Sunday, December 30, 2012

Husbands, Let Your Wives Play (Use) Your Tools

Typically, when my husband and I divide labor, he uses his toolkit and I clean. The other day, we moved our desk from the man-cave and put in a little end table for the TV. My husband opted to arrange the tv and computer and "clean" while I opted to take the screwdriver to the desk.

It was so much fun!!!!!
The dis-mantled desk in all its splendor.

I typically avoid repairs and tools because I don't have a lot of confidence using them. (My least favorite middle school class was the technology shop because I was terrified of all the dangerous machinery). As I successfully removed piece after piece from the desk, my joy and confidence grew.

Look at what I did!! I mis-mantled a desk!!
Husbands, let your wives play (use) your tools! It helps us feel empowered, useful, and capable.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Crash Course in Home Economics: Maximizing Food

Ever wondered how to stretch the food in your pantry/cupboard/fridge/etc. for another day(s)/week(s) or until that next paycheck?

Many times, it pays to use simple foods and less meats (I said less, not none).

My husband and I had company last weekend. I grabbed two sandwiches baggies full of marinating chicken to thaw for dinner. My hubby wanted grilled chicken (i.e. one piece of chicken per person), but we fortunately remembered that *he's* the master griller, not his lovely bride. I opted to make a chicken stir-fry with rice. Instead of using all 5 slabs of chicken, I diced up 2 and had enough meat to serve 4 people. The other 3 slabs of chicken were grilled after all, for later. I grabbed a bag of mixed frozen veggies that I made myself. When I was slicing veggies a while back, I put a variety (carrots, bell peppers, celery, broccoli) in a bag. Since I was planning on using these veggies for stews or stir-frys or casseroles, I put some of the non-traditional parts in too (like the sliced up truck of the broccoli). Add in rice, baked potatoes, and a dessert and dinner was done. A chicken-veggie stir fry, rice, baked potatoes, and apple-strawberry jello filled us up. We had a full serving of everything left over. I wasn't too enthusiastic about the leftover stir fry, so I combined the rice, stir-fry, extra carrots, and chicken bouillon cubes to make a soup.  I'm estimating that this soup will be 4 meals for my hubby and I.

What could have been 5 chicken servings became 3 grilled chicken servings, 4 stir-fry servings, and 4 servings of soup. Instead of of 5 servings, I get 11, effectively doubling the stretch of the meat.

What are some strategies I use to stretch food in my home?
1. Chop up the meat. Mix it with something. Don't let it be the focal point of the plate.
2. Use staples (rice, beans, bread) to fill the rest of the gap we're typically fill with meat.
3. Think of ways to get more fruits and veggies on the table. Instead of a bowl of pineapple, I made strawberry jello with apple pieces inside. Much better received.
4. Research your nutrition needs and stick with them. A girl of my size needs 45 grams of protein a day (i.e. 15 grams per meal). So yes, a cup of milk and 2 Tablespoons of peanut butter does count as enough protein for a meal (allowing me to focus on cinnamon rolls and orange slices). [Mom, my meals typically have more planning and preparation than this]
5. Plan ahead and prepare fruits and veggies so you can grab and eat when you're wanting a snack, as an alternative to filler foods that really don't fill.
6. Stick with proper portions (especially for expensive foods). Just because you can finish that 16 oz. soda in one sitting doesn't mean it's good to do so. 2 servings, 2 sittings.
7. Go old school. War-time (WWI, WWII) and Great Depression cooks were experts at stretching meals and maximizing foods. My new favorite cookbook is "Foods that Will Win the War and How to Cook Them (1918)" This cookbook is free for Amazon kindle (and yes, you can download the kindle app to your computer and use the cookbook from the computer). It focuses on ways to reduce our usage of wheat, meat, sugar, fat, and stretches food in general.
8. This one may seem odd, but only eat when you're hungry. It's a bit embarrassing that I can be awake for hours before I'm hungry for breakfast or that lunch might occur between 2 & 3pm or that supper might not happen until 8pm. I like to snack. A lot. When I'm hungry/bored/watching tv/to mourn/to celebrate/because it's there/to comfort/and many other times. Waiting to eat until I'm actually hungry shows me what hunger is and shows me that I have very rarely ever been SEVERELY hungry.
9. Downplay meat even more. Beans & rice cost less than steak. Go meatless for a few meals. It can be tasty (if you cook the foods right).
10. Eat foods that fill you up. Sometimes the best solution to prevent me from wiping out that whole package of potato chips is a big bowl of oatmeal (and when I eat the oatmeal, the fridge gets a break when I get a full stomach).

*note* I am not a dietitian or nutritionist. These are simply things I do when I try to maximize foods.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

What Are the Twelve Days of Christmas?

First and foremost, when are the twelve days of Christmas?

The twelve days last from Christmas through Epiphany (when the High Church celebrates the arrival of the wise men). Depending on when the church denomination starts the count, it may begin the evening of December 25th (or the morning of the 26th) and run through the evening of January 5th (or the morning of the 6th).

After extensive research, I believe that this is a fairly accurate outline of the feasts of the twelve days, as well as why they are celebrated.

Day of Christmas
When
Why
First day of Christmas:
December 26th:
Feast of St. Stephen (1st Martyr)/Boxing Day. Give to the Poor
Second day of Christmas:
December 27th:
Feast of St. John the evangelist. Lots of candles. Remember martyrs. Reconciliation.
Third day of Christmas:
December 28th:
Feast of Holy Innocents. Pro-life. Remember genocide victims.
Fourth day of Christmas:
December 29th:

Feast of St. Thomas Beckett (Archbishop of Canterbury, stood for justice and died). Fight injustice
Fifth day of Christmas:
December 30th:
Feast of the Holy Family (First Sunday after Christmas)
Sixth day of Christmas:
December 31st:
St. Sylvester’s Night (pope). Pardon those you hurt. Welcome neighbors/family-bring symbol of God’s Blessing from past year. Make noise-not caught sleeping (Luke 12:35-40)
Seventh day of Christmas:
January 1st:
Feast of Mary, mother of God. New beginnings. Bless family members. OR
Feast of Circumcision of Our Lord
Eighth day of Christmas:
January 2nd:
St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen-4th century teachers of Trinity. Spend time with friends . OR
Day of St. Stephen
Ninth day of Christmas:
January 3rd:
Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus (if no Sunday between Jan. 1st and 6th). Meaning of our names and why chosen
Day of St. John.
Tenth day of Christmas:
January 4th:
unknown (Elizabeth Ann Seton??)
Day of Holy Innocents
Eleventh day of Christmas:
January 5th:
unknown (John Neumann??)
Vigil of Feast of Epiphany
Twelfth day of Christmas:
January 6th:
Epiphany (and blessing). Magi


January 13th
Baptism of the Lord, closing of Epiphany


That's a lot of feasts there, Liz. I know, right? The nerd in me anticipates doing research on these events and the people mentioned.

What's the difference between the feast of the holy innocents (day 3) and the day of holy innocents (day 10)? Good question. Don't know. :-)

Now I admit, these celebrations are very high church, very Catholic. Not every denomination pays attention to Saints.

But putting this aside, I ask, is it bad to give to the poor (day 1)?
Remember martyrs (day 2)?
Remember genocide victims and be pro-life (day 3)?
To fight injustice (day 4)?
To pardon those you've hurt (day 6)?
To bless your family and start anew (day 7)?
To spend time with friends (day 8)?
To swap stories about name meanings and reasons for names (day 9)?
To remember that the wise men really didn't come to the stable (day 12)?
To re-read the story of Jesus' baptism (January 13th)? 

Even if you're not a fan of the high church, I think the twelve days of Christmas may provide an opportunity for fellowship and compassion, and as such, fit in with the Christmas spirit.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve in Bethlehem

The season of waiting and anticipation is almost over. Tonight, all those years ago, Mary was beginning her labor in a stable in Bethlehem. 


I encourage you to read these verses and think about how Christ came from heaven to free us from sin.

Matthew 1:23, Christ was given birth by a virgin.
Isaiah 40:9 Here is Our God.
Luke 2:8-16 The shepherds left their jobs to see the miracle of Christmas
John 1:1-5, 10-12, 14 The Word came, dwelt, led, and demonstrated.
Micah 5:2, 4-5 Our Savior is our Shepherd. He came from Bethlehem.
Psalm 72:8,11,17 May He rule the world. May all bow down before Him. May He bless all nations.

If you think my selection of verses for a Christmas Eve reading is a little odd or random, my hymnal has readings that go between songs and I snagged all the ones related to the birth of Christ.


With tomorrow's festivities, I remind you to not forget the guest of honor.
Praise Jesus.
Thank Him for coming as a baby and then dying for our sins.
Maybe read the Christmas story before presents (or play an invented trivia game with questions about the Christmas story like my husband's family did at our Christmas).
Dedicate tomorrow to be a day of peace, joy, and love.
Think of the circumstances surrounding Jesus' birth.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Advent: Week 4

This scripture (Isaiah) for Advent was taken from the Nazarene hymnal, but the devotional ramblings are mine.

Isaiah 9:2, 6-7

Jesus is the light of the world. Within days, we will be celebrating the entrance of the light of the world into the world. Those who were in darkness now have light to see by.

Are we living in a way that is light to others? Are we walking with confidence as people who can see the light, or do we do that "it's-dark-in-here-so-I'm-walking-slowly-like-a-zombie-to-avoid-hitting-things-in-the-dark" walk?

"The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned." In Matthew 4:12-17, this passage is tied to the start of Jesus' ministry, but from the moment of His birth, people were drawn to Him (see the shepherds [Luke 2:8-20] and magi [Matthew 2:1-12])

Handel's Messiah has brought fame to Isaiah 9:6-7. God sent His son to us.

What characteristics did Jesus have/will Jesus have?
He has authority.
He will reign. 
He will bring peace.
He will rule with justice and righteousness for ever.

That sounds like a kingdom I want to be in. 

What were His titles?
Wonderful Counselor-do I heed His advice and wisdom?
Mighty God-do I acknowledge His power and yield to Him?
Everlasting Father-do I live for the eternal or for the temporary? Do I bring my problems and joys to my Daddy?
Prince of Peace-do I claim and pass on His peace?



The season of waiting is almost over. I hope you enjoyed traveling through Advent with me. May your celebration of the birth of our Savior bring you joy and peace. May our actions always bring God glory.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Self-Reflection from Married Life

I've been married two years now. Wow. It's hard to believe.



Over the past two years of marriage, I have learned a lot about my hubby, but I have learned even more about myself. Some things were positive, others were not.

Positive:
1. There are few moments as precious as a long hug.
2. There are few feelings that compare to the joy of seeing my hubby awed by what I do.
3. It's worth complementing my hubby in public.
4. It's my privilege to build up my hubby.
5.  A spouse's dreams are fragile and need lots of coaxing to flourish.
6. Plotting spoilage for my hubby reminds me of why I love him.
7. Although I may be tired, it's worth getting up early or staying up late to care for my man.
8. Sometimes, it's the small things I do, that mean the most to my hubby.
9. We define normal, romantic, and sweet in our relationship. Even if others think we are dorks.

Negative:
1. I can nag.
2. I can manipulate.
3. I sulk.
4. I have a temper.
5. I can be self-centered.
6. I can be grumpy.
7. I'm not always sympathetic if I can't do anything to help fix his problem.
8. I want sympathy, even if he can't do anything to help fix my problem.

We have a good marriage, but there's a lot of ways that I can make our marriage better. I am grateful for my spouse and am blessed to be his wife.

Here's to many more years of marriage!!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Advent: Week 3

This scripture (Isaiah) for Advent was taken from the Nazarene hymnal, but the devotional ramblings are mine.


Isaiah 61:1-3, 12:6

This passage may seem familiar, because it is quoted by Jesus in Luke 4:14-30. Jesus states His mission on earth by reading this passage aloud to his synagogue.

He's anointed by the Spirit.
He's here to proclaim good news to the poor.
He's here to bind up the brokenhearted.
He's here to proclaim freedom for the captives.
He's here to release the prisoners.
He's here to proclaim God's favor and vengeance.
He's here to comfort the mourners.
He's here to provide for the grievers in Zion and bring them beauty, not ashes. Oil of joy, not mourning. Praise clothes, instead of a sad spirit. They will be righteous and show God's splendor.

Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.

How did Jesus do in fulfilling his mission on earth? What are ways we can follow His mission this holiday season and beyond?  

This Advent, are we telling people the good news?
Are we helping and comforting those hurting?
Are we helping those facing persecution? Are we praying for the release of those in prison for their faith?

Christmas is quickly approaching. Are our hearts ready?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

An Advent Post-prophecies about Jesus

As the Jews were anticipating the birth of Jesus, what were their expectations of Him? I mean, what were the prophecies concerning Jesus that He fulfilled with His birth, proving He was the Messiah?

Let's check that out!


I searched through the opening chapters of each of the Gospels, looking for Old Testament (O.T.) prophecy scripture references about Jesus.


Reference
Summary
Fulfillment
Isaiah 7:14
Virgin will give birth to a son.
The son will be called Immanuel.
Matthew 1:23
Micah 5:2,4
Bethlehem birth
Matthew 2:6
Hosea 11:1
Will spend time of Egypt
Matthew 2:15
Jeremiah 31:15
Slaughter of babies
Matthew 2:18
***
Called a Nazarene
Matthew 2:23
Isaiah 40:3
Someone (John) will prepare the way
Matthew 3:3
Mark 1:3
John 1:23
Malachi 3:1
Someone (John) will prepare the way
Mark 1:2
Isaiah 40:3-5
Someone (John) will prepare the way
Luke 3:6

***Only 4 passages have the word "Nazarene" in them. They are all New Testament (N.T.). 29 passages have the word "Nazareth" in them. They are all also N.T. If I have understood the commentary about this missing direct reference, Matthew 2:23 uses the words "prophets" which implies that several passages were combined to come to the conclusion that He will be called a Nazarene.

I recommend using your favorite online (or hard copy) Bible to study this prophecies and their fulfillment. I personally use www.biblegateway.com. I hope this post helps to build the anticipation of Christmas and add to your sense of wonder at how Jesus ended up fulfilling these prophecies.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Advent: Week 2

This scripture (Isaiah) for Advent was taken from the Nazarene hymnal, but the devotional ramblings are mine.

Isaiah 11:1-4a, 6a, 9

This passage says that Jesus was a descendent of Jesse.
That Jesus had the Spirit of the Lord, Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Might, Knowledge, and Fear of the Lord on Him.
That Jesus won't judge the physical evidence.
That Jesus will judge with justice and righteousness.
That the wicked will be slayed.
That people will come between unlikely species (natural enemies). 
Harm and destruction won't occur on God's mountain.

How does the 4 Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) show Jesus has these qualities? 

In what ways did Jesus meet the expectations of those waiting for Him?

In what ways did Jesus burst the expectations of those waiting for Him? What did He do that was contrary to the expectations of Him?

Anticipate. Christmas is coming. What are your expectations for God and Christ in the coming year?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Give Season Greetings

As we are in the season of Advent, quickly approaching the season of Christmas (and Christmas-tide), I encourage you to remember why we deck the halls and bust out the holly: God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him, we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor. 5:21)

Here are two comics that I would encourage you to look at. Season's Greetings should bring a smile to your face and Needs vs. Wants might make you think this holiday season.

This Christmas season, I challenge you to ask for God to give you what you need and to open your eyes to that you can see how to meet the needs of others.

Let someone else take the last of the "most perfect gift ever."
Make a choice not to get stressed over the traffic or the shopping.
Give gifts that help those who are barely surviving (Project Heifer, International Justice Mission, Soup Kitchens, Thrift Shops)
Instead of asking for God to bless you this Christmas, ask for Him to use you to bless others.
Will you be like Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy (from Little Women) and share your special food with those who are hungry?
Give season greetings.






Sunday, December 2, 2012

Advent: Week 1

This Advent-Christmas season, I wanted readings and candles at home and church. When I looked for Advent and Christmas readings, I turned first to my hymnal. This combination of scriptures (Malachi and Isaiah) for Advent was taken from the Nazarene hymnal, but the devotional ramblings are mine.

Before Jesus was born, John came forth. Mary and Elizabeth were two unlikely women. Elizabeth was old and her hubby was old, but an angel promised them they would have a son. Mary was unmarried, but pregnant. The two pregnancies overlapped and Mary visited her relative Elizabeth.

 John was the forerunner of Jesus. He was the messenger spoken of in Malachi 3:1a. He was the voice preparing the way as mentioned in Isaiah 40:3-5, 10-11a and as fulfilled in Matthew 3:1-12.

This week, as you are preparing for Christmas, take some time to study John's story.

Back Story-Luke 1:5-80

John sent by God-John 1:6-8

not the Messiah-John 1:19-42

John yields to Jesus-John 3:22-36

preaching and baptizing-Matthew 3:1-12
prepare the way, preaching, baptism-Mark 1:1-11
prepare the way, preach and baptism-Luke 3:1-22
fasting/not drinking-Mark 2:18-22
imprisoned-Matthew 11:1-19
sent disciples to Jesus to see if he was the one-Luke 7:18-35
beheaded-Matthew 14:1-12
beheaded-Mark 6:14-29

How did John benefit Jesus and Jesus' ministry? How was God moving in John's life?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Pre-Advent Post Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

I have been eagerly awaiting Advent this year for several reasons. 1) It is the start of the liturgical church year (and will be the start of my first church year I'll be following all the way through). 2) I have learned the difference between Advent and Christmas songs and look forward to separating them. 3) I look forward to anticipating the birth of Christ once more. 4) I'll be celebrating the 12 days of Christmas this Christmas season and will be anticipating that as well.

Advent is celebrated on the 4 Sundays preceding Christmas. It lasts from 4 Sundays before through Christmas Eve. After Christmas, the twelve days of Christmas are celebrated in some churches, until Epiphany. Advent is steeped in tradition. Some churches have a hanging of the greens service, where the church is decorated. The evergreen symbolizes new/everlasting life in Christ.

Many churches have an advent wreath, with four outer candles (most either purple or pink) and the inner Christ candle (which is white). Some believers also have their own advent wreath at home as well. The circle of the wreath symbolizes God, His endless mercy, or eternity. The green represents our hope in God. The candles standing for the light of Christ in the world. The four outer candles represent waiting and anticipation. Purple is the color of royalty and sometimes the color of fasting; some churches use a darker blue instead of purple. Blue represents the night sky, waters, Genesis, royalty. Since purple can be used during Lent, using blue candles is a way to distinguish between the two holidays. Pink (sometimes the candle of the third Sunday of advent) stands for rejoicing.

Depending on what tradition you hail from, the candles can symbolize different things. The first candle could represent expectation, hope, prophecy, preparation. The second candle love, the third joy, and the fourth peace. Alternatively, the candles could represent Bethlehem/the Shepherds/Angels, John the Baptist/Mary/Magi, or Annunciation/proclamation/fulfillment.

Red and green, which can represent life and hope, are not official Advent colors. These colors (think holly berries and evergreens) have more secular roots and these colors are used during other times of the church year.

Advent is a time of waiting and preparation. For some denominations, only Advent themed-songs (about this hope, this waiting, this anticipation) are sung. Other "Christmas-y" songs (about the birth of Christ and the celebration) are withheld until Christmastide (Christmas-Epiphany, or December 25th-January 6th). My main source.

I encourage you to anticipate the coming of our Savior this Advent season.