Friday, June 29, 2007

A Clarion Call

Whenever I am looking for boldness or confidence regarding issues, I look to the Word of God: a lamp for my feet, a light for my path. His truth resounds with clarity. Saturate yourself in His word; your mind is renewed, your faith strengthened, and you are prepared to sound the clarion call.

Sunday begins a several week series on Titus 2 womanhood; I'm the instructor. I've taught such topics for several years now. Nonetheless, I need fresh conviction. I am not content to teach the written word only; it must live in my heart, inspiring passion. With issues of womanhood being challenged on every front, I tend to lose my edge. This one time feminist can feel intimidated about facing the deception and vile wickedness of the feminist mantra. Without fresh faith from the Word (faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God), I feel weak, unsure.

A thorough review of familiar scriptures revives my heart. But I still need more; more clarity of thought to face this enemy; more cohesive renderings of concepts to formulate in my mind. How can I present these truths in a way that will pierce deception? What will help troubled minds stay attentive and hardened hearts comprehend? How can women and men so indoctrinated with such false and destructive notions be persuaded?

This battlefront is treacherous. Pitfalls abound, the path is ridden with unseen snares. But engagement is essential. We must not let this go unchallenged. A clarion call is needed. His truth must be proclaimed - boldly, quickly, and regularly. His Word is the answer. It cuts through the darkness like a laser beam (alright, alright, I admit it - my eight year old, a devout Star Wars fan, has influenced my rendition of scripture...) piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, discerning intents of the heart. The enemy's falsehoods are revealed for what they are - wicked, filthy lies constructed to wreak havoc and destruction of all God intended.

I saw this written in my notes: His creation order was intended to prevail for the good of all.

So for the greater good, by the grace of God I will search the Word and declare the Truth. His ways and purposes are so desperately needed in this broken world.

Monday, June 25, 2007

A Reality Check

My daughter is in the process of moving across the country - quite literally. She flew out last week. People have wondered how well I'm doing. "Good!" I reply in all earnestness. I'm excited for them, and am a real lover of adventure.

Their little apartment was still full as of last night. Rick and I have been busily boxing up the remaining items, sorting the keepers from the tossers.

Today the movers arrived, right on time.

And today the sadness hit. I packed their final belongings, then they loaded her piano in the back of the moving van. That was the last thing to pack. She is gone, the home she created across the way has seemingly dissipated into thin air, and their time there is history.

But my eyes had misted once already - before the final reality check of the moving van pulling away. It happened as I sorted through the bottom drawer of a dresser designated by her as the first drawer to be opened upon arrival in California. It contained essentials such as one set of queen-sized bed sheets, two full sets of plastic plates and cups, a few necessary sundries, and one other item. In the very bottom was placed a Mary Engelbreit calendar page - a sketch of a woman on a porch or beach looking at a sunset, smiling wistfully. The quote?

Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened.

What a brave girl, what a wonderful lover of God and eternity, what a treasure she is. And what a privilege to know her and watch her grow.

Need I say more?

Friday, June 22, 2007

A Time To Bloom, Always


My daughter took off today from the Ottawa airport after getting a nod at the border (we failed to have a letter of permission from the father to take the baby across) and receiving a generous allowance from the airport security (we failed to remember that the baby should have had a passport). And now, as I write, she is either flying on or waiting for the final flight which will take her to San Francisco where her husband will greet her with excitement and joy.

After living for two weeks in a hotel the settling of their new home will begin. Their belongings will have completed their long cross-country journey by truck, arriving at their house in Menlo Park, CA. A whole new life awaits her there. New church, new friends, new community, new kingdom lessons.

Danica has learned many things in her young lifetime. One of them is something every believer should practice: bloom where you are planted. Like Esther in the palace, Paul and Silas in the prison, Gideon in the threshing floor, Danica has learned to discover God's plan for each day regardless of the situation.

Esther, Paul and Silas, and Gideon all encountered less than ideal situations. I'm sure the palace was unfriendly and frightening, the prison less than promising, and the angelic visitation intimidating. But in spite of fear, discouragement, and unbelief these people found God's plan and purpose for them in that time and in that place. All believers should determine to be like this, not missing the eternal value of the moment in lieu of dreams or worries of another day. He has something to accomplish in us and through us always, everywhere. "Redeem the time..."

God will be there with my daughter in that new place; and He desires good things for that young family and the lives they will touch. He has plans that you and I can only try to imagine. She and Ryan get to be the discoverers of them.

So now she will bloom - beautifully - there, in California.

I hope the folks there know how very fortunate they are.

Recipes For Those Who Asked

For Cherry-topped Pudding Cups you need each of the following:

Creamy Vanilla Pudding
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
2 egg yolks (or one whole egg), slightly beaten
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons vanilla

Mix sugar, cornstarch and salt in saucepan. Stir in milk gradually. Cook over medium heat, stirring continually, until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir one minute.
Stir at least half of the hot mixture gradually into egg yolks.
Blend egg mixture into hot mixture remaining in saucepan. Boil and stir one minute.
Remove from heat; stir in margarine and vanilla.
Pour into dessert dishes or into one large bowl. Cool slightly; refrigerate.


Almond Crisps

Roll these cookies around a spoon handle to make tubular pirouettes or place them on inverted muffin pans to create tulip cups. Dip pirouettes into melted chocolate, or fill cups with pudding, whipped cream, or ice cream with fresh berries.


2 egg whites
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

In medium bowl let egg whites stand for 30 minutes at room temperature. Generously grease a baking sheet. (Repeat greasing baking sheet for each batch.) Set aside. Melt butter; set aside to cool.

Beat egg whites with mixer till soft peaks form (tips curl). Gradually add sugar, beating till stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). Fold in about half of the flour. Then gently stir in butter and almond extract. Fold in the remaining flour till combined.

Drop level tablespoons of batter at least 3" apart onto prepared baking sheet. Spread batter into 3" circles. (Bake only three cookies at a time.) Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 5-6 minutes, or till cookies are golden brown on edges.

Immediately remove a cookie from the baking sheet. For pirouettes, place the cookie upside down on counter or table and quickly roll it around the greased handle of a wooden spoon. Slide the cookie off the handle and cool on a wire rack. Or, for tulip cups, place the warm cookie on an inverted muffin pan, carefully shaping them down around the cup. Working quickly, repeat with remaining warm cookies. (If they harden before you can shape them, reheat them in the oven for about 1 minute.)

Dip pirourettes into melted chocolate. Fill cups as desired.


Bing Cherry Syrup (See Williams Sonoma site)


For a tasty appetizer try these!

Puff Pastry with Herbs & Mushrooms

1 package Puff Pastry rolled into rectangles (directions on box)
baby portabella mushrooms chopped
a generous handful of fresh herbs (basil, chives, marjoram, sage) chopped
olive oil
handful of whole wheat bread crumbs
salt & pepper to taste
grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

Prepare puff pastry according to box. Score both rectangles with a knife into 12 squares (app. 3" each).

Drizzle oil in pan. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in oil. Add mushrooms and herbs, stirring occasionally until cooked. Salt and pepper to taste. Mix in a handful of bread crumbs to create more substance, stirring thoroughly. Divide mushroom mixture into 24 even portions. Spoon onto squares. Generously sprinkle cheese onto mixture. Fold pastry over, creating triangles. Press edges tightly shut with fork to create pattern along two sides. Brush tops with beaten egg. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, or until puffed and browned.

That's all for now!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Excuses, Excuses

Talk about a full house! Both married daughters and their children are presently finding an abode here in the white house with the red roof - and, boy, are we having fun! Last night we hosted a small evening tea party on the porch as a final huzzah! in celebration of Danica before she leaves this quaint North Country town for the suburbs of California.

My lovely daughters spent the day with me in the kitchen preparing a couple of treats for the big event. We served puff pastry filled with sauteed baby portabella mushroom & herbs from my very own garden. Easy, quick, and Yummy! We also found a fun molded cookie recipe from which we shaped cups to fill with homemade pudding and top with freshly made bing cherry syrup. Very pretty. But most of all a fun day working together. Very reminiscent of days gone by before they up and left me for those wonderful husbands of theirs (imagine, the nerve...!)

Meanwhile, the little ones were playing in my cupboards, wandering up the stairs, running in and out the backdoor, and having lots of fun in general. In short, it looked like bedlam, with pots boiling over, dishes piling high, runny noses being wiped, and all that sort of stuff.

When we weren't doing that kind of thing, we were washing umpteen loads of laundry from all these sweaty little bodies and their bedding that had been pooped on or wet. Huh. And people wonder what housewives do all day!

So there you have it - my grand excuse for shallow blog writing. Finding a small space for quiet time in the Word is next to impossible. And surely that must come first before all of you...

Sorry about that!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Simple Does It

Phil. 2: 14, 15 Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world...

The command is pretty simple: don't argue or complain. No disputing. You know, just accept what you were told rather than debating the legitimacy of the request, or excusing the behavior being challenged, or reasoning why it shouldn't be done this way. Just do it. And don't just do it, do all things that way!

I find the promised results of such behavior astounding! Check it out - we become blameless and harmless when we drop argumentation and murmuring. We shine as lights in the world. Who could imagine that such a simple command could yield such huge results!

No one would suggest that this is easy, just simple, as in not difficult to understand. Without a doubt, God's help is needed. But the command is clear, very comprehensible. Perceiving failure should not be difficult. Being willing to change may be.

But it is not really optional if we hope to be children of God who shine in this world.

Time for a reality check. Have you disputed a request recently, argued a point made, complained about a task assigned? Let's get to it. If we overcome bad patterns in this area we will gain precious promises. We will become blameless and harmless, we will shine.

Now that's an amazing deal in anyone's book.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A Tidbit From a Picnic

At a graduation party today I met another mother of grown married children who also has some younger ones still at home. She, too, has been emotionally overwhelmed, feeling a sense of grieving and of loss at a season gone by. She said she is just now finally adjusting to the new chapter in her life.

It's always interesting and somehow comforting to find someone else in the same boat as me. It just is.

June Days Fly Away...

The coffee finishes brewing just steps away. I check e-mail and blogs near my open kitchen window, listening to birdsong and feeling cool breezes. From the family room I hear children's voices cooing, playing train, enjoying the morning. A sleepy young mom cuddles with a blanket nearby and watches. I wish she could have slept a bit more, but a toddler was anxious to be up and said young mom was awake by then. You may be familiar with such scenarios.

Two teens headed to sunny Spain on Thursday for a 19 day outreach. Their days will be filled with drama, dance, preaching, exploring, making new friends, and the wonders of life in Spain. I miss them so much already. My son-in-law is leading the team and consequently I get the joy of having my daughter and her three young children live here for those days. That is a delight beyond most, and causes me to welcome the trip heartily!

Danica flies to California on the 22nd. Hmmm. Packing, goodbyes, special "last time to do this" planning, and not enough time. Is there ever enough time? What is this substance that undoes the cleverest of humans? How is it that it has not been brought under our subjection? Why does it still rule us?

Heaven. Ahh, yes. Heaven.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Those Famous Last Words

It's the end of another school year. Have I mentioned lately that I love homeschooling my children? I adore learning together, working together, just plain being together. They are my favorite people.

However, as I step back I find that I am not happy with the quality of education we attained in the past several months, so I am considering changes. It's exciting to contemplate ways to be more home-centered once again. Undoubtedly there will be some trimming back of the out-of-the-house activities, and that sounds great to me! I love the thought of baking, organizing, reading, creating, and managing. There is no place I would rather be than at the homefront.

But how? Sounds wonderful until the hard choices have to be made.

Hubby and I are discussing and praying about what a new plan might look like. Lists will be made of things to accomplish next year, but there are always far too many dreams and desires.
What to do, what to eliminate? It is challenging, for sure. But there is no doubt that we need to refocus. The years are short. I know it well. So, re-evaluation is required.

Who would have thought that at this age I would still be getting back on track? Something tells me... may be my life story.

Friday, June 08, 2007

On the Road Again

As I sit enjoying the luxury of the William Penn Omni Hotel lobby in downtown Pittsburgh I can almost imagine Eloise skipping by, frantically followed by hotel managers and nanny. But it definitely is not quite pink enough to suit that fantasy.

Why am I now in downtown Pittsburgh, you may say? This afternoon a young man that I have watched grow from infancy is marrying a Pittsburgh gal. The big doings are here and we are happy to celebrate with our wonderful friends, Brian and Cathy Thomas, as Zeb marries the girl of his dreams. Fun. Young. And hard to believe that all these kids are this old!!

Merrick was dropped off en route at some friends' house. There he will join Jake, a seven year old, in creating a fantasy world of their own. He was somewhat excited, to say the least. As we traveled (our friends live in the Rochester area) I pointed out the landscape and mentioned that Jake lived in such a pretty area. "Yes," he agreed. "But I hope he doesn't live on a farm."

"Oh, and why is that?" I posed the question, determined to coax him into verbalizing his feelings. That can be so hard for kids and I thought this would be a good opportunity to expand his abilities. As expected, he hemmed and hawed. (Is that how you spell that? What a strange phrase!!) So I prompted again, "Merrick, tell me why you said that. What were you thinking?"

"Well, first of all, I don't really like the smell of farms." Pause.

"And it's hard to catch the animals. They always get away again." Pause again.

"And one last thought," he said with confidence. "People on farms don't have many screens... You know, computers and TVs and stuff."

Well, so much for wondering if he could verbalize his feelings and thoughts. No trouble there. Nope. He's thinking, for sure...

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Four young people are playing a card game in passenger seats as our van bumps along the four lane highway leading us home from our NYC excursion. A fifth young man looks on or watches the cars passing beside him. The vehicle directly in front of us holds several more students and the 15 passenger church van trailing behind is almost full to capacity.

The CFA class trip of 2007 is completed. Let’s see here. What have we done? We have taken in Times Square more than once, including a Sunday morning service at David Wilkerson’s Times Square Church; watched The Pirate Queen, a new Broadway show; had Starbucks treats too often (two times too many for this patron); jumped the waves at Jones Beach and enjoyed a “Tuesday, by the sea” where the food tasted so much better “cause it’s covered with sand”; kicked up our heels at Swing 46, a jazz club catering to the swing dance crowd; and dined at Ellen’s Stardust Diner where the kids all sang a High Button Shoes tune for the future stars of Broadway – just to list a few of our doings.

This is always a fun trip. In my estimation, it is hard to miss with NYC, even if you only stroll the streets. As Alan Daniels commented to me while I directed his attention to some great architecture reaching up into the sky, “The great thing about NY is that you see something new every time you come here.” True. Absolutely true.

The kids and chaperones discussed the delights of worship in a different church and the challenge the man of God presented. We critiqued the musical theater experience; they showed great insight in their observations. We laughed a great deal, shared drinks and pizzas, and escorted one another as we ventured in various directions. This is my conclusion: there are no other kids I would rather take to NYC. CFA students are the best. Really, they are.

If you ever get the chance to chaperone this crew, jump at it. You will gain so much more than you give.


*Edit later that evening

Upon answering her question regarding my favorite part of our trip, my eyes filled with tears as I honestly said that walking with the kids and just being together was the best thing. Earlier I had asked her about Grandma's birthday which was celebrated while I was away. Tears filled my eyes then as well as she told me how special it was. I felt a bit foolish in both instances, even though they are my daughters. They just smiled, knowing that good ol' mom is quite the sentimental lady. But still, I wish I wouldn't get so emotional.

When I love people I get a bit teary when talking about them. Oh, well. Some of us just have to be those types. Guess around here, I'm one of them!