Dec 7, 2014

Why I Stopped Dieting for a Year

Abigail and Dolley readers I have been on a diet since I was 7.  On and off, of course, but for the vast majority of my life I have either been dieting or contemplating the next diet.  The weight struggle is never ending.  Like a gambling addict, I have had some great successes but most have been great failures; the great successes kept me going back for more. I have starved myself, given up entire food groups, counted calories, counted fat, counted carbs, counted fiber, counted points.  I have cleansed and fasted, I have taken medication, and in the last diet gave up wheat, corn, dairy, soy, and even my beloved coffee.  I have punished my body and my mind for not conforming to an ideal it was never made to comfortably be.  So this year, in April, after a particularly grueling diet (for which I lost 3 pounds that I regained while on the diet) I said enough is enough.

I declared that I was not going to diet or get on the scale for a full year.  A full year of not counting anything and not letting the scale determine my self worth.  I began going to a naturalistic doctor who is helping me heal.  I was a bit afraid, all chronic dieters have learned to not trust their own bodies, minds, and instincts.  Would I binge on every cookie and eat a quart of ice cream in one sitting?  I'd done that after a particular "elimination" diet.  To my surprise, I did none of that.

Instead, I eat when I am hungry and I eat what I am hungry for.  I've learned not to over eat because it makes me miserable.  I like fatty food, so instead of avoiding them, I eat a little butter (or as much as I want) and am satiated.  It is a liberating activity to be free to enjoy food and not hate myself for it.  I find that I will crave just the right amount of food for my body.  If I need fruit, the nectarine looks appealing, if I need milk cottage cheese (full fat OMG it is the greatest stuff ever).  When I go to the regular pill writing doctor, I get on the scale backwards and I instruct them not to tell me what I weigh or talk about my weight.

In my current research, I found out that fat isn't bad for you after all.  It turns out milk fat is really good for you.  Cholesterol protects the brain from dementia and that it has nothing to do with heart disease!  All of these things my body instinctively knew, I just chose the "experts" over it.  I chose what society told me to eat and how they told me to look over how God made me.

So, you chronic dieters are wondering, after 8 months, what is your weight doing?  Have you gained a ton?  Have you lost a ton (because if you have then I am going to try THIS new diet, too.)?  Frankly, I don't know.  I'm about the same size that I was 15 years ago.  My clothes still fit the same, I look less swollen, I don't have dark circles under my eyes -  but most of all?  Most of all, I am at ease with food for the first time in my life.  I don't know what I will do when April rolls around, maybe I will go on another diet just to give it a shot or maybe, just maybe, I will have learned to love myself the way that I was made and continue on this grand adventure.

What to eat, what to not eat, does not rule me.  I barely even think about food any longer.  I have freed myself of a bondage that has held me in its grip since I was a kid.  Now, if I could only bring myself to go buy some nice clothes that actually fit, I will declare victory.  One step at a time!

Nov 29, 2014

Red, Chartreuse, Gold Christmas Tree

This year's Christmas Tree has a warm theme.  My trees are normally cool colors but this year we went primarily with red.  The ribbons are wired and secured with floral wire.  Enjoy!


Nov 26, 2014

Heaven is for Real Movie Review

Abigail and Dolley readers last evening I settled down to watch "Heaven is for Real".  I came away with mixed emotions about the film.  Like much Christian entertainment these days it is Laodicean in it's theology, neither hot nor cold and thus unpalatable. There were times during the latter half of the film that I wondered if these folks on the screen were even Christians!  The total lack of Biblical understanding filled me with consternation and in the end serves no one.

We are so "seeker friendly" that we don't tell seekers the truth!  Afraid to offend and drive off anyone, we soft sell their eternal destiny so we don't hurt their feelings or make them uncomfortable.  This is dangerous theology friends.  "Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'

There are some positive elements to the film.  I enjoyed the depiction of a believable Christian family.  The husband and wife have a real marriage, with tenderness, struggles, compassion, and physical affection.  The family sings bible songs in the car and then rocks out to Queen in the next breath.  Financial pressures are real and so is compassion for people going through difficult times.  People of faith suffer in this life, the pastor broke his leg and then subsequently suffered terribly with kidney stones.  The depiction of this suffering rang true.  The fellowship of the church body at the beginning of the film is heart warming, it shows a true caring Christian family.  The call to prayer when Colton was sick and in the hospital brought me to tears.  To see the Body of Christ respond as intercessors before the Lord was powerful.  The first half of the film was fantastic.

The second half?  Not so much.  Filled with real questions about belief, the Pastor and his congregation go through a seeking journey that is more suited to those who have never believed in Christ.  This journey is fine and necessary for those who have not professed Christ as their Savior but is troubling in this context because what in the world do these people believe?  They seem to struggle with basic doctrine, what is salvation and how do we achieve it?  Is the Word of God true and correct?  Do we actually believe in Christ or is this just a social club?

The scene at the graveyard is particularly troublesome.  The pastor tells the grieving mother that he has nothing for her.  He admits that he did not say or do anything to comfort her at the death of her 19 year old son.  What?  It isn't difficult, this is Christianity 101 and these folks are treating it like it is a deep mystery.

I surmise they had a Believer direct the first part of the film and a Seeker the second.  A moving film in the beginning had my brow furled in the end.  Instead of clearly presenting the truth of the Gospel which is in order to go to Heaven you must confess your sins, accept the death, resurrection, and atonement of the death of Christ for your sins.  You must accept that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and ask Him into your heart and your life.  There is no other way to the Father except through the Son.  That is straight up truth and it isn't complicated.  Instead, the film says to the seeker that God loves us and that is enough to get us into Heaven.  If that were true then why did Jesus have to die?

I must conclude, that indeed "Heaven is for Real" but this movie and it's theology are not.

Nov 18, 2014

Bias Check

Recently, I have begun a mental exercise that has proven quite enlightening.  The exercise is about finding my own bias.  We all have a worldview and critical thinking demands that we understand this in ourselves and others.  We are passionate about things we care about - plain and simple.  If there is an injustice against someone or something we value then we are more apt to give that situation weight.  If we inherently do not like the person or the cause, even if the same injustice occurs, we will not feel the same.  A well balanced person, must recognize this in themselves.

Brit Hume, the Washington Journalist, was the first person I ever heard speak about media bias in a way that made it seem less insidious.  Check out this video, it gives you the gist of his take on this issue:

So here's the exercise:  If I read a headline or the major issue of the day, I reverse the characters in the story.  If I still care about it then I recognize that the outrage is justified, if I become more apathetic then I realize it is my own bias kicking in.

I invite you to do the same, I think if all of us begin to think critically, without our inherent bias about right and wrong we may begin to make progress.  Here are some examples:

Lena Dunham is someone I find quite repellent under normal circumstances, she recently wrote a book and conservatives were in an uproar about some of the stories she told about her sister.  I was completely grossed out.  I used my bias trick and substituted Bristol Palin, who is someone I view in a positive light.  When I did that, I was still creeped out but did not view it with the vehemence I did when it was someone that I disagreed with.

I inherently do not care for President Obama.  When I hear a story about him that makes me crazy, I substitute Ronald Reagan in the story to see if I still care.  Most of the time, I can catch my party bias this way.  

At the end of the day, we are all biased.  We all approach circumstances or stories with our own preconceived notions of what is right and what is wrong.  We care about things that are important to us, this is perfectly all right but we must be honest with ourselves, we must critically think, we must look at ourselves with true glasses.  If we do this, we obtain a self awareness sorely lacking in Reality TV America.
  

Nov 2, 2014

Magic

Abigail and Dolley readers I have always loved magical stories.  As a child, I ate up Patricia Coombs, Dorrie the Little Witch books.  I was an avid fan of Betwitched and I Dream of Jeannie, stories of fantasy sparked my imagination and I knew that if I just thought happy thoughts that I was going to fly like Wendy in Peter Pan.  I went through the wardrobe with CS Lewis and fought trolls with the Hobbit.  As an adult, I fell in love with Harry Potter.  In the last few years, my favorite stories are from the Outlander series which has element of mystery and magic.  If I am honest, my vision of Heaven gives me some cool powers like flying or touching a plant and making it grow.  I see magic in the world, I see magic in my God but we are forbidden from witchcraft, sorcery, and divination, so I have always struggled with this part of me that just loves magic.

God doesn't deal in falsehoods so His prohibition against such things by the very nature of the prohibition tells me that this stuff is real.  In the end, my fantasy magic is just that, fantasy.  Real magic, real witches, real divination - well that's something all together different.  Those practices, whether the practitioner will admit or not, are grounded in evil.  So, if we stay away from the real thing I am not going to sweat it too much that I like the tales.

I have to admit though, certain times during magical tales I think, "Man, they need to pray."  Because in the end there doesn't seem to be room for God in these tales.  There is a scene in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix where Mr. Weasley is critically injured.  In the book, they are fretting and pacing and worrying but they are not praying - that struck me.  I've read some fantasy romances where they are fighting evil but they are not fighting with the only weapon we are given, the Word.  NBC has a new show, Contantine, and there is such a twisted theology abounding in the story it's hard to watch.  How do you fight the devil without the Lord?
Several authors have written great books that capture the magic from the Christian worldview.  This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness by Frank Peretti changed my life, by changing the way that I viewed everything.  Ted Dekker has written some great thrillers, Blink being one of my favorite to demonstrate the power of prayer.  There is magic all around us, there is power in our prayers and we DO serve a supernatural God.  We need not exchange the counterfeit for the real, I just wish there was more real well done stuff in the market.

Oct 25, 2014

The Hectic Life of a Sports Family

Abigail and Dolley readers, today let's talk about something touchy, sports.   (Take a little ride with me, this is a not an attack on anyone but more of a dramatized tale.  Just pretend that I am the "Ghost of Christmas Present".  Even if your experience is not this extreme, perhaps you can find some truth in the below.)  Sports... the great American pastime, it evokes images of camaraderie, cheering spectators, and life's lessons learned on the ball field.  Just good plain fun, but is that the honest truth in today's world?  An idealized view of modern sports drive behavior and decision making in American families.  We maniacally throwing our children into one activity after the next, all in pursuit of a sports fantasy.  For countless families, the reality is far from fantastic.

In the not so distant past, kids played a variety of different sports.  Sports had seasons and kids moved from one season to another, not settling on a single sport until their late high school years, if ever.  This variety taught them different skill sets, types of movement, tempos, and paces.  Multiple sports insured kids had different friends, coaches, and experiences. Sports were a balanced part of a well rounded childhood, where the family did not revolve around the child or his activities. Today, it is widely believed and practiced that parents should select their "kid's sport" by age eight.  Once chosen, then the wholehearted investment, commitment/pressure, and expenses begin.  These kids embark on a journey of conditioning seasons during the heat of the Summer, special camps, travel teams, year round sports, clinics, personal trainers, and position coaches - for ten year olds.

Let's consider the time.  Public school demands more time from your child's life than ever before - 38 hours a week from bus ride to bus ride + homework.  Then we drag these kids to hours of sports practices and games.  Frazzled moms yell at tired kids to do their homework on the one hour commute to the "away" game and not get fast food mustard on the seat.  Are you tired yet?  Wait, there's more.  Now multiply this scenario by the number of kids, who play different sports, have different practice times, and different locations.  Mom takes one kid and Dad takes the other.  Other relatives are recruited and this insanity bleeds over into households that don't even have children.   Add in Scouts, Dance, Music, and Art because they need to be well rounded.  The truth is we try to give our kids everything that we wanted and didn't get.  Recently, I overheard a lady comment to a boy, "Where've you been, Justin?  We haven't seen you in weeks."  The young boy shook his head, sighed, and said, "I've had 11 games in the last 14 days."  This conversation took place as the 7th grade Junior Cotillion class that was dismissing at 8:30 pm.   That 12 year old boy had put in a 13 hour day and I'd bet he still had homework.

So we've got time and hectic schedules, now top this off with money... the cost of a single season on an elite soccer travel team in my community is $3000 plus equipment, plus all travel expenses.  Even church recreation leagues are $200 for a short 6 week game season.  The more elite the team, the more money, time, and commitment are required.  The family budget suffers tremendously for this pursuit.

The kids are having a great time, right?  Really? Even when the kids are enjoying themselves and the rigorous schedules, this lifestyle is having a negative effect on them. Consider this, scientists are now discovering their physical development is stunted by some single sport training. Concussion risks and long term neurological damage have gotten press in recent years but the full extent of the problem and the long term consequences are far underestimated.  What a single concussion does to the developing brain of an eleven year old could be catastrophic.  In our society we demand more:  more school, more games, more practice and something has to give.  In the end, it's often adequate rest.  Our frantic children are chronically sleep deprived which effects their mental, physical, and emotional health.

Well, it all worth it in the end, right?  The games are so much fun for everybody, right? Maybe, but here's a cast of characters that can be found at just about any field or gym in America.  First, let's talk about "Pinterest" Team Mom who makes up goody snack bags that are adorned with handcrafted curlicue personalize tags for each player.
There is the maniacal crazy Mom screaming at the coach, her kid and yours, and the referee.  Don't forget the over zealous team Dad running down the sidelines coaching his kid along the way.  Then, there is the berating parent, who humiliates his kid in front of everyone.  There's Business Parent pacing along the chain link fence in their business suit and blackberry, "Look at me, I'm so important at work that I have to take this call and can't watch the game, but give me props for showing up." (God forgive me, that was me...)  Finally, there's the forlorn sibling, asleep on the top bleacher wearing her grass stained softball uniform.  Her game is over but she has to wait for her brother's game to finish.  She's been up since 6:00 am, so she's dreaming of her own bed and wishing it was Sunday Morning so she could just sleep in. Well maybe, many teams now are holding games on Sunday.

Let's not leave out the organizers, coaches, and referees.  There are stories of corrupt referees; paid off by the other teams rich sponsor or booster club.  We have the "Home" referee who is going to insure that his team wins.  The other team reciprocates with their "Home" referee because all is fair in Middle School Football.  Some coaches appear to have their sole mission in life to win.  Not to teach, not to have fun, but to win at all costs.  Their self esteem seems to hinge on this 5 year old peewee football game.  They will exhaust the good players and never cycle in marginal kids.  They won't throw the football because their is risk involved, thus leaving out important parts of game play because their only objective is to win.  There are Little League Commissions that fix the teams, the schedules, and the recruiting; they fail to discipline abusive coaches.  In our personal experience, we've encountered a number of cheater coaches who throw tantrums and quit in the middle of a game.  We've seen flag football coaches instruct their players to tackle.  We've seen soccer coaches laugh and applaud when their 7 year old boy players run over 5 year old girls but have a melt down if they get a taste of their own medicine.  These coaches and parents give lip service to sportsmanship and having fun, but many will relish the opportunity to cheat if they can get away with it, winning at all cost.  Don't think for a minute the kids don't see it, they aren't stupid.

Our family has chosen not to play in these reindeer games.  At one point, we were a Sport's Family, well, the light version anyway.  My husband coached a number of teams that our son played on, plus martial arts.  Middle School demanded more time and our son made the decision to quit his other activities and stick with Martial Arts.  We periodically investigate putting him back in one sport or the other because he is a great athlete.  There is part of us that buys into the sports fantasy, too!  We just can't seem to find anything that doesn't require a significant hit to the pocketbook and a part time job for us and our kid.  He's past the time when kids have "their sport" and everything is deadly serious and expensive.  I do not want to spend 18 hours per week driving back and forth to practices, I just don't and these days there isn't an extra $650 laying around.  As a result, we're on the outside looking in to this strange child-centric sports culture.

In the end, we have a cross roads of a sports crazy culture that intersects with a child centered culture and this is what you get. Does anybody stop to consider what this is doing to a family?  What does it do to little kids?  Why have Americans in large numbers chosen to live this lifestyle?  What do we sacrifice?  I'll tell you, we sacrifice down time, time to be quiet and to think.  We sacrifice reading and learning.  We sacrifice wholesome home cooked family meals.  We exhaust our children by filling their days with structured and supervised activities - they do not learn to entertain themselves or create their own fun.  We speed from activity to activity never measuring the financial, personal, and emotional cost.  We sacrifice our kid's health, from sleep deprivation, to repetitive movement injuries, to concussions.  Never doubt this frenetic pursuit is having an effect on your child.  Finally, we sacrifice our time with the Lord.  We give our children Sunday morning to sleep, since it's the only day of the week they don't have to get up and run around.  We don't take them to church anymore because our priorities lie with sports, our new god.

Where do your priorities lie?  It's pretty easy to see, "Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be."

(This video clip gives insight into what we adults do to kids.  Warning Strong Language)



Oct 8, 2014

The Evolutionist World View of the Stars

Abigail and Dolley readers I was up early this morning to watch the second Lunar Eclipse of the Blood Moon Tetrad.  It was a glorious display but alas we live in a small valley with huge trees to the west and we lost sight of it about 6:40am.  Being an enterprising gal, I pulled up a live stream and watched it online.

One of the sites had commentators and I immediately had to mute them!  The evolutionist worldview came through in the first sentence they spoke.  It was entirely too early in the morning for yet another display of a lost world.  The exchange went like this."Well, I would not say the ancient Jews were astronomers, that's taking it a bit too far."

Boom - in one sentence the entire worldview is summed up.  First, the evolutionist thinks that ancient man was not as intelligent as he, the modern man, is.  The evidence, though, contradicts that assumption.  Archaeologists are constantly amazed at the complexity and intelligence they see in ancient ruins and civilizations.  If you read the articles, they are astounded by what they find and they can't quite wrap their worldview around the facts.  Second, the evolutionist ascribes the wisdom of the ancient Jews to the people themselves instead of the Creator.  By down playing the discoveries they deny both the Jews and their God.
Stairway to Heaven Nebula
Modern astronomers must struggle daily with the vast beauty before them.  The perfection of the universe, the complexities and the order displayed in the Heavens have for centuries drawn Man to God.  We instinctively know in our hearts, from the time we are children, that God is up there.  We lift our eyes in prayer, we lift our hands in praise, we gaze at the stars above and feel the vastness of the Creator.  I feel sorry for these scientists, the daily hardening of their hearts, the denial of God to His very face, must certainly take a toll on them.

Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.…

Sep 29, 2014

The Reckoning

As the world spirals ever downward and the signs of the times manifest on an hourly basis, I am utterly astounded at the slumber most of the population is in.  I am burdened beyond measure to shout at the top of my lungs that people need to wake up, Wake Up, WAKE UP!  The enemy of your soul is at the gate and this unhinged world bent on self satisfaction is gladly ushering him in.

There is no coincidence that in vampire lore evil needs permission to enter your house.  Thus too, supernatural evil requires permission and society is beckoning it in with exultation.  Dressed as a sexy angel, the foolish world celebrates the fleshly desires evil brings with him.  They are drunk on the blood of innocents and scoff at the most High God day and night.  

Do you feel the shaking?  Do you hear the howling wind?  Do you sense the storm raging?  For the unseen is greater than the seen and wicked and dying men are blind to the calamity approaching.  A faithful and merciful God calls for the lost to repent and the remnant cry continuously in the streets, "Repent, return to God for judgement is coming if you do not."  

Deluded men say to themselves, "I am a good person, I have nothing to repent for."  This is a lie, for judged against the standards of perfection we fall short.  We have lived in a society for so long that tries to understand and excuse evil that we are no longer conflicted or convicted in ourselves or others.  We make excuses for everything we do: Well, I was depressed when I abused those drugs.  I was lonely so I slept around.  I was can not be held accountable,  I was born this way.  The rationalizations are as endless as the sins they seek to excuse.  We all do it, our self esteem depends on it.  Our society has taught us that it is harmful to blame ourselves and injure our self esteem but I say the opposite is true.

"If we confess our sins, God who is faithful and just will forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness."  Do you understand what that means?  That means that instead of making excuses and covering up for ourselves, we can be free of the bondage of sin and death, we can be cleansed and made whole.  We can be right with God and justified through faith in the Son, Jesus Christ.  

You are not damned unless you chose it.  God does not consign anyone to Hell, people chose it themselves.  They shake their fist at God, harden their hearts, and perish of their own volition.  For since the beginning of your life, "God has made himself known to you, through the rocks, the trees, the flowers, that at the end no man will be without excuse."  Seek the Lord, Repent, we have entered the time of the Reckoning.

Sep 27, 2014

Modern Idolatry


When I was in second grade, the highlight of the week was Wednesday!  The retired Senior Pastor would teach our weekly Old Testament Bible class.  He was a gentle man who was a great story teller, he wove pictures and told tales that came alive in imaginations.  We cheered the victories of the heroes and hung our heads in shame at their failures.  His stories about the Patriarchs, Moses, the Judges, and the Kings were fascinating.

The Old Testament is full of heroes and miracles but it is also full of idol worship.  Idol worship is strange to the modern mind, it seems silly.  As a kid, I always thought that I would never fall victim to all of the sins of the Israelites.  I mean who bows down to a cow statue, right?  I thought idolatry was dead, but is it?

Idolatry is anything you love more than you should, where you devote your passion, your time, your money, and your thoughts.  Often your devotion will become part of who you are, your defining characteristic and part of how other people describe you.  Think about it for a second, what is the first adjective that comes out of someone's mouth describing your character?  Do they say: "He's an Executive", she's a "Sports Mom" or "She's in great shape"?  How do you describe yourself?  Be honest, what's the first adjective that you use?  How are you defining yourself?.

Now take it even deeper, what do you love?  Do you love your company, your work, your team, your children, your body?  Do you love them more than God?  Do you chose that activity over attending regular worship?  Will you drag yourself out of a sick bed to go to a game but pull the covers over your head for church?  Are you spending evenings reviewing spread sheets and reports but haven't picked up your Bible in years?  Will you drive two hours for a business appointment but not set aside a lunch hour a month to go to a men's Bible Study? Will you drive your exhausted children to football practice four days a week but let them sleep in on Sunday?

Where are your priorities?  Because, my Friends, I will tell you idolatry is not dead, it just wears a new face.  It has a business suit, a yoga bra. or a sports jersey, it might even be looking back out you out your selfie.  Is it in your children, who you try to give a perfect life free of the pain and failure you experienced as a kid?

The first two commandments state, you shall have no other God's before me and you shall not worship idols.  My friends, we are a nation that puts money, business, ourselves and sports above God.  We worship at the alter of the Dow Jones and fret over every jobs report.  We ecstatically worship in arenas, stadiums, and high school football bleachers and turn our noses up in disdain if the person beside us in church lifts their hand in worship and praise.  We care for our bodies in such a way that we are afraid to eat Salmon that has swum by a Salmon farm for fear of contamination.  We have become shallow, lame, and utterly boring in our inward focus and our worldly worship.

We are a world of idolaters who thumb our noses at the Most High God.  We are a world ripe for judgement.  We are a world of scoffers and idolaters.  God will not be mocked, HE will not stand idly by forever.  Our world has been under a series of judgments for decades and they have escalated since 9/11.  I truly believe a third major judgement will soon befall this world soon if we do not repent and turn back to God.

We can not as individuals control the disintegration of this present darkness but we can change our own hears, we can change our families.  I implore you to look inside, look deeply inside, judge yourself harshly, judge yourself by the standard of perfection - look upon your life, repent, and change.  Ask God to be merciful to you and to your Nation.  Ask for His healing, return to Him.  He loves you, He'll take you back.

Sep 14, 2014

Convergence of Signs

Abigail and Dolley readers you might recall that last Summer I did a pretty extensive study on the Feasts of the Lord, the Blood Moons, Rosh Hashanah, and the Rapture.  We are gearing up again for the Fall Feasts and my expectations continue to mount that we are truly living in the last days.  The Church is admonished to keep looking up that our redemption draws nigh.  Here are some compelling reasons that seem to mark a convergence of prophetic signs, a gathering together of momentum and circumstances:

Signs in the Heavens - Blood Moons, Super Moons, Solar Eclipses, Meteors, Sun Spots, Magnetic Polar reversals, just to name a few.

Wars and Rumors of Wars - Ukraine and Russia and the Middle East are exploding

Right is Wrong and Wrong is Right - the utter reversal of what is considered good, right, and moral is astounding.

Men will become lovers of self - five years ago we did not even have a term for taking a picture of yourself, now the pervasive selfie has littered the landscape and promoted ever increasing levels of narcissism.

Pestilence - I am third or fourth line in the fight against the Ebola virus.  I can not even convey how awful this situation is right now and getting worse.

Earthquakes - The USGS has stopped keeping this chart, it would alarm the public if they were to put this out in a twitter style graphic.  You can see for yourself that up until 2000 earthquakes over 6.0 remained infrequent.  This year, 2014 we have had over 114 earthquakes over 6.0.



Convergence of numeric and prophetic dates - God is orderly, He does not do things in a haphazard manner and thus, if we can observe patterns from history we can extrapolate and observe the way He has worked in the past.  Since God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow we can rely on the constancy.

7 days of Creation
7 days of the Week.
The laws of Sabbath for the land are arranged in 7 year increments
7 Sabbath years times 7 = Jubilee years
The Jews stayed in exile 70 years. (the number of Sabbath years they did not uphold)
Daniel 9 lays out 490 weeks (years) for the redemption of Israel.
One week remains of Daniel's weeks, one 7 year period
The Tribulation is 7 years
Yom Kippur 2015 is 49 years to the day of Jerusalem's recapture by Israel
Rosh Hashanah 2015 marks the end of a Sabbath year.  (Historically a devastating day/year financially)
The final blood moon takes place on the Feast of Tabernacles 2015

Conclusion, I am not naming dates but it is a compelling fact that all of these things are indeed converging.  There are hundreds more signs, hundreds more studies and nuances that can be brought to bear, I simply wanted to lay out for you simple facts and observations.  It is the Lord's deepest desire that all will come to faith in Him, that none should perish.  Chose this day who you will serve for tomorrow is promised to no one.

Sep 12, 2014

Dolley's Famous Cake

Abigail and Dolley as you know, I'm not a food blogger.  Never the less, I am a good cook and have become quite famous in my family for wonderful creme cakes.  I wanted to share my recipe. Word of warning that while these cakes are absolutely heavenly they are not the prettiest cakes on the planet. The construction and the icing make them tough to put together.

To get started, determine your flavor combination. Pick a cake flavor, a fruit flavor, and a filling flavor ie chocolate with raspberry or yellow cake with peaches and cream.  I have made the mistake before of going a little crazy, so keep it simple.

The cakes are best when they are "aged". I believe they need at least 48 hours in the refrigerator before serving and have noted that they get better the longer they sit; they don't last very long though as they are eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack whilst in the house.

Dolley's Famous Cake

Total time: 2 hours
Start at least 48 hours before serving
Difficulty: Hard

Cake:
3 egg whites (if other than white cake, use two whole eggs)
1.5 c COLD water
1/3 c oil
6 oz container of yogurt (use the flavor of fruit you have chosen)
1 box of Cake Mix (white, yellow, chocolate, spice, ect.)

Filling:
1 small box of Instant Pudding (Vanilla, Chocolate, White Chocolate, ect)
2 c milk (REAL milk - Don't use soy - it won't set)

1.5 or 2 cups of fruit (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, peaches, coconut)

Icing:
2 c heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Optional sugar sprinkles, chocolate sprinkles, chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350. Grease three 9 inch cake pans. If you don't have any - go buy some decent cake pans, they last forever and you will appreciate them for years to come. I have the heavy dark coated ones and they are fabulous.  If all you have are 8 inch pans increase the cook time to 18 minutes.

Put a large mixing bowl and the beaters in the freezer.  You will use these to whip the icing later.

Cake:

In a large mixing bowl, whip the eggs until they are good and frothy.  If you are making a white cake you want the whites aerated but not stiff. Slowly add the cold water, then the oil, then the yogurt. Keep that mixer cranked up to turbo. The mixture should almost double in size. Turn off the mixer and add the cake mix, mix on low for just a few moments, only until it is incorporated. The batter should be lumpy. Quickly pour the mix into the three greased pans. Give them a shake and a shimmy to flatted them out and then holding the sides of the pan give them several good pounds on the counter to release the air bubbles. If they come out cattiwampus, it is even harder to put this leaning tower cake together... so don't skip the shimmy, shake, and pound step. Bake for 15 minutes in 9 inch pans or 18 minutes in 8 inch pans.  You want to make sure they are set but not overcooked, do the toothpick test if you aren't sure but keep in mind these are very thin and they will keep cooking a little once you pull them out of the oven.

Let the finished cakes cool in their pans for about an hour. You will need to use a rubber spatula to make sure the cakes are loosened.  If you get a crack, don't panic, the filling and the whipped cream will act as "glue", this cake can stand up to a couple of cracks.  The cakes themselves will be very moist and soft so be careful with them.  Once cakes are cooled, place first layer on cake plate or carrier - whatever you plan to store, transport, and serve it in.

Filling:

Next, in a medium sized bowl whisk together the pudding mix and the milk. Set in the refrigerator.

Icing:

When the cakes are cooled, start the icing.  Note, this icing is white.  If you want a colored icing you can add a little food coloring that you fold in after the icing is prepared.  If you want chocolate you can add cocoa to the ingredients before you mix but you may need to adjust the sugar or replace it with chocolate syrup. Be careful not to over sweeten this icing.  The cake, the pudding, and the fruit are sweet, you do not want this icing to be very sweet.

In the frozen mixing bowl, mix all of the icing ingredients; forever. Well, maybe not forever but wear comfortable shoes, it takes a while. If you have heavy whipping cream it won't take as long.  You want firm, stiff whipped cream.  Don't over whip because whipping cream will start turning to butter and you don't want that!

Assemble:

Retrieve the pudding from the fridge and divide in half. Spread pudding on the top of the cake and then add a layer of fruit. I will often use the fruit to balance the edges and the middle of the cake, with halves in the middle and whole fruit on the sides. Repeat with the next layer and top with the remaining cake. I always use the flattest one for the top.

Ice the cake, sides first in an upward motion, filling in the layers and trying to keep it from leaning to badly or being lopsided. Don't fret if it looks like a giant leaning blob - no one will care when they taste it. Some of mine have been beautiful, others a melting and leaning tower of Pisa.

If you are using sprinkles or optional toppings hold off on those until right before you serve.  They don't "age" well.

Store:

Refrigerate - These cakes are the best after they have sat for a couple of days.  Of course you can eat them immediately, but there is something wonderful about them as they age.

Enjoy!

Sep 9, 2014

Yom Kippur 2015

Abigail and Dolley readers, last Summer, I spent a tremendous amount of time in the Word, studying the Feasts of the Lord and the coming Blood Moon Tetrads.  During that research, I came upon an interesting fact that I jotted down but never fully developed.  For the last few weeks, that fact has been niggling my brain.  Today, I finally got out my notebook, flipped through the pages and found that I had written:

June 7th 1967 - Jerusalem (recaptured for Israel)
17640 days = 49 years
9/23/15 - Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)

This was very early on in my studies that largely ended up focusing on the Blood Moons and Rosh Hashanah, I noted the fact was interesting and proceeded forth with my work and my studies.  So, today when I started looking at this I began to think, what is significant about 49 years?

Well, 49 is a derivative of 7 which we know is God's number of completeness
We know that every 7 years there is declared a shemittah (Sabbatical year)
49 years is 7 shemittah (Sabbatical years)
49 years follows a 50th year, which is the year of Jubilee

So what does Scripture say about the shemittah year?  Lev. 25:3-4 Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard, and gather in the fruits thereof; but in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath unto Jehovah: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard.

The Jubilee is ordained by God in Leviticus 24:8-10. And you shall count for yourself seven sabbatical years, seven years seven times. And the days of these seven sabbatical years shall amount to forty nine years for you.  You shall proclaim [with] the shofar blasts, in the seventh month, on the tenth of the month; on the Day of Atonement, you shall sound the shofar throughout your land.   And you shall sanctify the fiftieth year, and proclaim freedom [for slaves] throughout the land for all who live on it. It shall be a Jubilee for you, and you shall return, each man to his property,_ and you shall return, each man to his family.

What a glorious event!  The word is for yesterday, today, and tomorrow and the year of the Jubilee sounds like prophecy fulfilled to me.  So when is the next Jubilee year?

"According to biblical law, the Jubilee is only observed when all twelve tribes of the Jewish nation are living in Israel, as is derived from the verse,1 “And you shall sanctify the fiftieth year, and proclaim freedom throughout the land for all who live on it,” which implies that the Jubilee is only sanctified when “all who live on it”—meaning, all who are meant to be living there—are in the Land of Israel. Furthermore, the Jubilee is only observed when every tribe is living in the specific part of the land which was it was allotted when the Land of Israel was divided." (Source Chabad.org)

We know from history that the Jubilee was never kept by Israel, at least not on a large scale, and then it was too late.  The Assyrians conquered the Northern Kingdom in 740 BC and when that happened the twelve tribes were not in place to celebrate the Jubilee, even if they had wanted to.  While there was no Biblical requirement to continue the Jubilee and thus has not been marked or celebrated.  Conversely, the shemittah year continues to be observed and we are moving into one on Rosh Hashanah 2014.

So the Jubilee is a prophecy, a structure for the land of Israel that was foreordained by God.  It will be the structure of rule in the Messiah's kingdom, when at last God's people will obey and trust the Lord.

The promise of the Jubilee is eagerly awaited, when the land shall rest and when the people will be restored to their lands in accordance with God's plan.  Leviticus continues with the Lord's promise to Israel  "You shall perform My statutes, keep My ordinances and perform them then you will live on the land securely.  And the land will then yield its fruit and you will eat to satiety, and live upon it securely".  For it is only through God's divine protection and provision will Israel ever live in security in the land He has given them.

This video greatly encompasses where I am coming from:


Aug 5, 2014

Guilty

For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.  Romans 1:20


Consider this word:  Guilty... We all know what that word FEELS like.  Some only feel guilty after they have been caught, some feel guilty when they shouldn't but we are all have been guilty.  Remember what it was like to stand before your parents, trembling with the knowledge that you were guilty of something or other.  The flush to the face, the quiver inside your wame, and the shame you feel.  Think of standing in front of a perfect, omnipotent, and holy God - guilty.  

For God's justice demands perfection and because mankind was unable to achieve that perfection he did it for us through the death and resurrection of his Son.  He pursues you, He reveals Himself to you, He loves you, He gives you every chance.

If you have no desire for God, you are indeed in a desperate place.  If you scoff at the notion, it may already be too late because you "have no excuse for not knowing God".

Jul 29, 2014

Outlander - Episode 1

Abigail and Dolley readers I have been a serious fan of two series in my life:  Harry Potter and Outlander.  Both are extraordinary works that invite the reader to reside within the pages and are full of  nuggets that the author assumes their readers are intelligent enough to understand, research, or just skim over in pure enjoyment of the work.  By trusting the reader, these talented authors both built worlds with fleshed out characters, plot lines, and  rich detailed worlds that invite you in and surprise you with the vividness of the experience.   So if you haven't read the books, do yourself a favor and start.  Don't blame me if you stay up too late!


This blog is dedicated to the fans who have waited 20 plus years to see Outlander come to the screen.  I was privileged to see an advanced screening of episode one tonight and here are some of my observations.

  • Faithful adaptation - You will not watch the show and wonder what they have done to you beloved novel.  Pelican Brief and the Firm by John Grisham comes to mind, they bore no resemblance to the books and suffered greatly for their divergence from the source material.  Outlander is faithful.
  • Stunning Production - the light, the score, the filming, the acting, the editing, the authenticity - beyond my expectations!  
  • Characterization - spot on, true magic.
I find myself envious of the legions of fans who will experience Outlander for the first time and get to discover the series.  For the devotee, you will not be disappointed!

Jul 2, 2014

The Occult in Plain Sight

The Occult Forest
What comes to mind when I say, "The Occult".... visions of Satanists dressed in black robes, chanting in the deep woods, around a human sacrifice?  Perhaps you see a fortune teller or a voodoo witch doctor performing some spell in a basement around a bubbling cauldron?  These are the obvious and overt images that make up the idea of what the occult is, but what if it is more than that?

What if the occult is in the music that you listen to or the neighbor you are BBQing with this weekend?  What if that sorority/fraternity or social club you are involved with actually has its roots in the occult?  What if your friend has decided to join a secret society?
If you are like me, you simply shrug a shoulder, raise an eyebrow, and shake your head because really, the occult IS that witch doctor not your neighbor.

Ouija Board
"Yeah, sure, they do these hokey ceremonies at the fraternity but it's just part of the tradition and we laugh while we are doing it, nobody takes that stuff seriously, right?"
"I love that band and raise my hand in the sign of the I love Rock and Roll while I am banging my head, big deal, it's just a song."
"My neighbor has invited me down to the lodge, those are some really great fellows down there, I'm going to join to make friends."
"It's a Milton Bradley game for Christ's sake, what harm can a Ouija board do?"

Satanic Symbol
You, my friend, have now had a run in with the occult.  So what, you might ask, and given the seeming innocence of the scenarios I have described above, I don't blame you for that opinion.

Follow me for just a second, if you do an act, say punch somebody in the face but you do it while having fun, have you still punched that person in the face?  If you are singing a prayer to Satan but don't mean it, haven't you still said the prayer?  If your lodge has a ceremony that has it's roots in Dark Magic but you make a farce out of it, haven't you still done the ritual?

In a country that denies or minimizes the Supernatural the answer is still Ho Hum.  We have become conditioned by the Humanist point of view that truth is what we believe it to be.  If we don't believe these things have supernatural significance then they don't, but what if you are wrong?  What if, as the Bible tells us, that the unseen is greater than the seen? (2 Cor 4:18)  What if while you are joking around in your ceremony there are those hidden in another room who take what you are doing very seriously and are invoking curses and demons on your life?
Sorority Ritual

There are rules and laws in the Supernatural and if you give the enemy permission to move into your life, he is going to accept the invitation and once he's in, don't expect him to behave.  Don't expect because this was a joke in your eyes that it is a joke in his.  Are you angry now for no reason?  Has your baby daughter gotten sick?  Has pornography begun to take hold in your life?  Does Scripture make you cringe?  These could all be signs you have an unwelcome visitor in your life.  The Lord does nothing in secret, there should be no secret societies who serve the Risen Christ, yet Satan will always scheme in secrecy.
High Priest Apron
The good news is that there is a way free of this bondage.  Cry out to the Lord for salvation and deliverance.  Repent and stop doing the things that have brought the enemy into your life and you will be free by the Power of the Holy Spirit and the shed blood of Jesus Christ.  If you are not a follower of Jesus Christ, I encourage you to find a local evangelical ministry to help you break free of the bondage of the enemy and find salvation and freedom in the Lord.

Jun 24, 2014

Parable of the Ten Virgins - Who are the Bridesmaids?

Abigail and Dolley readers I have been contemplating the parable of the Ten Virgins as outlined in Matthew 25 1:13 which reads, 1 "The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 The five who were foolish took no oil for their lamps, 4 but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. 5 When the bridegroom was delayed, they all lay down and slept. 6 At midnight they were roused by the shout, 'Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and welcome him!' 7 "All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. 8 Then the five foolish ones asked the others, 'Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.' 9 But the others replied, 'We don't have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.' 10 "But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. 11 Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, 'Sir, open the door for us!' 12 But he called back, 'I don't know you!' 13 "So stay awake and be prepared, because you do not know the day or hour of my return.

For the purpose of this blog, I'd like to examine who the bridesmaids are in the parable.  For many years, I heard that the bridesmaids are the church at the time of the Rapture but it is interesting to note that the church is the Bride, not the Bridesmaid. So then, who are the Bridesmaids and what can we learn from that distinction?  Gene Lawley has written a fantastic commentary on this subject and encourage you to read his words, for much of this blog is based upon his work and insight.
The Bridesmaids
The Bridesmaids served several purposes in ancient Jewish marriages. They were to help prepare the bride for the return of the groom.  Once the groom arrived to consummate the marriage they would serve as witnesses to the bride's virginity.  Finally, they would walk by night with the wedding party to the home of the groom where the celebration would occur.  Thus, completing their support and service to the bride.

So who is supposed to support the church?  Ephesians 4:11-16, 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro , and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness *, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part *, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

Thus, we have five folks who are supposed to serve as bridesmaids:

Apostles or Apostolos (Greek) - a delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders
specifically applied to the twelve apostles of Christ
in a broader sense applied to other eminent Christian teachers

Prophets or Prophetes (Greek) - in the religious assemblies of the Christians, they were moved by the Holy Spirit to speak, having power to instruct, comfort, encourage, rebuke, convict, and stimulate, their hearers

Evangelists or Euaggelistes (Greek) - a bringer of good tidings, an evangelist, the name given to the NT heralds of salvation through Christ who are not apostles

Pastors or Poimen (Greek) - shepherd who were to watch for enemies trying to attack the sheep - to defend the sheep from attackers - to heal the wounded and sick sheep - to find and save lost or trapped sheep - to love them, sharing their lives and so earning their trust.

Teachers or Didaskolos (Greek) - teachers of the word of God.

Thus, it can be extrapolated that the Bridesmaids in the parable are the true and the false apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.  For all those who corrupt the word of God and teach false gospels that tickle men's ears are the unfaithful bridesmaids and will not make it into the kingdom of Heaven.  Look around, these false bridesmaids are everywhere.

Jun 1, 2014

Conservatives Will be the First to Go

Revelation Chapter 13 chronicles the rise of the False Prophet and the Antichrist, who are given their power by the great Dragon, Satan.  We read that this evil trinity will impose a mark on the world.  No one will be able to buy or sell anything lest they carry this mark.  Such a worldwide system of control was not technologically possible until now.  Make no mistake friend, the time is short, and the Tribulation is at the door.

The machinations of the US government in terms of spying are unprecedented.  They have built massive data collection sites,  where the NSA is storing trillions of kilobytes of Data.  They are monitoring and cataloging every key stroke you make, every word you say on social media, even conversations that you hold in your home can be recorded via microphones in computers, smart TVs and smartphones.  They have the ability to watch you via your laptop camera.  Your phone calls home to your wife are being recorded.  They are cataloging your web photos for facial recognition.  They are determining which businesses are approved and starving the ones who don't fall in line with their master plan by pressuring banks to drop the accounts.  US Police are no longer required to protect and serve but instead must enforce the law.  The National Guard has had helicopters confiscated and put into federal control.  Free speech is under worldwide attack and men no longer tolerate biblical and moral teachings.  We could go on for hundreds of pages, all sited and documented, but the stage is set.

The last kingdom in Nebuchadnezzar's dream has not yet come to pass, the feet of clay and iron with ten toes.  We see these ten kingdoms in Revelation 12 and Revelation 13.  The great harlot of Revelation 17 is the last great false religion and is represented by a woman riding on the beast.  This image currently resides outside of the EU Parliament Building in Strasbourg, FR.


The blind public will read the above with a ho hum.  This is obvious, as all of the above are not a blip on the radar.  The enemy is before you but the game is on and the wife just came in with KFC, so who cares?  These blind dupes will cheer with joy at the ascension of the Man of Perdition, who has come to save the World.  They will gladly line up to take their microchip, they are as like lemmings over a cliff.

The church will be gone.  The Great Restrainer will be caught up in the air with Christ and the man of lawlessness shall be revealed.  Those who have heard the Gospel and rejected it will be given a powerful delusion and believe the Antichrist.

What of my conservative friends, my Tea Party Patriots, who love what the US used to be and have worked tirelessly and futility to put things right?  You have already been demonized.  The Left calls you all sorts of vile names designed to marginalize you and they have succeeded brilliantly. Make no mistake, if you are a conservative that is not a Christian, you will be the first to go.  They have your name, they have your face, they have your bank account, they know you friends, they monitor your car by its GPS, the listen to your calls, they will control your job and you will be an enemy of the state.  The independent patriotic fervor that you hold may prevent you from accepting the new world order but your life here on this Earth will be in immediate peril and you will be hunted and killed like an animal.

I do not write these words lightly but I write them in obedience for it is clearly written what is coming, it is clearly demonstrated in the signs of the times.  I weep for you if you have not accepted Jesus as your Savior, it is written that God wishes all to be saved and has provided a way for you to avoid the trial to come and to not be present at the Final Judgement.  For there will be no where for you to hide on that terrible day but know this that every knee shall bow, every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.  You can do it now or you will do it later, your choice.

May 30, 2014

Where Are the Political Posts?

Some of my long term readers will recognize that the Abigail and Dolley of today bears little resemblance to the blog of 2009/2010.  Born out of the Tea Party, Dolley was actually launched on a collaborative site founded by several conservative friends.  That blog was literally stolen and this site was born.  So you may wonder, "Why don't you write political posts any longer?"

The short answer is that I no longer believe that it makes a difference.  I began to cool off considerably after the rally of 2010 failed to produce a halt to the destruction of the country.  2011 was an extremely trying and difficult time for me personally and I had enough ageda of my own without rallying around the flag.  I engaged for the 2012 election and fought hard for my candidate, Newt Gingrich.  Toward the end, I even got on board the Romney train and supported his candidacy.

Two major occurrences soured me on politics forever.  The first was about a week before the election when I posed the question to my fb friends if anyone was actually still undecided.  The answers were amazing... I realized that all of my writing, all of my persuading, all of my educated had been for naught.  I had dozens of friends who had not been positively influenced by my four years of crusading.  The second occurred about 2 am on election morning, I wept for my lost country but have never looked back.

You see, I believe that the only hope for this lost world is found in the salvation of Jesus Christ.  The 24 hour news cycle is not going to save us, the turning of the tides is not going to happen because we are simply too close to the end of the church age for that to occur.  Daily we are seeing the fulfillment of prophecy and the foundations and systems for the last kingdom are being laid before our eyes.

I now view world events through the lens of a Watcher.  I stand on the wall and call warnings but even these are now quieter.  My prophetic zeal changed no one's minds either, it was simply just more noise to my friends and family.  So I simply write about my journey, about our business, about my life walking with the Lord.  At the end, it is Christ and Him crucified that has the power to save, I am merely a humble servant trying to make it through the day.

May 28, 2014

Partnering With God in the Garden

The Bible uses agriculture to teach dozens of lessons to mankind.  Allegories and stories swirl though my mind, add to that my love of gardening, and the stage is set   Yesterday I was gazing at the Back to Eden Garden whilst sipping coffee and felt the Lord's sweet presence.  I realized that my life, like my B2E Garden, is a partnership with the Lord.  That might not seem Earth shattering but walk this path with me, perhaps the Lord will bless you in the journey.

Several years ago, my original perennial garden was absolutely full.  To continue to add plants would have moved it from a garden to a collection of plants.  I turned my attention to a sun baked spot in the back yard where even the grass and weeds struggled to grow and determined it was the perfect spot for a vegetable garden.  I trudged out there one February morning and began the arduous process of double digging the patch.  Holy Cow, this soil was a mess.  Silt on top where a stream has once run, light yellow compaction full of every tree root that had been left in the clearing of the lot, and underneath saturated red clay that weighed 20 lbs a shovelful.  It was brutal work.  This plot represents our lives before Christ, our flesh.  There is no good thing in it.  We have been baked by the sun where even weeds struggle to thrive.  Our sin runs like dead tree roots and we are weighed down in our spirits like the soaked red clay.

As I dug, the neighbors dogs barked... and barked... and barked.  I became madder by the minute.  Garden time was supposed to be peaceful and full of life and relaxation - this was filthy, muddy, stumbling work punctuated by yapping.  Finally, after two hours, I threw down my shovel and stormed up the street.  The clueless neighbor was no doubt shocked at my appearance at her door, sweaty in the February brisk air, liberally smeared with dirt, hair gone wild in the wind.  She gave me a rather confused look and mumbled, "I wondered what they were barking at..."  This did little to calm my ire but I stomped away to relative quiet.  The dogs in the story, well they are the demons and naysayers who like to condemn, gossip, and torment us.  They were sounding the alarm that good work was being done in my backyard.  Barred from the property, they could do nothing but make noise and aggravate.

The job I assumed to be a day or two, turned into three full weekends.  Having read that turning the clay and letting it sit in the weather would help to turn it into good soil.  I waited.  Weeds began to thrive, clods of clay baked in the winter sun and turned into terra cotta pottery.  I spayed weed killer all over the pile of dirt and waited a little longer.  April came and I brought in 20 bags of top soil, compost, and manure.   I sprayed the weeds again.  This phase is like the person who thinks if they dig down and unearth all the bad things in their lives that the airing out of everything will turn them into good soil, instead they are exposed, grow weeds, and certain parts of them harden like pottery.  They bring in pretty dressing that they buy and haul it in arduously spreading and augmenting the soil.  This temporarily covers the mess and for a little while it looks like mission accomplished.  To the outside world, hard work and money have accomplished the desired results.  Until the weeds start to emerge.  

Finally the time came to plant.  Most of the plants were purchased at the nursery but a few seeds were sown.  A few weeks later, a light dusting of pine straw covered the soil and the result was glorious.  I was so excited.  This was prior to my Abigail and Dolley days but I wrote extensively about how excited I was.  I companion planted everything and eagerly awaited the results, which were fantastic... at first.  This represents what we can do on our own, through hard work and money.  We can try and force what we want in our lives.  We sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labor and investment.

Then, the last blog written that year is titled, "The Dog Days of Summer".  The unrelenting sun beat down, the rain did not fall, the weeds took over, the pests moved in, and everything fell apart.  I vowed that I would hold back the forces through hard work and recounted a five hour day in the sun pulling back the mulch and fighting the weeds, to no avail. This is where we vow to keep it together, that our hard work WILL pay off through sheer force of will but in the end the forces beyond our control beat down upon us and devour what we have tried to do.  These are the businessmen you see at dinner who can not put down their blackberry long enough to have a conversation with their colleague sitting across the table.  When it is up to you to keep your head above the waves.

In the end, the garden baked to stalks.  I took no picture of this desolation, we do not show off our failures.  We don't document and share pictures, we hide them and hope no one will ask.   My hard work, my money, my time was for naught but toil.  This represents a life lived our way, by our own efforts, and minus the blessings of the Lord.  I doubled down the next year.  I hired a man with a big tiller and had 40 bags brought in.  The results were the same.  Sadly, I repeated this process for two more years before abandoning the entire enterprise as a money pit of toil.  This is the epitome of just working harder, just try harder, just pour more money into it - if it fails it is because YOU have failed.

Years passed and I began to once again speak of my desire for a vegetable garden.  My husband suggested that he would build me one as my Christmas present.  I was as excited as ever but this excitement was tempered by my previous bad experiences.  I determined that this time would be different and I began researching what was new in vegetable gardens.  The Lord led me to the Back To Eden Garden Film and I was enthralled.  This is gardening done God's way, with His methods, and is blessings - without the toil and the hard work I always associated with vegetable gardening and with a blessed return on my investment which would get better with age.
Back To Eden Garden the First Spring
The difference is day and night.  We did not garden in the same spot, which was still sun baked and barren.  This new garden is huge, triple the original plot, and full of periods of shade from the unrelenting Carolina sun.  Yes, it still took time, hard work, and money but there is a partnership in this endeavor that was missing before.  Most of the plants thriving in the garden were grown from seeds instead of purchased transplants.  The weeds are few and can be plucked with a small pinch and a tug.  The wood chips hold the water from the rain and the plants are thriving.  I look upon the creation and I realize that there is a harmony in this garden as there needs to be in our lives.  I am doing my part and God is blessing the efforts.  I do not know if the harvest will be as magnificent as the young plants signal, after all it is up to God to continue to protect and to grow the plants.  We are a small family and it will be more than we can possibly consume or store, so we plan to bless others with the bounty.  I rest in the assurance that past experience don't always dictate future results, especially when you do it God's way.

May 25, 2014

Cool Down Now

Cool Down Now is my invention but the company and the creation, which is the recipe moving from the kitchen table to an actual product, well that's all my husband's doing.  One day we will write the story, I am sure it will be one of struggle and triumph.  After all, we love a good underdog, American Dream narrative.  We love the melodrama of the tale as it unfolds before our eyes, knowing at the end there is a happy ending.   We are not particularly interested in the first chapters of the story without the last but Cool Down Now has all the makings of such a story!  If realized to it's full potential, it boggles the mind to contemplate.   1 Corinthians 2:9 "Eye has not seen, nor ear has not heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, The things that God has prepared for those who love Him."

One of the many obstacles to overcome is exactly who to market the product to... at the end of the day, how to you market to "People who get hot"?  Seriously, ponder this, how do you market a product that every human on the planet has the potential to use?  It is a unique problem but one you have to solve because if you try to market to everyone, you end up marketing to no one.  

Think about it for a minute, when was the last time you got hot?  What were you doing?  How did you feel?  How long were you hot?  Did you stop doing whatever that was and go get cooled off or did you suffer through it?  Were you grumpy in the heat, did you snap at those around you? 

Cool Down Now makes you feel better.  Cool Down Now can last for hours so you can enjoy your activities or be more comfortable doing your hard work.  Cool Down Now has the secondary effect of improving your mood because if you are not sweltering in the heat you are happier.

So who is going to be the first group to embrace this revolutionary product?

  • Will it be athletes?  Imagine some Texas High School Football Coach discovering Cool Down Now.  Picture Friday Night Lights and Cool Down Now... what a great potential episode, right? 
  • What about Roofers - the ultimate hot job, will they be the ones who recognize the value of the product and buy it by the caseload?
  • How about Hot Flash Relief - will the female over 40 crowd get some relief from the internal volcanic eruptions that are so innocuously called a Hot Flash? 
  • Maybe it will be my fellow Gardeners who read my invention story and buy the product from their sister in dirt....
  • What if it's some obscure group or niche market like car salesmen who have to be on the black top in the sweltering heat and stay unruffled and pleasant?  Perhaps I will ask them to sit at my desk while I go talk to the sales manager...:)
I have never written Abigail and Dolley to become famous or sell product.  Until this month, I have never even mentioned Cool Down Now.  Google Analytics tell me that this little humble blog has been hit over 100,000 times, so perhaps faithful Abigail and Dolley readers, you will be the tipping point!

Remember, "Everybody Gets Hot, So Everybody Needs Cool Down Now!  It's Air Conditioning In Your Pocket!"