Friday, March 29, 2013

The Passover... Why We Celebrate...

I did not grow up celebrating Passover, so this is a relatively new idea for our family. I have read about the Passover numerous times over my life, but I never thought about the rich symbolism, meaning, and memories celebrating it would bring to our family. I never thought about how celebrating the Passover would really make the scriptures come alive... both for our children, and for us.  (Gee, I wonder if that is what God had in mind when He ordained the feast in the first place.....)

We love traditions. We love thinking back on annual gatherings with fondness and looking forward to the next event with anticipation. We try to recreate our own childhood events for our children so that they have similar memories (just think of your Christmas traditions... we usually celebrate the same way with our kids as we celebrated when we were kids). This builds a sense of family heritage. And it is awesome.  But what about our spiritual heritage? Are we intentionally building family traditions focusing our attention God-ward?

Focusing on the Biblical feasts allows us to concentrate on what the Lord has done for us without the distractions of our commercially driven culture. I mean, I don't go to Wal-Mart and get bombarded by the "Passover Bunny", the "Shavouth Claus", or the "Omer Fairy". At least in this part of the Kansas, the rich meanings of the Biblical feasts have not been raped by retail predators trying to make a buck off of a holiday.

So why can't we just incorporate our family's spiritual heritage into one of the holidays that we already celebrate? Well, you can. And I hope you do. But it didn't work so well for us. Nearly every major holiday (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter) we are gathered together with extended family from both sides. Other than the prayer before the meal, there is very little talking about the Lord, or to the Lord. We have tried to intentionally steer the conversation towards spiritual matters and personal stories of God's deliverance... but it was not to be. We have some strong believers in our extended family, but there are others who are not interested in such conversations. So as much as we love and adore our relatives and spending holidays with them, these events weren't creating a heritage of spiritual traditions that we feel are important for our children. Enter in.... Passover.

Exodus 12:14 tells us that God instituted the Passover feast to be done as a memorial. A memorial of what? Of His deliverance of His people from the bondage of slavery in Egypt. He provided protection to them (by the blood of a lamb) from the angel of death. Each family had to make sure they were under the protection of the blood of the innocent lamb by applying the blood to their doorposts. The Passover was to be celebrated each year with their children. Exodus 12:24 says, "And you shall observe this event as an ordinance for you and your children forever". It was a means of making sure your children (and each generation) would remember what the Lord has done for His people. God wants us to share about His faithfulness with our children. We are not to forget what He has done and what He continues to do. During trials, it is great comfort to draw on His past and present steadfast love and faithfulness! But I can't draw on this if I don't know the history of His character.

But why single out a special event to share this? Shouldn't this be done in our everyday lives? Well, yes.... and yes! Absolutely, we need to be teaching about God's character and deliverance each day: Deut. 6:4-9. But isn't it exciting to look forward to a special day? A day where we do things a bit differently than normal days? A day to dress up, bring out the fine china, cook a special meal, and plan extra special activities? My kids have been anticipating this event all year! They remember much of the symbolism of the Seder plate and matzo from the previous year's celebration. They are excited to search for pieces of leavened bread by candle light (symbolizing searching for the sin in our lives), to drink from the 4 cups, to wait in anticipation of Elijah to come, to taste the parsley dipped in salt water (symbolizing God bringing His people forth from bondage and crossing the Red Sea.... but also the bringing us forth from the bondage of sin), etc... This isn't meant to be an exegesis of the symbolic nature of the Passover, so I won't talk about every detail... but you get the picture. But we also remember, that about 2000ish years ago, during the Passover feast, our Messiah came and was sacrificed as the innocent lamb of God. He broke us out of the bondage of OUR sin... if we have come to faith in Him. He drank the bitter cup of God's wrath and came out victorious over death and the grave. This is worth remembering... it is worth remembering in a symbolic way.

I recommend this book if you are interested in finding out how to celebrate the various Biblical feasts with your family. Celebrating Biblical Feasts does a great job explaining the symbolism and telling you how to participate in these exciting feasts. Are we 100% kosher in our celebrating? No, we are not... but you can be if you want to. Our position has been that we want to teach principles and concepts.... not regulations.

I hope that you take time this weekend to truely meditate on what was at stake at Calvary. To examine yourself to see if you are truly in the faith, and to worship our risen Lord. May you have a blessed Passover (which was last Tuesday) and Resurrection day.  He is risen.... He is risen indeed!

Have you celebrated Passover or any of the other Biblical feasts? What is your favorite part?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Countertops: Cubic Zircon or Diamond?????

I love to cook. I love to bake. And it is a good thing, because I spend a large part of every day cooking for our family. So in gutting, redoing, and adding on to an old farmhouse that will eventually be our home, I have put many hours of research and thought into the kitchen layout. I have to admit, at first I didn't know if it was even possible for the existing kitchen to transform into something that would be functional for our family. I was pretty skeptical. But it really has been fun seeing it all come together. But then came the decision of what to use for countertops. At one time I thought it would be neat to someday have concrete slab countertops. But I have never met anyone who had them or anyone who knew anything about them... so I basically dismissed that notion. Granite or marble was completely out of the question because I'm too frugal to even consider it. So we decided that we would do laminate even though I wasn't exactly thrilled about that option. However, not knowing any better, I chose and bought my sink: a beautiful, large, double basin apron front farmhouse sink.... which also happened to be an undermount sink. I didn't know this was a problem. My contractor said something like, "I'm gonna have to think about this one...". Come to find out... I guess you can't use an undermount sink with laminate countertops because of the potential of getting water into the laminate seams and thus ruining the countertop.  But my position is always: where there is a will, there is a way! So that got me looking back into countertop options. I began to wonder about concrete again, so I did a google search about concrete countertops in Salina, Kansas.  The search introduced me to a "new" product which became the answer to my countertop problems.  The product is iCOAT. It is NOT a concrete slab. Rather, it is done by skimming a thin coat of a special concrete over an existing countertop (you can do it right over laminate). After the concrete is troweled on, then it is colored to whatever you want! It can take on the look of granite, marble, concrete, metallic paint.... whatever. Then, it is sealed with a 2 part epoxy that is heat resistant up to 500 degrees and never needs maintenance! It sounded too good to be true, so I called the guy who does it and I got to see some sample boards and even visit a client of his to see the finished product. We loved what we saw and decided that it was what we wanted to do.  The other cool thing about it is the price: $35ish/sq. foot.... labor included!  So for the price of good laminate, you get a product that is even better... with the high end look of granite, marble, quartz, or solid surface! Kind of like buying the cubic zircon, but letting everyone else think that it is a diamond!

Being a researcher, I looked for reviews of the product.... but I could not find any. So I had to go on the guy's word and the testimony of his clients who had their countertops done 3 years ago. This is a great option if you want to give your kitchen a facelift without tearing out your countertops.... it goes right on the top of the existing laminate. And unlike concrete slabs or granite, you don't have to reinforce your cabinets to hold the weight of it.  In our case, there were no existing countertops to coat with the concrete. So we had countertops built out of MDF and then had them coated.

So what are the drawbacks of this product? So far, the only drawback is the "curing out" time of the epoxy. Once the epoxy is put on, you can't touch it for 24 hours. After that initial time, you can touch it, but can't put anything on them for an extended amount of time for 2 weeks. In other words, you can wash dishes and set them briefly on the countertop, but you wouldn't want to let them set there overnight. After that 2 weeks, you can use them as you normally would. (I probably will give it a month before I set a crock pot on them for overnight oatmeal).

I'm posting the before and after pictures of my kitchen (which is still a work in progress). Please note that the pictures do NOT do it justice!!!!

These first 3 photos are the "BEFORE" pictures which show the MDF countertop.

Note my undermount sink which led me to search out other countertop options!!! I actually could have mounted the sink higher so that it was either level with the countertop, or even raised above it some... but since finding out about the iCOAT, I was able to leave it as an undermount. (Note that the 5 gallon bucket in the second picture is not a permanent fixture in my kitchen...!)


This is the butler's pantry. It used to be a bathroom. The upper cabinet was sitting in an upstairs bedroom in the house. I love reusing and re-purposing old stuff!!!

And these are the after photos. Again, they do NOT do it justice at all!

The glare is from the kitchen lights.

 The other cool thing about iCOAT is that you can get your perfect, custom color! I'm sure that if we had gone with granite, we wouldn't have gotten this perfect of a color/design!

The epoxy is very shiny... like glass. But you can buff it down if you want.

 Is it the "real" thing? Or not???? You would never be able to tell! The other great thing is that it really has a lot of "depth" to it. Who would have thought that it is only about 1/8ish inch thick? It looks like you can look into it forever!!!!!
So if you are wanting to update your kitchen or are in the market for countertops, I would HIGHLY recommend James from Blueline Construction in Salina, Kansas. He did a great job and was awesome to work with! His email is: and his phone number is 785-643-0799.