Sunday, April 25, 2010

Preparing Review

First of all, you may be wondering why I'm so interested in "Preparing To Be A Help Meet." I am not holding out; there is no perspective guy "in my life" and as far as I know, I may not be married even 10 years from now. Honestly, I may never get married. Fortunately, all the skills I am cultivating will be useful whether or not I ever get married. But there has never been a time in my life when I did not believe that God has planned a man for me, and me for him. Whether or not marriage is in my future, this book has helped my perspective and understanding of men, and has also helped with the image of the woman I hope to be.

Too many girls will "live their life" and then suddenly find themselves in a relationship and wanting to get married. Once married, they will have many tasks for which they may have spent very little time preparing. Cooking three meals a day, keeping a house clean by yourself, buying groceries, paying bills and possibly working a job? Sounds a little daunting to me, and that doesn't even include things like adjusting to living with your man instead of your family, submitting to him, honoring and reverencing him and learning to serve him.

So many girls spend 4 years at college preparing for a job. If you prepare for that job 4 years, how long do you want to prepare for a marriage that will hopefully last the rest of your life? If marriage is even a vague possibility for you, I recommend that you read this book, and start preparing now to be a help meet. It can't hurt.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Receiving an Award...

Thank you, dear Abigail! So I must now list 5 random things about me, and award 5 other bloggers.

  1. I have what might be considered an unhealthy obsession with the color green, Ireland and Celtic jewelry and designs.
  2. I love reading, but haven't yet brought myself to finish the LOTR books. I read The Hobbit, The Fellowship and half of The Two Towers, but no farther.
  3. I discovered when I was young that I could bend my pinkie fingers flat against the back of my hand. Most people that saw this demonstrated thought it looked disgusting, so I don't show it much anymore, but I can still do it.
  4. I love to organize things, but I get overwhelmed easily, so I have to do bigger tasks in manageable segments. In the case of my bedroom, I have a chart inside my head of sections, and I always start with the pile of clothes that collects on my hope chest. I think it would be impossible to begin cleaning my room anywhere else.
  5. I absolutely love writing old-fashioned letters on pretty stationary, but only have one true correspondent (a dear life-long friend who enjoys letter-writing like I do). I would love to someday have a collection of hand-written love letters, but I don't have any expectations in this age of technology. ;)

    And now to award 5 other bloggers... three of my five have already been awarded, but I'm just going to double their award... 'cause they deserve it. ;)

    Anna for being such a sweet example of cheerfulness and industry.
    Natalie because reading your blog always brightens my day, and I wish I could meet you in person!
    Abigail for your enjoyable mix of hilarious recounts and uplifting deep thoughts.
    Emily because you are a fellow book lover, pianist and red-head.
    Meredith for being such an encouraging and inspirational example of serving at home.

    Friday, April 16, 2010

    Preparing To Be A Help Meet

    A few years ago, when Created To Be His Help Meet came out, I was really hoping to read it. I figured it couldn't hurt to start preparing to be a help meet as soon as possible, even with no prospects on the very distant horizon. I was very disappointed when Mom pronounced it unsuitable for my unmarried self, and said that I must wait to read it once I was married or at least close to being married. 

    So imagine my excitement upon discovering that Debi Pearl has just written a new book: Preparing To Be A Help Meet. It has all the promise of being suitable for an unmarried young woman (still with no likely prospects) and also much more helpful, as it actually is written for my circumstances!

    I am eagerly awaiting my copy!

    Friday, April 9, 2010

    Unofficial "Week in Skirts"

    It's the kind of weather when I enjoy wearing skirts and dresses anyway, and when I realized that we didn't have dance and theatre this past week (because I really need to wear pants/capris for those classes) I decided that I would take this opportunity to wear skirts and dresses all week. 

    When I was little (up til about age 6) Mom, Sarah and I wore dresses so often that I was kinda legalistic in my opinion that all girls should wear skirts. If I was going to be doing something like jumping on a trampoline, then I would just wear some shorts under my skirt in case my skirt flew up. ;)
    But then, as we got older, we started wearing shorts and pants more often. The house church that we had been attending kinda fell apart as families moved further away and we started going to a typical Baptist church just up the road from our house. All the girls there were much more immodest than I had ever noticed before, and I was at the age where "fitting in" felt very important. I was still required by my parents to wear dresses or skirts to church, but that was the point where I no longer wanted to wear skirts anymore. That was around age 11 or 12.

    We moved, and eventually stopped going to that Baptist church. We joined a homeschool swim club and started joining some of the families in a "home" church that met at the pool on Sundays, and at houses during the off-season. There, where the girls often wore dresses or skirts, I regained a little of my enjoyment of skirts. 

    Since then I've worn skirts occasionally. They've always seemed like the best option for dressing up, but I wore jeans and capris and the more modest-length shorts for more casual things. I don't now believe that it's wrong for women to wear pants. Many argue Deuteronomy 22:5: "A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God." I believe this is intended for the practice of transvestism, but even if that isn't the case, when I wear pants I am not wearing men's clothing, I am wearing women's pants. In Bible times, the difference between men's and women's tunics was just as slight as the difference between men's and women's pants today.

    That said, however, I have enjoyed my week in skirts (tomorrow is the last day) and I've enjoyed wearing skirts for everyday events. I will probably wear skirts more often, but I will also wear modest pants, capris and *modest* shorts when practical.

    Whatever your modesty beliefs, remember that most important is declared in 1 Timothy 2:9-10 and 1 Peter 3:3-4:

    "likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works." 1 Tim 2:9-10

    Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 1 Peter 3:3-4

    And just for the record, I don't believe those verses are against braiding hair and wearing gold jewelry or pretty clothes... just a reminder that our true beauty is our character as followers of Christ.

    Monday, April 5, 2010

    "Easter" Inspired Thoughts

     Did you know that we celebrate Christ's birth on December 25 because Pope Julius I wanted to substitute Christmas for the Pagan holiday celebrated that time of year? There are several Pagan holidays around the winter solstice from which Christmas is a collection of traditions. Caroling, feasting, mistletoe, yule logs, hollyberries, evergreen trees and gift-giving are all Pagan holiday traditions. Even Santa Claus, whom I believe has a basis in Saint Nicholas, is also based in paganism, along with his reindeer.

    "Easter" isn't even a Christian name for a Pagan holiday; it's a Pagan name! Easter is known by many other names as well, including the titles of goddess of licentiousness, goddess of love, and goddess of fertility. The bunny is a Pagan symbol of fertility, and the eggs have several origins, none in the least bit Christian. Lent is also Pagan, giving up something for 40 days to mourn the death of Tammuz.

    See this article for more interesting information on Christmas, Easter and other non-Christian holidays with decidedly Pagan backgrounds. I don't completely agree (and naturally, don't take this as your only information! Look it up and research further for yourself!) with everything they say, but it is very informative and a good overview of all the commonly celebrated holidays. (By the way, my family has never celebrated Halloween. I always thought that should be obvious; there isn't even a hint of any Christian excuse for that pagan holiday!)

    When I first heard of Santa Claus from one of my friends, I remember thinking it was the silliest thing I'd ever heard, and I flat-out told her that there couldn't be any such thing. When I told my parents about it that night, they told me about Santa Claus, the Easter bunny and the tooth fairy and how parents usually lie to their children about the existence of these creatures because it's "fun." Then they explained that they didn't want to lie to us and later have us go through the possibly painful experience of "growing out" of those lies. Strangely enough, we also never feared the typical "monster" under our beds or in our closets.

    As I grew older, the idea of parents lying to their young, innocent, trusting children became even more repugnant to me. I could understand non-Christian parents thinking they were doing something fun for their child, but Christian parents, desiring to raise their children to be Godly, should realize what a horrible thing they are doing: lying, which later might destroy their child's trust, and possibly also causing the child to view Jesus somewhere on the same level as these fantasies! After all, if Santa and the Easter bunny know when you've been bad or good and the tooth fairy knows when you've lost a tooth, they must have almost the same powers as Jesus, because Jesus knows all that too. And then, I wonder, which figure will the child admire the most? The ones that bring him toys, candy and other goodies, the one who leaves him money for a natural consequence of growth or the One that died for his sins?

    I don't feel that I missed out on anything by growing up without believing in these fantasies. I've always been extremely grateful that my parents never lied to me about anything (so far as I know) and that I can always trust them to be honest, because they value my trust in the them over my "fun."

    I know it is enjoyable to celebrate these holidays, especially because they are mostly accepted in our culture as "Christian" holidays. But truly, we don't need holidays to celebrate and rejoice in our relationship with our Lord and God. At the last supper, Jesus said, "Do this in remembrance of me." Taking communion, baptisms, prayer meetings and singing worship songs can be done any day of the week, and are all beautiful reminders and celebrations of Jesus and what He has done for us. And that's all without Pagan traditions.


    Sunday, April 4, 2010

    Death in vain forbid Him rise! Allelujah!

    On the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, "Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise." - Luke 24:1-7

    Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you."Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe." Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." - John 20:26-29

    About 2,000 years ago, Jesus died for every individual on earth; those who had lived, those who lived then and those who would live. He paid for every sin ever committed or ever to be committed so that we could be blameless in the sight of a Holy and Just God. How can we even fathom such a Love, that would die for the sins of those who screamed wildly "Crucify Him!"? He died for the soldiers who beat Him, mocked Him and nailed His healing hands to that tree. And he died for the crowd standing under His cross screaming and yelling at Him. I know He saw my face, twisted in sin, insulting Him. And yet, He died for me.

    "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him." -Romans 5:6-9

    And on the third day, He rose from the grave, victorious over death and sin. Now He sits at the right hand of God, waiting for the day when He will come back for His redeemed Bride. My Lord lives; He is risen, indeed! Glory to God, praise His name!


    Friday, April 2, 2010

    An Adventure With Sprouting Wheat

    I recently read The Maker's Diet and got very excited about all the health benefits Dr. Rubin promised from his diet. We already try to eat very healthily, and there weren't many changes we needed to make to follow phase three of the Maker's Diet (a fuller post on the Maker's Diet is hopefully in the future... I will probably read the book again first... I highly recommend it!) except for sprouted wheat. We had already been buying whole wheat berries in 50 lb bags and grinding it ourselves for fresh, homemade bread, but according to Dr. Rubin, this was not as good as it seemed.

    "Seeds become real nutritional power-houses when they are soaked and sprouted. The germination process (sprouting) produces vitamin C and increases carotenoids and vitamin B content, especially B2, B5, and B6. Even more importantly, sprouting neutralizes phytic acid, a substance present in the bran of all seeds that inhibits the absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc. Sprouting also neutralizes enzyme inhibitors present in all seeds. This is important because these inhibitors can neutralize our own enzymes in the digestive tract." - The Maker's Diet by Jordan S. Rubin.

    After reading that, I no longer felt that whole wheat was healthy at all. Maybe it wasn't processed and bleached with added preservatives and all the other things done to white flour, but enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid neutralizing the absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc sounded pretty bad to me. My parents readily agreed. I saw no reason not to try sprouting our wheat, so that's exactly what I did. After being successful the first time, and a few subsequent trials, I now have what I consider a pretty good method.

    Mom found 3 large jars that she'd saved after the "bean salad" they contained had been consumed. Be sure to start with clean jars. If you wish, you can rinse the wheat berries before you begin soaking. I just fill each jar around halfway with whole wheat berries...

    ...and nearly to the brim with filtered water. (The water is cloudy because I didn't pre-rinse the berries. But all of that will be drained later.) Screw on the tops and let them sit for about 8 hours.

    See how much space the berries are taking up after just adding the water? After soaking 8 hours they will have swollen even more, and when they're sprouting you want them to have a little extra room. I have found that filling the jars a little less than halfway is best.

    After 8 hours, remove the lid and cover the opening with a cheesecloth. I secure it with a rubber band.

    Then drain the liquid from the jar, rinse the berries two or three times, and invert the cheesecloth-covered jar into something a suitable size to allow the excess water to drain. I've heard there are special sprouting lids you can purchase. I just found these three dishes that are narrow enough to support the jar at the "shoulders" and tall enough hold the lip of the jar off of the bottom of the container.

    Leave like this, rinsing once or twice a day until sprouts appear about 1/8 of an inch long. This usually doesn't take very long for me, about 12-18 hours. Once sprouts appear, the berries are ready to be eaten fresh on salads (or by the handful!) or dried to be used as flour.

    I am fortunate that my family had already acquired a dehydrator. It has 8 slatted trays (good for drying larger food like tomatoes, bananas or hot peppers), and I use what they call "fruit roll sheets" that are just thin plastic sheets laid on the tray to keep my wheat berries from falling through while they dry. I dry them at 95 degrees fahrenheit for 8 hours.

    You can do this in your oven layering the wheat berries on cookie sheets. The temperature should be as close to 95 as possible. If your oven doesn't do a low setting, I suggest turning the oven light on, heating the oven to the lowest temperature possible and then turning the oven off, leaving the light on. Depending on the temperature of your house, you may need to warm up the oven every so often.

    Once the berries are dried, they are ready to be ground. Again, I was fortunate that my family already owns a stone grinder. I can fill the hopper, turn the grinder on and have about 12 cups of flour in 45 minutes. If you don't have a stone grinder, you can try a coffee grinder, a blender (I've heard Vita-mix blenders specifically do flour) or a food processor. I haven't tried them myself, though, so if you try it let me know how it goes!

    In baking, I have found that the sprouted wheat has a tendency to cook more thoroughly on the outside while still leaving a more "wet" dough on the inside, which I'm attempting to remedy by baking at a lower temperature for longer. So far I have had more success with smaller items like muffins and biscuits than things like bread and pizza dough. I have enjoyed learning how to make sprouted flour, and look forward to fine-tuning its use in my baking.