Monday, November 29, 2010


Huh. Just writing that word as a title to a post feels awkward. How does one write about humility? Just to open your mouth on the subject seems proud; "I've got it all together, folks!"

Yeah, right. :)

But I had a thought about the topic yesterday, and I thought I'd share it with you.

What is the definition of humility? Is it thinking humbly about yourself? Yes, of course, right? But what does that mean?

Does that mean you are shy? Does it mean you tell yourself that you "can't do anything"? Does it mean you put yourself down, or are constantly comparing yourself to others, to your own disadvantage? Does it mean that always, at all times, in all places, under all circumstances, you never, ever, forget that you are nothing? Does it mean that you weep over your own horribleness, and are broken over your depravity?

I don't think so. And hold on - I'll give you the reasons why.

First off, consider the person who constantly puts herself down in her mind. I've been that person; constantly berating myself for not being good enough, not being kind enough, not being godly enough, talented enough, sweet enough...the accusations stretched out like a holiday "To Do" list. All of this was done in the name of holy zeal - I wanted to be better.

That isn't bad - to want to be better. It's an inborn instinct of human beings. It is that drive that causes us to work for things, and to become things. And it is that drive that finally, in the end, shows us we aren't good enough.

In the Christian, it is often given the name of "the longing to please our Lord." We know we are sinners, yet we also know we've been saved, and, boy, do we want things to be different now! We know God says "be holy, as I am holy," and with everything in us, we want to obey that command. So we strive for excellence.

But it isn't too long before the truth dawns upon us; we're not "good enough." We're not good enough. Time and time again we fail. We may have it all together on the outside, but we know our own thoughts, our temptations, our wayward minds, our selfishness, our laziness...we know we aren't what we ought to be.

Is this where humbleness comes is? The admitting of how low we really are? The loud embracing of this unworthiness, denying all claims to perfection, or even goodness?

Well, sorta. This is where humbleness comes in, but not in that way.

Because, think about it - why does it bother us that we are flawed? Oooo, doesn't it just drive you mad? That stubborn sin streak - why must it persist? You'd better believe I hate it.

And, not too long ago, I hated myself. For having that sin streak. For being the flawed child. For not being what I wanted to be. Oh, I was so mad at myself!

Because I wasn't what I wanted to be.

Did you catch the number of times I used "I" or "me" in the previous three paragraphs? Six times, to be exact. And every sentence was focused on the trials of yours truly.

That's why I believe that attitude, that anger at myself, isn't true humility; it's focused on me. I'm sad because this precious, treasured being of mine isn't as beautiful as I want it to be. I want me to be perfect. Isn't this the sum of pride?

I was so afraid of the other sort of pride - the kind that says "I don't have to worry about my character. I'm already perfect," that I slipped into the pride of the other extreme - frustration at my flaws.

Just for the record, I'm not talking about a healthy hatred of sin. I wasn't mad because it was sin - I was mad because it was in me, and "me" wasn't supposed to have anything wrong with her. See the difference?

So here's what I count as the definition of true humility. My thoughts and heart on the topic had already changed, a few months ago, but I hadn't formulated it into a cohesive thought until yesterday:

Humility: "Knowing the truth and being content in it."

Knowing the truth. Not what I feel, but what God tells me is true. Truth is "are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" (Gal. 3:3) Truth is "I have loved thee with an everlasting love." (Jer. 31:3) Truth is that God will finish that which He starts - including making me perfect one day, when I stand before Him in Heaven. Truth is that He loves me now, as I am, still flawed, but His precious child. Truth is that I need to hate sin because God does, not for selfish reasons. Truth is that He put talents in me that He expects me to use, not deny. Truth is that He made me untalented at other things. Truth is that God loves me. (I just had to say that one more time!:)

Being content in it. I must come to terms with this truth. I must trust God's truth. I must trust that what He decrees is best. But isn't He worthy of my trust? Absolutely! I owe Him everything.

So I can know that I'm not so good at some things, and trust that He doesn't need me to be doing that particularly well - He plans to use the weakness for His glory.

I can know that if I can do something well, He made me to use that. And it would be wrong to deny it. I can be confident, gracious, and quietly content, instead of wrestling with fears of "should I be up here doing this? What will people think of me?"

I can know that I am still loved when I sin, and that I should rejoice loudly in His forgiveness, rather than bewail the fact that I had to accept it. I used to be really afraid of this - I mean, come on - "accept the fact that I sin? Are you crazy, Amber? If you start believing this nonsense about rejoicing in God's forgiveness, you'll lose your fear of sin, and you'll lose your conscience!" Nothing could be farther from the truth. The confidence I have in my Father's love and forgiveness creates such a wellspring of thankfulness and love in me that I cannot bear the thought of sinning against Him.

I don't think I've solved the problem of pride. That, I'm afraid, I will wrestle with until I reach Heaven. But it helps to know that humility isn't a false abasing of myself, a loathing of myself. In fact, it isn't about myself at all. It's a quiet resting in the grace of God, and trusting that He knows what He's doing with me. It's all about Him.

Isn't He wonderful?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Things I'm Thankful For

~ God's love. It's the first thing that comes to mind when I think about what I'm thankful for - which is often. It's absolutely foremost in my mind this year - so much so that I feel like running around, grabbing people by the shoulders and saying, "have you heard? God is love! God loves me!" I've been made aware of His love in a new and bigger way this year, and it's totally indescribably wonderful.

~ Salvation. Mercy. Grace. Forgiveness. All offshoots of the above item, but each one a separate world of delights, full of its own implications and joys.

~ Music - I've fallen deeper in love with it this year. :)

~ Parents who are in love with each other. This means more and more to me, the older I get.

~ Daddy. My leader, protector, and teacher. The one who makes me smile when I'm sad.

~ Mom. The kind of friend every girl should have. Faithful, wise, and constant. Unselfish. And a wonderful person to hang out with and do things with - something I've been doubly thankful for since my older sister has moved out of the house. :)

~ Siblings who are my best friends. Brothers who make me proud, and sisters who fill me with joy.

~ My sister's marriage - it's been a beautiful picture of Christ and His bride.

~ My new brother-in-law. My sister has good tastes. :) ...So does he, come to think of it. :)

~ Our location. I love where I live.

~ The beauty of life. Growing things. Animals. Babies.

~ The opportunities God has given me this year. I've gotten to do so many things I'd only dreamed of doing before.

~ My hands. I love working with them.

~ Books. Words. Language.

~ My Bible. God's Word. Seriously, that dear, precious, book....I owe so much to it.

~ Kind friends. I have so many of them, and they are so kind and unselfish and encouraging and loving that they are continually surprising me; "oh, you mean you are that kind? You mean you care that much? Wow."

~ My church. Our Pastor. God's people. Sweet fellowship.

~ Freedom. Liberty. Such a high cost, and such a exquisite prize!

~ My Dad's job. With so many people unemployed, I'm so thankful Dad's been able to continue working. And my brother has a job too, now.

~ My new (own!) bedroom. Never thought I'd get used to it this fast! :)

~ God's patience. Wow, I don't know what I'd be like without this.

~ Smiles. Singing. Laughter.

~ Sunshine.

~ Plants.

~ Food, and the ability to make things in the kitchen.

~ Love.

~ God's direction.

~ The Holy Spirit.

~ The unshakable assurance of knowing that God finishes what He starts.

~ Trials. Really. I started this year with some very deep, dark times, and they have been the springboard to draw me nearer to God. I'm so thankful for them.

What about you? What are you thankful for?

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Salad I Love

So....I love it. I really, really, love it.

Mom likes it.

My brothers tolerate it.

A little sister dislikes it.

How 'bout you? Try it! Pleeeeease?

Amber's Spinach and Peas Salad

~ Lots and lots of fresh, washed spinach. LOTS. As in a heaping salad bowl full.
~ 4 hard-boiled eggs (Please do boil these long enough. If you don't....well, you could always wail, dump them in a skillet, and scramble them, and hope nobody notices the slightly different texture...but hard-boiled is just better. Not that I've had the other experience, of course...)
~ 2 cups frozen peas, thawed, but not cooked
~ 1/2 cup raisins (I LOVE these in my salad, but my family doesn't.)
~ Croutons (Optional. I don't care for them in this particular salad, but others in the family do, so I put them in, hoping to coax reluctant salad-eaters into trying the salad. :)
~ 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese...or more. :)

That's the salad. Toss everything together and rip up the spinach leaves into bite-size pieces. Now mix up the dressing:
~ 3 TBS miracle whip
~ 4 TBS sour cream
~ Spices, to taste (in order of amount):
Garlic Powder (I like a lot)
Onion Powder
~ 2.5 TBS water

Mix thoroughly, and pour over spinach mixture. Toss to coat evenly.
You can serve immediately, or let it sit in the fridge for an hour or so, to let the flavors blend together. Then dish up a plateful, and eat it! Serves....well, anywhere from 6 t0 8 people. It depends on whether you make a meal of it - like I'd love to do, or if you only take a few leaves on your plate, like my brother did. :)

I think it's delicious. How about you?

Friday, November 12, 2010

I'm Launching!

That's right - I've got a new project up my sleeve, and I'm finally ready to share it with you.


I've got a new blog!

(You may be thinking "what?! This girl who can't find time to keep up with one blog is starting another? Well, truth be told, this is my tenth blog. {I don't make all my blogs public.} And I truly am starting to get back into the swing of blogging, I think. I also think that the very nature of this blog will make up-keeping easier. You'll see what I mean.)

Now, for more info:

As most of you know, I'm a writer. This new blog, "Doing it Write" is all about encouraging fellow writers to do their best, for the glory of God. I'm looking forward to developing a community of writing friends, and learning from their input.

Doing it Write is still in its beginning stages, and I would love for you to pop over and make it really feel alive, by reading and commenting. If you are a writer, and have a writing blog, please leave me a link to your blog, and maybe I'll add you to my blog roll!

Even if you don't write....stop over anyway. You're such nice readers that I love to have your company anywhere I am in the blog world.

I wish you all a warm, cozy evening, and lots of joy tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I have a new sewing project...sorta

You know that "basic black dress" that every woman is supposed to own?

I've never had one.

It never really truly bothered me, but I always thought it would be a nice addition to my wardrobe. Someday. When I got around to it. After all, I hadn't seen that many black dresses that I fell in love with. They all seemed to stiff. Too full. Too tight. Too formal. Too ...not formal. Too not-me.

Until now.

I really like this dress from Shabby Apple.

Of course, being me, I'm not considering buying it. For one thing, little ol' humble me thinks she can improve the design. I want to add a really cowl neck (I have a new black sweater like that, and just love it! I could practically hide my whole head inside the collar, if I lifted it straight up). And I'd also lengthen the hem line, because I don't spend my whole day nicely perched on a rock like that.

But I love the nearly-invisible empire waist. And I love the comfortable-looking fabric. And I love, love, love, the three-quarters length sleeves.

Of course, I really didn't need another sewing project. I still have to finish my quilt.

And fix my skirt (which I made last winter).

And make that other dress (which I didn't plan on making, but I saw the fabric at WalMart - 5 yds for $5 - and who could resist?).

And that shirt. (Another project complements of WalMart inspiration.)

....And that navy blue formal that I just picked up the fabric for this week. (Somebody should warn WalMart to stop having these 1yd/$1 sales.)

That's not to mention the aprons I'm suppose to sew for our website, and the 10 costumes I've been hired to sew before Easter. Plus the Christmas gifts that I decided to make.

No, I really shouldn't make this black dress. Not yet, anyway.

For once I'm gonna listen to my advice, because I have to; I don't have any proper black fabric. And no money in the budget to go out and buy some.

So I'll do what I normally do in such situations;

"God, You see this project. Do you want me to make it? You know I want to make it. But do I need it? I'm no good at decisions, Lord. I want my wardrobe to please You. Dress Your daughter the way You think best. Knowing that I don't need it, but saying that I think it would be a good basic accessory, a wise investment, and perfectly suitable thing for Your daughter to wear...I ask You to give me the fabric to make it. In Your own timing. Whenever You please. Whenever You want me to take the time to make it. Thanks, Lord. You're so wonderful!"

It's so much more fun than going to WalMart.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A New Recipe

I've come to the conclusion that I'm a very bad blogger. I can't seem to find the time to blog.

Of course, the fact that Blogger hasn't been cooperating with me when I try to log in might have something to do with my aversion to blogging lately. Just maybe.

But I'm here right now, so let's jump right into things.

Guess what's been on my mind lately? Well, a lot of things, but I mean in the realm of "fruit of the hands."


Ah, it's such the time of year for things like that! I can't believe it's November already. Every morning, I want to dress in short sleeves. (I'm in denial, you see.) But by 9:30 or 10:00 I end up pulling on a sweater or changing to long sleeves. I love fall clothes - love, love, love them! But, living in southern Virginia, I don't even think about cold weather until, oh...January or so. It doesn't seem right to get cold before then.

And I've been cold, let me tell you. We had out first frost Sunday morning, and my flowers and sweet basil died. The temperatures are in the upper 30s at night, or even the 20s, occasionally. (Yes, all you northerners are allow to snort and laugh. Just once. I'm telling you - that's COLD!)

But it's a great time of year for being in the kitchen. I love to bake, but lately I've been inspired to do cooking. I want to mix food without a recipe, stir something on the stove top, toss exotic spices together....

Ah, yes.

But baking is fun, too. I want to make pies. I made apple pie on Saturday. I love to make pie crusts! And do artwork on the top layer of my pie crust. This time it was an apple cut-out in the middle.

Oh, and pumpkin cookies! That's really the only food that exists this month; pumpkin. Bake it, mash it, "cookie" it, "pie" it, "cake" it, mix it with cream cheese frosting, mix it with chocolate chips, mix it with raisins.....yum. Have you ever made pumpkin stuff from scratch, with a real pumpkin? It's so easy. If you haven't, you must try it. You'll wonder why you thought it was complicated.

I'm sure you could figure this out yourself, but I'll tell you just because I want to.

Making pumpkin bake-ready:
1 - Slice pumpkin open, remove seeds and that stringy orange stuff. Get as much of it as you can, because it doesn't mash very well at all. Slice into quarters, then eighths, ...keep going until your slices are about 2 inches thick.
2 - Place sliced pumpkin in a glass casserole dish, and add an inch or so of water. Don't cover it. Just add enough so the pumpkin won't get crispy.
3 - Bake at 350 degrees for...oh, I don't know. 20-40 minutes. Somewhere in there. Just until pumpkin is very soft - skin included. But don't let the flesh part start browning.
4 - Let pumpkin cool enough to handle, and then scrap out as much flesh off the skins as you can. Discard skin. Put flesh into a bowl and mash with a potato masher until smooth.

You're done! I told you it was easy. Use as regular canned pumpkin. (Not pumpkin pie mix - you have to add spices for that.) Stay tuned for a really yummy pumpkin recipe.

But cooking has been my interest lately. Aside from pumpkin and pies, that is. I stayed up late one night this week (really late), and the last thing I was doing on my computer was researching how to make the "perfect gravy."

Forgive me, but most homemade gravy isn't so good. It's lumpy, it's bland, it's watery. It's...nothing. I've never made anything good in that realm. But my brothers adore good gravy, so I want to learn to make it for them.

Wanna see what I found? Of course you do.
This site was very inspiring. Great photos. And descriptions.
And this video made me ask Mom if I can make our next Sunday dinner.

I found some other stuff, too, but those two sites were my favorites.

Oh yes - I promised you a pumpkin recipe. This is another "Amber Creation." I've been considering putting a little cookbook together, of dishes I've invented. Would that be a good idea, or not? I trust you guys; give me some feedback; would you want to read such a book? If you read it, would it be to laugh at the tales of how each recipe was birthed, or would you actually use it to cook?

This pumpkin dish isn't totally my own. I got the idea from The Pioneer Woman Cooks, when I was browsing the site, looking for gravy help. But, I promise, I didn't steal anything. I just used it as a starting point. Mine is pumpkin, hers is sweet 'taters. Mine uses less sugar and it's cheaper to make. But hers looks good too, so maybe you'll want to pay her a visit!

Anyway. On to the pumpkin.

Amber's Non-Dessert Pumpkin (so named because my siblings couldn't believe it was actually for the main meal)

2 cups mashed pumpkin
2 eggs
4 TBS butter (because that's what you have. More might have been good.)
1/4 cup milk (was it that much? Maybe only 3 TBS. Not sure. You try it.)
Cinnamon. Lots of Cinnamon.
1 cup Old Fashioned Oats
1/4 cup brown sugar, divided

Yeah, I think that was it.
No - wait - add a dash of allspice.

Directions: Mix pumpkin, eggs, milk, 2 TBS sugar, a heaping shake of cinnamon, and that dash of allspice in a mixing bowl until smooth. (If you want to save dishes, use the same bowl you mashed the pumpkin in.) Pour into a 9x9 glass baking dish, and set aside. In another bowl, put the oats, rest of the brown sugar, more cinnamon, and the butter, chopped into smaller pieces. Cut butter into other ingredients until crumbly and yummy. (Taste to be sure!) It will want to clump a bit, 'specially if your butter is getting warm, but do your best to crumble the stuff on top of the pumpkin batter. Now bake at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

If you're expecting sweet potatoes, ...don't. If you're expecting pumpkin pie...don't. Expect something totally new and different, and slightly healthy. It's a squash. But yummy. Oh, very yummy. Be sure to mash the pumpkin very smooth, as the texture plays an important part in this dish.

We liked it. Let me know what you think! Happy baking and cooking to you!