*** Giveaway! ***

Monday, December 5, 2016

I just realized I've been blogging for three years now! And written (three less than) 300 posts.

It's been a wonderful journey, and the best part has been YOU.

So I'm having a giveaway in honor of the occasion.

A little package to help you relax during this busy month of Christmas preparations. Some Harney's Scottish Morn loose black tea, one of my favorites (wonderful with cream and sugar). With a tea strainer. A tube of lovely Caudalie hand cream (another favorite), some scented soap, and a fun grapefruit mango bath bomb. And a sweet little beeswax candle. Mmm . . . love the beautiful natural scent of beeswax. 

To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment and follow me on Google+ (see sidebar to follow). Or Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook. Just let me know where you're following me. 

I'll draw a name at random next Monday, December 12.

I hope some of you who never comment will do so. I have hundreds -- hundreds!! -- of readers I've never heard from. I often wonder who you are. I'm so honored you read my blog, and I'd love to say hi.

{The gifts are pictured on my new kitchen countertop. I'm organizing cupboards today. Electricity and lights hooked up tomorrow. A few remaining items, but looks like I'm back in business! Yay!)

I'm starving and I've gained weight!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Okay, I'm not really starving, especially after the Thanksgiving weekend.

But, seriously. I'm going to complain here. I have not had a kitchen to cook in since September 14. That's 11 weeks. Between take out and restaurant meals I have been putting on weight at the same time as feeling very deprived.

I can't make bread or rolls or pie or cookies. All fall. And fall is prime baking time here at my house. It's the time I make apple pie and apple crisp and pumpkin bread and snickerdoodles and start putting away goodies in the freezer for the Christmas holidays.

You would think all that would make me gain weight. But being able to bake and have things in the pantry makes me feel prepared and satisfied. I'm not as tempted. (much) I think I have been overeating because there's nothing in the pantry (I better fill up; it could be my last meal!!!). So I eat more, and more things that aren't satisfying.

I guess I never realized how much I like my own home cooking. Not to be a food snob, but really. I stopped today at the local health food store to get some roasted veggies for lunch. The sweet potatoes weren't peeled, and they weren't even completely cooked. The garlic pieces were huge; no one took the time to mince them. The brussels sprouts must have been sitting under the warming lamp too long because they were all dried out.

I've been craving homemade soup. We have a local restaurant that sells quarts of soup for takeout. It's not bad, but it is loaded with sodium. My ankles are starting to swell. And the chicken chunks are huge! They don't fit on your spoon, and you're sitting on the couch trying to eat soup on your lap and cut the chicken with your spoon . . . Oh, and the crackers are stale.

I love my homemade soups and roasted vegetables. Or any warm comforting homemade foods for when the cold weather hits.

I did have a wonderful time cooking Thanksgiving dinner in our son's apartment. It was the first homemade meal we've had in weeks. We packed the trunk full of turkey and ham and potatoes and stuffing mix, sausage, onions, butter, celery . . . a roasting pan, a turkey baster, an apron, potholders, sharp knives, and cutting board . . . the works. Drove it all across five states. And I have to say that meal tasted really good.

It was only the three of us, the smallest Thanksgiving we've ever celebrated. But my son couldn't get home for the weekend, so we took Thanksgiving to him. No fancy table setting or china or linens, but it was a great meal, and a very relaxing day.

Good news is that as we were driving home on Monday the countertops got installed. Everything's been held up waiting for them. Now the plumber and electrician can come and hook everything up. So maybe a working kitchen by the weekend? 

And maybe I'll lose this extra weight by cooking more. Weird, but I think it will happen.

It will be a while before I want to go out to eat. And please, Lord, don't let me start complaining when I have get to cook every day again! 

Glimpses of grace

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

I’m not given to visions or supernatural experiences. I can count on one hand the number of divine encounters that I’ve had during my life. 

By “divine encounters,” I don’t mean the miracles that we experience every day. Yes, I do believe that miracles happen all the time; in fact, they are so commonplace and so “ordinary” that we may very well miss them. Our good God creates them over and over for us. They are all around us, if we only have eyes to see. 

Sunsets come to mind. A cardinal landing on a branch just as I'm needing a little grace for the day. A "chance" encounter with someone. Healing after a surgery. A "prompting" to give someone a call.

No, I'm talking "Moses and the burning bush" - type experiences. The kind where we see a lifting of the veil, a glimpse into a world beyond. A very real connection, a tailor-made, just-for-us touch from the Lord. When our heart stops and we know that we are on holy ground.

I experienced such a moment years ago in, of all places, a Kroger parking lot. God is present with us not just in a beautiful sunset across a tropical ocean, or in the awesome grandeur of a mountain range, but in a slushy, muddy parking lot of a grocery store on a cold and gray Michigan winter afternoon.

I was a young mom and had run out to the grocery store one Saturday afternoon while my husband watched the children. I had finished my shopping and I was trying to push a fully-laden grocery cart over the parking lot and across ruts of melted snow and ice to get to my van. The wheels were jamming and I had to keep adjusting the cart and steering it around puddles of icy water. My boots were leaking and the bottom of my jeans were wet. I got to the back of my van and lifted the rear door, grimy and dirty with the slush that always sprays up from the roads in such weather. 

I started lifting the bags of groceries into the back of the van. Pausing as I reached for another one, I glanced up. Strings of electrical and phone wires hung limply between the telephone poles edging the side of the road. Cars drove past, overhung by the kinds of massive, heavy, gloomy clouds that can hold sway in a Michigan winter sky for weeks.

And then a strange thing happened. It was as if, as I looked through the wires and up at the sky, a kind of film was lifted up and away off of everything and I got a glimpse of something different, something that existed behind my view.

Not a thing had changed. The telephone wires were still there, the gray clouds, the slush-spattered cars, the banks of gray snow at the edge of the parking lot. But everything took on a new look. As if everything had been washed clean, as if somehow it had all been redeemed. Even the noises I heard, the traffic, people’s voices, were clear and bell-like, clean-sounding and fresh.

Everything was the same and yet everything had been transformed. The whole world had taken on a different aspect.

Is this what the world is really like? Or meant to be? Or what it will be some day? Was it a glimpse of heaven?

 I pondered this event for a long time before I realized what it was that I saw behind the curtain that had been lifted for my benefit. For me, a young woman, tired and a little worn from the cares of the day, who was given this gift. What I saw that day was what is beyond and behind everything. And that thing is Love.

These are the bits of precious gold that I cling to.

It makes me think of the cabby in C.S. Lewis’s book, The Magician’s Nephew. At the end of the book, he gets a glimpse of heaven.

“Glory be!” said the Cabby. “I’d ha’ been a better man all my life if I’d known there were things like this.”

I hang on to this memory, this snapshot of what the world is really like, of what it will be like someday when everything broken will be restored. The Bible tells us to think on things that are true and lovely and of good report. The world here is a beautiful place with many awesome and wonderful things. But the truest things, the best things, the things that endure and last, are not what we can see.

But a lifting of the veil, and all is revealed.


A very Happy Thanksgiving to my U.S readers.
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