Seeking the Black and White

Black and White

A Study in Proverbs; Seeking Wisdom

I am no scholar, I often end up with my foot in my mouth, I don’t always think everything through, although I try. So, I am often looking for the secret to doing, saying, and thinking through things wisely. I find that when I read Proverbs, it makes so much practical sense. Of course there is Spiritual Wisdom, as it is the God given Word of Scripture; yet there are moments as I delve into the Proverbs, I think, “Wow, this is so amazingly useful for everything!” Of course, while certain aspects do seem cultural to the time period in which they were written, the principles found in the book of Proverbs have application for each person.

[Proverbs 1:1-7 NASB]

“The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel:

To know wisdom and instruction, To discern the sayings of understanding,

To receive instruction in wise behavior, Righteousness, justice and equity;

To give prudence to the naive, To the youth knowledge and discretion,

A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel,

To understand a proverb and a figure, The words of the wise and their riddles.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

So who wrote it all? Short answer: King Solomon.

Solomon was born into royalty. In 2 Samuel 12:24, we find out something interesting about this prince. It says “The Lord loved him.” That’s our first introduction to this person. He was the son of David, who was also given a nickname, “A man after God’s own heart.” Those are some impressive distinctions. While I would love to go into a history of David and Solomon, there are many good scholars and theologians who have already done this and I would encourage you to find that out.

I would like to mention one thing about Solomon though. He had an encounter with the true God at a young age. It was in a dream that God spoke to him and told him to ask for anything from God Himself. Solomon could have asked for anything it seems, but what he requested was wisdom. Here were his words, “So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” [1Kings 3:9 NASB] God was pleased with this request, and on top of it gave Solomon riches and might…Under the condition that Solomon was to walk in the ways of God and His commandments. Sweet deal, right? (You can read the rest of this story in 1 Kings 3.)

So keep in mind, as you look at the book of Proverbs, the wisdom shared is not just wisdom coming from man; it is the wisdom of God. With that comes weight; if a scraggly looking person, with no known abilities, connections to you, or authority, told you, “Don’t cross the street.” You might look at them strangely and cross anyway. On the other hand, if you saw a person of reputation, with a uniform on, having authority, who said the same thing, you would more likely listen. These words in the book of Proverbs, don’t come from a man, they don’t come from a nobody, they are breathed by God Himself. The all knowing, all powerful, never failing God. So, while some things may seem simple, do not take the words of proverbs lightly.

Why Proverbs? Well, because they are words that will increase learning, give instruction, direction, knowledge, and understanding. I love the verse above that says, “To receive instruction in wise behavior, Righteousness, Justice, and equity.” I believe there are absolutes, and we all seek a sense of justice, holding everything to an absolute standard. Proverbs makes life a lot less complex, it is black and white, right and wrong. I like that. Of course I may face situations that are a little more grey; like what to wear, eat, or drink; yet the truth is, Proverbs bring wisdom to many circumstances in life.

So, this is the first post on Proverbs. I hope to go through the whole book, all 31 chapters, bit by bit. (Although no doubt it will take me some time…if I am able to complete it at all.)

Thanks for reading.

Trouble: Will It Refine You? (Part 3)

Trouble: Will you let it refine you?

1 Peter 1:6-9 “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.”

According to Scripture, pain has a purpose in our lives. Three years ago, while in the throng of a trial, it all made very little made sense. As I have now grown as a result of that pain, I see how it has benefitted myself in ways I could never have imagined. Continue reading

Trouble: Be Prepared (Part 2)

Red Alert! Red Alert! A warning goes out, your heart skips a beat, and you hold your loved ones closer. You’ve rushed about doing what you can, now you just hold on, waiting for whatever turmoil it may be to pass. Trouble Strikes.

When the weather forecast issues and alert for a storm, hurricane, tornado, or even extreme fire danger, we take heed. Things are tied down, shutters are closed up, emergency preparedness is in effect and we brace ourselves for the outcome. Unfortunately there are some who ignore the warnings and are caught off guard, often facing the tragedy unprepared. In some cases, even the prepared face devastating loss. When I was a young girl, I remember a hurricane warning and the scramble to get everything taken came of before the brunt of the storm hit. After the things in the yard were tied down, the windows covered, I recall being inside the living room and looking outside. I think the power went out because I remember the darkness. Then watching the strength of the wind blowing the trees outside, the pounding of the rain on the roof, and the sound of thunder amidst the howls of the storm. Yet, I remember going to sleep, or at least waking up the next day. We made it through that storm with minor damage, and things went back to normal. We were prepared.

Some say the only two certain things in life are death and taxes. While this may be so, death is the only thing certain. For a Christian, we do not live without hope, we know that death has been overcome already. For those who believe that Jesus Christ died to take your punishment and give you life, death is not the most dreaded thing. But what about the other trials in our lives? If you knew they were coming, how would you prepare for it?Rainbow in the Mountains Continue reading

Trouble: It Is Coming (Part 1)

Storm in the DesertHave you ever recalled a dream so vividly that it was like you were remembering an actual event? Every now and then I will have a dream that will stick in my mind and I write it down. One such dream was over 3 years ago. The gist of it was that my husband, kids, and myself, went through an overwhelming struggle but had come to a resting place after defeating a creature. Then we had come to a brief pause, and a  place of calm and quiet. It was there, in the dream, I foresaw something worse. It was a foreshadowing of a fierce rhino with red eyes. I knew (as one often does in dreams) that it was coming, along our journey, we were going to deal with a difficult struggle, something absurd, something we would have to battle, and it was terrifying. I wrote down the dream, pondered it for days, but then closed my journal and didn’t think of it again until I reread it recently on a bored whim, and was astonished.

I looked at the date of the dream and thought of the months that had followed. I can say, it was the hardest months of trial that came in unexpected. Pain, emotional loss, troubles, and grieving; then recovering, that is what happened over the months and even years that came. So, what was that dream? Was is a vision, a foretelling, a warning of reality? I couldn’t say, and if so, I didn’t pay much attention at the time. Perhaps it was divine warning of the trial ahead, I don’t know.

Here is the shocker though, we are all foretold of pains, trials, and suffering in this life.  Continue reading

Do you ask for Help?

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In my 4 years of adventuring through homeschool, I have had the notion that I must and should do it all. There are articles explaining how one can accomplish everything. Magazines that show the ideal homeschool day. Granted there are also quite a number of people who post about how they struggle, how difficult it is, or how they have days when they want to give up.

The response to most of those difficult times is usually, “Take a day off”. I’ve wondered, ‘How about the rest of the year?’ Yet, in all of my conversations with people, I express how great homeschooling is, how terrific it is to make your own choices for your child’s education. I rave about the curriculum, the freeing schedule, the time spent at home. To be honest, I love homeschooling. Despite the difficulties, I do enjoy it. Now this post is not just about homeschooling though. There is an underlying lesson I have learned, and am still learning, that I would like to share.

Many of us desire to portray our lives as complete. No one wants to look like the dishevelled mess we might actually be. I blame part of my own actions to time living among people who culturally practice “saving-face” so to speak. But when I dig deeper, to the heart of the issue, is this not a form of pride and self-righteousness that I am propagating? Although in some ways, people label specific cultures as “saving-face” cultures, don’t we all have that desire to show off our best sides? When I scroll through my social media and see what my friends post, it’s usually the best side, and so is mine. Now, I am not saying that in itself is bad. But it also may not be accurate, and in doing so, we might be trying to convince ourselves that things are rosy.

So, what if it isn’t all roses and sunshine? What if in actuality you are drowning? Overwhelmed, Broken, and depressed? Or just ready to throw in the towel?

I had a moment that hit me hard when I realized I was incapable of continuing on. It wasn’t nice, I was broken and felt desperate. I realized in particular that my current method of homeschooling was not working and we were getting behind, along with other frustrations arising. Now this took a turn that actually was a moment of peace and resolution. My problem here was that I was professing that I was entirely good yet inside I was drowning. Well, I eventually gave up and did the unthinkable, I cried out, “HELP!” Guess what? It wasn’t the end of the world. It wasn’t all over when I fatally admitted that I was inadequate. In fact, it was just the needed words to break the cycle of defeat I was struggling in. Continue reading

Who are you?

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Identity…

Show of hands for those who have done at least one personality quiz? One search to see if you are a Lily or Daisy, what your color is, which bird you are, what food you are, or if you are chaotic good, bad or the ugly? I am sure we have all seen them. Now I think to myself, ‘I have done more than I would like to admit of these quizzes; I am a flower, grape, unicorn, who likes autumn, so…what does that mean I should eat for lunch?’ Okay I am not really taking these quizzes that seriously, but it does say something when millions of people have taken quizzes to try and find out who they are.

Of course, the purpose is for fun, right? Now the day might come when these quiz results will become an area on your resume, but that really isn’t the point is it? Is it to impress, or to find out who you really are? I am sure many 10 question multiple choices have been very effective in your life decisions, no? Now I freely admit, I like quizzes, I think it is fun to see who is the apple, orange, or exotic fruit. We all are unique individuals, each with different likes and dislikes. Things we feel and think about, our enjoyed activities and dreams for the future, we all have them and perhaps occasionally a quiz has help identify them.

What is our identity? Who am I? Perhaps those questions are why we spend the minutes (or hours) checking out the quizzes and filling out a personalty test, or find a quiz to tell us what career we should have picked. Maybe we aren’t satisfied with what we’ve been told so far, so we keep trying for a more desirable answer. Continue reading

New Year, New Day, New…Word?

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New Year, New Day, New… Word?

I’ve seen already a few dozen posts of a new ‘word’ for this new year. The words range from hope, change, family, friendship, to love, and even fear. I’ve seen ‘Fresh’ as the banner over some people’s lives, at least today anyway, on this first day of a new set of twelve months.
I do love to see people having hope, dreams, and ideals, but I feel like some of it misses the point.
Today, when I got up, the weather wasn’t much different, the dishes still sat in the dishwasher, the house showed signs of children and their play, the tree even stands unmoved from Christmas, I still have the same relatives, my house is the same, the same car, bills, rent due and much more. My circumstances have not changed one bit since the night before. I still have appointments set on the calendar and my work of ‘homemaking’ is still my job description (and I love it). So, where is Fresh? Inspired, Simplicity, Change, Bright, Experience and New? Is it a secret unlocked by the passing of the minute hand on the clock? I think not. Continue reading

Craving, Leaning, Growing.

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Craving, Leaning, Growing.

Those words in the title describe what I’ve seen my little sprouts doing this past week. I’ve been watching my basil seeds grow and I’ve been noticing some things about it that caused me to stop and wonder. Seeds need a certain type of environment and amount of nutrients to grow well and flourish. The three components that are most important for a seed are: the soil it’s planted in, the water that it’s given, and the sunlight it requires.

1 Peter 1:22-2:3 (NASB)
“Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. For, ‘all flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls off, but the word of the Lord endures forever.’ And this is the word which was preached to you. Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grown in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.” Continue reading

Throne of Grace

Hebrews 4:14–16 (NASB)
“Therefore, since we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weakness but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in the time of need.”

Is life hard? Are you weak and heavy? Are you wanting of strength? Always behind, struggling and despairing, broken, barely managing life. Yet you live; perhaps like the Woman at the Well, trying so hard to do the best you can, somewhat spiritual, knowing you’ve blown it, but doing what you can to scrape by.

It is there in that place that the Great High Priest is. Sympathizing with you. Knowing the deepest darkest parts. He knows the temptation, yet he has overcome completely, separated from sin. And this is the gift he offers: Draw near… To the King of kings, the Lord of lords. Drawn near to the throne of God, the God of all, with unreserved boldness! Through the blood of Jesus Christ we are completely free to be before the highest, His throne of grace.
In John chapter 4 the Woman at the Well didn’t deserve the private meeting with the Savior, the Son of God, but grace and mercy overflowed to her. This Woman was of low repute, she had a bad reputation, she was rejected by all. She wasn’t of the right gender, she wasn’t of the right race, she was different. Yet, she had the opportune moment to be face-to-face with her Creator, and He extended love; where the world gave her rejection and judgment He said, “Come and find grace.” We are all sinners, in desperate need of a Savior; in desperate need of grace and mercy.

In the Old Testament, the high priest was the mediator between the people and the mercy seat of God. One couldn’t come by themselves, they were separated and had to offer a blood sacrifice to obtain payment for their sins. We no longer have to wait outside of the building or go to a certain place as in those times. Access to the Throne of Grace and the Mercy seat was made possible through the death and resurrection of Jesus. He has become that mediator on our behalf and through His name we can receive mercy from God.
Once we have received that and can say with confidence we have Him as our High Priest we can approach with boldness and confidence not shirking back or hiding, but with an unwavering approach to Him. At his throne, through the blood of Christ Jesus, we can take mercy as our own and find grace to help in the exact time of need.
Are you in that place of need today? Are you in in your weakest place? When you lay hold of the Gospel, believing that Jesus Christ died, and rose again, and paid for your sins, you have the same opportunity as that Woman at the Well, to be face-to-face with your Creator. Hebrews 10:22-23 (NASB) says, “Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of our faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.”

A Mongolian summer favorite…khuushuur

Something that Mongolians like to eat a lot is meat. Mostly sheep, cow and goat but also common meat here is camel and horse. A little background story on meat, when we first arrive here I went shopping with some friends, who knew the language more than I did. As I was at a butcher, I asked for a roast of beef. My friend translated, helped me order in kilos and I paid and walked away. As I walked away, my friend was stopped by the butcher and said something. They had given me horse meat. Having already paid and being worn out from the shopping already I decided to make the best of it and take it home. I made a slow cooked stew- and it actually ended up alright, but I have made sure to never again knowingly buy anything except beef. So, all that to say, meat is very important to the locals, both for livelihood and for eating. I read an article once that said livestock in Mongolia outnumber humans 15:1. It may have changed since then, but still meat is the staple food. After meat, is “white foods” which are a variety of curds, cheese, fermented curds and yogurt. Upon my observation I would say the next most important aspect of the diet is flour product. Whether it’s bread, noodles or used for wrapping meat in for cooking.
Now that some of you may have lost your appetite (which I hope you haven’t), let me preface my recipe by saying, it tastes good, my kids eat it, and it’s flavorful. Think “fried taco without the fixings” and you’ve almost got it.
I make my recipe for this a bit different than what would be found in this land, so if you were to make this recipe and then visit, it would probably look the same, but taste different. In the traditional writing it is written as хуушуур, which sounds like huushuur with a strong ‘kh’ at the beginning.

Ingredients:
1 lb Lean Ground Beef
1 TBSP Soy sauce
2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp black ground pepper
1 tsp dried parsley flakes

Mix the spices with the meat and set aside.

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Next, in a separate bowl mix
2 cups Flour
1/2-1 cup water
Dash of salt

Place flour in the bowl, Gradually add water and blend until all flour is incorporated. You want to make a soft dough that is pliable in your hands, but not sticky.
Then form the dough into a ball and roll into a long tube shape. Cut into about 15-16 smaller balls.

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Next begin heating a large pan with oil about 1-2 inches deep. Try to use a lighter oil like Soybean, Canola or vegetable oil.

On a flat clean surface begin rolling out each ball of dough into a very thin circle. If you start with the outside edges and roll out a little at a time it usually works well. Each circle should end up a little bigger than the palm of a hand.

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Next spoon a small amount of meat mixture into the dough. Don’t put too much or it won’t be able to close right.

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Fold in half to make a half circle and tightly pinch the edges to seal. You want to make a good seal so the meat will not seep out when cooking. You can use water on you fingers to help. I fold them over a little bit to create a good seal.
Place a few at a time in the hot oil. (Watch for splatters of hot oil as the meat cooks, make sure your kitchen is also well ventilated, those tips are from experience.)
Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side. (if it’s browning faster than that turn down the heat). Drain on paper towels.

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In our home we usually serve them with Salsa but, I’ve seen them eaten with kimchee or soy sauce or other sauces of choice. Enjoy!

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