Wednesday, November 30, 2005

now that's what I call Christmas decorating ~ day 24

This guy sure had a plan for his Christmas lights.

Check it out.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Christmas Bible readings ~ day 25

On Sunday, our church handed out a daily Bible reading schedule for Advent. We are encouraged and uplifted by the message, God's continuous redemptive plan as written on the pages of the Old and New Testaments.

Another great idea is making a Jesse Tree with your children. Tulip Girl has pictures of some of the trees on her blog and The Reformed Church of America has detailed instructions on their site. There is also a devotional guide for daily family time that accompanies the project.

Daily readings:

Week of November 27th

Isaiah 40: 1-5
Isaiah 52:7-10
Isaiah 40:9-11
Genesis 3:8-15
Genesis 15:1-6
Deut. 18:15-19
Psalm 89:1-4

Week of December 4th

Isaiah 11:1-10
Zech. 6:12-13
Micah 5:2-4
Malachi 3:1-6
John 1:1-8
John 1:9-18
Mark 1:1-3

Week of December 11th

Luke 1: 5-13
Luke 1:14-17
Luke 1:18-25
Luke 1:39-45
Luke 1:46-56
Luke 1:57-66
Luke 1:67-68

Week of December 18th

Isaiah 7:10-14
Luke 1:26-35
Isaiah 9:2-7
Matthew 1:18-25
Luke 2:1-20
Matthew 2:1-2
Luke 2:21-35

Monday, November 28, 2005

Christmas in the air~ day 26

The first year our son, Sam, was married was the first year he was unable to be with us for Christmas. I was feeling rather blue and it made my day when he called. The first thing he told me was that if he closed his eyes, he could smell Christmas at our house and I knew exactly what he meant! Between the baking goodies, the live evergreens, and the cinnamon apple potpourri simmering in tiny pots placed around the house, our home does have a distinctly Christmas smell at this time of year.

I believe that there are 5 necessary ingredients involved in setting the stage for hospitality at my house and thought I would share them here. Just remember that each of the 5 senses ought to be enlivened and you will give others an experience to remember. Here are some thoughts about enticing the other senses:


The beauty of the Christmas season is simple to accomplish with tiny twinkle lights, candlelight, or a lovely tree decorated in any number of interesting ways. Our tree changes a little each year; currently I am using plastic ornaments that look like the fragile glass ones so that the little people who come to our home won't get hurt. I also like to have framed pictures of past Christmases sitting out to enjoy and bright colored chocolates add a festive touch when they fill clear jars.


So where do you begin to list the wonderful Christmas CD/s available now? I like to have a good variety of styles and intensity of Christmas music...something for every mood. I try to wait until after Thanksgiving to bring them out but it is awfully hard to do that! Today I am listening to John Denver's Rocky Mountain Christmas!


Every family has favorite recipes, especially during the holidays. Last year I collected a variety of great ones from our daughter and 2 daughters-in-law and put together a family cookbook for family and friends. To prove just how important family holiday cooking can be, let me tell this story. Just last week I talked with all three of my grown children within 24 hours of each other and each of them waxed eloquent about the virtues of mashed potatoes and turkey gravy. You know they will both be on my Christmas table!


This is the time of year to pull out all the cozy throws and blankets. Tables are especially welcoming when pretty linens are used and making cloth napkins is so easy. One yard of fabric will make 4 dinner napkins. I cut 18" squares from Christmas themed cotton fabric and machine stitch a small hem. They can be washed over and over again and each year I like to add a new pattern.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Christmas countdown ~ day 28

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose, tiny tots with their eyes all aglow....I love it all.

Today we are at day 28, the 4-weeks-'til-Christmas eve day. I have my list and am ready to go. I am listening to Best Loved Christmas Carols by the Choir of King’s College in Cambridge. The smell of cinnamon potpourri is permeating the dining room. It is brisk and cold outside and I have already lingered too long watching the cardinals and juncos at the bird feeder on the west side of the house. Joe and I stayed up late last night reveling in hot chocolate topped with real whip cream and decorating the small Christmas tree in my kitchen with copper cookie cutters and a parade of angels I made years ago. Tiny containers of sprinkles sit on the counter in anticipation of their role in sparkling up cut outs of stars and miniature trees.

Actually, I spent yesterday Christmas shopping. I got up early, put in the last load of dishes still awaiting a good scrubbing from the Thanksgiving Day stuff-your-tummy-athon. I took a shower and clean flannel jammies, Christmas ones. I brewed a piping hot cut of tea and sat down in front of the computer, armed with a list, credit card, and a reasonable budget. Since there were so many leftovers, I didn't need to think about cooking for the gang so, with only a couple interruptions, I had more than half of my Christmas shopping completed within just a few hours. No crowds, no crabby sales people, no parking space issues, no tired feet at the end of the day. It was wonderful...and not bad, considering I shop for 6 children, three spouses of said children, 6 grandchildren, my husband and my mother.

We do Christmas big at our house. I cannot say exactly why we started this tradition but we did and we love it. Perhaps it was fond memories I had when I was young, though not of my own typical Christmas day. Being an only child, I longed to have siblings to share in the delights of Christmas cheer. I also longed to escape the sad, boring Christmases with my dad's side of the family...they all wear cowboy boots and grunt (not that I have anything at all against cowboy boots but not with grunting), my uncle chews tobacco, my cousin, Roy, was once mistaken for Wayne Newton at an airport, seriously, and no one in the entire family reads...need I say more... to join the near-circus of the Hewitt family Christmas. My mother had 8 brothers and sisters. There were 36 grandchildren, though we were never all at my grandma's house at once. But there was sure to be chaos, pandemonium, and continual hubbub.

My Aunt Pearl, barely 5 feet tall, even while wearing her usual large hat, lit up the room with her smile and her laughter. My grandma's tree reached the 12 foot ceilings in her front parlor and there were presents for everyone under that enormous tree. The dining room table held cookies and candies and, of course, the Christmas ham. No Silent Night could be sung in that crowd.

So, as our own family grew, Christmas started to take on a life of its own. We started our own traditions, have our own routines. Wherever my own children may be on December 25th, they will know there is a place called "home" and that Christmas, the celebration of the grand entrance of God in the flesh, the birth of Christ our Savior, we are doing Christmas, there is plenty to eat, and the door is always open to them.

I will share some of these traditions over the next few weeks. Please comment and tell me your own experiences, things that are important to you during this most wonderful season of all.

God rest you merry, gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay,
Remember Christ our Savior
Was born on Christmas Day;
To save us all from Satan's power
When we were gone astray.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy!

From God our heavenly Father
A blessed angel came;
And unto certain shepherds
Brought tiding of the same;
How that in Bethlehem was born
The Son of God by name.

"Fear not, then," said the angel,
"Let nothing you affright;
This day is born a Savior
Of a pure virgin bright,
To free all those who trust in him
From Satan's power and might.

Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace;
this holy tide of Christmas
Doth bring redeeming grace.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy!"

Friday, November 25, 2005

blogs of beauty award

My friend, Sallie, at Two-Talent Living is sponsoring a "Blogs of Beauty" Award and I must say this is a fantastic idea! To read more about it and to place your nomination, go here. Here are the categories:

Best Biblical Exhortation
Does the best job of bringing biblical truth and exhorting others to walk closely with the Lord Jesus. (Blog does not have to be exclusively a theological blog.)

Best Design - Contemporary
The most beautiful blog of a contemporary design.

Best Design - Traditional
The most beautiful blog of a non-contemporary design.

Best Discussion
Has the best discussions in the comments sections.

Best Encourager
Has the most encouraging blog content.

Best Frugality
Has the best content regarding frugality. (Blog does not have to be exclusively about frugality).

Best Homemaking
Has the best content regarding homemaking. (Blog does not have to be exclusively about homemaking.)

Best Homeschooling
Has the best content regarding homeschooling. (Blog does not have to be exclusively about homeschooling.)

Best Humor
Has the best humor.

Best Meet for a Mocha
The blogger you have never met and would most like to meet in person for a mocha.

Best Motherhood
Has the best content about being a mommy. (Blog does not have to be exclusively about motherhood.)

Best Quiet Spirit
Demonstrates a beautiful, quiet spirit through her blog entries.

Best Recipes
Has the best recipes. (Blog does not have to be exclusively about cooking.)

Best Variety
Has the most enjoyable variety of content.

"monstrous" woman of the week

Welcome to the eighth in a series of biographical sketches that I plan to publish on Fridays. The title of “monstrous” has been given to these women as a rebuke to those who have labeled all women who do not follow their agenda for women as “monstrous.”

These entries will briefly tell about women I believe have done many things to further the cause of Christ in America, and some even around the world, and have maintained a godly femininity while doing so. They will be women whose choices in life have also disqualified them from being given the godly woman status in some of today’s hyper-patriarchal circles, though the hypocrisy certainly has escaped some of these list keepers! Hence, the title of “monstrous” has been given to these women as a rebuke to those who have labeled all women who do not follow their stifling agenda for women as “monstrous.”

Grab a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy! Oh, and feel free to emulate.

This week's "monstrous" woman is really an entire regiment of women, over 100,000 of them, as a matter of fact. This week I am featuring The Harvey Girls, the women who settled the western United States through humble acts of service and kindness to the weary train travelers on the Santa Fe Railroad, women who brought civilization to a pagan, godless environment that was, prior to their arrival, inhabited primarily by men and loose women.

During the mid to late 1800's, rail travel to the Southwest and Great Plains was a common, though uncomfortable, way of life for those who wanted to be part of the Great Westward Expansion. The transcontinental railway was completed in 1869, thus opening the doors of opportunity to many who had previously been unable to travel west.

British entrepreneur and restaurateur Fred Harvey set out to accommodate the dining needs of these train travelers by establishing the first chain restaurants called Harvey Houses. Having traveled by train only to find the purchased meals contained rancid food that caused severe illness to travelers, Harvey brought the fine dining of Europe to both the exhausted train traveler and the hungry cowboy.

Eventually located in train stations from Chicago to California, the Harvey Houses were destined to failure until Fred Harvey placed ads in city newspapers looking for young women who would be willing to work as waitresses. Initially, Harvey had employed men as waiters but they often spent their time drinking, gambling and picking fights, even during working hours. Harvey realized that the secret to taming the wild west would be not only linen tablecloths and fine china but gentile women whose very presence would influence both the restaurant atmosphere and the general environment of the small towns popping up everywhere west of the Mississippi.

So Harvey began hiring young ladies who could meet his requirements. Fred Harvey wanted no “saloon” women; Fred Harvey was looking for virtuous, wholesome, high-minded young ladies who would be willing to work hard and live in chaperoned dormitories. Not only were their uniforms to be clean, starched, and perfectly fitted, but the duties of a Harvey Girl were clearly defined and slackers would soon be heading home with one way tickets.

The entire dining experience at a Harvey House was a pleasant one. Ten minutes before the arrival of a train, a wire would be sent to the Harvey House, alerting the staff. Tall pitchers of ice water were placed at each table along with fresh salads. Steaks were grilled and pies were cut into the standard servings of 4 slices per pie! Fresh coffee was made and any unused portion left at the end of one train stop was thrown out. Second servings were always available for no additional charge. And all of this was done by the hands of lovely young women who were there to serve others!

In exchange for their hard work, the Harvey Girls made a good salary and were given free lodging, train travel where ever they wanted to go, all their uniforms, a laundry service, and all their meals. Many of them sent home every penny they made to help support their parents and siblings. Others worked as Harvey Girls and saved money to put themselves through college.

Stepping off the train platform in Dodge City, the Harvey Girls might encounter the stench of 200,000 rotting buffalo hides piled in a city street. At other stops there were threats of Indian uprisings or the unbearable heat of the dessert. These young ladies were not only sturdy and determined, but because they had to meet the stringent requirements for wearing the Harvey uniform, were young ladies who had a vision for service and, perhaps, a greater vision for their part in setting up households in those small towns.

Many Harvey Girls were courted by and married ranchers and cowboys. As they joined the communities, they also were instrumental in seeing that schools were established. Because many of them were Christians, churches were soon built in small towns, circuit riding preachers came, and the Gospel was procalimed in areas previously unreached! These women brought a sense of propriety to their neighborhoods and to this day many towns and cities have Harvey Girls as “founding mothers” in their town histories.

During World War II, the Harvey restaurants were turned into way stations for troop trains and the Harvey Girls often served 4 meals a day, 100’s of men at each meal. The Harvey Girls had no small part in the war effort; during 1943 alone, more than 1 million meals were served each month to servicemen in Harvey Houses across the U.S.

Though riding trains, for the most part, was replaced by car and air travel, thus bringing an end to the Harvey House chain, the mark of these incredible women will forever be written on the landscape of the old west.

For more reading about The Harvey Girls, I would recommend the book The Harvey Girls, Women Who Opened the West by Lesley Poling-Kempes.

grandbaby photo of the week

friday's quotes of the week

Heard, read, or said by me this week:

"I LOVE pecan pie."

son to mom

"I Really LOVE pecan pie."

son to mom

"I don't think I had ever really eaten pecan pie before today but I LOVE it."

son to mom

"Many people have compared human history to a tapestry. Every person you know is one thread of that tapestry and they weave in and out of your life in small or large ways as they each become a part of who you are."

son in English paper

" all of this is to say, please do carefully consider that there are many different Christian women in many different circumstances who come to your blog. Biblical Womanhood encompasses so much and will look different in many lives. You do have a wonderful opportunity with your blog, but also a tremendous responsibility that you will answer for someday. As a fellow writer and blogger I know this very well. In fact, for a few years I stopped writing for publication because the weight of the responsibility was so heavy on my heart. We who write do teach and will be held accountable."

wise blogger to fellow blogger

"Long ago (down on my knees)
Long ago (I setted it all)
Yes, the old account was settled long ago; (Hallelujah!)
And the record's clear today,
For He washed my sins away,
When the old account was settled long ago.
There was a time on earth,
When in the book of Heav'n
An old account was standing
For sins yet unforgiv'n;
My name was at the top,
And many things below,
I went unto the keeper,
And settled long ago.

Long ago (down on my knees)
Long ago (I setted it all)
Yes, the old account was settled long ago; (Hallelujah!)
And the record's clear today,
For He washed my sins away,
When the old account was settled long ago.
The old account was large,
And growing ev'ry day,
For I was always sinning,
And never tried to pay;
But When I looked ahead,
And saw such pain and woe,
I said that I would settle,
I settled long ago.

Long ago (down on my knees)
Long ago (I setted it all)
Yes, the old account was settled long ago; (Hallelujah!)
And the record's clear today,
For He washed my sins away,
When the old account was settled long ago.
When in that happy home,
My Saviour's home above,
I'll sing redemption's story,
And praise Him for His love;
I'll not forget that book,
With pages white as snow,
Because I came and settled,
And settled long ago.

Long ago (down on my knees)
Long ago (I setted it all)
Yes, the old account was settled long ago; (Hallelujah!)
And the record's clear today,
For He washed my sins away,
When the old account was settled long ago."

Johnny Cash in At San Quentin

"Did I mention that I LOVE pecan pie?"

son to mom

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

random thoughts on thanksgiving

The Mayflower Compact
November 18, 1620

"In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord, King James, by the Grace of God, of England, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, etc.

Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia; do by these presents, solemnly and mutually in the Presence of God and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid; And by Virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the General good of the Colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.

In Witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape Cod the eleventh of November, in the Reign of our Sovereign Lord, King James of England, France and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Domini, 1620."

The First Thanksgiving Proclamation
June 20, 1676

"The Holy God having by a long and Continual Series of his Afflictive dispensations in and by the present War with the Heathen Natives of this land, written and brought to pass bitter things against his own Covenant people in this wilderness, yet so that we evidently discern that in the midst of his judgments he hath remembered mercy, having remembered his Footstool in the day of his sore displeasure against us for our sins, with many singular Intimations of his Fatherly Compassion, and regard; reserving many of our Towns from Desolation Threatened, and attempted by the Enemy, and giving us especially of late with many of our Confederates many signal Advantages against them, without such Disadvantage to ourselves as formerly we have been sensible of, if it be the Lord's mercy that we are not consumed, It certainly bespeaks our positive Thankfulness, when our Enemies are in any measure disappointed or destroyed; and fearing the Lord should take notice under so many Intimations of his returning mercy, we should be found an Insensible people, as not standing before Him with Thanksgiving, as well as lading him with our Complaints in the time of pressing Afflictions:

The Council has thought meet to appoint and set apart the 29th day of this instant June, as a day of Solemn Thanksgiving and praise to God for such his Goodness and Favour, many Particulars of which mercy might be Instanced, but we doubt not those who are sensible of God's Afflictions, have been as diligent to espy him returning to us; and that the Lord may behold us as a People offering Praise and thereby glorifying Him; the Council doth commend it to the Respective Ministers, Elders and people of this Jurisdiction; Solemnly and seriously to keep the same Beseeching that being persuaded by the mercies of God we may all, even this whole people offer up our bodies and souls as a living and acceptable Service unto God by Jesus Christ."

This is the day I traditionally prepare for the annual Thanksgiving Day feast. This year we will be entertaining only our three sons who are still at home and my mother but I have every intention of making the feast nonetheless. Here is the menu for the day:

Prairie Roasted Turkey
Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Turkey Gravy
Great-Grandmama's Stuffing
Scalloped Corn with Peppers
Vintage Green Bean Casserole
Cranberry Sauce
Relish Tray
Pumpkin and Pecan Pies with Whipped Cream

The secret to perfect turkey and stuffing is in the amount of moisture that you add to both. I rinse and clean the turkey, using the neck for the broth in the stuffing. After rinsing the bird's cavity, I stuff it with 2 oranges, peeled and quartered, 2 sticks of butter, 1 large onion, quartered, and 1/2 cup of minced garlic. I will baste the turkey several times during baking to keep it moist.

The moisture in the stuffing is crucial, as I learned from my grandmother, who often used a dozen beaten eggs when she prepared dressing. After I saute onions, celery, and garlic in butter, I toss it with the bread crumbs. They I pour in enough broth to make the mixture very soggy. When you think you have added enough broth, add more. Bake and serve. You will not be disappointed.

The Corn Song
by John Greenleaf Whittier

Heap high the farmer's wintry hoard!
Heap high the golden corn!
No richer gift has Autumn poured
From out her lavish horn!

Let other lands, exulting, glean
The apple from the pine,
The orange from its glossy green,
The cluster from the vine;

We better love the hardy gift
Our rugged vales bestow,
To cheer us when the storm shall drift
Our harvest-fields with snow.

Through vales of grass and meads of flowers
Our plows their furrows made,
While on the hills the sun and showers
Of changeful April played.

We dropped the seed o'er hill and plain,
Beneath the sun of May,
And frightened from our sprouting grain
The robber crows away.

All through the long, bright days of June
Its leaves grew green and
fair, And waved in hot midsummer's noon
Its soft and yellow hair.

And now, with Autumn's moonlit eves,
Its harvest-time has come;
We pluck away the frosted leaves,
And bear the treasure home.

Then shame on all the proud and vain
Whose folly laughs to scorn
The blessing of our hardy grain,
Our wealth of golden corn!

Let earth withhold her goodly root,
Let mildew blight the rye,
Give to the worm the orchard's fruit,
The wheat-field to the fly;

But let the good old crop adorn
The hills our fathers trod;
Still let us, for his golden corn,
Send up our thanks to God!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Natural Woman Day

Happy Natural Woman Day to all.

Friday, November 18, 2005

"monstrous" woman of the week

Welcome to the seventh in a series of biographical sketches that I plan to publish on Fridays. The title of “monstrous” has been given to these women as a rebuke to those who have labeled all women who do not follow their agenda for women as “monstrous.”

These entries will briefly tell about women I believe have done many things to further the cause of Christ in America, and some even around the world, and have maintained a godly femininity while doing so. They will be women whose choices in life have also disqualified them from being given the godly woman status in some of today’s hyper-patriarchal circles, though the hypocrisy certainly has escaped some of these list keepers! Hence, the title of “monstrous” has been given to these women as a rebuke to those who have labeled all women who do not follow their stifling agenda for women as “monstrous.”

Grab a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy! Oh, and feel free to emulate.

This week’s “monstrous” woman is Rosa Parks. Known as the mother of the modern civil rights movement, her story is one of inspiration and encouragement for all those who face oppression and discrimination today. It is also a testimony to God's grace in the life of one person who sought to make a difference within the culture she was given.

Born Rosa McCauley in Tuskegee, Ala., on Feb. 4, 1913, the daughter of a carpenter and a teacher, Rosa attended rural schools until she was 11 and then attended Miss White’s School for Girls in Montgomery where she was trained in the skills necessary to be a domestic. Later she dropped out of high school to care for an ailing grandmother and did not graduate until she was 21.

In the early 1950s Rosa Parks found work as a tailor's assistant at a department store, Montgomery Fair. She also had a part-time job as a seamstress for Virginia and Clifford Durr, a white liberal couple; they encouraged Rosa Parks in her civil rights work.

The segregated seating policies on public buses had long been a source of resentment within the black community in Montgomery and in other cities throughout the Deep South. African Americans were required to pay their fares at the front of the bus and then to get off and then come back on through the back door. The white bus drivers, who had been given police powers, frequently harassed blacks, sometimes driving away before African American passengers were able to get back on the bus. During peak hours, the drivers pushed back the boundary markers that segregated the bus, crowding those in the “colored section” to provide more whites with seats.

On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks took her seat in the front of the “colored section” of a Montgomery bus. The driver asked Rosa Parks and three other black riders to relinquish their seats to whites, but Rosa Parks refused even when the other three gave up their seats. The driver called the police, and Rosa Parks was arrested. She was released later that night on a $100 bond.

On Sunday, Dec. 4, the announcements were made from the pulpits of black churches and in the black newspaper, The Montgomery Advertiser, that the city buses would be boycotted. Some road in carpools, other took taxis owned by black drivers who only charged the bus fare. However, 40,000 black commuters walked, some over 20 miles to their jobs. The boycott lasted 381 days and during that time blacks were harassed and physically abused. But their tactics worked and segregation of public transportation was brought to an end. Rosa Parks, commenting on the day she rode the bus, said “I didn’t get on the bus to get arrested. I got on the bus to go home.”

There is another side to this story, however, according to Doug Patton, whose columns can be found at The Conservative Voice. Rosa Parks' faith in Christ was the driving force behind her actions.

“It is unfortunate that few in this generation who honor Rosa Parks know about the spiritual dimension of her long life, because it was Christ who was the guiding light of her years on this earth.

"As a child," she wrote in 1994, "I learned from the Bible to trust in God and not be afraid. I felt the Lord would give me the strength to endure whatever I had to face."

Once, knowing that her presence would overshadow a lesser known author at a joint book signing, Mrs. Parks requested that her colleague switch seats with her so that the public would talk to him first. That kind of humility cannot be conjured from a human heart devoid of God's influence.

When civil rights icon Rosa Parks died last week at age 92, she passed into history as a woman who stood up for what she believed in and refused to back down at a pivotal point in our country's evolution toward racial equality. Her one act of defiance was a catalyst that sparked a movement and brought about unprecedented changes in our nation.

Upon her passing, her body lay in state in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol for the public to pay their respects, an honor normally reserved for presidents and Supreme Court justices. Before she could even be laid to rest, a bill had been introduced in both houses of Congress to erect a monument to her in the Capitol's Statuary Hall. Every politician and news commentator spoke of her with a reverence akin to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Pope John Paul II.

Ironically, hardly a word was said about the true impetus behind her actions on December 1, 1955.

Yes, she was exhausted that day. Yes, she chose not to give up her seat, knowing fully well that she might be arrested. But by her own admission, she would never have had the courage to remain seated had it not been for her unwavering faith in God.

This is more than just an historical footnote, and it is not just a case of tangential nitpicking. She understood that her faith and her God were greater than the white man who wanted her to move to the back of the bus, greater than the Montgomery police, the mayor, Jim Crow, the whole structure of institutional racism and oppression….Rosa Parks has passed into history. More important, she would have told you, her spirit has passed into eternity with Jesus Christ. “

friday's quotes of the week

Heard, read, or said by me this week:

“So if the difference between Christian faith and all other forms of spirituality is that Christian faith offers a relational dynamic with God, why are we cloaking this relational dynamic in formulas? Are we jealous of the Mormons? And are the formulas getting us anywhere? Are modern forms of Christian spirituality producing better Christians than days long ago, when people didn’t use formulas and understood, intrinsically, that God is a Being with a personality and a will of His own? Martin Luther didn’t believe in formulas, and neither did John Calvin. Were they missing something or are we?...

The truth is there are a million steps, and we don’t even know what the steps are, and worse, at any given moment we may not be willing or even able to take them; and still worse, they are different for you and me and they are always changing. I have come to believe the sooner we find this truth beautiful, the sooner we will fall in love with the God who keeps shaking things up, keeps changing the path, keeps rocking the boat to test our faith in Him, teaching us to not rely on easy answers, bullet points, magic mantras, or genies in lamps, but rather in his guidance, His existence, His mercy, and His love.”

Don Miller in Searching for God Who Knows What

"The greatness of God is a glorious and unsearchable mystery, "For the Lord most high is terrible; He is a great king over all the earth.' (Psalm 47:2) The condescension of the most high God to men is also a profound mystery. 'Though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly." (Psalm 138:6). But when both these meet together, as they do in this Scripture, they make up a matchless mystery. Here we find the most high God performing all things for a poor distressed creature.It is the great support and solace of the saints in all the distresses that befall them here, that there is a wise Spirit sitting in all the wheels of motion, and governing the most eccentric creatures and their most pernicious designs to blessed and happy issues. And, indeed, it were not worth while to live in a world devoid of God and Providence."

Jon Flavel in The Mystery of Providence

"History is a tangled skein that one may take up at any point, and break when one has unraveled enough."

Henry Adams

"History selects its heroes and its villains, and few of us resist patricipation either at the parade of at teh guillotine."

William F. Buckley Jr.

grandbaby photo of the week

Thursday, November 17, 2005

more than frost is on the pumpkin

Our first dusting of snow came yesterday in the early twilight hours; we woke to more than frost on our fall pumpkins. I guess this means we must roll up the umbrellas and place them in their storage boxes for a winter's rest. Sigh...

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

mo leverett

My son, Ben, has reintroduced me to blues music. I have always been a Motown sort of gal so I am enjoying all the greats who influenced the Temptations, The Supremes, Aretha, etc. After Katrina hit New Orleans, I came across an article about Mo Leverett and Desire Street Ministries and remembered that I had heard Mo in concert a few years back at a PCA Mercy Ministries Conference. I googled them and ended up ordering several CD's. Their ministry to inner city families is amazing, even more so since the hurricane, and purchasing music directly from them helps to support their efforts.

Their website says this about Desire Street Ministries:

In New Orleans, down the river from the old French quarter there is a part of town that is infamous for it's poverty and neglect. Nestled in this historically diminished area is a housing project that has been ranked the worst in the United States.

Reverend Mo Leverett founded Desire Street Ministries in 1990 in order to minister to the youth in and around the Desire Housing Project. DSM's mission is to revitalize the Desire neighborhood through spiritual and community development. Now in its second decade of serving this neighborhood, DSM is seeing true transformation take place, and your investment in this work would encourage and sustain what God is doing in New Orleans.

Mo's music is awesome. His voice, a deep raspy sound reminiscent of Joe Cocker and Van Morrison, is accompained by mournful soul sounds from his backup singers, the vintage accordian, and that 70's organ the Motor City guys loved. His love for the Lord, his wife and children, for the people under his ministry, and Louisiana is inspirational. The Cajun seasoning is sprinkled through each song and the message is clear, poignant and God with your whole heart and your neighbor as yourself. And when Mo talks about loving your neighbor, he means to do so in word and deed! Mo sings about relationships and it is more than refreshing.

Lyrics of A Day is Like a Thousand Years
by Mo Leverett from The Sacrament of Life

I wish your eyes had seen my little first born man
Half a pound of legacy within my hand
Little feet, little heart, little ears,
You know with God a day is like a thousand years.

In his mother's womb he was stitched and hemmed
For the love of Jesus his little light was dimmed
But he was warm, he was loved, in a wolrd of fear
You know with God a day is like a thousand years.

His sould flew home on the wings of angel's prayers
to a place where children come with children's cares.
Though I cried when he died, the angels cheered
You know with God a day is like a thousand years.

My wife and I held him in our arms that day
for a fleeting moment before we gave hims away
WAs it wrong to have longed to keep him here?
You know with God a day is like a thousand years.

Lindsay & Lacey & Maggie girls
Your little borther Mo is in a different world
But he would say it's okay, you save those tears
You know with God a day is like a thousand years.

Lyrics from Cajun Queen
by Mo Leverett from The Sacrament of Life

Little lady from New Orleans
Finest thing I ever had seen
She's the woman of my wildest dreams
She's my very own Cajun queen.

We got a crib in the old 9th ward
The kinda woman that I can afford
She got her lover, she got her Lord
She's my very own Cajun queen.

I love to see her in the morning sun
But when the evening sky has come
She's more dangerous than a loaded gun
She's my very own Cajun queen.

She's fine and feminine to the core
I see her shimmying across my floor
She got more tools than the hardware store
She's my very own Cajun queen.

To listen to tracks from Mo's albumns and to order CD's, go to Justice Road productions.

tortilla soup

When I was only 15, I spent two weeks in Mexico City on a study tour. I can still remember the sights and sounds and especially the taste of authentic Mexican cuisine. Last weekend I decided to experiment with my own recipe for Tortilla Soup and here it is. Ole!

Tortilla Soup

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 cans chicken broth or 6 cups homemade chicken broth
1 can black beans, drained well
1 can diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
2 TBS. minced garlic
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. basil
2 tsp. salt
12 6" corn tortillas
1 pound shredded sharp cheddar or monterey jack cheese

Cut tortillas into thin strips and place on greased or oiled cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Turn oven off and allow to cool. Cook chicken breasts and cut into cubes. Set aside. In oil, saute onion and garlic until translucent. Add tomatoes, beans, garlic, spices, broth, and chicken. Simmer for 15 minutes. In serving bowl, place 1/2 cup. cheese. Ladle soup over cheese and top with tortilla strips. Makes 8 servings. Enjoy!

Friday, November 11, 2005

"monstrous" woman of the week

Welcome to the sixth in a series of biographical sketches that I plan to publish on Fridays. The title of “monstrous” has been given to these women as a rebuke to those who have labeled all women who do not follow their agenda for women as “monstrous.”

These entries will briefly tell about women I believe have done many things to further the cause of Christ in America, and some even around the world, and have maintained a godly femininity while doing so. They will be women whose choices in life have also disqualified them from being given the godly woman status in some of today’s hyper-patriarchal circles, though the hypocrisy certainly has escaped some of these list keepers! Hence, the title of “monstrous” has been given to these women as a rebuke to those who have labeled all women who do not follow their stifling agenda for women as “monstrous.”

Grab a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy! Oh, and feel free to emulate.

This week's "monstrous" woman of the week is Florence Nightingale, Italian nurse and standard bearer for modern nursing practices. Her influence worldwide in the area of health care is a testimony to God's grace in her life.

Florence was born in Florence, Italy on May 12, 1820. Although Italian born, she grew up in London, England where her education included the study of Greek, Latin, German, French and Italian. Her father taught her history and philosophy while her governess schooled her in music and drawing. As part of an upper class family, Nightingale and her sister were expected to grow up as proper ladies who would "devote themselves to their family, husband, society, entertainment and cultural pursuits" (Bullough, 1993).

But Florence was driven by a different dream. She believed that her attraction to nursing was God's will, or "a calling," and because of that she made many personal sacrifices to pursue her professional life with intensity.

Her family disapproved of her decision to take up the nursing profession, which was seen in her day as a vocation for lower classes, one carried out under harsh conditions in dirty hospital environments. The family's disappointment did not deter her from her goal, and at the age of 33, having studied nursing for nine years, Florence began caring for the sick.

In 1853, she was asked to work at the Harley Street Nursing Home. There, she made improvements that included better organization and training for the staff, and she implemented a system that piped hot water to every floor. She also created a lift to bring patients their meals (Falkus, 1980).

The Crimean War began and the British army was unprepared to accommodate British battle injuries and casualties in Crimea. This led to disasters such as cholera, lack of supplies, and inadequate sanitation. British Secretary of War, Sidney Herbert asked Nightingale to take nurses and help the hospital in Scoter, Turkey. On October 21, 1854 she set out for the hospital with the 38 nurses she had trained.

Entering the hospital, Florence was appalled and horrified by what she saw. Wounded soldiers lay on straw mats that lined the room like coffins waiting for burial. The floor was covered with dirt and blood. There were no hospital gowns: the men still wore their uniforms. As Nightingale passed them, each soldier tried to act stern and tough, but their boyish faces betrayed unmistakable pain. Those who were able to conquer their convulsions lay still, as if dead.

The first change Florence made was scrubbing all the injured men's clothes. Then, she spent her own money buying bandages, operating tables and other basic necessities for the hospital. Her nurses cleaned the whole hospital so there were no more germs and this helped to stop contamination and spread of disease. She is a hero because she changed the hospital and saved lives with her determination and hard work.

Florence Nightingale also changed the profession of nursing forever. Nursing was once an occupation with little respect: people didn't think you needed any special training or skills to do it, and most nurses were poor and uneducated. It was very unusual for Florence, who came from the upper class, to work in a hospital. The hospital conditions were more sanitary after she reorganized everything. Funds and donations flooded into hospitals and the patients received better care. Hospitals around the world were changed forever, and caring for the sick became an honorable profession.

The state of the hospital in Turkey was horrendous but even more challenging was the hostile attitude the nurses received from the doctors. Many did not even allow nurses inside the wards! It wasn't until the Battle of Inkerman, during which the British suffered many casualties and the hospitals became overcrowded that the doctors were forced to ask for help.

Florence sent reports back to London about ways to improve conditions and assumed care of the patients at night, moving about each floor comforting patients with a lamp in hand. This intimate relationship with her patients earned her the affectionate title of "Lady with the Lamp."

Through selfless devotion and sheer determination, Florence Nightingale transformed the profession of nursing forever. She gave dignity and honor to what continues to be a female-dominated profession and revolutionized hospital conditions, making them more organized and above all, sanitary. Largely because of her efforts, funds and donations flood into hospitals, allowing patients around the world to receive better care.

I solemnly pledge myself before God and in the presence of this assembly, to pass my life in purity and to practice my profession faithfully. I will abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous, and will not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug. I will do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard of my profession, and will hold in confidence all personal matters committed to my keeping and all family affairs coming to my knowledge in the practice of my calling. With loyalty will I endeavor to aid the physician, in his work, and devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care.
The Florence Nightingale Oath

friday's quotes of the week

Heard, read, or said by me this week:

"When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it happened or not."

Mark Twain

"A human life is a story told by God and in the best stories told by humans, we come closer to God."

Hans Christian Anderson

"The trail is the thing, not the end of the trail. Travel too fast and you miss all you are traveling for."

Louis L'Amour

"Look, Grandma, I hurt my finger."
"Oh, Henry, I am sorry. Can I fix it?"
"Yes, I need a cookie."

Henry and Grandma

"I would never insist that women have to have children to be fully female. Some women aren't mother material and some men don't deserve the children they sire. But something vital and poignant happens when one's own interests become secondary to the more compelling needs of children."

Kathleen Parker

"I lay there under the stars and thought of what a great responsibility it is to be human. I am a human because God made me. I experience suffering and temptation because mankind chose to follow Satan. God is reaching out to me to rescue me. I am learning to trust Him, learning to live by His precepts that I might be preserved."

Don Miller in Blue Like Jazz

grandbaby photo of the week

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

november on the prairie

Eleven asparagus ferns took up residence inside today, their airy coolness out of place in a house preparing for Thanksgiving. The wind has picked up and the temperature is dropping. My cat hurries past me; he thinks the leaves are stalking him and his fur stands on end. I can taste winter coming and it tastes fresh and bitter.

A long time ago I read about the concept of "connectors", those moments in time that take you back to an experience that was either good or bad. This morning the air outside smelled like Germany; it tasted like the day my oldest son was born, a day when powdered sugar snow was sprinkled on the grayness of a mountain morning. It was a nice thought, a memory of a time when I was young and had my own babies, when I was still in the spring of my life.

My son-in-law introduced me to an author who was new to both of us and it has been like meeting a new friend, so personal and reflective are his words. He says we should picture our lives like a book and ask ourselves where our bookmark is today. (I think I am somewhere in August.) At any rate, it has caused me to think alot about how I am spending my life and where I want to be through the fall and winter months that are still coming. It is making me evaluate June and July, to be honest.

Here is another nice prairie poem:

Four Kinds of Lilacs
by Leo Dangel
in Home from the Field

"Why don't you turn at the next corner,"
she said, "and take another road home.
Let's go past that farm with all
the different colored lilacs."

"That's seven miles out of the way,"
he said. "I wanted to plant the rest
of the corn before evening. We
can look at lilacs some other time."

"It'll take only a few minutes,"
she said. "You know that lilacs
aren't in bloom for long...if we
don't go know, it will be too late."

"We drove past there last year,"
he said. "They're like any other lilacs
except for the different colors. The rest
of the year, they're all just bushes."

"They're lilac, purple, white, and pink,"
she said. "And today, with no breeze,
the scent will hang in the flowers
smell as good as lilacs in the spring."

"I thought of planting lilacs once,"
he said, "for a windbreak in the grove.
The good smell lasts only a few days.
I suppose we can go, if we hurry."

Monday, November 07, 2005

manna on monday

from my pastor:

"We do not obey God in order to secure our salvation....we obey God because we are secure in our salvation."

Friday, November 04, 2005

"monstrous" woman of the week

Welcome to the fifth in a series of biographical sketches that I plan to publish on Fridays.

These entries will briefly tell about women I believe have done many things to further the cause of Christ in America, and some even around the world, and have maintained a godly femininity while doing so. They will be women whose choices in life have also disqualified them from being given the godly woman status in some of today’s hyper-patriarchal circles, though the hypocrisy certainly has escaped some of these list keepers! Grab a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy! Oh, and feel free to emulate.

This week I am featuring Gladys Alward, missionary and defender of the women and children in China. The following biography is used by permission from, a great resource for anyone who is interested in God's working out of His plan throughout the ages.

"My heart is full of praise that one so insignificant, uneducated, and ordinary in every way could be used to His glory for the blessing of His people in poor persecuted China."
Gladys Alward

Gladys Alward was born in London in February of 1902 in a working class family. She entered the work force at age 14 as a parlor maid, otherwise know as a house servant. It included heavy chores, long hours, and low pay. Gladys had been going to church off and on in her life. She was familiar with the message but had no personal relationship with God. One night a stranger confronted her and asked about her spiritual need which convinced her to go see the pastor. She talked with the pastor’s wife and was saved.

Gladys' life was changed after she was converted. She dreamed of going to another country and sharing about Jesus as a missionary. This led her to the China Inland Mission. She enrolled but failed.

She worked at other jobs and saved money. One day she heard of a 73 year old missionary, Mrs. Larson, who needed a young assistant to help her in China. So with all the money she had saved, she bought a train ticket on the Trans-Siberian railway. Finally on October 15th, 1932, Gladys said goodbye to her friends and family and set out for China. She went across England and Europe without any troubles. But eastern Russia was a dangerous war zone as it struggled to take advantage of China. When she wasn’t allowed to go any farther on the train, she got off and walked in the snow to the nearest station. Her passport was stolen from her. Because of these prroblems she was forced to take a boat to Japan and then to China. From there she rode a train, a bus, and a mule to get to the city of Yangchen. She only could have gotten there with the help of God

With not much of a welcome party Gladys started missionary work at an inn for muleteers. At the inn was Mrs. Larson and Yang, a Chinese Christian, the cook. The inn would give shelter for the mules and a place for the muleteers to eat and sleep. While the muleteers would eat, Mrs. Larson and Gladys would tell them Bible stories. But because Gladys was a foreigner she was not easily trusted.

Gladys was slowly but surely learning the language. But only 8 months after she arrived, Mrs. Larson became sick and died. Now Gladys had no way of getting any income. A few weeks later, the Mandarin of Yangchen came and asked Gladys to become the official foot inspector. This job was to go around and tell people that binding girl’s feet was illegal and then to unbound them. The Mandarin needed someone with big unbound feet. Gladys accepted knowing that she could spread the gospel more.

So she went visiting houses and revisiting houses again to check on the girls and people started to get to know her. Two years after she went to China the Mandarin asked Gladys to stop a riot in the prison. Depending only on God, Gladys walked into the prison. The men were killing each other and it was a bloody mess. Gladys commanded them to stop and tell her what was wrong. They were tired of being cooped up and needed food and work. From then on Gladys was known as “Ai-weh-deh” which means “Virtuous one.”

Once she saw a beggar on the road with a very sick child beside her. She bought this child for nine pence, for which she was later called. She fed her and adopted her. Her family grew. One day Ninepence brought in a boy saying that she would eat less in order to keep this boy, later naming him Less. In 1936 Gladys became a Chinese citizen and continued dressing like the people around her.

In 1938, the war happened between Japan and China which later resulted in WWII. Japan was invading China. Japan started dropping bombs on Yengchen. All the people escaped into the mountains and the Japanese came into the city. Then the Nationalist army drove them out and the people settled back into regular life until more bombs were dropped on Yangchen and the whole thing would start over again. But by now Gladys had a ransom on her head - dead or alive. She was doing a little spying on the Japanese.

Gladys had about 100 orphans that she felt needed to go to a safer city. Gladys with 100 children trekked for 12 days toward the city of Sian to an orphanage. On the 12th day she was at the yellow river with no way to get across. She and the children prayed and sang to God. A Chinese officer on patrol heard them and took them across. Finally safe in Sian, Gladys collapsed with Typhoid and delirium for a couple of days.

Once Gladys got better she resumed ministering in the new region to lepers, prisoners, and she also started a church. Gladys was still very weak and ill and never quite regained her strength. In 1949, after nearly 20 years in China, she finally went home to England. There she received lots of publicity and even dined with Queen Elizabeth. She stayed in London for 10 years because China had closed its doors because of Communism. She wasn’t comfortable in England. When she went back, she went to Hong Kong and Formosa and opened orphanages and ministered to people there until her death in China in 1970. She was 68.

Gladys was a very faithful missionary and although experienced lots of troubles, she kept her faith and hope in God. In the world’s eyes, she may not have done very much, but she helped many “small” people and did without so that many could know the richness that comes from God. The world would be a better place if there were more people like the "insignificant, uneducated, and ordinary" Gladys Aylward.

friday's quotes of the week

Heard, read, or said by me this week:

"And this is precisely why we attempt to chart God, because we want to be able to predict Him, to dissect Him, to carry Him around in our dog and pony show. We are too proud to feel awe and too fearful to feel terror. We reduce Him to math so we don't have to fear Him, and yet the Bible tells us fear is the appropriate response, that it is the beginning of wisdom."

"We dream of Christ's love for His bride reading like Romeo and Juliet, two equals enflamed in liberal love. I think it is more like Lucentio's pursuit of Bianca in The Taming of the Shrew. That is, the groom endearing the belligerent bride with kindness, patience, and love.

Our "behavior" will not be changed long with self-discipline, but fall in love and a human will accomplish what he never thought possible. The laziest of men will swim the English channel to win his woman. I think it is worth repeating that by accepting God's love for us, we fall in love with Him, and only then do we have the fuel we need to obey. In exchange for our humility and willingness to accept the charity of God, we are given a kingdom. And a beggar's kingdom is better than a proud man's delusion."

Don Miller in Blue Like Jazz

The Summer-Camp Bus Pulls Away from the Curb
by Sharon Olds
from Good Poems for Hard Times
selected and introduced by Garrison Keillor

Whatever he needs, he has or doesn't
have by now.
Whatever the world is going to do to him
it has started to do. With a pencil and two
Hardy boys and a peanut butter sandwich and
grapes he is on his way, there is nothing
more we can do for him. Whatever is
stored in his heart, he can use, now.
Whatever he has laid up in his mind
he can call on. What he does not have
he can lack. The bus gets smaller and smaller, as one
folds a flag at the end of a ceremony,
onto itself, and onto itself, until
only a heavy wedge remains.
Whatever his exuberant soul
can do for him, it is doing right now.
Whatever his arrogance can do
it is doing to him. Everything
that's been done to him, he will now do.
Everything that's been placed in him
will come out, now, the contents of a trunk
unpacked and lined up on a bunk in the underpine light.

grandbaby photo of the week

Thursday, November 03, 2005

"limited amusement"

I found this on a mystery blog and it seemed to be providential, so I had to share it.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

one good lookin' guy

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

fierce love

My friend, Vicki, and I were talking the other day about vindication, vindication in the short term and in the long term as well. We also discussed what happens when someone is never vindicated in this life. Then I came across this poem and thought it seemed appropriate. So this is for my dear friend, Vicki.

He Thinks Of Those Who Have Spoken Evil Of His Beloved

by William Butler Yeats.

Half close your eyelids, loosen your hair,
And dream about the great and their pride;
They have spoken against you everywhere,
But weigh this song with the great and their pride;
I made it out of a mouthful of air,
Their children's children shall say they have lied.