Hello and welcome!

This blog is a place for me to share thoughts, recipes, things I learn from my Bible, links and anything else I happen to want to post. It is in essence an extension of The Home Maker's Corner. I hope you enjoy it!
All photos used on this blog are taken by me or my family unless otherwise noted. Some photos have had special filters applied. Regarding use of content: please see "the fine print" at the bottom of this page.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Shop Your Own Stuff – The Corner of the Living Room

 

You will hopefully remember that I’ve been doing a sub-series in the Laying Aside Weights theme by challenging us to “shop your own stuff”.  This post is a demonstration of how I tried to do that to improve a corner of our living room.  I know a lot of us have corners like this around our houses – maybe more than one.  This is not a T.V. reality show, so expect anything too stunning. :-)  Still, I hope you enjoy reading about it.

A year or so ago we rearranged our living room.  The corner by the T.V. had the walking machine in it, and I was ready to get it out of our sitting area.  Partly this was just to make a little more seating, but also, it would make the bookshelf there more accessible and make the sitting area more pleasant looking.  So, the walking machine was moved kitty-corner from where it had been.  It is now in the computer area.  I added a wicker chair (which I already had) for seating and the books are more accessible.  But…..after it was done the corner was dark and lacking something.  Also, the window ledge that sticks out there from the kitchen didn’t seem to go well in the living room. 

In the spirit of this challenge to “shop your own stuff”, I decided to see what I could do.  Initially I wanted to put up some Oriental paper lights in the corner, but it seemed like a better use of money to use something we already had.  Plus, it challenged me to see what solution I could come up with.

Here is a short chronicle of how the corner has “evolved” so far. :-)

Before:

As you can see, this corner is also a “piling area” for stuff leaving the house – especially things going to one of the other two houses on our joint properties.  The large basket on the bookshelf is my “Out” basket, but at this point it was rather overflowing!  You can also see that the window ledge is rather odd.  I think they made that wide ledge on the living room side for serving food – I assume.  Also, the cushions in the chair do not match.

The ledge décor didn’t look actually bad, but it wasn’t great either.  I didn’t think there was a good transition into the living room.  It was more in keeping with the kitchen.  The artificial marigolds in the vase just lacked something.

From the kitchen side looking into the living room:

Again, it wasn’t terrible, but it felt cluttered to me.

Some improvement:

Ok, this isn’t entirely an improvement, but it was better.  I worked on the window ledge and now there is a barrier between the kitchen side and the living room side.  This was partially accomplished by adding the wind harp on the edge and also removing the marigolds so that their orange heads weren’t “interrupting” so much.

The most significant change, of course is the hanging light!  Yay! :-)  Now we can sit here and read, and also anyone sitting there in the evening while visiting doesn’t have to sit in a dark corner.

The shade was something I got out of the garage “store” – actually it came from my dad’s collection of 1950’s items (which he’d planned to resell, but which hasn’t happened so far.  Thankfully, he’s just happy to see the stuff used).  The cord to hang it did cost us somewhere around $13 at a hardware store.  We could’ve gotten something cheaper, but the shade would then have been hard to use.  This particular hanger is designed in such a way that you can use a normal table lamp shade on it!  What a handy gadget. :-)  It served our purposes very well.

Here’s a closer look at the living room side of the window ledge.  I like it better.  I’m also glad to get this beautiful piece out of the pile, I mean “store”, so that it can be seen.  This wind harp was made for my family by a good friend who is now with the Lord.  It is a beautiful piece of workmanship and has a good message, and is a sweet reminder of our friend – an A+ item.

From the kitchen side:

I really like the berries in the basket a lot better than the flowers!  Also, this seems less cluttered to me.  I’m not sure yet what I’m going to store in the cute strawberry jar my sister-in-law got for me, but I really like it. :-)  I usually keep my drinking glass on the stone coaster.  It’s nice because it keeps the liquid off of the wood.  Of course, the fresh rose was only temporary.

More progress:

This is a more recent shot of the corner.  I had originally thought I would make a new cover for the rose pillow in the back of the chair, but after moving that green cushion from another part of the house to replace the red and white misfits, I realized that it was a perfect color match and that I didn’t need to recover the back cushion!  Yay!  Another unnecessary project eliminated. :-)

Another addition here that I really like is the two baskets on the end of the bookshelf (right).  I’m sorry they don’t show up better in the picture.  In rummaging around in the garage “store”, I found these African baskets that I think came from my grandmother.  They work great for easy access storage near the door.  The larger one is holding our winter hats, gloves, etc. The smaller one has not been designated for anything yet.  I’m really happy with them because they look decorative, but they supply some needed storage and reduce clutter.  In central Texas we don’t need hats and gloves every single winter day, so I know exactly where those only-occasionally-needed winter items are. :-)

The dog’s winter rug is laying there still waiting for repairs.  I do need to get that done and out of there.  Sigh.

I plan to make some more changes here eventually.  I would like to get the guitar stored somewhere else since it is almost never, ever used.  I also have an idea for putting a curtain on the bookshelf because I don’t like the black, I think it will look neater, and also it will improve the overall décor of the living room.  But, we’ll see.  That may be one of those abandoned projects. :-)  I’ll try to make a later update if/when I make more progress on shopping our stuff to improve this corner.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Thoughts from the Past – Adopted

 

Adopted
December 13, 2008 (edited)

Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

Some weeks ago we heard the choir sing at a church meeting. The particular song they sang was about how we are adopted by God. The next day or so I was searching for some photos online and "happened" on a web page that chronicled the adoption of a baby from Kazakhstan by an American couple.  It all made me think about the wonder of our adoption into God's family.

The couple who adopted the baby from Kazakhstan wrote a diary online about their experiences. For some time before they were allowed to take her, they could only visit with the little girl in the orphanage. They were only permitted to spend a few hours with her daily, and during those times she was usually in a good humor and enjoyed the games and toys they brought for play.

Once they had full possession of her, though, things changed. They were then responsible for all of her care. They found out that she needed to sleep a lot, and that she was not always happy. Feeding, washing, changing of diapers and so forth were now their responsibility and she was no longer just a "fun" child to spend a little time with each day.

Now, they knew that this would happen since they had adopted a baby girl from this same orphanage some years ago. (In fact, she was with them at the time.) So, they had had previous experience with this and it was not a totally strange event.

One might stop and think about all the possible problems that could occur after adopting a baby like this. There could be possible diseases (genetic of otherwise), personality issues, disabilities, brain damage from drugs or alcohol and more that can crop up later.

In thinking about that, though, consider the beauty of our adoption into God's family. He knows before He ever saves us exactly how we will "turn out." He knows if we will be a "problem child" or not. He knows if there will be "personality issues", illness, disabilities, and everything else there is to know about us. And yet, the wonder is that He gladly adopts us into His family through faith in Jesus Christ!

When we come into God's family, we are "accepted in the beloved" regardless of later problems. And, the Lord, in His foreknowledge, even knows all those things before hand, unlike human parents adopting a baby! What a wonderful blessing! How very kind and merciful our heavenly Father is!

And, for us there is no fear of bondage again.  We are the children of God through the adoption which we received.  He is not going to change His mind and "send us back" as one family did with a child they had adopted from Russia.

Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

We are no longer orphans. We are joint heirs with Christ! This is too amazing to fully comprehend!

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. 31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

For various reasons some human parents may be sorry later that they adopted a certain child. But, with God there is no such thing. He not only foreknew us before He chose us to eternal life, He also has the power to conform us to the image of His Son and the justify us and make us what He wants us to be!

2 Corinthians 9:15 Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Almond Butter Cookies

 

This recipe came about as the result of allowing my almond butter to get too old.  It was near it’s expiration date and we hadn’t even opened the jar yet!  I started with a peanut butter recipe and made a lot of alterations, including doubling the recipe.  You may wish to half it for a single recipe.  You may also use peanut butter in place of the almond butter and then use 2 tsp. of vanilla extract instead of the almond extract.  Enjoy!

Almond Butter Cookies

2 C. butter
2 C. almond butter
2 2/3 firmly packed brown sugar
2 – 3 tsp. almond extract
6 eggs
3/4 C. white whole wheat
1 C. oats
4 1/4 C. all-purpose flour
4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 C. chocolate chips
1 C. coconut flakes

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, almond butter and sugar.  Add almond extract.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add whole wheat, oats, salt and baking soda, mixing well.  Add all-purpose flour gradually mixing till is well combined.  Shape into 1 inch balls and place about 2 inches apart on a baking sheet. (I recommend lining it with parchment.)  Dough should be slightly sticky, so you may need to flour your hands.  Flatten with a fork.  Bake at 375F for 7-8 minutes or until golden.  Remove to wire racks and cool.  Store in air tight container.

Yield:  This makes a large batch.  I did not count them.  You can half the recipe for a single batch.

-------------------------------

These cookies kept well in the cupboard in a sealed container. They seemed to me to stay fresh longer than the average chocolate chip cookie.

Also, I pressed some of the cookie balls onto squares of parchment and stored them in the freezer.  The dough froze well, but I recommend bringing the cookies completely to room temperature before baking them.  This does not take long if you set them out on the cookie sheet preparatory to baking.


Me in my new-this-year cotton apron. :-)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Thousand Word Project – Jewels

 

Psalms 75:1  Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks, unto thee do we give thanks: for that thy name is near thy wondrous works declare.

Opals and amber

Pearls

Ruby

Crystals

Garnets

Diamond

Jasper

Monday, October 22, 2012

Hard Questions: What would the Ephesian Believers Think of Halloween, Twilight and Harry Potter in Christian Homes?

 

Acts 19:11-20  And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them. Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.

Have you ever thought about what the Ephesian believers would think of Christians today reading books like Harry Potter and Twilight?  Or what would they say to modern Christians who celebrate Halloween?

These Ephesians believers were delivered from evil spirits, v. 12.  They knew the power of the Satanic forces, v. 14-15.  They knew that deliverance came only from the Lord Jesus, v. 17.  They confessed their deeds of witchcraft and occult powers and forsook their “curious arts”, v. 18-19.  They burned their occult books, which were very valuable, v. 19.  They turned to the word of God instead, v. 20.

There is so much in scriptures about the “curious arts” (witchcraft, wizards and many satanic devices), that it’s hard sometimes to imagine why so many believers today justify entertaining themselves and their families with something that God clearly defines as evil (2 Chronicles 33:6).  And, just to be clear on what “evil” is, it is “Profound immorality, wickedness, and depravity, esp. when regarded as a supernatural force.”  God also calls such things an abomination, Deuteronomy 18:10-12  There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.

Oh, there are lots of excuses.  Regarding Halloween it might be:  “It’s just innocent fun.”  “It doesn’t mean that to us.”  How people today can claim this when the evil side of Halloween has been so promoted over the last years is a bit of a mystery.  All the “Houses of Horror”, the monsters, the witches, the gruesome movies and entertainment, the zombies, the werewolves and vampires and other unmentionables and you still can’t figure out what it’s about?  Really and truly?  Besides that, what makes Christians think that they can answer something that is blatantly devilish with a simple “it doesn’t mean that to me”?  Do you really think that Satan cares that “it doesn’t mean that” to you?  Do you think that he is going to drop all his intentions and meanings just because you refuse to see it?  1 Peter 5:8-9  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith…

Another line of excuse is, “but good wins out over evil in the end.”  This has been given to justify Harry Potter.  The problem is that it is Satan’s “good” that wins out over Satan’s evil.  It is not God’s good that prevails!  Think about that and be honest with yourself.  2 Corinthians 11:14  And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

As for Twilight, the excuse may also be added that as long as it’s “just for entertainment” purposes it’s “O.K.” to read about vampires, werewolves, etc.; and besides, there are “good” vampires in the story.  But, again it isn’t God’s kind of good! 

If you think that vampires can be transformed into “good guys” (angels of light? 2 Corinthians 11:14)  do some research on Vlad the Impaler of Transylvania, the inspiration for Dracula and modern vampires, and then tell the Lord that vampires are wholesome entertainment.  [BEWARE: Some sources of information involve extremely gruesome material.  I strongly recommend that you do not read this material while children are present and that you do not read it merely out of idle curiosity.]  Ephesians 5:8-12 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.

And, lest ye think that God holds the viewers, readers and party goers to a different standard than He does the actual doers of such deeds, you need to read the end of Romans chapter one and especially this last verse: Romans 1:32  Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

More on the “good wins” idea, though – the scripture clearly tells us that there is none good but one, that is, God.” (Mark 10:18)  So, if it isn’t God’s good that wins over evil, it is not “good” at all.  It is evil entirely.  Matthew 7:18  A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

Added to this is the fact that we are told what we should be thinking on, and it isn’t witchcraft, vampires, zombies, satanic devices, etc.  Philippians 4:8  Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.  Frankly, that excludes Twilight, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and even allegedly Christian books of this genre.  The implication is that it’s not even good to read books that dramatize spiritual warfare in a spooky, horrifying way for entertainment.

Imagine those Ephesian believers of old visiting a modern “Christian” home and finding children’s books about witchcraft and vampires, horror movies, Halloween decorations and parties, Ouija boards, witchcraft based computer games, etc.  How appalled and shocked they would be!  I can’t help wondering if they would even believe these modern Christians could really be saved.  Not that I’m questioning anyone’s salvation here.  But, strictly viewing it from the perspective of those ancient believers who were saved out of all that and burned those books, I can’t help but wonder.

More than that, how must it grieve the heart of God and the Lord Jesus Christ to have believers bringing “curious arts” into their homes, lives and minds as entertainment.  God’s business and desire is to deliver people from this evil and torment as we see in Acts 19.  The Lord Jesus stated God’s plan to Paul, “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”  Acts 26:18  It cannot possibly please Him in any way to have His children call evil “good” and to justify the wicked!

Isaiah 5:20-21  Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!  Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!

1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

Romans 13:12  The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.

------------------------

To see what a modern day man who was saved out of witchcraft does think about such things, please read the following links.

HALLOWEEN AND THE OCCULT  (A True Story)

Halloween and the Forces of Darkness (By the way, in case you don’t read his testimony in the first link, David Meyer came from five generations of witches.  There is a lot of modern drivel and “explanations” as to what things “really mean” that are quite simply lies.  Beware of justifying yourself based on these inventions intended to deny and deceive.  I think that a man with five generations of witchcraft in his family probably knows whereof he speaketh.)

This author also addressed the subject of Harry Potter:  Harry Potter?What Does God Have To Say?

For further reading:  [Disclaimer on Bible versions other than the KJV and possibly some other content.]

Further information on Twilight.

Also a few thoughts on The Hunger Games.

------------------------------

And, just to make a complete address of the subject, let’s not forget the two most powerful witchcraft writers to indoctrinate and soften the minds of Christians in the past decades.  I feel that it was largely through these men’s work that the church has come to the point where Harry Potter and Twilight are now considered “good reading” for children.

A Former Witch Looks At The Lord Of The Rings (Re: J.R.R. Tolkien)

C.S. Lewis – The Devil’s Wisest Fool  (this article is written by me)

------------------------------

Some parents may hesitate about taking a stand on these subjects because they are afraid that either their kids will rebel or, perhaps even worse, ask embarrassing questions of their friends who still enjoy the “curious arts” for entertainment. From personal experience I can say that kids will understand a whole lot better than some parents think. My own brother and I didn’t have much trouble giving up Halloween after our parents explained the basic reasons to us. We also understood when they explained to us why The Chronicles of Narnia needed to be discarded, though that did take longer and more teaching was involved.

One parting thought:  It is interesting what the Lord said to the Ephesian church in Revelation.  This was the same church that had loved the Lord so much that they had willingly cast their magic books into the fire and confessed the curious arts that they used.

Revelation 2:1-5  Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

What about you?  How is your love for the Lord Jesus Christ?  Are you willing to forsake the “curious arts”, and being entertained by them, for the Lord who gave His very life for you?  Or, are you determined to continue in the way which you should not go in order to satisfy the flesh or to avoid conflict with your kids, family, and friends?

Titus 2:12-14  Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;  Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Happy Anniversary!

 

Happy Anniversary to my beloved parents, Steve and Elizabeth Van Nattan! :-)  Today, through the grace of God, they celebrate 45 years of marriage.

James 1:17  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

They graduated from the same missionary boarding school (Rift Valley Academy in Kenya).  My dad was too prudent to let anyone know then that he was interested in her. :-)  It was not a good environment, in his opinion, to cultivate a lasting relationship.  [Daddy is on the right end in back and Mom is second from the right in front.]

Several years later, after he had graduated from college in California and Mom was attending college in Michigan, he put his belongings in his car and headed to Michigan to “try his fate.”  He told his friends, “If I come back, don’t ask any questions.  Just start looking for a job for me.”

Unbeknown to him, Mom told a friend of hers, “If ever comes here I’ll marry him!”  So, his “fate” was sealed before he ever arrived. :-)  Very shortly after he got there, she toted him off to two weddings in a row as her guest.  That was just the way it worked out, but he likes to joke that he decided he better take the hint or he would get fat going to all these weddings. :-)  [The above picture was actually taken after they were married, but you get the idea.]

They were married on October 21st, 1967.

Several years later their first “bundle of joy” arrived on the scene – which happened to be yours truly. :-)

Praise the Lord for bringing them through so many years together.  What a blessing to know that we all have eternity together in Christ!  In the spirit of yesterday’s post, I look forward to all of us being in our new bodies in the presence of our Lord, and to thanking Him in person for all the blessed things He’s done in and through them through their years.

John 17:24  Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.

-------------------

Thanks to my Uncle Jim for making these great photos available to us.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Laying Aside Weights – To Everything A Time, Part 2: The (not so) Good Old Days

 

In the last post of this series we talked about chronophobia and the fear of the passing of time. This time we’ll discuss longing for “the good old days.” I apologize that this article is so long.


My great-grandparents. Great-grandma
and their oldest child both died of pneumonia.

Hebrews 12:1-2  Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Ecclesiastes 3:1  To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

Living In the Past

It’s a fairly common thing for people to yearn for the “good old days”.  We tend to perceive things back then to be “better than they are now”.  From editorial rants to reenactments and even those who live their daily lives as much as possible “in the good old way”, there’s a common theme that the past was better.  If we could only return to it we’d all be “better off.”  But, is that God’s view of things?

In the midst of some general admonitions in Ecclesiastes, Solomon wrote under inspiration, Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this.  Ecclesiastes 7:10  Basically, what this means is that longing for “the good old days” is not wise

This concept will probably offend some people, especially those who are caught up in the whole reenactment of history fad.  Not that I think those things are totally wasted.  Watching a group of women at a living history museum sweating away in long sleeves and long dresses cleaning up an old timey kitchen house in Central Texas is very informative to those who think that life was better “back then.”  But, in God’s estimation we can conclude that there is nothing particularly helpful or spiritual about yearning for a past era. 

First of all, I’d like to answer those who actually insist on living a historic lifestyle as their daily life.  To live simply and wholesomely in this present world is one thing, but to long for the past to the point of taking up a daily way of life intentionally so far removed from the present as to make complications, and added expense and work for ourselves – how does that fit with going about our Father’s business (Luke 2:49)?  In a situation where living simply is necessary for survival it’s one thing, but there is a difference.  For example, learning hand sewing has definite benefits, but insisting on sewing all one’s clothes by hand and in antiquated styles only generates extra work and takes time and resources that might be more wisely spent.  Blacksmithing may prove to be a useful skill in the foreseeable future, but that does not mean we should insist that all metal goods be made by a blacksmith.

Then there are those who think that they would have been better off born in another era.  Being a bit of a history buff myself, I can’t help wondering at people sometimes.  I marvel at those who think they would love to go back to the Dark Ages up to about the 1700s.  I sometimes think that they fail to realize that most of the population did not live in the castles back then.  Most were not nobility and most of them did not even directly serve the nobility in the big house or castle.  They were serfs or slaves. 

Some of my European ancestors were allegedly landowners back in Austria long, long ago.  But, I also have Cherokee and Irish ancestors.  I can’t help thinking that, had I lived “back then”, it’s more likely that I’d have been a squaw or serf than a moderately wealthy landowner “on the continent.”

When I think of the gross lack of sanitation; the disease; the plague; the religious bondage; the slavery; the hard, hard labor just to survive; the death rate among babies, children and new mothers; the hopelessness of curing bacterial infections; the arranged marriages, often made primarily for the advantage of the guardians; the horrible wars; the lack of education; and so much more, I am not sorry to live in this day and age.  I like refrigerators and air conditioning and central heat.  I like running water, water heaters and inside toilets.  I have used an outhouse on a blustery, snowy winter day.  It was not pleasant.  In fact, there’s a good chance that I would already have been dead if I’d lived “back in the good old days.”  I am also very thankful to live in an era in which I can have my own copies of scripture to study and read for myself!  We can certainly learn from history and there’s nothing against that in scripture that I can see, but to long for the past, to say that we or someone else was “born too late” or “should have been born” in such-and-such a time – this goes against the wisdom and will of God.

The Lord wanted us to live in this time or He would not have put us here.  To imagine that we would be happier, wiser, or more content in another era is to question the very sovereignty of God.  Philippians 4:11  Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. This includes being content in the time we live in when taken in context with the Ecclesiastes verse.

God put each one of us in this time and place and in this era:
1. for His glory,  
2. to do His good pleasure and will,
3. to be His servant in this present wicked world.

Ephesians 1:3-12  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:  According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:  In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

Looking Forward

How does longing after the past glorify and honor God, who put us in this present time for a purpose?  It seems wasteful at best, rebellious at worst.  Certainly it is useless baggage that doesn’t help us “run the race with patience”.

Considering the fact that we have so much to look forward to in Christ, I think it’s safe to say that dwelling in the past, either historically or emotionally, is insulting to our heavenly Father.  He intends for us to hope for and look for those blessings that He has promised over and over again in scripture.  By longing to go back to some former era (historic or in our own lives), we are saying that we love the past, even with all its misery and sorrow, more than we love the future blessedness that God has ordained for them that love Him.  Would you really want to go back to some point in time before some loved one died – and then live through the misery of losing them again?  That sounds horrible when you think of it that way.

We are so much closer today to the fulfillment of all those great blessings and expectations God has given us, how can we long to go back in history and live all that sorrow over again?  How can we not accept this present time, distressing though it be, as we see how close we approach to the fulfillment of the wonderful future we have in Christ?

I have felt the drawing of the past myself, especially in recent times when thinking of my grandparents’ and parents’ early years.  Sometimes it’s easy to imagine that life was better then and there was less to struggle with.  Certainly there appears to have been more Christian fellowship.  The overwhelming busyness, compromise and wickedness of this present time tempts us think that life must have been better “back then”.

Interestingly, as humans in this life, we seem to need a connection with the past in order to identify with who we are now.  Even advertisers know this and appeal to our nostalgia and sentiment to sell their products.  We are afraid of losing our connection with the past.  I think this is one reason I struggle so with the future passing of my own parents.  I’m afraid – afraid of losing that precious connection with what once was.  I see this in others as well, in various ways.  But, the realization is also growing for me that, coming from a family of many believers, the connection is not lost because so many of them are in Heaven where we are headed soon.  My connection with the past should be a connection with the future!

More importantly, however, is something that applies to those who are not from Christian families which is this: As the children of God in Christ Jesus, we have a connection with the past that is so much greater, so much more all encompassing and large, so much more instructive and wise than any human connection could ever be, that we have no need to fear!  We are born into the family as the children of the Eternal Father.  He has the greatest and truest knowledge of all that has passed before and that is and that will be. And, His Holy Spirit lives in our hearts and, He has promised, will guide us into all truth (John 16:13).  There is nothing we need to know that He cannot give us.  How awe inspiring it is to think that the “I AM” who dwells always in the present through all of history has chosen to pinpoint His great wealth of “connection” into such weak and needy vessels as we are!

2 Corinthians 4:7  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

Remembered No More

In a recent post I quoted a verse that the Lord is using to stretch me.  Isaiah 65:17 For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.  This verse has struck me with thoughts on various aspects of life, but let’s think about it in regards to the issue at hand.  Listen again, God says He’s going to create new heavens and a new earth: and the former __shall__not__be__remembered__,nor__come__into__mind.  That is mindboggling to us as humans stuck, as it were, in the midst of history. 

But, now combine this thought with 2 Peter 3:10-13  But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?  Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

Friends, the Lord is going to burn up everything on this old earth, and those who are born again into God’s family through faith in Jesus Christ are not going to even remember it!  It won’t even cross our minds!  I don’t know how to emphasize that enough!  What a totally freeing thought!  Have you considered it?  All the memories (good and bad), the history, the complications of life, the political struggles, the wars, the defining moments, the hurts, and the things we spend our time on that have no eternal value ---- they won’t even come to mind!  GONE!!  FOREVER!! 

John 8:35-36  And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

This is not to say that everything on this earth is worthless to us now.  Nor is it to say that we shouldn’t value the good memories and blessings that have come to us from the past, especially when we may use them for God’s glory in any way.  It also does not mean that we can’t learn from the past.  After all, scripture is full of history that is intended by God to instruct us and give us hope!  Romans 15:4  For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

(By the way, beware of reading history that only makes you feel like a hopeless victim or that depresses you.  There’s a lot of stuff written that only tends towards despair.)

But, while we may surely find edifying and instructing from the past that helps us today, to yearn to “go back”, to long for things that are no longer attainable simply can’t be right or helpful.  Also, the burden of groping for some past treasure we imagine is irreplaceably lost will drag us down and away from the good things we should be looking and reaching forward to.

I feel this particularly as I’ve lamented over things that are lost in the past or perhaps will be at some point.  For example, if it had been useful to me in my walk with Christ to have my Gramma’s diaries, God would have seen to it that I got them.  It was a situation I had virtually no control over, and the Lord knew that.  He could have worked it out, but He didn’t.  It was not His will for me and I must let them go mentally.  Wow.  How easy is that…..and yet how hard?

Conclusion

John 3:36  He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

Everlasting life is not something that we will have “someday”.  For those who believe on the Son, we have it now.  We are not bound by the times of this earth.  We have everlasting life – now – today.  We need to stretch ourselves to try to live both in the here and now, not fretting constantly about the future as Jesus told us (Matt. 6:34); but also to live with the attitude of travelers who are headed to something so much better than this present wicked world that it neither terrifies nor causes us to look back longingly.

Remember the words of Paul:  Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3:13-14

Hebrews 11:13-16  These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.  For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

Revelation 22:20  He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

I feel a strong need to lay aside useless wistfulness regarding the past;  to strive toward looking ahead more and looking back less.  It will be hard sometimes I know, but in the face of present world events it somehow seems urgent.  The time is short, we need all our strength to run the forward race that is set before us with patience. 

How about you?

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand - A Poem by Annie Johnson Flint

 

Here is a link to my web site where this poem is posted.  This poem expresses some things so well that it moves my heart.  There is so much injustice and wickedness in the world today, people using others carelessly and even brutally to promote their own ends and fill their own pockets.  This poem is a great reminder that the Lord Jesus Christ is aware of ALL that goes on and that He WILL right all wrongs - and that very soon!

The Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand – by Annie Johnson Flint

Revelation 22:20  He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Four Years Ago

 


Photo by Mike Croft

Psalms 139:17-18 How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.

So, we are being asked if we are better off now than we were four years ago.  Of course, the idea is that if perchance we are better off, then we “should” vote the present administration back into office.  If we are worse off, then we “should” vote in the contender.  The fact of the matter is that for the child of God it has nothing to do with who is President of the United States.  For my own part, I have been very blessed in the last four years, and it had absolutely nothing to do with the present administration, but everything to do with the loving kindness of my heavenly Father!

Four years ago today I was not married yet. We were planning to marry soon, but that was later in October. 

Four years ago I struggled to carry a frying pan full of food from the stove to the table.  I was so tired some days from doing very little that I couldn’t even prepare supper.  I still had a much higher level of anxiety and physical problems that hindered us from many things.  We didn’t make it to church very often at all.  I was still having serious issues dealing with groups of people.  I had not yet learned how to deal effectively with my seasonal affected disorder and winters were really rough – some years really, really rough!

So am I better off than I was four years ago?  Amazingly so!  God has been so wonderfully good to me. I can’t even express it well enough!  The difference that my husband has made in my life, the increased health and strength, the improvement in my emotional health, my sister-in-law’s efforts to keep me moving all of one hard winter, the love and support of my family and in-laws, the increased fellowship and friendship with our church family, the growth of other friendships, starting to drive again after 12 years, and so many, many other things – I just feel incredibly wealthy and blessed!  Psalms 18:35-36  Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great.  Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip.

Added to all that, my husband was very under-employed at the time we married, but after several job changes, he is blessed with a good job now.  This is something to be very thankful for in this present time.  But, that had nothing to do with the President of the U.S. either.  It is all the kindness and provision and mercy of our loving God.

We have been through tough things as well, and there have been challenges and unwelcome surprises.  But, the Lord has done exceeding abundantly above all that we asked or thought.  We’re going to stick with Him and not worry about who is President.  He does a far better job of taking care of us! :-)

Ephesians 3:20-21  Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Short Thoughts: God’s Word – All or Nothing

 

A guest post from one of my sisters-in-law.

--------------------------------------------

One thing I have learned: Never undermine the Scriptures or exclude parts of them as being untrue or unnecessary. From there it is an easy step to write them all off as being in error.

Either believe them or don't, but *never ever* split them or think you are wise enough to know which parts should or shouldn't be included. It is a deception to believe you are wiser than the Lord God who is powerful enough to preserve His Word despite all people have done to it throughout the ages.

He is the Almighty Creator - if you can't believe something as simple as His ability to preserve His Word (His Word also being the Lord Jesus Christ, His Son), then what exactly can you believe???

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not".
(John 1:1-5)

Clara V.

--------------------------------------------

John Wesley also made some useful quotes in the same vein.

"Nay, will not the allowing there is any error in Scripture, shake the authority of the whole?"

"Nay, if there be any mistakes in the Bible, there may as well be a thousand. If there be one falsehood in that book, it did not come from the God of truth."

"I want the whole Christ for my Saviour, the whole Bible for my book, the whole Church for my fellowship, and the whole world for my mission field."

Psalms 119:160  Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Coconut Fruitcake

 


I’m pretty sure this is the Coconut Fruitcake since
I can’t remember making any other kind in recent years. :-)

This is probably my family’s favorite fruit cake.  The original recipe came from the Nov/Dec 1993 issue of “Country Woman” magazine but, as usual, we made some changes of our own. :-)  Here is our version.  (See my ideas for making in healthier at the bottom.)

2 C. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 lb. total candied cherries, candied pineapple and fruitcake mix
1 1/2 C. flaked coconut
1 C. raisins (golden or brown)
1 C. chopped pecans
1/2 butter
1 C. sugar (reduce to 2/3 C. if desired)
3 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
1/2 C. orange juice
Additional candied fruit or cherries for top (optional)
Marzipan (almond paste) for cover (optional)  Note: Make sure it is as room temperature before working with it!

In a large bowl, combine flower, baking powder and salt.  Add all candied fruit, coconut, raisins, and nuts and mix till well coated.  In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs and extracts, mixing well.  Stir in the fruit and flour mixture alternately with the orange juice.  Pack into a greased 10-inch tube pan which is lined with waxed paper or baking parchment.  Or, you can pack into greased, lined loaf pans.  Bake at 250F for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until the cake tests done.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes.   Loosen edges with a knife and remove from pan to cool completely on a wire rack. 

Garnish with candied fruit if desired, or roll the marzipan to a large thin circle, big enough to cover the cake.  Place gently over the top and cut out the center carefully.  Mold the marzipan to fit the cake and trim away excess around the bottom edge.  You may out candied fruit on top, or you may wish to put some flowers or fruit in the center of the of the cake.  You may also use nuts or molded marzipan to decorate the top of the cake.

For loaves roll the marzipan into rectangles that will fit the loaves.  Gently press it into place.

Yield: 12-16 servings

Store, well wrapped, in the fridge or freezer.

Note:  Next time I make this fruitcake I hope to add miniature chocolate chips to it as per a recipe we used to make.  I think it will make a nice addition. :-)

---------------------------------

This is a Coconut Fruitcake that I made for my dad’s birthday some years ago.  As you can see I covered it with marzipan and tinted the extra marzipan with food coloring. Then I molded roses and leaves to fill the hole in the center of the cake.

------------------------------------------

Healthier:

For those of you who are are concerned about the high-fructose corn syrup and food coloring that is in candied fruits, you can make your own candied fruit!  My mom and I did it a couple years ago.  Here are two locations to find information: DIY Candied Orange Peel, and Food Network’s Candied Orange Peel.  My mom and I actually made it with a pomelo, so we got a lot of candied peel for our effort, but it took awhile to cook it too.

Also, when I make this fruitcake recipe next, I hope to switch out some of the candied fruit for good quality dried fruit.  I want to use the nicer kind of dried pineapple in place of the candied type, and I want to use some good dried cherries for the candied cherries.  I think it will give the fruitcake a more interesting flavor also because these types of preserved fruits taste more like they were meant to than the candied varieties.  I’ll try to let you know how this works out. :-) 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Thousand Word Project – The Transitory Splendor

 

Following photos: Roane County Park, Tennessee

 

 

Ecclesiastes 3:11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Shop Your Own Stuff – Shop Your Photos

 

I wanted to make another post in the “Shop Your Own Stuff” series to show you a way to turn your own photos – even not the greatest ones – into frame-able art for your home.

You don’t need a fancy photo editing program to fix up your digital or scanned photos.  Picasa, a free program from Google, does a pretty good job, especially for the amateur.  Again – it is free.  No cost.  All you will pay for is the prints and frames (unless you can scrounge up some free frames by shopping your own stuff ;-)  ).

Picasa for your home computer (not to be confused with the online storage and viewing part of it) is a great tool to organize your digital photos and it offers the ability to do some basic and not so basic editing, adjusting and enhancing.  You can use it to make less-than-perfect pictures into something nice enough to print and frame – either for your own décor, or as a gift.

Disclaimer:  I am not being paid by Picasa to “sell” their product.  I was not even asked to review it.  :-)  I’m simply suggesting it as a means for “shopping your own stuff”.  Also, this is not intended to be a tutorial.  Please search on Google for a tutorial.  I am not by any means showing all that this program can do, either.  I selected features that I thought demonstrated the ability of Picasa to transform less-than-perfect photos into something actually useable.

NOTE:  Make sure you have the system requirements to run this program before you install it, otherwise you may encounter some “interesting” problems.

----------------------------------


Original    [Muscadine grapes]


Enhanced and adjusted. (Enlarged only to show detail.)

On this one I adjusted all three “sliders” to my taste under the “Orton-ish” enhancement setting in “More fun and useful image processing”.  Then I adjusted the Fill Light, Highlights and Shadows in under “Finely tuned color and lighting fixes”.

----------------------------------

On this one I cropped the image to a 5x7 size, though 4x6 probably would have been better for printing purposes due to the quality of this particular picture.  I used the “Lomo-ish” enhancement, adjusting the Fade.  Then I adjusted the Shadows.  I used the red eye fixer.  I had to adjust the right eye (in the picture) twice by hand to get it looking black enough.  And, finally I used the “Retouch” tool to remove the slight blemish on his left cheek.

----------------------------------

On this picture I used the “Orton-ish” enhancement and added a vignette.  Then I added a verse with the text feature.  It’s sometimes really hard to find nice pictures with KJV verse on them.  Now you can make your own. :-)

----------------------------------


Here I adjusted the Shadows and Fill-light, applied a Focal Black and White, Sharpened it and added a Glow.  I could’ve added a verse since there is probably room.

----------------------------------

Some retouching to remove blemishes and a simple “Lomo-ish” enhancement.

----------------------------------

More examples:

Heat Map feature

-----------


Random picture clicked out the car window in downtown Austin, TX.

Inverted colors and applied “Lomo-ish”.

-----------

This is my personal favorite for showing what a change the “Lomo-ish” feature can make, and for showing how some simple tinkering can make a bland picture into something worth framing! :-)

----------------------------------

As you can see from these examples, some rather ordinary shots are transformed into what I consider to be frame-able art. The size and quality of the original picture will effect the quality of the prints. But, with this free, downloadable program, you can “shop your own photos” to get art for you home. With some inexpensive frames from a thrift store or Wal-mart, you can actually spend just a little for some pretty nice results. :-)

I hope you enjoyed this and, most of all, are inspired to download the program and try it out for yourself.  You can probably tell that I had way too much fun making this post. :-)