“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.” Matthew 10:29 NIV
Hubby found this baby bird smack dab in the middle of our front walkway on Holy Saturday. Worried that someone or something might harm this little creature, he carefully moved it to the gravel in our front yard. Later, when Hubby found its abandoned nest, we tucked the baby back into its cotton-lined home. (We searched the internet to determine whether to put it in a shoe box and try to hand feed it or place it back in its nest. It was recommended that the baby be returned to its nest.) “Lord, I prayed, You know when one sparrow falls from a tree. Please take care of this little one and bring its mommy back to feed it.” That night we checked on our nestling, using a flashlight to peer into the bush where it lay quietly. Hubby whistled and baby opened wide its mouth. My heart broke. The next day, Hubby squished banana, water, and some bird seed we had left over in the pantry into a substitute food for mama bird’s best. Carefully, he placed a miniature aluminum foil bowl with the mush in the nest.
Three days later, baby bird is still alive.
If Hubby and I are caring for this little bird out of compassion, how much more will our Heavenly Father care for us. We did not create the bird. It is not part of our family. We have nothing to gain except a joyful heart if little one makes it. Yet, our Father in heaven has created us, made us part of His family by the blood of His Son, Jesus. His investment in us is huge. He delights in us and we give Him great pleasure. He will have the desire of His heart fulfilled if we live in Him–the gift of eternal life for us completed.
He knows our every need. He sees when we fall. He is hovering over us, even when we can’t feel His presence. He does care for us in His way and in His time. Like the baby bird, we need to trust and eat from His provision for us–His word and His love.
“And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows. Matthew 10:30-31 NIV
P.S. Our evening check on birdie revealed him turned toward the bowl Hubby refilled. Still no mama bird.
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In these weeks following Easter up to the commemoration of Jesus’ ascension into heaven, the time is designated as a season of rejoicing. Following this lead, I am going to just list the many blessings the Lord has bestowed on me these past two weeks. Praying your Easter season holds much joy and that you find blessings in the simple, ordinary events of each day.
533) Celebrating Christ’s Resurrection Freedom for all who believe in Him 534) Forever friends who know every aspect of your life and still love you. 535) Feet up, quiet talks with friends, catching up, laughing, heart-to-heart, sharing Him 536) “That’s My King” DVD–what a way to usher in Easter, seeing every way that He is the Great I AM 537) “Christ in the Passover” presentation at Church on Good Friday, a recap of the seder foreshadowing of Christ 538) Trekking out to the Bountiful Harvest co-op at 7 a.m on a Saturday morning–yawn. But the haul was great and shared. Broccoli, flavorful asparagus, summer squash, cucumbers, yams, bananas, apples, honeydew melon, pineapple, some Japanese root, 5 loaves of 9-grain bread, and yummy Easter cookies 539) Coming home and crawling back into bed–much needed 540) Hubby helping around the house to make it comfortable and tidy for visiting 541) A simple Easter meal for just the family–ham, that flavorful asparagus, and those yams 542) Hubby and I sitting quietly after dinner. We basked in the rest. An unfamiliar occurence.
543) Holiday dinner ready at 3:30 p.m–unheard of for Janis
544) A quick game of “Quiddler” 545) A relaxing movie 546) Italian Easter Bread made and enjoyed 547) Youngest able to stop inbetween jobs for a quick “hello” 548) Oldest at church with us 549) Buying dress clothes for Oldest’s job interview on Tuesday–so nice to be needed by the guys 550) Bible Study shared with my dear friend 551) Open House at school–a chance to meet the parents and show off the kids work. Satisfying.
552) All the beauty of last weekend’s girl time in Cali
553) Hubby welcoming me home with pink roses~glad I was missed 554) Fresh avocadoes and sourdough bread from Cali 555) The American flag glying in an airplane hangar at LAX 556) Sons that welcomed me home last weekend 557) Answered prayer
558) A new mattress for our bed–just a little stiff though
Grateful for all the Lord’s blessings.
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Two of Jesus’ disciples were walking on the road to Emmaus, just talking when a “stranger” joined them. The third person asked them what they were talking about, and they were dumbfounded.
“Are you the only one living in Jerusalem who doesn’t know the things that have happened there in these days?” Luke 24:17 NIV
“What things?” the stranger asked. As Jesus’ downcast disciples explained the events of what we now call Holy Week, the stranger had some revealing information for them.
“‘How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?’” Luke 24:25-26 NIV
As this uninvited traveler on the road began to discuss the Scriptures with the forlorn disciples, their hunger to hear more began to burn within them. They invited him to stay with them in the village. The traveler agreed.
“When he (the stranger) was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.”
“‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?’” They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, ‘ It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.’ Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.” Luke 24:30-35 NIV
Oh, may our hearts burn within us as we read His word, hearing His voice anew each time.
And may we recognize Him in the breaking of the bread.
He is risen! Our lives have been redeemed.
Have a Blessed Easter
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Each year on Holy Saturday, we have a family tradition. The making of Italian Easter Bread. This mildy sweet breakfast bread with its creamy, sweet glaze and five colored eggs poking up is a symbol of the Risen Christ. For our family, for my parents before me, and for my grandparents before them, it was a sacred Holy Saturday tradition to prepare the bread for Easter morning. Much like Christ’s body was prepared for burial–only to rise on that first Easter morning long ago.
As I knead the sticky mixture of flour, eggs, yeast, and other ingredients with the heels of my hand, I can hear my mother’s voice say, “…add just a touch of flour…keep it warm by pressing in…there, now it’s smooth and elastic.” A ball of dough ready to rise in a warm place. Tucked in the oven above a steamy pan of water, the yeast will make that ball rise to brush the dish towels blanketing the bowl.
When my mother baked bread, the dough would percolate overnight in a bowl draped with a heavy covering. The bowl balanced on a chair above the floor furnace for warmth. Sometimes, the process began late on Good Friday. Sometimes, it started on Holy Saturday and finished early Easter morning when we awoke to the savoriness of freshly baked bread wafting through the house.
In our home, while the dough rises in our oven, I carefully remove five fresh eggs from the carton. Fragile as glass, they will be swirled gently in purple, green, hot pink, yellow, and orange colors from the Easter kit. Our sons used to help with this part but I think they’ll be busy this year. Handled with care, the eggs are then set to dry in the holes punched out of the coloring kit.
After the dough has risen once, it is removed from the oven and anise, raisins, and almonds are kneaded in to enhance the dough’s flavor. Rolled into two long ropes, the dough is braided. The brightly colored fragile eggs are tucked between the braided strands and the dough is ready to rise again.
At breakfast on Easter morning, my husband gingerly lifts the bread and with a knife carves a cross on the bottom of the loaf. Through this action, we are reminded that because of the cross of Good Friday we can participate in the Rising that changes our lives.
Traditions and love are the golden threads that tie one generation to the next. Baking bread, coloring eggs, gathering round the family table to give thanks, praying together. These intentional times shared and spent together speak meaning to our hearts and leaven the dough of life through the generations. Traditions add flavor to life.
As I have mentioned so often before, when I prepare a recipe that captures the flavor of our heritage, I often have had to rely on a recipe from a newspaper article or magazine. My family did not bake with recipes. It was all from scratch and how you remembered making it before–how it felt in your hand or tasted that determined how much of an ingredient was added. A little of this, a little of that. So here is the recipe taken from the Los Angeles Times Food Section, eons ago. 2 and 1/4 to 3 and 1/4 Cups flour 1/4 C chopped blanched almonds 5 tinted unshelled raw eggs Combine 1 cup flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Combine milk and butter and place over low heat until liquid is warm (butter does not need to melt). I use a yeast thermometer to test the temp of the butter. It should be between 105 and 115 degrees. Gradually add to dry ingredients and beat 2 min. at medium speed of mixer, scraping the bowl occasionally. Add 2 eggs (make sure they are not ice cold out of the refrigerator) and enough flour to make a soft dough (usually almost 2 more cups). Knead on a floured surface until dough is smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes. Place in a warm, greased bowl and turn to grease top. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours. This is where I place the towel-covered bowl containing the dough into the oven on a rack above a large 9×13 pan filled with boiling water. I do not turn on the oven first to make it warm in there. After the dough has doubled in size (about 2 hours), punch down the dough and turn out onto a floured surface. While you let the dough rest, covered, for about 10 minutes, combine raisins, almonds and anise seed. Knead the fruit mixture into the dough. Divide dough in halves (lengthwise, rolling each piece into a rope about 14 inches long. Twist ropes together loosely to form a braided ring on a baking pan without sides. I do not grease the baking sheet first, although it does call for that. Place the eggs in at the twists in the braids. Brush the bread with melted butter. Cover the bread again with a light weight towel and let it rise (just like above) until it has doubled. About 1-1 and 1/2 hours. Remove from the oven. Set the oven to bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. Check the bread at 25 minutes to make sure it has not browned too much. Remove from pan and cool on rack. I frost it with a light glaze made from 1 cup of powdered sugar, 1 tsp. lemon juice, 2 TBLS milk.
What traditions make Easter meaningful for you?
“The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.’” Matthew 28:5-6a NIV
Have a Blessed Easter!
From My Heart to Yours,
Linking with Ann Kroeker at Food on Fridays Share: Share what you have enjoyed.
|West Coast Redwoods|
The East Coast is only a 3 hour time difference from the West Coast but they are worlds apart. The East Coast is steeped in history–for that is where our country began. The West Coast is often referred to as a youngster–immature, fun-loving, lacking in traditions, and somewhat disrespectful.
The pride of the East rests on its cultural offering, its sophistication, formality, experience, knowledge, and wisdom. After all, the seat of our government is there. International political figures argue complex issues at the United Nations. It has New York, New York, Broadway plays, Times Square~the list goes on.
|New York Skyline|
The educational institutions are rock solid in the East from the Ivy League Schools of Harvard, Princeton, Yale to the public universities of Rutgers, Penn State, University of North Carolina, University of Connecticut (which beat us, University of Arizona, in basketball’s Elite Eight.) Just a few of the renowned schools of higher education found on the East Coast. On the West Coast, only Stanford and the University of Southern California rank among the top 10 or so universities in scholastic prominence in the country.
|United Nations, NY|
The West Coast’s culture is also vastly different. Life is lived more casually. Tie, optional, if at all. The climate somewhat lacks respect and perfect manners. It wouldn’t make it in Amy Vanderbilt’s complete book of etiquette. The West Coast is about life outdoors. Rugged. Adventurous. Risky.
While thousands flock to the East Coast for a historically, cultural experience. Those same people throngto the West Coast for its jagged mountain peaks and pristine lakes, its thundering waterfalls pouring into the Yosemite Valley, its back country hiking through flowering meadows and thick forests.
Yes, the West is vastly different from the East. My point?
If life can be worlds apart from the East Coast to the West Coast, and they are only separated by a mere 2500-3000 miles, how much more have our sins been separated from us when the Lord says:
“as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”? Psalm 103:12 NIV
We are worlds away from our sins. In attempting to understand the completeness of Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary for us, I have included just a few other Scriptures to meditate on for this Holy Thursday and Good Friday through Easter.
“In your love, you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back.” Isaiah 38:17
“This is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:20 NIV
“‘Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.’” Isaiah 1:18 NIV
Are you struggling trying to change? Trying to free yourself from your sins? Striving to live in love?
There’s only one way for that to be accomplished. Come reason with the Lord and discover how His crimson blood can purify you and continue purifying you so that you are white like wool. Free from the sins and life that entangles you.
It is a journey and a process. Once you take that step, you will be moving into a deeper and freer relationship with the Lord.
Celebrate His goodness, His sacrifice, His example of service this Holy Thursday.
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