Thursday, February 26, 2009

My Daughter Says Everyone Needs a Teddy Bear

While in the hospital a couple weeks ago my daughter brought me Buzz Bear who served admirably as pillow and ear warmer. (His eyes were so fur-covered, that at this camera angle, they just don't show up!)

Today she reminded me that everyone needs a Teddy Bear and sent me this photo to prove it.

It is quite obvious that the photo clinches her argument. You simply have to click on this photo to get a better view! (Big, big giggle here)

See this Model of the Temple that was Destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD

A retired English farmer has spent 30 years creating a model of Herod's temple in Jerusalem. It is quite amazing and you can see the news article and more photos at this news site.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My Sourdough Starter! It's Still ALIVE!!

I was rather incapacitated for quite some time this past month. That meant that my sourdough starter that I had safely stored in the fridge was a bit neglected. Normally, if storing it in the fridge, I like to feed it once a week. Simply add 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup water. Stir. Set back in the fridge.

So when it sat unattended for about TWO weeks I was apprehensive about the viability of the yeast and was pleased when, after removing the lid, I smelled the aroma of its natural alcohol caused by the yeast fermentation. (Please notice that when the starter has been in the fridge for awhile, it comes out looking rather bad! A brownish liquid will cover the top and you will need to stir all together again. Notice the aroma at this will smell fermenty or like alcohol. Smell it each time and you will recognize this 'good' smell versus a 'gone bad' smell.) After stirring back to a smooth consistency, I fed it as usual, and Voila! It's still Alive!

So I left it on the counter for a couple more days, feeding it morning and evening, adding to its volume. You can see the bubbles caused by the fermentation. (Click on the photo for a closer view.)

Then I took a cup of the starter, added about a cup of flour and a dab of water, and started a sponge for a loaf of bread. (The rest of the starter remained in its bowl for later use.) The sponge rises for several hours after which I really get lazy. A TRUE sourdough afficianado would at this point stir in BY HAND additional white flour, perhaps a dab of sugar, salt and perhaps even a dab of yeast, knead only lightly, and let rise to a sourdough loaf.

But I am a lazy cook and so I placed my sponge in the bread machine, added an assortment of ingredients (white flour,whole wheat flour, sugar, salt, powdered milk, teaspoon of yeast) and let the machine do the kneading. However, I NEVER bake in the machine for I hate the super-crusty result. After the machine did the kneading I let the dough rise once, punched down, and placed in a loaf pan to rise again.

I usually bake about 23 minutes in a 400 degree oven. Then I place a thermometer in the loaf to watch it bake to an internal temp of 190-200 degrees. Then it is DONE! Yum, Again!

To catch up on my ventures with sourdough you can simply click here to read previous posts and to read the post where I obtained my original sourdough starter. If you live within driving distance, I'll be happy to share you a sample of the starter and some written instructions. My friend Melva will be a recipient....just as soon as I get myself into gear! Her girls will love this project! And her family loves homemade bread!

Don't forget! In regard to bread, today's Scripture is John 6:33-35. You can place your cursor over the scripture to read the pop-up.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

We Should Be Teaching the LAW!

Sometimes I wonder what is wrong with the thinking ability of people such as the 24-year-old female teacher who was arrested at a West Virginia motel for kidnapping a 15-year-old boy (8th grader) with whom she had been having a relationship. This scenario is becoming common-place and you would think that watching teacher after teacher go to prison for similar relationships would cause any teacher to recognize this is a serious No-No!

I wonder what is wrong with the thinking of a young father whose 4-month-old daughter died of injuries inflicted at his hands. I'm talking broken ribs. Again...there are enough of these cases in the news that one would think people would get the message! You hurt a baby and you go to prison!

It would seem to me that there should be mandatory classes in college for prospective teachers that explicitly lay out the criminality and ramifications of adult teachers having an inappropriate relationship with a teen. Classes that emphasize potential long imprisonment! Case histories, if you please!

And there should be mandatory classes in high school that teach the fragility of infants, the appropriate ways to hold and care for them, and the civil penalties (again....long prison terms) for those who inflict bodily harm to babies and small children.

And while we're at it, how about classes that explicitly lay out the penalty for inappropriate sexual contact with children/underage teens. Classes to include a clear look at LAWS on the books.

I am astounded.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Go Read this 'Modest Proposal'

I read a variety of blogs. Some blogs are single-subject, such as those by quilters or frugal homemakers. I enjoy them. Other blogs are a bit like mine...jumping from topic to topic, mentioning daily events and sharing thoughts and insights. I also like to read the thoughts of other Christians who may or may not have different perspectives on their faith.

But yesterday's post by Jennifer in Florida struck me hard! Her post is satire, but knowing it was satire did not make it an easy read. Nevertheless it is well-written and intensely thought-provoking. I hope you will take the time to read it here. She discusses the Caylee Anthony case from a totally different perspective and asks the reader to think deep and seriously about the death of a little girl. Sounds depressing...don't be put off...go read it. (Jennifer lives in the same town as the Anthony family.)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Whether or Not We Love God, Our Culture is Fascinated With Angels

Even as a small child, age 10, reading the Bible for the first time, I saw angels as presented by the Bible and not as presented by our culture.

The Bible always presents the holy angels as having "the appearance of a man" and usually bringing a message. In one instance the angels escort Lot and his family to safety before the destruction of their hometown. In another instance an army of angels fights a battle on behalf of God's people. There is not a single verse that alludes to angels having some soft frilly, feminine, or baby-with-wings appearance. Consequently, I find it extremely disquieting to walk into a Christian bookstore to see the "angel trinkets" for sale on their shelves.

So I was comforted this past week when my Beloved and I read the chapter in Calvin's Institutes concerning the Doctrine of Angels and Demons. Our friend Scott reviews this chapter and you can read his comments here. Calvin wrote some centuries ago, so you will have to read carefully to delve into the meaning of his sentence structures. Nevertheless, you will delight in his Biblical insight.

There are far too many persons, who in lieu of trusting our Lord and Savior, instead trust a coin in their pocket that has an angel imprint upon it. Somehow rubbing the coin between their fingers will bring them "blessing".

Or perhaps they wear a small "cupid angel" on their lapel, as if this little image (which is a non-Biblical interpretation of the word cupid) will protect them from evil. How sad that they have not learned to pray directly to our Lord who always intercedes with the Father on our behalf. It is as if they are willing to acknowledge "angels" but unwilling to acknowledge "Lord, Savior, Creator God".

How to Lose 10 Pounds in 30 Days Without Even Trying

Oooh!, you say! You want to lose weight? And do it in a short 30 days?

Well, I bet you don't want to lose it as I did.

How about this method?
Gall bladder surgery on an outpatient basis.
Followed by major surgery and an 8-day stay in the hospital, most of which is spent foodless.
Followed by a surprise trip back to the hospital for another 5-day stay, again on IVs and foodless.
Followed by a short, minor surgery on an outpatient basis.

Yep. Weight loss. Stepped on the scales today and I've lost 10 pounds in the past 30 days.

Did I say it was Easy? Ooooooh, Nooooo, this was not easy. And no matter how I respect their skill, I hope to never have to speak to a surgeon again.

Not that I'm averse to surgeons. They were needful in my situation. The past 30 days have been two steps forward, one step backward, preparing for events ahead that will hopefully keep me "on the mend".

I am extremely grateful that we live in a time when the medical establishment can do things for us that were totally unavailable to our grandparents. And I'm grateful for wisdom that God gives to those who work to bring us back to health.

Friday, February 20, 2009

My Reading Habit

Several years I have disciplined myself to reading through the Bible. But I am dismayed when I read the same thing over and over again ... particular chapters in Chronicles, Kings, Samuel (I may or may not have the correct books mentioned here) are almost identical word for word in that some chapters in these book document the same historical event of a particular king(s). It's like reading a history book over and over again.

So this year I've printed out a chronological reading plan. This will allow me to read through the Bible in the order that events occurred.

My problem? I keep losing my list! Ugh! How can you lose a piece of paper that should be tucked inside your Bible?

If you are an online reader (I am not) you can find a plan suited to your tastes here or a similar plan here.

And if you'd like to try the chronological order, here's a reading plan that you can print out and place in your Bible.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

This is No Example of True Honor and We Need to Say So!

This news article about the murder of Aasiya Z. Hassan (reportedly) at the hands of her Muslim husband is disturbing. It's not enough that the death itself, and the method of death, is horrifying. Worse, the media is playing along with the use of the oxymoron term of 'honor killing'.

Tell me, someone, please tell me, where is there honor in killing a wife (or husband) with whom you cannot live in peace?

If this man gets away with justifying the death because of Honor, what about the drunk fellow down the street who stabs his straying girlfriend and who claims to be of Christian faith (or no faith for that matter)?

Honor! Doesn't that word denote respect, integrity, deference, honesty, consideration? Where is there a reason to kill a formerly loved one and call it Honor? I defy any religion to define itself in such a way that this term (honor killing) is an attribute of that religion. For to do so is to show the duplicity and evil of such religion. It's time for Islam to clean house and re-establish real honor! Then, and only then, can those of other faiths stand in respect of proponents of Islam.

Bill Clinton - a Calvinist? He SAYS He Is!

I write this with a bit of a snicker but check out this post/video wherein Bill Clinton remarks that he is a Calvinist.

Excuse me while I roll on the floor, howling with laughter. I'll regain control in a moment.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Dangers of Lip Synch - Or Please Listen to Your Grandmother

Lip Synch? That's about singing, isn't it? Well....yes. But this post is not about's about kissing. And more to the point it's about teaching your children to NOT kiss! At least to Not kiss on the Lips.

When I was small we visited my grandparents maybe 4 or 5 times a year and the "goodbye" at the end of each visit meant an obligatory kiss on the cheek. Since Grandpa was old and whiskery and gruff and had a full bushy white mustache, this was an intimidating prospect. Grandma wasn't much less intimidating...she was such a quiet person and busy with household tasks and did not laugh and sing with us. She was an old woman, stooped and bent, not the happily interactive Gramma of today. But at the end of each visit we dutifully allowed them to give us a quick kiss on the cheek which we surreptiously wiped away with our shirt sleeve.

We were never asked to kiss an adult on the lips. However, we did have one relative who insisted on a goodbye lip kiss. I hated that. Lip kisses are never dry. For a small child that is a bit Uuuuugh! And I am convinced that the cold sores (fever blisters) that I suffered with for years were a result of those kisses.

What is my point, you ask? I am dismayed that today's young parents actively teach their infants and toddlers to give a quick buss on the lips. It's cute! Little Baby learns quickly and Mommy and Baby laugh together as Baby kisses on request. Believe me, you can get just as much fun out of teaching Baby to kiss you on the cheek! Do It! Forgo the Lip Kiss!

Here's my take on it. First...kissing on the lips should be relegated to the appropriate time of life. (I hope you are conservative in teaching your children about what is "appropriate".) Kissing on the lips is a sexualizing do you teach your infant or toddler it is appropriate to kiss this person and not that person? (We have a friend whose 5-year-old has been reprimanded by the school for kissing his classmates! And now Dad and Mom have to tell him that kissing is not appropriate on the school grounds!)

Secondly, kissing on the lips does run a minor risk of transmitting STDs such as herpes...not to mention transmitting colds and viruses. You can click here or here to read more about that...the risk is minimal, but it is still a risk. Are you willing to consider that risk to be so minimal as to not worry about it?

Thirdly, how do you know that the third cousin on your mother's side who happens to be visiting your home for the week is not a potential/active offender? A high percentage of child molestation is perpetrated by someone in the household, whether friend or family. Do not offer up your child as a willing/unwilling participant in a kissing game!

As Mom and Dad, you are the protector of your children. Be Wise!

This is your Grandmother speaking!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Foods I'm Learning to Love

My innards are more wonky than most. Surgery usually means that the digestive system is put to sleep right along with the rest of the body. The problem is this...once asleep, it's hard to awaken. That's why you get to first eat clear liquids before more substantial fare can enter your system. Clear liquids include such tasty items as Hot Broth and Cold Jello (ugghhh). Once your system tolerates those, you graduate to strained soup. And advance slowly from there.

Usually within a couple days, the system is up and going! But I'm not here to tell you the my case, my system is the UNusual. It takes my innards forever and ever to awaken and this past week has been definite proof of that. So I have been cautious about what I eat.

It surprises me that I have begun hankering soft-cooked eggs! Me! The farm kid who always wanted her eggs fried hard. No runny yolks for me! No, Sirree! But this week I've devoured (and loved) soft eggs. And for dessert? How about a few cooked prunes! Yum. And best of all, avocados! Plain avocados. Eaten out-of-the-shell avocados. Hooo-Yahhhh! Those avocados are yummy. My tummy says so.

And I hate to admit it but I even like those bottles of Ensure. Vanilla.

Give me another day or so and I'll be extolling some food that sounds a little more normal. (she said with a smile)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Walmart - Love it? Hate it?

Another blogger brought this article to my interesting take on Walmart, a business that is vilified by some and loved by others....

Read this article by an undercover journalist here.

I Am Humbled

During the past three weeks we have been encouraged by the prayers of not only our home church but other churches and Bible study groups in our small town as well as friends from around the world. It is a humbling thing to receive a card in the mail from someone that you really know only by slight circumstance. And it is humbling to know that the family of God gathers around their own with prayer.

But it is humbling in a different manner as well. For while I occasionally send a get-well or a sympathy card, I am not faithful about that. And my prayers are often scant in their content and thought in regards to others. I am so lacking.

God has humbled me through the prayers of those who are His.

P.S. I am back home again. We left the hospital yesterday midst a dangerous snowfall. Our trip meant a short trek on a 4-lane freeway in the city and even though traffic was slow, it was still too fast. We were fortunate to be in the far left lane as we watched a 5-6 car fender-bender occur immediately to our right. I felt so badly for those involved. The road surface was so slick that any tap on the brakes meant going into a sideways skid and that is exactly what happened. When there is only a few feet clearance between yourself and the car to your right or left, that is a dangerous thing and one young couple in a small car careened boom-boom-boom from one car to the next. Fortunately the slow speed meant no injuries other than badly damaged vehicles.

We were in prayer for the next thirty miles where we reached the edge of the storm and had dry roads home from there.

Life is full of adventure! Who needs to watch reality shows. Life itself is much more real!

Today's Scripture? Jeremiah 29:11

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Today's Word is "Submit"

We're back in the hospital and I'll not fill you in with the ugly details. Suffice it to say I've experienced my first ambulance ride from our local emergency room to the larger hospital 60 miles away.

Things are moving slowly but at least we believe positively.

As Christians we pray, of course, that God will heal and bless and extend mercy. But also, as Christians, we are quite familiar with the scripture that points out the demise of such a great man as John the Baptist. From having experienced the high moment of his life as a prophet when he observed the Holy Spirit descend upon Jesus at His baptism, he ended up in prison and at the mercy of Herod. Surely he must have been wondering, "Was I wrong? Was I a false prophet? Was I self-deluded?" To have seen Jesus confirmed by the Holy Spirit and by the voice of the Father and then to find himself in the lowest depths of despair must have been totally confusing to the Baptist.

And did Jesus rescue him from his untimely death? No. Instead he exhibits to John's followers His miracles of healings and he tells them to report to John. Jesus reassures John that John had not erred in proclaiming the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. Jesus gave him reassurance but did not rescue him from his plight. John's head still ended up on Herod's platter.

Today's health, wealth and prosperity so-called-gospel tells us that if we have enough faith, that if we pray hard enough, if we are obedient enough, or if we pay enough seed money, that God will surely heal. And conversely, if we are not healed, we are at fault for not having enough faith.

I have to ask, "What!? Did not Jesus love John? And does He not love those who are His?"

And so I presume, that as a Christian, God may or may not heal me. He may cause me to go through more fire. Whichever, in acknowledging Jesus as Lord, I can only bend and submit to His will.

Thanks be to God.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Buzz the Camo Bear

While I was in the hospital my daughter brought me a bear from the gift shop. His tag said his name was "Willow", but I informed everyone his name was really "Buzz". Maybe because I myself was still buzzed.

Buzz did an admirable job of providing cushion for my tummy or for snuggling and warming my ear.

Nurses, aides, and visitors alike commented on Buzz Bear. My humor must have been too subtle for not once did I get a giggle out of my comment that "He's wearing Camo." As in camouflage! Get it! He's white! The bed is white! The pillow is white!

Not a single giggle.

I think they thought I was still buzzed. But I know Arctic Camo when I see it.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

What I'm Reading

Picked up a book that my beloved has been reading and am enjoying it immensely. "The Reformation: How a Monk and a Mallet Changed the World by Stephen J. Nichols gives a clear overview of the Reformation from the time of Martin Luther (and before) through the Puritan era.

The book by Crossway is written clearly and neatly and easy enough for me to understand. I like history anyway, so this is right up my line...not that I'm going to retain names, dates, etc., but I get the gist of the book...that the Reformation brought the church back to the bottom-line basic of the gospel of the Cross of Christ. If we forget the gospel, the church has left its moorings and we must always come back to the redemption offered by Christ at the Cross.

A funny thing...the second part of the title is printed on the cover in an old English script and I glanced at it several times and thought it said "How a Monk and a WALLET Changed the World", mistaking the M for a W. Silly me.