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.