Over the weekend, my dads health has deteriorated. This man, once so tall and proud, is now confined to a hospital bed. His kidneys aren't functioning properly, his potassium level is dangerously high, blood work shows that he's had a heart attack sometime within the last two weeks. He is experiencing severe dementia symptoms and both his hips are now dislocated due to degenerative disease. My tall, strong dad will never walk again.
In the dementia, he was trying to remove the IV's, and other assorted equipment. When the nurse tried to stop him, he became uncharacteristically combative and they had to put him in restraints. He's been experiencing mild dementia for a year or so... but this weekend, it roared through him. The doctor's believe this is tied to the high potassium levels. They don't promise that it will improve if they can get the potassium down, but they're 'hopeful'. That is of course, if he survives this. They have told us that a massive heart attack is imminent if they can't lower the potassium quickly.
How do you deal with the heartbreak of seeing your parent suffer these things? How do you adjust yourself to this new picture you have of them... especially when we all long to remember them in their days of strength. How do you grieve the loss of one so special and dear to your heart?
I will trust in the Lord. I will rest in the knowledge that my father is being held by his Father. Our Father knows when a sparrow falls. He knows the number of hairs on our heads. He has prepared a mansion with many rooms. He has written my dads name in the Lamb's Book of Life and He is joyously anticipating the homecoming of his son... my dad.
And when that day comes, whether it's now or ten years from now... though this earth will be poorer and my heart will be wrenched, Heaven will be even richer for me.
1 Peter 5:10But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 11 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Psalm 30:5Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.
Several of you enjoyed the recipe for the Spice Cake so I wanted to share one more with you during this holiday week! Blueberry muffins aren't particularly your normal Thanksgiving fare, but they happen to be what I'm craving right now and plan to make this afternoon!
There were several inquiries about the cookbook and how to get one. If you're interested, just leave me a comment and I'll get back with you. The book are $12.00 + actual shipping costs (no handling fee.) I'm also working on getting it formatted into an Ebook, so it can be paid for and downloaded with the click of a button. (Those will be $10.. no shipping.) Hopefully soon, I'll have a 'buy now' option on the blog to pay securely through Paypal. (This all involves a lot of computer techno-speak that my menopausal brain is grappling with! But I'll figure it out eventually. I'm confident. Yeah. haha!)
These are so easy and so good!
3 Lg. eggs
1/2 cup margarine
1 cup unsweetened apple juice concentrate (undiluted) OR 1 10oz. jar unsweetened Apricot Jam
1 cup blueberries (fresh, frozen or canned)
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
In large mixing bowl combine flour, baking soda and baking powder. In small bowl whip eggs, margarine and juice. Add to dry incgredients and mix till well blended. By hand, gently stir in blueberries. Spoon into greased or papered muffin tins. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Thanksgiving is next week and one little thing that I'm thankful for is dessert. Does that sound silly? Maybe it wouldn't if you'd spent 18 years going without dessert! That's what I did. You see, I can't have sugar and all the artificial sweetners taste, well... artificial. (Sugar tastes really 'chemical' to me now, too!) I don't know why I can't have sugar. I just know what it does to me. I never bothered having tests run, because I figure they would just say "yep, you're allergic to sugar, so avoid it." What's the sense in paying for that?!
I tried a few things that were sweetened with honey... cookies, cake, etc., but lets be honest... most of them taste like sweetened cardboard. So, I chose to just go without dessert, until one day when I happened on a frozen cherry pie that said it was sweetened with fruit juice only. I decided to give it a try and OH MAN, it was goooood! Eventually, I clued into the fact that this couldn't be that hard to make and so I came up with my own cherry pie, peach pie and a fabulous apple pie.
After giving a dear friend a slice of peace pie, she went back to the doctors office she worked at and told a doctor how great this pie was. Since he dealt with a lot of diabetic patients, he was interested and from there, I wrote a cookbook consisting of sugar-free, chemical sweetener free, desserts. It was quite an experinence. I'm not really that into cooking. (Don't tell!) But, this was a project I could sink my teeth into. Literally. Happily! And so, Return to the Garden was born.
I love this cookbook. The cover is a drawing I did of my sister and I from an old photo. (My sister died of leukemia two years ago. The same photo graces the cover of the CD she made - she has an incredible voice! Yes... has. That's not a typo. She's living in Heaven now and her voice is even more amazing! I can hardly wait to see her again and to hear her sing with her 'new voice'. I can hardly wait to sing with my own new voice, either... since the one I have now is less than spectacular, but we won't talk about that right now.
This Thanksgiving, I want to share a dessert from my book with you. One that even sugar addicts enjoy! (If you don't tell them there is no sugar, they'll never know.)
2 10 ounce jars apricot jam (unsweetened)
1 1/3 C vegetable oil
2 1/2 C flour
1 C grated carrots
2 1/2 C grated zucchini
2 tsp. each of baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon
1 tsp. each of ground cloves, allspice and powdered ginger
1/2 tsp. each of nutmeg and salt
1 8oz. pkg. softened cream cheese
1 10oz. jar of apricot jam (unsweetened)
1 tsp. nutmeg
In large mixing bowl, with a fork, combine all dry ingredients. Set aside.
On high speed mix wet ingredients. Add to dry. Mix thoroughly. Pour into large, oiled casserole cake pan.
Bake at 350 for 40 minutes, or until inserted knife comes out clean. Allow to cool.
In small mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, Apricot jam and nutmeg till smooth and fluffy. Spread evenly over top of cake and serve.
If you'd prefer less oil, use 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce and 1/3 cup vegetable oil --- instead of 1 1/3 cups oil.
This cake tastes pleasingly sweet and spicy, with a lovely moist, cakey texture. (Your kids won't mind eating their fruit and vegetables at all with this one!)
Enjoy! And Happy Thanksgiving from my kitchen to yours!
The holidays are rushing at us and in my home, it's a time of joyful reflection of the things that really matter. Thanksgiving for all the gifts of God... salvation, family, friends, His beautiful creation and His provision.
One of my favorite reminders is my Christmas tree. Not only is it beautiful, but there is meaning threaded through it. At the top rests a single red bird. Below that are multitudes of white birds and transparent birds. White pearl garland graces it's branches, along with red glass balls, red ribbons and occasional splashes of gold.
Jesus is the red bird, hung upon a tree, His blood flowing for our sins. We, the believers, are the white birds, washed clean. The transparent birds reminding me that we are to live our lives in transparency before God and others. The pearls because Jesus said that He left Heaven in order to purchase a pearl of great worth. That's us! The red glass balls, because His sacrifice was great... and He sweat great drops of blood. Gold, because He is the King.
My tree is an illustration of Leviticus 14. I wrote the following Bible study a few years ago. I hope you enjoy!
The Cleansing of the Leper - Leviticus 14
Matthew 8:1-4 When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him.
And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”
Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
And Jesus said to him, “See that you tell no one; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
This is the first specific miracle recorded in the book of Matthew and when we look at the symbolism that God has threaded throughout His word, it’s thrilling to search and discover just how intricate, how detailed, how planned His word is.
There is no book on earth so fascinating, so alive, and yet we so easily neglect it, believing ourselves sufficiently acquainted with it that we have no need for intensive study of it.
Yet when we dig, when we seek the Lord with all our heart, mind and strength, He faithfully reveals Himself and we find His word to be layer upon layer, upon layer of the marvelous mystery of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We find that no mere man or group of men could so precisely and intricately have woven the 66 books of the Bible into the masterpiece that it is.
And no mere cursory glance will unveil its riches.
So I have to ask myself why. Why did God place this particular miracle first in this particular book? And is there something more to this story than the obvious… that Jesus revealed His compassion and His Deity in His power to heal the leper?
The command that Jesus gave this man is unusual. It isn’t the instruction He gave to those He healed with other diseases. “See that you tell no one; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
Leviticus 14:1-4 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,
This shall be the law of the leper for the day of his cleansing:
He shall be brought to the priest. And the priest shall go out of the camp, and the priest shall look; and indeed, if the leprosy is healed in the leper, then the priest shall command to take for him who is cleansed two living and clean birds, cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop.
If we look at the typology, the priest representing the Lord, the leper representing the sinner, so much begins to come clear.
The priest shall go out to meet the leper… Jesus the High Priest left heaven and came to earth to meet the need of the sinner.
The priest shall command to take for him who is to be cleansed two living and clean birds, cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop.
(We’ll get to the birds in a minute.)
Cedar wood… Jesus was nailed to a wooden cross. Scarlet… a symbol of the blood of redemption. Hyssop, a purgative… Jesus has by Himself purged (cleansed) our sins. (Hebrews 1:3) How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through eternal Spirit offer Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:14)
Leviticus 14:5 And the priest shall command that one of the birds be killed in an earthen vessel over running water.
Jesus was killed in an earthen vessel… the body of a man.
Running water can stand for, 1) Purity, 2) the Holy Spirit, 3) living water.
It is also interesting to note that on the night Jesus was arrested in John 18:1 we’re told: “When Jesus had spoken these words, He went out with His disciples over the Brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which He and His disciples entered.”
The Brook Kidron ran at the base of the temple and this being the week of Passover, the brook would have run red with the blood of the sacrifices.
And Jesus passed over the running water… and was killed.
Leviticus 14:6 As for the living bird, he shall take it, the cedar wood and the scarlet and the hyssop, and dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water.
His death on the tree, redemption, purging of our sins… these are ours as we have come to be dipped in His blood.
Leviticus 14:7 And he shall sprinkle it seven times on him who is to be cleansed from leprosy, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird loose in the open field.
The number seven is often associated in the scripture with completion. The Son of God died — the sacrifice was absolutely complete, so that we could be cleansed and set free from the power of sin. By His death, by His blood, we can rise up in new life, redeemed forever.
Leviticus 14:8 He who is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes, shave off all his hair, and wash himself in water, that he may be clean.
After that he shall come into the camp, and shall stay outside his tent seven days.
Those who are forgiven, who have been cleansed by the Sacrifice shall change. They will put off the old man and walk as one cleansed. They will keep nothing hidden, but will be transparent before the Lord and men.
They shall be in the camp… in the body of Christ, the church, as a fellow believer… but shall remain on earth the ‘complete’ number of days before entering heaven.
The Lord knows the number of our days. He has work for us to do here while we joyfully await the day we will be with Him in heaven.
Leviticus 14:14 the priest shall take some of the blood of the trespass offering and the priest shall put it on the tip of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot.
There is only one other time in scripture that this ceremony is performed. In Leviticus 8, this is what was to be done to consecrate the priests to the Lord, that they could serve before the Lord in the temple.
The leper, the sinner has been cleansed, set free from sin and is now sanctified (set apart to God) and made a priest.
Revelation 1:5-6 …Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the first born from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood,
And has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
In verses 16 and 17 of Leviticus the same act is performed with oil. So first blood and then oil are placed on the tip of the right ear… that we may listen obediently to God.
On the thumb of his right hand… that we may do the work of the Lord with our hands.
On the big toe of the right foot… that we may walk in His ways.
Cleansed by His blood, sanctified to His service, yielded to and led by His Spirit.
Back to Matthew....
The book of Matthew is written by a Jew to Jews about a Jew. Matthew is the writer of this gospel, the nation of Israel is the reader, and the message is that Jesus Christ is the long awaited Messiah. He is The High Priest. Christ the King.
When Jesus heals the leper and tells him to go and show himself to the priest, He is making a radical statement of Who He is.
Since there are only two recorded times when leprosy has been cured before (Mariam in Numbers 12 and Naaman in 2Kings 5), it’s safe to say that the priests wouldn’t be entirely up to date with what needed to be done for the lepers that began to arrive at the temple. They would need to pull out the scrolls and study up.
Did they ‘see’ Him? Did they understand the significance of what Jesus was telling them?
More importantly… do we?
Was this portion of Leviticus written years and years and years before for this very day? For this very reason? To announce the Messiah to the Priesthood of Israel?
Was there even one that sought Him out, that asked in the still of a night, “What must I do to be saved?”
Father in heaven, how awed we are by the love You’ve poured out on us. By the vastness of Your plan. By the ways You reveal Yourself to us.
What are we that You should think of us?
Yet from the beginning to the end, Your plan is laid and remains the same.
Salvation is a free gift, but oh Lord… the cost so high.
Thank You Jesus for what you’ve done.
Sanctify us to Your service and enable us by Your Holy Spirit to live as children of the Living God.
Thirty one years of marriage. When we started out, I couldn't even begin to imagine such love existed.
Through many joys, trials, hurts, gifts of laughter, forgiveness and commitment... through the grace learned lessons of God... we stand. Till death do we part.
The other day, Mosey posted a photo of a beautiful pot pie. It was cookbook worthy!
Yesterday I made an apple pie and decided to do the whole top crust with 'acorns'. It looked quite nice... but I had an abundance of crust left over. Jacob sat and watched while I rolled out the dough and formed 'worms' to wiggle around on the top. The look on his face was priceless, especially when I coiled a little worm with raised head, tongue sticking out, gave him eyes and place him in the center of the pie.
I had a good laugh when I compared my pie with my daughters and decided I would share my less than lovely 'wormy apple pie'.
For my birthday this year, my husband decided that he would help me refurbish the Shire. YAY!
I'm not sure why I decided to create the Shire in the first place. I've always liked tales about sneaky little people living in foresty places. My yard is so big that it's easier if I break it down into little sections and create vignettes. This particular vignette is nestled in under the cherry thicket, along a path that leads to the front yard.
The driveway area is so dismal, but once you go through the arbor and walk through the cherry trees, it's like you've come out into a different world of refreshing green and flowers. The air is scented with hyacinths, cherry blossoms, lilac and viola's.
It reminds me of how I can go through the day in the 'cares of this world' where it's stale, hot and dismal... but as soon as I turn the path and place my focus on the Lord.. I'm refreshed and life is sweeter. He creates vignettes in our lives. We are intricately made and our lives are many pictures and aspects, woven together to make the whole. Sometimes we get so focused in on one little spot in our lives that we miss the whole picture. Other times, we're in such a hurry that we neglect the small pictures and miss such blessings. We need to set the paces of our lives so that we are not rushing through but not sitting still, stuck in one area.
The Shire is a little spot in my garden where you have to stop and really look closely to see everything that's there. I love it when kids come over... they love the Shire! After my grandsons have been over, I go out to find that the 'hobbits' have been stuck inside the houses. Maybe it's because the Shire is closer to their level, but they're the ones that truly enjoy this part of my garden. I'm so glad they do! They make it well worth the work of tending it and adding little secrets to it, that only the close observer will see.
I used to think that a day would come that my garden would be 'finished', but I've finally figured out that just like myself, it won't be done until the Lord returns. Guess I better go get back to work on it!
How did I find such favor with God, that He would send me a sister friend like Karen?
In many ways, we are two of a kind. We both cry at movies. We both feel things deeply. We both desire to walk with God and be pleasing to Him.
We both like to laugh. A lot. And we often think we're funny.
Karen often looks beyond my words and hears my heart. She listens when I rant. She listens when I whine. She listens when I share a struggle. She chats and plays Word Twist in the middle of the night when I can't sleep. She'll happily climb in the car at midnight to go to Wal-mart and make me laugh when she turns every day oven mitts into full-of-personality hand puppets in the middle of the store.
She's walked through grief with me and never told me it was 'time' to be past it. She's willingly jumped into my projects and made them so much more fun. She's sat in my garden and spent hours pulling dandelions out of my lawn. She's raised a sweat, mixing 80 bags of cement and fussed when I wanted to do it, because she didn't want ME to throw my back out. She's helped me form that cement into a wonderful 'flagstone' patio and walkway. She's hiked through the forest when it was too hot to breath and brought me rocks, because I didn't have enough to finish a rock wall. She's brightened my garden with gifts ... the most important being her presence.
She's helped me paint my house when I've decided it must be done NOW... three days before my sons wedding rehearsal dinner. Not just any plain ole paint job, but a special faux finish that had to be done by hand. She learned how to do a form of tole painting with me, by watching a video in Japanese (I ordered the wrong tape.) She spent hours in a pottery shop painting pieces of bisque because it's what I wanted to do.
She's encouraged me to think that I can do anything... and do it well. She's my cheerleader and my fan. Everyone needs one! And I think she's terrific.
Not many friends would let you take a photo when you both show up wearing the same shirt, but a sister friend will! A sister friend will also forgive when she finds out that you posted those photos on your blog.
Yesterday we went out to lunch with my dad. I don't get to see him very often, so it was a special treat. He's 85 and it's hard to see his health declining, but he's still the same dad he's always been. He's a hyperactive funny man, trapped in a body that refuses to be hyperactive anymore.
My dad was raised in East Texas, by a hard working mother of nine. His father - my grandfather - was a distant man. He didn't seem to care much for kids, but somehow, my sisters and I seemed to find a soft spot in him. He let us sit on his lap while he sat in his rocking chair... a chair he made himself. I have that chair and enjoy it immensely!
My dad fought in WWII. Pearl Harbor was bombed on his 18th birthday. He and a brother enlisted the following day. He was wounded on Okinawa and spent over a month in a military hospital in Hawaii. (Unknown to him, his brother, was also wounded and they were in the same hospital, one mile away from each other. They didn't find this out until the war was over.) My dad still carries bits of shrapnel in his body. Pieces they couldn't remove.
He was sent back into active duty and was one of the first to walk into Nagasaki, after we dropped the 2nd bomb that ended the war. We suspect that some of his health problems are related to that... but who could prove such a thing?
My dad worked and played hard all his life. He was a good provider. When something around our house needed fixing (like the washer or freezer), my mom would get out the tool box, lay a towel on the floor and as soon as he was due to arrive home, she'd go sit on the towel and get a tool in her hand. My dad would ask what in the world she was doing. She'd reply that she was going to fix the machine. He'd scoot her out of the way and take over, getting it fixed in no time. I always wondered if he caught on to her game. But I learned that her method beat the heck out of being a nagging, complaining wife! And she got things fixed when she needed them fixed... not when he 'made time'!
When my mom died in '78, my dad was lonely. Shortly, he met and married again. I'm so thankful for her! She tries to take good care of him. Tries is the operative word. Dad does what he wants, eats what he wants and no one is going to stop him. Not the greatest mode of operation for an insulin dependent diabetic, with high blood pressure and congestive heart failure, but in a way, I appreciate that he is still 'his own man'. He's been through a lot and I see his strength, even in his frailty.
It's Wednesday again. Wednesday's are probably my 2nd favorite day of the week. (Sunday's are top favorite because I love going to church and spending the rest of the day with Doug. It's the only day he takes off work.)
Wednesdays are "date night" days. Long, long ago, Doug and I set aside Wednesday evenings to spend together. It was one of the ways we put each other first, over the kids - and anything else. It was a simple way we could make sure we were staying on track, working on our relationship - weekly, making sure things were good between us. It was a simple and fun way to let our kids know that mama and daddy valued time with each other and that they weren't the center of our world. They knew they could only interrupt date night if someone was bleeding. A lot.
We seldom have gone anywhere for date night. We just dress up for each other a little more than usual and spend the evening together, reading a book together, watching a movie or just talking. Our kids are grown, married and have their own kids now... but we still have date night. Somewhere along the line, it became tradition and it's one we love.
This morning my wonderful husband sat down next to me as soon as I got my eyes open, grinned and asked "Is it date night, yet?"
I feel so blessed that after 30 years of marriage, my husband is still excited about dating me. And I know it's because we've worked to keep God first, marriage second, children third and everything else behind that. That's an easy thing to say, but doing it in practical ways makes the difference.
I watched a clip on marriage the other day and the man was speaking about "Our reactions are our responsibility." His words apply to life, not just marriage. No one can 'make' us be angry, or mean, or bitter or snotty. If someone does something that hurts or we don't like, what comes out of us is what was in us in the first place. His illustration was that if we step on a rose, it releases a beautiful fragrance. If we step on a skunk, it stinks... badly. It wasn't the 'stepping on' that caused the scents. The 'stepping on' only released the properties that were already there.
I get to chose whether I'll be a rose or a skunk. Although I'd prefer to just never be stepped on.