Monday, December 30, 2013

Alive and Powerful

Twenty Christmases ago I received my first “grown up” Bible.  A lot has happened in those twenty years.  And this little Bible has been there in all of it.  As a young teen, not understanding a lot, but catching glimpses of how alive it is.  As an older teen, wanting so much to find direction for my future.  Through the pain of hard times in relationships.  Through a miscarriage and the beginning of the next frightening pregnancy.  In the midst of intense hurt in a struggling church.  And even now still journeying through Lyme disease.  
 There are verses that are connected in my mind to these certain times of life.  These verses are God’s personal promises to me and I hold them dear!  Many of them are marked, and when I page through my Bible I see them and am reminded of God’s everlasting faithfulness.  Twice I’ve gotten a new Bible, but I always come back to this little green one with my history.  Back to these pages that have felt my tears of guilt, pain, and joy.

In the beginning its cover was dark blue.  When the cover got worn and was tearing, I covered it with piece of green leather cut from a thrift store skirt.  It has been green now for about half its life.  When all the pages came loose in one big chunk, I replaced the fabric at the spine and glued it back together. 

 This Bible has been packed into my gigantic green army bag on lots of canoeing trips, skiing trips, and has spent a summer in Northwestern Ontario in the bush and on Indian reservations.  Mostly though, it has just been on the little table beside my bed or rocking chair.

This Bible has had comfort in my most painful moments, hope when everything seems hopeless, and promise when everything seems so dark.  Mostly though, it has just been constant.  Constant through normal life.  Through the ordinary days. 

These Words of God are True and Alive.  Some days I feel this more than others.  Some days I don’t even pick it up and read.  But no matter where I am or what I am doing, the Author, the Living Word is there, unchanging.  Full of love and redemption, truth and power.

For the word of God is alive and powerful. 
It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit,
 between joint and marrow.
 It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.
Hebrews 4:12

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Doily Trees and Star String Art Projects

We’ve been working on a few little Christmas projects around here and I thought I’d share them!  I’m enjoying the fact that the girls are getting old enough (seven and four) to actually do more helping than making messes when we work on something!  I was inspired for this decorating idea by a gumdrop tree I saw in my mother-in-law’s Family Circle magazine.  Very fun and whimsical.  I’m not a “pink” kind of person – probably don’t have even a speck of pink in the decorations in this house other than some stuff in the girl’s bedroom.  But this pink was a lot of fun!

 We started on the paper trees by collecting small twigs, about 8” long, and embedding them in small mounds of play dough, which we allowed to dry. 

  Then we painted the “trunks” and bases pink and sprinkled on some sparkle with glitter while the paint was still wet.  

 Next, pink watercolors and three sizes of paper doilies cut into wedges and glued in layers made the treetops. These were glued to the pink twig trunks.
  Little confetti flowers and ribbon bows at the tippy-tops finished the look.

The gumdrop tree was by far the easiest thing (and the tastiest, just ask Cassie Jo!).  I found really twiggy branches, stuck ‘em in a vase with glass marbles, and the girls stuck the gumdrops on.

I worked on a pattern for a string art star for a while, trying to get the points right and some interesting crisscrossing action going on.  Thank you to my sis-in-law, Alison, for helping in the beginning sketches!  The pattern is HERE as a free printable.

If you want to try this project you will need:
A Board 1”x10”x12”
White Paint
24 Nails - ¾”
Two shades of Embroidery Floss, each 7’ long

First paint your board and give it some time to dry.  Carefully center the 8 ½”x11” printed pattern on the board and use tape to secure it. 

Place a nail at each dot making sure they are driven in nice and straight.  Drive them in until there is ¼” sticking out.  (I used the handle of a rubber scraper as a gauge to keep all the heads at the same height.)

Knot the darkest colored floss at nail #1 and follow the numbers wrapping the string in the same direction each time.  Secure thread with a knot at #27.  Press all the threads down the nail shanks onto the board.  

 Now it’s time for the lighter colored floss.  Keep this color near the top at the nail head. 

 Follow the exact same pattern starting at nail #1, only this time wrap the floss around the nail in the opposite direction.  This keeps the two colors of floss from being directly over one another and gives a shadow effect. 

Knot the light floss at #27 and trim the ends.  Tuck any tiny loose ends underneath and keep them there with just a dot of glue.  Now tear the paper pattern out from under the string and you’re finished!

Wishing you a Very Merry December,


For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

He Leads

 I read in the book of First John and he writes,
“anyone who says he abides in Him [Jesus] ought to walk
in the same way in which he [Jesus] walked..” (chapter 2, verse 6)

So I pray, simply,
God, help me to walk like Jesus.”
I think of Jesus.
Of His perfect love for all people.
Of His complete selflessness.
Of Him knowing His Father’s will every moment.
Of His perfect relationship with His Father so that He is able to know that will.
And I feel overwhelmed. How?  How?!
How can I, little human me, attempt to walk as Jesus walked?
How can I even think of making such a thing happen?
I see the word abide.  I pray with surrender.
If YOU lead me I will take the steps.”
Peace comes.

“He leadeth me, O blessed thought!
O words with heavenly comfort fraught!
What e'er I do, where e'er I be,
Still 'tis God's hand that leadeth me.

Sometimes mid scenes of deepest gloom,
Sometimes where Eden's bowers bloom,
By waters still, o'er troubled sea,
Still 'tis His hand that leadeth me.

Lord, I would place my hand in Thine,
Nor ever murmur nor repine;
Content, whatever lot I see,
Since 'tis my God that leadeth me.

He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful follower I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Turkey on the Charcoal Grill

Our family usually enjoys Thanksgiving close to home at Nathan’s parent’s house.  They live just across the field, and boy do they ever know how to make a good Thanksgiving meal!  I like the fact that it’s mostly the same every year – a traditional turkey dinner with all the extras.

Last year Nathan had been perfecting cooking with charcoal during the summer, and the thought of grilling a turkey on charcoal crossed my mind on several occasions.  But it seemed like a big risk, trying to get a huge bird cooked to perfection without really knowing what we were doing.  No one wants 20 pounds of dried up turkey jerky coming off the grill.

When the November issue of Martha Stewart LIVING came in the mail with a very detailed article on charcoaling a turkey, I tore those pages right out and presented them to Nathan.  “It tells exactly how many briquettes to add and how often!  We’ve gotta try this!”

Charcoal sounded great, and charcoal with a brined bird sounded even better!  So I went online reading about brining turkeys and realized you can do about anything with your brine as long as it has salt and something for flavor.  I kind of combined some different recipes, and here’s (loosely) what I did.  The amounts aren't really that important and you can add whatever flavors you think would be nice. Fun! J

Apple Brine for Turkey

1 quart water
2 cups salt
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup minced garlic
2 tablespoon dried rosemary
2 tablespoon dried thyme
1 ½ tablespoon dried sage
1 ½ tablespoon black pepper

1 gallon cold water
2 quarts apple sauce (or apple juice)

In a Very Large stock pot (big enough for your
turkey to fit into) heat the 1 quart of water
with salt, sugar, and spices until things are
dissolved.  Add the rest of the water and
apple sauce and cool before adding turkey.
(You could replace some of the water with
ice to cool it more quickly.)


This should be enough for about a 20 lb. turkey.

Do not use a turkey that has already been injected
with a salt solution.

Brine the turkey at least 12 hours or even better,
one hour for every pound of meat.

Keep your turkey cold!  You will need an
enormous amount of refrigerator space to
do this!  Another option is using a food safe
bag (I hear they make a “brining bag”) and
putting it in a cooler with a bag of ice.  Or just
 keep it outside if you live where it’s cold
enough for that. J

Wash the super salty solution off your turkey
before grilling! 

Coat the turkey with olive oil before grilling and
use the detailed instructions found here from Martha
Stewart.  DO NOT add the salt and pepper called
for in her recipe!   The bird has just spent numerous
hours with these substances, and that is quite enough!

You can sprinkle some parsley on top to make 
it pretty!

We did not try making a gravy.  The juices were full of
ash and I’m assuming it would have been too salty.
 I’m curious if any of you make gravy from a brined
turkey?  Is the broth too salty?

 And just for the record, this was the best turkey any of us had ever eaten! 
Melt in your mouth moist and delicious flavor!

Lovely centerpiece with mini roses done my my mother-in-law, Shirley.

"Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. 
 For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods."

Psalm 95:2-3

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Bethany and Julian -- Maternity Photos

I’m anxiously waiting for a new niece to arrive any day now. 
 My sister-in-law, Bethany, and her husband, Julian, are expecting their first little one
– and she’s a girl! 
We took a few pictures to document this waiting time.

Wait on the LORD:
be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart:
wait, I say, on the LORD.
Psalm 27:13

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