A Good Life on Earth

This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart. Ecclesiastes 5:18-20

I don’t know about you, but sometimes when life seems to be going really well I wonder if all the good things are distracting me from keeping life’s focus on Jesus and furthering his mission. You know, things like a birth in the family, a new house, better pay, nice car, succeeding at your job, and so on… can these blessings also be distractions?

I suppose they could be, at some point. When life’s “good things” start taking so much precedence in life that Jesus and church and thinking of others and prayer get pushed in the old dusty closet or even forgotten, it may be time to reflect on things.

But Ecclesiastes 5 reminded me today that it’s ok for life to be going well. This is a gift from God! Praise him and rejoice in the blessings. Thank him; he is caring and helpful. When life is going swell, just say “thank you” and enjoy it!

Salvation out of Sorrow

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 2 Corinthians 7:10

We all feel bad at times. Guilt can envelop all other thoughts. “I shouldn’t have done that; I was supposed to do this.”

God has given each of us a conscience. It’s the reason we know when we’re doing something wrong and it reminds us that we are far from perfect. When we fall short, we feel bad. We are sorrowful.

But guilt isn’t the end. It drives a repentant heart to confess before God all wrongdoing, and to ask for forgiveness. God will forgive us; he always does. And he promises salvation to all his children. It’s kind of an interesting thought: sorrow leads to salvation! Praise God!

Like Arrows

Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Psalm 127:3-4

For the parents who are struggling with some aspect of child raising, who are beyond exhausted, who are concerned about an upcoming birth, or who are just outright frustrated, Psalm 127 offers encouraging words.

Solomon, the author of this Psalm, knew the value of children. He had many kids. He also knew the value of a well-equipped, talented warrior. He was a great king and the leader of vast armies. He was wealthy. And when he wrote this Psalm, he compared children to arrows.

A warrior with a supply of arrows, whether handfuls or just one, feels safe. He can protect himself. He has, as long as he is supplied, a sense of thankfulness and peace. The arrows are a blessing for him. Each child is a blessing to each parent. Whether a couple’s quiver holds ten or just one arrow, each child is a gift from God and it is a blessing that their quiver is not empty.

So no matter if you’re battling the terrible twos, arguing with your teenager, or awaiting the birth of your first babe, remember that every child is a gift from our God.

Oatmeal Flour Pancakes

Pancakes don’t have to be that delightfully tasty breakfast meal that you want to eat all the time but think you really shouldn’t because they aren’t the healthiest morning meal option out there. I love pancakes, and if they were super healthy, I’d likely have them almost every morning.

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Here’s something I tried as a way to give them a bit more nutrition: I made them with oatmeal flour instead of white flour. All I did was pulverize some whole oats in my coffee grinder and follow the same pancake recipe I always use. I simply substituted the “oatmeal flour” for the regular flour. They cooked very well and were absolutely delicious! My son and I gobbled up two of them in no time flat.

 

This is what my second one looked like. If anything, they weren’t quite as fluffy as when using normal white flour. However, they were just as tasty and best of all, they were a little healthier. Oats provide more fiber than white flour, and in my book that’s always a plus. I’ll definitely be making these again!

You are Mine

But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. Isaiah 43:1

Aren’t these words beautiful? The Lord was labeling his precious child Israel loved and important. “Let all fear leave you, Jacob. I created you; I made you. I redeemed you. I called you by name. You are mine.”

These comforting promises remind me of my baptismal banner. I don’t remember the actual event of my baptism since I was only two weeks old. But as a child, I frequently read the words of Isaiah 43:1 that were lovingly crafted onto a felt banner that hung in my bedroom. “You are mine.”

We belong to someone. Isn’t that something we all crave so deeply? In a world where identity is often associated with our work group, our friends, and our social circles but where that longing is never completely satisfied, God promises us that we belong to him. “You are mine.” That is our true and ultimate identity: a child of God!

Getting it Right

I tend to change things. No, I’m not a go-getter who makes the world a better place. What I mean is, it’s hard for me to let something stay as it is until, in my mind, it is exactly as it should be. (Perfectionist)?

Let me explain; here is an example. We recently moved into our first home (owned home, that is) and thanks to our wonderful 9 foot ceilings there is plenty of space above the kitchen cabinets for decorations. I like antiques. I like making the home. So I’ve spent the past two months lining up my little vintage possessions atop of the cabinets. I try one arrangement for a week or two, then switch it around. Then I look at it again and think, “Hmm, still not right.” So it gets moved around again. My husband jokes that he doesn’t know what item in our house will be moved around the next time he comes home from work. But finally, I have the items placed just right. I like them. I don’t intend to change the line-up anymore (intend… key word there).

I’ve also changed blogs a billion times. My very first blog documented my travels abroad in Spain. But once I was done traveling, I didn’t know what to blog about anymore so I deleted the blog. Then marriage and kids arrived, and I thought it would be fun to start blogging again. Over the past two or three years I made one for the sole purpose of spilling my thoughts and woes, one to document home remedies and natural living, and one for daily devotions. How many of those still exist? None of them. They weren’t quite “right” so out the window they went!

Well, we’ll see if Indigo Beans lasts longer than two months. Ha.

I don’t know if this mentality to constantly change things around is a case of OCD, or a touch of perfectionism, or the failure to be content. Maybe it’s a bit of all three. I don’t know. But I think that, as long as this tendency doesn’t bother anyone else, I won’t let it bother me. As long as the need to get everything perfect doesn’t cloud my life, then the kitchen décor will probably continue to get rearranged.

The Reality of False Gods

Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more. I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods or take up their names on my lips. Psalm 16:4

King David knew the uselessness of seeking meaning, security, and identity in anything other than the Lord God. We too know that the Lord is our strength and our salvation and in him alone is found our true meaning and value. Unfortunately, at some point or another, we have all failed to remember this.

Comedian Jim Gaffigan performs a clever skit about guilty pleasures that he simply labels “McDonalds.” Whether we delight too much in a certain TV show or become enveloped in celebrity gossip or go for our favorite café latte umpteen times a week, “it’s all McDonalds.” It’s all stuff that feels good going in but leaves us empty and dissatisfied.

David understood this. He knew that false gods only bring about suffering. Money and alcohol and Netflix will never be enough to satisfy our souls and give our life true meaning, identity, and security. Only Jesus can do that. He has done it, when he defeated sin, death, and the devil on the cross. When you need something, go to Jesus. He’ll never let you down.