December 31, 2007

Pontoon on Lutefisk

I was reading about Garrison Keillor's new novel called Pontoon and read this bit about Lutefisk and couldn't help but pass it along. I did mention Lutefisk in the post I did on Christmas Eve meals. I enjoy Garrison's stories from Prairie Home Companion, so I'll probably eventually read this one.

"Lutefisk is cod that has been dried in a lye solution. It looks like the dessicated cadavers of squirrels run over by trucks, but after it is soaked and reconstituted and the lye is washed out and it’s cooked, it looks more fish-related, though with lutefisk, the window of success is small. It can be tasty, but the statistics aren’t on your side. It is the hereditary delicacy of Swedes and Norwegians who serve it around the holidays, in memory of their ancestors, who ate it because they were poor. Most lutefisk is not edible by normal people. It is reminiscent of the afterbirth of a dog or the world’s largest chunk of phlegm."

I'm about to start a fire and do some more weaving since I'm trying to finish up what's been threaded on my big Swedish loom. Dawson has friends here since they're going to go to Evergreen's "Skate the Lake" tonight. Evergreen Lake sponsor's it every New Year's Eve with fireworks both at 9pm and then 12.

They've got his stereo playing and one of them just walked out singing full blast (and very good!) saying he was going out to chop more wood. I'll go have to see who it was.

December 29, 2007

12 Days of Christmas

Christmas isn't over. In fact, Christmas can be all year if you acknowledge Jesus' existence, and let him help you live better in your present moments. Eternity exists in every moment we live consciously present to God.

We are now in the 12 Days of Christmas which was originally celebrated between Christmas and Epiphany, which is when the Magi are remembered as part of the story.
There are many interpretations floating around out there, but I like this one: that the song was written with hidden meanings to the basic teachings of the Faith - maybe during a time of persecution.

The 1st Day of Christmas my true love sent to me, a Partridge in a pear tree. A mother partridge feigns injury to decoy predators from her helpless nestlings, much in memory of Jesus' sadness when overlooking the city of Jerusalem, he said, "Jerusalem! How often I desire to shelter you under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but you would not have it so ..." Lk 13:34.

The Two Turtle Doves on the 2nd Day of Christmas represents the Old and New Testaments which tell the story of God to all.

The 3rd Day of Christmas with the 3 French hens could be the 3 virtues in I Cor 13:13: faith, hope, and love. But I think of our Triune God - the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

On the 4th Day of Christmas ... 4 calling birds. We have 4 gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - all proclaiming the Good News that the potential of redemption in Jesus exists for everything.

The 5th Day is the 5 golden rings. The Penta(5)teuch has 5 books of the history of creation including humanity and God's covenants of grace to cover our sin, and God calling us to live as separate, peculiar people - Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

6 geese a-laying represents the 6 days of creation with God speaking the world into existence and always saying, "It is good."

7 swans a-swimming - the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit. (Revelation 1:4 talks of the sevenfold fullness of the Spirit, so I hang seven descending doves on Pentecost Day.) The gifts of the spirit are: prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortation, giving, leading, and compassion (Rom 12:6-8, ICor 12:8-11, and Eph 4:7-16)

8 maids a-milking - the beatitudes (Matt 5:3-10)

With 9 ladies dancing we have the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy,peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal5:22).

10 lords a-leaping are the 10 commandments in Ex 10:1-17.

11 pipers piping could be the faithful apostles. (Could we possibly see Judas in Heaven?!)

And the 12th Day of Christmas is 12 drummers drumming representing the 12 points of the Apostles Creed:
1)I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. 2)I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. 3) He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. 4) He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. 5) On the third day He rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. 6) He will come again to judge the living and the dead. 7) I believe in the Holy Spirit, 8) and the holy catholic church, 9) the communion of saints, 10) the forgiveness of sins, 11) the resurrection of the body, 12) and life everlasting.


Advent, the season of waiting for the birth of Jesus, is over.

For me, it's come to be a joyful anticipation that deepens with each day. It's like the pregnant creation in Romans 8:18-25, that can hardly wait for what's coming next. Creation surrounds us, and the difficult times in the world are birth pangs.

We feel the birth pangs as a yearning for full deliverance. It's a state that we don't have much control over - the timing is out of our hands, the pain is an unknown. It's not only around us; but within us - as the Holy Spirit fills us and impregnates us with his Truth. But the waiting doesn't diminish us, anymore than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting even though we don't see what's enlarging us. When we tire of waiting, God's Spirit helps us along. And the longer we wait, the more joyful our hope.

In recent years I've learned the need for waiting with joyful expectancy. Due to a pattern of broken promises in my past, words like expectancy and anticipation were not a part of my vocabulary. In coping I had built up defense mechanisms. And then joy ...?!

Joy and anticipation are founded upon a history, and as humans, the history of our own lives is often inadequate to carry us forward. So when I pursued strengthening my knowledge of the past through the stories of many lives from Old to New Testament and on into the Third Testament, I stumbled upon the presence of God, in a very transforming way.

(I did this felted bas-relief picture when at a place of imagining a visual for this process of transformation.)

I can now wait with expectancy and joyful anticipation.
I also now see pain and suffering and hardship as waiting pregnancy. There is hope. There's another side. There's light at the end of the tunnel. There is new birth.

I bet Mary said, as I once said, the next day after giving birth, "I'll go through that again!" - actually forgetting the pain. (Oh, but I don't really want to!)

Thomas a Becket of Canterbury

In the Canterbury Tales, the pilgrims are on the way to the tomb of the martyred Saint Thomas Becket.

Thomas wasn't especially religious when King Henry II made him the 39th archbishop of Canterbury in the twelfth century. He was a drinking buddy, and companion in arms - but he got religion at this post. This changed everything and soon Thomas' friends and the King started grumbling, and quarreling over the separation of church and state. Hearing they wanted to be rid of this troublesome priest that stood in their way, overzealous soldiers stormed the cathedral and bashed out Thomas' brains on this day in 1170.

The drama, "Murder in the Cathedral" by TS Eliot is based on these events. And then Richard Burton plays Thomas in the movie "Becket". Every year when his day rolls around again, I tell myself that I need to watch this movie, but haven't yet. Maybe I'll go now and order it from Netflix before I forget.

December 28, 2007

Feast of the Holy Innocents (Childermas)

This is the day Matthew 2:16-18 is remembered. The wise men came asking about the baby born "King of the Jews". Warned by an angel, they did not return to tell Herod where they had found Jesus. Herod, in jealous fear, slaughtered many male children in his attempt to get rid of Jesus. Thus the beginning of the choice for mankind: for or against Jesus.

Matthew quotes Jeremiah, "...a voice was heard...sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children." Have you ever really thought of this piece of the Christmas story? Many artists have pondered it, so that it's depicted in many paintings and stories. (The pictures here are by Giovanni, Giotto, and Ruebens.)

Joseph was warned in a dream to flee this slaughter and escape to Egypt. I have a book we read every year by Madeline L'Engle called Dance in the Desert. It imagines the Holy Family traveling in a caravan to Egypt, and one night all creation comes to pay homage to their Creator. The pictures are beautiful of toddler Jesus and various animals. The caravan men have knives ready but Mary always says, "Wait".

All cultures throughout time have the stain of innocent, unwanted children. On this day we can think of children all over the world who suffer innumerable forms of violence which threatens their lives. We can pray for our children and the world.

"Today we celebrate the heavenly birthday of these children whom the world caused to be born unto an eternally blessed life rather than that from their mothers' womb, for they attained the grace of everlasting life before the enjoyment of the present ... For already at the beginning of their lives they pass on. The end of the present life is for them the beginning of glory. These then, whom Herod's cruelty tore as sucklings from their mothers' bosom, are justly hailed as 'infant martyr flowers'; they were the Church's first blossoms, matured by the frost of persecution during the cold winter of unbelief."

— St. Augustine

December 27, 2007

Peter Pan!

Starting in 1904 in England, everyone would wake up on this day and say "Peter Pan. We get to go see Peter Pan today!" The tradition of the play went on for years.

That's why Peter Pan movies periodically come out in December. The movie "Finding Neverland" came out for the 100th year anniversary in 2004.

I've been a Peter Pan fan for over a decade now. There's a message there that was a part of my pursuit that eventually led to the experiencing of God in a deep way.

I started with recognizing things missing in my life. I had become so rational, so "adultish". I wanted to regain my sense of wonder. So I started down a path of pursuing what it meant to be childlike.

My favorite Peter Pan movie is Spielberg's 1991 "Hook". The setting is Christmas, so he knew of the tradition of Peter Pan at Christmas time when families are gathered together seeking entertainment.

It's an "adultish" Peter in the movie. Grandma Wendy invited the family to England. Peter is forever on his cell phone. His wife is frustrated. His kids are enamoured with Wendy and the nursery window and are full of anticipation.

Grandma Wendy finally has to get in Peter's face and ask, "What do you remember of your story Peter?" Peter had forgotten his story. He didn't know who he was!

The rest of the story, since Captain Hook stole away his children, has Peter relearning how to be childlike to win back the hearts of his children. He had to relearn how to play, how to fly!

That too was my quest. Who was I really?

Watch the movie "Hook".

Watch "Finding Neverland" (with Johnny Depp!). It is so close to the real JM Barrie story in that it tells us why he wrote Peter Pan. Barrie wrote many stories inspired by his mother's Scottish highland tales. Robert Louis Stevenson wrote Barrie saying, "I am a capable artist; but it begins to look to me as if you are a man of genius. Take care of yourself for my sake. It's a devilish hard thing for a man who writes so many novels as I do, that I should get so few to read. And I can read yours, and I love them."

In the movie you meet the family of boys who inspired the lost boys (the movie shows these boys' father as already dead, though in real life, Barrie nursed him through his illness.) When the Davies boys met Barrie, they said they'd found a childlike adult in the midst of stodgy Victorian England.

There's a line in the book that's central to Barrie's vision. Over the years his vision had been watered down, thinking it too dark for families. It's - "To die will be an awfully big adventure." This line is the heart of the story (as too in many stories, including the Gospel).

It's a looking for something good out of something tragic. Tolkein calls this 'eucatastrophy' - a victory of good over evil, but with a price to be paid - a redemptive sacrifice. So when faced with the possibility of drowning in Mermaid's Lagoon, Peter is going to make it an adventure.

Hmmm ... "to die will be an adventure"... Doesn't Jesus ask me to come to him as a child? and to die to self? and that in dying there's true life/living?!

December 26, 2007


I just started a photoblog. Not because I'm some great photographer. Dawson posts on his site just about everyday. And since he is a gifted photographer, it's a great tool for making him take pictures everyday, therefore, practicing.

I experienced this in college. A requirement in an architecture class was to buy a sketch book and do at least one sketch a day. I still have that sketch book. I drew pictures out of doors, from pictures in magazines and books, of people posed ... it really advanced my observation skills and transferring what I saw to paper.

I started the photoblog so I will have a place to send people to for viewing pictures, like events. So on Heather's wedding date, the 18th of December, I posted a bunch of pictures. On November 10, I posted some shower pictures, and will be adding more to those. Travis sent me Christmas pictures and photo captions and I wanted to save them, so I posted them on the 24th of December. Who knows what more I'll post at some earlier date!

Here is my photoblog address:
and Dawson's site address is -


A quote from the very quotable CS Lewis:

The Son of God became a man
to enable men to become the sons of God.

Feast of Stephen and John

When you sing the song ... and I'm trying to remember the tune and words, but it's about Good King Wenceslaus and there's the line - "... on the feast of Stephen".

Rembrant's "Stoning of Stephen" - Rembrant's own face is the man facing us with the rock

This is the church calendar day that Stephen's story is remembered. And like King Wenceslaus, Stephen was killed because of his convictions about the revelation of Christ in the world. Stephen was stoned to death, with the future Apostle Paul standing by holding everyone's outer garments. We read about it in the book of Acts.

Stephen was the very first martyr of the Christian faith. Remember him for his boldness, courage, and faithfulness. He was given the church job of caring for the orphans and widows.

So, as I posted about Boxing Day, this day can be a day (though in loving God, we should always want this characteristic every day of the year) for selfless care of the poor, the despised, the rejected, and the unloved.

John the Evangelist
John the Divine, the Beloved Apostle, is acknowledged this day as well. Remember the books of the Bible he wrote. He lived long, ending on the island of Patmos where he wrote the Revelation of Christ, a superb conclusion to Holy Scripture. The book of Genesis begins the account of man's spiritual odyssey by describing our expulsion from the Garden of Eden. The book of Revelation is a vision of our restoration to Paradise. John wrote of Jesus' divinity, the Word made flesh. Jesus entrusted his mother to John. It is John that wrote Jesus words, "Let him who is thirsty come and take the waters of life".

Live Nativity

On this day in 1223, Francis of Assisi assembled the first live nativity scene in Greccio, Italy. The tradition caught on and is still done today.

Our church did it for the Christmas Eve services, but we weren't there. We went to Ft Collins and stayed at Trav and Sarah's and went to their Christmas Eve service.

We had a wonderful time.

Boxing Day

Does 'Boxing Day' come from the need to rid the house of empty boxes the day after Christmas?

December 26 in Britain has always been a day for remembering the people who work for us. Boxes are often left out in places or people carrying them, asking for donations, much like we have the Salvation Army bell ringers at stores.

But gifts are given to employees and boxes of food are given to the needy.

December 24, 2007

Fruit Soup

Like I said before, when I was dating Monte and he told me about fruit soup, I thought it sounded awful. But now it's my favorite Christmas food and I make a big pot so we have leftovers and plenty for serving at all sorts of get-togethers during the holidays. Here is my fruit soup recipe:

12 oz bag of pitted dried prunes, cut them up
1 1/2 c raisins
1 c cut up dried apricots
(about 2/3 cups each cut up dried apples and pears)
(I usually add cranberries too)
(Now I add dried bing cherries instead of adding 2 cans of sour cherries)
10 cups water
2 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves (put in a little mesh basket or cheesecloth)
slices of lemon

Bring this to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add 6-7 Tbs tapioca to grape juice to soak a bit before adding to the soup. I eventually pour in a whole jug (32 oz) of unsweetened grape juice. This needs to simmer a bit more for the tapioca to cook and thicken.

It's good both warm and cold. I like it room temp. Monte loves to eat it with cream. It's great with ice cream. It's good with aebleskivers and pancakes and rice pudding ...

Potato Sausage

Though we could buy potato sausage at a meat market, we've been making it since we got married. So we've been making it for 32 years (but since we're past our anniversary does that mean our making it Sunday afternoon would be the 33rd time?).

I have a meat grinder attachment for my Bosch Kitchen Machine and a sausage stuffer attachment. Before that I had a KitchenAid and a meat grinder for it too. Before that, how funny ... I still laugh! we scrunched up the casings on an angel-food cake pan center, and tried stuffing the meat mixture thru that tube. It was not easy and a mess!

Usually we grind the meat ourselves too, because then we have control over the fat amount and the kind of fat. For years we did it with elk, but now we don't have any elk or venison. I grind the onion first and then the potatoes, because the onion mixed with potatoes helps keep them from turning brown.

The meat casings we use are hog, and we get them at the meat market. Some stores have them in the freezer compartment. The casings are in salt and need to be soaked in warm water first. Then we like to put an end under the faucet and run water thru them to rinse the salt out. After grinding and mixing everything together the sausage stuffer attachment is put on and the casings are pulled over it - they end up sort of bunched up. Then run the meat mixture thru to start stuffing the casings. We have a cookie sheet with sides under the machine to catch the sausage. We always bag up extra sausage in Ziplock bags and freeze.

4 lbs meat
4 lbs potatoes
1 onion
1 1/2 tsp pepper
7 tsp salt
(1/2 tsp allspice - we usually don't put this in)

So grind all this and mix together well and stuff the casings. Boil and then simmer whatever you're wanting to eat in salted water, to cover, for about an hour. We cut up sections and have on a serving platter. I eat the casing's, and others don't, but yes, they are edible. Monte likes to eat his sausage in his doppa i grytan.

Leftover, we like to saute it in a skillet for breakfast, or sliced and heated (or cold) for sandwiches.

Christmas Eve Food

For years we've done a Swedish meal that Monte grew up with every Christmas Eve. It was what was done in olden day Sweden and maybe still by some. Monte is 100% Swedish and I am part.

We make a soup in remembrance of poor families who had only broth and bread. It is called 'doppa i grytan' meaning 'dipping in the kettle', a communal thing, because the family would line up and dip bread in the pot. The soup is made to stretch what little meat they had. We make it with homemade beef stock from bones, adding very finely chopped meat and vegetables. So we eat soup with bread, and home-made potato sausage. And we don't do lutefish! I did try it one year as more of a pudding/casserole, but we don't need it. And considering all it's processing, I doubt is has any nutrients left.

For desert we do rice pudding and fruit soup. The tradition is to hide an almond in the pudding and the one finding it will marry next. Sometimes I'll have a little gift. One year my brother Rob got the almond. I guess when he proposed to Karla he had the almond in a ring box. Is that right Rob?

A couple years we made ostakaka from raw milk. We decided rice pudding is the poor man's version of this clabbered milk pudding that tastes kinda like cheesecake. If no raw milk is available, then it's made with cottage cheese.

When I was dating Monte I exclaimed, "Fruit Soup?!!!!?!!!" thinking it sounded awful. But it's my favorite thing now. We always have it and potato sausage leftover to enjoy for the whole Christmas season.

December 23, 2007

4th Week of Advent

The 4th advent candle is the angel candle. Angels throughout scripture announce things. And give hope, support, and strength.

But they don't assure that the world at large and our own individual places of life go on unchanged. Angel visits usually mean detours are ahead, major changes are impending, and lives and destinies will soon be impacted. In fact, there's not one place in scripture where they start their words without "Fear not...". Is it their looks?

When angels appear, something of the divine breaks in upon our human history. Something beyond our understanding and definitely out of our control. Something that shows us there's more to life than what meets the eye - another realm beyond - another story larger than the small one we live in and tend to think we write.

What fears prevent or distract me from receiving a message wholeheartedly? My hearing it does not depend on how cute or striking the messenger might be. Do I have faith? Can I trust the God-graced words, seemingly in the dark and I can't see everything around me? even in the light?

"Hey, unto YOU a Savior is born," announced the angel Gladys Herdman. Just writing this makes me smile. Every year since it came out we've read the book The Best Christmas Pageant. It's such a fun and great book for a fresh look at the Christmas story. It was a healing story for me the first year I read it!

"I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all peoples." The Savior, Christ, is God's gift. In giving His Son, He gave Himself. He loved us first before we loved Him.

December 22, 2007

Instrument of the Devil

I don't want to tell the punch line up front, which I so often do when trying to tell a joke. I'm horrible with jokes. I have about 'one' that I can tell ok, and Monte often makes me, just for fun, making a big deal of it.

Something I heard on the radio this morning reminded me of this story. Both stories, this mornings and the one it reminded me of, were on Paul Harvey's "Rest of the Story". Both are about some history linked with the harmonica.

Did you know that the harmonica was called "the instrument of the devil"? You'd think...Oh, the atmosphere the harmonica was played in?...What it did to the body, like sexual drive temptations?...Too much rhythm?...People who played them were too different?...

I'm sure all those things were thought. But in reality, harmonica's were made of lead. So the people who played them a lot were being poisoned...

The punch line might have been me telling up front, what I also heard on the radio this morning, about another recall of a toy. So much lead poisoning potentials and other chemicals causing lots of recalls.

Peace On Earth?

Has there ever been Peace on Earth? Not since the Garden of Eden and mankind rejected the relationship they could have with God and chose to "do it my way".

So what is peace? What does peace look like? Peace stands at the heart of all the prophets expectations. Their pleas are made as they saw, and still see, people accept poor substitutes.

Do you envision it as lambs in lush grass next to a calm brook in warm weather? Do you think peace means no war? Justice? Of course we want it now!

God doesn't manipulate history from a distance. He entered history birthed as a baby. We'd prefer to focus, in candlelight, on the tender scene of a cradled child in Madonna's arms. Christmas wasn't a one time event. Christmas is about the unfolding of a promise - a promise of peace. God-in-our-midst and the 'Kingdom at Hand' means God is continuing to be a part, through us. His desire is for us to be adopted into his family and activity, and rebirth is not warm and fuzzy and a bowl full of cherries. Advent's message holds both images together.

I did a felted wool picture of my life's journey. I'll post it someday, telling the story. But for now I'll say that a part of the picture is how I imagine peace. I see a huge rock sitting in the middle of a rushing river. The rock is Jesus - solid, unchanging, dependable. I find peace in Jesus, no matter what life throws at me.

Jesus brings peace to my heart and soul. Peace is not dependent on circumstances. Peace is not a what or a where, but in whom.

December 21, 2007


Today is (was) the first day of winter. It started snowing when I was down in Denver and I cut short my errands to head up the mountain, choosing the frontage road, instead of the freeway. Too many semi's jack-knife going up before the snowplows are out and spreading sand and whatever chemicals.

So I opted for finishing my errands in Evergreen, closer to home. Dawson called me wondering where I was, and was going to tell me not to go up the freeway. By the time he was heading down, the traffic was crawling and sometimes at a standstill. He's stayed overnight in Denver tonight, and will meet Monte tomorrow morning to follow thru with the ski plans he has with friends.

All this only to say I was thinking of last year at this time...We got hit with 3 feet of snow! Monte was out of town. All of Colorado was shut down. If you really think about that...I listened to the radio...semi's were calling in to local talk radio to say they were at the borders of Colorado full of Christmas mail and packages, and food, and not able to move.

People lost power, some for days, us for a day. With the cookstove, and Dawson home, we could keep warm, cook, and melt snow for necessities...(like even flushing toilets...are you thinking and imagining?). Usually (except the Christmas eve of 1982) we get the large snow dumps in the Spring and those melt right away. This did not melt! And then we got several other large dumps a week apart for a few more times.

Monte did not get to come home till Christmas day, though his plane was scheduled to arrive a few days before. Dawson shoveling, and our neighbor's little skid-loader tractor got us out. Denver had it worse than us since not enough snowplow power to clear side streets. We drove to Trav's in Ft Collins after getting Monte at the airport, and couldn't believe all the mounds of snow. Colorado spent lots of money paying dump-trucks to haul snow away from the Denver area.

Since this was the beginning of winter, it did not melt for months, with lots of strange repercussions ... With snow on so many streets for a long time, the pot-holes and cracks was unbelievable. For me ... I felt claustrophobic. The side walls of our driveway and road out were so high that we could walk no where, and neither could the wildlife.

I just looked out over our meadow this morning and was chuckling over a track made by fox or coyote that from up above was a large heart shape. And there's usually elk and deer tracks. Last winter there were no tracks!

And then the final fun bit from last year...When I finally got out just before Christmas, I went just to the grocery store. The only bag of potatoes left were organic, which is my preference anyway...well...the fire alarm went off in the store! We had to leave our carts and go out to the parking lot. Luckily it was sunny. As I stood there with many, I imagined returning to my cart and finding the potatoes gone! But they weren't. But oh, such an ending to the saga of the storm, the beginning of winter!


I don't know how on the computer to make a capital A and E flow together with the right line in the A as the vertical line in the E, but that's how it's written. English spellings are usually just Ebleskiver. 'Aebleskiver' is Danish for 'apple slices', which used to be (or applesauce) put in the middle of these spherical pancake balls.

You need a special pan that has hemispherical indentations in it. It's best with a heavy, like cast iron, pan. Over the years we've tried several kinds and I now just stick with the cast iron one.

How in the world did someone think of this? I read a funny speculation of the Vikings with their many battles having many indents in their shields and they loved pancakes. So without the convenience of frying pans, they greased their shields and poured the batter over them over the fire.

We make these for all holidays and birthdays and Heather requested them for her last morning home. So I made them last week and will do them again for Christmas brunch. Their taste is a cross between a pancake and a doughnut.

I always start preheating the pan while I'm making the batter.
Here's the recipe I've developed -
4 eggs separated
4 tsps sugar
1/4 C oil (I use olive oil or you could use melted butter)
2 C buttermilk (sometimes I just add buttermilk powder to water)
1/2 tsp salt
2 2/3 C flour (I use white whole wheat or pastry flour I grind)
1 tsp soda
2 tsps baking powder

I beat the egg whites first till stiff and then put them in a dish while I mix up the rest in my Bosch bowl and then gently add in the whites.

In the preheated pan, and now set on medium, put oil in each indent about half full. I find the first ones always need more oil, but then can use less as we're making more. Put batter, about topping the indent, in each. You can use a skewer to turn them, but I've gotten used to using two little forks. When you turn them the middle batter, still liquid, spills into the indent to cook for the other side making actual pancake balls. I'm a clean cook, so I always push the stuff that spills out of the indent back into the balls as I'm turning them, so the pan stays pretty clean. It takes awhile to get the hang of this. But they are so good and worth making.

Years ago, growing up in Tucson, my mom made loquat jelly that we'd serve with these. We always serve them with real maple syrup, melted butter, and then some cooked fruit sauce, like berries. Traditionally they're dusted with powdered sugar, but I'm never one to add more sugar when it doesn't seem necessary. Then we always have bacon and/or sausage with them.

We often invite a family for Christmas day brunch. When our kids were young and we'd moved to Evergreen we had a family we developed a regular tradition with - them coming for Ebleskivers and cross-country skiing, then going to their house for supper, ice skate, and watch movies, and sleep over. Though we've not gotten together for years now, I've never forgot little Kim and Kevin calling them "Able skiers".

At Christmas time, I always have fruit soup and rice pudding around that we'll serve with these. I'm heading out today to get the ingredients for making fruit soup and potato sausage.

December 20, 2007

The dark night of the soul

I love this artist and her rendition of the poem by St John of the Cross.

Mary's "Yes"

I was with some friends and we were trying to imagine Mary's visit from the angel. We decided it was during day-to-day, like doings of laundry. The angel came in and she probably, in her excitement, threw up her hands and dropped it all!

What does it mean "favored by God?" Does it mean Mary was perfect? Who else in scripture was favored by God? Abel was, and was killed by Cain. Sarah was favored at 90. Abraham was, and was asked to sacrifice his only son. Joseph was, and was sold into slavery. Moses was, and died, trying to get to the promised land. Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba found favor, yet suffered betrayal, deaths, scandals and isolation. Job lost everything. Naomi turned bitter. The Israelites wandered for 40 years.

What would Mary's "yes" mean? What the angel proposed went against the norm of Mary's expectations and dreams of what marriage, pregnancy, and then birth typically looked like. What if your daughter came home with such a story as hers - claiming she was pregnant with the Son of God, would you believe her, laugh - and wasn't that blasphemy?

I had to ask myself, considering that God does not coerce us, and gives us freedom, did Mary have a choice? Could Mary have refused? Would God have just gone to another maiden? "Yes" is a choice.

If Mary knew beforehand of Bethlehem, the stable...and then angelic hosts, shepherds, magi, flight into Egypt, children slaughtered, the visit to the temple ... even her Son's betrayal and death ... would she have said "Yes"?

Can I trust God with my life? enough to say "Yes"? Do I want to be impregnated by God's holy Word? I have said "Yes". Every time I say "Yes" the Holy Spirit impregnates me (overshadows me) and something new comes to birth in me.

"Here I am, thy servant Lord. Let it be with me according to Your word."

Mary's response to it all? A song.


Home from Texas and now getting ready for company for supper. The house is a disaster, with getting Heather ready to leave FOREVER, tho they'll come back and get all the stuff she packed. And then I was sewing her outfit up until the night before we flew out.

Bill's chaplain, who had been with him in Iraq, and was his best man, asked me, "how are you feeling?" I told him things hit me moreso afterward.

And that it did and will as time passes. Yesterday I looked thru all the 365 pictures Dawson had downloaded on my computer. Other than when he was playing the piano and being soundman (all the way up in the balcony of this chapel)(Monte and me sang a song and then Jim), Dawson kept snapping pictures from the beginning to the end. Arranging and rearranging them in various folders and albums, I could re-live everything.

In the busy-ness, none of us really slowed down until Bill's pastor from another base, did the service. THEN I started thinking about "this is real", my daughter is really getting married.

I'm glad for the people who came. They were going to elope, but there was probably more realness for them, to have some close family and a few friends and fellow comrades.

I was glad that my sister Kelli came, driving from Tucson, with my mom and Jim. Kelli has done lots of photography at weddings. She captured pictures while Dawson was busy. She's the one who made everyone stay and pose for pictures. I can't wait to see her photos too.

So...our kids marry and our families grow and the dynamics change. I have a daughter-in-love Sarah, who we see with Travis at least once a month, and we IM all the time. And now a new son-in-love, William. So now my daughter's name is Heather Lavendar - how cute!

We're not empty-nesters yet, tho it pretty much feels like it, since social Dawson is gone so much. But it looks like he'll probably be home another year and half, since he's fine with staying at the community college another year! (By the way, he got a 4.0 grade this semester.) It tells me two things: He sees the value in saving money by getting a lot of preliminary classes done in this setting, AND He must feel such freedom at home to come and go, that that urge to leave home for more freedom, does not exist. And what this means for us, is that I'll still need to stock food for him and his friends who still like to hang out here.

December 16, 2007

Stocking Earrings

I bought instructions for these earrings at the yarn shop where I teach felting classes. So I've been making them for several years now.

At Heather's shower a couple weeks ago (by the way, she's getting married this Tuesday. We fly out early tomorrow morning and I have to finish the buttons and bottom lace of her outfit. Dawson and my sister Kelli will take lots of pictures.) a long time friend of mine was wearing the earrings I made her years ago.

So I'm making more to give away. I'm trying different thread/yarn then I used before. The done earrings are mine I made long ago. Now that I see them, I do like the heel and toe contrast.

The difference now? Look at those needles! They're like 0000 and I'm having to wear glasses now!


So many Jewish genealogies begin with Abraham. Abraham is the father of many nations, not just Isaac and Israel. He was before the law. I like that he was justified by simply believing in God.

When I sit with the Matthew 1 scripture, I see that four women are listed in Jesus' genealogy.
Historic Israel is very patriarchal, male-oriented. Genealogies never list women. And if you were a woman, your security was in bearing children and your continuity was in a son.

By God's wanting women in the list is a wake-up call to pay attention, because these are human points of God's intervention. Israel practiced exclusion of peoples whereas here God shows His initiative of inclusion. As I read between the lines and try walking in their shoes I fall in love with God more.

Tamar was a Canaanite. Hebrew law said that if your husband died without an heir you were to be given to the brother, so a seed/heir of the tribe/family could carry on. Since her father-in-law refused to follow through, she took things into her own hands, producing twins from the father-in-law. Read the story. For the first time in both the Joseph and Tamar stories Judah acknowledged his wrong. He claimed the twin sons as legally his. It's as if Tamar with the son Perez (which means "a break in the wall") created the transition for Judah to become the patriarch the Lord called him to be.

Rahab was an alien prostitute who displayed faith in God from hearing the stories that preceded the Israelites' coming. Her desire was beyond her, but to preservation for her family. She married Salmon and had Boaz. I'm imagining: being brought up by a foreigner who has to learn the faith from scratch and maybe interjecting a bit of her own pagan background into the stories. It all seems a bit scandalous, yet God blessed their unions with sons. God's grace is for all.

Ruth has more 'story' in the Bible to actually read. She was a Moabite, who were hated by the Jews. Her ancestry goes back to Lot and the incestial union with his daughter. Yet God blessed that with a son. (Conception & birth was all a mystery totally attributed to God.) God's hospitality is not decided by blood, birth, race or nationality. Ruth and Boaz seem to have healed the family tree that pre-dates the law.

Then there's Bathsheba. Adultery. I've come to maybe even call it rape. I remember a story Philip Yancey told about a King that loved a maiden. He didn't want to force his desire of marriage because he'd always wonder if she really loved him. So he cast aside his king stuff and became a pauper so he could woo her love. That's the Jesus story. David's story is so opposite. How could she say no to the king!

These stories Jesus heard over and over again as a boy growing up. All these women made themselves available to God just as they were - they were real. We do not have to leave behind who we are in order to receive God's acceptance. God desires all of who we are - not perfection. Our redemption and transformation depends more on our response to God's love and desire for us.

You can see these women's stories in all the people Jesus reached out to. We still have Tamars, Rahabs, Ruths, and Bathshebas today. God still loves them and desires to redeem their stories and embrace them.

Week 3 of Advent

The prompt for remembrance this morning at church for last weeks candle was, where was Jesus born? Shouldn't a king be born in a castle? We try and build castles. Jesus chose to be born in a deep, dark, dirty place - our heart. And when we desire to live with Him, Jesus makes of our lives way more than we ever dreamed.

This third week is the shepherd's candle and story. When our hearts are open and we let love enter, we can know joy! The shepherds knew the joy (after the initial fear!) as the angel of the Lord appeared to them, glorifying and praising God, "We have news of great joy" to share.

Shepherds? Why did God choose Shepherds to be the first to hear and worship and share the news with all? Shepherds were the lowest of society, like outcasts.

The shepherds went and saw the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. Jesus belongs to all.

December 14, 2007

St John of the Cross

St John of the Cross's calendar day is Dec 14.

I've read his story, it's not lovely, he was a Carmelite and imprisoned a lot, but he wrote "Dark Night of the Soul" which for literacy sake, we need to know about. He was a contemporary and friend of Teresa of Avila, and died in 1591. Many people have put parts of his poem to music and you'd think it was just an ordinary male-female love poem. When in reality it was like so many medieval writers wrote, as their love for God.

"Whoever wishes to come after me must die to self and follow me." In the imprisonment of 'death' (and such a long and horrible imprisonment it was) John came into the light.

St John of the Cross after Salvidor Dali by Adrian Moule

Here's some of his long poem, but my favorite music it's put to is by Loreena McKeenitt.


1. On a dark night,
Kindled in love with yearnings--oh, happy chance!--
I went forth without being observed,
My house being now at rest.

2. In darkness and secure,
By the secret ladder, disguised--oh, happy chance!--
In darkness and in concealment,
My house being now at rest.

3. In the happy night,
In secret, when none saw me,
Nor I beheld aught,
Without light or guide, save that which burned in my

4. This light guided me
More surely than the light of noonday
To the place where he (well I knew who!) was awaiting me--
A place where none appeared.

5. Oh, night that guided me,
Oh, night more lovely than the dawn,
Oh, night that joined Beloved with lover,
Lover transformed in the Beloved!

6. Upon my flowery breast,
Kept wholly for himself alone,
There he stayed sleeping, and I caressed him,
And the fanning of the cedars made a breeze.

7. The breeze blew from the turret
As I parted his locks;
With his gentle hand he wounded my neck
And caused all my senses to be suspended.

8. I remained, lost in oblivion;
My face I reclined on the Beloved.
All ceased and I abandoned myself,
Leaving my cares forgotten among the lilies.


I'm baking cookies today. It's snowing outside, Dawson went skiing with friends (he's so excited to have finished his school semester well and is celebrating) and the cookstove is crackling and giving off it's extra warmth.

Ever since I read the book Papa's Wife, that my Swedish Mother-in-law gave me years ago, I've always kept St Lucia day, the 13th, in the back of my mind as a good day to begin baking cookies. The book, which is a series, and I have her cookbook, is cute read. The author Thyra Ferre Bjorn is Swedish (can't you tell?) and tells her story. She begins as a young gal in Sweden, becoming a housekeeper for an older bachelor pastor, whom she ends up marrying. A fun thing in the story is her deciding she needs to stare at an angel during her pregnancies, so the kids will turn out well behaved (and I think she had 7 kids).

I couldn't do cookies yesterday. And I was going to focus on finishing Heather's wedding outfit today. But with the activities coming, I decided I needed some cookies to be done for giving.

December 13, 2007

St Lucia Day

Because of our Swedish heritage, we've celebrated St Lucia day for years. I have a Lucia doll that's 30 years old. Tradition has the oldest daughter wear a candle wreath on her head and serve breakfast treats in bed.

Lucia, or Lucy, means "light." Lucia was born in the third century in Sicily of Greek parentage. She was brought up Christian by her mother in times of great persecution. Lucia had been betrothed to a pagan. With her mother's permission she gave her dowry away to persons in need. Her betrothed was furious and denounced her as a Christian. She was martyred in 304, still clinging to her faith in Christ. Lucia held the Light of Christ for all to see in the cultural darkness.

The Scandinavians really celebrate her day. At this time of year the sun barely makes it over the horizon, so they hold great festivals of lights. It is believed her story reached them through missionary Vikings, and was strengthened by a legend:

In the Middle Ages there was a famine in Sweden, "Varmland." Just when the starving people were giving up hope, a huge ship appeared. The boat contained food, and clothes. They saw a maiden in white with a glowing crown and long golden hair at the ship's helm. Once the cargo was unloaded the ship vanished. They believe the maiden to be Santa Lucia.

I used to always make something ahead, like lucia buns or muffins, and had the coffee pot ready to push the on-button. We also talked of possibilities the kids could do for themselves like hot cocoa. Then Heather (and Travis) could "surprise" us in the morning.

After reading Matt 5:14-16, sing "This Little Light of Mine." You could read Matt 10:26-33 to connect with Lucia standing in her faith even to the point of death. It killed her body but not her soul. I also think of Jesus' parable of the 10 bridesmaids who took their lamps to meet the bridegroom. Five were prepared, awake and aware to see the bridegroom.

If we're turned in on ourselves, we cannot reflect the light of God's likeness. But if we're awake and aware in Jesus, we can see God in our midst in our daily lives and reflect His image to those we come in contact with.

December 11, 2007


I love my nativity set. I look forward to unpacking it. I made the figures. I call them my 'bean bag' nativity. It's actually my second set I've made and a lot nicer than the first. The first set lasted about 25 years and was simpler. This newer set has real wool fabric I washed to felt up and sheep wool for the hair and beards. And I looked for miniatures, like for the wise men to carry. And Dawson found 'crooked' sticks and whittled them for shepherd staffs. The sheep have real fleece too.

When the kids were little I wanted them to be able to play with the figures, move them around, and enact the drama. Sometimes the wise men would be off in the distant, traveling from 'afar'. Baby Jesus really shouldn't show up until Christmas morning...

I also have a dragon in my creche...

Why?...Because of Revelation 12 of course. (There's a dragon waiting for the woman to give birth so it can devour the baby.) It's wool I totally wet felted from sheep wool and then cut out, sewed and stuffed.

I've made other nativity figures over the years. I still have a salt dough one I've kept, though it's starting to have pieces break off. But it's sentimental...but only because of it's story. The figures did start out about 7" tall, but flattened out in the oven. So I call it my 'squat nativity'.

Then I have a corn husk one. I could probably make it better now...but don't. It sits on a little table in our entry way.

December 10, 2007

Advent - Week 2

Yesterday, both at church and home for lunch, we lit both the first prophecy candle and now the second candle. Dawson's girlfriend Splara (really Sarah) came home with us and we had a White Chili I had made the day before. It is so good and is another food I periodically crave.

So we were all together, which is going to dwindle down soon to three of us, and really just Monte and me, since Dawson's not home much. But Heather flies out Wednesday to meet her fiance coming home from Iraq and then getting married. So she's been on and off living at home over the last decade and now gone for good.

This second week's candle in the Advent wreath is the Bethlehem candle. The bedraggled Joseph and Mary searched for a place to sleep after traveling. "Love" was born in Bethlehem and Love asks us to be open.

I love the the song "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem" written around 1868 by Phillip Brooks. During a sabbatical he traveled from Jerusalem to Bethlehem by horseback on Dec 24. He imagined Mary and Joseph on their journey and the field of the shepherds. He was overcome by the beauty and felt the peace. He then attended a five hour service at the Church of the Nativity. This experience never left him and he wrote the song for his church's children's choir to sing.

"How proper it is that Christmas should follow Advent. For him who looks toward the future, the manger is situated on Golgotha, and the cross has already been raised in Bethlehem."
- Dag Hammarskjold

This reminds me of a drawing a friend's son drew while doodling in church. He had the manger with a cross behind it and a crown hanging over the cross. I liked the image so much
(I'm so visual and need images/icons to remind my heart) that I've drawn one for myself and added a lamb laying in front of the manger.

December 9, 2007

'Graffiti' in our house

I have said, "I love quotes" and that in our house there's a couple places quotes are written and I said I'd post pictures of them. The above old slate board is in the kitchen above the toaster on the kitchen table. I'm the one who usually writes here. Sometimes it can be used for the menu, but more often it's quotes.

The candle on the table is a drip candle over a wine bottle. There was a restaurant in Tucson, where I grew up, that burned drip candles everytime it was open. Before us moving to Colorado the candle was as high as the ceiling and candles were being burnt on it's 'shoulders' and 'knees'.

The quilt, I did. I have taught it as a class before. It is foundation quilting. My many cookbooks are on shelves above this area.

This is our downstairs bathroom wall. One wall I painted with chalkboard paint. A dish with chalk sits on the window sill. It's always fun, especially when guests are here to go see what new 'graffiti' is added. It gets quite full.

December 8, 2007


I had posted about it snowing, the Christmas tree lights on and a fire crackling in the cookstove. So I thought I'd post the pictures.

The cookstove is not our main stove. Someone walked in years ago and I wonder what stories get passed around, cuz they looked around and said, "whew, a real stove and a microwave!" We designed and built our home and so planned a space for a cookstove. The room is a "great room" with the kitchen, dining tables, and a keeping room all open together in an 'L' shape.

With the sun setting early in winter the stove helps take the chill off the area. We have so many large windows because of the beautiful views and they have no window coverings and the place cools off when there's no sun. When the stove's going, I will sometimes cook on it. We've roasted marshmallows in the small fire box. I often sit by it in my rocker reading or knitting and my feet propped up on the open oven door (that let's more heat out). It's fun.

Calvin & Hobbes book

Because of an earlier post, someone emailed me about selling the Teaching With Calvin & Hobbes book I mentioned. It's on eBay and has only about 4 hours left on it. I keep watching it, but don't want to spend that much for the book. Scrolling down the eBay page, the book looks to be a teaching whole language tool.

It's current bid is at $510. It was $306 this morning.

Back to cutting out Heather's outfit for her to be wed in. It's snowing, the Christmas tree lights are on and the cookstove fire is crackling away.


As I've said before...I love quotes. I'll have to take a picture of two places in our house that quotes get written.

"There is a fire in the soul that comes from beyond and what the soul does in this life is very much driven by that fire."
- Ronald Rolheiser

Missed Saints

I've not posted of some saints that I remember only for some fun little something that their story makes me think of...

Edmund Campion is Dec 1. He reminds me of the movie and book: The Scarlet Pimpernel (the BBC version is the best and closest to the book). Though born of a protestant printer-bookseller in London in 1540, he became a Jesuit and a secret agent for the Faith.

I love history. I love books. I've read stories where old homes in England had cubbyholes called "priest holes". Campion's story makes me literate to these priest holes.

With the introduction of Protestantism, some rulers were seeing possibilities of separating from the Pope. The Church ruled. Monarch Henry VIII was the first to start a new church. What happened for probably a century is that the religion followed the ruler. Differing beliefs could not coexist for quite some time. The last Catholic monarch of England is what history calls Bloody Mary, and her successor, protestant Good Queen Bess. Lots of deaths swinging from protestants killing catholics and then vice versa and back again.

Campion was in Elizabeth's reign and he was constantly changing his name and apparel. Like once he was disguised as a jewel merchant. He was the object of a year long manhunt, all the while ministering to catholics in hiding and publishing 'underground' pamphlets. Queen Elizabeth liked him and tried to dissuade him, making him offers. But he was the 1st of hundreds who were hanged, drawn, and quartered for adhering to their religious beliefs.

Dec 3rd is Francis Xavier's day. He was one of the original Jesuit's founded by Ignatius Loyola. (I've wanted to understand the differing monastic groups.) Xavier lived in the early 1500s and it amazes me that in 10 years he traveled 9,000 miles - a great feat in those days. He brought the Gospel to more than 50 kingdoms and baptized more than a million. The church he planted in Japan lasted three centuries without Bibles or priests - only word by parents passed on to children. He's remembered as the Apostle of the Indies.

Dec 4 is Saint Barbara's day. I don't remember her story because there was nothing in it I cared for for me. BUT I only remember her day because I read that if you cut pussy willow branches (and the like) and put them in water on her day, they'd be budding by Christmas.

Dec 7 is Ambros's day. Trained as a lawyer, was a governor and became Bishop of Milan in 374. He was a great preacher and lecturer. It was he who converted Augustine, showing him that a person of intelligence could find the Christian faith totally satisfying. When baptizing people, he first washed their feet, which was not customary.

The one thing that sticks out to me is that Augustine was amazed at Ambrose reading silently to himself. Just the history of written language is fascinating. We just think it's gone on forever. But everything had been oral. Homer and Plato were the first things to be written (prior to that was history of kings and kingdoms and laws). They were uncomfortable with their writing. And still it was not read silently. Boggles my mind. They say we're returning to a more oral society with media we have today. I think we've got a good mix.

Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. You'd think of Jesus and the Incarnation, but no, it's what's believed of Mary's conception. It seems that Mary's parents did not 'couple' in 'human mire' - taking no pleasure in the act and not conceived with the taint of original sin. Thus a fit vessel for God's son to be hatched in. It's been a hotly debated thing for years.

We've come a long way baby! I don't know how many people still think of sex in marriage as dirty and evil. If God did not like our humanness, why did he choose to enter history as a seed in a womb and go through the birth process and be laid in an animal feed trough, needing to be nursed
and burped and diapers changed, and announce his birth first to the lowest of society, dirty shepherds! There's such joy in sex as the Sacrament of Marriage!

So that's the update on Dec saint stories I like, until December 13. My thoughts remember the picture on the Sistine Chapel where God stretches out his hand to Adam, calling him out of the dirt of the earth, kissing into him his breath of Life. How beautifully humanity is created. And God stretches out his arms to those who wait for his touch.

December 7, 2007


I'm standing near the edge of the Advent story, waiting open-endedly, desiring to fall into the story.

Zechariah and Elizabeth had been praying for years to have a baby. They trusted, yet waited in seeming silence for so long (makes me think of the current Mother Teresa story that's been written and talked about everywhere I turn around). Can I wait like that with no little glimpse or ahah or anything?! In today's world we'd do something. I know many who are paying thousands to try and get pregnant, and I would join them too, if I were there.

The angel came saying, "Do not be afraid for your prayer has been heard". And I sometimes like to respond, "Well it's about time!" God so often works that way. I often ask him, "Why do you wait till the last minute?...Why wait till we're scraping the bottom of the barrel?...Why, when we've come to the end of our rope and beyond?" And there's been times I beg "I don't need a Damascus road bolt of light, but couldn't I have just a wimpy candle light, for a glimmer of hope? Just a tiny something to show there's an end to this tunnel?"

And then the angel comes to young Mary. It's beyond my imagining how I'd feel. Israel has been waiting for this promise for many years and Mary is the one. How much storytelling of the promise was carried on through the generations? Though Mary was shaken, she understood, and was willing - "Let it be with me just as you say". (Along with all the Jewish training and tradition, I've wondered if the thought entered her head that she could be stoned to death?!)

Mary was saying, "I don't know what this all means, but I trust that good things will happen." She trusted so deeply that her waiting was open to all possibilities. And she did not want to control them.

She immediately went to her cousin Elizabeth, who's baby leaped in her womb. They waited together. Mary's visit made Elizabeth aware of what she was waiting for. They affirmed for each other that something was happening that was worth waiting for.

This too I've learned - the value of community. Alone, I have mono-vision. Sure I can stand on the shoulder's of those who've gone before me in all I read, which adds to that vision. But community, (as Bonhoeffer said is a 'gift') can add to the seeing, hearing, stereo! I may not feel like worshipping, but those around help me see the bigger picture outside of my small self.

And I do trust that baby's leap for joy, knowing that incarnate God was in Mary's womb. Faith is the 'yes' of the heart. That doesn't mean there's no doubts, or pain, or hunger and thirsting. I know the darkness of the womb. And I've experienced the pain and then newness of birth. That's my 'yes', my willingness to trust God's guidance and grace.

Christmas is God's promise: God came in history, and comes daily in mystery. God goes on enfleshing spirit and inspiriting flesh.

So I wait, trying to be present to the moment, expecting that new things will happen, new things far beyond my imagination or prediction.

December 6, 2007

Birth Pains

Advent this year is pulling me a number of directions - I am sensing right now a backwards and a forwards. My rhythm of life is disrupted right now - a loved pastor gone and a possible new birth for the church - so I am acutely aware of the pull towards a future hoped for and a past that I knew.

St Nicholas Day

I've talked on my "Cycle of Celebrations" stuff across the country for quite some years now. I take a filled Christmas stocking along as a visual aid. I talk about the value of story and that the Bible mentions "remembering" the stories, telling the children, that the grandchildren will know, and passing it on, over 300 plus times. I researched Christian holidays, Jewish festivals, and then on to Saint Days.

I did not grow up with much of this and thought saint stuff was just Catholic. But it's all a part of church history. We have the Old and the New Testaments with their stories, and then what I call the Third Testament, carries on the stories. The apostle Paul refers to all of us believers as saints.

The Church for years started putting these stories on the Calendar. The dates are the people's death days- thus thought to be their Heaven birth dates. When Protestantism took off they threw out the calendar, as they did with so much (you know the 'baby out with the bathwater' phrase).

As a result, since the St Nicholas story was not told for many generations, we end up with Santa Claus along with Jesus on Christmas. Instead, on December 6, we put up socks and fill them with stuff that reminds us of the real St Nicholas story and celebrate. We don't have to fear all the Santa stuff, just feel sad about the missing pieces of the whole.

St Nicholas was a real person from present-day Turkey (288-354). He had lived through much persecution as a Christian and lived to see Christianity become the empire religion under Constantine. It's rumored he was at the Council of Nicea, where he was condemning the heresy of Arianism (not believing in the deity of Jesus). It's also said he slapped the heretic Arius.

Supposedly he threw coins in the window, landing in socks hanging to dry, of a family who lost everything and the girls were going to give themselves to prostitution to make money. He employed people to make wooden toys to give away, and food - like ginger cookies, and even gave gifts of clothing. So these are things we put in the stockings: chocolate candy coins, ginger cookies, fruit, mittens or socks, and something wooden. So I'm always on the lookout for wooden toys and the candy coins. As Heather got older, I gave her wooden kitchen tools.

There's lots of silly stories (hagiography) ... but who knows. In those days people had eyes to see miracles. Do we look for miracles in our everyday - like God 'winks'? People used to wake up and say, "This is so-and-so's day" and remember their stories. If God was there for them, then he's here for us too. We wake up and it's just another Monday, or Friday, or Sunday. Our calendar days could be rich with stories - a Story Calendar.

Many saint stories are wild. Like maybe close to being heretics walking the edge over a precipice. But they are humans who hear the Gospel and walk it uniquely for their place and time. If not for them we'd not have much learning and healing institutions and inner city care. We'd not have kings, rulers, and church leadership hearing the Truth.

So use this day to celebrate and tell the real story of Santa Claus (who the Dutch brought to our country and it grew from there). Then the rest of December when people ask, "did you tell Santa what you want?" we can say, "his name is St Nicholas, and he's already been to our house". Then he's separated from Jesus.

Some have said, "I'm not going to tell my kids about Santa, cuz then they'll think Jesus is a myth too." Well I heard of a 10 year old telling college kids that he knew about Santa Claus, like he knew about elves, the easter bunny, and other pretend things. "I never got him mixed up with Jesus because I could tell from the way my parents talked and acted all year long that Jesus was true."

One year when we lived in Tucson, Monte took ashes from the fireplace and drew ash footprints coming out into the living room. We had left milk and cookies for Santa. At 30 and 28, I don't think Heather and Travis are psychologically crippled. Actually their sense of wonder (next to worship) is alive and well. Memories are the library of the soul.

Enjoy the cute books. I found that JRR Tolkien had written Father Christmas letters to his kids, and all his illustrations along with the 20 some years of letters are all in a fun book: The Father Christmas Letters.

Sing the song "You better watch out ..." and then talk about the message of 'naughty or nice'. Because in Jesus, God gives salvation and adoption into the trinity family as a gift. We do not earn it.

"The giver of every good and perfect gift has called upon us to mimic His giving, by grace, through faith, and this not of ourselves," said Nicholas.

"We who still enjoy fairy tales have less reason to wish actual childhood back. We have kept its pleasures and added some grown-up ones as well." - CSLewis

"Come to me as a child," says Jesus.

December 5, 2007


No one knows how latkes became a tradition, but they are fried in oil, which perhaps symbolizes the miracle of the oil. In Israel doughnuts fried in oil are a popular treat during Hanukkah too. (We've made homemade doughnuts and they're good.)

Thinking of cooking in oil, I might add fondue to our Hanukkah celebrating every year. I've been wanting to do both the oil (or broth) and the cheese fondue pots. I love so many celebration traditions when they give me ideas of what to cook for supper!

Latke Recipe -
2 lbs russet or Yukon Gold potatoes
one recipe grates them skin and all, another peels them
1 onion
The recipe I like the best leaves half the potatoes in a food processor and adds the onion until all the pieces are roughly 1/8".
Mix the onion and potato together (the onion helps prevent the potato from discoloring) and put in a colander over a bowl to drain the liquid. (Sometimes I skip the colander stage and just pour off the liquid from the mixture just before cooking.)
Mix together
2 eggs
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp salt (- minced scallions, and parsley and pepper could be added)
(1/4 tsp baking powder)
Add the onion and potatoes mixing well. (pour off the liquid from the drained potatoes and add the 'starch' left at the bottom of the bowl to the mixture)

Over med-high, heat oil that coats the bottom of a skillet (with my Calphalon griddle, I hardly use any oil and they brown nicely). Either use a 1/4 cup or spoon to create the latke pancakes and fry on both sides till golden brown. Can keep warm in a 300 degree oven with paper towel layers.

Applesauce and sour cream are traditional accompaniments. I've seen some latkes made with half sweet potatoes too (we've added zucchini that's been salted and liquid pressed out, too, but not for Hanukkah). The meal often has dairy foods.

Tradition -
Jews say blessings for everything, like, "You abound in blessings, source of light, our God, ruler of all worlds; who has made us holy with Your commandments, and has commanded us to kindle the light ..." or "Blessed are you, O Lord our God, who did wondrous things for our ancestors long ago at this time of year."

They play a game spinning a dreidel top. "Nes Gadol Hayah Sham," each word adorning one of the four sides, reminding them of "A great miracle happened (t)here". They sing a song called "Ma'oz Tzur" which would be similar to our "Rock of Ages." The kids often play act the story.

So enjoy eating tradition.

movie trailer

I just watched CS Lewis's Prince Caspian movie trailer - coming out mid May. It looks good.

I like Aslan's line - "All that you know is about to change."


Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, began at sundown last night. It goes for 8 days. I pick a night for a family meal and we burn a small menorah and eat a meal with latkes (potato pancakes) served with applesause and sour cream. And we talk about it's story.

It's story reminds us that miracles can still happen. It happened between the Old and New Testament around 175 BCE and is a festival the Jews have added to their calendar (from the original festivals in Lev 23). Jesus was at this festival in John 10:22-42. Hanukkah means "dedication".

The Syrian ruler Antiochus IV preferred the Greek culture over the Hebrew and eventually made life miserable for the Hebrew, forbidding everything that was their life. Besides massacring thousands of people, he offered sacrifices of pigs on their temple's altar, profaning the temple. And dedicated it to Zeus worship.

A small band of Jews lead by Judas Maccabee, who had fled to the mountains with caves, were called the Maccabees ('hammers'), and with God's help after years of battles finally drove the Syrians out of Judea. The story is in I Maccabees 4:36-59 and II Maccabees 10:1-8, still in the Old Testament of the Catholic Bible.

The Maccabees began cleaning the temple and purifying it. A totally new altar was built and consecrated. The Jews celebrated their victory and the temple re-dedication. The temple's lampstand has 7 branches and reminds them that God is with them.

In cleaning they had found only a small amount of oil, thinking it enough for just one day. To everyone's amazement, the lampstand miraculously burned for 8 days. So Hanukkah's menorah has 8 branches with a 9th taller candle for lighting the others called the shammesh or "servant" candle.

Do we live believing miracles can happen? that they are all around us? Do we have hearts and eyes to see miracles in our ordinary everyday?

December 3, 2007


Advent is the beginning of the Christian Year, and is a four week time of anticipating the coming of God in Christ in the birth of Jesus. It is our privilege to receive the gracious gift of God's presence in Christ. It is our task to prepare for his coming anew and not miss life's greatest gift.

As my lectionary prayer book says -

"We do get another chance! ... we get the opportunity to begin again. Once more the full story of God's grace is awaiting our discovery. Once more we shake off the failures and victories of the past, and we get a blank page to write the story of our companionship with God in Christ. Once more we get to listen and respond in faithfulness to the God who comes to us so humbly, intimately, and personally in the birth of Jesus ... Advent initiates once again remembering, retelling, and celebrating the whole drama of God's revelation ... Advent confronts us once again with God's unparalleled effort to communicate the message that all humankind is embraced and held close by a God of love. Jesus Christ has come, is present with us, and will come again in final victory when all darkness, pain, and evil will be no more."

Advent means "to come". It is the Feast of the Nativity called "Christ's Mass" and it goes beyond just one day of celebrating. I love the days of preparation, desiring a journey of awakening anew in a deeper way. In the remembering, rereading, and retelling the stories of 'His-story' we see that Christ was waited for and came in the past. Because the present moment is the only moment of actual living, I don't want to waste it in not being present to Christ. The past gives me strength to live well in the present. And in Christ we have the promise of a future.

A wreath is what is usually used for Advent with four candles, one to be lit each week, then a center Christ child
candle (the Light of the World) is to be lit Dec 25th. I have a pottery wreath with a water reservoir to keep little evergreen boughs fresh, and it sits on the kitchen table. I heard Sunday that the wreath had started in Scandinavia as a wagon wheel - actually taken from their wagon - so they couldn't travel, and therefore wouldn't be too busy.

Week 1 is the Prophecy candle.
The prophets foretold of Jesus' coming. They waited, hoped and trusted. In the preparations for Christmas we need to prepare our hearts; make room in our hearts for Christ to be 'reborn' in some special ways this season - as in every day, all year, every year. We need to 'make space' in our busy ordinary days so we can anticipate His presence with us.

"O Come, O Come Emmanuel"
(God with us!)

Advent Poem

There Was A Time: An Advent Poem

There was a time when there was no time,
When darkness reigned as king,
When a formless void was all that there was
in the nothingness of eternity,
When it was night.
But over the void and over the night Love watched.
There was a time when time began.
It began when Love spoke.
Time began for light and life, for splendor and grandeur.
Time began for seas and mountains, for flowers and birds.
Time began for the valleys to ring with the songs of life,
and for the wilderness to echo with the wailing of wind
and howling of animals.
And over the earth, Love watched.

There was a time when time began to be recorded.
A time when Love breathed and a new creature came to life.
A new creature so special that it was in the image and likeness of Love
Of Love who is God.
And so human was born and the dawn of a new day shone on the world.
And over human, Love watched.

But there came a time when the new day faded.
A time when human who was like God tried to be God.
A time when the creature challenged the creator.
A time when human preferred death to life and darkness to light.
And so the new day settled into twilight.
And over the darkness, Love watched.

There was a time of waiting in the darkness.
A time when human waited in the shadows,
And all creation groaned in sadness.
There was waiting for Love to speak again--for Love to breathe again.
And kings and nations and empires rose and faded in the shadows.
And Love waited and watched.

Finally, there came a time when Love spoke again.
A Word from eternity--a Word
Spoken to a girl who belonged to a people not known by the world
Spoken to a girl who belonged to a family not known by her people
To a girl named Mary.
And all creation waited in hushed silence for the girl's answer.
And Mary spoke her yes.
And Love watched over Mary.
And so there came a time when Love breathed again
When Love breathed new life into Mary's yes.
And a new day dawned for the World
A day when light returned to darkness, when life returned to dispel death
And so a day came when Love became man--a mother bore a child.
And Love watched over Love--a Father watched His Son.

And, lastly, there came a time when you and I became a part of time.
Now is the time that you and I wait.
Now we wait to celebrate what the world waited for.
And as we wait to celebrate what was at one time, we become a part of that time
A time when a new dawn and a new dream and a new creation began for human.
And as a part of time, Love waits and Love watches over us.

Fr. Joseph Breighner
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