A Sin Is a Sin…..Is a Sin (Part 2)

Continued from yesterday…

Here on Earth there would be different consequences for those different sins. But how does God see it?

If you have read the Bible, you know that there is actually no list in there that ranks sins. It’s not in there! I’ve read it cover to cover, and it’s not there. There are a few places in the Bible that list certain crimes and appropriate punishments (Leviticus comes to mind) and these are helpful because they show us today how much God has always loved and taken care of His people. Those laws, in part, tell the ancient Hebrew people how to avoid things and actions that could have wiped them out as a nation…for example did you know that the Bible describes how to monitor and eliminate black mold in your house? Pretty cool for a people who lived thousands of years ago and who had noway of knowing what a bacteria or fungus was or that certain molds can kill you. I think those laws and punishments for failing to follow them are in the Bible to show us how God gave us a set of rules when we needed them most to keep us safe and out of trouble. But I digress…

If you think about it, that makes sense even from a purely practical standpoint…if the Bible were a handbook of sins, listing their names and rank in ascending order and describing the appropriate punishment for each sin, then it would read like a law library. They’d have had to list every possible sin from the beginning of time through present. Can you imagine some ancient brother sitting there in the sun in his goat-hair shirt, scratching out the punishment for Cyber-Hacking on a scroll of parchment? Let me tell you, from the point of view of a parent it’s pretty darn hard to anticipate which sorts of sins your kids will come up with in advance of the crime…never in my life would I have thought to warn my son against pogo-sticking down a flight of stairs, but sure enough he went ahead and did it! And that’s just one person…think of all the creative sinning the human race manages to come up with! Once you got down all the sinful possibilities, it would also require hundreds of thousands of volumes to contain all that information and I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that very few…VERY FEW…people would be compelled to… or even able to… to read it!

That’s not the kind of God we have. He’s not up there with a pencil and notepad, checking off our sins and ranking their offensiveness on a scale of 1 to 10. There’s no report card where you might earn a B- because of your accumulation of little piddly sins, or an F because of your grievous sins. He also doesn’t grade on a curve, so if you were banking on that one you can put that thought to rest. Don’t get me wrong…it’s not that he doesn’t notice the sins…in fact he knows every action and every thought that we’ve ever experienced! But in God’s eyes, anything that falls short of perfect and glorious is…a sin. Period. A small sin is a big sin is a medium sin. A sin is a sin….. is a sin.

Wait a minute here! Hold the phone. So am I telling you that if you grumble an insult to the slow checker at the supermarket, that makes you as bad a sinner as if you were to murder someone if cold blood? How could that be? Surely not! Well….here’s what Jesus said about that: (Matthew 21-22) “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca, is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” (By the way, “Raca” is just a term of contempt in Aramaic …so when I read that passage I can just substitute Raca for whatever nasty term I used to describe the driver who cut me off on the freeway last week). It’s harsh, but there you have it…the sin of being angry is the same as the sin of murder in God’s eyes. Yipes!

What does that mean for me? Well, here’s the third point I’ve been thinking about. The fact that all sins are equal in God’s eyes, and therefore we are all equally sinners in God’s eyes can change the way you think in a couple of ways. One is this….any idea I might have had that I am somehow better than anyone else is pretty much nullified. I’m not holier than thou…or than anyone else for that matter! I’m just an ordinary sinner, whether I’m a prison inmate or a pastor at a mission in Africa. The other is, even if I have some pretty nasty sins on my record, I need to accept the fact that God sees me in the same light as he does the really, really “good” people! My sins are no bigger, no harder for God to forgive, no more black or ugly than anyone else’s sins. Mother Theresa, Jeffery Dhalmer, and the homeschool’n housewife mother of 3 are all in the same boat, sin wise.

So where does that leave us? We’re all sinners, and all sins separate us equally from God. If you have made it this far in this rather lengthy post you are probably thinking….”Gee, thanks! That was a terribly uplifting thought for the day!” Well…I don’t mean to bum you out, honestly I don’t. The really great news is that God is all powerful, and He is bigger than any sin we could ever come up with. It is not God’s desire to see us all die in our sin, so He gave us a way to reconcile ourselves to Him! It’s not hard. There is no thousand-volume set of law encyclopedias involved, no long list of do’s and don’ts, no committee that meets to see who can and who cannot be forgiven of their sins. God offers complete forgiveness to us as a free gift, no strings attached. All we have to do is accept it! All we have to do is ask.

This is turning into another novel…so I’m going to sign off for the day. But there’s so much more! God is so good. And I am really excited to write it down….if you’ve made it this far on this post, thanks for sticking it out! I hope I made at least some sense here and that I haven’t butchered what I was trying to say. The thoughts move so much faster than the words, it’s hard to get them down!


A sin is a sin….is a sin (or…what I should have written) Part 1

I need to apologize…I have to admit that I’ve been lazy this week about my posts and I’m feeling bad about it. The last week, God has been leading me to write about something and I just haven’t wanted to take the time…it’s not that I don’t want to write, it’s just that there have been so many other things going on and I haven’t wanted to take the time to think it through and sit down and just do it. I’ve had that sort of nagging feeling, “you should really sit down and write something about faith today” pretty much every day this week, and I’ve been writing what I’d say when I finally got around to it in my head all week long. There have even been little moments when verses that go with it have popped up here and there, or something I’ve read has gone along with my thoughts. So I know by now I darn well should have taken the time, and I haven’t! Then, this morning at church our friend Phil taught…and sure enough he said exactly what I’d been thinking about writing all week long! In fact, the title of this post, which I had planned out a few days ago but kept putting off (minus the ‘what I should have written’ part, of course) was mentioned in his sermon verbatim. Wouldn’t it have been cool if I’d have gone ahead and written it when I should have? Sorry, God.

Anyway…here’s my thought.

A sin…is a sin…is a sin. This is an important thing to think about and to remember, and it really makes a difference for several reasons. Let me see if I can get my thoughts out straight.

First point: What’s a sin? Is it possible that some people don’t sin? I could go into this one point for hours, but of course I think we’d all pretty much agree that everybody sins at one point or another at the very least. To “sin”, according to the original Biblical meaning of the word, means “to miss the mark.” The mark, in this case, is the standard of perfection established by God and evidenced by Jesus. If you want to read more about it, here’s a good website.

So, what does that mean? Well, in a nutshell….God is perfect. We are not. Basically, wherever we fall short of perfection is sin. Jesus was able to make it through life without sin, because he was God. For the rest of us, having a 1oo% human pedigree means…sin.

Let’s face it…no matter how hard to try to be ‘good’, you’re going to blow it eventually. In fact I challenge you to try this….be perfect in your thoughts, mood, attitude, and actions for…let’s see…for 15 minutes. That’s not too long, right? Forgive the arrogance, but in general people probably would consider me a pretty ‘good’ person, I’m a church going Christian, I pay my taxes, I obey the law, I’m generally nice to people. I can honestly say, though, that I’d fail the 15 minute test. Part of it might be due to the fact that trying to be perfect would cause little inappropriate thoughts to pop into my head like mental Tourette’s induced by effort of trying to be perfect (yeah, I’ve got a bit of that in me). But part of it is…well…it’s just not possible to be good all the time. I can usually manage not to say or do anything offensive, but at the very least I can guarantee you that I can’t avoid thinking something bad, probably even for 15 minutes. Try it if you want…and let me know if you succeed! If you do, I want to know how you managed it. Romans 3:23 says: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (italics mine).

So, if you’ve gotten this far and can agree with me that sin exists and that we all sin, here is my second point. How do you ‘grade’ sin? Is one sin greater than another? That’s a really tough one. Here’s the thing…there are certainly some sins whose consequences here on Earth are greater than others. It will, for example, cause more damage to society if I decide to blow up my local supermarket because I am upset that I have to wait in line for half an hour than if I stand there in the line and complain loudly about the ineptitude of the checker, the inadequacy of the management and the overindulgent nature of the person in front of me with the 2,000 items in her cart. One option will cause serious damage and heartache while the other will only cause a few people to have to listen to my bad attitude, perhaps create a bit of angst in a few other patrons, and make me look like a jerk. However, neither choice is a good one and both of them are sins. Are you following me?

Here on Earth there would be different consequences for those different sins. But how does God see it?

I hate to, but I’m going to break off here and continue this post later. I promise I won’t leave you hanging long, but this is getting long and I’m thinking it’s too much to digest all at once right now…at least I’m feeling like I need a quick break. So, part two is coming!

Funny Photos

Just a quick post…I took these photos for a website I’m working on for the kids’ swim coach, who has become a member of our family. Crystal, we love you! She’s been teaching the kids for nearly 3 years now, and she’s like more like a close aunt to the kids than a coach!

I needed a photo of a child jumping into the pool, and have had a terrible time trying to get a good picture at the actual pool (too many kids, difficult lighting situations). So, one of these will get edited in Photoshop instead. I love these, because they are just so….RACHEL. She has such a funny look on her face and her favorite ladybug necklace is sort of floating mid air…I will probably work on this shot quite a bit and might re-do the whole thing before it goes on the site, but I just wanted to share these funny shots!

This Week’s Gluten Free Menu (with links to gluten free dining out )

Here I am again…has it already been a week?!? Amazing how time flies.

Saturday: Mexican Casserole. Layer corn tortillas in the bottom of a baking dish. Add a layer of refried beans (I mix about 1/2 cup salsa into one can of beans to make them taste better and spread easier). Add a layer of cooked ground beef (the beef is mixed with one package of gf taco seasoning (we use Western Family store brand), one can corn, and one can black beans). Add black olives and chopped red onion. Crumble goat feta (or skip this if you can’t have it, or add grated cheddar if you can have that instead) over the olives and onion. Pour 1 1/2 cups homemade enchiladas sauce over everything (to make this: throw a large can of chopped tomatoes with the liquid and a 2 cans of chopped green chilis into the blender with 4 teaspoons chili powder and a teaspoon of salt. Blend until smooth.) Repeat layers, ending with goat cheese (if you’re using it) and sauce. Bake at 350 until everything is hot and bubbly. Serve with a salad and left over homemade sauce.

Sunday: My father in law’s birthday, at my inlaw’s house. I don’t know what we’re eating…this of course makes me very nervous. At an event like this I will often bring a little something for Isaiah and I to eat, I will bring some gluten free cookies because there won’t be cake for us and probably a gluten free sandwich for Isaiah. You have to watch out at other people’s houses…potato salad might be gf except they used mayo that has crumbs in it…burgers might be gf but watch out that they didn’t grill the buns there first. It can be hard to avoid hurting feelings but it’s pretty darn common to go home from dinner at someone else’s house having been ‘glutened‘. Sigh.

Monday: Pizza! I buy Kinnikinnik or Glutano pizza crusts. Add Hormel pepperoni (I like the turkey kind), pizza sauce (1 can tomato sauce, 1 sm. can tomato paste, basil, oregano, 3 cloves fresh garlic…let simmer a few minutes and then put it on the crust!), mushrooms, bell peppers, olives and goat cheese on top. Serve with a tossed salad. Yum!

Tuesday: Grilled chicken and vegetables with rice pilaf, avocado and broccoli. My sister inlaw made this for us and it was wonderful! She’s in the same boat GI wise and knows what’s up. Put frozen chicken in a zip lock bag. In a separate bag, place small sweet peppers, thick slices of zucchini, and halved large mushrooms. Mix olive oil, a dash of white balsamic vinegar, pressed garlic, sea salt and lime juice together (you should have about a cup all together). Pour half of the mixture into each bag, let sit in the fridge overnight. Grill the chicken and vegetables and serve with rice pilaf (brown rice cooked with gf chicken broth…Pacific brand for us… instead of water, and a little garlic, parsley flakes, and saffron). Steamed broccoli and sliced avocado on the side.

Wednesday: A tossed green salad with leftover cold grilled chicken and vegetables, red kidney beans, red onion, olives, cucumber and feta cheese. Dressing: either Ranch (for those who can tolerate milk) or vinaigrette made of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic and brown mustard.

Thursday: Tuna Salad (with roll-ups for the kids). Tuna salad with mayo, pickles, red onion, and a bit of mustard served on a bed of lettuce with crumbled corn chips on top for me and hubby, the same tuna served with lettuce and rolled in a rice tortilla for the kids.

Friday: Eat out. Some options with GF menus: Outback Steakhouse, Wendy’s. I will try to put some eating out options on the blog when we eat out, you can click the names of the restaurants to see and print their gluten free menu. I don’t know if we will actually eat this week at one of the restaurants I list, but I figure it will give everyone a chance to download some menus for future reference! I’ve started to print these out and keep them in my car, so if we need to eat out we’ve got a variety of choices on hand and already have the menu printed out. Keep those updated, though, and ask when you order if what you’re getting is still safe. You never know when they might change something!

Enjoy! Email or leave a comment if you need better details on a recipe. Or hey….if you’ve got a great dinner suggestion I’d love to hear it!

Track and Field (a happier post)

I thought I’d post an update about the kids’ Track and Field…since my last post about it was so dismal! It’s going better, and the kids are (for the most part) enjoying it. We did switch locations, and the high school where they are practicing now is a much more supportive and fun environment! They have found some friends, in fact we’ve run into a couple of people we knew years ago and had lost track of (no pun intended). They’ve done two meets so far, and although it’s been hot and they’ve been tired they have carried on with minimal complaining. The kids are by no means coming in first, in fact we’re thrilled and consider it a success when they don’t come in last. But, they’re having fun and getting some exercise and meeting a few new people. The parents at the new school are much more supportive, and at the meets they cheer everyone on equally and give a lot of loud, whooping support for both the first and the last runners in each race.

Isaiah is doing OK, although he is definitely feeling the effects of GERD and a winter of illness. After the first meet, he had a reflux attack and it took awhile for him to feel better. It did subside fairly quickly, though, and didn’t leave him sick for long. Sports can make reflux flare, and I was sort of ready for that possibility…but we were really glad that it was temporary and didn’t set off a long relapse. The last meet, he struggled a little with allergies, which were pretty bad that day. He had a little wheezing going on after he ran the 1/2 mile, so we will be checking with the allergist next month to see if maybe there’s a little asthma going on now too. Sigh. However, he did try and he did choose to run a longer race this time, so I am very proud of him for putting out the effort and for sticking it out. We are going to set a goal of running another 5K this fall, and work slowly towards it. Hopefully the strength and endurance training will help keep him healthier over the winter this year! It sucks to see him struggle with something he used to do so easily, but it is getting better little by little and I am proud that his attitude is so good about it.

The fun news…we were surprised by Rachel and Isaiah both getting ribbons in the 4×100 relay race! Rachel’s team got second, and Isaiah’s took third. Poor Sarah was disappointed that she didn’t get one this time, but it was a good chance to discuss the fact that you have to get out of your comfort zone and try things in order to succeed. She is pretty reluctant to try new things the first time, and didn’t want to sign up for a relay race…but the last meet she did run one and her team did well, so I bet she’ll get a ribbon next time they meet. As you can see from the photos, Rachel is proud as can be of her ribbon, and Isaiah is looking exhausted (just finished practice) and a little conflicted about his.

Another interesting issue…I hadn’t thought of it, but the starting gun is a big issue for Sarah and Rachel. Both kids are very, very sensitive to sound, and waiting for that dang gun to go off just about drives them crazy. Sarah looks like a deer in the headlights at the starting line, and Rachel stands there with her fingers in her ears and gets a late start because she won’t take them out until after the gun goes off! These are not children who enjoy fireworks, by the way. Hopefully by the last meet they will have learned to deal with it!

And one last little brag….Rachel ran the 1/2 mile at Tuesday’s meet! I was so proud of her. She knew that Isaiah was running it, and even though she was by far the youngest to try it she decided to go for it. “Will you yell ‘WooooHoooo‘ really loud for me? Will everyone clap?” She asked me before deciding to run. Of course I will! That was the deciding factor for her…and she wasn’t let down! It was so darn cute. The other runners were taller than her by at least a foot, she was this little tiny speck in pink shorts amid a bunch of bigger kids. She ran with flare, too…her little arms up in a victory dance periodically whenever the mood struck. She was about 3/4 a track behind the last runner when she finished, and the whole crowd on the bleachers stood up and cheered and yelled and clapped as she passed by! One of the coaches from the other team followed her back to the bleachers and told her “Some day, little girl, you’re going to be in the Olympics!” Rachel was so thrilled, she felt like a champion. Odd are high that despite finishing 5 minutes after everyone else did, she’ll still get an award…since she was the only one in her age group to run!

So, I am really glad that we decided to see it through. It was a bad first impression, but this has by far been worth the sign up fee and the cost of the shoes! Rather than being stressful, it’s been supportive and fun. I’m thankful we’ve been able to do it!

New Layout…."Sweet Sisters"

My sweet girls! Andrew took these photos awhile ago, but I still love them. I love this kit, too. I think it’s a fun mix of sparkles, pearls, and grungy metal….perfect for a couple of tree-climbing princesses! The kit was a freebie from Lalilounet (it’s French…click here for the translated version) and she had a lot of really cute kits, a few of which are free! Credits: All elements and papers from Divine3 kit…I am not entirely sure how to give credits here, but I have linked to the designer’s blog and when I figure it out I’ll post it right! The fonts used are BNfontboy, and Beyond Wonderland.

Gluten Free Black Forest Cake

This is my kids’ favorite cake. It tastes even better than it looks! The chocolate layers are accented by the sweet cherries and tangy chocolate cream cheese frosting. It’s not hard to make, either! The one in the photo is not my best, again it was so darn hot that the frosting was a little too soft. I’ll post another photo the next time I make one (Yea, hubby…the swamp cooler is fixed! No more melted frosting….).

The Cake:
1 1/2 cups white rice flour
3/4 cups tapioca flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
4 eggs
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1 cup cocoa
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1 cup milk (dairy, soy or rice)

The Frosting and Filling:
2 blocks cream cheese (or substitute)
4 cups powdered sugar
1 cup cocoa
1 can Cherry Pie filling (gluten free)

Make the Cake:
oven 350 F
Mix all dry ingredients except the cocoa in one bowl. Cream the eggs, sugar, mayo and cocoa in another bowl. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture, alternating with the milk. Whip with electric mixer for at least 5 minutes or until well blended. Pour into 2 nine inch greased pans, bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, take cakes out of the pans and allow to cool for another 10 minutes.

Make the Frosting:
Whip the cream cheese, sugar and cocoa together until well blended. Add water until the frosting is a thick, spreadable consistency. Fill a frosting gun or bag with about 1/3 of the frosting and set aside (in the fridge might be a good idea if it is hot in your kitchen!).

Assemble the cake:
Set one layer of cake on a plate. Spread a thin layer of frosting over the top of the cake, and frost the sides. Using the frosting gun or bag, pipe a rim of frosting around the outer edge of the cake (this is to hold the filling in, so don’t skip this step!). Pipe swirls around the bottom of the cake. Fill the top of the first layer, inside the rim of frosting, with about 1/2 of the can of cherry pie filling. Place the second layer of cake on top. Put a thin layer of frosting on top of the second cake, and frost the sides. You will need to add extra frosting to the area where the two layers meet, to cover the gap and make sure no filling escapes. Next, spread the rest of the cherry filling over the top of the cake, leaving about 3/4 inch around the outer edge bare. Pipe frosting swirls, rosettes, or stars around the outer edge of the top of the cake, to hold in the filling. Pipe a frosting rose in the center of the cake and add a cherry, and you’re good to go! I sometimes add whipped cream and chocolate shavings to the top of the cake for a little added flair.


This Week’s Gluten Free menu

As always, just email or leave a comment if you want more info on a recipe!

Saturday: Grilled chicken with barbecue sauce (Kraft), a green salad, corn on the cob. We’ll grill extra chicken to use on Monday.

Sunday: Grilled burgers (Lipton Onion soup and and Worcestershire sauce in the meat), fruit salad, green salad, home fries (toss cut potatoes, skin on, with olive oil and sea salt. Bake until crispy). Oreo Cake for dessert! (recipe will follow)

Monday: Left over grilled chicken sandwiches. Grilled chicken, barbecue sauce, lettuce and pickle on a bun. Gluten free macaroni salad and fruit salad.

Tuesday: Pasta salad with summer sausage, feta cheese, olives, green and red pepper, red onions, corn, and tomatoes. Steamed artichokes on the side.

Wednesday: Tuna fish salad, lettuce, red onion, and cucumber wrapped in a rice flour tortilla. Watermelon.

Thursday: Chicken Parmesan with marinara sauce over noodles, green salad (roll chicken tenders in mayo, then coat. To make the crumb and cheese mixture: pulse one gf hamburger bun in the food processor, add 1 cup Parmesan cheese, a dash of garlic powder, a dash of oregano and basil and pulse again. Bake chicken strips at 350 until brown and crispy, serve on a bed of noodles with sauce over everything).

Friday: Big salad with lots of greens, grilled chicken, cucumber, dark red kidney beans, olives, red onion, blue cheese, bacon bits, and Ranch dressing. Gluten free corn bread with butter.

Last minute posting

Ok, I’ve got 3 minutes before I miss posting today! No gluten free menu yet, we had a playdate disaster (involving a pogo stick and a flight of stairs), a track meet, and a late night movie in the park…I’m calling it a day! I’ll post that menu tomorrow….

Sweet dreams!

I’m a failure at SIMS.

And now for something completely different….

I am a complete failure at SIMS. Sarah got a SIMS pets program for the Wii, and after a very long time we managed to figure out how to create a Sims family. A couple with a dog and two cats (we had to try on every outfit, every nose, and every body piercing before we finally landed on a vanilla sort of family that looks remarkably like…us). It was pretty good quality time for awhile there, because we enjoyed playing around with the characters and making up personalities for the people, different markings for the animals, and setting up {imaginary} house.

Well, when I last left our Sims family they were wandering around on an island, the site of their future home. It’s, um, a work in progress. The dog has already had to be revived once (we couldn’t figure out how to ‘play’ with her and she languished away, poor thing). One cat has run away (luckily for us it’s an island, she can’t have gone far…) and the Sims couple has done nothing but argue because they are tired, hungry, and bored. We have built a house….sort of. It has four walls, it has some nice wood flooring, it has five rooms.

The female half of our Sims couple has to pee. Bad. The house has a bathroom, and it even has a toilet. However, due to an oversight on the construction committee (that would be me and Sarah) the house is missing……doors. Not just the part of the door that swings open and shut…there are simply no openings in the walls of the house at all! So our Sims character is wandering around in great discomfort with no relief in sight, while her husband is stomping around in a black funk and appears to be swearing up a blue streak in some incomprehensible computer language that sounds like a cross between Greek and Cantonese. One cat has fled the scene, the other is wasting away with hunger and neglect and the dog has dug a hole right in the middle of the island that, if the dog doesn’t die of starvation first, may cover the entire island before somebody figures out how the heck to make a door in one of the walls in the Sims house….preferably the bathroom wall.

This game stresses me out. However, I do find myself being more thankful than usual for my bathroom door!