Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Knopfler Gem

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Darling Pretty by Mark Knopfler is available in MP3 format on amazon.com.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

As I was writing the post below and thinking of truly exceptional teacher/preachers, I was reminded of Greg Laurie of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California. His sermons are broadcast here on the radio and I really enjoy listening to him in the car sometimes. I was trying to track down a link to his website for you when I came upon a tribute to his son, Christopher Laurie, who was tragically killed in a car accident this week. Christopher, who was 33-years-old and worked on staff at Harvest, had a young family and a baby due in November. Please, please keep this family in your prayers.

"Bible Teaching" Debate

Interesting post on The Blogging Parson (and a good discussion under "comments" there) about the term "Bible teaching" and all that it conveys. You can check it out here.

At first read, I felt a bit defensive about seeing the "teaching" arm of the American "Bible church" under somewhat unflattering scrutiny, believing that it does fill an important role--in name and function--as it seeks to represent, edify and equip those who hunger to know God beyond a meet and greet. But, I think there's an important and valid point being raised. If the "teaching" prunes back the Bible's inherently thrilling testimony of the ministry and person of Jesus Christ, and fails to create a supportive, positive environment where spiritual passion can ignite heart-felt activism, there's a problem... something akin to vaguely symptomatic heart disease that just might eventually become a "teaching" church's major health concern.

On my iPod... Call My Name by Third Day

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

ROLF Over Regan

Brian Regan is very, very funny!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tasty Lentil Stew



See my recipe below for the lentil soup we made last week. Please note the photo above illustrates someone else's recipe (but ours looked similar). This recipe is full of antioxidants and vegetable protein. You may also wish to use "lower sodium" versions of the soy sauce, V8 and broth if you're trying to cut back on salt. This recipe will cook to a "stew" consistency. You can add more water toward the end to make soup. Also, vegetarians can double up on vegetable broth in lieu of chicken broth. Mainstream researchers are intrigued by the potential cancer-fighting properties of olive oil and tumeric, so enjoy these ingredients in abundance!

Lentil Soup

Ingredients:

1 package dried lentils
1-2 T. olive oil
1 leek stalk (chop in “rings” and wash well in colander) or 1 medium onion diced
2 T. peeled/grated ginger root (optional)
2 T. chopped garlic
2 C. chopped veggies (celery, carrots, corn, tomatoes, etc.)
1 box Swanson’s Organic Chicken Broth
1 box Swanson’s Organic Vegetable Broth
2 Cups water
2 T. Honey
1 T. Soy Sauce (we used reduced sodium type)
1 T. Worcestershire Sauce
1 1/4 C. V8 or Tomato Juice

Spices:

Tumeric: 1 tsp.
Mild Curry: 1 tsp.
Cumin: 1 tsp.
Garlic Powder: dash

How To Cook:

Rinse lentils in colander and set aside.

Sautee leek, ginger root, garlic and rest of veggies in 1-2 T. oil over medium/high heat until tender (about 5 minutes… carrots will still be crunchy, that’s OK).

Add spices and cook another minute or two until mixed.

Add Broth, Honey, Soy Sauce, Worstshire Sauce, V8 Juice, water. Then, add lentils.

Cook over medium-high heat to boiling.

Then, cover pot and reduce heat to simmer for an hour.

Makes a bunch of servings. Freeze what you won’t use in two days.

Photo by Seitti... see http://flickr.com/photos/seitti/451267635/ for restrictions.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Useful Giving Sites

Check out this site and be inspired by some cheerful givers. Curious about how various charitable organizations rate? Find out here.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Harrowing Heroism



I had to remind myself to breathe during certain scenes of this suspenseful and harrowing movie. Brilliant casting serves up cringing tension between an understated and wholly believable heroine and her iconic-evil tormentors. The New Yorker nailed it: "Compelling. Wire-tight suspense. May sound like a history lesson, but don't be fooled. It's a horror film."

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Turning Picky Eaters into Good Stewards


Picking up here we left off a couple days ago on the subject of food conservation...

Last week's story coming out of Great Britain calling for food conservation reminded me of the World War II rationing my mother used to tell me about. Not to be alarmist about what's going on over there. The government's not decrying the end of the world. But with no relief in near sight for the world's energy woes, it appears the British government is trying to help its citizens navigate uphill challenges ahead.

My parents were young adults during a period of rationing here and I grew up hearing stories about how people had to make do without an abundance of things like sugar, coffee and nylon. My mother described the way in which women without hose would draw a line down the back of their legs using eyebrow pencil and people began to drink a coffee-substitute called Postum and would sometimes use things like jam or jelly to sweeten beverages.

"Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear for clothing?' (Matthew 6:31)

The Bible tells us we're not supposed to worry about what we will eat or drink or wear. We are to trust in the total sufficiency of God as our provider of all things.

"For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. (Matthew 6:32)

Some translations use the word "pagan" instead of Gentiles. The point here being that those who don't have faith have material concerns because they are fundamentally of a mindset of self sufficiency. Christ followers, in contrast, are to realize their inadequacy and trust in God to provide. He knows what we need and we are to set our minds on spiritual matters, instead.

"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)

I imagined myself coping in a world of rising prices and dwindling resources of "worse case" rationing magnitude. I've trained myself over the past few years to essentially live without added sugar and, except for some limited dairy, I avoid most animal products. Not for "doomsday" but health reasons. With the exception of coffee, which turns the ignition key in my brain, I like to think I could transition without major trauma to a lifestyle of stricter conservation (though, admittedly, fewer choices would take some getting used to...).

But my gut reaction as I extrapolated the Great Britain story was concern for my children's future and how unwise it's been for me to serve as "short order cook" all these years. "Oh, you don't like dinner tonight? Well, what can I make for you, instead, little sweetie?" Consequently, "Good Cop" Mom (versus "Bad Cop" Dad who's quick to say "Eat what's on your plate and thank your mother for this delicious food!") is raising up these children who are text book picky eaters. What if some staple of their diet was suddenly no longer available? They don't do substitutes too gracefully. A world of cutbacks and conservation in certain areas would be pretty difficult for my crew.

Mercifully, my default is Scripture where Matthew assures me that it is not a stocked pantry or a tremulous economy but God who sustains my children. I trust that He will provide. Still, as a mother, I have a responsibility to guide my children and if there's the chu-chu-chu-chu-chu of a slow train coming, God wants me to shoo them off the tracks.

So I've avowed this summer to make some changes. To begin building a healthier respect for our food and other resources. To expand their culinary horizons beyond the limited offerings within their respective comfort zones. I know that many if not most of you are way beyond me in this area having already adopted and are living out some of the tips that follow. But in case you find yourself in the same indulgent food rut with your kids, here are some suggestions:
  • "Clean up your plate!" is well intentioned but can lead to food issues and even eating disorders. Better to teach kids to serve themselves small portions then return for more if desired.

  • Let them participate in the cooking process. Give them a "grown up" task beyond simply dumping ingredients into a bowl. This has to be carefully supervised, obviously, but let them chop up vegetables and other ingredients when they are old enough to handle a knife responsibly. I wouldn't let my eight-year-old do this yet (unless the job can be accomplished without frustration using a butter knife), but now frequently enlist my ten-and-twelve-year-olds in the chopping mission. I will hold the knife with them for some tasks involving foods like onions which can cause a blade to slip. I've been amazed at what the kids will try and like when they've had a meaningful role in the cooking process.

  • Trim off eaten portion of foods they don't finish (to prevent the growth of bacteria) then promptly wrap and refrigerate. Tell them this will be their snack later. You'll be amazed at how this helps with the child who takes more than she wants. All it takes is one or two half-eaten, left-over slices of pizza or peanut butter sandwiches as the "snack" for Junior to begin taking only what he will really eat.

  • Gently talk to your older children about rising prices worldwide and the importance of being good stewards of God's resources. Tell your older children about World War II rationing and the creative ways in which people learned to substitute one item for another, and how a nation of individuals became a patriotic team. Talk about the importance of any ongoing environmental programs you already have in place, such as recycling. Be positive. Read from Matthew and assure them that God is always in control.

  • Consider having a "Good Steward" day this summer where you plan to cut back on consumption of energy (no television or driving). Prepare a vegetarian stew and homemade cornbread for dinner. Heavily involve the kids in the cooking process and look for ways to make the day fun and memorable. We did something like this last week. We worked together to make a lentil stew using a lot of vegetables we had on hand for salads. The kids did most of the prep work and for the first time ever... everyone not only willingly tried the lentils... but thought the stew was absolutely delicious. It's probably 102 degrees where you are this week, but the stew is healthy and tasty and you might enjoy making a batch this summer. I'll publish the recipe soon.

  • Tell the kids "no" in advance of shopping missions... that "no" will be the response to any requests for the junk you typically cave into in response to "Can I have it... please?" Then mean what you say. Don't buy it! After a few trips, the kids will see that you mean business and will back off the supermarket junk food barrage. But it's important to be consistent. Don't say "no" in advance then say "okay" to silence them at the store. Short term respite does not make for lasting relief.
Maybe some of you have some other ideas to share on this topic or some good recipes for left-overs. I'd love to hear from you! Hit the "comments" button to reply. You can sign your name or remain anonymous.

Photo by all in green: see http://flickr.com/photos/isoldesmom/434057363/ for restrictions.

On my iPod... Till We Ain't Strangers Anymore by Bon Jovi & LeAnn Rimes

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Sonrise Update




Sonrisers... wonderful discussions the past couple weeks from our reading of Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. Please continue to read at your own pace and we'll probably conclude this summer study within the next few weeks.

For next week... please come with plans to share your "three-minute testimonial..." something that crystallizes the impact of salvation on your life that can be easily shared with others.

Love to you all!

Sarah

Photo by Thomas Glass used with permission. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Waste Away


Interesting news coming out of Great Britain this past week. Seems the government is encouraging its citizens to stop wasting food in response to escalating prices. You can read about it here. There was another interesting story last week about what researchers in St. Louis theorize about longevity and calorie restriction. You can read that one here but the bottom line is that research suggests a link between longer life and reduced food intake. So one story casts food reduction in an economic light and the other saddles up to health benefits. These two stories went ding-ding-ding in my brain and sent me to scripture for some biblical perspective.

Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Cor 10:31)

This verse begins the summation of a section that deals with matters of conscience as it relates to activities that would cause someone to stumble, specifically the consumption of meat used in idol rituals. The point being here that meat in and of itself is not bad, but if there's the risk of tipping someone off the fence by taking in the vestiges of pagan living, the Christ follower should abstain. This is the Apostle Paul's writing and not surprisingly his bottom line on the subject of eating in drinking is to bring "glory" to God.

This made me think about the "glory" to God in being good stewards of His resources. It seems to me we dishonor God when we waste things like food because we are demonstrating, publicly and privately, a spirit of entitlement or lack of gratitude for God's gracious provisions. When the Christ follower wastes in public, where is the glory to God? When she wastes in private, where is the honor to God?

I remember being at an all-you-can-eat CiCi's Pizza buffet a couple years ago with a group of kids. The little boy ahead of me in line was maybe 10 years old. He proudly exclaimed, "Ten (slices) is my record!" As he began to pile slices of pizza on his plate, undoubtedly attempting to beat the record, I gently said: "I don't see how you can eat so much pizza! Why don't you just take a couple slices now and come back for more if you want to." He looked at me with those big, round, pleading kid eyes and said, "But I'm really hungry." I felt like I'd just stolen his bicycle, so I let it go. Then I watched the little guy take one or two bites off the tip of each slice, casting the balance of pizza on his tray. When he was done, he still had the equivalent of a perfect pan pizza on that tray, now contaminated and destined for a dumpster.

Not that we are any better, mind you. I discovered more than halfway through the school year that most of one of my children's school lunches was getting tossed in the trash. He was "starving" by the end of the day and one of his teachers was occasionally providing a nice snack. By my estimation, about 100 all-natural peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and an assortment of green and orange vegetables and probably some heart-healthy Kashi products plopped into the municipal landfill bewteen September and early February. (To think I even used a crimper...)

We waste in other ways. A major waste factor in our house is failure to plan ahead. We'll often decide to go out to dinner even though there are left-overs in the fridge that need to be consumed. When I'm pulling outer leaves off lettuce or red cabbage, I will often thrown out the whole leaf instead of taking the time to trim the bad spots. I rarely save the kids' half eaten meals for later. Instead, I dump them in the trash. Same thing with the "to go" boxes we take home from restaurants. They usually languish in the fridge for a couple days and when I get sick of pulling them out to reach the pickles, I pitch them.

I'm totally out of touch with what lurks behind the green beans and noodle soup in my pantry. This weekend, I found a bunch of expired canned goods and boxed products that I simply failed to remember I had. Same thing with the freezer. The back of the bottom shelf looks like an underground crystal exhibit at Luray Caverns. I waste fuel by treating my trunk like it's across between a home office and baseball dugout, and by failing to strategically coordinate errand runs. We waste electricity when we leave TV's running and lights on. I waste water and energy when I wash items like pajamas that have only been worn once. I waste more energy when I keep cool air pouring through air vents in rooms we don't even use. I could go on and on reflecting upon the ways in which I fail to glorify God by wasting the resources He has so graciously afforded us.

The folks in Great Britain have inspired me to think about areas in which my family wastes resources and, perhaps, there's even a health benefit to being better stewards of God's gracious provisions.

On my iPod... Brian Regan Live... oh, my... beyond hilarious...

Photo by hipsxxheart; click here for restrictions: http://flickr.com/photos/hipsxxhearts/2244996809/.