When you are reading here whether you found me intentionally or accidently, please take time to leave a comment and let me know where you are and what you are thinking. I love feed back. Vondi

Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 is over

My yoke has been easy and my burden has been light.

I’ve been reading blogs today and over and over I’ve seen statements to the effect “Thank the Lord this year is over” “Thank the Lord for bringing me through this year.” Some of them were even gloomier than that. “This has been a terrible year. I’m glad it’s over.” “I’m looking forward to the New Year because maybe I can forget all the bad things that happened.”

I have to say that I’ve never had any of these feelings with the coming new year. I’ve had some times in my life when people told me in retrospect, “How did you ever stand that! How did you get through that!” Or they've said, "Oh you poor thing!" But I suppose I’m pretty dense because I never realized that I was having a hard time!

When my dad died, I inherited a piece of property that the state took as part of the new freeway. They offered me a token amount of money for the ‘right-of-way.” The portion they took was only about a half an acre and I suppose the small amount they offered was fair for the amount of land; however the piece of land they appropriated was the only access to the remaining acreage. I was left with a piece of land I could not use. I refused their offer and we went to court.

In his concluding remarks my attorney told the judge (and I’ll condense it. He did a much more heart rending presentation) He said, “Here is this widow. She lost her husband and was left with two young children. A month later she lost her mother. Because of her financial circumstances she was forced to live with her father who in the course of time also passed away. She has raised her two children without any aide from the state. She has never applied for food stamps. She has never asked for ADC. She has never asked for medical assistance. She has worked and supported both herself and the children and is now struggling alone. And she is still not asking for help. All she is asking is a fair reimbursement for the land that the state of Ohio has made useless to her.”
I sat there at the plaintiff’s table and thought “Oh my goodness, that poor woman!" And then I thought “Gracious! He’s talking about ME”

What he was saying was the absolute truth, but I had never realized my situation. I believed and still believe implicitly in the scripture, Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Because God has proven Himself to me over and over. He has given me rest to my soul. He has carried my burdens. He has lifted worry from my mind. He has supplied all my needs at the exact moment when I needed them. In every trial He has made a way of escape.

When I hear about some events in my life from someone else’s point of view I’m sometimes surprised to realize that they are talking about me. So many things have happened that others have sympathized over and I’ve felt a little bit like I’m accepting their compassion under false pretenses. Those events have indeed been occasions in my life, but I’ve never felt the weight of them. I’ve never had reason to sit and bemoan my fate in life. I’ve never worried at my lack of medical insurance for either myself or my children. I’ve had to explain my circumstances a lot of times, but I’ve never felt that there was any reason to moan about them. I’ve never had reason to feel sorry for myself because through my entire life the Lord has carried the weight. All the high places have been brought low and the low places raised and He has made my path smooth before me. He is a fantastic Lord.

I don’t understand those folks who are always crying about how hard they have it or how difficult their circumstances are, because my Lord has never left me alone or helpless in a hard place. He has never left me feeling bereft. Maybe part of the reason is that I’ve never asked for more than I needed and He has always supplied my needs every day. Sometimes I didn’t get a prayer answered immediately but the need was always supplied. He has never left me ‘in the lurch’

There have been times when people have disappointed me. There have been times when ‘good Christians” have let me down. There have been times when even preachers have shocked me with their lack of compassion. But God has never failed me.

I’ve never had occasion to say, “Whew! Thank goodness this awful year is over” He has carried the burden and lifted me up at the same time. He did it so faithfully and lovingly that I never realized the hard places. “I found it so! I found it so!’ Only in looking back when someone pointed it out to me did I realize that maybe those times were hard, but they were blessed by His protecting Hand.
So as the year ends, I want to praise the Lord because He is my Lord. He is my helper, my conforter. He guides me and keeps me. He is always there picking up the greater part of the burden and smoothing the hard places. I praise him because I need not look back on this year with regret or sorrow. I praise Him because there is nothing behind me to be sorry for and there is nothing ahead to fear. How wonderful! Thank you, Lord!

I’ve found my Lord and He is mine,
He won me by His love;
I’ll serve Him all my years of time,
And dwell with Him above.
His yoke is easy, His burden is light,
I’ve found it so, I’ve found it so;
His service is my sweetest delight,
His blessings ever flow.
No other Lord but Christ I know,
I walk with Him alone;
His streams of love forever flow,
Within my heart His throne.
He’s dearer to my heart than life,
He found me lost in sin;
He calmed the sea of inward strife,
And bade me come to Him.
My flesh recoiled before the cross,
And Satan whispered there,
“Thy gain will not repay the loss,
His yoke is hard to bear.”
I’ve tried the road of sin and found,
Its prospects all deceive;
I’ve proved the Lord, and joys abound,
More than I could believe

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

little dogs

I’ve talked about Gabriel when he took his little jaunt around the neighborhood and got returned by the Westerville police. I think I’ve mentioned Sebastian, his littermate. Over the holidays I got them little jackets. Toy fox terriers are tough little dogs. In fact they think they are tougher than they really are. But the winter weather cuts into them quickly. Their hair is short and those little legs are more slender than many people’s fingers. So they do get cold.

Sebastian has keyed in on the idea that if we think he is cold we let him back in quicker so he learned to pretend he is cold, even in 80 degree weather. If he wants in and we happen to look at him he puts his ears back low and hunkers down shivering…. lol Gable doesn’t say he is cold until he really is and if he is acting cold I know it is freezing out.

They still love to go outside and tear around, but I can always tell when it is too chilly for them. On those days they zip out and take care of their business and come right back. The other morning I put them out without realizing how cold it was and they did just that. I felt guilty. A couple hours later when it was time to go out again I put their coats on them. NOW they were set. They whipped out there and told the neighborhood where to get off! No running right back then. They had their coats on and were tougher than the weather!

At any rate, I wanted everyone who is interested to see their macho-jackets.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

navajo tacos

A long time ago we began a tradition in our house. Instead of the traditional turkey, ham or goose (we had that when I was a child) for Christmas dinner, we began to have Mexican food-- tacos, enchiladas, tamale pie, sopapillas, tortilla soup not to mention a pile of tortillas. We made it all from scratch except the corn tortillas. I never learned to make those so we resort to the plastic bag packages.

I remember one of my son's friends and his girlfriend joined us one year. The girl stood watching me as I made tortillas. She asked in amazement, “Can you make those? I thought you had to buy them.” And the enchiladas were even more amazing. “Don’t you ever get them in a can?”

Yesterday, Rachael and I made a modified version of our old meal. We had Navajo tacos, enchiladas and roasted green chilis. The enchiladas were simple enough and anyone who has ever had Mexican food knows what they are. The Navajo tacos were a major production but soooo worth it .

The first time I ever ate Navajo tacos they were made by a navajo cook in a little restaurant over toward Fort Defiance. A Navajo taco is built on a piece of Navajo fry bread instead of the usual tortilla. And you don’t wrap the innards in the bread the way taco bell does. You lay the big slice of frybread flat on the plate and heap everything else on top. The very first one set the standard for Navajo tacos as far as I was concerned. It used slivered mutton and pinto beans fried together with onions, and chopped green chilis with a light tomato sauce. A generous couple spoonfuls of this was heaped on a plate sized piece of frybread. On top of that was a layer of shredded cheese and then lettuce and then chopped tomatoes! A big dollop of sour cream finished it off with salsa around the center. Navajo tacos arent really as manageable as a plain old taco. You eat them with a knife and fork if you don't want a mess. Mmmm.

In consideration of anglo tastes, most Navajo tacos you get around dineh country have switched to hamburger. And our Navajo tacos, because we can’t get decent mutton in Ohio, have beef too. We use a nice roast sliced into thin strips.

Yesterday when Rachael went to get the roast from the freezer to begin slicing it, there was NO beef! Either it had not ever come home from the grocery store or she just plain hadn’t gotten it. The essence of Navajo cooking is practicality. Navajo women have fed their families from what ever was available for hundreds of years. We had a nice pork roast so our Navojo tacos were made of pork and pinto beans, two steps removed from the good old mutton. Pretty good, but I still like mutton better.

I saved my carbs again. So I was able to eat the taco and the enchiladas. My glucose reading this morning was only 108. Yay!

(Good grief! Looks like this has become a food blog! Well, at least it isn't boring food.)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Mmmmm.. chicken and dumplings

Somewhere Michael got the idea he wanted chicken and dumplings. I have no idea where he even heard of it. He asked Rachael if she knew how to make them and she humphed. Rachael doesn’t believe in anything that takes more than twenty minutes to prepare. She especially doesn’t like two or three stage recipes. She does menu items that require quick easy steps. One, two, three, done - with each step requiring a corresponding number of minutes. I don’t blame her. She works all day and then comes home and fixes dinner. Nobody feels like working another hour and a half to get dinner. The good thing is that she doesn’t have hungry kids fussing to eat. Michael and I don’t care too much when we get around to eating. Often we don’t have supper until seven or after.

Hence. When Michael asked for chicken and dumplings it didn’t meet with a lot of enthusiasm on her part. The immediate response was, “Mom knows how to make them." So a little while ago I cleaned and cut up a chicken to put on for stewing. It is sending good smells all over the house right now and it still has to cook a while. I’m gonna be the World’s Number One Mother-in-law when Michael comes in the door and smells that!

I learned to make dumplings when I was really young. Dumplings are a good source of energy for poor hard working people. My grandma raised 13 kids on a poor farm in southern Ohio on the river. There were ten boys and grandpa believed in making them work. Grandma had to supply the energy for that. Dumplings are loaded with carbohydrates - a great source of energy. She could take stewed fruit or vegetables or meat and drop dumplings in to stretch them and add needed calories. She could stew one old hen that had quit laying and use the broth and shredded meat to feed the whole crew. It might not be good dietary consideration today, but in the early 1900’s it was a god-send for mothers of hungry, growing kids.

When I was little we were definitely better off financially that Grandma and Grandpa, but the thrifty measures learned in childhood stood my mother in good stead. Her favorite recipes were chicken and dumplings or peas and dumplings. And before you turn your nose up at peas and dumplings let me say you are missing a good meal. Take a couple cans of peas, juice and all. Heat them up in a good sized kettle, add a little chicken broth or milk or even water in a pinch with some additional salt and a good dollop of butter. Then when it boils carefully drop dumplings, either by teaspoonfuls or cut into squares, into the boiling liquid. Good stuff.

Okay, gotta go check my chicken.

Chicken and dumplings is at best a two phase dish and if you want to get fussy it’s a three step. First you clean and stew your chicken. If it is an old hen it has to stew on low heat for at least an hour and a half, maybe more. You also need to chop celery and onions in the stew water to add flavor and vitamins, but if you leave the skin and fat attached to the chicken you don’t need to add anything else for flavor. Many recipes today call for added butter. That is only because the recipe also calls for canned broth and the butter is needed for flavor. ( I get really disgusted with ‘chicken broth’ in a can. It has NO flavor because people are so stupidly worried about fat. Okay, don’t eat tons. But fat is very necessary for good flavor) Make your own with a fat old chicken!

When you have stewed the chicken for about 90 minutes or more the meat should be removed and placed in a separate covered dish. While it is cooling, take the big chunks of celery and onions out of the broth. You can strain it if you want. I just use a slotted spoon and scoop out most of it. Or you can leave them in. I happen to think they are unattractive after they have stewed for an hour and a half - kind of like greenish and gray rags.

When the chicken is cooled it is time to pull it off the bones. (This is the step I skipped. I figure it is easy enough to do that while you’re eating it!) To be fancy though you really need to remove the bones and cartilage and fat from the chicken. Pull it all apart and keep the bones separate from the rest. Dump the fat and skin in the same dish with the limp vegetables you removed from the broth. Stir it all together and moosh it up. When you feed the dogs, there is just enough to put a couple big spoonfuls in each dish. (Well, you gotta have four dogs… but you get the idea) They love it and the vegetables provide fresh vitamins. Set the chicken aside till just before you serve the dumplings. The cats like it, too.

The third stage is the dumpling stage. The nice thing, I think, is that the first step and the last step can be widely separated. Once you have the broth and meat prepared you can stick it in the fridge for hours or even until the next day.
My Mom taught me to make dumplings. I’ve read some other recipes that were chiefly flour and water, but I learned to use eggs and milk, flour and baking powder. Oh yes, a little salt, too. You make a heavy dough, slightly softer than cookie dough. It makes the best dumplings ever and takes about three minutes to stir up.

Bring the broth to a rolling boil-and I do mean rolling. The broth has to be boiling hard enough that you can drop the dumplings in without decreasing the heat. I’ve seen some people who roll out their dumpling dough and cut it into squares. That seems too much like noodles to me. Mom used a teaspoon and scooped a skimpy spoonful, cutting it against the side of the bowl. Wetting the spoon in the hot broth before you start makes the dumplings roll off smoothly when you dunk them in the broth. The dumplings will sink when you put them in, but soon pop to the top. When the dough is all gone, use a big spoon to gently fold them all under the hot broth once or twice, then carefully put the chicken back in the kettle. DON’T STIR. Fold carefully. You don’t want to break up the tender dumplings. It literally takes no more than ten minutes from start to finish when you make dumplings this way.

Mmmmm. I saved my carbs all day for this!! And it was worth it. We had chicken and dumplings, beets, peas and green olives. (Michael and I had the green olives. Rach doesn’t like them.) If you want you can put some vegetables in the broth and cook them just before you put the dumplings in. Peas, carrots, corn and green beans look especially pretty. Or you can serve vegetables on the side like we did.

And I was right. Michael did love them; so did Rach for that matter. She just didn’t want to make them.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

(and you think you are having trouble accomplishing everything for YOUR Christmas!)

Two thousand years ago, as we reckon times and celebrations, Mary and Joseph would have been trekking long on the road to Bethlehem now. Sometimes when I begin to fret about times and places and appointments or things that need to happen or not happen in my puny time frame, I think about the vast amount of organization that had to take place for Jesus to be born when and where he was with all the accompanying complications.

First there was finding a virtuous woman, in the place where He needed her to be. Second there was finding an equally virtuous righteous man that He could trust to serve as the earthly father figure for the baby. He had to have both of them in a frame of mind that would allow Him to deal with them. He had to have them both dedicated to the point that they would see His Project through even in the face of public criticism regarding the woman’s pregnancy [Isa. 7:14; Luke 1:26-35;46-55; Matthew 1:18-25]

In conjunction with that, there was the support system that needed to be in place when the young woman discovered she was pregnant by the action of the Holy Spirit. She needed someone influential to ‘be on her side’ for the long months of a socially incorrect pregnancy. The same support system would also create the precursor of the coming of the Messiah. [Luke 1: 5-25; 36-45; 57-80]

Second, He had to get them to Bethlehem. How could He do that with two people who had probably never traveled five miles from the place where they were born. That all involved a ruler who had to be prompted to have the necessary concerns and issue the necessary decrees far enough ahead of time that everything could happen when it was supposed to. [Micah 5:2; Luke 2:1-6]

Then there were those wise men from the east hundreds of miles away. They had to be there at the right time. How to get them there might have been a problem. [Matthew 2:1-12] And the star! That star involved blowing up an entire sun uncountable billions of miles into space!

And after all that there was the problem of getting the Christ child out of town before the soldiers could kill him. [Matthew 2: 16-18; Jer31:10-17]

Talk about organization!! And never mind all those angels and heavenly messengers who had to be dispatched at the right time. [Luke 1:26; Luke 2:8-14; Matthew 2:13]

We breeze through the Christmas story without a thought regarding the vast scope of events that the Lord had to put in place far ahead of time for the Christ-child to be born. But for just a moment give some thought to all the things that had to line up precisely for the miracle of Christmas to come about. Of course, this is the same God who created the universe, but that didn’t involve dealing with human beings who always mess things up with their willfulness. Go back and read the references for each happening. Think about trying to organize that all yourself! And yet our Lord brought it all about so smoothly that we accept it without a second thought! Jeremiah observes, 17Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:. . . and God responds, 27Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me? Jeremiah 32:17 & 27

How can we worry about His Power to control our own little lives?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

mary, did you know, could you ever imagine?

I recently listened again to the song, "Mary, Did You Know?" I think it rates on the same page as “Silent Night” and “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem.” As always it struck a chord in my heart. I read an article someplace where the writer said 'I don't care what Mary thought or knew." He wanted to prove a point of some sort. I'm not sure what. But I believe that any woman who has ever held her first born child close in her arms and looked at the wonder of that tiny face and the delicate hands can relate directly to the thoughts that must have been going through Mary's mind as she 'kept all these things and pondered them in her heart" (Luke 2:18-19)

What overwhelming wonder that God would reveal this Child's birth to shepherds in the fields with a heavenly chorus! What a tremendous awe must have surrounded her to know that she held the Son of God in her arms, smoothed His silken hair and kissed His rose-petal skin! What a sense of humility to feel the responsibility that God had entrusted to her !

How overwhelming! God sent His most precious Son, to bear the sins of the world. But He sent him as a Babe in a manger that He might grow up and live as a Man. So that he might be Our Example, in all points tested as we are yet be without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)

Take a minute to go watch the video: htp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1oHJR2g7Tw And think about the words: "Mary, Did you know. . . That your baby boy has walked where angels trod? And when you kiss your little boy You've kissed the face of God" It overwhelms me.

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Did you know
That your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know
That your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that youve delivered
Will soon deliver you

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Did you know
That your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know
That your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kiss your little boy
Youve kissed the face of god

Mary, did you know?
The blind will see
The deaf will hear
And the dead will live again
The lame will leap
The dumb will speak
The praises of the lamb

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy is lord of all creation?
Did you know
That your baby boy will one day rules the nations?
Did you know
That your baby boy is heavens perfect lamb?
This sleeping child youre holding
Is the great I am
(Reba McEntire)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

so how can there be peace?

To follow up on the thought from a couple days ago, about peace on earth. The angel said: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace. . . Luke 2:14 But the one thing we don't see is Peace, not any place on earth. Oh people talk a lot and they really do seem to try. But everyone has their own agenda to pursue.

All over the world there are well-meaning and earnest people who are trying to heal the brokenness of humankind. "Let's reconcile the blacks and the whites, the Jew and the Arab, the men and the women, the young and the old, the haves and the have-nots, the rich and the poor." The list of battlegrounds seems endless. Is reconciliation possible? Is peace possible?

So far it hasn't been by any human means. Paul lived in this world of conflict, but his vision and spiritual insight gave him the answer. In his letter to the Corinthians, he said: God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself.... [He] hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:19, 18). In the Ephesian letter he emphasizes the "In Christ" theme. Time after time he sounds this note.

Our harmony with the universe, our harmony with God's plan, and our harmony with the people around us, ALL depend upon our being "in Christ." "But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace" (Eph. 2:13-16).

Can different cultures live in harmony? Can families? Can religious groups who worship the same God worship together? Can people who love God actually love each other? It's natural to believe that if everyone were more like us in thought and behavior that we could have peace in the world. Is this possible? Can races live in harmony? Only in Christ! Listen: "For through him [Christ] we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father" (Eph. 2:18). What a remarkable concept. Through Christ, the Son, we (now together) all by one Spirit to the Father may come together in harmony.

As Zacharias prophesied in Luke 1, Jesus came to guide our feet into the way of peace. But peace in our socio- political world will never be accomplished until and unless all mankind come to acknowledge the truth that He is our peace!

There is no other way to experience Peace on Earth.

found wanting

I was studying today on the handwriting on the wall. My purpose was to look at the prophecy from the handwriting. But while I was studying another image came to mind. Here they were: Belshazzar was having a big party. And in the midst of the hilarity someone got the bright idea of having all the gold vessels Nebuchadnezzar had taken from God's temple brought in. They wanted to drink from them! So Belshazzar called for them to be brought.

Can you imagine the scene? The noise, the licentiousness, the drunkenness, the blasphemy? The loud laughter the drunken talking and shouting? The lewd entertainment of dancers and singers? And they brought the Lord's holy vessels into that atmosphere!

We are vessels of God, but some take those sacred vessels, their bodies, right into the midst of scenes like this one. They say that it is what is inside them that matters to God. It is not what they do in their outward body. But the Lord didn’t look at it that way . He was seriously concerned with what happened to His vessels in Belshazzar's time. He is still seriously concerned with what we do with our personal vessel.

When we look at what happened with Belshazzar it should put in us a righteous fear. When the interpretation of the writing was given, Belshazzar was frightened enough that he honored Daniel for the interpretation, but it was too late for him to change God's decree. He was murdered that very night and King Darius of the Medes took over his kingdom. Sometimes if we disobey God too often and too flagrantly He will pronounce his judgment, even in today's time of Grace. Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. Daniel 5:27 When that happens it is too late for us to ever be saved.

This example is one reason why I keep encouraging everyone to live a life as much like Christ as it is possible with the power of God to live. If we shrug our shoulders and say, "Well, I tried and I couldn't stop [doing whatever, lying smoking drinking, chasing women] so I guess God will just have to forgive me. It is my soul that counts for God anyway, not my flesh " we are putting ourselves in the very same position as Belshazzar using God’s holy vessels, flagrantly blaspheming the things of God.

We must walk carefully before God and not treat his Grace as loosely as Belshazzar did the vessels from the temple lest God speak the same judgment on us for blaspheming our holy vessel and trampling underfoot the blood of Christ which was shed for our salvation.

Friday, December 18, 2009

peace on earth

We sometimes get so wrapped up in all the hype and the traditional messages of Christmas that we neglect to look any deeper than the superficials. Today I want to think about the idea of Peace. Get your bibles and follow along. (don't ever just read a devotion or a message and accept it flat out without looking in your own Bible at the surrounding verses to see if the writer or speaker is using the scripture in context..)

One of the things we hear most about during this season is the concept of Peace. The message of Peace on Earth is bandied about freely by every religious or even semi-religious person. It is of course a popular topic and the thought of those angels singing about peace on earth and good will is overwhelming.

But we generally apply the message differently from the way it was spoken. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Luke 2: 13 - 14

We take it to mean that men on earth are going to have peace and good will toward each other. And while those who have experienced the redemptive power of Christ do have that peace and good will toward all their fellow men, it is not something the common man experiences or ever will experience outside of Christ.

So what was the message of the angels? They were glorifying God and stating His intentions toward the men of earth. Jesus came to bring peace and good will extending from the Father to men. One translation says "Glory to God in the highest [heaven], and on earth peace among men with whom He is well pleased " We see by this more clearly that the peace of God rests upon those with whom he is pleased. He offers it to the entire world, yes, but only those who receive His Son's offered Salvation will experience it. We must understand this concept or we will come up against one of the so called "contradictions" of the Bible.

The peace of which the angels sang is that peace which Jesus came to bring to the hearts of His Own. Until Christ's coming the hearts of men across the world had been in turmoil with sin and confusion and spiritual darkness. Jesus came to seek and save the lost and to instill in them His Peace. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: John 14:27 These are the people to whom that angels' song was dedicated.

So when we say, "I bid you peace" we are bidding men the peace of the spirit. In this world [we] may have tribulation . . . but [He] has over come the world! Tribulation and conflict will always exist in this world. Let's bid men the salvation of the Father that brings peace in this earthly body. I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Last summer as we were coming back from NM, we discovered a fantastic brand of jerky. Rachael picked up a single package in a Love’s travel stop. It was so good that when we came to the next Love’s she got a whole pound of it! It is honestly the best jerky I’ve ever had. I followed the web link on the package and just ordered a pound for us. Do you know how much dried meat you get in a pound!! Lots. Probably what would be several pounds of raw meat.

Now I want to tell you about it because I had a piece for breakfast and enjoyed it so much I want the world to know. Well at least the few people who read along here.

If you’ve never had jerky, real jerky, good jerky, you are missing a treat. Most of the stuff we get in stores around here is glorified lunch meat. It is chopped and compressed into uniform slices (sometimes even shaped to resemble a piece of natural meat) and dried. Some brands are shoved into little casings and sold a beef sticks. I guess there are brands that are real jerked meat, but most of them aren’t. I guess if you are starving it’s okay, but if you don’t like it, I don’t blame you.

Real jerky is real meat, trimmed of fat and sliced very thinly roughly cross grain and marinated briefly in a curing solution-usually salt. Originally it was sun dried or smoked over low fires. It isn’t really cooked exactly, but it doesn’t taste ‘raw’ either. The object is to dehydrate the meat quickly to retard any bacterial growth. Well-made jerky could be stored for weeks under dry conditions and will feed a person for many meals.

Jerky has become a popular snack food, but originally it was designed to be a method of storing vital nutrition and calories for periods of shortage or travel. You can’t toss a handful of real jerky in your mouth and chomp it like you do chips or popcorn. It is much too hard and tough. This is part of the reason why the processed and pressed types of jerky were developed. They are quicker and easier to consume. We are into instant gratification in our snack foods. Jerky doesn’t fit the bill.

I had a stick of jerky for breakfast this morning. I don’t know how much it weighed. It was a very thin slice about four inches long and an inch wide at its broadest part, but it tapered to points on each end, conforming to the shape of the natural muscle strip. I wondered, as I was stripping the thin shreds of fiber from the larger piece, how much the piece would have weighted in it unprocessed form. It took me about twenty minutes to eat the whole piece with my coffee.

You have to tear off a tiny strip of muscle fiber and hold it in your mouth until it is saturated enough to chew, so it takes a while. But when I finished that little strip of jerky I felt as satisfies as if I had eaten bacon and eggs. That’s the difference between real jerky and the processed stuff from the corner convenience store. It is a meal.

If you want good jerky I recommend you try Robertsons’ jerky (http://www.beefjerkynow.com/) They offer a variety of meat products including ham bacon and sausage. Check out the website and then try the jerky. If their ham and bacon are as good as their jerky, they are well worth the cost.

And if you’ve never eaten jerky or didn’t like it when you did, try a piece of Robertsons. It is almost like eating your mama’s roast in dehydrated form.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

lonesome gods

This morning while I was waiting for Michael’s eggs to finish boiling I was reading a Louis L’Amour book called ‘The Lonesome Gods.’ There was a statement in the chapter I was reading which made me stop and think. I probably don’t have the quote quite right but the character said, “Every culture has their gods that they worship, but their power has waned because no one is lighting fire on their altars any more.”
Now without going in to a discussion on false gods etc, the last part of this was what had an impact on my mind: “…their power has waned because no one is lighting fire on their altars any more.” At first thought we might say that the whole picture is false, and it is. But my mind jumped from pagan altars to the altar of God and how the priests of the Old Testament observed scheduled times of worship and offerings. Their actions kept the power of God operating in the lives of the entire nation. So do our individual actions maintain the demonstration of God’s power in us.

In the lives of men and women today, the power of God has waned because they no longer offer sacrifices on the altar of God. Most people offer nothing at all and even those who profess Christianity neglect to make any regular offerings to God. Sometimes, most times, people tend to think of God as some powerful being who sits far off on the circle of the universe just waiting for us to ask for something and then he is supposed to miraculously grant it. Now I know that the Power of God is independent of any offering or recognition we might offer, but how the power is demonstrated in our personal lives is directly proportional to the offerings we bring to His Altar.

Our first sacrifice must our entire being offered in repentance and love, then our daily sacrifices must be brought before Him. David said, Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. When we neglect to give Him the offerings of prayer and service, His Power in our lives is diminished-not by His wish, but by our own actions. We stem the flow when we cease to offer our sacrifices on His altar.

It is no wonder that men today refuse to acknowledge the power of God. They don’t see it demonstrated because they have “ceased to light fires” upon His Altar. We must keep the power of our God strong and active in our lives by living the life He requires of us. We must draw closer to Him through the reading of His word and our prayers. We find repeated reference linking prayer with the offerings of incense and the fragrance of the sacrifice ascending to heaven. Paul tells us to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God. These are the fires we must burn upon the Lord’s altar.

II Chronicles 16:9 tells us that the Lord is seeking for people toward whom He can ‘show himself strong.” But in the same breath it also says that He does it on behalf of those whose heart is perfect toward him. We already know that the way the Israelites kept their hearts perfect in His sight was through the offering of the sacrifices and although the sacrifices have now become spiritual, we still keep ourselves perfect before Him by the offering of our daily sacrifices. We must keep the fires burning in order for His Power to be demonstrated in our lives.

Hmmm. I’ll bet Louie L’Amour never intended to preach me a sermon with those few words in a book meant for entertainment…

Friday, December 11, 2009

mean people

Last night for the third time in two days— twice in one evening!—our gate was opened. And an open gate is a wholesale invitation to Gabriel and Maxim. In the year we have lived here the gate has been left open once or maybe twice— by negligent service men reading the utility meters or doing lawn treatment. Now in only a couple weeks or ten days they’ve been open five times!
One evening I was sitting here waiting for them to finish their business outside when the neighbor guy knocked on my window. He had one of the little dogs in his arms! He had come out to go to class and the dogs met him! The gate was open! A couple days later Rachael put the dogs out the back, then stepped outside the garage door to do something in front. And here came Maxim to meet her! And Mica was coming around the corner! Now we had these three events in the last two days.

Someone has to be opening the gates.

This last incident, the twice in one day and once the day before, coincided with a strange happening. I was sitting here all quiet and busy when I heard someone rapping on the front window. Mica barked fiercely and of course there was a regular chorus in here. It happened twice, once a rather long series, then a shorter couple of raps. I couldn’t figure out what was going on but I did get up to go see what it was. Nothing. By the time I got up and moving the dogs had settled down and all was quiet. I puzzled about it for a few minutes then dismissed it.

Now in conjunction with the open gates I’ve given the incident a little more weight. Those who keep track of this sort of things say this is a prime time of year for burglaries. People are busy and rushed. Most houses are brim full of gifts under trees, in closets, sitting on the table to be wrapped. Owners are hurrying to do this and that so locking doors is frequently overlooked or they are consciously left open while people are carrying stuff in and out or running across the yard to the neighbors. Garage doors are left open. A little drive through a high-end neighborhood every couple days quickly makes it apparent where people are home and when. In times of absence it is no problem to make and entrance to load up on small transportable items. If you were ‘casing a joint’ (lol too much Mike Hammer!), if you are casing a joint and you go up to the window to look in a seemingly empty house with a huge tree in the front window the best way to tell if there is a dog is to rap on the glass. If a huge black dog, or even a tiny cute one, comes barking you know the dog will have to be dealt with if you are going in to lift some expensive items. How better to deal with a dog than by leaving a gate open on the side of the house where it would seem that no one would notice until too late! No dog, no bar to breaking in. I think the incidents are all related! Okay. Now I’m paranoid.

At any rate, R & M have tied the gate shut. Not any great deterrent to opening, but at least it will take a bit longer to loosen, or even cut, than simply flipping a latch. And if that happens we will know it wasn’t an accident.

The worst part is that when the dogs were out at 10:00 the other night, Maxim evidently got hit by a car. He came hurrying home to Michael with his tail tucked in. Michael has never had pets so he isn’t real good at reading dog body language, but as soon as he brought him in to me I knew something had happened. He hurried over to the corner beside the cat tower and laid down kind of scared looking. I thought maybe Michael had gotten after him, but then he cried a bit and began licking his leg. Sure enough when Rach examined him he had a cut leg and still has a swollen and hurting shoulder!

Gabriel got a personalized trip home in the arms of the guy down the street. Thank the Lord for ID tags!

If we get robbed it won’t be the dogs’ fault

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

winter quiet

I’m sitting here listening to quiet Christmas music and playing facebook games. It is so quiet and peaceful. I love my room here at Rachael and Michael’s house. They have made it so comfortable for me. It’s cozy.

The wind is blowing hard outside and every so often there is a blast of dead leaves or water drops against my window. I can see the top branches across the way moving pretty vigorously in the wind, but down here on the ground, the bushes just outside my window are barely moving. But it all makes me seem more cozy -- especially the blasts of leaves against the window. Of course there isn’t even a draft in here, but those leaves let me know how nasty it is outside. It was 44 degrees when I got up at 5:00 AM and the weather man says it is 50 now. Pretty warm for December! Our local weather station also does a “feels like” temperature and THAT says 38. That is more in keeping with what it “looks like” outside too. I’m glad I’m in here watching the wind blow.

It occurred to me to wonder just where all the leaves are coming from and whee they are going! They are big leaves. They look like buckeye leaves or horse-chestnut leaves or hickory-big spear head shaped leaves. They come blasting through between our house and the lady next door. All the leaves were off the trees all around us. And this being Westerville, with lots of property conscious people, the fallen ones had already been all raked up. Not only that, I don’t remember any buckeye or chestnut trees around us anywhere close. I think there is a hickory tree just behind us, but it’s been empty of leaves for weeks. Wherever those leaves are from and wherever they are going, they are certainly doing it all in a rush!

My little Gable is snuggled up between my leg and the chair arm, snoozing away. Maxim is sleeping among the pillows on the bed and Sebastian is curled up in his own bed, which is on my bed. Everyone is sleeping soundly. That’s quite a different story from what it was at ten o’clock when they had their potty break. The blowing wind made them all invigorated! They came jumping and tearing across the yard like the wind was pushing them. They bounced in the door and the first words out of my mouth were “Settle down!” They are funny.

DirtyFace is the only cat visible at the moment. I have no idea where Cloudy and Andy are. Andy likes to sleep behind my chair or under the table beside it. Or maybe he’s in his ‘apartment’ house that Michael brought him. (Michael complains that he doesn’t like cats, but he’s the one who always buys them super-sized toys!) Cloudy is probably in his closet bed.

All’s quiet in my world.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

and now Christmas!

Now we enter the Christmas holidays.

I love Christmas time. I like the colors-red and green against white with the punctuations of gold and blue sparkles. I like the lights, all colors and all combinations. I like the sounds of Christmas songs everywhere. I hope for snow and cold crisp air every year. I like the decorations everywhere. I like the nativity scenes with shepherds and wise men mixed indiscriminately at the manger. I like the Santas in the department stores. I like all the fantasy surrounding the reindeer and the North Pole and the elves’ workshops. I like reading the Christmas story from Luke. I like reading the story of the ‘Littlest Angel.” I like reciting “Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house…” I even like the feelings of joy and good-will that seem to be generated whether true or false. I like the opportunity to give gifts to those we love and even those we think kindly of but neglect to acknowledge mostly. I like it all.

But every year I’m confronted with two sets of people who are both very militant in their feelings about Christmas. One group insists that we should not participate in Christmas celebrations at all because they are Pagan. The other group is affronted and angry because people are taking Christ out of Christmas by saying ‘happy holidays,’ and refusing to allow nativity scenes on public grounds. Both groups are missing the whole point of Christmas.

To those who say we shouldn’t even participate in Christmas I say, “Who other than the People of God who have been redeemed should be rejoicing in His Birth! We of all people should rejoice at His Birth!" Yes, I know the Baby didn’t redeem us, but the Man He grew to be did! His Life as a Man could never have happened had he not been born as a real baby and grew as a human, “subject to like passions” as we are.

The angels in heaven saw fit to rejoice and celebrate His Birth. The Lord hung a new star in the heavens to honor of it. The Magi traveled hundreds of miles to honor Him. Why is it wrong for us to celebrate it?

Why not observe it when the rest of the world does? The time opens wide the doors for witnessing about His Life and Death and Salvation. Give gifts with the Love God demonstrated in giving His Son. Rejoice with the elation of the angels and show good-will to all. Yes, we should demonstrate those feelings all year, I know that. Consider though: God loves us always and gives us good gifts always, yet He chose the birthday of Christ to demonstrate it especially, over and above other times. We need to do the same.

When those who call themselves the People of God are so nasty, yes, nasty and mean spirited, about the evil of observing Christmas they deny the very thing that makes us able to triumph over our flesh. The fact that Jesus was born and lived as a Man, is our example and an assurance of our ability to live the same way through His Power. It is something to rejoice over, not a time to pull righteous robes around our shoulders and cause friction and hard feelings. We destroy our message and witness with this kind of attitude.

Self righteousness creeps in so easily sometimes. I guess what strikes me as most deceptive about the position is that many times the ones who are so oppositional to celebrating Christmas have an “Appreciation Day” that they celebrate with their family and friends, ‘so the kids won’t be left out.’ Phooey! How hypocritical can we be?

Then there is the second group who go around bemoaning the fact that society is ‘taking Christ out of Christmas.” That is about as foolish as the first position. Once again their very attitude is belying the message they are trying to present. So what if people don’t want to say ‘Merry Christmas” ( I don’t like the idea of ‘making merry’ at Christmas anyway. It represents drunkenness and debauchery to me. I say “Happy Christmas” ) If someone says, ‘Happy Holidays” we can still put Christ right back in there and say “Merry Christmas.” But no, too often people preach a little sermon that falls on deaf ears because of the nastiness that creeps into the speech. They leave no witness at all.

We tend to forget that no one knows the exact date of Jesus Birth. The Catholic Church early on arbitrarily picked the date to celebrate Christ’s birth so it would coincide with the pagan winter rites. There is nothing sacred about December 25th. Why fuss? We want to promote good will to men, but then we turn right around and get all offended over celebrating His Birth! There’s just something very wrong with that attitude.

Others get all offended with someone who writes “Xmas.” They have “crossed out Jesus.” But an ‘X” was the symbol from early times for Christians and Christ. Why not use it for an opportunity to present Christ? They have already called more attention to Him by using the X than they would by just writing “Christmas.” Don’t be offended, rejoice! A door has been opened.

Someone griped to me the other day that people were calling the “Christmas tree” a ‘holiday bush.’ Again they were offended because it was taking Christ out of Christmas. Dear me! Do they know where the Christmas tree came from? Early pagans would cut branches of ever green and bring them into the house to be decorated with bright bits of metal and images of their gods. Even Jeremiah decried the pagan practice of bring in a tree and decorating it. Don’t get all hyped up because someone calls it a holiday bush. If you want to regard that beautiful erection in your living room during December each year as a Christmas tree, that’s okay with me. It has that meaning TO YOU. I think Christmas trees are pretty too, but again there is nothing sacred about the Christmas tree. They are not holy symbols. They are purely decorations!

On whichever side of the issue you may stand, be very careful of your attitude. Satan is using one of the most glorious events in human history to tear apart the Church and destroy its witness to the world. Instead of being a loud and abrasive noise, try being like Paul in the pantheon at Athens. He could have taken a nasty attitude from several directions. He chose rather to ignore the wholesale deception and evil all around him and seized the opportunity to preach Christ. He could have attacked their beliefs on all sides instead he stood up and said, “Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.”

However you stand regarding Christmas don’t get all wrapped up with defending and attacking and standing for. What a fantastic time of year to have an influence. People will listen now who might not listen at any other time of year! Just do like Paul and declare Jesus!

Thanksgiving is over

Whew! Thanksgiving is over.
For a retired lady with a very restricted life, it was a very busy time—mostly because it was busy for the people around me. Rachael and Michael (R & M) both worked up to the very day and Rachael had to work on Thanksgiving Day from 8 to 5. We had a very good day anyway. She made the cranberry salad Wednesday evening and I made the dressing and turkey on T-day.
We had broken up the bread while the cranberry salad was making and Thursday morning I chopped the veggies for the dressing and heated the broth to put together the dressing. That baked in the morning. Then about 3:00 I got the turkey ready. We had an abbreviated turkey this year. Rachael had a turkey breast in the freezer for months that she wanted out of there. But I like dark meat! So she bought a couple turkey legs and we had breast and legs, kind of a strange looking turkey. We still had more than enough turkey for us.

Michael invited the neighbor kid over for dinner on Thursday night. His grandparents recently came to live with his family and although Josh is going to school and was working full time up until just last spring, they are very critical of him. They had also been criticizing his dad who has a very good office job, but currently is hobbling around on a broken foot. He works full time, but the foot naturally limits his work at home for now. Anyway the grandparents were complaining that Josh and his dad were lazy and never did anything. Josh was very upset and rather than stay inside and cause even more trouble he was outside. Wise young man, if I do say so. So we had dinner with him and watched the football game. A typical American Thanksgiving.

(By the time Josh went home after the football game his mother had arrived home. She is a nurse and had been called in to work on Thanksgiving morning--:( I think maybe that was part of the grandparents’ problem. Her work disrupted the holiday. But by the time Josh went home she had talked to the grandparents and settled them down. Poor Josh. )

Rachael had to work again Friday morning and so did Michael. The two of them were planning to leave for Pittsburg for a wedding the same evening. They were both hustling around all evening but had everything together by about six o’clock. They left here and arrived in Pittsburg at nine something.

That left me alone for the weekend. I told some of my friends that I got to be a grown-up for three days! Better yet, I had all the Thanksgiving leftovers to myself! Now for some people that might be a Major Ugh, but I love cold turkey and cranberry salad and that was the major part of our leftovers. There was also a big pan of dressing, but I didn’t make much of a dent in that. I’d done enough carbs at dinner. So from Friday’s dinner to Sunday lunch I had turkey and cranberry salad! Mmmm. I took a brief break on Saturday morning to have fried eggs and a slice of ham, but lunch was back to turkey! I was so stingy with it that I only shared little bites with the dogs!
And my blood glucose readings stayed well under 120! Mostly they were between 98 and 107. That's pretty good for a holiday full of high carb foods.

So Thanksgiving is over for another year.

Thank you, Lord for all your blessings. In spite of the economy, my kids all have good and stable jobs. We all have good health. My grandkids are growing. My dogs are healthy. My cats are beautiful. My room is cozy and so inviting. My son calls me almost every morning. I have people here that I can do a little for when I start their coffee and put their eggs on to boil before work. I can be a witness for the Lord through the internet even though I can hardly get out at all. Life is full and it is good.