Distractions, Elections, and Drawing Close to God

Satan’s biggest weapon right now is distraction. That is why this election is so difficult. I believe the struggles we have right now have less to do with politics than it does with the heart and will of our nation. I’m not saying elections don’t matter, but our calling as Christians is not a political one and as the old saying goes “You can’t legislate morality.”

The real problem is why are people jumping on the band wagons they are when families are falling apart, babies are killed by the thousands on a daily basis, porn is destroying hearts, souls, and relationships. There is so much going wrong and choosing the right candidate is not going to solve those problems.

I feel God calling me to step away from the political chaos. Partially because we’ve reached a point where no one is listening and no one’s mind is changed, but mostly because I am seeing it more as a distraction from what I should be doing.

A seminary professor once taught me that all of scripture and all of history show cycles of creation, destruction, and re-creation. We are clearly in the destruction phase. God seems to be saying to me that he did not gift me for this phase. My gifts are for what is to come. I’m spending my energies preparing my heart and listening to God’s direction. I’m trying to make my way through the distractions, turn from my own sins, and see the people God has called me to love more deeply.

The reality is that we can’t truly love like Christ to the masses. Each of us is called to be Christ to those around us. All of these concerns splashed across our screens each day, although valid, are, for the most part, keeping us looking at the distance and not the calling God has for us in our homes and communities.

Yes, the election is important, but God is sovereign. The person who is elected will be the person who God has allowed to be in that office. They may usher in more suffering, but that may be what is needed to heal an unfaithful nation. God calls us to put all of our selves into his hands including the worries and cares. All we can do is ask for his guidance on how to vote. When we ask for his will then whatever decision we choose will be guided by the Holy Spirit even if certainty never comes. God always honors our faithfulness to him.

No president is really going to heal our nation. That happens when the faithful give all to God and spread that to those around them. History shows that the greatest growth of faith happened in times of great persecution. That may be our future. I hope not, but my only hope and the only hope of the nation is for the faithful to draw closer to Christ in all things. All I can do is start with my own heart, listen, and act as God leads.

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Turning 50 and Pondering My Roots

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Recently some hometown friends came to St. Louis and we shared some really amazing time together. We reminisced about our shared history—playing as kids, marching band, etc.  The conversations were also peppered with something more.

One friend reminded me how our parents had grown up together and how my dad had dated his aunt.  I was reminded that the grandparents of my other friend were some of my grandparent’s dearest friends and that my dad built his first race care in her grandfather’s shop.

It all blends so well with my recent thoughts about reaching a milestone age. Today I have reached the half century mark. It still doesn’t seem possible.

I am the youngest in my graduating class by two days.  We have been blessed with some wonderful reunions and I’m always reminded that we have one of the nicest classes to come out of our school. We started out together and many are still involved in each other’s daily lives. For most of us we first started hanging out in the church nursery every Sunday. For me it was the Linden Baptist crowd.

Then as we grew we still had church, but many of us also had our neighborhoods. Pinecrest was teeming with kids back then. We spent the days playing games like rock school, mother may I, red rover, kickball, croquet, and many others. We fashioned floor plans out of pine straw in the yard and played in our straw strewn houses. We sometimes got into trouble. It was clear who the troublemakers were. We still loved them and hung out with them.

All of these thoughts came flooding back to me suddenly one night and they made me thankful that I have something a lot of people don’t have. I have roots. My great grandfather Ed Adams moved to Myrtlewood around 100 years ago.  I feel a deep connection with Myrtlewood because of that history. I would go with Grandmother to visit relatives,  go to the cemetery, or  attend decoration Sunday. She would tell me stories of her life there.  I even have cousins, descendants of my grandmother’s siblings, who never grew up there but are choosing to put down some roots of their own in the communities of their Marengo County grandparents.

There’s power in history and power in home.  I have roots. Maybe that’s what’s missing in this transient world. In our efforts to get jobs and find our way we may have very well lost our roots in the shallow soil of progress. We’ve let the bad things in life and the mundane things overgrow our memories and choke out the good things.

I will be the first to admit that Linden, AL is not a perfect place. Many would go as far to say it has as much in common with Peyton Place as it does with Mayberry, but they are still my roots.  After all, isn’t the calling God gave us to love each other well despite their failings. I’ve got plenty of my own that’s for sure.

I shared history with a group of people whose parents shared history with mine. Our grandparents shared history. Our great grandparents shared history even though I know little about it.  God may never lead my life back there to live, but he gave me the gift of roots and for that I’m thankful.

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Compassion For Women Who Have Experienced Abortion

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I woke up this morning grieving what women who have had abortions might be going through with all of these videos and talk about Planned Parenthood.

Many women really believed what they were told that it was just a mass of cells or a clump of tissue. Many may have known, but were told that the procedure was painless and humane. Different women will have different stories, reasons, and responses. The many stories of grief, anger and despair are real.

I am praying for the women who are dealing with the aftermath of abortion and who may have fresh wounds by what is being revealed. The travesty of what we are seeing is much to bear, but we can’t keep denying the reality of what is going on.

Those who hurt in secret may not feel they have anyone to talk to because they have really been forgotten in this debate. To make things worse, many have been judged by the very people who should be caring for them and offering them hope.

We must remember those who are suffering alone. If you are hurting because you had an abortion please know that healing can come. If you know someone who is hurting or who may be hiding their hurt then reach out to them.

There are plenty of people who are pointing out what is wrong about abortion. There are very few who are reaching out with compassion offering a message of healing, hope and forgiveness to those who are grieving. I know I haven’t been thinking about the silent sufferers. I am changing that today.

http://hopeafterabortion.com/
This website offers many resources to help those who are struggling and to help people who are reaching out to them. They have links to contact local groups which may have support groups, retreats, counseling and other help through Project Rachel and Project Joseph. Project Joseph provides support for men who are struggling because many of them are grieving more than people realize.

 

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Prepping: Faith vs. Fear

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A few months ago I wrote this post about whether or not prepping shows a lack of faith —http://thescholarlyredneck.com/2012/09/does-preparedness-show-a-lack-of-faith/

This past week a Facebook conversation led me to go deeper into this subject. I mentioned in passing that I was a prepper and received a response saying that Catholics shouldn’t be preppers and a lot of angst filled reasons why they were not buying into prepper fearmongering.

I don’t know this person. I was just commenting on a friend’s post, but it seems by what they said that there was a lot of anxiety around Y2K for them and they were determined to not get caught up in that again. It’s a wise thing to do because there is a lot of hype and extremism out there. I also think we need to guard against throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

I responded with the comment below. I think it is a balanced way to view prepping from a Christian perspective which as a calling and vocation with a focus on trusting God over trusting the work of our own hands and living in faith rather than anxiety about the future.

You are basing preparedness on an image from the media and of how a certain subset of preppers think. I see preparing as good stewardship. It is part of my vocation as wife, mother and keeper of my home.

I don’t prepare out of anxiety. I prepare by practicing skills that I may need, by keeping some extra food in storage, by preserving my harvest, by making plans for what I might do in an emergency, by thinking about how I’m going to help my neighbors, etc.

I don’t worry about gaps in my plan. I continue to be diligent and know that God will lead me to prepare as needed as Joseph did with storing the grain in Egypt and trust in faith as the Hebrews did with manna in the desert.

Preparing in itself is not a lack of trust in God. I see it as his leading me to have things in place when inevitable hard times hit. If prepping is producing anxiety you are doing it wrong. If you are placing your faith in your preps, you are also doing it wrong. God’s creatures gather food for the coming winter. All of humanity had to do it before we had mass produced food. It is a natural part of life.

In real life food is seasonal–by God’s design. You can buy tomatoes every day of the year in stores, but in the real world in places that have winter they are only here a couple of months out of the year. You get a whole new perspective on food and God’s providence when you start looking at things outside the modern system.

Prov 6:6-11 says…
“Go to the ant, you lazybones; consider its ways, and be wise.
Without having any chief or officer or ruler, it prepares its food in summer, and gathers its sustenance in harvest. How long will you lie there, O lazybones? When will you rise from your sleep?  A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest,  and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want, like an armed warrior.”

In my opinion most people who think prepping is a lack of faith are still putting their faith in the systems of this world, particularly in very vulnerable food delivery systems. I prepare because God calls me to. I have no fear, no anxiety, and no trust that these things I do and have will save me. I trust in his providence in all that I do whether it is preemptive or after the fact.

 

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A Story to Motivate Us All

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A friend posted this on Facebook and I just had to share. I may very well watch it every day until I start resolutions in January. It just goes to show that we can have hope when everyone else says we shouldn’t.

 

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How To Use Every Bit Of the Turkey

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Thanksgiving is a week away, so I wanted to share with you how I recently cooked two turkeys out of my freezer and was able to use every bit of both birds. I had purchased them last Christmas with the intention of canning them.  Here’s a blow-by-blow of how I used these particular birds. Hopefully it will help you get some ideas on how to get every last drop of goodness out of your leftovers or to take advantage of the great prices on turkeys this time of year.

Going full bird does works better with a pressure canner/cooker, but it is not necessary. Having a dog is helpful, too. The turkeys were about 10 pounds each.

Turkey Meat: I chose to pressure cook the turkeys in my pressure canner along with some peppercorn, onions, carrots, salt and Lawry’s seasoned salt. I intended to add celery, but I was out.  I cooked them separately, even though I have a large canner. Very yummy.

There is a lot of variation on how to pressure cook a turkey. The guideline I’m using right now is 15 pounds pressure for 4 minutes per pound. The meat falls of the bone easily. If you want the turkey more intact then cook at 3 minutes per pound. You may need to use less water to keep it intact. I haven’t experimented with that.

This is how I used the meat…

  • Made turkey salad with mayo, grapes, and walnuts.
  • Sliced some breast meat for sandwiches. I individually froze slices on trays and transferred them to zipper bags.
  • Canned the rest using a a dry pack method. Just put meat in jars with one inch headspace, fill jar halfway with water and can for 75 minutes at 10 pounds pressure for pints. Some people fill with broth, but I wanted to save that for other things. A pint is roughly a pound of turkey based on pre-cooked weight.

I was amazed at how good the canned turkey tasted. Next time I will skip slicing and freezing the turkey breast and just use the canned turkey for sandwiches.

Broth: I covered the turkey with water when cooking and the turkey released water as well. When cooking was done, the remaining liquid was ready to go as broth. I put it in the fridge overnight. The next day I removed the hardened fat and canned the broth. It can also be frozen. If  you roast your turkey, you will not get broth.

I pressure canned the broth and ended up with four quarts. I used 10 pounds pressure and cooked 20 minutes for pints or 25 minutes for quarts with one inch headspace.

Stock: I put the bones, neck and giblets of the turkey into my pressure canner, covered it in water and set it at 10 pounds pressure for one hour. I could have put veggies in it, but I didn’t bother this time.

I got 4-5 quarts of stock. I used most for a pot of soup. I put the rest in the fridge to add to recipes.  If stock is done well it will have a gelatinous consistency when cooled.  It can also be frozen in ice cube trays to be used as flavoring in everyday cooking. Canning stock is the same as canning broth above.
 
Schmalz/Turkey Fat: After the broth and stock had cooled I took the hardened fat, heated just enough to melt and strained it through a cloth. I put it in a mason jar in the fridge  to use for cooking and baking.

Bones: I didn’t even throw out the leftover bones. Pressure cooking will make the bones very soft where they just break away in your hand. I gently crushed them with my hands and fed them to my dog. If you don’t have a dog or don’t trust feeding cooked poultry bones to your animals, you can make bone meal.

Well, that’s the scoop. Turkeys are on sale this week so I will be buying some more and will keep this process going. What I love about this is that I can pull things out of the turkey that I would have normally paid extra for–broth, stock, fat, dog food. That’s a pretty substantial savings. I can also take advantage of seasonal prices and save even more.

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Does Preparedness Show a Lack of Faith?

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People seem to be jumping on the preparedness bandwagon these days. I just saw a rather long list of apocalypse-themed TV shows starting this fall. It is very interesting to watch how this trend is growing. There is much wisdom and much foolishness regarding how and why people are approaching preparedness. Some are building up things to keep them comfortable. Others are stockpiling years and years of food. A few are even shutting down their lives in the regular world and moving their families into isolation in the mountains or roaming the country in RVs. Most are not that extreme in their actions, but many are often guided by fear, anger and even arrogance.

When this topic comes up in discussions there is often someone who comments that practicing  preparedness comes from a lack of faith. On the surface, I think the above examples could be interpreted that way. However, when you look at it more closely it shows a lot of faith. It shows faith in food storage, guns, knowledge, gardens, farm animals, plans, buildings, etc.–temporal things that think we have some control over.

I’m not a super prepper. I have some food stores and some supplies. I work more on developing skills than on amassing huge amounts of supplies. For me prepping is not about being fearful or lacking faith. It is about preparing for a potential future. I consider this to be good stewardship. History and the Bible both teach us that hard times come. People go hungry through wars, famine, natural disasters, foolishness of men, and many other reasons.

Commonly it comes through the selfishness and sin of a culture. Look around and you will see that in our culture. These things don’t just change. People don’t wake up one day and decide they are going to live selfless, Godly lives. That kind of change only happens through hard times–through suffering. Our culture can not change without going through the fire.

It is because of this belief that I prepare. I prepare my mind with knowledge I need to provide for my family, I prepare my home to be safe and to house the things we may need, I prepare my hands to have skills I may need and I prepare my heart to be open to those who may need my help. I do this so that I can care for my family and help others without being greedy, fearful, or isolationist.

I see preparedness as part of my vocation as a wife and mother. I struggle greatly but keep trying to do my best to be the  keeper of my home. It is my responsibility to care for what is and what is to come with the understanding that all is built on a foundation of faith and trust in God–our ultimate caretaker. I strive to give my gifts to God and trust him to bring the increase. Sometimes I find myself living with the fear, anger, and arrogance, too. Those come from putting my faith in myself, the knowledge I have, or the work I have done.

Is practicing preparedness showing a lack of faith? I can only see it as an act of faith. We just have to guard our hearts and minds to make sure our faith is well placed.

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Super Easy Chicken Pot Pie

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This is my easy recipe for chicken or turkey pot pie. It’s one of the recipes we use on a regular basis in our house, but it is not one that fits the gradual lifestyle changes that I have been making. I am working on ideas to make this more healthy and natural. The trick is how do I keep it fairly simple. I’ll be sure to share if I find success. In the meantime, this is a yummy recipe that is nice to have from time to time.

Chicken Pot Pie

Ingredients

  • 2 purchased pie crusts
  • 2 cans of cream of chicken soup
  • 2 cans of Veg-All or other mixed vegetables, drained (frozen works, too)
  • 1 to 2 cups of cooked chicken or turkey

Purchased pie crust options
Pie crusts come either in the pan or rolled up without a pan. They usually come in packs of two.  Here are 3 ways you can handle it.

      • You can get the deep dish pan version and take one of the crusts out of the pan and use it as top crust.
      • Use the rolled crust and place one crust in the bottom of your own pie plate and the other on top
      • Buy a package each of the deep dish crusts and the rolled crusts, double the above ingredients and make 2 pies. They freeze well.

Directions
Layer one can of soup, one can of vegetables, and half of chicken in the bottom crust. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients. They will mound pretty high.

Put top crust in position and pinch the edges closed. Slice top of crust or pierce with a fork several times. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

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Homeschool vs. Public School: A Few Statistics

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A great visual on some of the current homeschool vs. public school statistics. Sources are listed at the end.

Homeschool Domination
Created by: CollegeAtHome.com

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My Clutter Mantras

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I am in the process of digging out of a mound of clutter. It’s often hard to figure out what to throw away. As I mentioned in my previous post, Facing Clutter,  I’m one of those people who can pick up any item and come up with a minimum of 3 ways to use it. 

I have one thing on my side that really helps. Over the years I’ve compiled a few mantras to push my mind into making a decision. These are just simple statements that I say to myself when have an item in question.  They really help me put things in perspective.

  1. Do you use it? Do you love it? Does it make you money?
    I got this one from organizing guru Julie Morganstern. Many times this is all I need to get rid of something, but I often need more help.

  2. If you got rid of it today and needed it later what is the worst that can happen?
    This came from organizing expert Barbara Hemphill who focuses on organizing papers. I’ll ask myself this question if the first one fails. Usually the worst that can happen is that I have to buy a new one. This has come back to haunt me a few times, but for the most part it doesn’t really matter.

  3. What is the cost of keeping it?
    This is my own mantra and sometimes I go straight to it. The costs I look at are losses in energy, time, space, relationships, creativity, peace of mind, or money. If all of the others fail, then this will usually make things very clear.

If I decide to get rid of it then I place it in the trash can, recycling bin, or a donation box. Going through the process makes this part a lot easier

If I have decided to keep it, then I have the additional task of determining where it goes. I make every effort to keep it out of a box of miscellaneous stuff. At the very least I will put it in a container that is sorted by category.

By the time I get to this point I start to see whether my systems are working for me or failing me. With my mind freed up a bit I can figure out how to improve things. It’s still difficult, but as with most of life, it’s a process.

Deborah
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