Friday, July 30, 2010


My precious friend, Marsha Baker, has published her first cookbook. Here's the way she was introduced to me a decade ago during one of my speaking events: This is Marsha...she's a good cook, but a BETTER BAKER! Well, Marsha "good cook, better" Baker certainly lives up to her name and shares some of her fabulous recipes in this first collection of family favorites.

These recipes (300 of them) are family-friendly, using ingredients most will have on hand.There are also many tips and tricks to help make life easier for you in the kitchen.

Appetizers....Pumpkin dip, BLT Cherry Tomato Bites

Soups and Salads...Baked Potato Soup, Cheesey Chicken Chowder, Pink Fluff Salad, Gooey Grapes

Vegetables and Side Dishes...Cottage Potatoes, Microwave Cauliflower and Cheese, Kraut 'n' Beans, Squash Custard

Main Dishes...Easy Bean Stew, Pizza Broiled Sandwiches, Chicken Enchiladas, Creamy Tacos, Chicken Squares

Bread and Rolls...Grainy Wheat Bread, Hawaiian Bread, Poppyseed Bread, Brazilian Puff, Upside Down Pineapple Biscuits, Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

Desserts.... Austrian Cream Cheese Bars, Payday Bars, Cream Puff Cake, Butterscotch Apple Cake, Buster Bar Dessert

"Lighter Choices".....Pumpkin Spice Muffins, Chocolate Swirl Cake, Makeover Rhubarb Strawberry Crunch, and more!

Marsha's special touch permeates the collection through favorite personal and family childhood recollections. She also added recipe notes so she can be her usual 'chatty self'...and there are inspirational quotes, too.
(Like....'a single man is incomplete...once he's married, he's finished')

For more information on how to order "Recipes & Recollections," go to Marsha's blog @ and click on the cookbook icon. Happy cooking!

Monday, July 26, 2010


Though you won't find this medical term on the illustration at left, I've been blessed with a good "forgetter." I can watch a movie and then watch it again six months later and be just as surprised by the ending. Fabulous. My family could give me the same birthday card each year, and I'd never know it. Hmmm, maybe they've already been doing that. I'll have to start keeping birthday cards in a drawer and checking them. Nope, that won't work. I'll forget where I keep them. A good forgetter is also handy when it comes to relationships. I tend to forgive rather easily. I don't hold grudges for long and it seems my pain from betrayal fades more quickly than others. Why? I'm not sure, but I think it has something to do with this good forgetter. (Did I mention that already?) There has been in recent days, however, a painful relationship that became too big for my forgetter to forget. A root of bitterness grew without my awareness or permission and soon bloomed into an ugly weed that affected my other relationships. The Lord took me through a process of tearing down the weeds and living with truths my forgetter must now remember. Jacob endured a similar process of letting go…

Gen 31:38-42 – “[Jacob said to Laban,] 'I have been with you for twenty years now. Your sheep and goats have not miscarried, nor have I eaten rams from your flocks. I did not bring you animals torn by wild beasts; I bore the loss myself. And you demanded payment from me for whatever was stolen by day or night. This was my situation: The heat consumed me in the daytime and the cold at night, and sleep fled from my eyes. It was like this for the twenty years I was in your household. I worked for you fourteen years for your two daughters and six years for your flocks, and you changed my wages ten times. If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been with me, you would surely have sent me away empty-handed. But God has seen my hardship and the toil of my hands, and last night he rebuked you.'”
  • When we've been hurt deeply over time, the first step is to confront the one who offended us. Tell the person WHY we're angry, HOW their actions hurt you, WHEN it happened. Being specific about the pain forces us to examine our hearts and gives the offender concrete examples of their fault.
Gen. 31:43-45 – “Laban answered Jacob, 'The women are my daughters, the children are my children, and the flocks are my flocks. All you see is mine. Yet what can I do today about these daughters of mine, or about the children they have borne? Come now, let's make a covenant, you and I, and let it serve as a witness between us.' So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar.”
  • Did Jacob agree that the women, children and flocks belonged to Laban? Absolutely not. However, Jacob had argued and bargained with his father-in-law enough to know that he wasn't going to change his mind with more words. At some point we must agree to disagree.
Gen. 31:46-47 – “[Jacob] said to his relatives, 'Gather some stones.' So they took stones and piled them in a heap, and they ate there by the heap. Laban called it Jegar Sahadutha, and Jacob called it Galeed.”
  • These men couldn't even agree on which language to use in naming the altar! Laban used Aramaic and Jacob used Hebrew to name it, “witness heap.” However, Jacob called on his relatives as witnesses (no doubt his wives – Laban‟s daughters) to both support and hold accountable.
Gen. 31:48-50 – “Laban said, 'This heap is a witness between you and me today.' That is why it was called Galeed. It was also called Mizpah, because he said, 'May the LORD keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other. If you mistreat my daughters or if you take any wives besides my daughters, even though no one is with us, remember that God is a witness between you and me.'”
  • The men recognized that God was watching and aware of the end of this long struggle between them. I believe it must have given them power, confidence and freedom to move forward, knowing the God of Creation witnessed the severing of the relationship.
Gen. 31:51-55 – “Laban also said to Jacob, 'Here is this heap, and here is this pillar I have set up between you and me. This heap is a witness, and this pillar is a witness, that I will not go past this heap to your side to harm you and that you will not go past this heap and pillar to my side to harm me. May the God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us.' So Jacob took an oath in the name of the Fear of his father Isaac. He offered a sacrifice there in the hill country and invited his relatives to a meal. After they had eaten, they spent the night there. Early the next morning Laban kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them. Then he left and returned home.”
  • Before the final good-bye, its helpful to agree on the terms of future relationship – when possible. Agree to boundaries, and agree to cause no more intentional pain. We often believe the lie that success in relationship is defined only by reconciliation. Not so. Sometimes God's greatest work happens in the heart of one who can walk away in peace – and let go.
Lord, redefine my image of success in relationship. I'm so bent on being a peacemaker that I often sacrifice honesty and bury my pain. Teach me the art of ending a relationship well – to say what should be said and create boundaries that promote lasting peace – within and without.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Have you ever wondered how you would respond in an emergency? Maybe you've already been tested in some way, put through the ringer when pressures were high. I often think of stories like Anne Frank and Corrie ten Boom, kept hidden from Nazis by those who were willing – and able – to calmly lie when tensions soared. But my greatest fear is this. Can I tell the truth when tensions are high? So far, I've noticed my first instinct is to lie. Ugh. A telemarketer calls, and asks if I have a moment to talk. I say, “No, I'm getting ready to walk out the door.” Does it matter that my appointment isn't for 2 hours? Okay, that's not an emergency, but my first inclination is still to lie. How about this…my husband was checking the water valve connection behind the refrigerator. He asked me to help him slide the frig. back into place, but first, he needed to check that the water hose wasn't kinked. He bent down, and I pushed ever-so-slightly against the frig. to see how heavy it was. The stupid thing moved, and Roy jerked his hand away from the wheels.

“Are you moving the refrigerator?” he yelled. “My hand was back there!”

My immediate answer? “No! Of course, not!”

Okay, think about it. How else did the frig. move? We're the only two people in the stinkin' house! Duh. But I barely touched it, and I didn't know it was on wheels, and it moved less than ¼ inch…but still…I moved it. Ugh. So I had to back-pedal. “Well, yes, actually, I, um, well…” So how do you respond in the heat of the moment?

Gen. 31:22-24 – “On the third day Laban was told that Jacob had fled. Taking his relatives with him, he pursued Jacob for seven days and caught up with him in the hill country of Gilead. Then God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream at night and said to him, 'Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.'”
  • Jacob with 4 wives and 11 of his own children (not counting servants and their children) covered 300 miles in 10 days. No McDonalds. No Holiday Inns. Tents, campfires, camels, herds and flocks. And it took Laban 7 days to catch them – 7 days of rage building. In the heat of the moment, God stepped in before Laban could harm His chosen Covenant-bearer. Many commentators believe God's direction to “not say anything to Jacob, good or bad” meant that Laban shouldn't try to persuade Jacob to return to Haran using bribery or threats. The important thing is – God isn't limited to speak only to those who serve Him. He can protect His children even from those who don't recognize God as the True God.
Gen. 31:25-30 – “Jacob had pitched his tent in the hill country of Gilead when Laban overtook him, and Laban and his relatives camped there too. Then Laban said to Jacob, 'What have you done? You've deceived me, and you've carried off my daughters like captives in war. Why did you run off secretly and deceive me? Why didn't you tell me, so I could send you away with joy and singing to the music of tambourines and harps? You didn't even let me kiss my grandchildren and my daughters good-by. You have done a foolish thing. I have the power to harm you; but last night the God of your father said to me, “Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.” Now you have gone off because you longed to return to your father's house. But why did you steal my gods?'” (emphasis added)
  • Even in the heat of the moment, Laban mixes truth with lies – because deception is mired so deeply into his character. Imagine the highly charged emotions of this scene. Imagine the fear in Jacob and his wives/children. Imagine the anger/frustration in Laban at being duped and then kept from vengeance by a God not even his own. And finally, imagine that the only gods you think you can rely on have just been stolen by the one person who has taken everything else you value.
Gen. 31:31-32 – “Jacob answered Laban, 'I was afraid, because I thought you would take your daughters away from me by force. But if you find anyone who has your gods, he shall not live. In the presence of our relatives, see for yourself whether there is anything of yours here with me; and if so, take it.' Now Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen the gods.”
  • Jacob was painfully honest in the heat of this moment. Fear was his motivation for their stealth departure. And in his moment of righteousness, he makes a rash promise based in pride…and it could have gotten his most beloved wife killed.
Gen. 31:33-35 – “So Laban went into Jacob's tent and into Leah's tent and into the tent of the two maidservants, but he found nothing. After he came out of Leah's tent, he entered Rachel's tent. Now Rachel had taken the household gods and put them inside her camel's saddle and was sitting on them. Laban searched through everything in the tent but found nothing. Rachel said to her father, 'Don't be angry, my lord, that I cannot stand up in your presence; I'm having my period.' So he searched but could not find the household gods.”
  • In the heat of the moment, Rachel panicked and lied. Her life depended on it, and she'd seen the deceptive game her father and husband had played for twenty years. Why wouldn't she lie? But does the prevalence of deceit make deceit acceptable?
Gen. 31:36-37 – “Jacob was angry and took Laban to task. 'What is my crime?' he asked Laban. 'What sin have I committed that you hunt me down? Now that you have searched through all my goods, what have you found that belongs to your household? Put it here in front of your relatives and mine, and let them judge between the two of us.'”
  • Okay, Jake. A little over-the-top on the self-righteousness? Aren't you the one that swindled your hungry brother out of his birthright? Aren't you the one that deceived your blind, old dad? And BTW, if Rachel hadn't lied, you'd be digging her grave about now. No matter how righteous we seem to ourselves or others, we are never pure enough to tout our own holiness – not when we serve the Servant Savior, the Almighty God of grace.
Lord, my heart, my head and my tongue can run away with me in the heat of the moment. I can say, think, feel and do all sorts of things I'll later regret. Please, Prince of Peace, give me the trueness of spirit to act and react with a steadfastness born of a life lived in Your presence.

Monday, July 12, 2010


What steps do you take before making a big decision? Do you pray or read your Bible, hoping for a personal revelation? Do you ask for opinions from friends and family members? Or do you stand around wondering until the opportunity passes you by? Ugh. I've done that a time or two. When my husband and I have been in those “seeking” stages of life, we've noticed a pattern. God begins to make us a little uncomfortable, sort of like a mama eagle removing the soft downy feathers from the nest of twigs. She takes out more and more of the soft stuff, leaving only the sticks poking the young eaglets by the time they're ready to fly. Well, our nest generally gets pretty sticky before we are willing to fly. I don't know eagle-speak, but I wonder if mama eagle asks daddy eagle these questions before she gives the eaglets the boot. “So will our next nest be bigger or smaller? Will the schools be adequate? How about the neighborhood – is it safe for the kids? Can we afford to move? The resale value on this nest will never give us enough for a down-payment on the next.” Oh, those eagles. Always thinking ahead. But sometimes eagles just have to look at the few facts they have and let it fly! They've outgrown their current nest. There's simply not enough food for them all where they are now. And the Wind is calling them to go NOW…

Gen. 31:1-3 – “Jacob heard that Laban's sons were saying, 'Jacob has taken everything our father owned and has gained all this wealth from what belonged to our father.' And Jacob noticed that Laban's attitude toward him was not what it had been. Then the LORD said to Jacob, 'Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you.'”
  • Jacob felt no puffy, soft feather from any of Laban's sons and Laban himself got in a poke or two from the nest. Even God gave Jacob a gentle nudge. Wouldn't you think that would be enough? Well, jealous brothers-in-law, a grouchy father-in-law and a direct word from God wasn't enough to convince Jacob.
Gen. 31:4-9 – “So Jacob sent word to Rachel and Leah to come out to the fields where his flocks were. He said to them, 'I see that your father's attitude toward me is not what it was before, but the God of my father has been with me. You know that I've worked for your father with all my strength, yet your father has cheated me by changing my wages ten times. However, God has not allowed him to harm me. If he said, “The speckled ones will be your wages,” then all the flocks gave birth to speckled young; and if he said, “The streaked ones will be your wages,” then all the flocks bore streaked young. So God has taken away your father's livestock and has given them to me.'”
  • We learn more of Laban's deceit as Jacob convinces his wives of what God has said he must do. Ooops, back up the train! If Jacob is trying to convince his wives to leave, that means he already KNOWS the direction he is to go and wants their approval. Asking for confirmation is different than asking for approval. Seeking confirmation means you're seeking godly input to know and do God's will. Seeking approval means you're seeking to escape the responsibility of a hard choice.
Gen. 31:10-13 – [Jacob continued,] “In breeding season I once had a dream in which I looked up and saw that the male goats mating with the flock were streaked, speckled or spotted. The angel of God said to me in the dream, 'Jacob.' I answered, 'Here I am.' And he said, 'Look up and see that all the male goats mating with the flock are streaked, speckled or spotted, for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you. I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and where you made a vow to me. Now leave this land at once and go back to your native land.'” (emphasis added)
  • God had told Jacob some time ago, in a past breeding season (June-September), that he was supposed to leave Laban's household “at once.” But Jacob didn't leave – for months and possibly for years. We know from Gen. 31:19 that Jacob flees Laban's household during shearing season – spring – but since Jacob says “In breeding season I ONCE had a dream,” I get the impression it happened before last season. When God says “at once,” how long does it take you to respond?
Gen. 31:14-16 – “Then Rachel and Leah replied, 'Do we still have any share in the inheritance of our father's estate? Does he not regard us as foreigners? Not only has he sold us, but he has used up what was paid for us. Surely all the wealth that God took away from our father belongs to us and our children. So do whatever God has told you.'” (emphasis added)
  • Jacob's wives finally agree on one thing. They've been treated badly by their father – and that's their singular motivation for agreeing to Jacob's plan. When we seek counsel to help us make a godly decision, make sure it's godly counsel without selfish motivation.
Gen. 31:17-21 – “Then Jacob put his children and his wives on camels, and he drove all his livestock ahead of him, along with all the goods he had accumulated in Paddan Aram, to go to his father Isaac in the land of Canaan. When Laban had gone to shear his sheep, Rachel stole her father's household gods. Moreover, Jacob deceived Laban the Aramean by not telling him he was running away. So he fled with all he had, and crossing the River, he headed for the hill country of Gilead.” (emphasis added)
  • When Jacob received all the confirmation necessary to finally act on God's direction, He messed up his obedience with petty sin. The thread of deception was still woven deeply into Jacob's character.
Lord, I don't want to get it right just to get it wrong. It's so easy to let my guard down at the last moment and lose the high ground we've worked together to achieve. Help me to finish well, Father. To make the hard decisions, endure difficult conversations, choose the right thing – and be totally obedient and pleasing in not only my actions, but also my methods.

Monday, July 05, 2010


I've lost count of the number of bosses I've worked for over the years. I was only sixteen when I got my first REAL job, and my twenty-something boss spent the first two weeks flirting with me mercilessly. I've worked for good bosses and bad bosses – the definition of which I assign mostly by the condition of the work environment. A good boss encourages camaraderie between employees, so that a sense of justice and security can emerge in the workplace. A bad boss keeps his/her workers continually on edge, watching like a hawk for the next mistake or opportunity for blame. While working for a good boss, I've been encouraged, complimented, challenged to learn new things. My “bad boss” experiences have left me feeling defeated, worthless and questioning my abilities. So why all the talk about little greasy-haired dweebs in polyester suits? (Sorry, couldn't resist the stereotyping) Well, because Laban was sort of Jacob's boss, and he was a lousy master. But it occurred to me that the way Jacob reacted to his bad-boss, Laban, is similar to the way I react to God sometimes. So I had to ask myself, do I envision God as a good Boss or a bad Boss? Hmmmm…

Gen. 30:25-26 – “After Rachel gave birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, 'Send me on my way so I can go back to my own homeland. Give me my wives and children, for whom I have served you, and I will be on my way. You know how much work I've done for you.'”
  • SERVANT RATHER THAN SON – Jacob requested his freedom as if he were an indentured servant – not a son. He'd evidently never felt a part of Laban's family even after marrying both Laban's daughters over fourteen years prior. When we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we become children of God – but do we truly feel/act like children, or do we still feel/act like servants? A servant MUST work and hopes to be released from duty after a time. A family member never “retires” from the family.
Gen. 30:27-33 – “But Laban said to him, 'If I have found favor in your eyes, please stay. I have learned by divination that the LORD has blessed me because of you.' He added, 'Name your wages, and I will pay them.' Jacob said to him, 'You know how I have worked for you and how your livestock has fared under my care. The little you had before I came has increased greatly, and the LORD has blessed you wherever I have been. But now, when may I do something for my own household?' 'What shall I give you?' he asked. 'Don't give me anything,' Jacob replied. 'But if you will do this one thing for me, I will go on tending your flocks and watching over them: Let me go through all your flocks today and remove from them every speckled or spotted sheep, every dark-colored lamb and every spotted or speckled goat. They will be my wages. And my honesty will testify for me in the future, whenever you check on the wages you have paid me. Any goat in my possession that is not speckled or spotted, or any lamb that is not dark-colored, will be considered stolen.'” (emphasis added)
  • WORK RATHER THAN GIFTS – Jacob refuses to allow Laban to GIVE him anything. He shuns Laban's gift because of past baggage, and instead, Jacob bargains for more work, thinking he has a fool-proof way to earn his freedom. To shun a deceiver's gift is wise; however, sometimes we shun God's gracious gifts in order to feel as though we've earned His pleasure or approval. Working FOR God is not only unnecessary, it's counter-productive to our faith in a gracious God.
Gen. 30:34-43 – “'Agreed,' said Laban. 'Let it be as you have said.' That same day he removed all the male goats that were streaked or spotted, and all the speckled or spotted female goats (all that had white on them) and all the dark-colored lambs, and he placed them in the care of his sons. Then he put a three-day journey between himself and Jacob, while Jacob continued to tend the rest of Laban's flocks. Jacob, however, took fresh-cut branches from poplar, almond and plane trees and made white stripes on them by peeling the bark and exposing the white inner wood of the branches. Then he placed the peeled branches in all the watering troughs, so that they would be directly in front of the flocks when they came to drink. When the flocks were in heat and came to drink, they mated in front of the branches. And they bore young that were streaked or speckled or spotted. Jacob set apart the young of the flock by themselves, but made the rest face the streaked and dark-colored animals that belonged to Laban. Thus he made separate flocks for himself and did not put them with Laban's animals. Whenever the stronger females were in heat, Jacob would place the branches in the troughs in front of the animals so they would mate near the branches, but if the animals were weak, he would not place them there. So the weak animals went to Laban and the strong ones to Jacob. In this way the man grew exceedingly prosperous and came to own large flocks, and maidservants and menservants, and camels and donkeys.”
  • SILENCE RATHER THAN CONFRONTATION – Rather than confronting Laban when he was cheated again, Jacob followed old wives' tales and tried to solve the problem using his own methods. When we have been repeatedly disappointed, we sometimes become angry or disillusioned and even blame God. Though the LORD never cheats us or deals with us dishonestly, when we seek our own solutions and refuse to ask for God's help, it's similar to Jacob's silent treatment.
Lord, teach me to voice my disappointments and confusion to You, no matter how upset or confused I might be – with You or others. Remind me that in EVERY WAY, You are more than a good Boss – You are a loving Father, who wants the very best for me. Every circumstance you allow into my life is fashioned to strengthen, teach and shape me into the image of Jesus Christ.