Saturday, April 18, 2009

"She Said Yes"

" adolescent, however rebellious, is doomed by fate. With warmth, self-sacrifice, and honesty-- with the love that ultimately comes from God-- every child can be guided and saved."

excerpt from the book She Said Yes.

I have been sick for the last two days, so I haven't really done a whole lot. With all of the resting and doing nothing, I have had the opportunity to read the book She Said Yes. This is the story of Cassie Bernall, the girl who was killed at Columbine High School because she said that she was a Christian. What surprised me about Cassie's story was that her testimony was NOTHING like I had expected. I assumed that this girl, who had been martyred for her faith, had a sparkling past and a clean record. Right from the beginning of the book, I came to find out that Cassie had a very troubled history. When Cassie was 15 years old, her mom came across some letters in her room that a friend had written. They were horrific letters that talked about killing Cassie's parents, drugs, alcohol, and the occult. The parents quickly realized that there was a whole other side of their daughter that they had never seen. Of course, Cassie's parents were scared, heartbroken, and not sure what to do. In order to try to save Cassie from the path that she was following, her parents moved, cut off all relations with friends from her "old life", and forced Cassie to go to a private Christian school. Cassie hated her new school and hated her parents for making her go there. She was hard, hateful, and not the least bit interested in the things of God. In fact, she had even tried to give her soul to the Devil at one point. She cut herself regularly. Suicide was a common threat. She was the teen girl that you would be afraid of if you saw her around town.

Cassie convinced her parents to allow her to go on a teen retreat with her church. She didn't want to go for the preaching, but because her friend was going. The parents finally gave in, and let Cassie go on the two-day trip. It was on that trip that Cassie Bernall got saved. The Holy Spirit finally was able to soften her heart, and she surrendered to Him. Later, she begged her parents to allow her to go to public school in order to be a witness. They reluctantly allowed her to go. It was at this public school, Columbine High School, that she stood for Christ and was murdered.

Tomorrow is our big day in the teen department at church. We have been working and praying for weeks in preparation. Meals have been skipped in fasting, tears have been shed in prayers, money has been spent in materials. I can't help but wonder if another "Cassie" will be in our midst tomorrow. Perhaps a hardened, depressed, angry girl will show up with her friends tomorrow. She might intimidate some people... not me. Maybe a Gothic guy will come with black eyeliner, black nail polish, and a spiky dog-collar necklace. I won't write him off. Usually the kids that cause the most problems are the ones who are hurting the most.

The book I read about Cassie today reminded me that if the Holy Spirit is present, great things -- amazing things-- can happen. I am praying and expecting great, AMAZING things tomorrow. Who knows what teenager's life will be forever changed! This book reminded me teens today face obstacles that seem insurmountable. They need our prayers, our love, our understanding. I am determined to pray like I never have before, because this is the only way we can help teens today. No promotion given away at church is going to win over one of these desperate kids... only love and the Holy Spirit.

I am sure that the people who volunteered to work at the youth retreat saw little hope in Cassie before she was saved. Her own youth director said, "We'll give it our best, but this girl's going to be a hard one. She's gone, unreachable. There is no way that she'll ever recover from what she's doing." Cassie's tarnished past inspired me to never give up on a difficult teen. In my eyes, there is no person that is "unreachable."

I am so excited to see what God has in store for us tomorrow! I can't wait to see the lives that are changed and the souls that are saved!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Let the Recipes Begin!!!

Ok guys! Here is one of the recipes I have used with OAMC (once a month cooking). Got it from a book called Frozen Assets by Deborah Taylor-Hough.

Meatloaf and meatballs!!!

With this recipe you will have 2 meatloaves, 1 meal of salisbury steak, and three different meaball meals!
*Preheat oven to 350
24 oz. tomato sauce
3 c. dry bread crumbs
7 eggs, lightly beaten
1 c. onion, finely chopped
1/2 c. green pepper
tsp. of Italian seasoning
8 lbs. ground beef
Mix everything but meat together. Add meat. Then.....

Make your meatloaves. bake for 30 minutes. Cool before freezing. I also added a few slices of bacon on top of the meatloaves before I baked them. SOOOOO yummy!

Make your meatballs. I used parchment paper on my cookie sheets so that I would have less clean up! Bake for 30 minutes. Put the entire cookie sheet in the freezer once it has cooled. This is to freeze the meatballs individually. Once frozen, you can put them all in a ziplock bag until you are ready to use them!

You can also use this meat mixture to make salisbury steak patties. Just fry them on both sides for a few minutes and then cool. once cool, freeze in a ziplock bag.

How to use this new cooking method:
Our favorite meal so far has been the meatball subs. Put a big can or jar of spaghetti sauce in a saucepan. Add enough meatballs to feed your family. Heat until the meatballs are hot. (You could put the sauce and meatballs in a crockpot in the morning. When you come home from work, dinner is ready!) Spoon the sauce and meatballs on hoagie rolls. Top with cheese. SOOOOO yummy!

You can buy (or make) sweet and sour sauce. Heat up the meatballs in the sauce. Spoon over rice. Voila! Dinner is served.

Since our family is still pretty small, I froze our meatloaves in halves. This is a perfect portion for us.

I have not tried this meal yet, but it is on the list for this month: Salisbury steaks. Re-heat the patties that you made earlier in the month. Top with hot, cream-of-mushroom soup. You can serve this over rice if you want.

So far, none of these meals have tasted like leftovers! I have been pleasantly suprised. Check out the book from the library and give it a try. Sure makes dinner a lot easier!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Just call me Martha!

Do you ever have a "Martha Moment"?

Anybody who is doing anything for God will go through times where life is UNBELIEVABLY busy! Sometimes I feel like my whole life is unbelievably busy! Yesterday I woke up tired. I mean bone tired. As I drove to church, I was telling the Lord how tired I was. As I went to Sunday school, I reminded Him that I was exhausted. I wanted to be sure He knew that I was tired because I was serving Him. Then the Holy Spirit reminded me of the story of Mary and Martha. I mulled the story over in my head and came to a few conclusions. Allow me to share them with you.

Luke 10:40

"But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me."

The word cumbered in this verse means distracted. Martha was busy trying to get everything in order because Jesus was coming to her house. There was nothing wrong with Martha wanting to provide a good experience for her Saviour. The problem was that the she was distracted. Instead of realizing that Jesus, King of Kings, was there to fellowship, Martha was focusing on other things.

What distractions keep you from spending time with the Lord? At the end of the day, does your Lord know that He is important to you? Don't allow distractions to ruin your walk with Him.

"And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her."

What was the "one thing" that was needful? It was Spending time with Jesus. Mary stopped everything and sat at Jesus' feet. This is a reminder that everyday we need to have a time where the ONLY thing we do is worship God. Sometimes I think that this is not the only moral of the story. If Martha had been fellowshipping with Jesus while she served, would the story have ended differently? I believe it would have had a VERY different ending. Perhaps the moral of the story is to fellowship while you serve. The Bible does say, "Pray without ceasing." We know that we are to talk to God all day. That means that while you are cooking for your family, you should be spending time with God. While you work a bus route, write your husband love notes, drive to work, take a shower, and do everything else, you are to walk with God.

What makes it obvious that you are serving without walking with God? Let's look at this story some more....

"But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me."

Do you feel like you are working all alone and nobody is helping you? When you decide that you are doing more than everyone else and it isn't fair, just change your name to Martha. I have been guilty of this so many times. When I am working really hard, I start to wonder why everyone else isn't working as hard as I am. Humble yourself so that God doesn't have to. Realize that you are not better than everyone else just because you are serving God. If you use your time of service to spend time with Him, you won't care who is or isn't working.

I had a "Martha Moment" this week and had to change my mindset. Have you been guilty of behaving like Martha too? Let's agree to not allow our minds and hearts to be distracted from our one purpose.... fellowshipping with Jesus.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

When You Wonder if God Can Provide.....

My life truly is a testament of God's grace and blessings. In the last month, I have seen the Lord bless us time and time again. Let me share a few.....

We moved into our house. The house that GOD gave us. The story is so long, I will have to save it for another post. But just let me assure you, this home is a miracle from God in countless ways! What a joy to know that God cares so much about the Graham family!

Josh wanted a riding mower, now that we have a HUGE yard. He passed one for sale in somebody's yard and called to inquire. He didnt really have any extra money, but he called anyway. The guy was asking $300 dollars. Without any hassel he said he would take $200. (Which was a great deal, considering the shape it was in!) Josh still wasn't sure where we would get the money, so he asked for a few days to think it over. The guy called Josh back a day later and got his voicemail. On my husband's voicemail Josh says, "You have reached Josh Graham, youth pastor at Calvary Baptist Church." When Josh called him back, the man said that he had noticed that Josh was a youth pastor. The man was also Christian. He had gotten saved as a child and then went away from the Lord. Just recently he had rededicated his life to Christ. He wanted to know if we could affor $150. He would allow us to make payments. He would deliver it that day. Now we could definitely afford it! When the man came to drop it off, Josh wasnt home yet. I went out to thank him and to make a payment. He wouldnt take any money yet... he wanted to make sure that Josh liked it before we payed anything. Some people would view this as a good deal. I see it as so much more. The Lord knew that Josh is busy in the ministry and has little time to push a mower through a big yard. Before He even created the universe, God had already figured out how to get my husband the lawnmower he needed. It makes me feel so foolish for EVER wondering if God is going to take care of us. Not only does the Lord provide us with the things we need, like shelter and food, but He also orchestrates events to provide our wants. After the guy delivered our lawnmower, I fell on my knees. I thanked God for His goodness, and promised to always give Him the glory for the good things that come into my life. What a mighty God we serve!!!