1. Baseball 2. Boston 3. Repeat

Seems like that’s all we did last week – go to baseball games, go to Boston, go to more baseball games, then head to Boston again. It was a very full week, but lots of fun. Kory was up as pitcher once last week, and I always get so nervous for him when his coach puts him in this position. He’d much rather play second base, and doesn’t enjoy the pressure of the mound. But on this particular day, he did really well.
Then on Sunday evening after church and Kayla’s ice-skating lessons we headed to Boston, spent the night with a pastor friend there, and got up early to see the re-enactment of the Battle of Lexington and Concord which has become part of our annual Patriot’s Day routine. After the first year, we learned that we need to bring a ladder to see over the crowds that must have begun to congregate around 4 in the morning! The actual battle takes place around 6:30am.
Align CenterHere the redcoats are arriving on the common, and the colonists are scrambling to gather on the opposite side. The battle lasts all of about 1 minute! Kayla turned to me as the gunfire subsided and asked, “Who won?” Hmmmmm…..the same team that won last year, and the year before, and the year before….and every year prior beginning in 1775! The good news is that the British then march to the Concord bridge, and in that battle they are defeated by the minutemen.
Next, after a warm and delicious breakfast,we headed to the annual parade in Concord brimming with drums, fifes, flags, horses, and colonial people – even Louisa May Alcott makes an appearance every year. I did not spot Thoreau though – probably too much fanfare for him. He can probably hear the music loud enough from his little cabin down the road on Walden Pond – just down the street from Louisa’s house.
Did you know that you can’t have a parade in New England without protesters. It’s just a given. I think it might even be a state law: No patriotic events may be held in Massachusetts unless there is at least one group of protesters (of any cause), or at least several individuals passing out “America is evil” propaganda.

After the parade, we headed into Boston to watch the runners about a half a mile out from the finish of the Boston Marathon. This is always so exciting and inspiring. These are incredible runners who have had to qualify under certain time (which is really fast if you ask me!) in another marathon in order to be approved to run this world-famous marathon.
For the second year in a row, we were privileged to see my friends from high school Brad and Mindy. Brad ran the marathon in an incredible 3hrs and 21 seconds. (He’s not too happy about those 21 seconds, which means that maybe we’ll see them next year, too!) They are just the sweetest couple and family. We have come away from our times with them so encouraged in our faith because of their example.
This year they brought the whole family, so our kids enjoyed all hanging out eating “Prudential Center Nachos.” (They were one of the things for which Cooper said he was most thankful at Thanksgiving!) Robert and I went for the Gourmet India Chicken Tikka Masala – so delicious! Brad and Mindy’s boys are adorable and lots of fun.
Then there was more high school baseball. This one ended up with a 30 minute rain delay in the first part of the game, and then a complete rain out. It was POURING! I couldn’t believe they could play any ball at all. (We watched from the warm, dry min-van!)

Friday was a MUCH anticipated day. My siblings and I draw names for gifts at Christmastime, and Robert’s gift from my brother in California was 3 tickets to a Red Sox game! Would you believe that in 10 1/2 years of living in Massachusetts we had NEVER been to Fenway Park or to a game?
Well, the tickets were meant for Robert, Kory, and Coooper, but Cooper had had enough of Boston, subways, long car trips, crowds, etc. after Monday’s Patriot’s Day excursion so he asked if he could stay home with Kayla and watch a movie with friends (and the friends’ mom!). While I did try and encourage him to go ahead and go – as it was such a special opportunity – I did not push too hard, because I secretly wanted to go! I have wanted to go to a game since we lived here. He was fairly adamant about his desire to skip another trip to Boston, so I sacrificially took his ticket and thoroughly enjoyed an evening at Fenway – so awesome!

We got to see David Ortiz hit his first home run of the season against the Baltimore Orioles. The game was a close one, and we stayed til the bitter end which was perfect, because then we got to sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and “Sweet Caroline” in the eighth inning. (Here’s the legend behind Neil Diamond’s song at Fenway.) And the Red Sox won – icing on the cake!

There were hot dogs, yes. Beer, of course. And there was kettle corn. And Fenway even recently added a few gluten free snacks to their list of offerings, which is wonderful. But I’m sure they do not sell THIS at Coors Stadium, Rangers Ballpark, or Disch-Falk field! I saw the Chowder Guy more than any other food vendor, and he was getting LOTS of business!

Only in New England….. patriots and protesters and crowds eating chowder.

(Or should I say “chowdah.”)

Gluten Free Friday – GF Flax Sandwich Bread

Robert was out of town this week at this conference, where he had a great time, and said John Piper’s sermon was the best he’s ever heard. (Wow! You can listen to/watch it here!)While he was away, the kids and I managed our normal (crazy, actually) routine, and I even found some time to make some homemade gluten free bread. (I was also trying to stay away from Whole Foods and depleting the checking account!)

We seemed to need a lot of bread this week, for various reasons. Kory needs to take a sack lunch on the bus with him to away baseball games (two this week), and the kids are always looking for some sort of bread product to go with their breakfast. I ended up making two loaves and one batch of rolls using the same recipe. This is a really nice-tasting bread that I adapted from one I found in a magazine a while back.

GF Flax Sandwich Bread

2 cups GF flour mix (I used rice, potato, tapioca)
1 Tbsp yeast
2 heaping Tbsp ground flax
2Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

1 1/3 cup warm milk (1 min in microwave)
4 Tbsp butter (melted)
1 tsp cider vinegar
2 eggs
Directions: Place all dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix together well. Stir liquid ingredients together in a separate bowl. Add to dry ingredients and use a hand mixer to beat for 2-3 minutes. Pour/spoon dough into a greased loaf pan. Spray a piece of plastic wrap with cooking spray and gently place over loaf pan. Let rise in a warm place 45 minutes to 1 hour. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes. Remove bread from loaf pan and bake 5-10 more minutes.

I had fun using these King Arthur bun pan to make individual rolls. As I type this, they are being gobbled up for breakfast with butter, jelly, and cream cheese alongside some scrambled eggs and sausage links!

And now off to do schoolwork – quietly. Robert got home at 4:30am and we’re trying to let him recover from his long drive and late night!

Have a great weekend!

Recipe Updates & Surprising Statistics

I didn’t post a recipe on Friday – mostly because I want to finish this recipe index before I start adding more. So, here’s the updated index, with Main Dishes being the newest addition!

Also…..

Just about a week or so ago, I installed a site meter on my blog. Prior to that, (for the last three years!) I had no idea how many people were reading or why – unless they left a comment (which I love!). Other bloggers, of course, do this right away, but I just never did. I clicked around a few times to investigate this, but always clicked away feeling a little intimidated. (HTML and Cookies scare me.)

Now, I can check the site meter to see how many people have read the blog on a given day or week. I can also tell what part of the country or world they come from. Now, in case you wanted to remain anonymous, you will be relieved to know that I can’t tell exactly who you are or see your email address or anything like that, but I can tell if you’re from Kentucky, or Oregon, or Madrid. (Yep, several visitors from Madrid!?!) And when the site meter says that someone from Adliswil, Switzerland was reading, I can be fairly certain that it would be my friend Romy!

I am able to know things like I’ve had 1,449 visits to this site in the last week and a half, and I can click on a map of the world to see where they have come from – United States, Canada, and the United kingdom being the top three places. (Switzerland, you’re #5) Massachusetts, Texas, Iowa, and Oklahoma are where the top U.S. visitors come from.

I can also see what “searches” people did to find my blog. Before installing the site meter, I would have guessed (hoped) those searches would be along the lines of – gluten free recipes, homeschooling or Jesus. So imagine my surprise and great dismay to discover that what brings people to my blog MOST OFTEN, from ALL OVER THE WORLD…..(Are you ready for this?)

is THIS post!

Oh. My. Goodness.

Of all things?!

Evidently gluten free recipe blogs, chronicles of chickens, blogs about homeschooling families, and heart-felt journaling about walking with Christ are just abounding out here in cyber-space, but information on early 70’s pop music artists are lacking??!!?? They DO have a show in Las Vegas last I heard, so why are people coming here to see them? And where, oh where will that photo of us be looked at and displayed? Oh….I’m so tempted to simply delete that post, but it was such a fun moment in our recent past, and this blog has turned into my answer to boxes of Creative Memories albums and tools that have been gathering dust in my basement for the last 8 years or so. It’s our story, and the archivist/photographer/journalist in me just can’t do it!

So, hopefully some unsuspecting person looking for Muskrat Love, will happen upon some other sort of love and encouragement here at Gluten Free Krums!

Other top searches that land people here were:

Five Aspects of Woman (My ALL TIME FAVORITE BIBLE STUDY!)

Cows Eating Morel Mushrooms and Grass

Chicken Socialization

Gluten Free Chicken Strips

Buffalo Wild Wings

and last, but not least….

Poems About Taking a Vacation

Wow! So funny, and not at all what I would have expected, or necessarily wanted, but oh well. The internet is an interesting (and scary, sometimes) place!

Goodbye Winter!?! (Hello Easter, Baseball, and Iced Coffee)

I use a question mark, because if you set your hopes on spring too early around here, you are SURE to be disappointed. (If I see any more bluebonnet photos on Facebook, I may die of jealousy!) I try to lower my expectations to at least mid-May, and even then shorts and sandals may be out of the question. Swimming is simply not done until the end of June – and even then it is cold and will remain so all summer. And though, for us, this had been a mild winter (even been up to 80 degrees lately – note shorts & sandals being worn in following photos!), it seems like just a few short weeks ago this was the scene in our backyard: a heavy snow that had collapsed the chicken yard, so all the feathered ladies were roosting in fright! Oh, they are so funny to watch, and I loved going out to get this photo and trying to capture their alarm over this new situation they found themselves in.
Well, the coop got fixed and now they are free to venture outside again. I think they must be enjoying the change of season as much as I am, because they are laying LOTS of eggs right now. Even the “old” ladies that we got 2 springs ago seem to have begun production again after being on strike all winter. (Only the newbies were laying in the cold months.) And I will spare you another egg photo, but let me assure you, they are as beautiful as ever in their shades of brown, beige, and blue! We could have hidden them for the Easter egg hunt, but I didn’t think the kids would want to forgo the annual egg-dyeing ritual.
And then we had SUCH a wonderful Easter. It is definitely becoming one of my favorite weeks of the year. The church was open all week for folks to come by and contribute to an art collage project depicting the Crucifixion, Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Christ. Friends Michelle and Cindy were the major contributors to this, but the kids and I spent Thursday afternoon working on parts of it, and others joined in over the Easter weekend. Friday was our annual “Crosswalk.” For as long as we’ve been here to plant the church, we’ve done this on Good Friday afternoon. This large wooden cross is carried by one or a few through our downtown area. It may seem very “in your face,” as Robert puts it, but it is the only time our church ever engages in this type of overt act. Good Friday seems an appropriate time to do that sort of a thing. As you can imagine, the responses are quite varied. Some will make the sign of the cross and look on with reverence. Some yell, curse, and use hateful gestures. We stop at several places and read the story of the Crucifixion from the gospels. Back at the church building, there was a time of reflection on this small act of identifying with what Christ went through on our behalf that day. It is always such a beautiful and meaningful time.

The next day was set aside for egg-dyeing with friends. I hard boiled 90 eggs so that my three and their three good friends would have PLENTY to create with. I use to do less, but no one was ever satisfied with dyeing only 4 or 5. (Even Robert likes to have his personal stash to work with!) As a child, I used to wake up to an Easter basket and lots of already hidden eggs in the backyard. As a pastor’s family, we have never quite been able to pull this off – having to leave early for church, etc. So, we have always waited until the afternoon when all church services and activities are over, the pastor and his wife have made their three o’clock pot of coffee, and the kids can not wait ONE MORE minute. (And some years, there has been snow on the ground, or it’s been 20 degrees and windy, and then parental motivation is really down!)

Monday brought with it LOTS of baseball. Kory has already been practicing with the high school team, and this week began practicing with his old Babe Ruth League team. (Yes, that makes for 2 teams that he is now on.) (Oh – and homeschoolers can still play public school sports here.) Robert just thought he had retired from his illustrious Little League Coaching Career, (last in the league, 2 years in a row) but then the call came from the Babe Ruth coach requesting his assistance. So, now Kory is returning, Dad is coaching, and Cooper, who had decided to opt for tennis this time around, is now playing – all on the same team. Say a little prayer for the A’s – both coaches and players could use a little ego boost.
Last night was Kory’s first high school game. He got to start at second base, and in the first inning made a great double play! He also had some good hits and more outs at second. This kid never ceases to amaze us. He is now about 5’6 and weighs over 150 lbs, teaches himself (for the most part) Algebra 2, runs the powerpoint at church, and on his week off from school this week was found reading Citizen Soldiers by Stephen Ambrose in his spare time.
(Loves war history – especially WW2.)
Last night’s game went in to extra innings, and then we ended up losing by 2. The opposing team had a player with only one arm. I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that he was their best player – hitting the ball like crazy and then making heroic, diving outs in center field. When people caught on to the fact that he was using only one arm, it was quite an inspiration.

I’ve always enjoyed being at a baseball game. I know it has so much to do with the time of year. The sun was out, the sandals were on, my cheeks got pink, and iced coffee and chocolate were involved.

Happy Spring!

Holy Week – Passover Grace

Been thinking about grace in the last year more than ever before. Been dependent on it more than ever before. Even though this verse was committed to memory in my college days:

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:8-9

Logically, I could tell you that our works, no matter how benevolent and selfless, could NEVER earn us an eternal relationship with Christ; but my heart and body did not necessarily follow through with that logic. They kept working and working and striving and striving and thinking and thinking and planning and planning and staying up late and making one more list and cleaning one more room and preparing one more Bible study…..and, you get the picture. (You’ve probably done the same thing.) And never feeling satisfied or done. I think I thought it was all up to me…that all plates keep spinning, that everyone around me be OK, that my kids get educated and trained in all areas, and have all the appropriate experiences, and the earth remain on its 23.44 degree axis – and, of course, that I earn some favor with God by doing all of these righteous and responsible things.
And then He sort of stopped me in my tracks, and I couldn’t go anymore. All that will and determination and self-sufficiency suddenly disappeared, and I got tired. And weary. And depressed over being tired and weary.

And it was just as He, in His truly amazing grace, had planned for me. For my benefit. For my growth. So that I would rest and depend on Him. And I’m seeing that grace everywhere now – and more clearly than I was able to before.

I’m seeing it in His complete provision for my recently divorced sister who almost overnight (and through no fault of her own) went from stay-at-home-mom with kids in private schools, to single working mom trying to make ends meet. His grace has been SO abundant in her life. Every time I pick up the phone, she’s telling me another miraculous story about His grace – and NOT His condemnation, which I think she secretly expected.

I’m seeing it in a dear friend’s life who recently and very reluctantly chose to leave an abusive marriage. I’m watching Him surround her with friends and support and strength, even joy – and again, amazing stories of provision. And I’m seeing Him accomplish transformation in her husband’s heart which was something many had lost hope could occur.

Last night, we observed the Passover with our weekly Bible study group. This meal was and is how the Jewish people remember and give thanks to God for delivering them from their enslavement in Egypt. You eat things like raw horseradish, and parsley dipped in salt water to taste the bitterness of the slavery and the tears that accompanied that life. You also eat bitter herbs (radicchio, here) dipped in kharoset (apples, dates, apricots, walnuts, cinnamon – to represent the brick mortar the Israelites used to build for the Egyptians) to remind yourself “that even the most bitter of circumstances can be sweetened by the hope we have in God.” (from the Messianic Passover Haggadah, p. 16) The roasted lamb shank is to remember the lamb’s blood that covered the doorposts of the Israelites’ homes protecting them from the angel of death and the plague of the death of the firstborn. The matzah and the wine, to the Christian, now symbolize the body (pierced and striped) and blood of Jesus. This was the same meal that Jesus had with His disciples on the night He was betrayed.

And as we ate the meal and read through the Haggadah, I kept thinking about the grace in the story of the Israelites being rescued out of slavery. God accomplished it all. He sent Moses. He sent plagues. He provided a way to escape final judgment and death – through the slain lamb’s blood. He parted the Red Sea. He fed them in the wilderness. He led them by a cloud or flame. They needed only to heed instructions, follow Him, and receive protection and provision. They did not have to “work” for it. And they weren’t the most impressive or diligent folks, but rather stubborn and disagreeable. Still He led them. Still He loved them. They definitely did nothing to earn it.

Now, one of the difficult parts for me is that He did create us for “good works.” (See above Ephesians verse.) So, isn’t anything “good” that I do going to be empowered by Him? Won’t He be so pleased with my diligent and tireless efforts? Doesn’t He reward those who earnestly seek Him? (I love the word “earnest.”) Surely my kids will turn out great, my marriage will grow in intimacy, we will all stay healthy, and God will bless us abundantly because of all my “good works.”

The “catch,” I think, is in the two phrases: “which God prepared beforehand,” and “that we should walk in them.” They were works He chose, not that I came up with on a mile long to-do list. And all I have to do is walk in them. And since I’ve been an on-again-off-again runner for the last 20 or so years of my life, I know that walking doesn’t require as much effort or lung power as running. So, walk in the ones He prepared beforehand.

Still that can be difficult to distinguish from my own very high standards and expectations, but when He stopped me in my tracks last year, I think He also gave me a physical sense of when I am “working” beyond what He “prepared in advance.” I simply can’t do some things sometimes. Oh, I still accomplish quite a bit in a day or a week – maybe even more than the next person, but I’m beginning to be more acquainted with His voice – sometimes through the simple feeling of inability…I just can’t. So, OK. I’ll stop. I ‘ll even watch a movie with Robert after the kids are in bed. And then I hear His approving voice. I still love and accept you when you stop to watch a movie – maybe I’m even more pleased when you do, because you are trusting me, resting in me, and not yourself.

Recently, it was pointed out to me that God created man and woman on day six. The seventh day was the day of rest. God was pleased with His creation. So pleased, that on their first full day of life, He granted them REST. He did not immediately put them to work, and when He did, it was enjoyable, fruitful work – for their pleasure.

Unfortunately, we now live in a fallen world, and our work is often fruitless and stressful. But, it is not required for salvation, and it will not earn us more love or approval from God than we already have.

And that is because of the marvelous work that was accomplished on the Cross that we’ll celebrate tomorrow on Good Friday. Jesus earns us complete favor and righteousness in God’s eyes. We no longer have to strive to earn it, which is the good news, because we never could have.

The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning was a book that the Lord used to help me more fully receive this truth…

“How long will it be before we discover we cannot dazzle God with our accomplishments? When will we acknowledge that we need not and cannot earn God’s favor? When will we acknowledge that we don’t have it all together and happily accept the gift of grace? When will we grasp the thrilling truth of Paul, ‘Someone is reckoned as upright not by practicing the law but by faith in Jesus’ (Galations 2:16)’

I still become “bewitched” like those “foolish Galations,” but I’m thankful for phone calls from my sister, nights like last night, days like tomorrow, and Resurrection Sundays to bring it all back to the truth. He loves me. I didn’t earn it. His favor was won by Jesus. I can rest in these truths – really rest and “cease striving” (Ps. 46:10)

Maybe even watch the Netflix DVD that arrived today without guilt!

Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:16