God in Our Scorched Places

And the LORD will guide you continually

and satisfy your desires in scorched places

and make your bones strong

and you shall be like a watered garden,

like a spring of water,

Whose waters do not fail.

– Isaiah 58:11 ESV

What areas of your life are scorched places? Where do you feel you are unable to grow or thrive or are feeling is a complete disaster? Are you in the midst of relationship issues with a spouse or wayward child? Or maybe struggling to make ends meet or maybe your health is failing and every faltering step forward feels too hard. Or maybe you are walking through the charred barrenness overwhelmed with heartache and grief without an end to it in sight.

When in a scorched place, do you not desire God to guide you and enable you to have all you need to grow or thrive like a watered garden with an endless supply of fresh spring waters?

He promises in this passage that He is continually leading you even when in those hard scorch places. And in the midst of those hard dry disastrous places He will provide and satisfy our desires. This may happen in ways we do not expect and situations where we least expect it.

We lived in Arizona for six years and some areas of the dessert are beautiful and full of things to look at while others are parched and scorched by heat or fire have very little to draw are attention. One redeeming quality of being in a scorched place is that there is very little to distract us from God and our need for Him. We thirst for God like a man living in a desert without water.

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;

my soul thirsts for you;

my flesh faints for you,

as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

– Psalm 63:1 ESV

After my health tanked in late 2009, I found many of my true heart’s desires have been provided in the heat of suffering and deserts of loneliness or great need. He continually leads me step by step and my path has taken many unexpected turns. He refines me in the heat and teaches me to be more dependent on Him and to worship Him in the dark and dry places as well as the well-watered areas of my life. My faith has grown as has my trust in His character as my sovereign, faithful, good and wise God .

Running to God and resting in Him I find a refuge, a perfect oasis of comfort and peace in the barren desolate scorched places.

“Nothing has more powerfully shaped me — my theology, my character, my love for God and for others — than suffering.” – Vaneetha Randall Risner Read her article here:

Hudson Taylor, the well-known missionary to China in the 1800s, has this to say,  “The deepest, most precious, and most abiding spiritual lessons, which God has been pleased to teach me were learned in consequence of enduring my various experiences of sickness. . . . I feel it would have been nothing short of a calamity to have missed the physical suffering thro which I have passed. . . . I am positive that I have sometimes met with God’s refusal to heal when I have been most in fellowship with him.

God has met me, satisfied my deepest inner longings and lead me continually in the scorched places. My well watered garden, watered by His living water, is growing fruits of the Spirit like love, joy and peace and so on as listed in Galatians 5:22-23. I pray I will ever be fruitful even in the most severe droughts of suffering or hardships. I also pray this for each of you who read this.

 

Scorched Places – Isaiah 58:11

My soul has dwelt in scorched places where dry and without rest.

Yet, my God met me with His peace, joy and strength for each test.

My LORD continually guides me to His oasis in the scorched place

Where He ever satisfies me with the living waters of His grace.

– Deborah Peabody February 13, 2020

My husband and I at an oasis called Papago Park in Phoenix, AZ in March 2011.

Wings of Hope

But I will hope continually

and will praise you yet more and more.

– Psalm 71:14

One thing that keeps us going even in the hardest seasons is hope. Who or what do your base your hope upon? Is it the circumstances and people around you which can quickly change or fail you? Or is your hope based on the faithful, loving, sovereign, good and wise God who created and holds together every atom of the universe?

I recently did a word search through the scriptures on hope and found out what God’s Word says we can hope in. After reading various verses God laid a response on my heart in the form of this poem. I will share the verses at the end of this post.

Wings of Hope

Hope is a delicate bird, feathered and light,

That the slightest breeze can raise to greatest height.

God’s faithfulness and steadfast love

Cause wings of hope to soar above.

When winds of adversity fiercely do blow,

Hope draws from God’s Word that it trusts in and knows;

Soars to its Hiding Place and Shield,

To the Spirit’s lead it does yield.

The storms may bring turmoil and make one case down;

Hope flutters to life and in despair won’t drown.

Hope knows that it will again praise,

In darkness songs of worship raise.

– Deborah Peabody February 2, 2020

Hope in God’s steadfast love:

Psalm 33:2

Psalm 33:18

Hope in God:

Psalm 62:5

Psalm 33:2

Psalm 42:5

Psalm 71:5

Hope in God’s Word:

Psalm 119:74

Psalm 119:81

Psalm 119:114

Psalm 130:5

May these verses and others in the scripture dealing with hope bring you encouragement and greater hope in whatever season you currently find yourself.

Blessings,

Deb

God is the Strength of my Heart

25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.

26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

28 But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.

– Psalm 73:25-26, 28

There are days or seasons when chronic illnesses flair and you feel you are running on empty or swimming in quicksand struggling to keep you head up and just survive.

I am so grateful in those moments or seasons I have a source of strength, a deliverer and refuge in my Abba God. That I can rest in Him and His strength.

When I am feeling a need for the strength and help God offers I go to His Word and listen to worship songs that encourage. The first couple are older ones while the last couple are newer.

Yet Will I Praise Thee:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Cq8JeBWRdrM

Lead me to the Rock:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=wRfsIZhM5fA

In the Valley:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9BPaMhGNRkQ

Even When It Hurts

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=XSvFEaFDn00

1 I love you, O LORD, my strength.

2 The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. – Psalm 18:1-2

The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. – Exodus 15:2

The Clean Slate of a New Year

A friend mentioned to me a couple of years ago how we have a whole new year ahead of us that is a clean slate of 365 days. He went on to say it is like a new snow before any footprints have made any paths.

Yesterday, I was pondering this as we had over 8 inches of new snow that fell. Each step I make in the snow permanently changes how it looks. I contemplated how each thing I do, every word I speak and each thought I think has the potential to change the vista in my corner of the world to either improve it or detract from it.

Father God,

Help me to ponder my paths and consider where I will go with my actions, words and thoughts. Enable my paths to be filled with sweet communion with You and falling more in love with You, Lord. May my paths be filled with love for You and love for others, as well as Your perfect peace, joy and gratitude. Lead me in paths that bring honor and glory to You. Please let me not mar my hours and days with the mud of resentment, bitterness, unforgiveness, what-ifs, ingratitude or selfishness. Instead, Lord, enable me to beautify my path by loving, giving, sharing, serving and extending grace to those You place along my journey through 2020.

Lord, I desire to be fully engaged in my relationships, in noticing others and recognizing their needs, by being awestruck by Your glorious creation as I walk through each moment You ordain. Deepen my appreciation of all of Your gifts, even the ones that come in the rocky, steep terrain of suffering or inconveniences of a suddenly changed course. May I fully trust Your purposes and rest in Your faithfulness that Your sovereign path for my life is for my eternal good and Your glory.

In Jesus Name,

Amen.

So as I look at our new snow, I notice where a bird or rabbit have gently, perhaps timidly, left their marks. I also notice the gregarious patterns left by my two dogs bounding joyously through the snow. I again ponder how at times the Lord allows times to gently walk one uncertain step at a time while other times we must boldly bound out enthusiastically and obediently where He leads. I pray God gives me discernment when to proceed slowly or cautiously and when He is calling me to boldly step out of my comfort zone. In reality, anywhere I am walking with God should be in my comfort zone.

I am asking the Lord to give me His ability to walk each step in 2020 with faith and confidence in my faithful, sovereign, good and wise God instead of getting off course with worry, inadequacies or fear.

Today I look with anticipation at the blank slate of 2020 and where the Lord directs my paths.

May you each have a wondrous and Happy New Year!

Blessings,

Deb

Gluten Free Almond Danish Puff Pastry

I always enjoyed the Danish Puff Pastry my mom when I was a girl as well as when I made it myself for many years after I married. Once my health tanked in November 2009, I suddenly developed severe gluten intolerance and many food and chemical sensitivities so I no longer made it.

Last week, I tackled a project that I have put off several years. I went through stacks of saved recipes plus the two binders of recipes I have compiled over 37 years of marriage. I reorganized and culled ones there is no way I can use with my Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and dietary restrictions. I came across the Danish puff pasty recipe and thought what if I try to convert this to gluten free? As I did it, I quickly realized it needed more moisture in the crust and some guar gum (you can sub xanthum gum if not allergic to corn).

It came out of the oven resembling and smelling like the original version. After it saw cooled a bit, I frosted it and topped with sliced toasted almonds. Then the hard part was waiting to try it after dinner. We both thoroughly enjoyed this along with a cup of hot tea. It got two thumbs and all fingers and toes up from my husband.

For mixing the crust in this and my gluten free pie crusts I either use my food processor or a pastry cutter like this.

I inherited my pastry cutter/blender from my mother-in-law, but places like Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond and Target carry these.

Gluten Free Almond Danish Puff Pastry

Preheat oven to 400F

FOR CRUST:

Combine in bowl or food processor:

1 cup gluten free flour blend (mine is at end of post)

1/2 tsp guar gum

1/2 tsp salt

Cut in with pastry cutter or food processor blades until it resembles coarse crumbs:

1/2 cup butter, cold (1 cube) cut into small pieces

Add 1 TBSP at a time and stir with fork or blend with food processor until pie dough consistency.:

3.5 – 5 TBSP cold water (varies with how humid or dry it is).

Gather dough into a ball and divide in half. Use a cookie sheet with parchment paper or silicon mat and pat the two halves into two 3″ x 12″ rectangles. Leave on counter while prep the rest.

FOR TOP LAYER: (This very much like cream puff batter).

Combine in small bowl and then set aside:

1 cup gluten free flour blend

1 tsp guar gum

In a sauce pan bring to boil:

1 cup water

1/2 cup butter (1 cube)

1/4 – 1/2 tsp almond extract

Remove from heat and stir in flour guar gum mixture until forms a ball.

Let pan with mixture sit off the heat for 5 minutes.

Add one at a time to pan, beating well with hand mixer after each addition:

3 eggs

Continue beating until shiny and smooth.

Spread this evenly over the two crusts and put into oven to bake at 400F for 18-20 minutes.

Let cool on baking sheet 5 minutes before moving to wire cooling racks.

Let cool 10-15 minutes then frost and top with 2/3 cup toasted almond slices.

FROSTING:

Combine in bowl and mix until well blended:

2 TBSP butter, softened

1/2 tsp almond extract

4-6 TBSP water

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar.

Variation:

Lemon – Sub almond extract in batter and frosting with lemon extract.

Dairy-free – Try subbing butter with organic palm shortening or Earth Balance nondairy cubed butter substitute. (I have not yet tried this but have done this with other recipes.)

I froze over half of ours and will update later how well they do when thaw and eat them later.

Deb’s Nightshade Free Gluten Free Flour Blend:

In large mixing bowl combine until thoroughly mixed together:

5 cups brown rice flour

3 cups tapioca starch or flour

1 1/2 cups arrowroot powder

I store in an airtight container in my upright freezer. Because of my sensitivities I use all organic ingredients.

Enjoy eating this delicious treats!

Hoping each of you has a wonderful time with family and friends celebrating Christ’s birth.

Merry Christmas!!!

Blessings,

Deb

Hope

We all need hope. Hope keeps us going and anticipating a future of good.

So where do we place our hope? What is the source of hope?

Lamentations 3:21-24 tells us our hope is based on God’s unceasing steadfast love and His endless mercies as well as recognizing our portion or inheritance is the LORD Himself. It does not mention our circumstances, our wealth or power or even what good we do. It is all based on God and His character.

Psalms 62:5-8 has long been a favorite passage.

5 For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.

6 He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.

7 On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God.

8 Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah – Psalm 62:5-8

This passage show that hope is only found in God and in God alone can our soul find rest. It seems hope is often associated with a feeling of rest, refuge or peace. Thankfully God is the source of both hope and peace which are so very needed in our lives.

I know when I try to figure out life on my own or only look at circumstances and take my eyes off Christ I can quickly lose hope and feel turmoil, stress and lack of peace. I can so related to Peter walking on the water and sinking when he took his eyes off of Christ and put them on the waves.

LORD, help us to focus on You. Enable us to use your character and Holy Word as the lens though which we view the world around us. Only with your empowerment, LORD, can we live in hope, faith and rest because of whose we are not because of the circumstances in our lives. Forgive me/us for fearing the waves more than trusting you.

In Jesus Name,

Amen

Created for Good Works

I saw this the other day. Pastor Jim Penner says: ‘I’ve talked with and prayed for many who are dealing with physical issues… disease, diabetes, cancers, struggles with weight, muscular and autoimmune disease. The limitations the human family deals with on a daily basis are endless. Yet Ephesians 2:10 says, “You are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.” God knew exactly what He was doing when He made you. You’re unique in all the world. And that makes you special.’

I would like to look at that verse and take it a step further.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. – Ephesians 2:10

Image from Bible Verses to Go

So we are not only God’s workmanship but He has created us to do good works that He prepares or ordained for us beforehand.

Physical limitations, location or lack of money or other resources are not going to keep you from the good works God has designed specifically for each one of us. Joni Eareckson Tada has accomplished much for God’s kingdom and rights of handicapped while a quadriplegic. Amy Beatrice Carmichael was a Protestant Christian missionary in India, who opened an orphanage and founded a mission in Dohnavur. She served in India for 55 years without furlough and wrote many books about the missionary work there. She also was bedridden the last decades of her life due to an injury yet still ran an mission and orphanage, prayed great prayers and wrote many encouraging prayers and devotions. Prisoners like the Apostle Paul or present day imprisoned believers have also been used to do works to further the Gospel. God’s purposes and plans will not be thwarted by our circumstances.

It may be you need to be praying and asking God what He has for you to do in your own unique situation. He may have you step out of your comfort zone or may have you do a series of seemingly small inconsequential things that will further God’s kingdom.

Can you think of somebody you know who due to failed health had great influences on others because of their joy and faith with which they walked it out?

My take away is that we are all beloved handiworks’ of God who has uniquely ordained each of us to accomplish specific God-glorifying works.

Application:

Think about ways you have seen God work through you in the past.

Prayerfully consider areas you believe He has for you to work in the future.

Have you let limitations or circumstances keep you from doing what God has called you to do?