Saturday, November 17, 2007


Haze of moonlight on the field,
Cows are lowing soft goodnight;
Hoot owls chortle in delight,
Harvest moon - its magic sealed.
Far below it's blaze of might,
November winds their powers wield
Barren branches refuse to yield,
Their naked arms embrace the light.
Harvest moon, such glorious shield
From harsh winter's coming blight,
Shadows merge with thee this night,
As earth's bustling is stilled.
Soft the hue, such beauteous light,
My loving Maker, oh so skilled,
I stand in frailty, small, yet thrilled,
To share this moment of pure white.
- Jen Christner

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Let's Go Sailing In A Hot Air Balloon

I took this picture a few days ago while we were out on one of our many deep country drives. I wish that I could say that this is the exact way the picture turned out on my camera, but it is not. With a little help from Adobe Photoshop Elements, I managed to capture the blue that the sky really was. However, I still like my camera. I just have not learned all the "bells and whistles" that go with "pro" photography.

Looks like fun, doesn't it?
"OH, I'm on top of the world, lookin' down on all creation........................."

Thankful Reflections

Dear readers, Here is something I wrote and shared with our church family tonight in honor of the coming holiday. I hope you enjoy!

I am sure that every person has special Thanksgiving memories which they could share, and I wish that time would permit us to do just that. But, since this was a rather spur-of-the-moment idea for service tonight, I will share some things that are special to me at Thanksgiving time.
I have to say that I am sad, nostalgic, and excited all at once this year. Only a person with bi-polar tendencies could experience all of these emotions at once, but I will leave that up to you to decide on! Joking, joking...
I am sad because Daddy will be alone on Thanksgiving — my sister, Ruth, is a nurse and has to work that day. My other sister had other plans. I am 700 miles from home with no way to try to recapture a little of the grandeur which Mother always managed to create for our special holiday.
I am nostalgic because all I have are sweet memories to hold close on Thanksgiving. In the midst of this rather morose litany though, I have to pause and say to you, Isn’t it so wonderful that God has given us memories? I am so very thankful this year that, even as I feel tears running down the windowpanes of my heart, the memories of holidays past kindle the flames of recollection which warm my very soul. I have no doubt that my courageous father will be beside that hearth of memory as well, sitting by enjoying the memories of what was.
I am excited because God has been so gracious to me and has allowed me the opportunity to work amongst people who are gracious and loving. When I wander through the rooms of the parsonage and remember the cramped, cluttered space which we called home for the past five years, I am filled with so much gratitude that you have provided your pastor and family with such a lovely home. I feel so unworthy. Yet, I have to say that I am enjoying decorating and preparing for Thanksgiving.
I love the traditions which surround Thanksgiving: turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie. I love the after-dinner ride into the country for a couple of hours. Now, there was one time when I failed to have much love for the after- dinner ride. Travel twenty years back with me: My family was out on this traditional ride when a rather raucous booming sound announced the demise of an already paper-thin tire. Back then, filling stations, grocers, everything, closed, so here we sat, in the country with a flat tire, thirty miles from home and helpless. My poor father tried the can of "flat-tire fixer" which he actually happened to have along, but it is rather hard to repair something that looks like grandma’s flour sifter in the first place. Then, Daddy found a piece of plastic which fit perfectly in the shred that called itself a tire. Excitement reigned for the space of half a minute as the plastic held on long enough to raise the tire just enough to raise our hopes. Another loud explosion sounded and we all bailed from the car, sure that Daddy was now half the size he had been when we left the house (from being blown in half, of course).
Eventually, my father managed to contact a neighbor of ours by payphone and he drove thirty miles to bring us a spare tire that was in almost as bad a shape as the one which had expired in such an untimely manner. But, do you know what I remember most? I remember the fact that someone interrupted their special day to help us out and the gratitude that filled my nine year old heart when they pulled up beside our stranded family. I was also never so glad to see home as I was that night.
As I said, I love traditions, but this year, I have decided to not be so bound to being traditional that I cannot enjoy some new things, too. So, I am taking a huge risk (not something I like to do as a general rule), and making traditional foods with all-new recipes. I refuse to live in a tradition of heartache over the past when God has given me such a bright present and glorious future. I may have a moment of sadness when I think of what was, but I have every reason to look forward and celebrate life, family, friends, and love right now.
If I were homeless on the street with nothing but the clothes on my back, no money and not knowing where my next meal would come from, I could still find the spirit of celebration in my heart because of this one thing: No matter what happens to the physical body, as long as my soul is safe in Jesus, I have every cause to be thankful. I hope I never have to put these words to the test, but if I should, I hope I will be able to remember this and lift my heart in praise to the Redeemer of all.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Happy Autumn Days to one and all! I have spent the last few days perusing my old traditional recipes, shopping for ingredients, checking out new ideas for traditional foods on, and generally getting very excited about the coming holiday.
For those of you who do not know this already: I am not one to do a lot of cooking. One look at my profile picture testifies to the fact that I have indulged one happy meal too many, but when Thanksgiving time comes 'round, all my matronly, housewife and chef instincts come to the 'fore.
This year is so special, as I have such a beautiful home to enjoy decorating with fall decor like the little guy above. Now, technically, I think it is a girl, but all stuffed items are "he/guys" to me :-)
More than that, I am filled with such gratitude at all the things which God has blessed me with - things I did not deserve, yet His gracious love gave them anyway. We are such a blessed nation and people!
Things are fun, but they are not the most important part of life. When I realize what great lengths a holy God would go to so that I could have forgiveness and an eternal home with Him, my heart overflows with thankfulness, gratitude and humility. (P.S. Check out my latest book: Humility and How I Obtained It!) HA! You know what I mean...
Nevertheless, I am looking forward to the smell of roasting turkey, baking pies, cinnamon sticks simmering on the stove, and all the excitement of getting ready for our happy day. At the same time, I have decided to branch out in my culinary skills and go for some new recipes this year.
However, the results will be shared after the antacids have been faithfully ingested and the mention of food no longer stimulates a cacophony of groans across the blog world!
Join me in the excitement of planning, baking, and, yes, feasting, as we praise the Bountiful Giver of all things.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Autumn Evening in Amish Country

Treasures in Simplicity

One evening, last week, Alan, Emily and I drove out to Amish Country-only 10 miles from where we live- to relish the beauty of God's marvelous creation in the simple, unfettered setting of the Plain people.

Alan recently bought me a sweet little camera for our 7th Anniversary. It is an Olympus SP-550 UZ. This particular camera has flattened the market for all other point-and-shoot camera's. An SLR expert wrote on "DPREVIEW.COM" that it is the closest thing to SLR that you can get. With an amazing 18X optical zoom, I can reach out and touch someone from quite a distance. So, together, we armed ourselves with cameras (he is a Nikon, SLR fan, while I like something to take video with), and ventured out to roads that are not even marked on any map. Here you see a couple of my favorites from that marvelously fun evening.

We were some distance away when we topped the hill to find these young girls gathered excitedly in the road discussing the next quilting, barn raising, or "happening." I could not resist this nostalgic shot with the buggy in the background and the general pastoral view surrounding these girls.

In the next scene, I screeched for Alan to stop when I saw the absolutely gorgeous light of the setting sun on these flaming trees. The shadow from the ridge behind me had darkened the Amish farm below, but the light still shone brilliantly on those beautifully arrayed trees. And if you are a hopeless romantic like I am, the fence post in the foreground of the picture really makes the picture nice. Oh well, I think its pretty anyway :-)
I have more pictures to share, but I must get some rest for tomorrow is another big day full of exciting adventures. I love the fact that God gives us such a wonderful life when we live for Him. No. Life is not always easy, but it definitely is interesting!
God said, I make all things new! And I believe that includes every day and event in our lives. Hold on to that thought today as Thanksgiving approaches.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Overflowing October Daze!

Hello everybody! It is with red face that I begin this latest update in the saga of our lives. Why? Because, I never posted one thing this last month, but here is why:
I have never had such a busy month in my life, I think.

This past month, we have hosted two missionary families, a college quartet, our ever-expanding youth group from the church, and two Workdays on Saturday the 21st and the 28th. Not only this, Alan also prayed with a dying woman to be saved then conducted her funeral (his 1st funeral) one week later. Also, our church people absolutely outdid themselves in expressing their love and appreciation to our family for "Pastor's Appreciation Month." The first Sunday we received a food "pounding" along with almost two-hundred dollars worth of gift cards to local grocers. The 2nd week a generous love offering was lifted for us. The 3rd week, we received a lovely dinner on Sunday, prepared by several of the gracious ladies of our church. I might add that it was fabulous! Then this past Sunday we received a card shower in which there were many kind and special words of affirmation for us. We are spoiled and well-loved and blessed by the precious people of our congregation. My conclusion to all of this love is that I want to strive to be worthy of all of this blessing and be the best person I can be to each of our parishoners.

As you can readily see, I have been too busy to know whether I am coming or going. I forgot to mention that I participated in a local cooking class, and Alan and I celebrated our 7th Anniversary on the 14th of October. Phew! I am worn out looking at this long list of "happenings!" I have many more things to tell, but for now I will stop and take this up later.

I am thankful for the verse that tells us, Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy-laden and I will give you rest. Soul-rest goes a long way in helping you to cope with the busyness of life. That is what I love about my precious Savior and Lord. God Bless You, dear friend.