Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Dropping By

Dear friends, it has been a few days...weeks...months...ok, it has been almost two years! I will be working harder to be at this keyboard with more frequency again. Whether there is anyone reading on the other end of this screen or not, I find I miss the feel of the keys beneath my fingertips and the easy flow of the words before me. So, more to come...See you soon!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

One woman's trash...

Don't you just love yard sales? I find that I get a special little thrill when I visit a great sale, one where the front-yard proprietress has a well-stocked lawn, an organized inventory and an abundance of old wooden chairs and trunks - these last two items make me stop every time! This summer, we had a treasure sale at our house and we donated all the proceeds to our school. God was so good! We had good weather, lots of shoppers, and made about $1400 in two days. We prayed for a God-size, loaves and fishes kind of math when we counted our dollars and piles of coins, and that is what He did!
I thought I'd share some great strategies that worked for us: 1 - great signage and merchandising - we laid it all out in "departments" and had cute signs on every table to catch the eye of browsers 2 - great food - our kids sold baked goods (cookies, banana bread, brownies) and coffee and lemonade and they made about $120! 3 - price to sell - we were more concerned about what people would spend, not what the items might be "worth" 4 - Be organized and clean - clothes hung on racks and when needed, sat in bins marked by size - all clothes were $1 per piece to save us having to price each item. Coats were $5 5 - Put big items by the road - these are the things that get people to stop Though we did our sale in the summer, autumn is still a great time to hold a treasure sale. I think it is ALWAYS a great time to purge those closets, too!

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Imagine a hero entering a bright city. His armor shines as he sits tall in his horse, hands extended, waving at the crowd. Children run alongside his steed, tossing flowers in his path and calling out his name, hoping to catch even a glimpse of him. For his faithful service and loyalty to the king, a reward awaits him inside the city. This triumphal procession pulses with life and anticipation and joy.

Now imagine our same hero, only this time he has been captured by his enemy, fallen prey to his foe's deception which lead to a trap. Rather than riding in atop his horse, he is bound and dragged behind the beast of his nemesis. He stumbles and falls, trying in vain to keep his bloody feet under him. The jeering crowd jockeys for position alongside the road so they can kick dust at him, spit on him, hurl insults. Children run near and throw rotting fruit and stones which hit him on his already beaten body. Following this display, only death awaits him beyond the city gate. This funeral procession pulses with bitterness and hatred and fear.

The gospel is said to be either the fragrance of life or the smell of death to those who hear it. For those who listen and believe, what awaits them is this triumphal procession of life, beginning now, but carrying into eternity where the King of Kings will welcome him into His glorious city, as a son finally come home. But for those who reject the mercy and grace God offers, their road leads only to destruction. We all begin with this terrible separation from God, a chasm forged by sin itself, but to those who refuse to believe the gospel, that chasm remains and the prince of this world shares his doom, bitterly victorious in his successful deception.

Have you shared the good news of the gospel with someone recently. Will you be there, as if with fresh flowers in hand, the sweet fragrance of life to offer? When we fail to do so, we might as well be standing idly by, rotting fruit in our hands, the stench of death in the air, indifferent to the horror that awaits them.

I am personally challenged this week by the Spirit in me that reminds me that I have an urgent responsibility to share Christ with others. In John 6, Jesus asked his disciples if they, too, would leave Him after He shared some hard teaching with them. Peter replied, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."
I am praying that God will give me many opportunities to share those words of life.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

National Pancake Day!

If it is good enough for IHOP, it is good enough for our kitchen! In honor of National Pancake Day, I thought I would share our very favorite pancake recipe. It has been tweaked and doubled and made to fit our family perfectly. Add blueberries, chocolate chips, dried apples, etc. to your own imaginative taste! Enjoy!

3 cups flour (use half white and half whole wheat if you like)
2 eggs
2 cups milk (buttermilk is even better)
6 T melted butter (use the real stuff)
1/4 cup sugar (sub brown sugar and a teaspoon of cinnamon if you are doing apple pancakes)
2 T baking powder
1 t salt
1/4 cup real vanilla (I know this is a is worth it - yummy!)

Mix just until combined and ladle onto a hot griddle. Serve with syrup, fruit, and all the other yummies (My husband is a huge fan of bacon, so I will often cook the bacon first so there is a bit of bacon grease on the griddle - I do drain off most of it - in which to cook the pancakes. He loves that bacony crispy, greasy edge around his cakes! Hey - I never claimed these were healthy, just hearty and homey and every inch of their diameter is comfort food!)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Two are Better than One

You’ve seen them in the check-out lane at Meijer. They whisper sweet somethings in your ear as you slowly roll your cart along the conveyor belt. As you turn your back on them, you look at your food, satisfied with the fruit and veg on the belt and plan for tonight’s quick supper as you eye the box of pasta and jar of sauce. Still, sometimes it is impossible to ignore their siren song and the inevitable happens. A candy bar ends up in your cart. You slip it in your purse as you pay, and you polish it off before you pick up the kids from preschool. There are perks to being the grown up. One of them is that you don’t always have to act like one and nobody needs to know!

A favorite of mine (and let’s face it, there are lots of favorites when chocolate is involved!) is the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. You can’t go wrong with chocolate and peanut butter and you can’t go wrong with the sweet, two for one deal in that little package. Two are better than one. Seriously. Twice as nice.

Enjoying my treat, I am reminded of a great passage from Ecclesiastes, penned by the wise King Solomon, divinely inspired by the Living God. I believe the broadest application of the verses is for friendship in general, but I can’t help but see how it applies to our closest earthly relationship, our marriage.
Two are better than one,
   because they have a good return for their work:
10 If one falls down,
   his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
   and has no one to help him up!
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
   But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
   two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Eccl. 4:9-12

Two are better than one. In the garden of Eden, when God created Adam, He saw that it was good, but He also said it was not good that Adam should not have anyone like him. So God created Eve to be like Adam. More than that, she was created to help him. What a lovely, wonderful plan God had! He foreknew the need Adam would have to experience the close, human connection with one like him in marriage, and God also understood that He was calling Adam to do some big, important things and he would do well with someone to come alongside him as he endeavored to obey his Maker. The simple fact is that God, Himself, is sufficient for all that we need. However, He saw fit to give us others in our lives to be one avenue through which He meets those needs.

As wives, we have the special privilege of walking alongside these men God has given us and holding their hands, eyes on theirs, and saying to them what God says to each of us, with conviction and commitment, “When we work together we will accomplish much, so let me help you. When you stumble, I will be there, not to point one finger at you, but to reach down with all five, hand spread, grip firm, and pull you back to your feet. When the shadows and dark invade and you can’t see what lies ahead, and you face the frightful, swirling storms of life, I will be there beside you to help fight off the bitterness, the biting wind, the fear, the cold. I will warm you with my words and with my presence. When you do battle, and your foe is too great for one, I will not desert you. We will fight, shoulder to shoulder or back to back and together we will defend ourselves, our marriage, our family. When we go forward, day by day, moment by moment, into the perilous, exciting, sometimes dangerous world, I will not leave your side. When the going gets hard, I will stay. I will fight for you. I won’t quit. Instead, you will hear my words in your ears, reminding you that together we can face what comes. I will remind you most importantly, that together means not just you and me, but you, me, and the awesome, powerful, sufficient, changeless, Mighty God who made us and gave us to each other, forming a three stranded cord that is not easily broken.”

Truly, peanut butter cups are a sweet treat and two are definitely better than one, but marriage is sweeter, and though, like chocolate, there can sometimes be a darker, bitter side, we will stick. Like the peanut butter on the roofs of our mouths, we will stick and remember that indeed, two are better than one.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmastime is here...

...Happiness and cheer

We are officially on Christmas break and my little family couldn't be happier! Even now I can hear little hands dragging through piles of matchbox cars, or is it legos? There is a soft hum coming from the direction of my daughter, as she absent-mindedly makes her way through her Christmas carol repertoire. The fireplace is keeping us toasty and there will be cookie baking soon. Are you enjoying these precious days with your kids home from school? What will you do to help them create memories to cherish? Will you bake with them (see for a great Gingerbread Baby recipe)? Perhaps you'll pop corn and string it while you watch a movie (White Christmas is a favorite around here). I hope you plan to sip hot chocolate, piled high with marshmallows, and snuggle in a cozy spot with a great book (For little kiddos, look for Bear Stays Up, Harold at the North Pole, and Cranberry Christmas; for bigs, you can't go wrong with The Bobbsey Twins or Happy Hollisters, and for you, I love The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society). Don't forget to sled with the kids (if you have snow, which we don't, boo hoo) or take a meandering walk through the woods (why not pick up pine cones while you're at it). Have soup on the stove for when you get back inside. Chicken is always a favorite.

Enjoy these days. Relish the rollicking running in and out and in and back outside again. Pleasure in the peace of a pile of kids with a plethora of page turners. Savor the sweet sticky smooches of candy cane lips. Build snow forts or blanket forts or eat under the dining room table. Set aside the every day (you didn't really want to do laundry today did you?) and dive headlong into the childish delight in today. Have fun with each of these days. Unwrap them like a gift placed before you at the dawn of each wool gray morning.

Happy happy winter vacation! Bliss!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Wise Man Once Said...

1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

It wasn't just any wise man that penned these oft-quoted words. No, it wasn't The Byrds. It was King Solomon. His wisdom was a special blessing from God and these words are God-breathed, inspired truth from the very heart of God. It would seem almost foolish to try to mess with these timeless and profound truths, but if you will indulge me, I am struck with some personal applications. Consider it my effort to apply the truth of this particular passage of Scripture to my life this week.

1 There is a time for everything, (but, I fear, not nearly enough time to do everything! What am I missing?!)
and a season for every activity under the heavens (there seem to be seasons when there are almost too many activities under this family's roof!):

2 a time to be born and a time to die, (and a time to grieve with friends who face the latter rather than the former)
a time to plant and a time to uproot, (and a time to rake and rake...and rake)
3 a time to kill and a time to heal, (and a time to admit defeat with the houseplant in the other room, pitch it, and start again)
a time to tear down and a time to build, (and a time to do both - we are nearing the end of our addition! Hooray!)
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, (I love the times when one turns to the other - this usually means I am with dear friends)
a time to mourn and a time to dance, (I mourn with my friend, and I remember that we do not sorrow as those who have no hope. I think I will refrain from dancing, lest I cause anyone else to mourn)
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, (a time for a ground breaking, perhaps...I just participated in one recently...A wonderful new facility for the elderly, where Christian hearts will put their hands to good use loving the aging saints)
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, (it's always a good time to embrace my husband and children...and praying and trusting God for each of our faithfulness in our marriage - in here lies the refraining)
6 a time to search and a time to give up, (Black Friday anyone?)
a time to keep and a time to throw away, (I'll be moving into a new closet soon!)
7 a time to tear and a time to mend, (this is my mom's job - thanks for all the altering and fixing you've done lately!)
a time to be silent and a time to speak, (Have you heard the words of Emerson? Let us be silent that we may consider the wonderful works of the Lord? Or perhaps with words of James, "Let us be swift to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry," Lord, may my words be few and filled with truth)
8 a time to love and a time to hate, (love God, one another; hate evil, sin...)
a time for war and a time for peace. (maybe it's a war on stains? a war on tub scum? War on mildew? or, elevating things, a war against pride, selfishness, temptation, an unbridled tongue...If it be possible, as much as is in you, live peaceably with all men)

Seasons change. Here in the chilly north, we've seen hail and snow already. The leaves have lost their vibrancy and made their brown beds in heaps in yards and ditches. Our pumpkins awake kissed with frost and the last of the fall mums shiver as they raise their heads to the far-off rays of November sun. The freshly sharpened pencils that once graced school desks have been replaced by their homelier cousins, all stubby and bitten and bereft of erasers. Mornings dawns with a persistent, blaring alarm with no accompanying wake-up call from the sun. It is sometimes hard to say goodbye to the crisp sweetness of fall, bracing myself for the long cold winter ahead. This year, will you join me in my effort to embrace the changes and trust God to get us through whatever season of life in which He places us, reaching for His guiding hand, trusting Him for each step, whether they be through cheerfully rustling leaves, muddy puddles, uncertain icy patches or deep drifts that threaten to hold us cold and fast in one spot?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Grain Powered

Do your kids play hard? Do you work hard? Around here, I'd like to think we do things with gusto - work hard, play hard, sleep hard! So, today I decided to try a hard core snack for my little crew. I modified the original recipe a bit to accommodate my pantry. Disclaimer: The original called these "bars," but mine never really stuck together enough to be cut. When I tried, I decided this was more of a granola type deal. ;0) Enjoy!

1 1/2 cup crispy brown rice cereal (these are like Rice Krispies, but made from brown rice)
1 1/4 cup rolled oats (I'm sure you could use quick oats, but I used rolled)
1 cup dried fruit (I used 1/2 cup dried cranberries and 1/2 cup dried blueberries)
3/4 cup nuts (I used pecans, which are more kid-friendly around here than walnuts)
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup oat bran
3 T crystallized ginger
1 cup pure maple syrup (orig called for brown rice syrup)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 t salt
1 t vanilla

Combine cereal, nuts, oats, oat bran, dried fruit, and ginger in a large bowl. Bring syrup, sugar and salt to boil, stir about a minute. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Pour over dry mixture until well coated. Spread into a prepared 9x13 pan (recipe called fro coconut oil. I just used Pam.) Allow to set (like I said, mine never did - so if you allow it to cool, then just dig in, I think you'll be satisfied.)
~ recipe adapted from Heidi Swanson, Super Natural Cooking

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How majestic!

When was the last time that you had a moment when you stopped to truly appreciate the marvelous creation around you? I think we often take for granted this grand display that is before us, wherever we are on God's green earth. I took this picture while on vacation in Tennessee. You know how people sometimes call a place, "God's country?" While there may be places, like these misty mountains, that remind us with a louder proclamation that we have this great Creator, let's try to always remember that the evidence of His handiwork is all around us. Perhaps you hear the Creator's whisper in the stillness of morning, dew fresh on your grass and garden. Maybe you discern His voice in the cry of tree frogs as dusk falls. Some might witness the majesty of His greatness as the sun heaves itself up and over sky scrapers, dwarfing them with its grandeur. Wherever you live, whatever you see outside your window as you scrub dripping dishes or fold seersucker sundresses or file mountains of papers, join me in praising the One who spoke the world into being with the power of His Word.

LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?[c]
You have made them[d] a little lower than the angels[e]
and crowned them[f] with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their[g] feet:
all flocks and herds,
and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
and the fish in the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.
LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Psalm 8

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

It's Not Easy Being Green

What do you get when you take perfectly yummy and traditional smoothie ingredients like milk and frozen fruit and add things like protein powder and green, leafy vegetables? You get a smoothie worthy of Popeye! So, I know that "green smoothies" are not new. Earthy, healthy vegetarians and vegans all over have probably been concocting and drinking these power-packed little uglies for ages. However, they are new to me. A dear friend, one who encourages me in all good things, recently texted me a picture of her first green monster, and has since shared with me her thorough enjoyment of them. So, this week I decided to try them. I've made three and this is my favorite combination so far. I'm thrilled that I found a way to like this because, wow, they are healthy and sustaining. I really am not hungry for hours and hours after sipping one of these thick things! ;0)

East your heart out Popeye!

2 cups frozen strawberries
1 cup chopped, peeled kiwi
two handfuls fresh spinach
1 scoop chocolate whey protein powder (look for unsweetened) I actually used only about 1/2 - 3/4 scoop
1 cup almond or soy milk - today I used light soy

Blend in blender until smooth. This makes a pretty big smoothie - either share with someone or reduce amount as desired - don't save it. It is not good leftover.