Monthly Archives: April 2017

If I’m Absent in Body for Awhile…

Well, joy of joys, another baby has been born into this world, and happily this one is mine…or at least the daughter of my son and his wife!       Elanor has come to stay with Dan, Brianna, and Sameul. She looks a lot like Daniel did when he was a newborn; dark hair and C.U.T.E.! She’s our sixteenth grandbaby! If I don’t post as regularly for the next few weeks, know that even though I may be absent in body, I will continue to pray for you, as I hope you do for me.

Also, I’ve not really gone to heaven (may feel a little like it…), but I’m probably smiling broadly, rocking a baby or humming in the kitchen whilst preparing a meal (or snack). It’s a great joy to be a grandma…and so much easier than being the mama!  Now that Brianna’s back home, if Sammy needs a little firm love, I’ll have a backup! (Takes all the pain out of parenting. 🙂  )A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world” (John 16:21).

 

Rise Up, My Love (231): Beautiful Mt. Carmel—Yesterday and Today جبل مار إلياس הַר הַכַּרְמֶל

Song of Solomon 7:5 “Thine head upon thee is like Carmel, and the hair of thine head like purple; the king is held in the galleries.” At last Solomon completes his song of delight. He has praised each aspect of his wife’s precious body from toe to tip, and as his eyes feast on the sight of her blessed head crowned by billows of flowing black hair, he stands transfixed.   His heart has found its resting place in the regal beauty of her face! “Thine head upon thee is like Carmel.” Carmel, from the Hebrew karmel meaning “God’s vineyard,” is an area of lush vegetation “always considered to be one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in Palestine, rich with verdant growth and beautiful from every direction. As Solomon viewed the head of his beloved, he saw the beauty and uniqueness of Carmel.”* Carmel is not only impressive because of its lush vegetation, it is important because of its location. Carmel is a limestone mountain range that extends like a spine from the Mediterranean Sea to the southeast for about thirteen miles, dividing the Palestinian coastal plain into the plains of Accho, Sharon, and Philistia. At their peak, the mountains attain a height of 1,791 feet, but according to Merrill Tenny, the most spectacular area is the northwest promontory, which stands 470’ above the Mediterranean Sea.**            Today, the modern city of Haifa has grown up the slopes of Carmel.   But three thousand years ago, when the Song of Solomon was written, it was on the slopes of these lush mountains that Nabal grazed his immense herds of three thousand sheep and one thousand goats (I Samuel 25:2). Nabal’s widow Abigail married David, who was (of course) Solomon’s father, so David would have become the owner of these vast possessions, and Solomon would have developed a special appreciation for the grandeur of this fertile area. (In fact, they may have become his personal possession at some point, because in I Chronicles 26:10 it mentions that King Uzziah had husbandmen and vine dressers in Carmel.)   The top of Carmel’s magnificent promontory jutted out over the Mediterranean Sea, and it was from this vantage point that the prophet Elijah sent his servant to “Go up now, look toward the sea” (I Kings 18:43) while he was waiting for the Lord to send rain to the famished land of Israel. It was on the top of this mountain that Elijah held his contest with Ahab and the four hundred prophets of Baal (I Kings 18:19). Carmel was famous throughout Palestine for its lush fertility and beauty, and it was used repeatedly by the prophets as a symbol of Israel’s best, which would wither in judgment (Isaiah 33:9, Amos 1:2; 9:3) but would blossom again during the millennial reign of Christ (Isaiah 35:2; Jeremiah 50:19).   Twice Carmel is touchingly referred to as the Lord’s personal possession—“his Carmel”— which the Lord would defend from enemy attacks (2 Kings 19:23; Isaiah 37:24). In Jeremiah 46:18, it was foretold that Nebuchadnezzar’s conquest over Egypt would be as glorious and prominent as Carmel’s impressive promontory over the Mediterranean Sea. With these rich threads of historical background in mind, it is easy to understand what an expansive compliment Solomon wove into his tapestry of praise.   “Thine head upon thee is like Carmel, and the hair of thine head like purple,” is a simile that said to the ancient world, “Your head crowns your body like the glorious cliffs of Carmel which stand with regal splendor even above the grandeur of the sea. Your hair—so full and free— cascades down from your head like the verdant lushness that flows from the most fertile mountainsides in our country. Your head stands like Carmel—dwelling place of prophets…showcase for God’s victory over false idols…symbol of all that is fertile and pure and lovely. Your head is like Carmel—(spiritually: fertile with his Word!)… a showcase for his victories…regal with his grace.  Oh precious Savior, we pray that you would make these visions of your Bride a reality in our individual hearts and lives. How wonderful it is to know that someday we will be presented to you, without spot or wrinkle, as your glorious Bride!

* Paige Patterson, Song of Solomon ( Chicago:  Moody, 1986), 106.
** Merrill C. Tenny, ed. The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Corp., 1977), Vol.1, 755.

(I took all these photos on a birthday trip to Israel several years ago, except the one of me, of course! My husband took the last one.  🙂  )

Gourmet Dressing and Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

There are lots of awesome-sounding recipes for stuffed mushrooms out there, but I was looking for a vegetarian recipe that might cater to my son’s Lenten fast of “no meat,” and I didn’t see anything that looked completely veggie and still really awesome. That’s when it occurred to me to look in my fridge. What was there? I still had the remains of some gourmet dressing and gravy, although the turkey and mashed potatoes from our dinner party the other day had already disappeared. Shall I? I wondered. In truth, I’m forever experimenting with recipes, but not all of my experiments are successes. Did I tell you about the time I pureed some leftover fajitas to make chicken fajita soup after my son’s oral surgery? It turned out like baby food, and my husband couldn’t get past the look to even figure out that the flavor was still just fine! He stuck out his tongue and turned the bowl over on the table. (Well, he pretended to, although he didn’t really). He ate chips and cheese that night… At any rate, I thought I’d try using the leftover stuffing, and if it failed, I’d just not mention it. However, it passed inspection by both my culinary connoisseur husband (for whom a major priority in travel is experiencing great, new food), and my twenty-something son, whose appetite is still  hale and hearty. Of course, it starts with really great stuffing:

Really Great Stuffing 
(
serves 6-12)

Sauté the following (one at a time) until tender with 1/4 c. butter:
1 smallish onion3-4 stalks chopped celery (about 1.5 cups)  (Don’t add the leaves until you add the final seasonings, so they stay green)1/2 yellow (or red) pepper
2 tablespoons fresh garlic4 oz. sliced mushrooms
1 small can sliced water chestnuts  (Of course, you can leave out any of the above ingredients that you don’t like; it’s all about flavor and personal taste.)

Once all the veggies are tender, add:
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon sage
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt (I use Lawry’s, but whatever you like works)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon oregano
The celery leaves. (You can also add 1/2 teaspoon of celery seeds if you like.)

Stir thoroughly, and then add:
1/4 c. (1/2 stick) butter (I didn’t say this was going to be fat-free 🙂  )
1/2 cup rolled oats (secret ingredient I learned from my brother-in-law; holds everything together nicely)
12 oz. stuffing mix (Or, you can make your own by cubing dried bread…if it’s not moldy.  🙂  If you make your own, you might need more seasoning. Test it.)
2-3 cups turkey broth (or broth from whatever meat you’re roasting; enough to make everything damp).

Heat and stir lightly until everything is moist, then scoop into a covered baking dish and pop in the oven at about 350° (or whatever temperature you’re using for your roast) for an hour (or less if the temp. is higher. A half an hour could work; check it to make sure it’s browning but not burning. The dressing is in the center of this picture.)

From there, it’s not hard to make first-rate stuffed mushrooms!

First-Rate Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
(Serves 4)

1. Wash 4 Portobello mushroom caps and place them in a large frying pan.
2. Sauté with 1/4 cup butter on both sides until starting to brown. Turn off heat.
3. Mix 2-3 cups of leftover stuffing (or whatever you have left) with
1 cup gravy (or howmuchever you have left) and
4 ounces grated pepper jack cheese (or whatever you have on hand). (Also, if you have leftover turkey and are not intentionally trying to avoid meat, a little chopped turkey would definitely add to the flavor and protein content.)
4. Heat the dressing, gravy, and cheese in a separate pan until they’re starting to mix well. (Gravy runny and being absorbed, but the cheese doesn’t have to be completely melted.)
5. Ladle the stuffing into (and on top of) the caps (gill side up).
6.  Add 1/4 cup water (or just enough water to keep the mushrooms from burning; they should be producing their own juice at this point, but you can add a little more water if needed).
7. Top liberally with grated cheese (I used cheddar, because that’s what I had)
8. Cook with the skillet lid on, at very low heat, for about 10 minutes, or until everything is well steamed and the cheese is melted.
9.  Serve immediately with a few of your favorite sides. (You could also serve it in a bun like a hamburger, but it would probably take both hands to handle it.)

I will praise the name of God with a song,
and will magnify him with thanksgiving
” (Psalm 69:30).

 

 

 

Hope for All Seasons; Friends for All Time

Is it fair to have a three-point “message” this morning? I probably shouldn’t,
but there are three ideas burning a hole in my brain: 1. Please extend yourself in love to widows and widowers
(who are often more lonely than widows, since men sometimes aren’t quite as connected to their kids and grandchildren). 2. There’s a new book that just came out, Hope for All Seasons,
and I’d like to recommend it. 3. I never cease to marvel at how connected we all really are,
although most of the time we probably have no clue!

              Okay, for any of you who have time to hear the longer version… #1. Since coming to our new church, we’ve made a lot of new friends. One teaches our Sunday school class sometimes, and not only do we appreciate his excellent teaching, he lost his wife to breast cancer a couple of years ago (just after we started going to our Sunday school class), so we’ve had a special heart to pray for him and invite him over a bit. (We have several close friends who live far away and have lost their mate, and we know how deeply lonely they are!) #2. At any rate, over the course of getting to know Jay, we realized that his wife was Julie Ackerman Link, who wrote for Our Daily Bread, a daily devotional ministry that has been a part of my life for 50 years (and where several of our kids worked during summers). Posthumously, Discovery House has just released a book of 150 of her devotionals called, Hope for All Seasons, which is now available online and through Christian bookstores. I’ve ordered a copy and am really looking forward to reading it, because I love her writing and heart. She was also the person who started the writers’ group I attend, although (sadly) I joined after she was gone. #3. Last time Jay was over for dinner, we realized we also had a college connection. Bob Jones University was our alma mater! Jay is enough younger than I am so that we weren’t students at the same time, but he mentioned having an older sister my age, and once he told me her name, I realized we’d actually been very good friends! In fact, we were “society sisters!” (At B.J.U. “societies” were comparable to sororities and fraternities.) Sadly, his sister recently passed away with cancer, so I won’t be able to renew that friendship here on earth, but she was a real “kindred spirit” 45 years ago, and it was such a revelation to realize our interconnectedness. I’m guessing that for all of us—if we only knew—we’d discover multiple connections with friends and family members within a 30-mile radius of our home. We probably pass people on the street or in stores who are actually friends with whom we’ve lost contact, or distant relatives, or related to people we know and love. I suppose in this life, we’ll never fully know “who’s who,”  but won’t it be a delight in heaven to explore all the relationships we have with one another? And, don’t forget: All believers are brothers and sisters in Christ and children of God. What fun…and what a family reunion there will be someday!

“Sing the Wondrous Love of Jesus”

“Sing the wondrous love of Jesus,
sing His mercy and His grace;
in the mansions bright and blessed,
He’ll prepare for us a place.

“When we all get to heaven,
what a day of rejoicing that will be!
When we all see Jesus,
we’ll sing and shout the victory.”  (—E.E. Hewitt, 1898, public domain)

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).

*If you’d like to learn more about Our Daily Bread, you can access it here:
http://bible-guide.org/free.php?seed=our%20daily%20bread

Waiting for Baby

I’m waiting for a baby again,
But it’s not nearly as hard as it was when
I was waiting for my own, because even though I don’t know how long it will take,
I know it’s not exactly my body that’s at stake.
Nevertheless, it is the body of my son’s wife,
And for them…I would give my own life,
So it’s still very stressful, particularly since last time was more nightmarish than dreamy,
And they ended up with a 1.5-pound micro-preemie.
Still, their first baby is now a happy, chappy two-year-old,
Who might sass his mom but so far for me has been good as gold.
However, I get P.T.S.D. at the mere thought of babysitting
And every time I even think about it I break out in a sweat and imagine quitting
Before I even arrive at their door
Which will doubtless happen more and more
Because the more babies you have, the more help you need,
And even though it might be easier to lay down my life than do a good deed,
I’m pretty sure what they’re going to need are more good deeds
Rather than a grandmother  in absentia without any leads.
BTW, am I the only grandmother out there who’s paranoid of crying toddlers?
Are the rest of you seasoned babysitters and able toddler jogglers?
Maybe it comes from being the baby in my family and my dad hiring me to grade college exams for more than people paid babysitters,
Or maybe it comes from never having any time off for thirty years when my own seven kids were wild and woolly little kidders.
Whatever the source of my anxiety, you couldn’t pay me to watch kids for a mountain of cash,
But I’ll do it for love’s sake…though I’d feel more at ease spending an afternoon with Ogden Nash.

(You guessed it, I wrote this while my daughter-in-law was in labor on April 18, 2017. On the bright side, I won the family guessing game concerning what day the baby would be born!  🙂  )

Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psalm 30:4-5).

(P.S.—Actually, Sammy’s being a doll for me, and we’re doing just fine!)

Have You Considered The Case for Christ?

The Case for Christ is based on the true story of Chicago Tribune journalist,Lee Strobel, and his search for the truth about Christianity. Back in 1980, Lee (played by Mike Vogel) and his wife Leslie (played by Erika Christensen) were livin’ the dream…self-proclaimed atheists, in love, and enjoying life together with their daughter. However, their world started to unravel after their daughter nearly choked to death and Lee’s wife became a Christian while attending Willow Creek Church.  Intent on restoring their marriage to its former simplicity and peace, Lee began a two-year investigative journey to debunk the Christian myth: the death and resurrection of Christ.His research took him around the country, where he interviewed leading experts in various fields:  archeology, theology,  psychology, and medicine. The Case for Christ traces Lee and Leslie Strobels’ journey from atheism into faith. If you’ve ever wished you could believe in Christ but haven’t been persuaded
of the veracity of the resurrection, please consider watching this movie (or read the book Lee wrote). It’s also really encouraging for those of you who might be believers
but have spouses who do not believe. PG, 84% (audience score) on Rotten Tomatoes, great acting, excellent script. Nothing embarrassing or unprofessional,
so you won’t need to hold your breath if you invite someone to see it. And, it’s probably showing in a theater near you right now!  In truth, I’ve only been to a theater for anything besides a private showing
twice in the last 55 years: once to see The Passion of Christ,
and yesterday to see The Case for Christ. So, you can tell what means the most to me! Believing in Christ,
who loved us and gave himself for us, is right at the top! 

Declare and present your case;
    let them take counsel together!
Who told this long ago?
    Who declared it of old?
Was it not I, the Lord?
    And there is no other god besides me,
a righteous God and a Savior;
    there is none besides me.

“Turn to me and be saved,
    all the ends of the earth!
    For I am God, and there is no other.”
(Isaiah 45:21-22, ESV)

 

The Gift of Easters Past (…and Present and Future!)

Most of us have probably heard of “The Ghost of Christmas Past” from Dicken’s classic book, A Christmas Carol, and it’s in that spirit that I address the topic of past Easters in my life, although they’re more giftly than ghostly!                                           Easter was sweet but quiet this year. We enjoyed a lovely sunrise service centered around celebrating the resurrection of Christ and the incredible wonder of God’s delight in showing us mercy, but for the first time in forever, there were no colored Easter eggs or the fun of watching children have an Easter egg hunt, & I found myself feeling rather sad. What did you do yesterday? Did you have a happy or rather lonesome Easter?  To cheer myself up, I searched through my photos, relived some of the joys of Easters past (such as last year was with Jon’s family in Spokane, Washington), and wrote a few haikus to share with you from Easters past with Mike’s family. I hope these photos put a smile on your face and perhaps bring to mind happy Easters from your own Easters past.

On EasterResurrection Morn:   Dress up; worship; fellowship,   Hunt for Easter eggs.

On the Inevitable Messiness of Little ChildrenWhy is it each day  That after breakfast’s over  I need to bathe again?

On Asian Delights (Which also Delight Americans!)Ice cream, popsicles,  Cotton-candy stickiness…  Sometimes life is sweet.
(Yes, even if it’s “Green Tea Ice Cream.”)

Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love” (Micah 7:18, ESV).  God loves us all!! I hope that no matter what your Easter Day was like, you’re cheered by this wonderful gift of Easter present and future: Jesus! Please accept God’s gift of love to you in Jesus!If you live in some part of the world where you don’t have access to the Bible, you may not have read the resurrection story from the Book of John, chapter 20, in the Bible, so I wanted to share it with you:

 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went back to their homes.

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic,“Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.