“He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.” Mark 4:39
Anxiety never leaves a ransom note when it steals our lives; fear is a punk.” Bob Goff
Many people I encounter struggle with fear. I hear it in comments about their kids, the future, finances, and health issues. Fear saps strength. Fear is a debilitating force. It has the power to magnify problems, make everything appear worse than it really is, and force on us the negative and hopeless.
We can feed our fear or feed our faith. The one we feed is the one that will flourish. The energy and attention we give to one will diminish the other. If we are intent on feeding our faith it will take a determined desire to focus on the truth. For me truth is found in the Word of God, the Bible. When I focus on who God is and who I am in Him it begins to re-align my thinking. Reminding myself that He has a hope and future for me, and that all things will work together for my good. When I begin to change my thinking, taking those fearful thoughts and making them captive to the truth, confidence begins to swell. I see these promises as anchors of hope, and they can drastically transform my attitude.
You and I will be faced with fear at one time or another. Fear of failure. Fear of defeat. Fear of the future. Fear of the unknown. Fear of the “what ifs”. Fear of people. Fear of death. And when we give into it our strength is sapped, we’re stopped in our tracks. It keeps us from fulfilling our purpose. It is one of the prime weapons the enemy uses against us. We need to wise up. Fear must be conquered.
There is one particular thought that has given me a tremendous amount of help when these times of fear creep in. It is a simple truth. It is this, anything that comes my way in terms of suffering has been allowed by my Heavenly Father, and that this thing has not taken Him by surprise. He is not pacing back in forth in heaven, wringing His hands wondering “what to do, what to do?” He is still on His throne, in all His power and He has His eye on me, and I know that His love for me is measureless. Maybe this doesn’t make sense to you. Maybe you’re wondering that if God knows about this wouldn’t He stop it? If He loves you wouldn’t He keep you from all troubles?
The fact is we are told that in this world we will have troubles, that’s a promise. But the great encouragement is that Jesus has overcome, and in him we have hope and are more than conquerors.
Wouldn’t life be great if life was all sunshine and daisies all the time, life on the mountain tops with no valley’s in sight? It’s easy for us to trust God and believe Him when everything is going our way. It’s easy to have hope when we are on the mountain top. But the truth is every mountain has a valley. And I’ve learned that it’s in those valley’s where I’m taught and trained and character is built. Fruit grows in the valleys. The fruit produced in our lives-love, joy, peace, patience, kindness-grows in the valleys of life. And though we don’t like the valley’s that come our way, I know at the same time we are made stronger by them.
God’s intention, no matter what challenge we face, is for us to overcome. He is the God of storms. And He is the God who produces fruit from the valleys. Never lose sight of that! There is great comfort in knowing that in the midst of trials and suffering, those gale-force winds that come into our lives, we have a God that will remain faithful in every storm and will be our anchor of hope. The wind and the waves still know His name!
This summer our tomato plants were such a joy, they were amazingly prolific. We enjoyed them with bruschetta, pasta, in salads, even just out of hand. But with this final harvest I knew tomato sauce was what I was going to make. The tomatoes are deliciously sweet when they are used most simply, without cooking. But when these tomatoes are put on the fire something happens. The heat begins to break them down and turn them into a thick sauce that has an incredible depth of flavor that could have never been achieved without it. I wonder if our trials are like that? When the heat of those trials come and we patiently allow the fire to do its work. Maybe we will come through that fire with a greater depth and richness of soul as well as a deeper trust that we wouldn’t have had otherwise. Just a thought. -s
"They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit." Jeremiah 17:8
If you find yourself with a load of tomatoes this is the perfect solution to preserve all of that summer bounty. This thick and rich tomato sauce is not only a perfect pairing with pasta but can be used mixed with roasted vegetables, cubes of smoked mozzarella then baked until golden brown. It can be used in an eggplant parmesan, or baked eggs. I also enjoy snuggling a little smoked sausage with a spoonful or two of some tender white beans in a small cast iron skillet, then bake until nice and bubbly.
5 lb. tomatoes
2 onions, cut in half through the root end
4 cloves of garlic, peeled, left whole
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cut the tomatoes into halves or quarters and divide them equally, along with their juices, between two large heavy-bottomed stockpots. Add 1 onion, and 2 garlic cloves to each pot and season generously with salt and pepper. Bring the tomatoes to a boil over medium-high heat to maintain a simmer, letting the sauce cook and bubble away until the flesh is totally soft, 2-3 hours. Stir often with a wooden spoon to be sure that it isn’t burning on the bottom.
Let the tomatoes cool a bit. Remove onions. Pass the tomatoes through a food mill into another large clean pot, discarding the solids.
Cook the tomato sauce over medium heat until the liquid evaporates and the sauce is thick and meaty, 2-3 hours, or until it is as thick as you like. Taste for seasoning.
Let cool down completely before dividing between lidded containers (or quart sized freezer bags). The sauce will keep for a week in the refrigerator or up to a year in the freezer.
(1) Jeremiah 29:11, (2) Romans 8:28, (3) Ephesians 3:18, (4) John 16:33, (5) Romans 8:37, (6) Galatians 5:22-23