Happy Birthday America!

Although my beloved country America is not what it used to be… it is biblical to be patriotic, and I still love my country.

So I am remembering the past on this Independence Day. I am celebrating America’s beautiful history and its godly heritage this 4th of July.

As you can see I’m going all out- decorating this blog post with the Red, White and Blue pictures! Happy 4th of July to you!

 

Finally, let us not forget the religious character of our origin. Our fathers were brought hither by their high veneration for the Christian religion. They journeyed by its light, and labored in its hope. They sought to incorporate its principles with the elements of their society, and to diffuse its influence through all their institutions, civil, political, or literary.
Daniel Webster

USA

To the distinguished character of patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of a Christian.”
– George Washington

 “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.” 
--The Trumpet Voice of Freedom: Patrick Henry of Virginia, p. iii.

I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me, seemed insufficient for the day.
– Abraham Lincoln

.

Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.
-Thomas Paine

American and Christian

L’Abri: A short book review

L’Abri means the Shelter in French. A fitting name for a ministry that God used as a spiritual shelter for many people searching for truth, as the author herself explained in this book.

I just finished reading it a few days ago, and I am still savoring the details in my mind. The book is an autobiography written by Edith Schaeffer, the wife of Francis Schaeffer. The Schaeffer family was actively involved in their local church in the United States when one day, they felt God call them away to start a ministry in Europe that would address the postmodern thinking assaulting Christianity during the 20th and 21st centuries.

Mrs. Schaeffer tells of how they moved to Switzerland, a very unlikely but ripe mission field.

There, in a beautiful little village in the mountains of Switzerland, this family with four children was used by God in amazing ways. Not because they were some special Christians – but because they allowed the Lord to lead them according to His will.

(source)

The Schaeffers practiced hospitality in their home (a Swiss chalet) while sharing the good news of Salvation with anyone who came to their home to ask questions about the meaning of life, theology, philosophy, art and anything in-between. As the years went by, their ministry grew into a community where people (especially students) from all over the world and all walks of life came to have their questions answered in a comfortable family environment…and many of those people subsequently became believers. The stories of how God brought each person there can fill up other books in themselves.

(source)

The book introduces a variety of individuals who came in contact with the Schaeffers, and shows how God transformed their lives when they arrived at L’Abri. Of course every ministry also has its challenges, and the Schaeffers were no exception. From illnesses, to nearly being expelled from the country…they had to rely on God every day of every hour- and He showed Himself powerful in amazing, amazing ways. I literally cried reading this book. I cried because I read how the Lord turned trial after trial into astounding miracles. When everything seemed impossible, when they were ready to give up, when there was absolutely no human solution, when there was a dead end-  God would rescue them in the most unbelievable and exciting ways! Reading the book I almost felt like I had lived through all those years there in Switzerland watching the L’Abri ministry unfold.

Mrs. Schaeffer wrote the book while the ministry was still ongoing, almost like she wanted to keep a journal to remember all the milestones of their work (although it is written in an autobiographical style). So she often gives background history about their lives to help readers understand how things developed to their present state. It’s sometimes hard to keep track of all the names presented in the book, but it feels like you’re constantly meeting new people, which helps readers visualize the dynamics of the ministry.

The L’Abri ministry grew to international levels, and it is still functioning today. By God’s grace Mr. Schaeffer also contributed greatly to apologetics and theology with many valuable books. I heartily recommend his writings and this L’Abri autobiography to everyone. I borrowed a copy from the library, but I want to buy one for myself. I dearly cherish stories that display God’s omnipotence and faithfulness.

Although I feel my review of the book doesn’t do it justice, I know the story really impacted me and it is a very unique illustration of what God will do if we submit to live in His will and let Him write our story.

In the pursuit of pure nutella

Once upon a time, there was a girl and her family.  And this girl had a growing passion for hazelnuts and nutella (as you can all tell by now, since it’s the third post on the topic of hazelnuts & nutella). Anyhow, on with the story.

One day, her uncle gave her family a bag full of hazelnuts, just because. Little did he know that this girl had been contemplating for awhile now on making her own home-made nutella with all natural ingredients (which would also be a Pinterest project completed, thus killing two birds with one stone!).

IMG_8805

So one day on her school break she took the lovely little hazelnuts and set to work. She promised her family a delicious and pure nutella with natural ingredients, no preservatives, additives, dangerous oils, or other “ives”, and was so confident it would taste just like the real thing she got everyone excited about it. And trust me, she said, it won’t take that long to make! Probably like 30 minutes or so. She had a perfect recipe from Pinterest, with step by step instructions and pictures. What could be better? Boy was it harder than she thought!

First she cracked open the hazelnut shells using a hammer (and rattling everyone’s brains with the noise). All this hammering business took quite some time and energy. Then she roasted the hazelnuts in the pan, to later find out that the little brown skins on the nuts would not peel off to leave the white pulp of the nuts like it was supposed to.

By this time, most of the family was impatient for nutella to get whipped up and be ready to eat, so other members, seeing the girl’s distress, jumped in to help speed up the process. One person did some research on how to peel hazelnuts and found out the hazelnuts need to be boiled in water and baking soda for the skins to come off… then you roast them in the oven. Now don’t go faulting the poor girl for not reading her recipe carefully! The recipe on Pinterest started with already peeled hazelnuts, and went straight to roasting. So the girl assumed the hazelnut skins would fall off after they are roasted. Nope. That’s what happens when you assume. The tired and disheartened girl nearly called it quits by then.

But she had to save her honor in being a wholesome food fanatic and pioneering the home-made nutella in the family, otherwise no one would want to try any more natural DIY projects and she would lose her credibility if it didn’t turn out good! So she pulled herself together and plodded on.

Whew, so back to square one, cracking open more shells to start with new hazelnuts. It was taking so long, everyone feared the promised nutella would never materialize. But as you can probably guess  (since there would be no story if there was no nutella) the hazelnuts were all successfully shelled. Another person boiled them, and then they were finally roasted.

Another person (nutella can have a way of creating real teamwork) put the roasted hazelnuts in a food processor and made hazelnut butter, while this girl prepared the chocolate and condensed milk to mix together.

The whole process (complete with the little glitches in the beginning) took several hours. But it was all worth it when they mixed everything together in one creamy, chocolatey-hazelnut, finger-licking deliciousness!

And here is proof of all their hard work…

Speaking of which, this “proof” by way of photos was almost not to be. The photos would have been forever deleted off an SD card, never to re-surface again, but were heroically restored by some clever friends. So the girl in the story wants to pause and give a shout-out to them for making this story possible!

 

And as the story continues, everyone agreed the nutella turned out splendid! It tasted just like the real deal! Now they knew how to make home-made nutella. The recipe was a keeper, and it was heartily recommended for a repeat. Sometimes the best things in life come after a lot of sweat and hard work.

nutella

But the story doesn’t end there. In fact, since the family had a whole bagful of hazelnuts that were waiting to be used, the nutella recipe was put to use soon thereafter (like the next week).

And to make the culinary experience complete, that girl’s mom made some bread to accompany the chocolate hazelnut spread. It. was. delicious. A perfect match. Home-made bread and nutella complement each other perfectly.

In the years to come, when the girl has her own grove of hazelnut trees and a large oven, she will make jars of nutella and batches of warm bread to send to her readers to enjoy. Until then, these pictures of her adventures will have to suffice. ;) That is, unless some people can’t wait that long, then they can attempt the nutella endeavor themselves by using this recipe.

And they all lived happily ever after!

My thoughts in little letters

Dear Independence Day:

I can’t wait to celebrate! You’re my favorite day in July and one of the best day of summer.
I love my country, I love showing my patriotism
and remembering the beginnings of the best nation on Earth!

Dear Summer:

I’m glad you’re here. You’re welcome to overstay your visit actually.
There are so many reasons why I like you:
longer days, fun outside activities, ice cream, more time to read new books…just to name a few.

Dear Fifa World Cup:

I’m not that much into soccer, but this time we kept up with who’s playing against who
(thanks to Google).
There’s something odd going on this year.
Lots of unlikely European countries are scoring wins,
and a lot of the soccer crazy Latin or South American countries are getting beat.
What’s going on? Did anyone else notice this?
But I’m proud of my USA for winning against Ghana! Woot! May you soundly beat Germany next!
(Sorry, I had to say that).

Dear publishing houses:

I would like a steady, free supply of my favorite books to write reviews on.
As a poor college student I can’t afford to buy all my favorite books,
so this is a great alternative to continue expanding my library.
I promise I do a good and enthusiastic job reviewing books I love. I’m a good investment. ;)

Dear ICR:

 I just got July’s edition of Acts & Facts in the mail!
When will ya’ll make some bumper stickers with the “Your Origins Matter” logo?
I want one for my car.

Dear blog friends:

Thanks for regularly visiting! You’re great.
I wish I could gather you up from all the corners of the world
and have a tea party  coffee & dessert party with you and chat away.

What’s better than a Rainbow after rain?

…A rainbow on a sunny day!

“And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come:  I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds,  I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth (Genesis 9:12-16).”

We were catching up on things around the house on Saturday, a very pleasant and sunny day, when my younger sister suddenly said something like:

“Oh look! A rainbow! Come see a little rainbow in the clouds!”

At first I thought it was just her excited little mind trying to find interesting things to look at. Maybe an insignificant hint of color on the clouds that sometimes appears when the sun shines at the right angle, you know. But when I looked out the window, there really was a beautiful and bright stretch of colors across a section of the clouds! I never saw such a bright rainbow on a perfectly clear day.

And the sun had a big halo around it too.

It was a special treat sent from heaven to us that day, a little reminder of God’s love, His promises, and blessing.

The rainbow changed shape according to the movement of the wisps of clouds… until finally it disappeared.

So I’m sending you all a virtual rainbow to enjoy today!