Thursday, May 31, 2018

This 'n' that

How can someone who is so busy find so little to blog about?  At the very least, I guess I can share some of what I've been up to.  Many readers enjoy random posts ... in fact, I enjoy them myself on other people's blogs.  Let's begin with some kitchen news.

Last week our local supermarket had split chicken breasts (the bone-in type) on a great sale, so on Thursday I bought a package and marinated them as soon as I got home from the store, to make Garlic Lime Chicken, an old favorite.  It sort of kicked off summer, with some purchased potato salad and steamed snow peas.

We had a busy weekend with lots of cooking and eating going on.  I took my favorite Bacon Chive Potato Salad to a cookout with friends on Friday night.  Not much was left to bring home!
My chives are looking really skimpy these days.  I spotted a bunch at my dad's place and am thinking I will transplant them into a large container and bring it home.  I like to use chives in many recipes in place of raw onions or green onions.

I had offered to bake cookies for a graduation party last Saturday.  So I spent a few hours over several days,  baking different kinds.  I like the idea of a varied cookie tray or plate and also the idea of  having tins of different varieties of cookies stashed in the freezer.  This accomplished both.  Here are some of the kinds I made:

Moose Tracks Cookies

Photo from Inside BruCrew Life
Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

Crunchy Toffee Crackle Cookies

Cookie Dough Brownies (I usually omit the nuts on top)

On Monday we had a cookout with our local daughter and family.  Burgers with chips, deviled eggs,  and salads on the side.  I made a roasted sweet potato salad, and my daughter made Greek Pasta Salad, minus the chicken, which is a huge favorite with her kids.  I made a strawberry rhubarb pie for dessert but the filling didn't thicken enough.  It did taste good, thankfully!

I've made Tuna Pasta Salad several times in recent weeks, as I mentioned, I think, in a Hodgepodge post.  It's a favorite warm-weather meal and my hubby loves it.  To lighten things up, rather than serving this with corn muffins as I might usually do, I've been serving it with a tossed salad on the side instead.
Not much happening on the crafting front, though I do have a little sewing project cut out for when I find some time.  I'm crocheting and embroidering in bits and snippets of time here and there.  The Scalloped Potholder pattern is easily memorized and continues to be a favorite of mine.  I'm really itching to get back to sewing and embroidery, but we will see!

I've been trying to walk with a friend nearly every morning, and it's been great.  Tomorrow I plan to take the camera (if I remember) and take some pictures of spring blooms we've been noticing.

Of course, many other things have been going on -- trust responsibilities of all sorts, Sunday School preparation, supporting my hubby in his pastoral search responsibilities,  and also the finding and purchasing of tickets for a fall trip to Nevada.

That's a general wrap-up of what's been going on here.  How has your May been?

Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day

Delightful graphic from Abby at Little Birdie Blessings
Mr. T and I would like to wish all of you a very blessed and meaningful Memorial Day.  Celebrated on the last Monday in May, this is a day to honor all who have died in service to our country.  Our Sunday newspaper yesterday showed an editorial cartoon depicting the tomb of the unknowns and a phrase something like this: "We don't know them all ... but we owe them all."  So very, very true.  This way of life that we enjoy ... this privilege of living "a quiet and peaceable life" ... is due to their sacrifice.

Here in New Hampshire, we often take some time on this day to visit our cemeteries,  taking plants or silk flowers, or even a jar of lilacs, to decorate the graves of our loved ones.  This morning, Mr. T and I took a hanging plant and a shepherd's hook to place at the grave site of my parents and siblings.  There was a lot of coming and going at the cemetery today.  In fact, heading out toward the gate, we met my aunt and uncle coming in.

Later today, we will be enjoying a cookout with our daughter and family.  I'm bringing a roasted sweet potato salad and a strawberry rhubarb pie.

We hope that you've been enjoying the day with your family and friends, with parades, picnics, cookouts, or other activities, but that you'll take a moment sometime today, and remember the brave men and women who gave their all so that we could be free.  If you have young children, take time to remind them of what this holiday is really all about. 

And don't forget to pray for those equally brave men and women who are serving our country in difficult places right now. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

May 23 Hodgepodge

Wednesday again, and I'm late for the Hodgepodge with Joyce and friends at From This Side of the Pond.  It's not too late though, to get in on the fun -- so hurry on over, copy the questions, then  paste and answer them on your own blog.  Then zip back over to Joyce's to link up.   Here are this week's questions:

1. The last place you visited/patronized where you felt like you were given 'the royal treatment'?

Probably the York Harbor Inn during our two-day getaway in mid-April.  There is just something about enjoying a bountiful buffet breakfast in a classy dining room with a view of the ocean, with cloth napkins, and a genial server replenishing your coffee.

2. The last task you completed that was a 'royal pain'?  

I'm still working on completing some state-required forms, so I can't say it's actually a completed task yet  -- but just selling various items as stipulated by the terms of a trust is time-consuming and wearisome.
These are the flowers of the maple tree!
3. How have your strengths helped you succeed? How have your faults hindered you?

Oh, one of those dreaded thought questions! One of my strengths (which God has grown in me over the passing of time) is the ability to persevere, plugging away at something until it's finished.  That has helped me to finish handmade gifts, write kids' devotional books, blog, survive seasons of eldercare and other very difficult times.  One of my worst faults is procrastination, and that has seriously hindered me from accomplishing all that I would like to. 

4. If you found a remote that could rewind, fast forward, stop and start time, what would you do with it?

Throw it away.

5. Any special plans for the Memorial Day weekend? Will you in some way honor or recognize the meaning of this day (remembering people who died in service to their country)? Have you ever been to Arlington National Cemetery? Does your town do anything special to mark the day?

We're invited to a cookout on Friday night, a graduation party on Saturday afternoon -- and, if my hubby ends up with Monday off, will probably grill with our daughter and family.

We will likely take some flowers to my dad's grave -- he was a World War II veteran who sacrificed much in the service of his country.  If we get together with the grandkids on Monday, maybe we'll re-read the photo book I made about him.

Yes, I have been to Arlington National Cemetery.  A very moving experience.

Our town does still have a Memorial Day parade -- I just checked.  Maybe if Mr. T is off from work, we will try and attend.

6.  Insert your own random thought here. 

Trying to pull my thoughts together for a Christmas Club meeting today.  It's been awhile since we met, and I haven't even found time to post in my own Christmas blog, though I have ideas for posts.    It'll be fun to get together, anyway.
Pretty much the view from my window right now.
Another Hodgepodge in the books.  Happy Wednesday, all!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Quote of the day

(Nevada ranch at top)
Recently, for the second time, I came upon this quote while studying for my Sunday School lesson.  It spoke to my heart (both times) and I felt it might be a blessing to others as well.  It is in reference to Matthew 11:29, where Jesus says, "I am meek and lowly in heart."

Here is the quote, by Walter Wright:

“What an astonishingly wonderful statement!  The One who made the worlds, who flung the stars into space and calls them by name, who preserves the innumerable constellations in their courses, who weighs the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance, who takes up the isles as a very  little thing, who holds the waters of the oceans in the hollow of His hand, before whom the inhabitants of the earth are as grasshoppers, when he comes into human life finds Himself as essentially meek and lowly in heart.”
South central Idaho
Mr. Wright's words call to mind Isaiah 40:12 -- "Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?"
Mid-coast Maine
They also allude to Isaiah 40:15: "Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance; behold, He taketh up the isles as a very little thing."
Castleford, Idaho
Ely, Nevada area
And also to Isaiah 40:21-22: "Have ye not known?  have ye not heard?  hath it not been told you from the beginning?  have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth?  It is He that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in."
Sunset, Bliss, Idaho
And lastly, Isaiah 40:26: "Lift up your eyes on high, and behold Who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number; He calleth them all by names by the greatness of His might, for that He is strong in power; not one faileth."
Night sky over Back Lake, Pittsburg, New Hampshire
Consider these truths about our God and be blessed and encouraged today!

Friday, May 18, 2018

Steadfast, unmovable, always abounding

This beautiful, most meaningful graphic is from Abby at Little Birdie Blessings
Just finished up my informal but very profitable study that I based on Charles Swindoll's Come Before Winter.  Very encouraging.  The book is set up with daily devotional readings -- really, essays, I would say.  Each one includes a section titled Come Aside, in which further Scripture and application ideas are suggested.    I based my study on these suggestions, but I also jotted down thoughts and ideas that occurred to me, as well as pithy statements from the author,  as I read each essay.

The final reading was titled "My Lord and His Return" and centered on how believers should live while they wait for Christ's return.  I found it tremendously encouraging and helpful to push me to just keep on keeping on, so naturally enough I thought others might be blessed by this as well.

Swindoll writes that the Bible "is full and running over with promises and encouragements directly related to Christ's return.  In the New Testament alone, the events related to His coming are mentioned over three hundred times."

He adds [I am paraphrasing in places; this is from my notes]: "The return of the Savior will continue to be attacked, misused, and denied by skeptics and cynics.  But there it stands, solid as a stone, soon to be fulfilled, ready to offer us hope and encouragement amidst despair and unbelief.

"What should we be doing in the meantime?  We get our act together.  We live every day (as if it's our last) for His glory.  We work diligently on our jobs and in our homes for His name's sake.  We shake out salt every chance we get ... and shine the light ... and remain balanced, cheerful, winsome, and stable, anticipating His return day by day."

For the Come Aside section, the assignment was to review 1 Corinthians 15:50-58, "soaking up the glory and encouragement", and to commit ourselves afresh to the goals in verse 58, asking the Lord to make clear to us any slackness in our own faith or obedience.

So here is 1 Corinthians 15:58:

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."

And below are my thoughts.

These are such wonderful goals:
* Be steadfast
* Be unmovable
* Be always abounding in God's work

* Because I know that my labor is not in vain in the Lord.

And these have been my goals and my motivation.  But these last few years have been challenging ones.  I see others who are not steadfast, who have been easily moved, who have either given up abounding in God's work or never began.  This does not discourage me in my personal walk with the Lord (although obviously I must keep my eyes on Him and not other people), but I do find it a bit disheartening.  That said, I know I'm not the only one.  I recently was challenged by this post from Sarah Beals, for example.

However!  What others do or don't do should have no bearing on my personal commitment to the Lord.  I can and must keep on keeping on.  My service is to be done as unto Him, and as such it is not in vain!

May we as believers recommit to shaking out salt, shining light, and living life to God's glory every day.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Mid-May Hodgepodge!

 Not sure how this happened so fast, but it's Wednesday again, and time for the Hodgepodge with Joyce and friends at From This Side of the Pond.  Go on over, copy the questions, then  paste and answer them on your own blog.  Then zip back over to Joyce's to link up.   Here are this week's questions:

1. What would you say is your biggest day to day challenge?

Trying to keep my priorities in good order and my head above water.  Most days I feel I'm drowning in responsibilities.
Prayer is one of my priorities.
2. May 16th is National Biographers Day. What's a biography you really enjoyed reading? Is this a genre you read regularly?

Hmmm ... it's been awhile since I read a biography.  A long while, since I can't even remember one I enjoyed reading.  Nope, not a genre I read regularly, though sometimes I will pick one up.

3. How important is keeping a clean house? Do you need to de-clutter your life?

The old saying "my home is clean enough to be healthy and messy enough to be happy" (or something like that) probably applies to me.  I do like a clean house, but usually it isn't a top priority to have things spotless.  Neat enough, especially in the downstairs, but not spotless.  Yes, I do need to declutter my life AND my home.  I have a couple of areas in the living room -- a cedar chest and a large round table -- that I've been able to keep free of flat-surface clutter for many weeks now.  Pretty pleased about that.  Lots and lots more decluttering to do, however.

4. You're the 8th dwarf. What's your name?

I spent a little time thinking about this question -- probably more time than it warranted.  I came up with a few possibilities, but in the end I decided to go with my first choice -- Ornery.
Antique card from my collection
5. What's surprised you the most about your life or life in general?

 This is completely God's doing and to His glory, but the pre-salvation me would be very surprised to see how happy and fulfilling my life has been.

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

Had a great weekend, with an overnight getaway in Vermont on Friday/Saturday, a good day in church Sunday and a fun time of celebrating our son-in-law's birthday and Mother's Day on Sunday evening.  Hopefully in a day or two I can write a post about our wonderful getaway.
Breakfast time at the Innsbruck Inn
Innsbruck Inn. Stowe, VT
So ends another Hodgepodge!  Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

This morning in the wildflower garden

This morning I took a quick stroll into the wildflower garden to see what is blooming.  I didn't take any new photos because the black flies are pretty horrendous today.

I spied a painted trillium (seen at top) over on the left side of the garden.  It's pretty much the only thing over there right now so I was delighted to see it.

The bloodroot flowers are gone -- they are very short-lived -- but the pretty, sort of tropical-looking leaves remain.  So just picture the leaves without the flowers.

There are loads of pretty white wind anemones.

Purple violets add a nice note of color there and there.

There is also a bit of goldthread.  I guess I haven't taken any photos of this before, so I had to resort to one from a wildflower site.  I didn't realize until I looked this up that goldthread may actually be a folk remedy for certain conditions.  Many of the wildflowers in this little garden were given to my daughter by others; I'm pretty sure her grandfather contributed the goldthread.  He knew all the wildflowers and just where to find them.
This photo is from Wildflowers of the Adirondacks.
Outside the garden in a different area is this pretty yellow clintonia, also called blue bead lily.

And down at my dad's I snapped this rather dull-looking photo with my Kindle while being swarmed by black flies.  If I think of it I'll try to get one with the camera tomorrow.

It's a yellow violet.  He brought this plant home from somewhere, years and years ago.  It seems there aren't very many of the yellow ones around the yard anymore like there used to be.

And that's the wildflower report for May 15!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Happy Mother's Day!

I'd like to wish all of the moms among my readers a very happy and blessed Mother's Day!  I hope you get to spend the day doing something you enjoy and perhaps celebrating with some of your children if that is possible.  Being a mother is a privilege but such a challenge as well.

For those who are hurting today ... and I know Mother's Day can be difficult for many reasons ... please know that God sees and understands, and wants to comfort and bless you today.

As I mentioned last year,  I really think that we need to celebrate all ladies on this special day, because even though some may not have borne children of our own, we all have had opportunities to nurture others in one way or another.   In fact, God's plan is that older women will teach the younger ones many important things and will nurture them in the faith.  As I like to remind the ladies in my Sunday School class, each of us is older spiritually or physically than someone else.  Teen girls can be an example to younger ones, for example.  My own daughters were so blessed as little girls to have teen girls to look up to -- and those teens set a very good example indeed.  History repeated itself, and as teenagers themselves, my girls found themselves being looked up to by littler girls.

So wherever this finds you today -- if you are a mom, a grandmother, or a nurturer -- a most blessed Mother's Day to you!

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

May 9 Hodgepodge

 Wednesday again, and time for the Hodgepodge with Joyce and friends at From This Side of the Pond.  Go on over, copy the questions;  paste and answer them on your own blog.  Then go on back over to Joyce's to link up.   Here are this week's questions:

1. What are your ingredients for a perfect Saturday?
Let's see.  My hubby would have the entire day off and we would have no commitments.  We would go out to breakfast, a hearty enough meal that we can skip lunch and take a hike, or at least a nice long walk.  We could perhaps spend a little time talking about how we're doing spiritually or have a time in God's Word together.  In the afternoon we could take a scenic drive that ends up in a supper picnic on a lake shore or riverbank.

2. What skill do you wish more people took the time to learn?

Grammar usage and punctuation.  Misplaced apostrophes trouble me.  I'd like to see proper use of words as well.  Spell check has really turned this into a problem.   For example, "sneak peak" -- which I have seen a hundred times if I've seen it once.  It should be "sneak peek."  A peak is a mountain.  Seen any mountains sneaking around lately?
On Wheeler Peak in Great Basin National Park -- wild turkeys are in the valley below.
3. What's something you ate as a child you can't stand now as an adult?

Hmmm ... remember those little wax bottles with colored sugar water (or something) in them?  They looked like tiny little soda bottles.  The idea was to bite off the end of the bottle, drink the liquid, and then, if one was so inclined, to chew up the bottle.  I did consume one or two of those in my day, though I was more a fan of their cuteness than of their taste.  Something I would never even consider eating these days!  The same is probably true of lots of candies ... Necco wafers, for instance.

Can you believe these things are still being manufactured and sold?  I found them, and the photo, here: Old Time Candy.
4. Something parenting has taught you? If you're not a parent tell us one important lesson you learned from your own parents.

I feel as if I was very inadequate as a parent and that I failed in many ways.  I think I'm learning to leave that with the Lord, realizing that I did the best I could  with what I knew at the time.

One thing I learned from my own parents was how important it is to spend good quality time with grandchildren.  They were so good at it!
Mr. T with Ari
5. Share a favorite quote or saying about mothers or motherhood.

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

Just made the first Tuna Pasta Salad of the season.  It's a warm sunny day and my hubby is back to work now that mud season is over.   He'll have a long commute -- probably an hour and a half -- so I'm sure he'll be tickled to see one of his favorite summer main dishes on the table for supper.
So ends another Hodgepodge.  Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

A thorny problem

Graphic from
If you know me in person -- and possibly if you've been reading my blog long enough to "know" me well -- then you know that seeing others grow spiritually is a passion of mine.  God's plan is for us to grow.  He doesn't want us to stay stuck where we are.

When it's obvious that we aren't growing in the Christian life, we often wonder why.  Sometimes it's really pretty simple.  Sometimes it's a simple matter of starving ourselves. If we take in little or no sustenance from God's Word, and if we have no prayer life, well, our problem is really, to be brutally honest, self-inflicted.  The remedy is right at hand.

But sometimes it's not so simple. 

I've been enjoying my study of Charles Swindoll's Come Before Winter every weekday, digging more deeply into the "Come Aside" Scripture passages with each reading.  One blessing of this informal study time is that the readings are all over the place in the Bible, not in one particular book or section.  Today found me in Mark chapter 4:1-20, looking at the parable of the soils.

You're familiar with this parable, I'm sure.  It tells the story of a sower who sowed some seeds.  The seeds, representing God's Word,  fell on four different types of ground, which represent all sorts of people and the four basic responses they have to spiritual truth.

Every bit as interesting is the fact that the meaning of this parable was actually explained by Jesus Himself when the Twelve asked Him what it meant.  So there is no doubt as to its meaning.  We can't twist it to suit some agenda of our own.

Okay -- so, the four basic responses of people to spiritual things,  as seen in the parable:

1.  Some listen, then instantly reject.  (Mark 4:15)
2.  Others hear, seem to like what they hear,  and even respond well on the surface, but fall away when the going gets tough.  (Mark 4:16-17)
3.  Still others believe what they hear, but later get sidetracked as their growth is choked by thorns.  (Mark 4:18-19)
4.  And still others hear, believe, grow, stick with it, and eventually begin to yield fruit as healthy plants are intended to.  (Mark 4:20)

The first two groups are not truly born again.  As Swindoll puts it, they are "rootless, lifeless, and fruitless."

The fourth group consists of growing, active, serving, fruitful believers.

But the third group is a problem.  They are Christians, and they do grow spiritually ... for awhile.  The truths of God's Word don't become deeply rooted, part of their lives.  Their spiritual growth is stunted.  How does this happen?

It's a thorny issue.  Thorns come in, and they suffocate the normal healthy growth of the plants.  It's interesting to note that the thorns were already there when the seed was sowed, and that they were allowed to take over. 

"And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit."  (Mark 4:7)

Thorny blackberry bushes
What exactly do the thorns represent?  There is no room for doubt here, because Jesus Himself tells us in verse 19.  They represent:

"the cares of this world";
"the deceitfulness of riches";
"the lusts of other things".

Jesus doesn't say that these things might cause a problem, or that it's a possibility they've been known to hinder spiritual growth.  He says:

"Entering in, they choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful."  (Mark 4:19)

These thorns choke God's Word in a believer's life.

As Swindoll notes, the tentacle-like roots of the thorns "advance so slowly, so silently, the victim hardly realizes he's been strangled.  Demanding first place, they ultimately siphon off every ounce of spiritual interest and emotional energy."

The cares of this world may be thought of as worry.  It certainly seems that there is plenty to worry about these days!  Yet what does worry accomplish?  Nothing positive is ever gained by worrying.  Jesus said plainly in Matthew 6:27, "Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?"  Worry distracts us from learning to trust God.  It truly chokes out His Word.

The deceitfulness of riches is another empty, unsatisfying yet consuming thorn.  We somehow think that money and the things it can buy will bring us happiness and satisfaction.  Again, not true.  Proverbs 23:5 asks, "Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not?  For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven."

But the third species of thorn, the lusts [or desires for] other things, may be the most dangerous of all.   It pictures discontentment -- always thinking that something more will make us happy.  If we struggle to be content with our circumstances, we can be quite sure that this species of thorn has something to do with it.  Remember what Paul wrote to Timothy: "Godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out."  (1 Timothy 6:6-7)

Are you living among thorns today?  I've noticed that thorny wild blackberry bushes are some of the first plants to appear every spring.  I can (and often do) cut them down, but unless I address those tentacle-like roots which can stretch in every direction under the surface of the ground, the problem is not really solved.

1 John 2:15-17 may help us address our thorny problems:

"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.  If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

"For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

"And the world passeth away, and the lust of it; but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever."

I'm pretty sure I have a few thorns to uproot.  How about you?