Home and Family Quandaries

Here are a few more haiku based on family fun:

On Turning One  Little Birthday Girl   Why are your favorite gifts Boxes and paper?

Play Actors  All the world’s a stage.  But if they won’t let you act,  You still get to play!

Life or Death MattersGreat expectations!I want chicks, but he wants eggs.Life and Death collide.

Asclepias   Snowy bird brooding
On your nest of eggs, are you
Hatching milkweed seeds?

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God” (1 John 4:7).

Song of Solomon (283): What Would You Like Your Husband to Love About You?

Song of Solomon 8:10 “…then was I in his eyes as one that found favour.” I believe this verse is best considered in its entirety, first on the physical level, but then—for our encouragement and comfort—on the spiritual level (because it seems to me that our physical bodies are often even more difficult to significantly improve than our spiritual lives).

Two things are very striking to me about the verse. First, the bride’s self esteem and unusual self assessment, and second, the bride’s confidence that her body is what gained her favor with her husband: “then was I in his eyes as one that found favour.” There may be women who read this verse and identify with the bride’s assessment of herself in a positive way (e.g.: “Oh, yes, that is true of me! I have a gorgeous body and that’s why my husband fell in love with me!”).

If you did, you can skip the next few paragraphs! However, I’ve heard that even Hollywood’s lineup of beautiful movie stars, when surveyed, reported they would like to change some things about their appearance if they could. So, I suspect almost every woman grew up the way I did: not perfectly content with her physical appearance. For me, the bride’s declaration seems surprisingly vain on the one hand and discouraging on the other. It seems vain for anyone to think so highly of herself; but if her assessment was correct, then it is discouraging to think that someone could truly have such an amazing figure.

I grew up feeling pretty, but I would never have thought of myself as being as strong and statuesque as a wall, nor would I have described my breasts as towers! (The earlier description of sleeping fawns could compute in my brain.) Is such high regard simply recognizing the truth, or is it pride? Certainly, this woman was one of a kind in Solomon’s estimation, so perhaps she was the “Miss Universe” of her time and had gained the king’s favor strictly because of her beauty.

Something inside me resists that with all my being. I prefer the story of Esther, who was winsome because she was beautiful both inside and out. My husband once intimated that what attracted him to me was my body when we were first married, and I just about hit him over the head with a baseball bat! (Well, maybe not really.) I didn’t want him to love me for my looks. Outward beauty is ephemeral and often misused by the world. I wanted him to love me for my spirit…my character…maybe even my brain…anything but my looks, because I felt that surface appearances truly were just “skin deep,” and that the real and lasting beauty I should be concentrating on was the unfading inner beauty of a Christlike spirit.

Now, forty-five years later, I know my husband loves me for something deeper than outer beauty, because he still says he thinks I’m beautiful, even though I no longer have my youthful figure and face. I appreciatively accept his assessment as one who is blinded by love. In other words, I don’t think I’m beautiful, but when my husband tells me that I am, my brain relays this message: “Your husband really loves you!” A man who thinks a woman is beautiful will either love her for it (in the sense of being drawn to her), or because he loves her, he will think she’s lovely. What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Please share your thoughts!

(P.S.—I used a photo of Elizabeth Taylor as my graphic for this article because when I was little, I thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world. Despite her beauty, fame, and fortune, I would not have traded places with her. Would you?)

I’d Rather Have Jesus
(-Rhea F. Miller, 1922)

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands.
I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand

Than to be the king of a vast domain
Or be held in sins dread sway.
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.

I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause;
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause;
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame.
I’d rather be true to His holy name

He’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom;
He’s sweeter than honey from out the comb;
He’s all that my hungering spirit needs.
I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead

Than to be the king of a vast domain
Or be held in sins dread sway.
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.

 

Pineapple Pancakes with Creamy Coconut Syrup

          In Honolulu, we ended up eating at several really fun restaurants,  and my favorite breakfast was at Hatsuhana’s Japanese Restaurant at the Waikiki Hilton Village Resort, which consisted of pancakes, bacon, tossed salad, papaya, hard-boiled egg, and green tea, all for $9.99, which is an incredible deal in Hawaii! Not only was it one of the most unusual breakfast combinations I’ve eaten (outside Asia), it was truly delicious, and one of the highlights was their unique coconut syrup. If you’ve been following along with my recipe blogs, I hope that you—like me—are starting to say, “I could make this!” when you find something you really like. I’ve been making home made and berry syrups from childhood  (https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2017/07/22/blackberry-syrup-reminiscent-of-the-cracker-barrel/ ) so it wasn’t hard to  adapt what I already knew in order to make a very refreshing coconut syrup:

Creamy Coconut Syrup
(serves 6-8)

Add together in a pan:
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup water.
Bring to a boil and then simmer for 5-6 minutes until it just barely reaches the soft-ball stage (about 115°F if you’re using a candy thermometer, although I just go by the look; it starts looking thicker than water).
Add:
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 15 oz. can coconut milk
Light sprinkle of salt
Keep simmering and use a whisk to stir until it’s all milky white and uniform in consistency. Let it cool. It doesn’t need to be warm so can be prepared a little bit ahead, although warm is always nice. It should thicken slightly when it’s sufficiently cool.

Another item I saw advertised at a different restaurant but never tried was pineapple pancakes, which also sounded good, so I worked out a recipe that met with high approval from both husband and son last weekend. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. It made us all feel a little like we were back in Hawaii! 🙂

Pineapple Pancakes
(serves about 3…at least we ate them all!)

Mix together:
1 cup pancake mix (I use Aunt Jemima’s Buttermilk, but suit yourself!)
1 egg
2 tablespoons oil (or melted butter, or bacon fat)
1 cup milk
1 cup crushed pineapple

That’s really all there is to it! Fry on a well-buttered skillet at about 325° (medium heat…not as hot as regular pancakes, because they take a little longer to bake through). If you really want Asian fusion, I guess you could serve it with hard-boiled eggs, papaya, and tossed salad, but we opted for a more traditional American flair, and even stuck with black tea rather than green.                            However you like it, I hope you’ll try it…and like it!

Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness. And he said unto me, Son of man, go, get thee unto the house of Israel, and speak with my words unto them” (Ezekiel 3:3-4).

The World Aswirl

Have you been working on any poems for National Poetry Month? I’ve been agog with all the beauty swirling in the late April snows around Tanglewood Cottage, so I wanted to share a few of my favorite photos that inspired haiku:

“Still Beautiful”  Cherry blossoms bloom,  But not here in Michigan.  Here snowflakes blossom!

 

“Artist” Great artists abound.  But in all the world I know   There is none like God.

 

“All Paupers Are Princes”   Snows melt in the sun.  The world gleams with jewels.  Beauty is treasure.

Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow?” (Job 38:22)

(P.S.—The photo of the cherry blossoms was taken by Elizabeth K. in Washington D.C.; they aren’t blooming at my house yet!)

Baby Boomers Learning to Surf

Not long ago, Alan and I spent week in Hawaii on Waikiki Beach, but we weren’t really surfing those 30-foot waves that were rolling in on the North Shore. Alan attended the annual meeting for the American Association of Geriatric Psychiatrists. As part of his prep, he had to take a self-assessment to see how well informed he is concerning current trends in America, and he shared some of the interesting statistics with me. Those of us in our sixties (as Alan and I are) are surfing, but not on waves of water! We’re riding the crest of the tidal wave of Baby Boomers about to crash as a beach head here in America.   Did you know that some 10,000 Baby Boomers are passing age 65 every day now? Did you know that America now holds the record for the most centenarians in the world: 53,000 and counting?! America is producing sixty-one geriatric psychiatrists per year, which only fills 40% of the need. Who’s going to take care of us when we’re all demented?   Well, for one thing, we can be more pro-active in trying to take care of ourselves! According to current research, the most positive psychological predictors of successful aging include: “Resilience, optimism, personal mastery, coping self-efficacy, social engagement, spirituality and religiousity, and wisdom.” The single most valuable predictor of satisfaction is retirement is adequate social engagement (even trumping cognitive and financial issues).   A couple of psychiatrists at the meetings, who had retired after highly successful careers, were taken off guard by how quickly they went from being highly esteemed to feeling no longer valued by their professional colleagues. I’ve heard this so many times! I think it would be extremely wise for each of us, as we approach retirement (or even if you’ve already retired), to find a compelling avocation to pursue that will require us to continue being fruitful….giving, growing, and engaging with others socially and spiritually. Maybe, if we can continue working on areas of personal growth such as those listed above, and if we’re willing to pursue productivity even after we’ve retired, we’ll find that we can surf into old age with grace rather than being dashed to pieces under the crushing waves!

They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing” (Psalm 92:14).

Has Spring Failed to Install in Michigan?

While my brothers are sending me photos of glorious spring weather
in California and New York City, I’m singing “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!” Because, here in Michigan there are still snowflakes sifting down from heaven! There were power outages over the weekend, and over 200 churches closed
(ours included) due to  dangerous, “almost impossible” driving conditions. In Williamston, MI, east of Grand Rapids, my friend, John Bjorlie, posted these three photos from the ice storm that hit their area, with the following caption: “Excellent crop yield this year from our Ice harvest.
The Ice plants were full and fruitful.”  🙂 Yes, if ice were a cash crop, he’d be in the money! Last week our lake was reflecting dreamy blue sky eyes, and our cherry tree was beginning to bud. This morning all our hopes for spring have been put on hold. Our lives are like this sometimes, too, aren’t they? Stormy, fragile, and uncertain. And yet, I believe God cares for us and will continue to provide for us. If you feel like your life is on hold because of unexpected storms—
Be patient and hang tough! Spring will come again!

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
(Romans 12:12)

 

P.S.—A big thank you to John to sharing his photos with me. By the way, if you’re looking for an idyllic, rural setting for an event in the Lansing area, John and his wife have a new venue that is open for business. They’ve christened it Rosrmål Barn, after the Norwegian painting style of Rosemåling, so if you’re looking for a place to celebrate, let me know, and I can put you in contact with them!

 

 

Rise Up, My Love (282): A Meditation on Cedar

Song of Solomon 8:9 “And if she be a door, we will inclose her with boards of cedar.” What else might King Solomon mean by saying that he would “inclose her with boards of cedar?” We have discussed the merits of cedar wood already in this study. To enclose her with boards of cedar would mean not only providing for her, but providing the very best for her, both physically and spiritually.  Cedar trees were considered the strongest: Job spoke of the great leviathan as thrashing his huge tail “like a cedar” (Job 40:17). Cedar trees were regarded as the most beautiful and the best: King David lived in a house made from cedar (2 Samuel 7:2), and his son, Solomon (who is the husband now speaking in our text), built his house, “and covered the house with beams and boards of cedar” (I Kings 6:9). The great temple built by Solomon was also enclosed with boards of cedar (I Kings 7). To enclose the younger sister in boards of cedar was—symbolically—to provide the very best for her, even as Solomon had provided the very best for his bride and his God!   Cedar trees were not only the tree of choice for strength, beauty, and durability, but cedar trees were also used in Scripture to picture royalty. In 2 Chronicles 25:18, King Joash of Israel likened himself to a cedar and derided the king of Judah by comparing him to a thistle. In Jeremiah 22, the Lord sent a scathing rebuke to King Zedekiah telling him that if he would not be a righteous king, God would judge him severely. During this prophecy, the Lord says, “Shalt thou reign, because thou closest thyself in cedar?” The intimation is that to enclose oneself in cedar is a kingly thing to do. To enclose the little sister in cedar was to treat her like royalty!   Indeed, our King will enclose us with the cedar of himself! In Zechariah 11:2, the rejection of the Messiah is likened to the destruction of a cedar tree: “Open thy doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour thy cedars. Howl, fir tree; for the cedar is fallen.” In Leviticus 14, cedar is mentioned five times in connection with the sacrifice offered in the ritual cleansing of homes. Cedar, because of its strength, beauty, durability and fragrance, speaks of our precious Lord’s character. He was offered up as a sacrifice for the redemptive cleansing of our bodies, the “home” of the Holy Spirit. And, just as the Leviticus sacrifice in the ritual cleansing was enveloped with the fragrance of burning cedar, so may we be both a living sacrifice made fragrant by Christ’s character, and a cleansed temple indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Then we, too, will be enclosed by boards of cedar like the little sister… encircled forever by Christ’s ineffable love.(Many thanks to Wikimedia Commons, and in particular Jerzy Strzelecki, for sharing their photos so freely!)