Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Rustic Apple Cranberry Pie

This is one of those deceptively delicious treats that will make you feel happy and proud. If you love to bake...you'll enjoy this recipe. If baking - especially a pie crust - makes you feel nervous, you'll love it too! You'll be successful and everyone will love this! It's rustic which means it will be forgiving when you go to put the crust together because it doesn't have to look fancy or schmancy! It's just the perfect combination of crispy, sugary, flaky crust with sweet, delicious filling.  Can you use storebought pie crust? Yes. But don't tell me. That will make me sad. It won't turn out as flakey and it will definitely not look rustic.
By the way, I really encourage you to do all your baking by weight. Just get a decent scale, set your bowl on it, zero it out every time you add something. It makes a big difference and you'll have way better results and consistency each time.


Crust
6 1/2 ounces flour (6 1/4 cup)
3 tsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
4 ounces (8T) COLD unsalted butter, cut into dice-sized cubes
3 T ice water
For the top of the crust
1 egg beaten
3 T demerara sugar (or six packets of Sugar in the Raw - or just regular granulated sugar)

Filling
24 ounces (about 5-6 medium) apples (Granny Smith or Gala or a mix, peeled and cored, sliced into 1/2-inch wedges.
3/4 cup cranberries (frozen or fresh)
5 T sugar (1/4c + 1 T)
2 tsp cornstarch
Zest of 1 orange
3T lemon juice (juice of half a lemon)
1 T flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 T COLD unsalted butter cut into dice-sized cubes
2 T Grand Marnier or Cointreau (optional - but, um, wow.)

Make the dough first...
Combine flour, sugar, and salt in large bowl. Cut COLD butter into the flour using a pastry cutter or by smashing butter into flour with your fingertips. Add 2 tablespoons ice water and fold together until just moistened...add the additional water if it's too dry still. Press the dough against itself on the side of the bowl to form a mass of dough. CAREFUL not to overmix. Press dough into a 5-inch disc and wrap in plastic and chill 1 hour.

While dough chills prep your filling...

Combine all filling ingredients except the butter in a bowl and toss to combine. Refrigerate. Have a glass of wine.

Roll the dough...
Pre-heat oven to 425*
On a floured surface, roll dough into a  rectangle about 1/4" thick. Fold the right then left side into the middle, then fold that in half. Roll that out again and repeat the folding (This is a baking technique called laminating. It will make your pasty nice and flaky.) Shape the rectangle into a disk by hand then roll that out into a 13- to 14-inch round using a lightly floured rolling pin. As your roll, press outer edges together to prevent the edges from cracking. (It's ok if you see chunks of butter. That's actually a good thing.) Set your crust into a pie or tart dish or just put it on parchment paper and set on a cookie sheet. You don't need the pie or tart dish. It works fine and looks even more rustic without one!

Add the filling...
Put the filling in the center of the dough leaving 2-3" of dough around the filling. You can arrange the apple slices neatly, or just pile it. Fold dough up and around the filling, trying to avoid letting the dough crack. If it does, just pinch it together. Set the cubes of butter around the filling. Brush the top of the crust with the beaten egg then sprinkle with the demerara or raw sugar. Bake until crust is golden and fruit has softened, 40-50 minutes. Let pie cool before slicing so all the juices will calm down. Slice and serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. So. Much. Yum!

Let us Find Our Rest in Thee

I don’t think there’s any occasion like Christmas that swirls with as much hope and expectation...and there’s definitely no time as magical as Christmas morning for a child. As a child you go to bed and the tree is lit with a few presents tucked around the skirt and stockings hung limply by the fire then when you wake up the tree is mystically brighter, the gifts have miraculously multiplied, the stockings are more stuffed than a turkey, and even in warm California, there's an excitement makes the air feel crisp and fresh with expectation.

Expectation is why we love that movie, “A Christmas Story” with Ralphie hoping and wishing and plotting and dreaming for his Red Rider BB Gun only to have his hopes dashed in the form of ridiculous pink bunny pajamas. We’re hoping with him, laughing at him, and remembering what it’s like to want something so badly. Of course, Ralphie does get that gun and of course, he almost shoots his eye out...but it’s the longing and expectations that makes that story so relatable...

At the very center of our heart is expectation, hope, longing...longing for the perfect Christmas, the perfect family get together, the perfect gifts and the perfect memories. We were created for longing. We were designed with expectation. And this week, as we get ready for holiday visits we, like Ralphie, have expectations. We want family to come together in peace, we hope for little things like good food and bigger things like health. We want our homes to look just right and our get-togethers to feel just so...and while we may get all we hope for we should all the more be mindful of the truth that no longing, no hope, no expectation will ever satisfy outside of the ultimate hope and expectations met in the one to whom we sing...The one about whom Simeon had waited his entire life to say,

"...for my eyes have seen your salvation
that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.”


And the one that Anna the prophetess gave thanks to God for and spoke of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.

We’re all waiting for things to be right, relationships to be whole, bodies to be healed, peace to come on earth. Unlike any Christmas gift we could long for, the gift of Jesus Christ meets and exceeds all expectations. Consider that and thank Him for the true healing, hope, and peace that He brings to our expectant hearts.

As simple as it may feel to your heart today, I pray that you will see the power in thanking God for His Son who is "the heir of all things, who created the world and is the radiance of His glory and the exact imprint of His nature." We have expectations outside of God that leaves us with deep longings, so I pray as you are reading this you will confess that God alone can meet the longing of your heart, that you will understand that it is He who upholds the universe and your own small lives. God has met our expectations and we just need to breathe deeply that truth as we let go of anything or anyone who keeps us from seeing Him. 

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel's strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Easy Dover Sole with Pappardelle Pasta

This is definitely in our top ten for quick and easy dinners:

You'll need:
Pack of Trader Joe's Lemon Pappardelle Pasta (so yummy!) I do have a great recipe for my own pappardelle, but that wouldn't make this recipe quick or as easy!

Dover Sole filets - They're really thin, so get at least 2 per adult. Trader Joe's sells them frozen and they're really good.

1/2 cup AP flour
1 tsp lemon/pepper seasoning. I use Trader Joe's (of course)
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
1/4 cup minced onion
2 T olive oil
2 T butter
1/3 C grated Parmesan cheese (not the cheap crap. I shouldn't have to say that, but I better)
1/2 cup lemon juice divided
1 lemon sliced
2 T white wine (optional)

In a skillet (large enough to hold several filets without being crowded, crush capers a bit, add minced onion and 1 T of the butter until it melts, then saute about a minute. Add 1/4 c lemon juice and wine, bring to a simmer, and cook, stirring frequently, until liquid is reduced by one-third, 1 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and set aside in a separate bowl.

Prepare the pasta according to the package directions. Drain, toss with olive oil and the other T of butter, Set aside.

Mix the flour, lemon pepper, salt and pepper in a shallow dish or plate. Heat 1 T olive oil in the skillet on med. high. Pat the filets dry and lightly coat them in the flour mixture, dusting off any excess. Place in the skillet for 2 min on each side. 

Add 1 T butter to the skillet whisking until it melts then add 1/4 cup lemon juice and simmer. Add the caper sauce, the pasta (with a bit of the pasta water), add the grated cheese and toss until combined. Add butter or olive oil if needed for consistency. 

Serve the pasta and place 1-2 filets on top of each serving. Garnish with a fresh squeeze of lemon juice. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Cure for Anxiety?



When the offering plate was passed in church a little boy reached quickly into his dad’s pocket, grabbed his wallet, and tossed it in just as the plate passed on by.

“Why did you do that?!” the stunned and panicked dad asked,

“The preacher said that everything belongs to the Lord and I just figured you forgot!”

Everything does belong to the Lord. In 1st Corinthians 10, Paul quoted Psalm 24 to remind us that: “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;”

I have come to know and experience that as a completely freeing truth. 
Christmas is around the corner and with all the beauty, joy-filled songs, and fun traditions we love, comes also the tug to over-extend ourselves. With that comes the anxiety of not being able to meet up to expectations – our own or of those around us.

What's the call of this world? ...Experience the Dream! Have it all! You deserve it! We are told to taste and see that the world is good but when we go beyond a few licks we, like the Tootsie Pop Owl, find that it’s all gone too soon and leaves us unsatisfied.

Yet when we taste and see that the Lord is good, he proves to be all-satisfying – more satisfying than giving the perfect gift that everyone will be talking about, more satisfying than receiving a great present - God grants us the fullness of delight in our hearts. Psalm 145:19 promises, “He fulfills the desire of those who fear him.” Again, in Psalm 103:5, he is the one “who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

The refreshing truth is that everything is the Lord’s ought to bring us to a state of complete peace and satisfaction as we trust in Him. As for tossing your dad’s wallet in the plate, I’d direct your attention to the verse right before the one that kid quoted, "All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable.”

Father we bring it all to you today, not just our wallets but our hearts. Take what we have – it’s already yours – and use it to your glory. Bless us as we surrender all to you. In Jesus name, amen.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Day My Back Reminded Me Who's In Charge


The Day My Back Reminded Me Who's In Charge...
After teaching a class at church, I was getting into my car and my back completely gave out...totally seized and spasmed. The pain took my breath away and the suddenness would have brought me to my knees had I not been holding on to the car door. I was standing in the parking lot bracing myself against the open back door and doorframe of my car almost literally frozen because every movement, even the smallest, screamed with pain like an angry two-year-old through my body. Had this happened a few minutes earlier, there would have been plenty of people, to call out to for some help, but now... No one...I just stood there bracing myself on my car frame looking down at my oils in the back seat juuuuust out of reach. My "Dr. Bombay Oils" as my friend likes to call them... then a car pulled in to the handicapped spot about 30 feet from me... An elderly man got out and I watched him head in toward the church. I stood awkwardly half leaning half standing there trying to decide if I was being a big baby or if I was really in that much pain....and maybe I should call out for a little help to at least move and sit down... and reach my oils. He went up and knocked on the door, which normally people don't do. They just walk on in... But my pastor came to the door and started chatting with him. I was still deciding if I could actually be in that much pain and if I should holler out across the courtyard for a hand so I adjusted myself and tried to get into the car... NOPE! A million needles gouged my lower back, "Jay!" I called out meekly. He didn't hear me. I waited. Watched him and the gentleman chat. Readjusted my stance... Owwwwch!.... "Jay!!! " ... Nothing. He and the nice elderly man continued to chat. By now my arms were getting shaky from supporting my weight bracing between the door and the frame and I was regretting not having eaten any protein as I could feel my blood sugar plummeting.... In fact, I was heading to G-Burger for a big meaty protein burger when this all started.
C'mon, I can't be that debilitated! I didn't even do anything odd or strenuous! Sheesh. What the heck? I thought.
"You should do more workouts for your core.".... my fitness guru sister's voice in my head piped in.
Doing "more "would mean I had been doing any at all. (Don't tell her.)
I tried again to ease down into the car ... But now the screaming two-year-old had invited her bratty friends and they were playing twister with my muscles.
" JAaAAaaAY!!".. That did the trick, and Jay turned toward me... "I'm stuck. I can't move. Help!"
Later he told me when he got to the car my face was gray. Gray! I felt red hot, but I guess the color turned ashen gray by the time it reached my face... He helped me sit down, and I pointed out my oil box to him. At first we were going to walk into the church, but I couldn't get that far. We moved slowly around the back of my car to the front passenger side, and he helped me lower down into the front passenger seat. I directed Jay to my box 'O oily awesomeness so I could layer on what I knew would be most likely to help. (By the way, this isn't a story ploy to peddle my oils, but I will say, getting them on took the edge off enough for me to breathe and stop tensing up so much.) I sat there for several minutes and my pastor made sure I was ok; even went and got me a bag of almonds from his office because by now I was pretty low and quite shaky. The oils kicked in a bit, and Jay slowly helped me back to the driver's side of the car. It occurred to me at that moment that I was glad I didn't have my Miata yet. Oh, someday I'll have one. Maybe by then I'll have listened to my sister and my core will be nice 'n strong so lowering down into my cute little silver (or red) Miata won't be excruciating. Anyway, my chiropractor is right around the corner so with one last, "Are you sure you're OK?" from Jay, and a final lie that I was from me, I headed over to my bone cracker.
When I pulled up, I noticed a teen girl and her beautiful chocolate lab waiting out front of the veterinary office next door. I got myself out of the car wincing and doing Lamaze style breaths and, balancing my shaky steps with my right hand on the car, I inched pathetically toward the doctor's office. Have you ever felt like if you just said to your body, "Knock it off. It can't hurt this bad." it would just work? And you'd breathe a nice deep breath and the pain would just relax away? Well, just as I was about to say that to myself, the young girl's dog barked startling me which sent a jolting spasm right back through my barely ambulatory body and that notion vanished. Nope. No talking myself out of this one. I made it to the doctor's door and it was then, as I reached for the handle, that I remembered the last time I was here and how when I pulled the door open I thought how heavy it was and I wondered if anyone ever had any trouble opening it seeing as it's a chiropractor's office and probably older and more feeble folks than I might have a time with it. Well, my instincts were right. I couldn't budge that door... It had only been 9 months since my last visit but I was the older and more feeble folk! I peered through the tinted front window and rapped on it to get the receptionist's attention. Then tapped again so she'd grasp my situation. I literally could barely stand upright let alone open the door. She came out from behind her desk and helped me in. I eased myself into the first available seat with a pained breath and let her know I needed to see the doc ASAP.
"He's no available until tree." she said sweetly in a thick accent. It was two o'clock.
"I'll wait. I can't go anywhere anyway."
She went and got the sign-in paperwork and clipboard and I tried to relax. After filling in the intake form and circling the body diagram and giving a location and number to my pain level (there was no place to write a kazillion so I circled the 10) I realized there was no way I could wait in that chair until three. At this point, I was actually holding back tears. I called out to the receptionist, and seeing my face with a couple of runaway tears sneaking down my gray cheeks she grasped the seriousness of my pain level. She went and got the doctor. Dr. O'Connor is old school as far as chiropractors go. It's one of the reasons I like him. He's also a godly man. He actually prayed with me the last time I went in. He extended his arms to help me stand up and we moved, my arms bracing on his for support, ridiculously slowly down the office hall to room #3, only mid-way, and I'm not sure why because I don't remember what he asked me, we altered course and went to room #4. Too bad it couldn't have been room #1 or #2, they were closer to the waiting room. We made it to room 4 and he eased me onto the exam table. He asked the appropriate, "Do you know what caused this episode?" questions and I embarrassingly admitted that nothing fantastic had precipitated the incident. I shoulda fabricated a dashing tale of rescuing a kitten but my pathetic truth, "I was getting into my car." would have to suffice.
He did some motion tests, some twisty tolerance tests, a couple bendy assessments and tapped on my knees with his rubber hammer. That one always startles me, and I usually kick so fiercely that I should probably come with a warning label.
Feeling still pretty shaky due to my blood sugar issue, I asked the doc if he had any nuts or cheese around. He didn't, but he thoughtfully offered to get some cheese from the Mexican restaurant next door. He called the receptionist and asked her to go next door to get some cheese. "Chips?" she asked, "No, cheese. Just ask if we can have some cheese, and I'll pay them back later."
"Ok."
We did a couple more tests. Does it hurt when you laugh or cough? I don't think so.
When you move like this? No.
Bend like that? Yes. Ouchie-wow-wah! Yes!
A couple of minutes later and the receptionist returned. With a bag of chips.
"Cheese. She needs protein. Can you go back and ask for cheese?"
"I thought you say cheeps."
"No, Imelda. Cheese. Chips are carbs. She needs cheese... Protein."
Sweet Imelda left again for the cheese and I, laughing quietly, confirmed with the doc, that it indeed didn't hurt when I laughed.
I made it through the rest of the exam and treatment and got outfitted with a snug and schnazzy back brace. Still moving gingerly but moving, I listened to his instructions, "Wear it all the time, just not when you sleep."
"How 'bout when I go kickboxing?"
--he glanced up expressionless from over his clipboard...
"Totally joking. " I said.
Ha. 

So, for all the times I didn't appreciate you, over-worked you, didn't stretch you, I say, "Thank you, back."

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Jesus - Best Brother

From the Dwelling Richly Bible Study:
Hebrews 2:14-18

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Are you seeing the amazing compassion of Jesus here? Jesus did what he didn’t have to do – for me, for you. Maybe you’re like me and you often find yourself feeling that it would be nice if only you knew what was coming. Like, maybe it would just be so much easier to trust in God if we knew how it was all going to work out. Consider that kind of thinking and apply it to Jesus. He lived his life and he knew exactly what was coming. In Gethsemane, hours from the cross, Jesus, knowing what was to come, prayed that the cup of his suffering might pass from him, and yet, he still surrendered to the will of the Father. We have no idea what it would have been like to have lived an entire life knowing that awful day of crucifixion was coming. And yet Jesus Christ chose to do that for you.

I lost a dear friend to cancer the week I wrote this study. He came into my life because he fell in love with my one of my dearest and truest friends. He was the man of her dreams and he became the brother of my dreams. I always wanted a big brother and always imagined he’d be just like David. He would have come to my aid and did at a moment’s notice. He laughed with me, cried with me, got angry with me and on my behalf. He cheered me on and made me feel like I could do anything.

This chapter of Hebrews took on a special significance as it reminded me all the more of how precious it is to have a true brother. A companion who knows me, loves me, and comes to my aid. Jesus was far better than an earthly brother. He did something that David never could have. Jesus became my brother and then made amends for me with God. He hung in my place. He treasured me and as it says in Psalm 22, he will be singing my praises in the middle of all the redeemed, and in Revelation, he’ll silence for good my accuser, Satan. That’s the best kind of big brother. One day, hopefully soon, my earthly brother David and I will be reunited with our Heavenly Father and our brother Jesus. For now, I will not neglect the great salvation that Jesus has given me. I may in this time not see everything in subjection to Him, but I do see Him, and that makes all the difference in the world. Today, David sees Him face to face.
What a glorious day!

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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Ephesians 5:3-16



What if we took the time today to consider letting only words of thanksgiving come out of your mouth today? Stuck in traffic? Thanksgiving. Someone cuts in front of you? Thanksgiving. A work issue remains unresolved? Thanksgiving. Friend or spouse is annoying? Thanksgiving. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Ephesians Read-Through (#4)


Join the study and read through Ephesians with me today. This is our fourth read-through of the epistle of Ephesians, and if you've been with us since the beginning of this study, then you know that every time we've learned something new! Today we'll focus on the big picture ideas from the first and then second halves of Paul's epistle - the foundational truth of our faith (doctrine) and the way that we should live as a result of that truth (duty.) Follow the La Mirada Christian Church women's ministry - Faith and Fellowship - on Facebook and Instagram as well as right here on my YouTube channel and be sure to subscribe to the Dwelling Richly podcast on iTunes or any podcast app.
Download the study at www.lamiradachurch.com on the Women's ministry Bible study page. Subscribe to the "Dwelling Richly" podcast.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Three things to know about yourself - Hint...it's not what you think.


I suppose it’s possible, sadly, that the power and impact of this mystery feels diluted for us reading it today. I’ve known Christ as my Savior for over 40 years. But I don’t want to read this passage like an old news article. I want for myself, and I pray for you reading this as well, that we would embrace this exciting revelation as if we were reading it with fresh eyes. Paul’s prayer was that we would know “the hope...the riches...the power toward us who believe.” That’s what I want to know today. And all that is missed if I don’t see the fabulous news – that I am a fellow heir – along with Abraham! – in the promise of Christ. Abraham’s inheritance is mine. It’s sealed and guaranteed in the Holy Spirit. The promise to Israel is a promise to me as well. I want to be in a constant state of awe and for what has been done for me through Christ Jesus, and I want to live this day walking not as I could still be – “following the course of this world” – but as I now am: “blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.”

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Ephesians 2:11-16 Once far...Now brought near.

Jesus’ purpose in coming to this earth was not to oppose the law. He was not trying to keep it from being fulfilled. Instead, Jesus loved the law. He was the one who gave it at Sinai! “The Law of the Lord is perfect! Sweeter than honey and the honeycomb.” (Psalm 19). Like He said in Matthew, He came to fulfill it because we could not. In addition, Jesus broke down the barrier that the law had made between Jew and Gentile. The Law and all the ordinances established by God pointed to Him. Now that He has come and fulfilled the law’s prophetic utterances regarding Himself, He has made it unnecessary as a legally binding institution. He fulfilled it and in so doing, abolished the law of commandments as it was expressed in the ordinances. In Matthew 5:17 the word translated “abolish” is “καταλύω” (kataluo) meaning “to destroy, tear down.” In Ephesians 2:15 the word translated “abolish” is “καταργέω” (katargeo) which means “to make of no effect, separate from.” Because Jesus perfectly kept the law, He rendered it of no effect in continuing to keep us separated from God and in so doing, He brought Jew and Gentile both near to God and also together as one “chosen people” because, “to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”  (John 1:12)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Ephesians 2:1-3 Who are we, really?



Why do we love those extreme makeover programs? Whether its a shaggy, unkempt man, a tired woman stuck in the 80s, or a home in serious need of repairs, we love a before and after story because we are amazed at the transformation! If they just showed us the "after" we wouldn't be so excited, but in comparison to the before it's quite stunning. There's hope. There's awe. There's a sense that maybe we could transform our body, our hair, our home, our whatever too! 
Today we'll go through a passage that lays out our "before." It's not pretty. It's pretty ugly actually. 
Until we understand the reality of our situation, we cannot truly appreciate the grace of God. Unless we know our sin and to see it for what it is, and unless we who have given our lives to Jesus remember where we could have been, then we will never grasp the “riches of his glorious inheritance.” The lie, and perhaps the greatest lie, of Satan is that we don’t really need a Savior. We can do this life our own way. We must identify the problem before we can receive the solution. We live in a fallen, sin-stained world and we are fallen and sin-stained ourselves. But – and we’ll see this tomorrow - God's grace is greater than all our sin. May God give us “the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him” so we may truly know what is the hope to which he has called us.


Monday, August 28, 2017

Read Through Ephesians...again?


Today we're reading through Ephesians...again. What? Haven't we already done that? Yep. If you've been with the study since we started Ephesians, you recall that the first thing we did before getting into the study was to read through the book. Doing that is so important to truly studying the Bible. Reading through the entire book - or letter, actually - gives us the sense of the content, the heart of Paul for the Ephesians, the main ideas and themes. We see the big picture. But why do it again this week? Well, like any thing you look over again, you'll see something you hadn't noticed before.

Flying home from my trip back east, I saw the Grand Canyon for the first time. The view from the plane even that high up showed how vast and beautiful it was. Then, a few months later I had the chance to visit the Grand Canyon up close. Seeing it in person is staggering - really. It's hard to take it all in because of its sheer size. But what an amazing experience to touch the ground, smell the air, see the trees and shrubs clinging to the canyon walls, the orange and burnt toast colored dirt. The next time I flew over the Grand Canyon I couldn't wait to see it again. From way up there I could make out the general area we had walked. I remembered the way the sides sloped down and found myself picturing that last trip even more vividly.

Re-reading Ephesians will give us a similar experience. We've done a fly-over and we've walked through chapter one. Now, we'll fly over again and see with new eyes. Eyes that have noticed smaller details and eyes that have seen the big picture. But this time through we'll make better connections. As you read along today, I am praying that the eyes of your heart will be enlightened to the power in these Words of God through Paul. Let's do this!

Monday, August 7, 2017

1 Peter 4:1-19 What can we do to walk closer to Christ today?


Download the Bible study at www.LaMiradaChurch.com on the Women's ministry Bible study page, then listen along daily at 7am on Facebook live or any time on the YouTube channel or Dwelling Richly podcast .

Sunday, August 6, 2017

What Are We Saying with Our Offering?

When we place our offering in the plate, what are we saying?
   I’m thankful for this way I can contribute?
   I’m hopeful for the future and want to support it here?
   I’m glad for this this tax deduction?
   I was raised doing this, so I’ll keep on with that tradition?
   I hope God notices that I’m doing my part?
   I hope this is used to buy more jelly filled donuts?
Maybe on any given Sunday a bit of each?

In God’s Word, when His people gathered and gave, we always see their actions marked by a single distinctive – joy, gladness, cheer...why? Because of the overwhelming sense of thankfulness in what God had accomplished and the sense of hope that being in community brings when we are moving toward accomplishing God’s will in great ways.

Listen to what David wrote and the song that the people sang when they brought the ark of God’s promise into the tent:
Oh, give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;
    make known his deeds among the peoples!
9 Sing to him, sing praises to him;
    tell of all his wondrous works!
10 Glory in his holy name;
    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
11 Seek the Lord and his strength;
    seek his presence continually!
12 Remember the wondrous works that he has done,
    his miracles and the judgments he uttered...
23 Sing to the Lord, all the earth!
    Tell of his salvation from day to day.
24 Declare his glory among the nations,
    his marvelous works among all the peoples!
25 For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
    and he is to be feared above all gods.                      (from 1 Chronicles 16)
As you consider your offering, be mindful of not only what it is going to allow people to do for God’s kingdom, but be thankful for what it has already done.

Consider that through this faithfulness you are making a way to “make known among the nations what He has done.”
That through this offering you will “tell of all His wonderous acts”
And that in so doing, the hearts of those “who seek the Lord” will rejoice!

~ Jennifer Richmond
Bible Study Author/Women’s Pastor

Friday, July 28, 2017

James 5:13-18 How's Your Prayer Life?



How's your prayer life? I'm always so thankful for this passage as it gets me to thinking and even better, to praying about my prayer life. I can't help but be challenged and inspired by men of faith who did outrageous things for God. Is that all over now? Do people not pray in boldness and confidence any more? In today's study we'll look at what God's Word says about prayer.


Saturday, July 1, 2017

I Have Hard Days Too


This was a hard week.

A little background... In 2013, my husband sobered up after nearly 20 years of alcoholism, rage, and addiction related issues. Until that point, our marriage had been severely damaged by his violent outbursts and abuse. Through a gut-wrenching, potentially devastating incident, God reached into my husband’s heart and mind on the evening of May 5, 2013 and Glen fully confessed, repented, and truly surrendered his heart back to his Savior. I had married a godly, Christ-centered man in 1988 - on May 5, 2013, I got him back. Actually, I got a more mature and humble man back.

Since that night, we have been on a steady path of healing and restoration. We have joy again, peace again, trust and hope again. It's been hard - don't get me wrong - but it has been blessed nonetheless.

There are many difficult bumps along a road to true healing. One of the most difficult of mine has been dealing with the scars of trauma that Glen’s past violent behavior left on my heart. As much as I have fully forgiven him and as thoroughly as we have been restored, I have had to deal with anxiety and distrust when something comes up that gives me a flashback.

This past week, hours before I was to speak and share my testimony at a women's event at our church, Glen, who works from our home, had a setback. He didn't fall off the wagon and drink, but he lost his temper over a business situation and the angry words, while not directed at me, still swirled and echoed around the house as he processed the issue and dealt with the other person involved. I listened from the other room hoping for him to regain his composure and calmness, but the situation escalated, and I began fearing that not only was this situation unraveling, but my husband was as well.

I had to leave to get away from the sounds of anger, but I had to leave to get ready for my talk that night. I gathered my Bible, notebook, and computer, backed out of the driveway - trembling, worried, nervous - and made it around the corner. The post-traumatic response of panic and anxiety was coming over me as I quaked under the stress of hearing Glen’s furious tone. I decided to pull over and breathe and pray for him and for myself. “Oh God. Please don’t let us lose so much. Please help Glen hear your voice through this. Please help me breathe and move and trust you...” I cried there in the car feeling powerless and concerned that in a few hours I would be standing before women sharing my testimony of how God had delivered my husband from alcoholism and abusive behavior and yet, what would I come home to? Would it all be gone? Would he have done something reactionary and foolish? Was this it? Had we made it to the four-year mark only to lose it again? My imagination was flooded with panic and fear for our future.

Getting back on the road, I headed for my study spot and just prayed and drove. I pictured each of the women who would be coming out to hear me speak in a few hours. I thought about the food and the lights and the table settings...I imagined the fellowship and laughter and the openness to what they would be hearing and experiencing...and I became distinctly aware that there were spiritual forces at work – to rob our joy, destroy our lives, kill our hope – not just mine and Glen’s but these women's too! In the same moment, still sensing the spiritual nature of this incident, I realized that it’s not just darkness trying to overcome us, but that there was love and hope and power – the ultimate power of God to vanquish this darkness and I heard God speak in my heart: “Do you trust me?”

As clear as the street light switching to green in front of me was the voice of God to my anxious heart. “Do. You. Trust. Me?”
Yes. Yes I really do. I was so scared and still shaking, but, yes – I totally do trust you, God. You are the only reason why I’m alive today. You are the only reason why our marriage is beautiful again. You are the creator of the universe and you can heal and restore this again. I. Trust. You.
I breathed in His peace in that moment. I wiped away a tear. I reached out to His truth, recalled how far we had come and how deeply He had healed Glen and me. I rehearsed victory instead of imagining defeat. I opened my mind to the Words of God that I had memorized...
“...trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding...”
“...the joy of the Lord is your strength...”
“...Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid....”

Here’s what happened...I reached out to key prayer partners with no specific details, just a request for covering in prayer, and I went to do my writing and preparations for the talk. I had several hours to be with God and in the Word of God and just write and pray. In that time, rather than feeling consumed and distracted by the looming darkness of the morning’s incident, I felt free, focused, and peace-filled. My thoughts were not on the stress but on the blessing of the evening ahead and the words that God wanted the women to hear that night.

Supernaturally, I was able to set aside my anxiety, relax into His peace, and be filled with stillness and focus. Women related to my testimony and shared their tears of hope and relief that they felt someone could relate to their story too. This is what we want – real community. Honesty. No pretense. I prayed with several women that night, and throughout that week I prayed with even more. I saw that God is doing a healing work in our lives as we all truly trust Him and surrender our deepest hurts and greatest longings to His will. 

The next day, a dear friend reached out to Glen to be a sounding board and helpful beacon for what he knew in his heart needed to happen. Glen was able to step back and ultimately restore the situation both at work and with me. What in the past would have meant a total derailment and weeks of drinking and depression, was restored in hours. I reached out for help to talk through my panic and PTSD response as well. The remainder of this week has been a time of healing and remembering the goodness and grace of God who is strong when we are weak.

What’s interesting is, once again, I lived out the theme of my talk: “Unexpected Hope” and the crux of my message: God’s Word is the key to our true healing. From the panic and fear in the beginning of the week to the total peace and hope as the week progressed, it was God and His powerful, living Word that kept me strong, brought hope, and enabled my husband’s restoration.

As I shared in the talk, never think that “so and so” has it all together. We're all just going through life. It's not that we're being fake - I trust that you're not - it's that life happens, real, hard, unexpected icky life...and we move. What matters is what we move toward. In my heart, I want to always move toward God and the peace and strength and stillness He provides as I truly surrender to Him.

Tomorrow I’ll be at work, or I'll go to a bunco night out, or I'll be posting on Facebook, and I’m sure there will be those who will be completely unaware of the battles Glen and I have faced in our life and this most recent and difficult week. Most will never have heard our story or read this post, and many will simply assume that the lady who writes and speaks and pastors the women at her church must have it all together.

But you know differently. You know the truth. I’m just a regular woman with regular challenges and regular fears who regularly gets on her knees before God to ask for strength and peace and hope again and again.

I pray that you will see the power of that hope found only in God and His Word today. I am praying for you as I write this that you will be transparent with others in your circle and especially your church about what you are going through. Reach out for help and prayer. Get support in your desire to really trust God. Let us all truly be the church as it was meant to be – community in Christ.
~Jennifer

p.s. You can join the women’s Bible study I lead daily at 7am live on Facebook @lmccwomen or at www.Zoom.us/j/5627554964. You can also listen to the Bible study, meditations, and messages by getting the podcast on iTunes or any podcast app. Just search “Dwelling Richly.” Not sure how to connect? Call, email, or text me. I’d love to help.
For a .pdf of this original message, click here

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