Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Preparing to be a Helpmeet

I had read a few excerpts from Debi Pearl's previous work, 'Created to be his Help Meet', but this was the first book I read all the way through. I could spend a lot of time nit-picking, but I'll try to be as objective as possible.

'Preparing to be a Help Meet' by Debi Pearl

My book review:

The first chapter talks about Mrs. Pearl's own love story, how she knew from age 13 who would be her husband (that's a leeetle creepy), while the second shares the story of another girl who chose to believe God and the godly advice of her parents and begin courting a man she had barely met, and certainly did not have strong feelings for. Both stories ended in a happy marriage, testimony to the importance of trusting God with your life and listening to Him above all other voices.

Chapters 3-7 describes the three dominant characteristics that define men, and what these 'softened' characteristics look like in women. Prophet, Priest and King are echoed by Dreamer, Servant and Go-to Gal. The purpose of this is to help ladies who are strong in a certain area to learn how these roles will either help or hinder their husband once they marry - i.e., if you are a dominant Go-to Gal, you will definitely need to work on submission, especially if paired with a King-type guy. These steriotypes are very helpful, but life is not usually so cut-and-dry.

The following chapters share a lot of random stories, all to teach various lessons, but a few are so weird I didn't know what to make of them. Pearl seems to contradict herself in several areas:

1. According to the author, we single ladies are to somehow subtly let the guys know of our interest - hidden 'wallflowers' tend to get overlooked - yet don't give anyone but the guy you will marry the time of day or e-mail guys??? (Texting with guys is of the devil, after all...). Unlike Mrs. Pearl who just knew from God from an early age exactly who her intended was, most of us simply don't know for sure whom we will marry until that day comes. We can't live our life avoiding guys until God drops a man in our lap and thunder booms as we hear a voice say, "this is the one!".

2. Women who do not get married are somehow 'less than a woman' and not able to 'fulfill our God-given purpose'. This in contradiction to later chapters where she seems to be saying that it is perfectly okay to be single and serving the Lord.

3. There is a chapter about 'Fleas': Mrs. Pearl and another lady are described as examples where they were not submitting to their husbands, and God sent 'plagues' on them (spiders and fleas) each time they sinned. She uses this to threaten all of us ladies if we don't repent of our rebellion and wickedness that God will use these methods to punish us... hmm.

4. Debi Pearl tells single ladies that if they are just good enough (become Miss Right), God will send them Mr. Right in due time. I'm not foolish enough to believe that I will ever become so godly that I will reach the level where I 'deserve' marriage, or have all my ducks in a row. That is not the pattern of this fallen world. I will seek after righteousness and reach perfection in heaven, because of Christ's saving work in my life, not because of anything I do on my own merit. It is also too easy to try to be 'good' so that God will just have to give me what I want. How wrong that is. We seek after holiness because God is holy, and we desire with everything that is in us to be more like Him!

The book is worth reading, however, for the chapters entitled 'The Power of Stinking Thinking' and 'What say the Men?'. It is far too easy after marriage to sink into wrong thinking about our situation and husband, and sin against God by our critical spirit. Great warning to all of us as we look ahead and seek to prepare our hearts for battle. 'What say the Men?' tells ladies what men look for in a wife. Thankfulness and appreciation of her man. A woman who does not keep score making sure her husband does his equal duty. A hard-working lady to walk along side him. Respectful. Joyful. Affirmative (positive - the opposite of critical).

All-in-all, a very strange mixture of ultra-conservative and surprisingly charismatic views. Lots of scripture is used, but a couple times it is taken out of context, so be discerning as you read it. I totally agreed with her chapter on girls gathering knowledge of health and life skills. Very applicable.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Sheer Ecstasy of being a Lunatic Farmer

Absolutely hilarious new book from 'my hero' ;) My thoughts exactly, put into an eye-catching title.

Here's my book review:

"The Sheer Ecstasy of being a Lunatic Farmer' - by Joel Salatin

Since writing his first book 'Pastured Poultry Profits' in 1993, his experience speaking at conferences, expanding his farm, learning certain methods that work better than his early models, and having many other book-writing experiences under his belt have led to a mature new work that is aimed at the same audience of the movies 'Fresh' and 'Food Inc.' without losing Salatin's normal flair for the extreme sarcasm and word pictures that make one laugh.

Vision is what we need, and people who are willing to look beyond the moment and work to impact future generations for the better.

While there were several new concepts that he addressed in this book that I do not remember being covered in earlier works, Salatin definitely reviews a lot of material. The only issue I take with this newest book is that Joel Salatin is so successful, that those of us who are just starting our endeavors may feel discouraged at not being able to implement everything right off the bat, since Joel makes a huge case for each proven method being vital to a healthy and functional farm - and they are, yet it has taken many years and a huge learning curve in order for him to refine the system. A beginner has a harder time relating to Salatin's works the better and more successful he becomes, in my opinion. Still, if one has a will to keep trying, and become more and more innovative, there is no reason this book will discourage you.

I'll end with a great quote from the book...

From the chapter 'White Collar Farmer'

"I've heard that if your vision can be accomplished in your lifetime, it's too small. Few things excite me as much as meeting sharp young people who want to be farmers. I see it as a reversal of a trend, and a linchpin in the healing of our country. May thousands and thousands of sharp, clever young people join this profitable vocation: lunatic farming. It's noble. It's sacred. It's a great living. It's wonderful scenery. It's a great place to raise kids.

Enjoying this life and encouraging the best and brightest to join in is the sheer ecstasy of being a lunatic farmer."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Apple Dumplings!

Okay, I am totally sold on using leaf lard for pie crusts. It is so easy and the pastry dough rolls out like a dream - tons better than Crisco (not to mention healthier...)!

1 C. lard
1/2 C. boiling water
3 C. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt

Pour boiling water over room-temperature lard and mix. Then add the flour and salt and mix. Divide into about 12 balls of dough and roll each ball into a thin round on a well-floured cutting board.

12 small apples, peeled, spiraled and cored
Sugar (I use Turbinado)

Mix a good amount of cinnamon into about a cup of sugar. Roll each apple well in the sugar mix (my brothers say more sugar is better ;) ).

Place each apple on a pastry round, and gather the dough up around the entire apple. Pinch well to seal.

Place apples in a glass baking dish and bake at 350 degrees F for about 45 minutes (or until a fork poke shows that the apple is soft enough).

Serve with fresh cow cream :D

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Honey Harvest!

Here's some liquid gold for ya!

You don't realize how I've dreamed of this day since I was a little girl. It's like God has literally given me a taste of Canaan - the land flowing with milk and honey.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Don't Waste Your Life

Ever read the book 'Don't Waste Your Life' by John Piper?

Piper spends chapters explaining how a wasted life is one that is spent searching for pleasure in all the wrong places. Like retirement leisure, sports, friends, etc. "Life is wasted if we do not grasp the glory of the cross, cherish it for the treasure that it is, and cleave to it as the highest price of ever pleasure and the deepest comfort in every pain. That is what the next chapter is about.

God loves us by putting us through trials and pain, so that by learning to place our faith in Him, truest joy (happiness) will be ours. The path of the cross is an ugly, brutal, often deadly road. By our life and our death, do we honor God and show the world that He is worth living (and dying) for?

Whenever something is of tremendous value to you, and you cherish its beauty or power or uniqueness, you want to draw others' attention to it and waken in them the same joy. That is why Paul's all-consuming goal in life was for Christ to be magnified. Christ was of infinite value to Paul, and so Paul longed for others to see and savor this value. That is what it means to magnify Christ - to show the magnitude of his value.

It's a radical concept - when we are happy in God, we are glorifying Him. "To glorify God and enjoy Him forever" goes hand-in-hand.

The chapter that hit me the most was "Living to Prove He Is More Precious than Life"...

Of course, we do not use the word cool to describe true greatness. It is a small word. That's the point. It's cheap. And it's what millions of young people live for. Who confronts them with urgency and tears? Who pleads with them not to waste their lives? Who takes them by the collar, so to speak, and loves them enough to show them a life so radical and so real and so costly and Christ-saturated that they feel the emptiness and triviality of their CD collection and their pointless conversations about passing celebrities? Who will waken what lies latent in their souls, untapped - a longing not to waste their lives?

Oh, that young and old would turn off the television, take a long walk, and dream about feats of courage for a cause ten thousand times more important than American democracy - as precious as that is. If we would dream and if we would pray, would not God answer? Would he withhold from us a life of joyful love and mercy and sacrifice that magnifies Christ and makes people glad in God? I plead with you, as I pray for myself, set your face like flint to join Jesus on the Calvary road. "Let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come" (Hebrews 13:13-14) When they see our sacrificial love - radiant with joy - will they not say, "Christ is great"?

At the end of the road, will we show only a wasted life?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Winter Herbal Remedies

Do you know how to make some common herbal remedies?

Most people I talk to aren't sure where to start. It is incredibly easy and safe, however, so don't be afraid to try!

Winter cold and flu season is coming up, so I thought I'd post a couple cost-effective natural herbal medicines that you can make at home...

Elderberry Tincture

1. Put 1/2 C. of dried whole ripe Black Elderberries (sambucas nigras) in a glass pint canning jar. Fresh berries can be used, however you will need 190 proof alcohol.
2. Add enough 90-100 proof vodka to cover the dried berries. Alternatives to alcohol include vinegar or vegetable glycerine. Alcohol is the most effective menstruum for drawing out the medicinal properties of the herbs, however.
3. Screw on the jar lid and place in a dark cupboard.
4. The next day, if the berries have swelled above the liquid level, add more menstruum (alcohol) to cover.
5. Every day for four weeks, shake jar once a day.
6. After four weeks, strain liquid through a strainer or cheesecloth into a dark glass storage bottle (with dropper is best). Compost the marc (used berries).

Typical adult dosage is 1-2 droppers 1-3 times per day. This remedy is extremely effective for boosting your immune system in general, and preventing the flu virus.

Decongestant Tea

1 T. dried yarrow leaves/flowers
1 T. dried peppermint leaves
1 T. dried elder flowers
pinch of cayenne pepper, or as much as you can stand ;)

Place dried herbs in a glass bowl or glass quart measuring cup. Pour 4 C. boiling water over the herbs and decoct (steep), covered with a glass plate, for at least 10 minutes. Drink throughout the day (with a little honey if needed).

As a general rule, when taking herbal medicine, only administer 6 days out of 7, taking a break one day a week so that your body can work through any buildup of certain substances like alkaloids.

Start at the smallest dose recommended, and increase slowly as you watch how your body responds to the treatment - people whose liver is not functioning well should certainly be more careful when using herbs.

*Disclaimer: you try these remedies at your own risk, I am simply sharing from experience, not as a licensed medical practitioner ;)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Music Finds

I've been researching Christmas music for specials at our church, and just have to share some with y'all...

'Wexford Carol' choral arrangement by John Rutter
'Mary, Did You Know?' a capella with Rescue
'Veni, Veni, Emmanuel' sung by the Kings Singers (this one is on my playlist)
'Born on a New Day' ditto
'I Wonder as I Wander' ditto... okay, I like these guys. They have skill.

The 'Normandy Carol' is another relatively unknown gem, and thus I cannot find a good vocal arrangement. Here (after much digging) are the lyrics...

When wise men came seeking for Jesus from far,
With rich gifts to greet Him and led by a star,
They found in a stable the Savior of men,
A manger His cradle, so poor was He then.

Though laid in a manger, He came from a throne,
On earth though a stranger, in Heaven He was known.
How lowly, how gracious His coming to earth!
His love my love kindles to joy in His birth.

For piano, there is an early advanced book of arrangements by Phillip Keveren called 'A Celtic Christmas' - I HIGHLY recommend it. My favorites are 'What Child is This', 'Wexford Carol', and 'The Holly and the Ivy'.

The best advanced piano arrangements IMO are by Mark Hayes. In his newest Christmas book, 'Listen to Christmas', my favorites include the 'Listen for His Coming' medley, 'Mary, Did You Know?', and 'Coventry Carol'.

Do any of you have favorites you could share?

What is your favorite carol?

Butchering Season

Fall has come. My favorite season. I don't know why, perhaps I feel more at rest knowing there is less daylight and more time to be spent resting indoors than during the spring and summer. Mulching plants and harvesting, finishing up projects and making sure the barns are full and the animals will be cozy. Cool mornings of mist and fresh, clean air after a good rain wash away the heat and dusty dryness of summer.

"No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one autumnal face."

Now about this post's 'lovely' title...

The last few weeks were a blur of activity: pigs, Chuck Roast, meat chickens and spent hens are finally in the freezer and the extras sold. With our good friends and neighbors, we held our second chicken butchering day of the year, and were able to butcher a few turkeys as well (you haven't seen guts 'till you've eviscerated a 30 lb tom!). Yes, heartless is my middle name ;)

No really, I was blessed to watch or participate in all of the fall butchering and processing that goes with it.

I learned how delicious old stewing hens are when put in a roaster and boiled for 12 hours or so, then the broth is poured off and saved for chicken soup (including all that nutritious fat!)while the tender, flavorful meat is taken off the bones and saved for use in meals.

Also, when you ask the abattoir for the 'leaf fat' from around pigs' kidneys, he will be impressed and more than willing to give them to you for a song. Render these pieces with a bit of water, and you are left with pure white lard for making pastry crusts. Then ask for the fatback and render that as well. It is brownish in color, and will surely taste like pork, but I can't wait to use it as well.

Then there's tallow and beef gelatin, which you can obtain from the boxes of bones that you reserve from your beef steer - I use the tallow exclusively for soap-making, as it is a lovely hard fat that makes a forgiving batch of soap. The beef gelatin my family abhors, but I love the smell and enjoy a savory French Onion soup come those cold winter evenings!

'Eat your heart out' takes a new meaning when you marinate and cook up a beef heart. Pretty disgusting if you allow yourself to think about what you are eating, but I can tell you it's better than liver.

I still haven't learned how to properly prepare liver. Chicken liver is better than beef, but still... yeck. Most of the animal organs go to the chickens who go nuts over them, as well as curded skim milk. Chickens will also clean up the area where butchering takes place, and even eat the feathers. Gross as it sounds (the little cannibals), it probably is not a big deal for omnivores to eat animal products, even of their own kind.

Forgive my ramblin' on! It is nice to wrap up these different projects and focus on the dairy business for a season.

God is good.