Monthly Archives: June 2017

Manpower

It seemed like it should be a snap to get that last fastener hooked under the seat, but Linda spent about 15 minutes trying to get our three car seats fastened into the back seat of our car properly, and then I tried for another 5.  Where were our husbands when we needed them? (On the road, being heroes, of course, but sadly not at home at the moment.) How in the world do women without husbands manage?? Thankfully, I had a stroke of brilliance: Joel works just a few minutes from our home! I drove over, and in about 30 seconds, he was able to fasten the last latch for me…first try…no groaning, straining, or having Amelie grab our legs and try to help by adding her little 5-year-0ld frame on our side of the tug of war with the strap.  There are just a lot of things that men can do easily that a woman really can’t do!

Thanks to Joel’s rescue, we were able to take the girls to the cherry orchard for a lovely time picking cherries! I know there are also things that—no matter how much I stress and strain—I cannot do! But, God can!  Godpower is beyond manpower. Needing help? If you just can’t get it done “by self” (as my kids would say when they were little), why not ask God? He’s just a prayer away, and He promises to help us if we’ll ask!

Thou hast a mighty arm: strong is thy hand, and high is thy right hand.” (Psalm 89:13) 

PS—God doesn’t always give us everything we want, but He promises to give us what we need and to provide grace to accomplish his good and perfect will: “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

PSS—If you feel like God isn’t answering your prayers, you might also consider the condition of your heart: “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Psalm 66:18).

Buckle Up for Safety!

I’m not exactly sure what the laws are in Michigan, but I do know children have to ride in car seats, so I (quietly) freaked out when I discovered that my three little grand daughters arrived at the airport without car seats. Several options flashed through my mind: A. Smuggle them home riding low and loose in the backseat  B. Buy three new car seats at a store and rush back to the airport while they waited, or C. Try to rent some car seats at the airport. Option A was illegal and unsafe, so that was out. Option B was too costly and time consuming. That only left Option C, which we decided to do. Of course, none of the car rental agencies would rent me car seats without renting a car for 24 hours, but I saved $50 for insurance by leaving the car parked on the lot and just using the car seats in my car.

This morning bright and early I returned the car seats to the rental agency at the airport while the children slept, and all was well! (We had some car seats in our attic, which Joel got down for me last night, but he had been at work when the girls arrived, and I don’t have the arm strength to climb into our attic.) In a way, it seemed like a big expense (over $100) for a 20-minute trip home, but it was the right decision, even though it was costly.

I’ve never been in a serious accident, but what if yesterday I had been, and one of the children got injured? I would never forgive myself! What if I’d been stopped by the police? I have no clue what would have happened, but I’m sure the fine would have exceeded $100, and I might have ended up in jail…definitely an ignominious way to end a family vacation!!

There are times in life when for some reason (maybe even a simple misunderstanding) we end up in a tight spot and are tempted to cut some corner or take some risk we know we shouldn’t. Our well being, integrity, and reputation are worth more than our money. May we always remember that!

Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour.” (Ecclesiastes 10:1)

July: A Patchwork Quilt of Little Thoughts

This morning at 4:30 am I sent my husband off on a grand adventure to Spokane, Washington, where he’s going to be helping our son Jonathan drive all his “worldly goods” in a moving van (with his car on a dolly) back to GR.  Jon has just been appointed as the director for Moody Bible Institute’s new Center for Global Theological Education, so his family is moving from the West Coast to Chicago (but via Grand Rapids and Germany, where they’ll be spending his sabbatical between now and January 1, 2017).  Meanwhile, back at Tanglewood Cottage (our house), all Jon’s “worldly treasures” (i.e. his wife, Gerlinde, and their three darling, preschool-age daughters) are in the air flying eastward to Grand Rapids.  Sooooo, I’m rushing about stocking the fridge and freshening up the house in preparation for Gerlinde’s arrival this afternoon. We will all be together here for the month of July before they head to Germany for the fall semester. I am super excited to see them, but I’m sharing all this to say that—although my head is swimming with things I want to share from the past weeks—        such as how impressive Venice looks sailing through the Grand Canal,  or how much fun we had on our last birthday club outing to the Living History Museum in White Hall, Michigan,                     or how amazing the new Cypress Unit is at Pine Rest,                    where we attended the dedication and reception last night…                               As happy and exciting as life is right now,  I am anticipating being a full-time grandma (“Nana”) and mother for the next weeks, and as such, my blogging time will be reduced to little bits and pieces.  Therefore, if I don’t post often, or if my posts have approximately zero to one photos attached, know that this is “the best” I have to offer at this point…perhaps just a patchwork of little thoughts.  It reminds me of something I learned as a young mother, when my personal quiet times of meditation and prayer were often interrupted by needy infants.  I read somewhere that our prayers to our beloved heavenly father don’t have to be a like a big, ornate blanket.  God knows our hearts and our needs, and He appreciates quilts too…simple moments of time when we lift our hearts to praise while nursing an infant…or when we  send up little (or HUGE) requests for grace while struggling to keep calm and mother on in the midst of messes.  Whatever you’re doing this July, I pray that you’ll be busy practicing the presence of God, as I also hope to be doing. May we find peace and rest in His presence, and may God bless you on your spiritual journey!

Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits,
even the God of our salvation
” (Psalm 68:19).  O prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him. So will I sing praise unto thy name for ever, that I may daily perform my vows” (Psalm 61:7-8).

Why I Loved our Cruise on the MSC Sinfonia

Believe it or not, cruising is not only exotic and amazing,  it’s sometimes one of the most economical ways to travel.  I became enamored with cruising about 20 years ago when I found a 10-day cruise of the French Polynesian Islands for $400 per person ($40 per day). Considering a cruise provides room, board, and transportation,  if you patiently watch for sales,  it can often compete favorably with other types of vacations.  For instance, once (just to prove my point), I spent less per day  on a Caribbean cruise than Alan spent planning a week vacation in Florida.  Recently, a friend seemed embarrassed to admit  that he was taking his wife on a cruise for their 25th anniversary,  I’m guessing because he assumed I’d think that was too extravagant.  But, the fact is, it you’re willing to get a sell-out deal for an inside cabin,  it’s very likely going to cost you less than flying wherever, renting a car,  staying in motels, and eating in restaurants.  Just sayin’…  With that intro, I want to tell you about the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) Sinfonia, which was our “home base” recently.  We were looking for a convenient way to spend a week with our kids
who live in Italy.  Their home is pretty much a 400-year-old palace,  but Alan has asthma, so he feared that the inevitable molds
(they have their own cave and their home is carved out of a mountainside)
added to pet dog and cat dander would be a recipe for hospitalization,
so we opted for sea breezes instead.  The MSC Sinfonia was the perfect ship!  It  has a great splash pad and swimming pools for kids,  a dedicated Lego Room  that could keep our kids occupied indefinitely,  a miniature golf course, shuffle board,  foosball, ping pong tables, a basketball court, and lots of fun activities.  I found a special where two adults could take two kids free,  so the four of us could take Mike and Grace’s four kids free!  Our grand daughters were truly ideal bunk mates  (not so sure about the two little boys,
who might have kept their parents up at times…).  Our waiters were incredibly good-natured and kept the fresh rolls, french fries and pasta bianca coming so the kids never got too hungry waiting for dinner.  Thankfully, the children are very industrious  and would spend a lot of time drawing and coloring  so the adults could enjoy  all the courses  of the (usually) 2-hour formal dinners each evening.  The ports were also gorgeous,  the weather perfect,  and the Adriatic Sea like glass.  In all, it was a pretty much ideal experience… or at least as smooth sailing as possible… with little ones.  So, if you’re looking for an easy way to maximize your bonding time  while minimizing your work time,  don’t totally discount cruising.  (One point of warning: We always watched the kids like hawks to make sure they didn’t fall off the ship from the 15th floor.) The railings are not kid safe! May I share a quick spiritual thought?  Sometimes we’re afraid to consider something because we think
it might be too spiritually expensive.  I’ve heard a lot of people say they don’t want to become a Christian
because it would be “too hard” or cost them too much. Really?  I believe that in reality, becoming a Christian is the most spiritually cost-effective way to attain the goal most people are after: Happiness, love, joy, and peace. Because we’re just human, nothing works flawlessly on this earth, but salvation through faith in Christ is the best “ship” to travel on
as far as I can tell, hands down!  If you haven’t looked into it yet, please do!

Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass” (Psalm 37:3-5).

(All photos, except the one of Tahiti, were taken a few weeks ago on our cruise of the Adriatic Sea via the MSC Sinfonia.)

The Eagle’s Nest of Santorini and the Holy Chapel of Nektarios

Oia, on the Greek Isle of Santorini, is both an area and a village.  The village is known as “the eagle’s nest” because it sits 490 feet atop  the volcanic caldera formed by the Santorini Volcano “Thera”
(which erupted 3,600 years ago) and caused such a tsunami  that some believe it is the source of the mythology surrounding the legends of Atlantis.  Oia is also the oldest settlement in Santorini and one of two harbors.   Today, there are over 70 churches in the Oia area,  and I want to tell you about our visit to one of them:The Holy Chapel of St. Nektarios.  This lovely chapel is part of the Greek Orthodox “Prophet Elias Monastery,”  which was built in 1712 and dedicated to the Prophet Elijah.  The monastery was built at the top of Mount Prophet Elias
(the highest point on the island of Santorini, nearly 1900 feet), and it originally served as a fortress to protect the villages below. For the first 200 years, the monastery also served as an important source
of commerce and education,  although it eventually lost most of its commercial and political influence.  Today, the monks engage in meditation and in making
prints, candles, shoes, and wine.  The Holy Chapel of Nektarios also hosts collections
of rare, hand-written books and Byzantine icons.  Our guide took us there in time for a picnic lunch of roasted corn  in their lovely courtyard, which overlooks the entire island.  It was peaceful and calm, and the monks were gracious hosts.  It reminded me of the Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Michigan’s U.P., where we’ve often stopped at their Jam Pot Bakery for refreshments
(like muffins and thimble berry jam…
although in Santorini we snacked on sesame-covered peanuts and fruit drinks). Also, “our” monastery in Michigan is built on the shores of Lake Superior,  not on a mountain top in Greece surrounded by the Aegean Sea!  I did not hear the gospel while we were visiting, but standing on the top of the mountain in this inspiring setting, I remembered these words from the scripture:

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” (Isaiah 52:7).

May all who know the good news proclaim it  from the mountaintops and valleys of our lives, whether we’re at home or abroad!

(All the photos were taken during our visit to Santorini while cruising a couple of weeks ago. What a gorgeous island! It has been used as the setting for numerous movies and listed among the world’s top islands by various sources, including BBC, U.S. News, and Travel + Leisure Magazine. In 2015,  Condé Nast Traveler listed it as #12 out of the top 20 islands in the world. Definitely worth a visit!)

 

Rise Up, My Love (239): Quadruple A Formula (of Maybe Quintuple B-A Formula)

Song of Solomon 7:8  As the wife of a physician who works at a psychiatric hospital, I have heard many tragic stories of marital infidelity. Once I (accidentally) caught a glimpse of a woman who had been promiscuous and attracted multiple lovers (and was emotionally devastated as a result). I used to assume that all such women would be extremely beautiful, so I was shocked when Alan said that more often than not the women are very average looking!  “What is it about these women that attract men?” I asked my husband. From his evaluation, he has surmised that it is a woman’s capacity to convey love and compassionate support that most attracts mature men.  From that I developed my own Quadruple A Formula for helping keep husbands from falling prey to “strange women:” Be attractive; admire; appreciate; and be available to give and receive affection. (I know I shared this earlier, but I believe it’s critically important and worth repeating.)  In fact, I’ll add another “Be A” term: Be active. Pro-active! Don’t criticize what he does wrong all the time; admire what he does right. Don’t be a chronic complainer, brooding on the difficult aspects of life; think of positive things to tell him when he comes home…especially about himself…things that will encourage him and let him know how much you appreciate him. (Remember, he’s been getting battered by the world all day.) And, don’t rebuff him when he wants sexual intimacy. He craves sex like a woman craves affection. Give him what he needs; don’t push him away. Forget about yourself as much as you can and just concentrate on loving him! Learn to be unselfish. (I’m preaching to the choir here!)   Do you suppose a palm tree would push away the man who was climbing up its long trunk reaching for the fruit? No, palms are by nature flexible and giving. They sway in the wind and often have a gentle curve that makes climbing easier. Their fruits yield to the touch and fall to the ground when fully ripe. (Note: green fruits don’t yield to the touch, and neither should a young, unmarried woman!) Can’t you just imagine the palm fronds lashing out at the man, whipping his head and hands, trying to keep him from enjoying the fruits? I’m afraid all married women have probably been guilty of not being very good palm trees at some point in our lives! (If I asked for a show of hands, my hand would be the first up, so I confess my guilt.)  Welcome your precious husband to your body. Let him feel the strength of your love. Let a tidal wave of your passion wash over his soul. Men need that sense of “filling up” that comes from long and satisfying times of physical intimacy every bit as much as women crave emotional connection and intimacy. I have read that there is nothing that makes a man feel more like a man than the sweet surrender of his wife. And, we wives need it just as much…even if we don’t realize it! Is it time to rediscover how refreshing it is to relax completely and forget everything but loving our mate for a while? I’ve also discovered that when I start thinking of myself as a fruitful palm tree, I even start feeling better and more relaxed about how I look. What’s so special about a palm tree, anyway, since there are billions of them on the planet? It’s not how it looks, it’s the life-giving sustenance it provides. Can we be there for our husbands?

Summery Fish Tortillas

         Fish tacos have pretty much taken the world by storm in the last decade, but so far, I don’t know of anybody (besides me) who’s serving fish tortillas.
I think they’re a perfect summer dish—and pretty scrumptious to boot—
so if you’re looking for something a little different, try this:

Summery Fish Tortillas
(Makes 4 large tortillas)

Make cold slaw:
2 cups shredded cabbage and carrots (or cold slaw mix from store)
1 tablespoons Italian dressing (Wishbone or your favorite)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise  or aioli sauce (made by adding 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil and 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce to the mayonnaise and stirring)
2 tablespoons sugar (optional, but I think it really adds)
1/8 teaspoon Lawry’s (or your favorite) seasoning salt
Additional spices to taste: onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper  Add:
8 oz. diced, cooked Ahi tuna (could substitute tuna fish or chicken breast)
8 oz. halved grapes (could use 1 chopped mango or black cherries instead)                                                       Mix thoroughly.

Make the tortillas:
Divide the filling evenly onto 4 large flour tortilla wraps
Sprinkle each liberally with your favorite shredded cheeseMicrowave each tortilla open-faced for 40 seconds (until cheese is melting)  Fold into the traditional tortilla wrap and serve. In a way, it’s a quick, healthy meal in one, complete with protein, fruit, carbs, and veggies, but you can also serve it with sides, or eat two, (or save room for a little dessert…) depending on how hungry you are! When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas. O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:3-9)        (Thank you, Bob Hardee, for this last photo, which he took in Florida.)