Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy 4th of July!

Lately I've been pondering the importance of studying history. I took a break from reading history for a while, not intentionally, but it just happened that way for lots of reasons I think, that I might expound on later in another post. Anyway, as I've read other books by Christian authors and have really loved reading the Bible over the last year, I've wondered if it is really worth while at all to read history and want to study again. I LOVE history, so much so that I got a Master's degree in it. Lately, I've sunk my nose deep into a David McCullough book about Teddy Roosevelt, Mornings on Horseback, and have thoroughly enjoyed it. But sometimes I wonder what's the point in the grand scheme of things of God's glory and the advancement of His Kingdom? Is it just for simple pleasure or interest or is there purpose in looking back? I don't want to waste the precious time on earth just pursuing something only for interest and pleasure.

Eric and I have talked about it and it seems studying and reading history does have merit. In the Bible, there is an ever-present looking back at what God has done, for His glory. It points to His love for His people and His rescue of them, for His name sake. What God has done throughout the Old Testament gives context for what is in the New Testament. Though we don't look back on history quite the same way as the Israelites would have there is a definite need to look back and see the hand of God on history, on the rise and fall of kingdoms and rulers. It gives context to the world we live in now and the forces of change we experience. It should be a guide to keep us from going down the same wrong roads individually and as a nation and world.

Here's a quote I came across just today in a very odd place - quoted in a Christian homeschooling book. It is in a chapter about how to teach history and it's importance! I thought it was very fitting for what I've been pondering.

If we look familiarly into the daily life of our fellow-men thousands of years ago, it is to find them toiling at the same problems which perplex us; suffering the same conflict of passion and principle; failing, it may be, for our warning, or winning for our encouragement; in any case, reaching results which ought to prevent our repeating their mistakes. The national questions which fill our newspapers were discussed long ago in the Grove, the Agora, and the Forum... and no man whose vote...may sway in ever so small a degree the destinies of our Republic, can  afford to be ignorant of what has already been so wisely and fully accomplished. Present tasks can only be clearly seen and worthily performed in light of long experience; and that liberal acquaintance with history which, under a monarchical government, might safely be left as an ornament and privilege of the few, is here (in the US) the duty of the many. Preface to Thalmeier's Ancient History

We are citizens of the nations in which we were born or reside, by God's design. We should be good citizens and good stewards of the responsibility we are given to be good citizens, especially in our own country (the US) where its existence stands on the informed vote of its citizens. And much of that hinges on knowing the history, the "long experience" of our nation and of the thousands of years past. "No man... can afford to be ignorant of what has already been so wisely and fully accomplished."

And when the government in which we participate fails morally on an issue, we can be used of God as a light to bring about change, by being well-informed of the past which sheds light on the present wrong. For instance, William Wilberforce, a man who passionately loved the Lord, fought a hard battle to eventually end the long history of the slave trade in the British Empire.

Most importantly,  history points directly at our very definite need for a Savior. Man has tried through the ages, through all kinds of changing philosophies to make his own way and always it is a failure. Even in the US, though our nation has been a great one, and it's founding causes and virtues are noble and good and somewhat founded on the basis of God's law, it was/is still an effort by man to make life better through man's invention. Our satisfaction and hope does not lie in our national freedom and individual political liberty. It comes from freedom in Christ. As followers of Christ, we are free from the burden, not of an empirical monarch, but from our own heavy, tyrannical sin. He has fought the hard battle for us and won, once and for all. Our ultimate citizenship is in heaven, with Christ and His bride the church.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Favorite Breakfast Recipes, Part 2

Hi Again!

I didn't get back to my blog as soon as I wanted but it is better than it has been!

Here are some more of our favorite everyday breakfast fares. These are eggy breakfasts. I wanted to put a picture of the breakfast pie but alas, that didn't work out. I put it in the oven, went upstairs and 2 1/2 hours later (this was in the evening) came down and heard the oven beeping. Needless to say it was toast and definitely not picture worthy. Eric said it looked like fudge brownies!

Breakfast Pie
This is a delicious unique "pie" that we first ate at the Eastholm Bed & Breakfast in Cascade, Co, just west of Colorado Springs, at the base of Pike's Peak. I asked for the recipe because I liked it so much and the owner gave it to me! It is really easy to make. We eat it about once a month or so and I've also made it for brunch-time baby showers. When I make it at home, I usually half the recipe, unless we have company or if I make it on the weekends now. Half the recipe is enough for the kids and I, but not enough if Eric is with us, especially if we want leftovers. Wesley can eat as much or more than I do at times! I have also made this with almond meal and gluten-free flour in place of the flour in the Bisquick. I like to serve this with bacon.

1 stick of butter
2 lbs small curd cottage cheese (4 cups)
6 eggs
6T sugar (I use only half that)
1 cup Bisquick (my homemade version - 1 cup flour, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 TBS butter)

Melt butter & pour over cottage cheese in a large bowl. Add eggs, sugar and Bisquick, mixing well after each addition. Pour entire mixture into a 3 qt rectangular pyrex dish (lightly greased). Sprinkle with cinnamon & sugar, if desired. Bake at 350 F fro 45 minutes. Cut into squares & serve with fresh berries or fruit topped with plain or vanilla yogurt.

Family Omelet with Spinach and Cheddar
This is one I had forgotten about but made again recently. It is so easy that I'm going to put it back into the breakfast rotation. The original directions use parchment lining a sheet pan to roll up the omelet, but I find that takes too many steps so I changed it some.

Olive Oil for pan
1 cup of milk
1/3 cup all purpose or whole wheat pastry flour (almond meal or other substitutes are fine)
8 large eggs
1 TBS Dijon mustard
salt & pepper to taste
8 oz frozen spinach, thawed & drained (about 1 cup)
1-1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish with olive oil. In a bowl whisk together milk and flour. Add eggs, Dijon, 1 tsp salt 1/4 tsp pepper. Pour into pan. Sprinkle spinach on top. Bake until edges are set 15-18 minutes. Sprinkle with cheddar and bake for 6-9 minutes. Slice and serve. This is also good with bacon and/or toast or muffins.

You probably don't need a recipe for this. But maybe someone out there is like me. I've tried all kinds of recipes for making omelets and none of them really turned out very pretty and were too complicated for this no-fuss-please cook. However, lately I found a simple recipe in a book called The Everlasting Meal. And also, my father in law makes good omelets. I've learned some from him too!

a bit of cream
cheese of your choice, shredded or thinly sliced
other ingredients as desired (red onion, peppers, chives, basil, mint, bacon, etc)
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in your pan. In a small bowl or measuring cup, beat desired amount of eggs with a bit of cream. Pour into your pan and scramble around a bit and then let it spread out. Then pull the sides away so that runny egg can run to the edges. Once all the runny part has set, add your other ingredients as desired. I sometimes cook the red onion before I cook the omelets. (I'm really in love with red onions at the moment!) Then lower the temp a bit (or take off the heat if you have an awful electric stove like mine), cover the pan with a lid for a bit to ensure the top of your omelet gets cooked through without burning the bottom (I still over cook the bottom a lot!). Then fold in half and slip onto a plate. Yummy!

NOTE: For my children, I only make 1-egg omelets. These are easier and super quick! I simply crack an egg in the pan, stir it around a bit with some cream (or I just leave it out) and let the runny parts fill in. I sprinkle with cheese and maybe some chives or garlic and fold it in half and serve.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Favorite Breakfast Recipes, Part 1

I've haven't written much in the last year or so, but I hope to write more. I like to write and share at least a few people read here. So, I thought I'd start with something easy.

So, we are trying to eliminate as much processed food as possible. However, I am not being a Nazi about it! At first when I have an idea to do something I just jump in whole hog and then burn out, beat myself up and get frustrated, feel like a failure, etc, etc, etc. You'd think by now I would learn that this is my pattern and go little bits at a time with a big endeavor/lifestyle change! But alas, I still do it! That has been the case with trying to not eat processed food (and just about every other endeavor I've tried) and would feel bad for feeding Catherine Multigrain Cheerios which besides bananas and strawberries and milk with molasses, has to be her favorite food! After several falls down this road, I've lightened up a little and decided that I'll just go a little at a time and if we never get rid of the Cheerios, it will be ok!

Catherine enjoying her oatmeal!

After so much reading and research and scouring of the internet and books about food and sugar, toxins, pesticides, organics, etc., etc, I've come to realize that something bad can be said about almost everything we eat, even the whole unprocessed food found on the perimeters of the grocery store. Yes, there are some really bad things I don't want to touch, but definitely not all.

Take eggs for instance. For years we've heard that eggs are bad, they raise cholesterol, etc. But I've read lately that that has been proven not to be the case. And in fact we need cholesterol for our brains and hormones to function properly. Yes, some people have high cholesterol but from what I've read there are other factors coming into play from a myriad of malfunctions that cause this, one of them being our processed food-sugar laden -Western diet, not from eating a pure food like eggs.

But then, what kind of eggs? There are so many options! Just normal? Cage-free? Pastured? Unpasteurized? Vegetarian fed? Added Omega 3???? It is really ridiculous!!!! And this is just for eggs! There are this many options for most of our food! No wonder I almost despise grocery shopping and menu planning. What kind of eggs do I buy? Well, I'd love to buy the ones from pastured chickens, that have been able to run around in the grass eating bugs and worms and seeds and all things that chickens are supposed to eat in the fresh air like the chickens that used to roam around in their yard down the road from us in the village in Lebanon, beside the donkey in the field next door. :) Not cooped up tightly in an artificial environment where they can hardly move! BUT, these pastured eggs are very expensive! So, I've tested a lot of different eggs and I've hit a middle of the road priced egg that I like. I picked the ones that have the brightest yellow yolk. That means there's lots of good stuff in there. These were not from the amish farms or the local farms, but just the Whole Foods brand, not organic eggs.

Trying to buy the purest food can be STRESSFUL and EXPENSIVE, so, I'll do what I can and not fret about it.

All that to say, breakfast has been relatively easy to go unprocessed for us. Yes, we do still eat cereal occasionally, mostly on Sunday mornings when we are in more of a hurry. It is usually some sort of Cheerio type cereal of varying brands with as little sugar as possible along with Rice Chex and/or Barbara's Oat Crunch that I get at Whole Foods or Natural Grocers. But usually I try to add some sort of protein like bacon, sausage, nuts, etc.

But here is out normal routine. On Monday, Wednesday and Fridays, I try to have some sort of oatmeal dish. This normally is comprised of an oatmeal mix I make up ahead of time that has mostly organic quick oats, some cinnamon, chopped pecans, naturally sweetened cranberries and some salt. Let's be honest. I can't eat oatmeal without the salt! Oatmeal has been one of those things that I have a hard time getting down without lots of added ingredients! So, I scoop that mix into our bowls, slap a slab of salted butter in each bowl along with a bit of maple syrup and sometimes a scoop of pumpkin or butternut squash puree. Then I pour hot water over it all, mix it up and let it sit for a few minutes. While that sits, I heat up some chicken apple sausage. (I know many say that microwaves are bad and I would probably agree but I just haven't made it that far down this journey to be able to eliminate it altogether!) Then I add bananas to fare and that is our meal for all of us for at least a few days a week. All my kids love it and me too. Eric gets a variation in that I put a 1/2 cup scoop of my oatmeal mix in a snack bag that he takes to work. He heats it up in water and puts honey on it.

Another oatmeal dish I make from time to time is baked oatmeal. Here is my recipe for that. It is a combination of my sister's recipe and one from Simply in Season, a cookbook I've grown to love and use often.

Baked Oatmeal for a Crowd (or for a family with children & husband that eat a lot!)

Preheat Oven to 350F.

Dry Ingredients: Mix together in a large bowl-
4 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup brown sugar (or sucanat or raw sugar) - you can use less!
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup total of nuts, seeds & dried fruit of your choice, in any combination.

Wet Ingredients: In a separate bowl, mix together -
2 cups of milk (any kind you like!)
3 eggs
4 TBS coconut oil or olive oil or melted butter (1/4 cup)
1/2 cup each applesauce and pumpkin or butternut squash puree or any 1 cup combo or single.
2 tsp vanilla

Combine wet and dry ingredients. Spread into a 9x13 inch pan. Bake at 350F for about 45 minutes.

I've also seen recipes where you can take crumble up this baked oatmeal and heat it in the oven again until it is toasted and then use it like cereal. Put some in a bowl and pour milk over it and voila! We haven't tried that yet though.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Happy Mother's Day

Hi Moms,

Here is a link to a devotional that I thought was a much needed reminder for me as a mom of young children. I hope you find it encouraging! And even if you aren't a mom to young children, I think this can be a trap that many of us fall into - finding our identity in something other than Christ and trying to perform in that identity. Enjoy!


Friday, January 30, 2015

A Beautiful Prayer for the New Year

I read this on one of my friends private blogs who serves in a country in Central Asia. I thought would be good to share - a great prayer for the New Year, to pray all throughout the year!

Great God,
In public and private, in sanctuary and home, may my life be steeped in prayer, filled with the spirit of grace and supplication, each prayer perfumed with the incense of atoning blood.
Help me, defend me, until from praying ground I pass to the realm of unceasing praise. Urged by my need, invited by thy promises, called by thy Spirit, I enter thy presence, worshipping thee with godly fear, awed by thy majesty, greatness, glory, but encouraged by thy love. 
I am all poverty as well as as all guilt, having nothing of my own with which to repay thee, but I bring Jesus to thee in the arms of faith, pleading his righteousness to offset my iniquities, rejoicing that he will weigh down the scales from me, and satisfy thy justice.
I bless thee that great sin draws out great grace, that, although the least sin deserves infinite punishment because done against an infinite God, yet there is mercy for me, for where guilt is most terrible, there thy mercy in Christ is most free and deep. 
Bless me by revealing to me more of his saving merits, by causing thy goodness to pass before me, by speaking peace to my contrite heart; strengthen me to give thee no rest until Christ shall reign supreme within me, in every thought, word, and deed, in a faith that purifies the heart, overcomes the world, works by love, fastens me to thee, and ever clings to the cross.  - From Valley of Vision "Meeting God."

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

It Is Well - A Real "Let It Go" Song

Here is a true "Let it go song"! I've had to watch Frozen twice to get some of the better points out of it but I still DO NOT like the "Let it go song!"

You have to listen about a third way through to hear the "let it go" part, but it's worth it. This captures the true essence of letting go. Letting go is about letting go of our own control and putting our complete trust in Christ in everything and knowing that in letting go, "it is well with my soul."

This is shared from my friend Chris's play list on Youtube, whose wife, Kelsey went home to Jesus this past July.

Enjoy the other songs on the list too!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

No Other Name

The last few days have been very reflective. Losing a close friend really makes you rethink a lot of things and ponder deeply the things you believe and build your life upon. I have had times in my life where I've had to think deeply about my faith because it was profoundly shaken. I am thankful for those times because now I stand on a firm foundation of faith and I haven't had to wrestle so much with God. Though I have wrestled some, God has made many of the truths of the gospel and His character more vivid and real and have given me great comfort - like His grace and love to send a Savior so that our sin doesn't make death a finality but rather is a transition to eternal life face to face with our dear Jesus if we have made Him Lord over our life. Like His sovereignty that has control over all things even when it seems like the effects (like disease and suffering and famine, etc)  of sin are victorious - His purposes are higher than all things and are for our good and His glory. Sin isn't victorious in the end. Jesus Christ wins! It has made me long for heaven more, to be free of sin and sorrow and the mess of this world but also to see a greater purpose for myself on this earth and to recognize that life is super short. I don't want to waste it. I hold the good news of the gospel much more dear now. And I am comfortingly confronted with the bigness and grandness and glory of God.

There is so much more I can say but I'll end there for now. I bought a couple of cds the day after Kelsey's celebration service. One of them is Hillsong's No Other Name. I've listened to it over and over and over because every song exalts the name of Jesus. Here are two songs that I've had on repeat a lot because of their comforting message of who God is and the work that Christ has done on the cross.

No Other Name

One Name holds weight above them all
His Fame outlasts the earth He formed
His praise resounds beyond the stars
And echoes in our hearts
The Greatest One of all

His Face shines brighter than the sun
His Grace as boundless as His love
He Reigns with healing in His wings
The Kind above all kings.
The Greatest One of all

Lift up your eyes see the King has come
Light of the world
Reaching out for us
There is no other Name
There is no other Name
Jesus Christ our God

Seated on high the undefeated One
Mountains bow down as we lift Him up
There is no other Name
There is no other Name
Jesus Christ our God

Find hope when all the world seems lost
Behold the triumph of the cross
His power has trampled death and grave
Our life found in His name
The Greatest Name of all

The earth will shake and tremble before Him
Chains will break as heaven and earth sing
Holy is the Name
Holy is the Name of Jesus, Jesus, Jesus

This I Believe (The Creed)

Our Father everlasting
The all creating One
God Almighty
Through Your Holy Spirit
Conceiving Christ the Son
Jesus our Savior

Our Judge and our Defender
Suffered and crucified
Forgiveness is in You
Descended into Darkness
You rose in glorious light
Forever seated high.

I believe in God our Father
I believe in Christ the Son
I believe in the Holy Spirit
Our God is three in One
I believe in the resurrection
That we will rise again
For I believe in the Name of Jesus
I believe in You.
I believe You rose again
I believe that Jesus Christ is Lord

I believe in life eternal
I believe in the virgin birth
I believe in the saints' communion
And in Your holy Church
I believe in the resurrection
When Jesus comes again
For I believe in the Name of Jesus.