Tag: refugees

Now The Work of Christmas Begins

Those of you who subscribe to this blog know that it is my heart to create environments and resources that help us draw closer to Jesus and others. Often that sounds really good, but living it out? Ahh that’s the tough part!

Someone recently said that January is like the “Monday” of months. It may include the excitement of fresh starts, but also the “Ugh, it’s back to work…” Boy I hear that!

This morning I opened an email from a friend that included this poem.


If you’re like me, you read this and say, “YES! AMEN to that!” It sounds so right, so noble, so inspiring.

But then we ask, “But how? Little ol’ me? How am I going to do that?”

Yes, God may call us to BIG, DRAMATIC actions in order to achieve the work of Christmas and I want to be ready and willing for that.

But for most of us,

  • finding the lost may look like greeting a stranger at church
  • feeding the hungry may look like preparing care kits for the homeless with fast food gift cards
  • releasing the prisoner may look like extending grace to someone who has wronged you
  • rebuilding the nations may look like supporting refugees (check out renewproject.org or preemptivelove.org)



  • bringing peace among the people may look like reaching out and getting to know someone from a different faith, culture, or political party – asking questions and listening well. Or advocating with your congressperson.

Big or small, may we be open to doing the work of Christmas every day.


Soul Food When There’s No Holiday to Celebrate

Ohmygosh ohmygosh! I don’t know about you, but February and March about kill me every year. Stay tuned cuz I’m working on something that I hope will sparkle the sox off us in March and carry us through. Meanwhile…

Two great books I’ve been reading…Highly recommend them both!

First, Jesus Outside the Lines: A way Forward for Those Who are Tired of Taking Sides by Scott Sauls. I love this fresh look at Jesus who won’t fit into our boxes. Here are some of the chapter titles:

Red State or Blue State?
For the Unborn or for the Poor?
Personal Faith or Institutional Church?
Money Guilt or Money Greed?
Affirmation or Critique?
Accountability or Compassion?
Hypocrite or Work in Progress?
Sexual Freedom or Chastity?
Hope Or Realism?
Self Esteem or God-Esteem?

“I am too conservative for liberals, and too liberal for conservatives.” – Everyone who follows the whole Jesus.

In Holding onto Hope, Nancy Guthrie uses her own personal story of grief as a prompt to look at the life of Job. There is an 8-week Bible study at the end.

This week I met with the leader of a local World Relief office to see how our church can help with sponsoring families, tutoring, providing legal clinics for refugees. I loved this story…

Many of you have probably seen this, but it’s such a day-brightener I just had to include it. 

Lastly, a cozy, soooo easy stew for winter nights, or for sharing with a new mama or someone who just needs a meal! 

4 Hour Beef Stew

In a large baking dish put:

  • 2 lb. stew meat
  • 1 medium onion cut up
  • 1 stalk celery cut
  • 6 carrots cubed

Blend together:

  • 1 t. salt
  • 2 TB sugar
  • 2 Tb. tapioca

Sprinkle this over the meat and veggies. Add 1 can peas and 1 can condensed tomato soup (spread over top)

Cover tightly and bake @250 for 4 hours. Serve over Pillsbury canned refrigerator biscuits.

I pray you have a fabulous weekend with glimpses of God’s everyday graces.

*Some posts on this blog contain Amazon affiliate links – I receive a tiny commission on any purchases you make from links, but I’m not paid to recommend any particular item. I’d never include a link to anything I didn’t own or feel great about endorsing.

Soul Food to Celebrate Life

If you’re a mama or if you’re not, this is a great weekend to celebrate Life in every expression! Here are a few things that were life-giving to me this week.

Our daughter Katy works as liaison between USAID (humanitarian aid) and Capitol Hill. She sent us this video that made us all cry. Powerful stuff!

If that one made you cry, this video will bring a smile. During a season when there’s so much focus on what divides us, this is a reminder of the things that we can celebrate together.

Favorite Instagram. Nuf said.


A beautifully written book I read this week was Purple Hibiscus. This amazing book is written in the voice of a 15-year-old girl living a life of privilege and abuse in Nigeria. It brings to life all the sights and smells of the culture and all the intricacies of family dynamics.


This Sunday is Mother’s Day, but it would also have been my brother David’s birthday.


He had the gift of hospitality, always drawing people together and welcoming them in. He was also the Grillmaster. So in honor of David I’m sharing our favorite turkey rub recipe from one of our friends. We call it Turkey ala Bob. It’s awesome!

1 clove minced garlic ++

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup coarse sea salt

2 TB minced onion (I use the dried kind)

2 ts. crushed red pepper flakes (I cut this way back cuz we don’t like spicy hot)

2 ts. coarse ground black pepper

1/2 ts. EACH cloves and allspice

Pat turkey with oil. Rub in marinade. Double bag for 2 days.

To grill use a aluminum drip pan and grill for 11-13 minutes a pound. Let it stand for 15 minutes. Read more here.

And lastly…

Happy happy weekend!

Refugees and Red Cups

Thanksgiving is a wrap, and it has finally snowed in Minnesota. It is the first Sunday in Advent. As I look out on the lake starting to slowly freeze, I write “Buy Christmas Tree” on my to-do list, but my mind is still reflecting on Thursday.

This was a “different” Thanksgiving for us. We were taken in as “refugees”, fleeing from a year of hard memories, looking for a different home in which to celebrate the holiday.

I looked down the long, long table filled with laughter and flickering candlelight, conversations amongst our “other family” and some people I’d never met before and I was so thankful.


It was not the table of my hometown, not my immediate family, no brother David at the head, but still…we felt at home.

Because we were in a place of love and welcome and “There you are!”

There were hugs, and favorite dishes, “Tell me about…” and “I’m so sorry…”

You and I and those in refugee camps and on streets everywhere all long to be invited; to have a place at the table, to feel welcomed and loved and known. Continue reading

Soul Food for a New Month

It’s October, and I’m with Anne, reveling in a world of good gifts. Wispy clouds across the moon, the smell of cinnamon and wood smoke, crunchy leaves and vibrant color that needs no filter to enhance its beauty.


You may have noticed that I didn’t post on Wednesday like usual. It was hard for me to let it go, but it’s been an overfull week and when I prayed about it I sensed God whispering “It’s ok. It’s all Grace.” So I didn’t stress over it, and the world didn’t end. I’m learning that the discipline of mini-Sabbaths is an important one.

As a “do-er” prayer is another hard discipline, but this week we put together a prayer gathering that created environments for people to engage with God in a variety of ways.


In one of the prayer corners we had a fountain running.

For with You is the fountain of life, in Your light we see light. Psalm 36:5

We said: Listen to the sound of the water and think of God’s love washing over you.

Then take a blank rock and write something or someone you’re thankful for and place it in the fountain.

Lastly take a rock with an attribute of God written on it that you need to be reminded of.

FullSizeRender-35Maybe this is an exercise you can do on your own.

This was a reminder from another corner of the room.


Next, if you’ve been overwhelmed by all the bad news this week, take a look at 13 Inspiring Stories of Refugees Being Welcomed from Around the World.

And lastly, a couple of October recipes. The first one I tried last night and we loved it – it can be adapted in a bunch of ways.

Crab and Corn Chowder

6 bacon slices

2 celery ribs diced

1 green pepper diced

1 medium onion diced

1 32 oz. can/box Chicken broth

3 TB flour

3 cups fresh corn kernels (6 ears) If you don’t have some frozen from summer a yellow and white Birds Eye frozen mix works

1 lb fresh crab meat (I used 2 cans of lump crab meat, but you could also substitute chicken or shrimp, or leave out the meat)

1 cup whipping cream

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (I didn’t have this 🙁 )

1/2 ts. salt

1/4 ts. pepper

fresh cilantro for garnish

Cook bacon in Dutch oven over medium heat 8-10 minutes til crisp. Remove bacon and drain on paper towel. RESERVE 2 TB drippings. Sauté celery, onion, and green pepper in drippings til tender (5-6 min)

Whisk together flour and broth til smooth. Add to celery mixture. Stir in corn. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. Gently stir in crab meat and rest of ingredients. Cook 4-5 minutes or til thoroughly heated. Makes 10 cups.


Zucchini Bread/Muffins

Mix 3 eggs

1 cup oil (yes, one cup 🙂 )

3 tsp. vanilla

1/2 cup milk

Separately mix 2 cups sugar,

3 cups flour,

1 ts. salt,

1 ts. baking SODA,

1/4 ts. baking POWDER,

1 ts. each: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves.

Blend wet and dry ingredients together and then fold in 2 cups shredded zucchini.

If making bread, it goes in 2 greased 8″ or 9″ loaf pans and you bake for about 45 minutes at 350.

If making muffins, cut the time to about 25 minutes.


Soul Food When all the News Seems Bad

Most mornings John says I’m annoyingly Tigger-like, bounding out of bed excited to seize the day. Many days recently though, I really just want to be more possum than Tigger and burrow into the soft comfiness of down pillows and warm blankets, keeping my eyes closed to the news of bad guys, hard hearts, pictures of desperate refugees fleeing Syria and the lifeless body of a precious little boy on a beach in Turkey.

Instead, today, I want to join people around the world who are choosing life. I want to say, “We see you. You are not alone and we’re going to do our best to help.”

First, what others are doing – where we can see God’s fingerprints – and then what we can do.





World Vision is doing more than any other humanitarian organization on the ground to help Syrian refugees. Take a look at some good news and then donate here as a way of choosing life today.

And lastly, we serve a God who always makes room at the table. You can help by signing this petition to make room for those in need.

This was part of my reading yesterday. Sometimes God is about as subtle as a mack truck, eh? 🙂


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