Monday, December 28, 2009

The holiday hurry

The busy days are still here. Our Christmas was put on hold for a week (flu in the ranks), so I still have presents under the tree. The ingredients for Christmas chili are standing by. I'm still making lists and checking them twice.

In the midst of this busy-ness, I thought about Mary and Joseph... how fortunate they were to live in a calmer time ("all is calm, all is bright", right?) Why, even I could concentrate on important spiritual things, with a schedule like theirs. No hustle, no bustle...

Then I remembered their trip to Bethlehem.

Someone had to make sure that Mary was aware of the latest in natural childbirth techniques (Joseph too!). Someone had to plan the route, pack the donkey, arrange for food, round up clean swaddling clothes, push through crowds, etc, etc, etc.

The times were different. The push to get things done? Ever present.

Mine the choice to keep the King of kings in His proper place.

...the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Christmas program

Usually, I am on this side of a Christmas program.

This year, long after I thought the coast was clear (read as all parts were filled), I was asked to participate as a reader.

Today, at the final practice, I find myself on this side of the program... looking at the backs of Sunday school kids instead of their faces.

Although I miss seeing the program, and listening unpressured to beautiful music, I have the privilege of reading some of the most significant words of the season...

But He made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.

Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift.

And she brought forth her son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. (Philippians 2:7, II Corinthians 9:15, Luke 2:7)

It has been a good thing...

Monday, December 14, 2009

A new perspective

I have been away from home. In the past 12 days I have: visited 5 states; watched grandkids "star" (in my world view) in Christmas plays and programs; done my post-op "Nona" duties; cooked, baked and cleaned in other people's kitchens; accomplished some Christmas shopping; discovered wonderful treasures in out-of-the-way antique stores.

One of my antique treasures was buried in a pile of early 20th century Sunday School teaching boards - a copy of a painting, "Arrival of the Shepherds" by Henri Lerolle. I had never seen it before, but it has brought new insight to my view of the manger scene.

Add to that painting the lesson for my 3rd and 4th grade Sunday School class yesterday. The lesson described the shepherds searching for the angel's "sign" - a baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

I have always pictured the shepherds going straight from the flocks to the manger... not wandering through Bethlehem in search of the one stable that held the promised Saviour. They followed the star that marked the spot (I assumed). How wrong I have been... the star is never mentioned until the Wise Men arrive - many months later.

So, with new eyes, I see the manger scene. With new understanding, I feel the wonder of the shepherds as they finally find the right stable. With greater appreciation, I notice Joseph's surprised face as he discovers rag-tag shepherds observing his family moment.

Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift...

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. Luke 2:12

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Works in progress

Life is getting seriously busy. Christmas provides the perfect excuse for me to play... it's all part of that list that I'm checking twice (hum a little tune here). But, it does get a bit scary as the deadline approaches and the list is still long, so the play-time gets serious about... oh... NOW!

Because you never know who might be peeking, I'll just show WIP from the last few days.

Trying to perfect a parchment wrapper isn't as easy as it looks.

This is too round...

too big...

getting close...

And the cards. How I love to make cards. I know what happens to cards after Christmas, but it doesn't matter. I just love making cards.

So that you can still act surprised if a box of parchment wrapped goodies arrives at your house, or you get a cHim Prints card... vague photos will have to do for now.

I hope you're having as much fun getting ready as I am.

Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Psalm 100:2

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanks giving

Thanksgiving... it seems that it would be more appropriate if that were two words instead of one.

The family that could, met in Indiana and we used every possible excuse to celebrate something.



Shopping... in the middle of the night!

It was fun... we should do it again next year!

At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee because of thy righteous judgements. Psalm 119:62

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Learning a new language

It's that time of year again. You know, the time when the search is on for the perfect stocking stuffer.

Unlike the stocking stuffer suggestions from most jewelry stores, I seize upon useful, little, homemade items that help fill the stockings right to the brim. (Yes... we still fill Christmas stockings for our kids, kids-in-law, and their kids. It's too much fun to give it up.)

This year, I stumbled upon tawashi. I am so excited! It fills every requirement:
1) practical
2) compact
3) handmade
4) sooo cute!

However, when I started my quest for patterns, I discovered this...

...the best patterns are in Japanese! Thank goodness for Al Gore... the "World Wide Web" provided a way to interpret this gibberish without enrolling in a crash course in Japanese.

What? You don't know what tawashi is? You think I'm going to spill the beans when my recipients just might read this? Ha!

You'll have to search on your own... and my girls are not allowed to look. It doesn't matter how old you are... stockings should be full of surprises!

Give me understanding,and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart. Psalm 119:34

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I'm not ashamed

This has been going around facebook lately.
let's see how many people on fb aren't ashamed to show their love for God and admit that Jesus is their Savior. We need to get God back in America. If you're not ashamed, copy and paste this in your status! I am not ashamed!!!!

I have been slow in joining this wave. Maybe it's the writer in me... but if you ask me to proclaim something this personal - I won't want to do it with a copy-and-paste. So, here's my personal declaration -

When I was very young, every night at bedtime, my family gathered in the living room. Dad read from the Bible and then talked to us about what he read. We finished the time together on our knees, each of us praying our "Now I lay me"s and then off to bed we went.

I remember one particular night like it was yesterday. Dad read John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." He explained that our sins separated us from God, but that Jesus died to take our punishment. If we believed this in our hearts and asked Him to forgive us, then the sin would be forgiven, the separation removed.

I don't know how much of this my 4 year-old brain understood, but my heart was convicted. I went up the stairs that night thinking, I need to do this. I got ready for bed thinking, I need to do this. I laid in my bed, waiting for Mom to come in and kiss me goodnight, thinking, I need to do this. When she arrived in the doorway of my darkened room, I said, "I need to do this. I need to ask Jesus in my heart."

That night, on my knees beside my bed, I asked God to forgive my sins. Although I didn't understand the theology of the moment, I knew from that moment on, that I was a child of God, forgiven, soooo loved that He would give His Son to save me. I have been blessed to have known such grace for so many years.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth... Romans 1:16

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Will you just look at this?

It is interesting to see what the changing seasons reveal in the yard.

The delicate pink Lily of the Valley turns into red berries.

This fungus appears on an old tree trunk. I'm sure it wouldn't qualify as edible, but it is an interesting combination of color and texture.

This miniature rose is just plain beautiful. It shows off when I least expect a spot of "pretty".

For anyone that lives in an area that only has two seasons - nice and nicer - I suggest to you that you really are missing something wonderful... autumn.

The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works. Psalm 145:10

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A birthday remembered

I have six brothers. Fortunately, I am older than most of them... survival might not have been possible if I had been around for too many years of their... ummm... wit?

Only one brother was older. The first-born. Named for our father.

I adored him when we were kids. His love of reading kindled curiosity in me, and because of his example, I learned the joy of losing myself in a book.

But life marches on. He went to college, then to Viet Nam. I moved away, married and had a houseful of kids.

Distance settled between us... until the last year of his life. We ended up living in the same town, and when cancer took its toll on his independence, I became his ever present helper. Fifteen years ago today, we gathered around my dining room table and celebrated his final birthday.

I'm thankful for those last months, weeks, days. I regained the brother that I knew as a child. Precious times indeed.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. I John 4:11

Sunday, November 15, 2009

That was last week...

Have you ever had one of those weeks where, it's over, but you can't figure out what you did with all 7 of those days? That was not me last week. I got so much done that I'll probably have to take this week off to recover!

The most surprising day was the one that found me in the kitchen. By late afternoon, the counters were lined with 4 big loaves of bread, 2 mini-loaves, 1 dozen dinner rolls, a batch of oatmeal-cranberry bars, and a big pot of homemade tomato soup.

I think I'm OK... no H1N1 or flour addictions. However, if you hear a news alert regarding a mysterious earthquake in the Midwest, don't worry. It's not 2012. I probably just polished off the last piece of bread and waddled off to the kitchen in search of cookies.

Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Raking leaves

On Saturday, I really missed my grandkids.

It was a day for raking... and raking... and then some more raking.

After clearing leaves from the north and east sides of the house, I started on the courtyard that faces south. This little area is home to 2 ancient maples, 40' of privet hedge, and countless scruffy trees. Apparently, all the inhabitants of this little courtyard speak the same language... they interpret the current season as a command and they let their leaves fall.

Was I missing my grandkids because I needed help raking? No.

It's because of this... (Normally, the back of the camera is where I like to be... but there was no way to show the true scope of my leaf pile without sitting down in front of it to give some perspective.)

Do you see my problem with this picture?

There is none of the glee that a huge pile of leaves brings to little bodies. There's no running and jumping and squeals of crunchy delight... no freshly raked leaves flying through the air, messing up the clean green grass.

For a moment it was too quiet.... then I remembered that I still have the other half of the yard to clean up.

Maybe next year. I'll have them bring extra rakes from home.

The earth, O Lord, is full of thy mercy: teach me thy statutes. Psalm 119:64

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Fireside beauty

So, I sat on the ground during the bonfire and found a little friend - this oak leaf. She was so beautiful in the light of the bonfire that I took pictures from every angle.

This is one of my favorites.

Oh, to be that photogenic.

Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Proverbs 31:30

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Long lost recipe

My 70's-orange plastic recipe box was the perfect size for halting the sag in a wooden closet pole. It was only supposed to be a temporary prop, but after a few weeks it became part of the landscape... a few more months passed and it was a fixture.

Long periods of time can pass before a closet needs a fresh coat of paint, so when I finally attacked those walls a few months ago, I rediscovered my little orange box full of old recipes.

There is one that I have to share. It's quick, super easy, and reminds me of crunchy, oaty, granola bars. Yummy!

Chewy Oat Bars

4 cups oats (quick or old fashioned) uncooked
1 1/2 cups chopped peanuts, walnuts or pecans
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
3/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup honey or corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Combine all ingredients and mix well. Line a 15"x10" jelly roll pan with foil and grease well. Press oat mixture into the pan and bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, or till golden brown. (Mixture will be golden brown and bubbly.) Cool thoroughly and cut into 1 1/2"x2" bars.
Makes approx. 5 dozen bars.

I tell my self they're good for me with all those oats and nuts. Yep, that's what I say. Enjoy.

My son, eat thou honey, because it is good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste. Proverbs 24:13

Sunday, November 1, 2009

364 days to go...

Last night was the night my "pyro-honey" waits for all year long.... the annual CBC Hayride/Potluck/Bonfire.

His duty? To gather materials and mastermind the shape, height and core of the fire. Fortunately, this all happens out in the country, in an open field where nothing dangerous can happen.

I took pictures. It's impossible to capture the true size of this inferno in a picture, so just understand that we all went home with cricks in our necks (from looking up) and with a renewed appreciation for the faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Unlike any other modern day people, we understand a fire that is seven times hotter than normal. (See Daniel 3)

You can stand 35' from this fire and keep perfectly warm.

Approximate number of pallets consumed? 115

Winding down.

... Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent His angel, and delivered His servants that trusted in Him, and have changed the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God. Daniel 3:28

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Small town USA

A few weeks ago, we drove through a very small midwest town. It was so small that it is completely forgettable - except for the scene at the center of town. And that was so unique that I can't get it out of my mind.

Questions spring up and remain unanswered. Scenarios form and fade, possiblities (and impossibilities!) nag at the edges of my mind.

So, I'll set the scene for you... and maybe you can figure it out.

Benches - for extra seating? for friends and family?

A manhole cover... don't those usually lead to city sewers?

Restricted parking sign... is this area only for the people who live in the building? Is everyone else unwelcome here?

The blue trash container... why is that there?

Yes, there is one more piece to the puzzle. It's the centerpeice of the scene... the part that makes the picture impossible, unthinkable, unforgettable!

Ok, I won't keep you in suspense. Here it is... downtown, small town, mid-America.

Do you have any answers?

Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud. Proverbs 16:19

Friday, October 23, 2009

Today is "W" day

Ok, so I'm trying out something new, it wasn't working, and poof! the thing posts on my blog. Argh!

If you happened to be there at the moment it left my view (by mistake!)... sorry. I was just playing and hit the wrong... ummmm... something!

I was attempting to figure out how to place a drop cap and have the rest of the word in the right place. Now, I'm afraid that every mistake will fly out onto my blog. It's one thing to make mulitple mistakes in the privacy of my own office. It's another thing entirely to display my ignorance to the world.

What shall I do?

Sill it work this time?

And then, there is the real question...

Why do this at all?

Because, on a gloomy day...

W hy not?

And, look! I did it!

Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
Colossians 3:17

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Shades of autumn

There is just something about autumn.

The smell in the air...

The culmination of all the efforts of the previous months - planting, growing, harvesting...

The colors of dying plants exiting with panache...

It makes winter bearable.

Who is like unto the Lord our God, who dwelleth on high, who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth! Psalm 113:5,6

Monday, October 19, 2009


During our little cabin in the woods getaway, we played dominoes. As I look back... I think I was being prepped for the eventful trip home. All I could think of was a "domino chain" of prayer.

We left the wilderness late Friday morning filled with happy feelings and too much good food. By mid-afternoon, we were sitting by the side of the road 20 miles from Iowa City. A wrecker had just loaded up our cargo trailer, complete with broken axle, and was headed to a trailer repair shop 10 miles west.

This is when I started thinking dominoes... Did the wrecker owner pray that morning for increased business?

When the family that runs the trailer repair shop gathered for their noon meal that day, did they ask of God that He would provide them with business enough to pay their bills?

Was the U-haul dealer praying as we pulled into his driveway? Were his needs met even as he met our need?

I hear the sound of a tumbling chain of tiles as I imagine all of the requests that are lifted Heavenward every day. Amazing when you think of it. God... arranging people and circumstances, everything flowing together. Amazing.

Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching his understanding. Isaiah 40:28

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Time out

We are on vacation. Honey Creek Resort is home this week for me and my dearly beloved, my sister and bro-in-law, and my mom. It is a rustic area with cabins that have all the comforts of home.... dishwasher, comfy beds and flat screen TVs.. that's right.. more than one!

So, we have been enjoying nature in our own various ways -

we girls observing turkeys outside the cabin... No, not Rod and Joe, real wild animals!

the guys busy trying to shoot birdies.... Oh goodness no! This kind!

We're having a great time enjoying the beauty of rest and nature.

Wish you were here!

And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever. And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places. Isaiah 32:17,18

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Boy, was I wrong!

Even though I didn't know that I was wrong... apparently I was... very wrong.

My husband, whose name is not Frank, is nonetheless frank... and honest. He said, "I love those muffins!"

Another friend, who saw my previous post, called me and said, "I want that recipe!"

No, I didn't rummage through the garbage. I remembered the original poster's clever blog name, and I will give you the opportunity to get the 3-ingredient recipe for yourself. Click here to go to The Bake-Off Flunkie. Find the recipe on October 4th.

Enjoy! It is easy... and it is only 3 ingredients... and I did get 47 of these little gems.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I John 1:9

Monday, October 5, 2009

Breakfast, dinner and dessert

Food! Filling the eyes, dancing on the tongue, satisfying a need somewhere way deep down...

Friday - the decor for the men's breakfast - apples! Walls of apples standing on the tables... How is that standing? It's gonna go! What in the world?

Saturday - Chinese! A lazy susan filled and overflowing with dishes of beef, pork and General Tso's Chicken (I don't know what battle he won with this recipe, but I know why!!!). For an already festive group, this was the fortune in the cookie!

Today - a new recipe, Chocolate Pumpkin Muffin Tops. Only 3 ingredients! Quick and easy! And, a one time wonder... as in I made it one time. I wonder if this crumpled up recipe will hit the wastebasket from here?

Tomorrow all this delight has to end, or I'll be wondering how I will afford my new bigger wardrobe!

It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Matthew 4:4

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Normal day?

Normally, green beans in the garden are only a fond memory by the end of September. But, today! Today the plants were loaded, begging to be picked.

Normally, the skies in Michigan are a lackluster blue, more cloudy than clear. But, today! Today the sky was radiant, cloudless... stunning.

Normally, the pictures I take are WYSIWYG. But today! Today a background tree donned a silver cloak... showing off, I guess.

This was not a (sigh) normal day. Today was loaded with radiant, astounding moments.

Without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lesson from the table

Let me tell you about my grandma's table.

Grandma lived in a big brick house. In the living room, in the bay window, behind the couch, under an enormous, gangly plant, stood grandma's table. Its purpose was to take up space and catch the overflow from the careless watering of the "monster plant". No one paid any attention to the table. It was just there... holding the plant and catching water.

Years passed. Grandma moved to her heavenly home, her house left the family, and the table moved in with me. I tucked the abused table in an inconspicuous spot, pulling it out only when big family dinners called for extra seating.

A few weeks ago, I wanted to rearrange the living room, which of course, involved furniture in three rooms, including grandma's table. It was a perfect fit in front of the window in my kitchen.

This new location caused me to see the table. It's beautiful! The water stains now take a back seat to the incised designs around the turned legs.

"So what?" you say. This is what... the lesson learned from grandma's table.

There are times when life is too busy. A million things have to be done right now, or even better, yesterday. Add to that, laundry, cooking, cleaning.... I run through my days, attacking the "water stains" and missing the beauty.

It's time for some rearranging... time to step back, clear away the clutter, and see the loveliness of the life God has given me.

Aaahhh... God is good.

Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. Isaiah 45:22