On Eagle's Wings

On Eagle's Wings
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:29-31


Monday, December 9, 2013

Doo, Doo, Doo, Lookin' Out My Back Door

Well, not really my back door, but my upstairs back windows.
Beautiful foggy morning Monday of last week.


 Took a walk around the neighborhood on Wednesday.

Blue skies and sunshine with temps reaching close to 80.
The weather forecast said we might get some sleet so I wanted to
take the opportunity to enjoy a last look at Fall here in Texas.

Might get some sleet?
Next day!

View from the same window. Ice on the screens.

Ice storm!

This is NOT fluffy snow - it is about three inches of solid ice. Very slick.

The yard men had come last Tuesday to trim all our shrubs so
everything is hacked down.
No, there aren't any giants doin' cartwheels ...
the only happy creatures I've seen dancin' on the lawn
have been the little cotton tail bunnies.
Asparagus fern sparkles with the ice

Cattails coated with ice behind the fence

Frozen berries

We have been holed up in the house since last Wednesday night.
I'm so thankful that we stocked up on groceries
and water that day.
I went to Wednesday night services.
We have heat and electricity in our house
and plenty of food.
We are fortunate.
The only stressful thing I have had to deal with is my dog, Trudy.

She is old and feeble and doesn't understand the world of freezing slip 'n slide.
She paces through the house and goes to the back door.
Once outside, she stands and shivers all over wanting back inside.
I stay with her to see that she does her business. So frustrating to
think that she might break her leg or hip when she slips and falls.
She then surprises me by meandering all over the back yard,
stopping to lick the ice, moves on, sniffs, then returns to the back door
without having done anything and yet expecting a treat.
I pick her up and carry her to a small area where there is no ice.
Then I carry her to the front yard so she can sniff where other dogs have been.
I walk to the mailbox so she can stop by the fire hydrant.
I'm concerned for her.
My DH is deeply concerned for me ... he thinks I'm just a little
over-the-top nutty fretting over the dog.
Inside the house is another story. A leak in our upstairs bathroom.
The day it was discovered, an emergency crew came out that afternoon
to jack hammer, and dig their way through to the sub-floor.
They worked until 11:30 p.m. that night and
set up a huge fan to dry it out over the weekend.
Except for the tub,
the whole bathroom has been ripped out.
Fifteen days later, we are waiting for repairs to be done.
This place is zipped up tight. Still.
Holidays, health issues, and other things try to disturb my peace,
but, as I look out my window, I am very aware there are people
around the world who are not so blessed to have the kind of stress we have.

So I made chocolate pie.

1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa
dash of salt
4 egg yolks
2 cups milk
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 baked 9-inch pastry shell
meringue (optional - no meringue for me, please)
Combine first 4 ingredients in a large heavy saucepan; set aside
Combine egg yolks and milk; stir into sugar mixture. add butter.
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. remove from heat. stir in vanilla. spoon into pastry shell. (We prefer to top the pie with whipped cream)
If you like meringue:
Spread meringue over hot filling, sealing to edge of pastry. Bake at 325 for 25 to 28 minutes - this extra baking step isn't necessary if you don't top the pie with meringue.
4 to 6 egg whites
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Beat egg whites and cream of tartar at high speed with an electric mixer just until foamy
gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form and sugar dissolves (2 to 4 minutes). Add vanilla, beating well. 
Today ... I'm baking chocolate Coca-Cola Cake. The recipe can be found here.
I remember my Mom baking a cake very similar to this that she called Sheet Cake.
My tip on this cake? It took about 30 minutes to bake rather than 20-25, and do NOT add all 6 tablespoons of milk to the icing - it's too thin. I also added pecans.

This afternoon we ventured out and DH drove me to the grocery store. (Earlier in the day I tried to back the car out myself and all the tires were spinning like crazy. Needless to say, I didn't go anywhere.) But yay, the ice is finally melting and the roads are better. The grocery store was packed out and a lot of the items on my list will just have to wait until our next trip ... empty shelves. We take so much for granted here in the land of plenty with innumerable choices.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Wednesday Hodgepodge

More fun this Wednesday from our friend Joyce From This Side of the Pond with the:

Here are my answers to this week's Whistling While You Hodgepodge. You can answer the questions on your own blog then link with Joyce and the others to read everybody else's answers and make new friends.

1. According to Oxford Dictionaries, the 2013 word of the year is 'selfie'. Your thoughts? When did you last take a selfie? Do you post them online somewhere?  Do you prefer to be in front of the camera or behind the lens?

I think it's a good way to record a haircut that I'm pleased with. (I will spare you that.) I also think its fun to take them with the grand kids because if I wait for Grandpa to take pics, it probably won't happen. I do get tired of seeing people who constantly take selfies and post them online, always changing their FB pic. Here are my most recent selfies. First two were Kate's idea.

Second one Jack and I were being silly - he was watching himself in the phone licking his sock!!!! Ewww.
I would rather take pictures of others and probably take too many.

2. Will you send out Christmas cards this year? If so, are they ready to go? If not, are you glad or sad about leaving that tradition behind?

No. I wish I were. I love Christmas cards with the message of Jesus. Here is one of my favorites.

"We are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs--
heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ ..."
Romans 8:16, 17

Not only do I not have cards to send, but my old faithful address book has disappeared and I am going to have to reconstruct it ... some other time. It makes me sad because I have always enjoyed the Christmas card tradition, even as a child I would address the envelopes for my Mom. And I love reading updates from my friends far away about their lives.

3. Do you trust easily?
I think so. Although I can be skeptical.

4. Pine-cinnamon-peppermint-vanilla (as in sugar cookie)...of those listed, which one is your favorite December scent?

Pine scent which reminds me of getting a real Christmas tree and how the fresh smell of Christmas permeated throughout our little home when we were kids.

5. Did you do more talking or more listening yesterday?

I was involved in an equal exchange of unloading.

Was that by choice or necessity?

It was a complete surprise, but we both needed to talk. So I guess it was necessity.

6. What's the last song that got stuck in your head? Sorry if it's back there now :  )

I need You, Lord, I need you.

7. Which world explorer (in the whole history of the world) would you most like to have traveled with, and why?

Although I honestly don't think it would have been my desire to travel with any of the famous world explorers because life would have been too rough, dangerous, too much walking, etc., I think travel with David Livingstone would have been the most interesting and rewarding of all - from both the physical and spiritual aspects. What an adventure to be with a missionary/doctor who had such a heart for the African people and also be the first European to see the Victoria Falls.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

My random thought today has to do with the fact that DH and I have been caught up in the simple pleasure of watching British dramas together. (A box of tissue is always readily handy as tears come easily to both of us ... I do think he is much worse, though.) Our source of entertainment each evening has been wrapped up in the lives of the characters at Downton Abbey, Lark Rise to Candleford, The Forsyte Saga, Foyle's War, Call the Midwife, Charles Dickens' stories, and many others. When I awakened this morning, I told him, "you know you have been watching too many BBC productions when the people in your dreams are speaking with a British accent."


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Story for National Adoption Month

If it hadn't been for Facebook and blogs, I wouldn't have been aware that November is National Adoption Month. And today being Susan's birthday, I want to re-share a story about adoption of which I am especially partial.

Yes, there is an adoption story in our family. My sis-in-love, Susan, was born in Germany and adopted by an American serviceman and his German wife, Ruth, while he was stationed in Germany. After his service in the U.S. Army, he brought his little family to America to live, and Susan grew up, fell in love with, and married my wonderful brother, Phil. (He took one look at her at the Mexican restaurant where they were both working and told his buddies that she was the girl he would marry.)

They still look great after 39 years!

Eight years of marriage passed before the very surprising, unexpected and joyous news came one day that they would have a child. Their son, Chase, was born in May of 1985, and only a few months after this great gift, other very surprising, unexpected and disheartening news came their way. My brother was diagnosed with a very rare form of lymphoma. This news followed on the heels of our Mother suffering from leukemia, and me still mourning the death of my husband. A group of menacing dark clouds seemed to hang over all of us for a very long while as both Mother and Phil went through chemotherapy and radiation treatments. For Phil and Susan, their son Chase was a light for them both as they went through that darkness.

Having previously shared the story of my brother's bone marrow transplant and my mother's death which occurred within the same month in 1987 right here about Second Chances, I am doing a quick fast forward into the year 1995 (or thereabouts). 

My brother recovered from his lymphoma and he and Susan doted on their son like crazy as he grew up. Now it just happened (as it does when it's in God's hand) that while at football practice one day, Susan noticed one of Chase's little friends in need of someone to take him to and from practice. As Susan continued to provide those rides for him, she got to know him, and it was quickly apparent that Billy came from a troubled and impoverished background. As Chase and Billy became close buddies, Phil and Susan took him under their wings to love him unconditionally, and share their home and hearts with him. They encouraged him in his education, his sports activities, and above all, his faith in Jesus. The time came eventually when Billy moved in with them and became their son by heart - not legalities. (If you are familiar with the movie The Blind Side, you will recognize the close similarities!)

Chase and Billy shared the love of sports and played football during their high school years for Union High School in Tulsa. They were players on the team that beat whipped the toughest team in town their senior year and went on to state, winning the championship. (I froze my backside off the night we watched them play and win. What an exciting time it was for them.)

Upon graduation from high school, they went separate ways to college. Chase's dream since first grade had always been to be in the Army and his parents begged him, insisted, that college must come first. After his acceptance into West Point and playing football for the Army, seeing him graduate from that honorable school was probably one of the proudest moments of Phil and Susan's life! We were fortunate and blessed to have watched him play for Army and attend his graduation at West Point. He has since graduated as an Army Ranger and gone on to Special Forces, serving twice in the Middle East.

My brother encouraged and guided Billy with his practical wisdom, and Susan helped him do everything necessary to enter the state university. After his enrollment, Billy did a "walk-on" gaining a place on the football team. Even greater than that though, Billy not only excelled in school and football, but he was a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and traveled around to high schools, giving his testimony about his faith! How awesome is that?

What greater joy could have been brought to my brother and his wife than to know they had guided this young man in the path that the Lord had made for him before he was ever born!!

After graduating from college, Billy followed in the steps of his brother, Chase, and joined the U.S. Army. We had the privilege of seeing him graduate as Lieutenant in Fort Benning, Georgia.

We have come to know and love Billy. He has a heart for kids, his faith is strong, he always has a smile, and lots of silly words for us.

So, when he met this lovely young lady in college through the Fellowship of Christian Athletes,

all of us were happy and rejoiced with them as we saw their love expressed in the exchange of their vows at their beautiful wedding!

And then later with the birth of their two sweet children.

My little blog story merely presents the highlights of some of the amazing things that happened in my dear sis-in-law's life after her birth mom had gone through the painful experience of giving her up and placing her for adoption. Only God knows the details of all that and what Susan's life may have been had she remained in Germany. And since He never makes mistakes, what I believe with all my heart is that God placed her where He did for a purpose not only to lavish His love on her, but to enrich the lives of others. She had a heart of love, not only to share with my brother and their son, but arms wide enough to reach out to love Billy and make him part of her family, too.

Wednesday Thanksgiving Hodgepodge

Especially thankful this week for all the blessings we enjoy.
Here are my answers to this week's Happily Settling in the Hodgepodge from Joyce at From This Side of the Pond. You can answer the questions on your own blog then link with Joyce and the others to read everybody else's answers. 

1. Are you settling for something?

I'm very content with what I have. The only thing I can think that might be considered "settling" would be to remain in our current home. I would like very much to move into a smaller one story house, but DH isn't ready for that, so I am "settling" for now and trusting we will move at just the right time.

2.  It wasn't that long ago almost every store in the US locked doors and turned out lights on Thanksgiving Day. This year many will be open all day Thursday, giving shoppers a jump start on 'Black Friday'. In your opinion is this a good thing or a not so good thing? Will you be shopping on Thanksgiving Day?

I won't be shopping over this Thanksgiving weekend. My heart goes out to the people who have to work on holidays. It is the norm for people in service: fire department, policeman, nurses, hospitals, restaurants, etc. I guess retailers think what they have to offer is a service to the shopping public.

Speaking for myself, I don't think it is a good thing. And yet, I wonder, is it a good thing for the economy? But really, it is only one day set aside to just be thankful. What a great idea! I wonder whether, even if the malls are closed, are people really giving thanks? Or is it just about turkey and football?

3. Speaking of shopping... I saw a recent article on the twelve best shopping cities in the world. In order they are-New York, Tokyo, London, Kuala Lumpur, Paris, Hong Kong, Buenos Aires, Vienna, Dubai, Madrid, Milan, and Seoul.  Ever shopped in any of the cities listed? In which city would you most like to pull out the plastic or cold hard cash?

I have shopped in New York, London, Vienna and Paris. In each city, we used credit cards and, usually, my shopping is limited to some kind of memorable and usually useful souvenir. The only time we really used cash would be for street vendors, ice cream, that type of thing.

4.  When did you last dine by candlelight?

I can't remember!! I may have to set the table tonight with candles! :-)

5. What do you have too much of?

Odds and ends around the house. Stuff.

6. The Hunger Games...are you a fan?  Did you read the book(s)?  Will you/have you seen the movie?  Will you/have you seen Catching Fire?  No spoilers please!

I haven't read any of the books and don't plan to see the movies.

7. Share your plans for Thanksgiving Day. The who, the where, the what...especially the what! As in what's for dinner?  If you're one of my International visitors, whose homeland doesn't celebrate American Thanksgiving (the whole world doesn't, ya know!), then still tell us your plans for Thursday.

We will be spending Thanksgiving in Tulsa, Oklahoma with my sister and her family. My husband and I will drive 5 hours on Thanksgiving morning arriving in time for dinner, followed by a time of catching up, nap, leftovers, stay the night and leave early Friday morning. We will stuff ourselves with turkey, stuffing, gravy, broccoli casserole, cranberry sauce, asparagus, kale salad, deviled eggs, pies and cake. I have high hopes for mashed potatoes to be on the menu!

8. Insert your own random thought.

I just realized from Joyce's answers about food that sweet potatoes and corn pudding are not on the menu. :-( Guess I will have to settle and be thankful for what I get!!! :-) YES! I can do that.

Truly, my own random thought now is that holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas seem to divide sometimes as we get older. Everybody is expanding and it isn't always possible to spend holidays with all the people we love.

Thank you for the Hodgepodge questions. I wasn't expecting to see them during Thanksgiving week. I look forward to reading everyone's answers.

Happy Thanksgiving and I hope your family makes it in.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Betcha' Can't Top this One!!!

Having been married to someone who has been a firefighter for the past 37 years, I know fairly well about the great camaraderie they share. They love to tell stories, have been known to exaggerate just a tad, and anybody who has a tale to tell knows there will always, always be somebody else who will top that one and tell yet another one even better.

So the telling of my story of meeting up with fellow blogger and her Mister, has been made easy, because your sweet friend and mine, (better known as Sweet Tea), has already told it delightfully right here.

I can't top her telling of the tale! She does have a way with words, doesn't she? Her creative blog posts always keep it real, leave me smiling, and her comments to other bloggers are thoughtful and encouraging.

Although there may be negative things to be said for the space-age technology in this age, I think we would all agree that one of the greatest positives is how it has enabled us to re-connect with people we haven't seen for years or otherwise might not have connected with.

The meeting place we chose was The Potpourri House in Tyler, Texas ..."an experience of southern hospitality and comfort"--perfect for a meeting with this warm and friendly couple.  We had never before sat down at table together, but there was no lack of conversation and laughter. My DH and I went away grateful that we had taken the time to make this happen and wishing there had been more time to visit.  (Why are we all so BUSY these days?)

Are they adorable or what???
As my DH always says, "Ain't love grand?"
These two radiate love and they should know all about it!
It has stood the test of time.
Her parting comments, and mine as well are: when you have an opportunity to do something like this, go ahead and do it. Now is the right time to enjoy the people we love, to make new friends, or renew old friendships. Perfect timing ... perfect day.
We had such a good time.
Thank you.

Muddy Puddles

Peppa Pig and her little brother, George, love to play in muddy puddles.

Photo credit
Kate and Jack both love this show,
but I think it's Jack who takes it very serious.

Here's Jack showing us the four easy steps involved
in making your own fun, muddy puddle.

Step 1:
Grab the hose when Mom steps away
for just a minute.

Step 2:
Let it rise.
Step 3:
So proud of his muddy puddle

Step 4:
Look, Ma! Muddy hands

"But hey, I clean up real good!"

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Big Leg Brady and Happy Feet Noah

This past weekend we hit the road to enjoy a play date with two of our favorite boys.

A phone call early on the day we left was from Noah excitedly asking us to please, please pick them up at school that day. We made sure to arrive in time to do just that! The joy of seeing their faces light up when they see us is something that will always tug on my heartstrings. We went straight to the cinema 8 to take in the movie they had so looked forward to: Monsters University! Loaded up with Slurpees, popcorn, and candy (bad Nonnie), we sat through the world of some silly monsters working hard on their techniques to scare helpless little children. What a plot for a kid movie! Crazy.

After that we went home to play and be with the boys while Mom and Dad went out for an evening alone in celebration of their anniversary. It's hard to believe it's been 11 years since their wedding.

We knew they would be and have a beautiful family.
But who knew their kids would be so much fun, smart, talented, etc.??
(I'm sorry - I just can't help myself.)

We watched the boys practice their soccer moves on the driveway.

Every time they miss an opportunity to score or block,
the discipline is to get down on the ground for some push ups!

So cute!
Love these two.
Usually when we visit them, a big treat for them each morning
is for Papa to go out for donuts.
However, while they are "in training" and playing sports,
Daddy has them eating a more healthy breakfast.
(They did manage to have a couple of donut holes after breakfast.)
We watched their team, Cool Runnings, play soccer on Saturday morning.
"Big Leg" Brady scored 5 points.
"Happy Feet" Noah scored 1 for the team.
(The nicknames were given by the coach!)
All of the boys played great and Cool Runnings hasn't lost a game this season.
(I was very impressed that parents on both teams displayed
great sportsmanship from the sidelines.)

By the way, the kids were excited to tell us the good news.
There will be a new addition to their family!


His name is Porter. :-)