Monday, 26 November 2012

More from the kitchen...

       Life has been a little busy since the first of November...and it's about to get busier.  

Many a year have I walked with My Jesus.  Over and again the principle I've experienced is, the more time I spend with Jesus, meditating on His word, the more I seem to accomplish and the less tired I am in body and mind.  

2011 Christmas Ginger Bread House
On 17th November, St. Mary's Langley held thier annual Christmas Fayre.  Last year I contributed a Gingerbread house.  People were surprised by it, and there were lots of compliments.  The children wanted to eat it.  People paid to "Guess the weight."  The winner, a lovely retired grandmother, gave the edible house away to a young Mum with five children.  Her generosity touched my heart.  

With last year's gingerbread being a hit, I was asked if I would be willing to make gingerbread men this year.  I dug out the recipe, which I found on the internet. 

A Gingerbread Man Army
For a gingerbread house, most people use a paper template and use a dinner knife to cut out the gingerbread.  For gingerbread men a cutter is needed.  I had a tiny one, and I didn't think I wanted to do that much work.  By searching on the internet, I found what I wanted at Robert Dyas  The desired item is a six inch long gingerbread man cutter.  My Darling Husband, aka "The Maverick," was kind enough to go into town and buy it for me whilst I was at work.  A big thank you goes to him.  The batch of dough made 48 gingerbread men, plus scraps.   

I am going to have to find an icing recipe I can use with liquid food colouring, as the liquid makes the royal icing runny.  It also takes longer to set.  Even adding more icing/powdered surgar doesn't make the continuity of the icing stiff enough.  But everyone at the Fayre was very happy with the result and they nearly sold out!  
Notice the steam coming off the loaf?  Its just out of the oven

For my birthday, "The Maverick" kindly went down to the local chippy and bought me fish and chips.  We had discussed going out for dinner, but I was tired after my sewing class and didn't feel like going back out again.  Especially since I had an infection in both ears.  Thankfully it wasn't an inner ear infection.    But on Tuesday, I decided I would cook something a bit different for dinner.  Ingredients:  Fish and potatoes.  Result:  A tuna Loaf with Roast potatoes.   It was a nice twist on a familiar meal.  The recipe is in a Good Housekeeping Cookbook.  If anyone wants the recipe, send me an e-mail and I'll send it.  
We nine with the birthday (fruit) cake.

Early in November, "Jon-David" came over with his family to help us celebrate birthdays: "The Maverick's" is 22 October, mine 19th November.  So on 6th November, I cooked a nice chicken dinner, share with "The Aussie Family"  and "The Colnbrook Crew".   From the expressions on our faces here, we had a grand time.  When "Techphil", "Jon-David" and "The Maverick" get together, teasing and laugther are guarenteed to happen.  And so it was on 6th November.

Okay...this blog isn't going in chronological order.  I'd originally intended to post a couple of photos for the night, with little or no text.  But, hey, once I get started, I just can't help myself!  :-)
Cake before cutting

However, 6th November is related to the next photo.  "Jon-David" brought over a big bag of apples from his dad.  They were lovely, large cooking apples.  I immediately made a crumble--even though we still had birthday cake. 

     With so much going on, the bag of apples sat in the corner, waiting patiently until I could pay them attention.  This past Sunday I had to cook the other apples before they went off.  So I peeled them and got out another recipe.  I used two big ones for this cake:   
After cutting.
Instead of putting the apple in the middle, I made it like an upside down cake.  

If it seems like I'm doing more baking, then you would be right.  And why?  Because although we keep the heat turned down, baking is a great reason to fire up the oven and stay warm in the kitchen.  :-)  And my husband likes it when I bake.  Tomorrow Flapjack is on the docket. 

This evening I prepared two cottage pies for tomorrow's Alpha Course.  I have applesauce from Sunday's cooking; that will be used in a cake for tomorrow night's dessert.  

So, now that's I've stimulated your appetites, I'll sign off for now.  

Serving Jesus, Author of our faith,
"Lady Helene"   

Sunday, 11 November 2012

My Story from "Floss's & Harry's" Wedding

It has happened more than once.  What, one asks?  I sit down to write one thing for my blog and end up writing something else.  It’s now middle of the afternoon (16:11) and I finally got the first post of about 750 words posted.  Gee whizzz!  What took me so long? 
First, check the e-mails.  Then I got side-tracked with following up something on Facebook; followed by a delightful short chat (also) on FB .  I suddenly got hungry and developed a pounding headache.  So I took a short break to take some aspirin and let the head-ache fad away.  Four layers of clothing later, so that I’m not too cold to write, and having turned on the heating, I have set my mind to the task.
Back-side firmly planted in chair, and gritted determination to write “The Wedding Post.”
Front of Wedding Card
Friday, 2nd November was blessed by bright blue, cloudless skies.  “The Maverick” and I smiled with thanksgiving to God, as we had prayed for clear and beautiful weather for the day.  I went to the shower and “The Maverick” and “Bellman” went to the shops to buy black shoe polish.   
After my shower, I spent about 90 minutes creating a card for “Floss & Harry.”  We wanted to give them a specially created card to commemorate the day.
I'd been out of the shower for a while when "The Maverick" and "Bellman" returned from the shopping trip.  "Bellman" received instruction in the fine art of shoe-shining, whilst Grandad got busy looking for his tuxedo.  
About noon-time, "Mr Biz" came with his other four boys.  Besides delivering "Bellman's" wedding clothes, "Mr. Biz" had charge of "Jame-oh", "Beau" and "Cookie."  The younger ones were already dressed, so they just needed to keep clean whilst waiting to leave for the church. 
So, by 12:30 pm, we were all dressed and ready to go to the church.  The wedding was scheduled to begin at 2:00 pm (14:00 hrs) and we were in the church by 1:15 pm (13.15).  In the fourth row from the front, I shared the pew with “Beau”, “Bellman” and “Cookie”. 
Earlier in the week, I’d shared with “Bellman” an experience of learning to meditate.  It was the early 1980’s and I was standing in the post office, waiting for my turn to buy stamps.  Mentally, I was slowly repeating John 16:27:  “For the Father Himself [tenderly] loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came out from the Father.”  As I rolled these words around in my mind, changing the emphasis on each word as I did so, suddenly, my heart was filled with absolute assurance, belonging and love by Father God. 
Meditation on the days of “Floss’s” wedding, would have served me well.  Don’t ever think that satan sees a church and says, “Not allowed in there!”  He sneaks right in and waits to pounce on any vulnerable moments.  Had I been diligent to ground myself in God’s love early in the day, it is highly likely that I would have instantly responded differently when he attacked.
Daughter "Floss" with Father
The organist began playing Wagner’s Bridal Chorus.  Her hand snugly inside the crook of “Maverick’s” elbow, “Floss” floated down the aisle, looking like the princess she is; both father and daughter had misty eyes, filled with strong emotion.  After the vicar’s warm welcome we sang “Lord of the Dance”. 
Reverend Saunders led “Harry” and “Floss” through the exchanging of vows and rings.  I stood in the third row, viewing my beautiful step-daughters, Father-of-the-Bride, and Mother-of-the-Bride, strange emotions overwhelmed me.  Satan threw a bucket of negative thoughts my direction:  “You have no place here; you didn’t birth these daughters.”  “You don’t belong.” 
Suddenly hatred of my own barrenness, jealously of “Maverick’s” ex-wife, resentment came rushing at me like a wave from Hurricane Sandy.  Caught with my emotional and spiritual shield down, I got carried away. 
When orphans are adopted, they go through a time of wanting to deny "sonship" and access to parents by birth children and/or other previously adopted children.  They want to claim the new parents totally to themselves.  (I’m sure there is a counselling term for this, but I have no idea what it is.)  My emotions mirrored this feeling; I wanted to push “The Maverick’s” ex-wife out of the church and pull the three lovely young women into my arms, yelling, “These are MY daughters, not yours.”
These emotions numbed my mind, and I couldn’t seem to let go of them.  I needed to talk to my husband. 
Yet, a motherly awareness wrestled against the tide of Satan’s tactical lies.  As the bride and groom took their vows, and I watched “Lacy” and “Walley”, I saw tears spilling down their cheeks; love gushing as they watched their baby-sister married.  Quickly I picked up my bag, rummaged around and pulled out a packet of tissues.  I passed them forward and the girls damped away the potentially make-up damaging tears.  After a few minutes, they mimed back their thanks.
Reverend Saunders’s message to the congregation and the bridal couple began with a joke.  That broke the tension inside me and I listened as he talked of the importance the church—Christ’s body—supporting marriage and family. 
After more traditional wedding music, ie. Jerusalem and  Recessional-Wedding March, we left the wooden pews and found our way outside. 
Once outside, my heart still felt bruised.  Prayers lifted up to My Heavenly Father.  “God, these are simply emotions—hate, anger, frustration, jealously.  I don’t want anything to keep me from Your Presence.  How can I love this family if I hold onto these emotions?  Oh Jesus, these feelings are normal and common to every person; experiencing them isn’t wrong.  But I can’t keep them—because letting them linger and grow is wrong.  Help me.”
Camera clicking, trying to be right behind the photographer and in a good position for capturing candid photos, my brain and hands were at work.  Equally my spirit was listening for assurance, forgiveness, truth.
“God places the solitary in families and give the desolate a home in which to dwell;...” The promise of God (Psalm 68:6) flitted through my brain.  The power of those words was softened by the emotional fog I was groping my way through. 
I found comfort that thought my emotions were in a wretched state, I had hope and trust in God’s mercy.  Long ago I learned that God knows the secrets of my heart—my secret sins and my secret desires.  Our iniquities, our secret heart and its sins [which we would so like to conceal even from ourselves], You have set in the [revealing] light of Your countenance.” Psalm 90-6. 
Back of Bride's dress
While sitting in the people carrier to go to the reception, I kept praying.  I so wanted to get “The Maverick” aside and talk to him.  But during the ride, I tried to engage with the boys, telling them how proud of them I was.  All of the small children and babies in “Our Clan” had remained quiet during the wedding ceremony.  The same could not be said of other “under-fives” who had accompanied their parents to the wedding. 
Finally, we arrived at the venue for the reception.  Finding my way to the ladies room first separated me from the wedding group.  It took some doing, but I finally found "The Maverick."  Away from the receptoin room, at a small table, I explained my feelings to my Darling Husband.  He said he felt the same—like being on the outside looking in.  This was astonishing, as the Bride and her siblings are HIS children.  But by having his understanding and comfort, the truth of love broke the heaviness and I could join the rest of the party and enjoy the evening. 
I had only been standing in the room about 10 minutes, chatting with another guest, when “Lacy C.” found me.  She asked me if I was all right.  Very quickly I told her how I was feeling.
“Don’t be stupid.”  She chides me.  “You do belong.  You have a place in this family.  We all love you.  You’re a second mom to us.  I couldn’t see my life without you in it.”
Her words brought such healing, acceptance and love. 
As if God wanted to make sure I got the message. “Mr. Biz”, “Lacy’s” husband came up to me about 20 minutes later and also made sure I was okay. 
I know if I had not immediately cried out to God with my confession and my prayer for mercy, I would not have been positioned to receive the blessing of my step-daughters, their spouses and our grandchildren. 
That’s my story of “Floss’s & Harry’s” wedding day. 
Serving Jesus, Author of our faith,
“Lady Helene”

The Beauty of Remembering

            Beauty 1: the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit :  :
Remembrance : the state of bearing in mind; 2a : the ability to remember : memory b : the period over which one's memory extends 3: an act of recalling to mind 4: a memory of a person, thing, or event 5a : something that serves to keep in or bring to mind

My Dad in his navy uniform
Pristine, clear, azure blue skies make a glorious view from my studio/home office window.  It has just gone 11:00 am on this Sunday, 11th November, Remembrance Day/Veterans’ Day.  At 11:00 am United Christian Broadcasters played “The Last Post” followed by two minutes of nature sounds as a period of silence.  I often wonder what other people think about in a 2-minute silence—as my mind wanders from one thing to the next.
   An “All Souls” service is a Christian remembrance of family and friends who have died.  But Remembrance Day/Veterans’ Day is a federal governmental day of honouring the men and women who served in the military to defend their counties. 
   In 1958 my parents got married.  My mother became the wife of an Air Force Service man.  The first eleven years of my life were spent near or on Air Force Base housing for families. 
   Dad was a staff sergeant, a parachute rigger, for the US Air Force.  For Christmas 1968 Dad used the industrial sewing machines at the base workshop to make sleeping bag covers for five brand new sleeping bags.  He made cases for tent poles for the new tent they’d ordered.  My dad was a clever man; a creative man who had not much confidence in himself.
Before Dad served with the Air Force, he served in the US Navy.  His brother also served in the Navy.  Dad was in the Navy three years.  All together, Dad had twenty-years of military service. 
"The Maverick" on patrol in Rhodesia
One of the things I desired in a husband was the he have some military back-ground.  One of the things I discovered early on about “The Maverick” was that he had served in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and South Africa armies.  “The Maverick’s” father was also a veteran, serving at El Alamein, Egypt.   
In the Bible, Paul wrote to the Philippians to think on things that are pure, noble, trustworthy, true.  The truth about war is that it is not pretty, nor fair, nor glorious.  
However, the people who served were often noble, willing to ignore the dirt, denigration and fear of living in trenches, swamps, jungles and deserts in order to prevent the furtherance of evil regimes.  Sometimes political decisions supersede the outcome of military victories.  This can leave Veterans feeling betrayed, frustrated and cynical.    
When we think about military service people, former and currently serving, we think of their noble acts.  We watch war films, such as Band of Brother, All Quiet on the Western Front, or M-A-SH, and discover the level of trust these men and women invested in their comrades and units.  We think of their sacrifice to leave home, family and friends, leaving behind jobs, education and vocations in order to live a different life.  Some came home with physical injuries.  Others came home with unseen wounds from trauma, un-expressed grief, and spiritual dilemmas. 
Bringing to mind the seasons of war our countries, states/counties, towns and families have gone through is beautiful, because we learn the meaning of what it is of have a love which is strong enough to fight for.  We take a few minutes to clearly think about what freedom means; the price it costs to earn it and maintain it.  As long as we have the ability to remember, to turn over the pages of our mind’s memories, we have the ability to learn of faith, courage, commitment, identity, and hope.  Hope for a better future for our progeny. 
My heart is filled with thanksgiving to God for my Dad, my uncle, my father-in-law and my husband for the time they gave to serve in the military. 
Whilst everything we remember is not beautiful, to remember is a beautiful action.  I pray your moments of recalling to mind those who have served family, country and hopefully God, are full of grace, mercy and joy-though it be bittersweet. 
Serving Jesus, Author of our faith,
"Lady Helene"