Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Sunday; Boy is this Holiday Misunderstood!

Photo Credit

Although most people think of Easter as a Christan holiday, would you believe it if I told you it is actually not?

Easter gets it's root from pagan holiday rituals to celebrate spring and new life. The pagans used Easter to celebrate the god of fertility believing that she controlled the growth around them and if they didn't worship her she would harden their land and close their wombs.

When I look at Easter I don't see Christ in any common celebrations of this holiday either. Hunting Easter eggs, the Easter bunny, and candy are all the current celebration of the world around us and I don't believe that the dancing to the god of fertility exactly portrays Christ either. These things all has pagan roots and came not from the word of God, but from men and women trying to understand their world without God's view.

Don't get me wrong here, I don't believe that abstaining from holidays is going to help your children understand Christ better and I do believe that making things to point to Christ is a much better way to do it, but I think another key is not to emphasize those things that are not of God. Going to things like the Passion Play, or even putting on a Passion Play, reading about Jesus's sacrifice on the cross and even having a resurrection  party are all things we can do to celebrate Christ with this holiday.

But alas I'm not done rambling yet. You knew there was more didn't you?

This is not how God intended for us to celebrate his work on the cross.

What? Blasphemy you say? Well I don't see any references to Easter in scripture do you?

He gave us the high holy days in his word, those days that were written in the Torah to celebrate remember and worship him. Those days were all pictures that he wanted us to remember and to relive so that we would better understand who he is and how his words were fulfilled by Jesus dying on that cross.

The people of the old treatment had no idea the depth of what they were celebrating when they celebrated Passover. This holiday was made for them to celebrate their exodus from the slavery and bondage in Egypt. How many of us realize it was also made for us to celebrate our exodus from slavery and bondage to sin?

The pascal lamb or passover  lamb was the lamb sacrificed on that sad night that the angel of death tread through the streets raking the firstborn sons of Egypt. the first celebration if this holiday was on that night as they were to sacrifice the lamb and put the blood if this lamb on their door to show their covering of the Lords protection.

Looking more closely at the instructions gives us a big clue. They were to drain the blood of the pascal lamb and put the basin of blood on the ground at the base of the door (usually in the  center of the door way) then they were to take and dip the branches in the blood and strike the  top of the door and then the two side posts if the door. Do you see the picture yet? The basin for the nails in his feet, the top of the door marking the crown of thorns and lastly the sides marking the nails in his hands, altogether forming a cross on the door that the angel of death saw to tell him to passover that house for the Lord resided with those inside.

Is this staying to look like God's celebration for us yet? It should.Paul makes it very clear when he tells us that Jesus is our passover lamb, sent to take away the sins of the world. If this isn't a more obvious instruction, I don't know what is.

With all that being said, in this house hold we celebrate passover, and plan to explain Easter to our girls as well. Easter dinner with family and friend will most likely be common for us as well, but for me I want to hold the celebration of Passover in higher esteem since God specifically designed it for me to celebrate him with.

Ultimately, whatever we do we need to be sure to turn our eyes and hearts to his calling. He has instructed us to not stumble each other with legalism, so one plan to celebrate shouldn't hinder you from celebrating Christ as you see fit! But I am curious to know how many people know the roots of the things they celebrate. Have you researched the holidays you celebrate?

Celebrate for HE IS RISEN!

Does your family celebrate Passover? Why or why not? How do you celebrate Easter?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Whole Wheat Biscuits and Gravy

Sorry for the lack of attention you all have been gettin', cold season has struck our area and my poor girls got it! Not that that's the greatest excuse, but hey kiddo's come first!

So that being said I'm keeping it short and sweet. So here is your recipe, in two parts!

Whole Wheat Biscuits
makes about 8

1 cup Sprouted Wheat Flour
1 cup All Purpose Flour
1/4 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1-2 tsp Real Sea Salt (to preference)
6-8 tbsp Butter (to preference)
1 cup Buttermilk

Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
Cut in butter until crumbly
Mix in buttermilk until just combined, not too much!
Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface.
Gently pat into a circle and cut out your biscuits (I use a cup)
Place on a cookie sheet in a 425-450 degree oven for 15 minutes until lightly browned.

Whole Wheat Gravy

1/2-1 lb Pork Breakfast Sausage
2 cups of Milk
1/2 cup of Cream
1/4 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 tsp. Salt (or to Taste)
1 tsp. Pepper (or to Taste)

Brown Sausage in a pan.
Add your Flour mix it in to the grease.
Add your Milk and Cream
Mix in your Salt and Pepper.
Stir over medium heat until sauce starts to thicken.
Keep on low until ready to serve.

Top your biscuits with the gravy (and even some cheddar cheese if you are so inclined) and serve to your hungry hungry brood. Yes even my 8 month old eats it!


Monday, March 4, 2013

Kick out the cold . . and keep the warmth in!: Door Covering

So we are in the process of winterizing our apartment, and while there isn't a ton we can do being this isn't a place we own, we are trying to do all we can to keep our heat. . .

Today, I made door bottom covers. I know you're thinking of those hideous weiner dogs that grandma always used to cover the bottom of the door and yelled at everyone that walked in to make sure they went back in place at the foot of the door. . . and yes this is essentially the same thing, with a twist.

I can't stand those frufru goofy dog shapes! they always seemed tacky to me and what's worse with people trapsing back and forth in and out of the house they always got wet and sometimes they'd start to either mold or get musty which all in all made them awful smelling. Plus they never stayed with the door and putting them back every time the door opens is a pain! Enter my solution:

The door cover is actually attached to the door by looping the button holes in the fabric over command hooks attached to the door, it's neutral to keep my tacky-hating design self happy, and it's fully washable! Essentially it's a bag, a little longer than the door (to cover the edges) that you stuff with sand or plastic bags or blankets (basically whatever you feel like stuffing it with) and hang on the door. Keeps the cold out, Stays in place automatically and when it's gross it goes in the washing machine!

and here's how to make it:

Take any fabric that you sorta like (durable is preferred) and an old dead pair of blue jeans.

Cut out a length of your blue jeans to 3 inches wide and about same length as the door plus 4 inches.

Cut a length of your favored fabric to about 2 1/2 foot wide and the length of your door (plus 4 in)

Turn the fabric down on the long sides about 1 1/2 inches and sew the edge down.

Take your ruler and measure 7 inches in on either side and make a vertical line on the hems you have just sewn. Then measure 7-10 inches in from each mark (depending on your door) and make another vertical line. What you should have now is eight vertical lines total on the two sides of the fabric toward the top of the door. These are the marks for your button holes.

You should now re-enforce all of the surrounding fabric by sewing a box around the line (make sure to hit the outer edge twice on your machine!) Then take a razor blade and slice the line to finish your button hole.

Now to re-enforce the bottom (So the wear and tear won't tear your bottom as easy!) You'll need to make a wide bias tape out of the denim strip. in the very middle (in between your hems) make a mark all the way across.You'll want the denim bias to follow  that line precisely. Sew it down.

Now with the wrong side of your fabric out line up your button holes. Sew the ends and reenforce the seams well. Turn your project right side out. Fill with your desired stuffing about half full.

Now to hang it on the door!

What are you doing this winter to keep out the cold?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Devotional Excerpt: Regrets and The Past

Why wasn't I saved sooner? Why did I have to go through all the things I went through because of my sin? The Lord tells us in Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:5, Galatians 1:15) that we are set apart for his purpose from the womb, why then did I have to do the awful things I did, or deal with the consequences of my actions? 

When reading through a bible study I have been following recently, one thing smacked me square in the face, I'm harboring feelings of regret. I never used to do this, I used to hold the philosophy that no matter how something turned out, it was what was meant to be and every experience was worth it. So why was I holding on to these feelings? Realizing my sin. Knowing that the things I have done bring disgrace to the Lord, how could I say they are worth it? The 'what if's' took hold of my mind and heart and weighed heavily on  me. How could I ever face up to things that scar my dear Lord's reputation just by the fact that I am now his.

My husband and I have only been married a short time even though we were engaged to be married 14 years ago. We both made choices and sinned both together and apart that led to a 10 year separation. We married other people, had extremely rough marriages and divorces and the Lord led us back to each other.

Although I grew up in a Christian home and lived a 'Christian' life as a child, when My husband and I originally met, I didn't know the Lord. I knew of him, and I honestly hated him. Circumstances in my childhood had led to bitter feelings towards God. 'If there is a God, I want nothing to do with him' I thought. I was not anywhere near what the Lord had planned for my future.

Through a painful marriage to an abusive husband the Lord brought me to understanding, and a place of repentance. The Lord met with me, in my sin, convicted me and redeemed me to use me for his plan. However, I was still living in sin. I was married by law to a man that the Lord did not intend for me. I was struggling against the Lord in every way because of this. My peers all pushed me to stay in my marriage and attempt to bring him to the Lord, to love this man as my husband the way it was intended.(1 Cor 7:13-14) Although in a lot of cases and ways this road of thinking is proper and correct, I had forgotten about what marriage really is. I had forgotten about my first husband. The man I was sharing a home with was not what the Lord desired for me, and somewhere inside me I knew it. Psalm 127:1~ Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchmen waketh in vain. The Lord had given me a husband and built a relationship for me, even before I became the Lord's child, I had turned my back on it.

I worked hard to ignore the Lord telling me that this wasn't right for me. I threw back his words of encouragement to the married as he gently showed me time and time again of his laws in Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy of what engagement means,and what actions required marriage. He gently reminded me over and over about my first husband. This battle between self and the Lord lasted three years. I had known all along that I belonged with Mike, I knew when we separated that we were doing something wrong. I had long thought about leaving and going back to the man who had stolen my heart and married me as a young girl. If it weren't for my confusion and circumstances, I would have left and gone to him years before.

As a baby Christian I thought the Bible was clear and obvious, rules are rules and the rules were that you stayed married, period. I didn't bother to read the Bible, those were rules I knew growing up that's what every Christian says about marriage, I didn't need to read the Bible for the Lord's take on it. But I had still forgotten, I was married to Mike. In the Bible an engagement was a marriage. The marriage contract started from the day a couple became engaged. The law required a divorce decree to separate an engaged couple just as though they were married. (We see this in the story of Mary and Joseph for example, they were betrothed to each other and when it came known to Joseph that she was with child he intended to divorce her quietly until the Lord sent an angel to inform him that Jesus was to be born of his beloved and she had not betrayed him, Matt 1:18-20) To make even clearer the case that we were married the laws of Deuteronomy concerning fornication state that any couple caught in the act of consentual fornication were to be married quickly. (Deut 22:28-29) So by our sin of having sex while engaged but not married, we married each other spiritually. In essence I was living polygamy. In spite of the Lord leading me to this understanding, I ignored him and tried to fix my worldly marriage because people who didn't know my story or understand the abuse I was taking would look down on me for leaving!

You can't let what someone might think of you, even in the church, stop you from doing what the Lord prompts you to do. Things are sometimes more complex and sometimes people with the best intentions don't know you or your story well enough to guide you in a Biblical manner. I've learned that no matter what people say, you must allow the Lord to guide you around the Bible. He is the author of it as well as your creator, he knows what you need to read and when. This is not to say that you shouldn't seek Godly counsel, you must always seek Godly counsel, but you also must seek to understand the Lord's law and his leading and guiding as well. Not only that, scripture interprets scripture and the Lord will make things stand out all over the place if he is guiding you. One reference can be misinterpreted, repeated consistently and in several places the Lord will concrete the concept he is teaching you.

With that being said, I still fought to save my worldly marriage for three years. Finally after my prayer and cries for understanding the Lord brought to light my husbands affairs. The affairs that had undoubtedly been going on for the entirety of our life together. The Lord had released me from the bonds of my worldly prison. (Matt 5:32, 1 Corinthians 7:15- If the unbeliever should depart, the brother or sister holds no bondage) Now given this story, and the brief peek inside my past, can you see where the regrets and 'what if's' leading to them hide?

In reading through Lord help me grow spiritually strong in 28 days by Kay Arthur and David Arthur, day 9 speaks to my soul. She paraphrased her story (much as I did here) and explains how she was entrenched in a deep jealousy of the teenagers she was teaching because they, if they heeded her advice, had the opportunity to skip the dreadful things she endured because of sin. Then she shared what the Lord led her to.

The apostle Paul, formerly Saul, has a life story that would definitely bring forth some regret. He prosecuted and murdered Christians as a steadfast Jew thinking that these men and women were insane to believe that Jesus was the Christ Messiah and one true King. How high must his regret list have been? Yet we see him humble and Jesus led in the letters he writes as Paul to the Christian churches in the gentile nations. His sin and his past brought him to understand his desperate need for Jesus' work on the cross. He is one of the most influential New Testament authors, he is also one of the best examples of what God can use for his purposes.

The Bible tells us that everything written in it is written for our learning. When you look at Paul's life before Christ, the ugly sins that he perpetrated are driving curiosity into those who saw him later head over heels for Christ. What would that curiosity have driven these people to do? I know what curiosity leads me to, research. When I research truly seeking out truth, guess what, I find the truth. That's exactly what was intended because the truth can only be truly found in one, Jesus Christ. So taken that into consideration, what is my past for? Why did I have to be saved so late in the game? Why did I let my sin carry me away from my beloved? For Christ's purposes, he saved me when he was ready.(Gal 1: 15-16) Just like Paul, I have a past that shows my desperate need for Jesus. My need for Christ is like oxygen, we need it to survive, and I only understand it and fully comprehend it because of my sin. (Rom 8:1) But maybe that isn't all it's for. Maybe Jesus plans something more for it. Just like Paul reached some others through his story. Jesus might plan to reach someone through me.

Maybe your past is something you wish to bury and forget. Maybe you regret it like I did, but maybe just maybe there is a bigger reason to ask yourself  'Who is Jesus going to reach using my story?'

Is there something you struggle with because you are ignoring the prompting of the Lord? I pray that the Lord release you from those bonds and abundantly clarify his will for you.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Living More Simply: Dishwashing

Ah the dish washing chore. People around here, ok I, despise washing dishes. I thought that the dishwasher was God's gift to me, and people like me. Until I did some math and some real evaluating.

Have you ever noticed how much work a dishwasher really is? Really unless you have that stellar reputation of person who rinses and loads the dishwasher the very second after the dish is dirty, you have to scrub your dishes before they go in the dishwasher, or as everyone has witnessed from time to time the entire load ends up with crummy yucky stuff plastered to it.

Now that alone, seems like extra work to me. Usually if I've rinsed my dishes well enough to put them in the dishwasher I might has well have added the soap and they'd be clean by the time they got there! Seems like I just wasted time!

After pondering that, I started looking at all those things I cannot wash in my dishwasher. My pans. aren't the pans the worst part of the dishes? Couple that with the fact that most pans, especially those with any kind of non-stick coating, are not dishwasher safe, so if you are putting these things in the dishwasher you are voiding your warranties and not guaranteeing the safety of your pots and pans. The cast iron that I use often, can't be dishwasher-ed unless I want to re-season them every time I cook. Not a real useful thing.

Looking around at that I started wondering if there was more that I wasn't seeing. We stopped using the dishwasher and started washing ALL of our dishes by hand. I mean I was essentially doing that anyways! We stuck a towel on the counter and used that to lay dishes out to dry and after a month, lo and behold our electric bill was TWENTY DOLLARS cheaper! I never in my wildest dreams thought that the dishwasher could possibly eat up that much money!

After a few months of watching our electric bill being consistently cheaper, my husband had an assignment for his environmental science class to measure the amount of energy you used on a daily bases for something like four days. Now I had no idea you could actually calculate this total! I know I must be blonde right? (actually red-head, worse than blonde!) We did the math our dishwasher eats up 120 volts at 8.5 amps, meaning it eats up 1020 watts (volts times amps) while it's running.  If I did the other math properly (hours of use times current cost of electricity) with running the dishwasher once a day (about an hour) it eats approximately 17 dollars or electricity a month, not including the gas to heat the water it uses. So my totals were not that far off!

Looking at the hand washing method, I can safely assume that the amount of energy to heat three to five gallons of water that I use while hand washing (and sometimes used while rinsing and loading the dishwasher anyways) is significantly less than the dishwasher eats up. While I can't calculate for the water usage as we don't pay for water where we are at currently, I still would guess that it doesn't cost as much because I was using the water to rinse the dishes before they went into the dishwasher anyways. All in all for our family washing the dishes by hand is far simpler than washing them with the machine. As an added bonus my dishes have never been cleaner!

Now I'm not saying go out and tape off your dishwasher, never use it again. That would be crazy! But, if you are interested in living with less work and using less energy, it might be time to evaluate your dishwashers actual potential. Are you getting the bang for your buck? Turns out, we weren't!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Combining and Condensing: Baby Clothes Edition

Over the past few months we as a family have been condensing and ridding ourselves of the excess stuff that has accumulated just about everywhere we look.

The other day I decided to tackle the baby clothes pile. We regularly sort through toys  and remove excess toys from the bin, but the baby clothes get a little overwhelming. Every month or so I'm sorting new clothes in and out of their dressers since my girls are so little and my system my lovely system, falls dreadfully short. Here is just one example of how:

This photo is of all the clothes that my kiddo's grew out of that should have been in the hands of someone else in need, some of them over 1 year ago. There are actually six boxes under that pile!

When you look at that pile, you might think that my girls must be running around naked right now. Nope, in fact, they both have boxes of growing into clothes waiting for them still and dressers still annoyingly packed to the brim.

But today, I am laying out for you my system.

We are blessed to have several families giving us some amazing clothing and we hardly ever have to buy clothes for our girls. But if we were to keep everything we get right off the bat my girls would wear a new outfit every single day (some of them I really wouldn't like!) and still not make it through all the clothes before they grew out of that size.

So we start as soon as we get a new set of clothes, We go through all the clothes with our girls in mind, would I ever consider putting my child in this shirt? If no it goes in the blessing pile, if yes it goes in a box for them to grow into. When it comes to my kiddo's since they are born in different seasons I have to watch what I keep and save because chances are if I'm sorting their clothes they won't transfer over to the next kid!

I then go through the keep pile again and make sure that everything will be worn, and that it fits into the box, I only allow myself to keep 1 box of each size (sometimes less than that!) and it has to work for both girls! Once that is finished we determine where the blessing box is going. Sometimes, unfortunately, we can't find a family that needs them and in that case it goes to the nearest Salvation Army, but we do try first to see if there is a family that can use the clothing.

When I am dressing the girls and I find that clothes don't fit, they get tossed into a bag hanging in the closet to be sorted the same way as the new clothes. I re-evaluate every item once again so that we are not storing useless items. Since we plan on having more children, I keep clothing after the youngest as well albeit in much lesser quantities.

About every two months I do a massive dresser dump and I sort, clean up, and size up their dressers. anything that's too small goes into the evaluate bag all the stuff that fits gets neatly folded and returned to it's drawer and the box of clothes to be grown into next moves into the dresser and becomes the  box for the set of clothes coming out.

Does it seem like a lot of stuff and sorting? Yeah it does to me too!! That is why I've limited myself so much that 6 months of clothing they have grown out of literally fits in one box now! The more we go through things the more I am realizing how little of their clothing actually gets worn! Why do I hold onto sixty shirts when my daughters will wear the same five over and over?

Do you have a system for your kids clothing? Share it!

Like this post? Stay tuned more condense and combine articles are coming!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Complimentary Heart Mobile for my Valentine

This year I decided that I wanted to do something different for valentines. I mean really My husband is the love of my heart on more than just valentines day right. So I'm extending valentines to include the first two weeks of February. While I think it is extremely important to make sure he knows how special he is to me on a regular basis. This is my opportunity to make a big deal out of it . . so I am.

Every day for 14 days I plan to add a string of "complimentary" hearts to the mobile. Each string contains 3 compliments for my sweetheart. 3 things I like about him. 3 things he's good at. 3 feelings towards him. You get the idea. Each is written on it's own paper shaped heart and they are strung together and they will be tied to the mobile I made out of pipe cleaners and string.

I kinda made this halfway before I decided to post it, so I'll explain how it was done as well as I can . . .

The mobile itself is a circle formed from pipe cleaners twisted together with string tied at four points along it and tied to a longer string in the center of the circle. I added some ribbon for fun.

Then I cut out paper hearts, you know the method you used in elementary school of folding paper in half and cutting teardrop shapes. Yup that's how it's done.

Next each heart got a compliment.

Then I poked holes in them and tied three to a string.

Over the next two weeks I will be tying them to the mobile 1 day at a time.

How are you planning to celebrate your Valentine this Valentine's Day?