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, December 31, 2010

Pressing On...Through His Grace

As I look ahead to a new year, I am pondering these words...

“I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world;
but still I am not what I once used to be,
and by the grace of God I am what I am.”
~ John Newton

I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
~ Phillipians 3:14

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry CHRISTmas 2010

From our home to yours...

A truly Christ-filled Christmas...and a New Year in which you know His grace and walk in truth!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

He Was...


that man no more may die

to raise the sons of earth

to give them second birth


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Favorite Cookie

I am a confirmed chocoholic. If a tray of Christmas cookies is set before me, I will almost always choose one with chocolate. On our family baking day this year, chocolate was a key ingredient in two of our four cookies.

That said, one of my favorite cookie recipes has no chocolate! They are a little spicy, a little chewy, and the perfect cookie to pair with a good cup of strong coffee. Delightful.


Cream together:
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 beaten eggs
Mix in:
  • 8 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
  • 2 teaspoons cloves
  • 4 cups flour
Form into walnut-sized balls.  If desired, roll in coarse sugar.
Place 1 inch apart on cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

:: :: :: :: :: :: ::

* The original recipe was the 2002 winner of the Good Morning America Christmas Cookie Contest. I have altered the recipe a bit...I doubled it, and replaced half of the shortening with butter to reduce the amount of trans fat. Next time I may experiment wth using all butter. (All butter can't be bad, can it? ~wink~)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

My Sarah's Birthday

I prayed for her many times...before I even knew her.

Here she is...a tiny girl, the youngest of seven siblings. No, I didn't know her (yet)...but I prayed for her.

Sarah with her siblings

Does anyone remember this Wayne Watson song?

Somewhere in the world today
A little girl will go out to play
All dressed up in mama's clothes
At least the way that I suppose it goes
Somewhere in the world tonight
Before she reaches to turn out the light
She'll be prayin' from a tender heart
A simple prayer that's a work of art

And I don't even know her name
But I'm prayin' for her just the same
That the Lord will write His name upon her heart
'Cause somewhere in the course of this life
A little boy will need a godly wife
So hold on to Jesus, baby wherever you are

Somewhere in the world out there
That little girl's learnin' how to care
She's pickin' up her mama's charms
Or maybe swingin' around in her daddy's arms
Somewhere in the world to be
Though the future's not really clear to me
Theirs could be a tender love
Grounded in eternal love above

And I don't even know her name
But I'm prayin' for her just the same
That the Lord will write His name upon her heart
'Cause somewhere in the course of this life
My little boy will need a godly wife
Oh, so hold on to Jesus, baby wherever you are
Oh, hold on to Jesus, baby wherever you are

Oh, that song touched a chord with me...I would cry every time I heard it! And I would also pray for that little girl who would one day be my son's wife.

I believe that my daughter-in-law Sarah was hand-selected for Ryan. (And he for her!)

In the interest of privacy, I don't use last names on this blog. But let me at least tell you that Ryan and Sarah almost shared a last name! Her maiden name is identical to our last name, except that hers ends in just "y", while ours ends in "ey".

Sarah also shares Ryan's sense of adventure. They hike, they backpack, they climb mountains, they travel, they tent-camp! A couple of years ago, they drove for hours and camped in the Rocky Mountains. Are you impressed? Would you be more impressed if I told you that they had a fourteen-month-old baby, Sarah was pregnant, and they brought their dog? And camped in a tent? (Either one of those facts would have been enough to make me stay home!)

Here's a picture of Sarah and Ryan the day they became engaged.

Sarah balances Ryan's life and his checkbook. They share a sense of humor. She is a loving mother to their three children, and makes a lovely home.

They have the same goals.
For several years, Sarah taught algebra and calculus to high school students, but they chose for Sarah to be home full-time to raise their together they have moved across the country for Ryan's career.

Sarah is beautiful (and Ryan agrees!)...but her beauty is not only on the outside. She is also beautiful inside, reflecting the love of the Lord. She has the beauty of a "meek and quiet spirit" (I Peter 3:4).

Sarah and Nora on a backpacking excursion this summer

Today is Sarah's birthday, and I want her to know that, although I was not there the day she was born, I am so thankful that she became a part of my life!

Happy Birthday, Sarah!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Christmas Play

"Do not be afraid, Mary, for you shall marry Joseph and travel to Bethlehem and have a baby and name Him Jesus."


"Joseph, you will marry Mary and travel to Bethlehem and have a baby. You will name Him Jesus."


"Mary!" "Joseph!"


Joseph and Mary travel to Bethlehem.


"Do not be afraid. You will find a baby in a manger. The baby's name is Jesus."


Joseph and Mary adore Baby Jesus.
(The actor supply was limited, so their Baby Jesus was wearing all pink. ~smile~)


The boy Jesus


Joseph takes Mary and the boy Jesus to Egypt.


The Bow


(Some people think that Pinky could have played King Herod.)

~ The End ~

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Simple Farmhouse Christmas

Welcome to The Farmhouse at Thinking About Home! Come on in and have a look around...

We're keeping it simple at The Farmhouse this year...lots of greenery and berries and fruit.

Here in the living room...

our family tree, decorated with ornaments we've collected over the past thirty-some years!

"Baaaaa-b" (get it?) hanging out with a crock of spruce

"Joy" in the window

Bekah's beloved "Eli" perched atop her piano

Now let's step into the dining room...

The sideboard is dressed for Christmas great-grandmother's tea set is "spruced" up too

...sprigs of berries are tucked in with heirloom spoons

...and nature's bounty abounds.

The kitchen is full of ...


...and spice

...and everything nice.

Thank you for visiting The Farmhouse at Christmas time...I hope you will come again!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Many thanks to The Nester for hosting the Christmas Tour of Homes!
(Click here to visit LOTS more homes decked out in their Christmas best.)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Too Much?

I don't know about your Christmas budget...

but doesn't $72.00 seem a bit steep for a chocolate wreath?! (I think I'll keep shopping.)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Grand Gavin

I have introduced you to each of my grandchildren on their birthdays this year. There was Nora, Eve, Maddie, Owen, and Benjamin. (I have also told you about the new grandbabies, Alaine and Peter.)

And now the last "grand" birthday post of the year goes to my very first grandchild, Gavin Christopher.

Yes, Gavin introduced us to the wonderful world of grandparenthood...and he is "grand" in every way!

Gavin made his grand entrance on a Sunday afternoon. Ron and I, along with the soon-to-be aunts (Kati, aged 9, and Bekah, 20 months!) hurried to the hospital when we knew he was about to arrive, and he had been born as we made the drive.

I was the first to go in to meet him...and I was overwhelmed! I had secretly wondered if I would feel "grandparent-y" since I still had young children of my own. But the instant that I saw that sweet bundle of boy, I knew that I was indeed a grandmother and it was a wonder-ful thing!

Although I now have eight of these grand treasures, Gavin will always be my first. Always.

Always. That is a word that Gavin likes. You see, Gavin is a black-and-white thinker. It is always or never in Gavin's world. Something is either the best or the worst. All or nothing. I often hear him say, "For real?" No fuzzy phrases or gray areas for this boy.

Gavin is all boy. He is full of enthusiasm. He has a zest for life. He talks loud. He talks a lot.

He is kind-hearted and sensitive and sweet.

He loves Legos and math and maps, nature and macaroni-and-cheese.

(He can build a Lego creation in no time flat.)

Gavin has brightened my world in countless ways.

Happy 8th Birthday to Gavin,
My First Grand!

I love you...always!
(For real.)


The poor little black cat had apparently been hit by a car. I passed its lifeless body several times last week as I drove to and fro on a road near my house, and it pulled at my heartstrings. I have a soft spot for animals anyway, but this particular cat reminded me of our own Pinky.

That could have been Pinky, I mused as I drove by.

It could have been Pinky, for Pinky was a stray who just showed up at our house one February.

But if she had not come to our house where there was food outside for another stray cat...

If she had not found a house with two girls who loved her immediately...

If those girls had not had parents who had a soft spot for a cantankerous but needy little kitty...

If we had not taken her in, to safety and food and love...

But Pinky has no idea.  

Here she is...with humans who love her, with plenty to eat, with a warm house...and she lives like the Rum Tum Tugger*. "She will do as she do do, and there's no doing anything about it."She is totally unaware of her good fortune.

And I am afraid that I am like Pinky.

My Heavenly Father has rescued me. He "brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings." (Psalm 40:2)

He feeds me with Living Bread. "I [Jesus] am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." (John 6:35)

He loves me with "an everlasting love." (Jeremiah 31:3)

He has promised never to leave me. "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." (Matthew 28:20)

He has provided eternal life with Him in Heaven. "In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." (John 14:2, 3)

He gives me grace and mercy every single day in the here and now. "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness." (II Corinthians 12:9)

And what do I do?

I should fall down at His feet and cry out with gratitude and worship. I should wonder why I should be so favored, when I have done nothing at all to deserve His kindness.

And yet I am like Pinky. I sometimes live as if His grace is natural, is normal, is expected...oblivious to the fact that I could--I should--be anywhere but in His family. I live as if unaware of His great mercy.

When this passing world is done,
When has sunk yon glaring sun,
When we stand with Christ in glory,
Looking o’er life’s finished story,
Then, Lord, shall I fully know—
Not till then—how much I owe.

When I stand before the throne,
Dressed in beauty not my own,
When I see Thee as Thou art,
Love Thee with unsinning heart,
Then Lord, shall I fully know—
Not till then—how much I owe.

Chosen not for good in me,
Wakened up from wrath to flee,
Hidden in the Savior’s side,
By the Spirit sanctified,
Teach me, Lord, on earth to show,
By my love, how much I owe.

"Even on earth, Lord, make me know
something of how much I owe."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

* "The Rum Tum Tugger" by T.S. Eliot (1888-1965)
** "I Am Debtor" by Robert M McCheyne (1813-1843)

Friday, December 3, 2010

History Lesson

Have I mentioned how much I love homeschooling?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Our Most Special Thanksgiving Blessing!

Tantalizing aromas were in the air; the many dishes were on the card table, the kitchen counter, and even on the top of the computer cabinet! Drinks were poured, candles were lit, and all of us had gathered to sing a hymn and offer a prayer of Thanksgiving.

Then the phone rang.

Who could it be? On any other Thanksgiving afternoon, we would have had no idea. But this one was different. After all, we had been on
Baby Watch for quite a few days. I hoped that my guess was right this time, because every. single. time. the phone had rung for a month or more, I had thought, This could be the news.

I answered, pushed the "speaker phone" button, and—joy of joys!—heard my son's voice on the other end of the line, across the many miles. All the faces in the room lit up as he told us that Sarah had been admitted to the hospital and that this could be The Day!

After the call, we sang "For the Beauty of the Earth" and these words...

For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth and friends above,
For all gentle thoughts and mild.

Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful praise.

...held special meaning to me as we sang them.

We ate our wonderful Thanksgiving dinner, talked, cleaned up, talked, ate dessert, and talked some more...all the while, our far-away family was never far from our minds. But as the hours went on, there was no more news, and then a text from Ryan to Brian said that they would probably be going back home. Sigh.

Late on Thanksgiving night—actually it was after midnight, so technically it was Friday here—the phone rang again. I grabbed it and, again, it was Ryan's voice. Assuming they were back at home, we made small talk for a minute or two. I asked him what they were doing, and he said, "Just hanging out with our new son."

Peter Ryan had arrived on Thanksgiving Day after all! He was 9 pounds, 2 ounces (a big little boy!) and was 21 and ¾ inches long (will he be tall like his daddy?), and, most importantly, Mama and Baby are healthy and happy!

Ryan with his new son

Big sisters Eve and Nora in awe of their newborn brother

We have so much to be thankful for, not the least of which is our most special Thanksgiving blessing, Peter Ryan!

Indeed we sing, Lord of all, to Thee we raise,This our hymn of grateful praise!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Getting Ready For Uncle Tommy

My brother-in-law Tommy usually comes to my back door when my house is in total disarray. Now Tommy is an all-around great guy and we enjoy his company, so it's not that we don't want to see him or anything. But Tommy (who lives just a few houses away) drops by when I have decided on a whim to paint the medicine cabinet, and its contents and all of the little bottles of paints of possible medicine cabinet colors are spread all over the kitchen floor. Or when we're in the middle of a craft project. Or the ironing board is out along with several weeks (months?) of ironing piles.

Often, when we've finished a Ten Minute Tidy, Bekah will say, "Okay, Uncle Tommy can come now." (But he never comes after a Ten Minute Tidy.)

So, we're expecting Uncle Tommy today.

Yep, the conditions are just right.

This morning, as Ron was getting ready to return to work after four days off, he dropped a pill on the floor and bent to pick it up. Then he said to me, "Oh...I didn't think our floors ever looked like that." I think that was a compliment. I think. Well, I'm going to take it as such. (If it wasn't, he really should have been more careful, don't you think? He did not need to drop that pill or get eye-level with the debris on the floor or gasp at what he saw there. He didn't.)

What a wonderful four days it was! (The debris on the floor only proves that we were doing more fulfilling things than tidying and vacuuming.)
  • A bounteous Thanksgiving.
  • A lovely day of a little shopping, Thanksgiving leftovers, and watching A Christmas Carol.
  • An exciting day of getting down the Christmas decorations, of four little guests, of subs for supper, of unwrapping the new ornaments, of tree trimming and mad libs and games and Miss Mary Mack.
  • A day with our church family and more decorating and turkey pot pie and a little relaxing and a Hallmark movie.


Today ten minutes is not going to cut it. The agenda includes vacuuming (in case Ron drops his pill tomorrow morning), mailing a package, lots of tidying, and World War I. (The World War I part is for school. We're not at war here. Unless you count the war on dust bunnies and crumbs.)

And tomorrow I'll be back to tell you about our most special Thanksgiving blessing!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Choosing Gratitude

This is a re-post from last November. I need to be reminded again and again...

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
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

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Gran(d) Weekend

Over the weekend, I reveled in being a Gran.

Her sweet little three-year-old voice sounding over the speaker phone, Eve chatted with us on Friday night. She told us about the snow at their house, and about the episode of "Pa" (aka "Little House on the Prairie") she had watched that day. And can anything be sweeter than hearing her recite her Bible verses? I doubt it.

Little Nora (21 months) is finding her voice too. What a delight to hear her say, "Hi, Papa" and "puppy" and "Vee" (Eve)!

If only those little girls could see our faces glowing, our ear-to-ear smiles, when they talk.

Then our house was full of joyful noise when Kristin and Brian and the close-to-home grandchildren came for their usual Sunday visit. Lots of happy chatter among the "big" kids as they ate and played games and pretended and ran outside. It was a good toddler day, too, as Benjamin smiled and sang his way through the afternoon.

After lunch, I asked to hold sleepy Alaine (11 weeks) who decided to indulge her Gran with a long snooze. So while the girls served coffee and apple pie and pumpkin cake, I snuggled with Alaine and sneaked countless baby kisses from the top of her sweet-smelling head.

We were hoping that a certain little boy was going to increase the "grand" population over the weekend, but we're still on Baby Wait.

If you get the opportunity to be a Gran, I can highly recommend it!

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Morns Are Meeker

The morns are meeker than they were—

The nuts are getting brown—

The berry's cheek is plumper—

The Rose is out of town.

The Maple wears a gayer scarf—

The field a scarlet gown—

Lest I should be old fashioned
I'll put a trinket on.

~ poem by Emily Dickinson
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