Monday, April 30, 2012

Praising God in a Cave

Patrick and I were blessed on Sunday to once again hear Joshua Harris preach at Covenant  Life Church  The sermon, entitled "David: Praising God in a Cave," revolved around King David's time in the caves during the season of his life when Saul tried to kill him.  (1 Samuel 21:10-22:4)

I was a little distracted for parts of the service because Natalie was really wiggly and extremely chatty (side note: it's really difficult to keep a child from squirming and talking during church when everyone around you is furtively waving and making faces at her . . .), but the main gist of the message really struck home.

Christians are going to suffer.  We all go through trials and tribulations, we all face the Valley of the Shadow of Death.  How do we react in these times of our lives?  How do we react to others as they battle difficulties?

David praised God throughout the lowest points in his life.  Gath was the home of Goliath--he was in such danger from Saul that he had to flee to the home of the Philistine over whom he had triumphed in battle shortly before.  During this time, David had to pretend to be a mad man in order to escape the wrath of Achish, king of Gath, hide in caves, and bring his parents to Moab to protect them from the pursuit of Saul.  As far as things go, it was pretty bad for David.  Humiliation and degradation characterize this period of David's history.

Still, he praised God.  Read Psalm 57:

Let Your Glory Be over All the Earth

To the choirmaster: according to iDo Not Destroy. A jMiktam1 of David, when he fled from Saul, in kthe cave.

57 lBe merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
for in you my soul mtakes refuge;
in nthe shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
otill the storms of destruction pass by.
I cry out to God Most High,
to God who pfulfills his purpose for me.
qHe will send from heaven and save me;
he will put to shame rhim who tramples on me. Selah
sGod will send out this steadfast love and his faithfulness!
My soul is in the midst of ulions;
I lie down amid fiery beasts—
the children of man, whose vteeth are spears and arrows,
whose wtongues are sharp swords.
xBe exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be over all the earth!
They set ya net for my steps;
my soul was zbowed down.
They adug a pit in my way,
but they have fallen into it themselves. Selah
bMy heart is csteadfast, O God,
my heart is steadfast!
I will sing and make melody!
dAwake, emy glory!2
Awake, fO harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn!
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
10 For your gsteadfast love is great to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.
11 xBe exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be over all the earth!

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!  Let your glory be over all the earth.  Awake!  Awake!  I will sing and make melody~  I will give thanks to you, O Lord . . . I will sing praises to you . . . For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness is to the clouds.

What an amazing response to God.  It wasn't written in a flower filled meadow, it wasn't penned in a lavish palace . . . it was sung in a cave by a wanted man, by a man who didn't know when his troubles would end.

I have had my own share of life-altering sorrows lately, and I was convicted once more of the need to continue to praise God through all things.  You may be facing grave illness or the loss of a loved one or even a job.  Perhaps it would seem that life is not being kind to you at the moment.  Seek the Lord.  He will never give us more than we can handle and He is there to bear our burdens and to comfort our  grief and to heal our pain.

Josh Harris pointed out that we may not know when or if a certain trial will end.  Do not let that rob you of your joy.  David knew that, despite his current circumstances, he would eventually be king.  If we trust in the power of Christ's blood, we also will rule in glory with the King.  Look forward to the glory to come.  Accept life's sorrows but do not wallow in them.  Keep your eyes on the prize--eternal life with one Awesome God.

The sermon can be heard here.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Busy with Blessings

Anyone who says that stay-at-home moms don't "work" obviously has never been a stay-at-home mom.  For starters, "stay-at-home" does not literally mean "stays-at-home all day."  This past week, I have run from one errand to the next appointment to the next commitment day after day.

Whether it's making a little extra pocket money by doing a consumer food test, going to my  mom's house to pull weeds and work so that she'll help me out next week (working together is so much more fun!), or heading to church (I've been there twice this week, not including Sunday), I've actually had very little time to just stay at home and even less time to put my feet up and do nothing.

After coming home from these "events," I have to make dinner for my family, feed Natalie, put her to bed, and then clean up so that I can do it all again the next day.  Before them, I need to run laundry, pack a few boxes, and scrub my bathrooms.  Throw in ordering books for my sister and proof-reading a seven page paper for my brother's modern lit class.  And answering my youngest sister's play-by-play texts about American Idol (which I wasn't watching because I was at church) after it was over.

Right now, I have a double batch of cupcakes to make so that we can drive two hours to New Jersey tomorrow for a family event.  I am so tired at this very moment that I decided to sit for a few minutes and enjoy my decaf (regular would help the headache brought on by my lack of sleep, but that would only contribute to further lack of sleep via Natalie later tonight).  Through all of this, I have a super-busy, ever-moving ten month old to tend and watch.

Last night I was reminded that being so busy is both a difficult thing and a blessing--and that I should be thankful for all that God has placed in my hands to do.  I am exhausted.  However, that little bit of perspective helped change my attitude just a little.  Instead of longing for a little respite (which won't come this weekend because we have lots of plans--including going grocery shopping at 6 AM on Saturday morning to save lots of money), I am trying to thank God for entrusting me with so much.  Interestingly, the things that He has given me to do this week are all things that I really, really enjoy--so instead of griping for how many things that I have to do, I am attempting to remember that the only unpleasant "duty" of the week was the cat box . . . and cleaning up the cat vomit all over the house today.  I've gotten to eat, cook, spend time with my mom, shop, edit, hang out with friends, bake . . . Who wouldn't want to be me?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Different is Okay

Being a stay-at-home mom is so much better and yet so . . . different . . . than I ever expected.  Don't get me wrong--I wouldn't change being home with Natalie for anything.  It's just that when I was a little girl and I was daydreaming about being a mom, I never quite imagined the "bad" parts.  My children were always perfectly behaved, were always happy, and our days were all sunshine and laughter.  There were no nap time tantrums, no grabbing at power cords, and certainly no times when we accidentally gave a child a little too much sugar before bed, thus leading to hours of rocking a screaming, fidgeting, very much awake child.

Alas, despite Natalie's generally excellent disposition, she has been teething and clingy this past week and we did give her a little bit too much rainbow sherbet (to help her aching gums?).

This aside, I get to stay home with a usually cheerful baby.  I get to cuddle her, hold her, take her on walks, sing with her, and teach her.  Despite my misconceptions, being a mom is still the most wonderful calling I can imagine for myself.  The "differences" (okay, okay--let's call them "AAAHHH moments") make the more joyful times even more sweet.  Who wouldn't smile when looking at this face all day?  I am blessed.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Slow Down!

The past week has brought SO many changes in Natalie!  For starters, my month of singing only the "clap your hands" lines of If You're Happy and You Know It paid off.  Natalie not only knows how to clap right now, but she wants to clap any time she hears praise, applause, or music.  It's pretty cool.

She finally began to crawl for real--she's been able to do it for a few weeks, but she preferred to scoot because it was faster for her.  Now that she's perfected the crawl, she's everywhere.  Literally.

On the heels of this accomplishment, she decided to pull herself up on anything and everything and to stand.  Constantly.  If she's not standing, she's trying to figure out how to stand.  This started yesterday, and already she's standing in her crib, standing by the coffee table, and trying to be standing everywhere else.

Also, Pippi the cat has decided that Natalie is on her love list.  Sure, she has always been protective of Natalie, but now she will go snuggle up against her even when I'm not right there.  Natalie gets away with things that would send Pippi on the attack with most others--pulling her ears and tail, patting her, throwing her arms around her . . . It's a little scary for me because Pippi still gets irritated by too much attention and will take a swipe once in a while when she's had enough (usually she just gets up and leaves), but I've been so thankful that it appears that she keeps her claws IN when she bats Natalie away because Natalie isn't covered in scratches.  They are buddies.

It seems that all of a sudden my little baby is growing up and trying to show me that she isn't quite so little anymore.  But then she gets tired, pops her thumb in her mouth, and snuggles her head into my shoulder--and I know that she will always be my little girl.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Heaven on a Cupcake

When my mom requested orange creamsicle cake for her birthday, I must admit that I was just a little bit disappointed.  Orange?  Instead of chocolate?  Instead of pound cake?  Determined to make the best of the situation, I began to contemplate what icing I could use that would really turn boring (in my mind) orange cake into a luscious orange creamsicle dream come true.  Remembering an icing that one of Patrick's coworkers made recently, I began to search the internet for a whipped cream cheese icing.  Whipped cream AND cream cheese combined into one amazing icing?  Was it possible?  Yes.

I cannot take responsibility for this recipe, I cannot claim it as my own . . . I can only say that I am never going back to regular cream cheese icing again.  This stuff is heaven on a cupcake, it turned creamsicle into dreamsicle, and it would be awesome on just about any kind of cake (chocolate, carrot . . .).


Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting


  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream


  1. In a small bowl beat whipping cream until stiff peaks form; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl combine cream cheese, sugar, salt and vanilla. Beat until smooth, then fold in whipped cream.
(Make sure that the cream cheese is room temperature.  Even if it is, it may still take longer than usual to get the sugar semi-dissolved so that the mixture isn't grainy!  It took several minutes of beating on high to get it mostly smooth.  Also, keeping the finished icing cool is important because it tends to "droop" after a while.   Some of the reviews stated that it couldn't be piped, but Marissa did some beautiful piping work on the cupcakes--but it got more difficult as the icing warmed).

Monday, April 2, 2012

Adults Only: Variations on Ham and Cheese

My sister and I threw a small get-together together this past weekend.  Being Italian, food was pretty important to us.  We decided to do adult hors d'oeuvres.  In addition to the standard deviled eggs and fruit platters, we made several variations on recipes that I found online.  One recipe that we didn't follow, however (and I'm sure that 900 million other people have already come up with this), was for ham and cheese pinwheels.  How do you make them more . . . grown up?  How do you make them more classy?  And just how do you do all of this without breaking the bank OR using up all of your precious prep time?  Easy.

Thinly Sliced Ham
Cheese (we used deli American because I had it sitting in my refrigerator)
Tortillas (regular size, not fajita)
Philadelphia Cream Cheese Whipped Chive (I'm usually a cheapo--but I figured that this would spread easily [it did] and taste good without my having to spice it up [it did, too]) in the tub
Green Olives.

Throw a bunch of green olives (drained) into your food processor and chop until fine.

Spread your tortilla with whipped chive cream cheese (all the way around).

Spread a thin layer of green olives all the way around (not too much or it will be super salty).

Layer on ham and cheese, roll up, stick with toothpicks, and slice into pinwheels.

Voila.  Easy.  Delicious.  You could even add lettuce and tomato if you wanted.  We didn't.  ;-)