31 October 2012

Taste of Home's Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

Happy Halloween! I'll have lots of Tinker Bell photos to share with you in a few days. Until then, check out this new-to-me recipe.

If you've carved a pumpkin this fall, you've already thrown out the seeds. So keep this recipe in your arsenal for next year. Or go buy another pumpkin to harvest the seeds RIGHT NOW. Or go to the store and buy some packaged pumpkin seeds TODAY. Yes, this recipe is that good.

I was a little skeptical when Chris said he wanted to roast pumpkin seeds this year. It just didn't sound appetizing to me at all. But my mom came across a couple of recipes online. This was the first one we tried. We loved it so much that we never tried any other recipes. I highly recommend this easy, salty autumn snack. It quickly became a family favorite in our house this weekend. I may have to add it to our Thanksgiving menu!

2 cups fresh pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preparation Instructions
In a small bowl, toss pumpkin seeds with oil, Worcestershire sauce and hot pepper sauce. Combine the salt, paprika, cumin and cayenne; sprinkle over seeds and toss to coat. Line a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan with foil; grease the foil. Spread pumpkin seeds in pan. Bake, uncovered, at 250 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes or until lightly browned and dry, stirring occasionally. Cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

30 October 2012

BSF 2012-2013: Genesis 6-8

What do you think about when you hear the story of Noah and the flood? If you're like me, you usually focus on Noah, the animals and God. But consider the sin of the people, the flood and being on the outside of the ark. I had never considered this perspective before, but it's quite eye-opening.

Genesis describes the people's sins as wicked, and "every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time" (6:5). We don't know exactly what sins the people were committing, but it appears that it may have had something to do with demonic possession. It's clear that Satan was trying to destroy humanity based on the prophecy in Genesis 3:15. This caused the Lord to regret creating man. He needed to purge the earth of these wicked and godless people. He chose to do it with a flood that destroyed every living thing on earth.

God is holy. This means that He is pure, righteous, sinless and perfect. His holiness prevents Him for being a part of sin. That is why He provided a Savior...so we, sinful man, can have a relationship with a holy God.

In the midst of this great wickedness, God found a righteous man. Noah did not allow the evil, wicked culture around him to affect his attitudes and actions. Not only did Noah walk a godly, faithful life, he also was vocal about the prophecy of the flood.

The people around him must have thought he was crazy! God asked him to build an ark. This massive structure was 45 feet high (as tall as a four- to five-story building), 75 feet wide (about half as wide as a football field) and 450 feet long (1 1/5 football fields). The ark had three stories and about 100,000 square feet of space. Scientists have found that the ark really could have held every species (not every variety) of animals plus all of the food necessary to feed the animals and Noah's family for more than a year. (Yes, they were on the ark for more than a year!)

Imagine watching Noah build the ark over many, many decades (up to 120 years), all the while preaching about the coming flood. The people taunted him, laughed at him and still went on committing their evil sins. Then imagine the people's reaction when Noah and his family entered the ark. God closed the door on the ark seven days before the flood started. Noah and his family waited inside the ark for a week before there was ever a drop of rain! Imagine the ridicule and taunting from the people outside the ark and possibly from his own family. Did they doubt God and Noah?

Finally water came from above and below the earth. Genesis 7:11 says "all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened." This could indicate tsunamis and earthquakes. It wasn't just a steady rain for 40 days and 40 nights. It was a total upheaval of the land.

Now imagine the horror for the people on the outside of the ark. This punishment was a result of their own rebellion and rejection of God.

There is good news in all of this: The ark is a picture of Christ. He is the only way to salvation. Those of us who have placed our faith in Him are inside the ark and protected from God's ultimate and eternal punishment. How can I share Jesus Christ, our "lifeboat," with others?

Then God turned his focus from the flood back to Noah. The waters receded for 150 days as Noah waited on God. God finally told them to leave the ark and commanded them to be fruitful and multiply.

Through it all, Noah was obedient. He obeyed fully and immediately. God still calls us to obedience today. He wants full obedience, because partial obedience and delayed obedience are disobedience. Where is God calling me to be obedient?

Here is the latest installment of Avery's memory verses:

"Enoch walked with God."
Genesis 5:24

29 October 2012

Carving the Clark pumpkin

Avery has really gotten in the Halloween spirit this year by carving not one but two pumpkins. Daddy was feeling brave this weekend and was ready to attempt his first jack-o-lantern with Avery. She requested a "scary" face.

At first, she was more interested in posing for the camera. She couldn't wait to use that plastic scoop to remove all of the squishy innards.

The scoop didn't work too well...

...but she wasn't afraid to stick her hands in and get dirty.

Neither was Daddy.

Watch later this week to see what we did with these bad boys.

Next came the worst part for a kid: waiting for Daddy to carve the face.

Avery thought she'd help by making sure the inside was nice and clean.

She helped poke out the mouth...

...and the eyes.

Daddy wanted to model the finished product. I'd say that's a pretty scary face, and a good jack-o-lantern too! :o)

Avery had to get in on the fun by putting a bowl on her head.

What a cute carving crew!

25 October 2012

One-and-a-half words a minute

We've been working on numbers and letters a lot lately. And Avery is doing great! She can count up to 30 with very little assistance. And she recognizes all of the letters, even though she sometimes mixes up a few of them. She loves to type on the computer. She never wants to type by herself "for real" like Mommy and Daddy. She always wants to hunt and peck to spell real words, usually people's names.

It took her two minutes to type three words. I hope her typing speed improves in the future!

24 October 2012

23 October 2012

BSF 2012-2013: Genesis 4:25-5:32

For some reason, many of the application questions from the lecture hit me this week. So a lot of this summary is those thought-provoking questions.

This lesson focuses on Seth's lineage of faith. While Cain's descendants chose their own way and ignored God, Seth's descendants chose to walk with God in faith. This faith is the key to the lives of the men in Seth's lineage.

Walking with the Lord is a deliberate choice. Walking is an advancement; it moves me forward. Is my walk a pursuit of God's course in my life? Is there progress in my walk?

Seth's descendants also looked forward to eternity and the legacy they would leave behind. What heritage will I leave when I die? What influence for Christ will be evident in my life? I have a confident hope in eternity, but am I confidently walking in faith in God’s promises? Am I living an example of faith for others in the next generation?

Seth was born when Adam was 130 years old. Seth took Abel's place in Adam's lineage. He helped ensure that the gospel message traveled to the coming generations. Seth's son was Enosh. During Enosh's lifetime, men began to call upon the name of the Lord (4:26).

The way we call upon the Lord now is through prayer. Am I calling on God in a way that is an example for others? How much time do I devote to prayer? Are my words modeling prayer for the next generation?

As I mentioned at the beginning of this year, I want to improve my prayer life. So this part of the lesson really hit home. I'm very proud of Avery and the obvious growth she has had in her own prayer life. Her prayers are becoming longer, more detailed and more personal. But she needs to see me pray and learn how to pray from my own example. And overall, I need to invest more time and focus in my prayer life.

After a brief hiatus, here is Avery's latest memory verse:

"The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering."
Genesis 4:4

16 October 2012

Vote for Avery!

Dr. Mark's office is having a costume contest for the kids who visited his fall festival on Friday night. This is a shameless plug to ask you to vote for Avery! All you have to do is like her picture on the Ellis Pediatric Dentistry Facebook page.

Thanks for voting for our favorite fairy princess!

BSF 2012-2013: Genesis 4:1-24

This week we looked at Adam and Eve's descendants. One line of descendants followed God and established the life of faith Christians aspire to today. But the other line was selfish, evil and desired only to excel in their human pursuits instead of walking with God.

When God asked Adam and Eve's sons Cain and Abel to give an offering, Abel gave the best of the best by sacrificing the fat of the firstborn. But Cain gave selfishly and with the wrong motive. These brothers show us that we must do everything with a pure heart. Everything we do is an offering to God. We must give Him the best of our best.

God accepted Abel's offering but rejected Cain's. Cain was angry. We don't know the cause of his anger. It could have been bitterness, jealousy, discontent or something else. God confronted Cain and warned him that sin was waiting to take action if he didn't master it (verse 7). The sin in his heart moved to a sin of the mind. Then it moved to a sin of action when Cain killed Abel.

God confronted Cain about his sin. God was leading Cain to confess his sin and repent (turn around and head toward God instead of away from Him). Instead, Cain lied to God and felt no guilt about murdering his brother. God judged and cursed Cain. But he also displayed His grace, mercy and compassion by putting a mark on Cain to protect him from an untimely death. God probably also did this so Cain would repent of his sin. Unfortunately, this never happened. Cain left God and His presence, even after God extended such grace to him.

As a result of Cain choosing to turn from God, the generations following him quickly degenerated into sin. Cain's line is exemplified by selfishness, polygamy and murder. But they also experience cultural success and accomplishments, including building cities, farming, creating music and musical instruments and forging tools. But there is no mention of God. Cain and his descendants may have influenced the earthly success of the fledgling human race, but Abel and his descendants have an eternal spiritual influence of righteousness and faith. Who am I influencing, including the next generation?

This lesson has slapped me in my face! Through this lesson, God revealed that I have a root of bitterness toward a situation in my life. This bitterness has led to discontent, self-pity, negative attitudes, demeaning thoughts and ugly words. Looking at Cain's example, I don't want the sin in my heart to lead to a sin in my mind, which then will display on my face and finally in my words and actions. Ultimately, this sin of bitterness will lead to rebellion toward God. To help me overcome this bitterness, I will memorize, recite and rely on this verse:

See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no
bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.
Hebrews 12:15

Please pray for me as I strive to rid of my life of this bitterness and instead thank and praise God for His blessings on my life.

Once again, I'm a slacker mom. This week I completely forgot to video tape Avery saying her verse! Here it is:

The Lord God banished him from the Garden.
Genesis 3:23

15 October 2012

Pumpkin picking

Today Grandma, Grandpa, Avery and I made our annual trip to the pumpkin patch. This year, we tried a different location, Tuttle Orchards. I liked it better than the place we usually go. The only downside is they don't have hayrides on weekdays.

We started out in the kids' play area because Avery loves parks and play areas. Here she is driving a pretend tractor.

And she climbed this very short haystack mountain.

She didn't hesitate to get her picture taken here.

But Grandpa wasn't too excited when we asked him to join in on the fun. Or maybe he was just too tall for the picture board.

There also was a hay bale maze. She had to do this maze twice, once with Grandma and once with Grandpa.

Next was the main goal of our trip: finding a pumpkin.

Grandpa found a really round and heavy one. Avery started to pull the wagon. Then she said, "It's too heavy for me" and asked Grandpa for some help.

A few farm animals were available. Avery really wanted to pet the goats, but she didn't. It was a combination of her being timid and the goats not wanting to sit still!

Finally, we visited the farm store, which was chock-full of produce from the farm and foods made from the produce.

I'm kicking myself for not getting a picture of the four of us together!

13 October 2012

A night with Tinker Bell

Avery's dentist (and our friend), Dr. Mark, hosted a fall festival at his office last night. The event was full of games, food and even a bounce house. And it was a good excuse for Avery to get dressed up in her Halloween costume.

This year, she wanted to be Tinker Bell. We couldn't pin her down on something until Grandma showed Avery all of the Tinker Bell accessories at the craft store. Then she was gung ho about being Tinker Bell!

Avery's favorite booth at the festival was face painting. I thought the artist was going to paint a cute butterfly on Avery's cheek and be done with it. But instead, she did full-face painting. Avery liked the "teardrop princess" in the sample pictures, but the artist was clever enough to match the colors to Avery's costume.

Avery looked and felt beautiful!

Daddy was willing to try a solo sack race with Avery.

She had a blast...because Daddy was doing all of the work! Somehow, he kept them upright the whole time.

After working on some crafts and playing lots of games, Avery was hungry. Luckily, Dr. Mark provided pizza, pretzels, caramel popcorn and lemonade.

We all had a lot of fun to kick off our Halloween season!

09 October 2012

BSF 2012-2013: Genesis 3

After all of the joy and beauty of the first two chapters of Genesis, Adam and Eve's sin and disobedience quickly change the direction of the book. But praise God that sin and Satan do not have the final word!

This chapter sets the stage for God's redeeming grace, the theme of the entire Bible. The serpent was Satan. He was an angel of God who rebelled against God because he wanted to be like God and to rule like Him. So God cast him out of heaven. Then Satan ruled over the earth and became our enemy.

The serpent tempted Adam and Eve with the evil that was in his own heart. But instead of fleeing, Eve moved toward the temptation. She moved from desiring sin to dwelling on sin to doing sin. This momentary pleasure brought an eternal judgment – death to all humanity. What a contrast to Jesus' temptation in the desert! Jesus used God's Word to resist the temptations of the devil.

The devil tempts us to sin, but we can choose to resist. How do I respond to temptation? Do I turn to God for help? Do I seek out His Word? Beware of the five steps Eve took from God to Satan:
  1. She listened.
  2. She looked.
  3. She took.
  4. She ate.
  5. She gave.
After their sin, Adam and Eve are ashamed. They hid from God. God looks for Adam and calls out to him. Then He confronts the pair about their sin. God was giving Adam and Eve a chance to confess and repent. Instead they play the blame game! Adam blames Eve (and God because He gave Eve to him!). And Eve blames the serpent.

God curses the serpent. Satan and Eve and all their descendents will be enemies. God promises that Eve's seed will crush the serpent's head. This is our first glimpse at the prophecy of the Messiah.

And there are other consequences. Childbirth will be painful. Adam will rule over Eve. Adam will suffer hard labor. And the ultimate consequence is death – spiritual death, physical death and eternal death.

Satan planned to turn the world against God. But his plan will fail because he underestimated God's grace and mercy on mankind. God has graciously provided a way for sinful man to be reconciled to Him. When Adam and Eve sinned, God covered their sin with a sacrifice. He took the life of another to pay their penalty of sin. Jesus did the same thing for us. Because He died for our sins on the cross, we can be reconciled and have a restored relationship with God.

I'll leave you with this beautiful picture from the lecture:
In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve struggled with obedience related to a tree. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus struggled with obedience related to a tree – the cross. Adam and Eve were in paradise, yet they disobeyed God. Jesus was in a dark, evil place, yet He obeyed God. He climbed the tree of death for us. The tree of death became a tree of life for us.
Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to video tape Avery's verse. But here it is for you reference:

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.
Genesis 1:31 NIV

02 October 2012

BSF 2012-2013: Genesis 1:26-2:25

I'll apologize now if my notes are a little messy and convoluted. That's kind of how my brain has been working today!

While the first chapter of Genesis describes how God created everything in the universe, the second chapter focuses on the details surrounding the creation of man. Now man is in the spotlight because we are God's masterpiece. I love this partial quote from last night's lecture:
“…Man is a glorious creature. Beautiful in form…the exalted and glorious highpoint of all of God’s creation.”
Knowing we are created by God should give us significance and self-worth. And we should be driven to worship God.

God created us to show Himself to the world, to work (specifically, to do God's work) and to have human relationships. Our greatest purpose is that we're made for God. We were created to find our soul satisfaction in God. Am I seeking it elsewhere?

Now, let's talk about the creation of man. God created Adam from the dust of the earth. Then He breathed His own breath into Adam, giving him life. Do you need proof of this fact? Scientists say the dust of the ground is made of every element found in the human body!

We are perfectly and miraculously made. We have personality. We have a spirit. We were created to glorify and enjoy God forever!

As I mentioned before, God also designed us for work. God commanded Adam to work before the Fall, before Adam and Eve sinned against God. Work is not a curse; it's an opportunity. What is my attitude about my duties at home? Am I persistent, faithful and productive at work? We can demonstrate our gratitude to God by how we work.

Finally, God prepared Adam to see his need for a helper. The term "helper" here does not refer to someone who is secondary but to a partner or, more accurately, a military ally. A husband and a wife are a team united together against the world. God’s primary purpose for man and woman is to be companions. How am I embracing Chris, who is my God-given ally in my marriage? Am I promoting intimacy and communication in my marriage? Am I training Avery to seek a marital relationship with a Christian man?

Speaking of Avery, here she is reciting this week's verse:

"God created man in his own image."
Genesis 1:27