For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
    So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, what is unseen is eternal.
    ~2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Great Garbage Patch


Great Garbage Patch

Recently as I was painting one of the bathrooms in my house, I learned that over seven million tons of plastic is spanning our oceans. A vortex--gyre--of marine litter. No joke. Apparently "the existence of plastic in the oceans is causing infertility." Considering my feet have dabbled in ocean waters (hmm, does the gulf of Mexico count?) twice since I got married almost seventeen years ago and since I have five children, it's obvious the plastic-infected waters have not sterilized my womb. Of course, I could merely be an anomaly.

Could be or could not be an anomaly, that is the question of which I'd need at least half a day to ponder.

Anyhoo, this Great Pacific Garbage Patch spans "the size of Texas." Texas!?! I've been to Texas. It's huge-er than huge and that's not just the hair on the women. (On a side note, I read the other day that you might be a redneck if your stock portfolio consists of two sheep and a goat.) Get this: Imagine Texas-size trash heap floating aimlessly amid all those adorable human-eating sea critters....

Oh. My. Satellite Dishes. Poor SpongeBob and Patrick.

Well, I couldn't ignore this dreadful news so I googled for some pictures to show y'all.  Only I couldn't find any. Oh, I found YouTube videos, even one from a news segment from a national network morning show, but no actual pictures of the vortex so I'm limited to showing you this diagram. Dreadful isn't it?

My mind is swimming . . . I mean, spinning. But what's even more dreadful is the fact no one has pictures of this ginormous garbage. In this crazy day and electronic age when everyone but me has a mobile phone, surely someone with the time could mosey on out to that plastic-filled gyre and take a pic. I want a pic. While in labor with child #5, I suffered through six hours of the Anna Nicole burial trial. I freakin' deserve a pic!

Sadly, it's impossible to take a picture of this watery trash. Why? Experts say, "Since plastics break down to ever smaller polymers, concentrations of submerged particles are not visible from space, nor do they appear as a continuous debris field. Instead, the patch is defined as an area in which the mass of plastic debris in the upper water column is significantly higher than average."

Huh? You lost me at polymer. Is that a cousin to polyester? Machine washable or dry clean only?

So, in other less scientificky words, the reason for no pictures is because "[the garbage patch] is [a] huge pile of trash collectively, but trash so small individually that the patch doesn’t show up."


If I understand correctly it's like air: unseeable, untouchable, untasteable, made up of bajillions of oxygen atoms that are so utterly small that we can see them even though we can breathe them. Obviously since I need oxygen to survive and since I'm still breathing, then, ergo, air does exist. Ergo, the Garbage Patch of the Great Pacific and other oceans exists.

Can you hear me sighing?

Call me Doubting Gina if you wish, but for me to believe this votex of swirling semisynthetic organic amorphous solid exists, I want proof. I want a picture! I want evidence! I want thousands of people who believe the Garbage Patch exist to suffer torture, imprisonment, and even death in the name of their faith in the existence of this littery waterworld!!!!!

Oh dear. I just typed five exclamation points. Perhaps I'm being a tad dramatic.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. Then he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light "day" and the darkness "night." And evening passed and morning came, marking the first day. ~Genesis 1:1-4

For many people, the problem with faith is the fact that faith doesn't prove God exists. You know, faith doesn't prove that "in the beginning," God created anything. The age-old faith issue. Does He or doesn't He. In my less-thn-forty-years-lifetime, I've learned that anyone who doesn't believe in God says those who do are narrow-minded. Well, to me, narrow-minded signals an unwillingness to consider other possibilities than what we believe.

I believe God exists and that He created the heavens, the earth, and all things in and around them in six literal 24-hour days. I'd go to my death for that belief. However, I'm also willing to honestly listen to someone explain to me why He doesn't and He didn't.

If you don't believe God exists or that He created what the Bible said He created...well, are you honestly willing to listen to someone explain why s/he believes God does and did create everything? Or are you going to be narrow-minded and insist you're right and no other truth can possibly exist?

Does God exist? 

Click here for some answers or here or take a trip to an Ohio museum.

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” ~Hebrews 11:6

Monday, February 23, 2015

Masterpiece Marriage Book Review

5 stars - Amazon reviewer Briteny Adams

"Being intentional," he said, "is a quality more people should possess." - Zenus Dane

Gina Welborn has penned a wonderful addition to the Quilts of Love series! Masterpiece Marriage is a beautiful story!

I loved the richness and depth of the historical setting and story details. The tapestry of this story includes so many lovely threads. The characters are complex and charming and the relationship between Englishwoman Mary Varrs and textile mill owner Zenus Dane is delightful. I also enjoyed Zenus's Aunt Priscilla and her determination to design a masterpiece marriage.

Engaging, humorous, and romantic, Masterpiece Marriage is a pleasure to read! I loved this book and can't wait to read more from Gina Welborn!


Masterpiece Marriage : Quilts of Love Series is available at Amazon and other online booksellers.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Pumpkin Bread Recipe

Pumpkin Bread

(Spoiler: Recipe isn't gluten-free.)

November isn't November unless I've made pumpkin br . . . stop the presses! It's February. Actually, my kids love pumpkin bread so much that I bake it year round. Only problem is in the last few years, I can't find canned pumpkin year round so I stock up. 

Let's get cooking.

Ingredients for two loaves because if I'm going to go to the effort to make a loaf, I might as well bake two.

2/3 cup shortening (I use butter, or canola oil if I'm out of butter)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream shortening with sugars. Add vanilla and mix just until blended.

4 eggs
2/3 cup water

Add eggs one at a time (discarding shells), beating thoroughly after each addition. Gently mix in water.

3 1/2 cups flour *
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoonn baking power
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
(If I'm in the mood, I'll add some cloves, ginger, and/or allspice, and I'm usually in the mood.)

Thoroughly mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add gradually to the shortening mixture and beat until smooth.

2 cups canned pumpkin
1/2 cup chopped nuts (Actually I never put in nuts, but if you like them...)

Add pumpkin to batter and mix gently. Add half the nuts to the batter, if so desiring the nuts to be added.

Lightly grease and flour two loaf pans. Pour batter equally between (by "between" I mean inside) the pans. If you're adding nuts, here's where you would sprinkle remaining nuts on the tops. Blech.

Bake at 350* for 45-50 min., or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.


*For those interested, I use this same recipe to make gluten-free pumpkin bread. I substitute equal amounts of GF flour. Baking time does have to be increased. Use toothpick test. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

How to Bless God When Life Sucks

I like to sing. Give me 40 minutes of singin' and only 20 minutes of preachin' any Sunday. Or maybe 50/10.

A friend once shared a story about how a man in her church was quite offended by the song, "Blessed Be Your Name," written by Matt Redman. Wasn't a worship song. Wasn't uplifting. Had no place in the church. Ouch! There's a bitter porcupine. My friend said, "Reminds me of me. How I'd rather not let God into the hurting places in my life. I'd just like to lock Him out and only acknowledge him in the good stuff. Seems like it would be the other way around, but for me it's not."

Boy, did she relate to me.

When I found out I was pregnant with baby #5, I wasn't the least bit excited. In fact, I'd say I was majorly ticked off. ANGRY. Well, one Sunday morning for some reason, hubby needed me to fill in for the guy who normally worked the Power Point/Media Shout for the music during first service morning worship. I figured doing it would give me something to focus on instead of worshiping a God I was ticked off at.

The first two songs were no problem. Then "Blessed Be Your Name" came on.

See, I was okay with blessing God when "when the sun's shining down on me, when the world's 'all as it should be," but I certainly didn't want to bless, praise, honor, glorify Him when I was "on the road marked with suffering." Not that being pregnant was suffering, but being pregnant when I didn't want to be certainly felt like suffering to me. So I could freely say there was "pain in the offering," pain in blessing His name that I felt it was easier to stay angry at God.

Call me crazy, but I'm a pain avoider. I didn't like to hurt for myself so why would I want to hurt for God?

Not long after Child #5 was born, I participated in the Beth Moore ESTHER Bible study. During week four's video session, Beth talked about fear. She said, "We can protect ourself right out of our callings." Boy, do I know how to do that with my writing. But God didn't want me to focus on my shallow writing fears. He decided to smack me upside the heart with my deepest fear. Eventually. Here's what I wrote in my notes:

"Courage is when you look _______ in the face. Don't deny it. Deny it's victory over you. You may be one brave decision away from a new path--from your calling, destiny. The #1 command in the Bible: DO NOT BE AFRAID. We all cherish fear so closely that we can shed it even when told to. Psalm 138:8. Can you imagine living without fearing _______? Do you believe a good week is only a happy accident? Proverbs 31. Most of what we fear will never happen to us. Although this is true, Satan will keep threatening us with it over and over again. WHAT IF is an acronym for I FEAR."

In the listener guide, Beth wrote this: "And if _________, then God will take care of me." She challenged us to find what that ______ was in our lives. What did we fear on a daily basis? What even was our deepest, most crippling fear?

Ladies all over the room were in tears. Not me. I was, well, kinda peturbed.

How was I gonna confront my deepest fear if I didn't know what it was. Driving across a bridge. Heights. Swimming in a lake, river, or ocean where human-eating fish live. And so on. But those are only fears I have for to garner sympathy. I don't really fear those things. Well, maybe I do the fish.

So I told my friend Tanya as we were leaving the classroom (paraphrasing here), "I feel abnormal because I don't have any crippling fears. Surely I have a fear. A real fear. In fact, this week I'm gonna pray that God shows me a real fear. Ooh, I'm excited!" I won't describe the "look" she gave me.

Three days later...NOTHING. Still no fear.

I even complained to my husband. I'm sure he thought I was abnormal for wanting a fear. I was considering pondering the very idea that perhaps maybe I was abnormal. Not but a day after I'd decided to live with my disappointment in not having a fear to conquer in Jesus' name, God opened my eyes. He played a song on my heart. Then again, it could have been on the radio.

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

I had a fear. A real fear. Getting pregnant when I didn't want to be. I remembered the anger I had at God when I realized I was pregnant with #5. That was not the fear I'd wanted to face. I figured God would show me I had a fear of creepy crawly things or not making it to the potty quick enough when I was in the middle of Wal-Mart. I wanted a cool fear.

I had to pray my way though the song, though my fears, though my lack of trust in God knowing what was best for me. I had to reach a point where I could say "If I got pregnant again, God WILL take care of me and I WILL be okay."

So I'm back to where I was when I walked out of the Esther video session four: happily relishing my fake fear of driving on bridges and swimming where the human-eating fish live. Boy, does it feel nice.

Love the song? Listen to it HERE

"For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

To read more about Matt Redman's inspiration behind the song, click here.