Tag Archives: Christianity

Recipe: Little Smart Boys….Saucy Apples

I just made this recipe day before yesterday. In the interest of full disclose I usually add half brown sugar and half white sugar. In the end, how much sugar you add depends on the tartness of the apple and your own personal taste.

Not only is this a great applesauce. But warm over ice cream it becomes a fabulous apple sundae.

The Swedish Farmer's Daughter

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It seems like forever ago that I was a Christian preschool teacher.  Our school served youngsters ages three to five.  Our enrollment was almost always full with a total capacity of 60 students per week.  I really loved each and every one of those precious children.

Preschool children do not have a lot of filters and can be very honest.  Some of the things shared with their teachers, I am sure would make their parents blush forever. If your little one has seen you without apparel chances are details of that experience have been or will be shared with an early childhood educator.

Little brains work very well and are fertile ground for both good and not so good.  What seems logical to a small child in may cases would give nightmares to most adults. Take for example these two five-year-old cousins.  These were good Minnesota boys…adorable, respectful, busy, smart and…

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What Is On My Mind Today: Culture Club, Victims and Earthly Angels

cancer infu

Seeing that Culture Club was playing at the State Fair brought back many memories.
Yes, I had several of their albums. Had being the operative word, I am pretty sure that my husband probably used them for target practice along with the Donny Osmond ones. 
 
My favorite Culture Club song probably was not played at the State Fair or been heard by many other people. The song is called, “Victims” it was released in 1983 the year that I lost the baby that would have been born the week of Thanksgiving. I always have thought that this child was another boy.
 
It was this pregnancy loss that spiraled me into the severe suicidal depression.
 
You see in 1983 AIDS was in the blood supply, but they still could not test for it. When I bled out from the in-uterine death, the doctors did not provide blood replacement as they did not want young mothers risking contracting AIDS from a transfusion. I ended up spending over a month in the young adult mental health ward at Abbott Northwestern Sister Kenny Institute. And, over a year on anti-depressants.
 
I was a participant in the trial for Xanax. And, I rode my exercise bike several thousand miles to make my body produce the endorphins needed to lift the depression. Ten miles every morning and ten miles every evening. Many times on that bike this song was playing in my headphones.  
I was off all meds for depression in just over a year.
Our daughter was born in 1988.
 
I  played this song a lot in 1983, and then again in 1989 when I was diagnosed with Thyroid cancer. 
 
Whether it is a mental health ward or an cancer infusion room, “the victims we know so well.” And, it is still, “sink or swim, like its always been.”
 
No matter what we must love the victims of our world. Our heavenly Father provided us with a perfect world with no victims, we mucked it up, not him.  
For all of the times that I have been victim, God has never left me or forsaken me.  Even when I could not see him, always saw me.  He has sent earthly angels time and time again to help see me through the battle.  Whatever that battle may have been.
This morning I am again going to be administered to by earthly angels….cancer nurses and the many volunteers that make the cancer battle easier and bearable.
 
Now, I am off to the infusion room at Regions. I am going to hang out with the victims for a while….I know them so well……
Here is a video of Culture Club performing this song. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OH6KApqmrBk

 
 
Victims
 
The victims we know so well
They shine in your eyes
When they kiss and tell
 
Strange places we never see
But you’re always there
Like a ghost in my dream
And I keep on telling you
 
Please don’t do the things you do
When you do those things
Pull my puppet strings
I have the strangest void for you
 
We love and we never tell
What places our hearts in the wishing well
Love leads us into the stream
And it’s sink or swim
Like it’s always been
 
And I keep on loving you
It’s the only thing to do
When the angel sings
There are greater things
Can I give them all to you
 
Oh, hmm
 
 
Pull the strings of emotion
Take a ride into unknown pleasure
Feel like a child on a dark night
Wishing there was some kind of heaven
I could be warm with you smiling
Hold out your hand for a while
The victims we know them so well
 
So well
Ah, ah
Ah, ah
 
The victims we know so well
They shine in your eyes when they kiss and tell
 
Strange places we never see
But you’re always there like a ghost in my dream
 
And I keep on telling you
Please don’t do the things you do
When you do those things, pull my puppet strings
I have the strangest void for you
 
Show my heart some devotion
Push aside those that whisper never
Feel like a child on a dark night
Wishing we could spend it together
 
I could be warm with you smiling
Hold out your hand for a while
The victims we know them so well, so well
Ooh
*********
May God open our eyes to the needs of the victims that touch our lives.  Let us see their need and make us earthly angels.
After all,  all of us will someday be a victim of something or someone and need an earthly angel.
Be an earthly angel.

Living With Cancer: It Is Well With My Soul

StormWaves_ItIsWellWithMySoul2_web
During and after five hours of chemo yesterday I had several people comment! “You poor woman!” My response delivered with a grin is generally, “Ahhhhhhh……..it could be worse.” In Pat language this can be translated to quote the title a hymn called……..”It is well with my soul.”
 
Long ago after Doug and I had lost our second baby and I was hospitalized for a suicidal depression for over a month. I had bled out and at that time there were no transfusion given as AIDS was in the blood supply. The huge loss of blood and hormone changes trigger the depression. Then, too, our insurance had no coverage at all for mental heath and oh how those bills were piling up.
 
During that darkness, I had many fellow Christians who professed to love me and God question me over and over again about what I could have done in my life for God to punish me so harshly. I was a twenty-year-old kid for Pete’s sake!
 
I remember receiving a phone call from out of the blue. It was a pastor from a nearby Lutheran church calling at random doing outreach. When he said his name I recognized it, he had been the pastor of the Lutheran church in Litchfield , MN where my three great aunts Doris, Hilda and Esther attended. I used to go with them whenever I stayed with Aunt Doris.
 
He was now the pastor of the Lutheran church nearest me in St. Paul. He was surprised he had not seen me at worship since I had lived here for months.
 
I told him I couldn’t. I was mad at God.
 
I told him the whole sorry story and when I finished I cried to him, “Try as I might I cannot understand why God hates me so….I had asked Jesus into my heart as a little girl, been a good kid, taken care of my grandma and grandpa, respected my elders even when I thought some of them were nuts, not only had I attended church regularly, I had been one of the first female ushers, and the first girl to light the altar candles, I had taught Sunday school since I was 15 years old, memorized the catechism, been a youth leader at church, never went to parties no matter how much I was mocked or bullied at school,
 
I had never drank alcohol or tried drugs. Up until recently I did even not swear, had been a virgin when I married, read my bible and prayed often.
 
Why am I being so punished? I know that I have not led a perfect life. Pastor caught me playing cards in the balcony with the guys when I held my cards too high and he spied them during his sermon and told me to hold them lower right from the pulpit. I once accidentally sprayed him with water when I had been demoted to dishwasher after the naked lady pancake incident during an Easter breakfast.
 
Ok, maybe soaking down a blushing pastor is a grievous sin. And, yes, it was also wrong to put the fox paw in the pocket of the cheerleader’s winter coat at school. Especially, since it was already several day’s old. But, she was such a bully and it was trapping season.
 
I know, I rarely obey speed limit signs and more than once opened a hunting season early when the temptation of a good shot got the better of me. I am far from perfect and know it.
 
But, God took my babies that I wanted so desperately and people all around me pop out kids they don’t want or are even kind too. I cannot come to church because I am so angry with God all I would do is sit in a pew and cry the whole time!”
 
Pastor Wallrod never made a sound as he patiently listened to my entire tirade. Then, his quiet deep voice drifted into my ear and went right to my brain. “Oh, Angel, (it was the nickname he had for me) God does not hate you. You are not being punished….what kind of a God do you have that would not understand the anger of a young woman who has had such a huge dose of this imperfect world. God is crying with you and for you. Come to my church Angel and cry and we will cry with you.”
 
On the phone that day he finished with, “to those “Christians” who reaped more grief and suffering upon you by saying your loving Heavenly Father has not only deserted you but is punishing you and then went about their lives leaving you to this struggle alone no less…….all I can say about them is if faith is never tested is there faith?”
 
“Angel, I will see you Sunday.”
 
He did.
 
He was standing in the doorway with a box of Kleenex, open arms and a bear hug.
 
At that moment I knew what it felt like to know that, it is well with my soul!
 
We were members of his church and after yet another pregnancy loss he eventually baptized our only daughter Aurora.
 
Aurora is Latin for dawn. Our daughter is named after the Psalm, “Weeping may endure the night, but joy comes with the dawn.”
—————
The hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul” was penned after traumatic events in the life of hymnist Horatio Spafford. The music was composed by Phillip Bliss.
 
The first catastrophic event was the death of Spafford’s son at the age of two. On the heels of that loss came the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which ruined him financially (he had been a successful lawyer and had invested significantly in property in the area of Chicago that was extensively damaged by the great fire). His business interests were further hit by the economic downturn of 1873, at which time he had planned to travel to Europe with his family on the SS Ville du Havre.
 
In a late change of plan, he sent the family ahead while he finished up some business concerning zoning problems following the Great Chicago Fire.
 
While crossing the Atlantic Ocean, the ship sank rapidly after a collision with a sea vessel, the Loch Earn, and all four of Spafford’s daughters died. His wife Anna survived and sent him the now famous telegram, “Saved alone”.
 
Shortly afterwards, as Spafford traveled to meet his grieving wife, he was inspired to write these words as his ship passed near where his daughters had die..Bliss called his tune Ville du Havre, from the name of the stricken vessel.
 
The Spaffords later had three more children. On February 11, 1880, their son, Horatio Goertner Spafford, died at the age of four, of scarlet fever. Their daughters were Bertha Hedges Spafford (born March 24, 1878) and Grace Spafford (born January 18, 1881). Their Presbyterian church regarded their tragedy as divine punishment.
 
In response, the Spaffords formed their own Messianic sect, dubbed “the Overcomers” by American press. In 1881, the Spaffords, including baby Bertha and newborn Grace, set sail for Ottoman-Turkish Palestine.
 
The Spaffords settled in Jerusalem and helped found a group called the American Colony. Colony members, later joined by Swedish Christians, engaged in philanthropic work among the people of Jerusalem regardless of their religious affiliation and without proselytizing motives—thereby gaining the trust of the local Muslim, Jewish, and Christian communities.
 
During and immediately after World War I, the American Colony played an important role in supporting these communities through a time of  great suffering by operating soup kitchens, hospitals, orphanages and other outreach initiatives. 
 
The colony later became the subject of the book Jerusalem written by the Nobel prize-winning author, Swedish novelist Selma Lagerlo.
 
The hymn “It Is Well With My Soul” was first published in Gospel Songs No. 2 by Ira Sankey and Bliss (1876).  It has become the favorite hymn for many Christians including me. 

It Is Well With My Soul
(Original lyrics)

 
When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to knowa
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
 
Refrain:
It is well, (it is well),
With my soul, (with my soul)
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
 
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
 
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
 
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
 
But Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.
 
And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
A song in the night, oh my soul!
 
“know” (at the end of the third line) was changed to “say”.”
A song in the night, oh my soul” (last line)
was changed to “Even so, it is well with my soul”.
Click on the link below to hear a most beautiful rendition of this heartrending hymn. 

 

 

 

 

What Is On My Mind Today? A Very Thoughtful and Delicious Gift

rhubarb-jam

Last week a friend of mine sent me the most wonderful and thoughtful gift.  She knew that I am not a jam maker so she made jam from several family recipes posted on my blog and added a few of her own.  Then, had them shipped to me.

There was Rhubarb Orange, Rhubarb-Pineapple-Raspberry, Zucchini Freezer, Apple and just for good measure she included a jar of Blueberry pancake jam.

Last night my dad called and said that he and mom were coming for a visit today.  They would get here about a hour before noon. Like father, like daughter, my dad has always loved jam.  So, I told him that we would have a jam fest for lunch.

This morning I woke up early and made his Aunt Ida’s Two-Hour Buns recipe.  When you are going down memory lane you might as well go all the way.  Besides, I cannot imagine having homemade jam on anything less than warm bread right out of the oven.

Then it was time to find my last stick of butter in the house and set the table.

Our lunch consisted of milk and warm bread topped with Mary Cummins’ jams.  It really does not get better than that.

Mary, thank you!  You made my day and my parents.

God bless you for your thoughtfulness, and for sharing the products of your expertise jam making skills!  Delicious!

 

Just Saying: Obituary for Decency….Meanness Runs Amok!

casket in grave with spray

Decency died the week of June 17-23, 2018 from neglect and abandonment.

Sadly, its long decline and demise went unnoticed by those who profess to love it the most.  The cause of death is communicable and was determined to be from gross impoliteness.  This contagious epidemic is most often found in the not able to mind my own business, because I know what’s best for everyone divisive and nihilistic ideologies.

Decency is survived by hypocrisy, self-absorption, arrogance, grandstanding, rudeness, hate, meanness, mob violence and many bullies and ideologues.

It was preceded in death by respect, kindness, acceptance, tolerance, selflessness, manners, polite conversation, open exchange of ideas, and patriotism.

Decency will be missed by all who cherished its memory.

Behavioral change in lieu of excuses and escalation is requested.

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For those of you who do not read Grandma Pat’s Thor Stories, you will find that each creative action story is used as a teaching moment to encourage young people become good humans and not just another animal in the jungle.

The latest story,

Thor Stories: The Fence….Nothing Is Harder to Defeat Than Grandma and Minnesota Gophers

 

provided rules for acceptable behavior so simple children can understand them.

So, help bring decency back from the dead!  Learn about it and teach it to your children.  You will be amazed at the difference it makes at home, school, work and in public.

Grandma’s Rules of Acceptable Behavior:

1.  Treat everyone just like you, yourself would like to be treated.
2.  Be respectful of your elders and others.  Always say please and thank you.
3.  Kindness like cleanliness pays.
4.  Be responsible and take responsibility.
5.  Always be honest with your words and actions.
6.  Don’t use bad words, unless you like the taste of soap.
7.  If it isn’t yours, it is not yours.
8.  When you want something, work for it.
9.   Don’t pick your nose.
10. Be thankful to God and count your blessings.
11. Never, ever, pull Grandpa Walter’s finger in grandma’s presence.

Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

What Is On My Mind Today: Reoccurring Tornado Nightmares…Good Coming From Cancer

tornado

I started a new oil painting just over a week ago.  Whenever I start a new painting I always try to challenge myself.  On this one I want to paint a cyclonic super cell with a tornado, and capture the soft marshmallow look of the wind bands of a super cell without losing the harsh menace of a tornado.  It’s a goal.

I have painted a lot of paintings of storm clouds, but I have never actually painted a tornado and I am finding it a challenge.  The more is less and less is more art principle certainly applies to this project.

I have seen many tornadoes.  The first one I ever saw was when I was a very small little girl.  My family and I were on a trip from our farm to the Twin Cities and a tornado dropped of the sky right in front of our car.  It crossed the road and ripped a very large metal factory to shreds.  Large pieces of sheet metal delicately floated through the air like wispy spider web threads caught in a breeze.  The contrast of the tornado’s awesome destructive power and its gentle beauty was not lost on me…not even as a small child.

Soon, after that experience I began having a repeating nightmare of being chased by tornadoes.  I didn’t have these dreams every night, but I did have them often. I had them as a child.  I had them as a teenager.  I had them as a mother and I have had them as a grandmother.  They are always heart pounders.

In the dream the blackness of the storm is crushing.  It is evil.  It shows no mercy. It is deadly. It chases me everywhere I hide. I can save others, and do, but the tornado always continues to stalk me.  When all hope is gone, I always turn and face the storm.  I want to see the thing that was going to get me.

Just before it destroys me, I always wake up.

As horrible as those tornado nightmares are to my subconscious, my conscious loves watching storms.  I always have, even as a child. As a teenager, I raced storms across our farm fields on my horse. The F3 tornado that hit Hugo several years ago, came down just three houses from mine. I watch storm chasers on television and the real thing whenever I get a chance, which in Minnesota is this time of year. I love watching the ways clouds move.  Never the same twice. If I am outside, you can bet that I am watching the sky.

Several years ago a fellow artist saw my work and thought that maybe I like looking at clouds so much, because I like looking up at heaven and that is where God lives.  That could be part of my fascination with storms.  However, there is a part of me that thinks that if I watch enough storms during the day, the tornadoes that visit me in the night will go away.

Obviously the tornado of my dreams is symbolic of fear.  Over the years I have given this issue a lot of thought trying to figure out just what fear the tornado represents.
Throughout my life I have found myself in more than my share of fearful situations.  Fear was often my constant companion.  Especially after the doctor told me at age ten that I was so sick with asthma that I would not live to see my twentieth birthday.  I can remember being just a little tiny thing going into the back of my closet and hiding in a toy box under a blanket to feel safe.

When Grandma Esther found out about my hiding from fear. She told me that if I didn’t admire cowards I should choose not to be one.  After the delivery of that excellent advice, I became quite good at confronting fear and letting it go.  My approach to life became…what doesn’t kill me, will only make me stronger.

Stronger I became, but nothing ever got rid of those tornado nightmares.

Until….

My cancer diagnosis for Multiple Myeloma.

A person doesn’t often think of good coming from a cancer diagnosis and treatment, but  getting rid of those nightmares was a good thing.  Then, too, when faced with your own mortality, you feel more alive that you have before.  Cancer teaches you that each day is a gift and to live it fully.  Relationships become so much more precious and nothing gets taken for granted. And, if you ask, you will find that God will give you the peace that passes all understanding and that there is no challenge this side of heaven where he will not walk right beside you.  Yes, good can come from a cancer diagnosis.

So was the tornado in my dreams the Multiple Myeloma?  I don’t think so, because I had thyroid cancer when I was only 30 years old and I still had the those nightmares.  It is probably more likely that the tornado was the severe asthma, that enlarged my heart and gave me the lung capacity of one lung, that was cured by the stem cell transplant.  Or, that after surviving 18 months in a body cast, all of the vertebrae in my back having compression fractures, over two years stuck in a hospital bed in my living room looking out a window at a tree, then going through six months of chemo and a stem cell transplant, I really just do not have much to fear anymore at all.

What doesn’t kill me, only makes me stronger!

Or, maybe I finally learned that no matter what tornadoes may come,  I am never alone and have no reason to be afraid for God, my heavenly father, will never leave me or forsake me.

Psalm 23 

23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Regardless of why,  I am so very grateful that both the nightmares and the cancer are gone.

I wish everyone’s nightmares and cancer were gone.

May God be with all of my fellow cancer soldiers and their families who did not choose, but were drafted into the war against cancer.

Numbers 6: 24-26
24 The Lord bless thee, and keep thee:
25 The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.

Now, back to painting tornadoes!

 

 

 

 

What Is On My Mind Today? A Soldier, Priest and Courage

World War II Soldier

There was a soldier on an island in the Pacific during World War II wishing he was home and anywhere but there.  His military unit had been on that beach for over a week. They were staging for a big offensive against the heavily dug in Japanese.

This wasn’t the soldier’s first rodeo.  He had been in several tough fights and knew that this one was going to be no different and probably worse.

Engrossed in his thoughts, the soldier didn’t see the army’s priest walked up to him.  The priest had sought him out knowing that the soldier was a Christian, practiced the Catholic faith, and would soon be ordered to advance into battle.

The priest took his pastoral role very seriously and always tried to visit with soldiers before they were ordered into a fight.  This day was no different and by the pale anxious face of this soldier, the priest thought that the kid could use some company and sat down.

The priest looked at the boy and asked him if he was ready for confession.  The young man’s head reared back from the force of his laugh as he responded, “Father, I have been on this beach all week, I have had no opportunities to sin.”  Well, the priest thought about that and asked the soldier if he was sure.  The soldier was certain that the tally sheet of his soul was clean, at least for that week.

The priest wasn’t born yesterday, nor did he look like it, and knew that there were plenty of ways for young men to offend God when they were all gathered together far from home with nothing to lose and no promise of tomorrow.  The priest nodded and asked the soldier, “Is there anything that I can do for you?”

The priest did not have to wait long for the soldier’s answer. The young man blurted out that he feared his luck was running out.  He’d seen too many friends die. Soldiers that were stronger, smarter, better-trained and more faithful than he, had, had their numbers called.  He explained to the priest that with each battle, gun shot, artillery or grenade blast his fear grew.  Battles were becoming harder not easier. His courage had been used up and was gone.  So, yes, there was something the priest could do for him…could he have some courage?

The priest thought about the young man’s request.

He told the young man that everyone is afraid to die…even priests and good Christians.  Only the untruthful would say otherwise and bearing false witness is a confession-able sin. The priest reminded the soldier about the many times he had seen the priest under fire in harm’s way on battlefields ministering to the wounded, dying and performing last rites for the dead.  Right out in the open.  The priest told the soldier that there are times when he is practically paralyzed with fear.

Everyone feels fear the priest told the lad. Especially in situations that are dangerous or life-threatening. If someone tells you they are never afraid….they are lying. The brave and courageous are not fearless, they have just learned to control their response to fear.

The priest then told the young soldier how he finds courage in the face of death.  He repeats the Bible verse, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me.” 

The soldier took the priest’s advice.

During an interview on television sporting a lopsided grin the soldier remembered repeating that biblical phrase hundreds, if not, thousands of times before the end of the World War II…which he survived.

The Twenty-third Psalm, that the priest provided to the soldier, is probably one of the most well-known verses of the Bible.  It was written thousands of years ago by King David…a brave and courageous soldier.  King David knew what it was like to be young, on a battlefield facing death.  However, the circumstances do not matter, King David’s poetic words have given generation after mortal generation peace, reassurance, hope and courage.

Psalm 23: 1-6

23 The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.

He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;

You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Forever.