Monday, July 31, 2006

An Afternoon in Kathmandu

The Milk Baba

A few people have asked about the time I spent in Asia, so I thought I'd share a little about my travels there. I spent nine months during 2000-2001 in Thailand, Nepal and India with a ministry called the Prodigal Project. Based in Northern California the Prodigal Project is a Christian community that exists for the purpose of reaching nomadic youth with the life-changing Good News of Jesus Christ. From their website: "A global culture of nomadic youth is emerging in our world today. Ever searching, ever wandering, they seek truth and dabble in eastern religion adopting utopian ideals of harmony and community without God, but so often remaining lost and leading self destructive lives." Here in America you will find these kids at Rainbow Gatherings, on the streets, and following various bands. They are the hippies of today, but, unlike those of our parents' generation, they are not characterized by hope. Thousands upon thousands of them are traveling in Asia, and many of these are seeking enlightenment in the religions of the East, namely Hinduism and Buddhism. They come from Europe, Israel, Australia, North America. Our team lived and traveled among them, sharing not only the Gospel, but our lives as well. (1Thess. 2:8)
Here is something I wrote about an experience we had in Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal:
Yesterday a few of us were taken to meet the Milk Baba, a Hindu sadhu, or holy man. He has been a sadhu since he was 18 and is now 70 years old. For the last 20 years he's eaten no sold food, but lives on milk and yogurt. He attributes his deep spirituality to milk. We were joined by Gus*, an American man we met who's been traveling for five years. We've spent a lot of time with him over the last several days, and have been able to share with him the Reason for our hope. I would like for you to join us as well, as we go to Pashupatinath.....
We walk down a narrow, dirty road, past people selling their handcrafts, past the large temple that only Hindus are allowed entrance to, and down by the Bagmati River. A cow wanders past, seemingly unaware of her god-status. Smoke rises into the air from burning bodies and the families of the deceased watch soberly, hoping that the soul of their loved one will find safe passage to it's next life. We continue on, past the houses where people come to die and across the old bridge. On the other side of the river now we make our way up steps and past small buildings that shelter various deities. We find ourselves in a grove of trees and are delighted to see monkeys - Momma monkeys carrying their young, and little playful monkeys making mischief. Huge butterflies and gossamer dragonflies flutter by in the clear air. Beyond the city loom snow covered mountains, the foothills of the majestic Himalaya.
We come out of the trees now to the building that the Milk Baba calls home. We take off our shoes outside the door and step inside his small room. He's sitting there on a mattress atop the floor. His long, long dreadlocks are wrapped elegantly around his head and tied with a strip of yellow cloth above the bright tika mark on his forehead. He is dressed all in white, and welcomes us graciously. Pictures of Hindu gods, many draped with tinsel garlands and strands of beads, cover the walls. There are also pictures of the Milk Baba in other countries where he has traveled at the invitation of his devotees. Most out of place in the wall decor is a very Catholic looking picture of the Virgin Mary.
We sit down on the floor as he puts water on to boil on a small burner sitting in the middle of the floor. A Nepali woman in a pink sari sits in the corner with a small girl wearing a frilly dress. A young disciple plays tabla drums while the Milk Baba sings a hymn to Rama and Krishna. Someone tosses coins in through the open door. Gus has a question for the sadhu.
"What is the Path?"
"Devotion" is the Baba's reply.
"To whom?" asks Gus. "Brahma? Krishna?"
The Milk Baba throws tea leaves into the steaming water. "They are all the same. All gods take you to the same place."
Fifty-two years of dreadlocks shift and he pushes them back into place, forward, toward the tika. Gus asks him to sing a simple song, one we can sing along with.
Gus alone joins in this song to Shiva, the destroyer. The smell of tea fills the air. Gus explains to us that the Hindu deities are not really gods, merely representations of various aspects of the Supreme Being. So, he says, it wouldn't be a betrayal for us to sing to Shiva. We disagree. The woman in the corner nurses her child and a young boy brings cups for tea. I wonder if they've been washed in the river near where the bodies are burned. The Milk Baba pours steaming tea for us and the boy serves it. More money is tossed in and the sadhu discreetly tucks it between the floor and his mattress. We sip our tea and talk for a few minutes.
It's time for us to be going now. We thank the Milk Baba and step outside, blinking in the bright sunshine. We find our shoes and walk away. Monkeys wash in the river. There are table full of carvings and statues of various Hindu gods. Go ahead and pick one. They're all the same.
Across the river a new body, wrapped in saffron cloth, lies waiting to be burned.
We spent hours, and days, with travelers like Gus, many of whom were asking the same question: what is the Path? Most of those were seeking the answer in the religions of the east. As we got to know them we shared our lives together: we crammed into traincars and rode rickshaws, ate curry and camped in the forest, we hiked mountains and rode elephants. As through all of those things we sought to point the way to the One who didn't just show us the path, but who is the Path.

*Gus is not his real name.

Friday, July 28, 2006

A Crane, a Train, and a Birthday

I'm 31 today. That used to sound old but my perspective has changed a bit over the years! I had a hard time thinking of things this year when asked what I would like for my birthday. The reason? I have everything I need, and much more. For most of my life my greatest wish was to be a wife and mama. The Lord has wonderfully fulfilled this desire and blessed me with a loving husband and wonderful children. What more could I want!
This morning Erik invited us to come to his work-site because they were bringing in a gigantic crane to move something. We packed some muffins, parked across the street, opened the van door and sat to watch the action. It was pretty exciting- a huge crane, seeing Daddy at work, and watching a train rumble by all in one morning! At one point this certainly wouldn't have been my first choice in how to spend my birthday morning, but today I wouldn't have had it any other way. My happiest moments are when my family is together, sharing life and making memories. Seeing Peregrine's excitement at watching the crane, and Alethea smile when she saw her Daddy, seeing my hard-working husband wave to us from across the street- those thing brought me great joy this morning. My life- and my joy- are wrapped up intricately in theirs. Now I understand why my Mom, when asked what she wants, always would say "I just want all my children to love each other." My family came over a few nights ago and had a celebration for me. Apart from my brothers being too far away to be here it was wonderful. The best moment though, for me, was watching Peregrine's face as he brought me my piece of key lime pie. His voice rang out with a loud "Happy Birthday dear Mama" and his face shone with happiness. Moments like those are the ones I'll remember for a long time. I am indeed blessed beyond anything I could have asked or imagined!
Here are a few pictures of the best gifts a Mama could ever want:

Peregrine Olive-fingers

Alethea the Blue-eyed Girl

My ever-lovin' husband and me!
(And no, we don't always dress like this.)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A Call to Prayer

It was nearly six years ago, en-route from Thailand to Nepal, I found myself staying overnight in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The air was stifling, warm and sticky. We were bussed from the airport to a hotel and not allowed to leave until they came for us the next day. We were served dinner around 10 at night and finally fell asleep, exhausted from the day's travels. The next morning I was awoken at 5AM by the Muslim call to prayer being broadcast over a loudspeaker from the nearest mosque. I walked out onto the tiny balcony and listened. I heard the faithful responding, and I began to pray for them. Here is what I wrote later in my journal:
This morning I have looked down upon the street and watched them go by: men in their dhotis pedal rickshaws carrying businessmen and a few women and children. A man carrying chickens that looked freshly killed. Women in colorful saris and some in black, completely veiled. Brightly decorated trucks loaded with bricks and cement. Bicycles pulling trailers piled with uniform-clad school children. An old man with white beard carrying pineapple and a woman beneath an umbrella to shade her from the sun. Women with babies on their laps and a young boy, barefooted. Men wearing long white tunics and white caps. Everyone coming, going, living their lives. I love their faces: dark skin, darker eyes, bright smiles.
This was the first time that the world of Islam became real to me, the moment it became people; moms and dads and kids. Real people who live and breathe and work and play and feel pain. During my time in Asia I became familiar with hearing the call to prayer throughout the day and seeing these people go about their lives. With world events as they are it's sometimes easy to forget that they're just people like you and I, most of whom have never been introduced to our Savior.

For the past several years Christians all over the world have joined to pray for the Muslim world during Ramadan, the month that Muslims are required to fast. This year it will be from September 24th through October 23rd. I've participated in this some years and plan to do so again this year. There's a booklet available that gives you specific countries or people groups to pray for each day, or you can choose to receive the information through email. I personally find that I do better with the booklet as email is just too easy to ignore. I think this would be a great thing to do together as a family as it will give your children some exposure to Islam, and a greater understanding of current events, but in the context of prayer. And of course there are lots of educational opportunities as well- geography and culture and history come to mind. The 30-days website also has information about Islam and other resources, including a printable calendar designed for kids. I hope that many of you, along with your families, will answer the call to prayer for the Muslim world.

Muslim Women Praying by Henri Cartier-Bresson

"The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." -Jesus

Monday, July 24, 2006

N is for Nose-Warmer

Yes, a Nose-Warmer is just the thing to keep your nose warm in this weather we've been having. At least Peregrine seems to think so! Here are a few of the things we hope to do for the letter N:
  • Read the story of Noah from the Bible
  • Practice Number recognition
  • Eat Nachos for lunch
  • Practice counting by fives using Nickels
  • Look at pictures from Nepal
  • Make a Cheerios Necklace
  • Take a Nature walk
  • Learn Matthew 6:24 "No one can serve two masters."

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Tools for Parents

I've learned a lot of expressions from my husband, and one of them is "You need the right tool for the right job." When it comes to raising our kids we've been given the right tools- Scripture contains all we need for life and godliness- but learning how to use them and apply them in our lives and the lives of our children is often a challenge. I don't believe there's a "one size fits all" method for raising children as each one is unique and needs different things at different times. But I do believe that God will give each of us the wisdom we need as we seek Him. Peregrine, our first-born, is smart, talkative, and funny. He's also very independent and has a strong will to rival his Mama's. We're continually seeking God for wisdom on how to train him up in the way he should go. God promised that if we lack wisdom and ask Him for it, He will give it to us, so I have to believe that He is guiding us as we guide our precious children. There are a few tools that I've begun to learn how to use recently that I believe are being effective in "building" our little man.
The first is using Scripture more regularly in teaching him, and especially in correcting him. It's easy to rebuke or discipline a child for disobedience and neglect training them in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." When we use appropriate Scriptures in the correction and training of our children we're teaching them how to apply God's Word to their own lives and depositing in their hearts Scriptures that the Holy Spirit can remind them of later. We also, by doing this, are showing them that there's a higher authority than Mom and Dad, a holy God who they will one day answer to. I often explain to Peregrine that part of my job as Mommy is to teach and train him to obey me so that he will learn how to obey God. An excellent book to have on hand is Parenting with Scripture by Kara Durbin. It's an alphabetical guide of various topics and issues that we deal with in our children (and in ourselves.) For each topic she gives several Scriptures that address it as well as things you could discuss with your child and practical ways to apply Scriptural truths. At Peregrine's age I choose just a couple of the Scriptures to read with him and then we can talk together about them, but for an older child you could have them look up several of the verses and use some of the suggestions as well. I know there are other handy reference guides like this and with any of them I think it's important to take the time to read the verses from the Bible, not just the book.
The second "tool" we've been using is the time-out. I know all kids are different but Peregrine would choose a spanking over a time-out any day. So I reserve the use of it, generally, for the thing that seems to be the biggest heart issue at the time: currently we're dealing with arguing. Any response that that doesn't show compliance means three minutes in Daddy's big chair and I start the timer only once he's quiet. The thing I've been doing differently with time-outs is that, when it's possible, I take a time-out too, and sit and pray for him. He knows that I'm using the time to pray for him and then we pray together afterward. This has been helpful for me, to pray specifically about the arguing when it happens, and of course God hears and answers our prayers!
The third thing I've learned lately also involves prayer. I've been reading a Proverb in the morning, but what started out as just reading has turned more into praying the Proverbs for my family. It's so easy for my mind to wander when I pray and this not only helps keep me focused but it also guides me in prayer. There's such a wealth of things to pray for and as I read each verse I turn it into a simple prayer for various members of the family and sometimes for all of us. It's also helpful to apply Scripture this way as it seems to stay in my mind more throughout the day, and as I deal with Peregrine sometimes a verse I read/prayed that morning comes to mind and I can share it with him. I find that many of the Proverbs apply to him, some for the stage he is in now and others for the future.
Here is an example of some of the things I pray as I read, taken from the first few verses of Proverbs 20, this morning's chapter:

1 Wine is a mocker, Strong drink is a brawler, And whoever is led astray by it is not wise.
Lord, please keep our children from ever abusing alchohol and being led astray by it. Let them instead be filled with the Holy Spirit.

2 The wrath of a king is like the roaring of a lion; Whoever provokes him to anger sins against his own life.
Please help our children to make wise choices and stay out of trouble with the law.

3 It is honorable for a man to stop striving,
Since any fool can start a quarrel.
Help us to be peacemakers and to teach our children that as well.

4 The lazy man will not plow because of winter;
He will beg during harvest and have nothing.
Help Peregrine to be a diligent worker and be a good provider for his family some day.

5 Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water,
But a man of understanding will draw it out.
Please help Peregrine to grow to be a man of understanding, one who will seek wise counsel.

6 Most men will proclaim each his own goodness,
But who can find a faithful man?
Help us to walk in humility; help our children not to be boastful, and teach us all to be faithful to You and to one another.

7 The righteous man walks in his integrity;
His children are blessed after him.
Please help Erik and I to always walk in integrity and to leave a blessing of godliness for our children.

8 A king who sits on the throne of judgment
Scatters all evil with his eyes.
Please help our President to make wise choices that honor You and bring justice in this land. Let evil be scattered and strengthen him to do what it right in Your eyes.

I've been encouraged by discovering and using these tools. I share them with the hope that you may find them useful in building up your family as well.
Proverbs 14:1 "The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish woman pulls it down with her own hands."
Lord teach us to build our homes and families, to be wise women who honor and glorify You.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

M is for Moonlight

Moonlight on Snow (by Erik)

M, M, Marvelous and Magical.....

* Make Muffins
* March around Jericho (also known as the dining room table!)
* Read The Mitten by Jan Brett
* Practice 1 John 3:18 "My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth."
* Play a matching game
* Read Milly Molly Mandy stories
* Enjoy listening to Music composed by Mozart

Monday, July 17, 2006

Simple Summer Pleasures

I'll admit that summer isn't my favorite season, although it's lovely. I'm not a big fan of the heat, but there's something about the way summer feels that I love. Here are a few things that evoke summery feelings for me:

* Lazy evenings and late sunsets
* Getting to see my kids' arms and legs
* The way water droplets condense on the outside of a glass
* Running in the sprinkler
* Waterfights
* Eating popsicles

My Mom always made popsicles for us, and my sister just reminded me of this recipe she used to make. I've made them a few times recently and remember why we all loved them so much as kids. Here's the recipe:

Orange "Creamsicles"
1 T. Honey dissolved in 1/4 C. warm water
1/4 C. Orange Juice concentrate
1 1/2 C. Plain Yogurt
1/2 t. Vanilla

Mix all ingredients thoroughly and pour into popsicle molds. This recipe makes two cups; adjust as necessary to fill your mold.

Happy Summer!

Friday, July 14, 2006


The Clays and us in Strasbourg, France in 2003. (We've both added a child since then!)

I'd like to ask a favor on behalf of my dear friends Corrigan and Shelley Clay. Shelley is one of my best friends from high school and even though we've not lived in the same town since 1992 we've remained close. She married Corrigan six years ago and they've spent the last three years living in Germany. They work with Young Life and reach out to American junior high and high school kids on military bases. Since being over there they've also had two wonderful kids, Keziah and Zebedee. They're getting ready to leave Germany and move to Vancouver B.C. Shelley will continue being a wonderful Mommy and Corrigan will be studying Theology, Art, and Culture at Regent College. He's a very talented graphic artist, painter, and photographer and is passionate about connecting the Gospel with the culture using various art forms.
Some of Corrigan's photography is in an online art contest and I'm writing this to ask if you would take a couple moments to go online and vote for him. He is currently in the top 10 out of over 600 contestants. The winner will receive a gallery art showing in New York, which would be a dream come true for him. This contest, due to the way it's set up, is really about who can campaign for the most votes, so I'm doing some shameless campaigning for my friend! His pictures are beautiful and I think it would be wonderful for his to get more exposure, especially since his heart is to communicate Truth through his work.
You do have to register in order to vote, but it only takes a moment and I've not received any email from the site. Anyone with an email address can sign in and cast 20 votes. If other members of your family have a separate email address you can vote for them too! Here's how you do it:
  • Go to and enter the siteOn the bottom of the page, click on Join/Login
  • Once you complete the short registration, click on view contestants
  • On the Contestant page type "Corrigan" into the "Find by handle or name" box, then click on find
  • Click on the arrow to see his work, and then vote, vote, vote. (And then vote 17 more times!)

Thanks so much for taking the time to do this. Please feel free to let others know about this as well. (Copy and paste this whole thing if you'd like!) And if you're interested on finding out more about Corrigan or seeing more of his work you can check out his myspace page and blog, or this site.
Go Corrigan!!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

A Collosal Rant

Pomaleedon has challenged me, not to a dual, nor to a battle of wits, but to a colossal rant. Very well then. I accept.
All week I've been considering topics worthy of such a rant. Email forwards, especially those which employ spiritual manipulation to get you to pass them on, were a possibility. Carpet under the dining room table, such as we've had in our last two homes, was strongly considered. Companies who call me and then don't even have the courtesy to have a live person on the other end really bug me. The utter lack of customer service in many stores gets me going sometimes. Then last night all of those ideas got blown away by something I can really rant about. So here goes.
Have you ever stopped to think about how little of the food you buy is actually in it's natural state, the way God created it? I'm not talking here about Cheetos and PopTarts and Blue KoolAid. I'm talking about things we think of as healthy food, things we use to cook our "from scratch" meals. Believe it or not, I'm talking about the staples: milk, eggs and meat, fruits and vegetables.
Milk I grew up on a farm and milk came in fresh from Mrs. Moo the cow. The cream rose to the top; Mom skimmed some of it off to use for other things, and we drank it. In it's natural state. Milk we buy in the store is both pasteurized and homogenized. Pasteurization of course is done to protect you, to kill any possible harmful bacteria and give the milk a longer shelf life. (When pasteurization became the norm, there was little refridgeration and conditions were not as sanitary as they are now.) Unfortunately it does this by killing all the good bacteria too, which God put in milk to protect you. It also destroys enzymes and vitamins that naturally occur. It's suspected to be a culprit in a host of ailments, including allergies, which are on the rise. Incidentally, calves do very poorly when given pasteurized milk instead of raw milk. Raw milk dairies are required to adhere to much stricter standards of health for their cows and cleanliness for their operations than dairies that pasteurize. Speaking of healthy cows, a cow's natural diet consists primarily of grasses supplemented by grains, vegetables, silage, etc. But "commercial" cows are fed things unnatural to them, like soy meal (laden with hormones) and food scraps. Prone to disease, they're pumped with antibiotics, and to boost milk production (read: money) they're given artificial hormones . Now, when a human mother is breast-feeding she tends to be careful about what she puts into her body, knowing that what she eats her baby eats too, yet we are subject to milk that is from cows routinely given antibiotics and hormones! My other "beef" with milk is homogenization. We are warned of the dangers of butterfat (cream) which naturally occurs in milk, yet did you know that in it's natural, non-homogenized form, the fat molecules are too small to be absorbed into the bloodstream? Instead, milk is pushed forcefully through tiny filters to break up the fat molecules, leaving them suspended in the milk. This also makes them tiny enough to pass through the wall of the intestines into the bloodstream contributing to clogged arteries, heart disesase, and obesity.
This is discouraging, and I feel like I'm left with few options. We drank soymilk for a while, until I researched that and became increasingly uncomfortable with the high levels of hormones that occur in soybeans. Organic milk is available, at twice the price, about $5 a gallon. Unfortunately, organic milk, since it usually comes from further away, tends to be ultra-pasteurized, which brings the milk to higher temperatures within seconds, killing off more good stuff than even regular pasteurization. You can buy organic, ultra pastuerized, non-homogenized milk for upwards of $7 a gallon. It's illegal to sell raw milk in Oregon, although for a while it could be sold as long as it was labeled "Not for human consumption. Pet use only." The price? $16 per gallon! You can find a family farmer who is willing to sell you milk in it's natural state, but where we live it's not easy to find. Last resort? Move to the country and start milking!
Eggs They come from chickens of course. Chickens who, for the most part, live and die in tiny little cages stacked one on top of another under bright lights in a huge building. We were able to buy farm fresh eggs for a while, and, (gasp!) the yolks were dark and flavorful, not pale like their commercial counterparts. Chickens who get to live outdoors and eat "real" food, who aren't prone to diseases, and who are allowed to live according to the rhythms of the sun and moon just make better eggs. Period. And you know those "free-range" eggs? I've heard that here in Oregon, eggs can be labeled as free range if the chicken's door is open for 15 minutes per day, allowing the the opportunity to stretch their little chicken legs for a while. Here in the city we are allowed to have two hens. I guess more might be too loud or something. Yeah, they might actually drown out the dalmations on the other side of the fence.
Meat Not too much to say about this one. More hormones and antibiotics and more unnatural food. And chicken breasts "enhanced with up to 15% of a solution." Enhanced? With a solution? Yes, one that, if it contains "broth" probably contains MSG and lots of sodium. And you'd better factor that 15% into the cost per pound, because what you're really paying for there is water.
Fruits and Vegetables When I was buying my produce at a warehouse grocery store I realized that about a third of my fruit was rotting before it ever ripened. And a lot of it just didn't taste that good. I lived in Santa Cruz one summer and was astounded at how they would plant one crop after another in a field. The soil is depleted of nutrients, which means the farmers have to dump large quantities of commercial fertilizer in the soil, followed by synthetic pesticides, some of which end up in the finished product. Natural, time honored farming methods, such as crop rotation, fallowing, composting, and companion planting have fallen out of use in favor of bigger produce, faster growth time, and more, more, more. And fruit that you think is fresh, like apples in the fall, have probably been sitting for over a year. Because they store well they're packed into large containers, vacuum sealed, and stored in a climate controlled warehouse. If a piece of fruit starts losing nutrients the moment it's picked then I really have to wonder if there's much good left in this stuff by the time it hits the grocery store shelves. No wonder they coat it with wax to make it look pretty and shiny. Has anyone else noticed that fruit doesn't taste as good as it used to? When we started getting our produce through an organic co-op we were incredulous- it tasted SO much better! Unfortunately organic produce tends to be expensive, but if you can find a co-op, or start one, or become a CSA member of a local farm it's a good way to go. Another problem is that organic certification is very expensive which makes it hard for many small farms who use traditional farming methods. Here's a link that gives some good information on which produce is safest as far as pesticide contamination.
Okay, I think I'm almost done. I could go on. (And on and on!) Why is it so hard to just buy normal, natural food anymore? Why is it that to actually find something that hasn't been severely tampered with costs so much more money? Why aren't more people questioning the "norm" which is really not "normal" at all? Why is the FDA doing nothing to protect what is actually good, normal, and safe for our bodies? Oh, maybe it's because they're just the puppet of the pharmaceutical industry. And if we could actually get food that would help us to be healthy, then we wouldn't need to spend *billions* of dollars each year on medications and drugs and doctor visits and surgeries. Maybe a lot of the diseases rampant in our country would become virtually unheard of again and we would enjoy longer, healthier lives.
All that being said, I am thankful for what I can get, and will give my family the best food I can. It's not always practical, or feasible financially to buy organic, although I do as much as possible. I will not live in fear, but I will also seek out food that is as close to it's natural state as possible. I know that the body is temporal, but I still believe we should take care of it. Physical strength and a long life are not the main goal I have for my family, but I want to give them good health, as much as it's up to me, so that we're able to serve the Lord with all our strength. The food aspect of this is obviously something I feel strongly about, but it's not my driving passion. (And we're not health food fanatics, believe it or not. My theory is that if we eat healthy as a rule, then we can indulge sometimes and not feel guilty!)
Okay Pomaleedon, you asked for it! I ranted, I raved, I foamed at the mouth and smoked at the ears. Well, not quite, but I do get worked up about this.
It's your turn fellow bloggers. What makes you rant?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

L is for Leaf

For the Love of Learning Letters Let us Linger no Longer:

  • Go to the Library and sign up for the Summer Reading Program
  • Find Leaves and draw them
  • Read Are You a Ladybug? by Judy Allen and Tudor Humphries
  • Practice Lacing
  • Learn about Lighthouses
  • Practice Mathhew 5:16 "Let your Light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."
  • Read 1 Corinthians 13 and talk about what real Love is

Monday, July 10, 2006

Little Pilgrim's Progress

As a parent I want the books I read my children to not only be entertaining, but to open their eyes to the world around them and present Truth to their little hearts. Little Pilgrim's Progress, a child's version of John Bunyan's classic allegory of the Christian life, does just that. Helen Taylor does an excellent job of keeping the story simple enough to thoroughly engage my 3 1/2 year old son without dumbing or watering it down. It has everything an active little boy could want in a story- adventure and battles, danger, swords, giants and dragons and it's full of spiritual lessons along the way. The chapters are short, only two to three pages, and each one left us eager to find out what was going to happen next.
The book is divided into two sections, the first being the story of little Christian, a boy living in the City of Destruction. The King sends him a message through His servant Evangelist and Christian sets out on his pilgrimage toward the Celestial City. Along the way he meets other servants of the King who help him along the path and some who become his traveling companions for parts of the journey. He also meets with many of the King's enemies; Self, Worldly, and the Giant Despair who inhabits Doubting Castle to name a few. He learns to love the Prince as he faces danger, temptation, doubts, and even suffers on behalf of being one of the King's Pilgrims. The second half of the book is the story of Christiana, a friend of Christian's from the City of Destruction. She too is summoned by the King and sets out along with her brothers and baby sister. Because they're so young the King gives them a guide, a young man called Greatheart. As they travel their company grows to include many others, and it's wonderful to see the children learn to love and trust the King as they journey toward His city.
My son loves to play that he's a character from whatever we're reading, and because this story is about children he especially enjoys playing that he's one of the King's little pilgrims. Even though they're young they face great danger, and the King makes them brave and strong to fight battles. This story has given us many opportunities to talk about the great Spiritual truths that are inherent in it. My son's name, Peregrine, is Latin for Pilgrim or wanderer, so I was able to explain that to him in the context in which we intended it when we called him that.
I think one of the marks of a good children's story is that it can also keep the attention of the adult reader! Little Pilgrim's Progress not only did that, but challenged and encouraged me in my own journey on the Way of the King. I know that this will be a book we'll want to read many times. I, for one, can hardly wait!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

What's for Breakfast?

At our house this is one question that's pretty easy to answer. A while back, while trying to get more raw foods into our diet, I began to make muesli for breakfast. Muesli is an oat based cereal that originated in 1900 with a Swiss doctor. He came up with it as a healthy food for patients in his hospital. In it's most basic form it's a mixture of oats, nuts and/or seeds and fresh or dried fruit. Because it's made from whole grains it gives lots of energy that we and our kids need to start the day. In fact, it's one of the only things I feel really keeps me going until lunchtime. It's high in fiber, low in fat and sugar, inexpensive, easy to prepare, and it tastes great! I make a batch about every two weeks and store it in a gallon jar.
We eat this most weekdays. Once a week I will make pancakes or muffins with the kids for a little variety. On Saturdays we have waffles made from scratch, and Sundays vary. Depending on the time sometimes I will make eggs or we eat cold cereal.
I make it a little differently each time, depending on what we have around. I try to buy raw nuts and seeds, as they retain more nutrition. You can use whatever kind of nuts, seeds, and dried fruit that your family likes, or add fresh fruit when you serve it. An Austrian woman once made this for me and she mixed it with yogurt the night before and let it soften. There's no one right way to make or eat it, so even though we eat the same basic breakfast most days we still have lots of variety!
This is a great recipe for the kids to help with. Peregrine loves to help measure and pour and stir, and since the amounts aren't so important he can have a little more freedom than with some other recipes.
Here's our basic recipe:

7 C. Oats
4 C. Oat Bran
1-2 C. Seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, etc.)
1 1/2 C. Nuts
1-2 C. dried fruit (any combination of raisins, cranberries, blueberries, apples, etc.)
1 T. Cinnamom
1 t. Cardamom (optional, but good for digestion and tastes yummy)

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl then transfer to an airtight container. This makes enough to fill a gallon jar. To serve, scoop out 1/3 to 1/2 cup into each bowl. We like to add 1 teaspoon of pure maple syrup and then mix it with either plain yogurt or kefir. You could also also sweeten it with honey or applesauce. Fresh or frozen berries or chopped apple are a nice addition, but not necessary.

What do you do for breakfast?

Monday, July 03, 2006

Bits and Pieces

Here's a little update on what's going on at our house these days:

* It looks like the strike is finally happening, starting tomorrow. Even though Erik has opted out of the Union he will strike for this week, mainly to maintain a relationship with the men he works with. He's carefully weighed all his options and feels that this will keep the peace.

* I don't have a baby anymore. Alethea is toddling all over the place now and has fully made the transition from floor dweller to kid. We are seeing more of her personality every day and it's fun to watch her blossoming.

* Peregrine and I made a paper kite last week and it actually flies! It's pretty exciting. Here's a picture of him flying it with his Papa:

* Erik finally got the coffee roaster he's been building up and running! It's taken a long time and this weekend he was able to roast his first batch of coffee. Now he's working out the kinks and perfecting his blend and then he'll be ready to hit the market. It's been fun to watch him dream this and go for it. I'm really proud of him, and it's been neat to learn about how the process works. He can roast several pounds of coffee in less than 15 minutes, bringing the beans up to almost 450 degrees and than cooling them in under a minute! I think my man is awfully clever, I do. Too bad I don't like coffee!
The Roaster, with Cooling Tray Mounted on the Right

Green Coffee Beans

The Roasted Beans in the Cooling Tray

* And me? I've been on an organizing rampage. This weekend I brought out my six totes full of fabric, patterns, quilting, crafting, and sewing supplies. Yikes! I'm ashamed at my utter lack of organization- it's been so bad that I couldn't even work on anything since I couldn't find what I needed. I sorted and labeled and got it all organized and I'm quite excited now that everything has a place. I can sew again! Here's a picture of all the little things- thread, buttons, notions, etc. These were previously all in a jumble together. Ugh.

That's all for now. I hope you have a great week. I'm off to do some more organizing while the kids are having their rest!