From Thanksgiving to Waiting

We’re moving from Thanksgiving to Advent.

Thanksgiving 2013
Thanksgiving 2013

From golden harvest,

wpid-elizaautumn.jpgand crisp clarity during walks in the woods,


and the delight of the gifts of children receiving the gifts of creation,


to the frosty season of waiting, of longing, of chills and heartache and dead car batteries.


It’s also the time for hope and pushing on and stoking the fire while the frost covers everything.


When God writes trials into our story, he’s writing the stuff that makes true characters.

This is as true now as it was when he wrote his Son into the Book in human form. As we remember, wait, and watch for the coming Jesus, we watch the perfect protagonist, the spoken Word, withstand every weakness of flesh and do the unexpected–reveal God’s glory in his own face.

Every trial and temptation showed the metal he was made of–perfectly pure.  They show our worth as well. When we’re whipped around by heartbreaking family realities and burdens and the unknown, God is giving us a window, a peek, at our own souls–which is significant because we’re so often deceived about ourselves, about our strength.

Mary says in her Magnificat, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.”

What most of us would see as a trial–Mary’s unwed pregnancy–she recognized as a blessing and she overflowed in worship. She had been looked on by God. He saw her and her humble estate.

Every believer in Jesus can say the same thing. He has looked on us. He has seen our humble estate, our spiritual poverty. And the gaze of God on us is only a comfort if our estate is humble. A proud heart can’t feel solace in a holy God. But when I fear God, he gently leads me.

This advent I will remember that God has looked on me. He’s looking down on our little family, and he has in mind for us something more than the tragic fools or embittered malcontents of the narrative. He’s shaping disciples; he’s molding faithfulness. He’s telling his story and by his grace, our parts are good ones.

Spreading Some Manure Around

Well, that’s gross, but yes.

Over the past year or so my fledgling enjoyment of taking pictures has conspired with my fledgling enjoyment of cooking and baking to produce a mom who can go through the 10 lb. flour bag in no time at all, with a grimy camera and lots of seemingly useless pics clogging up my computer to prove it.

I’d like to put those pics to use and spread the manure of thankfulness and joy around. Gratitude is such a powerful fertilizer. It’s hard to grow bitterness in a garden of grateful. We ought to be thankful for our food, even though we’ve twisted up our relationship with food pretty much since the beginning. And we keep on getting ourselves in knots over it, hoping it will save us, cure us, satisfy us, and right all the wrongs.

It won’t do that. But it can point us to what will satisfy. If a perfect pot roast on a cool fall eve satisfies and delights for a few hours, could it be that there’s something like that warm comfort.. forever? Food also shows us our creaturely nature. We need it or we die. We are as dependent as the baby that I nurse every few hours. So I’m being fed by our Father daily.

Food shows us the deeper food. It points to the Food of Jesus, the Bread, the Word.

With this in mind, I’m cheerfully spreading the manure of merriment with pics of food and recipes. My hope is that they’ll kindle a robust hearty thankfulness for food ad the God who gives it and encourage a wholesome attitude toward it. One that isn’t gluttonous or ascetic or idolatrous. So with that lengthy preface behind me, here’s a taste of what we’ve been thankful for lately.


Crusty Bread. I’ve mentioned this bread before and seriously couldn’t imagine a more delightful and easy bread to make. If you’ve never made bread (as I hadn’t just a year or so ago), start here. End here. It’s a winner.

fresh peaches
fresh peaches
buttermilk mixture
buttermilk mixture
caramel sauce
caramel sauce
finished product
finished product

Peach Buttermilk Bread Pudding with Homemade Caramel Sauce. Yes, it’s as good as you hope. Especially with a dollop of ice cream. We were out of bread, so I made a couple loaves of the crusty bread above and used one for this bread pudding. Way too much fun.

serious helpers
serious helpers

I’d be majorly remiss if I didn’t mention the important part helpers play in food gratitude and bonding and serving and general excitement and joy. Sometimes I’m stingy with helpers–saving all the best jobs for myself (who doesn’t love cracking an egg and whisking away?!). But I’m slowly learning that it not only robs them of joy, but me as well. Sharing happy work multiplies happiness (and messes). I’m letting the happiness overrule the messes, some of the time anyway.

mini-loaves zuke bread
choco zuke banana bread

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Banana Bread.  A friend brought over a zucchini the size of Rhode Island for us as she was going out of town and 8 loaves of this zucchini bread later I wish we had another one! I modified the recipe I linked to by adding a banana that was going bad and using a little less zucchini.

pumpkin streusel bread
pumpkin streusel bread

Pumpkin Bread. In college, the DC (dining center) would serve pumpkin bread in the fall. Massive, hot loaves, sliced an inch and a half thick that were inhaled by whoever could get to the front of the line. I remember being pushed and squeezed as everyone eagerly crowded in to get some. I’m sure elbows were thrown. I set out to make something comparable and judging by the kids crowding and snitching, we’re on the right track. I added a streusel on top for kicks. It’s not in the recipe I linked to, but is just melted butter, sugar of any kind, and flour. You can’t lose.

mozzarella cheese sticks
mozzarella cheese sticks

Mozzarella Cheese Sticks. The MN State Fair is a big deal ’round here. We missed it with Titus being born. So I was hankering for the infamous cheese curds and this is what resulted. They actually are nothing like cheese curds. They’re like Italian mozzarella sticks. I cut up string cheese in half, then dipped in egg, then panko mixture (bread crumbs, olive oil, herbs, salt, pepper), then was going to fry them up when I realized I didn’t have enough oil. So I baked them for about 5 min and quickly pulled them out so they didn’t melt all over. They managed to hold together and my son and I gobbled them up. Not cheese curds, but still good.

peasant bread
peasant bread
pleasant bread
pleasant bread

Peasant Bread. Which I would like to rename to Pleasant Bread. Or Pleasant Peasant Bread. If you decide to keep on going with the bread making, this is a great second bread to learn. Very simple and easy and it bakes the same day, no overnight rising. Which could be a plus or a minus depending on your needs and schedule. Also, it bakes in pyrex bowls, which is great! This bread should be eaten the day it’s made. It’s wonderful that way. Subsequent days we use it for toast.


fall mix, candy corn pumpkin
fall mix, candy corn pumpkin

Last but not least, fall mix. Which is simply equal parts peanuts, candy corn and m&m’s, mixed up and set out for everyone to enjoy.

That’s all the manure I’ve got to spread at the blog today. Still have a few piles to go here at home.

“And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15b



When the House Cries

Our home has been crying for two days.

wpid-housecry.jpgIt started with the hot tears of disappointment. Yesterday morning, out on the pond, there were ducks. By early afternoon the storm had started, the ducks were gone and the window panes were covered with tears.

wpid-housecry2.jpgThe following day, the hot tears had become ice cold streams of sorrow. Unrelenting and dimming every view.

wpid-housecry4.jpgAfter a while, the cry started to wear itself out. The sadness was there, but the tears were stagnant. They’d lost the volume, but not the ache.

wpid-housecry3.jpgAt last and almost by disguise, light started to creep in the windows. A single color presented itself. And our house sighed and silent tears started. Tears of gratefulness, of heartache soothed, of melting. Tears that taste all the more sweet for the time of bitter.

P.S. Anyone else feeling morose and wordy in the wake of this weather?! Forgive the melodrama!

Sending Out Roots


May our roots always be drinking deeply at the stream of Jesus.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose trust is the LORD.
He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
(Jeremiah 17:7-8 ESV)

An Everlasting Rock

1. Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
let me hide myself in thee;
let the water and the blood,
from thy wounded side which flowed,
be of sin the double cure;
save from wrath and make me pure.

2. Not the labors of my hands
can fulfill thy law’s commands;
could my zeal no respite know,
could my tears forever flow,
all for sin could not atone;
thou must save, and thou alone.

3. Nothing in my hand I bring,
simply to the cross I cling;
naked, come to thee for dress;
helpless, look to thee for grace;
foul, I to the fountain fly;
wash me, Savior, or I die.

4. While I draw this fleeting breath,
when mine eyes shall close in death,
when I soar to worlds unknown,
see thee on thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
let me hide myself in thee.

-text by Augustus M. Toplady (1740-1778)


The Bread of Life and The Word Pictures

I’ve been working on putting text to pictures–mostly The Text. All of life points; it aims; it casts our attention to something. Bread making is an obvious pointer.

As I’ve continued our bread making adventure, I can’t help but be reminded and pointed to the many places in Scripture where bread and leaven are mentioned. It gives me a lot to think on: a little leaven leavens the whole lump; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy; to what shall I compare the kingdom of God? It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened.

God spends a lot of time talking about bread. There’s an irony that so many people in our culture choose not to eat it. Jesus says, ““Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.”

And, “I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (John 6:48-51 ESV)

So I’ve made a page to put “The Word Pictures.” Pictures like the one above. Pictures that remind me what things like bread are really for. I started doing it many months ago and it has been a kind way for the Lord to minister to me with His Word, to give me vision, and to rescue me with work for my hands and mind.

I hope they’re pointers to reality, the reality that is the Word of God and reminds us what this world is for: to cast a shadow. May these copies and shadows do the job of helping us get a grasp on this real thing: Jesus Christ crucified and raised, our High Priest forever.