Homemade raspberry jam

Our house smells very homestead tonight. I made raspberry jam, bread, and banana bread. Plus, there’s wood smoke from the wildfires.

It’s also rather hot. The smoke from the wildfires is very bad, reducing visibility to less than 1 mile at times. We couldn’t open the windows because of the smoke. The world’s largest fire fighting plane, the Evergreen Supertanker, was brought in to help fight our huge fires. The Railbelt Fire Complex including the Minto Flats South fire is over 340,720 acres. The weather offers little relief or significant rain in the near future.

We picked raspberries over the weekend. Tonight we made them into jam. After smashing them, I found we were 1/4 cup short. Jam must be exact or it doesn’t turn out right. Luckily there were a few more on the bushes by the driveway. Just enough. We made 1 batch of jam which is 4 full and another 3/4 jar. Mmmm. I also made a loaf of bread but it turned out a brick instead for some reason.

Then there’s the bananas. I bought a big bag of ripe bananas Monday. Tonight I make 2 loaves of banana bread. With the ones we’ve eaten, about 1/3 of the bag is left. I may make more bread tomorrow.

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Revelation comments

This morning I finished reading the final book in the New Testament, Revelation. My dad always made me promise never to read Revelation at night. He was afraid it would give me nightmares. So, I’ve never read it at all until today.

Revelation is different from other books of the Bible. They don’t tell a history. It’s not a human story. John is given a vision of end times and it isn’t pretty. It’s filled with strange creatures, monsters, plagues, and general havoc. It is scary, as it’s meant to be; especially if you’re not a Christian. If you’re still not convinced to be a Christian after reading the other books of the Bible, perhaps Revelation will scare some into belief.

It is the story of the end of the world. The world will not just end in random chaos. It will be chaotic for humans at the time, but there will be an order in which things will happen as told in Revelation.

Revelation is full of symbolism and allegory. I had trouble understand that part of it. Some scholars believe they know what much of the symbolism means. I’ll leave it to them.

Still other parts of are more direct. For instance the description of earthquakes. Revelation is also where we learn about the gates of pearl and streets of gold in heaven.

There are direct commands for all Christians. We are told to be watchful for His return.

Some Christians say works doesn’t matter. That the Lord looks upon the heart.He does. However, in the end as revealed by Revelation, works and being judged by your works is an ongoing theme in my King James Version. Jesus concludes each message to the 7 churches with a word about their works.

Jesus tells of his return and relates it to how we dress, Revelation 16:15

Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.

Now there may be symbolism in this. I’ve heard this verse before but never with the last part. Garmets of white as relating to righteousness are mentioned in a few places. However, it could be as simple and plain as a warning against unmodest dress in end times. Every year the fashions get more and more skimpy, tight, and otherwise revealing. God gave Adam and Eve clothes in Genesis to hide their nakedness and shame. I believe this verse is a refrence and reminder of the original purpose of clothing. It was to cover our bodies. We in modern times have changed it to display our bodies. (Surprisingly, many pro-modesty Biblical arguments don’t mention the Revelation verse.)

Overall, I wouldn’t say Revelation is among my favorite Bible books. I’m glad I’ve read it though. I do agree with my dad about reading it before bed giving nightmares. However, there’s also comfort in it for believers. It tells what terrible fates we are saved from. No wonder many Christians call becoming a Christian “being saved”.

A great quote

I went to church with my friends on the way back from Kodiak. Her husband is one of the ministers. He had a great quote I just have to share. It’s by Charles Spurgeon. Unfortunately, I don’t know the specifics of where it comes from.

“We fear not God because of any compulsion; our faith is no fetter, our profession is no bondage, we are not dragged to holiness nor driven to duty. No, our piety is our pleasure, our hope is our happiness, our duty is our delight.”

Getting ready

It’s decided. We will begin our school year on Monday, August 10. This is a week before the public schools begin in Fairbanks. Tonight I announced our start date to my family. They took it well, but there’s still a lot to get done to be ready.

First there’s the house. Karen will be doing kindergarten and needs a desk. We have one in the basement that needs to be cleaned out and brought upstairs. Richard’s desk needs to be cleaned out of papers from last year then this year’s books put in. We also need to clean house thoroughly so I only need to do spot cleaning the first few weeks. My son got me a sandstone plaque that reads, “God blesses this kitchen but He doesn’t clean it”. 😆

Next is lesson preparation. I need to look through the teacher guides for the first few weeks to be sure I have all the needed supplies. I need to sort out which books we will need first and get them in order. I just realized that I forgot to order the lesson planner I use to record their work. I also need to finalize our science order. I am submitting the history and math orders tomorrow. Math-U-See ships fairly fast and we still have some history to finish from this year. I am still debating what to do for history readers. I wasn’t totally thrilled with the WinterPromise selection. I may use the ones from Sonlight’s Core 4 instead. Plus, Sonlight lets you either order the entire package or just the ones you want which would be great since we already have a few.

Karen needs her physical to finish her enrollment paperwork for pre-K. That will allow us a $200 allotment for her. I plan to use some of it for her math.

We all need to get into a fall sleep routine. Right now we are staying up later and sleeping in. Tonight we started bedtime at the usual fall time but are allowing the kids to read quietly in bed for awhile. No use frustrating everyone expecting them to sleep an hour and a half earlier in one night. Each night the reading time will get less and getting up earlier the next morning by the same amount.

Then there’s shopping. We need our monthly groceries plus we’re running low on some big staples like peanut butter, rice and beans. The garden is starting to be harvested and I need supplies to put this up for the winter. The kids need winter clothes, especially Richard. He likes the Wrangler shirts from WalMart. Karen needs sweat shirts and leggings which they only have for a limited time. I need material (and time) to make her some warm dresses.

Speaking of warm, we need to get the fire wood ready. Right now the trees are down and cut into lengths but still need to be split and stacked. However, that doesn’t necessarily need to be done before starting school since we have enough all ready for a month or so.

Whew! That’s quite a to-do list.Thankfully, it can be done in bits instead of all at once. When it’s done, we’ll be on a good start for our new school year.

Fitness update 2009 #13

My weight is stuck again. It’s gone up a couple pounds this month to 155. I know there is a smaller me in there. I just need to unpack the insulation to get to her. Not just physical insulation but emotional and spiritual as well. These things that are keeping me cheating on healthy eating. The things that get in the way of my workouts.

Unfortunately, I’m 5 pounds above goal weight this month. Tomorrow starts the weigh in week. Ugh. Another likely missed month. I did tackle one excuse tonight. I bought myself a new workout bra and shorts. My old ones are now too big. That’s good motivation. I’ve been putting off exercising because it was just too uncomfortable. Cross that excuse off the list. Properly fitting, comfortable clothes when exercising is really important.

I wanted a new shirt as well but the selection was lousy. I was lucky to find the shorts. Perhaps I’m too picky, but the ones that were left were either too skimpy, uncomfortable, or not my size. You don’t need to compromise modesty just to exercise. The shorts I bought fall at the bottom of my knee. They are a little tight but comfy and since I’m (hopefully) going to keep loosing weight, they will loosen as I shrink. So now I can exercise comfortably again. Perhaps I’ll get a new workout shirt as a reward for the end of August if I meet my goal then.

There is over 250,000 acres forest fire within 50 miles of me. The past few days have been really smoky at times. This afternoon a light ash was falling. Not very conducive for exercising outside, especially since I’m allergic to the smoke. The gym closest to me is always stuffy. That’s not too bad in the winter, but when I was there a few weeks ago, it was blah. Add those to the list of excuses.

What else? Eating healthy but sneaking junk. Got bad cramps and chocolate helps that but not my weight. Catch 22. Need to lose more weight to ease cramps longterm but eating chocolate helps short term, especially since I can’t go for a long walk due to the smoke.

Our garden is starting to be ready for harvesting. That should help with the healthy eating. Tonight’s dinner was chicken, mashed sweet potatoes, fresh garden greens, cucumber salad with fresh cucumber and tomatoes.

The pool at the gym has been closed for maintenance this month. I think it re-opened this week but I have been too busy to go over there.

My husband has been laid up with a squashed disk in his neck. That means I’m doing a lot more of the work for our apartments on top of what I do already and all the house chores. By the time I’m done, it’s bedtime and I’m tired.

Hopefully writing this and acknowledging my excuses will help me see them for what they are, excuses. I need to quit making excuses and just do it. Easier said than done I know. Still, excuses won’t make the scale go down. Only getting rid of the excuses and back to exercising and healthy eating again will.

Superstition

There are many different forms of superstitions. They may be called old wives tales or urban legends. Some are child’s games. Others are more sinister. They a belief that certain events may influence other unrelated events or actions. It is not a cause and effect. Superstitions usually involve supernatural, mystical powers. The dictionary defines superstition as an irrational belief arising from ignorance or fear.

The recent full solar eclipse in India and Asia is a prime example. Days in advance, press releases were given that evil would result from the eclipse. Women even changed their cesarean elective delivery dates so their babies wouldn’t be born on that day. Still others went to rivers for holy cleansing to ward off evil effects from the eclipse. Of course no evil came. The world didn’t end. No wars started or natural disasters happened.

While we can look on the belief a eclipse could cause in itself havoc and chaos as silly, there are other more subtle forms of superstition that have crept into aspects of American culture. Just about every newspaper prints horoscopes. While most people see this as harmless fun, the Bible deals with it just like any other superstition.

Dueteronomy 18:9-11 told the Israelites when traveling in foreign lands

When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations.

There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch.

Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.

All forms of astrology and New Age practices including Tarot cards, horoscopes, oiji boards, and even fortune cookies fall under this admonition. Often these are consulted when a person is afraid, unsure, or curious of the future. Instead we are to trust and commit our days and future to the Lord. Psalm 37:4-5

Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.

We are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:22 to abstain from all appearance of evil. This is a very direct command. This doesn’t just mean avoid the obviously evil, but even questionable actions, activities, or things. When in doubt, don’t. It doesn’t say it’s ok if it’s for fun or socially acceptable.

Often evil creeps into the church under the guise as culturally appropriate or fun behavior. Christians should stand up and resist this. We need to trust the Lord to provide for our future, not be given to superstition. We need to teach our children and youth to avoid such things.

Our Un-vacation

I’m back. Well, our vacation was almost nothing but problems. I drove to Homer with the kids then took the ferry to Kodiak as planned while my husband flew down the next day. We had arranged with the airline to ship our new small outboard engine as checked baggage for a fee. Unfortunately, after getting all checked in the pilot decided he didn’t want to take it. That meant the motor stayed in Fairbanks. Now we didn’t have a motor for the dinghy. That’s not a big deal but it was also to be a backup in case the inboard engine, which is being flaky, decided to quit.

I decided to break the drive to Homer into 2 days. We stayed with friends Saturday night in Wasilla and went to church with them in the morning. I was a bit concerned about road construction so decided not to stay for lunch together. Turned out I shouldn’t have worried. Oh well, the way this trip went if I hadn’t it probably would have been bad delays and we’d miss the ferry. Anyway, we got to Homer about 630pm, checked in at the ferry office then had dinner. The ferry trip was nice and calm. We didn’t have a cabin and spent the night on the floor of the observation lounge along with about a dozen others (it’s cheaper that way).

My husband had a sore back for a few days before we left. We just assumed it was muscle soreness from doing too much getting all the projects done before we left. It was still hurting him a lot when he got to Kodiak so he went to the doctor and they gave him muscle relaxers. He was pretty miserable the first few days, so we didn’t go anywhere.

Fog rolled in Thursday night. By Friday morning it was drizzling. We went out for breakfast and decided I should take the ferry that afternoon and drive home with the kids. Ray went back to the doctor, who ordered x-rays this time. I boarded the ferry before the doctor had the results. The plan was Ray would go to the doctor after dropping us at the ferry then catch the flight out in the morning.

Again we slept on the ferry lounge floor. Karen left her coat in the Homer ferry office but luckily we soon realized it was missing and went back for it. We stayed with friends in Wasilla Saturday night. Thankfully they didn’t mind my short notice. I called Fairbanks and got no answer so I assumed Ray was either in route or asleep. We went to church with them Sunday morning and had lunch together, so, it was about 2 when I started driving up to Fairbanks. We had a nice drive. It rained lightly off and on.

I got home to Fairbanks about 930pm. Ray explained he only got to Fairbanks a few hours before me. It was very foggy in Kodiak the Saturday morning. The fog stayed all day. No flights in or out until the next day. We don’t have a cell phone so I didn’t know for sure where he was. The doctor said he has a squished disk in his lower neck and is referring him to a spine clinic.

So, our vacation was very stressful, not the relaxing time we were hoping for. Luckily, the airline let me change my flight until September. Hopefully, that will be more fun then. Now I’m back working. Ray’s staying home answering the phone and resting, which is helping. Richard is going to visit his Aunties for a week starting tomorrow. I just unpacked his bag, washed the clothes, then packed it again. 🙂