All posts by Karah Hawkinson

About Karah Hawkinson

Karah Hawkinson is a wife, mother, and professional historian from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her passion is advocating on behalf of the world's hungry. She uses blogging, publications, and social media to help average Christians make informed decisions that have a positive, lasting impact on the world's hungry. Follow her blog at www.foodshelffriday.com

Moments

True confession time: I don’t like Christmas. I know that’s probably an unpopular thing to say, and it’s a strange thing to bring up in the middle of April, but stick with me for a minute. I’m not totally Scrooge; I get the magic of the season. I just get so overwhelmed with all the busyness, the pressure of expectations, and the expenses that I’m ready to throw the baby out with the bathwater, as the saying goes.

A few years ago, my wise husband suggested that I change my perspective, and start looking for moments of joy in all the chaos. I think of them as “moments of Christmas,” and it’s made a world of difference for me. I find moments of Christmas when the congregation sings the traditional carols, when the candles are lit on Christmas Eve, and when I see little girls twirling in their Christmas dresses. I find moments sitting quietly beside my lit Christmas tree, and when I put up my beloved nativity set.

This Covid-19 quarantine period is the same way. It’s easy to get stressed out and overwhelmed by the statistics, the sickness, the chaos of distance learning, and the economic devastation. Those things are very real and have to be considered, but I want to encourage you to not lose your mind over them. Though it may not feel natural, I want you to look for moments of joy in the chaos, and find things you can be thankful for.

  • My son came home from college early, and I get to hear him play cello again.
  • I get to wear PJs. A Lot.
  • My family has been holding weekly Zoom meetings from our homes across the country, and we’ve started playing games together.
  • Our dog is loving all the cuddles, walks, and attention.
  • The sun is shining, and we pulled our ’97 Mustang project-toy out of storage (and had time to replace the headlights).
  • People are covering their windows with hearts, and kids are out coloring the walk with chalk drawings.
  • We rediscovered an old online game we used to play when Jacob was little – when it was hard to get a sitter and go out – and we started playing together again.
  • We have time to watch movies, clean out closets, read books, and play board games.

I’ve been snapping pictures of the small moments. Some day when quarantine is just a memory, I’ll have my pictures of dinners, Zoom meetings, and heart windows to remember that this time wasn’t a total loss. Hopefully it will remind me that we found a way to hold church (and even take communion on Good Friday), that neighbors stepped up for one another, and that we learned to appreciate the essential occupations like cashiers and trash collectors who often get taken for granted. I hope you too can find moments of joy in spite of the chaos!

Documentary Film Review: Minimalism

It’s hard to know what to write about right now. With the ongoing Coronavirus lockdown and subsequent humanitarian and economical crises, I just don’t know what the world is going to look like when this ends. That’s why I decided to sit down and watch the documentary called Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things.

I’m not a minimalist. I mean, I try not to have too much “stuff,” and I find tiny houses fascinating, but I like the warmth and color that accessories bring into my life. I live in an environment of weather extremes, so we pretty much need two wardrobes and a few waterproof things for the in-between. I thought that if nothing else, I would enjoy the calm of a documentary about minimalism, and maybe get a few good tips for how I can get rid of more stuff.

The movie surprised me. I mean, how complicated can a movie about minimalism be? It’s minimalism… But it was really quite warm and relaxed. The main focus of the film is a duo that calls themselves The Minimalists (Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn). They are a pair of lifelong best friends who went from striving and unsatisfied to minimalists, and it changed their life for the better. They wrote a book about it called Everything That Remains, and in the film they’re on tour, one suitcase each in an old car, promoting their book.

Along the way, the film crew interviews other self-proclaimed minimalists, and they talk about things like the challenges of a minimalist lifestyle with children, the calming effects of meditation, tiny houses, and the effects of advertising on children.

Some of the people featured in the documentary are more strict adherents to the philosophy of minimalism, while others just lead a simplified version of what most of us consider normal. One of the guys described minimalism as a continuum, and explained that we all fall somewhere on that spectrum and have to find balance and compromise with the people we live with.

That balance was a refreshing change from the “slash and burn” way I’ve heard minimalists speak in the past. They also said that if something makes you happy, don’t get rid of it. Surround yourself with things you love – just get rid of the excessive rest of it, and don’t get caught up in striving for more stuff because you think it will make you happy. Stuff won’t make you happy.

Aside from not being fulfilling, the quest for more stuff drives humanitarian and environmental disasters. Our “need” for the latest and greatest leads manufacturers to cut costs, outsourcing jobs to countries that don’t have labor standards and creating unsafe work environments for people – including young children – who aren’t paid a viable wage. Making fewer and more deliberate choices in our consumption allows us to do more good with our spending rather than making more waste.

Minimalism is just over an hour long, and it available on Netflix. It was made in 2016 by director Matt D’Avella.

While I’m not about to get a dumpster and toss out all my stuff (that just feels wasteful…), the movie did inspire me to reconsider my shopping habits and the things I strive for. Plus, I just really enjoyed a relaxed hour of clean and organized spaces…

He is Risen!

I can’t leave the story half-finished! Jesus died for us, but he defeated sin and death – He is Risen!

Let’s pick up the story in Mark 16:

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”

But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”

Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.

Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either.

Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.

He is Risen! Happy Easter!

Good Friday

Nothing is normal right now as we all sit in quarantine. Tonight I attended Good Friday service online, and took communion in my living room with my family. The good news is that the Easter practice may change, the Easter story never will. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. As I’ve done in years past, I’d like to use my blog post this week just to share with you the story of Christ’s death, from Mark chapters 14 and 15.

On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”

So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 

He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.” 

The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover. 

When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. 

While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.” 

They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely you don’t mean me?” 

“It is one of the Twelve,” he replied, “one who dips bread into the bowl with me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” 

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.” 

Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it. “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” 

When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

“You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written: “ ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” 

Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.” 

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.” 

But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.

They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 

He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” 

Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba,Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” 

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 

Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. 

When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him. 

Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 

Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” 

Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. 

The men seized Jesus and arrested him. Then one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. 

“Am I leading a rebellion,” said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.” 

Then everyone deserted him and fled. 

A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.

They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of the law came together. 

Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire. The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree. 

Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands.’ ” Yet even then their testimony did not agree. 

Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 

But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” 

“I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 

The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” They all condemned him as worthy of death. 

Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him.

While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him. “You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she said.

But he denied it. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said, and went out into the entryway. 

When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, “This fellow is one of them.” 

Again he denied it. After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” 

He began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.” Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.” And he broke down and wept.

Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.

“Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate.

“You have said so,” Jesus replied.

The chief priests accused him of many things. So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.”

But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.

Now it was the custom at the festival to release a prisoner whom the people requested. A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did.

“Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, knowing it was out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him.

But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead.

“What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them.

“Crucify him!” they shouted.

“Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.

But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.

A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get. It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. The written notice of the charge against him read: THE KING OF THE JEWS.

They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself !”

In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”

Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.

With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome. In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.

It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body.

Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph.

So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.

Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid.

It looks dark now, but don’t worry – Sunday is coming!

Scratch Cooking

If you’re not sure what day it is, let me be the first to say TGIF! I know, I know, one day is the same as another in quarantine. Here in Minnesota our “shelter at home” rule kicks in tonight.

As we face shortages at the store, and maybe because we have time on our hands, more and more people are turning to scratch cooking. So I thought this week I’d share with you some of my favorite made-from-scratch options.

Baked Beans
1 package dry navy beans, covered in water and soaked overnight
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup ketchup or tomato sauce
onions and/or bacon as desired
12 oz tomato juice

Soak beans overnight. In the morning, cook beans and water with a pinch of baking soda on the stovetop for 15 minutes. Rinse and drain.

Place drained beans in a slow cooker, and add the other ingredients. Cook on high at least 6 hours, or low for at least 10. Add water as needed to keep moist.

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Soft White Sandwich Bread (based off a recipe from eHow) – Makes 2 loaves

2 cups warm water (about 110 degrees)
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp dry, active yeast
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup oil
6 cups flour (bread flour is best, but I’ve also made it with all-purpose, whole-wheat pastry flour, or a mixture of half whole wheat and half white flour)

Put the water in your mixer’s bowl and add the sugar and yeast. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, then let sit for about ten minutes until there’s a bubbly foam on top of the liquid.

Add the salt and oil to the yeast mixture, then slowly stir in the flour, one cup at a time. When the dough is well-blended, knead it for a few minutes, then place it in a greased bowl and cover with a clean cloth. Allow the dough to rest and rise for about an hour, or until it doubles in size.

Punch down the risen dough, knead for a few minutes, and divide the dough into two portions. Form each into a loaf, and place in greased loaf pans. Cover loaves with clean cloths, and allow to rest and rise for another 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake loaves, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

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Beer Bread (Missing something for sandwich bread? Maybe you have what you need to make beer bread)

3 cups flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 can beer (12 oz)

Preheat oven to 420 degrees. Quickly mix all ingredients together, and spoon into a greased loaf pan. Top with shredded cheese if desired. Bake for 40-60 minutes, depending on the loaf size.

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Pancakes from Scratch

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. white sugar
1 1/4 cups milk
1 egg
3 Tbsp. melted butter

Sift together dry ingredients and place in a bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in milk, egg, and melted butter. Mix until smooth. Scoop onto a heated griddle. Turn to cook both sides until golden.

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Scalloped Potatoes

8 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
4 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour
1 1/2 cups milk, gently warmed

Melt butter. Add milk and flour. Stir and cook until thick. Add potatoes and pour into a greased baking dish. You can add cheese, ham, bacon, diced onions, etc. Bake at 350 for one hour.

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I hope this is a valuable resource for you! Stay well!