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Archive for March, 2011

Kitchen Day

Today is an indoor day in the Valley.  The rains are steady, making the grass so green it looks like a painting and the contrast of the yellow daffodils nearly takes my breath away.  The birds are singing merrily as they chase one another from the bird feeders.  My music plays softly, the fireplace is glowing warmly and my kitchen is calling to me.

I am not a recipe person, but I love to cook and bake.  Recipes, to me, are impersonal and are for followers.  I love my kitchen for creating.  It’s my laboratory and my canvas!  Sadly, I can seldom create the same thing twice since never do I write down the ingredients, and never, never do I measure them to have anything to write down!  I do it by ‘feel’.  You know…keep adding flour until it feels the right thickness…a pinch of this and a sprinkle of that…YUM!  What fun!

A friend’s parents have a maple syrup business and the maple syrup is in season currently.  I did some research on maple syrup and its health benefits and ordered up a bunch!  I’ve been making cookies with maple syrup instead of sugar, cakes the same way.  Rick and I have been enjoying a drizzle of maple syrup on our oatmeal and today I plan to experiment some more.  Oh, and Rick loved the sweet potato, baked apple and maple syrup casserole the other day also.  And the fun for me was that there was nothing in it that was unhealthy for my sweetie to eat!  And eat it, he did!

So, let it rain, let it rain, let it rain!   Gray skies daunt me not at all.  And by evening, the house will be filled with inviting aromas, tasty delicacies, and healthy and hearty goodies.  Only God could make something so necessary as eating be so much fun!

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Spring in Virginia

Rick and I have lived here in Virginia for…well, this is our fourth spring, and I still am amazed at how quickly spring comes here.

March in the midwest is like a long, hard labor working long and hard at giving birth to spring.  After spending most of my life there, it’s amazing each year now how we suddenly awaken in March and it is just warm and bright and, well, SPRING!  There is no apparent labor at all!  It just happens.

And spring in Virginia is full of color.  The flowering trees are really strutting their stuff right now and it is breathtaking.  This magnolia tree and weeping willow are at our neighbor’s house across the street, and are so beautiful they literally make me ache inside.

Immediately after moving out here I began making gardens and planting flowering shrubs.  This year the forsythia is the most brilliant yellow I’ve seen yet.  I love how quickly that bush grows and fills an empty spot with its richness.  Everywhere I look around here is rich, lush color and I love it!

One of my favorite spots is in the arbor that we built for the wisteria to climb in our back yard.  (Yes, in Virginia we can even grow wisteria!)  The hyacinths are in full bloom out there and I love that peaceful and very fragrant spot.  Years ago I purchased a little rustic garden sign that has been moved from Indiana to Virginia, but I still love the little saying.  It just seems so very fitting for that spot.  It says, “The kiss of the sun for pardon, the song of the birds for mirth, one is nearer God’s heart in a garden, than anywhere else on earth.”  I have to agree!

Won’t you come sit with me a while?

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Darkness and Light

Yesterday afternoon I watched a couple of movies on the Hallmark Channel, and all evening, all night, and even this morning I can’t shake the darkness that hovers as a result of those characters’ hopeless condition.  Even though they are fictitious, they represent people in real life.  Why do men and women choose darkness rather than light?  The Bible says it is because their deeds are evil.

That seems to me to be a vicious cycle.  They choose darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil, and yet, their deeds are evil (dark) because they do not know the Light!  And they don’t know how to find the Light, and many don’t even believe Light is available to them because the darkness hides it from them!  I ache for them!  John 3:19 says this:  “This is the verdict:  Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.”

It is almost as though there are two levels (or planes) of life.  One is filled with light and joy and happiness and contentment and…well, you know.  On the other plane is darkness and evil and unhappiness and misery.  And from each plane, we can see the other.  In fact, in this life we must choose on which plane we will live.  Both planes are available to us all.  But, what we can’t do is exist with one foot in one plane and the other foot in the other plane.  The chasm between the two is much too wide.  It is impossible to dwell in both.  We can see both visually, but we must each choose on which plane we want to live.

Now, what is even more confusing and disturbing to me, is that there is an end to both planes.  The plane that is filled with light and joy ends in permanent Light and joy.  The plane that is filled with darkness and evil ends in permanent and desperate darkness and misery.   And, the separation between the two planes grows very, very gradually farther and farther apart—in fact, so gradually that often the ones living in the darkness cannot see that they are getting farther and farther from the plane of light.

Some have convinced themselves that they will stay in the plane of darkness because that is where they know their own dark hearts are camouflaged and cannot be recognized as dark, and thus, they are ‘comfortable’ there, but they think they will jump onto the plane of light at the very end of the walk to make it into the permanent light—and, in all honesty, there are a few that find a way to do just that, but it is a very risky endeavor and they only make it because someone has reached out to them from that plane of light in such a way as to snag them before they slid off the end of their own dark plane into permanent darkness.

But…what I’ll never, never understand is WHY would you want to stay in darkness when you have the option of Light?  Why would you choose to be miserable when joy and happiness and contentment are free for the taking?  Is it the old deception that ‘I’ll make that choice later’?  Do they not see that by not making a choice, they have made their choice?  Why later?  Why not now?  Why not enjoy the Light and the peaceful life and security now?  Why would you want to miss all this?

I don’t know the answer to those questions and probably will never understand.  But I do know that I’ll continue to reach out to those on the dark plane to help lift them up into the light.  I will do my best to ‘glow’ over the edge to show them the way into the light.  But, still and all, the choice is theirs.  I cannot choose for them.  I cannot snatch them and keep them in the light against their will.

Do you know on which plane you are walking?  Let me suggest to you that if you look behind and see your shadow, you are walking toward the light.  (Your shadow being the sin you have left behind.)  But if all looks fine behind you…well, look up quickly my friend, and grab the Hand that is reaching toward you and make that leap into Light.  That is one choice you will NEVER regret!

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Have you ever thought about the gift God has given us of laughter?  When was the last time you laughed hard?  Not AT someone or something, but WITH someone?

Not long ago we had a couple of couples over for dinner and an evening of games and conversation, and I’m still basking in the warm afterglow of that evening.  Such a fun time we had together with lots of laughter.  And, being raised in a home where friends and strangers were always welcome and a party was either happening or about to, I find myself relishing each such moment.

Today I was looking over a form that I’m to have filled out for a women’s group that is being formed and that I’m part of.  One of the things asked was my main reason for attending.  As I thought this through, I realize how much I want to be part of a group of women that can not only challenge and encourage one another, but that can laugh together.

Ecclesiastes 3 says this:  “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:…a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…”  (v. 1, 4).

I’ve come to believe that laughter is indeed a good medicine, as it lifts the spirit and warms the heart better than any drug ever could.  Proverbs 17:22 says: “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”  Verse 12 of the same chapter in Ecclesiastes says:  “I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live.”

I believe happiness is a choice.  Sorrow is part of life, and sadness happens from time to time, but we can decide and choose to be happy.  Even in the midst of sorrow, a smile can lighten the load and a hug warms the heart.  Have you ever thought of smiling as a ministry?  Ever notice how seldom people smile at strangers?

I’ve taken on a personal challenge to smile.  I want to smile at someone I don’t know every day.  And I love how a small word of encouragement lifts not only the spirits of the one to whom it’s directed, but to the giver also.  Want to join me?  Let’s spread the habit of smiling.  Yes, someone may wonder what we’ve been up to, but most will just smile back.

And, when you’ve mastered the art of smiling at strangers, invite a few friends over for an evening of games and laughter.  You’ll be amazed at how uplifting it can be!

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I am a very wealthy woman, and today I am reveling in my riches.  I confess that I smile at the gasp some of you may have uttered upon reading such a bold statement, but it is true.  I am stinking, filthy rich.  As you have already guessed, my riches are not kept in a bank, but in my heart.

After spending most of a week with our son and daughter-in-law and our two granddaughters, my heart is filled to overflowing with the blessings God has bestowed upon me and my family.

Now I have not one, but two beautiful granddaughters since our new arrival has an almost two-year-old big sister.  (Does everyone think their girls are the most beautiful in the world?)

It was a busy week with no time to write, and I came home late Saturday feeling tired through and through.  With different schedules, different beds, different demands, I didn’t wake for my alone time with God as regularly as I am used to doing, but still I felt Him near and we talked often in a quiet moment here and there.  He is my closest friend and I am thankful to know that He will not leave me when I need Him most.

And today as I read in Psalm 27:  “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?”  I realize how comforting it is to have that stronghold and that my grip is secure.

A few verses later I read:  “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek:  that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.  For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.”

And today, as I go about my daily tasks, pulling our own household ‘back together’ after being gone so much the past few weeks, I continue to thank and praise Him for His faithfulness; for His steadfastness when my schedule becomes turbulent, and for the stronghold He is in my life.  I have been so very blessed in so many ways, but most of all I am thankful that I know God personally and that He cares for me and blesses me beyond description.  Yes, I am a truly wealthy woman.

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