Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A Smile For You!!!

"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning" Psalm 30:5

Though I felt pretty blue yesterday as my daughter's family pulled away in their U-Haul, I woke this morning, ready to babysit my remaining grandson and get some heavy duty packing and cleaning done. And yes, I am smiling.

Thank God He fills the empty places in my heart with wonderful friends. Yesterday, I was the recipient of comfort, encouragement and love from those friends. Today it's my turn to pass it on to others.

I borrowed this wonderful smile from a dear friend's web site to share with you today. It brought a smile to my heart yesterday when I needed it the most, so I thought I'd pass it along.

Christian Glitter by

Monday, July 30, 2007

Moving Right Along

This morning I'm a little teary eyed as I watch my daughter, her hubby and kids pull out of the driveway in their U-Haul on their way to Florida. I know I will see them again and I can keep in touch via telephone, blogs and even web cams. But the loss of their physical presence with me is hard.

I just mopped up the first flood when my son-in-law called to say they had just made it to the Interstate to begin heading south. I know he was just being silly, but his call cracked the dam again, threatening to wash away my computer...

In time, I will be busy going about my old empty nest routine. I will post their photos on my screensaver, call several times a week (daily if I can get unlimited long distance when we move...) and read Allissa's family blog. I'm sure I will share lots of "air hugs" as Eve calls them and will collect items to send care packages to the grand kids.

Life will go on. The pain will diminish, leaving albums of photos and wonderful memories of the few months they spent with us - a beautiful gift from God. I will always carry them close to my heart.
I wonder what Jesus disciples must have felt like while watching Him being taken up into heaven following His resurrection? After being able to hug my grand kids and feel their bear hugs in return, I can imagine what John must have felt like - he would have been part of His inner circle, leaning close to Him at the Last Supper.

They knew they would see Jesus again and had even more assurance that He heard and answered their prayers after the proof of his resurrection, but the loss of his physical presence with them must have been painful.

For those of us today who never had the priviledge to see Him physicallyand walk the earthly paths on a daily basis, there is no sense of loss. We know Him differently than the first generation Christians did: as the resurrected Savior, seated at the right hand of His Father, making intercession for us. Maybe our lack of close connection makes it easier to put Him out of our minds when life gets busy around us. We don't "miss"Him or His presence in our lives so much that we need to keep in daily touch with Him. We fail to cultivate the intimacy that a close relationship needs to thrive.

Lord, help me to hold You as closely in my heart as I hold my family members - to share daily conversations with You and spend time reading Your love letter to me - Your Word. Just as the excitement builds before a visit to my loved ones far away, help me to anticipate seeing Your face at last when I am ready to travel home to be with You.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Yeastless, Wheatless Bread Update

As many of you know, my mom-in-law suffers from chronic pain, mostly arthritic. One holistic physician she sees ran some tests and found she had several food allergies including yeast, wheat, chicken and eggs among a host of other foods (She has found she can eat eggs sparingly)

In order to lessen her pain, she was supposed to avoid those foods totally, then she could begin to reintroduce them into her diet gradually to see which ones affected her the most.That meant she had to stop eating bread and anything made with wheat flour and yeast.

Bread really is a staple of our daily lives and she has been craving bread of any kind since then. It has fallen to me to find recipes for bread that she can eat and I have to tell you, it has required some fancy surfing (and a lot of help from you - my friends and readers!) I've been all over the Internet and have found some variations which I plan to try for her. As promised, I will be sharing the results over the next few months.

At our local Amish bulk food store, I found some pre-made bread mixes using alternative flours. They are put out by Bob's Red Mill out of Oregon. The mix includes a packet of yeast, but I substituted a mix of baking powder, baking soda and vinegar to the batter instead to make it rise. That turned out well and she liked the results. The flavor is a little different from white or wheat bread, but tasty.

LynnRae Ries and Bruce Gross co-authored a book called Delicious Breads that are gluten and wheat free. Many of them can be made without yeast with good results. II purchased the book and was able to find most of the ingredients at our little Amish store, but haven't tried those recipes yet. Most of these can even be made in a bread machine. Woohoo!

I had some over ripe bananas and decided to make some banana bread for Mom. So I found a normal recipe and changed several ingredients so she could eat it. The results were actually quite edible so I'll share the new recipe here with you:

Mae's Banana Bread

1 cup oat flour
1 cup white rice flour
1Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp tapioca starch
2 Tbsp nonfat dry milk
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt (optional)
1/2 Cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 whole egg and 2 egg whites or egg substitute to equal 2 eggs
3-4 very ripe bananas

Sift together dry ingredients and set aside. Cream wet ingredients Stir in dry ingredients just enough to moisten. (If you want a lighter bread, beat the egg whites until fluffy and fold in last - if using real eggs.) Pour into greased pan and bake at 350 degrees for 60-65 minutes.

The taste is good - a little nutty and reminds me of banana flavored oatmeal. My family all tried it and gave it a thumbs up!

I plan to keep on experimenting and will keep you posted. A wonderful Internet friend gave me a yummy recipe for Brazilian cheese bread with no yeast or wheat flour in it that is a must try! That's next on the list if I can find the manioc flour it calls for...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Now where did I put my marbles?

I've moved often enough in my adult lifetime that I've become a pretty good/organized packer.

Starting with an empty box, I try to put a category of items in it.For example, I put all my writing reference books in one box. In another box I put all my paper crafting supplies. (Well, not all of them because I have a lot! LOL)

I always run into one problem though- those odd spaces left over where none of my related items fit. So I scour the house to find something 3 inches x 8 inches x 2 inches to fill the hole so the other items won't shift and get ruined in transit.

Inevitably, it is something totally unrelated to the other items in the box, like the marble collection that came from my father's childhood which I stuffed into my box of writing books.Yeah, well, I suppose they COULD be related - I try not to lose my marbles while writing... (Bad pun...groan.)

Anyway, I usually end up having at least one item per box that is out of it's element. Because of that, I need to be careful to mark my boxes with the main items inside plus the odd ones so I can find them while unpacking.

Most of the time, I find myself trying to order my life like the boxes I am packing. My personal experiences, my goals and my dreams fit nicely together inside a comfortable framework. But it's just like God to throw in an experience or "blessing" that I see as being completely unrelated to my life.

These blessings are sometimes rough, uncomfortable or out of the ordinary. But God in His sovereign Omniscience knows exactly what I need to fill up my heart and shape me into the woman He knows I can become.

When I take a step back and look at this unrelated item God wants to pack in my comfortable box, I find it really does fit. He always knows exactly what I need to round out my experiences, to give me a future and a hope.

Now where did I put those marbles?...

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Let the dishes wait...

Every time I have company over for dinner, they inevitably ask if they can help with the dishes. While it would be great to clean up the kitchen after the meal, I know I would much rather spend the time with them, chatting in the living room, lingering over a cup of coffee or tea and some good conversation.
Now I have to confess, I really dislike doing dishes so the offer of help is tempting, but the fact is, after cooking a special meal and playing the role of hostess, I really am ready to spend the time getting to know my guests better. The dishes will keep until later that evening or even tomorrow (gasp...)
Being in the ministry, my husband and I often entertain missionaries that come to speak at our church. They have so many wonderful stories to tell that a half hour of sharing at church with a few slides is never enough for me. I want to hear more about them and their families.
It is during this more intimate time of living room sharing following a meal of good old fashioned "comfort food" that the best stores come forth. That's most often when they reveal their real hearts - the fears, the stories they aren't at liberty to share publicly for a number of reasons.
Jesus knew the value of Living Room intimacy. It is within that small group of people where the masks can slip off and we can share our true feelings of inadequacy, fear and doubt. It is in the living room where hurts can be healed and our deepest needs of being "heard" and loved can be nurtured.
Maybe Martha wanted to stay in the kitchen to avoid that intimacy. Goodness knows, I used that excuse for many years, doing everything in the church to avoid building trusting relationships with fellow Christians and even with Jesus Himself.
But I'm glad He constantly seeks me out, drawing me away from the kitchen, inviting me to sit with Him and just rest in His presence. The dishes can wait - relationships with Jesus and others cannot!
This is the quote for today's "In Other Words." This week's hostess is Loni at Finding Joy in the Morning, so feel free to write your thoughts on the quote at your blog, then leave your blog address at Loni's for others to share

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Security blankets

"Security Blanket" - a blanket or other object which a child (or adult) clings to that helps them feel a sense of safety, comfort or warmth. (My own definition).

Eve, my 7 year old grand daughter still carries a battered pillow case with a large picture of Winnie the Pooh on one side and Piglet on the other - hence the name "Pooh-Piglet." I gave it to her when she was tiny and she can't sleep without it. For awhile, she just carried it around, then she had to put her legs inside it to sleep.

During the summer, when she decided it was too warm to sleep, Pooh-Piglet ended up in the freezer until bedtime, cooling it off so she could cuddle in comfort. I can't tell you how many times the house was turned upside down looking for that pillow case at bed time. Her parents even had to turn around on a trip once to rescue the abandoned pillowcase at a restaurant where they stopped a few miles back.

None of her 3 other siblings have an actual "security blanket." But her cousin Avery does. his is a fleece blanket with all sorts of balls on it. He is so attached to it, his mother had to purchase a similar one (same color with the same type of balls, but the pattern is smaller) so she can wash the first one when needed.

While I don't remember having a security blanket, my son did. It was a quilt I made him out of denim squares cut from old jeans, an old thermal blanket for warmth in the center and a striped sheet as the backing. This was tied with red yarn at the corners of each block. I even put a zipper on three sides so he could zip it up and use it for a sleeping bag. He kept that thing until he was married and it fell apart.

Even my husband had a security pillow - an old feather pillow he had as a boy. That thing was pathetic when we finally bought him a replacement just a few years ago.

Though I didn't have a "blanket," I had that same need for security. At an early age, I learned of Jesus love for me and ran into His arms one night when I needed His security and love the most.

He has always been the one I run to when hurting, sad or in need of comfort. In a very real way, Hi is my security blanket - the one I cling to for safety, comfort and warmth. I don't know what I would do without His love and comfort. Thank You Lord, for being my "Security Blanket."

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Enough Sharing Already!...

We spend a much of their early lives teaching our children and grand children how to share - then they go and listen to us...

Needless to say, we've been "Sharing" a 24 hour bug here at our house as one at a time, the adults succumb to Montezuma's Revenge. Apparently, it's my turn today.

I wonder how many times we share our faith in a contagious way? Do you smile when walking down the street, making people wonder what makes you so happy? Or do we look like we've just gotten done with another round of "you know what??????" If that's the case, why would ANYONE want what we have?

Well, that's the extent of my thoughts for today. I have lots of time to rest up and think about more pleasant life lessons.... Hope this finds you well!

Life goes on...

Life goes on...
Twice this spring and summer, the nest outside our living room window was filled and emptied. Mama bird diligently wove the twigs together, creating a snug home to lay her eggs - four of them each time.

Then she sat there protecting them until they hatched. The first time all four made it. What a crowd of chirping, squirming feathers, especially as they grew to maturity. One morning we looked out to find only three - one had been pushed out and apparently learned to fly since we never saw any evidence of "fowl" play on the ground below. The other three followed within a day.

The second time, mama bird laid four eggs, but only three hatched. One poor baby either fell or was pushed out, leaving two. They have both since taken wing.

Here in the parsonage, life goes on too. Dan and I had an empty nest for the past four years as our youngest daughter married and left home, forced out of her comfy nest when we moved from Indiana, PA. But like mama bird, the nest didn't stay empty as our two other children came home for a time with their little ones.

However, in the next two weeks, they are all leaving the nest again, each family flying off to their own nest, leaving ours barren and empty again. Yesterday, I found myself having a melt down as it hit me that Allissa and Josh were moving to Florida in less than two weeks with their four kids. It might as well be to the end of the earth - since it's a 24 hour drive from here. At least Dave and Julie will be close by with Avery.

God gave me a wonderful gift - bringing them here for the past several months. I had the opportunity to be part of their daily life, watching them grow and nourishing their spiritual and emotional lives. I just wish it didn't hurt so much to see them move out on their own again. Thank God for technology which will allow me to see them daily via web-cam and instant messaging.

So life goes on... albeit with a few soggy handkerchiefs and quivering lips. But we will be fine, concentrating once again to the other wonderful people and ministries God brings into our lives.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Adventures in Yard Sale-ing

It's good to move every so often - it keeps me from accumulating too much unnecessary stuff. To pare down the nimber of boxes for the U-Haul, I usually have a yard sale. But having one with my resident son-in-law is a real adventure.

"Hey, Mom, what do you use this for?" he asked, pointing to one thing after another. No matter how I answered him, he replied, "You should sell it."

Before I realized it, he had sweet-talked me into selling several book shelves, a collection of assorted glassware and all sorts of miscellaneous stuff I thought I would never part with along with all the other items I planned to sell.

When our yard sale began on Thursday, he was up at 7 am, hauling, arranging and hanging up items like a pro. But his true colors began to show when our first customer arrived.

"How are you doing today? Excellent!" He greeted everyone as they stepped out of their cars into our lot. "This is a three family yard sale," he explained to each one, drawing them into a conversation. Soon he had found common ground and was conversing with them as though they were old friends.

By turning on his charm, he sold one item after another. Whenever he took a break, he cut it short if a customer came because the rest of us just didn't know how to "mingle."

I think he must have taught his children well because everyone who came up to pay couldn't get away without Eve asking, "Do you want a glass of Lemonade? How about a brownie?" All the kids had to do was smile and be polite and they were selling lemonade to EVERYONE! And even getting tips on top of their sales. They made over $30 in two days.

At any rate, I've never had such a successful sale. We lightened the load for our moving truck by at least 20% and made enough to purchase some new items for our future home. Not bad for three days worth of work. And Josh was right all along - I really did need to sell most of those items - after all, what did I really need them for?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Ahhh! Smell that homemade bread...

In "Other" Words

This week's quote is:
"Relying on God has to begin all over again
every day as if nothing yet had been done."
~ C.S. Lewis ~

As soon as my husband arrived home from school on Wednesdays, he would sniff the air and start salivating. It was bread baking day and the aroma of that fresh bread proved irresistible for Dan and his brother. His mother planned it so a tray of rolls came out of the oven just as they came in the door so they could sample the fresh-baked goodness.

Dan’s mom usually baked 8-10 loaves and over fifty rolls each week. The large quantity lasted the family all week, but the homemade bread would get stale too fast unless she froze it after it cooled. She only got out what the family could consume that day to prevent the loaves from drying out and crumbling.

When we married, his mom taught me how to bake bread, but since I worked and lacked freezer space, homemade bread became more of a special treat. With the advent of bread makers, he was able to enjoy his favorite treat more often – one loaf at a time.

Like homemade bread, our relationship with God has to be fresh every day –we become a sweet fragrance in his nostrils, like the bread fresh out of the oven. There’s no room in our lives for stale or moldy experiences with the Father.

To participate this week, write about your thoughts in you own blog, thenvisit "Sting My Heart" to read her take on the quote and to leave your link along with the other participants.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Time for a "Clean Sweep!"

You'd think we were participating in that HGTV program, "Clean Sweep," trundling everything out on the lawn and examining it piece by piece to decide what to sell, keep or toss. The only problem is - it's not the contents of two rooms, but three households worth of stuff as we prepare for our big sale!

My daughter is sifting through her boxes for saleable items - if they end up going to Florida, she needs to purposely cut down on their worldly goods - they barely fit them into a 26 foot truck when they moved here with us. Because of the distance, this would be a one-trip move for them - no coming back later for things that won't quite fit in the truck!

For my daughter-in-law, it's a different matter. They are moving into smaller quarters and also need the money so she's being ruthless as well, trying to figure out what they can do without. I keep telling them, they may NEED their snow blower here - it's not northern NY, but we do get snow...

Of course, I love yard sales, so count me in! Once I get into the fray, I find I'm willing to part with almost anything. As the piles on the tables mount, I make a last trip through the house thinking to myself, "Now, what ELSE can I sell?"

Though we've moved often over the years, I still am amazed at how much stuff I've accumulated over the four years we've lived here in Maryland. This is a BIG house and I have worked hard at filling it up. At least most of my stuff has no sentimental value.

Seriously though, I know my heart house needs redding up every now and then too. There are attitudes I've stored away along with a clutter of thoughts and memories that need to be sorted and purged.

What about those relics from my old nature that I want to cling to for sentimental reasons? The Lord almost has to wrestle them out of my stubborn grip. I do have to admit, most of the stuff He clears away is thrown in the "toss" pile - not worth selling or giving away and definitely not something I want to keep in my life.

But when all is said and done, and I've allowed Him to clean out the rooms of my heart, I am amazed at the beautiful inner space He has created for me - a place where there is room for His presence, free from the stifling shame and pain of the past and thoroughly cleansed from the filth that tends to accumulate on a daily basis.

Okay, Lord! I'm a candidate for a "Clean Sweep!"

Thursday, July 5, 2007

It's Time To Breathe radio interview with Candice House

God is so good! I was priviledged to be a guest on Candace House's radio talk show "It's Time To Breathe" today. Click on the link below to visit Candace's page, then click on July 5th to hear the interview.

Archives Candice House: "July 5 "

Country Roads Take Me Home...

I love it when God gives me one of His "little" blessings - not a great big miracle and not really even an astounding answer to prayer, but just a little gift to let me know He is in control and is taking care of things.

We shared a wonderful day with family celebrating Independence Day and on the way home all 11 of us decided to stop and view the fireworks scheduled for 9:15 in a community about 20 miles from our house. The carpeting store where my son works is situated on a hill there and is a perfect place for oohing and aahing over the gorgeous display.

Since we had never been to that display before, we had no idea how bad the traffic would be coming home. My husband and I pulled out of the store parking lot when the show ended, hoping to get a jump on the traffic. We made sure our daughter (who was driving the other car) knew the way home since she's only lived in the area for a few months.

"Sure," she said. "I just get on the highway and follow it home. I'll see you there."

We left several minutes before she did and hadn't gone a mile before finding ourselves in a log jam. Our lane wasn't moving at all and we had just passed through a green light at an intersection which would take us home cross-country. Though the route was miles out of our way, it would have been better than being stranded in traffic.

My DH is not the most patient person in the world. After about 15 minutes of idling there, he saw the opportunity to make a u-turn back to the intersection and take the alternate route home.

"Oh, no! Allissa is going to be sitting in that traffic for hours with the four children! She doesn't know any other way home. except the highway." I wanted to go back toward the parking area to see if we could find her, but it just wasn't possible to turn around again. So I prayed for her all the way home, hoping they would be all right and that the kids wouldn't get too cranky, especially the baby who tends to scream a lot when tired - and it had been a long tiring day.

Imagine my surprise when their van pulled into the driveway right behind us! The Lord maneuvered them into just the right position at the traffic light (which turned green at precisely the right moment) so she would recognize our car and follow us cross country all the way home. At first there were three other cars separating us, but she just kept watching our tail lights.

Without His help, they still might be sitting there, and this poor mom would be glued to the window until all my grand kids arrived safely home...