Family Flock arriving!

One of the curious surprises of this summer has been watching four families of Canada geese rearing their families on our lake. In this first photo (if you can see well enough), you’ll notice one goose out in front with four other families coming along behind. One couple has five goslings; one pair has four goslings, and two pairs each have three goslings. I don’t know the facts, but they get along so well and travel as a group, so in my imagination, they are one big family.

The fascinating thing to me is that the family of geese are exactly representative of our four oldest children, all of whom live out of town, but all of whom are (or will be) visiting us this summer. One couple has 5, one couple has 4, and two couples each have 3 children. If I imagine Alan out in front, as the old patriarch, these geese are the perfect picture of our family!! It seems too exact to be coincidental, and so I watch them with even more interest than I might normally, wondering just what lessons the Lord might teach me.

Pair of Mute Swans

This is the first year in my memory that we have had so many Canada geese. For years, a pair of mute swans reigned supreme. They looked absolutely peaceful and regal, but in fact they were territorially challenged and wouldn’t share the lake with the geese, routinely driving them away as effectively as they could.

After twenty years of monarchy, the swans have died (I think), and none of their cygnets have come back with new mates, so the Canada geese are now free to claim summer campsites wherever they please on the lake. Similarly, here at Tanglewood Cottage, we’ve already had the pleasure of a visit from Aaron, his wife, and their four sons, so we’re off and running!

Our second son, Michael, and his family of five will be visiting too, and when they come, the house will ring with the voices of merry children . . . not unlike the sometimes boisterous calls of the geese on our lake!

Our third son’s family of three will be visiting too, so you can imagine the joyous chaos!

Our daughter, with her family of three, will visit a bit later, so we won’t be able to enjoy them all at exactly the same time, but we will definitely be experiencing a lot of action between now and the end of summer!

Favorite activities include swimming,

boating, campfires, fishing off the dock,

and exploring in the woods.

And, of course, a lot of good eating!

We’ll be exhausted by the time they leave,

but also completely disconsolate that they have to go!

If you have grandchildren, I’m sure you know what I mean! I used to feel like swarm of locusts or a tornado blowing through our parents’ homes when our seven kids were little and we visited. Still, Alan’s mother would write soon to say she hadn’t had the heart to wipe off the tiny fingerprints from her windows just yet. 🙂

I think with all the company, I may not be a very good correspondent blogger until the flocks have come and gone, but I’ll be treasuring up good memories to share, and I hope you’ll be storing up happy times . . . perhaps with your families too!

Enjoy these precious times with loved ones! If you’re young, help your parents, will you? If you’re old (like me), remember that children are of infinitely greater value than any material possession.

Whether you’re the grandparent, parent, or part of the youngest generation, let’s all pray for each other, determine to love each other no matter what, and take pleasure in all the chaotic ups and downs of sharing real life together!

I think time passes more quickly than we realize, and the time to love and invest in our kids is now. Today. This summer! This year. Life is fleeting, and before we know it, our kids will grow up and move away . . . or our grandchildren will grow up and not be able to visit because they have summer jobs.

I am so excited to have all four families coming to visit us this summer, and if I am very, very blessed, perhaps Alan and I will live long enough to have them all come again! But, if not, I want to make the most of every moment of this summer, and I hope you will too! God bless you!

How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God!
therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.”
(Psalm 36:7)

Fresh Strawberry Pie for Brianna and Alan’s 369th Birthday!

Every family has a few unique “fun facts,” and one of my favorites in our family is that our oldest son was born on my birthday and our youngest daughter-in-law was born on my husband’s birthday! So, we’re often privileged to share a birthday party. This year was Brianna’s 36th and Alan’s 69th, so together they’ve lived 105 years . . . but it was also fun to arrange the candles so that it looked like even longer! 🙂 Fresh strawberry pie has been one of Alan’s favorite birthday desserts since early in our marriage, so I thought you might enjoy making it too.

Fresh Strawberry Pie
(Feeds 1, or possibly 8-9 🙂 )

I forgot to photo making the pie shell, I think because I’ve written it up before, but in case you don’t have a favorite recipe yet, here’s mine:

One 10-inch Baked Pie Shell

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine:
1.5 cups flour
2/3 cup Crisco (or other vegetable shortening)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cold water.
3. Mix until a ball forms. Roll out (I always roll it out on top of some saran wrap so I can get it off the counter and into the pie plate in one piece, but you have to flip the crust over so the saran ends up on top and can be pulled off. Also, if the saran slides around, put a few drops of water on the counter underneath the wrap to make it stay in place.)
4. Arrange the crust in the pan, flute the edges, prick some holes in the bottom with a fork, and bake in a hot oven for 12 minutes or until it’s starting to turn a golden brown on the edges. Let it cool on the counter while you make the filling.

Strawberry Glaze

1. In a saucepan, stir together until completely blended:
1 cup sugar
¼ cup corn starch
2. Next, add:
2 cups water
1 three-oz. package of strawberry jello powder
3. Heat, stirring almost constantly, until it bubbles, thickens, and clarifies

Let it cool to room temperature, and then add:
1 cup fresh strawberry jam or fresh freezer jam
2 pounds or 2 quarts hulled but whole strawberries (about 5-6 cups)

Coat the berries completely, then gently fill the pie shell. The berries can be heaped quite high, depending on how many strawberries you’ve got and how big your pie shell is. (I’ve made it without the jam, but it really does add to the overall flavor if you have some available. Just follow the directions on the package, but you may want to have made the jam beforehand. I tend to buy the berries when they go on sale about once a year for $0.99 a quart and make my year’s supply in May.)

Chill thoroughly in refrigerator, and then, just before you serve it top with:

 1.5 cups heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar, whipped together until medium peaks form

If you serve it right away and the peaks aren’t too stiff, it may turn out like this, but nobody seemed to fuss!

May you live long and celebrate many, many, many happy birthdays!

When they are old, they will still produce fruit; they will be healthy and ·fresh [green; verdant]” (Psalm 92:14, EXB “Expanded Bible”).

Spring Beauty All Around!

This is the time of year when everything bursts
into glorious song and bloom!

Every day there is something new and splendid popping up.

The rebirth of life in springtime is both
majestic and mysterious!

It seems like just a few weeks ago the geese were waiting impatiently
for water to open up.

And now, there are fuzzy goslings and ducklings
coming ashore for breakfast every morning here at Tanglewood Cottage!

Robins are busy rearing their broods,

and a parade of exquisite song birds (like this rose-breasted grosbeak)
come to our feeder every day!

This sassy Baltimore oriole, for some reason, even seems determined
to figure out a way to get inside and keeps attacking my window pane!

Turtles of all sizes and stripes emerge and sunbathe in our swamp.

This phenomenon isn’t just local, either!

Our grandchildren in Belgium found their forests
dotted with tiny woodland anemones

and later covered with bright bluebells!

Our California grandchildren discovered southern hills
covered with bright orange poppies,

and alive with glowing colors from all kinds of beautiful wildflowers!

Some might say this all happened by chance, but I read recently (in a very technical but nevertheless awesome book called Signature in the Cell by Stephen C. Meyer) that there’s not one chance in something like 10 to the 40,000th power that a DNA cell would develop by chance. In other words, even if the world is billions and billions of years old, it’s less likely that the squirrel breaking into my bird feeder spontaneously evolved over eons of time than it is that the bird feeder itself spontaneously evolved!

How did all this incredibly brilliant and intricate beauty come to be? I believe it was by “intelligent design,” not chance, and that the Mastermind behind the intelligent design is none other than our Almighty God! “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1, ESV).

There is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist” (1 Corinthians 8:6, ESV).

Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created” (Revelation 4:11, ESV).

“For the Beauty of the Earth”
(—Folliott Sandfor Pierpoint, 1864, Public Domain)

1 For the beauty of the earth,
for the glory of the skies,
for the love which from our birth
over and around us lies.

Refrain:
Christ, our Lord, to you we raise
this, our hymn of grateful praise.

2 For the wonder of each hour
of the day and of the night,
hill and vale and tree and flower,
sun and moon and stars of light, [Refrain ]

3 For the joy of human love,
brother, sister, parent, child,
friends on earth, and friends above,
for all gentle thoughts and mild, [Refrain]

4 For yourself, best gift divine,
to the world so freely given,
agent of God’s grand design:
peace on earth and joy in heaven. [Refrain]

(All photos taken this spring by myself or my kids. Happy Spring to you!!)

Light and Fluffy Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon Meringue Pie
(serves 8-10)

My daughter’s favorite pie is lemon meringue, and so I wanted to be sure to have one ready for her when she arrived with her family last weekend! Meringue pies are wonderfully fluffy and light, so they’re especially perfect for warm weather, but (of course), they’re also yummy at any time of the year! As my father used to say, “I only like two types of pie: Hot and cold!”

Light and Fluffy Lemon Meringue Pie

Here’s the recipe:

Graham Cracker Crust:
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Place in the bottom of an 11″ pie plate:
7 crushed graham crackers
½ stick melted butter
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

3. Stir until completely mixed and pat it down into a uniform depth in the pie shell.

4. Bake at 350°F. for 12 minutes or until golden brown on the edges. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature.

Lemon Pie filling:
1. In a saucepan add together:
1.5 cups granulated white sugar
1/3  cup corn starch
¼  teaspoon salt. Stir all ingredients until smooth and without lumps.
2. Add:
1.25 cups water. Mix thoroughly and then heat on the stove, stirring (almost) constantly to keep it from sticking on the bottom. It is done when it thickens and starts to bubble.
3. Then add:
½ cup lemon juice and zest from 2 large, fresh lemons
4 beaten egg yolks (add one at a time and stir quickly and thoroughly)
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter until melted and the filling is uniformly smooth and thick.
4. Remove from heat and allow it to cool.

Pour the filling into the baked shell and allow the entire pie to cool to room temperature. (If it’s still warm, it can melt your meringue.)

Meringue Topping:

  1. Now might be a good time to turn the oven back on to 350°F., because it’s best to have the oven hot when you slide the pie back in with the meringue on top
  2. To make the meringue topping, place in a mixing bowl:

4 egg whites
¼ cup sugar, beaten until medium-stiff peaks form. Spread evenly on top of the pie.


Bake in preheated 350° oven for 10 minutes or until lightly browned on top.

Serve as a dessert for dinner, at tea time, or late at night when your daughter and her family arrive for a visit! 🙂

Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God” (Ecclesiastes 5:19). I’ve been studying “gifts” in the Bible and have been impressed by the fact that even the capacity for enjoying our blessings is a gift from God!

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).

We Can Do It!

Never Give Up!
 
Here we go again.
I thought I would be finished,
But I’m still not done. 

This was a playful photo was taken when our Birthday Club visited the Michigan History Museum in Lansing. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but I have since! My petty personal problem (currently having a little finger still sporting external pins) pales in the light of the tribulations many people are enduring. Harder still are this world’s global concerns. I’ve recently finished Elie Weisel’s touching book, Open Heart . . . the reflections of an 82-year-old survivor of Auschwitz and a Nobel Laureate. He thought that after World War II, people would learn from the devastation, and that oppression would cease, but this has not happened. The fight for right over wrong, good over evil, and life over death will go on as long as man lives on earth. Our job is to keep fighting and never give up!

Whatever our challenges, God is there and wants to help us. We are encouraged in the New Testament: “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). Some members of my family will be participating in an all-night prayer vigil at Moody in Chicago tonight. Come join in if you have time! God hears and responds to our earnest cries for help, and we citizens of earth need HELP!

Psalm 18, written by King David after he’d been delivered from his enemies, is (to me) the perfect example of how God wants us to approach Him for deliverance from troubles!

Psalm 18

I will love thee, O Lord, my strength.

The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.

I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.

The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid.

The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me.

In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.

Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth.

There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it.

He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under his feet.

10 And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind.

11 He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.

12 At the brightness that was before him his thick clouds passed, hail stones and coals of fire.

13 The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Highest gave his voice; hail stones and coals of fire.

14 Yea, he sent out his arrows, and scattered them; and he shot out lightnings, and discomfited them.

15 Then the channels of waters were seen, and the foundations of the world were discovered at thy rebuke, O Lord, at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils.

16 He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters.

17 He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were too strong for me.

18 They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the Lord was my stay.

19 He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me.

20 The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me.

21 For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God.

22 For all his judgments were before me, and I did not put away his statutes from me.

23 I was also upright before him, and I kept myself from mine iniquity.

24 Therefore hath the Lord recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his eyesight.

25 With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright;

26 With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward.

27 For thou wilt save the afflicted people; but wilt bring down high looks.

28 For thou wilt light my candle: the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.

29 For by thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I leaped over a wall.

30 As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.

31 For who is God save the Lord? or who is a rock save our God?

32 It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.

33 He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet, and setteth me upon my high places.

34 He teacheth my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms.

35 Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great.

36 Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip.

37 I have pursued mine enemies, and overtaken them: neither did I turn again till they were consumed.

38 I have wounded them that they were not able to rise: they are fallen under my feet.

39 For thou hast girded me with strength unto the battle: thou hast subdued under me those that rose up against me.

40 Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies; that I might destroy them that hate me.

41 They cried, but there was none to save them: even unto the Lord, but he answered them not.

42 Then did I beat them small as the dust before the wind: I did cast them out as the dirt in the streets.

43 Thou hast delivered me from the strivings of the people; and thou hast made me the head of the heathen: a people whom I have not known shall serve me.

44 As soon as they hear of me, they shall obey me: the strangers shall submit themselves unto me.

45 The strangers shall fade away, and be afraid out of their close places.

46 The Lord liveth; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted.

47 It is God that avengeth me, and subdueth the people under me.

48 He delivereth me from mine enemies: yea, thou liftest me up above those that rise up against me: thou hast delivered me from the violent man.

49 Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O Lord, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name.

50 Great deliverance giveth he to his king; and sheweth mercy to his anointed, to David, and to his seed for evermore.

Like a Darkhouse

Broken finger tip
Broadcasts pain with ev’ry pulse,
Radiating pain.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). For the first couple of days after surgery, my little finger throbbed with every beat of my heart, reminding me of a little lighthouse, only one broadcasting pain rather than light. I usually think of lighthouses as wonderful blessings . . . beaming out light to help people find their way safely past treacherous rocks. However, it occurred to me that—in this world—there are also forces that can beam out darkness, causing confusion and making the way harder to find. Constant pain can be discouraging, but God calls us to wrestle against for forces of darkness wherever we encounter them. Don’t let the “darkhouse” of throbbing pain drag you down. Ask God to beam you up!

35 “Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.36 While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light” (John 12:35-36).