Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Mmmm Chocolate

The kids and I just finished this book.  We really liked it, but I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea – or hot chocolate as the case may be.  It is very whimsical.  You definitely have to practice suspension of disbelief while you’re reading it.  I tend to agree with “A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men,” a philosophy from the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  The book does record a few exchanges of harsh words between characters.  The kids and I used this as an opportunity to remind each other to season our words with kindness.  Sorry kids, I’d like to tell you that one day you won’t need to be reminded to bath your speech in gentleness, but that has not been my experience.  We are all a work in progress. 

One paragraph particularly stuck out to me.  It’s in the last chapter when Mr. Wonka tells Charlie and Grandpa Joe that He wants to give the entire chocolate factory to little Charlie. 
“Listen,” Mr. Wonka said, “I’m an old man.  I’m much older than you think.  I can’t go on forever.  I’ve got no children of my own, no family at all.  So who is going to run the factory when I get too old to do it myself?  Someone’s got to keep it going – if only for the sake of the Oomp-Loompas.  Mind you, there are thousands of clever men who would give anything for the chance to come in and take it over from me, but I don’t want that sort of person.  I don’t want a grown-up person at all.  A grownup won’t listen to me; he won’t learn.  He will try to do things his own way and not mine.  So I have to have a child.  I want a good sensible loving child, one to whom I can tell all my most precious candy-making secrets - while I am still alive.” 
I’ve often meditated on Matthew 18:3 “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”  I’ve often asked God what He means here.  A little child is dependent.  They unabashedly rely on their parents for sustenance, shelter, stimulation, and comfort.  A little child has unbridled faith.  They have not learned the logical limitations that rule the adult world.  A child believes that a mountain can be uprooted and thrown into the sea, but we adults struggle with this idea.  Through Roald Dahl’s words I see a new aspect of coming to God as a little child.  Adults have their own way of doing things.  Children listen and watch.  They learn by mimicking their parents. 

Lord, thank you that unlike Mr. Wonka you do go on forever.  I want to know your most precious secrets – candy making or otherwise.  Please tell them to me.  I want to listen to you and learn your ways.  Forgive me when I do things my own way instead of yours.  Be my patient teacher.  To you be the glory. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Craft Tutorial: Upcycled Candles

I just love candles, but there's something unlovely about candles.  The wick often burns away before all the wax is gone.  What do you do with all the leftover wax?  Here's what you do: you make a new candle!

Collection can
Old saucepan
Taper candle
Candle wax
Candle mold or a paperboard milk container

1) Collect the wax to upcycle.  Old candles and wax melters are great sources.  I keep a coffee can around that I collect the spent Scentsy melts for later use.

2) Find the candle mold and taper.  The taper candle (long thin candle) will go down the center of your upcycled candle as the new wick.  I purchased the mold at a craft store.  You can also use a paperboard half gallon container, like the ones that hold almond milk.

 3) Pour a couple of inches of water into the old saucepan.  Put the collection can with wax in it into the saucepan.  Slowly heat on low.  My burner is set on 2.  This will take 30 - 60 min depending on how much wax is in the can.  Don't get impatient.  If you heat it too quickly you run the risk of getting to the wax's flash point and creating a fire.  Keep a close eye on the wax as you heat it.  Safety first!

4) Once the wax is melted, carefully pour it into the mold.  Try not to make it splash the sides of the container. 

5) After the wax has cooled slightly but not solidified, put the taper into the center of the mold.  Allow the wax to solidify.

6) Continue this process until the taper is covered with layers of wax.  You might need several weeks to collect a sufficient amount of wax.

 7)  Once the wax has cooled, it is normal for the surface to dip towards the center of the candle.  When your candle is almost done, add one more thin layer of wax to make the top flat.

 8)  To remove the candle from the mold, put the cooled candle into a bath of warm water.  The metal mold will expand faster than the candle.  Remove the mold and candle from the water.  Dry off the outside of the mold.  Turn it upside down, and shake the candle out of the mold.  

9) Enjoy your upcycled candle!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Movie Night: Star Wars

Movie night is usually a Toby and Rebekah event, but this past week Greg joined us for a “Rite of Passage” experience.  The three of us watched Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope.  He got to stay up late and eat popcorn.  Greg (8 year old) did fine with this movie, no nightmares or weird behavior afterward.  We did ask him to close his eyes during the scene that shows the charred remains of Luke Skywalker’s Aunt and Uncle.  A great time was had by all! 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Even Jesus Has Scars

Do you have any scars?  Sure you do!  I bet you’ve got an interesting story to tell about how you got each and every one of those scars.  I’ve got a scar on my right knee with its own story.  When I was four years old we lived in the town of Liberal for about nine months.  It was tough on my Mom, a city girl from the East coast.  Natives of Liberal, Kansas, will tell you that their fair city may not be the edge of the world but you can see it from Main Street.  Mom bemoaned the constant dust.  I think it was even more difficult to leave her supportive network of family and friends to move to the edge of the world.  She befriended a neighbor who had two children just a little older than me.  During our short stay in Liberal, Mom’s sweet friend needed surgery.  When she came home from the hospital, my mother dragged myself and my two brothers to the neighbor’s house for a cheerful visit.  I can’t remember if I was kicking and screaming but I didn’t go willingly.  When God fashioned me He didn’t have a doctor or nurse in mind.  The entire concept of surgery, with the cutting and the bleeding, freaked me out.  It still does.  Mom eventually relented and allowed me to return to our house.  I ran so fast that my feet outran my body and I fell on the rough sidewalk.  Thirty-two years later I still wear the scar.   The wound has healed but a scar remains. 

Did you know that when Jesus appeared to the disciples one week after His resurrection, He had scars?  John 20:27 (NIV) tells us ‘Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands.  Reach out your hand and put it into my side.  Stop doubting and believe.”’  Now the Bible doesn’t explicitly use the word ‘scar’ but we get the idea of a mark left by a wound.  We all have scars. 

Some wounds cut so deep it takes a long time to heal.  Some scars can’t be seen on the skin.  Some scars lie in our hearts and minds; the rough remnant of an old wound.  Some things you just never get over.  The empty space left by the loss of a loved one.  The empty arms left by a stillborn baby.  The lost expectations left by a tragic accident or lingering illness.  No amount of therapy or prayer or compassion seems to completely remove the scar.  These rough spots lie within us as latent reminders that something is seriously wrong with this place.  You and I both know it. 

In Ecclesiastes 3:11, King Solomon observed that God has put eternity in the human heart.  We have some instinctive knowledge of what life should be and we know that reality doesn’t live up to our utopian longings.  According to Milton we live in a paradise lost.  We have a word for this brokenness, evil.  There is evil in the world; things that God never intended for us to experience.  This evil embodies the natural consequences of sin, echoing its brokenness through our hearts, minds, bodies, and relationships.  It’s so wrong, it’s so broken, and it just can’t be saved.  But I do find hope for my scars.  It’s found in Revelation 21-22.  In these chapters I read about Jesus, my Devine Champion, making everything new - even me.  He promises to wipe every tear from my eyes.  He promises a new order of life without death, mourning, crying, or pain.  A garden with a tree covered in leaves that possess healing powers.  I want to go there, don’t you? 

My Devine Champion is so faithful to His promises that the apostle Paul considered it as good as done.  You can read his words to the early Christians about God making us a new creation in 2 Corinthians 5:17 and Philippians 1:6.  My mind always wonders: if God is doing the good work in me, making me new, then what is my part in the work?  What is my responsibility?  Jesus’ teaching in John 15 answers my question.  I am to remain in Him.  He invites me to follow Him, mimicking His attitudes and actions as a young child follows their parents.  I am to receive His word, cultivating His truths within me as a gardener grows tomatoes in his garden.  I am to offer to others the same love and forgiveness that He has already given to me.  Expectantly waiting for the fullness of time, when everything including me will be completely made new. 

Revelation 21:5 ESV ‘And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”’

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Movie Night: Pacific Rim

Toby and I are big fans of the creature feature movie genre.  We love films with giant monsters and equally absurd plots.  Last week I checked out Pacific Rim at the public library for our weekly movie night.  We loved it!  It does have some profanity, but it doesn’t have a lot of gore or nudity.  The special effects are pretty decent too.  It’s rated PG-13, so Greg and Phoenix won’t be seeing it anytime soon.