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Past Help; Future Hope

O God, our Help in ages past, our Hope for years to come!

Be Thou our Guide while life shall last, and our eternal Home!

Sometime ago, I was sharing with some friends how much I benefit from singing the same old hymns in church as my family sang in our church when I was a child. Not all “old hymns” are sources of spiritual nutrition simply because they are “old,” but the ones that are Biblically accurate serve a dual purpose for me.

The first and main benefit of theologically sound hymns or songs (regardless of their copyright date) is available to anyone: our spirits are encouraged when we focus on God, reminding ourselves of the truth.

When we add to this the knowledge that these “old hymns” have stood the test of time and have been sung for a few hundred years, we benefit from the reminder that the people of God are one in Christ. Even though we are separated by time, all believers from previous and future generations will be in Heaven for eternity, praising and serving God together. God has always had a remnant of believers on earth. From Adam and Eve to the present, someone has always been passing along the truth about God to the next generation. We are linked together across the generations in an unbroken chain because God is preserving the truth for His glory.

The hymn, “Our God, Our Help in Ages Past,” is an example of this. Roughly 300 years ago, Isaac Watts wrote the words of this hymn based on the song Moses wrote several thousand years ago, Psalm 90. When I remember that this Psalm was written for the people of Israel to praise God for His eternal nature, I am encouraged in whatever my daily struggles are. No matter what trial or temptation I face today, God has not changed. He is the same God who cared for His people in the past, as He was working out His plan. He is not going to change tomorrow, no matter how difficult my life may be tomorrow.

Why should I not trust God? He is the same God who kept all His promises in the past… and one of those promises was to Abraham, that He would bring His descendants out of slavery in Egypt. Moses was one of those descendants; God used him to lead His people during that time in history, and Moses wrote Psalm 90.

Isaac Watts was one of Abraham’s spiritual descendants, as am I. In the life of Watts, we have a reminder of another promise made and fulfilled by God to Abraham…. when God promised Abraham that one of his descendants would be a blessing to all nations, He was promising that through Christ, even those who are not physical descendants of Abraham would have access to God. So, Isaac Watts and I, along with all other believers are spiritual descendants of Abraham.

Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the nations will be blessed in you. So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.

Galatians 3:6-9

(You can click on the references to see the wider context of the verses at

I enjoy a second benefit from singing hymns such as this one in church… and I realize that not everyone will benefit in this way. God graciously gave me parents who loved God and lived for Him, and so I cannot remember not attending church with them and my older brother. I remember sitting near the front as a young child, listening to the sermon and singing the hymns the best I could for my age. I still remember snippets of sermons I heard at a very young age. I remember being a part of the congregation, participating in the service.

So, when I stand in the congregation as a 40-year-old, and sing “O God, Our Help in Ages Past,” I can remember singing these same words and tune for a few decades, as I faced different challenges at different stages of life.  I remember the fears I had for my safety as a young child in a country torn by civil war, the concerns I had about school as a teenager, the dread I felt as an unmarried adult when I feared I would be single until the day of my death…. and as I sing the words and tune again, surrounded by my brothers and sisters in the Lord, I can remind myself that God worked out everything in the past for my good and His glory…. and I can trust Him again in my current circumstances. The fears and struggles have changed as I have aged, but God has not. There is certainly a benefit to singing the “old hymns” throughout the decades of life.

I also have a deep appreciation for newer songs that have solid theological content. A song written in 2008 that ministers to me so much spiritually that I even experience relief from physical pain is “His Robes for Mine.” The soothing, melodious tune, coupled with the life-giving words brings a calmness to my soul every time I hear it.

As Brody and I remember becoming engaged 8 years ago, we remember the various health and economic challenges we have faced together and how faithfully God cared for us through each difficulty. Truly He has been our Past Help and He will always be our Future Hope.

I had not prepared our “Pork Chops” from A Recipe for Survival on page 134 recently, so I decided to make a batch to celebrate our engagement anniversary. Recipes are another way I enjoy being connected to the past… I developed this recipe based on Brody’s memories of his mom’s way of preparing pork chops. I enjoy keeping his and my family culinary traditions alive even though we modify the recipes to make them more effective for his dietary needs.

Pork Chop Supper

We enjoy adding fruit and fresh or steamed vegetables to our meals – this is a simple way for us to add variety and nutrition.

Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.
Before the mountains were born
Or You gave birth to the earth and the world,
Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

Psalm 90:1-2

Simply Beautiful

My dad works as a missionary among a North American Indian tribe in Oklahoma, and has enjoyed learning the art of making his own flutes from a reed or another piece of wood. His friends and family enjoy hearing him play various tunes or hymns at different events.

Some years ago, he and his wife, Candy, attended a Thanksgiving Service organized by several churches in their area. Members of the various churches each contributed in a different way; some signed up to play or sing a special number; others volunteered to serve in other ways. But, the exact songs each volunteer was planning to play wasn’t communicated to the others.

The next morning, my dad wrote the following:

Last p.m. Candy and I went to the McLoud Ministerial Alliance community Thanksgiving service. There were only two specials besides the big Baptist church's choir.
 My Tribute by Andraé Crouch was announced to be played just before me by the host church's flamboyant organist [with the help of a CD and full orchestra backup thanks to an electric organ key board set into what looks like a baby grand piano frame]. --Candy looks at me wide eyed and asks, "Is that what you're going to play?"
 The flow of a flowery intro started with a lavish and energetic display of key board excellence. --Candy turns to me and says, "That's okay, they won't know it's the same song."

After a flourish of cord exchanges, variations on the theme and a blur of fingers going furiously from one end of the key board to the other, the organist reached the grande finale.


I walked to the front with my music folder, fourteen inch cane flute in hand and a prayer in my heart.

I took a very deep breath and broke the silence by saying that I was glad that the host preacher had started the community service by saying, "The program is before you but the Holy Spirit has brought it all together; we preachers have no idea how this service is going to pan out."

"So," I said, "I'll be playing the second verse (there is no second verse) of what you just heard as if all creation were praising God. This (flute) is a piece of bamboo cane that was growing a few years ago over in Choctaw [a nearby town] and with God's help, He allowed me to make this into a Native American style flute." And with that being said, I played "To God be the Glory".

(For those who don’t know, To God be the Glory, is the same tune as My Tribute by Andraé Crouch.)

My dad’s note reminded me of the entry for November 16 in the daily devotional, My Utmost for His Highest, based on Oswald Chambers’ lectures and talks delivered from 1911 to 1917. Part of it reads, “It is one thing to go through a crisis grandly, but another thing to go through every day glorifying God when there is no witness, no limelight, no one paying the remotest attention to us.”

A person living a simple life that glorifies God may be encouraged to remember that the simple tune created by a cane flute, as well as elaborate productions from full orchestras, bring God glory.

In 2009, when we were just beginning to cook from scratch without gluten, Brody developed a tasty dish. By the time we published our book, A Recipe for Survival, we had new favorites. This summer, I brought back this dish he created since I was looking for a different flavor and a simple dish during a busy season of our lives. I named it “Single Skillet Summer Supper.”

Single Skillet Summer Supper

Single Skillet Summer Supper

Coconut Oil, roughly 2 Tbsp

Oregano, 2-3 pinches

Basil, a pinch or two

Thyme, a pinch

Salt, freshly ground pepper to taste

Fresh tomatoes, chopped

Zucchini, and if available, Yellow Squash, sliced

Cooked Chicken, broken into pieces

1. Melt the coconut oil in the skillet.

2. Add the spices, salt and pepper. Stir and heat for a minute, roughly.

3. Add the tomatoes and squash and cook until they are as tender as you prefer.

4. Add the chicken and mix well; when the chicken is thoroughly coated in the flavorful sauce, it is ready to be enjoyed.

5. Refrigerate the leftovers and enjoy several simple, satisfying suppers.

A simple meal can satisfy your need for nutrition even if it is not super fancy. And that is simply beautiful!

I surrender all?

A few months ago, our church was singing the hymn, “I Surrender All.” As I sang the words, I reflected on some of the times I had sung the song from my grade school years, to junior high school, to high school, college and after college. I asked myself if I really had meant those words throughout the decades that I had been singing the hymn. Here is a link for the lyrics. (By the way, I didn’t know until now that there were so many verses! I didn’t recognize the 3rd and 5th verses shown on this link. Perhaps the churches where I had been a member chose not to include those verses due to the theological content.)

That Sunday morning, I realized that I had intended to surrender all of my life during the previous years. However, there had been areas of my life that I didn’t realize I was still expecting to manage on my own. For example, when I was in high school and college, I was willing to serve the Lord whole-heartedly in my life, but I didn’t realize that I was only willing to serve Him joyfully in certain roles. I imagined my life would turn out a certain way after college, and I didn’t even realize that I was adding those reservations to my “surrendering all.” I only discovered that I had had those reservations when God didn’t allow for my life to follow the exact plan I had in mind. My severe disappointment showed me that I had originally planned to “surrender all” only under certain circumstances!

Disappointments, difficulties and trials of various levels of pain show me areas of my life that need to change. I know from Hebrews 12:4-11 that the difficult times orchestrated or allowed by God are not to punish me, but to train me for my good. The emotion of disappointment helped me to understand how my desire to serve God in certain ways had become a god in itself to me. I realized that it was possible to make a god out of what I thought my calling in life should be.

I have found that as I meditate on God’s character and what He has done throughout history, especially with respect to His work to redeem a people for Himself, I experience more joy and peace. Rather than spending time and energy wondering why this or that is (or isn’t) happening in my life, I can choose to thank God for His saving work in my life. I can trust Him since He is good and because He is at work for my good, and His plan is best.

You can click on the reference for each verse to see the context for the verse at

Isaiah 55:8-9

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting.


Romans 8:28 

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

I am gradually posting a picture of each recipe in our book! Below is Don Brody’s Beef Goulash, (page 124 in A Recipe for Survival), pictured with Grandma’s Green Beans (page 91 of A Recipe for Survival) and Basic Black Beans (Appendix B in A Recipe for Survival.)
Another one of our favorites from A Recipe for Survival

Another one of our favorites from A Recipe for Survival

Better Hummus, Discoveries, and the Freedom of the Potter

Now and then, my mistakes in the kitchen result in new discoveries.

I tried following my recipe for Yummy Hummus one day and neglected to read the entire note on my recipe card… the result was the hummus was much too watery. Since I had wanted to try making falafel, I thought this might be an opportunity… I could take my failed rendition of hummus as a starting point, refer to the recipe my friend had drawn my attention to, and possibly develop something new! I decided to give it a try.

Another friend was visiting me that afternoon. I told her about the falafel recipe and my concern that Brody can’t handle fried food as well as he used to since he had his gall bladder removed. She suggested that I try to bake the little falafels. So, that’s what I did. I not only got to try a new falafel recipe, I modified the Yummy Hummus to become Better Hummus! Here is the result in both recipe and photographic forms!

Better Hummus with Crackers

Better Hummus

1 cup dry garbanzo beans

2 Tbsp ground flax seed

2 Tbsp olive oil

3 Tbsp lemon juice

2 cloves of garlic

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed

1/2 tsp dried red pepper

salt, black pepper to taste

3 Tbsp chopped parsley

3 Tbsp chopped cilantro


1. Rinse and then soak the garbanzo beans overnight.

2. Cook the beans until they are tender enough to pierce them with a fork.

3. Add the beans and 1 cup of the liquid from the beans to the Vitamix along with the other ingredients except the salt, black pepper, parsley and cilantro.

4. Starting on low and then switching to high speed, blend all the ingredients together until smooth.

5. Add salt and black pepper to achieve the taste you like.

6. Transfer the hummus to a bowl, stir in the parsley and cilantro, and enjoy! We love this with crackers!

Freda’s Falafels

Better Hummus Ingredients

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup tapioca/rice flour blend (roughly 50/50 for the blend)

Sesame seeds

Butter for the cookie sheet

1. Prepare the Better Hummus recipe above, except use all the water that was with the garbanzo beans while they were cooking.

2. Combine the baking powder with the flour blend.

3. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.

4. Butter a cookie sheet.

5. Form the falafels into little patty-like shapes. Coat the falafels in sesame seeds and then bake at 350 F for about 20 minutes.

As I experimented with these, I tried adding more flour to the mix with different batches.

Falafel Experiment from Hummus Mistake

I decided I preferred more flour. My first attempt resulted in falafels which were a bit “wimpy.”

Freda's Falafels Take 1

More flour in the batter produced a better final product. The result was the falafels stood “taller” and didn’t collapse as much as they cooled after baking.

Another attempt at Freda's Falafels

From time to time, I struggle with discouragement and discontentment when I consider how my life is “turning out” as compared to how I had thought things would go. If I dwell on what I had planned to be doing by age 40, I can become quite sorrowful… but when I remember that God is the One in charge of my assignments in life as a member of His household, then I experience more peace.

I know that He is good and He does good, so I can trust Him as He is working in my life. Brody often reminds me that our lives here on earth are not about accomplishing certain things. Instead, God’s purpose for us is to prepare us spiritually for Heaven and to bring Him glory in our lives now and for eternity. We know His love for His people is measured by the sacrifice He made on the cross for us. So, even as we face difficulties and disappointments, we can know for certain that He is not being unkind to us; He is lovingly working in our lives for our spiritual good.

Romans 8:28-30 from

28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

My aunt took this photo a few months ago in New Salem, NC. She couldn’t remember the name of the studio. I would love to contact the potter in this photo to confirm that it’s okay to share the photo on my site.

Potter at work

This photo is a beautiful reminder to me of God’s careful shaping of my life. He does not make a life out of failed experiments as I sometimes make a new recipe out of mistakes in my kitchen; rather, he is masterfully carrying out the purposes He has had for eternity past. My little lifespan is a tiny part of what He has designed for His creation. Even with the pains and disappointments, I can trust Him that He is molding my character to resemble His Son more and more. Since He is the Potter, He has the freedom to make whatever He chooses from each lump of clay.

Psalm 33:10-11 from

The Lord nullifies the counsel of the nations;
He frustrates the plans of the peoples.
The counsel of the Lord stands forever,
The plans of His heart from generation to generation.

Some years ago, my church gave us Sunday School teachers a gift of the classic edition of My Utmost for His Highest, a daily devotional by Oswald Chambers. For many years,  I read it every day throughout the year. Then I took up other devotionals for some time. Perhaps on January 1st, I’ll pick it up again for this coming year. I remember a quote from Oswald Chambers about God helping Himself to our lives…. I found the quote below from a cached page from

Wisdom from Oswald Chambers

Is He going to help Himself to your life, or are you taken up with your conception of what you are going to do? God is responsible for our lives, and the one great keynote is reckless reliance upon Him.  Approved Unto God, 10 R

Thanksgiving/Christmas Recipe Collection

Over the past 2 years, I’ve posted some new recipes and photos of our book recipes for Thanksgiving and Christmas. In order to ease your preparations for the end-of-the-year celebrations, I thought I’d collect all of these into one post for reference. For the recipes from A Recipe for Survival, I’ve listed the page from the book.  For the recipes I developed after we published the book, I’ve included the link so that you can read the original post. As always, let me know if you have any questions or if you’d like a recipe I haven’t included.

Gluten-free Thanksgiving Meal

The Main AttractionThe (un)Basted Bird

In 2012, I had the best results ever in preparing the turkey, and based on the post above, I suppose the success may be due to the simple approach I took that year. I couldn’t find any details about that year in my collections of scratch notes on recipe experiments, so I’m guessing what I wrote in that post is the most reliable account of what I did to achieve that beautiful and tasty result pictured above. I think the spices and herbs I used would have been some nutmeg, black pepper and salt along with the rosemary, sage and thyme which came as a potted trio from my local Sprouts. I’ve been able to keep some of the plants alive for the following years, but it may be time to update my thyme along with the rosemary.  🙂

Candy's Dressing

The Delicious Dressing (A.K.A. Candy’s Dressing)

We LOVE this dish!!!! Save yourself some stress later in the season by using the Crusty Dinner Rolls recipe to make a loaf of bread in advance. Wrap and freeze the bread for use later in the dressing recipe. Here are some tips for wrapping and freezing breads.

Gluten-free Thanksgiving with side dishes

The Enticing Ensemble of Side Dishes

The Savory Sweet Potatoes …. or are these Garnet Yams? I know there’s a difference, but whatever name they go by in the store, I buy them, fix them and we eat them! Simple, yet delicious, the results of following these directions pleased our palates and our insides!

The Grand Green Beans (A.K.A.  Grandma’s Green Beans, pictured above with the Savory Sweet Potatoes) We enjoy this recipe from time to time throughout the year, and it’s on page 91 of A Recipe for Survival.

Gluten-free, corn-free Crusty Dinner Rolls 2

The Delicious Dinner Rolls (A.K.A. Crusty Dinner Rolls)

This has become my favorite recipe for bread. Besides making rolls with it, I’ve used it to make loaves of bread which I can then use for making sandwiches or for any recipe calling for bread crumbs.

The Cranberry Sauce

The Slightly Sweet Cranberry Sauce is pictured above with the rest of the side dishes, and you can find the recipe here.

The Decadent Desserts

Gluten-free Almond Christmas Carol Cookies

Almond Christmas Carol Cookies

This recipe is in our book, A Recipe for Survival, on page 162, and it’s a sample recipe on this site.

Gluten-free Aunt Nellie's Pumpkin Pie

Aunt Nellie’s Pumpkin Pie

This recipe is on page 163 of A Recipe for Survival, and it’s also available as a sample recipe on this website. You can click on the photo of the sample recipe in order to increase the size of the font. It’s pretty hard to read if you don’t click on it first to zoom in on the text.

Gluten-free chocolate cake

Chocolate Cake

This recipe is on page 174 of A Recipe for Survival; and the photo above does not do it justice! This has been well-received at church gatherings…. even by those who don’t have to eat a gluten-free diet! The creamy chocolate frosting (page 175 of A Recipe for Survival) adds an exceptional extra tasty finish.

Gluten-free Snickerdoodles


These are perfect! Here’s the recipe!

Gluten-free sweet rolls

Sweet Rolls

These have been called “amazing!” The recipe is on pages 178-179 of A Recipe for Survival, and check this post and this post for tips on how to prepare them.

Enjoy your special foods for this special time of year when we remember all for which we are thankful to God… especially His gift of salvation! How wonderful that His kindness is everlasting!

Psalm 106:1 (NASB)

Praise the Lord!

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good

For His lovingkindness is everlasting.

Chicken Noodle Soup and a Mother’s Legacy

How often do you consider how you were introduced to the truth?

We have some friends from Fiji, and I remember a sermon he preached in which he shared a little of the history of their country and how the Gospel came to his homeland. He expressed gratitude for the sacrifices made by those first missionaries who came to his country, bringing the Gospel. Because cannibalism was practiced at that time in Fiji, the missionaries were consumed. But before the missionaries died, God used them to share the truth with some of the Fijians, and eventually through the generations, our friends heard the good news of the Gospel.

In my case, I’m thankful for the Godly heritage on both sides of my family. My grandma’s mother, Dixie Lee Gabbard, raised her children faithfully, and now, four generations later, we see her devotion to the Lord in some of her poetry, and we continue to benefit from the cumulative effect of one generation passing the truth on to the next. My grandma, her daughter, says the following poem is her favorite…


Some days, when I’m tired of my daily routine

And the urge of my heart I can’t still,

There’s a well-worn path my feet often take,

Past the barn, to the top of the hill.

Although I’m aware when I start on my way,

There’ll be numerous joys to thrill,

I’m never exactly prepared for the “lift”

That I get at the top of the hill.

All nature is hushed– ‘Tis the presence of God,

Why else so calm and so still?

And there’s sweetest communion and peace for my soul

Found in reverie here on the hill.

I’ve never had riches and never known fame-

I’ve no such desire to fulfill,

But, rather I’d see some tired, erring mortal

Find peace at the top of the hill.

When I’m gone and appraisal of my possessions

Reveals their value nil;

Then you’ll know they’ve not learned of this priceless enchantment,

That’s mine at the top of the hill.

Grandma remembers that well-worn path past the barn. We have some photos of the time that she took my mom as a little toddler back to Arkansas to visit Grandma Dixie on her farm. I imagine that the three of them took a walk to the top of the hill.

I enjoy photos which show multiple generations… they remind me of God’s faithfulness and grace which extend throughout the years to His creation in general, and to His people in particular.

In addition to our faith, I appreciate recipes being passed on to the next generation. I was glad I could modify Grandma’s famous Chicken Noodle Soup (pages 126-127 of A Recipe for Survival) to make it workable for Brody. Our family has so many wonderful memories surrounding Grandma’s Chicken Noodle Soup, including the evening when Brody’s siblings and parents arrived for our wedding almost 7 years ago.

That night, Grandma prepared a large quantity of soup and cornbread since I had told her many people would be arriving for supper… then when some travel plans shifted due to delayed flights and other reasons, she thought she had way too much soup and began sharing it with the neighbors.

Then later in the evening, most of us showed up, ready to eat! For the last serving, one family member only received roughly a half-cup serving with a little square of cornbread. The stick of butter I pulled from the fridge to offer with the cornbread was the largest serving of all the items I set before him! He was gracious and said the amount of food was just right!

Recently, I prepared a large batch of our version of Grandma’s Chicken Noodle Soup. Brody was satisfied with the results of freezing some of it. I didn’t have any after it had been frozen and thawed, but he assured me that the texture was acceptable.

Grandma's Chicken Noodle Soup

Have you enjoyed the results of modifying a favorite family recipe?

Psalm 145:4 (NASB)

One generation shall praise Your works to another,

And shall declare Your mighty acts.

Celebrating the Sweet with the Sour

The Lord supplied our every need in June as we faced some very busy days while helping Grandma prepare for and recover from back surgery. We are thankful for all those who supported us through prayer, and we praise the Lord for His grace to us. I was particularly amazed that I didn’t miss any work and also didn’t get any of my horrible headaches. We were very thankful that my aunt and uncle were here and able to assist Grandma quite a bit. We were also thankful for the many doctors, nurses, aides and others who served Grandma and who continue to serve her in her rehab stage.

So, we made it through June and then my neighbors heard the unfamiliar sounds of my dusting and vacuuming, and a day or so later, our company arrived! We enjoyed a week with Brody’s parents.

Since we had more hands available, I was able to take some photos I usually can’t take on my own. For example, here’s an action shot! 🙂

Our Special Gluten-free breakfast

On one of the mornings, Brody prepared our Pancakes from page 86 of A Recipe for Survival.


We discovered a gluten-free chicken sausage at Costco recently, so he added that to the special breakfast. On most of the other mornings, we enjoyed Quinoa Cereal from page 87 in A Recipe for Survival. Lately, I’ve been enjoying it with ground flaxseed, rice bran, cinnamon, raisins, chia seeds and goat milk. This morning, I skipped the ground flaxseed since we had run out and I didn’t want to take the time to grind it.

A gluten-free breakfast

One day, we packed a picnic lunch and enjoyed some time at the beach.

Beach time

Brody found some shells to add to his mom’s collection.


Mom graciously allowed us to use her head as pedestal for the food for this photo of our Crackers, Chicken Broccoli Kale Slaw, and Lemon Cake with Strawberries and Lemon icing. We still have a few paper plates from our wedding reception, so we used them for our picnic.


Here’s a shot of the first time I made the lemon cake with strawberries some months ago:


To make the cake, simply follow the directions for Chocolate Cake on page  174 of A Recipe for Survival, but omit the chocolate and substitute hot lemon juice for the hot water. To make the Lemon Icing, put roughly 2 Tbsp of lemon juice in a bowl and then add powdered sugar until it’s the consistency you prefer.

We love the combination of the slightly sweet and slightly sour! It reminds me of June this year for us … we had some difficult days, but the way the Lord gave us all that we needed at every moment added sweetness to the sour moments.

Blessed be the Lord,

Because He has heard the voice of my supplication.

The Lord is my strength and my shield;

My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped;

Therefore my heart exults,

And with my song I shall thank Him.

Psalm 28:6-7

Our Short Lifespans and “Shorties”

Gluten-free Portable Shorties

Recently, Brody read The Conviction to Lead, by Albert Mohler. He read parts of it aloud to me and very few of Mohler’s points impacted me as much as his reminder of our short lifespans.  He shared in this book that he keeps a replica of a human skull on his writing desk to remind himself of the passing of time. What a great reminder! Our short time on earth will soon be over. I was challenged to consider what I’m doing with the rest of my time before eternity begins for me.

This year, I’ll turn 39, and since my mom passed away before she was 49, I recently wondered if I, too, had entered my last decade. In reality, any one of us could enter eternity at any moment as a strong earthquake reminded me a couple of weeks ago. Just as I can’t control the shaking of the earth, so also I do not have any control over the length of my life. I’m glad that the One who does control all things is good and righteous, and therefore, can be trusted.

So teach us to number our days
That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12

May I live more wisely each day, with the Lord’s help, applying His Word to my life.

Some years ago, I visited a friend in Asia. While there, I loved sampling the local cuisine. My favorite item was a snack, often served with tea, or carried on a day trip as a bite of on-the-go nourishment. I tasted a few different varieties, but they all had three things in common:

1) a filling of spicy meat

2) a breading holding it all together

3) a very cute appearance, either little cylinders, roughly 2″ in length or little cakes, roughly 2″ in diameter.

The tasty treats were either baked or fried and I still remember them fondly these 8 years later!

One day toward the end of my visit, my friend’s friend invited us to stop by for tea. I honestly thought I knew what these treats had been called in previous days. But, when my friend heard me say for the second or third time, “Please pass the shorties,” she whispered in my ear, “They’re called “Short Eats.” I was a little embarrassed, but not too much since I thought “Shorties” were an appropriate name – perhaps more fitting – due to the cute factor of the tasty treats’ appearances.

Recently, I had fun making my own version of Shorties, and thought I’d share the results with you.

I started with my Chicken Curry recipe, and then used my Tortilla recipe (page 115 in A Recipe for Survival) or Naan recipe to enclose the meat. The lighting in this photo didn’t show the deep color from the turmeric very well; I’m still figuring out the best ways to photograph the yummy food. It always tastes better than it looks!

Gluten-free Chicken Curry

The first time I made the Shorties, I melted some coconut oil in a frying pan and then tried to roll out my tortilla recipe.

Gluten-free Tortilla Dough

But, since I experimented with coconut oil as a replacement for some of the butter in the dough, the tortillas fell apart much more quickly due to the lower melting point of the coconut oil.

Tortilla preparation

Rolling out Tortillas

I also tried rolling out a rectangular shape of the dough in order to slice the long Shorty into many small Shorties.

Shorties Prep

That didn’t work out really well, so I tried making a little rectangle and making the Shorties individually.

Wrapping up Shorties

After a few attempts, I found the fastest way was to follow the basic pattern I used when making Birthday Danish (pages 164-166 in A Recipe for Survival.) I rolled out one circle of dough, added a little filling and then placed another round bit of dough on top of it, pinched the edges together and eased the Shorty off the counter and into the hot oil.

Filling Shorties

Frying Little Shorties

Frying More Little Shorties

I quickly gave up my attempts to make the Shorties super cute for a tea, and chose to make larger ones that still tasted great and took less time to create.Frying Larger Shorties

My neighbor answered my call for help to photograph my progress for the blog so I wouldn’t smear tortilla dough and chicken curry all over my camera. She suggested that some fresh cilantro would taste yummy with the Shorties; we tried it and loved it! Thanks to my friend and also to Brody for their help in the photography!

A few days later, I used the Naan recipe to make a different version of Shorties.

Shorties in Abundance

The bottom of anything made with the Naan recipe browns very nicely compared to the top.

Baked Shorties

Some tasty tea, cashew nuts and fresh fruit rounded out our mini meal of Shorties. My friend and I enjoyed the fruit of our labors and then shared them with our hubbies.

Shorties and Tea - a Great Mini Meal

These portable and nourishing snacks have a very short lifespan in our home!


Spicy New Experiences and Chicken Curry

I continue to make progress in memorizing Job 38:1-42:6. Earlier this year, Brody and I had a new experience for both of us when thieves broke into our rental car, and I had a new reason to be thankful for having memorized Job 38. The thieves got Brody’s carry-on bag with our computer, 3 copies of A Recipe for Survival and several other items, but Brody got their license plate! When I had some trouble falling asleep that night, I recited Job 38 to myself, and verse 15 took on a new level of meaning for me. When I think about the burglary or other situations, I remind myself that God is the One who sees all and knows all, and those who sin against me will answer to Him one day.

An undercover officer called the next morning to thank Brody for noting the license plate and to ask if we could pick the owner of the vehicle out of a lineup. We knew we couldn’t, but were thankful to have helped the officers a little on the cases they’ve been working on for two years.

If variety is the spice of life, then we had a spicy start to our year!

Here’s a spicy recipe we’ve been enjoying lately. When I first prepared it, I thought something crunchy would help improve the texture, so since then, I’ve served it with almonds or cashew nuts. We’ve received great reviews from friends and relatives who taste-tested it for us. I added the cashew nuts in a most unartistic way for the photo, but it tastes better than it looks. 🙂 And fresh fruit is always a tasty addition to a meal, particularly a spicy one!


Chicken Curry with Cashew Nuts and Grapes

Chicken Curry
(I used the techniques described in A Recipe for Survival to adapt this from my Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, 1996, Meredith, Des Moines, Iowa, editor: Jennifer Darland Darling. I also used some techniques based on comments by The Gangrel on this recipe from All Recipes. My blend of spices was also influenced by a list of ingredients on Grandma’s old container of curry powder from Schilling. I chose coconut oil since my friend from Asia mentioned that she and her friends often use powdered coconut milk to thicken curries, and because I’ve heard that frying foods in coconut oil is better for us than using olive oil. I’m still learning about and experimenting with new oil options!)

2 Tbsp coconut oil
1/4 tsp whole coriander seeds
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 big bay leaf
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp dried crushed red pepper
1 tsp ground ginger
2 cloves garlic
2 large chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup chopped celery
1 Tbsp tapioca flour
1 Tbsp rice flour
1 Tbsp water

1. Melt coconut oil in a large frying pan. Add all the spices and garlic, cook and stir 30 seconds.

2. Cook the chicken until browned, or use cooked chicken to reduce the cooking time.

3. Add chicken broth (I use the liquid from cooking the chicken in a crockpot) and celery.

4. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered for 15 minutes.

5. Combine the tapioca flour and rice flour in a small cup. Add water and mix well. Slowly add flour/water mixture to the skillet, stirring as you add the mixture.

6. Cook and stir for about 30 seconds or until the mixture is of the consistency you desire.

7. Serve over rice with cashew nuts or almonds.



Discernment and a New Family Favorite

About a year ago, I posted this photo when I was linking up with Deep Roots at Home. I had cooked this meal of broccoli, rice, and pork with pomegranate juice since someone had given us a couple of pomegranates.

This was my first time to process a pomegranate and I enjoyed a quiet time of removing the undesirable parts from the beautiful and tasty portion.


We exercise discernment when we put things into our mouths; shouldn't we also exercise discernment regarding what we take into our minds and hearts?

We exercise discernment when we put things into our mouths; shouldn’t we also exercise discernment regarding what we take into our minds and hearts?

I selected a couple of sermons which Brody had downloaded from the Grace To You website and benefited from listening to John MacArthur’s sermons on discernment.

Principles for Discernment Part 1

Principles for Discernment Part 2

Principles for Discernment Part 3

As I was making a physical distinction between the savory and unsavory parts of the pomegranates, I was listening to these sermons on the importance of distinguishing between truth and half-truth…. and I wondered:

How often each day do we exercise discernment regarding what we put into mouths…? Well, maybe not as often as we should! Right?

But, I suspect that we exercise even less discernment regarding what we accept into our thinking, or into our hearts.

May God lead us in His truth and teach us each day!  Psalm 25:4-6

Last year, when I ground up the pomegranate seeds and separated the seeds from the juice, I developed a new recipe to use the seeds. Brody liked it so well that I decided to share it with my brother’s extended family at Thanksgiving this past fall.

Once again, the desire not to waste anything that could be useful produced a companion recipe that was a real favorite among our family members! Enjoy!


Everywhere we look, we can see God's handiwork in His beautiful and orderly creation!

Everywhere we look, we can see God’s handiwork in His beautiful and orderly creation!

Family Favorite Appetizers

1. Prepare a batch of Crackers (See page 111 in A Recipe for Survival, or see the Sample Recipes tab on this site). Remember that you can omit the xanthan gum with perfectly acceptable results. You can opt for the variation that uses coconut oil, chia seeds and sunflower seeds. If you’d like to add the additional fun of shapes, use cookie cutters to shape the cracker dough before baking.

2. Exercise discernment 🙂 and separate the pomegranate seeds from the rest of the fruit. Enjoy the beauty of God’s creation! Brody always comments that the seeds remind him of my wedding set. 🙂 He chose rubies because I had memorized Proverbs 31 in the New International Version when I was in college. (Note verse 10.)

Rubies remind us of Proverbs 31 in the NIV.

Rubies remind us of Proverbs 31 in the NIV.

3. Grind up the seeds in a blender or Vitamix.

4. Strain out the seeds. The juice can be enjoyed as a tasty drink or as a marinade for pork.

5. Press a clove or two of garlic and combine with 1 stick of butter. Add a 1″ piece of fresh ginger root, minced.

6. Spread the crackers with the garlic-ginger-butter. Top with the pomegranate seeds, share with your family and watch them disappear! These were a hit among our family at Thanksgiving. Photo credit: Big Bro

I developed this recipe in order to use up the pomegranate seeds that were left after grinding them up and straining them out of the juice for a marinade.

I developed this recipe in order to use up the pomegranate seeds that were left after grinding them up and straining them out of the juice for a marinade.