From an article in the September issue of Colony Life Magazine
How do two retired introverts spend their days without stepping on each other’s toes? Married for 13 years, Ken and Janet Grunst’s happy solution is having space to devote to their avocations. “Ken’s Cave” says the sign on the door to Ken’s lower level workshop where he creates musical instruments.
“What interested me was the challenge and reward of unlocking the beauty of the wood,” Ken remembers. “When I put the finish on a chess board I’d made, the grain came alive!” Ken plays guitar, so decided to learn to build one. “I’ve done 23 so far, plus a 5-string banjo,” he says, “and given away about a dozen of them to family members.”
Each is a work of art featuring exotic woods, intricate abalone inlay, and his personal signature carved sound ports representing the flame of the Holy Spirit. “King David was a luthier, a maker of stringed instruments, and played harps that he’d built. I’m captivated by the idea that, like him, I can take a pile of wood and pieces and suddenly it makes music!”
A picture on the wall near Ken’s Cave shows a young Ken Grunst performing with his college folk group back in Michigan. His friend and bandmate, Al Jardine, went on to fame as a member of The Beach Boys, but life as a professional musician never appealed to Ken. “There are the awful nerves before a performance, then the high of the actual playing and singing, but it’s such a downer when eventually the place empties out.”
Ken became a teacher and he and his first wife welcomed a daughter. “Teaching in Maryland with a salary of $5,000 a year, Dee and I would have actually had more money on welfare, so I got into home- building,” he recalls with a laugh. Ken was widowed in 2002, and then he met Janet at a Community Bible Study (CBS) conference. Janet, who was the executive assistant to the director of CBS, had been on her own for a decade and had two grown sons.
Janet’s tidy desk and book-lined corner of their family room is where she writes historical fiction. Her first book A Heart Set Free debuts in early December, and she is excited that persistence has finally paid off. “I refer to the book as ‘my Millennial in the basement’, because after 31 years, it’s just now getting wings,” the author jokes. She wrote her manuscript while her little boys were occupied, a snatched hour or two at a time. She tried to sell it herself. “It was almost picked up by publishers twice,” she recalls. “Then my life changed and I was busy working and raising my boys, so the book stayed dormant.” After Janet and Ken were married, he read the story, the romantic tale of an 18th-century indentured servant, loved it, and encouraged her to try again. This time around Janet found a supportive agent and the manuscript was accepted by Lighthouse Publishers of the Carolinas.
Janet has a second story ready and plans for a third. “Writing makes me feel alive!” she declares. ”Marketing, however, will probably be a challenge,” the self-proclaimed introvert laughs.
Ken and Janet have found the secret of successful remarriage is staying actively engaged in things that bring joy, carving out space for themselves while cherishing time together. Their three children have given them ten grandchildren, including quadruplets born this year, and they jointly serve as small group team leaders for Williamsburg Community Chapel. Their goal is to balance fun social times with peaceful hours of creating beauty, both in wood and on the page.
Every year, our family enjoys a traditional St. Patrick’s Day meal. Corned beef, cabbage, potatoes and onions as well as Irish soda bread will be on the menu.
Traditional soda bread is a simple bread made of flour, soda, salt, and buttermilk. The lactic acid in buttermilk reacts with the baking soda to form bubbles of carbon dioxide. This causes the dough to rise, much like yeast does in other bread.
For a more complex soda bread, other ingredients can be added such as butter, egg, raisins, or nuts.
HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY
Simple Irish Soda Bread
4 cups (16 oz) of all purpose flour.
1 Teaspoon baking soda
1 Teaspoon salt
14 oz of buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 425 F. degrees.
Place a square of parchment paper in a cake pan. (It will hang over the sides)
In a large bowl sieve and combine all the dry ingredients.
Add the buttermilk to form a sticky dough. Place on floured surface and lightly knead (too much allows the gas to escape)
Shape into a round flat shape in a round cake pan and cut a cross in the top of the dough.
Cover the pan with another pan and bake for 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes.
The bottom of the bread will have a hollow sound when tapped so show it is done.
Cover the bread with a towel and lightly sprinkle water on the cloth to keep the bread moist.
More Complex Irish Soda Bread
4 cups all-purpose flour,
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 ¾ cups cold buttermilk, shaken
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.
With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture.
Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound.
Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperatureRead More
This is providential because I was feeling remiss about not blogging recently, and befitting because I was nominated by Kathleen Rouser – kathleenrouser.com who likes to write about whimsies among other things. Thanks Kathleen.
- Thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site.
2. Put the Award logo on your blog.
3. Answer the ten questions sent to you.
4. Make up ten new questions for your nominees to answer.
5. Nominate five blogs.
The Ten Questions I was given:
1) Why do you blog?
I enjoy writing Blogposts about other people who may not be well known. Promoting other writers is fun. I also find devotionals inspiring and encouraging so I like to share them with others. I like to feature people and organizations that inspire me. As an aspiring author, I need an online platform.
2) Which famous person from history would you interview on your blog if you could?
Jesus Christ, is probably the most obvious answer. Other than Biblical figures: George Washington.
3) Where do you most of your blog ideas come from?
Historical events and people from various eras (particularly those who’ve served in the military).
Spiritual insights and devotionals
4) What is your favorite blog post that you’ve written?
I don’t have a favorite. But “Time Well Spent In God’s Waiting Room” is where I live.
5) What are some future topics you hope to cover on your blog?
More interviews with authors ~ Historical events or places ~ Articles that encourage others. A blogpost featuring my husband who builds beautiful guitars and banjoes.
6) What has been your favorite place to visit in the United States?
That’s tough because I’ve been to many places I’d like to re-visit. I would love to return to Hawaii. Shameless Promotion: Virginia has a wealth of fascinating places to visit, particularly if you’ve got any interest in history. I live in the Historic Triangle of Virginia (Williamsburg~Jamestown~Yorktown)
7) Where and what kind of dream vacation would you like to take?
The British Isles and Ireland – I’ve been there before and would love to return.
8) What fictional character do you identify with the most, out of your best-loved books?
Jane Eyre. Jane has had to overcome significant rejection and other difficulties in her life. She’s plain, quiet, introverted, yet committed to her values and is not afraid to share her opinions.
9) Are you a seat of the pants blogger or do you plan out your posts, with purpose, long in advance?
While I am an organized and fairly structured person, I tend to be a seat of the pants fiction or non-fiction writer.
10) Have you found that blogging has helped you grow in other areas of writing?
Absolutely. When I first began writing for publication, I wrote newspaper or magazine articles. Now, I primarily write fiction, so I find blogging makes me exercise that entirely different style of writing.
Elaine Cooper http://elainemariecooper.com
Laura Frantz http://laurafrantz.net/
Carrie Pagels http://cfpagels.blogspot.com/
Cynthia Howerter http://cynthiahowerter.com/
Karen Wingate http://karenwingate.com/
Joan Hochstetler http://www.jmhochstetler.com/
Here are my 10 questions:
- Name three blogs of different types (i.e. devotional, individual, commentary or political) that you like to read.
- What are your favorite types of blogs to write?
- What are your hobbies other than writing and reading?
- If you could hang out with one fictional character for the day, who would it be?
- What is your favorite fiction book?
- Other than the Bible, whit is your favorite non-fiction book?
- If you could travel (at someone else’s expense), where would you go?
- If you could choose to live in another era and place, in what era and place would you live?
- What talent, other than writing, would you like to develop?
- What are your favorite things to blog about?
It’s safe to say we all had mothers, but Mother’s Day can bring on a multitude of differing emotions, some painful some pleasant. The same is true for Father’s Day and often for the same reasons, but since it’s May, and for the purpose of this commentary we will focus on Mother’s Day.
When our nation celebrates Mother’s Day, one is bombarded for weeks ahead by merchant’s pleas to purchase cards, gifts, and flowers for those special Mothers in our lives. On a walk through any card shop in early spring we will see Mother’s Day cards honoring mothers, step-mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, mother’s–in-law, daughters, nieces, and friends. What is lost in all the commercial promotions is that Mother’s Day can also elicit emotions that no one wants to celebrate. Not everyone has had a positive experience with their own mother growing up, or as an adult. Some people find Mother’s Day a time of great sadness because it is a painful reminder of the loss of a beloved parent. What about the woman who has longed to be a mother, but for whatever reason, she’s never experienced that joy? That Sunday can pierce her heart annually. And for some of us who were mothers, or were about to be a mother, but lost that precious child, it can be an agonizing or a bittersweet day.
I was very blessed to have a terrific mother with whom I had a wonderful relationship. She died of an excruciatingly painful disease when I was thirty, and I will always feel her loss, and regret that my children never knew her. Providentially, when my father remarried, he gave me a stepmother whom I loved and enjoyed for many years. I’ve also been fortunate to have mother’s-in-law whom I loved, respected, and felt fortunate to have in my life. There are also a few women in my life who have been mentors for me. In their own way, they have been like mothers. I am grateful to have had all of these ladies in my life and I learned much from each of them. Now, I have daughter’s-in law and a stepdaughter, each a mother, doing a terrific job raising their children.
So this Mother’s Day I give thanks to all the “Mothers” in my life and to my two sons who gave me the privilege of being a mother. I will also pray for a special blessing, and healing for those women who may find this holiday less than joyous.
What are your thoughts on Mother’s Day?
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me,
and I will listen to you.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
We all have dreams; some even go back as far as our childhood. If you think back, perhaps yours were to be a fireman, doctor, nurse, lawyer, astronaut, entertainer, musician, teacher, or something else. Those dreams often change as we mature, and are often influenced by others, or our own circumstances and can include marriage, children, and other life choices.
Our culture can color our values and our dreams, causing us place too much importance on affluence, fame, influence, power, or popularity, and that can leave us feeling very dissatisfied.
Some dreams are fulfilled, others not, and occasionally they take a long time to be realized. After many years of not always aligning my hopes to God’s plans, I discovered that when my dreams and God’s plans were in agreement, the results were blessings.
“Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
One example from my own life occurred in the mid 90’s when, after sixteen years of being a stay at home mom, I needed to return to work. My previous career in the banking and mortgage lending arena was not one I wished resume. My new dream, when the time came for me to again seek employment, was to serve in ministry. I had been involved in Community Bible Study (CBS) classes for about ten years. CBS is a national ministry with hundreds of classes throughout the US, and an international ministry with classes in many nations. In 1995, when the time came for me to re-enter the workforce, I was able to get a job at their national/international office ― their only office ― 10 miles from my home. My dream and God’s plans were in agreement, the result brought numerous blessings.
“for it is God who works in you to will and to act
in order to fulfill his good purpose.”
I have shared previously my appreciation for the way Roy Lessin expresses timeless truths. Here are some of his gems from his online devotional Meet Me In The Meadow Our Dreams or God’s Desires:
“It is important for all of us, as followers of Jesus Christ, not to confuse human dreams with God’s desires, direction, and will for our lives. Our dreams, compared to God’s desires and purposes, can be very different and we need to understand those differences:
~ Human dreams can be based upon fantasies;
God’s desires for us are based upon reality and truth.
~ Human dreams can be born out of self-interests;
God’s desires for us are based upon His will.
~ Human dreams can focus on what is pleasing to us;
God’s desires for us will focus on what is pleasing to Him.
~ Human dreams can become the most important thing to us;
God’s desires for us make Him and His ways the most important things to us.
~ Human dreams can focus on our self-significance;
God’s desires for us focus on His glory.
~ Human dreams can place us at the center of our thoughts;
God’s desires for us place Him at the center of our hearts.
~ Human dreams can be looked upon as the key to our happiness;
God’s desires for us cause us to look to Him as the source of our joy.
~ Human dreams can bring discontentment when they are not fulfilled;
God’s desires and will for us do not disappoint.
As we delight ourselves in the Lord, His desires will become our desires, and we can trust in Him to fulfill them in His time and in His perfect way.”
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
according to his power that is at work within us,”
Ephesians 3:20 NIV
I have some dreams I am still waiting to be fulfilled. What big dream are you waiting for?
Used with Roy Lessin’s permission from:
Meet Me In The Meadow Devotional Online, “Our Dreams or God’s Desires – Part 1 and 2.” http://www.meetmeinthemeadow.com/2013/07/our-dreams-or-gods-desires-part-1-of-2/
What does Veteran’s Day mean to you? Is it just a day to be off work? It is for some government workers, banks and post offices. For others it is a day to hit the stores and take advantage of all the sales.
Many towns will have parades, and some people will hang their American flags prominently. Most of us know it has something
to do with honoring those who have served or are serving in the armed forces.
America’s observance of Veteran’s Day originated with the ending of World War I, also referred to as “The Great War” or “the war to end all wars.” Sadly, we’ve been in numerous wars in the intervening 95 years.
The ending of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany took effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. The United States Congress resolved that the recurring anniversary of this date “date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations.”
Veteran’s Day is a day of remembrance, and a day to honor and say thank you to all the men and women who have served, or are currently serving our country, often in difficult places and at great sacrifice. It is also a time to honor the spouses and families of those serving, because “Those Who Wait also Serve”.
Some pictures of family members who have served in the armed forces.
I am thankful for them, and other family and friends, who have also served our country.
On Monday, and every day,
remember to pray for our troops,
and give thanks for them.