Tuesday, February 24, 2009

My girls' handiwork

Jessica (10) and Jillian (8) handstitched these lovely napkins for our table. Aren't they sweet?

The girls have been sewing for a couple years now, and we encourage such a useful hobby. Think how many paper napkins we won't have to buy (and then send to the landfill)!

These match the apples in my kitchen, and look very nice on our table.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Walls are for Protection

When we first came to Guatemala some years ago, one of the first things I noticed about the country was the peculiar style of houses here. Most houses have a high wall built around them, with sharp glass or barbed wire across the top of the wall. While these measures do not make the house impregnable by any means, it does deter the casual thief from even thinking about climbing the wall.

Jesus described a sheep fold which had a door. Those who are His true sheep enter in through the Door, which is Jesus Christ himself. Sheep folds have a perimeter wall that is meant to protect the sheep in two ways: By keeping out the wolves, and by keeping the sheep from wandering and getting themselves into danger. The sheep may or may not perceive the danger, but nevertheless, it exists outside those walls.

God has set up walls, which are also called commandments, precepts, statutes... all laid out in His Word. He does not put them there to make people miserable, but to protect us and open Heaven's windows of blessings upon us! Many sheep these days seem to be peeping over the top of the walls, or jumping out altogether to mingle with the foxes and wolves of the world. Do they not realize that the walls are for protection?

The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust...and my high tower. (Psalm 18:2)

Many wish to cast off what they perceive to be chains of righteous living. Don't tell them what the Bible says about how to dress, how to treat their brother, how to manage their money and resources, or how to otherwise please the Lord. They are too busy enjoying their "Christian liberties" to be bothered with that. And all the while, they live as slaves to the desires of their flesh, or to the world's definition of beauty and success.

Elisabeth Elliot wrote along these lines in her book Let Me Be a Woman, drawing this beautiful analogy:

As I sit here in the window of this cottage I can see a sailboat skimming silently along the horizon. It is a beautiful image of freedom. But the freedom of the sailboat to move so swiftly and beautifully is the result of obedience to laws. The builder of the boat had to know the proper ratio of beam to keel and mast. The one who sails the boat obeys the rules of sailing. A ship tacking against the wind moves deviously, but when she runs with a strong tide or a following wind she takes to herself the power of tide and wind and they become her own. She is doing the thing she was made for. She is free not by disobeying the rules but by obeying them.

And so it is with the obedient Christian life! To obey God's commands is to line up one's life with His will. What peace reigns within those walls! To step outside of them is to fall prey to the lies and half-truths of the enemy:

"God understands."

"I've worked hard, and I deserve this."

"God doesn't want me to look frumpy."

"No one is going to listen to my witness if I look and act like a Christian freak."

God gives us the freedom to choose to obey or disobey, and each choice carries its consequences. A student who exercises his freedom to do whatever he wants with his time is bound to fail his classes. A man who abuses his freedom to drive all over the interstate as he pleases is bound to cause an accident. A young woman who lives for pleasure and popularity will some day reap the sad consequences of her lascivious lifestyle.

Walls are for protection. There is liberty - TRUE liberty - within those walls!

So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever. And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts. And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved. (Psalm 119:44,45,47)

I want to emphasize that His commandments are not grievous to obey. For every thing He asks of us actually works out for our own joy and well-being. Are you listening to the lies of the enemy? Have you been betrayed by your peers, who have drawn your heart into the way that is not good? Are you a child of God who has bought into Hollywood's image of what you should look like? You can break free of that, by God's grace and power. Just take a step of obedience! There is freedom and protection from the enemy within those walls.

O what wonderful love, O what grace divine,
That Jesus should die for me!
I was lost in sin, for the world I pined,
But now I am set free.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Food on Fridays

Fun with Cannelloni!

Things like filling pasta used to intimidate me, so I never prepared meals like this for my family. Until I realized just how easy it is, if you have the right tool and a little know-how.

I know professional chefs probably have a neat kitchen gadget that does this, but Ziploc bags sure work great for me!

To make Spinach and Cheese Cannelloni, simply cook up a couple pounds of fresh spinach (or use canned), drain and chop. Add this to a package of ricotta cheese, and mix in two egg yolks and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, salt & pepper to taste.

Then comes the fun part... Filling the pasta!

I use Ziploc bags to decorate cakes and cookies, too, as well as for filling deviled eggs. Next time you serve whipped cream on a pie, try spooning the cream into a Ziploc bag and snip a tiny "V" out of one tip, and squeeze a fancy design onto the pie. It looks so much neater and more attractive than a spoon job! Your family or guests will feel so special. ;o)

But back to the cannelloni...

Line up the filled pasta shells in a baking pan, and cover with prepared tomato sauce (I used about 24 oz. seasoned spaghetti sauce) and a little water to cook the pasta. Make sure all of the pasta is covered, or it will not cook.

Bake this at 350 F for 30 minutes. Sprinkle cheese on top and bake for another 5 minutes or so, just to melt the cheese. Serve with salad or a vegetable. Such a delicious meal, and your family will be so impressed!

Speaking of impressed, I hinted that I might share the recipe of the best cheesecake I've ever attempted. I do not have photos because I did not make it again this week. It is so rich, we can't eat it twice in one week! So the recipe follows, for you to enjoy:

Tried and True Cheesecake

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Mix and press onto bottom of 9" pie pan: 1 cup fine cookie crumbs, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1/4 cup melted butter. Build up the edges about 1/4 inch.

In a mixing bowl, whip two 8-oz pkgs cream cheese (room temperature) until smooth. Add two eggs and 1/3 cup sugar, and beat just until smooth. Add 1/2 cup evaporated milk and 1 tsp vanilla, a little at a time, beating just until incorporated. Pour into prepared crust. Bake at 300 F for 45 minutes.

I topped mine with chocolate syrup and chocolate (Oreo) cookie crumbs, but of course you can top it with anything that appeals to you.

Two important tips for a perfect cheesecake:

1) Do not overbeat the cream cheese mixture. Beat only until it is well mixed.

2) Do not bake until it is all set. If you do, it will crack in the center.

Happy baking! :o)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

J.B.'s three!

Yesterday we celebrated John Benjamin's birthday with a family party.

He was excited about eating a "wormy" cake!

His big sisters helped me make the cake. These little guys were fun...

J.B.'s big present...

Three things that I love about my little man:

1) He plays sweetly with his siblings, especially baby brother.

2) He loves to sing hymns. (And it's so cute to hear him sing in Spanish!)

3) He is so very cuddly! (I know this might not last forever. *sigh* )

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SWEET BOY! I'm so glad God gave you to us!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My favorite home remedies for cold/cough

Perhaps my family isn't the only one that suffers cold symptoms from time to time, so I thought I'd share some of the remedies I use to help my loved ones get well.

Garlic is, in my book, God's miracle herb. It has some wonderful anti-microbial and healing properties, and it is available just about anywhere in the world. Nothing is better for any kind of sinus issues, but the trouble is making it palatable! I have come across some creative ways to get garlic into their bodies. One way is to make Garlic Lemonade:

Bring a quart of water to a boil. Meanwhile, coarsely chop three cloves of fresh garlic. Once the water boils, remove from heat and add the garlic. Cover and let stand for 30 minutes. Strain into a quart jar and add the juice of a lemon. Sweeten with honey, and serve warm.

If you reheat, do it slowly on the stove (not microwave), and do not allow it to boil.

Another way to use garlic is to chop it finely, mix it with Vicks Vaporub, and spread this onto the soles of the patient's feet. Cover with clean cotton socks. You will be amazed how this helps! While you are at it, spread some Vicks on their chest, too, to help relieve congestion.

Garlic can also be consumed raw, chopped finely and mixed with a spoonful of jam to be swallowed quickly (not chewed!).


Some of the locals make a tea from herbs that are available here in Guatemala.

Left to right, dried mango leaves, bouganvilia flowers, and fig leaf.

Boiled and sweetened with honey, these make a pleasant-tasting tea, and it does seem to help break up phlegm. Those of you in other countries can ask around - there is bound to be somebody knowledgeable (perhaps in the market?) who can tell you what available herbs will help with upper-respiratory symptoms. If you're brave, try them out, but just be careful to follow instructions for their preparation and use.


It is very important to give them plenty of water and fresh juices. The diet should be simple (preferably all-fruit), but if they do not have an appetite, do not press them to eat.

If they feel up to some movement, such as walking outdoors (weather permitting) or calm play, the fresh air and light exercise is good to help break up phlegm and lift their spirits.


Vitamins A, C and E work well together to help the body heal. Just remember ACE.


Be sure there is moisture in the air where the patient sleeps. This time of year we have the heater going, and it can really dry out the air. I like to set a pan of water close by, or give them a warm bath at night, then leave the water in the tub overnight, since the bathroom is right by the bedroom. If you have a humidifier, even better!


Plenty of rest and cuddles also go a long way to help the patient feel better. Encourage quiet activities, such as looking at books, and be sure to give plenty of reassuring hugs and kisses! Enlist the help of all family members to cheer the one who is ill.

"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine..." Proverbs 17:22 :o)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Weekend miscellaneous

We have had some really cloudy days. It looks like it's trying to rain, and it is quite too early for rainy season! Makes the landscape around our house look as cool as it is - between 50 and 60 degrees F.

Our neighbors are all getting their fields ready for the next planting. The cool weather is nice when they're hard at work outdoors.

But I have a cozy little indoor nook for these babies! Jessica and I planted tomato seeds back in November.

I am dreaming of big, ripe, juicy, homegrown tomatoes!

We have had a couple of sick-o's in the house. Poor little J.B. and Joel have that upper-respiratory-snotty-nose-headache-sniffly-sneezy misery going on. It has passed among most of us, and hopefully is on its last leg.

Nothing some home remedies and snuggle-love won't take care of. :o)

Speaking of love, Daniel got pretty creative with the pancake batter the other day...

What would you call this, pancake art? Batter splatter?

Nothing says "I love you," like pancakes...

...Unless it's cheesecake, which is my hubby's treat of choice. I made him one for Valentine's Day, and let me tell you, my search for the perfect recipe is over. This one was smooth, creamy, toe-curling, cheesy goodness! Maybe I'll share the recipe for my Food on Fridays post this week. I have to make it again, since I didn't take a photo of the last one. ;o)

I hope you all are having a blessed week!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Food on Fridays

Today's post is a lesson in leavening. If you are ever caught without baking powder, or if you prefer not to use it because of the aluminum content, you can leaven just about any recipe that calls for baking powder using this old-fashioned method. Add baking soda using half the measure of baking powder called for, and add 1 tsp vinegar per cup of liquid called for. For example, my pancake recipe calls for 1 Tbsp baking powder (so I use 1/2 Tbsp soda) plus 2 cups milk (I add 2 tsp vinegar).

My mom taught me this trick, and she remembers my grandmother doing the same thing. It sure is a nice alternative to baking powder, especially since studies are finding that aluminum causes health problems in much smaller quantities than they used to say.

Try it, and let me know how it works for you!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Wash Day

For all the convenience of a modern washing machine, sometimes a little girl just needs to do it the old-fashioned way...

(Her scrub board is my cutting board.)

Johanna can't reach the clothesline, so her big sisters did that part of the job.

Fresh, clean dolly laundry!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

What is Modesty? Part V

Should a Christian woman cover her head?

It has taken me much time, thought, and prayer to write this post. Many brothers and sisters who share my deep Baptist roots may not agree with me, but I will boldly state here what we have learned from Scripture, as well as from history. Our "brand" of Baptist tries to follow the "old paths", but if they were to look a bit further back into our Baptist heritage, they will find that there are some "old paths" that Baptists left behind a long time ago.

One of those "old paths" is the woman's veil.

Waldenses (Anabaptists) 1500's ~ See "The Trail of Blood" by J.M. Carroll

I Corinthians 11:3-5 "But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven."
For years I all but ignored this passage of scripture. I never heard it preached much, and frankly didn't come across it much in my personal Bible reading. Then a few years ago, I started to wonder why the women in certain groups wore headcoverings, and when I encountered one, I asked her why. She pointed me to I Corinthians 11:1-16. (Please read that HERE.)

I read it over and over, and discussed it with my husband. We both had been totally convinced that a woman's long hair is her covering (vs 15), and that no other covering was needed. But I couldn't get the issue out of my mind! I knew that women in Bible times wore veils (remember all those flannelgraph lessons??), and I came across some Old Testament passages that supported that fact. (See Genesis 24:65; Numbers 5:18; Song of Solomon 5:7) And in more modern times, too, some women did not go out in public with their heads uncovered.

When did women in general stop covering their heads?

Well, there were several times in history when the woman's headcovering went "out of style", and I believe that was the case when Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthians. He reminds them of God's headship order (the head of man is Christ; the head of woman is the man; the head of Christ is God) and then declares the Christian woman ought therefore to cover her head.

"For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered." (vs 6)

I know what many are thinking. Verse 15 says her hair is given her for a covering. Remember, I used to see it that way, too. But if the passage is studied within its context, the truth will be evident.

Look again at verse six:

"For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered."

We conclude from this verse that for a woman to be shorn (have short hair) or shaven (bald) is a shame. Paul says here that if that is so, then she should be covered, because to be uncovered is just as shameful.

...Stay with me here...

If I were to say that long hair is the covering, then the verse might be read thus:

For if the woman [have not long hair], let her also [have not long hair]...

That obviously does not make sense. However, if the word covered refers to a veil, then verse six makes much more sense:

For if the woman [does not wear a veil], let her also [cut her hair]: but if it be a shame for a woman to [cut her hair] or [shave her head], let her be covered [with a veil].

Verse 15 is often quoted out of context. But it stands within a clause in which Paul is giving an example in nature that women should wear a covering. He is saying that this truth about the head covering is taught in nature: It is seemly and right for a woman to have long hair. So it is seemly and right for a woman to wear the veil he previously referred to.

13 Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?

14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?

15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.

When we have lived our whole lives with a worldview tainted with feminism, liberalism, and immodesty, it is very difficult to even try to see it another way. What helped me see the truth was to read the scriptures over and over again, praying for understanding, meditating on it, and comparing it with other passages.

We have thus concluded that it is modest and proper for a Christian woman to cover her head with a veil. Search the scriptures yourself, and see if these things be true!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Food on Fridays

Friday is almost gone, and I am just now remembering to do my Food on Fridays post!

Today I am featuring the steak that Daniel brought home recently.

Meet T-Bone:

If you think it looks a little fresh, you're right.

T-Bone still has some growing to do, so these city-slickers-turned-ranchers are learning how to fatten him up. If you have any pointers, I am all ears!

He has just learned to eat grass, and we also give him feed. We have told the children that T-bone is not a pet, and named him carefully to remind us of that.

Just have to be careful not to look at those big, sweet, brown eyes with the long lashes...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

My little 'deer's

My children got ahold of this pelt from an axis deer Daniel shot...

"It's warm under all this fur!"

This "deer" was docile enough to be riden.

The littlest got in on the fun, too.

"It's so soft..."

If the reader happens to be an animal rights activist, don't worry. The deer did not suffer. God gave it to Daniel, and provided us with deer meat for several months. And see? Not even the pelt went to waste!

Monday, February 2, 2009

What is Modesty? Part IV

Modest Apparel: Getting Practical

(This post is part of a series. You can start at the beginning HERE.)

In Genesis chapter three you can read the account of how Adam and Eve forfeited a wonderful life in the Garden of Eden, choosing to go their own way and disobey God's command. This was the first sin, and immediately the two "knew that they were naked" and instinctively tried to cover up their bodies. But their flimsy leaf "aprons" were not satisfactory to God, so He clothed them with coats (not aprons) of animal skins before driving them from Eden. God was particular about what they were covered with.

Now we are getting down to where the rubber meets the road. While God did not assign us a uniform to wear, He did put some guidelines for us in the Bible. Christian women are not to look to the world for our dress standards. If we would please the Lord with our lives, we must look to His Word, see what His will is, and simply obey.

I want to share here some practical Biblical principles which will help guide today's Christian woman in her wardrobe choices.

I. We are to cover our "nakedness".

Nakedness, in short, means something is lacking; something that ought to be covered, isn't, and it is shameful when it is not. A brief study of the word "naked" in the Bible will reveal a standard altogether foreign to modern society's modesty standards.

When discussing the clothing of the priests in Exodus 28, God said, "thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach." From this we know that God considers uncovered thighs to be naked.

Another interesting passage is found in Isaiah 47.

1 Come down, and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon, sit on the ground: there is no throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans: for thou shalt no more be called tender and delicate. 2 Take the millstones, and grind meal: uncover thy locks, make bare the leg, uncover the thigh, pass over the rivers. 3 Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen: I will take vengeance, and I will not meet thee as a man.

So if the thigh is nakedness, then bathing suits, shorts and miniskirts are out, as well as anything else that would reveal the thigh under any forseeable circumstances. A dress that covers the knee while a woman is standing, may show thigh when she sits. Why sit struggling with her hemline, when she can simply put on a long skirt? Also, long skirts with slits can reveal nakedness.

I personally feel that showing the shape of certain body parts is equally revealing nakedness, even if the bare skin is not exposed. A woman can "cover" herself from neck to ankle with a skin-tight body suit, but common sense will tell you that she is not modestly dressed! Clothing that clings to the body, revealing the shape of breast, buttocks or thighs is also immodest, and is perhaps even more enticing than bare skin.

II. Women are not to put on men's apparel (and vice versa).

I am sure I'm going to say something here that a lot of people will disagree with, but I will be careful to include scripture as needed to back me up.

The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God. (Deuteronomy 22:5)

It is quite clear that women are not to wear things that pertain to men. The question is, what pertains to a man? In the day that this was written, both men and women wore long, flowing garments. The main difference was that men girded their loins, whereas women did not.

I Kings 18:46 "And the hand of the LORD was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel."

Job 38:3 "Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me."

To gird is to bind up. When a man girded up his loins, he took the hem of his long garment, pulled it up between his legs, and tucked it into his belt, thus making it easier to run, or do whatever work he needed to do. Women never did this, as it was considered improper.

There are many more references to girding the loins, but only one that referred to a woman doing so. That reference is Proverbs 31:17, "She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms." It is not a literal girding of her loins, but a figurative girding with strength, bracing herself to accomplish a difficult task.

Now, what modern garment girds the loins? That would be anything that has a crotch. According to the Biblical dress standard, there is no such thing as "women's pants". I realize that pants made for women are found in the women's section of every department store. But I am not talking about what the world says, I am talking about what the Bible says.

There are also certain styles made for women that mimic masculine styles. That is too much to go into here, but if a Christian woman desires to dress in a way that pleases the Lord, and prays asking for wisdom and discernment, I think she will be able to perceive that which is feminine, and what is masculine.


I think this post is long enough now! More in the next post. Until then, I welcome your comments.

Read Part Five HERE.