my favorite pumpkin pie

Friends, it is the day before thanksgiving – and I’ve discovered a MAJOR travesty.  As hard as I search, here, on my blog, I cannot find the recipe for Grandma B’s pumpkin pie. All I find is this story about how I came to love my Grandma’s pumpkin pie, here .  I’m getting ready to do some excellent baking for the holiday, and I can’t believe that recipe is nowhere to be found!

I’m being totally serious when I say that you can not do Thanksgiving without this pie!  There is nothing better!  So, I looked it up in the family cookbook – and I’m adding Grandma’s pumpkin pie recipe to my collection of recipes here – just for you, and just in time!  whew!

My mom is with Grandma B right now –  I wish I could eat pie with them tomorrow, but alas, we are hundreds of miles apart!  Instead, I will happily share my favorite pumpkin pie with my family here in Tennessee with a grateful heart for all of my loved ones, near and far!

Grandma B’s Pumpkin Pie

ingredients
1 cup pure pumpkin
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
2 eggs
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp maple
pie crust of your choice.

instructions
Preheat oven to 350 F. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl.  Mix together pumpkin, spices, and sugar.  Add milk and eggs to pumpkin mixture and stir til combined.   Use a 9 inch pie plate.  Pour pie filling into unbaked pastry crust.  Bake for 50 minutes, or until pumpkin filling is set.

Friends, I promise you, you will not be disappointed if you make this pie for your thanksgiving spread. In fact, if I were a betting person, I would wager that it will become a staple for all of your celebrations in the years to come!

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

joy, for all people, not just the children

It isn’t advent yet, I realize that.  But, as a children’s choir director I’ve been thinking about Christmas music for a few months, and singing it with children for several weeks.   It was just two weeks ago I began singing a song with some of my favorite kids at church, in preparation for our church’s Christmas program.

The song is taken directly  from Luke 2:

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,  “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.”

 

I can barely keep the tears from falling every time I hear them sing these words : “Joy that will be for all people!” No matter how confidently they sing, as a grown-up it doesn’t seem so easy sometimes….

Over the last week, post-election,  I see many friends and acquaintances who seem to have forgotten that joy.  So much fear, so much sadness, so much anger and confusion – but joy is nowhere to be found.

What is this joy the angel promised that was for all people?

Well, it is not joy because of my stuff or my great health, or because life is going my way, or because the right person was elected, or because my circumstances are perfect.

No.  It is Joy because Jesus fulfilled the promise.  He came to earth as a small baby.  He lived a perfect life – and He died and rose in order to give me His righteousness, and eternal life.  Joy because He’s made me free.  Joy because He keeps His promises.  Joy because He will come again!  Joy because these gifts are truly for all who believe in Him!

It is this Joy, in the person of Jesus, that meets the heart of each person, full tilt, bringing with it, His peace.   I’m thankful for these children in my choir who can sing, reminding me of this truth.       May we all find our joy and peace renewed this Advent season, so that we too can sing with confidence, “Joy that will be for all people!”

 

 

praying for my scout

Two weekends ago my boys left on a cub scout camping trip – headed to the wilderness.  Okay, not really the wilderness!  It was Skymont, the regional Tennessee Scout camp.   The only reason I refer to it as wilderness is because there was no… (cue scary music here)…  cell service.

It was my boys’  first getaway of this nature and Isaac was beyond excited. Of course this means it was my first stay-at-home weekend of this nature and as a mama. I was not quite as excited.  In fact, I can’t remember being separated from my boys for more than a short period of time without being able to communicate.

I’m not sure I really knew what this would feel like until they had been gone a few hours.  Dark hours approached on Friday evening and I realized I wasn’t going to hear from them.   No update texts from Michael on their progress or activities.   I didn’t even know if they had managed to get their dinner cooked or their tent set up. No goodnights or over-the-phone hugs and kisses at bed time.   I had no way of knowing if they were okay.

Let me stop here and say that of course they were okay!  They were with hundreds of experienced scouts and dads.  All was well.  But, in the absence of communication I became a bit uneasy.

Friday night as my head hit the pillow, I realized my only option was to pray.  Praying for protection, health, safety, provision, endurance, and a good night’s rest at their little campsite: my only option.

It is important you know that I have only been camping once as an adult.  The Holiday Inn is as rough or rustic as it gets for me.  This means I actually had no idea what all was going on over the weekend of scout camp – and it also means, I really had no idea how to pray for my boys.  As Friday night turned into the wee hours of Saturday morning, I prayed more.

What if Isaac or Michael got hurt?  What if Isaac wasn’t having a good time? What if I didn’t remember to pack everything they needed?

What if?

What if?

What if?

Saturday rolled along, and I promise you that the more I realized I wasn’t going to hear from them at all, the more I prayed.  It is the closest I’ve ever come to considering what it is like to pray without ceasing.  Saturday came to a close and I had this thought…

Why is it that I don’t pray like this all the time?

After all, it is an illusion to believe I’m controlling things just because my people are in close proximity.  Unfortunately, it seems that I don’t feel the need to pray as much when my kids are nearby and I think I’m in control.   Why is prayer my last resort?   I need to have a heart that prays for my family and friends whether they are at arms length or hundreds of miles away.  Only the Heavenly Father, who hears those prayers, is the One who guards their way and provides for their needs.

By Sunday afternoon my boys were home, and I realized just how much the Heavenly Father had orchestrated their weekend.  His love for them, in the form of this campout, could not have been more clear.  His plans are far greater than mine- always! His plan for me was great, too – I learned how to pray for my cub scout! And there’s nothing I’d rather do!

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How long?

Its election season.  The normal discourse of presidential choice has turned into unfriendly, brow-beating, demanding voices, wreaking havoc in our country, in our city, and even among my Facebook friends.  It is vitriol like I’ve not seen before. Personally,  the decisions weigh heavy, as though I’m responsible for who becomes president,  who sits on the Supreme Court,  and basically, the fate of our country and the entire world.

I shouldn’t let all of this have such unlimited access to my heart.  

Here’s what I know: There is coming a day of peace and restoration.  Our country and our world may be terribly broken – but He is not undone by what is happening. From generation to generation He remains the same, and He is in control.  His Word can be my focus and sure foundation.  He promises morning will follow the darkest night.  He promises we will not be consumed by our trials.  And there is coming a day – when we will be with our Savior – and we will be invited to the table to feast with Him – no more weeping – only rejoicing.

I’m thinking just for a moment about those I love in Heaven!  Oh, how they are experiencing the joy of God’s promises fulfilled!  Having stepped into eternity, they now truly comprehend the momentary nature of our current earthly experiences.  They understand His Word and know Him fully and intimately.   I don’t suppose I’m really imagining it well.

The words of this song by Sandra McCracken remind me of God’s promises and point my heart in the proper direction.  I’m listening on repeat this morning.  He remains true and faithful to His Word.

We will feast in the house of Zion
We will sing with our hearts restored
He has done great things, we will say together
We will feast and weep no more.

We will not be burned by the fire
He is the LORD our God
We are not consumed, by the flood
Upheld, protected, gathered up.

In the dark of night, before the dawn
My soul, be not afraid
For the promised morning, oh how long?
Oh God of Jacob, be my strength.

Every vow we’ve broken and betrayed
You are the Faithful one
And from the garden to the grave
Bind us together, bring shalom.

How long until we are all feasting together?  Even so, come Lord Jesus!  

not finished yet…

On Friday a new garage door was installed at our house.  I’ve been very excited about the new door arriving.  We’ve been looking forward to replacing the door for a long time.  It was OLD.  And It creaked and moaned every time we used it.  For the last month or so, I’ve actually worried that it might fall down, right out of the ceiling.

When the installer arrived, I opened our garage. As he walked in, the garage door made all of its tired noises and he said, “This is a terrible door.”  And all I could do was nod.  There was nothing else to be said.   The process of putting up the garage door turned out to be a little more complicated than expected and it took him quite a while.  Once he was finished and gone, I went outside to look over the door.

Now, I have to tell you, in case you don’t know:  Our house is currently brown cedar siding and brown brick.  Because we have painted Michael’s shop in the backyard from a palette of blues, we are also planning to side the house (maybe in the next year or two?)  and paint it from the same palette.  So, based on what we know is going to happen in the future, we chose a white garage door.

That’s right – the door is white, surrounded completely by brown.

As I stood in our driveway I had this overwhelming desire to put a sign in the yard that said, “Not finished yet.”    I don’t want folks to think this is the final look we’re going for – there’s more to come!  But I didn’t do it.

It is true that I need that sign, and not just outside my house.   Personally, as a believer, I am a work in progress – and I’m nowhere near the finish – God is still at work.  Worse, it seems to be taking a LONG time.  Unending home remodeling projects have nothing on my heart’s renovations!

What I do know is that He is at work!  Sometimes it is really painful – sometimes it is a joy.   But it is happening!   The thing is, often what’s going on in my life can seem unusual or awkward because I don’t see the outcome.   In my own human imaginations it is hard to figure out what the current crisis is about, until it is over.

But,  I can wait with confidence. He has planned the renovations from beginning to end –  He promises He won’t quit until the work in my life is complete. And, guess what? Even as I am in process, I can give grace to others, knowing that their hearts are under contract too.

Philippians 1: 6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 2: 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

So, when you come to my house for a visit, and it looks a little unusual    from the ongoing projects, maybe we can agree to remember- we are all not finished yet!  

all the things

Our school year has begun with quite a bang!  This fall turns out one of the busiest yet for my little family.  There is a lot happening on our schedule each week, and I keep thinking to myself, “Who in the world planned all of this?”

Oh that’s right.  me.

There’s mounds of school work to manage for my younger two and instruments to practice, as well as Emily’s high school work to keep on track. And there’s my housework to contend with.  There’s my own work which has several moving parts, including but not limited to three separate choirs with their own schedules and locations, along with piano students to give attention, not to mention a wedding to play this weekend. There’s my husband’s schedule to contend with at work, in the shop, and home improvement projects.   Then there’s scouts for Isaac.  Let’s not forget my own desire for our family to be healthy and exercise, and of course somewhere in there I might need to prepare a meal or two so we can eat…

I like to think of myself as capable. Intuitively, I’m a multi-tasker and handle more than one thing at a time.  Most women do, I suppose.  So, over the summer, when I planned all the things, I was comfortable with the schedule.  I did pray about it – and I can’t think of one of those things that I should drop- they are all necessary for our children and home schooling, or for our family.

The problem is, I believed that because I prayed about them and put them on the schedule that indeed, I am in control of all the things.  In theory, I know it isn’t true.  But- it typically takes something I didn’t control, something happening that’s not on my schedule, to remind me I am not in charge of all the things.

For instance, last weekend, I fell down our stairs while doing laundry.  Nothing major came from it – no broken bones, or concussion or ambulance tour.  But man, I came back to reality with a jolt:

All the things don’t fit in my hands – they never did – and they never will.

And then I remembered the verse from Colossians which I recently drew on my own kitchen’s chalkboard:

…and in Him all things hold together

Friends, I know there are responsibilities that I have before God  – as woman, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister and friend- things He asks me to do as His follower.   And there are things I require of myself, that are possibly even necessary,  like a clean home or folded laundry, or a little exercise.  Then there are unexpected, unplanned moments to respond to as well.

It takes only one small event for me to remember all the things aren’t in my hands anyway. At the end of each day, I can be grateful for this: regardless of what I manage to accomplish, He is holding all the things in His hands.

 

 

Oh me of little faith!

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(The cutest little picture of “ready – not ready for back to school”!  Oh these two, I love them so!)

Last spring, I felt it coming.  change.  It was hanging in the air around my home like a thick unwanted fog that made decisions difficult to bring into focus.  Moving forward almost impossible.

You probably know my oldest daughter has moved into high school this year.  She’s a freshman, doing really, really well – and it is so exciting.  All is well on that front.   But the road from last spring to now – well, that wasn’t so easy.

When homeschooling, there are important plans to be made each year.  While I try not to make these every day choices on our journey too monumental, it doesn’t change how it feels:  enormous.  That’s how it felt last spring when I was trying to figure out how to help Emily embark well into her high school career.   And that was just the beginning.  What about music lessons for Isaac?  What about gymnastics, or soccer for Mackenzie?  Cub scouts?  The list of questions went on a mile long.

My work schedule does necessitate that we stay together for academics.  Whether its a co-op, or classical conversations, we need to be away from home one day a week and no more, at least for this school year.  So, on these terms – I put out a “fleece” (if you will) to see what God had for us.

As it turns out, it seemed God was pointing us to a Monday community of Classical Conversations that meets across town. You would think I was Gideon, how I kept setting out tests – “Are you sure it is this, God?”  oh.  okay.  Wait, “Are you really sure?”     You see, I wasn’t totally looking forward to starting my crew at a completely new community with complete strangers and different curriculum and all the other stuff that comes with change.  But, with each of my tests, He just kept pointing me in the direction of “change” and “new” and “uncomfortable.”

sigh.

As the summer passed I became increasingly uneasy that I had made a huge error in my plans.  I can’t tell you how many times I thought about backing out, even though I’d had so many clear answers from heaven, in response to my many fleeces.

One of my prayers over the summer was that all of my children would find a place to build strong friendships.  I prayed this especially for my Isaac, who needs some friends to do “boy stuff” with, since he is with us girls all day long, all week long.

The week before our CC community began Isaac went to cub scouts on Monday night and met some new boys; he made a friend named Gaston.  Several times over the week I heard Isaac mention Gaston, and plans to hang out with him the coming week at cub scouts on Monday night.

On the next Monday morning  we drove across town to our new CC community for the first time with anxious hearts.  We were heading to a new place, with new classrooms, new tutors,  new faces and names to remember.  You won’t believe who was sitting in Isaac’s class!  Gaston!  I thought Isaac was going to cry from excitement and relief.

I left his classroom with a few tears welling up, realizing that there are so many little moments like that this year, here at the beginning of our school year!  The God of the universe is in control of the tiniest details, right down to making sure my son had a friend on his first day of CC.   I couldn’t have pulled all of this together the way He has orchestrated it if I’d had years to plan it!

Sometimes my faith is tiny.  Sometimes I just don’t believe He’s had time to note the specifics of my situation.  But, I’m glad my level of faith does not correspond to how well my Heavenly Father cares for me and my little family.  He holds us close no matter what.

I love how the Message reads in this passage from Colossians 1:

15-18 We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment.