Advent: Dec. 8 More of the displays

Orange-ish Christmas cactus in full bloom.

Orange-ish Christmas cactus in full bloom.

Today I have agreed to go to Bismarck with my aunt. She has a dentist appointment there and hopefully we will get up and back all in one piece. The interstate was closed at different times this week, so hopefully it is all cleaned and open and ready for business. (I had to put the plant into the post to give it some life.) I am excited to go because I have a few things that I wish to return that I purchased on a bit of a whim the last time we were through there. Actually it wasn’t so much a whim, but I purchased a set of knitting looms, and when I went to use them, I realized they were not what I was hoping for. My mother had a handmade one when I was in high school, and I would really like one like that. My sister, Melissa has it, and I am thinking that I should get the dimensions and wood style and figure out how to duplicate it. The items we made from that were much better than what I could manage with the plastic one that I bought. I think the issue was that the pegs on the purchased one were so far apart that the article was such a loose weave compared to what I had grown up with. I did purchase a smaller tighter set wooden knitting loom last summer, and maybe it would be a good idea to get to know that one first.

Christmas angel display

Christmas angel display

So, the post for today was not supposed to go in this knitting loom tangent. I wanted to show you a bit more of the decorations we have set around the house. I put up the angels in my bedroom near the television and the Santas and Father Christmas display in the upstairs hallway outside of my little office/computer work room. I added an angel this year (the short tan colored “strawish” one in the middle back) and put those white reindeer into that display, but I really do not have any more room in any of the boxes for more items.

Ceramic and stuffed Santa set.

Ceramic and stuffed Santa set.

Father Christmas group

Father Christmas group

The Santa collection fits very nicely into an old television box and that is all for that group. Last year or the year before I received a new one, and it took quite a bit for my puzzle loving brain to get them all in. I sure don’t need to add to that issue, though it is always a hoot trying to get everything to fit each year. My poor daughters will someday have to divide my Christmas conglomeration either by whole sets or each getting a little of all of them. They will have enough to choose from, oh well I suppose if you start looking down to the grandchildren, there might be one for each. Ha ha!! What do your collections look like? Sure would love to hear about them!!

Advent: Dec. 7, Another snow day and more cleaning

So, today was another snow day for the students and teachers in my husband’s school. It is crazy! James said he didn’t think they were off more than one or two days ever in his 14 years there and now they have had 4 days in two weeks. I guess having a different, younger, superintendent probably makes a difference. This superintendent has young children and thinks more about how being on the road or in a bus heading to school will affect the children. The former supt. thought that he could brave anything and so could the rest of the world. It really is not worth the risk of life.

Tonight it is really cold in the little room where I work, I suppose it would be a good idea to open the heater vent, but I keep it closed because it is so close to the house plants I have here. Mostly it is cold here because the wind is from the northwest tonight and really blowing. It isn’t snowing, but the wind is doing a number on what is already on the ground, and we just got a call that school is two hours late again tomorrow. At this rate they will be finishing just in time for James to start summer school. Ha!! Maybe for a change the track athletes will still be in class before the regional, which would sure make practice time a whole lot easier to schedule.

Cookie tins on the cupboard!

Cookie tins on the cupboard!

Anyway because we were both home today, we did get a few more things cleaned up and organized around the house. I spent the morning working on the church bulletin and things like that, but James took it upon himself to clear everything off the top of the cupboards. I have wanted to do that for sometime, but just never got to it. He actually started the project by fixing the trim molding that was ripped off the front by some woman who tried to hang on to it when she was getting the roaster off the top of the cupboard earlier last fall. It is now all fixed, the items are off the top, the top is dusted and washed, and I put the Christmas cookie tins back up as a decoration for the season. Of course those will stay indefinitely.

The whole thing started a domino effect of rearranging and changing where things were. It reminds me of that Bert and Ernie story of why the goldfish were in the hat instead of the goldfish bowl. I used to love reading that book to Jess and Vic as much as they enjoyed hearing it, or at least they made me think they liked it. Come to think of it, I wonder where that book is. Anyway, the item that caused some moving was the Pampered Chef pizza pan. I worked until I got that in the stand-up cupboard with the cookie sheets. Next I moved the lap tray out of that area and put all the trays on top of the fridge, which meant the pan for the grill had to go out to the grill. Next the big drawer opened up because the trays were out, so I was able to fill that with the weird sized cake pans (teddy bear, van, turkey and smaller bears) the bread loaf pans and the new spring form pans. I stuck the fire pit sticks back into that drawer, but was able to put all the cookie cutters into the area that was opened up by moving the cake pans. It is great, but the most fun is going to be watching everyone go crazy trying to find things again. I don’t think I have kept things in the same place more than two months at a time in my kitchen. This arranging is always a work in progress for me.

Well enough for now, I really need to finish that article for the newspaper. Hopefully we will get even more things accomplished tomorrow. Jess just called and said there is no travel on US Highway 83 and it sounds like the I-94 might be shutting down again. Good grief and there is more snow on the way this weekend. We went from beautiful fall to dead of winter basically overnight. Oh the fun of living in the northern plains!! Take care and stay warm!!

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme. — Trail Baboon

Today’s post comes from Renee in North Dakota We have five grocery stores in our town. We gained one large Cashwise during the oil boom, along with a brand new, bigger Family Fare that joined the two smaller Family Fares we already had. Walmart was already here. It really is too many stores for a […]

via Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme. — Trail Baboon

Advent: Dec. 6 stranded

Snow stuck to the window

Snow stuck to the window

Here it is Tuesday, and I am not in Bismarck like Glenda and I planned. She had a dentist appointment, but that didn’t happen. I was asked to substitute again today, but that didn’t happen. I should be home working on the Sunday bulletin, but that won’t be happening. Here I am in Hazelton at a very gracious Danlyn’s place, and we will just see how things go the rest of the day. Hope all of you are staying warm.

Advent: Dec. 5, 2016

Grandchildren with Santa.

Grandchildren with Santa.

Apparently Victoria and Nate took their family to see Santa this weekend. What fun! Hopefully we can figure out a time for all of us to gather for Christmas even if it isn’t on the right day. Maybe we will need to begin adopting that old fashioned Dutch idea that my cousin’s family observed where they exchanged gifts on the day the wise men came.

Advent Candle: Peace Dec. 4

The scriptures used were: Isaiah 11:1-10, Romans 15:4-13, and Matthew 3:1-12. The title was, “Peace in all things.”

Before I started I had to give a little disclaimer about how I had all these plans to write about peace with the people around us and how this is not about big global peace, but peace here for us at this time in our own little world, but even before I could start that I had to say that ironically yesterday was the extended Haak family Christmas and I really didn’t want to go. Like some families that are not gathering this year because of (well you know–the election, but I didn’t say the word out loud.) Anyway, I said, I wanted to say I was staying home to work on my message about Peace. Ha, then those dirty crooks held the gathering here in the town where we live and I was the one who had to pick up the key, and so how am I to say I am not coming now because I don’t really want to fight about our differences of political opinions. Well, it was ok, it worked out, and as I was putting together the message that is listed below, none of my earlier plans worked out because the fingers just couldn’t type what I thought I needed to say. Funny how writing works like that, sometimes things just come out the way they come out. Hope you are able to glean something from it, even if it seems long and boring.

Church Advent wreath

Church Advent wreath

The candle we have lit for today is known as the Peace Candle. Some call this the candle of Preparation, and if you look around the sanctuary, you can see that many were busy last week completing the preparations to pretty up our place of worship. Paulina has a final research paper due in her Senior History Seminar class, and she actually finished it up on Friday and sent it to me to proof read. I have done that for her since she started school, and it has been good for both of us because it helps me keeps my teaching skills intact and she is learning a bit more about language arts as we go. Anyway, I bring this up because the topic of her paper was a man who was a Congregational minister who was a leader of the Social Gospel back in the 1800’s and though he was raised in the stanch old Congregational attitude that said messages should be about hell-fire and brimstone and church sanctuaries should be free of any type of decorations, he was a bit more socially liberal than those around him were. It sort of made me chuckle as I was reading that paper because I  wondered what some of the leaders of that era would think of how we keep our places of worship today. Certainly we might expect at least a bit of a talking to about it.

The other name for this candle that we lit today is the Bethlehem Candle, and it is called that as a symbol of the manger where Christ was first laid after he was born. I looked for more reasons why it is called the Bethlehem Candle, but only found information on the town, which is also called “the city of David.” It is the place where King David was first anointed by the prophet Samuel, and is also the burial place of Rachel, Jacob’s beloved wife. Some other Christian denominations call the second candle the Love Candle, but in our denomination we reserve that for the fourth week.

Today the candle that we light is the Candle of Peace, and if we focus on the scripture from Isaiah, [vs. 6: the wolf lives with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together and a little child shall lead them. NRSV] (those Isaiah words are pretty good) we can see quite clearly that the message is about Peace. It is about the hope of Peace coming to those ancient days, and even to us now. We can hope that it is about peace coming to our world, to our time, for our future. Yet the reality is that we live here, and we can see the truth of the situation every time we turn on the TV news, listen to the radio or pick up a newspaper. Peace is not a reality or even a remote possibility in most parts of the world as a whole. Peace whether we are talking about a full blown war, tragic weather or accidental events, or issues brought on by disgruntled people, peace is not something that is a fact of life for most of the world around us. But, as we noted last week, at least we can see there is some peace in our area, right???

My first thought when I began to ponder this message as being about the Peace candle and thinking of the events we hear daily and nightly in our world—my thoughts went back a few years, in fact my thoughts went all the way back to the beginning of this country. I thought back to the days of Thomas Paine and Patrick Henry who were two of our greatest persuaders to convince the rest of the leaders of the time to enter into the Revolutionary War against the tyranny of the British Government. Henry was a great orator who gave the speech we have all heard about “Give me Liberty or Give me death,” and Paine was the one who wrote pamphlet after pamphlet about why it was a good idea to fight the British immediately without hesitation. He used phrases like “sunshine soldier and summer patriot” to argue against those who wanted to settle for peace at the time. Mostly he put a guilt trip on those who wanted to broker a temporary peace by letting them know that by vowing for “peace in our time” they were kicking the idea of war down the road for their children to fight. And as a persuader, we all know he was pretty effective because the war was not put on hold. They fought and they won.

The Peace Candle that we light today is with thoughts of Christ coming to earth as a tiny baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger in Bethlehem. That baby who was the ultimate miracle child later grew up to be someone who was not a “peace in our time” sort of leader. Although Christ was not a soldier of war who came to lead the people against the Roman army, he was a revolutionary of sorts. Yet Christ was something so very different from what the people of the time understood about God, and who God was. Christ was someone who according to John the Baptist, he, John, was not worthy to carry or untie, as the translation might read, the sandals of. We read the verses about John today in preparation for the coming of Jesus. Today we study the story of the grown John the Baptist to better understand what sort of leader Jesus was. John understood that Jesus was the actual Messiah, and he also knew his own role as the one who was sent to point the way for that Messiah. In the scripture lesson that we read for today, we see how John begins the battle that Jesus will engage with the religious leaders of the time by calling them a brood of vipers: A den of poisonous snakes.

As John looks at these Jewish leaders, who by the way are usually at odds and are not seen as working together even though they are mentioned together here, [john looks at them] and sees their motives for coming to him as, well let’s just say as less than sincere. John knows that they are not coming to hear his message of repentance. They do not want to be baptized, to be cleansed of their wrongdoings. They want to see what the people are seeing in John, and when they come, they hear that John is proclaiming the fact that the Messiah sent from God is coming, and they don’t like it at all.

See if you are talking politically or at least politically in terms of church politics in their time, these leaders don’t want anything to change. They pretty much like how things have been going for them. They are able to call the shots in the temple. They are making out pretty well financially, and they have the people under their thumb with all their religious rules and regulations, and they are feeling pretty good about themselves. They for sure don’t want anything to change. They are all about peace—their peace/piece of the good life in their day.

And here comes John, pointing the way to Jesus who is about to step into the spot light and change everything. John as he is telling how much more important Jesus is than himself, is also telling how Jesus is coming to bring the real baptism which is not with water as John is baptizing, but with fire and with the Holy Spirit. In these verses John tells us that Jesus came to bring a different kind of peace, it is the peace that will come when he has separated the wheat from the chaff; the believers from the unbelievers, the true followers from those who only give lip service to a belief in God in order to manipulate others into doing their bidding.

Yes today we light the candle of peace and perhaps this is the time to hope for peace and believe that peace can happen, but when you look at the life and teaching of Jesus and even the disciples and John who pointed the way to Jesus, we see more than someone who was a pacifist who wanted peace at any cost. The more you read the scriptures and study the words of Jesus and those who knew him, the more you understand the words of Matthew 10:34, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Jesus came to earth to end the rule of Satan, to conquer sin, to pay the ransom price for our salvation, which he did on the cross.

The peace that Christ came to bring is the Peace that passes all understanding, the peace that only comes when all the evil has been removed. We have the opportunity to know that real peace when we give ourselves fully to God. When we accept Christ into our lives we have all the things these candles stand for at Advent, we have hope, joy, love and peace. And when we do that in the fellowship of other believers, we have the strength and encouragement of each other that Paul writes of in the passage we read in Romans.

We all know that we live in troubling times, yet I am not so sure that we couldn’t use that same statement in almost any time of history. There have been wars and strife and trouble in our world throughout history. There have been villains and ruffians and con artists in all places at all times; evil abounds and will until Christ returns. This issue is not if it exists, but how we handle it. Our peace comes by having a personal relationship with Christ and a resolve to be in the world, but not of the world. Our peace also comes in reaching out and sharing Christ’s peace with those around us. May each of us take the opportunity to do that this week. Amen!!

Advent: Dec. 3 Haak family Christmas

Today James and I attended the Haak family Christmas. It was right in Herreid, so sort of a no brainer that we should be there. It is always interesting as to who shows and who doesn’t. Two of his sisters were missing. One was on call (she is the nurse amongst the siblings) and the other was home because she had a reaction to getting a pneumonia vaccination. I tell you one doesn’t know which way to turn with some of that. No wonder my primary doctor is my chiropractor. I keep telling myself that as long as I don’t go to get checked on anything then I don’t have it. Of course in my family we all die of stupidity anyway, and there isn’t really a test for that. Enough said.

The gathering was at the local community center/skating rink and most of the younger ones put on skates and had a good time after we ate and the tables were cleared. Each year that we gather, most of James’ siblings exchange a small gift for each other as couples. It started with the idea that we would give each other something that we had on hand. The farmers might give everyone a ring of sausage they had made in the fall butchering. The gardeners (like me) often give a canned item, some would purchase a plate and fill it will baked goods. We have gotten items of woodworking or sewing and on and on. Lately it is more and more items that were purchased, and I am ready for it all to end because we have more than we need of items setting around the house.

Green Pepper Jelly modified version.

Green Pepper Jelly modified version.

This year, James and I, mostly me, decided we would give some of the pepper jelly that is in the cabinet in the basement. I went back into this blog to see when I first made this jelly, and found the initial write up on Sept. 12, 2014. It was somehow in a two part blog. I found the recipe in the Ball Blue Book of Canning and it is pretty good, though lots of work. I haven’t really used it because it turned out too runny. I think perhaps I didn’t cook it long enough. Well, today we took 10 of those little jars to the kitchen and dumped them into a kettle and began to boil them down. When they had boiled for around 20 minutes, I turned off the heat and added a packet of pectin then resealed them and processed them for 10 minutes. They are now thick. The only problem is that I thought I could go from 10 jars to 9, but ended up with only 6 1/2 jars. I needed 7 for the gift exchange. I gave one of James’ sisters a different jar of jelly as we see her quite often. Then we skipped the two who were not able to attend with the idea that we will get them their gift later. As it was, I took that 1/2 jar and used it for snacks at the gathering. I was surprised that there were good remarks. I served the jelly on crackers spread with creamed cheese. You couldn’t really tell that it was pepper jelly, so perhaps it would be ok to use more jalapeño if I ever do it again.

Not too much else to report for today. We did downsize by one cardboard box and seven jelly jars. I am happy about the cardboard box, but the jelly jars not so much. Someone in the group told me they don’t make jelly and would be happy to offer me some jars. Bring them anytime. I started to realize today, we need to get rid of the dead space in the garden and plant more tomatoes and peppers again. Enough of this cutting back. It is the canning and the garden work that keeps some of us going. Enough for now, stay warm and Happy 22 days until Christmas……

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