Saturday, July 22, 2017

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - What are you waiting for?


I wish I had started the process last Fall when my insurance would cover an eye doctor, new glasses, and the retinal specialist exam.  There were so many things going on and it took time to find a new doctor since mine had moved from town.  There are not all that many that my insurance will cover.  So I... waited.  It wasn't urgent.

By the time I finally had an exam by the new eye doctor and then saw my retinal specialist, test photos showed a lot of swelling in the back of both eyes.  No wonder my vision hasn't been great, especially when reading.  So on Monday, the first of three procedures where medicine is injected into each eye was performed.  I will receive two more sets of injections, one in August and the other in September, then we wait three months and more tests will be taken to see if it worked.

I was shocked to find it had been four years since I had last seen the retinal specialist.  Of course, most of those years were due to lack of insurance coverage but still... how could it be four years?  Time goes so fast.

It got me thinking of other things we put off because "life happens".  So often it is just easier to continue with our days as they are rather than put anything new in the schedule equation, even if it is important.  We wait until what is important becomes what is urgent.

I have been revisiting the Procrastination List.  Most are little projects to be completed like updating iTunes on my husband's computer so he can use his Father's Day gift card.  I plan to have my medical doctor put me in contact with the podiatrist I saw years ago.  He had told me I should see him annually.  Since I have insurance, let's do it!

While all of this was going on, I was reading a couple "prepper blogs" where each blogger was saying the same thing... this world is still in a position where chaos could break out at any time.  If North Korea actually managed to send a bomb anywhere... it doesn't have to be in a  heavily populated area... people around the world would panic.

What if social unrest broke out in a city close to you?  With no warning? I don't live all that far away from Chicago and we all have read what a firebox it has become. Chicago is a beautiful city.  My daughter's design classes regularly scheduled trips there to see the architecture.  I have gazed upon the downtown area and the last time I was there, wondered what would happen if violence erupted inside the places tourists love to visit.

I personally felt the tension in Detroit when we lived in a suburb. Since my husband traveled continually, my son and I did not leave the house after dark.  We were accidentally out when the sun was setting one evening and we ran home to safety.  We had been warned that it was pretty safe where we lived in the daytime but... do not go out walking alone after dark.

Then the unthinkable happened.  One morning, my husband left to take a flight to the East Coast so my son and I followed our "when Dad leaves" ritual of walking to a nearby diner and having breakfast there.  They have a television where everyone can view the morning news and that was where we saw it.  The first plane.  The second plane.  The day was September 11, 2001.  The day the world changed.

In making a threat assessment, it was felt that Detroit had a high risk of terrorist attack for various reasons so citizens were asked to stay at home if they didn't have to go anywhere.  Thankfully, we not only had our usual pantry food put back but knowing the car would be parked at the airport for nearly a week, I had stocked up on everyday essentials.

Have you begun an emergency pantry?  Is that an area of procrastination? I totally understand the whole extra cost stopping you.  It slows me down.  My pantry is not very deep at all these past few years.  However, it is a priority and I usually use extra funds coming in to restock essentials.  It was a lifesaver during two long term unemployment seasons. 

Both of those layoffs came out of the blue.  It helped on 9/11 when everyone else was standing in long lines at grocery stores, not knowing if Detroit would be a terrorist target.  We looked out the window as military helicopters continuously flew overhead.  We were only miles (as the crow flies) from the entrance into Canada.  Extra security.  It was really happening. We could stay inside.

Even the calmest of experts tell us it is not a question of if but when there will be another terrorist attack.  It doesn't have to be near you to empty grocery stores.  Actually, you can bet on that happening if you live in hurricane areas or... like me... where we have winter storm warnings.  But at least those come with a warning.  What if... there once again is no warning?

I hope as you decide to stop putting off important things and adding them to your more immediate To Do list, you will begin an emergency pantry or add to it each week.  You'd be amazed what a little at a time will produce.  If you add emergency lighting and perhaps a way to heat up food and water (such as an outside grill), everything helps. 

Whatever you can do to prepare for the unexpected, it helps you not to be dependent on outside help and perhaps it will allow you to be in a position to help others.  I understand we can't prepare for everything.  We do not have a fireplace should we lose power in the winter (although we are melting in heat and humidity today).  However, we have extra blankets.

In the meantime, my eyesight does seem a little clearer and I'm praying the next two injections help even more.  I just wish I hadn't procrastinated until it became urgent.

NOTE:  If you notice more typos here and there, it is because my vision is just a little blurry.  Especially when reading on the computer. So some typos have not been caught in the past few months.  Such is life.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Get Out of That Pit, a review

Beth Moore's popular hardback book, Get Out of That Pit, is now available in paperback.

In the book, Beth shares her own stories and accounts of other people who have been able, with God's help, to get out of the pit they are in.  Whether you find yourself in a pit of your own doing or as a result of something someone else has done, there is a way to be restored and put on solid ground again by following Christ.

The chapters include:

  • Life in the Pit
  • When You're Thrown Into a Pit
  • When You Slip Into a Pit
  • When You Jump Into a Pit
  • Getting Out of Your Pit
  • The Three Steps Out of Your Pit
  • Waiting on God for Deliverance
  • Make Up Your Mind
  • Singing a New Song
  • Our Pit-Less Future

Although this is not deep theology, it is Biblical advice from one who has been in the pit and found a way to freedom.   It is a good read even if you don't consider yourself actually in a pit but need advice for walking closer with Christ.

Get Out of That Pit was provided by the publisher for the sake of review but the opinions are my own.

More information can be found... here.

Disclaimer:  Most links to Amazon.com are Associated Links.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Legacy

After all our hopes and dreams have come and gone
And our children sift through all we've left behind
May the clues that they discover and the memories they uncover
Become the light that leads them to the road we each must find
Find us Faithful, Steve Green

If you ever doubt the rapid passage of time, spend a week with your grandchildren.  When I see Elisabeth, now fifteen, I wonder at the years that have gone by as I remember the day she was born and thinking I wasn't old enough to be a grandmother.  ;)

It was only yesterday it seems that we were just starting out in a studio apartment in married student housing as my husband was studying for a graduate degree.   I had all kinds of hopes for what kind of family we would become over the years. 

It doesn't seem all that long ago that I was reading parenting books and calling my mother to ask what I was to do with a newborn.  (Her advice was... let her sleep whenever she will sleep!)  I was my mother's unexpected youngest child and honestly, I knew nothing about raising children.  I hardly knew how to change a diaper.

However, I was fortunate to have an easy baby to practice on and she doesn't seem to be any worse for my inexperience.  In my constant learning, I discovered that love really does cover all sins... or mistakes.  As with any first child, we had high expectations and had to balance them with fun and laughter and love.

I began to think of my legacy even in my twenties.  I think losing a parent as a child does something to the way you look at a lifespan and I knew tomorrow was not guaranteed.  So each day I had with my daughter to pour life and love and art and beauty and reading and music and Jesus into her was a gift. I made certain she experienced her first tea room after a well baby checkup.  We did have priorities.

Twelve years later, I had my own unexpected child and once again felt inadequate.  This time because I knew nothing about raising a boy.  I soon learned it took a lot of energy and the willingness to climb trails, walk dry creek beds looking for rocks and arrowheads (and snakes), developing an affection for family friendly anime and superhero movies, and to always be searching for books boys will like.

I went through a time when I was concerned for my children because there were so many years with difficult circumstances. There were some prosperous years but many that we had to be more frugal than I'd like and we moved more often than I wanted and there were difficult Christians and nice people who were obviously sinners and my health began to decline and life was a lot more complicated than I ever expected and they asked questions with no easy answers.

We did the best we could given everything God allowed to come our way but I also knew that as parents, we can do our very best and still be disappointed in the way children turn out.  Let's face it, God's first kids were in a perfect environment with a perfect parent and they still made the wrong decision. 

About the time I turned sixty... I could begin to see my legacy.  Our family's legacy.  It was as if God opened my spiritual eyes and let me see all those years as He saw them.  For the hard times were when we sought Jesus the most.  The very things that tear some families apart, drew us together because we had a Rock to cling to every day. 

I realized that legacy is built not so much on the big stuff but what we do day-to-day.  Not on what we preach but what we practice.  How my family chooses to be Jesus to others.  How we practice our Biblical beliefs while loving people who are different than us. My legacy... our legacy in the generations to come as the world gets darker... is how we choose to be salt and light.

I wish my legacy included less worry and more trusting God... trusting my instincts instead of being afraid of what others would say.  I didn't even realize it at the time but I was afraid of being judged over the silliest things. 

As I write this, I'm listening to a series of George Strait videos in another window on You Tube.  How plebeian.  How country.  How not at all cosmopolitan.  How not at all Christian you know because he sings about leaving Amarillo by morning and losing a wife and a girlfriend along the way.

What will people think?  I no longer care about such things because that is who I am.  I have come a long way from the child who grew up across the gravel road from a grain elevator but there are some things that remain and by gosh there is nothing wrong with a good country song... or two... or three.  I am a person who prefers the country to the city any day.  At this age I can roll my eyes and tell people to get over it.

I was worried my daughter would get too much New Age teaching in the public schools and my son would not get enough academics in our homeschool.  I was worried about the people they would marry and how that would change our family dynamic and all kinds of stuff.

Oh, ye of little faith.  All that prayer that went into forming a family really did work.  The prayers for their spouses from the time they were babies were answered by a man and a woman I love as if I raised them.  Working full time outside the home when both kids were little didn't scar them forever.  We not only survived in spite of our quirks and our griefs and our crazy days but we flourished.

When I spend time with grandchildren that I thoroughly enjoy being with, that is what I leave behind.  They not only are being raised in Christian homes where Christ is the center but in homes where there is a whole lot of laughter and fun.  Not because there are perfect days or perfect people but because our journey is taking us all to the same Person and Place.

I've already made a date with my grandson, David.  I've decided I want horses with my Heavenly mansion so we are going to go riding together.  When you know we are just passing through and each day is in preparation for Eternity, it puts things in balance.  Yes, I pray each of my grandchildren come to know Christ at an early age but not just as a Savior but as their best friend.  I want them to smile when they think of Jesus. 

I want them to know this world is not all there is and that heaping up stuff is not what it is all about.   Although I may have to explain all those teacups and dishes and books.  No, come to think of it... they get the books.  That is part of my legacy, too.  ;)

Photo:  Elisabeth and Piper, the oldest and the youngest grandchildren.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Family


I'll be back in "real time" on Sunday!  If you follow me on Instagram, you will know that my daughter and grandchildren have been here from New England (Dad stayed behind to work).  This visit was very last minute.

Stephanie had been wanting to fly us out to their house but I wasn't quite up to it this time.  I received a message on either Monday or Tuesday, asking me what I thought of her driving out with the kids to arrive on Thursday.  Of course, I'd love to see them... once I got over her driving a thousand miles without anyone to help.  Although Elisabeth is a great navigator.

We decided to keep their arrival a secret from Christopher's family.  I don't think I've written that he took a job in another town so they are a little over an hour away now.  Piper's first birthday party was scheduled for Saturday so Stephanie, the kids, and Granddad all traveled to the town where they now live and surprised them at the party.  They took a video of when they walked through the front door.  It was worth the trip.

Yes, I stayed at home.  I knew if I went they would all have to return soon since I get fatigued easily.  However, Piper and her mommy were in town on Monday for a well baby checkup and all the girls went out to lunch together.  It was a lot of fun and Grammie did get her Piper fix.

We had a wonderful visit.  It is always shocking to see how big the grandchildren are getting when we see them once a year.  My Hobbit, David, is now TALL!  How did that happen?  He will always be my Hobbit, though.

I love the photo Stephanie took when we were all at lunch at an Irish restaurant near campus, the day before they left for home.  That's me under the Guinness sign, beside Faith.  ;)

I'll be back on Sunday!

Mentioned in this Post
Instagram:  @coffeeteabooksandme

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Some of My Favorite Summertime DVDs!


I was going to assemble this post soon.  However, I'm going to be very busy over the weekend and unable to write blog posts.  What better time to leave this with you now!  I'll be back live and in person (so to speak) sometime next week.

I admit that Summer is when I tend to watch more DVDs than usual.  The heat and humidity can do me in quickly.  Air conditioning is my friend and I stay indoors a lot. While these are favorite movies all year round, they just remind me of Summer for some reason.

I also do my own "Christmas in July" week later in the month, closer to my birthday.  By that time I'm really tired of humidity.  I'll share more about it in a week or two.  These are in order of when I thought of them, not necessarily by favorites.  I guess you could say all of them are a favorite from time to time.

Some Favorite Videos

You may be familiar with the Love Finds You books.  They are written by various authors and some are great and others... not so much.  These first two movies were originally on the UP Channel and we enjoyed them so much, my husband asked for them as Christmas gifts!  Both are very family friendly.


Love Finds You in Sugarcreek is about a professional baseball player who is traveling with his young son to escape the paparazzi.  He ends up staying with the most adorable Amish sisters whose niece (a police officer) has doubts about this man with apparently no past.  Yes, they end up falling for each other but the story is very enjoyable and while not a comedy, it is at times quite amusing.

Further info... here.

Love Finds You in Charm is about a young Amish woman who loves Jane Austin books.  She is having second thoughts about joining the church and often dreams of what life would be like as an English woman.  When she travels to Charm, Ohio to help her widowed cousin, she gets a chance to live that dream one evening.  It is a good story about how what we often want most is right at home.  The Autumn beauty of this part of Ohio will cool you off.

Further info... here.

Saving Sarah Cain is based on the book by Beverly Lewis.  I saw it on... of all places... Lifetime Movie channel.  Sarah Cain is a successful professional woman who finds that her sister, who became Amish when she married, has left her children for her to raise when she passed away.  This story line is much more complex than the first two movies but there is a reason it is a favorite among many of Lewis's fans. 

Further info... here.

Finding Normal stars Candace Cameron Bure and it was also a TV movie but I can't recall what channel.  It does play now on UP TV once in awhile. Bure plays an LA doctor driving to Long Island to join her boyfriend, who is also a doctor to wealthy people.  She gets pulled over for speeding in Normal, North Carolina and has to perform community service as a general practitioner for a few days.

This is a movie about gaining faith in God and learning that the simple things of life are better than riches.  Yes, it is cheesy but very, very enjoyable and family friendly.  Perhaps my husband's favorite TV movie.

Further info... here.

The next two DVDs are from the 1960s, one was a favorite of mine and the other a favorite of my husband.  Although we like both of them.  There are some movies I say could never be made again in the same way for society has changed so much.  These are two of them.



Man's Favorite Sport? with Rock Hudson and Paula Prentiss.  Hudson plays a fishing expert who has actually never fished.  Everything he knows is from books.  Prentiss is the woman who pushes his boss to sign him up for a fishing contest, not knowing that he does not actually fish.  The chemistry between these two makes for  a very funny story. 

The fact it was made in a more innocent time is why I say it could not be made today.  In one scene, she has fallen asleep in his cabin after taking a sleeping pill and people are shocked when they find her there the next morning, even when he explains what happened.  Not in today's society.  Nothing terrible in it but probably not a family movie.

Further info... here.

Father Goose starring Cary Grand and Leslie Caron is another comedy from the 60s, one of my husband's favorites.  It is family friendly even though a romance evolves, the worst scenes is when he was umm... inebriated in the beginning.

Grant's character is assigned (unwillingly) to an island during WWII to watch for enemy planes flying over.  Caron's character is a school teacher who ends up on the island with a group of her schoolgirls after a shipwreck.  The results are great fun.

Further info... here.

I've mentioned the Wilderness Family trilogy before but it is 1970s movie fun.  My family loved these movies and enjoyed the escapism as well as making fun of the writing once in awhile. I knew a woman when I lived in Michigan who saw this as a teenager and it always made her want to be a homesteader. 

Kind of cheesy but in a good way, it is also about a family who cares about each other and the scenery is a star of all three shows.  I have come to realize it is good to have our kids watch some of these older movies because they were so much more innocent than what is produced today.  I find some young people so jaded that they can't enjoy the older movies.  Sad.

Further info... here.

Miss Potter... what can I say.  It is lovely.  Just lovely.  I thought it amusing when my daughter told me the first time she saw the movie, she thought immediately of me.  I do have a habit of naming and talking to inanimate objects.  Maybe I shouldn't admit that outside of the family?

Further info... here.

Christy is a series I enjoyed and like many people, was rather bummed when it was cancelled.  However, I can watch it when I want on DVD.  Somehow the story lines from the Blue Ridge Mountains cool me down in hot weather.  ;)

Further Info... here.


Rosemary & Thyme is a mystery series from Great Britain that revolves around gardens.  Who wouldn't love to watch that in Summer, especially those of us who love mysteries.  It stars two of my favorite British actresses, Felicity Kendall (Good Neighbors) and Pam Ferris (Call the Midwife).

Season One Info... here.

Haley Mills movies... I must admit, I do not own any of these DVDS but they are long time favorites.  The original Parent Trap is a movie we loved! To me it seemed Haley Mills was summer fun watching.  A few favorites were:

The Moon-Spinners
Further info... here.

The Parent Trap (I and II both star Haley Mills)
Further info... here.  (Unfortunately, it is only for Prime members, which I am not)

In Search of the Castaways
Further info... here.

Summer Magic 
Further info... here.

That Darn Cat
Further info... here.


That's probably more than enough ideas for now!  See you next week.

Disclaimer:  Most links to Amazon.com are Associate links.  Some of these movies may be available at your library.  Both Christy and Rosemary and Thyme have gone way up in price while many others have gone down in price.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Are you using your gifts?


When we were moving from Iowa, I called the guidance counselor of the high school Stephanie would be attending to discuss sending her paperwork they needed.  In the conversation, I mentioned she had been part of a gifted children's program and asked if she could continue at their school.  At which time, the counselor stated that "all of their children were gifted!" so they didn't need a special program.

I still get a chuckle over that comment for obviously not all kids are academically gifted.  However, I like the thought that all kids have some kind of a gift, even if that is not what she meant.  For not only children have special gifts but I believe God gives each person talents He wants us to use.

The Word tells us when Jesus went back to the Father, He gave gifts to men.  There are plenty of other such places in Scripture, one of my favorites being at the start of Exodus 31 when we are told of men who were specifically gifted in various crafts for the building of the Tabernacle.  The Complete Jewish Bible translates it... "every kind of artisanry".

I think that our primary area of gifting from God... and we have many... is that which we have to do whether we get paid for it or not.  It is a passion within us that brings us joy.  It is a skill that comes easily, that for which we were born. For me that is writing.  I never thought of it as a gift until that day it dawned on me that in almost every endeavor I have accomplished, writing was a part of what I liked the most. 

Writing is how I cleared my thoughts.  Whether writing out my week's To Do list at work or writing a memo to my boss or writing a letter to a friend.  I loved to write.  It took decades for me to realize that being a writer and being an author were two different things entirely.  One may be called a writer because they... write. Even if they never publish what they write.

You get better at what you do constantly, you refine the gift God has given you when you use it.  I can write without thinking (although sometimes I go back and read what I have written and realized I should have had at least one more read through before hitting Publish).  

However, if I had to write perfectly each time, I'd never write.  Which is why some people I know do not write. Or Cook.  Or paint landscapes.  Or sketch portraits  Or create poetry.  Or start a scrapbook journal.  Or play the piano.  Or bake cakes.  Or make pottery.  Or teach a class.  Or use their pressure canner (that one is for me).  Or... anything we feel we have to do perfectly.

God has given each one of us at least one gift and most probably many gifts that can used for His glory and to bring joy to others. Your God given gift is what you have to do, what you are passionate about at the core of your person.  For instance, I used to dabble in painting but I don't have the desire it takes to be very good at it... whether watercolors, or acrylics, or oils.  Instead I use that part of my creative gifting to scrapbook journal or create cards or other crafts.

I quilted for awhile but then lost interest in it because I realized I love quilts but not sewing.  I understood my love of quilts was more my love of using them in decorating... and not making them.  However, I have some quilting friends who absolutely have to sew and make quilts.  That is their passion and they bless other people with their God given gifts.

I know God has given me a gift of cooking and baking because I find such great joy in the process.  Yes, I do tell people I have the spiritual gift of cookies.  However, I also love the process of chopping onions and celery and carrots, pouring a little olive oil in the bottom of the pan, then browning the veggies until they are just the right color... then adding tomatoes or sauce or stock or water and a chicken or all kinds of options available. 

I think one area in which we don't realize our gifts are God given is the way society looks at giftings.  For if they are not used professionally, then do they really matter?  That idea was one I struggled with when I was younger.  For a long time I thought I should use my baking skills to be a professional pastry chef but then life got in the way and I ended up homeschooling our son and then I developed Type 1 diabetes and well... that wouldn't work!

Quite often I have to ask God to give me Truth, to help me cut through what has become embedded by what I was taught whether in school, or in magazine articles, or even in chatting with friends long ago.  For we were just coming of age at the time of the Women's Movement and we started thinking our lives were far superior than women before us.

I came to realize they understood how to use their gifts and talents far better than we did.

For they used the gifts God gave them for their family, their friends, their church, and just for the joy of doing something they love.  I knew women who were known for the meals they created for their families on a tight budget.  My husband still remembers one of his mother's good friends who was famous for her cakes at the church potlucks.  I have been blessed by friends who wrote beautiful lyrics and played them on a guitar for our small group, just beginning to understand the concept of worship.

I had a good friend who used to tease me about being the only person she knew who hoped there were kitchens in Heavenly mansions.  She was one of the most talented Bible study teachers I have had the joy of hearing, with the ability to draw Truth from the Bible to teach in our Sunday School every week.  She was just as good as any Bible teacher on TV but she was... ours.

Your gift may take you before kings.  You may write books that bless thousands.  You may play music for large audiences.  Your paintings may hang in galleries and your ideas may save your corporation millions.  You may design award winning houses or become a master chef.  Your communication skills may take you to large magazines or your wisdom as a leader may be just what God needs to run for political office.

However... for most of us, we will be asked to practice our giftings in our home, our church, or our community. For you see, God placed you just where He wants you...  at the moment in time He wants you.... gifting you in every way to accomplish the journey He has set before you.  Nothing less.  Nothing more.  Uniquely you.

So I finish writing today and I ask for grace to cover typos and less than perfect grammar.  I pray His Truth will be made known to you that you are so uniquely special to Jesus.  He came to win you back from the clutches of the Enemy at great cost.  You don't have to do anything or be anything special to deserve His love... or the gifts you were given.