Quips and Quotes
"We do not earn or merit anything by taking refuge in God. Hiding in something makes no contribution to the hiding place. All it does is show that we regard ourselves as helpless and the hiding place as a place of rescue." John Piper

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Word-in-My-Heart-Wednesday - James 1:9-10

But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position; and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. James 1:9-10

Starting today, I will changing the memory verse more often. The verses I will be posting will all be from the book of James. That is because I am currently leading, along with two dear sisters, Vilma and Mary, a women's study on the book of James. The book, With the Master in the School of Tested Faith by Susan J. Heck, assigns memory verses with each chapter. However, there are many times when we do not meet every week of the month, so the posts will be changed accordingly. (If you do not know the details of Word-in-My-Heart-Wednesday please go here.)

Now, let's take a look at our verse for this week. This short commentary is from The Teacher's Commentary:

Our awareness of our identity (James 1:9-11):
Human beings tend to evaluate themselves by various standards. One of the most common has to do with status and income. James called on those who are poor and once angry about their poverty, to throw off the old attitude and realize that, in this new relationship with God, they have been raised to riches. And the wealthy, once confident in their pride, are to remember their spiritual poverty. The old symbols of status, like this present life itself, are as perishable as grass.
This is so true. And may I add that the word for glory in verses nine and ten is rejoice. Being of means and being without are both occasions for rejoicing, for our joy is in God, not in our circumstances.

Paul said in Philippians 4:4, "Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, rejoice!" He knew for he had gone without and had also experienced times of plenty. He said in the same chapter, "...I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:11-13)

Circumstances change as James indicates when he says that man's physical life is "as perishable as the grass". But God is immutable. He never changes and there is great reason to rejoice that He has lifted us out of our earthly circumstances to know and love and be loved by Him. He will never leave us, though our wealth may, or we may die in the midst of the pursuit of it. We are certainly seeing the fickleness of wealth right now in our country with the current financial crisis. Many have lost everything financially speaking. It is good then, not to be dependent upon finances, but rather to trust God for our todays and tomorrows and especially for eternity.

And if we have nothing, we have Christ who has everything! He has promised to meet our needs. Though my husband and I earn little income at present, we know that God will supply what we need. We have never gone hungry. It is futile to worry because it will produce nothing but a stomach ache. Rather, may we tell our Heavenly Father our concerns. He can do something about it. And our experience has always been that He feeds us. We have no stomach ache either from worry or lack of food because our Father provides when the paycheck does not.

Habakkuk said it well when he said (Habakkuk 3:17-18), "Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the Lord. I will rejoice in the God of my salvation."

Both riches and poverty can be occasions to abandon God. Either situation is a test of our faith. Proverbs 30:8-9 says, "Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion, that I not be full and deny You and say, "Who is the Lord ?" Or that I not be in want and steal, and profane the name of my God." Until we realize that true riches are in Christ, we will be too caught up in our poverty or wealth to honor the God who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.

It matters not what lot we have in this life. All are occasions for rejoicing when we know Christ. We can take neither our poverty nor our riches into the gates of heaven. And here on earth no power or recession, no thug, moth or rust can steal away the inheritance we have in our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ! We are truly wealthy in Him.

Rejoice in the Lord, dear ones! Rejoice in the Lord! He never changes and His mercies are new every morning. He is our indescribable, unfathomable treasure! He is our wealth! Count on Him, rather than counting your money or lack of it.

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Tidy Tip Tuesday - Vanilla & Clove Air Freshener Spray

Here is a recipe for air freshener that you might like:

Better, Cheaper, Safer
Vanilla and Clove Air Freshener Spray

1 cup distilled water
1 cup household vinegar
(or if you do not want the vinegar smell use 1/2 cup vodka plus 1/2 cup more distilled water)
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
6 drops of grapefruit seed extract (GSE - this is optional, but it does add more disinfecting power to the spray)
spray bottle

Bring water, vinegar and cloves to a boil and simmer over medium heat for two minutes. (If using vodka and water, boil only the water with cloves for two minutes, adding vodka, vanilla and grapefruit seed extract after boiled mixture has cooled.) Remove from heat and allow to cool. Strain cloves, add vanilla and grapefruit seed extract, then pour liquid into spray bottle, shake and use as needed. Note: You can increase/decrease the vanilla and clove amounts to your preference.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tidy Tip Tuesday - Produce, Butter and Lemons (Oh my!)

Obviously, I didn't get Tuesday's tidy tip posted on this past Tuesday. I think I had a "senior moment". So, I will attempt to compensate for the missed post by offering more than one tidy tip today.

Produce Wash: Vegetable sprays are expensive, but there are several cheap, and effective ways to clean produce. Baking soda: To remove ordinary dirt and pesticide residue, wet the fruit - an apple for instance - with water, then sprinkle on some baking soda, rubbing to clean. Rinse with clear water. Vinegar: To remove harmful pathogens, either spray with full strength white vinegar and rinse, or soak produce in a bowl of water plus one cup white vinegar. (This is what I did on our trips to Uganda and we never had a problem with produce that would otherwise have been a problem, such as lettuce.)

To soften butter:
When you need to soften butter in a hurry, grate the solid cube on the largest holes of a cheese grater. If you need melted butter, place the grated butter in a small saucepan on very low heat. It melts much faster this way.

Squeezing lemons:
My sister-in-law from Italy - a phenomenal cook - showed me this trick. For a fast way to juice lemons without having to clean a juicer, first roll the lemon (or lime) on the cutting board, applying pressure to soften it. Cut the lemon in half. With a fork, poke lots of holes in the lemon half and then squeeze both sides of the half together (towards the fork) twisting the fork every which way. Lots of juice!

Have a great day and send me some of your tips!

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Word-in-My-Heart-Wednesday - James 1:5

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5

What a great promise! Since we have already memorized James 1:2-4, why not continue on with the next verse? I don't know about you, but I seem to need wisdom from above on a day to day basis. Isn't it good to know that God does not upbraid us when we go to Him for wisdom? He gives to us generously. He is good.

As a child, I can remember asking my kindergarten teacher for help. She had handed me a big broom and told me to sweep the floor. I just couldn't seem to get a "handle" on holding that big broom so I asked her for help. The reply came, "What? Do you mean to tell me that you do not know how to use a broom at your age? So now I have to take out time to show you?"

Wow! I cannot tell you how humiliated, embarrassed, stupid and inadequate that made me feel as a little girl. It wasn't that I didn't want to help - I really did. That's why I asked. After she berated me so in front of all the other children, I never asked her again for help. In fact, her reaction to my request for help set for me the tone I had with all my other teachers for the majority of my school years. I was terrified to ask any of them for help from that time on. As a result, after I missed weeks of second grade because of rheumatic fever, I fell behind and never caught up because I wasn't about to ask for help. My grades suffered because of it.

It wasn't until I was a junior in high school that I had a teacher that changed my mindset. Mr. Apple, my English teacher, was so accommodating. He went out of his way to build confidence in his students. I will always remember how he greeted me in the hallway whenever we met, "Good morning, Sharon! How is my favorite student today?" Now you know (and I knew even at the time) that Mr. Apple greeted all of his students that way. But I still felt so special, as if I really was his favorite. We all did, even the tough trouble-making boys that attended his class. He knew when I needed help and did not hesitate to guide and teach me.

The reason I love writing today is because two people so positively influenced me at that time of my life. Mr. Apple, of course, taught me the mechanics of writing and built great confidence in me. My dad also, at this time, greatly encouraged me. I wanted to drop out of Mr. Apple's class in the first few weeks because I saw he was different and knew that he would hold me accountable. Having felt so stupid since kindergarten, that really frightened me! But my dad would not give me permission to transfer to a different class. He kept telling me that I could and would do the work. He was right!

Mr. Apple was my teacher in senior English also and I was thrilled to have him in my life for another year. Looking back now, it is clear why I thrived so in his classes. He gave generously of himself without reproach. When I asked for help he was attentive, happy that I asked, and the wisdom that he imparted, whether that was for English mechanics or for maintaining a disciplined homework schedule, was given from a heart of liberality and kindness.

Oh, that we would realize that God's giving is so much bigger than even the best that any kind human being can offer. He will never reprimand us for our asking of Him. He gives of Himself when He gives us wisdom. And He will give it generously from His great heart of beneficence and love. Let us ask and ask and ask again. How delighted He is to give and how our adoration for Him intensifies when we see it!

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Woman is Helper - Three Facets of the Woman's Role as Helper

Part 1 - Aiding by Completing Godly Male Leadership

The following is a series on Biblical womanhood that I have taught both here in the states and abroad. It is universal because it is the Biblical model of the helper role and therefore applies to Christian women the world over. It will be delivered in bite-sized pieces in the following weeks. I pray that you will be encouraged as you read.

Whether you are married or unmarried, as a woman you are "helper" to godly male leadership. That might translate into being a helpmeet for your husband or, if you are not married, to church leadership.

As a helper you will basically fulfill your role in three specific ways. God has designed us, as women with distinct inclinations. Women are endowed by their Creator with specific characteristics that enable them to function as God intended when He first created woman.

First of all I want to state what those three characteristics or aspects are and then I will define and elaborate on each one throughout the coming weeks:
Aspect 1. As helper to male leadership, woman is an aide or supporter
A.) As an aide woman completes godly male leadership
B.) As an aide woman complements godly male leadership
C.) As an aide woman submits to godly male leadership

Aspect 2. As helper to male leadership, woman is a keeper in the home.
Aspect 3. As helper to male leadership, woman is a nurturer of life.

Another way to say this is 1) In her aide to her husband and/or to the church woman is helper to man; 2) In her cultivation of the home woman is helper to man; and 3) In her nurturing of others, woman is helper to man. (Each one of these three aspects operates in several ways, as you will see further along in this post.)

These are the three main aspects of the woman as helper, whether she is married or single. The man’s God-given purpose is different and he does not concentrate on these facets of life, though he helps and cultivates home and nurtures life also. But he is not driven to do these things as his calling. His calling from God is to lead by protecting, providing and sacrificially loving. These are the areas in which he specializes, and strives for. Woman generally is directed toward helping man by specializing in aiding him, keeping the home and nurturing life.

The first way a woman carries out her role as helper is to serve as an aide or supporter to her husband if she is married, and as an aide or supporter to the church regardless of her marital status. We see this because the same order that God created in marriage, He also created for the church – men lead and women help, including single women. However, single women can be undivided in their service to the church (1 Corinthians 7).

Now it may sound redundant for me to say that women carry out their helper role by being an aide or supporter. That may sound like the same thing to you, but as this is clarified, hopefully, you will see how it is accurate to classify this aspect of the helper role that way.

In this post, we will begin with the helper's aide to her husband and/or to the church.

As an aide, woman supports godly male leadership in three ways. (Remember, there are the three aspects already mentioned - aiding, keeping the home and nurturing life - and each aspect operates in several ways.) The three ways a woman supports godly male leadership as an aide are as follows: 1) she completes male leadership, 2) she complements male leadership, and 3) she submits to male leadership. This is how she aides male leadership. It is true in the home with her husband, if she is married, and in the church also. A woman, whether married or single, carries out this role in the church as she submits to the elders, compliments their leadership and helps to complete the work there.

In this post we will look at the helper's aide to male leadership in completing him; in the next two posts we will look at the helper's aide to male leadership through complementing (second post) and submitting (third post).

But first, let's understand what it means to be an aide. Here is an analogy:

An Analogy of an Aide – You are a Helping Hand

It always helps me to use an analogy when trying to grasp the meaning of a spiritual truth. In better understanding the definition and function of an aide or supporter the analogy of a “helping hand” came to my mind. As an aide we could say that woman is man’s “helping hand”. Please remember this analogy. It could transform the way you relate to male leadership. When I compare woman as aide to a helping hand, I think of how the left hand aides the right hand and how it completes, compliments and submits to it.

Aiding by Completing Male Leadership

My right hand by itself is not complete. It is never as efficient and useful alone as when my left helping hand is assisting. Together, the two hands are one in function and purpose. They are a complete set. They are each other’s counterpart.

Woman completes man in all ways – spiritually, physically, emotionally and intellectually. Spiritually, she completes him by filling what is lacking in his ability to image God alone. I will get back to this. Physically, she completes him through helping him bear children for God’s glory, by meeting his physical need for intimacy, and by caring for his need for physical nourishment. Emotionally, she completes him by offering a softer side to humanity, a tenderness and sensitivity that he does not characteristically possess. This comes out in her passion to nurture people. Intellectually, she completes him by her focus to detail, which balances his bottom-line orientation. One way this is manifested is through her attention to the home, intelligently cultivating the place where he lives, looking well to her household and all the details of it.

Concerning woman completing man, God said during the creation week, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Once Adam had named the animals and observed that each one had its particular counterpart, something Adam himself did not have, he came to know personally that he was incomplete. He was alone and he felt it for the first time.

Spiritually, Adam was only half of the expression of God and half of what God's intended function for mankind was on the earth, like a right hand represents only half of the body’s ability to function with the upper appendages. Adam bore God’s image, but only part of it. There was another side of God that would be expressed through Eve’s personhood and function. Together they would bear His image completely. Together they would carry out God’s mandate to rule the earth.

Now what I am not saying here is that every man or woman must be married to be complete. Obviously, the apostle Paul did not believe that for he made it clear that it was his preference to remain single. Even though Paul preferred singleness for himself, God still used women, like Phoebe and Prisca, to help Paul (Romans 16:1-4). He was not himself independent of women aiding him with his work in the early church.

What I am saying is that in the larger scope of mankind bearing God’s image and functioning in creation, both male and female are necessary. The human race cannot even perpetuate without both. And without the softer side of femininity and woman's diverse function the world cannot accurately image God or carry out His mandate.

Woman bears God’s image in many ways, different than man. God created her with unique attributes that are also part of His character – nurturing for example. She represents Him in this way to her children and others that she attends to in loving ways.

God’s nurturing side is seen in Scripture through the care He bestows on His children. Isaiah 49:15 says, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you.” And in Isaiah 66:13 we hear the Lord saying to Israel, "As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you…” In the New Testament we are familiar with Paul’s instruction when he tells fathers to bring up their children in the “nurture” and admonition of the Lord.

God fashioned Eve from Adam’s bone and flesh and she completed him. He was thrilled to have what had so obviously been missing from his life. He no longer felt alone and now had new motivation and momentum to be God’s agent on earth. Together they would rule the earth, and together they would bear God’s complete image. Just as my left hand completes my right hand, so woman completes man.

William Shakespeare wrote concerning man and woman completing one another:
He is half part of a blessed man, left to be finished by such a she; and she a fair divided excellence, whose fullness of perfection lies in him.
In the next Woman is Helper post, we will explore how woman aides man by complementing him in his leadership role.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Real Food Recipes - Mock Hot Chocolate

This recipe for mock hot chocolate is absolutely yummy! Give it a try for a very pleasant surprise.

1 cup whole pasteurized cream top milk (never homogenized or ultra-pasteurized)
1 tablespoon carob powder (I use Chatfield's, which I got at Whole Foods Market)
1 tablespoon organic pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions: Combine milk, carob powder, maple syrup and vanilla in a small saucepan. Heat until hot, but do not boil. Pour into cup and enjoy! (Some of the carob powder will settle at the bottom of the cup so you may want to discard the last mouthful.)

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tidy Tip Tuesday - Gum and Wax Removal

To get gum out of a child's hair, work peanut butter into the gum until the gum becomes grainy and falls out as you work with it.

For wax removal from carpeting, clothing or other fabric, first scrape and lift out as much wax as possible. Next, cut open a paper bag and lay it over the wax residue. Now press over the bag with a warm iron. The bag will absorb the wax as it melts. Rotate to a clean place on the bag and continue to iron over the wax until you have removed as much as possible. If there is some remaining wax that will not come out, cover the stain with baking soda sprinkled over and it let set overnight. In the morning vacuum up the baking soda which will have absorbed the last of the wax.

Have a great day!

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Word-in-My-Heart-Wednesday - Isaiah 46:3b-4

"You who have been borne by Me from birth and have been carried from the womb; even to your old age I will be the same, and even to your graying years I will bear you! I have done it, and I will carry you; and I will bear you and I will deliver you." Isaiah 46:3b-4

After turning 59 on Tuesday, I decided to memorize this verse and post it for Word-in-My-Heart-Wednesday. I looked it up in my study Bible and found the following note penciled in on the margin:
God gives me true freedom from my burdens. He bears me, He carries me, He bore my sins on Calvary. He has borne me through all my years, through all my trials! I am carried by my Father. He carries those who love and worship Him. He carries them from the womb to the tomb and then into glory, where they finally see Him face to face - the One who has done it all and who deserves all the praise. Thank You, most kind Heavenly Father!
Take time to commit this verse to memory (if you are not familiar with Word-in-My-Heart-Wednesday, please check it out by clicking here). Ask God to bring it to your mind when you are preoccupied with your burdens. You will be most blessed when He faithfully answers your prayer.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

My Second Childhood Officially Begins

Today I turned 59, but I think I am regressing back and have, as of today, officially begun my second childhood. This may get confusing, but just keep reading and in the end it will all come clear.

In the years before my dad went to be with the Lord in May of 2003, he was a prolific writer, recounting much of his own life. He also wrote specifically about each one of his children. The following is a short piece he wrote about me:
As Sharon grew older and began dressing herself, particularly putting on her coat, we realized that she had a problem. We really noticed it after we had taken some pictures of her and they were developed. On every picture in which she was wearing a coat, we noticed that the top button was not buttoned in the corresponding buttonhole, but was buttoned into the second buttonhole, leaving Sharon looking kind of lopsided. She persisted in doing this until I thought, "Maybe my wife doesn't like her little girl." You know, the 'Smother's Brothers' influence. I wondered if perhaps her mother was sewing the top buttonhole closed. But after close examination, I found this was not the case at all. Thankfully, Sharon eventually learned to button her clothes correctly. I have promised not to tell how old she was when she learned how to do it right.
So now that you've been let in on my shortcomings as a small child, I'm sure you wouldn't mind seeing some of those photos for yourself. Here are three. In the first two, my coat is not buttoned, but it doesn't matter. You can see how I started out all wrong even with the coat unbuttoned. This has been a family joke for as long as I can remember. My sister is all squared away, nice and neat; my little brother is all orderly, but I am just like my dad said - lopsided and somewhat disheveled.

Guess which one is me in this photo.

And in this one also.

In this photo, it seems that my coat may be buttoned right,
but it doesn't seem to help the disheveled look, does it?

Now let me tell you about today. My sister, my mom and I went out to eat lunch. After we had our fill of delicious sushi, I stood up and my sister Kathy, still seated, looked up at me and started cracking up. Mom then joined her in the hysteria. "Look at your shirt, Sharon! Just look at your shirt." So I did. And this is what I saw:
Scroll down...

Keep going..

Keep going...

You're almost there...

Ah, here it is:
Now I'm sure you understand. Today my second childhood
officially began - lopsided and a whole lot disheveled!

Note: One last note, I just noticed what the Bible verse for today is (new verse posted daily on the right side bar): "Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you." (Isaiah 46:4) Comforting, and appropriate, don't you think? I've had a very happy, memorable and blessed birthday!

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Monday, September 8, 2008

Tidy Tip Tuesday - Organize Your Earrings

When my mom lived with us, I worked out a simple system to store her earrings which were always getting misplaced because she had nowhere to store them other than on top of her dresser. Unfortunately I did not get photos of it before she moved out.

But I am now doing the same thing for my earrings. this is what the system looks like:
The earrings are stored on a "card" made of fun foam. You can cut the foam to whatever size you need. I used the thinner sheets - 2 layers - because that's what was left over from my grandchildren's craft project. The layers hold together when the earrings are placed on them. Or you can get fun foam that has an adhesive back and use that to adhere two layers together. Take advantage of the pretty colors of fun foam to color code your earrings. Blue earrings go onto a card made from blue foam. This makes it so easy to find the earrings you're looking for. Just pull out the blue card for that pair of blue earrings.

When putting your earrings on the foam for the first time, just poke a hole through the foam with the earring post and attach it to the card. So easy!

The box I've used to store my earrings in is from Michael's. It is made for holding ribbon, but it works well for the earrings cards. However, you could use just about any small box. Just make sure that you cut the cards so that they fit snugly into it.

Not just a tidy tip, but also a fun craft project if you should decide to do this. If you have daughters or granddaughters with pierced ears include them in on this project also. And let me know how it turns out!

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Good Comment and Some Help for Morning Sickness

One of the treats of writing this blog is that, often, I receive fantastic comments from my readers. But alas, I know that these are mostly read only by me. So I have decided that I will post the best comments from time to time on a regular basis. They are just too good to let slip by unnoticed.

This anonymous comment I thought was important enough to post (click here for the original post). I will answer this question at the end of the comment:

"I have used GSE. When I begin to get a case of the sniffles, I start using GSE and eventually it gets to the point where I forgot I had the sniffles all along. But an herbalist in Pharmica told me to be cautious about taking GSE if there is possibility of being pregnant. She advised me to only take a few drops (if I remember correctly 3 drops or even less) during pregnancy. She explained if GSE is so strong to be effective against fungi, it most likely can be harmful to a growing fetus. In her opinion, she rather have a woman not take it at all if she thinks there's a chance she's pregnant. Do you know any evidence of this?"

After doing some research, I have to say that the answer to this question is still very vague. I asked my daughter-in-law who introduced me to GSE and she responded that she really wasn't clear on that herself. And after doing a search on online, I found that there were the pros and cons. The pros were actual women in a forum concerning this very topic, who had used GSE during pregnancy without any problem. Of course, the websites that sell the product will not stick their necks out to say it is okay to use. Most of them said that since there is insufficient research into the matter, they recommended not using it while pregnant.

There were also websites that dealt with GSE for animal use. The few that I visited indicated that GSE could continue to be used during the gestation time for those animals. Though I doubt very much if there is any danger in taking GSE during pregnancy (for humans) and would probably not hesitate to do so myself, you will need to personally make this decision. If anyone reading this has more information, please send me an email or leave a comment.

For now this is the only comment I will post. But since this question about pregnancy came to my attention, I thought it would be helpful to offer a natural remedy to those of you who are pregnant and may be suffering from morning sickness. I came across this remedy (click here) while I was working on finding the answer to the question about GSE.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Tidy Tip Tuesday - Good, Cheap Tools

These two turners are the best I've found for ease of flipping pancakes, eggs, hamburgers - essentially anything in a pan. They flip food neatly, without making a mess of things (never a broken egg).

But to find these tools new is nigh to impossible. Neither one of the two seem to be available anywhere that I know of (new). Both are made by EKCO. I found the one with the black handle at a thrift shop and my mother gave me the one with the wooden handle.

The thing I like about these turners is that they are both flat across the edge that does the turning. That's exactly why they are good for turning. It is easy to slide the turner under the entire portion of food in the pan, lift it up and flip it over neatly. Both are good for scraping off cooked-on food from the pan too. I also like the fact that both turners are metal. I do not like nylon or non-stick. Food sticks to them (non-stick? I don't think so) and makes turning food impossible.

Because I could not find a second turner of this kind, I purchased others that had a curved edge. Even though I paid real good money for them at special kitchen stores, they were useless and I ended up getting rid of them. Then I got the idea to look in thrift shops. Ta-da! An easy find there!

So now I just keep an eye out whenever I am at a thrift shop. I can usually find the flat-edged turners there for under a dollar - a nice tidy price!

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