Something to hold on to...

"Today I am one day nearer home than ever before. One day nearer the dawning when the fog will lift, mysteries clear, and all question marks straighten up into exclamation points!
 I shall see the King!"     Vance Havner

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Great News

I am the worst blogger. Someday, maybe when I am old and retired, I will get to this more often.

I have great news. Oldest son has been accepted for a ministry position in Amsterdam!
He will leave in June for a six-month position at The Shelter Jordan, a Christian hostel in the heart of Amsterdam. He, and an international team, will be responsible for basic duties, such as checking in guests, some cooking, and maybe light cleaning, but will also be trained to lead small group Bible studies in English to the travelers. He will be trained for other mission outreach areas as well. To say that he is excited would be putting it mildly. He actually stayed in this hostel when he went on a short-term mission trip to Amsterdam, so he knows what it is all about and has been anxious to return. He will graduate on May 11th from both of his colleges with two bachelor’s degrees, and then will leave the first of June. He will return at the end of November. At that time he will look for a real job. How could he pass up this opportunity?
You should “Google” the Shelter Jordan, and it’s ministry programs. I am quite impressed with their mission.

My boys are becoming grown-ups right before my eyes and I am powerless to stop them. I actually do not wish to stop them, but my, the times they are a changin’. (Reference to an old song, for you young bloggers thinking I am making huge grammatical errors.)

All, for now, I am in the midst of a very busy week with something on the agenda every night. I will fill you all in at a later date.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Happy Anniversary Mother and Daddy

My parents are no longer living, but today I would wish them a happy anniversary. 72 years ago today they were married. It was on a Sunday, and after church, they were wed. My father proposed to her through a courtship of letters. He mailed her the dress he wanted her to wear. They were together for 43 years before she passed away.

Big Decision

Today's post is actually a copy of a letter which I have written to our choir director. It is from the heart, and I thought that it might be of interest. It is just a revelation that we all have gifts, given from God. We should not try to manufacture one to suit us, but that we should go with the gift He chose.

Choir Director, (names omitted)

At one time you asked us to write, “What I learned in choir”. I am as usual, a bit late. However, in one way, I am writing this at just the right time.

I do want to tell you what I have learned:

• I have learned that one, can in fact sing in the choir with no knowledge of how to read music, and that they will be accepted.

• I have learned that we are not singing to the masses, but that we are singing to an audience of ONE.

• I have learned that while our singing is partially intended to bring others into a state of worship, the biggest benefit for the choir is that it brings US into that state as well.

• I have learned that I am no longer a soprano, and made the switch to the alto section, (which still can seem like a foreign language at times).

• I have learned that when you cannot make the note, DON’T TRY. Just let the sweet sound of silence escape your lips.

• I have also learned the greatest lesson of all: I have learned, after the last 4 years or so, that, while I love the fellowship, I love the music, I love the times of sweet worship, I am truly not finding my best “fit” in choir. And I am okay with that. I have said that I actually, feel like a fish out of water. I truly feel that my gifts are best suited with the student ministry department. I find myself missing the youth while I am struggling to sing each song. Honestly, choir has always been a struggle for me, and while I feel I have improved over the years, and have gained confidence, it is not the best use of what God has given me. It still feels very unnatural. So, what I have learned at this point, is that it is time for me to bow out. Will I will miss it? Absolutely. Will I be tempted to sing along every time you are on stage? Probably. I will just let that sweet, sound of silence escape and sing along in my heart.

Many thanks to you, your husband, and the entire choir for welcoming a novice, for boosting my confidence when I had none, and for being a team which works together to make praise and worship to our Amazing Lord the most important task. I am proud to have been a part of this group.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Equal Opportunity

Decided it would not be fair to post a picture of Katie the Wonder Dog without posting a picture of Abby the Amazing Cat. I was tempted to do a "Farm Girl" technique and only show them from their backsides, but I am taking a risk and posting their adorable faces. I really don't have a cat story for you tonight. But, I am sure she will create one for you before long.

A Trim in Time Saves 90...

Word of advice: if you have a dog. Do not delay in having their nails trimmed. We knew that our black lab, Katie needed a trim. We talked about it several times. But, as things go, we just put it off. I do not trim her nails. They are all black and I am never sure where the quick is and I get scared. So we knew that a trip to the vet would be necessary.

Last night she greeted husband at the door as she always does when he arrives home from work. She was ready to play. She has a great dog-ball, with a built in handle so she can bring it back each time husband throws it. After about 3-4 times fetching the ball, they came back into the house. Immediately we noticed blood drops on the floor. Big ones. Luckily they had entered in the kitchen and I quickly blocked off the entrances to the carpeted areas. Upon examination we discovered that the poor girl had broken a nail. Now, that is bad enough when us real girls do that, but this was a small disaster. Blood everywhere, and neither husband or I quite knew what to do. We grabbed a fabric band-aid which stayed on for 3 seconds, then had better luck with a second band-aid. A brilliant thought entered my mind, and we slipped a sock up and over her paw, stretching halfway up her leg. After taping this snugly around the top we finally had her set for the night and she was welcome into the rest of the house.

Today, husband took her to the vet for a “removal of broken toe-nail”. This is where the story really gets ugly. Any time there are the words “removal of” in a medical procedure you can expect to pay the big bucks. $91.50 later, Katie is good to go. All nails neatly trimmed, antibiotics sent home and weeks worth of treatment: orally and topically.

I guess she is worth it. She was husbands 25th anniversary gift. It is just too bad she is not on husband’s insurance.

The picture is before this event. And yes, her nails were too long.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Silver Belle's Butter Bell

These pictures are by special request of the Queen Mother. Sorry Q.M. I am late reading my comments, so I just saw that you made this request.

This item is by far one of my favorite kitchen gadgets. It is a butter bell. From what I have gathered, they were first made in Normandy in the early 1800s. They work like this: You place one stick of softened real butter in the inside of the bell. About 1/3 cup of cold tap water goes in the open crock. The bell is then turned upside down. The water forms a vacuum seal, which keeps the butter fresh, not rancid, on your countertop for at least one month. This is dependent on two things: 1. You change the water to fresh tap water every 3-4 days, and 2. The butter will actually stay there a month. If you are like my family, having fresh, soft, real butter on the counter at all times is an invitation to make toast. I must admit, this item has been used daily for the last year and a half. (No, it is not the same stick of butter- I would not want to tell you how many pounds of butter it has seen so far)

Where do you buy these wonderful items you might ask? They are becoming quite popular and most mail order catalogs carry them such as, (Chef's Catalog, King Arthur's Baker's Catalog to name a couple). I purchased mine at a Doughmaker's Bakeware Factory Sale. However, I have found a local retailer that is willing to order these in special for me at a great price.

Reading update

For those of you who might wonder, I am continuing with my Bible reading. I have finished Genesis and will move into Exodus tonight. I am also reading Matthew and will finish that tomorrow night, then move on into Mark as well. It is becoming easier, and I am beginning to desire getting into the Bible more. Keep me accountable.

Dust, Email, and Snow

Finally. I have returned. I really do not like being away; it is just that I seem to always be in a flutter. I will try to catch you up with my exciting life as best I can.

On Saturday I cleaned oldest son’s room. He is back at school you know and I felt a certain urge to get down and dirty in there. My mother always said when she cleaned that someone was either coming or going because, “from dust we are created and to dust we will return”. Let me tell you that there were many coming and going in there. He has simply not acquired the cleaning gene. Nor have I for that matter. Anyway, I pitched things, sorted things, moved things and now it looks quite nice. The trouble is, I was wiped out after that. A bug, virus, or whatever got hold of me on Saturday and I was “spent” for the rest of the day. Youngest son’s room will have to wait until this coming Saturday.

Yesterday I spent the better part of the afternoon trying to fix an email problem with the new computer. Seems no one was getting my emails even though I received them just fine. It was not an easy job. Oldest son tried everything he could to diagnose over an instant messaging session of just what the problem was and how to fix it. We tried countless things. Finally he had me change a few things and he took over my computer. He is about 100 miles away and actually took over the controls of my computer. I had to change a few settings for him, and then he did his thing. It was like watching a ghost inside my computer bringing up programs and typing away. However, it did not fix the problem. I quickly changed those settings back and gained control once again. At that point, I called our ISP and they enlightened me. It seems that when you get updates online through Apple, they change security settings, which play havoc with the email program. Fortunately I was speaking to a tech that actually knew what he was talking about. After maybe 5 minutes, the problem was solved and I am good to go. I apologies to those who thought something should have had a reply…I did not know things were not going through.

Today I went to school, reluctantly. I am waiting for a snow day. We did have snow this weekend. About an inch and a half. Not enough. I want lots. Just once, I want enough to wake up to the exciting news of school being cancelled. I know I am spoiled, but there is just something about that unexpected day off that is by far grander than any planned day off. I feel so productive on those days because I am immediately in a good mood after hearing that announcement. So, I will keep wishing and hoping.

I should go now. Meat loaf is in the oven and I want to prepare some potatoes to oven roast along with it. I will try my best to update more often.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Silence and Slugs

The silence is strange. Number one son left Monday for his last semester of college. Both of the boys are now gone and the house is not only quiet, but a bit empty. Literally. They take so much back and forth with them. My sunroom is once again mine instead of being filled to the gills with game systems, stereos, vinyl albums (yes, vinyl- they are popular once again) and all sorts of college guy paraphernalia. Our dog is now moping through the house. She is used to sleeping with one of them during the night and lying across them in the daytime. Now she is quite confused. I am not moping, but I am finding the house to be a bit too quiet.

Now would be a great time for all of those winter projects that I keep putting off, however, I do not seem to have the motivation required for such tasks. Usually after school, and endless errands I just feel the desire to be a slug for the rest of the evening. Am I the only one who truly deep down feels like a slug at times? I hope I am not.

Perhaps after a few more days of adjustment I will find a neglected task or two to dive into. That is, if a slug CAN dive…

Monday, January 15, 2007

Recipe Request for Farm Wife

Snicker Doodles

1/2 cup margarine (soft)
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1-teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons cinnamon/sugar mixture to coat

Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix margarine, sugar, shortening, and eggs until creamed. Blend in dry ingredients.
Shape into balls and roll in cinnamon/sugar mixture.
Bake 8-10 minutes.

Kitchen Toys

These are my new toys. I actually received them about a week ago, but had problems uploading the photo. It is a set of English Baking Canisters. They are beautiful light tan stoneware with very nice gasket seals inside. I love them. They are huge. The flour canister holds a whopping 10 pounds as does the sugar canister, while the brown sugar one holds 3 lbs. I am not a daily baker, but I do bake often enough that a typical canister set can be a pain when you have to refill them constantly. It is a serious hobby. Today, I baked mint chocolate chip cookies to send with one of my college boys.

In my list of favorite things, I mentioned kitchen gadgets. These are not quite considered gadgets, but they are for the kitchen and they do make me happy. They rate right up there with my cookbook collection. I may have to post a photo of that at a later date.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Sister Belle

I have one sister. Coming from a large family with many brothers, I am blessed that God decided that the only two girls should be placed next to each other in the birth order. I am the baby and “Sister Belle” is nearly 2 ½ years older. Our relationship has come a long way, a very long way. Today, I was fortunate to spend the day with her and I was reminded just how blessed I am. As children we had a typical love-hate relationship. Sometimes we were the best of friends, but often we wanted little to do with each other. Then, in high school the gap widened. We really did not like each other for a while. Then changes began. She married. She became a homemaker extraordinaire. She gave me a nephew and niece, both of whom I adored. I moved away to go to college and realized how much I really loved her, and missed her. She became my best friend. Then about 11 years ago, she became a true sister. She gave her life to Christ and was baptized. I cannot tell you how much closer we have become since that day. We live one hour apart. I know that is a mere stone’s throw to many of you, but it is too far. I would have her as my next-door neighbor if possible. We are very close, and we take the time to remain close. She is still a “homemaker extraordinaire”; she cooks, bakes, quilts, paints, and has an incredible flair for decorating. I am amazed at all she can do, and do well. Recently, she met an important challenge head on and has come out the victor. I am very proud of her. Our relationship is "real". She can be honest with me, and I with her.

So, “Sister Belle” if you happen to read this post, please know how much you mean to me. How much you have blessed and enriched my life. I just don’t take the time to say it often enough. I love you.

Hi, My Name is Silver Belle and I can't Spell...

First of all let me get something off of my chest. It has been brought to my attention that I should not proclaim myself as an educator on one post, and then have a spelling error on the next. Let me come clean. I, much like Farm Wife cannot spell. There, I feel better already. I admit, I sometimes try to use big words but don’t know how to spell them. When youngest son is home I can use him as a walking and talking dictionary. However, he has returned to school. But to my defense, I only work with challenged students. I know the words that I teach in my spelling group; I just don’t think I can bump these kids up to a higher level just yet. So, if you delight in picking out my errors, go ahead. I might even have a daily contest for the one who can pick out the errors the fastest and then make a comment to my post. I am thinking that just maybe, if I blog daily that I will learn a few new words along the way and teach the teacher a thing or two.

Something else was brought to my attention. In an earlier post, the one titled “This is Me”; I accidentally mentioned that my father passed away 2 ½ years after my mother. I do not know why I said that. He died just 1 ½ years later. That had to be a typo. I know the time frame all too well.

So, now with corrections and confessions made, I can get on to the true reason for my bogging. To empty my mind of the trivial, and excessive thoughts that must find a place at the end of the day. So, hang on, there is more to come…

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Bad Blogger

So my intentions were good when I started this thing. I saw myself being totally creative, writing profound and deep thoughts, and encouraging the masses. Now it seems I don't even have time to post but every 3-4 days. I am keeping up with my Bible reading, so that has taken about 15 minutes a day away from blogging. I did go back to school last week. And I have been spending time with my boys. But the intentions are still there. I might turn into a daily blogger yet. I promise to give you something interesting soon. I have a long weekend coming up; maybe there will be time. So, don't give up on me yet.

I did make 2 coffee cakes tonight. Is that newsworthy? I was the recipient of "Amish Friendship Bread" starter. Today was my baking day. I know, most of you are thinking it should be called "Amish Enemy-Maker Bread”; no one ever truly seems to want any. I kept 2 portions and baked 2 13X9 cakes instead of the "bread" recipe given. I just put the batter in the pan, added a streusel topping and some powdered sugar glaze when finished. It is actually good. I pawned the remaining starter off on the "new girls" at choir practice.

Well, I am off to catch up with Jacob and Leah and Rachel.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Still kicking

Yes, my loyal readers, I am still alive. Sometimes we just get so busy. Too busy, in many ways. Youngest headed back to college today. That meant that all the latest laundry had to be done marathon style, and many other fun things associated with packing a kid up had to be dealt with. It was good to have him home. Oldest took him back and will stay the night to catch up with friends. Next week oldest will head back to his college and wrap up his very last college semester. He is on the 5th year of a 5-year plan between two colleges and will earn bachelor's degrees from both in May.

Next week husband and I will start to reclaim the house and quite honestly enjoy having things "our" way again, but we treasure these days with our sons. They will become farther and farther between. I know that most of my readers are younger moms. My only advice to you is "Do not blink". You will blink and all of a sudden your baby will be 21. The days go fast and never repeat. I have tried to enjoy my boys at every age. I did not wish for them to go back, nor did I wish for them to grow faster. We are given each stage only for a short time. Take advantage of them.

On a different note, I would like to report that my Bible reading has been on target to date. I have read daily and decided not to limit myself to 2 chapters as I did before. I read till I find the best place to stop. I started with Genesis; tonight I am ready for chapter 25. I will continue going through the Bible. I am also adding the Gospels into my daily reading due to a challenge from the youth minister. Can't very well expect my girl group to read the Gospels if I am not.

I still have many things to do to prepare myself for the work day tomorrow, so this post is short. More to come.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Showers of Blessings

In late March, our youngest will be heading off for yet another adventure. He will head to Kenya for a short-term mission trip. Yes, Kenya. It is a trip, which I know will break his heart, open his eyes, and stir his soul for years to come. He will work primarily in the village of Mitumba doing hard labor rebuilding homes lost in a fire. He will go to help bless the people of Mitumba, but will leave as the one who was blessed. His heart will never be the same. Last year he went to Taiwan, working at an orphanage for two weeks. He fell in love with the children there. He fell in love with the people, culture, and food of Taiwan. I am convinced that if it had been suggested, he would have stayed there as his team returned to the U.S.

He has a soul that is meant for adventure, and a spirit of generosity. These trips fit him like a glove. They are arranged through his college, and are "mandatory". Yet we feel they are a privilege. He has been honored to travel to these lands and has embraced the tasks which they bring.

I have been asked how I feel about him going to a place of poverty, disease, and unrest. I was asked if I was going to "let" him go. I do not have a choice. Regardless of the age of my son, I feel I would be interrupting God's plans if I were to deny him this trip.

Just recently he sent out letters asking for support . The trip budget is just too great for us, and he is encouraged to send out such letters. The blessings have been pouring in, some great , some small, yet all needed and appreciated. All affirming this trip in our eyes. God seems to want our boy in Kenya.

I ask for prayers now, in advance of this trip. God knows the details. Just tell him Silver Belle sent you.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Giggling Girls

I do not have daughters. God in His wisdom gave me two sons. I adore them. I have found though that they do not, nor have ever truly giggled. Oh, they have laughed, even full blown belly laughs, but a true giggle which starts in your mouth and extends through your entire body and they ends up in your eyes seems to come only from girls. I have however, been blessed by God to be a mentor of 5 high school girls. Each Wednesday night they grace my home with their presence, and invariably, their giggles. It is intoxicating. After a time of study, reflection, "hot topics" and prayer we find ourselves just enjoying each others' company.

We are learning together how to be more like Jesus, how to love others, and how to be real. Though I am their mentor, I am not their "leader". I have made it clear that they are not to follow me. I want to point them to Christ, because they need to follow Him. I am not sure if they know how much I am learning, how they are helping to hold me accountable or how they are helping to point me in the right direction as well. And, that they are teaching me to giggle once again.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

School Days

All good things come to an end. Tomorrow I must return to my real job. That of a teaching assistant in special ed. Most of me does not want to go back, but there is that percentage, that likes what I do for a living well enough that makes me basically ready. I really do not have an alternative, so to work I will go. I have enjoyed my time off. They have been busy days though, seems like most of the time I was caught up in a whirlwind. Our boys are still on their break, about one more week for youngest, more than that for oldest. The house will become strangly quiet after that.

I decided to begin my Bible reading in my own Bible. It is the NIV Worship Bible. I love it. From time to time I might post one of the quotes found within. I started at the beginning and read the first 3 chapters of Genesis. I will probably stick to 3-4 chapters a day to keep it doable.

Must go for now, supper is on the stove, family will be coming home soon. The rest of the evening I will be preparing my mind and body to return to school.

Monday, January 1, 2007

When you pray...

I am taking back something that I said in my earlier post. I stated that I had no resolutions. I have broken that already, I DO have a resolution. I am comitting to reading my Bible again on a daily basis. I do currently read, just not daily. I am hoping that one of you cyberbuddies, or one of my friends, or family members will hold me accountable to this. I have a One Year Bible that Husband's sister gave us a few years ago. I have not decided if I will use that or my favorite Bible. I am leaning toward using my own.

I also have two things to share with you. Both are prayer prompters. One you might be familiar with, the other I heard on Christian radio a while back. I wish I knew the gal's name who wrote a book which this was in so I could give her credit.

1. When we pray , follow the ACTS acronym:

A- Adoration
C- Confession
T- Thanksgiving
S- Supplication

This one puts our wants last, we are not used to that... Our youth minister uses this one with the students at church and it is a good one.

2. The second follows the word BLESS : When we pray for others, this is a great formula for what to pray for.

B- Body, pray for physical needs and physical safety
L- Labor, pray for the work of this person, it could be their job, school, home making, or whatever
E- Emotional, pray for their emotional needs and emotional safety
S- Social, pray for social contacts, friends, and for healthy relationships
S- Spiritual, do not forget to pray for their spiritual health, even if they are already a Christian

I love that one, because it encompasses every are of our friend's or loved one's lives.

Let me know if these work for you, and like I said, hold me accountable. I will let you know where my reading takes me.

Lazy beginnings

So it is the first day of 2007. Just as many folks my age, I do feel the years are going by faster as I get older. Everyone says that and you will too as you mature, because it is true.

This is not a big holiday in my family. It is just a day to chill. Husband and I did manage to make it to midnight last night at the home of friends, which is a monumental task for us, so we slept in a bit. College sons are both home on break and at the moment we are all just being lazy. (Well, does blogging count as being lazy, or being creative?) Oldest son is surfing on his laptop in another room, husband is reading the paper, and youngest son is watching TV. No big plans, no resolutions, nothing exciting going on here.

I plan to make a homemade pizza for our main meal today. The crust will be homemade, I have a favorite store-bought sauce which I will use. The rest of the day is up for grabs.

Enjoy your day, and year, use it wisely. Each is a gift.