Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Recipe Books Revealed

The big secret was finally out--and the recipe books were given to sisters and nieces at our Gisel Christmas on Saturday. You can tell from all the smiling faces that they were pleased to get them. Amy is in the front on the far right (in the pink--I don't always get my 'right' and 'left' dirctions very well).

I'm sure these will be not only used, but kept as a little piece of history from mother. The only problem is--what will I do with all my time, now that the books are completed? I know I'll think of something!

Apparently everyone wanted a picture of all of us with our books. It all of the sudden seemed quite funny to see all the men with their camaras, preserving this moment in time for blogs, scrapbooks, photo albums, facebook, etc. So of course, we had to get a picture of the men taking pictures.

We all met at the Holiday Inn Express in Fort Wayne and had a great time. They have a big breakfast room and sitting area combo that was great for us to visit, play games, etc. Following are some of the happy faces as we enjoyed spending time with family.

Amy (niece) and T.J. (G-nephew)

Lynn and I

Sheila (sister-in-law), Lowell (Bro) and Rog (b-i-l )

Dan (nephew), his wife Bethany, and niece Katie

Sis Lou, G-niece Tanyale, and her mom, Sharice

Sis Brenda and hubby Bob

We played a game called "Kemp", which I had never heard of before. You can play with unlimited numbers of people (each has to have a partner), and we started with 12 of us, but soon realized it was a little cumbersome with that many. We divided into 2 groups. I am not going to explain the game (not even sure I can do a good job of that); but suffice it to say, it was a bit hilarious and noisy. Thankfully, I don't believe the hotel was very full, or we could possibly have been considered a bit disruptive.

This was our group of six; I was Amy's partner and sitting across from her, but I'm hidden by Dan's head. As you can possibly surmise from this pic, T.J. was obviously the life of the party, and he and his dad Brian (white shirt) kept us in stitches.

We originally weren't going to get together at Christmas, as it is difficult to get everyone there with bad weather, long distances, etc. I am so glad that we decided to still have a family gathering for those that could make it. If my math is correct, this was a little less than half of us, as we have a total of 40 in the family and we had 16 of us there.

We had a great time, and plan to get together with the whole family in June, when the weather is more conducive to travel. I am truly thankful for each family member. My husband said, "you have a great family. Everyone is so nice and you have such fun". I couldn't agree more.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Secret Project

Some of you will remember that a few weeks ago, in one of my posts, I mentioned a secret project that my niece, Amy, and I were working on for a Christmas surprise for our family. It all sort of started, I believe, in late summer, when we obtained some recipe boxes that held my mother's recipes. Amy had one box, and I had the other two. I started typing some of them, to make them more readable, and thought I would put them in a book. Then I decided that my sisters (and sister-in-law) would enjoy having them also. And I just happened to find these really cute recipe books online and bought 4 of them.

Then I called Amy. I thought maybe she would have some recipes I would like to include, and she had said she was going to type some of them also. So I asked if she had started typing any of the recipes yet. She said she hadn't started yet, but then she said, "I thought it would be great to put them in a recipe book for everyone". Well, I explained that I had already planned to do that for my sisters, and she sort of insisted that the grand daughters in her generation would love to have them also.

We agreed to do this, keeping it a secret from everyone else. At the time, I didn't realize how MUCH of a project it would turn out to be. We felt like we needed to type them to be more readable, but decided we would also like to make copies of the originals, so they could have them in mother's handwriting.

Did I mention, I have 4 in my generation, and 7 nieces (granddaughters) so we would be doing 11 books!

I quickly found the web site where I had gotten the books, and ordered the books, plus some additional recipe cards to go in them.

What a process! Amy typed the recipes she wanted to include, and copied the originals, and gave them to me. Because we live so far away from each other, and of course I am retired and have lots of time, I told her I would get them all put together.

I took the typed recipes, cut them to fit the recipe cards, and glued them to the cards. Then I put them in the plastic inserts, and put them in categories with tabs between each (cookies, meats, etc). I found plastic protector sheets to put the originals in, but they were too big, so I had to cut them down and hole punch them to fit, and then of course put the originals in the plastic sheets.

We ended up with 60 recipes in all, so you can do the math--60 x 11--for all the books. Above is a sample recipe page with 2 recipes per page.

Lest you think I'm complaining, and that this was drudgery, that was not the case. I really had fun doing it, although at one point I was feeling very overwhelmed, and wondering if I would ever complete the project. I kept Amy up to date on the progress; at one point a friend was going to help me, but the day that we had designated for her to help she was sick.

I am now very excited to see if everyone likes the books as well as I do. You know how I am with poems, so I just had to write a poem to go in the front of the book. This was the poem, called "Recipes Remembered".

We all can remember so many good things to eat
From Bernice's kitchen, most were healthy, some sweet.
Old recipe boxes among her things were found,
Browsing through them, what treasures did abound.

It seemed only right to preserve them in some way,
To pass on to future generations one day.
There are cakes, breads, casseroles, and cookies by the dozens,
Some were provided by sisters, aunts, friends and cousins.

This recipe book was put together with love (and lots of glue!)
We hope it will bring pleasure to each one of you.
As you look through this book, and try some of the recipes,
We're sure it will bring back many fond memories.

So now the secret is out! Our family members will be receiving their books at about the time this is being posted. (A few of them of course, will not be able to be there, so some were mailed.

Remind me next time I get a great idea like this, that I might want to pencil in a big block of time to get it accomplished! We hope it will be something to treasure, as well as providing lots of good eating.

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Day to Celebrate

Nehemiah 8: 10 Nehemiah said, "Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

These words were written when Nehemiah and the Levites were reading the Book of the Law to al all the people of Israel, after they had returned to their country. The people were weeping, as they listened to the words of the Law.

I don't remember this verse making an impact on me before, but it was in my devotional reading today. There are two things that stood out to me: First, they were weeping as they were listening the words from the Law. and second, Nehemiah instructed them to eat and rejoice, because it was a special day, sacred to the Lord. But he also told them to give food to those who did not have any.

Verse 12 says, Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food, and to celebrate with great joy, because they NOW UNDERSTOOD the words that had been made known to them.

My prayer for myself today, is that I would never take the Word of God for granted, but that I would weep and rejoice because He has given me understanding of His Word, and that He would give me a hunger and thirst to study more that I might learn more of Him. With that understanding comes a responsibility to share the wonderful good news of the gospel with those around me.

I also realize that I have been blessed beyond anything I could think or imagine; and I want to be a vessel that the Lord can use to supply not only physical food or other needs as He leads me to do so, but also be a source of spiritual encouragement and blessing to those I come in contact with.

This day, December 225th, is a day that has been set aside for us to celebrate the birth of our Lord, and to thank Him for the salvation and fellowship that He provided for us through His death on the cross. As we celebrate, let's thank the Lord, for giving us His Word, to give us guidance, comfort, and encouragement!

I rejoice in you today, Lord, for the salvation that You made possible. As Nehemiah said, truly the joy of the Lord is my strength!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Card Connections

Every year for the past several years (actually possibly 12-15 years) I have written a Christmas poem about the events in our lives during that past year. I actually started writing poems back when I was in grade school or junior high. One year back then, I wrote a poem for every member of my family. I still have them, and they are of course a little humerous now.

And every year for the past few years, I think, maybe I really don't need to do that--just send a little card to people I don't see very often. But I guess that writing poems is in my system, and every year, at some point, I get inspired and sit down to write my poem.

I also have thought about trying to shorten the list of people I send them to. But then I remember: I LOVE getting Christmas cards in the mail! There's just something about touching base with people that maybe you don't even see at all anymore, but they have a place in your heart. Family and friends are so important to me, and so I continue to send out many poems.

The true blessing in all of this, is that every year we get many Christmas cards sent to us; I think maybe we are getting more every year. I love seeing the different cards and reading the notes, and many of them also have letters with updates on their family.

As I mentioned, some of these friends I see only rarely and maybe haven't seen them at all for many years. But true friends remain friends forever. I can't help but think about the song by Michael W. Smith: Friends are Friends Forever.

And with the faith and love God's given, springing from the hope we know
We will pray the joy you live in is now the strength you show
We'll keep you close as always, it won't even seem you've gone
'Cause our hearts in big and small ways, will keep the love that keeps us strong.

And friends are friends forever, if the Lord's the Lord of them
And a friend will not say never, 'cause the welcome will not end.
Though it's hard to let you go, in the Father's hands we know,
A lifetime's not too long to live as friends.

Also, at this time of year, we pause to remember that we will always have a friend in our Lord and Savior; one who will never leave us or forsake us, one who will never disappoint us, one who will love us more that we can ever love Him. Let's give Him all the praise and glory this Christmas season.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Visit to Prison

Matthew 25:36, 39-40 (Our Lord speaking) "Ineeded clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me." When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you? The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these my brothers of mine, you did for me'.

Last Spring, our church received a letter from a woman in prison, asking if someone could please write to her. She wrote to our church, because her father had attended our church, and had recently passed away. Because she was in prison, she was not able to attend his funeral.

This letter was given to one of the leaders of our women's ministry; she brought it to me, and asked if I would be willing to write to her; she said she thought of me, because of the experiences I've had with my son. I told her I would be glad to do this.

Thus began our relationship. I have corresponded with Nichole ever since that time; we are able to do this by e-mail now. I have learned much about her. The first thing I wanted to know was if she had accepted Christ as her Savior. She assured me she had, but that she needed someone to help her grow and encourage her.

I gave her some scriptures to read, and have since sent some books to her. I sent her "The Purpose Driven Life", and she went through it faithfully, chapter by chapter. Over the months that we've corresponded, I truly believe she has really grown in her christian walk. She says she has a much more positive outlook, and she has shared the books and her faith with other women there.

I have also sort of become her advocate on the outside. She asked me to phone her Grandmother, as she wasn't able to call her. I did that and found her to be a sweet christian lady, 82 y/o. Nichole also has 2 little children, ages 2 1/2 and 3 1/2, who are staying with their aunt, who has guardianship. Nichole's grandmother and this aunt were supposed to take the kids for a visit to the prison on December 11th. But at Thanksgiving, the father took the kids for a "visit for a couple day", and has not allowed them to go back to the aunt. So this visit didn't take place.

Obviously, Nichole has been very upset with all of this. She asked if her grandmother and I could come for a visit. So we made arrangements to do that. Yesterday, I drove her grandmother, Colleen, and I to Rockville for this visit. We had a wonderful time conversing on the way down, and she filled me in on more of Nichole's background.

We were able to spend 2 hours with Nichole. I found her to be delightful. She has a bubbly personality, and has maintained a positive attitude through all of this. She has taken a CMA and QMA course while there, and is now in a labor apprenticeship, learning factory skills, and will be labor-certified. She is making plans and has goals for when she will be released, hopefully in May 2010. She of course was tearful about her kids. She will be sending a notorized document to the aunt, which she can then take to the police, to get the children back. (The police had said they couldn't do anything without a court order from the mother). There are circumstances which make it rather unsafe for her kids to stay with their dad.

She was so excited to have us visit. She is a beautiful young woman. I prayed with Nichole and her grandmother before we left. I continue to pray for her, that she will indeed be able to get a job and get her life back together when she is released.

I told Nichole that I truly believe God brought her into my life for this period of time. She is very grateful, and says she values our friendship. I also am praying for her kids, that the Lord will keep them safe until she can be re-united with them.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A 90th Year Celebration

At 65, I can hardly imagine what it might be like to live another 25 years. But my Uncle Andy has done just that. On December 21st he will be 90 years old. Some of us were able to celebrate with him on Saturday as we enjoyed lunch at the Harlan Cafe. Uncle Andy has been a blessing and inspiration to me all my life. He and my Aunt Esther were missionaries in Dominican Republic for many years. I can remember going to the airport to see them off to the Dominican, and just before they boarded the plane we sang, "God be with you till we meet again".

(left: Lynn and Mark Rupp (his son), Uncle Andy, Jean Ann & Ray Miller, and Deborah (Deb), his daughter.)
(right: Me, hubby Lynn, Tootie Grieser, Delight Fricke, Lou & Rog Roth)

There are 4 children in the family. His daughter Mary and her husband Jeff are currently doing mission work in Spain. He also has a son Tim, and his family, who live in Alaska. The rest of us in the picture are nieces and spouses. There were 10 kids in my mother's family, so if you do the math, you know this is only a few members of the family. If I counted correctly, there are 37 1st cousins, but there are 272 living relatives in my Grandma and Grandpa Rupp's family.

Uncle Andy has lived a godly life, and is a quiet, gentle man. He is the pastor who married me, both for my first marriage and again this marriage to Lynn. Lynn knew him back when he was in Fort Wayne Bible College and considered him a mentor. So we felt very privileged to share in this little celebration of his 90th birthday.

Proverbs 20:7 The godly walk with integrity; blessed are their children who follow after them.
Blessed also, are cousins, nieces, other family members, as well as countless Dominicans and church members, who have been influenced and blessed by the godly walk of my Uncle Andy.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Getting in the Spirit of the Season

This past Sunday I was privileged to attend the "Living Christmas Tree" presentation downtown Fort Wayne at the Scottish Rite Theatre. This has been done for many, many years; it used to be held at Blackhawk Baptist Church. However, I don't think I've ever seen it before. There were 77 choir members from the community. They started out singing as carolers in front of the huge Christmas tree on stage. There was also an on-going drama. Then about
half-way through the program, the choir members were actually in the tree, with only their heads and white shirts showing.

I was SO glad that I went to this performance. The music was just so uplifting, and I was able to just focus on our Lord, coming as a baby, but then also going to the cross, and coming to life again, in order to provide us with our salvation and fellowship with Him. The program ended with the Hallelujah Chorus. They gave 4 performances; I can only imagine the impact on the members of the choir. I know I get even so much more out of music when I'm participating. It was an amazing tribute to our Lord and Savior.

It's also relaxing for me to just have my tree lights on while I'm reading or studying, and sipping on coffee or hot chocolate.

My husband surprised me by buying me a real wreath. The pine scent filled my house for several days. It came with the bow on it, and i added the other decorations. It's been a lovely addition to my Christmas ambiance.

My nativity scene is one that came from Haiti, thus the figures are Haitian. My husband and I have a heart for the people of Haiti, and will be going there for 2 weeks next March.

This basket was given to me last year by my step-daughter, Janelle. It still looks nice and looks good on my dining room table.

I have been so blessed this past year, and I just want to focus on giving the Lord all the Honor and Glory this season.

For unto us aa child is born,
unto us a son is given,
and the government will be upon His shoulders
And His name will be called
Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God,
Everlasting Father
Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9: 6

Let us come and worship, come and worship, Jesus Christ the Newborn King! Hallelujah!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christ the Saviour is Born

One of the things I love about this time of year is that are many ways to cause us to focus on our wonderful Lord. Saturday night I was privileged to attend an open house at South Scipio Church, where Rebecca's husband is the pastor. (You can see more nativity sets at Rebecca's blog).

It was a really wonderful display of so many nativity sets (Rebecca could probably tell you the number). Some were large and elaborate, some small and simple, some very unique--made out of every day items you could find around the house.

Some of you may remember the Titus Project I've mentioned--a mentoring program for teens sponsored by my church. Erin is the student I've been mentoring, so I invited Erin and her sister Emily to go with us to the open house. I think they truly enjoyed the display.

It goes without saying that no open house is complete without refreshments. It also is a known fact that it's perfectly OK to have your dessert before your meal. We enjoyed some cake and punch, and then took the girls out to the Harlan Cafe for supper (or I guess it's dinner if you're from the city).

I have also befriended and mentored a young lady who is in prison, and she asked me to send her a picture of the manger scene to put on her locker, to remind her of the true meaning of Christmas. So I've thought a lot about the manger and the birth of our Lord.

It is good for us to celebrate Christ's birth as a baby in the manger. But I can never think about the manger without thinking about the reason that the Lord of the universe would humble Himself and come to earth. I am so thankful that He not only came as a baby but He went to the cross and rose again, to provide a way for us to live eternally with Him.

You came from Heaven to Earth, to show the way,
From the earth to the cross,my debt to pay,
From the cross to the grave,
From the grave to the sky,
Lord, I lift Your Name on High!