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!