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

Holmes’ Team Tasty Tomatoes and Involvement in a Local Church

The process of designing a new dish can be so much more fun when shared with some enthusiastic friends. That is how the Holmes’ Team Tasty Tomatoes side dish (page 93 of A Recipe for Survival) came to be. My friends (A. K. A. Junior Advisory Team) were stopping by for a visit on a day when I was planning to find a way to make kale easier for Brody to digest. He had been struggling to break down greens in his mouth, and I was remembering what I had learned in chemistry about getting different substances to dissolve into a solution.

That day, I shared with my Junior Advisory Team my preliminary thoughts on the design of the dish, and they added their suggestions. We worked together to prepare the dish and after tasting the results, we agreed we had a winning combination of flavors and nutrients! The memories of working together with my friends make this dish even more special to me!

Some months ago, I took pictures as I was making the dish. I prepare tomato dishes more frequently in the summer when the price of tomatoes is lowest, but I don’t always have time to prepare a post at the same time that I am cooking. So, here is a dish that reminds us of summer in the middle of winter! See page 93 of A Recipe for Survival for the recipe.

Holmes' Team Tasty Tomatoes

Holmes' Team Tasty Tomatoes in progress

Holmes' Team Tasty Tomatoes

Recipe design can be enhanced with friends’ suggestions and the activity can be made more enjoyable when sharing their company, but it does not actually require the input of others. However, other aspects of life require interaction with fellow human beings.

Now and then, I hear someone say that we believers don’t need to attend church. In some cases, the person who doesn’t want to be a part of a local body of believers has been hurt in a past church experience. While we human beings can be rather unkind to one another, the answer is not to avoid being a part of a local body.

If I chose not to be a part of a local church, then I would miss out on the opportunities to learn to obey all the “one another” commands in the New Testament. I wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn how to bear with others. I would not have the chance to forgive others if I carefully avoided any situation in which others could hurt me. I would not be able to bear others’ burdens or comfort them if I were not involved in their lives enough to be aware of their burdens or know of their sorrows. I would miss out on so many opportunities for my own spiritual growth if I tried to isolate myself from other  believers.

I also appreciate others’ observations and input into my life. I would miss out on all the benefits of fellow believers’ wisdom and perspective if I chose not to be a part of a church. It’s so easy for us to run off on peculiar tangents of belief; being involved in a church and listening to our leaders provide a safeguard for us not to head too far down any path which may not be Biblical.

I feel sad for those believers who think that building relationships with others in the church is optional. They miss out on precious encouragement from regularly meeting with others who are also learning how to apply God’s Word to their lives. Skipping church means they miss out on the encouragement that comes from hearing others sing God’s praises. Simply seeing my leaders attending church with their families encourages me to continue obeying the Lord in all aspects of my life. Hearing them singing of their love for Christ and knowing that they also are applying God’s Word to their lives throughout the week spurs me on to live my life in a way that honors the Lord.

I remember an expression I heard a long time ago… “We are like bananas; if we get separated from the bunch, we will be skinned!” Perhaps a better reminder comes from the Roman soldiers’ shields.

A few years ago, I heard in a sermon that the shields were built to be interlocking. A quick Google search on the design of their shields confirmed that for me. The sermon I heard was from a series by Pastor Scott Bashoor on the Christian spiritual armor as described by Paul in Ephesians. Paul spent a lot of time with Roman soldiers since he was a prisoner for his faith for years. So, he likely had a visual reminder of armor right beside him as he wrote this passage on the armor of God. The sermon and description of the interlocking shields gave me an encouraging image. Three soldiers could team up together… even if the one in the middle were quaking in his sandals, the two on either side could link their shields to his, and together, the other two could help the one in the middle to stand his ground. There are times in all of our lives that we need fellow believers to help us to persevere. What a loss for those who choose not to interact with and build relationships with others in a local church!

Psalm 35:18 from

I will give You thanks in the great congregation;
I will praise You among a mighty throng.

Hebrews 10:23-25 from

23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

Ephesians 6:10-20 from

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against [a]flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore,having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 [b]in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 [c]With all prayer and petition [d]pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, [e]be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in [f]chains; that [g]in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

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.

Snickerdoodles and Memories of Mommy

Great Memories of Mommy

My family called my mom, “Mommy” all the years that we were blessed to have her in our lives.

Bible Time started when we were young

Bible Time with Mommy

I am thankful for the many ways she invested in my life and in the lives of so many others. Her investments into the spiritual lives of others will continue to produce dividends for eternity.

This year marks the 20th year since she passed from this life into the next, and I’m remembering many wonderful ways that her life affected so many. Thinking of her accomplishments, the most important was to work with my dad on the translation of the New Testament into Piapoco, one of the minority languages of Colombia and Venezuela. Below is a photo from the final checking of the text before the New Testament was formatted for the first printing back in 1986.

Final Checking of New Testament in Piapoco

Our Piapoco friends were very excited to have the New Testament completed in their own language! When the first copies arrived in each village, the leaders prayed with my dad, thanking God for the New Testament in their language….

New Testament Distribution

Thankful for the Piapoco New Testament

…. and then everyone wanted a copy!

Everyone wanted a copy of the New Testament in their own language

Let the Little Children Come!

We are thankful to be in contact with some of the Piapocos we knew in Colombia. They are still enthusiastically requesting copies of the New Testament and the book of hymns and choruses in Piapoco, most of which my mom wrote for them. This month, the New Testament is in the reprint process. We praise the Lord for this wonderful news that the Piapoco people still value God’s Word in their own language and continue to request it.

If you’re interested, you can see what the New Testament in Piapoco with Spanish section titles looks like here on Scripture Earth. This is a neat site to view various resources in many different languages from around the world. If you visit Scripture Earth, you can see some other results of my parents’ efforts – the three volumes summarizing the Old Testament.

Even as my parents were focused on their work as translators, they never let my brother and me feel as if we were less important than their ministry. Instead, they found ways to include us in their work. We listened as my mom taught people how to read and write and we joined in as my mom taught the villagers the new songs she had written for them in their language.

Teaching Literacy on the Front Porch

We also helped collate the pages of the hymn books when they were printed and ready for assembly and distribution.

Collating the Piapoco Hymnbook

My mom invested in my life in so many ways; the most important was her influence to trust and obey my Lord. She also encouraged me to learn to cook. She didn’t enjoy working in the kitchen very much and didn’t have a lot to teach me, but she encouraged me to read the recipes in the cookbook and follow them. Her contribution was to wash the dishes to keep me motivated! I enjoyed learning to cook and I appreciated her help with the clean up process.

She had a few recipes I remember fondly. One recipe I remember she would prepare almost every Christmas was for Snickerdoodles. I still have not located the old notebook of recipes that she and my dad prepared and collected while we were in Colombia, but I found a Snickerdoodle recipe in my Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook.

Following the method outlined in A Recipe for Survival for converting a standard recipe to a gluten-free recipe, I developed the following:

Gluten-free Snickerdoodles



1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup raw cane sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1 egg

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup sorghum flour

1/4 cup coconut flour

3/4 cup tapioca flour

1/4 cup rice flour

1/4 tsp xanthan gum

1 Tbsp rice bran

1 Tbsp flax seed

2 Tbsp raw cane sugar

1 tsp cinammon


1. Beat the butter for 30 seconds using an electric mixer.

2. Add the 1/2 cup sugar and baking powder to the butter and mix in well with the mixer.

3. Add the egg and honey to the mixture and mix them in completely.

4. In a separate bowl, combine everything else except the 2 Tbsp sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon.

5. Add the dry mixture into the wet mixture and mix well.

6. Cover the dough and chill it in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

7. In a separate little bowl, combine the 2 Tbsp sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon.

8. Using roughly 1 -1/2 Tbsp of dough, prepare each little sphere of cookie dough. Roll the spheres in the sugar/cinnamon mixture and then place on a cookie sheet, approximately 2 inches apart.

9. Bake in a 375 F oven for 10-11 minutes. For my oven, I find it’s best not to preheat it for this recipe.

10. Remove the cookie sheets from the oven. After 1 minute of cooling on the sheets, remove the cookies from the sheets and place the cookies on a cooling rack.

Enjoy making your own memories with these tasty cookies!

Sweet Rolls and the Sweet Exchange

Gluten-free Sweet Rolls

A few months before we decided to publish our book, a friend on a very strict gluten-free diet asked me to develop a sweet roll recipe she could enjoy. Usually, something unique has to occur for me to invest time, energy and ingredients in experimenting with a dessert. For example, both of the cakes I developed were for receptions for friends who were either getting married or renewing their vows. In this case, since my friend was craving the sweet rolls, I decided to work on the project.

A couple of years ago, I posted some tips for following the recipe in our book. You may want to refer to that post before beginning your sweet roll preparation.

In the event that you would like to try preparing the recipe on pages 178-179 of A Recipe for Survival,  I took some video to show how I work with the dough. I prefer to add the water in the recipe so that the dough rises better. It’s a very moist dough.

Gluten-free sweet roll preparation

It starts out as a small amount of dough,

Gluten-free sweet roll dough ready to rise

but then after an hour or so in my oven with the pilot light on, it rises very well.

Our gluten-free dough has risen!

But that means that I need to add more tapioca and/or rice flour just before and while rolling out the dough in order to make it workable.

This was the first time that I tried recording videos, so the results are not stellar as far as lighting and technical quality go, but I didn’t want to invest another day in making sweet rolls and videoing the process. Brody is good at editing videos and cleaning up the rough start I make to video projects; however in this case, he could not do anything with the footage due to how I saved the files off the camera onto the computer. So, here they are, in unedited form. To give credit where it is due, the CD you will hear in the background of the videos is Acoustic Hymns 20 Favorites Featuring Jack Jezzro produced by greentree records. It is one of my favorites to play while I’m at home, cooking.

YouTube Videos

Tea with gluten-free sweet rolls

Based on some conversations with my gluten-free friends, I suspect they dream of a stack of sweet rolls with a cascade of icing!

Gluten-free Sweet Rolls with Icing

A person who craves sweet rolls which don’t make him/her ill may consider this recipe and the results precious.  In fact, one person recently described these rolls as “amazing.” However, even more precious and amazing is the judicial transaction referred to as “The Sweet Exchange” in a 2nd century letter to Diognetus from Mathetes. You can find a helpful background for this letter and the English translation of the original letter at The letter has been divided into chapters and verses for ease of reference. Chapter 9, verse 5 is the verse which has inspired sermons and songs mentioning “The Sweet Exchange.”

Even sweeter than the tastiest food here on earth is the knowledge that Christ took on my sin and God gave me Christ’s righteousness. Only through Jesus Christ is God both just and merciful. I see His justice in His punishment of my sin in Christ. He shows His mercy by not giving me the punishment I deserve.

All my daily pain, difficulties and disappointments fade into the background as I meditate on the kindness of God to give me Christ’s righteousness and take away my sin. God’s Word calls my good works apart from Christ “filthy rags.” Remembering those verses in Isaiah adds depth to my understanding of a new song, “His Robes for Mine,” our church learned a couple of years ago. This rendition of His Robes for Mine is particularly inspiring and encouraging to me. While preparing this post, I played this over and over. I discovered that I craved it just as I used to crave chocolate! The lyrics for the song can be found here.

Perhaps you’ll enjoy making these “amazing” gluten-free sweet rolls, but more importantly, I pray that you will be encouraged in your difficulties as you meditate on God’s truly amazing grace toward helpless sinners.

Romans 5:6 (NASB) For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

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.

Pumpkins and Poetry

My great-grandma, Dixie Lee Gabbard, enjoyed writing poetry throughout her life. Many years ago, my grandma worked with others in the family to publish a collection of her poems in a little booklet, “By-Paths By Dixie Foot-log and Other Poems.” Before these were published in this booklet, some of the poems were read on a radio program on KGRH in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and one of them was published in a newspaper in California.

A couple of years ago, when I was processing a pumpkin for freezing the pulp for pies and pumpkin bread throughout the year, I decided I’d try planting some of the seeds since some had already begun to sprout inside the pumpkin.

I was disappointed when nothing sprouted after about 7 days and I stopped watering and checking the seeds. But around the 2 week mark, I visited my little plot of dirt and was astonished to see a great number of little seedlings pushing up the earth. I couldn’t bear to throw away any little plants, so I transplanted them, and took many little seedlings to church to share with my friends.

My little pumpkin seedlings ready to share

I kept a couple plants for myself, but they soon became too big for the area I had to work with and I had to give up on them. But, my friend shared her seedlings with her grandchildren, and they enjoyed great success with their plants.

A proud pumpkin-grower

The children were thrilled with the results of their efforts when the time came to process their pumpkins.

Processing the Pumpkin Pulp

Many, many pies could be made with all the pumpkin they produced. They also had fun carving some.

More Pumpkin Fun

I became known to the children as “Grandma’s Pumpkin Friend.”

This experience of multiplied fun with pumpkins reminded me of one of my great-grandma’s poems, “Growing.”


Last fall, a neighbor gave to us
A pumpkin from his field
When he had gathered in his crop
And counted up his yield.

Now when I cooked that pumpkin
I tossed both peel and seeds
Quite thoughtlessly and carelessly
Into a patch of weeds.

We gave the shell to children
To enjoy on Hallow e’en
And shared the pulp with neighbors
For tasty cuisine.

And so this fall imagine
Our delight and great surprise
To find three nice ripe pumpkins there
And each of ample size.

Here’s proof a friendly gesture,
Kind word, or even food
Can grow, produce and multiply
And do a world of good!

My great-grandma’s poem reminds me of these verses:

Galatians 6:9-10, NASB

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

This year, I’m trying to prepare for the busy cooking time of the year in advance. I noticed that my sister-in-law, Amy, from whom I received the original gluten-filled pumpkin bread recipe, often freezes breads in advance to make meal preparation easier during busy times. I’ve frozen our pumpkin bread recipe before, too, and was satisfied with the results, so this year, I’m beginning to prepare now for the busy months ahead. For the recipe for Amy’s Pumpkin Bread, see page 108 of A Recipe for Survival.

The bread remains moist even after freezing as long as very little air is in the packaging with the bread.

Our favorite gluten-free pumpkin bread

I started with my full-sized loaves and cut them into smaller portions that would work for a 1-2 day supply for Brody’s lunches.

Wrapping up tasty pumpkin bread

I wrapped the bread in BPA-free press ‘n’ seal and then aluminum foil, and then sealed it in a zip-loc bag to ensure that the foil would not be unwrapped due to the shuffling that occurs in our freezer as we rummage for different items.

Ready for freezing pumpkin bread!

Now we can enjoy fresh-tasting bread over a longer period of time!