Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Just don't try to eat it

My sister decided to give Norwex a try when she moved here and she's been selling it ever since.  When your sister sells the stuff you find yourself trying new things that you wouldn't have otherwise chosen to purchase.  One spray of their carpet stain buster and I knew I wanted it.  My hubby (the thriftier of the two of us) saw how well it worked and implored me to order some.  It came a week or two ago and I'm giving it a whirl.  These stains, which have been here for over ten years, came up in a matter of seconds.  I had to take pictures to prove the awesomeness of this stuff.

The before shot...
 The in-between-cleaning shot...
 The after shot...
 How about this nasty stain?
 Yep, it can handle it!

The yellow stain in the above picture is a paint stain and will not come out with this stuff.  But all protein-based stains (most stains) come out.  The best part is that it's all enzyme-based, so it's not bad for the kids, pets, hamsters, fish, or Grandma. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

But please stay home for a few more years

Somehow the kids and I got talking about university this morning. It's fun to see how kids' minds work:
Boy 1: And can we come back and visit sometime?
Me: Yep. Come people go to university and stay on campus and some people stay at home to save some money, because it costs more to live at the school.
Girl: And can we go outside and play with our friends whenever we want?
Me: You sure can. You'll be an adult by then so you'll be responsible for making those kinds of decisions.
Boy 2: Will we sleep in a sleeping bag?
Me: Well, you'll probably have your own sheets and blankets and make up your own bed.
Girl: Will there be bunk beds??!!??!!??
Me: Some places might have bunk beds

It was at this point that kids stopped asking questions, eyes bugged out, imagining such a fabulous place that might have bunk beds.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Judge not, lest ye be judged

You know those statuses on Facebook where someone says, "Today is Whatever Cause It Is Day and you should change your status to say that you support this cause by reposting this to your Facebook page or a worm will eat your big toe and your goldfish will die"?

It was this kind of Facebook post that started this thinking in my head today. A friend told me about a conversation he had on someone's Facebook wall. The lady posted one of these “Proud to be ______ . Please repost” messages encouraging people to promote the love and acceptance of homosexuals. My friend, a God-fearing Bible-believer, felt called to write a comment on the message saying that God loves and accepts everyone, homosexuals included, even if He does tell us in the Bible that being gay is a sin. This comment set off a bit of a back and forth between my friend and a few others, the end result being that my friend was told that his opinion is welcome as long as it doesn't have to do with something he read from the Bible.

(Let me insert here that I know there are some people that read and interpret the Bible differently.  This post is not about that.  This post is directed at those who read and interpret the Bible to say that homosexuality is a sin.  If you would like to discuss the hermeneutics of homosexuality, we can do that.  But I'm not doing it in this post.)

Since I heard about this, I've thought a bit about tolerance, sin, the Bible, and where Christians fit into all of this. As Christians we are to let our light shine so that the world can see Jesus through us. The world asks us to accept and tolerate people who are different from us, however that might look. I wondered how being like Jesus fits into all that. So first, since I like words, I looked a up couple.

Tolerate - Allow the existence, occurrence, or practice of (something that one does not necessarily like or agree with) without interference.

Accept - Receive as adequate, valid, or suitable.

First we're asked to tolerate opinions that we disagree with. I can do that. I can let someone think differently than me. I'm pretty sure Jesus put up with people thinking differently than he. If God wanted us to be drones that all thought the same, we would be. But where's the fun in that? I can tolerate dissenting opinions. I will not interfere with someone thinking differently than I.

But then we're asked to accept, or receive as adequate, valid or suitable. Does that mean I accept an action or practice which I believe to be a sin according to the Bible. Is that something that God wants me to do? Should I just be quiet and let people think I'm okay with something when I'm not? I don't think that's fair, in any situation.

Some Christians turn their lack of acceptance into a personal crusade, targeting those who campaign for acceptance, and spreading messages of hate. I wish those people would look at themselves and see what they are doing. They are acting as judge where they shouldn't, and declaring themselves to be God's voice in messages that go against what the Bible says. And these are the people that have made it so difficult for the rest of us to have normal, level-headed, conversations of God's love and acceptance.

Because God does accept. He doesn't accept the sin, but he definitely accepts the person. Accepting an action and accepting a person are two different things. I will not accept an action that I think is wrong and neither will God. But, I can most certainly accept a person as a created child of God. The decisions another person makes really are between that person and God. They are not ultimately accountable to me but to God. They will have a chance to stand before Him and take credit and blame for all the decisions they made in their life. More importantly for me, I will have to stand before my Creator and my Judge and take credit and blame for everything I've done. I want to be able to tell my God that I'm spreading a message of love, not one of hate.

I know that I will have quite a few other Christian friends reading this and I want to ask them right now what they would do if someone that they knew was gay walked into their church.

Would you welcome them and expect that this is the beginning of change in their sexual orientation? Would you bring them in and tell them right away that being gay is a sin? Would you invite them to sit next to you while hoping they are listening to the words being read about the sinner changing his ways?

Would you realize that your sin of pride and judgment is just as bad as any sin they are guilty of? Would you hope that God looks past your self-righteous behaviour on the day of judgment? Would you even admit your self-righteous behaviour?

The thing is, we are all sinners. Some of us see things a little differently, but we are all sinners. The difference is whether we have Jesus as our Saviour or not. The difference is whether we care enough to accept a person that God has put into our lives, someone that likely needs a little extra love because they are hearing messages of hate and rejection. That's the way Jesus lived his life and the way he ran his ministry, and it's definitely the example we need to follow. If you sit in a church every week, please take this as a challenge to find a way to be Jesus to someone who really needs him.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Wanda's Famous (and not so secret) Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've spent the last few years perfecting my chocolate chip cookies recipe. I'll let you in on a little secret though. The recipe hasn't changed. I've handed this recipe out to many people and (I want to say this without sounding boastful) few can replicate the cookies that I serve. I'd like to tell you that the secret is “love”... But it's not. The method of mixing and brand of ingredients makes a big difference. So if you want my recipe, you'll need to pull up a chair and sit a while. It's more than a list of ingredients and a cooking time.

(You'd better pay attention.  There won't be a quiz afterwards, but there won't be a traditional recipe either.)

You'll need to preheat your oven to 350 F when you're ready to start.  Don't do it now though, you need to read the process before you're ready to get going.  We start with ½ cup of Becel margarine in a medium bowl. If you just can't afford Becel (or can't buy it because you live in the States), you are allowed to use “Can't Believe it's Not Butter”. Please don't use other brands. And I love butter but you can't male these cookies with butter. They melt down into a flat pancake with butter.

Add ½ cup of packed, dark brown sugar. Please don't use light brown sugar. It just doesn't have the same depth of taste as dark brown sugar. With a fork, lightly mix the sugar and margarine, just until they're coming together. You can't over mix. Something bad happens when the sugar and butter spend too much time swirling around each other. It's like boys and girls in the pool at Camp Omagh... We need to be really careful how much contact they have.

So when your margarine and sugar are just combined, add 1 egg, 1 teaspoon of real vanilla (if you use artificial, I will notice and it won't taste as good) and ½ teaspoon of salt. Mix until just combined. Again with the swirling. Too much swirling is not good.

Put in 1 cup of all-purpose flour and throw in ½ teaspoon baking soda. Make sure it's fresh and hasn't been sitting around for a while. Stir until you start to see the batter mixing with the flour. Don't mix it all the way though!!

This is when you put in the fixin's. Start with ¾ cup of Chipits chocolate chips. (1 cup if you're just putting in chocolate chips.) I've tried a few varieties and these really are the best. If you must use a different kind, go ahead. But do so at your own risk. You can add in whatever combination you'd like at this point. I also like to add 1 ½ cups quick oats. It's entirely up to you, but they're much better with the oats!

At this point you can make the cookie your own. These are my current combinations:
Almond Cherry - ½ cup almonds, ½ cup dried cherries
Toffee Pecan - ½ cup Skor toffee bits, ½ cup pecan pieces
Peanut M&M - ½ cup chopped peanuts, ½ cups M&Ms

Stir just until everything has come together.  You want it to hold nicely together but it won't want to if you beat it into submission.  Spoon large spoonfuls, about 1 ½ to 2 tbsp onto a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper.  (Parchment paper can be reused and helps cookies cool and come off the pan in their own time.)  Bake 10-14 minutes.  (Smaller cookies can bake 8-10 minutes.)  They are done when they still look a little under-done in the middle but the outer edge is starting to brown.  Take them out and let them cool on the parchment paper for about 15 minutes before moving them.

Pour a glass of milk, grab a cookie or two, and enjoy a job well done.

So...  What would you put in your cookie?