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.”

 

Teen Ranch Pizza

Thirteen hungry boys (if you count my husband as a boy) sat around the dark eight foot table in anticipation of dinner.

1974.teen ranch

Our first ranch family – minus one boy.

My husband and I were serving as house parents at Teen Ranch in Marlette, Michigan.

Ten ranch boys, our two sons and my husband John savored the aroma of fresh crust, oregano, tomato sauce, garlic, ground beef and pepperoni as they ate their salads.

It was my first attempt at making homemade pizza.  Sure I had used packaged mixes to make crust.  But this was really from scratch – yeast and all.  The dough rose and even smelled good at that stage.  Preparing enough pizzas for fourteen people was a challenge.  I doubled the recipe to make enough pizzas.

The recipe was obtained from a seasoned ranch cook.  Cindy Smith was so good to share her pizza recipe with me.  I scribbled the recipe down on a piece of paper and placed in my purse.  A few weeks later I tried to decipher the recipe that was crumpled up but survived that much time.   By the appearance and smell of the dough baking, it must be a success.

Two large pizzas were placed on the four foot lazy susan of the eight foot dark table and the guys began to move the turn table slowly (this was the rule) so that each boy would have his turn in sliding a piece of the delectable pie on his plate.

Jim was the first to dig in.  He took a large bite and said, “Yuk!”

I was shocked and said, “What’s wrong?”

He said, “It is sweet!”

Several more boys agreed with Jim’s verdict.  But they were so hungry, they ate their fill.

Sure enough the dough was sweet.  I checked my recipe again and found that I had used two tablespoons of sugar instead of two teaspoons of sugar.  Never made that mistake again.

Over the years, whole wheat flour was added to my pizza recipe to give it a different texture and also to be a little healthier.  Wish I had known that at the ranch – you just can’t eat as much of the whole wheat pizza – it is more filling.

While I learned to make pizza, bread and pies large enough for fourteen, the ranch boys learned to drink sweet tea, and eat southern – like pinto beans and cornbread.

This is one of the many memories that will be shared in our book Shekinah Lane to be published next year.  Our ten years at Teen Ranch were some of the most memorable and rewarding times of our lives.

Here’s the recipe for six pizzas (I doubled for the ranch, now half for us):

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Dissolve: 4 pkg. yeast in 1 c. warm water and 1 tsp. sugar

Mix together – 8 c. flour (I use plain flour and about 2-3 c. whole wheat flour), 2 c. water, 1 c. oil, and 2 tsp. salt

Add yeast mixture, knead (I knead in my Kitchen Aid Mixer), shape on pans or let rise:

The dough will be soft.  It is best to grease your hands with shortening and spread out to thickness you desire on cookie sheets, or pizza pans.  I also use Pampered Chef stones which makes a crisp crust.

You can use marinara sauce – I make my own with tomato sauce, garlic, oregano and other Italian spices.  Place sauce on pies, then mozzarella cheese, your choice of toppings and bake in very hot oven 450 – 500.

Enjoy!

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!”  

How to Temper Your Tone

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Was it necessary to speak to me in that tone?
“Not your wife, she is always so sweet,” my neighbor said.  My husband was teasing me about being difficult to please and demanding as our neighbor finished the installation of my new dishwasher.
 
I smiled as my neighbor left and wondered if my husband was thinking how his wife’s sweet words could turn sour at times.  Sad how we are so sweet to others and hurt the ones we love the most.  
On our way to the golf course the next morning my husband asked me to call someone for him as he drove.  Flustered with rushing to get ready, and trying to drink my breakfast shake, I blurted out, “Why do I have to do it now, can’t you wait until we get to town?”
 
He graciously responded, “Was it necessary to speak to me in that tone?”  What a wise man I have.  He could have fueled the fire by being as rude as I was.  But instead he spoke the truth in love.  And the truth hurts.  I’m so glad he loves me enough to confront me with my behavior.
 
Why is it so easy to temper our tone at work or at church and then allow our tone to turn sour at home and cause offense and hurt those closest to us.  Sometimes I think we get away with it and are not held accountable in a loving way by our spouse or whoever is in our home.  It takes someone being willing to tell us how we hurt them and suggest ways to improve our behavior.
 
My husband, a counselor by training, uses his skills and compassion with other family members as well.  It is never too late to confront. 
 
His mother (in her eighties) was very controlling and “ruled the roost” as the saying goes for many years.  His father (in his nineties) was a very kind, gracious man and allowed her to dominate him. 
 
His father was placed on antidepressant medication which made him aggressive. 
One day when she was sharp in talking to him, he replied gruffly and told her to leave him alone.  She was hurt and later told her counselor son “your father was so ugly to me today.” 
 
This gave my husband the opportunity to speak the truth in love to his mom.  No one ever talked to her about how unkind she was to her sweet man.  She struggled but submitted to allowing God to change her attitude and her words. 
 
Just a few months later, her last words as she collapsed in her son’s arms were, “Please let me go – I need to check on your father.”



 
I’m so thankful my husband did not wait to challenge me with my attitude and tone.   I pray God will help me to think before I speak.  Also may my words and attitude show my husband he is the most important person in my life, and I love him enough to allow him to confront me when I am unkind.


  •    Do we use a different tone when talking to our family than we use with clients,
    neighbors or friends?
  •    Are we quick to say hurtful things or be impatient with our loved ones?
  •    Are we willing to love enough to be confronted with our behavior and attitude?

 

Father please help us to be clothed with your compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience to the ones we love the most.
 
God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love.

 

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Much More Apples

It is apple season in our part of the country.  Many people flock to the mountains to purchase their favorite variety of apple.  Our favorite is pink lady.  They are a late crop and well worth waiting for.  The rosy pink color on the perfectly smooth surface covers a crisp, tart yet sweet delight.  It is truly the apple of our eye!

This year a friend shared the harvest from his orchard with us.  He has been busy remodeling his house and did not have time to prune and fertilize his trees.  But with our wet summer and sunny days his neglected orchard produced a bountiful crop of Granny Smith and Arkansas Black apples.  His apples were not without flaws and took more time to peel and prepare for cooking, but the taste was wonderful.

My house was filled with the delectable smell of applesauce and apple butter.
 
Cinnamony apple crisp also added to the aromas coming from my kitchen.
Although my friend’s apples were not as pleasing to the eye as those found in the commercial apple orchards, and the skin was sometimes tough and took more work to discover the “good stuff” inside, the result was the same. Wonderful applesauce, applebutter and apple crisp.
In my reading in Proverbs 7 today – Nov. 7 – (I read the Proverb that corresponds to the day of the month) Solomon encourages his son to “Guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.”
How do we guard God’s word as the apple of our eye?  Sometimes his word is beautiful and soothing to our soul and easy to understand.  Other times we have to dig to find the “good stuff.”
Lord help me to cherish your word and guard your teachings with delight just as I have enjoyed the products of the abundant apple harvest.  Help me be willing to dig and find the “good stuff.”
My son, keep my words
    and store up my commands within you.
Keep my commands and you will live;
    guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.
Bind them on your fingers;
    write them on the tablet of your heart