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 home on the edge of town, this family, this neighborhood—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.




Friday, May 29, 2020

Five on Friday


When I lose my blogging mojo, I find that a Five on Friday is a good way to just hop back into Blogland without a lot of explanations or fanfare. So here we go . . .


{one}
.
Our oldest grandchild graduates from high school this weekend!

I can hardly believe that Gavin is old enough to graduate. Or maybe I should say: I can hardly believe that I am old enough to have a grandchild who is graduating! Since my youngest child graduated only a year ago, it feels like a quick turnaround. (The difference in Bekah's and Gavin's ages is only twenty months.)

But regardless, Gavin is graduating and we could not be more proud of this young man!



{two}

So while I'm talking about grandchildren, I'll go ahead and pop in a photo of my youngest grandchild Caleb. You're not surprised at all, are you?

By the way, we still haven't met this wee one in person, but plans are in the works . . .



{three}

About a month ago, I picked up a project that had been languishing for about four years. I set myself a ridiculously low goal to complete one penny (that's what the little circles are called) per day. Some days that's all I did, but some days I did more and now all of the pennies are done and I am stitching them onto the black wool mat.



{four} 

Is it even Five on Friday if I don't include a cat photo?



{five}

I have been loving this "30 Days of Hymns" calendar (Little Things Studio) that Kati and Andrew sent me for Mother's Day. The artwork is lovely, yes, but oh how I love the hymns! Most are familiar, but there are a few that are new to me, so each evening (that we remember), we find the day's hymn on YouTube and sing along or listen and learn.

I had forgotten how much I loved Day 18's hymn! I'll put it here as a bonus so that you can listen to it too!



Hard things . . . hard things . . . going on all around us. Life is never easy. Life's road is up-hill. But He has promised new mercies every morning. He has promised to be faithful.

These words from Scripture are speaking to my soul today . . .


This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope. 

Through the LORD's mercies we are not consumed, 
Because His compassions fail not. 
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness. 

"The LORD is my portion," says my soul,
"Therefore I hope in Him!"

The LORD is good to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him.
It is good that one should hope and wait quietly
For the salvation of the LORD. 

Lamentations 3:21-26


Thursday, May 7, 2020

Welcome, Caleb!!


When you're on a (totally unplanned) blogging break, such BIG news may bring you back to Blogland. Our big news is this:


Little Caleb Mark has arrived safely! Praise the Lord!



When your baby has a baby, your heart grows. 💗



I love that photo of Kati holding her brand new dream-come-true!

And Andrew looks equally happy, doesn't he?



Caleb was a big little boy at 9 pounds, 13 ounces and 20 3/4 inches long! 


What a precious gift, this twelfth grandchildWe are so very grateful for him, and I can. not. wait. to have him in my arms! 

It is heart-wrenching for me to be so far away. Never could I have imagined that I would not be able to be with my own baby as she welcomed her first baby. When we learned that Kati and Andrew were expecting, I cleared the calendar for May and made plans to fly down for a visit within the first few days of Caleb's birth. I planned to stay and help for a few weeks. I had not been able to do that for my daughter Kristin or my daughter-in-law Sarah because I was still the mother of young children myself, but this time, I reasoned, the timing is perfect! I was so looking forward to bonding with my grandson while he was still red and new, and being a help to his parents. 

But then  . . . 

Well, you all know the "then."

Travel restrictions. No flights. "My" plans were not to be.

But this . . . 

"A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps."

And if I trust Him as I say I do, then it is good. 

(But I still can. not. wait. to have Caleb in my arms! Soon, soon!)

Saturday, April 18, 2020

The God of the Waves



This quote is worth revisiting . . . and pondering . . . 


But God is the God of the waves and the billows, and they are still His when they come over us; and again and again we have proved that the overwhelming thing does not overwhelm. Once more by His interposition deliverance came. We were cast down, but not destroyed. 

~ Amy Carmichael



Monday, April 13, 2020

Resurrection Sunday | 2020


What a different holiday it was, spent in isolation because of the coronavirus. At last year's Easter table, there were twenty-two people. At this year's, there were three.

But our reason to celebrate was the same! 

Christ the Lord is risen today! Alleluia!



Many years ago, we switched from "Easter baskets" to "First-Day-of-Spring Baskets," reserving Resurrection Day for spiritual emphasis in our celebrating. This year, however, it seemed right to add a little extra sweetness to the day. 


Bekah wears dresses almost every day of the year, so why not wear a pretty dress on Easter Sunday, even if you are going to be at home? 


Pretty Bekah . . . on her last day of being eighteen. (Her birthday is today!) 


Our family photo.


We worshiped with our church family . . . remotely.


Did I say there were three of us? Make that four. 🐱


We placed a lamb on our Easter table, signifying the spotless Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 


We had a traditional Easter dinner: ham, potato salad, deviled eggs, ambrosia, and roasted asparagus. Usually my mom makes the potato salad and we all agree that it is the BEST in the world! I tried to replicate it, with a modicum of success . . . but everyone agreed that I didn't quite get it. 


We made a little coffee run in the afternoon. (Coffee is still considered an "essential service." Right?)


We watched an Easter classic, Ben Hur.


Dessert by Pepperidge Farm.


Apologies to my Facebook friends for this rerun! I hadn't planned to post any of these on my blog. I have been struggling with answering comments and with commenting on other blogs. I sometimes feel like I am just adding more words to what has already been said. I hope that my blogger friends will give me grace . . . and I promise to extend that same grace! 

But . . . I enjoy getting glimpses into people's lives during this time. I am encouraged by your efforts to keep on serving others and honoring the Lord. And so I post today with the hopes that you might be encouraged by a peek into our corner of the world. 

It will be good to look back at these days and have some lovely things to remember!


Saturday, April 11, 2020

Music of the Season


Many things about our Resurrection Day celebration will be different this year . . .
~ last year's table setting ~

~ last year's family photo ~


. . . but the reason for our celebration is the same! 


Jesus gave His life to pay the just penalty for our sins, and then He rose from the grave three days later! We serve a living Savior!

We're listening to this playlist of glorious music today. Would you like to join us? 






Monday, April 6, 2020

Up-Hill


I am repeating a post that I wrote three years ago. Although some of the specific circumstances are different, the underlying theme seems quite appropriate for these days . . . 



     Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
          Yes, to the very end.
    Will the day's journey take the whole long day?
          From morn to night, my friend.
          ~ Christina Rossetti

image source



As bloggers, we often share the pretty parts of our lives. Beautiful children and grandchildren. Happy family gatherings. Pretty food. Freshly painted and spruced up rooms. Cheerful holiday decorations. Joyful occasions. Victories. 

When I show you those "pretty" things, they are real and they are true. I am so very blessed. 

But also real and also true is the fact that life is hard

"The road wind(s) up-hill."

Twenty-two years ago today, I delivered a stillborn baby, a little girl whom we named Kara Joy. Two days before, I had gone for a routine sonogram at 19 weeks of pregnancy and we were stunned to learn that our baby had no heartbeat. (There had been a normal heartbeat at my prenatal appointment a few weeks earlier.)

It rocked my world, and left me with a raw, jagged wound. Yes, I rested in my Savior, knowing that God is only always good, but my mother-heart ached for many years.

Life is hard. 

As we ran an errand together this week, I said to Kati, "This has been a hard year so far."

It has. 

Among our circle, since the year began there has been illness . . . yucky-but-relatively-quick viruses, and also long term serious illness. There have been muddled situations. Hurt feelings. Discouragement. A friend lost her job suddenly. Someone we love has come to the end of himself battling addiction; everyone in his family is affected. Another friend lost his father. Another friend has seen her husband's health decline even further, stretching their family's time and resources precariously thin.

Life is hard. 

At the beginning of this week, we had to say good-bye to our sweet boy kitty, Puss. He had lost quite a bit of weight over the winter. It turns out he had (among other things) FIV. He battled one infection after another and then took a turn for the worse over the weekend.

Oh, I know that Puss is an animal and I am not equating the loss of a pet with the pain of human loss or suffering or addiction. But, if you are an animal lover, you know that there is heartache when a beloved fur baby passes. It hurts.

Yes, life is hard. 

Please don't think that this is a sob story. I do not tell you these things so that you will feel sorry for me. Your own heartache, your loss, your struggles may be much greater than mine. I only tell you to acknowledge we are all on that up-hill road.

But, if we belong to Jesus, we are not without hope!

I certainly don't pretend to know the "why" of all my struggles, much less yours. But might I suggest that a part of the answer is so that we don't get too comfortable here? That our hearts might be kept longing for a better place?

"Heaven is not here, it's There. If we were given all we wanted here, our hearts would settle for this world rather than the next." ~ Elisabeth Elliot

Even as we walk the road that winds up-hill, we can know that He is with us. "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." "For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'"

We do not walk the road alone.

Let us live as those whose hearts are longing for Heaven, for the road will wind up-hill to the very end.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Quarantine Cooking


One thing about          all three of us          being inside          all the time 

is that there is time (and desire) to cook and enjoy nice meals together. 

One of the projects I had planned to over the winter was organizing my recipe collection, but winter was busy-busy and I never got around to it. Now, however, time is something that I do have so I am slowly sifting through my loose recipes, putting them into my recipe binders according to category, and weeding out many recipes that I have not used since I put them in those binders seven or eight years ago. In the process, I am finding some new recipes to try.

We're trying not to go to the grocery store more often than necessary, so when we have a heap of kale or big bundles of asparagus or a box of mushrooms, I find ways to use them in different dishes. So in addition to trying new recipes, I am cooking creatively to use what I have. 

roasted chicken, potatoes, garlic, and rosemary: roasted asparagus

orecchiette with Alfredo sauce, mushrooms, and asparagus


I am also taking requests, so I am making some tried-and-true dishes too. (Lots of soup!) 

I often double my amounts, sometimes getting two (or even three!) meals out of one dish or one pot of soup. We also like eating leftovers for lunch. 

vegetable-beef soup with popovers

copycat recipe ~ Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana
(We thought it tasted like the real deal)


If the evening is warm, we eat on the sun porch, enjoying the fresh air and the birdsong.

I like to use my pretty dishes. As always, and maybe even more so during self-isolation, dinnertime is a special time of the day, a time to connect, a time to celebrate God's good gifts. 

 slow cooker pork and sauerkraut


One thing that I am not doing is baking. There are only three of us, and Ron is diabetic, so we don't need large amounts of carbs and sweets. We bake when we have gatherings, but . . . social isolation. (I'm not saying that we have no sweets in the house and I am not saying that Bekah and I have not eaten a whole package of Pepperidge Farm cookies. Just that we are not baking.)


sliders with leftover pork; salad





This is one of the tried-and-true recipes . . . a favorite soup introduced to us years ago by my dear daughter-in-law Sarah. Before she and Ryan were even dating, she brought it to a church soup supper and it was a hit! It is a true comfort food, creamy and full of flavor. I have made it countless times and it never fails to bring a smile. 




SARAH'S CREAMY CHICKEN SOUP

Ingredients:

1 small onion
1 tablespoon butter
3 cups chicken broth
3 medium carrots, peeled, ¼-inch slices
2 medium potatoes, cubed
2 cups cooked chicken
2 tablespoons parsley
salt/pepper to taste
 ¼ flour
1 cup milk
1 8-oz. package cream cheese


Directions:

1) Saute onion and butter.

2) Add broth, carrots, and potatoes. Bring to boil.

3) Reduce heat. Cover; simmer 15 minutes or until veggies are tender.

4) Add chicken, salt, pepper, and parsley; heat through.

5) Combine flour and milk until smooth. Add and bring to boil. Cook and stir until thick.

6) Reduce heat; add cream cheese. Stir until melted.


NOTES: 
~ I always double this recipe (or more if we're having guests). It is so good that I want leftovers!
~ Potatoes can be peeled or unpeeled.
~ We kind of like it when the cream cheese is almost-but-not-quite melted. 






What is happening in your quarantine kitchen? Are you cooking more? Less? Are you baking yummy things? Do tell! 


Saturday, March 21, 2020

Five on Friday


What does one say that has not already been said during these unsettling days of  COVID-19? 
  
But here we are. And here are five things that have been a part of our week . . .
(And I really did write these on Friday, even though I didn't finish the post until late early Saturday morning.) 


{one} change

So many changes. And even the changes change daily!

No groups of more than 150 people. No groups of more than 50 people. No groups of more than 10 people! (We can't even have a family dinner!)

No church meetings or activities. (We had a midweek Bible study via email. This Sunday's sermon will be online.) ESL classes are cancelled through the end of the semester. Restaurants are closed, so no coffee times with friends. My grandchildren's extracurricular activities have come to a screeching halt.

Ron is now working from home.




{two} disappointment 

We are not the only ones who have faced disappointment this week! Nearly everyone has been touched by altered and/or cancelled plans, loss of income, loss of dreams. Things are not turning out as we had hoped.

A big source of disappointment for our family this week was the cancellation of Kati's baby shower. We were all so excited to be celebrating this much-loved, much-wanted first baby! The shower was scheduled for this Sunday. As late as midweek, we were altering the plans, finally landing on an "open house" style shower here at home to limit the number of people gathered at one time. But in the end, Kati and Andrew decided that it was too risky to fly. My mama-heart was sad . . . that Kati can't spend the week with us, that we can't celebrate this first baby in the exciting way that we had planned, and that my own "baby" was sad.




{three} beauty

Yes, beauty was also a part of our week. In spite of the very necessary measures we are taking to self-isolate and slow the spread of the virus, I believe it is necessary to continue to notice, to appreciate, and to create beauty in our world.










{four} gratitude

 In spite of the challenges, it is important to thank our God for His blessings.

In everything give thanks; 
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 
(I Thessalonians 5:18)


We are so very grateful that Kati was able to come home for her grandmother's funeral a couple of weeks ago. It was a rather short trip, but we were able to have some to gather as a family . . . both with extended family and friends at the funeral, and also with "just the twenty of us" as we told stories, looked at family photos, ate pizza, and felt Baby Caleb move inside Kati's tummy. While she was home, the four of us also enjoyed some down time and some good meals and a two-night game of Phase 10. She was also able to visit her Gammy and Gampy.





When we said good-bye that morning at the airport, there were no tears. Instead it was "See you in a couple of weeks!" Who knew?

God did. And He had given us the precious gift of time.


We are also grateful that we are back in our bedroom. It is nearly finished (shutters are in the works and then I'll show you) and we love it. But our gratitude this week is mostly about the timing of it.

It kind of goes like this: If the flooring company who came to measure our space and give us an estimate had followed up with said estimate, then we wouldn't have been talking about our frustration over dinner. If we hadn't been frustrated that evening, Ron may not have remembered that our neighbor, Mark, installs hardwood floors. If we had not texted Mark's wife Paula to see if Mark still did flooring, then Mark would not have come the next day to measure our space and give us an estimate. As it was, Mark was available later that week (while Ron was still on vacation), and so we painted, painted, painted to be ready for the flooring to go down. Oh my goodness, Mark did an excellent job; he is a true craftsman! The floor was installed in two days and we moved our furniture back into our bedroom over the weekend . . . just in time for us to put the guest room back together and be ready for Kati to sleep there later in the week.

What about that timing? (If we had waited for the big flooring company, we would not have had the guest room ready in time for Kati.)

Sneak peek at the remodeled master bedroom . . . 

and the guest room put back together.
(As you can see, Mansie can be happy on either bed, preferring the one on which the sun is shining.)

We are also grateful that Ron is able to work from home and that his job is stable.

We are grateful for a comfortable home in which to be "socially distanced."

We are forever grateful that He is our Rock!

🎜 On Christ the solid Rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand! 🎝


Because even if the sand is sinking all around, if He is our Rock then we are secure. Free from trouble or disease or distress? Not necessarily. But secure in Him and sure of His care for us and sure of the gift of eternal life! If we have acknowledged our sin, and accepted Christ's payment for it to make us right before God, then we can know that we are His!



{five} grace

Grace for the day is my prayer during these hard times.

Sometimes, it is too much to try to look ahead and plan and imagine and guess and prepare for an uncertain path. So I pray, Lord, please give me grace for this day. Please direct our steps this day. Please help us to make wise choices this day. Please help me to serve others this day. Please help me to walk in your Truth this day



Do you know His grace? 

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Wednesdays With My Mother-in-Law


Wednesdays are going to feel very different for a while.

My mother-in-law passed away last week at the age of 92. As I have said to so many people who have lost loved ones, I don't think we're ever "ready" to say goodbye to one we love. 











Mom had enjoyed remarkably good health in her lifetime, up until last fall when her heart began to fail. We were blessed to have nearly six more months with her. 

I will treasure the days that I was able to spend with Mom during the last months of her life. 

That time was a gift. 

Oh yes, I know it was a gift to Mom to be well cared for by her eight children and their spouses, enabling her to remain in her home until the end. But that time was also a gift to us!

There is just something about knowing that time is short . . .



Wednesdays became my day to spend with her. And along with simple things like giving her meds, preparing lunch, doing the dishes, and sweeping the floor, there was plenty of time to talk.

I learned so much! 

We talked some about her own childhood, about her father who was a small farmer and her mother who worked outside the home to make ends meet. She told me about her older brother and her younger sister and some of their adventures around the farm. She told me how she started preparing meals for her family when she was only nine or ten years old. She would come home from school and her father would kill a chicken, they'd clean it and dress it, and she would cook it for their supper. When her mother had another baby, she quit school to care for her baby sister. 




One Wednesday that I was sitting with my mother-in-law, I happened to look over at her china closet while we were eating lunch and I noticed the cake topper from their 50th wedding anniversary. My mind went back to the celebration of their fifty years and I said to her, "Mom, that doesn't seem like that long ago!" She agreed, and as we continued to talk, we realized that that very day was the date of their anniversary, and that they were married exactly 75 years ago that day! 

She did a little reminiscing about the day they married . . . how they had gotten married in the afternoon, then went to Dad's sister's house for dinner, and then went to a movie. I asked her if she remembered anything that they ate at Irene's house. She said couldn't remember everything, but she remembers having macaroni and cheese. Well, guess what I had brought her for lunch that day (even though I usually brought some kind of soup)?! Yes, macaroni and cheese! So we had a little anniversary celebration there that day!


She then went back even further to that first day that she saw her future husband. She was 13 or 14 years old and he walked through her house with a friend (they were looking for another friend) and she took notice of him. "I liked the way he looked!," she said.

Indeed she did! And a few years after that, he took notice of her and the rest is history!



She told me about decisions they had made. Mom wanted to be at home with her children, and Dad wanted that too. But money was tight and one day she had applied for a job in a school cafeteria. When Dad learned about it, he told her that she didn't need to do that, and he decided that they would move to the country and buy a small farm so that she would raise chickens commercially for income.






She talked the most about her children. As we sat in the family room, she'd look up at the large photo of herself with her eight children taken a few years ago and she would tell me about each one . . . when they came to see her each week, what they did, what their talents and accomplishments were, stories from their childhoods. Mom was so proud of her large family and she'd say, "Not everyone has a nice family like I have," and "They've all been so good to me." 





I was relieved when Mom told me (several times) that she liked our new house and that she understood why we had moved away from The Farmhouse (which adjoined family property and was just down the road from her). I suppose we always desire our parents' approval, no matter our age. (And I considered my mother-in-law my parent too. I had promised Ron on our wedding day, "Your people will be my people, and your God, my God." ~ Ruth 1:16)




Some Wednesdays, the time would fly by. On some, the hours would pass slowly. But the time was always well spent. Looking at photos on my phone. Rubbing medicated lotion on the rash on her back while she oohed and aahed about how good it felt. Sharing a Bible verse. Talking about the many cards she received those last months. (Oh, how she loved those cards!) Commiserating with her when she did not feel well. Tucking the covers around her when she lay down for a nap.



My mother-in-law had a Leap Day birthday. She had requested that her eight children and their spouses come and have dinner at her house, using some of the food in her pantry and freezer. We gathered, per her request, but she was too weak to get out of bed that evening, so we all gathered in her room before the meal. She asked the blessing on the food and as she prayed she said, "Oh God, you've been good to me." We sang Happy Birthday to her, then we sang a few songs together, and when we sang "God Is So Good," she sang along. What a precious memory!

In less than 36 hours, she gently passed on into eternity. 



I am so grateful that we had the gift of time . . . time to talk, time to care, time to give, time to love. 

No, Wednesdays will not be the same now. 

But I am the richer for those I spent with my mother-in-law. 


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