Mar 31, 2006

It's Not About Me

Are you a people pleaser? Are you self-centered? Or do you seek to please the Lord? What is our motivation behind the decisions we make in life?

Some people want to look good in the eyes of their friends, their boss, their pastor, whomever. They decide what to wear according to what other people might think of them. They do their best when "important" people are watching them. Or maybe they are afraid to tell a friend "no" because they might lose a friend. They put on their best manners when others are around to impress. Ultimately, their motive is self-centeredness. They are more concerned about what others think about "them" than anything else.

Others are just plain selfish. If it feels good, do it. I have rights. I'll sue you if I don't get my way. I will eat whatever I want. I will wear whatever I want. I will listen to the music I like. I will spend my time my way. I know I have a problem with (anger, yelling, impatience, lying, sarcasm, etc.), but that's just me! Or maybe they're the type to complain. When asked how they are - "Oh, fine." or "All right, I guess." Maybe they don't like how much TV their husband watches or the sermon at church. What is the motivation? Does it put the focus on self?

Why are we here on this earth? What is our purpose? I believe we have a two-fold purpose: the first is our relationship with God, and the second is our relationship with people. "Love God; love your neighbor." I guess that doesn't leave much room for self, does it?

Part of our relationship with the Lord is spending time with Him, getting to know Him and developing our relationship together. Part of our relationship with Him is obedience. Jesus said, "If you love Me, you will obey Me." Is this a commandment? I think not.

Let's consider a husband/wife relationship first. I love my husband very much. Therefore, I take time to get to know him better. As I get to know him better, I find out what kinds of things please him. My husband has let me know how much he likes my homemade pizza every Friday night, so do I tell him, "I am not under the Law, I am under grace, so therefore I have the freedom to decide whether or not I want to make you pizza every Friday"? Of course not! But I choose to make pizza for him every Friday night because I desire to please him. I was shopping for clothes with my daughter today and she said didn't particularly like a certain outfit I tried on, so even though I liked it, I did not buy it because I wanted to please her. Some wives may wear a certain hairstyle because their husband likes it, or wear a favorite outfit that their husband admires. There are lots of things we were are willing to do just to please a loved one.

Now, granted, this pendulum can easily swing too far in the opposite direction where you become a people pleaser RATHER THAN doing the right thing. But if we remember that our second purpose here on earth is to love others, we will be delighted to find little ways of pleasing our loved ones and those God puts in our life, while still doing what pleases God also.

Should this be any different in our relationship with our Lord? I chose just one example from the many verses the Bible has to say on this subject: "Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him." II Cor 5:9 If I am willing to wear certain clothes to please my employer, to please my husband, to please my daughter, or whoever, then why is it any different for me to wear certain clothes to please my Lord? Shouldn't I desire to do that which is pleasing to the Lord? And how do I know what is pleasing to Him? By studying His Word and hearing His heart. And don't I please Him by obeying Him? Isn't obedience pleasing to Jesus? He tells us over and over again, in some way, "to obey is better than sacrifice," and "if you love Me, you will obey Me." Rather than being a commandment, it is what comes naturally out of our heart. When we love someone, we desire to please them. When we love Jesus, we desire to please Him. One concrete way of pleasing the Lord is to obey Him. Therefore, since I love Jesus so much, I desire to please Him, and what better way than to obey Him!

Does this put me back under the Law again? Not any more than I am under the law to fix homemade pizza every week. Will I be punished if don't please my husband by fixing his favorite meal? I hope not! Will God punish me if I get a pierced lip? Probably not. But will I put a wedge in our relationship? Probably. I have done something displeasing to my Lord.

Am I working my way to heaven? Am I living a "works"-based salvation? No. My salvation is secure in the person of Jesus Christ. "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." Eph 2:8-10 My salvation is a gift of God, by His grace and through faith. I can do nothing at all to earn salvation. We all know that verse. But notice what comes immediately after this incredible salvation verse: good works! We are created in Christ Jesus for good works! After salvation, God has prepared good works for us to do. God expects us to do good works - after salvation!

So why do I wear the clothes I do? First, because they please the Lord. Second, because they please my family. Why do I eat what I do? First, because I am not my own; I was bought at a price. Therefore I must glorify the Lord in my body, in His temple. That is pleasing to Him. Second, because I know He knows how my body works better than anyone else does! How do I style my hair? wear jewelry? make-up? shoes? ...

All these are outward manifestations of a heart that truly desires only to please the Lord. All of our character should fall into the same categories. Why am I patient with Alicia? First, to please the Lord. Second, to have a relationship with my daughter. Why do I tell the truth? First, because lying is an abomination to the Lord and I desire to please Him so I will obey Him. Second, because I care about my relationship with my fellow man.

Notice that nothing is about me. I am not patient or truthful to make myself look good. That would be doing the right thing with the wrong motive. I have seen many people try to do what they thought was the "right" thing because someone else told them to do it, because they wanted to be a people pleaser, or because it just seemed like the right thing to do. But their motivation came from the wrong place. It was ultimately based on self. Plain ol' self.

Is my desire to truly please the Lord first in all my life? Do I love Jesus? Then I will obey Him because obedience is pleasing to Him. But I guess I'd better get to know Him so I will understand His heart, His best, His ways. No rules. Just pleasing the Man that I love!

Good Friends

I went shopping today with a good friend. What a treasure good friends are! We looked at clothes for hours together, laughed together, and then commiserated together when we were so tired at the end of the day we could hardly drag ourselves home.

Another good friend recently remarked about how she couldn't wait for her daughters to be old enough to be good friends with. What a great goal in life!

Thanks for another great day together, Natasha!

Mar 30, 2006

Juicy Oranges

Where I'm coming from.

I heard a man teaching God's Word once (name?) who said something that has had a tremendous impact on my life. In this particular message, he was expounding on the qualifications for elders and deacons, but what he said could apply to any Scripture dealing with daily life. Here is what he said (paraphrased):

"Be careful not to try to squeeze five gallons of orange juice out of one orange."

Here is an example: he was looking at the qualification that an elder be the husband of one wife. As we have all probably experienced, that verse can be interpreted many different ways. Here is his point: just take Scripture at face value for what it says. It ONLY says that he be the husband of one wife. It does not address divorce, being a widower, being a bachelor, or lusting after another woman in his heart (all popular interpretations). It simply says a husband of one wife.

Another good example was the qualification of ruling his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence. This passage does not address how old the children are or a minimum age to be an elder, or being childless. It simply says that his children will be submissive and reverent to him. Period.

I have taken this orange juice principle and applied it every time I study God's Word for a certain purpose. Please make sure that I'm not trying to wring orange juice out of a dry orange!

Mar 29, 2006

Seven Sevens

7 Things I Hope to Do Before I Die

1. Read ALL the books in my library – and then some!
2. Be so filled with the love of Jesus that it just overflows out of me onto those around me
3. Write several books
4. Be a naturopath/cranial sacral therapist
5. Be a wonderful grandma
6. Go to Israel
7. Go on a missions trip to India

7 Things I Cannot Do Well

1. Get dinner on the table before my family calls Pizza Hut
2. Identify anything in nature – trees, birds, flowers, stars, bugs, etc.
3. Plumbing/electrical work
4. Remember names
5. Recall dates in history
6. Keep the lead out of my foot
7. Write timely thank-you notes

7 Of My Favorite Movies

1. Rough Riders
2. The Day Lincoln Was Shot
3. Roughing It
4. March of the Penguins
5. Fiddler on the Roof
6. My Fair Lady
7. What the Deaf Man Heard

7 Things I Say Often

1. What does that have to do with the price of rice in China?
2. Sweetie Pie
3. Sit your buns down
4. OK
5. I have learned to be content in whatever state I am in. (Texas)
6. Yeah huh is not a word.
7. It bombed right out.

7 Things I Love About My Husband

1. Is able to integrate all the pieces of the puzzle in the bigger scheme of life
2. Is extremely intelligent
3. Has a great sense of humor
4. Loves the Lord with all his heart
5. Works hard to be a peacemaker at work
6. Has a strong work ethic
7. Has an extensive vocabulary

7 Of My Favorite Books

1. The Scarlet Pimpernel
2. Fit For Life, by Harvey Diamond
3. What to Do About Your Brain-Injured Child, by Glenn Doman
4. The Original Home Schooling Series, by Charlotte Mason
5. Child Training Tips, by Reb Bradley
6. A Family Guide to the Biblical Holidays, by Robin Sampson
7. What the Bible Says About Healthy Living, by Rex Russell, MD

If you read this, I tag you!

Mar 28, 2006

Pierced Ears: A Biblical Defense

(Due to technical difficulties, this post had to be removed and re-posted. All original comments are at the end of this post.)

The Bible has a whole lot to say about jewelry, both bad and good. This is intended merely to be a very simple biblical defense for pierced earrings and for wearing jewelry in general.

We first see jewelry condoned when Abraham's servant finds Rebecca: "So it was, when the camels had finished drinking, that the man took a golden nose ring weighing half a shekel, and two bracelets for her wrists weighing ten shekels of gold … Then the servant brought out jewelry of silver, jewelry of gold, and clothing, and gave them to Rebekah." Gen 24:22, 53 This seems to be a favorable use not only of jewelry, but also of nose rings!

When the Israelites plundered the Egyptians, they took a lot of jewelry with them. It is not clear if they were only intended for later use in the tabernacle or if they were for the beauty of the Israelites. In any case, they very much misused them. "And Aaron said to them, "Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me. So all the people broke off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron." Ex 32:2-3 Notice the use of the phrase “in the ears." That sounds like piercing to me, so there was probably already a practice of piercing their ears. It could be slavery related, as we shall see in another passage. But this is NOT a justification we can use.

Now they use them for the glory of God. “They came, both men and women, as many as had a willing heart, and brought earrings and nose rings, rings and necklaces, all jewelry of gold, that is, every man who made an offering of gold to the LORD.” Ex 35:22

Here is a clear passage on ear piercing, but notice what it means for men. “Then his master shall bring him to the judges. He shall also bring him to the door, or to the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him forever.” Ex 21:6

The Lord speaks. Notice the use of the phrase “in your ears.” "And I put a jewel in your nose, earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown on your head." Ez 16:12 Oh, here we are with that nose ring again!

This is quite a metaphor! “Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold Is a wise rebuker to an obedient ear." Prov 25:12

Nice clothes, fixing our hair, and jewelry are not condemned: "Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel." 1 Pet 3:3

In summary, I see no biblical principles prohibiting pierced ears or nice jewelry. On the contrary, we see several passages in favor of earrings, and pierced ears seem to implied. Modesty in jewelry should prevail as well.

Now, about that nose ring! “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” 1 Thess 5:22 (KJV) If our culture says that a nose ring is a sign of worldliness, I would want to avoid being associated explicitly with the world, but I will not condemn a Christian for wearing one! (I've heard that it feels like you always need a Kleenex!)

Sarah Walston said...
Jen - just because God makes an account of a cultural reality (nose rings for instance) does not mean that God is giving His approval for it. If that is your reasoning, then why doesn't Mark have a couple of wives? ;-)
12:08 AM

Jen said...
No, I must not have made my point very clear. (BTW, due to technical difficulties, the Scripture addresses are not showing up on the post???) So, if you look in Ezekiel 16:12, the Lord says "And I put a jewel in your nose, earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown on your head." That's my clearest defense! (This whole post was a challenge from a friend!)
12:20 AM

Mark Epstein said...
Okay, I'll wade into this one. First, we must employ a defined hermeneutic. Are the verses Jennifer using historical, metaphorical, poetical? All of this makes a difference. For example, the Psalms are poetic songs desgined for ease of memory, since they are set to music. Does that make them less relevant than metaphors or history? No, they just need to be understood in context. On the other hand, I would not rely on a metaphor over history in making an apologia for or against pierced ears. So, what's the point? If we are attempting to make an apologia (argument) for or against pierced ears, body piercing or tattoos, then we should look to those elements of Holy Scripture that are historical and directive in nature (the "thou shall nots," etc.). Once we identify the appropriate genre of Scripture, then we can look at all the Scripture in context (Genesis through Revelation). When we fail to approach Scripture in this manner all sorts of heresies and "interpretations" can abound. I will expand on this in the promised clarification to Jen's other post.
8:46 AM

Sarah Walston said...
See I don't think God ever intended His scriptures to be so hard to understand. If body piercings were a MAJOR concern to Him, HE would have made it clear. It wouldn't take Mark or Jennifer a lot of effort in wading through historical, metaphorical or poetical verses in order to figure God out on this one. That's kind of the "wax and wane" of being stuck here on Earth, isn't it. We are left with our feeble, finite minds to try and decode scripture - while God is sitting up there just shaking His head saying, "GET REAL!" Thankfully, the Theif on the Cross didn't have to study Hermeneutics in order to get into Heaven. Moutains out of molehills is what i have to say about it all - mountains out of molehills. If Natasha wants to pierce her bellybutton - why does it matter to you? She's the one who is going to have to suffer the concequences of her decision one day. One day she WILL regret doing it. I'd be more concerned about WHY she wants to get a belly button ring...isn't that the part God really wants you to focus on?
12:49 PM

Sarah Walston said...
sorry i got my posts mixed up - i'm commenting about belly button rings in the last comment - i guess it's all related.never the less, you did a pretty good job defending your position on pierced ears, jen. i still don't think polygamy is such a bad idea - well intentioned albeit fundamentally flawed. i often say that royce really needs about 4 wives in order for all his needs to be met.... lol....
2:17 PM

Jen said...
Actually, Sarah, body piercing is not a BIG issue for me. Natasha asked me what the Bible says about it, so I decided since I was doing a little research, to blog about what I found. However, both Mark and I do believe that God's Word speaks to ALL of life, and therefore we should always turn to His Word to get His guidance in life. I think the reason God did NOT put a lot of specifics in His Word, but rather principles instead, is that He wanted us to search His Word and to understand His heart. In doing so, we should arrive at God's best for our every day lives.Polygamy? Of all people, Sarah, I would not pick you to make fun of this one! I'm thinking back...
3:09 PM

Mar 26, 2006

Piercing the Flesh

What does God think about body piercings and tattoos? Lev. 19:28 says "Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD." What does "for the dead" mean? I can just see a teenager saying that this body piercing is not "for the dead," it's for me! Although the current trend of body piercings and tattoos is not "for the dead," it is always interesting to me to see how something originated - for the glory of God or was it orchestrated by Satan? When we go back to the roots of customs, traditions, and even holidays, we are often shocked by how they got started. I will post plenty of these on this blog here and there!

So we can clearly see that cutting the flesh, which could mean any number of things, did not begin for the glory of God. And this verse is quite clear on God's stance on tattoos. What about body piercings? Are they "cuttings in your flesh?" "Marks?" They could arguably be in either or both categories, but is that convincing enough for a teenager? This verse is too vague to use as a "Thou shalt not..."

Thus I shall return to a couple of my favorite verses to answer the question of God's view on body piercings (this is other than a simple ear piercing, which is beautifying to a woman if she wears modest earrings). "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s." I Cor. 6:19, 20 "Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." I Cor. 10:31

Is this body piercing glorifying to God? Am I doing this for the glory of God, or for the glory of self? What is my motivation? Would this please Jesus?

Spiritual Victory

The fullness of the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit so controlling your spirit that no spirit that is a wrong spirit is able to do so.

Where there is victory in the spirit, there is far more likely to be victory over outward manifestations.

SM Davis

Plundering the Egyptians

Not being one to throw the baby out with the bath, this is a concept I learned from RC Sproul, Jr. - plundering the Egyptians. When the Israelites left Egypt, God told them "every woman shall ask of her neighbor, namely, of her who dwells near her house, articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing; and you shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians.” Ex. 3:22 It is interesting to see how God uses that same plunder later on for His glory.

God has given to each one gifts, talents, abilities, skills; not just to Christians, but God bestows these things on Christians and non-Christians alike. Does it ever appear to you that some non-Christians use these gifts more faithfully than some Christians? Can we "plunder" the gifts and talents God has blessed others with?

Natasha and I recently had the privilege to go see "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," a Broadway show here at the incredible Majestic Theatre in San Antonio. I went in with fear and trepidation, wondering if I should tread into this worldly representation of God's Word. As I watched the story of Joseph and his eleven brothers unfold against a computerized background that was absolutely breathtaking, and as I listened to the incredibly rich voices resonate with precise clarity, and watched the very agile bodies move seemingly effortlessly around the stage, I was so pleased to find that God's Word truly was being proclaimed - by unbelievers! The story of Joseph's life, although somewhat contemporary and told with great literary license, with a little unexpected humor here and there (OK, a LOT!), was, for the most part, in keeping with God's version. The part about Potiphar's stole the license, but at least "Joseph" and "Mrs. Potiphar" were married in real life! Whenever I watch an actor portray a biblical/Christian role, I wonder if anything sinks in. But whether it does or not, we can plunder the Egyptians, we can enjoy God's Word going forth.

You may know that I have strong feelings about music, so I listened to clips of all the songs before I decided whether or not to go. In all the songs, the voices were crisp and clear, heard well above the music. Superbly done! Every song, and the whole show was a musical so it was 22 songs altogether, was a different genre. There was rock, rap, country-western, African, Italian - you name it, it was there. But I never heard a strong beat or anything I would really object to. You could tell it was rap by the backward ballcap and sunglasses and stance, but the music was mostly just fun! They had a different costume to go with each kind of music, too. Even though it wasn't hymns, we can plunder the Egyptians, we can sing God's Word through different kinds of music (although the nuances of this will be saved for another post!).

Another area that stood out to me was the role of the men and the women in the production. Jacob, Joseph, and his eleven brothers were all clearly men, clearly a man's man, clearly taking the lead in their own families. This being a Broadway show, there were showgirls also (NOT my favorite part of the show!). Sometimes their dress was appropriate, sometimes it was a little lacking in the material world! But it was the girls' roles that really spoke to me. Each girl was a wife to each of the men, and her whole purpose in life was to adore her husband. That's it! Now I really doubt that Broadway intended to portray biblical roles for the men and women, but we can plunder the Egyptians.

I have always been fascinated by quality. I believe that a Christian should always do not only his very best at all times for the Lord, but because whatever we are doing, we are doing for the Lord, our best should be THE best. Christians should shine in their fields! They should always be outstanding in everything they do. I guess only a few people share that belief because I see a lot of second-rate work from most Christians. You will never see a second-rate Broadway show, though. The quality and the technology in this show was superb! I very much enjoyed plundering the Egyptians as I took in detail after detail of nothing but pure, absolute quality!

There are plenty of things in this world that we should not participate in or be a part of, but God did leave us here in this world for many reasons. Let's look for ways we can plunder the Egyptians, sometimes for the glory of God, sometimes for daily living. I thank God for people like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs who opened up a whole new way of spreading the gospel and teaching God's Word. Now that probably was not their main intent when they first began tinkering in the garage, and they may never give God the glory for the abilities He has blessed them with, but we can plunder the Egyptians, for His kingdom's sake!

List of Fours

I’ve been tagged (but I borrowed a slightly different version from another blog!).

Four jobs you have had in your life:

1. Bookkeeper and computers at the Crisis Pregnancy Center
2. Data-entry clerk for Oregon Dept of Transportation (driver’s licenses and tickets, too!)
3. Tax collector (gasoline taxes for Oregon)
4. Nuclear, Chemical, Biological Specialist – US Army

Four movies that made an impression in some way:

1. Fiddler on the Roof: the story of my husband’s ancestors
2. Harvest of Fire: an Amish shunning
3. Saint Maybe: forgiveness doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences
4. Rough Riders: a great way to learn history; why being rich and important is meaningless

Four places you have lived:

1. Scotland, twice briefly
2. Germany – 10 years
3. Oregon – most of my growing up years
4. Colorado Springs

Four TV shows you like to watch:
(So they’re all the DVD version really!)

1. Little House on the Prairie
2. Highway to Heaven
3. Road to Avonlea
4. I Love Lucy

Four places you have been on vacation:

1. Orlando, FL – highly recommend The Holy Land Experience and RC Sproul’s church
2. every place Jennifer W. has lived
3. Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, and historic Virginia
4. Italy

Four websites you visit daily:

1. Friends’ Blogs
2. Earthlink
3. Google
4. Bank

Four of your favorite foods:

1. homemade healthy pizza
2. cottage cheese
3. cooked cabbage
4. turkey bacon

Four cars you have owned:

1. Toyota Tundra
2. Mercury Villager
3. Chrysler LeBaron
4. Jeep Cherokee

Four places you'd rather be right now:

1. In bed where I belong!
2. Should have been camping in Corpus this weekend, but sickness rules
3. In a good church
4. Fellowshiping with good friends

Four things your friends don't know about you:
(Hey! WYSIWYG) I don’t have many secrets, so you may already know these.

1. I used to always want to be a race car driver, until I decided that was irresponsible as a mom.
2. You would have to work VERY HARD to offend me these days.
3. I was a true "wallflower" growing up, almost never speaking to anyone, having very few friends. I didn't even begin to learn about being a friend until I taught a Bible study by Gary Smalley and John Trent about personalities about 10 years ago.
4. I memorized thousands of verses in the Bible BEFORE I became a Christian; but God's Word never returns to Him void, and He continually used those passages to bring my mind back to Him, and eventually my heart.

If you read this, you're tagged!

Mar 25, 2006

Weekly Recipe: Black Bean Soup

Saute in a little oil:
1 chopped large onion
1 c. sliced celery
3 garlic cloves

3 - 6 c. chicken broth or bouillon (depending on the amount of rice you use)
2 cans black beans
1 jar salsa
1 c. diced turkey bacon*
1 - 6 c. cooked rice**
1 T lime juice
1 t. cumin

Heat thoroughly.

*Wellshire Farms has an excellent turkey bacon with no nitrates or nitrites. Available at Whole Foods.
**For easy rice, add 1 ¾ c. boiling water for each cup of dry rice to a casserole dish, like CorningWare, with a lid. Bake at 350 for 50 minutes. Fluff for perfect rice! If making just rice for dinner, add butter and/or seasoning to rice before cooking. You may vary the amount of rice in this recipe, depending on how chunky or thin you want the soup.

Mar 21, 2006

Lorica of Saint Patrick

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness Of the Creator of creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth and His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion and His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection and His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In preachings of the apostles,
In faiths of confessors,
In innocence of virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me;
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's hosts to save me
From snares of the devil,
From temptations of vices,
From every one who desires me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a multitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and evil,
Against every cruel merciless power that opposes my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagan Dom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of women and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul.

Christ shield me today
Against poison,
Against burning,
Against drowning,
Against wounding,
So that reward may come to me in abundance.

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through a confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation

St. Patrick (ca. 377) - thought by many to be the second greatest missionary who ever lived, second only to Paul.

Mar 19, 2006

Christmas in ... March?

We don't celebrate Christmas in our family, but we did notice a similarity yesterday when we celebrated Purim. Purim is the story of Esther in the Bible. Thanks to one lady who is a godly example of what a wife should be, the history of the world was forever changed. Without Esther, the Jews would have been totally annihilated. Without the Jews, there would be no King of the Jews, no Savior of the world, no Jesus. What an incredibly important role in the history of the world! What a terrific story! This story reminds us of the Providence of God. He will always do what He purposes. Satan can never thwart Him, no matter how hard he tries. The annihilation of the Jews has been attempted over and over throughout history, but God has proved Himself faithful every time. In fact, God is faithful to us even when we aren't faithful to Him. Praise be! What a great reason to celebrate!

When we celebrate holidays in our family, we like to celebrate as close to what it says in God's Word as possible. Of course, we do not offer sacrifices and things like that anymore! Here is an excerpt from Esther 9 that tells about Purim, which is NOT one of God's commanded feasts for the Israelites:

And Mordecai wrote these things and sent letters to all the Jews, near and far, who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, to establish among them that they should celebrate yearly the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar, as the days on which the Jews had rest from their enemies, as the month which was turned from sorrow to joy for them, and from mourning to a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and joy, of sending presents to one another and gifts to the poor. So the Jews accepted the custom which they had begun, as Mordecai had written to them, because Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to annihilate them, and had cast Pur (that is, the lot), to consume them and destroy them; but when Esther came before the king, he commanded by letter that this wicked plot which Haman had devised against the Jews should return on his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows. So they called these days Purim, after the name Pur.

Notice that they are to be days of feasting and joy, of sending presents to one another and gifts to the poor. So that's what we do on the 14th of Adar, which was the 14th of March this year. We like to read the story of Esther in one sitting each year as well, usually incorporating it into a play. I read the whole book of Esther, while everyone else acts it out. We always have guests over for this occasion, and they are the actors! As I read, they act out what I'm saying, or I give them a speaking part. It's a fun way to celebrate God's Providence and learn His Word. Mark was gone on Purim this year, so we acted out the story with some good friends on the evening of the 13th (by Jewish reckoning - OK, God's reckoning! - the date starts the evening before). Nearly everyone was female, but most of the parts were male, so they had to do some extra acting this time! Natasha made a great king and Joshua was a good sport.

When Mark got home, on Saturday, we had part 2 of the celebration - feasting and presents! Doesn't this remind you of anything?

We always remember the poor in some way as well, but we will leave that in secret.

Is it mandatory that we celebrate Purim? Is it mandatory that you celebrate Christmas? No, but it sure is a fun way to learn His Word and celebrate the awesome attributes of a Providential God! Posted by Picasa

Mar 18, 2006

How To Use a Microwave

Two years ago, when we went to San Diego for Mark's step-mother's funeral, there were literally hundreds and hundreds of flowers all over the house for the funeral. Mark's father didn't know what to do with them, so Natasha asked if she could dry them. She had heard about using a microwave to dry them, so we gave it a try. One minute, one rose, one microwave up in flames! It arced and spit flames at us as we hurriedly tried to shut the thing down! Kicking myself for having to now buy a new appliance I don't even want, while I had a brand new one at home not being used, we bought Mark's father a new microwave before the day was out.

Fast forward to our home, which came complete with a brand-new built-in microwave when we bought the house. If we removed it, the kitchen would look very odd, not to mention that the range hood is built into the bottom of the microwave. So what we do with it? It works well for melting wax to wax your legs with (but I don't recommend that painful experience!). We use it once in a great while for heating up those homemade rice heating pads. But mostly, it works best for storing placemats in - until a friend decides to use it to heat up pizza!

Here's a great experiment: Take 2-3 plants, identical in every way, and place them side by side inside. Water one with tap water, one with microwaved water, and one with any other kind of water you'd like to experiment with, if desired. Watch what happens. Remember that what the water does to your plants is what it does to your body as well.

Microwaves not only zap ALL the nutrients out of whatever you are cooking, they cause free radicals to form as well. I've seen too many people die from cancer. That's not for me.

Life without a microwave is NOT easy. I will not pretend it is. But it's not really hard either. My favorite way of warming things up is in the dehydrator. We have an Excalibur dehydrator that has an adjustable thermostat up to 185 deg. I often defrost foods in there. It is especially great for breads and bread products. They taste just as fresh as when we made them. I can warm up butter (I MELT it on the stove or in the oven if I'm preheating the oven anyway). I use it to raise bread dough at a perfect temperature. We have a WhirlyPop popcorn stovetop popcorn maker (I recommend the stainless steel version) for popcorn. It takes 2-3 minutes for a large batch and never burns. It also has a little butter cup that drips butter while you are popping for some incredibly good popcorn! I boil water in a kettle. Mostly I just do everything the old-fashioned way - heat. Once I got used to it, I didn't mind it at all.

Hey, life without a microwave is really pretty good! And I don't have to worry about leaving the butter knife in the butter dish!

A Great Stress Reliever

I've been studying a lot about stress recently, and there are LOTS of things to consider, but there is one factor that tends to stand out to me - rest. How much sleep do we need? The surprising answer to me is - enough! Enough for what? Enough to wake up well rested and refreshed and ready to jump out of bed to greet the day! How can we tell if we've had enough sleep? Our bodies do not oversleep; we don't sleep more than we NEED. When we have enough sleep, we will naturally wake up refreshed. If we have to use an alarm clock to wake up in the morning, or we have to drag ourselves out of bed, or we just feel like rolling over and going back to sleep, we have not had enough sleep.

This past summer, I had extreme adrenal exhaustion (with chronic fatigue), so I decided to try getting some extra sleep. I basically backed out of life for a while to recover. I slept in every morning (mostly) until I woke naturally. At first, I often slept 12 hours a day. I was REALLY tired! Over time, my sleep time naturally grew less and less to the point that I am sleeping less now than I ever have in my adult life. I also don't feel tired and dragging nearly as much as I always used to during the day. Sleep is so healing to our bodies.

I have used this principle with my children as well. I know some mothers who keep tight schedules for their families, including not only what time their children go to bed (and nap), but also what time they must get up. I've heard several moms ask why it's so hard to wake their children on time. Maybe they just aren't getting enough sleep. When children are growing, they need more sleep. Teenagers need even more! I let my children sleep, but I watch for any tendency to lay in bed in the morning also. I don't want to foster laziness! I do want them to greet each day with a smile!

Our bodies thrive best when they are well rested. I am able to do so much more now than I did when I was sleep-deprived every night. And I am not nearly so stressed either! Are you feeling stressed? Too much to do? Dragging? Don't feel quite right? Relieve your stress and get some rest!

A Great Air Purifier

Do you live and breathe in toxic air? Have you painted your house in the last year? New carpeting, wallpaper, laminate flooring, drywall, insulation, or other man-made products full of toxic chemicals? Have you bought new upholstered furniture, pressed-wood products, new clothes or shoes? Is your home environment outgassing? Or worse yet, is it a manufactured home? Most of us live in the city, which is toxic in and of itself, but even if we carefully choose a place in the country, reality is that we live in the modern world - a very toxic world.

There is good news about a brand new air purifier, though! Well, brand new, in that each plant will be brand new to your home! Live plants are the best air purifiers known to mankind. We all know that we breathe out carbon dioxide, which plants need to breathe in, and vice versa. This element exchange cleans the air around us and them. The more you fill your home with live plants, the purer your home air will become and, hopefully, you'll feel a little better.

If nothing else, it's a nice way to take dominion over God's wonderful creation!

Mar 17, 2006

Child Abuse?

We had several friends over for a big garage sale last weekend. Joshua locked himself into the dog cage, which was on top of the refrigerator, with the cat, to keep her from running away. While he was up there, he would surreptiously drop items on customers. People starting looking at him sorrowfully, especially when I came out, opened up the cage door, and hurriedly gave him a plate of food. There were whispers of "Should we call CPS?"

All in all, it was a great garage sale, even though Windcrest "forgot" to advertise in the papers! Thanks to all the friends who came over to help and to sell and to have fun! Posted by Picasa

Red, White, and Blue Onions?

I was in the middle of making spaghetti sauce the other day, when I got interrupted. I had already put fresh onions and garlic in the crockpot and then I poured fresh tomatoes on top, but hadn't stirred them in yet. When I returned an hour later, the onions had turned TURQUOISE! They tasted just fine. I am guessing it was a chemical reaction, but can't find any info about it. Does anyone know what this is? Posted by Picasa

Mar 16, 2006

Throw out the Microwave!

Ten Reasons to Throw out your Microwave Oven

From the conclusions of the Swiss, Russian and German scientific clinical studies, we can no longer ignore the microwave oven sitting in our kitchens. Based on this research, we will conclude this article with the following:
1). Continually eating food processed from a microwave oven causes long term - permanent - brain damage by "shorting out" electrical impulses in the brain [de-polarizing or de-magnetizing the brain tissue].
2). The human body cannot metabolize [break down] the unknown by-products created in microwaved food.
3). Male and female hormone production is shut down and/or altered by continually eating microwaved foods.
4). The effects of microwaved food by-products are residual [long term, permanent] within the human body.
5). Minerals, vitamins, and nutrients of all microwaved food is reduced or altered so that the human body gets little or no benefit, or the human body absorbs altered compounds that cannot be broken down.
6). The minerals in vegetables are altered into cancerous free radicals when cooked in microwave ovens.
7). Microwaved foods cause stomach and intestinal cancerous growths [tumors]. This may explain the rapidly increased rate of colon cancer in America.
8). The prolonged eating of microwaved foods causes cancerous cells to increase in human blood. 9). Continual ingestion of microwaved food causes immune system deficiencies through lymph gland and blood serum alterations.
10). Eating microwaved food causes loss of memory, concentration, emotional instability, and a decrease of intelligence.

Have you tossed out your microwave oven yet?

After you throw out your microwave you can use a toaster oven as a replacement. It works well for most and is nearly as quick.
The use of artificial microwave transmissions for subliminal psychological control, a.k.a. "brainwashing", has also been proven. We're attempting to obtain copies of the 1970's Russian research documents and results written by Drs. Luria and Perov specifying their clinical experiments in this area.

Written by Anthony Wayne and Lawrence Newell ©Copyright 2005 Dr. Joseph Mercola. Copied with permission.

Your Idiot Husband!

No, I am NOT a male basher, nor a disrespectful wife! This is RC Sproul's interpretation of Colossians 3:18 - "Wives, submit yourselves to your idiot husbands..." The Greek word that is normally translated "your own" (as in "your own husbands") is the word idios. The normal translation is correct, meaning something pertaining to your own self; however RC Sproul's thoughts really bring it to life. Idios is where we get idiot, which we would NEVER use toward our husbands, of course, but it also is where we get idiosyncrasies. Therefore, what this verse is really saying is "Wives, submit yourselves to your husband's idiosyncrasies." Now that is the clearest message I've ever heard on submission!

Did God Create Splenda?

When I am considering what substances to put into my family's bodies, I always ask myself three simple questions, which I learned from Rex Russell:
  1. Did God create this for food? (and do I know exactly what He did create for food?)
  2. Is this food in a chemically unaltered state from that which God created? (refined, purified, homogenized, pasteurized, GMOs, chemicals, preservatives, anything I can't pronounce, etc. Cooking, cutting, juicing, etc. are all chemically unaltered forms of God's created foods for us.)
  3. Am I addicted? (sugar, salt, fat, caffeine)

I used to be very confused when I read different health "experts," as one would say soy is good for you and another would say soy is bad for you, eggs, artificial sweeteners, etc. Now I am perfectly clear on whether or not I choose to put anything into my body that God did not design to be there.

Did God create Splenda? Click here for more information on the harmfulness of Splenda.

Healthy Sugar

There are many different ways to view “healthy” sugar.  Someone asked recently, “Which is better: raw or organic sugar?”  That is similar to asking, “Which is better: apples or oranges?”  I’ve done a little research and found out a few things about cane sugar in particular.  I believe the most important question to ask when looking at sugar cane products is how refined is it?  We all know that ordinary white sugar is highly refined and, therefore, toxic to our bodies.  Everyday brown sugar is only very slightly better, having had a small amount of molasses added to that highly refined white sugar.

But there are LOTS of other choices out there now, so we don’t need to poison our children on a daily basis!  I will start at the top of what I found in my research.  Apparently, there is a NEW sugar cane product that will be out soon (at least I haven’t seen it yet), that is purported to be the highest in nutrients and the least processed.  Shakkar, an Indian dried cane juice, is simply a pressed cane extract.  Nothing more.  I’ll have to check it out!

Next, and what I mostly use, is Rapadura, in which the sugar cane has been squeezed, dried, and ground, retaining most of the nutrients.  This is actually the old, original recipe for Sucanat, which ended up being sold several times over to other companies, all of which changed the original Sucanat recipe to what it is now:  separated sucrose (white sugar) and molasses (which is the first step of refining white sugar before they add all kinds of chemicals, toxins, and other lethal agents!).  They then dry the separated sucrose and molasses, and reunite them in the current Sucanat recipe, which means that it is a good choice for sugar still, but with slightly less nutrients and is slightly more refined.  Rapadura and Sucanat are both recommended.  Other names for Rapadura, or a very pure, unrefined sugar are jaggery, gur, panela, and piloncillo, which may be found in import stores.

Then there is a whole list of “healthy” or “natural” sugars which are somewhat misnomers.  They are definitely healthier than white or brown sugar because they do not use any chemicals or toxins in their refining process, but they are a little more refined, generally using high temperatures, even though they are often called “raw.”  The most common of these, which are all similar in nutrient content and amount of refining are raw sugar (Sugar in the Raw), turbinado, demerara, evaporated cane juice, and muscavado.  I use these once in a while, such as when I am serving something sweet to someone who will NOT appreciate my expensive good quality sugars or if I want a certain outcome, such as Sugar in the Raw in my iced tea, which is very good.

The second thing to consider in cane sugar products is whether or not it is organic.  That question applies to sugar in the same way it applies to everything else.  Do you care whether or not there are pesticides used in growing this food item?  You can get these healthy versions of sugar both in organic and not.  If it is available, and the price is reasonable, organic is better.  But the amount of refining is of FAR more importance than whether or not it is organic.

Although I still keep a lid on how much sugar I allow my children, I feel much better knowing that I am using a plant in the form God intended it to be consumed – whole, pure, and unrefined.  Well, mostly!

Have a sweet day – guilt-free!

Mar 13, 2006

The Decision Teeter-Totter

Whenever I make decisions in life, I am always balancing one aspect against another, or maybe two or three, like a teeter-totter. There are generally four areas that I often try to balance, for instance, in the area of food: time, money, nutrition, and quality. I have to ask myself which of these areas outweigh the others? For example, I believe that raw milk cheese is the cheese that has the highest nutrition, therefore nutrition is the #1 factor for me in that one area. Now, since I now have access to raw, organic, fresh milk, at a very reasonable price, I could save money by making my own cheese. However, that would take a lot of my own time, which I am not willing to give up just to make my own cheese. Therefore time is more important to me than money in this particular case, so I will continue to buy my raw cheese for the time being, which also happens to be probably a better quality cheese than I could make anyway. So, on my decision teeter-totter of cheese, nutrition, time, and quality balance money to provide me with a good quality raw milk cheese!

Another way this concept of balance works is in buying durable goods. I took my children to the store once to buy a cover for an ironing board. They were conveniently marked with one to five stars, five being the best quality. Of course, five stars also was the most expensive, but five stars also lasted ten years, while one star would only last one year. So we added up the cost of buying ten - one stars (one each year for ten years) or one - five star. The one stars cost much more. The five stars had much thicker padding, had a much nicer material, were obviously stronger, and even had a much nicer design. It very often saves money in the long run if you spend more money up front to buy a higher quality item of something that is durable. It doesn't necessarily follow that you have to buy the most expensive item, or even the best quality item. Each purchase will need to be balanced carefully on the decision teeter-totter, and weighed to find which aspects of each decision are the most important, which aspects outweigh the others.


Mar 11, 2006

BS: The Secret Ingredient

(3/13/06 - OOPS! I accidentally doubled the amount of sugar here! I have corrected the error below.)

I have never made sweetened iced tea (regular black tea) in my life, so I actually went searching for a recipe this week so we could sell tea at our yard sale. Everything kept saying "sweeten to taste," but I needed to have some type of figure to start with! We eventually decided on a ratio of 3/4 cup (healthy) sugar to 1 gallon of tea. But one recipe I found had a secret ingredient which was touted to take away that bitter aftertaste so typical of black tea: one pinch of baking soda. We experimented on ourselves first - and it worked! This is the best iced tea I've ever had! (Our process, should you be so inclined: add 2 quarts boiling water to 4 large iced tea bags (or 8 small tea bags), steep 20 minutes and remove tea bags. Immediately add 3/4 c. healthy sugar and pinch of baking soda, and stir until dissolved. This makes a concentrate. When ready, add 2 more quarts cold water to make a full gallon and serve over ice, if desired. Refreshing!

Mar 5, 2006

Overcoming Adrenal Fatigue

For years I thought I had chronic fatigue, but this last summer, I came across a book that changed my life: Adrenal Fatigue by James L. Wilson.  This book not only clearly describes what adrenal fatigue is, but it has an extensive questionnaire to help you find out if this is your situation, including a section to help you figure out what is causing your own adrenal fatigue and how severe it is, and several other tests to help verify your questionnaire.  The second part of the book devotes a chapter to each of the different aspects of adrenal fatigue, giving both stories and possible solutions for each cause.  Therefore, everyone would have a different life “prescription” for recovering from adrenal fatigue.

By last summer, I had extreme adrenal burnout.  Now, I am almost back to normal.  If you are feeling stressed in life, which usually causes physical problems, consider checking out this book.  I thank God for using many different things to bring healing into my life.

Nifty Gadget: Lettuce Knife

If you haven't yet discovered how valuable a good quality lettuce knife can be, let me share with you about one of my favorite gadgets! A lettuce knife is plastic. I know it doesn't sound like it could actually cut anything, but it works wonders on lettuce! After spending years tearing lettuce piece by piece by piece, day after day, the lettuce knife is responsible for making salad prep enjoyable once again, saving me many precious minutes for every salad I make. Do you ever despair of serving rusty lettuce? The lettuce knife will come to your rescue. I have used it to cut lettuce which still looks fresh several days after cutting (although it is not recommended to let salad sit that long!).

Here's how I use it: I wash the lettuce as a whole first. After draining, I cut strips in one direction, then turn them to cut across in the other direction. Then I put them into a salad spinner for nice, crisp, dry lettuce. A whole head done in 1-2 minutes!

Here's the key: get a good quality knife (Bed, Bath, and Beyond, for example) that is one solid piece of plastic. The first one I tried had a handle attached to the blade and it quickly broke in half. Posted by Picasa


These are really just industrial-strength hearing protection that Alicia usually wears to help control her panic attacks. I don't know if it just helps filter the background noise out or whether the pressure on her head is comforting to her, but they sure do help calm her down when she is not capable of controlling her emotions. I'd be interested in seeing if this would help other moderately to severely disabled children. Posted by Picasa

Weekly Recipe: Pineapple Carrot Cake

My children made this for me for my birthday:

Pineapple Carrot Cake

20 oz. can crushed pineapple, well drained
1 c. soft butter
2 c. healthy sugar (Rapadura, Sucanat)
4 eggs
1 lb. carrots, grated
1 c. raisins, plumped
2 t. vanilla
3 c. soft wheat pastry flour
2 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. ginger
½ t. salt

Soak raisins in very warm water. Press all juice out of pineapple with back of spoon.
Cream butter and sugar well.
Beat in eggs.
Beat in pineapple, carrots, drained raisins, and vanilla.
Combine dry ingredients and add to mixture a little at a time until well blended.
Pour into a well greased 13X9 pan. Bake at 350 for 50-60 min. until toothpick comes out clean. After cool, spread with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
(This is my favorite frosting for everything! Orange or lime work well, too.)

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
½ c. butter, softened
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 t. fresh grated lemon peel
1 ½ c. powdered sugar (Rapadura or Sucanat)

Cream butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Beat in lemon juice and peel. Gradually beat in powdered sugar until well blended and smooth.


"When the devil wants to eliminate a freedom, he forges a movement to demand personal rights. The curious thing is, focusing on individual rights ends up in a loss of freedom. Demanding rights rather than concentrating on moral responsibilities always promotes rebellion. In contrast, God targets our personal responsibility and service, which promotes revival and true freedom. Go with some self-centered crusade for personal rights and all too often you end up with laws that destroy whatever it was these rights were supposed to protect." Winkie Pratney

Birthday Roast

We rarely eat meat in our family, but birthdays are sometimes an occasion when we will eat meat. For my birthday, Natasha prepared a delicious pot roast in the crockpot, which is what we use to cook almost all meats. A crockpot will make meat so tender and juicy! Here is our secret recipe:

1 roast, any kind, preferably organic, free range, Soaked - what??? (directions below), all cover fat trimmed (large pieces of fat on the outside of the cut of meat) - put in bottom of crockpot
Cover with cut up potatoes, celery, carrots, and onions.
Cover whole thing with Amy's mushroom soup (secret ingredient!). If you want a thicker gravy, you can mix the soup with flour, cornstarch or tapioca.
Cover and cook on low for 10-12 hours. Roast will be VERY tender. We just break it up and mix it into the vegetables to make it like a stew, but you can serve it like a roast as well.

One of our secrets is soaking the meat. Why and how do I soak the meat? In Leviticus 17, God had some instructions: 13 “Whatever man of the children of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who hunts and catches any animal or bird that may be eaten, he shall pour out its blood and cover it with dust; 14 for it is the life of all flesh. Its blood sustains its life. Therefore I said to the children of Israel, ‘You shall not eat the blood of any flesh, for the life of all flesh is its blood. Whoever eats it shall be cut off.’

I know we are no longer under the law, but one thing I have learned is that God had our physical health in mind every time He instructed the Israelites regarding food. It's interesting that God tells us that the life of the flesh is its blood. What do we find in the blood of animals? Toxins, parasites, viruses, waste material, etc. Not only is getting rid of the blood God's best for our bodies, this method also really tenderizes meats as well, including poultry.

Here's how: soak meat in cool water for at least half an hour. Sometimes I soak it all night; it doesn't really matter. Then put the meat someplace where it can drain. I use a small rack in the same pan I soaked the meat. Cover the outside of the meat with salt (Kosher salt is cheap and supposedly works best.) Cover. Let the blood drain for at least 30 minutes. Rinse and/or soak to get rid of the salt. Alternatively, a second-best method is to just soak the meat in salt water. Getting rid of any blood is better than eating the meat with the blood in it, and it really tastes so much better, too! You may have to get accustomed to the gray meat, rather than the bright red you are used to, but the grayer it is, the less blood it contains. It takes a little planning time, but it is well worth it!

Mar 3, 2006

Experimenting with the Camera

Posted by Picasa

Good Clean Fun!

For my birthday, a good friend came over and taught me how to make cold-process soap!
What a great gift!

First, we added lye to room temperature rain water and stirred and stirred as the temperate quickly rose to almost boiling!

Michelle warmed up all the oils.

When they were all EXACTLY the same temperature, we mixed them together and stirred (and stirred and stirred!) for about an hour, until saponification took place.


Posted by Picasa

Good Clean Fun Part 2

Adding essential oils. The house smells wonderful!

Pouring it into the mold, where it sits covered and, hopefully, undisturbed, for 24 hours.

Joshua helping cut and remove the bars of soap. Alicia thinks it's cheese and tries to eat it.

Natasha putting the bars in the dehydrator, where they will cure as we turn them each day.
In six weeks, they will be ready.
 Posted by Picasa