Saturday, April 18, 2015

Oaks of Righteousness

Very early on Good Friday, an impressive storm blew through the Wichita area.  It flicked off the lights in our neighborhood for several hours.  Other homes in the area lost power for a few days.  It snapped rows of electrical poles, causing the lines to trail in the streets.  This storm also blew over a couple of tress.  When the kids and I examined these trees, we noticed they had very little roots.  Their trunks were tall and supported many branches, but their roots were small.  A little research quickly revealed root damage is a common cause of tree loss during a storm.1  All this tree imagery reminds me of something from my Bible.

In Luke 4:17-21 (NIV), Jesus goes to the temple of His home town, Nazareth.  He read a passage from Isaiah, telling His listeners that He is currently fulfilling the prophecy. 
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 
Wow, what a precise statement of Christ’s ministry before the cross!  If you flip back to Isaiah 61 where our Master read, you can read the remainder of verse 2 and 3.  These verses describe the redemptive work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the believer who repents of his (or her) sin and seeks to follow after Him.2  Notice how we are described at the end of verse 3, “They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”  What a vision for our lives!  We distinctively display His righteousness (not our own) and in doing so reveal His splendor to all who pass by us. 

Oak trees have distinctive root systems.  Many people are familiar with the oak tree’s tap root.  It develops early in the sapling’s life to provide necessary water.  I liken the oak tree’s tap root to our personal connection with our Lord and Savior.  He is our Rock and Foundation.  Our source of strength when it seems like nothing is going our way.  Once we taste the living water, we desire more of Him just like an oak tree needs a continual supply of fresh water.  Often, I am so enthralled by the reality of fellowship with the Divine Creator that other people tend to fall into the background.  But the oak tree has more roots than just the tap root. 

Within the top 6-18 inches of soil, an oak tree sends out a vast network of roots that stretch horizontally.  This expanse of roots reaches 4-7 times the width of the crown of the tree.  I visualized the roots to look like an inverted version of the tree hanging underground with most of the roots traveling downward, but this simply isn’t true.  The tree develops a wide network of roots stretching laterally, like a wine glass (tree) resting on a plate (underground roots).3 In some tree varieties, including oak trees, these roots intertwine with the roots of other trees.  They can even grow together through a process called grafting.  Imagine the roots of the trees like people shaking or clasping hands.  Through grafted roots, the individual trees can pass nutrients to each other.4

God doesn’t call us to a purely vertical relationship with Himself.  Peppered throughout Old Testament Law and the teachings of Jesus is the idea that love for God overflows into a love for other people (Matthew 22:37, Deuteronomy 6:5, Leviticus 19:9-18).  The Apostles urge us to become part of a community of believers, not to exist as an individual tree standing against the storms of life alone (Hebrews 10:25, Galatians 6:2, Acts 2:42-43).  One tree sends nourishing sugars to another through their grafted roots.  We find this in the community of believers also.  Need an ounce of faith?  I might have some to spare.  If I’m low on joy, someone else may have an abundance to share with me.  Ultimately these spiritual nutrients come from God, but we can cultivate them and then share the abundance with each other. 

Let’s make this practical.  Trees can only exchange nutrients if they are connected.  I invite you to comment with specific ways that you connect with other believers in the body of Christ. 

Works Cited
1. Nix, Steve.  “Tree Storm Damage – Dealing with Stem and Limb Breakage.”  About Education. Web.  18 April, 2015.
2. Pfeiffer, Charles F. and Everett F. Harrison. The Wycliffe Bible Commentary.  Chicago: Moody Press, 1977.  P. 651.
3. Randall, Jesse.  “Roots In Depth.”  ISU Forestry Extension.  Iowa State University, 11 January, 2012.  Web. 18 April, 2015.
4. Waller, Sarah.  “Scientists Peek Into the Hidden World of Tree Roots.”  KUOW News and Information, May 30, 2013.  Web.  18 April, 2015.

Monday, April 13, 2015

DIY Baked Crab Rangoon

I love Crab Rangoon, but my waistline would benefit from eating them baked instead of fried.  I'm perfecting my recipe.  Want to cook along with me at home and add your suggestions?

1) Gather the ingredients: 12 ounces of cream cheese (that's 1.5 packages), 10 oz of Flake Imitation Krab, 1 small onion or 3 green onions, 1 tablespoon of liquid aminos or soy sauce, 1 package (about 48) won ton wraps.

2) Mince the onion (or slice the green onions).  Microwave the onion and cream cheese in a bowl for about 1 min.  This softens both the cream cheese and the onion. 

3) Add the Krab and liquid aminos (or soy sauce) to the bowl and stir well.  Yay!  You've made the filling.

4) Now it's time to assemble the Rangoons.  Take a won ton wrap and dip two adjacent sides about 1/4 inch into water.  This will help the edges to stick together later when you seal it shut in step 6. 

5) Put about a tablespoon of the filling mixture into the center of the won ton wrap.

6) Fold the wrap in half creating a triangle.  Press the two open edges of the triangle together.  

7) Lay your Rangoons on a greased baking sheet.  I sprayed the round pizza pan with olive oil cooking spray.  I spread a little bit of liquid olive oil in the bottom of the two rectangular pans.  At this point, you can pop them in the oven, or store them in the fridge for a couple of hours.  You could do all the prep work in the morning and then bake them right before supper. 

8) Bake in a 425 degree oven for 10 min.  Then gently turn the Rangoons.  Bake for another 5-10 minutes to desired golden brown color.

9) Enjoy!  We like to dip them in a little sweet and sour sauce.


This recipe makes about 48 Crab Rangoons.  The prep time should take about 30 min.  If you have two kids running around it will probably take you about 45 min.  Start to finish, you could have delicious homemade appetizers in about an hour. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Book Reveiw: A Perfect Pet for Peyton by Rick Osborne and Gary Chapman

What did you do for Valentine’s day?  Go on a date?  Write sweet notes?  Make heart shaped pizza?  Toby and I decided to order A Perfect Pet for Peyton for our family on Valentine’s Day.  It introduces kids to the five love languages.  What is a love language?  I’ll let the book explain.
“Each of us especially likes to love and be loved in one or two of these languages; some love kind words, others like touch.  Some enjoy spending special time with people.  Others love gifts and some like to do nice and helpful things.  We all need to love people in every way.  However, God made use each special and we all love a little differently.”

This book teaches to concept of love languages through the playful story of twin Peyton and Penny’s birthday party.  Our kids love the tale and the colorful pictures.  Each picture has a ‘seek and find’ activity.  I would recommend doing the activities after you read the story.  Doing them while you read breaks up the story line too much. 

A Perfect Pet for Peyton helped our family converse about how we can make each other feel loved and valued.  It also reminded me of something special from my childhood to share with them.  My parents read to my two brothers and I before every nap and nighttime.  They were very busy with three children born in the span of 31 months.  I knew their busy worlds would stop to spend quality time with me at last once a day.  Toby and I share this same ritual with our kids. 
If you would like to discover your own love language, take the quiz at