MOPS: Mothers of Preschoolers

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
  Psalm 127:3 (NKJV)

One of my favorite organizations for moms is called Mothers of Preschoolers.  When I had my first two little blessings, there was a MOPS group for us to attend. There we made friends, were encouraged as moms, and shared fellowship with other moms who were seeking to follow Jesus.

This week I had the joy of sharing My TEA CUPP Prayers at a MOPS group in Big Timber, Montana.  What a lovely bunch of ladies!  I promised them I would post the devotions I shared here.  Just click on the photos below to read the articles. If you would like me to to share at your MOPS or moms group, I hope you will also contact me.  I’d love to share a CUPP of Mom TEA with you!

Here are the devotions we shared with the moms today:

So teach us to number our days,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom.
  Psalm 90:12 (NKJV)

Preschool Day

Whoever offers praise glorifies Me;
And to him who orders his conduct aright
I will show the salvation of God. Psalm 50:23 (NIV)

Saying Thanks at Meals

And The Thanksgiving Chain.

All your children shall be taught by the Lord,
And great shall be the peace of your children. Isaiah 54:13 (NKJV)

Bedtime Prayers

For the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God. John 16:27 (NKJV)

The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing
Zephaniah 3:17 (NKJV)

God loves you!

Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7 (NKJV)

My TEA CUPP Prayers Story

By You I have been upheld from birth;
You are He who took me out of my mother’s womb. My praise shall be continually of You.  Psalm 71:6 (NKJV)

Bonus Devotion:  There is Always a Baby

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.  Acts 20:24 (NIV)

My Running Testimony

Today’s TEA CUPP: Fall is a great time to join a new Bible study or moms group in your area.  These groups usually kick off the new season when school begins. Christian friends will keep you accountable on your walk with Jesus, and love you right where you are.  I encourage you to find a group in your town.  Ask your local church or check out MOPS.

Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011

 

 

 

 

Jello Salads and Cranberries

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever. Psalm 136:1 (NKJV)

It’s time to collect holiday recipes!  This month I’ll be sharing some family favorites with you.  Occasionally my grown children will ask for these when away from home for the holidays, so now they are right where we can find them.

Today I have two favorite Jello salad recipes.  The first came from my husband’s Grandma Fern.  Grandma Fern was a Christian prayer warrior who prayed and fasted every Friday.  I claim God’s promises that He continues to hear Grandma Fern’s prayers for her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Grandma Fern’s Holiday Jello Salad

Ingredients:

1 large box red (strawberry or cherry) Jello
1 large box green (lime for Christmas) OR orange (orange for Thanksgiving) Jello
1 small box yellow lemon Jello
3 oz. cream cheese or dairy free cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayo or Veganaise
1 can crushed pineapple with juice
1 cup mini-marshmallows

Give yourself a day to make this salad.  You will need a 9×13 pan or container.

Heat water to a boil.  Measure 1-1/2 cups boiling water into a large glass measuring cup.  Stir in the red Jello until dissolved.  Add another 1-1/2 cups cold water and stir again.  Pour into the the 9×13 pan.  Cover and put in the fridge to chill.

When the red layer is firm, boil more water.  Measure 1 cup hot water into a large glass measuring cup.  Add the lemon Jello and 1 cup marshmallows.  Stir until marshmallows melt.  Allow to cool for a bit. In another bowl, combine the softened cream cheese and mayo.  Add the crushed pineapple and juice.  Now, carefully add the lemon jello mixture to the cream cheese mixture.  Stir.  Pour it all on top of the chilled red layer.  Cover and chill again.

When the lemon layer is firm, heat water to a boil.  Measure 1-1/2 cups boiling water into a large glass measuring cup.  Stir in the green or orange jello, depending on the holiday.  Add another 1-1/2 cups cold water and stir again.  Pour this final layer over the lemon layer. Cover and put in the fridge to chill. Cut into squares when ready to serve. Happy celebration!

Cranberry Jello Salad

Cranberry Jello Salad is one of my favorite holiday salads, packed full of healthy ingredients like cranberries, apples, nuts and celery.  So hearty and yummy!

Ingredients
2 cups cranberries
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 large box cherry Jello
1 can crushed pineapple with juice
1 cup water
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup unpeeled apples, chopped
1 cup walnuts, chopped

In a medium sauce pan, cook cranberries and 1 cup water until cranberries are soft (about 15 minutes).  Add sugar and bring back to a boil.  Remove pan from heat to a potholder on the counter.  Stir in Jello.  Next, add one more cup water and the can of crushed pineapple. Allow to sit on the counter to cool a bit.  Stir in the celery, apples, and nuts.  Pour the salad into a Jello mold, Bundt pan, or a medium glass bowl and cover.  Chill in the fridge overnight.  Enjoy!

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Finally, the perhaps the easiest yet most appreciated holiday side dish is homemade cranberry sauce.  This recipe is usually on the cranberry package.  But if you can’t find it, I share it here with you…

Ingredients:
1-12 ounce package fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup water
1 cup sugar

Rinse the cranberries in a colander and throw away any bad ones.  Set aside.  In a medium sauce pan, combine the water and sugar.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Stir in the cranberries and bring to a boil again.  Turn down the heat to simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  Pour into a glass dish, cover and chill until serving time. Be blessed!

Who gives food to all flesh,
For His mercy endures forever. Oh, give thanks to the God of heaven!
For His mercy endures forever.  Psalm 136:25-26 (NKJV)

Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

Morning Prayer

Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning,
For in You do I trust;
Cause me to know the way in which I should walk,
For I lift up my soul to You. Psalm 143:8 (NKJV)

Dear Lord,

I am Your servant,

Show me where to walk,

For I have come to You in prayer,

Teach me to do Your will.

May Your gracious Spirit

Lead me forward,

I am Your servant, Lord,

In Jesus Name I pray,

Let Your will be done. Amen.

Today’s TEA CUPP:  So long ago I read Psalm 143 and then wrote this prayer for God’s direction.  You can do it, too. When you need God’s guidance for your next steps, read Psalm 143.  Then pray Psalm 143, asking God to hear your prayer, to answer you speedily, to show you the way to walk, to deliver you from the enemy, to teach you, to lead you, to revive you.  And He will answer.  The King of kings and Lord of lords, the Father or our Savior Jesus Christ, will answer you and guide you on His straight and narrow path.

Teach me to do your will,
    for you are my God.
May your gracious Spirit lead me forward
    on a firm footing.  Psalm 143:10 (NLT)

Seek the Lord while He may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near.  Isaiah 55:6 (NKJV)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.  Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)

(NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation

(NKJV) Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

Prayer Journal How-tos

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints. Ephesians 6:18 (NKJV)

Keeping a prayer journal is a great way to stay focused while you pray, to encourage you that you really did pray, and to look back to see how faithful God has been in carrying you through so many prayer requests.  Just as there are a variety of ways to pray, there are numerous ways to keep a prayer journal.  Today I’d like to show you how I do My TEA CUPP Prayers prayer journal, and soon I hope to give you one along with my book.

For now, start by finding a notebook you know you will use.  I like a spiral notebook that is about the size of my Bible.  The prayer journal and Bible fit nicely together in my book bag.  The spiral binding allows me to open it flat or flip it completely open while I am journaling.  You can find inexpensive notebooks and journals at Walmart or Target or Family Dollar, or you can find a pretty flowery one at an office or gift store.  Whatever inspires you and helps you pray is perfect!

Next, find your pens.  If your favorite color is purple, perhaps you’d like a purple pen!  I use blue Pilot G-2 pens for most of my journaling because of the smooth writing ability.  I always need two or three, because they run out right in the middle of my prayers and I don’t want to have to get up and search the house for another one.  Have extra pens right by your Bible and journal in your quiet time spot.

My quiet time begins with Jesus having the first Word as I read my Bible. I follow the one-year Bible reading plan found in the Our Daily Bread devotional.  I have also used a One Year Bible in the past, which has the Bible divided into daily readings already. I pray,

Open my eyes, that I may see
Wondrous things from Your law.”  Psalm 119:18 (NKJV)

I soak up all He has to tell me and underline my favorite verses.  I label the verses with the letters of the TEA CUPP acronym, so I may use them in my prayer journal.  Then I open my journal and get it ready for my prayers.  I write the date, then going down the page I write T-E-A.  On the next page I write C-U-P.  And on the next page I write another P.

Some Bible reading days have so many verses that it is hard to pick which ones to use.  Other days I don’t have enough verses, so I go back and use verses I underlined  in the previous weeks.  I find a THANKSGIVING verse and write it next to the letter T to thank God for His blessings.  I find an EXALTING verse and write it next to the letter E to exalt and praise my Jesus.  I find an ADMITTING verse and write it next to the letter A to admit my sins and ask Jesus’ forgiveness.

On the second page of my journal, I find a CALLING verse for something God is calling me to do today and write that in my journal next to the letter C.  I find an UNDERSTANDING verse and write it next to the letter U as I try to understand my story a little better.  I find a beautiful PROMISE verse and claim that as I write it next to the letter P.

On the third page, I find a  PETITIONING verse to use to pour my heart out to Jesus in prayer.  I pray all the parts of My TEA CUPP, filling in the extra spaces of my journal with more prayers on each letter.  Then I fill the rest of the PETITIONING page and perhaps another page with all my prayer requests for family and friends and loved ones.

If I am traveling or just had a new baby, I sometimes do just one letter a day in my prayer journal.  But I feel most complete when I have time to do all the parts and talk to Jesus about everything that is on my heart that day.

Today’s TEA CUPP:  I hope today’s devotion helps you as you fine tune your own prayer journal and devotion times with Jesus.  If you need ideas for Bible verses I have oodles for you here.  Someday, you will look back on all these prayers and be praising Jesus for His goodness all over again!

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV)

Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

A Trip to Zion

Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion!
When the Lord brings back the captivity of His people,
Let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad. Psalm 14:7 (NKJV)

Are you looking for a fun family vacation in God’s creation where you will be reminded of God’s Word and promises?  Where there are activities for children of all ages?  Where accessibility is ensured and shuttles deliver you from April to October to your next scenic point?  I have just the place for you, and now is the time to plan your trip!

Last July our family made a trek to Zion National Park in southern Utah to rendezvous with our New Mexico cousins.  And though it was 100 degrees and the crowds were at their peak, we had a wonderful time exploring this unique National Park.

My dear sister-in-law made reservations for us in March, and the closest campsites at that time were an hour away in Cedar City at the KOA.  The hour drive wasn’t so long because of the pretty scenery and time to discuss hiking plans.  The Cedar City KOA had a central picnic area where we could join our cousins for meals, though the KOA itself was better for RVs than for tents.

But when we saw the campsites in Zion National Park, we knew that’s where we would like to stay next time.  For the Park campsites you must make reservations now, because they fill up by December.  The park campsites are convenient to the shuttles, trails, visitor centers, and ranger programs.  You can even take a shuttle back into the town of Springdale for groceries.  Nestled among the trees in their own quiet area, the campsites are the way to experience Zion.  If you still want to be in the Park, but not out in the elements, try the beautiful Zion Lodge.

So, how does Zion National Park remind us more of God’s Word than the other three National Parks in southern Utah (Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, and Arches National Parks), or the Grand Canyon, just two hours away in Arizona?  Though Zion Park gained its title from Mormon pioneers, a Methodist pastor, Frederick Fisher, gets the credit for many of the park’s names.  Pastor Fisher named three peaks after the Biblical Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Running through the Park is the Virgin River, named for the Virgin Mary who gave birth to our Lord Jesus. Another edifice, “The Alter of Sacrifice.” memorializes the Old Testament story of Abraham obediently offering his son Isaac, foretelling God giving His only Son Jesus as a sacrifice for our sins. Rounding out the Biblical illusions are the Great White Throne, Angels’ Landing, and Watchman.

…And I will place salvation in Zion,
For Israel My glory. Isaiah 46:13 (NKJV)

Numerous activities beckon every visitor who enters Zion National Park. From early  morning ranger hikes to late evening campfire programs, to talks and hikes throughout the days.  I asked our six year old son what he liked best about Zion, and he replied, “Soaking my feet in the Virgin River after that super long hike.”  I must add to his list, earning a Junior Ranger Badge, successfully hiking to the top of Observation Point in 100 degree weather, and making it back down, even though we ran out of water! We also took the shuttle to end of the road to visit the River Walk and convinced ourselves we must hike The Narrows on our next visit (this is a hike in the river, so we have to plan our trip for non-flood season and rent special shoes, June and early July might be best).

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Take Jesus on your next vacation or camping trip.  Start your day with a family devotion and prayer, then head out early to make the most of your day with hiking and fun times with your family.  Thank Jesus for His beautiful creation and let each family member say thank you for their favorite part of the day.  Get started here…Plan your trip here!

Sing praises to the Lord, who dwells in Zion! Declare His deeds among the people.  Psalm 9:11 (NKJV)

And I have put My words in your mouth;
I have covered you with the shadow of My hand,
That I may plant the heavens,
Lay the foundations of the earth,
And say to Zion, ‘You are My people.’ ”  Isaiah 51:16 (NKJV)

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

My Fasting TEA CUPP

 “Now, therefore,” says the Lord,
“Turn to Me with all your heart,
With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” Joel 2:12 (NKJV)

No tea, no cup, no plate, no food, no beverage, no water, nothing to nourish this earthly body, only God’s Word to feed my soul and His Living Water to quench my thirst.  This is an Esther fast, where we give up eating and drinking for a time, to pray and focus on Jesus and God’s Word.

When I first started a daily prayer time with Jesus, I didn’t know what fasting was all about.  My church didn’t talk about it, and there weren’t too many resources.  I wondered what the “rules” were.  As it turns out, there are no rules, only examples.  In our Bibles we have the example of Esther who fasted with her maidens for three days to save her people. Esther’s fast happened one time during an extreme crisis. They had no water and no food for three days and nights.  We also have the example of Daniel who gave up rich foods, eating only fruits and vegetables. Daniel’s fast was a way of life, along with praying three times a day.  And, of course, there are Moses, Elijah and Jesus who fasted for 40 days and nights during a time of great trial. If you are just getting started with fasting, I would recommend a one-day juice fast, where you only drink juice, a juice and banana fast is good for nursing moms.  You can work your way up to a full fast when the time is just right.

Some might think fasting is a thing of the past from Bible times, but it is still practiced by many Christians today as they seek God’s will in prayer.  If you are looking for a modern example of fasting, I encourage you to read The Heavenly Man.  This book gives testimony after testimony to fasting and prayer, from friends praying for the persecuted pastor to him praying and fasting himself.  I highly recommend The Heavenly Man.  Order a copy for yourself and share one with a friend. 

For today I give you My Fasting TEA CUPP, Bible verses that highlight fasting and trials. You may pray these verses while you are fasting, or any time you sit down with Jesus for prayer and TEA. Here are conversation starters for you as you pour your heart out to Jesus in prayer:

T for Thanksgiving:
(a verse of thanks as we finish our fast and have our first meal)

And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted.  John 6:11 (NKJV) 

Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Ephesians 5:20 (NKJV)

E for Exalting:
(our suffering during fasting is nothing to compared to the glory of Jesus!)

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Romans 8:18 (NKJV)

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.1 Peter 1:6-7 (NKJV)

(The prayer King Jehoshaphat prayed to exalt the Lord)

O Lord God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You?   2 Chronicles 20:6 (NKJV)

A for Admitting:
(we repent and admit our sins as we fast)

 “Now, therefore,” says the Lord,
“Turn to Me with all your heart,
With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” Joel 2:12 (NKJV)

C for Calling:

For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 1 Peter 2:21 (NKJV)

Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. John 4:34 (NKJV)

But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.  Matthew 9:15 (NKJV)

But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face.  so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.  Matthew 6:17-18 (NKJV)

But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love. 2 Corinthians 6:4-6 (NKJV)

U is for Understanding our story:
(I love it when God sends prayer answers right during our fasting!)

So Cornelius said, “Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing,  Acts 10:30 (NKJV)

I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  Philippians 4:12 (NKJV)

P is for Promises:
(Promises for when we are thirsty and hungry during fasting, and He will revive us!)

Therefore with joy you will draw water
From the wells of salvation.  Isaiah 12:3 (NKJV)

But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’   Matthew 4:4 (NKJV)

You, who have shown me great and severe troubles,
Shall revive me again,
And bring me up again from the depths of the earth.  Psalm 71:20 (NKJV)

P is for Petitioning:

So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”  Mark 9:29 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP: Once you get started on fasting and prayer, you might like to plan a regular day to fast, such as the first day of each month, the first Sunday of each month, or every Wednesday. Or when there is a great trial or event in your life. Write it on your calendar and commit to this time of prayer and fasting with Jesus. Read Isaiah 58 in preparation. Another devotion you may enjoy reading is The Empty Plate.

Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson

Running with Jesus

But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. Acts 20:24 (NKJV)

This one is for you, the lady in whose heart God has put a dream…

On September 9, 2018, with God’s gracious help, I completed half of a goal I’ve had since I was 18 years old, to run a marathon. Over the summer, I signed up, trained, and ran the Bozeman Half Marathon in Bozeman, Montana.  I couldn’t have done it without the help of Jesus, my family cheering, and friends praying.  It was a long road!

When I was 18, it was no trouble for me to go out for a training run of 12 miles.  Our college cross country coach often gave us workouts that included a long run on Sunday afternoons.  And that was the easy day!  My friend Laura wanted me to run a marathon with her, but I hesitated because I was training for 10Ks.  But my 10K training came to a screeching halt in the fall of my sophomore year when my coaches and teammates died in a plane crash while traveling home from a victorious national meet.

I could barely run three miles after that disaster.  The grief made my heart and legs so heavy.  Slowly I started running again, but I also developed an eating disorder until Jesus saved me, so I was never in the such good shape again. Then came the blessing of marriage and children, and praying for more children, and not running so I could get pregnant, and before I knew it I was 52 and still hadn’t run that marathon I’d always wanted to do. So, this year, with God’s help, I set out to accomplish half the task, hoping to do the full marathon next year.  I looked up a free workout at coolrunning.com.

Each training morning, I’d get up super early to have my quiet time with Jesus before heading out on a run.  Then I’d take Jesus with me as I kept praying and singing songs in my head to Him.  When I had tight muscles in July I told friends at church and they must have prayed, because I got better and kept running.  When smoke filled the August skies, I kept running, even though it was probably bad for my health. I’m so thankful that I can still run in my second half-century of life!  As the day of the race drew nearer my stomach started acting up.  I tried to be careful about what I was eating, but it was still a mess the day before the race.

But when the day of the race came, my muscles didn’t hurt and my tummy behaved itself and God gave me the strength to run it!  I planned it so that each mile I sang a different song or Bible verse in my head that followed My TEA CUPP Prayers. I’ve also done this as I’ve driven to doctor appointments and other events. It helps the miles go by and encourages me as I run. Here are the songs I “played” in my head:

Mile 1: T – Psalm 100:4 I will enter His gates with thanksgiving in my heart
Mile 2: T – Give thanks with a grateful heart
Mile 3: E – Revelation 4:11 Thou art worthy, O Lord
Mile 4: E – Psalm 63:3 Thy lovingkindness is better than life
Mile 5: A – Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God
Mile 6: A – I’m forgiven, because You were forsaken
Mile 7: C – Psalm 107:2 Let the redeemed of the Lord say so
Mile 8: C – Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
Mile 9: U – Hebrews 12:1-2  If then we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses..
Mile 10: U – Amazing Grace, my chains are gone
Mile 11: P – I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God
Mile 12: P – I believe in God the Father, I believe in Jesus Christ
Mile 13: Pet – The Lord’s Prayer and The Joy of the Lord is my strength

The day of the race came.  I didn’t sleep very well the night before.  I got up at 4 a.m. and had a banana and peanut butter and Gatorade for my quiet time with Jesus.  Then I stretched and packed up to leave home at 5:45 a.m., taking another banana and Gatorade for the road.  My husband and our three sons came to cheer me on.  We arrived in Bozeman at 6:45 a.m. and found a parking spot near Main Street. We walked to the designated shuttle area and found several school buses already full of runners.  I was hoping for a restroom, but there were none in sight.  I hugged my family good-bye and hopped on a bus, sitting in the front seat next to a lady in purple, my favorite color.

It turned out the lady was from North Carolina, 65 years old, and had just run a half marathon the week before in Jackson, Wyoming. God bless sweet Sarah Anne from North Carolina!  When we arrived at the starting-line, there were two dozen porta-potties awaiting us.  Whew, that was a blessing! There I met other runners older than me who were running a half marathon in every state. They call themselves 50-staters. And I just wanted to finish one race! Woah, talk about keeping me humble!

News came that the full marathon that was to begin at 7 a.m. had been delayed 10 minutes, so they were delaying our 8 a.m. start as well.  The runners tried to calm their jitters by stretching and chatting in the starting-line crowd.  Finally, the gun went off and people began running.  I took off, too, joining the throng.

For some mysterious reason, in all my planning and packing, I had forgotten my wrist watch to time myself.  My goal was to run 10-minute miles.  But now I had no watch to keep track of my pace.  So I just ran.  Occasionally, God would tell me to pass some runners.  In the past, I’ve always let the runners ahead of me stay ahead of me.  But this race I had dedicated to The Morning Center, a ministry that helps women and babies in Memphis, Tennessee and Atlanta, Georgia. Very dear friends had sponsored me by the mile in support of The Morning Center. On the back of my t-shirt I had written, “Running for Moms and Babies and JESUS.”  I thought perhaps God wanted others to read my shirt. He gave me the strength to pass them, so I did.  At one point, a gal in light pink passed me and thanked me for my shirt.  That was pretty cool.

The course was so fantastic, that I don’t think I ever want to run anywhere else. The 13.1 mile route began in the foothills south of Bozeman, passing ranches and beautiful neighborhoods, until we reached Willson Ave. and then Main Street.  Though there were some uphill climbs, it was mostly downhill in elevation, making for a delightful run.  When I grew weary, I remembered what my friend Beth said about God pushing me and I asked Him to keep pushing. When we turned onto the final few blocks on Main Street, my legs were so heavy, but I pressed on.  When I saw my time as I crossed the finish line, I couldn’t believe my eyes.  For I ran it in under two hours, 1 hour and 57 minutes, faster than I ever dreamed, because I didn’t have my watch and I listened when the Lord told me to pass people. Tears filled my eyes as I thanked Jesus and hugged my family. 34 years after God first put the dream in my heart, I finished half a marathon.  I’m still thanking and praising Jesus for helping me run!

Stay tuned until next year to see if I can do the full marathon!

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Did God put a dream in your heart years ago that you would still like to see completed?  My friend, it is never too late.  Pray to Jesus and ask for His help.  Take the first step. Then the second step.  And before you know it, you will have run a marathon!

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)

Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson

Let’s Talk about Calling

 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Romans 11:29 (NKJV)

I remember sitting in the church sanctuary with a group of women.  We had spent the entire weekend together at a church as part of an Emmaus Retreat.  Over the course of the weekend we sang spirit-filled hymns, dug into scripture, cried over testimonies, and prayed in our family groups around the tables.  We shared meals prepared by loving church members and slept on cots in the Sunday school rooms. Now each lady was relating what the weekend had meant to her and what God was calling her to do next.

As each dear sister stood in front of the microphone and shared, I mentally prepared what I would say (as many of us do when we really should be listening!).  Then one sweet gal approached the stage and proclaimed, “I just want to go home and be the best wife and mom I can be.”  All my prepared thoughts were washed away by her sincere calling.  “That’s the call I want!”  I cried, already being the mom of two special young kids.  “Can I please have that calling, too!”

But when my turn came to speak before the understanding faces, I had to share what I had heard Jesus tell me during the weekend.  “I hear Jesus calling me to go to seminary to learn more about Him,” I confessed. But then I went home and asked God if I could have the other mom’s calling.

You know what He showed me? He made me a wife, so I’m obviously called to be a good wife.  He made me a mom, so I’m definitely called to be a loving mom.  But He also has something else He needs me to do.  And so I found a nearby seminary that offered the first course free and took a class on church history.  I loved learning about the Wesley brothers and their mother Susanna who prayed with her apron over her head so she could have quiet time in the midst of her many children.  And as only God can plan it, He also answered my long time prayer for another child and made me a mother again while I was taking this class. He blessed us with our dear son Kevin Jon, reinforcing my calling to be a mom.

And while Kevin was still nursing, God gave me My TEA CUPP Prayers as a way to spend time with Him each morning and be a mom, too. Kevin would wake up at 5 a.m. every morning, my trusty little alarm clock.  As he nursed, I read my Bible.  Soon he was back to sleep and I would tuck him in on the sofa beside me as I wrote in my prayer journal. I continued to take seminary classes at camping conferences where my family also participated, so I didn’t have to be away from our children, eventually receiving certification in camp and retreat ministry.  But I always embraced being a wife and mom, and now I’m a grandma, too!

Romans 11:19 says, “ For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”  I can’t change what God is calling me to do.  He is calling me to invite ladies everywhere to have TEA with Jesus, the King of kings.  He has also stamped upon me “wife,” “mom,” “grandma,” “daughter,” “sister,” “aunt,” “cousin,” “friend,” “beloved.”

Every day as I read my Bible, I ask God what He is calling me to do.  Recent verses He has pointed me to include:

But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. Acts 20:24

who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:4 (NKJV)

Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love. 1 Corinthians 16:13 (NKJV)

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:58 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP:  My dear TEA friend, what is God’s calling for your life?  If you aren’t sure, perhaps ask Jesus each morning, “What will you have me do today?  He will show you bit by bit, how to be a loving wife, mom, neighbor, friend…to pray for a stranger, to bake cookies for a neighbor, to send a card to a loved one, to hug your kids, to honor your husband, to share Jesus…and before you know it, you are living out God’s calling for your life.

I delight to do Your will, O my God,
And Your law is within my heart.  Psalm 40:8 (NKJV)

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 (NKJV)

Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson

 

 

 

 

 

How Big is Your Tea Tin?

Rerunning this favorite article today in honor of the Tumblewood Tea ladies who are hosting a TEA this evening (scroll down for the cookies we are serving :-))…

That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.  Ephesians 3:17-19 (NKJV)

On a sunny March morning, the wind blew me through the door of this charming tea company in Big Timber, Montana.  Smiling faces and an inviting tea showroom beckoned me inside.  My goal was to find the largest tea container for my upcoming article, but I was treated to even more.

Tumblewood Teas founder, Riza Gilpin, graciously ushered me from one tea room to the next. Huge tea bundles from around the world were carefully organized on pallets from floor to ceiling.  Separate storage rooms contained organic teas, with another room for potential allergens such as coconut and almonds.  In the backroom, individual bags of the latest blend were carefully sealed and labeled.  And a bucket of Montana honey was delivered to the back door.

My final stop on the impromptu tour was the showroom where all the latest tea blends can be purchased.  I selected four to give as hostess gifts on an Easter trip to family:  Chico Cherry, Montana Almond Joy, Petticoat Peppermint, and Custer’s Nutty Rooibos. I’m hoping my family will give me a taste, but if not, I can always stop back and see Riza and Laurie and the Tumblewood Tea gals for more.

Beside the front door as I headed out, stood a rack of tea tins from around the world.  Awesome! What a beautiful collection, fitting so well with my devotion, “How big is your tea tin?”  But none was as big as the bundles I witnessed in the storerooms that day.

The wind blew me back to my car.  While I took a sip from my well-loved Tumblewood Teas tumbler, I pondered all I had learned on my short visit.  Did you know green tea’s water should only be 175 degrees, not 212 degrees that comes out of my boiling tea kettle?  If the water is too hot, the leaves wilt, giving you a bitter flavor.

Our lives can be like that, too, bitter because we fall into hot water.  Sometimes it’s our own doing, and other times it comes from outside sources. Regardless of its origin, the bitterness is a result of our fallen world.  Ever since Eve and Adam ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, we’ve needed a Savior to make life sweet again.

I have Good News for you!  There is a God who loves you, who created you, who knows you, who sent His only Son Jesus to die for your sins.  All who believe in Him enjoy the sweet blessing of His forgiveness and comfort for life’s bitter moments.  And there is no tea tin in all the world that can contain His love for you!

Today’s TEA CUPP:  My friend, I invite you today to sit down with Jesus for TEA.  Find a BIBLE and a quiet spot, sip your TEA and read God’s Word, savoring the sweetness.  Then as you pour yourself a second cup, pour out your heart to Jesus in prayer.  He will give you more than all you ask or imagine.

How sweet are Your words to my taste,
Sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Psalm 119:103 (NKJV)

Jennifer Grace lives in Big Timber, Montana, home to the esteemed Tumblewood Teas company.  Her mission is to invite ladies to TEA with the King of kings.  Jennifer Grace’s new book, My TEA CUPP Prayers, is now available in Big Timber at Tumblewood Teas, The Fort, Touch of Sunshine Flowers, and the Coffee Stop.  It’s also available on Amazon.

And here are the Zucchini Cookies we are serving with our tea…

Ingredients:
2 cups brown rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup grated zucchini, it’s okay to leave on the skin
1 1/4 cups chopped walnuts
1 package Enjoy Life chocolate chips (dairy-free)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Combine all the dry ingredients together in one bowl:  rice flour, tapioca flour, xanthan gum, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, set aside.  In a large bowl, combine the coconut oil, brown sugar and granulated sugar.  Add the vanilla and eggs and mix well.  Stir in the grated zucchini.  Next add the dry ingredients and walnuts, mixing well.  Finally, stir in the Enjoy Life chocolate chips.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Use a small scoop to spoon the cookie batter onto the pans, 12 to a pan.  It should make four batches, or about 48 cookies.  Bake each pan for 15 minutes.  Let cool and enjoy.  48 cookies should last a long time, but somehow these always disappear in two days at my house!  Enjoy!

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21 (NKJV)

Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

TEA with Psalm 119 (Part 2)

Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path. Psalm 119:105 (NKJV)

It’s time for more Bible verses for your TEA time with Jesus!  Last week I shared verses from the first half of Psalm 119.  Today we have verses from the second half of Psalm 119.  May God’s Word continue to bless and guide you as you pray and put your hope in Him!

T for Thanksgiving:

I rejoice at Your word
As one who finds great treasure.
Psalm 119:162 (NKJV)

E for Exalting:

Forever, O Lord,
Your word is settled in heaven.
 Psalm 119:89 (NKJV)

How sweet are Your words to my taste,
Sweeter than honey to my mouth!  Psalm 119:103 (NKJV)

You are my hiding place and my shield;
I hope in Your word.  Psalm 119:114 (NKJV)

The entirety of Your word is truth,
And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever. Psalm 119:160 (NKJV)

A for Admitting:

Let my heart be blameless regarding Your statutes,
That I may not be ashamed. Psalm 119:80 (NKJV)

I have restrained my feet from every evil way,
That I may keep Your word.  Psalm 119:101 (NKJV)

Direct my steps by Your word,
And let no iniquity have dominion over me. Psalm 119:133 (NKJV)

 C for Calling:

I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes
Forever, to the very end. 
Psalm 119:112 (NKJV)

Seven times a day I praise You,
Because of Your righteous judgments. Psalm 119:164 (NKJV)

 U is for Understanding our story:

Unless Your law had been my delight,
I would then have perished in my affliction. Psalm 119:92 (NKJV)

I am Your servant;
Give me understanding,
That I may know Your testimonies.
 Psalm 119:125 (NKJV)

Trouble and anguish have overtaken me,
Yet Your commandments are my delights.
Psalm 119:143 (NKJV)

The righteousness of Your testimonies is everlasting;
Give me understanding, and I shall live.
 Psalm 119:144 (NKJV)

Let my cry come before You, O Lord;
Give me understanding according to Your word. Psalm 119:169 (NKJV)

P is for Promises:

The entrance of Your words gives light;
It gives understanding to the simple.
 
Psalm 119:130 (NKJV)

P is for Petitioning:

Revive me according to Your lovingkindness,
So that I may keep the testimony of Your mouth.
 
Psalm 119:88 (NKJV)

I am Yours, save me;
For I have sought Your precepts. Psalm 119:94 (NKJV)

I am afflicted very much;
Revive me, O Lord, according to Your word.  Psalm 119:107 (NKJV)

Depart from me, you evildoers,
For I will keep the commandments of my God! Psalm 119:115 (NKJV)

Make Your face shine upon Your servant,
And teach me Your statutes. Psalm 119:135 (NKJV)

I cry out with my whole heart;
Hear me, O Lord! Psalm 119:145 (NKJV)

Hear my voice according to Your lovingkindness;
O Lord, revive me according to Your justice. Psalm 119:149 (NKJV)

Plead my cause and redeem me;
Revive me according to Your word. Psalm 119:154 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP: Psalm 119:147 declares, “I rise before the dawning of the morning, And cry for help; I hope in Your word.” What do you think, my TEA CUPP friend, can you make a date with Jesus every morning before the sun come up?  Sit down with the Lord for TEA, open your Bible, read His Word, and pour out your heart to Him in prayer.

Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.