Category Archives: Family Life

Flip the Coin

Every life is a coin. On one side, heads… representing honoring God through following Jesus. On the tails side, honoring anything and anyone else, especially self.

Through daily distractions and selfish natures, even Christians often end up with the head side down and tails side up; glorifying us.

God gets the most glory when we recognize our failure and flip our coin again. We choose Him. Our wills subject to His will.

Religion says that I have to keep my coin in the right position every second. I cannot fail God. I must strive to meet “my side of the deal”. But, Christianity says, I don’t have a “side”… rather, it is arrogance to assume that I can do any part of my salvation… that’s why it is Grace. He paid it ALL. I paid none of it. I had nothing to do with it. Even my ability to accept His free gift of salvation is because He gave me the ability! All of my works, my efforts, are “filthy rags” the Bible says. Nothing. Less than nothing. And to assume that I can do anything to pay my debt of death is to diminish what Jesus did in entirety.

Sometimes it’s frustrating when we recognize how very often our coins are flipped and we have again put ourselves on top… but I think that perhaps God intends for it to be that way. If we were perfectly obedient, there would be some pride in that, wouldn’t there? A sense of our own ability to perform. God doesn’t want us to perform… He doesn’t need us to be perfect (which is a good thing, since we can’t be). He simply wants us to choose Him. There is honor to Him in every fresh choice we make.

Flip the coin. Give God the glory. Quit worrying about your perfection… it’s not like He didn’t know that you were going to, are going to, fail. Just choose Him again… acknowledge Him as Lord.

 

Protected: Our Family’s Experience with Electronic Screen Syndrome

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Quick & Tasty GF Tuna Pesto Pasta

I realize that this sounds Wrong… GF (for gluten-free) and “pasta” are not typically found in the same sentence. However, our family absolutely loves the brown rice pasta from Tinkyada, and we use it interchangeably in recipes calling for pasta. This recipe is a family favorite and super quick to put together for lunch or a lighter supper.

Tuna Pesto Pasta

1 can tuna (or pint jar canned fish), drained

1/2 cup prepared pesto

1/2 cup ranch dressing (we make our own, with kefir replacing buttermilk)

1 package gluten-free rice pasta (or any pasta if you do not eat GF)

1 can black olives (or any other olives you have around – just make sure they are pitted)

Salt & Pepper to taste

Combine and serve! We like this either warm or cold. It’s great on a bed of mixed greens for a salad; we also just eat it as-is.

The Lawn Ranger

I have to admit that I despair when I see the lawn care chemical trucks start rumbling through town in early Spring. The little flags go up to warn folks to stay off the grass… I nervously check the wind, call my barefoot children in from outside, sometimes have to close the windows on the side of the house that is sharing frontage with a neighbor out to murder their weeds.

We have been on a journey, removing toxic chemicals from our foods, our home environment, our lives. Despite my always having believed instinctively in the concept that an organic garden was a healthier, happier place for me to while away my time, I had no idea that I would be so “crunchy” about so many other aspects of life once I became a Mom. But first the boy, then the girl, came to change the way I thought about consumption, being a consumer, and being a participant in the world at large.

Seven years into this journey, I now grow a greater portion of our family’s vegetables. I grow enough to do some major preserving come harvest time – from dehydrating to canning to freezing. My canning total in 2011 was 353 jars. I scaled back (due to a better idea of what we used and when) in 2012 with less than half that, but increased the amount I dehydrated and froze. The theory is simply to grow what we will eat, and to eat what we can grow.

Somewhere along the line of our Urban Organic Farmer growth, my eyes turned to the lawn. From this article at (http://www.organiclawncare101.com/dark-lawns.html):

  •  “researchers reporting in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that exposure to garden pesticides can increase the risk of childhood leukemia almost sevenfold. Contact with low levels of pesticides increases miscarriage rates, and a study recently published in the American Journal of Epidemiology documented a link between residential pesticide use and breast cancer risk in women. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that frequent exposure to pesticides increased the incidence of Parkinson’s disease by 70 percent.

OK, so pesticides applied to lawns – and these can range from our personal front- or backyards to those surrounding businesses, churches, parks and sports fields – can seriously increase the potential for harmful and even deadly disease. Besides the pesticides and herbicides themselves lie danger in the “inert” ingredients, which are not even required to be labeled. Heavy metals, anyone?

Here’s a very informative site about easy organic lawncare. Wait, EASY? I thought anything organic meant a lot harder to accomplish? Not really. Honestly, what grows a healthy lawn is the same thing that grows a healthy garden (which grows a healthy person), and that is healthy soil. Natural, God-given, nutrient-rich, earthworm-active, biologically-exploding soil! http://www.richsoil.com/lawn-care.jsp

From sites like Richsoil.com and Organic Lawn Care 101.com, I find that the reasons my grass tended to struggle a bit in the summer are twofold: first, we mowed too low. Setting the mower higher, the grass is sturdier, stronger, takes up more nutrients and fights off the bad guys (aka weeds). And second, we were bagging our clippings. Now, in our defense, we were either feeding the clippings (remember, these are untreated, natural grass with no chemical dressing) to our small flock of urban hens, using them spread thin as a mulch in the garden, or using them to make compost. They were not going in the dumpster to drive on down the road… however, even alternating mowings and leaving one to self-fertilize the lawn and taking the next for the abovementioned activities, the lawn still benefits.

So… there are my thoughts about urban lawnkeeping! I have to admit that a bigger chunk is retrieved from our front lawn every year as I keep expanding my gardens. Even in a front yard, with graceful lines edging the beds, and the beds themselves a lovely cottage-garden style of mixed flowers, herbs, and attractive vegetables, I find no reason to make a garden look like a mini-farm. A birdbath here and there, some foundation flowering or evergreen shrubs, attractive woodchip mulch, and you have a front yard that feeds the senses as well as the body, helps along the avian wildlife that keep bugs minimized, and reduces the amount of water and energy that are strictly for “show”… ie, an American front lawn. But there is a place for most everything, and if it is integrated well and has a purpose, and we are good stewards of the land under our care, even a lawn can be healthy, attractive, and easy!

Explaining Easter

What do you tell your kids when they ask about Easter? About the real story, the real reason for it. The truth about what Christianity is all about, not the Easter bunny hoopla, hunting eggs…  the fact that Jesus was the only perfect man who ever existed, and was equally God. That none of us could make it to heaven because we’re human, we’re messed up, we are prone to wander and determined to have our own way. The fact that Jesus was and is the only way that faulty, imperfect, sin-prone mankind could ever come running straight to the Father, all debts paid, all sins forgiven, love abounding. What do you tell a young child when they ask?

 I’ve heard and read people’s opinions that you should tell your preschooler or young elementary-aged children that bad guys killed Jesus, and He rose again after paying for the sins of mankind, and that He is our way to heaven. Well, that’s true enough. Except that it isn’t enough.

 If we don’t gently share with our little ones the very real truth that WE are the bad guys, that it is OUR sin that put Jesus on the cross, then some day someone is going to tell them “Jesus died for YOU” and it is going to be an insult. If they grow up thinking that Jesus was taken by force, beaten, mocked and scorned, and then forcibly restrained and nailed to the tree… all because the bad guys took control… then the new information that THEY had anything to do with it, that THEY are the reason as much as any one else in creation, then what is the response? After having grown up fully secure in the knowledge that “bad guys” killed Jesus, what is the compelling reason to accept their equal culpability in His death? No wonder so many kids fall away from the church. The world is telling them that they deserve the best, they are a rock star, they are a winner. Self-esteem is this huge issue, as though any human child needs to be told again and again of their own importance when it is something that kids feel instinctively from birth. And self-esteem, pride, rears back its head and says, “Wait! What? You’re saying that I’m messed up, dirty, sinful? That I’m one of the bad guys who killed Jesus? NO WAY.”

 Since our children were very young, and I’m talking 2 or 3 here, we’ve been gentle but we’ve been honest. We show them their sin. We admit to our own, and apologize to them and to God in front of them. We call it sin. We call ourselves sinners. We don’t pound the pulpit or judge, we simply point out who is in control of our hearts when sin takes place… and Who is in control of our hearts when love takes place. We call it like we see it through the eyes of biblical love and compassion.

We explain to our kids that Jesus Christ of Nazareth was not forcibly taken, restrained, nailed to the cross against His will. No, He did it willingly. He could have had legions of angels immediately rescue Him at any instant. God the Father could have destroyed the Earth in one blink to rescue His Son. But Jesus took the hurt and the shame. It wasn’t “bad guys”, it was all of us… the same ones who were crying “Hosanna!” and waving palm fronds just days before. Why did He do it?

  • Because He loves us, as specific and individual people.
  • Because it was and is the only way that each one of us can get past the stain and ugliness of the sin we carry around in our bodies, and join a resurrected Jesus and His Daddy, His Abba, in heaven. And He didn’t want to live without us.
  • Because that was the plan from Genesis, and repeated throughout scripture, and God’s scripture is always true.
  • And mostly, He did it because His love compelled Him to do so.

 And our love should recognize that it isn’t an “us against them” good guys with white hats versus bad guys with black hats… it’s all of us, sinners, equally unworthy, that are rescued by Jesus and the work that He did.

 I don’t believe that a child can be too young to hear that Jesus chose the cross because He wanted that child to be with Him in heaven, and that there was no other way for that child to be good enough. It should not instill shame in that child to hear that they are so beloved that a Savior would go to any imaginable lengths to assure their safety and security forever.

It is not a curse “You are dirty!” but a cry, “We are all dirty, unrighteous, un-able… but, God…” But, God… was pleased to see His Son die for us, because God loved us that much. But, God… was willing to become man and live a life on the Earth, to share our experiences and to suffer and die for us. But, God… never intended to leave us alone. He always intended salvation. And through Jesus, understanding and accepting that what He did and we celebrate joyously at Easter, He suffered through utter love for us. Kids get it. They see Mom and Dad’s fierce love for them, their joy with them, their compassion and the security the child feels with them… and they understand that God is the source of all of that good, and that they are God-esteemed.

 We do our kids, even our very young kids, a disservice to imagine that they don’t know that choosing behavior that they know to be opposite of the directives of their loving parents is, actually, sin. We do them a disservice to not be honest with them in the explanation that Jesus is the only way to heaven, for ALL of us. None of us are good enough without Him. We do them a disservice to pretend that we do not sin, or to be unwilling to acknowledge and repent of it, change our ways and apologize. We do all of us a disservice not to accept that the Bible says that No one is righteous, no, not one. That ALL fall short of the glory of God. That the only way to the Father is through the atoning work of the Son. We need to prepare them for the truths that they will more fully understand as they get older.  We should be gentle, compassionate, empathetic… but we need to be honest.

 It must never be Rules and Laws, us versus them. It should focus on the relationship, always. We were, and our kids were, created for relationship with Him… so it is us and Him, not us and them. It’s a good thing. It is grace.

Springtime in the Rockies…

I love flowers. Love. Them. I love lilacs especially, the smell is wild, crazy, gorgeous! These early flowers – crabapple, tulips, miniature grape hyacinths, lilacs… they’re all a hug after a long, hard winter. Thanks God – I love You, too!! 🙂

Great Website…

She Reads: Discovering Great Fiction Together

She Reads exists to honor Christ by connecting readers with novels that:

■inspire through excellent writing
■explore deep issues of faith
■initiate change in the reader’s life
Each month, the She Reads book club will offer one current title as a featured selections. Readers have vast differences in taste and for this reason diverse genres and authors will be chosen, with a total of twelve books per year.

Why should I join She Reads?

Readers who join She Reads receive a number of benefits, including:

■Connection with other readers on the She Reads blog who are passionate about great fiction and uplifting stories.
■Information via the She Reads newsletter that will keep readers up to date on their favorite authors, and books, with a few surprises thrown in for fun.
■Reviews of newly released titles written by a variety of readers, writers, and industry professionals.
■Options to create a She Reads book club or bring an existing club under the She Reads umbrella.
■Relationships developed within the intimate setting of a regular book club meeting.
■Fun planned study guides with activities and interesting facts developed specifically for the She Reads book club.
■Online Community for those who can’t participate in a monthly meeting (or don’t live near an existing club), via the She Reads blog and Facebook group.
■Pre-selected novels they can trust and appreciate – an important aspect in today’s economy where every buying decision requires a second thought.
■Access to authors they love through print interviews, meet and greets, conference calls, etc. Each selected author will participate in two conference calls with the first 100 guests (per call) who sign up. This will be a free service and a chance for readers to have their questions answered by the authors themselves!
■Free books from time to time via contests, giveaways, and publisher promotions.
Who is running this thing anyway?

On a large scale, She Reads is an offshoot of Proverbs 31 Ministries, helping bring God’s peace, perspective, and purpose to today’s busy woman. As an organization, Proverbs provides leadership and technical support.