SHE GAVE ME TWO RECIPES!

September 19, 2011

Recipe #1:
On Saturday I did something that I do at least once a year.  I baked a family favorite: Danish Pastry Apple Bars. Besides being yummy, I have a sentimental attachment to them because my Aunt Sue gave me the recipe. So the whole time I was making them, I was thinking about Aunt Sue, who is now in the presence of the Lord. Years ago when our children were small and we made a trip back to the States from Argentina where we were living, Aunt Sue and Uncle Ernie had us over for dinner and she served these bars. When I asked her for the recipe, she gladly shared it. I’ve included it at the bottom of this blog so you can try it, too. It always gets 5 star reviews!

Recipe #2
Every year for my birthday, Aunt Sue and Uncle Ernie sent me a birthday card, with a handwritten letter enclosed; both of them wrote, and that made me feel very special; being so far from home and family made it even more meaningful. She continued the tradition long after Uncle Ernie passed away. While we were living in Argentina, they came to visit us; they were in their 70’s by then. That was also special! What made me feel extra-special was when my daughter and I visited her shortly before she went home to be with Jesus. She was 96 then, and with a very clear mind, she shared stories about my deceased parents that I had never heard, as well as other family narratives. When the pleasant visit came to an end, she almost whisperingly said: “You were always my favorite niece.” (Sorry if any other nieces are reading this…) She always made me feel that way. How to make your nieces feel very special is the second recipe, and one that I try to follow as closely as I follow the one for her delicious Danish Pastry Apple Bars. I want every one of my nieces to know just how special they are, just like Aunt Sue did to me.

DANISH PASTRY APPLE BARS
Dough:

2 ½ c. all purpose flour  + 1 tsp. salt
1 c. butter
1 beaten egg yolk + milk to make 2/3 cup
1 beaten egg white

Filling:
1 c. slightly crushed cornflakes
¾ to 1 c. white sugar + cinnamon to taste
8 c. peeled, sliced apples.

Combine flour and salt. Cut in butter until fine and crumbly. Add beaten egg yolk and milk to flour/butter mixture. Do not overwork, or it will get tough. On floured waxed paper, roll ½ of dough to 12×17 inches. Fit into 10×15 jellyroll pan on bottom and sides. Sprinkle with cornflakes and top with apples. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Roll remaining dough to fit top. Place on top and seal edges. Cut slits on the top and brush with the frothy egg white. Bake in preheated 375 oven for around 40 minutes. Take 1 cup of confectioner’s sugar and mix well with 3 Tbsp. milk and drizzle on slightly warm bars. Enjoy with a cup of coffee or tea and special friend…or better yet, with a special niece!

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CELEBRATING FREEDOM!

July 3, 2011

Celebrating Freedom!

Freedom is a blessing I often took for granted, having been born and raised in a free nation. I learned to value it during the years I lived in Argentina under the military dictatorship. The first time we returned to the USA for a visit during that time, we landed in Miami. As we were going up a stairway to get to immigration and customs area, I sighted a huge, beautiful flag; my flag. The red-white-and-blue that represents freedom…the flag that so many of our forefathers and even contemporaries gave their lives  and shed their blood for, so we could enjoy freedom. Tears welled up in my eyes then, and they still do now, every time I recall how beautiful that flag was then – and still is, now! I celebrate that freedom with a very thankful heart!
There’s a freedom that is even more precious than the democratic freedom we enjoy in the USA. In fact, people around the world walk in this freedom, no matter what their nationality is, or what type of government they live under. It’s the freedom that Jesus gives: freedom from sin, from condemnation, from the enemy of our souls, and from anything and everything would stand in the way of a Father-child relationship with God. That freedom came at the greatest cost ever: the life and blood of God’s perfect Son, Jesus. He died to make us free. He Himself assured those who believed in Him: “…if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36) That’s the freedom every person needs, and that is available to all. I enjoy that freedom, I praise God for it, and I celebrate it with a very thankful heart.
Freedom…it’s one of God’s greatest blessings to us. Let’s celebrate it!


RESPONSE TO “WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I CHOOSE TO TRUST THE LORD”

June 25, 2011

Getting comments on my blog is encouraging; it confirms that someone is really out there on the other side of my computer screen. Every comment I receive is very much appreciated. I’m amazed at the feedback I got on the last post: “What Happens When I Choose to Trust the Lord”, and one in particular stands out. I asked my friend for permission to share that with you, and she gladly gave it.

My friend Janet is from Cinco Saltos, Argentina, where she lives with her husband and small daughter. She recounts an experience regarding the February 27, 2010 earthquake in neighboring Chile.  It was 8.8, and one of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded. For those of you who read Spanish, I’ll copy and paste her e-mail exactly as she wrote it; that will be followed by an English translation. Here’s a link to see where Cinco Saltos, Argentina is in reference to Chile. Chile runs N-S on the west coast of South America. http://maps.google.com/maps?q=cinco+saltos,+argentina&hl=en&ll=-38.85682,-68.027344&spn=15.625359,39.331055&z=5

Janet wrote:

hola Kathy ! como sabras en febrero del año pasado hubo un terremoto en chile ,el mas intenso de los ultimos años, como las consecuencias de despues de esto son tsunamis, replicas ,volcanes. la gente estaba muy asustada. se aviso a la gente de cinco saltos de como podian llegar a ser las replicas del terremoto causado en chile, entonses yo prepare los documentos mas importantes y los deje en un lugar visible por las dudas y antes de dormir ore a Dios pidiendole que nos cuidara.

Al otro dia nos levantamos y nosotros muy tranquilos , la gente estaba muy asustada de que a las piletas se les salio el agua, los niños lloraban, de que los cuadros y espejos estaban corridos y que sintieron mareos por el temblor que hubo en cinco saltos, pero su mayor miedo era que se rompiera en chocon la central de que produce energia por que si llegara a romperse en una hora estaria inundada la ciudad de cinco saltos.

pero nosotros Kathy NO SENTIMOS ABSOLUTAMENTE NADA Y LA CASA EN LA QUE VIVIAMOS EN CINCO SALTOS ESTABA INTACTA TODO EN SU LUGAR .

yo encima pregunte cuando fui a un supermercado cerca de la casa ..de que hablan de que temblor?? me dicen no  sabias lo que paso anoche ,todos estamos asustados

cuando vuelvo del supermercado  a la casa mis vecinos estaban afuera y me dicen ustedes sintieron algo? les dije que la verdad no, 

me puse a pensar que solo pudo ser Dios quien nos protegio y me puse a llorar por que el es muy bueno y misericordioso y nos mantubo tranquilos y a salvo.

Te mando un abrazo…

 

Hi Kathy! As you know, in February of last year there was an earthquake in Chile, the strongest one of the last years. Since in the aftermath of this, there is a possiblilty for tsunamis, strong tremors, volcanos, people were very scared.

The population of Cinco Saltos was warned that we might suffer tremors from the Chilean earthquake, so I got all of our most important documents together, and left them close by just in case, and before going to sleep, I prayed asking God to take care of us.

The next day we got up, very calm; people were very scared because the water splashed out of their swimming pools, kids were crying, pictures and mirrors were shaken and people were dizzy because of the tremors that Cinco Saltos experienced. But the greatest fear was that the hydro-electric dam that provides our electricity would break, because if that would happen, the entire city of Cinco Saltos would be flooded within the hour.

But Kathy, we DID NOT FEEL ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING AND OUR HOUSE IN CINCO SALTOS WAS COMPLETELY UNTOUCHED, EVERYTHING WAS IN PLACE.
When I went to the supermarket close to home, I asked “What tremors are you talking about?” The replied: “Don’t you know what happened last night? We are all frightened.”

Getting home from the supermarket, my neighbors were outside and asked if we felt anything. I told them, “We truly did not.” I got to thinking that only God could have protected us, and I broke down in tears because He is so good and merciful and kept us calm and safe.

Sending you a hug…


AN OCTOGENARIAN’S SECRET TO A LONG, HEALTHY LIFE

May 29, 2011

Dad worked on his tractor till he was well into his 90's!

When Jorge and I married and moved to Argentina, my parents were in their early 60’s. We are very thankful that they visited us often in the following 20+ years. Instead of shoveling January and February snow in Northeastern Ohio, they chose to endure our summer heat and humidity in Argentina – without air conditioning – to be with us! Saying our farewells at the airport in Buenos Aires was hard for me after their first few visits. Waving at them as they went up the escalator to their gate, my eyes always filled with tears. I thought I’d never see them again in this world.  When they kept coming back, I decided I wouldn’t bother to cry anymore, so I didn’t. They did come back, again and again. Mom made her last trip to Argentina when she was 73, but Dad…well, he loved it too much NOT to return, and so he did. He was a healthy 85 years old the last time he visited us in Argentina.

On one of his last trips, when he was already well into his 80’s, we spent a day at a church youth camp. There were teens and twenty-somethings from all over Argentina, and part of the afternoon’s program was a Q – A session. (Q – the young Argentines… A – Dad.) Observing the vigor and enthusiasm he still had at that age, one of the questions they asked him was: “What’s the secret to enjoying a long, healthy life?” Immediately Dad replied: “Four things: Work hard, drink plenty of water, sleep peacefully, and leave all your cares in the Lord’s hands.” He answered quickly, because those four concepts were his life; they worked for him.

I don’t know if the young kids “got it”, or if they ever thought of his advice after that day. But I did! And I often thank God for having given me a dad who loved me enough to give me a lot of advice – not only that day, but throughout my life – on a broad array of issues. I also am thankful that God allowed us to enjoy being with Dad until the Lord suddenly and unexpectedly called him home when he was 94 years “young”. (As one of his granddaughters remarked) Dad was born 98 years ago today, and with God’s favor, did indeed enjoy a long, healthy life!


One More of God’s Singers Went Home

May 18, 2011

Ana Nemec - One of God's Singers

My mother-in-law was a singer. She had a beautiful voice, and used it to sing praises to God. In her younger days, she often sang solos in church. As she aged and couldn’t do that anymore, and too weak to even leave the house, she spent hours listening to old hymns by her well-worn cassette player.

On Saturday, Jorge talked with his mom for the last time. Her voice was weak and her words were slurred; she was physically incapable of singing a song of praise, but with the phone on “speaker”, across 8,000+ miles (from Argentina to Ohio), we were able to rejoice with her as she made tremendous effort to repeat over and over, “Gracias a Dios”. That’s all she repeated.

Today, one more of God’s singers went home. She was anticipating her home-going for the last few months. She often expressed a longing to be with the Lord Jesus, who saved her at a young age and faithfully and lovingly held her hand for so many years. Ana Nemec was 85 years old. Now she is singing with a perfect voice, praising God. I’m sure her song is loud, and clear and beautiful…

Click on the link  to hear a wonderful old song that I was reminded of today: “When All of God’s Singers Get Home”  http://youtu.be/2I77hsX4vh4


THEY CANNOT REPAY YOU

April 30, 2011

One morning this past week, as I was spending some time in the Word, this declaration that Jesus made popped right off the page. “And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” Luke 14:14 (NKJ)

Jesus gave a whole new meaning to being “blessed”. Did you ever think that you would be blessed when you don’t get repaid? When you do something for someone who will NEVER be able to pay you back? That’s contrary to our thinking and our culture, isn’t it?

Immediately my mind went to our missionary friends in Japan who are engaging in some intense clean-up after the recent earthquake and tsunami. The people they are working with lost everything, and will never be able to repay them, but….they are blessed!

Then my thoughts traveled to Southeast Asia where my nephew and his wife are translating the Bible in the middle of a tropical jungle for a people group that is in darkness. Both professionals, left their careers to bring light to a community of indigenous folk will never be able to repay them…but they are blessed!

I remembered another couple that is dear to us. They are both physicians. Leaving what could be very lucrative careers, they are headed to an African nation to serve a people that doesn’t have the means to repay them…but just ask them, and they will tell you how blessed they are!

Still thinking of Africa, another dear couple came to mind. They are both pilots, and even though they could both work in their field here and live comfortably, they are on a mission to use their training and skills to benefit another group of people who will never be able to repay the sacrifice they are making….but they are very blessed.

So I kept thinking of other selfless people who are giving with no possibility of repayment: my friend who works with imprisoned youth… the single lady who gave up a promising career to be a “mom” to dozens of orphans in Brazil…the well-to-do Swiss lady who spent many years teaching the natives of the jungles of Bolivia about Jesus, then founded a Bible School in Argentina…they will never be repaid by the people they serve, yet they are all SO blessed!

Thank God, that’s not the end of the story. They WILL be repaid! Not only they will be repaid, but all those who have served – and serve even now – people who have no means to repay them. And the payment will be very good. It will be eternal…they will enter into the joy of their Lord, the One who they served so unselfishly!

 


PICTURE-PERFECT FLOWERBEDS?

April 10, 2011

Twenty years ago I had a beautiful backyard in Argentina. The climate was warm enough to have colorful Oleanders, vibrant red trellis roses, various kinds of Jasmines, Myrtle trees, Lilies, Gardenias…you get the idea. I loved to spend afternoons digging, planting, transplanting, replanting, trimming and delighting in the beauty God allowed us to enjoy. There was one problem. One of my flower beds was too close to the basketball hoop. With two rambunctious sons and their friends, I often fretted over broken Petunias or Impatiens…too often.  Once when I was whining about another broken plant, Jorge calmly said: “Kath, now we have boys. One day they’ll be gone and then we can have flowers.” What I didn’t realize at the time is that our boys were not only perfecting their shooting skills at the hoop, but they were cultivating friendships, learning teamwork, making memories and establishing a good relationship with their Dad, who often joined their fun. I’m absolutely certain that our sons don’t remember one flower that bloomed in our backyard in Argentina, but it’s a place that will always be special to all of us, broken plants and all…

Now we live in northeastern Ohio. I observed my backyard out of my kitchen window this morning. Our boys are gone, but we still don’t have flowers. Not one. Now I see a Hot Wheels scooter, a tricycle that’s already too small, a blue elephant slide, a swing that “Lolo” (Grandpa) made, a gigantic black rubber spider, a purple stretchy lizard and 2 bright green frogs with spring-legs. You see, we have two grandsons. I don’t have the picture-perfect flowerbeds I once longed for, and it’s OK. I finally got over it, and it’s totally OK to see what I see in my backyard now. Now, after all those years, I caught on…memories of good times, lots of laughs and clean fun are more valuable than the most beautiful flower beds in the neighborhood.  As I looked at my flowerless backyard, I thanked God for my adult sons, my wise husband, and my lively grandsons. I wouldn’t trade good times with all of them for any picture-perfect flowerbed!


BE A GEODE

February 20, 2011

A Geode

Did you ever see a geode? On the outside a geode looks like an ordinary rock, somewhat spherical and usually rough. When it is cracked open, the interior beauty is incredible. Colorful sparkling, pure crystals are revealed. Several years ago, while living in Argentina, we had the privilege of “mining” geodes in the small town of Wanda, Misiones, in northeast corner of the country. Wanda is on the shore of the Parana River, and famous for its geode mining.  There it is not unusual to break open a round rock and discover its inner beauty. Semiprecious stones (such as amethyst) are hidden inside a rough, ordinary shell.

Most people are familiar with the “Proverbs 31 Woman”. Reading about her, we discover the portrait of a woman who lives a life of inner beauty. Her qualities are listed with no mention at all of outward beauty. In fact, the comment made about beauty in that chapter is that it is “passing”! The ideal “Proverbs 31” woman may even be less than beautiful by the world’s standards…BUT her inner qualities far surpass anything that can be seen with the eye! What she has on the inside can be perceived when she talks: wisdom and kindness; goodness, generosity, discipline, honor, strength, creativity, a strong work ethic…aren’t all of these things far more desirable that “passing” outward beauty and charm? She is a geode!

I’m fully aware that I don’t possess outward beauty. Age-related wrinkles, sags, a few curves too many in undesirable places are obvious. Nonetheless, that doesn’t concern me. I get the geode concept. Common, ordinary and less than stunningly beautiful on the outside are perfectly fine with me, as long as I have real, internal beauty; the kind mentioned in Proverbs 31. Now THAT’S a geode! That’s what I want to be!


Different Culture, Mom’s Gone, Betty Crocker Changed, but….

November 21, 2010

In Argentina, where we lived for 27 years and raised our family, Thanksgiving Day is not celebrated. Ever. Turkey and stuffing are not on any holiday menu. It’s just not part of the Argentine culture. So it came as a complete surprise yesterday, when we were talking about our Thanksgiving meal for this year that our son Adriel (who was born in Argentina and lived there till after he was married) asked for stuffing to go along with the turkey. He said he likes stuffing. I nostalgically remembered all the times we enjoyed Mom’s turkey and stuffing when we were growing up… but Mom’s gone. So I decided to consult her Betty Crocker Cookbook that I inherited. Mom often wrote notes beside the recipes, so I was hoping that would be the case beside the stuffing recipe. Not so. But the recipe looks good, so I put a bookmark at that page and turned to the Roast Turkey recipe.

Mom's Betty Crocker Cookbook

Mom and Dad got married in 1938, so her Betty Crocker Cookbook may well be from the 1930-1940 era. I gasped in horror as I read the instructions for preparing to roast the turkey. It reads:

First of all…
Draw, singe, and remove pin feathers. (Use a candle for singeing; a tweezer or strawberry huller for pin feathers.)
Remove leg tendons (they spoil the quality of meat in the drumstick).
Cut of the head
, (ARE YOU KIDDING ME, BETTY??) leaving as much neck as possible. Slit skin down back of neck and pull skin down…then cut off the neck. (YUKKKK!!!)
Completely remove lungs and kidneys….(OK, One more thing to be thankful for this Thanksgiving season: Frozen turkeys that I don’t have to cut the head off and remove internal organs from!!)

Then I went on www.bettycrocker.com and looked at the Roast Turkey recipe and instructions. It simply says: 1 whole turkey (12 lb), thawed if frozen. Betty Crocker… you changed!

Yes, it’s a different culture for my family. Mom’s gone. Betty Crocker changed…but even at that, what really makes Thanksgiving meaningful is that we can thank Jesus Christ, that He is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8) Everything has changed, or will change. But – praise God! HE WILL NEVER CHANGE!


LEARNING BY HABITUAL PRACTICE

November 4, 2010

When I was in college, my days were organized around carrying a double major and working full time. My mom was frustrated with my incessant activity and often “suggested” that I just stay home to learn to cook, clean and do housework.  I had one instant response to her continual prodding: “No, thanks, Mom. If I ever need to know that stuff, I’ll take a crash course.”

And crash…I did!… 5,420 miles to the south in Argentina! I took that crash course as a newlywed in the “foreign” country that ultimately became my home for 27 years. I took the crash course alone. Mom wasn’t available by e-mail, IM, Facebook, Skype, or anything faster than snail-mail. No help. To give you an idea of how inexperienced I was at cooking, the roof of Jorge’s mouth actually peeled because I put too much white pepper in the stew. I couldn’t find black pepper in our town.

Habitual practice. That is an excellent way to learn just about anything: to read, to ride a bike, to swim, to play a sport, to drive, etc. Nearly everything we do is learned with practice, practice, and more practice; even being thankful. What? Learning thankfulness?

No doubt, the apostle Paul learned thankfulness by habitual practice. That’s why he could sing praises to God in prison after having been beaten. (Acts 16:25) Because he had learned thankfulness, he wrote about his suffering, his needs, tribulation and imprisonments, summing up his testimony by saying “as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing all things”. (2 Corinthians 6:10). Having learned thankfulness himself, he could encourage the believers in Thessalonica to give thanks in everything. (1st Thess. 5:18) and instruct the church in Philippi to “be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God”. (Philippians 4:6)

Well, eventually, I learned to cook by habitual practice… but have I learned thankfulness yet? Am I habitually practicing thanksgiving? Have I mastered the art of expressing my appreciation to others, and – more importantly – my gratitude to God for all of His wonderful gifts? The psalmist encouraged habitually giving thanks in Psalm 92:1,2. He wrote: “It is good to give thanks to the Lord and to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night.” That sounds pretty much like a habitual practice: “in the morning, …every night”. November is “Thanksgiving Month”. Let’s challenge ourselves to honor God with the habitual practice of thankfulness!


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