28 October 2011

Happy Sabbath, Mom

I'm not sure if it's genetic, or just part of the family culture. My grandmother loved barns. My mom loves barns (is it because they make her think of her mom, who she loved very much?). I love barns--because they make me think of those very special women in my life, AND because they have a country charm and beauty that just can't be surpassed.

I'm guessing my great (or great-great?) grandmother would have loved to have a barn the night she fought the wolves all night (they wanted to eat her dead cow...and she also wanted to eat her dead cow), but probably for a totally non-aesthetic reason. And I digress.

Dear Mom,

Thanks for the shoes. They're cute. Thanks again for the skirt you sent them to match, too. And my little niecelet and her mom already love the things you sent her.

Thanks for your constant prayers, support, creativity, and work for God. I know He uses you in you family and in your job. I know He'll bless your sermon tomorrow, too, and I'll be praying for you.

Barns may not be an official love language, but this one comes to you as a loving squeeze, from the little girl who not so long ago wore all the tiny little baby clothes you bought.


Cardinals and Travels

When we first visited Michigan and settled on a place to live--a little single-wide the perfect price for students that has been sold by friends to friends for several years--I couldn't believe the blessing showered on me. It was a Red Bud tree, my very favorite of all the flowering trees. Not only would there be on in my yard, but also two in the neighbor's yard. I'm surrounded!

When we moved in, it was nearing the end of summer, and our little Red Bud was green and thick with leaves. Little did I know that when the leaves fell off there would be a bird feeder hanging from its branches.

We were newly-weds, and as many couples probably do, we had LOTS of birdseed left over from the wedding. As it got colder, and there were fewer and fewer sources of food for birds, we began feeding what became quite a crowd. One guest in particular often caught our attention--a fat little cardinal who would sit at the bird feeder for very long periods of time.

Today as I sat on the couch and looked out our window, I was especially glad for our big flowering bush that has red berries for all the birds in the fall. That means we'll still have some visitors until we have time to get the bird feeder filled again. There was a cardinal in the bush this morning, and I can't help but wonder if he was one of the three tiny little birdlets that used to live in the nest right outside our kitchen window. (I took pictures of them, but through the window the really wiggly little birds didn't turn out so well.)

It seems there are blessings everywhere I turn, both large and small. Flowers in the spring, bird food in the fall, a good place for a nest--all of them things for the eye to enjoy, especially knowing that our heavenly Father even feeds the birds.

Today I'm also remembering some blessings experienced more than thirteen years ago, and they are almost a whole world away (literally) from the birds outside my window. Maybe I won't say much about it now, but if you're willing to visit YouTube for a few minutes, you'll get a hint at the experience I'm talking about.

Ok, and here's another hint: This is a very special lady whose family I have known since I was four years old. I shared the privilege of working with them on four different occasions in four different countries, in the effort of introducing people to the Savior.

20 October 2011

Immune Boosting Drink

Somehow it's the time of year when busy students come down with little sicknesses, and often keep coming to school with their colds in tow. I'm one of them. I don't have anything too major--just a little soarness in the throat. But I pulled out the big guns (in addition to a little extra sleep), and made my good friend's famous Immune Boosting Drink.

It's not for the faint of heart, but I promise that if you dare to try it next time you start to get sick, you will very likely actually think it tastes good. And your body will thank you. Here's the recipe.

6 lemons, juiced

6 cloves garlic

1/2 onion

thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger (or dump in some ground ginger if you don't have fresh)

1/2 c raw honey

1/2 t (or more) cayenne pepper

If you're like me, you'll blend it up and add enough water to make two quarts, drinking one quart before bed and one quart the next morning. If you're even braver like my husband, you'll leave out the honey, blend up everything else, and drink it straight, WITHOUT dilluting it at all.

11 October 2011

What to do Without Water

It's fall break, and we're enjoying a slow morning at home. I go to the sink to rinse my hands, mid-breakfast.

"Honey," I say, startled, "we have no water."

My thoughts: Welcome to life in a trailer park. Of course they didn't let us know ahead of time. We need to go to the office, if they're even open, and see what the deal is.

My husband's words: "Let's fix the toilet!"

He's right. It's a GREAT time to fix the toilet. We've been putting it off for weeks, not wanting to go to the trouble of turning our water off (because our toilets don't have their own shut-off valves--I know, not even the guy at Home Depot had heard of toilets without their own shut-off valves before). And now we're handed this opportunity. Don't we live a charmed life?

02 October 2011

Prophets and Kings

Many of my readers know this title as a book--a very good one--by a favorite author of mine, Ellen G. White.

Tonight, though, I'm thinking of this title as the name of my husband's intramural football team.

I know. You might think of all the negatives associated with "competitive sports." But when I think of this incredible group of guys, I remember how last year, when things were tight for us, they wouldn't let us pay for my husband's jersey. Then at the end of the season, they went together and bought a much-needed winter jacket for him.

From all different countries and academic disciplines, these guys love to get exercise. They love to be together, to pray together. They have great attitudes, and even though they win a lot of games, winning isn't the most important thing to them.

This year, as the flag football season approaches, they had many more guys wanting to play than they had room for. So three or four of them got together to decide how to run the team this fall. Aside from deciding who would be on the team, they wanted to take their regular prayer times to a new level:

"What if we go through a book together or something?"

They decided on a classic called Steps to Christ, and although the season hasn't officially started, they've already begun their group readings and sharing, many of them even posting their thoughts for all to see on Facebook.

Football isn't my thing. But as the season approaches, I'm delighted that my husband has such a great group of friends to spend time with, learning and growing together in character as they also get some much-needed physical exercise to balance out the rigor of academic studies. I'll probably even try to watch a game or two.

01 October 2011

Sabbath Blessings (So Far)

With my husband away for the evening (I was staying home to have a quiet, restful evening), I had more than an hour before sundown and the beginning of the Sabbath. Realizing that a Visa gift card we had expired yesterday, I attempted to spend the balance online. With that failing, I thought I walk up to the nearest store (we have only one car, and my husband had driven it to vespers where he was playing the piano) and buy a little fruit.

I walked over the bridge, and saw that the trees and the river looked something like the picture above. In the store, I found apples, spaghetti sauce, some bird seed. I thought I had a little left to spend, so I set out in search of tofu.

But instead of tofu, what should I find but half-gallon canning jars! Right then and there I knew I needed a cart! This size of canning jar is not quite easy to find in our little Michigan town and the surrounding area, and with plans to make apple juice in a week or two, I could not pass these up even though I knew I would need to spend more money than originally planned.

On my way back, I ran into another canning friend who I knew had been searching and searching for this particular kind of jar.

"They have half-gallon jars!" I gleefully announced, and we both went straight to them, loaded our carts, and went our separate ways.

I checked out, paying for everything including my four boxes of jars. Only as the bagger began loading everything back into my cart did I realize my dilemma.

"Oh, no! I didn't bring my car, and I don't know how to get everything home!" I blurted.

I stood there sheepishly wondering what I was going to do. I didn't see my fellow jar buyer anywhere in the near vicinity. My husband would be in the middle of practicing with the other musicians, so I couldn't call him. The bagger was telling me I could leave the jars at the store and come right back to get them. But he didn't understand. My car wasn't waiting for me at home. If I tried to walk home and back, it would take me at least four trips to get everything taken care of. And I couldn't even make one return trip before sundown.

I looked toward the store entrance right at the same moment that two musicians came through the door. Friends! I knew they would have come in at least one car if not one car each. I knew they would rescue me.

Sure enough, I waited for the one to finish her purchases. She drove me home, helped me carry in my boxes of jar-treasure. I sent her away with a plate of supper. And she laughed at me (well, with me, I suppose, since I was laughing at me too).

Then followed a quiet evening, with reading, conversations with my mom and one sister-in-law, a long warm bath. My husband came home to a tower of boxes beside the couch, and he was overjoyed to learn that we now had vessels for the apple juice we're longing to make.

And we've had other Sabbath blessings as the morning came and turned to afternoon:

  • Hearing voices of loved ones living continents away from me

  • Hearing voices read and share what they have learned from group Bible study

  • Hearing voices of husband and the choir he is in making music during the worship hour

  • Sitting with young friends while their parents and my husband sang in choir

  • Seeing the sunrise, and a cloudless sky

  • Seeing a cardinal in our bush, eating its berries

  • Seeing a friend from far away, who is here for a family visit as well as business

  • Feeling the warmth of the heater on my feet

  • Smelling food warming up in the oven, which we will also soon taste

  • Tasting barley crackers, sent to us from Mom in Oregon