Tuesday 26 March 2013

Planning a Christ-Centered Wedding!

To celebrate our two-year wedding anniversary, I thought it would make sense to write a post on marriage!  I've been thinking about our wedding often (What were we doing at this time two years ago?!) and it truly was a beautiful day.  We know that marriage is a blessing to be celebrated, and also an amazing opportunity to be a picture of Christ and His Church, and we wanted our wedding to reflect that.  So I thought I would share a few of the ways we aimed to make our wedding Christ-centered:
  •  Make your ceremony an open invitation!  Often logistics and costs mean that you can't invite everyone you want to to your reception - but often this isn't the case with the ceremony.  Make an event on Facebook, put a note in your church bulletin, email old friends and mentors - and invite them to come celebrate with you.  Weddings are joyous times and our culture is seeing less and less of them.  Give as many people as you can the opportunity to come and remember that marriages are created by God, and a wedding is a beautiful thing.  

  • Use your vows to demonstrate the different roles of a husband and wife, and how they reflect Christ and His Church.  We used the traditional vows as well as writing our own unique ones:
    • Stephanie, with God's help, I promise to:
      • always protect both you and those under our roof.
      • always provide for you.
      • always sanctify you with the washing of the Word of God.
      • lead our family in family worship.
      • be caring, listening, calm, not quick-tempered, not given to drink, not violent, not greedy for money.
      • be hospitable and sober minded.
      • never to leave you or forsake you, for all my days.
    • Andrew, with God's help, I promise to:
      • pray with you and for you.
      • submit joyfully to your leadership as does the church to Christ.
      • help raise our children in the training and instruction of the Lord, with love and grace.
      • make ours a home of warmth and joy always open to others.
      • trust you and be worthy of your trust.
      • never to leave you or forsake you, for all my days.

  • Andrew spoke briefly at our wedding on Ephesians 5.  Now I obviously do not think it is mandatory for the husband to speak, but it was a neat way to acknowledge that he is the spiritual head of the home.  From the first moments of our marriage, Andrew was using the Word of God to encourage and exhort me.  I knew before I married him, but it was obvious in this action, that Andrew would not take lightly the position God had granted him. 

  • We shared our first kiss on our wedding day.  Along with the obvious reason of fleeing from temptation of sexual sin before we were married, we also hoped to be a light in a dark world  that purity does matter and is beautiful.   I was certainly nervous about having my first kiss in front of all those people, but I can say honestly that it was wonderful!  It gave real meaning to "You may now kiss the bride!" and certainly lent an intensified air of excitement to the ceremony.

  • We invited our family and friends to join with the pastor in praying for us and our marriage.  Marriage was created by God, and so it makes sense that Satan hates marriages and seeks to destroy them.  Thus marriages should be bathed in prayer, by the spouses certainly, but it is also a wonderful gift to a married couple to be praying for them before, during, and after their wedding ceremony.  Having a prayer involving the guests at the ceremony can help them to see the importance of their prayers to your marriage. 

How did you make your wedding meaningful? Or how have you seen it done at other weddings?

Friday 22 March 2013

Mustard Jar Salmon Glaze

He also said to His disciples: “There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and an accusation was brought to him that this man was wasting his goods. So he called him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.’ (Luke 16:1-2).

We need to be good stewards of what God has given us, and here is one VERY simple way we can practice not being wasteful! :)

I love dijon mustard, and I know it goes great with salmon!  This is such a quick easy way to whip up a super yummy glaze for your salmon. 

I eyeballed it but basically I used:
  • 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1-ish tablespoons of lemon juice
  • a teaspoon or so of maple syrup. 

I just poured a little of each right into the mustard container, snapped the lid shut, and gave it a good shake!  Then I poured it over the salmon, spread it around and baked!  VERY yummy.  (The salmon is on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper* and I baked it at 350F until flaky (maybe 10-20 minutes).

*I actually used wax paper in this picture, and shortly after putting it in the oven our kitchen started smelling faintly like melted crayons!  We managed to salvage the salmon.  All that to say make sure you're using parchment paper!

Tuesday 19 March 2013

3 Lies from the "Pro-Choice" Movement

t-shirt from Abort73.com
  1. "It's not about the babies."
    They don't want people to focus on what is actually happening - babies are being killed.  Eve Ensler proclaimed publicly that the issue of abortion is: "not really about fetuses and babies, but really men's terror of women's sexuality and power.”  She, like many others fighting against the right to life, feel the need to turn people from the real issue.  Notice she isn't even trying to pretend there isn't a baby involved, she just wants you to ignore the baby.  It is hard to argue against the murder of children - so it makes sense that they would want to convince people that the issue is really something else.
    TRUTH: Abortion is about the murder of children.
  2. "It's better for women."
    Apparently, for a woman to exercise her innate "sexuality and power", she has to have the option to kill the life inside her for any reason whatsoever.  Feminism has brainwashed women into thinking that they will become most fulfilled by making selfish decisions. (Christ teaches that for all people true love is laying down your life for another, and real fulfillment can only be found in Him.)  There is a reason the anti-life movement does not claim emotional or physical fulfillment comes from having an abortion.  Today I heard that women who've had abortions are six times more likely to commit suicide than a woman who has given birth in the previous year (and double that of women who have had miscarriages). (Study available here)This is just one example of the many serious physical side-effects, including breast cancer and future pre-term births. Often the pro-life movement is accused of victimizing women, but by being pro-life, you are also fighting for the best for women, emotionally and physically.
    TRUTH: Those who are pro-life are pro-women.
  3. "Abortions are a necessary health provision."
    Today I went to a rally to protest against taxpayer funding of abortions in Ontario, Canada.  Almost anyone in Ontario will be able to tell you of a medical need they had which wasn't covered - from eye-glasses to chemotherapy drugs.  And yet the lie that abortions are basic health care is so pervasive in our culture that they are fully covered by the provincial health plan.  Rarely, if ever, are abortions any longer needed to protect the life of the mother - and instead are actually causing harm to her (see above point).  The Hippocratic Oath, historically taken by doctors, states "I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy".  They don't heal the mother and they certainly don't heal the baby, yet the anti-life movement attempts to frame abortion as if it is best for everyone. 
    TRUTH: Abortions are bad for everyone involved. 

Friday 15 March 2013

Why Read Leviticus To Your Children?

God, in His eternal wisdom, included Leviticus in His Word and so we know it is important to read!  But unlike some books - James, for example - the practical applications don't just jump off the page at first glance.  Since we don't just want to TELL our children, but to SHOW them that all Scripture is God-breathed and useful (2 Tim 3:16), here are four reasons to read to them from the book of Leviticus.

Although here we are reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear!

  1. To understand the importance of being a people set apart.
    • This theme is reiterated again and again in the New Testament.  Christians are meant to be different from other people, so that they can bring Glory to God and bless the rest of the world.  Replace "Canaan" with "North America" and your kids will know what you're talking about - they need to follow the Lord's rules, not the culture's:
      • You shall not do as they  do in the land of Egypt, where you lived, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you.  You shall not walk in their statutes.  You shall follow my rules and keep my statutes and walk in them.  I am the Lord your God. (Lev 18:3-4)

  2. Because many of the laws are obviously and easily applied in our daily situations.  When you read one of these, ask your children how they this law applies in their own lives!  Some obvious examples include:
    • Respecting your elders: You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of the old man. (19:32)
    • Hospitality: You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you. (19:33)
    • Integrity: You shall do no wrong in judgement in measures of length or weight or quantity. (19:35)

  3. To re-iterate the value of children as shown throughout the Scriptures.
    •  In Leviticus we see that "dying childless"(20:20,21) and being "bereaved of children" (26:22) are curses given both to specific individuals and also nations who turn from God.  I am NOT saying that this is always, or even normally, the case for those who can't have children - but I do believe these verses demonstrate that God LOVES children and opening the womb is one way he blesses his people (Lev 26:9).  Also, when a culture as a whole rejects children, they will reap negative consequences and in that they bring God's curses on themselves.

  4. To point to the need for a Savior in Jesus Christ.
    • Leviticus not only is great for showing us pictures of Christ's atoning sacrifice for us, but it also drives home our NEED for it.  We read: "You shall be holy to me, for I the Lord am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine. (20:26 & 19:2) and we know there is NO WAY we can be holy enough for a Holy God.  So He gave us Jesus, a perfect man and fully God, to stand in our place. And then we become co-heirs with Christ, and are made perfect in him. You can use Leviticus to reinforce this beautiful truth
    • We often think of Leviticus as being all about the rules, but Leviticus 26:40-45 is a beautiful example of God's forgiveness and mercy towards those who repent of their sins and humble themselves before Him, which is shown to us in full in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

Tuesday 12 March 2013

Children: Treasures in Heaven?

 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21)

Although there are surely many correct applications of this verse, there is one in particular that we would like to address here, and this is because we believe this treasure is sadly rejected by many Christians in our culture.

We believe one really tangible way we can "store up treasures in heaven" is to raise up children in the training and admonition of the Lord.   We cannot control whether or not they will be saved, but we can pray desperately for their salvation, and for wisdom as we seek to use the Word of God as our guiding light for raising up children who will desire to glorify Him with their whole lives.

Consider the following:
  • You choose to buy a house, but "can't afford to have a child."
  • You have a cell phone, satellite TV, and internet, but "can't afford to have a child."
  • You eat out most nights, and often for lunch, but "can't afford to have a child."
  • You spend your money on (input your wants here), but "can't afford to have a child."
None of those things you will be able to take with you to Heaven, and none of them you will be able to enjoy when you are there.  In fact, this passage tells us that they could be destroyed or stolen, even before your lifetime is done - and they would be gone forever. You will have chosen the fleeting pleasures of this world, instead of investing your time, money and energy into souls that will live throughout eternity.   

God tells us that "Children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward"!(Psalm 127:3)What a BLESSING to be given children, and even more so, to be able to have an impact on those children for eternity!  You can trust in God, for he knows the needs of your family Just a few verses later, Jesus tells us "Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’... your heavenly Father knows that you need them all." (Matthew 6:31-32). As one family puts it, "God pays for what he orders". 

Thursday 7 March 2013

All Natural Cleaning - a Norwex Review

Ever since we started using Norwex products about a month ago we have wanted to write a post about it.  Since this week you have the opportunity to win $50 worth of Norwex products over at Growing Home - it seemed like the perfect time to tell you how great they are!

Why it doesn't matter if your child licks the windows.
Aside from the fact that they WORK, the reason I love the products best is the peace of mind I have from knowing I am not filling my house with chemicals.  That means when my little guy is licking the window - not only do I know that I'll be able to get it perfectly clean with just water, but I don't have to worry about him pick up any residue who-knows-what-is-in-it windex chemicals on his tongue!  So he can lick the window and everybody's happy!

You get excited about cleaning?
I really don't like cleaning.  I want to have a tidy, clean house but that doesn't come naturally to me, and it doesn't happen by itself!  However, since getting the Norwex products, our bathroom and kitchen have never been so clean, so consistently!  It is SO EASY to just wet the cloth and wipe down an area, and because it is so easy, I do it more often, and then there is no build-up!  It's the opposite of a vicious cycle!

Our favourite products:
  • Kitchen Cloth.  I love wiping up my counters, oven and sink and seeing ALL the gunk get taken care of.
  • Kitchen Towel.  It practically sucks up the water when you are drying something, instead of just spreading it around.
  •  Dish Cloth.  I use this for washing dishes.  Though it seems like a strange design, it is surprisingly pleasant to use and very effective. 
  • Body Cloth. Essentially a micro-fibre facecloth, it removes even waterproof mascara with only water!  No more chemical ridden makeup remover to remove all-natural makeup! :)
  • Enviro Cloth.  This is what keeps our bathroom sink and counter sparkly clean!

Our oven was worse than yours, but now it is cleaner!
(Andrew's review)

  • I (Andrew) used a Spirinett and scrubbed many layers of black carbon off the bottom and sides of the inside of othe oven.  I was surprised how easy it was, and after spraying with the Norwex Oven Cleaner at the start, I used only water.  I was even more impressed that there was no visible degradation of the Spirinett after I rinsed it out and crunched it up a few times in my hand. 
  • I have been very happy with the Optic Cloth too.  My glasses clean better and with half the effort compared to using the optical spray and cleaning cloths from the optometrist. 
 How does it work with only water?
I am not a consultant so this won't be the most technical description but basically they are super-micro micro-fibre cloths (200x times smaller than normal micro-fibres) so they pick up all the tiny little particles that a normal cloth wouldn't.  The silver (which is naturally anti-bacterial) woven into the cloths (you can't see it) disinfects the cloths within 24 hours.

You're skeptical, I know, because I was too, but two events have convinced me that it does work.
  1. When we had our Norwex Party here, the consultant took a raw piece of chicken breast and rubbed it on my kitchen counter (gross, right?).  Then she swabbed it to measure protein and we saw that there was indeed lots of protein on the counter.  But after she wiped the area with a wet Enviro Cloth, she swabbed it again and voila - none!  Very cool.
  2. About two days after first laundering our Norwex Kitchen Cloth, it started to get a bit of that yucky dishcloth smell.  But then Andrew hung it up to dry above our sink and we didn't use it for about 24 hours and after that the SMELL WAS GONE!  The way I figure it, you can't have the smell go away without the germs leaving too.  It's been about 4+ days since then and still no smell - we just make a point of hanging it up to dry when we aren't using it.

Where do I buy it?
I highly recommend going to a Norwex Party if given the opportunity (they are like Tupperware parties), as that will give you the best opportunity to learn how they work, how to use and care for them, and what products best suit your needs.  But better yet, host your own.  This has the added advantage of allowing you to receive a number of free products based on the sales from the party.

Our friend Sarah, who is a Norwex consultant, has offered to answer any questions you have, so feel free to shout them out here or on our Facebook page.

Again, be sure to head over to Growing Home before the giveaway ends on Tuesday, March 12

NOTE: We received no monetary or product compensation with relation to this post.  We just really liked the Norwex line and wanted to share that with you in case it could make your life easier too!

Monday 4 March 2013

4-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

To me, these are the PERFECT peanut butter cookies.  They are soft and chewy (even after they have cooled) and SUPER easy.  I threw them together in a matter of minutes, and 20 minutes later we were munching on warm home-made cookies!

To be fair, I added chocolate chips - which does knock these up to five ingredients, but they are optional, for you peanut butter purists out there!

The Ingredients:

  1. Mix together 1 1/2 cup peanut butter, 1/2 cup white sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar* and 1 egg.  If you want, add 1/2-3/4 cup chocolate chips.
  2. Roll/drop into walnut sized balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet.  I then put them in the freezer for five minutes, because they were really soft, and I didn't want them spreading too much. For the classic peanut butter cookie look, press lightly on top with a fork.
  3.  Bake at 350F for 12-15 minutes.  I like them soft, so I took them out at the first hint of light-brown! Makes about 24 cookies.
That's it - really as simple as 1-2-3 - but so much more tasty!

*NOTE: I was out of brown sugar, so I measured out white sugar and then mixed a heaping teaspoon of molasses into it.  You just have to work it in with the back of a spoon, and eventually you'll get brown sugar!

(Original recipe from Starting out: An Essential Guide to Cooking on Your Own by Julie Van Rosendaal