Monday, February 28, 2011


“When God moves us out of our comfort zone —- into places that are way bigger than us, places that are difficult, hard, painful —- even hurt — this is a gift. We are being given a gift. These hard places give us the gift of intimately knowing God in ways that would never be possible in our comfort zones.” -The Holy Experience

Truth be told, I am way out of my comfort zone... Part of me longs for escape, but a bigger part longs to grow through this difficult time. There is much to be thankful for in this "gift," I know that, but what to thank Him for, I am not always certain...

Who is the woman living in my house? Is this really the same woman who tenderly cared for me as a babe? The same one who tied my shoes and held my hand on long walks? Is this the woman who smiled proudly on my wedding day? Is she the one who sat on the living room floor and played "Cars and Blocks" with my boys, the one who lent a listening ear so many frustrating days?

She says growing old is hard and I've no doubt of that, but watching one's parent grow old is not a picnic either. I've not yet mastered the art of answering repeated questions without a trace of irritation. I've not yet figured out how to gracefully intervene in sticky situations. I'm not yet sure how to decipher the now blurred lines of parent and child...

One thing I do know, if I am willing to believe and trust my Father in heaven knows what He is doing, underneath the wrapping is a gift and God is near.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thess. 5:18

I finished reading my book but the journey has just begun. Can I find God in life's everyday moments and stop to thank Him even when it seems He is faraway? Can I open my hands, unclench the fists that have so long held darkness tight? Can I let it all go and praise Him for every thing, for every moment, good or bad? And how can "the bad" be truly so if He is in it?

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Gift of Winter

So maybe my blog header and back- ground is wishful thinking after all, but wasn't it just a few short days ago I took the sunny photograph? Overnight we were plunged back into winter. Is there something to be grateful for in the midst of this icy grip?

A fire in the stove
Pot of soup on the stove

Good book to read

The end of winter is not far off. We hunger for spring, having tasted her goodness. We know the promise of her arrival is near and we long to see that promise fulfilled, but for now we will savor the goodness of winter.

a hot cup of coffee
board games after supper

extra blankets piled high

Maria's Note

"hi Mrs Teal, Beth just called me, she wanted me to tell u that she is doing fine (she is in Medan now) and tomorrow she will be flying to Manado and fly over in Jakarta for 2 hours.she met her adopted child already and she cried so long, when she had to leave.she said she missed her ...son was nice knowing that she is doing fine in Indonesia. we were talking for more than 15 mins.she said she couldn't call u guys... after 3 days in Manado she will be flying back to Singapore.. too bad I will not be able to see her..or send something to u all from here :( I asked her whether she could get out from jakarta's airport so I can meet her ( too bad it's a short layover..) :'("
This was on my Facebook wall this morning, a note from our friend Maria who lives in Jakarta. I found myself feeling teary and smiling, both at the same time. I have kept up with the toll free updates, prayed continually for my daughter, and checked the itinerary several times, but there is something about getting a personal note that touches the heart...

Thank you for your prayers.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Learning to Wait

Deceptive little packages aren't they? Can "bliss" really be raspberry flavored and wrapped in pink tinfoil? Wouldn't it be nice if life was that easy? If it were "that easy" would we truly be happy and content? I doubt it. The longer I live the more I see that contentment doesn't come from having things my way, it's actually quite the opposite. The exercise is in being satisfied when things don't go the way I planned. It's something I'm still learning.

Today I took a ride to the Department of Motor Vehicles with Ben and Hannah. The office is about 40 minutes from home, far enough that it isn't a trip I want to make again any time soon. We filled out some forms, took some numbers, and sat down to wait... and wait... and wait... and wait... The line ahead of us dragged. Apparently there was a computer problem... Some folks decided to leave and come back another day, others of us decided to hold out. We finally left the office 3 1/2 hours after our arrival. Our patience had paid off and the trip was a success. This summer we will be able to drive across the border into Canada with our "Enhanced" identification cards. I think that's pretty sweet, and you know, aside from being hungry, I didn't find the waiting too painful.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

F is for Faraway Friends

F is for Faraway friends.

I am blessed beyond measure to have friends in faraway places. My daughter is working on her status as World Traveler and last week her travels took her to southern California where she was honored to stay in the home of my blog friend Wanda for a couple of days before taking flight across the Pacific Ocean. (She looks tired doesn't she? Well, for Wanda it was 10 pm but for Bethany, who lives in Eastern Standard Time, it was 1 o'clock in the morning.)

Of course Wanda is not the only friend we have who is far away. Our friend Ben also happens to be far away. He is in the Navy and is stationed in southern California. What do you know! He happened to be in LA on the same week Bethany was there. Wanda and her Dearest were kind enough to invite him to dinner and a round of target practice with those famous "Old Timer" rubber band guns.

I was already blessed to know Bethany had a friend waiting, now I am double blessed because Ben was able to see the familiar face of a friend in a faraway place and take home a bag of Wanda's homemade cookies.

Click here for more of ABC Wednesday Round 8.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Ray of Hope

Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the LORD.
Psalm 31:24

I bought another notebook, a pretty pink, spiral notebook covered with butterflies. It is for keeping my list of One Thousand Gifts; all the little things in life, my everyday life, that I am thankful for, a tangible list, and an offering of thanks to the One who loves and saved me. I find myself smiling more already...

# 16 The sound of his voice, my Darling's, in song
# 18 Sunshine on cold winter days
# 19 Baby showers

Have you seen Wanda's blog? I've had much on my mind this weekend as my oldest daughter travels halfway around the world.

# 7 Blogger friends

What a comfort to know I have friends on the other side of the country, and that God put them just where they would be able to reach out to my beautiful daughter in the midst of her travels. Not only that, but they were willing to invite a family friend, also in their town this weekend, for a meal as well. And some target practice to boot! What a blessing!

# 23 Facebook messages from Singapore

I'm still reading the book that arrived the other day, still being encouraged, still learning. There is hope and I am thankful for that gift too.

One Thousand Gifts
or more...

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Wonder of It All

"Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it." Luke 18:17

Wonder... It is found in the heart of a child and shines upon the world through the windows of his eyes. The world is fresh and new, and he is in awe. I have pondered this other days, days which seem now distant, and wished for the eyes and heart of a child once more.

We pulled out the Play-Do yesterday morning, rolled the dough flat, pushed it into the "fun factory" and watched it ooze snakes and long flat slabs. His eyes lit up, pudgy hands reached out to touch the cool substance, each color more enticing than the previous. How do I recapture the wonder, the joy of something as simple as Play-Do in my hands?

Does the elusive child-likeness really come in something as seemingly simple as being thankful? Can I truly find joy in all my everyday moments? Can I learn to be a grateful child?

Gift # 13- Play-Do
#14- Eyes to see life's simple pleasures

Friday, February 18, 2011

Learning Life's Lessons

In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thess 5:18

My books arrived with the mail this afternoon. Funny how I ordered several copies last week and then found myself face to face with "One Thousand Gifts" again this week through my sister in law. She is counting gifts on Facebook and must have started reading this book somewhere along the way. It took me a little bit to realize her posts had been encouraged by the book I had just ordered. My own curiosity had been sparked by something different, a blog I was introduced to several months back. A Holy Experience comes to me in my email though I must confess, in my own unwillingness to take the time each day, I have not been an avid follower and I have missed the blessing.

Encouraged by the touch of a Savior who loves me, who never gives up, One who hears the cries of even the most stubborn of His children, I am being made new. It is He who gently, unwraps the clenched fists (I read about them in another book last night...), and it is He who calls us to be thankful in all things. I believe my heart is now willing. Please forgive my bouts of tantrum and whining. Thank you for your prayers. The journey has really just begun...

She's Okay, He's Okay

I got a Facebook message from my daughter this morning. It said, "I'm here! And I like Wanda!" I found a smile creeping over my face. I went to sleep last night with no worries. I knew she would love Wanda, and I'm pretty sure Wanda will love Bethany too. I'm praying they have a wonderful time together today even if it does rain in southern California. Tomorrow she continues on.

Here the sun is shining. My driveway, which was a sheet of solid ice on Monday, is now a muddy mess. Andrew found the puddles wonderful for stomping in and I wished I had taken my camera out to snap some pictures.

Andrew is now attempting to play the piano while my mother tells him to "Get down and get outta there." He tells her "No," and "I'm okay." I really don't mind if he plays the old piano for a little while, but how do I balance that with her request that he leave it alone? Oh, the decisions... For now I am staying out of it and just listening. I have told her enough times that "he's okay" when she is telling him to stop something or other, and that is why he now tells her this. I am afraid I'm breeding disrespect and that is something I did not intend. But, children will spin themselves in circles, they will climb, they will do things that drive old people mad, and usually, they are okay.

I suppose it's time for me to go and keep the child entertained, or maybe be entertained by him. :)

Thursday, February 17, 2011


I am listening, listening to my mother talk to Andrew as they play with the Play-Do he brought yesterday... He calls her "grandma" and tells her the Play-Do is "mine." It is rare for her to sit at the dining room table and interact with him while playing, but this is what I once expected she would do.

I have escaped to my computer room where I can see the play area and still find myself somewhat secluded. I long for a few hours alone, yet am not quite certain what I would do with the time if given the chance... probably squander it.. or maybe I should say relish in it and do little of any significance. Maybe I would just soak it in, breathe a sigh of contentment, close my eyes, and go to sleep.

My ears are tired. Tired of repeated questions, tired of continual commentary, and yet one day I will surely long for these days. How can one be so fickle? Why can I not muster up the feelings I know are good and right? It is the strength of God that must found in these times, but it does not come without an effort on my part to at the very least let go of me, and I find my fists so tightly clenched. "God, pry my clenched fist open... Open my hands to freely give and receive Your love."

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

World Traveler

My darling daughter is about to embark on a grand adventure. This fall we baked a million pies and now her efforts are about to pay off. Tomorrow she will begin her journey as she flies to California. On Saturday she will board a plane with some traveling companions and fly to Indonesia for a ten day tour. I can't wait until she comes back home and tells me all about it!

(PS. This is an old picture. I'm not nearly as cute anymore.)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

E is for Elderberry

In keeping with my food theme, E is for elderberry. (It is known as "holunderbeere" in Germany and this I know because I served an elderberry pie for dessert once when a German friend was here.)

Across the road in my neighbor's yard are some elderberry bushes. Each August Bob comes knocking at my door to see if we would like some. I always say yes, though there was a time when I wasn't too sure. If I look a little unsure in the picture, it's because I wasn't yet sold on the idea.

Each year when Bob comes calling I gladly accept his offering. We pull the tiny black berries from their stems and fill up a big bowl. I measure them for pie filling, dump them into zip-lock bags, and toss them in the freezer.

Elderberry pie was always my dad's very favorite, but I don't recall Mom ever making it. I don't recall ever eating myself it until we moved across the street from Bob, and truthfully, at first I wasn't impressed, but my family liked it, especially with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Funny thing, I've come to think of elderberry pie as one of my favorites lately too, and apparently it is highly sought after and rather hard to come by for some folks. (We found that out on our pie making venture this fall...)

Click here for more of ABC Wednesday Round 8.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Day, Valentine!

Happy Valentine's Day to My Darling.

Once I made a list about him. Here it is. Let's see if anything has changed...

1. He loves cookies and ice cream.
2. He's pretty good at driving a Bobcat. (Sold that.)
3. He doesn't wear a watch.
4. He has a mustache and beard in the winter.
5. He usually shaves his beard for the summer.
6. He can find mint chocolate no matter where I hide it. (I'll have to try this out again some day.)
7. He has four older sisters and one younger brother.
8. He likes babies but not their noisy crying.
9. He always buys new clothes for a wedding. (We'll see when Nate and Sabrina get married.)
10. He doesn't like snow.
11. He doesn't know where I hide my candy. (I think he has a pretty good idea now...)
12. He will be looking for it.
13. He likes to have control of the remote. (Now that we don't watch regular television he doesn't mind giving it up.)
14. He cries at Cinderella. (Some things never change.)
15. He cooks great breakfasts. (I wonder if he still knows how?)
16. He was born in Japan.
15. He is Canadian and American.
16. He is not Japanese.
17. He used to live in Albuquerque.
18. He loves green and red chiles. (Need to get some more of those.)
19. He also likes seaweed.
20. He has a 6 year old step sister. (Imani is now almost eleven.)
21. He likes cats. (Um... yeah, but not what they leave on the floor some mornings...)
22. He does not like loud noises.
23. He doesn't like lima beans or liver.
24. He has muscles like Popeye.
25. He does not smoke a pipe.
26. He wears glasses to see far away and takes them off to read. (This one is getting a little iffy...)
27. He is not a grandfather. (Well, he is now!)
28. He owns a sawmill. (Sold that.)
29. He's looking forward to summer.
30. He climbs trees. (I have not seen him in a tree in a while. He should probably stay down.)
31. He has a monkey suit which he wears outside when it's really, really cold. (Not seen that monkey suit this year.)
32. He doesn't ski.
33. He could if he wanted to. (He could also break his leg.)
34. He has blue eyes.
35. He never wrote a book.
36. He needs a new wedding band. (Still... )
37. He doesn't own a pogo stick. (But his birthday's coming.)
38. He drives a big white van. (Hm, he had a big yellow one for a while there, but we're back to white again now.)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Last Leg

Snow is a funny thing, especially along the shore of a Great Lake. One minute it's stormy and the next it's clear and sunny. (These pictures were taken just minutes apart.) I've not got cabin fever quite yet. Several years back I set my mind to enjoy the winter months, from the comfort of my living room, of course. Once in a great while I'll even purpose to enjoy it from the out of doors. Spring is right around the corner. Winter has another few weeks to wield it's strength and then the sun will gradually take over and spring will arrive. For now I'm savoring the snowflakes... Actually, today is a dripping icicle day. They're melting!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Don't Like the Weather?

"Rochester: Land of the Shifting Skies"

This was Nathan's Facebook status tonight. It made me smile because it is so true. I drove through sunshine, cloudy weather, white out conditions, and then sunshine again. The only thing that didn't change was that brutal wind that sapped my energy and left me thinking of an early bedtime.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Booger Freezing Days

It was another cold morning at the bus stop; booger freezing weather if one breathes though his nose. Each morning I gather Mom's paper from the box out by the road and take it in to her where she checks the weather and says something like, "Oh, it's going to be cold today. Twenty-five degrees!" She doesn't know that the temperature at the moment might be 5º with a bitter wind chill to boot. It's really too cold to play outside in the snow, but a few minutes to a child is worth an hour or more in "adult time." We were blessed to have a rather calm morning with little to no wind today.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sub Zero

Bright, beautiful, and deceptively sunny... I bundle the little ones into their winter clothes and together we make the short trek down the snow covered driveway. The powdered snow squeaks under our feet and my nostrils burn with the cold. The windchill is once again well below zero degrees Fahrenheit, though the actual temperature is about 8º. I gather Mom's newspaper from the box and check for yesterday's mail which was forgotten in the busyness of the day.

The bitter wind stings my cheeks and bites at my nose, but the children barely notice. They are too caught up in the excitement of snowballs and mounds of snow left behind by Dave's snowplow. The bus arrives, gatheres the girls into it's shelter, and rumbles off down the road. Andrew and I wave our mittened hands to the driver and head back toward the house. Untouched snow along the driveway and into the yard is left sculpted by the wind. I can just imagine what the frozen wastelands of the tundra and Antarctica must look like.

Inside the house we pull off boots and mittens. My coffee, is finished brewing, an inviting aroma in the air. My Little Guy nibbles on graham crackers and drinks apple juice while I sip hot vanilla coffee. The day has just begun...

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Volcanic Banana Bread

A friend of mine had surgery last week and I thought it would be nice to send her a loaf of homemade banana bread. I mixed up two batches, one for us and one for her. About 40 minutes into the baking Hannah came and said, "Your banana bread is running over." I thought the pans looked fuller than normal when I filled them, but I have used this recipe for years without any problems... I did change it slightly, but exchanging the milk for a container of vanilla yogurt never caused an eruption before... I looked in the oven. Big blobs of batter were blackening on the oven floor while more continued to ooze down the edges of the pans. I grabbed an old cookie sheet to catch whatever else might fall and turned on the exhaust fan. I rechecked the recipe which I had followed mostly by memory... "1 beaten egg..." Hm... I suppose two beaten eggs might cause a bit of a problem... and a rather big mess. Needless to say I will not be giving any of this particular bread to anyone living outside of my house. It has a very crunchy upper crust and a very moist inside, kind of like a banana pudding bread or Banana Bread Pudding... It would be wonderful served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if I only had some.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

D is for Donut

D is for donut! (Or is that doughnut?)

D is for Dunkin Donuts and also for Donuts Delite. Dunkin Donuts is okay. We stopped there briefly twice on Saturday. The story is here. I like their donuts and muffins, enjoy their Dunkacinnos, and find them conveniently located. (There are three between here and Walmart... oops, make that four.)

When I was a little girl there was a different (different than Dunkin) donut shop very close to where my father spent his first fifteen years. It was one of a kind and made the very best donuts in the entire world. To this day, whenever I think about donuts, my mind immediately goes to the delicious confections my father brought home on rare occasions. My favorites were the powder covered jelly donuts and the jelly inside was nothing short of yummy! I understand they carried 8-9 different kinds of jelly donuts. I suspect my favorite was probably strawberry or raspberry.

Donuts Delight, much to the dismay of loving locals, closed down in 2005 after nearly 50 years in business. Too much competition from chain stores like Dunkin, Krispy Kreme, and Tim Horton's put a lot of pressure on the small local business. The story does, however, have a happy ending. Another local business man decided to buy, restore, and reopen Donuts Delite. He even has the original donut recipes! There were many very happy customers. Me, I rarely get any farther than Walmart, but I'm thinking a trip to the other side of Irondequoit Bay may be coming in the very near future... I want to get some of these. Click here. YUM!

And to think I thought about featuring Durian fruit...

Click here for more of ABC Wednesday Round 8.

Monday, February 07, 2011

A Good Day in the Garden

It was a good day in the garden. We had an extra "flower," a very small one, whose gardener was feeling a bit under the weather today. We found this small flower quite talkative and not near so sleepy as most very small flowers are. Aside from the gardening, I'm not sure if I accomplished a whole lot today, though I'm fairly certain that snuggling small and tender plants is a very important job.

I did fight off a headache with some ibuprofen today, washed a few loads of laundry, and actually got supper on the table by six o'clock. Tonight I stayed home with Mom and read my book, "The Hiding Place" by Corrie ten Boom, while Mom attempted to finish off a word search book. After staying up much too late due to a Superbowl gathering at Bethany's house last night, I think I shall try to turn in early tonight. That means I'll have to put those freshly laundered sheets back on my bed. I just love fresh sheets!


I've not got much to say this morning... Guess I'll go find some toys to play with.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Empty Donut

Hannah was hoping for a donut. She was hungry after getting up late and having to wait an hour to eat after taking her antibiotic. I stopped at Dunkin Donuts and sent her inside where she bought herself a Boston Cream donut. "Only one?" the clerk asked and promptly charged her for two. Imagine her disappointment upon finding that not only was she overcharged, but her chocolate covered donut was missing the filling. She looked about ready to cry,... but she didn't. We held onto the receipt. After a couple hours of running errands we were ready to return home. On the way we stopped back at the donut shop. I went in with her, explained the problem, and ordered myself a Dunkacinno (half decaf). Not only did they gladly replace the donuts with custard filled ones, but I got a free coffee. I think we'll forgive them. :)

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Taking a Collection

See these two beautiful boys? They are going to have a new baby at their house sometime this summer. What a handsome collection of grandchildren I shall have!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Grandson Day

It may have been Groundhog Day for the rest of you, but for me it was Grandson Day. I had all three of my little grandsons come to play. It was a perfect day because otherwise, with school canceled, I would have been lonely.

The cars and blocks came out and a long carpet tube for the cars and trucks to drive through. There were Cheerios, there was noise and jumping, there was a blood curdling scream. There were some cups of tea, there was a little bit of arguing, and there was lunch. There were hugs and there was music. It was a good day.

PS. I don't know what happened to our snowstorm. It must have taken an unexpected turn just after all the schools decided to close for the day.

Grandmanita, the video is for you. Can you guess who the quiet one is?

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

C is for Cookie

C is for Cookie! It's good enough for me! (I bet you were expecting something healthy like cantaloupe or cranberries...)

One of my favorite childhood memories is helping Mom make cookies. I got to dump, stir, sift, and grind walnuts. There was nothing better than a batch of warm cookies waiting on the counter.

Everyone loves cookies! My longtime favorite cookie is molasses, the kind rolled in sugar with crinkles, or cracks, on top. Oatmeal is another favorite, the chewy kind with raisins and a little coconut baked in. I can almost believe they are good for me! Peanut butter cookies are great to make with small children who like to criss-cross the tops with a fork. Of course we like cut-out sugar cookies at the holidays and sit around the table frosting them and sprinkling them with colored sugar, jimmies, or non-pareils. But everyone's most favorite cookie of all is the chocolate chip cookie. That needs no explanation. Would you like a glass of milk with that?

Click here for more of ABC Wednesday Round 8.