Trust Walk

It was a hot, sunny summer day and family was in town, so we decided to spend the day at the beach. It sounds so simple, but a day at the beach actually includes lugging lawn chairs, umbrellas, towels, blankets, sand toys, sunscreen, snacks and drinks from the parking lot across 400 ft of blistering sand to the water.  There is a lot of stuff to carry!

We set up, enjoyed the water and sunshine and wore everyone out as we dug in the sand and played in the surf. When it was time to head back, we “broke camp” and gathered up all of our belongings, with my husband taking the lion’s share of equipment across the long, scorching beach.

Something happened to my husband on the trek back to the car.  He became so dizzy and lightheaded that he handed the keys to our son and asked him to drive us home.  On the short drive home he became drenched in a chilly sweat, despite the hot day, and began vomiting.  When his left arm began to hurt, he decided he needed to go directly to the hospital.

When you walk into an emergency room and say the words, “Heart Attack,” people respond immediately.  He was rushed back to a bay and hooked up to electrodes, amid other blood draws and tests.  Eventually it was decided that he would spend the night for observation and have more tests in the morning.

If it looks like a duck, sounds like a duck, and walks like a duck, you would suspect it is a duck, but all tests showed no sign of a heart attack.  They released him in the afternoon with the diagnosis of “most likely acid re flux” and advised him to follow up with his primary physician.

The primary physician disagreed with the ER diagnosis and ordered MORE tests.  These failed to show anything that could have caused the “episode” but did reveal a rather significant partial blockage of the small intestine.  He was referred to a GI specialist.

This is scary stuff.  Most Googled remedies toss around the word “FATAL” way too much for our comfort.  The GI Dr. ordered even more tests and scheduled a colonoscopy  a couple weeks out. 

It is hard not to “future trip” when frightening medical reports surface.  It is a real battle to keep your focus on Jesus and daily renew your mind, making the choice to trust Him, no matter what the results.  (In reality, what other options are there?)

We received the results of the very detailed testing just before my husband was wheeled back for the colonoscopy and the findings were good.  After the colonoscopy, the GI Dr. spoke with us and said, ” I have no idea what showed up as a partial intestinal blockage, because everything looks fine.”

How often do we carry stuff we don’t need to carry when we hear bad news?  Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11: 28-30  We can trust him in the middle of bad news.  1 Peter 5:7 instructs us to cast all our anxiety on him (Jesus) because he cares for us. Despite the struggle to keep my focus on Jesus, I was incredibly relieved to hear the Dr. say that the blockage was gone and everything looks fine!

Someone asked me, “So, was it a miracle or a smudge on the film?”  I don’t know.  I DO know that I serve a great big God who is fully capable of performing miracles.  I have seen God’s hand work in miraculous ways many times in my life and in the lives of others.  And I know that with Jesus there is peace in the midst of frightening medical reports and an uncertain future.

This incident just provided another opportunity to practice my “Trust Walk;”  just another opportunity to trust Jesus.

 

 

 

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End of Summer-time blues….

My husband and I have taken a sabbatical from working for the summer. This experience has reinstated some habits from our youth, chiefly summer vacation behavior! Our summer vacation has mimicked those school days summers when we stayed up late, slept in every morning and goofed off most of the time. It has been a wonderfully busy summer for us, with days filled with visits from house guests, out-of-town trips, sight-seeing excursions, staying up late, and recharging our batteries by waking up when we feel rested.

But fall-like weather has ushered in the reality that our summer vacation is rapidly drawing to a close, and our final weeks here contain a flurry of scheduled appointments like yearly physicals and eye exams, with most being scheduled early in the morning. Sadly, the majority of our mornings this week will come with a 6:30 am alarm clock, which means being responsible and actually turning off the TV before the late news and monologues air so we don’t have to resemble coffee-guzzling zombies in the morning. The adjustment is difficult, to say the least!

These cool, grey, rainy mornings make us want to pull the covers over our heads and snuggle in for a couple more hours of sleep. Why is it easier to stay up an extra hour or two at night instead of waking up an hour or two earlier? I suspect we are “night-owls” and not “larks.”

But, we are not alone. All across this country people with education jobs or school-aged children are joining the ranks of the bleary-eyed as we struggle to reset our sleep patterns to accommodate our changing schedules. Despite singing the end of summer-time blues, I am gearing up in anticipation for fall activities.

In the meantime, pass the COFFEE!!!

Summer Goodness “In the Can!”

This was supposed to be a food-production summer! Our intention was to intensely garden and preserve most of the harvest in glass canning jars to enjoy all winter long. Unfortunately, our heavy clay soil, colder than normal temperatures, and the heavy, frequent rains are a poor combination for growing much of anything. Our corn is only waist high and has tasseled out without any ears to pollinate and the green beans drowned out twice.

Fortunately we have a few raised beds with decent drainage and they are producing fairly well. I have a “Ratatouille Garden.” Meaning, most of what I planted in the raised beds will grow into the ingredients of one of my favorite foods, the humble eggplant stew made famous by the Disney movie about a cooking rat!

I don’t make mine in the stylized, stacked strata of the animated film. My version of Ratatouille is scooped, steaming out of the pot, and served with a chunk of crusty, homemade bread on the side.

Everyone who makes this has their own version of the dish, probably because we tend to “make it up as we go along” depending on whatever is ripening in the garden. I make a base of garlic, chopped onions and chopped green or red (or both if I have them) peppers, sautéed until tender in olive oil. Next I add peeled, chopped eggplant and cook that for a bit with the base. I add several cans of Italian Seasoned chopped tomatoes (if I don’t use my own spices and home canned tomatoes or have enough fresh from the garden). Then I throw in chopped zucchini and yellow summer squash. Add Italian seasonings to taste. I don’t measure, and just “eyeball” the quantities, depending on what I have on hand.

I bring it to a boil for @15 minutes to blend the flavors and then ladle into hot canning jars and process in my pressure canner. The veggies are still a little under-done at this stage but will finish cooking in the canner. I set the regulator at 10 pounds of pressure and let it rock for 50 minutes because I preserve this summer goodness in quart jars. Follow the directions for normal pressure canning of low-acid foods. Boil contents 20 minutes before serving.

This is an extremely yummy, low calorie, low weight-watcher point meal before you add the bread! I love Ratatouille and think I could live on this stuff. Thanks to pressure canning, I have captured summer goodness in the can to enjoy all year long!

Bon Appetite!

Freezing in the Frozen Mitten!

Someone has turned off the heat in the Frozen Mitten! After two wonderful weeks of rare temperatures in the 90’s, we are back to a “cooler than normal” forecast. Aside from that unusual blast of warm air, it has been a chilly summer with night temps dipping into the 40’s and daytime highs struggling to touch 80.

Not much need to run the air conditioning with weather like this, but you may need to throw another blanket on the bed and close the window at night. At least utility bills will be lower.

If Michigan were ever to have a designated “State Garment” I think it should be the front-zippered fleece jacket. This is the garment you can wear all year long. In the winter it keeps you toasty when you step away from the wood burning stove and provides that important extra layer of heat-trapping warmth under your parka when you step outside. It keeps your face warm at night if you flip it over your head when burrowing under your quilts. In summer it is your go-to garment, great for chilly mornings and evenings, as well as your never-needs-ironing wrap for overly air-conditioned restaurants and stores. It is also thick enough to repel the ever-hungry state bird – the mosquito.

Pack away those tank tops, shorts and sundresses. Michigan’s two weeks of summer is over and it is time for jeans, sweatshirts and fleece. It is almost time to rev up the that snowmobile!

Backseat Drivers

Summer is the time for road trips. The kids are out of school, the weather is warm, and undiscovered adventure beckons. And despite skyrocketing gasoline prices, driving is still cheaper than packing everyone into an airplane! Plus there are those priceless hours of family togetherness in the car.

Too often those long hours in the car are accompanied with the sound track of: “ I’m hungry! “ “ I’m thirsty! “ “ Are we there yet?” “I’m bored!” “He’s in my space!” “I have to go potty!” If we have ever traveled with children or have had a sibling, we can relate. Voices from the backseat are distracting and demanding. They can steal our peace and rob us of the enjoyment of the journey. Keeping one eye on the road, the driver often focuses on the turmoil in the backseat, snarling, “Don’t make me stop this car!” “Settle down! Behave!”

Distracted driving is dangerous. The driver jeopardizes his safety, emotionally hooks into the situation in the backseat, and loses his peace of mind. The kids are controlling the adult who is driving, who directs their primary attention on the drama being played out in the backseat. The trip is conducted with the primary focus being on the rear view mirror.

Driving while focusing in the rearview mirror is dangerous in the physical realm (because you could drive off a cliff !) and in the spiritual realm. Don’t drive down the road of life focused on the rear view mirror.

The offspring of Regret are Shoulda, Woulda. and Coulda. All too often we find them firmly planted in the backseat of life. If we listen to them, allow them to steal our joy for the journey, and focus on them, we can plunge ourselves into despair. They will control us if we let them.

Yes, we check the rearview mirror from time to time, to glance at what is behind us, but our focus needs to be on the road ahead. Tune out the demanding voices of the Regret Triple Crown and look to the horizon ahead of you. God has a plan for you; He has mapped out your destination.

Keep your eyes on the road that God has planned for you and don’t allow Regret to be a backseat driver.

Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.

Catching a whiff of memories

Isn’t it funny how scents can trigger memories?  A summer breeze wafting past my neighbor’s cow barn transports me back to happy childhood summer afternoons playing in my Grandmother’s cow shed.  The smell of fresh tar immediately transports me back to the days my Dad sealed the outside of the basement walls of the house he built when I was four.   And if you open a box of crayons around me, my brain takes me back to the hallways of Flora List Elementary School.  

Today I walked through a classroom here at the church and something I smelled took me back to my Aunt Patty’s farmhouse kitchen!  I spent a week at her house when I was six years old and she made blueberry pancakes for breakfast.  I was startled when that whiff of something in the classroom instantly “took” me there and my mouth began watering, remembering her cooking.  

The sense of smell is an interesting thing that is directly linked to our taste buds.  Hold your nose and you won’t notice the taste of something that has an unpleasant flavor.  Yet, constant exposure to an odor will dull one’s sensitivity to it.  I have talked to people who live in towns with paper mills or oil refineries.  After a while, they don’t even notice the odor.

Just as people who smoke cigarettes don’t notice the odor of nicotine clinging to their clothing, or a pretty perfume seems to lose its scent to the person wearing it, we can easily become immune to the common smells that surround us day to day.  In the Bible days, a shepherd spent his life so close to his sheep that he would begin to smell like them.  I’m sure the shepherd didn’t notice the sheep-smell, but everyone else probably did.  

As Believers in Jesus Christ, we are called to spend so much time with our Lord that we begin to smell like Him.  We may not even notice it, but those who don’t know Him will.  My prayer is that we leave a fragrant scent of Christ’s love where ever we go, so that when people “catch a whiff” it will trigger a pleasant memory and make them hungry for more of Jesus, much as I am now hungry for my Aunt Patty’s home-made blue berry pancakes!