November 23, 2011

Giving Thanks for the Gift of Time

Hurry, hurry!! Get through the final minutes of the school day so you can rush to the market and gather the final ingredients needed for Thanksgiving Day tomorrow! Oh no, look at the crush of people here..... I wish I could have taken off a day to do all this....

That used to be me. Rushing here and there, so exhausted for the holiday that I couldn't enjoy it.

The contrast of having the gift of time now available to do things both necessary and desired. What a treat to set a table with some "extras"! So pretty and inviting!

Last year at about this time of year my husband Larry and I were sifting through a box of paperwork which had been brought out of his mother Mary's house before it was sold. Mostly unneeded magazine and newspaper clippings, sometimes an advertisement from the 50's which was interesting for it's fashions and style.

Oh, but what's this?? I held a sheet of yellowed loose leaf paper, with Mary's handwriting upon it.

As I read, I realized that it was a recipe. 

Larry had long talked about his mother's cooking and baking talents, and how she never wrote down recipes or kept a collection of her family's favorite dishes and treats. He talked of Chicken Paprikash, and Pork Chops Baked With Potatoe Layers, and Torte, and Pumpkin Chiffon Pie.

And suddenly here in my hands was the recipe for Pumpkin Chiffon Pie. I could hardly believe our good fortune!! Here was the one dessert that Larry had talked about every time Thanksgiving rolled around....... the pie he would "die for"!

So last year I was able to make one for him to enjoy. What a blessing for him, and for me.

This year, I found my copy of Mary's recipe. Time to make Larry's pie.
 And as I worked, I thought of Mary, making her pies for years and years. As I made the graham cracker crust, I thought of Mary pounding her crackers. Today I used a plastic bag and my heavy meat tenderizer to crush the crackers into crumbs. How had she crushed hers? Layers of waxed paper, rolled and pounded with her rolling pin perhaps?
 Oh my, this is difficult! How do I get the mixture to adhere to the sides of the plate? How can I get it molded evenly? I bet Mary got so she could make a crust with one hand tied behind her back!
 Hmmmmm. I haven't used this egg separator in a long time. I remember watching my own mother separate eggs by shifting the yolk from one half of the shell to the other while the whites dripped into her bowl. She had no special egg separator, and I'll bet Mary didn't have one either!
 Who knew the filling had to be cooked?!! It's sort of a custard. Still heavy in texture. But wait.... whip those egg whites and sugar into huge mounds of glossy meringue!!
 Now the filling is so light and airy. There is so much filling that it rises above the edges of the crust. This pie is ready to be chilled and then brought out of the refrigerator to be admired and eaten the following day. 

(Larry enjoys a layer of whipped cream on his piece. Out of the Redi-Whip spritz can. Just like in the "old days", he says.)

I never could have the energy to bake like this when I was teaching. Kroger or Costco would provide dessert for Thanksgiving. It was all I could do to get a turkey in the oven, after all.

I thank God again and again for the opportunity to minister with my time and my hands. What a gift to give to my husband, to be able to serve him his most favorite pie from his  own mother's recipe. And what a gift to my own heart to have the time to research some pretty table ornaments (done at home, and not expensive at all!). I am able to be hospitable to my guests in ways I never could before now. A feast for the eyes as well as the palate.

Thanksgiving. Giving thanks for God's mercies, and His provision, and His love.

November 19, 2011

Giraffes and Such

Isn't this the most beautiful creature?

I have had a fondness for giraffes ever since I can remember. When I was a babe-in-arms, my parents would lay me in my crib for sleep, and tuck me in with a little stuffed animal. I loved that little guy! It was a (can you guess??) GIRAFFE!

You see, Dad had been disabled at the end of World War 2, and he had spent part of his healing and rehabilitation at a Veteran's hospital in Georgia, then had a transfer to the Veteran's hospital in Allen Park, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. Through an interesting series of "circumstances" (which I don't believe in, if you haven't guessed by now) my parents met while he was hospitalized. They courted, married, and VOILA! there I was 3 years later.

Part of Dad's rehab was occupational therapy. One product of the time spent in therapy was the little stuffed giraffe in my crib.

This sweet little creature had been stitched by Dad's two hands in yellow cotton cloth, it had brown felt spots sewn on here and there in a random pattern, and I wish I could recall if it had button eyes or not! No matter.

I believe I imprinted on that little stuffed giraffe, made by my dad's own hands, loved until it fell apart and couldn't be salvaged.

When I had the opportunity to snap the photo above while I was visiting in Zambia, in that same instant I thought of the events which lead up to my dad serving in the US Navy, the events which led to my mom being introduced to him in 1950, their subsequent marriage, children, all the life events in the ensuing years, departures of loved ones (including dad), and then how in the world I came to be in Africa in the first place.

God "works in mysterious ways". Mysterious to us who are simply humans, perhaps. But never mysterious to His purposes.

I now find myself on the verge of new adventure. Every dawn brings breathless anticipation.

I have no doubt that life will come full circle once again, and put me face-to-face with another "giraffe".

God is so GOOD!

It's Time!!

It's time to get back to work here. This sabbatical has lasted long enough. There is so much of life yet to be explored.

God's hand is ever hovering over me, and He needs me to share the news of His goodness.

So, back at it, in a timely manner, carving out minutes here and there which will add up to a new posting.

"See you on the flip-side!"