Sunday, April 25, 2010

Treating myself to healthy eating

True confession time. I'm a horrible dieter. Just saying the word diet makes me gain 15 pounds. So I don't. If I allow myself to turn my focus to food, I become suddenly obsessed with where my next bite is coming from. I am far better off to just let myself focus on other things, and then it's fairly easy to maintain my weight and not worry about it as long as it's not out of control. The key, I've found, is to eat MORE healthy foods.

Lately I've been looking for good stuff to eat. Fortunately Lee can't get enough vegetables, so he is very supportive. And I discovered that if I offer enough ingredients, the kids can find plenty of things to try. Since they came home talking about Earth Day several days in advance, I decided to offer Earth Day Sundaes for dinner. I'll admit right up front that they were immediately looking for ice cream. But they really had fun adding their own toppings, even if they weren't hot fudge and caramel.

These salads are Lee's and mine. Guess which one belonged to whom??? I cracked up when Lee asked if I wasn't going to take a picture. I was sure thinking about it, but didn't want to drive my family crazy at the dinner table. He didn't have to ask twice!

On that particular day we had spinach, cucumbers, olives, bacon, chicken, tomato, black beans, green pepper, craisins, carrots, green onion, avocado and cheese. It was SO tasty. The best part is the leftovers on a wrap with hummus (YUM!!) or as a sandwich. The next day I added some hard boiled eggs. This is going to be a staple this summer, I promise.

So what magic ingredient would you add?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Oh, the possibilities!

We are having the earliest spring I can remember here on the tundra. It's been so refreshing! But still, we know that it's too soon to buy plants for the containers or garden without being concerned that they will freeze. So we have to go to the greenhouse for a little inspiration. I was so glad when my sister called today and asked if I wanted to go. Since we're smart enough to know we shouldn't buy these yet...

...they try to tempt us with these.

And these...

...and these and these and these.

In the end, my sister bought this...

Now I want one.

Monday, April 19, 2010

If I had a three year old... would have been the ultimate day for a color lesson!

P.S. The photos are mine, but alas, most of the flowers are my neighbor's.

Friday, April 16, 2010

My latest brush with fame

Today my inner school teacher is pinching herself. Do you have any idea who this woman is? In 1997 my second grade colleagues and I stood in line for a LONG time at a children's book store to have her sign her latest book for us, The Hat. That was nothing compared to today. A girl at Ben and Bethany's school won a contest on her website for her to come to our school. She spent the whole day giving presentations to kids in large and small groups. Each class got to have a Q&A session with her in the library, and then she did presentations in the gym where she showed them how she does her amazing illustrations. And as luck would have it I had to crash the party be know, in my official "yearbook photographer" role. *wink*

She showed the kids how to draw the main character in her recent book, The Easter Egg. All the while she was telling them what she thinks about, how she uses their eyes to show expression, how she incorporates her life experiences into the story. She was as delightful and engaging as her books are. Ben and Bethany remembered a LOT of what she said. I was so glad they could appreciate the experience as much as I did. OK, well at least a fraction as much as I did. I'm not gonna lie. I was giddy.

So do you know who she is???? You can check her out here!

Friday, April 9, 2010

I was just wondering...

...why the New Year doesn't come in spring. Almost everything beautiful does.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Family Passover Meal

Over recent years I have heard of a number of families and churches observing Holy Week through the tradition of the Jewish Passover meal, or seder (SAY-der).  This is the observance that commemorates God's faithfulness to Israel by providing protection and rescue from slavery in Egypt. It is an extremely powerful experience in that it appeals to all of our senses to help people of all ages grasp God's redemptive work on behalf of His people throughout history.

I researched the concept, and boiled down the wealth of information to some key elements that made it manageable for our family. The scripts we have used are found at these links:

Revised script (2012) (Preserves the content, but sets aside some of the structure to make a smoother flowing experience)

Jesus was observing the traditional Passover meal with his disciples in what we now call the Last Supper (Luke 22:7-30--the event we observe in Holy Week as "Maundy Thursday").  The transition from Old Covenant to New took place at the very time Jesus shared this meal with his disciples. No truths are more central to our faith than those demonstrated here.

One thing that intrigued me in my research was that each family or group geared the experience to the participants, and especially accommodated the ages and abilities (i.e. attention spans!) of the children. The script that I arrived at was somewhat challenging for my 8 and 10 year old, but it leaves room for increased understanding in the years ahead. They still thoroughly enjoyed it. They were excited about the idea from the beginning, and even more so when I involved them in the preparations. During the meal portion of the observance, where there is a break in the script for eating and talking together, we discussed what we had experienced so far, and the kids were digging back through the script to remember the details.

An internet search for “family passover meal” or “family seder meal” produced numerous results. I used the two below as resources for no particular reason other than the fact that they gave a lot of background (far beyond what I’ve included here) and complemented one another well in terms of offering very different possibilities that were at the same time consistent in upholding the tradition.

Now, a couple of years later, many more results are listed.  It is well worth reading through several versions to glean the wealth of background and meaning inherent in the traditional meal observance.  I especially enjoyed this script as I did a little further research to revise my own:

As a student of many of Beth Moore’s Bible studies, I am always captivated by her teaching on the Jewish feasts and traditions. She does a beautiful job of making the connections from the origins of the Old Testament practice to the fulfillment or illumination of it under the new covenant through Christ. In her study entitled Jesus the One and Only, she lays out the meanings behind the four cups in the Passover observance. It has stayed with me vividly from the time that I studied it probably eight or nine years ago. The most amazing part is that after the supper when Jesus took the cup, it was the third cup of the Passover meal, the cup known so well to the disciples as the cup of redemption. In the Old Testament promise associated with the third cup, God said to Israel, “I will redeem you with an outstretched arm.” (Exodus 6:6) At the very moment when Jesus took that third cup, he ushered in the new covenant saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.” (Luke 22:20) Later he prayed in the garden, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me.” (Luke 22:42) Beth Moore associates this with that cup of redemption, which was so costly for Christ to bear. And then on the cross, indeed, Christ redeemed all of mankind with his outstretched arms.

I kept our meal as simple as possible so that the joy would not be lost in the work. We dyed our Easter eggs a day or two ahead of time. Boiled eggs are a traditional part of the Passover meal, and help brighten the table. It is a festive celebration, and meant to be beautiful. Bethany made the lamb cake the night before from an angel food mix. She even remarked as she poured it out of the package how white it was. I reminded her of that while we ate, because the script had already referenced Jesus as the spotless lamb without blemish or defect. To make the lamb shape, we used a round cake pan and a loaf pan. We then trimmed the circle for the face, and made ears from the loaf, frosted and decorated with marshmallows. I served raspberries with it. 

The afternoon of the meal I bought a rotisserie chicken already prepared at the grocery store, and put it in a covered dish in the oven on low. I arranged all the greens on a plate, with a small bowl of salt water in the middle, and put the flatbread (also store bought) in a basket. I had the kids help me make the haroset. After setting the table, I made stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy from mixes and put them in the oven to stay warm.  I had plenty of greens on the plate to use as salad, so it was very quick and easy to get the meal on the table.

No project has ever touched my heart more deeply than putting this observance together for our family. The evidence throughout scripture of God's plans to continually show us his love and faithfulness takes my breath away. The experience of the meal had a beautiful impact on our family, and the very effort itself was a blessing to me.  It is my hope and prayer that others will be encouraged to participate in a meal like this, and experience God's presence in a profound way.

Family Passover Meal: The Script

Welcome to The Journey!  This post is now several years old.  I never dreamed at the time I put it together how many people would land here from all over the world every year as they make the effort to soak in the goodness of God's faithfulness in keeping his covenant relationship to his people.  To any Jewish reader coming here in the process of preparing for your Passover celebration, you will note that this particular celebration points to Jesus as the eternal fulfillment of God's covenant.  I want to acknowledge that a Christian script might not sit well with you if that's the case, and I hope you will read my response to someone in that situation in the comments, including the Jewish heritage in my own family.

The introduction and instructions for preparing this special meal are found here. This is the script to be provided for each family member.  (Updated:  A more condensed, hopefully smoother flowing version of the script is here.) God bless you as you make efforts toward deeper meaning and connection to him. I hope what I've done here can serve as some small help in that. 

Part One: Introductory Blessings

All gather around the table and stand quietly. The mother lights the candle.

All pray: Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the Universe. You have given us life, provided for our needs, and brought us to this season. Let your light shine on us in blessing and bring us peace.

All are seated.

Leader 1: As Jesus observed the traditional Jewish Passover meal with his disciples during the last week of his life, he brought the people of God from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. God had shown his concern for His people through all of history. Just as God sent Moses to rescue the Israelites from captivity in Egypt, he also lovingly sent His Son to redeem fallen man from slavery to sin. By sacrificing Himself, Christ brought reconciliation and freedom to all who believe in him. Tonight we will use passages from both the Old and New Testaments to help us more fully appreciate Jesus' celebration of the Passover with his disciples during his last meal with them.

All read: When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 22:14-16)

Part Two: Traditional Passover Blessing

Leader 2: The celebration of the Passover includes four cups of wine. The cups represent the four declarations of God’s promised deliverance to Egypt, each beginning with an “I will...” in Exodus 6:6-7.

The first cup of wine is poured.

Leader 1: The first cup is the cup of sanctification, referring to God’s promise to set his people apart from the Egyptians. God spoke to Israel:

All read: “I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.”

Leader 2: The first act of the Passover meal is this traditional Jewish prayer of blessing, known as the Kiddush.

All raise cups and pray: Blessed are you O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the vine. You have chosen us among all peoples and sanctified us to be used for your service.

All drink the first cup.

Leader 1: The next act of the Passover meal is the eating of the greens. They remind us that nature returns to life in the springtime. They are dipped in salt water to remind us of the tears of a people who were held captive in slavery.

All pray: Blessed are you O Lord our God, King of the Universe, Creator of the fruit of the earth.

All take a piece of green vegetable, dip in salt water and eat.

Leader 2: The third act of the Passover meal is the breaking of the matzah, or unleavened bread. (Holds up a piece of the Matzah and breaks it in half.) This is the bread of suffering, which the Jews ate in the land of Egypt. It reminds us of people everywhere today who are hungry and without freedom.

Part Three: The Questions (Haggadah)

Child 1: Why is this night different from all other nights?

Leader 1: When the Israelites were slaves in Egypt, God miraculously showed them the way to safety by parting the Red Sea. Just like God saved them from slavery, he also saved us from our sin. Jesus died, rose again, and joined his Father in heaven, showing us the way, and preparing a place for us. Jesus said,

All read: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

Child 2: Why do we eat bitter herbs tonight at this special meal?

Leader 1: The Jews ate bitter herbs on the Passover night because their fathers were slaves in Egypt and their lives were made bitter. As Christians, we taste the herbs to remember the pain of Jesus’s death.

Child 1: Why do we eat the bitter herbs, this time dipped in sweet apples?

Leader 2: We dip the bitter herbs into the sweet apples, or haroseth, as a sign of hope.  The haroseth represents the mortar that the Jews had to use to hold the bricks together when they were slaves.  But it is also sweet, because the bitterness of the Israelites’ slavery was sweetened by the hope of freedom. We who follow Jesus are reminded that by sharing in the bitterness of His sufferings, we strengthen our hope.

All read: We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (Romans 5:1-5)

All take a piece of parsely, dip it in the haroseth, and then eat.

Child 2: Why do we eat the eggs at Passover?

Leader 1: Like the greens, they are a reminder of the new life that arrives in spring.

Child 1: Why do we have the leg bone of the lamb at the table when we celebrate the Passover meal?

Leader 2: The lamb reminds us of the Passover lamb, which God commanded the Israelites to sacrifice to protect the lives of their families the night the angel of the Lord passed over them in Egypt. As Christians we speak of Christ as the perfect Lamb of God, sacrificed on the cross for us. By his death and resurrection, he makes it possible for us to have eternal life in heaven with God.

All read: For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. (1 Peter 1:18-21)

Child 2: Why do we eat Matzah at the Passover table?

Leader 1: The blessing and breaking of the bread is an important part of the meal. It reminds us of how the Hebrew people left Egypt in a hurry and did not have time to prepare for the trip. They had no time to bake their bread. They could not wait for the yeast to rise, so they made it without the yeast into a flat bread. The sharing of pieces from a common loaf of bread was a powerful symbol of the oneness of the community. Paul wrote about this to the early Christians:

All read: Is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf. (1 Corinthians 10:17)

The loaf is distributed.

All pray: Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.

Each person eats his or her portion.

Child 1: Why do we drink from the fruit of the vine?

Leader 2: The Jews drank from each cup of wine as an act of blessing and thanksgiving to God for his promises and acts of deliverance, much like we use wine to toast or celebrate someone’s special event or achievement.

A second cup of wine is poured.

Leader 1: The second cup is the cup of deliverance. God spoke to Israel,

All read: “I will free you from being slaves to them.”

All raise cups and pray: Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine. You have freed us from captivity to others, and also from captivity to our own sin.

All drink the second cup.

Part Four: Hallel—Psalms of Praise

Leader 2: In the Passover feast, before the meal is eaten, the first two psalms of the Hallel are recited. The Hallel is found in Psalms 113-118. These are the hymns of praise which the Jews recited at all of their great feasts.

All: Praise the Lord. O servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord! Let the name of the Lord be praised, both now and forevermore. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised. (Psalm 113:1-3)

The meal is eaten. When all have finished, the father takes and distributes another piece of unleavened bread.

Leader 1: During his last supper with the disciples, Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it and gave it to them saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19)

All eat the bread.

The third cup of wine is poured.

Leader 2: The third cup is the cup of redemption. God said,

All read: “I will redeem you with an outstretched arm.”

Leader 1: After Jesus and his disciples had finished their meal, Jesus took the third cup and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” (Luke 22:20)

All raise cups and pray: Blessed are you O Lord our God, King of the Universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine. As you redeemed the Israelites by leading them to the promised land, you also redeemed us by your outstretched arms on the cross, purchasing for us the promise of eternity with you in heaven.

All drink the third cup.

The fourth cup of wine is poured.

Leader 2: The fourth cup is the cup of ingathering. God said,

All read: “I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God.”

Leader 1: In the book of Revelation, John has a dreamlike vision of the scene in heaven after Jesus had returned from his mission on earth. John sees Jesus as a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne. The heavenly beings sang this new song to him: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God.” (Revelation 5:9-10)

All raise the cup and pray: Blessed are you O Lord our God, King of the Universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine. As you gathered the tribes of Israel to yourself and marked them as your own people, now through Christ you have made us your own, along with people from every nation on earth who place their faith in you. Strengthen us to serve you joyfully in gathering more people, both near and far, to know you.

All drink the last cup.

Part Five: The Concluding Hallel

Leader 2: Matthew’s gospel tells us that Jesus and his disciples followed the Jewish tradition to the very end, concluding as we will tonight by singing the final Hallel.

All read: When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. (Matthew 26:30)

There’s No One Like Our God (words adapted from Psalm 113:4-9)
(sung along to song performed by Cole NeSmith, available on iTunes)

There’s no one like our God, no one at all
He gave His Son for us, Jesus the Lord
Who can love us like He does, no one at all
Oh how we love you Lord

You are high above all nations
Your glory shines above the heavens
Humbled yourself to love and save us
Be praised through endless generations


You lift the needy from the ashes
And seat them high up with the princes
You give the barren woman healing
She’ll dance for joy like the mother of children


Oh how we love you Lord!
Oh how we love you Lord!
Oh how we love you Lord!
Oh how we love you Lord!