Ash Wednesday and the Imitatio Christi


We must imitate Christ's life and his ways if we are to be truly enlightened and set free from the darkness of our own hearts.  Let it be the most important thing we do, then, to reflect on the life of Jesus Christ.

         --Thomas a Kempis

Lent is rather new for me.  It was my senior year of high school as I sat outside of a Wal-Mart for a choir fundraiser, when one of my fellow chorale members came with ash & oil cross on his forehead.  My only recollection of why he did this when asked, "Well, I gave up video games for Lent.  Last year was chocolate."  But why?...I wondered.

It seemed frivolous to me to simply give up some random item without a "why" behind it.  Honestly, it still does.  

Yesterday as I was pinning & re-pinning on Pinterest, I typed in "Lent" into the search box.  A huge assortment came spilling out, from beautiful Lent candle wreaths to chocolate oreo cake.  What struck me was the comments on the desserts, like this one below stating: "Gave up chocolate for Lent. How soon on Easter morning will I be eating this?" 


The people of Israel respond (Isaiah 58:3):

'We have fasted before you!' they say.  'Why aren't you impressed?  We have been very hard on ourselves, and you don't even notice it!'

As Jesus walked those forty days in the desert denying himself, he didn't do it to prove something, or to get some pat on the back.  He did it for love, he did it for us.  He saw in those years before...the road to Calvary.  It was through his denial of self, which led him to have compassion on the crowds, mercy for the unforgiving mobs, and love to the point of death on a cross.  

God responds to Israel (Isaiah 58:3b-5):

'I will tell you why!' I respond. 'It's because you are fasting to please yourselves.  Even while you fast, you keep oppressing your workers.  What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarreling?  This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with me.  You humble yourselves by going through the motions of penance, bowing your heads like reeds bending in the wind.  You dress in burlap and cover yourselves with ashes.  Is this what you call fasting?  Do you really think this will please the Lord?


It is our heart Jesus is interested in.  It's always been our heart.  We walk through Lent to humble our hearts & to become in nature, in imitation of the Christ.  So as we meditate these forty days leading to the lowly walk toward Golgotha, may we begin with hearts of contrition.  May we come to God with true fasting of the heart, asking His Spirit to examine us in our finite ways.  


Prayer of Examen (taken from Richard Foster's book Prayer):

Precious Savior, why do I fear your scrutiny?  Yours is an examen of love.  Still, I am afraid...afraid of what may surface.  Even so, I invite you to search me to the depths so that I may know myself--and you--in fuller measure.  Amen.


Reading: Isaiah 58, Psalm 139

Journal, prayer, reflection: What is God revealing to me in response to these two passages?  Where is He directing me to fast from fasting in these forty days?  

Daughters Fulfilling Kingdom Dreams, Not Terminating Life


I steer clear of politics at Redeeming the Table, because it tends to be a touchy subject and I'm not one to join the debate team.  However, I feel strongly about issues.  As a daughter of the Most High God, as a mother to two beautiful girls with one child on the way, and a daughter to a mother who went through the travesty of her hell on earth known as an abortion, this topic is more than politics for me.  

It's brothers or sisters I don't know.  It's giving a voice to those who weren't given a choice.  It's knowing after walking through a miscarriage and the grief & pain that tore my heart of the loss, that young woman who have an abortion are experiencing the same grief, pain & loss.  I have never met a woman who experienced an abortion and said she was unphased by it.  When I read this article by President Obama and how giving a choice to terminate life was a way we would give our daughters the same chance as our sons to fulfill their dreams, it made my insides cringe as this optimistic spin on hopelessness was spewed.  

Last time I checked, I'm pretty sure my mom never spoke of her dreams being fulfilled; rather, nightmares of the shame & guilt that would ride her.  

And then I saw this link from Sarah Mae on Twitter of a woman killing eight of her children, because they were girls and not boys.  This friends is hell on Earth.  It is not redemption found, but we hold the key to bring redemption.  As image bearers of the Creator, we are to be hope & light.  To call all of creation good.  To bring about his redemption wherever we find ourselves.  

My prayer is that my daughters & this baby growing in my womb would fulfill Kingdom dreams, not ones of the Earthly kind.  

Being a Blessing & Banana Bread Chocolate Chip Cookies


Whenever the summer fades and autumn begins, or winter days emerge, banana bread is comfort food.  Our week has been a winter wonderland. Monday the snow began to fall with Tuesday being knee deep for the littles, and today well below freezing.  

Any plans that we had hoped for have taken a turn for lounging in pajamas & lots of dress-up play.  One thing is banana bread chocolate chip cookies.  They speak of home.  Home as all things good, safe & wonderful.  I'm reminded how many children & adults do not know this reality of home.  Where cold, abandon & uncertainty loom at every corner.  

I looked out into the ice-bitten chill that sang of the White Witch last night.  My prayer, "Oh Jesus.  Have mercy on those children, those parents, those people who don't have a warm home.  Who don't have food in their belly.  For those mothers who bury their children.  Who am I?  Thank you for this warm home, food fit for a king.  Thank you that my girls don't know that reality."  

I paused to take in what this world of hopelessness looks like and it breaks me.  Why should I receive a blessing? Then, I read through my journal today from 8/6/11: 

Generosity--giving--one needs to be intentional with life.  With life, money, time & resources.  Managing a home should never just be about creating, saving and restoring for family; but, in order to bring life to those around us.

Our home is not just to create a safety around our children, to provide for their needs, or my needs.  It is that, but it is to be a blessing.  Just as God said at the beginning to Israel, "you are to be a blessing to the nations."  That is be a blessing.  Saying no to more stuff, in order to give more generously.  

This has huge implications with a greater bewilderment to follow of "how can I do it?"  Today, I paint our door frames with Jesus feeding the 5,000 against all odds.  I pray with my girls that we would be mindful of our blessings, in order to give that to others.  I bake cookies with my girls to give them a taste of the sweet mercy of Jesus, and how it's new every morning.  

I would love to hear how you find the blessings and how you give blessings.   

Banana Bread Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are way too good to last that long.  If your's do, then storing them covered will make them more soft and more banana bread like.  


3 cups blanched almond flour

1 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp ground Saigon cinnamon (regular is fine)

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

2 very ripe bananas 

1/2 cup ghee

1/2 cup coconut sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

1/2 cup walnuts, chop them and makes about 2/3 cups

3/4 cup chocolate chips

1 Tb homemade bourbon vanilla or regular vanilla


Preheat oven to 350.  Line a pan with parchment paper.  Set aside.

In a bowl of an electric mixer, beat the bananas until nice & mushy, about 45 seconds on medium.  Add the ghee & coconut sugar and mix for 30 seconds on low-medium.  Add eggs and bourbon vanilla, mix just till combined.  Add the dry ingredients, almond flour, baking soda, sea salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and mix till everything comes together.  Add the walnuts & mix till evenly distributed and follow with the chocolate chips.  

Put about two tablespoons (I use a cookie scoop) onto the lined pan.  Sprinkle with vanilla salt.  Bake for 15-17 minutes, depending on how soft you want them.  Remembering that almond flour is more moist than regular flour.  Cool on the pan for 2 minutes and then transfer, serve & eat.