Chips, and salsa, and ranch… oh my.

My favorite food has changed over the years.  When I was younger it was definitely ribs.  I still love ribs, I just can’t eat them too often.  My teeth need a break, and so does my waist.  If pressed, my answer now might be shrimp, but it’s too easy to get bad seafood in the middle of the desert.  So for the last five years my response to “What’s your favorite food?” has been chips and salsa AND ranch.  Go ahead, raise your eyebrows.  But I dare you… mix the ranch and the salsa, dip your chip, and then get back to me.  I love it.  But this is also a very, very dangerous delicacy to love.  I am notorious for eating multiple baskets of chips and salsa prior to the arrival of my meal at restaurants.  By the time my food arrives I’ve filled up on carbs and don’t have room for any of the things my body actually needs.  Tortilla chips may fill me up for a while, but they certainly won’t satisfy or sustain me for long.

I may have a new obsession. I loved falafel before Israel, but now I might be mildly addicted and on the hunt for a hole-in-the wall place to serve it up hot and fresh out of a FRYER. So not great for me. But soo good. Oh. My. Goodness. NOM. NOM. Darn you, fried chickpeas!

Isaiah 55:2 reads, “Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.”

I find it interesting that we are to LISTEN in order to eat what is good. That tells me that God’s Word is food for my hungering soul.  My friend Lauren reminds me that God’s portion isn’t stingy! Forget the picture of stale bread and dirty water. Throw that image out of your mind. God’s Word is compared to good food and the richest of fare! It’s filling, pleasureful and overflowing. Why would a God who LOVES to give good gifts fill us with anything less?

“Whom have I in heaven but you? 
   And earth has nothing I desire besides you. 
My flesh and my heart may fail, 
   but God is the strength of my heart 
   and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:25-26, NIV)

This world is full of some amazing diversions, but we know in our hearts there must be more than simply drinking coffee and following celebrity gossip. Jesus said in John 10:10 He has come to bring the abundant life.  We choose everyday whether we will fill up on carbs or make our way to the Banquet table that holds the real feast.

I want to feel the way about God’s Word that I do about food. I want to crave it, thirst for it, hunger after it. It’s not just satisfying… it’s so good for me.

I’m so thankful He loves to answer this prayer: Lord, let me love your Word. If your appetite still hasn’t been wet by the Word, can I challenge and invite you to join me and pray this prayer today?


Friday Finds: Heartache Help

Fact: We all experience rejection.  (Sometimes on a daily basis.)

It can be a tough road to navigate – especially in relationships.  So the last point I want to make about navigating through heartache is that we need to learn to embrace rejection.

I present to you, “The Art of Rejection” by Halyley DiMarco & Michael DiMarco.  I’ve quoted their book several times over the past week with good reason. This little book helped me to view my own breakup with rational and logical thoughts. I couldn’t get past my wounded feelings and needed fresh perspective.

The DiMarcos firmly and gently helped me to navigate all of the emotions and dilemmas that come along relationship rejection.

From the back cover:  Rejection Happens.  And it’s never fun.  But with the right perspective, you can turn it into something positive.  Learn how to view rejection as an art form instead of a painful experience that requires healing.  In The Art of Rejection you’ll find…

-Reasons why it’s okay to break up

-Do’s and Don’t of calling it quits

-What to do when rejection happens to you

This book didn’t just help me in dating relationships, I’ve referred to this book countless times when I feel rejected by friends, acquaintances, and even places of employment.  If you are struggling to move past a broken relationship, this might be a great little book for you.

I’ll close with one of my favorite paragraphs from the book:

“YES, you are good enough, but you aren’t for them. Those are two different issues.  YOUR goodness has nothing to do with them.  You are two different people with two different lives that happened to cross.  Just because this person has rejected you doesn’t mean you are defective or bad.” The Art of Rejection

May we always remember in the midst of our heartaches that we serve a God who is all too familiar with feelings of rejection and hurt.  “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”  Isaiah 53:3


(The bulk of this post is from a previous entry in April of 2011.)

Friday Finds: Good News

“If Jesus appeared at your dining room table tonight with knowledge of everything you are and are not,

total comprehension of your life story and every skeleton hidden in your closet;

if He laid out the real state of your present discipleship with
the hidden agenda,
the mixed motives,
and the dark desires buried in your psyche,

you would feel His acceptance and forgiveness.”

– Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel

This quote, this book… so good. Add this one to your reading list.

Happy Reading, friends.


p.s. We are headed back to Mexico this weekend for another medical clinic. Your prayers for safety and gospel connections would be greatly appreciated. D’s bringing his stethescope and I’m bringing out the JSB in Spanish again!

Joy like Christmas Morning

Yep, that’s your’s truly relishing in the first few moments of Christmas morning.  My eyes are a cross between total joy and total sleep deprivation.  Oh, Christmas morning…

I want you to think of something that you really wanted for Christmas when you were a kid.  Make sure you choose something that you actually ended up receiving!  It should be the kind of gift that made it difficult for you to sleep on Christmas Eve.  You couldn’t wait for it.  When you discovered that very gift waiting for you in the morning you began hyperventilating and being terribly overdramatic.  (Wait, was that just me?)  Ok, have you picked something yet?  Did you choose your most-desired Christmas gift?  Good.

New question: Did you wake up thinking about that Christmas item this morning?

Isn’t it amazing that something that held so much JOY all those years ago is now lost and forgotten.  Maybe the memory of it put a smile on your face.  But the truth is that stuff (no matter how cool in the moment) just doesn’t bring lasting joy.

But what about the huge trampoline that was waiting in the backyard in 4th grade?  I don’t think I even asked for it.  It was an AMAZING surprise that brought joy to my siblings and I (and let’s face it, the whole neighborhood) for years.  But like everything else, the trampoline wore out, fell apart, and eventually made it’s way to the trash.

Even if you enjoyed your favorite item for a few years, it doesn’t hold the same daily joy for you now.

So if we want joy like Christmas morning, do we simply continue to replace the old stuff with the new stuff?

I would challenge that rather than changing out our stuff, we need a change of heart and mindset.  God is always in the business of changing us from the inside out.  He desires for us to find real and lasting joy- something that’s done by spending time in His presence.  It’s totally contrary to the solution the world would give us.

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”  Romans 12:2. 

I tend to lose joy when I put all the focus on me.  Joyless living is all wrapped up in self-focus and selfishness.

“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others.  Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.  Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”  Philippians 2:3-4 

We fill up on joy when we fill up on the good stuff.  Satisfaction and joy in Jesus can be a reality.  The more we’ve been satisfied by God’s love, His Word, and His presence, the more we will yearn for it.  On the other hand, we can spend so much time away from the Lord and His spiritual food and drink that we may no longer feel hungry or thirsty.

“’Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?  Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.’”  Isaiah 55:2.

Have you ever filled up on chips or bread at a restaurant to the point of not being able to eat the main course?  When we choose to fill up on appetizers, we don’t have room for the meal that will truly satisfy us.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good.”  Psalm 34:8

When we fill up on His Word we carry a weapon for the offensive – the sword.  David said, “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”  Psalm 119:11.

The more we know God’s Word, the quicker we recognize Satan’s attempts to cover up that truth… the truth that says HE is the source of joy.  Spend time with the Lord this week.  Rather than asking him to be with you, why don’t you draw near to him?  He’s always waiting.

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”  James 4:8

Finding joy,

Thursday Tips: Getting Started

As I was lamenting the hill that we were tackling somewhere around mile 9 of the race this past weekend, I looked over and read a sign that was being held high over the crowd.  It read:


So true.  As with any goal, physical or spiritual, taking that first step is going to be the most challenging!  Once we get the hang of things we generally fall into a rhythym.

I know, sometimes picking up your Bible can be the equivalent to starting to train for a marathon.  We don’t know where to start, it seems to big, and we’ve been burned out in the process before.  But that’s why I wanted to share a tip today that has helped countless people of all ages get started in their Bible reading goals.  This is a retro post (originally posted in July of 2011), but the count on the viewership tells me that only my family and a few friends caught this one.

I hope you’ll check it out and share your own personal training tips in the comment section for other runners/readers!

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” 1 Corinthians 9:24, NIV


Summer Reading

You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me. – C.S. Lewis

I’ve always enjoyed reading. I’m not sure if the contests I entered in elementary school were national or regional, but I know that they were a wonderful incentive. Some awarded personal pan pizzas from the Hut while another gave ice cream and hamburgers from Braum’s. Wouldn’t it be amazing if there were reading incentives for adults? Imagine how books would fly off the shelves if Best Buy offered 30% off coupons for reading 3,000 pages. Or consider Jamba Juice stamp cards that reward a free smoothie for every other book you read. Someone should get on this!

I am constantly reading non-fiction for work and personal growth and I do enjoy it.  But I can get lost in fiction.  I only use my Kindle for reading fiction.  It makes packing for vacation much lighter!
So here’s my real problem. I’m currently reading 5 books and listening to another one on CD in the car. I’m not mixing my stories, or unable to follow along. My diet this week contains two spiritual memoirs, a summer dose of fiction, and a double round of spiritual encouragement. This doesn’t sound like much of an issue, until you look and see what’s awaiting me in the pile next to my bedside table. It’s as if someone has dropped off a bag of candy and I have to continue reminding myself to eat my vegetables and wait for dessert until I’ve finished everything already on my plate.
Here’s my current list…
From Head to Foot by Annie F. Downs
Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller
Scouting the Divine by Margaret Feinberg
Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges
The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins (Kindle edition)
Here’s the list that awaits me…
One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
Epic by John Eldredge
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian
Reflections on the Psalms by C. S. Lewis
Taking Flight by Kelly Rae Roberts
What are you reading this summer?  Care to share?
Following (and reading!)