Monday, December 22, 2008

A New Friend

I am adding a new friend to my sidebar. Carrie Trunick is married to a man who used to be a little boy I occasionally babysat many years ago. The Trunicks are Very Important People in our lives. The senior Trunicks (Carrie's in-laws) were used of the Lord to put Tom and me together. They arranged meetings between the two of us, making it possible for us to get to know each other in a variety of settings. I honestly believe that if it hadn't been for their prodding, Tom would never have seriously pursued me.

Carrie and her husband Bill are caretakers of my all-time most favorite spot on all this earth: Maranatha Bible Conference in Worthington, PA. I attended as a camper there for the first time when I was 11 years old. I grew up there in a very real sense. My first summer job was in that kitchen. My first experience as a camp counselor was in one of the log cabins on the hill above the main camp grounds. It was at that camp that God saved me. There I also met my husband, and became engaged. The whole of the rest of my life would never have been the same were it not for that place and the many godly people I've met there over the years.

I finally got to meet Carrie last August when we went down for a conference. She's a sweetie with three adorable little boys. She's a beginning home schooler, with all the same struggles as the rest of us stay-at-home, home schooling moms--namely, how to juggle schooling, housework, quiet time with the Lord, and quality husband-time, while still staying connected with extended family and the rest of the outside world.

Well, I've got my own little boy to put to bed now. When you get some time, check out Carrie's notes.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Whole Grain Variety Bread

I made my first loaf of bread when I was 12 years old. In the 30 years since then, I've put countless loaves of fresh bread on the table for my family. Usually it was white bread, sometimes whole wheat. Thirteen years ago, when we moved to Texas, I was introduced to fresh ground flour. I bartered with our landlord: They supplied the fresh flour for both our families, I baked it into bread for both our families.

I used to bake on Saturdays, baking enough bread for the whole week. We froze it to keep it fresh till we needed it. But freezing destroys some of the vitamins in whole wheat flour, so now I bake bread every other day or so.

I just put today's batch of bread in the oven. Just recently I changed my ever-evolving bread recipe--again. Last week we bought a used grain grinder from friends of ours. My wheat grinder works well, but only for small grains like wheat, rice and barley. I needed something for larger grains like corn and dried beans. (No, beans aren't a grain, but they do go well in bread.)

I still had some dried sweet corn from two summers ago, so when Josiah brought home the new grinder, we tried running that through. It made good cornmeal, but not as fine as I wanted for bread flour. So we ran the grindings through my wheat grinder. It turned out well.

There is a pleasant sense of satisfaction that comes from baking bread using corn you plant, hoe, water, pick, husk, dry, shell and grind into flour yourself. Sort of like the Little Red Hen. Next we're going to try field corn Elijah and Ben gleaned from a nearby corn field. Like Ruth and Naomi.

So here's my current recipe, which is subject to change. If you don't have a grain grinder or a friend with a grain grinder, just use all wheat flour.

Whole Grain Variety Bread
Makes 4 loaves

5 cups very hot tap water
1 cup rolled oats
4 cups whole wheat flour
3 cups variety flour made from any other combination of grains and/or dried beans
2 tablespoons yeast
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup honey
3-4 cups or so unbleached flour
Pour hot water over rolled oats. Set aside. Mix together wheat flour, variety flour, yeast and salt. Add oil, honey, and oatmeal mixture. Stir very well.

Add unbleached flour, 1 or 2 cups at a time, until the dough is stiff enough to knead. Scrape out the dough onto the table. I use a hard plastic scraper to get as much as I can out of the bowl and off the mixing spoon. Then I use flour to rub off the rest. This eliminates a gooey mess in the sink.

Knead in more unbleached flour until the dough is no longer sticky, but still just a little bit tacky. Too much flour makes a drier, more crumbly loaf; not enough makes the dough too sticky to handle well.

Pour about a couple tablespoons of oil in the bottom of the mixing bowl. Put the ball of dough in and turn it around so that all of the dough is coated with oil. Cover loosely with a lid or damp dish towel. Let it rise until it's at least doubled. I usually get busy with other things and forget about it, only to turn around and see the dough lifting the lid and bulging out.

Dump the dough out on the table and punch it flat. If you have little children in your house, let them wash their hands and punch. They love it. They can also help you grease four bread pans with butter. (Oil doesn't coat the pans well enough.) Divide the dough into four pieces and roll them into loaf shapes. When you do this, make sure you're getting rid of any air pockets. Put into pans and put into the cold oven. The oven rack should be one notch lower than middle.

Turn the oven on to 350-375 (depends on how hot your oven is--the temp. should be 375, but my oven heats hotter than the setting, so I set it for 350). Set the timer for 40 minutes. The bread should be done when the timer goes off. You want a loaf that is nicely browned all over.

Turn the bread out onto a wire rack to cool. You can slice thinner slices after it's cool, or you can slice it thicker and enjoy wonderful fresh hot bread right away.

The cry of "Fresh bread!" will bring your children, your neighbours' children and the friends who just pulled in to see the work being done on your house flocking around. Don't be surprised if one or two loaves disappear before your very eyes. Take it as a compliment and start the whole process again the next day.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Paul Washer on Courtship and Dating

I hope every parent and every single person aged 12 and up who reads this blog will listen to these messages. Here is a way to be biblically and radically different from your culture. This is cutting, convicting, wonderful, sobering, practical stuff. I can't stress enough the importance of the message Paul Washer puts forth in these three sermons.

There is a problem with two of the messages in that for some reason you don't get the whole thing, but there is enough of it there that they're still worth listening to.

Courtship, Part 1
Courtship, Part 2

Monday, December 01, 2008

A Radically Different Family

Yesterday I was home with coughing, sniffling, sneezing--thankfully, no wheezing!--children. For our Sunday service at home, I looked up some Paul Washer sermons. You can find a bunch of them here. These are very good, and I recommend them to everyone.

In the sermon we listened to yesterday morning, Bro. Washer said that we cannot influence our culture by being like the culture in dress, music, speech, etc., but by being radically different. How do you be radically different?

This morning I decided to start reading through Luke. The very first family mentioned was the ideal Christian family. Read Luke chapter one. You will find three verses that say that so-and-so was "filled with the Holy Ghost." Their names are Zacharias, Elisabeth and John. And they were radically different from even their seemingly righteous Jewish culture in at least three instances. And these three instances were "little" things.

1. Zacharias and Elisabeth insisted on naming their son John, when there were no other Johns in the family. This just wasn't done in those days. But God said to name him John, so they named him John.

2. John wore clothes made out of camel's hair, held in place with a belt made of leather. Quite different from the fine priestly robes he could have worn as part of the family of Aaron. But John came in the spirit and power of Elijah, and even dressed like him (see 2 Kings 1:8).

3. John ate locusts and wild honey. He could have feasted on the best that the land had to offer of the part of the sacrificial foods that were set aside for the priests and their families.

Food, clothes and baby names. Not what the average Christian today generally prays about, submitting their choices to the Lord for approval. Actually they didn't even do that. God didn't look over their choices and say, "Oh, that's a good choice; yeah, do that." No. They didn't offer their choices to Him. They just listened to what He said, and obeyed. In the little things. In everything.

They were not the average family. They were radically different.

They were Spirit-filled.