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What I’m Into Right Now

Listening: I recently discovered The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey and I’m really loving it. I went back through the archives and am catching up on her various interviews with Shannan Martin, Tasha Morrison, Shauna Niequist, Trillia Newbell, Jessica Turner, Gloria Furman, Jen Wilkin, and Jen Hatmaker to just name a few.

Also, just finished listening to The Orphan Train on audiobook. It was okay but not amazing. I’m moving on to The Light Between Oceans as my audiobook pick. Should I get my tissues out now? I’ve heard it’s a gut wrencher.

Watching: Broadchurch: Series I. If you like British mystery and crime, this is for you. Even if you don’t, try it anyway. This is one of the best series I’ve ever seen. It’s gut-wrenching, humorous at times, raw, riveting, and smart. The story, acting, and cinematography (ah, I geeked out the the cinematography) is superb. When it ended it felt as satisfying as a good novel. It follows a family, a town, and two detectives as they seek to discover the murderer of a 11-year-old boy. The premise is sad but it has wonderful redemption moments too. I won’t say if we watched the last three episodes all in one night. Ahem.

Reading: I got Green Dolphin Country for Christmas. I’d wanted to read it for years, being an Elizabeth Goudge fan but it was out of print for a while, I believe. But the size put me off for a while (it’s 767 pages). I decided summer was the perfect time to delve into it. As always, the writing is exquisite, that old-fashioned quality of character development and description I love so much.

Eating: We are loving Spaghetti alla Carbonara (so easy) and now that it’s zucchini season, we are eating it in many forms like Zucchini Cakes and Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats.

Drinking: Lots of cold brew iced coffee. Like, everyday.

Exercising: I’m getting back into my exercise routine with the help of Tracy Anderson’s Precision Toning. With 15 minute segments I can easily fit it into my day and get a real good workout too, either doing one segment or combining them for longer sessions.

What are you into right now?

Briana - July 21, 2015 - 10:22 am

I love reading what you’re into right now. I always get great suggestions on what to read and watch from you. We tried a new British murder mystery series, Bletchley Circle—a really bad move on my part. We will not be continuing with it. Way too assaulting to my sensitive conscious and mind that gives up no images ever. Ugh. So, with that said, do you think I could handle the British murder mystery you mentioned?

amy - July 26, 2015 - 7:03 pm

The Light Between Oceans: I seem to recall being frustrated with the characters’ choices being unbelievable. Not that I didn’t believe that people *could* think and act like they did…but that the author didn’t set me up adequately TO believe that THESE characters operated out of the motives and made the choices that they did. Compelling story, though, for sure, and hard to think through. I didn’t really even know how I *wanted* it to end.

Listening: Not much of anything podcast- or book-wise, strangely. I really like Christy Nockels’ new worship album.

Watching: All ten seasons of Friends…I was hooked on that show in junior high/high school, but never saw the last couple of seasons and got all nostalgic for it a few months ago. So I’ve been blowing through scores of episodes while I work out, do dishes, etc.

Reading: Haven’t been doing as much of this OR listening because of the above. EEK. Almost done though! Sara Hagerty’s memoir Every Bitter Thing is Sweet is really resonating deeply with me. (Do you follow her on IG?)

Eating: Tomatoes in/on everything since they’re finally in season :) And some caramel macchiato cookies I made yesterday. Plus peach muffins–did I mention those when you talked about muffins a couple of weeks ago? They are fabulous.

Drinking: Recently discovered I like strawberry in my water along with a splash of lime juice. A little iced coffee, but not as much as in the spring. I’m mad that Dunkin Donuts discontinued their butter pecan syrup after giving me a 99-cent refill cup! 😛

Morning Muffins

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I have a thing for muffins. I just love them. They are the perfect for breakfast paired with yogurt or an afternoon snack. They’re portable and freezable. Fast and easy to make. Since school has been out I’ve been making lots of different kinds to have on hand for snacking, breakfast, and picnics. Here’s some of our favorites.

Limelight Blueberry Muffins

This is a long-time favorite that puts a slight twist on the standard blueberry muffin. Since we have three blueberry bushes, we had lots of blueberries to use up and these are delicious if you like a hint of lime.

Coffee Chocolate Chip Muffins (we usually omit the nuts)

Another favorite, who can resist the combination of chocolate and coffee flavors. Certainly not me!

One-Bowl Carrot Spice Muffins

This is a new family favorite I discovered in my new favorite cookbook, Brown Eggs and Jam JarsThe carrots and cranberries made these muffins super moist and pretty healthy too.

Morning Biscuits with Cheddar, Dill, and Pumpkin Seeds

Although this recipe is referred to as a biscuit there is no rolling and biscuit cutting. You make them in a muffin tin, so I’m including them in this muffin line-up. I love dill and since we have some growing in our herb garden, these are an easy treat to make and easily freezes too!

What is your favorite muffin?

What Does It Mean to Lament?

Imagine this: You’re with your friends from church in a small group setting. You’re sitting around the table, coffee in hand, maybe you’re sharing prayer requests: Doug needs a new job, Aunt Louise has cancer. Then the guy across from you starts to pray, starts to weep. And as he weeps, he sputters out this prayer:

“God, God, save me! I’m in over my head! I’m hoarse from calling for help, bleary-eyed from searching the sky for God. I’ve got more enemies than hairs on my head; sneaks and liars are out to knife me in the back. God, you know every sin I’ve committed; my life’s a wide-open book before you. Don’t let those who look to you in hope be discouraged by what happens to me, dear Lord! Because of you I look like an idiot, I walk around ashamed to show my face!”

This is uncomfortable. Weird. You steal a side-long glance at your spouse. You’re ready to get out of this situation. How are you supposed to respond to such an emotional, sad, and angry prayer?

Believe it or not, this is actually a paraphrase from part of Psalm 69 in The Message. It’s also an example of something that is very common in scripture and that God is very comfortable with hearing. It’s called a lament.

To find out more about what it means to lament, continue reading at Ungrind.org.

(Image Credit: Ungrind.org)

How to Have Fun with Your Kids

“Did you have a fun vacation?” I asked. My girlfriend had just gotten back from a week in the mountains.

She looked at me quizzically.

“Fun?” she questioned. “A relaxing, restorative time, perhaps, but not fun. I don’t really have fun with my kids, do you?” It was an honest question she was asking.

I thought for a minute. “Yes, I do,” I answered. My kids have thrown their share of tantrums and bicker with each other like the next set of siblings, but generally, I do have fun with my kids.

The conversation got me thinking; do most parents have fun with their children? Although my response to my friend’s question is true, I’ve certainly gone through seasons when fun has been harder to come by. We parents teach our kids table manners, interrupt sibling squabbles, pray for them, help them with homework, but do we actually have fun with them? Do we enjoy our kids for who they are, with their own quirks, sense of humor, and interests? And if not, is there a way to intentionally pursue more fun with our kids?

Join me over at For the Family for some ways to cultivate FUN with your kids this summer.

You Are Loved with an Everlasting Love

2015-06-29_001I pulled out the mail from the mailbox and while sifting through it I discovered a plain white postcard addressed to me. I couldn’t believe it! Elisabeth Elliot had written me back! The postcard was typed but she’d signed her name in ink. I couldn’t believe she’d taken the time to write me, a 14-year-old girl! An ordinary trip to the mailbox contained for me something I treasure to this day.

“You are loved with an everlasting love, that’s what the Bible says, and underneath are the everlasting arms,” was the way Elisabeth Elliot opened every Gateway to Joy broadcast. Her show served as the soundtrack to my lunch break during my growing up years. Being homeschooled and eating lunch in our kitchen, I was privy to my mom’s radio listening preferences.

At some point I began actively listening to the broadcast as well. I think it was after I heard the Nate Saint dramatized biography on Stories of Great Christians. I finally put together that the Jim Elliot featured in Nate Saint’s story had been Elisabeth Elliot’s husband, and that story was part of her story too.

This realization triggered interest in finding out more about the five missionaries killed by the Huaroni tribe in Ecuador and how Elisabeth Elliot–wife of one of the slain missionaries–ended up living with them for two years.

I spent my teen years reading anything I could get my hands on written by Elisabeth Elliot: Passion and Purity, A Chance to Die, These Strange Ashes, and The Savage My Kinsmen to name a few. I certainly wasn’t the target audience for her writing. Actually, it was probably strange that I found a hero in Elisabeth Elliot instead of whatever pop star was popular at the time. But I’m glad I did.

She taught me to dream big. To not just settle for a mediocre life that lacks passion for God and other people. And most of all she taught me that God could be trusted. Her life told that story. If Elisabeth Elliot could trust God even after her husband was speared to death, then I could trust God too. She trusted God to help her forgive, love, and serve the tribe who killed her husband. She trusted God while she served as a widowed missionary raising her daughter in the jungle. She trusted God even years later when her second husband was killed by cancer. With each disappointment and tragedy, she kept trusting God. That is her legacy to me.

When I heard of her death I remembered her words that gave such comfort for so many years: “You are loved with an everlasting love, that’s what the Bible says, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

I decided that I wanted to see those words everyday. So I made a 8 x 10 print of them and framed it. And I’m making it available to you too. You can download your own printable version of it here.

To read two excellent tributes to Elisabeth Elliot check out this The New York Times article, Elisabeth Elliot, Tenacious Missionary in Face of Tragedy, Dies at 88 or The Washington Post article by Tsh Oxenreider.

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