Monday, April 30, 2012

the gift of connections...

After counseling class on Saturday we drove up to Belize City to attend the last part of a meeting about the 12 steps.  We were able to sit in on the final session of the day and then make some contacts afterward.  We are grateful that we met some new people and are looking forward to the possibility of starting AA and Al-Anon groups here in Belmopan.

Gifts of connection:
701. Attending the meeting with others who are also interested in starting a 12 step group.
702. Connecting with some people from Belmopan.
703. Picking up some literature to help us get started.
704. Seeing the enthusiasm of the attendees.

705. Going into the historic St John's Cathedral for the meeting.

706.  The warmth and beauty of this old Anglican church.

707. The crosses at the end of the pews.

708. After the meeting Tom and I grabbed a bite to eat before the hour long drive back to Belmopan.  Here is the view from our parking space at Birds Isle Restaurant.

Gifts from the week:
708.  Jadine sending me a piece of gluten free chocolate cake!
709.  Thursday prayer times at CDF.
710.  Leading the Ladies' Bible study meeting on Wednesday.
711.  the blessing of being flexible.
712.  seeing couples who are willing to work to save their marriage.
713.  chatting with Nathan via Facebook.
714.  joining the world of Tumblr.
715.  spending time with Spencer.
716.  taking walks with Tom.

Gifts found during my time in the Word:
717.  He is a just ruler and guide Psalm 67:4
718.  He is a refuge and a stronghold Psalm 9:9
719.  He will never forsake those who seek Him Psalm 9:10
720.  He gives power and strength to His people Psalm 68:35
721.  He is with us no matter where we go Joshua 1:9


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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Blessed are the flexible, right?!

This saying truly blessed me this week:  "Blessed are the flexible, for they will not get bent out of shape."

Being flexible is a must here in Belize.  We have to be flexible with whether or not the electricity or internet will work today, and we need to flexible with a grocery list and whether or not the store will have the items they had last time, and we must flexible with scheduling and ministry planning...and so on.

The other day I showed up for a meeting with someone.  She and I were just getting back on track after having had a few scheduling problems over the past few weeks.  When I showed up for our appointment she had someone else there with her...waiting for me.  This person was in pain emotionally and she wanted me to talk to her.  I put aside the agenda that I had for our meeting and spent time listening to the other young lady.  And this young woman had enough pain for several lifetimes to weed through.  And yet her story is a common one here in Belize.

Hearing these types of stories bring to mind a passage in Spiritual Moms by Lynn Wilford Scarborough:
In our society of "fatherless children," the focus has been on the need for a father figure in a child's life.  But when you evaluate the number of working moms and the amount of time that children actually spend with their parents, it seems that in truth, we have a "parentless generation."  
There is a great need for spiritual parenting in Belize.  And it is not all about the fathers who have been absent...we must consider the plight of the children who have had to raise themselves.  This is not unique to Belize, and yet, Belize is such a young country that it is sorely affected by this situation.  The country is only 30 years old.  And the majority of people who live here are under the age of 25.   We see children parenting other children in the literal sense of the word and also in the spiritual sense.  

Which means that those of us who are older more mature need to drop our preconceived agendas of how to meet the needs we see around us and be flexible enough to listen to and learn about what the needs truly are.  

I invited this young woman to go to Bible study with me.  I told her that her clothes would not matter and that she would be welcomed by our group no matter what.  And our ladies did not disappoint on that promise.  She felt loved.  She felt like she was finally in the company of women who were not pretending to be holy or perfect but were real and authentic.  She felt accepted and "a part of".  She didn't say more than a few words at the meeting but she talked my ear off on the drive home.  And I was grateful.

Blessed are the flexible indeed...for choosing not to get bent out of shape in this situation showed me more about Him and set me more firmly on His path.  I know that I might not get it right every time, but I am willing to keep learning and to keep listening to the women that I cross paths with and to the One who places them there...so that He will be glorified...and we all grow up in Him.

So are you ready to be blessed or are you feeling bent out of shape by life?




Wednesday, April 25, 2012

thought for today...carry each other's burdens



At church on Sunday we were each given three sticky notes and a pen.  We were instructed to write down our burdens...the things we wanted to give over to God. The things we cannot carry alone.  

After writing them down we took turns placing them on a large heart at the front of the room.  Once we finished placing them on the heart then we went back up to get three prayer requests to take home with us.  To help share the load by supporting one another in prayer throughout the week.  

Each day I open my Bible and I have three anonymous burdens to pray over, to offer up to God, to help carry the load.  I also know that someone is praying for my requests...my burdens are being shared.  

 My load has felt lighter this week.  And I hope that those I am praying for feel the same way.  




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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies

Ten days of being gluten free.  What a milestone.  For the most part it is fairly easy.  I just eat real food.  Meat, veggies and fruit.  Every now and again I have to face up to thoughts of "oh I can't eat that" but, thankfully, it has not been a major ordeal.  Tom even checked labels when buying me a candy bar last night...he came home with a plain milk chocolate Hershey bar. And it was perfect!

It is amazing to have energy again.  It is so wonderful to feel less pain...I never would have imagined that wheat would be factor in my dealing with fibromyalgia.

I got an email last night with a recipe for gluten free chocolate chip cookies and I am looking forward to giving them a try.  I realized as I was reading over the recipe that I have actually had gluten free cookies before.  I made them for the first time back in 2005 when we were in Russia and wrote about giving the recipe away to our friend Alexei.


Super Easy Peanut Butter Cookies

1 egg
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of peanut butter

Mix all ingredients together.  Roll into balls and flatten with a fork in a criss cross pattern.
  Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.   

You could even put a square of chocolate or a Hershey Kiss on top if you like!

I found the same recipe on AllRecipes.com here.

Enjoy!

Monday, April 23, 2012

the gifts of life in Him...


Have you ever had a week so jammed packed that you don't know where to begin in describing it?

This has been one of those weeks for us.  So let's get started!

The gifts of ministry:
674.  Tom's class at Belize Bible Center started up again this week and we had twelve students return and three new students.  Two more students are scheduled to join us next week...what a blessing to see so many interested in studying Christian Counseling!

675.  getting a referral to our counseling office from a government agency.

676.  seeing clients reach their goals...and move on.

677.  having someone ask me about meeting for discipleship at her house in a village nearby.

678.  seeing someone who had not been to any church for over a year at the service on Sunday.

Gifts of fellowship:

679.  making prayer books at the ladies Bible study.



680.  my friend Liz making me come out from behind the camera!


681.  enjoying learning a new language with friends.


682.  the feeling of community sharing our burdens and requests with one another at church.
683.  the gifts of each of us taking some of those burdens to prayer over during the week.


684.  sharing in communion with such a diverse and beautiful body of believers.


685.  joining in with the worship team to sing songs of praise and worship to Him.


686.  driving through the countryside to meet with some fellow missionaries for lunch.


687.  the beautiful Teak trees growing strong again after suffering hurricane damage in the fall of 2010.
688.  remembering what they looked like after Hurricane Richard and rejoicing in how they look now.


689.  being treated to a meal after church at a place we had never been to before.



690.  a mango growing in our backyard


691.  a tree that can still bear fruit standing in the shadow of a larger tree.

692.  Spencer's foot was only sprained and not broken.
693.  Nathan's new job.
694.  Tom's parents celebrating their 50th anniversary today.
695.  Tom and I getting a donation from Belizean couple to help support our work here.

Gifts found during my time in the Word:

696.  He can sympathize with our weaknesses.  Hebrews 4:15
697.  His oath gives us a hope that anchors our souls.  Hebrews 6:17-19
698.  His compassions never fail and are new every morning.  Lamentations 3:22-23
699.  He does not lie or change His mind.  Numbers 23:19
700.  He has made plans for us.  Jeremiah 29:11



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Friday, April 20, 2012

behind the veil of the sex industry...

The first film in the Nefarious Documentary Trilogy comes out on DVD May 1st... help spread the word!





Synopsis 

“Modern slavery.” It sounds like a paradox. Hasn’t humanity progressed? Didn’t we leave slavery dead on the battlefields of the American Civil War? Didn’t social reformers like Lincoln and Wilberforce legislate against such cruelty over a hundred years ago? So we had thought. But, with over 27 million enslaved people in the world, human trafficking is once again the battlefront of the century.

Regardless of nationality, victims are systematically stripped of their identity, battered into gruesome submission, and made to perform humiliating sexual acts on up to 40 strangers every night. Most are held in dingy apartments and brothels, forced to take heavy doses of illegal drugs, and monitored very closely. Victims are often thrown into such ghastly oppression at 13 years old. Some are abducted outright, while others are lured out of poverty, romantically seduced, or sold by their families.

Nefarious, Merchant of Souls, is a hard-hitting documentary that exposes the disturbing trends in modern sex slavery. From the very first scene, Nefarious ushers you into the nightmare of sex slavery that hundreds of thousands experience daily. You’ll see where slaves are sold (often in developed, affluent countries), where they work, and where they are confined. You’ll hear first-hand interviews with real victims and traffickers, along with expert analysis from international humanitarian leaders.

From initial recruitment to victim liberation—and everything in between—the previously veiled underworld of sex slavery is uncovered in the groundbreaking, tell-all Nefarious, Merchant of Souls.






Thursday, April 19, 2012

What's in your pastry box?

No doughnuts or sweet rolls to see here...bananas are the perfect treat for after church!  


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

thought for today...godly graffiti

We live on a dirt road and we work in an office on a dirt road so our little SUV gets dusty.  It gets washed and then gets dusty again...the cycle is endless.  It is fairly common to see various messages written on car windows around the city.  

This was the message left on our car the other day.

 
There are passages in Matthew, Mark and Luke that say "Love your neighbor as you love yourself".  But our tagger flipped the message. "Love yourself as you love your neighbor."  What great food for thought.  For some of us loving our neighbor is easy but loving ourselves is the challenge.  

Is it like that for you?  

Do you need to cut yourself some grace and begin loving yourself the way you love your neighbor?  

I confess that this is one of my struggles.  I remember being taught this J-O-Y acronym in Sunday School as a child.  

Jesus first.
Others second.
Yourself last.

It is so much easier to have patience with someone in pain, or with the one who has made a mistake, or with that one who takes a little extra tolerance to work with than it is to be kind to and take care of myself.  

I am realizing through this Year of Surrender that I have gotten some of God's words twisted.  And I need to work them out.  Jesus first, yes!  Just like the J-O-Y acronym starts.  But the Bible verse admonishes me to 'Love my neighbor AS myself''.  Not 'instead of' or 'before'...as.  As.   As I begin allowing this to take root in my brain my attitude toward myself begins to change and I surrender another layer of the veneer that covers my heart.  

I know that one day at a time and one issue at a time this season of Surrender will make me, mold me, and fill me with more of Him, more of His Word, and more of His grace.  

May God help us work through the issues standing in the way
and the words that we have twisted in our lives
 so that He may fit us for His service!



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and you can find a post of mine here:
Alida: She Rocks

as part of the series:

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Going Gluten Free in Belize...

 
Gluten free baking supplies can be found here in Belmopan!  I thought I was going to have to take a trip out to Spanish Lookout to find everything I need.  Thankfully, that was not the case.  

I found the tapioca starch and the rice flour at Fansico, a Chinese owned grocery store, and I found the Xanthan Gum at Ultimate Herbal Health Food Store.   I was shocked to find the Xanthan Gum...totally shocked.  But so relieved that I didn't need to order it online and try to have it sent here.  

Tom is the bread eater in our family not me.  So I thought I could just eat meat, chicken, fish, veggies and fruit and be okay.  And then I remembered how much I love pancakes, pizza and pasta.  That epiphany almost weakened my resolve but I knew I had to soldier on.  

After spending time googling recipes I got overwhelmed.  We live on a modest income and cannot afford to do too much experimenting with expensive ingredients.  I need to make every cent count.  I stumbled on a simple recipe for an all-purpose gluten free flour and knew I was headed in the right direction.

All-Purpose Gluten Free Flour
3/4 cup rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1 tsp xanthan gum

I started a Gluten Free board on Pinterest to collect recipes and tips.  My quest for ingredients started on Saturday.  I knew where to get the rice flour and 'lo and behold' right next to it was the tapioca starch.  The xanthan gum was harder to find...fortunately, we finished up in the counseling office yesterday early enough for me to head over to the health food store.  I found coconut flour, almond flour and even a gluten free baking mix on the shelf.  I asked about the xanthan gum and the girl found it quickly.  Success!  

Last night I was able to make a batch of 'test biscuits' using the all-purpose gluten free flour mix recipe.  I tried them once before just using rice flour without the tapioca starch or the xanthan gum and they came out dry and heavy.  They were much improved over my previous effort but I will do one more test run before posting that recipe.

My plea for help on Facebook got me connected with a friend of a friend who told me about some other ingredients to look for and is going to pass along some recipes as well.  I was taken aback by how many people know someone who is gluten free.  I didn't want to do this at first.  I didn't want to be difficult to feed when we are away from home, and I just didn't want to be different.  Yet, I have to take care of myself...I have lived with the pain of fibromyalgia for far too long.  I had told myself that there was nothing more I could do or take than what I was already doing.  But, I was wrong. 

After a week of taking some new vitamins and eating gluten free I am already experiencing less pain and more energy.  And I know that it will only get better the longer I stay away from gluten and continue down this path toward better health.  

So, if you have any gluten free recipes or tips to pass along I am open! 


Monday, April 16, 2012

the gifts of Tuning In...


CDF had such a great turn out on Saturday.  30 pastors and youth workers showed up for the seminar.  Many of them had never attended a CDF event before and it was exciting to see new faces and make new connections here in Belize.  

The three speakers for the day, Diana, Tom, and Jadine, covered several topics; what sexual abuse is, reporting requirements and laws, the effects of abuse and how to help, and how to talk to young people about sexual issues.  We were impressed with the types of questions that were asked throughout the day and the strategies that the small groups came up with for dealing with children, parents, the police, and the church.  

God truly blessed this event and we pray that lives will be touched through the educational efforts of CDF and through the participants as they use what they learned!

As I reflect on our weekend I have these gifts to cherish:

651.  The well used Bible of a youth leader...


652.  lively small group discussions...


653.  listening to the various groups make their strategy presentations...
 

654.  Tom teaching on the effects of abuse...
655.  and how to help


656.  a child who was able to occupy herself while her mother attended the seminar...
 


Gifts from the week:


657.  a friend of Tom's stopping by to play in the office


658.  stepping out to learn Spanish.
659.  enjoying time with my classmates.
660.  understanding that mastering Spanish would allow us to work with Spanish speaking clients without needing an interpreter.
661.  working on articles for the CDF blog.
662.  a change in my diet that gives me more energy and less pain.
663.  the gift of surrendering to the discipline of eating to feel better.
664.  Listening to my brother's reports on KFDI as he was out chasing tornadoes in Kansas on Saturday.
665.  talking with my parents in Wichita and knowing they are safe.  They had a small amount of water leak into the basement and nothing else.  
666.  the technology that allowed me to stream a Kansas radio station online here in Belize.
667.  an inspiring and challenging message from Pastor Dan on Sunday about the purpose of suffering along with Philip's presentation on the persecuted church.
668.  a quote from Sunday's message:  Being religious is easy...being a Christian is hard."

and some gifts found during my time in the Word:
669.  He will not leave us as orphans  John 14:18
670.  His example of humility  Philippians 2:5-8
671.  His word equips us to work for Him  2 Timothy 3: 16-17
672.  He prayed for us John 17:20
673.  He nailed that which stood against us to the cross Colossians 2:13-15

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Friday, April 13, 2012

Tune In!

If you are looking for us on Saturday this is where we will be! 

Tom is one of the speakers for this one day event sponsored by CDF to train Youth Pastors and Youth Workers.   Please pray for those who will attend and for all of the people who are working to make this event a success.  And for all who take part in the seminar to come away feeling more equipped to handle emergency situations with their youth.

If you are here in Belize and work with youth come on out and join us!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

30 Inspirational quotes from Dr. Suess...


Who doesn't love Dr Suess?!  

His books have been read by millions and his words can inspire us to try new things, or think in new ways, or even go new places.  Honestly, I don't think I really 'got' Dr. Suess when I was a kid.   But, I get him now.  One of my favorite quotes is #17 "a person's a person, no matter how small".  I'll be thinking about this today as we are in the counseling office working with those who have been mistreated and abused. 

 #14 was part of our homeschooling philosophy...we wholeheartedly believed in the importance of knowing how to learn.  And  hopefully we instilled that in our sons.  And I can remember quoting #18 to my kids a lot when they were small...actually I think my mother may have even said it long before I knew Dr. Suess did! 




So which one is your favorite?  


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Are you getting tired of doing good?

 
Galatians 6:9 encourages us to keep on pressing on when we feel weary.  The harvest comes at the proper time.  Not in our time but in His.  This doesn't mean that I have to work myself ragged without any rest.  I am allowed to take much needed breaks.  Tom and I were grateful for the days off that we had over the Easter holiday.  But, taking those days off did not indicate that we were giving up.  It was simply a time to recharge and unwind a bit.  

Even when our hearts are in the right place and we are living out our purpose we can still grow weary at times.  Doing good can get tedious, feel overwhelming, and we may even think that we are not making any headway for all of our efforts...and yet...His word says we will reap a harvest "if" we do not give up. 

May you find the strength, encouragement and determination to hang in there.  The harvest is on the way!  



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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Cream Cheese Pancakes...

Are you looking for gluten free or low carb pancakes?  If so, you should give these a try!

One of the articles I read on Fibromyalgia and diet suggested that some of us with fibromyalgia could benefit from a gluten free diet.  Before making a complete switch I decided to do some research to see what I could and couldn't eat.  


I started a collection of gluten free recipes on Pinterest and this one sounded like a winner.  The recipe was very easy to follow and the pancakes very simple to make.  Well, I take that back... I did find them a little difficult to flip at first and it took a few pancakes for me get the hang of it.

You can find the original recipe here.  Being outside of the US it is not always easy to find specialty ingredients, like Stevia, as the recipe calls for.  So I used cane sugar instead and added vanilla.  So my recipe is this:

Cream Cheese Pancakes
2 ounces of cream cheese
2 eggs
1 tsp of cane sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Put all ingredients in the blender or (use a stick blender) and blend until smooth.  Let rest until the bubbles settle.  Pour desired amount of mix into a hot pan, lightly greased, or sprayed with cooking spray.  Cook a few minutes until golden on the first side and then flip and cook for another minute or so.  Makes 4 medium sized pancakes.

***

I read through some of the comments on the original recipe post and saw that others had made modifications to the recipe as it suited them. One person used mascarpone cheese and protein powder which she said made them a little fluffier.  Another person used honey instead of the stevia.   Some people omitted the sugar altogether.  I may play around with the recipe a bit more myself.  I liked them but wanted the texture to be more like a traditional pancake.  These were more like a crepe to me.  I may try adding a bit of rice flour in my next batch and see how that turns out.  

If you give them a try or have other suggestions let me know!

Monday, April 09, 2012

The gifts of Holy Week...

How was your Holy Week? 

 The CDF office closed last Monday and does not reopen until tomorrow so we are still enjoying a much needed break.  Our time off for the Easter holiday began with a one day trip to Chetumal, Mexico and it will end today with a quiet day at home.  As I think about all this week held for us I am truly grateful.

629.  after several attempts to photograph a truck filled with sugarcane as they barreled down the highway we finally saw one parked on the side of the road!  So grateful that it was there to pose for me.


630.  being able to negotiate the traffic in Chetumal, Mexico (just across the border from Belize)


631.  meeting up with Celina and Paulino, who live in Chetumal, to see The Hunger Games after our time of shopping for much needed supplies.
632. the joy of laughing together at the teen age girls who sighed and awed all through the movie.  
633.  Paulino, Tom and Spencer tolerating the movie even though Bruce Willis was not in it!



634.  seeing a black jaguar walk right in front of the car after crossing back over into Belize.
635.  the unforgettable chill that went down my spine as I was eye to eye with that magnificent animal.
source

636.  a quiet Tuesday with no demands.
637.  spending time in the hair salon on Wednesday and enjoying the air conditioning for a few hours.
638.  Bible study and time discussing the word in our small group. 
639.  finding out that Meesha will be coming from India to stay with us for a while.


640. Good Friday sunset over Patty and Max's property after a time of prayer and blessings over their land.

641.  relaxing and laughing at a cookout on Saturday so much that I forgot to take photos!  

642.  Easter Sunday blessing...the children singing Amazing Grace!
                                                                                                                         
                                   
643.  Samantha's heartwarming voice lifting us all up in Him.
644.  being able to sing a solo at church for the first time since leaving Russia almost two years ago.
645.  Pastor Dan calming my nerves about singing by reminding me that we are all family.
646.  a potluck meal after church in the home of gracious couple who took in more than 30 of us.
647.  chatting with Toni and hearing about how she and Dan came to Belize.
648.  the gift of redemption and the sacrifice of Christ.
649.  the gift of being reconciled to God by Christ's work on the cross.
650.  the gift of an empty tomb...and a Risen Lord!


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