Thursday, September 12, 2013

Kirky's Sean's Mama's Yummilicious Pickles

Now doesn't that title just make your mouth water?  
All of my friends have been raving and raving about these pickles and since we are huge Bread and Butter Pickle lovers here we just had to give them a try!  This is our second batch and MaryVance made them this week.  Yes, I said 'this week'... we make a gallon at a time and that lasts two weeks.
Slicing cucumbers

Yet another time that our wonderful island comes in handy!
Okay, I guess we should start with the recipe, no?  I copied it from Kirky's blog...
This recipe yields about a quart of pickles. 

First we mix the vinegar, sugar and spices in a glass bowl.
Then we slice the cucumbers and onions.  We use regular cukes but pickling cukes work great too, so they say ;)

These area added to the liquid and gently tossed around.  You want those yummy flavors to marry... and marry good...
Next, microwave on 'high' for five minutes.

Stir, and microwave on 'high' for five more minutes.
We spoon them into jars and then pour the liquid over.
Refrigerate until cool before eating.  Really.  You want to do this.  Trust me.  I have not led you wrong before.  They are so delicious.  You will have to exercise will power.  THEY ARE SO YUMMY!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

I love DIY projects... but you knew that already, didn't you?

We really needed some size appropriate tables for the school room.  The one we were using was too tall for most of us... actually, it's not the table's problem, the chairs are shorter than normal.  So, I had this brilliant idea... you know all great projects start with me saying "Hey, I have this idea..." LOL
Thanks to the great instructions found on this site,  my guys were able to modify them some and make us two new tables!  I love them!  They are the perfect size :)  Caleb is still deciding how to finish them but we are using them now!
They enjoyed using real plans instead of what I come up with for a change!  They all enjoyed learning some new techniques, like making rabbets for one ;)  A few pictures of the base. 

I forgot to take an 'after' picture before they were put into use, but this is what they look like now.
I love them!  And I love having handy guys who can make my dreams come true! 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Truer Words Were Never Spoken...

Jen really spoke my heart here.  I have known her for a long time and we have met in person.  She's a sweetie and much better with words than I am.  I am reposting her blog post here with her full permission.  Pop over to her blog, Ponderings of an Elect Exile... I know you will be blessed :)

For Such a Time {Online Friendships and the Body of Christ}

Note: This post was written (rather hastily) early Sunday morning, before I got ready for church and left home for 12 hours. I'm leaving the timeframes as is (i.e. "yesterday" is Saturday :)).  I have also changed the board name for privacy sake. 

"I'm going to be away from my computer all day. Please call me with any updates!"

That was the request, shared with a phone number, from my friend L early yesterday morning.  I replied that I was going to be away for much of the day as well, but that if I did hear anything before I left, I would let her know.

My friend K shared late yesterday that she couldn't concentrate on anything...she was checking repeatedly for updates and praying continually.  I replied that I was having the same problem.  My heart was just aching for our friend and her family, and I was struggling to focus on anything else.

This is definitely not the first time I've experienced such a burden. Friends and I had just been talking about the week-long near vigil for our sweet friend Merlene and her family last month. For days, we were in a constant state of prayer for her and her family, often waking multiple times in the night to check for updates and pray.

The difference this time, though, is that I've never met any of the people involved in person.

I've "known" L and K for years, but we have never met. I've also never met Rachel, the friend for whose family we are praying, although I think of her as an old friend.  We have all been part  of a close-knit group of ladies on a private message board, which I'll call Webster's (WB) for years.

I know that I found WB through another message board (which I'm no longer part of, and I'm not even sure still exists), but I can't even remember all the details of when and how. I know that I've been part of it for over 10 years, because I remember announcing my pregnancy with Ammah Grace there.

Regardless, we are a group of ladies from all over the world who have developed a bond over the years that is really indescribable.  We are mostly (but not all) married, mostly (but not all) moms, mostly (but not all) homeschoolers.  We all have in common a heart's desire to live out Titus 2:3-5:

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good,  and so train the young women to love their husbands and children,  to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. 

There are a few ladies in the group who knew each other "IRL" (in real life) prior to joining the board, but for the most part, the friendships we've developed have been via the message board.  Since then, many have met one another in real life, and it's always a treat to hear of (or better yet be part of!) a WB meet-up. 

We hear so much negative (and there is so much negative) about social media, online relationships, and the internet in general.  As with almost anything in this fallen world, these things can be used very wrongly, and can indeed be quite dangerous. 

And yet, I am always amazed and thrilled at the ways that God can use even modern technology for His glory. 

{I have to interject here that much care is taken for safety and security in this group. There is an application and a type of vetting process. Particularly for any younger readers out there, realize that this is not just a bunch of totally random strangers. The internet can be a dangerous place, and we must exercise utmost caution.}

We WB ladies have prayed one another through high-risk pregnancies, troubled marriages, military deployments, financial crisis and unemployment, terminal illnesses and accidents, church issues, and just about every other situation imaginable. We have rejoiced in weddings, new babies, new houses, salvation of children/spouses/relatives/friends, healings, and struggling learners finally "getting it". We have grieved losses of children, parents, other relatives, friends, and marriages. 

These ladies have faithfully prayed for my family through Ammah Grace's six weeks in NICU, my dad's final illness and death, and the more recent epilepsy diagnosis in one of our children.  And due to the fact that we were unable to share with but a tiny handful of IRL friends for so long, the WB ladies were some of the first with whom I shared when life as we knew it exploded into oblivion 7 years ago. Because we had to be so careful about sharing with anyone local, their prayers were especially treasured during that time. 

We have "done life" together. 

And yet, there is always the encouragement and admonition that family, local church, and face-to-face relationships are of vital importance and must be our priority. 

In so many ways, the prayers we have prayed for our friend Rachel this weekend showcase the way God can use the interaction between IRL and online relationships and blur those lines so that it all just comes out in the wash as the family of God in action. 

Rachel's family is a missionary family who served in a small southeast Asian country. Our family had prayed for them for years as part of our missionary prayer list.  Then in March 2010, Benjamin was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in his knee.

This hit especially close to home for us because Benjamin is the same age as Peter, and they were both huge Lego buffs.  Whereas we had prayed for their family on a regular basis before, our prayers for them became daily.  We shared prayer requests for the family at times at church, and Benjamin became a regular on the youth Sunday School prayer list. 

Benjamin recently began receiving hospice care.  Friday night he took a severe downturn and was admitted to the hospital.  The tumor in his lung had grown so large that it was cutting off his airway, and there was nothing that could be done other than to keep him as comfortable as possible.  His sisters who were away at school were called home. 

Along with many others across the world, our WB family has prayed fervently, checked for updates over and over again, and ached for our dear friend and her family. Many of us have then shared on Facebook and other social media outlets, and our friends have prayed, checked for updates, ached for this family that they have never met, and shared with their friends. 

As I read yet another post last night by one of my friends whose only connection with this family is through my Facebook updates, I realized that this has been multiplied many times over throughout the world this weekend.  I remembered being humbled and awed and amazed and so, so grateful when Ammah Grace was in the hospital and we knew that so many all over the world, the majority of whom we didn't even know, were praying for her and for our family. 

With Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, however, those numbers were nothing compared to the number of people praying for Benjamin and his family.

The family of God, all over the world, lifting up this family to the's hard to even wrap my mind around the magnitude of the people who are not only praying for this family's needs, but who are being impacted by the faith of this young man, his parents, and his siblings. 

I've also been moved to tears more than once by the hearts of our WB family for these friends. When it appeared that there might be difficulty getting one of Benjamin's sisters home from school many hours away, within minutes there were multiple families offering to drive her a few hours as part of a "chain" across the country. Although the family's church met the need by providing a plane ticket, this was just an example of the kind of "real life" support that this group is for each other. 

Many have shared ways that their children have prayed for and showed honor for Benjamin and his family.  One mom (D) shared this morning that her young children asked to "play" for Benjamin today. She thought they meant pray, which they had been doing and would continue to do, but the boys showed her that they had their Legos out, ready to "play" for Benjamin this morning. They also asked to have one of his favorite foods for supper tonight. 

As heavy as my heart is this morning for Rachel, Benjamin, and their family, it is also overflowing with thankfulness.

I am so thankful that God can use anything, including technology and social media, to show His glory.

I am so thankful for the ways He has already shown His glory in amazing ways in and through Benjamin and his family, and I know that that will only intensify in the coming days. 

I am so thankful for this group of WB ladies that has been such a special part of my life for so many years.   

I am so thankful for the ways that God knits together hearts in the family of God whether they be next door or across the world.  

Please pray for Benjamin and his family as he is very close to seeing His Savior face to face.   

Edited to add:  As I mentioned earlier, this post was composed early Sunday morning.  Benjamin entered Glory just a few hours later.  We rejoice that his healing from  cancer is complete and that He is with Jesus!  But we grieve with his family as they are already missing him so much...please pray for them as their grief and loss mingle with the joy of knowing he is whole and with Jesus.  

I have to add this as well.  Last night Bro. Gary was talking about the Great Commission, and the fact that "as we go, wherever we go, we are to make disciples".  For some of us, that will be across the street; for others, it will be across the world. I couldn't help but think of Benjamin, of his parents, of his siblings, and the impact that their lives have had on so many during this time of Benjamin's illness.  They weren't able to go back to the mission field as scheduled due to Benjamin's medical needs.  That could have seemed like such a negative thing, and yet God has used and is continuing to use Benjamin's life and testimony to reach thousands of people.  Their work on the foreign field may have been interrupted, but their ministry has gone on in ways they could never have imagined. 

Just last night, D, one of the ladies I mentioned above, shared that God had used Benjamin's life, death, and testimony to draw her son to Himself last night.  There's a new name written down in Glory, and Benjamin was used of God to stir that young boy's heart.  No telling how many others have been and will be touched in similar ways.  We don't often think of teen boys as leaving a legacy, but what an amazing one Benjamin has left! 

Thanks to the WB ladies who helped even in putting this post together...clarifying facts for my fuzzy memory, making suggestions of various kinds, allowing me to share their stories, and especially to Barb for her title help! :-D View the original blog post here.