life fabric

The Fabric of Life

“Consider how the lilies grow…” Luke 12:27

A neighbor down the road made quilts; beautiful quilts in a variety of colors and patterns.  I was intrigued.  Soon she was patiently showing me how to piece together my very first quilt in hues of rust, beige and brown.  I was immediately smitten and I have been turning out quilts for over twenty-five years now.  Sometimes you just know that you were meant to do something and this is one of those things for me.

An older lady once told me to “make memories” while life was still busy, our children growing and our health in the robust category.  So, we did.  As a family we learned and did much together:  raising livestock and pets, planting trees and vegetables, exploring the forests, building birdhouses and barns, visiting relatives, going on trips and vacations, and always, always planning for the future.

So, when did the future become the past?  I don’t really know but somehow it slipped by me.   The kids finished college, married and moved on.  Many of our relatives, friends and neighbors have either relocated or passed away.  And, while our lives are still busy with daily chores and human interaction, the purposeful thrust of it all has diminished somewhat.

Each quilt is a metaphor for choices made.  Should this quilt be a nine-patch, a courthouse steps or an Irish chain? Should I use cotton, muslin or flannel?  Will I make this one in greens and yellows, reds and whites, or a mixture of many prints and colors from my stash of leftovers?    Some quilts turn out to be stunning in their combinations and others miss the mark somehow and end up in the mediocre category.  And, then, there are a disappointing few that have caused me to halt construction midway, take them completely apart, and reuse the material for something else.

Quilts hold memories.  Before starting a new one, I first go through the extra material I have put aside from others I have made through the years.  There are the blues from my son’s quilt that I made when he was eight years old to match the baseball wallpaper in his room. Then, there’s the green plaid for the quilt I made for my daughter when she was a teenager and tired of the little-girl pinks. The aqua and peach cottons went into a graduation quilt for a niece and the burgundy and cream material made up a fiftieth wedding anniversary quilt for my in-laws.  Each piece of material brings back the memory of a person or an event.

Although I have given away most of the quilts, I still have quite a collection.  Some are displayed on racks and not to be touched.  Others, like the green log cabin in our guest room, are so old and faded from much use and many washings that they really should be replaced – but it’s hard to let go.

I recently finished a purple and green lovers’ knot quilt to give to a good friend.  This one turned out well and is quite lovely, but it, too, will fade with time and use.  For now, however, it is good, and I am learning to appreciate the now, not always living in the past nor always planning for the future.  As time moves on I realize more that we should give thanks daily for every good gift we have from Yahweh – for our family, our friends, our talents, our hopes and each moment of life that He has given us.

by: Debbie Reed

ruth

Ruth: A Story of Faith, Family, and Friendship

The book of Ruth takes us on a journey of love, loss, trials, faith, and love anew. To understand Ruth is to first understand what her name means. Ruth, a Hebrew name רְעוּת (re’ut) in its very essence meaning, “friend,” sets the stage for the journey she was meant to take, a journey of endurance, a journey of a most sincere friendship, a lesson that will forever stand the test of time.

Ruth, from the land of Moab, was daughter-in-law to Naomi, an Israelite. It’s important to recognize that, historically, the Israelites and Moabites were enemies. But, the relationship Ruth and Naomi shared couldn’t have been further from the traditional hostile relationship shared by their native lands. The first chapter of Ruth starts this story by painting a picture of grief and loss, and what would have been defeat for many. You see, Naomi’s husband and her two sons died, deaths relatively close to one another. Imagine, just imagine, the sorrow…the tears…the fear.

According to the law, Ruth was freed from the covenant shared with her husband. She could have chosen to return to her people like her sister-in-law, Orpah, did. She could have gone home. In fact, Naomi encouraged her  and pleaded with her to leave. But, Ruth would not go. She would not move from Naomi’s side. This book, this story, touches my heart so deeply, so sincerely. Despite the loneliness Ruth must have felt after her husband passed away, she decided to stay. Was this a part of Yahweh’s plan, that Ruth should serve Him? Ruth 1:16-17 reads:

“And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy Elohim my Elohim: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: Yahweh do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.” (RSB)

The heartfelt words of this passage give a window, a glimpse, into the very soul of Ruth. Her selflessness and passion to serve Naomi, to serve Yahweh is so beautiful. In the hour of her pain, as she suffered the loss of her husband, not even knowing where she would live or how she would survive, she proclaimed a most precious commitment to Naomi—to become even closer to her, through a promise of love and adoption, unto death. Ruth encompasses an unwavering commitment as a friend. In Proverbs 17:17, we read, “A friend loveth at all times….” Ruth most certainly did.

Are you a Ruth? Are you a Naomi with a Ruth by your side? You see, even if we don’t have the role of daughter-in-law in the relational sense, we can live the lessons taught through Ruth’s actions in the Word. We all have spiritual sisters. We all struggle; we all need that “stand by me” kind of support. I encourage you to accept friendship when a sister extends it. I encourage you to let a sister help you in your hour of need. I also encourage you to be a Ruth and go where Yahweh so calls you to go, and serve how He so calls you to serve.

Sometimes, in the hustle and bustle of our busy lives, we forget that “we” are living stories, just as Ruth was and is for us. Yahweh is watching over us, watching our every move, listening to our every word. Do you think He is pleased with you? That is something only you can answer. As for me, I am a work in progress. I pray that I may humbly die daily to my weak flesh, to be raised anew in the tender embrace of His love and mercy. As you walk in the Word, as you go about your daily life, take time to meditate on Ruth’s story and what it means to you. For me, it’s a wonderful reminder of service and sacrifice. It reminds me of Yahshua and His unfailing love, love He so passionately lived and died for so that we might have a way to enter eternal life. Ruth’s story reminds me to never give up, to never let go.

I invite you to stay tuned to the next issue of “Come to the Garden” as we dive deeper in the Word and learn more about Ruth, for her journey is far from over. Her story unfolds in a most amazing way. Until next time, may Yahweh bless you and keep you all of your days.

by: Amy Pletz

You Are Yahweh

You Are Yahweh

You are the Potter:  I am the Clay!

Whatever you choose

To do with me,

That’s the thing that ought to be.

I wouldn’t try to change your mind,

I wouldn’t if I could.

Things would always happen

The way you think they should.

You are the Father:  I am the Child!

I’ll put my trust in you.

You have better plans for me,

Than anyone ever knew.

When I descend into my grave,

When my testing has been done,

I’ll wait on the resurrection,

For it’s earthly life I’ve won.

My body will return to dust,

For that from which it came!

But, my spirit will return to you –

For it’s you that holds the claim.

by: Jean Sweet

Soul Garden

Like turning over soil in a fallow field

Searching for the treasures of fertile thoughts and dreams

Past, present, future

Finding deep and unanswered needs and questions

Examining a furrow for possible growth

I hill up my hopes in even rows

Mark my places neatly at each end

Tie white strings of truth and power

Wait……..

by: Gayle Bonato

Green Thumbs Up!

Are you ready for the garden?  Here in the Midwest, it may be too early to actually plant anything, but the cold months of winter are the perfect time to plan the garden.  Consider what you will plant, when it will be planted and where each herb, vegetable and flower will be located.  Make out a map of the garden before heading out to dig in the dirt and keep three important gardening techniques in mind:  rotation, companion and successive planting.

Rotation means simply to rotate your crops – do not plant the same thing in the same spot as last year.  This discourages insect infestations. Little critters may be just waiting for more of the same delicacies that were served up last year in the same area.  While some plants will rob the soil of certain nutrients, other plants will add those, and other, nutrients back into the soil.  So, by rotating crops you will also be helping to keep the soil in good condition.

Companion planting is another method used to help prevent insect damage by planting mutually beneficial plants near each other.  Likewise, some plants should never be placed in close proximity to one another.  More specific information on neighborly plants is easily obtained on the Internet.  By mixing herbs, vegetables and flowers together as companions you can make an interesting, beautiful and organically functional garden.

Successive planting is the method whereby a second crop is planted in the same soil after a first crop has been harvested.  This second crop may be a repeat of the first crop, or an entirely different one altogether.  Cool weather crops, such as carrots, chard, lettuce, onions, potatoes and spinach, are planted early in the spring, mature early in the summer and may be planted again, some even multiple times, during the growing season.   Some vegetables, such as kale, green beans or turnips, do better when planted in the middle of the summer, maturing in the cool of the autumn.  With this in mind, I will plant turnips in the same spot formerly occupied by my harvested beets or green beans in the area where the squash had thrived.  By planting crops in succession, you can produce more in less garden space, almost doubling your harvest.

Following is a rough schedule of when to plant here in Mid- Missouri, or Climate Zone 5.  This list is by no means exhaustive or definitive and you can customize it to fit your own personal choices and timetable.

Very early (mid-March to early-April) – chard, lettuce, peas, potatoes, radishes, spinach

Early (April) – beans, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, onions

Mid (May) – corn, cucumbers, eggplant, melons, okra, parsnips, peppers, squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, herbs, flowers

Late (mid-July) – beans, cabbage, carrots, chard, lettuce, onions, potatoes, radishes, spinach, turnips
Keep in mind that not everything in the garden will do well every year.  Some growing seasons can be downright heartbreaking, while the abundance of others can be almost overwhelming.  Despite good soil, special techniques and constant vigilance to weed and insect problems, the weather is always the determining factor in production.   So, whether the garden thrives this year or not, enjoy the outdoors, the exercise and the visual and culinary delights that Yahweh  provides.

by: Debbie Reed

stoneengravedYHWH

The Correct Name Matters

Soon after I learned the Hebrew name for our Savior Yahshua, an event happened in our town that made clear the importance of names. Taos is a small town of mixed cultures.  Historically, newcomers have come in and with their wealth have created new successful businesses.  They have bought property and prospered, sometimes to the detriment of the locals.

An old Ramada Inn was purchased by a man named Larry Whitten.  He came from Texas and was unaware, or possibly did not understand, the sensitivities of the local population.  He remodeled the hotel, hired staff to run the hotel, and readied everything for a big Grand Opening.  He handed out the name tags to the staff and here is where his problems began.

Being from Texas he wanted to make sure his guests would feel comfortable and have every ease.  On the name tags instead of using the correct names of his employees he Anglicized the names.  Maria became Mary, Jose became Joseph, and Santiago became James.  The employees, seeing their new names, felt insulted.  Mr. Whitten tried to smooth it over by saying he was just trying to make it easier for the guests to remember or pronounce their names.  He told them they should take no offense because none was intended.  The employees did not agree.  They picketed the hotel and did not report for work.  They refused to wear the name tags.  This disruption lasted for about two months.  Eventually the dispute was resolved and Mr. Whitten printed proper name tags.

Sometimes people choose different names for themselves or find themselves with a nickname that sticks.  But, we would all agree that people never accept a name that they did not agree to or choose.  Similar to Mr. Whitten’s situation, our Savior’s name was changed for the convenience of the Greek people and their language.

My stepfather had a nickname and he could always tell when mail came which people really knew him and which people were merely acquaintances.  He always used his legal name for business and only his close colleagues and friends knew his legal name.  Yahshua may also know His flock by this same test.  Those who seek a little deeper will have a closer relationship with him.

by: Laurie Barela

Autolyzed Yeast: Fit For Food?

No doubt you read labels diligently in order to avoid unclean and unsafe ingredients.  And of course we must avoid leavening agents during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. But what is “autolyzed yeast extract”?

Listed among the ingredients of “natural” packaged foods, it seems harmless.  After all, it’s just yeast, right? Not exactly.  While it may have started out as “just yeast,” its stint in the “Frankenfood” laboratory has rendered it frightening.  As any good baker knows, salt and live yeast don’t mix. The salt destroys the yeast’s ability to raise dough. But scientifically speaking, salt doesn’t actually kill yeast.  When salt and yeast meet, a chemical process called “autolysis” happens. The yeast begins to digest itself with its own enzymes, creating an inactive yeast with a high concentration of proteins and a hearty beef-like flavor.  Self-digestion is disturbing enough, but the effects of autolyzed yeast are even more unsettling.  Used as a flavor enhancer, autolyzed yeast (like MSG) enhances the flavor of food by chemically altering human taste buds, making it easier for us to detect savory or meaty flavors.  It also stimulates brain cells to remember a taste and make you want more of a snack that would otherwise not be so addictive.  Because of its chemical similarity to MSG, autolyzed yeast can trigger similar allergic reactions including headaches, flushing, nausea, numbness or tingling, and chest pain.

 The bottom line:  Even products that claim to be “all natural” can contain ingredients that you don’t want to ingest.  Learn more about potentially harmful additives at truthinlabeling.org.

by: Lora Wilson

ThankfulHeart

A Thankful Heart

In school my children and I have been reading all about the Israelites, their leaving Egypt and their travels through the desert. As we have been reading about the Israelites grumbling and complaining, we have been taken aback by their constant lack of faith and unthankful spirit.

For one of the suggested activities the teacher was supposed to serve popcorn (manna) for breakfast, snack and lunch. Then she was to explain that the Israelites ate manna for forty years every day. Although we didn’t end up doing this activity, it got us thinking. How often do we complain about what we are blessed with? Yahweh provided everything for the Israelites and, even though they might have become tired of the same foods over and over, it was a sin to complain.

It really made me consider how easily we let words of complaint or discontentment come out of our mouths. When the Israelites complained about the lack of water and stated that “their souls loathed this light bread,” Yahweh sent fiery serpents to kill many of  them. We may not have seen all the many miracles that the Israelites experienced, and yet still complained, but how blessed are we really?

We are not wandering in a hot and dry desert, living as nomads with dirt everywhere and not knowing if we are to leave that very day or to stay for weeks living in tents. In comparison our life seems pretty easy and we may still sometimes forget to thank our Father or let words of anything but praise come out of our mouths.

This month of reading our Bible lessons has really encouraged me to be a person who is more grateful and who guards her mouth more. I pray we do so with a joyful and happy heart that thanks our Father for our blessings and that we remember to, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is Yahweh’s will for you in Yahshua Messiah,” 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

by: Jessica Mansager

cleancuisineunleavenedfeasting

Clean Cuisine – Unleavened Feasting

This is a good time to start considering the necessary prepa­rations for the Feast of Unleavened Bread (April 15-21). Readiness begins first with introspection as we search our­selves and humbly seek to rid our lives of the leaven of rebellion and disobedience. Next, we are to rid our homes of all leavening. In other words, it is time for spring cleaning. Women here at our assembly have offered several suggestions: be sure to clean under beds and couch cushions, inside drawers, cabinets, refrigerators, freezers, and even toasters – anywhere that crumbs may be hid­ing. Some have suggested cleaning out the car, as well. Throw out all leavened products, such as baking soda, baking powder, yeast, breads, crackers, cakes, and cookies. A more extensive list of leav­ening agents may be found at the yrm.org website at the Online Resources tab. It’s a good idea to carefully check the labels on the packaged or processed foods found on your shelves.

So, you may rightly ask, what is there available to eat instead? Planning a week’s worth of meals without leavened breads, rolls, cookies and cakes need not be as challenging as it seems. Most of the foods we eat everyday contain no leavening whatsoever. Lean meats, vegetables and fruits with or without rice or pasta can be combined into any number of dishes that are satisfying. Many va­rieties of sauces will add interest and flavor to everything. Soups and stews make hearty one-dish meals. Want crackers in your soup? Triscuits are the only crackers I know that contain no leav­ening and they are tasty with soup or topped with cheese or peanut butter. Craving a sandwich? Roll fillings into lettuce leaves in­stead of bread slices or make your own unleavened flatbread. For dessert, substitute pies for cake this week, or have baked apples, puddings…the list is long. Of course, there are numerous unleav­ened bread, cake and cookie recipes online. Following are two recipes that you may want to try out this year:

CHAPATI FRY BREAD – submitted by Jennifer Folliard

½ cup whole wheat flour

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon salt

¾ cup hot water

2 Tablespoons olive oil

Mix flours, garlic powder and salt in a large bowl. Add water and oil, stirring well. Turn onto a floured surface and knead about 12 times. Divide dough into 10 equal balls. Roll each ball into a 6-inch circle.

Heat a nonstick skillet over me­dium heat. Brown each chapati for one minute on each side. Serve warm.

CREAM PUFFS – submitted by Sandy Evans

1 cup boiling water

½ cup butter (1 stick)

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup flour

3 eggs, unbeaten

vanilla pudding

fudge frosting

Add butter and salt to boiling water and stir over medium heat until mixture boils again. Add flour all at once and stir vigorously until the mixture leaves the sides of the pot. Remove from heat and let cool for about 20 minutes. Transfer the cooled flour mixture to a bowl deep enough for mixing. With a mixer, beat in one egg at a time, beat­ing thoroughly after each addition. Using a tablespoon, place dollops on an ungreased cookie sheet – you should have about 14 or 15 dollops/cream puffs. Place in center of a preheated 450° for 20 minutes. Without removing the cream puffs, turn the oven down to 350° and bake for an additional 20 minutes. Remove from oven and remove the cream puffs to a wire rack to cool. Cool thoroughly! When cold, cut the top off of each cream puff and fill with vanilla pudding. Frost the tops with a spoonful of fudge frosting. Refrigerate any not eaten right away.

**You can change fillings or topping of your choice. They taste great filled with chicken or tuna salad.

potroast

The Low Carb Journey Of One Pot Roast or ‘Follow the Bouncing Pot Roast’

I don’t know about you but I love leftovers! You go to all the trouble to make a nice meal for your family, get creative and pour out your expectations of a great din­ner into that beautiful piece of meat, so I say, stretch it out and make it pay.

In my family, I tend to be the one happiest to eat leftovers, so after the first leftover day I don’t feel bad if they become mine alone, and I can always make more if they are clamor­ing.

Day One:

Crockpot takes center stage and I place in it a beautiful few pounds of pot roast (that has been coated with seasonings and seared to perfection), potatoes (got ‘em free in the fall), onions (also free), little carrots scraped of their skins (from our garden), and a couple of pieces of celery, cut artisti­cally even though I know that none will notice… (I also sea­soned and browned the veggies first in some olive oil). Add some beef broth and red wine, set the crockpot to high and leave it to its own simmering medita­tions.

Time to eat! Spoon out the meat and veggies and make gravy with the juices. I am low carb so I add nothing to this and don’t eat very many veggies, just the meat and gravy (made with a little corn starch to thicken). If you are not low carb, add some biscuits or rolls – also a salad. Freeze half of the leftover beef.

Is this the ultimate in good eats or what? Let’s find out what happens next.

Day Two:

Leftovers eaten warmed up and delicious as the first day.

Day Three:

Slice thin some of the roast, make a tzatziki sauce. Saute till caramelly; some onions, add the beef. Warm up a low carb tortilla and place the meat and onion mixture in the middle, add some lettuce shreds and just enough tzatziki to make it wonderfully drippy and not socially acceptable. Thaw out the leftover beef from Day 1.

Oh wow, this may not be a REAL gyro but it is close enough!

Day Four:

Saute some zucchini, onions, mushrooms (if you eat them), red peppers and add half of the thawed beef with some gar­lic and ginger….this is now an oriental dish. Serve hot with soy sauce alone, or if you are not low carb, with some rice or noodles. If you like it hot, add some wasabi or cayenne while heating, or pepper flakes.

Day Five:

Leftover Oriental…what could be better?

Day Six:

Hmmm am I tired of this dish? A little, but what to do?

Make a cheese sauce!

Since I didn’t spice mine up too much on the first day, I can make one new life of this seemingly eternal pot roast. Make a low carb cheese sauce (which by the way, is so easy it is ridiculous – heavy whipping cream, heated till bubbly and reduced slightly, add grated cheddar or your favorite cheese, voila!).

Warm some stir fried veggies and meat, add some frozen broccoli. Pour cheese sauce over the top……did I mention that I love cheese sauce?

That made two servings so tomorrow I will eat the last serving myself and congratulate myself on being thrifty.

Day Seven:

I feel loved (by my past self) and fed as I eat the last of the cheese covered leftovers and wonder, what else can I stretch to perfection?

by: Gayle Bonato