Monday, July 18, 2011

Lofty Thoughts

I love this excerpt by Spurgeon! To read it in its entirety, click here.

Delivered on Sabbath Morning, February 27th, 1859, by the
REV. C. H. Spurgeon
at the Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens.

"I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplication."—Psalm 116:1.

N the Christian pilgrimage it is well for the most part to be looking forward. Whether it be for hope, for joy, for consolation, or for the inspiring of our love, the future after all must be the grand object of the eye of faith. Looking into the future we see sin cast out, the body of sin and death destroyed, the soul made perfect and fit to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light. And looking further yet, the believer's soul can see Death's river passed, the gloomy steam forded; he can behold the hills of light on which standeth the celestial city; he seeth himself enter within the pearly gates, hailed as more than a conqueror—crowned by the hand of Christ, embraced in the arms of Jesus, glorified with him, made to sit together with him on his throne, even as he has overcome and has sat down with the Father upon his throne. The sight of the future may well relieve the darkness of the past, the hopes of the world to come may banish all the doubtings of the present. Hush, my fears! this world is but a narrow span, and thou shalt soon have passed it. Hush, hush, my doubts! death is but a narrow stream, and thou shalt soon have forded it. Time, how short—eternity, how long! Death, how brief—immortality, how endless!

"Oh the transporting, rapturous scene
That rises to my sight!
Sweet fields arrayed in living green,
And rivers of delight.

Filled with delight my raptured soul
Would here no longer stay,
Though Jordan's waves around me roll,
Fearless I'd launch away."

Yet nevertheless the Christian may do well sometimes to look backward; he may look back to the hole of the pit and the miry clay whence he was digged—the retrospect will help him to be humble, it will urge him to be faithful. He may look back with satisfaction to the glorious hour when first he saw the Lord, when spiritual life for the first time quickened his dead soul. Then he may look back through all the changes of his life, to his troubles and his joys, to his Pisgahs and to his Engedis, to the land of the Hermonites and the hill Mizar. He must not keep his eye always backward, for the fairest scene dies beyond, it will not benefit him to be always considering the past, for the future is more glorious far; but nevertheless at times a retrospect may be as useful as a prospect; and memory may be as good a teacher as even faith itself. This morning I bid you stand upon the hill-top of your present experience and look back upon the past, and find therein motives for love to God; and may the Holy Spirit so help me in preaching and you in hearing, that your love may be inflamed, and that you may retire from this hall, declaring in the language of the Psalmist, "I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice, and my supplication."

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Perfect Iced Tea


Isn't iced tea the perfect summertime drink? Actually, at our house, we like it so much that we pretty much drink it year 'round. It's easy to make, inexpensive, calorie free, and full of antioxidants. I make a couple of gallons a week around here.

However, when I serve people iced tea, they often comment, "This is good! What kind of tea is this?" or "How did you make this?" I didn't realize it was such a mystery to so many. Since I've been asked on numerous occasions, I figured it might be time for a little tutorial.


First of all, I use good old plain Lipton black tea bags. I buy them in bulk at Costco but you can find them at your regular grocery store. Nothing fancy, nothing gourmet. For one gallon of iced tea, I use 8 regular-size tea bags. I have an electric tea kettle, which I fill up and bring to boil two separate times, and that fills a gallon-sized jug. I place the tea bags in the pitcher (don't hang them over the side - just set them on the bottom) and pour the first pot full of boiling water over the tea bags. Then, I refill the tea kettle and bring it back to a boil, and add that boiling water to the tea already brewing. At that point, I set my timer for exactly 5 minutes. After the 5 minutes, I remove the tea bags and cool the tea to room temperature before refrigerating. At this point, if you like "sweet tea" you can add sugar to your liking and stir to dissolve. But I prefer to leave my tea unsweetened and let people sweeten it to their own liking with a simple syrup. Rich likes it unsweetened with lemon, and Drew likes his heavily sweetened, so it's perfect. (By the way, if you have teenagers that like sweet drinks, sweetened iced tea is WAY WAY healthier than giving them soda, gatorade and the like, and not to mention so much cheaper.)


A simple syrup is the way to go to sweeten tea. If you pour sugar into cold tea, it doesn't really dissolve and sinks to the bottom of the glass. So, I make a batch of the syrup and keep it next to the tea in the refrigerator. It's ridiculously simple to make - just bring equal parts of water and granulated sugar (I use 3/4 cup each) to a boil in a small saucepan over the stove. Turn off the heat, and whisk a moment or two to dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved, allow it to cool to room temperature, and pour into a serving bottle (an oil or vinegar type dispenser works well). Mine looks a little tan and murky because I use organic sugar. If that bugs you, go ahead and use the white stuff and the syrup will be light and clear.



Now, since I'm a caffeine-free type of gal, and the rest of the normal human race drinks caffeinated beverages, I brew the regular for them and make my own personal decaf jug of iced tea. I like to use Paradise decaf or Good Earth original, which is herbal. Paradise is expensive and (gasp) artificially flavored, so I don't usually have it too often (but BOY is it good.) Good Earth is very sweet, cinnamon-y and quite unique in taste - if you like it hot you should try it iced sometime. I will say that it's definitely an acquired taste. My boys HATE it and I mean that in the strongest sense of the word! Do you remember the Good Earth restaurant chain? Back in high school, my girlfriends and I used to go there, and would just sit there happily sipping their iced tea and chatting for hours. We would also occasionally order a cashew chicken sandwich or their 12 summer vegetable soup- oh how I miss that place (and Carol if you're reading this, remember all the times we went, and how sad we were when they closed down?). Another "recipe" I like for iced tea is decaf green tea bags and a handful of fresh mint. The mint gives the tea such a nice taste. I usually put in a few squirts of agave nectar after the tea bags and mint are removed (but while it's still hot). Anyways... in all my decaf recipes, I use the same amount of tea bags that I use for the original iced tea, but I tend to brew my decaf teas an extra 10 minutes, since they are a bit weaker in strength.

So there you have it. Perfect iced tea that is super easy to make. Happy summer sipping!

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Great Summer Read

I purposed a little down time after a busy April/May/first part of June. We skipped the Resolved conference, I took a break from Master's Kids, and didn't put any plans on the calendar. Sometimes, after a busy season, it's just nice to just do the necessary - the cleaning, very simple cooking, and the minimal errands needed to keep things going. No projects, no planning, no preparing for anything. It's been a really nice few weeks to just breathe and enjoy summer.

I thought some reading would be nice. I asked my friend Janet S. for some summer reading recommendations, which she kindly provided! I then promptly went to the local public library's website and put all the books she listed all on reserve. In a week or so, they were in, and I had a stack of five cool books to read. On more than one occasion recently, I have put on my swimsuit, poured myself a tall glass of Good Earth Iced Tea, and sat by the pool to read. It's been really refreshing and relaxing. I hardly ever do that - especially with a (gasp!) fiction book. Well, it was really sort of historical fiction, and I found it to have great value even though it wasn't spiritual in nature.

The first book I started with was Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by author Jamie Ford. Let me just say, I was captivated by this book from the very first page! I became so wrapped up in the story that I found myself dreading the book to end. I don't want to give anything away, but it was basically the story of an older Chinese man named Henry looking back on his life in Seattle in the 1940's during WW2 when Japanese Americans were rounded up and placed in internment camps. When Henry was in grade school, he had a special friend, Keiko, who was Japanese, and it is the story of how Henry dealt with his nationalistic parents who didn't like the Japanese and this friendship with Keiko that he valued more than anything. Also, it is the story of how Henry as an older man must bridge the gap between him and his modern Chinese American son. The story will warm and break your heart all at the same time. It was so well written - I highly recommend it.

I'm on to read the Help now, thanks Janet for your wonderful recommendations!!

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