Thursday, December 31, 2009

Weaving: a Parable


The material that is chosen by the weaver has no say in where or how it will be used. Will it be woven in a simple over-under pattern or will it be used for something more noticeable? How will it look with the other threads? What will the finished design look like?

The thread is not called to make these decisions. They are the business of the weaver. All the thread is called to do is to be available and responsive to the weaver's will.

No thread or other treasure selected by the weaver could ever guess how the weaver will work them all together into a fine and unique fabric. But the weaver, the one who controls the loom, the color selection, the tension on the thread, the size of the fabric -- He knows. Yes, He knows. He is the Master Weaver, incorporating all the experiences of our lives into a design more recognizable to Himself than to us. All He asks is that we be available and responsive to His will.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Steve and Sue Robinson

Three or four years ago I came across an announcement about a new support group for parents of special needs kids and called the first person on the contact list. Her name was Sue Robinson; she told me she had recently retired from the school district as a school psychologist and had joined with other women from her church to form this group. She answered all my questions and we chatted far afield for about 45 minutes. Then one of us mentioned Seattle Pacific University. “Oh, did you go there?” “Yes, back while it was still a college!” “So did I. When were you there?” “I was a transfer student in 1969. I lived in the dorm for a year and then got married,” said Sue. “That's when I was there! I lived in Marston that year. How about you?” You guessed it – Sue and I were on the same floor!

The more we talked the more we remembered. Then she said, “I think you attended my wedding!” I was a bit hazy about that detail, but later she looked at her guest book and found my name.

That was the summer of 1970. After summer jobs ended, four of us piled into a VW bug and set off for a week. One of our stops was Steve and Susie’s wedding in Vista, California.

Just a couple of weeks ago I found a small Disneyland bag with more evidence that I had attended their wedding – a tiny dove, a small gold paper bell, and a barely recognizable frosting flower, my souvenirs from their wedding cake! (What was I thinking??)

Married now almost 40 years, Steve and Sue have always been helpers. Their working years were dedicated to helping through education and law enforcement. They also like adventure. Two years ago they were set to take a trip around the US in their motor home, but went to California instead, where they could help Sue’s mom through a transition period of her life. They contacted a Christian camp not far from her mom’s and learned that they could park their trailer on the grounds and volunteer their time working with another group of people in transition – men and women in a Christian drug and alcohol rehab, where they've been for the past two years. At last they'll take that cross-country trip in March.

They don't fool me when they say the'll be home in June, though. I suspect that along the way they will find some very worthy project to pour their lives into and will roll up their sleeves and volunteer for a time. I may have to settle for an occasional e-mail from a very dear friend who keeps coming popping up in my life.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Space Camp

Jonathan Schmidt, now 15, won a writing contest sponsored by the local IGA market and got to spend a week at NASA Space Camp in 2006. I invited him to write an article about that experience.

“Jonathan, someone is on the phone for you…” called my mother from the kitchen. I walked briskly across the concrete floor of the makeshift house that we were living in and answered the phone.

“Hello?” I said into the phone receiver, wondering who it was.

“Hi, I am calling from the IGA and you have just won the space camp writing contest.”

“REALLY!! That is awesome!!”

And so started my preparation for space camp, one whole week where I would be experiencing what it would be like to be an astronaut. Although the trip was not till August I was quite excited about flying to Alabama and even about just winning something in a contest! The rest of the year seemed to fly by until it was T-10 days. I gathered my stuff, prepared my books, and then the day came when I was to liftoff on my way to Huntsville, Alabama.

After many hugs and I Love Yous from my parents I set off with the group of other contest winners to our waiting room. At first I didn’t seem to fit in and the plane ride there was pretty lonely. After we got there we were initiated into the program, given our space suits and sent to unpack in our dorms. With the little space that was in the dorm room our stuff spilled out over the floor and soon it looked like my room in there.

The whole week was a blur of information, memories, and fun activities that I did with my new friend Daniel. During the day we would buy sodas, learn a bunch of stuff, go to some more parts of the camp and eat tater tots for breakfast, lunch and dinner. At night we would get into our bunks and use the flashes on our disposable cameras to blind each other while telling stories. The humidity and heat made it so that I only had to sleep in my blue space suit and so I kept it on all week and by the end was so comfortable in it that I didn’t want to take it off.

I learned many things but probably not as many as I could have because I concentrated more on having fun and exploring than learning information. I did learn about the Apollo missions and where Apollo 13 went wrong. They had a huge museum on different space missions, things such as the different probes that first traveled space.

Finally it was time to go and as we boarded the plane home I lovingly remembered my first out of state trip and still from this day look back on those fun filled days and think of the tater tots that I enjoyed.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Snow on the Mountain

Looking for a great party meal that is fun and easy? It's best in winter (as the name suggests) and would be a hit for a New Years gathering. It makes a simple potluck if each of your guests brings an item or two from the recipe.


Here are the ingredients we use for Snow on the Mountain, but I'll leave the amounts up to you, depending upon the size of your crowd. We substituted frozen green peas for the green onions. (We called them snow peas!)

Snow on the Mountain

White rice, cooked
Curry chicken
Shredded lettuce
Diced tomatoes
Chopped green onions
Chinese noodles
Black olives, sliced
Shredded cheddar cheese
Chunk pineapple, drained
Slivered almonds
Flaked coconut

Cook chicken (we boil a whole chicken and use part of the meat as well as the stock for the curry chicken); follow the recipe below for curry chicken. Make a big pot of white rice (sticky rice works best for this). Assemble ingredients, a bowl for each item, and line them up in the order listed above. To create your mountain, make a base of rice on your plate. Then, one by one, add the other ingredients until you have a lovely and tasty mountain. (The coconut is the snow.)

Curry Chicken for 16

large onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
4 quarts of chicken or vegetable broth
4 Tbs curry powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp thyme
12 whole cloves
4+ Tbs cornstarch
1 c cold water or broth
4 c chicken meat, cut it bite sized pieces

Fry the onions and garlic in oil. Add the broth and the seasonings. Bring to boil, then simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat then mix up the thickener by dissolving the cornstarch in cold water or broth. Add the thickener, stirring briskly, until mixture is smooth. (If you don't stir it rapidly enough you will end up with lumps of cornstarch.) Return to heat until it comes to a boil, and let it boil for one minute -- stirring the whole time. Add in the chicken just before you serve.

Photo by Joe Dyer

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Christ Candle



"This is how much God loved the world:

He gave his Son, his one and only Son.
And this is why:
so that no one need be destroyed;
by believing in him,
anyone can have a whole and lasting life.
God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son
merely to point an accusing finger,
telling the world how bad it was.
He came to help,
to put the world right again.
Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted;
anyone who refuses to trust him
has long since been under the death sentence
without knowing it.
And why?
Because of that person's failure
to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God
when introduced to him."

"A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy.
I came so they can have real and eternal life,
more and better life than they ever dreamed of."

"In this godless world
you will continue to experience difficulties.
But take heart!
I've conquered the world."

(John 3:16-18; 10:10; 16:33. The Message)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Hallelujah!

As I stood in front of the egg cooler at Haggen the other day, trying to make my choice, the strains of The Hallelujah Chorus began. I loaded up on eggs and continued with my shopping, smiling and singing along (quietly, of course). "...And He shall reign forever and ever...King of Kings, and Lord of Lords...Hallelujah!"

Here are three renditions of The Hallelujah Chorus. Choose the one that best suits your style, or listen to them all. Sing along if you like. Rejoice! "For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth!"




Friday, December 25, 2009

He Came

Celebrating the birth of Jesus, and wishing you a blessed Christmas.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

My Son, Farewell






















Christmas Voices:
The Father

My Son
Farewell.
A body I've prepared for You
in Mary
Jewish girl
betrothed to Joseph
Jewish carpenter.
You who have been with Me
from everlasting days
who with me made all things
including earth and man
and Mary
tonight become a creature vulnerable
baby most helpless.
The swirling cloud
takes you to her
through darkest night.
I send an angel army to protect
proclaim your birth.
You'll grow
and spend a few days' light
then darkest noon
and You'll return.
I'll have the dust of earth
virgin's fruit
at my right hand
forevermore.
Tonight I joy
that you delight to do my will
take God-sized step
to earth and womb
and tree.
My Son, Farewell.

I hear a baby's cry.


Poem by Joseph Bayly, from the book A Voice in the Wilderness, published in 2000 by Cook Communication Ministries. Used by permission of Mary Lou Bayly.

Baby Jesus painting by Deborah Woodall.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Reflections on Christmas, Being a Dad, and Our Heavenly Father

Today's post is written by my husband, Tom.


Christmas reminds me of Christ and His earthly father Joseph and His profound relationship with God the Father. Although it highlights my failing as a human father and even husband, it also spotlights the sweet and tender moments -- the joy I have as a father at a child’s success; the pain when things aren’t going so well. Through it all I love my family. This is magnified like the stars in the sky when you think about the infinite pain and joy we give our Father in heaven and the immensity of His love that we receive through Jesus our Lord.


Yes, it is a merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Peace and Joy

Bob Kauflin of Sovereign Grace Ministries offers a spontaneous song of finding peace in the midst of our distractions and anxiety. "What could bring you greater peace, and what could bring you greater joy than to know I know your name? That's why I came."

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Fourth Sunday of Advent

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem village, Judah territory— this was during Herod's kingship—a band of scholars arrived in Jerusalem from the East. They asked around, "Where can we find and pay homage to the newborn King of the Jews? We observed a star in the eastern sky that signaled his birth. We're on pilgrimage to worship him."

When word of their inquiry got to Herod, he was terrified—and not Herod alone, but most of Jerusalem as well. Herod lost no time. He gathered all the high priests and religion scholars in the city together and asked, "Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?"

They told him, "Bethlehem, Judah territory. The prophet Micah wrote it plainly:

It's you, Bethlehem, in Judah's land,
no longer bringing up the rear.
From you will come the leader
who will shepherd-rule my people, my Israel."

Herod then arranged a secret meeting with the scholars from the East. Pretending to be as devout as they were, he got them to tell him exactly when the birth-announcement star appeared. Then he told them the prophecy about Bethlehem, and said, "Go find this child. Leave no stone unturned. As soon as you find him, send word and I'll join you at once in your worship."

Instructed by the king, they set off. Then the star appeared again, the same star they had seen in the eastern skies. It led them on until it hovered over the place of the child. They could hardly contain themselves: They were in the right place! They had arrived at the right time!

They entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary, his mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped him. Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh.

In a dream, they were warned not to report back to Herod. So they worked out another route, left the territory without being seen, and returned to their own country.

(Matthew 2:1-12, The Message)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Drums

Sit back and enjoy a couple of great drummers. Not exactly the "Little Drummer Boy" but well worth a few minutes, even if you don't consider yourself a drum person.




Friday, December 18, 2009

O Come Let Us Adore Him, Christ the Lord!



These Christmas cards were sent to me by friends in the 50's. I came across them just last week as I sorted through four boxes from growing up. They come to you now with our family's warmest wishes for you this Christmas season.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tami Wheatley Nichols

I just got this e-mail from my friend Joan about her niece Tami, the one for whom she set up a benefit fund (see December 3 post). If you would like to help with the medical expenses or send a card to the family, please contact Joan at hjhusby@verizon.net.

My sister Patty's daughter, Tami Wheatley Nichols, lost her battle with cancer yesterday. She leaves her husband Bert and almost 13-yr.-old daughter Delaney, as well as brother Eric and sister-in-law Dayna and her parents. I have no information as yet about services, but thought you would like to know. Please pray for all of them. Tami had hoped to hold out until after Delaney's birthday on Dec. 26, but was just too sick. I can tell you that we will continue to build the benefit fund for awhile, as the medical bills are overwhelming.

12 Days of Christmas

Here's a group to put a little bounce in your step!



Today Tom's sister Carol is having surgery on her right eye. She's had very little vision in it for the past month or so. Would you pray for a successful surgery and a good recovery for her? Thanks.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

You Can Go Home Again









Tom spent last week in New York with his mom and siblings. Here he is working in his dad's shop. I asked him to write a post about his trip, and here's what he says:

We have had a bi-coastal family ever since my dad retired, so trips to and from New York State have become second nature. On almost every trip I have been able to get some sort of wood working project completed. This last trip was no exception. Although not very glamorous in scope, I had the fun of making a few rungs for a childhood chair that belongs to Ginger.

Now that Dad is in Heaven the shop seems empty, but just being in Dad's shop brought back many memories of projects done together and the ones I could venture to do myself after gaining sufficient confidence. I imagine he is actively involved now in helping build our heavenly dwellings and anxious for his family to be reunited and sharing in his joy. The older I get the better that sounds.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Perfect Turkey and Stuffing


Our "perfect" turkey was a 17 pounder that we prepared for Tom's parents Thanksgiving, three years ago, along with rice stuffing. We recreated our recipe last week and it turned out just as delicious. The stuffing is especially nice for anyone with food issues. It's free of wheat, gluten, dairy, soy, nuts and eggs.

This is a recipe that leaves lots of room for your own taste and creativity. Simply add or subtract ingredients (and use amounts of seasoning) to suit your own taste.

Stuffing
Make 3 cups of brown rice in 4 cups of water. To the cooked rice, add 1 large apple, 3-4 stocks of celery with leaves, a big handful of raisins, and a small chopped onion. Season with salt, pepper, garlic, sage, cinnamon and allspice. Stuff the cavity of the turkey and put the rest of the stuffing in a baking dish with the turkey neck on top of it. Cover.

Turkey
To prepare the turkey, sprinkle with sage and salt, put it in a covered roasting pan with a turkey rack. We roasted it at 325 degrees for 6 3/4 hours* and let it sit, covered, outside the oven for about 45 minutes before carving. We baked the casserole dish of stuffing for about an hour, turned off the oven, and left the stuffing in for another 30 minutes.
*(Cooking times may vary.)


Monday, December 14, 2009

The Gift of Friendship

When Winfred McMullen came to Everett to pastor our church, he brought me a gift -- his daughter Sue. I was five, Susie was six.

I have such sweet memories of the hours we spent together. Often, after the Sunday evening service while the parents were standing around chatting and the kids were playing freeze tag on the front lawn, we'd cook up a scheme to stay overnight with one another. Staying at Sue's meant that we had the run of the basement, which was the church's fellowship hall, with our own kitchen and bathroom. Pretty heady stuff for a couple of grade school girls. It also meant getting a peek into the lives of older girls, as Sue had two teenage sisters. If we stayed at our house we'd play in the play house (a converted chicken coop, probably 6x10, that I was sure could be divided into two or three rooms) and spend at least half the day playing Monopoly.

I remember Sue with her baseball mitt on the nights that we suspended CYC for a softball game at the local elementary school. She was born to play ball!

Sue loved to sing and had a nice alto voice. We joined up with my brother Tom and his friend Dave and formed "The Cadet Quartet." (Our church's midweek children's program was called CYC, short for Christian Youth Crusaders, a program similar to Scouts. Grades 4-6 were called Cadets, hence, "The Cadet Quartet.") Sue,of course, sang alto and Tom sang tenor. Dave and I sang soprano. The group disbanded when Sue moved away in seventh grade -- by then Dave had become a bass! I believe our repertoire included only two songs, but, boy, did we have those two down.

When it was time for me to go to Campus Preview at Seattle Pacific, I arranged to stay in the dorm with Sue and her roommate Kathy. After breakfast Saturday morning Sue sat at her desk and systematically polished off her homework, closed her books and was ready for some fun. I was dumbstruck! In all my life that approach had never once occurred to me. I still pull out that memory and examine it when I need inspiration to get my work done before the fun stuff.

She and Rod married in 1974. Her friend Lola created two enormous banners for the sanctuary with the words of Jeremiah:29:11: "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope." I have loved that verse ever since.

After many years with only occasional contact, Sue and I are once again in the same vicinity. She and Rod live just a few miles away, where they built a lovely home that includes a wing for Sue's mom.

In November she had a shock. She awoke to some numbness in her face and hand and before the week was out she was experiencing major twitching. She had developed a very fast growing malignant tumor on her brain, just above her right ear. It was removed and she is making amazing progress. But because of the aggressive nature of the tumor she will begin radiation and chemotherapy this week. It will be late spring before she finishes all her treatments.

Please pray for her as she goes through this process, and pray for her mom and Rod as well. She says the Lord has been faithful in seeing her through, and she knows He is going to be just as faithful in this present battle.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Third Sunday of Advent

There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God's angel stood among them and God's glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, "Don't be afraid. I'm here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David's town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you're to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger."

At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God's praises:

Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.

As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. "Let's get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us." They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.

Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they'd been told!

(Luke 2:8-20, The Message)


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Joyeux Noel

On Christmas Eve, 1914, the first year of World War I, the German, French and British troops on the Western Front ceased their fire. Music, conversation, food and even football were shared during that most remarkable night.

The film, Joyeux Noel, is the story of that night. In spite of the graphic opening scenes (and one bedroom scene) it is stunning and powerful and has stayed with me for months.


If you'd like to know more about the Christmas Eve cease-fire, you can click here or here.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas Home Tour

Come with me to Roxi and Bert's, where I had lunch yesterday with childhood friends, and take a peek at their beautifully decorated home. I hope you enjoy your visit.









Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Power of a Name

I made a dreadful mistake in kindergarten -- I decided that I should go by "Virginia" instead of "Ginger." After all, I was a big girl so I should use my proper name. That was a fine decision at the time, but it had long-term, unexpected repercussions.

By the time I reached first grade I was quite ready to go back to my nickname. And why not? I was called "Ginger" everywhere except at school, and being grown up had proven to be overrated. I'd be happy just to be "Ginger" again. But I hadn't bargained on my first grade teacher's response to my changing my name.

"You said your name is 'Virginia,' and that's what you will be," she told me!

When my mom went to my first Parent-Teacher Conference that year Miss Larson told her, "Virginia always does what I ask her, but her attitude says, 'I'll do it because you ASK me and NOT because I like you.'"

Just yesterday I came across the report from that November, 1956, conference. Miss Larson had marked me halfway between average and poor in Sportsmanship, Respect for Authority, and Profits from Suggestions. My marks for Cooperation and Consideration were flat-out poor! Comments included, "Wants to be a leader," "Does not take criticism in a pleasant way," and "A little resentful."

I should say so!

She was a first-year teacher who probably realized early on that she'd made a mistake when she wouldn't let me change my name. I'm afraid she paid for it every day that year.

It took me until junior high to get up the courage to try again! I was "Virginia" all the way through grade school. I've been "Ginger" ever since.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Gift of Love

Here is a Christmas paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13 from an unknown author, reminding us be sure our Christmas preparations flow from a heart of love.

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes,attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir's cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child.
Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.
Love is kind, though harried and tired.
Love doesn't envy another's home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.
Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of the way.
Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can't.
Love bears all things believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.

Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust. But giving the gift of love will endure.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

How to Feed a Crowd in a Hurry

After seeing Julie and Julia in September, Tom reserved a video series from the library of Julia Child's cooking show. It was so popular that he didn't get it for two months. We just watched her Omelette episode filmed in 1972 and got a few good tips.

I'm certainly glad Julia hasn't had one of my omelettes. She would probably call it "rubbery" because mine spend too much time in the pan. Julia heats the burner to the highest heat, melts butter in the pan and just as it stops bubbling and before it turns brown she ladles in two or three eggs which she has prepared in advance. Then she begins to move the pan around on the burner, which loosens the egg from the edges and bottom of the pan. Next she pulls the pan toward her, back and forth, and the egg begins to fold onto itself with each movement. She grabs a plate in one hand and the pan in the other and turns it over onto the plate, straigthens the omlette with a fork if necessary, and sprinkles parsley over it (which "will cover up anything that has spilled"). Her omlette is complete in just 20 seconds.

The cameras move to the dining room and there we see it set and ready for an Omlette Party. She has several fillings prepared and shows how simple it is to move from one omlette to another, preparing them to order. As she is working, narrating what her imaginary guests have requested for filling their omlettes, she reveals her plan for feeding a crowd in a hurry.

Since it takes 20 seconds to cook an omlette, you can prepare three in one minute. Now if you have five people making omlettes at once, you can prepare 15 in one minute. In just 20 minutes you can make 300 omlettes. "So how's that for a last minute supper party for 300 people, served in just 20 minutes!"

So the next time 300 of your closest friends drop by for supper, you have no excuse. Grab you omlette pans and get to work!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Amy's World

I wish I still had my niece Amy's "world." She was a preschooler, just three or four years old, when she flew down from Juneau to spend a week with Gram and Gramps. It was my good fortune to get to have her with me for a day. One of our outings was to a map store in the Wallingford District, a tiny shop crammed full of maps, globes and other world wonders, a place that always fascinated me. Over dinner she enjoyed meeting my housemates, young women from several different countries, quizzing each one about where she was from. And now she wanted to make a "world."

I got her a couple of sheets of paper and she began to staple them together, leaving enough room for some stuffing. "Auntie Ginger," she said, "I need some cotton." "I don't have any," I replied. "When we get back to Gram's we can stuff your globe." "No, I need some cotton now."

I suggested old nylon stockings and anything else I could think of as a substitute that might work to stuff her globe, but she would not negotiate. "I'll call Etsuko," she said. "Maybe she has some cotton." So this determined little girl got on the phone and had me dial Etsuko, one of the residents from the upstairs apartment. Sure enough, Etsuko had cotton and she met Amy on the steps with it.

Her "world" stuffed and stapled, Amy proceeded to draw the countries she knew of, including the ones of the girls she'd met over dinner.

I like to think that I had something to do with her love of travel, that her exposure to the world that day was a little seed planted in her heart. I really don't know. But this I do know -- she loves to travel. Amy is fortunate enough to have a very good job that allows her lots of travel time, but her trips are not job-related. This month she'll make her ninth trip to Nicaragua, where she volunteers each year at an orphanage. The photo above is taken with two friends, Juana and Celia, that she met at a children's home in Bolivia. With her study term in Spain and trips to India, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Uganda, Madagascar, South Africa, Peru and Argentina -- mostly countries Amy didn't know existed when she made her globe as a pre-schooler -- she's touching people's lives around the world.

Way to go, Amy!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Second Sunday of Advent

The Word was first,
the Word present to God,
God present to the Word.
The Word was God,
in readiness for God from day one.

Everything was created through him;
nothing—not one thing!—
came into being without him.
What came into existence was Life,
and the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
the darkness couldn't put it out.

There once was a man, his name John, sent by God to point out the way to the Life-Light. He came to show everyone where to look, who to believe in. John was not himself the Light; he was there to show the way to the Light.

The Life-Light was the real thing:
Every person entering Life
he brings into Light.
He was in the world,
the world was there through him,
and yet the world didn't even notice.
He came to his own people,
but they didn't want him.
But whoever did want him,
who believed he was who he claimed
and would do what he said,
He made to be their true selves,
their child-of-God selves.
These are the God-begotten,
not blood-begotten,
not flesh-begotten,
not sex-begotten.

The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory,
like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
true from start to finish.

(John 1:1-14, The Message)

Friday, December 4, 2009

What's for Dinner?

My brother Tim sent us a recipe that we tried out last night. It's his rendition of a dish his friend ordered at a restaurant. We were a bit nervous because the volume of kale, but were surprised and pleased by how tasty it turned out to be! I wish I had taken a picture of it but you're just going to have to use your imagination about how it looks until you try it for yourself!

Thanks, Tim! It was delicious!

Tim's Kale and Cannellini Chicken

4 chicken thighs
olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bunch kale, washed and chopped
1 15-oz can cannellini beans, drained
1 28-oz can stewed tomatoes, drained and chopped
salt and pepper
chicken stock

In a large frying pan, brown chicken thighs in olive oil. Remove from pan and saute onion and garlic in same pan. Add kale and stir till it wilts a bit.

Add beans and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add enough chicken stock to cover and stir well. Add the chicken thighs back to the pot. They should not be submerged in the liquid.

Cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes. Serve over a bed or rice. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Can You Help Tami?

I received an e-mail from a dear friend, a writer, about her niece's difficult situation. As a caring aunt, she has thought of a way to help Tami and her family. I wanted to share the e-mail with you and let you know that she is happy to have you pass it on too if you'd like. Here it is:

CAN YOU HELP TAMI?

Here’s a chance to find a gift for someone special on your list and to help a hurting family at the same time.

My niece, Tami Wheatley Nichols, is going through a very dark valley right now as she battles advanced kidney cancer. It has spread to her lungs, making every breath a struggle. My sister, Patty Rawlins Wheatley, cares for her while Tami’s husband Bert works swing shift. Tami's twelve-year-old, Delaney, also does all she can to help.

They have catastrophic insurance, but it does not fully kick in until they have paid the first $7500 out of pocket. They will have barely reached that deductible in December, then another $7500 deductible starts in January. It would greatly ease their minds if they didn’t have to worry so much about where they’ll find the money.

We are offering a copy of my book, “A Logger’s Daughter: Growing Up in Washington’s Woods,” for each donation of $15 or more. “A Logger’s Daughter” costs approximately $20 plus tax in bookstores and online, so this is a good deal. Every penny you send, outside of shipping and handling costs, goes directly to the Nichols family.

You can order through my website, http://www.rainsongpress.com or at this address:
RainSong Press
26929 81st Dr. NW
Stanwood, WA 98292

Please indicate that your contribution is for the Tami Nichols Benefit Fund. Let me know if you’d like your book(s) autographed. If you are able to help Tami in this way, please accept our heartfelt thanks. Feel free to send this on to people you know who might be interested. You are welcome to personalize this however you like.

Sincerely,
Joan Husby (and Hank)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Mrs. Fix-It

There are women in my life who are creative and resourceful, mechanical even. My friend Janice, the one with the birds, hikes up the hill and fixes her well and water pump, lays flooring in her house, does whatever needs doing. Dad says Mom is so handy at home repair that she makes up for the brother he never had! My sister Peach grieved when Ernst Hardware closed its doors years ago because it was her favorite place to shop.

Not me. I'm satisfied with pumping my own gas and feel proud when I can get the printer ink changed. But now and then I do take on a challenge.

Yesterday it was the fan in our bathroom. I've been noticing that it had collected so much dust that the mirrors weren't clearing completely after a shower. So when I was scrubbing the bathrooms yesterday I decided to tackle the fan.

From perching on the rise of the shower -- where it comes up to meet the shower door -- I was able to reach up to the fan with a rag. As I worked I wiggled the cover and it slid out of place and dangled down three or four inches, hanging by a couple of U-shaped wires. I began cleaning in earnest. Some of the dust came out, but much of it got pushed into the corners of the fan's cover. So I flipped the cover around to get at it from the underside and the wire on one side came loose, making it easier to clean. I hauled the step ladder and the vacuum cleaner up the stairs and went back to work.

It's amazing the positions your body can assume when you are determined to complete a job. With one foot on the step ladder and one on the sink, trying to get the vacuum cleaner hose to reach the fan cover, I struggled to keep my balance. It was like doing a pirouette on a pogo stick. Finally I was satisfied with my cleaning job, but that was the easy part.

Getting the fan cover back on was the hard part.

To get the wire back into place so that I could push the cover into its proper position I had to get the little round circles at each end of the wire into its proper hole. By now my 5 feet 10 inches are stuffed into a space above the sink about 5 feet high, and I am having to lean away from the vanity bulbs to keep from burning a hole in my shirt. At some point it occurred to me turn off the fan. If this job was going to kill me it wouldn't be from electrocution. And who, I wondered, would bring meals to my family with all its unusual dietary issues if I ended up in the hospital from falling off the ladder or sink?

I wiggled and moved and forced those circles of wire with no luck. I could see how one had just a round hole to fit into and the other had a larger area to slide into and then pop into its hole, but it took a while to figure out that the slider went in after I got the other one in place. Since the cover hung only about three inches below the ceiling, I found it difficult to get my hands into the space to attach the wire. My feet moved around the sink for a better position; I'd switch one foot back to the ladder, steadying myself by holding onto the top of the shower door. Round and round I went. At last the first end of the wire popped into place!

Oh, no -- I got the left side of the wire into the hole on the right side! By now I'm sweating like a, well, something very unpleasant, and my face looks like I stayed way too long at the beach. Now the crazy wire won't come out of the hole!

Ten minutes later, my neck stiff from all the scrunching I've had to do, I push the cover back into place, climb off the sink, and fix myself a cup of tea. Now I remember why it took me so long to get to this task!

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Family with Itchy Feet

I spent an hour on Friday, the National Day of Listening, interviewing John and Ruby Schlosser. Over half of their 68 years together were spent in Asia. They raised a daughter and three sons, and they gave them all the gift of itchy feet.

John was born and raised in China, the son of missionary parents; Ruby grew up in California. They met as students at Greenville College in Illinois. (John said he worked as a custodian in the administration office at school and looked up Ruby's file before he asked her out!) They married after seminary and pastored a couple of churches, but John's heart was still in China. After language study he set off for China. Ruby, however, was not able to join him because no visas were being granted to women and children due to political unrest. She and their daughter, Lora Jean, had to wait for a year she before could get a passport and find a ship to take them to China where they were reunited with John.

China was a difficult place in the mid- to late-1940s, with Japanese occupation and later the encroachment of the Communists. When they were evacuated from China they spent time in Hong Kong, getting their papers in order to go on to the Philippines. They arrived in the Philippine harbor in the "teeth of a typhoon," as John described it. Seasickness had overtaken the passengers but as everyone else recovered John became sicker. He ended up going straight to the hospital to have his ruptured appendix removed. It was 1949.

Southern Mindanao was their destination but it was unsafe for babies, and by now they also had a one-year-old son. Before they could move there they spent a year in Manila, where John recorded two weekly radio programs at Far East Broadcasting Company -- a study of the Gospel of John in Chinese and an English devotional program.

They spent 25 years in the Philippines. They began a pastoral training center with five students which has since educated hundreds of pastors. Today the Philippine Conference of the Free Methodist Church has 220 churches, over 20,000 members, and its own bishop. While John was supervising a large district, Ruby was privileged to plant and pastor two churches in that district.

More language training, in Cantonese this time, prepared them for five years of service in Hong Kong. They later served another five-year term in the Philippines and retired in 1983.

As for the gift of itchy feet, they gave their children a generous dose of compassion along with it. Jean, a registered nurse, was on her way to midwife school in Kentucky, preparing for overseas missions herself, when she lost her life in a car accident. Their sons have worked with ethnic populations to promote legal and social justice. And most of the Schlosser children and grandchildren have gone to the Philippines to see the people and places of their past.

One of John and Ruby's grandchildren is currently in Japan teaching English. Looks like the gift of itchy feet just keeps getting passed on.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

First Sunday of Advent

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light.
For those who lived in a land of deep shadows—
light! sunbursts of light!...
For a child has been born—for us!
the gift of a son—for us!
He'll take over
the running of the world.
His names will be: Amazing Counselor,
Strong God,
Eternal Father,
Prince of Wholeness.
His ruling authority will grow,
and there'll be no limits to the wholeness he brings.
He'll rule from the historic David throne
over that promised kingdom.
He'll put that kingdom on a firm footing
and keep it going
With fair dealing and right living,
beginning now and lasting always.
The zeal of God-of-the-Angel-Armies
will do all this.

(Isaiah 9:2,6-7, The Message)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

It's Been a Long Day's Night



A Poem
(In the style of Jack Perlutsky)

My head is thumping,
my eyes are red,
my breathing's shallow --
I'm going to bed.
Through the past long night
I slept hardly a wink
'cuz my boys got sick.
So now I can't think
of anything clever
or witty to say
except "Good night,"
and "Have a good day."

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