Thursday, April 2, 2015

Signs of Spring

EVEN THOUGH it is only about 42 degrees out this morning, my heart is happy.

The sun is shining, there are birds singing, there is a soft strong breeze in the air. The pollywogs have become frogs hopping across the roads at night. A little haze of green is beginning to appear over the top of the lawn. And we had our first thunderstorm yesterday, complete with pouring rain, shocking lightning, and BOOMING thunder.

Big smile.

Spring is good for many reasons, but today it's good because of what it does to my soul. I've been set free from the prison of winter!

Ahhhhh.

Thank you, God.

One of these spring days my Fair One is going to call me away...

*     *     *     *     *

My beloved spake, and said unto me, 
Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.
For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone;
The flowers appear on the earth; 
the time of the singing of birds is come, 
and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;
The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, 
and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. 
Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.
Song of Solomon 2:10-13

Saturday, March 21, 2015

My Amazing Mom


After living in this home for nearly four years, I am finally putting stuff on the walls. My mom's stuff. Someday she is going to be famous, and I don't want to be one of those people who has had famous people's stuff stashed in the attic for decades and it goes to Goodwill by accident, and some smart thrift shopper recognizes it as a masterpiece and buys it for $5.

(Thanks, Mom! It's starting to look like a home in here!)

If you're in the SoCal area, see her work at the huge South Bay Lexus Service Center,
14074_1032025030147316_1692502802529934139_n.jpg

 Or visit Tustin in April, to see her work in the Chemers Gallery/TAFCA 8th Annual Juried Exhibit. :)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Can I Just Say...


I LOVE BOOTS.

Other than a pair of white go-go boots that I had in 6th grade, 2014 winter was the first time I ever wore boots as shoes. I mean real boots, boots that are not clunky Sorrel snow boots.Yes, despite my having lived for more than twenty years in northern climes, this is true. I just always put off buying them. Last fall I bought a second pair of real boots, combining all my Kohls coupons and deals, for $6 and no guilt.

About this time last year I lamented the return of warm weather for this reason only: I had to find something else to wear on my feet. I must have managed, but I don't remember how I solved my dilemma.

This year, what shall I do, what shall I do? I'm beyond wearing tennies with everything, as I did when I was a young (and not-so-young) mom, too tired and frumpy to care about fashion sense. Now that I'm one of the older women who are supposed to be teaching younger women "good things" a la Titus 2, I'm trying not to be quite so frumpy.

To go from boots to sandals means wearing boots until at least June, or wearing flip flops while the temperature is still only 45. Is there something in between? Something that looks okay with a skirt? And that is comfortable but not frumpy? And that can be worn with bare legs?

Speaking of bare legs, there's another reason I love boots.

Shaving.

I LOVE BOOTS.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Most Awesome Kid Award


This is my Amy, whom I've neglected on this blog ever since she graduated from high school and deserved her own personal blog post about all her awesome accomplishments in her short life. I am going to fix that right here.

This kid is the one who sees something around here needing to be done, and she does it. That is, in between doing things for OTHER people, when she is home long enough. I know it looks like she is doing some serious spelunking in this photo, and she kind of is. She is actually under the stairs, which, she says, is slightly less exciting than a cave, but almost as messy. I reluctantly gave her permission to clean out under there and throw away anything I haven't looked at in four years. It was hard to let her do that. I might need something, like a nutcracker or a roll of heavy brown paper. Anyway, a couple hours later she emerged with two rotten bed pillows, three large empty totes, a box of forgotten stuffed animals, the decorative pillows that came with our comforter set and were carefully arranged on our bed for about three days, and seven ancient, mostly empty buckets of latex paint, which all went out to the garage for the trash pickup. I can actually see to the back of the stairwell now.

This is the kid who has a waiting list of mom employers who want her services. She cleans, cooks, changes diapers, herds large groups of children, cleans up vomit and poop and spilled milk, and loves on babies. She treats moms to good coffee and adult conversation. She teaches 'tween girls how to be a blessing to others and makes everyone feel special. She gives weary moms a rest from screaming babies, laundry, climbing stairs, mopping floors, and needy toddlers. Her vehicle of choice, when she has the money to buy her own, is a 12- or 15-passenger van. She will taxi small people to the park, the skating rink, to Culvers, or to the lake with a trailer full of kayaks. Maybe she will even bring a bunch of kids to church. :)

This is the kid everybody loves, the one whose absence her sisters mourn and whose company is sought out by kids all over town, as well as by her real and virtual adult friends.  

This is the kid who does dishes mostly without being asked. I did ask her to do them last night because I was feeling rotten, and because she is the one I can always count on to answer, "Sure, Mom!" with a happy heart. This is a kid I can trust to make good choices about her companions and her entertainment. 

This kid is a BLESSING.


This is not the kid I raised.


The kid I raised made me pull my hair out in frustration! How many times I cried to the Lord, "WHAT WILL I DO WITH THIS CHILD?!?!?!" If I had only known that Jesus had her in his hands and that he was actively ordering her life, I might have been able to relax. (More likely I would have asked the Lord if he was sure he knew what he was doing.) The kid I raised was boldly rebellious. Immediately after telling her to sit still in church, she would stand up backwards in the pew with a big grin, and wave at all the people. The kid I raised screamed about her school work and raised fits over what was on her dinner plate. The kid I raised put a big hole in her bedroom door. (She just now admitted it.) Her rebellion was all right out in front. At least a parent couldn't be fooled. The hard part was consistently doing something about it.

No, this isn't the kid I raised.


This kid I have now is the kid Jesus raised.


Amy trusted Jesus Christ as her Saviour. At the end of that summer, I had a different child. God took the child I raised and made her a new creature with a new heart. I didn't deserve to get her back like this, but here she is, a kid who loves God and his word. A kid who gives generously of her treasure and her time, her talents and passions. A kid who daily blesses her family and everyone else in town.

I love you, Amy. Today you are my favorite kid. ♥ (Well, one of them.)

And thank you, Jesus.


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Kettle Corn Perfected


So I'm back already. Despite the fact that no one reads my blog any more (because I don't post anything), I must post this recipe for kettle corn. Some day when I am dead and gone one of my adult kids is going to say, "Remember that kettle corn our dear, precious Mom used to make? That was soooo good. I wonder how she made it?" and her sister is going to say, "I don't know, but it's probably on her blog." So here it is.  

One of our homeschool co-op kids, Bailey, brings homemade kettle corn to sell, and it is reeeally good. I was not successful at getting the recipe from her (I wouldn't give it away, either, if I were trying to make money off it), so I started experimenting. I went to Google and looked for a best-ever recipe, and here's what I came up with:

1/4 C coconut oil
1/4 C sugar
1/2 C popcorn
salt to taste

And that is good. Really good. But it's not Bailey's. The finished product has crunchy pieces of sugar in it. Bailey's kettle corn doesn't. Hers is perfectly smooth, and uniformly but subtly sweet, and absolutely, deliciously DELICIOUS. 

So I changed the Googled "best-ever" recipe up a bit:

1/4 C coconut oil
1/3 C powdered sugar
1/2 C popcorn
salt to taste

Ah, perfection!

Here's how:

Use a large saucepan with a lid. Revereware is great. I don't have that, so I pulled out the heaviest-bottomed pan I own, other than the cast-iron skillet. Put the coconut oil in the pan over medium heat, along with 3 kernels of popcorn, and put the lid on. When the third kernel pops, add the rest of the kernels plus the powdered sugar. Stir it up quick, and put the lid back on. Alternate shaking the pan above the burner with letting it sit on the burner for about 3 seconds at a time. Keep this muscle action up for the next five minutes or so, or until you don't hear so much popping. Sugar burns quickly, so you have to keep it moving, and I stop before the last kernels are done. Pour magically transformed popcorn into a large bowl, sprinkle with salt to you liking, and enjoy. Get your share before the family comes running, or you might not get any at all. You night have to make a second batch so your husband can take some in his lunch the next day when he goes to work, like I did.

I think Bailey does have one secret, though. I won't give that away here. Don't want to make competition for her!

*   *   *

About the coconut oil. I used the regular, cold-pressed, unrefined stuff. This doesn't handle heat as well as the refined oil, so I kept the heat at medium. If you use refined coconut oil you can turn the heat up to med-high.  And either way, the finished kettle corn does not taste like coconut.

*   *   *

Maybe they can even make this in Russia. Camille? (One of my very few faithful readers, I see you out there. ♥ Love to your family!)
*   *   *

Wasn't God wonderful to give us stuff like coconut and corn and salt? And even some sweet stuff? And to give men the brains and creativity to figure out what to do with it? God's amazing. (But of course he is.)

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Annual Blogger

Welcome back!

What can I say? I'm guilty of keeping you all in high suspense for more than a year now. Oh wait, it's only been four months or so. Well, call me the Annual Blogger anyway.

That doesn't mean nothing's happening or that I am totally unable to think any more. Lots of things are happening, and I am still able to do sixth grade math, so all is not lost.

I have actually kept a short list of blog fodder, things like:

My review of ACE (admittedly not applied according to the instructions.)


One great benefit of testing (hindsight from someone who does as little testing as possible.)




Piano lessons by coercion. (Long-ago but not too long ago quote from coerced child, "​​Making kids pay for piano lessons they don't want to take is like making people pay for Obamacare." Ouch. She had a point! The child's appeal was approved.)

The fact that sometimes when your kid feels tortured because you are making her do the "hard thing", she has no idea that you are being tortured right along with her.


And the fact tha​t it can be difficult to discern whether your children are growing up or growing out.


And how forcing my kids (and myself) to fulfill a commitment to a public speaking co-op many years ago was one of the best mom decisions I ever made.

And what, exactly, are the fine lines between "dating" and "courtship" and "friendship". (Somebody tell me, does that period belong inside the quote mark or outside?)


And how being in the ministry is making me an introvert. (I don't think that's what's supposed to happen.)


And how much I love my husband. You're a very good man, Mr. Diamonds-in-the-Rough.

And how, at the moment, I am really fighting the fleshly discontented-with-winter-and-really-looking-forward-to-spring bug, even though winter really hasn't been too bad this year.

How did this get in here? Having a flashback.


And how much I still appreciate this blog post right HERE, even though we've been doing this for years and years.

So you see I do still think about things. I just don't write everything down any more.

Aren't we all growing up?!

I'll be back, maybe even before 2015 comes to a close...
  
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,
and cometh down from the Father of lights,
with whom is no variableness,
neither shadow of turning.
James 1:17

For I am the LORD, I change not.
Malachi 3:6
 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

http://www.papercraftmemories.com/p/free-wordart-files.html#.VHJNi2feN4E
Happy Thanksgiving Day to each and every one! It's a wonderful day here in the Johnson house. We began our Thanksgiving dinner with prayer and a verse of "Thank You, Lord". The roast (yes, ROAST BEEF) filled the house with fabulous olfactory stimulation. It's been a few years since we have had a roast, and wow, maybe it won't be quite so long before the next one! There was something special on the table for everyone: for Pastor J, the roast and gravy; for Alison, the sweet potato and marshmallow thing; for Amy, my mom's glazed carrots and my famous make-ahead mashed potatoes; for Betz, pineapple cole slaw; and for Emily, homemade bread that didn't make it to the table. (It's hard to make bread when one is out of yeast. I thought I had some in a clear bag in the freezer. Turns out the content of said bag are a mystery ingredient.) There was no bread, but there was a free apple pie from Costco and some ice cream to top it off. 

After dinner, my sweet husband presented all of us ladies with a beautifully written card, and gifts, too, for the girls. I never have anything meaningful for him. :(  So I am working on something for next year already. That is a secret, since he reads this blog (when there is something to read.) 

It's so nice to have everyone home today. ♥ Those of us who are home-bodies (that would be Betz and Em and I) have especially missed Alie, because she is gone so much of the time. When she is not at work or teaching violin or hanging out at work after her shift, and not hidden away in her room using her iPhone, she is a whirlwind of joy and happiness, so her absence is noticed. Pastor J is working loooong hours, which has messed up our normal supper schedule; and we never know if our beloved Amy will be home for supper. So it was very good to have everyone around the table laughing together today. 

Things have sure changed over the years. I no longer have a child or two who says each year that she is thankful for a warm bed and blankets. The things the girls appreciate now are things like good preaching, personally meaningful Bible verses, co-workers, missionary friends, laughter, and Caribou Coffee. 
Um, yeah, the tree trunk is the wrong color, but it's okay. And yeah, the leaves are all falling off, but autumn is over in MN anyway. Our leaves have all fallen and blown to the next state. We really need to have Thanksgiving tree branches with snowflakes on them instead of leaves--hey, there's an idea for next year.
Personally, I am especially grateful to the Lord this year for my wonderful husband. He knows that love is a VERB and not a FEELING, and he practices every single day.  I am grateful to him for taking "for better or for worse" seriously, and never giving up on me. I am grateful for the Lord putting my husband into the ministry, and for the things that God teaches us together over the years. I am also thankful today for the remnant of brain tissue that remains in my head, for dirty dishes and laundry, and for snow. And later this evening, I will be really thankful for an afternoon nap... 

Bless the Lord for his unfailing mercy, grace, and love.



Charge them that are rich in this world, 
that they be not highminded,
nor trust in uncertain riches,
but in the living God,
who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;
1 Timothy 6:17

Sunday, September 21, 2014

As one daughter posted recently, "How many newspapers in the country get a column on how to be saved?!" It's a blessing that the local paper where our church meets invites area pastors to contribute a regular column. We see many "Focus on Faith" articles about being a nice person and about life's problems, but never one about how to be eternally saved--unless my pastor husband wrote it. In this geographical area that is steeped with religion, maybe the pastors think everyone is safe from judgment, so they don't bother to address that. Or maybe the pastors don't tell how to be saved because they don't know how. The fact is, lots of people here, probably the majority, are leaning on their baptism. That's convenient--baptismal regeneration eliminates the discomfort of repentance and a personal relationship with the Savior, Jesus Christ. It also doesn't produce any new creatures whose "old things have passed away." Christ's name is well-known here, but is He?


LEAD pastor, mind you. Now that is funny! :)


And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.
Acts 13:49
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