Friday, December 25, 2009

family in Memphis

It was an orange on orange occasion for Josiah- orange tie, orange hood for graduation from the University of Tennessee, Memphis. John and I were there in person, back row seats, in the balcony-So memorable!
I'm remembering a year ago July when we drove through Memphis on our summer road trip; Josiah had just moved there to begin nursing school at UT-lots of challenges, lots of unknowns for him. . .and I told myself:
"Young lions do lack and suffer hunger but those who seek the Lord will not be in want of any good thing".
I repeated it -I've discovered that repetition of truth is good for the soul-especially when it involves mothering.
And there were crooks. . . "Consider what God has done: Who can straighten what He has made crooked?" (Ecc 11:13) God brought some "crooked" events into Josiah's life (3 different addresses in 18 months!-how can a mother send cookies?) Could I trust God with the crooks even if I didn't understand? Could I trust God even if He chose not to straighten the crooks for Josiah?
Of course, I must-not that I'm that great at trusting, but I'm yearning. . ."Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!" (Rom 11:33)

Nursing school is behind Josiah-he has a job in Memphis.
he has a church family in Memphis, a place to worship and serve God, and soon he'll have a wife- in July he'll marry Lindsey who he met at church in Memphis.
life doesn't get much sweeter . . .

Thursday, December 24, 2009

off to Spain on Christmas Eve

It's Christmas Eve and Jeremiah and Mercy are off to visit their siblings in Spain and England. Ah, how I love these two, my youngest! I'm thinking about them right now, flying over the ocean-their first trip out of the United States. . .
You can't go anywhere without your passports-don't loose them! I said.
family gifts and requested items are stuffed in the mamouth pink bag-things like: corn husks, dried chilies-ancho, guajillo, chipotle-(guess what the girls have planned!)
Don't forget to pick up the suitcase in Madrid and recheck to Bilboa. . .I said.
Jeremiah has his handy sound proof headphones - he brought a pair for Mercy in his pocket-hmmm, kind brother. . .
Remember to be very kind to any tired parents with cranky children on your flights, I said.
We pulled up to the airport curb and John asked if they wanted us to just drop them off and be on our way? . . .I think they knew we wanted to be there, to wave. . .
so we prayed with our youngest -
Remember, kids, (remember heart) the Lord controls every detail of your journey!

Monday, December 21, 2009

the queen of spices. . .

Cardamon, grown in tropical Guatemala-they say it's the queen of spices. . .I love its sweet-mysterious aroma and flavor (what does it smell like? I ask myself eveytime I unskrew the jar!) they say Cardamon is added to most Scandanavian pasteries; I like to think that my Danish grandmother put Cardamon in her Chritmas stollen!
So, most years I make a Swedish coffee bread in December, to eat and to give away-a simple yeast bread, braided and with Cardamon. Hmmm, how I love the aroma of the spice when added to the hot milk, sugar, and melted butter.
When I make Swedish coffee bread I think of my neighbor in Portand, Oregon who 30 years ago gave me this recipe. We made it together, maybe 20 loaves that year-a recipe from her father who came from Sweden. I make the bread, add the Cardamon and think of how God graciously placed this sweet woman in the corner house in my neighborhood, not just for Swedish coffee bread at Christmas, but because I needed her. . .mostly to teach me by example to love my husband and to lovingly train my little daughter.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

the things they teach me. . .

She said, "Here's the hard part-if I had already learned God's lessons in my own life, then I could teach my children. . ."
Ah, I know all about it- if only I had conquered impatience. . .Me, always patient, perfectly patient, then I could teach it, perfectly model it. . .
but I battle my flesh every day-I'm humble, weak -this is why I need a Savior!

We were together over coffee-and a young woman requested prayer. . .would I pray she would have courage to call a relative, to ask forgiveness for her angry words in the past?
"Of course, and what prompts you to call?" I asked her.
"I want a clean conscience before the Lord," she said.
Simply a clean conscience-to bring God glory, Imagine that!
Over coffee with another woman, we talked about trusting God, Psalm 76- about how the children of Israel distrusted God in the wilderness, and "His anger mounted because they did not believe."
"Look here in Hebrews 3, what God says about unbelief- an unbelieving heart is an evil heart!" she said.
hmmm, Good reminder, I thought.
From my meetings this week, another young woman faces a difficult providence, declaring to me God's goodness . . .yet another is stepping out in faith into realms unfamiliar to me-she's excited, I'm trembling a bit for her. . .
They teach me so much, these dear women; God is working in their lives, and I get to observe the changes.
Then I wonder and worship the King.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

December. . .and a worthy pursuit

So, it's December. . . time again to force narcissus bulbs indoors for that winter feeling in south Texas; again John and I chose a Christmas tree, just the two of us-he tied it on the Jetta, on the bicycle rack, nifty for bikes or trees or tents or whatever my husband imagines to tie on there.
Again we celebrated the first Sunday of advent with the dear Bisagni family, remembering how "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory. . ." Ahh, the wonder never ceases.
And again I read Papa Panov's Special Day (Tolstoy) to the children gathered- a thoughtful tale of Christmas with gospel truth.
I like the secure feeling of doing something meaningful again and again. . .don't you?
Over coffee recently, Francey and I were talking about our hearts; we encouraged each other: at any given moment in any day, who or what satisfies and delights my heart? Hmmm. . . Psalm 119, I love to read the psalmist's deep passionate heart's longing after God-to seek and know Him, to know and obey His Word. . .
Considering all the good things that crowd our December days-Francy and I decided to read Psalm 119 repeatedly this month, a worthy pursuit for December.

Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart. I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end. (Ps 119: 11,112)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

About potatoes, men, and tradition. . .

John and I spent Thanksgiving week at Noah and Jamey's home in Dallas; I got to cook along side my sweet daughter-in-law in her sunny red and yellow kitchen. Josiah, Jeremiah, and Mercy joined us from Memphis, College Station, and Lubbock (we call them our young adults!)

So, it's tradition in our family. . .the job of mashed potatoes belongs to the boys. I remember in Mexico- the older two lugging the bucket outside to peel potatoes in the cornfield; over the years they've peeled, sliced, and perfected the mashing. . . smooth with a few gourmet lumps. I'm just thankful there are still boys (now men) around to work on mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving 2009. . .
Jamey's menu included simple sweet potatoes, baked with a sprinkle of streusel and marshmallows; however, Noah intervened with his signiture dish-I'll call it. . . sweet potatoes with chipotle and streusel! Prepare Noah's sweet potatoes like this: carefully halve the baked sweet potatoes and scoop out the golden goodness, mash with a little butter, brown sugar, diced chipotle peppers (canned) and gently spoon back into the skins; next top with a streusel: 1/2 cup each, flour, brown sugar, butter, some chopped pecans, then a sprinkle of miniture marshmallows and pop back in the oven for a few minutes.
There you have Noah's sweet potatoes with a little kick-sweet, savory, and chipotle pepper spicey.
I think it's nice to have men in the kitchen. . .

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Ask/Answer for discipleship

I ask a lot of questions (maybe too many?). . . for discipleship, I've discovered that asking good questions creates an atmosphere where a woman shares her life with me.
So-I ask Tell me about questions:
Tell me how you came to know the Lord?
-about your family growing up?
-about an important person in your life?
-how you met your husband? one thing you learned about him after you were married? what you love about Christ's body, the church? Tell me about your day, the high and low? about a challenge? a temptation? how you battled sin this week? how you were encouraged by Scripture?. . .and more.
And I ask How can I questions: How can I help you? Encourage you? Pray for you? basically, I'm asking, "What's on your mind?. . .What do you want to talk about today."
If asking questions seems unnatural, practice with someone else. . . sometimes John and I practice questions on our Sunday drive to church; then we're ready to talk personally with those the Lord brings our way.
Recently I was driving to an event with a young woman I'm getting to know-I was asking questions. . . .then she stopped me, "Wait, you're always asking about me, how are you doing today?" Good, I thought, now we're both sharing our lives!
So, if I'm going to be dishing out the questions, then I'd better be ready to share some answers! Don't fear discipleship because you don't have all the answers. I encourage a woman to come with her own questions about whatever- then I pray, "Lord, today when she comes to me with questions, help me to humbly answer and to know when I can't. . ."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Available for discipleship

So being affectionately desireous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. (1 Thess 2:8)

Our call to disciple women is about being available-simply available; I like to imagine how it might have looked for the Apostle Paul, desireous to share himself with the dear Thessalonian believers.

And me? normally I don't ask a woman directly, "Would you like me to disciple you?" I might suggest that we meet for coffee some time, and if she's interested-well, I pull out my calendar on the spot, and make a date! then I see where it leads, wait and watch-our date may develop into regular planned meetings or occasional meetings; am I discipling this woman? whatever it's called, I try to be available.
These days, I have lots of time to pursue discipleship with few distractions-but what about women who have more time restrictions? I'm encouraged as I watch. . .a group of women from my church gather regularly for park day, including menu planning-and in the midst, they're available to one another and discipleship opportunities abound!
Remember, discipleship isn't about putting coffee dates on the calendar. . .it's not so much what we do but what we give and who we are in every encounter.
A caution regarding time restrictions and busy lives. . . I've noticed that busy-ness cuts into availabilty. I've heard, "I was going to call you, but I know you are soooo busy!" Uggh. . . do I appear soooo busy?
And perhaps I really am too busy with stuff that doesn't matter for eternity?
just so you know-if you want to meet me for coffee, I'll make the time. . .

Monday, November 16, 2009

Attitudes for discipleship. . .

So, here's some thoughts from my contribution to the Titus 2 discipleship panel, Three A's of Discipleship; first, I think Attitude is essential if our ambition is to please the Lord in any discipleship endeavor. Here's four worthy attitudes, four which I'm still working on. . .
Thankful: occasionally I think of women with well defined jobs, jobs with titles recognized as worthy pursuits, and then I'm tempted to wonder, what do I really do. . .? But then I review Titus 2:3-5, and I'm immediately thankful. God is so good to put women to work, to define our work for the kingdom-this isn't a second hand life, you know! The apostle Paul was "well pleased" to impart the gospel and his life to the Thessalonian believers-and so am I.

Humble: As I share my life with younger women, I remind my heart, Clothe yourself with humility towards one another (1 Peter5:5). . . afterall, discipleship is one beggar giving another beggar bread-we're both beggars, both need the Bread of Life; my trials, struggles, sins are no different than yours'-my life circumstances may wear different clothes, but our God never changes, and matters of the heart are the same. Preparing for a meeting, I remind myself, "I am going to learn something about God from this girl today!"

Dependent: I remind myself, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. . ." (Prov 3:5-6). I think there's a bit of trembling in every heart as we anticipate a discipleship opportunity- that's good, moment by moment dependence on the Lord, for we are certainly weak women! When I ride with the bicycle group in my family, they tell me, "No Coasting Allowed!". . .indeed, and that's true for discipleship. For you see, I've known the Lord for almost 40 years- I can sound pretty good; there's always the tempation to coast. I'd best spend dedicated time in the Word, in prayer and preparation-or I may just give out garbage disguised as bread.

Loving: So, the Lord has put a wonderful girl in my life; I am eager to know her, to share the Savior, to share my life with her. But just as mothers we love our children with an undescribable affection, there are times when they provoke us to irritation, to impatience, and more. It's like that with discipleship too- so first I deal with my own sin and pray, "Lord, give me a love for this dear woman." And sometimes loving means saying the hard thing-recently a woman thanked me for meeting with her and for saying the hard thing; I didn't even realize I was saying the hard thing. . . (hmmm, maybe I'm getting better at that one!)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

all about buttons

My friend Liz told her little boys, Isaiah and Josesph, that I was coming to visit; I arrived and they shouted, "Hello, Mrs. Buttons!" Newton? Buttons? what a sweet name-and I do love buttons.
During our summer road trip I was knitting on the pieces of this vest, organic cotton-lovely color (I almost chose brown. . .)
So, while in Petaluma with my family, the girls had an outting to The Knitterly, the local yarn shop-I asked my nieces Meredith and Alyssa to choose some buttons for my vest. Alyssa, who had just returned from a semester in Costa Rica, thought my vest should have red buttons, but Meredith, the artist, dessented- hmmm, not red-red, but maybe. . . .
I love the memory of my sweet nieces pouring over tubes of buttons-gracious, intent on my request.
I've completed the vest and sewn on the wonderful buttons- I find myself telling the button story-about the buttons and the girls- to anyone expressing even a pinch of interest.
Speaking of buttons. . .in August Mercy took a jar of my buttons to college and last weekend she finished her project: shoes, hot glue gun, beautiful buttons -creative girl!

Monday, November 9, 2009

everybody's older than somebody. . .

Having thus a fond affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us. (1Thess 2:8-9)

hmmm. . .I'm thinking about our Titus 2 fellowship last Thursday, and the panel on discipleship-Everybody's older than somebody (or don't wait til you're 40 or 50 to disciple a younger woman!)
Panel presentations included: discipleship basics, initiating discipleship, diversity in discipleship, resources for discipleship-all so good and challenging.
And me? well, I talked about practical stuff-Three 'A's of discipleship, attitude, available, ask/answer. . .(material for a future post, perhaps?) I'm just grateful for the opportunity to participate-to talk about what I love doing!

Then on Friday I drove to Lubbock to visit Mercy at Texas Tech (hmmm, sweet memories of sleeping in college beds with Rachel, Naomi, Abigail) and I met Meredith-I'd heard so much about her. . .Meredith meets Mercy for coffee on Saturday mornings- and lots more; there's no doubt that Meredith has a fond affection for Mercy, imparts not only gospel truth, but her own life- no doubt that my daughter is very dear to her-and I thank the Lord for Meredith. . .and for the reminder that everybody's older than somebody.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

fond associations

Today I'm wearing Abigail's cordoroy jacket with lovely painted buttons-the one she passed on to me last year; I'm thinking about Nathaniel and Abi in London, thinking about their Sunday at Christ Church Bromley. I'm imagining what it might be like to enjoy fellowship after evening worship with tea and toasties (grilled cheese!)

And-I'm thinking about my dear friend, Pam. . . for you see, along with Abi's jacket, today I'm wearing Pam's blue blue sweater-the one she knit, and then decided it would be a better fit for me! In July we had a flurry of visits planned in the San Francisco Bay Area; it didn't look asthough I could fit in a visit with Pam, however, my sweet husband made it work- there we were in Menlo Park, at Pam's door for lunch! Ah. . .to be thankful for just an hour or two-a surge of conversation, even sweet tears, a visit to the garden, pictures of grandchildren, knitting and ministry talk, catching up fast; then we exchanged books: I gave her The Gospel Primer by Milton Vincent and she gave me Safely Home by Randy Alcorn (which John and I read aloud together during the rest of our road trip.)

hmmm. . .it's been a good day with fond associations.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

about a pilrim's progress. . .

The other evening John and I situated our little laptop on a sturdy chair in the bedroom and inserted the Pilgrim's Progress DVD- whether viewing the old or new version or reading the classic, it's always a worthy pursuit. It's about every pilgrim's progress-it's about me. . .
So, I'm watching. . . then Christian and Hopeful lumber over that fence, off the rocky path, into pastures of ease, into the land of Giant Despair-in my mind I'm yelling, What are you doing? don't you know that's danger? foolish! Get back on the path. . .(curious how from a distance one can easily discern another's wanderings.)
And me? I confess to wandering- both blindly and deliberately off the path, the path so clearly marked for me by the King. . .
"But I say, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the deeds of the flesh." Galatians 5:17 tumbles around inside me from this week's Bible study-Heart, how do I walk by the spirit?
I cling to the image of the pilgrims walking. . .and so I walk, step by step, choosing to depend on the Spirit moment by moment, crying out to Him in prayer, exposing my mind to Scripture, seeking to obey it, grateful for opportunities to put sin to death. . .
I cling to the image of true companionship-the pilgrims in Doubting Castle lay perishing; then Hopeful encouraged his depairing companion with truth-together they remembered the promises of God.
"Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. . ." (Ecc 4:9-12)
hmmm,. . .so we talked about that last week too, about true friends, those who challenge and exhort, who hold us accountable even when it's risky, who tell us truth when we wander-I want to be and to have that sort of friend, don't you?. . . even when it's risky.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

sweet. . . and robust

hmmm. . .our Sunday afternoon-sweet and robust. . .
John planned lunch after Sunday worship for the men who share the Bible teaching at the homeless shelter every Tuesday-the men and the wives, Ralph and Vanessa, John and Roseann, Gary and Elizabeth. He ordered in Texas barbecue- I couldn't resist preparing a seasonal dessert to share, here's the recipe which includes my favorite things: apples, cranberries, oats, cream.

Cranberry Apple Crisp
8 cups sliced apples (I used 7 galas and 3 granny smith), 1 1/2 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen), 1/2 cup sugar, 3 Tbls. flour, 1 tsp. vanilla, splash of lemon or lime juice.
Combine all of the above in 9 by 12 baking dish. Sprinkle with topping: 3/4 cup flour, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 3/4 cup rolled oats, 3/4 cup butter cut into dry ingredients, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg. Bake at 375 for about 50 minutes. serve with whipped cream or ice cream.
Sweet dessert, robust coffee. . .
but really, the robust part-the conversation- began when the eating was over, when only the crumbs remained- it began with a simple question to Ralph and Vanessa, "So tell us. . .what's one thing you've learned about each other in your first year of marriage?"
then the flurry of worthy talk unfolded, talk focused on the Lord, strong to save- and me? I listened, just listened -imagine that?
So-apples, cranberries, sweet cream, personal stories of God's grace, dear saints. . . Sunday afternoon couldn't be better.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

testimony of endurance. . .

for you have need of endurance (Heb 10:36). . .hmmm, that's true for me, so I've been thinking about it- studying it . . .here's a good definition:
Endurance- steady determination to keep going regardless of the temptation to slow down or give up.
I admit I'm tempted to slow down and even to give up when circumstances press on me. I admit that sometimes amid the race I'm tempted to hault, to shout, "I hate this race!"
hmmm, then I remember Jesus, who walked steadfastly to the cross, who bore my sins in his body that I might die to sin and live to righteousness. . .
One day in July, John and I were encouraged by a testimony of endurance-actually two in one day; we call it our widows day. It all began with a ferry ride across the Pudget Sound to Edmonds, Washington where we met our friend Lonita.

We first met Roy and Lonita 30 years ago during transition times; they were returning to the States after years of missionary service in the Philippians-we were getting ready to leave the States for Mexico. Lonita has gently spoken God's truth to me over the decades, mostly through letters. The year I turned 42, she shared with me the challenges of menopause, what God had taught her -I'm thankful for her transparency; I remember that and try to do the same.
Lonita is 84- last year her dear husband went to be with the Lord; she lives with her daughter, is declining physically-but oh, so cheerful!
So, over lunch that day in July, I asked Lonita how I can pray for her, "Pray that I would be fruitful for God." she said.
Next we drove 2 hours to visit our friend Dottie in Bellingham.
30 years ago when John and I first moved to Mexico, we met Ray and Dottie-they had served God in a Mexican village, raised their boys and moved to Puebla for a new ministry; we were green, they were seasoned. . . can you imagine how I flooded Dottie with questions? sometimes it was the language, the customs, other times it was my own sick child; when we came from the village to Puebla for a day, I visited Dottie, sitting in her tiny kitchen. . . she introduced me to books by missionary Isobel Kuhn and encouraged me to borrow one off her shelf for a good village read!
Dottie is 83; her dear husband went to be with the Lord 20 years ago. So, over dinner in July, we talked about her transition back to the States, about God's lessons and goodness, about her ministry to college girls (that's right, she's still discipling girls!). I asked Dottie how I can pray for her, "Pray that I'll stay the course", she said.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin. . .and let us run with endurance the race set before us. . . (Heb 12:1,2)
I'm convinced of God's calling on my life to be faithful in the race- for me, Lonita and Dottie are part of that great cloud of witnesses who loudly cheer me on to keep running. . . with endurance.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

stone soup on a good day

Last weekend our grand girls spent the day with us at 2305 St. Anthony- we read Stone Soup and then we made stone soup.
Our version of the French folktale, Stone Soup, (retold by John Warren Stewing and illustrated by Margot Tomes) highlights a young girl named Grethel, who arrives in a village tired and hungry; she stops at the first house, and asks politely, "Could you spare some food for a hungry traveler?" Not only does the fellow refuse her request, but all the villagers feign poverty and make excuses while hiding their potatoes, cabbages, carrots, and hams, down wells and under beds.
(they are selfish! says our girl)
Ah, but Grethel, a clever lass, calls out to the peasants, "Good folk, since you have no food, we will just have to use my stone to make stone soup!" So the peasants haul a large iron pot into the village square-add water, a little salt, pepper, stir, stir, taste, stir . . . "This stone always makes excellent soup but adding a few carrots makes it even tastier!" says Grethel; and soon the villagers run to fetch vegetables, barley, and beef to stir into the stone soup-"a nobleman's soup-and all from a stone!" they exclaim.
And that day there was a feast in the village square. . .
(now they are sharing and they don't even know it! says our girl)

So, inorder to make stone soup at our house-grand Papi and Julia hunted up 2 nice stones from the yard and scrubbed them in the bathroom sink (notice Aunt Mercy's purse-perfect for carrying stones or other 3 year old treasures- and high heels, perfect for. . )

Amaleah wanted to be sure that our soup exactly replicated the soup in the story; together we peeled, chopped and added as indicated, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, beef, barley-stir and taste
(I snuck in some garlic!)
And that day there was a feast at 2305 St. Anthony St. . .

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Good Cake

hmmm. . .to have a cafe, a bakery with pastries-the best cherry strudel in town-good coffee and ambiance for hearty conversation. . .I doubt such a place will materialize in my future, but surely one can dabble. . .
for years carrot cake was the dessert of choice for our September birthday boys; however, by and by carrot cake fell out of favor- other yummy desserts replaced the old standby. . .
this year, upon request, I made a wonderful chocolate cake with mint filling and ganache frosting for Noah and Josiah (who share a September birthday).
But then, recently a new carrot cake recipe came my way, recommended by trusty taste testers-from Cook's Illustrated, I think the key in the cake is the emulsified oil which keeps the cake light and moist; the cream cheese frosting is a delight to those (like me!) who perfer a less sweet cake topping.
all this chatter because recipes have stories, don't you think?
Carrot Cake
2 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
6-7 medium carrots, peeled, grated
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups canola oil
Preheat oven to 350. whisk together first 7 ingredients in bowl, set aside. Grate carrots(you should have about 3 cups), add to bowl with dry ingredients. In bowl of food processor, mix sugars with eggs until frothy and thoroughly combined; with the machine running, add the oil through the feed tube in a slow, steady stream. Process until the mixture is light in color and well emulsified. Stir together all the ingredients and pour into prepared pans (9x13 rectangle, muffin tins, or 2 round cake pans) and bake until tooth pick inserted comes out clean (about 35 min. for 9x13, less time for rounds or muffins). cool at room temperature.
Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
5 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon sour cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
with mixer or food processor, cream the cheese, butter, sour cream and vanilla til smooth; add confectioners' sugar and mix until very smooth; with spatula spread frosting on tops and or sides of cake. Enjoy!
So, I made the New Newton Carrot Cake for Luke's September birthday-rave reviews!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Kaleidoscope. . .

Kaleidoscope: a continually changing pattern of shapes and colors-beautiful!
And so it was-our lovely visit in July with the Goodnoughs in Tacoma, Washington. . . Ronn and Elizabeth, our dear friends for 10 years-
our July Kaleidoscope included food around the little backyard table, breakfasts and lunches- tasty, textured, colorful (agreed, Goodnoughs and Newtons take pictures of food!), a walk to the neighborhood Vietnamese restaurant. . .
refreshing, earnest conversation very late in the night about life-joys and struggles, work, family, children, schooling, the church, the Saviour. . .together we watched the movie Bella and talked about adoption-and the heart of their adoptons.
Play-bicycles, parks-green, tree filled parks-and water everywhere!
Children-perhaps the highlight of our Goodnough visit-the delight of watching our friends shepherd the hearts of their sweet girls, Brielle with fuzzy dark curls and Elaina with yellow springy curls. . . we prayed for them and now we know them-

Sunday on the drive to church I sat beside Brielle, chatting, "Mrs. Newton, what is your birth mother's name?" she asked so sweetly.
And the week after our visit in Tacoma, Ron and Elizabeth flew to Seoul, Korea to bring baby Titus home- Imagine the rejoicing!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

it doesn't get much sweeter . . .

yesterday Gabrielle gave birth to our grandson, Landis Arndt. . . life doesn't get much sweeter than this- welcome to the family, little man!

. . . early yesterday morning I approached the stately entrance to University Hospital, sloshing through the rain in my trusty Dansko clogs, I felt emotion swelling up. . . suprising for me, a woman not prone to quick emotional responses.
I'm going to this place to be with my son and daughter-in-law for my grandson's birth. . .this place where my own son works everyday, caring for patients-women, babies, families-imagine that?
I passed thorugh the automated doors, massive hospital, crowds of people, found my way to elevator D, the 4th floor, labor and delivery; there in room 8, I found my family, smiling, anticipating, laboring. . .

and Gabrielle persevered in the hardest work a woman ever does-
and I was there-on the other side of the pushing (a first for me) to watch his head crown, to hear his first little noises. . .
to watch my son cut the umbilical cord-routine for him, perhaps, but this time it was his son-
to hug my sweet daughter-in-law. . .and of course, with emotion.

Grand Papi meets Landis
The Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting, and His faithfulness to all generations (Psalm 100)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

knitting blue

So, I'm knitting blue these days-lots of little boys (and their mothers) in my life. Here's a blue sweater I worked on during the summer road trip . I wasn't sure if there would be enough blue yarn (Classic Elite 50% cotton 50% microfiber), so I added white sleeve stripes-I like it!

baby Aaron is the sweet recipient of the blue and white sweater-he was born in January, weighing 1 lb. 15 oz.-keep growing little man; soon the weather will be cool enough and you'll be big enough to actually wear the sweater!
Aaron's mom, Kate, and I have almost finished our study of Trusting God by Jerry Bridges.
Kate and I are growing too. . .

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

the day I took the bus. . .

I've been thinking about Paul's epistle to Philemon-
"I have much joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you."
hmmm. . . I want to be like Philemon, who refreshed the saints -so, how does that look in my life? Am I quick to refresh even when it means a personal inconvenience? Sometimes, Sigh. . .
But last week I had an opportunity--my friend had invited me to join her at a local restaurant to celebrate her birthday- and to celebrate the end of her 2 month house confinement with a broken leg. Indeed, I'll be there!
However, the day arrived and the Jetta's transmission was in pieces on the driveway. . .so, the dilemma (one of countless in our daily lives, right?)
John suggested the bus (the inconvenient bus). . . so the next morning at 8:15, I boldly boarded the bus a block from home along with a crowd of neighborhood highschoolers in purple and khaki uniforms, and with head phones. I put my money in the slot, A transfer, please! and I remembered this humble phrase, I don't often ride the bus, I need help!
I waited with a bus stop crowd downtown and finally boarded bus#2 with more confidence; bus #2 took me north, north, north-with help from the very kind bus driver, I got off at my destination at 10:00! Next I hiked a mile to the restaurant, which was fine (walking shoes would have been better than party shoes!)
And I was there for my friend, just in time; she was delighted-
- me too.
Will I ride the bus again? Sure, and next time perhaps I'll have conversation with the bus crowd, who knows where that may lead?
So, this post is dedicated to my lovely girls in Pamplona and London, Rachel, Naomi, and Abigail, who ride the public bus everyday. . .and refresh the saints.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

little blue book in my bag

Here's a good picture book-Pelle's New Suit, by Elsa Beskow; perhaps you can imagine the story line from the picture on the cover: Pelle, a little Swedish boy, had a lamb of his own-the lamb grew, Pelle grew, the lamb's coat grew longer but Pelle's coat only grew shorter! So one day Pelle took the sheers and cut off all the lamb's wool. . .

Then he took the wool to his grandmother, "Granny dear, please card this wool for me!" Of course this good grandmother cheerfully agreed and she also gave Pelle a job, "that I will do my dear if you will pull the weeds in my carrot patch!" (I would be that kind of grandmother who plants carrots and pulls weeds!)

Then Pelle went to the other grandmother, "Grandmother, please spin this wool into yarn for me!" the other grandmother gladly agreed to help her sweet boy AND she gave him a job to do, "if while I am spinning, you will tend my cows." (oh, to be this grandmother with a great bundle of keys on her belt, unlocking secret rooms and treasure boxes. . .)
So, the story clips along. . . dying the wool blue, weaving the cloth, sewing the suit, and for each one who helps in the process, Pelle, in turn, completes the requested job.

I love the story, the illustrations, the memory of hearing it as a child and reading it to my children. I remember a library copy, rectangular with large pictures; so when I ordered the book for my grandchildren on, I was disappointed to discover that the new edition is very small and the pictures, sometimes two to a page have been reduced considerably. I'd prefer the older edition!
Hmmm. . .I love the grandmother part in Pelle's New Suit- how the grandmothers both shared in the suit making endeavor. And so it is in my world-I share grandmothering with my friend Martha; how we dearly love our sweet grand girls (and the tiny lad we're about to meet)-and I think we bring a bit of variety to the role. . .Amaleah says that I am the knitting grandmother and Martha is the sewing grandmother-nice, don't you think?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

just us two in Mendicino

I love the Mendecino coast, north of San Francisco, a meandering drive from the Pacific to the Redwoods and back to the ocean. And the journey up the coast seemed especially sweet in July since John and were alone together, just the two of us. We stopped at a little grocery and picked up lunch fixings, had a picnic with the seagulls, just the two of us. We were looking forward to gatherings with lots of great folks in the Seattle area, but for now it was good to be just us two.

After a stop in a Redwood grove (my husband had to hug a very big tree!), we pushed north, hoping to pitch our little tent at Patricks Point State Park-for you see, we have a memory . . .

many, many years ago, our family camped one night at Patricks Point, a lovely wooded park-I remember there were four big children in one tent and four little children in the second tent with John and me; it stormed fiercely in the night, thunder, lightening, pouring rain (I hate tent camping in a lightening storm!), crashing tree limbs. . .and in the morning we unzipped the tent flap and discovered a sturdy tree limb-flush against the corner of our tent, inches from where sweet 5 year old Josiah had been snoozing.
Hmmm, such a memory causes a woman to reflect on God's eternal purposes, don't you think? Lord, Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them (Ps 139).

So, this weekend John and I will be with Josiah on his 25th birthday! we'll be rejoicing, for Josiah loves and serves the Lord who wrote his name and the days of his life in the eternal book.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

things that are orange. . .and a memory

I can't say that Orange has ever been on my favorite's list. . .however it's looking better and better; I love to sit in my friend's cheery orange kitchen-an orange Kitchenaide mixer sits on the counter! So, during our summer trip I was on the look out for orange. . .
In July the nastursiums were blooming profusely on the California coast-bright orange. I've always loved these little flowers and their flat round leaves which don't seem to grow in Texas-Californians pull them up like weeds, imagine that?

And in July we visited my family in Northern California-Mom, my sisters and their families. Tom and Teri came from the valley with two boxes of California peaches, juicey ripe, tangy and orange. So, I was slicing a mountain of fragrant peaches and Beth said, "Remember the August we moved to 73 Laburnum Rd (early 60's)? Remember the peach trees in the backyard and how Dad taught us to eat fresh peaches for breakfast?"

Hmmm, indeed- I remember. . . California Freestone Peaches, two mature trees that we called our orchard; our Dad ate them peeled, and sliced in a bowl with milk poured over, no sugar-and we did the same, just like our Dad.

Thanks girls- for the peaches and for the sweet memory.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

praying for them on the 1st. . .

September 1st. . .there's something fresh, expectant about the first of the month, don't you think? I like to read Proverbs 1 and Psalms 1 on the first day of the month-no special significance, merely my habit-and it's good; today, I'm also starting up the book of 2 Peter-it's a day of firsts!
Reading today. . . .I thought of this little group, my youngest-20, 22, 24 years old, growing up. . . I know, I know, legally they're adults, but as I see it, growing up is a process and they're on the path. . .
So, my dear young adults, I prayed for you today-

  • that you would delight and desire the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night, bearing fruit for your Savior, fruit in it's season! (Psalm 1:2-3)
  • that you would remember- the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom- remember to cultivate a teachable heart, to hear and acquire wise counsel. (Proverbs 1:5)
  • that you would remember the Savior, constantly-for He has given you everything you need for life and godliness through the true knowledge of Him! (2 Peter 1:3)

Hmmm, I love ya'll - have a good life. I'll keep reading. . . and praying. . .

Thursday, August 27, 2009

a worthy pursuit

Mercy, our youngest, started school today-her third year of college, seven hours away from home. I'm missing her. . .

So, I'm cleaning out closets and files and I came across an entire folder of The Elisabeth Elliot Newsletter. I've been reading through them, one or two every night; here's a portion from the May/June 2001, a selection she titles, A Strange Peace:

"Shortly before my daughter Valerie, my only child, went off to college as a freshman, a sudden tide came over me one morning . . .She has grownup, I told myself. My job is finished, the job I loved more than anything else I have ever done. The nest is about to empty. Overcome with sadness, I sat down at the wicker table, picked up the phone, and dialed Van, who is the type of friend you don't have to explain things to. Tears came as soon as I tried to talk.
'It's O.K. Bet,' she said quietly. 'It'll be O.K.'
She did not need to explain to me what she meant. She knew I understood, we believe the same things. . .but I needed to hear her say it. I needed to have the Word made flesh for me in her voice. Van's simple word, It'll be O.K., encouraged me to trust and obey. I learned that in this renunciation I had what the seed has that falls into the ground--a new potential for life-giving. I would be lonely, but I now had something precious to offer in love to my Lord, which in turn would make something quite different out of my loneliness. In some mysterious way which I could not predict, that offering would bring forth fruit. It would make a difference to the wholeness of the Body of which I was but a single member. . ."

So much good here- I think about Mercy, and me. . .and others in my life who are learning to trust and obey God with his good providence, with loneliness, lack, weakness. . .
And in her weakness, Elisabeth called a friend, one whom she was confident would speak truth to her. hmmm. . .wise women, both of them, and what a great model for biblical friendship-I want to be that kind of a friend, don't you-vulnerable, truthful, refreshing. . .a worthy pursuit.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

a sensible extravagance

We left Molly in Davis on a Tuesday in July, and headed to the coast, racing the sun. There was a plan- to pitch our little tent before dark at the Bodega Bay state park. . .but alas, the park was full-full of R.V.s, no room for tents, imagine that?
So, we kept driving-along the dark and curvy coastal highway.
John pulled off in Jenner, on an estuary, where the Russian River meets the Pacific. "Let's see how much it costs to stay at this bed and breakfast," he said.
Yep- more pricey than the $6 state park fee-but we decided to get a room, me with more reluctance than he. . .
John trotted our bicycles down two flights of wooden stairs and when we opened the door, the little cabin room smelled like cedar-hmmm. . .Extravagant, indeed!

And in the morning we watched the fowl on the estuary, then walked down the foggy road to breakfast in the big house dinning room-waffles with a little pot of syrup and sliced fresh fruit, a side bar of hot drinks. John whispered to me, "do you think this is it?"
hmmm, just my kind of breakfast-his face still looked hungry. . .I placed half my waffle on his empty plate. It was nice.

But the truth is. . . my heart constricts at the thought of spending a little extra on something . . .well, on something sensibly extravagant, like one night in a B&B or the like-why is that, heart?
Then I think about my God - extravagant in creation, rich in mercy, abounding in lovingkindness to those who call upon his name, lavish in his grace and goodness.
And He's given us all things richly to enjoy!

So today, over coffee with Kate, I felt compelled to tell her, "Plan into your life some sensible extravagance!" -now, was that random?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I love this girl. . .

On a Tuesday in July- John and I left Auburn, stopped in Sacramento and then headed to Davis-home of the California Aggies. We had time for bicycling around campus before meeting our niece, Molly, at 3:00; the campus reminded me of Texas A&M. . . but for the trees, huge Eucalyptus trees-Ahh, the fragrance of Eucalyptus in the heat of summer.
Molly met us on her bicycle- John said, "Molly, that front tire needs air-I told your father I'd check out this bicycle. . ."
So, after a bicycle clinic in the parking lot, we were ready for a grocery store; Molly suggested a few. . . "and then there's the hippy grocery store", she said.
Ahh, yes, sounds like the place for us. . .it was a fun scene-we thought of our own college days, in California, in the early 70's.

So with bread, cheese, fruit, and veggies in my bike basket and hummus in Molly's bag (John was steward of the heavy stuff-fancy drinks from the hippy grocery) we were set for a picnic in the park.
"Aunt Darcie, you put your helmet on backwards. . ."
"Thanks, Molly."
"Wait. . . Aunt Darcie, don't cross yet-the cars!" (I love that girl!)

John and I left Davis at 6:00, headed west. . .
Molly, thanks for making time for us-it was good.