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Archive for May, 2009

Holding hands and praying at mealtimes was a given when I was growing up. I took this tradition for granted until I visited homes where no one purposefully paused to thank God for the food provided by His hands.

For those of us who still gather round the table at mealtimes and ask a blessing, it’s also a good opportunity to practice kitchen-table-intercession. Thanking God for our food is a perfect segue into asking the Lord to bless our governmental leaders, as we are commanded in I Timothy 1:1-2a, or to bring to God the people closest to our hearts: family, friends, or neighbors. It’s a great place to participate in the Great Commission, and ask His blessings on those people who have not heard about Jesus.

Earlier this year, while reading The Hiding Place to Dad, we observed that the Ten Boom family used mealtime gatherings to intercede for missionaries. I reminded Dad of my beloved Lolly, whom I prayed for when I was a child. Dad never failed to tenderly mention her in each mealtime prayer by thanking God for “Lolly’s blessings.” One day, desiring to know more about Lolly, I questioned him about her identity. He explained that his rendering of “all these blessings” as “all ‘ese blessings” came out sounding like “Lolly’s blessings” to my ears.

While thanking God for food at each meal is habitual, I have not always remembered to include prayer for others. A kitchen-table-prayer strategy was in order. I found just the thing at an office supply store: an acrylic sign holder to display pictures. Visual reminders of the people that I want God to bless encourage me to pray for more than the food.

It doesn’t take long to engage in kitchen-table-intercession—just long enough to utter, “And for Lolly’s blessings, we thank You.”

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Pentecost Sunday, May 31, is the day that Southern Baptists have designated as a Day of Prayer and Fasting for those who have not heard of Jesus.”

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Guests at our kitchen table.

Guests at our kitchen table.

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Father Knows Best

My father called me over one day when I was a second grader to explain to me that the world was not perfectly round. He said that scientists had proven that the poles were slightly flattened and the equator bulged due to the earth’s rotation. I listened with interest.

Several weeks later I was delighted with the opportunity to demonstrate my new-found knowledge. Ms. Stephenson gave the class a quiz on shapes, and I was eager to answer the following multiple choice question: The earth is: a) flat, b) round, c) oval, or d) none of the above. I confidently circled “none of the above.”

When I received my graded paper marked with a red X on that question, I was dismayed. Surely, Ms. Stephenson had missed the recent newspaper article that said that the earth was not a perfect sphere. At the first opportunity, I respectfully informed her of the earth’s true shape—squashed at the poles, bulging at the equator, appearing to the naked eye to be round, but not.

Ms.Stephenson listened, unsmilingly. “The correct answer,” she stated flatly, “is round.”

I waited in the driveway for Dad to come home from work that evening, and showed him the big, red X. I proposed that he contact my teacher, and explain how the earth was not marble round. Dad agreed that my answer was correct, but thought it best to drop the matter.

Years later, I read for myself that Isaac Newton was the first to suggest that the earth was not perfectly round. He calculated that the earth was an oblate spheroid. Now scientists track the shape of the earth by positioning thousands of Global Positioning System receivers on the ground. GPS technology verifies that the earth’s shape changes over time. Due to uneven mass distribution and gravitational pulls, the earth is not a perfect oblate spheroid, and can even be described as “bumpy.” So, the correct answer describing the shape of the earth is: e) a bumpy, slightly oblate spheroid.

Here’s what I learned that day: 1) teachers don’t know everything, 2) listen to children (sometimes they do know things),and c) my daddy knows everything.

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While rummaging in our picture files recently, I found my second grade class picture. Standing at the back of the class is my teacher, Madge Stephenson, who nicknamed me “Angel Blue Eyes.” I am on the far right side, third row from the rear.

An Internet search revealed Madge Stephenson’s obituary. She was born on Christmas eve, 1920, and grew up on a farm in Eddy, Texas. She attended Texas College for Women in Denton, Texas, and received a Masters Degree in Education. During World War II,  she served four years as a Medical Laboratory Technician. After an honorable discharge, she began a new career as a elementary school teacher in Corpus Christi, and taught for 32 years. Ms. Stephenson died in 2001, in Temple, Texas.

It was interesting to read that she had served in World War II.  Ms. Stephenson established clear boundaries for classroom behavior. One girl, in response to Ms. Stephenson’s firmness, vomited outside the classroom door every morning for weeks.  Mom witnessed the vomiting, and heard talk of some parents who were dissatisfied with Ms. Stephenson’s firm demeanor.  Mom checked with me to see if I had a problem with my teacher.   I was “Angel Blue Eyes,” and had no problems whatsoever.

Stapled to the bulletin board are posters of backyard birds.  I recall studying those pictures, and feeling proud that I could  identify all the birds.

Montclair Elementary School, 1964-65 001
Wow, I count 32 second graders.  I remember most of their names.

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I ran across this picture of two of my favorite people when I was looking for pictures of Mark’s ships yesterday. It’s hard to believe that Andrew was ever that small.

Grandmother Rachel and Andrew

Grandmother Rachel and Andrew

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Pray for Peace

“NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Memorial Day, May 25, 2009, as a day of prayer for permanent peace, and I designate the hour beginning in each locality at 11:00 a.m. of that day as a time to unite in prayer.”

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Sail On, America

Happy Maritime Day to Mark, my favorite mariner!

Our breakfast conversation included Mark’s description of the Savanah, a hybrid steam-sailing craft, that departed Savanah, Georgia, on May 22, 1819, on an historic cross-Atlantic voyage to England, Norway, and Russia. Although the Savannah steamed a mere 90 hours of the entire voyage, using 75 tons of coal and 25 cords of wood for fuel, she was an important experiment in utilizing the power of steam to navigate the ocean.

The ships which Mark has sailed on have come a long way since 1819.

Marks first ship, El Paso Arzew, now the Galeoma

Marks first ship, El Paso Arzew, now the Galeoma

Seri Anggun at Lake Charles

Seri Anggun at Lake Charles

Cape Texas

Cape Texas

Cape Victory at Diego Garcia

Cape Victory at Diego Garcia

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Sizzling Strawberries

Sizzlin' strawberries are the best!

Sizzlin' strawberries are the best!

When strawberries are on sale at my local grocery store for 97 cents per pound, it’s time to make strawberry jam.  The following recipe is from the Farm Journal Freezing and Canning Cookbook, p. 182.

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GREEN BLUFF STRAWBERRY JAM

Ingredients

2 1/2  cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 quart fresh strawberries (measure after washing and hulling)

Directions

Mix 2 cups sugar and 1/2 cup water in large kettle. Boil until the soft crack stage (290 degrees F.)
Quickly add all strawberries at once. They will sear and sizzle, but lift edges with a fork gently and juice and melted sugar will soon appear. When boiling begins again, cook steadily and gently 10 minutes.
Add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and boil 5 minutes longer.
Pour into a shallow pan and let stand in cool place overnight.
In the morning, bring to a boil and ladle into hot jars. Adjust lids at once and process in boiling water bath (212 degrees F.) 5 minutes. Remove from canner and complete seals unless closures are self-sealing type. Makes about 4 half pints.

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I’ve been using this recipe for years, and I always wondered about Green Bluff. I looked on the Internet, and found that Green Bluff is a small farming community about 15 minutes north of Spokane, Washingon. I like this recipe because I can do half the work one day, and finish up the next. This jam has an intense strawberry flavor, unlike the purchased kind.

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