Archive for December, 2007

Company’s comin’!

Monday, December 31st, 2007

Tonight we’re hosting a fun time of food and fellowship at our place. Whenever we have lots of company, I like to use my crock pot to make some sort of sandwich filling, and then set up a buffet, so people can just help themselves to food. Somehow this seems a lot less stressful to me than serving a sit-down dinner. This also makes it possible to invite lots more folks than we have room to seat at the table!

I think I’ll also bake a hearty potato casserole to go with the sandwiches. The friends are bringing such things as desserts, veggies, salads, and some of the beverages. Isn’t it fun to taste other people’s cooking? Yum!

For this get-together, I borrowed my girlfriend’s crockpot, too, and got up early this morning to start the following recipe. I haven’t tried it before, but it sounds really good, so here it is:

Tex-Mex Beef Barbecue
(from the Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker Cook Book)

This recipe is for a 5 ½ to 7 quart slow cooker:

6 pounds brisket of beef

2 (18 ounce) bottles hickory-smoked barbecue sauce (I use Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Sauce)

2 (1.25 ounce) envelopes chili seasoning (or 6 Tablespoons homemade taco seasoning)

2 teaspoons chopped garlic

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 cup chopped onion

Combine all ingredients, except meat, in crock. Stir well. Brown meat first, if desired. Add meat and stir well to coat. Cover and cook: Low – 10 hours OR High – 5 hours.

Remove the meat and shred. Return the meat to crock. Stir well. Serve on soft rolls. Makes approximately 16 servings.

When serving something like this, I also provide sliced cheese, extra barbeque sauce, and additional toppers such as sliced fresh onion.

Now I’d better get going with the day’s work. 🙂

P.S. – Here’s the homemade Taco Seasoning recipe:

TACO SEASONING MIX (from Set for Life by Jane Merrill and Karen Sunderland)

2/3 cup dry minced onion
4 teaspoons salt
¼ cup chili powder
¼ cup paprika
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
¼ cup flour
Mix ingredients. Cover and store in cool place.
2 to 3 tablespoons equal 1 package taco seasoning mix.
Stir seasoning mix into meat or beans. Add ½ cup water and simmer 10 minutes.
Yield: 1 ½ cups

The Last Lord’s Day of 2007

Sunday, December 30th, 2007


(Image from Snapshots of Joy)

Tonight, our pastor took time to reflect on the past year, and reminded us that the seasons of life go by so quickly. His sermon was based on those well-known verses from Ecclesiastes 3:1-15, but particularly on verse 12:

1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

9 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?

10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.

11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time; also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

12 I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.

13 And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.

14 I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever; nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.

15 That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.

He pointed out that these verses are NOT telling us what to do, but are telling us what actually happens in the course of a life time. There will be good times AND bad times. These things happen not because of fate or chance, but come to us from the purposeful, personal direction of the holy God.

EVERYTHING is meant to draw us closer to God. When things go well, we are to be thankful, acknowledging that all good gifts are from Him. When things don’t go well, we are to be patient and wait on the Lord.

I love the duty which God sets before us in verse 12. Even though there is so much darkness, wickedness, and selfishness in this world, it is the Lord’s will for us to REJOICE in Him, trusting Him, and DOING GOOD. That is my primary goal for the New Year, 2008:

As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. – Galatians 6:10

Sunday Devotional

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

I have often mentioned how much I enjoy Bob Hoekstra’s Daily Devotionals, which are available at Blue Letter Bible. The selection today is entitled, More on Walking with Jesus the Way We Received Him. Here are a few excerpts from his helpful writing:

As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:6-7)

The manner in which we received the Lord is the very same manner in which we are to walk in Him. “As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.”

We received Him by grace, we must walk by grace.

We were born again by the Spirit, we must walk by the Spirit.

Furthermore, when we first received Christ, He was our only hope. Now, we are to walk with Him the same way.

Truly, we need the Lord Jesus as much now for living the Christian life, as we needed Him at the beginning to be born again into it.

My Blogging Area, neat version

Saturday, December 29th, 2007


This is where you’ll find me when I’m checking my email, blogging, reading your blogs, checking out Facebook, etc. My laptop is in Rick’s office, which usually doesn’t look this neat. Today, however, we CLEANED. You are seeing the half of the office that is presentable. Rick is taking a little break before cleaning his work area. He usually works so fast and furiously that plenty of dust is kicked up as he designs those log homes!


This is my desk, also neater than in a previous picture, but I don’t know if you can really see the difference. It is no longer DUSTY; that is the difference. 🙂 I’m very pleased.

Everyone here really contributed to the cleaning effort. This mama appreciates their help SO much, although I was getting rather grumpy towards the end. I think I was tired of trying to decide what to keep and what to toss, and was also wanting to cook rather than continue cleaning. We ended up having a very simple, quick dinner: Broiled English muffin pizzas, and tossed salad, and felt more cheerful once we had food in our tummies. We keep looking around and admiring our cleaning handiwork. (“When was the last time the house was THIS clean?”)

A peek at my cluttered corner

Friday, December 28th, 2007


I was on my way upstairs with a stack of bath towels to put away, when the phone rang. I sat down to talk and took the opportunity to put up my feet for a moment. Rick captured the moment with his new camera on an unusual setting that is mainly black and white, with touches of green here and there. I like the photo, but I notice how very CLUTTERED my work corner has become.

We have lived in this house (that Rick built) for 19 years, and have raised our nine children here. Five of the children have grown up and moved to their own places but the home is still pretty cluttered. We really do sort things out every so often, and the time to do some serious sorting has arrived once again. I am going to look around the house with an honest eye and ask myself, “Why is THAT THERE?” “Have I been using THAT, or shall I give it away/throw it away?”

My problem is that I tend to stack things, and I hate to throw things away, thinking we might need them/be interested in them/do some future craft with them, etc. I am getting bugged by myself, so, tomorrow, with my girls’ help, serious sorting is going to happen. 🙂

Haiku Blogging

Friday, December 28th, 2007

My theme for this Haiku Friday is BLOGGING, and the friendships that are a welcome by-product of that activity.

Haiku Friday

The world is smaller

Or, my neighborhood’s larger

Internet friendships

Before busy-ness

A moment to read your blog

How’s your day going?

Virtual visit

We’re perhaps nations apart,

Yet friendly neighbors

It does my heart good

You share your story, your thoughts,

I care, kindred soul

Creative outlet

This is my avocation

Writing for the world

I send forth my thoughts

Summations of golden days

Will they cheer or help?

For more Haiku, visit Jennifer over at Playgroups are No Place for Children and Christina at A Mommy Story.

Thursday Thirteen

Thursday, December 27th, 2007


Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others’ comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Thirteen things I appreciate about my family

My husband truly seeks to shoulder the responsibility to lead us in godly ways. Rather than being self-indulgent, he focuses on what is most beneficial for our family. This doesn’t mean that he is a stick-in-the-mud, by any means. Any nuttiness in this family comes from him, I do believe.

We know how to make our own fun. Tonight, for example, Kayla, Rebecca and Lydia are each writing stories in cute journals they bought for one another. This is a real stretch for them, creatively, since they are more used to composing their stories on the computer, where it is easier to quickly edit what they are writing.

We are honest with one another. When a conflict arises, we acknowledge it, and seek to communicate fairly about the misunderstanding or misbehavior or whatever, in order to resolve it. No conversational terrorism is allowed.

I think the children genuinely love and enjoy one another. Training the children to be kind to one another was a higher priority to me as a young mother than almost anything else. Now, it gives me so much joy to see our young people choosing to socialize with one another, and doing thoughtful things for one another.

I am pleased that, as the children grow up, they each recognize their particular talents, and pursue the training and/or education required to refine and develop those talents. I don’t see the biting, competitive, boastfulness that is all too common in our society, but rather a quiet pursuit of excellence.

We all love to read, and constantly recommend books to one another. When our family was younger, I would read aloud to the children, sometimes for hours, because they would beg me to keep reading. Not having a television was a good thing, as far as developing a love for reading was concerned.

I love hearing the girls play their violins, though this happens less frequently now that they attend school rather than being home schooled. There simply is not enough time left over for hours of music practice now that the girls are involved in track, soccer and basketball, as well as spending hours at school.

I’m pleased that the children know how to help around the house and yard, and DO help. They are valuable members of this family, and contribute to our well-being. Admittedly, procrastination does strike occasionally, but the grumble-bug generally stays away.

I like that Rick is involved in Seth’s extracurricular sports life. This extra time that Rick spends with our youngest son yields a closer bond for them. Also, Seth is learning so much about maintaining a cheerful, winning attitude when the going gets tough, and working as a member of a team.

Sometimes Rick will get out his guitar and we’ll all start singing old folksongs or songs remembered from childhood together. He and Debra love to sing the psalms together. Sometimes they will sing together for hours on Sunday.

I’m thankful that we have daily family worship in our home, when we sing a psalm together, work on memorizing the Heidelberg Catechism, read a chapter from the Bible, and pray. Seeking God first keeps us on track, as far as believing and doing what is right, and in being reminded to love one another.

I’m thankful we go to church together, and that the children go to church JOYFULLY. They appreciate the faithful preaching of God’s Word, too.

We all enjoy showing hospitality to others. It is a joy to share our home and our food with friends, old and new. The children help in all the preparations (especially in neatening the house) so that showing hospitality doesn’t become burdensome to the mama.

Über cuteness

Wednesday, December 26th, 2007


Aren’t these tote bags awesome? When our boys came home for a visit, one of them was wearing a T-shirt with the “She blinded me with library science” logo. When I asked him who “she” was, I was informed that he’s still looking for her. I highly approve. Girls who like to read and think about things are the best!

As I’ve mentioned before, I work as a math paraeducator, because I love kids and want to help them overcome learning difficulties, AND because I love MATH! Therefore, I have ordered one of these SO cute MATH totes from Questionable Content. Maybe T-shirts with the MATH logo could be motivational-type prizes for the 6th grade math students. Hmmm . . . I’ll have to run the idea past the two teachers with whom I work. (Just couldn’t resist; I also ordered MATH totes for those special ladies. They will LOVE them. ♥ )

Together Again

Tuesday, December 25th, 2007


From left to right, going around the table: Michael, Sarah, Debra, Seth, me, Rebecca, Lydia, Kayla, and Philip


From left to right (from my vantage point): Rebecca, Lydia, Kayla, Philip, Rick, Michael, Sarah, Debra and Seth. The only ones missing are Laura (Sarah’s twin), her husband Darren, and their son Diederick.


Here’s a more informal shot of the family, with each one doing his or her own thing. Left to right again we see Michael, Rebecca, Seth, me, Philip and Lydia.


Sarah (off camera), Joyce, Philip, Kayla, Rebecca and Lydia playing Skip-bo. 🙂


Me, in the kitchen, where I’ve been spending quite a bit of time the past few days. (That’s a good thing.)


A cute photo of T. Take a look at her self-portrait on her blog and see what you think.


I like this black-and-white of Philip.

To Do List

Monday, December 24th, 2007


Here is a festive-looking bouquet to decorate this post. This is one of the first pics Rick snapped with our new camera, taken of the bouquet he gave me. We had lots of fun teasing back and forth about what the bouquet was “for”. Neither of us had gotten upset with the other and needed to show how sorry we were; it was not my birthday, nor was it the anniversary of any significant day. Rick knows why he got the bouquet for me, but he’s not telling. 😛

Anyhow, on to the substance of my post. Ahem. Earlier I did a Thursday 13 post listing 13 things that I hope to accomplish during this Winter Break. Here, Dear Readers, is my progress thus far:

  • I read one of the books Reb and Lyd recommended to me, and it was such a good book: Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie, a novel by David Lubar. The book was clever, educational, funny, and sad. [Disclaimer: Some of the subject matter (attempted suicide) addressed in this book is too serious for any young readers you may have. There is also some profane language in the book.] From this book I learned what a “Tom Swifty” is. Here’s an example: “I’d like a hot dog,” Tom said frankly. Do you get it?
  • I played games with the children. Hopefully there will be more of that to come over the break. Great fun; lots of laughs. 🙂
  • I went out to eat with my husband to a nice restaurant (The Black Forest Restaurant in Everson). Yum! Schnitzel, sweet-sour red cabbage, onion-fried potatoes and steamed green beans, tossed salad and garlic toast. What a treat!
  • I didn’t have to bake the gingerbread cookies, because my girls did it, then some of the children and their friends enjoyed decorating them. We made short work of consuming those special treats.

If I make good progress on the remaining goals, I’ll let you know.

At any rate, the next few days are going to be very busy. Dear Reb is going to have her wisdom teeth extracted early Thursday morning. She will probably just want to rest after that. I must make sure to have plenty of soft foods at hand for those difficult first days. Also on Thursday, Seth is planning on having a couple of his guy friends from church come over to play. I am SO HOPING that we don’t receive ICE RAIN as the AccuWeather forecast is predicting.

I absolutely must find new medical insurance coverage for my mom, as her doctors are no longer going to honor the one she presently has, after January 1st.

Also, I must get the coolant changed out in the Suzuki. Very important, and so easy to forget to do. The ph of the present coolant is all wrong. What does that mean? Do you know? The mechanic said it “means” get the work taken care of ASAP. 🙂

Tomorrow is Rick’s mom’s birthday. Her gift should be there by now, but, again, we MUST remember to call. Very important. She’s a great mom-in-law. I’m so thankful for her. She is going to be having EXTREME back surgery soon. I shall spare you the details, but this is serious business for a 78-year old lady.

Tomorrow we once again have the privilege of hearing God’s Word preached. Something good with which to be busy, indeed.

Dear Readers, I hope you are enjoying this season with your families and friends. I bid you “Adieu!”