Sunday, July 19, 2009

More Looking Back Over the Week

Now that I've given a somewhat silly rendering I thought I'd give you the rundown on some of the more serious things I learned last week.

First, I learned that teens haven't changed much since I was one. Yes, I know that was eons ago. However, teens tend to have the same hopes and fears that I had when I was their age. They are concerned about life, love, family, friends, eternity, and whether or not someone will ridicule them in front of everyone else.

The object this week was to make them aware of the One who meets all of those needs. He is the One who wants their life to be spent fellowshipping with Him. He is the One who loves them, gives them a better family life, and a wonderful spiritual family if they follow His principles. He is the One who wants them to have the right kind of friends and to be the right kind of friend. He is the One who has prepared the way for them to spend eternity in Heaven. He is also the One who experienced all of the ridicule and torment beyond anything they can ever imagine.

Second, I learned that some teens still act like they aren't paying attention to the lessons being presented during the teaching and preaching sessions. We saw some of that this week and it is always heart-breaking, to say the least.

But it reminded me of when I was 14 years old and away from home on a teen retreat. I can tell you with perfect clarity (and my own great sorrow) that I was not paying much attention to the preacher because some of my friends and I were otherwise occupied. I was not listening, but rather, I was misbehaving. Something the preacher said still got through. I don't know exactly what it was that got my attention (except that it was obviously of the Holy Spirit) but that was the night that I trusted Christ as my savior. How appropriate that Christ Jesus saved me from my sins right in the midst of disobedience. I always empathize with Peter when I read about his reaction to the cock crowing.

I can't look at unruly teenagers in a preaching service without remembering that night. Teenagers haven't changed since then. I pray that what they heard this week when we thought they weren't listening convicts them like something did me so long ago. God has a way of doing just that. He is in the business of changing lives and I'm glad He is.

God convicted me of sin this week as well. I still suffer chronically from "Foot In Mouth Disease." I had to repent to God and ask forgiveness of those to whom I'd spoken amiss. I guess I'm not so far removed from the person I was when I was 14 years old.

The fruit is just starting to be harvested. We're praying for a bumper crop!

The Salad Bar

I had a great idea this year, or at least I thought I did. I decided to plant salad starters in containers on my deck. I used an old wagon and large pots for the tomato plants. The wagon was so I could move the plants from place to place if necessary for them to get sunlight. (We have a somewhat shady yard.) I also planted a mixed lettuce packet in a window box.

I've been somewhat successful harvesting the lettuce. They did rather well and I have gotten several pickings from the box. I cut the baby leaves and left them to grow again. What you see now is probably the third growth. I know they are small but since it hasn't been exceptionally hot this summer they've survived thus far.
But then the raccoons discovered my garden and they have been having lunch at my expense. They left the half-eaten remains of a couple of tomatoes either to show their appreciation or just to aggravate me. I'm not sure which.
They didn't seem to care too much for the ripe and almost-ripe grape tomatoes as they dropped some of them - whole - on the pavement. Perhaps they are trying to fry them in the heat?

They left one green tomato on the larger variety plant. I'm guessing it will be tonight's supper. Not ours! Theirs!

I picked the rest of the ripe grape tomatoes since they didn't seem to like them anyway. The one I ate tasted pretty good. Too bad they won't leave them alone long enough for the slicing tomatoes to ripen.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Looking Back Over the Week

Yes, I was found out. But that's not the reason I didn't post more.

It turns out that having Internet access and a computer is not enough to ensure regular posting. There were schedules to be kept. And chores to be done to keep the room livable. And an adorable toddler to keep out of mischief. And my other camp responsibilities to do. And errands to run. You get the picture.

Since I was lackadaisical in my reporting I'll give you a short list of things I learned this week. Not all of these things were learned at camp but I think you'll be able to note the transition.

  1. I do not speak the Sweet Pea dialect as fluently as I thought I did. The vocabulary that is used during short family gatherings is not as extensive as what is needed for her moment-by-moment care.
  2. Little Sweet Pea believes her Gram is hard of hearing. I found that whenever I misunderstood something she just kept repeating it progressively louder.
  3. I need a Sweet Pea interpreter. Thankfully, Tigger will be available for that job when we go to Junior Camp.
  4. The songs on a lullaby CD are not relaxing when being used as karaoke by a 2-year-old who is also doing an interpretive dance routine on top of the bed.
  5. Baby boys are as sweet as I remember. Mmm.
  6. As fun as teenagers are (ha!) I was still glad to only bring one home with me.
  7. If you are in a hurry to get from Point A to Point B it is almost a foregone conclusion that there will be construction and delays on every route between. I tested this theory this week and found it to be true.
  8. Raccoons like little green tomatoes. I know this because most of mine were picked and left half-eaten on my deck.
  9. Even in the few days we were gone, there were many new residents in our neighborhood. Specifically, hornets built a condo in a pine tree in our front yard. Pepper found it 3 minutes into her first excursion outside after coming home from the kennel. The Japanese Lantern sized and shaped hornet house is gone now but it was impressive! Pepper was stung while investigating. Pastor Dad and I were not.
  10. Wasps decided to build their nest over our front door. It is also gone.
  11. Woodpeckers can't tell the difference between trees and wood-sided houses. Or maybe the one tapping outside is just telling me that the suet feeder is empty. Good grief! We're gone 5 days and wildlife takes over the place!

Hope everyone had a good week. I look forward to catching up on what has been going on in your lives recently.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Camp Update

This lady isn't singing the blues yet, but I'm beginning to wonder if I'll soon be expanding my repertoire. As predicted, I did not get much sleep last night. However, it wasn't little Fen who interrupted my beauty sleep. That honor belongs to Sweet Pea.

We have snack bar time prior to Sweet Pea's usual bedtime. Someone who shall remain nameless decided to give her a small sip of Mountain Dew. I'm not sure if it was Code Red, Livewire, or Voltage, but these are the varieties sold here. Not being a fan myself, I can only attest to the fact that they're aptly named by personal observation.

Let's just say that Sweet Pea was almost asleep when the sugar and caffeine kicked in. I saw her spend the next 2 hours almost literally bouncing off the walls! It was just a bit before midnight when she finally slept. By that time the Princess and her little Fen were sleeping soundly, and Pastor Dad had given up trying to help me corral her and had gone on to his cabin.

Oh yeah. One more thing. Little Fen slept longer last night (almost 6 hours) than he has so far. I guess watching his cousin bouncing on the nearby bed wore him out. I know it did me.

On a more serious spiritual note, remember the campers and counselors in prayer. We'd really like to leave here Saturday with more on the kids' hearts than their latest make-ups and break-ups.

P.S. It wasn't Pastor Dad who gave her the sip. If it had been, I'd probably be naming names!

Monday, July 13, 2009


Guess what? I have wireless in this room! :)

Nobody tell Kelly or Karen, please. I wouldn't want to ruin their weeks. Or mine.

The air conditioning is working well and the children in Gram's little day care are all napping, too. Can life get any better than this? Well, the light bulb did burn out in my bathroom just a little while ago but I wouldn't dream of complaining. Perhaps I'll just run into town and get me a few aromatherapy candles for my evening bath. No one would suspect anything since one of my other jobs is being the Camp Gopher ("go for" this and "go for" that: just in case there are rookies out there).

Do you think I'm singing the Hallelujah Chorus too loudly out here at camp? You could be right. We'll just need to wait and see what tune I'm bellowing toward the end of the week. A few sleepless nights with the family's newest addition could have me singing the blues pretty quickly.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Heading to Camp Week #1

  • We're packing our bags.

  • We're sending the dogs off to the kennel.

  • We're preparing ourselves for a week away from technology.

  • We're going to teen camp!

My job will be to take care of the nursery. Yes, the nursery. No, not for the children of campers. For the children of counselors. Specifically, I'll be helping to care for my two youngest grandchildren.

This is not a vacation. However, I do have the only air-conditioned room. =))

Catch you later! (And I might just find a way around that whole "week away from technology" thing, too. We'll see.)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Amish Friendship Bread Bonanza

Posted by Picasa

If you've ever been blessed enough to be given Amish Friendship Bread starter then you know how absolutely delicious it is and also how it can overrun your household. Or the households of your friends. There's something ironic about a baked good having the word "friendship" in the title when it can literally make your friends run and hide when they see you coming to give them starter of their very own!

I've been doing some experimenting of late to see if I can remedy the situation. I think I've found a solution that will work for me and thought I'd share it just in case some of the rest of you find yourself overwhelmed from time to time. After all, feeding a starter shouldn't make us groan as though we've been awakened by an infant for a 2 a.m. feeding, or spending so much money on its feeding requirements that it is like having my teenaged son living in the house.

Here's what I've done to make my starter fit into my routine and schedule:

  • Freeze it. I found that it does not hurt the integrity of the loaves because more leavening agents are added to the bread batter anyway. The starter is basically for taste, not leavening of the loaves.
  • Thaw it when ready to start the 10 day countdown toward the finished product. I count the day that I take it out as Day 1.
  • Don't give any of the starter away. Gasp! No, really. I take out 1 cup and return it to a gallon-sized Ziploc as per the directions, put that bag in the freezer for a month or so, and use the rest.
  • Triple the bread-making recipe to make 6 loaves. Trust me on this one. If you were to remove the 4 cups of starter (3 to give to friends and 1 to keep) you would have approximately 1 1/2 cups of starter left in the bowl for making a 2-loaf batch of bread. So if you include the 3 cups that you would normally hand off to friends you can see that the recipe can be tripled to make 6 loaves.
  • I mix everything up in a gigantic Tupperware that I bought years ago. I found it to be just the right size for allowing yeast bread to rise and now it also doubles as the mixing bowl for this sweet bread. As an important reminder, make sure you have enough flour, sugar, eggs, milk, and pudding mixes on hand before you begin. It is quite shocking how much of each ingredient it takes to make a triple batch.

There are a few other things I've done to the bread recipe that you might or might not like. For instance, I cut the amount of oil in half and substitute applesauce. And speaking of applesauce, the kind I use is pre-sweetened and has cinnamon added. Consequently, I cut back on the amount of sugar by about 1/3. For a triple-batch I used 2 cups as opposed to 3.

We use the loaves in a variety of ways. Since it is a dessert/breakfast bread of sorts, I tend to give the extra loaves to friends and relatives. For some reason, the same people who run away when they see you coming with a bag of starter do not run when they see bread. :)

I enjoy doing a once a month cooking marathon whenever possible. I can bake the bread once a month and dole it out accordingly. This means freezing it quickly before Bear has a chance to down a loaf or two during the cooling stage.

I'm thinking about giving my starter a name like Baby Huey or Traveling Gnome and handing him out for adoption each month. That way we could all share in his care and feeding, he'd be used once a month, and we'd each only be baking from his bounty 4 times a year. Any takers?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Called to be Firecrackers?

This is an adaptation of a devotion that I gave several years ago when speaking at a conference to several pastors' wives. Recent celebrations brought it to memory again.

It is illegal for individuals to set off firecrackers for personal use in Ohio. Even so, it does not seem to be a law that is followed or enforced with any regularity. Other states do not have laws banning the purchase and use of fireworks at home. When we lived in Tennessee, Pastor Dad usually set off a selection of small pyrotechnic devises each Fourth of July for the enjoyment of our children.

One holiday I was sitting on the porch watching the display and the Lord brought Matthew 5:14-16 to mind. One of the phrases serves as my blog verse and it is probably already a familiar one to you.

14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

As Christians, we are the light to the world. I began to think how sometimes my light is more like that which comes from a firecracker than a candle. My spirituality may have a lot of force behind it as I delude myself into thinking I'm "in the Spirit" but after awhile it becomes apparent that the result might be momentarily beautiful but illumination is not going to be maintained. Quickly the light will fizzle to the point that no one will be able to even see it, let alone be led to God by it.

But wouldn't it be nice to be a lighting devise that can accomplish powerful things for the Lord? Perhaps. However, putting on a spectacular show prior to a quick burn out is not what the Lord had in mind. Just because a lighting device has a wick – or fuse – doesn't mean that it is one in which to place confidence during a dark storm. Remember the following:

  • In order for a light to lead others it needs to be consistent and faithful. God expects us to shine until the job is done.
  • The objective is not to glorify self but to glorify God. The candle might never be admired in and of itself but if it points the way to The Way it has fulfilled its purpose. A firecracker expects to be the whole show.

As a homeschooling mother I have a tendency to "blow my top" before my family thereby extinguishing the light of my testimony. Having a short fuse does not help anyone see Christ in me. The verse says that the illumination is supposed to be for the benefit of all who are in the house. Ouch!

Maybe temper isn't your firecracker problem. Perhaps you are the kind of Christian who shines brightly on Sunday when you're at church but shows no discernable light the rest of the week. About the only way anyone would know you are a Christian is if they happened to see you sitting in the pew. Then the analogy to the firecracker for you is that your light only appears before an audience. Your fuse is lit for a temporary Sunday performance. There is no consistent light shining in your life throughout the rest of the week.

There are probably many analogies to illustrate how our testimony can more closely resemble a firecracker than a candle. Repentance always needs to be the result when we allow our light to be hidden.

Let's resolve not to be firecrackers that put on a good show for a short time, make a lot of noise in the process, but ultimately leave a lot of smoke to hinder progress as we quickly burn out. The world needs reliable candlelight in dark times.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Mental Images

I guess I discovered a new well of inspiration springing up yesterday. After a few weeks of silence I've become Chatty Kathy all of a sudden. Bear with me.

You'll notice that I haven't posted any pictures of yesterday's zoo trip and I probably won't. Why? Well, I only have three. Two of them are of Fen in his stroller and one is a far-off picture of giraffes. I guess photography wasn't one of my priorities. Too bad, too, since there were many special moments throughout the day that just screamed "take pictures!" I'm hoping someone else will post theirs. Hint, hint.

But I am carrying several mental images of the day that one son-in-law called "the best zoo trip EVER." I agree whole-heartedly. It a was a peaceful day for all of us: a day of rest (unless you count the miles and miles of paved pathways that we walked), of relaxation (unless you count the unruly children scaring the zoo keeper in the bird house while annoying the rest of us who kept the children in our group under control), and of family togetherness. Yep! That last one tends to get me right here (hand over heart) every time.

One image I have is of our grand entourage (all 12 of us) making our way from place to place. We stayed together but we tended to walk in smaller groups as we meandered along. Several times I looked at my two sons-in-law who were leading the way due to the length of their long legs. These fellas were side-by-side as they pushed their baby strollers. I wished I had thought to take out my camera. It was one of those "Kodak moments" that repeated itself many times.

The guys were deep in conversation. I'm sure they were contemplating some of life's more complex issues. You know, things like wives, children, and what's for dinner. I'm not sure there are any definitive answers for the first two, but the answer to the last issue was Frisch's Big Boy.

Ah! The warm fuzzies just would not end.

Good times.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

How I'm Spending My Summer Vacation

The last you heard from me I was on a trip to Kentucky. It was great but now it seems so long ago. There are two things that can make a recent trip seem that way:
  1. Life is so boring or intolerable that one can hardly remember being away at all, or
  2. Life is so busy that one good thing just quickly follows afterward.

In my case, I'm glad to say it was the latter.

So, where have I been and what have I been doing? I'd like to think I've been putting some memories into my spouse's and children's memory banks. Here is a quick run-down of recent activities:

  • That little trip to Kentucky featured a bit of unintended genealogical research. Okay, yes, there was also some intended genealogical fun, too, as we visited an obscure cemetery where some of Pastor Dad's ancestors are buried. We can now say we have visited "Lizard Lope." The part that was unintended was finding out that the conference's host preacher is distantly related to Pastor Dad. I found this out by talking with the preacher's 90+ year-old grandmother. The preacher and Pastor Dad are 3rd cousins once removed. Will wonders never cease?
  • About 36 hours after I returned home I found myself on the road again. This trip was with Lulu. We spent one day traveling to NC, one day doing TONS of work in her yard in NC, and one day driving back from NC. Whew!
  • Upon returning from NC we took some hasty showers and went to Wednesday prayer meeting. Afterward we took Pastor Dad out to eat for his birthday. We didn't rush home because Pastor Dad expected us to be here for his birthday. We did it because Lulu wanted to take her daddy out to eat. You'll need to see her blog to see how that episode turned out! :)
  • We celebrated the Fourth of July (on the actual date) at Karen's house. Thanks for having us!
  • We celebrated the Fourth and Pastor Dad's birthday again yesterday at my mom's house. We're party animals I tell ya!
  • Today we took the whole family to the zoo. Well, the whole family minus Sgt. Dan who is not in town yet. I think everyone, including our newest grandchild, had a great time. Too bad he won't remember watching cheetahs run, being up close and personal with a penguin, or seeing his cousins hand-feeding giraffes. Of course, he won't remember that his mommy took the time to feed and diaper him whenever necessary either but that's okay. Our zoo always makes a big deal out of "Zoo Babies" each May. Little Fen was one of the youngest babies around the zoo today, animal or human.

It has been a busy few weeks with no let-up in sight, but that's fine. I only wish winter passed as quickly.