Monday, April 29, 2013

Tulips and Energy Bites

Tom's sister Marilee visited us this weekend. (She was the first one to sleep on our new sofa!) We took her to La Conner to see the tulips, but I'm afraid we were too late. The gorgeous sunny days of last week were finished by Saturday, and many of the tulip fields were already gone. Still, we did get a few photos from the car window!

A friend posted a recipe on Facebook that I'm passing on to you. It is easy to make, it's delicious, and it packs a wallop! While I was making it a friend of our son came over and I gave him the recipe. He spends time at the gym and thought these would give him a great boost before he starts his workouts. (He went right home and made it himself!) Here it is for you, only slightly modified.

No-Bake Energy Bites

1 cup oats
2/3 cup toasted coconut flakes
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla

Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl until thoroughly mixed. Let chill in the refrigerator for half an hour. Once chilled, roll into bite-sized balls. Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to one week.

This is the basic idea. You can substitute the peanut butter for any nut butter and wheat germ for part or all of the flaxseed. It is recommended that you do not substitute agave nectar for the honey, as the honey's thickness helps hold things together.

In place of, or in addition to, the chocolate chips, you might try chopped dried fruit, dried berries, chopped nuts, sunflower seed, or other grains. I added raisins. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Yes You Can -- Tori Kelly, a Parkinson's Advocate

Tori Kelly was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in 2007. The diagnosis came when her life was in turmoil and she was, as she told me, "at the end of my rope." Her house was on the market and if it didn't sell by the end of the year she would lose it. She shared her concerns with Soulcrafters, her Sunday School class at the Warm Beach Free Methodist Church; the house sold on the night of December 31. It was Tori's introduction to the power of prayer.

Martha White opened her home to Tori, where she spent the next three years. By being in the company of others and working on Martha's property she began to experience emotional healing for the depression that had enveloped her. As she came to know Christ more intimately she found that he was flooding her heart and mind with scripture. It was after her first year with Martha that she finally had the courage to face the Parkinson's diagnosis.

Tori began to read about Parkinson's. Although we associate the disease with tremors, she found that some of the folks with the diagnosis do not have a tremor. Some of them have voices that become quieter, rigidity in the neck, shoulders, arms and legs, and other muscles, freezing when walking (coming to a standstill with the inability to move forward), and micrographia (small, cramped handwriting). A classic characteristic is rubbing the thumb and first finger together, as if rolling a pill.

"I've become good at falling forward," Tori laughed. "Lots of people with Parkinson's fall backward, but I fall forward!"

Parkinson's Disease is caused by a lack of dopamine, a chemical messenger that transmits brain signals and regulates movement and emotional responses. By the time a person is diagnosed, about 80% of their dopamine is gone. Slowness of thinking, confusion, cognitive issues such as difficulty with memory, and high anxiety levels can also be associated with Parkinson's.

There are a couple of standard drugs that are used to treat Parkinson's Disease. Tori also believes that exercise and laughter are powerful medicine when managing the disease.

Early on in the process of coming to terms with her own diagnosis, Tori had an experience that gave her life a new focus. "I met a person with Parkinson's who was unhappy," Tori told me. "I sensed God say to me, 'Start a support group and invite them.' I said to God, 'Skills? I don't have any skills! If you want me to do this you'll have to send someone to help me.'"

That's when she met a woman from the Northwest Parkinson's Foundation. She walked with Tori through the process of setting up a support group: selecting a date, time, and place to meet; providing Tori with an article about Parkinson's and her role as facilitator; and sending out invitations to contacts in the area.

When the time came for the first meeting, Tori had no idea who might show up. All together, there were  eight to 10 people, including the person the Lord had told her to invite. The woman from the foundation told her own story, answered questions, and encouraged the group. As people shared their own stories and interests, connections were formed and the group was born.

Now the Stanwood Parkinson's Support Group has birthed another group that meets in Burlington. There are about 25 people in each group. The meetings are for sharing information they may not have learned from the doctors such as tips for dealing with the day-to-day details of life with Parkinson's. Their meetings include inspiration, humor, sharing among themselves, and guest speakers who present on a variety of topics, including breaking news and research studies. Family members and caregivers are welcome to attend. Group members operate an exhibit at the Stanwood Fair and plan to help out at other booths too. Giving back to the community is important to this group.

Tori's gone a step further -- she's become a research advocate for the Parkinson's Disease Foundation. She received training at the headquarters in New York and now she gives presentations to support groups about research trials and recruits participants.

Tori Kelly has come a long ways since her diagnosis. She's finding life to be fulfilling as she reaches out to help others who are learning to cope with Parkinson's Disease, and she is certainly enriching their lives. Thank you, Tori, for being available when God called you.

* * * * * * *

If you'd like more information you can contact Tori  at 425-422-1067 or

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Life on the Ledge

Over the years my kitchen window sill has housed many marvels, and a fair number of oddities. Here's what is there just now. 

Rocks from the red soil of Burundi.

One of many bracelets that ends up in the window
when I am doing dishes.

A watering pot, always at the ready, a gift from my friend Joan.

A plant that has survived lack of water over the years, nestled into a
pitcher my friend Judi gave me 30 years ago.

Ivy in a cream pitcher, a Christmas gift I gave myself!

Our family, 15 years ago at the big tree at the rest area on I-5,
in a frame from my Secret Sister, Sharon.

A prism. What's a kitchen window without a prism
and all the beautiful colors it refracts that show up
on the refrigerator or the kitchen floor!

A cactus, one of the lone survivors from the cactus seeds Tom's mom
gave him 10 years ago.

A start of a rabbit's foot fern that we brought with us
from a trip to Pennsylvania in 1994.

A jade plant, which he started
from his mom's jade.

Tom (r) and his brother Dan
with their mom's jade plant.

Monday, April 22, 2013

How Great Thou Art

George Beverly "Bev" Shea died last week at the age of 104. An insurance man throughout his 20s, he eventually moved to Chicago, where he began singing on the radio in 1939. One day in 1943 Billy Graham, a 21-year-old college student, stopped by. "I hear you sing on the radio," he told 31-year-old Bev Shea, and wanted to meet you." Later, when Billy Graham began his preaching ministry, he invited Bev Shea to join him as his song leader. They were a team for 60 years!

One of the songs Bev Shea was known for was the hymn, How Great Thou Art, which was sung regularly at the crusade. It is one of the world's favorite hymns and was written by Stuart K Hine, inspired by a Swedish poem and his own experiences of God's greatness. According to Manna Music, which holds the copyright, "there have been over seventeen hundred documented recordings of How Great Thou Art. It has been used on major television programs, in major motion pictures, and has been named as the favorite Gospel song of at least three United States' presidents."

I'm not sure you can sing How Great Thou Art without being moved to worship. I was on a hayride, shivering in a horse-drawn (or perhaps a tractor-drawn) wagon at Warm Beach Camp as a young teen, looking into the starry sky as we made our way through the camp. Someone started to sing, "Oh Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all the worlds thy hands have made, I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, thy power throughout the universe displayed. Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee, how great thou art, how great thou art!" What other response could we give if not worship?

You can hear well over 500 renditions of How Great Thou Art on YouTube, sung by Elvis, Mahalia Jackson, Carrie Underwood, the Gaithers, 10-year-old Rhema Marvanne; the Selah version, which includes a verse in Congolese; a video of a young man accompanying himself on the guitar with the words set to the tune of Danny Boy; renditions in Navaho, Cree, Chinese, Hmong, and many other languages; and played on all kinds of instruments -- handbells, guitar, piano, organ, pan flute, glass harp.

The thing that impressed me the most about the videos I saw was this -- each one was filled with a deep sense of worship. Each was the offering of a personal song to Jesus, presented humbly with awe, or boldly with palpable gratefulness, but all from the heart. Each musician was transported to a private place, it seemed, even if some of them were before hundreds of people.

Here are a few of the videos that I saw, each of which touched my heart. If this isn't enough versions for you, you can always find a few others on YouTube!

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Apostles Creed -- Conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary

For our 2013 Hymn of the Month we will be exploring the Apostles Creed
With each post we'll look at one of the statements in the creed,
consider its significance, and share an appropriate hymn. 

The Apostles Creed
I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth:
And in Jesus Christ His only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hades; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
Of all the statements of the Apostles Creed, perhaps this one is most mysterious -- that Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary. When the angel appeared to Mary and told her of the things to come, her response was, How will this be, since I am a virgin? We can understand that question! But the answer is more difficult to comprehend: The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God (Luke 1:35). 

In Genesis 1:1-2 we read, In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And that's when God spoke, and brought life and order out of chaos. And through the Spirit of God, hovering over Mary, God brought life and order out of the world's chaos through his Son born of a human. We read in John 1:14 (Amplified version) The Word (Christ) became flesh (human, incarnate) and tabernacled (fixed His tent of flesh, lived awhile) among us...

And it is through this coming together of the holy and the human that we see the lengths to which God would go to redeem his children.  

My Son Farewell

My Son
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
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.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Tonight We Pray for the World!

Of the 7,110,958,300 people alive at this moment (I just checked the World Population Clock), there are 2 billion who are considered "unreached." They have not yet received the good news of Jesus Christ. But there are organizations who are turning the hearts and minds of Christ followers to these unreached people groups, raising awareness of them and offering the opportunity for us to become involved in praying for them. Two which I have recently discovered are prayercast and Unleashed for the Unreached. I've been impressed with their websites and with their  earnest desire to see people of the world come to experience the love and salvation of Jesus.

This video by prayercast focuses on God's heart for the world. It is one of 105 videos they have produced, most of which focus on one particular nation. I highly recommend checking out their video list.

I invite you to be a part of a Global PrayerCast which takes place tonight at 8:30 EST (5:30 PST). If you have access to a computer you can participate.  The video below will introduce you to the PrayerCast and tell you what to do to join with throngs of believers worldwide, lifting our voices to the Lord on behalf of the 2 billion unreached people of the world -- those who haven't heard the good news of Jesus Christ. I've never done anything like this, maybe you haven't either. But tonight we can!

(Check out the Wall of Unreached People on the Unleashed for the Unreached website. Perhaps you could have a part in bringing it to your town or college.)

I've got my world map and I'm ready to pray! Won't you join me?

Monday, April 15, 2013

On Working Together

The NPR news story this morning caught my attention: GM, Ford to Collaborate On New Transmissions. I'm not particularly into automobile manufacturing, but I know that introducing a new generation of products is a time consuming, costly process. Working together on the new nine- and ten-speed transmissions makes good business sense. It will result in greater fuel efficiency, money saved by both companies, and a shorter time to get the product out.

It is clear from the NPR story that both Ford and General Motors will continue to fight for sales. They are not changing who they are; they are simply acknowledging what we learned in elementary school -- that things go better when we work together. On this project they have set aside their autonomy to work for the collective good.

Now why can't we do that as we deal with other issues facing our nation? Why can't we look past the nose on our own face to see the advantage of working together?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Horatio's Drive: America's First Road Trip

It was a whim that set Horatio Nelson Jackson of Vermont off on a cross-country automobile trip in 1903. As a recent enthusiast of the 20 horse power Winton automobile he had just purchased, he'd heard enough people say that it could never make it across the country that he decided to prove that, indeed, it could! He was in the University Club in San Francisco when someone bet $50 that a car could not make it from San Francisco to New York in three months. Jackson took the bet, and within four days, he and Seward Crocker, a bicycle mechanic who'd been learning to work on gas-powered engines, left from San Francisco, their supplies filling the back of the car so completely that they had to remove the canvas top to accommodate them all. They christened the Winton Vermont.

With only 150 miles of paved road in the entire United States, the trip was a wild adventure. But Jackson and Crocker were up for it. The rutty roads destroyed a tremendous number of tires and spares were not readily available; auto parts wore out or fell off; they weathered storms -- torrential rain, lightning, thunder -- in a roofless car; mud caked every inch of their car. Early on their cooking gear fell off the car and they didn't know it because the trip was so loud!

Despite tremendous challenges, the Vermont arrived in New York in 63 days, 12 hours, and 30 minutes!

The PBS presentation called Horatio's Drive: America's First Road Trip tells the story, retracing the drive. Using hundreds of the photos that Jackson took along the trip and footage of country paths that looked like terrain the Vermont would have covered, you feel like you were there.

(As a matter of fact, it reminded me of my parent's friend who was the first one to drive a car to Seattle from some distant state. His wife was ill and his son an infant. They had only a tent for shelter at night. He kept my parents spellbound with stories of the perils they faced on that trip --  like having to cross a river by driving over the railroad bridge, hoping and praying that no train came along!)

PBS also has a link with many interesting pages that tell the story. Here you'll find out about the film, the team in the car -- Jackson, Crocker, and Bud, the dog they picked up in Idaho, the car itself, an interactive map of the trip, and additional resources.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Corrie ten Boom's Words

Last time I shared a little bit about Corrie ten Boom and her family's role in rescuing Jews during the Holocaust. Here are some of her words from her writings. 

"Worrying is carrying tomorrow's load with today's strength -- carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn't empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength."

"Any concern too small to be turned into a prayer is too small to be made into a burden."

"He uses our problems for His miracles. This was my first lesson in learning to trust Him completely..."

"If the devil cannot make us bad, he will make us busy."

"When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don't throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer."

"All through the short afternoon they kept coming, the people who counted themselves Father's friends. Young and old, poor and rich, scholarly gentlemen and illiterate servant girls -- only to Father did it seem that they were all alike. That was Father's secret: not that he overlooked the differences in people; that he didn't know they were there."

"'Mama,' I said as I set the tray on the bed and sat down beside it, 'can't we do something for Tante Bep? I mean, isn't it sad that she has to spend her last days here where she hates it, instead of where she way happy? The Wallers' or someplace?'
'Corrie, Bep has been just as happy here with us -- no more and no less -- than she was anywhere else. Do you know when she started praising the Wallers so highly? The day she left them. As long as she was there, she had nothing but complaints. The Wallers couldn't compare with the van Hooks where she'd been before. But at the van Hooks, she'd actually been miserable. Happiness isn't something that depends on our surroundings, Corrie. It's something we make inside ourselves.'"

Monday, April 8, 2013

Yes You Can -- the Watchmaker and the Architect

Willem ten Boom was a Dutch watchmaker. In 1837 he opened a clock shop in Haarlem, above which his family lived. He was a faithful Christian and his house was always open to anyone in need.

Willem felt led to begin to pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6) and in 1844 began a prayer meeting in his home to that end. His son Casper carried on the prayer meeting with his family and it was still going strong in February of 1944 when Casper and his family were arrested by the Nazis.

With this for her heritage, is it any wonder that Corrie ten Boom, Casper's daughter, would be instrumental in the movement to protect Jews during the terrible days of World War II? "During 1943 and into 1944, there were usually as many as seven people illegally living in the ten Boom home -- Jews and members of the Dutch underground. Additional refugees would stay with the ten Booms for a few hours or a few days until another 'safe house' could be located for them." (source)

One day an architect knocked on the door. He had heard of the ten Boom's fervor and had come to offer his services. He designed a hiding place into which several people could disappear, should the Gestapo arrive at the ten Boom home. It was in Corrie's bedroom, the highest point in the house. The architect not only designed the room (8-9 feet long, 6 1/2 feet tall, 2 feet deep, behind a linen closet) but also instructed them how to build the room without drawing attention to themselves. "You are a clockmaker," he told Casper. "For the next two weeks you will be working on nothing by grandfather clocks. Fill the clocks with bricks and other building material. No one will suspect what you are up to."

The hiding place is on the top floor.
The hiding place was so well designed and so secure that, when the Gestapo showed up on February 28, 1944, they could not find it. Safely hidden from them were two Jewish men, two Jewish women, and two members of the Dutch underground, all of whom were freed by the Resistance two days later. They were just six of the 800 Jews whose lives were saved through the efforts of the ten Boom family and their many friends.

But what of the architect? Who was he? Nobody knows. But what is known is that he went all over Europe, where he helped create hundreds of hiding places, and was instrumental in saving thousands of lives during the Holocaust.

The watchmaker did what he could -- he opened his heart to the Jewish people and prayed faithfully for them. His passion spilled over onto others, as they carried on the prayer meeting for 100 years and as they risked their own lives to save the lives of others.

The architect did what he could -- he shared his skills with people who would join in the cause of rescue. Neither man was seeking glory for himself, but through each man's life, God was glorified and many, many people were saved.

Do you have a passion or a skill that seems small or inconsequential by itself? Don't seek to use it in a grand way; just offer it because you have it. Yes, you can. You never know how God will use it.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

You can read more about Corrie ten Boom in her books The Hiding Place and Tramp for the Lord, or watch the movie, The Hiding Place. My thanks to Pastor Samuel Schaar who, just five weeks ago, went to the Corrie ten Boom Museum and shared about it at church last night! He had no idea that I had already planned to blog about her today, on Holocaust Remembrance Day! It is Sam's photos you see in this post.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Daffodils and Tulips

So, we took our own advice on Wednesday and went to La Conner to see the tulips. As we were driving through the flats outside La Conner Tom saw hundreds of snow geese overhead, and they landed in a field along the road, thick as the quail in the wilderness. Here's a glimpse of just a few of them.

When the tulips are at their height, these fields are stripes of brilliant color. I hope to return to this site in a week or two and catch this field in full color, but for now the daffodils have the spotlight.

We found a brilliant field of daffodils and got out to shoot them up close. A man with wide angle capabilities on his SLR digital camera told us how he gets his photos -- from underneath the flowers, looking up, with the sky and clouds in the background. Tom and I both tried out his method throughout the trip. 

Of course full fields of tulips in bloom are wonderful, but there is plenty of beauty in the early stages too.

We ran into a couple who were bicycling and offered to take our photo. We chatted for a bit and learned that they are from Spokane. Turns out Nancy, the wife, teaches with my dear friend Judi, my roommate for all four years of college!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Of Taxes, Tomatoes, and Tulips

Timely trivia. Perhaps not terribly inspirational, but maybe useful. That's what we're serving up here today.

 It's tax time. You've probably already received (and spent?) your tax return by now, but for those of you who are still working on taxes, you don't want to overlook any possible deductions. Here are a couple of links that you might want to check out.

Commonly Overlooked Tax Deductions Checklist
The 7 Tax Deductions You Shouldn't Overlook

Are you still trying to discover the truth about tomatoes -- you know, whether they are fruits or vegetables? It's a question that's been around for a long time, but it was, actually definitively answered by our judicial court system in 1893. According to my extensive research (I looked it up on Mental Floss), the question made it all the way to the Supreme Court, in Nix vs Hedeen. They unanimously ruled that tomatoes are vegetables. So there!

It's time for the annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival! Hundreds of thousands of people make the trek each April to see the amazing displays of tulips that cover the fields of La Conner, Washington. Early in the month there may be more daffodils blooming than tulips, as La Conner also grows an abundance of daffodils. You can learn more about what's blooming by clicking on the Bloom Map on the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival's website.

If you want to see tulips but don't want to leave your house, let me recommend that you go to Google Images and type in "tulips." The results will be stunning. If, however, you prefer reading about tulips over seeing them, here is a brief history of tulips in Holland that you might enjoy.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Sister Connection -- 30 in 30

Denise Patch of Sister Connection has been in Burundi for the past two weeks, visiting widows and orphans -- those who are sponsored by Sister Connection and those who are still waiting for sponsorship. Some of the homes she visited are orphan-led. That means that their widowed mothers have also died and the children are on their own. They also visited the three Sister Connection widows who lost their livelihood in the Bujumbura Market fire a couple of months ago.

I've been following Denise's trip on Facebook and was moved by this report:
Her husband was killed when he left the house late at night to get medicine for her raging malaria. She was 8 months pregnant and her husband's family kicked her out of her house. So began her decent into utter despair. Starvation ravaged them, nakedness was one cloth away (she would sit naked by the river waiting for her cloth to dry on laundry day), two of her children died, her son was taken by rebel soldiers to join their army, and this young widow cried for hours of the each day. 
One day someone invited her to church -- and loaned her clothes to wear. She found peace for her heart, but her body was in so much suffering. She was still hungry, still naked, and still crying. Until Sister Connection learned of her. 
"The social worker called me to her office and she actually put money in my hands. I looked at the money and I said, 'Whose money is this?' She said, 'It's your money.' I said, 'This can't be my money. Whose is it?' She said, 'It is all your money.' I was so overwhelmed that I lost consciousness. When I came to, the money was still in my hand. It was mine!" 
Her son came home safely from the bush army, and she and he are thriving. She radiates joy and gratitude. Now, when she walks by people say, "Here comes Mrs Jesus!" For she proclaims Him the husband of the widow. 
He needs us to be the vessel through which He provides for widows like this. He needs you. And so do they.
 So here's the thing. There are still hundreds of widows, with stories just as gripping, who are waiting for sponsorship. Would you consider what you could do to help one of these sisters who is seen as an outcast by others in Burundi? It could make all the difference in the world.

Sister Connection has just released a video that will give you a look at what $30 a month can do for a widow and her children. Their goal is to get 30 new sponsors in the 30 days of April. It is a worthy goal, but I think we can get the word out to people so that even more than 30 new widows can receive sponsorship this month.

Please watch the video and share it with everyone you think might be interested to see it too. And let's be praying that the Lord will richly bless Sister Connection, the widows they serve, and all those who stand with them in this vital ministry.