Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Christ-Mass

I ran across these two quotes from one of the most respected historical Christian theologians and authors – Charles H Spurgeon.

“We have no superstitious regard for times and seasons. Certainly we do not believe in the present ecclesiastical arrangement called Christmas: first, because we do not believe in the mass at all, but abhor it, whether it be said or sung in Latin or in English; and, secondly, because we find no Scriptural warrant whatever for observing any day as the birthday of the Savior; and, consequently, its observance is a superstition, because not of divine authority.” (Charles Spurgeon, Sermon on Dec. 24, 1871).

“When it can be proved that the observance of Christmas, Whitsuntide, and other Popish festivals was ever instituted by a divine statute, we also will attend to them, but not till then. It is as much our duty to reject the traditions of men, as to observe the ordinances of the Lord. We ask concerning every rite and rubric, “Is this a law of the God of Jacob?” and if it be not clearly so, it is of no authority with us, who walk in Christian liberty.” (from Charles Spurgeon’s Treasury of David on Psalm 81:4.)

I found them very surprising, considering the source! A friend of mine recently did a little research on when the birth of Christ might have occurred by studying Scripture and she gave me permission to share it:

“’Luk 1:5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.’

“We know what ‘of the daughters of Aaron’ means, right? Elisabeth was a high priest’s daughter. Obviously Zacharias was a priest. What does ‘of the course of Abia’ mean? Who is Abia? Obviously a priest, but which one? Why does God even tell us about him at all in this passage? I won’t claim to know all the reasons why, but I do believe it at least helps us to ascertain when Messiah was born. I’ll show you how.

“1Ch 24:7 Now the first lot came forth to Jehoiarib, the second to Jedaiah,

“1Ch 24:8 The third to Harim, the fourth to Seorim,

“1Ch 24:9 The fifth to Malchijah, the sixth to Mijamin,

“1Ch 24:10 The seventh to Hakkoz, the eighth to Abijah,

“1Ch 24:11 The ninth to Jeshua, the tenth to Shecaniah,

“1Ch 24:12 The eleventh to Eliashib, the twelfth to Jakim,

“1Ch 24:13 The thirteenth to Huppah, the fourteenth to Jeshebeab,

“1Ch 24:14 The fifteenth to Bilgah, the sixteenth to Immer,

“1Ch 24:15 The seventeenth to Hezir, the eighteenth to Aphses,

“1Ch 24:16 The nineteenth to Pethahiah, the twentieth to Jehezekel,

“1Ch 24:17 The one and twentieth to Jachin, the two and twentieth to Gamul,

“1Ch 24:18 The three and twentieth to Delaiah, the four and twentieth to Maaziah.

“If you read that whole chapter, you will see that King David divided the high priests into sections. This helped determine when a certain high priest’s family would serve in the temple, to divide the work more evenly. You see that Zacharias is in the 8th section (Abijah, which is pronounced a-bee-yah in Hebrew, just like Abia in the Greek). There are 12 months in a year. There are 24 sections of high priests. That gives each high priest’s family about 2 weeks. The Biblical year starts in late March/early April usually. (Exo 12:2 “This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.” –The rest of the chapter describes Passover, which obviously normally happens in early April.) This loosely puts Jehoiarib and Jedaiah in April, Harim and Seorim in May, Malchijah and Mijamin in June, and Hakkoz and Abijah in July. Abijah is more in the second half of July or early August, specifically.

“Luk 1:23 ‘And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house. 24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived,’

“In Lev 15, it says that if you have relations with your wife, you’ll get struck dead if you go into the temple before the next sundown. So we know it’s been a minimum of 2 weeks since Zacharias and Elisabeth have been together. It’s not that far of a stretch to consider that they likely had relations when he got home, and that would have been when she conceived. This puts John the Baptist’s conception at late July/early August.

“Luk 1:26 ‘And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary…. 41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: 42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.’

“So we’re told that when Elisabeth is 6 months along, Mary goes to visit her. Elisabeth refers to the ‘fruit of [Mary’s] womb’ which means Mary has conceived. 6 months from late July is late December” (around Hanukkah/Christmastime; they sometimes intersect). ‘Considering that a pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks (closer to 10 months than the common count of 9), this puts John the Baptist’s birth right around Passover.’ We’re back at the first part of the Biblical year again. Since we know that Messiah was born 6 months after John the Baptist, then it’s more than likely that Messiah was born in late September/early October.

1135_Christmas%202007%20B%20010“Now, I’m sure you’re thinking, ‘DUH! I already knew He wasn’t born on December 25!” My question is, ‘Then why do you celebrate it on that date?’ I know the usual answer is, ‘Because we don’t know when He was actually born.’ That answer used to be good enough for me, but now I wonder why. I wonder why I never thought to ask who came up with that date.” Why don’t we just pick a date in September or October to celebrate His birth if we really want to do so? “If the study can’t be refuted, then there is no Biblical reason not to. In fact, there is no Biblical reason to celebrate it in December at all. There is only Catholic tradition. Doesn’t Protestantism pride itself on non-conformance with Catholic tradition?”

I happen to agree with my friend. Why don’t we, as Protestants, step away from the Catholic traditions? Why don’t we leave the Christ-mass to the Catholics? We hold to the claim of “Sola Scriptura!,” so why aren’t we? Just a little food for thought…and maybe a little fire under the pot.

Open-mouthed smile

If you are interested in learning more about these Catholic traditions, you can click the link to watch a video called Truth and Tradition.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Merry Happy Jolly Ho Ho Holly Christmas Day That Wasn’t Always So

To Christmas or not to Christmas…that is the question in some (well, a few) circles these days. However, the “few” circles seem to be growing in number each year.

Lucia-13_12_06Christmas is a celebration that most modern Americans grew up looking forward to every year. It is often a time for gifts, family, food, gifts, decorations, shopping, celebrating, more gifts... I love listening to Glenn Beck, being the unashamed freedom-celebrating conservative that I am. In a very recent show, he pointed out that Christmas became a civic holiday in the late 1800s. Glenn’s motivations are to de-materialize this day that has lost virtually all of it’s religious meaning for much of the general public, so he’s attempting to put faith and family back into the day. While I respect his noble motivations, here I have to stop to disagree with Glenn. Usually he’s very well researched, but this is a topic I had to consider further when he said that the day wasn’t widely celebrated (or at least it wasn’t made a national holiday) before the late 1800s because it was too sacred a day. I believe there are virtually always two sides to every story so I’m sure that may have been the reasoning for some Americans not celebrating the day, but there is a dark side to this day that was the reason that it had been previously outlawed by some of the foremost of our founding fathers.

Christmas is a “holiday” essentially created by the Roman Catholic church, it’s name deriving from “Christ-Mass.” Early medieval Catholicism essentially made-over pagan religious celebrations into a new “Christianized” holiday. It is not a Biblical holiday. While it has been “Christianized,” it is a day found nowhere in the Bible. I saw a church bulletin board the other day that quoted something along the lines of, “Holiday Means Holy-Day, Remember to Whom It Belongs.” This is a beautiful sentiment, but the application to Christmas is fallible. I’m going to jump right in and get both feet wet here. In the Bible, the word holy essentially means “set apart.” So in a way, it is true that Christmas is set apart, but it is set apart by man. There is absolutely no Biblical mandate made by God for people to celebrate Christmas. In the Bible, God sets apart several days that are to be celebrated, but Christmas is not among those.

Some of the earliest Americans knew this. Here comes the history lesson:

puritan-womanFollowing the Protestant Reformation of the 16th Century, new religious sects sprang up in England based on the strict teachings of John Calvin and John Knox. Following the rise of Oliver Cromwell and his “roundheads” in 1642, Christmas festivities, considered a “heathen practice” were outlawed, including singing Christmas carols, nativity scenes and any other obvious attempts at celebration. The Puritans made a point of abolishing the calendar of Christian feasts and saints’ days, which included Christmas, Easter, Whitsunday, and other saints’ days and holy days.

Puritans arriving in Massachusetts during the 17th Century brought this same disdain for Christmas with them. While Thanksgiving was an acceptable holiday in New England, Christmas certainly was not. In 1620, Governor William Bradford forbid any of the Pilgrims to observe the holiday. Instead, he noted that they felled trees and worked on building houses. Business as usual.1

The outlawing of Christmas persisted through the 17th century. Boston was among those banning it’s celebration.2 New England did eventually have many people who celebrated Christmas, especially as more and more settlers began arriving from Europe through the 17th and 18th Centuries. This trend is apparent in 1686 by a repeal of a 1659 law that fined people five shillings for feasting or any other perceived merriment on December 25th. Despite people’s growing acceptance of Christmas, it wasn’t made a civic holiday in New England until 1856.

The current practice of Christmas gift-giving and merriment did not start until the late 1800’s. People usually worked on Christmas. Newspapers of the era are filled with disturbing accounts of what Christmas was really like in those days: widespread rioting and drunkenness, and in the Puritan mind, Christmas was associated with the “Lords of Misrule.”3

The Puritans were on to something. The original roots of Christmas go back much farther than the 19th century to early days of medieval pagan worship practices, many of which are still practiced today in the pagan Wiccan religion.

The modern version of Christmas is a mixture of many pagan traditions from early civilizations, especially that of the ancient Romans. In modern times, the day is associated with decorated trees and gaily lighted houses, get-togethers with family and friends, feasts and parties, and of course weeks or months of shopping for the perfect gifts. Among some Christians, the day is celebrated as marking the birth of Jesus Christ, and entails masses, hymns, and other religious observation. The Christmas of the Middle Ages combined a mixture of secular, pagan Druid customs with the evolving religious Christian traditions. The Christmas celebrations of medieval times included roaring fires, Yule logs, and boar's head on a platter. Many of our modern traditions originated from that time with holly and mistletoe and carolers going door to door. But what most Westerners recognize as Christmas has a very long history, one that originated in pre-Christian rites and rituals.

December 25th

The winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, has been commemorated by ritualSymbolPagan_All probably since neolithic times. By the modern calendar, the date of the solstice falls around December 21st; ancient peoples, noticing the sun appeared not to move for three days before its re-ascent into the northern sky and the lengthening of days, celebrated the solstice — from the Latin meaning “sun stands still” — as a sort of rebirth of the sun. Many cultures recognized the event as a sort of birthday for their particular gods — the Egyptian sun god Horus, for example, was purported to have been born on December 25th. In fact, the ancient Romans, from the year 274, celebrated the festival of Sol Invictus, the “birthday of the unconquered sun,” on December 25. The Christian Church did not fix the date of Christmas at December 25th until the fourth century, and the celebration was not actually called Christmas until the ninth century. Prior to that, it was simply known as the Midwinter Feast, and celebrated as a combination of Saturnalia and the Norse Yule Festival.

Gifts, Feasting and Santa Claus

The ancient Romans are also responsible for most of the merrymaking associated with the modern version of Christmas. Saturnalia, a week-long festival celebrating the dedication of the temple of Saturn, featured feasting, drinking, slaves switching places with kings, and gift giving. The festival was immensely popular, and as Christianity overtook the Roman Empire, it added its own customs to the already existing pagan traditions to ease conversion. This blending of myths may also be responsible for the figure of Santa Claus, whose origins are believed to lie in the Norman Lord of Misrule, a red-robed character who oversaw the festivities of Saturnalia, mixed with the Christian St. Nicholas, patron saint of children.

Christmas Trees and Mistletoe

56343300CF008_Christmas_MisThe earliest recorded instance of a lit tree being erected to celebrate Christmas dates from 16th century Germany, in particular to a church in Strasbourg in 1539. But the veneration of evergreen trees as a symbol of fertility and rebirth dates back to pagan times. Likewise, the custom of hanging mistletoe is pagan in origin; the Druids considered it a sacred plant, and Vikings hung it on the doors of their houses as a welcome. Kissing under the mistletoe is thought to be associated with Saturnalia and with ancient Roman marriage rites.4

So it seems the Puritans and many other early Americans, in their desires to reform and worship the God of the Bible in an unadulterated manner, refrained from participating in Christmas for good reason, not because it was too sacred at day. Rather, they despised the day that was taken from pagan worship practices and “Christianized” to become a religiously observed holiday. It’s roots, however, are not so holy according to what the Bible regards as holy. It’s a day full of tradition and meaning for many, but to many others, the pagan rituals and origins of this celebration are too numerous too overlook.

To learn more:

1 http://www.suite101.com

2 http://www.americanheritage.com/articles/magazine/ah/1967/1/1967_1_107.shtml

3 http://askville.amazon.com

4 http://www.suite101.com

Friday, December 3, 2010

Hanukkah: MJ Style


This is simply a repost taken from Messianic Jewish Musings.  I just loved it so wanted to pass it along.


71139_175398885820274_4210763_nThe first candles of Hanukkah will be lit on December 1 (a Wednesday night). People are already searching for Hanukkah articles and information. Here is a Messianic Jewish Musings Classic, a telling of the Hanukkah story Messianic Jewish style. Enjoy.

The actual miracle of Hanukkah is not about burning oil that lasted longer than was naturally possible. The story of the miraculous oil is a very late one and almost certainly didn’t happen.

The miracle of Hanukkah is like the miracle of Purim. It’s the kind of miracle we see in our world today. Bodies of water do not stand up in two heaps as caravans pass through. Theophanies from the midst of a storm do not speak down from mountains. But God is saving, healing, and preparing all things to be renewed. He preserves his people Israel and he spreads his name among the nations of the world as well.

The miracle Hanukkah is the preservation of God’s people Israel and preparing his people for the days of Messiah. If it had not been for Hanukkah, there might not have been a Jewish people for Messiah to be born into. The covenant promises of God would perhaps have failed. But history will never work out this way. Seen or unseen, God’s hand drives history in the direction of the world to come.

Great empires rose and fell. The Israelite prophet, Daniel, spoke of four kingdoms succeeding one another. Babylon fell even while Daniel was living there. The Medes and Persians arose and Persia covered almost the whole earth. Greece came later with the sudden and overwhelming conquests of Alexander as Daniel describes in his eleventh chapter. After the Greeks would come a fourth kingdom, but only in the days of Messiah’s birth, and our story does not take us there as yet.

Daniel said that Alexander would be a mighty king with great dominion. But his kingdom would be broken four ways very soon after it arose. And two of the four parts of the Alexandrian legacy were the Ptolemies of Egypt and the Seleucids of Babylon and Syria. In between them were the people of Judah, those who had returned from exile in Babylon and dwelt with a rebuilt Temple in their midst.

All around Judah the world was changing. Hellenism was the fashion. Cities built hippodromes for public chariot races and horse races. Stadiums were built for games and the fashion was for athletes to participate without clothes. Races, wrestling, and other games entertained the people of the cities. The city was called a polis and there were libraries, courts, temples, and places for discussion and learning.

Judah was a backwards sort of place and for the most part the people wanted nothing to do with Olympian Zeus, nude games, and the Greek way of life.

But among the nobility, there were compromisers, people who wanted to see the old traditions disappear. Circumcision, they said, was barbaric. It was embarrassing for Jewish young men to participate in nude games where all could see their circumcisions. Some had unreliable and dangerous surgeries to try and reverse their circumcision. And many wanted to see the end of Torah study and Hebrew and Aramaic writing and conversation. The common Greek which was growing to be the world language was the language of sophistication.

Meanwhile, the Seleucids came to rule over the territory of Judah and put the Ptolemies back into Egypt. Eventually a new Seleucid monarch arose in 175 B.C.E., Antiochus Epiphanes. He called himself Epiphanes, manifestation of the gods. The Jews called him Epimanes or crazy one.

Antiochus Epiphanes put in his own high priest, someone not from the line of Aaron at all. He strongly supported the nobility in their desire to Hellenize the Jews. Antiochus loved Olympian Zeus. In time he built a hippodrome and made decrees forbidding circumcision. He installed a statue of Olympian Zeus in the Temple and had priests, many of whom were already Hellenized, offer swine in the holy Temple of Hashem.

But Antiochus read the whole situation wrongly. The enthusiasm for Greek ways was only a thin veneer or nobles who aspired to greater wealth and power. The people of Judah were not with these changes.

So, when a envoy came to the town of Modi’in to enforce the new ways, Mattathias and his sons rose up. There were already Torah-faithful groups who had given martyrs and formed bands in the wild places of Israel. Mattathias and his sons became the leaders of these groups of Hasidim, pious ones. It would be Hasidim versus Hellenists in Israel.

The Hasidim quickly grew and the Hellenists would have been in trouble except that Antiochus had the greatest armies in that part of the world. But God had already been at work and there was another factor in the favor of the Hasidim. The armies of Antiochus and the wealth of Antiochus had already been harmed by trouble with Rome. Rome was not yet an empire, but they were already a force to be reckoned with, having defeated Hannibal and the Carthaginians in a great battles in Africa. Antiochus’ father had supported the wrong side and made an enemy of Rome. Rome had demanded a huge tribute from the Seleucids and had greatly reduced the military which Antiochus had available.

In many battles the Hasidim, led by the sons of Mattathias, who were now called the Maccabeans, the Syrian mercenaries were defeated. Eventually the Maccabeans took the Temple back. They cleansed it and declared an eight day celebration, since the people had missed Sukkot. Hanukkah is eight days because it was in that year a late celebration of the Feast at the Temple.

Hanukkah is about the time the Jewish people were almost exterminated. There was no Haman or Hitler here, but something more subtle. Even Antiochus was not as much the bad guy as the temptation among the Jewish people to assimilate and adopt the ways and customs of the world.

We know from the Israelite prophet Daniel that other Antiochuses will arise. In the last days there will be a ruler who also makes decrees against the ways of God. People will be tempted to go along with economic advantage and the pull of popular power.

But God promises that Israel in the last days will be circumcised in heart and will not give in to the wickedness of smooth things. And in the history of Israel there have been some leaders whose voices called for a renewal within that would bring such renewal to Israel in the here and now.

The greatest of these was Yeshua, the son of Joseph the Nazarene. One Hanukkah he stood in the Temple and challenged his generation to a renewal which was far more important than war, kingdoms, and power. Who are your shepherds, he asked his people, the kind who rob and steal or the kind who lay down their life for the sheep?

Yeshua said that his sheep would hear his voice. His sheep would have the eternal life of the last days here and now. At Hanukkah he declared that he was the good shepherd, the last David, who would bring his people home. But his generation was not ready. When he declared that he was not only sent by God, but also one with God, the people around him wanted to kill him for blasphemy.

Yet Yeshua did have disciples, Hasidei Yeshua, the pious ones of Yeshua. And the early ones became men and women of great renown. James, the leader of the Yeshua-followers in Jerusalem, was a man of unimpeachable reputation amongst the Jewish leaders and Torah-faithful of the time.

H-100-Hanukkah-LampThe miracle of Hanukkah is the preservation of Israel’s people and the continuation of the covenant promises that God will heal and deliver Israel. The one who heals the people of Israel is Yeshua, the man who said at Hanukkah he was one with the Father, the one who said he is the good shepherd of Israel who leads his people to circumcised hearts and eternal life.

When a new Antiochus will arise, as foretold in Daniel, and will greatly trouble Israel again, it will be Yeshua who comes to deliver his people. In the meantime, we are the Hasidei Yeshua, the pious ones of Yeshua, who stand firm in faithfulness to God’s ways and who do not compromise. Great movements of salvation do not usually look impressive, but when the times get difficult, the ones who shine are revealed.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Waste Not, Want Not

29792With Thanksgiving just behind us and looking at all the ways I can use up the bounty of leftovers in my refrigerator, I got to wondering how much food goes to waste in America.  The US produces about 591 Billion pounds of food each year and up to HALF of it goes to waste.  Did you know that annually, Americans waste around $100 BILLION dollars on unconsumed food?  For the average household, we throw away around $600 dollars a year in food waste.  There are a lot of ways I would rather be spending that $600 bucks than dumping it in the trash!

22927Being a frugal farm girl at heart, I really try not to throw anything away that we can avoid.  We’re always re-making leftovers and composting for the garden.  That reduces the garbage some, but I know that there’s still a lot that goes to waste.  Evidently some of the most common ways we waste food is by purchasing items for recipes that we never actually make, buying impulse items that never get eaten, or washing extras down the food disposal.  I suppose that could partly be remedied by making a food menu and strictly sticking to it, not wasting the money on impulse buys just because it looks good and not dishing up more than we’re going to actually eat.

The sad thing is that the waste begins at the farms themselves, which really surprised me.  Lettuce, for example, has an average harvest rate of 85-90%.  The rest, the heads that don’t look or feel perfect on quick inspection, are just left to rot in the field.  One cucumber grower said that at least half the cukes on his farm aren’t harvested at all, mostly because they are too curved (making them hard to pack for shipment) or because they have small blemishes such as white spots or cracks. The losses are generally higher for hand-picked fruits and perishable vegetables than for machine harvested commodity crops like corn and wheat; about 9% of such crops planted in this country aren’t harvested at all!

gleanersJust think of all the hungry people we could feed if they were allowed to glean in the fields as the Bible instructs us to allow them to do!  It would eliminate the problem of feeding the hungry in our nation!  Then we could take all that extra money that would no longer be wasted and use it to feed the hungry in the rest of the world!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Making Irish Cream

DSCN0055Two of my favorite adult treats are homemade Kahlua and cream and homemade Irish Cream.  This year I decided make gift baskets filled with coffees and treats that go well with coffee, including chocolate and Irish Cream, of course!

A friend shared this recipe that she found in a book called “Cheaper and Better.”  I agree, it is better than the brand name Irish Creams that you would spend a fortune on at the liquor store!  We have dairy intolerances in our family, so I also made dairy free substitutions so I will post the original recipe as well as my adaptations.

Irish Cream (original recipe)

2 eggs

2 c. sweetened condensed milk

1 tsp. chocolate syrup

1 tsp. instant coffee

2 c. vodka

2 c. heavy cream

Beat eggs until thick and lemon-colored.  Slowly add the rest of the ingredients one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Pour mixture into sterilized dark glass bottles (dark plastic will also work) and let it rest for one week before drinking.  It will keep 1 month in the pantry or 3 months in the fridge.


Irish Cream (dairy-free substitutions)

2 eggs

2 c. vanilla coconut milk creamer

1 tsp. chocolate syrup

1 tsp. instant coffee

2 c. vodka

2 c. plain coconut milk creamer

Follow instructions above using substitutions.  I also ran a bit short of vodka so I just substituted the extra with some vanilla Brandy I had brewing.


I made the dairy free version and it turned out soooo yummy and creamy…and STRONG…so don’t plan on driving after drinking this stuff!  Make sure to let it age for a week in a dark spot so that the alcohol can denature the egg proteins.  I also doubled the recipe so we’d have a little for us and plenty to share.  Delish!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Wintertime Fun!



Winter has finally arrived in the rockies!  The roads were drifted shut for two days but were finally opened back up today.  We had a blast spending some time outside playing in the snow, sledding and building a snow cave.  More snow in the forecast for the next couple days…happy wintertime!



Sunday, October 31, 2010

Chocolate Swirl Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

Here's another grain-free experiment that turned out soooo yummy! It's a perfect fall treat!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9x13 pan.

2 c. almond meal
4 tbsp. raw sugar
1/2 c. butter, melted
2 tsp cocoa powder
Mix above ingredients together and press into bottom of pan with a fork.

1 8 oz. block cream cheese or yogurt cheese, softened
1/2 c. plain kefir or yogurt
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
4 eggs
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
couple dashes cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. semisweet chocolate
Blend together all filling ingredients except chocolate until mixed. Set aside 1 c. pumpkin mixture and pour rest of filling into pan. Melt chocolate on double boiler on stove. Stir the remaining 1 c. pumpkin filling into the melted chocolate. Drop dollops of chocolate mixture onto pumpkin mixture in the pan and swirl with a butter knife. Bake 40-50 minutes or until bars are set but still jiggle slightly. Cool and serve. Can top with whipped cream if desired.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Cute Factor

Does covering something ugly with something cute rid it of it's inherent ugliness? No. Like a new slipcover on a ratty old couch, even if it's outer covering is adorable and sweet, underneath, it's still a run down, ratty old couch.

There was a time when we used to take our kids trick-or-treating and participated in all the cute Halloween stuff. However, does making it cute rid the day of it's inherent evil? Truly, it IS "just another day." It's not a Biblical religious holiday, so it is a day that is just as common as any other. So what does it matter if we dress up in adorable (sometimes) costumes, and go door to door, begging treats from our friends and neighbors? What harm is there in that?

On the surface, it is harmless...it's cute and fun, just like the new slipcover. But the reasons behind WHY these traditions started are not cute or fun at all. It's still the same old nasty couch underneath. Is it really okay for our children to be groomed to accept these things as normal and fun and okay? As a society, I think we're blurring the lines of right and wrong for our kids; we're sending mixed messages. What could Halloween mean to a young, pre-teen girl dabbling in witchcraft for fun? As a kid, I know myself and most of my friends participated in something like that at some point, and usually it revolved around something having to do with Halloween. I want my children to know what dangers lie lurking beyond these seemingly harmless spells and chants and where the traditions of this day come from, so they aren't duped into thinking it's all just harmless fun. Beyond a certain point, it's not just fun and games anymore. And for the struggling teen girl (or boy), what if in a few years down the road, it does turn into something more? Does she know it's just another day, like any other?

Some people have been unknowingly led to believe that this is a holy day. There is a difference between what the Bible considers holy compared to what some churches and denominations consider holy. Holy means set-apart; October 31st is not a day that is set-apart for the Lord anywhere in the Bible. Some faiths have deemed it to be a holy day for their religion. I guess the concern there would be whether or not you're content to follow the teachings of a church if they're creating (or in the case of Halloween/All Saints Day/All Hallow's Eve/Day of the Dead/Hallow mass/Fall solstice, re-creating) their own holy days without precedence from the Bible.

There is no harm in having a dress-up party. For most people, that is why they love Halloween...it is fun to dress up and get together with friends and be silly. There is just no reason why it is good for us to do it in association with these cultic celebrations and there are plenty of reasons why it can be harmful. Let's become set-apart from these things. Do a fund-raiser costume party or do it just because. Just let it be completely unassociated with cultic rituals. Those who have come out of the Wiccan religion cannot understand why people, especially those who claim to be Christian, would want anything to do with these pagan celebrations. Here are a couple short videos that teach us more about the cultic practices that are what we now call Halloween.

A little more info on the original cultic practices that are behind Halloween.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Seasons Change

I'm am just in one of those seasons of life right now where I am just content. Things are good.

I feel blessings in every aspect of my life, even the challenging parts. I'm content with family, faith, friends, and material blessings. For once, I don't feel the need to add "or the lack of" and it's not that we have anything more than we had in any point in the past...in fact, we've got less at the moment. Sometimes I get to feeling that I'm too content and am not growing enough, but this time, for now, it's a good place to be.

Despite the contentedness, I'm still learning new things about God's greatness and still growing, but yet somehow I feel free from all the trappings of the world, religion and everything else that seems to ensnare us at times. Despite hardships we've been facing lately, I just have this peace that everything is okay. Maybe it's the fruit of working out all the kinks in the things I've struggled with for so long...maybe it's just a season God's going to allow me to rest in for a while. In the past, whenever things go well I just have this fear of what might be coming next, but that fear is not there for the first time. It's still work...we work hard every day to learn, we work hard at our relationships, we work hard to bless others. Maybe that's what it is! Life is it's fullest when we're able to work at the things that truly matter. Thank you, God, for freeing me to be able to do that!

Knowing the way to get somewhere is entirely different than being on the journey to get there. And we must take joy in the journey, but the journey itself is pointless unless the destination is worth arriving at! "For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another." Rom 14:17-19

Seasons change, life brings it's ups and downs, and for today, I'm just enjoying the ride and soaking it all in. If this is the peace that we're promised...it's wonderful and I'll take it! I love this place. I hope you are are every bit as blessed wherever you are today!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Adventures in Geocaching

One of our new fun activities is geocaching. Well, we've actually been doing it for a while but the kids were never very excited about it until recently. I think part of it has to do with the cool Garmin my sister has that they had a ton of fun using on our last adventure!

Geocaching is great because it gets you outside exploring areas you might not otherwise go. It's educational, too! You learn how to navigate and investigate your surroundings and there's a reward at the end. And don't forget the most important part...it's FUN! You can learn more about it at the Geocaching website. It's fun to do when you travel to new places, too!

We just had a couple extra hours the other day so went on a quick walk on an easy local trail to find us a cache. It was such a beautiful, autumn day! I love fall!

The Galligator Trail

The boys found the first Geocache!

Love the Mountains!


Beautiful scenery, beautiful weather, beautiful times!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Our Little Home Away From Home

So a few months ago we were blessed enough to attain another project...a little fixer-upper camper just the perfect size for us! We've been tent campers for many years now, but having a tent in Montana often limits where it's safe to camp because we're surrounded by grizzly country. When we had the opportunity to get this little gem, we jumped on it! We invested a little money in new tires and the materials for new cushions, cleaned it up a bit, and got things working. Now, I'm not a sewer AT ALL. So, the cushion upholstering turned out to be quite the adventure! I'm so glad they're done (seemed like it took forever!) and every minute of making them was a trial for me, the most unexperienced seamstress ever. I didn't even take a home-ec class in high school, for goodness sakes! At least they turned out useable enough for us...many mistakes and all!

We cannot wait to head up into the mountains into our new (to us) little home away from home! The kids were begging to just sleep in it tonight...it really is the simple things that bring the most happiness, isn't it?!

See my handiwork? (I will not show you a close-up in an attempt to camouflage the crooked stitching and goofy looking corners! LOL!)

Our little home away from home...we'll see you on the mountain!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Little Birdies & Little People

Today is a combobulation of random things, very much like my life at the moment! We're in the midst of celebrating the Biblical fall festivals and are having a great time with the current one, Sukkot. We haven't built an "official" sukkah (we intended to do some camping out in our little old home-away-from-home camper, but unfortunately I still do not have the cushions done for it because of an unexpected out of town excursion...), so we have a sukkah built out of...drum roll please...POPSICLE sticks! And "Little People" are dwelling in it for the week. Yes, Little People :-D.

See them? Aren't they cute?

Next year, I hope to build a real sukkah as cool as theirs is!

On my unexpected out of town excursion, I had a really great find. Since I love birds, I was so excited to stumble upon these adorable little salt & pepper shakers!

And they go so well with the sweetest appetizer dishes that I had recently purchased!

Tonight on those adorable dishes, we enjoyed great new twist (and it's even grain-free) to the old classic rhubarb bars. It turned out so tangy and delicious! The kids were raving about them. Here's the recipe if you want to give them a try!


- 4 c. chopped rhubarb
- 1/3 c. honey
- zest & juice of 1 orange
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tbsp. corn starch (okay...i confess i cheated GAPS a bit here)
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 c. raisins
Boil all ingredients except vanilla and raisins in saucepan for 5-10 minutes, until rhubarb is fully cooked. Stir in raisins and vanilla. Set aside.

Bottom crust:
- 2-3 tbsp. butter (enough to thoroughly moisten almond meal)
- 1 c. almond meal
- 2 tbsp. honey
Spray 8x8 baking dish. Melt butter and mix with almond meal and honey. Press in bottom of pan. Layer rhubarb sauce on top of bottom crust.

Crumble topping:
- 3/4 c. almond meal
- 1/3 c. pitted dates
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 c. grapeseed oil
- 1/2 apple cut into slices
- 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 c. walnuts
Put all ingredients except walnuts in food processor and process until it forms a coarse meal. Add walnuts and pulse a couple times to just coarsely chop them. Layer crumble on top of the rhubarb sauce in pan. Bake, covered, at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes and then bake uncovered for 10-15 minutes, until baked through. Cool. Can serve topped with ice cream or whipped cream if desired.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Kitchen Experiments

So for our Shabbat meal tonight we decided to go with homemade (grain-free) pizza and the kids picked a Peanut Butter Pie (also grain-free) for dessert. They both turned out super delish!

Peanut Butter Pie (Grain-Free)
- 6 eggs
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 cup peanut butter
- 2 cups carrot pulp (leftover pulp from juicing carrots) OR grind up 2 cups of carrots in the food processor until they make a "carrot meal"
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 cup ground almonds
- 2 lg. cooking apples
- handful of raisins

Core and cut the apples into small pieces and layer in bottom of greased pie pan. Top with the raisins. Blend all the remaining ingredients together and pour over top the apples and raisins. Bake at 300 degrees for 50-60 minutes, or until it is baked through in the middle.

We thought it tasted a bit like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with the raisins in there! Yum!

Grain-Free Pizza

- 2 1/2 cups ground almonds (or other walnuts, pecans or hazelnuts)
- 1/4 cup softened butter
- 3 eggs
- 1 tbsp pizza seasoning
- 1/4 - 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 jar organic pizza sauce
- favorite pizza toppings (we like red onions, garlic, olives, red and green bell peppers, turkey sausage or venison summer sausage, and peccorano romano cheese)

Stir together almonds, butter, eggs, pizza seasoning and salt. Add a little water if necessary to make a spreadable consistency. Spread on greased pizza pan (we love stoneware for a chewy/crunchy texture). Bake crust at 300 degrees for 20 minutes or so, until baked in the middle. Top with pizza sauce and favorite pizza toppings. Put back in the oven at 325 and bake for 20-25 minutes or until pizza toppings are heated and melted.

Both recipes are taken from "Gut and Psychology Syndrome" by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. They're both absolutely worth the effort it takes to make them!!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Two Sides to Every Story

Right now is the season of repentance as we're heading into the fall Biblical holidays. One issue (of several!) that I am trying to work on in my life is the issue of passing judgment too quickly. It is so easy sometimes to just make a quick judgement, isn't it? We look at a situation and so often, it's a "what you see is what you get" mentality. I think this is one of the hardest parts of marriage and parenting! When the kids are bickering, who do you believe when you weren't there to witness it? Lately, my kids have taken to the "he/she started it first!" reasoning. Drives me nuts! As a parent, I want to punish appropriately and fairly, but sometimes it's hard to know what that is, isn't it?

My solution these days is to remove them both from the situation until they can both tell me their version of the story without the other one their to jump in and say "no...that's not how it happened!" Most of the time, they feel like they are the only ones who've been wronged and somehow it was most certainly the other person's fault. Usually, they were both at fault in some way. How often do we grown-ups find ourselves doing the same childish things in our marriages and other relationships? I know I do, far too often.

The Bible has a few things to say about this topic of passing judgement without having concrete evidence. Deut 17:6 says, "The death sentence is to be carried out only if there was testimony from two or three witnesses; he may not be sentenced to death on the testimony of only one witness." We read in Deut 19:15, "One witness alone will not be sufficient to convict a person of any offense or sin of any kind; the matter will be established only if there are two or three witnesses testifying against him." Matt 18:15 also has something to say on the topic, "Moreover, if your brother commits a sin against you, go and show him his fault — but privately, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother. If he doesn't listen, take one or two others with you so that every accusation can be supported by the testimony of two or three witnesses." We see the concept reiterated several times, so it's definitely something worth considering...even in minor situations. When we go around judging one another on even the small matters, it blossoms in to bigger problems and then we have a vicious cycle of the blame game on our hands. We can kill (figuratively speaking) each other with our assuming and judgmental words, so we have got to watch how we're accusing each other.

It's an act of love to overlook the wrongs that have been done against us, especially considering that so often, the other person wasn't trying to offend. "People with good sense are slow to anger, and it is their glory to overlook an offense," Prov 19:11. In home life, there often aren't two witnesses to every wrong doing. That's probably to our benefit...if we don't have two witnesses we have no right to carry out "punishment" against them. We have no right to vengeance. I think of all people, it's hardest to forgive our loved ones, but they are the ones that we should be forgiving the quickest. After all, there are two sides to every story.

Every truth has two sides;
it is as well to look at both,
before we commit ourselves to either.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Get Your Chocolate Fix On

Fierce chocolate cravings today demanded that I make the kids and I some banana-fudgesicle milkshakes for a treat! It was a complete experiment and I wish I would have measured exact amounts so I could replicate it exactly! This recipe should be pretty close. It's a not-AS-bad-for-you-milkshake. Adjust any amounts to your taste...I did...

2 bananas (could do 3 for more banana flavor)
2 ripe avacados
2 cups almond milk (ours is homemade so it is unsweetened)--you could also use regular milk
3/4 c. dutch cocoa powder (appx.)
1 tsp. vanilla
ice to fill rest of blender
appx. 1/2-1 c. honey (sweeten to your taste)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon (if desired)
pinch salt

Blend all together in high powered blender. Don't be put off by the avacados. They make a beautiful smooth and creamy consistency and you don't even know they're there! Not to mention that because of the avacados and bananas, this shake is loaded with potassium and other good-for-you ingredients. It's very filling so we had enough left over to pour the rest in some popsicle molds and pop them in the freezer for fudgsicles later. YUM.O.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Collision Course

This was a video link sent via Joel Roesenberg's Blog. Although I don't agree with some of the end-times theology presented toward the end of the video, I especially appreciated what General Boykin and Mosab Yosef had to say. It was made for TV and now they're making the video, Collision Course, available via internet. Just wanted to share!

Kitchen Business

Today I just wanted to share a little more detail about what happens in our kitchen during the week. We do a lot of fermented foods because they aid digestion, boost immunity, and they're yummy to boot! This came about as a result of the GAPS diet we've been doing and we're lovin' it!

Pretty much, once a week or every 10 days, we make a batch of Sauerkraut. After trying a few different things, our favorite recipe was one of the most basic ones and I've adapted it from the recipe in the Nourishing Traditions cookbook.

1 head of green cabbage, shredded
1/4 head of purple cabbage, shredded
1 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. caraway seed
1/4 c. whey (I like to add a dash more, too)

Pound all the above ingredients together with a meat pounder for about 10 minutes. Put into a glass jar and add a little extra water if necessary, so that the juices come to the top of the cabbage. Cover (but don't seal tight) and set in a dark place at room temp. for 3-5 days. In my house, which is usually around 70 degrees, 3 days is usually enough. Make sure to use a jar with some extra space for expansion. After it's bubbly and fermented, put in the refrigerator. It's great with any meal and is loaded with good-for-you probiotics! The kids love it too!

Today we also made some Lacto-Fermented Ketchup because we just finished our last jar. This is a ketchup that you will want your kids to eat because it, too, is loaded with probiotics and isn't full of the sugar that you get in store-bought varieties. It is alive and soooo tasty! After a few tries, this is our favorite recipe!

3 c. tomato paste
1/4 c. whey
1/4 c. - 1/2c. grade B maple syrup (we like about 1/4 c. + 1/8 c.)
pinch - 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (we like 3 pinches)
1 tbsp. sea salt (and i usually add about 1/2 tsp. extra)
3 cloves mashed garlic (we use lacto-fermented garlic but it's not necessary)
1/2 tsp. dijon mustard
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1/8 c. Braggs Liquid Aminos
1/2 c. spring water (don't use tap water if it's chlorinated as it will ruin the fermentation process)

After 3-5 days, when it's done fermenting and tastes just the right amount of tangy, put it in the refrigerator for storage. It will keep for several months. Delicious!

Today I was also soaking almonds and tonight they're de-hydrating in the oven so that tomorrow I can make some No Grain Banana Muffins from the Healthy Home Economist Blog.

2 1/2 c. finely ground almond flour (from soaked/dried raw almonds)
1/4 c. expeller pressed coconut oil
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 very ripe, mashed bananas
2 tbsp. honey (or 5 drops stevia extract)

Mix everything together well in a glass bowl. Pour batter into a muffin pan and bake for about 50 minutes at 300 degrees F. This will be a yummy treat for breakfast on Shabbat!

Also out of some of our soaked almonds, we made almond milk. (Don't mind the wierd paper on the jar in the photo -- we reuse glass jars from the store all the time!)

1 cup almonds
3 cups water
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Soak the almonds in the water for 8-10 hours or so. Blend in a strong blender or food processer with vanilla extract until almonds are ground into fine meal. Strain in a nut bag over a bowl or jar. Milk will strain out and you can use the leftover dried almond meal in baking.

Tomorrow, Lane plans to use the almond milk to make a raw Kohlrabi soup for dinner. We've been eating a lot of Kohlrabi out of the garden lately so we thought we'd try a new recipe out for some variety! He's going to make the cold raw soup to go with a german fish recipe that he found online. Could be interesting!

The photo to the right is water kefir brewing. Every three days, we also make a fresh batch of this great stuff. Pretty much every day we make a green smoothie of some sort using our water kefir. It, too, is loaded with probiotics, and it's a little fizzy and lightly sweet, so it makes for a great smoothie. Heidi and I also like to drink it straight because it's quite refreshing. I don't really have a recipe for the water kefir. I just take the grains I have (and sometimes take some off if they've reproduced too much), pour a bunch of spring water over them (about a half gallon) and stir in about 1/2 c. raw sugar. The grains feed on the sugar and it's molasses and their by-product is probiotics. Instead of water or milk, I'll often use it to make salad dressings as well. Tasty stuff! On the left is another picture of the finished water kefir. At that stage, we could add fruit or many other things to flavor it, but our favorite is just plain.

We are also starting to make milk kefir. Yes, we're in love with kefir. This tastes a lot like yogurt and is just a thinner consistency. It also works great in smoothies or just to have as a treat. I use this in dressings and any other way I can think of as well. This is just an itsy-bitsy batch because we haven't had our grains very long and they're still growing, so we only get about 8 oz. every couple days. But they are growing! Lane doesn't handle milk very well, but he can do the milk kefir because it is pre-digested thanks to those lovely kefir grains. The grains feed on the lactose in the milk and again, their by-product is probiotics. Yay for kefir!

I'm really looking forward to the day when we can eat sourdough bread again, but in the meantime, we certainly aren't lacking good things to eat!

Great Resource!

I just wanted to share with you a great resource that I just finished reading through last night. They are just two little booklets but they are loaded with great information and I highly recommend them to any believer.

With the fall Biblical feasts just around the corner, now is a great time to read up on them! There are two booklets that discuss the Biblical Festivals, one about the spring feasts and one about the fall feasts. So good! They're available from a ministry with a long track record of teaching simple truth. I got some for myself and to share with our Bible study group. You can get them from RBC Ministries and it's from their Discovery Series called The Holidays of God: The Spring Feasts and The Holidays of God: The Fall Feasts. Please check them out, they're free!