Monday, August 10, 2020

Weighing In


Proverbs 11:1
The Lord detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with him.

This past week, I have a wellness check scheduled with my doctor via the Tele-Health system.  What a relief it is to have that technology!  Since I wasn't going to be physically present, I decide to take my blood pressure and temperature, then head downstairs to the scale.

I must tell you that, even though we have a scale, I'm not one to use it.  I've held steady for years at what I consider an acceptable weight, so I in no way expect the unfamiliar numbers flashing at me.

What???  I've gained five pounds?  Since January?

This truly comes as a shock.  I mean, my pants still fit, so what's up with that?  Hold on - am I not tightening the belt where I once did?  I question the accuracy of the scale, but my husband, Danny, who weighs himself regularly, assures me that it is correct.  He even admits to thinking that I might be getting a bit thicker in the waistline, "But I'd never have said anything, Martha, because you still look great to me!"

Smart man.

Anyway, when I tell my doctor about the weight gain, he doesn't seem alarmed in the least, chalking it up to Covid-19 inactivity (which I'm sure does count for some of it as we only got our treadmill and weights at the end of July), and suggests that I could be retaining water, too.  It's a common side effect of the medicine he's prescribed for me.  I'm skeptical about that; I'm more inclined to believe that I really need to make good and frequent use of our exercise equipment.

And the extra pounds I'm currently carrying?  I'm not overly concerned.  For years, I've thought I don't weigh enough for my height and age.  So, if I can convert the extra bulge to muscle, and stay around the new weight, I'm fine with that.

I know the scale will keep me honest.


Friday, August 7, 2020

Let's Get One Thing Straight

Matthew 3:3
This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:  "A voice of one calling in the wilderness, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.'"

I know, I know!  I've been writing about Danny's homemade bread for several posts now, but I do hope you will bear with me.  Although his bread is delicious, of course, we find that cutting even slices to enjoy is difficult to accomplish correctly.  Our eyes just don't seem to match up with the way our knife is working its way through the loaf.

So, what's the solution?  A bread slicer!

What???  How could this possibly work?  Well, I'll show you!

The sides fold out and up!

The board inserted at the back braces the bread.

And now, it's the time of reckoning.  Will this contraption actually do the trick?

It does!  Nothing better than a straight and even slice of bread!

Except, there is.

And it's the path we follow on our Christian journey.  Are we staying right behind Jesus on the straight paths, or are we straying?  Do we talk the talk, but not walk the walk?  Are we destined to enter through the narrow gate, or are we jeopardizing our welcome by entertaining unholy thoughts or ambitions?

In these times of self- isolation and quarantine, there are more than enough hours in the day for contemplating and praying about our walk with Jesus.

May we all prepare the way in our hearts for the Lord, making straight paths for Him, so we can follow close behind.


Monday, August 3, 2020

All That Matters

 Isaiah 6:8
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send?  And who will go for us?"
And I said, "Here am I.  Send me."

There are generally three kinds of people in the world. People who make things happen, people who watch things happen, and people who say, what in the heck happened ~Herman Cain

Those that's goin', get on the wagon; those that ain't, get out of the way! ~Herman Cain quoting his grandfather's wisdom.

My heart broke this past week when I learned of the untimely passing of Herman Cain.  I was a devout follower of his talk show here in Atlanta, which he hosted for many years, a staunch supporter of his 2012 presidential bid, and a beneficiary of his Christian wisdom, wit and candor.  An eternal optimist, Herman always focused on solutions, not the problems.  I will miss him greatly, and I pray the the Lord will comfort his family at this time, and grant them His infinite peace.
Mr. Cain, you were a national treasure, and you will be mourned by so many, for many years to come.

All That Matters

His voice was silenced
All too soon
His wisdom denied
For new generation
Seeking healing
Courage to face
Life's challenges
He was brave 
Beyond the pale
To speak truth
In love
Because the truth
Was all
That mattered
And truth should be
All that matters
To all of us


Thursday, July 30, 2020

What's Your Excuse?

Romans 1:20
For since the creation of the world, God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

Can you guess what's in the box pictured above?  No?  Don't feel badly if you don't have a clue.  I would be scratching my head, too, if that was all someone gave me.

Does this next photo help?

Hmm . . . Probably not.

How about this one?

Yep!  It's our brand, new treadmill!!!

Ever since the Covid struck, my husband, Danny, and I have been taking walks outdoors, but with the summer heat in full swing, that's mighty uncomfortable.  So, back in June, Danny orders this treadmill and some hand weights; it takes until late July for them to arrive!  Our take is that lots of folks are quitting going to the gym, as we have, and are purchasing exercise equipment for home use.  That would certainly explain the delay.

But Danny, with the help of my son, Daniel, don't delay in putting this cumbersome piece of equipment together.

At last, the treadmill is ready to go, and our new television screen is mounted!

My first workout is this past Tuesday, and I've yet to miss a day since then, nor do I plan to.  It's so convenient, being right here at the house, that I have no excuse NOT to use it.

And as Christians, we have no excuse not to recognize the glory of God in all His creation, and to spread the Good News of Christ Jesus to everyone we meet.  While bodily exercise strengthens us physically, our practice of prayer, Bible reading and witnessing to others strengthens us spiritually.

Both "workout" routines are necessary for a healthy, happy and balanced life.

So, what's your excuse?


Monday, July 27, 2020

Our Daily Bread

Matthew 6:11
Give us today our daily bread.

A few weeks ago, I published a post about the perfect bread that my husband, Danny, stumbled upon when following a recipe for pizza dough.  Many of you expressed interest in this recipe, but I wanted to wait and see if Danny was able to successfully recreate what might have been a fluke.  Now that he's done that several times, I'll share it with you, along with some photos to illustrate the process.

Here are the ingredients you will need to make what we now call the Perfect Bread:
  • 3 1/4 - 4 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 envelope dry active yeast
  • 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt (if using fine salt, 1 teaspoon)
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (105 - 110 degrees)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil + extra bit to oil a bowl and plastic wrap
Danny starts by placing 3 cups of bread flour in our Kitchen Aid mixer.

He creates a mound at the top.  This is for the salt and a pinch of the sugar.

The yeast, as you can see above, and the remainder of the sugar go at the bottom.  The reason for the separation?  Yeast does better when NOT in direct contact with the salt.  Next, Danny pours warm water into the yeast side of the bowl.

Now, it's time to mix!  Danny adds the olive oil to the other ingredients.

Danny starts slow, #2 speed, adding a 1/4 cup of flour as seems appropriate.  But don't be afraid to put the mixer on Speed 4 once the ingredients have come together.  This is the actual kneading process for the bread.

The dough is ready when none sticks to the bottom of the bowl.

On a floured surface, Danny prepares to stretch the dough.

He stretches the dough on all sides, doing so at least 8 times before forming it into a ball.  This little guy is placed in a lightly oiled bowl and covered with plastic wrap that is also oiled so it won't stick to the bread as it rises.

Danny lets it rise for about two hours, or until doubled in size.

He turns the risen dough back on the floured surface, divides it into two loaves and does some more stretching until the bread begins to fight elasticity.

The two loaves are placed on a cookie sheet, covered again with oiled plastic wrap, and allowed to rise for another 2 hours.

Look how well these babies did!

Now is the time to preheat your oven to 375, placing a pan of water on the lowest rack to steam and form a crispier crust on the bread.  In the photo above, Danny is placing a dusting of flour on each of the loaves.

It's baking time!  Make sure to set your kitchen timer for 30 minutes.

And at the end of the baking cycle, look what we have!  Two golden brown loaves of melt-in-your-mouth bread.

I hope many of you will try making this tasty bread for yourself, your family or friends, remembering that our daily bread is something for which we should thank the Lord each and very day.


Thursday, July 23, 2020

At a Loss for Words

Luke 1:18-20
Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this?  I am an old man and my wife is well along in years."
The angel said to him, "I am Gabriel.  I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and tell you this good news.  And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time."

We are living in the hot and humid dog days of July here in Georgia.  In this heat and dampness, it is not unusual for us to experience thunderstorm pop-ups in the late afternoons.  We are always grateful for the rain, but not so much for the tumultuous lightning with its notorious companion, thunder, that can wreak havoc on our power grid.

And this past Tuesday, it does just that!

Our computers and internet are knocked out of commission, but thankfully, for only five minutes.  What a relief!  But when my husband, Danny's, computer comes back to life, he makes a startling discovery.  His keyboard is on the fritz!

He tries everything he knows to resuscitate it - changing USB outlets, rebooting the computer, trouble-shooting on line.  Nada, zilch, zero.  Danny is NOT a happy camper.

Until, that is, I remind him that he can use our Chrome Book for typing messages on email or Facebook.  That is a helpful, temporary solution, but of course, Danny wastes no time in ordering a new keyboard for his computer.

But what if we hadn't had the Chrome Book as a backup?  Danny would most certainly be at a loss for words.  How frustrating that scenario would be, as dependent as we all are on our technological devices!

As maddening as this inconvenience seems, it doesn't hold a candle to the plight of Zechariah, when Gabriel informs him that he will be unable to speak until the birth of his son, John.  How did Zechariah communicate?  Did he sign what he wished to say?  Were ink and parchment readily available?  Did he scrawl messages in the dusty ground?

What did his wife, Elizabeth, make of this odd and unexpected turn of events?  And if Zechariah managed to somehow tell her about what had transpired, did she believe him?

Just as God chose Mary and Joseph to be Jesus' earthly parents, He chose Elizabeth and Zechariah to be John's.  The Lord knew that all four would love their sons, training them up in the way they should go.  But maybe, God knew that Zechariah required a bit more work in the humility department.  Being a priest of high standing at the synagogue might have produced a bit more pride and, dare I say, arrogance in Zechariah than was good for him.  Or, could it be he simply liked hearing himself talk?

All I know is that when we are silent, we are more likely to hear God's still, small voice.  Perhaps, God thought that Zechariah needed to listen more closely to Him, and not to his own words in order to grow in his faith and trust.

In that case, being at a loss for words is a good thing.


Monday, July 20, 2020

Ding Dong! Jesus Calling!

Revelations 3:20
Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

I can feel the tendrils of depression wrapping around the essence of my heart.  My mind.  My soul.  What is wrong with me?

I'm reading inspirational blogs of fellow Christians, who encourage me.  I'm keeping up with my daily Bible study.  I'm praying for others.  Where are you, Jesus?

I'm at my wit's end.  At this blog, I purport to be an inspiration to others, yet I'm feeling lost.  Frustrated.  Floundering in the faith.  I'm weary, tired, doubting.  How, Lord, can I go on?

Seeking respite from the negative noise and chatter in my head, I retreat to our deck, hoping that the greenery and calm of the forest surrounding me will grant me peace.  Let me know that God is present, even when my feelings overwhelmingly strive to convince me otherwise.

And then, I hear it.

The unmistakable chime of an Avon bell.  Seriously!  I'm floored and flabbergasted.  In my heart, I know Jesus stands at its door, waiting for me to welcome Him in where only He can deliver the solace I need.

I hastily reenter the house and ask my husband, "Danny, did you just hear a doorbell?"

"No," he replies, regarding my statement with genuine surprise.  "Why would you think that?"

"I heard one," I insist.  "I promise you, I did!"

This prompts Danny to recall that evening when we were still caring for his mother, and a week before she passes, we both hear the ring of a bell.  Something we cannot explain in rational terms, but an event we can most definitely corroborate.  We take it, at the time, as a sign from the Lord that Mimi is nearing the end.

And years before this, when Danny gallantly offers to take my beloved dog, Maggie, to the vet for one last time, I'm in such grief that I escape yet again to our deck.  There isn't a breath of wind, but the wind chimes hanging above me strike one gentle note.  I'm sure it's God telling me that Maggie has passed on to the Rainbow Bridge.

When I have been beside myself with worries and sorrows, Jesus stood, and still stands, at the door of my heart, knocking or ringing the doorbell, asking me to let Him in once again.  He longs to assure me that He is ever present, and will never let me down.

Nor will He let you down, dear friends, no matter what depths of despair or hopelessness you may be feeling in the moment.

Listen for that knock on your door, that bell to ring.

And answer.


Weighing In

  Proverbs 11:1 The Lord detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with him. This past week, I have a wellness check schedul...