Too Low they Build who Build Beneath the Stars

Here are some beautiful thoughts from our church bulletin a few weeks ago. It is a special tribute to the spiritual sensitivity of our pastor’s wife, Cheryl L., who makes our bulletin a ministry each week!

“Many saints are content to live like men in coal mines, who see not the sun. . . . Rouse thee, O believer, from thy low condition! Cast away thy sloth, thy lethargy, thy coldness, or whatever interferes with thy chaste and pure love to Christ.  Make Him the source, the center, the  circumference of all thy soul’s range of delight. Rest no longer satisfied with thy dwarfish attainments. Aspire to a higher, a nobler, a fuller life.  Upward to heaven! Nearer to God!” – Spurgeon

“I want to scale the utmost height,
And catch a gleam of glory bright;
But still I’ll pray, till heaven I’ve found,
Lord, lead me on to higher ground!”

“Not many of us are living at our best. We linger in the lowlands because we are afraid to climb the mountains.  The steepness and ruggedness dismay us, and so we stay in the misty valleys and do not learn the mystery of the hills.  We do not know what we lose in our self-indulgence, what glory awaits us if only we had courage for the mountain climb, what blessing we should find if only we would move to the uplands of God.”   (Taken from Streams in the Desert, Mr. Charles E Cowman)

So, where are we building? Do we need to change locations and start shooting for the stars?

Abishai and the Skunk…and the Fountain of Life

No picture today, because it would just break your heart. Abishai killed a skunk last night. Now, granted I’m not a fan of skunks, and I’m really not a fan of how awful our entire property smells this morning. Worse, Abishai smells incredibly bad…so bad he’ll not be in the house for days…or weeks…or months. He reeks!


But, he left the skunk on the front drive, and at lunch time Joel told me the skunk was not totally dead. He was almost dead…big gash out of his left hip and covered with flies. I felt sick. I didn’t think even a vet could revive him, but I couldn’t let him suffer anymore, so I hit him over the head with a shovel, which stopped him from moving at all and then buried him, all the while crying! I don’t like to kill anything. Granted, I kill mosquitoes…and bees (because Joel’s allergic to them), maybe a few insects that invade the house like ants and flies, but moths or anything less threatening…let’s just carry them outside.

God didn’t create our world for death, but for life. He created us to life too. “For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light” (Psalm 36:9). He is the Fountain of Life and promises to give us eternal life: “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:28). If you don’t know how to receive eternal life through Christ, check at the top of this page under the heading “Who Am I?”

But, for those of us who have become children of God by faith in Jesus Christ…aren’t you thankful for the promise that someday there will be no more death and dying? “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away…I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things: and I will be his God, and he shall be my son” (Revelation 21:4-7).

Praying and the Royal Law

I love this:

I asked God to take away my habit. God said, No. It is not for me to take away, but for you to give it up.

I asked God to make my handicapped child whole. God said, No. Pray for his spirit to become whole; his body is only temporary.

I asked God to grant me patience. God said, No. Patience is a byproduct of tribulations; it isn’t granted, it is learned.

I asked God to give me happiness. God said, No. I give you blessings; happiness is up to you.

I asked God to spare me pain. God said, No. Suffering draws you apart from worldly cares and brings you closer to me.

I asked God to make my spirit grow. God said, No. You must grow on your own by abiding in Me, but I will prune you to make you fruitful.

I asked God for all things that I might enjoy life. God said, No. I will give you life, so that you may enjoy all things.

I asked God to help me LOVE others, as much as He loves me. God said…Ahhhh, finally you have the idea.

“If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well” (James 2:8)

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

Well, there’s off to new adventures and a new chapter in their lives, but don’t they look happy?

But…boy is it hard to see them go!!  😦

It was a great visit, and we’re already hoping to get to see more of Gerlinde in the future as the Lord directs. It has been a long, hard road for Jonathan to find someone so compatible spiritually, intellectually, emotionally…and who can keep up with him physically too! I dare say they had a splendid time, and Gerlinde always seemed up for whatever…be it jogging, boating, a walk at the zoo or a visit to the GRAM. She even went shopping with me at my favorite boutique: Goodwill! What fun.

Changing the subject, I just have to show you Carl’s new neices! Aren’t they totally adorable?? Carl’s brother is a lawyer in the Detroit area, and his wife just had these precious twins. I have no pictures to show you of Carl and Kathy today, but Carl’s hockey team just won their play offs Thursday, and last night Kathy and Carl went to a friend’s wedding.

Things are looking up! For a lot of years, Jon lamented that he was probably going to end up as a long-faced “monk,” and Kathy (being the good feminist that she is) was prepared to be a happy single. Who knows what the end will be, but I’m sure enjoying the sweet beginnings of these two very happy alliances!

“Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass” (Psalm 37:5)

The Joy of Cooking…and Eating

So, shall I just give up and turn this into a cooking column?? NO!  But, this week we did have a “favorite” exchange. We made our family’s favorite Sunday dinner, which is a pot roast with potatoes, carrots, onions, and mushrooms, and Gerlinde treated us to her family’s favorite Sunday dinner: rouladen, potato dumplings, and red cabbage. Rouladen is made from thin steaks seasoned with mustard, salt, and pepper before being filled with pickle slices and grilled bacon and onions, rolled up, tied shut, and pressure-cooked with a little water until nicely done. The potato dumplings are boiled and then opened and filled with rich, brown gravy made from the rouladen drippings, and the cabbage is seasoned with a little more of the bacon and onions.

Salad and bread go nicely with either Sunday dinner, and yes…Germans like desserts just as much as Americans! You should have seen the Frankfurt kranz (wreath cake with candied almonds on a butter frosting) Gerlinde made. By the way, did you know you can get about 50 suggestions for anything you’d ever want to make by googling such places as ?

At any rate, the eating has been great around here for the past three weeks, and we are all sadly aware that tomorrow both Jon and Gerlinde are flying back to Europe. Tonight we’re having a festive picnic to celebrate, and Saturday we’ll start mourning and fasting. No, wait, Alan and I have a big dinner party this weekend, and Monday I’m taking Cheryl out to celebrate her new job, and…

Ah, well! Eat, drink (tea), and be merry, for tomorrow we diet. And today we diet. It’s a good job I’m always dieting, or I’d really be gaining!!  🙂

Did I Say No Desserts? Then…How about Doughnuts for Breakfast?

One of our long standing traditions has been to make home made doughnuts in the fall. It’s easy! Take a loaf or two of frozen bread dough, defrost it, flatten it, cut it into shapes, let them rise, fry them for a couple of minutes on each side in sizzling vegetable oil in a frying pan (carefully, so you don’t burn yourself on hot, spitting grease), and set them on towel paper to remove excess oil.

Here is Joel finishing up by dipping them in a glaze of basic butter cream frosting (made a bit thinner than usual with a little extra milk).

Volia! Hot doughnuts NOW and maybe even better than Krispy Kremes! They go great with milk or fresh apple cider, and—if you use two or three loaves of frozen bread dough (okay, okay, so you could make your own dough from scratch if you want)—you’ll have plenty to share with visiting friends! And, of course, if you’re lucky, there might even be a few left over for breakfast…

Oh, brother, then on Tuesday Kathy made this marvelous pie from fresh apples that she and Carl brought home from Robinettes…another fall tradition. Alan thought pie ala mode would make the perfect breakfast that day…

And last night, Gerlinde made an incredible rhubarb cake. It was so good that when I sent three pieces home with a friend, he told us with a grin that he hoped his wife and son were already asleep so he could eat all three pieces! Alan wondered if we should have rhubarb cake for breakfast this morning, but we were good. We had our usual bowl of oatmeal…

Before the Belgian waffles with fresh strawberries and cream.

I say, how am I supposed to lose weight at this rate???

(But, in truth, I did lose weight this week, believe it or not, so I’m really not cheating even if I am teasing.)

MSU Medical School Comes to GR: Inaugural Gala

When we moved to GR fifteen years ago, the Lord put Jeremiah 29:7 on my heart: “And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.” It’s not that I felt like a captive being carried away from my homeland, but I did feel like tadpole in a tiny pond being scooped up and dumped into a lake. And, I did feel commissioned to pray and “bloom wherever planted.”

Alan’s new position at work has required us suddenly to be in attendance often where there is action, and last night it was at the inaugural gala for MSU’s new medical school here in GR. We heard addresses from the president of MSU, the dean of the medical school, and a truly inspiring talk on what it takes to be world class: concepts, competencies, and connections (and I dare say…I think the topics of commitment and contributions were briefly and politely included). Two very elderly city fathers were also honored: Peter C. Cook (at the tender age of 94) and Ralph Hauenstein (who served under General Dwight Eisenhower during World War II…now the tender age of 96). These two are men whose names are on buildings here in town, but I’d never seen them personally, nor am I likely to see them again. They have been huge philanthropists who have a vision to see GR become a center for medical research. I hope it happens!!

At any rate, I felt very privileged to be a part of this special occasion, and I stand a bit in awe of what the Lord has done. My contribution will doubtless continue to be in the area of “prayer warrior,” but it has been thrilling to see true spiritual progress in our community in many arenas as well as significant academic and commercial growth.

Are you praying for your community? May we all pray for the peace of the city where the Lord has planted us, and may we learn to bloom there!

Dangerous Chocolate Cake

I’ve been on a diet, and so I have no business passing along this recipe to you, but it looks good, so I thought you might enjoy it.

Minute Cake in a Mug

¼ cup flour
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup milk
¼ cup chocolate chips
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons oil
½  teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
dash of vanilla

Mix all ingredients thoroughly in a very large, microwavable mug and microwave for three minutes. The cake will rise over the top, but…not to worry! Add a scoop of your favorite ice cream and serve it up…or share it with someone if you want to divide the calories and multiply the pleasure. (I tested it on Joel at lunch, and he said it could easily serve two.)   🙂

Why is this called “Dangerous Chocolate Cake”? Because now we’re all only five minutes away from chocolate cake, night or day. Remember that while money talks, CHOCOLATE SINGS!

On the serious side, if you’re trying to lose weight, I’ve found a super simple, super hard (if you like sweets as much as I do) but effective way to lose weight: stop eating desserts. In 13 weeks of strict abstinence, I’ve only lost 7 pounds, but that’s a lot better than nothing! Also, I’ve stopped making desserts, but this is another reason why I thought the cake in a mug idea might be nice. That way, starving teens can make themselves a quick dessert without leaving enough cake for an army on the counter. Wouldn’t it be great if we all exercised as much and ate as little as we should?!  May we be inspired to good stewardship of the amazing bodies the Lord has given us!

Inaugurating Joe Stowell

There were all sorts of wonderful festivities surrounding the inauguration of Dr. Joe Stowell as the new president of Cornerstone University this past weekend. The culmination was a grand dinner party at DeVos Hall for 2,200 happy celebrants, which included five from our family. The last time Jon and Joel were in this gorgeous hall was back in the “good old days” when we used to provide music for Mel Trotter’s “Thanksgiving on the Grand,” a free outreach where 2,000 of GR’s poor are welcome to come in for a free turkey-with-all-the-trimmings dinner and a gospel presentation.

When I reminded the kids, Gerlinde exclaimed, “My father would be jealous. He always wanted his children to sing with him, and we would not!” (Gerlinde’s father is a pastor.) Alan pointed out that as soon as Kathy got old enough to realize she could refuse, she did. I guess the marvel is that our six sons were so willing to work with us in music ministry for so many years.  In fact, they still are! Sunday morning, even Gerlinde joined us in leading the worship music at our chapel! Thank you, kids, for all the sacrifices you made over the years to participate with Dad and me in lifting up the name of Jesus!

At any rate, it was a truly memorable evening. Our entire Christian community is really thrilled with Joe’s appointment, because he has a reputation as a faithful pastor as well as an able college president, having retired not long ago from his position as president of Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.

There were many notable people there and fun moments, but my very favorite was the keynote speaker, Ann Graham Lotz, Billy Graham’s daughter. She spoke on John 17:1-5 and encouraged us all to pursue God, pointing out that we can have a personal, permanent, privileged, and purposeful relationship with Him IF we come to him in faith, repenting of our sins, and asking Christ to save us and become our Lord. Alan kept smiling at me as if to say, “Boy, if she isn’t a chip off the old block!”  She is! Not only does she look like her dad and have his North Carolina drawl, she is an eloquent evangelist! Praise God.

So, if any of you haven’t yet trusted Christ as your savior, I pray you will. And, for any of you who have been saved “so as by fire” but don’t pursue the Lord, I pray you will start! Life is a wonderful adventure with the Lord. In fact, life would not be life to me without God’s presence and peace.

Every one at each table received a copy of Joe Stowell’s book, I Would Follow Jesus. Since we have an extra copy, I’ll lend you mine if you’d like! May we all follow Jesus!

Obama or Omama?

Okay, so you disapprove of my being political, and you don’t like my backing the Republicans. Maybe you’re right…but I still have to throw this one out…

Subject: Who am I?

> Wall Street Journal posted Thursday, September 04, 2008 10:58:50 AM
> Who Am I?
> I am under 45 years old,
> I love the outdoors,
> I hunt,
> I am a Republican reformer,
> I have taken on the Republican Party establishment, I have many children,
> I have a spot on the national ticket as vice president with
> less than two years in the governor’s office.
> I am Teddy Roosevelt in 1900