As the name of my blog indicates, I spend a lot of time thinking about home. Of course, my Heavenly Home is the one that is eternal, so that’s where I need to lay up my treasures, and that’s the one I’m striving for. But in the meantime, I have been given this tiny piece of the here-and-now—this nearly six-acre tract of land, this farmhouse, this domain—in which to serve Him. And, though this is in the earthly realm, I want the things that happen here to be investments in the Heavenly realm.


Sunday, November 30, 2014

{Gathering the Moments} November


I have been "gathering the moments" of each month for nearly two years now, and I am always surprised at how much life happens in a span of thirty(ish) days. But this month has been one for the records. So many life changes! 

I thought back to June and how so many changes that month were those that I did not want, and now I see the path more clearly and so much has been resolved. He has been leading all the way, of course. It is always up to me to trust Him, whether I see the way or not. Always.

This month, my sister moved...back. It is such a comfort to know that she is closer, and she is happy to be closer to her darling grandbabies again. 

This month, our Kati Grace turned 21. On the same day, her dear friend, the elderly man for whom she had been caring, passed away. (She wrote her story of their time together ~here~.) 

This month, we had several gatherings. Alaine enjoyed her very first Special Day. We continued the tradition of our Annual Mother/Daughter Christmas Shopping Trip, and were glad for another year together. We girls hosted a ladies' game night.

This month, Ryan and his family moved...closer!! (Ron accompanied them on the drive down. While he was away, we girls ate spicy food and watched musicals...both things that Ron could live without.) Oh, we are excited and so very grateful! Ryan has a new home, a new job, and (you already know, don't you?)...a new son! We cannot wait to meet Baby Paul! 

This month, seventeen people gathered around our table(s) on Thanksgiving Day, enjoying the gifts of health and food and warmth and family and fellowship and numberless blessings.  

We owe our thanks to the Giver of all good gifts! 

And so I end this monthly Gathering with the verse I ended with back in June...in the "before." 

Oh Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself. 
It is not in man that walks to direct his own steps.


This month, I thank Him for directing our steps.





Again this month, I am inviting you to join me in "gathering the moments." You may wish to share two or three photos, or several collages, or bunches of photos...with words, or without words. The link-up below will be a gathering place for us to reflect and share and connect. (The link-up will stay open for a week, so you have plenty of time to gather.)


Thinking About Home

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving Day 2014



Before I share some glimpses of our Thanksgiving Day, I thought I'd start out with a few reality shots. Because you have to have a mess before you can have the beautiful. Right? 


The Day Before Thanksgiving:


By Thursday morning, any food that could be done ahead had been prepared, the furniture had been moved, and all three tables had been set. Thanksgiving Day is one of my favorite days of the year, and I was thrilled to be sharing it with sixteen loved ones!

We set the kids's table this year with a turkey theme. Primitive Tom was the centerpiece, and we used some paper napkins with a turkey motif. 


Eight of the adults sat at this table. Bekah designed the centerpiece of gourds and other natural elements, and we used our Friendly Village dishes and my Aunt Lynn's crystal.


The remaining adults were our "servants" and had their own table. Every year, Kati, Kristin, and Brian serve. They take and fill drink orders, and they take the food to the tables, filling kids' plates and waiting while adults circulate the dishes. It is a wonderful way to serve a crowd...no long buffet lines, no pandemonium while many people go back and forth in a tight space. Our servants have also taken it upon themselves to clear the tables, put away food, and wash the dishes. Then they serve the dessert. They are working on their greatness! ("But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant." Matthew 23:11)


Peeks at our day...



We mingled. We nibbled. We chatted. We sang "For the Beauty of the Earth." We offered thanks to our Lord. 

We ate. Turkey, gravy, dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, corn pudding, roasted Brussels sprouts, cole slaw, cranberry sauce, orange gelatin salad, pickles, olives, sweet potato biscuits, rolls. And then pecan pie, pumpkin pie, chocolate pie, apple pie, and whipped cream. (What did I cook? Turkey and Brussels sprouts. And I made a cheese ball. That's how easy it is when everyone else likes to cook too!)

Our blessings are numerous! In everything, we give Him thanks!


Blessed be the Lord who daily loads us with benefits, the God of our salvation.
Psalm 68:19

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Another Thanksgiving Blessing!


And now we know.

We know what our Father already knew (and planned!) of the time and place of this new little one's birth. Yes, Paul Ronald arrived at precisely the moment that God had planned for him. And we couldn't be happier. 

The inspiration for Paul's name: I Corinthians 15:3-8. "First he appeared to Cephas (Peter)...last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me (Paul)."

Paul Ronald
9 lbs., 10 oz.
November 24, 2014






Paul arrived the day before Peter's 4th birthday. (Actually 1 hour and 15 minutes before Peter's birthday.) What a deluxe present Peter gets this year!

Our Peter...such a sweet boy! 



Today, Mommy and Paul will leave the hospital for their new home, and they'll all celebrate Peter's birthday together.


On this Thanksgiving, our family has another blessing to count!





Photo (and table setting) by Bekah


Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!
May all your days be filled with thankfulness to our Lord, 
for He is good!



On Sunday, I'll be Gathering the Moments of November, and what a month it has been for us!!

As I have done since January, I will be providing a place for you to link your own "moments" and we can share with one another. (More details ~here~.)
I will be hosting this gathering each month through December. Feel free to join in!


Monday, November 24, 2014

A Quick Thanksgiving Recipe {Cranberry Conserve}



The Thanksgiving meal is one of the best of the entire year! It is so worth it to take extra time for letting bread rise and for chopping vegetables for stuffing and for baking pies and for roasting the turkey. (Granted, I don't have to do all that myself. Many people contribute to our feast these days!)

But I have an old standby recipe that is quick! Like, you-can-make-it-in-5-minutes quick! And it's yummy. It is from Good Housekeeping magazine, November 1988, and I have made it for years and years. I even made it last year when Kristin brought her homemade cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving. (We had to have some cranberry to eat with our leftover turkey!)

I love that the pears in this recipe mellow the cranberry a bit and the ginger spices it up a little.

And did I mention that it's easy?




QUICK CRANBERRY CONSERVE
(Makes 3 cups.)

1 16-oz. can whole berry cranberry sauce
1 16-oz. can pear halves, drained and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup dark seedless raisins
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

***

In medium bowl, stir all ingredients until mixed.

Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. 




Is cranberry a "must" on your Thanksgiving table? 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Moving On...


At September's end, I told you that our faraway family had big changes on the horizon and would be relocating to a place much nearer to us.

Photo by Sarah


Well, this was the week!!

Last Sunday, I drove Ron to the airport and he flew to Maine to help with the move. 



Did you remember what I told you in July? That there was a new baby coming in autumn?!

So the moving date and the due date were kind of at the same time.

Just so you know, Ryan's employer moved them. The nine-months-pregnant mama did not have to pack boxes or haul furniture or load a truck! But, they still had to get themselves and two vehicles from one home to another and that's where Ron came in. He drove one of the vehicles and (this was important!) was another adult just in case Baby should arrive en route!

Need I say that lots of prayers have gone up for this family over the past months, weeks, and days? 

As of last night, the "moving" part of the adventure is over. Ryan and family are in their new home, Ron is back at home with us, and Kristin and Brian (who went to fetch Ron) are home too.

Photo stolen from Kristin's blog...
Back row, L to R: Daughter-in-law Sarah and Baby Boy; daughter Kristin, son Ryan, Ron
Front row, L to R: grandchildren Eve (7), Nora (5), and Peter (3)



The "new baby" part is not over yet...but it has to be soon! 

Oh, how grateful we are for a safe and uneventful trip! How grateful we are that our Father knows this Little One and has planned the time and place of his birth! 

"Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them."
Psalm 139:16


Lord of all, to Thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise! 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Entitlement vs. Gratitude




Reposting...because I always need to be reminded...



For years, I have kept this quoted passage tucked within the pages of my Bible. I can't even remember where I first found it. I only know that it pierced my heart so deeply that I wanted to keep it near, to be able to read it again and again and again. My human heart is so prone to complaining; yet I know that it should be filled only with gratitude. So when I find myself murmuring, I return to this place of eternal perspective and fall on His mercy. Lord, forgive me for forgetting your amazing grace.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Our culture is riddled with a poisonous spirit of entitlement. We always think we deserve more. We’re disappointed with our family, our neighbors, church, the waitress, the sales clerk, and the department of motor vehicles. Ultimately, we’re disappointed with God. He hasn’t given us everything we want.
What madness! If only we could see our situation clearly—even for a moment. We deserved expulsion; He gives us a diploma. We deserved the electric chair; He gives us a parade. Anything less than overwhelming gratitude should be unthinkable. He owes us nothing. We owe Him everything. When you realize you deserve nothing better than hell, it puts a “bad day” in perspective, doesn’t it?
Christians in Sudan—who’ve suffered unspeakably for their faith—are deeply grateful for God’s daily blessings. But us? We whine and pout.
Thankfulness should draw a clear line between us and a Christless world. If the same spirit of entitlement and ingratitude that characterizes our culture characterizes us, what do we have to offer?
If I grasp that I deserve hell, I’ll be filled with gratitude not only for God’s huge blessings—including my redemption and home in heaven—but also for His smaller blessings: sun, rain, a beating heart, eyes that see, legs that walk, a mind that thinks...And because Christ allowed Himself to be crushed under the weight of my sin, I’ll enjoy forever a clear mind and a perfect body...Never believe anything about yourself or God that makes His grace to you seem anything less than astonishing. Because that’s exactly what it is.
~Randy Alcorn, The Grace and Truth Paradox, Multnomah Publishers 2003, pp. 33-35

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Autumn Gatherings {Part 2}...and Mini Pumpkin-Ginger Cheesecakes


A few weeks ago, Kati mentioned that it would be fun to have another ladies' game night. 

Despite the fact that we have had a busy month, and despite the fact that it is nearing Thanksgiving and everybody is busy, I glanced at the calendar and saw that we had one Friday night available. We brainstormed a list of ladies to invite (we change up the list every time). Our dining room is small, and our table will seat eight comfortably, but we pushed the limits and invited eight other ladies to join us.

As it was, there were seven of us. The night was cold, the wood stove in the kitchen was cozy, and we decided to gather around the kitchen table. 


It was natural to go with a Thanksgiving theme. 



I used some lovely cornucopia napkins that a friend (who knows that I love napkins and all things autumn and had combined the two) had given me for my birthday. 



We pulled a stack of  brown transferware plates from the shelf.



We served Apple-Cranberry Crisp in ramekins, Mini Pumpkin-Ginger Cheesecakes (recipe below), and freshly whipped cream. I also opened a jar of Pumpkin Ale Beer Jelly, another unique and delicious flavor from Potlicker Kitchens, to spread on crackers.



I had intended to play our Thanksgiving music CD in the background. I intended to have each lady write something on a leaf to hang on our Thankful Tree. I did neither. I have a one-track mind and forget things when I'm hosting. 



But at the end of the night, it's all okay

Because it's not about the food or the music or the decorations. It's about providing a space and a time for people to enjoy fellowship. 

Hospitality. It's not to impress, but to bless. (Remember?)




We served these mini cheesecakes at our game party, but I think they'd make a fine dessert for your Thanksgiving table. I was told that the crust could stand alone! 

Personally, I love tiny desserts! (I'd rather fill up on turkey and stuffing than on a rich dessert!)


MINI PUMPKIN-GINGER CHEESECAKES
(adapted and tweaked from ~this recipe~)


30 ginger snaps
3 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons melted butter
2 8-oz. packages cream cheese
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs plus 1 yolk
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

***

1) Preheat oven to 350°. Line 24 muffin cups with paper cupcake liners.

2) In food processor, pulse cookies and sugar until cookies are coarse crumbs. (Optional: Reserve some crumbs for garnish.) Add butter and pulse until combined.

3) Press approximately 1 tablespoon of crumb mixture into bottom of each cupcake liner. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes.

4) In stand mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add in all remaining ingredients and beat until blended.

5) Pour mixture into muffin cups on top of baked crust. Fill each about 3/4 full.

6) Bake for 30 minutes or until set. Cool completely. Top with a dollop of whipped cream. Sprinkle with reserved cookie crumb mixture or with chopped candied ginger, if desired.

 




What desserts will be served at your Thanksgiving table?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Autumn Gatherings {Part 1}




We have been doing quite a bit of gathering lately...gathering with friends, gathering with family.


It was our turn to host our little supper group. We all got together in September and had so much fun and told so many stories and laughed so much that we decided we needed to gather once a month. We coordinated the schedules of three families, and on the last day of October, we picked right up where we left off the month before, with an everyone-brings-something meal, plenty of coffee and dessert, stories galore, young adults playing Dutch Blitz, toddlers being cute...the kind of evening that satisfies. 


We celebrated Kati's birthday with a family party. Later in the week, we took her to dinner and a play. Then she had another birthday dinner with a friend. Birthday gatherings in multiples. 



Then there was Alaine's Special Day, her very first. After her brothers had their Special Day a couple of weeks earlier, she could hardly wait for her turn. She had chosen the dress she would wear and asked her mama every day if that day was the day.  But her day finally came, we all had a delightful time...and now she's ready for another! Sweet girl!




The Annual Mother/Daughter Christmas Shopping Trip was last week. Oh my goodness. The fog that morning was crazy thick. Yikes!

Can you see the road? (Neither could I.) 

We I was tempted to abandon ship van, but the fog slowly lifted and we went on to eat, shop, sip coffee and apple cider, and walk our legs off. 

Oh...and take a group selfie. First time ever. 



Tomorrow, I'll tell you about another gathering and share a recipe for an autumn dessert.



Have you been a part of any autumn gatherings?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

November Photo-a-Day Challenge {Week 2}


I have found this Photo-a-Day Challenge to be quite...umm...challenging! I think my mind is elsewhere. (Lots of happenings here lately!) But instead of completely dropping out of the challenge, I'll just show you the photos I have remembered to take. If there is a day missing here and there, you'll understand, right? :)



day 8: table
Side table in the living room, dressed for fall.
The backlight from the window causes a silhouette effect. One little cluster of berries shows its color.



day 10: yellow
On Tuesday evening, I was cutting out leaves for our Thankful Tree. I am running late this year and our tree is looking a bit bare. No need for a bare tree...we have much to be thankful for!



day 11: outside my window
I see the seasons outside my bedroom window.



day 12: small
Our small cat darted inside a shopping bag. We call bags and boxes "cat traps." The traps work every time. 



day 13: large
Three large butternut squash were sent to us from our brother-in-law
I made Autumn Squash Soup again, making the adaptations that I had mentioned in my "NOTES" and we liked it much better this time. I have also baked some butternut and then mashed it with a little brown sugar and butter. It is delicious, but I may have to give it a rest for a little while. Too much of a good thing?



Has your November been full of good things? (Can you believe that we're halfway through the month already?!)



Click the button below to see how others met the photo-a-day challenge!

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