Thursday, February 26, 2009
I just finished the book Eli, by Bill Myers, for my class. I am so glad that my class is reading this book. It is sharing the gospel in a way that they can understand and relate to.
Eli is about a man who gets into an accident at the beginning of the book. This man, Conrad, has made a lot of mistakes over the course of his lifetime, and was basically left with nothing to live for. Affairs, leaving his wife and daughter, many divorces, etc. When he got into the accident, he went into a coma. While he was in this coma, he went into a "parallel universe," which I would consider basically the same thing as a dream. But, it was more real than a dream. He was living in this other universe as if life was normal, except for one thing. Jesus had not come 2000 years ago. He came in 1970. When he "woke up" in this universe, he recognized everything, except it looked older and wasn't as developed. He figured out that it was 1970, and through a series of (kind of funny- the shepherds were hippies!) events, ended up at a motel, where Jesus was born in the laundry room. The book flashed back to his daughter who was with him in the hospital room, then back to him, only Jesus was older. Oh, and the name for Jesus in this book was Eli Shepherd. Through Eli, you see what it would have been like for Jesus to live now. He hung out with the "scum of society," only those people were porn producers, transvestites, druggies, racists, etc. He heals, raises people from the dead, and speaks truth against the religious establishment.
"Eli strips away religious tradition to present Jesus fresh and unvarnished" (found on the back of the book). This statement is so true.
In the preface, he reminded his readers that it is not easy bringing such rich culture into the present, it is really possible to discuss the prophecies being fulfilled, and tells how he feels he has deprived the story much of its depth. It's also difficult to show just how dark a world would be without Jesus. He said, "To accurately portray a world in which Christ has not yet come would be to create a society so dark and ugly that it's doubtful any of us would recognize it, let alone relate to it." So, if you decide to read it, keep those things in mind. He urges his readers to pick up God's Word and read that before they read this book. He calls this an "appetizer," telling them to "go to the real banquet."
Now... onto what God is teaching me through this. I completely understand that Jesus died so that we might have life. Jesus died for our sins so that we may have a relationship with Him, and a way into the kingdom of God. Jesus paid our debt, had mercy on us, and provides grace. Jesus loves us for who we are. This book put it into more of a reality for me.
Throughout Eli's life and ministry, Eli would tell them that justice and mercy would come together soon. Soon they would see how. When he was being beaten, he kept saying "Justice and mercy." When Eli was being beaten, Conrad looked down at Eli, only to see himself. Through this (it happened several times), he began to see what he was talking about. "That's what he deserved. That and more. That was the justice that Eli was talking about." He kept trying to help him, but he couldn't. It was very difficult for him to understand why Eli had to be the one to suffer and die. Through this, Conrad was having flashbacks of his life. "More failures. From childhood, from adolescence, from his adult life." "Justice and mercy. Justice and Mercy." He was starting to realize at this moment that the two were being brought together. "Suddenly the realization roared into place, so powerful that it left Conrad staggering under another wave of dizziness. Was it possible? Could it be? Here? Here, at this very moment? Could it be that the two were finally being united? Justice for every one of Conrad's failures? Punishment for all he'd ever done wrong? But a punishment poured out onto someone else? Yes, Conrad should be up there. Yes, Conrad was the one who should be punished. But another person was taking that punishment for him. Justice was still being accomplished, holiness was still being preserved, but through the suffering of someone else instead of Conrad. Through the suffering of Eli. And that- that was the mercy. Justice and mercy. Two opposite truths coming together in one man, in one act of unfathomable love." When Eli died, Conrad could not look away. "This was his. What Eli was undergoing was the punishment for Conrad's own failures. Failures for which he would never have to suffer. Justice was being served. Pure, undefiled, holy justice... and with it, infinite, loving mercy. Together. At the same time. In one man."
"In the old world, the one before the accident, when he heard of Christ dying for his sins, he simply chalked it up to being part of his culture- a lathering televangelist, a dangling necklace, a peeling fresco. But what he'd seen was the slaughter of a real human being, a loving, giving person, the greatest person he'd ever met. The slaughter of love that had looked him directly in the eyes and said, 'I'm doing this for you- it's all for you.' "
This morning, I've been listening to my iPod on shuffle. Many of the songs have been playing have been talking about Jesus' death and what that means. Here are the lyrics to a song that I keep listening to over and over:
Blood on My Hands, by Todd Agnew
Each crack of that whip was for my mistakes
Blood is on my hands
Each stumble up that hill was my step to take
Blood is on my hands
How do I say thanks for this
In the cross, In the cross, be my glory ever
Till my ransomed soul shall find
Rest beyond the river
Each tear that flowed was by my sorrow sown
Blood is on my hands
Each drop that was spilled, my debt fulfilled
His blood is on my hands
How can I say thanks for this
Jesus keep me near the cross
There a precious fountain
Free to all, a healing stream
Flows from Calvary’s mountain
I live every day focusing on what I do wrong, how I can do better, how I let people down. The justice for my sin created through Jesus' death, brings mercy. Because of Jesus' death and resurrection, I have freedom from this. I CAN'T be perfect. That is WHY Jesus had to die. Truly, through His death and resurrection, we have life, and life abundantly. I should serve, grow, do good works, etc because of my love for Him, not because I have to in order to have a relationship with Him. He loves me. That's all I need. He could never love me more, He could never love me less. He just loves me. And that love stirs a desire in me to spend time with Him daily, serve Him, and share Him. I mess up, daily. Praise God for His forgiveness. I have freedom. Freedom. Freedom.
Justice and Mercy.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Ethan is now 8 months, and he is the cutest baby in the world (of course I would say that!). But, I'm not the only one who says that!! He laughs and smiles all the time. He has BIG, beautiful blue eyes, and a big, beautiful smile.
He's been a bit more difficult as a baby than Karis was, but that's okay. Every baby is different! He still doesn't sleep through the night every night (although, he does sleep through about 4 out of 7 nights). When he does "sleep through the night," he's up really early. He's just a hungry boy! Karis slept through the night at about 2 1/2 months (12-13 hours a night), so this is different. Robert and I take turns, so it's not so bad. Also, even though he's a BIG boy, he doesn't eat much solids. He isn't all that interested. I'm working on it by giving him different types of foods, trying to find something that he likes :). He likes things like butternut squash, sweet potatoes, green beans, etc. But, not much else... He will eat a few finger foods. I guess he's just not ready for any more than that at this time!
He has recently started giving big, wet kisses :).
He has started pulling himself around with his upper body a few weeks ago. I think it'll be a little while until he can crawl on all fours because he's middle heavy :).
At his last appointment, he was 22 pounds!! That was about a month ago. So, he's probably about 23 now. He is a BIG boy. (Karis is almost 3 and weighed 29 pounds at her last appointment)
He LOVES his sister, and really loves his daddy. If daddy is in the room, he must be holding him :).
Here are a few pics of him:
Oh, and he has an awesome permanent mohawk! It's fun :).
Next, I will be writing a blog about Ethan, and about some things that God is teaching me.
I think this website explains it better than myself; check it out:
The summary of this website (if you don't have time to check it out) is:
- Good for your heart
- Promotes weight loss
- Supports your immune system
- Good for your metabolism
- Gives you energy
- Good for your skin
- Helps your thyroid gland to function properly
- Tastes good! :) I use it in just about everything now. The other oil that I use is Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and some canola oil. Although, I don't plan to buy canola oil anymore.
I have found many great sources to talk about just how bad this stuff is. I will sum it up:
- Hydrogenated oils were originally created to make it more shelf stable
- Hydrogenated oils are created by adding hydrogen, which changes the chemistry of unsaturated oils, making it solid (margarine, Crisco, etc)
- These were originally created thinking that it was better because it was unsaturated, but unfortunately, when hydrogenation occurs, these healthy fats are turned into trans fat
- Trans fat work to increase the "bad cholesterol" (LDL), and decrease the "good cholesterol (HDL), therefore, just doing the opposite of what was originally intended. These fats are far more damaging than even saturated fats.
- The body has a hard time figuring out what to do with trans fat (it doesn't digest well); therefore, it results in weight gain.
- Eating hydrogenated oils have been linked to diabetes, heart disease, obesity, etc. in many scientific studies.
- Fat is necessary for the body, but it is best to do this by choosing good fats such as avocadoes, nuts, olive oil, and coconut oil (this one is being newly discovered as healthy!).
- Most refined, processed foods contain trans fat (or hydrogenated oils).
Do your own research on this! I just couldn't believe what I was reading!!
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Yesterday, we started a chore chart. She LOVES it. She's all about helping me now. Today, her behavior was SO much better than it has been lately. She was very helpful and stayed busy. There was no time for throwing fits. I strongly suggest starting a "chore chart" for your little ones. It teaches responsibility, helping others, desire to be part of the family, service, etc. She's learning now what her responsibilities are in this family, and it will continue til she leaves home :). Soon (not sure when), we're going to start giving her a small allowance, and teach her how to split it up. 10% tithe (first), 10% savings, and the rest she can spend if she wants. I still think she's a bit young now, and I will give her some other kind of treats for now.
Anyway... that's the latest with Karis. I will write a blog about Ethan tomorrow. There's just not as much to talk about with a baby, although, he's growing up fast! :)
I commented on her page (along with a LOT of other people), but I thought that I would share my thoughts here. These are my priorities when buying and preparing food:
1) Whole foods (not processed), homemade
2) Pasture fed, no hormones or antibiotics, cage free, etc.
Even though Organic is at the bottom, it doesn't mean it's not important to me. All of those things are important to me. Let me explain.
1) I have been doing a lot of researching and learning about food and why high nutrition is important. I have learned that this is a life-long process, and one that will improve over time. It is something that I will continue to implement slowly, and it's a life-style change, not a "diet trend." I'm not focusing on losing weight, I'm focusing on health.
But, ultimately, for me, the most important thing is to feed my family whole, nutrient-dense food. This includes things like meat and poultry, eggs, beans, lentils, nuts, whole grains (wheat, spelt, oats, etc), fresh fruits and veggies, milk, cheese, yogurt, etc.
2) My next priority (recently) is to make sure that the meat, poultry, eggs, milk, cheese, butter, etc are at least hormone and antibiotic free, cage free, and grass fed (when possible). The reason for this is that hormones and antibiotics have had a horrible affect on people, and the research that I have read is enough for me to do this. Grass fed is healthier because they contain higher nutrients, much of the time lower fat, and in things like butter, lower saturated fat. The most important part of that for me is the higher nutrients. In this case, buying organic isn't enough because the only difference is that they feed them organic feed. They are still stuck in a pin, which means they aren't healthy. Buying in places like HEB (meat) isn't attractive to me anymore after I spoke with a rancher who sells grass fed beef (that I will be buying from). He said that when he has a sick longhorn, he sends it to HEB. Interesting, huh? He's not "certified organic" because it just costs more than it's worth. He lets the people who buy from him see his longhorns, and see that they truly are pasture fed. He doesn't give hormones, antibiotics, etc, and they truly are just free to roam the pasture. I still haven't found free-range chickens in the area, so I will just keep buying from Whole Foods for now because it's at least natural (although, I will be meeting with someone soon who will probably be able to tell me where to find this!!).
3) Sense I've started buying from Whole Foods, I've actually had much more opportunity to buy local, believe it or not. Buying local is important because it saves money and energy, it is a way to support local farmers, and it's easier to know how they treat their animals, etc. I want to shop at the local farmer's market, but their hours are really hard for our family (luckily, we've started our first garden!). Much of the time, local farms are "organic," without the organic label. Being USDA organic is expensive, and it's just not worth it. By being labeled "organic," they have to charge more. Much of the time the organic label is a way to charge more for products (although, not always).
4) Most things I buy are organic. I especially follow the "dirty dozen" list of buying organic, and things that we use a lot of we buy organic. Pesticides can cause a lot of health issues, so it's important to us. But, the more I learn about true nutrition and that there are other things that are important, the less I focus on organic. I mean, organic pop-tarts are still pop-tarts. They are still pure sugar and refined flours. Still not healthy. So, organic isn't my focus. I buy organic when I can get it for close to the same amount. I just started buying organic flours because I can get them cheap at Whole Foods. I can get organic whole wheat flour for 59 cents a pound! That's an amazing price. There are many things there that are about the same price as non-organic, so it's worth it.
Though I buy "expensive" food, we have made other changes to make this possible (we are not rich all of a sudden...). We no longer buy ANY junk food. We used to buy Doritoes, Oreos, Nutty Bars, etc... Now, we just eat those things occasionally, but never in our home. We no longer buy pre-packaged food (except for Annie's mac n cheese and crackers occasionally; I also buy soem tortilla chips, but they are local and made with non-hydrogenated oils). I do keep things like Kool-aid around for people who come over (we have friends who LOVE it... my kids don't drink it and I don't drink it!). I have an organized plan, and we don't buy things that we don't need. I used to just go to the store and hope that I came home with something that resembled meals. Now, I know exactly what I'm going to get when I go in to the store, and I stick to the list. So, with careful planning, it is VERY possible to eat this way. But, it takes time and making one change at a time. A few years ago I went through and got rid of everything that I considered to not be healthy, and if it wasn't organic. I went shopping and bought all this organic stuff... I didn't stick with that. It was too drastic of a change. Slow is important!
So, there's my LONG opinion. What are your thoughts? Please share!!! I have been told that people read my blog, but when I ask questions, people don't respond :). I really want to know!! :)
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Organic Popcorn, popped in coconut oil (on the stove, in a pot with a lid), sprinkled sea salt and Nutritional Yeast (we bought this in the bulk section at Whole Foods). Nutritional yeast is SOOO good for you. Here is some info on it: http://www.bulkfoods.com/yeast.htm. The biggest thing that I like about it is that it is very high in protein.
It basically makes the popcorn a little creamy like cheese. It doesn't really taste like cheese though. I don't know how to explain the taste!! But, it's good!
Homemade "Goldfish" Crackers
1 cup all purpose (I used 1/2 spelt and 1/2 unbleached all purpose)
4 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
8 ounces grated cheese (it said to use sharp, but all I had was mild and it turned out fine)
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground pepper(For the salt and pepper, I just used my salt and pepper grinders and put a little in there)
(I only did 3/4 of the recipe because I didn't want to make too much)
1. Pulse the flour, butter, cheese, salt, and pepper together using a food processor until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
2. Pulse in 3-4 tablespoons of water, one tablespoon at a time, and only enough so that the dough forms a ball and rides the blade.
3. Remove, wrap in plastic, and chill for 20 minutes to 24 hours.
4. Heat oven to 350 degrees
5. Line 2 baking pans with parchment or wax paper, set aside (I used a silicone baking sheet)
6. Roll the dough out to 1/8th inch thickness. Cut out as many crackers as possible using a small cookie cutter.
7. Place them on the prepared baking pans (you can put them close together because they get smaller)
8. Bake until golden and crisp- 15 to 20 minutes
Store in airtight container for up to 1 week.
Make sure that you roll it as thin as possible. I had some that were too thick and so they never got quite crispy enough (although, they were really yummy anyway!).
Olive Oil Crackers
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup spelt flour
1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1 cup warm water
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil-Whisk together the flours and salt.
Add the water and olive oil.
Mix 5-7 minutes. Knead by hand on a floured counter-top.
The dough should be just a bit tacky - not too dry, not too sticky to work with.
If you need to add a bit more water (or flour) do so.
-When you are done mixing, shape the dough into a large ball. Now cut into twelve equal-sized pieces. Gently rub each piece with a bit of olive oil, shape into a small ball and place on a plate. Cover with a clean dishtowel or plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 30 - 60 minutes.
-While the dough is resting, preheat your oven to 450F degrees.
-When the dough is done resting, flatten one dough ball. Using a rolling pin, shape into a flat strip of dough. Pull the dough out a bit thinner by hand. You can also cut the dough into whatever shape you like at this point. Set dough on a floured (or cornmeal dusted) baking sheet, poke each cracker with the tines of a fork to prevent puffing, add any extra toppings, and slide into the oven (on a baking sheet). Repeat the process for the remaining dough balls, baking in small batches. Bake until deeply golden, and let cool before eating - you will get more crackery snap.
-Makes a dozen extra large crackers.
Thin Wheat Crackers
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, plus extra as needed
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons honey (you can also use sugar)
1/3 cup olive oil
Coarse sea salt for garnish
1) In a mixing bowl, mix the salt and flour. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, honey, and oil. Pour this into the flour mixture and stir with a large spoon until the dough forms a ball and all the flour is absorbed. The dough will be very soft.
2) Knead the dough for a few minutes on a well floured surface, adding more flour as needed until the dough forms a smooth ball and feels soft and supple, not sticky.
3) Divide the dough into three pieces and form each into a ball. Set two of the dough balls aside and roll out the third. Dust the counter with flour and also the top of the dough, pressing it with your hand to flatten it. Use a rolling pin to work the dough to a think oval, less than 1/8 inch thick.
4) Lightly coat with olive oil and sprinkle sea salt on top. Cut with cookie cutters (small ones), with a knife, or with a pizza cutter. Place on pan (covered with wax or parchment paper) very close together (they won't rise or spread out). Repeat with the other two balls.
5) With your oven heated to just under 300, cook for 24 minutes, rotating them every 8 minutes.
6) When they are finished, they will be lightly browned and stiff. Allow them to cool and crisp before removing them from the pan.
Banana Coconut Pudding
1 ripe banana, peeled and mashed
1/4 grated coconut
1/4 cup milk, half and half, or light cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla
In mixing bowl, beat eggs. Add banana, coconut, milk, and vanilla, and stir ingredients until blended. Pour mixture into a small casserole, then stand casserole in a larger plan almost filled with water. Place in oven at 350 for 1 hour or until set.
This recipe can be found here.
- ¾ cup lukewarm water
- 1 tsbp olive oil
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tsp active dry yeast
- 2 cups hard white wheat flour
- After the dough is completed in the machine, roll out into a circle and place on a pizza stone or pan. Let it rise while making the topping.
- Spread topping
- Bake for 20-25 minutes on 425 degrees.
Whole Grain Bread (1 loaf)
- 2 C whole white wheat flour (Either grind your own from hard white wheat berries or I currently use King Arthur brand white wheat flour. See my post about this for more information.)
- 1 tsp salt
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 3 Tbsp butter, softened
- 2/3 C warm water
- Mix flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl. Rub in the butter until all the pieces are smaller than a pea. Stir in the water and knead lightly until a soft dough forms.
- Cover with saran wrap and let it rest for 15 minutes.
- Divide into 12 pieces and roll into balls. If the dough is sticky, lightly dust your hands with flour only until it becomes manageable.
- Using a rolling pin, on a floured surface roll each ball out into about 6-inch rounds. I am able to stack them, slightly staggered into a couple piles.
- Heat a heavy frying pan or skillet to medium-high. Add one tortilla at a time and cook for 1-2 minutes, turning over as soon as the surface starts to bubble. The tortilla should stay flexible, but brown in some places. Remove from pan and wrap in a warm tea towel to keep warm while you cook the rest of the tortillas.
- Store by wrapping with saran wrap, then place in a ziploc bag and put in the refrigerator.
You will find the recipe here.
Whole Wheat Banana Pumpkin Muffins
Banana Crumb Muffins
Whole Wheat Pancakes
My Favorite Granola
Into a large casserole dish, mix:
Granola Bars (from http://cookhealthyfun.blogspot.com/)
This, to me, is like eating oatmeal in a portable form. It works well when on the run!
I got this recipe from http://heavenlyhomemakers.com. I cut it in half. It made 6 LARGE cookies.
Peanut Butter Smoothie
Baked and Soaked Oatmeal
(originally from www.keeperofthehome.org, but I changed a few things)
(soaking oats and whole grains helps to break down phytates, which impair digestion and can block mineral absorption)
The next morning: