Wednesday, December 31, 2008

For the New Year

I can't remember when or where I found this poem but I make it my prayer as each New Year approaches. I hope it will touch your heart as it does mine.

Unmapped Miles Ahead

I wrap up
the last day of December.
Ahead hang months
Of unmapped miles.
Inside me
tangles with trepidation.
rim my heart:
What Trial?
What Triumph?
What will meet me tomorrow?

Creator of our chronology-
You who set up seasons
split light from night
walked timelines in both directions-
You know what’s waiting.

Hold my hours in Your hands
tug me toward right
tap my shoulder and whisper instructions
fill my heart with Your directions.
I want to walk these days
with You.

Joan Rae Mills

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Conversation with Grandboy N

We called on Christmas morning to wish our son and his family in Seattle a Merry Christmas. Grandboy N answered the phone with a hearty "Merry Christmas".
After the usual Christmas morning conversation about activities and gifts received, I asked him if they were going to their uncle's for Turkey.
"Nana, don't be a silly goose!" he said.
"What do you mean? How am I a silly goose?" I responded.
You're silly Nana, that's not Christmas food! That's Thanksgiving food!"(now that is my American Grandson speaking!)
"So what is Christmas food ?" I replied. "what are you going to eat at Uncle Curt's?"
He hesitated a minute and then said," Um.... well.. we're going to have some food: some salad, and some meat...."
"What kind of meat?"
"Um, pig bones I think."

I 'm sure he had a good Christmas dinner whatever it was he had!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas #'s 3 and 4

I love Christmas
- although our children were all away at their in laws this year, we enjoyed the celebrations we had with them earlier and were now ready to celebrate yet again with our siblings and my Dad. Christmas Eve saw us on the road, braving our way through falling snow and a very white landscape. This was our view at 4:30 in the afternoon as we drove the TransCanada highway towards Abbotstford. Conditions were not great and we passed at least 6 vehicles that had involuntarily left the Highway. They were scattered along our route some just far enough off the road to not make it back on without a tow and others that had spun out and were facing the opposite direction entirely. I felt sorry for them as their Christmas Eve's plans were delayed. Fortunately there were a number of Highway patrol helping them out.

(As an aside - I think drivers in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley are among the worst when it comes to driving in less than perfect conditions!)
Fortunately we made it to our destination in our big 4-wheel drive
Duramax truck without incident.

Alot more snow had fallen in Abbotsford than had here at home and we enjoyed taking pictures of the trees - so beautifully adorned by our creator.

My sister was waiting to welcome us

Her patio was a fairyland with the coloured lights and mounds of snow.

We were a smaller group than usual: my sister and brother in law, 2 of his children,
my Dad and Harv and I - a precious family even if somewhat incomplete.
It was so good to celebrate Christmas together.

Oh, how we missed Mom though.
I'd had a hard day - having been surprised by grief on hearing the old German Christmas Carol "Leise Lieselt der Schnee" on the CBC call in Christmas Card program earlier in the day.
How grief comes suddenly in huge waves after long periods of normalcy defies my understanding.
We are so blessed to have such warm memories of Mom on Christmas Eve when she would shine - putting on such a wonderful and fancy spread for those she loved so much. this picture is from Christmas 2005.

For a change of pace, we had a wonderful meal of Fettucini Alfredo with Salmon and Pistachios, a salad and then Chocolate fondue with fruit for dessert.

On Christmas Day we picked up my Dad and headed to Langley where the snow was piled even higher and spent the afternoon and evening with Harv's brother, his family and their son's friend/charge from a Communitas Carehome in Abbotsford. This young man's parents came out from North Van to join us and we had the traditional and fabulous as always, turkey dinner.

Driving home the roads were much better , mostly bare and wet.

Yet another Christmas Day come and gone. Our prayer is that we will remember and keep Christmas Day and it's gift to us in our hearts all year long.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Birthday Chris

Happy Birthday Chris.
What a bright light you are in our life. I remember the day you were born so vividly. I lay awake all that night praising God for a beautiful and healthy daughter. You were an extra special Christmas gift to Dad and I.
Two years later we received you as a gift all over again when God miraculously brought you back to life after drowning in our creek. How we praised God yet again!

As you grew, you charmed and delighted us with your unique personality. With an older and younger brother you held your own just fine. You were both a peacemaker and the catalyst for pranks and schemes. Your laughter filled our home.

You developed a self confidence that I admire, and showed compassion for others. Early on you choose to follow Christ and shared the light within you with everyone you encountered.

Today you are still bringing joy - to us, and to your family. You still seek out those that need a friend and your pranks and schemes now delight your 2 boys who love nothing better than to play with their mom.

We're so proud of you - the choices you have made, the way you care for others, the way you are so quick to offer help and how you work daily at being who God calls you to be.

Have a wonderful day Princess. We love you.

Dad and Mom

Saturday, December 20, 2008


I've referred to a meal called Raclette in my last few posts and some of you have wondered what exactly this is. We were introduced to it by our neighbours who had recently moved here from Switzerland. they served it to us one Christmas and it has been
a part of the season ever since for us.

At its most basic, raclette involves melting cheese and pouring it over
boiled potatoes or french bread.

My neighbour told us that it was a meal served by the poor people who lived up in the mountains, far away from any stores. In winter, with no produce from their gardens, they used what was available to them. Namely, home grown potatoes and their home made cheese. Of course since then much more has been added to the meal
and it really is only limited by your taste and imagination.

You will need a Raclette oven. This is a square or rectangular appliance with a heating element located between a metal base and a cook surface. They are available with either a granite top or a teflon top. We prefer the heavy granite stone. It grills the meats and holds the heat better. There are usually 8 individual trays to slide on to the metal base below the element. A variable temperature control is a good feature.

Raclette ovens are sold- expecially at Christmas time, in department stores and specialty kitchen stores. My DIL found a Canadian online store. Go to and look under cookware. Apparently this company offers free shipping for orders over $100.00. The raclettes on this site run around $149.00.

The Must Have ingredients are as follows:

- Raclette or Montery Jack cheese sliced 1/4- 1/2 inch thick (my Swiss neighbour likes the
Montery Jack better than the real raclette cheese)

- red potatoes, boiled in their skins

- garlic butter ( the more garlic the better)

- A crusty loaf of French bread or baguette

- pickles and pickled onions

Some like to offer cheddar cheese as well.

We like to add:

- sliced fresh mushrooms

- diced red peppers

- diced green onions

These can go in the tray with a dab of garlic butter before placing a slice of cheese on it and sliding it under the broiler element.

Then there are the meats to grill in garlic butter on the granite cooktop. Our favourites are:

- prawns

- slices of farmer sausage

- chunks of marinated beef (tenderlion or sirloin)

- cubes of smoked ham

I wouldn't advise using raw chicken due to the danger of samonella contamination.
However our son's care group used halibut and red snapper and found it delicious.
They also tried it with feta and goat cheese and sundried tomatoes.

When the cheese has melted and is beginning to bubble and brown at the edges, pour the melted cheese over the potatoes and french bread. Delicious!

All you need to add for the perfect meal is a nice green salad - one with a little fruit is nice.

This meal has become a favourite for Christmas Eve or Valentine's Day with a group of friends. We've also served it in summer on the patio.

We used to be the only ones among our friends with a Raclette oven.
Now many of our friends own them. In fact, we have been invited for Raclette on
New Year's Eve.
I can't think of a more delicious way to bring in 2009.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Merry Christmas


It is not over,
this birthing.
There are always newer skies
into which
God can throw stars.
When we begin to think
that we can predict the Advent of God,
that we can box the Christ
in a stable in Bethlehem,
that’s just the time
that God will be born
in a place we can’t imagine and won’t believe.
Those who wait for God
watch with their hearts and not their eyes,
always listening
for angel words.

Poem by Ann Weems
“Kneeling in Bethlehem” (1987)

From our family to all of you - May Christ's advent bring newness of heart

and much joy to you this Christmas

The nativity ornament in the photo was given to my husband by his Sunday School teacher when he was just a little guy.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas # 2

On Saturday, we celebrated our 2nd Christmas this year, this time with our oldest son and his family, their 3 kids and our youngest son and his wife.

They helped us decorate the tree ( can that branch hold any more ornaments?)

and joined us as we read the Christmas story.
(now when Harv builds a fire - he BUILDS A FIRE) We opened gifts, tried them outand Rick - true to form, donned the gift wrappings again.He also tested his goggles against GrandPrincess' new ones.
My Dad rocked the youngest grandboy to sleep,and we all enjoyed Raclette for Christmas dinner.
Two Christmases past, 2 more to go! Lucky us.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Marg at has tagged me and so I'm going to rise to the challenge. You're supposed to do the following:

1. Open the 4th picture folder on your computer

2. Open the 4th picture and post it on your blog.

3. Explain the picture.

4. Tag 4 people to do the same!

Now, that took a bit of figuring for me because I organize my pictures by year files and then into 6 month files so I did the closest I could.
Here is my 4 th picture from my 2004/Jan-Jun folder.

It's a foretaste of spring in today's cold howling winds . My husband took this picture in April 04 in my front flowerbed.
Seeing the tulip bloom from a dried up bulb buried deep in the ground is a yearly reminder of our new life in Christ. And that, after all, is the message of Christmas, isn't it? Hallelujah!
Now who shall I tag?
Happy picture hunting.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Connections - old and new.

We had a lovely evening last night - it was VERY cold outside with a howling bitter wind but the company inside was warm and inviting as we made connections old and new.
For some time now I have been part of a recipe blogsite called Mennonite Girls Can Cook.

It was started by a very good cook and engaging writer, Lovella. She and her husband invited us all to get together for food (of course!) and fellowship last night at their home.
I meant to blog this last night when I got home and be the first one to report but got sidetracked and ended up being the last one to share the fun we had.
It's funny - and quite typical of us Mennos - that we were soon making connections - "I think we're related!" - "We both have the same uncle." - "My husband's aunt is your cousin?"
Our husbands settled next to the buffet table and we headed out to the family room and a steady buzz of conversation from both rooms was an indication of similar interests
and budding friendships.Here are (L toR) Judy, Kathy, Trish, Anneliese, Lovella and Julie (Centre front)
And of course, the food was amazing -

The table was filled with Bruchetta, vegetable platter, smoked oysters, stuffed mushroom caps,guacamole, zippy dip, salsa and chips, cheese and crackers, jumbo prawns, apricot chicken skewers, shrimp stuffed celery and curried dip with apples.

For dessert, pavolva, Swedish Tea ring, Linzer cookies, squares and loaf. I hope I didn't miss anything - I do know I tasted everything (except the oysters:<) and it was very good.

Thanks again Lovella for all your hard work - hosting a lovely evening and administrating a great blog.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Getting ready for Christmas

What do you do to prepare for Christmas? When do you begin? I've been reading some of your blogs and so many of you seem to have it together when it come to getting ready for Christmas early. Your trees are up, your houses are beautifully decorated and the Christmas baking is well underway. Some of the mothers whose blogs I follow are conscientiously preparing the hearts of their young families for Christ's advent. I am inspired by their spiritual creativity in this important task.

I have managed to do some Advent readings for my quiet time this year and I actually spent a day baking cookies. You can go to for the recipe for Christmas Cranberry cookies, Jam Jams and Oatmeal Shortbread. However the rest of the Christmas prep just always seems out of reach. I wish my DH and I were a little more organized and better plan ahead-ers.

To set things back even more -this year we started some house renovations in November and what with getting our furnace hooked up (see blog post for Nov 3/08) and business trips and a week at our daughter's in Saskatchewan, plus the every day urgencies, the reno's are still not finished. We decided to put hardwood in both the master bedroom and the dining room. It was so good to get rid of that old shag carpet! Here's a picture of the carpet that is still on the stairs and in the living room. (that's on the long list of future projects!)That green and rust coloured shag was all the rage back in 1976 and has stood up well but it is time for it to GO! We tore the carpet out of the dining room and replaced it with this.

Then we painted 2 walls "Garrison Red and the other 2 in "Moccasin" and put some pot lights in the ceiling. That involved pulling up the carpet in the bedroom above and dismantling the floor! You know how one reno always leads to another? I'll post 'after' pictures of the bedroom when we get the molding and trim up.

We then put up crown molding and baseboards. We also changed the amber glass shades on our antique light fixture to cloudy white ones and spent 2 hours polishing it up. Here is how the dining room looks now.

The painting on the wall is a soft pastel done by my aunt, Barbara Boldt who has a studio in Fort Langley BC. You can see some of her work here: Here is another view of the room.

So far, that's all we've done. There are still some switch plates and switches to be changed and the odd bit of baseboard to put up. It will come. I'm just so grateful that we've got this far. I love the way the room looks now and that hardwood floor is so easy to keep clean.

We're celebrating Christmas with our oldest son, wife and 3 kids and youngest son and wife this coming weekend so the rest of the reno work will have to wait. There is a Christmas tree to put up and decorate, outdoor lights to set up and stairs to decorate. There's also the rest of 2 ABC books to finish for our 2- 4 year old grandboys. (I'm quite sure that won't get done on time.) Oh yes, there is the small matter of completing the gift buying and wrapping. Thankfully we're doing Raclette for Christmas dinner so serving dinner will be easy. (I will try to remember to take pictures so I can share it with you)

All that to do and here I am blogging. Oh my, does this woman have her priorities in order? I'm afraid not! Now it's off to bed and on to a busy, busy day tomorrow.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


I just returned from experiencing a wonderful performance of
"The Messiah"

It was presented and performed by
Calvin Dyck's Songs, Strings and Steps,
the Central Valley Academy of Music,
Valley Festival Singers (Tony Funk director)and
Pacific Spirit Choir (Gerald van Wyck director).
The soloists were Charlene Pauls, Laura Pudwell, John Bacon and Willy Miles-Grenzberg.

Because Harv was still out of town I had an extra ticket and invited my dad to join me and our friends G & E. I did have an ulterior motive for going to this particular performance. Our youngest son is part the Valley Festival Singers. I am so proud of his love of singing. He has an amazing Bass voice and seems to thrive on music that is challenging to sing.

South Abbotsford MB church was beautifully decorated for Christmas with lights and pointsettias and was filled to capacity with anticipation.
The 130 singers, orchestra members and soloists surpassed our expectations.

The familiar songs were performed with skill and emotion. I loved the way the conductor drew the music from the performers, melding them into one glorious voice.
"Comfort Ye my people", "the Glory of the Lord", "For unto us a Child is born", All we like sheep have gone astray" Lift up your heads" had me singing along
(under my breath of course).
"The Hallelujah Chorus" was an anthem of praise that lifted the rafters and had us all on our feet. The duet of trumpet and soloist in "The trumpet shall sound" was amazing and the closing "Amen" brought the whole evening to a majestic finale.

One thing I noticed as I listened to the music was Handel's use of silence to emphasize the words and accent the music. I love the fact that he used Scripture almost verbatim in the songs - each time I read those passages from Isaiah, I "hear" his glorious music.He was a master, who illustrated God's great plan of salvation in a way that stirs the soul and points us to Christ.

What a glorious way to begin the Christmas season.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Visit Vignettes

We had a lovely time visiting the kids and grandkids.
They live in a small town and enjoy all the benefits of a prairie lifestyle.
The library is in the old railway station with a section of track out behind it.

Main street is wide ( there are no mountains limiting space here)
with a dozen or so businesses and services.
The rink is closeby and very well used. Both my son in law and my daughter
are on hockey teams (there are 4 mens teams in this small town!) and
the boys are in skating lessons twice a week.

Grandson E can bike to school where he is in Grade 1. The school is K-12 and every child in town attends it. He's got a great teacher and I got to see his classroom and his schoolwork.

The town also has a seniors home as well as a home and workshop for the developmentally challenged where we attended their annual Christmas Craft Fair. I wish I'd brought my camera as the craft items made there are amazing. There were handmade quilts and table linens in gorgeous colours and patterns, well built, distressed, country syle furniture, angels and snowmen to adorn your home, stitched pictures for the wall and lots of Christmas ornaments and childrens' toys. I bought a couple of things for my Seattle grandkids.

One night during supper the power went out (120,000 people were without power that night) and we spent the rest of the evening playing with the flashlight and playing scrabble by candlelight.

We walked with the boys to the local hardware store where they bought gifts for Grandpa and Grandma and I bought tissue and gift wrap.

We got to babysit one night while Mom and Dad had a date night with friends.

Harv went ice fishing with our Son in law, the grandboys and a whole troop of other fathers and kids.

We girls played Scrabble, baked and made cards. And of course made our greatly anticipated mother/daughter shopping trip to Saskatoon. What a great place to shop. The shops there are different than at home and it's always alot of fun to do it with my daughter.

With the boys, we read books, made pizzas, built Lego,
played Uno and Scrabble (Grandboy E is very good for Grade 1) walked to town,
wrestled and cuddled. All fun for Grandpa and Grandma.
We also celebrated Christmas one day - We used the advent devotional booklet
"The Colours of Christmas" as our focus on Christ's birth.
It's excellent - tying in the whole story of God's love from
Creation on with activities for the children.
It was so much fun watching the boys open their gifts.
Their eyes shone and hugs and thank -yous were liberally distributed.

For Christmas dinner we did Raclette.
For the boys, who hadn't had it before, it was fun and exciting
to cook their own dinner at the table.
(I may have to do a post on Raclette someday.)
It's been a favourite of ours ever since our Swiss neighbours introduced us to it.

Now it's time to go home. Harv left yesterday, traveling south to Swift Current and Regina stopping at Potash mines and wind farms on the way. I have an appointment at home tomorrow so I'm flying home this afternoon.

One Christmas celebrated - two more to go.
That's the way it is when your children are married with a spouse's family
to celebrate with as well.
It works well for our family - every other year we get them all at our place on Christmas day.
This year is the "in-laws" turn and our Christmas is when
we can best arrange it with each of the children. That's fine by me.
We are just so thankful for our children and their spouses and familys. How blessed we are.

Trip to Saskatchewan

Harv and I left Monday evening last week to go and pay a long overdue visit to our daughter and her family in Saskatchewan. We took the Yellowhead Hwy. through Clearwater, Jasper National Park, Edmonton and Lloydminster. We had great weather with no rain or snow and the highways were clear which always makes the trip more pleasant. I love traveling this route. The scenery was spectaular as usual with snow icing all the trees through the mountains.

In Jasper, we once again saw alot of wildlife. We missed the picture of the bears but these fellows posed nicely for us.

What more can one ask than to see, not only God's handiwork - mountains, meadows, rocks and rivers but also his wild creatures . Then to top it off, He paints it all around with a pallet of glorious colour. Absolutely wonderful!
From Psalm 104:
Praise the Lord... O LORD my God how great
You are!
You stretch out the starry curtain of the heavens;
You lay out the rafters of Your home in the rain clouds....
Mountains rose and valleys sank to the levels You decreed....
You make the springs pour water into ravines so streams gush down from the mountains.
They provide water for all the animals and the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
The birds nest beside the streams and sing in the branches of the trees.
You send rain on the mountains ...You fill the earth with the fruit of your labour....
The trees of the LORD are well cared for...
High in the mountains are pastures for the wild goats and the rocks form a refuge for the rock badgers....
You made the moon to mark the seasons and the sun that knows when to set.
You send the darkness and it becomes night when all the forest animals prowl about.
O Lord what a variety of things You have made. In wisdom you have made them all.
The earth is full of your creatures... Every one of these depends on You to give them their food as they need it. When You supply it, they gather it. You open Your hand to feed them, and they are satisfied.