Rice Krispies®, Chili Powder, and Rushing Ahead

I was fighting a sweet tooth and since I’d made brownies the week before, Rice Krispies Treats™ seemed like a brilliant alternative. Besides, they’re basically instant gratification because they require only minutes to prep.

After spreading the gooey goodness of Rice Krispies® cereal and buttery marshmallows in my cake pan, I reached into the cabinet for some sprinkles. Deliciousness is 90% preparation and 10% presentation, right? Maybe the percentages depend on the person, but I always like to make my desserts pretty.

I started shaking the red dispenser, but something looked off. The red wasn’t red enough. It was a deeper burgundy color.

And then I read the label. Chili Powder.

I was doctoring my delicious treats with chili powder, not sugar cookie sprinkles.

When we rush toward gratification

I was in such a hurry to add the finishing touches that I didn’t read the label or take time to do a two-second inspection. If I had, it would have been obvious that the chili powder container didn’t look like sugar sprinkles.

Sometimes, we act the same with life. We’re in such a rush to get to the next phase of our lives that we grab what looks like the “real thing,” only to be disappointed later.

For example, have any of these If Onlys ever crossed your mind?

  • If only I could just finish school
  • If only I could meet the right guy
  • If only I could make the team
  • If only I could go on that trip
  • If only

The problem is that when we wish for instant gratification to our desires, we often miss out on the blessings of right now and mess up God’s recipe to provide in the best way.

When to stop and read the label

Like it or not, life doesn’t come with a label. Can you imagine what ours would say if it did?

  • Caution: Do not converse with prior to coffee consumption.
  • Directions: Dose regularly with sunshine for optimum results.
  • Warning: Introvert requires good books and quiet time to recharge properly.

What would yours say? In all seriousness, though, even if we had labels, they would have one problem: They would be about us.

Instead, we have something better. God’s Word directs our focus off ourselves and toward Him and His plan.

If you find yourself wanting to rush ahead, open a copy of the Bible and meditate on truths like these:

  • Jeremiah 29:11-12: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.” (ESV)
  • Psalm 34:8-10: “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” (ESV)
  • Philippians 4:4-7: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (ESV)

How to Move Past Mess-Ups

Maybe you’re thinking, “But, Kristen, I’ve already grabbed the chili powder.”

I hear you. So have I. Plenty of times. But you know what? Chili powder on Rice Krispies Treats™ wasn’t a total fiasco. A gentle sprinkling was almost unnoticeable, and I caught the problem before I doused the whole pan.

No matter how big you think your mess is, God’s grace can redeem it. His Word says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9a ESV).

Bring your mess to God and be honest with him about it. Ask him to put his grace to work in your weakness and bring about good through the mistakes. He will.

~ Kristen

I’m honored that this article appeared in the fall issue of the Girlz 4 Christ digital magazine. Hope it’s a blessing to you! For more great content for teen girls, visit girlz4christ.org.

Tweetable

Rice Krispies®, Chili Powder, and Rushing Ahead – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Maker’s Metronome

Click, click, click. Beep, beep, beep. That metronome used to drive me crazy as a beginning piano student. If you play piano (or some other instrument), maybe that little device was the bane of your early musical years, too.

Of course, my teacher had my best interests at heart, and thanks to her persistence and the nagging of that metronome, my timing improved. All along, I knew its steady beat was right, but I still resented it.

Am I that way with God’s timing? Are you? We might say we believe His ways are best, but truthfully, we’d rather speed up the tempo. However, when we rush ahead of God, we miss His perfect plan. Two Old Testament characters learned this lesson the hard way.

King Saul forgot his place.

As Israel’s king, Saul enjoyed many privileges and responsibilities. Offering burnt sacrifices was not one of them.

During the second year of his reign, he faced a critical test. Israel’s enemies, the Philistines, gathered to attack. Their numbers were “like the sand on the seashore in multitude” (I Samuel 13:5 ESV). In response, the men of Israel fled and hid themselves.

Although the text doesn’t contain the message, King Saul must have sent for the High Priest Samuel to come sacrifice to the Lord and intercede on their behalf. In reply, Samuel sent word he would be there in seven days (I Sam. 13:8).

Can you imagine the tension building inside Saul? His forces were scattered, and he couldn’t do anything to rally them until Samuel appeared. His panic grew as more men disappeared with each new dawn. At this rate, he wouldn’t have an army left to face the Philistines.

Finally, the day arrived, but Samuel did not. Too impatient to wait any longer, Saul offered the sacrifice himself.

Guess what? The Bible says that “as soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering,” Samuel arrived (I Sam. 13:10 ESV). Saul armed himself with excuses, but the bottom line was that he had disobeyed God. As a result, Samuel declared that God would not establish Saul’s kingdom (I Sam. 13:14).

Do we try to take things that don’t belong to us—or perhaps aren’t God’s design for us right now? Losing our place in a musical piece might leave us embarrassed, but getting out of sync with God’s plan can only bring regret.

Abram and Sarai rushed ahead of God’s plan.

In Scripture, God made a covenant, an unbreakable promise, with a man named Abram.

  • In Genesis 12, God promised to make him “a great nation” (vs. 2) and give the land to his offspring (vs. 7).
  • In Genesis 13, God told him that his descendants would be like “the dust of the earth,” meaning that no one could count them (vs. 16).
  • In Genesis 15, God declared that his children would be as numerous as the stars in the sky (vs. 5).

There was only one problem. Abram and his wife Sarai were old and childless.

Perhaps at first, Abram believed God without question. But ten years passed from the initial promise when he was 75 years old (Genesis 12:4). Maybe he needed to “help God along.”

He wife suggested he have a child with her handmaid. The result of that union was a boy named Ishmael, but he was not to be the son of promise. Instead, God told Abram and Sarai they would have a son named Isaac (Genesis 17:19-21). He changed their names to Abraham and Sarah to underscore His promise that they would be parents of not just one son, but of many nations (Genesis 17:4, 16).

God’s promise came to pass, though not on their timetable. Twenty-five years after the promise in Genesis 12, Sarah bore Isaac to Abraham, now 100 years old (Genesis 21:5).

Although God always keeps His word, we often grow impatient. We think our timing is better—only to complicate our circumstances.

God’s promises endure.

Is there something you’ve been praying about for some time? Does God seem to be saying no or not yet?

God’s Word provides the encouragement we need to persevere. As we spend time in the Bible, we can identify unchanging truths and apply them to our circumstances.

Let’s look at one of them from Abraham’s story. This man had his share of doubts, but the Lord told him: Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward (Genesis 15:1b NKJV).

I wonder if these words were God’s way of reminding Abraham that greater even than the child of promise was His own presence in Abraham’s life.

Try placing your name in that verse. Say it out loud.

Do not be afraid, ______________. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.

The Lord is our shield and our reward—even while we’re waiting, even if God ultimately says no or reshapes our request.

God’s timing is always perfect.

We would never tell a metronome that it’s timing is wrong and ours is right. We’re aware, sometimes painfully so, that it’s on tempo and we’re not.

If we wouldn’t argue with a mechanized device, why do we argue with God? How often do we tell Him that He needs to answer our prayers … for a friend, a relationship, a growth spurt, a scholarship … NOW?

Even though we may think our timing makes sense, the truth is we can’t see or understand God’s schedule. In the Bible, the book of Isaiah speaks to this very truth:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV).

Let’s stop resenting His timing and learn to conform to it. Our unchanging God has planned the perfect rhythm for our lives, and when we follow it, we can enjoy His best.

~ Kristen

This post first appeared in the Girlz 4 Christ Fall Issue. To read more great content for teens girls, subscribe at girlz4christ.org.

Tweetable

Our Maker’s Metronome: God’s timing is always perfect – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

Faith that Moves

 

The follow post first appeared in the spring issue of Girlz 4 Christ magazine. I felt burdened to write it after moving at the end of last year and hope it will be a blessing to you, in whatever stage or place you find yourself. For more encouragement and inspiration on godly topics for teen girls, visit Girlz 4 Christ online.


Moving. I can’t decide what I like least about it: getting the boxes, packing, or unpacking.

Getting the boxes (if you’re thrifty like me) can involve borderline dumpster diving or soliciting the local grocery store. I felt like a puppy begging for food when I asked the clerk if she had any empty boxes. She threw me a bone and said I could check the empty pallet out back.

Since I’m a recovering perfectionist, packing boxes also poses a problem and takes forever. When I reach the unpacking stage, I empty the brown cartons with much less tenderness. They litter the hallway like landmines until I find scissors to break them down. Even once the dust settles, then begins the process of meeting neighbors, making new friends, and relearning the grocery layout.

Yes, I recently moved, and some of you can relate. Whether you’re moving with your family, into a dorm, or into your own place, relocating can be a stressful time. How do we respond to the changes when we prefer our comfort zones?

Thousands of years ago, God asked a man named Abram to move. His example shows how our faith can help us survive packing tape and uncertainty.

Faith obeys

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” (Genesis 12:1 ESV)

As far as I can tell, God didn’t give Abram any advanced notice he would be moving. The previous chapter, Genesis 11, records his family’s genealogy and their one move to a place called Haran, where they all settled together (verse 31).

The word settled makes me imagine a community playground for the cousins, family cookouts by the campfire, and all the comforts of home.

Now, God called Abram to uproot his immediate family and leave behind his relatives. Doing so meant he would likely never see them again.

Has God asked you to make a hard choice? Sometimes, just “growing up” and moving out can bring mixed emotions. (Other times, both parents and teens can’t wait for the process to start!)

Often, we’re reluctant to give up the familiar, but when God calls us to go somewhere or do something, we can know He has our best interests at heart.

And so, Abram went. He packed up everything, even though he didn’t have an address to give the moving truck.

Faith obeys, even when it can’t see beyond the very next step.

Faith starts over

So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. (Genesis 12:4)

Moving at any age is hard, but can we even imagine what starting from scratch at seventy-five would have felt like?

Granted, life expectancies were longer in Abram’s day. His father, Terah, died at 205 years of age (Genesis 11:32). However, in many ways, life was harder. People traveled in caravans but not the mini-van kind. Horses and camels, not cars, provided much slower transportation.

When we think of moving, our biggest concerns are making friends at a new school, learning to live with roommates, or figuring out which aisle of the neighborhood Publix stocks Edy’s® cookie dough ice cream. (Yes, it’s my favorite.)

Abram had to worry about finding pasture for his livestock, digging a well, protecting his company from marauders, and keeping the peace among his traveling group. Turns out, his nephew Lot’s herdsmen didn’t like Abram’s, but that’s another story (Genesis 13:7).

When God asks us to “start over,” how can we make the best of the situation?

  • Focus on what we’ve gained, not on what we’ve lost. Practice contentment in “whatever situation” we find ourselves, like the Apostle Paul did (Philippians 4:11).
  • Put the “interests of others” above our own (Philippians 2:4). When we look for ways to bless others, we find ourselves blessed in return. No place feels more like home than one graced with hospitality.
  • Remember that God stays by our sides during times of change. “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it” (I Thessalonians 5:24).

Faith trusts

“And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:2-3)

If you’re going through a transition, move or otherwise, the future can feel uncertain, even scary. More than ever, we need to cling to God’s promises.

That’s what Abram did, and God promised him some things that seemed impossible! After all, his wife Sarai was barren (Genesis 11:30), and though seventy-five wasn’t the end of the road for him, he wasn’t a spring chicken.

But Abram believed God would do what He said (Romans 4:3). Yes, at times his faith wavered and he made some poor choices, but he continued to trust God to accomplish what He had promised.

And guess what? God did.

What promises help strengthen your faith? Here are a few of my favorites.

  • Joshua 1:9
  • Psalm 32:8
  • Psalm 84:11
  • Psalm 138:8
  • Psalm 139:9-10

I challenge you to look them up … And please share some of your own in the comments below!  Your favorite promise might just be what someone else needs to hear.

~ Kristen

 

Tweetables

Faith that Moves – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

When you can’t see the next step – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)