April Thanksgiving: Great Things He Has Done

This year, my birthday celebrations included a gift from God… Brody received a promotion at his job! He had been applying to this position in various locations around the country for about 18 months, and finally the position became available here at his own office. He applied again, and this time, received the position. We found out on my birthday! We praise the Lord for His kind provision for us all these years through Brody’s previous position and for His blessing of a new position which Brody loves. It’s a natural fit for his abilities and will give him opportunity to grow in new ways as well.

I immediately thought of Psalm 126 when we found out about his promotion. While this Psalm is specifically about the Israelites’ return from captivity, I can relate to their joy and praise to God for the great things He has done for them as well as for us. This definitely seems like a dream come true; I had even said to Brody 18 months ago that if the position were available at his local office that would be wonderful! So far, he’s enjoying settling into his new office and responsibilities and is very thankful for the support of his coworkers.

One of Brody’s coworkers jokingly mentioned that as the newest arrival in the office, he needed to bring in a cake, and that carrot cake was his favorite. Since we had already developed a carrot cake recipe that works for Brody, he said he would bring it in. Another coworker, overhearing the conversation, asked if the recipe is in our book since he already had purchased a copy of A Recipe for Survival. When Brody mentioned this conversation to me, I decided it was time to post the photo of our Brody-safe carrot cake along with the instructions to modify the Chocolate Cake on page 174 of A Recipe for Survival. So, while he’s busily baking, I’m preparing this post. 🙂 He’ll take the cake to work tomorrow, and we’ll see how the office likes the recipe!

Gluten-free, Corn-free, Potato-free Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake

Follow the recipe on page 174 of A Recipe for Survival for Chocolate Cake and make these modifications:

A Recipe for Survival Modifications for Carrot Cake

If you have any questions on the modifications, just ask for clarification! Enjoy! And remember to thank the Lord and praise Him publicly for the great things He has done for you.

When the Lord brought back the captive ones of Zion, 

We were like those who dream.

Then our mouth was filled with laughter

And our tongue with joyful shouting;

Then they said among the nations,

“The Lord has done great things for them.”

The Lord has done great things for us;

We are glad.    Psalm 126:1-3 NASB

Family Memories in February and Best Brussels Sprouts

This year, February marked a time of meditating on my family’s heritage. Brody and I reached the point of being willing to part with a fairly large electronic device from the 1960’s which I had purchased in an estate sale while living in Kansas. The beautiful and (still working) record player by Magnavox was actually two good-sized pieces of furniture since the second speaker was detached from the playing unit and also served as storage for records.

We didn’t take a picture of the player and speaker since a local electronics dealer was willing to buy them sight unseen. Housed in lovely wooden cabinets, the player and speaker were both beautiful to behold and useful for playing the old records I had received from both of my grandmas. However, Brody and I thought it wise to sell it while still in working condition. We did not want to spend time trying to find the parts for the old electrical tube-style components when the time came to fix it.

I had a set of records from the collection I received from my dad’s mom which I still had not listened to. I wanted to hear this particular set before we sold the record player since this set of records played an important role in my family’s heritage:

Record Set

As a teenager, my dad was often tasked with watching out for his younger brother. Uncle Phil really enjoyed listening to this account of how God used the lives and deaths of Pete Fleming, Jim Elliot, Ed McCully, Nate Saint and Roger Youderian to reach a group of people in Ecuador who had not yet heard the Gospel. Both my dad and Uncle Phil remember listening to this account over and over. Both of them became missionaries, due in part, to the examples of these five men. I had heard from my dad and Uncle Phil about this record set and the impact it had on their lives, but I had never taken the time to listen to it until just recently. When I think of how God used my experiences as a missionary kid to shape me, I am thankful for the impact God allowed this record set to have in my dad’s life.

Now and then, I search Google for “Elliot” or “Saint” to check on how the widow of Jim Elliot is doing and how the son of Nate Saint is faring. Recently, I found an interesting blog, ClearingCustoms, with a little update on both. This blog documents very well the sources used in writing the article, in case readers are interested in learning more about the lives and ministries of the Saint and Elliot families.

The above blog refers to Shadow of the Almighty The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot, by Elisabeth Elliot. In early February, we discovered Brody’s copy of this in a box in our garage, so I finally read it.

I was challenged by the lives and devotion of all the missionaries mentioned both on the record set and in Shadow of the Almighty. I also was encouraged by the epilogues quoted in the above-mentioned Clearing Customs blog.

My parents served the Piapoco tribe in Colombia as linguists and translators for most of the years in which they lived in Colombia. My parents’ main focus was to translate the New Testament into Piapoco and teach them to read and write. Early in my childhood, my family would travel to the Piapoco village two to three times per year and live with our Piapoco friends for four to six weeks at a time.

Living in their village during these times helped me know from a young age how simple life can be. When we stayed in the village, we lived as much like the Piapocos as possible. For example, we lived in a house made of mud and palm leaves,

Our Little House on the Colombian Prairie

my parents cooked over a wood fire,

Our Simple Kitchen

and we washed our clothes in a bucket with a toilet plunger to provide the agitation. Using the stove above was easier on my parents’ backs than using a fire on the ground level, and the bucket and toilet plunger system was easier than hauling our clothes down to the creek and back.

Clothes Washing Brigade

Washing Clothes in the Kitchen

My Piapoco friends had very, very few material possessions and few comforts that are so common in the the U.S. But, they still found joy in life.

Fun Times with Friends

Now and then, when I find myself tempted to complain about my life, I remember how difficult life is for most of the people of the world.

Dish Washing Time

Simply having clean, running water in my kitchen so I can cook and wash dishes is an unheard of luxury for the majority of the world.

And now for the connection to February! My parents recognized that living in the Piapoco village meant my brother and I would leave some of our luxuries behind at the missions center for those weeks. So, they instituted some traditions during our stays in the village so that, along with the difficulties unique to the visit, we also had some special, fun traditions unique to our time in the village.

Perhaps my favorite special tradition was to celebrate Valentine’s Day every other Sunday while we were in the village. All four of us made Valentine’s Day cards to exchange. My mom reused two heart-shaped cardboard candy boxes, one red, and one pink, both from Russell Stover, each “Valentine’s Sunday” to deliver a special candy bar to my brother and me. So, my brother and I grew up with multiple Valentine’s celebrations throughout the year. Perhaps that’s why both he and I still enjoy celebrating special days multiple times! Since he and his wife were matched on eharmony on the 17th of April in 2007, my brother celebrated the 17th of every month after that by giving her a gift!

Now that I’m married to Brody, we have the additional celebration of his birthday on Valentine’s Day. The first year that we were married, I didn’t want Valentine’s Day to overshadow his birthday. So, taking strips of paper and my calligraphy pen, I wrote out 25 reasons I loved him and then hid them, with a little bit of candy, all over the house and the car over the course of several days leading up to his birthday. His enthusiasm over finding the notes showed me that I had stumbled onto a great yearly tradition for us. Since then, I’ve planned the 14 Days of Birthday Celebrations from February 1 through the 14th each year.

Birthday and Valentine's Celebrations

As his diet has changed, I’ve had to prepare different goodies for him instead of buying him candy. One year, I developed the Birthday Danish recipe (page 164 in A Recipe for Survival.) At some point, I’ll take pictures of this recipe and post them; for now, here’s a much more healthful recipe….  🙂

BEST Brussels Sprouts

BEST Brussels Sprouts

Your taste buds will rave!

1) Wash and halve the sprouts.

2) Melt enough coconut oil in a metal pie plate or something similar to coat both the sprouts and the pan.

3) Add the sprouts to the pan; stir to coat them in the oil. Add salt, freshly ground black pepper and 1 Tbsp lime juice.

4) Broil the sprouts until they are the desired color, stirring and turning them from time to time for even browning.

5) Enjoy the BEST Brussels Sprouts!


Our Short Lifespans and “Shorties”

Gluten-free Portable Shorties

Recently, Brody read The Conviction to Lead, by Albert Mohler. He read parts of it aloud to me and very few of Mohler’s points impacted me as much as his reminder of our short lifespans.  He shared in this book that he keeps a replica of a human skull on his writing desk to remind himself of the passing of time. What a great reminder! Our short time on earth will soon be over. I was challenged to consider what I’m doing with the rest of my time before eternity begins for me.

This year, I’ll turn 39, and since my mom passed away before she was 49, I recently wondered if I, too, had entered my last decade. In reality, any one of us could enter eternity at any moment as a strong earthquake reminded me a couple of weeks ago. Just as I can’t control the shaking of the earth, so also I do not have any control over the length of my life. I’m glad that the One who does control all things is good and righteous, and therefore, can be trusted.

So teach us to number our days
That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12

May I live more wisely each day, with the Lord’s help, applying His Word to my life.

Some years ago, I visited a friend in Asia. While there, I loved sampling the local cuisine. My favorite item was a snack, often served with tea, or carried on a day trip as a bite of on-the-go nourishment. I tasted a few different varieties, but they all had three things in common:

1) a filling of spicy meat

2) a breading holding it all together

3) a very cute appearance, either little cylinders, roughly 2″ in length or little cakes, roughly 2″ in diameter.

The tasty treats were either baked or fried and I still remember them fondly these 8 years later!

One day toward the end of my visit, my friend’s friend invited us to stop by for tea. I honestly thought I knew what these treats had been called in previous days. But, when my friend heard me say for the second or third time, “Please pass the shorties,” she whispered in my ear, “They’re called “Short Eats.” I was a little embarrassed, but not too much since I thought “Shorties” were an appropriate name – perhaps more fitting – due to the cute factor of the tasty treats’ appearances.

Recently, I had fun making my own version of Shorties, and thought I’d share the results with you.

I started with my Chicken Curry recipe, and then used my Tortilla recipe (page 115 in A Recipe for Survival) or Naan recipe to enclose the meat. The lighting in this photo didn’t show the deep color from the turmeric very well; I’m still figuring out the best ways to photograph the yummy food. It always tastes better than it looks!

Gluten-free Chicken Curry

The first time I made the Shorties, I melted some coconut oil in a frying pan and then tried to roll out my tortilla recipe.

Gluten-free Tortilla Dough

But, since I experimented with coconut oil as a replacement for some of the butter in the dough, the tortillas fell apart much more quickly due to the lower melting point of the coconut oil.

Tortilla preparation

Rolling out Tortillas

I also tried rolling out a rectangular shape of the dough in order to slice the long Shorty into many small Shorties.

Shorties Prep

That didn’t work out really well, so I tried making a little rectangle and making the Shorties individually.

Wrapping up Shorties

After a few attempts, I found the fastest way was to follow the basic pattern I used when making Birthday Danish (pages 164-166 in A Recipe for Survival.) I rolled out one circle of dough, added a little filling and then placed another round bit of dough on top of it, pinched the edges together and eased the Shorty off the counter and into the hot oil.

Filling Shorties

Frying Little Shorties

Frying More Little Shorties

I quickly gave up my attempts to make the Shorties super cute for a tea, and chose to make larger ones that still tasted great and took less time to create.Frying Larger Shorties

My neighbor answered my call for help to photograph my progress for the blog so I wouldn’t smear tortilla dough and chicken curry all over my camera. She suggested that some fresh cilantro would taste yummy with the Shorties; we tried it and loved it! Thanks to my friend and also to Brody for their help in the photography!

A few days later, I used the Naan recipe to make a different version of Shorties.

Shorties in Abundance

The bottom of anything made with the Naan recipe browns very nicely compared to the top.

Baked Shorties

Some tasty tea, cashew nuts and fresh fruit rounded out our mini meal of Shorties. My friend and I enjoyed the fruit of our labors and then shared them with our hubbies.

Shorties and Tea - a Great Mini Meal

These portable and nourishing snacks have a very short lifespan in our home!