Sunday, October 30, 2016

When you hear sirens . . .

"The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." James 5:16b (New International Version)

Thirteen years ago, around this time of year, I was sitting in church one Sunday morning, when firetrucks, sirens whirring, sped past church. As always, whenever I hear sirens or the Flight for Fife overhead or any type of emergency vehicle, I sent up a prayer to heaven, asking that whatever was on fire, that no one was hurt and the damage was minimal. Church was soon over, and without giving it much more thought, I headed to the basement to teach Sunday school. An hour later, I stopped at the store before driving home.

When I finally pulled into our driveway, my 17-year-old son met me in the yard. My husband was working and Nick had been home alone with our German foreign exchange student.  I couldn’t figure out what was up, but from the look on Nick’s face, I knew something was going on.

He took me by my shoulders and spun me around to our storage shed behind the garage.

Shortly after I had left for church, he had looked out the front window and noticed flames coming from the shed. Being my boy scout, he assured our German student that he had it under control and threw a few buckets of water on the flames. He quickly realized that was futile and called 911, which shortly precipitated my prayers.

There hadn’t been much of value in the shed, but since our insurance paid out what it would cost to buy all that junk new, we made out pretty good.

So, next time you hear sirens, or have some other inkling telling you that you should send up a prayer for something you may know nothing about, do it. Just say:

Lord, God, whatever may going on right now, keep Your children safe and minimize their loses. Remind them that no matter what happens, You have got it covered. Amen   

Thursday, October 27, 2016

An Apple Bar Surprise

I know that I promised last time that I was done with that road trip to Minnesota, but I am going to throw out one more thing. Just one.

At Jim’s Apple Farm in Jordan, I picked up a bag of apples, Honey Crisp, I believe they were. Shortly after returning home I attempted to make the obligatory apple pie. That was a fail. I pulled out a recipe for cherry bars that I had made last summer and tweaked it some.

They didn’t turn out too bad.

½ cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp salt
1 ½ cups flour

Preheat oven to 350. Mix above ingredients well. Spread ¾ of the dough into greased 9 x 12 baking pan.
Peel and slice 5 apples. Mix with 1 tsp cinnamon and a couple tablespoons of sugar. 
Spread over dough in pan. Drop the remaining dough by teaspoons over the filling.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown (I don’t remember how long I left them in for, but it seemed like it was longer than that, so just keep an eye on them).
If you’ve read any other recipes on other people’s blogs, you may have noticed that they usually use a ton of pictures. This is the one time when I don’t. I’m just full of surprises, aren’t I?

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Odds and Ends on the Way out of Minnesota

Yes, I’m still getting caught up on that short trip to Minnesota the first part of this month. How I can drag an overnight trip out this long is beyond me, yet here I am, finally sharing my way home.
I’ve been to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival multiple times over the years. And since that occurs in the late summer and early autumn, we always stop in here, at Jim’s Apple Farm.
Home of Minnesota’s largest candy store, among other things.
If you recall, I got lost on the way to my friend’s house, so managed to get lost on the way back home. But in the words of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., “peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God".

Until I turned into this place, because it looked just way too cool to not check out.
But even though the sign at the gate announced visiting hours, which were going on when I pulled in, I really did not feel comfortable stopping long enough to check it out.
Instead I slowed down enough to snap some pictures, then skedaddled out of there. At home, I found the place on Google maps. It is the Cambodian Buddhist Temple. Out in the middle of nowhere south of the Twin Cities.

Then just up the road I ran across the EilenTrucking Business. Wow. I don’t know what their sculptures mean, but there are more that I didn’t get pictures of.
Sometimes I’m just glad to cross the border back into Wisconsin.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Relax and know God

Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10 NIV)

I’ve written about this beloved Psalm before, but last weekend, at the Christian Writers Retreat, I learned another application for this Psalm. Say to yourself, “be still” as you inhale slowly. Then as you exhale, think, “and know that I am God.” Repeat it two more times and feel the tension slip away. 

Because the Psalms are songs and songs are just that  because they have a rhythm, this works with many verses from that book.

“For the Lord is good” as you inhale. Then “and His love endures forever” as you exhale. (Psalm 100:5)

“Give thanks to the Lord” inhale. “For He is good” exhale. (Psalm 107:1)

“Search me, God” inhale. “And know my heart” exhale. (Psalm 139:23)

I could go on, but you get the picture. This is a great relaxation technique and a way to remind us of the beauty and wisdom of God’s words.

 Thank you, Lord God, for Your inspired word. Help us to keep Your song in our hearts. Amen.  

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Peas and a Doctor

 Previously I shared how I became friends with my friend from Minnesota. Today I will share where she actually currently lives.

You know how a lot of us don’t appreciate the town we live in. We don’t visit our local tourist attractions; we’ve maybe never been to our city’s historical society or even know if they have one. So what happens is that when we have friends visit from out of town, we go to the next town to visit their tourist traps, because we aren’t going to show them ours. Right?

Hence, I’ve never taken my friend to any place in my own town (except to church and out to eat a few times) and likewise when I visit her, we never bomb around her town.

This trip, because she had a prior commitment in the afternoon and I wasn’t ready to head home, I decided to visit her little town. Le Sueur, Minnesota.  

 First of all, a couple times a month, Hubby reminds me of my friend, by opening up a can of Le Sueur peas to eat for dinner. I was going to take a picture of one of the cans to prove it to you, but decided that would be crazy for even me. And even though these peas are no longer canned in Le Sueur or even by Green Giant, their label still says "Le Sueur". 
And who knew that Le Sueur had a museum, which naturally is open only by appointment, which seems to be true of a lot of small town museums. The curator probably works full time in a more lucratively paying job, or is a retired grandma who babysits the grandkids during the week. 
 In addition to the Jolly Green Giant (which by the way was the name I gave my first car, but that is another whole story), Le Sueur is famous for its connection to the Mayo family of Mayo Clinic fame. 

 I probably could have spent more time in this quaint Minnesota town, but the open road was calling, which means more pictures will be coming soon. Also, I’m going to find something touristy to do with my friend when she comes to visit me next. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Romance of The Covered Bridge

Why are covered bridges so romantic? Why do they fascinate us so? Did it just start with the book “The Bridges of Madison County” or were we always in love with covered bridges?

On my recent trip to Minnesota, I took a detour. Okay, I kind of got lost. I should probably turn on the volume for Maps on my phone when I am going somewhere. Nah, that’s no fun. If I wouldn’t have taken the wrong road out of Red Wing, I never would have stumbled upon Zumbrota. And the only remaining original covered bridge in Minnesota.

Installed in 1869, the bridge crosses the Zumbro River and was moved to its present location in 1997 or 1970, depending on which plague along the river you read. I’m also not sure how long it is, from 116 to 120 feet depending on sources. Could not find out much on the internet about this bridge, which is a shame. Good thing I took as many pictures as I did.   

Okay, looking at them, I don’t think I took enough pictures. I also didn’t explore the little town of Zumbrota. I think I need to get lost here again someday.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Fused Friendship

As you may already know, I took a ride over to Minnesota one day last week to visit an old friend.

Phyllis was actually my sister Pat’s friend in college, and though they remained good friends until Pat’s death, Phyllis and I became friends through a different mutuality. After divorcing my first husband, I could relate to her dating woes. I’d been dating a special guy for a year when Phyllis finally married. Just one year after that I married my special guy. And sadly, tragically, my sister died two years later.

But the bond was formed. Phyllis had grown to be one of my best friends. And so she comes over to see us once or twice a year and I try to get over there yearly, usually in the fall when the colors are at their peak and pumpkins are ripe.

Her husband breeds draft horses and for a while she raised miniature horses. Recently she has discovered the joy of mini-donkeys. Can you see why I love going to her house?

Who’s your best friend? And how did your relationship begin? 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Buildings and a Show

For years Hubby and I had talked about going to a show at the Grand Theater in Wausau, about a 40 minute drive away. As a school bus driver, he used to take kids there all the time, but I don’t remember ever going inside myself. In the Spring of 2015, I finally got us both tickets to an Eagles Tribute Band. I blogged about that night at the time. I also promised at that time that we would return some day.

Early in September, I stumbled across a blurb for the Wausau Community Theater production of “Fiddler on the Roof”. And they still had tickets available for the night that Hubby had off from work. Booked it. Just like. For three days later.

We got to downtown Wausau plenty early enough, and as it was a beautiful evening, I wanted to walk around. There are a lot of interesting and historic buildings in that area of town. And as it was the weekend of "Artrageous", there were other interesting things to see.

 I could probably do a bunch of internet research and let you know what these churches and buildings all are. But you can just enjoy them for what they are.

And the play, by the way, was great as well. 

(And I just reread that post about the show last year and me losing our tickets. This time? Left the tickets at Will Call. That's the way to go.)

Sunday, October 9, 2016

God's Perfect Timing

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
    whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
    that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
    its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
    and never fails to bear fruit.” 
Jeremiah 17:7-8 (New International Version)
A year ago this week, I got to meet this beautiful little girl. In remembrance of my visit, we planted this tree, which in just three or four years will be large enough to produce fruit. In the last letter I received from my girl, she shared with me that the tree was still alive and growing. Only a few more years and the little tree will be fruitful.

In my impatience, I wish the tree could have started being productive right away. Supply this poor family with that little bit of fruit in their diets. Why wait so many years?

So many years? Three or four? That is not really a lifetime. In God’s time, that isn’t even a millisecond. In God’s time all things will bear fruit.

In God’s time, the dream job will materialize. In God’s time, the lonely family of two will become a family of three. In God’s time, sickness and sadness will be eradicated.

And in our time, we need to keep the faith and trust in God alone.

Lord, God, Heavenly Father, thank you for your perfect timing, for knowing when to answer our prayers and how to answer our prayers in the way that is best for all. Amen.

If the time is right in your life, please consider sponsoring a boy or girl through Compassion International and change the life of a child like my Mueni. 

Friday, October 7, 2016

What's in your front yard?

  When I started blogging here on Tuesday of this week, I had planned on posting the following story, but went down the rabbit hole of our wedding anniversary. Let’s see if I can focus tonight.

  I do not know the entire history of our house or the four acre spot it sits on. I know the previous two owners and who built it. I’ve even been told that there was a fire in the house at one time which explains the charred walls in the old garage and I suspect some of the peculiarities of the house. 
  I do not know, however, who it was who felt compelled many, many years ago to use the swamp in front of my house for a garbage dump. 
  When my kids were little and more adventurous, they loved exploring the swamp and extracting from it all sorts of glasses bottles. (This was long enough ago that the Zika virus was not a concern or really any mosquito-borne illnesses.) When they were old enough and big enough, they started dragging the tires out of the swamp. I’ve lost track, but the number was over a dozen when the kids were still in school. I don’t know how many the hubby took to the landfill or how much it cost him. 
  This past summer, as more tires rose to the surface of the muck, I asked the boy-child to pull them out. I had a plan for these. 
  For a few years, I’ve been cultivating trails through my meager woods and running along them when I can. I thought – ah, ha – I could add some obstacles. The first one could be the tire obstacle. 
  Okay, for all my work on this earlier in the week, I fell down running through it the first time. It’s not as easy as it looks. I will need to work on this and perfect it before I add a rope swing. 
  Wish me luck.