Category Archives: Around home

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).

 

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

Happy Ninth Anniversary, Summer Setting!

April 8 marked the ninth anniversary of my blog, Summer Setting, and it’s still one of the highlights of my daily life! Although my primary goal in writing is an attempt to be faithful to the calling I feel like God has given me, it’s been super rewarding and motivating to check in on my “Stats” page every once in a while. For instance, this past week people from over 60 countries looked at blog posts, and in the last 3 days Summer Setting was accessed over 1,300 times. That sounds like a lot to me, but given that I now have close to 2,000 followers, it also seemed like a curiously small number until I learned from WordPresses’ “Happiness Engineers” that their statistics don’t include any of the followers who have asked to have my posts sent directly to their email accounts every day, since they don’t have a tracking system to know who has opened those emails.

Now, you may be alarmed that I’d notice or care about “how many” people are interested in my blog, since ultimately whatever we do should be “heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto men” (Colossians 3:23). You are right, and I should not be driven by human approval. However, the reason I’m passing this along to you is because it occurred to me that you might be a lot like me…trying hard in your own way to make a positive impact on your world without getting a lot of obvious response. However, beneath the surface, every good and right thing you do will add value to our world, whether or not anyone recognizes it, and it may be that there are more people who are being positively impacted than you realize. (Which is sadly also true when we make selfish, sinful choices.) Think of us as being blood cells in a body. As individuals, we have a minuscule role, but what we do affects many to most of the other cells in the body.

Feeling discouraged? If you’re a believer, know that Jesus is our “boss,” our Lord and Savior. If He’s smiling, that’s really all that matters. However, if He’s smiling, there are probably others who are feeling warmed by the sunshine as well, whether or not you can see them.

The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).

Rise Up, My Love (225): Learning to Love by Relieving Stress

fawn-in-alaskaSong of Solomon 7:3 Besides just “plain old tiredness,” the other major cause for rebuffing a husband is tension, either outside or inside the marriage. If a husband truly loves his wife and wants to express that affection through physical intimacy, he needs to help her deal with the tensions in her life so that she can relax and focus on him without distraction.

Isn’t this what the Lord does for us? Isn’t this the blessed release that comes through pouring out our hearts to God in prayer? The husband can also love the wife just as Christ loves the church through a similar ministry. At the end of each day, my husband and I usually ask each other, “Is there anything on your heart tonight?” This is an invitation to think back over the day and summarize what burdens us.

This isn’t the only time we talk…we talk often! Our first opportunity is during our morning devotional time, then over breakfast, and on rare occasions a brief “check up call” after lunch before my husband begins his afternoon’s work. It is surprising how loved and cared for I always feel after this five minute bit of therapeutic thoughtfulness! Our next time to check bases usually comes after dinner and the younger children have skipped off to play. (This was written a long time ago, and there’s nobody skipping off anywhere now!) We linger over our dessert and tea,  sharing ideas with any of the more adult children who have time for a chat. (Of course, I rarely allow myself dessert anymore, although we are blessed to still have our youngest with us! It is really fun to share adult life with our grown son!) When our evening chores are done, we sometimes go for a walk—an “evening constitutional” as my father used to say—with or without children, and continue mulling over the events of the day…future plans…ideas…problems. If there’s a pressing problem to solve, Alan and I may go alone, but generally any family members who’ve had dinner with us and want to come are invited, although the constellation of walkers varies greatly. However, there are definite “group therapy” benefits that extend to all who take advantage of this bonding, relaxing time of getting some fresh air and exercise.

Alan and I also wait for each other in the evening and get ready for bed at the same time. You may find this hard to believe in today’s fast-paced society…or you may think what we do sounds totally unappealing…but it works well for us. So, by the time we get around to asking, “Is there anything on your heart?” that is not the cue for a volcanic eruption to start, it is more like sweeping the last of the crumbs away before we sit rocking in front of a cozy fire. Better yet, we virtually never fail to couch our discussion (unless it is more difficult than it should be that late at night) in a very soothing exchange of back scratches and back rubs. After we verbalize what’s left that troubles us, we take turns praying together over all the issues, leaving our burdens at the foot of the cross and in the loving, all-wise hands of our Savior. Sound idyllic? Truly, it is!

Sound impossible? During crunch times it is impossible, but as a general pattern, it works for us. Also, we’ve been trying to develop a sustainable lifestyle for forty-five years and our “baby” is now twenty-five. (He was nine when I originally wrote this.) Your idea of ideal may be worlds apart from ours. This isn’t meant as a formula; it’s meant as one example of how one husband has learned to love his wife and minister to her needs in a way that leaves her generally able to relax at night. (However,  I think any couple with children in the home are going to wrestle with chronic tiredness and need lots of grace.) I also think a quiet lifestyle requires giving up a lot of possibilities for extra activities in order to maintain some level of equanimity and peace. For each couple, the formula will be unique and require constant adjustments and re-evaluation, but working toward the goal of living in harmony is worthy of  great sacrifice and effort, and having a happy wife has definite benefits for the husband!

Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.
(Ephesians 4:25-27)

A Study in Aging Beautifully: Gardenias

As I mentioned yesterday, Alan and I just celebrated our 44th anniversary
this past weekend, and it occurs to me that we’re getting pretty old!gardenia-plantHere’s just a little thought, but I have a gardenia plant,
and I’ve been so inspired by watching it bloom! wilting-roses-at-nelson-mandelas-homeDo you know how most flowers turn brown on the edges as they get oldwilting-roses-in-africabecoming wilted and all bedraggled by the time they die? gardenia-flower-unfurlingWell, my gardenia blossoms unfold like a pinwheel of pure white…white-pure-rose-africa-copy-2slowly unfurling their petals day by day until their blooms
are as full and fragrant as the finest rose. gardeniaHowever, as gardenias age, the blossoms don’t turn brown like withering roses, they gradually turn deeper and deeper shades of yellow.gardenia-plantI would like to learn to age beautifully, like gardenias,
continuing to flourish and produce fruit until the day I die!   baobab-tree-the-big-tree-zimbabwe12 The righteous flourish like the palm tree
    and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
13 They are planted in the house of the Lord;
    they flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They still bear fruit in old age;
    they are ever full of sap and green,
15 to declare that the Lord is upright;
    he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.”
(Psalm 92:12-15, NIV, emphasis mine)

(The baobab tree in this last photo is called “The Big Tree.”
We saw it recently while we were in Zimbabwe. It’s somewhere between 1000-1500 years old, and it’s still producing flowers and fruit!
Talk about incredible and inspirational!!)

 

Chocolate-on-the-Face Mousse…Guaranteed to Please

chocolate-on-the-faceWhen our kids were little, we had a secret password. Whenever someone knocked on our bedroom door, Alan would call out, “What’s the password?” If the child answered, “Chocolate on the face,” Alan would tell them they could come in, on the theory that any kid with chocolate on his (or her) face probably belonged to us.enjoying-chocolate-mousse                     Now we’re on to our next generation of chocolate lovers! baby-eating-chocolate-mousseI know I should be passing along healthy recipes for  things that are super nutritious, but given that last Tuesday was Valentine’s Day and today is Alan and my 44th anniversary, I thought it might not be too off side to share my favorite recipe for chocolate mousse, which is actually fairly healthy as far as desserts go, not to mention so elegant that people think it’s difficult to make (although it’s not, at least not the way I do it), and so delicious that kids will definitely end up with chocolate on their faces!

creamy-chocolate-mousseChocolate-on-the-Face Mousse

Boil 1/4 cup white sugar in 1/2 cup water until sugar has dissolved into syrup

Add 18 oz. chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate, but dark works well too),
1 stick of butter
, and a pinch of salt. Heat and stir until completely melted and smooth. Remove from heat.

Beat 4 eggs (yes, I use the whites and the yolks) with an electric mixer until frothy, then add  1 cup heavy whipping cream and whip until soft peaks form.

Slowly add the hot chocolate syrup in a small stream to the whipped mixture, continuing to whip everything together until it’s of one gloriously frothy, consistent texture. Immediately spoon into individual serving dishes and chill thoroughly. You can garnish with more whipping cream and shaved chocolate or fruit, but it’s pretty yummy just by itself! Also, this can be divided into 6-8 servings, depending on how much room you think people will have for dessert.

Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.
(Psalm 145:16, speaking of God)

Yummy Cheese Fondue for a Cold Winter’s Night

cheese-fondueBack in the Days of Hippiedom, when Alan and I were first married (long before the bride and groom registered for gifts at Target or Bed, Bath and Beyond), we received fondue pots from two different wedding guests! (That’s just to let you know how popular fondues were in the dark ages.) As a matter of fact, we were delighted, because we had one pot for cheese and another pot for chocolate, so both the main dish and dessert were dreamy, creamy, and always a hit with company (even it the company was just the two of us). Somewhere amidst the madhouse moments of rearing our big brood, having nine hungry hippos stabbing bites of food with long, sharp forks and jockeying for space around rather small and possible-to-knock-over pots poised above candles lost its romantic charm, and the pots got stored in the basement where they gathered dust for many years. table-set-for-cheese-fondueHowever, on a cold winter’s night over the Christmas holidays, I dug out the pots and decided it was high time to restore this candlelit tradition to our now civil home of high society twenty-something sons and ourselves. Fondues had not lost their charm, and so another generation is enjoying the ambience of slow and measured culinary delight.

If you’re interested in having your own fondue for dinner, you don’t really need a fondue pot with a candle underneath (although it helps). You can set any small pot on top of any incense burner that houses a candle underneath, or you can make your fondue in a double boiler (like I do), and just leave both the pot and the pan of boiling water underneath it sitting on a hot plate. Or, you can set them on a  wooden block on the table, and it will still  keep warm for a good 10-15 minutes (and can be rewarmed as needed).

A basic recipe for fondue is:

1 cup white grape juice in a pan on your stove. Bring to a simmer and add:
1/2 pound shredded Gruyere cheese
1/2 pound shredded Swiss cheese
2 tablespoons flour (or thicken to taste)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon seasoning salt (I use Lawry’s, but use whatever you have and like)
1/4 teaspoon ground white (or black) pepper

Stir until all the ingredients are melted and uniformly smooth. If you don’t want to spend the money on Gruyere or don’t like the taste, you can use mozzarella, Parmesan, cheddar, pepper jack, or any other type of cheese you love, including cream cheese. Just remember, it’s your pot and your taste! Many people use one cup of cooking wine rather than juice, but I don’t actually like the smell or taste of wine, so I use white grape juice, which works great.

Ideas for what to dip (all cut in approximately one-inch cubes or chunks):bite-sized-veggies-bread-and-meat-for-cheese-fondueFresh bread cut into one-inch cubes (the classic “must”)
Steak cut into one-inch cubes and sauteed lightly with seasonings
Veggies: grape tomatoes, broccoli, peppers, cauliflower, (anything you like as a
finger food)
Fruits: Apple, pear, grapes, raspberries, (anything you like as a finger food)
Weird but fun things to try: pickles, chips, marshmallows, olives, pickled veggies  Cheese Fondue                      The most important things are to eat well and have fun!

But he [Jesus] answered, ‘It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God
“‘ (Matthew 4:4).