Wednesday, February 27, 2008

TT#24: How Does My Garden Grow?

Thirteen Things about MomHuebert

Spring is coming. Even though there's still snow on the ground here, and it's still cold, it feels like Spring. The shadows are different, the air smells spring-y instead of winter-y; there are robins!

I'm not the only one feeling the change of season coming. My friend Ornery's Wife

(who by the way gave me this wonderful award:
Thank you!)

is feeling her oats and planning her garden already, and she wrote a TT about it. After reading her list, I thought I'd like to make my own. So, Wife of Ornery, this list is for you. Let's compare lists!

This year, I'm going to plan my garden backwards. Instead of asking myself, "What do I want to plant?" I'm going to ask "What do I want to eat this summer?"

Well, I want to have a good summer picnic/cookout meal. That means burgers on the grill-- which, of course, I can't grow in the garden-- but I can grow almost everything else.

First, we'll want pickles on the burgers. I love to make our favorite pickle, Russian Dills, so I'll need to plant...

1. Cucumbers

2. Onions

3. and Dill

Well, the dill usually comes up by itself, but it will definitely be in the garden.

Next on the menu, to go with our burgers, will be

4. Corn (On the cob. Of course.)

After the corn, I want to have salad. I'm really looking forward to an enormous salad with any number of wonderful young vegetables in it. Let's start with...

5. Lettuce (a mix of several kinds)

6. and some Spinach

Then let's add...

7. Tomatoes. Tiny pear tomatoes, yum.

8. Zucchini.

9. Peppers

10. Broccoli

And it might be nice to have some chips and salsa, so let's plant salsa makings:

11. Tomatoes

12. Peppers. Both sweet and hot.

13. Onions

Oh-- and we have to have potatoes! I think I'll cut them in chunks, cover them with seasoning, stick the chunks on skewers, and grill them:

14. Potatoes

Well, gee. I'm full already. I guess I'll have to save for another meal the green beans, the beets, and the carrots. Oh, and the pumpkins. And the marigolds. Wait. Marigolds?

So what's growing in YOUR garden?

P.S. All pictures courtesy of Gurney's and Henry Fields.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Day The Ice Cream Didn't Melt

Yesterday I mentioned several things I want to blog about, but I'm not going to write about any of those yet, because I remembered another thing that is on my list.

Over at My Ice Cream Diary, there is a contest going on. Post a story of a favorite food experience by February 28, and you will have a chance to win a gift certificate to an online candy store.

I definitely want to put in my bid, so here's my story.

Most summers our family likes to take a day to go to the Platte River. It flows from west to east across the midsection of Nebraska, headed for the Missouri River. Most of the year it runs slow and low; it's usually ankle to knee deep. In some places it's only a bed of sand, although they say when it's that dry the river still runs under the sand.

When the kids were much younger, we liked to go in late summer, when the river was only ankle deep, because it was like a giant wading pool. It was fun to play in-- you could splash, and build sand empires, and float-- with very little danger, which made it much more restful for mom and dad as lifeguards.

Usually on these excursions I'd pack up some sort of "snackage" as Hubby says, maybe sandwiches, or granola bars, or-- if we were feeling energetic-- a full campfire menu of hot dogs and marshmallows.

One year we'll always remember. It was a Sunday afternoon. We had gone to church in the morning, and there was no evening service, so right after Sunday dinner, we packed up our swim gear and our snackage, and a thermos of water, and headed out.

It took about an hour to drive to the little park that has river access. We swam, and played, and hiked around the river island, and got mosquito-bit, and sunburned, and tired. Close to sunset we decided we were ready to go home. By then we were hungry. I mean HUNGRY. The kind of hungry you get when you've been playing in the water for a long hot afternoon. There really ought to be a separate word for that kind of hungry. It's the kind of hungry that when I was a child made me eat a full-size candy bar and an entire 16 oz bottle of pop in one sitting, and then go eat a huge plateful of supper.

So there we were, with four of those kid-size outdoor appetites, which by nature are double the adult-size outdoor appetites-- and there were two of those. The snackage was long gone, and it was an hour drive till home. The kids were sure they would faint from hunger before we got there, or maybe start gnawing on the van curtains. And I wasn't sure but maybe I'd join them.

Hubby and I thought through our choices and tried to pull up mental maps of the countryside, asking ourselves, "Where's the nearest town?" Once we figured that out, we headed straight there in the hopes of finding something open. Because out here in the boodocks, there's no guarantee. I know in our tiny hometown, NOTHING is open on Sunday.

The first town we drove through had nothing(literally-- no grocery store or convenience store of any kind), so we drove on, a few miles out of our way, to a larger town. We drove around, and JACKPOT! A grocery store! And it was open!

Now, I don't know what you would have bought in that circumstance. From this perspective something tells me we should have bought bread and peanut butter. (Oh but then we would have needed something to spread peanut butter with. Okay, maybe we could have bought crackers and cheese.)

But for some reason, on that very hot day, after driving around in an un-airconditioned van, we headed straight for the ice cream section, and here's what we got:

(Of course, I don't remember if this was the actual brand we bought. Probably not, since it says "New England's Favorite" on it, and we don't live anywhere NEAR New England.)

But notice one little thing, there in the corner. Do you see it? It says "12 pack." We would have bought a box of six, but the store didn't have any, and we had our heart set on ice cream sandwiches. But that created a problem. Think. Six people. HOT August day. No air conditioning. A long drive. If we each ate one, that would still leave six in the box. How would we get the other six home?

We almost gave up the idea, but then Hubby had an inspiration.

The kids were electrified when Hubby and I climbed into the van with our booty, and announced, "You each HAVE to eat TWO of these! Before we get home!"

If there was ever rejoicing and thanksgiving and myriad sounds of hungry animals, it was then.

Because those were the days of hand-me-downs and thrift store shopping; when a family excursion was going to the library or to the river (we couldn't afford something you had to pay for.) Ice cream sandwiches were a once-a-summer treat, and even then, you only got HALF a sandwich, to make them last longer. (I'm serious: we cut them in half. That way, a box of six would go around twice.)

So on that day, to HAVE to eat TWO WHOLE ice cream sandwiches was unheard of luxury. It was paradise, or maybe heaven.

That was probably 15 years ago. But the kids still remember; it's one of our favorite family memories.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Learning to Pray All Over Again

I have so many things I want to blog about and I can't decide where to start.

There's all the pictures LovelyDaughter took on Butchering Day. I'd love to write about that. It won't be too gory, I promise.

And then there's the Random Meme I've been tagged for by Cricket's Hearth. I want to make sure to do that.

Oh-- and the nice award given to me by Ornery's Wife. I've got to pick it up and show it off and publicly thank Ornery's Wife for her nice words.

And I'd love to share about the wonderful worship meeting we had Sunday night.

But you know what I've been doing? I've been spending all my time thinking about, and learning about, and starting to practice, "fixed hour prayer." You know, where you have morning and evening prayer, and sometimes midday and bedtime prayer. (Of course, there are fancier names, but these words I understand!)

The prayers are usually out of a prayer book of some kind, and there are several choices available, mostly just Anglican, Roman Catholic, and some Irish stuff that looks really good, but I have no idea what denomination it falls into, if any. The same prayers are used day after day, sometimes in a weekly cycle; in addition to patterns of Bible readings and Psalm chanting.

This is something pretty new to me, raised as I was in an independent, fundamental, bible church. We had daily "devotions" or "quiet time" that we were encouraged to have, but we were on our own for the most part. However, we were so afraid of "vain repetition" that prayer books and such like were unheard of; although, in recent years I've come to wonder about that misplaced fear. After all, many of our services were extremely repetitious. I joke now about having "Three Hymns and a Sermon" every single Sunday.

But this new/old idea is starting to catch on again. I had no idea that my personal interest is being echoed all over the Christian community, across denominations.

Why am I interested?

Because I want to take a more disciplined approach to meeting with God every day. I could just buy a devotional book, but I'm not satisfied with sermonettes-- I want a framework to help me focus my heart and mind and spirit on God himself. I want to pray, to worship, to listen, and in the praying and worshiping and listening to know God better and become more like him. And in all that, to have strength for my days and to reach out to others.

Because doing it with beautiful, repeated, prayers, helps me get out of myself, and more into God. Because "recital theology," as one man put it, helps get it off the page and into my heart.

I've looked all over my local bookstore (disappointing) and the internet (helpful) and found some resources to help me do that.

My favorite so far is the basic Book of Common Prayer. The prayers in it are just wonderful-- almost like poetry-- and say things I want to say to God, only better.

Like this prayer for "Quiet Confidence":

O God of peace, who hast taught us
that in returning and rest we shall be saved,
in quietness and in confidence shall be our strength;
By the might of thy Spirit lift us, we pray thee, to thy presence,
where we may be still and know that thou art God;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer is a little difficult to navigate, and I almost decided to give up on it, till I found this website that lays out for you everything in the order of worship for each day.

Another choice I really like is a book called "The Divine Hours." There are three volumes, one each for Springtime, Summertime, and Autumn/Wintertime, and they have daily prayers for morning, midday, evening and bedtime. There's even another volume for the night watch, if you want to pray in the middle of the night. (Each day's reading from the Divine Hours can also be read online. Just go here.)

According to what I've read, the Daily Prayer, or Divine Office, or Daily Office, or whatever you call it, is not supposed to be your only prayer. I mean, you are not limited to the written prayers. The Daily Office can get your pump primed, so to speak, and set an atmosphere of prayer. I'm really excited about starting on this adventure. I'm calling it the "discipline of worship."

Before I go, I just have to tell you about the birthday present I ordered for myself.

There's one other book that captured my imagination. It's called "Celtic Daily Prayers" and it's put out by the Northumbria Community in Scotland. It's looks very good. (You can also read it online.) But-- what I'm really excited about is this:

It's the daily prayer, the "office," put to music-- beautiful Celtic music. I'm so touched and inspired by the sample I listened to. I'm so excited I can hardly wait till the CD gets here. (Unfortunately, it's not available in the US, so I ordered it directly from the Northumbria store, which is called "Cloisters.")

But to go with it, I ordered this:

A book called "Multicoloured Prayers," which is "An exciting collection of outlines to colour in. Use ‘Multicoloured Prayers’ for relaxation or meditation, on holiday or retreat."

I can already see myself listening to the music, and coloring, while my spirit prays.

I'm so excited. Or did I say that already?

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Fellowship and the Ring, part 3: The Finale

Here's the third and last installment of my "Trilogy of the Ring." If you have no idea what I'm talking about, here are links to the rest of the story:

The Fellowship and the Ring, part 1
The Fellowship and the Ring, part 2

All three parts in one place: Trilogy of the Ring

All the way out to the car, which was a lot shorter than it sounds, I was praying hard. Please let him buy that ring for me. Please let it be for me! Praying variations on PLEASE while Hubby opened my door, let me in, shut my door, walked around the car, opened his door, got in, started the engine, put his hand on the shift lever.

And then he stopped and looked at me. "Let's talk," he said.

My heart stopped, and then jumped. "About what?"

"You really want that ring, don't you?"

I nodded, imploring with the biggest beagle eyes I could manage. And then caught myself. Be an adult, I told myself, not a begging child. I swallowed.

"Yes," I said. "I really do. It would be like getting my old rings back, and you know how much I've missed them, even though it's been all these years. It just seems right. It's my size-- and you know how unlikely that is. It's the exact size and shape of my diamond, the one we picked out together. It's cheap!"

He sat thinking. "Then I think that ring needs to go home with us. Sound good?"

I think I could hear angels singing. I resisted the urge to scream, and jump up and down. "Yeah. I think so."

Later Hubby told me that he honestly did not get it. He had no intimation that there was any significance to this incident, until we were in the car, and suddenly realization hit him in his midriff. If it was important to his wife, it was important to him, and even if it ended up costing a thousand dollars, that ring was going home with us! Tell me God doesn't answer prayer.

We went back in, marched up to the jewelry counter, and said we wanted that ring. He sold it to us for $60, instead of $65. I'm not sure why, unless he was just thrilled to finally get anything at all for it. I mean, really, who wants somebody else's wedding ring. Why did they sell it? What story is behind it?

Plus, the ring has some wear on it-- somebody else's wear. It's not shiny and new anymore. But for me? Perfect. The ring had the wear on it that my original ring would have had on it by now if I'd had it all these years. And my ring would have had stories of its own. No-- this was just right.

I walked out feeling like a newlywed. I had a wedding ring again. Nevermind where I got it from-- it felt like I had MY ring back, only better.

We even decided to extend our day and go out to eat to celebrate. Nothing expensive, because that's how we started our married life-- frugal, inexpensive; counting relationships and people more important than money.

It was February 10, 2005. We announced our engagement on February 12, 1981.

The Fellowship Group had grown into meetings that had been nicknamed "The Barn" because we were using our barn/garage/workshop. We were no longer a group of half a dozen adults and as many children, but a group of twenty to thirty.

At a "Barn" meeting soon after I got my ring I found myself talking to a young woman, showing off my ring and telling her all about it. At the end of my story I told her, "It just seems interesting to me, that I got my new ring in February, which is the same month I got engaged all those years ago. But if God wanted to make such a coincidence, why didn't he have us buy the ring on February 12? Then it would have been a REALLY cool coincidence. Instead, we got it on the tenth; which is sort of cool, because we got married on October 10...."

The young woman stopped me and said, "That's easy: you got it in February, to commemorate your engagement, and on the tenth to commemorate your wedding. February for the diamond engagement ring; the tenth for the wedding band. Simple."

Fast forward a few months. (Months in which I wore my ring with great joy, and showed it off to anyone I thought might be interested.) See me sitting in a Barn meeting. GuitarGeek is playing his guitar. People are praying. I have my eyes open (don't tell my mom), staring at my hands, thinking hard about God, and listening, asking God to speak to me. Then I focus on my ring. Ah...such a beautiful ring. God is so good to restore to me my rings, even if I do end up watching the light twinkle and flash from the diamond during a prayer meeting.

The whole story went through my mind, as I sat admiring the ring in general, and the diamond in particular, and thanking God. Then the thought came to me. Why did God do that? I had prayed many times over the years for either a replacement ring, or for the longing for one to go away. (After all, what's a ring, really?) But God had done neither. And now, out of the blue, here it was. Why?

And quick as a wink, in that quiet prayer meeting, listening for God's voice, I heard the answer: It's your reward. You held fast. You conquered in the battle for your marriage. The ring is now tangible evidence of victory, and your reward. And see the diamond on the wedding band? You didn't have a diamond there before. Just a little something extra to say, "Well done."

The whole world, including my heart, stopped for one eternal moment. I thought I would weep. But instead, I laughed.

Epilogue: October 10, 2007, we celebrated our twenty-fifth anniversary. We made it to the plate!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

TT#23: Thirteen Things About Me, An Illustrated List

Note: The third and final episode of the Trilogy of the Ring will be posted on Friday.

I got this fun idea from Lulu. There were twenty items in the original list, but I pared it down to thirteen, partly for the sake of the Thursday Thirteen, and partly because I didn't know how to answer some of the questions. And partly because I must be a bit of an oddball and didn't know it, because some of them were very hard to find pictures for.

And now I'd better explain what I'm talking about. It's a list of questions that you answer "using only pictures found online (only the first page of results.)"

I wasn't sure what "online" meant, but I searched on google images, figuring that was pretty close. However, I noticed that Ornery's wife just posted a very similar list, and her instructions said to use PhotoBucket.

Well, I'll have to admit sometimes I had to go through several pages of images to find anything usable for some of my answers, and some I just gave up on.

But all that aside, here is my Illustrated List of Thirteen Things About Me:

1. Age I'll be on my next birthday:

My how time flies. Therefore, the clock seemed appropriate.

2. A place I'd like to visit:

3. My favorite place:

4. My favorite object:

My Palm Zire 72 pda. It has my calendar, my to-do list, my alarm clock, my concordance, several bible translations, and a bunch of other things that I'd be lost without.

5.My favorite food (surprise, surprise):

6. My favorite animal:

Well, I don't know if I really have a favorite, but we used to have a pet mallard named DuckDuck, and that was fun.

7. My favorite color:

Seriously, I love lots of colors together. You should see the two quilts I made. Hmm, maybe you can, if I post pictures sometime....

8. City in which I was born:

How many of you know that Kansas City, Kansas started out as Wyandotte City? But then the city wanted to bask in the reflected glory of Kansas City, Missouri, and changed its name. See, blogs can be educational.

9. The town in which I live:

10. My nickname/screen name:

11. A bad habit I have:

12. My first job:

13. My dream job:

In case you'd like to use this idea yourself, here are the questions I left out:

The name of a pet
Your middle name
Your last name
The first name of your love
Your current job
A picture you find hilarious
A picture that inspires you

Monday, February 18, 2008

I Am (Super)Woman--Roar!

I can't believe what a great day I had Saturday. I was up early, helping send Hubby and our three boys off to get started with butchering the hog Hubby had brought home Friday. I'll tell more about the actual butchering later, with pictures, but for now, I want to brag about my superwoman day.

After getting the guys fed and sent off, I started a batch of cookies, then a batch of bread. LovelyDaughter headed over to Grandpa and Grandma's house, where the butchering was taking place, to help carry "lunch" for the guys.

"Lunch" is actually "Faspa," which is a low-German term for a snack-meal that is usually served mid-afternoon, but also mid-morning if the guys are working hard. I should explain that we live in a Mennonite community because Hubby comes from a long line of Mennonite heritage and culture. We have his family tree in a book, traced a hundred or so years back, to the original man who immigrated here from Ukraine. Most of the Mennonites around here are hard-working farmers, but a lot of them also do other kinds of manual labor, like construction, roofing, plumbing. The Mennonite work ethic is laudable. And hard, outdoor work creates quite an appetite.

Anyway, in this community, any Mennonite gathering includes food-- lots of food. Breakfast, morning lunch, Dinner, afternoon lunch, Supper. And any time someone drops by, you offer food. Potluck dinners used to have a rule: Bring a dish for every member of your family. So if you had six people, you'd bring a couple of casseroles and desserts, some bread, a salad. It's not quite that bad now, but potlucks are still a display of plenty. Which reminds me of a joke:

How many Mennonites does it take to change a lightbulb? Ten. One to change the bulb, and nine to bring lunch.

Okay, where was I?

Oh yeah. My big day. Butchering day requires mega-amounts of food. I made cookies on Friday, and bread for the family, but nothing else. So Saturday morning, I got busy. Here's what I had made by eleven thirty:

--a batch of bread
--a batch of chocolate chip cookies
--two prieschka bars
--a huge batch of tapioca pudding

Oops, I'd better explain "prieschka bars."

A traditional mennonite food is "prieschka," which is sort of fruit turnovers. You take a square of pie dough, put a spoonful of fruit filling (e.g., cut-up raw apples with sugar and cornstarch), bring opposite corners together and seal all four corners in the middle, which makes a "x". Then you bake them.

Now, several years ago, I figured out that it took me three hours to make eighteen prieschka, which took our teenage boys about eighteen minutes to eat. Something was wrong with those proportions. So I got the bright idea to roll out pie dough in a cookie sheet, spread the fruit filling on it, and cover with a sheet of pie dough. After it was baked, I cut it in to prieschka-size squares, and Wa-la! Lazy man's (woman's) prieschka. I called them "prieshka bars," and Hubby doesn't mind that I corrupted the traditional format, because now at least we get them!


I made two of those, one cherry, one apple.

And then I cleaned up the kitchen! I even had thirty minutes to rest!

And then I went to join the family, and help get dinner on the table for the guys, and then clean it up, and then, of course, serve Lunch (cookies and cake and rolls) in the afternoon. And then stirred the lard in the rendering kettle for two hours. And then take out the ribs, and scoop out the greva (cracklings), and pour the lard. And then rinse out the kettle and heat water to wash all the butchering utensils. And then get supper on.

Of course, I didn't do all this single-handedly. The women of the family were all there working hard, all six of us.

But then I was done. I mean DONE. The clock must have struck twelve and my superwoman cape turned into a pumpkin. I was so tired my extremities were buzzing, and I wasn't sure I could hold my head up to eat supper.

But I had a SUPER day, and I wish I could have that kind of energy EVERY DAY.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Fellowship and the Ring, part 2

When we got in the house, we found the guys from the Fellowship Group gathered taking their noon hours. They asked us what was up, and we said, frankly, that it was one of the worst days yet.

They immediately surrounded us in a circle and began praying for us. God came very near to us, and soon several of us were in tears, me especially.

Suddenly, one of the guys stopped praying and said that God was going to send an angel to help us, to help me, to preserve our marriage. I was excited and apprehensive about that, wondering what it could mean.

I must interject something here. I had another reason for wanting to hang on and not give in to the invisible pressure to abandon my marriage. When we got married, back in 1981, I got an unusual wedding gift. One of my uncles gave us a decorative plate that said "Silver Wedding" in German on it. It was white with real silver lettering and decorations. He had picked it up at a flea market in Germany. At the time, I thought it was a wonderful token of good faith, because the silver anniversary is the twenty-fifth. He was assuming our marriage would last at least twenty-five years!

Well, at this point in my story, we had been married about twenty-four years. I kept telling myself, "I have to make it to the plate, I have to make it to the plate." Uncle Jon believed in us, lots of other people did too. Our kids were trusting us. We promised. What was I thinking? I had to make it to the plate.

But the fight wasn't over yet. I still had the pressure, the thoughts, the irritation, the restlessness, the frustration.

And then I had a dream.

I dreamed I was talking with a young man in a leather uniform jacket of some sort. He was very nice, and friendly, and smiled at me a lot. I had the sense that I had just had an encounter of some sort, and this was the end of it-- as if he had just brought me back, but the memory of it was being erased.

And then I saw two bridges. One was very old, and appeared rickety, but in fact, it was solid and usable. The other was brand new, with a wide highway running over it. I knew I had to get over to the other side one way or another, but I was having a terrible time choosing which bridge to use. Finally the man stepped up, smiling, and said it didn't matter. Both were fine, and I could go whichever way I wanted. The main thing was to cross over. So I made a decision.

At this point, I woke up. I can't remember which bridge I chose (I have a sense that it was the old one), but I had a great feeling of relief and accomplishment the next day, and oddly, whatever was pushing me and driving me to despise my husband had gone.

Things began to improve from that day on. Our relationship regained its old footing, and we were friends again. It was such a relief!

About a year later, Hubby and I took a day to go shopping and running errands. One of the things on our list was to stop at a pawn shop to look at tools. Of course, my attention span for tools isn't as long as Hubby's, so soon I began looking around for something more interesting, and I found a counter full of jewelry, mostly rings. In fact, mostly wedding rings.

I was enjoying browsing the rings, letting the salesman get out different ones for me to try on. Then suddenly I saw it. A ring almost exactly like the one I had lost: a medium wide gold band with a marquis diamond that looked to be the exact size of mine. It was soldered to a matching wedding band that had a teeny diamond chip in the center of it, which my original band did not have, and both had a carved split that added interest and dimensionality, which my rings had not had, but the general shape, size, and feel was like deja vu.

I felt like I couldn't breathe. The person behind the counter asked if I'd like to try any others, and I asked if I could try on that one. I put it on and it fit exactly!

By this time Hubby had come to see what I was doing. I held out my hand and showed him. At first, he didn't quite get it. "Oh, that's nice. It looks kinda like yours, doesn't it?"

Yes! Yes, it does! That means something! Can we get it? Can we get it? Please, please, please, please, please, please, please? Please?

Well, that's what I was thinking. What I said was something like, "Yeah. Isn't that kinda cool? I wonder what they want for it?" I checked the tag, reality setting in. We really didn't have money for rings, any more then than fifteen years earlier. There were so many things of higher priority than replacement wedding rings. Think of all the starving children in Africa. Think of the homeless. Think of our kids, our business.

$65. Sixty-five dollars? That's it? I looked inside the rings. Maybe they were cheap imitation. No, 14 karat gold. Size 5. My size.

The salesman asked if I wanted to buy the ring. I looked at Hubby. I felt so much longing I was afraid to say anything. I wanted him to see, to understand, to do this for me. It wouldn't be the same if I did it for myself.

But Hubby said nothing.

I reluctantly put the ring back on the counter.

"Well," Hubby said, "I'm done looking here. Shall we go?"

I nodded dumbly and followed him out to the car.... be continued.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Fellowship and the Ring, part 1

In honor of Valentine's Day

Writing about tattooed wedding rings reminded me of a story I wanted to share about my wedding rings.

February 10 was an anniversary of sorts. In February of 1981, Hubby and I became officially engaged. We had known since the preceding October that we wanted to get married, but since we were freshman at a conservative Bible college we could not announce it, seeing as the college had a rule about freshman not getting engaged their first semester. And even in the second semester, couples had to have permission notes from their parents.

So I had my engagement ring, but we waited till second semester before I wore it publicly, and then, after I'd had my candle-passing. If you don't know, a candle-passing was an informal ceremony, where all the girls in my dorm were invited to gather in the huge attic to sit in a circle and pass around a lighted candle with my engagement ring on it. Every one could admire it, and try to guess whose it was, till it got to me, and I blew out the flame to announce it was mine. There were usually several candle-passings every year announcing engagements.

I loved my ring. It was a plain gold, medium wide band, with a small marquis diamond. I was especially proud of it when I went back home for the summer, before our wedding in October of that year. It was a tangible symbol of my upcoming marriage, and my relationship with Hubby, who was oh so far away, despite frequent phone calls.

At our wedding Hubby added a thin gold plain band to the diamond ring.

A few years later, we were on a visit to Kansas City to see my relatives. We had GuitarGeek by then, as well as LovelyDaughter, who was a baby. I had gotten pretty thin, and my rings were loose, and somehow, somewhere-- probably at gas station-- I lost the diamond engagement ring. We went back and asked if anyone had found them, but of course, no one knew anything. I see nothing, I hear nothing, I know nothing.

I had hoped Hubby would replace them, but he said he bought me a diamond ring once. He didn't see the point in doing it again. (Don't be too hard on him. Five hundred dollars --what we originally paid-- was money we didn't have at that time for a new ring.)

But I felt so lost without my diamond. Once I bought an opal ring to wear as a substitute. I had it soldered to my wedding band, and I was so excited, I couldn't sleep for days, till the ring was ready. It was beautiful.

Then, not long after, I accidentally hit my hand on something, and cracked the opal in the ring. The opal fell to pieces, and I had to retire the ring, but it took my wedding band with it, and I had nothing.

One year, I made a long trip to attend my great-grandmother's funeral. I went alone as far as Kansas City, and met up with relatives there to continue the journey. On the way I made up my mind to buy some sort of ring, just to have a sign on my hand that I was a married woman. That may sound strange, but it was the first major trip I'd taken without Hubby, and somehow it seemed more secure if I had a ring. I wore that ten dollar silver ring for a long time.

Then we hit a time period where several of our friends were getting divorces. It was tough, watching relationships break up, and it was not pretty, easy, or fun for any of them. About that time, something began happening to me, and I found that everything Hubby did irked me. In fact, I didn't like him anymore, at all, and I found myself fantasizing about going off on my own. What kind of job could I get? Where would I live? What would it be like to have my own life, for once, without a husband, without kids, without responsibilities? I know, "without responsibilites" was a total lie, but hey, no one said deception makes sense.

Also about that time, we were part of a group we called our "fellowship group"-- a few families who got together once a week to worship God and pray for each other. In fact, it was a couple of those families who were going through divorce. I began sharing with them what I was feeling, and those guys (literally guys-- the women had bailed out of the group) gathered around and prayed for me many times. Times when I didn't think I could stand the pressure, whatever it was, wherever it came from, to give up on my marriage and my husband and my family. Deep inside, I knew this wasn't what I really wanted, but something was pushing me, hard.

But those guys prayed, and prayed fervently, that our marriage would not suffer the same fate as theirs. One day near Christmas Hubby and I went Christmas shopping. We were miserable; I, because I was miserable, and Hubby, because I was. On the way, we happened to go past Swede's house, who was part of the group, and we saw the cars there of the other guys. On an impulse, we stopped in.... be continued.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

So Tired....!

Sunday-- worship team; day with friends; company for supper

Monday-- put up trim in living room

Tuesday-- clean up kitchen after Sunday and Monday's messes; worship team practice; prayer meeting afterwards; LATE bedtime

Wednesday (today, all day)-- help some friends pack up after being evicted. Now our enclosed trailer is full of their household goods, and we are BEAT, just BEAT.

Thursday(tomorrow)-- Food Coop pick up at 10:00 (which means help unload truck and divvy up the stuff); talk to MIL about food for butchering day. Catch up on housework. Post TT list. I hope.

Friday-- Make food, lots of food. Post part one of "The Fellowship and The Ring." I hope.

Saturday-- BUTCHERING DAY. Hubby's brothers and their families, including us, gather at the folks' place and we butcher a very big hog. We'll work hard, eat a lot, and go to bed late.

Sunday-- Get up very early for before-church worship team practice and sound check. The service will probably go late because we have visiting preachers from South Africa.

If I weren't tired already, I'd be tired just looking at my week. If you don't see me around for a few days, you'll know why.

My bed is calling me, loudly. So instead of TT tonight, it's TTFN. You know, as in "Tigger". As in "Ta-ta for now."

Wink. Yawn. Snore.

Monday, February 11, 2008


After I lived through a couple of days of fighting a flu bug last week, we had a big day yesterday. It was not our week on the worship team; however, two of the musicians who were supposed to be there were not, so GuitarGeek and I got to play anyway. And since it was communion Sunday, we got to play a LOT, because there is always worship music playing as communion is being participated in. (I know, terrible sentence structure-- it's Monday after a long Sunday.)

Then after church we decided to go out to eat with friends, but none of us are rolling in the dough this time of year, and the food needed to be, you know, cheap, so someone suggested we go to Sonic. This month, a local Sonic is running a special on Sundays: kids meals only 99 cents. So we went and ordered 9 kids meals. Yes, you read that right: 9 (nine) kids meals for five people. And the people at Sonic let us do it!

As a bonus, we got 9 (nine) of the kids meal toys. MB3 said it made up for all those years he didn't get to have kids meals with toys, because we were too poor to eat out.

We finally made it home around 4, and I went straight to take a nap. I woke up when DrummerDude and Swede came in. (That's why we had only bought meals for five people, instead of six, because DD was hanging out with Swede.) I got up and put some roast in the oven so we could have supper later, and shortly after that, Swede's son J, and daughter-in-law S, and their baby B, dropped in. Swede had wanted to surprise us, since we haven't seen his son and daughter-in-law since before they were married, much less seen their new baby.

After they left, Swede stayed for a while and we hashed over the day, particularly the stuff preached about in church that morning.

So as you can imagine, we were involved in a LOT of conversation yesterday, and here are some of the things we've talked about and some things I've been thinking about since:

1) This innovative, cute crib-hammock-thingie. I wish this had been around when my kids were babies.

2) This amber teething necklace. It's supposed to release oils into the skin that counteract the pain of teething, and help respiratory symptoms, and a few other things. I wish this had been around, too!

3) Why do some people get healed quickly and easily and others not? Why is it usually the people who don't even know God, or at least not very much, who are healed, and people who have walked with God for years have sickness and disease? (I have a theory, but I don't want to take the time to write it right now.)

4) When we are sick, or in trouble, which of these is the right way to approach it?:

a. Pray. Bring your request to God, and then relax in God's peace, because whatever happens, it's all for good, and God knows what He's doing.

b. Keep crying out to God day and night for the health and prosperity He has promised, and never get comfortable or complacent with your condition.

c. Do nothing. After all, stuff happens, and it happens to everyone, and that's just life.

d. Worry and complain.

e. Figure it's somehow all your own fault, and work harder, pray harder, try to be a better Christian.

f. Do spiritual warfare to break off the attack of the enemy.

g. Go to the doctor, or get a loan, or ask friends for help, depending on the situation.

h. All of the above, in varying combinations, depending on your mood, or the latest sermon you've heard.

5) This cool new toy Hubby is thinking about buying for the tree service.

6) Do you rinse cloth diapers before washing them, or do you throw them straight into the washer? (Yes, and no, but if you want to make an issue of it, then I have no opinion.)

7) We're all getting tired of being cold, and we'd like some warm weather!

8) This interesting idea:

Do you see what that is? Tattooed wedding rings! Our visitors, J and S, had matching tattooed wedding rings, and for some reason I am fascinated by the idea. I'm sort of seriously considering the idea for myself. I'd --maybe--like one that would be covered up by my real ring when I wear it, but then when I don't want to be wearing my diamond, I still would have a "ring." Makes me feel young and radical, just thinking about it.

9) How long will GuitarGeek and LovelyDaughter have to wait to have families of their own? Are there any good young people around anymore? If so, where do we find them? (It really set GuitarGeek and LovelyDaughter aching with longing to see J and S and Baby B. J is the same age as GG. And S is the same age as LD.)

10) Watching the baby made me realize that my years of taking care of babies were actually the easy part of parenting. (If you have babies now, please don't stone me.) And I wouldn't mind doing it again. Maybe. Or maybe that's what grandkids are for.

Do you notice how our conversation jumps around to unrelated stuff? Somewhere once I read that this is "spaghetti" thinking: follow a strand till it overlaps another strand, and, whoops, follow that strand, till you hit another one, and whoops, another topic. Either that, or it's just another way to get whiplash...

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

TT#22: Thirteen Books On My Desk

Thirteen Things about mom huebert

I happened to notice the other day that I have thirteen books, plus three bibles, on my desk. They are all on my desk--instead of the bookshelf--for various reasons. Some are books that mean something to me, and I want them right where I can reference them. Others are there because they're relatively new to our collection and are out in public view for reading before they get mixed in with all the other books. One isn't even mine; it's waiting to be given back to the owner.

Just for fun I have listed them here, along with a quotation I especially like out of each one. A book with a star denotes a book that has changed my life or my thinking, or in some way made an impact on me.

*1. The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life, Hannah Whitall Smith
"The apple in June is a perfect apple for June. It is the best apple that June can produce. But it is very different from the apple in October, which is a perfected apple. God's works are perfect in every stage of their growth. Man's works are never perfect until they are in every respect complete."

*2. The God of All Comfort, Hannah Whitall Smith
"All through the Old Testament the Lord's one universal answer to all the fears and anxieties of the children of Israel was the simple words, 'I will be with thee.' He did not need to say anything more. His presence was to them a perfect guarantee that all their needs would be supplied; and the moment they were assured of it, they were no longer afraid to face the fiercest foe.

You may say, 'Ah yes, if the Lord would only say the same thing to me, I should not be afraid either.' Well, He has said it, and has said it in unmistakable terms. When the 'angel of the Lord' announced to Joseph the coming birth of Christ, he said: 'They shall call his name Emmanuel' whch being interpreted is, God with us.' In this short sentence is revealed to us the grandest fact the world can ever know--that God, the Almighty God, the Creator of Heaven and earth, is not a far-off God, dwelling in a Heaven of unapproachable glory, but has come down in Christ to dwell with us right here in this world, in the midst of our poor, ignorant, helpless lives, as close to us as we are to ourselves. If we believe in Christ at all, we are shut up to believing this, for this is His name, 'God with us.'"

*3. Sitting By My Laughing Fire, Ruth Bell Graham

We are told
to wait on You.
But, Lord,
there is no time.
My heart implores
upon its knees,

4. 100 Ways To Motivate Yourself, Steve Chandler
"If it's hard for you to imagine the potential in yourself, then you might want to begin by expressing it as a fantasy...Think up some stories about who you would like to be. Your subconscious mind doesn't know you're fantasizing (it either receives pictures or it doesn't)...Without a picture of your highest self, you can't live into that self. Fake it till you make it. The lie will become truth."

*5. 17 Lies That Are Holding You Back And The Truth That Will Set You Free, Steve Chandler
"...find out what you love. Pay attention...Think back to all your times of happiness in life... What did you love the most? Whatever that was, it was a signal to you. It was the universe knocking at your door, trying to tell you what your soul's purpose is...Listen. Listen....The next time you feel real joy, stop and think. Pay attention."

*6. The Magic Lamp: Goal Setting For People Who Hate Setting Goals, Keith Ellis
"Wishes are goals--but goals with snap, crackle, and pop. Goals provide the process that can take you anywhere you want to go, but they lack the inspiration to get you there. Wishes are different. They have impact--like being struck by lightning instead of by a lightning bug. They let you dream. They let you soar. They let you tap into a source of limitless possibility and boundless energy that gives you the power to accomplish what you might otherwise never even have imagined. If you want to make good things happen in your life, think in terms of wishes instead of goals."

*7. On Writing Well, William Zinsser
"Ultimately the product that any writer has to sell is not the subject being written about, but who he or she is. I often find myself reading with interest about a topic I never thought would interest me.... This is the personal transaction that's at the heart of good nonfiction writing. Out of it come two of the most important qualities that this book will go in search of: humanity and warmth."

*8. Dreaming With God, Bill Johnson
"Many believers discount their desires, automatically trying to get rid of everything they want in order to prove their surrender to God. Their selfless approach overshoots the will of God and actually denies the fact that God is the Father of the dreams and abilities within them."

*9. Pain, Perplexity and Promotion, Bob Sorge
"Sometimes we suffer pain because of sinfulness, mistakes, weaknesses, or shortcomings in our lives. But Job is a prime example that it's also possible for God's people to suffer greatly even though they've done nothing wrong. We must recover the understanding that it's possible to do everything right and still experience great distress and upheaval. 'Many are the afflictions of the righteous.'(Psalm 34:19)."

10. Keys To Heaven's Economy, Shawn Bolz
"When people enter eternity, having lived a life of obedience in partnering with God, they leave behind a spiritual inheritance. God is looking for individuals who will pick up these inheritances and walk in the legacy of those who have paved the way ahead."

11. Glory Invasion, David Herzog
"Have you noticed that you often can connect with God easier in a beautiful natural surrounding? I believe that all creation, in its natural state, is worshiping the Creator... when you are outdoors, you sense His presence without manmade music because there is a natural ongoing orchestra of worship via the creation."

*12. King James Bible
"Be careful for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

13. Me? Obey Him?, Elizabeth Rice Handford
"No man can make you happy. It is Jesus only, Himself alone, who will meet your deepest yearnings and longings. You must find your satisfaction in the Lord if you are going to be happy."

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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

About Yesterday's Post

So what was that all about, you may be wondering.

Quite some time ago, I stumbled through a wave going over the blog world: writing a letter to your younger self, giving advice and encouragement to that person back then, knowing what you know now. I considered writing that, but I had no idea what I would tell myself. In some ways, I'm still that person, and I think I need my 70-year-old self to write me a letter.

But this weekend I found the Perfect Post Awards. If you want something good to read, go there. There are links to dozens of "perfect" posts, chosen every month since February 2006. It's like the cream of the bloggy crop.

There are stories like this one, and this one, and this one, and this one, and this one, and even this one.

But the one that got me really thinking was this one. In particular, this paragraph:

He wants answers to why I’m so angry but it isn’t anger I’m feeling but resolve. I don’t want to do this anymore. How many times do we have to do this before we get it right? I have a feeling that it’s never. That is why I have to stop. It is unfair to my own family and much too difficult to be a good wife and mother from the depths of a black hole.

I could identify with this woman's assessment of having to distance herself from her family. Even though I didn't experience the levels of abuse that she did,  it was enough. My parents were not malicious, just mostly immature and wounded. There have been things I needed to forgive, things to learn about forgiveness (which may be a topic for a future post), but there did come a time when I realized I had to make a break from my parents. 

I had help. I married a man from a different state, and he carried me off into the sunset (literally). Fortunately, with my parents, out of sight is out of mind, and as long as I stayed out of their lives physically, they left me alone. It was a different story when I went back for a visit. The moment I showed up-- actually, the minute I told them I was coming-- the emotional entanglement started to strangle me. Hubby will tell you that for the first several years of our marriage I sobbed wrenchingly most of the four hour drive home.

All that to say this: after reading that post, suddenly, I knew just what my 17-year-old self needed to hear. And for some reason, it has been very encouraging to my 45-year-old self, as if I've gone back in time and knitted up a lost stitch.

And that's what that was all about.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Things I Would Like To Tell My Seventeen-Year-Old Self

Dear 17-year-old Self,

I have learned a lot in the nearly thirty years since I've seen you, and I want to share with you what I know about you now that I'm this far down the road.


You're right. No one knows the answers to your questions-- but that's okay. That doesn't mean no one cares. Someday you'll find out that you are smart enough, intelligent enough, insightful enough, to figure out your own answers; and they'll be good answers.

You're doing fine. Breaking up with you-know-who is wise, and you'll never regret it.

You don't need the approval of a teacher to know you have done well. Besides, once you get out of school, there will be no more grades. You'll have to make up your own mind whether you did well or not. But it will be okay.

Not everything is your fault. Someday you'll learn how to not feel guilty for EVERYthing and it will be a huge relief. That day is coming, it really is.

You'll learn this later, but I wish you could understand it now: You don't have to parent your parents. That doesn't help your lost and alone feelings now, I know, but at least it would take some emotional weight off of you.

More people care about you than you think. They just don't know how to tell you, or what to do to show you. You don't know this yet, but some people have issues with your parents, and don't want to get too close because of it, but that doesn't mean they don't like YOU. Some of them are even praying for you, and helping you in ways you don't know.

On the other hand, fewer people care than you think, so don't worry what people are thinking about you. Just do what you want to do. Most people aren't paying attention and really don't care what you do. And the ones who make all the noise are just trying to get attention for themselves and don't REALLY care about YOU at all. So just go right ahead. Besides, the ones who really do care are rooting for you.

God loves you. You know that, sort of. What you don't realize is, He LIKES you. Really. He thinks you're cute and endearing, and he likes your individuality and who you are, 'cause He made you that way.

Also, God knows right where you are, and He's listening, and He's taking great pains to help you navigate your way through life. Believe it or not, even though you can't see it, you are going to end up in the right place. God sees your struggles, and your great determination to do well and make the right choices, and He is honoring that. Take courage. It will be well.

And. All those walks to school where you think you're talking to yourself? You know, since you have nobody else to talk to? God is listening. He says you're actually talking to HIm, and He loves it.

You are trying so hard. You want to do well, and be good, and make things right. You won't always succeed, because some of the things you feel responsible for, you really aren't. Someday you'll be able to let those things go. But in the meantime, just know that you're okay.

Another thing. It's okay to be sick once in a while. And it's okay to tell somebody, including, or maybe especially, your teachers. And it's okay to stay home and get better. Those attendance awards in grade school? Do not apply. Just do the best you can, and don't worry.

I guess what I'm really trying to say is You're doing fine. You're okay. And it's all going to be all right. Really. You can trust me.

Your 45-year-old Self

Friday, February 1, 2008

Keep Moving

Sunday we invited some friends over, and had a great time doing just about everything you can do with Christian friends: sharing, praying, worshiping, hanging out, eating, telling stories, joking, laughing, staying up late. It was a good day.

At some point in our discussion, the importance of movement in the church came up. "Movement" as in "not stagnating." Not getting stuck on one particular aspect of God, or in one way of doing things. Movement is part of life, and if things come to a standstill, there is death-- if your heart stops, or your digestion stops.

So I thought to myself, the kingdom of God is like a bowel movement? I almost laughed out loud at the incongruity.

Then I remembered: several years ago, a friend of ours was caring for her elderly mother, who began to lose her appetite and be unable to eat, and began to slowly die. Finally our friend took her mother to the doctor, where it was discovered that the woman's digestive tract was completely plugged from one end to the other. There was no room for more, therefore, she was not only not hungry, she was nearly incapable of eating at all. (Some heavy duty laxatives soon put her right.)

And then I saw it. I was not having a teenage-boy-brain moment. I was being given insight. Bowel movements keep you hungry, and healthy. And alive.

I hear a lot these days about spiritual hunger. We are supposed to be hungry for God, to stay hungry. We even sing songs called "Hungry" and "We are Hungry." I think the way to stay hungry is to keep moving. To not get stuck in the last thing God did, but be child-like and adventerous enough to go where He's going next. To keep learning, and changing, and growing, using all that's gone before as nutritional building blocks, not monument building blocks.

To allow the Holy Spirit to do those things in us could be a little bit like taking doses of cod-liver oil. Isn't the anointing of the Holy Spirit often compared to oil? Well there you go.

Holy Spirit laxative for what ails ya.

Just keep movin'.

'Cause who wants to be part of the Constipated Church? Never heard of it? It's a new movement, I mean, non-movement.

(Ugh. Sorry. Couldn't resist. That really was a teenage-boy-brain moment.)