Lauren and Mikaela--identical twins living on opposite coasts--blog about the story of life and their adventures in faith.

11.27.2009

It's Thanksgiving!

"It may be I am getting old and like too much to dwell
Upon the days of bygone years, the days I loved so well;
But thinking of them now I wish somehow that I could know
A simple old Thanksgiving Day, like those of long ago,"

"When all the family gathered round a table richly spread,
With little Jamie at the foot and grandpa at the head,
The youngest of us all to greet the oldest with a smile,
With mother running in and out and laughing all the while."


"I like the olden way the best, when relatives were glad
To meet the way they used to do when I was but a lad;
The old home was a rendezvous for all our kith and kin,
And whether living far or near they all came trooping in"
"With shouts of "Hello, daddy!" as they fairly stormed the place
And made a rush for mother, who would stop to wipe her face
Upon her gingham apron before she kissed them all,
Hugging them proudly to her breast, the grownups and the small."

Welcome to our Thanksgiving! Mama has been recovering for some time now in bed. Thus, with Thanksgiving and five overnight guests quickly approaching, Mikaela and I prepared with anticipation to create our first ever Thanksgiving dinner. Strengthened by the remembrance of the four original Pilgrim women who made the entire meal for the colony (if they did all that, surely we could do this!), we planned the menu, wrote out the shopping list, braved the crowds to purchase all the necessities (while staying under budget) and counted our blessings as we made stuffing and smashed our potatoes. We triumphed over minor calamities like lost recipes, broken potato mashers, and salty gravy to sit down at the table Thursday afternoon, exhausted but happy!

Our bee-yu-ti-ful turkey! Isn't it a thing of beauty? The most gorgeous meat I've ever seen! (Yes, I'm bragging!)

When's the food going to be ready? Great-Aunt Bev and Uncle Dan anxiously await the meal as the smells waft through the house! Uncle Dan wanted to make sure we had Pepto-Bismol before he sat down to eat--we assured him he would simply have to suffer.

Dad carves the turkey under the watchful eye of our cousin Danny and his son, Brayden.
The menu? Sausage and craisin stuffing, spiced sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, garlic and rosemary mashed potatoes, rolls, vegetables, broccoli, turkey, pumpkin, marionberry, and pecan pie, and buckeye cake. Hungry yet?

It was a blessing to get together with Mama's brother, Dan, his wife, our Aunt Linda, their son Danny, and his son Brayden and stepdaughter Charlotte--whom we had never met before. Aunt Bev rounded out our numbers and we had a wonderful time of talking politics, laughing, introducing them to Fireproof, and eating!


Every year, we go around the table and take three kernels of corn as a remembrance of the winter the Pilgrims received a ration of five kernels each day. Then, we say at least three things we are thankful for. The top blessings? God's providence, unmerited grace, and salvation, God's amazing provision, and wonderful family! In a year when our president made history by being the first president not to explicitly mention God in his Thanksgiving Proclamation, we made God the focal point of our day. From reciting Psalm 100 to praying together to learning more about godly William Bradford, it was a blessed day.

The sole picture of Mama, the photographer! She's goofing off at Susanna, who nabbed the camera!
Jonah and Brayden were inseparable buddies!

"Then laughter rang throughout the home, and, Oh, the jokes they told;
From Boston, Frank brought new ones, but father sprang the old;
All afternoon we chatted, telling what we hoped to do,
The struggles we were making and the hardships we'd gone through;"

The competition is on Thanksgiving night! Who will win the game? (-:


"We gathered round the fireside. How fast the hours would fly--
It seemed before we'd settled down 'twas time to say good-bye.
Those were the glad Thanksgivings, the old-time families knew
When relatives could still be friends and every heart was true."



Poetry from An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving by Edgar Alber Guest

Photos taken by Mama and Susanna (-:

11.24.2009

Courageous

Have you heard the news?


If you're not excited yet, let me remind you that Fireproof, Sherwood's most recent film, was 2008's highest grossing independent film (it made $33,063,487 on a budget of $500,000) beating out such Oscar winners as Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Slumdog Millionaire, and Milk. The excellent article "From 'Fireproof' to Fatherhood" by Bob Smithouser on Focus on the Family's Plugged In gives the "inside scoop" on this forthcoming movie to be made on the shoestring-to-Hollywood-but-astronomical-to-Sherwood budget of $2.5 million:

"Dads are important. And there are right and wrong ways to be one. That message was communicated loud and clear over the weekend by two sets of filmmakers, one in Hollywood, Calif., the other in Albany, Ga. And yet their projects couldn’t be more different.

"The hot new disaster flick, 2012, depicts the end of the world in eye-poppingly cataclysmic fashion, aided by a huge budget and gaudy special effects. It also alludes to the devastation wreaked on families when dads aren’t present in the home, become disengaged, or model poor character. The protagonist, played by John Cusack, is estranged from his wife and two young children. But by the end of the film, he heroically reconnects with them, regaining their respect while rescuing them from more than just Armageddon.

"He’s not the only onscreen patriarch in need of redemption here. Minor characters, aware that the end is near, try to make peace with their kids long-distance or find themselves making supreme sacrifices. What 2012 fails to explore, however, is why those flawed fathers fell from grace in the first place, or what practical steps a man can take to avoid or repair damaged relationships at home.

"That’s where Sherwood Pictures comes in."

Continue Reading

Now I'd say that is courageous!



Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone!

11.20.2009

Noise Addiction

I was around twelve—the oldest sister of six kids, with the youngest boy just born. My twelve year old cousin was over, and she, Mikaela, and I were playing with gusto. It was a wonderful time, but right in the middle of our latest game, my cousin, an only child, piped up to say something, and I had the impression that she had been deliberating on this comment for most of the evening. “Doesn’t that noise bother you?” she asked. Mikaela and I looked at each other, opened our ears, and realized that our younger siblings were also playing with great gusto in the office right outside of our bedroom. Only their gusto was more like uproarious giggles, simultaneous shouts of delight over their game, and banging away at our toy piano. All at the same time. I hadn’t noticed.

Fast-forward to a few days ago. This has been the gold standard of hectic weeks (as evidenced by this 3:30 post), and my time to do school has been short and precious. I sat down to concentrate and turned on some (Christmas!) music in the background while I worked. It was a few minutes later before I realized that I was getting distracted from the work at hand with the exuberant music playing in my ear. Why exactly was I trying so hard to multitask? So I turned the music off and listened to the silence.
This is what I heard: in our house, silence is rare. Inside, every door is a swinging one, and noise abounds. Even if you go outside, there is always a rooster crowing or a tree cracking or a lawnmower roaring. To me, these sounds are beautiful, but there are other sounds that aren’t quite so lovely. A bird’s-eye view of our society in general reveals that we are almost addicted to noise. We can't go for an hour without turning on the radio, the TV, the headphones, the sound effects—we are surrounded by noise and sound! I’m not talking about the kind of lovely noise that bothered my cousin but the noise of all this entertainment--noise pollution.
All of this “artificial” noise is as detrimental as going without sleep, because it occupies our heads with peripheral things when we should really be using the time to meditate and communicate with God. Headphones, roosters, idle chatter, roosters, (-: and television are huge inhibitors to deep, meaningful time with God. The great men of Scripture? How often did they put in their 8-track tapes when they were bouncing down the road on a camel? I can verify they never did—instead, I imagine them talking with God as they trekked between towns.
Scripture speaks often of the importance of silence. Ecclesiastes 3:7b says, “A time to keep silence, and a time to speak.” Habbakuk 2:20 offers an even more compelling picture: “But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.” I Timothy 4:15 promises that whatever sacrifice we make in order to have this time with God is worth it: “Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all.” So turn off the radio in the car—talk to God. Turn off the phone—talk to God. Take out the headphones—talk to God. Your soul will thank you.
Another benefit? When we take the time to realize the beauty of silence we can once again appreciate the beauty of sound. Today I am going to revel in silence, and a week from today I’m going to equally enjoy the sound of nineteen people in the house. We’ll have glasses clinking, laughter to the rooftop, and lots of conversation—talking about God.


Picture from http://www.freewebs.com/soundwaves-/rockwool_solutions_to_noise.jpg

11.17.2009

When I'm 93

A visit with Uncle Melvin and Aunt Ina in 2004.
They are holding the quilts Lauren and I made for them. Aunt Ina died in 2006.
Back (l-r): Lauren, Melanie, Papa, Mama, Mikaela
Middle: Jonah, Uncle Melvin, Aunt Ina
Front: Micah, Susanna

Uncle Melvin, who lives near Seattle with his daughter and son-in-law, is an amazing, Godly man. So when I had a college assignment to interview a mature Christian on Godly decision-making principles, he was one of the first that came to mind! In actuality Uncle Melvin is my mother's father's mother's brother--or, by my calculations, my Great-Great Uncle. Enjoy this interview with him, and hopefully you'll learn as much as I did from this wise man who has learned a great deal in his 93 years.

Mikaela: When did you become a Christian? How did you become a Christian?
Uncle Melvin: When I was younger, I leaned towards the Lord, because of Mother, and she would read the Bible to us. But she wasn’t always there, cause she was in the hospital and stuff. And I always knew there was a God…anyways, I got into the wrong crowd, not completely, ‘cause I knew a lot of stuff was wrong, but I did smoke. And then I was condemned for that when I found the Lord.
Actually, when I really got serious with the Lord was when my brother Smith was killed in an automobile accident…I kept going on to Cheney [the high school], but I knew that something could happen to me. And that was when I got right with the Lord. My father-in-law led me to the Lord.
M: How did the Lord lead you to marry Aunt Ina? How did you know that that was His will?
U.M.: OK—that’s a long story! Her father led me to the Lord. And I never knew he had a daughter until about a year later he came to take over the ministry of the church there for awhile. And then I got acquainted with her then, and like I say, why, then I took her to a “Youth for Christ” meeting in Colville, WA—that’s up from Spokane. And then I took her out [again]—that was the only two times I had ever taken her out. That was before I went into the Navy. When I went into the Navy, like I say, her folks went to Bellingham, and her father took a church there, and the Lord kept her—she could have married anyone she wanted over those six years we were apart. I was in the Navy part of the time, and she was away.
M: So after six years of waiting, then you were probably pretty certain that she was the one?
U.M.: Yep—oh yes. I thought she was the first day.
M: How did God lead you into ministry throughout everything that you did? How did you know that that was what He wanted you to do?
U.M.: It was in my mind when I in the service, and when I got out, I knew that I wanted to do something for the Lord. But I knew that I wasn’t a good preacher—I knew that, cause I went to Pullman [WSU] and Cheney [high school], but I knew that I wanted to do somethin’ for the Lord. After we left Horse Creek, we worked with the Sunday School class. And afterwards we worked with the Japanese for 10 years, both Ina and I. Sometimes you’re living—and you’re working with people. Being willing to work and not sit on a chair waiting to be told to work—it all affects how people take you.
M: Is there any decision you can think back to which you now regret? What did you do wrong in making that decision?
U.M.: Well, I suppose if I had a mother and father all my time when I was younger, I could have made different decisions. But, that’s where I say that mothers and fathers are so important—especially a father, which I didn’t have after I was 12 years old. And I didn’t have a mother after I was 11….I was the one that they always farmed out…but I’m thankful that I had a place to sleep—something to eat.
M: How did you pass on Godly decision-making principles to your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren?
U.M.: Well, that’s just it—that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to be the best father I could be and the best husband I could be and the best grandfather I could be, the best great-grandfather I could be. The best brother-in-law I could be and the best son-in-law I could be! …It’s easier said than done. Through God’s grace and mercy we can do all these things, and it has to be through Him.
M: How do you go about making a difficult decision?
U.M.: Well to the Lord, I say, “Holy Spirit, touch me.” And be sure you always ask the Holy Spirit to help lead you and guide you. Because Jesus, when He went away, He said He’d send a Comforter for us, and the Holy Spirit is the Comforter, and He is the one that guides us and directs us. And He’s always the one behind us, and He guides us with whatever we usually do and say. Maybe some of the time we aren’t listening, but He’s there to guide us; if we ask Him He’ll help us.
M: Is there a Bible character, verse, or book that stands out to you as helpful for decision-making?
U.M.: Well, I’ll tell you, my memory was just short, so I asked the Lord to help me to memorize more Scripture. So I memorize a lot of the chapters. I memorized the first Psalm—“blessed is the man”—and the 23rd Psalm, and then the 121st Psalm—the hundredth Psalm. And then my last one, I’ve been working on the 24th Psalm by memory. Really at this age—93—they don’t exactly back up like they should be. I read my chapters everyday—in my Bible. My son bought me a nice Bible where the letters are bigger—makes it easier for me to read. I go through that. I go through my devotional that I told you about—Billy Graham’s. And then I say these verses over each and every day. And I do it out loud—I do it alone so no one can hear me. Well, they do say that they can hear a moan. :)
M: I’m just at the beginning of my life with lots to learn and lots to do. What advice do you have for me in making decisions?
U.M.:Well, like I just told you, about staying in the Word. The Word will take you through. And if we’re reading the Word when the Lord comes, why we have more of a chance to make it than if we’re not reading, if we’re not staying in the Word. So it’s best to stay on the ball with the Lord. Because, well, about the ten virgins. Remember? They didn’t have their lamps cleaned—or the wicks cleaned—and they didn’t have oil! They were just too late getting them, so I say keep oil in your lamp. And then, whoever you choose for a mate, be sure that you know—you know—you know, you know in your heart—he’s the one.
M: Thank you so much, Uncle Melvin, I really appreciate you giving your time to talk with me. I’m so blessed to know you and glean from your wisdom, and you are a wonderful example of a man living for the Lord.
U.M.: Hope I do—I’m not what you would say really pure. I have my faults. I have thoughts which come across my mind which I have to ask the Lord to help me every once in a while. And the best thing to keep in mind is to pray for a clear conscience and a clean mind and a lot of compassion for people. That’s the only thing I can think of to leave with you.

11.13.2009

The Epitome of Pathetic

In six verses in Genesis we are told of one of the most pathetic actions in the Bible: Esau selling his birthright for bread and red stew of lentils. When I read that story, I am filled with disdain for a man who could be so blind as to give up his inheritance! How foolish—how idiotic! How…convicting. For if we Americans are anyone in this story, we are Esau.
In Esau’s case, Jacob recognized his brother’s recklessly desperate condition and craftily manipulated the situation to enrich himself. Satan likewise is very aware of the hold Americans have given him through their selfishness and greed, and no qualm deters him from eradicating America’s birthright: the next generation.
Esau denied himself his own birthright from the very moment he despised it. In that moment he lost every blessing and benefit that he could have reaped from the birthright and made himself vulnerable to any scheme against his birthright. Instead of accepting the leadership of his family and gaining the promise of unfathomable descendants, instead of making God “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Esau,” he chose stew. In the same way, by their own hands Americans have sentenced themselves to extinction in their loathing of pure, true womanhood; noble manhood; and the consecrated blessing of many children. From the moment that Americans despised the miracle and blessing of many children, and wished nothing more than to have that burden torn away, Satan captured and clutched those children. The eternal results will be no less devastating than the results Esau faced.
Esau’s progression, meanwhile, continued when he did what he had been mentally prepared to do all along: hand over his birthright to his brother rather than endure basic hunger until he could prepare some food. He chose instantaneous fulfillment of his stomach rather than his inheritance and responsibility of leadership. No better than that is the fact that Americans murder their future, their children, their blessing, so that they can enjoy this breath of life as far as they are capable. Americans relegate their children to pagan teachers, fussing and fretting when those teachers turn out to be pagan and bewitch their children. Women pursue recognition and glamour, deriding the role of full-time mother and wife as insignificant and contemptible in the world of career-based appreciation. Men live without purpose, failing to see the vision they have lost through their deprecation of their offspring. Esau later desired his blessing, but he was too late, and great and bitter was his mourning.
"Thus Esau despised his birthright" Genesis 25:34 says, and thus America has despised her birthright the facts say. Like Esau, we Americans are choosing instantaneous fulfillment of our flesh, our desires, our increase at the expense of our inheritance, our babies, our future. Like Esau, future generations of Americans will be enemies of the righteous unless we effect change. Like Esau, Americans will be ostracized and detested throughout history for our self-worship and self-love for which we will either do away with or sell our children and even our very souls.


Picture from http://masbury.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/jacob-esau-porridge-1_opt.jpg

11.10.2009

True Story

In our town of less than 50,000, we have no fewer than (wait, let me think…that first one…Fred Meyers…Safeway…that one by the bridge…the new one…is that all?) aha! Apparently, five Starbucks. It’s a rather astounding number for a town founded squarely on the shoulders of lumberjacks, but—after all—we are less than two hours away from the original Starbucks (I’ve been there, and it’s a beautiful thing). Although we can’t afford to frequent Starbucks too often, Mama made the time to meet a friend there one time last week after dinner.
She barely made it out alive.
It all started when, after consuming a cup full of frothy liquid, she had to visit the restroom. All was well until she flushed the toilet. Her first inkling that all was not well was when the toilet pipe alarmingly wrenched to the right and began spewing a waterfall of (clean) water at her. A girl’s gotta have priorities at a time like this, of course, so she rescued her new purse and then attempted to rectify the problem. Water shutoff valve? Negative. New plan—get help! Unfortunately, the “help” behind the counter was in the form of ineffective teenage girls who stared at Mama with even more cluelessness than she felt.
With no one able to find a water shutoff valve, and with water now beginning to pour out of the flooded bathroom and into the Starbucks (did I mention that this was our NEW Starbucks?), someone suggested calling the fire department as a last resort.
“Yeah,” put in a customer, “I’m a 911 dispatcher, and we should definitely call for something like this.”
“Ok,” said the Starbucks employee, somewhat timidly. “What’s the fire department’s number?”
Yes—be afraid. Be very afraid. I believe it was at this point that Mama considered escaping with her friend and following the tsunami evacuation route to avoid the imminent danger of a massive wave of water, coffee, and blonde baristas. However, being the brave soul she is, she stuck it out. Meanwhile, the water was positively flooding this Starbucks—our nicest, newest, most bee-yu-tiful Starbucks in town!
When the firemen finally arrived—sirens blaring—the men in red themselves searched for a water shutoff valve. Guess what? No valve anywhere to be found in that fancy-schmancy haven for coffee connoisseurs with water inches deep everywhere. To solve the immediate problem of water gushing out of a hole in the wall at an alarming rate, the water was turned off at the street, thereby effectively turning off water for the restaurants and businesses lining our city’s busiest road—a highway, actually.
With darkness enshrouding everything and blond baristas and loyal customers pushing water out with brooms, the firemen found the problem (apparently they double as plumbers), conversed with the just-arrived manager, and were able to turn the water back on. Mama, still soaking wet, filled the manager in on the details and gave her contact information.
And then she headed home to regale her family with the most outrageous tale they had heard for weeks. We’re still waiting for the official Starbucks apology and $50 gift certificate. Hey, patronizing Starbucks might be a dangerous job, but somebody’s got to do it!

Pictures are courtesy of Mama and her cellphone--thus the poor quality. They should be appreciated, because it took me 1-1/2 hours to figure out how to get them off the phone and onto my post for your viewing enjoyment--and proof! Of course. Because no good story is quite so good without proof.

11.05.2009

The Lights Are On



A small brown steeple spears the bleak sky,
Slows the blur of crowds pushing by.
Soot smears glass; graffiti stripes the porch,
But the lights are on in the church.

Outside, the rain beats and people run.
Loud raucous voices fade to a hum,
And someone stands in the flood to watch—
For the lights are on in the church.

A shamed woman cries here with release;
An unloved child stares at the cross—peace.
An addict ends now his frantic search,
For the lights are on in the church.

For the dark outside, they glow more bright:
Spill on the street, illumine the night.
People pause, knowing Someone’s at work—
For the lights are on in the church.

Copyright 2009 by Lauren. To be used only with permission.




11.03.2009

Dinner Time!


Baked apples just feel like fall, don't they? Pick out eight beautiful, juicy ones and get cooking!


Grind up some wheat flour.


Cut butter into wheat and white flour until the mixture is crumby.



Then a dash of salt and a few tablespoons of cold water are all you need to complete your bonafide apple dumpling crust!

Divide the crust into eight balls and roll them out to fit your apples. Fill the center of the apple with a tablespoon of nuts, and then fold the crust over your apple. Voila! One down, seven more to go!
Now for dinner...King Ranch Casserole is a family favorite and a Mikaela-Susanna specialty. ;-) Start with corn tortillas--spray them with oil and pop them into the oven for 12 minutes to crisp them up. Then, just to make things interesting, burn one sheet of your tortillas. It's a good scare tactic for all those smelling dinner.


For the sauce, simmer butter, cumin, dried minced onions, minced garlic, and chopped tomatoes until it is reduced. Thicken it with some flour and then add cream and chicken broth. Mmm...looking good!

Now add chicken and let it simmer for awhile. Meanwhile, break up all your tortillas into little pieces and grate some fresh pepper jack cheese (different combos of cheddar, mozarella, and pepper jack work too).

Take the pan off the heat and add cheese, cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste. You're almost done! Just scatter half of the tortilla pieces in your pan, layer with half the sauce, and repeat. Top with corn chips in the last ten minutes of baking, and you have just finished a yummy fall meal.

Don't forget to pose for the camera--and watch out for those sneaky, lens-loving brothers, too! =)


Baked Apple Dumplings
Crust
1 cup plus three tablespoons shortening
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
6 to 9 tablespoons cold water
Cut shortening into flour and salt until particles are size of small peas. Sprinkle in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with a fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost cleans side of bowl (1 to 2 teaspoons water can be added if necessary).
Filling
8 baking apples (each about 3 inches in diameter), cored
1/2 cup chopped nuts
3 cups packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cup water
Assemble apples as instructed above and place in an ungreased baking dish. Set oven to 425 degrees.
Heat brown sugar and water to boiling; carefully pour around dumplings. Bake, spooning syrup over dumplings 2 or 3 times, until crust is golden and apples are tender, 30-40 minutes. Serve warm with cream.
King Ranch Casserole
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 jalapeno chiles, minced (optional)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 cans diced tomatoes
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup heavy cream or milk
3 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
2 tablespoons miced fresh cilantro
4 cups cheese
salt and pepper to taste
2 1/4 cups Fritos corn chips, crushed
  1. Adjust oven rakc to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 450 degrees. Lay tortillas on two baking sheets, lightly coat both sides with cooking spray, and bake until slightly crisp and browned, about 12 minutes. Cool slightly, then break into bite-sized pieces. Using potholders, adjust top oven rack to middle position.
  2. Heat butter in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook onions, chiles, cumin, and garlic until lightly browned. Add tomatoes and cook until most of liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Stir in flour and cook 1 minute. Add cream and broth, bring to simmer, and cook until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in chicken and cook until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Off heat, add cilantro and cheese and stir until cheese is melted. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Scatter half of tortilla pieces in 13 by 9-inch baking dish set over rimmed baking sheet. spoon half of filling evenly over tortillas. Scatter remaining tortillas over filling, then top with remaining filling.
  4. Bake until filling is bubbling, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle Fritos evenly over top and bake until Fritos are lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Cool cassserole 10 minutes. Serve.

Serves 6--I usually 1 -1/2 times it.

Enjoy!


Blog Widget by LinkWithin