Live from Israel!

Isn’t it funny how we visualize a person we’ve only talked to but never seen? We have a picture in our mind’s eye of that person—hair color, facial features, height, build. Then we meet him in person. The collision of expectations and reality prove us completely wrong.

For me, the Holy Land was that way. Before visiting Israel for the first time, I had certain pictures in my mind. Some of them originated from Sunday school pictures and flannelgraph stories. Some of them I simply conjured up on my own.

After seeing some of the significant sites of my faith, and walking in places where Jesus likely walked, it was like seeing a person for the first time when I’d previously only heard his voice. The familiar stories of the Bible took on new significance and depth.

If you ever have the opportunity to visit, you should! Meanwhile, here are a few pictures from our journey.

Holy Land Sea of Galilee

Sea of Galilee as the sun was setting.

Holy Land

View of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives.

Holy Land Walls

Walls around Jerusalem

Holy Land Court of Gentiles

Temple Mount

Holy Land Jordan River

Jordan River

Holy Land Upper Room

Upper Room

Holy Land Gethsem

Garden of Gethsemane

Holy Land Holding Jesus

Holding cell in the High Priest’s house (Caiaphas’ House)

Holy Land Garden TombGarden Tomb

Imperial Chicken Bake

photoYears ago, when Andy and I were newlyweds, a group of ladies at First Baptist Church of Atlanta put together a cookbook. This was no ordinary church cookbook. It was a beautiful hardcover cookbook filled with photographs taken by my father-in-law. The recipes were tested and tested and tested. In fact, there was a running joke that the cookbook would never be released because the tester ladies were having too much fun.

If you love cookbooks, you should definitely try to find one of these online!

So, back to my story . . . Again, I was a newlywed and was just learning how to cook. Really, I was bad at it. I remember making some sort of sponge cake that had three or four Jell-O colors in it. And, no, it wasn’t Mardi Gras. I really thought it was going to be good. I was not correct.

Thankfully, Among the Lilies was finally released. Maybe Andy called them and asked them to please hurry. Every recipe in that cookbook was amazing. Here is one that I bet I’ve made over a hundred times. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Imperial Chicken Bake

  • 3 C. dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 C. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 T. minced parsley
  • 1 t. salt
  • 6 chicken breast halves
  • 1/2 C. milk
  • 3/4-stick butter
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Paprika to taste

Combine first five ingredients in a large shallow bowl. Dip each chicken breast in milk; then dredge in the seasoned crumbs. Place in lightly greased dish. Combine butter, garlic, and lemon juice. Drizzle over chicken. Sprinkle paprika over all. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes until tender.

Guess what? I have a copy to give away! Enter to win by commenting with your funniest cooking mishap. There will be a random drawing on Monday, September 1!

Uncommon Common Sense

All I can say is, “Wow!” over the response to Allie’s Rules for High School. To those of you who posted, reposted, tweeted, copied, mailed, framed, and passed on to high school girls you love, thank you.

In two and a half weeks there were almost 750,000 hits to this post. That doesn’t account for the thousands who read them directly from Facebook or from other websites where they made their way. On the first day of school, the list was read during drive time on the most listened to morning show in Atlanta. Q100’s The Bert Show is syndicated, consequently it hit lots of other stations as well. Thanks Bert and team!

Allie’s response over and over was, “Mom, these are just common sense. Why is it such a big deal?” My answer to that question was simply, “Allie, common sense isn’t really all that common.”

Truth be told, what seems like common sense to many of us actually isn’t. While a conscience might be rattled a bit when a teenager makes a poor choice, often they just do it anyway. If they haven’t consistently been taught the reasons for setting personal standards, why would they? Certainly if a teenager doesn’t have a relationship with Christ, half of these rules seem downright silly.

Allie and I hope this list continues to make a difference in the lives of some precious teenage girls (and guys). Thank you, kind readers, for passing the list along and helping make something uncommon a bit more common.

Allie’s Rules for High School

photoA few nights ago I had an encounter with my 18-year-old daughter that will be imprinted on my heart forever. I walked into her room; she was sitting on the floor with her laptop. Immediately obvious was her determined focus on something she was typing. While I made a mental note of the messy room and intended to revisit it momentarily, I asked what she was working on so seriously. She looked up and said, “Mom, tell me what you think of this. These are Allie’s High School Rules. I’m giving them to my ninth graders.”

To give you a little context, Allie served as a small group leader to middle school girls on Sunday mornings at our church. That group is entering Milton High School as freshmen in a couple weeks. Allie has poured lots of time and energy into these girls over the past few years, and loves them so much. Having just graduated from Milton herself, she has a fresh perspective on exactly what they’ll be encountering over the next four years. She decided to put together a list of “guidelines” that she’s hoping will help them navigate the sometimes treacherous waters of high school.

As Allie began reading her list to me, I found myself crumbling (in a good way) on the inside. By the time she reached the end of her list, I was sitting on the floor with eyes flooded. I was overwhelmed and amazed at her maturity and strength. I knew she had made good choices throughout high school, and had traversed some hard things in ways that demonstrated her love for Christ and desire to obey Him. But to hear the “rubber meets the road” advice she put on paper was incredible. In that moment, I LOVED her messy room too!

So, I’m going to share 20 of “Allie’s Rules for High School” with you! Some of them are inside jokes she has with her girls, but you’ll get them anyway. Pass on to any rising high schoolers you might know!

  1. Surround yourself with people who build you up, not people who tear you down.
  2. Treat your kisses like you have a limited supply.
  3. Guard your heart. Seriously… your heart is precious.
  4. Stay vertical/no buttons and zippers (or Velcro). In other words, set your boundaries and stick to them.
  5. Have an accountability partner and be willing to tell HER everything.
  6. Be so so so so so so so SO SO SO SO careful who you date.
  7. If you’re wondering if you should break up with him, break up with him.
  8. If your girl gets broken up with, go buy her a stuffed animal, a blanket, candy, and lots and lots of ice cream. (Other gifts are acceptable.)
  9. Pray, PRAY, PRAY! Don’t ever forget how much you need God.
  10. Have a quiet time. It may seem like a hassle, but it will help you stay close to God.
  11. Be nice to your parents. They love you and want the best for you, so if you disagree with them, just realize that they are a lot smarter than you…sorry about it.
  12. If you find yourself lying to your parents/other adults in your life, backtrack and get out of that situation IMMEDIATELY. You are somewhere you do not want to be.
  13. Never be afraid to say no. It’s better to be a wimp than dead.
  14. When you fall on your face, get back up and keep moving (literally and figuratively).
  15. Journal so you can look back and see what God has done in your life.
  16. Even when you don’t want to, GO TO CHURCH!
  17. If it’s not classy, don’t do it.
  18. Don’t judge. Even when people are doing things you don’t agree with, show them love.
  19. Pause before you speak… this will prevent a lot of problems.
  20. Selfies are for faces.

If you have a teenage girl in your life, and she has a good high school rule to add, let us hear from you/her!