We who preach and write, do so in a manner different from which the Scriptures have been written. We write while we make progress. We learn something new every day. We speak as we still knock for understanding...If anyone criticizes me when I have said what is right, he does me an injustice. But I would be more angry with the one who praises me and takes what I have written for Gospel truth than I would be with the one who criticizes me unfairly. -Augustine


Blueberry Bushes

One of my favorite activities of the summer is blueberry picking. The farm where we pick is just idyllic. Thirteen acres of blueberry bush after blueberry bush. Of course when you first start picking, quite a few end up in your mouth rather than the bucket…a price that you pay for later, if you know what I mean.

But during my recent blueberry excursion, I learned something important about life…something I wished I had learned thirty-five years ago before I was married. Each time I go blueberry picking, I purchase one or two small bushes to be planted on my property when I get home. It has become a tradition. I now have fourteen fairly healthy fruit bearing bushes.

I usually pick about two gallons of berries, purchase two bushes, and conclude my blueberry excursion for the season. But this time I asked the experienced blueberry growers for some guidance. I was surprised by their instructions. They said that I should cut most of next year’s growth–as well as several of the mature branches–off during late fall or early winter. This surprised me because the bushes that I was buying already had a substantial number of berries on them. Why, if the bushes are already bearing fruit, would I want to go a year with very little fruit to enjoy?

The answer was simple. Doing so would allow the energy of the bush to be directed to the root system rather than the fruit. During this first year, it is critical that the bush becomes established, laying the foundation for years of fruit bearing.

This reminds me of what is needed for a healthy marriage–especially in the first year. Still wondering what blueberry bushes and marriage have in common? Read Deuteronomy chapter 24–and tomorrow we’ll learn the rest of the story.

Published in: on August 4, 2011 at 5:11 am  Leave a Comment  

Here is a recipe for a cold summer soup that is to die for!

Ingredients

6 pounds cucumbers (about 6 cucumbers), peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped (12 cups)
2 yellow bell peppers, stem and seeds removed, coarsely chopped
4 green onions, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
3 to 4 garlic cloves, mashed to a paste with 1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Essence, recipe follows  (see below)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 cups plain yogurt
3 cups sour cream, divided
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
Directions

Combine the cucumbers, bell peppers, green onions, jalapenos, cilantro, mint, dill, garlic, Essence, salt, cayenne, yogurt, 2 cups sour cream, olive oil, and white wine vinegar in a large bowl. Working in batches, puree the ingredients in a blender until very smooth. Transfer the soup to the refrigerator until well chilled, at least 2 hours. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve the soup, with each bowl garnished with a dollop of the remaining sour cream and some of the minced chives.

Emeril’s ESSENCE Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika

2 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoons garlic powder

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly.

Yield: 2/3 cup  (MAKE  SURE YOU DON’T ADD THE 2/3 OF A CUP OF THIS PART OF THE RECIPE LIKE I DID!!! JUST 2 TEASPOONS OF THE ESSENCE SPICE!!!)

Recipe from “New New Orleans Cooking”, by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch, published by William and Morrow, 1993.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/cold-cucumber-soup-recipe/index.html

Published in: on August 2, 2011 at 5:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Mountain Top Forgetfulness

Recently I experienced the best week of my life.Now those who know me well know that I have many best things in my life….I have about 100 best books I’ve ever read, best restaurants, best foods, and best experiences, but our recent Lamplighter Guild exceeds them all! Why? Words cannot describe what all 100 of our staff, teachers, and students experienced…the only possible way to describe this event is to say that we experienced the presence of God.

But while reading the Word of God this morning, I was reminded that mountain top experiences are often followed by the valleys of trials and testings. In fact, the day after we concluded the Lamplighter Guild for Creative Disciplines, my daughter-in-law was in a serious para-gliding accident, my sister was diagnosed with cancer, I was stung in the eye with a mud bee, and my mom had just fallen and fractured her pelvis! Now that’s what you call coming down quickly!

In I Chronicles chapters 12 and 13, David experienced something similar. In chapter 12 he is crowned as the new king for all of Israel and Judah. And with a pure heart but not a clear mind, his first decision as king was to bring the ark of God that carried the presence of God to a new location.I say “not with a clear mind” because though David consulted with his new legion of commanders and was confirmed by the multitude of the people, he did not consult with God.

The danger of mountain top experiences is that we don’t maintain the same fervency in prayer. We live in a day when doing great things for God requires praying without ceasing. And simply stated, oftentimes we have not because we ask not…maybe at this very moment, it’s time to turn the radio off and spend time talking with a Father who desires to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we could ask or think.

Published in: on August 1, 2011 at 12:18 am  Leave a Comment