Monday, March 26, 2012

Grain-Free Granola Recipes

I remade my granola recipe to be GAPS-friendly/grain-free.  It's not as sweet, and it's insanely expensive, but also filling.  So we don't need as much to make us full. 

We also don't digest seeds or nuts well, so we only have this a few times a week as a treat.  But it sure is nice to have an easy meal, with so few dishes to wash.

1.  GAPS Honey Granola Recipe

3 cups of crispy almonds
3 cups of crispy sunflower seeds
3 cups of coconut chips
1 Cup of coconut oil, melted
1/2 Cup honey (you can use maple syrup or rapadura if you're not on gaps)
2 Tbls cinnamon
1/2 Tbls vanilla
1/4 tsp celtic sea salt

Grind up the almonds to almost flour-like consistency.  I do it in batches in my vita-mix, by pulsing it.  I love my Vita-Mix!  

Mix the first 3 items in a large container.  Mix the rest of the ingredients together and pour over nut mixture.  Mix well.  Bake at 30 degrees for 20 minutes. Stir and cook another 10 minutes.  Cool and store in freezer for long-term storage, or in an air-tight container in the cupboard.  

For banana, you just add 4 very ripe bananas.  I want to try this with pumpkin and apples also.   We love the banana taste in it, plus I like that it has less honey.  Yum! 

2.  Banana Honey GAPS Granola

3 cups of crispy almonds
3 cups of crispy sunflower seeds
3 cups of coconut chips
1 Cup of coconut oil, melted
4 very ripe bananas, blended
1/2 Cup honey
2 Tbls cinnamon
1/2 Tbls vanilla
1/4 tsp celtic sea salt

Grind up the almonds to almost flour-like consistency.  Mix the first 3 items in a large container.  Mix the rest of the ingredients together and pour over nut mixture.  Mix well.  Bake at 30 degrees for 20 minutes. Stir and cook another 10 minutes.  Cool and store in freezer for long-term storage, or in an air-tight container in the cupboard.

Serve with some raisins and raw milk or yogurt.  Yummo!!!  

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Meaning of Marriage, by Timothy and Kathy Keller

I have read all of the previous books written by Timothy Keller and really enjoyed each of them.  I have some objections to certain points of his theology, and to how he sees them played out.  But, overall, he is a great author, loves the Lord passionately and is very easy to read.  I have been convicted by many of his books.  The Lord used them each in turn to help me see the amazingness of His grace in sinful humans' lives.

In November, he and his wife published a book on marriage entitled The Meaning of Marriage.  My local library had it available so I dug right in.  Ignoring a number of other books I was supposed to be reading.  But, it was a quick and easy read.

The Lord has slowly taken me on a journey of coming to see how my role as a wife and mother fits into His overall plan for the world.  But lately I'd found myself struggling with it again.  And God graciously brought this book into my life to remind me of His overall design and plan through marriage.

The main point of the book is that marriage is a system from God that was designed to reflect to the world the Gospel message, and specifically to help the couple become more Christ-like.  It also has societal and moral roles to play in any and all cultures.  'So, what do you need to make marriage work?  You need to know the secret, the gospel, and how it gives you both the power and pattern for your marriage.  On the one hand, the experience of marriage will unveil the beauty and depths of the gospel to you.  it will drive you further into reliance on it. On the other hand, a greater understanding of the gospel will help you experience deeper and deeper union with each other as the years go on.  There, then, is the message of this book-that through marriage, 'the mystery of the gospel is unveiled.'  Marriage is a major vehicle for the gospel's remaking of your heart from the inside out and your life from the ground up.'

THAT is the message of this book, and they expound on the topic in more detail, giving a lot of historical background information as well as a lot of personal experiences and information.

The chapters are:
1. The Secret of Marriage
2. The Power of Marriage
3. The Essence of Marriage
4. The Mission of Marriage
5. Loving the Stranger
6. Embracing the Other
7. Singleness and Marriage
8. Sex and Marriage

And here are some quotes that struck me as worth chewing over some more.  

 'After trying all kinds of other things, Christians have learned that the worship of God with the whole heart in the assurance of his love through the work of Jesus Christ is the thing their souls were meant to 'run on.'  This is what gets all the heart's cylinders to fire. If this is not understood, then we will not have the resources to be good spouses.  If we look to our spouses to fill up our tanks in a way that only God can do, we are demanding an impossibility.'   'Without the help of the Spirit, without a continual refilling of your soul's tank with the glory and love of the Lord, such submission to the interests of the other is virtually impossible to accomplish for any length of time without becoming resentful.  I call this 'love economics'.  You can only afford to be generous if you actually have some money in the bank to give.  In the same way, if your only source of love and meaning is your spouse, then anytime he or she fails you, it will not just cause grief but a psychological cataclysm.  If, however, you know something of the work of the Spirit in your life, you have enough love 'in the bank' to be generous to your spouse even when you are not getting much affection or kindness at the moment.'  I struggled with this so much the first 5 or so years of our marriage.  It wasn't until I finally came to see who I was in Christ, that I was able to get 'filled up' with Him, so I could stop needing that from my marriage. Phew, what a relief for poor Drew! 

'If 2 spouses are spending a day together, the question of who gets each's pleasure and who gives in can present itself every few minutes.  And when it does, there are 3 possibilities: You can offer to serve the other with joy, you can make the offer with coldness or resentment, or you can selfishly insist on your own way. Only when both partners are regularly responding to one another in the first way can the marriage thrive. But how hard that is!'   I definitely tend toward #2 on that list.  But, he addressed that in more depth with: 'I wanted to serve, yes, because that made me feel in control. Then I would always have the high moral ground.  But that kind of 'service' isn't service at all, only manipulation.  But by not giving Kathy an opportunity to serve me, I had failed to serve her.  And the reason underneath it all was my pride.'  Ouch, that is me for sure.

'When dating or living together, you have to prove your value daily by impressing and enticing. You have to show that the chemistry is there and the relationship is fun and fulfilling or it will be over. We are still basically in a consumer relationship, and that means constant promotion and marketing.  The legal bond of marriage, however, creates a space of security where we can open up and reveal our true selves.  We can be vulnerable, no longer having to keep up facades.  We don't have to keep selling ourselves. We can lay the last layer of our defenses down and be completely naked, both physically and in every other way.' 

He talks about how people who live together before they are married have a much higher rate of divorce.  But, I found this statement heartening, and true for us: 'Studies reveal that two-thirds of unhappy marriages will become happy within five years if people stay married and do not get divorced.  What keeps people together during the rough patches?  The vows.'

'When you first fall in love, you think you love the person, but you don't really.  You can't know who the person is right away.  That takes years.  You actually love your IDEA of the person-and that is always, at first, one-dimensional and somewhat mistaken.'  How well put!  It's true. The beauty of marriage is that a person truly knows you AND loves you. Just like God truly knows us, but still loved us enough to send his Son to die for us.  How freeing and amazing.  And scary and disturbing.  Being on both ends of that is tough!  'To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear.  But to be fully known and truly loves is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.'

'Only if you maintain your love for someone when it is not thrilling can you be said to be actually loving a person.  The aesthete does not really love the person; he or she loves the feelings, thrills, ego rush, and experiences that the other person bring.'  When the honeymoon is over, the real work, and love, begins.

'When people are looking for a spouse, they are looking for a finished statue when they should be looking for a wonderful block of marble.  Not so you can create the kind of person you want, but rather because you see what kind of person Jesus is making.... each must be able to look inside the other and see what God is doing and be excited about being part of the process of liberating the emerging 'new you' I see all your flaws, imperfections, weaknesses, dependencies.  But underneath them all I see growing the person God wants you to be.''

They describe how you will have a friend of the opposite sex, with whom you will share anything and get good advice, etc. But yet, when looking for a mate, you dismiss that person because you don't feel an 'attraction' to them.  And how that does not lead to the kind of marriage a Christian wants.  I can identify.  I was blessed though, to actually marry my best friend after realizing the folly of my mind-set.

'If your marriage is strong, even if all the circumstances in your life around you are filled with trouble and weakness, it won't matter.  You will be able to move out into the world in strength. However, if your marriage is weak, even if all the circumstances in your life around you are marked by success and strength, it won't matter.  You will move out into the world in weakness.'

'When you see the problems in each other, do you just want to run away, or do you find a desire to work on them together?'  Umm... Yeah, well, after 10+ years of marriage, I still tend to want to run away.  I hope to outgrow that someday!

'Give each other the right to hold one another accountable.  Hebrews 3:13.' 

'Because marriage merges two lives and brings you into the closest possible contact, a positive assessment by your spouse has ultimate credibility. If, over the years, you have grown to love and admire your spouse more and more, then his or her praise will get more and more strengthening and healing.  To be highly esteemed by someone you highly esteem is the greatest thing in the world.
This principle explains why, ultimately, to know that the Lord of the universe loves you is the strongest foundation that any human being can have.  A growing awareness of God's love in Christ is the greatest reward.'

'And there's the Great Problem of marriage.  The one person in the whole world who holds your heart in her hand, whose approval and affirmation you most long for and need, is the one who is hurt more deeply by your sins than anyone else on the planet.  When we are first sinned against by our spouses in a serious way, we use the power of truth.  We tell our spouses what fools, what messes, what selfish pigs they are. The first few times we do it, however, we may learn to our surprise how shattering our criticism can be. Sometimes we let fly some real harsh, insulting remarks, and the next thing we know there's nothing left of our spouse but a pair of sneakers with smoke coming out of them.  What happened? Because of our spousal power of love and affirmation, when that love is withheld, the statement of the truth doesn't help-it destroys.  When we see how devastating truth-telling in marriage can be, it can push us into the opposite error. We may then decide that our job is to just affirm. We avoid telling our spouses how disappointed we are.  We shut up.  We stuff and hide what we really think and feel.  We exercise the power of love, but not the power of truth.  But then marriage's enormous potential for spiritual growth is lost.  The point is this-truth and love need to be kept together.'  I feel this is where God is working on me right now.  I have let Drew 'have it', shaking my finger and yelling in his face-and he ran away, although generally only mentally and emotionally.  But I'm learning, slowly. 

He talks about the necessity of forgiving our spouse before confronting them, in love, with their sin.  'One of the most basic skills in marriage is the ability to tell the straight, unvarnished truth about what your spouse has done-and then, completely, un-self-righteously, and joyously express forgiveness without a shred of superiority, without making the other person feel small.
As long as you feel superior to someone, feel like you are a much better kind of person, you will find it very hard if not impossible to forgive.  If you stay superior and disdainful of the person, truth will eat up love.'  Again, speaking directly to me!  I am a 'good girl' and do what I think is best, after lots of study.  So then I tend to get prideful and self righteous.  But that is just as bad as any sin I may confront in Drew.  I am so thankful that God has allowed us to stay together while our sharp edges are slowly being whittled down.  Ok, mostly I have the sharp edges in the marriage... 

Kathy, naturally, was the one to write the chapter on submission: 'I discovered here that my submission in marriage was a gift I offered, not a duty coerced from me.'  That sort of takes the sting out of submission, eh?  :)  It was definitely something that helped me to embrace my role as submissive wife.  We are all equal in God's eyes, but His will is for the wives to submit to their husbands (and only their husbands-not men in general).

This is pretty random, I realize.  But some really good bites of wisdom to chew on.  And hopefully it will lead others to pick up the book from themselves and get the 'big picture'.  I hope and pray that the Lord uses this book to help young people who are struggling with marriage (and singleness), to accept their roles as blessings to and from the Lord. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Innis Life Principles

It's fun to look back and see major growth in my life.  And often, when that happens, I can trace the thread back to certain books that really impacted me in those areas. 

I thought it would be fun to recap some of the major ones.  The ones that have really helped me establish basic life principles in the various areas of my life.  So here are the books that fit that category, and the life principles I have taken from them, and applied to our family. 

For education, it would definitely be Thomas Jefferson Education.  I had already started to realize the current system of education had some major flaws.  And I was starting to nit pick and figure out what they were.  But when a friend lent TJE to me, I was so excited, because it brought together all of my frustrations and concerns, and had an answer for me, to overcome those!  I felt like I had found a kindred spirit.  I have read many books with a similar philosophy since.  And they all have given me encouragement and more ideas to implement.  But TJE is my 'classic' to which I turn to, when I find myself getting discouraged or when I just need some motivation. 

It's not TJE that I love of course.  But the principles he lays forth, in a simple to read and understand format.  It's the principles of joy in learning by trial and error and practice, by allowing one's self to fail and think and try something different.  By learning to really think and understand truth and reality.  By using classics and mentors to learn rather then the conveyor belt style of teacher and textbook.  By learning about history in-depth and coming to our own conclusions that will help us 'not repeat history' ourselves.   Basically, by understanding ourselves and how God made us, so we can best utilize our bodies and brains for His glory.  And I am starting to really see these principles work in our lives and it's so exciting! 

Spiritually, the overall principle that I have come to really appreciate is that it's not about me, but about God.  And that we need to have joy in our service to Him.  For that, I go back to Desiring God by John Piper, every few years.  A must-read for every Christian in my opinion.  Again, it's the principles behind it.  I've read numerous other books that teach the same principles.  But Desiring God is what God really used to solidify the truths he was teaching me. 

The principles I took from that book are that a person who is truly filled with the Spirit will find joy in God being glorified..  They won't look for joy elsewhere.  All joy is from God and for God.  And if we are not filled with that joy, then we need to seek God's face and question our salvation.  The fruits of the spirit ARE joy, peace, love...  They don't just happen to show up if you try real hard.  They are the fruits that come from a branch that is connected to the vine. No fruit=no salvation.  Of course, fruit shows up differently in each person and we can't judge others, since often the fruit shows only in the person's heart.  I can verify that one!  I have changed so dramatically over the last 10 years, but yet no one sees it because I was always such a 'good girl'. *sighs*  At least I know!  And Drew and the kids see it too.  The other principle that I learned was that God is sovereign and He has called some people to repentance and not others.  Boy howdy, did I fight that one!  But, after studying Scripture looking for answers, and after realizing that all fruit is from the Holy Spirit's working in my life, it was no longer possible to deny the doctrine of election.  I hated it with all my being, but I am a sucker for truth, and I could not avoid that truth any longer. And looking back, I can see how my whole life has been shaped by those two truths-true joy in the Lord and election. 

For food, my Eureka moment came when reading Nourishing Traditions.  And I still love that book!  I also learned a ton from Weston Price's Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.  And I actually refer back to NT for recipes ALL the time.  And I refer back to NPD for confirming what society rejects in regards to food.  I know it, but then I start to question it, and I go back to NPD for encouragement.  :)

But, my mentor/classic for bodily healing is my favorite book/author Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) by Natasha Campbell-McBride.  I believe NT is a great way to eat for life, but for healing principles, I have come to appreciate the GAPS principles.  Like education and spiritual learning, I have read these principles in many other books, but GAPS, to me, just brings it altogether nicely.  And the healing we have seen in this family, by following those principles has rocked my world lately!  Hallelujah!! 

The principles I learned from NT and GAPS is that the body has needs that must be met, or disease happens.  And the best way to get those needs met (the only in my opinion) is through nutrient dense foods.  But, the gut must be able to break those foods down into their various nutrients to be used.  So NT addresses the nutrient dense foods, and GAPS addresses healing the gut so those foods can be utilized. 

For marriage, God has used so many books, the Scriptures and people to change my attitude.  But, the one that I would call my classic is Created to be His Helpmeet.  Much like the doctrines of election, I did NOT want to believe the message in Created. I avoided that book for years.  I knew I'd hate it with every bone in me.  And I did.  But I was also tired of being miserable and having a lousy marriage, and I knew, after all the spiritual changes I'd seen, that doing things God's way is always best, even if painful at first.  That whole 'truth' thing-gets me every time.  The Holy Spirit knew I was finally ready to read it last year, so he allowed me to borrow it from a good friend.  Somehow that softened the blow.  :)  I have since had the opportunity to discuss it with Drew and other wives in similar positions as myself. And looking back, I can see a huge change in my heart and actions, after reading that book.  All of the changes had been slowly happening underground for a few years, but this book finally brought them out of hiding.  I still refer back to it often. 

The principle is simple really.  Following the Bible's plan for families and society, I needed to respect and submit to my husband. I needed to stop trying to usurp his role and do his job, and simple perform in the role the Lord has called me to do.  Ouch. That really, really hurt.  It still stings a little to be honest.  I know it's ridiculous, I have seen such huge changes in our family since I started to submit to and respect Drew.  The peace, the growth.  It's like there were spiritual chains that were cut, we were set free.  The bondage I allowed myself to be placed into was nothing compared to the bondage we were set free from!

And I think that would apply to all the areas I have mentioned.  I was set free from the stress and depression of trying to force my children to learn in ways that are harmful ultimately.  But it placed me under a new stress-I had to find joy in learning myself.  I had to lead rather then push them.  That's a lot of work!  For spiritual growth, I was set free from guilt and a need to control everything in my life, but I put myself under the bondage of daily feeding on the Word and fighting to keep God's glory first in importance-above ALL else.  I was set free from the stress of disease and allergies and exhaustion and insurance, but I had to agree to the bondage of not eating foods I wanted, and spending hours in the kitchen every day, preparing and cleaning up after the meals that I knew would heal us. 

I gave up the big, scary battles, and traded them in for daily, sometimes monotonous ones.  But, there is something freeing in knowing that the war has already been one, I am just fighting in some skirmishes in the meantime.  The victory is mine!!!  But, vanity, vanity, all is vanity. 

So, these are 4 books that have rocked my little world, and all for the good.  I have read, probably literally, hundreds of others. Some just as good as these.  But, these happen to be the ones that God really used in my life. 

And, let me end that, while reading all of these books, I was in the Word regularly, seeking God's face, begging for Him to show me truth in all areas of my life.  I do not agree with any of those books 100%.  I never read something and assume it's true.  I think about it all, compare it to my own experiences, test it and pray for wisdom. The one book that has fundamentally changed my life, in every area and aspect, and the only one that is 100% true, is the Bible.  While I can interpret it wrong, I still can rest assured that is is TRUTH, and I can trust it to lead me in all areas of my life.  The others just help.  :)  And I thank the Lord for all of them. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Electrolyte/Mineral Drink Recipe

I find myself often going against main-stream thinking.  Not because I want to be different, but because after careful consideration, I find the main-stream to be faulty.

One of those areas is the consumption of water.  I believe the main-stream thinking is approximately 8 cups a day. I used to try and follow that, but seldom was I successful.

But lately, after more research, I have come to the conclusion that drinking 8 cups a day of filtered water is ultimately harmful to the body, esp to the endocrine system.  Drinking water without the God-given minerals in the water, tax an already exhausted adrenal gland.  But it's hard to find natural, clean water with minerals intact. I'd say impossible, except in rare situations.  Because of the toxins in our environment, we need to filter our water, but when we filter out the bad, we also filter out the good.

We do drink filtered water here.  I used my Zero water filter and keep a glass in the fridge at all times for us to drink.  And I do not put any limit on how much we consume.  We drink when thirsty.  But I do try to ensure that we consume lots of minerals throughout the day.   We drink kombucha and raw milk.  We consume bone broth and lots of celtic sea salt

So I feel we do, in general, get enough minerals in our diet to make up for our mineral-less water.  But, there are times when I crave salt and know my body is in desperate need of minerals.  So, after searching the web, cookbooks, etc. I came up with my own electrolyte/mineral drink recipe about a year ago.  I don't keep it on hand all the time, only when I feel my body needs it.  Mainly, when I am craving salt.

Also, my family does not like it.  If I use less salt and keep out the bitters, they do like it.  And I make that when I feel they are drinking too much water due to heat.   

It beats the nasty powders and Gatorade-type drinks with all kinds of chemicals and fillers in them.  

Electrolyte/Mineral Drink Recipe

Take one quart glass Ball jar and add approx:

2 Tbls whey from my homemade yogurt
Juice from one lemon
2 tsp celtic sea salt
2 Tbls raw honey
1 Tbls blackstrap molasses (I can't stand the taste and Myia reacts, so I haven't used it in awhile, but it's very mineral rich)
Fill the rest of the way up with water

Still well.

It lasts about 2 days in the fridge and then starts to taste off.  But I generally try and consume one quart a day when I feel I need it.  Usually when I am PMSing, my body craves the minerals, or if I sweat a lot or am in the hot sun a lot.

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Different Kind of Teacher, by John Taylor Gatto

Yikes!  I read The Underground History of American Education by Gatto, and then A Different Kind of Teacher, also by John Gatto.  But I am starting with A Different Kind of Teacher because I am still trying to synthesize all that I read and learned from the other.  Which is a giant tome!  It took me over a month to read.  This one took only a few days.

And so much information to process!  They both 'filled in a lot of blanks' for me, in regards to education.  I have understand the 'how' of classics-based education for a few years, and am in awe of what it is doing for myself and my children.  But I still struggled with the 'why' of it.  Esp in regards to 'why' America, and much of the 'developed world'  has gotten so far from that style of education.  This book definitely cleared up a lot of that for me!  Well, it started the process of clearing it up anyway.  I'm a painfully slow learner, so only after a lot of hard work, more reading, and tons of thinking and comparing,will it really make sense to me.  But I'm excited to see that the process is finally underway at least.

Mr. Gatto grew up in a dysfunctional Pennsylvania family, and then moved to NYC to work in the ad industry and make big money.  He decided it was not fulfilling enough, so he went into education.  After 30 years of fighting the system, he finally stepped out and started writing to try and show others how and why to fight it.

He believes in the TJE style of education-using classics and mentors, and lots and lots of hard work thrown into the mix-mental, emotional and physical.  

I was personally convicted, yet again, that I need to let learning be it's own reward for my children.  I still get stuck in the old way of thinking, that a child must be 'bribed' to want to learn.  But yet, I know that is not true.  And bribing only hurts the child's drive in the long-run.  I still have to use that system for my 1st Grade Sunday School class.  I think I sometimes get stuck between the 2 'worlds'. :)  But I'll get it.  And maybe someday I'll be able to transfer what I'm learning into the SS room.  But probably not...

Here are some quotes that I loved...

Real knowledge has to be earned by hard and painful thinking; it can't be generated in group discussions or group therapies but only in lonely sessions with yourself.  Real knowledge is earned only by ceaseless questioning of yourself and others, and by the labor of independent verification.  You can't buy it from a social worker, a psychologist, a licensed specialist, or a schoolteacher. There isn't a public school in this country set up to allow the discovery of real knowledge-not even the best ones-although here and there individual teachers, like guerrilla fighters, sabotage the system and work toward this ideal. 

The new dumbness-the non-thought-of received ideas-is much more dangerous than simple ignorance, because it's really about thought control. In school, a washing away of the innate power of individual mind takes place, a cleansing so comprehensive that original thinking becomes difficult.  

Real learning is always its own reward and praise is as useless to it as punishment. 

The crisis in our schools is not one of reading and writing but of meaning. Until we can decontrol our economy and localize it into thousands of independent communities; until we can decontrol our social system and localize it in the lives of individuals and families; and until we can see the truth that important life choices are not the proper province of any professional establishment, the meaninglessness will continue to grow. 
From a mom in Cape Cod who was taken to court because she refused to report what she is teaching to her local school superintendent: 'if we are not free to educate our children, our liberty is an illusion.  I do not have a curriculum.  I have never used one....  The state does not have the power to standardize children.  My education philosophy precludes the use of a curriculum.  My method has been successful enough to produce a daughter who is a member of the National Honor Society and twin sons who...tested in the top one percent on a national placement test for 2 consecutive years.  The priorities of our curriculum are daydreaming, natural and social sciences, self-discipline, respect of self and others, and making mistakes.' and women must build the meanings of their lives around finding a few, a very few people to touch and love and care for.  If you fail in that it doesn't matter how well financed the school you went to was, how healthy the space program is, or how many machines you own-you'll be miserable.  

Figure out what matters.  Do it yourself; work hard at it; no one else can do it for you.  Relying on others in this regard or ignoring the necessity will ruin you though you sit surrounded by machines in a rich school watching videos of spaceships.  Each of us has a design problem to solve: to create from the raw material around us the curriculum for a good life.  It isn't easy and it isn't the same for any 2 people. 

About 150 years ago, we signed a Devil's Bargain-to destroy the earth, the forests, the air, and the water for money-a bargain in which hour part entailed abandoning family life and neighborhood loyalties, locking up all the children and old people, keeping everyone useless out of the way while we made money. And some of us, at least, did make money, becoming rich and powerful enough to think of a global economy and a world order that would make us even richer.  But it was a trick done with mirrors.  We only pulled it off by spending the inheritance of the future.  It's almost gone and there doesn't seem to be an easy way to get it back. 

Where do we start?  First you have to find yourself.  There isn't any other way.  If you wait on that you'll be buried even deeper in the artificial programs of others.  First you have to strip away decades of programming and overlays and discover your own outline beneath it all. It hurts to do that. This was once called 'knowing yourself.'  Until you take that step there won't be any self to know, just a collection of relays and switches, sensors and twitches that can be manipulated by engineers you can't see.  On the other hand, if you know what matters and are willing to fight and even die for it, nothing can colonize your mind and you will be truly a free spirit. 

One important way men and women come to know themselves is to closely study their own families. People who run from that obligation will find no substitute for the missing knowledge.  To be real you need to celebrate your own history, humble and tormented as it might be, and the history of your own parents and grandparents, howsoever that be marked by scars and mistakes.  It is the only history you will ever have; reject it and you reject yourself.  All the rest is the sickness of fantasy.  Cherish what is yours; protect it; defend it; never accept the false evaluations of outsiders in regard to it.  Whether your family is the best or the worst doesn't matter very much.  Being first or last at anything truly doesn't matter, and your case will be hopeless as long as you think it does. 

Describing a conversation with another parent about a child: But the final, unsolvable dilemma was that my friend misinterpreted my part of the dialogue as competition.  Because of his necessary habit as a businessman, he unconsciously assumed he and I were in some sort of contest to determine who had the soundest strategy.  An undertone of right/wrong made free testing of ideas, proves impossible.  Rather than pushing out ideas for inspection, deferring judgment, asking questions to clarify, we were forced into caution by the powerful compulsion of keeping score on each other.  This had to be a pure waste...  

His last chapter is 'The Art of True Conversation'.  He describes the difference between 'social talk' and 'spirit talk'. I esp loved this quote: There is a fundamental and radical difference between the important talk of youth that makes love, friendship, and significance reasonably easy to reach, and the social conversation of older people, in particular of self-important older people, that  makes it apparent these life-and-death qualities are very difficult to obtain in later life.  I have found this to be so true! Although it's not impossible. :)

These are some random quotes from the book. I would have liked to have quoted much more.  But, if you find these interesting, definitely pick up a copy of the book and read it yourself.  It's easy to read and so enlightening. 

Now on to try and summarize The Underground History of American Education.  Yikes, so much!

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Dirty Life, by Kristin Kimball

*sighs*  Just when I start to get content with living in an apartment in metro NYC, I read a book like this and I get all antsy again.

I really need to stop reading...

The book, The Dirty Life, by Kristin Kimball, was recommended to me by someone who currently lives in NYC and dreams of following Kristin's flight out into a harder, yet less stressful life.  We have commiserated on waking up to car alarms instead of roosters.  :)

The book follows Kristin Kimball's life from the first time she saw her to-be husband, through their first year on a start-up farm, where they created their own, unique CSA.  

It's a very easy read.  I love her ability to be candid about her thoughts and emotions.  She does not, in any way, try to pretend that she is perfect.  She points out her faults and the faults of her husband openly and honestly.  But, she also shared how she learned to face those faults, and the fears that go along with them, by getting 'personal' with nature.

I really appreciated her aspect of death.  I agree that we tend to want to 'live forever' in America and therefore shun death.  But death is as important as life.  I think we do our kids a huge dis-service by sheltering them from death and all the sub-sets that go along with it.  Kristin and her husband treat their animals well, and give them the dignity they deserve in death.  They use almost every part of the animal, and compost what is left, so the nutrients go back into the soil.  They seem to have the 'circle of life' figured out quite well.  

But only after a lot of trail and error, failures and lots and lots of funny and uplifting stories.  

She had some great stories about the local personalities. I wonder if any of them read the book and saw their names in it. :)  I grew up in a small town where most everyone knew everyone else.  There are certainly some downsides to it, but now that I'm a mom, and craving a more simple life, I would like to go back to that again.  I have tried to make my little block 'homey' by reaching out to the neighbors when they are outside. But it's not real 'natural' or easy around here.  People are juts too busy to stop and chat. 

I find it easy to 'romanticize' the life of a farm.  But reading this book was a good reminder that it is HARD work to create your own food.  At the same time, it is so incredibly rewarding.  Kristin did a fabulous job of showing both sides of that coin.  And farming most definitely came out on top. 

She also wrote about how humans need to work, in order to find joy and fulfillment in life.  That is something I have been coming to realize more intensely lately.  It makes sense, even from a Christian standpoint, but yet, we are so programmed to avoid work in America, that we don't even realize we are thinking that way.  I'm not a lazy person by nature, it's just not who I am.  But yet, the idea of real 'work' used to almost scare me.  But real work, with real meaning, is so empowering and healing. 

If it wasn't so far away, I'd try and find a way to afford it.  It would be $7800 a year, for all we can eat.  That is pretty much what we currently pay.  Except coming up with that much money at once would be hard, of course.  But, I LOVE the concept!  Aw, why not drive 5 hours on the NY Thruway every Friday afternoon for food....

Ok, I'll stick with what I currently have.  But it's a great concept! 

Maybe someday Drew and I will have our own adventure in farming.  My dream isn't quite as big as the Kimballs though.  I want to produce the majority of our own food (I'm not willing to give up my coconut oil, and you just can't grow that this far away from the equator), and some for a few other families as well.  And also, I like the idea of actually using the food to prepare meals, kind of like a CSA, only a kitchen like this one.  Only MUCH smaller.  I would love to do classes on cooking, fermenting, culturing, time management, meal planning.  Once I get good at them. ;)

It may never happen, and that is ok.  But a girl can dream.  :)

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Gift of Knowing Ourselves

I've learned a lot in the last 10 years of my life.  And I love it all and am so thankful for every bit of wisdom and knowledge the good Lord has allowed me to amass.

But one particular bit of knowledge that I am slowly coming into and especially thankful for is self-knowledge.  Man, that stuff is empowering!

And not just in a human sort of way.  John 8  31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Truth is so important.  Jesus IS the Way, the Truth and the Life. He doesn't just have truth, he IS truth.  And we are to base our lives on truth, and therefore, on Him.  

Knowing God, through Scripture is relatively easy.  Ok, not even a little.  But, it's possible, because it's written in plain English before our own eyes. We can read about God's qualities.  He is holy, righteous, just, forgiving, loving, powerful, jealous, omnipresent, all-knowing, pure, perfect.  The list goes on.  Basically, he is everything we are not.  

But, I have found self-knowledge to be a bit more tricky to discover.  I don't know myself, and I live with myself-every day!  

I just read Death of a Salesman, and it was about this same thing.  Willy was a salesman, but lied to himself his whole life.  He trained his sons to do the same thing.  And when it was too late, they realized that their life was one big lie.  Not a way I want to go!  

Part of the reason I don't know myself is because of pride.  I often 'want' to be something I'm not, so rather then face up to the fact that I am falling short of my own expectations, I just ignore them.  That is a big one for me.  But, when you ignore a problem, rather then go away, it just gets bigger, messier and more complicated.  And then, years down the road, you have to deal with a huge problem, that started out as just a little thing.  Trust me, it's not worth it!  Just deal with it when it's small.

Another aspect of pride that gets in the way of self knowledge is caring what others think about me.  Now, I think the Holy Spirit does use that as a way of keeping ourselves in check, to a point.  But, we must always be aware of our motives for what we do.  I so often find myself pretending to be what I think someone else wants me to be.  And that is particularly easy for me, because of my empathetic nature. When I do it with eyes wide open, knowing I am trying to 'practice' godliness until it becomes a part of me, then it's not so bad.  But when my ultimate motivation is just to make someone like me, then it  can become a real problem.  I start to forget who is the real Sarah and who is the acting one.   And after 20 years of that-phew!

Another brick in the wall of self-knowledge is laziness.  Getting to know how I operate and what makes me tick takes time and effort.  I have to study my past failures and successes, analyze them, try things out and see what works, and discard what doesn't.  I have to really think and pray.  And that takes time and effort. Something we Americans are convinced we don't have.  

There are many other bricks in the wall that need to be taken down, one at a time.  But those are the main ones I've noticed in my own life. 

It's hard to face oneself square in the mirror, see all the sin and ugliness and acting and fear.  But, oh the power when we do!  I have been amazed at how the Lord has been changing me, making me more like Him.  But I had to face who I really was, before I could start that change.  Well, thankfully I didn't have to face it all at once.  He has been slowly opening my eyes to the horridness of my own sin and pride, and to my lack of self knowledge.  I have just had to say 'yes' every time he wanted to show me something new.  It gets easier with time. :)  You kind of get used to the fact that you are such a useless sinner.  But that isn't so bad when you realize you have an almighty God who cares and is willing to go to the trouble of helping you see truth, and better yet, to change you so you live in that truth.  

As I have faced my own sin and realities, as I have gotten to know myself better, I have been amazed at how much easier it is to make good decisions consistently.  To prepare myself for times of struggle that I know are coming.  We are soldiers, we are runners, according to Scripture.  And both take training and knowledge and time-on-task.  

I feel so empowered to be the wife and mom that God has asked me to be.  I love that!  I wonder if I had faced my own shortcomings sooner, if I could have avoided the years of trouble and waste.  Probably not, it's all part of the training I guess.  And facing them without the powerful knowledge that God is sovereign and that I am here to glorify him, would have just been defeating.

But, all of that rambling to say, I hope and pray that God allows me to show my children who they really are.  To face that reality, hard as it is.  And to look for ways to use their personalities, skills, strengths and even weaknesses, to their own advantage.  Well, to further the kingdom of God.  I want to give my kids this tool.  But boy I don't want them to use it glorify themselves!  

It makes marriage so much easier and sweeter!  Drew and I struggled the first 5 years of our marriage.  Only by God's grace are we still together.  We look back and wonder how in the world we made it!  But now, I can see that so many of those struggles were because we didn't know ourselves.  We pretended we were one thing, when in fact, we were another.  And that just doesn't work in a marriage relationship.  Or any real relationship.  

And so many of our mistakes, I can see now, were because of our lack of self-knowledge.  

I am a type A, overbearing, neat freak who likes to study and read and is incredibly practical and boring.  I like to control things that are in my life and take my job very seriously-whatever it may be.  I tend to be goal oriented and forget the process in between. I tend to see the negative in life, as I enjoy fixing things.  I am extremely empathetic and independent, to a fault mostly.  I am an incredibly slow learner, and tend to get lost in common sense.  But I am learning that none of those things are 'bad', as long as I am aware of them.  But when I don't see or acknowledge them, they tend to control me, and make life miserable for myself and those around me.  Unacknowledged, they are a  liability.  But acknowledge, they become an asset.  I can use my strengths and be aware of my weaknesses.  It's been amazing to see!

I hope and pray that the Lord allows me to graciously help my kids to see who they really are (and love them no matter what), and who He really is. And what a dynamite combination that is! 

To God be the glory, great things he has done.  Why?  Because He Liked It!  :)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Nutrient Dense Food List

1.  Bone broth

2.  Fermented Cod Liver Oil

3.  Kefir made from raw milk

4. Yogurt made from raw milk

5. Raw milk from grass fed cows

6.  Kombucha

7.  Red meat from grass fed animals

8.  Coconut oil and coconut anything really
9.  Crispy chicken skin

10.  Raw egg yolk from chickens that are allowed to run around and eat bugs

11.  Celtic Sea Salt and other unprocessed salts

12.  Butter-sure wish I could get some good raw stuff

13.   Carrot juice

14.  Veggies and fruit

15.  Lard from a pastured pig-which I haven't had for close to 2 years and desperately miss

16.  Raw, local honey

17.  Liver

18.  Canned Wild Caught Salmon

...these are a few of my favorite things....