had hard time focusing my thoughts for this entry. There were so many directions I could have gone in (and wanted to go in), and I had a hard time limiting them. I hope this entry makes sense and brings someone a little encouragement today.)

We have been told to quarantine, social distance, self-isolate, etc. for our own health and for the health of other people around us. We are in the middle of a worldwide pandemic caused by COVID 19.

There is no time like the present to take hold of your health.

I have been pursuing health improvement and optimization since last year around the time I received my metastatic diagnosis. It has been quite a journey and I have learned quite a bit. There are so many different things that contribute either positively or negatively to our health. Today I want to focus a little bit on mental/spiritual health.

I have been studying in Romans for the past month or so and I want to point out Romans 12:2:

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

What is feeding your mind or soul?

The world?

Or God?

Because what we think matters!

Prayer, reading of Scripture, being thankful, and having community with the Church are some of the ways I renew my mind and remind myself of God’s presence. I typically start my day with a Bible devotion or study and prayer to help my mind focus. When I don’t do this my whole day is off and I can tell that I have not spent enough time seeking God. If I don’t fill my “heart” with God’s Word, then the things of this world have an easier time creeping in and causing chaos.

To those feeling isolated:

  • I pray we remember you are never alone. God is always with us.
  • Let’s take this time as an opportunity to slow down and focus on what is most important to us and set our minds on the things of above.
  • Please remember we are doing something important by staying home, even if it doesn’t feel or seem that way.
  • We are protecting ourselves from the virus if we don’t have it.
  • More importantly, we are protecting others by not spreading the virus if we have it knowingly or unknowingly.

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:1-2

To those in the healthcare field and others who continue to work:

  • I pray for God’s protection over you.
  • I am thankful you continue to work and serve your communities in such uncertain times.
  • I hope you find the time to renew your minds and prepare yourselves for battle each day.

“He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.” Psalm 112:7

To the Church:

  • I pray we continue to reach out and serve our communities with each and every opportunity we are given (through a screen or in person).
  • I am so thankful for the technology we have at our disposal today and how full my Facebook feed has been with uplifting sermons, devotions, and testimonies.
  • Let us keep flooding every social media platform with the Good News!
  • Let us step up and be an example to the world!

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2

Though we find ourselves in uncertain times, no matter what role we play, let us remember we are called to “be patient in affliction and persistent in prayer”. Also, consider that our spiritual health and growth is more important than our happiness; being “pruned” is not pleasant.

So, let us all set out to renew our minds through our pursuits of Jesus and watch our desires to learn more about our Creator grow!

Here are some more Bible verses for encouragement:

Psalm 19:14

Psalm 46:10

Psalm 55:17

Psalm 57:7

Proverbs 3:11-12

Proverbs 4:20-22

Proverbs 15:15

Isaiah 26:3

Jeremiah 24:7

Jeremiah 29:12-13

John 17:3

2 Corinthians 5:17

2 Corinthians 10:4-5

Colossians 3:1-2

1 Thessalonians 5:17

 

 

 

A View From Home: Corona Virus

If you have the privilege to live in a modest setting, you probably have access to internet and social media, then your social media feed is over filling with the corona virus pandemic information, memes, case numbers, government action/lack of action, etc. We are living in some strange times and there are so many questions, concerns, and emotions swirling around. I don’t have medical, professional, or statistical data to contribute. The only thing I can do is share what I see from my point of view and provide encouragement to those who are kind enough to continue reading my posts.

Public View:

The Corona Virus (COVID 19) is starting to spread like wildfire in our country. National and local officials are trying to implement and encourage interventions to help slow the spread and flatten the curve. Unfortunately our arrogance and concern about public opinion overran our common sense and has now put several people in danger.  However, what’s done is done.

So, now what?

Social distancing is a very popular term right now but please learn about its importance. Learning to stay home can be hard for many people in modern society, when we are constantly on the go. I pray that people use common sense, have patience with this temporary disruption, and be considerate of your health and those around themselves.

I have sympathy for those who have to completely rearrange their lives and are scrambling to make adjustments. My hope is that people take the recommended precautions seriously.

Personal View:

Personally, the disruption has not been that significant at this point. We are “homebodies” anyway; we enjoy being home. The biggest change we have right now is that my husband is allowed to work from home, but this is not foreign to us either. He was able to do this when I was going through chemotherapy. I suppose, our past experiences with social isolation from cancer and chemotherapy has helped prepare us for the current situation.

We are doing our best to be cautious and we are avoiding all social activities outside of our home. Social distancing is important to us, specifically, because I am part of the higher risk group for “catching” the virus. I am on a medication for my metastatic cancer that suppresses my immune system. (People often forget, or overlook, people like me because we don’t look sick.)

Encouragement:

I have listed below some Bible verses that have and continue to bring me hope and peace during times of fear.

I hope you find comfort in them as well.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”  Jeremiah 29:11-13

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28

“fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  Isaiah 41:10

“Trust in the Lord with all your, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  Isaiah 55:8-9

And a new favorite:

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:38

I don’t know why the corona virus is happening in this time. Maybe it brings us the opportunity to slow down and focus on what is most important or Who is most important. I don’t know how this will all play out. No one on earth does. What I do know is that God is greater than anything we have here on earth. He has everything under control, and He can see the “big picture” that we cannot see.

Spend time in the Bible each day, search your heart, and pray. There is so much power in these gifts. God has given them to us to use as tools in communicating with Him. And when it seems too much to bear please know that the Spirit is there to intercede when you can’t find the words. Take heart, “this too shall pass.”

 

 

“I sought the Lord, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.”  Psalm 34:4

 

“I will also speak of Your testimonies before kings And shall not be ashamed.”  Psalm 119:46

Anonymity vs. Authenticity

I decided a couple of weeks ago to actually start a blog to share my testimony with others. My original intention was to keep it anonymous because I know some of my posts will consist of thoughts and experiences that I don’t often talk about. I was going to hide behind anonymity to “protect the privacy and feelings of my family.”

However, over the past three or four days God has been working on my heart. He has been asking if I am really trying to protect my family or if I am letting fear keep me from moving forward. It is probably a little of the first and a whole lot of the latter.

So, am I going to let my fear appear bigger than God? Or, am I going to remember that God is bigger than my fear? Am I going to step out in faith?

If I continue to let fear keep me from stepping out in faith and obeying, then I have let it become a stumbling block in my life. Writing about my story versus telling it out loud gives me a little more courage to share (as I am sure it does for most other people).  I think this blog will bring a level of honesty and authenticity to my testimony that my shy nature inhibits when speaking to others.

I have no problem sharing what I find when it comes to health and nutrition of the body. The hesitation comes while sharing what I learn, experience, and struggle with regarding faith and the Spirit.

I have shared some things on my personal Facebook page regarding different Bible studies or what I have read in the Bible at certain times, but I often keep it on a more surface level or an uplifting note. Yesterday, a lady told me that she appreciates the Bible notes I post and what they meant to her. She has no idea how much I needed to hear that yesterday; I will continue to blog with hope of reaching so many more people.

 

Smothered Meatballs

 

Meatball Ingredients

3 lbs ground beef

2 eggs

½ tsp salt

½ tsp ground black pepper

½ tsp garlic powder

pinch of thyme

 

Sauce Ingredients

bacon grease (or beef tallow, lard, butter, or ghee)

8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced

1 yellow onion, sliced

1 cup chicken broth (It’s all I had on hand, but I bet beef broth would be better.)

1 cup heavy cream

4 oz cream cheese

salt and pepper to taste

 

  1. Preheat oven 375°F.
  2. Mix all meatball ingredients together in a bowl. (Don’t be afraid to use your hands.)
  3. Form the meat mixture into 1 – 2 inch balls. You can do this the classic way by rolling small amounts between your hands to for the balls, or just use a cookie scoop and a spoon. (The spoon helps pack meat into the scoop and remove excess from the edges.)
  4. Bake meatballs for 35 – 40 minutes on a jelly roll pan or other baking dish with a lip or sides (to catch the drippings). Using a baking rack is also an option here if you want the fat drippings to be separated from the meatballs.
  5. While the meatballs bake, sauté sliced mushrooms and onion in bacon grease to desired tenderness.
  6. Add cream cheese and melt.  Then add in chicken broth and heavy cream.
  7. Salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Serve how you like:

Spoon sauce mixture over meatballs in bowls.

Add meatballs and sauce mixture to casserole dish or large serving bowl and mix together.

Add meatballs and sauce mixture to slow cooker on low/warm setting and stir. This allows to keep the food warm until everyone is ready to eat.

Meandering through Young Adulthood

The other day I started a page for this blog on Facebook. I posted a “Word of the Week” with its definition. The word I chose this week was meander, since I described my blog as the “meanderings of a housewife and stay at home mom.” The following is an account of my meandering or wandering away from my walk with Jesus.

When I was a child, my mom was faithful about taking me to church on Sunday. As I grew up, I got more involved in church events, and accepted and professed my faith in Jesus with baptism at the church we attended. We, my mom and I (my dad never came with us), continued to attend church, and I got involved in the youth program that was offered. It was a fairly normal, middle class upbringing in a church. I am thankful for my mom and all the others in the Church praying for, encouraging, and pouring into my young faith in Jesus.

At some point, in my later high school years, my dedication in my walk with Jesus started to dwindle. My mom and I stopped attending church regularly and started letting Sunday be more of a lazy, family kind of day. (Or a catch up on homework day.) Through the end of high school and throughout my college years I broke vows and commitments I had made during my earlier years of faith. I became a lukewarm Christian. I still believed in Jesus and His sacrifice, but I no longer thought that I needed to surround myself with fellow believers. I am ashamed that I ever let my faith become stagnant.

Fast forward several years…after I had my second child and started working part time, a friend of mine invited me to join a mom’s group at the church she attended.  I enjoyed the time with other women in the same season of life as me.  It provided a nice break from being surrounded by children and housework and allowed me the opportunity to talk to other adults. It also gave my children an opportunity to be around and “socialize” with other children. (I use “socialize” lightly here because children at that young of an age don’t really play with each other, so much as maybe play next to each other.)  As I continued to attend the mom’s group and see the other women walking in faith, I really started to feel the pull to attend church again.

Honestly, I had been telling myself (or more accurately, God was telling me through the Holy Spirit) from the time I had my first child that I needed to start attending church again, but I just didn’t follow through because of one excuse or another. I began attending church regularly again on Sunday after being a part of the mom’s group for a few months. “Who was going to teach my children about Jesus?” “Wasn’t that my responsibility?” Questions like this often plagued my mind.

I know this sounds kind of like the Parable of the Prodigal Son, with the wandering away and coming back home, but I want to draw your attention more towards the people of faith. I am thankful for my mom, the pastors, Sunday school teachers, and fellow believers who showed me the way to Jesus.  I am also very thankful for the women of the mom’s group that did not know their “witness” was part of my return to the Church.

“19 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”

James 5:19-20

We must remember, or keep in mind, as believers in Christ we are always witnessing to those around us (intentionally or unintentionally). Sometimes it is to the people of the world. Sometimes it is to the people in church that you didn’t know were lost.