Book Review: The Lost Art of Mixing

Product DetailsThis is the third book I’ve read by Erica Bauermeister. It is my third favorite of her books. My favorite is Joy for Beginners, next The School of Essential Ingredients. The Lost Art of Mixing has some of the same characters as School and I liked that. I enjoy reading how characters have continued on after the end of a book I’ve enjoyed.

Erica Bauermeister seems to like to have each chapter feature a certain character and continue her plot thread through those characters. It worked in the previous two books, but for this book, I found it to be a disjointed approach. I felt as if I was reading a compilation of short stories with a similar, though minor, thread. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a bad story, just not as good as the ones of hers I’ve read before. You, also, don’t have to have read The School of Essential Ingredients to understand what is happening in The Lost Art of Mixing.

If you only have time to read one of Ms. Bauermeister’s books, then I’d recommend Joy for Beginners. It is a wonderful book. You can read my little write-up about it here.

The book’s description from Amazon (since I couldn’t quite figure out how to explain it):

Lillian and her restaurant have a way of drawing people together. There’s Al, the accountant who finds meaning in numbers and ritual; Chloe, a budding chef who hasn’t learned to trust after heartbreak; Finnegan, quiet and steady as a tree, who can disappear into the background despite his massive height; Louise, Al’s wife, whose anger simmers just below the boiling point; and Isabelle, whose memories are slowly slipping from her grasp. And there’s Lillian herself, whose life has taken a turn she didn’t expect. . . .
Their lives collide and mix with those around them, sometimes joining in effortless connections, at other times sifting together and separating again, creating a family that is chosen, not given.

For my 2013 reading goal, I am keeping up with one fiction book per month. I am also linking up with the Deliberate Reader for her 2013 Reading Challenge.

January’s read–The Quarryman’s Wife

February’s read–Better Than Chocolate

Those are my thoughts for today.

Names of Christ #5–I AM

In the book of John, there are seven “I AM” statements made by Jesus that tell us who He is. Every one of these statements can be considered unique names of Christ. Read them over and consider what they mean to you and the implications of Christ possessing each of these qualities.

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:35)

Just as food can calm our hungry stomachs, Christ can calm our hungry souls. The need for “something more” that we all seem to desire. Our thirst and desire for relief from the guilt of sin is found in Jesus Christ and we never have to yearn for salvation again if we believe in Him and accept in Him once and for all.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

To live by the light of Christ is to see clearly the meaning of life—to live a life devoted to God and His will for us. It is like following someone in the dark and that person is the only one with a flashlight. He is followed because he can see the way to go but following the flashlight-bearer is a choice.

I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. (John 10:9)

Right here, Jesus is telling us he is the way to salvation. He is the only way. We must put our trust and faith in Him to be saved. To be able to come in and go out is to move freely and safely. Christ provides the protection for us just as Psalm 121:8 says “The LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” To find pasture is to find abundance and nourishment. Again, Jesus provides that for each of us that believe in Him as our Lord and Savior.

 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)

Jesus as Shepherd does more than risk His life; He gives His life in death. This sacrifice is for “the sheep”—his followers.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)

Jesus is speaking to Martha here after Lazarus has died. He was drawing her into a personal relationship with Him using the doctrinal beliefs she already had. He wants her to know that He is the source of a resurrected life—both spiritually and physically. The spiritually dead person will live again in Christ and those who believe will never die because of the certainty of eternity with Christ.

Martha’s response?  “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” (John 11:27). Is that your response?

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

Jesus here states that He, alone, is the source of the way, the truth, and the life. He is not one of the ways or one of many truths. He is not just a philosopher teaching about a way, a truth, or a life. Here, He clearly states His deity and oneness with God the Father.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

To remain in Christ is to bear fruit both in Christ-like character and in influencing others. To remain or be dependent on Jesus is not a negative thing. It is truly living by faith. 

Here’s another song to listen to go along with Jesus Christ as the Great I AM.

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Those are my thoughts for today.

Week #1–Lamb of God

Week #2–Son of Man

Week #3–Son of God

Week #4–The Word

St. Patrick’s Day Meal

Kilkenney Castle, Ireland

Kilkenney Castle, Ireland

I haven’t posted a food blog in a long while. So, I thought I’d share here what I made for dinner last night.

My husband is the one in our family that has the Irish “blood” in him. His maternal grandmother has Irish ancestors. Ever since we visited Ireland three years ago, we’ve enjoyed celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.

I usually make Irish stew (with lamb not beef) and soda bread. This year, I saw a recipe for Colcannon, an authentic Irish dish. Though my son, who lived there for three months, doesn’t think he ever had it. Our usual dessert is Pavlova. No, it is not Irish. It is from New Zealand, named for a Russian ballerina. However, our first evening in Ireland, the cooks for the students made it for us parents. So, to us, it represents Ireland.

For the Colcannon, I list the amount of the ingredients I used. The recipe I used did not include amounts. What I made served four.

3 medium-sized potatoes

1/2 onion, chopped

1/2 head cabbage, sliced thin

4 stalks Kale, roughly chopped

6 oz corned beef, cubed or sliced thin

Peel and boil the potatoes. Roughly mash with a little butter, milk, salt, pepper. Set aside. In a large pot (or same one you used to boil the potatoes), cook the onion in 1 tbls oil. When translucent, add the cabbage and Kale. Cook until wilted. Add the corned beef. Cook until warmed up. Add the potatoes and combine well. Add more salt and pepper to suit.

The delicious Pavlova.

The delicious Pavlova.

For the Pavlova recipe, you can go here for the recipe.

Those are my thoughts for today. Slainte!

Names of Christ #4–The Word

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. (John 1:1-4)

The book of John is my favorite Gospel (and possibly my favorite book of the Bible, period). It was the first book I studied as a new believer. Jesus’ designation as The Word has always made me feel comfort and warmth. Possibly because I’m a writer and words are special to me–I like using just the right words to get my thoughts across.

Jesus used words to create the universe and all that is in it. Throughout the first chapter of Genesis it says “And God said, ‘Let there be….’” God spoke and it happened—light, animals, plants, humans. John 1:3 tells us that Jesus made all things with those spoken words. This Word that created all things and continues to sustain them, became personal by living and dying in the world He created.

He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. (John 1:10-11) 

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. (John 1:14a)

Words have a power all their own

Jesus left his exalted place on high as the Creator and Sustainer of all things to live with us lowly humans, His created beings. Why would he do that? Because He loves us even though we reject Him all the time. That blows my mind. I would do a lot for my kids. But if they continually rejected me and my love, I think I’d turn away from them and sever the relationship. So glad God is not like me!

Jesus provided us with physical life by creating us. Then He provided us with spiritual life by giving up His life so that we might have a relationship with the Lord God for eternity. It just boggles me to consider that. The creator of my physical life also has provided me with my spiritual security even though He didn’t have to. He wanted to because of His deep love for me, and for you.

This Easter season, consider that concept. Thank God for your physical life but also give Him the gratitude He so deserves for your spiritual life. That as The Word, He became flesh to live among us to provide us with the way to a relationship with Him for all eternity.

Those are my thoughts for today.

Week #1–Lamb of God

Week #2–Son of Man

Week #3–Son of God

Fiction Review: Better Than Chocolate

Samantha Sterling runs Sweet Dreams Chocolate Company, started by her great-grandmother. Now the company is having financial problems because her mother’s husband didn’t manage it well. Waldo has died and Samantha’s mother is blind to the destruction he has caused. How is Samantha supposed to save the company that has been in her family for generations? And to top it all off, the bank manager handling her loan is an ogre, or is he?

PictureBetter Than Chocolate by Sheila Roberts is a fun read. It mixes family drama with a little unrequited romance. The setting is a small town in Washington state. The author’s writing is easy to read. She provides just enough back-story to let us in on the family dynamics and she doesn’t add too many secondary plots (a pet-peeve of mine). She starts each chapter with a quote from one of Muriel’s (the mother, a moderately successful author) books, which is a fun addition.

The main character, Samantha, is perfect as the oldest sister of three. I could easily picture the sisters’ realtionships with each other. I also could easily understand the relationship their mother had with each of them and how she was probably a mildly dysfunctional mother when they were younger, even though that is never brought up in the book.

I thoroughly enjoyed Better Than Chocolate. I was rooting for the Sterling sisters to make their loan payment and for Samantha to be able to keep her family’s company running. Though it is obvious what will happen in the romance department between her and bank manager, Blake, it still was fun to ride the ride with them.

I recommend Better Than Chocolate if you’d like an easy, fun read. Roberts has two other books in this series and one more coming out in March. I may just have to read them all.

So, far, I am keeping up with my 2013 fiction reading challenge of one fiction book per month.

January’s read–The Quarryman’s Wife

I am linking up with The Deliberate Reader for her 2013 Reading Challenge Check-in.

Those are my thoughts for today.

Names of Christ #3–Son of God

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20

The second part of the Trinity–Son of God. This name for Christ is a familiar one. It might even be one that you say “well, duh.” However, what does it mean for Jesus to be the Son of God?

To be a son means to have the full benefits of that family. To be a part of those people you call parents. For biological sons, it may even mean having physical characteristics like your father. Our son is tall just like his father, he has a dimple in his chin like his dad, he also has the high forehead his dad has. Many people say he looks like his dad. I, personally, think he is a good combination of both of us. My son’s son, also has similarities to his father. The dimpled chin and the high forehead. When holding up a photo of my son as a baby next to our grandson, oh, boy, is there ever a similarity.

So, how is Christ like His father. What characteristics does He have that the Father in heaven has? How about: holy, all-knowing, all-powerful, righteous, merciful, gracious, kind, judicious, promise keeper, faithful, and just.

Jesus, himself, said to know Him was to know the Father (Matthew 11:27–All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him).

He is the exact representation of the Father (Hebrews 1:3–The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word).

So, for us to know Jesus Christ, believe in Him with our whole heart, and accept Him as our Lord and Savior means we know God the Father also. Because, Jesus IS God.

John 20:31–But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Here is another song for you to listen to this week and to reflect on Jesus as the Son of God.

Jesus Son of God by Chris Tomlin

Those are my thoughts for today.

Week #1–Lamb of God

Week #2–Son of Man

Names of Christ #2–Son of Man

Jesus Christ used the title “Son of man” for himself. It is used 82x in the New Testament (NIV). Most of the references are found in the Gospels—all four of them actually. It occurs only three times in the New Testament outside the Gospels (Acts 7:56; Rev. 1:13; 14:14). The term points to the humanity and servanthood of Christ, but also reflects Daniel’s (7:13 & 14) vision of the son of man as a coming figure of judgment and authority.

According to the Holman Bible Handbook, Jesus used the title Son of man in four different ways: (1) Jesus was simply referring to himself (Matthew 26:24); (2) the Son of Man is one who exercises divine authority (Matthew 9:6); (3) the Son of man fulfills His earthly mission by death and resurrection (Matthew 12:40, 17:9, 12:23); and (4) the Son of man will return in great glory to establish His kingdom (Matthew 16:27-28, 19:28). In this way, Jesus defined who He, the messianic Son of man, is.

Here are some passages to meditate on when considering our Messiah, the Son of man, Jesus Christ.

Mark 10:45:

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve,

and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Here Christ shows us that His greatest act of service was giving His life as the payment for the price of our sin. For us, also, we should desire to serve others above being served.

John 12:23:

The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.

We may think of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross here. But, His resurrection reveals His glory and his eternal life. By believing in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we, too, can have the same eternal life.

Matthew 9:6:

But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.

Here, Jesus has healed a paralyzed man. The teachers of the law accuse Him of blaspheming. But Christ lets them (and us) know that He has the power to forgive and the power to heal. He still has the power to forgive (if we but ask) and the power to heal.

Matthew 24:44:

So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come

at an hour when you do not expect him.

We are not to worry about the exact date or time when Jesus will return, our emphasis should be on being ready, at all times.

Luke 12:8:

I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God.

No better reason to be bold in our witness. By our actions and our words, we need to show others Jesus Christ. Because when we do, he tells the angels about us!

John 3:13:

No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.

Christ came down out of His home in heaven to live among us for a brief time. After His resurrection and 40 more days on earth, He went back to His home to sit at the right hand of the Father to intercede for us. Jesus is our only way to heaven. He became the connection between heaven and earth.

Here is a song, an oldie, but fits so well with my Lenten theme of Names of Christ:

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Names of Christ #1–Lamb of God.

Those are my thoughts for today.

2013 Reading Challenge–my non-fiction check-in

Initially for my non-fiction books, I was going to read some classics. There was a list put out in 2000 of the top 100 Christian books of the previous century. I’ve long wanted to wade through that list and that was my intent for 2013.

But, as with most resolutions, I changed my mind. As I was looking at my e-reader and my bookshelves, I realized I had quite a few great non-fiction selections right at my finger tips. No need to go to the public library or our library at church or try to find the book on-line. So, instead of the classics, I am going to read what I already have purchased.

First up is Everything by Mary DeMuth. As I previously stated in my earlier post, I didn’t intend to read both my fiction and non-fiction books in January by the same author. It just happened.

I enjoyed and got a lot more out of Everything than I did The Quarryman’s Wife (my fiction selection).

1400203988rgbDeMuth states her reason for this book: “As I’ve pondered my journey and mined the pathways of Everything Christians—those who learned the secret of giving Him every part of their lives—I’ve realized something–Some folks grow while others stagnate. Why? What causes growthlessness? What, on the other hand, makes people more Jesusy—more like Him? My exploration of the whys behind that kind of radical change forms the framework of this book.” And explores it she does. She looks at three areas of our liveswhere we need to give God Everything in order to live the life He has for us: (1) Head–What we think; (2) Heart–Who we are; (3) Hands–How we live

DeMuth’s basic question throughout the book is “What accounts for maturity, the hallmark of growth? Why do some languish and while others thrive?” And a good question it is. Not only when looking at other believers, but at ourselves, too. Why do we thrive and grow like a weed in our faith sometimes and why during other times are we stagnant like a scummy pond?

DeMuth tells us that what we think about God matters; how we allow Him to reign in our hearts matters; and how we obey Him in the moment matters.

She covers each of the three areas very well. My copy has a lot of highlighting in it–my test of a book that is worth reading and can offer lessons to be learned. It did take me awhile to get through it. Don’t know why, probably life getting in the way, but you might want to allow some time for reading Everything so that you can get the most out of it and take time to digest what DeMuth is teaching.

One of my favorite lines in the book:

We may live ordinary lives, but we are indwelt by an extraordinary God.

I’m participating in the Deliberate Reader’s 2013 reading challenge. I’ve linked up there. If you’d like to join in on the challenge, go here.

Those are my thoughts for today.

Devotions for Lent–The Names of Christ

Today starts Lent. That season in the Christian calendar when we believers in Jesus Christ take 40 days (not counting Sundays) to reflect on Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf. Each week during Lent, I am going to write on one of the names of Jesus. In doing so, I pray that both you and I will gain a deeper appreciation of who our Savior is and will be evermore thankful on Easter Sunday for what he has done for each of us.

This week: The Lamb of God.

“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God,
who takes away the sin of the world!’” (John 1:29)

Lately, I have been studying the life of Abraham. I’ve done this study before but since it was many years ago, I am gleaning new things from this study. One of those new things is the similarity that can be drawn between Isaac’s sacrifice and the sacrifice made by Jesus. I don’t believe I’ve ever paid attention to that fact. I’ve just always looked at Abraham’s faith and obedience. But Isaac was a dutiful son just like Christ was to God the Father. Both were born after a delay from a promise, both of their names have special meanings, both of their mothers were given the promise of their births along with the fathers, and both of their births brought abundant joy.

In Genesis 22, God tells Abraham to take his son, his only son, whom he loves (v. 2) and to sacrifice him at Mt. Moriah. Just as God the Father gave his Son, his only Son, whom he loves (Matt. 3:17) as a sacrifice for us. In v. 4, Abraham, Isaac, and their servants have traveled for three days to get to the place God told Abraham to go to for the sacrifice. Three days, the same amount of time before Christ’s resurrection. Abraham, too, believed his son would defy death. He told his servants that they would return after their time of worship (v. 5). However, Christ did truly rise from the dead. Isaac at some point died.

Isaac in v. 6 is given the wood for the sacrificial fire to carry by his father. Christ had to carry his own cross of wood to his place of sacrifice. Both of them obeying their fathers; not questioning or backing away. Both being obedient sons and willingly offering themselves because of their confidence in their fathers’ requests.

The similarities end at v. 13. For Isaac, a substitute was provided—a ram. For Jesus, no substitute could be provided because He himself was the substitute. He died in our place, for our sins. Christ died for us because of His love for His father and His love for us.

Jesus Christ IS the Lamb of God. There is no salvation without faith in the Lamb’s sacrifice. When you know and believe in the Lamb, you will follow Him wherever, whenever, however.

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. (Isaiah 53:7)

Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. (1 Corinthians 5:7)

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. (1 Peter 1:18-19)

In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” (Revelation 5:12)

Those are my thoughts for today.

Credit needs to be given to Bible Study Fellowship and Pastor Ken Idleman of Crossroads Christian Church, Evansville, IN for providing inspiration in the writing of this blog.

I’ve linked up with Christian Mommy blogger for Fellowship Fridays.