We went to Kansas a couple of weeks back so I could work with Judy Miller on our next book. We also got to be with the grandkids and kids to celebrate Christmas. I grew up in Topeka, Kansas and lived there most of my first 40 some years. I enjoyed a couple of years in the Dallas area and the last 9 - almost 10 now in Montana. There's always something interesting about seeing where you grew up after being away for a while.
Anyway, we got to have some special time with the grandkids and give them their gifts early. Max is going through a zebra stage, so our having found a rocking zebra turned out to be just the thing. Dad might question our sanity since it required - some assembly.
Fox likes transformers and again Dad came to the rescue to help put the toy together.
I remember Jim and I putting a swingset together under cover of darkness with Jim's dad. Talk about a nightmare.
Rainy is very much a girly girl and enjoyed her presents. There were pretty things for her hair and a princess comforter for her bed, as well as other things. Here she is with Mr. McNibbles the family teacup Yorkie.
All in all we enjoyed ourselves greatly and even managed to get this family photo minus a few much loved members who were elsewhere.
So from our house to yours, I wish you the best of Christmases. I pray that you will draw closer to each other and to the Lord--that you will celebrate His wondrous gift throughout the year, and that 2011 will be a year of incredible blessing to you and yours.
Christmas is a time of year when I really miss black walnuts. Having grown up in Kansas, we were blessed to have a huge black walnut tree in my grandmother's front yard. Later we bought her house and it became our tree.
From the time I was able to walk, I learned about the walnut stomp. If it happened to be a year for the walnuts to bear, we would see crazy looking green balls growing on the tree.
By fall these would drop off and the walnut stomp began.
Now for the walnut stomp you needed old grubby shoes and gloves (unless you wanted stained hands for weeks on end), old clothes that you didn't mind getting stained, and good balance. The green husks had to be taken off the walnut itself, so we would stomp and roll and mush and wrestle with those husks until we were left with little black balls instead of green ones.
Of course, that wasn't the end of it. Black walnuts have to dry and so my grandmother had a perpetual supply that went from year to year drying in her old-fashioned, dirt floor basement. We'd pick up the previous batch and put them aside for cracking and lay down the new year's supply for drying.
With that done, we went to work cracking dried black walnuts. Walnut shells are not for the faint of heart. You won't find very many people who can crack these black beauties with their hands. I always relied on a hammer. In fact, we usually cracked a whole bunch, put them in a pan or bag and then spent cold evenings getting the meats out of the shell in a warm house.
So having spent years upon years counting on black walnuts to be available for pumpkin and banana nut bread, fudge and other candies, etc. moving to Montana proved to be a nightmare. It's almost impossible to get a black walnut up here. In fact, I've run across folks who didn't even know there were different kinds of walnuts!
But what can I expect? They don't grow here. They are an eastern US tree and Montana is clearly in the wild west.
So yes, I'm jealous of the fact that Judy Miller, Kim Sawyer and Tamara Alexander can easily get black walnuts and I can't.
However, I want to make black walnut bark.
No - not the tree kind, but the white and dark chocolate, peppermint kind.
I want black walnut chocolate chip, oatmeal cookies. I just want to snack on black walnuts.
So I managed to find some on-line.
Thank the Lord for online shopping. My black walnuts are slated to arrive tomorrow and I couldn't be happier. They are my Merry Christmas to me presents. The bread and fudge will be Christmas for everyone else.
Written in the 1870's by Frances "Fanny" Crosby - that awesome woman who wrote over 8,000 hymns and poems to declare her faith in Jesus. She was blind from infancy, not born that way, but blinded due to a botched medical procedure for an inflammation in her eyes. Her father died when she was a year old and her mother and grandmother raised her. At 15 she attended a school for the blind and learned to play piano and guitar. She eventually joined the staff at the school, later lobbied in Washington D.C. for the blind and eventually married a fellow blind musician. They had one daughter who died in infancy. And still - in spite of all these obstacles, trials and sorrows, Fanny gave us so many great works of praise.
This week has been full of ups and downs, but over and over this song keeps coming to mind.
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.
Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels, descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blessed,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.
What a testimony! How amazing that such wonderful praises of God's glory should be so perfectly witnessed and shared by a woman who might have been physical blind, but whose spiritual vision was better than 20/20.
Rest in Him this week. Rest in God's blessed assurance and know that perfect peace.
This week we got our tree up and my snow village out, and the nativity set unboxed and it's indeed starting to look like Christmas in the Peterson house.
My son Erik decorated the tree and even set up my village. It seemed important to him, so I let him have complete freedom. He did a nice job - especially on the village.
We're not doing much in the exchange of gifts this year. We all pretty much have what we want or need, so our real gift to each other is a trip to see the grandkids for just a few days. I'm definitely looking forward to that.
There are still plenty of things to get done before the end of the year. Appointments and shopping and even a few parties. But for the most part, I'm just as happy to stay inside and enjoy the blessings of home and family.
In fact, with the temperatures down in the teens and lower, and losing the light earlier and earlier, staying in at night suits me just fine. A nice cozy fire, cup of hot chocolate, a good book or a laptop to write a book - and I'm quite content.
So as we flash right into the Christmas season and close out another year, I wish for you all the beauty of the season, and all of the joy. I pray you will find yourself closer to God at the close of the year than you did at the beginning, and that this Christmas will bless you in a very special way.
Counting my blessings in Montana.
Life at its best for me is one that is heavily dosed with family and friends. I'm so blessed to have a good share of both and there's nothing like the holiday season for reminding me of how precious they are to me.
Thanksgiving always brings me thoughts of what it means to be truly thankful for the people in my life. I think I've come to the conclusion that when you can endure each other's flaws and painful realities and still find yourself grateful at the end of the day to call that person family or friend--then you are truly blessed in a way that money could never buy.
I'm very grateful for my blog sisters here - Robin, Tammy, Kim, Judy and Cathy. These women have become dear friends over the years, and while I know some better than others and have to repent of various envies I have of each of them, I am so thankful God brought them into my life. I have learned so much from them and they have blessed me in ways that they'll probably never know. So thank you, my sisters.
I'm very thankful for my church family. I have an incredible women's ministry team who work with me to put together programs for our women. They are devoted to sharing the love of Jesus with each other and with the community. We are a tiny church, but this year we put together over 70 Christmas boxes for Samaritan's Purse and had such a great time doing it.
There are also incredible men who attend our church and they have been a blessing I'm thankful for as they have ministered to my husband and me on so many occasions. Topping the list - our pastor and his wife are a huge blessing. I'm thankful we live in a country where we are allowed to worship freely and I know that God has given me a precious gift in this church body.
There are of course so many friends in my life that I'm very grateful for. Far too many to name here, but they know who they are. There are those who have been with me since childhood and those who have walked through the very worst life could dish out. There are those who have come later in my life, but who also have encouraged me through tough times. Together they make up a special part of who I am and why I'm here. I thank God for them and their patience with me.
Lastly, my family - both close and extended. How precious you are to me. I'm so thankful God made us a family--that despite the problems of life--we have each other. I have such great family in my aunts and uncle, cousins, niece and nephew and this year my new grand-niece.
My children Jen, Julie and Erik were the completion of my life. My son-in-law Geoff and three grandkids were icing on that completion. My mother and sister Karen
are faithful to encourage and when you add my sis's husband Pete we have a terrific game of dominoes.
I'm grateful for my African son John Pierre and his wife Albine and my 6 granddaughters - Merville, Christa Bella, Ruth, Tracie, Fiorintina, and Ayolina.
My husband Jim and I have been married nearly 31 years and the ride resembles a roller coaster with highs and lows--but I'm so blessed to be here at this time and place and realize what a gift we have in our relationship.
And best of all - the legacy of my parents, and their parents and theirs and theirs etc. was steeped in a faith in Jesus Christ. How blessed I am, and how very thankful I am for His gift.
So this week--this season--I'm very thankful for my family and friends and the love that they have shown me throughout my life. You are a lifeline to me and Jesus with skin on. Thank you.
I'm even thankful for snowblowers! Here I'm layered with 4 tops, 2 bottoms, 2 pairs of gloves, a muffler, a fur-lined hat, woolen socks and snowboots for my -20 degree winter wonderland.
No, I'm not giving my hubby or mother a hard time. They aren't the babies at our house. The babies I'm talking about are our kitties. Since I'm traveling this week, I thought I'd just share a short and simple look at our house.
With our beloved collie gone, we have put off getting another dog until spring and the kitties are more than happy about this.
My husband Jim calls them his "cat team" or more officially his "Rocky Mountain Feline Response Team". Someone once challenged this title saying that they were cats and really couldn't respond, but as Jim put it - any response of any kind from them would indeed be a Feline Response, and hence the title stays.
We're down to two cats at present, but at times have had three. For a couple of years we took care of our grandkitty Simon (our daughter Jen's cat).
He's now living with his Meowme and happily enjoys being the focus of her life.
That leaves just
Cal or Calvin J Whiskers as he is formally called,
Safari who we worry might very well be demon possessed. Of course it could just be that she's 1/2 Siamese.
These two give us plenty of entertainment and hours and hours of love. They are good nappers too, and have definitely encouraged more naps at our house.
Come spring we hope to get a new puppy - possibly another collie, but for now the kitties rule and that's A-ok. They have earned a rest.
I just want to take this day to thank Veterans for what they've done for us. In fact, I want to give a special shout out to my uncle Paul who served on a B-17 during World War II. You can see his picture below. Veterans Day was yesterday, but frankly I think we need to doff our caps to Veterans everyday. Their sacrifice over the years has kept this country free.
That's Uncle Paul in the center of the front row!
The wars are different, but the faces are much the same. The needs and longings of the soldiers and their families continue down through the years.
Our soldiers are men and women, sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, grandfathers and grandmothers, and dear friends.
They give above and beyond all that anyone should ever have to give.
Marine Staff Sgt John Jones by Timothy Greenfield Sanders
Freedom comes at a high cost. May we never take it for granted or dismiss the value of our veterans' efforts. God Bless each and every soldier and their families. May you live in protection and encouragement - as we live in the freedom and safety you have provided.
You know how they say you should "Never say never?" Well...generally I would agree with that, but there are some things that I think I can say, "I will never...."
For instance: Gold Lame'
I can pretty confidently say I will never buy gold lame' clothing - at least not willingly.
And how about a boar's head. Nope - not springing for one of those. I can pretty honestly say that I never intend for a boar's head to grace my walls.
Oh, and I will never buy a book on "How To Look Great In A Bikini" Yeah, that's not happening, because I can promise you I will never wear a bikini.
But there are other things I'll say "never" to - and they are more positive "nevers".
I will never stop loving my children or grandkids. No matter what - no matter if they grow up to do terrible things - I will love them always and forever.
(Yikes - Rainy is starting to look like her Nana Tracie)
I will never like/love liver
- except the one inside my body. And yes, that is a positive, because it makes me very happy to say so, and
I will never stop praising and loving God for all that He's done. God has blessed me in so many ways and although life has had it's ups and downs this year and all the years before--I am so very blessed to know Him. What a priviledge to be His.
Today may seem filled with nevers for you. I'll never get the job I want. I'll never be the mom/dad I should be. I'll never find true love. I'll never be out of debt. Whatever the "nevers" I have one that you should "NEVER" forget.
God said in Deuteronomy: "Never will I leave you nor forsake you." That's the most awesome "never" I know, and because of that - I think I will say "never" and say it will great confidence.
Sorry for missing my blog last week. I was swamped and totally forgot until it was well into the day. Hopefully, that won't happen again.
I had a great time at the Women's Event at the 1st Alliance Church in Great Falls, MT and wanted to share a little bit with you. There were about 80 people in attendance.
The church advertised it as a "Novel Luncheon with Tracie Peterson" and they put on a wonderfully catered lunch with a trio of singers who were so phenomenal. By the time I got up to speak, I already felt that I was in the company of good friends.
My focus was on Letting go of the Past. I used the verses from Isaiah 43:18 & 19.
"Forget the Former Things; Do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland."
One of the things that God keeps bringing me back to is how we drag around the past and it weighs us down and makes the journey much less fun. It's like taking a trip somewhere you've always wanted to go, but packing 3 really heavy suitcases of stuff to take along. You spend all your time worrying about that stuff, checking on it--pulling it out to use--putting it away to keep safe. You bear the burden of all that extra weight--and in the process the trip is no longer as much fun as it might otherwise have been.
My husband and I have gone to England several times - sometimes for as much as two weeks at a time.
We've learned to pack light. In fact - we can do 2 wks abroad with nothing more than a back pack each. However, one year we went and took large suitcases. We were concerned for some reason about having enough stuff and packing room for presents. We were miserable.
Dragging around extra weight whether physical or emotional is never any fun. It serves one major purpose and that is to exhaust you. Oh sure, with more luggage we had more choices of clothes, didn't have to wash anything out, and brought back more presents. But by discarding the extra burdens we were freed up to move quickly, get into places that we might not have gone with large bags, and truly had more energy. The same is true for emotional baggage from the past. It is so difficult to move forward when you're dragging the past along with you and I think that was one of the big reasons God gave us these verses.
So today, I'm encouraging you to dump the baggage. "Forget the former things." Do not be exhausted by dragging around a bunch of unnecessary stuff. "Do not dwell on the past."
Let God do a new thing and watch streams pop up in the wastelands of your life.