Saturday, March 24, 2012

Are you a Christian who is "Team Edward"?

I have to say that I really enjoyed the Twilight books.  I understand that, as a Christian, they are not the best books I can read, but sometimes in the midst of theology, devotionals and study I like to read a good, fun, fictional book.   Non-fiction books usually take me several weeks to finish, but because I do not have to “think” about what I’m reading when I read fiction, fiction books take me only a few days.  I read the entire Twilight trilogy in about a week.  

First, I want to say that I know it is fiction.  There is no vampire out there named Edward and gigantic werewolf named Jacob.  I don’t believe in vampires just like I don’t believe that you can walk into a magical wardrobe and be taken to a land called Narnia.  But, sometimes fiction has its place and I don’t believe it is a sin to read a fiction book.  There are many fiction books out there that can have great impact on us.  One book that comes to mind is “Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers.  In her book she focuses on Hosea in the bible.  It can have a huge impact on a young woman who has been sexually abused or needs to understand she can be forgiven and start anew if she did not stay pure until marriage.  The Twilight books are not Christian books.  I understand that too.  If you know a teenage girl or young woman that has read them we can use Edward as a tool to help them understand that there is One out there that is so much better than Edward and He is not fiction and also longs to be with you forever.
I believe that we should emphasize to our teen girls that Edward has some attractive qualities.  He loves Bella and would do anything for her, he is romantic, and he exhibits self-control (with anger and physical desires).  He cares about Bella’s purity and is adamant that they wait until marriage.  Edward also loves his family and is even kind to his enemies (Jacob), but we need to show our girls that Jesus has qualities that are way beyond the qualities of Edward and He is a real person.  Jesus is the man we should yearn to spend time with, not a fiction 19-year-old who is already fictionally married to a girl named Bella.  I know all the teen girls reading this just rolled their eyes.  Just stick with me for a few more minutes.

I have a younger sister who I know is “Team Edward”, just like me.  :o)  But, unlike me she is single and searching for a boyfriend who may one day become her husband.  So, I’m a little worried that she may be trying to find someone like Edward instead of someone like Jesus.  Not because there is no Edward out there, but because if she does find someone that she thinks is like Edward (without the vampire qualities of course) she is up for a bunch of disappointment if he is not also like Jesus.   No earthly man is perfect.  I’m married to a wonderful Christian man and I will admit he’s not perfect, but he is a blessing from the Lord to me and he does want to be more like Jesus every day.  I prayed on my knees for a husband and asked God to give me someone that loved Jesus and who strived to be like Christ every day and that is the man he is. He might not be as romantic as Edward, but romance is not as important to me as a heart of integrity, self-control, a fear of God and love of Jesus Christ.  If God provides us someone that strives to be more like Jesus then our marriage should continue to prosper.  We will have rough times, but if our mate loves Jesus more than us I believe that God will bring us through it.  Also, another benefit of having a relationship with Jesus first is even though Jesus is a man once we marry we still get to keep Him as our best friend.  So, it is a win win!
Now, I don’t think that there is anything wrong with praying for a man that has qualities like Edward, but his number one quality needs to be that he loves the Lord.  If he doesn’t love the Lord then you don’t want him.  Believe me; I went through much heartache before I realized this.  I’m speaking from experience.   Until I realized that I needed to have a daily relationship with Jesus and I need to look for that in my mate as well everything turned to turmoil and heartache.  I know why a broken heart is called a “broken” heart and I don’t ever want to experience that kind of pain again.  Girls, while you are waiting make Jesus your best friend.  Jesus can do anything Edward can do and He can do it better!  

In the Twilight books Edward is a 19-year-old immortal who can read minds (except for Bella’s), he drinks blood (he is a vampire remember), he is loving, he “sparkles” when in the sunlight, he is self-sacrificing (he would die to save Bella) and he wants to spend as much time with Bella as he can.  He even watches her when she sleeps (he doesn’t need to sleep).  Who wouldn’t want a man like that?

Now, let’s talk about why Jesus is so much better than Edward.  One obvious reason is, Jesus is a real live person and Edward is fiction.  Let’s pretend Edward is real.  Edward is immortal and we can live with him forever.  Yes, that is true, but he can be killed by other vampires or werewolves and he did try to get himself killed to save Bella (self-sacrificing).  So, technically, he’s not immortal.  Jesus Christ is truly immortal.  He cannot die.  He is also self-sacrificing, but not just for you, but for all who believe in Him.  He came to earth as a baby, was crucified as a man for our sins, died and rose again to live forever in his resurrected body.  It is a real fleshly body as there is proof in the New Testament that many saw him in the flesh.  He cannot be killed and is with us forever.  Which means, he will always be with us and if we (and our future spouse) believe that He died for our sins we can be with him forever also.   All as immortal beings with resurrected bodies.  And we don’t have to worry about vampires or werewolves coming after us to kill us.

Edward drinks blood in order to survive - albeit animal blood, as he is a “vegetarian” in the book and does not rely on human blood, but he does need to hunt in order to survive.  I wouldn’t say that this is a “good” quality of course, but I wanted to compare Edward’s need for survival with the blood that Jesus provides.  Jesus doesn’t take blood, but He shed his blood freely for our sins.  He doesn’t need blood to survive, but gave His blood to us as a gift for our forgiveness and survival of our earthly death.  

You are probably thinking, “Well, Edward can read minds!”, but Jesus can read minds too!  I’m pretty sure if Bella was real He could read hers too.  So, this means that you can speak with Jesus without ever having to talk out loud.  I think this is a pretty cool relationship.  He knows all the desires of your heart without you ever having to open your mouth and tell Him!  He also wants to give you those desires (Psalm 37:4).

When Edward walked into the sunlight he sparkled like diamonds.  Yes, that sounds pretty cool, but Jesus is the light (John 8:12).  So, he doesn’t even have to walk into the sunlight to sparkle.  He is the light and He is the light of the world (John 9:5).

Lastly, Edward cared about Bella’s purity.  Jesus also cares that you wait until marriage, but so much more.  He cares so much that He gave his Holy Spirit to us to help us remain pure until He provides us a husband to share our desires with.  He knows how important it is that you do not bring past relationships with you (in your mind and heart – and sometimes baggage) into your marriage.  Believe me; in a dating relationship you will need the Holy Spirit.  My husband and I only dated for 9 months before marriage, but it was a daily struggle and we had to pray that we would have the strength to wait.  I’m so glad that God gave me someone with self-control because without his self-control (and the Holy Spirit’s help) I don’t think that we could’ve waited until our wedding night.  Also, this one thing means so much to me because I saw how much my husband struggled to remain pure with me and I know now that we are married I know I can trust him.  If he came into a situation with another woman and was tempted I believe he would have a lot more self-control than some men and that means a lot to me.  If you are a girl/woman that has not waited until marriage Jesus Christ provides forgiveness.  Just ask him to make you a new woman and to forgive you for your impurity, but also ask Him to be with you and help you to stay strong until marriage.  Unfortunately, because there are consequences of our sin, He does not wipe away your memories of past sins.  You will have to take those with you into your marriage, but God can help those memories to be not so often. That is one of the reasons why God wants us to stay pure for our future spouse because He understands what those memories can do to our soul and our marriage.  Remember, you can always pray for help.

As woman, we long for perfect love, but there is no perfect love aside from our relationship with Jesus Christ.  Instead of being “Team Edward” we should be “Team Jesus”.  That is where we will find the perfect love that our heart desires.  My prayer is that my sister (and all young girls and single women) will develop her relationship with Jesus, pray for the qualities she would like to see in her future husband and that God will provide her a godly man.  It is the desire of my heart.  Jesus loves you more than you will ever know and he needs to be your “Edward”.   Will you let Jesus be your Edward?

I found this T-shirt online and I might just have to get one.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Where Have You Been All My Life? I'm in Love!

If you are the sole cook in your household or even if you cook every once in awhile you will want to read this post!  I have a new kitchen appliance and I want to share its AMAZINGNESS!  

I've been wanting a pressure cooker, but I wasn't sure if I wanted to try using my pressure "canner" as a "cooker" first or if I wanted to spend the money to buy a new pressure cooker.  One of my hesitations with using my pressure canner was that it is huge and also because we have an old stove and it is really a pain to get it up to pressure and keep it at a set pressure.  Well, my wonderful mother introduced me to the "Electric Pressure Cooker".  The best part is that I won't have to use our electric stove. The electric pressure cooker has its own heating element!  Initially, she purchased the Montel Williams model from a TV shopping network, but it did not live up to its promises so she sent it back.  She was able to make a few recipes, but it would not hold pressure after the first few times she used it.
So, we both did some research and found the Cuisinart Electric Pressure Cooker.  While I was helping her research I was falling in love with all of the great reviews.  Since I had a gift card with Amazon I decided to purchase one for me and I bought her one for her birthday!  

So far, it is everything I had hoped for.  Tonight, I decided that since I had a pork shoulder that I would try to make the pulled pork recipe in the book that came with it and try making potato salad using potatoes and eggs cooked in the cooker.  Since I waited until after work I really needed to hurry or dinner would be too late so it was a great opportunity to see how fast this PC really is.

Normally, I put whole red potatoes onto boil and I have to keep checking them to see if they are done enough, but not too much.  It takes between 25-30 minutes.  They have to be that perfect medium or the potato salad won't be perfect.  So, I threw a bunch of whole potatoes into the PC with 1 cup of water and set it on high for 7 minutes.  YES!  I said 7 minutes!  Now, it does take the cooker a little bit of time to get up to pressure before it starts the countdown, but I can set it and walk away.  Then, when I hear the beep telling me it is done I can go check on it.  So, I was able to go back to my desk and continue to work until they were finished.

As you can see from the picture above they turned out perfect.  There is water in the bottom still, but you can't see it in the picture.  Kevan and I like the peelings on our potatoes so I don't remove them, but if you don't like the peelings they came off VERY easily.  See pic below....I peeled this one a little bit and it was coming right off. 

So, if you were following.  This took 7 minutes to cook them (plus the time to get it up to pressure), but I could work and didn't have to check on them that entire time!  A little longer and we could've had mashed potatoes (although, my hubby doesn't like them).

My mom gave me the tip last week that eggs cooked in the PC come out PERFECT as hard boiled eggs.  No struggling to get the shell off.  It FALLS off.  The steam gets under the little skin between the shell and the egg and it just falls right off.  Here is a picture of the eggs after I cooked them.  I put them in with 1 cup of water for 8 minutes.  The conventional way takes me about 25 minutes.

I used eggs from our friend who raises organic pastured hens.  As you can see from the picture below they came out perfect and the wonderful orange yolks are because they are from pasture raised hens and not store bought.  One note though - if you are taking them somewhere as deviled eggs or some other egg dish you may consider using white eggs.  Because mine were brown they had a little brown tinge to them, but I can live with it!  You can barely tell.

Now, for the pulled pork.  I followed the recipe in the book.  Normally, when I cook pulled pork in the crockpot it takes all day long and uses energy all day.  Or we make it in the smoker and it also takes at least 6 hours or so and we have to constantly check on it to see how it is doing and spraying it with cider vinegar.  I forgot to take a picture of the pulled pork during the process so I will just explain.  

The PC has a few settings - Brown, Saute and Simmer.  The book said to cut it and then brown it in oil using the brown setting (taking turns with each piece) until they were all done.  I only cut my 2.5 pound meat in half.  I think I should've cut it into fourths because I had to cook it a little longer.  Anyway, after browning it (it took about 5 minutes).  Then, I put all the meat in the cooker with some cider vinegar, a little brown sugar, salt and pepper.  I put it on high for 45 minutes.  I finished making the potato salad then went back to work again and did not check on it until the buzzer went off.  Then, I removed the meat, kept 1/2 cup of the liquid that was left....put it all back in the PC with 2 cups of our favorite BBQ sauce and put it back on for 5 more minutes.  Dinner was done!

Also, after each item was done in the PC I used the quick release option to release the pressure.  I'm impatient and don't like to wait.  :o)  It worked great.


Potatoes - 7 minutes
Eggs - 8 minutes
Meat - 45 minutes plus 5 minutes

So, in a little over an hour we had this for dinner.  keep in mind that I didn't have to stay in the kitchen while it was cooking. I was probably only in the kitchen "doing something" for 35 minutes.  The rest I was just waiting in my office for it to finish.  I made the whole wheat buns earlier in the week from fresh ground wheat berries.  :o)

I don't know how I lived this long without it!

I do want to say one more thing.  This pulled pork was very good, but we do prefer it being cooked in the smoker since it gets a nice crunchy coating on it.  So, I will probably continue to smoke it, but this is a great alternative.

I shared my post on Tammy's Recipe Site for Kitchen Tip Tuesdays.  Tammy has a wonderful site full of tips and recipes.  I have made several of her recipes and they have all turned out great.