Monday, December 29, 2008

Will We Get Wings When We Get to Heaven?


Many people, especially children, believe that when we go to heaven we become angels. It's a common misconception in our "Christian culture". But that idea is not exactly Biblical. So the answer to the title question is "No, we don't get wings."

Don't be disappointed, though, for there is a marvelous amount of information about angels in the Bible and you will be fascinated to hear about them.

First, humans and angels are two entirely different creatures. Angels are angels. Humans are humans. And humans who go to heaven do not "become angels". (That means that your dearly departed Grandmother is not your guardian angel.) Angels are incredibly numerous. Rev. 5:11 They are intelligent. They are not ordinarily visible although they are able to appear to man in physical appearance. Gen. 18:2-19:22; John 20:12-13; Acts 12:7-10.

They do not marry, and are not subject to death.
Matt. 22:30; Luke 20:35-36

The angels watchfully look into God's salvation of fallen man.
1 Peter 1:12

The holy angels dwell in heaven (Matt. 18:10; 22:30), where they worship God (Rev. 5:11-12; Psalm 103:20-21; 148:2). (Some angels fell into sin and are not holy. They are called demons.) At God's command the holy angels go out and serve God's people (Hebrews 1:14). These are the holy and elect angels (Matt. 25:31; Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26; Acts 10:22; 1 Timothy 5:21), to whom God’s work of grace in Christ continues to display His divine wisdom and glory (Ephesians 3:10; 1 Peter 1:12).

Holy angels protect believers (Psalm 34:7, 91:11-12), protect little ones in particular (Matthew 18:10), and they constantly observe what goes on among believers (1 Corinthians 11:10). Luke 16:22 implies that angels have a special ministry to believers at their time of death but we do not know details about that.

The mysterious “Angel of the LORD” or “Angel of God”, who appears often in parts of the Old Testament, is sometimes identified with God, and other times distinguished from God (Gen. 16:7-13; 18:1-33; 22:11-18; 24:7, 40; 31:11-13; 32:24-30; 48:15-16; Exodus 3:2-6; 14:19; 23:20-23; 32:34 - 33:5; Numbers 22:22-35; Joshua 5:13-15; Judges 2:1-5; 6:11-23; 9:13-23). In certain instances at least, this Angel is commonly seen as a pre-incarnate appearance of God the Son.

Believers are NOT to worship angels or pray to them...(Rev. 19:10; Exodus 20:1-3; Colossians 2:18). We are to worship and pray to God alone.

And, Oh! Those lovely paintings of little flying babies that we sometimes call cherubs? That is a distorted and wrong view of angels and is nowhere to be found in the Bible. Nor are those frilly, feminine versions of "angels" that you often find in Christian bookstores and elsewhere in our culture. The Bible always speaks of angels as "he" and never "she". In fact, they are often of warrior demean who wield great power at God's command.

Since there is so much fascinating detail about angels in the Bible we might get carried away with that fascination. However, we are not to do that. Angels are merely messengers and do the bidding of the Almighty God. While we can wonder at this order of creatures, we are to always maintain our main focus on the person of our Lord and Savior. All praise and worship is His alone.

A special thank you to the Reformation Study Bible wherein I found an article on angels and where I found the above listed Scriptures.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Did You Ever See a Blonde SnowLady?


This year's creation is a Blonde Snowlady. And, no, she is not a ditz. She is, however, very feminine with her hair of asparagus fern, garlic seedheads, and dried chrysanthemums. She loves her necklace of asparagus berries. And look at those tiger lily stem arms/fingers! (Click the photo for a closeup of her lovely hair!)

Her friend, the Fisherman, sits out front of the house and is very happy indeed that his ice fishing has been a successful venture.

My grandson made his own snowman but refused to pose for a photo. Twelve-year-olds!!!!!

It has long been my contention that every adult child should make at least one snowman per season. And if your weather permits, I expect you to follow my leading in this matter.

Here's the Tip of the Day for those of you who are into crafting and who like to felt old wool sweaters. Make some wool mittens from felted wool...they keep your hands warm no matter if they get wet while patting that snow into the semblance of a snow person. You can find instructions here.

My first pair of woolen mittens was as a child in second grade. My grandmother, who lived in the balmy State of California, sent Christmas boxes to us each year. That year she included a pair of wool mittens for me. They were multi-colored, like Joseph's Coat of Many Colors, and were undoubtedly knit from leftover yarns. (My gramma grew up making do and every scrap of yarn was saved for a future project!) Initially I was not impressed with these home-made stripey mittens...that is, until I used them in the snowy outdoors. For the first time ever, my hands stayed wonderfully warm. When I lost them soon thereafter, I was very sad indeed!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve We Celebrate the End of Death

Whoa! To some that might sound like a weird title. "We Celebrate the End of Death?" And some might wonder, "How do you get THAT out of Christmas?"

I became a believer at a very young age. We had just moved to a tiny foothills farm where my Dad was scrabbling to make a living for his growing brood. Our home was miles from town on a dirt road that was often impassable due to rain. We had no electricity. No running water. And probably no insulation in the old farmhouse in which we lived. A round cast-iron stove heated the dining room. The kitchen stove, a wood burner, heated the kitchen. We children slept upstairs and in the winter it was so cold that my crib was brought down to the living room. Our last winter there we subsisted on rabbits, squirrels, and corn meal mush. It was not a happy time in my mother's life.

But the event I want to get to occurred in early spring. Two neighbor ladies (bless their souls!) stopped by to pick up my two older brothers and take them to vacation Bible school. I was too young to attend. One of the things they learned was the song, "Jesus Loves Me."

Some time later, one of those brothers and I were playing out under the clothesline. I can distinctly remember the green grass and a mist rising off in the distance. My brother was dancing around, singing that song.

I don't remember hearing the name "Jesus" prior to that morning. But I do know this...it was that morning that God put a desire in my heart to know Him. I simply knew (deep down inside) that I wanted to know who this Jesus was. If He loved me, then I wanted to know Him.

That was the beginning of my walk in faith.

But in spite of the fact that we later faithfully attended church and Sunday School (and VBS at various churches in town) it was not until I was twenty-eight years old that I understood the first chapter of John, specifically John 1:1-3, 14 that speaks to Jesus being God in the flesh, the Incarnate God. Up until that time I had concluded that Jesus was the son of God but that He had His beginning in Bethlehem. And when I first understood that Jesus was the Word from before the beginning of time, that He had no beginning, that He was fully God and fully man, I was simply astounded. And I've been astounded ever since.

Hebrews 2:14-15 puts it this way, "Since therefore the children (that's us) share in flesh and blood (since we are mere human beings and as such, subject to death, brought about by Adam's sin) , he himself (that's Jesus) likewise partook of the same things, that through death (his death on our behalf, at the cross) he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery."

Death holds no victory over those who are in Christ. When Time, as we know it, concludes, there will be no more death. Christ will have undone what the devil has done. The death and destruction that were brought into the world with the first sin, will no longer rule.

I Corinthians 15:21-22

So, this Christmas Eve, we celebrate the coming of the Deliverer, the Holy One, the Savior, the One who died for us that we might live. Thanks be to God.

Monday, December 22, 2008

We Are Astounded

I may have white hair but I'm not exactly ancient. I'm not old enough for Medicare. However, I am beginning to feel pretty much like a relic of another time.

In the forty years since my siblings and I graduated from high school much has changed. It is enough that we are amazed and astounded by the technical changes over the past fifty years. We were of the Sputnik generation and I remember scanning the skies to watch the first Russian satellites blink their way across the heavens. The first Sputnik, a mere 22 inches in diameter, was launched into space in October 1957. Sputnik II soon followed. The race to dominate space was begun.

I remember Texas Instrument's first electronic calculator...it cost a small fortune. Now pocket calculators are a dime a dozen. The first computer I encountered was while I worked at Hughes Aircraft in Costa Mesa, California in the 1960s. It took up an entire room and was leased from Texas Instruments.

Our home has gone through numerous computers in the past twenty years. Ditto digital cameras and cell phones. Our "used" car has GPS. My hubby and I each have our own iPods loaded with podcasts by a host of favorite Christian pastors and teachers (John Piper, Arturo Azurdia, White Horse Inn, R.C. Sproul, etc.) whom we like to listen to during the many hours we spend on the road.

My siblings and I have pretty much kept up with the technology of the times. We're not exactly decrepit and not yet musty or moldy behind the ears. We each navigate life well. We've dealt with the issues of parenting, finances, buying homes, selling homes, moving across country, finishing long careers in education, sales, local labor force, and administration. In other words, we've kept up with the times and appreciate the many marvelous changes that make today's life a bit easier than when we were kids.

But we recognize and are astounded by another and more dangerous shift in our nation, our world.

Yesterday our family gathered at my mother's home where we munched on pizza, Christmas candy, cheese and chips and chatted and caught up with each other's lives.

At one point one of my younger brothers commented that his adult children don't believe him when he tells them marijuana was pretty much unheard of and meth was non-existent in our high school days. Oh, we knew that during the 1920s and 1930s there were "potheads" who were addicted to maryjane as it was referred to. But we knew of no one in our 1960s school who used drugs of any kind.

Don't get me wrong. My brothers were not exactly saints. We lived ten miles from town and they drove to and from school in order to participate in football and other extracurricular activities. They knew how to test the limits of parental curfews and they also had a few beers with their friends. But drugs? No, nobody used drugs.

But drugs are not the only cultural change over the past 40-50 years. The moral climate has changed as well. During our growing up years it was rare to see someone kiss on any television program. Today it is difficult to find any television program that does not either display explicit sexual scenes or at the least, include sexual references in conversation or jokes. There is no inhibition exhibited by those famous faces on screen or in magazine. They flaunt themselves as if flaunting will insure their perpetual youth and beauty. There is no shame. Each does his own thing, and indeed, believes he is beholden to nobody and certainly not to God.

My siblings and I have managed to keep up with the technical changes. In fact I'm more computer-literate than some of my nieces and nephews. No, it is not the new technology that has us stymied. It is the cultural change that astounds my generation. (And what astounds me further is that I am finding more and more adults thirty years younger than I who are themselves stunned at the change in this country's morality.)

We see clearly that shift in our culture. And we are stunned. And all of us, every last one of us, sense that this change cannot and will not be undone. It saddens us for we see a weaker America because of that change.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Jimmy Stewart and the Good News

I read another blogger's review of the old Jimmy Stewart movie, "It's a Wonderful Life". The blogger seemed to focus on "life being unjust" and perhaps George would have been better off if he had not been so self-sacrificing in his dealings towards others.

What I like about the movie is that it DOES portray life as unjust and affected by many uncontrollable circumstances. That's a true portrayal. Sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking that we ourselves can control all things, that somehow if I make a plan and carry it out, if I do everything just right, that all will eventually turn out just as I had planned

But that is not the case. Life has sudden unexpected turns. All you have to do is look at your own life and those around you. Yes, being sensible and doing the right thing, and planning ahead, etc., are all good things to do. But when all is said and done, life is unjust.

If you don't think so, then think about just this past year. One single year. And remember all those headlines you read about people dying in accidents, people killing people individually and en masse, your friend becoming ill at a young age with a disastrous illness, that new baby that entered the world stillborn or crippled. Or one single three-year-old Anthony Caylee. This world is unpredictable and destructive. And it is certainly unjust.

That sounds really, really negative, doesn't it?

I don't mean this to be a negative point. Instead, my point is that we really do not control the events of our lives. Unexpected bad things can happen to any one at any time. Life is unpredictable. (But that does not negate or preclude our loving one another and attempting to provide for those who have been treated poorly by life itself.)

As a Christian I am reminded every year that even our Lord was treated unjustly, so that we could be made "just" before a righteous God. My sins and the sins of all those who are His, went to the cross with the Christ. There He died for them so that we might not die the death of total separation from God. Yes, I die physically. But for those who believe, eternal life itself begins now (John 5:24). We have that hope, that expectation, that joyful news that the angels first heard outside of Bethlehem. (Luke 2:10,11 and 14)

Put your cursor over these scriptures and read about this Savior!
John 18:37; 1 John 3:8; Hebrews 2:14-15; Mark 2:17; Luke 19:10; Mark 10:45; Galatians 4:5; John 3:16, 17; 1 John 4:9; John 10:10; 1 Timothy 1:15; Luke 4:18; Romans 15:7-8

So then how do I walk out each day? By taking one step at a time, trusting God to walk before me, to teach me, to guide me, to save me. And during all of that, never to despair. (Romans 8:31)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Did It Snow Last Night? HooooYahhh!


The bad news...Deep snow last night.

The good news...very little wind, hence no blizzard.

The better news...we're done snow blowing...

at least for another 24 hours.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Voice of the Angels

I like reading the Christmas story in the Bible. And while the focus is and should be on the birth of Christ, I am always a bit in awe when I read about the angels who appeared to Zacharias, Mary, Joseph and finally to the shepherds.

I don't know if it is the same angel appearing to each. But the angel that appeared to Zacharias (to announce the birth of John the Baptist) and to Mary is Gabriel. There are only four verses in the Bible that mention the name of the angel Gabriel. Two in Daniel (Dan. 8:16 and 9:21). And two in Luke.

In Luke 1:19 Gabriel speaks to Zacharias and said, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news."

I don't know about you, but I am a bit in awe of those words, "stands in the presence of God". It would seem to me that if I were in the presence of God I most assuredly would be flat on my face. But this Gabriel stands! This must be one special angel, an important angel. And he was sent to speak to those who would first experience the Christ.

It would seem to me that things must have been abuzz in heaven at this point! Gabriel was announcing to key players on earth that the Son of God, The One Who Created All Things (John 1:1-5) was going to leave heaven to enter into mankind and become one of us (John 1:14). The promised Messiah that the prophets had watched and waited for over the centuries and centuries was now coming into His own creation to undo what Satan had done (1 John 3:8 ...last part of the verse).

We know that the angels have watched the history of man and we know that they long to see the redemption completed to its end (1 Peter 1:12 - last half of the verse). It was a long time waiting. And then! Gabriel, the angel who stands in the presence of God, is sent! To bring good news of great joy (Luke 2:10-14). Ahhh, the Focus IS on Christ!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Every Home Has a Junk Drawer

I had to smile when I saw that Paula (of A Latte Quilts) and I both spent yesterday tidying. Her pantry is neat, neat, neat. She accomplished much more than I for my task was simply to clean out the "junk drawer".

I think every home has a junk drawer. The junk drawer is the catch-all. In our house this drawer holds Pizza Hut coupons, stamps from the grocery store, recipes clipped from magazines, rubber bands, paper clips, stray clothes pins, calculator, scissors, recipe cards, etc. You get the picture. (Just in case you are junk-drawer-deprived, I'm providing a photo of Mine! Before and After!)

So here's my Tip for The Day. The key step in cleaning out a cupboard, a drawer, or a fridge, is to first dump everything. Get that thing Empty! In this instance I used a large, flat plastic container and tossed Everything into it. Look at that clean drawer! It's lovely, lovely, lovely! Sort of a minimalist look, wouldn't you say?

The next step is to place back into the drawer (the cupboard, the fridge, etc) ONLY those items that you intend to keep there. Everything else is sorted and put where it should have been put in the first place. (Most of it can be pitched into File #13). I used small baskets, retrieved from elsewhere in the house, as dividers to hold various junky items. They're perfect for this task.

The tall stack of clipped recipes? I found a dozen that were keepers. I must have been exceedingly hungry when I first ripped them from my magazines. (There's no point in hanging onto a recipe by some New York chef that calls for twelve kinds of cheese, three kinds of fresh seafood, and herbs that have names I can't even pronounce. What was I thinking?)

Now I need to tackle my sock drawer!

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Forecast for Christmas is COLD

It is Cold! Not as cold as it could be, but it is cold! I've lived here for all but three years of my life so I know that last night's low of -7 degrees F is not unusual. We will experience at least twenty below sometime during the winter and this year it looks as if we're going to have that kind of extreme cold somewhere around Christmas. That does not thrill me. (The record low for Iowa is 47 below zero, experienced February 3, 1996. Brrrrr!)

I grew up in a an uninsulated house that was constructed in the 1920s. My dad spent days every fall trying to weatherize our home by applying sheets of translucent fiber-reinforced glass cloth (photo swiped from the internet--my apologies) to the outside of the windows, using thin strips of wood nailed to the window frame to hold it in place. He often spent entire winter days in the crawl space under the house trying to thaw water pipes that had frozen, this in spite of the fact that we had kept the kitchen faucet dripping and the doors under the sink open overnight. (I'm not even going to talk about the perpetual mouse population!)

We had two heat sources -- the cookstove in the kitchen and an oil burner in the corner of the dining room. The cookstove was a dual unit. The right half of the stove had gas burners. The left half was a wood burner. The oven could be heated by either. We kids knew how to start a fire in the kitchen stove with some crumpled newspaper and a handful of corn cobs. Once the flame got roaring, we'd add smaller pieces of wood, then larger. My brothers had the task of daily bringing in bushel baskets of corn cobs from the "cob house", a rather large shed in which corn cobs were stored after the corn shelling. They also carried in the wood from the wood pile. This stove kept the kitchen toasty enough, but during the night the fire would eventually burn itself out.

The oil burner in the dining room had two vertical cylindrical units housed within an outer frame. During the night the flames would be turned down to a bare tip of blue fire. This form of "energy conservation" was actually "budget conservation" at our house. By morning the house would be frigid and we would rush to hover near the oil burner while we dressed, first warming one side, then turning to warm the other, sometimes standing so close to the stove that any small movement would put us in contact with the hot metal of the door vents.

One Christmas my aunt made five flannel shirts, one for each of us siblings. My brothers got the snazzy red flannel. Mine was a green plaid and initially I was disappointed that mine was not red. My disappointment disappeared when I donned that flannel shirt and realized how warm it was. It became a favorite. (Thanks, Aunt Anna).

Now we live in a well-insulated home with central air and a high efficiency furnace. Still....I dislike cold. And my heart goes out to those in the New England states who have lost power due to the ice storms.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I'll Never Make it on My Own!

A recent lesson to my ladies was on 'imputation'. If you find that a strange word, you can read my previous post here (and you will understand who my ladies are as well.)

In teaching this group of ladies (some new faces, some old faces) I repeatedly take them to John 6:37-40. (you can put your cursor on the verses to read them....isn't that cool!!!)

There is a surety in these verses. And the surety is in what Jesus does, and not in what we do. In John 6:37 we read that it is the Father who gives us (those who are among the redeemed) to Christ. In verse 39 Jesus reassures us that of all those that the Father gives to the Son, not a single one will be lost. Jesus affirms this in verse 40 by stating that He Himself "will raise him up on the last day".

That surety, that sureness, that assuredness is repeated in John 10:28, 29 where Jesus promises that no one can take His own away from Him, neither from His hand nor from the Father's hand. As believers, we rest in the assurance that it is God who does the saving...we do not. Indeed, we cannot. It is His work, not ours. Paul explains it in Ephesians 2:10 by telling us that we are His workmanship. It is God working in us, not us working in us.

If I count on my own good works, I'll never get there. I can't. I'll never get "good enough". But if it is God working in me that gives me spiritual life, eternal life, then I can be reassured that God will complete what he has begun. You can read that in Philippians 1:6. And that, as they say, is Good News!!

Hand Quilting is One Block at a Time


I posted earlier about the shirt quilt that I am currently hand-quilting. Hand-quilting is something that I do only when we are watching TV. But my hand-quilting projects come along slowly because we don't watch an awful lot of television anymore. (There's not a lot on there that we can abide watching!) Now and then we check out the news and once in awhile we will sit down long enough to watch one of the "old movie" channels.

Here are a couple photos of my current project. The pattern is taken from an antique quilt I once saw on eBay (a perfect place to view vintage quilts!). It was a simple matter to do the math and create the blocks. The secret, of course, is meticulous measuring and piecing. (And, no, I'm sorry, I no longer have the pattern either in my head or on paper.)

You can read more about my quilts here. And don't forget, you can click on images for a closer view.

Now...it's time for me to get moving...I have numerous things on my "to-do" list today!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Today's Sweet Adventure With Sourdough Bread

I was a tad slow with the camera today. These sweet rolls are the result of today's experiment with sourdough and as you can see one is already missing! (This may not be lemon meringue pie but these rolls did score me a few points with Hubby!)

Last evening I took the bowl of sourdough starter out of the fridge. Placed a cup of the starter in a separate glass bowl and added a cup (more or less) of white flour and a fourth cup of water to make a thick batter that is called a "sponge". The sponge needs time to ferment so the bowl sat on the counter overnight while the sourdough did its work.

In the meanwhile, the starter (the bowl that I just took out of the fridge) needed to be fed. So I stirred in a fourth cup each of flour and water and placed that bowl back in the fridge to be used another day.

This morning I added other ingredients to the sponge to make bread dough just as I did last time (read here).

When the dough was kneaded and had risen once, I punched it down and made a small loaf of bread (sorry, no photo) and these sweet rolls. I was too lazy to go through the whole cinnamon roll routine so I experimented and this is the fortuitous result. First, I patted the dough into a thin layer about 10 inches square. I spread a layer of sour cream (you could brush with sweet cream or butter for that matter) and sprinkled on some sugar and cinnamon. I folded the dough over itself in thirds. One third towards the middle.Then he opposite side over the first third. Sorta like a three-layer roll. I cut this roll in four pieces and placed the four pieces in an 8-inch square baking dish and sprinkled it again with sugar and cinnamon. Let it rise one more time. Then baked it about 20 minutes at 400 degrees F. (I really can't remember how long! Sigh!)

Some leftover frosting in the freezer from a previous baking was just enough to glaze the tops when they came out of the oven. Since I did not use butter (although you certainly may) the frosting adds just a bit of extra richness.

Tip of the Day - Leftover powdered sugar frosting freezes well. Even small amounts are sometimes just what you need to sweeten up a bit of baking.

And today's Scripture? John 6:33-35

Security, Security, Security

Because of 911 and heightened security your small town bank now has to ask for identification before they will open an account or add a name to an existing account. I don't know the exact details but our bank asks for a photo ID and a copy of a recent utility bill. And to add a son or daughter or other family member to a savings account or CD, the bank now asks for their address and social security number.

I can understand that. They don't want some terrorist setting up business in town.

Yesterday I drove to the city and left my wallet home. I had intended to spend three hours shopping, but no billfold, no cash, no credit cards, no driver's license. Nada. I needed money. Moolah! Dinero!

Our bank has a branch in that area so I thought I could ask them to call my hometown bank. Surely our banker would verify my voice, especially if I made a couple small chit-chat remarks so she would know that it was indeed me!

Didn't have to make the phone call. Just asked the teller for cash, told her whose names were on the account (mine and the guy who is trying to get me to bake him a lemon meringue pie) and gave her the date and amount of the last deposit. She did verify our mailing address by reading it to me and watching me nod my head! (Go figure!)

I walked out with $300 cash. I realize that there were probably multiple security cameras in the place and if I had been a crook they would have plastered my face all over the local news channels.

But still...wasn't that just a little bizarre!?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Snow, Inventions, Betty Crocker, and KAMUT


It snowed last night. A quiet 3 to 5 inches of snow. The air was still enough that the storm left a smooth surface. Very few drifts.

Our small snowblower did a nice job of clearing our drive...then the two of us lifted it into the back of the pickup to go do two more on the other side of town. We made several observations this morning...

1) The lady who drove straight through the intersection in front of us without looking to the left or right, must have been thinking "if I don't look, I won't feel the pain when some car slams into me crosswise". Driver denial.

2) When I call a side street a "main street" I mean that it is a "direct route" to some main area of town. Being a native I know, for instance, that even though Diamond Street is a "side street", it is nevertheless the main thoroughfare from the southeast end of town to the center of town. Spouse, being a relative newcomer (having lived here a mere fourteen years), still arrives at intersections expecting the person to the right to have the right-of-way. It doesn't compute with him that drivers on Diamond have the right-of-way regardless of whether they are on the right or the left of the other car. It's local custom. It has nothing to do with legality. You just know that they see themselves as being on the main drag and you, on the other hand, are on a "side street" so to speak. So you'd best pay attention and keep out of their way.

3) Someone could make a fortune with my new "invention". Today I dreamed of a mechanism that would make sweeping/scooping snow from a deck obsolete. Think venetian blinds...the deck boards could be rotated sideways to dump the snow underneath the deck. Or they could rotate a full 180 degrees to place the snow/icy surface underneath and the dry surface atop. All this of course would require a sturdy mechanism to do the rotating and to properly support and lock the boards in place. (This is MY invention and if someone develops it and sells it to rich folk -- of which there aren't too many right now -- I expect a ten percent cut of the profit. I can dream, can't I?)

4) Pancakes for breakfast are a good followup to shoveling snow. Especially Kamut Pancakes. And here's the recipe!

KAMUT PANCAKES (adapted from my almost antique Betty Crocker cookbook)
1 egg

1 cup buttermilk (use 1 cup milk and 1 T lemon juice or vinegar)

1 T oil
1 cup Kamut flour (or use regular white or whole wheat flour)
1 T sugar
1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

In a medium bowl, Slightly beat egg, milk, oil.
In a separate bowl stir together the dry ingredients. Then add to the liquid. Stir only until mixed together. A few lumps is good. Over-stirring is not good.

Pour an appropriate amount of batter into a heated skillet that has been sprayed with veggie spray. Or swipe with a bit of butter. Turn when pancakes are puffed and full of bubbles but before the bubbles break. Flip and cook other side. If you're an old hand at pancakes, you can skip this last paragraph. If you're new, you'll soon get the hang of having the skillet at just the right temp.. Too cool and the pancakes will be pale. Too hot, and they'll burn.

This recipe makes a very small batch...enough for the two of us with no leftovers. If we have a hungry grandson in the house, I always double the recipe.

Serve with butter, syrup, applesauce or other fruit.



Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sourdough Bread - You're Gonna Love This!

A while back I posted about my new adventure with baking sourdough bread. You can read about it here. And tonight I'm sharing more about this experience. (If the internet had a 'scratch and sniff' test, you would take one whiff and be right over, begging for a slice topped with butter!)

Even though I've been baking bread for 25 years or more, there's a lot I don't know about making Sourdough. You can google yourself (No, I mean google 'sourdough', not 'yourself', although that might bring up some surprising results as well!) and find numerous sourdough blogs or websites. Some sourdough bakers are a mite more specific than I when measuring, kneading, baking, etc., but I'm finding that sourdough is pretty sturdy stuff and allows me to be a little more layed back than those folk. The idea is to bake a great loaf of bread, not win a prize at the State Fair, so relax a bit, okay?

Since my previous post, I've learned that you can take a dollop (a cup or so) of the sourdough starter, stir in a bit of water and a larger bit of flour to form a thick battery 'sponge'. Let this sponge sit overnight to get it a-growin'. You can see what it looks like in this photo. (Don't forget, you can click for a closer view.) I'm not guaranteeing that I used the correct proportions...but the stuff worked. That's good enough for me.

When it came time to bake bread, I added one egg, 5/8 cup milk, 1 tsp salt, 2 tablespoons honey, 3 tablespoons of butter, 1 teaspoon of yeast and enough regular white flour to knead up nicely in my breadmaker. (Remember from my previous post that I use the breadmaker to knead, but not to bake. Once kneaded, I let it rise once, then punch down, and place in a pan, and bake in the oven.) It's rather a hit-and-miss guess on how much flour. Somewhere between 2 and 3 cups. I just check the machine every minute or so to make sure the dough is not too dry, not too wet.

Some extra thoughts...
  1. The dough will be a bit more wet than regular bread dough. The more moisture, the larger the holes in the crumb.
  2. REAL sourdough probably doesn't use eggs. I'm not a purist about a lot of things and certainly not about bread. (I hope none of those REAL sourdough specialists read this!)
  3. Allowing the sponge to ferment about twelve hours helps the bread develop a very, very good flavor. (This is gonna be a YUM-YUM experience!)
  4. When you are ready to place the loaf in the oven, cut slashes in the top with either a sharp knife or kitchen shears. This allows the bread to rise a bit more in the oven without ripping itself apart. I could have done a better job here.
  5. A thermometer helps determine the optimum baking time. I wait until the bread has baked about 23 minutes in a 400 degree oven before putting in the thermometer and completing the baking until the interior temp is 200 degrees.
  6. I eat more bread now. That may not a good thing.
You can read here about using sourdough for sweet rolls.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Words and Hometown Headlines

A couple days ago I read a blog where the writer complained bitterly about sister and parents. And I've recently read blogs where complaints and criticisms were aimed at spouses or other family members.

I'd like to make this suggestion to help you avoid embarrassment just in case your family members, friends or coworkers know where to find you on the web. (You can call it a "rule" if you want to...but some folks rebel against "rules", so let's call it a suggestion instead. You can take it or leave it, makes no matter to me.)

Here it is...

Think Twice before making nasty or critical comments about friends, or family or fellow employees on your blog. You are not quite as anonymous behind your computer screen as you might think and words cast out into the wild beyond may come back to haunt you.

To adapt an old adage our grandmothers used to use, "If you wouldn't want to see your words on the front page of the local newspaper, don't post it on the web." (That applies also to those unmentionable photos of yourself that you really wouldn't want your grandmother to see....just moments before she's taken to the hospital with a heart attack!)

Sure, most of us need to vent now and then. And perhaps you have someone about whom you really, really need to unload before you explode. So if that is the case, pull up a new word doc on your PC, type out all your anger, your angst, your anguish. Read it through twice (or thrice if you're really steaming).

Then hit Delete.

You will not be sorry.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Charlie Brown Tree


I'm a yard sale aficionado (I had to go to the dictionary for that one!). It means I have an "affection" for yard sales. Yard sales are good. They sell. I buy. Everyone goes away happy.

This year's Christmas tree is a yard sale find. When I brought it up from the basement this week, I was a wee bit surprised at the $5 sticker that was still attached! Me! Spend $5 on a rather smallish, Charlie Brown kinda tree? My affionadoness must have affected my frugalness that day!

This tree is too small even for lights! It would look really dorky with green wires wrapped here and there. So....No Lights This Year. Still...it's kinda cute and has its merits.

The snowmen arrived via another yard sale. The magenta glass beads are from an old necklace. They're tied on with green thread. The white garland is made up of strands of white seed beads from another yard sale necklace.
The tree itself looked a bit lonesome until the fun-loving snowmen arrived on the scene. They're ready for winter fun but I hope they take time Christmas Eve to read Luke 1:32,33 and Luke 2:7 and Luke 2:11,12 and Luke 2:13,14 and a whole bunch more! Christmas is not Christmas if one does not remember the Christ, the Savior, the One who loves us and gives us Life in Him. (You can point your cursor at the scriptures and read them yourself!)

I'm still searching the house for more glass beads. But if I can't find any, the tree looks pretty good as is.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Last Night There Was a Sad Face in the Sky

Last night (or was it the night before?) we had a sad face in the sky. Shortly after sunset the crescent moon and Venus and Jupiter appeared in the sky positioned close enough together (visually, that is) to make what looked like a rather wonky upside-down sad-face. (you can click on the photos for a slightly better view.)

In Australia, however, folks saw a smiley face. And I know the reason why. In Australia it is springtime. They have a lot to smile about in Australia for the best time of the year is on the scene. Flowers are blooming. Veggies are being planted. Birds are singing. The grass needs cutting.

Here it was 19 degrees today and we're heading deeper into winter. The perennials are down for the count. Fresh veggies are to be found only at the grocery store. The birds have flown south (undoubtedly to Australia!), and a sprinkle of snow covered our driveway this morning. Winter is upon us.

This is no smiling matter! (she said with a smile)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tonight's Topic

An email buddy reminded me that I am a "petunia in the onion patch". She was commenting on my having grown up in the midst of four brothers and she maintains this contributed greatly to my (slightly quirky) personality. I like her blame of my brothers...takes the responsibility off my own shoulders. heh-heh

It is more probably, however, that genetics play the major role. I remember my paternal aunts and I've met other members of my father's family and I recognize myself in them. Genes. My conclusion is if I'm a Petunia it's because there were a lot of Petunias on my dad's side of the family. (My brothers are still onions, though!)

Seriously...today's post is not about genes, or brothers, or onions. It's about word definition. And today's word is IMPUTATION. So if you came here looking for a quilt lesson, or a post on how to make sourdough bread or kamut pancakes, forget it. Today's post is deeper than that.

I'm putting together a lesson on "imputation" for my ladies. I call them 'my ladies' for they constitute the ever-rotating class that a friend and I teach in a nearby jail. I call them 'my' because I have great affection for them. And I call them 'ladies' again because of my affection for them. My Ladies.

The class rotates. That means we have new women every week. Some are with us for only a couple sessions. Some are with us for months. So we struggle to be able to aim the study time towards both. We want to be able to present the Gospel itself as clearly as possible (Gospel/good news -- God sent Jesus to redeem the lost - Colossians 1:13). And we want to be able to present deeper truths as well. Some have some Bible background. Others have never opened a Bible and have no clue as to who is Moses? Abraham? Isaac? Jacob? Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, Paul? Do you see our dilemna in selecting a class topic?

Tonight...IMPUTATION is the topic. You can read a short definition with scriptural references with Part One here and Part Two here.

Basically, that article states this...

The Biblical doctrine of imputation is threefold.
1) The sin of Adam was imputed to all his race.
2) The sin of God's elect was imputed to Christ.
3) The righteousness of Christ is imputed to believers in Him
Romans 5:12-21; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 4:5-8

Imputation is a basic doctrine, a basic truth of the Bible. And as a basic doctrine, it is indeed understandable, even to women who are new to scripture.

That's Good News! That's the Gospel! (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) (Romans 10:13)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Our Version of "This Old House"

The farm where we grew up is ten miles from town and so on Thanksgiving my brothers, who had driven a considerable distance to be there, suggested a trip to the "old house". We gathered most of us (siblings and families) into three cars and headed to the farm, arriving at the "old house" after negotiating the long dirt driveway.

The house is falling down. It is possible to stand in any room and see blue sky through the ceiling and attic and roof. Plaster is completely missing in some corners. Holes in the floor show where some animal has housed itself underneath the structure. Swallowtails had built nests in several corners and on light fixtures.

Our children were fascinated as only children can be, moving from room to room, peering in and out of windows. There was much exclaiming and laughter.

My Mom remained in the car. Seeing the old house in this condition is depressing to her. And it would be dangerous for her to negotiate the brush and the trash underfoot.

For us, however, her five remaining children, the visits back to the "old house" allow us to jog memories. We treaded carefully through trash and debris as we moved from room to room. We remembered where the old black and white television had entertained us Saturday mornings with Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Cisco Kid, the Lone Ranger, and Lash LaRue. We looked out the window where on school mornings we had used binoculars to search for the coming of the school bus so we could be ready outside when the bus finally arrived. We know every inch of this house and memories flooded in as we checked this corner and that. We paused for a photo and later I notice that dust motes danced in the camera's flash. Someone with false spiritual understanding might view this photo and assert there were ghosts in the room. I, on the other hand, can recognize dust motes when I see them and have no such ghostly delusions. There will be no call to the Ghostbusters today! (She said with a smile.)

My brothers, who are now a bit on the 'old man' side, avidly checked every corner of the tiny bedroom they shared. There had been two sets of bunk beds in that room and later on, Grandpa's old oak roll-top desk sat in one corner. The room was an add-on and my brothers searched the broken walls and sagging ceiling to find the almost non-existent insulation that the contractor had assured us was there. (The house was heated with a two-burner oil stove in the dining room and heat seldom reached this room.) They regaled each other with stories of how cold that room was during the winter and how cold the beds were. One laughed about how he had brought a friend home from school in the dead of winter...a friend whose home was warm...and how the friend, after watching Brother jump into his ice-cold bed said, "If you can do it, so can I". Brother laughed uproariously at his friend's freezing experience and probable lack of sleep.

We looked for "family artifacts"...remembrances of our childhood...little things that we could pick up and take home. I found one Lincoln log. My brother, the Navy vet, spotted the "Travel NAVY" sticker that he had applied to the faux wood paneling above his bunk bed nearly 50 years ago. (Click on the window photo for a closer view.) He had joined the Navy fresh out of high school during the midst of the Vietnam conflict, serving on the USS Kearsarge off the coast of Vietnam. He's proud of his Navy days.

I'm proud of him and of all my siblings. And I love the members of our next generation, my daughter, my nieces and nephews. They are precious to me and I thank God for all of them.

Freedom Still Calls Pilgrims to Our Shores

Editorialist Melanie Kirkpatrick writes today about some modern "pilgrims". These "pilgrims" are students at Newcomers High School in Queens. The school boasts 850 students from 60 countries who speak 40 different languages.

The students report that they or their parents came '"seeking better lives" or "to make a better life for her children" or "pursuiting the happiness" (his spelling/grammar).

To quote from Kirkpatrick's article:
"Newcomers High School also has students who, like the Pilgrims, came to the U.S. seeking freedom of worship. A boy who says he's from Tibet notes that his family "couldn't practice the religion of the Dalai Lama" in China. An Indonesian girl, who is Christian, tells of being persecuted by Muslims in her neighborhood and fearing for her safety. An Egyptian, also a Christian, says she feared being kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam. "We wanted to close all the bad pages of memory . . . and start a new page."

Many of the students mentioned in the editorial are celebrating Thanksgiving for only the first or second time. They're newcomers to America's shores. Kirkpatrick concludes by stating that these students, so new to freedom, understand well the struggles of those who first celebrated Thanksgiving. And they, too, give thanks.

Let us not forget Freedom. And let us always give thanks.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

Thanksgiving Day, 2008
If we "give thanks", then we give it to Someone. I know that God is sovereign (he rules) over all things. And even though the world is full of things that we do not understand, I do know this...thanks is to be given to our Creator, the one who knit us together in our mother's wombs, the one who numbers the days of our lives (Psalm 139). Whether we be going through good days or bad, God holds us securely in His hands and we can gratefully acknowledge His graciousness to us.

Psalm 8:3-9

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him?
Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty!
You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet,
All sheep and oxen, And also the beasts of the field,
The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, Whatever passes through the paths of the seas.
O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth! (NASB)

Now it is time to greet the day and be ready for famished family.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Printer Ink, Lesson Plans, Sourdough Bread and Thanksgiving

Two days before Thanksgiving! Oh, man, my brain is awhirl. I've pulled out some favorite recipes and am already at work baking bread using the sourdough starter (you can read more about sourdough here!) I'm having great fun playing with making sourdough bread and rolls and I may even try pancakes...but not today.

Today I'm printing out Bible study lessons for my small group of women in a nearby facility. Since we are coming up towards Christmas their interest is piqued and after a short video tonight, we'll look at the Gospel of Luke where Gabriel presents himself to Zacharias, Mary, and Joseph. My printer is running low on black ink and so I've printed some pages in color. Normally I use the color cartridge for photos but, Alas! It's necessary today to use it for lessons.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, I'll begin cooking in earnest. The pies will be easy as I've already put together the dough for the crust. Sometimes I use the store crusts but frankly, they are yucky compared to mine. Our grandmothers used lard and some folks still do. Lard makes the very best, the very flakiest of crusts. But even though it is still available in stores, I've opted to use butter. Not Quite as flaky, but close.

My mind is awhirl. Tomorrow will be a day of cooking and baking and roasting. Thursday will be a day of family and friends.

I can hardly wait!!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Hand Quilting with a Wool Batt

I've been taking a Sabbatical of sorts from quilting. Somehow I hadn't done a lot of quilting for the past two years...too many other things in life along with lack of enthusiasm.

I've had a Hobbs wool batt in the closet for about ten years. (In the last ten years we've moved three times!) The first cold days in November I decided to get out that wool batt and use it on a twin-size shirt quilt. I've always machine-quilted my shirt quilts but somehow couldn't bring myself to remove the computer printer from atop the cabinet where my 'main quilting machine', a vintage 1950s Singer 15-91, is tucked away.

That is a strange sort of "lazy". Instead I'm hand-quilting this one. (I didn't say I had a good sense of reason!) I had heard that wool batts are very easy to needle and I must admit I believe that is true. For in spite of the high thread-count of all-cotton shirt fabrics, this hand quilting is going along very nicely. (Click on the photo for a closeup)

I thumbed through my quilt templates and decided, 'No, I don't want to do some tedious fancy quilting.' So instead, I'm using a salad plate, a bread plate and a cup to draw the circles (plus stitching again 1/4 inch from two of the circles. Nothing fancy, mind you, but I'm going to have a warm nap quilt when I am done. About July 2009 just when I need one.

Proverbs 31, Verse 22. (She quoted with a smile.)

P.S. You may think I'm crazy for quilting with cotton fabrics gleaned from slightly used men's shirt quilts. But I'm not the only one with this idea...you can read about Bonnie K. Hunter and her book, 'Scraps & Shirttails" here. Tell her I sent ya! AND! If you click here you can see my previous Shirt Quilt posts.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Take Time To Love Your Loved Ones

I recently spent time in the home of my daughter and grandson. We always like to do some project together. This visit my daughter and grandson put together a batch of dough for gingerbread cookies, and even though our decorating efforts are not 'professional' we had a great time together. (Check out his t-shirt!)

You can find a recipe here or here.

We made royal icing using powdered egg whites. The 'old' recipe used in the 'olden days' used raw egg white but it is generally recommended today not to do that due to the possibility of salmonella.

On the other hand, it would be a simple matter to make regular frosting from powdered sugar for your decorating process.

Go for it!

What Pitiable Fools We Would Be! But We Appeal to the Evidence!

Some might say (and do say) that Christians are fools. Paul said it himself...that if we are believing something that is not true, we are indeed Fools! Read what he says in First Corinthians, Chapter 15.

Verses 19 If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.

In other words, if our faith is foolish faith, if this faith is with us only in this life, and if it produces nothing beyond this life, then we are indeed to be pitied. What fools we be!

But then read the words Paul spoke next...

Vs 20-26 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.
For since by a man (Adam) came death, by a man (Jesus) also came the resurrection of the dead.
For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.
But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming,
then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power.
For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.
The last enemy that will be abolished is death.

You might think this is foolish ranting of a foolish, deluded man. Yet this 'foolish' man had many 'foolish' companions, all who saw and heard and witnessed. Go back to the first verses in the chapter...

1 Corinthians 15:3-8 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
and that (after His resurrection from the dead) He appeared to Cephas (Peter), then to the twelve.
After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep;
then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles;
and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.

I would love to sit in a courtroom where more than five hundred witnesses testify to the same evidence. The verdict would be overwhelming. Even in a case where only two or three witnesses testify to the same evidence a jury will conclude they are telling the truth. But Five Hundred! And the Twelve! It's Magnificent! It's Stupendous! And there is no foolishness in it. Thanks be to God.

My previous posts labeled Christianity can be found here!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Fluffy Stuff

I should warn you ahead of time that this is a Rant! And please be aware that I don't consider my opinion to be a necessary opinion of anyone else. <giggle>

My subject today is those Fluffy, Puffy, Poufy comforters that take the place of an old-fashioned bedspread. Comforters are supposed to be THE way to make the bedroom an attractive room in your house. One would think, by observing the bedding department in the local store, that a Real Bedroom has a bed piled high with a thick comforter, a matching afghan thrown casually across the foot of the bed, and a high stack of pillows suitable for a "Princess and the Pea" experience. (If you don't remember that bedtime story, click here to refresh your memory.)

Let's face it. This kind of a bed (comforter + afghans + pillows to high heaven) is really, really impractical. In order to get Into bed, one must remove twelve pillows and find an overnight place for them. (The little chair beside my bed will not hold twelve pillows.) During the middle of the night, One must constantly tug and pull in order to keep that Designer Comforter from sloughing off the foot of the bed. In the morning, the Maid of the House (that's generally me, but sometimes Hubby does an admirable job of filling in!) must smooth the sheets and any interleaved blankets, must tug the comforter back up to its proposed position, and then must gather twelve pillows from the chair (and the floor) and place them in a well-displayed, attractive way on the bed. The Result is that the bedroom again looks like the Bedding Department at JC Penney or Younkers or Macy's (they all look the same in spite of different brands).

Yesterday I grabbed that unappreciated comforter, folded it, tied it up, and consigned it to the stack of items for donation. Someone else will have a Department Store bedroom. Our bed will now feature an electric blanket, a couple other blankets, and a thin quilted bedspread. And the twelve decorative pillows? At our house there are actually only three (sometimes I exaggerate!) and they now enhance the guest bed.

By the way...if you have a Resident Cat, one which you pamper and love, please disregard all of the above. Resident Cats will love the poufy setup. I think there should be a Resident Cat lounging on every bed in the Store. Might sell more comforters!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Roy Rogers and Trigger Once Sold Three-Buckle Overshoes

This morning the opening webpage on the puter showed an ad for shoes from JCPenney... on sale PLUS free shipping both ways (in case they don't fit and they have to be returned). I clicked to see if they had my favorite walking shoes on sale. Nope.

However, the jog over to JCP jolted my memory and brought to mind the pair of three-buckle overshoes I wore in kindergarten. I'll tell you up front this was eons ago. Almost back in prehistoric times.

Shortly after World War II (I told you...Eons Ago!) we had just moved to an 80-acre farm in western Iowa. The land was hilly and partially tree-covered. There was a small pasture area. The cornfields were on steep slopes that drained down to a creek bottom. The house had neither electricity nor running water. (My Mom was Not Impressed with this move!)

Oh, man, this brings back memories. I could give you lots of details about this house. We left there when I was six and it amazes me how much I can remember about the two years we lived there. But the memory today was of the three-buckle overshoes that I wore to school in kindergarten.

My Boots were golden palomino colored. You know...the color of Roy Roger's horse, Trigger. Near the outside ankle each boot had a medallion-shaped picture of Roy astride Trigger.

I didn't even know who Roy Rogers was, let alone know anything about his horse, Trigger! We lived in a house with no electricity, remember? We had no television. Our radio ran on a battery and as such, it was reserved for farm news. Now and then we were allowed to listen to "Amos and Andy" or some other entertainment, but not often. I don't remember even having heard about Roy Rogers. The only movie I remember from that time was a black and white Dagwood and Blondie feature that was projected on the side of the grocery store in town one summer evening. I was clueless about cowboys and western movies.

But even though I did not know this famous cowboy, I thought these were rather cool boots. That is, until some kid spoiled that idea by commenting they were Boys' Boots. Then I felt a bit silly...Me, a Girl, wearing Boys' Boots. I had no idea I was wearing Boys' Boots. I just thought they were My Boots. I was slightly embarrassed. I relayed this bit of unhappy news to my mother who didn't acknowledge the veracity of this and told me these were my Only Boots, So Wear Them!

As I said, I was kinda embarrassed. Still...the Only Boots were kinda cool. And if I had them today they would surely be a museum piece for I'll bet that every pair in existence at the time has long since rotted away.

By the way, buckle overshoes are very efficient...they open wide to allow the pantlegs to be tucked and folded around the leg and then secured by a simple slap of the buckles. A flap under the buckle protects from water and mud and every other kind of muck. Buckle overshoes are perfect for boys who love to stomp in the mud. Every farmer knows that.

And so did Roy Rogers.

Remember...you read it here!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

One American Soldier Among So Many - Veterans Day 2008

Armistice Day is probably more strongly recognized in Europe..., more notably than here in the United States. World War I was fought on their soil, not ours, so it would be reasonable that their memory may run deeper than our own. But let's not forget that ten million Americans fought in WWI and approximately 112,000 died. Those Americans were our grandparents, our fathers, our uncles, our cousins. William Kuckku was one of those. (William was the only son of Marie who immigrated from Germany with her mother and siblings. Her father had died in an accident on the job in Germany prior to the family moving to Nebraska.)

William Henry Kuckku was born in Wisner, Nebraska, but later moved to Idaho. On June 5, 1917, in Emmett, Gem County, Idaho, William filled out a draft card. Less than a year later he died on the battlefields of France. The draft card lists him as single although he must have married shortly after for a widow is mentioned in his obituary. The following was written by a family member.

"William H. Kuckku left Emmett, Idaho, on October 18, 1917 for Camp Lewis with seven other registrants. He was in camp only four weeks when he left for overseas. William was killed in action at the battle of Cantigny May 28, 1918. The last letter his wife received from him was dated May 20. He wrote they were under shell fire. He was buried June 10, 1918 in the Commune of Grivenes (sp?), Department of the Somme, grave marked by a cross and one identification tag, the other being buried with the body."

William had no children. His sister, Alma, requested his body be returned to the small town in Nebraska where he was born. He was buried beside his parents. Our family placed a memorial brick with his name on it at the American Legion in Wakefield, Nebraska, where Alma lived at the time. William's photo is on the wall at the American Legion in Emmet, Idaho, along with photos of other Emmet residents who served in the Great War.

We remember William.

On this Veterans Day 2008 we also think of other family members who have and are still serving in the military. May God keep you all safe and in His hand.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Winter Begins

It's 23 degrees on the thermometer as I get out of bed this morning. That seems unseasonably cold for early November. Six months ago spring was beginning. Now we're headed for short days, cold nights, frost, snow, more cold. The thought squeezes the heart and I have to tell myself to "have courage". Each day brings what it brings. Cold and snow are the least of things to worry about. And so I get up and start the day. With a clean washcloth I wipe the condensation from the windows; the inside air is still humid enough that it condenses on the cold panes at night when the thermostat is turned down. Even though the windows are double-pane, they are decades old, and new ones would be better insulated. Still, they serve their function and I don't mind wiping the moisture away in an effort to protect the wood frame from water that might drip downward. It's a small defensive action against winter and as the inside air dries out it will no longer be necessary except on the coldest of nights when the condensation will then be frost instead of water. I thank God for an energy-efficient furnace and a comfortable home. And I think of my grandmother.

It's late 1898 in Lee Township, Midland County, Michigan. Elise Susanne crawls out from under heavy quilts to stir the fire which has ebbed to glowing embers during the night. Her husband has already left the small cabin to tend to livestock. The children, three boys, are still in bed, snuggled together for warmth. As she rises from the low bed her first thought is a sorrowful one; last year's baby did not live. Her hand caresses the wood trunk wherein lie little shirts and cloths. She doesn't know two more babies are already growing in her womb. Nor does she know that one, the girl-child, will die within 30 days of birth nor that the boy-child, who will be the scrawnier and weaker of the two, will live to raise his own family of six. She focuses on caring for the ones who are snuggled nearby. One of them, the youngest, whimpers in his sleep and she glances over at her sons. August at seven is stubborn and strong-willed, much like his father. Heinrich, a year younger, was named after her father. He has a quiet temperament, much like herself. Carl, not yet four, trails his brothers everywhere they go, fussing and crying when he can't keep up with them. The cabin is small and the heat of the replenished fire will soon make it cozy. There are many chores to do today. Elise must finish her spinning. Her knitting has already produced warm sweaters for the two oldest. The youngest will have to wear the one handed down from Heinrich. Her husband, too, needs new socks. She breathes a prayer for God's blessings on her small family and begins her day.

© 2008 Whitestone Under no terms are you allowed to copy this material without my permission. Please observe this copyright.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The BEST Pancakes in the World!

When my grandchildren stay overnight we often have pancakes the next morning. Pancakes made from scratch. Pancakes made from whole grain. Pancakes made from KAMUT! And I tell them (just in case they don't notice) that "Nobody makes better pancakes than Gramma!" (Somebody has to keep reminding them!) You can find my recipe for Kamut Pancakes here.

I'm posting my Secret here for all the world to see. It's the Kamut! Here's an excerpt from this website!...Kamut "is an ancient relative of modern durum wheat, two to three times the size of common wheat with 20–40% more protein, higher in lipids, amino acids, vitamins and minerals, and a "sweet" alternative for all products that now use common wheat. Nutritionally superior, it can be substituted for common wheat with great success. Kamut brand wheat has a rich, buttery flavor, and is easily digested."

Look at this photo! The hard red winter wheat is on the left and the Kamut on the right. Look at the difference in size of grain as well as color. (Remember, you can click on the photo for a closer view.)

Kamut grain and the resulting flour have a more golden hue and a flavor that is sweet and nutty. Kamut Pancakes! Ummmm! The Best! And now you, too, can make the "best pancakes in the world". And don't forget to show those grandbabies how good pancakes can be when topped with applesauce or peaches or fruit of any kind. (HINT - To make breakfast a bit easier I like to make my own 'Pancake Mixes'...simply toss all the dry ingredients for a single recipe into a baggie and toss it in the freezer. When it's time to make breakfast, just stir up the liquids, add the baggie contents, and you're ready to go.)

You can google 'Kamut' to find sources online. Or if you are a member of a food co-op, check their catalog for either the whole grain or for Kamut flour.

P.S. Kamut makes great whole-grain bread, too!