Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Biggest Lie About Surrender – and Why You Can’t Afford to Believe It

Two things, 1. Check out the info at the end of the post in order to enter to win a free copy of It's all Under Control. And 2. today's post has generously been shared with you by Jennifer Dukes Lee, author of It's All Under Control. Go get your copy of it today! You will not regret it! So without further ado, here's Jennifer...



If you asked me five years ago, I naively would have told you that I didn’t struggle with control. I mean, seriously— as long as everything went exactly the way I hoped, I was totally flexible.

It’s not that I wanted to control other people. Mostly, I wanted to control myself. If I ever had high expectations of anyone, it was of me. I wanted to present the self-assured, together version of my whole being. Which means I craved control over my face, my emotions, my body, my food, my words, my house, my schedule, my yard, my future.

My preference was a tidy, predictable, safe life where no one got hurt, where my kids remained in one piece, where there was no pain for anyone ever again, amen. I said I trusted God but had reached the point where I realized I actually didn’t. As a Jesus girl, this shocked me.

Clearly, my old systems of coping weren’t working: My desire to obsessively orchestrate my whole life was burning me out.

As a mom, I heard myself snapping at my kids. As a ministry leader, I knew that I was functioning within my call, but I didn’t feel fulfilled. I was tired, even after a regular night’s sleep. And I found myself zoning out during conversations with my husband, because I was mentally making lists of everything I needed to get done.

In short, I ran out of gas.

Maybe the empty tank was God’s way of bringing me to a dead stop, so I would finally pay attention. It worked. God got my attention, and maybe he’s trying to get yours too.

Imagine that it’s you who’s run out of gas. Maybe that doesn’t take much imagining after all, because like me, you’re tired of trying to hold it together. You want to keep it all under control, but things aren’t working out the way you planned.

When you and I began to follow Jesus, we relinquished control over our lives. But because we suffer from the chronic condition known as being human we constantly try to steal that control back.

My wake-up call happened when I realized that the battle for my heart was regularly being fought inside the tiny squares of my to-do list.

I began to ask myself this question: “What are the things that, if they were taken away, would shatter the identity I have created?”

Was it my work? My calendar? My efforts to shield my children from pain and suffering? This urge to always say yes?

For me, the answer was: “All of the above.” I was trying to be the CEO of everything.

Jesus delivered a sobering reminder: You will never know if you can trust Me if you don’t give Me the chance to prove it.

I recommitted myself to a life surrendered to Jesus’ plans for my life. But something felt … off … when I considered what surrender truly meant.

I accidentally bought into a weird idea that surrendered living meant mostly that I needed to “do less.” Yet that was unrealistic because so much of life clearly couldn’t be opted out of. People depended on me. I had kids to feed. A house to manage. Books to write.

Most people can’t simply fire their lives and move on when it gets too chaotic. We can’t stop managing a household, cancel all our appointments, and spend the rest of our days on a floatie in the middle of a lake.

Here’s what I began to learn: Surrendered living is much more than “doing less.” It’s being more of who God created us to be.

Yes, I totally need more chill in my life, and maybe you do too. But here’s the full truth about surrender:

Surrender doesn’t come with some unrealistic demand that you are suddenly going to stop being the incredibly brave and brilliant woman that you are. Real surrender appreciates God’s remarkable design in you.

Do you know what a wonder you are?

You don’t settle. You are the sort of woman we can count on to meet a work deadline, organize a food drive, take in the neighbors’ kids during an emergency, drive your coworker to chemo, counsel a friend at 3 a.m. by text message, keep track of everyone’s appointments, and make sure we’re all wearing seat belts before you drive us on the three-day adventure that you single-handedly arranged. We need you.

We need take-charge, charitable women like you as doctors and nurses in operating rooms where details like “proper disinfectant” matter. Let me tell it to you straight: If you have an inner control freak, I’m hoping you’ll let her bust loose like nobody’s business if someone I love is on your operating table. We need responsible women like you to control all the bleeding.

We also need you in charge of schools, nonprofits, and Fortune 500 companies. We need rock-star women like you to show us that surrender isn’t “lie down in a pile.” It’s “march forward like a warrior.” Sometimes surrendering to God will require you to do the hardest work you’ve ever done in your life: take in another foster child, fight for your marriage, kick cancer where the sun don’t shine, or refuse to capitulate to the persistent drubbing from Satan.

Girl, listen up. We count on you. You are a woman fervently devoted to God’s calling on your life, not only in your work but also in your relationships. Of course, as Carrie Underwood will sing to you, Jesus is definitely taking the wheel. But make no mistake: There are times when he’s going to ask you to do some driving.

Don’t think of Jesus as your chauffeur; he is more like your driver’s ed coach. He’s there to teach you His rules of the road. Friend, do not fear the wheel. You have been equipped to drive—and Jesus is beside you when you steer the wrong way. Hopefully He will pull the emergency brake if necessary, and I’ve personally put in a request for roads lined with padded walls.
 The windows are rolled down, the music is cranked, the tank is full, and there’s something that looks like freedom on the horizon.

Out on the open road, may you feel the reassuring love of Jesus. On this journey toward surrender, you’ll discover that, at last, it really is all under control: God’s.

BIO: Jennifer Dukes Lee is the wife of an Iowa farmer, mom to two girls, and an author. She loves queso and singing too loudly to songs with great harmony. Once upon a time, she didn’t believe in Jesus. Now, He’s her CEO. Jennifer’s newest book, It’s All Under Control, and a companion Bible study, are releasing today! This is a book for every woman who is hanging on tight and trying to get each day right―yet finding that life often feels out of control and chaotic. Adapted from It’s All under Control: A Journey of Letting Go, Hanging On, and Finding a Peace You Almost Forgot Was Possible by Jennifer Dukes Lee, releasing this fall from Tyndale House Publishers.



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Monday, September 17, 2018

It's All Under Control by Jennifer Dukes Lee




Me in all my crazi-mess glory
Since I've started reading this book, I've had to come to terms with the fact that I am very much not in control. My kid turned another year older and is starting high school, no control over that. The lawn mower decided to stop working, we fixed it but still, can't control when that will happen. My computer stopped working and had to get a new one, can't control that. One of our cats has been sick for the past week and it's not looking so good for her, can't control that. All sorts of small things busting, breaking, ripping, just not doing what I expect of them.

But this book, it's about more than just those things that are out of your control. It's also about empowering you to really grasp and take charge of the things you are in control of. The overarching message that I got while reading this book is "There are some things that only I can do. I can't pawn them off on others and I can't ignore them to take on work that isn't mine in the first place." I have to be me and do what I was created to do.

There are several quizzes, flowcharts, etc in the book and available as a free resource on the book's website (www.itsallundercontrolbook.com) that are meant to help you figure out where you're needed and where you need to let go.

This book is a great tool for not just those that pride themselves on being busy but all of us who are connected with the world. There are things that we are in control of, things that we are the only ones that can make the decisions about for our life. And we need to make sure that we aren't wasting time taking care of so many other things that we aren't responsible for because we feel like no one else will do them, or do them as well as us, or even because we've always done it and don't know how to quit.

I could tell you about all the chapters and ideas discussed but the truth is, I have a feeling that this is one of those books that everyone who reads it will discover something different inside. Some will hear one thing, the next something completely different. For me, the book ultimately brings to mind one of my favorite quotes from the movie The Holiday "You're supposed to be the leading lady of your own life." And if you're too busy playing bit and side roles then when are you ever going to take on the things that are meant to make you shine?


A free copy of this book was given to me by Tyndale Publishing House for the purpose of review. I'm never required to share a positive review but I'm always thankful when I can.

PS check back tomorrow for a guest post from Jennifer Dukes Lee herself!

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Stuffed Summer Sandwich from Complete Outdoor Living Cookbook

We have enjoyed this sandwich many times throughout the years. I think it's the olive tapenade that wins us over time and time again. It's from one of our favorite cookbooks, Complete Outdoor Living Cookbook from Williams-Sonoma.

Stuffed Summer Sandwich

2 large red bell peppers
1 round loaf sourdough or coarse country bread
1 can (6 oz/185g) pitted black olives, drained
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 lb thinly sliced baked ham or prosciutto
1 large ripe tomato, thinly sliced
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves or 4-6 leaves of red leaf lettuce

Preheat the broiler. Cut the bell peppers into quarters and remove the stems, seeds, and ribs. Place the quarters, cut sides down, on a baking sheet and broil about 4 inches below the heat unti the skins blacken and blister. Transfer to a paper bag and seal; let steam until cool enough to handle. Peel off and discard the skins. Set the peppers aside.

Place the bread on a cutting board and, with the tip of a serrated knife, cut a large circle in the top about 1/2 inch deep and 1 inch from the edge. Pull out the circle of crust; remove all the bread attached to it to make a lid. Pull out all the bread from the interior of the loaf, leaving a shell 1/2 inch thick. Set the bread shell and lid aside. (Reserve the pulled-out bread for another use)

In a blender or food processor, combine the olives, garlic, and olive oil; process until fairly smooth. Using a rubber spatula, spread the olive paste around the inside of the bread shell and on the underside of the bread lid. (Alternatively, mince the olives and garlic, place in a small bowl and stir in the olive oil to make a coarse paste. Spread the olive paste on the bottom of the bread shell.) Line the bread shell with half of the ham or prosciutto. Top with half of the roasted red pepper quarters, then half of the tomato slices, and a few basil leaves or 2 or 3 lettuce leaves. Use just enough to cover the filling without overlapping too much.
Repeat the layers, ending with basil or lettuce. Replace the bread lid and press down lightly to compact the layers. Cut into layers and serve.

Serves 6.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

A month's worth of weeknight meals!

Getting dinner on the table can be tough sometimes. Especially if you're in the midst of a busy day or a string of busy days. That's why I have a couple of dinners that I know I can get on the table in less time than it would take me to leave the house, order food, wait for it to be prepared, and get back to the house.
These kind of meals end up saving time not just because they're easy to prepare and get on the table, but because you can plan for them and know that you can tell yourself, "Dinner will be ready soon." Some of them can be thrown together with pantry items last minute or you can swing by the store with a very short list instead of hitting up the pizza joint for the fifth night in a row.


  1. Tacos
  2. Taco Salad
  3. Hamburgers
  4. Grilled Cheese (get fancy with it or heat up some Campbell's tomato if you're into it)
  5. Yaki Soba (coleslaw mix, soba noodles, sauce of choice, BAM dinner)
  6. Pancakes, sausage, and fruit salad
  7. Sloppy Joe and tater tots
  8. Shepherd's Pie
  9. Stove top mac n cheese
  10. Kung Pao Shrimp and rice
  11. Pork Tenderloin Medallions, poppy seed noodles, and green beans
  12. One-Dish Creamy Beef & Noodles (use ground beef to make even faster)
  13. Frittata and green salad
  14. Seasame chicken with steamed broccoli (double the sauce!)
  15. Tater Tot Casserole
  16. Golden Chicken Nuggets and fries (great with yellow mustard, go figure!)
  17. One Pot spaghetti 
  18. Cheese fondue (Swiss and Cheddar are a nice combo, try dipping whatever is leftover in the fridge)
  19. Peanut chicken skillet, white rice, and Asian slaw (coleslaw mix with ginger Asian dressing)
  20. French Dip Crescent rolls and veggies with dip

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

School Lunch Ideas

This summer, we had a fun program at church and the kids all brought their lunch. Do you know what they brought? Lunchables, every single one of them. If you aren't familiar with what that is, they are prepared lunches that are mainly variations on cheese and crackers. In honor of all those Lunchables, I'm sharing 20 school lunch ideas that don't include a sandwich nor any nuts.



Homemade Lunchables:


English Muffin Pizza, toast the muffin before hand send with cheese, pepperoni, and sauce
Cheese and crackers with pepperoni or meat of choice
Nachos, chips and queso dip, side of salsa

Sandwich alternatives:


Stuffed pita, especially good with tuna or egg salad
Lettuce wraps, great with chicken salad or any luncheon meat
Tortilla salad wrap, place salad and meat in tortilla and roll with it
Meat roll ups. Roll luncheon meat around cream cheese and pickle or a cheese stick

Finger Food:


Hummus and veggies
Chips and dip
Pickle platter, send olives, pickles, various pickled veg with a side of cheese

Breakfast for Lunch:


Boiled eggs and yogurt parfait
Oatmeal with berries
Quiche

Heat it Up:


Beanie weanies
Soup
Hot dogs and chips. Put dogs in hot water and send with bun and toppings

Out of the Ordinary:


Salad in a jar
Beef jerky, dried fruit, pumpkin or sunflower seeds
Kabobs with lunch meat and cheese. The deli counter can do thick cuts, serve with fruit kabobs
Sushi


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

A Light So Lovely by Sarah Arthur


This year in our homeschooling, we are reading A Wrinkle in Time. Before we picked the book, I had no idea that Madeleine L'Engle wrote from the Christian perspective. When the opportunity to read A Light So Lovely, about her spiritual legacy, came along I gladly said yes. 

The book starts off with a brief over view of the L'Engle's life, which was very helpful for someone like me who was starting at point zero. Though at times it felt more like a biography than the spiritual memoir the author was aiming for. In that regard, in some ways, this is a book about L'Engles affect on Sarah Arthur and how her legacy lives out in her personal life. 

The chapters include topics such as Truth and Story, Faith and Science, Religion and Art. My favorite was probably the Fact and Fiction chapter. Sometimes when you live in the realm of your own creation the lines between what has happened to you and what has happened to them can be confused. The warning was to not let that line become so blurred that you no longer participate with those that are present in your life. It does not do your relationships any good to fictionalize them or turn your family into caricature. In fact, it can damage the relationship and ultimately your own well being. 

There were lots of great touchstones in the book, quotes from L'Engle as well as stories about how her work changed lives. One of my favorites is about why we go to church. In short she said that it was an outward sign of an promise, much like we wear wedding bands to represent our promise to our spouse. There are things in life that are beyond our understanding and that doesn't make them false just because they are a mystery. In fact, that mystery is a great invitation to seek God and see the goodness that is prevalent in all of creation. 

If you are interested in learning more about L'Engle the person with all her blessings and curses, this is a concise collection of not only her life, but her impact on society and the culture of writing as well. 



I received a copy of this book for review purposes from Handlebar Publishing on behalf of Zondervan. I'm never required to give a positive review but I'm always thankful when I can.  


Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Thief of Corinth by Tessa Afshar




Thief of Corinth by Tessa Afshar is a historical fiction set in ancient Greece during the time of the apostle Paul. The story is about a young woman, Ariadne, who flees Athens and an arranged marriage to an abusive young man chosen for her by her oppressive grandfather. She and her foster brother escape to the home of their father in Corinth.
As Ariadne settles in to life in Corinth, she also finds that learning where she belongs in this society is not as easy as it appears. It becomes compounded when she discovers that her father is a thief with a reputation of stealing from the corrupt and calling them out for their misdeeds. In the midst of trying to protect her father, stay connected with her brother, and temper her feelings for the love of her life, she encounters Paul the apostle.
These stories that he shares with their family intrigue her and ultimately, Christ enters her story and helps Ariadne to find peace in the midst of her troubles.

Afshar does an excellent job of placing the reader in the midst of the bustling culture of ancient Corinth. From the sporting events to dinner parties to home life. She also does a great job of weaving in the story of Paul and some of his cohorts to the story. My only complaint was that the first two parts of the book appeared labored and unneeded. The real adventure and connection to the characters for me occurred in Part Three. Overall, it's a wonderful historical fiction. A fun read for anyone that would like to take a trip through time.

I received a copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers for the purpose of review. I'm never required to share a positive review but I'm always thankful when I can.