Feb 28, 2011

just life-between-the-buns as usual...

Tomorrow will mark 3 weeks since my mother-in-law had her fall.  We got her settled back into her condo last Wednesday evening.  (We only had to wait 1 1/2 hours beyond the appointed discharge time until the hospital could send a person capable of pushing her wheel chair from her room to the hospital door.)  She's still in pain but navigating carefully with a walker.  I don't know if I've ever mentioned that my mom lives in the same seniors building.  So in a lot of ways it's   interesting  convenient.  We are grateful that the pelvic fracture wasn't worse, as in "dislocated" ... but it's still going to take another couple months to heal.

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to  my Joanna's maternity leave.  She is scheduled for a C-Section on March 30, but as we know, babies make their appearance in God's time, not ours...so we shall see.  It makes it hard to plan a short trip to South Carolina, where my other daughter-in-law, Ellie, is looking at a due date of March 23!

For now, I'm trying to take one day at a time, and longing for spring.  I've eaten way too much comfort food this winter and I need to get outside and get my body moving again.  I'm almost in despair, wondering if I will ever see decent fresh produce in the markets again. Obviously we aren't getting anything locally grown and I'm just plain tired of pale, mushy tomatoes, blueberries that go moldy after two days in my fridge, and limp lettuces.

I did make a yummy dish the other day which I'm sure many of you are familiar with~creamy chicken enchiladas.  I actually toyed with two different recipes, and then added a few ideas of my own.  This makes enough for two casseroles, so either divide it in half, or make two and put one in the freezer for later or to give away.  Let me know if you try it!

3-4 medium to large chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
16 oz. light sour cream
1 26 oz can cream of chicken soup
16 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
approx. 14 regular size flour tortillas
1 1/2 Tbsp. chili powder
chopped green onions or onion powder to taste
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro or 1 Tbsp. dried cilantro
a few drops of Tabasco sauce to taste 
1 15 oz. can black beans, drained
1 small jar salsa


*Bring to boil large pan of water and drop chicken in.  Cover and turn heat off.  Poach chicken about 15 minutes.  Remove from water and let cool.  Chop.

*In large pan, combine chicken, and half of the sour cream, half of the chicken soup, and half of the cheese.  Add beans, salsa, and seasonings.  Combine all with wooden spoon.

*In separate bowl, combine remaining sour cream and soup and set aside. (You can add a little Tabasco and/or chili powder to this also)

*fill tortillas, roll, and place seam side up in baking dish, touching each other.  When dish is full,
cover with soup/sour cream mixture, and top with remaining cheddar cheese. Cover with foil.

*Bake at 350℉ for 40 minutes.

Note:  This recipe will fill two casserole dishes.  Bake one, freeze one if you are not cooking for a crowd!

When serving, garnish side of plate with shredded lettuce, dollop of sour cream, sliced black olives, chopped fresh tomato, and tortilla chips.

Here's a simple and inexpensive craft I did with the kids last week.  They want to hang them on the wall in my "children's bedroom" so I will also purchase a "D" and an "O" for my other two grands, Deacon and Owen.  They can paint them next time they are in Ohio.  Can't have any sibling  cousin rivalry now, can we?  It will be a while till the two new babies will be ready to paint, but I'll buy letters for them too as soon as we know their names!  I think they will look real cute hanging on the walls in "their" room.

This is the paint we use for crafts.  I can find them for about 50 cents a bottle, and I squirt a little of each color they want to use onto a paper plate.  The sponge brushes are economical too, as well as inexpensive brushes.  While they were at it, they found a few other things to paint...

Hubby and I have also been busy helping to promote our church's theme for the year: "Do Justice, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly" (From Micah 6:8).  We have started blogging for the local outreach ministries our church supports to help raise awareness of needs to be filled and ways that people can become engaged in serving.

As part of the Local Outreach team, we are getting to know the various ministries first hand by visiting them, interviewing people who are already engaged, and by serving in small ways ourselves.

So that's been my life for the past couple of weeks..what have you been up to while waiting for this long winter to be over?

Feb 19, 2011

Exceptions to love?

No matter how much we might say or believe that love makes the world go 'round, I have a sneaky suspicion that everyone has an "unloveable" someone in their life.  Christianity is all about love, from the first to the last, and certainly I try to live out Christ's commands to love on a daily basis.  Loving and showing that love to my family is huge for me, and I also consider myself a pretty loyal friend to many. I smile at strangers.  I try to be kind to frenzied waitresses and store clerks.  I'm a soft touch when anyone asks me to give of my time, money, or talent.

Just don't cross me.   I'll love you as long as you are nice to me back.  Just don't betray me, speak condescendingly to me, or judge me.  Because if you do...

Every now and then, those are very real thoughts that go through my mind.  I know in my heart of hearts that I don't even come close to loving others the way Jesus wants me to.  I much prefer to know who my enemies are are keep them at arm's length.  When I'm honest I have to admit: loving my enemies is not something I'm very good at.  

But God isn't finished with me yet.  He keeps chipping and sanding and polishing  me, and for that, I am grateful.  Even for those in my life I really don't want to love, I can honestly say I want to want to.  And so He keeps working on me and in me.  And every now and then He shows me an example of what He can do in the lives of people who are fully committed to Him.

For example, I've recently been learning about a real life situation in a family at our church that is almost beyond belief.  Some years ago, a highly successful professional Christian man and his Christian school teacher wife were raising their two children when the man decided to have an affair.  The marriage blew up, and the man married the other woman. The man's reputation in the Christian community was shot.   In time, the man and his second wife had two children and were moving on in life.  Enter God.  The second wife started attending a woman's bible study at the church and became a believer.  Eventually she persuaded the man to talk to our pastor to see if they might be welcomed into our church family in spite of their wretched past.  

Grace, grace, God's grace. 
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within...
Grace, grace, God's grace.
Grace that is greater than all our sin.

Our pastor was convinced the man who sat before him in his office was not the same person he knew previously.  He had been humbled and radically changed by the God who loves without exception.  The  right hand of Christian fellowship was extended. 

 But the story isn't over.  Today the man and his first wife teach a divorce recovery class at the church.  The second wife and the first wife have become good friends and are seen at Starbucks having coffee together.  Healing has come to this family, and God is glorified.  Our pastor and the man have become close friends and have written a book together which will be out in a few weeks.  

All this has got me to thinking about the "unloveable" people in my life.  Even though they are few, how can I hold back?   If God can cause those two women to love each other for the sake of the Gospel, He can surely help me to love sincerely.  I'm counting on it.  Without exception.

What about you?

Feb 17, 2011

Have you lost your life?

Sometimes my life can get incredibly busy, like lately.  A little over a week ago, I was picking up some meals donated by a sweet lady from my church to be delivered to a local outreach ministry.  Though the temperature was near zero, the sun was out.  Due to some unexpected cicumstances, I got home earlier than I thought I would,  and I was relishing the idea of a little "free" time.  That was when I noticed the blinking light on the answering machine.

My mother-in-law, almost 85, had taken a fall and was in the ER.  After a couple quick phone calls, I was out the door again.  By the time I got back home many hours later, the roast beef I had in the oven, even though on "time bake" was pretty much inedible.  

The next two days were spent babysitting two of my grands, and the evenings were spent at the hospital.  My hubby is an "only" so we are "it".  On Friday, a "day off",  I had previously scheduled to do some things with my mom, who no longer can drive because of her macular degeneration.  It was also our younger son's birthday and we had promised to keep the grands overnight so my son and daughter-in-law could have a date night.  That extended half-way into Saturday, so hubby went to see his mom without me.  We had planned to celebrate Valentine's Day by going out to dinner and to a movie that night and we did keep our date!  Sunday was another visit to the hospital, and a previous obligation to serve at our church in the evening.  It was a "Night Out" for younger married couples, and our small group had volunteered to help with child-care.  Our assignment was to help entertain about 5o Kindergarteners and First Graders for 1 1/2 hours!  I hit the ground running again on Monday as the grands arrived before 8 am, did my 9 hours, and when hubby got home at 9:40 pm, I surprised him with supper in bed and a few other things you can read about at the tail end of  THIS post.  Tuesday, my day "off", I went back to the hospital and then did my grocery shopping.  Yesterday I babysat again all day, then back to the hospital last night.  The grands should arrive here again at any minute.  I'm making a meal today for a friend who had surgery on Monday, and I still have a writing assignment to polish up for my writer's group on Saturday morning, a surprise birthday party Saturday night, and a wedding shower to attend on Sunday.  Someone from the hospital wants to meet with us this weekend to discuss my mother-in-law's situation.  

I'm frequently told by family and friends that I don't "have a life".  Really?  My response to them is "this IS my life!"  It's not exactly the life I thought I would have when I was old enough to collect Social Security, but here I am, and I'm making the most of it.  Every day is a gift and I never want to take it for granted.  I want to look forward with confidence and back without regrets.  I want to run the last lap the best.  My house isn't as clean or as organized as I wish it was.  My energy level isn't where it used to be.  But my moments and my days are blessed with a sweetness that money can't buy.  Just yesterday I "caught" my 5 year old granddaughter about to blow out the candle I had burning in the bathroom.  I watched as she paused, then gently and carefully put the flame out.  I asked her if she made a wish.  "Yes Grandma!"  I asked her what she wished for.  "I wished that you will love me forever!"  Priceless.

The 79 year old lady who shares the hospital room with my mother-in-law had her leg amputated last week.  She's going home today to face her life with many unexpected adjustments to make.  I've had a couple of conversations with her, and I'm amazed at her attitude.  She has accepted what life has dealt her.  We talked about the importance of living each day to the fullest because we do not know what tomorrow might bring us, though none of it is a surprise to God.

In spite of busyness, my life in the sandwich generation offers many opportunities for teachable moments and also for preaching the gospel, with or without words.  I woke up this morning with a scripture passage on my mind, one that helps me get through my busy days, or any days for that matter.  

"...Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.  What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done."  Matthew 26:24-27 NIV

Have you lost your life?

Feb 15, 2011

My age is showing...

For my writer's group assignment this week, I was given the prompt "gone". That could take me any number of places in my cluttered brain, but I decided to just spout off a little. I feel like I'm standing alone on an issue and maybe someone out there can just help me understand!

Because I feel like something is definitely missing these days. Like a sense of propriety.

When I told my psychologist-brother what's been bugging me, his response was "your age is definitely showing"! I put a status on Facebook last week on the subject which drew pretty much the same kind of response.

So what IS it? OK, simply stated: I just don't GET the need for pajamas in public. A week or so ago I was at Panara, for example. In walk three teenaged girls with who appeared to be a mother. The three were all dressed in flannel pj's and fluffy slippers. Beside the point is the fact that we were experiencing near-zero temperatures, snow and ice. I can't even imagine walking to my mailbox in slippers of any description. (Do they wear these same slippers around their homes after they have been trudged through dirty snow in parking lots?)

Then last week, my granddaughter's Christian Pre-School featured "pajama day". All the little boys and girls were to wear their favorite pj's, bring their blankeys and stuffed animals, and watch a movie together. This happened exactly one day after she and I had our first "purity" discussion which was hard enough to do on a 5 year old's level. We talked about things like modesty in public...

Now before everyone pounces on me about the innocence and fun of pajama parties for children, please understand I am ALL about children having fun. Anyone who knows me in the slightest knows I put my heart and soul into all kinds of fun activities for the littles in my charge, and even neighbor kids. I used to love going to slumber parties at a girl friend's house when I was young. And it was all girls and in a home, and closely supervised I might add. We had a screened front porch on our house, and we used to love to have sleepovers there in the summer. The boys and girls took turns.

I'm just wondering why we need to blur the lines of what is for public consumption and what, in my humble, old-fashioned opinion, should remain in the privacy of one's home. I did some checking and other private Christian schools in the area also participate in the current fad of having children (and in the case of my granddaughter's Pre-School, teachers too) wear their nightclothes to school. I know it is done in the public schools as well. I guess I naively thought that there might be a slightly higher standard imposed at a Christian school, or ANY private school for that matter. I mean, SOMEONE is paying for this kind of "education".

There are so many areas in our society-at-large where lines have been blurred, especially in the morality department. I'm not going to take the time to list the examples that are going through my mind right now. So does this start in Pre-School? Common sense might ask that question. And where does it end?

Our local zoo frequently sponsors overnight events where the kids are invited to sleepover in their pajamas...with strangers. I just saw an article where a local breast cancer awareness group had a "pink pajama party". Borders offers Polar Express pajama parties for the public. I'm serious, I just don't GET IT.

I'm not against pajama parties. My hubby and I had a pajama party last night. It was Valentine's Day and he was doing some ministry at the church, helping people in employment transitions, after a long work day of his own. I knew it would be very late when he got home and he would be exhausted. So I decided to surprise him. I cleaned our bedroom up, lit a bunch of candles, filled the soaking tub, set out clean jammies and towels, gave him supper in bed, complete with wine and chocolates. He loved it. I in my flannel nightgown and he in his flannel pj's, snuggled up on a long winter's night. It was wonderful. Just the two of us relaxing together. Just the way it should be. And no, there are no photos.

Feb 12, 2011

Valentine's Day Give-away!

Stop over at Joanne's blog, Blessed is She Who Believed, and enter her Valentine's Day give-away. The book sounds fantastic, and who wouldn't want a Starbuck's gift card? Someone will be a lucky winner! Thanks, Joanne!

Feb 10, 2011

Warm up your winter pancakes...

With the temperature hovering around zero this morning, I made these for my hubby at about 6 am.  I've been playing with pancake and waffle recipes all winter, and this is a composite of several recipes I've looked at.  They are "fluffy", not "lumpy".  Just the way I like them.  I served them with blueberries and whipped cream today.  I even "named" them, appropriately I think.

My son and daughter-in-love who live in the sunny south host a pancake breakfast almost every Saturday morning in their home.  They invite people they meet at Starbucks and other places in the community.  Their oureach has been a huge success.  They've had up to 30 folks, including children, at some of the breakfasts.  I'm very proud of them (can you tell?).

Warm Up Your Winter Pancakes

1 1/4 c. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. vinegar plus enough evaporated milk to make 1 cup liquid
1 egg, beaten
2 bsp. melted butter
1 Tbsp. honey

Whisk together dry ingredients.  In a small bowl, beat egg with fork.  Stir milk/vinega mixture into dry ingredients, then stir in egg, honey, and melted butter  Beat with whisk about 30 seconds or until smooth.

Feb 3, 2011

Where were you when the snow came down?

Wow, what a week! The sun is shining today for the first time in quite a while. We've sure had a lot of winter around here. Just yesterday, this is what it looked like from my front door...um, and these are NOT black and white photos!

But I'm really not complaining. I've enjoyed being snowed in with the grandkids this week. The only time I get all stressed up over bad weather is when my loved ones are out driving in it. It has been a much easier week for me than it was for them. All I did was have a lot of fun. Here's some highlights of what we did.

I taught Ethan how to sort the silverware...

then he helped me with the laundry...

both of them wanted to paint every day...

one of my big rules is we have to clean up one mess before starting another...

one morning we made huckleberry scones...

another day we had an indoor "cookout"

we got musical...

we baked again...

This is my first attempt at making Maria's polka dot cupcakes, which you can see a photo of her's in my sidebar. They are the best tasting cupcakes ever, and really easy to make from scratch. See the recipe at the end of this post. I will work on my frosting skills!

THEY played out on the deck so I could keep an eye on them without having to be out there myself!
There was about 2 inches of ice on top of about 8 inches of snow, and another inch or so on top of the ice!

someone was finally worn out!

So what did YOU do all week, and how was YOUR weather?

Chocolate Polka Dot Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup dark, unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup strong brewed coffee, cooled

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Measure all the dry ingredients into mixing bowl. Blend the ingredients together thoroughly with a whisk and make three indentations.

Pour the vanilla into the first hole, the vinegar into the second, and the vegetable oil into the third.

Take the cup of brewed coffee and pour it directly over everything in the pan. Stir all the ingredients together until they are well blended.

Bake for 15 minutes. Makes 1 dozen cupcakes.

Note: This recipe has been slightly altered by me from a post WWII recipe put out by King Arthur Flour. It originally was intended to make a “cake pan” cake.

Buttercream frosting (from Wilton)

1/2 cup Crisco

1 stick softened butter

1 tsp. vanilla (clear)

4 cups powdered sugar

2 Tablespoons milk

Cream Crisco and butter together with beaters, add vanilla, then powdered sugar a cup at a time, then add milk and continue beating to desired consistency. Tint to desired color, frost cupcakes, and sprinkle with semi-sweet chocolate chips.

"Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. " Colossians 3:17

Feb 2, 2011

Love in Action

I've mentioned that my husband and I have joined our church's Local Outreach team, and that we are now writing blog posts to keep our church members and others updated as to what the ministries are about and how they might consider helping. I've added a link on my sidebar. Have a look at our latest post about Urban Vision in Akron, Oh.

We are so blessed to be involved with Local Outreach as part of Christ Community Chapel. (formerly Hudson Community Chapel). Our church's vision for the new year is focusing on Micah 6:8:

"And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God."