Abram and Sarai and Marriage and Comfort

I’ve always been enthralled by the story of God calling Abram to leave his home and family and follow God to a place that He would show him. Abram was from the area we now know as Mesopotamia – the land of the nomads. The theological belief of most of the nomadic people was polytheism – the belief in many gods, each of whom controlled a different aspect of the world. It was common practice that if one had a desire – a baby, say – then one would pray to the fertility god and offer gifts and sacrifices to that god. But if one also needed safety for a journey, one would call on the god of travel. This would have been common practice for Abram, his family, and all those with whom he lived in community.

That’s why it has always been so significant to me that when God called Abram to follow Him to a land that He would show him (Genesis 12: 1-2), that Abram recognized the voice of the One True God, turned his back on polytheism, and followed God without knowing where he was going. Amazing faith, right?

But until today, I’d never noticed much about Sarai’s part in Abram’s calling. Read with me from Genesis 12:4-5…

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. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people that they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to the land of Canaan.

God called Abram, and Abram obeyed quickly, without hesitation, submissively, and fully – even when he’d only known a religion of many gods before. Sarai went with Abram supportively, though she’d only had the same religious beliefs before God’s call to Abram. She didn’t command that the LORD also speak to her; it was enough for her that He’d spoken to Abram. I love Matthew Henry’s commentary on this, “If Abram leave all to follow God, Sarai will leave all to follow Abram. And it was a mercy to Abram. It is very comfortable when husband and wife agree to go together in the way to heaven.”

Abram walks so closely with God that Sarai is able to trust his judgement, even when it doesn’t make sense to her. What a beautiful picture of a wife who honors her husband, and in so doing honors God!

Best Posts of 2016

Best Posts of 2016 from TheHillHangout.com

A new year has come, and we have lots of new things planned for The Hill Hangout in 2017. However, before we say goodbye to 2016, let’s take one more look at your favorite posts from last year. Thank you for reading, sharing, cooking, praying, and everything else you do for our little community here at The Hill Hangout. You are a blessing to me. And now, I give you the Best Posts of 2016…

10. I’ve been writing about homeschooling for a long time, but you don’t have to homeschool to be interested in our Journal Prompts.

Best Posts of 2016 from TheHillHangout.com

9. We use Creole Seasoning in lots of dishes, and you all do too!

Best Posts of 2016 from TheHillHangout.com

8. This is one of my favorite resources I’ve ever posted. Each year when school time rolls around, it is an honor to join you in Back-to-School Prayers.

Best Posts of 2016 from TheHillHangout.com

7. My readers are a spicy bunch (you can take that however you want!), so I’m not surprised to see Creole Pinto Beans and Sausage make the list.

Best Posts of 2016 from TheHillHangout.com

6. This one cracks me up! I did a post about 5 years ago about taking my daughter to camp. Someone pinned it onto Pinterest because they liked the games we played, and it went viral. So if you need game ideas for groups of kids, check out Camp Worldsong.

Best Posts of 2016 from TheHillHangout.com

5. You guys sure do love homemade seasonings! Greek Seasoning is one my faves, and apparently you all love it as well!

Best Posts of 2016 from TheHillHangout.com

4. There is not a better combo than precious kids and God’s Word! I’m not surprised that y’all made Memory Verses for Little Hearts a spot in the top ten!

Best Posts of 2016 from TheHillHangout.com

3. What would a southern food blog be without a cornbread recipe in the top 10? Y’all love some Loaded Cornbread!

Best Posts of 2016 from TheHillHangout.com

2. I love people that love a good sauce, and I love you all for loving my Creamy Sriracha Dipping Sauce!

Best Posts of 2016 from TheHillHangout.com

1. Always my #1 post – Our Miracle Treatment for Eczema

Best Posts of 2016 from TheHillHangout.com

A Prayer for Our Government

On this Super Tuesday, a prayer from the Lutheran Book of Prayer:

“Lord God, as I pray for all who are in authority, I thank you especially for the form of government given us in our beloved country. Give me the grace with my fellow citizens to value the officers and the magistrates of our government as those sent by You. Instill in me that honor and respect that is due them. Lord, endow them with wisdom for their several duties, with a spirit of sacrifice for the common welfare, with mercy and justice, with uprightness and kindliness. Correct the evils of selfishness, greed, a vain desire for honor, or abuse of power among us as well as in other governments of the world. Grant that the true purposes of government will prevail, safeguarding peace and prosperity, so that we may live soberly and uprightly in Your sight and have opportunity to tell of You and Your kingdom. These petitions I direct to You because in Jesus I know You as my Father and Lord. Amen.”

Prayer for the New Year

Prayer for the New Year from THeHillHangout.com

One of my favorite prayer resources is The Lutheran Book Of Prayer (affiliate link). Though I am not Lutheran, I have prayed many prayers from this little book. It has prayers for specific days of the week, holidays, life events like the birth of a baby or a new home, as well as prayers for specific people like pastors, children, spouse, or world leaders. As 2016 is just beginning, it is timely to share with you their prayer for a new year.

It is on account of Your mercy alone, O Lord, that I am not consumed, because Your compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. Abide with me, O God, throughout the coming year. Be my guide in all my perplexities, my strength in my weakness, my ever-ready help in all my troubles.

Forgive me all my sins. O Sabaoth Lord, look down from heaven and in grace behold and visit Your holy Church, which You have chosen for Your own. Preserve for us Your saving Word and Sacraments, that Your vine may send out its boughs from sea to sea and its branches to the uttermost parts of the earth.

Look graciously upon our nation and all the nations of the world, and bless them with peace. Grant to all that are in authority wisdom and courage to rule in such a way that we may lead a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and honesty.

To You, almighty Creator and gracious God, I commit this nation, my church, my family and loved ones, and myself. Abide with me. With Your grace and mercy preserve me whole—soul and body—blameless to the coming of my Lord Jesus Christ.

I pray 2016 brings you much joy, peace, and love, my dear readers.

Declare Conference

Declare Conference

I predict that last weekend will turn out to be one of the most pivotal times in my life. I spent the weekend with about 125 very wise, godly, master writers at the Declare Conference in Dallas, Texas. It’s a conference for Christian women writers, or “digital evangelists,” as we began to think of ourselves. We heard from the likes of Chrystal Evans Hurst, Janelle Knox, Kris Comely, Kat Lee, and Cari Trotter. Each of these ladies equipped and encouraged us to RUN with urgency and passion the race that God has set us on, to bring His message to the world.

I left so ready to write and beg you to gather your people around the table (literally or figuratively) and love on them and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them and bear their burdens and celebrate their joys because we HAVE to do this thing together if we’re going to do it at all. And please, for the love, invite other people to gather around your table, too. Everybody doesn’t have the home life you have. Everybody doesn’t have the wisdom that God has given you. Everybody doesn’t have the stable family or the financial blessing or the tight relationships you do.

But they can.

They can if they are shown how. And it’s our job to show them how because how will they know unless they are told?

So I left the Declare Inference with a renewed vision for The Hill Hangout. The tone of the conference was writers speaking to writers about the importance of writing. However, many of the comments apply to anyone in any field that God has called them to, so I thought I’d share with you here in case you are needing a little encouragement in your calling. After all, don’t these ladies look like they have some very important messages for you?

Declare Conference

Kris Camealy, developer of Grace Table, challenged us to build altars instead of platforms. I don’t know about you, but I have definitely fallen into the trap of doing things for my own gain (building a platform) instead of laying my desires before God and asking Him to give me His vision instead (building altars). I have been guilty of presenting MY plans to God and asking Him to bless them, when I should have been asking Him for His plans. Friends, He has much better plans than we could ever create in our own strength and wisdom. His plans are able to minister to more, reach more, and bless more than anything we build on our own. Whether we are talking about a career, a set of expectations, a marriage, motherhood, or WHATEVER, please let Him form that instead of going it alone.

Declare Conference

Another of Kris’s challenges to us was that no matter what field of work we are in, we are called to make disciples. If we are writers, we are called to make disciples through our writing. If we are mothers, we are called to make disciples of our children. If we are teachers, nurses, dentists, chefs, librarians, social media consultants, botanists, or photographers, we are to make disciples. God has put you in the job you are in for His purpose, and even if you can’t outright evangelize at work, He wants you to use that position for His kingdom.

At the next session, Janelle Knox, who runs MICI Magazine, spoke life to us about comparisons. You know what I’m talking about, right? You hop onto Facebook feeling fine, and within a few minutes you are feeling like your life doesn’t measure up. Your kids aren’t dressed well enough. Your vacation wasn’t adventurous enough. Your husband isn’t progressing in his career like so-and-so’s. You’d think that by the time we are adults, we’d stop this nonsense. And yet…

Declare Conference

Janelle reminded us, “The world is always telling us who we aren’t. God is telling us who we are.” If you look to be satisfied with the things of the world, we will never have enough. But if you look at who you are and what you have received in Christ Jesus, you will know true, lasting satisfaction. You can have all the material things in the world, and they can serve to be merely a distraction from relying on the fullness of Christ in you. If we truly grabbed hold of the power of the Holy Spirit within us and the relationship we have with God because of Jesus, the Enemy would have no power against us.

Sisters, it’s time to realize that our salvation has come through Christ, and HE HAS MADE US ENOUGH. Let’s stop telling Him that He hasn’t done enough for us by comparing ourselves to other people. I loved what Janelle had to say about this: “When we feel like we aren’t enough, God isn’t buying it. He made us with depth, color, texture, and creativity. He is pleased with who we are because He created us that way.”

Christian women’s conferences like the Declare Conference have been a huge part of my Christian walk. I have had some of the most defining moments as a result of gathering with other Christian women who believe like I do and want to do a life of ministry like I do. I love pulling up to the table with them and hearing how they walk out their faith in the many roles women have to play. And THAT is why I invite you to the table at The Hill Hangout every week (ok, so it’s been less often lately). I want you to pull up a seat right next to us so that we can journey together, pulling each other into the presence and ministry of Christ. And then I want you to turn around and pull people up to your table and do the same.

A HUGE thank you to Courtney at CocoPaige Photography for the gorgeous photos!

Godly Mentors

Godly Mentors

Titus 2 has been on my heart a lot lately, and I wonder if the ideas laid out there might resonate with you, too. In this passage, Paul writes to Titus, whom Paul has sort of adopted as a son in the Christian faith. Paul gives Titus all sorts of life lessons in this book, but I want to zero in on his writing in chapter 2, verses 3-5:

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.”

Now, you’re a lucky gal if God has gifted you with one woman in your life that can mentor all of those things for you. If so, let me know when she takes on new proteges, because I’m signing up! However, if you’re like me, God has given you a scattering of women who each have their own way of mentoring, one in one area and someone else in another. And, at least in my life, the command above to “older” women hasn’t meant as much someone decades older than me, but rather someone just a few years ahead of me in the journey.

I have the friend that is more studied and wiser in God’s word than me that is constantly teaching me new ways of letting scripture guide my life. I have quite a few Godly friends whose children are just a few years older then mine that help guide and prepare me for the years ahead, giving hope and the occasional warning. I have friends whose marriages are a few steps farther along than ours, and they are a valuable source of insight and inspiration and they give us something to aspire to. I have people who have been writing and ministering to women a little longer than me, and they are so generous to answer questions and show me the ropes.

There are also areas where I need to seek out mentors. I can name a couple of areas where I don’t really have a good model to follow, and my wisdom in those areas suffers because of it. I’m praying God will lead me to people who can show the way clearly.

Do you have people in your life that serve as mentors, even if they don’t do so in any formal capacity? Are there spaces where you need to pray for and seek out someone who is just ahead of you to help you navigate? In which friendships are you the mentor, paving the way for those coming behind you? In what ways do you need to be more intentional about sharing your experiences with women who are just a few steps behind you?

Jesus, the Founder and Perfecter of Our Faith


“…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

With the winds of Good Friday blowing through my thoughts today, my eyes are turned to the cross. The cross, that most brutal and shameful of death instruments, became beautiful and redeeming. It was there that our perfect savior literally became sin for us so that we might become children of God.

Sin is ugly, destructive, and leads to death. It is hard to think about and even harder to admit, but our sin separates us so far from a holy God that nothing we can do or say is powerful enough or pure enough to reconcile us to Him. Our best efforts to save ourselves fall much too short. We need someone to bridge the gap, someone who can bring us to God and speak on our behalf and plead our case. We need a Savior.

In sacrificing Himself on the cross for us, Jesus became our Redeemer. He became that good and perfect sacrifice which paid our sin debt and gave us another chance with God our Father. It doesn’t make sense, really. And I’m continually confused and amazed and almost unbelieving that He would do it for a sinner like me. And yet, in His great love, He walked the road to Calvary, struggling under the weight of the cross and the sin that He carried. And He gave His life to purchase mine.

He became the founder of my faith.

It is too good to imagine, and yet it is Truth. And what’s more, He didn’t leave it at that. He knew that in my weakness I would fall away. Though He gave His life for me, I would choose to let other idols slip into my focus. He knew that I would be just like Israel, following one day and turning away the next. I would vow my devotion to Him, but continually be caught up in the things of the world. He knew that He would have to sustain me.

He became the perfecter of my faith.

The absolute relief that comes from His sacrifice is that none of it is about me. My salvation comes from His work, and His alone. He reached out to me and made me His own when I could not and would not have come to Him on my own. And He does it again and again as I go through life.

My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ the solid rock I stand.
All other ground is sinking sand.

Most Popular Posts of 2014

Best of 2014 collage

2014 has been a terrific year around the Hill Hangout! We have had more readers this year than in any other previous year since 2007, when we started posting a few pictures for our out-of-town family to see. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for hanging out with us. I feel that I have found MY people – the ones who love the Lord, love their families, love good food, love to fix things that are broken down, and love to explore new places. My top ten posts from 2014 reflect just that! I hope you’ll stick around for 2015.

10. Yum Yum Sauce

Yum Yum Sauce

9. The Best Homemade And Killer

Ant Killer

8. The Magic of Chalk Paint

Green Caneback Chairs

7. Mudslide Pie

Mudslide Pie

6. Summer Art Projects


5. Back to School Prayers

Back to school

4. Greek Seasoning

Greek Seasoning

3. Creamy Sriracha Dipping Sauce


2. Loaded Cornbread

Loaded Cornbread

1. Miracle Treatment for Eczema

alt="home remedy for eczema"

A Prayer for Advent

Today is the first Sunday in Advent, the season of preparing our hearts for the coming of the Christ child. I love this prayer from the Lutheran Book of Prayer:

O Lord Jesus Christ, King of glory, King of kings and Lord of lords, the Son of the Living God and Son of David, come. Come now to Your Church that You have purchased with Your blood. Come with Your gracious presence, that we may rejoice in You. Come and rule over us, that we may serve and follow You. Come with Your love, humility, and perfect obedience, and let Your lowliness become our glory. Come in the midst of Your people and bless us, for we are Your heritage. Forgive us our sins, and do not angrily cast away Your servants, for You are meek and gracious. Clothe us with the garment of Your righteousness, for You are the only righteous one and our helper. Satisfy us with the abundance of Your mercy, for You did become poor for our sakes, that by Your poverty we might be made rich. Hear us, Lord Jesus, for the sake of Your holy name. Amen.

Come, Lord Jesus.

Small Town America

Whenever we travel, I always enjoy getting off the interstate and taking the highways. You can see so much of small town America on the back roads that you miss when you take the quick and easy routes. It’s usually worth the time and effort it takes to travel lesser known roads because you get to see and experience the culture and flavor of the regions that make up our great country. God has made each part of our country to have its own unique personality, and we see so much of Him when we take time to enjoy other cultures.

We came home from Orlando through south Georgia, and its was all back roads for us! Here are a few of the local sights we would have missed if we hadn’t ventured off:

Small Town America

Magnolia Plantation has everything you need to feel like you’ve been through south Georgia! They are known for Vidalia onions, so the pepper sauce is abundant.

Small Town America

I don’t know Pappy, but I bet he makes a good White Lightnin’ sauce!

Small Town America

And who doesn’t need a pair of hot oink baby Minnetonka moccasins!?! Aren’t these the cutest thing you’ve ever seen? Too bad my girls are too big for these!

Small Town America

Whether you’re a fan of GooGoo Clusters, salt water taffy, peanut brittle, or divinity, you can find it in south Georgia!

Small Town America

Sure, there’s the obligatory kitch like flamingo oil paintings and I heart Georgia shot glasses…

Small Town America

And you haven’t lived until you’ve had a cold Coke from the little green bottle!

Small Town America

After a few minutes at Magnolia Plantation, we scurried up the road to Carroll’s Sausage and Meats.

Small Town America

Not only do they sell the best hand crafted rockers (which I’m regretting my decision to leave behind!)…

Small Town America

But the meat selection is our kind of deal. We left $49 poorer, but with next week’s breakfasts planned.

Small Town America

The Big Guy was in his element choosing our smoked sausage, jerky, and hot breakfast sausage.

And we would have missed a real spectacle with these cotton fields, bursting with white. I so wish I’d had a pair of clippers to stop and snip a few branches. Do you think the farmer would have minded?

Small Town America

I’ve never regretted taking the long way home. We have had the opportunity to see so much more of what makes life have texture and purpose by taking the road less traveled. And you can take that as literally or as figuratively as you’d like.