For a few very hard years this word was my mantra.
The word means
-undismayed; not discouraged; not forced to abandon purpose or effort
-undiminished in courage or valor; not giving way to fear
But the truth is, I was often dismayed by everything that had taken place, and I did battle discouragement. I battled fear and doubts. I hurt and was angry, and sometimes "undaunted" sounded more like a mockery than a mantra, and I was determined to be real about all of it in these posts, thus the name, Undaunted Reality. More than that, though, I was determined to live undaunted, not because I'm so great or strong, but because my God is, and no matter what this world looks like, He is the only reality that matters.
I pray I live the reality of Him beautifully undaunted.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Sopapilla Cheesecake

Nope. No joke here. This is one of my favorite desserts, and so easy to make. Our friends The Jordans invited us over for lunch one day and shared this wondrous piece of sugar decadence. We've loved it since.

Sopapilla Cheesecake

2 (8 oz) packages sour cream
1 cup white sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 (8oz) cans of refrigerated crescent rolls
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup honey

Preheat oven to 350.
Prepare a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray

Beat the cream cheese with the 1 cup sugar and vanilla until smooth

Unroll the crescent rolls and use a rolling pin to shape it into a 9x13 rectangle (sometimes I just my fingers to flatten it and move it around).
Press one piece into the bottom of the pan.
Evenly spread the sugar and cream cheese mixture over that.
Cover it with the second piece of crescent dough.
Mix together your 3/4 c sugar, cinnamon, and butter (for those who don't know, if you cut the butter into small pieces, it mixes easier).
Drop the new mixture by dotted spoonful onto the top layer of crescent rolls. (It really smoozes all over the place by itself).

Bake in the over until the dough has puffed and turned golden brown, about 30 minutes.
Take it out of the over and drizzle it with your honey. Let it cool completely, otherwise it smoozes all over the place. I confess, though. Ours never "cool completely" because it is SO GOOD when it is warm, but I do let it cool so it is solid and stable.

The recipe says you can cut it into 12 inch squares. Do what works for you, but know, this is serious sugar, so you might to start small and work yourself into a sugar sickness. Just a thought.

Hope you enjoy!

Dancing The Rumb-Ball

Okay, so the pun is bad, but the rum balls are good.

Rum Ball
2 pounds of powdered sugar
1 stick of butter
8 T rum (or to taste)
Nuts (optional)
chocolate chips or chocolate squares

Put everything into a bowl and mix it up.
When you finger test the mix and it is as rummy as you like, put it in the fridge to let it chill.
Once it is chilled, make it into 1 inch balls. (chill them again because the butter gets them soft again)
While they are chilling the second time, melt chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave.
Put wax paper down on a cookie sheet or on the counter. I tend to put them on a cookie sheet so I can put them back in the fridge and cool them faster.
Once the chocolate is melted, quickly dip the balls into the chocolate, take them out, and sit them on the wax paper where they cool.
Like I said, I pop mine back in the fridge for a bit because the butter can go soft at room temp, especially with the warmth from the chocolate. Once it is cooled, they stabilize well.

Hope you enjoy!

Having a Sausage Ball!

I love  the holidays for the simple reason I love to bake and cook certain foods. Today I am doing a bit of cooking for our volunteer fire department. Nothing fancy, but I thought I'd share some recipes in case anyone wants some ideas.

Sausage Balls
 5 lbs sausage
3 c Bisquick
4 c Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 325.

Use parchment paper to cover baking sheets.
Dump everything into a bowl and squish it with your hands until it is all a squishing mush.
Make 1-1 1/2 in balls and place them 2 or so inches apart on the prepared sheet.
Bake 18 minutes.

Mine come out with a crunchy outside. If you want a softer outside, dropped the temp a bit and cook a bit longer.

Makes about 5 dozen, depending on the size of the ball.


Monday, November 16, 2015

I'll Pray for You When Life is Hard, But You Need to Know...

I need you to know something.

When my kids were little, their dad and I bought them the toys for older kids. We read them the books that were "above their age level". We always gave them room to do more than they could. Sometimes that was hard. For them and us. Sometimes they screamed and cried with frustration. Sometimes I did. At least until they got it. We weren't cruel. We were parents who expected our kids to grow, develop, and mature. We expected them to eventually get it, whatever it was. We didn't take things away because they were hard. We waited because we knew our kids would rise to the challenge. They always did.

People contact me often to ask me to pray for God to remove the latest challenge dumped into their lap. Usually, that is something at work. Sometimes it is a relationship they cannot escape. A lot of time it is a life event that is just hard. I need you to know. YOU need to know. If you contact me and ask me to pray you out of those things, I won't.
I will pray for you to mature.
I will pray for you to grow in strength, character, and faith.
I will pray for you to have the mind of Christ to see it how you need to see it and to see your self as you need to see yourself.
I will pray for God to show you how you are the problem. I will pray for you to change so that you can overcome whatever it is.
I will pray for you to become more like Christ, but I will not enable you to stay stunted in your Christian walk by praying away your chance to grow. As a pastor, as a friend, as a sister in Christ, I cannot in good conscience do that. BUT, while you are growing, I'm with you. My heart and prayers are constantly for you.

I realize a lot of you will never want me to pray for you again. I understand. I've been there, but if you do, I'm here.


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

It's Not Really About Sex...But It Is

In July 2014, I received the call no woman wants to receive. “We need to see you back in two days so we can get a better idea of what this is.”

When I got off the phone, I did some drill sergeant self-talk via texting a friend of mine. As soon as he was off work, he called. “So what happened? You’re obviously not okay.”

“They found two spots on my mammogram.” Saying the words nearly knocked me to my knees.

He didn’t miss a beat. “So are they in one boob? One in each boob? Just how many boobs are involved here, Jerri?”

I burst out laughing. “Just one.”

“Okay, so you get a boob job done on the other one, and you’ll have the same size boobs. Of course, then men will know they are fake because no woman naturally has the same size boobs.”

I had to laugh again. “Really? You’re already thinking the worst?”

“Same size boobs? I mean, if the worst thing that happens is you get the same size boobs, is that so bad?”

I laughed again, and then silence settled between us, and he became very serious. “Jerri, my point is it’s a boob. It isn’t the core of who you are.”

He was right, and I was (and still am) infinitely thankful for the way he handled it, the things he said, and the things he didn’t have to say.

“Jerri, you are not your body or a piece of your body, and whatever happens, you are still fine.”

Except, it didn’t feel fine.

At first, I was just pissed. We had gone through so much, and I finally felt like we might be coming out the other side of the devastation. Surely God would not throw cancer in the mix. Except He might. And hadn’t we endured enough? But then, there are people who endure far worse and far more. Frankly, I think cancer is more than anyone should endure, but I don’t know why some people get such heavy loads and some folks don’t and…oh, holy God…

Then I wondered how the kids and I would handle things if I had cancer. How would we handle the treatments, doctors, and everything else?

And what if all the worst things happened and I died? My kids would be orphans. Could I at least fight through a year until my daughter turned 18 and could take guardianship of my son? Would I have to figure out guardianship?

That night I stood in front of the mirror and looked at my post-babies, middle age body with its stretch marks and all the insecurities I already had as a single woman wondering if any man would ever find me attractive again, and what happened if I had to have a breast removed? Would a man want me then? Shallow? Maybe, but it’s honest. I wondered how it would affect my sex life…or if I’d even have another one. I wondered how it would affect my enjoyment of sex and if I could ever really be comfortable naked in front of a man again. I wondered what a lot of people wonder that no one ever talks about.

My friend was right. It is just a boob. Except, it’s not. No, the core of me wouldn’t change, but the effect…it would hit every part of me, and I wondered how my life would change—my family life, my social life, my personal life…the way I saw myself, the way others saw me. And I wondered if it everything would change beyond my ability to be okay again.

I don’t know.

As it turned out, the 3D mammogram showed nothing to worry about, and life went on as usual.

So, why am I telling you this? Because even though there was no cancer, it changed some things for me. It changed the way I see getting tested. I understand why women avoid their mammograms, and I don’t think it is so much because of the 50-second super snug boob hug. I think it is the same reason men avoid getting tested for things like testicular cancer.

Because while it is just a boob or just a "ball", it isn’t. Our sexuality is involved, and that is part of our core, and honestly, the idea of losing that is scary as hell. Some folks may think that is shallow, but it’s human.

So what great words of comfort do I have? It’s life. Do what you need to do. Get the test done.

Yes, it’s awkward. No one likes it, but really, it only takes seconds. You’ll spend more time dreading it than actually having the test. In fact, you’ll spend more time on paperwork than getting the test.

I could throw out a slew of statistics to you, but if you are me, those things make you hide in a shell. So, let’s be realistic. A test may find something. If it does, you have to deal with it, but the earlier you start dealing with it, the better your chance of survival, and testicular cancer has a great long term survival rate. But let’s get to the real issue. Sex.

Understandably, men are afraid if they lose one or both testicles, they will be unable to have sex. Good news. That is not true. I’ve done a lot of reading on this for you (because really, who just random reads about these things until we have to?), and if only one testicle is removed, sex should go on as usual. If both are removed, there will be need for hormone replacement therapy, and since there will be no sperm, infertility is an issue, but, you can always save some in a sperm bank. I know. That sounds "weird", but honestly, what an awesome option! And, yeah, I know, there's the deposit thing, but if you get created, that can be a fun adventure, too. Before anyone hyperventilates with the thought of any of the above, let's get back to the real point.
You can still be awesome in bed even if you have to deal with testicular cancer!
Now you may wonder what a woman will think if in the course of playing around, she notices things are a bit different there. I’ll tell you the truth. I’ve never been a woman on that side of things, but, gentlemen, I like to think if I had lost my breast, the man who loves me wouldn’t see a missing breast, but the woman he loves. I would hope he would see me, and I would hope he would be patient as I learned how to see me again, too. I think a woman who loves you is going to see you, and whatever feelings or fears you have, she’ll understand and work through them with you because she will realize you lost a testicle but she didn’t lose you, and that is what matters. Really. That is what honestly matters. YOU are what honestly matters.

To get educated, visit

Now, you may be wondering what led to this post and these thoughts. Well, honestly, an out of the blue email from a man's underwear company asking me if I had considered writing about testicular cancer (and, no, he didn't think I am a man because of my name). Tommy John emailed and asked if I would consider spreading the word about testicular cancer, testing, treatment, and the plan to live a long life. He also said, “I’ll even throw in a deal.”
How is Tommy John helping?
  • We are giving 5% of all sales coming from our limited edition “Mustache and Ball” collection
  • We are contributing $10 for each purchase made by new customers who were referred by someone else
  • We are donating $1 for each entry in our Instagram contest up to $1,000 (more on that below)

What’s in it for your readers?

“Share a pair win a pair” Instagram contest.
To enter, take a picture of any pair of round objects, and tag them on instagram #SupportYourBalls, and follow @TommyJohnWear and @TesticularCancerFoundation for a chance to win a pair of men’s underwear from Tommy John.

I thought he had a good idea.

So, men, get checked. Is it a bit scary? Yeah, but man up and get your pair checked and keep them safe.


Monday, November 2, 2015

When You Can't Do Another Sunday

"I hate Sundays. I can't do another one. I don't know what you can do about it, but really, God, I cannot do another Sunday."

I sobbed out the words as I lay across my bed.

For the previous two months I had been attending mass in hopes of finding some solace and some recognition of holy. I never expected to become Catholic. I didn't expect to convert anyone from Catholicism. I was simply tired of the loud music and the entertainment mindset that seemed to run the churches we had attended the last five years. They were so busy trying to be relevant to the culture that they had become irreverent in their idea of righteousness, so for two months I attended mass where the quiet was solace and the reverence made sense. Then someone referred to me as an outsider, and maybe he meant it as a joke, but he was right. I was an outsider, and I was done.

I wasn't looking for the perfect sermon or the perfect theology or the perfect church. I am not naïve enough to believe such things exist. I was looking for a home, for a place where we could do life with folks, a place where we love the people there and they love us back, a place where we really belong. And I was done looking.

The truth is Sundays have been hard since my husband left and my mom died. I was raised that Sundays are about family, and when I was little, we always went to my grandparents' after church for a big meal. When I got married, my husband and I would go to church and come home, eat pizza or burgers, watch sports, take a nap, go to small group if it was that night, and end the day watching a movie together. When the kids came along, we modified, but Sundays were always about our family and the people we knew at church who joined us for lunch or dinner or attended the small group we were in. Sundays were a type of anchor, a place to belong. No matter what happened during the weekend, Sunday was coming, and you were always safe and always wanted there.

That was long gone.

My parents have both passed on. My marriage ended, and despite trying, the kids and I have not found a church where we feel like family. I've yet to find a small group for singles (and I just cannot do a women's group that focuses on being a better wife or better mother of small kids or a couple's group that focuses on marriage). The kids didn't make friends in the youth. We tried. Invited folks over, offered to host a bonfire and cookout, opened our doors to adult or youth Bible studies but were always told no, and...after five years I finally quit trying, stared into the early morning darkness, and told God I was done. I was done believing in the fairy tale that people with no place to belong could find one if they really tried. I was done believing that I could rebuild the life I really wanted, which included a family beyond the kids and me, even if it wasn't a biological one. I was done. And I was done with Sunday.

And I prayed the craziest prayer. I told the Lord I didn't expect Him to send the cavalry or for anyone to show up at my door. I didn't really expect anything, but my heart was crushed, and He was the only one I knew to really tell, and honestly, I needed Him to do something about Sundays.

The funny thing about God is I pray crazy prayers and He sends crazy answers.

That night my friend Parker called, and I ended up crying into the phone and telling her about Sundays and how hard they are and how I miss my parents, especially my mom, right now, and she said the absolute stupidest thing. She said, "Jerri, you know the weird thing about journeys? They lead you to the most unexpected places."

I was silent because I had no clue what that had to do with anything until she said, "Like my journey. I thought my journey was just to go home, but no. Instead, it has lead me right to the door of this lady's house in the middle of nowhere. Well, not really 'nowhere' but way out of my way."

Then it hit me, "Parker, are you at my door?"

She started to laugh and said, "Yeah, so get off the phone and let me in."

We stood in the doorway while we hugged and I cried. Sometimes God really does send someone right to your door. Sometimes He sends someone who lives two hours away to drive an extra two hours out of the way from her road trip because you need the cavalry.

She ended up staying late, and she told me about her church where she had moved in August. The one that gave her the refrigerator, that offered to help her move, that offered furniture when she was ready, that had adopted her and taken her in as family. I wasn't jealous. I am truly happy for her, but I told the Lord honestly, I would love to experience a church like that. But it is two hours away, and I felt awkward about just showing up, but if Parker ever invited me, I was going to make the drive.

When Parker left last Sunday, the core issue wasn't better, but it really did feel wondrous to know God cared so much that He sent someone on a major detour to plop them at my front door.

This week I prayed about a church, and the kids and I decided to visit one in the area. There were two that caught my eye, both of which had active youth and young adults, and while their women's groups are all about marriage, mothering, and Beth Moore, I was willing to give them a chance.

Then the annoying trick or treat-er came by.

Our porch light was off, a sign we didn't have candy, but they rang the doorbell anyway. We ignored. They rang it again. We ignored. Then they started knocking. Then they started playing with the door handle. That is when I marched to the door, demanded to know who it was, and looked out the peephole. There stood Parker, not in Halloween attire, just standing there on my front porch smiling big.

When I opened the door and asked why she was there, she said, "Because I'm supposed to invite you to church tomorrow."

Yes. She had again driven a few hours to show up at my door. And she was inviting the kids and me to church.

How does one say no to that?

So this morning as the sky started to light up, we piled into the truck and headed to church...two hours away.

We arrived in time for Sunday School, and the lesson was week two of the series, "What It Means to Be a Christian". Last week was on repentance, real repentance, not just showing up at church or saying we are sorry because we are afraid we won't get what we want if we don't, but honest to goodness, realize you are wrong and start following Jesus repentance. This week was about good works because if someone repents, they act like it.

Then there was a time of fellowship with coffee and yummies and a whole lot of talking and hugs and sit and get to know you. My daughter said she couldn't remember the last time she felt so wholly welcome at a church. Me either.

When that was finished, we moved to the sanctuary where we took a seat and were handed a bulletin, and I froze. The verse the Lord has been putting in front of me repeatedly this week graced the front of the bulletin.
I had asked the Lord what delighting in Him looks like. What does really enjoying Him mean?

Then at one point during the week I realized the greatest desire of my heart was simply to delight Him. I know it sounds so Christian-ese, and I can't say that is always my greatest desire, but this week it has been, and I wondered, "In what do you take delight?" I studied different things this week, and I had a better idea of what the verse meant. When He placed the verse in front of me again, I had to smile.

The service as nearly two hours long. Yes. Nearly two hours, and it was a wonderful two hours. We sang beautiful songs of worship. We prayed. We read the Word as a congregation. We worshipped--really worshipped, not just sang and clapped our hands or jumped up and down and waved our arms to really loud music from a band--and prayed some more. The sermon was about cheap seats and the cost of Christ.

The entire experience was beautiful and worshipful, and it felt holy. If you've ever felt holy, you know what I mean. If you haven't, I would have had you there today.

My favorite part, though, was communion. The pastor said, "It's the Lord's table, not a Methodist table, but before we share in the sacrament, we are going to take a moment because you don't want to take this if you aren't worthy and therefore bring judgment on yourself, so seek the Holy Spirit and ask Him if you are worthy. If you aren't, pray and get things right."

How many pastors actually talk about righteousness as a way of living and worthiness to partake of Christ?

Then when we were served the sacrament, we were given the bread and the wine and offered time at the altar to pray before we ate and drank. I had to wait because the altar was filled with people praying with bread and wine in hand.

The most overwhelming part to me, though, was the richness of God's pleasure and enjoyment that I felt. I could feel Him enjoying the service, enjoying these people.  I could feel His delight that filled the worship, not just the emotional music time but worship in the form of reverence and holiness of the whole service. I just sat and took it in--took HIM in.

After the service, I went to the pastor to tell him how much I had enjoyed today, which I couldn't really do because I really had no words, and he hugged me and said to come back any time. We started to turn our different ways when he turned around, touched my arm, and looked at me with sparkling eyes. "Love you."

And I knew. It wasn't the pastor speaking those words. It was the Lord speaking those words. His love dripped heavy in the gift of that church to me and my family.

After church, we headed over to Parker's where we ate Kentucky Fried Chicken on a picnic blanket on the floor because she still doesn't have her furniture moved and drank sweet tea out of crystal glasses. Then the kids went upstairs to play while Parker and I lay on the floor and talked about all kinds of things the Lord was doing and revealing to us, and we worshipped right there on the tile, and it was good worship.

Then, the kids and I drove the two hours home and talked about the perfect Sunday, the wonder of being welcome, the conviction of righteousness, and the beauty of it all. Even my teenage daughter said, "Mom, it was worth the way early wakeup for this."

Yes. Yes, it was, and while it is too far away to be our church home, it gave hope to my heart, a heart that wasn't just done with Sunday. It was done with hoping. It was done with believing the fairy tale. It was simply done.

But God...God is crazy in the ways He lets you know He's not done, and He wraps up these incredible gifts in packages that look like a Methodist church two hours away with invitations that look like an unexpected guest at the front door of your house, and He puts right in front of you the very thing you think doesn't even exist so you again believe He can do the crazy and all things are possible and in all of it, the most amazing part of it, is when He stops, looks you right in the eyes, and says,
"Love you."

And, today I feel so wildly loved.

Today is an amazing Sunday.