Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Back to Basics

I (Julie) just finished one of the best Bible studies I've done in a while. In preparation for the trip to Poland, each team member is sent a packet of Bible studies to complete, and then 5 of them are chosen for us to do with our students during the workshop. Most of the studies are on basic aspects of Christianity and the teachings of Jesus. The last study is always a walk-through of the Gospel, starting with God's purpose for creating us, our separation from God due to sin, God's solution to our separation through Jesus, our response to the cross, and finally, the assurance we have in Christ. Nothing I haven't heard before, but the sweetest message of all time. As much as I love Bible studies that search deep into the Scriptures and stretch me to think in ways I haven't before, I don't think I'll ever get tired of doing this one. It reminded me of the Jeremy Camp concert at the Events Center this fall. The whole concert was great, but the song that I remember the most was "Give me Jesus." All the instruments were silent except for Jeremy's guitar, and I sat in my chair by the front of the stage with my hands turned up in my lap and tears in my eyes as the whole room cried out for Jesus. I will always keep striving to learn all I can about my Lord and His Word. I never want to get to the point where I think I know enough and am content to remain there. But I also never want to lose my focus, and no matter how much I learn, I will pray, "Just give me Jesus."

Monday, January 24, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Since I (Julie) will be out of the country on Valentine's Day, I decided to make some cookies now to put in the freezer. I used a recipe from my Betty Crocker cookbook - so easy, but I really like the way these turn out.
Soft No-Roll Sugar Cookies
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 3/4 cup oil
  • 2 T. milk
  • 1 T. vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  1. In a large bowl, beat 1 cup granulated sugar, powdered sugar, butter, oil, milk, vanilla, and eggs with electric mixer on medium speed until blended. Stir in flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours or until firm.
  2. Heat over to 350*.
  3. Shape dough into 1 1/2 inch balls. Place 1/2 cup granulated sugar in a small bowl. Roll balls in sugar. On ungreased cookie sheet, place balls about 3 inches apart. Press bottom of drinking glass on each ball until about 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle each cookie with a little additional sugar.
  4. Bake 13 to 15 minutes of until set and edges just begin to turn brown. Immediately remove from cookies sheet to wire rack.
**Valentine's Day variation: instead of rolling balls in granulated sugar, roll in a mixture of sugar and red and pink sugar sprinkles. If you don't have pink sprinkles, put some sugar in the blender or food processor with a drop or two of red food coloring and process until blended. The sugar will be more like powdered sugar, which gives a nice light pink color to the cookies. Before baking, press a small heart cookie cutter onto the cookies.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Wherever you are...

Last Monday, my (Amy's) spring semester classes began. And so far, they're going just fine. I've met some sweet new people and gotten caught up with some old friends. But sometimes I have a tough time taking school seriously. I tend to put it on the back burner of my life. Don't get me wrong--I get good grades. I just know I could get a lot more out of my classes if I really pushed myself to learn and grow.
Jim Elliot used to say, "Wherever you are, be all there." School is definitely an area where I'm not always "all there." In fact, just today I got called on in class and realized I had no idea what the class had been talking about or what information the professor wanted from me. (Granted, I had just given blood and was busy mentally reciting the mantras "Don't throw up...don't pass out...don't throw up...don't pass out..." You get the idea). But lately, I've found myself in situations like this far too often. So I'm making it one of my New Year's resolutions to be "mentally present" wherever I go. To be fully engaged even in casual conversations, to focus on what my instructors are saying, and to set aside distractions and concentrate on schoolwork. I want my actions at school (and life in general) to reflect the character of Christ.
Colossians 3:17
"Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Ever had a hangnail? Yeah, me too. It amazes me how such a tiny piece of skin can cause so much pain and discomfort. The other day, I (Amy) overheard a radio ad about some little device used to remove hangnails. The announcer was saying something like, "No one likes getting hangnails. They catch on everything, causing you pain and distracting you from the important things in your life." I got to wondering whether my attitude might sometimes be like a hangnail to other people. When I'm angry or hurt, do I react by carrying out my daily tasks with a bitter pout on my face and resentment in my heart? When I'm tired or bored, do I shuffle along sluggishly with a "poor me!" expression? When I'm not getting the attention or credit I foolishly think I deserve, do I make others suffer by speaking cutting words? Sadly, I have to answer yes to those questions all too often. I regret the times that my attitude has hurt my testimony to others or dragged down those who were ministering alongside me. By God's grace, I'm determined to glorify Him more with my attitude this year. I want to reflect the joy and grace He has poured into my life to those around me. I want my family and friends to be able to count on me to respond with a willing heart and a cheerful countenance. I want my attitude to radiate the love of Christ more and more every day. I challenge you, dear friends, to ask yourself how your attitude is affecting your ministry and the ministries of those around you. Ask the Lord to help you as you strive to please Him more.