Wednesday, July 31, 2013

As Many as Receive Him...

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:12-13 NKJV

But as many as received Him...

When ever a verse starts with a word like "but" or therefore I figure its a good idea to see what happened in the previous verses. In this case what happened is "He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him."

His own would be the Hebrew people. When he came the people who should have seen the signs - missed them. His birth was attended by shepherds. His birth was in a cave barn not in a royal palace. When he was a toddler wise men who followed a star from the east brought him gifts. 
How is it possible that His own people could miss the promised coming of the Messiah. 

That would be a great study to lay out for you but I'm too tired tonight. I suppose we just need to look in the mirror and ask why we who have been given so much can so often fall so short. Its easy to say if we were in the shoes of another that we would behave differently.  

The good news is....But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 

If you receive Him, he gives you the right to become his children. To you who believe in His name and who are born of God.  It is not about how together you are. Not how cleaned up your life may or may not be. There were two thieves who hung on the cross next to Jesus. One of them believed and Jesus said he would be with him in paradice. That guy never got to go forward for an alter call. He never got to repent of the wrongs he had done or the people he had harmed. He never took communion, never was baptized, never attended a church service. He never did any of the things we typically think one must do to be saved. He was one of those we were part of the "as many as received him." I'm not saying you should live your life like the thief on the cross and wait for the last moment to receive Jesus. I am pointing it out to show you that it is not about how good you are. It has nothing to do with your merit. It has everything to do with His. 

Prayer: I pray that you will lay aside trying to tip the scales in your favor and trust that Jesus is all that He has said. His promises are true. If you receive him you become one of His children. I pray that where ever you are in your journey to know him, that this truth would become very clear to you. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the father except through Him.  (John 14:6)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A City On A Hill

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14,16 NKJV

Have you been a secret agent Christian. Are you fighting the evils of this world but you are live like you are undercover agent and really never get around to doing much of anything outside of your church. 

The Word does not say go to church and preach the gospel  - it says go into all the world and make disciples. Your life should not be hidden away behind the walls of your church. Your life should shine in your work place, in your home, in your community. We are to let our light shine before men. We love them till they ask why. So that they may see your good works and glorify God. Its not that we do good works to earn God's favor. We have that favor because we are His, because we have accepted Jesus as our antidote to the poison of sin. We do good works because God prepared them in advance for us to do. We become His agents in the world. We are the salt that preserves, the light that drives out the darkness. We are the city on the hill that is not hidden from view and can be seen for miles. Sadly too many Christians think that they have done their duty because they went to church and sat in a seat and maybe sang some songs.  Going to church may be like going to the gas station and getting filled up but then take that refreshing you received and spread it around. I'm not suggesting you go out and beat people up with the word and expect them to live by your standards. I'm suggesting you befriend people who are different than you and love them.
 
The homeless people we feed each week - know that this down town church serves a meal. They know that the people who they meet there treat them with respect and dignity. We don't expect them to pray before the meal or to hear the plan of salvation before, during or after the meal. We just love them. Most of them are pretty jaded and think that Christians are just looking to put notches in their salvation do good belt. Most of the Christians they see show up once to hand out stuff and they leave feeling they have done their part. There is a lot of extra "help" around the holidays. Really how many times does one need to get saved to get a coat?  Sometimes with these fly in and fly out groups  I have to wonder if it is motivated out of love but more out of guilt.  We are there pretty much every week and little by little they people learn to trust us enough to share their stories. Then one Sunday they will find the courage to come to church. Where they are surprised to see other people with back packs and the smells of the street allowed to sit where ever they feel comfortable. Some decide they want to change and we pray for them week after week and encourage them that God wants to help them.  Little by little we see lives begin to be transformed. 

I have a friend who works with exchange students. They come to America to be educated. She becomes like a mom to them helping them to adjust to the new culture. She has had them ask to go to church with her because they have never experienced a Christian church service. Most of the time she is a living Bible meeting them during the course of their days. Every day she loves them and after they go home she stays in touch with them. Sometimes she gets to go visit some of them who have become like family. She had no idea years ago when she got a job working in the College computer lab that God would use here to touch the world. 

Another friend works with young music students. When they come to their lessons troubled by something that has happened in their school or home she is able to pray with them. Every week they see how she acts and reacts and over time they grow to trust her. 

Another friend is a big social media guy. He post photos from what is happening in our services and at our meal. Many of his non christian social media friends have come to help with our meal. They think its cool and want to know why we do what we do every week. I'm sure he has some interesting conversations. 

I suppose my point is that you don't have to wait to do some big exploit for the Lord. It's awesome to get to go on mission trips but you can start right in your own neighborhood. You can bloom where you are presently planted. 

I remember working in an office and one of my co-workers was having a bad day. I asked if I could pray for her. I was really shocked by her answer. She said "Sure, no one has ever asked to pray for me." She was a woman in her 40's. How many people who's paths you cross each day have never been prayed for?

One of my favorite ways to share the Love of Jesus is to look for small things to do to help others. Maybe they need a ride. Or letting someone borrow your vacuum cleaner. Maybe they are grumpy need encouraged. Perhaps they are sick and need visited. Or that neighbor just had a baby and your family takes them a meal. Maybe that single mom needs a break from the kids.  wThe elderly person down the street needs some yard work or repairs done. 

There are lots of things we can do if we get our focus off of "me - me - me". We can spend our time, energy, worry and focus on our own problems, or we can trust them to the Lord and look for who around us we might be able to help in some way. Its amazing when you start to do that God sees your faith and the things that concerned us some how work out. Your problems may not instantly vanish into thin air but there is something powerful that happens when you help others. Your own load is somehow a bit lighter. 

We need to take our little light out side of the walls of our churches and let them shine every where we go. 

Prayer: Lord help us to be your ambassadors. Let our lives demonstrate the truths of your kingdom. Let our kindness speak louder than our words. Help us to love others till they ask us why. 










Monday, July 29, 2013

What is a Precept?

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

Psalm 119:92-94 (NIV)

92 If your law had not been my delight,
I would have perished in my affliction.
93 I will never forget your precepts,
for by them you have preserved my life.
94 Save me, for I am yours;
I have sought out your precepts.

In reading our passage for today you find the word precept twice. One time it says I will never forget your precepts. The other I have sought your precepts. So do you even know what a precept is?

Here's what Mirriam Webster has to say.
Definition of PRECEPT
1: a command or principle intended especially as a general rule of action
2: an order issued by legally constituted authority to a subordinate official

Isaiah 28:10 KJV
For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:

A precepts is a command or instruction that is to guide our moral behavior. Isaiah tells us that we build one upon another, upon another. I talk to a lot of people who want to understand the Bible or want to know how to pray like I pray. We want to have the wealth of the knowledge of God instantly downloaded into our brain as if we were characters in the Matrix. We are like children in kindergarden wanting college level answers for our problems.

I think one of the reasons my prayers are effective is because I pray in line with Gods word as well as I allow the Holy Spirit to lead me. I've been walking with the Lord for about 32 years at this point. I try to spend time daily in His word and in fellowship with the Lord. Its not that prayer is complicated - its just talking to God and sharing with Him what is on your heart and then listening to what He might be saying. God will never say anything that violates His written word. 

The confusion comes in that we struggle with knowing if we are hearing our own thoughts, or God or distractions from other sources. Knowing the voice of God is like tuning your radio to the right frequency. Once you know where the station you want is, you are able to lock into that frequency.
The more you travel through the wilderness over and over the more a path begins to develop. Oce the path is established getting to your destination becomes much easier. The more we tune into God's voice the more we are able to recognize it. Also the more we know of His written word, the more we are able to filter out what is not the voice of God. 

I found a cool page on face book called Once-a-day that allows you to log your bible reading progress. They even give you little badges and things for various reading milestones. If regular bible reading or bible study is something you are working on this looks like it would be a helpful page. I am in no way affiliated with them and get noting for recommending them to you. I have often found bible reading plans helpful. I do more bible reading at Bible Gateway, on my computer or my i-phone than I do my actual bible these days. I love the search features and the ability to access instantly many parallel versions. So the idea of an on line tracking system is appealing to me.

So lets take a look at today's verse in The Message
Psalm 119:92-96 (MSG)

89-96 What you say goes, God,
and stays, as permanent as the heavens.
Your truth never goes out of fashion;
it’s as up-to-date as the earth when the sun comes up.
Your Word and truth are dependable as ever;
that’s what you ordered—you set the earth going.
If your revelation hadn’t delighted me so,
I would have given up when the hard times came.
But I’ll never forget the advice you gave me;
you saved my life with those wise words.
Save me! I’m all yours.
I look high and low for your words of wisdom.
The wicked lie in ambush to destroy me,
but I’m only concerned with your plans for me.
I see the limits to everything human,
but the horizons can’t contain your commands!

The idea of precepts here is translated as advice and wise words and commands. Perhaps those are a little easier to grab on to. Precept is not a word that I use all that often but I understand the idea behind it. Like little children the Lord, who begins a good work in you, sets out to little by little, truth by truth to train us to respond to the situations of life in ways that are pleasing to Him and show His kingdom truths to others as we live our lives before Him. We who have decided to follow him, desire to be more and more like Him. It is a life long process in which He instructs and refines us. There are  more treasures to be discovered in His word and in His presence.

"I have hidden your word in my heart so I might not sin against you". Psalm 119:11 is something I have tried to do. I hide God's word easiest through putting it to music. For some reason song lyrics stick in my brain. I have a friend Mary Lou, who is amazing at Bible memorization. I have often seen her flipping through her stack of Bible memory cards when she has a few minutes to wait for a meeting. She takes the time to memorize verses, but she does not stop there she actually practices them and keeps them warm and ready for use.

When you are in a crisis you really don't have time to study and build up your faith. That stuff needs to be done in advance. You need to have daily built up your faith through the study of God's word and through time spent in prayer so that when you find yourself in a tough spot its already in you.
You squeeze an orange and you get orange juice. When you are under pressure - what comes out?
If it is not what you want - then you need to consider what you have been feeding yourself.

We must press forward to know the Lord, to discover His ways. To little by little day by day build upon the foundation of faith that has been laid. Precept on precept, line upon line. Don't put off till someday when you have more time, what you could be developing in your life a little more each day. We make time for the things that are important to us. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

A Lasting Legacy

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio


Proverbs 10:7
The memory of the righteous is blessed, 
But the name of the wicked will rot.

About the time I became a Christian a man named Keith Green died in a tragic plane crash. A few years later there were memorial tribute concerts happening. (I linked you to the actual video of that tribute with Melody sharing the story and photos. It's powerfully inspiring) You would think after a few years of such activity the interest in this man's life would have died out. He had a profound impact on many people, myself included. Thirty one years laters his life still speaks and his music and writing is still challenging people to live a life sold out to the Lord.
Want to be inspired and challenged? Here is a downloadable version of Keith's book No Compromise

As a very young believer I was introduced to the Last Day's Magazine that was put by Keith and Melody Green. They feature various past issues on the ministry website. I remember being challenged by so many of the articles. I have to say that this ministry helped get me off to a strong and healthy start as a believer.  For years I have sung and listened to Keith's music. With Youtube you can see some of the videos. Its amazing that Keith's concerts were rarely video taped, he didn't like camera's. He wanted the focus to be on Jesus not him. Yet we have videos of his music and ministry because a month before the crash he was at a big outdoor festival where they recorded all the groups. That video became the memorial concert. I really hope you will take the time to watch it. Keith had an amazing heart for world missions.

If you went home to be with the Lord today - would you leave a legacy of faith that others could follow and be encourage and inspired by?

I found this article by Keith Green called What's Wrong With The Gospel? It will challenge you to look at some of the ways we have watered it down.

“If your heart takes more pleasure in reading novels, or watching TV, or going to the movies, or talking to friends, rather than just sitting alone with God and embracing Him, sharing His cares and His burdens, weeping and rejoicing with Him, then how are you going to handle forever and ever in His presence...? You’d be bored to tears in heaven, if you’re not ecstatic about God now!”
~ Green, Keith

Remembering Keith Green  is a fun sight by the Dillard's, a couple that worked closely with Keith. 
The main website for Last Day's Ministries has a lot of great resources and is still going strong 31 years after Keith's departure from this earth. 

One of my favorite Keith Green songs... The Sheep and the Goats There are many others on Youtube.

Anyway this weekend it will be 31 years since Keith went home to be with the Lord. Seemed a fitting thing to honor a life that has challenged and has inspired my own.  Thirty one years ago in October I became a believer when I was twenty one. Keith was 28 when he died on July 28th of that same year.  Here's where people are sharing their stories and memories of Keith and his impact on their lives. There are at this point 42 pages of short testimonies from lives who were touched in some way. Maybe you were one of them and have lost touch with Last Day's Ministry and do not realize it is still thriving. The memory of the righteous is a blessing. Keith's life as a believer was about knowing Jesus and following Him with his whole heart. He was a gift from the hands of a loving God, that keeps on giving long after his own race was run. Keith did not set out to leave a legacy - his heart was to be a Christian follower of Jesus. One to whom God would one day say "Well done my good and faithful servant, well done."

Prayer: Lord I pray that you will continue to breathe upon the work of Last Day's Ministries. Thank you for the many people who were inspired to go to the mission field, or to prayer or to a deeper commitment to following you, through Keith's songs and messages.  I pray that you would continue to bless his memory and that many others would be drawn to you for many many more years.  Help us all to live in closer communion with you and cause our lives to shine for your glory while we yet live and as an on going legacy long after we come home to you. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Lord Help


A Devotional by Margot Cioccio 

I am not feeling particularly inspired. So I prayed Lord HELP. I then decided that maybe you need some verses of God's promises to help. While my lack of inspiration is not really a dire condition. In my simple request I found something to share with you.  There are plenty of other verses but I only chose this handful for today.

Is. 41:13 "For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, 
saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee."


John 14:14 "If ye shall ask any thing in My name, 
I will do it."


Ps. 107:19-21 "Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and He saveth them out of their distresses. He sent His Word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions. Oh that men would praise the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!"


2 Kings. 20:5 "Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, 
I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee."


Is. 53:5 "But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed."


Ps. 33:20 "Our soul waiteth for the LORD: He is our Help and our Shield."


Isaiah 50:7 Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. 
Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.

Heb. 4:16 "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, 
that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."

Ps. 121:1-2 "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my Help. 
My Help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth."

What ever you are facing be it simple lack of inspiration or something more serious like sickness, or financial trouble, or relationship difficulties. Jesus is only a prayer call away. Don't feel like you have to work it out by yourself. Or feel that God is to busy for your need be it big or small. 
God delights in helping us. Too often we resort to every other possible resource before we turn to God. The Lord does not just come in to save the day - uninvited. He waits for us to realize our need and to turn to Him. 

Prayer: Lord I pray that you would help these reader to remember that you are always there for them. Help them to come to the end of their own means and devices and learn to see you as the
 I AM to their needs. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

In the end

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

Psalm 112:5 (NIV)
5 Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely,
who conduct their affairs with justice.

I think it is hard to be generous if one is not thankful, and it is hard to be thankful if one does not trust that God is able to provide and keep His promises. There you have it my profound thought for today. I've just been chopping onions and my eyes are still burning. We too easily can get into a horders or a poverty mindset. Thinking that there is not enough or there won't be enough.
We may pray God give us this day our daily bread but often we live as if a famine is just around the corner. We foolishly think that God is not able to provide for His own.


This passage goes on to say: 
6 Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever.
7 They will have no fear of bad news;
their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
8 Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear;
in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.
9 They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor,
their righteousness endures forever;
their horn will be lifted high in honor.

Are you reading this and saying "wait a minute, I've been shaken." Matthew Henry has this to say. "The satisfaction of saints, and their stability. It is the happiness of a good man that he shall not be moved for ever, Ps. 112:6. Satan and his instruments endeavour to move him, but his foundation is firm and he shall never be moved, at least not moved for ever; if he be shaken for a time, yet he settles again quickly." There are times and things that happen that do shake and unsettle us. If we stay close to the Lord - he does quickly help us to return to a place of being settled and unshaken in Him. I think sometime how we go through difficulties speaks louder to people of God, our help, then do our many words.  I like how verse 8 says "in the end they will look in triumph on their foes."

Who are your foes? I try to remember Ephesians 6:12 "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."

Foes that I see in peoples lives are things like depression, poverty, insecurity, fear, suicide, hopelessness, sickness, discouragement, anger, hatred, injustice.... in the end we will look in triumph on our foes.

I think at times we get so caught up in our own troubles that we forget to be generous to others around us. Lift up your head  - who can you help today. Put your problem into the capable hands of the Lord and allow the Holy Spirit to help you see how you can be a blessing and an answer to the prayers of someone else. 

Well I'm out of time for today. 

Prayer: Help us be on the look out for ways we can be generous and show your kindness to others. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Enough and Not Enough

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

Jesus: Let the little children come to Me; do not get in their way. For the kingdom of heaven belongs to children like these.Matthew 19:14 VOICE

I think there are times when we can become too serious about being "good" Christians. We can loose the child like quality of wonder and thankfulness and be all about trying to be good enough. 
The fact of the matter is that none of us will ever be good enough to meet the standards of a Holy God. Want proof - read the Old Testament. All the laws and regulations and they still needed a yearly atoning sacrifice on their behalf. The good news is that Jesus is our atoning sacrifice he paid the price once and for all when he went with out sin, willingly to the cross. 

Some of you are approaching your Christian life from a stand point of trying to read your bible enough, trying to pray enough, trying to do enough good things, trying to go to church enough. 
ENOUGH!!!! Really where do you draw the line between enough and not enough?

It takes child like faith to believe that all you need to do is believe that Jesus was able to take care of  it for you. We want to earn God's favor when it is entirely undeserved. 

So what about Christian disciplines? We're supposed to pray and read the word and do good deeds.... right? Christian disciplines of prayer, silence, bible study, devotion, worship, thankfulness, are all important but we don't do them to earn God's favor or to negotiate our way in to right standing with a Holy God. We do them because we want to become more and more like Jesus. We do them out of a heart of gratitude for what has already been done for us by Jesus at the cross. We do them because they help us to understand the heart and mind of God. 

A Crock for making Sauerkraut 
So to change the subject a wee bit or maybe its just my childlike interest in nutrition, wellness, cooking with real foods and  fermentation. 
A slicer for grating the cabbage or vegetables. 
Anyway, I was looking through the photos of the historic homestead that we visited recently. At the time I took some photos but really didn't register what they were. In my current fascination with fermenting vegetables I remembered the tour guide mentioning that they used a slicer and a crock to make sauerkraut.  Looking at the size of that crock they were making pretty large batches. Far beyond my overly large mason jars.

I have been looking into the history of fermenting. It seems that people kind of stumbled upon it. You milked your cow or goat and if you did not drink it all you put it in a skin and carried it around with you. Well it would turn into something yogurt like. In an effort to not waste food someone tasted it and didn't die or get sick. Turns out it was pretty good. Before you know it someone figured out cheese.

Meat was preserved by drying, smoking or salting. Vegetables were preserved by salting and allowing them to ferment.

Wine and beer seem to be some of the earliest fermentation discoveries. That wonderful grape harvest made some wonderful fruit juice, but let it set very long and it would start to ferment. Its pretty amazing to think that people figured these things out. We are so detached from the process of making things in our society.
In my wellness studies I am seeing that there is a value to being able to use real, un processed foods.
Did you know in the Hebrew culture they have a food called Russel or Fermented beets. Russel is a Slavic word for brine. Anyway they used these fermented vegetables in soups, and flavoring, and for things like horseradish.   I found this quote that I thought was interesting. 
"What's that mean? Sour pickled cucumbers, sauerkraut and other pickled vegetables are an important part of Eastern European Jewish cuisine. Sometimes people just say "sours."
What's in it? According to fermentation expert Sandor Ellix Katz, properly made sours are brined, not preserved in vinegar, and get their sour flavor from the fermentation process. Whether the brine is all salt or part vinegar, the pickles also get flavor from cloves of garlic, dill weed, dill seed, peppercorns and sometimes coriander seeds. The best pickles have cloudy brine and lots of these herbal bits floating at the bottom.
When do you eat it? Pickles are good with a sandwich in a deli, on a cut-glass dish to round out a meal or just out of the jar for a snack. You might need help getting the jar open, as the fermentation action inside sometimes creates a powerful vacuum.
What's it like? You can get pickles at all stages of fermentation: new pickles, half sours or full sours. Half sours are my favorite. (The same goes for sauerkraut--usually the jars are marked "new kraut.") The little Israeli cucumber pickles from a can are very sour and limp and preserved in vinegar--those are the ones that come in a felafel. In Israel you can also get pickled eggplant, which looks like it comes from Mars and is, in my opinion, completely awesome, and pickled turnips, which are beautifully colored and crunchy."  From the Jewish Food Cheat Sheet By InterfaithFamily

Here's another tid bit that I stumbled upon my child like love of information.
Captain Cook, fed sauerkraut to his crewman, and was  awarded a medal by the Royal Society for conquering scurvy. Sauerkraut is very high in vitamin C and very easy to take with you to sea in crocks. Armies on long campaigns would get scurvy even on land when fresh foods ran out.  Between 1500-1800 about two million sailors would have died of scurvy. Scurvy was pretty nasty stuff, causing the gums to bleeds and bruises and itching sores on the body.  I found a very interesting article on Scurvy if you want to know more about it click the link.

Lacto Fermented Vegi Cole Slaw
This morning I used my lacto fermented vegetables to make a coleslaw in my mini food processer that was so yummy I ate the whole batch.  Think I'm probably safe from Scurvy for today. Just think about all those wonderful bio available vitamins. I found out that the good bacteria that is introduced into you system actually makes B vitamins.

Then I started something called a Ginger bug that makes a fermented bubbly liquid out of Ginger and a sweetener, that you can use to make homemade soda pop.  My kitchen is becoming a big science experiment.

So I have probably gotten to Enough on the food experimentation for my devotional blog. But I am sure there are some lessons to be learned in how you can start with one thing and it be transformed into something new. Jesus does that with us, he takes us in our raw sinful form and he is like the good bacteria that transforms us into something new.

St. Patrick used the very common shamrock to explain the trinity. We should be able to use common things to explain the truths of the Kingdom. Jesus taught using parables and examples that were common to the people of the day.

Prayer:
I pray that as you go through your day you will notice the things around you that might just lead you to talking to someone about the deeper truths of God. Help us not to relegate our faith to church on Sunday but for it to be evident in every part of our life. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Salt and Fermenting

My first batch of cultured vegi's
A Devotional by Margot Cioccio 

Matthew 5:13-16 The Voice
Salt draws out the good flavors subtly hidden in food and preserves what would otherwise spoil, as do those who claim to be children of God. You, beloved, are the salt of the earth. But if salt becomes bland and loses its saltiness, can anything make it salty again? No. It is useless. It is tossed out, thrown away, or trampled. And you, beloved, are the light of the world. A city built on a hilltop cannot be hidden. Similarly it would be silly to light a lamp and then hide it under a bowl. When someone lights a lamp, she puts it on a table or a desk or a chair, and the light illumines the entire house. ...

I have been in a reading mood today. I've been reading about laco-fermentation because my first batch of fermented vegetables is too salty for my taste. I'll still use them in small quantities.  So I was on the hunt to find out just how much salt was really needed in the fermenting process. So I've made a new batch with whey and much less salt. I am not an expert at this point in fermenting it is still an experiment for me. But it has been a food type that I have wanted to incorporate in how we eat. Some how in the process of fermenting the vegetables much much more of the vitamins become bio available.  This is not a health blog but is a devotional blog. So you are looking for some spiritual nugget to help you on your way. 

I guess I am coming to believe that our lives are not segmented into separate and distinct boxes. My physical health will have an affect on my mental and spiritual health. I am finding that the Lord is present in all the things I am doing. He is not relegated to just when I go to church or just when I am praying. I try to be conscious of the Holy Spirits leading in everything I am doing. So today I have not felt ready to write until just now. What I am thinking about today is Salt. 

Back in biblical times they did not have refrigeration. They were part of much more agricultural society that followed the seasons of planting and harvest. I have to imagine that a lot of time must have been spent preserving food in ways that it would carry them through leaner seasons of the year. 
Salt was used for preserving. In my reading about fermenting, you can ferment vegetables without salt but they are not crisp and turn mushy. I have been adding whey - that I drain of of active culture plain yogurt to add to my vegetable to help introduce more of the good bacteria and to speed up the fermenting process. 

Our verse today says "Salt draws out the good flavors subtly hidden in food and preserves what would otherwise spoil, as do those who claim to be children of God."
So my first attempt at cultured vegetables was too salty. A little salt goes a long way. Honestly a whole bunch of christians can be a bit too salty for our society to deal with. We have to get out of our little or gigantic church huddles and spread out into the world to bring both the good flavor and to preserve our cities, states, nations. One of the notable qualities of salty believers is that they cause people they are around to become thirsty. We make people around us thirsty for living water that comes from Jesus. If you are staying in close contact with the Lord you will have living water flowing through your life that you can ladle out. 

We add spice and flavor to our world. We bring hopefully God's perspective, if we are people of the Book. Well I think I'm going to try making some lacto fermented ketchup, since I won't use the stuff from the grocery store because it is filled with high fructose corn syrup. We've made ketchup before using alternative sweeteners.  I will make this batch with stevia and with the added benefits of lacto fermentation.  

"Though the term "fermented" sounds vaguely distasteful, the results of this ancient preparation and preservation technique -- produced through the breakdown of carbohydrates and proteins by microorganisms such as bacteria, yeasts and molds -- are actually delicious. Even more so, they are so beneficial to overall health that some of these "functional foods" are now considered to be "probiotics," increasing your overall nutrition, promoting the growth of friendly intestinal bacteria, and aiding digestion and supporting immune function, including an increase in B vitamins (even Vitamin B12), omega-3 fatty acids, digestive enzymes, lactase and lactic acid, and other immune chemicals that fight off harmful bacteria and even cancer cells." From Incredible Health Benefits article on fermented food. 

"Fermented foods are healthy for everyone, but the high concentration of natural probiotics they contain makes them particularly beneficial for people who have issues with their digestion. Eating cultured foods may also be helpful for balancing blood sugar and for weight loss and, because your digestive system is closely linked to your immune system (around 75% of your immune system’s cells are found in your digestive tract!), consuming copious amounts of cultured foods can make you less prone to illnesses of all kinds. I try to include at least one serving of lacto-fermented foods in my diet each day as part of my healthy lifestyle." From Deliciously Organic

The left is the first batch - the right is todays less salty version
So anyway there you have it - a bit on salt and how we should be like salt and probably more than you wanted to know about laco fermenting. My summer posts are probably a bit relaxed and running the gambit of my wide variety of interests.  

I've included a photo of my vegetable jars. You can see in the first jar on the left. That a lot of fermenting has happened. They have a very salty pickles. I took my two original jars and drained them and put all the vegetables into one jar and refilled it with the same liquid. 
I keep tasting them every few days because the fermenting process changes how they taste. They started out just salty and now they are more pickled salty. I'm hoping for more pickled with less salty at least that is my hope for my second batch. It needs to sit for at lest three days in the dark. My first jar is about 11 days old at this point. When they get to a taste that I like they will go in the refrigerator to slow down the fermenting process.  

Prayer: I pray that the Lord will make you salty and that they people around you will get thirsty. I pray you will be a blessing wherever you go and what ever you are doing that people will see the love of Jesus in your actions and in how you live your life. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Great News

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio 

So don’t be afraid. I am here, with you; don’t be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, help you. I am here with My right hand to make right and to hold you up. Isaiah 41:10 VOICE

I got the following e-mail today from the founder of The Wellness Education Center, where I applied to go for massage therapy training. "Margot
You are accepted, and yes go ahead and order your books. Best to do it on our web site.That way there is less chance of amazon sending you the wrong books. We are glad to have you come to our school and look forward to catching up in Aug and class in the fall.  ~ Dylan"

When I have felt most unsettled was earlier in the Spring and early part of the summer. When I did not know what direction I would be going. For some reason the lack of a plan causes me to feel anxious. I have felt all along that the Lord has been saying things to me much like the words of our verse today. I would be able to push aside those anxious feelings and trust that God did have a plan. He had a good plan just like he promises in Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Eternal, “plans for peace, not evil, to give you a future and hope—never forget that." 

I gotta say that I am glad now to have a plan. I start massage school in September. I have been organizing my schedule and my life to that end, even before I knew how I would pay for school. Even before I had received official word of my acceptance. I have just known that this was the direction and that God would work out the details.  It was odd going from not having a directional clue to suddenly waking up one morning and feeling led to at least check out what the area massage schools were offering. One day it all just clicked and I started taking little steps of faith in that direction. With each little step I began to see a new plan and a new dream. Its still a rough sketch and I have some new skills that I will have to master over the next year. I am sure there will be some  challenges and obstacles along the way but I am confident that the Lord who has begun this new work in me will be faithful to help me complete it.
Masking the border and the game boards locations. 

Cai drawing in the Geometric Doodles
In the mean time my son Cai and I have started on a new mosaic. We are turning our coffee table into a mosaic game table using his geometric doodle designs.

 His doodles are a bit more complicated that I had expected to lay glass
All the black will be silver 
 around.  He finished drawing the doodles all around the table edges and has begun to help me with laying glass. 
This one has a bit more of an abstract feel. The outside border will be using a medium purple glass and I hope some flowers. We've decided its too hot most days for bike riding so it is good to have a project.
One of Niah's projects

Niah is busy working on cartooning and animation. He is doing some really nice work.

Hope you are enjoying the summer. Don't forget that the Lord is always there for you.  "So don’t be afraid. I am here, with you; don’t be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, help you. I am here with My right hand to make right and to hold you up. Isaiah 41:10 VOICE

Prayer: I pray Lord that you will lead and guide each reader today. That they will know that they don't have to be afraid, because you are there to help and strengthen them.
Thank you Lord, that you have a plan and you are able to help us figure it out. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Beauty for Ashes

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

    Isaiah 61:3
    As for those who grieve over Zion, 
    God has sent me to give them a beautiful crown in exchange for ashes, 
    To anoint them with gladness instead of sorrow, 
    to wrap them in victory, joy, and praise 
    instead of depression and sadness. 
    People will call them magnificent, 
    like great towering trees standing for what is right. 
    They stand to the glory of the Eternal who planted them.

I've been working on these bottles today for a friend who has ordered them to give as gifts. She runs summer music camps for kids in Ohio and will be giving these to her workers. 

It's funny how things come up we were talking about stained glass because her camp kids had done a craft project that had a bit of a stained glass look to it.  I was sharing how my mosaics are made from the scrap from stained glass windows and that I even save the tiny chips and put them into sun catcher bottles. I do buy some glass that is new but I buy scrap when ever I can because it costs less. I suppose it is my small part in recycling.   Anyway the tags on the bottles say "Beauty can be found even in brokenness" Sadly I just realized while looking at the above photo that I neglected the wee little word "be". So I will be making the tags over again. Thankfully I noticed the error before I had attached all the tags to the bottles. Broken glass can be quite beautiful - miss spelled tags... well thats a problem. 

Our verse today talks about God exchanging beauty for ashes and joy and praise for sorrow and depression. Our God is really good about taking things that are broken and making something beautiful out of them. I don't know why He does not just protect us from ever getting broken in the first place. Perhaps in the first place we were not all that concerned with God's way of doing things or his input into our life. We had it handled... right? 

We are quick to blame God when things don't work out how we had planned but often we never really invited Him into the things we were doing. Most of the time when we finally get around to calling out to God we are down to last resorts. When we invite Him he comes in and helps us pick up the pieces. Generally when he puts things back together it is not exactly like the original thing that got broken. I like to think of it like a life mosaic. He sees this piece and that other broken piece and puts those pieces together with other parts and bits to create a new wonderful design. 

How has God picked up the broken pieces of your life? I'd love it if you shared a comment about your journey and God's great faithfulness. 

Prayer: I pray that you will see how much God loves you all the way down to the smallest bits. That he will help you to see how nothing that you have gone through is waisted. Thank you Lord that you can make beauty from burned up ashes. You can take our lives and work in them so that they become a praise to your magnificent glory. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

To Really Live

Vibrant!
A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

Romans 1:16 (MSG)
16-17 It’s news I’m most proud to proclaim, this extraordinary Message of God’s powerful plan to rescue everyone who trusts him, starting with Jews and then right on to everyone else! God’s way of putting people right shows up in the acts of faith, confirming what Scripture has said all along: “The person in right standing before God by trusting him really lives.”

I love the last line of this version of Romans 1:16 The person in right standing before God by trusting him....REALLY LIVES. 

None of us deserves salvation. We all fall pitifully short of God's standards. Our right standing does not come from attaining some arbitrary level of spiritual perfection. It's not based upon you pulling your self up by your boot straps and getting your act together. It is based solely on trusting or believing that Jesus is able to do what he says he can do. It is an extraordinary message of Gods plan to rescue EVERYONE who trusts in Him. Sadly this gift is not accepted by the vast masses of people in the world all around us. To access this gift one must use faith. 

We use faith when we sit on a chair  - trusting that it will hold us up. 
Its not like Jesus came to condem us. Its like the guy who gets bit by a poisonous snake. The poison is already at work in his body. Just because the medic shows up on the scene offering an antidote does not mean that the medic is condemning for getting bit by a snake. You are dying already - the question is weather or not you will allow the medic to administer the antidote to stop the effects of the poison before it kills you. Too often folks look at the antidote provided by Jesus and prefer to try every other home remedy they can think of to try and solve their problem, while the sands in the hour glass slowly slip away. 

So any way on to REALLY LIVING: Do you remember the old movie "The Wizard of Oz" 
Really living is like going from life in black and white to life in color. It must have been so amazing back when it first came out and the use of color in movies was new. Woosh - you get to Oz and everything is suddenly vibrant with life and color. Too many folks are barely living - they go through the motions of life but their mind or their heart or both are not really there. My favorite newer version and twist on the Wizard of Oz story is called "The Tin Man" I suppose that is just a side note. I could draw some spiritual parallels from the story but then I might give away spoilers for those of you who have not seen it yet. 

The idea of REALLY LIVING also reminds me of the story of the Velveteen Rabbit. What made the toy rabbit really alive is really being loved and played with by a child. In the process of being loved the toy would get very thread bare and worn.

“Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you. 
When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, 
then you become Real.'

'Does it hurt?' asked the Rabbit.

'Sometimes,' said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. 'When you are Real you don't mind being hurt.'

'Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,' he asked, 'or bit by bit?'

'It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Skin Horse. 'You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.”


― Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

It is God's great love that causes us to really live. Once we are done with trying to clean our self up, or find the home remedy to the poison of sin and accept the one remedy specifically designed to solve our problem. Then out of being loved and loving we begin to change. The more we get to know Jesus from His Word and from spending time in His presence the more we are transformed. 

Really living is not becoming all religious and keeping a very strict lifestyle of do's and don'ts. We become more and more alive as we begin to become in sync with who and what God has designed us each to be. Sure there are things the Word tells us not to do because those very things will damage and break us and make it harder for us to fully be all that God intends us each to be. 

I think REALLY LIVING is knowing you are in the center of God's design and plan for you.  Sometimes that requires some adjusting and refining as we go along. Sometimes it take a massive overhaul. The good news, however, is that no matter where you are in that process Jesus promises to complete the good work that He has begun in your life. All He needs from you is a trusting, willing and obedient heart. 

Another of my favorite movies is called Second Hand Lion's. The young boy, Walter is dropped off on the door step of his two uncles, who know nothing about raising a kid. They do however have a pretty good handle on really living life to the fullest. In their old age they have the most wonderful stories of their adventures. I think about that movie and wonder what some of us will have to share of our adventures. Did we really live or did we live virtually through TV shows and on-line games. 
Will you have stories to tell of how God did incredible things in and through your life or will you have spent your life in the numb bubble of addiction, guilt, shame or perhaps simply complacency.

I love this photo of David 
Well enough for this post. I heard back from the Massage School I want to attend and they are out of town on vacation until August 12th. The director said we would take care of the paperwork and final details after that. So I guess in the mean time I will continue organizing and cleaning my house. Having fun with my family and enjoying the summer. I suppose I could order my books because the note I got back from them sounded like they were pleased to know I would be attending their program. Well I need to run - I have two more guitar student to share the joy of music with, yet today. 

Prayer: I pray that you will allow the Lord to come in and help you to become fully alive in Him. That you would be so filled with His love that you would experience it's transforming power. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Brought To Fullness

The first drawing in my journal
A Devotional by Margot Cioccio


Colossians 2:9-10(NIV)
9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.

Colossians 2:9-10 (MSG)
8-10 Watch out for people who try to dazzle you with big words and intellectual double-talk. They want to drag you off into endless arguments that never amount to anything. They spread their ideas through the empty traditions of human beings and the empty superstitions of spirit beings. But that’s not the way of Christ. Everything of God gets expressed in him, so you can see and hear him clearly. You don’t need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without him. When you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too. His power extends over everything.

Painted on a day that I felt adrift and directionless
Jesus modeled kingdom life for us. He lived openly, he was not some cloistered mystic teacher hidden away for only those who have the bucks to experience his wisdom. I don't know about not needing a telescope or a microscope we have both and they make it possible to see very small things and very far away things. They don't really help you to see God, although they do make it possible to see the wonders and the vastness of His creation. Which is pretty cool. Horoscopes I could do with out. I have no need to consult the stars about my future even when it is un clear. 

I do think there is need in all of our lives for positive prophecy and blessings. We need to be people who see the divine spark in others and encourage them. Most of us walk around with so much self doubt that it is difficult for us to even see our own potential. We need life giving leaders who will say like my own pastor did. "Margot, I believe by September you will have a whole new life." At the time he said that to me all I could see was that my life was in a state of change. Things that I had been doing had come to an end. During the time that I just felt lost and like a boat adrift with out a paddle, but I held on to that word. I tried to focus on the possibilities rather than the disappointment and the uncomfortable feelings being like a baby bird pushed from the safe nest of my familiar comfort zone.  My point here is that we need people to speak hope, and to see the gifts, to recognize that spark. We need people who will come along side of us and affirm and encourage steps of faith towards who God has created us uniquely to become. We also need to be that kind of person for others. 

Drawn in early May
"When you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too. His power extends over everything." I could see many possibile directions to go. You might think, just pick one. I have experienced being out of step with God so I did not want to just head off in any direction. So I waited, prayed, journaled, read books, often felt like throwing those books against the walls. I did notice in looking back that I kept drawing mountains and hands on things. 

I have noticed with the Lord that you can feel like you are walking along blindly with no clue of how to change or solve an issue you are facing and then suddenly you turn some corner and everything starts to make sense. His provision may have even been there all along, you just could not see it. I think of Hagar in the desert, terribly distraught because she had been sent away from her life with Abraham into the desert wilderness. Her fear of having to watch her son die of thirst so consumed her that she could not see the nearby well. Then suddenly God helped her to see it. 

You may feel like you are out of step but this part of todays verse really jumps out for me. "When you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too. His power extends over everything."
When you come to him. He needs to be your first rather than your last resort. Whatever you are facing today, top and take some time to come to Him. Lift up your concerns to Him, but also take some time to just wait and listen. He longs to walk beside you and to guide you. He does have the map and the plan ... you think we might want to consult Him. He wants to help you but waits to be invited. 

Too often we want God to bless our plans rather than fit into His plans. He wants to bring you to that centered place of fullness in Him. He want's to be your "All in All". Its easy to get distracted by things that don't matter. We can be so busy doing "stuff" that we don't have time to do what He has really created for us. Then we get mad when he strips away some of that unnecessary stuff. When all the people we generally run to are not available we want to shake our fist and cry out why me. When we really just need to go to the Lord. He is our comforter, our friend, our guide, our lover, our teacher, the one who picks us up when we fall and dusts us off and says try again, you'll get it. 
 
I think it is interesting when I drew this drawing of possible directions back on 4/27/12 I did not put them in any particular order. Look what one is on the top... Massage Therapy.  As I took little steps in this direction doors just kept opening. I had the interest and inspiration to even take those initial steps and to visit the various training programs available in my area. At this point the finances needed have been provided and am just waiting to do the final paper work with the school I want to attend. (They are on summer break).  I've re-organized my schedule to make it work with the new school schedule in the fall. Not much left to do but enjoy the summer and to be very thankful that God has given me a new dream and new direction. Well... I still need to order my books and supplies. 

Prayer:
I want to pray for those of you who feel stuck and need to make some changes in your life. That God will help you to get un stuck. That He will give you new vision, and purpose. That He will give you the courage to leave the comfortable to move towards that new dream. For all of you I pray that you will know the fullness of Christ in your life. That you will allow him into your difficult and your secret places. That He will beging a transforming work in your life. Stripping away the stuff that is no longer needed and making room for wonderful new things that He has for you. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Garden of Your Life

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

James 1:19-21 (NIV) Listening and Doing
19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

Immediately upon reading this passage did you think of a list of moral filth and evil. Oh yeah I gotta stop cussing, smoking, drinking, fornicating, lying, cheating, stealing, over eating, gossiping, being angry, hateful, selfish, self centered, mean...

We want to put bandage on surface problems when there are deeper wounds and issues at the roots. There are structures that we have long ago set in place and we are essentially stuck in our behavioral ruts. Sure you make a stab at changing our "bad" behaviors but life gets busy and stressful and before you know it we have slipped back into the old ways of living. 

To change a behavior you have to go to the root structures. You have to look at the unfilled needs that are driving you. You need to get in tune with what and who you were created to be. I gotta say of that takes Jesus. He knows how much we can handle and what things need to be worked on first before other things can be dealt with.  All too often in our disfunction we don't have healthy models around us to look to. Everyone around us is struggling with similar issues. Its like the blind trying to lead the blind. We look to the Word like we do the smorgasbord picking and choosing the things that are tasty, and convenient and we walk away stuffed but not really nourished. We become spiritually fat and complacent leaving churches because we wine that we were not getting fed. Really, don't use that excuse to leave a church it just tells everyone that you are too lazy to pick up the spoon and feed yourself. It says loudly and clearly that you where there to be served not to be like Jesus and serve. You would be amazed how much you would grow if you would find a way to use your gifts and talents to serve others. 

Here's today's verse from the Message. 

James 1:21 (MSG) Act on What You Hear
19-21 Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.

I like the part that says in simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life. When I think about moral filth I try to examine myself and not point the finger at others who are struggling. Where is my heart deceitful, what areas have I not given over to Jesus. I like how the Message calls moral filth, spoiled virtue. It is the places where we are out of sync from God's plans and purposes for our life. It is taking out the distractions and the stuff that keeps us from doing and being who we were created to be. 

So before you leave this post thinking you are ok because no longer smoke, drink or cuss like a sailor, stop and ask the Holy Spirit to show you the spoiled virtue and any evil cancers growing in your life. Ask Him to show you the roots and the structures that keep you stuck in those same old ruts year after year. Ask Him to begin a transforming work in you. 

Well I could go on and talk about listening or anger or learning to be slow to speak but this is what flowed out in response to this verse today. So in an effort towards shorter posts I'm going to leave you to the Holy Spirit to address those things that the Lord shows you. I am available for phone and e-mail coaching if you have something you are ready to work on and want weekly support and encouragement. 


Friday, July 12, 2013

A New View

A Devotional By Margot Cioccio

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”Matthew 4:4

For years I have looked at this verse and summarized from it that one should focus on the spiritual life and not worry about the needs of the body. Pair this with Luke 12:27 and in my mind it meant clothes and stuff is not important, building your spiritual life is what counts. “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!  

Luke 12:27 is talking about not worrying. Worry is toxic, it causes stress, which cause us to hunch up into a closed defensive position. Consider how the wildflowers grow... tall and stately or spreading and multiplying. 

Jeremiah 33:3 ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’

I think when I was younger and faced some major disappointments I shut up a lot of my heart. When I became a believer I was not able to sort out what of my old life was worth keeping. So I distanced myself from most of it and started over with things I did feel were christian enough. It has only been in recent years that I began to look at the past that I had locked away. I locked away everything, the good with the bad. Since it was attached to some pain and disappointment I put a mental sign on the door or the trunk that said "Danger Keep Out". Over the past few years Jesus has been helping me to go through those things and to realize that most of it was not that bad. Yes there were some painful and disappointing things but one by one he has helped me to take responsibility for my part in them. He has helped me to repent, and to forgive. 

My pastor prayed for me not too long ago. He prayed that all the thousands of whys would become like butterflies. That when I walked past them they would flutter around a bit but they could no longer hurt me. He said look at the beauty of each of them, even the ugly looking ones and see what those things have worked in me. Blessings often are dressed up as troubles that we must find a way to overcome. I notice that I can now walk by the things that I have let free from the trunk and behind the doors that said "Danger Keep Out" and those things do flutter a bit but they don't hurt me anymore and I am no longer afraid of them or the emotions attached to them. 

Back behind those doors were also locked away things like painting, riding my bike and an interest in natural health and wellness. I think perhaps locked away also was the person that God created me to be because with out my own loves and dreams I have had to adopt the dreams of others. It has been a long journey and God has been working and fully knew when I would be strong enough to deal with the locked away things. His timing is perfect, so I am not filled with regrets of "oh if only I'd done this sooner". Along the way I have gained some wonderful skills and I have become strong in the word and learned to walk very closely with the Holy Spirit. Honestly most of the many years I was not even aware that the trunk and the Danger Keep Out doors were even there.  
It was just stuff I didn't think about or have any reason dig into. So its not like I have spent years in travail over these things. When in the Lord's timing, I was moved to discover the secret places, I have to say there were a lot of difficult and confusing emotions attached to many of the things that I found there. The Lord has been gracious to never give me more than I can handle and He has been patient and given me time to process each and every thing that has come up. I can say at this point that when memories surface they simply flutter a bit and then settle back into their places. Maybe there is still stuff that needs dealt with at some point, but I'm to the point that I can trust Jesus in and through the process because I have seen His gentleness and faithfulness and have learned to trust it. 

So this is the last day of my vacation. Tomorrow we head for home. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with my mom and aunt.  We have had a wonderful time cooking healthy, nourishing foods. We got some wonderful books by nutritionist, Maria Emmerich http://astore.amazon.com/marisnutran05-20 that have added a greater understanding to the nutrition side of low carb and gluten free way of eating. I've been low carbing off and on for years for weight loss and for health. I just feel better when I eat this way. I realized several years ago that there were some emotional barriers to my weight loss that I needed to deal with and at this point I have discovered that it is really a chord of three strands that all works together. Learning to cook and eat differently, dealing with the emotional baggage, and understanding the nutritional science behind it all. I have in the process really re-discovered my interest in all things that promote wellness and wholeness of life. I am also looking at the Bible a bit differently and seeing that yes Jesus wants us to develop our spiritual life but He and the bible spends a lot of time talking about how to live this life. There is a balance that I had trouble seeing before. 

The photo at the top is of some of the healthy foods we have been creating. The jars are filled with fermenting vegetables. Before the industrial revolution it was a common way to preserve foods. The fermentation process creates probiotic good bacteria, that helps to restore the right conditions in our gut. When our gut it is out of wack people begin to suffer from various illnesses and from depression and anxiety. If you look around at our society we are an out of wack people living on processed foods devoid of nutrition. The fermenting process also makes the vitamins in those vegetables more bio available. I have read that the vitamin content goes up by 700%. Pretty amazing stuff. I find it fascinating. 
Anyway yesterday we made homemade cream cheese, which was pretty cool and tasted quite yummy. We've made wonderful meals and yummy treats. Its been a good 10 days. 

Today I have a long list of things to make so my moms freezer and fridge are stocked with before I leave and stuff to take home so my own home is stocked back up after this vacation. So I better get to it. I'll be back with you on Monday. 
Have a great weekend. Thank you to those of you who commented on posts this week, your feed back means so much to me. 


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Kitties and the Sovereignty of God

Me holding baby kitty named Rewind
A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

“Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you. Jeremiah 32:17

Yesterday we had to take my aunts little dog to the vet to be put down. She was getting very old and was having trouble walking down the stairs with out falling. Her lack bladder control was becoming and increasing problem. So calls had gone out to my sister who is a veterinarian. She felt it was time to put the dog down. So we made an appointment a weeks ago for after the 4th of July holiday. 
My mom and I were concerned about my aunt not having a little companion animal. We felt a cat would be easier for her to take care of than another dog. So we looked on line for Siamese kittens. 
We found them in Seattle and in California but nothing in our immediate area. The ones we did find were in the $200+ range. So we kind of put the idea on the back burner. 

My story really does go along with today's verse, I'm not just giving you a personal update. 
Euthanizing a pet is emotionally difficult and I have not ever had a pet that needed to be put down. 
My aunt held together pretty well through the experience, holding her little dog, Sally while the vet injected first a sedative, and then several other injections before the final one that stopped her heart.
The whole process only took a few minutes and was painless and little Sally was very peaceful through it. When we had walked into the room to wait for our appointment with the vet, we had passed a kennel that had four Siamese kittens and I pointed it out to my mom as I went in to be with my aunt through the Euthanizing. 

My mom stayed out in the waiting room enquiring about the kittens. When we came out she was in the process of purchased brother and sister kittens. So our verse today asks the question, is anything to hard for God? I had prayed for the day to go smoothly. My aunt struggles with a bit of dementia and at times can be a difficult to deal with. I had prayed about my concern for her being with out a companion animal. Neither being knock down, drag out, pound the heavens kind of prayers. Just little concerns that I had thought about and lifted to the Lord. 

One of the owners of that vet office breeds two of her cats every couple of years. Here's whats interesting. We had to decide between several offices for the Euthanasia procedure. The one closest to us was very old school and did not feel sedating the animal was necessary. So we decided against them. My sister recommend several others and my mom had called asked them about the procedure and felt this one would do it the way my sister felt it should be done. My sister lives six hours away on the other side of the state of Washington but went to vet school here in the area. 
God went before us in this whole process, before we even realized we would want kittens, He had a sovereign plan already in place for us. My mother and aunt are not believers and little things like my burned finger suddenly stopping hurting, when they expected I would likely have several days of discomfort, really speaks to them. I have given up trying to talk them into Jesus and have long since simply lived my faith openly before them. Actually with most people I have gone with simply being a living bible, and loving them til they ask why. I figure when people are ready, they will start asking questions because they see something in you that is different. They will taste the fruit of your life and know that something is different about you. I realize that people are always watching how I live and how I handle the difficulties of life. When they see me be able to walk through difficulties with the peace of God, when they know they would be a wreck in the same situations, it speaks loudly. My mom has said to me on occasion - "things always work out for you Margot" 
It is true - Romans 8:28 is in effect in my life. 
    "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." 
People toss it around pretty liberally like a bandaid that can be put on every problem people face. It is however a verse with a few conditions. This verse is for those who love him. Which means that John 14:23 is also in effect in your life. Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Granted we all fall short but for the most part, your heart needs to be set on doing things according to the teachings of Jesus.  There is a second condition to Romans 8:29 it say "who have been called according to his purpose." Are you living your life asking God to go along with your plans or is your life about following Him and fitting in to His plans? Do you even know what God's purposes are? They are spelled out pretty clearly in His Word. I know in my own life that I do my best to meet the conditions of Romans 8:28 so I can be confident that it is a promise that is in effect for me in my life. It does not mean that I don't have troubles and face hardships because I do - we all do. 
I tend to look at life's troubles as blessings in disguise. James 1:2-4  Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Well I see lots of rabbit trails I could go off on to make this post dreadfully long but I will save them for other days and trust that something I've said today will connect with you and help or encourage you in some way. 

Oh I forgot to tell you the kitty's names. (Ron Ferlito you will laugh cause you came up with these names as a joke years ago). Their names are Pause (Paws) and Rewind. 

Prayer
I pray the Lord will go before you and make a way for you where there does not seem to be one. That you will see his Sovereignty as He sets up the answers to your prayers long before you even pray them.