Monday, July 30, 2012

Why I love summer 2 {or blessings for the grandparents}

Sweet little friend
Beach days have taken on a lovely rhythm to them... build sand castle, smash sand castle, splash in waves, swim like otter, shower off, dry off, Blend of Buckroe for ice cream and coffee, Wood's Orchard for local fruit, fall asleep in car. Ahhh.

Why I love summer.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Homemade Ice Cream

My fanaticism about ice cream started in the womb {or so my mom tells me}. She couldn't drive past a Baskin Robins during her third trimester. My tastes have moved from vast quantities of cheap ice cream to, well, Ben and Jerry's, and any other rich frozen custard laden with chunks of unexpected ingredients.

Last birthday, my awesome in-laws celebrated my love of ice cream {and 28th year} with a trip here:
Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams in Columbus, OH
for breathtaking ice cream. Flavors that redefined what ice cream can incorporate. So my birthday present became...
Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home
Confession: I study cookbooks; I mean lost to the world, engrossed in, pour over cookbooks. My family has picked up on my obsession and given great cookbooks such as Julia Child's seminal work, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, or Mollie Katzen's Moosewood Restaurant Cookbook. This Christmas was Deaf Smith Country Cookbook by Marjorie Winn {a daily reader}. Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home feels like a quirky friend that I hang out with for creative inspiration.

About the book: 100 recipes for jaw dropping ice cream. Beautifully illustrated with excellent technical descriptions. Certainly the recipes are written for fussy cooks - the 'sweet potato and roasted marshmallow' ice cream calls for homemade marshmallows. They also require an inquisitive pallet - I just finished caramelizing pine nuts to mix into sweet basil ice cream.  But if involved, mind-boggling gourmet ice cream is your thing {and it is definitely ours}, this book deserves space on your shelf.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

God's watercolors

This week marks the 6th anniversary of my cousin's death. A motorcycle crash thousands of miles from family. He gave the toast at our rehearsal dinner; three weeks later, I gave his eulogy. Tragic.

His absence is still strange. I don't know. Do you ever get used to absence? And all my attempts to explain his death as part of God's good plan make God seem petty. I trust the good plan, but I do not understand it.

The hardest part: the girls never meeting Uncle Daniel.

I mentioned feeling glum recently, and this anniversary is part of it. But in his faithfulness, God gave this:

Without premeditation, I blurt out, Look girls - God's watercolors.

God's watercolors. Daniel's boyhood understanding of a sunset. His daily reminder of our beautiful creative God. Every time the setting sun burst through clouds, he saw the art.

This is how the girls will know Uncle Daniel. Through what I remember and pass on. Not just stories, but a point of view. Seeing God in skies and thunder.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I need ice down my back today

I have a melancholy streak. I won't label these downturns 'depression.' Not that I'm above depression. But some of you struggle with darkness I don't understand. I don't want to minimize your fight.

So I say melancholy, Eeyore-ish even. Glum.

To break the spell, my dad would drop a piece of ice down my back, then tickle me so I couldn't remove it. A silly cue to stop seeing only the morose.

Disclaimer: I don't recommend you {especially if 'you' are DH} drop ice down my back when I'm in a dark mood. You will probably catch me in a hormonal tempest waiting for a victim. No, that move is just for my daddy.

All of my drafts today have been dark and harsh. In need of a sanguine editing eye. So I leave them for another day in favor of a whimsical, refreshing moment in the kitchen.

Gluten Free Goldfish Crackers - actually Noah's Ark crackers, but Pepperidge Farm flavor

I found the recipe here. And in an unusual move, followed it to the letter {Alright, I added 1/4 t turmeric to enhance the color, but for me, an exact replica}.

Cutesy cookie cutters {I usually hack rolled dough into odd rectangles}. White rice flour. A moment of uncharacteristic whimsy, especially on a day when I wanted to hunch over black coffee and contemplate the meaningless of life.

I slipped back into my Eeyore costume as soon as the cheddar zoo came out of the oven and dinner plans were upon me.

However, the crackers are amazing! {when was the last time I used an exclamation point?? Amazing!}

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Serving the Shore

Last spring, we traded a boat on Craigslist. A canoe-kayak hybrid that DH wasn't crazy about for the kayak he could fish from. That's how we met Pastor Joe.

Pastor Joe lives on Virginia's Eastern Shore, an area Virginia usually forgets about. So much so that Maryland evacuates them, not Virginia. We actually cut off the only access residents have to the rest of the state.

What I noticed during our drive up the peninsula: the Eastern Shore is full of tomatoes and potatoes. And derelict farm houses. It feels forgotten.

Pastor Joe mentioned that he wanted to host mission teams that would minister to the farm workers and their families - a mostly ignored people group in a mostly ignored area.

God designs all sorts of interesting coincidences. Pastor Joe needed to swap a boat with the right youth pastor. And the way was cleared for DH and the team to 'serve on the Shore' this week.

Beyond the God-directed happenstance, the team was impacting the Shore before they crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.

DH set up a dinner out for the group. When the un-churched manager learned about the group and what they were doing, he said that even though he wasn't religious at all, he felt God stirring him to buy dinner for the group, out of his own salary. God uses his church before we even start working. He's just that big.

Please pray for the group tomorrow, their last work day. What they thought was a simple deck repair is actually damage extending into the foundation. They need grace to know how much to fix and grace to finish on time. Everything with excellence.
Group stops for dinner

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Hypo- and Hyper-

I learned in Endocrinology that hypo- and hyper-, low and high, were opposites that could not exist together. You cannot have both an over-functioning and under-functioning thyroid, both too much and not enough calcium. One or the other.

But that's not the law I see at work in myself. Instead, I see hypocrisy coupled with a hyper-critical nature, feeding each other. Staring at and pronouncing judgment on specks in others' eyes. Blinded to logs in my own eye. Matthew 7:1-5

When I finally catch sight of the log in my peripheral vision {who wants to look at sin head on}, I'm revolted and ashamed. Head hung in hands before the throne. Only half believing God's grace is big enough for the darkness inside.
Recently, I heard a man say that he felt like he believed in God, but God didn't believe in him.

That idea sat with me in a troublesome way. The lie behind it so insidious and pervasive that it took a while to dig it out.

God is the only one who believes in us. He is the only one who sees who we actually are, I mean deep into the shadows we don't even travel to.

We never disappoint God because we never surprise him with our sin. Not that our sin is trivial to him; it's just not disappointing. Disappointment finds it's root in unmet expectations. God expects us to be exactly who we are. And He extends grace to exactly us.

Grace to exactly me, hyper-critical hypocrite that I am.

Big one says of her sin that it breaks God's heart. But immediately follows up with, Jesus fixed God's heart on the cross. Jesus fixes my heart. Jesus fixes Mommy's heart. Jesus fixes Daddy's heart. Jesus fixes Sissy's heart.

Only Jesus can tackle hyper-, hypo- conditions. Only he washes so completely that even the sin we can't look at is covered over, leaving nothing but Christ-righteousness.

Can I get a "Hallelujah!"

Monday, July 16, 2012

Sufficient Grace

I run through lyrics in my head, where the "oh-oh's" come in, that unexpected C natural. Worship is all business this week. How many times do I sing the words before I hear them?

He who has ears... Listen. To the words pouring from your own mouth. Listen.

What are you gonna do when the doctor comes into the waiting room, puts his hand on you, and says, he's sorry. What are you gonna say to God when all you do is pray to God to take the thorn away, and all you hear him say is, "My grace is sufficient."

And I hear, My grace is sufficient for her.

I can accept sufficient for me. My hurts covered. And keep pressing on. I can accept grace for my trials.

What I didn't want and needed to hear, My grace is sufficient for her. Grandmother, all her pain and exhaustion and drowning surrounded by air. How many times have I raised my voice to the heavens and pleaded with God to take her home, give her a new body? How many times does she pray for the same thing?

And all I hear, My grace is sufficient for her.

What are you gonna do when your neighbor walks into your living room, and you tell them he could deliver them, like he delivered you? What are you gonna say to God when all you do is pray to God for them to know his name, and all you hear him say is, "My grace is sufficient."

I grow weary of the continuous rejection of God by people I love. But God doesn't. He offers over and over, no matter the rejection or hate or spit or disdain.

In my weariness, all I hear, My grace is sufficient.

What are you gonna say to God when everything you prayed to God came your way, but you forgot to thank him, and all you hear him say is, "My grace."

And my heart breaks and mends at how wretched I am and how great he is.

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, and my power is made perfect in weakness."
2 Corinthians 12:9

Monday, July 9, 2012

Catch up

Bad sign: Blogger logged me out for inactivity. Sigh.

Last week was full. Fam in town. We had a wonderful time playing with Grammy and Grampa and Uncle Will. Big One told me today that Grammy and Grampa would take her to Chickfila if I didn't. Probably true.

This week is more full. The first Women's VBS session is this Friday and Saturday {If you live on the Peninsula, be there... unless you're being induced this week}. I'm singing on the praise team, which is both awesome and all-consuming. I don't envision posting again this week.

So that I don't forget amidst rehearsals and preparing freezer meals for Tim and the girls, let me show you the finished quilt: {the pictures aren't my best - sorry}.

Free-motion quilting is so much fun, although you shouldn't look at mine too carefully. Can't wait to hand this to Miriam and the Youngs in a few days!

If you think about it this week, please pray for Women's VBS and for our family as we face three very busy weeks {T leaves for a missions trip next week}. Our usually quiet lives with lots of together time are going to be stretched this July. Thanks.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Gluten free Flour {what to use when}

This is a more technical post to be sure. But I'm asked about gluten free baking all the time. Not just friends, strangers stop me in the grocery store.

GF flour lists are overwhelming, and I feel, short on the most practical info. Namely, when do I use each of the twenty varieties of flour? What flours are most economical? etc...

This is a brief explanation of what I've learned so far.


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