Friday, December 31, 2010

Hoppin' John - Traditional New Year's Meal

Although I don't believe in things bringing you luck, I still prepare this traditional dish each New Years because it is good eating, especially with cornbread.

Hoppin’ John (Black-eyed Pea Soup)

3 cups black-eyed peas

ham bone with lots of ham

3 qts water

Boil peas (no need to pre-soak) and ham bone, in water until peas are tender. Discard the bone. Add the following finely-chopped vegetables:

1 large onion

2 cups celery

2 cups carrots

2 cups potatoes

1 can Rotel tomatoes & green chili’s (for milder, use Italian diced tomatoes)

Cook another hour. Salt & pepper to taste. Can be served over cooked white rice, or eaten as soup. Best served with cornbread.

Goodbye 2010

Looking back at this past year leaves me with mixed feelings. The loss of my sister left me the only survivor of my birth family. Some days, I feel the loneliness of that role, especially when I want to pick up the phone and share a joy or a sorrow.

The joy I experience in volunteer cooking at our church leaves me feeling God still has a purpose for my life. The month in Alaska was like a vacation from the everyday cares of living life. The peace of God was so evident there. I pray that I will be able to do something similar in 2011.

Our family experienced the joy of being together this Christmas. However, because of the diagnosis of cystic fibrosis, there was an undercurrent of grief always present.

The misunderstandings in relationships often brings tears and regrets. Why I cannot express love without attempting to control is a mystery. Certainly, I am not God, nor do I know what he is doing in the lives of those I love. I caught a glimpse of Him recently - a glimpse of His love. If He really loves my family that much, can I not trust Him to do what is best for them? I believe if there is true love, then there will be trust. My prayer for 2011 is that I will learn to pray, believing God, not doubting, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea blown and tossed by the wind. James 1:6-7

Monday, December 6, 2010

My daughter made my very favorite cake for my birthday. I love coconut.

Ugly Duckling Cake

Beat together:

1 box yellow cake mix

1-(3 ½ oz) box instant lemon pudding

1 c coconut, flaked

1-16oz can fruit cocktail w/juice

4 eggs

¼ c. vegetable oil

Pour in 9x13 greased baking pan, sprinkle with ½ c. brown sugar & ½ c. chopped nuts.

Bake at 325 for about 45 minutes or until done (do not underbake). Cool 15 minutes then pour hot glaze over cake.

Glaze: Bring following to boil in pan and boil for 2 minutes, then spoon over warm cake.

½ c. margarine

½ c. sugar

½ c. evaporated milk

1 ½ c. coconut

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Curse of Eden

This grandma's heart carries of load of heaviness today. As I search for answers to why a beloved grandchild has inherited a gene that carries a serious threat to life, I want to blame God or Satan. The child did nothing to bring this on himself, except to be born to a sinful world. From the time that Eve chose the lie of the serpent over the truth of the loving creator, sorrow and pain became a part of this world.

So, I can blame Eve and Adam, right? But, alas, I looked in my own heart this morning. What I saw was the reflection of "Eve". If I believed my Lord and my God, I would start nothing in the morning without first reading the Word that reveals who they are, then spending time fellowshipping with them. I believe a lie - that what I do with my hands is more important than what I do in my spirit. I do not trust the Creator with my grandchild enough to spend time before Him seeking answers to the hard questions. Instead I quake in fear of the prognosis.

Jesus said, "In the world, you will have troubles" - he never promised we would not face these hard times. But then He added, "But I have overcome the world". What does His overcoming mean in light of a diagnosis of CF for my grandchild? That is what I must learn in the days ahead.

Father, please help me to accept my weak, human nature, but also realize that you have adopted me as your child. As your child, I need fellowship with you and your Word to survive this fallen world and the heartache it brings into our lives.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Unveiling

Since last Friday, we have awakened each morning to the patter of rain on the roof and clouds and fog hid everything back of the tree line from view. It has been muddy and gloomy. Since lunch, a brilliant blue sky with warm, drying sunshine has broken through on the bay outside the dining hall window. The distant mountains are beginning to peak through puffy clouds, as though they are being unveiled by our Maker, again revealing the majesty of His creations.

But there is another unveiling that occurs here. Each week, a new family of volunteers arrives. We weep at the parting of old friends we have made in the few days we spent together. But soon, the unveiling of the lives of new friends begins, and we begin to bond in the friendship that will reach far beyond this earth. Someday, there will be a great reunion in a more perfect place than this...a place where perfect love will mean no parting, no tears, no illness. When we part, we can say with certainty, "We will meet again!" What a wonderful hope Jesus planted within each believer. What a gift! My heart fills with wonder and praise at that great gift of hope.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Incredible Week

This week has been an incredible week at Port Alsworth. We had about three days of weather that was so gorgeous, it took my breath away. How anyone could visit this place and not acknowledge the glory of God would be beyond me. The temperature topped out in the lower 70's, but is back down to the more typical 50's today. The mosquitoes have awakened from their slumber and have been voraciously attacking every warm body.

The singing group of young people who perform under the name "Flyleaf" spent two days and helped out by working on various projects, as well as some time fishing and relaxing. I did not hear them perform, and my grandchildren said I probably would not care for their music, but I did enjoy having them here and getting to feed them good food. They shared in our morning devotions on Tuesday a.m., and I was impressed with their desire to honor God with their lives and their music. They are now headed for Canada for Rock the City Crusade with Franklin Graham and other groups.

Loons have arrived on the bay and I have watched them from the dining room window last evening and again this morning. It appears to be a family of four. They are beautiful cruising and diving in the water, but most beautiful when in site. We heard them call last evening, but it was not the mournful cry, but more of a quack.

The construction is moving along...speeding up to try to get as much done before freezing weather arrives. Those coming in as volunteers included two young men from Colorado. One was an expert in staining and helped finish that job. The other is by trade a designer of outdoor living spaces. He is working hard to layout and start the plans for new decks on each of the cabins. God seems to provide what is needed exactly when it is needed. The other three who came in on Monday are from California. These five will be leaving on Monday and we have eight new ones arriving.

I love all the cooking and baking - baking lots of bread and desserts. I certainly feel blessed to be a part of this opportunity.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Week Two in Alaska

We are starting our second week in Alaska. Four of the ones who arrived with us last Monday returned to their homes yesterday. They were missed last night. It is amazing how quickly friendships develop among those who have the same Savior. However, we are now getting acquainted with a Mennonite couple from Pennsylvania, and a gentlemen from Georgia.

After a good drying wind over the weekend, the rains and resulting mud returned today. The temperatures are very comfortable so far. Cooking is one of those never-ending jobs, but we are getting a handle on it so that we can take a break in the afternoon. Last week, we were putting in a 12 to 14 hour days, plus trying to adjust to the time difference.

Bill and I are both doing better this week. He did not tell me that he had a little mishap on one of the four-wheelers last week. That was probably much of the problem with his knees and back. The weekend of rest seems to have revived both of us. We are hoping to do some hiking this next weekend. There is a beautiful falls about 2 miles away (much of it uphill). We would like to go when we have lots of time. We were told by a hunting guide that there is a black bear on the mountain just across the cove from the dining hall. We are wishing for some binoculars so we can observe him.

Thought I would share what a day of cooking is like here at Port Alsworth. For breakfast, we had scrambled eggs, hash browns, bacon, toast, and mixed fresh fruit bowl. For lunch we had bratwurst with sauerkraut, creamed spinach soup, some leftover potato salad, leftover sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, and onion, potato chips, fresh cherries, and leftover four-layer dessert from last night's meal. For the evening meal, we will have grilled steaks, baked potatoes, steamed cauliflower, tossed green salad, garlic toasted bread, and blueberry buckle for dessert. As you can see we stay pretty busy. We have a local girl who comes in about 11:00 and does dishes for both lunch and dinner. She will only be here until the end of August, then she leaves for school.

It is time to get back to the kitchen.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Life in Alaska

Hello again from "up north to Alaska". Maybe we are beginning to become accustomed to being four hours later than home in Kansas. I was able to stay up past 9:00 last night and still get up at 5:00 this morning...however, it did take Bill calling me six times to get me awake. We are going to try out a new alarm next week to see if that helps.

It has been interesting working here. We are both pretty exhausted at the end of the work day and do our "senior toddle" back to the cabin. After a hot shower, we feel a little bit better, then a good night's sleep helps, too. For the most part, we are on our feet a good part of the day. A young college girl comes in and helps with dishes, cleaning floors, laundry, etc. around 11:00. We have to do the breakfast dishes, then begin to prepare for lunch. Usually, we try to do some kind of sandwich and soup for lunch. We had tacos and ham & bean soup yesterday; grilled hamburgers and zucchini soup today. As soon as lunch is over, we begin the evening meal which is the main meal of the day. We will take turns working Saturday and Sunday to have a little break.

Yesterday, Susan took me on the four-wheeler for a tour of the area. I was mistaken in my initial understanding of where we would be. The Tanalian Bible Camp is to our north (I think). Samaritan's Purse purchased a hunting/fishing lodge next to the Bible Camp. They are remodeling it and will make it handicap accessible to be used by wounded veterans and their families. The photos I have posted cannot capture the beauty of the area.

It is hard to grasp how people live in this area when you consider that everything arrives by plane. They have to call in or send by e-mail their shopping list and then the plane brings it in. All building supplies, fuel, etc. must come in on a plane. They just brought in some insulated windows today and in order to preserve the seal on the windows, they had to come through the pass - could not go over a certain altitude.

Yesterday, the fuel tanker plane came in and landed about 50 foot from our kitchen. It was a huge plane for the gravel airstrip that SP has built here. Susan and I were about to take cover under the work table because it was so loud and came down so hard when it landed. There is lots of traffic on the inlet cove out the large windows at the end of the dining hall. Both sea planes and boats can be seen throughout the day.

Well, I need to get back to work on another side dish for our evening meal. Pray that our bodies will hold up through the weeks ahead. We have met some neat people, and I am sure there will be others in the next crew that comes in on Monday.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Day Two at Port Alsworth

Today has been gray and rainy. Fog enveloped the mountains across the lake off and on all day. It has been a busy day in the kitchen and this "old gal" is pretty tired tonight.

We were without water for a couple of hours this afternoon while they were working on construction. We are both pretty laid back, so no one gets excited if things have to be adjusted. Susan has pretty well turned desserts over to me, which is great. I did make guacamole for our Mexican meal this evening.

We have enjoyed getting acquainted with the crew that is here. Several will be leaving on Tuesday, and probably some new ones will be arriving. We are never sure how many we will have for a meal but so far we have had leftovers (which we will probably warm them up for the weekend).

Monday, August 9, 2010

First date at Port Alsworth

We arrived at the Samaritan's Purse base camp at Soldotna, Ak., Sunday evening. The flight from Chicago to Anchorage was an endurance test. We were nearly and hour late leaving Chicago, waiting in line to the runway. We were in the air for over six hours on a fully loaded Boeing 737.

A bear had been sighted at the base camp Sunday a.m., so we were warned to make lots of noise if we went up to the shower/restroom building. I made Bill get up at 3:00 a.m. to go up to the restroom with me.

We flew out to Port Alsworth this morning. Another plane loaded with groceries followed us over, so we spent the a.m. trying to get the groceries sorted and stored. We have three refrigerators and two freezers, and pantry full of food, so we should be able to provide adequate meals. Seven of us flew in this morning. About five or six full-time employees are working with volunteers to run water lines and sewer lines to the cabins.

Bill and I are sharing a cabin. I will send more photos via Facebook tomorrow. The weather is very pleasant. We are watching salmon running in the lake (from inside the dining area). Huge fish are jumping all over the surface.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Centrikid Junior camp

I spent last week with our church junior kids at Centrikid camp at Bolivar, Mo. I went primarily so that my granddaughter, Libby, could go. It was an experience that I would probably do again if I am needed. I admire the young people from Lifeway who staff the camp. Their dedication to God was evident throughout the week.

My best story of the week was that I accidentally locked myself in the bathroom Thursday afternoon for over and hour. Each set of two dorm rooms shares a bath. The locks are triggered from the rooms rather than from the bath. I was in the room by myself, went into the bathroom, closed the door and took care of business. However, upon attempting to exit the room, I found that both access doors were locked...on the other side. It would be at least an hour before anyone came back to the rooms. I started looking for some way to unlock the doors (dismantled part of the sink, etc.) but to no avail. I did have my cell phone, but not my glasses. I could not see anything on the phone, but knew I had made a call to the youth minister's wife the day before. So I tried to guess where I could retrieve that number from my placed calls. I finally got it to ring her number, but she was helping with a track activity, so she let it take a message. I decided to just relax and wait.

The interesting thing was that I had been reading a book entitled "Secret Believers - What Happens When Muslims Believe in Christ" by Brother Andrew and Al Janssen. I had just read a passage where a believer was imprisoned in a very small concrete room. As I envisioned his predicament and compared it with mine, I was thankful for several things. My room was probably three times as large as his; I had light and water; my room was much cleaner; I knew someone would soon let me out and would not harm me when they did. It was a time for introspection and a time to thank God for a free country where we can take kids to a place and freely teach them about God.

But I also realized that we take our freedom for granted. The people in this book know they may die any day for their love for the Savior. Would I? Maybe we need some persecution in order to really test how much we love our Lord.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

I visited cemeteries yesterday to place flowers on the graves of loved ones. I know they are not there, but out of respect and because I loved them, I want to keep their memories alive. However, yesterday's visit revealed a truth that I had not comprehended fully. I have lost all of my family of origin over the last seven years. I am the only remaining member of my original family. I lost my father on Father's day, 2003; my mother February, 2006; and my precious younger sister in February, 2010. There is a loneliness in my heart that I cannot describe today.

My parents were in their eighties and had lived long, full lives. Their bodies were worn out and they were ready to end their earthly trek for their heavenly homes. But I have a harder time accepting the loss of my sister. The past few hours I want to shake my fist at God and cry, "What were you thinking?" But in my heart, I know he never wanted a world where cancer and disease took lives much too early. It was man's choice to sell out to Satan, the father of lies who seeks to steal, kill and destroy all lives that can be destroyed. However, our Lord told us to not fear the one who could destroy the body, and I rejoice that her body is all that he was able to destroy.

It was during her illness that I heard a message by Andy Stanley that so clearly explained the wonderful gift of salvation that God provided. Should He never heal another body, release a captive from sin's hold, provide us with any physical need, what He has provided far outweighs all of that. He took upon himself every sin that I have or ever will commit and restored me to fellowship with Him because He loved everyone of us so much.

I have spent a few hours feeling sorry for "me"...but it is not about "ME". Death did not leave me alone. I have a faithful husband who hugs me when I grieve, beautiful children (who chose terrific mates) who are wonderful parents to my grandchildren. I have friends who would draw around me if I were left without family. I have a comfortable home, a soft bed, too much food, and freedom to pray and worship my God openly (for now anyway). So now, I am counting blessings, not losses. And one day in the not too distant future, I will see all of my family of origin kneeling at the feet of Jesus, adoring our Lord! And just possibly, I will hear my Lord's voice from the eastern sky calling me to join Him in the clouds. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Friday, March 5, 2010


How can we ever know the will of God? Our church body recently voted on a building program. We have several issues – we own two campuses. We were blessed when another church with a few elderly members chose to give us their building, grounds, and bank account several years ago (I have heard it said that this gift was an “albatross around our necks”, so not all labeled it a “blessing”.)

Our initial location is close to downtown, landlocked with no direction to expand. Our congregation has grown – many young families with young children. Even with two services (a traditional and a contemporary), we were no longer able to provide worship space at the old location.

The pastor (correctly, I believe) specified that without 90% approval in our vote, we would not move on in a building campaign. The vote was 70% for, 30% against. Was that God’s will? I have learned not to question God in his wisdom, so I would say He knew what he was doing in that vote. Had the vote been 90%, I would have embraced that also. In other words, I can find peace in resting in letting God handle this situation.

However, that does not mean that I do not look at the situation with blind eyes. So it is with that in view, that I want to express some thoughts.

  • I have observed in the past that some people do not want change. In fact, they see all change as bad. Only the status quo is a comfort to them. I have watched “old-timers” in other congregations drive off new young families because if they become a part of the body, and active, their presence will require “change”. They would rather the church die a slow death, to have their sacred traditions preserved.
  • Some are tied to buildings by sentimental memories – “This is where we were married”. “My children were baptized and married here”. “My parents brought me here when I was a baby.” These thoughts reflect a mind-set that states, “How could you possibly ask me to give up this monument of my family – my families’ money bought and paid for it”. (Notice whose house it has become.)
  • “These are terrible economic times in which to take on a building program. People just don’t have the money for that sort of expense. We are not making our budget now.” This is the dialogue that is heard from much of the 30%. It is interesting to me that what I hear in this is: “They (whoever they are) might ask me to give a little more than my comfort-zone will allow.” I responded to one such remark that God was not asking them to pay for it all. The response was, “No, but they would be out asking me to pledge so much, and I already give to another mission, and have for years.” God owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and the wealth in every mine. I do not have to figure out ahead of time how He will build this if He wants it built. The only part for which I am responsible is the part that he lays on my heart to give. For that, I must be obedient lest I miss the blessing He has for me. I will never assume to be God’s messenger and tell someone else how much they should give. That is between them and God. But I also know the current economic times will not hinder Him in providing – in fact, miracles are a great inspiration to His people.

Sometimes writing my thoughts helps me clarify situations. In the past, I have worried and stewed over these same types of situations. I somehow thought I had to figure it all out and make God’s will come about. I likened myself to Joshua and Gideon: “Am I going to have to wander in the wilderness for 40 years just because others are so blind?” However, there is no rest in that attitude, and Jesus promised me rest. At this point in my life it is much easier to say: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done” because I do not believe God is finished. It was a majority that refused to support Joshua and Gideon, not the minority.

Is God in Control?

My sister recently succumbed to her cancer-ridden body, and her spirit soared to a new freedom that was pain-free, pure joy and praise of her creator. How do I know this? My Savior told us that He was going to prepare a place for us. He spoke to a criminal on his right-hand from the cross and stated “Today, you will be with me in paradise.” He appeared to over 500 witnesses after his resurrection from the dead, thus assuring us that he had the power to give us life after death – the hope of every person.

So I believe God has numbered the days of each of us, and that He is ultimately in control. I do not believe he created cancer and disease. Those are the results of the decisions of the first man and woman – to take their destiny into their own hands and ruin the perfection in which they were initially created. Nor do I believe God picks and chooses who will be afflicted. Both believers and non-believers are afflicted alike. What he does promise is that his children will never “walk through the valley of death” by ourselves. He will be there and comfort us – and He did. The peace, that makes no sense in human understanding, under-girded the family.

I can rest in the faith that I will see her, and my parents and grandparents, in that day when the number of my days reach their completion. My God was not taken by surprise, not did he lose control in our lives. Praise be to God, to his Son, my Savior, and to the blessed Holy Spirit, whom He sent to be our Comforter!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Struggling with disease and death

While I have stood helplessly by and watched my precious sister destroyed by cancer, as well as attempts by the medical community to control it, I have had lots of questions.

There are those who urge me to believe God will heal her. Speak only positive things with regard to everyone around me. To speak any negative is to open the door for Satan to move in and destroy me or my loved ones. Pray with faith…without ceasing. I can become burdened with the load this belief calls me to carry. I must constantly weigh what I am saying, what I am thinking. Where does the statement of Jesus fit in: “Come unto me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matt. 11:28-30. If so much is my responsibility, I cannot rest. So I find this a very burdensome walk.

How much value does God put on the physical life we live in this world? Paul discusses the dilemma of whether living or dying is best in Philippians 1. In 2 Corinthians 4, he talks of the treasure in jars of clay (our bodies house the treasure of God’s spirit alive in us). As long as there is work for us to do while in the jars of clay, then God will leave us here. In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul describes the groaning of living in an earthly tent that is decaying and awaiting a building from God, an eternal house in heaven. From this, I see no directive to cling to our earthly bodies, pleading, begging, and even demanding for them to be healed.

One of my most enlightening moments was when I watched a video by Andy Stanley from his Defining Moments series. It dealt with Mark 2 where Jesus heals a paralytic man. In the midst of this teaching, Stanley asks the question “Why did Jesus heal?” He goes on to explain that in every case of healing, the people would eventually die – it was a temporary healing. We are all destined to die…because of sin that entered the world. See the third chapter of Genesis. Sometimes God still intervenes in illnesses today and someone walks away from terminal illness or disease…but they will eventually leave this body of clay in death. According to Stanley, Jesus healed the physical to prove that He had the power over the consequences of the sin that came with the fall of man. In the case of the paralytic, He first pronounced the forgiveness of sin which was a big disappointment to the paralytic, his friends, all of the onlookers (who wanted to see a miracle), and blasphemy to the religious leaders. But in order that they would understand He had the authority to forgive sin, He demonstrated his authority by removing the consequence of sin! Hallelujah!

Stanley says that because we do not understand the concept of sin and its consequences, we shake our fists at God and scream “WHY?”. (I have done that.) And God’s reply is “I knew you would ask that. Read the beginning of my book. I explained that to you there.”

So today, I rejoice that my sister has had her sins removed FOREVER – she will never come under condemnation. We miss the awesomeness of what He has already done for us and look for temporary miracles for those who must eventually die anyway. What freedom I find in this. It does not mean I will not grieve the loss of the physical presence of my precious sister, but it means the hope of Christ’s resurrection and victory over sin and death is ours FOREVER. When this journey ends, we get to go HOME!