Natural Wonders -Hedgeapples

The land produced vegetation:  plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds.  And Elohim saw that it was good.

Genesis 1:12

Long, long ago, when children were still allowed, no, made, to walk home from school, my friends and I saw what looked like a round, green brain lying on the sidewalk.  It was very hard, about the size of a softball and smelled like a lime.  Since computers, cell phones, and iPods hadn’t been invented yet, we did what most children would have done at that time – we kicked it down the sidewalk until we tired of the game and left it to rot on someone’s front yard.  Had I known then that it was a hedgeapple, comes from the Osage Orange tree, and is a natural insecticide…I probably still would have used it for a soccer ball.

Named after a regional Indian tribe, the wood of the Osage Orange tree is hard, heavy, tough, and durable.  A small to medium sized tree, displaying some very formidable thorns, it tolerates poor soils, extreme heat, and strong winds.  It’s no wonder, then, that pioneers in the midwest region of our country planted the trees in rows, or hedges, as a natural fence in which to keep their livestock – hence, the name of the tree’s fruit, “hedgeapple.”   Today we have barbed wire, but wood from the Osage Orange is still used in making strong, sturdy fence posts that are known to outlast the barbed wire attached to them.   Archery bows and furniture are but a few of the many other products made from this prized wood.

It is the fruit of this tree, however, that I search out and gather each year in late September or early October.   With the onset of autumn, spiders, crickets, waterbugs, and a whole host of creepy crawly critters decide to winter over in my house.  They come en masse down the chimney, up the water pipes, under the doors, and through the window screens.  I have found that these “round, green brains,” or hedgeapples, are a natural and effective household insecticide.  I place one in each room and two or three in the basement, out of the reach of children, setting them in coffee filter-lined cereal bowls – they do ooze sticky stuff which is a known skin irritant.   A day or so later finds me vacuuming, sweeping, and wiping up dead bugs everywhere.  The hedgeapples rot away in about a month or two (another reason to use coffee filters), but, by then, we’ve had our first frost and bugs are no longer a problem.   

Of course, there are skeptics who call all of this “folklore,” if they’re being polite, and “baloney,” if they’re not.  I remember one such person, a coach who came from suburbia to work at our rural school.  It had been an especially abundant year, hedgeapple-wise, and I lugged two egg-crates full of them to school to give away.  Teachers, principals, secretaries and janitors all eagerly snapped up as many as they could carry.  Mr. Coach scoffed at our quaint, if not ridiculous, notions, but I convinced him to take a couple home.  A few days later, he called me aside and, with an incredulous whisper, told me that the closet in which he put both hedgeapples was now full of dead bugs!  HeHe.

by: Debbie Reed

Parenting from the Heart: A Lesson in Sacrifice (Part One)

Two years ago this month, my life changed with a single phone call, a call on a seemingly ordinary summer day that was anything but ordinary. I was outside near the garage throwing away trash. I remember the details of this day as vividly as if it just happened yesterday. I answered with a simple, “Hello?” The response I received was full of panic and desperation. The voice of a woman, whose request was barely audible as tears and sobs muffled her speech, cried out to me for help. As a mom, whenever I hear a cry for help, I am right there with a hand extended. But, this time was different. The risk was great and the sacrifice required was even more than I imagined.


In life, we are faced with trials and tribulations, and many times these challenges involve sacrifice. Sacrifice could be in the form of material possessions or money, or perhaps giving up a family outing or vacation because you’re needed elsewhere. I think we can all agree that this list could go on for quite a while from our own personal experiences.

On that life-changing summer day, the woman pleading for my help was Emma, the birth mother of my adopted daughter, Genna. What was her reason for sheer panic? Homelessness. She slowly shared, slowly because she could barely breathe between sobs, that she became homeless after having a falling out with her sister. So, here she was, in a crime-ridden city infamously known for violence and drug rings, sitting on a street corner with a mere few bags of possessions and her son, Genna’s biological brother, Rey. They had no place to go and no money in hand. She needed my help—they needed my help.

Now, just to back up a bit … the adoption was finalized 10 years prior as a closed adoption, meaning I was under no obligation to establish or maintain contact with Emma at any time. But, I did choose to communicate with her over the years for the occasional phone call or to mail her pictures of Genna. So, to hear her voice—a voice I recognized instantly—after many, many years filled me with uncertain fear. Thoughts of, can I trust her, should I help, should I say no, should I just hang up … swirled in my head. I didn’t know what to say to her other than to do my best to calm her down and encourage her. I told her I would pray for her. I also told her I would call Jason at work right away and call her back.

When I called Jason to fill him in on the news, he didn’t seem shocked. His response floored me. I was sure he’d say something like, “Well, she’s not coming here.” In a way, at the time, I was hoping that would be his response. But instead, he told me to put myself in their shoes of desperation and loneliness. He asked me what Yahshua would do. I replied, “He would take them in.” And so began a chapter in my life that would change me forever … opening my heart and home to Genna’s birth family.

They arrived within three days of the initial call for help. I was on pins and needles every second of every minute of every hour of those three days. Those three days felt like an eternity, but spun by so quickly I could hardly gather my thoughts or feelings. I can still see the minivan coming down the driveway; Jason went to pick them up in town, so he was driving the van. I told Genna to stay inside while I met them and made sure everything was okay.

Emma ran over to me, wrapped her arms around me and cried for several minutes. I remember hearing her say, “I love you,” amidst the shed tears. Then, out of the van appeared Rey. It was incredible. He looked just like Genna. I had never before seen him in person. He was sweet and shy. He came over to me and gave me a hesitant hug. I smiled and hugged him back. I sent Kaiti in the house to get Genna.

When Genna came outside, I turned on my camera and set it to movie mode. I hit record. I watched Genna and Emma reunite through the lens of my camera. I felt so removed from the situation… but so did my heart, so in a way it was fitting. I watched Emma run to Genna and hug her, hugging her with such emotion, unlike I had ever seen before. She was hugging “my” daughter in a way I never did. My heart sank, and at that moment I knew the coming months were going to be difficult.

That first night, I couldn’t sleep. We put Emma and Rey upstairs in a spare bedroom. Their bedroom was just down the hall from Genna’s room. My room was downstairs. The distance killed me, even though it was mere steps. Not knowing what was going on at every moment tormented me. I could hear laughter, laughter shared between Emma and Genna. I heard hugs. Before this day, I didn’t know a hug could be heard, but a mother’s heart can hear one. I heard many. I couldn’t help but feel jealous. I was jealous of what they shared. No matter how good of a mom I was, I could never be Genna’s birth mom. I cried. I was scared, scared of losing my little girl. My repeating thought, spinning in my head like a broken record, “What have I done?” I fell asleep praying, asking, “Yahweh … what is your plan? Help me to understand.”

To be continued ….

by: Amy Pletz

Parenting from the Heart Part Two: The Rest of the Story

Yahweh did help me to understand His plan for me through this trying, refining experience. Through sacrifice, sacrifice of the heart, I felt His amazing love. You see, while I was crying and my heart was aching, He comforted me. He was there by my side.

 Anyone who has adopted can understand what I say when I describe what it’s like to wonder if your adopted children really see you as their “real” parent. “Real,” what an interesting word to use to describe motherhood. I can assure you, my being there for Genna over the years while she was sick or hurt, being there to comfort her when she had scary dreams, being there every evening to help with homework, never leaving her side no matter what … this was, and still is, very “real” to me.

Sacrifice. Yes, love blossoms in sacrifice. That summer, I loved Genna enough—I trusted Yahweh enough—to give her birth mother, Emma, the gift of loving her, too. I suffered watching them take walks together. I suffered watching them cook and bake together. Oh, to endure the sight and sound of them sharing in hugs and smiles, enjoying each other … in my house, on my motherhood watch. It was bittersweet, to say the least. I remember on this one occasion, looking out my bedroom window, Emma and Genna were hand in hand leaving for a walk down our peaceful gravel road. My heart just about crumbled in that moment. Have you ever experienced something traumatic, when time seems to stand still, and you feel your every heartbeat and become consciously aware of every breath? This was me on this day. You see … it was my birthday. Genna didn’t know, but I felt like she chose Emma over me, and for some reason, being my birthday, it felt a little more painful than it would have otherwise. I can look back and say with certainty that this was a growing moment for me. Yahweh showed me through His amazing love that it wasn’t about Genna choosing Emma over me, it was about me allowing Genna to love the way Yahweh created her heart to love. I could have yelled out the front door for her to come back, and she is so sweet, she would have in a split second. But, that wouldn’t have been fair of me. If you would have seen the joy on her face as she walked with Emma. It was so innocent and pure. To deny her of that moment would have been selfish of me.

There were many days experienced like the day they went on the walk together. But, the hardest of times were when Emma would come to me and ask for my help. She needed me to help her grow closer to Genna. When she first asked me to talk to Genna for her, I was like, “Are you kidding me? Why would I do that … and risk her actually growing closer to you!” But, the spirit inside was leading me to answer her with a gentle and sincere, “I will do my best to help you.” Honestly, as I would utter comforting words to her, my flesh wouldn’t always agree. A part of me didn’t want them to grow closer at all! But, still … I did my best to help them discover their renewed relationship, their rekindled love.

Day after day passed us by. Finally, the day came when Emma and Rey moved out of our home into an apartment of their own in a nearby town. I was initially relieved and happy to get my home back in order and get back to the way things were before their arrival. But, instead, something quite unexpected happened. I found myself sad about them leaving. My heart grieved over the loss of their presence in our family. Through the challenges, through the tears and sleepless nights I endured, somehow, somewhere along the way, I, too, developed a love for Emma. I didn’t expect to grow so close to her. But, I did. I grew to love her like a sister.

Many have asked me if I would do it again, or if I could go back in time, would I instead say no to her call for help. My answer is always, yes, I would do it again, and no, I wouldn’t change a thing. It wasn’t me just helping Emma and Rey. It was me serving Yahshua! For we are told that what we do unto the “least” of them (those in need), we do unto him. I lived this Scripture, and it was beautiful! Because I loved enough to let go of my little girl for just a little, not only did she love me more, but I felt a greater blessing, a great portion of the Spirit within me! Yahweh’s love is indescribable. His love is perfect. His love is amazing!

P.S. One day, soon after Emma and Rey left our home, Genna came to me and gave me a hug. I asked what the hug was for, because it was out of the blue. She said it was because I let her meet and know her mom and brother. Her “mom” … yes, Emma was and always will be her mom, and I am okay with that. I looked at Genna and smiled. My reply was short and sweet: “Genna, you are so blessed. To think, when some kids have no mom, you have two!” She smiled and walked away. And, that tender moment closed this chapter in our lives. And, if you’re wondering, we still have contact with Emma and Rey. And, we continue to be blessed because they’re in our lives. Yahweh is so good!

by: Amy Pletz

Why We Choose to Homeschool

I always knew I wanted to Home-school.  I love spending time with my children and watching them learn.  Many days, I learn along with them.  But, even more than that, I feel I am called to teach my children at home.

In today’s world, women are made to feel as if they are somehow less important if they stay home and do not have a career.  But staying home with your children is a sacrifice to Yah that will reap many blessings in future years.

We read in Yahweh’s Word scriptures like Titus 2: 4-5 that say older women should teach the younger women to be sober, to love their husbands and children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, kind, and obedient to their husbands so that the word of Yahweh will not be blasphemed.  Deuteronomy 6:7 reads, “And thou shall teach them (Yahweh’s laws) diligently unto thy children, and thou shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the ways and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”  After reading these Scriptures and others like them, I know that the decision to homeschool our children is the right choice.

There are many benefits in homeschooling.  One is that you can pick your own curriculum from a faith-based viewpoint.  You can start your day in Yahweh’s Word and proceed with books that continue to ground your child’s faith.  Another advantage is that you can also work at your child’s own pace.  My favorite homeschooling benefit is that you can surround your child with peers who have good morals.  If you see a behavior that is not kind or uplifting you can deal with it immediately.

I am not a perfect homeschool mom.  Some days I have to ask my children’s forgiveness for not being patient enough.  Last year I even broke down crying to my husband, telling him that it was just too hard.

But, despite these challenges, I really do love homeschooling and am looking forward to this next year.  There will be days when we feel overwhelmed, but there will be so many more days that I will see my children build a science project they are proud of, read their first book, memorize scriptures, help at a food shelter, write a poem, the list goes on and on…

In closing I would like to add that, for our family homeschooling is best, but it may not be for everyone.  Whether you send your children to public or private schools or homeschool, nothing will influence your children’s desire to follow Yahshua more than a family who studies together and lives their daily lives according to the Bible.

So whatever your choice is…have a blessed school year.

by: Jessica Mansager

Got Water?

From the beginning the Scriptures say a lot about water. In Gen. 6:17 Yahweh is washing the evil off the earth with water!  Jeremiah 12:13 says Yahweh is the fountain of living waters.  And, of course, we must be immersed in the water of baptism in order to be adopted into the Body of Messiah.
It is absolutely crucial to provide all the parts of the body with a lot of this basic component.  Chances are that you’re among the 75% of Americans who are chronically dehydrated.

In the beginning all water was alkaline. Pollution from so called civilization is still corrupting Yahweh’s creation. It turns out that the single measurement most important to your health is the pH of your blood and tissues; how acidic or alkaline it is.  Just as your body temperature is rigidly regulated, the blood and tissues must be kept in a very narrow pH range. The human body is designed to be alkaline, and will go to great lengths to preserve that.  A body insufficient in alkalizing minerals will seek these vital components elsewhere. Sodium or potassium will be leached from the blood, calcium from bone and cartilage, and magnesium from muscles.  If the acid overload gets too great for the blood to balance, excess acid is dumped into the tissues for storage. Then the lymphatic (immune) system must neutralize what it can and try to get rid of everything else.  Unfortunately, ‘getting rid of’ acid from the tissues means dumping it right back into the blood, creating a vicious cycle of drawing still more basic minerals away from their ordinary functions and stressing the liver and kidneys. The body creates fat cells to try to protect the vital organs.  When you eat and drink to make your body alkaline, the body won’t need to keep that fat around anymore.

Chronic over-acidity corrodes body tissue and, if left unchecked, willinterrupt all cellular activities and functions, from the beating of your heart to the neural firing of your brain.  An imbalance in the blood and tissue pH leads to irritation and inflammation and sets the stage for sickness and disease.  So many of our diseases start with inflammation, that I cannot help but think of the curse in Deuteronomy 28:22,

“Yahweh will smite thee with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning and with the sword, and with blasting, and with mildew, and they shall pursue thee until thou perish.”
The nastiest consequences of an overly acidic body, however, are the presence of bacteria, yeasts (or fungi), and molds.  These microforms take advantage of the body’s weaker areas, poisoning and overworking them.  In an acidic environment, they basically get free rein to break down tissues and bodily processes. They live on our body’s energy, or electrons, and use our fats and proteins (even our genetic matter, nucleic acids) for development and growth.  Bacteria, yeast, fungus, and mold do not themselves produce symptoms in the body, their toxic wastes do.  Nor do they initiate disease.  They only show up because of a compromised internal environment that causes body cells to transform into bacteria, then yeast, and finally mold.
It is just as important to maintain an alkaline body as it is to monitor your fish tank water or swimming pool water. And, any gardener knows to adjust the soil pH in order to grow strong healthy veggies.
The small intestine must be alkaline in order for the food to be transformed into red blood cells.  So the quality of the food you eat determines the quality of the red blood cells that determine the quality of your bones, muscles, or organs, etc. Hippocrates, known as the father of modern medicine, is noted as saying:  “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.”  You are, quite literally, what you eat!

The number one over-the-counter remedy sold in the United States is antacids!  Recurrent and chronic acid indigestion and heartburn are urgent messages our bodies are sending us.

The chaos of acid imbalance and microform transformation and then overgrowth is an entirely natural and orderly process when life is ending.  The body automatically becomes acidic upon death. Once a body stops breathing, microforms thrive in the acid they love. They are the “undertakers” when we die; they decompose our dead bodies.  Biologists call it the carbon cycle.  It’s the literal meaning of “ashes to ashes and dust to dust.”  Acid is what makes our corpses rot and it does the same thing to us when we are living!  (A good book to read on this subject is The pH Miracle by Robert O. Young, PhD.)

So drink up! For best results drink two liters of purified alkaline water every day and the water of the Word. HalleluYah!

by: Lora Wilson

Clean Cuisine – Summers Vanity

Last February, I pined away for the taste of a fresh tomato, tender green beans, or a basketful of sweet lettuce leaves – all freshly picked from the garden.  But, each year in late summer I am reminded of the old saying, “Be careful of what you wish for.”  The branches on the peach trees droop in an attempt to carry their load and birds swarm the blackberry canes in frenzied efforts to get their fair share of the bounty.  The springtime lettuce has bolted in the Midwestern heat, the green tomatoes have changed into their brilliant red attire, screaming, “It’s now or never,” while the zucchini…I won’t even go there.  I gaze upon the beauty and abundance of the garden  and realize that in a few short months all will be gone in the colder months to come.  Yes, harvest is here and it’s time to enjoy the colors, smells and tastes of our labors.

BABA GANOUSH – Growing up, I absolutely hated eggplant.  Now, however, I can’t get enough of the stuff: eggplant parmesan, eggplant pizza, eggplant and tomato pasta, marinated eggplant, fried eggplant, pickled eggplant and, especially, this wonderful Mediterranean dish that is served spread on bread or crackers, or eaten as a side dish all by itself.

1 large eggplant

¼ cup tahini (sesame paste)

3 garlic cloves, minced

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon cumin

Salt to taste

1-2 Tablespoons  olive oil

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Kalamata olives

Grill the eggplant for approximately 10-15 minutes until the skin starts to turn black and the flesh starts to soften.  Transfer the eggplant to a baking sheet in a 375-degree oven and bake another 15-20 minutes until very soft.  After cooling, peel the eggplant and transfer the flesh to a mixing bowl.  Mash the eggplant into a paste.   Add the tahini, garlic, lemon juice and cumin and mix well.  Add salt to taste and adjust other ingredients, as needed (you may want to add more tahini or lemon juice).  Mound the mixture in a serving dish and, using the back of a large spoon, form a shallow well in the center.  Spoon some of the olive oil in the well and drizzle the rest over the mixture.  Sprinkle parsley over the top and arrange olives around the outside. Serves 6.

ZUCCHINI FRITTERS – This is an updated form of potato pancakes using zucchini instead of potatoes.  Not only is it delicious and nutritious, but who isn’t looking for more recipes when the green things mount their invasion of the garden?

3 cups coarsely shredded zucchini, skins on and seeds removed

2 eggs, beaten

½ small onion, chopped

½ teaspoon salt

Dash pepper

2 Tablespoons flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

1-2 Tablespoons milk, if needed

Mix all of the above ingredients together – I stir vigorously instead of using a mixer.  Add a tablespoon of milk or two only if mixture is too dry.  Drop by tablespoonfuls onto a hot, well-greased griddle or skillet.  Brown on both sides and serve immediately.  Makes 10-12 fritters.

RASPBERRY VINEGAR – More cooks are moving away from  prepared foods to more natural ingredients in the family meals.  Although there are a few bottled salad dressings I occasionally serve, we more often opt for olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice on our salads.  Flavored vinegars are easy to make and have a variety of uses.  Fresh blackberries, blueberries, or coarsely chopped cranberries may be substituted for the raspberries in this recipe.

3 cups red or white wine vinegar

1 cup fresh red raspberries

½ cup granulated sugar (optional)

½ cup red raspberries for decoration (optional)

Combine vinegar and sugar (if desired) in a stainless steel or enamel saucepan.  Heat, stirring occasionally, until hot but not quite boiling.  Pour into a glass bowl and stir in the raspberries.  Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a cool place for about a week.  Strain through cheesecloth, coarse muslin, or a coffee filter a couple of times to remove all debris.

Pour into bottles or jars with tight-fitting lids and store in the refrigerator – up to several months, if it lasts that long!

by: Debbie Reed

Proverbs 31- Far Above Rubies

Proverbs 31 Verse 20: “She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.”

I always enjoy reading Proverbs 31. And, it seems no matter how many times I read it, I can always go back and find something new—a clearer, deeper understanding within this jewel of the Word. This week, when I returned to Proverbs 31, my heart was drawn to verse 20 where the virtuous woman is described as a woman of compassion and charity: “She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hand to the needy.”

While this devotion in charitable service is heartwarming in general, let’s take this verse in context. This virtuous woman is not a woman with a whole lot of time on her hands. She is one busy lady! Her hands are busy working from the moment she awakes to after the household is still into the late hours of night, never eating of the bread of idleness. She not only cares for her husband and children, but tends to the needs of those within her gates as well. So, where does she find the time to help the poor?

When I read Proverbs 31, I am amazed by all this woman encompasses, from a gentle spirit full of wisdom, to a heart full of kindness … to an incredible work ethic that should set the standard (and not the exception) for us all. And, despite her daily duties, which she seems to thoroughly love, she is moved to stretch forth her hands to the poor, which means she is doing this herself. She is sacrificing valuable time away from her family and her daily chores to work some more … to give of herself … a sweet offering … to give in such a way that she cannot be repaid for her labor … giving to those who have so little. In this verse, verse 20, we can see the true colors of her heart, and they’re beautiful, like a rainbow set before a child for the first time.

What does it mean to help the poor and needy, to stretch forth your hands and reach them? I can share through personal experience that sacrificing time and money, to help those who are poor and needy, is an amazing experience. Not only are we told to do this in scripture, but there is a transformation of the heart that occurs every time you serve, and I think this is why we are directly encouraged to serve the poor and needy … it brings us closer to Yahweh! If you’ve never directly helped in this way, ask someone who has. They will likely tell you they received more than they gave, and it’s true! When I serve, I feel energized and humbled at the same time. You’d think that giving time and money would feel draining, but in fact, the exact opposite happens! Through service to the least of them, you become closer to the greatest of them … Yahweh.

May we all continually strive to be virtuous women pleasing to our Father and those we are blessed to serve, for serving is a gift and Yahweh is the Giver. May Yahweh bless you and guide your footsteps as you seek to serve Him and your household. HalleluYah!

by: Amy Pletz

My Big Box of Troubles

It’s been almost three years since Mom passed away unexpectedly and, since that time, I have thought a lot about her life.  The distance has given me a unique perspective on how I want to spend my remaining years.  While I try to emulate all of her wonderful traits, there is one habit that I don’t want to copy.

I noticed that my mother, and my grandmother, had a tendency to worry.  It seems like a lot of time was spent speculating and being concerned about the future and I find myself falling into that habit, too.  When my daughters were younger, I would find myself waking up at night and worrying about bills, about the kids, about my parents, about my job – it was endless.  In the middle of the night concerns loom large and seem insurmountable.  Of course, daylight comes and they are again manageable.  One of the things I tried was to designate Wednesday as the day I worried.  I would tell myself, “I’ll worry about it on Wednesday.”  Usually, by Wednesday the problem had disappeared or was solved.

My mom was diagnosed with diabetes in her late thirties and I remember her telling me that she prayed she would be able to live until my youngest brother, Gary, a toddler at the time, finished high school.  Not only did she live until his graduation, she also lived long enough to see Gary’s oldest child, Jordan, graduate as well.  All of that time spent worrying when she could have had peace of mind.  Mom also worried about outliving Dad and she had taken out several small insurance policies on his life.  As it turned out, he outlived her.  All of that worrying – the concerns and the sleepless nights – what purpose did they serve?

Studies have shown that 85% of the things we worry about never come to pass.  The Bible has a lot to say on the topic.  When I googled “cast your cares,” I found 83 Bible verses that tell us to “cast your burden on Yahweh,” “fear not,” and “for those who love Yahweh all things work together for good.”  My favorite verse (that I often say to myself) is Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to Yahweh.”

While I often talked to Mom about her constant worrying, I didn’t get very far.  I saw the toll it took on her, interrupting her sleep (she would often write letters in the night when she was awake) and her health.  My dad, who had such a close relationship with Yahweh, would read the Psalms and fall asleep easily and peacefully.  I want to have that kind of security, knowing that Yahweh is holding me in the palm of His hand.

Do I still have “worry Wednesdays”? No.  These days I don’t even want to deal with worries on Wednesday.  I mentally throw my concerns into a big, big box.  I put the lid on it, tie it shut, and ask Yahweh to handle them.  When they start to interrupt my sleep or disturb me during the day, I tell myself that Yahweh is taking care of them.  If the Creator of the universe is taking care of those burdens, my heart can be trouble free and unafraid (John 1:2-4).

by: Linda Lowe

the gift

The Gift

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  John 8:32

A gift of freedom from the chains of pagan tradition has been passed down to our children.  This gift is far superior to anything they ever found under a tree.

We ceased to observe Christmas exactly 20 years ago.  It was impossible to convince our family and friends that our reasons for taking this step were correct.  Our children feigned understanding, putting on a brave front, but heartsick in secret.  We didn’t make the yearly pilgrimage to celebrate with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, as in former times.  We didn’t give or receive presents.  It was a very difficult thing to do — not observing Christmas.

So many years have passed….  Now, when the annual Saturnalia celebration rolls around, we, along with our grown children, take little notice.  The pain of separation is gone.  Not one of us believes we have sacrificed anything of significance. Instead, we feel as though we’ve been set free — free from the financial and emotional stress this season brings.  We are not burdened with unwanted and unneeded stuff nor are we in debt from purchasing things that others neither need nor want.  We experience no pre-season anxiety or post-season depression.

We have been freed from time constraints and societal pressure to do so much — sending myriads of cards, baking mounds of cookies, and wrapping endless presents — before the sun sets on Dec. 24.  We have no long lists of items to purchase, lights to put up and take down, ornaments to pack and unpack, tinsel to disperse and later vacuum up, or branches to decorate and dispose of when dehydrated — all in the name of a fallacy. The truth about X-mas has set us free.

by: Debbie Reed


Mommy’s Little Girl

She started out so very small, now look at my girl,

she’s getting so tall.

I remember the cute way she held onto her ear,

now look at her helping me, what a sweet little dear!

I used to pray, “Oh, Yahweh, please let her sleep through just one night,” now I can’t wake her up no matter how bright the light.

I remember taking lots of pictures of all her cute little faces, now it’s trips to the orthodontist to re-adjust those braces.

The day we brought her home was one of the best days of my life, but I know it won’t be long until someday she’s someone’s beautiful wife.

Everyone tells me to enjoy her while she’s still home

because before too long, she’ll be off and on her own.

When that day comes and it’s her turn to take flight, I’ll send her off knowing that with Yahweh she’ll know what’s wrong and what’s right.

But for now, I’m holding onto my little girl real tight.  She’s a gift from Yahweh that I love with all my might!

by: Jennifer Folliard