Monday, October 30, 2006
I have a great son-in-law. Only trouble is he lives too far away. He bought a chain saw for himself for his birthday this year and I wish he lived close enough that we could use our chain saws together! (Little known fact...that's what I got for my birthday last year!) Luke will probably be cutting firewood and wood for pole barns with his, while mine is mostly used for pruning and cutting down small trees.
Luke loves living in NY state where he and Erin are now. The mostly rural, small town atmosphere is much more to his liking than the Boston area. He's loving his work learning to be a farrier (that's a person who takes care of horses hooves, makes horseshoes, etc.) and also doing lots of carpentry work. They're in a wonderful church and feeling more and more settled all the time. I feel so thankful for the way God has led and blessed Luke and Erin.
They'll be closing on their new house soon and Luke's really looking forward to working on it. There is a lot of fixing up to do - painting, ripping up old linoleum and carpet to get to the wood floors beneath, and some other more involved changes. I can't wait to see how he and Erin transform their new home to really make it theirs! I'm so happy for them.
Happy Birthday, Luke. We can't wait to see you all at Christmas time!
Tennessee Corn Pone (pinto beans with a crusty cornbread topping)
Fredricksburg Texas spicy dip with carrots and broccoli for dipping (thanks, Nicole for the dip spices - someone said it was a dip that kicked back! It was really good)
Fruit salad and bread brought by the Stouts
I do love food. I love cooking. I love seeing people eating and enjoying my food. I love the tradition of Sunday dinner with a houseful of guests. Can't wait for this coming Sunday....maybe we'll do Indian, New England, West African fusion next!
Sunday, October 29, 2006
or two?? My friend, Wendy, has two adorable 12 week old Golden retriever/Welsh Springer spaniel/Lab mix puppies. She’s selling them for $175 each to cover the shots and other vet care they’ve already received. She’d love for them to go to the same home, but they don’t have to. They’re very sweet and love to retrieve. Any takers?
A call to Catherine gave us the go ahead. It wasn’t raining at her house and she said that if it did, we could still enjoy the fellowship. So, wondering if we’d dig or visit, we loaded tools in the car and headed to their house.
When we arrived, it was misting. Catherine didn’t think we could work in the yard, but I insisted that misty weather was the best weather for transplanting. Mind you, I thought we were putting in pansies and other annuals. I didn’t realize that the job she had in mind was digging holes along the driveway and sidewalk edge of their yard for 15 shrubs. Hmmmm. We’ll never get that done in one day, I thought. Oh, me of little faith!
By the time we had donned our raincoats and gathered our tools, Earl had found his measuring tape, jacket, and cap. We all trooped to the backyard and started by carrying the 3 gallon shrubs to their new locations. We carefully measured their placement as Earl directed and then the digging began. About that time, Jean and her husband, another Earl, arrived, and they pitched in, too.
What a crew we were. We ranged in age from 11 to 83. We had a lot of laughs as we tried to figure out just where the irrigation pipes went and whether we were going to hit anything when we dug. Fortunately, though the line of shrubs was just over the irrigation pipe, we weren’t digging deep enough to hit it. And, thankfully, because of the rain, the red clay soil was fairly soft. We dug and dug, filled the wheelbarrow and wheeled it across the street dumping the dirt from the holes into the vacant lot. Earl whacked at the stubborn, root bound shrubs with a pick ax to free them from their pots, Catherine poured the quarter cup of fertilizer in each hole, I placed the shrubs in, and we all filled the holes and packed the soil in the empty spaces.
What a sense of accomplishment we all felt when the last shrub went in. We were, by that time, thoroughly soaked, since the earlier mist had changed to a steady drizzle. After cleaning and putting away the tools, we all went in to change into dry clothes and heat up lunch.
If you’ve never eaten at Catherine’s, you’ve missed a great treat. She is an incredible cook and she loves to feed people. We feasted on generous portions of lasagna, salad, and bread and of course, had some of Catherine’s famous fruit punch. The boys polished off a cupcake or two and some ice cream while the rest of us enjoyed hot cups of coffee and tea.
And of course, we talked and laughed some more. Catherine has lots of stories and they are usually punctuated by queries like, “Isn’t that where we went, Earl?” “When did we go there, Earl?” “Have we been to Spain, Earl?” Catherine is the story teller, Earl is the memory!
I could have sat around that table all afternoon! I went home so happy and so very thankful that God, in His wisdom, orchestrated the day the way He did. What started out as a dreary rainy day turned into a joyous day, with blessings not just misting me but pouring down in abundance. I know that Catherine and Earl thought that we were the helpers, but I know I gained so much more than I gave.
So, here is a recipe for joy. Seek out some senior saints. Find out if they need any yard work done. Pitch in and do it for them or with them. Then eat a meal together. Ask questions about their lives and listen to the stories. Then bask in the fellowship, the wisdom, the grace of God poured out in their lives. I’m hoping maybe Earl will buy a few more shrubs. I know I’ll be happy to do the digging.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
My favorite books and the most inspiring Ebenezer stories I know are biographies of ordinary, but faithful women who did extraordinary things because they followed an extraordinary God (thanks to Noel Piper for that characterization). The lives of these women have served as encouragement, and their examples have provided me with pictures of how to live my life as a Christian woman. Reading the story of a life teaches me in a way that a “how-to” book never could. Life stories show me the way by showing me a life well lived in faith and service. These women have become for me some of the Hebrews 12:1 “cloud of witnesses,” cheering me on to “run with endurance the race that is set before me.”
John Piper wrote, “Hebrews 11 is a divine mandate to read Christian biography. The unmistakable implication of the chapter is that, if we hear about the faith of our forefathers (and mothers), we will "lay aside every weight and sin" and "run with perseverance the race that is set before us" (12:1). If we asked the author, "How shall we stir one another up to love and good works?" (10:24), his answer would be: "Through encouragement from the living (10:25) and the dead" (chap. 11). Christian biography is the means by which "body life" cuts across the generations."
When I feel weak and tired, I think of Gladys Aylward trekking across the mountains in
Piper also wrote, "Good biography is history and guards us against chronological snobbery (as C.S. Lewis calls it). It is also theology - the most powerful kind - because it bursts forth from the lives of people like us. It is also adventure and suspense, for which we have a natural hunger. It is psychology and personal experience, which deepen our understanding of human nature (especially ourselves). Good biographies of great Christians make for remarkably efficient reading."
Here are some of my favorites, in no particular order. I’m sure there are many, many more worthy of our attention. If you have a favorite, please share it.
A Chance to Die: The Biography of Amy Carmichael by Elisabeth Elliot
My Heart in His Hands: Ann Judson of
A Passion for the Impossible: The Life of Lilias Trotter by Miriam Huffman Rockness
Though Lions Roar: The Story of Helen Roseveare, Missionary Doctor to the
More Love to Thee: The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss edited by George L. PrentissThe Charlotte Mason Story by Essex Cholmondley
Good Seed by Mariana Slocum and M.B. Steele
And the Word Came with Power: How God Met and Changed a People Forever by Joanne Shetler
The Small Woman by Alan Burgess (about Gladys Aylward)
Nothing Daunted: The Story of Isobel Kuhn by Gloria Repp
Faithful Women and their Extraordinary God by Noel Piper
The varsity season ended on Monday, also with a win. The seniors were honored at half time. Because the team was ahead and playing well, the second string guys played. That meant that Joel got lots of playing time in the second half. So fun to watch him out there with the big guys.
We'll all miss soccer, but I will appreciate the extra time in my week. Great season, guys!
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Then I noticed, over on the side beyond the perennials, something I've been wanting for awhile. Pink muhly grass has gorgeous floating, waving, subtle pink plumes. They "bloom" in the fall and are very appealing for their airy, feathery movement in the slightest breeze. If you ever drive on Harris Boulevard near Sharon Amity, you might have noticed the thick drifts of delicate pink waving grass plumes in the median strip. That's pink muhly grass. They are stunning right now. If you haven't seen them and are near that area, drive by and take a look! Anyway, I am now the happy owner of one specimen of pink muhly grass. This is my first foray into growing grasses and I HAD to start with this one since it's my very favorite! I am imagining a portion of my back terrace with this, and perhaps several more grasses. I was pretty intrigued by a miscanthus with curlicue stems, but I was already over my alloted plant funds so I resisted. Anyway, I've still got to get that terrace finished before I get any more plants!
Once home, I cleaned out the front garden, moved a couple of perennials, and forked over the open spaces in the bed. I spread composted manure, sprinked the free fertilizer that they give out at Bradfords, and had a delightful time planting the fall annuals. My garden does not look like the very orderly beds of pansies and snaps that you see all over the area right now. Oh no - no suburban neighborhood entry garden look for me! Mine is much more free form, with pansies, snaps, and ornamental kales snuggled in amongst lantanas, black-eyed susans, and coneflowers that are on their way out; a butterfly bush that gives a bit of structure to the garden in winter; a past-prime bronze fennel whose seeds attract the finches; foxgloves, foam flowers and heucheras that are a promise for next season and lemon thyme and lemon balm whose scents waft into the air whenever I brush by them. Mmmmm.
I still have pansies to plant in the back top terrace, as well as the perennials mentioned above that will go in the back. I also bought collard seedlings which really should have gone in a month ago, but then I couldn't bear to pull the tomatoes that early. I'm also planning to move all the daylilies to the back and dig some Lenten roses from a friend's garden for the shady side of the front bed.
Of course, the evening drew on much too fast. Hungry stomachs called and I reluctantly went inside to cook dinner. This morning the bright faces of the pansies greeted me on my way down the walkway on my way to church. I'm looking forward to greeting these new garden friends in the months ahead. Smiling flower faces - that's a southern fall and winter pleasure.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
What I didn't do...laundry, vacuuming, French assignments, tea drinking and reading. I'd rather cook than do laundry or vacuum any day, but I really do need to tackle the French and if it wasn't past my bedtime, I'd curl up with a cup of tea and a book right now. Instead, I'll head upstairs and curl up with my sweetheart!
It is raining pretty hard right now. I was supposed to be on my way to the school about now for a middle school game and then a varsity game, but because of the rain, the games have been cancelled for today. The boys are pretty disappointed. I am too, but I am also now relishing the possibilities for the afternoon. They include baking bread, cooking a nice dinner, finally getting the French lessons planned and assignments written in the boys' notebooks, doing laundry, vacuuming my bedroom, making a frozen dinner for a friend, drinking a cup of English Breakfast tea and reading my chapter from Seeing and Savoring Jesus, watching the BBC production of Macbeth. Now surely, I won't do all of this, but it is a pleasure to have abundant possibilities and an afternoon in which to be busy about my home. I tell my boys I will never be bored! That's certainly true this rainy afternoon. What are you doing?
It was a hard fought game. We had defeated
I mentioned in an earlier post that I was looking forward to driving up with a car full of teenagers. I thoroughly enjoyed the drive up and back with them. We (mostly they) talked, listened to music, and played some car games. I got to know them all a bit better and am now looking forward to Kaye’s promised lemon chess pie which she said she’d make for me sometime!
Friday, October 13, 2006
Many of you know that Andrew has not been very well since he returned from his trekking trip in August. He’s had a persistent cough, low energy, and had lost ten pounds. He was already a pretty skinny guy so he really didn’t have ten pounds to spare. Anyway, he played the entire game yesterday. He’s a fairly formidable defender. He doesn’t steal the ball much but puts lots of pressure on whoever he’s up against. He plays hard. After playing the entire game, he commented that he wasn’t even that tired. I was so glad to hear those words! At last, he seems to be on the mend. He is regaining his energy and his weight (he’s gained back four pounds so far). He is coughing less and throwing up less. Yeah!Some of you also know that we had him tested for whooping cough. Well, to my surprise and skepticism, his test results came back negative. I’m not sure I believe the result. I won’t go into why I’m skeptical here, but suffice it to say that whatever he has, it is on its way out and he is well on the road to recovery. I am very thankful.
Now, back to soccer. Today’s game was much more enjoyable. Covenant won against Graystone, 4-1 (I can remember the score when we win). What I really enjoyed was that throughout the entire game, there were always two of my guys on the field. Joel even got about 25 minutes of playing time. Andrew played almost the whole game, again on defense. Matthew had a lot of playing time, too, and came very close to scoring a goal. My mother’s heart just swells with love and pride and delight when I see my boys out there playing so hard.
It is also a hoot to see my Joel up against boys much bigger than he is. One of the guys on the other team, who towered about a foot over Joel, said to him during a break in the play, “Dude, what grade are you in anyway?” Though he’s the smallest one on the field, Joel doesn’t shy away from contact. He got knocked down twice and both times the ref called a foul. One of the times, Joel was definitely fouled, but the other time I think the ref just called it because Joel was smaller! Joel said he was a little nervous but he played well and had some nice touches on the ball. He’ll probably get some more playing time in the varsity game next Tuesday, so he’s excited.
Tomorrow we go to Morganton for Thomas’s football game. I am driving up early with a car full of teenagers – should be interesting and entertaining. Looks like it will be a lovely fall day, perfect for a late afternoon football game. It may even be cool enough for a blanket and hot chocolate. I hope so.
That’s it for the Friday sports report. Enjoy your Saturday, everybody.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
This is for you, Michael. Last Thursday, the varsity soccer (that’s Andrew and Matthew as well as Josiah and Jed) lost to Charlotte Christian. I don’t remember the score. It wasn’t pretty. Enough said. Let’s hope they play better against Forsythe on Thursday.
Saturday in the misty coolness of the evening, the Stallions won again. This time it was 48-0 against the PFL team from South Charlotte/Rock Hill area. Thomas had about 90 yards rushing, caught several passes and had a couple of touchdowns. I have started losing count. Who would have ever thought two years ago that I’d have this problem! It was a happy night for the Stallions all around because their JV also won. First time both teams have won in the same night.
On Tuesday.... drum roll please.... Joel’s middle school soccer team won their first game. The final score was 6-3, with Joel scoring 4 of the 6 goals. He was pretty happy about it. Yeah, Joel!
My mother is the consummate gift giver, and always gives gifts with special meaning. I wish I had an ounce of her thoughtfulness and creativity when it comes to gift giving. For my birthday, she took a smocked dress that I wore when I was 4 or 5 and had it beautifully mounted and framed. Then she made a copy of a family picture in which I was wearing the dress and framed it, too. The dress now occupies a special spot above the piano where I can look up and see it as I sit at my desk.
Here's the dress...
Friday, October 06, 2006
I’ve read and heard several folks lately talking about how much they love fall. Well, I must admit, I enjoy it, but fall is not my favorite season. Oh, I love the crispness in the air, the crunch of the leaves, the anticipation of the approaching holidays, but I have to say that I always feel a bit bereft when autumn rolls around because it signals the end of my two favorite seasons, spring and summer!
When we lived in
Having grown up in the south without air conditioning til I was in high school, I just got used to the heat. I actually enjoy a 90 degree day and somehow, don’t really wilt all that much in the humidity…well, yeah, my hair does, but I don’t really feel that bad! I have been known to enjoy a good sweaty, sticky day of work in the hot sun. Maybe it's the ice cold lemonade afterwards that I love the most, but whatever it is, I am definitely a spring and summer kind of girl.
I do, however, love the harvest abundance of this time of year and I like fall food. Just the other day, Joel and I tackled the tangle of tomatoes that had overgrown their terrace beds. We pulled them all out even though they had lots of green tomatoes on them. The red ones we’ll eat and the green ones will go into green tomato chutney. We also harvested lots more peppers and even a couple of cucumbers. I bought pumpkins, butternut squash, and delicious winesap apples at the local farmer’s market on Monday and have already made pumpkin bread and a favorite butternut squash recipe which I’ll share below.
And since I now live back in the south, I do relish the fact that fall doesn’t mean the end of the growing season and I can plant pansies, snapdragons, spinach, kale, collards, and mixed greens in my newly cleared terraces and continue harvesting and enjoying the garden all winter long.
The "veggies" of Joel's labor!
Beth’s Adaptation of Chilean Squash (yes, another old Moosewood recipe)
Cut a butternut squash in half, place in a 9x13 pan with a little water in the bottom of the pan and bake at 350 til soft.
Slice 2 onions, 3 or 4 peppers of any color (red, yellow, green, even purple) and sauté in a little olive oil in a large skillet. I use my huge cast iron skillet for this.
Add 1 Tablespoon chili powder, salt to taste and a bunch of fresh cilantro. Stir all together over medium heat, being careful not to let it stick.
Add 1 can corn kernels.
When the squash is cooked, scoop it out and add to the skillet mix. Stir all together and let heat through.
Serve with sharp cheddar cheese sprinkled on top.
What I like to do is cook the squash a day ahead and store it in the fridge in a Ziploc. While the onions and peppers are sautéing, I scoop out the cool squash. Easier to handle that squash just out of the oven. This dish is really good with greens and cornbread...but then I think most things are good with greens and cornbread!
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
The Desiring God Conference in
My favorite sessions were Tim Keller’s for its thought provoking, church engaging content, and John Piper’s on the supremacy of Christ and joy. John never fails to raise my eyes to the glory of God, which we apprehend now in small degree, but which we will, in eternity, experience fully. He used the analogy of a mountain climber coming up over a ridge and gazing at the wonder and majesty of the sight before him knowing that beyond each ridge are more and more vistas even more glorious than before. What joy is to be found in gazing on our Lord Jesus, whose glory so far surpasses anything we can imagine now! In His presence, indeed, is fullness of joy.
The challenge for me after listening to John is how to hang onto this vision of joy in Christ and live it out amidst the challenges and distractions of daily living. This is not a new question or a new challenge. It is the constant struggle I think most of us face. How do I fight for joy and treasure Christ when I am in the middle of a day spent waiting in the doctor’s office for over an hour and then having to go to the hospital for a procedure they tell me they can’t do there, then, back to the doctor’s office for more waiting; sorting through mountains of dirty laundry; losing my keys; missing my children who are far away; forgetting to buy milk and toilet paper. Daily, mundane, un-extraordinary life…it can eat away at my joy more quickly and insidiously than major trauma. I am thankful for conferences like this that refresh and inspire and I'm also very blessed to be surrounded by people, especially my husband, who help me to keep my eyes on Jesus, day in and day out.
There is much more to reflect on. I’ll be pulling out my notes and listening to some of the transcripts to hear things I missed in both Wells and