Monday, July 29, 2013

What You Can Learn From Mother Earth News

Do you read Mother Earth News?  It comes every other month and provides so much food for thought and action. We just received the August/September issue and it is chock-full of information to make your life healthier.

Have you ever had trouble choosing a melon? In this issue will learn to Chose and Use the Best Melons. Here's one thing to look for -- "The flavor of most melons (except winter melons) does not improve after harvest, so make sure they are ripe."

There's a 4-page article called Freezing Fruits and Vegetables From Your Garden, with beautiful photographs, a list of crops that freeze well and the answer to the question, "Can you freeze in canning jars?"

You might like the nostalgic piece by Brian Welch about the hand tools passed through his family and the way they connect him to his ancestors, to work and to tradition.

Readers get their say in Dear Mother (letters to the editor) and Country Lore, where they share tips to live by. From a story about a mama hen who adopted guinea keets, to overwintering carrot in your garden, the story of a homemade greenhouse and readers' favorite herbal flavors, the contributions of readers are fun and informative, just like Mother Earth's articles.

What I most enjoyed abut this issue is the poster called Top Tips to Boost Flavor and Nutrition. It's adapted from the book Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health by Jo Robinson. Take a minute and click here to view the poster that gives such suggestions as this: "Tear lettuce into bite-sized pieces a day or so before you eat it to double the amount of antioxidants." Who knew?

We are also subscribers to Mother Earth Living: Natural Home, Healthy Life. Articles emphasize cooking, cleaning, saving money, healthy cosmetics, home remedies and other very practical, useful information to challenge and assist readers in everyday living. The issues are loaded with charts and illustrations, tips and news that are easy to read and really quite inspiring.

In 2011 we attended the Mother Earth News Fair at the Puyallup Fair Grounds. We had a great time and were exposed to some new ideas as well as some topics we'd been thinking about for a while. We missed it this year (June 1-2) but it is scheduled for Seven Springs, Pennsylvania in September and Lawrence Kansas in October.  And if you missed it this year, why not pencil it in for next? Check out details here.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Dinner at the Three Peace Restaurant

 Meet "Pierre." He's really my brother-in-law, Allen, in disguise. For Christmas he and my sister Peach (alias "Suzette") gave Tom and me a gift certificate for dinner for two at the Three Peace Restaurant, for an evening to be determined. We could come to their home and they would serve us a gourmet meal. They included with the gift certificate a menu from which we could select our appetizers, entree and dessert. We settled on last night, Tom's birthday, for our night out at the Three Peace Restaurant.

From the moment we arrived and found a parking space in the driveway prepared for us until our final good-bye, we were treated to a thoroughly delightful evening.

Pierre met us at the door, a towel draped over his arm, and walked us to the table, beautifully set near the window, overlooking the front garden. He anticipated our every need and served us with grace.

We chose the stuffed mushrooms and the fruit with dip for our appetizers. Truly they would have made a delicious and satisfying meal by themselves.

The spinach raspberry salad featured slivered almonds and something sweet and crunchy, along with the mandarins and raspberries and a delicate dressing.

I was enjoying myself so much that I forgot to take a photo of the dinner plate -- New York steak, grilled to perfection with a round of garlic butter on top, baby roasted potatoes and garden green beans with bacon.

Dessert was Chocolate Raspberry Cake with a fine cup of tea for me and coffee for Tom.

After dinner we were invited into the kitchen to meet Suzette! Can that girl cook!

One of the nicest things about the evening was to see that they seemed to be having as much fun as we were. Their eyes sparkled with joy and with love for us. The food was, without question, exquisitely prepared and beautifully presented, but it was the love that was served that made the meal so very special.

Peach and Allen, thank you so much. We were completely blessed by this marvelous evening.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Perfect Loaf

My man Tom loves a good loaf of bread. The best are the ones he makes himself.

Long before I knew him he was making bread. He brought at least one beat-up bread making book to our marriage and treated me from time to time to one of his delicious loaves.

Then our family experienced the gluten-free, dairy-free dilemma. Only Tom was still able to eat wheat, and his bread baking days became a thing of the past -- unless he was visiting his parents.

But a few months ago he started to experiment with bread baking again. He has tried no-knead bread --

both gluten,

and gluten-free;

he has explored sourdough bread...

...and salt-rising bread (which, he concluded after several attempts, neither rose very well nor tasted much like the wonderful salt-rising bread we've had in New York).

We recently found a gluten-free bread that is sold in supermarkets that tastes great. So we wrote down all the ingredients and determined amounts, creating our own recipe that we thoroughly enjoy, especially since the store-bought version costs nearly $7 for a rather small loaf!

As for the wheat bread, just the other day everything finally came together and Tom finally got his perfect loaf!

He mixed the yeast together with all his liquid ingredients and got out his dough mixer, added the dry ingredients and started stirring.

Plop! Onto the counter it went so he could work it -- with some folding, a little kneading, and then letting it stretch.

He put it in the pan to rise,

then into the oven to bake.

Voila! The perfect loaf!!

Lest you think I am posting this to tell you about bread, I am not. I am writing this post to tell you about my husband. Tom's interests are varied and when he finds a topic he cares about he reads and thinks about it at length. Then he tries his hand at it. He is focused and persistent, and he loves the process. (When he wanted to make cheese, he first build a cheese press so that he would have the proper equipment.)

He is a problem solver. How many times, I wonder, has he taken my complicated plans and simplified them to something actually do-able, or listened to my tale of distress and found a way to make things right!

Tom is responsible, but he is also fun! I really love hanging out with him.

Happy birthday, Tom. I'm glad you got your perfect loaf. As for me, I'm glad I've got my perfect man.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Kale: Mmmm, Mmmm Good!

Since announcing last week that I am going to be blogging less frequently, I have discovered that I have a lot I'd like to say! Last week I did cheat a bit. I wrote a couple of blogs that I didn't plan to write, then I said that I posted them at 8:57 a.m., but it wasn't true!  I posted them whenever I had them done, I just said it was 8:57. (Then, again, maybe you had already figured out that I've been doing that all along!)

Anyway, who knows when I'll have something to say. From now on I'll just say it, no matter what time of the day or night, and I'll quit pretending it was actually three minutes to nine.

Tom is out watering the garden. We harvested the kale this afternoon, getting it ready for the freezer. Some we blanched and froze so that we can use it in dishes like Tim's Kale and Cannellini Chicken. And some we whizzed in the VitaMix and poured into ice cube trays so that we can use it in veggie drinks. The whole process took about two hours; I was surprised it was so quick.

We harvested the kale... 
...prepared it (took out the vein, tore it up, blanched it for 2 minutes
then drained it and soaked it in ice water for 2 minutes...
...measured it out in one cup portions... 
and put it in quart freezer bags, 7 of them!
Then we tore up the rest of the kale and put it in the VitaMix...
...whizzed it up with about 1 cup of water...
And poured it into ice trays.

So does anyone have a good recipe to share that pairs kale and chocolate?

Friday, July 19, 2013

It is Well With My Soul, Take 3

I got home from the last day of VBS and sat down to check out Facebook. Someone had posted this arrangement of It is Well With My Soul, a hymn I've posted twice before on my blog -- here and here. But, you know, this is one of those songs I just can't get enough of. And this is a totally amazing arrangement of it! It blessed me so much.

The young man's name is Sam Robson, and if you enjoy this Acapella arrangement of the hymn, you may want to check out his YouTube account to find others.

Lord, be glorified through this music and receive our praise for, indeed, it is well with our souls.

One last thought. If the music of Heaven is going to be better than this (which is hard for me to imagine but probably true) then I can hardly wait!

Here are the lyrics of the third verse, one I had never heard before:
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Brush With Death

I had a brush with death yesterday. Not my death, but a brush with death just the same.

When I left home in the afternoon I told my son I was going to visit a couple of friends who were nearing the end of their lives. Off I went to Warm Beach Senior Community, to check in on Jim and Bud. Sunday -- just two days earlier -- a friend had told me I should go soon if I wanted to see them.

We'd known Jim and his wife for 15 years and watched  them cope with her diagnosis of Alzheimer's. It curtailed their service in the church some, but it didn't dim their joyful spirits. Jim was involved in Operation Christmas Child and had plans to oversee a regional drop-off location for shoe boxes on their way to kids who'll be receiving them. Just weeks ago we had learned that Jim was ill, and I wanted to tell him good-bye.

But when I arrived at the healthcare center, I found that I was too late. He'd passed away on Sunday.

I went on to see Bud, not knowing in what condition I'd find him. We'd been neighbors 40 years ago and friends ever since. He looked good in a fresh blue shirt and few obvious signs of his situation, but he knows that he will soon be going Home. We chatted, Bud and his wife and I, and there was no mention of regrets or fear, no panic as these dear people walk through the valley of the shadow of death. "People feel bad for me," Bud said, "but I tell them not to. I'm going to Heaven!"

When I returned home I called my friend Lois. We'd scheduled the call several days ago, before I knew about my visit to Warm Beach. Lois lost her husband, Lavern, in October, just two months shy of their 65th wedding anniversary. They are the missionaries I worked with in Japan, and they have meant a lot to me over the years.

We talked for half an hour, catching up on each other's lives since our last visit. The loss is very real to Lois, but so is her faith. And she is looking forward to being reunited with Lavern when she, too, passes into the Lord's presence.

I was reminded that one of the greatest gifts believers offer the world is our example of how to die. We grieve, oh yes, we grieve, but it is not like those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). We know that, through Christ, we have a sure future. Death is not the end. Indeed, when we die we enter into the very presence of God. We step into the life everlasting that we have been promised. All the trials we have endured in this life are over and we are complete -- everything God created us to be -- as we live forever in his presence!

What greater testimony of the truth of the gospel could there be than for the world to see how Christ followers face death! Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not saying that this whole process is no big deal or that, because Heaven is our destination, we slide through the death experience without being deeply affected. But what I am saying is that there is a hope that exists only in Christ who has conquered the greatest enemy, Death.

As we keep our eyes focused on Jesus we find the grace and strength to endure. We look to him, who suffered for us, and we find our help. Along with scripture, one of the ways we can focus on him is to sing. It is a balm for our souls. It quiets us, and it turns others to Christ as well.

On several occasions my sister has stood at the bedside of a believer in Christ who is nearing death and has sung hymns alone or with the family members. And then there is the Thomas family who filled the room with singing as their son Mitch slipped into Heaven. The hospital staff said they'd never experienced anything like it. We have HOPE!

Here is a truth: Thank God, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that in his great mercy we men have been born again into a life full of hope, through Christ's rising again from the dead! You can now hope for a perfect inheritance beyond the reach of change and decay, "reserved" in Heaven for you. And in the meantime you are guarded by the power of God operating through your faith, till you enter fully into the salvation which is all ready for the denouement* of the last day (1 Peter 1:3-5, JB Phillips New Testament).

Matt Maher sings about that hope in his song Christ is Risen. Rejoice today in the hope that is ours in Christ!

*"denouement" means the final resolution of the intricacies of a plot, as of a drama or novel (from

Monday, July 15, 2013

Kids Grow Up

In April last year Tom and I were driving in the farmlands nearby and we found a wonderful tree with a huge eagle's next and a bald eagle keeping watch in the tree. I posted the pictures here

The other day, when we were out with the camera, we drove by the tree again. "Let's see if there is an eaglet in the tree," Tom said. Sure enough, we found this baby sitting in the nest, virtually hidden by leaves. (Bless the person who invented the zoom lens!)

Babies were meant to grow up and launch. It's true throughout species, and around the world. Kids grow up.

Over the weekend we had the joy of seeing some of the kids that I have loved since they were very young, and now they are grown up, or almost so. Sara was at Seattle Pacific University when I was in international student ministry there. We've had a special friendship with her over the years and have loved her children since they were born. I remember Hannah's first birthday party as if it just happened but now she's 18 and off to college. She's a beautiful young woman, with dancing eyes. a bright mind, and a sweet spirit. I held Steven in my arms and dedicated him to the Lord when he was a baby. Now he's in high school, a great student and a kind, loving son.

We also attended a wedding reception for our friend Tim. He was five or six when we met, and I spent a lot of time with his family. Timmy was extremely creative; he wrote and illustrated the most imaginative stories I could ever, well, imagine! He was probably about ten when he moved away and I didn't see him very often after that, but it has been fun to watch from at a distance as he and Astrid fell in love and got married. The years of being out of touch melted away as I got to meet Astrid and spend time with the family at the reception. 

Kids grow up, sometimes when you are looking, sometimes when you're not.

One Saturday a month we have a prayer meeting at church called Pray for our Kids. It's a way for us to be involved in the life of children whether we know their situations or not. I am so glad God gave us prayer as a way to be involved in the life of those around us.

That's what a lot of people have done for our boys. We have had a prayer team who have, over the years, prayed for our children. I have sent an occasional prayer update and have included concerns for which we'd appreciate prayer. God has blessed us with people who care deeply about our children, and we praise him for these dear folks.

The process of growing up can get pretty messy. There's all that stuff they tell you as parents to expect, but then there's all that other stuff you couldn't possibly prepare for! Why not invite others to join you in praying for your kids. And pray for other people's kids who are in your life. All our kids will grow up. Let's support them as they do with our love and prayers.

* * * * * * * * *

I just want to let you know that I'll be blogging less through the rest of the summer. I'll be posting, but it won't be every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning.  I'm not quitting, but it just won't be as regular. I'll still be checking in from time to time. Won't you do the same?

Friday, July 12, 2013

Yes You Can, Even if You're a Kid

Zach Bonner, age 9, and his mother and others
walking to raise money for homeless youth, 2007
You don't have to be grown up to have a compassionate heart that sees a need you can help meet. There are lots of kids who are spurred to action when they come face to face with other people's difficulties.

When Zach Bonner was seven, he was watching the news of the devastation Hurricane Charley leveled on Punta Gorda, a town not far from his own in Florida. He was compelled to act. So he and his sister Kelley went door to door, picking up donations from his neighbors who had been spared in the hurricane to share with those who had been hit. They ended up with 27 truckloads of emergency supplies, food, and water.

Zach started a non-profit called Little Red Wagon Foundation and turned his attention to homelessness and walked with his mom and sister from Tampa to Tallahassee, raising $25,000 for homeless kids. Other walks for homeless kids have been from Atlanta, Georgia to Washington DC in 2009 -- a 59 day walk -- and a six-month long Walk Across America (Tampa to Los Angeles), 2.478 miles!

Now 15, his most recent project involved him spending a week in a plexiglass box set up near a Florida mall. More than 6,000 cans of food were donated for Metropolitan Ministries (an outreach to the poor and homeless) and Frances House, which serves the HIV/AIDS community as a result of his efforts.

Zach's story is told in the movie, The Little Red Wagon, the incredible story of one child with a passion to help others. Here's the trailer:

Then there's Ryan Hreljec, who was sitting in his first grade classroom in Ontario when his teacher told
Ryan Hreljec, 2006, at one of his
wells in Uganda
the children about the need for water in Uganda. For $70 a well could be dug to provide for a community. Ryan earnestly pursued his goal of raising $70 by taking on extra chores (and pestering his parents!), and out of that experience Ryan's Well Foundation was born. Ryan recently graduated from college. To date, his foundation has provided 749 wells and 992 latrines for the people of Uganda. And in the process he met Jimmy, a Ugandan boy who started out as his penpal and was eventually adopted by Ryan's parents!

These are just two kids who have made a difference in the world. They started young and to this day continue to pursue their passion to help others.

Maybe you're young -- too young, you think -- to do something bigger than yourself. If it is a passion, there's a good chance God has placed it in your heart. Trust him, and go for it!

Or maybe a child has come to you with an idea that seems preposterous, impossible! Don't shut him or her down. It might, indeed, be preposterous or a passing fancy. But it just might be what that child was designed for. Just maybe God is raising that child up to do something BIG and is saying to him or her, "Yes, you can!"

Stand back, friend, and see what God will do!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Open Wide Your Mouth

I am the Lord your God,
who brought you up out of Egypt.
Open wide your mouth
and I will fill it.

Psalm 81:10

How the Lord longs to meet our needs. And how faithful he is! In Psalm 81 he reminds the children of Israel how he brought them out of Egypt, freeing them from slavery, and led them in the wilderness where he tested them (verses 6-7). And he promised to meet all their needs (and ours) if they would only receive his provision. 

"Open wide your mouth." the Lord instructs Israel, "and I will fill it." But Israel refused. She depended on foreign gods (9) and ignored her history of God's deliverance. So he "gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own devices" (12). They could have been fully satisfied and their enemies would have been subdued and punished (13-16), but Israel would not listen or submit to him (11).

An open mouth waiting to be filled is not an open basket waiting to be filled. A basket, with its sides and bottom, can only contain so much. But a mouth! It is an opening into the body which is continually processing what is put into it and, though it should not be over-filled, the filling is a renewable process. You put the food it, it goes through the body to provide nourishment, you add more food... 

That's how it is when God is the one filling our open mouths! As the baby bird is incapable of filling its own mouth, we are not able to meet our own needs. But oh, how the Father loves to meet our needs for us. All he asks is that we open ourselves to his provision.

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
he rises to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him.

Isaiah 30:18

Monday, July 8, 2013

Meditation Gardens

Do you ever feel you'd like to find to a quiet place to pray? In the Northwest there are plenty of beaches or woodland trails you might escape to sit in God's presence. But did you know there are also several prayer or meditation gardens in Stanwood?

Last week I spent a little time in three, all within a few minutes of our home! Each is beautiful, and each is different from the other.

Bonhoeffer Botanical Gardens is not designed specifically as a prayer garden, but you could do some fine praying there in the beauty of the native Northwest woodland. It is located at Freeborn Lutheran Church, just east of the Exit 212 off I-5 (300th St NW). Just beyond the trees and Church Creek, which runs through the gardens, is the freeway, but it seems miles away as you explore this beautiful 10-acre park.

Across town, just as you cross from Stanwood onto Camano Island, is St Aiden Episcopal Church. We attended their Selah Service last Sunday evening, which was held outside on their wonderful grounds. The gardens at St Aiden invite you to stay a while and wait on the Lord. The plantings are lovely and the Celtic features in the garden draw your heart to think on Christ. Find here a spot to rest in his presence.

The meditation garden, adjacent to St Cecilia Catholic Church, is a part of the Carmelite Institute for Spirituality. Here you can walk the Stations of the Cross as you proceed down a paved path bordered by lovely trees, plants, and flowers. There were several fruit trees planted in one section of the garden, and I thought of the Tree of Life that is in the center of the City in Revelation, and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations (22:5). It was a hot day, but the cool breeze in the garden refreshed me, as did the garden's beauty. This garden would be a wonderful place to spend some time alone with the Lord. 

In other posts I have already written about the prayer trail at the Warm Beach Free Methodist Church, with the Lord's Prayer written out along the trail. That's another one you might like to spend some time in.

The Lord bless you this week and draw you closer to his heart, whatever you are doing.