Saturday, June 30, 2018

~ Fresh Air ~

Ninety degrees outside and I felt the need for a breath of fresh air. Go figure. I stepped outside, looked around, took a few deep breaths, and went back inside ... to get my phone and a book! Seriously, it was gorgeous out there.

For a while, all I could do was look around me. I watched the hummingbirds sipping their nectar. I saw butterflies flitting across the yard, minding their own business. It was hard to believe, but not a single cat came to harass me. Now for some reading - in the middle of the day! Unheard of!

Then it was time to stretch my legs. I walked over to the uprooted stump of a tree, left over from last year's tornado. I had asked Weldon if it was going to stay there forever and he said, "No. Sooner or later it will rot away." Ha! Very funny! So, I'm attempting to turn it into a focal point - a piece of yard art, more or less. Kinda sorta.

A gardener I'm not, but everyone wants to help me take a few baby steps in that direction. In early June, my friend Tena brought some (more) flowering plants and bushes for me. I chose this spot and she thought it would be perfect. She dug the holes and planted the plants! I moved my little "bird bath" over there. See, I can do some things.

Tena, I don't suppose you can see it, but there's a white butterfly to the left of the stump, just above the purple flower closest to the stump. The purple flowers that you said would attract butterflies. It's true!

Ahhh. What a glorious, refreshing time I had in the 90-degree great-out-of-doors. Thank you, Lord, for books and birds and butterflies and friends and uprooted tree stumps.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Slaving in the Kitchen

Last month's blog post was about slaving in the kitchen, too. Ooops. I really don't do as much baking as I used to, but I can't resist telling you about my amazing discovery today.

I don't know when I last made Rice Krispies Treats, but it's been a l-o-n-g time. Things have changed! I remember melting the butter and marshmallows in a pan on the stove and stirring the sticky mess with a big spoon till it was all melted ... but not scorched. Then I added the Rice Krispies, trying to stir gently so the crispy bits of rice didn't turn into rice flour.

Then came the fun part: trying to get it all out of the hot pan and into the buttered 9" x 13" pan. There was always enough left in the pan and on the spoon to nibble on for a day or two. (Yes, I'm exaggerating a bit.) Next, I buttered my hands and quickly patted the concoction to the edges and into the corners of the pan. "Ouch! That's hot!" Later I learned that using waxed paper instead of my buttered hands was somewhat less painful.

Fast forward to 2018. Pat brought me a big bag of marshmallows that she found on clearance. Weldon used to eat marshmallows like candy, but he gave that up. So, what was I going to do with these marshmallows? The obvious solution: buy some Rice Krispies and make the sticky treats. And today was the day.

Let me tell you, things have changed. I followed the recipe on the marshmallow bag. Melt the butter and the marshmallows in the microwave! Using the "new" silicone spatulas, stirring in the crispy rice and dumping the whole works into the 9" x 13" pan was easy-peasy. I used the spatula to pat the mixture into the pan. Nothing stuck to the bowl, nothing stuck to the spatula, nothing stuck to my hands.

I didn't realize I had blog post material here, or I would have taken pictures while I was actually doing the work. As it is, the photos were taken after sweating and slaving in the kitchen for five to ten minutes.

I'm not the first woman who, because of her deep love for her family, has slaved all day long in the kitchen. Perhaps you'll remember this commercial of just such an amazing woman.

Today's lesson: An old dog can learn new tricks.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Happy St. Urho's Day!

Being half Finnish, about a fourth Irish, and 1/4 chicken noodle soup, I celebrate any and all holidays! Since it's St. Urho's Day (read about it here) I wondered if I had ever made a Finnish cake. I did the usual Google search and found a recipe that sounded good and had some favorable reviews. Another plus: I had all the necessary ingredients.

As I headed to the kitchen, I remembered that I have a couple of Finnish cookbooks. I decided to check them out before I got started.

Lo and behold, the older cookbook had the exact recipe I had just found online. And, surprise surprise, I had made Kermakakku before. Mmm :) The wonderful thing about having a really deficient memory is that everything is always new and exciting! Yay!

Fortunately I still had some cardamom seeds. I don't worry about grinding them in my coffee grinder because cardamom is pretty good in coffee, too.

Cake is pretty:

Tastes good, too:

It just needs a big, green plastic grasshopper on top. Maybe next year.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Welcome Home

“Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.” -Billy Graham

That day has come.

In the postscript of my book Crap Happens...Wallowing Is Optional, I noted that Billy Graham had an influence on my life, beginning when I was quite young. I thought you might enjoy reading it.


I have one final story to tell, as nourishing and satisfying as a good meal.

One of my earliest childhood memories is of sitting on the living room floor in front of the boxy black and white television set. My brothers are around me, and Ma and Pa sit behind us on the sagging couch. All eyes are fixed on the screen and our ears are listening to Billy Graham as he speaks to a huge crowd … and to us.

If you’ve ever seen one of his crusades, you know they always ended the same way. George Beverly Shea would sing, “Just As I Am” and Mr. Graham would make his closing remarks, inviting those who wanted to “ask Jesus into your heart” to come forward for prayer. “You who are watching this telecast from the comfort of your home can ask Jesus to come into your heart right where you are, just as you are.”

I did that. Every time. The words always moved me in an inexplicable way.

There’s nothing wrong with the picture of inviting Jesus into your heart, but many years later it became clear to me that Jesus didn’t “just” want to live in my heart - he wanted my whole life. As the old hymn says, “All to Jesus I surrender, All to Him I freely give; I will ever love and trust Him, In His presence daily live.” In 1972, to the best of my ability, I gave my life (all of it) to Jesus. He made me, so I belonged to him; he wasn’t just tucked away in my heart, but I was tucked away in his.

Regardless of the stories and advice I’ve shared in this book describing how I overcame (and continue to overcome) problems on the farm and in my life in general, all my self-help, best intentions, and strength come from my Father God and his son, Jesus.

Your life can be made new with a simple prayer: “Lord, I need you. I come to you. I give my life into your keeping. Live your life through me. Thank you.”

Start reading the Bible. Find a contemporary version that is easy to understand. Talk to God on a daily basis, right in the middle of whatever you’re doing. You’ll see changes in the way you think, respond, and act. The best change is God’s amazing peace that wraps you up and keeps you safe. When crap happens (and it will), look for God and accept his help.

I look forward to seeing you in the “life romantic” on the other side.


Friday, February 02, 2018

Deep and Wide

I got this sweatshirt at a women's retreat I attended when I lived in Charlotte. Over the course of those few days, we must have sung Steven Curtis Chapman's song, Dive (written in 1999), at least a hundred times. We were exploring the turbulent waters that can swirl around our lives and discussing how we can "dive" into God to get the help we need.

After moving to the farm, being in over my head took on a "deeper" significance, and the sweatshirt became part of the "milk duds" that I donned every morning. Being downright chilly today, out of habit, I grabbed it and then wondered if I'd ever taken a picture of it. Tah dah!

You don't have to live on a farm to know that life doesn't always feel like a delightful dip in a cool, refreshing lake. It can get deep and stinky. I'll bet you have a few yucky stories of your own. You could probably write a book!

We each have our own way of finding encouragement and strength when we're slogging through difficult days. Writing my book helped me, but the underlying basis for my book was always The Good Book ... the Bible. The Bible has been my go-to source for peace and wisdom since I became a Christian, lots and lots and lots of years ago.

The frustrations, disappointments, and heartbreak of life can be deep and wide, but God's love and provision are always deeper and wider. I'll leave you with these words from Ephesians 3:16-20. I pray you will be encouraged.

"I'm asking God to give you a gift from the wealth of his glory. I pray that he would give you inner strength and power through his Spirit. Then Christ will live in you through faith. I also pray that love may be the ground into which you sink your roots and on which you have your foundation. This way, with all of God's people you will be able to understand how wide, long, high, and deep his love is. You will know Christ's love, which goes far beyond any knowledge. I am praying this so that you may be completely filled with God. Glory belongs to God, whose power is at work in us. By this power he can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine."

P.S. Weldon is hauling manure today. He doesn't wallow in it; he sees it as a resource. By spreading it on the fields, the ground will be more fertile and grow better corn. And on a dairy farm, corn is a good thing!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Whiter than Snow!

It's snowing in North Carolina. In Minnesota I enjoyed playing in the snow, but on the farm I enjoy watching the snow cover all the broken, discarded, rusting stuff. It's not all junk or broken, but almost all of it is dirty and old.
This morning I thought of how all the yuck on the farm can be compared to the yuck in our lives. We can feel broken, discarded, or rusting. There might be things we're ashamed of and we wish we could just cover up. There is a cure!

God says, "I, the Lord, invite you to come and talk it over.
Your sins are scarlet red, but they will be whiter than snow or wool."
(Isaiah 1:18)

God invites you to sit with him and "talk it over." Think about that! If you've never tried it, go for it! Sit down. Talk to this God you can't see. This God you don't even believe in. You just might get up from that conversation a changed person.

The covering of snow transforms crud into works of art. The Lord does even "better" with our lives: he doesn't just cover our sins — he washes them away. Gone. Whiter than snow. As Christians, we sometimes mull over past sins, but God has forgotten them. Let's get on with living.

And now, for your viewing pleasure: God's Artistry with Broken Stuff.

Monday, October 30, 2017

It's a Matter of Perspective

Last night I lay in bed for a l.o.n.g time, thinking about how I should celebrate the 2nd Bookiversary of Crap Happens...Wallowing Is Optional. I know! I'll give two books away! I finally fell asleep.

I was eager to get started this morning, but I felt like doing a little research first. How many books have I sold in two years? The results were quite disheartening: I've sold approximately 375 books, and, just for the heck of it, I gave away (FREE) 305 ebooks on Amazon on October 2 of last year. Crazy, huh? All of this and only 38 reviews. Lovely reviews, but still ... only 38.

On the plus side, that's selling or giving away a book every day — a book I wrote and published for about $50. Counting all the joy it has brought to me and others, I say WooHoo! AND, I am SO thankful for the local bookstores and businesses that sell my book, some of them not taking even a tiny percentage. Yup, I might do it again.

But, back to my book's 2nd birthday. To celebrate, I've decided to give away two copies of Crap Happens...Wallowing Is Optional. Here's how you can be in the running.
  1. "Like" my author page on Facebook
  2. Leave a comment that tells me what puts a smile on your face.
If you've already "Like"d my author page, you only have to do the second item. Duh.

If you're not on Facebook, what are you waiting for? Actually, if you're not on Facebook, you can leave a comment on this post and I'll throw your name in the proverbial hat. Fair enough?

I'll choose two winners at random tomorrow (10/31/17) at approximately 6pm, Eastern time. I'll "private message" the winners so you can give me your address. If you already have a copy of my book, it will make a wonderful Christmas gift for someone on your list.

Tomorrow, in honor of Crap's second birthday, I'll drink more coffee and eat lots of cookies and name TWO WINNERS. Don't forget to enter!