A Good Cry


Have you ever heard anyone say, “I had a good cry?” You may ask, “Whats good about crying?” More than you might think! The Bible contains 68 references to the word “wept” and 35 to “tears.” Psalm 139:14 states “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works.” Our loving Abba Yahweh never does or makes anything without a wise reason!

Crying really can be good for us and it is natural to cry for various reasons. Of course we all know that “self-control” (temperance) is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:23),  so I am not talking here about forced or manipulative crying, but crying that happens in our lives for natural reasons.

How do we really know that crying is natural and good for us? We know from Bible Scriptures and from scientific research, as well.

The Bible tells us about different people crying for different reasons.  John 11:35 – often quoted as “the shortest verse in the Bible” – states simply “Yahshua wept.” Peter cried with bitter regret, upon realizing he had denied his teacher and Messiah, and Yahshua had told him that he would do this; “And Peter called to mind the word that Yahshua said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept”(Mark 14:72). When brothers Jacob and Esau reunited after almost 20 years of separation, weeping was a very natural thing for both of them; “And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept” (Gen 33:4).

Another example of weeping is found in the book of Esther. Queen Esther came before king Ahasuerus, after the hanging of Haman. “And Esther spake yet again before the king, and fell down at his feet, and besought him with tears to put away the mischief of Haman the Agate and his device that he had devised against the Jews” (Esther 8:3). These tears were natural after all of the fasting and stress she had just gone through with her people, and so crying came naturally in this situation and not in any way as a manipulative tool. (Incidentally, I personally believe that if she did not feel loved by her husband the king, natural tears like this would have been heldback).

So just what is “the science behind tears”? In Psychology Today (July 27, 2010), Judith Orloff, MD, wrote about “the healing power of tears” and how they purge and help heal the body from stress, fatigue and pain. It may – or may not! – surprise you to know that humans are the only creatures who do this! In fact, our bodies produce three different kinds of tears: Reflex, Continual and Emotional tears.

Reflex tears are produced automatically to clear out dust particles and exhaust from our eyes. They are also the kind you cry when you chop onions! Continual (or “Basal”) tears contain the chemical “Lysozyme” which is anti-bacterial, helping to protect our eyes from infections. This chemical also “drips” down to our sinuses on occasion, via our tear ducts, to keep our nose moist and free from bacteria.

Emotional tears, though, have extra benefits for our overall mental health and well-being: Dr. Wm Frey, sometimes called the “tear expert” at Ramsey Medical Center in Minneapolis, discovered that these tears contain stress hormones and toxins that accumulate during stressful times in our lives, which are released upon crying. Additional studies have shown that crying also stimulates our bodies to produce extra endorphins – often referred to as “the feel good hormone.” Is it any wonder, then, that contained in the Bible are both of the following verses?! “I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears” (Psalms 6:6), and “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.” (Psalms 126:5). Some other interesting facts discovered by Frey indicate that both boys and girls cry about the same amount – up until the age of about 12, and that women cry about four times as often as men. There is no reason to “compare” the two, for our loving Abba Yahweh made us different for very wise reasons, and comparing is not wise! “Comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” (2 Cor 10:12b).

Have you ever noticed that on those occasions when you cry during prayer, you feel so relieved and good afterwards? There is more than one Bible verse that indicates crying while praying. Note this one; “Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;” followed by “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered” (Heb 5:7-8). What a beautiful and perfect example to us!

Whether you are a woman or a man, never be ashamed of natural tears; they’re good for you! Be reassured also, that your Beautiful Creator Yahweh does notice every single tear you cry! “Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book? When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for Elohim is for me.” (Psalms 56:8-9).

During this life here and now on earth for us, Ecclesiastes 3:4 tells us that there is “A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;” And for that time in the future that we long and hope for, Isaiah 25:8 tells us that, “He will swallow up death in victory; and my Sovereign Yahweh will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for Yahweh hath spoken it.”


By Melodie Illgen

Walking With Strength

When I look at all the young fathers and mothers in the Assembly, I can’t help realizing how blessed their children are to have parents in the Faith. Some of these parents have known Yahweh all their lives. Watching these young couples walk in strength of their Faith in everything they do is a joy. Their support of one another through all the problems of life is exemplary as they guide their families toward the Kingdom of Yahweh.

Other mothers and fathers come into the Faith later in life, sometimes as a family and sometimes by themselves. As they work to overcome sin themselves, they also are teaching their children Yahweh’s ways and commandments. Learning Yahweh’s ways brings happiness to families if they allow His will, forgiveness, and mercy to be their everyday guide.

To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die…” Ecc. 3:1-2. How true are these words of the Preacher.

The loss of our fathers this past year still brings tears to both my husband and me, as our thoughts and memories drift to the time when they were here with us. Our fathers were different in so many ways, but similar in their strength. Not just the physical strength when they were younger but also their resolve to never give up. Even in their later years they kept going till they could go no more. Their attitude of never giving up, no matter what, has touched each one in our families.

Don’t ever give up! Stay strong, work hard for Yahweh and for your family and for the brethren around you. There will be trials and everyday problems. Nevertheless, continue as a guide and example for your children, showing them how to persevere. Your children watch you in what you do, say, and act. If you say one thing and do another they’ll do exactly what you do! You will also lose their respect.

When I was a young mother I thought I had all the answers on discipline. Wow, did I have a lot to learn. It was hard for me to watch my husband discipline our little toddler at first and I would come to the rescue. Guess what? It didn’t take long before our child started playing one of us off against the other. We learned quickly to stand united as a couple, even if we didn’t agree with the other’s way of discipline at that time. We would discuss it later behind closed doors, but never in front of the children, I also realized when my husband stepped in the children listened.My husband showed our children amazing love in the way he disciplined.

He was calm, never disciplining in anger. He listened to them and discussed with them what they did wrong. He helped decide restitution, he was fair in punishment, and most of all he reassured them that they were deeply loved and because of that, correction was necessary. It hurt my children’s feeling when they knew their father was disappointed in them, even more than the actual punishment. There were always lots of hugs and smiles afterwards and most of all, respect.


Another strength yoWalking In strengthu might need to find deep within you, due to difficulty with a strong-willed child, is let your “yes” be “yes,” and your “no” be “no” just as the Word says. When your child comes running to you, asking for something, consider your response before you answer. Don’t say “no” and then give in and say “yes.” If you do you have just taught your child that wearing you down will get him what he wants. He will also learn that “no” doesn’t really mean “no.”

It’s okay to say “no,” but let them know why. Maybe they misbehaved that week or maybe what they want to have isn’t good for them, etc. Remember, this goes both ways. Don’t forget to say “yes” sometimes too, especially when you want to reward their good behavior. Be consistent and be strong! Your children will love and respect you for it.

Yahweh’s powerful example is His love for His Son. Let Yahweh’s strength, love, mercy, and correction that He showed us guide you with strength to teach your children the way they must go so they do not depart from Him or you…

by: Margie Mansager

Should believers eat meat?

Cows and Compassion (Should we eat meat?)

Cows and Compassion (Should we eat meat?)

“Then Yahweh said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our like­ness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground’.” Genesis 1:26

This morning, before grabbing my jacket to head outside, I looked out the window to see my cows patiently waiting for me at the feed tubs. Despite the big bale of hay by the fence and the newly emerged springtime grass, they are always eager to dine on grain. Sometimes they almost seem human in their understanding and acceptance of how things are. Watching them over the years, I have seen them express grief after losing a calf, curiosity as a cat ventures close, sadness when one of the herd leaves, boredom when left alone, fear when I’ve lost my temper and yelled at them, and anger when they’ve been wronged somehow. They babysit each other’s calves and console one another when sick or bereaved. And, even though I’ve had them dehorned, ear-tagged, and vaccinated and then proceeded to steal their milk and send their calves off to the meat processor, they still look at me with a measure of trust. What beautiful, gentle and compassionate creatures they are!

So, you may rightly ask, how can I eat beef? Many question the practice of killing animals for food. In fact, some are so repulsed by the idea of eating meat that they will only eat a vegetarian diet. Was mankind meant to consume only a plant-based diet? Often, Genesis 1: 29-30 is used in support of this viewpoint: “Then Yahweh said, I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground – everything that has the breath of life in it – I give every green plant for food. And it was so.” A further reading of the scriptures, however, clarifies that there is no plant-only diet directive.

“Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to Yahweh. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. Yahweh looked with favor on Abel and his offering…” (Genesis 4:2-4). Why did Abel have flocks if not for food and why did he offer the choicest portions to Yahweh if eating meat was forbidden?

As Noah entered the Ark he was told to take seven of every kind of clean animal but only two of every kind of unclean animal (Genesis 7: 2). Why would there have been a distinction between clean and unclean animals were they not used for food? When the floodwaters receded and Noah, his family, and all the creatures came out of the ark, the first thing Noah did was to build an altar and sacrifice “some of the clean animals and clean birds” to Yahweh (Genesis 8:20).

Just before leaving Egypt, when the first Passover was instituted, Moses and the Israelites were commanded to slaughter a lamb, smear its blood on their doorposts, and roast it over a fire. Later, as they wandered in the desert, the Israelites were given specific instructions for building the Tabernacle, the Ark and the Altar for burnt offerings. Not only did Yahweh instruct them in the timing and purpose of animal sacrifices, but also went on tell the Israelites how to prepare the animals and which parts to eat.

The animal sacrifices performed by Abel, Noah, and Moses all foreshadowed the sacrifice of the Messiah, the Lamb who would take away the sins of the world. It was an act of faith. The sacrificial animals were to be blemish free, or perfect, as was our Savior. The killing of the innocent mirrored His blamelessness. And, just as the meat was necessary for the physical body to live, Yahshua’s sacrifice was necessary for the spiritual body to live.

But, even though mankind was given dominion over the animals and allowed to use them for food, he was not given permission to torment them. Then, as now, farmers had a special relationship with their herds as they fed, watered, nursed and protected them. Yahweh’s directive, “Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk,” Exodus 23:19 was a reminder to use compassion in our treatment of His creatures. Cattle, sheep, and goats roamed outside, grazing on green pastures in the fresh air. An animal was consumed only upon special occasions and the slaughter was done quickly and expertly.Compassion, Meat

How different we find the production of meat and dairy products today! Many animals are raised on bleak feedlots, wandering around in manure with little or no access to grass or even sunlight. The production lines of large slaughterhouses cannot ensure that each animal is killed quickly and humanely. Chickens may live their whole lives caged up in smelly, overcrowded poultry sheds to insure that their meat will be tender or that maximum egg production runs smoothly. Surely, Yahweh cannot be pleased with mankind’s treatment of His creatures.

The stark reality is that if one eats meat, an animal had to die. This truth is hard to swallow and it is preferable to ignore this fact while munching on a juicy cheeseburger. How is it possible to reconcile the sacrifice of an animal for food with our desire to be good caretakers of that which Yahweh has created?

Cut down on your meat consumption. Most of the people in the world did not and do not eat meat every day. Use meat sparingly, as a condiment rather than the main course and eat meatless meals several times each week. A diet based heavily on meat not only kills more animals, but has been shown to cause many diseases in the consumer as well.

Try to purchase beef or poultry from a local farmer who uses grass-fed or free-range practices instead of the grocery store offerings. Research suggests that grass-fed cattle have 80% less E. coli in their gut systems than their feedlot counterparts. If more people would do this, perhaps the huge feedlots and poultry prisons would cease to exist.

Don’t waste your food. Only fill your plate with as much as you will eat. Much time, effort, and expense went toward your meal. Remind your children and yourself that a life was taken, a sacrifice was made, so that they and you might nourish your bodies.

Remember to give thanks to Yahweh for that which He has provided and show your respect and love for Him by not abusing or taking His gifts for granted.

by: Debbie Reed

how to be frugal

Frugal Times

Frugal Times

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

During the Great Depression of the 1930s and the WWII rationing of the 1940s, our grandparents experienced a shortage of food and other basic goods unknown to most of us living today. Frugality was an accepted way of life, not just a passing fad. The generations born after 1946 have experienced a level of material prosperity inconceivable to our ancestors. As the level of wealth rose, so did the pro­pensity to waste. The pendulum is now swinging in the opposite direction and “the times, they are a changin.” Frugality is becoming a necessity once again.

The kitchen is a good place to start learning the art of frugality. So much of what we throw in the garbage, down the disposal or out in the trash bin can be put to other beneficial uses. Coffee grounds make a great fertilizer sprinkled on the garden. Strawberries, in particular, crave the java jolt. Egg shells also add beneficial nutrients to the soil, but be sure to crush them first since they don’t break down quickly and your garden may end up looking like a hatchery. Egg shell halves can be filled with peat or potting soil for start­ing tomato plants from seeds. Place the “peat pots” into an empty egg carton and set in a sunny window until planting time. Once in the garden, the decomposing eggshell will add calcium to the growiFood Frugalityng tomatoes.

Whenever I cook a whole chicken, the skins go to the dogs, the liv­er, gizzard and heart go to the cats, and the bones go into the stock pot for homemade chicken broth to be used in soups and stews. Beef bones may be done the same way for beef broth. Freeze raw vegetable scraps – celery ends, potato and carrot peelings, onion skins, cabbage stems, shriveled garlic cloves, you name it – and when you have a gallon bag full, cover with water and boil for vegetable stock.

Water in which potatoes have been cooked is also a great soup starter, or, if you prefer, cool it and use as a power drink for your houseplants. Those little dabs of leftover vegetables from dinner can be thrown into a gallon freezer bag to be used later in vegetable soup. If you just haven’t the time for simmer­ing or freezing, throw the vegetable scraps on the garden compost pile and the meat scraps to the birds. The extra fat and protein will keep our feathered friends happy and healthy.

After a shopping trip, instead of throwing out all of those plastic bags, take them to a local charity. Our Clothes Cupboard is always in need of bags for their used clothing sales. Line small trash cans, like those in a bathroom, with plastic bags and they will seldom need scrubbing. If you have a fireplace or wood stove, plastic coated juice cartons, nestled between the logs, make great fire starters. Use newspapers for cleaning mirrors, glass tops and windows – you’ll have no streaks or lint to mar the finish.

There are so many more ways in which we can live more simply and frugally. We must conserve and wisely use that which our Father has given us if we are to be His stewards.

by: Debbie Reed

Manna – What is it?

Manna — What is it?

Manna is what Yahweh fed the Israelites in the wilder­ness for 40 years. In Hebrew manna means “what is it?”. Join us as we take a look at gelatin and learn “what is it?”

What is Kosher?

The word “kosher” is Hebrew for “fit” or “proper”. When applied to food, kosher means the food is acceptable to eat by the biblical standard set in the Torah — the law, or first five books of the Bible — specifically, Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. Foods that are kosher rated have not been made with any unclean animal prod­ucts, and kosher meats have been prepared properly (killed and bled correctly).

Kosher rated foods are also subject to the Jewish oral law (the Mishnah and the Talmud), which include some added laws such as mixing milk and meat. Even though the added Jewish oral laws do not concern us as true worshipers of Yahweh we can still benefit from the kosher standard.

Common Kosher symbols-

Some Kosher symbols may be followed by the following words or letters: K, U, P

Passover indicates it is kosher for Passover. It is sometimes shortened to a P.

Parve refers to food that contains neither meat nor dairy.

Fish indicates it contains fish.

M indicates it contains meat.

And D indicates it contains dairy, or milk product.

What is gelatin?

Gelatin is an ingredient used to make things gel or congeal. Gelatin is derived from collagen that is obtained from horns, hooves, bones and skin of pork, cattle or fish.

Here are a few of the common products that may contain gelatin:

        Gummy candies



        Sour cream and dips

        Nail polish remover

        Medication & Vitamin supplement capsules


Is “kosher” gelatin always acceptable?

Jello-O brand gelatin is labeled with a “K” kosher rating. However according to Kraft, the source of their gelatin can be pork or beef.

According to ouKosher.org –

“Since ‘real’ gelatin is derived from animal sources, it has been the focus of debate for nearly 100 years among leading rabbis. The question is: Can gelatin from non-kosher sources be permit­ted? Although cows that were not ritually slaughtered, and, of course, pigs, are certainly not kosher, some rabbis were lenient in allowing products that had very small amounts of gelatin added. This is because they felt that the gelatin extraction process caused the skins and bones to be sufficiently denatured, to the point that they are no longer considered food.”

Since the “K” rating is not as strict as the OU rating, gelatin de­rived from pork will sometimes receive this “kosher” rating.

While gelatin derived from pork may be acceptable to some Rab­bis, it is not acceptable to Yahweh.

“And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you. Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; they are un­clean to you.” – Leviticus 11:7-8.

“And the swine, because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not the cud, it is unclean unto you: ye shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcase.” – Deuteronomy 14:8.

What are sources for acceptable gelatin?

Beef and kosher fish. Many kosher marshmallows are made with gelatin derived from kosher fish.

Non-animal sources such as agar-agar and carrageenan, are derived from seaweed and pectin.

Clean Cuisine – Wild Spring Greens

Birds are singing …. the sun is shining …. a glimpse of warmth creeps in after a long winter. Looks like it’s time to go outside and gather in some greens. “Gather in greens?!” you might ask

incredulously. You look around, it’s early spring, nothing is growing out there …. or is it?

For many today the thought of gathering in food in preparation for a meal means driving to the grocery store or the local vegetable stand or orchard. For some, a vegetable garden in their backyard helps to provide them with sustenance. But did you know that Yahweh has provided us with physical nourishment that we neither need to plant nor have to go to the corner market to purchase?

This “free” food is in the form of wild greens, herbs, and even flowers—and in the early spring when nothing else is growing, finding these wild “treasures” can be exciting.

One of these greens we’re going to consider here is wild watercress. While watercress can be found in the gourmet sections of some supermarkets, this vegetable also grows in the wild along running streams and creeks. Growing abundantly from mid-Feb­ruary onwards, watercress is best as soon as it appears until it starts to flower sometime in April. High in vitamin K (a vitamin known to help maintain healthy blood clotting), watercress can be cooked as a green or pureed into watercress soup. While cultivated water­cress can be eaten raw in such appetizers as cucumber and water­cress sandwiches, it is generally recommended that this fresh-water vegetable that is found growing in the wild be cooked before being consumed. As we all know, this earth is not as pure and pristine as it once was, and unless you are 100% certain as to the source of the watercourse, wild watercress should not be eaten raw. The water quality of the spring or creek in which it grows is very important since Fasciola Hepatica, also called the “common liver fluke,” is a parasite that can wreak havoc with the liver. Questionable habitats such as irrigation canals, roadside ditches, or city park streams should be avoided. A more ideal place to find wild watercress is in small, running mountain streams.

Another early vegetable to consider is the wild onion. Members of the wild alium family, these spring greens can be found in lawns, fields, and along roadsides. These green onion tops have a mild flavor similar to fresh chives, and can be used in much the same way as you would use cultivated onion tops or chives. There were quite a few occasions that these early greens flavored some scrambled eggs or enhanced a beef kielbasa entree after I discov­ered there were no onions in the pantry and it was too early for the chives to be cut. Early spring is the best time to cut these greens, as they tend to get stringy by summer.


Interestingly, this last wild spring green we are going to consider is regarded by many to be a weed. In fact, some people painstakingly attempt to eradicate this green—the seemingly ubiquitous dan­delion. But for some, this lowly plant offers much in the way of nourishment—from its tender leaves used in a salad, to its yellow flowers used for making wine or sautéed and dipped in batter and fried for fritters, to its gnarled root used as a medicinal tonic.

field of dandelions

The leaves should be picked as early as possible, since by the time the flowers start to appear, these tender greens have already begun to get bitter. These leaves are extremely nutritious, providing more beta-carotene than carrots, as well as a phenomenal content of iron and calcium.

Sometimes dandelion greens are cooked in a small amount of salted water, then drained and added to sautéed onions and garlic and seasoned with salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese. At other times they are fried with garlic in olive oil until wilted and tender-crisp, and then combined with dried fruit or toasted nuts. And yet at other times, these dandelion greens are eaten raw, tossed in a salad with sliced apples, sharp cheese, and toasted walnuts, or with a dressing poured over them.

The dandelion dressing below is much like the one my mother made almost every spring when I was growing up. The sweet/sour dressing helps to overcome the slightly bitter flavor of the dande­lion greens.

Remember to gather any of these greens as early as possible, as they all start developing a bitter flavor the further along in the sea­son that they are harvested. Also remember when picking any wild food, to be absolutely certain they are harvested from areas where pesticides or fertilizers have not been sprayed, or anywhere they could be contaminated with any form of pollutant.  Joyous eating!

Dandelion Salad with Sweet and Sour Dressing

8 slices turkey bacon

2 eggs – beaten

2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup vinegar

1 cup water

2 hard boiled eggs

2 tsp. cornstarch

fresh dandelion greens

Preparation –

Wash the dandelion greens and spin dry. Place the greens in a large serving bowl. Slice the hard boiled eggs. Lay the egg slices on top of the greens. Set aside. Fry the turkey bacon until tender crisp, then break or cut into bits. Set aside. Mix the 2 beaten eggs, vin­egar, salt, sugar, and cornstarch together in a saucepan. Whisk and cook over medium heat until slightly thickened. Stir in the turkey bacon bits. Pour the warm dressing over the salad and serve im­mediately.

by: Debbie Wirl

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