Friday, October 12, 2018

We Go West


This week we did our twice yearly trip to Iowa to visit our daughter Rebecca, then to Missouri to visit my mom and brothers.

Obviously, I don’t get out enough. I came out of the bathroom and was waiting for Murray when we’d stopped during our drive, and a man walked by me and said, “Greetings, Earthling. Salutations.” I was so tickled.

Cracker Barrel seemed a fun place to stop for lunch, and it was. I got a fried chicken salad, so yummy, which didn’t come with anything according to the menu, but the server asked if I wanted any cornbread or biscuits.

Murray ordered a breakfast plate, which included, in part, biscuits and gravy and a bowl of grits. The server came by and asked if he’d like more biscuits, and he said what he’d really like was some more grits. “We love Grits,” he told her. She brought him a larger bowl the second time.

Murray starts a conversation with everyone along the way. He met a regular customer of that Cracker Barrel—he called the cashier by name—and when the man learned we were from Cleveland, he shared delightedly about when he visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

On Saturday we went with Rebecca to a fundraiser in Carroll, where slightly flawed, not usually noticeably so, sportswear was being sold. I asked Rebecca to look for shorts for me, and she brought me a pair for a four-year-old. I said that probably wasn’t for me, and she said, “Just checkin’.”

Rebecca’s kitty Milly is definitely growing more used to us. She hissed her love for us whenever she could, and she only bit me once enough to draw blood.

I love visiting the animal shelter where Rebecca volunteers. As soon as we open the door into the area where the dogs stay, everyone in the room greets us with such loud excitement.

Murray talks to the GPS app on his phone a lot as we travel, and the voice said something new and delightful this trip. He’d ask how many miles to somewhere, and she responded, “If you’re driving . . .”

To add enjoyment to everyone else in the car, for the rest of the trip, I would respond back to her, “If you’re crawling . . . if you’re sitting on the ground and scooting . . . if you’re doing cartwheels . . .”

I always enjoy listening to the ducks and roosters on the farm when we visit Mom. Since my last visit, my brother Jim has acquired a donkey. I went outside and tried to get him to answer my braying, but he did not cooperate.

Jim also has a huge white, wooly dog named Fred, who weighs 160 pounds. When I first met Fred a year or so ago, I made him nervous by getting excited and rushing toward him. He’s not comfortable with strangers.

I promised Jim I would be cautious and careful this time, and I got to give Fred an examination, rubbing his big nose and shaking his giant paw.

On Tuesday we had lunch at Dave’s Pizza with my brother Rodney and our cousin Lorie. When we were seated, Lorie began a conversation with Ping-Hwei and asked, “What are you doing now?” He replied, “I’m on vacation.”

There could be no truer words, but it made us laugh for days. We all might need to get out more.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Letters To Camp


For many years, all of our kids attended summer camp at Camp Barnabas, a Christian camp for kids with disabilities and their siblings near Springfield, Missouri.

When packing last night for our trip west tomorrow, Ping-Hwei found in a suitcase a handful of letters we sent Benjamin while he was at camp in 2006. Murray’s braille letters were a delight.

In one he wrote out the words to “Daisy, Daisy, Give me your Answer, do,” then instructed Benjamin to sing it to a counselor or nurse.

In another letter, he wrote out the words to “B-I-N-G-O,” with a few changes. “I had a donkey whose name was Benjie, B-E-N-J-I-E . . .”

Then there was this note from Murray, as he waited at his Mom’s house in Branson, Missouri while the kids were at Camp Barnabas.

“Benjomaster,

“Sounds like a kitchen appliance, doesn’t it?

“What’s up today? We’re just kind of lazing around, waiting for you guys to come back. When you guys get back, we have a lot planned.

“First, we are going to rent a houseboat and go to Arkansas. Then we’re going to jump out of the boat and swim to Louisiana, then we will take a train to Texas.

“After resting, we will take a hot air balloon to New Mexico. After parachuting out of the balloon, we will take pedal cars to Arizona. Next we will lie on the ground and roll to California.

“Then hop, skip and jump to Nevada, then completely jump over Nevada, Utah and Colorado. Then we will skateboard through Kansas and back to Branson. Get some rest. This trip will take a lot of energy.

“Pa.”

Friday, September 28, 2018

Helpful Hints and Salsa Chicken


Welcome back to Kathy’s Kitchen, where you find delicious recipes and learn helpful hints from the kitchen adventures of others who love to cook. Please send me your favorite recipes and helpful hints to share from Kathy’s Kitchen.

This helpful hint is from my friend Laura.

“When allowing your children to cook, be sure to give them very detailed instructions. For example: When cooking corn on the cob, always add water to the pan. When making fudge, be sure child understands which amount is for sugar and which is for salt.”

This recipe is from my cousin Cheryl. It sounds so yummy, I plan to make it next week.

Salsa Chicken (Freezer Meal)

3-4 chicken breasts
Jar of salsa
Packet of taco seasoning
Can of black beans (drained)
Frozen corn

Place chicken breasts in CrockPot. Stir other ingredients together and pour over chicken breasts. Cook on Low for 6-8 hours.  If you want this to be a freezer meal instead, just put all the ingredients in a large Ziploc bag and freeze. Then, when you want to use, soak the bag in water for a few minutes until the ingredients loosen from the sides of the bag. Dump contents into the CrockPot and cook on Low for 6-8 hours.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Carman Sings For Ohio


The Christian singer Carman has always been an important part of our lives.

I’ve listened to Carman since the early or mid-80s, but in January of 1988, Murray and I saw him live on the University of Missouri campus. Murray accepted Jesus as his Savior that night.

We listened to Carman in the car a lot when the kids were young, and they knew and asked for his songs—“Jesus is the Way,” “Addicted to Jesus.” When Rebecca was in her teens and we’d hear “the Champion,” she said, “That’s my favorite song ever.”

Murray, with different members of the family at different times, has seen Carman in concert six or eight times over the years, from large arenas to small churches.

Last Saturday night, Murray, Ping-Hwei, and I drove two hours down to Marion, Ohio, to see him again.

We had a lovely time. Carman sang some old favorites, such as “Lazarus, come Forth.” There were one or two new songs I’d never heard. We sang some old-time hymns—“I surrender All,” “My Jesus, I Love You,”—and we had church.

Carman talked about the cancer he found out about back in 2013 and went through nine months of chemo therapy for. He said when they first told him he had cancer, he said, “Wait. You don’t know who I am. I’m the ‘I love Jesus, yes I do’ boy.”

He praised God that he is now cancer free, though in 2013, they thought he had only a short time to live. He said, “No matter how much other people might say you’ve done for Jesus, Jesus said, ‘Unto whom much has been given, much shall be required.’” (Luke 12:48)

There was no charge for the concert, and he didn’t take up an offering. He gave attendees the opportunity to participate in a ministry to support children in poor parts of the world.

We signed up, so we got to meet Carman and his wife and have our pictures taken with them. Murray had the opportunity to tell him, “Kathy and I saw you in January of 1988, and I gave my life to Jesus that night.”

Ping-Hwei and I each bought a shirt, and we got several new CDs, or “records” as Carman called them.

Murray said, “Well, that was fun, getting to say hey to Carman.”

Friday, September 14, 2018

Sweet Memories, I love these guys


March 17, 1996: We were talking to Morgan (Murray’s brother in Missouri) on the speaker phone yesterday, about how warm it was here and there, and Rebecca asked him, "Is it Saturday there?" She knows sometimes it's not the same day in Taiwan as here.

March 19, 1996: At church Sunday, Murray said that our friend Kathy was behind a railing where the piano and organ are. Sarah asked her how she got out of there. Kathy told her she didn't know how to get out. So Sarah asked her, "Does somebody bring you food?"

March 22, 1996: Last night I made soup for supper. Sarah was whining and didn't want to eat it. First, she didn't like the meat, then she didn't like the green beans. Murray finally convinced her to take a bite of part of the ingredients, and asked if she liked it. She must have nodded, because he told her to thank me for making it. She said, "Mommy, thank you for some of the soup."

The other night when Sarah was eating supper, she explained to us that after she put a spoon of food in her mouth, she looked at the spoon when she took it out, and there was no food on it. (An interesting discovery.:))

March 25, 1996: The other day Sarah said to me, "Mommy, I wish Renato would come to our house again." Yesterday, she said, "I hope Renato loves Jesus." (Renato was an exchange student from Brazil who lived with us the year before this.)

A couple times recently, Rebecca has been doing something with adults. Then, after hearing the other kids playing loudly downstairs, she said, "I think I want to go down there with them, because they sound like they're having fun."

March 26, 1996: After the kids wash hands for a meal, we always tell them not to pet the kitty. Yesterday at lunch time, Caleb said his foot messed with Rhoda. Then he said, "My foot needs to wash its hands."

Rebecca used to call the tune or melody of a song the "violin" of the song. (Not too many years later, she became a violinist.)

March 27, 1996: We were talking last night about maybe getting rid of Rhoda, because Sarah is so scared of her, and because Rhoda has been so crazy lately. We told the kids that maybe we could get some other pet, and Sarah insisted that she wanted an elephant.

March 28, 1996: Last night we had dinner with some friends of ours. The man, Ken's, son Josh is visiting this week from Colorado. He's fourteen, and we were talking in the car later about what a nice kid he is. I said we should tell Ken that Josh is really a nice guy. Rebecca said, "But he already knows that."

April 3, 1996: The other day, Murray took the kids to the mall, and they went into the eye glasses place to get Sarah's glasses adjusted. The man tried to put them on Rebecca later instead of Sarah. Sarah told me, "Then he said in a man's voice (and she made her voice deep)'I'm sorry.'"

April 18, 1996: The other night Caleb said to Murray, "I'm going to give you something; you'll like it. It's a hug!" And he hugged him.

April 26, 1996: Rebecca knows we have wax in our ears. She says the sleepers in our eyes is eye wax, and the junk in our noses is nose wax.

April 29, 1996: Yesterday, Rebecca was running around in the dining room, and Sarah said, "Rebecca, don't gallop like that!"

When I told Rebecca good-night, she said, "Good-night. I hope you dream of me."

May 2, 1996: Yesterday I was really tired, so Murray took the kids by himself to dinner and then to church. After church, he called and asked if I wanted him to bring me some food. He went to McDonalds, and Caleb asked what he'd got for me. Murray said a hamburger and fries, and Caleb said, "Oh, when I'm a daddy, and I can't go to church, that's what I want for supper!"

Friday, September 7, 2018

Intentional Gratitude


I recently read about intentional gratitude in the book, IF I’M FOUND, by Terri Blackstock, an author of Christian suspense I’ve loved for years. This book is one of a series she published recently.

Ms. Blackstock talked about Intentional gratitude in her author’s note; it was something a friend shared with her.

When we’re feeling down about situations in our lives, when we want to complain, we can remind ourselves to have intentional gratitude toward god. When things seem bad, look for things to thank god for.

This is something we have to be active about, even if we don’t want to; not depending on feelings. Look at the things around us at this moment, the simplest things that have happened to us today.

I tried it, right at the time I first read about it. I thanked God for the surprise popsicle I’d just found in the basement freezer. Almost immediately, I had reason to thank him for bringing the right Scripture to my mind when I wanted to get mad at someone. And for how relieved I felt when I didn’t spout off.

Ms. Blackstock reminded me of Philippians 4:8, keeping our minds on good things, and of the verse in 1 Thessalonians about praying constantly. She said she realized she’d ignored reasons to thank God for things. She didn’t see God working because she hadn’t been looking for him.

The author said as her characters in the series start seeing god working in their lives more frequently, she hopes her readers will too.

I thank Ms. Blackstock, her friend, and God for this reminder. I pray that the words intentional gratitude will remain in my mind and become part of my daily routine.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances,
for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Kathy Camping?


We went camping last weekend. Sort of.

We rented an RV/trailer on a camp ground a bit more than an hour from home.

People who camp in tents or out in the open will say I’m a wimp, and I am. But even in this RV, with a microwave and air conditioning and TV and WIFI (part of the time,) this is not what I call fun.

Our son Ping-Hwei has talked for years about either buying or renting an RV. My husband Murray and I put it off as long as we could.

Then a friend told us about renting these campers already set up. So, for Ping-Hwei, Murray scheduled one for last weekend.

Then Murray said to me, “I’d like you to go too.”

Hadn’t seen that coming. But off we went.

Once we finally figured out how to make the toilet work, I decided I’d survive. My phone rarely worked in the camper, and Murray’s only did on one end of the room, but, like I said, the internet worked part of the time, so I kept busy with knitting and working on my computer.

Murray sat out on the steps to read his bible, but when it started raining, I was excited we really had an excuse for staying in.

Any time someone took a step, the little camper shook rigorously. I asked Murray if he thought it might tip over on its side. He said, “I can’t guarantee it won’t, but I doubt it.”

We knew this wasn’t going to be a hotel, so we brought a lot of things—food, a few dishes, toilet paper, towels. Never occurred to us to bring pillows or sheets. But hey, we’ were camping after all. The water in the shower was even nice and warm. For a minute.

The area touched some of my rural upbringing senses. The smell of flowers and hay or cut grass as we drove along the road. A couple people with fun country accents.

The sound of crickets. And maybe cicadas? Tree frogs? Okay, so I don’t know which. It’s been a long time since I spent much time on the farm, after all.

No, I didn’t get to stay in the camper. We’d promised Ping-Hwei we’d go to a restaurant for omelets on Saturday. Yummy.

Afterward, Murray wanted to drive to see a ferry boat. On the way, we stopped to check out the Marblehead Lighthouse on Lake Erie. Murray was excited to be able to see some islands.

Of course I’ve heard of lighthouses, read about them in books. But I really didn’t have any idea what they looked like.

Murray said, “It’s a cylinder.” “You mean like a silo?” (My farm girl background coming out again.) Murray said, “Yeah. Let’s say a silo.”

He described about how big it probably was on the bottom, then going up to a smaller top, maybe seventy feet tall, he said. He was thrilled when he read that it was sixty-five feet tall.

Murray read a couple historical signs to me about the Lake and the Lighthouse, then he realized we could go in and climb the steps to the top. I was willing. That would be something different to do.

But then he saw another sign that said it was closed because of weather. It was windy an raining a little, and it said they couldn’t have people in there in case of lightning or too much wind.

I walked along the outside of the lighthouse a little, so I could feel how it curved around. And as we walked away I was amazed to hear these words come out of my mouth. “If we come back next year, maybe we could climb the stairs in the Lighthouse then.”