Tea Time and a Better-than-Sacher-Torte Recipe

IMG_3073I know we have no right to complain about the weather given that snow=water and parts of our country are experiencing the worst drought in recorded history, but I will say that Susan, Cindi, and I decided it was high time for a high tea to IMG_3074chase away a bit of the winter blahs and brighten an evening here in the “third snowiest city in the U.S.” right now! Each couple brought a savory appetizer, a petite main entrée, and an incredibly luscious dessert. I thought my tray of IMG_3077handmade chocolates and dipped strawberries would be good, but I think Susan’s flourless chocolate torte served with a raspberry coulis and sweetened whipped cream was even better than the Sachertorte I had at the Sacher Hotel in Salzburg, Austria last fall! (Recipe at the end just in case you’d like to try it…)IMG_3076Well, as always, we had a splendid time and really enjoyed hearing all about IMG_3081everybody’s lives. Cindi and Rex just returned from a mission trip to Honduras, and both couples have daughters who are engaged to be married this summer. IMG_3080Their girls have been super close all these years ( just like the moms), and the weddings will be less than 3 weeks apart. How will we ever handle so much fun?! (My son Joel, who’s about the same age, will be heading off for a PhD program instead of to the altar. Guess we can’t have everything…at least not all at once!)  IMG_3085 In order to survive the next six months of excitement, we three “girls” are  planning a prayer date for next week. What a blessing it is to have friends helping us through all the ups and downs of life!

“Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts.”                (Colossians 3:14-15, HCSB)Flourless Chocolate Cake     Flourless Chocolate Cake

(Found on allrecipes.com, shared by “Maggie” It makes 1 ten-inch, round cake.)

Ingredients: 1/2 c. water;  1/4 tsp. salt; 3/4 c. white sugar; 18 (1-oz) squares bittersweet chocolate; 1 c. unsalted butter; 6 eggs


  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Grease one 10-inch round cake pan and set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat combine the water, salt and sugar. Stir until completely dissolved and set aside.
  3. Either in the top half of a double boiler or in a microwave oven melt the bittersweet chocolate. Pour the chocolate into the bowl of an electric mixer.
  4. Cut the butter into pieces and beat the butter into the chocolate, 1 piece at a time. Beat in the hot sugar-water. Slowly beat in the eggs, one at a time.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Have a pan larger than the cake pan ready, put the cake pan in the larger pan and fill the pan with boiling water halfway up the sides of the cake pan.
  6. Bake cake in the water bath at 300 degrees F (150 degrees C) for 45 minutes. The center will still look wet. Chill cake overnight in the pan. To un-mold, dip the bottom of the cake pan in hot water for 10 seconds and invert onto a serving plate.

My Hope, America, by Billy Graham

4713_BillyGrahamAmerica_lgBilly Graham has preached to over 2.2 billion people in his lifetime and has appeared on Gallup’s List of Most Admired Men and Women 55 times…more than any other person on earth! Young people today may not know much about him, but over 50 years ago, I became a believer largely because I was so impressed by the transformation of my older sister, Annie, after she’d committed her life to Christ in response to hearing Billy Graham preach in Washington D.C. Billy_Graham_008Five years later, in 1967, my husband responded to a gospel message on TV by Billy Graham and became a Christian. So, Billy Graham has meant a lot to us over the years, and we were delighted to discover that last November Billy Graham—now a frail 95-year-old—preached what may be his last public message: My Hope, America. It’s available on Netflix or can viewed free by googling, or online at: http://myhopewithbillygraham.org/programs/the-cross/my-hope-landing-headerThere are three messages in this mini-series, each only about a half an hour long: “The Cross,” “Lose to Gain,” and “Defining Moments” (which highlights the work of God’s transforming grace and love in the lives of illusionist Jim Munroe, NFL player David Tyree and singer Lacey Sturm). If you’ve ever wondered what it means to be a Christian or how to become one, “The Cross” will explain it all.

41i5pSWWXQL._SX300_“With all my heart, I want to leave you with truth” too!

Like the Aposle Paul, Billy Graham preached to the world, “Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21).

The Romance of Northern Europe (8): Berlin Part I: The Berlin Wall

IMG_0729What do you think of when you hear the name “Berlin”?IMG_0709I think of Germany: A country that was dominated by Marxist thinking IMG_0728 and evil rulers who almost destroyed our world, IMG_0730leaving most of their own people wounded, dead or devastated, IMG_0699their cities either totally in ruins or unsafe,IMG_0573and their country divided. IMG_0559Berlin remained in my imagination as a city scarred by the “Death Strip”IMG_0712and still suffering under the burden of existential despair. IMG_0572I am delighted to confess that my impressions are 20 to 70 years outdated! IMG_0549Yes, parts of the 87+ mile-long wall remain, but now it is a memorial IMG_0546to help us remember the way NOT to go! I believe the Berlin WallIMG_0713 is one of the most effective visuals in the world to help us all, as human beings, IMG_0732consider the catastrophic consequences of failing to take a stand against evil. IMG_0718The Berlin Wall’s “East Side Gallery” speaks eloquently of our need to save our IMG_0719earth, & God tells how: “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”IMG_0736When Alan and I were in Berlin last summer, it was our privilege to walk along IMG_0720 the Berlin Wall, soberly considering its tales of German despair and hope, IMG_0711and learning more about German valor and courage. IMG_0731I praise God that the wall came down in 1990 and Germany was reunified. IMG_0725The Luisenstadt Canal that had been filled with dirt in 1932 & later razed for theIMG_0723 “Death Strip,” is now a vibrant river, full of cool breezes and lively commerce!IMG_0722As Alan and I strolled along, I couldn’t help but think of how Christ changes us.IMG_0727Despite our best efforts, we can’t restore ourselves or our world to a place of joy. IMG_0721Jesus came to provide a way of escape. He saves us and opens a door of hope.IMG_0716“For he is our peace, who has made both one, IMG_0574 and has broken down  the middle wall of partition between us” (Ephesians 2:14).

“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).

Rise Up, My Love (72): Blind Watchmen

Sun setting over Israel copySong of Solomon 3:3 “The watchmen that go about the city found me: to whom I said, Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?” Who were these watchmen that were traveling around the city?  They were the guards who were hired to keep the city safe by night, probably the city of Jerusalem. However, they had not seen the king and had no knowledge of his whereabouts; they were of no help to the young queen. I used to marvel that they did not respond to her.  There was no effort to help her in her search, nor was there any offer to escort her safely home.  What kind of watchmen were they, anyway, to find a young woman apparently delirious with distress without any attempt to come to her aid?

I will tell you what the Scriptures say of the watchmen.  “His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber.  Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter” (Isaiah 56:10-11).night-watchmanNo wonder they did not help her! They were the blind hired to help the blind, but unwilling and uncaring. Isn’t this the picture of a large number of the religious leaders of this world? (Luke 6:39). Even those who are hired by the world to keep it safe are corrupt!  They do not know the King of Kings, and they have no knowledge of his whereabouts. When asked if they have seen him, they are silent… “they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark!”  They know nothing and can say nothing.

How many times a poor lost soul, delirious with suffering, has approached the religious leaders of this world seeking relief, only to find that they are false teachers, ignorant of the truth.  Instead of bringing the water of life to the thirsty lips of the dying soul, these apostate churchmen are “wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever” (2 Peter 2:17).

Dear, hungering soul, if you have impulsively strayed into the spiritual darkness of this world’s religious ways and broad roads in pursuit of the One your spirit longs to find, do not ask help from the world’s watchmen! They cannot help you! They are “shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain…” (Isaiah 56:11). They will not come to your aid.  They will not help you look, nor will they protect you from harm. What does Jesus say of the watchmen, the false religious shepherds, the hirelings of this world? “All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers…he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.  The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep” (John 10:8,12-13).

If you are longing for more of Jesus, there is only one way to find him, and that is to be found by him.  We think we are pursuing him, but truly He is drawing us. “Sir, we would see Jesus” (John 12:21), was the cry of the Greeks who came to Jerusalem to worship at the feast.  But, though they sought him, truly it was He who made himself known to them, as it was recorded just a few verses later: “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32).

“Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?”  No, the world has not seen or known him who has washed us in his own blood and loves us with everlasting love.  Do not ask the watchmen of this world.  They are blind and mute.  Go your way, blinded by your own tears, but knowing that “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy” (Psalm 126:5).  “And you shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). Wiki Cole_Thomas_The_Return_1837

The Armstrong Archives (72): Panacea for Morning Sickness

Monday, July 23, 1979 I just finished reading the best book, Me? Obey Him?, which was so inspirational that I passed it on. Three of Aaron’s neighbor friends come from homes without dads, and there seems to be such a tremendous lack of security and sense of assurance or love. If those moms had worked as hard at pleasing their husbands as they now have to work at providing a living, I can’t help but think everyone would be happier. Of course, the kids get hurt the worst if there’s disharmony in the home. We have children on our doorstep even before breakfast looking for a little love and attention.

Saturday Alan took us on an all day canoe trip down the shallow, peaceful Huron River. We pretended to be Indians, told stories of Lewis and Clark, and enjoyed the absolutely perfect weather. It was just fantastic—an experience we’ll probably all treasure for years to come.

August 22, 1979  It seems we’ve hit the jackpot lately for company. Last week Frank [our brother-in-law] and two friends stopped by overnight en route from New Jersey to Sunol, CA. Frank was flying home a new plane he just bought. Darby and Jerry Gwisdala (my closest friend in Mt. Pleasant) stopped by one night—celebrating their 19th wedding anniversary! They were married very young, but that still took my breath away, since Alan and I have only been married six and a half years.

Keith and Marji Van Oosterhout came for the weekend. Keith’s doing a Family Practice residency in Flint and is really tired! Tomorrow Larry and Kari Hembroff and their two kids are coming for five days. Needless to say I’ve been busy washing, shopping, cooking, and cleaning, but am very happy for the privilege of seeing so many of our friends!!MichaelWe got out extra chairs for some company, and Michael [above] said excitedly, “Grandma’s chair!” I think he thought you two were coming to visit again.

We’re all doing just fine (except Alan’s always tired and I’m sicker than a dog, but what’s new?)!! [I was newly pregnant with Jonathan and throwing up a lot. It was during this pregnancy I learned that if I ate crackers constantly, it would lessen my nausea.] Thursday it was a perfect day, and I took the boys out to pick a bushel of peaches and to the Huron River Park. Aaron worked diligently the whole time, and Mikey was a good helper too after we trained him to pick only peaches from the tree and not throw in rotten ones from the ground! (He only snuck one in on us undetected.) He had a ball. The boys have been so good lately I can hardly believe it!

Well, it’s 11:15 pm and still no sight of Alan. Think I’ll go to bed anyway with company coming tomorrow. I’ve just about learned how to play “Largo” on the piano for Alan now!

[Alan bought himself a little yellow Porsche and he bought me a piano with some of his parents’ inheritance money. The piano was intended to provide something for me to do late in the evenings while waiting for Alan to return from the hospital. Unfortunately, any time Aaron would hear me play, he’d be right down on my lap wanting to play too, so I really couldn’t play it in the evenings after the kids went to bed, and until they were in bed, I was totally engaged in trying to take care of them and get them ready for bed, read stories, etc. Well, as I’m transcribing this (35 years later), Stephen is practicing for his M.A. piano recital, so it’s been a great blessing over the years and gotten tons of use, even if I never did become a virtuoso!!]

My Valentine Wishes for You

Darth George TakeiMay your Valentine’s Day be happy, and may nobody un-friend you! FGJL62aTSZMgPxMcnIcgGezovgAUaviuo-cgc3HY3eyucdx7F9OTBpnmms9rvafXui87om8m_bxOaydDbBzofcr-ZGF0e_laEQASUI-00qjFS_3c3wiSpWU=s0-d-e1-ft May you take time to laugh at silly jokes (like these from Ranger Rick). -1May you have no desire to run away…and may you remember why!Rebel Circus, Shared by Amanda Ralston Underwood   May your Valentine’s Day be a blast, and may you know that you are passionately loved!

“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” (John 3:16).