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7.29.2010

Bread Baking has Been Officially Delayed. . . News at 11

Well, I did try. I really did. I thought I was doing exactly what the directions and my mom had instructed me to do. But apparently yeast starter is made of fragile, finicky, and fallible creatures. I am not sure exactly what happened. I was feeding it every other day, but hadn't yet used any for baking (therein may lie the problem). However it is dead now, completely dead, and I am back to the beginning again. I will be trying again tomorrow with a new starter. Perhaps this one will live longer than it's predecessor. One can hope. It is a sad day, but any tips as to better my starter or if you know of my error, please let me know. For now, it's off to the store to buy yet another loaf of bread. *sigh*
Picture of Graveyard - Free Pictures - FreeFoto.comRest in peace first starter, and the way you smell, I'm a good mind to truly bury you. :)

7.27.2010

(Dis)Contentment

If you've never visited here before, you have no idea of what I'm speaking. But if you're a repeat reader, then you'll notice some changes in how the blog looks. I am happy with it for now, but be aware that I am easily distracted and will no doubt change it again, and again, and yet again.
The problem is that I hadn't given this much thought before, but what does my constant dissatisfaction say about me. I know there's nothing inherently wrong with change or making a change, and not even in desiring a change. Unless this leads to coveting. (See Exodus 20:17)
Does this include blog coveting? Perhaps wishing I had more time to devote, as others seem to, or that I had more wisdom to impart, or that I could have more followers (let's be honest, that's a big one in the blogosphere). What does this virtual discontentment say about me really?




Can I be truly trusting completely in God, and yet be discontented? I love this quote, as countless others do no doubt, by John Piper, "God is most glorified, when we are most satisfied in Him."   Am I truly satisfied in Him, when I desire constant change, constant new, something more? I think by definition this cannot be satisfaction. 
Now the question becomes, "Why am I not satisfied in Him?" 
Why isn't God enough for me? I do want to glorify Him. At least that's what I think and say, but what does this continual desire for the new, the different, the more say? If I take Mr. Piper's statement for what it says, then I have to say that I must either not truly wish to glorify God or that I don't desire Him as my satisfaction, and maybe both. 
"Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart,"-Psalm 119:2
Doesn't this Scripture point us to seek God for everything?
And when Christ was asked what was the greatest commandment, here's what He said, "And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment."-Matthew 22:37-38
I believe John Piper was right in saying that the greatest thing we could do for the glory of God was to seek complete satisfaction in Him. However seeking complete satisfaction and actually continually possessing it are two separate things, and until we are dead and in the very presence of God we cannot be fully satisfied. So, perhaps C.S. Lewis was right when talking about our desires leading to our dissatisfaction which leads us to God the only One who can satisfy our every longing. (If you haven't read it, I highly recommend C.S. Lewis's autobiography, "Surprised By Joy", where he goes into greater detail about this.) My discontentment with myself and my longing for something better can lead me to God. Of course after I get there, I will be shocked and frightened by His holiness, but nevertheless, I think we all long for Him somehow. 
If I weren't dissatisfied, I wouldn't seek God, but just because I am endeavoring to be satisfied in God, doesn't mean that my flesh won't fail and I will be discontent. 
"My soul longs for your salvation; I hope in your word. My eyes long for your promise; I ask, "When will you comfort me?""-Psalm 119:81-82. 
There is no hope apart from God, and for that knowledge I am eternally grateful to You, O God!

7.21.2010

Trying to Bake Bread

We eat a lot of bread at our house, mostly because sandwiches are an easy lunch when there are no leftovers to be had. And, in case you didn't know, my mom is one of the greatest bakers of bread who ever lived. I learned how to make bread from her, a little, I'm not as good at it, but I thought "Hey, what a great way to save a little money."
File:Jean-Fran├žois Millet (II) 005.jpgI'm not sure that I'll be able to keep it up, but I'm hoping to start baking our bread, all of it, in bulk and freeze it so we don't have to buy a loaf or more a week. I'm also hoping it will be a healthier alternative, as I can make it whole grain wheat.
My first attempt wasn't so great. It didn't raise well and the flavor and texture wasn't so good. I had used a packet of instant yeast, and I'm not sure if it was the yeast, the weather (my mom says humidity levels can greatly affect how it turns out), or the recipe I got online, or just me (I'm leaning towards the latter).
However, my husband has been so kind as to eat some of it without saying he was disgusted. And my mom gave me some advice. She suggested I make my own sourdough starter (it's the leaven). So, I followed, what I hope, is an easy recipe of 1/2 cup starchy water (I used water I drained after boiling potatoes, but you can use water after boiling pasta, or pineapple juice?, that's what the website said), 1/2 cup whole wheat flour and stir well in a jar, covered with a coffee filter attached with a rubber band, and I am waiting. (The site also suggested placing the jar in your oven with the light on to create the right atmosphere.)
This is what my starter looked like last night. (Yes, those are Shelby's paintings that adorn our kitchen wall, and the picture on the calender is of my sweet little nephew, Jackson. His mom so wonderfully and graciously makes everyone in our family a calendar each Christmas with pictures of all the grandkids on them. God has truly blessed me with wonderful sisters-in-law.)
You have to feed your starter about every twelve hours until the yeast starts to make bubbles. Here's what my starter looks like this morning after it's 5:30 feeding (above). And it went back into the oven with the light only on.
Here's what I saw when I opened it a few minutes ago! Are these bubbles?!? Wow, okay I'm going to have to call mom to see what to do now. Sounds like bread will be baking within a week. Mmmm. Let us hope for better results, for now though, I'll have to buy at least one more small loaf at the store :(
Happy Baking, everybody!

7.08.2010

Mrs. Mary Klepper : )

I felt compelled this morning to thank God for and publicly recognize someone: Mrs. Mary Klepper. Mrs. Klepper was my Sunday School teacher from about the age of 7 to twelve or thirteen. We went to a small church, and my own mother had been the only other Sunday School teacher I had until then. I remember thinking it was a tremendously big deal to go to Mrs. Klepper's class, because that's where my older brother had been and my little brother would not be, at least for a little while.
When I started in her class, there were literally only two kids in the class, including me, and the other was her grandson. I realize that no one here, or very many places for that matter, will know or remember such a lady, but God used her faithfulness to have a big impact on my life at an early age.
You see, Mrs. Klepper's class was very different from Sunday School classrooms then, and definitely now. We were elementary age children, but we didn't do crafts every week, we didn't do silly songs or dances, and there was absolutely no place for us to make a lot of noise. I realize in stating this that some people will think that I am crazy in praising such a woman who obviously didn't understand that such young children needed constant stimulation to help them learn anything, but I think Mrs. Klepper was wise beyond this world.
The main focus of Mrs. Klepper's class was always the Word of God. We read it, even when we weren't very good readers. We memorized it, even when I would've rather done anything else. We weren't allowed to talk about the Bible in any way that might be irreverent or silly. And she was never afraid to discipline or worse *gulp* send you to your parents in the adult class and let them discipline you. (This latter part was often what happened to me, and there was seemingly nothing that could make my parents more upset than for me to be sent out of my class and into theirs in front of all the adults, so that I could tell them why I was being sent out, and inevitably be spanked on the church steps.)
What I remember most about Mrs. Klepper was that she was not a dynamic personality and didn't exactly draw people to her. For the most part, she was timid, quiet, and modest. She was not a gifted teacher, nor did she have any kind of special methods for keeping our attention. As a matter of fact, I think what I admire most about her, is that we weren't pampered and she wasn't trying to captivate our attention. She was simply going to teach God's Word, and we were simply expected to give her and the Word our utmost attention and reverence. She came every week and taught so faithfully, even when I was such a terrible kid to have in class (I was constantly cutting up in class and being disrespectful in general).
I now honor and revere the fact that she at least didn't let on that she cared whether or not we wanted to be there or learn, we were simply expected to do it. I know that to most people, especially now, this seems foreign and even cruel, but I learned more in her class than anywhere else in my young life about the most important thing I could learn from, The Holy Bible.
I think if there is anything I can learn from this precious saint's persevering, it's that when it comes to God's Word we must be reverent and we mustn't allow our children to be otherwise. I also can see how the things we think may be enabling children to learn more easily, especially in church, may actually be hindering learning and distracting or confusing them about the things of God. We can send mixed messages to our kids if we're not careful.
It's hard to convince anyone that the high and holy truths of God are important and real and serious if you're presenting it in a clown suit. So often I see in myself, and in others, the temptation and the giving in to that temptation, to try to make the Word of God more exciting or interesting to kids by entertaining them. My own daughter and I started, by accident, to read through the entire Bible together, and I've been shocked at what she's learned from it. We don't skip any passages, and as of last night, we finished the book of Habakkuk.
I have yet to find a text where Jesus, the perfect teacher, had to dress up in silly clothes or play games or do crafts in order to get His audiences attention, and there were often children in that audience (Matthew 10:19; Mark 19:14; Luke 18:16).
There is nothing more serious than where your soul will spend eternity, and the understanding that an eternity in hell is the only just and right judgement for us all. Simply telling our kids that Jesus loves them is leaving out some of the most important things, like, sin, death, righteousness, hell, and the real reason we love Jesus, His atoning death on the cross. Without an understanding of our sinful nature and our inability to please God in it, our kids will have a misunderstanding of the true gospel. Yes, Jesus loves me, but why does that matter?
The entire book of Proverbs is for instruction from childhood to adulthood.
Kids are capable of a lot more than we often require of them. It wasn't too long ago that everyone in church, regardless of age, was expected to sit quietly and give the preaching of the Word of God their full attention. Kids don't need more entertainment, they get that everywhere else 24 hours a day. What they need is the same thing that all who are lost to salvation need, they need the gospel, pure and
uncensored.
The best example I can think of in Scripture as to how we are to educate our kids is in Deuteronomy 6:6-9: "And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates."
This is not to say that we have to find ways to be more entertaining and creative in the things of our everyday lives, it simply means that we are faithful at all times and in all things, using the opportunities that are given to us constantly.
I'm not advocating that we can't be creative or sing songs or use any of the arts either in teaching or in worship for that matter, but what I am advocating is a deliberate seriousness to what we are doing. And a clear differentiation between everything we do to teach our children about the things of God in order that they may see the reality and seriousness of the nature of God. I want my daughter to know that what we do at church is different that what we would do on a play date or at a library kids group. I want her to see a distinction between the things of God and the things of the world, and I want her to know that this is real and is the most important thing to her parents and to her.
I'm sure Mrs. Klepper has long since passed away, the last I heard of her was when I was in college and she was in a nursing home then, but I'm also sure that she is in the very presence of her Lord and Savior now. Let's endeavor to do as Mrs. Klepper did, and simply be faithful and reverent as we teach all of God's Word and leave the instilling of that Word in the lives of the young ears around us to the work of the Holy Spirit. Remember, we can't save ourselves, let alone anyone else, so why not just be serious with your kids about things that are truly serious, and trust God for the saving of their souls. And may we always remember what Jonah had to find out the hard way, "Salvation is of the LORD." (Jonah 2:9b)

7.03.2010

Tales from the Potty...

Well, we do wear big girl panties during the day, but. . . . pull-ups at night. So far we are having fewer accidents during waking hours, but there are dry nights and the-entire-bed-is-soaked-you're-taking-a-bath nights. Praise God for the progress we have made so far, but we are down to a hand full of pull-ups, and so far I haven't been able to make myself buy any more (I HATE pull-ups!). You see, we tried the potty bootcamp with our daughter last September and she was going great after three days of training. I thought, "Wow, this really worked, we'll be in panties everywhere in no time!" Someone should've slapped me back to my senses. After two weeks of doing well, we went to the beach for a week-long vacation, the first vacation my husband and I had taken since we got married and had a three day honeymoon in Gatlinburg (yes, it was a little redneck, lol). So, I thought we'll try this great product called pull-ups. After all, they're training pants, and she could wear them so we wouldn't have to worry about accidents in the beach house we had rented or on the long car ride to and from the beach.
After a week in pull-ups at the beach, we were almost completely un-potty-trained : (
But I didn't give up. Besides, she was having so many accidents now that I couldn't bear the thought of taking them off of her. Fast forward to January and her two-year-old check-up, and I talked with her pediatrician about it (she happens to be a mother of four), and she said, "Pull-ups are only good for long car trips and night accident prevention. They are just a diaper that leaks."
She then suggested that I try her without them, and a friend of mine said that someone she knew had dealt with the same problem, and the only way they got past it was to let their child go naked, because they won't pee on themselves naked.
I pondered these things, and worried about our house which is mostly carpeted, but noticed that Shelby never peed on herself when I got her out of the bathtub at night even though she usually used the potty immediately afterwards.
Well, in February I decided to try letting her go bottomless, but I put long dresses on her, because we were afraid she'd grow up to be a nudist (yes, we're that crazy and conscientious), lol. And she did great. We had the occasional accident at first, especially when we were tired or extremely distracted, but she really got it.
However, and I think this is due to my excessive use of pull-ups, she still thought that if she had anything on at all, including the thinnest panties that she should be able to poop and especially pee in them :(
After a few months of wearing nothing on the bottom and no accidents when we went bottomless (we were still wearing pull-ups when we went out or to other people's homes), I had bought and thrown away enough pull-ups to last a life time, and hope to be rid of them forever soon. I just put panties on her (with the most absorbent easy to get down pants I could find), and resolved to not look back no matter how often we peed in the floor. (I am currently looking for a good carpet steamer).
Shelby has been in panties now everywhere during the day since before Mother's Day!!!! :D
However, our nights are still hit and miss, and as I stated above we are running low on pull-ups for night. I am very tempted to buy more, because, honestly I don't want to wake up every night and change the sheets and give her another bath. But, I'm afraid that as long as I allow her that dependance, she will never learn to go to the potty at night.
We are also having trouble going in time when we are around other kids or at places that she's enjoying too much (i.e. we've peed in our pants at the zoo, on the playground, outside at parties, outside at Vacation Bible School, in a children's museum, on playdates, etc.).
I am praying about it, and any insight you can give me on the topic will be greatly appreciated, preferably before we run out of pull-ups.