Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Legacy of Hymns

When I was a young Christian, the Pastor's wife of the church I attended was the piano and organ player. She was one of those precious saints who had grown up in the faith and had a rich legacy of hymns and choruses. I "grew up" (in my early 20's) being introduced to the old hymns...and oh, how I grew to love them.
Pastor and Faith Shaw were called to another city, and I still miss them. As a young mother, I remember inviting Faith to my home for lunch so I could ask her what her parents did right...for all of Faith's brothers and sisters were serving God. (All 11 of them!) Faith was a quiet lady, but had a deep, deep well to draw from.

As my son grew older and the hymns became more and more scarce, I felt a sense of importance that Eddie would grow up being exposed to the hymns of old, knowing and hopefully developing a love for them. I felt this so strongly, that I bought a book of Hymns for Devotions, that gave a history of each hymn along with the lyrics and bio of the composer; as well as cassette tapes of hymns; and videos of the Gaithers, who had gathered old saints and gospel singers to have a time of worship together. We owned several hymn books as well.

We played them in our home and "had church" in our living room many times. I still love the hymns, more than ever. So rich in doctrine (most of them)...and anointed. One of my favorites is "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing." It is also special to my son, as he included it in the worship at his wedding ceremony. What a joy to stand there singing those words on such a significant day! We all felt the presence of God in a powerful way.
I heard this song on the radio the other day and just knew I needed to journal this and share it with you. In doing an internet search for the lyrics, I found that although there are a few different versions, and some stanzas are used more than others, there are actually five beautiful verses in the original text.
Come Thou Fount was composed by Rev. Robert Robinson, a Methodist pastor in the year 1757. He was 22 years old. The music is an American folk tune known as Nettleton, and attributed to evangelist Asahel Nettleton, who composed it in the early 19th century.
Here are all five stanzas (click here to listen):
1. Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.
2. Sorrowing I shall be in spirit
Till released from flesh and sin
Yet from what I do inherit,
Here Thy praises I'll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
3. Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me
I cannot proclaim it well.
4. O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
5. O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.

Does not the melody resound in your heart as you read these rich words?!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Clam Chowder

Before I came to the Pacific Northwest, I wouldn’t touch Clam Chowder. But, on a short cruise to Victoria, B.C. I took a taste (Ivar's) from my son’s bowl…and couldn’t believe how good it was!

Now that I’ve mastered making it, I feel like a true Northwesterner! I’ve made a few versions, even getting fresh clams at one time, but the one my husband likes best is actually pretty easy. I love how it incorporates four kinds of vegetables. I serve it with fish and fresh bread. Here is the recipe:

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Ready In: 50 minutes
Yields: 8 servings

3 (6.5 ounce) cans minced clams
1 cup minced onion
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced carrots
2 cups cubed potatoes
*¾ cup butter (I use Smart Balance 50/50)
*¾ cup flour
1 quart half-and-half cream (milk can be used if this is too rich for you)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons salt (I find this to be a little too much)
ground black pepper to taste

Drain juice from clams into a large skillet over the onions, celery, carrots and potatoes. Add water to cover, and cook over medium heat until tender.
Meanwhile, in a large, heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth. Whisk in cream and stir constantly until thick and smooth. Stir in vegetables and clam juice. Heat through, but do not boil.
Stir in clams just before serving. If they cook too much they get tough. When clams are heated through, stir in vinegar, and season with salt and pepper.

* I use ½ cup each of butter and flour, as I find it’s too thick otherwise. The important thing is to use the same amount of fat and flour when making a thickening agent. So, if you cut down the flour, be sure to cut down the butter to the same measurement.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Sunday Scripture

How can a young man cleanse his way?
By taking heed according to Your word.
With my whole heart I have sought You;
Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You. Psalm 119: 9-11

Beginning this week, I will post a scripture every Sunday that I will memorize. When I was a young Christian, I was part of a Discipleship Class in which one of the many requirements was to choose two verses to memorize per week. What a blessing and nourishment to my soul that was! To this day those verses come to mind and that was 25 years ago!
I would love it if you would join me committing a verse to memory each week!

Here's this week's verse:
It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed,
because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning:
great is Thy faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23

Today I am grateful for:

1. "Luxuries" that our ancestors never electric stove, indoor plumbing, refrigerator, washer and dryer...they truly make life easier
2. The truth of the old song: "Wonderful, wonderful Jesus is to me, Counselor, Prince of Peace, Mighty God is He; Saving me, keeping me from all sin and shame....wonderful is my Redeemer, praise His Name!"
3. A wonderful Sunday sermon...a powerful time of worship with brothers and sisters and a message that I carry through the week
4. The religious freedom that is still ours in this country...I am mindful of the suffering of so many others in other lands
5.The abundance of uplifting, godly music to fill my home as I go about my day

Lord, keep my heart focused on you and filled with praise.

The Cross We Bear

"And He said to all, If any person wills to come after Me, let him deny himself, [disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself] and take up his cross daily and follow Me, [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also]." Luke 9:23 Amplified Version

The following passage from my much-treasured devotional Joy and Strength stood out to me several years ago when I was having an especially hard time caring for my elderly father. He has suffered 2 strokes and was left with several disabilities. He has also been diagnosed with dementia. His behavior can be unbelievably bad at times, and his needs and demands can be quite overwhelming. I don't like to think of taking care of my Dad as a cross I have to bear. And yet, as a caregiver for an elderly parent, I have discovered that is indeed a difficult road to walk...for all who do so. I wrote these powerful words on an index card at the time, and carried it with me to meditate on as I walked:

"Your portion is to love, to be silent, to suffer, to sacrifice your inclinations, in order to fulfil the will of God, by moulding yourself to that of others. Happy indeed you are thus to bear a cross laid on you by God's own hands, in the order of His Providence. The discipline which we choose for ourselves does not destroy our self-love like that which God assigns us Himself each day. All we have to do is to give ourselves up to God day by day, without looking further. He carries us in His arms as a loving mother carries her child. In every need let us look with love and trust to our Heavenly Father." FRANCOIS DE LA FENELON (1651-1715)

Your cross may be different than mine, but nevertheless hard to bear. Take courage from these words, and consider how they agree with the words of Scripture:

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete,not lacking anything." James 1:2-4

"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love." I Peter 1:6-8

"Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind:" I Peter 4:1a (Emphasis mine)

One more good word from the same page:

"The loving heart which seeks to offer all, even disappointments and vexations which touch the tenderest places, to God, will be more likely to grow in generosity of spirit than one who bears grudgingly what cannot be averted." H. L. SIDNEY LEAR (1824-1896)

I find that this message speaks to me again prayer is that His will be worked in my heart, mind and attitude.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Value of a Good Knife

You know, it’s been said that knives are the most important tools in the kitchen…you use them more than you use your cookware or your range.

And I have to tell you…after 30 years of homemaking (which covers countless hours of peeling, cutting, chopping, mincing and slicing), these words are true.

When I was a young wife, I “fell prey” to a door-to-door salesman (actually my best friend gave him my name) and bought a couple sets of knives, some cooking utensils and a professional sharpening steel. I don’t remember how much it all cost, but I do remember having a payment plan.

At the time, I didn’t know “Kitchen Knives 101,” nor did I realize how valuable this purchase would turn out to be. You don't need to take out a loan to get a good knife or a good set, but I am grateful that I have these knives. So, without further ado, let me tell you why.

I think the first time I realized how fortunate I was to have a good set of knives was when I was helping a good friend prepare for a graduation open house. My job was to cut carrots…omigosh…after spending a couple of hours and getting very sore hands, I took the carrots home to cut them with my wonderful knives! To this day, I am grateful for a good set of knives. It just makes cooking prep so much easier and enjoyable. Not to mention time-saving.

I want to encourage any young wives (or even more experienced ladies) to purchase a good set of knives. Research and learn how to make a good choice and buy one good set that will last your lifetime.

My knives are Arrowhead and a bit expensive…but with some things, you get what you pay for. They came with a 50 year warranty, and I have never needed it. After 30 years, they are as strong and sturdy as they were in 1978. (Oh dear, am I that old??)

In fact, some have increased in value. I have this set of three: It is being marketed as “vintage” and “rare” from the ‘70’s and is priced at $399!! I certainly didn’t pay that much, but I still use them all the time.

I also bought this set of five knives:
The set includes (from the bottom of the photo up) a Ham and Bread Knife, French Chef’s knife, Butcher knife, Sandwich knife and Paring knife. I use every one of them at least once a week, except the Butcher knife. I use that less often than the rest. And the Chef's (French Cook) knife is used every day...sometimes several times a day. These are the types of knives I would recommend.

If you only want or can have one good knife, it would be the Chef’s knife. The Chef’s knife is the one knife that is long enough to carve and slice with, and heavy enough to cut up poultry. You can peel an onion; slice carrots and celery; cut just about anything; chop onions, herbs and other vegetables; mince garlic and more….and do it all with ease.

The next kitchen knife in importance, in my opinion, would be a good paring knife. Sometimes you just need a smaller, easy-to-handle knife for prepping the finer ingredients that go into a dish. After that would be a long thin-bladed knife that you can slice or carve with, sort of a much larger steak knife.

Please spend a few minutes learning how to safely use knives. It is well worth the time to learn simple safety measures. And, it’s important to remember that “a sharp knife is a safe knife.” A dull knife can hurt you badly.

It is also best to know how to choose a quality knife. All expensive ones are not created equal. You want to get what you pay for.

Here is a terrific short video that covers how to choose a good chef’s knife, how to safely use it and how to sharpen your prized possession!

One more thing…a good electric carving knife makes slicing turkey, ham and more so easy and enjoyable! Another great kitchen tool I’ve had for thirty years. Believe it or not, it was a bridal shower gift…what a blessing! And blessings to you!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Sentimental Moments

Today I am thankful for:

1. Memories....our ability to reminisce and re-live precious times of the past. Like this one of my son, now 27 years old, when he was only 11 months old. Look at that smile! God used that joyful smile and disposition to bring me through the darkest time of my life...his daddy had died only 2 months earlier. What a gift this little boy was..........and still is.
2. My little boy's little boy.....Riley is absolutely much like his father when he was a baby...the same charming personality and disarming smile. How good God is to allow us to experience a bit of the joy of creation...can you imagine His joy when Adam was created? And then Eve? And then Cain and Abel? And then...and then... Here is a shot of that bundle of joy and Terry in January:
3. My truly wonderful daughter-in-love (no, that's not a typo). For years I prayed that when my son married, that God would give me a daughter....He answered my prayers so magnificently. Windy is as beautiful inside as she is on the outside...and a terrific, godly wife and mother. She loves Eddie and Riley and makes a good, loving home for them. Thank you Lord! Windy and Riley ready for church on Sunday morning:
4. The raise my husband received on Friday. Jehovah Jireh, my Provider, His grace is sufficient for me...My God shall supply all my needs according to His riches in glory; He will give His angels charge over thee...Jehovah Jireh careth for me. Who remembers that dear old chorus? We humbly thank and praise Him.
5. The days of sunshine we enjoyed last week! Oh how sweet the air and green grass and clear skies are after so many rainy days.....