Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ten Commandment Boogie

The Ten Commandment Boogie by Go Fish is a GREAT way to learn or teach the 10 Commandments.

I dare you to sit still while listening to this. Z and me just couldn't help ourselves... If you think the dancers in this video are awesome, you should've seen our groovin' moves this morning. :)

Monday, October 29, 2012

His Burden is Light

It's Monday, and this is one of those weeks. I am standing on the brink. What I see before me is a mountain of tasks to accomplish, lists to make, lessons to teach, gatherings to plan, food to cook, rooms to clean, and people to call. It is overwhelming.

People's brains and bodies handle stress in all sorts of ways. Unfortunately for me, my body tends to respond with slowly building excitement... then anxiety... then crashes into a migraine.

But I am not doomed to this pattern. There is hope.

Jesus says...

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” - Matthew 11:28-30

One time when I had a lot on my plate, a friend told me to allow Jesus to be my "task-master," because Jesus' burden is light. He would not give me more than I could handle. In fact, he only calls me to do one thing for one moment.

With Jesus in charge of The List, my soul can rest.

So I will remember that today and ask him to help me make The List. Then I will come to Jesus, the good task-master, and say, "Lord, which of these things do you want me to do right now?"

He will give me just one thing to do from The List. I will do it. And for that moment I won't think about any of the other tasks on The List... because those aren't the tasks the Lord has given me. Get behind me, all you spirits of drivenness and guilt! 

I will focus on the one task at hand. And I will do it carefully, keeping in mind that my relationships are more important than getting things done.

Then, when I finish my task, I will come back to my task-master and ask again, "Lord, what do you want me to do right now?" And I will think about and do only the one assignment that he gives me.

Having someone else as the boss of your life can be great news on days like today! It helps me so much to remember that I don't have to juggle, I don't have to keep up with a schedule. Jesus is so much more capable than me and able to handle The List.

I am busy; it is time to stop and pray.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Black Bean Brownies

I've been wanting to try making black bean brownies for a long time and finally did it. I used my smoothie maker and although the bottom wasn't screwed on all the way and at one point the kitchen was a humongous mess of chocolate puddles... these brownies still turned out as good as I'd hoped!

This recipe was adapted and you can find the original here.

2 cans black beans, drained
2/3 c melted coconut oil or butter
1/2 c cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 tsp vanilla extract
1 c agave nectar
6 eggs, beaten
1 c chopped-up bittersweet chocolate
2/3 finely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9x13" pan. Place all but the final three ingredients into a blender/food processor; blend until smooth.Fold in remaining ingredients. Pour into pan and bake for 30 minutes. Let cool.

I stored mine in the fridge because I preferred them cold. We have been enjoying them with sugar-free ice cream. Chocolate + Protein = Fabulous!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Gospel in 10 Words

"You must."

"I can't."

"He can."

"Please do."

"Thank you!"

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Walking Salad

When I was a young lass, my aunt would have my sister and me over for special weekends at her house in Rochester, Minnesota. She would take us to the Farmer's Market, the Pannekoeken restaurant, and nature explorations and fun hikes.

The Walking Salad is an old Girl Scout recipe that I learned from Aunt Gen. Most people don't think of carving an apple hollow like a pumpkin, but it's a pretty sweet memory to have as a kid. And it really is great to pack for hikes. I still eat this salad for lunch all the time -- but I skip the hollowed apple part. You can just cut up an apple and eat the filling in a bowl!

Added bonus: Eating an apple a day never fails to give me an energy boost.

Braeburns are my favorite. Yum.

12 apples
1/2 c walnuts, chopped
2 c cottage cheese
1/2 c raisins
2 tbsp mayonnaise

Cut tops off apples and core them, leaving the bottoms on the apples. Scoop out apple pulp and chop it up. Mix everything; stuff mixture into apple shells and put the tops back on. Carry each apple in a ziploc bag until ready to eat! Keep cold. Serves 12.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Jesus' Death Turns Horror Into Holy

Today I am pondering an article by Doug Phillips, who dares to ask, What is going on with horror fixations?

It's no wonder that TV, movies, books... entertainment media in general... is becoming more violent, more provocative, and more disturbing. But could the reason we like to disturb our senses with thoughts of death be that something in us is still not quite satisfied in the thought of Jesus' death?

"It is finished," he proclaimed from the cross. 

But have those words made it all the way from his lips to my heart?

Think of it, no guilt in life. If it is indeed finished, then the price for my unrighteousness has been paid in full. God knows all the hurts and offenses I have caused, and he offers me peace. I don't owe anyone anything because my guilt has been taken upon Jesus. I'm forgiven. It is finished!

Imagine, no fear in death. Why should we ever associate death with fear? In the movies or on Halloween or even in our diseased bodies... we know that Jesus' death has finished death and though we die, we live on.

Whatever we decide to do or celebrate this time of year, may our hearts be full of joy and satisfaction in the greatest love story ever told. (The real one.)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Flounder Teriyaki

Tonight we're eating fish. I try to make fish once a week to keep our brains healthy. The thing about fish is you have to do a good job of disguising enhancing the fishy flavor. Especially if you want kids to eat it. I have collected some good fish recipes and this is one of them. This one has a sweet flavor and we like it.

Does the picture look a little gross? That's because it's a "before" picture... as in, before I baked it. But isn't the broccoli arranged just so beautifully? :) I roasted that along with the fish and the teriyaki flavor was great with the broccoli, too.

1 lb flounder fillets (or pollock, halibut, orange roughy)
1 green onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 c apple juice
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp oil
2 tsp agave nectar
1/4 tsp pepper

Place fillets in a sprayed 9x13" pan, skin side down. Mix other ingredients and spoon over the fish. Cover with foil and refrigerate one hour. Heat oven to 375° and bake, covered, for 15-20 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Serves four.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Mistakes Happen

This is the lesson we are apparently learning/teaching right now in preschool.

I was so looking forward to the memory obstacle course today. I thought Z would for sure love it, because it's such a FUN activity and he'd get to use his physical strength! Well, I was a bit disappointed because he only sorta-liked it and only because we talked through his frustrations.

Our son gets frustrated when he makes mistakes, when he messes up. Who doesn't, right? But kids are such a great reflection of their parents, and sometimes I just have these light bulb moments where I see what we are really teaching by example.

I explained to Z that mistakes happen, and it's okay, because we can just learn from it and try again.

And I looked into his eyes and saw them change from, "I can't do this! I messed it up! It's hopeless!"... to a skeptical, "Are you sure, Mom?"... to "Oh... okay... really?... okay. I am safe and okay now. I want to try again."

And in that tiny moment when I saw that shift... I just felt so privileged and honored that God gave him to me, to handle with care. And glad that I got to go through that with him. I got to watch him try the obstacle course again, and again, and each time he made a mistake but he was a bit more confident that he could keep going and not give up. I got to encourage him through that.

And is it irony or divine orchestration that we happen to be talking about forgiveness this week, and the story of Joseph forgiving his brothers? Just today, we talked about making bad choices (mistakes), and the opportunity to come before a loving God and be forgiven.

I want our child to learn forgiveness, and many other things. But today it was clear -- our child needs it modeled a wee bit more.

How can I model that mistakes happen and there's a way to not be stuck in frustration and a way not to beat ourselves up??

I can forgive myself.

I can not be so critical.

I can forgive Shane.

I can laugh more and get over it...

He is only a few years old, but this is the way I am challenged as his teacher. As a parent. And so it begins!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pumpkin Chai Bars

I really like chai, so when I saw this recipe from The Spunky Coconut I just had to try it. These bars are so yummy and make you feel like fall! The following is my slightly adapted version.

2 c pecan pieces
1 c almond flour
10 soft pitted dates
4 tbsp butter, melted
1 1/2 c coconut milk
1 can pumpkin
1/2 c palm sugar
20 drops liquid stevia
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp ginger
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 packets unflavored gelatin

In a food processor, puree pecans, flour, dates, and butter. Press into a 9 x 13" pan. In a saucepan, simmer coconut milk, pumpkin, palm sugar, stevia, vanilla, salt, cardamom, ginger, and cinnamon until the sugar is just dissolved. Whisk in gelatin and simmer 1-2 minutes, until it looks a little thick. Pour mixture over crust and refrigerate until solid. Store in the fridge.

Scrumptious! I enjoyed these with a little glass of almond milk.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

10 Things I Like About Preschool

The ABC Jesus Loves Me curriculum has been great so far! We really like it. And Z is learning so much. We are on Week 8 of 36, and I'm happy to report that school is becoming a positive part of our routine.

Play-doh Fun

Ten Things I Like About Preschool:

Nature Walk Display

1) We do preschool three days a week, but if we don't get to something, we can do it on other days. It's flexible and we can work with our family's schedule. We can work more or less on things Z likes or needs more help with.

Feeding a sheep

2) Each week has a Bible story theme. Crafts, memory verse, activities, song, and a character trait go along with the theme. By the end of the week we have talked a lot about the story, re-told it, and it's caught in Z's brain.

The Widow's Offering

3) There is a new fine motor and gross motor activity each week.

V is for Vegetables

W is for Wiry, Wiggly Worms

4) I get to pick out the most active activities to help my very active little boy learn best.

Hay Maze at the Orchard

5) I can use my mommy-sense to change things or take breaks when needed.

Us :)

6) Book of the week and library book recommendations I trust.

Binoculars (or Camera, depending on who you ask)

7) "Daddy will be WEALLY impwessed when he sees THIS!"


8) "Mommy, it's time to do YOUR pweschool now. I will teach you."

Finding spider webs, the latest favorite activity

9) Field trips + family time = Awesome.

The Corn Pool at the Orchard

10) Preschool is proving to be a great tool, giving a bit of structure to our family's "learning lifestyle." :)

With Farmer Justin after harvesting corn in the combine

It has been a blessed fall! I'm realizing that preschool is really just a lot of playing and learning - which we do anyway - but with a little extra purpose behind those activities. I thank God for the opportunity I get to spend with this amazing little boy everyday, and the privilege of preschool.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Praying for the Nations

Sometimes God reminds me to pray.

It happened last Tuesday night. Shane was working late, Ezekiel was sleeping, and I was going through our mail. I came across the Together In Prayer newsletter put out by the World Mission Prayer League. This is the monthly publication that I designed and worked on at WMPL a few years back. When I got to Chuck's editorial, I was reminded again of how Jesus commissions us to "make disciples of all the nations."

This word "nations" is repeated throughout the Bible and is often mistaken for political countries, the areas where humans have drawn lines on maps. However, that word "nations" is literally translated "ethnic people groups." For example, India is one political country, but check out all the ethnos nations within India. I believe these ethnos are the nations Jesus was talking about when he commissioned us.

An ethnic people group nation is a group of people who understand and accept each other. Generally, they speak the same language. There are many more languages spoken in the world than there are countries.

What's more, Jesus said he won't be coming back until the gospel has been preached to all these groups!

When I lived in the Mission Home, praying for the nations of the world was an everyday thing. "When in Rome..." But now, somehow, it has faded into a once-in-a-while thing. So I prayed on Tuesday night as I packed Shane's lunch, and my heart was stirred again.

That is what most amazes/surprises me about praying for the nations. Admittedly, most of the time I am praying for myself and thinking about myself. Or at least praying and thinking about someone in my corner of the world. But when I bow and pray for strangers whom God so loves, especially if I do it on a regular basis, I start to care. I start to care about what God cares about, and the commission he has given me.
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
- Matthew 9:35-38

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The God of Jacob

Today in church we saw how, in our sinful nature, we  are determined to set up idols we can worship. (See Genesis 29, about Jacob, Rachel, and Leah.)

We worship relationships, money, football, careers, hobbies, our kids, ourselves, possessions... And sometimes most of the time, we don't even realize we are doing it! Worshiping something just comes so naturally because God created us to passionately worship Him.

But unfortunately - as if God wasn't enough - before we know it we are skipping time with God so we can watch our favorite TV show, if you will. The Holy Spirit opened my eyes this morning to an idol in my life, and it was a good chance to listen to him and repent.

Thankful for a God who cares enough to make me clean. The God of Jacob...

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Why Must We Suffer?

Experiencing chronic migraine as a family has caused us to ask God much about the purpose of suffering in our life. Many times we have sensed him showing us a purpose for which he is using our suffering, or a cause of it. Other times we don't know exactly why, but we remember that suffering on this earth is caused by the presence of sin in general, and we are challenged again to come to the Cross of Jesus... and trust in the GOODness and sovereignty of our Father. This video does a good job of explaining the things we have learned about God and suffering.

David Platt on the Doctrine of Suffering from Desiring God on Vimeo.

What have you learned through suffering?