Cupcakes and Sunshine: Consider it JOY!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Consider it JOY!

There have been a couple of rainy days over here, and it's not just this gloomy Dallas weather. There's that saying when it rains, it pours and I've seen a lot of rain in a lot of good friend's lives and my own lately. It's pouring, and these days haven't been the easiest. 

This week, my sweet friend Miea reminded me about making lemonade, and I remembered this post from last year

Some days are unexpectedly tough. I think when graduating from college, you expect change and fear the future, and you're aware that everything is about to be new...but after that, a little life turmoil and rain can be unanticipated. Abrupt changes can throw you for a loop if your heart isn't in the right place. It's during these times that the Lord invites us to be near and come boldly to the throne of grace to receive mercy in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

"And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." Romans 5: 2-4 Perseverance and Hope! 

Heart Check: 
I was recently doing a Bible study that encouraged me to make a list of all the times I've felt closest to the Lord. And as I made this list, I realized most of these moments were all times of unknown, hurt, and pain....rainy, pouring moments when I was on my knees calling out to and trusting in the Lord. We need to anticipate the trials, and remain steadfast and dependent on the Lord in both the good and the bad, so that when these rainy days come, we are prepared to surrender and rest in His truth & promises. The answer to every need: God is faithful, and is always always near. 

“The Lord’s mercy often rides to the door of our heart upon the black horse of affliction.” ~Charles Haddon Spurgeon

This year I fell into a grey area where scripture and worship became somewhat cliche' to me. I was busy, choosing worldly things, treading water, not resting in truth and grace, and lost site of where I needed to be. It took some good friends to say, "Whoah, pause Haley- heart check!" And if I’m honest, my faith felt really weak as I wrestled with the Lord through some anger, confusion, and fears over my life’s circumstances. But these are the greatest opportunities to show and display our faith. I began praying for a renewed mind (Romans 12:2) and dependence again on the Lord. I was back on my knees in the unknown, hurt, and pain. 

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." Matthew 7:7

Thoughts Check: 
A verse I have really been leaning into lately is Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy  think about such things and the God of peace will be with you." I've taken some steps to renew my mind. If you've seen me lately, this verse is probably written on the palm of my hand. 

My thoughts were a mess, and I've decided to replace my time with true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable things. I've gotten rid of music that is not pure and edifying, tv shows, and social media. I've hit "unfollow" on some people and media that are not pointing me in the right direction. If it's not true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, I've done my best to get rid of it- thoughts, relationships, songs, media, etc. And I've spent my time replacing it with truth, scripture, books, songs, podcasts, and people that are leading me well and reminding me If the Lord isn't at the center, then it's not the right path. 

Immeasurably More: 
I love words. I've filled journals with hundreds of words and prayers and this week, I've taken some time to look back and see a lot answered prayers from the one-time unknown. I've felt so encouraged and hope-filled! Every time I see Ephesians 3:20 ("Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us"), I think of my sweet friend Alex who boldly rested in this truth during some TOUGH times and sent me to Dallas with this verse in mind a couple years ago. After looking back, I would have never imagined I'd be where I've been, and I'm in awe, expectantly, that he is going to do immeasurably more!!

Grateful Heart: 
I've recently read somewhere that you can't be both grateful and unhappy at the same. And I think it's so true! 

"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." James 1:2-4

Something that has been really helpful for me is writing down all the things I'm thankful for at the end of each day before going to sleep. A joyful, grateful heart is good medicine! Consider it JOY whenever you face trials. 

What I'm listening to:
Without You, Shane and Shane 
Do it Again, Elevation Worship
Glory and Wonder, Mosaic MSC
I Will Wait For You There, Phil Wickham
New Wine, Hillsong
Seasons, Hillsong
Touch of Heaven, Hillsong (love!) 
Sinking Deep, Hillsong Young and Free
Fall Afresh, Jeremy Riddle
Your Love is Better, Will Reagan
Here's My Heart, Crowder
Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, Sufjan Stevens

I also believe you can't eat cheesecake and be unhappy at the same time either :) 

So here's a cheesecake recipe you need! Cheesecakes can seem a little daunting, because you do have to create a "water bath" to prevent the cheesecake from cracking while baking. The first time I made a cheesecake was for Jenny's birthday circa 2014. It was actually no biggie! See directions below for some tips and tricks.  

1 cup of cookie crumbs (I used chocolate cookies) 
3 Tbs. melted butter

3 packages of cream cheese (Philadelphia brand! Not a fan of generic cream cheese!) 
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of sour cream
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract 
1 tsp. lemon zest

1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk

1. With a stand or handmixer, mix softened cream cheese, sugar, and sour cream.
2. Slowly whisk in each egg (just until combined), lemon zest, and vanilla extract. Do not over mix once eggs are added! This could create cracks in your cheesecake.
3. Double wrap the bottom of your cheesecake pan in aluminum foil.
4. Pour cheesecake mixture into cheesecake springform pan. Set your aluminum-wrapped springform pan in a roasting dish filled about halfway with water, and bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes.
5. Then turn off your oven, open your oven door, and leave cheesecake for another 60 minutes.
6. Set cheesecake in refrigerator overnight.
7. Pour 1/4 cup of sweetened condensed milk over top, and add sprinkles or other cheesecake toppings. I like to place in freezer for another 20 minutes before serving!

Invite over a few friends- your tribe, your people- share your burdens, your JOYS, and  this cheesecake as well! 


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