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Five Things I Learned...this Fall

Things I Learned..., FamilyDeane Watters3 Comments
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Do you ever feel like you're just making lists and getting stuff done while time races by? Before you know it the next season is already upon you and you wonder what happened. I feel like that all the time. Have you groaned at least once this month, "Is it December already? What happened to November?"

As a way of not letting time get the better of me,  I decided to go back a bit and gather a few things I learned in the past couple of months. Writing it down slows time and gives me a way to feel confident that I didn't mindlessly walk through my days. I did learn a few things! 

After thinking it through, I picked five things to share with you.

 

I learned...Spotify is great! Last summer our daughter set me up with a Spotify account. I have been rather passive about music but this idea of getting any kind of music I'm in the mood for and then making up playlists to suit my own tastes, appealed to me. I have several lists of nice autumn music. If you'd like to find a fun Folksy Christmas with NO TINNY TUNES, only soft music, full of variety,  tap here. I've been totally enjoying it!

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I learned...My sister's thoughts and words have a powerful affect on me. As a writer, I have been unable to  write as regularly as I'd like and blogposts were often months apart.  No one seemed to notice so I just plugged along getting to it whenever an idea came along. Until one day... my sister left a comment (which she often does, and I love) saying that she misses me when I don't write. For some reason that little comment was big to me. I decided to return to an earlier goal of posting once a week. I realize that realistically, I will be unable to post every week always, but I'll do what I can.  I love it. Thanks, Sis. You helped me by telling me how you felt. I love you!

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I learned...that God is faithful and a person can go through some very difficult stuff and still trust Him. I have a good friend whose husband developed a brain tumor a year ago. They were on the mission field at the time and came home to get treatment and to gather faithful friends to pray. This sad story has a shining glow for one reason. In this year, my friend held tightly to the God she has come to know and love. Every morning they woke up and together recited, "This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it." Each day they searched the scripture for ways to praise and trust Him and to pray for others. Several times she invited friends to come to their home and bring scriptures to pray. When he died in October, her faith enabled her to continue to trust God as she grieved the loss of a very special husband. It's a lesson we all would do well to note. Because of Christ's promise of life after death, dying with dignity and without fear is the crowing glory a Christian holds onto during such difficult times.

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I learned...I seem to have a high threshold of pain. Several months ago, I started to experience pain on the right side of my jaw. The tricky thing with jaw pain is that there are nerves that run along the lower and upper jaw and connect with nerves running to the ear, neck and side of the head. So it is hard to figure out the cause! But after hoping it would go away, having my dentist, doctor and physical therapist look at it and when the pain became too intense to endure, I went  to my dentist a second time and insisted that she look again. Sure enough, one tooth responded to the pain tests. She referred me to an endodontist who, the next day, performed a root canal on my very "angry" tooth. And I don't care how many times he had to poke me because I am PAIN FREE now! I am just rejoicing.

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I learned....how to live far away from my family.  On August 21st our son, wife and three grandchildren moved to Costa Rica to join in a ministry for college students in San Jose. I was eager for them to say yes to God's invitation but at the same time i wanted those little ones close. This felt too big for me to handle and I struggled. The week after they left, Brian and I went away for three weeks.  As I experienced what God had for us in the amazing beauty of the mountains, the fresh air, our deep breathing and beating hearts as we hiked, I rested my fear.  I found a trust I didn't think I had and my trust had a place in which to dwell...with our good God who loves and enables us to do things we think we are unable to do. We have done a lot of talking with our family on WhatsApp, writing emails and texts and I pray in new ways for these dear ones doing this very courageous thing.

So, I had quite the autumn season. What new things have you been learning? Look back and see what you know now that you didn't know last summer.  You might be surprised at how much you learned while  time was flying you by. 

 

 

 

 

https://open.spotify.com/user/spotify/playlist/37i9dQZF1DX8c93KtGDPub

Planted to Give Away

Family, RecipesDeane Watters2 Comments

Looking out my kitchen window, I watched as the Mercury station wagon pulled into our driveway.  It was the same every time Brian’s parents came to visit. His seventy-five year old dad, Paul,  would carefully step out of the car, walk around to his wife's door, open it and help her out.  Slowly she would emerge,  take his arm and walk slowly into our house. After getting her safely into the kitchen, Paul would return to his car to retrieve his box of whatever it was he brought to share with us.

Some days the box contained large round golden melons, the kind that just melt in your mouth with a sweetness not found anywhere but straight from the garden.  Being a summer joy, we’d eat them for breakfast everyday for weeks.

Other times the box was overflowing with large fresh brown Grundy County potatoes, dug from the black dirt mounds in his garden. He didn’t mind getting his hands dirty.  He loved the earth and he had us in mind as he planted and harvested. Years ago he had a contest to see which of our kids could dig up the biggest potato. Our student from Ukraine, Olah, won the prize, a full fifty cents.

From the large grove of apple trees growing on the farm’s western property line, he would bring apples so we could make applesauce and preserve it for winter eating - while they were in Arizona, feasting on fresh oranges and grapefruit. He loved to give apples away, many neighbors benefitted yearly from his generosity.

For many years, I looked forward to these seasonal boxes of edible treasures. The food was always fresh, usually picked the day he delivered them, and we put every bit to good use. But the box I most looked forward to was the one overflowing with his home-grown butternut squash. My eyes would light up at their oh-so-golden bulbous pale skin with their hidden dark orange flesh, gigantic, and filled with a promise to be delicious.

He’d bring them in, set the box on the back porch and remark with a little grin, “These should last a while."

And last  a while they did! We ate those squash all winter long!

Paul’s generosity was subtle. He gave quietly, without fanfare. Being one extremely careful with his money, he was extravagant when it came to his produce. These he planted to give away. 

 

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Proverbs 11:25 says, A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

During these holidays I encourage each of us to find ways to be generous, to freely give away what we’ve been given to give.  We could give of our time to visit someone sick or lonely. We could get on our knees and pray for the many needs around us. Taking a meal to a grieving or sick friend would be appreciated.  Writing notes of encouragement to people who tirelessly serve is another way to be generous. God's Spirit could lead us to give away money. There must be a million ways we could be quietly generous.

 There are blessings ready… joy filled and satisfying…humbly offered from love deliberately planted to give.

 

In honor of my father-in-law and the generous sharing of his beautiful butternut squash, here is a new soup recipe that we prepared and enjoyed this past week.

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Fast Chicken Chili with Butternut Squash

3 Tbsp canola oil, divided

2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash

2 Tbsp minced garlic, divided

1 cup chopped yellow onions

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp black pepper

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

3 cups unsalted chicken stock

2 (14.5 ounce) cans unsalted cannellini beans, rinsed, drained, and divided

3 cups shredded skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast

3 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro leaves (optional)

1 tsp grated lime rind (optional)

 

1. Heat a large Dutch oven over med-high heat. Add 2 Tbsp oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add squash, saute’ 8 minutes or until lightly browned on all sides. Remove squash from pan; set aside.

 

2. Add remaining 1 Tbsp oil to the pan. Add 5 tsp garlic, onion and next 5 ingredients (through red pepper) to pan; saute’ 6 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add stock; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes.

 

3. Place 1 cup beans in a small bowl; mash with fork. Add missed beans, remaining 1 cup beans, and reserved squash to pan. Cook 3 minutes. Stir in chicken; cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

 

4. Combine remaining 1 tsp garlic, cilantro, and lime rind in a small bowl. Top each serving with about 1 tsp cilantro mixture.

 

Serves 6

When I'm 64

FamilyDeane Watters4 Comments

Back in the sixties while watching the Ed Sullivan show, my siblings and I sat mesmerized as a group of handsome guys from England sang their songs to a screaming crowd of fainting girls! We'd never seen anything like it! We loved their music, their long hair and oh that Paul McCartney!!

Little did i know, back when  When I'm 64 came out,  that one day I would actually be 64. It seemed so far away and so very old! Well the day has arrived and here I am.

I played the song for Brian this morning and he assured me that he'll be the one to still love me when I'm 64 but he wasn't sure about the feeding me part. He said he'd go get the groceries though! Ha! 

So here's to another action packed year! 

The highest highlight was the birth of Oliver James White on May 24th. And the harder highlight was the moving of Joel and Rachel and the kids to Costa Rica on August 21st. Both top my list as the most important, most heart felt, and most God infused events of this year.

The scripture that gives words to this year is Psalm 13:5-6: But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the LORD'S praise, for he has been good to me.

In honor of my day, I thought I'd post a few of my favorite photos from this past year. As I pick them out I sit here amazed at God's good work in the midst of my little life.

 

This is my favorite photo of the year: Thank you Hannah White Photography  for capturing this moment I never want to forget.

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How to Prepare For Thanksgiving Day

Family, ThanksgivingDeane Watters3 Comments
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I was talking with a friend recently who reflected sadly, “How do we get ready for Thanksgiving? There are no carols for us to sing and that turkey dinner is pretty predictable…and of course there are all those relatives….” What can we do? How can we prepare our hearts before the day arrives so that Thanksgiving Day is the final event to a rich month of preparation?

 

Have you ever wondered how to get ready for Thanksgiving apart from the food thing?

 

I don’t know about you but when a big event or holiday is coming, I have a tendency to hyper-focus on it. I busy myself making lists, planning meals, shopping, cleaning and preparing! When the day or weekend actually arrives I have done little to  prepare my own heart, because I was too busy preparing everything else. I want it to be different this year so I’ve got some ideas for you and me to stir up our hearts, souls and minds so that on the big day, we are ready to celebrate and give thanks.

 

We all know how to get ready for Christmas. For four weeks before the big day we light candles, read devotionals and open Advent calendars.

 

We all know how to prepare for Easter. For six weeks before Resurrection Sunday we remember. We lament. We search our souls throughout Lent and then we celebrate!

 

But, it is not quite so easy to get ready for Thanksgiving, due, in part, to the fact that it is not a religious holiday. 

 

Because I am one who loves God and who remains thankful for all He is and all He has done in my life, I choose to make my Thanksgiving Day a day to celebrate that which I have been practicing for weeks ahead. Here are a few ideas. Does this spark any ideas in you?

 

  • During my quiet time, each morning in November,  I will think about one thing for which I am grateful. I will talk to God about it and thank him. I remember James 1:17 that tells me "every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights…” so I think He would enjoy my thoughts on one of his good gifts each day. Then I will listen and reflect on some aspect of His great goodness, the gift I could never be thankful enough for, ever.

 

  • Since my birthday is in November, I plan to write in my journal about the people who have made my life what it is. They are the ones who have richly blessed me with their time, kindness, understanding and encouragement. These journal entries will be fun to write and I know I will feel a deep sense of gratitude for God’s knowledge of what I have needed to grow into who I am and into a deeper faith. It can only end in worship.

 

  • In November I love to sing the hymns, We Gather Together, and Come Ye Thankful People, Come. Perhaps you have other songs or hymns that hold Thanksgiving memories and could be added to your morning devotions or evening bedtime routine.

 

  • As the day approaches I think of questions I can present to our family for discussion around our Thanksgiving table. I usually forgo the list of “three-things-for-which-I-am-thankful" because I prefer stories over lists!  Last year I asked each person in our family to think of one thing that happened in the past year for which they were truly thankful. It was a super discussion filled with meaningful memories. Ahh…I love that kind of meal time. I almost forget to eat!

 

  • Our church puts together Thanksgiving boxes for people in the neighborhood of our church. Buying nice food and adding it to the boxes is a way to remember that we are not hungry as some people are. We can do something to help others. Perhaps there was a time when we had less than we needed. We can reflect on the provision of God during this time.

 

  • On November first I always bring out my CD called: Thanksgiving A Wyndham Hill Collection. The songs on this CD bring back memories of so many years of very special Thanksgivings when our family was growing up, of students who lived with us, of dear ones who are no longer around our table. I have to be careful because this music stirs up my emotions and gets me in the mood to get into the kitchen and start stirring up Aunt Alice's Oatmeal Rolls and pumpkin pie! Now I listen to it on Spotify where I happily found other Thanksgiving music and now I have a Thanksgiving Playlist! (I’ll have to tell my friend.)

 

  • And finally I might suggest a yearly November reading of Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts, a book that explores the deep soul search for joy with thankfulness at its core. Ann writes: “The practice of giving thanks…eucharisto…this is the way we practice the presence of God, stay present to His presence, and it is always a practice of the eyes. We don’t have to change what we see. Only the way we see.”

 

Oh that this November would open our eyes to truly seek and find God’s very real presence in our lives. 

 

There are many other ways to prepare our hearts for thanksgiving to fill us up to the brim long before the turkey and stuffing fills our stomachs. Do you have an idea to share? I’d love to find it in the comments of today’s blog. There are many days left in November to prepare our hearts to adore Him in very concrete and soul-full ways. Let’s get started.

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