Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Bakery

Cakes used to be my jam.  Now, I am testing out recipes nearly everyday for anything I can find on Pinterest that I have ingredients for in my house, including jam.  This is what happens when you have two 9 year-olds, homeschool, unlock a passion within them for creating something out of nothing, and have a penchant for creating 10,000 dishes to clean each day.

We turn it into math and science class as well.  How does yeast work?  If you need 3/4 cup and you only have a measuring cup for 1/4, what do you do?  Do you think the bagel dough will stay the same size when they are submerged in the water? What about when they bake?

My kids are amazing, realizing they are not limited by anything but their imaginations (and available ingredients).

So far, some of the best recipes we have tried:
 ~ dinner rolls (best I've ever had, seriously!),
 ~ bread,
 ~ graham crackers (not their favorite),
 ~ pumpkin dessert,
 ~ pumpkin chocolate chip cookies,
 ~ canned Italian plums/prunes,
 ~ grape jam,

 ~ strawberry jam, and
 ~ applesauce.

We currently make the dinner rolls a couple times a week because they are that good!

Last night, we tried cinnamon raisin bagels and devoured them. They were so good we made them again today (along with a baby bagel for the child obsessed with babies, see above) and the proof of deliciousness lies in the fact there are none left already.

Friday, October 5, 2018

10 Things Every New Hunter Should Know

In the last three years, the world of hunting has taken off in terms of clothing, gear, strategies, and complaints—coincidentally also the time frame when I walked into this new-to-me domain so that may not be true to anyone other than me. I blew any sense of a budget on the latest and greatest products and attire while simultaneously capping any boundary I had on time and availability.  I wondered many things, and still do, as I contemplate the complexities of each hunt but here is a list of 10 things in random order (with a couple name drops) that I would have found useful when I first crossed over to … that side.

1.         Research Your Opponent. As a former legal assistant to a trial attorney, I will be the first to tell you that a majority of pre-court time is spent in research.  It is the grunt-work of the profession to not only know the case, their client, the judge, but also the opponent.  Clearly a hunter is on the same level as an attorney, except for the one small fact that a hunter generally does not make an income from this.  It is wildly important for a hunter to know about the animal he is hunting.

Unless dumb luck has been your secret ace-in-the-hole up until now, it helps to know a thing or two about their habits, the topography of their habitat, their diet, and their distinguishing characteristics.  Start studying what you can whenever you can.  In Washington state at least, the Department of Fish and Wildlife produces a yearly synopsis of the kill counts in each GMU (also good to learn popular acronyms, i.e., Game Management Unit), how to hunt each species, etc.  I also dedicated way too much time after my kids were put to bed (early, on purpose) watching documentaries and searching for hunting advice on YouTube.

2.         Capitalism is No Stranger to Hunting Camps. I love that in America (and elsewhere) we are fortunate enough to have a plethora of options for nearly every item we could ever want or need.  My husband and I disagree greatly on what he refers to as a “need” for an exorbitantly expensive item where he could see a mole inside the eardrum of a deer 500 miles away.  While I do care if a deer has such obvious deformities, I would care more to clothe my kids.  There are limitless options if you feel like blowing paychecks, but here are my three favorite items aside from weapons that are used every hunting trip: binoculars with a pouch or strap to prevent flailing all over while hiking, rangefinder (read reviews on accuracy!), and GPS with private/public property locator (onXmaps is a personal favorite).

3.         Treat Yo’ Self. This rather new adage makes prep work better than a sugar donut with morning coffee.  For men, there are hundreds of stores and brands with 4 bajillion options for socks, gloves, hats, and everything in between.  For a typical man, it is (finally) a much different shopping experience to happily sift through all of the options, with great competition among brands to be the best.  For women, well there is the hope that more quality brands will surface.  For now, a couple I am familiar with are Cabela’s and Prois’.  Both have their pros and cons but I personally love the humor and verbiage used by Prois in their materials, it is quite endearing actually (scroll through their website and you will likely find yourself smiling).  Make sure to try it on though and practice hiking in the dressing room when it is really quiet—not for the entertainment of the staff, but so you can test out if the clothes make noise while you move because there is nothing more fun than swooshing through the forest glades when trying to be stealth.

           Evidence points strongly that most advanced hikers wear layers, it is no different than hunters.  Hunters are hikers with special skills, after all.  It would do you well to have warm weather, chilly weather, rainy weather, and straight up Arctic weather clothing options.  My experience being as cold as an ice cube in a cotton undershirt while also mastering dripping sweat down my back and experiencing a completely soaked shirt, um, not exactly pleasant. Wicking is winning, people.  Sheep are friends, go with the wool.

4.   Research to the nth degree. Again, with the research, I know--what can I say but it is in my blood.  Seriously though, know the area you plan to hunt.  We had a weekend away sans kids but could not decide where to hunt beforehand.  It certainly would have been advisable to know which mountains are overrun with bovines (and their less than pleasant fresh mound of droppings), the elevations of each (for high elevation bucks), which side the deer like to bed on, what time of day, where the water and food sources are, if there are wolf packs in that area, etc.  If you can study that ahead of time, you will be that much more prepared.

Or buy game cameras; they are the best.  If near an area you can check regularly, it is beyond handy to watch activity and track the times of day your prey are in/passing through the area you want to traverse.

5.         Patience. I should have delayed until the end of the list to add this one, but I was not able to wait. Similarly, this also creates problems when hunting because bucks are elusive little introverts.  I would imagine elk are easier as they travel in herds, I have yet to try that though. (Another example of exerting great patience until the correct season begins.) When watching a half hour long hunting show on tv, it is remarkable how I never quite picked up on it when they said they were unsuccessful for x number of days when 97/100ths of the show is killing and eating their spoils.  It is so very different when you have dedicated the time to go and realize one hunting trip may not be enough even after hiking for a good 10 hours in a given day.

6.         Quiet Food. If I were to create a brand of healthy snacks for hunting, it would be named ‘Crunch Less’ and it would be wrapped in paper towels and teddy bears, be the consistency of gummy worms, and contain the healthiness of apples.  When trying to be covert in nature, nothing but chipmunks seem as loud as a plastic baggie with trail mix.  Also, keep in mind that if your traveling companion triggers your Misophonia, you may want to avoid packing carrots because they are loud (plus, you really don’t want to be any sort of trigger happy while hunting).

7.         Attitude is Key. Now, I am not saying you cannot successfully put food on the table when you find yourself getting annoyed to exasperation. If nothing is crossing your path, even with steaming fresh pellets squishing beneath your new boots, your attitude (and knees) can make or break the rest of the hunt.  The shows on television are the highlight reels after the drudgery that no one else wants to bore themselves watching.  Not every state or area is wrought with options.  I find myself gaping sometimes that a 3x3 is passed over for a “Monster Buck”.  My reality is not that reality, and I need to be okay with that.

8.         Mathematics is over-rated.  Grocery shopping for food is essentially hunting for the best deal, $1.97/pound is a great price for chicken. Back when my husband brought home his first deer, even with the savings of us butchering it ourselves, I gave a rough calculation that it cost about $8,000/pound.  Math holds no bounds in our house—it makes homework for our kids a challenge, but with real world word problems.

Okay, kids: The hunting clothes cost $1,272.53, the licenses cost $138.87, the weaponry comes to about $3100.00. If the 92-pound buck is butchered, how much does each pound weigh?  Is it financially worth it to hunt to put food on the table?

9.         Health. Jokes abound about getting in “hunting shape” to get the “hunting body” back.  Keep in mind, this paragraph likely holds no value if you are a rifle/muzzleloader sit and shoot, blind hunter, or tree stand hunter.  For the rest of the crew, there’s an insane amount of hiking and walking involved. Not just any hiking, but vast expanses are crossed with trepidatious tip-toeing and monitored steps.  Your hunting partner will greatly thank you if you have exercised in preparation for hunting.

The first trip out ever with my husband, I thought the chipmunks were squawking to the beat of my heart pounding out of my chest.  My labored panting sufficiently hid my investigation into the matter. Just think of a mountain like a stair climber, throw 500,000 sticks and twigs on it, and poop for good measure because you want to not only look for fresh signs below but also at the wilderness around you (as well as behind to ensure a cat is not about to take out the weakest link). Don’t even get me started on the hike down the mountain after meeting exhaustion face to face, because if you had bad knees before, they will want to climb out from behind their caps and sock you across the head out of pissed off agony.

10.    Slicing and Dicing. Last but not least, prepare yourself for the possibility that your hunting trip will be fruitful.  Know what you need to do as soon as you pronounce death on your target (think tags), then think about preservation of the meat.  It helps to know what you should do first and how to do it in the field so you are not sitting there at o’dark thirty pondering if you should bathe it in water to cleanse the innards (you should not, so please refrain!), all while inviting predators far and wide to follow the scent.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

What comes after forgiveness?

Let's say you have forgiven someone an offense, then what?  Wipe your hands of them?  Dust off your feet and be on your way?  Run back to them and go back to the exact same relationship?  Refuse to talk about the issues and enter back into relationship? Say 'good riddance' and flee from them? Ensure a repentant heart is involved and work to see if trust can be rebuilt as you cautiously enter back into relationship?

In some circumstances, fleeing may be advised, but we are still called to exhibit love.  Love comes in many different forms and can be shown in various ways, though.  Sometimes, love is best given at a distance depending on the situation and what offenses have been forgiven.

Again, reconciliation is not a given but forgiveness is; only you know your situation and what it takes to keep your self, your spouse (if you have one), and your kids (if you have them) safe, protected, and loved. An anonymous person once said:
Reconciliation is never a one way street when it comes to relationships. The one who has offended you must see how they have offended you and understand how that offense has hurt you, and they must come to you with humility. They must also accept the fact that maybe their offense was so egregious, that no matter how sincere they are in their explanations that you may never trust them. But you must set your healthy boundaries with the gentleness of a dove. And then if they honor your boundaries and keep them, then I think reconciliation might be a possibility. 

So what does love look like from a distance if reconciliation is not, at the very least, in the near future?  Honestly, a lot is situational.  What I can tell you, though, is it ought to begin with prayer.

Sometimes prayer directed at the person doesn't come for a long time depending on what has occurred; but when true forgiveness between you and God has happened and the situation(s) have been released through forgiveness, I would be shocked if there wasn't a different kind of love for that person that you then wished for them.  Whenever you have a thought that includes them, take hold of that opportunity and bring them before God, remember that no one and no relationship is without hope.  Paul dubbed himself chief among sinners, and yet God saved him and used him in powerful ways for His glory.

One thing you might want to try, especially if you have kids, is to start a prayer accountability calendar.  Each month, everyone in your family individually chooses a person outside of your family unit to pray for and commit to praying for them that month.  Have a square or different color that each member can mark off for the days they prayed for their person.  If nothing else, it is an easy way to engage the whole family in prayer while also teaching them to pray for others without telling them.  It would also be a great opportunity to pray for those who you are not currently in relationship with; the specific relational prayers obviously need not include your children within earshot but they will know if you are following through if you are marking off your checkboxes.

For a long time, the power of prayer was lost on me. It wasn't until the Lord re-worked and stripped away some major areas of pride in my life that He taught me what it is, how to do it in many various capacities, why it is important, how beneficial it is, and how much it is a necessary constant as we walk through this life. Some days, weeping alone to Him would constitute my communication as it was all I could bear.  And He sustained me and our family through all of the trials we have encountered in these last couple of years.

Prayer is and should be your first thought when you are dealing with relationships that have figurative bumps and bruises.  To that end, I hope that anyone reading this would come to a point in their life that they would be praying for those that have opposed them.  The reality is, there is a VERY narrow road, not many, not many at all will be praising God in Heaven when He comes again.  Someone claiming the name "Christian" does not a Christian make; not living according to the fruit that evidences a right relationship with Him ought to reconsider their relationship with Christ, especially if multiple people are telling them something is not right with what they claim versus their life choices.

But let it not be that you didn't care enough about their hearts while you were on earth and Jesus was preparing your heart to be with Him; that is a very dangerous paradox to cling to.  Every person will face judgment day, including you. Including me. Including the person(s) who wronged you. That should concern us all.

Friday, January 5, 2018

When Loyalty and Tradition Trump the Word

Historians and wise people teach us the past. For good reason.
Those who cannot remember the past are  condemned to repeat it.
~George Santayana 
There is a reason we study what has occurred throughout history. In this day and age, we have been abundantly blessed with the ability to study to our hearts content nearly any subject, even mere matters that pique our interest.

It concerns me to see in many areas of life a stagnant oppression to loyalty over Truth. 

Our church for example has compiled an entire printed volume of the rich history it claims. There are traditions as well as long-standing members (and some of their descendants) that have been a part of the foundation of this church.  We started attending our church after searching for an exegetical preaching style, there is a rich long-standing history of such preaching; the traditions and foundations of an organization are not bad, but sometimes need fresh eyes on them.  In a church and as a church like ours in a time of transition, it very well might be a time to reevaluate or risk clinging white-knuckled to a loyal tradition.  Time to reevaluate the leadership goals, the pastoral goals, the effective leading and equipping of the saints, the way in which we approach our youth and how to get to their hearts, the children of the church (for them to know their value in Him and the knowledge to be more than the subject of a memorized verse), or possibly the way in which missionary support is provided.  Praise the Lord, our church is setting up the structures to ensure that the traditions it maintains are in right-standing.

Personally I love tradition, the creeds, the history, the structure. It's comforting to know it has been there all along and it's comfortable as a backdrop in my daily walk. However, as I, myself, have been walking through my own transition in my walk with Christ I have seen in myself how my tradition kept me from truly pursuing the Lord in my heart. It grew my knowledge, comfort, and voice but I had missed my own heart in my empty, vain walk where I claimed the name of Christ as my own but lacked assurance. While not an identical scenario as what our church faces, I think it similar.

How often though do all of us do the same though? Do we cling to a person and revere them to the point of Sainthood, refusing to hear truths about them that are uncomfortable?  Do we uplift or enable someone to sin instead of encouraging them to repentance? Do we, with tight fist, evade any negative comments about a "Christian" leader because you might know him personally or like him as a person? Do we want to keep reading the same "Christian" author and avoid harsh (but true) criticisms of what she teaches? Do we hear the truth about someone but ignore it so we can keep sinning in the same way ourselves? Bringing it down quite a few levels, do we want to keep watching the same tv show at night even though the episodes have consistently showcased more and more evil? Do we want to read a certain book even though there are detailed bedroom scenes?

So I ask, how much do we selfishly cling to the things we want to believe instead of challenging them against the Truth of the Bible?

It may be time for you to reevaluate your life.  Does the truth you see align with God's Truth?
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