Friday, December 30, 2011

Dancing through 2011

The year of our LORD Two Thousand and Eleven... a HARD year, a stretching year, a year well- lived.... Recapping this year has loomed on the "to do" list  - in fact it didn't get done - thus no Christmas Letter.... Here we are - the countdown to a New Year. 

Ann Voskamp begins her year's recap with the sentence, "All the moments were hallowed whispers of something other - this crazy grace." Yes - painful moments were simply hallowed whispers of crazy grace!

Michael writes in tomorrow's Misawa Air Base Chapel Protestant News:
Our theme this year has been "Living Faithfully". We have had the opportunity to live faithfully and see God's faithfulness through earthquakes, tsunamis, near-nuclear meltdowns, Operation Tomodachi and Noble Eagle...."  voluntary evacuations, illness..... 
 I've walked through crisis of faith with untold numbers of loved ones who asked the tough questions - "Where is God when thousands die in an instant?" "Can this God be trusted?"

I faced two of my biggest fears in one instant: being on a bridge in an earthquake and knowing my children were in danger and not being able to reach them...many of you remember the Facebook post that simply said, "Has anyone heard from my family - are they o.k.?"....and I learned to continue to follow His dance with Daddy when all around the world was crashing....when I couldn't reach my greatest human support - Michael.

Added to the above, were ministry successes and spectacular ministry failures - which only allowed Him to shine brighter still through the gaps caused by my humanity.

I learned to organize massive shopping trips and volunteers in relief efforts.

I've traveled more than I like. But I've LOVED each and every interaction traveling afforded.

I've learned through near burn-out valleys, rest in Him is always available. HE is my secret place, which I can run to, be anonymous and be refreshed.

We celebrated the graduations of three college aged children in 2011.

We've seen the death of dreams and sensed the gestation of new dreams in their place.

I've continued to "Choose Joy". I've seen that yes, my God can be trusted when nothing else in life seems solid! By choosing to find the joy, by naming the graces, I change my perspective and I continue to live faithfully in the midst of  "ugly beauty".

I hope for sunnier paths in 2012. I pray not to repeat the mistakes and hard times of 2011....but I can never regret the deeper levels of intimacy which those moments led to. Abba, Daddy God, never once left.

"Grateful for every pain that was really a peeling away of something - to make me know in new ways that He is enough." Ann Voskamp on FB

Yes - I am thankful to know in gut-level, intimate, ever-deeper ways that He truly is ENOUGH!

Picture the older girls sent me this summer - Precious! 

Choosing Joy!
©2011 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

English Muffins

My family LOVES English Muffins. Somehow I have gotten out of the habit these past 6 - 9 months of baking bread (and you say Asia Region?) ::snort::.   During this time of buying bread we were picking up about 4 packs of English muffins EVERY time we went to the commissary.  If there is something Zander is going to eat a LOT of - it totally needs to be "real food" my baking goals for 2012 are simple. Start baking English muffins again and learn how to make sourdough things as Michael loves sourdough bread, English muffins etc. 

I USED to make English Muffins weekly. I used my Uncle Bill's recipe. He uses tuna tins for tins which fit around the dough and he baked them (covered with another pan weighted down with a brick ::snort::). Ah the memories.  They would rise nicely, stay well-shaped and were about "normal" in  all aspects.  I don't HAVE zillions of tuna tins (or cat food tins etc).  I began to see recipes online - everywhere else really - where you cook them on the stove top.

Mom sent me the copy of Uncle Bill's recipe SHE had...I found the one he'd given me. They are different. The original used more flour and less sugar and yeast.  I baked yesterday using the original and the stove top technique for cooking.  I used a cup to cut them out.....

Freshly ground corn meal 

Most rose well.....

These were good. Must have been o.k. as all but the 4 in the freezer (cuz I didn't think they'd eat them fast enough and they'd go bad) are gone. We did note these were SMALL - the joke is they can be my "diet muffins".... they tend to get lost in the toaster. A comment was made that they were heavy. 

I tried this a.m. using Uncle Bill's new recipe....a cup less flour, more milk, sugar and yeast...did not increase the salt. I cut them with the biggest glass in the house.  With less flour, I found them MUCH harder to turn so the perfect shape was distorted....they also didn't rise as high. They toast well - but fall apart...hmmmm....maybe I'll modify the original and use the bigger cup to see if that works...or maybe I'll have to use a lot of tuna this week and go back to baking in tins.....I do like the more rounded look of the one on the left.....but you can see the others are much more the normal size. 

L  - Uncle Bills Original; R- Uncle Bills modified
In any event our prayer for a forever dog friend in 2012 is answered. 

My goal to begin baking English Muffins again is complete....but needs to be maintained...I don't want to do this every a.m. but it appears that is what I have to do to keep up with the family. 

Choosing Joy!
©2011 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

When God Says YES

Long time friends know we've been searching for a match - a forever dog friend. Beatrix died on our fateful pcs journey to Japan. We weren't ready for a new dog right away. While Michael was deployed the children began to really desire a new dog. We told them we'd begin searching  when he returned home - it's been a year.  Michael and I have talked for years that we'd like our next dog to be a pure-bred beagle. 

We began to search. We quickly found that any dog in Japan is expensive and a pure-bred beagle was REALLY expensive. Months of searching, watching ads of those moving etc....still no perfect match for us.  Most of us began to try to talk Michael into a Shiba. They are the most common breed here and we liked the idea of getting a forever friend in Japan - as we would be able to take a part of Japan with us when we move.  

People began to share with us their knowledge of both Shibas and Beagles. Shibas are known as the "cat-like dog". They are aloof, independent, and tend to choose ONE owner...but we have lots of kids who want to walk, love, cuddle with their dog. We heard that Beagles howl, have separation anxiety, piddle (so do I), like to run, need lots of attention....We continued to talk, think, pray and search. 

My prayer was that we'd have a new forever dog friend in 2012. Michael was holding out for a Beagle, we were all trying to convince him they weren't such a good breed anyway and we'd love a Shiba....Beagle meant waiting until we moved back to America as we simply couldn't afford the price of one here and we didn't want to buy one, have her travel here, quarantine her for 6 months etc....

It had to be God that I remembered Richard and Susi had a Beagle they had asked us to dog sit nearly 2 years ago.  I  told the family it seemed like a good idea to see if we could dog sit for Mr. Richard and Ms. Susi as they had a Beagle and we'd be able to see if we wanted to deal with the quirks of a Beagle. We had begun to realize that all the quirks we heard about were ones Beatrix (whom we had for 15 years) also had. Beatrix was a Basset/Corgi/Mutt mix. We hoped dog sitting would either make us fall in love with the breed and at peace to wait for a Beagle or help us decide to get a Shiba. 

I contacted Susi and she was willing to let us dog sit.....we brought Yuuki home last night to "dog sit". Richard and Susi had told us that they had been praying about a new family for Yuuki. They love her and have had her since she was a pup, but they have a one year old and haven't been able to play with her as much as they had in the past. They didn't want to just "list her" and so hadn't said anything yet...They'd been praying.  They told us not to be pressured, to bring her home, keep her as long as we wanted and let them know what we thought. We did NOT tell the children this may turn into something permanent. 

 My heart was full when we walked out to the van and I could see the kids in the van, Yuuki in the middle looking out at us...

At home she sniffed the perimeter of each room of the house.....except our bedroom as we were warned she likes to mark beds...and we never let Beatrix in our room either.  

She thrilled us by running up the stairs when we went upstairs.....

She seemed obsessed by our bedroom door - last night and all day today. She didn't' whine or howl...just laid down outside the door and made clear she should be allowed in. Michael did allow her in to check the room out this afternoon and she's stopped parking herself outside the door. 

By 06:30 she had gone on five walks. Two with me early for her to potty....and then each child wanted to take her out when they woke up. She'd also been given Zander's favorite blanket. I was reminding the kids all day that we were dog sitting and she belonged to Mr. Richard and Ms. Susi...which was TRUE until Michael decided if we would keep her.

She followed us around, played with us, went on walks with us....we enjoyed a day getting to know her. She posted herself at the door when Jared and Michael left for work and seemed surprised they'd choose to leave. 

Later in the day Nolan, Stacia, Zander and I took Yuuki for a walk. It takes a while when each snow drift must be explored and sniffed. 

We were happy to see the ponies back...Yuuki gave them a checking out 

 When we got back to the house we were all amused when she climbed into her kennel and slept for a couple of hours. She was worn out...and we joked about running a pet weight loss spa.

 By this afternoon, the kids were saying it would be worth it to wait until we moved to the states to get a Beagle.

During movie time she amused us.....

 Michael and I talked and he had decided she'd be a God send for us if Richard and Susi hadn't decided they couldn't live without her. We checked. Their offer for us to give her a new home remained.  I put a bow on her head and we told the children.  She's already begun healing deep spots in our hearts which were hurt by Beatrix's accident.....Nolan said, "Oh good! Because I was thinking I'm already starting to love her." Zander and Stacia keep asking if she is our "forever dog".

Susi told us Yuuki likes plush toys so we gave her an adoption toy....she isn't quite sure what to make of it.

 We gave her a treat when she sat, shook and begged for Zander....since it was on the carpet Michael picked it up and threw it to the dining room...she ran and got it and hid it in the tree you see in the corner. We laughed as she stood guard.

 We REALLY laughed when Michael got up to go to bed and she immediately retrieved her treat. Evidently, she thought he would take it again and so had hid it.

God moved so beautifully to answer this prayer for 2012 before the New Year even begins. It's been a wonderful family lesson on waiting for God to answer and on Him delighting to give us the delights of our hearts.

We prayed for:

  • A beagle
  • Kennel trained
  • Young enough to have a good many years left, but old enough to be house broken
  • Affordable
  • We wanted a dog while we were in Japan 
  • I had hoped a new dog would let me take photos (as Beatrix always REFUSED her WHOLE life)


  • Full bred
  • 5 years old
  • We were able to get a dog while in Japan
  • She loves her kennel
  • She is well-trained
  • She's spayed
  • She's microchipped
  • She's up to date on all shots
  • Adopting her blesses her "bio family" Richard and Susi
  • She certainly isn't camera shy
Yuuki - means courage and Yuki means snow. Her name is really Yuuki but either meaning will work fine if we don't pronounce YuUki just right. ::snort:: 

Meet Yuuki - our new forever friend. 

Choosing Joy!
©2011 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...