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Archive for August, 2010

My Husband

My husband had to work today, and sitting in church without him I truly felt that part of me was missing.  Now he is a regular sort of guy, but to me he is God’s gift.  I want to write a bit about him today, and if you are a woman reader, be happy for me.  If you happen to be a man reader, take note!

I first fell in love with Rick’s heart for God.  His relationship with the Lord Almighty drew me like a magnet.  Not only did I want to love God in a similar way, but I wanted to know a man that loved God before all else.  We can joke all we want about being drawn to a man’s physique, or jolly personality, or winning/charming ways, but I stand before you and tell all the world that I fell in love with my husband’s tender heart for God.  With a heart like that, how could I lose?

Through the years he has been my comfort and my strength, my spiritual resource as well as my mentor.  He has been patient and kind and forgiving and loving; a refuge in the storms of life, he challenges me to be my best and believes in me when I feel worthless.  He’s not perfect, but he’s close.

He’s been a wonderful dad to our sons.  He loves them, believes in them, is proud of them, and is always here for them.  He has guided them with wisdom, helped them when they needed help, disciplined them with patience, loved them with his whole heart, but most of all, he showed them the way to know God and have His peace in their lives also.

He loves our daughters-in-law and is proud of them.  They are his ‘little girls’ he never had and he loves them dearly—we both do!  God sorted through all the young women and gave us the best!  We could not have chosen better mates for our sons.  But it was Rick that taught the boys to be patient; that waiting for the ONE God was preparing for them was worth it all.  My Rick is a perfect example of patience.

And our grandchildren?  Oh, how he loves them!!!  When we are with our children, we will often find Rick on the floor with the babies.  When we are not with our children, I often find him watching the videos of our grandchildren—over, and over, and over!

But our children are grown and have their own homes, and the wife is at the tail end of ‘middle aged’; a little thicker around the middle, a little whiter on top, a bit saggy of skin and less steady on my feet—but still he is here for me.  We celebrated our 38th wedding anniversary a while back and still he loves me, is patient with me, and kind and forgiving and loving.  He is still my refuge and my biggest fan.  Oh, how I love that man!

James 1:16 and 17a say this:  “Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers.  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights.”  Many men think they are God’s gift to women, but the one who truly is, is the one who doesn’t think so!  And for the record ladies, he’s taken!

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Today has been a rather cool, mostly rainy day and my husband has a deacon’s meeting tonight which includes dinner for him.  A perfect evening to make myself a yummy bowl of soup!

I have yet to figure out what’s wrong with the man, but my husband is not a lover of soups!  He’ll eat chili occasionally, but that’s about as far as his tolerance goes for soup.  But for me, a bowl of soup is a wonderful way to take care of the hunger pangs on a cool evening.  So, since he’s taken care of tonight I decided to indulge my own preference.

Throughout the day today as I deadheaded in my gardens and worked around the house I thought about several different options, but when I thought of browned butter potato soup I knew I had a winner!  It’s a soup I made up, but oh how I love it!  And if you enjoy baked potatoes in a more liquid form, you’d probably enjoy it too.

This is how I make it:             

Ingredients:

1 medium potato, peeled (optional)   and diced

¼ cup diced sweet onion

1 large stalk of celery (with or without leaves) chopped

3 T. butter (NOT margarine!)

1 T. flour

1 ½ cup whole milk (with cream if possible)

½ t. garlic salt

cracked pepper

2 T. grated sharp cheddar

Sauté sweet onion, celery, and a diced raw potato in butter until tender, stirring occasionally, but covered mostly.  Cook on low heat, but butter will still brown a bit. When potato is tender, sprinkle flour over the vegetables loosely, then toss lightly in the pan.  Add milk all at once and bring to a slow boil.  Cook for several minutes until slightly thickened.  Remove from heat and add garlic salt, then pour into a soup bowl and garnish with cheddar cheese and cracked pepper.  Enjoy!

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The Dregs of Summer

These past few days I have been sensing autumn is just around the corner and just as I try to suck the last drop from the dregs of a good cup of coffee, I am watering and deadheading and trying my best to keep my glorious summer flowers blooming as long as I can.  This morning as I enjoyed my morning worship I could hear the crows cawing outdoors and realized that it is one of the definite sounds of autumn moving slowly in. And as I walk around the yard and gardens I realize that most of the flowers have finished their blooming cycle for this year and are ready to rest for another winter.

It’s this time of year that I especially enjoy my gaillardia (blanket flower) the most.  If kept deadheaded, those precious little flowers continue their blooms right up until frost.  Sometimes I think they think they are annuals the way they will bloom all summer long.  But they are as faithful as the sunshine in returning year after year.  And, being a huge fan of bright vivid color, they are one of my favorites.

We have a stone wall that winds its way around our little back yard to end under the mulberry trees near the garage.  That last six feet or so are in deep shade all summer long and so this year I planted it full of impatiens.  I can see them out the window by my desk and they have brought such delightful cheer all summer.  I will keep them watered and fed and see how long they will continue to bloom.  In spite of my distaste for houseplants, I’m considering digging a few of them to bring them in for the winter, since I know I can break off branches of them to stick into the ground in the spring and let them continue their blooms for another whole year.  Hmmm……we’ll see….

Part of me hates to see summer end, but part of me is really ready for a break from mowing these hills.  And there’s part of me that’s eager to get out the pumpkins and fall leaves and decorate the house a bit for fall as I watch the days getting noticeably shorter.  There’s just something cozy about autumn as we begin that process of hibernating a bit.  I can already sense the cozy feel of reading a good book as I listen to the winds blowing and the rain pouring outside our windows.  Or wait!  Maybe not as much reading a good book as writing one!

Yes, I’m ready to start a new book.  Against my will, my mind has come up with another plot.  I’m finding myself writing a book each fall and each spring, and as much as I’d like to take the summer off, I just can’t get my brain to quit.  So, as I settle in for autumn, I’ll crank up the good old classical music and whip out the laptop, and let the story roll as I watch the seasons pass.  God is still GOOD!!!

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Friends

“A friend loves at all times…” (Proverbs 17:17a)

Friends are such a special gift from God.  It is a gift to have friends, and it is also a gift to be a friend.  In my lifetime, I have been more blessed than many women, and I want to always thank God for this special gift.  Having friends—good, close friends—is a gift beyond description.

This past winter I lost a long time best friend to cancer.  My husband and I had moved in the past few years, but Bonnie and I stayed close and knew we always would.  On my way home from her funeral I pondered all the loved ones that had come together to comfort one another and how many of us felt that we were one of Bonnie’s best friends.  Why?  Because Bonnie loved deeply and sincerely and forgave completely.  I want to be like her in that.

Since her funeral I have been made aware of how God blesses us with friends and have particularly been thankful that our move a few years ago brought us to a community of open arms.  I have felt truly loved and accepted and a couple of weeks ago I realized just how much.

I had been making some good friends here in Virginia already, but soon after Bonnie’s funeral I began to see more and more of one friend in particular.  DeeDee knew I was suffering loss, and shared her heart with me, quickly enfolding me in the arms of a warm friendship that continues to grow day by day.

And, a couple of weeks ago when I turned that monumental corner age-wise, DeeDee told me she wanted to take me out to dinner.  Now, she had already brought gifts to the house and treated me to lunch, but she was not to be dissuaded from taking me to dinner as well.  And so, we went.

We entered a restaurant I had not had occasion to visit as yet, and as she talked to the reservation person I looked around a bit.  Without much effort I saw a couple of ladies from our church in a corner not far away.  I smiled and waved and thought, ‘what a fun coincidence that they are here also’ as DeeDee grabbed my arm and pulled me in their direction.  As we rounded the corner I noticed another lady that had been blocked by a planter and they were all smiling at me.  As I smiled back and started to speak to them quickly (I thought we were just passing by), DeeDee started pulling out an empty chair at their table and motioned me into the other one.  I still didn’t get it for a bit, but when I did, I was speechless.  They were there to celebrate my birthday with us!

Oh, what a fun evening we had!  But do you know, I was so shocked by it all that I kept sitting there just marveling that they had surprised me so completely, and that they would even care enough to try also left me speechless.  And as the evening wore on, in the conversation somewhere along the line we began talking about age and soon discovered that between us, we represented every decade of half a century!  (But barely, since I had JUST turned 60!)  As I pondered that fact, I realized anew that friendship does not have to be with someone your own age, and there are some ways it can be beneficial to be close to some friends who are NOT your age.

Sometimes I help with childcare with the younger women in our group (since I no longer have to be concerned with that issue myself), and I can envision that at some point (when I actually do begin to age) if I need something done that I can’t quite manage alone, I feel certain I could call on one of the younger of my friends who would be there to help me out also.  And the blessing gets passed around and around!  And sometimes the help is just being there for one another, and knowing someone cares or shares a joy or sorrow.

This past summer when Rick and I went back to Indiana for a visit, we spent a weekend with some very dear friends that we enjoy and will always enjoy being with.  Kay and I got to know one another in a job situation a number of years back and have spent lots and lots of time sharing laughter and tears (and flowers) since then.  And the fun part of this friendship is that our husbands have become good friends also.  We all four love getting together and are planning our next tryst before that one is over!

While we were in Indiana, a whole crowd of our dear, dear friends from Wabash got together for lunch and oh, my!  Was that ever fun too!  We had lunch together and chatted and laughed well into the afternoon.  Warm memories!

Friends are a gift from God.  And as I think of all my precious friends I care so very deeply about, I realize how very seldom I think to simply say, “Thank You, Father, for my friends!”  How would I survive without them?

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Crown of the Aged

Proverbs 17:6a says:  “Children’s children are a crown to the aged…”  Grandchildren.  What special little creatures they are!  What a glorious gift!

We just finished a wonderful whole-family weekend where our sons brought their wives and children and we all enjoyed a long weekend together.  I prepared and worked for a good while planning and physically working toward one end:  having everything as prepared as possible so I could just enjoy our kids and grandkids.  And enjoy them I did!

It was so much fun having our sons with us again, and to interact with our daughters-in-law and to play with our grandchildren.  What a special gift from God!

When our sons grew up and left home for college, I missed them terribly, but still connected quite frequently as they came and went.  When they married and moved out for good, I grieved my own loss.  I was truly happy for them and knew it was within God’s plan for this to happen, but my heart felt SO empty.  Honestly, I think part of my grief was the selfishness of not liking to be ‘second fiddle’ to another woman in my sons’ lives.  (How horrid is that?)  I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I think that was part of my grief and sense of loss.  Even though they chose wisely and are married to two of the most wonderful and godly women, it took some real praying and self-discipline to accept my new role of ‘no longer needed’!

Then, a couple of years ago they began blessing us with grandchildren.  Again I struggled.  Even though they are generous in the way they let us visit and play with our grandchildren, I had to go home and leave those precious babies behind.  I struggled with wondering if they would know me the next time I saw them and how would they know how much I love them.

Our grandson just passed his second birthday last week and our granddaughter is now 16 months old and do you know what?  They know me!  I cannot express the thrill in my heart when I hear Drew saying ‘Gah-maw’ over and over.  And Audrey began saying ‘Maw-maw’ more regularly.  What utter joy!

And now I know that God still has a job for me.  It is very important to me to be certain that our grandchildren know they are loved by us; that they are very special in our eyes.  I was not blessed with loving grandparents, but our boys were and I am determined that our own grandchildren will know how very special they are to us.  And so I realize…I AM still needed!  God is SO good!!!

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