June 30, 2012

Splashes of Joy

Even in the hardest of weeks, there are lots of moments to fill life with joy.  

A pinwheel and a breeze

A basket of flowers

Waking up with a smile

Ice cold coffee when its a hundred degrees

A box full of princess dolls

New recipes and a friend coming for the weekend

Napping under a tree when you are too sick to play

A book and some shade on a summer afternoon

Purple ice flowers

A baby and a ball of yarn

A tree and a boy to climb it


Peaches from our own trees

A picnic and hungry children to share it with

A pile of mulch and a couple of trucks

June 29, 2012


Wow!  It never ceases to amaze me how a week can start with one expectation and completely change in a moment.  That is what it has been around here.  My brain feels like it has been just about everywhere in the last few days.  Probably because it has.  Do you ever just need to empty it out and decompress?

Not like when you need to mull it over or figure it out or come to a conclusion.  Your brain just needs to clear out.  That's where I was when I sat down to write a post.  Before I knew it, I hadn't done what I planned but my brain was decompressed and there was long rambling rather meaningless to anyone but me post.

As I mentioned... in a prior post, Saturday we lost a sweet sister from our small church family.  In addition, two members of our group lost close family members over the weekend.  So to say things are a little shaken up among our church family is a bit of an understatement.

When... you belong to a group like ours, everyone is family.  And the littlest thing affects everyone in one way or the other.  Maybe it is visiting with the family or taking them a meal.  Maybe you are part of the funeral plans or the fellowship dinner.  Perhaps, it is picking up the responsibilities of those traveling out of state to be with their families in times of mourning.  In some small or big part life gets tossed around if you are in a good church and if you are doing your part.

Midway through last week... we began to think Aedan was making a breakthrough after nearly eight weeks.  He actually went two nights without any breathing treatment or Benadryl.  He was able to get by with just cough syrup.  His appetite was still not right and he still didn't look like himself.  If you are a mom, you know what I mean here.  But his breathing seemed better, his lungs seemed relaxed, and he was sleeping to a better degree.  That was Thursday.  Friday night he took a turn down hill and by Sunday we debated taking him to the urgent care center.

And that was when... Carmella woke with a fever. She has four top teeth coming in so I chalked it up to that.  She seemed to do well throughout the day but we kept the family home Sunday night.

In the meantime... the girls cooked a meal and we made a visit to the grieving family.  We were stopped in our tracks by the enormous gathering of family, literally from all over the world, to be with their father, uncle, grandfather and friend.  What an encouragement to see family still matters in some manner in our anti family world.

After another very bad night... for Aedan we made an appointment with the doctor first thing Monday morning.  Right after getting off the phone we went to get Carmella up only to find her temp was now 102.  I still figured it was related to teething, but a rough time for it since I wanted to care for her and Aedan wanted me to go with him to the doctor and the brother from our church who lost his wife had asked Allen and the boys to come by and see him.

But Praise God... This is where the true blessing of having such amazing daughters comes in.  They stepped right in to tend to Winnie and take care of getting suits ready for the funeral services and bake for the mourning family. 

Which... allowed Allen and I to take Aedan to the doctor, get his medicines and pick up the necessary groceries for the funeral dinner.

We had a little laugh... It has been so long since Aedan had a visit to the doctor, they couldn't even find his chart.  It has probably been moved to inactive storage.  I told the doc it was all the vegetables we make them eat.  He said it probably was.

When we were done laughing... Dr. H confirmed our concerns;  that little cold has developed into a full blown lung infection for Aedan.  He will be laid up at least for another week and is on more meds to clear it up, relax the lungs and hopefully help him sleep, too.  

Just try... to tell a boy as active as he is to sit still for a week.  It's driving him crazy.  Except that the slightest exertion and he is exhausted and breathless so then he sits back down.

Why is it... the pharmacy doesn't just tell it to you like it is?  It took an hour to get prescriptions filled despite the promise of the pharmacist that it would only take 30 minutes or less.  This always happens.  If they would just say it will be an hour, then we would be able to do a thing or two and come back.  But instead you hang around cooling your heels because you don't have enough time to do anything in 30 minutes or less.

We were worried.... the boys visiting would be too much for Brother Harry.  But he was insistent so we went.  We spent two hours visiting and were very blessed to see how his disposition had improved just being with them.  Praise God for the way he works through his youngest blessings!

We no sooner... had Aedan settled and dinner cooked Monday night when our friend text to say she was headed to the hospital with contractions... two months early.

Fortunately... they were able to get her hydrated and stop the contractions with medication.  She returned home that night.

Unfortunately... Carmella's fever climbed to above 104 and decided to hover there.  Except for the four top teeth coming in, there was no sign of illness at all.  As a mom that is the worse.  You know something is making her feel bad, duh, but you have no idea what.  You have no idea if it needs medical attention.  You just have to go on instinct and trust God to help you make the right choices.

While we debated... taking her to the doctor, we arranged for a friend to stay with her for the funeral on Tuesday.

And that was Monday.

It was long.

And so was Tuesday.

And Wednesday.

And Thursday.

Winnie's fever continued to hover around 102-103.  And her spirits disintegrated until she reached a point of no longer being consolable.  That has never happened before.

And Aedan continued to get worse.  And we just want to help him feel better.  But we have done all we can do.

Uncertainty...  I can really deal with just about anything.  But uncertainty makes me feel overwhelmed.  Helpless.      

Then the milk spilled.  Literally, Brianna dropped a glass jar of milk and it broke.  All over the steps.  It made a huge mess.  Fortunately, I wasn't there to see it.  I was in my closet trying to decide whether to put on work clothes or take the baby to the doctor clothes.  I'm not one to cry over spilled milk, but I did sit down.  Right there in my not-so-big-closet.  With the dust bunnies and my brown Keds.

Allen was there.  He sat down.  And closed the door.  Wacky.  I know it.  But surprisingly calming.  My hubby commented on how literal a prayer closet it was.  

Until... Ellie came looking for us, opened the door, came in and sat down, too.

We settled the uncertainty then and there.  Aedan will rest more and Carmella will see the doctor, just in case.  

Here again...  is where all those years of training pay off.  Kaitlin and the younger kids took over the house cleaning.  Brianna volunteered to handle the grocery shopping and errands for the baby shower and weekend company coming up.  Carmella and I went to see Dr. H.

And then... I got lost.  Here is the thing.  I have lived in the same town for forty years.  It used to be a small town.  In fact, when I was a teenager and volunteered in a hospital about an hour away, people didn't even recognize the name of our city... which happens to be the third largest city in Maryland.  It has grown over the years.  The population has swelled.  The roads have grown.

For a LOOOOONG time they have been working on one interchange in a major part of town.  It has been open for about a year now.  And yet, I still get lost in there at least once a month.  And once you take the wrong exit, you have to go incredibly out of your way to get back where you need to be.  If you go any other way you can just take then next exit (they are like every ten feet) and hop back on the high way... but not 70W.  Will someone local please tell me I am not the only person in town with this problem.

So... I was late.  And embarrassed.  Twenty minutes late means an hour waiting while everyone else has their turn.  Baby was not content at all.  Highly unusual for her.  I paced back and forth with her on my shoulder singing "The Old Rugged Cross" for what seemed like an eternity.

Especially... because I can not remember all the words to even the first verse.  She was just starting to go to sleep when the nurse came in to take her temperature.

Which... had the nerve to register NORMAL.  Nurse Maryanne leaves and I pace some more and baby closes her eyes again when the doc comes in.  Ears good.  Chest clear.  Abdomen good.  Throat very red but not likely strep.

He says... it's probably roseola but sends the nurse to do a throat culture, just in case.  Which Carmella just loved, in case you were wondering.  I am reassured to know it isn't anything serious, but really I don't buy that it's roseola.  We have had 7 kids who all had roseola and they all had a rash.  He said, watch for the rash.  So we are watching.

In the meantime... baby came home and slept like crazy and then played happy through the evening.  Whatever was bothering seems to have passed.  Maybe we should have taken her to the doctor on Monday?

All in all... I am glad he didn't find anything, but now I am annoyed we spent all morning torturing a baby by dragging her out when she obviously feels lousy to find out she most likely has a virus or has a fever from teething. Which for the record, the doctor always says is not related.  However, 20 teeth times 8 kids and they often ran a fever when they were cutting them.  Maybe it is a complete coincidence, but there you have it.  

The irony?   The doctors always comment on how our kids never have sick visits and here we were in their office twice in four days time.  I for one hope that will last us for another couple of years.

On another note... the funeral Tuesday was lovely.  The weather was perfect, if there is such a thing as a good day for a funeral.  The high was 77 and there was a beautiful breeze.  

Tuesday night... Allen and I were talking of how losing a believer is such a roller coaster experience.  One minute you are rejoicing at their presence with the Lord.  The next you are weeping at the loss.  And the next feeling bad for weeping the loss instead of rejoicing for what they have gained.  And in every way this week has been a roller coaster experience.  

As I often do... when someone goes to the Lord, I spent some time reflecting on what I could learn from Miss Lily.  She was a woman who could truly best be described as a meek and quiet spirit.  Our Pastor summed up my conclusion as best as anyone.  She was lovely.  

That sentiment was echoed by everyone who spoke Tuesday afternoon.  You had to really work to get to know her, but when you did, there was a blessing to be had.  If only in the example of the way she stood by her often hard headed and very opinionated husband.  Who, by the way, we love very much.  I've been to many funerals but never has my breath caught as it did when brother Harry quoted from Proverbs 31 and her children and grandchildren indeed rose up to call her blessed.

That's what I will take away from this week.  May I live each breath and each day as if it were the last and when I draw that final one may I have lived each moment in such a way that my children will one day rise up and call me blessed.

"Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her." 

June 27, 2012

William Barclay on Faith

"Our faith is different in two ways: It is different from other faiths and philosophies in that it is not man-made but God-given; not opinion, but revelation; not guessing, but certainty. It is different in that it has the power to make those who believe it different. It is not only a mind-changer, but also a life-changer; "
Published with Blogger-droid v2.0.4

June 25, 2012

Arguing-What's the point?

This is Part 2 in the reply to reader mail.  You can read part 1 over here.  I don't know why it continues to amaze me how the Lord is always working and planning and carrying out not only His will but also His perfect timing.  I started this post a week ago.  I thought I was doing so great to actually reply to a reader question right away.  We were keeping some little friends of ours last Saturday.  Allen had work to do in the girls' room and all the kids, ours plus four more, were playing on the train in the backyard.  I sat down on the deck to work enjoying hearing them laugh and the train bell ring.  These days they like to play on top of the box car which is probably about four feet high.  Our kids climb up and down all the time and use it as a launching pad for the zip line.

As far as moms go, I am not particularly a worrisome person.  Many years ago I put them in the hands of the Lord and I just let them have their fun with some basic safety guidelines.  They know not to play with fire or go in the road or talk to strangers and that seems to about cover it.  But watching them walk on top of the train, I briefly thought maybe I shouldn't let them do that.  But they have been doing it without injury for so long, I reasoned it was okay.

Not five minutes later I hear a scream and along comes one of the kids we were keeping.  He left a nice trail of blood as he came.  The girls came behind wondering if they should film it for a possible scene in some future movie.  He had not fallen off the train as I suspected but had cut his toe on something.  I thought that was good because how lame would it be if I had the forethought to tell them to get down and I didn't and then someone, not even our kid, got hurt.  I grabbed a towel and was holding pressure on the wound when almost immediately, I heard another scream, also from the playground.  This time Elisabeth came along telling us she was trying to get off the train to tell us Josiah was hurt when she tripped and hit the back of her head.  She had tears in her eyes which meant it must have really hurt.  Ellie never cries when she is hurt.

I tried to take the towel off of Josiah's toe but the blood was still coming pretty good.  He was beginning to worry about infection setting in and the necessity for stitches.

Don't you love the difference between boys and girls?  I think girls get a bad rap here.  All you ever hear is how weak they are but when it comes to injury or illness I find girls to have a much stronger constitution for sure.

Without even looking at her head, I told Elisabeth to go to the house and get an ice pack from the freezer.  As she turned to walk away I see her blond curls were covered with blond and down the back of her dress was soaked with red.

Anyway, they are both okay now and no one needed stitches.  But that was the end of writing.  The interesting thing is I had left off with the note to write about having no promise for tomorrow.  Read on to see the significance of God's timing.   

Just to refresh your memory, the reader question we are discussing is...

Do you ever argue? Or do you always get along? 

Dear Jenny,

What is the point in arguing?  It is such a waste of time, an incredible energy sink, and ultimately, it solves nothing.  I come from a family of arguers and a long heritage of divorce and bitterness.  I can tell you there is no good to come from it.  We would all do well to carefully apply the Biblical principles for dealing with differences of opinion, a rift in relationships or marital strife.

To begin this discussion we must come to an agreement and understanding of who we are.  By that I mean, in a Christian marriage we are not just husband and wife but also brother and sister in the Lord.  We are simultaneously held accountable for our behavior in both relationships.  This is a big lot to tow and should be carefully considered by young people considering a marriage relationship. The question is not just can I love, honour and respect this person for the rest of my life as their spouse, but also am I willing to carry the responsibility of this relationship as I would one with any of my Christian brethren.

Quite frankly, I believe if we approach our marriage relationship with that perspective, much arguing and heartbreak in marriage would be avoided.  Consider when you have a difference of opinion with someone from work or church.  Is the first thing we do to stomp off, ignore them, pout or insult them (to their face or behind their back)?

I do know people who openly behave this way all around and that is not what I am talking about.  Those people have many other issues to deal with that extends far beyond this discussion.

I ask this question of those who will go to great lengths to keep peace in other arenas but come home to treat their spouse with very low regard, tolerance or respect.

Most people seem to have a much higher level of tolerance and much more endurance for working things out with others than they do with their spouse.  Consider for a moment the way we approach a disagreement with someone from work or church verses how you might approach it with your husband.  Somewhere along the line someone decided it was normal to have arguments within marriage and that makes it okay and we can act any old way we want and that is okay, too.  However, I am here to tell you, while it may be normal, it is not acceptable, nor is it in God's will for couples to argue, anymore than we are to argue among the brethren or with those in the world.
Galatians 5:13 tells us, "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another."  There are numerous other scriptures which deal in the topic of disagreement among brethren.  I suggest anyone struggling with this issue might read through them and memorize a few, keeping in mind the idea that your spouse is also your brother.

This is not to say there are not times we will disagree or that there won't be topics that should be discussed.  But to say, there is a right way and a wrong way to do so and it doesn't involve arguing.  Thus if we will think of our spouse as someone who should be regarded with the greatest respect and love we will serve each other, and ultimately ourselves (remember we are one flesh) much better in the long run.

Another basic to keep in mind is the admonition in Ephesians 4:26-27 "Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil."  Did you get that?  Being angry is a sin.  Furthermore, the Apostle Paul tells us here that to go to bed without settling problems between us allows Satan to gain ground in our life.  If that is not enough to encourage couples to avoid arguing and settle problems immediately, I don't know what is.

Just deal with things as they come up in an honest and loving way and everyone will be happier.  Why waste a day, a night or days and nights in disagreement with each other when you could be basking in the joy and love you share?

Additionally, the Bible tells us in 1 Peter 3:7 to not be in complete harmony with our spouse hinders our prayers to the Lord. "Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered."  I don't know about you, but I need that lifeline to the LORD.  I don't want to have anything causing static in our communication.

If we back up to the beginning of time with the creation of Adam and Eve and the giving of marriage in the Garden of Eden, we see as a husband and wife we are one flesh. Genesis 2:24 "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."  Let me ask you this?  Have you ever tried to argue with yourself?  How did that work out?  It seems pretty silly doesn't it?  If we really take our marriage vows with the great earnestness with which God intended, then one must wonder how we can argue with our spouse.

In dealing with any relationship the Bible tells us to prefer others over ourselves. Note Romans 12:10, "Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;"  Ouch!  That takes a lot of wind out of most arguments.  Typically, let's face it.  Most of the disagreements I have been privy to between married couples have had to do with one person thinking the other didn't do right by them.  If we are truly putting others needs, feelings and preferences before the other person's we will find much less to argue about.

Oh, and what about humility?  How many people argue because they think they are right or better than the other? Guess what?  We usually aren't right.  And even if we are, if we are arguing it doesn't matter because that is not the way we are to approach things, so we are wrong anyway.  Secondly, we are never better than anyone else and even if we were the minute we thought it, we became prideful so there that one goes out the window, too.  1 Peter 5:5 "Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble."

Then there are the common courteousies like empathy, sympathy, mercy and compassion.  If we have developed such character qualities and are displaying them to our spouse, again we will find less to argue about.  And if there is some disagreement, we would approach it much differently if we are trying to see things from their point of view and using mercy and compassion when viewing their mistakes.

Wives, we are commanded to be in subjection to our husbands.  1 Peter 3:1  "Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;"  How many arguments would be prevented if we truly made that our heart's desire instead of thinking we know what is best?  And before you go on about how you do know best, go back to the beginning of this paragraph.  We are to honour and obey all the time, not just when we think he is right.  And before you go on about how he isn't a Christian, make note that this verse is specifically addressing wives married to lost men.  They are told they will win their husbands by their obedience.

Are you still trying to justify arguing?  Look at Proverbs 31:12 "She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life."  How does arguing do him harm?

1- We undermine his authority
2- we injure feelings
3- we drain emotional energy
4- we drain physical energy (what about all those sleepless nights?)
5- we negatively impact his ministry or work in life by causing distraction or by not carrying our part of being a help meet

And here is a really big one... I can not tell you how many times I have been party to a wife mouthing off to other women, family, etc... about her husband's shortcomings or the argument they had last night.  Wow!  What a way to cause harm to your husband.  Imagine what everyone else thinks when they go home from a conversation like that.  You weaken his testimony to the lost, his standing in the church and undermine his reputation before the world.  Imagine what others are thinking of your husband if you are airing your troubles with the world and then close your mouth, please!

I want to make a note here.  Couples often approach us for advice in various marriage topics or to find a solution to a problem.  I am not talking about that.  There is no shame or harm in seeking Godly counsel.  In fact, I believe it is a Biblical principle to seek help to improve your marriage when necessary.  But make sure you are speaking in confidence, in kindness, in love and that you are truly seeking counsel and not just griping because you didn't get your way in an argument.  I daresay, you might also consider seeking your husband's approval before you go to another lady for counsel.

One last thing to consider before we leave the topic of arguing... According to Proverbs 27:1 we have  no promise of tomorrow.  "Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth."

My one goal as I set out this morning was to finish this last point and get this post published.  Remember, I explained in the beginning how it was stopped dead in its tracks until today because of the dual injury on the playground.  So, bright and early I sat in the garden doing my study.  Later the family joined us for devotions.  After I tucked Carmella in for her nap, I returned to the same spot to finish a study I was working on.  Allen and the boys were mulching nearby.  It was so gorgeous out and everything seemed perfect in the world.  But for some people we know and love their lives were about to be changed forever.  

Within a few hours time, before lunch time even arrived, we received word of not one but two deaths within our church family.  The immediate thought came to my mind was the topic I was hoping to write on.  We do not know when our last breath, or the last breath of a loved one, will happen.  Not one of us, lost or saved, has a promise for another minute, hour or day.  What is it you want to leave behind?  Do you want to have unsettled business that you wish you had gotten right before your loved one left this earth?  Do you want to leave others wishing you had taken care of business?  Do you want to waste what might be your last minutes, days or hours with unproductive arguing?  

Live every minute as if it is your last and when dealing with relationships you won't go wrong.  If you put things in the perspective that you may not have another day to love the person before you, you will find most things aren't worth arguing over.  

Brother Harry lost his sweet Lily with no warning after more than 5 decades of loving each other and raising their family for God's glory.  This afternoon I know his heart is aching violently.  I know he longs to have one more minute with her.  And I am sure, as he is reflecting on their earthly life together, the last thing he is wishing for is more time he could spend arguing.  And believe me, brother Harry loves to argue!

So, I ask you again.  What is the point?  Make peace, give in a little and love the one God has given you.  It will make for a happier spouse, a happier you and a happier marriage.

To read about the Biblical approach to settling disagreements, stop back for part 3... coming soon.

June 24, 2012

Call To Worship

No church home to visit today?  Stuck at home sick?  Wondering what it is those Christians do, anyway?  Join us in worship via live stream.  This post is put up each Sunday as a service to those who want to grow closer to the Lord or enrich their spiritual life.  If you do not like what you hear, you merely need to hit that red "X" in the top right hand corner of your screen.

Worship Service at 10:30 AM
Evening Service 5:00 PM

1.  Go here and click on the Live Stream tab.
3.  Click on the play arrow in the middle of the video box.  They usually have the live streaming up a few minutes before service starts.  If it isn't up when you open the page click on the arrow in a few more minutes.
4.  You can click the 4 arrows in the bottom right hand corner of the viewing window to make the picture full screen.  To return to the viewing box size, tap your computers ESCAPE key.

If you would like to learn more about VBC you can visit our website here and Facebook page here.

I'd love for you to leave a comment and let me know that you were here today.  Leave your questions and contact info and I will get back to you.  Or, as always, if you prefer a private discussion, click my email button on the side bar.

June 23, 2012

Easy Hollandaise Sauce

I promised this recipe to a friend back in May.  Since then there has been a pink post it note on my lap top reminding me to post it.  You wouldn't think it would be that hard since it is just a few ingredients and all the steps are in my head, would you?  I couldn't remember the exact proportions and getting from the computer to the recipe box at the same time seems to be an elusive goal sometimes.

This is a fabulous recipe. I found it in a recipe book back when Allen and I were first married.  The old fashioned method for Hollandaise sauce was way too  much trouble to be worth it.  However, I discovered my hubby would eat just about any vegetable if I put some sauce on top.  So we can thank all the eggs and butter in this recipe for his healthier lifestyle today.  Figure that one out, okay.  While you chew it over I will tell you today he loves veggies, even without the sauce, as long as he has some meat on the side.  Remember that discussion about how our happy marriage was all about compromise?

This is perfect over some roasted asparagus, grilled fish, leftover beef or eggs Benedict.  In fact, there is nothing I have found that isn't a little more delicious with some Hollandaise over top.

It doesn't seem like a large batch but it goes a long way and unless we have company one does it for our family... and remember I said we really like this stuff.  If you need to double it, make two batches.  It does not come out if you increase the measurements.  I suspect it has to do with it being too  much mass to cook the egg properly, but I have tried it many times and it never works.  This does not really reheat well so make it just before sitting down to eat or plan on serving at room temperature, which I think is quite nice in its own way.  


2 egg yolks (freeze the whites for another recipe or save them to toss in an omelet or scrambled eggs for breakfast)

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon salt.

6 Tablespoons butter

1.  Mix lemon juice, salt and egg yolk in blender until combined and a little frothy.
2.  Melt butter in microwave safe dish until hot and bubbly (I use a Pyrex measuring cup)
3.  With blender running, pour bubbling butter into egg mixture through the top spot.  The butter must be right from the microwave bubbling in order to properly cook the egg.  Let the blender run until all the butter is added and sauce is thickened.

June 22, 2012

Home Made Ketchup

It's that time of year again when we trade in our crock pot evenings for cooking on the grill.  Once upon a time that would mean packing it away until October arrives with busy days of school and cool evenings.  But my crock pots have both been hard all work all week as we make and bottle our ketchup and BBQ sauce for the year to come.

We started making our own condiments some time ago.  I can not actually remember the last time we regularly bought salad dressing.

About five or six years ago we were at a friends house when I tasted the best BBQ in the world.  After much coaxing I convinced "Aunt Shirley" to share her top secret recipe.  I've been making it ever since.  Northerners, Southerners and everyone in between tells me it is the best they have ever tasted.  It is quick, easy, cheap and much healthier than those ones in the market filled with chemicals, preservatives and high fructose corn syrup.  So why would we do it any other way?  Doing it in the crock pot takes longer but cuts down on the heat in the kitchen and means there is less need to watch it.

When a friend tasted my BBQ she shared with me her family recipe for ketchup.  I had always wanted to try homemade ketchup but had never gotten around to it.  Teresa gave me the push I needed.  And I am so glad!  This stuff is nothing like what Heinz puts in the bottle.  I was never a ketchup eater before but my family loved it.  They won't eat store bought anymore after eating this.  It is one of those things that makes us long for home when we are traveling.

This week we tried two new variations which I will include.  The family voted this morning as to their favorite.  Our classic, the new recipe and the spicy recipe.  The new recipe and the spicy recipe tied for first place.

Teresa's Home made Catsup (that's how she spells it)
Recipe 92 ounces (2 cans) tomato juice (or tomato puree)
1 cup vinegar
5 cups sugar (white or brown) I think honey would be delicious but it is so expensive around here I have never tried it.
1 can tomato paste
4 teaspoons cinnamon (reduce if you would like a milder flavor)
4 teaspoons mustard seed
2 teaspoons ground cloves
2 teaspoons red pepper (ground cayenne, paprika or red pepper flakes)

Wachter Spicy Ketchup
92 ounces tomato juice or tomato puree
1 cup vinegar
5 cups sugar
1 can tomato paste
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

I just throw all the herbs into my pot.  If you would like your ketchup to be more red like the store bought kind you could get cinnamon stick and whole cloves and put them in an herb bag with the mustard seeds.

That's all there is to it.  Now turn it on, bring it to a boil, reduce to a very slow simmer and let it go uncovered until it reaches the consistency you like.  As everyone walks through the kitchen they just have to stop and stir and taste.  If you don't have as many people you might want to stir every hour or two.  This is important as it reaches the final stages of thickening so it doesn't start to burn around the edges and ruin the flavor of the whole pot.  (You know how crock pots can be like that.)  On the stove top you must stir more frequently.  It will take about three hours.

If you put the herbs directly in the pot, the ketchup will be more brown like BBQ sauce than the red you typically see in the grocery store stuff.  Keep tasting it so you don't inadvertently burn the flavor.  In my crock pot this takes about a day.  I put it on the first day and let it simmer all day.  When I go to bed I turn it off and put the lid on.  In the morning, I turn it on high and get it heated up for an hour or so and then remove the lid and turn it to low.  It cooks like that until the second evening.

When it reaches the done state, I bottle and process in a water bath canner.  If I don't feel like messing with the canner, I put it in containers in the spare fridge until I am canning other stuff.  The batches we made this week were a new experiment for us.

Teresa told me her family stores theirs in vintage coke bottles.  We happen to have a lot of neat soda bottles and a shortage of canning jars.  We ordered caps and a capper from Amazon and bottled it up.

The cost was the same as a case of canning jars and who doesn't love finding a way to use something you already have sitting around?  We are loving the look as much as the flavor!

June 21, 2012

Summer Sabbatical

But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the Lord: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard. 

Sometimes you need to step back, breath deep and spend some time filling the tank for the next season to come.  We've been going hard for the last two years with babies, school, church, ministry, work, growing kids and all the trials that have been working on us and growing us for Him.  Demands have not even allowed for the time we typically build into our schedule for rest, refueling and family.  It has been a good run and we have been blessed to see God doing amazing things in our family, our ministry and in the lives of those we are blessed to know.

But we are tired.  In a good way.  Like the tired you feel at the end of a long day in the garden or doing some other manual labor.  So we are taking a sabbatical this summer.  God commanded the Israelites to take a year of rest every seven years.  We are not taking a whole year off, just the summer.  And we aren't technically taking a Sabbatical because, thanks to the early warm spell and lots of rain, we are enjoying some hard work in the gardens and harvesting the best crops we've seen for several years.

But  we are spending a lot of time with the Lord.  And we are spending a lot of time with each other.  We are spending much time doing fun things that have been pushed aside for more necessary endeavors.

We are celebrating... 2 baby showers... 2 bridal showers...
father's day... 
my brother Frank's birthday

Samuel's birthday... 
and Carmella's first birthday is just around the corner!
They are making movies... those wonderful and creative clowns of mine...
Carmella LOVES the pool in a super big way!
playing games 
...sewing, painting, cooking, reading, 
Behind that book, you see Emma Rose is swimming and reading

...writing (yes, I hope to write those long overdue thank you notes from my birthday) singing, knitting, visiting...
And spending some time doing nothing...
Breathing... we are just breathing for a change.  That's the way to sum it up.

But above all, our primary goal is to strengthen our roots with the Lord.  Everyone has chosen a different way to accomplish this task.

The girls are doing an intense Bible study together to challenge each other to grow and do more for the Lord in the coming year.  Allen and I are enjoying watching how much they have accomplished in just a few short weeks.  They have such a great peer relationship.  Mostly you see kids drag each other down.  One does something wrong and all the rest follow.  But these girls humble me.  One does something great and the others rise to the occasion to meet them.  And before you know the younger kids are trying to keep up, too.
Brianna pointed out she is in her PJ's and no one has makeup on... but it is summer, so there you have it.

The boys wanted a summer reading challenge.  Years ago the local library would give them a list of tasks to accomplish through reading and at the end there were rewards for a job well done.  But the last few years they were simply to log reading hours.  The kids felt this was a bum challenge because they already read all the time.  When the boys decided they were going to read through the New Testament this summer we made a game out of it.  I grabbed a calendar and filled in a challenge for each day of reading.

*If you read Mark 9-10 today tell Mama the best thing you read
*After you read Luke 8-9 write on the white board the three languages the Bible was written in
*Tell us what you learned today from John 3-4
*Find three Bible people whose names start with A
*Read Luke 18-19 in the hammock today
*Text your favorite verse from Luke 14-15 to Aunt Dawn

Etc... After finishing the New Testament each boy will receive $30 to put in the envelope where they are saving money to buy their ticket to Disney World.  (When they each save enough for their own ticket Pa agrees to pay for lodging for the family to take a trip.)

In the meantime, I am completely enjoying a very in depth study in the book of Jude.  During the month of July, I hope to tarry in 1, 2 and 3 John.  And August will be devoted to 1 and 2 Peter.  One of my favorite things about Summer is being able to sit in the garden early in the morning and hang out with the Lord.  This summer has been quite unusual because it has been so cool.  Many mornings I have carried a blanket out with me to bundle up in temps in the fifties.  Thanks to the cool weather and lots of rain everything looks amazing and it is worth the little chill to be out there.

The little guys are delighted to be going through the Jesus Story book Bible curriculum.  I know I have mentioned before how much I love this little book for kids.  It is the gift I give to all new parents and preschoolers.  Not only does it give an amazing understanding of the Gospel woven through the entire Bible, but it gives a new and clear perspective on so many things that as an adult I never caught before.

I was ordering a copy for a little friend who is turning two this summer when I saw they now have a Sunday school curriculum.  Even though Sam and Ellie know it inside and outside they are tickled to be going through their work books and enjoying the little videos that accompany each story.  This is written for a church Sunday school program and would be captivating to any young child.  And Okay, my big kids are captivated by it, too.

So there you have it.  A quick, not really, summary of the Wachter summer sabbatical.  As the fancy strikes I will stop back with photos and updates on...

*The Games of Summer
*The Food of Summer
*What We Are Reading

and  some of our favorite events as we piddle around making memories together.

June 17, 2012

Call to Worship

No church home to visit today?  Stuck at home sick?  Wondering what it is those Christians do, anyway?  Join us in worship via live stream.  This post is put up each Sunday as a service to those who want to grow closer to the Lord or enrich their spiritual life.  If you do not like what you hear, you merely need to hit that red "X" in the top right hand corner of your screen.

Worship Service at 10:30 AM
Evening Service 5:00 PM

1.  Go here and click on the Live Stream tab.
3.  Click on the play arrow in the middle of the video box.  They usually have the live streaming up a few minutes before service starts.  If it isn't up when you open the page click on the arrow in a few more minutes.
4.  You can click the 4 arrows in the bottom right hand corner of the viewing window to make the picture full screen.  To return to the viewing box size, tap your computers ESCAPE key.

If you would like to learn more about VBC you can visit our website here and Facebook page here.

I'd love for you to leave a comment and let me know that you were here today.  Leave your questions and contact info and I will get back to you.  Or, as always, if you prefer a private discussion, click my email button on the side bar.

June 16, 2012

Children Welcome but Please Check Your Germs At the Door

Okay.  Hold on to your seats because I am going to rant for a while and it might not be pretty.  ☺

But seriously, here is the deal.  Our family has not had a solid night sleep since the first week of May.  We have missed church services.  We have prayed and worried and poured medicine into the bodies of  three of our children.

And why?

Because no good deed goes unpunished.  (My mom used to say that.)

No, really.  Twice since March, friends have asked us to watch their children.  When they arrived they were sick.  Both times the children were running fevers and had runny noses.  The second time the child brought a bag of medicine with her and had a hacking cough.  There is no way these Mama's did not know their children were ill.

It may not seem like a big deal to you but to a family of ten and a family with asthma sufferers it is a HUGE deal.

A simple cold that will come and go in a week for a small family can take months to cycle through a family our size.  All the while we miss church and other activities while we stay home to prevent spreading it to anyone else.

To make matters worse, in addition to myself, three of our children have asthmatic tendencies.  What does that mean?  A simple cold takes weeks or even months to get out of the lungs. And all the while we sit up with kids in steam showers, listening to the terrible bark of an asthma attack as they try to get air.  The last three nights Aedan has had to receive breathing treatments three times that of an adult just to relax his lungs enough that he could to go to sleep.

If you have never woken in the middle of the night to be sure your child was still breathing then you can't begin to understand the impact a simple cold can have.  So, I am here to tell you.  Perhaps, next time your child is sick,  you will consider the impact it will have on others before you send them to school, take them visiting drop them off in the church nursery or leave them with a friend to babysit.

Because the thing is, maybe we would have gotten sick anyway, but do you want to be the one responsible?

June 15, 2012

An Early Bird Married to a Night Owl

This morning I received this question from reader Jenny Z.  There are some people who just make you think.  Jenny seems to be one of them!  I love to be challenged.

(Oh, and I know I didn't answer the ones about bedrooms and groceries yet... but they are coming.  We are in the middle of a remodel in the girls' bedroom and I want to wait until we are finished to make a new home tour video.  Hopefully, by the end of summer it will be posted here.)

In the meantime, keep the questions coming.
Do you ever argue? Or do you always get along? Do you go to bed before him, since you get up early? If he is a night owl, does he sleep later than you? Just curious, my husband us a night owl and I am not. It can cause problems.

Dear Jenny,

I am going to start with the quick answer.  Night owl verses early riser can be a challenge to any marriage especially if you frequently have limited hours alone together as we do.  This became more complicated as our children have gotten older.  Our girls love to sit up and visit with us after the younger children have been tucked into bed.  These have become beautiful times of building relationships, having important talks and building special memories.  We wouldn't trade it for anything.  We are so grateful for the tying of heartstrings and the sheer concept that our young adults WANT to be with us instead of our with friends.  But it sure makes our time alone later and later.  

My hubby does love to stay up late and often says he does his best work late at night.

I don't mind staying up late but I hate sleeping in.  My mind shuts down around 6 pm and if I haven't done it by then, you can forget about it happening if it requires any kind of thinking skills.

We absolutely never go to bed separate.  As a matter of fact, we are so in the habit of going to bed together,   we both find it very difficult to sleep when we are separated for any reason.  Maybe once or twice a year, I will be feeling poorly or just plain worn out and crawl into bed before Allen.  A month or so ago I had a nasty cold and had a very long sleepless night.  Sunday after dinner I took my bath and the bed looked so inviting I laid right down and started drifting off.  This was so alarming to the children.  One by one they descended on me to inquire if I was a) pregnant b) sick c) upset.  So you see, it is very out of the ordinary for us to retire separately.

So what is a couple like us to do?  We compromise.  As is the case with most everything in a successful marriage.

I stay in bed until 6 am even if I wake up earlier.  Which I almost always do.  Allen tries to rise earlier, even though he would rather sleep longer.

I stay up until 11 or so 12 with Allen.  We aim for 11 but often, if we are watching a video, I will drift off and he will watch til the end while I rest on the couch.  Which is fine for me.  In exchange he tries to be disciplined about getting us up to bed by 11 so we get 6-7 hours of sleep.  This is not the ideal amount of sleep but we find we do well on it and it has made for a good marriage.  If he is not ready for sleep when we go up, he will read his Bible on his iPhone so he doesn't need to turn the light on.

There are two more things that help us with this compromise.  Once I drift off I find it very difficult to go back to sleep if I am wakened.  I make a point of brushing my teeth before I get comfortable so I don't get too awake when we go up to bed.  Everyone else makes a point of not engaging me too much so as to get my brain too stimulated.

Since I tend to wake very early, no matter how much sleep I have gotten, I try to lie down for a few minutes during the kids rest time if I am sleepy so I don't get  a migraine or become too exhausted before Allen gets off work.  Once in a while, we even get to nap together.  And if you have never enjoyed an afternoon nap with your hubby, I suggest you find out what you are missing.    

Part 2 to follow

June 14, 2012

The Little Things

In my experience, it is the little ways we express our love which make the most impact.

Oh, don't get me wrong, grand gestures like bling, a special trip for two or a beautiful bouquet of flowers are nice to give and receive.  However, the day to day ways we show each other we are thinking about them are often the touches that keep us going through the trenches of life and keep those heartstrings tied tight, even when we are separated.

My hubby excels at little things.

Something so small as a dab of toothpaste, is a big reminder that someone is thinking about me.  Oh, you might giggle but I am a simple girl.  It makes my heart swell when I walk into the bathroom and find my tooth brush on the edge of the sink all ready to go at the end of an exhausting day.

I have had enough dental problems that I tend to be a little obsessed with oral hygiene.  My hubby uses that to his wooing advantage.

Last year we were 8 hours or so into a 16 hour drive when we got word that the fire department had been called to our home for a chimney fire.  I was in the midst of studying for a difficult final the next day and really burnt out myself.  Several kids were sick and the baby had thrown up all over me.  We stopped for a break, stretched our legs and used the rest room.

When we got back to the car my husband presented me with a package of dental floss from the gas station store.  He remembered I had ran out the night before.  He remembered how important it is for me to floss after meals.  It seems like a little thing, but for me it was HUGE.  It soothed my frazzled nerves in a big way.

Each morning, I like to get up before the family and spend 1-2 hours studying and praying and reading my Bible before the day gets crazy.  Allen does NOT like to get up or do anything early in the morning.  His mom tells me that comes from her side of the family.   Still, just about every morning he drags himself out of slumber to bring my favorite cup filled with coffee and a sprinkle of vanilla sugar on top.

One of the things we really have to work on diligently is staying connected when Allen travels for work.  This is the greatest struggle in our marriage.  My love language is time.  It doesn't have to be much, but I need a dose every day.  Just saying.  When my hubby is gone for a day or more I start feeling alone.  One way we find victory is to keep an eye out for ways to show each other we are together, even when we aren't.  We also keep a repertoire of ways to reconnect emotionally after travel days.  But that is another post.

Text and cell phones really help with this.  Picture text is even better for a family with lots of growing children at home.  I remember the days when Allen would be gone for weeks and we would have little to no contact at all.  But thanks to modern technology we can have a dialogue no matter how many miles are between us.  But its still the little things that keep my heart singing throughout the day.

Wednesday is the dreaded weekly travel day.  This morning I got up to find my favorite cup next to the coffee maker...
 and this note on top of the machine.

It may be a little thing, but it keeps my heart pining for the someone sweet who will walk through the door at the end of the day.

What little things can you do today to make your marriage tie a little tighter?

June 12, 2012

Samuel's 7th Birthday

Our Samuel celebrated his 7th birthday today.  He is such an enthusiastic and energetic boy. It is hard to not be excited around him.  He is always raring at the bit and ready to go and do and be and eat up all of life that he can.  He has been like that since he was born.  He was delivered by the nurse who was checking us into the hospital that day because he couldn't wait for the doctor to arrive.  I don't think he has stopped moving since.  
In March, Aunt Dawn gifted the children with an enormous tent.  They set it up and had fun playing in a few times but the weather has been wet and/or too cool to sleep in it most nights.  Samuel requested a camp for his birthday celebration.
 We dug out the old sleeping bags
 And revived camp Wachter
 Breakfast was camp pies with strawberry jam.
 Ellie shares a little birthday love with her big brother and best friend.
 Emma Rose, Nathaniel and Aedan outdid themselves.  The kids are really enjoying playing Clue this summer.  Aedan got the idea to make a Jonathan Park Clue.  Jonathan Park is Samuel's obsession.
 I can not get over how clever it was.  Each detail was well thought out and well drawn out.  They colored their way through several sets of markers.  From the game board with all the rooms you might find in the Creation Museum
 right down to the character and weapon cards, nothing was forgotten.  We gave it the first run this morning and had a blast.  Aedan won... he always wins when we play a game.
 Aedan and Nathaniel helped Sammy build a model.
 Aedan gave Sam a camping knife
 The girls planned camp style meals for the day including hot dogs and hobo dinners which are amazingly simply and surprisingly tasty.
 Brianna baked and decorated this campfire cake.  (Lemon flavored with chocolate fudge icing... because I know you are going to ask.  ☺)
Blessings from the family for our little man

Pa-his energy... Samuel is quick to go to God with his problems
Aedan- he is so sharing... when he makes a mistake he is quick to fix it by admitting it and asking for forgiveness
Emma Rose-He is quick to share and offer comfort to others, particularly with his woof-woof
KK- He is so eager to participate in whatever others are doing
Nana- His compassion for others
Mama- His complete unwavering faith and belief in the things of God... the way he looks out for Elisabeth and Carmella
Ellie-He plays with me... He is my best friend
"By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted... " Proverbs 11:11