Birthday Party. Birth Day Love

Dainty little girl!
Talks a blue streak; knows her mind,
Yet, she just turned two!

Shelley and I have a special appreciation for our shared grand children, because we prayed together, long and tearfully, for five years before Samuel was born. And then, Samuel was born frighteningly early, at 27.5 weeks as a micro-premie who spent his first 105 days in a neonatal intensive care unit. 😦 That kept us all on our knees for months and rejoicing ever since! Elanor—on the other hand—came without complications, but we don’t love her any less! She has been an unmitigated joy and keeps us amazed with her incredible vocabulary and dexterity.

Have you ever noticed how each child is precious and special . . . but for different reasons? As the youngest of five, I would sometimes worry about whether or not my mother loved me as much as my older brothers and sisters, and so I would ask her, “Who’s your favorite?” She would smile and say, “I don’t have a favorite! I love you all with all my heart!” I loved that and remembered her example as my own very different but all wonderful children were growing up.

I was so crazy about my firstborn that I secretly worried about whether or not I could ever love another child as much. But, without any effort on my part, I immediately “fell in love” with our second son the moment he was born, and the miracle continued with each child. I realized that what my mother had told me wasn’t just a sweet lie to make me feel good. It was true! Each child (and now grand child) is totally unique and lovable, but my love for them is so much deeper than any “because they are or do this or that!” I love them simply because they are mine. Period!

This inexplicable love of a mother for her children has helped me understand the love of God a little better. He created each of us, and He loves each of us, not because we are so clever or cute . . . or even good. (Despite our best efforts, our “good” isn’t really all that good!) Yes, God wants us to be wise and good, but He hangs in there with us through thick and thin not based on our being all he’d hoped we’d be, but because He loves us with an everlasting love. If you’re a parent, I hope you know what I’m talking about! Never give up. God never gives up! Accept his love! He’s waiting with open arms!

“13 Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the Lord hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.14 But Zion said, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me.15 Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.16 Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me” (Isaiah 49:13-16).

Melted Dreams

Sometimes all our dreams,
Like hollow chocolate, melt
And disappoint us!

It was the perfect day for an Easter egg hunt outside, and in less than 15 minutes Alan and I had distributed all the Easter eggs, candy, and chocolate rabbits—especially the chocolate rabbits (everybody’s favorite gift)—around our field.

Quick as a flash, our grandchildren flew around the field, gathering up all the surprises and treats.

However, to the children’s horror, two of the bunnies (which had been hiding in the sunshine) must have experienced green-house effect heat and melted down into little masses of mess! 😦

Isn’t this a picture of so many of our fondest dreams in life? We have such high hopes and work so hard preparing for the future.

We are eager and “do everything right” as best we know how, but suddenly something unexpected dashes our hopes for “the perfect” ending and turns our “high point” into a low point.

At times like this, I am reminded that every dream and ambition apart from seeking God is like a hollow Easter bunny that will not withstand the heat of life. Better to keep my eyes on the Lord and find my joy in Him! “Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God” (Psalm 146:5). “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee” (Psalm 73:25).

First Bouquet of Spring

In fall we plant bulbs;
In spring God gives us bouquets
That say, “I love you!”

My youngest son and I had a standing game for many years: Who could find the first crocuses each spring? (They are the first flowers to bloom around our home.) Although we’ve planted many crocuses over the years, between the ground squirrels, deer, and construction projects, I take each blossom as a treasured gift, recognizing that I can plant and wish, but only God can take dry, brown bulbs, nurture them into life, and allow them to grow safely into a riot of color and beauty! What a gift we enjoy in the resurrection of life—without, and within!

I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
(1 Corinthians 3:6-7)

I Believe in Miracles
(—John W. Peterson)

“Creation shows the power of God,
There’s glory all around,
And those who see must stand in awe,
For miracles abound.

Chorus:

“I believe in miracles, I’ve seen a soul set free,
Miraculous the change in one redeemed through Calvary;
I’ve seen the lily push its way up through the stubborn sod;
I believe in miracles, for I believe in God!

“I cannot doubt the work of God,
There’s glory all around,
And those who see must stand in awe,
For miracles abound.

“The love of God! O pow’r divine!
‘Tis wonderful to see
The miracles that He has wrought
Should lead to Calvary.”

Slight of Hand and Sleight-of-Hand

I slighted my hand when I was only four. The youngest of five, I was racing out the storm door behind my brothers and sisters one night, but instead of waiting to catch the door properly, I thought I could stop it with my hand. My entire hand plunged through the glass, shattering the pane into a thousand pieces, cutting and bruising my hand in multiple places, and breaking my little finger. Mom set it on a popsicle stick and called it good enough. (By the time you have five, you don’t run to the emergency department for every small distress, and money was scarce in those days.) Yes, my slight hand was slighted.  😦Over the next decades, my little finger began to drift to the right, I suppose because it never healed perfectly straight and I put constant pressure on it playing the piano. For a few decades, it just made me able to reach more than an octave, and I liked that! However, in my fifties the drift became more pronounced, because after the kids grew up I started writing (typing) for hours every day. Typing exacerbated the problem; I tapped the keys with the left side of my finger, slowly pushing it further and further out of alignment.  Eventually, my pinkie began to develop arthritis and sometimes hurt.

About ten years ago, I had a hand surgeon look at it, but at that time he told me  as long as I wanted to play the piano and type, I should leave it alone. However, just a few weeks ago, my ophthalmologist told me that he’d had surgery on both his thumbs and 2 fingers and was very pleased with the result! So, last week I went for a second opinion with this doctor’s surgeon. Dr. Naum said he could clean out the joint and straighten my finger without limiting any of my current activities.

That’s where Dr. Naum’s sleight-of-hand comes in! According to Merriam-Webster, “sleight-of-hand” can mean “skill and dexterity in conjuring tricks,” and if the operation goes successfully, I will say that’s a very clever trick he’s executed with great skill! This afternoon I’m going to have the surgery done. If I can figure out how to take a photo of my hand when I get home, I’ll add that, and in six weeks, I’ll hopefully be able to show you the finished product if all goes well by God’s grace.

Meanwhile, I’ve been able to write just a few posts ahead, so if I don’t post much until mid-May, know it’s because I can’t type much! April is National Poetry Writing Month, and I may write poems or share poems with more enthusiasm than usual, given that poetry takes fewer words to express ideas! Perhaps a slight hand can do a little sleight-of-hand.  🙂  Also, if you have any poems you’d like to share, please feel free! My email is:  kathrynwarmstrong@gmail.com

Blessings!

Kathi

P.S.—Some of us may have broken hearts that were sleighted years ago and never healed right. If you are suffering from an old injury that is causing you pain today, know that God is the Great Physician. He can do what others can’t (no matter how much they love us or may try, like my dear mother, who did the best she could). God is in the business of mending hearts, even if he sometimes has to re-break a crooked bone to set us straight!

Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice” (Psalm 51:8)

He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).

Unforgettable Belgian Waffles: History and Recipe

The first time I ever met a “Belgian Waffle” was at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York, which opened almost 55 years ago, on April 22, 1964.  What I didn’t realize then was that this Belgian dish, developed by Maurice and Rose Vermersch for the fair—sizzled at 500°F. in cast-iron waffle makers and selling up to 2,500 per day for $0.99—would sweep America as a nationwide sensation!  For those of you born after 1970, I’ll bet you thought Belgian waffles always existed, right? As I recall, they were served at the World’s Fair with powered sugar, fresh, sliced strawberries, and whipped cream, but no maple syrup. I usually serve them with syrup and bacon or sausage on the side, but suit yourself! Alan and I enjoyed similar waffles last summer at the Vatnahalsen Hotell in Norway after a ride through the mountains along the fjords on the Flam Railroad. (I doubt they call them “Belgian” waffles there! Maybe “Norwegian?”)At any rate, in Norway, we were given waffles and allowed to serve ourselves from two mammoth bowls: one with fresh, whipped cream and the other filled with a fantastic raspberry puree. Unforgettably, mouth-wateringly delicious!On cruise ships, waffles are often a staple, and you can crown them with various toppings, such as bananas foster, strawberry compote, fresh berries, etc!A breakfast of Belgian waffles is a great favorite at our house, and I try to serve them at least once any time our kids and grand kids visit (which happened last week when some of our kids were home for spring break). Despite the fact that I make them very often, they go so fast, and are in such high demand, that it’s almost impossible to get any good photos before they’re being devoured! If you haven’t made them yet, here’s one excellent recipe:

Belgian Waffles
(Makes about 8  five-inch waffles)

1. In mixing bowl, add:
2 cups sifted flour
3/4 cup white, granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda

2. Mix together slowly, then add:
1.5 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs (you’re supposed to separate them and whip the whites separately, adding at the end; this makes the waffles fluffier, but if you’re in a hurry and don’t mind the loss of light texture, you can just add the yolks and whites together here)
1 cup melted butter (I actually only use a half a cup, because I think it’s too rich and fattening, but suit yourself! If you use a half a cup, then add another 1/2 cup milk above, making it 2 cups of milk.) Whip until completely uniform.

If I’m really in a hurry, I use:
2 cups Aunt Jemima Buttermilk pancake mix
1.5 cups milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup melted butter

This second recipe doesn’t melt in your mouth the way the other one does, but I don’t think our kids take time to let them melt anyway!  🙂

3. Regardless of how you make the batter, crisp the waffles in a preheated waffle maker until golden brown, then serve with generous supplies of:

*Fresh, sliced strawberries (or whatever else you have; in the winter we’ve even used cherry or blueberry pie filling)
*Syrup (or powdered sugar; our kids prefer syrup)
*Whipped cream

*And, of course, serve with lots of coffee, tea, and/or milk

O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever” (Psalm 30:12).

P.S.—Alan and I now have a son living in Belgium. I’ll have to ask him if Belgian waffles taste even better there  . . .

Now You See Me; Now You Don’t

Have you ever had the sensation that something completely disappeared from view, just like magic? Yesterday was March 20—the first day of spring!—and while I was driving, a bright, orange sun began to peak above the horizon, reflecting its beautiful glow onto the hood of my car. I wanted to get a good picture, but to my disappointment— just as I got to the stoplight—a vehicle turned in front, totally blocking out the sun.  😦Thankfully, I was able to take a pictures on my cell phone (not great resolution, but you get the idea) after the truck passed, while the light was still red.It was breathtaking! I felt like I was heading straight into the sun! As I approached the next light, the sun was so bright it was hard to see. Both the road and sky had turned to glorious shades of oranges and reds!Strangely, after I crested the hill, where I expected to be overwhelmed by grandeur, the sun was completely invisible! Where had it gone?The sky was still dazzling, but there was no sun to be seen anywhere! Was it the angle of the hill? The signage? The evergreens? Had the road (which seemed straight) actually veered enough to obscure my view? Where was the sun?Only after I turned off the highway onto a side street could I see the sun again.

I think seeing God is like this. Sometimes we catch a glimpse—hopefully even reflected in us—and we are enthralled. We feel like we’re heading straight into the heart of God. His light is blinding, the effect of his presence glorious. His light casts a rosy tint across our sky and even the worn roadway  before us. But, at times He disappears from view. If you try to show Him to a friend, they might think you’re just imagining things. What blocks the view? Occupational hazzards and business? Angles and perspectives? The writings and opinions of others? Beautiful distractions? Veering just a little?

We can all see the gorgeous glow of nature, but sometimes the One whose presence has created the beauty is not visible at all. However, like a stunning sun rising in the sky, God is worth pursuing, even if it means turning off the highway onto a quiet street.

Honour and majesty are before him:
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary
” (Psalm 96:6).

But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall” (Malachi 4:2).

Cream Pies: Coconut, Chocolate, and Banana

Although I think of cream pies as a summery treat, they’re wonderful any time of year, and they’re fairly simple to make from scratch. Coconut cream is my friend Cindi’s favorite pie, and almost every year I make her one for her birthday. One year, I didn’t have time, so I bought her one at our local “Downtown Market”: $26! I’m quite sure you can make one at home for a quarter of the price (if not less). Here’s how:

Homemade Cream Pies: Coconut, Chocolate, or Banana
(The recipe is for one pie, although the photos are of two pies, so what you’re seeing is actually a doubled recipe.)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.Crust:
Blend together:
1 package graham crackers (9 whole ones), ground up in blender
1/4 cup melted butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamonPat into the bottom of a 10-11″ round pie pan and bake for 12 minutes, or until starting to brown around the edges.Take it out of the oven and place it on a cutting board to cool. Meanwhile, while the crust is baking, make your filling.Filling:
In a large cooking pot, mix
1 cup sugar
1.5 tablespoons corn starch. Mix together thoroughly, then add
2 eggs ((one at a time). Stir until completely mixed, then add
2 cups of milk. Stir again thoroughly. Add:
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 oz) butter
Turn on the heat to medium high, and stir constantly until the butter melts and the filling thickens and starts to bubble. I use a spatula, so it scraps a big swath across the bottom of the pan. Keep stirring it, making sure you scrap everywhere around the bottom of the pan so it never sticks, burns, or clumps. If you do it right, you’ll have a marvelously smooth, mellow custard pudding when you’re finished! As a finishing touch, add:
1 teaspoon vanilla and stir until completely blended.  Next step: You can use this basic custard to create coconut cream, chocolate, or banana cream pies. Here’s how:  For coconut cream; add 7 oz. of shredded coconut. (I use sweetened coconut flakes, but unsweetened might suit your needs better if you’re trying to use less sugar.) Mix well and pour gently on top of the crust. (The crust can be hot or cooled.)

For chocolate cream: add (while the pudding is still hot) 1/3 cup dark processed cocoa powder OR 12 oz. (1.5 cups) chocolate chips (stir until they’re melted), and then pour onto the pie crust (hot or cooled).

For banana cream: let the pudding cool down, then add sliced bananas (2 large or 3 medium). Stir very gentle so you don’t mash the bananas, then pour the mixture into a cooled crust. Refrigerate to keep the bananas from deteriorating. Banana cream pies need to be eaten as soon as possible, because the bananas won’t stay fresh for several days, the way chocolate or coconut cream will.  Last step: For all three pies, just before serving, top each with whipped cream:
Blend in a mixer until medium peaks form:
8 oz. heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar                 Serve up for dessert after dinner, or as a tea time treat!  I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.  My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the Lord” (Psalm 104:33-34). My spiritual mother used to say that meditating on the Bible is like eating shredded wheat when you’re young, like eating a hamburger when  you’re older, but like enjoying a bowl of peaches and cream when you’re old. I think I’ve gotten old! 🙂