Monday, August 31, 2009

Noah's Ark is Leaving Soon!

The mother-child relationship is paradoxical and, in a sense, tragic. It requires the most intense love on the mother's side, yet this very love must help the child grow away from the mother, and to become fully independent. ~Erich Fromm

After removing the day bed and trundle as well as all those toys and knickknacks from the Princess' room for the re-stretching of the carpet, my husband initiated a conversation about redecorating. I have talked about it now and then, but with homeschooling a child and being a housewife/mother and having my husband away so much, time and energy are precious things I do not like to squander.

You see, decorating a room is never a simple project for me--remember that whole conflicted and complicated thing I have going on for myself? Well, this is where it really is unleashed with a vengeance and my abandoned self-control is tossed in its unrelenting sea of endless possibilities, experimentation, and indecisiveness. Then there is the other thing, the whole warping of the space-time continuum that seems to happen to me alone when I am engaged in such projects. In other words, time has no relevance to me, but it seems that it does to everyone else, so I struggle to adhere to the structure of their timeline and not be completely swept up in the timelessness of creativity. The ordinary things like preparing meals, eating, sleeping, and even visits to the bathroom are forgotten when I am in the throes of my own inspiration. I once told my husband that the redecorating of our own room would be a two week project and two months later...well, you get the picture. Needless to say that for him to strike up a conversation about decorating a room is not something he casually would do--not with me, at any rate.

When we first decorated the nursery and I cross-stitched the Noah sampler in the picture, we did not know the baby's gender and we did not want to know. The room was originally set up for children of guests and became our teddy bear room before the Princess arrived--every room in my house as a theme it seems. With teddy bear colors in mind, we choose an oak crib with a canopy and a Noah themed crib set with a canopy cover in American colors. I planned to use denim in the theme also and it all went together well. I even found matching fabric and sewed the valance for the denim drapes with a contrasting fabric for the bows and valance edge. (I cannot find a picture of the crib dressed up presently.) As you can see from the sampling on the top of the valance, the Princess' has collection of stuffed furry friends fitting the Noah theme.

I was well into my second trimester with relief from morning sickness and a wondrous spurt of energy before I attempted to paint the mural and sewed the drapes, but trying to get it done before the discomforts and extra tiredness of the third trimester were upon me. I did some short cuts, using an airbrush when I could and cutting out the figures from the extra fabric to glue them onto the mural. When I was not feeling well enough to do much physical work, I tracked down a cross-stitch Noah sampler pattern I remembered from a magazine over ten years before (pictured above) and was surprised that I still had it! I also crocheted my very first granny square blanket for the baby.

When they use the term "expecting," it says it all and yet is quite inadequate all at the same time. I don't remember being I so happy and excited doing so much work and shopping. I had dreams looking like a mother singing softly or reading to my little bundle in my rocking chair, dressing her up in various cute outfits, and watching her discover the world. Yes, I did do those things--such blessed moments. I suppose that is why it is with bittersweet feelings that I am again preparing to decorate the Princess' room. She is no longer a young child for whom I must make all the decisions; she slowly and all too quickly developed into a creative, artistic child, who has her own ideas and tastes. I suppose it should be no surprise with the excitement of her own expectancy in making changes to her room, that I find her to be as complicated and conflicted as her own mama.

~ My Lord, it is so difficult to let go of the baby and see the maturing person my child is becoming, even though I look forward to seeing the adult she will become. Thank you for such sweet, sweet memories and the ones yet to come. ~

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Carpets Stretched and Refeshed!

All of us have moments in out lives that test our courage. Taking children into a house with a white carpet is one of them. ~Erma Bombeck

I have be dreading the appointed day to have our carpets stretched, but Tuesday it was upon us. Nothing reminds you of how much stuff you have until you have to move it! Thankfully, my husband was able to take two comp days off and he worked at breaking down our two queen beds and a day bed with a trundle. Plus everything had to be removed from every closet and from some of the furniture that needed to be moved around. It was nearly like preparing to move out of the house, but messier.

It is rather uncommon to need carpets stretched after installation, unless the installation was not done right, as was the case, obviously. Promising installation before the holidays, Home Depot had an amazing special so we purchased a lovely, thick carpet, an exclusive, when the Princess was first crawling and we were planning to have family visiting us for Christmas. The carpet was something between a cream and light beige, a big no-no with Georgia's red clay, but the lighter color was more appealing and it was a bit darker that the carpet that came with the house with which we had lived four years. The original carpet was a very poor grade and worn beyond help. We both would have preferred to have put in a hard wood flooring, but our collie, having a malformation in her hips, a birth defect, was unable to manage slippery floors and steps.

The new carpet had a lush texture that reminded us of a weave on a fisherman knit sweater. The deal included free padding, but we upgraded the padding to a premium type with a water barrier, as we had two dogs and two cats and a toddler at the time--accidents were bound to happen and we did not want the padding to be a repository of whatever might filter through.

Have you ever noticed that most nightmares begin as just real dreams were all is going along nicely and then you realize you are in a nightmare? That was how it all went with the new carpet. It was a dream carpet but....

A woman came out and took measurements. She was very nice but, we would find out later, she did not order enough of the carpet to do the job. She had mentioned how overworked everyone was with this special that had a deadline and that she rarely did the measurements anymore.

The installation date was the week before Thanksgiving and it was really cold. A crew came out, all speaking Spanish, but the supervisor was bi-lingual. They were using knee kickers. I remember that they had to let the carpet warm up a bit to unroll it. We now know that the carpet should have been delivered a few days before to acclimate. They finished with all they could do with the amount of carpet and padding they had leaving the dining room, the four steps from dining room to the sunken living room, and the twelve steps down to the finished basement uncovered.

Having exposed tack strips with a crawling child was enough to make me quite alarmed, but knowing that it would be that way for another two weeks because of the Thanksgiving holiday made it worse. Then there were other things, like the parquet foyer was ruined and there were scratches on the walls and trim in rooms I had previous painted personally. We were assured that since the shortage and damage was their mistake we would not be charged extra and they would replace the foyer, but I had never like the parquet so they offered us any type of flooring we wanted. We chose tile that made for a good transition to the carpet with the colors that would blend with the Georgia clay that would probably get tracked in.

After Thanksgiving and before Christmas they sent one man out to finish the carpet. I was not impressed with how he did things at all. The carpet, though, looked lovely. Unfortunately, it made more work for my husband. The carpet was so lush and that padding so thick that nine doors had to have the bottoms sawed off a bit.

I am not certain, but I think it was not until after Christmas that the foyer was completed. Thankfully, the man who did the foyer was a real pro. He said he used to have his own business in Florida where tile is very popular and he appreciated our choice of tile saying it was one of the best Home Depot carried and the colors worked so well with the clay for inside and outside applications.

Over the years we have had our carpets cleaned at least once a year, more often twice a year. We usually move everything we want to move ourselves. This carpet usually takes a full day or more to dry, so it is not a small undertaking. We try to plan to go somewhere for the day when we can.

As the years went on, the carpet started having rolls bumped up in it in some rooms. This happened because the installer did not power stretch the carpets. My husband hand stretched and repaired a huge one in our daughter's room, because it was wearing the backing and might cause a tear. Eventually we saw this in every room and we knew that we needed to get the carpets stretched. However, the last two years we were hit with some financial difficulties with my husband's injury and then unemployment and then just getting back on our feet from that. We had not had the carpets even cleaned in over two years.

So, we decided that we would have it done this year. The estimate for stretching and cleaning was nearly twice what I hoped it would be, but I have to admit that looking at the breakdown cost for each room, it was reasonable. The trick was saving up and then scheduling so that my husband could help. After just one rescheduling, the day approached.

Books were taken off shelves, beds were taken apart, mattresses were placed in the garage, small furniture was moved into bathrooms and the kitchen and even on the front porch. One man, the owner of the business, came and spent the entire day working--and talking with my husband. The Princess and I with cat and dog stayed out of the way downstairs in the office/schooling area, but there were no lessons. Instead we played Myst, a very old computer game that was one of my favorites, and watched a movie. Of course, she also painted as she likes to do nearly every day.

My husband was supposed to work locally this week, thinking we had time to get things back in order slowly in the evenings, but as we prepared to go out for dinner, he received a call saying he would need to be in Miami on Wednesday, the next day.

When we returned home we set up our bedroom with plastic under the legs of all the furniture as the carpets were still quite damp. Way past her bedtime, the Princess and I slept together, while my husband opted for the recliner in the living room. The carpets were still quite damp in some areas as we prepared to go to the airport.

Yesterday, I was feeling ill and with the carpets still damp, I took an afternoon nap. In the evening, I put the things in our bathtub back into the closets as they were dry enough and the Princess had a bath.

Last night before bed, I realized the carpet was dry--finally. It looks beautiful and feels wonderfully silky and is even springy to walk on again. We were told that because there was so much movement in the carpet that we were not getting the benefit of the padding and I must say I can really feel the difference. There is some wearing so that the texture is not as easily seen in the high traffic areas, but even as he worked with the carpet, the man said he rarely sees carpet so thick with such good quality so it should last quite a long time yet, now that it has been stretched.

We shall see, but I pity folks who install our next carpet, because we know few things about how it should be and should not be done now.

~ My Lord, having my carpets stretched and cleaned reminded me of all the work You must do to maintain a relationship with with us. Thank you, my Lord. ~

Monday, August 24, 2009

Treasure in Nineveh

Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, "Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you." ~Jonah 3:1-2

This is what I taught last night.

I gave out slips of paper and had everyone write down something they treasure. Then I began:

Probably like many of you, this week my husband and I have been talking about all the unrest in the world, in our country, in our community, and even in our church--not that anything is wrong in the church, other than we are going through changes. Somewhere in the midst of our conversation, he said something that just really caught my heart and all those things just seem to suddenly implode down to just one thing.

He simply said "[The Princess] is our treasure."

It really stuck with me. Not the idea itself, but the way it brought everything into focus down to one thing. It changed my entire perspective in an instant.

I had this in my mind all week when I thought I might volunteer to teach a study tonight, so I had a destination, but no compass. Then, I asked our "little treasure" what I should teach about tonight and she said Jonah.

Okay, now I am thinking that this is like a potato chip sandwich. Two slices of soft bread with potato chips crunched into the middle and the only thing holding it together is me, but--hey! I like a challenge!

So our topic is Treasure in Nineveh.

Now, you all know I homeschool, so I am going to teach on this topic in what is called a Unit Study, which is teaching on a particular topic using a variety of subjects mashed together. I thought you might like to know a bit about how homeschooling works and get a glimpse of what I do. I usually teach with a more classical approach, but I like to do unit studies for something a bit different now and then.

So tonight we are going to cover a bit of grammar, vocabulary, etymology, history, theology, geography, cultural studies, and science.

Whew! If anyone of you want to run out the door, this is your chance.

Oh, I am going to spare you on math, although I could have made up some equations based on Jonah's travels from Joppa to Nineveh by way of Tarshish and the distance a fish could swim in three days with a man in its belly. It just seemed a bit much.

Let's define what a treasure is to you.
What do you treasure?
What is your treasure?
Where is your treasure?
Do you share your treasure?
How do you keep your treasure safe?

I would like everyone to read what you wrote down as your treasure.

This is what the dictionary says about the word treasure:
1 a (1) : wealth (as money, jewels, or precious metals) stored up or hoarded (2) : wealth of any kind or in any form : riches b : a store of money in reserve
2 : something of great worth or value; also : a person esteemed as rare or precious
3 : a collection of precious things

Now for the etymology. Treasure comes from a Middle English term tresor, which is Anglo-French, and that word comes from a Latin word that is still in use today: thesaurus.

You probably have heard of a thesaurus. I have one right here. It is a book of synonyms, words that have similar meanings, but the first definition for thesaurus is a treasury or storehouse, so where you place your treasure can be a thesaurus.

Did people of ancient times have a thesaurus for their treasure? Where did people of ancient times hide their treasure?

Yes, they hid them often by burying it. This was done throughout history in every culture until we had vaults and banks, but this could only done with some of the treasures you wrote on your paper. Some of you wrote treasures that cannot be buried. Even so, there is one thing in common with all your treasures. They are all nouns.

A noun is the name of a person, place, thing, or idea.

Some of you named things, but some of you named ideas. Ideas are not tangible. They cannot be buried. We probably all treasure certain ideas, like faith, love, joy, peace, even life.

I think Jonah must have treasured the last three I named more than He treasured another idea: obedience to God. Now probably most of us have heard and known the story of Jonah since we were children. We know that Nineveh was a bad place, not a place to store one's treasure, but that is not how God saw it.

Read: Jonah 3:5-10
5 Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them.
6 When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth and sat on the ashes.
7 He issued a proclamation and it said, "In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water.
8 "But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands.
9 Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish."
10 When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it.

Wow! Now that is a change!

I never really understood why these people and even the king would listen to Jonah. He was a newcomer, a nobody, spouting off about another God, the Hebrew God, no less--and they had so many gods already--and how this God would to destroy the city in forty days if they did not repent.

Why did they listen to Jonah?

Yes, God had prepared them but how had He prepared them?

To understand why Jonah had such an impact on these people, we might want to consider had been happening in Nineveh.

The problem we have is that historians cannot pinpoint the exact year Jonah went to Nineveh, which is quite common with ancient history. Records simply were not kept or were lost over time, so dates are often in dispute and changed with new findings. It is the most difficult part for me in learning history because I like to know exactly when one thing happened and how it affected other known events, but much of the time we don't have those absolutes with ancient history.

I am going to draw a time line so that it is easier for us to follow. First of all, Nineveh of that time period when Jonah lived was part of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. That era started roughly in 934 BC and ended in 609 BC, so that is the basis for our time line. You might find, as I do, that BC dates are a bit confusing because they go backwards. Just remember that time is linear and it is going from left to right.

Between the years 823 BC and 745 BC, historians believe that Nineveh's leadership was weaker than it had been, so I am going draw that on our time line also.

Now, we cannot know what year Jonah went to Nineveh, but there is reference to Jeroboam II reigning in Israel during that time. Again this brings up some speculation on the exact years and, to add to the confusion, part of Jeroboam's reign was shared with another, but generally his reign was from 793 BC to 753 BC.

We have narrowed Jonah's journey down to a 40 year span, so let's look at what is happening in Nineveh within those 40 years. In 765 BC, Nineveh suffers a plague.

Let's consider this for a moment. The people of that time did not have science like we do today. They did not understand why one person would be struck down ill and another would not. Germs were unknown to them, so illnesses were often thought to be caused by supernatural means like demons or the wrath of gods.

In 763 BC, Nineveh has a solar eclipse noted in the Assyrian Chronological Cannon. Again, in our day and age, we know that the sun and the moon circle the earth and once in awhile the moon gets between the sun and the earth causing an eclipse. However, to the people of Nineveh this would probably be a very frightening sign. One of their many gods was a sun god named Shamash. The city even had a gate on the east side named after him.

In 759 BC, Nineveh suffers another plague.

In 755 BC, there is an earthquake of some significance in Nineveh. Again, this has to be done by a god because they have no knowledge of shifting in tectonic plates.

So, roughly in a ten year time frame and during the time when the leadership was weak, Nineveh had some very hard times, many deaths and frightening phenomena. Since the people did not have science to explain these phenomena, they assumed such these were done by one of the gods. They were all probably wondering which god is displeased.

When does Jonah go to Nineveh? I found one reference stating the Book of Jonah was written around 785 BC and another that began first began prophesying around 760 BC (fifteen years later) and another that Jonah supported Jeroboam's expansion of Israel in 776 BC. As I said before, ancient history gets sketchy on some dates.

However, it is more likely for me to believe that Nineveh would listen to an unknown newcomer if they were already thinking that one of the gods were trying to get their attention. I believe that Jonah went to Nineveh sometime during or after that ten year period of these life threatening and frightening events. I think Nineveh was a spiritual thesaurus prepared by God Himself just waiting to be filled.

Then along comes Jonah, a prophet of God. He finally has gone to Nineveh, where he may have feared for his life to go previously but--hey! after fearing for his own life in the belly of a fish for three days anything might look like a better alternative. He is now boldly going with a treasure beyond measure to give to Nineveh at just the right time. Too bad he still has a chip on his shoulder, but he does do what God commanded for him to do: He delivers the message, the treasure.

The treasure was an idea, a warning and invitation from the one true God. Of course, the one who gave the treasure was the one who was blind to its worth, but that is how treasures work. There has to be a desire for it before it is a treasure and Jonah lacked desire for the people of Nineveh to be saved from God's wrath.

We are a thesaurus full with a treasure, the Holy Spirit. It is not to be hidden away buried and protected. We cannot allow ourselves to be like Jonah thinking that we might offend people or that they do not deserve God's blessings, but we are to go boldly out believing that the Lord has prepared the storehouses before we deliver His treasure.

~ My Lord, thank you for this opportunity to teach. Teach us all to treasure pleasing You more than anything else. ~

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I Think I Can

When you are asked if you can do a job, tell 'em, "Certainly I can!" Then get busy and find out how to do it. ~Theodore Roosevelt

For the last few years my husband and I have not been volunteering much at church. We were very active for many years and have done a wide variety of jobs within the different churches, but the demands with his job made it increasing more difficult to make long term or regular obligations. Although he is more often than away from home during the week, things are a bit more predictable on the weekends now and our daughter is a good age to be more independent and responsible. At the same time, our church is in need of people to fill in doing some of the things the pastor and her husband were doing, so we are going to be doing more.

My husband will be running the multimedia and sound systems during most worship services, probably, and has plans to rearrange a few things. Although he is already on the building board, my husband has also been asked to fill a seat on the church board as one board member is moving away within a few weeks. He was asked to teach this Sunday night, but he felt he would not have the time to prepare. While he is gifted in preaching, he is not as strong as a teacher. Seeing that everyone is stretched pretty thin, I volunteered to teach the adults, something I have not done in this capacity before. (They may never wish for me to do it again.) I have also volunteered to be the webmaster for the church website, which I can do on my own time from home.

Needless to say I already had enough to do on my computer with homeschooling, but now I am more chained to it than I was before. I am not sure I will be blogging as often, but I am hoping I will as I truly have come to enjoy it very much.

~ My Lord, may our efforts please You and be of good service to You ~

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Take Me Back to You

Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. ~Psalm 37:7

Today my heart yearns for my Lord. There is so much unrest in my world, my country, my community, and my church, but none of that would matter as much if there was not unrest in my own heart.

I aptly named this blog. I need a sanctuary with my Lord. I need Him to take me back to Him. I need to rest in Him. This is another song from the Streams album I wrote about in my very first post. It heals me. It brings me back to those times when I lay awake frightened in the night as a child in contrast to the immediate peace I had never before known at the moment I invited Jesus into my heart at eleven years old.

Sometimes we all just need to go back to the beginning, the Alpha, our First Love and rest in Him. I hope this song will be as inspirational to you as it has been for me.

I Will Rest In You ~Jaci Velasquez

Lord, I'm in the dark,
Seems to me the line is dead when I come calling.
No one there, the sky is falling;

Lord, I need to know.
My mind is playing games again,
You're right where you have always been.

Take me back to you,
The place that I once knew as a little child;
Constantly the eyes of God watched over me.
Oh, I want to be
In the place that I once knew as a little child,
Fall into the bed of faith prepared for me.

I will rest in you,
I will rest in you,
I will rest in you.

Tell me I'm a fool,
Tell me that you love me for the fool I am,
[and*] comfort me like only you can,
And tell me there's a place
Where I can feel your breath
Like sweet caresses on my face again.

Take me back to you,
The place that I once knew as a little child;
Constantly the eyes of God watched over me.
Oh, I want to be
In the place that I once knew as a little child,
Fall into the bed of faith prepared for me.

I will rest in you,
I will rest in you,
I will rest in you.

~ My Lord, thank you for calling me back to you, being there when I turn back to you, for not letting me stray too far away from you, and for being my source of peace and rest, my sanctuary. I will rest in You.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Gifts From Israel

Those gifts are ever more precious which the giver has made precious. ~Ovid

After being away nearly two weeks, my husband came home early yesterday morning bearing gifts from Israel. The rug is silk and so luxurious I am not sure I want to place it on the floor. The silver goblet is also lovely. I also received a Jerusalem cross necklace with a blue stone inlay, which I plan to wear to church tomorrow. We also have a few confections to sample.

The camel was for the the Princess, of course. On his sides is printed "I love Jerusalem" and a squeeze in just the right place he says "I love you" twice. He has been named Jerusalem, not particularly original but sweet.

The Princess was doubly happy because not only was her daddy home but she would not be doing any lessons that day. I heard squeals and laughter as they spent some time together and I had some time alone. Then it was quiet...all too quiet. As I entered the room, the child was gesturing for me to be silent as her daddy was asleep sitting up on the couch. I had warned her that he might be rather tired because of the time difference, but even so, I am always impressed with her maturity at such times.

After his early afternoon nap, trying to acclimate back to our time zone, we went out for dinner at the Outback, courtesy of my husband's parents, who sent us a gift card from Outback. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

Afterward we stopped by Michaels to see if the activity planner/calendar I like to get every year was available; It was and just one dollar as usual. While I was looking at other sale items, my husband and daughter picked out a long stem silk rose that "will not die."

~ My Lord, thank You for my family. ~

Friday, August 14, 2009

It Will Never be Boring

There is no more lovely, friendly, and charming relationship, communion, or company than a good marriage. ~Martin Luther

Years ago, I was at a point in my life that I did not trust my judgment so I surrendered it to my Lord. I asked the Lord to provide the one He wanted me to marry.

Immediately, I met someone--someone, whom I would not have chosen for myself. We were supposed to go on double date with a mutual friend, but it never happened. The friend did give my phone number so that is how I first met my husband. He had a very nice voice and we talked a long time. We talked a few times before we actually met in person. I think we actually fell in love over the phone before we knew what each other looked like. Less than a year later, we married.

It was challenging to stay together the first years. There were times I was just barely holding on with my fingernails and I am sure he had feelings I would rather not know also. Through the years he would always remind me that he first promised our marriage would never be boring and it hasn't been.

Today is our 22nd Anniversary!

~ My Lord, thank you for knowing what I needed better than I did and providing it to me through my husband. ~

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Is there, as the medieval mystics taught, a "spark" at the core of the Soul, which never consents to evil, a Divine nucleus in the heart of the personality, which can take no stain? ~Dean Inge

The word sinderesis has haunted me since I first found in an early edition Black's Law Dictionary so many years ago:

SINDERESIS. "A natural power of the soul, set in the highest part thereof, moving and stirring it to good, and adhorring evil. And therefore sinderesis our Lord put in man, to the intent that the order of things should be observed. And therefore sinderesis is called by some men the ‘law of reason,’ for it ministereth the principles of the law of reason, the which be in every man by nature, in that he is a reasonable creature." Doct. & Stud. 39.

Source: Black's Law Dictionary, 2nd Edition (1910)

That sounds much like what we commonly refer to as our conscious today, but there is still speculation as to whether or not Saint Jerome meant to define a distinction between the two:

"which the Greeks call synteresis: that spark of conscience which was not even extinguished in the breast of Cain after he was turned out of paradise, and by which we discern that we sin, when we are overcome by pleasures or frenzy and meanwhile are misled by an imitation of reason (St. Jerome, Commentarium in Ezechielem, I, 1, in Migne, Patrologia Latina, vol. 25, col. 22, mentioned in Fagothey, here)."

You may have noticed the variation in spelling. Sinderesis is also spelled synderesis, but the most proper spelling derives from its Greek origins synteresis. Some scholars believe that it is a corruption of suneidhsis or suneidesis, the normal Greek word for "conscience."

Maybe that is all it is, but perhaps there is this essence of God in each person that is above the conscience, that is above one's desire to preserve his own life, that yearns to have a relationship with the Creator. Philosophers may argue the meaning of word until the end of time, but I like to think of it as the essence left in each created being of the Creator, place of juncture with my Lord, free of sin, where He can abide in me and I in Him.

~ My Lord, if there is such a thing as my idea of synteresis, then it is my ultimate "happy place," because that is where we are together. ~

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Clabbered Milk

"Hence I have said to you, 'You are to possess their land, and I Myself will give it to you to possess it, a land flowing with milk and honey' I am the LORD your God, who has separated you from the peoples." ~Leviticus 20:24

My Lord promised to give His people a land flowing with milk and honey. Perhaps a symbolism only, but I am pretty sure what the people envisioned is what we now call unpasteurized or raw milk. Sad it is that today we must make use a word like "raw" to describe milk in its natural form, because before it is sold in stores, milk is cooked--well, that is what pasteurizing really means.

I am an advocate for raw milk with a strong preference for Nubian goat milk. Nubians are known for milk with high butterfat. My aunt in Ohio has had a few Nubian goats for milking, which is how it all started with me. Rich, creamy, and with a taste of liquid butter, I was hooked the moment the first drop touched my tongue. Unfortunately, Ohio is one of the states where it is completely illegal to sell raw milk. It is a wonder to me how people survived through the centuries before pasteurization!--a subject for another time, perhaps.

When I lived in Florida I was delighted to find a little place grandfathered in urban St. Petersburg called Joys Half Acre with about thirty milking goats mostly Nubians. The goats were their source of income due to her husband's disability. Even then, Florida's laws allowed the selling of raw milk for animal consumption only.

When I moved to Georgia, the laws were similar to Florida, but the facility has to be licensed as well. Finding a Nubian goat farm close by was far more difficult. I found one place not too far away, but she was not licensed because she sold so little; that is common with small farms so that did not discourage me. What did deter me from being a patron is she did not let me see her milking facility or her goats. Without seeing for myself how things were handled and the health of the goats, I passed.

For years we just did without milk, using organic yogurt mostly as a substitute. About four years ago we went to a farm with a corn maze on their homeschool day and I found they were selling raw cow milk for "pets," of course. From then on we have been getting several gallons of raw cow's milk per trip, which I freeze until needed.

I could go on and on and on about why I will not drink pasteurized milk at all. I don't have an allergy to it, per se, but then I believe that everyone does have slight allergic reactions to it simply because all the natural cultures in milk that help us to digest it are killed off in the pasteurizing process. I have even personally known many lactose intolerant people found they could drink raw milk without any reaction. Besides that, there are many ways that raw milk clears up certain health problems and the lovely skin of milkmaids was legendary throughout history. (You should see my aunt's skin!)

As to harmful bacteria, that is a concern, but it is quite rare. In all the years I have been drinking raw milk, I have not yet had a problem with it, but ironically the largest outbreak was in pasteurized milk a few years ago, affecting thousands of people in my state. It was only a problem at one particular farm, but since the milk of many farms are combined it took some time to track down the source. At least when buying directly from the farm, there is less concern about tracking down the source.

Because of the concerns about people drinking raw milk, in some states they have required not only labeling against human consumption, but agricultural agencies have made new rules so that a gray dye must be added to the milk. Ridiculous, but it would certainly do the trick in making milk appear unappetizing. We fought this in Georgia and it did not go through the last time, but a neighboring state was not as fortunate.

Raw milk is a bit more expensive and there is only three of us, more often two most weeks, yet not one drop of our raw milk is ever thrown away. It is not because we drink so much of it, even though we do give some to our pets, but rather it is due to the fact that raw milk does not spoil like pasteurized milk does. No, raw milk will clabber, a word from the Irish language, meaning “to thicken.” Other terms for it would be sour or ferment or lopper. Milk cultures turn it into a tangy, rich, and thick substance. It can be a great substitute for yogurt, although not quite as thick and smooth as Americans are used to buying in stores. Off the top, one can collect the clotted cream, a favorite in tea and on scones.

The variety of cultures in milk have certain temperatures that promote them and there are subtle variations of what the milk becomes or is called at each point in different countries. For instance, to make yogurt, the milk should stay at an even temperature between 100 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. I have not done this. I simply let it clabber at room temperature for about 18 or so hours and add to granola for breakfast.

I have placed some clabbered milk in cheese cloth to hang, separating the whey and make it thicker for a cream cheese substitute or something closer to Greek yogurt which is very thick. I am no expert, so I am not really sure what one would call my experiments with raw milk, but as I said before, it is all edible in any form, even the whey, so there are no rules about how I must use it. Clabbered milk keeps for a very long time also.

Here are some of websites for more information:
Raw Milk Facts
Real Milk

Well, its time for bed and a short glass of real milk. Nighty-night!

~ My Lord, You provided all we need in nature to sustain our physical bodies. Thank you for the wonders of raw milk. ~

Monday, August 10, 2009

Church Business

Change is inevitable, growth is intentional. ~Unknown

Last night we had a meeting at my little church to list what qualities we would like to see in a pastor, as we are now looking for one. The meeting went well and some answers were expected. Of course, we all want someone who is perfect, yet we all know that is not going to happen.

I wish my husband had been there, but he has been training in Israel and will not be back until Friday morning. I really miss his perspective when things like this are occurring.

I was rather curious about a few things said and those not said. One of the greatest surprises came out of my own mouth. I said it was not a high priority, but I would like to have a pastor who has been out in the mission field, even if just one that they went for a few days to do a project. I think it gives a person a completely different perspective on the Kingdom of God. No, I have not been on a mission myself, not yet, at least. I am, however, drawn to missionaries, always have been. I just think they are the most interesting and spirit-filled people. I had never really thought about it until last night, but I truly wish that every church leader had the opportunity to do missionary work in some capacity. Missionary work ignites a spark in the spiritual heart of a person that never goes out.

About some of the things that needed to be discussed, I found that I was of two minds. It seems that everyone wants our church to grow. To most, church growth means a new building, more people, more money, and more activities to offer, but even though that is the reality in nearly any church, it sounds so business-like, so devoid of my Lord.

My idea of church growth is not the same, I suppose. I need to say that I know these people. I know they have a heart for God. The conflict I feel about this may simply be an internal one for me. Something not fixable and not even in need of fixing, just my feelings in a jumble, perhaps. However, it is rather perplexing to me that while we currently have a very small building, it is not in use much timewise, and that may have something to do with its size, but I have some doubts in that. What would cause us to use it more if we have a bigger building? Are we going to devote more time to using the building in service to the Lord, each other, or the community because we have more space with its added expenses?

The meeting also reminded me that there are a few things that make me uncomfortable when it comes to religious organizations, two in particular.

One is that religious organizations have policies about how they go about doing things instead of leaving it to the individual churches. Now I know my Lord can work within and around the limitations men set up and that some structure is necessary, but still I have a rebellious nature that just wants to shout out, "My Lord is not an organization." One such quirk, if we have too few voting members, the Church of the Nazarene has a policy that the district can assign a pastor to us. That can work well because my Lord is greater than the plans of man, but it does not set well with most people not to have a say in such a decision as who will be the church leader.

The second thing is related, I suppose, and about which I feel even more strongly: church business. Actually, I think business and church should be not be affiliated with each other, but it is inevitable that when money is involved there is "business" that needs to be conducted. Still, a large part of me just feels like fashioning a scourge of cords and driving the business out of church, perhaps sitting in prayer until there is agreement with what my Lord would have us do instead. I just would like to see all churches manage their finances as an example and be debt free. What I would not do to have us all worshiping my Lord back in the Garden of Eden!

While everyone had an idea about what they wanted the new pastor to be to the church and to them personally, I was a bit saddened by one particular thing that was not said. Perhaps, it was just a given, but no one mentioned wanting someone who was highly devoted to his own family, children, and spouse. Someone who would be a living example of how we also should devote ourselves to our families. Maybe it is because I am a homeschooling parent that this so keenly on my mind. Perhaps it is because I have seen the families of pastors suffer when pastors are more involved with the church than their families. I would love the pastor to have a homeschooling family, but that would not be a priority for the church in general, so I did not even mention it last night.

After writing all this, I am reminded that I really rather not have any expectation at all and just let my Lord provide who He wills.

~ So be it, my Lord. Let not the business of running a church be our business. ~

Friday, August 7, 2009

Vacation Bible School 2009

Of all the needs a child has, the one that must be satisfied, if there is going to be hope and a hope of wholeness, is the unshaking need for an unshakable God.
~Maya Angelou (b. 1928)

Last year's VBS was the very first time I ever dropped off my child without a blood relative present, but I do think of church members as family. It was at a time when my husband was working out of state and they had plenty of adults there, so I had a just a bit over an hour to spend by myself each day for five days. It is just amazing how much I covet having a few hours to myself and then, when I finally have them, I really don't know what to do. I even had to fight the feeling that I had lost my child somewhere in the store when I did a little shopping.

This year VBS was from July 20-24 and I volunteered to face paint. I was not sure how many nights I could be there, but as it turned out, I was there all five. My husband came when he could, as he was working locally for part of the week, so he took some pictures of me painting faces. Now the thing was that nearly every child wanted painted every day, which keeps one child occupied while others are waiting because it takes a few minutes to each, and face painting had to be squeezed in between planned activities. I wish more children had been there, but I was also thankful we had only about fifteen at the most; I did some adults as well.

After working with youth for years in other churches, I know I am not one to work well in organized chaos--although I have done it, of course, and it worked out well--but for this I had my own little corner and face painting is all I was needed to do. Compared to what the other adults were doing, I think I had it easy. What you don't see in the pictures is that I was on my knees to paint the children and adults sitting in the chair, but my Lord is good, as I had absolutely no back or knee pain the entire week.

The VBS theme was superheroes of the Bible, which is why everyone was wearing a cape. I have become pretty practiced at doing various designs for girls, but not that many for boys. The girls mostly wanted horses and butterflies. The boys more often went for a Superman "S" and a Spiderman splosh, as I called it. It was a black web on the a cheek with a red background--unfortunately, we did not get a picture of one, but it was striking and one of the easiest designs I did. Actually, they all became quite easy, as things usually do with forced intensity.

The grand prize for the one who brought the most guests was a full face design, but two sisters tied so I ended up doing two instead of one.

I was so tired that by the weekend I had nothing left and I had to get the Princess prepared for a 4-H Horse Day Camp the following Tuesday, too. I was already behind with posting about our other activities, so I just got around to resizing the VBS pictures for my blog today...finally!


~ My Lord, please bless these precious young souls and the people who are devoted to serve You by teaching them about You. ~

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

An Abstract Sequential Teaching an Abstract Random

I like to draw from my imagination spread out.
~The Princess at 8 years old, August 4, 2009

The Princess and I share a abstract traits, that means we both like to use reason and intuition. However, we also differ in some very pronounced ways. I am a Abstract Sequential (AS) and the Princess is a Abstract Random (AR). True to being an AS, I tend to like having things in some kind of order, but the Princess naturally dislikes order. I am sure that you can see this one difference alone causes a bit of friction for the both of us at times.

The thing that I often have to remind myself while I can prepare her lessons in a logical sequential order to please my idiosyncrasy, I have to randomize how I present them to her or the poor child is just as unhappy with the sequence as I would be if they were out of sequence. It is quite challenging and requires compromises.

The Princess has always loved books. She actually cries when she sees anyone mistreating a book. I have emphasized to her at a very young age that she needs to be gentle with books, that paper once creased or torn or written on cannot be restored to its original condition. I can trust her with some of the oldest books I have. We both relish that old book smell. The Princess prefers pictures books mostly because she does not really enjoy reading itself, especially chapter books. Even though her reading skills are more than adequate, she would prefer I do the reading so we often take turns. Now, she does enjoy reading what she wants to read when she wants to read, but not what she is required to read when she is required to read, and she has a greater love for fiction than non-fiction.

Lately, I have been going to the library more often. When we go, the Princess is required to get at least three non-fiction books: one about a person, one about a place, and one about science. While this gives that bit of structure which works for me, it allows for her random trait to be nurtured also because she has the freedom to pick the subjects herself. My thinking on this is that she, like most children, really learns about the things she chooses to learn. The downside for her is that she still has to read them to me out loud. She also can get a number of fiction books, which she is a bit more enthusiastic about reading.

One love we both share is art. Every day, the Princess draws or paints something. She tends to do this soon after lessons are over, as if she is treating herself by being expressive without any structure. In fact, a realization practically smacked me in the head today. The Princess had an Eyewitness Book about cats out on the table. (Eyewitness books are full of pictures and bits of information.) I suggested that she try to copy one of the cats on the cover. You see, I loved trying to copy pictures as a means of learning drawing techniques, but that would probably be a sequential trait, because I immediately received look as if I was criticizing the picture she was in the middle of doing even though she had not started it. Even as I tried explaining the purpose of copying and reminded her that she had just read about how Michelangelo learned to be a great artist by first copying artwork of masters, she just looked at me as if I was trespassing on her own little private domain. I then realized she already had her picture done in her head and she felt I was robbing her of the pleasure of getting down on paper just by suggesting she do something else. With unexpected maturity, as if I just did not understand, she said that she had her own way of doing things following with "I like to draw from my imagination spread out."

Such are the challenges of this AS with her AR daughter. Sigh....

~ My Lord, there are times I feel inadequate, but You are there. You are ever beside me ready to provide strength and wisdom. Please bless my daughter's education and guide both of us to bring out the best of each other through the traits we share and through our differences. ~

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Changes Happen

We know that change is rarely a smooth process. It can be intimidating and chaotic. In fact, transition has the potential to either launch an organization to the next level, or dump it into the deepest pit. That’s why wise leaders look out for change, then manage it, and lead their people through it. ~John Maxwell

There has been some changes in my little church. The kind that test a church. The kind that test me also.

There are times when I see something coming. I just know without knowing. Perhaps the Lord provided me with this knowledge to prepare me personally, or help others, or perhaps He is calling me to act, to pray. A couple of weeks ago I felt called to fast for five days. I did not know specifically why at the time, but now I believe I do.

My pastor resigned this week.

Upon first learning this I felt some anxiety, even though just a few days before I had asked my husband, "You don't think she is going to resign, do you?" There was no mention of her even thinking of resigning and no one asking for her to do so, as far as I know. Yet, oddly, I was more surprised that those words had came out of my mouth prophetically than of her actually doing it.

I do not know how, other than by the grace of my Lord, that part of me knew in advance, yet I resisted accepting the knowledge, as if that alone would keep it from happening. Such things happen with me more often than I would like, actually. It seems the Lord gives me knowledge of things I would rather stay ignorant sometimes.

In the coming weeks, there will be more changes at my church and most likely a sense of uneasiness and disorganization. Some people, perhaps most, do not do well with such changes in a church, particularly changes in leadership, so I am not certain about the future of my church. Some people may leave. We may have to change our priorities. Working towards a new building may not happen as quickly as hoped.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Lord has a plan--His own--and He is still our Almighty God and Leader. If we are accepting of His plan and surrendered to Him and keep our hearts seeking Him, whatever plans He has for my church will be used for His purpose and glory. After all, church services are about worshiping and serving Him, regardless of what building it is in, or if the multimedia system is being cued on time, or who is speaking from the pulpit. Still, I will miss her not being there...very much.

~ My Lord, bring this church to the place of surrender to Your plan and let it continue to be a place of healing.~