www.meganjoychapman.com

Author of Lion Heart & Alessio: The Victory Ride Series

A Crown of Beauty for Ashes-Double Portion-Corona Means Crown

To all who mourn . . .
    he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
    festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
    that the Lord has planted for his own glory . . .

Instead of shame and dishonor,
    you will enjoy a double share of honor.
You will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land,
    and everlasting joy will be yours. –Isaiah 61:3,7 NLT

Mixed Media Art by Megan Joy Chapman
Acrylic Paint, Printed Photos on Paper, Melted Crayon, Wood, and Ashes on Canvas. Measures 12″ x 12″

Isaiah 61 has always been one of my favorite passages in Scripture because it infuses me with hope. It reveals God’s creative nature and His heart for justice towards His children. It also demonstrates God’s extravagant love for humanity. A promise keeper through the ages, God declares a double portion eternal blessing of joy and bliss for those who remain faithful to Him through life’s burdens and temptations.

I created this painting as a testimony of God’s healing power over my life and how He has been faithful to bring a double portion of joy and strength to combat brokenness.

This canvas incorporates filtered, black and white photocopied prints from my youth through adulthood. Some pictures represent great triumphs and some bring up memories of deep suffering. I speckled ash over the photos using acrylic medium. Melted crayon bark broken into pieces represents childlike faith as well as God’s many colors of grace and glory deposited throughout my life.

Dust and Adjust Your Crown!

A few months ago I had a sore tooth and visited my dentist. The hygienist said that the upper part of my crown looked like it needed a good cleaning. Some plaque build-up was probably irritating the gum.

As she went to town on the upper part of my crown full vigor, she commented, “wow, this is really stubborn!” I kept praying she wouldn’t slip and take out my eye along with my tooth. She was really going for it!

But then with excitement she said, “Did you feel that? A big deposit just came off! I think you’re going to feel a lot of relief from this.” She was right. My tooth and gum healed up immediately after the cleaning.

The next day I kept hearing God say to me, “Dust off your crown! Don’t you know who you are?”

Like many, I was expectantly believing 2020 to be a year of double portion blessing, favor of God, and 2020 vision. But as the struggles of life came in like a flood, I became distracted from that promise. Fear began robbing my faith. Can you relate? So, when God spoke to me about dusting and adjusting my crown, I was all ears. I received His gentle rebuke and started researching the word crown. Here’s what I discovered:

A dental crown is described as a covering for the upper part of a weak tooth to protect it from breaking.

God is our covering authority. When we place our faith in Jesus, He becomes our protector, strength and shield (See Psalms 28 & 91).

A head crown is a circular ornamental headdress worn by a monarch as a symbol of authority, usually made of precious metals and jewels. Or a wreath of flowers worn as an emblem of victory, achievement, an award. The top or highest part of something. The upper part of a cut gem.

The Word of God declares that Jesus, the King of kings, was given all authority in heaven and on earth. In turn, He crowned mankind with glory and honor, giving them charge of everything He made and has put all things under the Believers’ authority (Matthew 28:18-20, Psalm 8). When we receive Jesus as our personal Savior, His Holy Spirit lives inside us. His Spirit unites us fully to Him making us one with Him, which gives us authority over every evil (Colossians 2:9-10). But it doesn’t stop there! God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms! (Ephesians 2:6)

Can you picture that? As royal sons and daughters of the One True God, we are crowned with glory and honor, co-seated with Jesus in heaven. We have been given the authority of Christ to accomplish great achievements for His glory. We are living from a place of victory, not for a victory, because Jesus already won the battle for us on the cross.

All we have to do is believe it! If we truly believed our identity and purpose is co-creating with Jesus from a position of victory, our lives and our world would look radically different. We’d be consistently confident, effective in love, and would never fall for the lie that is fear.

When a baby crowns it means the baby is emerging from the womb.

This is God’s heart for His church in this hour— The Army of God rising up with humble confidence to take its position against the spiritual forces of evil (Ephesians 6:12). As the Bride of Christ makes herself ready, praying, believing, and obeying the Word, may she emerge as a generous radiant church operating in faith (with wisdom) not fear, and resting in God’s love. May we humbly serve to build His Kingdom united together for His glory.

Throughout the coming ages we will be the visible display of the infinite, limitless riches of his grace and kindness, which was showered upon us in Jesus Christ. For it was only through this wonderful grace that we believed in him. Nothing we did could ever earn this salvation, for it was the gracious gift from God that brought us to Christ! So no one will ever be able to boast, for salvation is never a reward for good works or human striving.

We have become his poetry, a re-created people that will fulfill the destiny he has given each of us, for we are joined to Jesus, the Anointed One. Even before we were born, God planned in advance our destiny and the good works we would do to fulfill it! –Ephesians 2:7-10 TPT

And to my surprise I realized halfway through writing this post that corona, in light of our global pandemic, means crown! referring to the crownlike spikes on its surface.

When we place our faith in Jesus, He promises to bring beauty from our ashes— or life from death. Right before Jesus went to the cross to take the punishment for our sins, His accusers put a crown of thorns on His head to mock Him. The crown of thorns represented the curse of sin and death that was placed on Jesus so that we could be freed from that curse (Matthew 27:28-31). Jesus’ death brought us eternal life. Salvation in Jesus is ultimately our crowning inheritance.

A Crown of Glory for A Crown of Thorns

I don’t believe in coincidences. Corona means crown. I believe God is speaking loud and clear to anyone who will listen. As we face this global shaking during the coronavirus, God is calling people everywhere to pause and draw near to Him. He’s inviting us to remember all Jesus won for us on the cross and to reflect His character on earth.

Romans 8:28 says, And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Therefore, the double portion blessing promised for 2020 still stands! Through this trial, I believe families are being restored, marriages revived, and visions renewed. What seemed important before may not seem as important now. Or vice versa. Either way, may this time of testing become a time of resting—a new normal where people unite and become more intentional about praying together and interceding on behalf of our nation.

May our prayers and praise fill God’s throne room so we can receive His favor and see justice poured out upon the earth. And may we all live by faith, not fear, because if your faith remains strong, even while surrounded by life’s difficulties, you will continue to experience the untold blessings of God! True happiness comes as you pass the test with faith, and receive the victorious crown of life promised to every lover of God! –James 1:12 TPT

In Conclusion

Circumstances change, but God’s character never changes. No matter what we face individually or globally, God is on the throne. He’s not worried. But He longs for His bride to return to Him. As we invite Jesus to be our covering crown, He will bind our wounds and heal our brokenness. As we allow childlike faith to abound in our hearts, His light will shine through the darkness and we will receive a crown of beauty for ashes – the double portion blessings described in Isaiah 61!

. . . And they lay their crowns before the throne and say, “You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created all things, and they exist because you created what you pleased.” – Revelation 4:10-11 NLT

 

An Invitation to Salvation

If you have never placed your faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, and would like to know what it means to have a personal relationship with Him through the Holy Spirit, consider praying this simple prayer:

Father God, I admit that I’ve sinned against You. I’m sorry for the things I’ve done wrong and I want to do better. I believe that when Your Son Jesus died on the cross, He took the punishment for my sin. But He didn’t stay dead. He rose from the dead and is now seated in glory at Your right hand. Jesus, please come into my life and fill me with Your Holy Spirit so that I can receive this free gift of salvation and spend eternity with You in heaven. Amen!

If you prayed that prayer wholeheartedly, congratulations! You have been adopted into the family of God. A crown of victory has been placed on your head! Your life is now sealed in Christ and you have an inheritance that will last forever. Below are a few recommendations to help you along your journey.

  • Make sure you tell someone. Speaking out your commitment helps to seal your faith
  • Find a Bible believing church and get connected.
  • Receive prayer. Feel free to contact me. I would be honored to pray for you.
  • Start reading the Bible. If you don’t have one, Bible Gateway is a good place to start.
  • If you are in the Kona area on the Big Island of Hawaii and need assistance during the coronavirus, go to Living Stones Church Help Project.

Full Passage of Isaiah 61, Good News for the Oppressed

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
    for the Lord has anointed me
    to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
    and to proclaim that captives will be released
    and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn
    that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
    and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
To all who mourn in Israel,
    he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
    festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
    that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins,
    repairing cities destroyed long ago.
They will revive them,
    though they have been deserted for many generations.
Foreigners will be your servants.
    They will feed your flocks
and plow your fields
    and tend your vineyards.
You will be called priests of the Lord,
    ministers of our God.
You will feed on the treasures of the nations
    and boast in their riches.
Instead of shame and dishonor,
    you will enjoy a double share of honor.
You will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land,
    and everlasting joy will be yours.

“For I, the Lord, love justice.
    I hate robbery and wrongdoing.
I will faithfully reward my people for their suffering
    and make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants will be recognized
    and honored among the nations.
Everyone will realize that they are a people
    the Lord has blessed.”

10 I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God!
    For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation
    and draped me in a robe of righteousness.
I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding
    or a bride with her jewels.
11 The Sovereign Lord will show his justice to the nations of the world.
    Everyone will praise him!
His righteousness will be like a garden in early spring,
    with plants springing up everywhere.

Lion Heart & Alessio: The Victory Ride, An Adventure Series for Kids 8-12

Read together as a family and share the good news. Check out Lion Heart & Alessio: The Victory Ride, my Spirit-filled family redemption story!

If this post encouraged you, please consider sharing it.

 

Love Came Down – My Valentine’s Day Rescue Story

Mixed Media Art by Megan Joy Chapman

Mixed Media on Canvas using Acrylics, Paper, Ink, and Metal

It was two weeks before Valentines Day. Other than an occasional crow from a rooster and some chirping birds that morning, the room was quiet when i sat down to read my Bible. Chap had already left for work and i was alone. Well, i thought i was.

As i opened to my daily reading, i’d love to say i was full of joy ready to seize the day with exuberance – but that would be a big fat lie.  The truth is, i was completely discouraged.  I’d been through a long season of disappointments, including some stressful circumstances, and i was desperate to grab hold of just a crumb of refreshment. I wondered when God might fly down to rescue me and lift me out of my pit.

Although i’m fully aware and thankful for my many blessings, the negative feelings consuming me were not lining up with what i know is true – I know God is always good and i know He always comes through for me. So all i can do in these long seasons is pray, and wait patiently for Him to act.

So there i am, about to read my first sentence, when the TV turns on and startles me. A Scripture from Romans 7 appears on the screen. I look across the room and see the clicker sitting on the coffee table. As far as i can see, i’m still alone.

Then, Dr. Sumrall (i think that’s his name) comes on the screen. He’s in the middle of teaching a sermon. I’m perplexed but invigorated. What just happened? I only pick up pieces of what he’s saying because i keep looking over at the lonely clicker. I squint my eyes thinking it will help me see the invisible angel i assume is standing there.

Dr. Sumrall beckons my attention. “I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind . . . Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

The words strike me and i suddenly don’t feel so alone. I close my Bible and listen to the TV.

“For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are God’s children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.”

The words are familiar but i’m hearing them differently than ever before.

“. . . we must wait patiently and confidently.”

The sermon ends and it goes to commercial. Tears stream down my cheeks as i turn it off. I’m feeling comforted now, because i’m reminded that God always sees me. He knows me. And He loves me. I’m certain He wants to speak to my currant situation through Romans 7 and 8, so i grab my Bible and quickly go there.

Since he did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? . . . for Christ died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us . . . Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? . . . No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us . . .

I take a deep breath. I’m amazed by God’s faithfulness. I close my Bible and look up. On the wall in front of me is a painting i created two years ago, Love Came Down. I reread the lyrics printed on the canvas and smile. Then i thank God for rescuing me once again.

Love Came Down – Kari Jobe – Listen Here

If my heart is overwhelmed
And I cannot hear your voice
I hold on to what is true
Though I cannot see

If the storms of life they come
And the road ahead gets steep
I will lift these hands in faith
I will believe

I’ll remind myself
Of all that you’ve done
And the life I have
Because of your son

Love came down and rescued me
Love came down and set me free
I am yours
Lord I’m forever yours
Mountains high or valley low
I sing out and remind my soul
I am yours
I am forever yours
When my heart is filled with hope
Every promise comes my way
When I feel your hands of grace
Rest upon me
Staying desperate for you, God
Staying humble at your feet
I will lift these hands in praise
I will believe
I’ll remind myself
Of all that you’ve done
And the life I have
Because of your son
Love

Choosing Thankfulness No Matter What

You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. – PSALM 23:5

I love how God set up our Thanksgiving holiday to fall just before Christmastime and then the New Year. It paints an amazing picture of Redemption. A heart of thankfulness to God yields blessings and gifts, which in turn brings new life where the old passes away and the new is born.

Before I became a Christian I was far from thankful. I was blind to God’s sovereignty and what He had in store for my future. As I grew to know Him better, I became more and more thankful because I saw Him moving in my life and in the lives around me. I began to recognize His beauty in creation whenever I gazed at the stars or watched the sun set over the ocean. I saw Him everywhere!

I even had a specific word prayed over me after church one Sunday— that I’d become an abundantly thankful woman—I would be so thankful that I’d even thank God for my toaster. I found it hard to be thankful at that time in my life because I was suffering through several trials at once— including health, marriage, and financial stress. But regardless I received the prayer, and that week I chose to be thankful—even for my toaster. Guess what happened? My toaster broke. Then my washing machine. And yes, even my car. All that same week!

The old ungrateful me would have spiraled into a pit. But instead, I called my friend who had prayed and told her what happened. She laughed. Not because she’s mean. She just wasn’t surprised. Long story short she basically said, “There’s a good guy and there’s a bad guy. When we believe the good guy and do what He says, the bad guy gets mad.” She told me to keep being thankful no matter what.

It didn’t happen overnight, but as I continued to choose thankfulness (even when I didn’t feel thankful) or when I declared Gods goodness (no matter what my circumstances looked like) eventually I saw blessings and gifts pour into my life and overflow into other people’s lives. The Lord honored my faith by granting me more faith and more joy. And He continues to make me new, day by day, as I trust in Him.

If you’re in a tough season where thankfulness is the last thing you feel like doing, do it anyways. God is preparing a feast for you in the presence of your enemies. Christmas will come. And a new season of fresh hope will soon fill your cup.

Thankfulness, Thankful, Lychee Wood Sign, Megan Joy Chapman, mixed media art

Rustic Lychee Wood Sign, Hand-Carved, Acrylic Paint- by Megan Joy Chapman

King’s Faith, A Good Christian Movie

Kings Faith, Faith-based, Christian, Family-friendly, MovieIf you’re on the hunt for a good, family-friendly movie this holiday season, check out King’s Faith. Chap (my husband) and I watched it the other night and equally enjoyed it.

Finding solid, Christian flicks we both like is always a bonus. We thought the content in King’s Faith was entertaining and inspiring— and thought provoking enough to keep teenagers interested.

The movie is about an eighteen year-old foster kid, Brendan King, who is trying to break free from his shady past. Sent to prison at fifteen, he starts reading the Bible and gives his life to Jesus. Paroled at eighteen, he is placed in a Christian foster home and is determined to live a life of faith. But when his former gang shows up, threatening him and the people he loves, Brendan’s faith is put to the test. Will he trust God no matter what challenges face him, or will he give up and go back to his roots?

Learn more about King’s Faith at: www.kingsfaith.com

Watch Trailer

Hawaiian Sunset Crazy Quilt

Those who live at the ends of the earth stand in awe of your wonders. From where the sun rises to where it sets, you inspire shouts of joy. -Psalm 65:8

megan joy chapman

Hawaiian Crazy Quilt design by Megan Joy Chapman. Peruvian Walnut Custom Frame by Ray Strauss. Finished Piece measures 48″ square.

Last year I discovered two things. I love creating mixed media art, and I love creating mixed media art! Fabric, acrylic, bottle caps, bottles! I’ve become obsessed with texture and the infinite ways I can express an idea through media.

With my fashion and costume background, fabrics are a natural go-to for me. I have a ton of leftover scraps from previous projects and also from my days working at Seaside Music Theater in Daytona Beach. We produced countless costumes for many musicals and plays and the fabrics were often glitzy and fun. My sewing supervisor, Kim, was an avid quilter and saved discarded pieces for her quilts. She said she particularly liked crazy quilting “Cause it’s fast.”

One day Kim showed me how she crazy quilted and I loved that there was no measuring or patterning involved. She just delved into her project and started piecing together colorful shapes. “See,” Kim said, “Instant gratification.” But it sounded better when she said it because she was from Long Island with a definitive accent. She also wore cat-eye glasses, was about 5’11, blonde, and all legs. But more about Kim later.

Fast-forward to 2015 living in Hawaii (about twenty years later). I’m finally ready to decorate the walls of my newly remodeled home. I want something extravagant to set the tone throughout the house–something central, colorful, big. And something that reflects God’s majestic creation. So I decide to make my first crazy quilt using leftover remnants. You’d think for my first one I’d start small. But ohhh no. Not me. I went for it. The finished piece turned out to be a 48″ square!  I know. Crazy right? But I did it, and it makes me smile when I look at it.

The whole process of stitching together a bunch of frayed uneven scraps and then creating something vibrant and beautiful with them, to me, is profoundly inspiring. As I saw the odd-shaped pieces begin to transform and then finally develop into a finished work, I had an epiphany of how God works in us. He takes the broken pieces of our lives, transforms them with His perfect love, and makes us completely whole in Him.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. – Philippians 1:6

Remember Kim? She became a dear friend, mentor, and also led me to the Lord. She even crafted parts of my wedding gown in intricate crazy quilt designs. Looking back (if I know my Kim) she probably prayed over every piece.

But how masterful is God in all this? All those moons ago, when Kim was teaching me to crazy quilt, praying for me, God already knew the revelation I’d have when I made my first quilt many sunsets later! Now that’s something to shout about!

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11

Crazy Quilt Wedding Dress Pics

My boss at the costume shop patterned the bodice and long skirt. Kim did all the crazy quilting and constructed most of the separates. I designed everything, patterned the cape along with my husbands vest, and constructed some of the pieces in the collection.

Megan Joy Chapman, Crazy Quilt Art

Side-front of gown with side train. I made the veil from lightweight embroidered net.

 

Megan Joy Chapman, Crazy Quilt Art

The back had a piece that fanned out and then cascaded down the right side.

 

Megan Joy Chapman, Crazy Quilt Art

I have the gown, vest, and accessories displayed in a large cabinet in our bedroom.

 

Megan Joy Chapman, Crazy Quilt Art

My Husbands Vest

 

Megan Joy Chapman, Crazy Quilt Art

There was a cape with a crazy quilted collar.

 

Megan Joy Chapman, Crazy Quilt Art

For the reception I had a mini. It was the 90’s!

How to Crazy Quilt

For more info on crazy quilting go to: What are Crazy Quilts on Craftsy.  The Craftsy website offers online classes with optional feedback from instructors. Or you can google Crazy Quilting and find many different websites and free video tutorials.

Overcoming Discouragement. The Walls Have Come Down Easter Blessing Poem

overcoming discouragement, lion heart and alessio: the victory ride, easter, Megan Joy Chapman

The Walls Have Come Down

Happy Easter, Lovelies!

I wanted to share an encouraging word the Lord gave me after Sunday’s sermon at Living Stones Church on overcoming discouragement. After receiving prayer, I was inspired to write down what the Holy Spirit spoke. I hope it blesses you as it did me.

The Walls Have Come Down

I am at home in your body and it’s a good place to be. You are a temple of My Spirit—the walls have come down. I delight in you. You are right where I want you to be, so rest in Me. We are one.

You are seated with Me in heavenly places, and when I look at you, I see a masterpiece. What once was a frayed swatch has been carefully and respectfully embroidered and grafted into My glorious design.

You are not finished yet. But the work of My hands brings Me great pleasure. I AM the Master Craftsman and you, My daughter/My son, are a work of art.

Do not run ahead of Me or lag behind. Stay the course and follow alongside Me. Trust Me so I can lead you to where I have promised. Then you will find peace and rest in this race.

Be strengthened My daughter/My son for My words are life to your body—an ever flowing spring overflowing with blessings.

The walls have come down.

I delight in you.

By Megan Joy Chapman xo

Goût de France: Provencal Chicken Sausage

 Provencal Chicken Sausage

Our first three days in France were spent indulging in foods we don’t normally eat on a daily basis—like French sausage and cured meats, fresh from the Farmers Market. The varieties of sausage displayed at the open markets were unbelievable, offering a huge selection of flavors like herb, garlic, fennel, and pepper— just to name a few.

Market Day Sausage

Having our larger meal for lunch, like true Frenchies, we’d usually have a smaller market day meal at night. This usually consisted of cheese, sausage, cured meat, bread, olives, and whatever else looked good to us that day. But after three days of eating this way, my fingers swelled and I wondered if I’d have to have my rings cut off.

Our rookie digestions were also less to be desired. I guess the French have cast-iron stomachs or maybe they’re born with a special salt filter. One night my husband had heartburn so bad, we thought he might be having a heart attack! So after a few days of stress and discomfort, we took a break and tried eating a bit lighter for the next few days. Wussie Americans.

Although I love the taste of salty cured fresh meats, they’ve become an occasional indulgence. But my Provençal Chicken Sausage is a healthy alternative which eliminates the hard-to-digest sausage casing. I use this recipe all the time in a variety of dishes. It especially works well added as a topping to my Rustic Provencal Pizza, tossed in my Roasted Provencal Tomato Sauce, or in my Market Day Stuffed Mushrooms (Coming Soon!). No more swollen fingers, crazy digestion, or heart attacks for this crew. Bon Appetit!

Provencal Chicken Sausage Ingredients

1 lb. chicken breasts (about 2 large boneless breasts cut in chunks)

1 lb. chicken thighs (about 4 cut in chunks)

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped

3 large cloves garlic, chopped

½ -1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 heaping tablespoon Herbs de Provence

1 ½ teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon freshly ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 tablespoon fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried)

1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves, chopped

¼ cup chopped shallot (about 1 shallot)

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (plus 2 tablespoons for sautéing)

Parchment paper for freezing

Provencal Chicken Sausage Directions

Grind chicken chunks in a food processor. Add rest of ingredients and blend until well incorporated, scraping the sides of bowl as needed. Mixture will be sticky.

 Raw Provencal Chicken Sausage

I prefer making this a day ahead and then storing it in the fridge to allow the flavors to marry. You can also store in the freezer to use at a later date.  Just divide the mixture in half, scoop each onto parchment, and then roll into a log. Twist ends of parchment to seal and label the logs. Place logs in a Ziploc and Freeze until needed. Each log should be about 1 lb.

Sausage in Parchment

When you’re ready to cook your sausage, add 2 tablespoons of EVOO to a heated skillet and sauté sausage by breaking it up with a spatula.  If you’re taking the sausage from the freezer, make sure it’s fully defrosted. Cook till lightly browned and heated through.

Provencal Chicken Sausage

Related Links

Goût de France: Sunday in Saint Remy de Provence

Rustic Provencal Pizza 

Provencal Tomato Sauce

Market Day Stuffed Mushrooms (Coming Soon!)

Read this story from the beginning

Goût de France: Thanks, Mom!

Click here to check out Megan’s educational adventure book for kids ages 8-12!

Goûts de France: Toasting on the TGV (Train a Grande Vitesse)

The TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse)

The TGV (Train a Grande Vitesse)

Fighting jet-lag , I managed to enjoy the 2.5 hour ride from Paris to Avignon on the TGV (train a grande vitesse). We’d booked a Club 4— a booth with reclining seats and fold-down tables. Pretty comfortable and roomy.

While our two friends rested, Chap, my husband and I went up to the second floor lounge to have our first toast in France. The Frenchman behind the counter was a one-man show. He spoke pretty good English and was busy serving up drinks and hot food for the duration of the trip. While Chap ordered us champagne, I grabbed a stool by the window and breathed in the stunning landscapes of the French countryside. It reminded me of Jean Marcs, paintings.

tgv (train a grande vitesse)-Provence landscape window view

Provence Hilltop Painting by Jean Marc

The only thing missing was Vivaldi. Whenever I hear Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, I always picture rolling European hills and bright sweeping landscapes. But the symphony of German and French conversations transpiring around me, along with the steady calming murmur of the train was pretty cool, too. A group of chatty twenty-something Germans were enjoying their cocktails and most likely heading to Provence on holiday. A young French woman had propped her pudgy baby up by the window to keep him entertained. I sat there smiling, teary, and overwhelmed— my lifelong dream of visiting France finally fulfilled.

Chap returned with our champagne. It was hard to believe we were traveling close to 200 mph. As we sped through the Rhone Valley, we caught glimpses of enchanting villas and grand castles. I was afraid to blink and risk missing any of it. It was like racing through an inspiring art exhibit with no time to admire the masterpieces.

tgv (train a grande vitesse)-Provence landscape window view

Provence Poppy Field Painting by Jean Marc

We were a few weeks too early to see the vibrant blooms of lavender fields, but we did spy some rows with hints of purple on the brink of maturity. Red poppies were abundant and looked like French knots embroidered over lush green meadows. Manicured vineyards created rows and shapes that added to the spectacular patchwork.

tgv (train a grande vitesse)-Provence landscape window view

French Countryside

Toasting on the TGV (Train a Grande Vitesse)

French Countryside and the American Dream
Chap and I weren’t taking our trip to France lightly. It was our Ebenezer Stone, a celebration of all that God has done for us throughout our twenty-year journey together. As we sat on the train gazing out the window, we recalled how far we’d come—from grassroots, working two or three jobs at $6/hour to living the American Dream—minus the 2.5 kids of course, but we’re still working on that one.

We struggled from being young and poor together, suffered through annoying health battles, grieved deaths of loved ones, and almost lost our home. Our ride hasn’t been easy. But only by the grace of God and a lot of hard work (in the worst economy of our lifetime) we own a home in Hawaii, have built a successful construction business, published my book, and conquered my dream of going to France.

So Chap and I received our first-time trip to France for what it was—a timely gift and fresh beginning. Clinking our glasses with a triumphant à votre santé! we raised our Ebenezer Stone and toasted to all God has done for us and has yet to do.

What are you toasting today? How about raising your own Ebenezer Stone and celebrating with my Champagne Aperitif and Cured Olive Tapenade?

Samuel took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer—”the stone of help”—for he said, “Up to this point the Lord has helped us! —1 Samuel 7:12, NLT

Read this story from the beginning

Goût de France: Thanks, Mom!

Related Links

How I Scored a Free Dinner and a Castle in France

Champagne Aperitif and Cured Olive Tapenade

Click here to check out Megan’s educational adventure book for kids ages 8-12!

Love Life: Barren or Blessed

love life-motherhood

Gustav Klimt- Mother & Child

Every November around my birthday and holiday season, I fall into this annoying pattern of feeling sorry for myself. With family back east, no children of my own –yet –and the big fat F-Word (40!) just around the corner, I start freaking out, questioning God’s timing and His purpose for my life. Fear creeps in and the inevitable questions nag at me. Will Chap and I ever get to experience a family of our own? Will we ever get to cook a Christmas feast and share stories around a family dinner table? Will I ever have another human being look at me with my eyes and call me Mom?

love life-family table

Knowing this pattern’s going to rear its ugly head each year –until I’m given everything I want, right here right now (yeah right!) I’ve begun strategizing in advance. First, I make sure to stay busy. On my birthday, I go to the salon and get my big unruly hair done – cut, colored, and straightened. This makes me feel like I’m reinventing myself—especially when my grays have become more than I can handle or pull out.

love life-salon

Then of course, shopping and dinner plans are always in the mix. But before all that, I purposefully give myself a pep-talk and say, this year’s going to be different! I will not allow myself to focus on what I don’t have. I’m going to be thankful for what I do have and enjoy this season. I mean, it is THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR! Isn’t it? Yes. I can do this!

love life-shopping

So all suited up in my big girl panties, I pull myself up from my bootstraps (well, they’re more like cute high-heeled sandals in Hawaii, but you get the idea). I wake up on my 39th birthday ready to take on the season with gusto. But before my feet even hit the floor, I start freakin’ crying!

You’ve got to be kidding me! I think. I was sooo ready this time! Get a grip! But the tears don’t stop. Then guilt spits at me, making me feel worse. I feel bad that I’m not being thankful and still whining about the things I don’t have. So all I know to do in this situation is to pray. I grab my journal and the zebra-print and pink trim almost makes me smile (almost).

love life-journal

I start repenting and write down my prayers. Things like, Forgive me Lord for not being thankful for my life daily. Have mercy on me and let me enjoy this life, no matter what my circumstances. Help me to make LOVE my highest goal and enjoy the purpose and plan You’ve created for me, even if I don’t always understand it. Help me to love my life!

Then I start to get petty and ask God for a necklace for my birthday. I had gotten a very unique pair of earrings a few months earlier but needed a necklace to go with them. They were designed by a local artist—one-of-a-kind, copper long swirls.

love life-earrings

So after my hair appointment, I head into the boutique where I’d purchased the earrings months earlier. I approach the owner and describe the earrings and how I was hoping to find a matching necklace by the same artist.

love life-shopping

She tilts her head pensively and says, “I know the artist you’re talking about but I don’t think we have anything left from her.”

I sigh pitifully, say thank you, and turn to leave. But before I exit she says, “Hold on. I’m not sure if this is a match but I think it’s from the same artist…” On her tiptoes she reaches up onto a top shelf and pulls down a display that is hiding behind another display. She presents it to me.

At first glance, I see a tarnished whimsical mess. It’s totally me. And the length is perfect. Then my eyes refocus on the necklace and I see that the swirls are actually letters spelling out a message. LOVE LIFE!

love life necklace

I’m speechless.

“You can polish it up with some copper cleaner,” she says hopefully, trying to make out my frozen stare.

I try not to startle her with my sudden burst of enthusiasm and refrain from jumping up and down. “Umm, yeah! Definitely! I’ll take it!”

Long story short, I buy some copper cleaner and rush home to polish the necklace. In my bedroom, I find the earrings and they’re a perfect match. I pull out my journal and read the words I’d written that morning about choosing to love life— and yep—I start weeping again. But this time they’re tears of joy and thankfulness. My eyes are opened to the metaphor of me being a tarnished whimsical mess that God is daily shaping, reviving, and polishing for a special and unique purpose.

love life jewelry

In the simple message on the necklace, I’m reminded of God’s favor and love for me and overwhelmed by His grace and faithfulness. He heard my hearts cry. When I didn’t think He was listening, He was. And at that moment I realized that, yes! I can love this crazy life and purpose He’s given me— even if I don’t always understand it. I can trust God’s timing because He knows my every need—even the petty ones like a necklace!

love life-friends

Celebrating my Blessed 39th Birthday at Beach Tree

For whoever finds Me finds life and receives favor from the LORD. PROVERBS 8:35

Click here to check out Megan’s educational adventure book for kids ages 8-12!

How I Scored a Free Dinner and a Castle in France

France-Eiffel Tower

Ever since sixth grade geography class, I’ve dreamed about going to France—maybe because I’m a diehard romantic-foodie-art-lover that has always been fascinated by the avant-garde Parisian fashion. Even the language intrigues me—everything always sounds plus chic in French.

Over the past twenty years that I’ve known my husband and within our fourteen years of marriage, he’s endured my French fetish and endless whining about how I long to experience a steamy latte and fresh baked croissant in a quaint café, stroll down the Champs-Elysées, shop in a real boutique, marvel the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, and strike a pose in front of the Eiffel Tower. Realizing I’d never let my dream die, my husband promised that he’d get me to Paris before I turned forty. Well— I turn forty this year, so his plan looks glib.

But just as his plan was becoming an impossible feat, a miracle happened on the day my book, Lion Heart and Alessio: The Victory Ride, arrived at my front door. It was the first time I’d held my book in my hands and seen it in print.

megan joy chapman's book-lion heart and alessio

To celebrate, we had dinner plans with another couple at La Bourgogne restaurant—yep— French.

France inspiration-French restaurant

As we’re digging into our Chevre and Tomato Galette, our friends tell us that they’ve booked a castle in Provence, expenses paid, and would like us to join them.

France- Provence Villa

Could this day get any better? Yes, it can. And it does. After we’ve indulged in our perfectly paired wines, five-course succulent meals, and have planned and gushed over the infinite possibilities of our trip, we realize we’re the last ones in the restaurant. The lovely French waitress approaches and the husbands pull out their wallets. In her sultry accent she says, “The bill has already been taken care of.” Ends up, it was paid for by “Anonymous.”

France-villa pool

The Castles Private Pool

So, pretty much a no-brainer for us. WE’RE GOING TO FRANCE! We spend two weeks in our expenses paid castle in Provence and will spend the last week in Paris. To prepare for our trip we’ve been taking French lessons. So far, I’ve learned to say with big eyes, chin down, “Desole. Je ne parle pas Francais (Sorry, I don’t speak French). But I’m still plugging away at it.

France-villa garden

Our Private Garden!


France-villa tennis court

Tennis anyone?

I’m beside-my-self-cheerleader-kick-EXCITED! My hubby’s stoked, too, because he’s finally off the hook. He keeps saying to me, “See. I told you I’d get you to France before you turned forty.”

With a smitten smile to puff him up, I keep saying, “Nice work, Babe.”

Paris France apartment

This is our Paris apartment living area with a view! so we can people watch. Only a 5 minute walk to the Louvre Museum!

Paris France apartment

Our Paris Apartment Dining Room. Check out the chalkboard. Bienvenu a Paris (Welcome to Paris).

I could go on and on about how God has blown me away with His spot-on timing and has exceeded my expectations for this trip. The list is endless. Instead, I’ll just say this. Keep dreaming big and don’t give up! Your greatest desire may happen when you least expect it . . . and better than you ever imagined!

May he grant your heart’s desires and make all your plans succeed. PSALM 20:4

Merci, Seigner!

What are you dreaming big about?

Follow my trip to France!

Goût de France: Thanks, Mom!

Galette Recipes

Gouda with Caramelized Onion, Fennel, and Apple Sausage Galette
Brie and Apple Galette
Gruyere, Prosciutto, and Poppy Seed Galette
Goat Cheese, Fig, and Prosciutto Galette

Click here to check out Megan’s educational adventure book for kids ages 8-12!

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