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!

Friday, October 06, 2017

His Eye Is On the Spider

Sparrow! I mean sparrow! But as long as we're on the subject ....

Wednesday evening, after having mowed the front yard earlier that afternoon, I switched out my little yard flag to better showcase the season.
Thursday morning I was hurrying out the door to get to work and, as I walked passed the flag, I had to double back to see why it seemed to be hanging at such an odd angle.
It took me a moment but, do you see it? A spider! What the ?? I shook the flag a couple of times, but the spider hung on. I got a little stick and knocked it down. The flag was still "bent," so I straightened it out and saw this fluffy white thing. Time to call for Weldon.
"Is this thing full of baby spiders?"
"Well, do something with it!"

He took out his pocket knife and began to scrape the lovely bundle off the flag. Eeeuuuuww. With shivers running down my spine, I hurried to the car and headed to work.

I'm not a fan of spiders, but God's eye is on the spider as much as on the sparrow, right? I mean, if he knows the number of hairs on my head, he must know about all the spiders that are hiding in my house and everywhere else. Eeeuuuuww. When I find bugs in the house, I try to capture them and set them free outside, but I don't trust spiders enough to do that. Instead, before mooshing one or sucking it up into the vacuum cleaner, I apologize and say, "I'm sorry." Okay, sometimes it's after the fact, when it's now just an icky spot on the floor. Sorry.

This is getting gross, so let's do a Bob Ross. Ever have spiders in life? Let's make them sparrows. Yeah, they're sparrows now.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Pie In the Sky

I like happy songs, happy stories, happy life. When I wake up in a funk or if the day seems to go from bad to worse, I try to think good, cheerful thoughts. Happy thoughts! Sometimes I imagine a fun surprise. Yes, I might even dream about someone bringing me a piece of pie.

There's nothing wrong with dreaming, right?

Some people think that believing in God is just a dream - a nice, but made-up, story. Heaven is just "pie in the sky" - something that is pleasant to contemplate but is very unlikely to be realized. Even if God and his heaven should all turn out to be a hoax, life is better when it's lived according to the Golden Rule(s) we find in the Bible.

Love your neighbor as yourself. Loving yourself (taking care of YOU) is a good thing! Do you ever treat yourself to a trip to the spa or that new book you've been wanting to read? Maybe, if you're like me, you love yourself with a bag of M&Ms or a pizza pie. You're worth it!

What if you were as lenient with others as you are with yourself? You’d think and say nice things about the people you meet. You’d help them when they need help and encourage them when they’re sad. You’d want them to have the best seat in the house. If they ever disappointed you, you’d know it wasn’t on purpose and you’d forgive them immediately.

Go the extra mile. Your neighbor comes to borrow a cup of sugar and you give her the whole bag. A friend asks if you could pick up his son from school. You not only pick up his son, you stop and buy him a milkshake on the way home. When you go out to eat, you treat the staff with kindness and leave a good tip. Your mother asks if you could come help her get the Christmas tree from the basement, and you stay to help her decorate the whole house.

Don’t kill, cheat, steal, or tell lies. Life would be a whole lot rosier if everyone followed these simple instructions.

Sing songs and make melody in your heart. Don’t commit adultery. Honor and respect your mother and father.

After a lifetime of trying to follow the good advice found in the Bible, you die. There’s no heaven, no hell. But what a life you lived! A good life! No doubt about it: I’ll take the pie in the sky.

If you actually know me, you know that I don't think God is a myth or a dream. He's the "real deal," and I won't be surprised if he serves pie when I get there.