Friday, February 25, 2011

He has not passed you by

"You may fear that the Lord has passed you by, but it is not so: he who counts the stars, and calls them by their names, is in no danger of forgetting his own children. He knows your case as thoroughly as if you were the only creature he ever made, or the only saint he ever loved. Approach him and be at peace."

Spurgeon's Evening selection for February 24

Recipe: Crazy Cake

The story:  During the World War II era, eggs and milk were scarce, probably due to rationing. So, one housewife got creative and discovered a thrifty and tasty recipe. Happy baking!


Courtesy of myrecipes.com
Ingredients:
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups cold water
Directions:
  1. Sift flour, sugar, salt, soda, and cocoa together into a 9 x 13 inch ungreased cake pan. 
  2. Make three wells: Pour oil into one well; vinegar into second, and vanilla into third well. 
  3. Pour cold water over all, and stir well with fork.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 to 40 minutes, or until tooth pick inserted comes out clean. 
  5. Frost with your favorite icing, or powdered sugar. OR slice fruit real pretty and place on top.  
*I've adjusted the recipe a bit.
This is a great cake recipe for those who cannot have dairy (yeehaw!). Also, for the gluten-free folks by substituting almond flour or gluten-free flour, and be mindful to check the ingredients on your vanilla for stray gluten inclusions.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

E turns two!

  Today is my nephew's second birthday! 
Happy birthday to you, sweet Ethan Anthony!

the one year old with his wittle jean jacket on, hehe
  Today is a special day of celebration, not just for Ethan's life, but for God's kindness in preserving it!  
My sister, Kelly, was in a bad car accident when she was five months pregnant with E.  As she was making a routine trip to the store, Kelly passed out at the wheel.  Her car veered into oncoming traffic on a busy road, crashed into a fence, and landed sideways in a ditch.  Kel woke up to the sound of her screaming one-year-old, and looked down at her pregnant tummy that was being crushed by the restricted seat belt.  I remember Kel told me that it was at this moment she thought she had lost her baby.
I got a call from my parents, notifying me of what had happened, and rushed up to see Kelly.  As soon as we arrived at the hospital, we walked into Kel's room and heard the heart beating so loudly on the fetal monitor. It was the sound of little Ethan inside the womb! We all burst into tears, thanking God for preserving the lives of mother, baby, and baby #2.  Months later, on February 24, 2009, Kelly delivered a healthy, beautiful little man.

Grace, grace, God's grace.
talking with Aunty and older brother, Noah

we start 'em early

hilarious

taking the little guys on a walk

almost ready to write his name ;)

edible

the 2 year old birthday boy with his big-man toolbox
 
Happy Birthday, sweet baby E.  God has brought us much JOY through you!

Love, Aunt Bek-Bek


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Never say never?

I seem to always pay attention when someone says the word "never."   A few statements I've heard lately...

"I've never been to Texas."   
-A friendly and neglected northerner

"I'll never try spin class."  
-The newest spin convert, hehe

"I could never eat that!"   
-A lover of dairy, shocked to see a pizza without cheese

These silly statements elicit a variety of responses from me... mainly the born-saleswoman comes out.  "Oh, you've gotta come! It's God's country."  "You have try it! If I can do it, anyone can!"  "You'll love life without dairy! You won't even notice the difference!" *wink*

So, after reading Spurgeon's Morning & Evening on my commute, I got to thinking... When does God say "never"?

I was struck by Spurgeon's application of Deuteronomy 31 & Hebrews 13:

"To put everything in one, there is nothing you can want, there is nothing you can ask for, there is nothing you can need in time or in eternity, there is nothing living, nothing dying, there is nothing in this world, nothing in the next world, there is nothing now, nothing at the resurrection-morning, nothing in heaven which is not contained in this text--
"I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."

I hope to post more of God's "never" statements in the future. Grateful that we can trust his unchanging character and know that those statements are for our good and for His glory.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

"Ditch the workout, join the party!" and other musings from the week

A few little snippets, updates, and random thoughts to share...

Wearing big paper hearts and eating all things French, I felt like Julia Child this Valentine's Day.  Lots of laughs with friends new and old. Grateful!

Every morning there's a happy homeless man who, as soon as he sees me jump off the bus, waves to me vigorously and shouts, "Good morning! How are you?!"  I just love him and want to sit and talk with him. And I wonder if he knows Christ?

First Zumba class ever and I have to say that I was more than happy to "ditch the workout, [and] join the party!"  I do not have a coordinated bone in my body, and I loved it! It's now a weekly date with my little friend Stamp. We had dinner and reflected on God's grace in bringing us both to DC, then a bit of window shopping at Union Station followed.  So grateful for this dear friend.

A girl at work got engaged and when I asked her, she misheard me and saw a ring on my hand and thought I was engaged (which I'm not, silly). It was this very confusing moment where we both realized we had a blonde moment! Had to be there... :)

Each morning this week as I have sat down to read the Word, birds have been chirping their little hearts out and bringing JOY to my heart! Spring is almost here and I am so grateful for a change of season. As I've been praying, asking God to make me a steadfast woman, I've really benefited from time in Isaiah this past week: "You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal" (Isaiah 26:3-4). 

Gluten-free brownies with flax seeds on top. Yes!  I've frozen an entire batch and partake of a little chocolate delight for dessert occasionally. Okay, every day. :)

Reading Pilgrim's Progress for book club this week. Amazed at how it is helping me visualize and learn spiritual truths. I look forward to finishing this book and writing out my thoughts on here.

A friend recommended a Piper sermon to me on hiding God's Word in our hearts. "Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ" (Romans 10, emphasis mine). Piper said, "Where the Word of God is not changing us, it's not abiding [...] abiding means taking root, bearing fruit of faith and holiness." Wow, super good reminder and an awesome challenge to memorize, muse, and meditate on Scripture.


Broke one of my NYRs (New Years Resolution) yesterday...as I raised my hand in Bible Study to get yet another amazing book from my pastor:  It Is Well: Expositions on Substitutionary Atonement. I've been wanting to read this ever since my friend Lauren said she couldn't put it down. Yeehaw!

Been doing a 30 day challenge to choose gratitude as God has continually shed light on my tendencies to complain and grumble, and miss opportunities to glorify Him by being a grateful woman. Here are a few wise words that God has used to chisel away at my prideful, ungrateful, yet being redeemed (hallelujah!) heart:

  • Gratitude is the overflow of a humble heart, just as surely as an ungrateful, complaining spirit flows out of a proud heart.
  • Proud people are wrapped up in themselves. 
  • If people or circumstances don’t please or suit a prideful person, they are prone to whine or become resentful.
  • A humble person thinks much of God and others and little of himself. 
  • A humble person recognizes that anything he has is better than he deserves. 
  • A humble person doesn’t feel anyone owes him anything. 
  • A humble person doesn’t feel entitled to have more, or for life to be easy, or for everyone to love him and treat him well. 
  • A humble person is grateful for the least little kindness that’s extended to him, knowing it’s more than he deserves.

A dear friend got a job after being released from her job last month. I have seen God answer prayer, provide, and protect this dear gal and am praying for many more years of God's grace in her life. I've been so encouraged!

Really enjoy reading out loud and am looking forward to a week-long "stay-cation" on the Hill with a dear friend. We'll be reading Elisabeth Elliot's A Chance To Die, which tells the life story of Amy Carmichael, each evening.

Reflections on love I've thought about this week...
  • "Love is the opener as well as closer of eyes." George MacDonald
  • "What we wish to see we shall see or think we see. Faults are always thick where love is thin." Charles Spurgeon
  • God's love does not change. He is the only One who remains the same, who loves the same, who is consistent, unfading, not varied.  It is an amazing thought and gives light to verses like those found in Psalm 100, "For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations" (v. 5). What a thought!

Happy travels :)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

What is "precious"?

“He is precious.” 

For a thing to be rightly called precious, it should have three qualities: 
  • it should be rare
  • it should have an intrinsic value of its own
  • and it should possess useful and important properties  
All these three things meet in our adorable Lord, and make him precious to discerning minds.
Charles Spurgeon on the preciousness of Christ

Friday, February 11, 2011

"What's not to like?"

This lady is an absolute scream!

Happy birthday to the mom of 6 who still wears side pony tails!

Here's to a dear friend who has taken me into her home and loved me and many others so well. Grateful to Amy for being an example of loving and consistent care for her family, and having a huge heart for Christ. Another unexpected DC blessing :)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I got another Penny

Little did I know that this picture would one day hold so much meaning...


So, all my siblings got married while I was in college, and not long after that the stork began to visit the Tooley family.

They each told me I was going to be an Aunty in different ways.  My oldest brother and his wife called and enthusiastically said, "Guess what!?!"  My sister and brother-in-law told us about their first son on Christmas, opening presents that signified "Grandma," "Grandpa," and "Aunty," of course making us ball our eyes out while screaming for joy. To announce their second child, she sent a picture to me while I was in Europe with her son holding a "big brother" sign. So precious!  And my second brother and his wife, Ashley (who I count a dear friend), have created their own system.

After all the baby announcements in our family in such a short time (now 5 nephews in 3 1/2 years), every time Ashley called me, my stomach would drop and I would have to ask if they were expecting a baby.  So, after months of this drama, she made me a deal.  She decided that she would send or give me a penny every time they were expecting, so I would immediately know and not have to ask every time.

So, I got my first penny in January 2009, when they announced they were expecting their first baby, my fifth nephew, Luke(y).

A few weeks ago, I got another penny :)  I will be an Aunty for the sixth time in September!

A beautiful Psalm of assents, 127:

 1 Unless the LORD builds the house,
   the builders labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
   the guards stand watch in vain.
2 In vain you rise early
   and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
   for he grants sleep to[a] those he loves.
 3 Children are a heritage from the LORD,
   offspring a reward from him.
4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
   are children born in one’s youth.
5 Blessed is the man
   whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
   when they contend with their opponents in court.

The first Penny pointing to the Second :)

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Cup

Recommendation:  CJ Mahaney's talk on Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, right before He paid the penalty of sin and God's just wrath poured out on all sin, on the cross. Please take an hour and listen to this. What an incredible Gospel. What an amazing Saviour.

Highlights from CJ Mahaney's sermon on The Cup:



Jesus prays for US before the cross (John 17).

He gives thanks during the last supper and then leads them in singing a hymn. As he enters this garden, everything changes. He is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.

He asks for the cup to be removed. The Father is silent. If there was an answer, there would not have been the cross.

By the grace of God he left not a drop for those to drink who turn from their sins (repent) and trust (believe) in the Savior for his substitutionary sacrifice for their sins.

"Yet not what I will, but what You will"--  The greatest display of obedience in all of history. His soul was being crucified here before His body would be crucified upon calvary.

My sin necessitated the suffering of the Savior.

Dark hours are inevitable; His dark hour is qualitatively and entirely different from our dark hour.

We don't go through our own Gethsemane. There was only one Gethsemane; and by the grace of God, whatever you are experiencing isn't the same as Gethsemane.

His suffering (is) our comfort and assurance that He understands our darkest hour.

We can be assured of His comfort in our darkest hour.

Hebrews 4

"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are— yet he did not sin."

What should our response be?

"Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."

Hebrews 7

"Therefore he is able to save COMPLETELY those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.(emphasis mine)

When you encounter your darkest hour, you aren't comforted by an angel-- you are comforted by the SON Himself. 
Recognize His love for you in His darkest hour.
Receive His care for you in your darkest hour.
Respond to His counsel in your darkest hour.



If you are having trouble understanding why all of this is SO important and significant, I'd love to chat with you about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I'd also love to recommend a sermon by Greg Gilbert, a dear pastor from my church. Let's keep this discussion going... :)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Never ending love and pardon

"Think of how his grace has been sufficient for thee in all thy troubles--how his blood has been a pardon to thee in all thy sins--how his rod and his staff have comforted thee. When thou hast thus looked back upon the love of the Lord, then let faith survey his love in the future, for remember that Christ's covenant and blood have something more in them than the past. He who has loved thee and pardoned thee, shall never cease to love and pardon." 

Charles Spurgeon

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Small Group

Love. These. Ladies.

Grateful for fellowship and learning from God's Word each week. We're studying 1 Peter and the theme of God's purpose in suffering.  What does God have laid out for us in 2011?  There's much to learn and I'm grateful to do so alongside some pretty amazing women.

A little class...


...and a little sass!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Promises Made; Promises Kept

This song is especially meaningful to me after last summer, which I will definitely write more about later.  But for today, I'm remembering how I first heard it during college when my friends, DeAnna and Dishon, specially requested it at their wedding. I was captivated by the cello accompaniment and the beautiful words... 

A thought to revel in today:  Every promise God has ever made, He has kept(Side note: this is called the Old and New Testament-- how come I am just now learning this?! Amazing.)  Who else can say that?  I certainly can't compare, and I am struck that alongside this truth, I am to understand that He is also wholly good and wholly just.  Simply amazing.  Revel in these words:

Morning by morning I wake up to find
The power and comfort of God’s hand in mine
Season by season I watch Him, amazed
In awe of the mystery of His perfect ways
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He’s always been faithful to me.


I can’t remember a trial or a pain
He did not recycle to bring me gain

I can’t remember one single regret
In serving God only, and trusting His hand
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He’s always been faithful to me.


This is my anthem, this is my song
The theme of the stories I’ve heard for so long
God has been faithful, He will be again
His loving compassion, it knows no end
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He’s always been faithful, He’s always been faithful
He’s always been faithful to me.

He's Always Been Faithful, Sara Groves
Listen to it here.