A Whole Body Walk 

Proverbs 4:1-7

1 Hear, my children, the instruction of a father, And give attention to know understanding;

2 For I give you good doctrine: Do not forsake my law.

3 When I was my father’s son, Tender and the only one in the sight of my mother,

4 He also taught me, and said to me: “Let your heart retain my words; Keep my commands, and live.

5 Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth.

6 Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you; Love her, and she will keep you.

7 Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.

Have you ever tried to walk a straight line with your head turned to the side? It’s very hard to do. Ask a child to do it and it’s a quick example of how off course one can get if they are not looking at the goal. Or think of of people walking while texting on their phones and running into things. Some have even injured themselves walking into poles, the street, or cars. Not looking up and forward will get you the wrong place and is potentially dangerous. 

When I go out walking and taking public transportation in this busy city, I am constantly telling my sons to pay attention. I don’t want them to walk into something they shouldn’t; to step too far away from me; or cause others discomfort or anger from bumping into them. It’s an active walk, to get from one place to another, and it requires the whole body to move the right way and do the right thing to get from A to B. When we miss a transfer or turn down the wrong street we have to reorient ourselves to our destination and make the corrections needed to get somewhere. Like a GPS recalculating, we don’t change our destination, we move forward to the place we need to be. 

Proverbs 4:20-27

20 My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings.

21 Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart;

22 For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their flesh.

23 Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.

24 Put away from you a deceitful mouth, And put perverse lips far from you.

25 Let your eyes look straight ahead, And your eyelids look right before you.

26 Ponder the path of your feet, And let all your ways be established.

27 Do not turn to the right or the left; Remove your foot from evil.

Proverbs 4 is a plea to pay attention, it uses physical descriptions to help one understand the cause and effect of where we walk and what path we take in our lives. Various parts of the whole body are mentioned: ears, heart, flesh, feet, mouth, eyes, and eyelids, the instructions for each are also spiritual. 

With our ears, we are to listen to instruction. Active listening is seeking to understand what is being said, we should be actively pondering wisdom. In this chapter, wisdom says: “Do not enter the path of the wicked, And do not walk in the way of evil.” (Prov. 4:14) “But the path of the just is like the shining sun, That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.” (Prov. 4:18) Then we are told to use our whole selves to give attention to these things. Our hearts are to be filled with instruction, our eyes should be looking forward to the right path, one that won’t be taking us down the one of wickedness, but towards the path of the just. Our mouth should be speaking true and just things, and our eyelids should be open. Our feet should be moving us in the direction away from wickedness. 

This isn’t a passive response to the wisdom, but an active and moving response. For me, my movement constantly needs focus. I daily need to get my mind attentive to wise things, mainly God’s Word, the Bible. Then I have direction, to go throughout my day not stumbling in darkness, but with eyes wide open, looking to finish each day in light of the truth of scripture. Do I have days when I go off course? Yes, can it change by the hour sometimes? Yes. Instead of continuing the wrong way though, it requires a refocusing of the mind, heart, and eyes onto the wisdom from God to get back on course. It is easier to correct direction when less wrong turns have been taken. Where do you need to actively move to be on the bright and shining path of wisdom?

Where haven’t I been?

Well, I haven’t been unoccupied. Just not able to focus for a while on blog writing. Multiple trips and mostly because we’ve moved again, across land and sea. It’s been an exciting and enjoyable start in a new country, getting to relocate, and getting to see and experience new direction. 

Over the last couple of years my husband and I knew we were to do something else. And now we are. We have returned, as a family, to full time, living all in, missions. It’s exciting, because it’s what we love.

Of course it comes with new challenges, like learning an entirely new language! New foods, locations, people, but it’s so worth it. 

Alternative Chocolate Chip Cookies

There have been some unique dietary changes at home due to addressing an allergic reaction and testing that was done to remedy that. So, with the new: no egg, no diary, no corn, no wheat diet, I have been figuring out new recipes to try and how to adapt some existing ones. 

Yesterday’s attempt turned out amazing. I love baking, and I typically can make cookie without a recipe in front of me. I know the consistency and ratios of dry:wet ingredients. This one was what I figured would work, and it did, and they are delicious. Everyone loved them and didn’t inquire about the alternate ingredients as they tasted so good. I’ll be making more batches soon. 

Alternate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

1/3 cup coconut oil

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup regular sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 T flax meal plus 3 T water (mix and let sit 2 minutes)

2/3 cups spelt flour

2/3 cups Almond meal

1 tsp baking powder

1 cup chocolate chips (for allergies, make sure it’s semi-sweet chocolate with no dairy in it)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 (Fahrenheit)

In a large mixing bowl (I used my stand mixer), cream together the oil and sugars. Add in the vanilla and then the flax meal/water mix. 

Then add in the spelt, almond meal, and baking powder, mix together. Last, mix in the chocolate chips. 

Scoop out onto a cookie sheet about 2″ apart. A small ice cream scoop works great for this. Bake for 8 minutes or until slightly browned on edges. Leave on the cookie sheet for about 2-3 minutes before lifting with a small spatula. 

Once cooled, seal in a ziplock bag or airtight container. 

Enjoy!

  
(For those interested in nutritional content, I did approximate calculations with this link: Recipe Nutrition Calculator)

Sweet Potato Kale Chicken Soup

This is a recipe I made tonight after seeing some prepared soup at the store and being disappointed that they were almost out. Also that one small container would be six dollars was a deterrent to my shopping savvy. Now, that cost isn’t much, but to feed five, it’s not a terrific quantity. I quickly turned to the produce section and selected a bunch of fresh Kale, 2 Sweet Potatoes, an onion, and a small package of boneless chicken and went to the cashier determined to try my own hand at something new. About five dollars later, a loaf of garlic bread also somehow made it with me, so an extra $1.50 was spent, we were on our way home.

Here is what I made, and it turned out excellently. If you try to make it, let me know how it turns out for you.

Sweet Potato Kale Chicken Soup

Ingredients:

1 lb. Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast or tenders, diced into small chunks

2 large Sweet Potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/4” sized cubes

1/2 Yellow Onion, diced

2-3 cups chopped Kale

1-2 T Olive Oil

4 Cloves of Garlic, crushed

1/2 tsp Nutmeg

1/8 tsp Ground Cloves

1 T Dried Basil

2 T Sugar

pepper

salt to taste

2 T Chicken Bullion (alternately use 2 cans chicken broth and decrease the water)

2 liters water

pinch of Turmeric (optional for color)

(Optional: 1 12 oz package of tortellini or other pasta)

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Instructions:

In a large Soup pot over medium heat, put oil, onions, chicken, and sweet potatoes. Sauté about 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked. Add in Garlic cloves and stir.

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Next mix in the nutmeg, cloves, basil, sugar, pepper, and chicken bullion. Stir and then add the Kale to the pot. Cover with Water and stir. Add the pinch of turmeric. Allow the mixture to come to a gentle boil, turn heat to low and simmer for anther 15 minutes.

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Meanwhile, in a separate pot boil water for the pasta or tortellini. Cook until done according to package directions. This will be kept separate until the soup is served.

When serving, first scoop a portion of the pasta into the bowl and then top with the soup.

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Note: I was able to make a full pot of this soup for about $5, given that the seasonings were already on hand. It’s a great, 30 minute meal for low cost that I know is a healthy recipe for my family. They all loved it and licked their bowls clean. Plan a little extra time for cutting up and washing the vegetables. Excellent with a slice of Italian bread or crusty roll.

Colors

Painting for me is a relaxing pasttime, enjoyable, fun, sometimes a little trying on my own patience, challenging, and a great way to express myself. It is a way for me to contemplate nature, to ponder the way trees grow, the skies many shades, the colors in the darkness and light, and the beauty of life.

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I typically start with very few colors on my palette, just the basics. For me, mixing to create the right shades of blues, reds, greens, browns, and yellows to make to exact color I want to show on the painting, is half the fun of the work I put into each piece of art I create. IMG_5666

I know I am not really creating art from nothing, I typically am basing it off of something I have seen, someplace I have been; a portrayal of the world we live in. In that, I am replicating the world, the creation, that proclaims a Creator. My paint does not jump from the palette to the paper and become it’s own completed picture by itself. It takes an artist wielding a brush to move it to form something; whether abstract or realism, it is moved by a designer, carefully placing each brush stroke to it’s precise point on the paper, making something beautiful. Just so, when I look at the world; the beauty of a sunset, the detail in the blades of grass, the complexity of a mountain range, or the majesty of a rolling wave, I cannot but think there is Someone who has put all of those things in place, and am in awe at the creativity and power of the One who has made all things. This might be a controversial topic to some, but I know that I see the handiwork of God when I look at nature and the splendor of the world we live in. It is very illogical to me to think that all of this world came to be without a person designing and forming it to it’s complexity and completeness.

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I am only making a copy of things I see; mixing, blending, and placing colors on a canvas, I recognize the amazing wonder of the earth and heavens around us while I do that. I am just a simple artist, making paintings that I love, and representing the natural world we live in. The mix of colors, shades, lights, and darks we can see in the skies and land around us should cause great awe of the God who has made all we see. I resonate with Psalm 104, in which David writes about the glory and beauty of the natural world, designed and created by God:

“O LORD, how many are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all; The earth is full of Your possessions…Let the glory of the LORD endure forever; Let the LORD be glad in His works…Let my meditation be pleasing to Him; As for me, I shall be glad in the LORD.” (Psalm 104:24, 31, 34 NASB)

C. H. Spurgeon said: “Here on this earth is Calvary where the Savior died, and by his sacrifice, offered not within walls and roofs, he made this outer world a temple wherein everything doth speak of God’s glory.” (For further reading, this particular Sermon where this quote is from is worth the time it takes to read though: C. H. Spurgeon: Lessons From Nature)

Not exactly baking

Homemde English Muffins Recipe  
In fairness to anyone who follows me on Instagram, I figured I should share my recipe for Homemade English Muffins. Of course, there are plenty online, and I won’t guarantee  that my recipe is different from any other one might find, it might not be the one with the most “nooks and crannies”, or the healthiest, but it is my own adapted recipe with the main point being that it is simple. It isn’t quite baking because they are actually made on a griddle and not in the over. This makes them an excellent bread recipe for the warmer seasons when one doesn’t want their oven on. 

Having the right tools makes this easier, and will enable one to follow this recipe exactly. It can be made without a stand mixer, but it will then loose the simple ease this recipe provides. 

Tools:  a stand mixer (at least a 325 watt or similar to Kitchen Aid brand variety that has a 5qt bowl)

A good flat clean surface, rolling pin

A circle cutter, about 3″ diameter or a large mug/glass will do

And a large completely flat pan or griddle. Can be cast iron, regular skillet, or it can be the electric kind you plug in (like for pancake making). I prefer now the electric griddle, it maintains temperature the best. 

Ingredients:

5 cups of flour (loosely measured) and a little more if needed. 

2 TBSP active dry yeast, or 2 packets

1 TBSP Sugar

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 cups milk

1/2 cup water

1 TBSP butter

Cornmeal for dusting

Oil for brushing onto skillet 

Directions:

Using your stand mixture bowl, mix flour, yeast, sugar, and baking soda.

In a microwave safe bowl, put milk, water, and butter, heat until it feels warm to touch (about 2-3 minutes from fridge temp). 

Add liquid to the dry ingredients. Begin with a paddle style mixing wand. Once it is sticking together, switch to a dough-hook and continue to mix for 2-3 minutes. This is the kneading process. 

Dough should be somewhat elastic (meaning when you lift it and it stretches, it bounces back to shape). It should not be hard or too sticky, slightly sticky is good. Remove dough from bowl and brush same bowl with oil, cover with a piece of oiled plastic wrap. Let sit in a warm place for 20-30 minutes. 

Meanwhile, get a clean surface ready, a round cutter, cornmeal, oil for brushing the griddle, and rolling pin ready. 

Heat griddle to 300 degrees for electric type, for a pan on the stovetop, heat to medium heat. Brush with a little oil. 

When dough has risen, without working it place about half onto a lightly floured surface. Roll dough to about 1/2″ thick. Cut with circle cutter, pat softly into cornmeal and place on griddle. 

Cook for 7 minutes on one side, flip and cook 7 more minutes on other side. Cooking can be aided by placing a sheet of parchment paper over the batch while cooking to allow some heat to stay in. 

While first batch is cooking, continue to cut and pat in cornmeal the remaining dough. 

  
Allow to cool briefly before cutting in half with a sharp serrated knife. 

Serve warm or you can spilt and toast them. Make sure they are cool before storing in a container or ziplock bag. Iif you will not be eating them all in 2 days be sure to refrigerate them. Make sure to allow some breathing room in the container until they have reached a cool temperature. 
One final note, I showed my mom how to make this recipe, she never makes bread, but this was so easy for her also, so even if you can’t make a loaf of bread, give this one a try!

Trust is a Funny Thing

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Proverbs 3:5-6 NASB
Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.

Trust is a funny thing.

I was thinking about trust, and placing trust in either inanimate objects or in an animal, or in a person. I know I have tiers of trust, that are often complex and hard to break through.

I will sit on a chair without checking the handiwork of it for its soundness. In my experience, a chair has never let me down; so placing my confidence that one will hold me up is an easy feat.

Trusting an animal, a pet for instance, is easy also. I know my own dog will not bite me, I can play with it, take its food away, give it toys, throw a stick, or grab a ball from its mouth and I know I will not be harmed. I can trust my own dog, because I know it, and I am the hand that feeds it. I wouldn’t put my face near a dog that was not my own though. I know boundaries exist among pets and animals. It is something I assume and rely on, even though my experience has never gotten me bit by a dog. (Trusting a cat is an entirely different matter…)

How about people? Do you trust people readily? I tend not to. Perhaps it is my skeptical personality, maybe my upbringing, maybe just my own evaluation of myself causes me to doubt others. I have a very close and small circle of persons I will trust. Maybe a total of 4 people whom I trust entirely. I can think of who they are with no hesitation, and I think they would know who they are if they read this.

Have you ever sent a package in the mail? You trust the postal service will get it to its destination, in one piece. I was sending a box of books, to an unknown recipient, who purchased those from me, at a reasonable price; and I suddenly felt like I wanted to rush out of the post office and not send them, but I didn’t. I am counting on a relatively unknown to make good on their word to also have sent me the check for said books. In “good faith” I sent the package, and I can only hope that the person will also send their check, in same “good faith” that I will post the books as agreed upon. Not a simple test of faith exactly, but it was for me an act of trust. (I’ll certainly let you know if they fail to keep their end of the deal.)

I have no reasonable cause for doubt, I just doubt because it seems reasonable to do so. Continue reading

Joining Goodreads

Well, I have always been a huge fan of books, I never seem to have enough. I will admit though, I have shelves of books I have yet to read. It is fun to see in a list form what has been read, what I want to read, and how I rate them.
Hardly ever can I enter a bookstore and not come out with at least two books in tow. Although, like many book addicted people, my shelves are running out of room.
Anyway, check out the new section on the sidebar to see some of the books I have read, or want to read.

I will say, currently, my favorite author is Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I particularly love “Crime and Punishment” and would recommend it to anyone who would love to read more about the grapple of man with crime, guilt, forgiveness, humanity, and laws of right and wrong. It is an excellent read, and unlike “The Brother’s Karamazov” (another favorite of mine) is a little shorter with less long winded dialogue.
I have many favorite books, and will share more of them as I remember to do so.

“The darker the night, the brighter the stars,

The deeper the grief, the closer is God!”

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment

Life lessons are not often without clean up required.

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So, I was doing something nice, making tea, getting a tray ready. A croissant toasting, and the pot of tea brewing. I reached up into my cabinet and took out my newest teacup that I acquired at a flea market. Turned around and a little dude had snuck behind me silently, I was startled and the cup dropped. Well, china and ceramic tile don’t mix, and it shattered.

Unintentional accident. I dropped my cup, my toast burnt while cleaning it up. I shouted, then cried, then I apologized. Sounds like words to a country song. I initially placed prize value on my now broken cup, instead of the not-so-little one who had snuck up behind me. Of course it was accidental, and partially rule-breaking, as I have told them before not to come in the kitchen.

The thing is, life is more fragile than a teacup, and of much greater value than a rare find. Kindness was required and care in cleaning up both the shattered pieces and also in the relationship being brought to tension.

Proverbs 3:3-4 “Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man.”

The human heart is so fragile, when an incident occurs, if even a thought or word is shared harshly, it can cause damage in so many ways. Broken relationships are a bane of our lives, and occur all too often. Perhaps sometimes it is because we are all valuing the wrong thing and not responding in the right way to life.

In my small incident this morning, I did not make myself known for my soft response initially. I was the harsh person who forgot what kindness is. That was quickly remedied when I paused and looked at my son and remembered a material thing is not so important. I picked up the pieces of the cup, placed them on the counter and asked God to put that gentleness in me. We all have those moments, when we want to lash out, and then feel that prodding of the heart, to be kind.

When I chose the kindness, there was restored favor. My son was able to ask and inquire if I could fix the cup. I told him no, but I could still do something with it perhaps. He needed to know that the favor was there and that it was not the end of the world. I think that despite my initial reaction, the circumstance was valuable and able to show me a lesson of life. I now, with a different teacup, am able to sit and contemplate and enjoy favor. The boys are back to their happy play and it is nice and calm.

This verse in Proverbs was what I had planned on writing about today, I suppose I required this reminder first: That kindness goes a lot further and the result that comes when kindness is shown is favor. This verse is speaking of having integrity, having kindness and truth as your name tag. While many might think of integrity for large things only, it is a lifestyle of integrity even in the small stuff, even in the daily tasks of interacting with others in your home. Having integrity bound to us is living a godly wise life. We are to wear our integrity as a beautiful adornment both inside and outside. When we are known by integrity, kindness, and truth, we have both favor and a good reputation before God and before those around us.

The beauty is that, even if we mess up at first, there is often a second chance with God. He will gives us the opportunity to practice kindness and to walk in integrity. I am so glad there is forgiveness and glad I too get a second chance at living in kindness and picking up the pieces.

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