Monthly Archives: July 2011

Going to sort through all my links today. Or, that’s my hope, anyway. I’ve gotten lazy in my blog-reading old-age, and I’m hoping that I can find a Facebook link for all (or at least most) of them, because it seems like I can’t handle BOTH a blog/RSS reader AND Facebook.

Ups and downs on the farm

“I almost love the CSA I’m participating in,” I thought last night, as I sipped the homemade chamomile, sage, and mint herbal tea “my” farmer, Dana Mast of WindyView Acres, had included in yesterday’s box of goodies.

I more love it than not, but it hasn’t provided the overflowing basket of abundant greenery I thought I’d be receiving weekly.  We had a weird winter here in south-central Arizona, and the location of the farm (Dewey, AZ) had freezing night temperatures into May!  Dana has been farming there for fifteen years, and she said it was the longest, coldest spring she can recall.  Logically, I can extend her some grace;  of course the freezing temps could stunt growth… and that is one reason why CSAs exist — to help the farmer offset some of the risk associated with farming.  I appreciate her efforts to make up for the lack of produce by adding extra eggs, milk, cheese, and even farm-raised, chemical-free meat and home-baked goodies…  And, I extend her grace when she doesn’t communicate all that well;  I know she’s super, super busy.  But, it does make me at least start to have second thoughts of the cost-benefit of the endeavor.  One friend of mine has even dropped out, due to her disappointment.  I haven’t given up on Dana and the farm, but I’m kind of waiting until the end of the season to pass my final judgement on whether or not the whole adventure is worth decreasing my already-tight grocery budget by $25/week to accommodate the cost of the CSA.

Yesterday, she said that a pack of coyotes got into her chickens and killed 80 of the 120 (if I’m remembering the numbers correctly).  On top of that, the remaining chickens are molting, which decreases egg production.  So, no eggs are likely for the rest of the season.  :(

Banana peppers

Still.  Last night, we enjoyed dinner, largely courtesy of the CSA.  I made a delicious scramble with Egyptian Walking Onion bulbs (like shallots), garlic, green onion tops, red bell pepper, banana peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, sheep milk feta cheese, fresh oregano, and fresh Thai basil, two goose eggs, and 18 chicken eggs.  (All items in bold were from the farm.)  I served it with fresh farinata and gluten-free sour-milk biscuits (made with this flour mix), on which we gleefully slathered butter and honey.

My son Wesley, who as I have mentioned previously, gets a severe asthmatic reaction from dairy, has been able to drink raw goat milk from the farm.  Last night, he ate two and a half biscuits made with sour cow milk, and he didn’t even wheeze.  Not at night, nor this morning.  Hmm…

Yesterday’s haul had:

  • black Spanish radishes (have to look up recipes for these huge, spicy radishes… found these…  looks good!)
  • Button red radishes
  • Egyptian walking onions
  • green (spring) onions
  • a small bag of about six assorted hot peppers (banana, jalapeno, and Thai hot)
  • several sprigs fresh oregano

    Black Spanish Radishes -- they're the size of beets! White inside, though.

  • several sprigs fresh Thai basil (I love Thai basil!)
  • about one cup of the above-mentioned dried herbal tea mixture
  • a plate with six (wheat) egg & onion dinner rolls — I kept four and gave two extra to my friend who is doing the CSA as well, since we only have two gluten-eaters in our family of seven.
  • 1/2 gal raw goat milk
  • 1/2 gal raw cow milk
  • 2 goose eggs (each equivalent to 3 chicken eggs)
  • large pork shoulder roast — a good 4 pounds or more
  • two packages (about 3 lbs total) beef liver — I would never consider eating liver from any “commercial” cow…  Pastured beef, though…  I’m still a little hesitant, but I’m gonna try it!

Definitely, money-wise, worth more than $25 — since raw milk is $10/gallon and natural/organic meat is at least $3/lb, those items by themselves make it worth the cost.  But still, I mostly got into it for the produce, which has been less abundant than I’d anticipated.

We’ll see.  :)

 

Fresh herb and spinach goat milk cream sauce (an almost-recipe)

We get about 1/2 gallon of raw goat milk (and 1/2 gallon of raw cow milk) from our CSA each week.  It has been WONDERFUL to cook with dairy again.  Wesley, who normally has instant asthma (almost anaphylactic, but not quite) to dairy — even goat dairy — which has been purchased from the store, is doing brilliantly with raw goat dairy.  I have read with skepticism over the last few years when anyone touts the glories of raw milk, “Yeah, whatever.”  And I don’t know they whys and whatfors of the effectiveness of raw milk, but I must confess that I’m now a convert.

The only other dairy Wesley has been able to stomach is cheese made from sheep milk.  We regularly get both manchego and feta cheese, made from 100% sheep milk, from Trader Joe’s.

Pic from Wikipedia. Mine isn't nearly this big.

The other night, I made a simple cream sauce with cornstarch-thickened goat milk (I used about 2 Tbsp corn starch for about 3 cups of milk — sorry!  I didn’t measure), sea salt, and cracked pepper.  I stirred* almost constantly as it worked its way to a boil over medium heat.  As it cooked, I threw in some minced basil (from the garden) and rosemary (from a planter in the front courtyard).  After it boiled and thickened, I turned off the heat and threw in several handfuls of raw, organic spinach and stirred gently until the spinach wilted.  I served the cream sauce over rice vermicelli and we sprinkled it with crumbled feta.  Grilled chicken breast — seasoned only with salt and pepper — completed the meal.  Mmm!  It was dreamy.

And for those who are wondering, raw goat milk doesn’t taste “goaty”.  It is smooth, creamy, and sweet.

————-

*Actually, my sous chef, my 14yo son Ethan, stirred most of the time.  :)

Glutton for punishment

As a glutton for punishment, even though my summer garden was/is far from successful, I am still very much looking forward to August 1st, when, according to a Maricopa County planting calendar put out by the University of Arizona, it’s the right time to start putting up (as my Midwest family calls it) green onion and carrot seeds.*  I have them purchased — Seeds of Change this time.  Heirloom and organic, but not native.

Parade Bunching Onion

I’m hoping that amending my soil MORE will help.  I’m continuing to make compost.  I have another batch about ready to mix into the garden with my fall planting.  I think I will also add more sand and some gypsum, though it seems like the jury is still out on whether or not gypsum is really of benefit to clay soil.  AND I will follow the garden calendar.  I’m not really sorry I didn’t follow it (or anything like it) when I did the initial planting;  I just needed to DO IT, to get myself started…  Sometimes one learns best from poor decisions, right?  :D

Dragon carrot

Seriously, this garden has been a real test of character for me.  It has become a daily effort to persevere even though the fun and most of the hope is gone for this summer’s crop.  “Keep weeding, keep learning, stay attentive, don’t give up just because it wasn’t an instant success,” I have to encourage myself.  I’m trying to take a longer view — which is also difficult for me — and place my hopes on future crops which will benefit from this summer’s failures.  ~sigh~

But, like I said…  I must be a glutton for punishment because hope — while not quite as abundant as it was fourish months ago — springs eternal, and I really am looking forward to better success next time.

In semi-related news, my love for butterflies and a homeschooling opportunity came into direct opposition to my gardening efforts this weekend.  In my Amazon cart, unpurchased, is a “butterfly garden“, which is really a pop-up mesh-sided habitat for butterflies.  I was rather excited to see a money-saving, real-life large green caterpillar on one of my tomatillo plants.  (Here in the desert, we rarely see caterpillars!)  I called out all the kids, and we watched the guy munching his way along…  I was much less excited when one caterpillar had turned into two, and together, they had absolutely decimated one plant and were well on their way to demolishing a second.  My husband pulled them off for me last night, and against his wishes to dump them in the trash, he deposited them, at my pleading, into a bush in the front yard.  In the meantime, I went to pick up our son Grant, who had spent the afternoon at a friend’s house.  As I briefly described Caterpillar-Gate to her, she went to the cupboard and pulled out a butterfly garden!  I happily took it home.  Though the two caterpillars were “gone”, I was pretty confident that more may show up.  Sure enough, there was another chubby green muncher on my largest tomatillo plant this morning.  I collected five different kinds of leaves from around the yard and plunked them and the caterpillar inside.  We’ll see if he weathers the change.

———-

*This is a really long run-on sentence, isn’t it?

 

Date night!

My husband and I went out for a date night last night.  We were at P.F. Chang’s, our old standby.  It’s our go-to spot because it is

  • Close by

  • Fairly reasonably priced for a special occasion sit-down restaurant

  • Tasty

  • Has a very reliable gluten-free menu

Before going gluten-free, we used to never go to the same spot twice.  We loved little hole-in-the-wall mom ‘n’ pop ethnic spots.  Oh, well.

On this occasion, though, being creatures of habit paid off.  As we had our nose in the menu, cross-referencing the g.f. menu with the fixed-price dinner-for-two menu, I glanced over at the couple who had just been seated next to us, and it was some old friends, Brian and Bev.  I’ve known Brian since we were seven, and Bev since we were freshman in high school.  :)  The funny thing was, previously, I hadn’t seen Beverly in at least a year, but had seen her just the day before, when I dropped off some homeschooling books at her home, to help her decide between curricula.  Twice in two days!  B&B had planned to meet another couple, Julie & Lee.  I’ve known Lee since we were… oh, probably four or five years old, as our families attended the same church.  Martin had never met Julie & Lee, but it was no matter.  We pushed two tables together, and proceeded to chat up a storm as we ate together.  It was great fun!

And then, Martin and I went to see Captain America.  I thought it was OK, though as far as super hero movies go, I liked Thor better.  But, I enjoyed my time with my hubby, and we’re happy to add an action movie to the mental folder entitled Appropriate for Our Kids.

My sister and I chatted on the phone as I was getting ready, and I told her that even though it’s not really unique or creative, I really enjoy dinner and a movie with my husband.  Or a baseball game.  Both of those, with the cost of babysitting added in, end up being really pricey.  Now that we’ve thoroughly tapped our date-night envelope in the budget for a good month or more, I was thinking about how my children are old enough that Martin and I could probably “sneak” out after the girls are in bed for a quick coffee up the road for more frequent, much less expensive date nights.

How about you?  If you’re married, do you and your hubby have a date night?  Do you go for less-often “fancier” date nights?  Or just out for coffee or dessert somewhere for an hour or so?  Or?  Do you pay a babysitter, trade babysitting with friends, or just leave your children alone?

The treasure chest of secret wants

I remember an after-church lunch, years ago, at a pizza joint, with a bunch of friends from church.  If memory serves, my oldest (who is now 14) was two years old, and I had just had my second son.  I don’t recall the circumstances, but something someone said touched a soft spot in my heart, and the tears started trailing down my cheeks.  A lady I’ve known for years started laughing and said — meaning it as a compliment, I’m sure —  “Karen, you used to be so cold, but ever since you’ve become a mother, you cry at everything!”

I’m certain she was right on both accounts, but it was one of those, “Uh… thanks” moments.  It really stung.  And clearly, twelve years later, I’ve not forgotten.

And though God has helped me — indeed, using motherhood as a tool — to gain a much greater appreciation and acceptance for the value, benefit, and divine gift of emotions (after growing up in a family which communicated that emotions in general are weak and Godless), I’m still pretty protective of them.  It’s hard for me to “go there.”  I still have to make a commitment, a choice, to dive into the land of tears and deep feelings.

I was reflecting on this while I was doing some gardening in the early hours this morning, after asking myself, “Why have I found the time to post on a couple other topics this week, yet not the follow-up to Tuesday’s post?”  And I think it’s this:  The whole event on Sunday was so deeply emotional for me, that a good portion of myself wants to keep it to myself, to not lay it bare for other’s eyes to see, to not leave it vulnerable to strangers, or even to friends.  It’s safer to be quiet.

And, it’s really important to me to be understood, and it seems here, on this particular topic, that there is lots of room in which to be severely misunderstood, and I’m not certain I want to take that risk.

Which is why I’m… happy, in a way, that my particular desire to be safer, quieter, and less risky doesn’t let me off the hook from revealing what God whispered to me on Sunday morning.  Because when God spoke that prophetic word me through someone else, it was very much like Him saying , “Not only is it OK for you to write about what you experienced, but I want you to.  I’m drawing it out of you.”

As an aside, I spoke on Tuesday night with the lady who had delivered that precious prophetic package to me on Sunday.  I wanted to give her a little background as to what God was doing in me, and how God’s words, through her, answered an immediate need.  I also affirmed that she had no idea that I wrote, or had a blog.  And, even more exciting, was that her speaking to me was the FIRST TIME she had mustered up the boldness to obey God’s prompting to speak out prophetically, which is likely why she was so abrupt in the delivery.  :)  “Just do it and get it done!” I could hear her admonishing herself.  Isn’t that so cool?  Isn’t that just like our God, to take our first feeble attempts and make something grand of them, as an encouragement to our hearts, and a reminder to keep moving forward, keep moving up, keep moving in, ever closer to Him, knitted ever tighter with our brothers and sisters in Christ.  It is lovely to me, and a real lesson:   He doesn’t concentrate on our mistakes;  He encourages our every attempt at obedience, our every faltering, wobbly step of maturity.

And, speaking of speaking to others…  that brings me back to the point of this post, and the heart of God’s whispers to my own heart on Sunday.

The church of which I’m a member, in which I serve, in which I grow, has a great emphasis on “equipping the saints for the work of service.”  Thus, anyone who would like to may learn — through classes and hands-on “workshops” — to pray for others, to understand the Kingdom of God, to walk in the prophetic, and even interpret dreams, among other subjects.  In other words, if you WANT to grow in ministry, you have ample opportunity.  In fact, I believe that’s why our church is rather mid-sized:  The pastor routinely encourages EVERYONE to participate, whether it’s in giving or receiving ministry.  He’s even invited those who are simply warming the seats and have no intention of growing to visit the local megachurch up the road;  that drew ire, I’m sure!  In other words, active participation in church life — in a culture that is all about not going out of one’s way, and serving self — is the par for the course at my church.

As a result, I am 100% comfortable praying for others, especially one-on-one, or as part of a little team praying for someone’s need, laying a hand on the shoulder of the hurting one, and watching God’s love infiltrate the cracks and heal the wounds.  I love it, in fact.  It is precious to me.

And, I receive e-mails as part of a prayer loop for our local church body’s needs.  More often than not, I say a prayer right then, as I read, and I really expect God to show up — how can He NOT respond to a Body of believers, rallied to a cause, motivated in love?

One of my favorite books in all of our going-on-ten-years’ experience in homeschooling is Window on the World, which is, roughly, a social studies book, introducing children to cultures, countries, and people groups.  At the end of each two-page section is a box describing how to pray for the group being studied — things about which to thank God, and things which still need His divine intervention.  The book’s tagline is, “When we pray, God works.”  I love that!  I am so confident of that.

Prayer is a part of my everyday life, from breathed sighs of distress, “Dear Jesus…” to mealtime prayer, bedtime prayer, and every hour in between.  Prayer in the car, prayer in my heart, prayer said aloud, prayer for every occasion.

However, on Sunday, as I lay on my face in worship and need, He revealed one gaping hole in my prayer life, and why this is particularly destructive.

I don’t pray for my wants.  Like, ever.

I will pray endlessly for wisdom, for maturity, for His will to become mine, for His love to fill me, for Him to help me keep my mouth shut, for me to not react in anger so easily, for me to see with His eyes…  I will pray for my marriage, for my character, for my needs, for the needs of my children, my husband, my home.

But I don’t pray for my wants.

In some sense, I rather congratulated myself for this.  I pray for the Really Important Stuff, and toss the flimsy, flighty desires to the side like chaff, reminding myself that, “my God will supply all your needs, according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”  Wants are peripheral, right?  They’re beside the point for any real Christian, any one with any Quaker or Calvinist (albeit Holy Spirit-filled)  leanings.  An outlook that sets aside one’s wants is sacrificial, right?  It flies in the face of our materialistic, self-centered culture.  Right?  Even the church — the American church, anyway — too often looks to capitalize on the blessings of God, missing the point of why He saves us, and viewing Him as some giant Moneybags in the Sky.  Surely I didn’t want to be a part of that!

But what I had overlooked, and what my Father so gently reminded me about, is that when I don’t submit them to God, tell Him about them, lay them at His feet… and even ask for them, what was happening in my heart was that…  Ah, I don’t know how to explain it exactly.  But, all those wants were tossing around inside my heart and mind, pestering at the corners, making me feel their lack, encouraging me to become bitter, raising their heads at the least opportune times so that I’d feel… less than, left out, abandoned, ignored, unprovided-for, left behind, uncared-for.

When the enemy’s ploys come to light, they make me angry.  Me not praying for my wants was rooted in me trying to do the right thing.  I reasoned, “What if I was praying for the wrong thing?  My desires are so tainted with my sinful nature!  What if He would give into something for which I asked, but wasn’t good for me?  What if I asked for something that wasn’t part of His plan for me?  He knows what I want, right?  I’m sure He’ll just provide for me the good things that I want, and sift out the harmful desires, and my life will be better all around.”

Except, that’s not the way it works.  He showed me that when my wants are not bathed in prayer and laid before Him, the bad ones don’t just go away.  The good ones, more often than not, never materialize.  Because, for reasons I don’t understand, we have a God who likes to be asked.  “Ask and it will be given to you…”  “You do not have because you do not ask.”  In James 2:2-3, I had been so fearful of asking “with wrong motives” that I neglected the importance of simply… asking.

So I asked.

  • that I may one day become a doula.

  • that I may become a published writer.

  • that I may one day live somewhere greener, with trees and hills and flowers and water.

  • that I may have a home which can accommodate my stepdad, or my mother-in-law, or any other traveler who may desire to stay with us for days (or weeks or months) without having to sleep on a bunk-bed or a couch.

  • that I may have a home with property enough for my children to run free, without worrying about the neighbors worrying about shouting children at 8 p.m.

  • that I may have some money to spend on clothes, without worry, with joy; lovely things, not just cheap things.

  • that I may complete my college degree.

  • that my husband may encourage me more.

Those, plus others came rolling with relief off my tongue, off my heart…  I prefaced it with, “God, these are things I want, and I do not deny it.  But, I am so mistrustful of my own motives, and I do not want you to give me anything that is apart from your plan, nor anything that may seem good to me, but which would be destructive.  I trust your wisdom.”  And so on…

And when I arose, I felt a billion times better.  I discovered that it’s not righteous for me to pretend I don’t have wants.  It’s not beneficial for me to “hide” my wants from God, and hope He hears my heart anyway, and gives the things to me in my self-righteous, misdirected denial.

He is a loving God, and He often has provided things for me, about which I’ve been afraid to pray, afraid to ask.  HOWEVER, there is peace in the asking, and I had not accounted for that.  What made me feel gloriously buoyant was knowing I had been honest with my God, I had submitted my wants to Him, I had asked with my best attempt at pure motives, I had not demanded….  I could picture my little treasure chest of secret wants, willingly opened, each item brought out, confessed and displayed, fingered longingly, then put back into the box, and pushed forward, given to my God, and with relief, I said, “OK, now.  You take it.  Do with it what you will.”  It was a great load lifted from my heart.

 

The best-kept secret of the Grand Canyon

I’m torn.

Have you ever visited somewhere so amazing, so wonderful that you want to share it with others, so they can experience your joy?  Then, you think, “But if I tell anyone, it’ll become overrun.”

Well, friends, I’m running that risk of beautiful-site-overpopulation and the risk of you thinking I’ve crossed the line into hyperbole to tell you about a place that is beauteous in the micro and in the macro.  I mean, things up close to wonder at and turn over in one’s hand, and sights to see that stretch beyond the horizon, where you feel like you are a part of eternity.

Part of why I find myself so willing to share is because my camera really isn’t that great, so you’ll probably look at the pics and think, “Hmm… looks nice,” but since the majestic splendor of the place is not quite captured in pixels, you just can’t understand how much you MUST visit here.  :)

First, you enter through a little drive we called The Enchanted Forest, where the aspens and firs are dense, close to the road, and hang overhead, creating a tunnel:

The Enchanted Forest

Then, you park your truck under a huge tree:

Ethan with Grandma Detta

At the edge of the field, where the trees are, evidence of campers abound…  GOOD campers.  Campers who are appropriately in awe, and don’t wreck the place.  Campers who have not — bless God — come out to this lonely and beautiful spot to swill beer and break their glass bottles on the rocks, but campers who make a fire ring out of boulders, leave firewood for the next family who comes along, and pack out every scrap of trash.  I guess this would be due to the fact that if you come out here, it’s not to fish.  It’s not really to hike, even (though hikers tend to be tidier campers than beer-swilling fishermen).  It’s just to be gather in the sights grander than one’s eye can behold, breathing deep the breath of God.  And possibly to collect fossils.  (More on that in a bit.)

We haven’t camped there.  I must admit, I’m partial to water.  I mean, a water spigot from which one can get the essential liquid for washing dishes and dirty hands.  I’m OK with pit toilets, and I can do without a shower, but I really need water.  We’ve never camped anywhere without water, but we’re sure considering it, now.

After the truck is parked, you race to the edge of the pebble-strewn, high-altitude Indian Paintbrush colored field, and look out.  The Grand Canyon is grand.  It’s close by to this spot, and it is beyond beautiful.  But no where else did the breath catch in my throat and tears spring to my eyes.  It’s just that beautiful.

To the north, miles away and far below you, you see the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument and the Paria Canyon Wilderness.

The day was a little misty, sprinkled with showers, which made it a bit hazy (and made us appreciate our jackets).  In real life, though, the cliffs are a striking shade of deep orange-red.

To the northeast, divided from the Vermilion Cliffs by the Colorado River and Marble Canyon, lie the Echo Cliffs, almost matching the Vermilions in splendor.  Due east is actually the Grand Canyon, which makes a jog to the north, turning from the East Rim up through Marble Canyon.  Below this point — which, by the way, is called Marble Viewpoint — between you and the canyon, lies House Rock Valley and House Rock Wildlife Area.  It’s cut by only a very few dirt tracks…  Most of the scenery appears pristine clean, remote, gorgeous.

Grant is there, in the middle, dwarfed by the grandeur

That is the Grand Canyon in the background... where it's (comparatively) smaller. Martin and Audrey kneel on the right.

It’s difficult to explain Marble Viewpoint.  It just out to the north, a narrow finger of land, perhaps a couple of hundred yards wide and an eighth mile?  quarter mile? long.  Along the edges are dropoffs of a couple thousand feet, leading down from the Kaibab Plateau.

To get the scale of it, somewhat, that’s my 9-year-old son, Wesley, one arm raised, in the middle of this picture:

Here, my 11-year-old and mother-in-law venture out with an umbrella (which was quickly abandoned):

The view due east:

Of all the places we roamed in our camping trip, Marble Overlook was by far the favorite of our dog, Tally.  She ran and ran and ran, joy in her step and excitement in her eyes.

Grandma Detta, Ethan, and Tally

Run, Tally, run!

I was delighting in the flowers — penstemon and Indian paintbrush of unknown varieties…

Penstemon

Indian paintbrush and some sort of scrubby grass and all variety of small plants carpet the floor of the overlook.

When I looked down and exclaimed, “Hey!  That’s a fossil!”  Suddenly, we were all hunched over or on our knees, or sitting and sifting through pebbles.  Fossils were EVERYWHERE!

And… since were in the Kaibab National Forest, and not within the boundaries of the Grand Canyon National Park, I already knew the rules:  One may take specimens home — including minerals — for one’s own enjoyment, but may not sell them.  So, we took samples.  :)  And you may not buy any from me.

Me 'n' my mountain man

We capped off the trip with a photo of everyone in the waning light.

If you go, enjoy it.  Keep it clean.  :)  And take lots of pictures for me.

To find Marble Overlook:  Take Arizona 67 south from Jacob Lake.  Just south of the Kaibab Lodge and General Store, take forest road 610 east.  Continue on 610, following the signs for Marble Viewpoint.  Travel for… ten miles or so until you reach the turnoff for forest road 219, which will be on your left, leading north.  The number of the road is signed, but there is no additional sign that tells you that this is the way to Marble Viewpoint.  Continue on 219 about four miles.  Towards the end, there will be an area on the left/west that even has a sign proclaiming “Marble Viewpoint”.  DO NOT BE FOOLED.  This is not the true viewpoint.  To reach the viewpoint, continue to travel north about 1/4 mile to the north (through the above-pictured “Enchanted Forest”) until the road ends at the true Marble Viewpoint.

(By the way, for long-time readers, if this sounds familiar, I blogged about a similar adventure in June 2007, when I visited the viewpoint with my mom and children.  Unfortunately, I was swayed by the sign, and we stayed almost the entire time at the not-really-a-viewpoint, and didn’t see the actual viewpoint until it was almost dark.)

“It probably sucks.”

My husband put on a tee last night.  Looking at it — an old concert tee picked up in January, 2006, back before the band became the semi-well-known band it is today — I idly remarked, “Mutemath has a new album coming out.”

He responded, “It probably sucks.”

I love discovering a band whose music simply resonates within me, and then following them as they grow.  It seems that so many of these bands and I grow on a similar trajectory, or that how they change seems “just right” to me…

But there is a special, heart-pricking disappointment when an absolutely beloved group of musicians go down some unwelcome musical path.  Nothing measures up to that first love.  I have wondered if the newer music is really that much worse, or if it’s just that I have too-high expectations.

The best of the bunch. By far. So far.

For the record, in my opinion, Mutemath’s first CD, which was LP-length, entitled Reset, and crafted while they were in obscurity (the members met, by the way, in a church in New Orleans) is promising, brilliant, glorious, unique, and powerful.  It was a fresh mix of guitar-based rock, electronica, mind-blowing drumming, vibrant energy, and God-focused lyrics of beauty and honesty.

Their second release, a major label self-titled “debut” was good, but with some of the spark and power lacking.

It’s been all downhill from there.  A song on the Transformers soundtrack?  Please.  Another on the TWILIGHT soundtrack?  Lordy.  Even worse.  Fame is not worth that.  SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS 2??????  Have you lost your minds????  Armistice??  That was a major let-down.

~sigh~  Maybe Odd Soul will be better.  (The first single was released two days ago, though I can’t listen to it until my sound card gets replaced.)  It’s due out October 4.

And what’s up with the cross lapel pin on the blinded guy?  Hmmm…  Not too sure about that imagery.

Dead, irrelevant, demonic. NOT.

I almost talked myself out of this post.

  • “It’s too revealing.”

  • “No one is interested in that.”

  • “Even if they’re interested, it wouldn’t be useful or encouraging.”

  • “Vain conceit, Karen, vain conceit.”

  • “You’re presuming a lot to think that anyone would want to hear ‘wisdom’ from you.”

  • “How can you teach what you only barely learned?  And did you really learn it anyway?”

  • “Remember all the other blog posts where you thought you’d stumbled onto something deep and powerful, and you poured out your heart into it, and no one commented?  Yeah, this would be like that.”

  • “Do you really need to turn every bit of your life into a blog post?  You spend too much time thinking about your blog.  You should keep some stuff private.”

After church on Sunday… well, let me back up a bit.

During worship on Sunday morning, I had a little revelation from God.  I love it how the same God, the same God who has been through all the ages, can whisper a a few words in my heart, and it is new, exciting, fresh, and just what I needed.  He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever, but fresh at the same time.

The revelation — those whispers — came after I had spent a good amount of time in awe, in repentance, on my face, with snot and tears dripping onto the carpet of the church.  Funny, that:  He seems to speak most profoundly, with spectacular, divine insight, right after I’ve repented.  Hmm…

After worship, I scribbled a bit of what He’d spoken to me on a scrap paper dug from the recesses of my purse.  The thought hit me, “I bet lots of women experience that same thing.  I should write a blog post about it.”  Immediately afterward came those questioning thoughts, and I put the plans for a blog post out of my mind as, “Well, God likely gave that just to me, for me, not to share.”

I left early from the adult service to go into SuperChurch to lead the 6-12 year olds in some worship that was deep and powerful and fun and rockin’.  :)  (Helped exceedingly by drummer extraordinaire, Bobby Flanagan.)  When I got back into the main service, it was mostly wrapped up, except for a bit of ministry, with some live worship (led by my amazing husband, my favorite worship leader ever)…  Folks were milling around a bit, some praying for others, some standing or sitting, some — like me — participating in one way or another in worship, some just chatting.  I settled into a seat on the front row and closed my eyes, hands loose on my lap.  Then I remembered I had children, opened my eyes, and looked back at the clock.  “OK.  I still have five minutes before I need to pick them up.  I’ll just soak this in for a bit.  Five minutes…”

Then, a lady came up to me.  I know her just a little;  I was in small group with her for part of last year.  However, I don’t know her well, and she doesn’t know me well.  For instance, I’m pretty certain she doesn’t know I have a blog, or that I write.  And, I’m 100% certain that she had no idea, personally, what had been rumbling through my heart and head and spirit that morning.  She placed her hand gently on my shoulder and started to speak to me.  “Karen, I really feel like God wants to tell you something important.  He says, ‘Do not doubt the words in your mind;  they are to be encouragement for others.  I call that out of you, draw those words out of you.  They are not of your own strength, but of mine.  May grace be multiplied to you so that you can do what I have called you to do.'”

Ha!

Every time I read or hear about the prophetic being dead or irrelevant or even demonic…  It’s just like water off of a duck’s back.  How could I ever believe that the prophetic — when it’s really of God, and for His purposes — is anything but jaw-droppingly amazing and wonderful and need-meeting???  When you experience something like that, the negative things others say regarding the prophetic simply don’t matter in the presence of my almighty God, knowing my “stuff”, knowing my heart, seeing my need, and meeting it with another member of the Body of Christ (which brings up a whole ‘nother topic:  the beauty and power and purpose of the local church body, and the wider Christian Church).

I looked in her eyes and said, “Thank you.  That was right on and I so needed that.”  As she walked away, I pulled the scrap of paper from my jeans pocket and wrote down everything I could remember of what she said, so it would stay fresh in my mind and not be lost in the sieve of my memory, nor plucked from my thoughts by the enemy, who would surely assault these words with the same doubt as he did the first set of words.

And now, this is a post in itself, and I’ll have to save what I confessed, and what God spoke to me in return, for another day.  Hopefully tomorrow.

FREE BOOKS from OSC!! (You pay shipping)

I am weeding through my books — homeschooling and other — and have some to offer.  I’ll post more as I have them.

These books are free for the taking, if you pay postage.  $2 for the first book, and $1 for each additional book you may want.  You can use the “Donate” button on the right-hand column;  that will take you to PayPal.  Write in the “notes” section which one(s) you’d like and pay accordingly.  I will send them via Media Mail.

Honor system:  Please do not turn around and re-sell them.  Please request them only if you have plans to use them personally.

(Links provided so you can read more about the book in question.)

1.  The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind – This has a 5-star review on Amazon.  Hardcover.  Excellent condition.  I received the book for free from the publisher, so I don’t feel right in selling it for profit.  However, I didn’t care for the tone of the book.  From what I read in the reviews, perhaps I just didn’t give it enough time…

2.  Zebra Finches – ©1981, it appears this little hardcover is still in print.  I bought it brand-spankin’ new about 30 years ago, when I bought some zebra finches.  I kept zebra finches for five years or so, as a kid.  :)  It’s a pet-care book.

3.  The Christian Mother Goose Treasure, Part II — Personally, I am partial to the original Mother Goose, but if this sounds appealing to you, it’s yours!

4.  Parents and Children Together — Expanding Your Child’s Vocabulary — This 69 page booklet was given to me.  It is full of great ideas, and has some attractive cartoon illustrations… but it’s the sort of thing that would sit on my homeschooling bookshelf until I get “around to it”, and in the words of St. Augustine (culled from the Sunday Arizona Republic newspaper), “Modo et modo no habebant modum.” (By and by never comes.)

5.  Rocks & Minerals — Teacher resource and student activity book (with info and instructions for the teacher and copyable work pages for the student).  Appropriate for grades 6-9 (though it says for grades 5-8+)  This would be a good supplement for a geology science curriculum.  I found it somewhat worthwhile, but somewhat confusing, as many of the projects require more of a knowledge of geology than I have.  You may find it worth sifting through and choosing which activities to use.

 

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