Over the past few months, we’ve experienced some epic changes, not only around our home, but in our family and at Alan’s office. I’ll work backwards, since the first epic change occurred at Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services, where Alan works. After months of intensive planning and preparation, the entire hospital system (which is now one of the largest free-standing psychiatric hospitals in the U.S.) switched over their medical records to Epic Systems Corporation, a software company that holds the records for some 64% of all the patients in America. It was truly an “Epic” change…hugely expensive, hugely difficult, but also hopefully hugely helpful in better caring for their patients. The second (although tiny) epic change was the addition of a new baby in our family! Little Marius joined Michael and Grace’s family at their villa in Italy in July. I was blessed to be with them during this precious time, made particularly epic for me because I ended up caring for their four older children solo for a few days…a first for me in my 12-year grandma-ing career. Grace ended up back in the hospital for several days (she is fine now), and in Italy they wouldn’t allow the baby to stay unless Michael also stayed to care for him! The last epic change I’ll report (although there are still more) is happening as I write: the addition of a new sun room onto our home. Talk about digging and grubbing in the dirt! The view out the window is thrilling and intimidating…so much so that we gave up an opportunity to have our son Jon’s family visit for fear of their three little girls getting inadvertently injured by falling into the pit or being run over by some monstrous machine. One day there was such a thunderous impact from workers removing concrete abutments that a music box fell off the mantle inside! Lots of jolts and jars…concrete and mud sprayed all over our music gear in the basement when a plastic drape fell, etc! Beyond these changes for us, we have two close friends who are in epic battles with cancer right now…one friend who was in the hospital for three weeks, and another couple who needed to move from their (his) home of 60 years into a condo. It feels a little the earth is quaking under my feet, not just in my home, but in my heart! How are you doing? Are you also experiencing epic changes in your life? If so, may I comfort you with this prayer by Henri J.M. Nouwen? “Dear Lord, Today I thought of the words of Vincent van Gogh: ‘It is true there is an ebb and flow, but the sea remains the sea.’ You are the sea. Although I experience many ups and down in my emotions and often feel great shifts and changes in my inner life, you remain the same. Your sameness is not the sameness of a rock, but the sameness of a faithful lover. Out of your love I came to life, by your love I am sustained, and to your love I am always called back. There are days of sadness and days of joy; there are feelings of guilt and feelings of gratitude; there are moments of failure and moments of success; but all of them are embraced by your unwavering love. . . .” “O Lord, sea of love and goodness, let me not fear too much the storms and winds of my daily life, and let me know there is ebb and flow but the sea remains the sea. Amen.” (—from A Cry for Mercy).“Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength” (Isaiah 40:28-29). (I just spent 5 weeks in Europe, partly in Michael and Grace’s “castle in a cave,” and partly on a 3-week cruise of the North Sea, Iceland, and Norway. Hopefully, next week I’ll start recounting tales from these wonderful weeks of adventure! Meanwhile, God bless you! I pray for everyone who reads my blogs, that you will find all your needs met in God, our heavenly Father, and Jesus Christ, our Lord!)
Posted in Activities in the Greater Grand Rapids Area, Around home, Castle in a Cave, Encouragements for Living, Family News, Grandchildren, The Armstrong Archives
Tagged Battling cancer, Epic changes, Epic Systems Corporation, Henry Nouwen, Isaiah 40:28-29, The difficulty of transformation, Vincent van Gogh
Just in case you’re bored this summer or need a few jokes for kids…
1. ARBITRAITOR A cook that leaves Arby’s to work at McDonald’s
2. BERNADETTE The act of torching a mortgage
3. BURGLARIZE What a crook sees through
4. AVOIDABLE What a bullfighter tries to do
5. EYEDROPPER Clumsy ophthalmologist
6. CONTROL A short, ugly inmate
7. COUNTERFEITER Workers who put together kitchen cabinets
8. ECLIPSE What an English barber does for a living
9. LEFT BANK What the bank robbers did when their bag was full of money
10. HEROES What a man in a boat does
11. PARASITES What you see from the Eiffel Tower
12. PARADOX Two physicians
13. PHARMACIST A helper on a Farm
14. POLARIZE What penguins see through
15. PRIMATE Remove your spouse from in front of TV
16. RELIEF What trees do in the spring
17. RUBBERNECK What you do to relax your wife
18. SELFISH What the owner of a seafood store does
19. SUDAFED Brought litigation against a government official
20. PARADIGMS Twenty Cents
“Thou hast set all the borders of the earth:
thou hast made summer and winter
” (Psalm 74:17).
“The ants are a people not strong,
yet they prepare their meat in the summer” (Proverbs 30:25).
If you love The Sound of Music as much as I do, then there are probably times when some of the musical’s lyrics pop into your head, and that’s what’s been playing in my brain for the past nine months, ever since my daughter-in-law Grace told me that she was pregnant. “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” is the song, but with slightly altered lyrics, because Alan and I have sixteen beautiful grandchildren and are now looking forward to a seventeenth very soon! Mike and Grace are expecting their fifth baby at the end of July. Grace’s mom graduated to glory when Grace was a young teenager, so I’ve had the special privilege of being first on call when they have a new baby. This means I will have been to Philadelphia, Germany, Hawaii, South Korea, and now Italy in the last 11 years! I am overjoyed, but as you might guess, this also means I won’t have time to write much for awhile. If I don’t post, or if I just post a photo and a few lines, know that I’m in my glory enjoying some of life’s best moments and may not have much to say until after Labor Day. I mean, not only Grace’s day of labor, but America’s Labor Day, which is September 3. Meanwhile, God bless you! May you continue with joy on your pilgrimage through this world. I will be trying to follow Jesus. I hope that is your aspiration as well!
“But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children; To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them”(Psalm 103:17-18).
(P.S.—My son, “Major Michael Armstrong” is not the one with bells ringing over his head. This photo was taken by the wife of the guy with the smooch! My son is really the man on the extreme right side of the photo, and it was taken at a recent graduation from yet another training program which will qualify him for possible promotion.)
One of the things Alan and I especially appreciate about traveling is the opportunity to experience new dishes and flavor combinations. On our recent cruise through the Panama Canal, we tried all kinds of good desserts, but our hands-down favorite was a rhubarb crumble that had huge black cherries in it. I’ve long loved rhubarb-strawberry pie, but this was even more scrumptious, and with a little practice, I think I’ve re-created a worthy facsimile thereof !
Rhubarb and Black Cherry Crumble
(serves 8-12, depending on how much ice cream you add!)
Start with 5 stalks of fresh, bright red rhubarb. Wash them, and cut off the ends. Chop the rhubarb into small pieces and spread them into the bottom of an 9X12″ baking dish.Add 1 15-16-ounce can black cherries with the juice.In a separate dish, thoroughly cream together:
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter (or margarine).
Next, mix in by hand:
1.33 cups flourSpread this mixture evenly over the fruit. It will be a little lumpy, but that’s okay!Bake in the oven at 350°F. for 45 minutes or until bubbly and turning slightly golden brown on top. (Don’t over bake it!)Serve it hot (or at least warm) with a big scoop of ice cream. Even my grand children loved this one, so you know it’s sweet and gooey! 🙂
“O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for his mercy endures for ever.”
1 Chronicles 16:34.
Posted in Around home, Central American Adventures, Cooking Can Be Fun!, Grandchildren, Recipes, Travels Around the World
Tagged 1 Chronicles 16:34, Favorite desserts on the Norwegian Star, Making rhubarb taste great!, Recipe for the Best ever Rhubarb crumble, Recipe with black cherries, Rhubarb and Black Cherry Crumble
Happy Spring to you!! We celebrated spring and Cindi’s birthday yesterday, which was so much fun that I wanted to share right away in case any of you living in the GR area might be interested in going to the Sugarbush Festival at Blandford Nature Center tomorrow (March 24, 2018) where they’ll be making maple syrup, etc! Also, this coming week would be an ideal time to take your kids
to the Critter Barn in Zeeland, MI, during spring break because they have all sorts of babies being birthed, and if you show up at feeding time, they may even let you give the baby goats a bottle of warm milk! (This may depend on how many children come.) Of course, being our Birthday Club, we stopped at Sandy’s Donut House for some of their famous donuts, and we took a lunch break at El Aztecas Mexican Restaurant, where they spontaneously blessed us with some festive fried ice cream and sang “Happy Birthday” when they found out we were celebrating Cindi’s birthday. If you go to the Sugarbush Festival tomorrow, dress warmly, because it’s only supposed to be a high of 39°F, but there are lots of things to see outside and some lovely nature walks. Also, think about stopping at Sandy’s for a donut on your way, or maybe serving pancakes and syrup at home first, because there isn’t a pancake breakfast there. However, they did let us taste the syrup,
and you’ll be able to buy some yummy maple syrup cotton candy or other treats! If you decide to go the Critter House, I’d recommend going in the next few weeks while the mothers are birthing, and call ahead to see what time the next feeding will be. Be sure to wear clothes you don’t mind getting a little warm milk on,
because even kids will be kids…but it’s well worth the spilled milk! I’d never in all my years fed a baby goat before, and it was so much fun!One of the things I love best about our Birthday Club (and about life), is that we’re never too old to try new things, experience new joys and find new beauties. Are you trying new adventures? Keep exploring! The world is full of good things!
“The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord” (Psalm 33:5).
“He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord” (Psalm 40:3).
Posted in Activities in the Greater Grand Rapids Area, Adventures, Aging and Retirement Issues, Birthday Club, Critters, Friendship, Grandchildren, Local News, Nature Studies, Parks, Seasonal Pictures
Tagged Baby kids getting fed from milk bottles, Critter Barn in Zeeland MI, El Aztecas Mexican Restaurant of Allendale MI, Great ideas for spring break in Grand Rapids MI, Our birthday club having fun, Psalm 33:5, Psalm 40:3, Sandy's Donut Shop in Grand Rapids MI, Sugarbush at Blandford Nature Center in Allendale MI, You're never too old to learn and have fun!