Deanne Has A Blog!

Sep. 8, 2017

“The Best Is Yet To Come..”

You know how sometimes your life is tooting along in a rather pleasant direction, no major catastrophes have befallen you, you paid your taxes on time, your driver’s license isn’t about to expire, all the children are fine, most of them are gainfully employed and you’re feeling kind of good about it all. And then there’s a radical change. Things are suddenly different and you are given an opportunity to behave like Mother Theresa. To keep smiling and address the new challenge in your life as though you’ve been looking forward to it all along. But you realize you don’t seem to have a lot of Mother Theresa bubbling out of you and you’re feeling a little down and... well, OK, a little resentful. As in, you expected better of yourself and you’re not delivering.

A dear friend sent me this story, which you may have seen or heard before, but just in case you haven’t....

A young man was diagnosed with a terminal illness and given three months to live. Getting his affairs in order, he contacted his minister and asked him to come to his house to discuss his final wishes. He had a list of what songs he wanted sung at his memorial, what Scripture he would like read, and even what suit he wanted to wear. Everything was in order and his Pastor was preparing to leave when the man suddenly remembered something else very important to him.

“There’s one more thing,” he said excitedly...

“What’s that?”

“This is very important, I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.”

The minister stood looking at the young man, not knowing quite what to say.

“That’s kind of a surprise, isn’t it!” The young man said, laughing.

“Well, to be absolutely honest, I’m somewhat astounded!” replied the minister.

The young man explained, “My grandmother once told me this story and from that time on I have always tried to pass along its message to those I love who are in need of encouragement.”

The young man continued, “In all my years of attending socials and dinners,” my grandma said, “When the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say, ‘keep your fork’. I knew immediately that something wonderful was about to come...red velvet chocolate cake, Crème Brulee, Pumpkin Cheesecake,  or maybe simply ice cream with hot fudge sauce. But something wonderful.”

“So, I want my friends who see me for the last time to see me with a fork in my hand and wonder, ‘what on earth is going on with the fork!’ Then I want you to tell them: Keep your fork...the best is yet to come.”

Right this minute, I’m keeping a firm grip on my fork.

God Hath Not Promised

Annie Johnson Flint

God hath not promised skies always blue
Flower strewn pathways, all our lives through;
God hath not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labour, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing kindness, undying love.

God hath not promised we shall not know
Toil and temptations, trouble and woe;
He hath not told us we shall not bear
Many a burden, many a care.

But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labour, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing kindness, undying love.

God hath not promised smooth roads and wide,
Swift, easy travel, needing no guide;
Never a mountain, rocky and steep,
Never a river turbid and deep.

But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labour, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing kindness, undying love...

Annie Johnson Flint’s life was beyond difficult, almost from the beginning but she, too, kept firm hold on her fork, knowing the best was yet to come. Maybe you need to keep a firm grip on your fork, too right now. It’s really true, you know...The Best IS Yet To Come!

"It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deut. 31:8

 

Aug. 19, 2017

“It’s not happiness that brings us gratitude, it’s gratitude that brings us happiness.”

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”

“There is always, always, always something to be thankful for!”

Are there ever moments in your life when you feel like you’re kinda down at the bottom of some pile of never-ending stuff you wish you didn’t have to do and you’d like to sit down somewhere and whine. Well, friends and dear family, I’ve been sort of in that place lately but yesterday, the nicest thing happened. I got a card from my sister, Heidi. On the front it says, “Whether sisters live near each other or far apart...” and then the inside says, “Sisters are there for each other through everything that matters. They are connected at the heart, and no one can ever break their bond. I’m so glad we’re sisters. Love, Heidi” Inside the card was an exquisite butterfly with a tag attached to it that says, “There is always something to be THANKFUL for.”

Her card arrived at exactly the right moment. I’d started making strawberry preserves and feeling sorry for myself. Not exactly crying in my strawberries, but close. Then I opened Heidi’s card, the butterfly flew out, my spirits flew upward and I had a moment to thank God for Heidi and for all of my family.

The picture here shows a few, just a very few, of the things for which I am thankful: My adorable husband, John, yes, still adorable after 50 years together; my Texas girls Jessie and Emily, a few flowers left from the bouquet my son gave me almost two weeks ago, and, of course, Heidi’s card, the butterfly, and the strawberry preserves.

“Count your blessings, name them one by one, count your many blessings, see what God has done.” Jonathan Oatman, Jr. 1897

If you’ve never made strawberry preserves, you should give it a try. Strawberries are fairly inexpensive right now and look fabulous. There are recipes all over the place for strawberry preserves. You can google. But here’s how I make them:

Strawberry Preserves

2 pounds of strawberries (strawberries are packaged in those plastic boxes by the pound!)

2-1/2 cups sugar

¼ cup lemon juice

1 TB butter

Wash and hull the strawberries. Pick out half, preferably the largest and firmest and put them in the big pot you plan to cook your preserves in. Add half the sugar and the lemon juice and crush the berries with a fork. Add the remaining sugar, the rest of the berries and stir well.

Cook over high heat, stirring, until mixture comes to a full rolling boil. That’s a boil that can’t be stirred down. Transfer this to a 9 x 13 glass dish and set it aside, uncovered, overnight.

Next day, get out your canning jars and new lids. 2 lbs. of strawberries will make about 4 half pints of preserves, more or less. Sterilize your jars and lids and set aside so they’re ready when your preserves are ready.

Bring berry mixture to a boil over high heat in that same pan you used yesterday. Cook stirring until mixture jells. Now, this is the tricky part. You keep holding your spoon up out of the mixture while you’re stirring, and when it’s really jam, it will drip off the spoon at different points, rather than running off in a smooth stream. Trust me, this works! Add the butter at this point, which keeps foam from forming that you need to skim off.

When you know you’ve got jam, take your pan off the range, set it on a hot pad and spoon your preserves into the jars leaving about a quarter to a half inch of room at the top. Immediately put your lids on and screw the bands on tightly. I like to invert my jars so they’re standing on their heads till they cool. That way the fruit is all the way through the jar instead of crouching up close to the top. The lids should not spring back when you touch them.

When you spread your own strawberry preserves on your toast, you will be filled with gratitude and thankfulness. Honest!

“So, amid the conflict whether great or small,

Do not be discouraged, God is over all;

Count your many blessings, angels will attend,

Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.”

Thank you, Heidi, for being my angel yesterday. I love you.

 

Aug. 3, 2017

“If history repeats itself, I am SO getting a dinosaur!”

“Real life would be more fun if we rode dinosaurs.”

“Dinosaurs aren’t extinct, they’re just hiding.”

Yes, friends and family, we’ve seen dinosaurs! Well, actually, we’ve seen so much more, having just returned from our annual July trip to Texas. We celebrated Emily’s 7th birthday at Chuck E. Cheese with about a million of her friends and their moms. We celebrated her mom’s birthday – our daughter, Crissy, (age undisclosed) – at Salt Grass with just the Texas family. Salt Grass is another one of those places like Claim Jumper that features chocolate cake with about eleven layers. Man, but that’s good! We went to breakfast at the brand new iHOP in Wylie. We went to the movies and saw The Emoji Movie. We saw Spiderman! We spent a lot of time hanging out, going out to lunch, shopping, playing checkers and tic-tac-toe. We ate fantastic Chinese food from P F Chang’s and Ming Moon, the local take-out place. We had pizza at The Rock and Jessie and Emily had mac and cheese, French fries and fruit every place. We had pink candy-cane martinis and ribs at TGI Friday’s. We had champagne at Crissy’s in-laws house, darling Mike and Dianne, and I even cooked a little,  finishing off our visit by baking my famous, and much sought after, cinnamon coffeecake.

AND we went to Ft. Worth to see Dinosaurs! Live! John and I were so impressed with Crissy for finding the right place, parking in the exact right place, and then resisting the sales pressure on every side to Buy! Buy! Buy! This whole thing was awesome with really huge robotic dinosaurs of every kind imaginable who moved and roared and looked terrifying. We loved it all and came away with a pink stuffed dinosaur for Emily and a blue stuffed dinosaur for Jessie at the bargain price of $19.95 each. Nobody got eaten, nobody got in trouble and we were all done just about when John and I really needed to sit down. No chairs at Dinosaurs! Live!

And we got to go to church twice at First Baptist Church of Wylie, which is simply amazing and wonderful. Their Pastor, Dr. Kris Segrest, is a great speaker, deliverer of God’s Word, and terrific story teller. He’s 40ish or a little less. To show you what kinda guy he is, his first Sunday at First Baptist he rode his motorcycle up onto the platform. He’s that kinda guy. The kinda guy who brings people in in droves. Young people attached to babies and toddlers by the score. Young people, middle-aged people, older folks, all of whom are beyond friendly. Smiles abound! With three packed services on Sunday, one on Saturday night, and an expansion program underway, they’re doing something right. We love getting to visit there.

The Mission Statement at First Baptist is this: Spreading God’s fame (the vision) by making disciples (the mission) of all people (the goal).

Here’s what I wanted to share with all of you out there in Blog-land, a story Pastor Kris told about being on a flight from Dallas to New York. He started out by saying what we all know, which is you sit down on the plane and the person next to you is either going to let you catch a few zzzz’s and read your book or they’re going to be your new best friend. Kris got on, hoping for the former but when the woman next to him said, “want some gum??” he knew she was going to be his next best friend. She gaily chatted with him using language enough to curl what was left of his hair, and eventually asked him what he did. “I’m an evangelist!” he said. “Oh good,” she said, and launched into what was wrong with Christians. Eventually, he had the opportunity to express God’s love for her. His gift of grace to her. His sacrifice for her. His eternal seeking to bring her into His kingdom. His forgiveness, no matter what she’d done. She sat and listened with tears streaming down her face. Everything Kris said brought more weeping. Finally, he told her that she could step into God’s love and forgiveness right that very minute. That she didn’t have to do a single thing except ask Jesus into her heart.

But she said... no. She said...no. He told her God loved her as though she were the only one in the world to love. But she said...no. She wept and said...no. We could see that he is still suffering over this. To be offered the joy of God’s love and to turn it down. He is still praying for her. And so are we.

“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul.”

Mt. 16:26

 

Jul. 12, 2017

“The best place to seek God is in a garden. You can dig for him there.” George Bernard Shaw

“Fer-til-iz-er: A substance which makes soil more fertile.” (Webster)

When last we chatted, I waxed rhapsodic about home grown tomatoes. Now I've moved on in the garden to zucchini...bane or blessing?

Having grown zucchini and pumpkins, fertilizer is a superfluous frill as far as they are concerned. Put a couple of seeds in the ground, go away for the weekend, and be astonished when you return to find that their vines have cascaded all over the geraniums, the Dutch Iris and zinnias are fighting for their lives and those greedy little tendrils are eyeing the garage. Zucchini is delicious when it’s small and tender but neglect to pick it and a day later, it has metamorphosed into a club the size of a baseball bat. You can grate one all day to make zucchini bread and never finish it. Neighbors see you coming with that bag of zucchini and won’t answer the door. The zucchini phenomenon is sort of like Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice in Fantasia!  with his enchanted broom and buckets of water. The zucchini inexorably keep coming and coming!

Anyway, when the zucchini overwhelm you, chop up some in your salad, sauté some in olive oil with tomatoes and lots of onions, drain and stir in some sour cream and top with a little parmesan cheese for a really great veggie dish. Or get out your Cuisinart and grate some for bread. This one is particularly good. This recipe is originally from Dorothy Reinhold’s column in the Pasadena Star News in 2011. In it, she described her son’s ecstasy about the zucchini bread that his 3rd grade Webster Elementary School instructional aide, Mrs. Corinne Le, had baked and brought to share.  “It’s soooooo good,” he said, “and she gave me the recipe. It’s really really good!” And it is, too! So, thanks Dorothy and Mrs. Le. This is the best zucchini bread I’ve ever had. It’s neat to think that these third graders got to taste something fabulous that a teacher wanted to share. Teachers ARE exceptional people!

Zucchini Bread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease 8” x 4” loaf pan.

1-1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. ground nutmeg

1 cup sugar

1 cup finely shredded, unpeeled zucchini

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1 tsp. grated lemon peel (or more if you've got it)

½ cup chopped pecans (optional), dried cranberries are good in here, too, and maybe a little chopped apple.

In a medium bowl combine first 6 ingredients.

In another medium bowl combine sugar, zucchini, oil, egg and lemon peel. Mix well.

Add dry mixture to zucchini mixture, stir just till moistened (batter will be lumpy)

Add nuts and/or cranberries, and apples.

Spoon batter into greased pan. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan or on a wire rack for 10 minutes. When your bread has cooled off a little, cut yourself a slice and sit down and enjoy it with a cup of coffee.  You deserve a break after all that planting, fertilizing, harvesting, distributing and baking! This freezes well, too, so you can double the recipe, which just happens to be in my book, “A Tablespoon of Love, A Tablespoon of Laughter.”

“In simple humility, let our Gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation garden of your life.” James 1:21

“I grow plants for many reasons: to please my eye or to please my soul, to challenge the elements or to challenge my patience, for novelty or for nostalgia, but mostly for the joy in seeing them grow.” David Hobson

Jul. 2, 2017

“Well, there ain't nothin' in the world that I like better
Than bacon and lettuce and homegrown tomatoes
Up in the mornin', out in the garden
Get you a ripe one, hey, don't get a hard onePlant 'em in the spring, eat 'em in the summer
All winter with out 'em's a culinary bummer
I forget all about the sweatin' and diggin'
Everytime I go out and pick me a big one

Homegrown tomatoes, homegrown tomatoes
What'd life be without homegrown tomatoes
Only two things that money can't buy
And that's true love and homegrown tomatoes.”

One of my very favorite singer-songwriters, Guy Clark, who is raising homegrown tomatoes in heaven now, left behind this tribute to tomatoes. His song, “Homegrown Tomatoes” is one of my favorites.  He goes on...

“When I die, don't bury me
In a box in a cemetery
Out in the garden would be much better
And I could be pushin' up homegrown tomatoes.”

I don’t really know what his final arrangements were, but I totally agree with Guy, the only two things that money can’t buy are true love and homegrown tomatoes. I’ve got the true love part going really nicely as I’ve been married to the love of my life, John, for 50 years now and we expect to be walking, talking and laughing together over the occasional homegrown tomato for many more years. Like these beauties in the picture which are approaching edible with agonizing slowness. My son-in-law, Chuck, gave me a terrific tomato plant and it is doing its best to produce the most gorgeous round red globes of deliciousness possible.

The growing tomatoes part’s not quite so easy. In my opinion, one of the horrors unleashed upon the world when Eve picked that forbidden fruit, making God really unhappy with her and with Adam, is the tomato worm. There you are, admiring your rapidly growing tomato plant, feeding it, talking to it, nurturing it and admiring those cute little green baby tomatoes...all is well in your particular Garden of Eden. Then one morning you walk out with your cup of coffee and find that your tomato plant is in shreds! Leaves have been chomped to bits and all the little yellow blossoms signifying many more tomatoes on the way have been sucked dry, leaving nasty little brown blossomless husks. You stand there, mouth agape, in shock and horror. How could this devastation have taken place in just one night. Your eyes narrow into beady beacons of rage. Tomato worm!

With shaking fingers, you put your coffee down. You paw through your previously beautiful tomato, searching relentlessly for this spawn of Satan and find...nothing. You follow the icky little trail of black dots of tomato worm excrement and find...nothing. Heart pounding, you turn over every leaf and find...nothing.

In case you’ve never encountered one, tomato worms are huge. They are also the same color as tomato plants. Plant experts saw they’re easy to find if you lightly spray your tomato plant with water. Ha! I say! And Ha! Again! You can spray water all day trying to get these big stinkers to show themselves to no avail. What did I do? I went right back in the house and grabbed the Garden Safe Fungicide and sprayed the heck out of that tomato plant. Peace has returned to my kingdom. Guy is absolutely right:

“Only two things that money can't buy
And that's true love and homegrown tomatoes.”

If you haven’t gotten yourself a tomato plant, zip on down to Home Depot and buy yourself a nice one with yellow blossoms on it. Show it to your true love and plan what you’ll do with all your homegrown tomatoes this summer.

“Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce.” Jer. 29:5