The “cancel culture” has been a hot button topic since the pandemic began. It is an unfortunate mentality that most of us recoil at, scoff at, and shake our heads at. However, I’ve realized that many of us practice “cancel culture”, too…we just spiritualize it – to our shame.
We unfriend someone who calls us out on social media without thinking twice about it.
We speak up loudly on our Facebook about something we are passionate about – because we know what people need to hear on the matter, after all.
We avoid getting close to that person at church who requires more friendship than a passing “hi” in the hallway.
We boycott a business because of some public statement they apparently made – I mean, it was on Twitter, so it must be true.
We stop talking to a brother or sister in Christ who hurts us – because, “I just can’t.”
We teach our children that putting toxic people out of our life is ok because “you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. Do what is good for you.”
Friends – I don’t think Jesus lived like this at all. When I look at His years on earth, He was seen in the middle of endless scenarios, and they all involved people. We are messy, friends. Jesus chooses to love messy people.
…do I choose to love messy people?
Remember that love does not equate to condoning. Jesus never condoned wrong doing. He did call it out on many occasions. Yet, we have to remember that He is God. And, He gave us instructions for times to call out wrong doing in the New Testament. I would venture to say that a lot of what we do is not what God had in mind when He said to speak “the truth in love”.
The pandemic and all that has come with it has caused me to think a lot about my own Christianity. Do I reflect Jesus in the way I speak to others, in the way I treat others, in the way I love others? Is my testimony for Him tainted by loftiness and pride? I’ve truly besought Him to show me every place I need to humble myself – there are many, many opportunities to learn humility in my own life. May I sum up today’s thoughts with God’s own Words:
“A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in til afterwards.” Proverbs 29:11
Hey there, I’m Katherine, India’s sister-in-law.
I started Headbands for Life just shy of a year ago. I was yearning for a way to serve the unborn as well as a route to help women through the amazing journey of pregnancy and childbirth! However, I was somewhat limited. I had a one-year-old and was expecting my second. These two things made it difficult to serve in an “out of the home” setting. My parents had bought me a sewing machine for Christmas and I had some sewing practice growing up with my Mom. The Lord used both the desire to serve and the resource of a sewing machine to give me the idea of headbands! After some great tutorials, many failed attempts, and some gracious first customers I was able to start sewing headbands and processing orders. I was having fun and all the while serving the Lord by supporting these women and babies from my kitchen table. Currently all of the profits go to HOPE Life Center in Wausau, WI and I can only pray that the Lord uses this business to minister to other Crisis Pregnancy Centers in the future.
If you would like to support families women and the unborn by purchasing some headbands or hats you can find us on Facebook: @headbands4life and Instagram: @headbands_4life . If you are seeking help for yourself or a loved one, please check out HOPE at https://www.hopewi.org
One of the things I’ve been working on since the pandemic hit is reading any parenting books we have on hand. My husband loves books, so we have a fair share of books I’ve never read before. While reading one of them, I was struck in a new way with the gravity of this verse from Proverbs: “My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eye observe my ways.” (Proverbs 23:26).
I thought about how I may or may not be living this out in my own life as a mother. Do I want my children’s eyes to observe my ways? Am I subconsciously putting everything BUT myself in front of my children’s eyes? “Observe my ways…” – can I say that with confidence to my children, confidence that they will see a good example in me?
God isn’t just talking about TV, though that is an easy thing to relate to in our world. This verse is communicating a way of life for all Christian parents. Are we so busy entertaining our children “so I can just have some time” that we aren’t actively training our children? What do my children see me doing? Do they see me growing, ministering, helping, working, and learning? Or do they see me lazy, defeated, busy, distracted, and worldly?
Josh and I are in a busy season of life, and it’s not just because we have kids. It is really easy for us to get to the end of the day and just watch the boys play instead of actually doing something with them. However, we try to do things with them because we know we are training them for the rest of their lives. We don’t do it right every day, let me tell you – we make a painfully large amount of mistakes. I pray that we will do better every day with our boys.
We don’t do anything fancy. Our “something with them” is often a walk to see the train go by; running around in a field with a ball; soaking up sunshine with some bubbles outside; letting Malachi help make supper (Joash hasn’t been allowed to do that much yet, and if you know him, you know why, haha); reading books; doing the laundry; cleaning at church.
What worked in the days of Solomon still works in 2020. Good or bad, our children are watching what we do, how we live, what we say, who we hang out with, where we spend our time – they see it all. We won’t want to say “observe my ways” if we aren’t living the way God intends. Let us choose God’s way of life, and let us remember the great responsibility and privilege that comes with it!
I’ve heard them. You’ve heard them. They cry out on social media, “Your silence enables wrong! Your silence shows which side you’re on!”
My heart tells me to comment on that soapbox rant, my heart tells me to type out my opinion on the matter. I have a lot of good points, don’t I? Not only that, but I also want them to know that I do indeed have an opinion. I care. I am aware. I am not unloving.
The problem is that my heart is often wrong. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
(Jeremiah 17:9) Just because my heart compels me to let my fingers fly across that keyboard, letting the world know where I stand on today’s issues, does not mean that I ought to.
There was a time when I was much more active on Facebook. I shared posts and I chatted on comment threads. I liked to be right and I liked having a voice. However, I began to notice how it affected me. I dwelled on it far too long, even when I wasn’t at my computer or on my phone. I began to wonder if it was affecting the person that I was, the person that my friends and family spent time with from day to day.
Eventually I realized that there was a greater need for my voice in every day life, every day situations. As a Christian, I could be much more influential on the people around me by living a Spirit-filled life. “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16)
Don’t get me wrong. I fully believe that social media has an influence on our thinking. Ha, I wouldn’t be typing this if I didn’t hope it would help someone today! It encourages me when I see the internet filled with good, factual information, presented in an orderly way. I enjoy reading the passionate opinions of my friends when they present them in a loving way. I’ve learned a lot through online research. The trouble comes when our contempt for any opinion but our own drives us to contention and consumes our precious time.
It’s okay if your Facebook friends don’t know whether or not you like wearing a mask. It’s okay if you don’t post about your political stance. What’s not okay is when we just blow up the internet, and never touch the lives of those around us in a truly tangible way. It’s sad when the people who are a part of our physical life begin to view us as that person who is always going on a virtual tirade. Are they afraid that we’ll bring up those hot topics during an in-person conversation? Is that all we talk about? Is that becoming our identity?
Oh, that our identity may be “children of light”! “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:”
Maybe it’s time to unplug, to look around, to spend real time with the people you love. If you’re physically able, get involved in your local church ministries or a community service. When you pray for opportunities to make a difference, you will find that God is faithful to provide those opportunities. This is not silence. This is Christianity. “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27)
Watching everything transpire before my eyes is interesting to say the least. How unusual that truly the entire world is going through the same thing in some capacity. My thoughts about it all are many – but I am trying to be like Mary, who “…kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).
A glaring result of this crisis is the way it affects the 2019-2020 school year. On every side, uncertainty is found. The fear of the time your child, no matter their age, is losing with their education is alarming. Today I wanted to share something from my life that God reminded me of; maybe it will encourage you in this time.
India and I were homeschooled our entire lives. I even did my first two years of college at home. In the years I was 8 and 9 years old, my mother became very ill with malaria. She was very, very sick…sometimes close to death. During that time, our education was inevitably put on hold. We went months without doing any schoolwork. In a way, we lost an entire year of school time.
I don’t really remember much of what my mom said about our school then, because she was so sick that we girls did not get to see her very often. We spent most of our time with different church families who cared for us while my dad was with my mom at the hospital. I was young enough that I didn’t always understand how sick she was. As young as I was, though, I also remember the strength of my mother’s faith as well as the encouragement from our pastor to trust God in that confusing time. Mommy recovered, praise the Lord, and life carried on. Guess what? I graduated high school right on time. India did, too. Many might say, “oh, well, your mother caught you up and it worked out since you were homeschooled anyways”. But, don’t forget that making up an entire year of missed time is a pretty big deal academically.
What is impossible with man is always possible with God. Somehow, God helped make up for the time we lost in that year. I honestly do not even remember how. That was over 20 years ago. The way technology has advanced in 20 years is astounding and to our great advantage. If God was able to help us way back then, could He not do the same for our world today?
I see many trying to carry on in this crisis as close to normal as possible, almost as if this crisis is not happening. May I encourage you to consider that it is ok not to have it all figured out. It is ok for everything to be awry because sometimes that is how life goes. Please let God take up for where you are lacking. I am not belittling the importance of anything good; no, I am seeking to make much of what God is capable
of. He wants to be the One glorified in our weakness. How sad it would be if when we come out on the other side of this crisis, that we look back and tell others, “This is what I did to power through.”
You’ve been on my heart lately. I guess with my dad’s recent death, I’ve thought about you more than ever before. I’ve been thinking about how it is for my mom right now…and what so many of you might be feeling, too.
Years ago on your wedding day, you never thought about what you would do in life’s chapter of widowhood. All you knew was that your husband’s life was now yours. This many years later, you find yourself in a chapter of life that you never gave much thought to – I mean, who would really want to?
The pressure hit after your husband died – pressure you did not even anticipate. “What are you going to do now?” For some reason, everyone thinks it is their business to press you for the answer to this question mere days after your husband’s death. While having a plan will be on your mind someday, it’s not on your mind today. You might even think, “What is wrong with me? I don’t seem to know what to do with myself like all the other widows do.”
I’ve noticed that not many people do this to widowers. Now, bear with me…I don’t want any of us to be bitter. But, after my dad died, it dawned on me that if the tables were turned, no one would have been asking him what he is going to do now — because his life’s plan would not have changed. Men can keep right on going with their life (albeit missing the hugest part) and nobody questions them. It is different for men because very rarely did they give up their own life to marry you. But, for some reason, with ladies, the expectations are different. Widows are immediately faced with the challenges of “what should I do? How do I start over? Who am I now that I’m not his wife?”
Maybe that is why God mentions widows so many times in His Word. He has a special place in His heart for you…and by His example, I think we all should, too. I hope that just reading this will encourage your heart today. I hope it will remind you that someone does see you, someone does think about where you are in life, someone does care how you feel. I don’t pretend to know what you’re going through or how you’re feeling…but I’ve been asking God to touch those places of your heart that perhaps only He sees.
Perhaps someone will read this that is not a widow. I hope those of us who aren’t widows will remember those who are – that we will pray, and then that we will make the effort to be there for those ladies who feel so alone.
I am praying for you, widows everywhere!
With the love of Christ,
“Pure religion and undefiled before God the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” James 1:27
Pork Masala Curry
- 1 and 1/2 lbs Pork meat We make it with some fat for the flavor. Don't buy too lean!
- 4 Medium-Sized Onions
- 1 1/2 inch piece of Fresh Ginger Root
- 20 Medium Cloves of Garlic
- 1 Green Chili or Jalapeno Pepper
- 1 Cinnamon Stick (3-4 inches long)
- 10 Cloves
- 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper or other red hot pepper powder
- 1 tbsp Coriander Powder
- 1/2 tsp Cumin
- 1/4 tsp Black Pepper Powder
- 1 tsp Turmeric Powder
- 2 tbsp Lemon Juice or White Vinegar
- To Taste Salt
- 1 tbsp Ghee (clarified butter) or vegetable oil For roasting spices
- Cut pork into bite-sized pieces and set asid.
- Chop onions, peel and grate ginger, mince or slice garlic, chop chili finely, and break cinnamon into several pieces. Add them to a skillet or wok with the tbsp of ghee or oil.
- Add all of the spices to the skillet and roast on medium heat until the onions and garlic are tender. This allows the flavors to blend.
- Combine the roasted mixture (or masala, as we say in India) with the pork and stir it over medium heat. Add enough water to cover the meat and bring it to a boil.
- Reduce to a simmer and add the vinegar or lemon juice. Continue to cook the meat (with a lid on) until it is tender and the curry sauce has thickened. Stir occasionally.
- If you need to add more liquid as the meat cooks, add a little at a time. Adding too much water will make your sauce too thin.
- When your meat is tender and your sauce has thickened, add the salt according to your liking. I recommend starting with a teaspoon.
- Your pork curry is ready! Serve with rice for an authentic South Indian experience.
Dear Christian Friend, saved by the grace of God,
When you just can’t, remember that God can.
It is true that we are sanctified people who still sin and mess up…yet I sometimes wonder…
How often do we draw attention to our flaws rather than glorify the God Who can use us beyond our human capacity?
Why is it trendy to be a “hot mess”?
Why is it cool to brag about how we don’t have it together?
Do we as Christians focus so hard on “being real”, that we forsake our call to holiness?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am all about the funny memes that highlight our “fails”! Trust me, I laugh at them all the time and send them to my sisters on Pinterest. Talking about our weaknesses is healthy to an extent, because it allows us to relate as human beings. It causes us to admit that we aren’t perfect and never will be. The danger is when we become too comfortable and cease to learn from our mistakes.
Life is hard! It will never be easy! However, I strongly believe that God allows hardships in our lives to strengthen and mature us. Ultimately, He is glorified when we rely on Him and stand firm at the end of the day, recognizing that His grace is enough.
The attitude of “I just can’t” (we’ve all said it!), undermines what the Spirit can do in a life surrendered to Christ. One of the most famous verses in the Bible is Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Do we believe it?
It’s good for us to admit that we have flaws as we commit them to the Lord and beg for strength to overcome.
It’s okay to be a “hot mess” occasionally, because we’re all human. It’s “okay to not be okay”, but it ought not be a way of life, no matter how “not okay” our situation is.
It’s okay to not have it all together every single day, but we should never stop trying to live an orderly life. We need to represent Christ well if He is truly our Reason for living!
It is vital to “be real” because Christianity does not make us perfect. However, our reality as children of God is a daily practice of dying to self and being Christ-like.
When you just can’t, remember that God can. He can pick up the shattered pieces of your life and carry you through the impossible. He can give you unspeakable joy that will take the world by surprise.
“I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
“Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice….Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6, 7
When birthdays roll around at our house, I get a lot of requests for chocolate cake. And when I’m in doubt, I usually just make chocolate cake. Not everyone likes chocolate, but most people do! Chocolate cake is usually a safe choice.
Chocolate cake is easy, especially when you use the most obvious recipe – the one on the back of your Hershey’s cocoa container! Every time I make this recipe, people tell me how good it is and ask what recipe I used. It’s simple enough. The only thing I change is the vegetable oil. I use butter instead because that’s just me. I’m a butter-lover and a vegetable oil-hater. True story.
Anyways, the Hershey’s recipe has never failed me, and I’ve made it as both a layer cake and sheet cake. The funniest thing, though…the Indian Hershey’s container also has a chocolate cake recipe, but it differs from the American container. I have made both and they turn out beautifully either way. I personally prefer the Indian recipe because it is simpler, and even eggless for anyone who may have an allergy. I have added a picture of my Hershey’s container here for anyone interested in the recipe. For the American Hershey’s recipe, follow this link: https://www.hersheys.com/content/kitchens/en_us/recipes/hersheys-perfectly-chocolate-chocolate-cake.html
When I am making chocolate cake for people following a keto diet, THM lifestyle, or some such sugar-free way of eating, I make this recipe: https://chrissybenoitinlove.com/index.php/2016/05/26/one-bowl-chocolate-fudge-cake-thm-s/
It is simply divine with this chocolate peanut butter cup frosting: https://chrissybenoitinlove.com/index.php/2016/05/26/peanut-butter-cup-frosting/
I honestly enjoy the healthy chocolate cake more than the sugary kind. It’s great as a dessert or for breakfast. Seriously! I just have to hide from my kids when I eat it.
Baking and cooking for my family are some of my favorite things to do. It has been fun to figure out what we like and don’t like, which recipes to keep and which to scrap, etc. I love meal planning and having go-to recipes like these chocolate cakes are so helpful!
This year my pastor did something new for our church: we had an entire month of Missions Emphasis! September had 5 Sundays and 4 Wednesdays, and he utilized every church service to emphasize the great need for reaching souls for Christ. In every way it encouraged my heart and exhorted my walk with Christ – may I ever be mindful of eternity!
One way that I celebrated Missions Month was by wearing Indian clothes every Sunday! This was fun since India is such a dear part of my heart. I enjoy all the colors and styles Indian fashion has to oﬀer, too.
The ﬁrst Sunday I wore a skirt that was actually purchased in America, but from an Indian store! This skirt was made from two sarees, a saree being the go-to traditional dress of Indian women. As you can see my little boys joined me in wearing Indian garb for this Sunday! Their shirts are called kurtas.
The second Sunday I wore a churidar that my sister and mom picked out for me several years ago. Purple is my favorite color, and I absolutely love the contrast of the two main colors of this outﬁt! Indian ladies’ wear is known for stark contrasts of bright colors.
Sunday #3 was extra special because we had an International Banquet at church – and, yes, I made Indian food 🙂 I made pork curry and also made some British food, Shepherd’s Pie! I chose this week to wear a saree. A funny side note: we have three ladies of Indian descent in our church. I told them all that I was wearing a saree and that they should all wear sarees with me – not one of them did! 😀
For the fourth Sunday I wore another skirt that was purchased in America but was made in India. The skirt’s design is very much like that of a ghagra choli, an outﬁt that consists of a top, skirt, and shawl. I forewent a shawl for this but completed the outﬁt with Indian jewelry.
The ﬁnal Sunday I wore another churidar, the hem of which is called “ﬁshtail” style in India. My sister and I purchased identical churidars once and this is mine! The green reminds me so much of life in India…there is never a dull moment over there!
Even though I do not live in India anymore, I’m glad that I kept so many of my Indian outﬁts! They are perfect for special occasions or themed events like Missions Month. Usually I dress in American clothes…but I’m always ready to theme my outﬁts accordingly when I can!