How He speaks…..(Part 2)

A few excerpts from what I’ve been reading……and just more confirmation that down times are inevitably part of His amazing grace and sanctification process. Hardly ever fun, but always perfectly good…..

Relationship with God requires leaving, letting go, in order to pursue His promises. He calls His followers on a journey that takes them beyond the limits of their sight. Hosea tells us that God will woo us to the desert in order to win us back to Himself. God says: “‘Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt. In that day,’ declares the Lord, ‘you will call me “my husband”; you will no longer call me “my master”‘” (Hosea 2:14-16)

The healing path must pass through the desert or else our healing will be the product of our own will and wisdom. It is in the silence of the desert that we hear our dependence on noise. It is in the poverty of the desert that we see clearly our attachments to the trinkets and baubles we cling to for security and pleasure. The desert shatters the soul’s arrogance and leaves body and soul crying out in thirst and hunger. In the desert, we trust God, or we die.

The Healing Path by Dan Allender, pp. 20-21

“Shepherd,” she said despairingly, “I can’t understand this. The guides you gave me say that we must go down there into that desert, turning right away from the High Places altogether. You don’t mean that, do you?”

“Much-Afraid,” He said, “all of my servants on their way to the High Places have had to make this detour through the desert. It is called ‘The furnace of Egypt, and an horror of great darkness’ (Gen.15:12,17). Here they have learned many things which otherwise they would have known nothing about.

They stayed in the huts in the desert for several days, and Much-Afraid learned many things which she had never learned before.

One thing, however, made a special impression on her. In all that great desert, there was not a single green thing growing, neither tree nor flower nor plant save here and there a scratch of scraggly grey cacti.

On the last morning she was walking near the tents and huts of the desert dwellers, when in a lonely corner behind a wall she came upon a a little golden-yellow flower, growing all alone. An old pipe was connected with a water tank. In the pipe was one tiny hole through which came an occasional drop of water. Where the drops fell one by one, there grew the little golden flower, though where the seed came from, Much-Afraid could not imagine, for there were no birds anywhere and no other growing things.

She stopped over the lonely, lovely little golden face, lifted up so hopefully and so bravely to the feeble drip, and cried out softly, “What is your name, little flower, for I never saw one like you before.”

The tiny plant answered at once in a tone as golden as itself, “Behold me! My name is Acceptance-with-Joy.”

Much-Afraid said to herself, “He has brought me here when I did not want to come for His own purpose. I, too, will look up into His face and say, ‘Behold me! I am Thy little handmaiden Acceptance-with-Joy.'”

Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard, excerpts from pp. 82-91

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 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…1 Peter 1:3-7

My “various trials” pale in comparison to the grief and pain I often see around me, or hear about. But, they are mine for now and I continue to pray for strength to endure the “proofing” process. And, of course, as you can see from the above, He meets me every step of the way. Much-Afraid has to make her journey to the High Places without the Shepherd, but with two traveling companions – veiled women named Suffering and Sorrow. When they take her to the desert, she gets and extra traveling companion – the Shepherd Himself. They are then a foursome and she is not only sustained, but changed. Oh, that I might take on the name Acceptance-with-Joy as well!The Shepherd had met me like never before!

Gluten Free Friday – Buttermilk Pancakes

So, a cookbook that I mentioned checking out from the library officially became mine on Mother’s Day thanks to the thoughtfulness of my husband – Mollie Katzen’s Sunlight Cafe. It is mostly breakfast foods, but so many of them could be eaten at any time of the day. We’ve already tried a couple of her muffin recipes and one for home fries, and while Robert’s parents were visiting a couple of weeks ago, I decided to try her buttermilk pancake recipe for our Sunday-evening-watch-America’s-Funniest-Videos-and-Home-Makeover-Extreme-Edition-Meal. We even had bacon and scrambled eggs and it, of course, went over very well with all involved! I also had some frozen blueberries – about the last cupful – from our blueberry picking excursion last summer and threw those in the batter for the second batch of pancakes – perfectly timed with blueberry picking season being just around the corner!

The recipes in Mollie’s cookbook are not really gluten free, so I just try and substitute the best I can where needed. Here’s my version of her basic buttermilk pancakes:

Buttermilk Pancakes

1 cup GF flour mix
1/4 cup flax meal
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

3/4 cup buttermilk (or milk soured by lemon juice or vinegar)
1/4 cup plain whole milk yogurt
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp melted butter
2 eggs

blueberries, strawberries, etc….. (optional)

Sift dry ingredients together. Mix buttermilk, yogurt, vanilla and eggs in separate bowl. Pour buttermilk mixture and melted butter into dry ingredients and stir – but not too much. Scoop by 1/4 cupfuls and pour onto griddle cooking each side about 3 minutes. Serve with warmed maple syrup.

If adding fruit – pour batter onto griddle and then press fruit pieces onto the uncooked side before flipping.

P.S. I think I tripled this recipe to feed everyone! (There were 7 of us!)

Gluten Free Friday – Spaghetti Pie

This one comes from my friend Aimee. Her family had ours over for dinner about a year ago, and this was the dish she made for us along with lots of garden fresh squash and other veggies. I have made this recipe twice since then, and both times for a crowd. Once for a mid-week Bible study group at church, and once just a couple of weeks ago for a few college football players who came over for a goodbye/graduation dinner. It doubles easily and is very filling. Not really low in fat or calories, but yummy!

Spaghetti Pie

1 package gluten free spaghetti noodles
1 26 oz. jar spaghetti sauce
1 lb. ground beef, browned
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 package cream cheese
1 1/2 cup sour cream
mozzarella cheese
parmesan cheese

Prepare pasta according to package directions. Brown beef with chopped peppers and onions. Mix together cream cheese and sour cream and spread in bottom of 9×13 in. baking dish. Layer meat mixture on top of cream cheese layer. Layer spaghetti noodles next. Pour jarred sauce on top of noodles. Top with desired amount of mozzarella and parmesan. Bake 1 hour at 325*.

New Chix Pix and Trix

Monday was chicken-pick-up-day at the farm supply store in town. (Tuesday was ducks, Wednesday was turkeys, and Thursday was Bantams.) We pre-ordered 6 more chicks to add to our flock of 8. This way, in the fall, we would be getting about a dozen eggs a day. Sounds like a lot, but the truth is that between eating them for breakfast, using them for baking and making chicken salads and such, we use almost that many! Any extras have already been spoken for by eager friends and church family who are willing to pay for them!
Well……we ordered 6 – 3 Rhode Island Reds, and 3 Aracaunas, but we came home with 8! While we were standing in line waiting our turn in the “chicken distribution room” (really just upstairs offices at the farm supply store) I was lamenting the fact that we had not ordered any Buff Orpingtons. This breed is a beautiful honey-colored chicken, and we have a friend who has a couple of them – one named “Cider” which goes so well with its color and New England home!
When we got into the room and were given our 6, the store clerk asked us if we would like any “extra.” They always order extra, but also want to be sure and get rid of the extras. I think they may have had trouble with this in the past, so this year they asked each customer on the spot whether or not they’s like a few more. In a weak moment I asked if there were any Buff Orpington “extras,” and she said there happened to be three. I looked at Kory who was holding up three fingers, but decided to just ask for two. Most people know that I do not love animals, but this was indeed a cruel trick! They are so cute and so tiny, that you just think “What trouble could two more be!” and you pay the $4 that 2 more chickens cost and go home with a box full of of chirping cuteness!
So, I think we’ll definitely have at least our dozen eggs per day once October rolls around!

Gluten Free Friday – Peas and Rice Pilaf Salad

One dish I remember my grandmother making often was rice pilaf. It was one of our favorites, and she always served it with peas. So, when I recently came across a recipe for a rice salad that sounded like this favorite food from the past, I had to try it out. The original recipe comes from a fun magazine I just came across called Mary Jane’s Farm. I altered it a bit based on ingredients I had on hand, and we ate it this week in the bleachers at a baseball game. (Spring means almost all of our dinners are at the field!) It wasn’t a really big hit with the kids, but it went over well with the grown-ups! Robert’s parents are visiting this week and they (along with Robert) approved of the dish. 🙂

Peas and Rice Pilaf Salad

2/3 cup wild rice
2/3 cup brown rice
3 cups water
3/4 tsp salt
1 box frozen peas
2 Tbsp finely chopped shallot
1/2-3/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup dried cranberries
6 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp honey
2 tsp lemon juice

Cook rice in water 30-45 minutes. Cool, (I also rinsed the rice in cool water after it was done) and add salt, peas, shallot, almonds, and cranberries. In small bowl, whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, and lemon juice. Pour over rice mixture and toss to coat. Serves 8-10.

Are We Really That Old?

What do a captain’s hat, sunglasses, and a pair of platform shoes have in common?The makings of our costumes for the 1970’s themed birthday party we attended on Saturday!

Now, can you guess WHO we were impersonating?
Captain and Tennille, of course! I’m sure you are quite familiar with their music and weekly television show…..from 1976! Oh, I just adored them! And I distinctly remember getting to leave school early one day to go to the “beauty parlor” for a Toni Tennille haircut!
(That must have been a few years before the Dorothy Hamill haircut.)So, how did we do?

Is it possible that I STILL HAVE the Toni Tennille haircut? At least we didn’t have to perform, but I can not get the “Love Will Keep Us Together” lyrics out of my head!

Special thanks to my good friend, Betsy, who lovingly took this old prom dress straight out of her kids’ dress-up bin in her basement! Special thanks to the Salvation Army Store for the pants, belt and shirt, Ultra Gal for the hat and shoes, and Wal Mart for the remaining jewelry/sunglasses-type accessories.

And here is the birthday girl….our friend Allyson, who turned 50 on Saturday. Under that fro,
is a head of beautiful silver hair which testifies to the level of righteousness she has achieved through her years of service to Christ. 😉 Allyson is the Youth Coordinator for the Baptist Convention of New England, and the director of the youth camp that we attend each summer. We are so blessed by her friendship, and we love the fun, joyful spirit she brings to camp each year.
And how could we not return the favor of our 70’s look after she wore leg warmers, a headband, and torn sweatshirt and performed the song “I Will Survive,” and “Don’t Stop Believin’ ” at Robert’s 40th 1980’s birthday bash?

Happy Birthday, Allyson!

The Best Convent

In The Five Aspects of Woman, Barbara Mouser discusses the sanctity of motherhood – the setting yourself aside for the purpose of motherhood. She explores the reasons women may try and “fit motherhood in around the edges” rather than devote themselves to it as they would a career or cause. The reasons are fairly obvious…no instant gratification, no accolades, acknowledgments, or awards, no salary, and yet the requirement of an all-out surrendering of your time, your body, your sleep, your mental energy… times, your whole self.

This just seems like a very long, painful, and unnecessary route to maturity, respect, and security. And though there are other paths beside motherhood to these things, listen to the requirements of the early church for the taking in of widows who are in need of financial support. These widows were provided for by the church in return for their service in the church and ministry to other women.

“Let a widow be put on the list only if she is not less than sixty years old, having been the wife of one man, having a reputation for good works; and if she has brought up children, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has assisted those in distress, and if she has devoted herself to every good work.”
I Timothy 5:9,10

In other words, the best preparation for leadership and responsibility for a woman was not a college degree, or crashing through the glass ceiling, but the giving of herself to her own home, family, and church.

It reminds me of a scene from my favorite book, Stepping Heavenward. In this exchange, Katy’s husband has asked her to visit one of his patients. The patient is a very young woman whose main ailments are boredom, apathy, and selfishness. The young woman talks of her efforts to help poor children (they were unruly and smelly) and mentions that she might have joined a convent, but those are now out of vogue…..

“The best convent,” I (Katy) said, “for a woman is the seclusion of her own home. There she may find her vocation and fight her battles, and there she may learn the reality and the earnestness of life.”

“Pshaw!” cried she (Miss Clifford, the “patient”). “Excuse me, however, for saying that; but some of the most brilliant girls I know have settled down into mere married women and spend their whole time in nursing babies! Think how belittling!”

“Is it more so than spending it in dressing, driving, dancing, and the like?”

“Of course it is. I had a friend once who shone like a star in society. She married and had four children as fast as she could. Well! What was the consequence? She lost her beauty, lost her spirit and animation, lost her youth, and lost her health. The only earthly things she can talk about are teething, dieting, and the measles!”

“As you have spoken plainly to me, knowing me to be a wife and a mother, you must allow me to speak plainly in return,” I began.

“Oh, speak plainly, by all means! I am quite sick and tired of having truth served up in pink cotton and scented with lavender.”

“Then you will permit me to say that when you speak contemptuously of the vocation of maternity, you dishonor not only the mother who bore you but the Lord Jesus Himself, who chose to be born of woman and to be ministered unto by her through a helpless infancy.”

Miss Clifford was a little startled.

“How terribly earnest you are!” she said. It is plain that to you, at any rate, life is indeed no humbug.”

I thought of my dear ones, of Ernest, of my children, of Mother, and of James; and I thought of my love for them and theirs for me. And I thought of Him who alone gives reality to even such joys as these. My face must have been illuminated by the thought, for she dropped the bantering tone she had used hitherto and asked with real earnestness:

(Have I mentioned that I love books that use the words “hitherto” and “earnestness?”)

“What is it you know, and that I do not know, that makes you so satisfied while I am so dissatisfied?”

I hesitated before I answered, feeling as I never felt before, how ignorant, how unfit to lead others I really am. Then I said:

“Perhaps you need to know God, to know Christ.”

Stepping Heavenward, pp.262-264

I wish I could say that I have devoted myself fully to motherhood and not tried to just fit it in around the edges. It is the hardest job in the world, requiring the greatest sacrifice – and I am selfish! I want time to myself, to do the things I want to do, when I want to do them without having to take 4 other people into consideration! And it may appear that I have completely devoted myself to my family from this glowing blog and the fact that I homeschool my kids and therefore spend nearly every day, all day with them, but don’t be fooled! I struggle with this giving away of self every day. And yet, in doing it by faith for 14 years, I have grown. It has been the main avenue of sanctification in my life, and I can truly say I am thankful for the transforming power it has been. Within the walls of my own home, I have found my strengths and weaknesses, fought many battles, and learned the realities of life. I have had to cling to Jesus, and have come to experience Him in the intimacy my heart so desires.
It has indeed been the best convent for me.

I thank Him for this privilege, and ask Him to continue to give me a heart of love for and perseverance with my kids – who, by the way, gave me the most wonderful gift today – a beautiful card filled with words of encouragement!

(And two baseball games to attend, and one ice skating lesson to drive to!)

Happy Mother’s Day!

The Long Awaited Day….

I had to make a trip to Northampton today to look for a couple of missing pieces to the costumes that Robert and I will be wearing to a friend’s 50th birthday tomorrow. It’s 70’s themed. (Don’t worry, I won’t let you down by not posting photos of this soon!)

While heading for the now non-existent Army/Navy Store, I had to pass Starbucks. I’m pretty sure I’ve posted before about my inability to pass a Starbucks without going in, so in I went, equipped with my gift card, for a venti ice coffee with 3 pumps of vanilla. (It was all of 72 degrees here!) Every time I go in, I look longingly at the pastry case full of scones, muffins, giant cookies and tiny madeleines…….and expectantly.

Expectantly, because I can just feel it in my bones that someday there is going to be a plate of something there that is labeled gluten free.

Imagine my excitement as I peered into the case and noticed a lone little cake sitting on its very own white pedestal. Next to it a small label announced its “gluten free-ness.”
Oh happy day!
When I got to the register, I added that little cake to my order.

They are individually wrapped so as to ensure there is no cross contamination. The one on display was not wrapped, but the one they give you when you order is. Actually, my first one had an opening in its wrapper, so I asked for another, and then I was off for the taste test.

Not a bit of disappointment… spongy like real cake, very moist, had just the right amount of sweetness, and the perfect finishing touch of sliced almonds on top. It actually reminded me of a recipe that my friend Romy posted a while back which was for
an orange cake that you make with a whole orange. The Starbucks cake has both orange pulp and orange rind in it, real eggs, almond flour, rice flour, sugar, and orange oil. It was just perfect!

I couldn’t wait to get home and tell the kids. They (unfortunately) have acquired a taste and love for going to Starbucks as well. They are usually limited to the blended fraps which are a nice gluten free treat, but now they will have more to choose from.

And though I try to avoid eating sugar in general, I feel an need to purchase a little orange cake on a regular basis so that Starbucks will continue to cater to special diets as much as they can! Thankfully, many restaurants and cafes are making an effort to accommodate the gluten free diet. A couple of weeks ago, a friend shared her experience of eating at Legal Sea Foods in Boston, where her Celiac daughter and husband were able to have gluten free croutons on their salad, and gluten free breaded fish! Amazing!

Thanks, Starbucks – you made my day! And even though there is no more Army/Navy store in Northampton, that tiny bit of goodness spurred me on to ask around and find another great resource for costumes just around the corner. I walked into Ultra Gal, and walked out with a captain’s hat and glitter platform shoes. 70’s party, here we come!

(Last time I went to Northampton, I discovered gluten free, chocolate covered, almond macaroons at The Haymarket. It just keeps getting better!)

Gluten Free Friday – Two for One

First, I though I’d post a recipe for my friend Laura. Hi Laura! 🙂 She asked about a recipe for Italian Dressing. (You should check out her blog, and her very cute “bowl video.”) I have been using the Good Seasons Italian Dressing Packets for several years now. They are made by Kraft and are gluten free. I use a combo of red wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar when their recipe calls for “vinegar.” I also use a bit more vinegar and oil than they recommend. We really enjoy this dressing, but here is one I found online that is more truly homemade:

Italian Dressing

1 c. olive oil
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. grated parmesan or romano cheese

And here’s one more recipe for this week. It’s not really soup season anymore, but this one is great for rainy days like we’ve had this week. We ate it this week with GF cornbread.

Lentil Vegetable Soup

3 cups dry lentils
8-10 cups water
3 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 large onion, chopped
4 stalks celery, diced
8 carrots, diced
2 potatoes, diced
8 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp basil (dried)
1 tsp oregano (dried)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar

Rinse and drain lentils. Place them in a pot and cover with 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Skim off any foam that accumulates at the top. Let simmer 15 minutes – chop vegetables while waiting. Add cubed celery, carrots, onions and potatoes and let simmer until vegetables and lentils are just tender. Add basil, oregano, and pressed garlic while soup simmers. Add water if necessary, and pour in vinegar just before serving.

Salvation and Swine Flu

(I think alliteration may be the height of my creativity. And to think, I participated in UIL Journalism Headline Writing in high school!)A highlight of every semester at our church is baptism day. In the spring, we use a local pond which is such a wonderful location, but extremely cold! Everyone getting baptized writes out their story of coming to faith in Christ and has it read by a friend or family member. Robert used to stand in the water with each person while their story was read and then baptize them, but due to the threat of hypothermia 🙂 the procedure has been changed a bit! All stories are read (with everyone on dry ground) and then they enter the water one at a time for the actual baptism. This past Sunday, there were 10 people from our church and a new church plant baptized and a huge crowd out for the exciting event.
Don’t know if you’ve heard that the only cases of swine flu in Massachusetts are at Amherst College or not, but it is just across the street from our house, and our church is full of students from that campus! We have not been all that concerned – though I did make the kids wash their hands when we got home from the service on Sunday. But imagine our surprise when Robert was on campus today and a student asked him if he had a cold and was feeling alright…..

Robert: No. I feel fine.
Student: Oh, thank goodness. The Lord is protecting you.
Robert: What? What are you talking about?
Student: Haven’t you heard that __________ tested positive for Swine Flu?

Turns out that the second (I think!) person Robert baptized was very ill that day but didn’t want to miss this special day she had been preparing for. (She is not the one pictured above!) One day later she tested positive and had to go home. Please pray for our friend to recover quickly, and for the protection of her family, our church and our family!

Robert had already been torturing the kids with squeals, and snorts, and other “swine noises” since we heard of the outbreak across the street. You can only imagine the increase of this behavior since he has indeed come into contact with a verified case! 🙂