Category Archives: Around home

A Race to the Finish Line

My oldest son’s family (with four boys) are arriving one week from today for Christmas, and this is the room where they usually sleep on the pull-out couches.     What do you think? Am I ready for company? No, I don’t think so either.   😦 We’ve been trying to update our 30-year-old kitchen because our laminate counter tops were worn through and showing spots of white and the drawer hinges had been replaced so many times that the company no longer sells replacement hinges! I realize that Christmas is the wrong time to redo your kitchen, particularly when you’re expecting 24 people to visit, but when we started this project (6 months ago), they said it would take 6-10 weeks. Wrong! But you know, sometimes the only way out is to just keep trekking, so that’s what we decided to do! After all, eating out of the frig off the floor is over-rated! I can totally recommend the guy who’s doing our remodeling. The timing had nothing to do with him (had to wait on the cabinets to arrive, and then the order was incomplete, etc.). Jeff is doing an impeccable job (just for the record).  Unfortunately, he needs foot surgery, so he’s been working long hours to try to get things in shape for us so that I have a functional kitchen for the holidays. The counter tops and new sink will take another month. On top of that, he’s trying to do some extra things that somehow didn’t get into the contract. The lady at the store said, “Oh, he can put in temporary counter tops for you!” but failed to put that in the contract, and of course, I failed to realize that she failed to put that in the contract (along with various other necessary items, such as the strainers for the sink [whatever those are] and the supplies to convert our new range from propane to natural gas)…which Jeff is going to try to do for us (although he’s never done it before), because the company who is supposed to do can’t until after the holidays, and I need a stove!!     So the dust is flying and the living areas are pretty much a disaster area!                            Will Jeff be able to finish before the company arrives?  If so, will I be able to get the house put back together so we can eat at the tables?  (BTW, how in the world did I accumulate so much stuff in just 45 years?) I’m not sure the answer to any of those questions, but I’m praying it works out! Have you noticed that doing things “right” almost always seems to take a lot longer than we think? It generally costs more as well. There are hidden expenses (not just financially, but emotionally and spiritually)…all sorts of things we need that we didn’t know we’d need, not to mention human errors in communicating and planning. Still, God calls us to keep moving forward, doing the best we can and praying for help! I’m believing this is going to work out… somehow, and I hope that if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by life this holiday season, you will also keep looking up and trusting God to see you through!

“The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the Lord. (Proverbs 21:31)

 

Ending Well and Getting a Fresh Start

        Our refrigerator has been sort of the epicenter of family and friend lore. If you’ve sent me a photo of your family in the last few years, it’s probably here! It also serves as a bulletin board and place to display the grand kids’ art work,             and when the children visit, they definitely check to see what’s up! Now, I should explain that we bought this refrigerator used 25 years ago when we first moved into Tanglewood Cottage, and it was definitely in need of replacing. Therefore, it was the first thing to be changed out.However, I have a whole section on  my blog dedicated to “The Pictures on my Fridge,” and every picture means a lot to me!  So, before I let them touch my refrigerator, I lovingly peeled off all the photos and placed them into a coffee table photo album to keep the memories alive! The shiny, new refrigerator (my first “new” frig in our 44 years of marriage) has made me stop and think about the coming year. 2018 will be a shiny, new year… full of possibilities, but without any pictures hanging on it yet. What shall we do? First of all, I certainly don’t want to neglect my family and friends, and I want to finish this year well with the loved ones who are depending on me here at home. Sadly (because I’m so limited and our kitchen is an updating disaster area for the time being), that means I won’t be doing much blogging between now and mid January, although I’ll try to keep my recipes and Song of Solomon meditations going (and anything else as time allows).

One of my girlfriends suggested that I re-post some of my earlier blogs that people seemed to enjoy a lot. That didn’t feel quite right to me, although if you’ve got some free time and are interested in any particular topic, everything I’ve written for the past almost 10 years is still recorded, and if you type a subject into the “Search” bar on the top right-hand corner of this blog, it will bring up posts that touch on that subject. I have to admit, though: The fact that I won’t be able to write much frustrates me and makes me feel like a failure! Does that ever happen to you? You have more to do than you think you “should,” so you feel like a flop? Take heart! God’s priorities are different from ours. He makes things much simpler than we do. God doesn’t measure success in productivity, but in living right and loving well: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8, ESV). If ye fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well” (James 2:8).

Meanwhile, I pray that God will bless and guide each of you during this holiday season. May you find joy in anticipating the good things God has in store for you this coming year, and may you fill up your days with fruitful service and a host of happy memories from loving well and being loved!

 

 

Jehovah Jireh: When Plans Go Wrong, God Will Provide a Way

Here it is December 1st, and things are not at all as I’d planned! In particular, my son Jonathan teaches for Moody Bible Institute, and his family has been in transition this past year, moving from Spokane, Washington to Chicago, Illinois. Meanwhile, Moody gave Jon a wonderful “sabbatical” for research and writing this fall, so their family went to Germany (Linda’s homeland) during his study break. They planned to return to the U.S. in time for Christmas and then look for housing. (Please Note: If any of you know of a small home or apartment to rent in a safe neighborhood within 20 miles of downtown Chicago, would you please contact me? Thanks!) However, Jon was unable to get  his visa renewed and had to come back to America early! We love having him home, but he misses his “girls” (that especially includes his wife 🙂  ), and he’s had to persevere through some pretty chaotic conditions here, since we’re still anguishing over issues surrounding a kitchen update (which was theoretically to be done well before Thanksgiving).Still, God provides, doesn’t He? Linda and the children are under the watchful eye of “Uncle Volker,” who has been a wonderful surrogate grandfather while Linda’s parents are gone just now, and I think everything will turn out fine. At least, I hope and pray so! But, it’s pretty unnerving to be without a home base for a long time, isn’t it? Even having your kitchen torn apart is unnerving, particularly if you’re expecting 24 family members home for the holidays during the coming month. I was told our kitchen update would take “6-10 weeks,” but it’s taking more like 6-10 months!  😦

These are just small traumas in the scope of life, but they definitely knock you off your game (as they say in English). I think about friends who are battling cancer this Christmas (one just 18 years old), those grieving the loss of their mate or child, and those who are suddenly without a job. I am sure there are doubtless some out there who are homeless and really don’t have any place to go. Life is terrifying at times, isn’t it? I don’t know how anyone copes without trusting God, and I just want to say that there is “a higher power” available to help you! His name is Jehovahjireh…”Jehovah provides.”

Genesis 12 teaches us that four thousand years ago God called Abraham (and his wife, Sarah) to follow him away from his homeland into a strange, new land. In Genesis 22, God tested Abraham, asking him to sacrifice his one and only son on Mt. Moriah, which must have taken incredible faith, since it would make no sense at all. It was a test to see if Abraham would trust and obey God, but I’m sure Abraham didn’t know that. At any rate, just as Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac, we are told, And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, ‘The Lord will provide’ [literally in Hebrew: ‘Jehovahjireh’]; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided(Genesis 22:13-14, ESV).

If you are struggling today with frightening or heart-breaking circumstances, please pray to Jehovahjireh, the God who provides. He will make a way!

“God Will Make A Way”
(—Don Moen)

“God will make a way
Where there seems to be no way
He works in ways we cannot see
He will make a way for me

“He will be my guide
Hold me closely to His side
With love and strength for each new day
He will make a way, He will make a way.”

https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?fr=yhs-SGMedia-sgmedia_maps&hsimp=yhs-sgmedia_maps&hspart=SGMedia&p=utube+god+will+make+a+way#id=3&vid=bd1376a842ea232085dc19c7d316097d&action=click

 

Samuel Has a Ball Bowling

For any of you who’ve read my blog over the past few years, you may remember we have a grandson living in Grand Rapids who was a micro-preemie. His survival was in question and the source of unceasing prayers for months. Three years later, Samuel is still almost off-the-charts small, but the doctor has signed off on his needing any more speech assessments and says Samuel has completely caught up intellectually and physically (as far as coordination and skill go), for which we are all deeply grateful to our merciful heavenly Father, who loves us all even more dearly than we can imagine loving one another! Samuel has a passion for “Dude Perfect” and anything that has to do with balls, and so he asked if he could have a bowling party for his birthday. I haven’t been to many parties for three year olds (since all our other grand kids live pretty far away), but I can say that this is one of the most fun birthday parties I’ve ever attended where a small fry was center stage! Sammy carried his own ball and learned how to roll it down a little ramp to give it enough momentum to make it all the way to the end of the lane. I’d never seen one of these contraptions before, but what a great way to get toddlers going!  We had four lanes’ worth of family (Brianna’s family also lives in town), and everybody got to bowl a couple of games, but I think we all enjoyed watching Sammy, who was so excited he was practically ecstatic the whole time!Sammy’s mother was a heroine that day, carrying Baby Sister the entire time to keep her content and then making sure Sammy was happy even when it was someone else’s turn now and then (although I think he not only had his own turns, but he got one of his mom’s and one of his dad’s each round as well).Brianna’s dad handily beat the rest of us, although her brother-in-law Sam had unbelievable power!             Most importantly, everybody had a ball…including sweet Samuel!                             He even got a few balls among his birthday gifts!  🙂              Samuel wanted a carrot cake shaped like a ball for his birthday.  The cake was moist, full of carrots and walnuts, and had cream cheese frosting. We all loved it (at least, those of us with teeth), but it made me consider the fact that Sammy is very unusual! However, isn’t every child unique and wonderful?!?In a day and age when fewer people are investing in children and more people are lavishing their love on pets, I’d like to encourage married couples who are considering whether or not they want children to go ahead and take the plunge! Sure, they’re a huge amount of work and life will never be the same, but it will be better! Through all the sleepless nights and struggles, you’ll become less selfish and emotionally richer. Most parents I know wouldn’t trade their kids for anything, even if they do roll their eyes at times and tease about it! In fact, I don’t think there’s anything more precious on earth than a home with children.

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!” (Psalm 127:3-5).

(P.S.—I took the photos from the bowling alley, but the three portraits of Samuel were taken by his mom and used by her permission. Thank you, Brianna!)

Pumpkin Pie Pancakes

If you love punkin’ pie (as we used to call it when I was little) as much as our family does, then you might enjoy this moist, pumpkin pancake recipe. I developed it in honor of Thanksgiving coming up this week. Actually, I was also trying to imitate a favorite autumn breakfast from a nearby restaurant, where they serve “pumpkin pecan pancakes” each fall. Mine turned out a little more like pumpkin pie than regular pancakes, but I think they might also be a little healthier (being half pumpkin and nuts), and the home team gave them two thumbs up, so I want to pass along the recipe and see if you like them as much as we do!

Pumpkin Pie Pancakes
(Makes eight, 4-inch pancakes)

1 15-0z. can pumpkin (or two cups of homemade pumpkin puree)
1 cup of your favorite pancake mix
1 egg
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup roasted, salted pecans (optional, but I think they really add!)
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamonMix all the ingredients together thoroughly by hand (don’t whip), and fry on a well-buttered griddle at medium heat for about two or three minutes on each side. (This is a lower heat than needed for regular pancakes, but you also have to fry them longer.) Pat them down and make sure they’re cooked through on both sides, crispy and brown but not burned (of course!). Serve them piping hot with butter and syrup…and possibly bacon and/or eggs. I usually eat an egg and a slice of bacon with three pancakes, but pumpkin pie pancakes are more filling, and I was completely full with just two pancakes and one strip of bacon. (Just if you’re estimating how much to make relative to how many regular pancakes you might eat.) Let me know if you try them and like them, will you? Or, please let us know if you experiment and find something you like even better. Thanks!

Psalm 100 (NIV)

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
    Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his[a];
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

4 “Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

Dedicating Babies

Yesterday we had the privilege of participating in the dedication of our youngest grand daughter. I know many Christian traditions baptize infants, but we practice “believer’s” baptism instead, which means a person is baptized only after they make a personal commitment to Christ as their Lord and Savior. (The closest thing I can think of—although it’s actually different—is “confirmation” in churches that do practice infant baptism.) In many countries (not only through the centuries but still today), people are not considered true believers (or persecuted as such in hostile countries) until they are baptized, but that is not why we defer baptism. We believe that baptism (and communion) do not have saving value in themselves (“sacraments” which confer saving grace on a person). We believe people are saved by faith alone—their own faith, not their parents—and that baptism is an outward witness to an inner conversion experience that happened instantaneously when the person believed in Christ and accepted Him as their Lord and Savior.However, we do strongly believe in committing ourselves to bringing up our children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (teaching them about God and his ways), and to this much-prayed-and-hoped-for end—that our children will believe in God and choose Christ for themselves—we dedicate our children to the Lord, committing ourselves as a spiritual community to praying for and participating in the love and training of our children. So, yesterday several babies were dedicated, and among them, not only our grand daughter, but our daughter-in-law’s sister’s baby too! What a very special day of solemnities and joy! Brianna comes from such a big family that we ended up celebrating in two homes afterward, so Elanor got her own cake. Being just six months old, she’d never had cake before but was bound and determined she wanted to try it…and…why not? It met with complete approval, and I hope and pray that as she learns more about the ineffable mysteries and goodness of God, she will be even more delighted and pleased!

Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him
(Psalm 34:8).

Cranberry Sauce Shaped Like a Can…or…How About Home Made?!

If you’ve ever seen Ernest Saves Christmas (and I wouldn’t recommend it for high value, but our kids did love it when they were little and it became a bit of a cult classic around our home), you might remember the line about how Ernest loved all things Christmas, including “cranberry sauce, shaped like a can.” Actually, that’s the way I also ate it when I was little, unless my mom sliced it into round, can-shaped slices (jellied). Or, sometimes she served “whole berry” sauce (from a can) and mashed it up to look more attractive. Fifty years hence, fresh cranberries are readily available this time of year in America, and homemade cranberry sauces and relishes are both simple to make and a whole lot yummier than anything you can buy in a can! I was testing my recipe for cranberry sauce on an 80+ year-old friend who was over for dinner recently, and he teased me, “For somebody who seems to worry about your weight, you sure write about food a lot on your blog!” 🙂  (Notice how svelte he still is!)

True enough, but part of good health and weight management is learning how to use less sugar in what you do allow yourself, and my theory is that most people are going to want a little cranberry sauce with their Thanksgiving dinner in a couple of weeks. Good nutrition isn’t just what foods you eat, it’s also about avoiding unnecessary additives and preservatives, using fresh ingredients that still have their nutritive value intact, and using “less”of  those ingredients which tend to cause weight gain (sugars, starches, and fats being among the chief offenders).

Therefore, I’m bringing you my own, less-sugared versions of cranberry dishes that are among America’s favorite Thanksgiving sides. If you’ve not discovered these tart complements for your turkey dinner, why not try making your own? They’re simple to make and sure to please!

Cheery Cranberry Sauce
(serves 6±)

12 oz. cranberriesWash the cranberries to remove any unwanted stems or leaves. Add: 1/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar (most recipes call for a cup, so you might want a little more, but try it first. My taste-testers thought it was fine with only half the sugar).
1/8 teaspoon salt (can be left out if you’re trying to avoid salt)Bring to a boil, stirring often until all the sugar has melted. Reduce the heat and let the berries simmer until almost all the berries have “popped” (about 5-7 minutes)Keep warm and covered on the stove top until you’re ready to serve it. (If you don’t eat it all the first night, cranberry sauce will last a week or more stored in an air-tight container in your refrigerator.)

Cranberry-Orange Relish
(Serves 6-8)

12 oz. cranberries (wash them, as above)Chop up one entire seedless orange into about 8 large pieces (skin and all)
Add 1/2 cup sugar (or start with 1/2 and test; 1/2 cup is enough for me, but that’s pretty tart; my son likes it a touch sweeter)
1/8 teaspoon salt (can be left out if you’re salt-sensitive)
*Many people enjoy adding 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans. This is a good option, but only if you’re going to eat it all quickly, as the nuts will get soggy in a day or two. Otherwise, the relish lasts quite well for almost a week.Grind it all up in a Cuisinart (or other food processor) until it’s in “itty-bitty pieces.” (Stop before it liquifies.)Place in a serving dish and keep it chilled in the refrigerator until it’s time to eat.

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