Saturday, February 27, 2010

Dear IRS

Dear IRS, 
Please remove me from your mailing list.

Friday, February 26, 2010

A Light and Happy Read

I've just read the most delightful book by George MacDonald, an author who greatly influenced C.S. Lewis.  The book is The Light Princess and the edition I found at the library, published in 1969, features illustrations by Maurice Sendak.

At the time of the baptism of the infant princess, the king's sister is angry.  She was inadvertently left off the invitation list, and she wants revenge.  So she works a spell on the child, taking away her gravity and leaving her weightless.  No one can figure out how to break the spell, not even the two very wise philosophers named Hum-Drum  and Kopy-Keck.  They do have a few ideas, though.

Filled with wordplay and nonsense, there is also nobility and goodness in the story.  If you or your children aren't familiar with The Light Princess, I'd say you'd better go straight to your local library website and search for it.  Read it in private, though; people in the doctor's waiting room just aren't sure what to do with you when you laugh out loud over a good read.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wedding Eve Soup

Tomorrow is our 21st wedding anniversary.  The day we met I helped with a lunch for people in international student ministry, where we served two kinds of soup, homemade rolls, and cheesecake.  It was such a delicious meal that we served the same menu for our rehearsal dinner.  From then on, we've referred to both soups as Wedding Eve Soup.  Here are the recipes, in case you'd like to know what we're eating for dinner tonight!

Autumn Soup
1 lb ground beef
1 c onion, chopped
4 c water
1 c cut up carrots
1 c diced celery
1 c diced potato
2 tsp salt
1 tsp bottled brown bouquet sauce
1/4 tsp pepper
1 bay leaf
1/8 tsp basil
6 tomatoes or 28 oz can
   tomatoes, with liquid*

Brown meat and onion.  Pour off fat.  Add rest of ingredients.  Simmer until vegetables are tender.  Remove bay leaf before serving.

*If using canned tomatoes, reduce water in recipe to 3 cups.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

More Than Gold

There's something about being away from home, being on an adventure, that opens people up to ideas and encounters.  And what bigger adventure for people just now than the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver!  Realizing that folks would be visiting their city from all over the world, the Christian community of Greater Vancouver/Fraser Valley has come together to "collaborate for the common good, to create spaces to extend the radical hospitality of Christ."

More Than Gold is designed to touch the lives of people on many levels during this time of festivity and competition in the Greater Vancouver area.  Through prayer teams, the venues have been prayed over.  Volunteers have been trained to be available -- to ride the trams and buses, to serve coffee, to engage others in conversation, with the purpose of showing kindness in the name of Jesus.  Through their emphasis on the arts, there are hundreds of events scheduled around the area that feature musicians, dancers, actors and visual artists.  MTG has a homestay program for visitors. With Sustainability a guiding value of the 2010 Olympics, More than Gold has chosen three Sustainability initiatives to address as they partner with groups in the area dealing with sex trafficking, homelessness, and creation care.

All of these avenues provide opportunities for believers in Christ to reach out to others in His name.  After studying their website ( and hearing their Director of Operations, Bob Kraemer, on the radio, I am impressed with this massive outreach.  There is the stereotype of button-holing people to get them to come to Jesus, but this does not apply to the efforts of More Than Gold. Instead it is made up of Christian believers across denominational lines whose desire is to be available to those hungering for more in life.  

Let's face it.  Even a gold medal cannot fulfill the deepest need of a person's life, and many who strive for excellence in their sport or other passions will be let down to realize that they still have a hole somewhere inside.  Men and women who know and love Jesus and are trained to offer His love through hospitality are available to serve those who have come to Vancouver for this historic event. Might God bless their efforts and answer their prayers as they freely share His love.

“We ought to show hospitality to people so that we may work together 
for the truth.”  3 John 1:8

Monday, February 22, 2010


In loving memory of my mother-in-law,
Lynda Mary Mills Kauffman,
September 12, 1918 - February 20, 2010

From the moment I met her
it we clear that she adored her son.
She accepted me with open arms
and took great delight
in our children.
Never for a moment
did we question
her love!

Equally evident
was her love for the Lord
and His Word.

Her interest in Heaven
increased over the past few years,
especially since Tom's dad
preceded her last April.

Now she is there,
in the very presence
of Jesus.
And one day we'll see her again.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Quietly He called me.
Humanly speaking,
it was no extravaganza
yet I am told
that beyond the galaxies
a fanfare broke out
when I said "Yes" to Him
and took His name.

-- author unknown

Friday, February 19, 2010

I Miss Cornucopia!

One of the serendipities about moving to this neighborhood over six years ago was discovering Cornucopia, the wonderful health food store just three blocks away. They carried specialty food (including gluten free) as well as a wonderful supply of supplements. The staff was knowledgeable and warm and we became friends.

But times change, and people's lives change. The store closed last summer. There are plenty of food co-ops and Super Supplements close enough that I can still get the things I need, but I miss the experience of being a regular at Cornucopia. I miss the convenience, I miss my friends there, and I miss the children of the staff that I watched from infancy. Beautiful children, they all looked a little like Eloise Wilkin illustrations from Little Golden Books of my childhood, and they always brightened my day.

If you happen to run into Brianne, Tara, Beth, Matt, Rebecca, Linda, Megan, Anna, or any of the other staff, please tell them hello for me. And if you see Coral, Bodie or Jude, take a minute to soak up their sweetness, and give them a hug for me.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

An Undivided Heart

What is an undivided heart? I looked up Psalm 86:11 in various versions so that I could determine what David meant when he asked the Lord for an undivided heart. Here it is in he New International Version, the Message, and the New International Readers Version:

Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.

The Message
Train me, God, to walk straight; then I'll follow your true path. Put me together, one heart and mind; then, undivided, I'll worship in joyful fear.

New International Readers Version
Lord, teach me how you want me to live. Then I will follow your truth. Give me a heart that doesn't want anything more than to worship you.

So that's it. It's a united heart and mind that doesn't want anything more than to worship God. In my search I came across this five minute commentary from Dr. Harold Sala, giving five marks of an undivided heart. I thought you'd like to hear what he has to say.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Pop Quiz!

Time for a geography challenge! I tried several online quizzes and finally settled on one designed for grades 4 and above. Why? Well, I got some of the answers right. Plus it was quite interesting. Not only does it tell you if you are right or wrong, it also expands on the answer with additional information.

Maybe you won't find this as challenging as I did. (Maybe you're on 6th grade level!) If that's the case, google "geography quizzes" and you're sure to find something to test your knowledge of the world.

OK, so here's the test I chose: . Have fun!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Idiomatically Speaking

It was a weekend of idioms for me! The proverbial light bulb came on three times as I was reading or watching videos. Here what happened:

Sidetracked – I’m very familiar with this, as it happens to me on a regular basis. But I’d really never thought of where the word came from. I’m reading This Train is Bound for Glory: The Story of America’s Chapel Cars, a book which chronicles the phenomenon of train cars that traveled throughout the Western United States from the 1890s to the 1930s to bring the gospel to areas without churches. G.H. Herrick, a Sunday school superintendent in Minnesota, ”found himself without a place to conduct Sunday school. He made a request of the railroad company that a passenger coach be sidetracked in town; the company responded favorably, and for an entire winter a Sunday school was conducted in that passenger car” (page 11). The siding is a turnout at a train yard, so a train that has been moved to the siding has been sidetracked, diverted from its main purpose. Hmm, so that's what happens.

Learning the ropes – We were watching a documentary about Christopher Columbus and the ships that were built and sailed for the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ 1492 voyage. Because the sails are controlled by many, many ropes, the crew had to be “taught the ropes” so they would know what each rope did. What an important step for any of us in learning a new skill.

Getting up with the rooster – Of course that means getting up early. Sunday afternoon at my sister’s house we watched Temple Grandin, the new HBO movie about an amazing woman with autism. We took Samuel to hear her a couple of years ago. The movie was difficult to watch, but really wonderful. (If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend that you rent it when it comes out or watch it when they run it again on HBO. Sorry; I got a little sidetracked there.) The day she arrived at her aunt and uncle’s ranch her aunt was, you know, teaching her the ropes. Temple thinks in pictures, so when her aunt told her she'd probably better get to bed early because “we get up with the rooster around here,” a puzzled look came over Temple’s face as a picture came to her mind. It was of her aunt and uncle, in their pajamas and bathrobes, sitting on the barn roof with the rooster, all crowing!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

This is no "LINE," Say you'll be MINE, Valentine!

You've got a perfect score in my heart, Valentine!

(These 1955 valentines were recently discovered among my childhood treasures in the boxes in our garage.)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Gramma School

Because I fully expected to homeschool our boys, preschool was not something we thought about when we lived in New York. But when Tommy was preschool age he had a curious mind and a lot of energy. Nearly every day he wanted to make a book, so we'd staple together ten pages of printer paper and he'd dictate the text and draw the illustrations of his fantastical stories. He liked to cook and would occasionally create his own recipes. He loved nature and wanted to learn about animals and spend time outside.

Bless her heart, Tom's mom decided he should go to Gramma School!

So two or three times most weeks she'd have Tommy come next door to their house and they'd spend a couple of hours together. They'd read National Geographic or children's books from long ago; they'd hunt for frogs at the pond; they'd bake something; they'd play the piano; they'd do art projects; they'd work on his ABCs. The day we moved away they planted a tree. Just Tommy and Gramma. Sweet times for the two of them.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


I stood at the gateway
of the sea
and said,
"In your depths
my sins are buried."

(see Micah 7:18-19)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Spiritual Food

In his book Writing for the Soul, Jerry B. Jenkins tells the following story about a conversation he had with Billy Graham as they worked together on Mr. Graham's autobiography:

"You pray without ceasing?" I said.

"I do." Mr Graham said, still with that air of pure humility. "And I have, every waking moment since I received Christ as a teenager." He had to have seen the doubt on my face. "I'm praying right now as I'm talking to you," he said. "Praying that God will use this book, that it will be clear that it's more about Him than about me, praying that we'll both do our jobs well and that He will get the glory."

I was nearly speechless. "And your searching the Scripture," I managed, "how doe that work?"

"Wherever I am," he said, "at home, in my office, or in a hotel room in some other country, the first thing I do in the morning is to leave my Bible open somewhere where I will notice it during the day. I pick it up at odd moments and read a verse or two or a chapter or two or for an hour or two. And this is not for study or sermon preparation. This is just for my own spiritual nourishment."

Now we're getting somewhere. Everyone I know who is serious about his spiritual life would love to have a more consistent devotional life of prayer and Bible reading. Perhaps I was on the edge of real takeaway value.

"Say you miss a day or two," I said. "How do you get back to your routine?"

"Miss a day or two?" he said. "I don't think I've ever done that."

"You never miss?"

He shook his head. "I told you. This is my spiritual food. I would no more miss this than a regular meal."

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Cookie Break

Last week I made cookies, the best I ever remember eating. I'm thinking you might like to try them. They came from Tropical Traditions recipe blog. Check out their website -- they have some wonderful recipes and great products. Here's the recipe:

Gluten Free Chocolate Coconut Chewies

2 ounce organic cocoa (about 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons)
11 ounce powdered sugar (about 2 3/4 cups)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 egg whites, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 - 1 cup dried unsweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Sift dry ingredients (except coconut) together. You can use a stand mixer with a wisk attachment if you have it. Mix thoroughly.

On low speed and add egg whites, one at a time. Add vanilla extract and turn mixer on high for about 2 minutes, until the batter has thickened.

Gently and briefly fold the coconut in. Don't mix it in completely.

Drop batter (about the size of a rounded measuring tablespoon) onto a prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 13-15 minutes. Cookie should be puffed and cracked. You can let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet or remove them and let cool on a wire rack.

Monday, February 8, 2010


Christian humility is not thinking less of yourself;
it is thinking of yourself less,
as C.S. Lewis so memorably said.
It is to be no longer always noticing yourself
and how you are doing and how you are being treated.
It is "blessed self-forgetfulness."

Tim Keller, pastor
Redeemer Presbyterian Church

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Mama's OCPF

There have been a few times when we've received money that we didn't expect -- $30 in the pocket of a pair of pants we'd purchased at a thrift store, a refund from an overpayment, a birthday check. We've had considerably more change in our wallets since the library dropped its fee for overdue books. One quarter in college I went in to pay my tuition, only to find that someone else already had! I never did find out who. From time to time I check the Washington State Department of Revenue website to see if anyone I know has any unclaimed funds. Today I found my brother, but, alas, not myself.

As a mother of five little kids, my mom didn't have a lot of discretionary funds. But she did have a savings plan. She called it her OCPF (Old Coat Pocket Fund). Whenever she'd end up with a little bit of money -- maybe a few dollars left over after paying for two full carts of groceries, or an honorarium from speaking at a women's luncheon, or a little babysitting money -- she'd take it to her bedroom and stuff it in the pocket of an old coat hanging in her closet. Then she'd forget about it. As far as I know, she didn't keep track of how much was in that pocket and would, for months at a time, even forget she had such a system.

Then one day an extraordinary need would arise. Maybe two or three kids all needed shoes at the same time, or there was an opportunity for one of us to go on a school trip. We'd bring the need to our parents and suddenly Mom's face would light up. She'd disappear and when she'd return she'd have a few dollars in her hand, usually just the amount that was needed. Her OCPF paid for lots of short family trips, like our Why-Not days (that's for another blog) or a night in a motel at Mt Rainier. Her Old Coat Pocket Fund got us through emergencies and bought us a lot of family fun.

I've checked the pockets of my old coats. What a shame -- all they have is holes.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Tonight, In Concert!

Tommy has his first official show tonight. He makes a lot of music and has played it at Open Mic nights at the local coffee shop and at a friend's party, but this is his first chance to play before paying guests. He and three or four other guys who make electronic music are playing tonight at Zippy's in Everett. Tommy will play the groove box.

A groove box is "a self-contained instrument for the production of live, loop-based electronic music, with a high degree of user control facilitating improvisation," according to Wikipedia. Although the music is recorded onto the groove box before the show, he turns dials and flips switches while it is playing to enhance its sound. Some of the music sounds like what you might hear in a video game.

It's been fun to see Tommy's interest in music take off. He was in 9th grade before he picked up any instrument and, with just a couple of semesters of guitar and no other training, he's become a proficient musician. We're really proud of him.

So if you're in Everett tonight and want to stop by at 9:00 you'll hear a fun show and discover a whole new world of music you've likely never before experienced.

If you can't go, you can listen here.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

It is Well With My Soul

The Hymn of the Month for February is Horatio Spafford's hymn, It is Well With My Soul. The video tells the story and shares the song. It is produced by the Berean Baptist Church of Lilburn, Georgia, with Pastor Rob Finch narrating and the choir singing.

Whatever your lot today, I pray that it is well with your soul.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Nearly-Forgotten Technology

Having just had our wire recording transferred to CD (see yesterday's blog), I became interested in the history and process of wire recording. The video below is a great introduction to this extinct technology.

The concept of recording on wire came into being in 1878. It was a costly endeavor and slow. In 1898 the Telegraphone was developed, with the intent of recording telephone messages when the called party was unavailable -- the first message machine! By the 1930s wire recorders were being used as dictating machines and, during WW II the BBC used them to get messages to the French Underground. United States military also used them during the war, and for several years after the war they were popular items in American homes. With the advent of magnetic tape recording in the early 50s, wire recordings lost their popularity.

Here are a couple of websites that you can explore if you want to know more about wire recording: click here or here.

We used Precision Audio Restoration in Shoreline, WA, for our project.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Voices From the Past

I couldn't pronounce my r's when I was little. I called myself "Gin-juh" and my baby sister "Glowia." I must have been about four and my brother Tommy five when he decided I needed a little coaching. I'm told the conversation went something like this:

"Ginger, say car."
"No, say car."
"Ginger, say ca-rrrr."
"No, honey, say ca-urh."
At this point I started jumping up and down shouting, "He called me honey! He called me honey!"

When I was digging through the boxes of childhood treasures in our garage in December, I came across a small canister. Thinking it strange that someone had saved an old can of shoe polish, I pulled it out and discovered a small yellowed note taped to the top which read, "Us at home, Nov 23, 1954." It was a wire recording! We found a man in Seattle to transfer the recording to CD and just last night were able to give my parents their belated Christmas present.

On the recording, Dad played the part of Art Linkletter and told us we were on his "Houseparty" radio program. He asked us questions about ourselves -- names (Tommy and Gin-juh), ages (five and fo-uh), what our parents did (Daddy was a nol'um layer [linoleum layer] and Mama didn't work but she liked to read), who was the boss at our house (of course the answer was our Daddy!). Tommy said George Washington was the smartest man in the world, and his wife was the smartest woman. I said the prettiest woman in the world was Mrs O'Brien! No one at the table had any idea who Mrs O'Brien was, but she must have been gorgeous. Already I had two boyfriends -- Chuck and Leroy. Tommy thought it would be fun to be a zraff (giraffe) so that he could watch the fireballs, and for no reason I could come up with, I wanted to be an ow-uu (owl). In an attempt to get five-month-old Gloria to talk, we made her cry instead.

We each sang a song, exuberant me with words I can't quite make out, and my brother singing sweetly and clearly, "Whisper a prayer in the morning, whisper a prayer at noon, whisper a prayer in the evening, so keep your heart in tune."

Tommy and I did a lively rendition of "I Love to Go to Sunday School," then Dad and I sang "Whisper a Prayer" with Tommy, this time Tommy singing the harmony to Dad's and my melody. Tommy was undisturbed by my attempt to find the right note or even by the melody that Dad was singing as he harmonized high above us. I'd forgotten how naturally music came to him.

Our family didn't own a recorder or camera during our early days, so this find is especially precious to us. Tom and I were glad to get it back from being transferred while my brother Ted, who was passing through on his way back to Juneau, and Peach (that is, Glowia) were both available to hear it too. Tim, check the mail. Your copy will be there in a couple of days.

Now where did we put that cassette of our boys when they were preschoolers?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Reality Check

This past weekend was Tom's 40th college reunion. He talked to a friend who shared a recent work experience with him. The friend works for a company that requires ID badge photos to be updated quite often. After being handed his latest ID photo, he sat in silence studying it. Concerned, the photographer said, "Is everything OK? Is there something wrong with the picture?" More silence. Finally he said, "You performed a miracle! Somehow you got my grandfather's picture on this badge!"