Monday, June 30, 2008

classics of faith

over the past few months i have been indulging myself in some great fiction books, mostly pleasure reading. i love a good story written with beautiful words that reveal an aspect of the human heart or challenges of living life. but i have felt convicted to read more of God's Word and focus more on my spiritual growth. i have pulled some christian classics off my shelf and i am revisiting some books that were very influential in my young adult life, as i grappled with faith and life. Mere Christianity by c.s. lewis, The Pursuit of Holiness by jerry bridges, and The Hiding Place by corrie ten boom to name a few.

will you share with me the books that have caused you to grow in your walk with Christ? aside from the most important Book, what has influenced your faith?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

honey wheat bread and fresh churned butter

honey wheat bread

2 pkgs. active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (105 - 115 degrees)
1/3 cup honey (ours came from a local beekeeper! thanks, chris!)
1 T salt
1/4 cup shortening (i use butter)
1 3/4 cup warm water
3 cups whole wheat flour
3 cups all-purpose flour (up to 4 cups)

in a large mixing bowl dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water. stir in honey, salt, shortening, 1 3/4 warm water, and the wheat flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough of the all purpose flour to make the dough easy to handle.

turn dough onto lightly floured surface. knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. place in a greased bowl and turn once. cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

punch dough down; divide in half. roll into loaves., place seam sides down in 2 greased loaf pans. brush lightly with butter. cover and let rise another hour.

heat oven to 375*. bake until loaves are golden and sound golden when tapped, about 30 - 40 minutes. remove from the pans immediately and cool on a wire rack.

kneading the dough

didn't it rise beautifully?!

B with her fresh loaves of bread and homemade butter. she did such a great job! (i realize she needs a comb run through her hair, but i like to think that the real laura ingalls was not worried about combing her hair either!)

everyday gift: fresh bread baked by a little prairie girl

what's blooming

this iris is one of my favorites

i plant pots of petunias to attrack hummingbirds, and because they remind me of my grandmom.

hollyhocks...these were planted from heirloom seeds from door county, wisconsin

i don't know what these little purple bells are called. they popped up in a clump of lilies given to me by a friend. i almost weeded them out, but hesitated when i didn't recognize it, i figured if it came from viv's garden it must be good...i was right!

everyday gift: an early morning walk in the garden

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

the thistle

we have been working hard to remove all of the thistles from our pasture this spring (i say we, but i should say C and S). it is an invasive weed that crowds out the grasses and clover that my sheep love. its thorns are too harsh for the tender mouths of my animals and they give it a wide girth when grazing.

but the truth is, despite its heavily armoured exterior, i actually find the flower of the thistle quite beautiful, its brilliant color dotting the field. i have also found other benefits and beauty come from this plant that is considered such a nuisance.

it is the host plant to caterpillars of the painted lady butterfly.

it provides protection to the nests of the song sparrow who serenades me every morning. the nest is nestled in the tall grasses right on the ground and without those thorns, the animals would trample it while grazing the tender grass.

another bird that loves the thistle is the gold finch. it is so fun to watch their bright yellow and black wings as they do acrobats to perch and feed on the thistle gone to seed.

it makes me think of other thistles in my life, the irritants that pop up again and again, no matter what efforts i make to eradicate them from my life, just like weeds. but could there be benefits despite the pain they cause? thorns hurt, but do they also provide something positive in my life?
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
Romans 5:3-5

everyday gift: the thistles in my life

Sunday, June 22, 2008

bishop hill

it was such a nice a afternoon, spending time with my mom, my aunts, and cousins (minus 2, we missed you, peggy and susan!) . we try to get together this way once or twice a year and leslie has done such a great job of organizing our plans. this time we met at bishop hill, an old swedish settlement that now attracts many to its historic buildings, gift shops, bed and breakfast inns, and restaurants that celebrate their heritage. what a pleasant time of visiting over lunch, sharing the latest grandbaby pictures, and shopping.

the red oak served a lovely swedish lunch with ligonberry tea

where else will you find an accordion player on the front porch?

one of the many quaint gift shops

music in the park

three sisters

diane, stacy, leslie, karla, aunt betty, aunt carol, and mom (aka aunt judy, aka aunt lynn)

did i mention the wonderful desserts???

everyday gift: swedish cream with raspberry sauce for dessert

Saturday, June 21, 2008


mark and i share a camera. but don't worry, we never have to wonder who took which pictures. i take pictures like this:

mark takes pictures like this:

he has been doing some clean up at an old barn and has found many antique farm tools and implements. you know the ole saying, "one man's junk is another man's treasure".

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

blue bird

everyday gift: a flash of blue in the garden

a father's gift

since father's day a few days ago, i have been thinking about all mark does for our kids as their dad. on sunday we honored him and thanked him with father's day gifts: cinnamon rolls for breakfast, a homemade card, a funny booklet about dads, a shirt, his favorite meal of bratwurst on the grill.

but today i am thinking not about father's day gifts, but of a father's gift. last night after the younger kids were in bed, and my own eyes were closing on my book, i overheard mark in the kitchen with C. over the clinking of spoons in the ice cream bowls, i heard C asking questions about the sunday sermon from the book of james. i heard the rustle of bible pages turning from the new testament to proverbs. i heard my son wrestling with the big questions of faith and works, of consequences of sin, and a christian response to this world. and i heard a father engage his son with wisdom, patience, and love.

this morning as i start the coffee in the kitchen, i see sticky ice cream bowls left on the table, C's bible, and sermon notes in his own scratchy handwriting. and i smile. what a beautiful sight. i guess i will not scold about the dirty dishes left out or the handwriting that needs improvement. instead i am praising God that mark has established such wonderful lines of communication with his children and he is not afraid of their hard questions.

everyday gift: late night talks at the kitchen table with dad

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


we did not get the rain that was forecast for father's day, so we were able to enjoy an afternoon playing croquet in the yard. everyone seemed to find great pleasure in sending my ball in the opposite direction. mark and boys are the competitive ones so we had quite a lively game!

S going after C!

nice shot, B!

darling, yoooooou send me!

okay, who got a hold of the camera?

i can not believe that you would send your own mother into the flower garden!
i'll be sending bed early!

go grammy!

everyday gift: playing croquet in the yard

Monday, June 16, 2008

buzz for bryce

saturday we went to a party to show our support for young bryce who has lymphoma. his chemo treatments are having the expected side-effects including hair loss, so they held a "buzz for bryce" party where you could lose your hair right along side bryce!
bryce giving the pastor of his church a buzz

good friends

please pray for bryce as he wages his battle against lymphoma.


human foosball

have you ever played foosball?

no, i mean have you ever played foosball???

the golden arrow

while at camp, C earned 4 merit badges: small boat sailing, pioneering, leather working, and archery. he was especially excited to receive the golden arrow at the end of the week. this is the award for the highest scores in archery for the entire camp.

shotgun shooting

knife case made for his leather working badge
everyday gift: a bullseye