Saturday, January 30, 2010


If you are thinking of donating to the Haitian relief, please read this post on UNICEF....and the comments.

We're giving to Compassion International instead :)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Sam's Job

Sams unit with the 82nd Airborne has the unique distinction of being the Armys only Global Response Force. Their brigade is trained to be ready to deploy anywhere in the world as a first responder in a crisis situation. Before the earthquake they were readying for deployment to Afghanistan.

Excerpt from: 82nd Airborne to the Rescue Again

Capt. Andy Salmo, an infantry commander with the brigade in Haiti, described the global response duty as a mixed bag. "It's a love/hate relationship," Salmo said. "They see they're making a difference, and they like that. At the same time, your job as an infantryman is to fight somebody."
Soldiers see their brothers and sisters from other brigades heading off to combat in Iraq or Afghanistan, where the United States has been waging war for most of a decade. But a large number of 82nd Airborne paratroopers will record their first deployment in a small island nation where, at times, they stowed their weapons and handed out food to starving people.

(I think that's a good thing)

Read entire article here.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

On Being a 'Good' Christian

Excerpt from:

When I Am Weak: Why we must embrace our brokenness and never be good Christians

by Michael Spencer

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor 12: 9-10

Weaknesses are with me for the whole journey. Paul was particularly thinking of persecutions, but how much more does this passage apply to human frailty, brokenness and hurt? How essential is it for us to be broken, if Christ is going to be our strength? When I am weak I am strong. Not, “When I am cured,” or “When I am successful,” or “When I am a good Christian,” but when I am weak. Weakness- the human experience of weakness- is God’s blueprint for exalting and magnifying his Son. When broken people, miserably failing people, continue to belong to, believe in and worship Jesus, God is happy.

How do we imagine the life of faith? What does living faith look like? Does it look like the “good Christian,” “whole person,” “victorious life” version of the Christian life?
Faith, alive in our weakness, looks like a war. An impossible war, against a far superior adversary: our own sinful, fallen nature. Faith fights this battle.

I fall down. I get up….and believe. Over and over again. That’s as good as it gets in this world. This life of faith, is a battle full of weakness and brokenness. The only soldiers in this battle are wounded ones. There are moments of total candor- I am a “wretched man” living in a “body” of death. Denying this, spinning this, ignoring this or distorting this reality is nothing but trouble in the true Christian experience. The sin we are killing in Romans 8 is, in a sense, ourselves. Not some demon or serpent external to us. Our battle is with ourselves, and embracing this fact is the compass and foundation of the Gospel’s power in our lives.

What lands us in churches where we are turned into the cheering section for personal victory over everything is denying that faith is an ongoing battle that does not end until Jesus ends it. Those who stand up and claim victory may be inviting us to celebrate a true place in their experience at the time, but it isn’t the whole person, the whole story, or all that accurate. They are still a mess. Count on it. This battle- and the victories in it- are fought by very un-victorious Christians.

I'll be accused of a serious lack of good news, I’m sure, so listen. At the moment I am winning, Jesus is with me. At the moment I am losing, Jesus is with me and guarantees that I will get up and fight on. At the moment I am confused, wounded and despairing, Jesus is with me. I never, ever lose the brokenness. I fight, and sometimes I prevail, but more and more of my screwed up, messed up life erupts. Each battle has the potential to be the last, but because I belong to one whose resurrection guarantees that I will arrive safely home in a new body and a new creation, I miraculously, amazingly, find myself continuing to believe, continuing to move forward, till Jesus picks us up and takes us home.

Now, let’s come to something very important here. This constant emphasis on the “victorious life” or “good Christian life” is absolutely the anti-Christ when it comes to the Gospel. If I am _________________ (fill in the blank with victorious life terminology) then I am oriented to be grateful for what Jesus did THEN, but I’m needing him less and less in the NOW. I want to make sure he meets me at the gate on the way into heaven, but right now, I’m signing autographs. I’m a good Christian. This imagining of the Christian journey will kill us.

We need our brokenness. We need to admit it and know it is the real, true stuff of our earthly journey in a fallen world. It’s the cross on which Jesus meets us. It is the incarnation he takes up for us. It’s what his hands touch when he holds us.

Do you remember this story? It’s often been told, but oh how true it is as a GOSPEL story (not a law story.) It is a Gospel story about Jesus and how I experience him in this “twisted” life.
In his book Mortal Lessons (Touchstone Books, 1987) physician Richard Selzer describes a scene in a hospital room after he had performed surgery on a young woman’s face: I stand by the bed where the young woman lies . . . her face, postoperative . . . her mouth twisted in palsy . . . clownish. A tiny twig of the facial nerve, one of the muscles of her mouth, has been severed. She will be that way from now on. I had followed with religious fervor the curve of her flesh, I promise you that. Nevertheless, to remove the tumor in her cheek, I had cut this little nerve. Her young husband is in the room. He stands on the opposite side of the bed, and together they seem to be in a world all their own in the evening lamplight . . . isolated from me . . .private.

Who are they? I ask myself . . . he and this wry mouth I have made, who gaze at and touch each other so generously. The young woman speaks. “Will my mouth always be like this?” she asks. “Yes,” I say, “it will. It is because the nerve was cut.” She nods and is silent. But the young man smiles. “I like it,” he says, “it’s kind of cute.” All at once I know who he is. I understand, and I lower my gaze. One is not bold in an encounter with the divine. Unmindful, he bends to kiss her crooked mouth, and I am so close I can see how he twists his own lips to accommodate to hers. . . to show her that their kiss still works.

This is who Jesus has always been. And if you think you are getting to be a great kisser or are looking desirable, I feel sorry for you. He wraps himself around our hurts, our brokenness and our ugly, ever-present sin. Those of you who want to draw big, dark lines between my humanity and my sin, go right ahead, but I’m not joining you. It’s all ME. And I need Jesus so much to love me like I really am: brokenness, memories, wounds, sins, addictions, lies, death, fear….all of it. Take all it, Lord Jesus. If I don’t present this broken, messed up person to Jesus, my faith is dishonest, and my understanding of it will become a way of continuing the ruse and pretense of being “good.”

read entire article here

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Phone Call from Haiti

Sam called this morning....yippee yahoo!

He and his platoon from the 82nd Airborne are living in an outbuilding at the Haitian University Hospital in Port-au-Prince (engineers have deemed it safe <---say a prayer on that one, will ya)... cots lining the rooms (literally touching each other) no running water, one electric outlet (guys are taking turns charging phones and ipods) muggy weather (90's during the day cooling slightly at night, they keep the windows open all the time) living in the same uniforms they arrived in (says you get used to the smell:) and reading or listening to music in their spare time. They are living on 2 MRE's a day and bottled water. As soon as I get a mailing address, I'm sending FOOD (and a few books).

The soldiers are providing security for the hospital, making sure only medical personnel and patients go in and out. They also ride on transport trucks to the airport, accompanying patients who need to be flown to the states or the hospital ship for more extensive treatment. The doctors have thanked them for being there, they feel much safer with a military presence. Sam has seen aid workers from all over the world, some are camping out on the hospital grounds, as are many of the patients.

He says that the Haitian people seem resigned to their situation but determined to survive and are happy to see the army guys wherever they go.

We are so proud of our son.....continued prayers for the military, aid personnel and the people of Haiti. May God's grace and mercy be shown and acknowledged.

SSgt. Julio Escareno with Charlie Company 1/132th watches as a woman is taken through the front gate of the Port Au Prince hospital complex after seeing doctors. Ft. Bragg's 82nd Airborne Division is tasked with security. The 82nd along with thousands of others are flooding into the country which was ravaged by a 7.0 earthquake a week ago to render aid and security.

Photo credit: Chuck Liddy. More on the situation at the hospital here.

Monday, January 25, 2010

This one Makes You think...

...and is very timely. My sister and I were talking recently about being offended by people 'of means' who constantly thank God for all the blessings in their lives. And these blessings seem to primarily be focused on the things they have or the houses they live in.
Now, I think it's important that we remember to thank God for our circumstances, for our abilities, for a good job, for providing for our families...but I do think we need to be careful not to confuse blessings with what we choose to BUY for ourselves. Food and shelter can be considered a blessing....5 televisions is a choice, and maybe not a very good one. We are an incredibly rich nation and there are many who take that as proof of our goodness, as well as taking it for granted. What happens when it all falls apart? Will we be as quick to thank God for these new blessings?

My wonderful husband found an article that expounds on these thoughts.

Robertson is Right about One Thing

by Karen Spears Zacharias

Rescue crews hadn’t even begun to unload supplies before Pat Robertson began to upbraid Haitians for their “pact with the devil.” Robertson said Haitians joined forces with Satan’s Army: “They said, ‘We will serve you if you’ll get us free from the French.’ True story. And so the devil said, ‘Ok, it’s a deal.’ They kicked the French out … ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after another.”

That curse includes punishing poverty, howling hurricanes and now an earthquake so violent the foundations of their finest buildings have crumbled like graham crackers in the hands of a toddler, leaving an untold number buried alive and many more dead.

While more compassionate souls offered help with antibiotics, bandages and cases of bottled water, Robertson offered advice: “[Haitians] need to have, and we need to pray for them, a great turning to God.”

His callous comments drew push-back.“Go to hell Pat Robertson – and the sooner the better,” said the Rev. Paul Raushenbush, a Baptist minister and editor at the Huffington Post. “Don’t speak for Haiti – and don’t speak for God.”

Ari Rabin-Havt, vice-president of communications and research at Media Matters, suggested that Robertson’s comments “represent right-wing media figures’ willingness to use any tragedy to forward its own agenda.” (Of course, Mr. Rabin-Havt’s response appears to represent his own left-leaning agenda to bash right-wingers.)

Everyone is so focused on berating Robertson that they have completely missed how he reached his conclusions:
“The island of Hispaniola is one island. It’s cut down the middle,” Robertson explained. “On one side is Haiti; on the other side is the Dominican Republic. Dominican Republic is prosperous today, full of resorts, etcetera. Haiti is desperate poverty. Same island. They need to have, and we need to pray for them, a great turning to God.”

Robertson is right about one thing – we Americans equate prosperity as proof of God’s favor. People of all faith traditions believe God rewards those he loves best with material blessings. No longer is John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” the most quoted Bible verse. It’s been replaced by Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

This notion that God desires us to be wealthy is not new. “It has been the warp and woof of the American soul since the Puritans came over with their divine enlightenment and Calvinistic work ethic,” said Michael Spencer, a biblical scholar and the author behind

Spencer is one of Prosperity Gospel’s most vocal critics. The Prosperity Gospel maintains that God wants us to have bigger homes, better cars, that job promotion, and better health. It is most often linked to the Word of Faith movement and to its leaders – Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Oral Roberts and now America’s most popular preacher – Joel Osteen. Osteen urges his followers to “expect God’s favor.”

Spencer says that the Prosperity Gospel takes its purest form here in America: “It is deeply wound up in who we are and far more mainstream than Joel Osteen. I grew up hearing my entire life that if you tithe, God will pay all your bills.”

Like most television evangelists, Robertson preaches the “Law of Reciprocity” – give money to God and he’s going to give it back to you ten times over. Embedded in this theology, however, is the misguided belief that material goodies come our way because we’ve been faithful to God. And if bad things are happening? Then, we need to straighten up, fly right and return to God.

What Robertson has done in the name of Jesus is deplorable. But perhaps even more troubling is the insidious ways in which all of us continue to buy into this notion that God loves Americans best and that we are the people who honor him most, which is why we are so rich, so beautiful, so smart and so immune to the sorts of disasters decimating other “pagan” people.

While it’s true that having money can inoculate a people and a nation against some diseases and some disasters, wealth should never be considered proof of God’s love or favor toward a people or a country. Nor should it be the standard by which we judge – or misjudge – a people or a nation’s devotion toward God.

Perhaps we would all do well to remember the one thing Jesus did promise us: “In this world, there will be trouble.” (John 16:33)

The question for believers and unbelievers alike is not why there is trouble, but what are we doing to help alleviate the suffering it creates?


All the blessings we enjoy are Divine deposits, committed to our trust on this condition, that they should be dispensed for the benefit of our neighbors. - John Calvin

To whom much is given, much is expected. Luke -12:48

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Grapefruit Marmalade???

I am participating in a canning challenge at a wonderful blog I stumbled upon recently. The idea is to preserve one item every month using the water bath canning method. This months produce of focus was CITRUS. How much easier could that be for those of us living in the Central Valley of California. We can pretty much get free citrus all winter. In fact, we used the last of our orange juice during Sam's Christmas visit.....time to start squeezing again.

Because our neighbor (like most people around us) lets his grapefruit rot on the tree I thought that would be a good one to start with. Having NEVER made marmalade before (eating peels?) and not even questioning why you don't typically see grapefruit marmalade on store shelves (light bulb going on yet???) I dove right in.

Peeled about 8 grapefruit.....

...sliced off as much of the white part as I could...

...then I thinly sliced the peelings.

I at least had the good sense to do some research and found a recipe that addressed the bitterness issue. By boiling the peels separately first and draining the water (before adding the pulp and more water) most (but not all:) of the bitterness should dissipate. After boiling the mixture (without sugar) for 10 minutes, I let it cool overnight in the fridge.

The next day I added the sugar, cooked it for about an hour, couldn't get it to thicken properly, added more pectin and more sugar (and I usually make jam with the least amount of sugar possible) and cooked it some more. I am not printing the recipe....mostly because I deviated from it to the point of unrecognizability (is that even a word?).

The final product is pretty, has a consistency of blubber (like I would know) and tastes fairly tangy (sounds much more appetizing than oddly bitter) ...and I probably won't make it again (but I will eat each and every jar, dag nabbit).

If you want to see a successful presentation of marmalade check out the lime marmalade on the Tigress blog....beautiful photos as well.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

My Daily Reminder

Sam is in Haiti....doing the hard job of aiding and protecting the Haitian people who have suffered so much thru the recent devastating earthquakes. We pray for him and his fellow soldiers from the 82nd Airborne, as well as the other US military and relief personnel from all over the world. For our brave young man we know it will be a life-changing experience;
it is already changing mine.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Better to love God and die unknown, than to love the world and die a hero; better to be content with poverty than to die a slave to wealth; better to have taken some risks and lost than to have done nothing and succeeded at it.
-E. Lutzer

For a very personal look at what is going on in Haiti
take a look at this blog.

...thanks for sharing sis.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Lesson for the Day

The world would have us to believe that the bigger we get and the better we feel about ourselves, the freer we become. This is why so many worship services have been reduced to nothing more than motivational, self-help seminars filled with "you can do it" songs and sermons. But what we find in the gospel is just the opposite. The gospel is good news for losers, not winners. It's for those who long to be freed from the slavery of believing that all of their significance, meaning, purpose, and security depend on their ability to "become a better you." The gospel tells us that weakness precedes usefulness—that, in fact, the smaller you get, the freer you will be. As I pointed out in a post last week, G.K. Chesterton wrote, "How much larger your life would be if your self could become smaller in it." Nothing makes you more aware of your smallness than pain and hardship.

-Tullian Tchividjian
Pastor and Author
Read the full article here

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Good Advice

...thanks sis :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I Can Only Imagine

...thanks for sharing this Kris.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Television Rant....Proceed with Caution

Being that I've been a bit sick for the past few days (mostly allergies, maybe a cold?) I've spent a lot of time sleeping and watching the tube. I am embarrassed to admit that we have cable TV once again; totally caved in to teenagers living without Sports Center for the past two years (poor things). We thought it might be nice since they weren't getting any actual Christmas gifts that they could at least watch a few football games.

I don't watch much sports (baseball and the Olympics are about it for me) but I used to enjoy HGTV and the Food Network. So for the past few days, with no energy to do much else, I wallowed in House Hunters, Designers Challenge, Good Eats et al. It was not a good thing.

Watching people complain about their living conditions (oh, the horror of Formica) because they don't have enough space in their 3500sq. ft house when many people in the world would be thrilled to have a roof over their heads is frustrating, to say the least. Why does the fact that the counter tops aren't granite and the appliances aren't stainless steel mean "the kitchen needs updating"? You can't cook in a black oven? You can't keep food in a white refrigerator? "We only have 2 bathrooms and we have 2 KIDS" (alert the media). If one more person says "all our stuff won't fit in here"....I swear I'm gonna throw a shoe through the TV set. Here's a thought....get rid of some flippin' stuff!!! I have never seen a bigger conglomeration of whiners in my life.

And another thing....why do we all want to live in the SAME house...wood floors, stainless steel, granite....they all end up looking the same, only the location has changed. Where is the individuality? How about buying a can of paint and changing the color instead of ripping the cupboards out? And what exactly is the 'Challenge' in spending $30,000 to renovate a bathroom? Do it on $500....that's a challenge.

Watching these shows makes me wonder how people are going to respond to a future with less 'stuff' ....less oil, less food, less everything. If carpeting shakes us are we going to react to having to ride a bike to work or share food with our neighbors? And I'm not immune. I've gotten used to heat in the winter, AC in the summer. I send my kids to the grocery store in the evening when I need a key ingredient for dinner. I like comfort as much as the next guy....but I also think that I've learned to appreciate comfort. I try to look at our home with an eye towards who is living here and not worry so much about how things look. Playing scrabble with our kids on a garage sale dining table doesn't hinder our pleasure....that's what tablecloths are for :)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Song for Today

...just what I needed...

(pause sidebar music before playing)

Monday, January 4, 2010

December Garden Tally

This will be a short post :)

Peanuts.................4 lbs.
Peppers.................2 lbs.
Lettuce..................2 lbs.
Citrus.....................1 lb.

.....and 157 eggs.

Total for December.......19 lbs.
Total for 2009 (drum roll please).............962 lbs.

So, we didn't make it to our goal of 1000lbs. but it was actually a much better total than we thought we could manage when we started this experiment (original goal was 500 lbs.) Since our second garden was not in production until summer, we should have no trouble surpassing the half-ton mark in 2010. We are discussing a realistic goal, maybe around 1200 lbs.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Prayer for the New Year