Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Hound of Heaven: A Modern Adaptation

The Hound of Heaven has been calling me today, reminding me of his relentless pursuit of humankind. Despite the old English Francis Thompson used in his enduring poem, The Hound of Heaven, when he wrote it over a hundred years ago, even the modern day reader cannot miss the meaning of the story. Propelled forward at a heart-pounding pace, the poem tells of a soul being chased through life by One who will not give up the quest. Finally the hounded hears the Voice of Love as the Hound moves in:
All which I took from thee I did but take,
Not for they harms,
But just that thou might'st seek it in My arms.
All which they child's mistake
Fancies as lost,
I have stored for thee at home:
Rise, clasp My hand, and come.
I have written before about this poem that captured my imagination when I was a teenager. I write again today because I want to share an updated version of The Hound of Heaven by Oxvision Films. This animated modern adaptation is beautifully done, telling the story in word and image that connects well with 21st century young people.

As you watch the video below and sense in your heart that God is following hard after someone in your life, pray for your loved one and ask the Lord to help them yield to the God who wants only their best. Share the video with the young people in your life. Do you see in this video your own story? Why not post it on your social media, and include your own testimony.

Father, use this updated version of The Hound of Heaven and whatever other means you choose to draw people to yourself. Help us be sensitive to the needs of those around us and might we be faithful to take advantage of any opportunity you give us to share the truth of your love with others. May it all be for your glory. Amen.

See the video here.

Friday, April 15, 2016

What's Better Than a Chocolate Bar? Making It Yourself!

When you walk into Salt & Thistle, a cute little shop close to Subway in the Stanwood Camano Plaza, you will notice local handmade goods and other sustainable products. Cute, bright, practical, fun items to buy for gifts or keep for yourself. You'll also find baked goods, soups, quiche, and smoothies, made fresh daily on site.

Melissa Tarkington, owner of Salt & Thistle, has a dream to provide small, local farmers and producers an outlet for their goods. Besides offering retail space and creating tasty treats, she also makes Salt & Thistle's community kitchen available to local vendors who need a place to prepare their goods. And she offers a variety of classes—pretty much whatever you want to learn—to groups of four or more.

A list of the chocolates Melissa makes and sells at Salt & Thistle 

"Do you offer chocolate making?" I asked Melissa one day. I had already discovered the delicious chocolate bars she makes and had purchased them on several occasions. "Sure! If you want to make some chocolate I can do a class for you."

The birthday of my friend Joan offered the perfect excuse for a chocolate making class. We gathered some friends and set the date. When we arrived the table was set for six, with food as scrumptious as it was beautiful. When we'd had the last bite of salad and hors d'oeuvres that we could fit in, Melissa brought out the bowls of chocolate for a taste test.

Joan, the Birthday Girl, and our lovely dinner

"This one was..."

For loving chocolate like I do, I discovered that I'm not too discerning about what I'm eating! I had few words to describe the chocolate pieces and I wasn't even sure which ones I preferred. But Melissa gave us several words to apply to the confection—such as bitter or smooth finish, dark fruit notes, coffee and vanilla bean flavor, and hard snap. which is how top grade chocolate responds when being broken. She also instructed us in the world of chocolate making, such as where cacao beans come from (ten degrees on either side of the Equator); the sad reality that many growers and producers use child labor in their businesses; and what it means when chocolate "blooms." (When the oil separates from the chocolate the top of he bar looks dark, like an oil slick; when the sugar separates it gets powdery. Don't worry, though. The taste of the chocolate is not degraded.)

Then we were ready to make our own bars. Melissa had two pots of chocolate waiting for us, a pot of dark and a pot of milk chocolate. She also had a tray of nuts, berries, coconut, sea salt and other goodies that we could add to our bars.

Stirring the dark chocolate

Once we chose our ingredients we poured a ladle of chocolate into a mold and added our goodies. Here's Joan pouring hers. Mine was harder to pour because the dark chocolate had begun to harden.

I added "date bacon" to my candy bar. I did NOT want bacon in my chocolate but Melissa assured me that it was actually chopped dates, fried briefly in a pan with olive oil, a bit of maple syrup, and smoked salt. The mold below shows my date bacon bar on the left with two chocolate bars that were tempered by hand on a cold steel table. You have to work fast in this business or things don't turn out too pretty!

A few of the chocolate bars were ready to take home at the end of the evening. Melissa popped them out the molds and wrapped them for us. I took mine home to share it with m family. Not too beautiful, but it tasted just fine!

My friends and I enjoyed ourselves immensely. Thanks, Melissa, for a great evening. We wish you success in your venture with Salt & Thistle and the many ways you serve the community.

Stop by Salt & Thistle for a little shopping and a bite to eat. They are open Tuesday through Saturday. If you are looking for a commercial kitchen, check with Melissa. And if you are looking for a class on canning, making scones, chocolate, or pretty much whatever you can think of, give this versatile young woman a call. You'll be glad you did.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Consider it Pure Joy?

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" (James 1:2-4).

Have we ever considered the trials we pass through "pure joy"? Has there ever been a time when the end results of the faith-testing—perseverance, maturity, completeness, lacking nothing—have captivated us so thoroughly that we not only endured the trial but delighted in it?

If you are like me, you hear James's words in your head, but your internal auto-correct turns them into, "Don't kick and scream, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds. Grit your teeth and bear up, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance." After all, what is perseverance if it isn't slogging through a difficulty all the way to its completion?

We need a new understanding of this profound passage. How, indeed, can we consider trials a joy?

Here is how James 1:2-4 is rendered in The Voice:
Don't run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters. As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure. And true patience brought on by endurance will equip you to complete the long journey and cross the finish line—mature, complete, and wanting nothing.
The joy James is talking about may not be our initial response to trials, but if we respond to them in faith (which blossoms under pressure) and learn to patiently endure, we will ultimately find joy in our hardships.

In my post entitled Surrendered I said that Jesus "was able to survive the experience of being surrendered [by Pilate] to the will of the crowd because he had already surrendered himself to the will of the Father." And so it is with us. If we are surrendered to the will of our loving Father, we can trust Him with anything that comes into our lives. Our faith and patience will grow as we trust him through our trials.

At the end of this long journey we will stand before the Lord; we'll be mature, complete, and wanting nothing. Knowing that each trial we endure along the way is preparing us for that great moment, we can rejoice. We are God's, and He using our trials for our good!

Read more about The Voice.