Friday, March 28, 2008

Sargasso Sea

I am a healthy lifestyle wimp. I'm not sure if the greater weakness lies in the constant underlying hunger for chili dogs and Fritos or the price of organically grown non-genetically modified foods. In addition to the fact that I'm not ready to sell my house and live in a tent in order to eat organic free-range eggs, I am also extremely skeptical of most health gurus because they all seem to have "overwhelming scientific evidence" that is in complete opposition to each other's research. Based on my own observations alone, mortality rates are still at 100% and I'm positive that avoiding all trans-fats is not going to change that future reckoning for my family.

So what's the problem? Well I'm perfectly happy living in my world of health as defined by the advertising agencies until I open up a book like this--

Then I start to panic. Not only are our foods all wrong, but my cutting boards, soap, and laminate flooring are poisoning us. All those factoids that my health-conscious friends have shared with me flood back into my head. Help!!!

"Get ahold of yourself, Saralyn!"

I need to do what I can to preserve the health of my family, and it is not up to the FDA, the food corporations, or the health gurus to define what is right and good for us. Navigating the sea of information out there is arduous. I don't know who to believe and I don't have the financial resources to do all of what anyone suggests, but I need to start somewhere.

I'm thankful for the calming affect of people like Monica who blogged about her Organic Food Dilemma. I'm grateful for the many books out there on organic gardening--something we're planning to do in abundance this year--and those on organic housekeeping (the one above is quite informative). And I'm resting in the fact that God is caring for us and already knows what will happen to us in the future, earth-friendly laundry detergent or not.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Mark

We are not defined by
our children's educations
our chosen vocations
whether or not the veggies in our ice boxes are pesticide-free and locally grown.

We are not defined by
the sizes of our families
the denominations of our churches
whether or not a seam runs from ankle to ankle on our clothes.

We are not defined by
the versions of our Bibles
the styles of our hair
whether or not we nursed or delivered our babies at home.

Jesus said, "by this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another," John 13:35.

May God and my sisters forgive my impertinence, my self-righteousness, and my lack of love for those who bear His image, not mine!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Ephesians 2:1-10

And you were dead in the trespasses
and sins in which you once walked,
following the course of this world,
following the prince of the power of the air,
the spirit that is now at work in the sons of
disobedience—among whom we all once lived
in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the
desires of the body and the mind, and were
by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love
with which he loved us, even when we were dead
in our trespasses, made us alive together with
Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised
us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly
places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he
might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in
kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you
have been saved through faith. And this is not your
own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works,
so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God
prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

In my place

Man of Sorrows! what a name
For the Son of God, who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Guilty, vile, and helpless we;
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
“Full atonement!” can it be?
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Lifted up was He to die;
“It is finished!” was His cry;
Now in Heav’n exalted high.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

When He comes, our glorious King,
All His ransomed home to bring,
Then anew His song we’ll sing:
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

~ Philip Bliss

Friday, March 21, 2008


From Living the Cross Centered Life, by C. J. Mahaney:

Let me tell you who I most identify with.

I identify most with the angry mob screaming, "Crucify Him!"

That's who we should all identify with. Because apart from God's grace, this is where we would all be standing, and we're only flattering ourselves to think otherwise. Unless you see yourself standing there with the shrieking crowd, full of hostility and hatred for the holy and innocent Lamb of God, you don't really understand the nature and depth of your sin or the necessity of the cross.

As the shouts and screams from the mob grow in volume, what's it like for our Lord to look out upon these people? Even if you can't recognize yourself among the angry faces, or distinguish your own strident voice ... He can. And in response to those sinful shouts and curses from you and me, Jesus yields to the sentence of death....

When we begin to grasp that we joined that mockery — that we are to blame for the Savior's death — we start to understand the seriousness of our sin.

But convicting you of sin is not my ultimate purpose here; rather, I want to convince you of grace. For when you're deeply aware of your sin, and of what an affront it is to God's holiness, and of how impossible it is for Him to respond to this sin with anything other than furious wrath — you can only be overwhelmed with how amazing grace is.

Only those who are truly aware of their sin can truly cherish grace.

I picked up this quote from an article by Carolyn McCulley entitled Cherish Grace which describes the Crucifixion from the perspective of Mary Magdalene. Take a few moments to read it; you'll be glad you did.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Isaiah 53

Who has believed what they heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.

He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned every one to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.

By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?

And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for sin,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.

Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Labor Day

I am a firm believer in child labor. Not only does it help keep our house tidy, but when my kids are employed in meaningful service they have overwhelmingly better attitudes than when left to entertain themselves in hour upon hour of free time. We develop a camaraderie born of common accomplishment and respect for work done. Our home is happier when we are busy little bees.

Yet despite my affirmation of faith in child labor, I had again slipped back into the "Mom does it all and the kids just have fun" mode, which always degenerates into "Mom's really ticked and nothing gets done".

Let's face it even when you're on top of the housekeeping, everything can go downhill in a matter of hours, maybe even minutes. (Whoever said the world's in a state of continual improvement hasn't seen our family room after an afternoon of free-play.) But when you haven't made the littles toe the line on picking up after themselves and being active members of the household for even a short amount of time they quickly turn into very untidy selfish little beasts!

My poor husband was tired of having to get out of the car and move all the bikes and scooters to pull into the garage. He was tired of having to hurdle the boots and coats once he shoved open the door. I was tired of going to bed tripping over mounds of Legos and getting up searching for the coffee pot amid the stacks of school books and art papers. And we were both extremely irritated at the bickering and complaining that was increasingly flowing out of our children's mouths. This was the week to pull in the slack and get back to work.

A few years back a friend of mine gave me a copy of a chore chart called My "Check Me Out" List. It is the best chart I've seen because it not only asks the child if he's accomplished his tasks, but how his heart was in the process. It asks both "Did I make my bed neatly?" and "Did I guard my tongue (words)?". "Did I pick up all my clothes and things?" and "Did I honor and obey my parents?". We've modified the chart to suit our family's needs and have affixed one for each child on the bedroom doors. If you'd like one for your family, email me and I'll send one to you.

We've worked hard the last two days, and everyone's been much happier. My kitchen counters are clear, their are no coats in the doorway, and no Legos on the floor. But best of all, we've spoken to each other in much kinder tones and actually wanted to be together. It truly is "good for a man that he should bear the yoke in his youth" Lam. 3:27.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Easter has caught me by surprise. I've been lulled into a dreamy laziness by the fact that chocolate chicks and bunnies have been out since the Valentine's candy was clearanced. We belong to a small congregation that doesn't follow many of the traditions of the liturgical calendar and there have been no seasonal hymns or palm branches to snap me into reality. So when my husband asked what I was cooking for dinner next weekend, it was a total shock! I need to get moving!

At our house Resurrection Day is a big deal. We have fancy clothes. We have lots of good food. We have presents. We have even begun the tradition of celebrating the Passover Seder (thankfully I've got a few more weeks on that one!). Yes, Jesus became man at Christmas (well, we celebrate it then), but on Easter He reconciled me to God. What could be more worthy of celebration?

One of my kids favorite Easter traditions is making Resurrection Rolls. We usually make them for dessert on Saturday night before Resurrection morning. That much sugar on Sunday morning before church would never do!

Resurrection Rolls

1 tube Refrigerated Crescent Rolls, separated into triangles
Large Marshmallows
Melted Butter
Cinnamon and Sugar Mixture

Roll 1 large marshmallow in melted butter, then roll in cinnamon sugar. (This symbolizes Jesus' body being anointed for burial after the crucifixion.) Place the prepared marshmallow in the center of a crescent roll triangle. Bring up the dough all around the marshmallow. Squeeze dough to seal well. (This symbolizes the clean linen cloths wrapped around the body of Christ.) Place on a cookie sheet and bake according to the directions on the crescent roll tube, adding 3 or 4 minutes, until deeply golden. (You have now sealed the body inside the tomb.) As the rolls bake, have your children "guard the tomb" (oven) while reading them John 19:17-42. Allow the rolls to cool, then open them up. The marshmallow will be gone. Shout "Jesus is alive!" and read John 20:1-8.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Spiritual Gifts

CHARITY--noun (
1. generous actions or donations to aid the poor, ill, or helpless.
2. something given to a person or persons in need; alms.

I've never thought of my family as poor, ill, or helpless, nor in need of alms, and yet today I found myself granted a rather unusual gift.

Let me start by saying that I love my neighborhood market. Its shelves are brimming with imported food with exotic names and the produce, meat, and deli items are always wonderful and affordable. And yet it is the one place that my frugality is always under suspicion. I feel more like a criminal than a home economist as every week the cashiers, huddled in little groups, scrutinize my coupons while speaking about them in a low foreign tongue. Then the cashier whose lane I happen to be in comes back to her booth and grills me about the product or the coupon or has some reason why she will not accept my carefully clipped manufacturer's coupon.

I've been hanging on to three $1-off bagged salad coupons that I found on health and wellness site a month or so ago, and when I saw a stack of these bags on the reduced produce cart marked down to a dollar, I grabbed three. Free salad! Yippee! Then after picking up some other produce and a couple bags of tortillas, I headed off to the milk cooler and saw, to my amazement, a sign in front of the gallons of 2% that said $1.29. Wow! My lucky day! While grabbing a couple gallons I noticed that the sign was advertising 1% milk. No problem. Put back the 2%, pick up the 1%.

I got to the check out, concerned that the milk wouldn't really ring up at $1.29. It didn't. A kind customer in the next check out line informed me that the sign was actually for the 1% half-gallons. At precisely the same time, the cashier informed me that she wouldn't take my salad coupons. So I asked her to take off the milk (I'd go back and get the half-gallons because 2 were cheaper than 1 gallon) and told her that I didn't want the salads. "But they're on clearance," she said. "I know," I said. I then paid my $19 grocery bill and headed back to pick up the milk.

Four half-gallons of 1% milk later, I was back at the check out line when the cashier handed me a bag containing the three salads in question, saying, "the lady behind you told me to give these to you." Attached was a paid receipt. Huh?

Sadly, my first reaction was one of prideful horror. I thought, "we're not rich, but my husband has a good job!" "We choose frugality!" "I didn't want those soon-to-expire salad if I couldn't use my coupons!" But by the time I had sheepishly paid for my milk and slunk toward the door, I realized that sometimes God gives us good gifts even when we don't need or ask for them. And sometimes He uses the charity of strangers to humble us.

1. In a general sense, love, benevolence, good will; that disposition of heart which inclines men to think favorably of their fellow men, and to do them good. In a theological sense, it includes supreme love to God, and universal good will to men.

2. In a more particular sense, love, kindness, affection, tenderness, springing from natural relations.

So, blond lady, whoever you are, thanks. Thanks for the salads, but more so for the disposition of your heart that inclined you to do me good. May God bless you bountifully, and may I learn from you.

"The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself." Proverbs 11:25

Thursday, March 13, 2008



Christopher Robin
Had wheezles
And sneezles,
They bundled him
His bed.
They gave him what goes
With a cold in the nose,
And some more for a cold
In the head.
They wondered
If wheezles
Could turn
Into measles,
If sneezles
Would turn
Into mumps...

(taken from Sneezles, a poem from A.A. Milne's Now We are Six)

Monday, March 3, 2008

The blessing of the empty plate

Throughout my journey as a follower of Christ, I've read many books on sanctification and spiritual disciplines. All emphasize Bible reading and prayer and most delve into the many practical outpourings of evangelism, service, and sacrifice. But being prone to polishing the outside of the cup, I have the inclination to take what the author recommends and establish legalistic practices of righteousness rather than to joyfully embrace the righteousness of the Lord Himself and act out of thankfulness. I have too often sought spiritual growth by the acquisition and application of knowledge rather than the submission of my spirit to His. These things could help me feel spiritual but in reality brought me no closer to true knowledge of the Holy One.

As you can tell by many of my posts, I am a woman fond of food. Finding just the right recipes to use the deals I snag at the grocery store is and exciting game and I enjoy the planning, the cooking, and the eating of scrumptious meals. I'm much more apt to proclaim a feast than a fast. I've clung to the verses in Colossians about not forbidding food! So when the call to fasting and prayer came from the pulpit this past Sunday, I was originally less than eager. In my mind, fasting has always been more of a painful act of obedience to be endured when dire circumstances arise rather than a discipline intended to draw me closer to the Lord. But as the sermon unfolded, God opened my eyes to see that fasting clears away the static that makes it difficult for me to hear the Lord. It clears away the mini-gods I've set up next to the True and Living God.

"The birthplace of Christian fasting is homesickness for God." ~J. Piper

Five reasons we need to fast:

1. We need to be unsatisfied when things are not right (Neh. 1:4)
2. We need clear guidance from the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:1-4)
3. We need corporate renewal as God's people (Joel 2:12-17)
4. We need the reward of God which is God Himself (Matt. 16:16-18)
5. We need preparation for whatever Satan intends to throw at us (Matt 4, Luke 4)

The Lord is slowly chipping away at my self-reliance and replacing it with humble thankfulness for the finished work of Christ on my behalf. I am not right. I need to find satisfaction in God Himself and fellowship with His people. I need to know God's mission and be ready to face opposition. So with fear and trepidation, and a whole lot of expectation, I will be joining my church family with empty bellies before the Lord once a week for six weeks. I will be asking the Lord to grant me hunger for Him that will never be satisfied this side of heaven.