31 May 2007

Elisabeth Elliot is my heroine.

This book, Secure in the Everlasting Arms, has changed my life. The short page-and-a-half chapters are on practical topics, scattered with enthralling accounts of Elisabeth's time as a missionary in the jungles of Ecuador. If anyone has a reason not to trust God, it is she - her husband was brutally killed by the very people they were ministering to in the Ecuadorian jungle when their child was very little - yet she has the boldest faith I've seen in a woman. I want to carry this book everywhere with me. In fact, I just might, if I get a bigger purse.

This quote of Elisabeth's has put me right in my place today...

"One reason we are so harried and hurried is that we make yesterday and tomorrow our business, when all that legitimately concerns us is today. If we really have too much to do, there are some items on the agenda which God did not put there. Let us submit the list to Him and ask Him to indicate which items we must delete. There is always time to do the will of God. If we are too busy to do that, we are too busy." ~ elisabeth elliot

30 May 2007

Simple Truth on Memorial Day.

This is my niece Ashley, and every time I'm with her, I'm reminded of the faith and simple trust of a child.

Now that she's the ripe age of 5, we can have real conversations, and they simultaneously make me giggle and pause in wonder. Her understanding is simple, and it's refreshing.

On Memorial Day, we were sitting by the pool under the patio covering because it was drizzling once again in dreary Dallas. But spending time with Miss Curly-Q, as we call her, brightened my spirit. I was painting a large tin trough in which my sister-in-law was going to plant flowers, and Ashley was fidgeting in one of those camping chairs with the built-in cup holders. Earlier that day, Ashley and her sister Maddie had made some chalk drawings on the patio by the pool. We started chatting as she began cleaning up:

Ashley: "Aunt Stine, I'm going to help clean up the chalk, and that will make Daddy happy."
(She walks over the the edge of the pool and begins splashing pool water on the chalk and rubbing it out vigorously.)
Me: “Ashley, that’s so nice that you’re being a good helper. You know Jesus is happy when you help other people.”
Ashley: “Yeah, and so is Daddy.”
Me: “Yes, but Jesus is even more happy than Daddy when you’re a good helper!”
Ashley (in her signature sing-songy voice): “Yes, and Jesus had helpers, too...like James and John.”

Nothing like a 5-year-old to remind you of what the Bible says. Then our conversation turned to family matters.

Me: "Ashley, do you know how your Daddy and I are related?"
Ashley: "Re...la...ted?"
Me: "Yes, do you know what that means?"
Ashley: “Yes, you’re related to Daddy because you LOVE him.”

Well, there you have it.

Somehow in my day-to-day adult life, I have severely lost focus. Somewhere in the mix of keeping a clean house, working 8 hours a day and then extra on side projects, making time to spend with my husband and girlfriends, and taking care of myself, I have lost the simple faith of a child. I have lost my simple trust in the Lord. And I want it back.

I've missed the deeper understanding that maybe, just maybe, doing something simple to serve someone else is how I can become a little more like Christ. Maybe what makes us "related" to one another in this big Family is that we simply LOVE one another.

Sitting by the pool sheltered from the drizzle, pondering life with a 5-year-old with golden curls and a trusting heart...I can't think of any better way to have spent this Memorial Day.

Psalm 131: Simple Trust in the Lord

"Lord, my heart is not haughty,
Nor my eyes lofty.
Neither do I concern myself with great matters,
Nor with things too profound for me.

Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul,
Like a weaned child with his mother,
Like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O, Israel, hope in the Lord
From this time forth and forever."

25 May 2007

11 May 2007


09 May 2007

New flowery things...

Life is full of all kinds of flowery things lately...

Here's the Square Foot Garden we recently planted in the backyard, featuring some lovely poofy yellow Chrysanthemums to keep away pests! We're currently growing tomatoes, jalapenos, onions, and a lot more soon-to-be fresh veggies! Perhaps we'll start our own co-op - haha! Square Foot gardening is genius. For all you gardening novices like me, this is the answer to actually developing a green thumb with a small amount of space and time!

We went to the Farmer's Market on Saturday with our dear friend Michelle, and her sweet granny insisted on buying us some more tomato plants! So we'll hopefully have lots of juicy tomatoes ripe for the pickin' this summer. The plants are flowering now...

Then, I found these lovely white flowers growing wildly against the fence in the backyard and in our front flower beds! I have no idea what they are, so if someone recognizes them, please let me know! Too bad I pulled up a ton of them thinking they were weeds before they bloomed. That is just like me - to be too proactive and end up harming something in the process...

And finally, a handmade vase, paper magnolias, and card for my dear friend, Lori, who is moving away! I will miss her so. The writing on the vase is one of my favorite quotes: "Strangely, it is dangerous faith in our untamed Savior that leads us to the joy we crave."


04 May 2007

We are officially hippies now.

It's true...two nights ago, during the big rainstorm, we collected rainwater in giant gray bins to provide water for our new garden, instead of using the hose. It's interesting how each little step seems huge at the time, but looking back, it's not big deal. I remember when we started using natural sweeteners instead of Splenda (ick), and started taking probiotics and gave up soft drinks. Then there was the day I thought I'd officially crossed the line when I bought grapefruit peel detergent for the dishwasher. Those things seem so natural now, and I'm sure one day this will too.

I've just had this inspiring feeling lately to go even further, to live "greener", to eat not only organically but locally, and to be mindful of what I am consuming. What can we give up to live more simply? What do I really need and what can I give up? Thanks to the survey the lovely Jenni posted on her blog, I fouind out I'm currently 72% green :) I have a bit of a ways to go, but at least it's a good start! I find myself really thinking about the environment lately, especially when getting rid of "#5" or "#6" to-go containers. I had a styrofoam one the other day from my lunch at Kavala Mediterranean Grill and experienced some tension when it was time to throw away. Could I reuse it? I chose to throw it away but mourned its addition to the local landfill.

In the spirit of eating well and going green, here is my list of recent favorites. (If you want to see my original lists of yummy things, click here, here, and here.)

1. GT's Synergy Organic Raw Kombucha - Mango flavor. MMMMM. I've posted abut Kombucha before and it's multiple health benefits but have admitted it was a bit hard to swallow sometimes with all that slimy stuff floating inside. No longer!! The new fruity flavors are delicious - especially mango! It kinda tastes like mango margarita! I have to restrain myself from guzzling a bottle in 2.5 seconds flat.

2. Arrowhead Mills Organic Buckwheat Flour. Oh, this will be your new best friend. Steven and I have been sticking our pinkie toe in to test the waters of the "gluten-free" world. Neither of us are allergic to gluten as far as we know, but several of our friends are. So I wanted to learn more about buckwheat since it's a perfect gluten-free food. Have you ever seen "soba noodles" on the menu at your favorite Asian restaurant? Well, they're made from buckwheat too. Anyway, I love this flour. I made buckwheat pancakes with it recently, and they were the fluffiest, most scrumptious pancakes I'd ever had! Here's my recipe:

Buckwheat 'n Honey Pancakes

1 cup organic buckwheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup whole milk (or almond milk)
2 tbs local honey

* Once you've put the batter in the pan, you can sprinkle some Ezekiel 4:9 cereal (see below) on each pancake, or top them with some fresh berries or bananas!

I like to eat them with butter, milled flax seed, and Agave Nectar on top. Oh, dear.

3. Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Cereal. We had totally given up cereal, until we discovered this. I love the Food For Life company, because they strive to use ingredients that are straight out of the Bible. The ingredients in this cereal are: organic sprouted 100% whole wheat, malted barley, organic sprouted barley, organic sprouted millet, organic sprouted lentils, organic sprouted soybeans, organic sprouted spelt, filtered water, sea salt. Love it. No sugary crap, fake fruit, or "natural" flavors. As I mentioned before, we love to add this to pancakes (make sure you don't sprinkle it on too soon, or the grains will get soggy!), or sprinkle it on kefir yogurt. Steven also loves to eat it like regular cereal, with almond milk, but since there are no sweeteners, it's great if you add just a dab of Agave Nectar.

4. Madhava Agave Nectar. I thought this stuff deserved it's own 'lil paragraph. I do love honey, but what I love about agave nectar is that it not as thick. It's lighter and I like it better when I just want to add a little sweetness to something. This is how the Madhava website says Agave Nectar is made: "The raw agave juice is regularly harvested from living plants by Indian peoples native to central Mexico. To do so, they must slice off the top of the plant and hollow out its core. Then the plant is capped with a stone. The pineapple shaped agave plant secretes its nectar into the center of the plant, rather than into flowers like most plants do. It collects in the hollow center for several days, after which the milky white 'juice' is removed by ladle, one plant at a time. In a way it is similar to tapping a tree for maple syrup collection." I love the natural process and that it's made by Native American people - neat!

5. Ghirardelli 70% Cacao Extra Bittersweet Baking Bars. This is just dang good quality chocolate. We use it for most of our baking. I admit, I don't know if they use fair-trade chocolate, but I'm not ready to give this up yet for another brand, at least for baking :). By the way, check out the recipes on the Gluten-Free Goddess blog. She makes some chocolate recipes that are to die for, including the most luscious Dark Chocolate Cake you will ever put in your mouth.

6. 963 Coffee. Ok, I'm a little biased because this is my husband's company, but I had to do it. This coffee is truly divine, and a portion of the sale of every bag goes towards building clean water wells and providing HIV/AIDS medication in Africa. It's fair-trade, organic coffee, and we drink it every single morning. Thanks to 963 Coffee, we are now certified coffee snobs. Get it at 963missions.com.

And now for my non-edible recommendations:

1. Seventh Generation Non-Chlorine Bleach. Yay! Finally something that will brighten our white towels, without poisoning us and our ground water at the same time! I just love everything Seventh Generation does.

2. Dryer Balls. I haven't tried these yet, but I'm excited to. I recently ran out of fabric softener sheets and was sort of disturbed that there wasn't a more natural option that didn't clog up landfills like the loads of dryer sheets I use a year. These fun little balls are the answer! They even reduce drying time and soften your clothes, naturally, and are re-usable! By the way, I really want to recommend the Gaiam website - they have great eco-friendly home products as well as exercise balls, yoga mats, etc.

3. Evolution Light Bulbs. These are amazing. They provide all the "natural" looking light you want, fit into any fixture just like a regular bulb, and use 75% less energy. And they last for 10,000 hours! Again, you can find this on Gaiam, or even at Home Depot. Look for the "energy star" symbol on the bulbs to make sure they're the right ones.

4. Avalon Organics Vitamin-C Lip Balm. It's like rubbing a creamsicle all over your lips. Is there really anything else I need to say?

5. Nature's Gate Organics Skin Care. I got a bunch of samples from Whole Foods and have loved this stuff. I'm trying to decide which ones I'm going to purchase in their full sizes, but here are the products I tried and loved: Light Switch Brightening Serum, C For Yourself Texturizing Serum, and Have A Vine Day Chardonnay Hydrator. Mercy!

6. Sabadil Homeopathic Allergy Meds. Our saving grace for the past 2 allergy seasons. Steven and I both used to get horrible allergies - sinus infections, constant congestion, raw noses from blowing too much, etc. Combined with eating better, this allergy medicine has completely cured our problems. When I feel the slightest hint of congestion or sneezing coming on, I pop 2 of these pills, and it works almost immediately. It basically feeds your body the very things you are allergic to in the air, to let your body know it's not something to react to.

I could go on and on, but I'll leave you with this list for now. Happy healthy living!

02 May 2007

"One Another" illustration...

I burned the midnight oil last night finishing up this project. My friend Merritt hired me to create this as a gift for a wedding she's in this weekend. She had seen the concept before and asked me to recreate it...in the background are the words "one another" and then written down the page are all different Scriptures that include the words "one another" or "each other". It's exciting to me that people will actually hire me to do something I love to do!