Beauty from Ashes

Joy!

Biblical Joy

My depression era parents taught me a “glass half full” philosophy of life. This past fall, the Lord began working on this attitude in me. He brought to mind an old hymn I haven’t heard often, “Joyful, Joyful, I Adore You”. When I began singing, I became so happy and joyful I memorized the words. Just singing this song of joy and praise raises my spirits. The words, music, and some great recordings of it are available on the internet or in all the old hymnals. If you try the song, let me know how it helped you. Remember, oral praise is one way to bring joy. 

The change of attitude the song brought caused me to wonder what the Bible had to say about the JOY of the Lord, so I got out my trusty Strong’s Concordance and started looking up scripture. The things I have found are changing my life. 

I have already benefited so much from just reading them, I feel led to share the verses with everyone who follows my Facebook page. In 2021, I’ll be posting these verses where the Lord tells us about His joy. As you read them, think of HOW they rejoiced and in WHAT circumstances they found the JOY. If you’re interested in finding more joy in your life, the JOY posts start tomorrow, Jan 1, 2021, so don’t miss one! Two of my accounts are full, so if you aren’t already my Facebook friend, go to Kay Whatley Author Page. That one has room for more followers. Let’s make 2021 the year of the Lord’s JOY regardless of our personal circumstances and the pandemic which is stressing everyone. The Lord’s JOY isn’t dependent on any outside circumstances.

Batten down the hatches. Learning the Lord’s JOY will change all our lives regardless of any circumstances & trauma that might await us in 2021!

Christian Meditation

Surprise! I have made an adult coloring page from the most “liked” verse of those I post every day, Daniel 9:18. I love to doodle, and this is the result. While it is freehand and it shows, I learned a lot, and the next one will be better. 

Coloring is a calming, focusing activity and there is no better way to meditate on scripture as the Bible tells us to than to focus on one verse for a period of time. Christian meditation differs from eastern meditation. In eastern meditation, the practitioner empties his mind. In Christian meditation, the disciple concentrates on the verse and thinks about it. This opens the mind to the Holy Spirit and anything He might want to reveal about that scripture. Coloring is a discipline that can facilitate the process when it’s done with a particular Bible verse. 

To print your own copy of this page, go to my website, https://kaywhatleyauthor.com and sign up for my email list. You will receive a printable copy by return email. If you are already on the mailing list, your copy goes out before they are posted on social media and should already be in your inbox. Just click on the coloring page, choose “copy”, put it in your word processor program, and print. If you want more coloring pictures or have any suggestions for improving them, just let me know! Every “like or love” and “Comment” and “share” means more people will see God’s Word and increases the possibility it will reach the person who needs it most. Additionally, every “like” or “comment” will help a verse that’s meaningful to you be the next coloring page. 

I hope you enjoy coloring the page. Don’t forget to let me know if you want more.

I Love Daffodils!

I love beautiful flowers, so spring is my favorite season. I will have to admit, though, that  daffodils are my favorite. They are the first to come up and bloom, and they are a bright light in my life after a long season stuck inside the house.

When their first leaves come up in the bleak cold of December or January, I know warmer weather and other flowers are on the way. However, daffodils are tough and are prepared for the coming bloom. Weathering all the hardships of frost, wind, snow, and sleet, they remain small islands of green, a promise of spring. I have never seen them killed back by harsh weather. I must learn to weather life’s hardships the same way.

Since the bulbs are deep in the soil where growing conditions are better, they are secure in their warm nest. They’re far from to the surface where dangers are. In the same way, I must live in the strength of my core relationship with the Lord. When I stay grounded there, the inevitable storms in my life don’t cause me to crumble. Abiding in my core allows me to stand regardless of what the world throws my way. When I’m there, I may bend in the sleet and snow, but I don’t break and I don’t give up and just quit trying.

Daffodils also live in communities. I’ve never seen a solitary daffodil except the year after planting. They rapidly form another community when transplanted. The intertwined roots give strength and support to the leaves and blooms above the ground as they face the weather’s trials. Although transplanting is hard on them for a few years, they emerge with renewed vigor and multiply faster than if they weren’t uprooted.  I also thrive when I rely on the support of my community.

Because of all these traits, daffodil clumps are practically indestructible. They are still blooming and multiplying long after the people who planted them and the structures they surrounded are gone. It’s the same with us. The things we do in our community—deeds we “plant” in other people—live long after us.

I love daffodils for their beauty and their reminder of what’s important in life! In this time of pandemic and stress, it’s more important than ever to rely on the Lord and one another.

Daffodils

I Love Daffodils!

I love beautiful flowers, so spring is my favorite season. I will have to admit, though, that  daffodils are my favorite. They are the first to come up and bloom, and they are a bright light in my life after a long season stuck inside the house.

When their first leaves come up in the bleak cold of December or January, I know warmer weather and other flowers are on the way. However, daffodils are tough and are prepared for the coming bloom. Weathering all the hardships of frost, wind, snow, and sleet, they remain small islands of green, a promise of spring. I have never seen them killed back by harsh weather. I must learn to weather life’s hardships the same way.

Since the bulbs are deep in the soil where growing conditions are better, they are secure in their warm nest. They’re far from to the surface where dangers are. In the same way, I must live in the strength of my core relationship with the Lord. When I stay grounded there, the inevitable storms in my life don’t cause me to crumble. Abiding in my core allows me to stand regardless of what the world throws my way. When I’m there, I may bend in the sleet and snow, but I don’t break and I don’t give up and just quit trying.

Daffodils also live in communities. I’ve never seen a solitary daffodil except the year after planting. They rapidly form another community when transplanted. The intertwined roots give strength and support to the leaves and blooms above the ground as they face the weather’s trials. Although transplanting is hard on them for a few years, they emerge with renewed vigor and multiply faster than if they weren’t uprooted.  I also thrive when I rely on the support of my community.

Because of all these traits, daffodil clumps are practically indestructible. They are still blooming and multiplying long after the people who planted them and the structures they surrounded are gone. It’s the same with us. The things we do in our community—deeds we “plant” in other people—live long after us.

I love daffodils for their beauty and their reminder of what’s important in life! In this time of pandemic and stress, it’s more important than ever to rely on the Lord and one another.

SURPRISE!

Can Lentil Soup Really Taste This Good?

The first mention of lentil stew in the Bible is in Genesis 25:27-34, especially 34 in the story of Esau selling Jacob his birthright for a bowl of soup! They had to really know how to make soup!

The Lord often provides me with surprise blessings when I’m seeking something else. Many times I’m so focused on what we’re praying for, I don’t pause long enough to give thanks for these extra expressions of love and care He gives.

It was like that a few weeks ago. While researching a children’s chapter book set in first century Israel, the Lord provided the opportunity to go to the Biblical History Center in LaGrange, GA. Since I was having trouble finding enough references to children’s lives in that time period, I saw this as a not to be missed opportunity. That is exactly what it turned out to be, but God had a special bonus surprise I have loved. 

As a part of our tour, we enjoyed a first century seder meal. The whole meal was delicious, but all the ladies on the trip agreed that the lentil soup was the standout dish and the one we all wanted to make at home. However, the gift shop didn’t have a recipe book for sale and we were frustrated by the only blot on our day. Our guide told us a book with that recipe was for sale on the square in LaGrange. The tour took too long for us to stop on the way home to look, but one of our number has a sister living in LaGrange. She got the book for my friend who loaned it to me. You can also be the beneficiaries of that loan.

I had been trying to copy the lentil soup we had that day using recipes on the internet, but even with adding the “secret” ingredient our guide told us about, I wasn’t coming very close. When I saw the recipe in my friend’s book, I saw some vital differences. Most are in the preparation. Now my lentil soup is almost as good as what we had that day and I would like to share it with you because it is healthy, high protein, and inexpensive. It’s easy to make and has become a favorite at our house. Also, blessings should be shared as it’s a way we can show our gratitude. This season, resolve to notice your surprise blessings and give thanks.

If you would like to try this delicious, easy piece of ancient Israel (with a couple of modern modifications), it is now printed below. If you like it, please let me know. Also, if you discover a way to make it even more delicious, let us all know! The more we share, the better the soup will be.

Ancient Lentil Soup Recipe

1 lb. lentils (any color)

3 large carrots

2 large onions

3 bay leaves

3 ribs celery or 2 tsp. celery seeds

3 cloves garlic

1-3 tsp. original Mrs. Dash seasoning* (I use 2)

¼ cup olive oil

chicken stock/broth

1-2 tsp. Salt (to taste)

Cover the lentils in stock or broth and let them soak for about 2 hours in a crock pot. Cut all the vegetables into small pieces and saute in the olive oil until tender. Add vegetables to the lentils. Add more broth or water, depending on how robust you want your soup, until everything is covered. A crock pot will be almost full. Cook on high until the lentils are tender, but still slightly firm (NOT mushy). This will insure the best flavor. It’s still fine mushy, but just a more muted flavor. In a crock pot, this will take 1-2 hours. If you’re in a hurry, it can be cooked on the stove top, but will have to be watched closer. It takes about 30 minutes on the stove top. Taste the lentils occasionally until they are barely cooked and the soup is ready. 

When the lentils are cooked, mash the soup with a potato masher if you’re a purist, or put in a blender or food processor to make a puree. Add chopped parsley and/or celery leaves as a garnish when you want to be fancy. Personally, I prefer to eat it just the way it’s cooked without blending (as you can tell from the picture), but the history center served it to us pureed.

*Mrs. Dash, of course, isn’t an authentic first century blend, but it’s what the cook at the history center used the day we were there (we asked!). We know the first century cooks would have flavored their soup with the spices at hand because the Bible mentions various spices in many places.

*Mrs. Dash, of course, isn’t an authentic first century blend, but it’s what the cook at the history center used the day we were there (we asked!). We know the first century cooks would have flavored their soup with the spices at hand because the Bible mentions various spices in many places.

Living in the Moment

Small Choices

The Bible teaches in many places that all decisions are important, but this was just a normal Sunday morning and that lesson was far from my mind. I’d had my quiet time and breakfast and it was time to get ready for church. I decided I needed to wear an outfit I hadn’t worn yet this winter, so I began to look at the available choices. Because of my food allergies, my waist size changes constantly, so the problem was what would be the most flattering. It took a while to go through the choices because the weather had gotten drastically colder and the warmer options were farther back. I thought I had extra time that morning, so I spent some time reorganizing the clothes by putting the lighter weight ones to the back as I came to them. 

When I realized I’d spent more time than I intended, I started rushing to finish getting ready. Before I was able to do that, though, my husband started calling time on me. This ALWAYS irritates me. After all, I was doing the best I could! On the third reminder, I lost my temper and gave an angry reply. We both went to church in a less than ideal mood. 

Being in the moment is all about the small choices. If I hadn’t decided to sort clothes as I was searching, or  if I had just worn what I wore the week before, the whole thing could have been avoided. Living in the moment is being aware of the small choices as I make them, not repeating a mistake because I’m on “automatic” with all the smaller decisions that led up to my loss of temper. 

For a more consistent walk, I’m going to try to be aware of the small decisions and treat them with the same care I do the big ones. I feel that paying attention to every decision will help me avoid some of the harder, larger ones.

The following are some of the scriptures telling us that EVERY decision counts, even the small ones. Any of them could have reminded me of that and maybe helped. One of them is now on a Post-It note hanging from my closet shelf. 

Matthew 12: 36 “But I tell you, everyone will have to give an account on the day of judgment for every empty word they speak.”

1 Corinthians 3:13, “Their work will be shown for what it is because the Day will bring it to light.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18,  “In everything give thanks: for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Question

This blog will be different because I want your opinion. A friend of mine posted this question in her Facebook group a few weeks ago. I answered it quickly, but as other answers came in, I saw that while I still like mine, there are a whole lot of other intriguing ways to look at it. The Lord has used this to make me think and meditate on subtler shades of meaning than what I thought of off the top of my head.

So, this is what I hope all of you will do. Please answer the question, “What is the difference between knowing and believing?” in the comments with the first answer you think of. Please share it with your friends as the more answers we get, the more interesting it will be. If the Holy Spirit brings anything else to mind later, please feel free to come back and add to your post. Those of you who aren’t on Facebook, please send me an email from the blog site with your answers. I’d love to hear from every one of you! This is also a more reliable method of being sure I see them than Facebook/

As you have time, read what others have written and see if you learn anything. I might use some of them, with your permission, on my “Thoughts for the Day” I post every morning on Facebook. If you haven’t seen these posts, you can “follow” me on Facebook at kaywhatleyauthor and they should pop up on your screen every morning. Thanks for your help and I hope you all gain a lot of insight from the Holy Spirit. I’m looking forward to seeing what you think.

Resolution

Photos for Blog_1

For most of my life, I shunned New Year’s resolutions. Then I learned to do acrostics. I look at them as goals for the year, not resolutions, because I’m too much like Paul in this respect and don’t do what I resolve to do and do what I don’t resolve to do. However, a “goal” doesn’t seem to carry the same onus for me.

I hope this will help some of you find the direction the Lord has for you to go this year.  The acrostic at the top is for 2019, so I”ll tell you how it went. I made progress on nearly all the goals. I try to make the center goal the theme for the year and what I base the others on. I think I have poured out more in several areas. This blog was one of them. The “thoughts for the day” that I post on Facebook were another. 

I made noticeable progress with gratitude, but the creativity and fear could have used more attention! However, pouring out got in the way of my study time and some other daily necessities like taking care of my health. I’m not real sure about the virtues in 2 Peter. They’d be hard for me to tell about myself, but I think I see some progress. On the whole, though, I think that the extra focus stating my goals gave me was very worthwhile. It helps me see wins and errors and evaluate 2019, so I have repeated the process this year.

Photos for Blog_2

These are my goals for 2020. Some are gone, some have been added, and some have been adjusted. The major change is the primary focus. I’m not sure how that will work out, but more balance is necessary to prevent burnout, It will probably take adjustment in some of the secondary goals. That’s OK. They are there as guidelines. 

I hope you’ll do your own acrostic in a quiet time with the Lord. Listen to Him. He’ll point you in the direction He means for you to go in a way that’s much easier to follow than having no direction at all.

HAVE A BLESSED NEW YEAR!