Friday, October 25, 2013

after his own heart

Happy Friday!  Today I'm linking up with Susannah and Bailey on what it means to be a people after God's own heart. 
Simple Moments Stick
"I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will."
-Acts 13:22b (esv)
 
The Israelites thought that they had it all in King Saul.  He was brave, strong and powerful.  He was everything they thought a king would be, back when they demanded that God give them a king.  He conquered the neighboring Philistines and defeated all of their enemies.  In Israel, Saul was The Man.  I imagine that he was wildly popular amongst his people.  He went from being a small-town boy to Israel's first king - he was the epitome of success in ancient Israel.   
 
"When Saul had taken the kingship over Israel, he fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, against the Ammonites, against Edom, against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines. Wherever he turned he routed them. And he did valiantly and struck the Amalekites and delivered Israel out of the hands of those who plundered them." - 1 Samuel 14:47-48
 
I'm sure it appeared to the Israelites that if anyone was a man after God's own heart, it would have been Saul.  He was clearly a born leader and not afraid of anyone.  And after all, hadn't God hand-picked Saul to be their first king and led him to victory after victory?   

But then Saul did something.  Something which revealed what he truly thought of God and himself.  He was preparing for battle against the Philistines and gathering the Israelite army at Gilgal.  Samuel the Prophet was to join him in seven days, to ask for the Lord's blessing before the battle.  But Samuel was late.  Saul's army was beginning to disburse and he was losing patience.  So instead of trusting God's timing Saul took matters into his own hands and offered up his own (unlawful) sacrifice, ignoring all of the rules the Lord set forth in the OT for offering of sacrifices.  In Saul's mind, the sacrifice was merely an item to check off the list before he brought glory to himself in victory of battle.

You see, Saul didn't think that he truly needed God.  He treated the sacrifice as a just a mandatory ritual instead of a holy communion with the One who had the power to bless him or destroy him.

"And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the Lord your God, with which he commanded you. For then the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”  - 1 Samuel 13:13-14

So God replaced Saul with David, the "man after God's own heart."  How was David different from Saul?  He wasn't perfect.  In fact, he was quite imperfect.  We all know the story of David and Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11), for example - how David slept with Bathsheba and then had her husband killed so that David could marry her.  Not exactly a classy move.  David was most definitely human and most definitely flawed.

But here's the thing - David truly loved God.  Almost the entire book of Psalms is filled with songs of David to his Lord.  In those psalms, David bared his heart before God.  In some, he is filled to the brim with pure joy and adoration.  In others, he cries out in desperation for the help of the Lord.  In others, he laments a feeling of separation from God due to his sinful ways.  In even others, he marvels at God's unfailing love and faithfulness, which support him regardless of how many times he messes up. 

David knew with absolute certainty that he truly needed God, all the time.  If David sinned, he knew he needed God.  If he was going into battle, he knew he wouldn't be victorious without God.  If he was being hunted down by Saul to be killed (which happened a lot), he knew only the Lord would save him.  If he was celebrating, he knew the celebration wasn't complete without sharing his joy with his God. 

"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
forever."
Psalm 23:6 (esv)

David brought God into every corner and crevice of his life - which is what God truly seeks from us.  God wants to be in communion with us and for us to draw closer to Him... because He always longs to be close to us.  I think that David was a man after God's own heart because he heard that deep longing in the heart of the Lord.  And because David listened (albeit not always perfectly), the Lord was able to use him to build an empire centered in Jerusalem, the glorious City of David.  And God gave him the most honored blessing of all: David's bloodline would eventually lead to the birth of Jesus the Christ who make a perfect reconciliation the Lord to his people ("Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham" - Matthew 1:1).  Wow.  Because David listened, God really used him - in incredible ways.

To be a (wo)man after God's own heart, I think we can learn best by looking to David's example.  Sure, we will never be perfect.  Like both Saul and David, we are bound to make mistakes and to sin.  But we each have a decision to make - will we choose to truly rely upon God with our lives, in good times and in bad, or will we try to take control and manipulate circumstances the way we think is best for each of us?  The latter will surely lead to our own defeat, like Saul.  The former can only bring us closer to the Lord and allow Him to use us in powerful, glorifying ways that we can't even imagine.  Through (wo)men after God's own heart, the Lord can do incredible things.
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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

monday mornings

If you asked me to pick a highlight from this past weekend, I have many to choose from:
  • Attending our last wedding of this season and catching up with old law school friends
  • Finally painting the guest bathroom a beautiful blue from a boring beige
  • Putting up new curtains in the living room that I've been dreaming about for months
  • Prepping the house for the arrival of my mom, grandma and aunt to stay with us
  • Staying up too late to watch an incredible Colts win against the Broncos (and a touching tribute to Peyton, who will always be a Colt to the city of Indianapolis)
  • The crisp and cool arrival of fall
But there's one moment that outdid them all.  That was on Monday morning, when my sleepy-eyed husband poked his head in the bathroom while I was curling my hair and said,

"I love you with all my heart, and with all my heart I love you."

So simple, so sweet.  The perfect way to start the new week.  We've been through a lot in this little marriage of ours, but by God's grace each day gets better and better.  May I never forget that love is in the little things, like Monday mornings.


Friday, October 18, 2013

walk to end alzheimer's

This past Sunday, I had the privilege of increasing awareness for a cause that is very close to my heart: finding a cure for Alzheimer's.  You see, Alzheimer's runs in my family. I have several relatives who bravely battled this disease. My grandfather (Pops) - for whom this blog is named and inspired - passed away last June after bravely enduring Aphasia and Alzheimer's.   Steve and I were married on June 16, 2012 - Pops wasn't able to travel to Texas for the wedding but I know he was there in spirit. He passed away two days later. I still miss him, every day. 
Every year, my firm participates in a fundraising campaign for the Walk to End Alzheimer's, sponsored by the Alzhimer's Association.  Last year I was out of town during the event, so I wasn't able to participate.  I was thrilled to learn that we would be in town this year, though, and jumped at the opportunity to get involved.  After a flurry of fundraising (and overwhelming generosity from my family and friends), the day of the Walk had arrived. 
The day was perfect. There was not a cloud in the sky as 3,000 walkers gathered in downtown Indy with flowers and t-shirts in honor of loved ones.  There was so much color and sunshine - Pops would have loved it.  I couldn't imagine a more perfect way to honor Pops on the most beautiful day in October.  
If you would like to support the Alzheimer's Association in their efforts to find a cure for this disease, which is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., you can do so here


chicken enchilada chili

I'm not a great cook.  It's not that I don't enjoy cooking, but by the time I get home from work in the evening, it's usually too late to begin prepping an extravagant meal for us.  I'm also pretty simple when it comes to food, so I just haven't really developed any serious cooking skills.  I'd like to become a better cook, though, and have decided to try to expand my cooking repertoire.  In order to keep track of what works (and what doesn't), I'll be posting some recipes here.  Feel free to try them out yourself!  If I can make them, so can you.  I promise.

So without further ado - I made a surprisingly easy chicken enchilada chili in my crockpot for small group this week.  This receipe comes from that lovely lady, Ms. Betty Crocker, and my slightly-modified version was a huge hit at small group.  I also reheated a small amount for lunch today and found that it reheats very well. 
 
Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Chili (serves 6)
What you need:
  • 1 1/4 lb chicken thighs (recipe calls for boneless, skinless but I didn't have those on hand.  If yours have bones, it's very easy to shred the meat off the bones once you're done cooking)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1 medium yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium green pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium red pepper, chopped
  • 2 cans (14.5oz each) stewed tomatoes with garlic and onion, undrained
  • 2 cans (15oz each) chili beans in sauce, undrained
  • 1 can (10oz) enchilada sauce
  • 1 can (10oz) hot enchilada sauce
What to do:
  • Spray 4- to 5-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Mix all ingredients except sour cream and cilantro in cooker.
  • Cover and cook on Low heat setting 7 to 8 hours.  (I doubled the recipe and cooked for 10 hrs)
  • Stir mixture to break up chicken.
  • Top each serving with sour cream and Mexican cheese
Happy cooking!

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

truth

"This God - his way is perfect;
the word of the Lord proves true;
he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him...
You have given me the shield of your salvation,
and your right hand supported me,
and your gentleness made me great."
-Psalm 18:30,35 (esv)

Monday, October 14, 2013

danville

This past weekend was great.  On Saturday, my dear friend Larissa and I headed out to my hometown for some classic "fall" activities - pumpkin patch picking, apple cider tasting, and corn maze wandering at Beasley's Orchard.  When we arrived, we were pleasantly surprised to learn that the orchard was in the middle of celebrating its Heartland Apple Festival, which meant food and activities galore! 
We began our festival tour with some samples from a local winery, which had the most unusual flavored wines.  I enjoyed their Christmas wine, while Larissa's favorite was the Thanksgiving-themed cranberry wine. 
Next up was the General Store.  There were so many pumpkins on display out front that we had to resist the urge to swoop several up then and there.  We waited to get our own pumpkins from the pumpkin patch instead... and our patience definitely paid off.  More on that later. 
It wouldn't be a General Store without some delicious homemade apple cider.
 
Beasley's makes its own jams and jellies in tons of flavors.  My favorite is the Apple Butter, which is dangerously delicious. 
 
Next stop: a hayride to the pumpkin patch!
The pumpkin patch was huge with so many pretty pumpkins to choose from.  Larissa got straight to work picking her pumpkin straight off the vine. 
Success!
We wound up taking home these three little beauties. 
 After a quick break for 50 cent bottled waters (yes, they only cost 50 cents!!), it was time for the infamous corn maze.  The corn maze at Beasley's changes every year, and this year's theme was a hot dog.  We had ten clues to help us get through the maze and made no only a few wrong turns.  All in all, we made it out alive after about 45 minutes.
 
Isn't this lady just gorgeous?  It was her first (non-haunted) corn maze experience and she manuevered it like a pro!
 We worked up quite an appetite after the corn maze, so after a few final purchases at the General Store (including caramel apples, yum) we headed into downtown Danville for lunch at this gem. 
The Mayberry Cafe is Danville's crowning glory and has been around since before I was born.  Hoosiers travel from far and wide to eat there.  It has an Andy Griffith theme (of course), and was a must for our excursion.   
 
We devoured some delicious cheeseburgers and snacked on Mayberry's famous cinnamon butter with bread, while all the meanwhile episodes of the Andy Griffith Show played in the background.  Being in that restaurant and walking around the downtown square really brought me back to my childhood.  It was really special for me to share my sweet hometown with such a beloved friend.  And I think she enjoyed seeing how small-town Hoosiers like to celebrate fall-time.
 Danville, you were wonderful (as always).  Until next time!
 

 

Friday, October 11, 2013

the chili-serving miracle of 2013

It's Friday!  If you are new to my blog, welcome!  Please feel free to stick around for a while and check out a little more about me here.  I don't know about you, but I can't believe we're almost halfway through October already.  I'm linking up with Lauren for five silver linings from this week:

1.  I'm working my way through my Fall To-Do's and am going to cross one off of the list this weekend - visiting an apple orchard and pumpkin patch with a good friend.  We're going to head out to my hometown and hopefully will find some apple cider while we're there - another one to cross of my list!

2.  I'm still on a high from our trip to Wheaton for the hubby's class reunion (you can read about it here).
 3.  This little pup was so worn out from her weekend at the boarding kennel.  She loves it there and always comes home exhausted from playing.  So much for feeling guilty about leaving the dog behind!
4.  Our small group spent yesterday evening serving a potato bar to a local inner-city high school football team.  I was in charge of serving chili and somehow managed to not spill it all over myself - which is a miracle, let me tell you.  It was a blast! 
5.  Speaking of my small group, after the Chili-Serving Miracle of 2013 we all went out for dinner and stuffed our faces with pizza.  YUM.  I am so thankful to have such great friends. 
 
Have a great weekend, and thanks for stopping by!
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Thursday, October 10, 2013

weekend in wheaton

Steve and I headed up to Chicago this past weekend to attend his 5-year class reunion at Wheaton College.  We left Indy after work on Friday and spent the night at Gannie's house (really enjoyed catching up with her and my aunt!) before leaving for Wheaton the next morning.  We arrived on campus mid-morning and checked in at the student center for a full day of Wheaton Homecoming festivities!  I was the delegated photographer for the weekend, so sorry in advance for the photo dump :)
We made a quick stop at the campus bookstore, where Steve was pleased/perplexed to find that Perry Mastadon, a Wheaton College resident, seems to have become the university's new mascot.  I think he's cute.
After a short walk around campus, we were off to the chapel!  Edman Chapel is perhaps the most beautiful building on campus where students attend services three times a week.  It is huge and the entire student population can fit inside. 
We took the seats of two Wheaton students, which I was initially concerned about - but Steve assured me that those kids would consider themselves lucky for a free pass from chapel to study. Sure enough, right after we sat down, a student came up and bashfully asked if I would mind moving over a seat to take his spot so he could cram for an exam. I obliged, and no longer felt guilty for stealing someone's seat :) plus, we had a great view!
The chapel service was amazing. We sang a couple of worship songs to begin the service and I was nearly moved to tears when the first verse began... everyone was singing! That's 2,000+ voices, with harmony, praising the Lord three days a week like that. Needless to say, I was incredibly envious of Steve's college experience at that moment.
After chapel, we had lunch with Steve's pre-law professor in the campus servery (which was delicious, by the way) and grabbed some ice cream!  Mine was pumpkin-pie flavored.  SO. GOOD.  I may or may not have gone back the next day and ordered the exact same flavor...
We stopped by the Wheaton College archives, which included this sweet letter from Mother Theresa.  I love the sweet short poem on the second page.
We also found a fun game of Wheatonopoly - complete with Hell instead of Jail and crossing the Jordan River instead of passing Go.  Very clever.
Next up was the campus tour!  We trekked alllllll over campus.  The architecture was beautiful.
 We met up with some friends and Steve's old professors later in the afternoon for a cookout... 
 
 
...caught a star gazing session from the roof of the school's new science building... 
...and wrapped up the evening with the most delicious milkshakes of all time.
On Saturday, we caught up with some of Steve's old classmates at a cookout before the Homecoming game.  So much orange and blue! 
Then it was off to the football game!  (I couldn't get over how cute Perry Mastadon's mascot costume was.  I felt sorry for the poor kids inside that costume though - it was 80+ degrees outside and very humid!)
 After a thunderstorm interrupted the game, we took a tour of Steve's old dorm with our friends Charlie and Amanda...
...and headed over to the "official" Class of '08 Reunion.  It was great to see Steve catching up with some old friends and for me to meet people who were a big part of his college experience - they are all great!
Of course, it wouldn't be a trip to (the suburbs of) Chicago without some deep dish pizza.  We went to Gino's East and stuffed our faces.  We were exhausted from the long day, but nothing would stop us from devouring that pizza.  It was delicious.
Random aside - if I ever ask Steve to take a picture of me, he is guaranteed to take at least 20.  His favorites are the random awkward ones where I make weird faces.  He took this...interesting collage below and declared the bottom right to be one of his favorite pictures of all time.  I don't get it.  But for your viewing pleasure, here is happens when I just want one little picture of me smiling and holding a piece of pizza.  Oh well!
On Sunday morning, we caught the early service at Steve's old church.  Isn't that pipe organ gorgeous?  
After church, we had a delicious breakfast with Steve's old roommates (+ Amanda).  They are a great group and breakfast with them was the perfect way to wrap up our trip.
 
 I'm glad to have a connection to Wheaton College through Steve.  It is a special place and affiliated with so many wonderful people.  We had a great weekend and I can't wait to go back again sometime soon. 

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