See You Later

Every year in the fall, Linda says it to us: “I don’t say good bye, only see you later.” And the thing is? Because we’re sisters in the Lord, it’s true. It’s not some sort of denial of reality, it’s actually stating a truth that we often forget: that the bond we share in Christ is eternal. IN CHRIST, there will sometimes be temporary separations, but there are no good byes. This right here is the most beautiful thing about the family of God.

I’m saying goodbye to plenty of things this month.

I’m saying goodbye to the community we came to on our honeymoon, young, naïve, and freshly in love, a place that over the course of the last ten years has changed from unfamiliar to “home”. I’m saying goodbye to the waitress at the Timber Wolf who never forgot our kids’ names or that Zach preferred diet pop, to the people at the Max Mini who would tell us “just stop by and pay for it later” if we forgot our wallet, because “I know you will”, to a place where we had put in the work to finally know almost everyone who lived in almost every house we saw along the road by name.

I’m saying goodbye to the little farm on the lake that was God’s gift to us for eight beautiful years, to the house where our oldest daughter celebrated her first birthday, one daughter was born in the back bedroom and two other newborns were brought home, to the row of Oriental poppies along the chicken coop that were the one true triumph of my flower gardening efforts, to the length of that long, gravel driveway walked a thousand times and more, to the beloved Stone Axe Lake swans and loons and eagles and otters, and yes, even the invincible ground squirrels and cellar spiders.

I’m saying goodbye to the low brown church building we walked into one January morning with zero pastoral experience, and walked out of on this Fourth of July wiser and richer by 10.5 years, to echoes of potlucks and pizza parties and vacation Bible schools and baby dedications, and the double piano hymns rising to the golden pine ceilings, to the memories of laughter and tears, heartache and triumph, weddings and funerals.

But the people? The people who loved us deeply,

who welcomed us with open arms,

who humbled us with their generosity,

who were the village who helped us shape and mold our children for the better with kindness,

who appreciated and thanked us more than we deserved,

who were patient and gracious as we grew and learned,

who encouraged us and cheered us on,

who stuck by us faithfully through thick and thin?

(And you know who you are if you’re reading this—)

I’m not saying goodbye to you.

We’ll miss you, yes.

But even though the story God is writing for us and for you may be causing our paths to separate for now, it brings me great peace and joy to remember that it’s only temporary. One day, soon, we’ll be together again. Until then—thank you for everything and see you later, my dear, dear friends. May God bless you richly for your kindness. You will always be in our hearts.

“…to the beloved…whom I love in truth…I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul… I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face. Peace be to you.” (3 John 1:1-2, 14)

P.S. Alaska pictures and a report of our travels will coming as soon as I can get a few new camera/computer things figured out! But know that we have now arrived safely at our new home and look forward to sharing more soon!

On the Tenth Day of Summer…

IMG_9715-1.jpg…my camera gave to me,

Ten grasses a-flowering.

Grass is to the earth like hair is to a human.

We pluck it out here; groom it carefully over there.

We chop it off here; let it go long and admire the affects over there.

We like it soft and lush; don’t like it coarse and sparse.

We wish it would grow here; don’t like that it grows there.

It’s healthiness is directly linked to the water and kind of nutrients it’s been fed.

We take it for granted until it’s thinning, or gone—and only then do we realize how valuable it actually was.

When I was thinking about the things that are quintessential to summer for this project, I knew that grass needed to be featured at some point.   It’s one of those humble, hardworking, common plants that gets trod on and passed by every day without much thought on our part, paling in the limelight of showier, more popular plant relatives—but for once I’d like to change that.  While you’re out stopping to smell the roses, why not stop to notice the grass, too?  I mean, look at all those pretty little pink stamens on that timothy grass!  There’s a world of underappreciated variety awaiting your delight.

And while you’re at it, why not take the time to think of something (or someone!) else in your life that you might be taking for granted—and pause for a minute to express true appreciation and gratefulness?

“Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 5:20)

 

 

 

Declaring the Glory

IMG_5961.JPGIMG_5939IMG_5962-1.jpgIt was a long, happy weekend of giving thanks.  During family dinner as the silverware clinked on fine china, then again later as wedges of pie were passed, between friends, during joyful church services and into microphones, I heard people express gratefulness for so many beautiful things.

Some were humorously indicative of current life situations, such as…

“Getting 24-hour flu instead of a prolonged cold.”

“All the snow melting so I don’t have to plow.”

“Lefse.”

“Baby sleeping through the night.” 

Others were sweetly tearful, deeply emotional, such as…

“Healing.”

Long lists of volunteer services.

“A phone call from a long lost family member.”

“You.”

After all the feasting and gathering was over, I took an evening walk under leaden skies, picking my way along the the icy ruts of our driveway as I mentally added a few more things to the list, like:

“Cartons of freshly laid brown eggs in my fridge.”

“Homemade brown sugar hazelnut lattes.”

“The sound of little feet pitter-pattering down the hall.”

It was a wonderfully cheering thing to do on an otherwise drab evening.  But then this happened:IMG_5894.JPGIMG_5900.JPG The dim, dreary skies lit unexpectedly up with all this splendor that kept going and going and going and wouldn’t stop.  I paused to notice the first flush of pink, and then stopped to watch in awe as it spread and rippled and flamed across the entire canopy of the heavens curving over my world.  Then the coyotes started to yap far off in the forest, and I thought about the fact that there’s more than one way to make your voice heard.

People say it with words, the animals with their own unique sounds, the sky with color, each one declaring thanks and glory.  Yes, glory!

For the small things, for the large things, in all things.

To God, our Creator, Giver, Sustainer.

Because giving thanks really is just another way of giving glory.

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” (Psalm 19:1)

“All Your works shall give thanks to You, O LORD, And Your godly ones shall bless You.” (Psalm 145:10)

Sunlight and Shadows

IMG_9241.JPGWhen the winter days are so terribly short in the first place, one is all the more grateful for the sunshine when it blazes.  The last few days have been gloriously full of light, and I went out into it as often as I could, cutting new ski trails through the woods and hardly needing a coat, so warm I’d become between the exertion and the sunshine.  It’s so easy to love winter when the fresh snow is sparkling and billowy, and the sun sets in a blaze of fire at the end of each day.

These are the kind of days where I can go out and be completely content taking photos of nothing but the shadows across the snow, mesmerized by the art created by such simple combinations of the trees and a low-blazing sun.  It was a wonderland of artful graphic design, wind texture, trunk stripes and interlocking branch lace, painted across the sweeping canvas of sparkling unmarred snow.  I hated to ruin any of it with a ski trail—but then there would always be an even more inspiring display of shadow around the next curve in the trail.img_9245IMG_9251-1.jpgBut then there is today, when a warm snap is melting sad dirty spots in the plowed snow banks and the sky is one solid wash of nondescript gray.  The light filtering foggily through those clouds is so diffused, there aren’t any shadows.  This, I must admit, is not quite so inspiring.  And it’s strange how easy it is to let one’s mood swing with it.

And then, I am reminded, in a funny sort of way, of what my eldest daughter said when she prayed before supper the other night:

“Dear Lord, thank you for chicken, and squash, and milk…and something that I don’t know what it is.  Amen.”

My husband and I exchanged amused glances.  There was no doubt that she was referring to the helping of cream sautéed cabbage I had spooned onto her plate just before we bowed our heads, at which she had wrinkled her nose uncertainly.  In a familiar, happy world of bright orange buttercup squash with puddles of melting butter, cold glasses of milk and roasted chicken crusted with fragrant herbs, this limp pile of beige and brown was getting a low rating indeed.

But, to our surprise, she included it in her list of thank yous anyway.  It was different and unappealing, but she said thank you.  (Later, she was to find that her first impressions were all wrong, that cabbage sauteed in cream was actually really good.)

And I was convicted.  Gray days and dirty snowbanks are perhaps as uninspiring to me as creamed cabbage is unappetizing to a 4-year-old—but do I say thank you for them as readily as she did?  Do I trust that all the things my heavenly Father puts on my plate are for my good?  Cabbage, gray skies…or otherwise?  Do you?

“In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

 

 

 

 

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Ten Things To Do When Overrun With Pumpkins

img_7563And I return, with the second in my series of “Ten Things to Do With Over-Abundant Vegetables” posts.  I didn’t necessarily set out to make this a series, but last year’s post on cucumbers ended up being a popular one—and even I referenced back to it when I needed to refresh my memory this summer.  So, here we go again—and this time pumpkins get to take the stage!

Last year we got so many pumpkins, I gave some away, allowed others to freeze in their role as porch decorations instead of rushing them inside to save them, and even threw away the last couple that spoiled before I could get to them.  That was after I had frozen I don’t know how many quarts of roasted pumpkin for future baking projects.

I scaled back on the number of pumpkin hills this year, but the ones I did plant are already promising to produce abundantly.  And then, when I cleaned out our freezer last week, I discovered 20 quarts of frozen roasted pumpkin.  People, I did this is a whole year later, and I promise that I actually did use some throughout the year.  Whoa.

So it looks like I’ll be making a lot of pumpkin things in my kitchen in the coming weeks—and I thought maybe you’d like to join in on the fun?  The list that follows includes some of my personal tried and true favorites.  (It does assume, though, that you know about the tried and true classics, like pumpkin pie (Libby’s forever!!!) and pumpkin bread.)

  1. Give thanks for your blessings.
  2. Make the cupcakes that are usually my birthday cake.
  3. Make these pumpkin muffins with cream cheese filling, or these without.
  4. Make pumpkin pecan backed steel cut oatmeal for breakfast.  Pro tip: surprisingly, this dish, like pumpkin pie, is better cold so it’s great for making the night before.  Also, it’s especially amazing topped with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a drizzle of maple or agave syrup.
  5. Make sweet pumpkin scones or savory.
  6. Try pumpkin in your pasta.
  7. Try your hand at a homemade pumpkin spice latte!  My friend Erica has an awesome recipe here.
  8. Carve out the inside of a giant pumpkin and fill it with apple cider for a fun punch bowl for an autumn party.
  9. Fall decorations, of course.  I love the look of white pumpkins in rooms where I don’t necessarily want to add the color orange, but do want to add a touch of fall!  Take note for your garden next year:  this little heirloom variety is easy to grow and produces enough to decorate your whole house and share some with your friends!  (Spoken with the voice of experience!)
  10. You know how they say that the old time settlers used to use all of the pig except the squeal?  Well, you can use all of the pumpkin except the skin.  Roast the seeds, and  then recycle the stem to make these.
  11. Bonus for you: my favorite Cinderella pumpkin seeds can be found here.