January 31, 2011

Reminders From the Valley - A New Vision

As a young mother, I often asked my husband to pray for me to have greater patience. However, it seemed the more he prayed, the more trying life became. As I was sharing this with an older Christian friend she said, "Kathleen, watch what you pray for, the Lord will give it to you."   Of course, she meant that if I pray for patience, the Lord will give opportunities to try me and grow my patience. And did He ever in those early years!

As a believer, I have always looked forward to going to Heaven one day but I never was in any particular hurry to get there. I always marveled at those who have such an incredible longing for Heaven. Our former pastor, Louis Purks, had an amazing vision for Heaven. In one of his last sermons before retiring to Texas, he said something that again reminded me of what I was lacking in this area. God had given such a wondrous gift in going to the cross to secure my place in eternity. How could I be so ungrateful to not make it a top priority in my life by looking to it with the enthusiasm and excitement with which I look forward to the gifts of this world? I began praying for the Lord to help me develop such a vision and desire.

The lesson I had learned from my friend so many years before really hit home in the last summer and early fall months.  I realized the Lord surely did answer my prayer,  and in no way I expected. Thoughts of Heaven and meeting our child there fill my heart almost every day. What is even better, is that my children, even my young children, already have that desire instilled in their hearts.  It is like one of those buy one get one free deals at the super market.

January 30, 2011

Reminders From the Valley - Rising to the Challenge

A very powerful way the Lord ministers to my heart is through music. I have always loved music. My parents both have a great love for it and instilled that love in their children. No matter what is happening in my life or my mood, the Lord puts a song in my heart. These times were no different. What is so amazing to me is that the God created music for HIS glory and honor. Yet, He allows it to be used for our blessing, encouragement, and yes, comfort. Allen's folks gave us a CD several years ago from a family of Christian performers. On it there is a song that I had never heard before. Last June I was listening to this CD on my iPod while I went about my work. That time I heard it in a way I had never heard it before.

"Whatever It Takes"

by The Knight Family

There's a voice calling me,
from an old rugged tree
And it whispers, "Draw closer to me."
Leave this world far behind,
There are new heights to climb,
and a new place in me you will find.

Take the dearest thing to me,
if that's how it must be,
to draw closer to thee,
Let the disappointments come,
lonely days without the sun,
and through sorrow,
more like you I'll become.

I'll trade sunshine for rain,
comfort for pain,
that's what I'd be willing to do, Lord
for whatever it takes,
for my will to break,
that's what I'd be willing to do.

Take my houses and lands,
Change my dreams and my plans,
for I'm placing my whole life in your hands,
and if you call me today,
to my home far away,
then I'll walk ,
and your will obey.

I'll trade sunshine for rain
comfort for pain
that's what I'd be willing to do, Lord
for whatever it takes
for my will to break
that's what I'll be willing to do

whatever it takes
to draw closer to you, Lord
that's what I'd be willing to do
whatever it takes to be more like you
that's what I'd be willing to do...
that's what I'd be willing to do.

So here I was, standing on a mountain top in early June. My children were happy and healthy. My husband, with whom I share a mutual adoration, was content and working in a job he loved. Financially we had reached a place where we could afford to pay a little more toward our mortgage each month and take a vacation each fall. For the first time in a long time my extended family were all speaking to each other (with the exception of my mother) a dream that Allen and I had hoped and prayed for since our marriage. We were expecting a new baby (the 7th since doctors had told us we couldn't have another baby). My sister was coming to stay for the summer. Even the weather was as perfect as it could be.

And as I went about my work and listened to the lyrics of this song, it hit me so hard. Was it true? Would I be willing to trade anything for the blessing of drawing closer to my God and being more like sweet Jesus? It was easy to say at this high point in my life, but what if I had to give up the dearest thing to me? Would I still be willing to say, "It's yours, Father. I will follow." There and then, in front of my washing machine, I fell to my knees and asked the Lord to make this true in my heart. To challenge me and make me truly follow Him with all I am and all I have to give back.

Within a few short weeks, He did just that. Sometime in the haze that followed my miscarriage and the breakdown in our family, I realized that the Lord was answering my prayer by allowing two of the dearest things in the world to be taken from me so that I could be more like Him.

All I had to do was rise to the challenge.

January 29, 2011

Reminders From the Valley - Comfort in Strange Places

I am always moved by the way God's word speaks to me differently depending on where I am in my life at the time. This summer my family set out to read our Bibles through one time each month. When everything started to go askew I was in the middle of the book of Joshua. That book is so Victorious and so full of encouragement. It seems it would be a good place to be during a time of trial.  But not for me, not at this time.  I couldn't rest there. Focusing on my reading was impossible. I would sit for an hour and read the same words over and over and have no idea what I had read. It just wasn't a place where I could meet the Lord at that time.

Knowing how desperately I needed to Word to sustain me, I turned my focus to the book of Psalms. A book full of words to lift the aching and weary soul. Many times it has been my choice book in times of confusion, pain or sorrow.  But no, it was not the place for me to find solace at this time, either.

It was when I stumbled on 1 Chronicles 16 that my head started to clear and I began to regain my spiritual focus.  David's words in verses 8-12
"Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people. Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, talk ye of all his wondrous works. Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD. Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually. Remember his marvelous works that he hath done, his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth;"
I had just finished an extensive study on this book in our FBI class but these words just zipped right past me.  That morning, however they were just the words I needed to remind me the way to get through any trial.  

Somehow I ended up in the book of Nehemiah next. In the past, I had always viewed this as the historical record it is. As in every book of the Bible, there are uplifting and encouraging places that can get God's people really revved up for service.    But, this was the first time I had ever seen it as such a personal book for me. Reading about God's people taking nothing and in His name and power doing so much with so little, gave me a hope that I could find no where else at the time. If the Lord could use such a small remnant to rebuild so much, surely He could rebuild my family and make my days filled with sunshine again.

For sure, sometimes comfort and encouragement are found in the oddest places.

January 28, 2011

Reminders From the Valley - One Red Leaf

One moment in time can change your perspective forever.  One sunny day in May, January 29th was a day we looked forward to with excitement and joy.  After hearing a few brief words on July 12th, it became a day I have looked forward to with dread.  And now, here it is upon us.


The last few days we have looked back to see what we've learned, remember how God has worked and praise Him for bringing us through.


I have faced many trials in my life before I gave my life over to the Lord and with Him carrying me along the way, as His child.  I can unquestionably say, I can not think of any six months that were darker than these.  Nor can I see any time that His light and love shone brighter.


Throughout this valley, I have learned some new lessons.  But mostly, I have been reminded of things He has taught me in my years as a daughter to the King.  I have a friend who is going through a rough spot right now and might benefit from some of the ways God spoke to me.  These are mostly adapted from my personal journal entries from July 2010.  Maybe there is someone else out there who will be blessed by how God was working on my path.  It would be too much to read all at once so they will be coming in installments.  I call them reminders from the valley.

The Lord often gives us comfort in ways that seem strange unto man.  The first morning, after a long and sleepless night following the loss of our baby Gussie, I curled up on the couch with my Bible facing the picture window.  As I waited for the sun to come up so I could read, I struggled to find a little peace.  As the enemy often does in times of trials, everything seemed magnified to unbearable levels.  One minute it was thinking of being an outcast among my family and the next it was the loss of our baby.  In the pre-dawn darkness, the Lord brought verse after verse to my memory of His love and mercy and care, but the darkness seemed so much greater than even His promises.

And then the sun came up.  I will never know why it brought me such unbelievable comfort, but as I wiped my eyes and looked out the window the first thing that caught my sight was one cluster with a red leaf.  On our cherry tree, that had been completely green since the end of April, was tucked one tiny red leaf.  Why it never turned, I do not know.  Why it didn't blow away with the other red leaves the fall before, I do not know.  Why I sat and looked at that tree every morning and sat under it reading to my kids almost every afternoon and never saw it before, I do not know.

But there it was.  One red leaf hanging on and persevering long after its time.  The Lord controls even one tiny leaf and no matter what was happening in my life, He was controlling it, too.  That leaf stayed there through out the summer and into the fall when it gently and silently blew away one night with the other red leaves of Autumn.  

Isn't that how sorrow is?  It seems like it will hang on forever, no matter what.  And then without you ever realizing what has happened, you wake up one day and it has faded away with the Autumn leaves.  In the meantime, we cling to the Lord like that leaf to a branch and He will help us persevere in inexplicable ways.

Hugs,

CP

January 24, 2011

Dear...

Aedan,

Thank you for the beautiful pink striped silky pajamas.  They are just what I would have chosen for myself.  While I really like them, I think what I like best, is the story of how you dragged Pa and all the other kids all over town all day to find exactly what you had in mind for me.  One day you are going to make a special lady very happy if you put that much effort into pleasing her.

Love,
Your silky pajama Mama

Samuel,

The angel pendant you gave me for Christmas is quite lovely.  It matches almost anything I want to wear.  The unusual design is a great addition to my bling collection because I have nothing that even closely resembles it.  Your method for choosing just the right one is quite unique in itself and I may have to use that when I go gift shopping next.

Love,
Mama

Kaitlin,

The snow globe from New York is a wonderful memento of the beautiful day we spent there together.  It reminds me of when you were a little girl and we would shake up the snow globe and put it underneath the Christmas tree so we could see the lights reflect off the snow.

Happily remembering some old times,
Mama

Emma Rose,

The new bowls you gave me for Christmas coordinate perfect with my chili pepper dishes.  They are just the right size for my morning, afternoon and evening snack of fruit and nuts.  I know it was quite a challenge for you to decide what dishes to get now that you can no longer buy our chili pepper pattern at Kohls.  It means a lot to me that you put so much thought into what gift to give me.

Hugs from your fruit eating Mama
Elisabeth,

I could never smell so sweet as I do now that you have given me such a fragrant shower cream.  Isn't it nice that the Christmas gift you so generously bestowed upon me can be used by both of us when we take our bath?  It leaves my itchy winter skin feeling silky smooth.  I am glad that we all now know this does not make a good after shower moisturizer.

Loving bath time with my girl,

Mama
Brianna,

Thank you for the pink bling cocktail ring you gave me for Christmas.  It is the perfect accessory for all those cocktail parties I intend to attend in this new year.  It's great for brightening up my days at the home school table, too.  Most of all it is fabulous because it reminds me of my generous girl who remembered something I admired and went out of her way to find one for me.

Shining in my pink bling,

Mama
Nathaniel,

The beautiful Mediterranean style cereal bowl came just at the right time to replace the broken one I like to eat my morning granola in.  It is excellent for servings condiments at family meal times, too.  Mostly I am blessed that you made it such a priority to find something that you knew I would enjoy for my kitchen this Christmas in the year that chili pepper bowls are no more.  I love your thoughtfulness and you will undoubtedly bless some wonderful wife with it in a few years.

Hugs,

Mama
Art,

Lest you should feel left out, I can not let my thank you notes be finished with out a mention of the new Wusthof 6 inch chef's knife and travel case.  I know most women would not like to get something for the kitchen as her Christmas gift.  You know me well enough to know there's nothing I like more than a good quality tool to get the job done right!  This is a great addition to my knife block.  In case you are looking for ideas for my birthday in February, the steak knife set is on sale at All Modern. com right now.

Love from your happy cook,

Chili Pepper

January 21, 2011

Do You Know? Answers

When is your birthday? 2/5/72

What is your favorite color? Pink

What is your favorite flower? Oh, this is hard... depends on the season or sender.... I love when Allen sends me yellow roses... I love Iris's in May and Peonies for Memorial Day. Butterfly bush blooms and Gerber Daisies in the Summer... Mums in the fall (because that's all that blooms in the fall here.)

What is your favorite food and drink? Coffee and fruit

What is your favorite thing to do in your free time? Oh, my word! How can I narrow that down? I love to write, write and write some more.... letters, blog posts, journaling. I love to cook, scrapbook, read, play games with the kids, sit around and do nothing with my hubby, garden...

If you could visit any place in the world where would you go? Italy... love it!

January 20, 2011

Do You Know?

My girl friend sent me this little list of questions.  I sent her my reply and thought it would be fun to see if some of you could guess what my answers would be.  I think I have answered most of them on this blog at some point.  Perhaps you would include your own preferences, too?  Jen, no fair answering but I'd love to hear your what your answers would be.

Hugs,

Kat

When is my birthday?

What is my favorite color?

What is my favorite flower?

What is my my food and drink?

What is my favorite thing to do in your free time?

If you could visit any place in the world where would you go?

365 in 2011

For those who were following along with my 365 in 2011 posts, I have moved those to their own blog. I didn't like the way the flow was interrupted by my regular posts. Also, I was unsure whether to repeat photos when I was writing on a topic related to a picture I previously included in my 365. Yes, I am impossible like that! You should see how long it takes me to finish one scrapbook page because I can't decide if a picture should go in the top or bottom corner.  And if you think that is bad, you should look in my desk drawer and see how I sort my Sharpie pens by the size of the tip.  Oh, come on!  Everyone has some little quirk.

Brianna came to the rescue and designed a new blog just for this year's 365 photos. I used my computer time today to transfer the posts over. For those who were following along, you can continue to do so by clicking over to 365 in 2011 and adding it to your dashboard.  If you have no idea what I am talking about you can check it out by clicking on the page at the top labeled 365 Challenge or by clicking the button Brianna has added (or will shortly be adding ☺) to my sidebar.

Hugs,

Kat

Date

Every third Tuesday the boys having a standing appointment for haircuts with Miss Alison.  This week, I had a last minute appointment come up.  I hated the idea of cancelling and leaving her with a hole in her schedule.

My girlfriend, Katrina, agreed to pick the boys up and take them for their hair cuts.
The boys, in turn, took Mrs. Jackson to Chick-fil-A for lunch.
From the happy reports I heard, it is hard to tell who had the most fun.  Katrina, mother of one girl spending the afternoon with three boys while her hubby is out of town on a mission trip... or the boys getting to eat Chick-Fil-A and feel really grown up paying for lunch.

January 19, 2011

Play Time for Baby

The other night we had a few inches of snow followed by some ice.
Tuesday morning Elisabeth couldn't wait to go out and play while the boys were shoveling the driveway and sidewalk.
When she dressed her baby up in her little snow suit, you know I had to get the camera.

January 15, 2011

Peppermint Patty Frappe

You have to love Gabby.  She always keeps me on my toes.  She requested the recipe for the Frappe I featured in my 13/365.

I found this recipe in the December issue of Southern Mid-Atlantic Living.  We made it for dessert the other night.  The recipe makes three servings so I multiplied it by three to  make nine servings for our family.  They were so delicious and we all enjoyed the treat, but we unanimously agreed they were very rich.  In the future I would make one or two batches and serve them in four ounce juice glasses.

In blender combine 1 cup milk, nine miniature peppermint patties and 2 cups vanilla ice cream.  Blend until smooth.

To serve:  dip the rim of a glass in warm hot fudge.  Sprinkle with crushed candy canes.  I would do this step ahead next time and pop the glasses in the freezer before making the Frappe.  Our ice cream got soft waiting for the glasses to be finished.

The article featured two other servings suggestions for those who are feeling creative.  Freeze glasses.  Then pour some chocolate magic shell ice cream topping in glass and rotate to coat.

Alternately top with fresh whipped cream.  (I would sprinkle with some shaved chocolate if I used the whip cream.)  

January 13, 2011

Greek Salad

Gabby at True Blessings asked for my Greek Salad recipe after she saw it in Allen's birthday post.  How can I deny her when it is such a healthy and delicious plate of goodness.  I like to make these up right on the plate because they look so pretty that way.  It really is easy.

Start with a layer of shredded Romaine lettuce.  Top with a Roma tomato that has been quartered, a few slices of green pepper, cucumber rounds, sliced red onions, 4 Kalamata olives, pepperocini and crumbled feta cheese.

For dressing:  Shake in jar or in a blender 3 T. olive oil, 1 1/2 T. lemon juice, 1 clove garlic (minced) 1/2 teaspoon oregano, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  This dressing keeps well in the fridge for some time so make a larger batch if you think you will want this frequently.

Drizzle over salad and enjoy!

Gabby, in answer to your other question, I bought my picture frames at Joann's Etc.  You can see a close up of them by clicking this link.  I replaced them over the course of several years just waiting for a good coupon or for them to be 50% off.  I actually used the style throughout my whole house so if I wanted to move it to another location it would match no matter where I put them.  I didn't care for the mats that came with them so most of them I replaced for a dollar or two by going to the precut mat section near the framing section in our store.

I hope that helps you out.  Thanks for stopping by, friend.

Hugs,

Kat

January 12, 2011

We'll Take What We Can Get

Everyone was so excited to see the big white flakes falling from the sky yesterday afternoon.  As we attempted to do school they kept running to the window to see if they were increasing in size or quantity.
We only got about 2 or 3 inches, which normally wouldn't bring any notice.
But in a winter with such a piddling amount of snow...
We will happily take what we can get.
After dinner, we ran outdoors for some good old fashioned winter time fun.  
After some swinging, see-saw and a walk around the yard to see the lights reflecting on the snow
We moved on to some sledding
and then the kids decided to try out some new tricks.  Going down the hill in the wagon.
Sliding down the slide, landing in the sled and then running down the hill (hopefully veering to the right before running into the shed... we won't mention any names.)  I know this sounds painful, but I swear it wasn't and it was actually quite fun.  Well, except for Pa, who for some reason could not seem to land in the sled right.  Must have had something to do with his cold.  Maybe his balance was off?  ☺
When all that fun wore off, and our fingers started to get cold, it was back indoors to warm up by the fire and sip some caramel dark chocolate hot cocoa.  
Ahh.  That's the life.  

*Yes, I know that cocoa picture is side ways.  It wasn't when I uploaded it.  For some reason blogger flips them sometimes and nothing I can do will make it appear normal.  Even my brilliant Brianna can't figure it out.  Anyone have any clues?

January 11, 2011

41

1-11-11 was Allen's birthday.  A happy day it was, too.  How can you go wrong when you start with a cuddle from your girl?
Everyone who knows anything, knows that for Allen birthdays are all about the food.  From Christmas until his birthday he plans the menus for the day.  I don't know why it takes him so long to figure it out, since he always has the same thing.  Juice, coffee (with 1/2 and 1/2) fried eggs (over medium) home fries, 2 slices of whole wheat toast (cut in triangles and stacked) and chipped beef gravy over all.  It is amazing he has lived so long eating that.  I think I can feel my arteries hardening just remembering it.
Aedan loves to invent sandwiches.  He got that from his Pa.  For his special day, Aedan created this one and included a candle for good measure.  He calls it his cake sandwich.  
Happy hour included a sparkling grape juice toast to the man who makes our lives so special
and an antipasto platter.
And for dinner was Pasta, with marinara, meatballs, hot Italian sausage and garlic bread.  I have been making this meal on his birthday since he was 19 years old.
He did throw in a Greek salad for those of us who needed something a little lighter.
Of course, there was red velvet cake.  Which, I happen to think, is a big mistake.  Why waste a perfectly good birthday cake on something that doesn't contain chocolate or lemon?  But he loves it, so every year, I make it.  I also forgot to buy candles so we had to make do with what was left over from other birthdays.  Which happened to be a lot of girlie stuff since we have four girl birthdays in a row.  Emma dug and managed to come up with enough.  I wasn't sure we would get them all on there.
Not only did we, but even with a horrible cold, he managed to blow all 41 out!  Not bad for an old guy, eh?
Of course, there were lots of presents.  The kids sometimes amaze me at what they come up with and sometimes they just crack me up.  Either way, it is neat to see how important it is to find something they think their Pa will love.  
The real fun started later in the evening, when it was decided the snow was deep enough for sledding.  We spent a couple of hours making some runs up and down the hill and enjoying walking in the quiet of the falling snow.
Our Pa is so special to us.  He so wisely guides each of us, especially me, to seek and stay in the will of God. He has a way of injecting brevity into everything, whether you want it or not.  He knows something about everything and is more than eager to share it if you will but ask.  We try to avoid asking about the electoral college too often.  When the rest of the world gets so caught up in the day to day of the world, he is good at reminding us all to get back to the simple of what really matters.  No matter what he may face from others or the world, he has never been afraid to stick by what he feels is God's leading and is always careful to avoid living by what people do or say but rather tries always to live by what He feels the Lord has to say.  We are so grateful for a man that is an example to us and to all those who know him.

"By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted"  Proverbs 11:11

January 10, 2011

Nathaniel's Golden Birthday

Circumstances, sick people and two church services, kept us from doing much to celebrate Nathaniel's ninth birthday this weekend.  Not having time to cook or eat a meal yesterday we moved his birthday choices to Monday and let him choose the carryout between church services.  Panda Express orange chicken was his delight.  Which makes everyone happy, because it is a favorite all around the old Wachter world.
At church we sang "Happy Birthday" with the church family to Nathaniel and his very tall friend, Andrew, who shares the same birthday.
When we got home around 8:30 last night, we did have his birthday cake 
and open his VERY BIG present
Which was a wagon with a million parts.  He has been wanting a new one because the one the boys used to haul firewood lost a wheel.  Despite their efforts to fix it, they have been hauling wood by hand.  
I attempted to help the boys put it together today, but had to defer to Allen and Elisabeth's expertise in the end.
Happy 9th birthday on January 9th to our ever growing little man.  

"And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain."  2 Samuel 23:4

January 9, 2011

Versatile

We had some friends over to play today.  My kids always have so much fun with these little ones. 

I love that their play is so versatile.   

One minute they were all outdoors running and playing Jonathan Park Adventures. 
The next minute they are sitting at a cloth covered table having a tea party.

January 8, 2011

Sticky

This is Elisabeth's favorite hat. That goes with her favorite coat. That is waaaaayyyyy too small for her. But she keeps wearing it because she loves it so much.

One day her hat was missing. She became distraught. We looked high and low.

When KK remembered Elisabeth had fallen asleep in the car while we were running errands the day before, we found it.

She was so excited she popped it on her head and began dancing around.

That's when I discovered this stuck to the top of her head.
Those treats they give out at the bank sure are STICKY!

January 7, 2011

Do you think...

... traveling with a family of nine might be a little bulky?

I was working in the kitchen one day while Samuel and Elisabeth played in the next room.

I asked what they were doing and Sammy said, "This couch is our car and we are going on vacation."