Friday, February 27, 2015

Taking on for Lent: Twelve Extraordinary Women

This week, as part of my goal to learn more about the women in the Bible during this Lent, I read Twelve Extraordinary Women by John MacArthur.  It was a fairly good study, exploring both Old and New Testament women.  MacArthur starts at the very beginning, with Eve, and continues through Scripture.  Most of the women are people we've all heard of, but there was at least one (Rahab) that I didn't know very well.  What I took to heart was a different perspective on these women than I had in the past. 

During the fall, God decrees to Eve that "childbearing will hurt."  Literally, it's interpreted as "Childbirth hurts."  After having five babies with no anesthetics, I can say, "Yep, giving birth hurts."  But looking deeper into Genesis, it's not just the hours of delivery that hurt, but raising children that hurts, too.  Through her (and Adam's) choice, sin enters the world, and their children are not immune from argument.  Another well-known story is how Cain slays his brother Abel.  I can't imagine losing one son at the hand of another isn't painful either.   Raising children has its own heartaches, for both mothers and fathers.  Is that part of our punishment? I'm not certain as it's merely an interesting thought that came to me mid-chapter. I don't have much theologically to go with the idea, but it's something I'm going to contemplate for a bit.

Sarah is a woman who refuses to give up on God, but gets frustrated that His timing isn't hers.  Doesn't that sound familiar? I can't tell you how many times I wished God would just show me an answer now. When Sarah tries to rush and manipulate things by offering her servant to Abraham as a surrogate doesn't work, and only makes waiting on God harder.  God waits to bless her (with a child) when there is absolutely no chance of it not being clear it's His hand in things.  My take-away is not that being impatient isn't wise (though being patient is not something that comes easily to me), but rather that when things seem absolutely impossible, that's when God works miracles. 

I really enjoyed the chapter about Rahab, and  found her story intriguing.  I had a passing knowledge of her story - she was a harlot who hid the Israelite spies at Jericho.  What I hadn't realized is how she marked her chamber (so that the Israelites could find her after) with a red cord. Sure, there's some deep symbolism in being a red marker on a doorway and wandering Israelites and all that, but what I was mostly reminded of is how God takes the mundane - a scarlet cord that just marked her house - and turns it into something great. I imagine that cord was a tool of her trade as well, and God uses bother her and it to advance His plans.  She also continues the link between the Israelites and Jesus - "Salmon begat Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth..." and so on (Mt 1:5).  She and her cord weren't anything special -- she's not Eve who was the first woman, not Sarah who gives birth to the first of a line of descendents that "outumber the stars" -- but without her, the trajectory would be changed.  Clearly, it doesn't mean that suddenly all of the smallest things become of enormous importance, but I think it's interesting that something so ordinary had such an effect.  It's a reminder to me to not overlook the small things while I wait for grand gestures.

The story of Naomi and Ruth reminds me of parenting. One minute, you're flying high and then along comes a reality check.  Naomi has a husband and two sons and is caught up in a famine and leaves with them for Moab in order to survive.  Naomi comes back from Moab with nothing to show for her time there except Ruth.  Her husband and sons - her hopes - are gone, yet what I see is she had an unwaveringly loyal friend at her side.  Reading about how Ruth supported Naomi makes me realize what it is to be a friend, and extra grateful for the friends I'm blessed with.  It's also story that shows God sends us the people we are meant to have in our lives. To support the two of them, Ruth worked in the fields and happened upon Boaz.  She wasn't looking for a husband (she really just wanted food), and God parked her in his field.  I'm most definitely not in the market for a new husband, but it makes me much more aware of a few things to work on.  First, if we want to make friends, we how a friend may be found where we least expect to find one

I will readily admit this book is one on my list that wasn't a Catholic study, and it's blatantly obvious by the author's interpretation of Mary, Jesus' mother.  It was a difficult chapter for me to read, because his interpretation is almost a complete antithesis of how I see Mary through a Catholic viewpoint. (In my opinion, the author also misinterperets a lot of Catholic teaching.)  He still made some points that that made me stop to think, but definitely has not persuaded me that she was "controlling" as he portrays her.  He interprets the story of the Wedding at Cana as Mary's attempt to control and Jesus' rebuke of them.  I emphatically disagree with this. In bringing to Jesus' attention that the wine was gone, expecting Jesus to do anything was a request, never a bargain or demand.   It's a reminder to me that prayers are requests, not demands, and "Wait," is a valid answer to them.

The author continues deriding the idea of Mary as mediatrix, saying her grief standing at the foot of the Cross at the Crucifixion didn't have any bearing or remediation of Christ's suffering, so she's unimportant.  On that point, I agree - of course it didn't.   However, what Mary is the epitome of "letting go and let God handle this."  As a mother, I can support my child, but I can't take away his suffering.  Thinking about her standing along the road to Calvary and then at the Cross points out to me that sometimes my job isn't to do but to be.  I think that's hard for a mom in general, and definitely hard for me.  Earlier in the book, there is a study of Hannah's commitment to raising her son Samuel before dedicating his life to serving God.  If Hannah is the epitome of "train the child up as he should go," then Mary is the greatest example of "train the child up and let him go, but love and support him all his days."

This was a good study to begin Lent with.  Several other biblical women were featured, but they didn't seem to "stick" with me quite as much.  Either my brain was already overloaded after seven women, or they just didn't strike a chord right this moment.   I'm looking forward to the next book on my list, Bad Girls of the Bible, and What We Can Learn From Them.  After reading about Rahab and Mary Magdalene in this week, I'm curious if they are featured in this book. 

©2012- 2015 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Heirloom Audio Productions: In Freedom's Cause (A Schoolhouse Crew Review)

In Freedom's Cause - audiodrama of the story of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce

Heirloom Audio Productions is the creator of our favorite audiotheater productions.  You may remember our review from last year of  Under Drake's Flag.  We absolutely fell in love with the productions, and when given the opportunity to review  In Freedom's Cause: The Real Story of Wallace and Bruce (Single Package), we were incredibly excited.  We were very excited when box arrived containing the 2-CD In Freedom's Cause set.  Last year, we listened to the discs in the car driving to and from the hospital, so we set them aside for our weekly trip. 

 In the meantime, we downloaded our other goodies:

Before we even got to listen to the CD, we were hooked on the music.  It's simply gorgeous.    Even without the spoken word with it, the music invites you into the story and hints at the intrigue to come.

Luke was especially excited to listen to this story about William Wallace, the great Scotsman who wanted freedom for his country.  While we were waiting for our CDs to arrive, he was participating in a course about the history of the United States government, and the lecturer wanted us to look at the American Revolution in context of the time period.  He pointed out that many of our Founding Fathers come from a strong Scottish heritage, and subscribed to Wallace's "thatched roof castle" viewpoint.  Not really knowing who William Wallace was, Luke was excited to study Wallace more in depth so he could better understand the early Americans' fierce desire for autonomy.

William Wallace and Robert the Bruce

G.A. Henty tells us a story of Scotland's yearning and fight for freedom led by two notable men in history.   In this story, Henty brings to us the life of William Wallace's, retelling about his life both on and off the battlefield.   Young Ned's father is slain by a nobleman, and his mother has hidden this story from her son until now.  Ned is determined to seek revenge on his father's murderer, and begins to train as a warrior.  He is sent to be tutored by his uncle, and meets the wife of the already legendary William Wallace, who in turn introduces an awestruck Ned to her husband.  Henty brings to life not only this hero-worship that many had for Wallace, but Wallace's humility.  He doesn't wish for glory, he fights for freedom from a distant king interested only in what he can take from the Scots.    Wallace shares what is most important to him - not his fabled Claymore, but his Psalter - which will give him courage to face the worst of his life.  When Ned admits he has "misplaced" his own Psalter, Wallace challenges him: "Would you ever misplace your sword?"

After Wallace's execution, the story continues with Robert the Bruce.  He eventually takes up where Wallace left off, fighting for the cause of Scotland's freedom.  Ned continues fighting alongside The Bruce, helping to ultimately overthrow the British rule.

The Cast

The cast of In Freedom's Cause

Once again, the producers have assembled an amazing cast.  Brian Blessed returns as G.A. Henty, the narrator of our story.  Ned and Gerald appear again as well, voiced by the same actors (.  At first, Matthew and Celia didn't realize that this was the "next edition" from Heirloom Audio Productions.  After a moment of listening, Celia said, "Hey! That's the names of the guys in the other...wait a minute!! I get it.  It's the same narrator telling the same people a story! It's the same voices!"  Yep, it is and they are!  Once they realized this, they were ready for the story to begin already!  Another well-known actress joins the cast for this production; you may recognize Joanna Frogget from Downton Abbey as Lady Marjorie.

Something I absolutely admire is how well the actors remain in character.  Scottish dialect is hard.  Each character had a distinct voice, showing just how well researched both the directors and actors are.  You wouldn't lump a Texan character with a New Yorker and a Minnesotan and call it "American" - each would sound like his native region, and you'd ridicule any film that tried to do otherwise.  In Freedom's Cause is no different, and here the different regional nuances are apparent.  For most of the actors, a Scottish burr is not their normal dialect, but for all of them, their commitment to their character's voice never wavers.  In fact, there were a few places we had to skip back because we missed something -- a voice was so Scottish we cuid nae ken what was being said!

Our Discussions

The package includes a beautiful study guide, containing questions for discussion and suggestions for vocabulary lists.   The questions are a great way to initiate discussions if you're not listening together, however we tended to just let discussions flow from "AHA!" moments.  Some of our discussions:

-Wallace's idea of vengeance being the wrong motivation for fighting.  Ned is propelled forward by the idea of avenging his father's death.  Wallace points out a bible passage from Deuteronomy: "Vengeance is mine, and no recompence." (Dt. 32:35).  It is not for Ned to fight for his father, or even for Wallace to fight in revenge for his wife's murder (he realizes his wrong when he has time to reflect and not act in instinct).  They discuss how their motive must be to free Scotland as nation, not seek to ruin English lords for their actions towards the Scots.

Prayer of William Wallace (Psalm 23)
-An overarching theme is the words of Psalm 23.  There is some confusion in the character's minds as to the meaning of the verses "Thy mercy shall follow me all the days of my life." (Ps. 23:6).  How can there be a merciful God who allows Ned's father, William Wallace, and so many other men to be cut down in battle?  Wallace dies a horrific death - the English want to prove their power - with his Psalter held in front of him by an attending priest.  They characters come to realize man is not guaranteed a long life, or even a merciful death.  The passage never means that.  Rather, it's a reassurance that God is with us always, even in the dark times.

-The third major theme we discussed was the ever-present "Double Bind." A double-bind is where you have two equally bad choices.   For the Scots, the options were accept a position in the English hierarchy, give up the fight, and save their lives, or risk death in the hope that eventually they would all be free. Here is where Luke and I started to bring William Wallace's legacy into American history.  How many left behind what they knew in the hopes of a better life in America, knowing they could be wrong; if they starved at home, at least they didn't starve alone.  When the men of the Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence, they were at a crossroads -- continue as things were and be yoked to the British Crown, or risk "our Lives, our fortunes, and our sacred Honor" and fight to be free.  Now knowing a bit more of the history of where these men came from, we could feel an even stronger chafing against the almost dictatorial British crown.

In Freedom's Cause: The Real Story of Wallace and Bruce - G.A. Henty
However,  In Freedom's Cause isn't all deep philosophy.  We got some good laughs as the boys in the story tried to master a "goat woo."  What? You've never heard of a goat woo?  Well, let's just say that the Cullybackey Pipe Band is much better with it than our fearless Scottish Avengers.  (And after hearing the zero-experience chantler player in action, this mom is suddenly thinking that Celia's new violin pieces don't sound quite so terrible!)  The boys also got some battle strategies to try out in some of their video games.  Both were particularly impressed with Wallace's tactic to allow half the advancing British army across a river bridge before attacking, rather than trying to keep them from crossing.  Luke said he'd never have thought of that, but it made sense -- divide the group so it's fighting with half of it unable to reach the front of the line.   Luke also explained why it was a good strategy to take out the leader, as Wallace's men did -- there was usually one good leader and the rest of the army simply followed command.  If you take out the person giving orders, pandemonium usually follows because there's no one to give direction.

The publisher's age recommendation for the program is "six to adult," but I would put it more in the "middle school and older" realm.  With two plus hours of intense listening, plus the dialect, it was overwhelming for the younger boys. They enjoyed the stand-alone music of the soundtrack more.  Celia noted that she was "really glad" it was not a movie -- it sounded like there was a lot of blood and gore involved! The study guides provide a strong base for using the CD set as a literary study, including content/comprehension questions and vocabulary, and we found it was a good starting point for a history and philosophy study.

At the end of the story,  "Henty" hints that he has more stories to tell.  Heirloom Productions has shared with us that there will be two new stories released this year.  One is going to be titled "With Lee in Virginia," and explores the American Civil War.  We can't wait!

While you wait for your copy to arrive, discover In Freedom's Cause through Social Media and read the other Crew Reviews.


In Freedom's Cause Review

©2012- 2015 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Sweet and Spicy Honey Garlic Chicken

sweet and spicy honey garlic chicken 

This recipe is easy to make, and is fantastic either as an appetizer or a main dish. It’s simple to cook the first time around, but easily is prepared in advance and reheated at the last minute for a relaxed game-day party! The light flour dusting in this recipe not only keeps the chicken’s juices from escaping and leaving your meat dry, but it also gives the glaze something to stick to. My only recommendation when you go to dine on this flavorful dish? Bring your appetite and a hot towel to wipe your hands.

Prep time: About 10 minutes
Cook time: approx 50 minutes to 1 hour

24 chicken wing pieces (12 whole, split into pieces)
12 chicken drumsticks
1 c. gluten-free flour blend
3 Tbsp olive oil

1 c. honey
¼ c. coconut aminos
4 Tbsp garlic powder
1 ½ tsp. powdered ginger
1 tsp chili powder
½ c water

Note: This makes a mild sauce - increase the chili powder or add a splash of Tabasco or Sriracha if you prefer it spicier.


1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. Line 2 baking trays with aluminum foil. If you’re using non-stick foil, keep going. If you’re using regular foil, take a second to coat with another teaspoon or so of oil.

If you have whole chicken wings, cut them into pieces at the joints. Discard the tips (or save in the fridge for making stock), and use the meatier upper pieces.

3. Lightly dust your chicken in the flour and shake off any loose flour. Place oil in the  bottom of a container, add chicken, and toss to coat.

4. Bake chicken for 20 minutes on each side (40 minutes total), flipping halfway through. 

5. While the chicken bakes, combine the glaze ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring the glaze to a boil. Then, lower the heat and allow the glaze to simmer for approx 5 minutes or until half the water has evaporated.

6. After 40 minutes in the oven, remove the chicken, toss it with the glaze, and return to the oven for another 5 minutes on each side (10 minutes total). Serve hot.

If you’re baking these in advance, remove them from the oven after the 40 minute mark, and cool on a baking sheet. When preparing to serve, toss the chicken in the prepared glaze and bake at 400°F for about 15 minutes until heated through and the glaze has set.

baked honey chicken wings

©2012- 2015 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Life On His Own Terms: Teddy Roosevelt

Born in New York City on October 27, 1858, young “Teedie” Roosevelt spent a great deal of time inside his family’s brownstone. Diagnosed with a weak heart and asthma, he was educated at home and advised to aspire to a sedentary career. By his teens, however, Theodore Roosevelt Jr. had developed a rigorous physical routine that included weightlifting and boxing. He adopted "the strenuous life", as he entitled his 1901 book, as his ideal, both as a politician and as an outdoorsman.

Early Adulthood

Alice Hathaway Lee Roosevelt
Alice Hathaway Lee Roosevelt
Library of Congress/US Public Domain
When his father died during his second year at Harvard College, Roosevelt channeled his grief into working even harder; after graduating magna cum laude in 1880, he enrolled at Columbia Law School and married Alice Hathaway Lee of Massachusetts. Roosevelt didn't stay at law school, however, opting instead to join the New York State Assembly as a representative from New York City. The motivated politician was the youngest to serve in that position. Not long after, Roosevelt was speeding through various public service positions, including captain of the National Guard and minority leader of the New York Assembly. However, his meteoric rise preceded a terrible plummet; on February 14, 1884, both his mother and his wife died. A despairing Roosevelt orphaned his two-day old daughter into the care of his elder sister and headed to the Dakota Territory, where he lived as a cowboy and cattle rancher as he battled with his grief and depression.

Theodore and Edith Roosevelt
Theodore and Edith Roosevelt
Presidential History Geeks
Returning home and to politics in 1886, he met with a stumble, losing his campaign to become New York City’s mayor. However, his fortunes changed; shortly after he married his second wife and childhood acquaintance Edith Kermit Carow and Roosevelt’s self-esteem was revived. He resumed his career trajectory, first as a civil service commissioner, then as a New York City police commissioner and Assistant U.S. Navy Secretary under President William McKinley. Taking a keen interest in the Spanish-American War, Roosevelt left his government post to organize a volunteer cavalry. Known as the famous “Rough Riders,” the group’s crowning moment was actually performed on foot. The few horses that had been loaded onto the unit’s transport ship had drowned because there was no dock berth for the ship. The Rough Riders had been turned into Rough Marchers! Teddy led in a bold charge up San Juan Hill in the Battle of San Juan Heights, in 1898, for which he was nominated for the Medal of Honor. Returning home a hero both in war and the public eye, “Old Four-eyes”, as many called him, was elected governor of New York in 1898.

Teddy Roosevelt Rough Riders
Colonel Roosevelt and his Rough Riders
Library of Congress/US Public Domain

The Roosevelt Administration   


Teddy Roosevelt Vice President
The Administration's Promises Have Been Kept
US Public Domain

Speak Softly Carry a Big Stick
The Big Stick in the Caribbean Sea
1904 by William Allen Rogers
Smithsonian Institution/US Public Domain
Roosevelt's progressive policies ran contrary to the Republican Party stance; party leaders decided to quiet him by naming him as Vice President on the 1900 McKinley re-election ticket. However, shortly after his second term began, President McKinley was assassinated! Again, Roosevelt defied a quiet existence, and at 42 became the youngest man inaugurated as President of the United States. Roosevelt's charismatic personality and impassioned combination of pounding fists and emphatic rhetoric undoubtedly helped in pushing his agenda; his presidential legacy is highlighted by his dedication to prosecuting monopolies under the Sherman Antitrust Act. Out of this commitment grew a benchmark of his first term, the "Square Deal"—a domestic program that embraced reform of the American workplace, government regulation of industry, and consumer protection. These reforms won him both the working class’ support and the 1904 Presidential Election.

Believing that the post-Reconstruction America was now ready to take its rightful place on the world stage, Roosevelt initiated a massive public relations effort in 1905. Engaging his unofficial policy of “Speak softly and carry a big stick,” Roosevelt bulked up the U.S. Navy, creating the "Great White Fleet," and sent it on a world tour as a testament to U.S. military power. He also helped expedite completion of the Panama Canal by providing tacit approval of the Panama revolution with funds and a naval blockade preventing Colombian troops from landing in Panama. President Roosevelt was also awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906 for his role in negotiating the end of the Russo-Japanese War.

T Roosevelt Nobel Peace Prize
Roosevelt is Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
Theodore Roosevelt Center

Despite a personal support for desegregation and women's suffrage, the Teddy Roosevelt administration took an often passive, sometimes contradictory approach to improving civil Rights. He defended Minnie Cox, who experienced racial discrimination in the South while working as a postmaster, and strongly supported women’s suffrage. Roosevelt was also the first president to entertain an African-American, Booker T. Washington, as a guest at the White House. However, the political backlash from the event was so severe that he never invited Washington back again.

The Teddy Bear 


Teddy Roosevelt Bear Hunt
Drawing the Line in Mississippi
US Public Domain
In November of 1902, Teddy decided to take a much needed break from the presidential hustle and bustle set upon him by President McKinley’s assassination. He arranged to go on a bear hunt in Mississippi, despite game being scarce and doubting while on the hunt if he would ever see a bear. Finally, his hunting dogs surrounded a small, scraggly black bear; however, the bear looked so pathetic that a kindhearted Teddy decided not to shoot it. The following Saturday, a cartoon featuring Teddy and the bear appeared about it in the Washington Post. When Teddy returned to Washington, a letter was awaiting him from the owner of a toy store in Brooklyn, New York. The man had made a cuddly stuffed bear and wanted permission to call it a “Teddy Bear,” after the incident in Mississippi. Teddy thought the whole idea was a little odd, but wrote back, “I don’t think my name will mean much to the bear business, but you’re welcome to use it.” Soon every fashionable East Coast child owned a Teddy Bear, and it has endured as a childhood staple.

A passionate conservationist, Roosevelt has also been deemed the country's first environmentalist president, and is known as The Father of National Parks Service. In 1906, he signed the Antiquities Act of 1906. which authorized the President, "to declare by public proclamation historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest" that existed on public lands in the United States, declaring these sites to be National Monument. The Act also prohibited the excavation or removal of objects on Federal land unless the a permit had been issued by the appropriate department. President Woodrow Wilson would found the National Park Service in 1916, and core of the NPS was sites preserved by the 1906 law.

Have you ever wondered why we call the building at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue “The White House”? When Roosevelt became president, he hired the most illustrious architects of the time, McKim Mead and White, to renovate and repaint the decrepit mansion, and the presidential mansion officially became known as the White House when Roosevelt had the name emblazoned on his stationery. However, there was a reason Teddy called it that. In addition to serving as the executive office, the mansion served as a lively playground for the Roosevelts' six children. Due in no small part to the president's passion for sports and books, each room of the home was enlivened with activity, from crawl space to library. To the Roosevelt family, the mansion was not a formal government building; it was simply a “white house."

Private Citizen and Political Activist 


Bull Moose Party
My Hat is Still in the Ring
Steven R. Shook
When Teddy Roosevelt left office in 1909, he felt confident that he was leaving the in nation able hands; Roosevelt's successor was his friend, former Secretary of War William Howard Taft. Having enjoyed his travels in Europe and the Middle East with his family as a young boy, his two years as a rancher in the Dakotas, and countless hunting trips, it seems only logical that Roosevelt's next adventure would be to embark on an African safari. However, after two years of collecting specimens, speaking engagements, and traveling (including as special ambassador to England for the funeral of King Edward VII), Roosevelt became disgruntled with Taft’s weak enforcement of progressive policies, and decided to make another run for the presidency. To do so, though, meant launching a third party initiative, because Taft was already running on the Republican Party ticket. Roosevelt formed the Progressive Party, known colloquially as the "Bull Moose Party," and began campaigning for the 1912 election. While delivering a speech on the campaign trail in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, John Nepomuk Schrank attempted to assassinate Roosevelt with a gunshot to the chest. Shockingly, Roosevelt continued his speech for another 90 minutes before seeing a doctor! Roosevelt lost to Woodrow Wilson in the 1912 election in a close popular vote. He considered running again in 1916, winning the Progressive nomination, but bowed out in favor of Republican Party nominee Charles Evans Hughes.

The United States entered World War I, and the strong hero would again be cut down by the death of an immediate relative.  Teddy once again fell into despair after his youngest son Quentin's plane was shot down in July, 1918, and died in his sleep of a coronary embolism on January 6, 1919. Although he was initially denied the Medal of Honor —the highest award for military service in the United States—for his role in the Battle of San Juan Heights, President Bill Clinton posthumously conferred it on January 16, 2001, making Roosevelt the first president to receive the award.

When Teddy Roosevelt was a young boy, doctors discovered that he had a weak heart and advised him to accept a quiet life. However, his determination to live life on his own terms and his energetic vision helped to bring the nation into the new century. America owes nearly 200 million acres of national forest and park land to his foresight, including Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Within the park’s boundaries lies Mount Rushmore, where Roosevelt's visage is carved in memorial alongside Presidents Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln. As Teddy once said, “Much has been given us, and much will rightfully be expected from us. We have duties to others and duties to ourselves; and we can shirk neither. We have become a great nation, forced by the fact of its greatness into relations with the other nations of the earth, and we must behave as beseems a people with such responsibilities.”

 ©2012- 2015 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Friday, February 20, 2015

"Taking On" for Lent

Taking on for Lent - A LinkupLent isn't just about giving up chocolate or beer or whatever vice you know you probably should cut back on anyway.  For Catholics, there are three prongs to a Lenten observation - sacrifice, prayer, and almsgiving.  Sometimes, I think the "sacrifice" is easiest.  40 non-consecutive days of skipping something (Sundays and the Solemntities of St. Joseph and the Assumption are not days of Lent) isn't impossible.  Yes, you're cutting something "fun" out as a penance, but it's easy to say "I'm skipping dessert."  Almsgiving isn't too hard either - it may hurt a little if your budget is already feeling a pinch, but God doesn't set a tax for us and accepts whatever we are able to sacrifice.  (Remember how the two pennies from the widow were more valuable that the huge donations from the others?)  What I find hardest is the "prayer" part.  Why? Because it involves a commitment of time.

Yes, this Lent I'm giving something up. I'm giving up mindless junk eating, that falls in the "I know I shouldn't do this anyway" category.  Luke and I are working on a course about the great churches of history, and the architecture and decor is simply stunning. I'm going with "My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, and if I wouldn't dream of destroying one of these buildings with junk and random spray-painted graffiti, then WHY am I doing this to myself?"  Don't get me wrong -- I'm not going to start extolling the virtues of a particular diet.  These buildings have survived because generally people have made small adjustments and repairs all the time to keep them pristine, with the occasional major overhaul, so I'm taking the same attitude - some small adjustments now, and an overhaul when the time is right.

However, I've decided that the prayer side is where I want to focus this Lent.  I want to get into the habit of a daily prayer time, set aside and dedicated to God.  However, I'm not a "devotional" type of person.  I know that it's not something I can do consistently - it's not my "thing".  Sure, Lent is about sacrifice, but I think that it's kind of silly to attempt something that my heart won't be into just because I "should" do it.  In hindsight, one of my favorite college classes was my freshman required theology course, Women in the Bible.  I've decided that I want to go back and explore the often overlooked women and how they quietly led lives for God, and find ways to emulate them.  By the calendar, Lent is about 6 weeks long, so my plan is to read one book each week.  It will be sacrificing fun time (anybody else have an obsession with the Candy Crush flavor du jour??), but I think a worthwhile one.  Here's my reading list, along with their synopses. (Note: Not all of these are "Catholic" books, but I'm ok with that.)  Each Friday of Lent, I'm planning to share what I've learned.  I hope you'll join me!

1.  Twelve Extraordinary Women: How God Shaped Women of the Bible and What He Wants to Do with You

Celebrated for their courage, vision, hospitality, and spiritual giftedness, it's no wonder women were so important to God's plan revealed in the Old and New Testaments. It wasn't their natural qualities that made these women extraordinary but the power of the one true God whom they worshipped and served.
In Twelve Extraordinary Women, you'll learn more than fascinating information about these women, you'll discover-perhaps for the first time-the unmistakable chronology of God's redemptive work in history through their lives. These women were not ancillary to His plan, they were at the very heart of it.

2. Bad Girls of the Bible And What We Can Learn from Them 

Ten of the Bible’s best-known femmes fatales parade across the pages of Bad Girls of the Bible with situations that sound oh-so-familiar.

Eve had food issues. Potiphar’s Wife and Delilah had man trouble. Lot’s Wife and Michal couldn’t let go of the past, Sapphira couldn’t let go of money, and Jezebel couldn’t let go of anything. Yet the Woman at the Well had her thirst quenched at last, while Rahab and the Sinful Woman left their sordid histories behind.

3. The World's First Love: Mary Mother of God 

With his characteristic eloquence and brilliance, Fulton J. Sheen presents a moving portrayal of the Blessed Virgin Mary that combines deep spirituality with history, philosophy and theology. All the major aspects and events of Mary's life are lovingly portrayed in this word portrait that is a never failing source of information, consolation and inspiration. Sheen also gives profound insights into all the Marian beliefs ranging from the Immaculate Conception to the Assumption to the miracle of Our Lady of Fatima. While considering the different phases of Mary's life, Bishop Sheen discusses various problems common to mankind of every age and reveals clearly that every problem can be resolved. He emphasizes the unique dignity, strength and gifts of women and their ability to help heal the world's problems.

4. Hail Holy Queen

Most Christians know that the life of Jesus is foreshadowed throughout the Old Testament. Through a close examination of the Bible, as well as the work of both Catholic and Protestant scholars and clergy, Hahn brings to light the small but significant details showing that just as Jesus is the "New Adam," so Mary is the "New Eve." He unveils the Marian mystery at the heart of the Book of Revelation and reveals how it is foretold in the very first pages of the Book of Genesis and in the story of King David's monarchy, which speaks of a privileged place for the mother of the king.

5.  Having a Martha Heart in a Mary World

An invitation for every woman who feels she isn't godly enough...isn't loving enough...isn't doing enough. The life of a woman today isn't really all that different from that of Mary and Martha in the New Testament. Like Mary, you long to sit at the Lord's feet...but the daily demands of a busy world just won't leave you alone. Like Martha, you love Jesus and really want to serve him...yet you struggle with weariness, resentment, and feelings of inadequacy.

Then comes Jesus, right into the midst of your busy Mary/Martha life-and he extends the same invitation he issued long ago to the two sisters of Bethany. Tenderly he invites you to choose "the better part"-a joyful life of "living-room" intimacy with him that flows naturally into "kitchen service" for him.

6.  Walking with Mary From Nazareth to the Cross

Mary appears only a few times in the Bible, but those few passages come at crucial moments. Catholics believe that Mary is the ever-virgin Mother of God, the Queen of Heaven and Earth. But she also was a human being--a woman who made a journey of faith through various trials and uncertainties and endured her share of suffering. Even with her unique graces and vocation, Mary remains a woman we can relate to and from whom we have much to learn.

©2012- 2015 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Bacon Roasted Chicken and Potatoes

Bacon Roasted Chicken and Potatoes

Bacon-wrapped anything? How can you go wrong? With this recipe, you can have a flavorful meal with minor effort. The only complex task is to julienne the onion, which really means “cut it in half longways, peel, and slice thinly.” Need a refresher on how to julienne an onion? Check out master chef Jacques Pepin’s tutorial. It only take an hour to bake, and with only one pan* to wash, minutes to clean up.

*Ok, we used two...but there are a lot of us.  If you have a smaller family, halve the recipe and you'll only need to use only one pan.

Prep time: About 20 minutes
Cook time: About 1 hour


12 chicken legs
1 lb bacon
3 lbs potatoes (about 6 large)
1 onion
black pepper


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees celsius)

2. Wrap each chicken leg in a slice of bacon, covering as much of the chicken as possible. Divide the wrapped chicken legs into 2 - 9x13 inch baking dishes, leaving space between the legs. Dice any leftover bacon strips.

3. Cut the potatoes into quarters (or eighths, if they are exceptionally large). Fill the space between/around the chicken with the potatoes.

4. Julienne the onion, and sprinkle it and the diced bacon over the chicken.

5. Bake for about 1 hour, or until the bacon is crisp and brown and the potatoes are tender. Serve hot.

©2012- 2015 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Carnegie and Morgan: The Bridge to a New America

Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Morgan: The Bridge to a New America

America wasn't discovered -- she was built, first by colonial settlers and then by the actions of men who believed in the freedom to grow free of the bondage of England and slavery. By the end of the American Civil War, like many of her buildings and industries, she was in pieces. In the years following the war, new industries laid the foundation for her reconstruction. Cornelius Vanderbilt, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, and J.P. Morgan were among the men who constructed a bold vision for a new, modern America.

Cornelius "Commodore" Vanderbilt
Cornelius "Commodore" Vanderbilt
circa 1860-1865
U.S. Public Domain
Cornelius Vanderbilt was born on May 27, 1794 on Staten Island, New York. Although he rose to become one of America’s first tycoons, he grew up impoverished, watching his illiterate father, Cornelius Vanderbilt Sr., toil away as a seaman. At age 16, the junior Vanderbilt began the first passenger ferry business in New York harbor with just one boat. By the mid-1840s, he earned the nickname "The Commodore," operating a fleet of more than 100 steamboats that controlled traffic on the Hudson River. In the late 1860s, rail travel began to grow in the United States, and once again The Commodore seized opportunity. He purchased railroads in New York and followed the same business model he had used with his ferry venture, improving service and offering customers low fares. In 1863, Vanderbilt took control of the Harlem and was elected its president. He later explained his reasoning for purchasing it: to show that he could take the "worthless" railroad and make it valuable. Others only saw its limits, but he saw a key advantage: it was the only steam railroad to enter the center of Manhattan. From Manhattan, the Harlem ran up to Chatham Four Corners, New York, where it had a connection to the railroads running east and west. In 1864, the Commodore sold his last ships, concentrating on expanding railroads. His son (and eventual heir) William Henry convinced him to grow his holdings from New York to Chicago, IL. After only five years in the railroad business, the senior Vanderbilt had reportedly made $25 million - an astounding payoff! His first wife, Sophia Johnson Vanderbilt, died in 1868, and a year later he remarried Frances Armstrong Crawford Vanderbilt. At 34 years his junior, Frank gave the 73-year-old Commodore a new outlook on life, one that included philanthropic giving. He gave a gift of one million dollars - $260 million in today’s currency - to Central Tennessee University, which was renamed Vanderbilt University in his honor. When he died at his Manhattan home on January 4, 1877, his estate controlled the largest fortune accumulated in the U.S. at that time, equivalent to $26 billion dollars.

John Davidson Rockefeller
John Davidson Rockefeller
circa 1885
U.S. Public Domain
Entrepreneur John Davidson Rockefeller was born on July 8, 1839, in Richford, New York. A polar opposite to his con artist father, Bill, John was a careful and studious businessman who refrained from taking unnecessary risks. The young Rockefeller sensed an opportunity in the oil business by the early 1860s. Despite the ongoing Civil War, he opened his first refinery just outside of Cleveland, Ohio in 1863, and in June 1870, formed Standard Oil of Ohio, which rapidly became the most profitable refiner, first in Ohio and eventually in the entire United States. One of Rockefeller's favorite business maneuvers was to buy up or create oil-related companies, like the makers of tanks, barrels, and pipelines, and then inflate the prices for competing companies. He would also secretly buy competing companies and then use officials from these companies to spy on the activities of competitors. The sheer size of Standard Oil made it possible for Rockefeller to bully the railroads into granting him big rebates on shipping. The rebates made his shipping costs much lower than that of any other competitor and worked to defeat the entry of new oil companies into the market. Rockefeller soon owned ninety percent of oil industry, creating the first monopoly in United States history. Despite being a man of great religious devotion, his success was ironically based what would appear to be a complete lack of conscience. Late in life, Rockefeller devoted himself to philanthropy, giving away more than $530 million to various causes. He died on May 23, 1937, in Ormond Beach, Florida. Few recall his humble beginnings, as his name has become synonymous with wealth and prosperity.

Andrew Carnegie
Andrew Carnegie
circa 1878
U.S. Public Domain via Project Gutenberg
Industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie was born on November 25, 1835, in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland. In 1848, 13-year-old Carnegie and his family immigrated to the United States and settled in Allegheny, Pennsylvania. At 18, Carnegie became the protégé of Thomas Scott, president of the Pennsylvania Railroad, and became the business manager of the company by the time he turned 24. In 1865, he left there to manage the Keystone Bridge Company, and in 1868, Carnegie's company won the contract to build the Eads Bridge,  spanning the Mississippi River at St Louis, Missouri. This was almost as big a risk as leaving Scotland behind for America. If the bridge succeeded, it would be an amazing new connection between the East and the West, but a mile-plus long bridge - longer than any built before - was an exercise in trust in an era when one in four bridges failed. The iron that was normally used for bridges did not have the strength to withstand the weight of a train and its freight, but Carnegie believed a steel bridge would succeed. However, steel was difficult to mass produce and extremely expensive. Carnegie eventually found the solution in the Bessemer furnace, but the construction fell years behind schedule and was nearly buried in debt. In 1873, Carnegie's bridge over the Mississippi was completed. However, he still needed to convince people that the bridge - even made of steel - would not collapse. Inspiration struck Carnegie; a common myth of the time stated that an elephant could sense when a structure was unstable and would refuse to cross. Carnegie used this perception to his advantage, and had John Robinson nimbly lead an elephant across the bridge, proving that steel was the new material for railroads to use. The new Carnegie Steel Company went on to revolutionize steel production in the United States. With a start-to-finish strategy (mining the raw iron and fueling coal, building refineries, and owning ships and railroads for transporting the goods) Carnegie became both the dominant force in the industry and an exceedingly wealthy man. In 1901, he sold his business to the United States Steel Corporation, created by legendary financier J.P. Morgan, for a more than $200 million profit, and then turned to philanthropy, investing in incredible $350 million in education, art, and music before his death in 1919.  In today’s dollars, that would be about $67 billion donated to fund over 2500 libraries, schools and universities nationwide, and the famed Carnegie concert hall in New York City. 

John Pierpont (J.P.) Morgan
John Pierpont (J.P.) Morgan
U.S. Public Domain
Legendary financier, art collector, and philanthropist John Pierpont (J.P.) Morgan was born on April 17, 1837, in Hartford, Connecticut. After working for his banker father, he started his own private banking company in 1871. J.P. Morgan & Co. became one of the leading financial firms in the country. It was so powerful that even the U.S. government looked to the firm for financial aid with the depression of 1895. During Morgan’s career, his wealth, power, and influence attracted a lot of media and government scrutiny. During the late 1800s and even after the turn of the century, much of the country's industry - railroads, steel, banking - were in the hands of a few powerful business leaders and criticized for creating monopolies. Morgan dominated two industries in particular; he helped consolidate railroad industry in the east and formed the United States Steel Corporation - the world’s largest steel manufacturer and first billion dollar corporation - in 1901 with the purchase of the Carnegie Steel Corporation. The US government became concerned that Morgan had created a monopoly in the railroad and steel industry. In 1904, the Northern Securities Company was dissolved by the Supreme Court because it ran afoul of antitrust laws. The government filed an antitrust suit against Morgan in 1911, followed by an investigation by the House of Representatives the following year. Neither the suit nor the investigation ever uncovered wrongdoing on Morgan's part. In addition, despite being under investigation at the time, the federal government again looked to Morgan to personally shore up banks struggling to survive the Panic of 1907. Although an astute businessman, Morgan had many interests beyond the world of banking. He enjoyed sailing and participated in a number of America's Cup yacht races, and he was an ardent art collector, amassing one of the largest art collections ever. These works now encompass a large part of the collections held by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Frick Collection New York. Morgan died in 1913 in Rome, Italy.

By the late 1800s, American had been decimated by the Civil War. Though the north had a large number of factories and railroads, the agricultural economy of the south had been laid to waste. In order to rebuild and re-establish itself as a world player economically, the post-war America needed to propel itself back into the forefront of the Industrial Revolution. Vanderbilt’s railroads, Rockefeller’s oil, Carnegie’s steel, and Morgan’s cash helped mend the nation’s economy, and built - both literally and figuratively - a bridge from the Gilded Age into a new century.

Eads Bridge photo credit

©2012- 2015 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.
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