Sunday, February 28, 2010


My Grandmother is 91. When I was little, she was old. She's always been old. I remember when she would go out on my great-uncle's fishing boat for the day with my Grandpa. I remember thinking, "Someone needs to tell her she's too old to do that. That's not safe." She was in her 60's... I guess that seemed old when I was 8.

She has always had gray hair that my mom would put in rollers for her. Little pokey black rollers with metal brush-hairs to keep her short little hair nicely fluffy. She was super cute. My mom would stand behind her, and Grandma, seated and holding the bag of rollers in her lap, would pass them over her shoulder, one at a time, to my mom.

Grandma loved going shopping with my Grandpa. They would just spend the day tooling around and eating at Bob's Fish and Chips on Hamilton Road. Some days they'd pick up Mary Brown's Chicken to eat at home on TV trays, watching a Blue Jays game.

When my Grandpa was dying of cancer, she cared for him at home, administering many, many pills and cooking several meals a day trying to find something, anything that would taste good to my Grandpa. And when he would fall asleep in his hospital cot they had set up in the guest room, Grandma would sleep on the single guest bed, holding his hand through the hospital bed bars. Then in the morning, Grandpa would say "Mary, I think there's room up here for you if I squeeze over a bit." And so, they'd have a little snuggle before starting another day of pills and no appetite.

When my Grandpa died of his cancer, my Grandma said, "I'll never be as happy again as I was with Ed, but I'll be as happy as I can."

Somewhere during these last 15 years since Grandpa died, Grandma forgot that optimistic outlook. Grandma has forgotten quite a bit, actually.

And so, as she is forgetting where she put her keys ("There, on your wrist on the elastic, Grandma, like they always are."), or when she moved into this new apartment ("19 months ago, Grandma"), or why she can't go home ("Well, you sold the house a decade ago, Grandma"), or even if she ate breakfast, lunch, and supper today, my Mom and Dad, and my aunt and uncle are caring for her and honouring her in the most tireless, loving, compassionate way.

My pastor recently looked at the fifth commandment, as we have been studying the Ten Commandments, in which we are called to Honour our fathers and mothers. My Mom is doing a brilliant job of honouring her mom in these, potentially, last days for my Grandma. She visits almost everyday (except for the days my uncle visits), does her laundry (even though the staff at Grandma's home would do it...Grandma just feels strange letting strangers touch her laundry), answers dozens of phone calls a day some days, and takes homemade cookies and fresh fruit for her to nibble on when she can't remember that she's eaten today. She even still does my Grandma's hair up in rollers, even though now, for the first time in decades, my Grandma is too tired to pass the rollers over her shoulder. She often falls asleep in the chair while my Mom puts her hair up.

What is remarkable to me in all this is not that my Mom is loving her mom so beautifully. That's not surprising. What is surprising is how she is able to consistently serve her with patience and love even when my Grandma gets tired and cranky and ungrateful. And even when my Grandma forgets who my Mom is. Somehow, my Grandma remembers that she has a daughter named Linda. She just can't connect the fact that this lady who comes every day, is her daughter Linda. My Mom just puts on a brave face and reminds her. "I am your Linda, Mom. I am your Linda." And even when Grandma forgets and calls her by another name, or asks my Mom, "When will Linda come and see me?" for the hundredth time, my Mom still honours her, and loves her, and serves her.

When I ask her why she keeps going and how she keeps going, my Mom just smiles and says, "My Mom has taken such good care of me for so long, and put up with me when I was sick, and cranky, and grumpy, and ungrateful, and undeserving of being loved. She is a woman who deserves to be honoured. She's my Mom."

Lord, make me a woman who is humble enough and others-centered enough to honour other women in my life. And make me a mother who is easy for her kids to honour as I age because of how I cared for them in their early years. I pray my daughters and my sons would honour me because I have earned and kept their genuine love and admiration, not merely their biblical duty. And bless my Mom and Dad today in a special way, giving them endurance and longsuffering as they sacrificially care for my Grandma. And for the other women I know who are caring for their eldery parents, Lord I pray for them too, that you would give them an extra measure of mercy and patience as they love those you've entrusted to them.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Foodie Friday

This recipe is for my dear friend Laurie, who has been patiently waiting for me to post this somewhere. I made this for her and her fantastic family on her birthday, which was also New Year's Eve and our joint Resolution Run, my first ever 5km. She is such a delight to me. Truly a kindred heart.

This is one of our favourite recipes: Enchilada Casserole.

So first some disclaimers: I will type the recipe as written but you need to know that I always think it is going to be too dry and that there won't be enough sauce to satisfy me, so I add a can of diced tomatoes, or a jar of salsa. (that's what I did with you, Laurie). But sometimes then, it serves up really sloppy, so use your discretion. Or make two and stick one of them in the freezer and compare! My changes will be in italics.

Enchilada Casserole from the London Free Press

3 cups Red Chile Sauce (see below)
12 Corn tortillas (I use 6 large Whole Grain Tortillas)
3 cups cubed, cooked chicken (we also like it with cooked ground beef, or for a vegetarian version, a mix of Black Beans and Kidney Beans)
(We add some frozen corn and diced green or red pepper here too)
1 pound (500 g) Monterey Jack or Mozzarella Cheese (or old cheddar)
1 1/2 cups diced onion (sometimes I omit this as the kids aren't wild onion fans)
2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
1 1/2 cups diced tomato
1 1/2 cups light sour cream

Preheat oven to 350F; lightly grease a 9x13 pan.

Spread one cup of sauce over bottom of pan. Layer 2 Tortillas overlapping as necessary.

Layer chicken, 1/3 of the cheese, and 1/2 the onion, and cover with some sauce. Repeat layers of Tortillas, chicken, cheese, onion (add the diced peppers and corn here too, if using), and sauce. Cover with remaining two tortillas, remaining sauce, and remaining cheese.

Bake 25-30 minutes, or until bubbly and hot through. Serve with lettuce, diced tomato, and sour cream as garnish. (We also like to top with diced avocado and sliced black olives)
Serves 8-10

Red Chile Sauce
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup finely diced onion
1 tbsp minced garlic
3-4 tbsp red chile powder
2 tbsp flour
2 1/2 cup water
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin

Heat the oil. Saute onion and garlic 3-4 minutes. Stir in chile powder and flour. Slowly add the water and cook until thickening. Add oregano and cumin. Bring to a quick boil. Simmer 1-2 minutes. Salt to taste. (Add a jar of salsa, or diced tomatoes before simmering if desired)

We LOVE this. Love love love it. To be fancy and pretty sometime, you can also make this in a springform pan. Just for sure don't add the extra jars to the sauce then. You will want it drier for certain. Just stack the tortillas one at a time in your 10 inch springform pan and you have a really impressive Towering Enchilada Pie (or at least, that's what I'd call it!) :-)

Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Thank you, Mr. Chambers

My intention is to read through "My Utmost For His Highest" by Oswald Chambers in the mornings. Sometimes, I get behind. Like this week. However, I find it interesting that often the weeks that I get behind and I choose to "catch up" on the reading, the devotional reading that I missed speaks right to what I've been thinking about or hearing about elsewhere. And so it was today.

Our church is doing an 11 week sermon series on the Ten Commandments, which has been incredibly thought-provoking and action changing for me. I found that this selection from "My Utmost" on February 12th really tied up some loose thought-ends for me. It is a bit of a lengthy read for a blog, but please read his words and tell me what you think.

We don't consciously and deliberately disobey God--we simply don't listen to Him. God has given His commands to us, but we pay no attention to them--not because of willful disobedience, but because we do not truly love and respect Him. "If you love Me, keep My commandments (John 14:15)." Once we realize we have constantly been showing disrespect to God, we will be filled with shame and humiliation for ignoring Him.

"You speak with us, ...but let not God speak with us..." (Ex. 20:19) We show how little love we have for God by preferring to listen to His servants rather than to Him. We like to listen to personal testimonies, but we don't want God Himself to speak to us. Why are we so terrified for God to speak to us? It is because we know that when God speaks we must either do what He asks or tell Him we will not obey. But if it is simply one of God's servants speaking to us, we feel obedience is optional, not imperative. We respond by saying, "Well, that's only your own idea, even though I don't deny that what you said is probably God's truth."

Am I constantly humiliating God by ignoring Him, while He lovingly continues to treat me as His child? Once I finally hear Him, the humiliation I have heaped on Him returns to me. My response then becomes, "Lord, why was I so insensitive and obstinate?" This is always the result once we hear God. But our real delight in finally hearing Him is tempered with the shame we feel for having taken so long to do so."

What do you think? Are you obeying His commandments knowing that that is in a very large, primary part, how He speaks to you? Are you asking Him *not* to speak to you hoping to hear only from other people or books or podcasts that you could ignore if you wanted to? Or are you just not listening at all, hoping that you have enough of your spiritual walk figured out that you don't need guidance? Those are hard questions to consider, and certainly ones that drive me to my knees in prayer as I examine my own heart.

Lord, build in me the love for your law, and a delight in your word that I have not previously known. Let me rest in the truth that your Word is more than enough, speaking to my every need and question. Help me to be not only a hearer of your Word but a doer, effectively living out Your principles in this watching world.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Simple Woman's Daybook

Outside My Window... Still pretty pitch black out there.

I am Thinking... about my good weekend, and hoping to carry that optimism into the coming week.

I am Thankful For... a husband who went for a run with me yesterday (even though I *really* didn't want to) and for his pushing me to run just a little farther than I meant to so that I can now say I have run 6.3km in a row, without stopping, for the first time in my life!

From the Kitchen... coffee, but no cream in the fridge, so a spoonful (or 4!) of hot chocolate mix stirred in to get my brain functioning.

I am Wearing... a groovy, funky, soft and sleak, and fluffy poncho thing that my mom knit for me several years ago that simultaneously makes me feel sophisticated and like curling up for a nap.

I am Creating... some kids with really weird senses of humour!

I am Going... to need to hurry and finish this blog because the kids are all awake!

I am Reading... The Brothers Karamazov and can't put it down. And realizing I totally would have skipped over hundreds of pages of it if I ever had to read it in a school course.

I am Hoping... to finally get lyrics to this song I'm trying to write. Seriously about to throw it out the window! :-)

I am Hearing... a remarkable peace and quiet in a house of this many children.

Around the house... laundry day!

One of my favourite things... seeing my husband and oldest girl enjoy a cup of tea and bible study together on the couch.

A Few Plans for the Rest of the Week... a lovely dinner guest, a trip to the library, and lots of laughter (hopefully!)

A Picture thought I'm Sharing...(wistfully waiting for a spring day like this!)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays -- Patriotic Edition

The complicating aspect of today's video is that all the women featured are seriously Wow-ful. I mean, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't even be able to stand up on a snowboard, let alone go down that mountain with out crashing face first within the first 1/10th of a second. These women are fantastic!

Mind you, I'm particularly thrilled with our Golden Canadian Gal, Maelle Ricker, and her incredible lead, and her incredibly sweet character in her post race interview.

So sit back, and enjoy this fantastic race! Go Canada! Go Olympics!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Heart Of the Matter Article -- Unqualified

In those exciting pre-Christmas shopping days, my family and I went to the mall. Mind you we were not shopping for others…oh no; we were quite happily, selfishly buying a new bedspread for the lovely bed my husband just built for us (yeah!).

But I digress; the shopping isn’t the point. The shopping is only the reason we happened to be out ‘in the world’ where homeschooling moms get blasted. You know that verse in Proverbs 31–”they will praise her in the city gates” –that must not include the local department store.

After a few beautiful comments on the number and appearance and behavior of my children, one lady decided to give me her opinion on the fact that we homeschool. Now I’m used to many categories of comments and criticisms, as I’m sure you are. Typically it is “Oh I could never do that”, “You must be so patient and organized”, ” What about socialization?” and so on. But for what I think was the first time, I heard “What qualifications do you have to teach your children?”


Please read the rest of my latest Heart of the Matter Online article here.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Foodie Fridays

We are going for fast, easy, delicious and three ingredients today. Perfect, yes?

Potatoes are a serious staple in our house. My burst of happy happy on Saturdays comes from my ability to buy 50 pounds of potatoes for $10 at our local farmers' market. One day I scored 100 pounds for $15!!! I quite nearly did a back flip of joy...nearly. Not literally. Inside I was cartwheeling. You just couldn't see my inner gymnast that day.

Did you know, that potatoes are higher in potassium than the world famous potassium hog "bananas"? And did you know that if you ate enough calories to sustain yourself daily in potatoes alone, you would exceed the daily requirements for protein? Don't be fooled into thinking that you can't be healthy and strong by eating a vegetarian diet, or by eating carbs like taters. They are brilliant. Not to mention the most versatile "vegetable" in existence. (I know, it isn't technically a veggie. It is a tuber, but still...)

My daughter and I sat down one day and made a list of all the recipes I make with potatoes, and realized we could eat potatoes in a different form every night for supper for a WHOLE MONTH without repeating! Genius. And for the pennies it costs to buy them, it isn't a bad idea to try out.

Without further ado: Fan Potatoes!

You need:

** a baking dish with sides (I use my 9x13 glass pan...okay, who am I kidding: we use two pans)
** as many potatoes as that pan will hold (assuming you are cooking for several folks)
** Zesty Italian Salad Dressing
** Parmasean Cheese

Holding the potato lengthwise on the cutting board, make several, thin, vertical slices into the potato, but not all the way through the potato. It will still be entact, but looking like a fan (that doesn't really want to open up very much). Place cut side up into your pan.

Repeat for all the remaining potatoes.

Pour Salad dressing over and in between the cuts on the potatoes (I use nearly a whole bottle for the 9x13 pan. I find it helps in flavour, thorough cooking, and lack of 'sticking-to-the-pan-ness' to have the dressing puddle around the base of the potatoes.)

Next, liberally sprinkle the potatoes with parmasean.

Bake in 375F oven for 45min to an hour, or until the potatoes are soft in the middle and crispy on top, and browning beautifully.

I find these are really forgiving potatoes. If you need your oven hotter (or cooler)for some thing else you are cooking, they are happy to cook in even a 350F to 425F oven. Just watch the times and check them often.

We serve these as an entree with a big salad and steamed veggies, but clearly they would be delicious with anything...roast beef, chicken etc. We have even done these on the BBQ come summer time and they work there too.

The best part? If you can make enough to ensure leftovers, they fry up to make the most insanely yummy homefries for breakfast the next day. Just slice them or dice them, fry them up, and YUM! :-)

Here is a link to the original recipe that I don't look at anymore :-)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays

Every so often, I regret calling this feature Wow-ful Women Wednesdays. It kind of puts the emphasis on the wrong thing some weeks. Okay, so you could watch this video today and notice the brilliant voice and stage presence of this lady, and you would be right and justified in doing so. But this is really another week when you should just listen to the words and let them permeate your very being. Isn't this the Word you need today?

It is Jesus, our God of the Ages who is our life, our healer, our righteousness, our hope, our everything! Any thing good or "wow-ful" in Darlene Zschech, or in you, or in me, or in any other person I've ever highlighted here is only a gift from this God of Ages.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Simple Woman's Daybook

Outside My Window... Hmm....I have no idea. I suppose I should open the blinds and let the sun in!

I am Thinking... about obedience, and what a complicated thing motives can be.

I am Thankful For... kids who make each other's beds without prompting, just to be kind.

From the Kitchen... millet cooked in apple juice with strawberries and soy milk for breakfast, and a crock pot full of turkey noodle soup for lunch.

I am Wearing... a pair of jeans that I never would have imagined would actually fit, and a cowl neck sweater that I used to think fit when I weighed 20 pounds more than I do now, which is making me realize I must have looked like a sausage when I wore it previously.

I am Creating... a positive character for a Sunday skit.

I am Going... to buy toilet paper today.

I am Reading... Hunchback of Notre is taking some serious brain power that I may have lost in my 3rd pregnancy.

I am Hoping... for Spring sooner than later.

I am Hearing... my boy making farm animal sounds.

Around the house... a notable lack of clutter. Yay for productive Saturdays!

One of my favourite things... seeing my 6 year old and 3 year old play an old-fashioned card game of War on the floor with their toes touching.

A Few Plans for the Rest of the Week... hanging out with some really excellent single ladies!

A Picture thought I'm Sharing...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Thinking Back to the Most Beautiful Blizzard.

Today my baby turns two. It has made me flashback to the details of his birth and the lessons the Lord taught me at that time. I realize that reading birth stories is not everyone's cup of tea, so feel free to skip this link if you want to. Maybe reading someone's birth story would be highly unhelpful and hurtful to you today, and I don't mean to stir up any painful memories for anyone. However, Zachary's birth stirred up a lot of ugliness in my heart too, at the time, and I am grateful today for the reminder of what the Lord showed me through the details of Zach's arrival, and all that led up to it.

So if you are interested, please join me in reliving this day in history.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Wow-ful Women Wednesdays

Natalie Grant? Again? Oh yes. I really think this woman has the most stunning voice and such a range of styles of music she can pull off really convincingly, which says to me, that she really appreciates the complexities of many styles of music. That, to me, says a lot about a musician. Love it.

However, today's song choice is so much more about message. And truthfully, when I first heard this song on the radio, I understood the message much differently than is presented by the visuals in the video. So maybe listen once with eyes closed ad once with eyes open to see what story you would put to the words.

There are many folks in my life right now who are in very complicated places emotionally. These families and individuals are looking to the Lord for their strength and their hope in seemingly impossible situations. Heartbreak of every kind. And yet in it, they are saying, "Still, I believe God is good. I believe God is in control. I believe we'll get through this."

On the other hand, there are many folks in my life who are on the other side of it. They've come through the fire, shining like Silver, and saying, "See, God is good. God always was in control. He got us through it."

Whichever side of a trial you stand on today, here is the truth you need to hear: in God's hands, in the loving arms of Jesus, is the only rest and hope and strength that will not fail.