Great Kitchens

kitchenmagI subscribe to a number of pages on Facebook, including Homespun Wife  and My Farmhouse Love. (If you are on Facebook you can see their pages by clicking on the links.) I like these pages, because they are a perpetual source of good thoughts and smiles with home and country scenes in paintings and photographs. The images remind me of all the blessings in life, regardless of what else is going on.

One page I like has photographs of country kitchens in farmhouses, which I love. The kitchens are gorgeous with the latest designs featuring all the beautiful ways you can have a kitchen designed with a country and farmhouse theme.

I have had many different kitchens in my lifetime, including some very small and shabby ones years ago. When I was a single parent with two little boys to raise, I lived in the upper unit of a 1920’s duplex. It was old and worn, but it was roomy and met our needs perfectly at the time. The kitchen still had the original sink, however. The landlord painted the old cupboards white and put in an inexpensive counter top for the small stretch of counter that was there. The linoleum was faded yellow, and it was old. My aged fridge that I bought from a sale at an apartment house and a gas stove were the only other features of that room. I put up a cheery, bright set of curtains, and that was about all I could do. But it’s funny, I have warm memories of that old kitchen.

That was where I made popcorn with my two little fellows in their pajamas,  chopped veggies for soup and cut up apples for their snacks. That’s where the old radiators hissed and clunked around, but kept the heat evenly warm on the coldest nights. We had all we needed, and we were cozy, and we had love.

For nine years, up until we moved this summer, Tom and I lived in a nice home, the only downside of which was a very small kitchen. It was something I overlooked when we bought the house, because several other things about the house distracted me at the time. Pans regularly fell out of the one cupboard I had for them, because they all had to go in there, stacked on top of each other. It was love’s labor lost trying to organize it. There wasn’t nearly enough cupboard and pantry space or floor space for a family our size. When the oven door was open, it was difficult to walk. I mentally complained every time pans came crashing out at my feet. It was a secret (albeit wry) joke to me, and I would think, “This kitchen is part of your sanctification process, Ingrid. Patience. Some day you’ll maybe have a better cupboard situation!”

When we moved this summer, the ONLY house we found in our small town that worked for us in our situation had one outstanding feature—a kitchen with a long length of counter top, an unusually large number of cabinets, TWO built-in pantries for groceries, and a built-in hutch in the dining room. As a bonus, the shelves even pull out! For a small ranch home, it was amazing and delightful. I have said “Thank you, Lord” many times since July and have smiled looking up, because of the small joke between the Lord and me. He knew what we needed, and He amazingly provided it. He made me wait a while, but, the smallest kitchen in America is a palace kitchen to the rest of the world. Perspective helps everything. I am very, very grateful.

In the end, though, it’s the people in the kitchen that make it a happy place…or not. You can have a gleaming magazine kitchen with all the mega, super, ultra counter tops and appliances, but if you don’t have loving people around you,, it’s not a very joyful place. (If you have both, you are doubly blessed! Enjoy!)

As a bonus, the floor space is big enough for my sweet grandsons to have their own little table when they come over to eat, and the smooth floor is great for hot wheels cars, also. Much fun to come in our kitchen, Lord willing, as baby Gianna joins the other two grandbabes. Thank you, Lord, for the people who make any room, be it fancy or shabby, a little bit of heaven. Thank you for love that makes it that way.

Here is just a part of my new kitchen. Room for Em’s Betta fish, the famous Princess Frilly, and my rooster cookie jar!

 

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A Special Blessing this Thanksgiving

In God’s perfect timing, today I am going to pick up my new hearing aids with our son, Will, back from college, coming along. We had no means, no way to do this. My hearing has been dropping into a zone where I can’t hardly hear the articulation and voice of my loved ones next to me. Through God’s vast mercies, I was able to get tested and to purchase new hearing aids with the latest technology to replace old ones that never worked correctly. The audiologist put them in last week, and tears just welled up. I could hear the voice of my Tom and Emmy standing behind me. Every word, as clear and crisp as can be. I heard things I haven’t heard in years, like floors creaking and when the audiologist took me outside, I heard the leaves crunching under my feet.

Emmy left this little piece of paper on my desk last night. She does this constantly, writing notes about God or bursting into song. (The other day she sang out,”Thy hand, O Lord, in days of old, was strong to heal and save!” just at the right moment.)

So this will be a very special Thanksgiving for me personally. Emmy’s note says all I can say from a full heart. I am so grateful to the kind people who made this possible, that words don’t really express it adequately. Thank you, dear people. Thank you, God. Soli Deo Gloria.

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Remembering the Little Things

It is time again to be thankful for simple pleasures. For some reason, in the last few days, God blessed us with a flurry of them.

My beautiful friend Paula stopped by on Saturday and we had a front porch chat. My valkommenporch was all marked up with sidewalk chalk from my daughter and snaked across with a hose and populated with bikes, a wagon and a stroller, but we sat and talked. There is nothing like a good friend chat, clutter around us and all.

I’m still reflecting on how wonderful it is to see the generations mix. Yesterday, I took Will to a church to play an organ concert. There were about 42 senior citizens who turned out to hear the music. They surrounded our son afterwards to talk with him about all sorts of things, not just music. Will is friendly and he genuinely likes people, so both he and the seniors enjoyed talking together. Good music was the catalyst that brought them together. Our son came home enriched for the experience, and I know the people enjoyed it as well. Simple things like this bring real joy.

This morning, Emmy asked to wear a pink summer dress that she normally wears to church. The summer is waning, the dress is getting short, so she dressed in her pink flower dress today just because. All day, she made me smile watching her.

I worked hard today. The house looks nice. That always makes me happy. Our home is a busy place, and clutter, fingerprints and dust are a reality sometimes, but doesn’t it feel awfully nice when for a few moments, things are shiny and clean? All ten minutes worth of it!

chocolate chip cookiesThis afternoon, Em and I made some chocolate chip cookies, and then, a pan of brownies for the man of the house after dinner tonight. Em made the dough balls, and I stirred up the brownie mix. The air is autumn like today, hardly like August at all. The beautiful cool breeze is carrying the aroma of the cookies and brownies through the house and outside again. The house is going to smell awfully nice when Mr. Schlueter walks in tonight.

These are simple pleasures of daily life, pleasures that many do not have. I am very grateful for each and every blessing from the Lord’s hands.

Don’t Forget Your Blessings

I love this song. I know I posted it once before a couple of years ago. It is not the familiar “Count Your Blessings” many know, but this version, sung by Welsh singer, Aled Jones, is really lovely, and sums it all up. The lyrics are below the video.

 

Count your blessings one by one,
When dawn appears and day has just begun.
They will light your heart with happiness,
Make each hour bright and bring you gladness.

Count your blessings one by one,
When twilight falls and toil of day is done,
And in sweet dreams they’ll come again to you,
If you will count your blessings each day through.

Count your blessings while you may.
For we are here but little time to stay.
All around are friends, sincere and true.
Lovely things abound, just waiting for you.

Count your blessings while you may,
The big or small, whichever comes your way,
For then you’ll find this world a place of love
If you will count your blessings from above.

The Overflowing Cup

Here is another rich chapter from the little black book I love, F.B. Meyer’s The Shepherd Psalm. It is old enough to be in the public domain. I hope you enjoy it.

“My cup runneth over.”

Glad and festal moments come to the saddest and most weary hearts. At the close of a prolonged strain of anxiety, when lying exhausted on the desert sand, sleep casts its spell over the tired nature; angels spread the refreshing banquet; and the soul awakes beneath the celestial touch, invigorated for new toils.

We cannot always tell whence such experiences come; this is all we know: that the step is more elastic, the heart swells with buoyant hope, songs break from the lips, and the whole being thrills, as nature does on some lovely day of spring. “When the Lord turns again our captivity, the mouth is filled with laughter, and the tongue with singing: then we say among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.”

At such hours life seems to us like a chalice mixed by the loving hand of God, and overflowing with His mercy and loving-kindness. And with tears struggling with smiles for the mastery, as rain and sunbeams on an April day, we lift the brimming cup to our lips and cry, “My cup runneth over.”

A similar experience is unfolded in another psalm, which, like so many of its character, touches the lowest depths and springs, as well as the topmost heights of human experience. It begins with the plaintive notes of trouble, “the sorrows of death, and the pains of hell,” and with rash imputations upon the truth of all men. It tells how in his need the psalmist called upon the name of the Lord. It recounts the glorious deliverance there was wrought on his behalf. And now, as he reviews his lot, it seems like a cup full of salvation, charged with the prompt, gentle, and sufficient deliverance wrought for him by the Almighty (Psa 116:12-13).

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