Thursday, November 8, 2012

Adding My Drop to the Ocean...

I just finished browsing several friends' positive and negative responses to the election. Some sound so depressed. This is a picture the Lord gave me a few months ago. Perhaps it will encourage: Our country, like all nations and empires that've risen and fallen before us, is a ship afloat on a sea He created. It began as something like Noah's ark, with God as general contractor and people listening and building according to His directions. But along the way people changed focus--nationalism overtook them and they began to take pride and glory for "their" workmanship--and our ship became the Titanic. Now it's sinking. In the broad scheme of the universe, we are like bacteria on the ship. From that perspective, does it really matter who the head bacteria is? There is really no man who can turn this situation around. I don't see anything in Scripture that promises that this nation will be preserved. Rather, we will reap justified consequences. If God wants to make this nation strong, He can, but I think we've passed a point of no return, and we've passed it in His perfect timing. Rather than putting our hope in the boat, and teaching our children to put theirs there, we need to practice putting our hope in the God of the boat and the sea. I think we're gonna end up going for a swim, and the map our kids are about to take charge of is going to look very different from what we grew up with,'s not a surprise to God. He's got a plan, and He's the perfect Lifeguard. ;~)

Saturday, September 1, 2012


It’s prob’ly early for most of you to think about this, but as our leaves begin to turn, my mind turns with them toward thoughts of cooler weather…autumn camping…sitting ‘round a campfire under the stars…and that special new star, announcing the birth of Christ. 

The Feast of Booths/Tabernacles/Tents begins in one month, October 1st.  Lord, I will be ready!!!
The hot weather this year has oppressed us.  It feels like God’s big thumb pressing down on us, tethering us to a place we do not want to be.  Temps in the nineties are nauseating, triple digits paralyzing.  Bear Bait comes home every night and thanks God for the A/C, then begs for rain.  The kids go outside 2-3 times/day, but only to go to the lake. During the hottest days in July, I happened to read The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly.  Calpurnia begins:
“In 1899, we had learned to tame the darkness but not the Texas heat.”
Her story made me incredibly thankful to be living in 2012! 
Yet as the changing season woos me now into a state of reflection, I perceive that the heat and oppression have not been in vain, nor was God’s intent to leave us feeling impotent.  Rather, His purpose has been to:  s-l-o-w   u-s   d-o-w-n…  Which has been scary…  Twenty-first century 40-somethings do not find slowing down to be terribly comfortable!  We're talkin' Midlife Crisis here!
Eventually our discomfort has turned us toward God…for where else do we have to go? 
At one point in the 7th Year study, I was directed to evaluate my “self-talk,” to see if what I tell myself matches what God says about me.  For two weeks I sincerely tried to evaluate, but discovered nothing profound until one night my son asked me what I was doing in the morning, and I responded: “I’m going for a run.”  Suddenly it dawned on me that my self-talk usually doesn’t capture the truth that God is always with me.  It was not I who was going out for a run…it was we.  And so we went running the next morning…  And guess what!  It changed our lives!  Thinking “in the we” has been a whole new exciting adventure since then!
So we have slowed, and then we have turned (which, if you’re going to turn, it is often best to slow down first), and from this grueling rough patch we’ve gained skill in acknowledging God’s presence. Then a few weeks ago the other shoe dropped when we attended a funeral and learned that to comfort actually means “to go forth bravely together.”  God’s Spirit is our Comforter.  This reminds us it’s not His will for us to resolve our challenges alone using just the brains He gave us.  Rather, He wants to go through the journey WITH us…together.  Yoked.  Immanuel.
Like a breath of crisp autumn air, these truths bring us an exhilarating sense of freedom!
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”    —Proverbs 3:5-6
God meets us where we are.  However and whenever you celebrate the coming of the Light of the World, we hope you feel blessed by the treasures He’s given you this year!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Lessons from an Arctic Willow

For the past few weeks in my reading, my time with the Lord, and through The 7th Year study, I've become conscious of a new perspective God wants to give me.  The Holy Spirit has gently revealed this truthful picture:  "Lattice, some of my children feel secure thinking of Me as their safety net, then balk when they see that I intend to lead them through a refining fire.  But you, My are much more secure.  You tend to light the fire, enthusiastically jump into it, then invite Me to get in with you!"  (No wonder half my relatives think Christianity is crazy, huh?!)

What can I say?  He's right!  I have always preferred masterminding and lighting prescribed burns to putting out catastrophic wildfires!  ;~)

His point, though, is that while I am secure in His planning, I struggle with His pacing.  So these weeks, the Lord is retraining me--restraining my habit to anticipate His next move, then just roll up my sleeves and dive in and do it.  His training method surprises and intrigues me.  For instance, last week when I was out running intervals (running is not something I love or am good at, and I particularly don't like running intervals, but sometimes it's time...), as I looked ahead and anxiously tried to anticipate where I'd speed up and where I'd slow down, or which way I'd go at the next intersection, I suddenly became aware of God's presence, remembered that "I" was really "we," and the Lord murmured consolingly, "Don't fret.  Don't anticipate.  I'll tell you when it's time..."  You know what?  Running seemed a lot easier this way,!...running with God?  It's a whole new concept...  Who'd've thought?

He's also changing my picture of our relationship.  Until we had the fire talk above, I sincerely used to see us as Him leading and me trying to follow, but not really follow from behind so much as understand Him to the point that I could anticipate and work for Him independently, like Gibbs and his NCIS team.  But now I understand why I felt like I was on my own so often, in spite of His assurance that He'd never leave me.  Since I was often jumping ahead, I lost sight of Him regularly.  I used to reassure myself by praying, "God, thank You that You're always with me wherever I go..." Or try to get myself back on track with, "God, please lead me follow..." But now I sense that a more accurate prayer is, "Father, please take me with You."

Immanuel means "God with us."  

Not "with" as in alongside us, but rather "with" as in in us.  

Not "with" as in me right here and you right there, but rather "with" as in one.

My 7th Year assignment this past week has been to:
  1. Prayerfully ask the Lord to show me how to transition my actions from originating in my head (my own reasoning, my plans, my pace) to originating from His heart.  
  2. Hold this prayer throughout the week with gentle attentiveness, not wrestling with it, but offering it as a continual question and willingness to learn.
  3. Take it with me each day as I go on a walk with the Lord outside, investing the walking time in noticing details of God's creation.

And here is one lesson I learned on a very short walk (just a few yards from my front door) as the Arctic Willow planted beside my driveway captured my attention and I paused to peer more closely:

All of its leaves do not bud out at the same time.  Look at the photo, taken yesterday, and notice that the top-most tips of each branch still look like barren sticks.  A few weeks ago, the leaves began budding at the base.  Next, they budded out in the innermost center of the plant.  Gradually, they've worked their way out and up.  I haven't researched the ecology/physiology of the plant, but it appears to me that the leaf-producing nutrients must work their way up from the roots.  As each section of stem sucks up nutrient-rich water, saturating it at a high enough level, the leaves bud.  I bet my friend Far Side of Fifty has a name for this phenomenon. (She went to school to learn horticulture.)

I bet God has a name for it, too.  But I don't think the name matters as much as the concept.  The concept is that God doesn't do or fix or adjust everything in our lives all at once.  He builds precept upon precept, a little here, a little there.  (Is 28:10)  There is a time for all things...and it's not time for the whole plant to be leafed out yet.  This concept is to be a source of rest rather than anxiety.  God's pace is perfect.

I do struggle with pace.  Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with too much to do, or sometimes I feel like not enough is happening or that good things aren't happening fast enough.  I feel stressed, confused, and wonder where God is.  It's not God, or lack of Him, that's the problem, though.  It's me, wrestling instead of being gently attentive, taking myself out of pace with Him.  Me, anticipating ahead of the nutrient-rich water that brings life and energy to the situation.

God's answer?  Be like an Arctic Willow.  The Arctic Willow is really a very patient plant.  It doesn't fret that all the other bushes around it have already finished leafing out and the lilac is even almost ready to bloom, while its still got half-bare branches.  The willow doesn't worry that it's being left behind, unable to keep up, shorter than all the other bushes, or that because of these differences its existence might be considered insignificant.  It just sits in the ground, soberly letting God's blueprint work out at His appointed pace.  The only part of a willow that really actively works is its roots, seeking, growing, and taking in life-giving nutrients.  Beyond that, God's plan just kind of happens to it.

What if we were to focus all our energy on seeking and growing our roots in our Life-giving, nutrition-rich God?  Doesn't He promise that as we became saturated in Him--abide in His Word, His Life-giving Water--our leaves will bud and fruit will blossom, offering sweet, abundant Life to everyone around us?  God will prune, and we'll produce more.  God will fertilize, and our fruit will become sweeter.  God will tend us, and we will be His crowning glory...without even having to work at it!

"Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him.  And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us."  
--1 John 3:24

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Oh, the Places You'll Go!

We've been done with school and de-cluttering for two weeks now.  This is the week in between high school graduation parties and our end-of-year dance recital, which is an annual graduation party in and of itself.  Recitals are exciting, thrilling...wonderful...  And once all the performances are over, we will feel like it's really summer.

For graduation gifts these days, I like to give Dr. Seuss' Oh, the Places You'll Go!  I hope the high school graduates really read them.  I hope they laugh...and dream.  Life is a special occasion.  May our dreams know no limits...

In the midst of all the exciting May events, last weekend a group of us homeschoolers also helped some friends move.  We got to talking about how many times we've each moved, and one mom asked me where-all I've lived.  Ha!  When, during our house closing, we had to list all our addresses for the past ten years,  I used a whole sheet of paper and our banker called me a gypsy!

The memory got me to thinking...

The Places I've Been

I grew up in northern CA and southern OR...
Went to college in MT
To study English and sociology while canoeing the Yellowstone

And alpine skiing at Red Lodge...
Married and moved to my husband's family's ranch in northeast WY
During a summer of great drought,

And lots of grasshoppers,
So no grass...
Thus, the cattle were shipped off to the feedlot early
(Everybody asks:  It was 40,000 acres; 10,000 owned, 30,000 lifetime lease, 16 miles long, 30+ miles across; 1,000 cattle and 750 sheep)
And we took off to AK
To make big money for school by sliming salmon...
For the next few years, it was WY...AK...WY...AK
Back and forth between college in WY (where I now majored in geography)
And salmon (where I packed and shipped frozen filets, loved shoveling shaved ice, and spent my free time picking fish scales off my arms),
Until we ran out of school money and moved back onto the ranch
To help with the cattle and raise 360 of our own sheep.
I liked moving and branding the cattle,
And buying and raising sheep,
But not with my husband or his father.
Thank God for the neighbors...
At the same time,
I worked in the office at the local bentonite plant for three years,
And then went to work for the USFS, 

Inventorying timber and fighting fires,
Which I loved...

But my husband hated.
We divorced.
I trained and fought fires for one more season in the Black Hills,

Where I met my future HE (Husband Extraordinaire!),
Then moved to ID to live with my sister while
Working as secretary and teacher's aid for forestry professors
And finishing my bachelor's degree,
A very strong degree in general studies,
With plans to hurry up and start a Master's in fire science...
(So I could write curriculum and teach wildland fire mgmt/ecology...)
Then moved to MN and married my HE, Bear Bait.
Colleges in MN were not willing to work cooperatively with U of I
And we could not leave Bear Bait's mom and younger siblings,
So we managed apartments for a few months,
Then rented a basement apartment while we shopped for a home.

Which we found and bought
Just in time,
Because God promptly made us parents,
Then sent Bear Bait out as a suitcase steamfitter.
And while we've now had a home base for over a decade,

My gypsy days are still not over.
Until my mother-in-law, N, moved in with us four years ago,
The kids and I packed up our school supplies 
And traveled alongside of Bear Bait,
Coming home only for a few rooted, stationary meetings like
Church, dance lessons, wrestling practices, Scouting events, etc...
At the same time that N moved in with us,
Bear Bait "just happened" to be hired for jobs closer to home,
And THANK GOD!, because N's needs kept me on the road!
Doctors, hospitals, Mayo, Social Security office...all hours from our home.
God made me a caretaker,
A place I never expected to go,
But it was good...very good.
And now?
Now I am a dance mom of two young teens,
Which is like a soccer mom in that
Chauffeuring keeps the gypsy blood from boiling over,
But different in that every year
I get to watch the kids graduate!

Psalm 139:7-14 celebrates that our comings and goings need not be blind wanderings.  They can be joyfully led, securely guarded, and satisfyingly purpose-filled:

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,"
Even the night shall be light about me;
Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.
For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

Congratulations Graduates!!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Watch the Kids, Here They Grow!

Recently I did a study in which I listened to feedback from a wide variety of family and friends about what my faith looks like to them. One interesting observation I made from this study is how different my schedule looks to different people. To some people, I appear to be following God, going along keeping pace with Him as I love and serve my family. To others I appear to be overcommitted and anxious, seeking to please Him rather than resting in Him. This morning the Lord pointed out that what I tell people makes me sound really busy, especially to people who tend to stay home a lot more than we do. Often I even use the word "busy" to succinctly summarize our life to others. But what I really am, during this season each year, is just...gone.

We're really only doing 2-3 activities: finishing up a few academics, practicing for the play, and practicing for the dance recital. It's just that two of those activities require a large amount of time and commitment, so we have to say no to other extracurricular opportunities. Practices are scheduled around a lot of other people's schedules and stacked close together for our convenience, and they're not here in our home; rather, they're in another community a few miles away. To other people, when I explain that we're gone to a family gathering on Sunday afternoon plus practices and/or performances for the best parts of five days this week, that's a picture of "crazy busy."

But actually, if the observers were IN the picture, they'd find that what I'll be spending the bulk of my week doing is either having fabulous conversations w/my kids, or else just watching them! We'll be talking during the drives to and from town, and they'll be thrilling me by either mimicking favorite lines they've picked up from favorite shows or by starting discussions about all the right questions (the ones I've been hoping they'd someday ask ME first!)--about God, relationships, driving responsibly, managing money, etc... And I'll be watching them learn what to do in the play...or supporting them by helping their classmates run lines...and then watching them learn their choreography...which never gets old for me b/c it's part of their personal bend--one of the things God created them to do. No matter how many times I watch them practice a piece of choreography throughout the school year, the novelty never wears off. During most of the year I buy groceries and do errands during dance b/c it's the only day I'm in town, so I only catch little snippets of their class. But by this time in the year, they have extra practices so I have lots of chances to do errands, and can spend a lot more time at the studio, just watching, or taking pictures, or sometimes relating to the other dance moms.

So anyway, I say busy, and I guess I look and sound busy, but really...I'm just out havin' fun w/the kids! ;~)

"Along the bank of the river, on this side and that, will grow all kinds of trees used for food; their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. They will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine." --Ezekiel 47:12

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Counting Down the Ten Plagues

As we approach Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, a friend asked me to post ideas and recipes we've used to make our Messianic versions of these feasts come alive for our children. This year, Passover (beginning on Nisan 15 in the Hebrew tradition) will most likely coincide with sundown of April 6th on our Gregorian calendar. The Feast of Unleavened Bread starts immediately after and will come to an end at sundown on Sunday, April 14th.
We're not Jewish, so why Passover? Why lamb instead of ham? Why leaven-free crackers for a week? Why do we reenact the ten plagues, prepare the six elements, perhaps ask the four age-old questions, and actually celebrate a lack of bread for seven whole days???
Well...why did God institute the holiday in the first place?
For. The. Children.
God knew how to make His redemption story come alive for them!
Our family is so far removed from the birthplace of this holiday that we're still working to figure out how to celebrate it. If you're not sure what Passover has to do with Christ, a simple, beautiful piece written by Ann Voskamp will get you started here.
Leading up to the first Passover, God used ten plagues to demonstrate the reality of Himself and His power to the ancient Egyptians, who worshipped many false gods. Each plague demonstrated that the Egyptian gods were powerless, and that the Lord actually had power over all things. I'm going to use my space to briefly share how each plague illustrated this point, and some fun ideas/recipes to augment and lighten a Ten Plagues Countdown you could do with your kids. Many of the activities are adapted from the resource Biblical Holidays by Robin Sampson.
The Ten Plagues Countdown
(Begin nine days before Passover. Commemorate one plague each day. As noted, for some days, food preparation begins one day ahead of time.)
Plague #1: Blood "I will strike the water...and it will be turned to blood. ...There will be blood throughout all the land."
The Nile River was an incredibly important feature in the Egyptian culture—a main artery, or lifeline—and the Egyptians honored several false gods/goddesses as deities that controlled their fates by controlling the river. Freeing the Israelites from slavery began with God turning this lifeline into a real-life bloody cesspool, showing the Egyptians that HE was supreme over their lives. But His power to free did not end there. This was just the opening gambit. As we shall see, the Israelites' journey to freedom began with one blood covering, and ended with another. Today, we are still freed from sin through the blood covering foreshadowed by this historical event.
Suggested activity: Before your kids awake, use red berry juice or organic red food coloring to color the water in your toilets. Fill the bathroom sink with water and color it, also. Serve them red water (not sweetened or flavored) for breakfast. Continue offering this odd sensory experience for awhile. How does it make us feel?
Suggested foods: Red drippy things, like:
Strawberry Shortcake for breakfast
Beef hotdogs w/ketchup for lunch
Spaghetti with sauce for supper
Shirley Temples w/homemade grenadine syrup
Shirley Temples
· 1 bottle POM 100% pomegranate juice (or make your own by simmering seeds of two pomegranates in water to cover, stirring until juice sacs release juice, about 5 minutes. Strain juice through cheesecloth, squeezing cloth to express juice. Discard seeds.)(Note: A slightly modified recipe for pomegranate syrup is used in Plague #6. You may want to preview it ahead of time so you only have to purchase poms or the juice once.)
· equal amount organic cane sugar (measure juice)
· chilled lemon-lime soda or ginger ale
· maraschino cherries
Whisk juice and sugar in a medium heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Store in a stoppered bottle. To make Shirley Temples, add a tablespoon or so of syrup to iced lemon-lime soda or ginger ale. Stir gently and float a red maraschino cherry in glass.
Plague #2: Frogs "Moses said to Pharoah...WHEN shall I entreat for you...that the frogs may be...left only in the Nile? And he said, 'Tomorrow.'"
Tomorrow??? Put plastic, rubber, paper, or sticker frogs all over your house, including in your breakfast dishes. See if YOU would have wanted Moses to wait until "tomorrow" to ask God to remove them from YOUR house!
The Egyptians worshipped a false goddess of birth called Heqet. The head of this goddess was shaped like a frog's head, and frogs were considered sacred. People were not allowed to kill or harm them. Imagine having your house overrun by frogs that you consider to be sacred. With this plague, God showed the Egyptians that it was silly to worship creatures He had created, and that He was supernaturally in control of the limits and natural laws of reproduction.
Suggested foods:
· Frog Eggs (Combine tapioca pearls, apple juice, a little green food coloring, and remaining ingredients according to recipe on the tapioca box. Cool before serving.)
· Frog-Eye Salad (Make according to directions on the box of Acini de Pepe pasta, except stir a few drops of green food coloring into cream before whipping.)
Plague #3: Lice or Gnats "...‘Stretch out your rod, and strike the dust of the land, so that it may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt.’ ” And they did so. For Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod and struck the dust of the earth, and it became lice on man and beast. All the dust of the land became lice throughout all the land of Egypt.
This plague addressed the Egyptian worship of the false god Set, god of the desert (i.e., dust). It struck at the heart of all Egyptian worship, especially the priesthood, which was scrupulous about hygiene and ritual cleansing. An infestation of lice made them unable to worship their gods.
(Note: The exact insect in this plague is translated differently in different Bibles, usually as lice or gnats. For certain, it was a very tiny, pesky insect. Feel free to focus on lice one year, gnats another, etc.)
Suggested activity: Learn about lice and imagine how uncomfortable and inconvenient this plague would be. Use a paper punch on a plain brown paper bag to make as many little brown dots as possible. (Employ the kids' help for as long as you can keep their interest!) While you do this, watch a video together about the life cycle of lice and/or how to prevent/treat head lice (you might preview this 1940s explanation versus these modern updates here or this very informational Canadian video). Then let the kids scatter the "lice" over their heads and imagine how uncomfortable these itchy bugs could make them feel. Let them shake off the dots and help you vacuum or sweep.
Suggested foods: Foods with very grainy texture and appearance, to simulate tiny bugs. This is a good time to try a new quinoa or couscous recipe. On the other hand, there are absolutely no grains in this “grainy” dessert:
Nutty Lice Balls (grainy coconut sugar, ground almonds, and/or coconut flakes simulate "lice")
In a medium bowl, start with:
· ½ cup of organic creamy peanut or other nut butter
Stir in your choice of sweetener(s), mixing a variety if you wish, up to approx 1/2 cup total:
· coconut sugar (optional, but highly recommended for color and texture; drier and less sweet than other choices, so you may want to use 1/4 cup and then add some liquid sweetener; find where your store stocks organic sweeteners)
· organic maple syrup
· honey
In a separate small bowl, measure your choice of thickening agent(s), up to 1/2 cup:
· almond meal
· protein drink powder
· non-dairy creamer
· powdered milk
Into dry ingredients, whisk any of these optional ingredients:
· ½ teaspoon cinnamon
· ½ cup unsweetened flaked coconut, blended fine in food processor
· 1 tablespoon dark chocolate shavings (shave the edge of a candy bar with a potato peeler)
Combine dry mixture with nut butter, adding a little honey or syrup if the butter is too crumbly to stick together.
Line a cookie sheet with wax paper or parchment. On half of it, spread coconut and/or chocolate shavings out evenly. Shape butter mixture into 1" balls. Roll balls in shavings and place on unused half of lined cookie sheet. Refrigerate and enjoy. Makes approx. 12 treats.
Plague #4: Flies "...if you will not let My people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies on you and your servants, on your people and into your houses. The houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground on which they stand. And in that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, in which My people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there, in order that you may know that I am the LORD in the midst of the land. I will make a difference between My people and your people."
A difference. Separation. Compare with Ephesians 2:16-17...
This plague related to the Egyptian’s false god Uatachit, which may have been pictured as a fly. Scholars think this plague may have defiled the priest’s sense of hygiene in the same way as the plague of lice or gnats.
Suggested activities: Ahead of time, use a paper punch to make lots of small dots, this time out of plain white paper. Spread them around on your breakfast table and dining area floor before your kids awake. As the kids notice them, explain they represent baby flies (maggots). Watch videos to learn about the life cycle of flies, then talk about their important ecological role on the earth in balance with the importance of keeping flies off our food. As with the "lice" activity, let the children help you clean up the dots.
Curried Lamb & Rice (point out that rice LOOKS similar to baby flies, but doesn't wiggle!)
· 2 pounds lamb steak or roast, cut into 1" cubes (if lamb is unavailable or your family doesn't like it, substitute chicken)
· one large sweet yellow onion, coarsely chopped
· 5-6 large cloves garlic, pressed or minced very fine
· 1 tablespoon olive oil
· 1-2 cups chicken broth
· 1-2 teaspoons Thai Kitchen red curry paste (or another curry mixture you like)
· sea salt and pepper to taste
· 1-½ cups brown rice, steamed
Heat olive oil in large pan on medium-high until the oil flows freely when you swirl the pan. Add pressed garlic and stir for about 30 seconds, just until it releases its fragrance. Add onions and stir fry for 2-3 minutes, until they begin to change color. Pull onion/garlic mixture to the sides of the pan and add the meat to the center. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir fry until all is browned. Combine with onions and add most of the broth, reserving a few tablespoons. Add the curry paste to reserved broth and stir well, then add mixture to the meat/broth. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding a little liquid if it reduces too quickly. Sauce should thicken slightly as it reduces. Taste test and add salt and pepper as needed. Serve hot over warm rice. Serves 4.
Also on this day, begin preparing homemade chicken or turkey stock for tomorrow. In a crock pot, place a whole roasting chicken or several turkey pieces, and any extra chicken or turkey soup bones you’ve been saving. Add 1 carrot, 2 ribs celery, 1 whole onion, 2 bay leaves, and 2 teaspoons organic sea salt. Fill crock pot with filtered water and turn on high. After 2-3 hours, reduce to low heat and simmer overnight. In the morning, remove meat to a platter to cool. Then de-bone, cut into bite-sized chunks, and refrigerate. Cool stock and strain. Discard vegetables. Refrigerate stock so fat congeals on top. Discard fat and reheat stock when you’re ready to make homemade chicken soup.
Plague #5: Pestilence “Thus says the LORD God of the Hebrews: ‘Let My people go, that they may serve Me. For if you refuse to let them go, and still hold them, behold, the hand of the LORD will be on your cattle in the field, on the horses, on the donkeys, on the camels, on the oxen, and on the sheep—a very severe pestilence. And the LORD will make a difference between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt. So nothing shall die of all that belongs to the children of Israel.” ’ ”
The Egyptians worshipped a god and goddess of livestock, Apis and Hathor. This plague of pestilence killed Egyptian livestock, causing disease--"dis-ease."
Suggested activity: Gather all the stuffed animals around your house and turn them upside down so they look like they've died. In our house, we also run essential peppermint oil through our diffuser, as this is a scent we use as a preventive measure and to ease our symptoms of illness.
Suggested foods: What disses your ease? For this plague we prepare foods we commonly use to "ease our dis," like warm lemon-honey drinks, and homemade chicken soup with almond meal biscuits:
Warm Lemon-Honey Drink
Fill a mug ¾ full with very warm water. Add raw honey and fresh squeezed lemon juice to taste (up to 1 tablespoon per mug).
Lorri's Homemade Chicken Soup (Note: This recipe purposely does not include any pasta or grains.)
· Refrigerated chicken stock and chicken chunks
· 5-8 cloves garlic, pressed
· Any other vegetables you like in chicken soup, fresh or frozen (i.e., carrots, celery, onion, peas, green beans, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, kale, cabbage...)
· up to 1 teaspoon each of ground rosemary, sage, and/or basil
· few dashes cayenne pepper
· sea salt to taste
If vegetables are fresh, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in pan until oil swirls easily. Add garlic and saute for approx 30 seconds, just until fragrance is released. Add remaining vegetables and stir fry several minutes, until mushrooms release liquid and vegetables begin to caramelize.
Combine all ingredients in a large soup pot and heat on medium-high until contents begin to simmer. Reduce heat and allow to simmer 20 minutes to combine flavors. Taste test and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve hot with Almond Meal Biscuits (below).
Almond Meal Biscuits
· 2-½ cups blanched almond flour (aka, almond meal)
· ½ teaspoon sea salt
· ½ teaspoon baking soda
· ¼ cup organic cooking oil (olive, grapeseed, or coconut oil melted over low heat)
· ¼ cup organic maple syrup
· 2 large eggs
· 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, salt, and baking soda. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, syrup, eggs, and lemon juice. Stir the wet ingredients into the almond flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Drop the batter, in scant 1/4 cups 2 inches apart, onto the baking sheet. Bake 15-20 minutes, until golden brown or a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool briefly on baking sheet, then serve warm. These biscuits also freeze beautifully and make great quick snacks. Makes 8-10 biscuits. Recipe adapted from: The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook by Elana Amsterdam, copyright 2009, "Classic Drop Biscuits", pg 20.
Plague #6: Boils So the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Take for yourselves handfuls of ashes from a furnace, and let Moses scatter it toward the heavens in the sight of Pharaoh. And it will become fine dust in all the land of Egypt, and it will cause boils that break out in sores on man and beast throughout all the land of Egypt.”
The Egyptian goddess Sekmet was believed to have power over disease. They worshipped Sunu as the god of pestilence, and Isis as the goddess of healing.
Blech! I've had a rash of tiny itching boils on my wrist for over a week now—an allergic reaction to something—who knows what? Today, let your child dip a finger in red berry juice and dab it on his arm to simulate a skin boil. You might let him cover it with a band-aid. Research/explain what boils are, their common causes, how they feel, and what we do about them.
Suggested foods: Welcome your kids into the kitchen to help you prepare boiled foods (boiled eggs, boiled veggies such as cabbage, boiled soup...) Our suggested dessert is fancy "boiled" pears:
Poached Pears in Spiced Pom Syrup
In heavy medium saucepan, combine:
· 1 btl POM 100% pomegranate juice (or make your own by putting fresh pom seeds in small pot, cover w purified water, and simmer few min until seeds pop; cool & strain juice--see Plague #1 for more detailed directions...)
· 2 cups purified water
· 1-½ cups org cane sugar
· 4 cinnamon sticks
· 3-4 whole cloves
· several ½” strips orange peel (orange part only)
· 1 tablespoon quality vanilla extract
Simmer 25 minutes over med heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.
Meanwhile, prepare:
· 4 org Bosc pears, peeled, halved, and cored
Add pears to sauce and simmer until soft (about 25 min), turning pears frequently. Cool pears in syrup. Then remove and keep warm.
Strain syrup into clean saucepan. Simmer over med heat until reduced to desired thickness. Place pears in individual serving dishes and drizzle syrup over.
Can be served with Greek-style yogurt, plain or vanilla flavor, if desired.
Recipe adapted from: "Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta w/Poached Pears" by Bon Appetit, January 2010
Plague #7: Hail "The one among Pharaoh's servant who revered the word of the Lord made his servants/livestock flee into the houses; but he who paid no regard to the Lord left his servants/livestock in the field. Now the Lord said to Moses, 'Stretch out your hand toward the sky, that hail may fall on all the land of Egypt.'"
Ah, the power of choice! Perfect love and perfect justice, perfectly blended... Here God gives every Egyptian the choice to either listen to Him, or trust in Nut, their goddess of the sky, and Osiris, their god of crops.
Suggested activity: Discuss the relationship of love to justice, and the consequences of listening and obeying God (and parents) versus not. Then go outside and practice throwing cubed ice at a target.
Today's menu: Sweet Fruit 'n' Firm Ice Smoothies (perfectly blend your choice of fresh or frozen fruit, ice, vanilla, cinnamon and/or raw ginger, and a little sweetener; garnish w/fresh mint if you desire)...and "Hail Breakers" (white mini jaw breakers available at confectioneries.)
Plague #8: Locusts "Thus says the God of the Hebrews: ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me? Let My people go, that they may serve Me. Or else, if you refuse to let My people go, behold, tomorrow I will bring locusts into your territory. And they shall cover the face of the earth, so that no one will be able to see the earth; and they shall eat the residue of what is left, which remains to you from the hail, and they shall eat every tree which grows up for you out of the field. They shall fill your houses, the houses of all your servants, and the houses of all the Egyptians—which neither your fathers nor your fathers’ fathers have seen, since the day that they were on the earth to this day.’”
Here again, God shows the Egyptians that their god of the crops, Osiris, is powerless, and He is truly in control.
Suggested activities: Read Chapter 25, " The Glittering Cloud," in On The Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder. You could also print images of grasshoppers, cut them out, and scatter them around the house as you did frogs. Note: This is messier and not as much fun as the toy frogs, though. Alternatively, you could study the life cycle of grasshoppers.
GF (but decadent) Grasshopper Bars
Preheat oven to 325 deg F
GF Flour Mix
· 2 parts org rice flour
· 2/3 part potato starch
· 1/3 part tapioca flour
Whisk together and set aside. (Bob's Red Mill produces all three flours. They're usually in the health food section of larger grocery stores.)
1st Layer:
· 2 cup org sugar or adjust amount for sweetener of your choice
· 1 cup org coconut oil, melted via very low heat
· 4 org eggs
· ½ cup org unsweetened cocoa powder
· 1 cup GF flour mix (above)
· 1 cup nuts, chopped (optional)
· 1 teaspoon vanilla
Cream first 3 ingredients. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Spread batter into greased 9x13 pan. Bake 30 min at 325 deg F. Cool well.
2nd Layer:
· 1 cup cashews
· 1 cup + 1 tablespoon water, divided
· 1/3 cup org maple syrup
· ¼ teaspoon peppermint extract (I use 5 drops Imani essential peppermint oil)
· 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
· green food coloring (optional)
In blender, puree cashews, 1 cup water, syrup, and peppermint on highest setting for 1-2 minutes. Place mixture in a saucepan and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Continue to boil and stir for one minute, then decrease heat to simmer while preparing arrowroot paste. In a small bowl, dissolve arrowroot powder in remaining tablespoon of water, stirring to make a paste. Increase heat to high and add arrowroot paste to cashew mixture, whisking constantly for about one minute, until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and cool well. Spread evenly on top of 1st layer. Refrigerate.
3rd Layer:
· 2/3 cup dairy-free chocolate chips or 1 bar (3.5 oz.) org chocolate (dark or milk)
· 6 tablespoons org coconut oil
· 1 teaspoon vanilla
Melt all ingredients together and drizzle over 2nd layer. Return to refrigerator to set before cutting.
Verrrrry rich! You can cut 'em small! ;~)
Recipe modified from: and The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook by Elana Amsterdam, copyright 2009, "Creme Patissiere", pg 126.
Plague #9: Darkness "Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Stretch out your hand toward the sky, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even a darkness which may be felt.' ...They did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place for three days, but all the sons of Israel had light in their dwellings."
Here God demonstrates His supremacy over four Egyptian deities—two gods (Ra and Horus, both sun gods) and two goddesses (Nut and Hathor, goddesses of the sky). To the Egyptians, Ra (or Re), the sun god, was the supreme god. In this plague, God shows HE is supreme over all things, including light and darkness.
Suggested activity: Tape brown paper bags over your windows to eat lunch in the "dark" today. Study the sport of spelunking and, if possible, visit a cave where you can turn out the lights for three minutes (one minute for each day of the plague). Alternatively, study the art of making chocolate and learn about the differences between dark, milk, and white chocolate. ;~)
Suggested foods: Blackened fish or chicken (try Big Daddy's recipe for Blackened Tilapia here!) Organic dark chocolate... If you don't want to buy an expensive candy bar, try this recipe:
Supreme Dark Delight
· ¼ cup org unsweetened cocoa powder
· 2 tablespoons org maple syrup
· 1 tablespoon org coconut oil, melted via very low heat
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Combine cocoa powder and maple syrup. Add melted oil and stir briskly to combine well. Pour mixture into four even circles on parchment paper. Refrigerate 30 minutes to set. Peel off parchment paper and serve immediately. Makes four 99-calorie servings.
Plague #10: Striking down of the firstborn son And the LORD said to Moses, “I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt. Afterward he will let you go from here. When he lets you go, he will surely drive you out of here altogether. Speak now in the hearing of the people, and let every man ask from his neighbor and every woman from her neighbor, articles of silver and articles of gold.” And the LORD gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians... Now the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, “This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you. Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: “On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household. And if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take it according to the number of the persons; according to each man’s need you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year... Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight. And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it. Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire—its head with its legs and its entrails. You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire. And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD’S Passover. “For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. “So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance.
Not only did this plague result in great heartbreaking loss to the Egyptians, but here again God showed Himself supreme to the Egyptian’s belief system. Egyptians worshipped Min and Heqet, the god and goddess of reproduction and childbirth. They worshipped Isis, who was supposed to be a goddess who protected children. And Pharaoh’s son, himself, was considered to be a god. Through this plague, the Lord not only humbled Pharaoh, but firmly demonstrated supremacy over everything Pharaoh expected to protect him and his country.
Suggested activities: Simulate spreading lambs' blood on the lintel of your door by having your children help you tack a red ribbon up one side, across the top, and down the other side. Explain that this represents the blood of the Passover lamb that the Israelites brushed on their doors as a covering, a protection from the last plague. Also explain that the Israelites continued to sacrifice a lamb at Passover each year. However, Jesus, God’s Son, became the final Passover Lamb when He willingly gave up His life, using His blood to cover everyone’s sins, to make us right with God. We don’t have to sacrifice lambs and brush their blood on our doors anymore. But we DO want to remind ourselves each year of what God did, to help us understand the way He does things and so people don’t forget.
In preparation for the Feast of Unleavened Bread, let your children help you remove all the leaven (yeast, sourdough starter, baked goods like bread/bagels/cakes, baking soda, baking powder, etc.) from your house, except hide a few small pieces of bread for the leader of your home to search for and remove later this evening. Explain that in this case, leaven symbolizes sin, and like sin, removing leaven takes care and close observation. Like sin, sometimes we find it in the most unexpected places (such as the baking soda that might be in our toothpaste or laundry soap), and sometimes we really don’t want to give it up (like if we’ve just stocked up on bread or yeast to make bread…). To make a big impression for a small investment, have these items on hand for the leader to use for the leaven search:
  • Small paper bag, like a lunch bag
  • Wooden spoon you don’t need anymore, or a thin, flat stick such as a tongue depressor
  • Large, sturdy feather (nothing fancy) or cardstock cut and decorated like a feather
  • Kitchen matches
To conduct the search for leaven, the leader goes about the house looking for the hidden scraps of bread. When a scrap is found, don’t touch it! Rather, use the feather to sweep it onto the wooden spoon, then collect it in the paper bag. Sweep any crumbs into the bag, also. Once all the scraps have been collected, put the feather and the wooden spoon in the bag, also. Take the bag and the matches outside to a safe place to start a fire. Set the bag on the ground and light it. Discuss again how the bits of leavened bread represent sin in our lives, and explain that as we confess our sins to God, He frees us from them—erases them from our lives—like the fire “erases” the bread.
Also let your kids help you design a special table setting and prepare for a special Passover Seder meal tonight.
Foods for a Passover Seder:
· Dried fruits and nuts
· Olives
· Apples
· Matza (unleavened crackers)
· Grape juice or watered down Kosher Passover wine
· Salted water (in dipping dishes)
· Parsley or other green herb (few fresh sprigs)
· "Bitter" herbs such as celery ribs, or green peppers cut into large wedges, to serve as eating utensils
· Horseradish
· Charoset (a mixture of minced apples, nuts, and spices)
· Roasted Leg of Lamb
If you're interested in looking at our kid-friendly Passover Seder program, including preparation instructions and a script for the evening, leave me a comment.