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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

In Honor of my Grandpa

This is a letter written by my Grandpa Ken, in 1948 when he was 23 years old.
He would have been 90 years old this year if he was still on earth. He is more alive now in Heaven than he's ever been! 

Dear Kansas Bible Campers,

By this time all of the mosquito bites should be healed and maybe you have forgotten about them.  If that is possible!  I hope you have forgotten the bites, but not the Bible lessons.  It is our prayer that those truths may be remembered through life.

Take the 'Quiet Time'  (QT)  for instance.  How is that coming?  Are you keeping that special time with the Lord each day - that set time when you speak to the Lord (prayer) and the Lord speaks to you (Bible reading)?  If you are, I am confident that you are experiencing real joy in your Christian life.

May I say that from experience, keeping the QT is one of the hardest things I have ever done.  Remember, Satan will do all he can to stop you.  I have just been looking at a little booklet on the Quiet Time and I found some very good suggestions.  I'll pass them on to you.

1)    Make Time:   You'll have to plan a certain time for your QT.  You know when it will be best for you.  I personally prefer the early morning, before my mind is clouded with so many details of the day.  Organize your day and set a certain time for you QT.  Rain or shine be there.
"Remember the Lord will be there even if you are not!"  We have set times for our meals, why not for our spiritual meals?  Certainly it is just as important....yes, more important. Decide right now on a time.

2)   Find a quiet place:   Try to be alone.  Sometimes this is difficult, even impossible.  In your home you may have a large family and it is difficult to not have interruptions.  Do your best and ask the Lord to help you.  If there is much noise, you must learn to really concentrate.  I found it very hard sometimes to have my QT in the army when there were men all around me making noise.  But remember the Lord will help you.  Decide right now on a quiet place before you read any more.

3)   Let your heart be still:  We read in the Word, "Be still and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10) We should not rush into the presence of the Lord.  Nothing should hurry us.  Nothing in our day is of more importance.  We are meeting with our Captain before we go out to serve.  How foolish to think that we should go out for Him before we first have met with Him.  "In quietness and confidence shall be your strength." (Isaiah 30:15)

4)  Expect His presence:  Come to Him eagerly expecting something.  You will never be disappointed.  He may show you something in the Bible you have never seen before.  The Word of God is like a gold mine and you will never exhaust its supply.

5)   Look for something for yourself:  The QT is for you and not your neighbor.  You may want to pass on what you get, but that is not the purpose of the QT.  For those of you under high-school age, you may want to pick out a good verse in the chapter of your reading.  But certainly if you in high school and above you should look for a message for yourself.  When you find it, be sure to write it down in your QT notebook.  By the way, have a good notebook and keep a page for everyday.  You may title it like this:

      Quiet Time
       Matthew 1
       Sept. 1, 1948   7:00 AM

Under this title, put what the Lord gives you.  As you write do so in the first person.  For example:   "This is something I need - I need to follow the Lord as Joshua did."  As you close your QT summarize your thoughts into a prayer.

Be sure to have a good Bible.  Use one preferably with no notes at all and has a good sized print.

Start the Quiet Time right away.  These are only suggestions.  Most of them are not original.  I do trust they will help you to be a growing Christian.  If you have any questions about the QT, I would be glad to answer them.

In  His matchless Name,
Chicago, Illinois

Photo taken in 1944 at age 19.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Making Lebanese Ma'amoul cookies

Ma'amoul Cookies 

3/4 cup Medjool dates, pitted and chopped (I used chopped, dates I bought at Walmart. Amport Foods brand)
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon superfine (caster) sugar

Cookie Dough 
3 2/3 cups flour 
1 1/3 cups unsalted butter
1/2 cup confectioner's (icing) sugar (powdered sugar)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup milk

To make the date filling, blanch the dates in boiling water, then quickly immerse in cold water to loosen their skins. Peel and pit the dates, then put them in a saucepan with the water and sugar and bring to a simmer. Cook over a low heat, stirring continuously, until the dates soften and melt to a smooth, sticky mass. Remove from the heat and when cool blitz to a smooth paste with an electric hand-blender. (I used our Vita-Mix instead and it worked fine.)

To make the cookie dough, sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter (I cut it in slices) and rub in with your fingers until it's the consistency of fine crumbs. Add the icing sugar and mix in well. Make a well in the center of the dough and add the oil and milk, then work in until you have a smooth dough.

Dust your work surface with flour. Divide the dough into 2 portions and shape each into a ball. I then put the dough in cling wrap and refrigerated for about 10 minutes while I prepared the cookie mould. Grease your Ma'amoul mold generously with coconut oil.
Take out the cookie dough and shape a small piece of dough and flatten it into the mould.
Use a spoon to put some date mixture inside the dough. Then put another piece of flattened cookie dough on top. Press the edges of the cookie dough together with your fingers.
Tap the mold until the cookie falls out and place on a  greased cookie sheet.

Bake at 325'F for 10 minutes. Then, lower the temperature to 275'F and cook for a further 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on wire racks. The cookies should not color, but remain pale and delicate. 

 They turned out light and flaky with a nice sweet filling. Happy baking!

Here is another recipe for Ma'amoul, with lovely photos too.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Lebanon 2014 -Part 2-

As promised. Part Two of my photos from Lebanon. I will do Part Three later. 

Cross in the mountains showing that it is Maronite land.

      Local shops

     Prickly flowers. I think they are related to the thistle.


      Goats scampering across a road in the Lebanese Mountains.
     Delicious fresh fruit and veg. I made sandwiches with labneh (thick yoghurt the consistency of cream cheese) cheese and cucumber in Saj. (flat bread.)

     Hot Lebanese bread with beef and spicy pepper on it.  I got this fresh from the bakery down the street from where I was living.

     Ma'amoul cookies. Similar to butter cookies with date filling in the middle.

       Arabic, French and English. The three languages of Lebanon... all seen on a car license plate.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Lebanon 2014 -Part 1-

I had the amazing privilege to go to Lebanon this summer. I was there for two short weeks volunteering at a christian school's summer program. 

The Lord was so merciful in my travels there, and I have such wonderful memories. I enjoyed meeting the local believers and hearing Bible teaching in Arabic. (Kind friends translated into English for me.) The arabic hymns were beautiful as well. I practiced Marhaba (Hello) Kifeek/Kifahk (How are you?) and Shukran (Thank you) frequently and added more words to my limited arabic inventory. 

I do not know where to start in writing about my experiences there.... Before I went, friends  expressed concern about me going to Lebanon. It is true, there are car bombs in Beirut, and different areas are dangerous for Americans, but I was in a Maronite Christian area, so I was relatively safe. Besides, when the Lord is with you, the Creator of heaven and earth, what more protection does one need? 

What I learned from the trip was that the Lord is always with me, even when it seems like I am alone. I had to trust in Him, as I flew from Heathrow to Beirut, navigated the airport, and got my luggage. I am accustomed to being with members of my family, so it was a little unnerving but I was on an adventure! I just had to take a deep breath and pray if I felt overwhelmed. This verse was a real encouragement to me. 

"But the Lord is with me as a mighty, awesome One."  
Jeremiah 20:11

Facts on Lebanon

  • Lebanon’s land mass is the size of Connecticut or Wales. Their population was 4,254,583 in 2010. 25% of the population is under the age of 15 years. 

  • The official language is Arabic, but French and English are widely used. 

  • Lebanon is the only Arab state that is not officially Muslim. Shia comprise 37% and Sunni 22%. There are 18 recognized religious communities: 4 Muslims, 1 Druze, 1 Jewish, and 12 Christian.

  • Lebanon remains the only land in the Middle East where all are legally free to change their religious affiliation. 

  • Believers from most other Arab countries can more freely come to Lebanon for Christian training. Pray for this religious freedom to be maintained.

  • Expatriate Christian workers still have a role to play in Lebanon. Pray for more to be called and enabled to identify with and serve the Church and all Lebanese.

Some areas where the love of Christ can be demonstrated: reconstruction, work with young people, drug rehabilitation, discipleship, and church development ministries.       (from p. 528-530, Operation World by Jason Mandryk)

                                  Wild grapes.

                Byblos Beach. We brought some of the children from the summer school here.

                                                               Anchor by Byblos Beach

Friday, September 19, 2014

Shanghai Rain

Chinese Christian songs you might enjoy.

The rain dripped like tears from the sky. It gathered in rivulets on a dark green walkway overhang and separated again as it ran down metal poles to the ground. A bicycle speeds by, splashing a muddy puddle over an older man walking on the sidewalk. Bright, bobbing umbrellas and clear rain ponchos appear in my vision and then hurry past, disappearing beyond the next building on Pudong Street.
At the entrance of the apartment complex, under an arched bridge, two watchmen stay huddled at their posts on either side of the road.  From my window up on the fifth floor, I am dry and warm, but a feeling of dampness and cold sadness permeates my being. A delicious smell of curry and Indian food lingers in the apartment. 

A solitary figure appears below and then is obscured under the green walkway. He walks across the stone pavement and down four shallow stone steps, to the entrance of the apartment complex. 

It is the afternoon. A sunday. I enjoyed meeting around the Lord’s name with a group of believers in the morning. We sang hymns in pinyin Chinese and some in English. A simple plate with a loaf of bread and a cup with grape juice was on the coffee table in the middle of the room. After a delicious lunch and time for fellowship, the gathering of people has dispersed into the rain. There are just two people left in the now quiet apartment…. My dad and I. Our hosts left for the airport to fly back to the US, leaving us their apartment.

I am feeling sorry for myself and angry that life has to be this way. Arrivals and Departures. Hellos and Goodbyes. I will never get comfortably acquainted with those stark facts. This is when I need to remember that the Lord is always with me. He is present as my refuge and my strength.

God is our refuge and strength, 
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, 
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled, 
Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah

Psalm 46:1-3
       Photo taken by me.

When I am back home in the United States, far from China, separated by 14 hours, land, and several bodies of water, I think back to my memories and am glad that the Lord gave me a brain to record experiences for later musing. I am thankful for the privilege to travel to far away countries. My life is so much richer for it. Tasting new wonderful foods, hearing an unfamiliar language, smelling Chinese flowers, soaking up the clamor and rush in a  crowd of bustling souls. Riding the subway in Hong Kong. Finding station connections on the map. Talking with fellow Christ Followers and enjoying their hospitality and kindness. 
It is 9:00 pm Saturday night here at home. At the same time, it is 10:00 am Sunday morning in China. I pray for the believers who are gathered in Christ’s name, some at great risk, obedient to His command to remember His sacrificial death and resurrection once a week. I think of the Hebrew word mizpah, meaning watchtower. It also can mean; God be with you till we meet again. 
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 
For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26 

How do you deal with saying goodbye to people? What is your favorite travel memory? 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Hebrews in September Challenge

I have been studying Hebrews this September with a group of other Christian young women. The interesting thing is, I have only met a few of them face to face. The others I have "met" through an email group where we share thoughts and gleanings from our study of Hebrews. This is my reading schedule:
Day 1: Read Hebrews chapters 1-6
Day 2: Read Hebrews  chapters 7-13
Day 3: Repeat as before...

I thought I'd share some of my thoughts here. 

I noticed these verses, "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." (Heb. 12: 5a - 6) 

If we are the Lord's sons (and daughters) then we can expect discipline just like an earthly father disciplines us. It is actually a sign that we are one of His, if we experience hardships and painful things in our life. 

"Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." Heb. 12:11

In our culture today, people use the word Jesus a lot, and hardly ever use His full name, Jesus Christ, or the Lord Jesus Christ. These verses reminded me that we serve a Holy God and we should be reverent and have godly fear in His presence. At times, I can almost forget that God is a real person, because He is invisible. But He is real and alive, and He speaks to us through His Word if we are just willing to slow down and read it! 

"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.  For our God is a consuming fire." Heb. 12:28-29

It is wonderful to know that Christ is our High Priest,  and he knows what it is like to be tempted. Yet, he was without sin. He extends mercy and grace to us, when we are in desperate need of it. 

"For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." 
Heb. 4:15-16

What about you? Have you been reading or studying a certain passage in Scripture?
What have you learned from it? 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Hummingbird sighting!

It was a rainy day.....
We were at a family's house learning how to make Chèvre (French soft cheese.) 
The rain outside contrasted with the warm interior of the kitchen where we watched a slideshow on cheese-making. During a lull in the class, I wandered over to the front door and saw a flash of red and green. It was a group of hummingbirds! I saw about four or five. I rarely see them at our house. I hurried back inside to grab my camera and the 55-200 lens... these images are what I captured. 

God's creation is so intricately designed. Practical and beautiful at the same time.

A few facts about hummingbirds: 

Hummingbirds are the tiniest birds in the world.

    Hummingbirds can flash their bright colors, as well as hide them when needed.

      The bright radiant color on hummingbirds comes from iridescent coloring like on a soap bubble or prism.

        A Gorget is the bright flashing colored feathers of the hummingbird's neck.

          A hummingbird's brain is 4.2% of its body weight, the largest proportion in the bird kingdom.

            Hummingbirds are very smart and they can remember every flower they have been to, and how long it will take a flower to refill.

              Hummingbirds can hear better than humans

                Hummingbirds can see farther than humans.

                  Hummingbirds can see ultraviolet light.

                    Hummingbirds have little to no sense of smell.

                      A hummingbird's beak is generally shaped like any other bird beak, just longer in proportion to its body.

                      Hummingbirds do not drink though their beaks like a straw. They lap up nectar with their tongues.

                      A hummingbird's heart beats up to 1,260 times per minute.

                      A Hummingbird's heart beats about 250 times per minute at rest.

                      A hummingbird's heart is 2.5% of the total body weight.

                      A hummingbird will take about 250 breaths per minute while at rest.

                      A hummingbird's metabolism is roughly 100 times that of an elephant.

                      Hummingbirds have very weak feet and can barely walk. They prefer to fly.

                      The hummingbird's body temperature is around 107 degrees Fahrenheit.

                      Hummingbirds are on average 3.3 inches (8.5  centimeters) long from the tip of the beak to the tip of the tail.

                      A hummingbird can weigh anywhere between 2 and 20 grams.

                      A penny weighs 2.5 grams

                      30% of a hummingbird's weight consists of flight muscles

                      Humans pectoral muscles are about 5% of body weight

                      My little sister's pet turtle. :)  

                      Thanks for stopping by my blog!