Archive for October, 2012

Smug

Our grandson, Ryan, who is 7 was at the farm this weekend and he learned to “drive” the golf cart.  Maybe a more accurate description is “steer” the golf cart while I pushed the gas pedal.  He was so proud of himself.  It was amazing how many places he needed to go and things he needed to see and of course he had to drive there and take his eager passengers with him.  At one point I looked at him and he was totally zoned out in his grown-up world.   His hands intently gripped the steering wheel as he stared straight ahead with his face tilted slightly upward and a smile that wrapped all the way around his head.  His face just glowed with joy.  I would have loved to have captured that moment with my camera. It was so precious.  One word just said it all-“smug”.

How to Can and Freeze Applesauce

Homemade applesauce is so good. Today I helped my daughter, Jill, make applesauce using Golden Delicious apples.  The Golden Delicious make a thick, sweet, golden applesauce.  They are  good for canning or freezing and take very little sugar.  Golden Delicious are my favorite all-purpose apple and are available in mid to late September.  They are also good for eating raw, baking, cooking, apple-butter and cider.

We cut the apples in half and take the seeds out before slicing the half in slices.  Do not peel.

We cook the slices in a large kettle on medium heat on the stove.  Add a cup of water to the kettle of apples to help keep them from scorching.  You must stir frequently.

Cook until the apples are soft.

Remove from heat and either squeeze them through a Victoria strainer or a sieve like this to remove the pulp from the skins.

Add sugar to taste and spoon the hot sauce into clean canning jars filling to the lower ridge on the lip of the jar.

Add lids (heated in water) and rings.

Pressure quarts 5 minutes on 5 pounds pressure.

After 12 hours of cooling, remove the rings and store in a cool, dark room.

For detailed information on “how to can” see my blog “How to Use Your Pressure Canner”.

To freeze: put cooled sauce in freezer boxes and freeze.

Other suggestions or tips:

  • If you like a tart applesauce (my favorite) use Transparent Apples  (older variety of green apples) which are available at orchards in late July.  A tart sauce takes a little more sugar but I love the flavor.

  • Jill said she prefers to can the  sweet apple sauce and freeze the tart.
  • My mother likes to peel her apples before cooking and then blend the cooked apples in the blender for really smooth applesauce.
  • A Victoria Strainer is a neat canning gadget to use on apples and tomatoes (for juice).  It very neatly separates the pulp for the skins.

  • I feed the apple peels to my chickens. They love them.

“UP”

“Up”-this two-letter word has more meanings than any other two-letter work. It is an adverb, prep, adj, noun and verb.

It is easy to understand up, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake up?

At a meeting, why does a topic come up? Why do we speak up, and why are the officers up for election and why is it up to the secretary to write up a report? We call up our friends, brighten up a room, and polish up the silver. Warm up the leftovers and clean up the kitchen. We lock up the house and fix up the old car.

At other times this little word has real special meaning. People stir up trouble, line up for tickets, work up an appetite and think up excuses.

We are told to stand up, speak up, look up and shut up.

To be dressed is one thing but to be dressed up is special.

And this up is confusing: A drain must be opened up because it is stopped up.

We open up a store in the morning but we close it up at night. We seem to be pretty mixed up about up!

To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of up, look up the word up in the dictionary. In a desksized dictionary, it takes up almost ¼ of the page and can add up to about thirty definitions.

If you are up to it, you might try building up a list of the many ways up is used. It will take up a lot of your time, but if you don’t give up, you may wind up with a hundred or more.

When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding up. When the sun come out we say it is clearing up. When it rains, it soaks up the earth. When it does not rain for awhile, things dry up. One could go on and on, but I’ll wrap up, for now…my time is up!

Oh…one more thing: What is the first thing you do in the morning and the last thing you do at night?
U
P!
Did that crack you up?

Note: This is not original with me and I do not remember where I found it. If someone knows who wrote it let me know, I would be happy to give them credit for this clever piece.

Clean Up

Saturday was a beautiful day and I did some fall clean-up around the farm. One of my projects was to clean up the clump of trees at the end of our road. They are not actually on our land but it is the first thing you see when you turn onto our road from the main highway.

This pretty clump of trees had gotten trashy with time.   Poison ivy vines were climbing the trunks, branches needed to be trimmed, young rogue saplings were taking root, sticks, beer bottles and other trash were thrown into the mess. The area around the trees was unkempt and needed to be mowed. I had taken notice of the road just east of ours;  someone has cleaned up and mulched a similar group of trees making it look very attractive.  It gave me the idea and motivation to tackle ours, not only for us, but also for the others who live on or drive past our road.  I want them to smile and know I care about our neighborhood.

Sometimes we have to also take a look ourselves and do some clean-up.  It is so easy for “trash” to pile up. How about my thought life, the books I read, the internet sites I browse, the words that tumble out of my mouth, the tweets on social media, the diet I consume, the music I listen to, and the places I go?  Do they represent the godly character I profess?  Do they make me look kind, attractive, approachable, and considerate?

I love the words from Proverbs 4:23-26. “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it springs the issues of life. Put away from you a deceitful mouth and put perverse lips far from you. Let your eyes look straight ahead and your eyelids look right before you. Ponder the path of your feet and let all your ways be established.”

When you approach a business, farm, church, or  home,  “first impressions” matter.  “First impression” is that silent greeter that meets you before a word is spoken, transaction happens or a person is seen and may affect the way in which you want to interact with the person or business. A good “first impression” makes you feel comfortable and welcome.

Just for the record…my next project is to tackle the fence line coming up the front edge of our property.

And just an interesting side note. I went out the road today and someone had stopped and was cleaning up trash littered in the ditch along our road. I had already picked up a bag full on Saturday. Ahhhhhhh. Clean-up can be contagious.

10 More Years

Today I asked my father-in-law, who is 94, what he thinks when he wakes up in the morning? Do you think that this could be your last day?

Without missing a beat he said, “No, I am going to live 10 more years. I think, what am I going to do today? How am I going to get it done? Who is going to help me? What do I need to get it done?”

This man lives on a 40 acre farm and oversees his horse boarding stable. This past week he built a new barb wire fence, with help. He drives the skid loader, tinkers in his shop and is constantly brain storming about his next project.

Ten more years…he just might make it. Longevity seems to be a Hertzler trait!

Thank You

Yesterday an older couple came into the store. They paused at door and the gentleman opened the door for his wife. She said, “Thank-you” as they stepped in. I noticed.  A few minutes later I said to her, “I just have to tell you. I  heard you say thank-you for the kindness your husband showed you. I just want to tell you thank-you”.  They expressed love by the consideration,  honor, and respect they showed towards the other through a very simple, mundane action. The lady was totally capable of opening the door for herself.  It was a very interesting and thoughtful conversation that followed. They had been married 55 years and they still treat each other with kindness.  I too am blessed with a husband who always opens the door for me but I am not sure if I always say thank-you.

One of the first social graces I was taught as a child was to say “thank-you”: thank-you for the candy, thank-you for lunch, thank-you for helping me, thank-you for the birthday present, thank-you for taking me with you. Thank-you is our way of expressing appreciation for something someone has done for us. It is the kind, polite, and proper thing to do and quite often I had to be reminded.

Several years ago my aunt and uncle passed away and each remembered their nieces and nephews in their wills. I wanted to say thank-you but couldn’t. I was left wondering how one expresses thanks.

Sometimes a thank-you just does not seem like enough such as when you have been given a big gift; a large sum of money, an educational scholarship, an inheritance, a new car, a debt forgiven, or the trip of a lifetime. How do you express that thanks? Do we jump up and down, squeal, hug or say thank-you, thank-you, thank-you?

How do you say express gratitude to someone for the gift of time, a Godly heritage, a cherished friendship, a faithful spouse, and treasured children? I wonder, if I have the opportunity to choose, what will be my last words to my spouse? I think I would choose “thank-you”.

Scripture reminds us “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord” (Psalms 92:1). God has given us so much and it is a good reminder to stop and say thank-you to the one who has given us life and breath. I had to pause and think of all the many, many blessings God has given me. And I remember the gift of salvation, free for the taking, from Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The debt he paid for me is worth more than the value of the whole world. My debt is stamped “paid in full” and as His child I get an inheritance whose value is beyond comprehension. How can I ever express my deep-felt thanks for such an undeserving gift?

I am reminded of the song, “Give thanks with a grateful heart”. Just maybe this unlocks the secret to true thanks. It is more than just a scribbled note or expressed words. There is something different about a grateful heart. It overflows with love, compassion, joy and praise. A grateful heart accepts the gift with humility and joy knowing it was given out of love and can not be repaid. A grateful heart does not need to be reminded to say “thank-you”.

What Would Jesus Do?

In the midst of all the political clamor, spin, and saber rattling, I keep seeing the question “What would Jesus do” pop up on facebook.   One recent fb post went like this…

  • J: Jesus was not a Republican.
  • H: Sorry to burst your bubble but he was not a Democrat either.
  • W: He was a socialist.
  • H: No W, He was the Son of God.
  • W: He is for you, H.
  • J: He was as we all are…..
  • H: And He can be for you too W.
  • C: I think he was an independent.

I have been thinking about the absurdity of this and other similar posts. It is good to think about how Jesus would have us respond to situations that we find ourselves in.  How would Jesus have us  think and respond to life situations? But I wonder,  are we really ready for His answer?

The people in Biblical time,  had a warped view of their expectations of who Jesus was and his mission on earth.  They expected a political savior, an earthly king,  one that would usher in a new era of freedom from the oppressive Roman regime.  The Pharisees and Sadducees,  the religious leaders of the time, thought they understood the law and were experts at keeping every detail.   The disciples, his closest friends, struggled to come to terms with Him.  They were looking for the Messiah but to know for sure, without a doubt, that Jesus was the one was a difficult thing for them to come to terms with.  After his death and resurrection they saw and understand clearly that Jesus truly was the long awaited Messiah, the Son of God.

As I ponder the “WWJD” question, I thought about the recorded stories in the Bible.  Jesus….

  • Ate and socialized with tax collectors and other known sinful men. He  sat at the table in their homes socializing with these “unclean, social outcast” folks.  When asked why,  he responded, “People who are well do not need a doctor. I want loving-kindness and not a gift to be given. I did not come to call good people but sinners.”  (Matthew 9:9-13).
  • Healed on the Sabbath even though the  Old Testament law gave strict rules for observing the Sabbath.  Jesus said  He was Lord of the Sabbath and desires mercy not sacrifice. (Matthew 12:1-8)
  • Told the rich young ruler to sell everything he owned and give to the poor and then come follow Him. (Luke 18:18-23). (Note: He didn’t tell this to everyone).
  • When a woman who was caught in the very act of adultery was brought to him for judgement, he turned to the accusers and said, “let him who is without sin, throw the first stone.” (The sentence for adultery was stoning). When the accusers had all slipped away Jesus forgave her sin and told her to go and sin no more. (John 8:1-12)
  • Sat and talked with a Samaritan woman. No Jew talked to the hated, cross-breed Samaritans. They walked out of their way to avoid even walking through their land.  Jesus talked to her even though she was a 5-time divorcee and living with another man.  Jesus offered her “living water” and guess what. She went and brought out the village to hear him. (John 4:1-26)

Jesus said he did not come to destroy the law but to fulfill it. Here are some of  Jesus teachings….

  • The law says we should not commit adultery. Jesus said if you look at a woman and lust after her you commit adultery. (Matthew 5:27-30)
  • Love your enemies, bless people that curse you and pray for those who spitefully use and persecute you. (Matthew 5:44)
  • If an evil person slaps you on the cheek, turn and let him slap the other cheek.  If he sues you and takes away your tunic, give him your coat also. (Matthew 5:39)
  • The law says that whoever murders is in danger of eternal judgement. Jesus said if you are angry with your brother without cause you are guilty of murder. (Matthew 5:21-22)
  • Don’t judge others.  The way you judge others is the way you will be judged. (Matthew 7:1-5)
  • Every idle word a man speaks, he will give account of it in the day of judgement. (Matthew 12:36)
  • We are to forgive 70X7. If we don’t forgive, God will not forgive us. (Matthew 18:21-35, Mark 11:25-26)
  • Equality of people.  Greatness is serving others. (Matthew 20:20-28)
  • Pay our taxes, give to our government what is due. (Matthew 22:15-21)
  • Evil things (evil thoughts, adultery, fornication, murder, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, and foolishness) that come from the heart of men are what defile him, not the food he eats. (Mark 7:14-23)
  • Marriage is sacred and binding. (Matthew 5: 31-32, Mark 10:1-12)
  • Beware of covetousness-wanting more and more for one’s life does not depend in the abundance of things he possesses. (Luke 12:15-21)
  • The love we show to others is a reflection of our love for Him. (John 13:33-35)
  • We are to go the second mile for people who take advantage of us. (Matthew 5:41)

This is hard stuff!  His teachings may be easy to read but applying them to real life situations is difficult because we live in a broken world.  Jesus answers and actions usually surprised and defied the religious leaders. It did not fit their tradition of religious law. Jesus transcended the law and moved people to see that the motives of the heart were as important as the actual act. He wants us to value and care for others as much as we value and care for ourselves. He taught us to put our faith and trust in God to supply our needs rather than our wealth.

Jesus paid the ultimate price. He died a cruel death, the worst kind of death and torture imaginable because of  His love for you and I.  Our sin is a debt and we can not pay it.  But Jesus paid that debt so I can be free from the bondage of sin. I just have to accept that marvelous, wonderful gift.

So what would Jesus do in 21st century life? To be honest, I don’t know and it makes me a little uncomfortable to try to fit Him into my mold.   I do know that He would not be involved in the political arena, serve on committees at church, sing in the choir, serve as overseer of a denomination, stage a sit-in or march on capital square even though these may be good things.  I probably would be surprised and maybe even a little offended at His teaching,  style and ministry.

Jesus did not come to judge but to show us the Father’s love.   He met people where they were at and offered them hope, love, deliverance, and truth.  I do know that He will give us wisdom.  The Holy Spirit will guide us into truth if we seek for it. I do know the Bible is for real and it’s words transcend time. I do know that Jesus would want us to value  life, respect people, care for the needy, speak peace and encouragement to those who are lonely,  hurting and depressed. I do know that He would want us to visit those who are sick and in prison. He would want us to share His light, His truth, and His salvation to a hurting, sinful world.  Maybe, just maybe,  I should ask instead, “What would Jesus have me to do?”

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