Wednesday, October 26, 2011

One Bad Apple Spoils the Barrel

Malcolm and I came to Paonia towards the beginning of the month and helped my dad pick the apples from his tree in the backyard. Since then, I feel like I either cook, bake, can, eat or at least talk about apples once day - no joke! And since apples seem to be such a theme in my life currently, I have been trying to think of a biblical principle to incorporate with all these apples. This morning, as I was about to do some random post to share my recipes I've used recently, God hit me in-between the eyes with the truth of apples and my spiritual life.

Have you heard the phrase, "One bad apple spoils the barrel"? Honestly, I didn't think it was fully true. But I decided to do some research to find out if it was true (I tried to use all my bad apples right away so they wouldn't go to waste, so I didn't find this out in real life)Apparently, apples release something to make ripening happen, and if you have one is over ripe it can make all the other apples surrounding it start to break down. And if one is moldy, those mold spores can easily transfer to other apples surrounding it, especially if the other apples have cuts, bruises or holes (I typed in the phrase "one apple spoils the barrel" into Goggle to find my answers from multiple sites). 

Most people use this phrase to speak of people in our lives that can "poison" us and make us rotten. I'm not defecting this truth, since the Bible backs this point up (check out 1 Corinthians 15:33). But this is what hit me this morning as I was reflecting - I can corrupt all the other good things that God blesses me with in my life. One bad attitude, one "little" sin, one act of selfishness and permeate into all the other areas of life.

To be honest, this has been my major issue this past month. I let myself have the worst attitude about support raising. Instead of taking it to God humbly to let Him truly change me, I took it to Him on a surface basis and still let the real issue start to rot me. I started to believe lies that people didn't care or want to give, that I wasn't worth the time to listen to and that maybe what we're wanting to do isn't worth it, and, worst of all, that God really didn't care about we were doing to take care of our needs. This one bad attitude started infecting everything else around me. I started focusing on things that don't matter, letting every little get to me and irritate me, which put in conflict left and right.

Once I realized what was happening, I kept trying things to get me out of my situation. Nothing was really working. Then along comes Sunday morning. I was praying instead of worship God through song, asking Him, "God, what do I do? I'm so screwed up right now, and I don't know how to fix it." He hit me with this truth, "Leah, you need mercy and grace."

What? That's not what I expecting to hear! I was expecting a 12-step process to get me clean with God, not this one thing that I can't really do much with except accept it. But then I was thinking about - I've been beating myself up and letting lies sink into my being to the point where I couldn't get myself out. What I really needed was a "do over", to put this past month away and just have a new start. That's why Jesus came in the first place - to make us a new creation so we can live an abundant life in Christ.

Jesus gave us the gift we didn't deserve so we don't have to live the life we deserve to live. Without God's grace and God's mercy we're doomed! But this shouldn't be something we accepted one day just to make sure we're going to heaven, but grace and mercy is something we should cling to every day we're alive.

Romans 5:20-21 says, "The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

I don't say this to say I have an excuse to sin, because I don't. Romans 6:1-2 says, "What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?" But what I am saying is that God is still making me into the woman He wants me to be, which means I need to die to myself and remember that it is by His grace alone I am saved, and that His mercy is new every morning - I need Him more and more every day.

Great is Thy Faithfulness

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.


Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.


Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!


 If you need ideas of how to use up a bunch of apples, or just some good recipes to try out, I've found some yummy ones!

Apple Crisp
Pumpkin Apple Muffins - these are streusel muffins, but I made them in my cupcake maker, so I didn't do the streusel part. I also suggest baking them in the oven instead of a cupcake maker since they're so thick.
Crock Pot Applesauce - I used the recipe linked, but I also learned a recipe from my stepmom's mom which is delicious and the most beautiful applesauce I have ever seen!! Put 1/2 water in bottom of crock pot, fill with apples, pour 2 Tbps lemon juice over apples, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, then cook on high for 3-5 hours (just depends). Not terribly sweet, and yet not incredibly tart either. Seriously, it's golden and beautiful - will bring a smile to your face!
Applesauce Bread - which I made with my homemade applesauce.
Apple Cobbler Cupcakes - I used a caramel frosting instead of the pumpkin pie, since I didn't want to make pumpkin pie. "Bomber" cupcakes - as my sister would say!
Caramel Apple Jam - it tastes like apple pie filling! SUPER good!

French Bread - Last month I had posted about making apple butter and pear jam, and I made french bread so we could enjoy these new creations with some hot bread. I didn't do a couple of the instructions, like the cutting of the bread or the water in the oven (for some reason didn't read those parts until it was too late), and it still turned out good.
Pear Cupcakes - I used the same caramel frosting as on the apple cobbler cupcakes. I did attempt the frosting the cupcake lady had made, but it was a complete failure. So I found the other one and it's super delicious.
Pumpkin Mudslide Cupcakes - I used apple juice (which I made myself with a steamer) instead of the alcohol. I also needed chocolate syrup to drizzle on top of the frosted cupcakes, which I didn't have on hand, so I made it 10 minutes before I needed to leave with them. I may never buy chocolate syrup again! So good and SO easy to make!
Stuffed French Toast - I used real eggs and real heavy cream, not the substitutes. I had ricotta cheese I needed to use up, so I made this (which is super good with apple butter on them) and  homemade chicken alfredo with angel hair pasta. Needless to say, we were very cheesy that day!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

September Newsletter 2011

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Romans 5:3-5 

 I really love being able to be apart of all that God is doing this year on Fort Lewis campus!  I love the fact that even though I get limited involvement God continues to push me to become the man He wants me to be!  It has really set a fire under our butt in wanting to be on campus full time.
This weekend we got the chance to go to the first retreat of the year.  It was an amazing time!  The main theme of the retreat was having an eternal mindset.  Leah, Nate and Erin all gave really good talks challenging everyone to live this life for Christ and not of the world.  This weekend was a good reminder of what we are missing by not being up on campus full time.
Being on the outside looking in to what is happening this year has been a learning experience of it’s own.  I have learned to be patient and content with what God has given me, while at the same time striving for more of Him.  He has also taught me that this truly is God’s ministry that we get to be a part of, not our ministry that God gets to show up in.  Too often I find myself telling God, “I got this”, only to realize later that I have nothing and HE is everything!  I can’t wait to be more involved with what God is doing in these student’s lives.

Ecclesiastes 3:11

What a great 1st month of ministry! With over 200 new students to follow up with, and more people being added every week – the staff are busy!! We keep being told of these amazing stories of students investigating God, being challenged in their walk, taking steps of faith… I mean, you really can’t ask for a better year than this!
Though there are many stories, this most recent one is very exciting. A girl came to our retreat this weekend as a skeptic of Christianity. A new guy in our ministry invited her as they were talking in a class, and she decided to come check out what Christianity is all about.  She was very attentive during the talks, asked good questions during discussion, and we even saw her read a bible during quiet times! She not only fully enjoyed her time this weekend – remarking on how nice everyone was – she also came to our weekly meeting!
Please pray for her!! God is definitely doing something in her life, and we’re praying that she will start a relationship with Jesus very soon!!

James 1:17-18

Though the rest of the staff are hustling and bustling in ministry, we have had very little participation. We’ve had the opportunity to join in on the retreat, girl’s/guy’s nights, and some weekly events, but, all in all, we don’t get to do much.
We wish we could tell you we’re busy in appointments to tell people about our ministry, but we haven’t had that chance either. But God has been absolutely MIND-BLOWING this past month! Though we haven’t had the opportunity to do much, God has come through HUGE by bringing in funds from seemingly nowhere! And we give Him all the praise for bringing us to  82.7% of our total goal!!
Thank you thank you thank you for ALL your prayers this past month! We know you may not be able to witness these things happening on campus or in our lives, but we definitely see the fruit of your prayers. So KEEP IT UP!!

Prayer Requests


-       Pray for all the students who are new. Pray that, if they haven’t heard the Gospel yet, that they will soon. And, if they know God, that they will keep in fellowship with God and other Christians. Pray for their overall walks with God!
-       Pray for our student leaders that they may keep their focus on God and reaching others, rather than on frivolous things that don’t matter. Pray that they will continue to step out in faith and watch God come through for them!
-       Pray for us as we get ready to leave for Paonia, CO (Leah’s hometown), very soon. Pray for our marriage and our time their, as well as the rest of the funds we need to come in so we can dive into ministry full-time!

Pictures from the Past Month

A VERY Packed House for Dinner

Having Fun at the Girl's Retreat

Fall Retreat

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


If you had to wear one, white t-shirt for your entire life – that grew with you and you couldn’t remove – could you keep it clean for your whole life? If you answered yes, I beg to differ.
I have this one white shirt, that I don’t even wear that often, that I try to keep extremely white. I spray stain remover in the armpits and every place I dribble coffee on it (because it never fails I dribble) at every cleaning. It’s becoming progressively harder to keep it clean and white.

I'm impressed with people who can keep their clothes clean for one full day! I was just looking at some wedding pictures, and how clean and white my dress looked. Now when I look at the bottom of my dress, it looks more like a gray/tan color than white. And I only wore it for one day!
This is how we are with sin. We can try (or not try) to be good people, but we naturally screw up. Just like it is impossible to keep a white shirt perfectly white for our entire lives, it is impossible to go our entire lives without sinning.
Sorry if you thought you were saved by good your deeds. Isaiah 64:6, Romans 3, and pretty much the entire bible says otherwise.
But that’s why Jesus is SO AMAZING! Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” He died and gave us eternal life. He gave us a whole new white, stain resistant shirt. Knowing this, I have one question:
Are you still living to keep your shirt clean, or for the one who gave you the clean shirt so you can truly live?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Consider it Pure Joy

I'm SO excited this year to be a part of a bible study outside of Master Plan! Don't get me wrong, I LOVE LOVE LOVE our bible studies with college students. But this year God has given me the opportunity to branch out and get more involved with more of our church body. So far it's been a wonderful part of my week! I love knowing I get to hangout with women of all ages and dig into God's Word together at least once a week.

We're beginning the year with a study through James. So far we're only have way through the first chapter, but I'm amazed by how much God has wanted to reiterate to me (go figure!). James 1:2-4 says, 

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

When first reading through this, I thought God was wanting me to study this to heal me from my hard semester last year (long story, but I had a rough time with multiple things). But, just like every time I assume something of God, He's been showing me how it's not just for healing and reassurance, but for RIGHT here and RIGHT now!

Yesterday, I got a call from my stepmom telling me that my dad was in the hospital. Not exactly the most encouraging and uplifting way to start your day. My first reaction was to worry and start thinking of worst case scenarios (something I tend to jump to), but then bible study popped into my mind, and God's Words rang in my ears "consider it pure joy... when you face trials of many kinds..."

"Ahhhh... I see what you're doing here, God!" I thought to myself. "Alright then. Thank you for taking the time to make me more mature and complete. Help me to trust you today with this circumstance."

I spent the rest of the day baking, since every time I would sit, I would want to stew and worry - my natural tendencies to not trust God in situations, which He tells us not to do for almost an entire chapter. So I kept moving, kept praying for anyone and anything that came to mind - which Dad came to mind a LOT - and I kept singing praise to God.

By the end of the day, when I got to actually talk to my dad, I couldn't help but think, "Gosh, I can't believe I spent the day not freaking out. If I was doing this in my own power, today wouldn't have happened!" So I just wanted to post and thank God for being AMAZING!! I'm so thankful I have eternal life in Him, and that I have Him living in me so I can do all things these things that are impossible on our own (Philippians 4:13).

Dad texted me this morning to tell me he got liquid breakfast this morning (food means improvement), and hoping for solid food and home today. So if you could keep him in your prayers, that would be wonderful. =)

My goal today is to work on our newsletter, so you can hear all about what's been happening in the lives of the Hillewaerts (cause we are ever so exciting...), but more importantly hear about what God is doing in and through students at Fort Lewis College! Until then....


I LOVE finding and sharing recipes! So here is all of what I made yesterday:

Apple butter in the Crock Pot (Started the night before)
Roasted Pear (which I kind of followed this recipe for what I had in my cupboard, and roasted the night before) and other-such-things-I-threw-in frozen yogurt (this whole thing turned out good, but didn't really have a set recipe. If you're interested in what I used, just ask and I'll tell you what kind of things I used.)
"Plum-kissed" pear jam (I got the idea from this link, but ended up following the instructions on the instant pectin I got from the store)
Pumpkin Spice syrup for lattes and such - which my friend, Angi, first made - you should read her blog about it!
Spanish Rice for couple's night potluck - I followed the first review suggestions