Friday, November 21, 2014

The Kitchn Cookbook -- book review

My latest cookbook to take a look through, and actually read thoroughly is The Kitchen Cookbook. This cookbook is by Sara KateGillingham and Faith Durand. These ladies run a popular website with the same name, The Kitchn. The Kitchn website is a sister site to the popular all things home site Apartment Therapy. You may be familiar with both of these sites from their ever popular pins on Pinterest.

The Kitchn Cookbook isn’t just a cookbook though. Actually only a little less than half of the book is comprised of recipes. The rest of the book is comprised of all things kitchen relates; how to organize, helpful food prep tips, guide on basic cooking terms and how to do them, tours of several real kitchens, and much more. So, if you are looking for a good, lot of recipes cookbook this may not be quite what you are looking for. Now, if you love cooking, the kitchen is a central part of your home, or you love all things kitchen related, then this book you would probably enjoy. This would also may a good gift book for someone just starting out on their own in their own place, just getting married, graduating college, or buying their first home.

For me personally, this isn’t a cookbook that I think I would turn to often to find a recipe or get some food inspiration. I might also mention that many of the recipes in the book can also be found on Pinterest. With that said though, The Kitchn is an interesting read with a lot of good information in it. Also a plus is that all the kitchen tours featured in the book are of real kitchens that people really use, not just staged kitchens that aren’t even used. Thus said, the pictures in the book look real, not staged. This is a nice touch that makes this book a little different from a lot of other cookbooks. One of the things that I also liked about the book was these little sections called Dana’s Meditation. Dana’s Meditations are little beautifully written bits about the kitchen or cooking. One last note, the recipes are simple and truly easy to follow. In fact all of the book is simply written and quiet readable.   


I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Deborah & Jael

Since both Deborah and Jael are mighty warrior women of the Bible and their stories are part of the same larger story, might as well study them together. Their story begins something like this. The Israelites were ruled by a series of Judges for many years. The Israelites also kept repeating the same cycle of doing well with God and then “the Israelites once again did evil in the eyes of the Lord” (Judges 4:1, and many other places in Judges.) It was a vicious sin cycle that they were caught in. Deborah was ruling as judge of the land at one of those times when the people had turned away from God. Deborah herself was a righteous, Godly woman. The Israelites, because of their wickedness, had been oppressed by a king of Canaan for something like twenty years. They were especially afraid of the commander of the king’s army, Sisera.
So the Lord sold them into the hands of Jabin, a king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth Haggoyim. Because he had nine hundred iron chariots and had cruelly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years, they cried to the Lord for help. Judges 4:2, 3
The Israelites had good reason to be afraid of Sisera, he was a bad dude.

Deborah knew that it was time to take on Sisera. To do this, she enlisted a man by the name of Barak. She gave him the message that God had given to her for what to do.
“The LORD, the God of Israel, commands you: ‘Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead the way to Mount Tabor. I will lure Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.’”  Judges 4:6, 7
Barak said that he would go, but only if Deborah would go with him. Now when I read this it seems a bit strange. Why would Barak need Deborah, a woman, to go with him into battle? It wasn’t common practice at that time for woman to fight in battles alongside the men. I read a few commentaries on this and they seemed to reference the fact that since at the time Deborah was the Judge and leader of the land, Barak would want her with him. Another commentary put it sort of in this way; Barak didn’t want to go where Deborah was not willing to go herself. It would be like when a friend dares you to do something, and you say, “Ok, I’ll do it if you do it with me.” Deborah agreed to go with Barak into battle. She warned him that it would cost him the honor of victory, instead that would go to a woman (Judges 4:9.)

During the battle, Sisera managed to escape by foot. He ran right into the tent of Jael. She welcomed him in.
Sisera, however, fled on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, because there were friendly relations between Jabin king of Hazor and the clan of Heber the Kenite. Jael went out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Come, my lord, come right in. Don’t be afraid.” So he entered her tent, and she put a covering over him. Judges 4:17, 18
Sisera was tired and thirsty from having been on the run. Jael took him in, gave him a place to lay down to rest, and a drink of milk. This would be when Jael steps into the role of a mighty warrior woman.
But Jael, Heber’s wife, picked up a tent peg and a hammer and went quietly to him while he lay fast asleep, exhausted. She drove the peg through his temple into the ground, and he died. Judges 4:21
Jael was a woman not to be messed with. I bet her husband didn’t want to get on her bad side after this incident. I can only imagine the amount of force it would take to put a peg through someone’s head. Because of what Jael did, the words of Deborah came to pass in that Barak wasn’t the one to get the credit for conquering Sisera.
Barak came in pursuit of Sisera, and Jael went out to meet him. “Come,” she said, “I will show you the man you’re looking for.” So he went with her, and there lay Sisera with the tent peg through his temple – dead. Judges 4:22


The death of Sisera was also a key in the Israelites becoming stronger over the Canaanites. Without Deborah and Jael this may not have happened. They were both honored in Judges 5 in the Song of Deborah. Both of these women were honored in their land for their heroic deeds and Godly character. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Rahab

When Joshua, along with the Israelites was going to take the city of Jericho they had some help from an unlikely source. Her name was Rahab, and she was a prostitute. Not exactly the first type of person who comes to mind when you think of those God would use to accomplish His mission. When you look at the story, Rahab was the right person to play a part in the defeat of Jericho.

Two men were sent out from the Israelites to spy out the land.
So they went and entered the house of a prostitute names Rahab and stayed there.  Joshua 2:1b
When you think about it, it makes sense that the men would go to a prostitute’s house as a safe place to hide out. Since Rahab was a prostitute it wouldn’t be an odd thing if men, whom she didn’t know, were going into her house. The king of Jericho quickly found out that spies were in his land, and he knew they had gone to Rahab’s house. Rather than give these spies up, Rahab chose to protect them. She hid them on the rooftop until the coast was clear for their escape. Rahab risked her own safety to protect these men because she knew that the land was to be theirs.
Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof and said to them, “I know that the LORD has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed.  Joshua 2:8-10
All the people of Jericho knew the reputation the Israelites had. The Israelites were conquering lands right and left, and they could be next. Rahab could have been faithful to her country, but she recognized the true God that was with the Israelites.
When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the LORD you God is God in heaven above and on earth below.  Joshua 2:11
Rahab knew that the Israelites would be successful in conquering Jericho. She made the choice to turn from her ways and acknowledge their God, the true God.

Rahab took a risk in protecting the Israelite spies in order to protect not only herself, but also her family for the time when the Israelites would defeat the city. The spies agreed to this protection.
“Our lives for your lives!” the men assured her. “If you don’t tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the LORD gives us the land.” Joshua 2:14
They devised a plan to signify where she and her family would be so they could protect her. A scarlet cord was to be tied in the window that the men used to escape from. All of Rahab’s family was to be gathered in her home for protection. The acts of Rahab literally saved her whole family.

The day came when Joshua led the Israelites to Jericho to take over the city. It must have taken faith for Rahab to believe that she and her family would be saved because of an oath she had made with the spies.
By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.  Hebrews 11:31
Because Rahab’s home was in the city wall, they would have seen the army marching around the city day after day. The faith that Rahab had must have been tested. When the walls of the city came down, her faith paid off for her and her family.
Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, “Go into the prostitute’s house and bring her out and all who belong to her, in accordance with your oath to her.” So the young men who had done the spying went in and brought out Rahab, her father and mother and brothers and all who belonged to ber. They brought out her entire family and put them in a place outside the camp of Israel. Joshua 6:22, 23
Rahab and her family were saved, but at the same time they lost everything they had and their homes. Everyone else in the city was killed. They would have been left with nothing, but their lives.
But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho – and she lives among the Israelites to this day.  Joshua 6:25

Rahab not only ended up living among the Israelites and serving their God, she married into the Israelites as well. Rahab married Salmon and became the mother of Boaz.
Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose    mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David.  Matthew 1:5, 6a
This is significant because it means Rahab is in the genealogy of Jesus. Rahab went from being a prostitute to being a significant person in Christian history. Rahab was remembered among the Jews for what she did. James says of her, “In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?” (James 2:25.) Now that is a transformation and redemption story.


For the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.  Joshua 2:11b

Saturday, October 11, 2014

One Pot of Yumminess - book review

I seem to have a slowly growing collection of cookbooks. One Pot, the newest book from The Kitchens of Martha Stewart Living, is one that I am happy to add to that collection. This is a cookbook that I don’t want to simply review and then pass on cause I will never use it, this one will (actually already has been) be used.

One Pot is composed of over 120 different recipes that are divided into categories by what they are cooked in. You have crock-pots, dutch ovens, skillets, baking pans, and more. Here in lies one drawback of the book, they don’t include any suggestions of how to switch up the cooking method for any of the recipes. Let’s say you want to take a crock pot meal and cook it in the oven instead because you don’t have a crock pot, there are no tips or instructions for how to do this. For people who have some experience cooking this may not be a problem, but for a beginner it could be a frustration. Now, there are lots of other helpful tips throughout the cookbook. Some are things like cooking tips, ways to simplify the process, and a guide on the type of cooking vessel at the beginning of each section.  

Most of the recipes in One Pot are pretty simple and easy to follow. Also, there is a picture of every recipe in the book. I love this! We eat with our eyes first you know. I like to be able to see what the end product is suppose to look like and I am more likely to try a recipe that I can see a picture of. The pictures are all beautifully done. I also have to mention that there is a wide variety of recipes that are included. Included are traditional American recipes and lots of International cuisine. Another note about the recipes is that they are designed to use just one pot, thus the name. Some may require a mixing bowl too, but who doesn’t love foods that require less dishes and less clean-up. I am a big fan of yummy recipes that don’t require using several dishes.

So far I have tried two of the recipes in the cookbook, the Skillet Chocolate-Chip Cookie
 (mine) 
 (their's)
 and the Chicken and Dumplings.
Both were fantastic! In fact, I may need to make the Chocolate-Chip Cookie again very soon. I plan to try out another recipe today, the Mexican-Style Lasagna.
I’m sure I will keep using One Pot for a long time to come.


I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

Cookbook Giveaway!

Blogging for Books (which is who I receive free books to review from) and Read it Forward have partnered together to give away 5 copies of Sweet from the editors of Food Network Magazine. 
Sweet
If you have every looked through a Food Network Magazine, you will know that it is full of delicious recipes. I'm sure this cookbook is no different. Not to mention it is fully devoted to sweet treats. Who doesn't love a little bit (or a lot) of sweetness in their life every now and then. To enter, follow the link here. Simple as that.  

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Economics, Politics, and Religion, Oh My! Godonomics - book review


In Godonomics, Chad Hovind digs into what many would consider subjects that shouldn’t be combined: economics, politics, and religion. From a biblical perspective all of those things should go together. Hovind isn’t afraid to broach these topics. In this book he takes a look at several different economists and philosophers that have impact the economics of our country. Each section of the book is devoted to a look at a different person of economic influence. Hovind then reflects on the economic philosophy of each person, how they have had an impact on America’s economics, and what a biblical response to them would be. It isn’t until the last section of the Godonomics that he focuses solely on what God’s Word says about how to handle your own finances and what you can do to affect the American economy.

Godonomics is more of a look at economic philosophy than it is a guide to managing your finances according to the Bible. So, if you are looking for more of a Dave Ramsey esque book, this isn’t it. In fact, the only part of the book that is really a personal financial guide is the last section and the short discussion guide that has been included in the back. Throughout the books there are Biblical truths of finance that are brought up, mainly in opposition the philosophy of whoever is being discussed. Then there might be some more discussion of that Biblical truth for a bit, but that isn’t what the book is mainly comprised of. I thought that there would be more Scriptural references and more discussion of the biblical principles of finance. Godonomics includes those things, but not as much as it could have.  

If you are interested in economic, or want to take a look at America’s economics through a biblical perspective, then this would be a good read for that. Chad Hovind may be a pastor, but clearly he has done his research on this topic. That fact that this is something that is very important to him shows in the writing. Don’t let the fact that it is about economics and philosophy scare you away from reading it. I am generally not a reader of either of those subjects and I was able to follow along with the book just fine.


I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Front Door Paint Job

Summer has flown by and with it went all the time and plans that I had for summer projects. Finally, I managed to at least get the front door repainted. The door was in good shape, but I wasn't fond of the color. Just wanted something more fun and  wanted it to match the blue accent color I picked for the house. So, I went from this......  

to this......

 Now the door matches the flower pot tower. The paint color is from Walmart and it is called Deep Heliotrope. It looks like it is a bright royal blue when the sunlight is on it, but when it is in the shade it is more of a darker true blue. Sometimes it even looks a little purple. Much more fun than the dark green door. Along with the paint job for the door, I freshened up the house number and the porch light with a coat of spray-paint.
Really simple and quick project that just makes everything look a little more put together. Also, If you don't have money to change out what you have for what you want, this is a great way to make it work. Here are the simple steps that I took:

  1. Remove whatever you can and lay it out on newspaper, cardboard, or something that you can spray paint on. I was able to take the house numbers off and the top part of the light fixture. 
  2. Clean off the dirt and cobwebs. 
  3. Tape off anything that you don't want painted. In my case, I taped off around the light fixture and then taped sheets of newspaper around it so that I wouldn't spray paint  the windows or siding. 
  4. Give everything a coat or  two of spray paint. I used Krylon Fussion in a dark grey metal hammered finish. 
  5. Let it dry completely and then put everything back together. 
This small project was pretty quick and I was able to do it while letting coats of paint dry on the door. Speaking of the door, here is how that was done. 
  1. Clean the door. 
  2. Fill any dents or cracks. I used an outdoor caulking to seal around the frame of the window because there were some cracks in it. 
  3. Tape off everything that you don't want painted. The proper way to paint a door would be to remove it and all the hardware. I am too lazy for all that. So, I just taped off what I didn't want painted. 
  4. You may want to lightly sand the door so that the paint adheres to it really well. (I didn't do this, we will see if that was a smart step to skip or not.)
  5. Apply a layer of outdoor paint primer and let it dry completely.
  6. Apply a coat or two of an outdoor paint. I used a flat finish paint cause that I what I had on hand, but a semi gloss finish is really nice and easier to clean. 
    When painting a door it is important to paint it correctly to avoid streaks or drips. Here is a graphic that I saw on Pinterest that was super helpful.
There you have it, a new fun blue door. So, simple that I even made dinner in between coats of paint. And there I am in the reflection of the storm door.  

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Zelophehad's Daughters

Zelophehad was a man who had no sons, only daughters; five daughters to be exact, Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah and Tirzah. Zelophehad died and left no sons to inherit his land. For the Israelites receiving an inheritance was very important. The land and possessions of a person would be passed down from generation to generation in order for it to stay within the family and to be a part of the Israelites’ territory. In the way that things were done then, since Zelophehad had no sons to inherit his land that would mean that his daughters would be left with nothing. Zelophehad’s daughters set out to change this, but they did it all in the right way. They didn’t demand that they receive their father’s land. They showed respect for the law of the day, those in charge of upholding that law, and those that had the ability to change that law.
They approached the entrance to the Tent of Meeting and stood before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the leaders and the whole assembly, and said, “Our father dies in the desert. …Why should our father’s name disappear from his clan because he had no son? Give us property among our father’s relatives.”   Numbers 27:1b, 2; 27:4
Zelophehad’s daughters sought to keep his name alive among the people. They knew that if they didn’t have property of their own then his lineage would cease.

Moses, being a righteous man of God, sought the LORD on what to do about their request. He heard from the LORD and responded to them with that direction.
And the LORD said to him, “What Zelophehad’s daughters are saying is right. You must certainly give them property as an inheritance among their father’s relatives and turn their father’s inheritance over to them….This is to be a legal requirement for the Israelites, as the LORD commanded Moses.  Numbers 27:6, 7, 11b

The story of Zelophehad’s daughters doesn’t end there. In the very last chapter of Numbers they are brought up again. This time some men bring to question the possibility of what would happen if the daughters marry outside of their tribe. If they did this then it would mean that their inheritance would be added to whatever tribe they would marry into. For the Israelites it was incredibly important that each tribe hold on to their tribal inheritance.

Moses again sought the LORD on what to do. Again he was given instruction to pass on to Zelophehad’s daughters.
“This is what the LORD commands for Zelophehad’s daughters: They may marry anyone they please as long as they marry within the tribal clan of their father.”  Numbers 36:6  
That is just what Zelophehad’s daughters did; they married within their father’s clan. They were obedient to what the LORD had told them to do.


Zelophehad’s daughters were bold to request a change in the way that an inheritance would be handled. And yet, they were humble in the way that they did it. They followed the proper steps to make their request, and then they followed the guidelines that were set out for them when the request was granted. They were faithful to follow the command of the LORD they He gave directly for them. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Miriam

Miriam was the sister of Moses. (Side note: she may or may not have been the sister that watched over Moses when he was put into the Nile as a baby. The Bible doesn’t call that sister by name. Later when we see the genealogy of Amram, Moses, Aaron, and Miriam are the only children listed (Num. 26:59, 1 Chron. 4:17.) From this, it seems as though Miriam was that sister, but we don’t know for sure.) Moses, Aaron, and Miriam worked side by side to deliver and then lead the Israelites. In Micah 6:4 the three of them are all mentioned as the ones sent to lead God’s people.

Miriam was not just Moses’ sister though, she was a prophetess, and a worshiper of God as well. When we first see Miriam mentioned by name it is after the Israelites have crossed the Red Sea. They had just seen the Egyptian army wiped out and are rejoicing in the fact that God has delivered them. In celebration, they sing a song of praise to the Lord. Miriam did her part in leading the women in song and dance.
Then Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women followed her, with tambourines and dancing. Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. The horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea.”   Exodus 15:20, 21

This is the last we hear of Miriam until the book of Numbers. Miriam goes from being a worshiper of God, to opposing her brother Moses. It seems as though Miriam and Aaron were not too fond of Moses’ Cushite wife. Essentially they were jealous of Moses and began to talk about him in an unfavorable way. They were jealous because he was the main leader of the people. God also spoke directly (face to face) with him.
Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. “Has the LORD spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” And the LORD heard this.  Numbers 12:1, 2
Still today we see this same behavior. We talk against leaders, pastors, politicians, bosses, and others that God has placed in a position of authority. This does not please God. He placed those people in that position, and we are to treat them with respect. We may not completely agree with them on all matters, but we can disagree with respect. Miriam was put in a place of humility because of her actions, and yet we do the same thing without any fear of being brought to humility.  

God wasn’t happy with what Miriam and Aaron were doing and he called them out on it. God spoke directly to them to correct them. When He was done, he left, leaving Miriam to bear the consequences of her actions.
When the cloud lifted from above the Tent, there stood Miriam – leprous, like snow.  Exodus 12:10a
Miriam was struck with leprosy. Leprosy was a disgraceful disease. If you had it, you would be quarantined from the rest of the camp because it was an infectious disease. Here Miriam was a leader and prophetess among the people and suddenly she would have to be shunned by them. Moses cried out to God on her behalf. God heard his cries, but first Miriam would have to go through a process of in order to be healed.
The Lord replied to Moses, “If her father had spit in her face, would she not have been in disgrace for seven days? Confine her outside the camp for seven days; after that she can be brought back.” So Miriam was confined outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on till she was brought back.  Numbers 12:14, 15  

God was faithful to heal Miriam, but it was a process. A process that would have taught her humility. She probably didn’t go around talking bad about people after that. Miriam was also an example to the people of what do if someone was infected with leprosy. She was remembered for this in Deuteronomy 24:9. This may not have been the legacy that Miriam had wanted to leave behind, but it is one that we can learn a thing or two about humility from.  

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Modern Pioneering -- book review


Whether you are an avid DIYer, want to try your hand at a little gardening, want to cook food from whole ingredients, or consider yourself to be a modern pioneer, this book is a fun and helpful read. Now, Modern Pioneering by GeorgiaPellegrini isn’t a normal book. Modern Pioneering is more like a guide and cook book all in one. It is composed of various sections that cover the different areas. All the while, with lovely photographs throughout the whole book.

The first section is on The Garden. I found this part of the book to be full of lots of helpful tips and information. Thank goodness for that information on mulching, it has saved me a top of work in the garden already this summer. There was plenty of information that I will probably refer back to for years to come.

Next is the section on The Home. This section is mostly comprised of recipes. All of the recipes have clear instructions that are easy to follow. Now there are several recipes I plan to try. There are also several recipes that I’m pretty sure I would never try. Not they are bad recipes, just not something that I would eat. All the recipes use fresh ingredients that you would gather from your garden, get from a farmers market, or from your local store. There aren’t any processed foods in these recipes.

The following section is The Wild. This contains information on vegetation that you can eat from the wild. There are also recipes for using those foods. This section also contains useful information on such things like how to use a compass, survive in the wild, and such.

Lastly is The Rest. There are some recipes in here. There are some DIY projects. There is some random stuff. Honestly, most of the stuff in this section could have been left out and the book wouldn’t be lacking. The home DIY crafty stuff seemed a bit out of place with the rest of the book.


Overall, it was a fun read that gave me some good information and good ideas of stuff to try. I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Zipporah

Zipporah is the wife of Moses. Now Moses is a very well known Bible character, Zipporah on the other hand is hardly mentioned. The small bit that we do know of her is an odd part of the story as well.

After Moses had fled Egypt because he had killed an Egyptian and knew that his life would be in danger, he fled to Midian. When in Midian, Moses rescued the daughters of Jethro (also known as Reuel) from some bullies. The girls were simply trying to get water for their flocks when some other shepherds drove them away. Moses could have minded his own business, but he stepped in and stood up for the girls. When the girls returned to their father, he inquired as to why they were finished so early. The girls told him of their rescuer. Jethro insisted that they invite Moses to come to their home. This led to Zipporah becoming the wife of Moses.
Moses agreed to stay with the man, who gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses in marriage.  Exodus 2:21
After Moses, Zipporah, and their two sons had lived in the land of Midian for a long time, God instructed Moses to return to Egypt to free the Israelites.
So Moses took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey and started back to Egypt. And he took the staff of God in his hand.  Exodus 4:20
It was during this journey to Egypt that the story of Zipporah has this weird, confusing, and mysterious part.

Remember that Zipporah was not an Israelite. She did not follow the same religious practices that Moses followed. For all we know she may not have even served God like he did, we don’t know that for sure though. Anyhow, circumcision was an important practice for the Israelites. If you were a male, you were going to be circumcised when you were a baby. From this part of the story we see that Moses and Zipporah had not followed this tradition with one of their sons. Because Moses had not followed this practice it brought some serious consequences to his life.  
At a lodging place along the way, the Lord met Moses and was about to kill him. But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it. “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me,” she said. So the Lord let him alone. (At that time she said. “bridegroom of blood,” referring to circumcision.)  Exodus 4:24-26
And this is where a lot of us read this story, go “huh?” and keep on reading. Yep, this is the strange part.

Zipporah knew that Moses’ life was in danger and she knew why. Surely her husband would have told her of the importance of circumcision. Immediately she acted. She knew what had to be done, and she did it. After she had cut off the foreskin and touched it to Moses’ feet, she made the declaration that he was a bridegroom of blood to her. This is a statement of her surrender to follow the Jewish custom. Some translations say that she “flung the foreskin” at his feet. This just goes to show the desperate state that she was in. It took a bold move on Zipporah’s part to save Moses from death.


At some point, Moses sent Zipporah and their two sons back to her father. We don’t know exactly why he did this. Later Jethro brings them back to Moses, and they are reunited. This is about the last that we hear of Zipporah. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Moses' Mother, Sister, & Pharaoh's Daughter

Without the help of Moses’ Mother, Sister, and Pharaoh’s Daughter, Moses would have never survived. All three of these women played an important role in saving the life of a baby that would grow up to be a very important man to his people, and one that changed the course of their history. 

Moses was Hebrew, a Levite to be exact. Because of this fact, when he was born his life was in danger. At that time, the Israelites were slaves to the Egyptians. Pharaoh, the head of the Egyptians, didn’t like that the Israelites were outnumbering the Egyptians. His solution to this problem was to have all the male babies killed. Moses’ mother knew that her baby’s life was in danger because of what Pharaoh was doing. She hid her child as long as she could. Then she took a courageous step in the hopes that it would save his life.
But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile.   Exodus 2:3
I can’t imagine the anguish that this woman would have gone through to do this. She didn’t know if her son would be rescued. She didn’t know if he would be found by an Egyptian and killed anyhow. She was a desperate woman who was willing to let go of her son in order to try to save him.

Moses’ sister stood watch over her brother while he was floating in the Nile. (Side note: later in Exodus Moses has a sister we learn is named Miriam. The Bible doesn’t state if this is the same sister or not.) When Moses is rescued it is his sister that speaks up to ensure that for a little while longer he is in his mother’s care. Without her being there, Moses’ mother may have never known what happened to him, and probably wouldn’t have seen him again.

It is Pharaoh’s daughter who is the final rescuer.
Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the river bank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her slave girl to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.  Exodus 2:5,6
If she wouldn’t have been in the right place at the right time, and not had compassion, Moses would not have ended up in the place that he needed to be. Being taken in by Pharaoh’s daughter put him in the right position to free his people later in life.

Moses’ mother was given another short time to be with her son. She was allowed to nurse him and take care of him as work for Pharaoh’s daughter. Of course she couldn’t let her know that she was his mother. Because of this arrangement it meant that she would again have to let go of her son and give him up in order to save him.
When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, “I drew him out of the water.”  Exodus 2:10  

Moses’ mother loved him so much that she was willing to give him up not once, but twice in order to save his life. Now that is truly a mother’s love. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Heart Wide Open -- book review

I first heard of this book when Shellie was doing a give-away for the release of the book. When I was checking out the give-away, I discovered the book trailer for Heart Wide Open. It is posted below for you to watch as well.
video

After watching the book trailer, I wanted to read the book. The book did not disappoint. It isn’t very often that I read a book in the Christian Living genre that I don’t want to put down or take a break from. Heart Wide Open is one of those books that did just that though. Shellie Rushing Tomlinson does a great job of winding antidotes from her own life, other stories, humor, quotes, and most importantly Scripture together to make a great read. This book does a good job at encouraging you in your faith and walk with God no matter what stage of your Christian life you are in. The things in this book could be applicable to a new believer just as much as a seasoned veteran of the faith.

Shellie is a southern girl from Louisiana. The southern in her comes through in her writing. In saying that I mean it feels like you could sit out on the porch with her, drink some sweet tea, and chat for hours even though you have never met her. This southern warmth comes through in her writing in a way that makes the book not seem too preachy or harsh. Instead it is encouraging and full of grace and love. One minute you may find yourself and laughing out loud at one of her stories and the next page over be brought to tears by the truth of God’s Word. All the while the purpose of the book, to encourage you to open your heart up to a life fully lived with God as a part of all of it, shines through.   

Heart Wide Open was a fantastic book to read on my own. It would make an excellent read for a Bible Study or small group setting as well. There is actually a short Bible study or discussion guide in the back of the book. I love books that come with a discussion guide included. Shellie has also put together a DVD that you can purchase to go along with the book if you are using it for a Bible study or small group.


Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Flower Towers


Spring (and now almost summer) has finally sprung here! That makes me think flowers. Last year I planted a few flowers in some hanging baskets, then the summer heat came and the flowers didn't make it. I decided to try again with some flowers this year. Above are the two different flower towers that I created. One for each side of the house by the doors.

After browsing Pinterest for a while I found a couple of different flower pot ideas that I liked. First, I assembled everything that I would need for both of the flower towers: pots, three plastic in various sizes and 6 6" terra cotta; potting soil; garden stakes; spray paint; and flowers.
Then, I laid all the pots out on newspaper and spray painted them all the same color. Fyi, I used Krylon ColorMaster in Oxford Blue. Had to do two coats on the pots. The terra cotta pots really soaked up the paint and were more difficult to paint. Using a primer on them first would have been a good idea. 
I start assembling the towers with the easiest one first. I filled the largest plastic pot a third of the way with old chunks of brick from our slowly deteriorating trash burner. Then I filled it another third of the way with the plastic things plants come in. There is probably some fancy name for those things, but I don't know what it is.
 Then, filled the  rest with the potting soil. Placed the next pot in the middle of this one. Again filled it half way with the plastic things that plants come in, topped with potting soil. And repeated the process for the third and smallest pot. Next, plant the flowers. (Side note: the plastic planters that I used were really affordable. The biggest one I found on the side of the road with some left over yard sale stuff. I probably looked kinda strange carrying a big flower pot down the road while walking the dog, but it was FREE! The two smaller pots I got at a second hand store for 25 cents each. Didn't matter what color they were since I was going to paint them all anyhow.) Really easy and quick. Here is the inspiration picture from Pinterest and my finished flower tower.
Then it was on the one that tried my patience. I should have read how other people made a Topsy Turvy flower planter instead of just looking at the picture and figuring I knew what I was doing. First of all, now that I have gone back to read some other posts about this type of planter they all pretty much say to use rebar for the the support pole in the middle. I think this is where I made a mistake. I used two garden poles. Which are strong, but not quite rebar strong. So, I assembled, and half assembled, this thing about 5 times before I finally got it to stay standing upright. I seriously thought a few times that it was all going to come crashing down. Tip #1: Always use rebar if you are going to try making one of these :). Anyhow, I started by turning one pot upside down to be the base, then stacked the other 5 pots on top of that one each at a slight angle. Again I put one plastic flower thing in the bottom of each pot. 
 This actually helped to hold the pot at the desired angle. After it was all put together I planted the flowers in it. When it was all together, I said a little prayer over it that went something like this, "God please keep this thing standing upright and not come crashing down. I will be so mad if that happens. Amen." So far so good, it is still standing and we have had a few thunderstorms and wind since then. Here is my inspiration picture and the finished project.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Potiphar's Wife

Potiphar’s wife is one of those not so good women in the Bible. Technically we don’t know anything of her before we meet her as part of Joseph’s story. Was she always a man chasing woman? Was this her first offense? We simple don’t know.  There are some things that we can learn from her, like what not to do.

Joseph was a servant in Potiphar’s house who was in charge of all that he had. Joseph earned this position because the favor of God was upon him. He was a good, upright, and righteous man. In Genesis it also says that he was “well-built and handsome” (Gen. 39:6b.) After a while Potiphar’s wife took notice of Joseph, probably had something to do with that “well-built and handsome” factor. She wanted him for herself, so she propositioned him. Being the righteous, God honoring man that he was, Joseph refused her. This didn’t deter her. She continued to pursue him.
And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.  Genesis 39:10  
Joseph wanted nothing to do with Potiphar’s wife because she was just that, someone’s wife. That didn’t stop her. Oh no, she just turned up her wicked ways.
One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.  Genesis 39:11, 12
When Potiphar’s wife didn’t get what she wanted she twisted and turned the story in vengeance. Suddenly she used Joseph’s cloak to devise a story that it was him who tried to take advantage of her. She sullied his name by telling the other household servants and her husband this lie. Just because she was rejected she hurt an innocent man.

I’m sure we have all been in a place at one time or another when we haven’t gotten what we wanted. Do we take that out on others? Not thinking of the repercussions that our actions have on others. Potiphar’s wife only thought of herself and no one else. She obviously didn’t think of her husband and her commitment to him. She didn’t think of the disgrace that she was putting on an innocent man. She only wanted what she wanted! Her selfish desires cause Joseph to be put into prison. Thankfully, God’s hand continued to be on Joseph, and he prospered even while in prison. We don’t know what happened to Potiphar’s wife, but I can only imagine that if she continued in her selfish ways, she lived an unfulfilled and regretful life.  

Monday, May 12, 2014

Tamar

The story of Tamar is what soap operas are made of. This is one of those stories in the Bible, where you think, “That is in the Bible!” Tamar’s story doesn’t start off crazy. When we first meet her she is just the woman who became the wife of Judah’s oldest son, Er. Er wasn’t a good guy and God put him to death because of this. Now Tamar is a widow. Judah had another son, Onan. It was customary for the next brother to marry what would be his sister-in-law in order to produce an heir for his older brother. Onan didn’t want to produce a child for his brother cause he knew that it would not be considered his child. So, when Onan slept with Tamar he “spilled his semen on the ground to keep from producing offspring for his brother” (Gen. 38:9.) God wasn’t pleased by Onan’s actions and he was killed as well. Judah had one more son, Shelah, but he was too young still to take Tamar as his wife. Judah was also reluctant to give his third son to Tamar as a spouse, considering what happened to his other two sons.
Judah then said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Live as a widow in your father’s house until my son Shelah grows up.” For he thought, “He may die too, just like his brothers.” So Tamar went to live in her father’s house.   Genesis 38:11 
After a long time Tamar was still living as widow in her father’s house. She knew that Judah had not fulfilled his work and given his third son, Shelah, as a spouse for Tamar. Tamar then took matters into her own hands and devised a plan to get back at Judah.

When Tamar learned that Judah would be passing through the area around when she was living, she disguised herself so that Judah would not know who she was and set out to trick him. Her plan worked! Judah thought that she was a prostitute and propositioned her.
When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face. Not realizing that she was his daughter-in-law, he went over to her by the roadside and said, “Come now, let me sleep with you.” “And what will you give me to sleep with you?” she asked. “I’ll send you a young goat from my flock,” he said. “Will you give me something as a pledge until you send it?” she asked. He said, “What pledge should I give you?” “Your seal and its cord, and the staff in your hand,” she answered. So he gave them to her and slept with her, and she became pregnant by him.  Gen. 38:15-18
Tamar and Judah then went their separate ways. She put her widow’s clothes back on and he returned to his home. He then sent his friend to deliver the goat that he had arranged as payment for sleeping with who he thought was a prostitute. When his friend got to the area where the “prostitute” had been there was no prostitute to be found. He asked the men that lived around there, they told him there hadn’t been a prostitute there. So, he returned to Judah and told him that he couldn’t find her. Judah didn’t want to be made a laughingstock so he didn’t pursue finding the woman to give her the goat and retrieve the items that he had left as collateral.

Around three months later Judah was told that Tamar was guilty of prostitution and that she was now pregnant because of it. Judah’s response was to have Tamar burned to death because of her actions. Tamar was one step ahead of him though because she still had the items that he had given to her.
As she was being brought out, she sent a message to he father-in-law. “I am pregnant by the man who owns these,” she said. And she added, “See it you recognize whose seal and cord and staff these are.”  Gen. 38:25
Judah recognized them alright. He declared that she was more righteous than he was because he had not fulfilled his word and given his son to her. Tamar’s life was spared and she later gave birth to twin boys, Perez and Zerah.

I have heard this story talked about a few times. It always seems like Tamar is made out to be the righteous one in the story and Judah is the bad guy. I don’t see it that way. When I read this story I see it in a differently. I think it is more of a story of “two wrongs don’t make a right.” Judah was guilty of not fulfilling his word to Tamar. Tamar was guilty of deceiving Judah and prostitution. They were both at fault in the situation. What is amazing though is that God can take two wrongs and make a right.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.  Rom. 8:28a

Only God can take our mistakes and turn them into something good. We are still responsible for the wrong that we do, this doesn’t give us an out for our sin. God made good out the situation with Tamar and Judah. Their son, Perez, was a part of the genealogy of Jesus. That seems like good coming out of bad to me. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Dinah

Dinah, the daughter of Leah and Jacob, was a victim. She was the victim of sexual abuse. One day she went out to visit the women who lived in the area and she was violated by Shechem, who was the son of Hamor the ruler of the area. Shechem was drawn to Dinah and tried to get his father to get her for his wife. Jacob knew what he had done and that it was dishonorable and not right. Jacob was not about to allow his daughter to be the wife of this man.

Now remember that Dinah had brothers, and half brothers, several brothers actually. These brothers weren’t happy about what had happened to their sister.
Now Jacob’s sons had come in from the fields as soon as they heard what had happened. They were filled with grief and fury, because Schechem had done a disgraceful thing in Israel by lying with Jacob’s daughter – a thing that should not be done.   Genesis 34:7
 Like good older brothers they wanted to protect Dinah. They also wanted to make Shechem pay for the dishonorable thing that he had done.
Because their sister Dinah had been defiled, Jacob’s sons replied deceitfully as they spoke to Schechem and his father Hamor.  Genesis 34:13
The told Schechem and Hamor that for them to allow Dinah to marry into their family and also intermarry with their people all the males would have to be circumcised, just as they were. Hamor and Schechem agreed with this and thought it sounded good. Little did they know that Dinah’s brothers had a different plan in mind. Three days later, while the men were still recovering from their little operation, Simeon and Levi struck. They killed every male, then looted the city, took all their livestock, women and children, and wealth (Gen. 34:25-29.)

Dinah’s brothers may have gone a bit far in protecting their little sister. Jacob was not happy about what they had done. He knew that what they did could bring trouble upon them. The brothers justified their actions though by saying, “Should he have treated our sister like a prostitute” (Gen. 34:31.)   


Killing someone else in the name of vengeance is not ok. Did the brothers take their protecting too far, yes. 
The one thing that we can take from this is that the intent to protect their sister was right. How they went about it was not. I remember when I first started dating Gerrit, my brother, being a good and protective older brother, said that if Gerrit tried to do anything to me he would punch him in his throat. Thankfully it wasn’t ever necessary for him to take that action. He was just looking out for his little sister though, and I appreciated that. Be thankful for your protective older brothers, Dinah probably was.   

Monday, April 21, 2014

An Adventure in Light & Darkness - Book Review


Cloak of the Light by Chuck Black is a gripping story that centers on a young man, by the name of Drew Carter. At first Drew just seems like a kid, then teen, who has had several unfortunate events happen to him during his life. Then one of these unfortunate events changes his life forever in a drastic way. Drew is suddenly forced to live in world where he can see not only the normal world we live in, but what seems to be another world that no one else seems to see. This change to Drew’s world forces him to change his life as well. Along the way there are also other characters that are an essential part of the story, Sydney and Ben. They are Drew’s two closest friends who are there with him through the journey that he is forced to travel between light and darkness.

ChuckBlack has done a great job putting a fresh spin on the topic of spiritual battle. In a note at the end of the book, he himself says that creative liberties have been taken in approaching this topic. He also does note that there are many things that are unclear to us about spiritual battle simple because the Bible doesn’t give us every little detail about it. He does however take the truths that we know of the subject from the Bible and stay within those guidelines. There is also a great Readers Guide at the back of the book. This would be particularly helpful for someone who does not the Bible well or is a younger reader.

The down side to this book is that the start is a bit slow. If you stick with it though, until about a fourth of the way through the book, the pace picks up really quickly. From there the story moves along quickly, then it gets a bit bogged down and can start to seem a little redundant. Keep reading though, the story finishes strong and leave you hanging a little. Just enough unanswered questions to make you want to continue on with the War of the Realm series. Cloak of the Light is the first book in the series, by the way. 

I would think that this book would appeal to both adolescent boy and girls. There is a little bit of suspense, sci-fi, love story, intriguing story, and Biblical truth for everyone. As an adult I enjoyed it as well, and will probably read the other books in the series.


I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

Friday, March 21, 2014

My Ode to Green Chili Mac n' Cheese

I love Mac n' Cheese! I mean LOVE! If there were three foods that I would want as a last meal they would be mac n' cheese, nachos, and ice cream. So, the other night I was wanting mac n' cheese and we didn't have any boxed kind in the house, so I resorted to making it from scratch. I was inspired by this incredible mac n' cheese that I had last summer while on vacation at the Manito Tap House, in Spokane, WA. Their's is a green chili mac n' cheese, and it is amazing. I know, cause I still think about it almost a year later. That is how I know if a food is good, I think about it later. Mmmmmmm............mac n' cheese bliss. Here is my ode to that mac n' cheese. 
 

Green Chili Mac n’ Cheese

Ingredients
  • 3 slices of bacon (reserve 2 Tbs. of the bacon grease)
  • 1 16oz. box of mini rigatoni
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 4 Tbs. flour
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely minced
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups shredded muenster cheese (or whatever white cheese you prefer that melts well)
  • 4 Tbs. green chili enchilada sauce
  • 1 green onion sliced thin
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions
  1. Cook bacon until it is crisp. Crumble into small pieces. Remember to save the bacon grease.
  2. Cook the mini rigatoni according to the directions on the box.
  3. In sauce pan, on medium heat, combine butter and bacon grease.
  4. Add garlic and flour and whisk until combined. Cook for a minute or two.
  5. Add milk and continue to whisk. Sauce will thicken quickly.
  6. Add cheese, whisk until it is completely melted.
  7. Add green chili enchilada sauce, salt, and pepper, and whisk again.
  8. Combine mini rigatoni with sauce.
  9. Sprinkle bacon and green onion on top.
  10. Eat and enjoy!