Friday, July 29, 2011

Lessons in the Desert

For today's Food for Thought Friday let's take a look at Exodus 15:22-27.

Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days into the wilderness and found no water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter; therefore it was named Marah. So the people grumbled at Moses, saying, "What shall we drink?"

Then he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree; and he threw it into the waters, and the waters became sweet.

There He made for them a statute and regulation, and there He tested them. And He said, "If you will give earnest heed to the voice of the Lord your God, and do what is right in His sight, and give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians; for I, the Lord, am your healer.

They came to Elim where there were twelve springs of water and seventy date palms, and they camped beside the waters.

Sometimes God leads us into what looks like hopeless circumstances that come with bitter consequences (like a budget deal in Congress). What choice do we make? Do we, like the Israelites, grumble in despair or do we choose to trust? We must keep our focus on the fact that He has led us this far. Let's dissect these verses and see what we can learn from the Israelites' journey to help us along on ours.

We'll start with verse 22. God was leading His people in victory. If you look back in the previous chapter of Exodus you will see it is a song of praise about their miraculous deliverance from the Egyptians and from their life of slavery.

What is God's first act after parting the Red Sea and defeating the Egyptian army? He leads them straight from triumph to testing. We find in verse 23 that they first experience after amazing victory was literally bitter disappointment.

Why would God do that? Why wouldn't He use their enthusiastic adrenaline to conquer those waiting territories? The answer is that God is not so concerned about getting ahead as He is about getting to the heart. They had already conquered their enemies on the outside, it was time to confront the enemy within.

God leads us into our own desert of Shur so we can be sure to understand that He alone is the one who saves and sustains us. The Israelites have just witnessed God's miraculous provision--they've had a cloud by day and fire by night to guide them, the sea just washed away their enemies--so what is their response to their first obstacle? They grumbled. In their favor, at least they grumbled and waited.

Too often we come to a place of testing and we find the water is bitter. We are supposed to wait for God to provide. Instead we simply grit our teeth and pour ourselves a big glass and then wonder why we are left feeling bitter. So many of the situations we feel bitter about are ones God never intended for us to end up in!

Did you wait for His deliverance or did you work through it in your own power? Sometimes He'll lead us to the edge of a precipice in order to show us His ability to make a new way and lead us to greater heights. All too often we reach that place and jump head first off the cliff and then complain when we're lying broken and bleeding in the dark valley. Grumbling isn't good, but neither is going our own way.

What was the response to grumbling? Verse 25 tells us that Moses cried out to God and God pointed out the provision He had already made for their problem. Notice what He used to clear up the water--a tree. A tree takes years to grow. There is no telling how many years beforehand God had put that very tree in its place in anticipation of that day with the Israelites. He wasn't leading them on some wild goose chase in the desert just to see how much they could take. He had specific places, specific purposes and specific provisions. And what does it say in verse 25? The waters became sweet. He didn't just provide the necessities, He gave a treat.

We learn at the end of verse 25 and into verse 26 that God had led them there, not to be unkind or uninvolved, but to give them an object lesson about who He is. He was explaining in tangible terms what He wanted from them (listening to Him, heeding His commands, trusting Him to provide), what He would do for them in return (put none of the diseases on them, make a way for them) and revealing a part of His character to them (healer).

He provided a sweet rescue from a bitter experience. Then He led them on to a sweet reward. Verse 27 reveals that He led them to a new place filled with water and fruit and a place for them to rest.

Want to know something ironic? Elim is only seven miles from Marah. Elim was God's destination all along. The people stopped short of God's intention by seven miles, but in His mercy and foresight God provided for their physical and spiritual needs.

How often do we stop short at the first thing we come to when He is really asking us to hold on for a few more miles? We sit and grumble over the bitterness when we could go on and experience the sweet.

God will lead us by some bitter waters. But they are never our destinations! We are merely meant to pass by and learn from them on our way to our reward.

Some of us have come to those waters, drank from them and made our homes there. We've been left bitter from it in the desert of our souls, parched and short of where God intended us to be. We cannot undo our choices but we can change our responses.

It is never too late to let God turn the bitter to sweet.

It is never too late to pack up and move on down the road.

After all, it's only seven miles.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


I picked up these cherries at the store the other day. We've been eating them plain but last night I got a hankering to try something different. I'm dieting and was wanting a little something sweet so I melted a little butter in a saucepan (about 1 teaspoon) and added 1 cup of pitted cherries, about 2 teaspoons of Splenda brown sugar and a pinch of salt. I cooked it just long enough to warm the cherries and make a glaze.

It turned out pretty well, just enough sweet to calm the craving. But the thing that I thought would be best--eat it on oatmeal. Tomorrow I'm going to make it again and add it to a bowl of oatmeal. Cherry Oatmeal Deluxe. Yum.

It'd also be good with plain yogurt and topped with granola.

Thought I'd share the idea with you all. I'm linking up with Rednesday since Sue does love cherries. =)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

DC Visit...We Didn't Catch a Glimpse of Compromise

A few pictures from our day in Washington.

Riley took this of the Washington Monument.

Checking at the fossils at the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum.

Now those are some big Jaws. How would you like to go fishing and catch that?

Up close and personal. Meredith takes a look at some nature photography on display.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Ride in the Country

These are some of the pictures I took as we travelled the back roads

of Pennsylvania in Amish country.

My dream house!

A heron wading in a stream.

This is a farm across from an Amish store I like to go to on our trips.

And here's one in Maryland. The Brick Meeting House in Calvert, Maryland.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Woulda, Shoulda

This is the blog post I had planned to use last week while I was gone. Alas, I couldn't get it to work while I was away. Me and my blogging skills. So here it is anyway.

This was my thought at the beginning of vacation.

Can you tell I was a little tired of being stuck inside with sick kids all summer?

I got these great pics from this book, 'Retro Housewife', that I found at our library's backdoor book sale. Only 50 cents. It's chock full of great vintage pictures from old advertisements.

I'm linking with our friends for Rednesday at

Blueberry Picking

While on riding around one day on vacation we spied a sign for u-pick blueberries.

Blueberries are Meredith's favorite food.

It was a gorgeous farm with rolling land full of blueberries, a lane that led to a beautiful old farmhouse with a pond full of geese and then on to a peach orchard. It was a dream spot.

This is looking up the hill at one of the old barns.

She's in blueberry heaven.

One of her favorite books is even 'Blueberries for Sal'.

Even her brothers, who aren't the greatest fans of blueberries, decided they liked them.

Be sure to check out the recipe pages on the blog to find my Blueberry Breakfast Bake recipe!

Monday, July 18, 2011


Home again from our vacation. I didn't take a whole lot of pictures but I do have a few to share with y'all. I'll start those tomorrow. Today I'm still busy unpacking, the camera will have to wait. I figured I would slow down long enough to share what I'm cooking.

Monday--Lemon & Garlic Chicken, creamed corn, green beans, rolls, Grammie's pickels
Tuesday--Stuffed Peppers, Mom Moms Fruit Salad, rolls
Wednesday--Bacon, eggs, waffles
Thursday--Grilled steaks, baked potatoes, sliced tomatoes
Friday--Chicken Salad, chips, fresh fruit
Saturday--homemade pizzza

See ya tomorrow!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Tea Party for Two

Meredith's "bestest friend in the world" Kate came for a visit this week. Meredith had just finished a book from the library called 'Tea Party for Two' and thought it would be fun to have one of her own. There was a picnic basket, pink cloth, peanut butter and honey sandwiches because they're Kate's favorite, grapes, crackers and cupcakes. There was no tea at the tea party, just like in the book. They chose apple juice.

Here are the ladies under a shady tree enjoying their cupcakes--pink sprinkles of course.

Oh darling, they're so divine!

Happy Pink Saturday. May it be as sweet as a cupcake. May you find a shady spot and enjoy the company of a good friend. Visit some of your blogging friends at

Food for Thought--Attitude is Everything

I seem to be camped in Genesis for part of my quiet time each day. I decided to go back to the beginning and study it piece by piece. It's been a little slow going which is good sometimes. I thought I'd share a few ideas from one of my days ruminations.

Genesis 4:1-7

Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, "With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man." Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.

Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry and his face was downcast.

Then the Lord said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."

The willingness of our offering determines our relationship. Whether it's our tithe, our time, our family or the fruit of our hands--our attitude toward it in relation to God determines the relationship we can have with Him.

(Now I'm not talking salvation, no offering earns that. It is freely given. Ephesians 2:8-9 plainly tells us, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast.") I'm not talking about an offering in order to have a relationship, I'm talking about the attitude of our offering determining the outcome of our relationship.

If I'm busy looking out for me, me, me I can't look up and see Him. If I look to Him first, He will look with favor on me. Cain brought some of what he had when he got around to it. Abel brought the best portion of the firstborn.

What really interested me the most in this passage was the back and forth between God and Cain. The unrighteous deny God His right (afterall, God provided Cain with the life, the talent and the resources, why shouldn't he say thank you with an offering?) and then get angry when He doesn't give them the same blessings the believer receives. Isn't that just the way? People want to ignore God or deny that He even exists but the second they think He did them wrong they want to get angry with Him.

Even then, God is concerned with our attitude. He faithfully instructs those who are doing wrong and warns them of the consequences of their actions. It wasn't a matter of Abel was good and God loved hime and Cain was bad and God didn't love him. God loved them both. God wanted the best from both, but more importantly FOR both. He sees where Cain is headed and He tries to redirect him.

One more interesting thing to point out before we go. Do you see how God starts off his conversation with Cain? It's with a question and not an accusation. That's what He did with Adam in Eden after he'd sinned and it was the method of choice throughout Jesus' ministry.

Maybe I ought to be utilizing it a little (or a lot) more in my conversations as a parent, a spouse and a friend.

How is your attitude for the offering? Or your reaction to God's attitude to you?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Kid-Friendly Recipe

I made a recipe this week that came from an advertisement for Campbell's Soup. With a couple of modifications it was a big hit with everyone, especially the kids. I thought y'all might like it too.

Creamy Mexican Skillet

1 lb. ground beef
1 can (10 3/4 oz.) Campbell's Tomato Soup
1/2 c. salsa
1/2 c. water
6 flour tortillas (6"), cut into 1" pieces
1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 c. sour cream
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin powder

I didn't have any tomato soup so I used a 15 oz. can of tomato sauce and omitted the water. Brown ground beef; drain. Stir in soup (or sauce), salsa, water, tortilla pieces, sour cream, chili powder, and cumin powder. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low and cook 5 minutes. Stir and top with cheese. Let cheese melt. Serves 4-6.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Red, White, Blue and Overalls Too

Here's my Hoosier all decked out for the Fourth of July.

A close-up of my pie rack that my neighbor painted for me.

My old flag painted on wood that I found at a garage sale.

Our dessert for the 4th...Star-Spangled Fruit Tart.

And what could be more American than a little boy in overalls? That's my favorite picture of my youngest son when he was two.

I'm connecting with the others over at Rednesday, even if I am running a little late. That same little fella (now not so little) got a good report from the doctor today. Maybe we'll finally get to celebrate a little summer.