Fill in the Blanks

How many times have you heard people say “I wish I had asked my parents……………..”  You fill in the blanks.  Shekinah Lane is our story of those blank spaces.  We want future generations of our family and your family to realize that God can use us in our weakness if we dare to dwell in the secret place (the Shekinah glory) of the most High God. 

That glory is only found as we step out in faith, out of our comfort zone, and out of preconceived restrictions.  We experienced the freedom of serving God with people from various backgrounds as well as those who had no religious background to restrict their faith journey. 

 Join us for a book signing of Shekinah Lane

at Union County Library on Friday, May 19, 2:30 – 4:30 pm

 

 When we are young children we depend on our parents.  As teens we tolerate our parents.  Young adults depend on parents again to help with their children.  Midlife finds us busy with our teens – ball games, school activities, and before we know it – we are the grandparents.

Many times only in the later years of our lives do we start to reflect and wish we had spent more time talking to our parents and asking those questions to pass down to future generations.

My family a few years before my parents died.

My parents died in the midst of our sons’ teen age years.  My mother suffered a major heart attack and died a few hours after I arrived at the hospital.  Two years later my father died of lung cancer.  Since I was in that midlife time, I had not asked those questions about my parent’s lives to fill in those blanks.

 

John’s parents both lived long lives.  They moved close to us here in the north Georgia Mountains.  For eleven years we shared them with our sons and their families.

First great-grand child

Second great grand-child

Cha and Cam enjoyed their Mee maw and Great Pa paw

 

Having four generations interact was a delight.

 

 

We enjoyed the twinkle in Great Pa paw’s eye and the smile on Me maw’s face as he shared the story about their wedding night.  Every December 23 he disclosed, as if it was the first time he told it, about when he and Me maw were married and the house caught on fire.  We made them an anniversary DVD one year and the background music was Johnny Cash’s song “We got married in a Fever.”

Third great grand child (Mitchell) with hands raised.

Even though we shared many years with John’s parents, there are still some blanks.  We wish we could talk to them just once more and ask the lyrics to so many jingles that Great Pa paw loved to recite or his secrets for successful crappie fishing 

and also to ask Me maw about her faith journey, her visions, her determination to teach without a formal education.

Shekinah Lane is our attempt to complete many blanks for our children, grandchildren and future generations.  We want them to know the joys as well as the struggles we experienced in our lives.  Our spiritual journey is the train that drives all the adventure.

 Psalm 102:18Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord.

Dogwood Winter

Dogwood blooms

I failed to take the hint. Admiring the Dogwood blossoms on my way to church made me think they were a bit early. Don’t they usually bloom at Easter time? Easter is almost two weeks away. However, not having John’s folks to remind me I just admired the dogwoods and that was it.

It snowed on March 12 and then a week later it was summer time – well almost. Daffodils bloomed in late February and our Bradford Pear tree budded out as well. Tulips were beginning to pop up.

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This picture was taken prior to the March snow.

after.freeze

The day after the snow the blooms were burned from the cold.

Surveying the yard, I found a cluster of purple tulips. What a delight!
Thank you, God, for the promise of spring. How did these tulips burst in bloom when others have not even come out of ground? It is all in the timing, the angle of the sun, the protection of plants around them. You see these bulbs were surrounded by bushes that absorbed the frost. Also, they were exposed to the first rays of the sun to warm them as they struggled to shine. They were close to the house which provided shelter.

Lord help us to seek you as these tulips sought the sun. May we stay close to the protection and encouragement of others and stay under the shadow of the almighty.

Playing golf in 80-degree weather in March is unusual even in Georgia. Time to put away the winter clothes. After ten zillion trips down the basement stairs to the cedar closet and back up for another load I was exhausted. Contrary to my husband’s opinion, I do not have that many clothes or shoes. I just can’t carry much at a time. Sweaters, sweat pants and boots packed away. Must confess, I was so tired, didn’t finish putting up winter shoes and boots – they are still on table in closet waiting to be placed in boxes. But at least they are downstairs.

Yesterday, April 6,  the high temp was 45 degrees. It was then I realized – it is Dogwood Winter. My in laws were the prognosticators of seasons. They would have warned me not to put winter clothes away too soon. You need to wait until Dogwood Winter and of course Blackberry Winter. When the Dogwood trees bloom, it will turn cold and when the blackberries bloom even though many times in mid-May – we will get a cold spell. They did not need a weather app.

Just like us – we kind of stagnate in our mundane life, complaining about cold weather then we receive a few warm days, or even hot days, and we complain about the heat. So, it gets cold again. We just can’t be happy. What is going on? Does God really know?

Please don’t let my blueberries die when it possibly frosts tonight. They are loaded with blossoms.

John’s dad always said if the wind is blowing the frost won’t hurt the plants.  May it be so ! God sends the rain and snow to water the earth and cause it to bud and flourish. He knows what he is doing.

He also sends his word to us. It will not return to him void. Can he trust me to use his word to encourage, comfort and challenge those I encounter? Am I as concerned about sharing his love as I am about my flowers and garden?

Don’t forget Blackberry Winter is yet to come!

Isaiah 55:8-11 (New International Version)

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.


							

In-laws and Out-laws

nana-prisoner

Captured

Don’t call the nana police – this was just a fun time with my grandchildren playing. I was obviously the “bad guy” that got tied up.

“In-laws and out-laws, we all have them!” Words of wisdom from my father shortly after I was married. At the time, I did not comprehend the meaning. It seemed cruel to call your relatives out-laws.

I’m sure my daughter-in-law wanted to consider me an out-law when I rearranged her kitchen shelves while she and our son were on a trip. I love to organize and it seemed the thing to do. She did not agree. Another daughter-in law was not pleased with me when I cleaned out her flower beds. They were weeds weren’t they???? Both of our sons, said, “Mother, please don’t.” My husband said, “I told you so.” It is not easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission.

My cousin calls her in-laws by a different name. She refers to her son’s wife as her daughter-in-love. When I heard this the first time, I thought, “I want to be a mother-in-love to my girls.”

This time of year, you may relate to the term – out-laws. Some need to be handled with kid gloves and those who, let’s be honest, we’d like to tape their mouth and tie them up – just for a few minutes.

If you are fortunate to have family gather, don’t just be an in-law – please don’t be an out-law. Instead choose to be a

mother-in-love

father-in-love

brother-in-love

or a sister-in-love.

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Just so you know the grandchildren
above still love their Nana Pat and hopefully my daughter-in-loves consider me a mother-in-love – most of the time!

 

 

Romans 12:10 (NIV)

Be devoted to one another in love.  Honor one another above yourselves. 

How to Make Nana’s Sweet Pickles

cukes-lime

Soaking in Lime

Chopping cucumbers to make sweet pickles, I realized “when I am gone no one in the family will continue this tradition.” My husband’s mom canned her nine day sweet pickles and my husband and our sons could finish off a pint at a meal.

A lady in my husband’s first church made the best sweet pickles and gave me her recipe. When my mother-in-law came to visit I was anxious for her to try my pickles. She bite into a pickle and shrieked while squinting, “Whooooo, they are good.” Maybe a little too much spices or vinegar???

Over the years I fine-tuned the recipe and now each summer I make Mrs. Wages Lime Pickles to the delight of husband, sons and now grandson.

The next Sunday at lunch with my son and his family, I related my sentimental feeling about no one carrying on the tradition of making pickles.

My grandson  Cameron replied with no thought to missing me, “Nana, that is no problem. We can just look up the recipe on the internet!”

So, this prompted me to help my grandson find my recipes “on the internet.”

Mrs. Wages Lime Pickles

  • 7 lbs medium-size pickling cucumbers
  • 1 cup Mrs. Wages® Pickling Lime
  • 2 gal water
  • 2 qt Mrs. Wages® Pickling & Canning Vinegar or other commercial white vinegar (5% acidity)
  • 8 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Mrs. Wages® Pickling & Canning Salt
  • 1 Tbsp Mrs. Wages® Mixed Pickling Spice

Wash cucumbers. Remove 1/16 -inch from blossom end and slice crosswise. Mix pickling lime in water. Aluminum containers should not be used for the lime solution. Soak cucumbers for 12 hours or overnight in the lime water, stirring occasionally. Rinse 3 times in cool water and soak 3 more hours in ice water.

In a bowl, mix together vinegar, sugar, and salt until dissolved. Remove cucumbers from final ice water soak. Drain slices. Pour syrup over top. Let stand for 5 to 6 hours or overnight. Add pickling spice to taste.

Drain syrup off cucumber slices into a saucepan. Simmer for 35 minutes. Pack cucumber slices into hot quart jars. Pour boiling syrup over slices to cover and leaving 1/2 -inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust lids and process pints for 10 minutes and quarts for 15 minutes, using boiling water bath method. (I don’t process my jars – they seal fine if packed in hot sterilized jars and last for years.)

Finished product

Finished product

cam-banaimg_9541

 

So here you go Cameron, it’s on the internet.  I hope you find a wife one day who will make you some of Nana’s sweet pickles. It is truly a labor of love!

The Porch

View from my swing

View from my swing

A cup of green tea and my Bible accompany me to the swing on my screened-in porch.  The humid July day requires the ceiling fans to be pushing the small amount of cool air available for a few hours.  The furnishings remind me of people in our past who have blessed our lives and to pray for them.

The black wrought iron table and chairs were on my in-law’s porch the 11 years they lived near us – just off Shekinah Lane.  The overflow of relatives sat at this table for many family gatherings.  So this set reminds me to pray for family.  Also, on the table is a twig man made by talented neighbor – bless her Lord.

Warning sign

Warning sign

The “Do not Pee from the Porch” sign brings a chuckle of a Sunday School class Christmas party.  The sign was transferred around through a White Elephant game.  We won it.  Dear friends sharing the celebration of Christmas with fun times. Bless them Lord. Also, my grandson who the sign applied to when he was younger.

A wood plant stand was made by a boy at Teen Ranch in Michigan causing memories of our “boys” who are now men –  praying the short time they lived at the ranch they were exposed to the Gospel in flesh patterned by staff who loved them in the Lord.

A plaque from my daughter-in-law encourages “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” She is going through a time of physical pain and can use this thought and my prayers.

Plants thriving in the heat of summer – one from former co-worker, another a gift from a neighbor when my husband had surgery.  These plants have grown, been divided and are flourishing.  May my prayers increase the blessings for my friends.

Tall table for a view

Tall table for a view

A tall table and three chairs make our mountain view easier to see – a gift from neighbors who are struggling now with major surgery.  Please heal and restore Lord.

Wicker chairs from a new friend look so elegant on our porch.  Bless my friend as she helps me finish my book, Shekinah Lane, to be printed soon.

Welcome wicker

Welcome wicker

Can’t help but think of my economical husband who did not want me to purchase furniture for the porch.  Did he know, or did God know that I needed these gifts to help me appreciate family and friends, and pray for them in my quiet time on the porch?

Zephaniah 3:17 New King James Version (NKJV)

17 The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”

 

Why did I agree to make a dessert?

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Culinary masterpieces flashed on the TV screen in the foyer of the church of cakes from last year’s dessert auction to benefit our church camp for children, Canal Lake Bible Camp.  Just before Sunday School, our resident baker, Rodney, showed me a picture on his phone of his wife’s lemon cake made for the auction for this year.  It was drop dead gorgeous. 20160214_170545

 

He described the icing and the filling between each layer.

He also proclaimed there was already a bid of $250 for Glenda’s cake.

Rodney also shared a picture of his cake made for the event which was equally stunning.

Rodney's cake

Rodney’s cake

Why did I agree to make a dessert?  I don’t bake beautiful cakes.  Sure they taste good and my family thinks I make the best carrot cake ever but they did not need another carrot cake for the auction so I agreed to make a cheese cake.

Returning home after church, I opened the frig to check on my blueberry topping for the cheesecake I prepared for the auction.  Cooked the night before, it was not very firm but tasted so good and would surely get thicker when cooled and would hopefully make my cheesecake at least look edible.

The blueberry topping had not thickened.

After lunch, my husband noticed that I seemed a little down.  I told him, “I just don’t feel good enough. I missed a few words in choir today, I’m overweight and what did they talk about in Sunday School but fasting!”

He just sat there and did not say a word.

“Well, tell me what to do.  Why do I feel so insecure and inadequate?  And, oh yeah my blueberry topping is not thick.  What will I do?  There is only a little time before the auction tonight.  Oh, well my lasagna will be good for the potluck.”

You know the feeling or the disease we women have– the compare and compete syndrome.  We just don’t every seem to measure up to her or in this matter him………………..whatever!

Thankfully there were more blueberries in the freezer to repair my syrup.  Nicely thickened the blueberry topping was placed on my cheesecake and we headed out for the potluck dinner at church with dessert auction to follow.

Our learner’s permit grandson, Cameron, drove to church with his Papaw John sitting beside him.  I sat in the back holding my dessert hoping it would make the trip.  Cameron’s friend Bryan helped me when we went around some curves and I had to balance the plate.

When we arrived John and Cameron took the lasagna dish to the pot luck table.  Bryan went with me to the church kitchen to help me remove the spring form ring from the pan.

The glass serving dish was prepared with white valentine shaped hearts and I proceeded to transfer the cheese cake.

“Oh, no, how do I remove the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake?” I asked as Bryan looked puzzled.

It had to be done, I lifted the cheesecake and Bryan pulled the parchment paper out and just as the transfer was almost complete the cake split in half in my hands.  I pushed it onto the plate and pressed it together.  “Oh well, it will taste good even if it doesn’t look that great.”

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The split blueberry cheesecake

Walking into the gathering with the good side of the cheesecake showing, I placed it on the nearest table among the works of art wishing no one would know it was mine.  Then don’t you know someone placed a little card on it with my name!

The pot luck was delicious as usual.  Pastor Jeff and his wife Sarah shared some highlights of camp last year and how many children were impacted with the Gospel.

Our congregation enjoys participating in the auction.  Several people pool their funds and bid on their favorite dessert.  The first few bids were for “pick your own cake.”  The bids soared to $850.

Our table chose the next “pick your own cake” and won the bid.  We selected the delectable lemon cake made by Rodney’s wife.  It tasted as good as it looked.

 

Glenda's Cake

Glenda’s Cake

Then the moment of truth – as I sliced the lemon cake our table purchased for $500 –  I heard, “This classic cheesecake made by Pat Strickland – who will give $50?”

My husband looked at me and saw my desperation, “please bid on my cheesecake.”

He bid $50 and amazingly the bids proceeded and it was sold for $250.  Yes, I was not a complete failure.

And don’t you know my thought was, “Someone heard me complaining that my cheesecake split in half when I placed it on the serving plate.  They felt sorry for me and purchased it.”

We just can’t quit can we!  Praise the Lord my feeble efforts to prepare a dessert presentable enough to earn money for the camp succeeded in raising a good donation.

The total raised that night was over $12,000.  Thanks to the generosity of our congregation and the fundraising of youth our church camp is offered to children free of charge.

Lord, please help me to be thankful for the success of the event and not compare my efforts to that of others.

 

2 Corinthians 8:12New International Version (NIV)

12 For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.

 2 Corinthians 10:12New International Version (NIV)

12 We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.

New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

What is Beautiful?

jo.mantle

Ms. Pat, your house is so beautiful. 

People who don’t have kids have beautiful houses. 

Our house is not pretty” Jada said.

I responded, “Well you should have seen my house when our boys were your age we had toys and shoes and stuff all around and it was not beautiful.”

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I thought of my house a few weeks ago with the pantry stuff all over the living room. That was not beautiful.

Out of the mouths of babes!  This precious seven year old observed the lack of toys and kid stuff and saw beauty.

The beauty I saw was the love and security this little girl and her sister were experiencing in their Grammy and Pappy’s home.  The girls came to live with their grandparents several years ago because of their parents’ problems.

Each February we have a reunion gathering of friends from a Bible Study group.   Seven years ago, Jerry and Lois brought their three month old grandbaby Jada and her five year old sister Natalie to the gathering.

Over the years we have watched the girls grow not only physically and socially but also spiritually.   We observe them at church sitting with their Pappy as their Grammy sings in the choir.

 That is true beauty to sacrifice your lives for others.

Now Jerry and Lois have custody of the girls
and are blessed to be raising them in a godly home.

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Jerry & Lois with Jada (sitting)
My husband John and I ( standing)

I love to have nice things and am privileged to have friends who help me decorate my home.   (Thanks Jo!)

However, there is nothing as beautiful as a child who feels loved and secure and knows that God loves them.

Prayer:  Lord please help me to sacrifice myself for others and spread your beauty to those in need of love.

A Living Sacrifice
Romans 12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Ecc. 3:11 – He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. –
Isaiah 52:7 
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”