Friday, March 30, 2012


When my Grandma Shaffer died (Fall 2006) one thing I really regretted was not learning more about how she did things in the kitchen.  She made amazing lasagna, buckwheat cakes, and jelly (among other things).  I'm told her jello was pretty good, too, but I don't eat jello so I wouldn't know.

The summer after Grandma died, a little old lady from our church called me and asked if I wanted to come by and learn how to make jelly.  Mrs. Lemp always gave us jelly at Christmas, and it reminded me of Grandma's, so I jumped at the chance.

I thought making jelly required some mystical powers or something, and certainly it had to be really difficult and time consuming.  When I arrived at the Lemps (with 3 kids in tow - Camden was 4, Josiah was almost 2 and Trevor was only a few months old) I was surprised that there wasn't a laboratory set up.  She had jars and lids, a big pot, some juice, sugar and pectin.  Surely, we were missing something, right?

Of course, before we could make jelly, Mr. Lemp had to show me HOW he juiced all those berries.  He took me out to the garage and showed me his steam distiller and explained how it worked.  If you've ever met the Lemps, you know that they love to talk about this and that....and talk they did!

Once we got into the kitchen, Mrs. Lemp walked me through the process of making jelly.  It was fun, it was simple, and it was instantly nostalgic.  We made batch after batch of blackberry jelly, and she told me stories about raising her four boys.  Mr. Lemp came through the kitchen with old pictures or coins and told stories of days gone by.

This scenario has repeated itself several times in the past 5 years.  Mrs. Lemp will call and the boys and I will head over there for an afternoon.  I always leave with at least a dozen jars of yumminess, and Mrs. Lemp gets a task crossed off of her list.

This week, I went to the Lemps for what may be the last time.  I stirred and stirred and made multiple batches of jelly.  Camden even got in on the action!  Mr. Lemp showed me old pictures and Mrs. Lemp showed me the grandkids on the fridge (again).  We talked about farming and trees and how they raised four boys in that house.  They aren't getting any younger, and we'll be moving this summer (maybe somewhat local, maybe not).  If we're still in the area, I hope to get back over there for another jelly making session.
If not, I'll have happy memories of learning how to make jelly and of long afternoons with a wonderful couple!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Dear 21 Year Old Me...

Dear 21 year old me,

Today you're going to drive over to Charlotte, Michigan and see the place where Joel grew up.  He's going to show you his old church and more importantly, his old home.  He's going to reminisce and get that glint in his eye when he talks about listening to Ernie up in that old bedroom and playing catch with his dad outside.  He's going to remember Christmas celebrations with his cousins and life in what was an **almost** perfect world for him.

Together you're going to pop into a few old stores and stop by and visit some old friends.  By mid-afternoon you'll be playing at the playground that Joel frequented as a boy (and that you'll eventually take your 3 little boys to visit as well).  Eventually you'll sit down under a big oak tree to chat for a bit before you head off to dinner, and he's going to work up the nerve to propose.

You're going to say yes - and the whirlwind of a life with this boy is going to begin!  You'll head off to Mountain Jacks and enjoy a great dinner, and then use the pay phone to call your parents to tell them the good news.  Once you get back to Davison you'll be greeted by excited family members, take a gazillion pictures and endure an awkward yet endearing announcement of your engagement in church tomorrow.

Right now you have no idea what's ahead.  If you knew, you'd be terrified...but trust me, the journey is fantastic.  Sure, there are going to be rough days.  There's going to be days when you wonder what God is doing and if He's forgotten about you.  You will often wonder where you're headed and what life will be like when you get there.

You're going to have 3 kids before you turn 30 and you'll get to stay home and raise them.  You'll buy a house and outgrow it quickly.  You'll experience what it's like to pour yourselves into a ministry and then leave your heart there.  You'll develop relationships with some wonderful people and you'll even give homeschooling a shot.

You're going to find yourself in limbo and you're going to get homesick.  Your closest sibling will be 3 hours away and you'll only see your parents maybe once a year.

Along the way you're going to discover that God's grace is sufficient, that His promises are true and that there's nothing you can do to make Him love you more.  He's going to meet (and exceed) your needs, sustain you on days when you want to quit and provide peace in the midst of the storms that come.  You'll learn to lean on Him more than you ever thought you'd need to - only to realize that you've only scratched the surface of what you need to learn and discover about your God.

March 20 will always be a special day for you - it is the day Joel proposed and the day you agreed to become his wife. It's a decision you'll not regret - and life will only get sweeter as the days go by.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

My Life.....isn't All That Bad.......

You know, I tend to find myself wanting to complain and whine about the fact that we're still waiting on God to show us where we're headed.  I often (way too often) allow myself to think that God has forgotten about us (He hasn't) or that His plan for us isn't all that great.  Yup, I can be very, very self-centered and get so focused on me that I don't consider the entire picture.  Why do I doubt God?

In the last few weeks, 2 friends have lost their Dads.  2 friends have lost their babies. Several friends have parents, children, or siblings struggling through major health trials.    Tornadoes ravaged the south leaving families homeless and killing dozens.  All this, while I sit in my warm home with my healthy family.....who am I to complain?

God has lead me to this point...why do I think He will not continue? God has given me much more than I deserve, and yet I have the nerve to get frustrated and weary?

This is not a declaration that I've arrived and achieved some ability to not complain and worry.  But it is a notice to myself that I've got it pretty good...and that I need to be thankful for what I have and stop longing for what I don't.  It's a dose of personal perspective.  It's a reminder that God's promises are true and that His Word doesn't fail.