Fruit From the Vine: I love Fridays

“Therefore [in light of salvation], preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:13

I love Fridays.  Not because my life gets easier or my work load gets reduced. I have 2 small children, nothing gets easier, no matter what day it is. I don’t love Fridays and weekends because I get to sleep in, because I don’t. I love Fridays because I love the weekend. I love Fridays because my I love my husband. On the weekends, he is home (for most of it) and the family is together, re-united and united. We do things together. Even if it’s brushing our teeth, or preparing dinner, we’re together.

In preparation for the weekend, on Friday’s I extra clean the house. I try to keep the house tidy anyway, but on Fridays I clean in an expectant way. The floors get mopped, desks get organized and clutter is removed. In addition, a special family dinner is made that everyone can look forward to, and I spend the day anticipating the activities and togetherness that our night and weekend together will bring. My husband is coming home to stay and that makes all the difference in my attitude, service to him, and preparation for his return.

How much more, in exponential proportions, can this attitude, this anticipation, this expectancy be for Jesus. He is returning. He is not returning for His bride in wrath or in condemnation, but with GRACE! To set our hope fully on this, is to do the first part of the verse- prepare for action. As much as I love to work, sweat and labor for my husbands’ ceasing from his weekday work and as much as I anticipate his return, it is just a foretaste of the return of our Hope.

So may I work, sweat, prepare, and serve God because His return is imminent and I long to spend eternity with him, the same way only much greater than the way I long for the weekends.  May you as well! Do some serious spring cleaning right now in your life, Christian. Set your hope on grace at His return by clearing the clutter of messed-up priorities, mopping the floors of your heart, washing the windows so that you can see clearly, and making something special (with your life) for the Savior.  Don’t let sin get a foothold, take out the trash of bitterness, envy and pride, and work hard for your remaining days. Don’t be slothful or lazy, don’t be selfish, don’t be worldly. Don’t just go to Church and be a stagnant Christian. Don’t bury your treasure, don’t hide your talent. Don’t set your hope in possessions or relationships, in an easy life or in everything working out so that you can live the dream. And please don’t set your hope on being “happy”. No, no no, please no. Set your hope FULLY on GRACE!

If you aren’t excited, get excited. Meditate on the Word, spend time praying, serve the Church and your neighbors, disciple others, share the gospel, invest in spiritual things and reap spiritual rewards. Adore Christ as your highest Treasure, anticipating with great joy that “the weekend” is coming soon!

Book Review: The Gospel Story Bible

Wow, I am incredibly behind in my reading. I can’t fully blame it on this, but I will try: I am reading a 17th century classic and it’s tough. It’s one of the best books I have ever read so far, but it is tough in parts, nonetheless. Every other sentence I have to read and re-read. So it is setting me back some. I will have to play catch-up here soon with my 2012 Book List. In the meantime, here is a great Children’s Bible that is worth reading DAILY with your children.

I have praised the Jesus Storybook Bible in the past. It is a great Children’s Bible and we were reading it without missing a night. Then we discovered this one and bought it for our kids for Christmas. We haven’t read the Jesus Storybook Bible since December 24th. We will return to it, when we are finished with this one. We love it and so do our children. And to be honest, the (true) stories in here are a little longer and more complex, adding in more facts and bringing in more details to each story. I would say the age recommendations on both are accurate. This one sometimes goes above my 4 year old’s head. But it also has a smattering of stories that our other Children’s Bible’s do not include, like Rahab and Ruth, for example. And it’s always nice to mix it up to keep it fresh and hold their interest.

But what I love most about this Bible isn’t the variety or the fact that we haven’t read it before. It is the Gospel-Centeredness of it (as the title would imply). Written by a Pastor, the last paragraph of every story brings it back to Jesus, salvation, Christ’s work, God’s plan. It never leaves it at David and Goliath and the author doesn’t let you put your kids to bed teaching them moralistic lessons on how to not be like Samson or how Noah was so good and that’s why God saved him but killed all the others. He brings it back to what the Bible brings it back to, what the Gospel brings it back to, and that is JESUS.

Thank God that there is yet another children’s Bible that shows Christ on every page.

Rating: A. Highly Recommended!

Title: The Gospel Story Bible: Discovering Jesus in the Old and New Testaments
Author: Marty Machowski
Length: 328 pages
Genre: Kid’s Bibles

Weekly Dish: Brussel Sprouts with Sweet Potatoes and Honey

I have no picture for you, as this dish doesn’t exactly exude beauty. But it is pretty good! My 4-year-old said, “This is the best dinner ever.” Granted, he has said that a lot lately, and then hated the meal the next time I tried to serve it. But really, this is a great way to get these superfood veggies into your diet and onto your family dinner table without any groaning from the kids and/or slipping to the dog under the table.

4 strips uncured bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 onion, finely chopped
2 pounds brussels sprouts, thinly sliced and ends and outer leaves removed
1/4 teaspoon Real Salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans, optional
3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
1/3 cup raw honey (could also use Grade B real Maple Syrup)
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Minced Italian parsley, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400.

In a skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Remove and set aside. Reduce heat to low; add onion and cook about 5 minutes until translucent.

Add brussels sprouts and cook, stirring frequently until slightly soft, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and add reserved bacon, salt, pepper and pecans. Add Sweet potato slices to pan and cook until light brown, about 3 minutes per side (at this point you may need to add a little drizzle of Olive or Coconut oil or a splash or water to the pan).

In a small bowl, whisk together honey and butter.

Toss all ingredients in a dish and bake 20 minutes, uncovered. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Book Review: Real Marriage

I am so grateful that the Driscoll’s wrote this book.

The whole book is worthy of highlights. The chapters are about friendship, being a man, being a respectful wife, fighting, sexual assault and abuse, pornography, and other issues extremely relevant for marriage.

There were two major take aways for me personally. These will be different for everyone, I’m sure, and I would love to hear what spoke to your marriage the most.

For me, #1 take-away: They talk about 3 ways to do marriage: shoulder-to-shoulder, face-to-face, and back-to-back. Shoulder-to-shoulder is what you want, with lots of face-to-face in there. It is so easy to neglect face-to-face and do shoulder-to-shoulder, working beside each other in life, ministry, kids, household, etc..

The other take away was the last chapter on Reverse Engineering your marriage. It is revolutionary and has already helped my good marriage in great ways. It is basically living intentionally in your marriage, deciding what you want your lives and marriage to look like in 2, 5, 10 years and writing that down. Then working toward those goals in your daily decisions and habits. Not letting life happen to your marriage, but being in charge of the direction your marriage takes. Preventative medicine vs. antibiotics and surgery.

I hope that every single person, married or desiring to be married, reads this book.

It is different in many ways than the other marriage book I recently reviewed and recommended, “What Did You Expect?” by Paul Tripp. Both are incredible with differing approaches and both are my go-to recommended marriage books.

Mark Driscoll has also taught through the chapters in a recent sermon series at his church in Seattle. Go to Mars Hill’s website to listen and watch.

Rating: A. Highly Recommended!

Title: Real Marriage: The Truth about Sex, Friendship, and Life Together
Author: Mark and Grace Driscoll
Length: 272 pages
Genre: Marriage

Weekly Dish: Blue Cheese Dressing

If you’re thinking this is not the healthiest thing you could put on your salad… you would be wrong! Full of good bacteria, this version is. Especially if you can find Raw Milk Blue Cheese Crumbles like we can in these parts.

Here you go:


1.5 cups blue cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup buttermilk*
1-2 garlic cloves
3/4 – 1 cup  yogurt or sour cream*
1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon Real Salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Using a fork, mash the blue cheese, buttermilk, and garlic together in a bowl until the mixture resembles cottage cheese. Stir in yogurt/sour cream, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper. The dressing can be refrigerated up to 4 days; stir to recombine before using.

*Adjust buttermilk/yogurt for desired thickness.

Weekly Dish: Best-Stir Fry Ever!

Wow, this meal was incredible. It is a recipe from Martha Stewart’s Whole Living Magazine, slightly adapted. The thing I love most about it, besides the fact that it’s the best stir fry I’ve ever tasted, is that it is a no-waste meal… using even the stems of the swiss chard!

Swiss Chard, Snap Peas & Beef Stir Fry (A.K.A. Best Stir Fry Ever!)

4 Tablespoons olive or coconut oil (NO vegetable oil or Canola oil)
6 ounces sirloin steak, thinly sliced
1-2 T soy sauce or Liquid Aminos
Real salt
1 Tablespoon minced ginger
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon hot chili paste/sauce (such as Sriracha or Sambal Oelek)
6 ounces snow peas or sugar snap peas, ends trimmed
1 bunch Swiss chard
1 lime

1. Thinly slice steak and sprinkle soy sauce over it to season lightly or season with Real salt to avoid soy. Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tablespoon oil and swirl to coat. Cook steak, stirring until beef is golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

2. Add another Tablespoon oil to the pan and swirl to coat. Add garlic, ginger, scallions, chile sauce, peas, and 1 pound thinly sliced Swiss chard stems (remove and tear leaves into 2-inch pieces and reserve). Cook, stirring often, until snap peas are bright green and crisp, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with beef.

3. Add another Tablespoon oil to pan and swirl to coat. Add half of Swiss chard leaves and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 1-2 minutes. Transfer to bowl with beef and veggies and repeat with remaining Tablespoon oil and chard.

4. Return everything to pan, heat briefly, and season with salt. Squeeze with lime juice, toss to coat, and serve immediately.

Other variations: Add onion, shiitake mushrooms, cabbage, hot peppers, chicken, bok choy, tomatoes, roasted cashews. This dish could probably take anything you could think to throw into it.

Serve with brown rice, quinoa, or brown rice noodles.

Tip: Have your ingredients prepped and ready before you start cooking as stir frying moves fast! Don’t put too many things in the pan at once; they will steam instead of stir-fry!