Tag Archives: Christian

Just saying: There Is No Such Thing As Humanity Without God and The True Meaning of Christmas

 

Secret-Stonehenge

Humans are as unique in the animal kingdom as Christianity is among world religions. Evidence strongly suggests that humans are fundamentally different than other animals. I believe that our very uniqueness as a species indicates the existence of God.  It seems to me that humanity as a concept for higher moral behavioral traits can only exist if humans were created in the image of a higher power. Without God there is no humanity.  For we would no longer be a unique creation, but would be no better, no worse, no more special than any other animal. We would not understand mortality.

Without a moral soul from God there would be no right or wrong…only survival of the fittest.  Our sole focus would be to do whatever it takes to obtain our next meal and propagate the species. Nothing would deter the violent methods needed to be successful at either of these two tasks.

There would be no such thing as a conscience.  You couldn’t afford to have one anymore than a lion, tiger or shark can afford a conscience.  The softer human traits like love and kindness would have been evolutionary death sentences.  Just like any other animal on this earth, we would merely be another link in a food chain where only the strong survive.

Of course, if here is no God there would be no need for religion. However, even the earliest humans sought out gods and practiced forms of religious rites. They had burial ceremonies for their dead and offered sacrifices to either win favor or appease gods. So seriously did they seek out gods, that not only human, but child sacrifice was commonly practiced throughout the world. In some cultures on a massive scale. A rather counter-productive evolutionary trait.

Generation after generation, culture after culture, religion after religion, humans have sought out gods.  In all of the other religions of this world people seek God. Only in the Christian faith does God seek people.

The God of Christians does not ask for sacrifice, he asks for obedience.  What does he require of us? Jesus summarized all of the commandment’s into two.  To love God with all of our heart, soul and mind, and to love one another as we would like to be loved.

The Christian God does not ask for sacrifice from us, he sacrificed for us.  In the birth of his only son Jesus Christ in Bethlehem over two millennia ago, God sought to save us, just because he loves us.   John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

God seeking us is the true meaning of Christmas. Sadly, if you don’t learn about the birth of Jesus the Christ and ask him into your heart you are missing out on the only part of the holiday season, and life, that brings real joy and peace.

Jesus is the Christ in Christmas.  Without him all you are doing is having one big commercial gift exchange.  Great for the economy, not so great for our world or your soul…..just saying.

 

 

 

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Children’s Story: The Very First Christmas

The Swedish Farmer's Daughter

Every Christmas Eve I would read three stories to my children.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas is first,
That mean ol’ Grinch is really the worst.
He stole all the Who’s pudding and presents with glee,
Then he went back and stuffed up their tree.
The Who’s celebrated Christmas when the Grinch thought they shouldn’t.
Stop Christmas from coming? Even a mean ol’ Grinch couldn’t.

Next, “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” is read,
after the children have been tucked snugly in bed.
Their eyes aglow with happiness and joy,
As they hope Santa brings their favorite toy.
When, what do their curious little ears hear?
A television announcement, “Santa’s sleigh drawing near!”

Then, it is time for the last story to be read.
Heads go down on pillows and the bedtime prayer is said.
The moment has come to tell of  Joseph and his Mrs.
Now it’s time for, “The…

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What Is On My Mind Today? Turning 59 and a Maraschino Cherry Birthday Cake

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Hiking in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, June 2017

This two-time cancer survivor turns 59 today.  Wow!

pat 59 day1_n(2)
I removed my cap for this birthday photo to prove I have hair and some of it is grey. 

To celebrate, I am going to make a layered maraschino cherry cake with cream cheese frosting.  My only issue is that the cake uses four egg whites and I have this thing about wasting food when so many others in this world go hungry.  So I will have to make more of my grandmother’s spritz cookies to use up those yolks.

Folks, there will be extra spritz cookies on the cookie trays this Christmas!

My birthday wish is that this day be filled with kindness, love and peace.

God bless all of you!

cherry-cake-slice

Maraschino Cherry Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour two eight-inch round cake pans.

Ingredients:

16 ounce jar of Maraschino cherries, well-drained, save cherry juice.  Finely chop the cherries. The chopped cherries should be blotted dry with a paper towel and very lightly coated with flour.  This will help ensure that the cherries are evenly distributed through out the cake and not all sunk to the bottom.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1-1/2 cup sugar
2-1/4 cups cake flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
Maraschino cherry juice (reserved from cherry jar) combined with water to make 1 cup.
4 egg whites, stiffly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium-sized metal or glass mixing bowl, with an electric hand-mixer, beat egg whites until stiff.  Add vanilla. Combine and set aside.

In small mixing bowl combine dry ingredients: flour, salt and baking powder.  Stir to combine

In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar.  Add flour alternatively with the cherry juice.  Beat until well combined.  Gently fold in beaten egg whites.  Fold until no white streaks remain.  Fold in cherries and gently mix until just evenly distributed.

Evenly divide the batter into the two round cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 cup  butter, softened
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened 
1 teaspoon vanilla

3  cups powdered sugar, plus more as needed

In a large mixing bowl with a hand-mixer cream together butter and cream cheese.  Turn mixer speed down to low and slowly add powdered sugar.  Once powdered sugar is combined, turn up mixer speed to high and beat until smooth, fluffy and creamy.  Add vanilla and mix until completely combined.

If the frosting is not thick enough add small amounts of powdered sugar until desired consistency is achieved.  If the frosting gets too thick, add a teaspoon of milk or cream to loosen it back up.

This pink and white cake also makes a lovely Christmas dessert.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Family’s Farm Christmas: It’s the people, not the presents!

The Swedish Farmer's Daughter

In 1997, I wrote this story for my young daughter.  After my thyroid cancer diagnosis when she was only 14 months old, I had adopted the tradition of writing her an original story, with a soft moral “mom” message each year as a gift.  I wanted her to have something special from me to remember me should  I have croaked from the cancer.

This story was created to introduce my children to their extended family and be a record of some of our family’s Christmas traditions.

This year is the second Christmas since my second cancer diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma.  I feel wonderful, am filled with joy and am looking forward to many more years of making holiday memories.

I hope you enjoy, “A Family’s Farm  Christmas.”

In your great-great grandfather Ole Larson’s house, which is more than 100 years old, many years ago our family gathered making Christmas memories untold. This story is…

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What Is On My Mind Today? The Passing of Stan Kowalski, Professional Athlete, World War II Veteran, Life-long Veteran Advocate and Great Friend.

stan
Stan Kowalski (on the left) during a World War II Honor Flight to visit the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC in 2009. 

On Friday, October 20 this world said goodbye and heaven joyously welcomed a great man….Stanley Kowalski.

Stan was born with a larger than life personality.  There was no forgetting Stan once you met him.  If he knew you, you were his friend. A more loyal and loving friend a soul on this earth could not have than Stan.

Yesterday, I was interviewed by local television station KARE-11 about Stan.  Their interview does a great job telling the story of this wonderful man.  Here is a link to their story about Stan.

http://www.kare11.com/news/stan-kowalski-fought-for-fellow-veterans/485484737

Throughout his life Stan was always one hundred percent devoted to the people and causes he cared about.   He will be greatly missed!

God rest his soul and bring the peace that passes all understanding to his family as they mourn his loss and celebrate a life well-lived.

What is on my mind today? Testicle or Not to Testicle, that is the Question?

hereford bull

I have been working diligently on my oil painting for these past several months and it is finally nearing completion.

Yesterday, my dad and mom came down to deliver excellent potatoes and squash out of their garden and join me for lunch.  As dad came into the room where my easel stands with the painting on it, he took one look at the painting and said three things…you painted that for yourself, you really captured a Montana sky, don’t you dare touch that, and what do plan to do with that one?

I think he figured that a painting of the Dakota badlands and a meso-cyclone in hot pink with Hereford cattle is probably a Pat painting. It is time for me to find a gallery to show and market my artwork, before I drive my friend Pat to distraction. She hadn’t seen the canvases I painted for myself, before I became disabled, that are stored in the basement until this week. This painting will probably join them, but it is not quite done yet.

There is the usual tinkering to complete.  Putting in some grass, light and color corrections and I have to decide whether to testicle or not testicle the Hereford Bull.

Yes, I have to tinker with testicles and I actually have put some thought into this testicular dilemma.  Bully, bully is a pretty proud looking fellow standing guard over his family, but one must think of the troubles caused by testicles or lack there of.

The case against testicles can be summed in two words…Harvey Weinstein. There is no excuse and there should never be any tolerance for the Weinstein’s of this world.  And, there are way too many of them.

I do not think I know of a woman, who has worked outside the home, that at some point in her career hasn’t been sexually harassed.  I know I was. Whenever I think about the grossness, hurt, stress, shame, sadness, anxiety, anger and lost career opportunities,  I lean strongly towards a testicle-free bull.

So, why would I consider blessing my bull with the awesome responsibility of testicles?

There are several reasons:

1.    I still have paint left,
2.    The artistic challenge,
3.    I often think society in general needs to get a pair.
4.    In all fairness, I must admit that some of my sexual harassers in the workplace
weren’t male.

Sexual harassment isn’t about sex, it is all about power.  Remaining silent about abuse is not golden, it is cowardice of the worst sort.  My grandmother told me long ago, that if I didn’t admire cowards, I should choose not to be one.  I may be a lot of things, but few people would ever call me a coward.

Yes, I have reported abusers in the work place.  I have also supported and stood by other women who found themselves in gosh awful situations, whenever I had first hand knowledge of the harassment.

Did I pay a personal and professional price for speaking up? Of course!  But, it was worth it!

In retrospect, if I found myself in the same situation again, would I do things differently? Absolutely not!  And do you know why? Somebody had to stop it and I am somebody.  We all need to be somebodies.

It’s like the Bible says, “Here I am God….Send me!”

 

 

 

What is On My Mind Today: A Good Habit to Have….Reading!

In addition to working on the same oil painting for the past six months, I have been reading lots of books.

Many of the books I have been reading are historical diaries.  It is fascinating to read first person history to learn about the situations and challenges faced by past generations from those who were actually there.

As a college-educated woman, I took several courses dedicated to instilling fear into the hearts of historians regarding the twin bogeymen of bias and braggadocio and how they taint first person historical accounts. Being able to discern fact from fiction is a good skill for any reader to have…especially historians. It seems to me that too few of today’s “historians” or historical experts immerse themselves in primary sources before diving headlong into the the shallow water of secondary sources such as the ever present, easily accessed and factually challenged internet.

A good example of this type of study would be of the Christian who reads a lot of Facebook posts about scripture and who can expertly google biblical verses required to further a narrative, but who neglects spending time reading the actual Bible.

While I do read my bible frequently, I must confess that I have never read the whole Bible from cover to cover.  After applying some thought to the matter, I found the situation unacceptable.  So,  I have spent the past several months doing just that.  I am through the New Testament and am in the Book of Jeremiah in the Old Testament.

What a wonderful experience it has been!  I have learned so much.  There is definitely only one God and he’s it;  Jesus is the Messiah; and creating us humans and giving us free will must make God constantly bang his Holy Head against a heavenly wall. And yet, he still loves us.

In addition to working through reading the Bible, my reading list from this summer has been somewhat extensive and I must say there has not been a dud in the bunch. Well, one was close to being a dud, but I muscled through.  I strongly recommend picking up any of these books and giving them a read.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.  This World War II story will clue the reader in pretty quickly as to why you stand for the national anthem and our flag.  This book puts you right along side the downed airman and his trials adrift in the ocean and vividly describes the horrors he experienced as a Japanese prisoner of war.

douglass3

The Classic Slave Narratives edited by Henry Louis Gates Jr.   This book includes:
The Life of Olaudah Equiano; The History of Mary Prince; Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.  These accounts are real and heartrending.

Eyewitness to the Alamo by Bill Groneman.   I may have never physically been to the Alamo nor seen the American’s fight to prevent the Mexican Army from taking the fort; however, after reading this book, I have in my mind.

Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey by Lillian Schlissel.  This is a thoughtful read even though about two-thirds of this book is dedicated to Ms. Schlissel advancing her theory that women were the great bulwark and victims of western expansion. According to her, they did more than their share of the work and suffering.  Not only do statistics undermine her conclusions, but so do the actually women in their diaries. This book is a good example of a modern Monday morning quarterbacking type of historical bias.  As to  her repeated claim that women cared more for the dead along the Oregon Trail than did men, because women kept count of the graves in their diaries and the men just noted the death.  I would like to point out that the men were driving a large oxen team and the women were riding in the wagon or walking behind it.   Once the gals made sure that all of their kids were accounted for, and not likely to fall out the wagon, what else did they have to do?  It’s not like there were telephone poles to count.

These Is My Words, The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1902, Arizona Territories, by Nancy E. Turner.  This book is a fictional adaptation of the author’s great-grandmother’s diary.   For those who are familiar with the desert southwest, this is a quick must read.  Good story.

The Ox Team on the Old Oregon Trail 1852-1906 by Ezra Meeker.  Ezra was there, did that and then, many years later, did it again to teach a nation just how hard pioneers on the Oregon trail had it.  It is a great read and a “how to” book on going west with oxen. Theodore Roosevelt even gets a mention.

The Fetterman Massacre by Dee Brown.  This is a military history about the second largest massacre of United States troops by Indians where no white soldier’s survived.  I had never heard of this event and thought it would be good to learn about it. The battle of Little Big-Horn where General George Armstong Custer died was the largest Indian Battle with no United States military survivors.

Captivity of the Oatman Girls by R. B. Stratton.  The Oatman Family was massacred in 1851 by the Gila River while on their way to California.  Two of their daughters, Mary and Olive, were taken captive by those who had slain the rest of their family.  One brother, Lorenzo, also survived the attack when he was left for dead.  I decided to read this book, because I saw a picture of Olive Oatman and her facial tattoos.  I wanted to know her story. It’s quite a story! It includes Mormon church history, bravery, love, cowardice, slavery, and freedom.  What a strong beautiful young woman!

Olive Oatman
Olive Oatman

Adeline and Julia, edited by Robert Myers and Janet Coryell.  These two sisters kept diaries.  The younger girl describes a very thorough picture of what growing up in Victorian times meant for a principled feisty female child who liked to be a tom boy. The older sister and a couple of her friends, decide to try their luck at homesteading in Kansas Territory.  These girls have a good time, survive hardship and always seem to make money in their business adventures including running a sod house boarding house.  This is a great book and should be required reading for all young women.

Butter in the Well by Linda K Hubalek.  This sweet bit of fiction is based on the Swedish homesteader’s experience.  It even comes with traditional recipes.

Woman Homesteader by Elinore Pruitt Stewart.  This is the best woman’s diary I have ever read!  I read it a second time, because it was hard to believe that it is a real account of Elinore’s life, but it is.  Ms. Pruitt-Stewart has many virtues that I admire: bravery, independence, kindness, practicality, a sense of adventure and excellent marksmanship skills. I strongly recommend this book.

 

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Elinore Pruitt-Stewart

Life in the Far West by George Fredrick Ruxton.  After reading so many stories about people who decided to leave everything behind and go west.  I decided to try and find one of the books that these early pioneers had read that inspired them to take on such an adventure. Mr. Ruxton, an Englishman,  died before reaching the tender age of thirty, but he packed a lot of living into those few short years.  This book was first published in 1849 and describes the life of a fur-trapper in the Rocky mountains.  Surprisingly, this book is written like a novel using the vernacular of time which has been sprinkled lightly throughout with wit and where the author adds a pinch of  ironic humor and observation now and again.  It is a book that is hard to put down once began. He ends this account of his life in the mountains on a surprisingly pleasant and happy note.

ruxton

I also have read a book on German Field Marshall Erwin Rommel and a rather long history of the Rothschild banking family.  My current read is a book called, “A Woman in Berlin.”  It is an anonymous diary that a woman began keeping in April of 1945 just as the Russians entered Berlin at the close of World War II.  This book graphically tells about the fall of Berlin from a woman’s prospective including her victimization by Russian soldiers.

I hope you find time, even if it is just a half hour a day, to pick up a book and read!

 

 

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