The Ambassadors – A Lenten Study on Death and Vanity

Hans Holbein the Younger

Vanity Hans Holbein
Holbein – Henry VIII

Recently, I watched a fascinating Amazon Prime documentary on artist Hans Holbein: “Holbein, Eye of the Tudors.”  Hans Holbein was a Swiss artist during the Reformation whose work was impeded by the Iconoclasts — a break-off of Lutheranism that was against all graven images of God.  Basel, Switzerland, where Holbein lived, was a stronghold of the Iconoclasts, so Holbein took an invitation from Erasmus to journey to England.  There, he lived in the house of Sir Thomas More and painted his family.  Eventually, he was invited to work at court.  It is because of Hans Holbein that we know how Henry VIII, many of his wives, Thomas More, and Oliver Cromwell actually looked.

Holbein’s realism was astounding.

Faith and Court

Vanity Painting
Sir Thomas More

We don’t really know too much about Holbein’s religious beliefs through his life, though we know he had them.  He was raised Catholic.

While in Basel, he created beautiful works of art for the churches. The Lutherans, or at least the branch he was exposed to, had not been kind to his livelihood.  The iconoclasts destroyed much of the art in the churches and he struggled to feed his family.

Thomas More introduced him at court, yet he still managed to find favor in the English court.  He won the favor of Anne Boleyn and painted her portrait.  He continued to prosper (not that he made much money) even after so many had fallen out of Henry’s favor (sometimes it was their head falling).  However, there are no records showing that Holbein converted to Anglicanism or that he approved of Henry’s actions.

Honestly, he must have been very gifted in this.  Cromwell sent Holbein was to Germany to paint Anne of Cleves.  Both Oliver Cromwell and British Lutheran Robert Barnes were very eager for Henry to marry Anne and create an alliance between the Anglican Church and the Lutheran one (Smallcaldic League).  Henry decided the painting greatly exaggerated her beauties and did not consummate the marriage.  He accused Cromwell of manipulating him into the alliance and had him beheaded.  He also beheaded Robert Barnes when Barnes landed on English soil.  Somehow, the actual painter managed to keep his head.

vanity painting
A vanity painting..this person loved books, writing, and a gun (I couldn’t find the source)

Vanity Paintings

Vanity paintings were common during Holbein’s time.  They were paintings that included things the person loved or the tools of their trade, with a skull present alongside or on top of those things.  “Vanity, vanity, all is vanity.”  Death comes for us all in the end.  This person may accomplish so much, but in the end, they will be dust and none of the other things matter. Holbein painted several vanity paintings, but there is one that is his most famous.


 The Ambassadors – The Vanity Painting of Vanity Paintings

Vanity painting - The Ambassadors
Holbein – The Ambassadors


This painting portrays two young French dignitaries to the court of Henry VIII.  The gentleman on the left was a 29-year-old ambassador.  The gentleman on the right was a 25-year-old Catholic bishop.  They were good friends.  It is unusual that both are actually in the painting amongst all of the other objects, but Holbein is making a broader statement than applies to just one man, or even just these two.

Their representation as dignitaries to the court is itself a vanity.  Diplomacy both on behalf of the secular government (Kingdom of the Left) and The Church (Kingdom of the Right) will not last forever. On the shelf behind them rest scientific tools of the age: astronomical globes, a sundial, a quadrant, and a few other items.

On the 2nd shelf, it gets really interesting — there is a globe, and it is round, showing that the flat earth of the Middle Ages is gone.  Next to it, a German hymnal by Martin Luther, and there beside it, a lute.  Martin Luther was a talented lutist.  On the lute, one string is broken.  Painters often use broken instruments to symbolize discord.

Even the floor — the tiles on the floor are like those at Westminster Abbey where English kings are coronated.

On the floor though is a completely bizarre image.  From straight on, it looks white, malformed, and nebulous.  The painting was not meant to be viewed from straight on, though.  Where it was hung, it would first be viewed by someone entering the room from above, to the right. From there, it is clearly a skull, as in other vanity paintings.  All of these things — are vanity.  The dignitaries and their diplomacy, the new things of this world, and the strife that Luther has brought, even kings — all will end. But in this painting, death itself is vanity, too.  It is a distorted image, as if in a mirror — a reflection because it does not last.

In the upper left-hand corner of the painting, one thing presides above all.  It is partially obscured by the curtain. Everything in the painting may draw your attention away from it, but it is there, prevailing over all else.

Christ on the cross.


Vanity Painting Pinterest Graphic




Dealing with Rosacea – A Calming Ointment

rosacea healing soothing

 Ten Years of Rosacea – At Least

Those of you who know me, know I have had flushed cheeks and breakouts for many years – at least a decade. For a long time,  At times it would flare up and feel raw.  I thought it was something that I was eating. I thought I was allergic to my glasses (I have issues with metal). I thought I was reacting to the nose pads on my glasses.  Never did a doctor say “rosacea.”  If it was bad, they would prescribe an antibiotic and tell me that would make it better.  It did.  And then it would flare again.

rosacea healing
Before, taken July,2014

There was one time that I now know was a huge Mast Cell Activation Syndrome flare, I had a kidney infection for three months and the rash on my face was awful.  When I could move around, it was embarrassing.  The Dead Sea Salt Kiosk People were practically chasing me around the mall trying to show me how their product would cure me.  I love it when 18-year-old mall workers try to diagnose me.

At one point, the doctors thought it could be lupus. No dice, thankfully. But it would’ve been nice to have a name on it.

When we were brought back to The States, I didn’t have the money to even try something that might work, so I went to Pinterest.  I found one homemade ointment, but I couldn’t afford all of the essential oils, so I did what I could.  I already had a few that dealt with inflammation, so I tried got the base oils she recommended – Argan and squalane oil. And then used the three oils that I had on hand, that I knew would at least help.  This is what I came up with.  And for me, it has made all the difference in the world.

rosacea healing
After – taken Winter, 2016. I am wearing a bit of mineral powder, but no concealer. I would not have been able to hide the previous inflammation

I think there are various causes for rosacea, and everyone is different.  This worked incredibly well for me, and I do think the argan oil is probably the key, but it does do better with the essential oils in it.

Argan oil is an amazingly hydrating oil and healing   It already has squalane as a component from what I’ve read.  Squalane was the factor in shark cartilage that promoted healing and had everybody using it as a supplement back in the early 90s.  But they managed to isolate squalane from plant sources now, and so the cosmetics industry does not have call to deplete the shark population now.  Squalane has plant stem cells, and a lot of other cosmetics are charging a fortune for those.

Lavender has a reputation for being calming, both the aroma and the oil itself.  Essential oil practitioners claim it is anti-inflammatory. Tea tree oil has disinfectant and anti-inflammatory properties and has been proven to be effective against rosacea in European studies.  OIl of oregano is touted by others to be a strong anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory as well.  it has worked for ear infections and sore throats for my family — not pleasant, but we found it helpful.  If you are interested in that, please look up information on how to use it properly.

rosacea healing
If I am not in the sun too long or havent been crying, this is about as bad as it gets anymore. Not the best picture, but it makes the point.

I am not a trained expert. I can’t make any promises but boy, this worked for me.  When I stop using it, in about 3 or 4 days my face is hurting again and breaking out.  My functional medicine rheumatologist was amazed at the difference.

If you don’t have these ingredients on hand, it is an initial investment, but it is hundreds of dollars cheaper than the creams my dermatologist prescribed (Metrogel), and so much cheaper than the only commercial beauty products that seemed to make a dent for me.  If you are only using the oils for this, they will last years (and I suggest investigating other uses, they are great). The argan oil and the squalane oil will last for six months- two batches.



Rosacea-Calming Skin Ointment

2 oz. Argan oil

1 oz. Squalane oil

10 drops Lavender essential oil

10 drops Tea tree oil

5 drops Oil of oregano

Combine these all and apply enough to moisturize face morning and night.

I am a member of the Amazon affiliate program, but these links above and below are to the exact products that I buy.


rosacea healing soothing

Creeds and Confessions: Defining the Faith

Confessions and Creeds

Creeds and Confessions: The Argument

One criticism that evangelicals often level at Lutherans (and Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans/Episcopals, and some Calvinists), is that rather than hold to Scriptures, we put other things in the way, such as creeds, catechisms, and confessional works.  Some will even say that we are adding to Scripture. This is a misrepresentation and a misunderstanding of the role creeds and confessions have in the life of The Church.

We are not making works of man equal to Scripture. They serve Scripture.  The way the Formula of Concord teaches is this: Scripture alone is “judge, rule, and norm.”  All other works must be held up to the light of Scripture, and if they fall short or contradict, they do not stand.


Way back in the beginning of The Christian Church, even when the Apostles were still around, heresies and false teachings sprouted up in a big way. Huge schisms threatened the Church. Some of our best theologians of the Christian Faith met in councils and created confessions of the true Christian faith — creeds.

The creeds have proven to be faithful summaries of what is in the Bible regarding the nature of God and the Doctrine of the Trinity.  They sum up what various verses in the Bible have told us about who God is.  Our creeds also help us see clearly when a false teacher is telling us something false about God.

There are three ecumenical creeds:  The Apostles Creed, The Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed.  

The Formula of Concord refers to creeds as symbols – “brief, concise confessions,” They were “regarded as a unanimous, universal Christian faith and confession of the orthodox and true Church.”

You may or may not recite them all the time as most liturgical churches do, but if you don’t believe what they teach, you are something else besides Christian.

Creeds and Confessions confess Scripture


When we were in Papua New Guinea, one of my husband’s focuses was encouraging a return to using The Small Catechism as a means of teaching the faith.  The Lutheran Heritage Society had copies in Tok Pisin, and we were working hard to get those into the hands of the pastors and evangelists.  We would’ve loved to have enough to get them into the hands of every family or every layman who also rarely had Bibles. This is a situation that is ripe for false teachers, and they certainly were (are) struggling with some of the same heresies that the 2nd century Church was fighting.

At a conference, one of the evangelists shared that one of the huge problems they faced was if they bring out a catechism to teach with, they are accused of putting something between people and the Bible. When the evangelists start trying to teach the faith to new Lutherans, relatives, and friends from other denominations level that charge. I’d heard arguments like this over and over again in college, but all of a sudden something occurred to me that never had before, and so I struggled putting that thought into Tok Pisin — my first effort to communicate an idea longer than one or two sentences —

The same people who argue this about The Catechism, have no problem with buying books from the Christian bookstore that teach different aspects of the faith.  These books have only been around for a few years, at most.  How much better is it to have a book that has effectively taught the faith for 500 years?  How much more reliable is it?

The gentleman seemed to be happy with that answer.

And that is what catechisms do. They teach the faith through a question and answer format. But also because The Small Catechism and The Large Catechism are official teachings of our doctrine and are included in the documents that we call our confessions — they have greatersignificance than any book at the Christian bookstore.


The Confessions

I wish I could say everything was settled back in the Ancient Church, but things went awry in the Middle Ages which led to the Protestant Reformation. Now some other church bodies have their confessions.  Lutherans have The Book of Concord. This contains historical documents that address the doctrines that strayed from what The Bible taught and defended the Lutheran position.  Today, every Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod congregation confesses loyalty to the Book of Concord in their constitutions.  Every pastor pledges that they believe and confess what is taught in these books — because they are faithful representations of what is taught in Scripture.  They are not The Word of God, but they have stood the test of time and been attested to by loyal men of God to describe what is taught in Scripture.

As Lutherans, we strongly believe they are the most accurate representation of what Scripture teaches.  They define what is Lutheran.  Yet there are so many Lutheran churches who have no connection with these works.  If you want a truly Lutheran church, you need to ask what role the Book of Concord has in what they believe.  They should say they hold to Scripture alone (Sola Scriptura) but the Book of Concord is a faithful exposition of Scripture.

Sola Scriptura

Lutherans hold to “Sola Scriptura” – one of the 3 Solas — Sola Scriptura, Sola Gratia, Sola Fide: Scripture Alone, Grace Alone, Faith Alone.  The Creeds and The Book of Concord are symbols of Scripture — faithful expositions of the teachings of Scripture. They do not contradict Scriptural teaching.  Scripture is our only true teacher and true judge.  As Mortimer Adler said, “The person who says he knows what he thinks but cannot express it usually does not know what he thinks.”  There have been times The Church has been called upon to express what Scripture says, to testify, and these Creeds and Confessions still do.  Should they point us to an issue that needs clarity or defense, we know that they point the way to The Bible.

What You Should Know Before You Click That First “So You Want to Be a Freelancer” Pin

freelance - earning money

Last September I started seriously looking at freelance options for working from home. I had four good reasons for it:

  • I am enjoying being home with my daughter.  She’s just started homeschooling high school, and while most of her learning is self-directed, I just want to be there.
  • Our congregation is quite the active bunch, and I don’t want to miss that, either.
  • My chronic illness has made the aspect of being a reliable employee something of a difficulty.
  • I work better project by project, not making a commitment to showing up that never seems to end.

Considering all of these things, I decided that a freelance career was a good route to investigate.

Starting the Freelance Adventure

If your Pinterest feed is like mine, then it has its fair share of pins about “Work from Home,” “Become a Freelance Writer,” “24 Ways to Make Money Blogging,” and “How toMake a Bird Cage with Popsicle Sticks and Sell it on Etsy.”  (No, that one didn’t really exist. I saw it on The Parent Trap and added the “Sell it on Etsy.” If you make six figures doing it, I want my cut).  In truth, they weren’t a bad place to start.  I ruled out all the Etsy ones because the only thing I can do is knit, and I really don’t want to knit for other people.  What I can do is write, blog, and live on social media.  This also means I can type — 70+ words a minute, thank you very much.  Call center jobs really aren’t my forte, either. Once I got past my teenage years and actually married the man who lived halfway across the country, I’d had enough telephoning for a lifetime.

Three things captured my imagination.  Freelance blogging, freelance magazine writing, and the more practical (hopefully) career that kept cropping up:  virtual assisting.

My first approach with virtual assisting was the employee route.  I will write about that some other time.  That definitely was a learning experience.

However, just to warn you, something happens when you start clicking on those links. You start to encounter other people who are trying to make money freelancing by telling you how to make money freelancing.

Down the Freelance Education Industry Rabbitholefreelance learning

It’s not so much that it is shady, as it is prolific. It’s everywhere.

When I was blogging a decade ago, it was relatively simple.  I blogged, my friends blogged, we recommended each other and commented on each other’s posts. We made blogrolls of other blogs we liked. We wrote about what we were interested in, and we gained a small following doing just that.

With any good thing, some entrepreneurial type will start thinking “How can I make a living doing this?” And this person then talked some company into advertising on his blog and it worked . . .  or he wrote a book, or started a newsletter . . . and found that it made even more people pay attention, and he actually made money, someone asked how he did it, therefore marketing principles came into the picture.   Then Google caught a whiff and developed analytics for advertisers and people started developing methods so that Google would notice them.  When Google noticed, even more people started following and more money was made, and METHODS were developed, and TERMS were defined, and SYSTEMS came into play.  And then people realized that they could add another level by teaching you how to make the SYSTEM work for you.  That’s where we are now.

Now It’s About You

I will say this right off the bat.  If working freelance is what you want to do, be open-minded with your attitude.  I’ve encountered dozens of mentors in this arena, and whether I gravitate toward them or not, they are good-hearted and mean well.  They aren’t selling snake oil and they aren’t trying to take you.  Some of the advice is really good.  Often it is basic- but that’s the kind that it is good to hear over and over again.

Yes, it is marketing strategy, and for some of us, that feels sleazy or complicated by virtue of being marketing-related or having to do with money, but you are going to need to know this stuff, and these are people who are willing to teach you, and even when they charge, it is way cheaper than a college degree. But it is super-awkward when the product you are trying to sell is you.

These past few months, I’ve grown so much in areas I didn’t think I’d ever want to touch.  It is important to learn the terms and strategies, if only to get a clear picture of what they entail. After that, you can decide if this is the path you will follow or maybe you can be the genius that figures out a different one.  Seriously, you should know what branding is, what a platform is, and what kind of ways there are to make money, if you actually do want to make money. And I will touch on these in the near future, with definitions that make sense.

As I’ve said, I’ve learned a lot, and ironically (maybe?) with a strategy of spending as little money as possible.  Most of the people who are offering to help are going to give you a certain amount of information to show you that they know what they are talking about so that you will want to hear more.  The prevailing methods are through webinars, a series of emails, or an ebook.

By all means, if you like the blog post that led you to the pop-up email box, get on their email list or go to their webinar.  You will get emails from them and notifications of when they are offering free courses and webinars, and when they will be offering big deal ones that cost money.  And usually the big push comes at the end of the webinar or the email course and you only have so long to respond to get the “special price.” (hint: if you want a day or two to think about it, copy down the link and try going back.  80% chance it will still be there).  This is the practice of just about every person out there who wants to teach you how to do what they did.  And often, they really did accomplish it, so it might just be worth the money . . . if you have it.

There are SO many programs, mentors, and masterclasses out there.  There’s no reason to jump on the first five you see.  I promise. Even if you really liked that person, they will be offering another round later in the year — or a different program entirely.  Being pretty solidly broke has taught me this lesson with a lot less temptation.

Also, if you start clicking on the Pinterest pins, programs from other writing programs will show up in your Facebook feeds, too.  Don’t be annoyed, these can be great resources, too.  In fact, probably the ones I’ve gotten most solid help from were advertised on Facebook rather than Pinterest.

Bringing the Freelancing about Freelancing Stuff Together

I’ve spent the last five months signing up for just about every email list and free download that seemed like it COULD be wortlearning freelancehwhile.  There definitely is a ton of traffic coming through my email account, but I’ve learned SO much.  I am now at the point where I am unsubscribing from several lists and figuring out what voices I really like listening to.

I recommend that you not be stingy on this.  If you don’t have time to read what comes in, either mark it as something to read later or know that tomorrow there will be more coming.  You’re not obligated to read everything, and you will probably get a chance to see the information in another form sometime later.

Don’t worry about keeping track of who you’ve signed up with so you don’t repeat.  That’s their email host’s job. Writers will often have multiple giveaways. If you want more than one of them, sign up again. Their email host will sort it all out automatically, and it isn’t costing them any more to send you a copy of everything.


So…addendum:  Be open minded with your attitude, careful with your wallet. 


In Closing

My motto is always “Do the research, then share it.”

I take that back. My motto is “Don’t die.  Everything else can be fixed.” but the other is really more my method.  Don’t be afraid to jump in, swim about in it, and let your fingers get all pruney.  Then get out and start writing, typing, affiliating, or whatever route you decide to go.  I am just getting started, but it’s not too early to pass it on.

Next — A few recommendations on who to definitely give some of your attention to.



freelancing social media





Blogging, Overthinking, and Us

overthinking and change

I Just Can’t Seem to Get Started

I’m overthinking this and I have been for years.

See, I never meant to have a pastor’s wife blog. At first, the very title was about how scary this pastor’s wife stereotype was and how I just wanted to be Lora.

I vented, I shared.  And you heard me.  You related to me, and you even started asking me questions.  We helped each other.  And we had fun.  I loved that.  Writing something that brought you comfort was a joy to me. Helping seminary wives was an honor.

Then, I’ll be honest, there were a few years where the hurt was too personal to write about — and there were things my husband and I agreed it wasn’t wise to write about.


But Now . . .

So now, I’ve spent a few years trying to start back up, but there’s always been this block.  I’ve known it’s there, but I couldn’t identify what it was.  Whenever I tried, I would end up slamming into it, but I couldn’t name it.  But I’ve figured it out.

It’s you.

Or rather, my love for you.

You see, with the kids almost grown, a chronic illness, and living in a more expensive state, I’d really like to take the leap forward to professional blogging and writing, because I still think there is a lot to say.

I don’t want you to think if there are a couple of ads in the sidebar or a few affiliate links in a post, that I’ve sold you out — because I treasure you, and I want to keep doing the same exact thing — discussing theology, life, and just goofing off.

Blogging has Changed. Boy Howdy

I remember a pastor telling me that when they started their little school, it was “do what you can to make it work.”  When it did work, then there came a time when they had to “grow up” and have policies and ways of doing things.

Blogging has done that, especially if you want to be seen and heard.

There is so much to think aboutSEO

  • SEO formatting (Search Engine Optimization)
  • The right themes
  • There are EXPERTS with all the right formulas for finding your readership (“Tribe” is the word they are using for this. Egad).
  • Branding (which is just a stupid way of saying representing yourself)
  • And social media (Which one(s)? All of them? Focus on one? What time to schedule posts? How many times?)


Part of the reason why these things are important is because I have started a virtual assistant business where I really do need to know all of these things…but it is really enough to drive an overthinking woman absolutely batty.

Here We Go

But I’ve slogged through that Slough of Despond and the weight of all of this on my back has fallen off.  I think I can do this, as long as you know I care.  I’m not trying to become a celebrity, in the Lutheran world or otherwise, but I do want to be a professional. I think I have something to offer you, and I know you have something to offer me.

The other thing that has held me back is the fact that the Lutheran Blogosphere is not exactly the wonderful supportive place it was a decade ago when I got started on all of this blogging stuff.  There has beena  lot of change there, too.  It can be a “sweaty-toothed madman.” (Okay, I just watched Dead Poet’s Society, I’ll admit it.)  I couldn’t move forward until I decided that while I don’t like bullies, I do like civil discourse.  I had to realize that all I simply had to decide was that meanness, should it rear its ugly head, will not be tolerated.  If I’m unsure about whether a commenter is being mean or is just exhibiting “Lutheran personality,” I will drop a warning.

I’ve always been blessed by you all and this blog.  I miss that.  With all of this out of the way, I think we can finally start “for reals.”  I certainly feel more like myself in this post than I have in a long time.

Here we go.

RPW signatiure


A Visit from a Dog

Yesterday as I got out of my car, up my driveway comes this beautiful dog.  She is black with blue merle frosting on her paws and the back of her neck. Her face is like Labrador, but not quite.  She stands back a little, but when I pat my leg, she wags her tail and comes right up to me.  No tags and skinny, but she’s clean.  She explores the garage and then comes back to me.  I go to the door to get Maggie to come watch her.  If she belongs to someone, or if she doesn’t, I don’t want her continuing to roam the neighborhood.  We have a high concentration of Pitbulls in our neighborhood, and also coyotes.

The dog very comfortably comes inside, sees the cat, and approaches her.  Misty very quickly starts growling, and the dog backs away.  She sees the stairs, and starts to go up.  I say “no,” and she backs away.  She sees the cat’s food, once again I say “no,” and she leaves it alone.

I take her outside.  Every glance, every move, she reminds me of Scully, the Catahoula we had before we moved to Papua New Guinea.  She also reminds me of Cindy, the dog that followed my brother home from school when I was five, and she was ours for twelve years.

I tell her to sit.  She does.  As much as I want to believe this dog is a stray and led to our driveway to be our family dog, I sincerely doubt it.

When Jeff comes home, he decides the pound is the best place.  It’s where anyone with common sense goes to look for a missing dog.  Chris comes home tonight, it is the week before Christmas and already insanely busy.  We have no dog food, no crate, and no knowledge about this dog.  It makes sense.  But I don’t like it.

She’s so sweet.  She likes attention, but loves playing fetch even more.  Her object of choice, pine cones.  But maybe someone abandoned her along one of the roads behind our house.  She IS skinny.  I check her for fleas.  She’s clean.  I sniff her forehead.  Shampoo.  This dog has a home.

Throughout our entire marriage, their hasn’t been a full year that we haven’t had a dog, until we got back from Papua New Guinea.  I can’t say I’ve missed the work.  I have missed the companionship.  But this dog has awakened something in me deeper.  This would be the exact kind of dog I would want.  My heart, which was numb for a long time now, aches for a dog.

I text my son a picture of her, letting him know what’s going on in the day.  “Didn’t you guys have this happen last week, too?”  We did.  That dog had tags.  Jeff had pulled out of the garage, and this monstrous dog came up to the car.  We live right next to a trailhead that goes through our housing complex.  It hadn’t happened in the first four months we have lived here, but I can imagine it could happen occasionally.  “You can’t fight fate,” he jokes. “It will catch  up to you in the end.”  Thank you, Mr. Classics major.

We take the dog to the pound.  We have a limited time to get there.  They close at 6 o’clock, and my son’s plane gets in at 6:50.  Google Maps has problems placing the location of the animal shelter and so we pass the road to it, and get stuck on the long highway to Valley Center.  Finally, we turn around and find our way.  A part of me is kind of wishing we miss it, and then we can at least keep the dog overnight.  But no, we get there and they quickly take her in and start us on the paperwork of where she was found, whether she is violent against cats, etc.  We let them know that if the owners don’t claim her, we want her.  They will notify us.  I think I said it at least two more times.

In an instant, puppy is gone, and for the most part, so is my attention, though on the way to the airport, I did look up how much a dog crate would cost.

We come home and get settled.  I sit down at my computer to make a poster to put around the neighborhood, so that if the owners do see, they know to contact us, and we can tell them where she is.  It gives me a little control over the situation. But as I boot up, my husband comes in with a piece of paper.  There is the dog looking back at me, her name is Pepper.  In the picture she has tags.  She must have slipped her collar.  Scully could do that, too.  The owners are worried, she needs medicine.  They’d put the notices on every mailbox.

I call them and let them know that she is at the pound.  They are very, very happy.  I’m glad I brought her in, so they didn’t really lose her.  I text this morning and they have her.  Yes, they’ve been told she looks like a Catahoula, too.  I tell them she acts like one.  The woman I am texting says the dog belongs to her daughter who is visiting from out of state, and they were gone for one hour.  That makes me happy, too.  Obviously if the dog did have a family, it’s where I would want her to be.  Sigh.

Things are back to normal again here.  Not sure whether the ache for a dog will continue or go.  We’ll see.




RPW’s Amazing Roasted Chicken

RPWs Roast Chicken

Over the years, people have sung the praises of my basic roasted chicken, and it is really very simple. It is a great recipe that can apply to all cuts.  I will roast a whole chicken (or two, snuggled side-by-side). I will roast leg quarters (my favorite), and it even works with boneless thighs, you just have to adjust the time.

Of course, quality matters. The better the chicken you buy, such as pastured, organic, the better the meal. But this also does fine with whatever is in the fridge. I have been buying Emeril’s Essence Seasoning Mix from the store for over a decade now. I finally made it myself from the recipe on the website, and it is a whole new level of flavor, but the store-bought has always brought raves, so no one is being deprived if you cut that corner.

RPW’s Amazing Roast Chicken

1               raw chicken (fryer/broiler/cuts)

1/2 cup    oil (generally being Paleo, I like avocado, grapeseed, or olive)

1/8 cup    Emeril’s Essence (or as much as you need, coat generously)

Kosher salt

Carrots, onions, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, garlic, potatoes, squash,                        etc., cut up in chunks.

  1. Set oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Put vegetables in the bottom of a sheet pan or a roasting pan, coat with 1/2 the oil (get your hands in there).  You want them nicely coated so that they don’t burn in the oven. Sprinkle with salt and get your hands in there again to make sure that it’s dispersed well.  Be generous. Salt is good for you.  Your body needs it.

    veggies for RPWs Amazing Chicken
    The veggies serve as a bed for the chicken
  3. If you are using a whole chicken, make sure the cavity is cleaned out. Rinse the chicken off, and pat dry.
  4. Put chicken on top of the bed of vegetables, and use one hand to coat with oil. Be generous, give it a massage. Rub on salt and Essence.  Again, be generous.  The skin will be DELICIOUS.
  5. Put pan in oven and roast for an 1 1/2 hours to 1 3/4 hours.  If you are using boneless thighs, you can take the time down to 45-50 minutes.
  6. Bring out of the oven and let rest with a piece of aluminum foil over it for 10 minutes.
  7. Carve and enjoy.

I do have affiliate links in this recipe, but they are links to products that I use and love.




Lazarus and the Rich Man

The Raising of Lazarus by Duccio di Buoninsegna
The Raising of Lazarus by Duccio di Buoninsegna

Lazarus: Helped by God?

On his way to Jerusalem, Jesus told several parables.  Lazarus and the Rich Man was one of them (Luke 16:19-31).  It is also the only one of His parables where Jesus gives a character a name.  Lazarus, which means “God has helped.”

Our Lord tells the story of a poor beggar, so weak and malnourished that the dogs aren’t even afraid of him.  I don’t know if you have ever seen dogs in a developing country. They are afraid of people, they scavenge for garbage, and they are dirty, and have fleas and parasites. People yell at them and throw rocks at them. People are not generally their friends. Dogs in Judea would’ve been the same. Canaan Dogs. Pariahs. Lazarus was so weak that the dogs had no problem coming up to him and licking his sores.

The rich man, on the other dined sumptuously every day, dressed in the finest robes of purple, and lived exorbitantly. This was before refrigeration. If this man dined sumptuously, he was eating meat. Meat doesn’t last a long time in the era before refrigeration. He was having meat killed and butchered on a regular basis. When we were in Papua New Guinea, if a pig or a goat was killed, there was always more than the family could eat. It had to be shared with the neighbors or it would go bad. Food was not to be wasted, especially protein. Animals weren’t killed very often, but when there was a special occasion, lots of people got a piece.

Blessings and Curses

Lazarus’s friends put him at the rich man’s gate.  The rich man saw Lazarus every day, but never shared anything with him. He never told his servants to give Lazarus a piece of food that was going to go bad anyway, or considered that an old robe might help protect his sores from bugs or dogs. Now many would have believed that the rich man was blessed by God, after all, God blessed him with all those riches. In collective cultures, when a man is especially blessed, the man has the responsibility to look out for those in his community and family who are not. Instead, the rich man built a wall around his house and put up a gate so that his attention could be on his own affairs.

Both men died. Lazarus went to heaven and was comforted at the bosom of Abraham.  The rich man went to hell, because his faith had been in his riches. Even in the afterlife, he saw Lazarus as something that could help him. He thought it perfectly fine for Lazarus to give up his salvation only to put water on his burning tongue, or to journey back to earth to warn the rich man’s relatives about their doom.

And we are left Abraham’s declaration that the Word of God should be enough to lead them to salvation, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.”

What’s In a Name?

Jesus told this story as He was journeying to Jerusalem toward the cross. Luke doesn’t tell us this, but John also tells us about something that happens on the road to Jerusalem. Jesus gets word that Mary and Martha’s brother Lazarus is very sick. They beg him to come help. Jesus stays where He is and continues to teach. Then, He announces to his disciples that it is time to go to Bethany, Lazarus is dead. No one had sent word.  He just knew. He also proclaimed that Lazarus’s fate was not to be death. His death would be used for the glory of God.

The one time that Jesus chose to name a character in one of his stories, it happened to be a man who would die and that Jesus would bring back from the dead. Abraham’s words from the story rang true: “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.”. The Pharisees did not see and believe. Instead, they sought Christ’s death all the more fervently.