Monthly Archives: August 2020

Soggy Steak and Charred Brick


I have a meat guy.

During the early days of the stay-at-home order when grocery store beef was limited, my friend told me about getting her beef from a local butcher. I decided to try it and picked up a few pounds of ground beef, four chicken breasts, and two gigantic sirloins. I asked the guy in charge if he had any good tips on grilling steak, as I have never had any good luck with it.

Without saying anything, he walked over to a desk and got out a pad of paper and a pen and started drawing a grid to represent the grill. He told me to turn the heat up on high and let it get super hot, then put the steaks on the grill letting them get beautiful sear marks for 90 seconds, then turn the steaks 180 degrees and leave them for another 90 seconds, then flip them and grill for 90 seconds, turn 180 degrees and grill for 90 seconds, then turn the heat down to medium and leave it for 4 ½ minutes. Tada – Perfect steak. I tried it exactly his way, using my phone timer and complete focus. It turned out fantastic! So I went back to my meat guy and bought a few more steaks. My confidence was pretty high.

I went outside to get these steaks going. The first two rotations went well, and I was feeling strong. Then I noticed flames peeping up higher and higher. This would have scared me in the past, but felt like a professional at this point. I wasn’t worried. I thought Shawn would be coming out soon and he could confirm that it was normal. So when I heard him come through the dining room, in a voice as casual as if I was asking if he had seen anything good on TV lately, I said, “Is this too much fire?” He rounded the corner at that time – “YES!” – and ran over to the water hose to rescue our home. 

After I saw his reaction, I did notice that the flame was shooting up against the brick of our house. Shawn was rapidly screwing the hose to the spigot, because it was February and we hadn’t had to do that yet. All the while, the flames were inching closer to the eaves of our house. He got the water going and got the flames under control, then handed the hose over to me to continue drenching my ribeyes while he ran up to the attic to see if anything had caught fire inside.

Thankfully, it had not. But there definitely was damage. The eaves ended up needing to be replaced and there is a blackened reminder of the incident covering the brick wall.

The thing that surprised both of us is how unaware I was of this scary situation. I have screamed over many lesser things, but this one I did not see coming. I thought everything was fine.

It bears a striking resemblance to a time I thought I was fine before. While there weren’t literal flames, there were definitely indicators that I was crossing boundaries that weren’t safe. There were lines that I scooched closer and closer to until I was too far in. I didn’t see it coming.

Hindsight is 20/20, and I am well aware now of things that should have been indicators for me to make changes and go a different direction. I wish I would have seen it more clearly then. The thing is though, right in the middle of sin it is easy to make excuses that even you believe.

If you are in the middle of anything that you feel in your heart might be a bad idea, and your first instinct is to look for a reason why it is really okay, can I offer a couple of suggestions? First, pray about it. The kind of prayer where you also spend some time listening for an answer. Secondly, talk to someone you trust and who loves God. It just might give you a new perspective and save you any damage you might be heading toward.

Father, thank You for the Holy Spirit. Help me to learn His voice, to listen well, and to follow completely.

Psalm 19:14 ESV

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

The Importance of Waiting


Packets of wildflower seeds had made their way into my home, unaware of what they were in for. All of them had been given to me at one time or another and I was determined this time to let them live out their purpose and create some extra beauty in our world.

I carefully scooped the soil out of the bag from Home Depot and into each of the 50 spots in our seed-starter tray. I nestled each seed into the cool, damp dirt hoping each one was comfy cozy as they started off on their journey. Each day, I checked the tray for progress. Each day I proudly announced the count of how many plant babies we were watching grow.

It amazed me. A few hours would pass and I noticed how some were already taller than they were earlier in the day, or I would see a new plant baby that seemed to appear out of nowhere. They grow up so fast.

The final count was 36 plant babies! I checked the directions to see what next step needed to be taken for these beauties. I decided it was time for some sunshine in the real outdoors. Technically the directions said they should get direct sunlight from inside and after they were strong enough, gradually putting them outside would help to harden them. I figured it had been long enough.

The day wasn’t super hot, but it was super sunny. I set the tray on our uncovered patio table and we left home for a few hours that day. When we made it back, I was heartbroken. My 36 plant babies were limp and scraggly. The soil was parched. I had fried my darlings.

It turns out they weren’t ready for what I had been sure they could handle. I guess it is possible for me to be wrong. It’s just so hard to wait.

Waiting has a purpose. For my seedlings, they needed to develop strength; waiting would have helped that. That might be the purpose in my waiting as well.

There are things I feel God leading me toward, and sometimes I want to make it happen immediately, without listening for God’s answer about whether I am ready for it or not. But sometimes He makes me wait.

If you are like me and struggling with waiting, whether it’s waiting for things to get back to normal, or waiting for your next step in what God’s calling you to do, let’s agree to use our time for good. Waiting can help us strengthen our relationship with Him. Spending extra time with Him in prayer, reading about Him in Scripture, paying attention to the ways He shows us He is still listening to us and wanting what’s best for us, and looking for the opportunities He does send our way right now are all ways we can grow stronger in our faith.

I don’t want the hopes and dreams God has put on our hearts to end up dry and destroyed due to our impatience. Let’s trust His timing. We can wait.  

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength…” Isaiah 40:31 (ESV)

A Few Tips During an Upside-Down Time


It’s kind of unsettling out there.

Things feel out of balance and we want the world to have a V8 and for everything to go back to normal.

I wish I had a cute, anecdotal story to simplify what is happening in the world right now, but I don’t. Like you, I have been watching the news conferences and reading the articles and seeing the images of crowded clinics and makeshift morgues.

While the coronavirus hasn’t hit our county at the time of writing this, so many changes have. People without jobs, healthcare workers overwhelmed, and people separated at times when they need each other most. My heart is breaking for them, and a little on edge for what may come.

But I have hope.                                      

My hope isn’t that I won’t become sick or that death will not come to anyone I love. Naturally I want those things, but my hope lies in the fact that our God doesn’t leave us. If I become sick, He is there. If someone I care deeply about is taken from this world, His peace comforts me in unexplainable ways. I’ve experienced that peace. He provides and is so very faithful.

In Scripture, there are loads of times where people suffered some tough situations, and while the circumstances were different, one thing was constant.

God never left His people.

This doesn’t mean He always fixes it the way we prefer, but He is the Parent. He knows best.

Our God is real and He never leaves us. 

I want to offer some tips to help you get through this, in addition to the important “wash your hands and stay home” that we keep hearing.

1.       Ditch any optional thing that increases your stress and anxiety. For me, this has been limiting my news and social media time. Ask God to help you be aware of what it is, and to help you set boundaries.

2.       Count your blessings. List them on your phone, on an old receipt, or in your prayers, but be aware of them and thank God for them. This can keep your mind in a healthy place.

3.       Look for ways to be a blessing. Many local businesses can use the support right now, and charities are more in need than ever. With more time on your hands, call the people you love, or send them a card or write them a letter if phone calls aren’t your thing. Wave to your neighbors from a safe distance. Participate in creative ways to connect.

4.       Spend time with God. This is the most important. Intentional time for prayer and for reading your Bible and for listening and looking for anything He wants to tell you can change everything. 

Pray for people who come to mind, your Sunday School class, our pastors, your pew neighbors. Your neighbor-neighbors. Send a note to someone who means a lot to you. God is good, even when life seems upside down.

“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8

A Tale of Two Kitties

A Tale of Two Kitties

I don’t vacuum as often as I should. I have confessed this before. It’s for a good reason, though: the cats don’t like it. We have two cats and both would prefer I never roll the vacuum out of the laundry room. Their reactions are way different though.

Kanklefritz, the more mature, normally wiser, grey cat, runs and hides as soon as he hears the rolling of the sweeper’s wheels. His most recent place of refuge is behind the couch. He will stay put until we come to tell him that we are finished, and it’s okay to come back out. The only time he will come out on his own is if we are vacuuming in his direction. At that point, he darts out, head down, eyes straight ahead and running at full speed to the other end of the house.

Oreo doesn’t do that. Our quirky black and white soft cat will look at it curiously, and he will come over and sniff it, examine all angles and maybe even climb on top of it. He seems a little nervous but wants to see what he is dealing with.  I wish I was more like Oreo.

This past week, Pastor Marc was talking about having faith even when we are crushed. Discussing it later that evening, someone asked what we have learned from some hard things we might be going through.

I was coming up with nothing. I realized that when I go through a problem, in true Kanklefritz-style, I focus on getting through the situation and miss the opportunities to learn from it. I need to be more like Oreo, paying attention to what’s going on. Being intentional about it can make all the difference.

The more we talked, Sunday evening, I jotted down a list of ways to pay more attention during the hard times:

1.       Run to God first. It’s easy to feel like our first action should be to call a friend or talk to our spouse, and those are both good, but first talk it out with God. Something about that can set our hearts in the right place.

2.       Pray often. Keep it up, every day. Talk to Him. It might feel natural to skip when we have a lot on our minds, but it’s important to be consistent.

3.       Talk to people who love Jesus and have also been through difficult stuff. When you see how God has brought other people through hard times, it builds a strong base for the growth of our faith.

4.       Remind yourself of all the good stuff God has done for you. Make a list. Remember his faithfulness.

5.       Journal – this will help you remember the times you are seeing God in all of it, and the things you are learning from it. It doesn’t have to be fancy; use the back of a receipt or your phone’s notes section but write it down. And when you need a reminder, re-read the things you have written.

6.       Gratitude – make a list of things you are thankful for this very day. This can be a game-changer.

When we are able to focus on God during the hard times, we won’t miss out on the wisdom He has to offer us. I am trying to change my thinking, paying attention, and putting some of these ideas into practice. I have a lot of learning to do.