Saturday, December 31, 2011

Akemashite omedetou! Happy New Year.....Goodbye 2011...everything that could be shaken WAS but that which remains is stronger (Heb 12).

Hello 2012. Bring it!

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

Yuuki Photo of the Day

Rather than overload you with pet photos...I'll keep it to one a that fair? Unless, of course, I happen to write a daily life post and Yuuki just happens to be in the photos.... ::snort::

This after playing all morning in the snow with the kids. She loves to lay in the sun....My laptop is off to the right so this is fun for me.

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

Peanutty Patch of Heaven Bars (Deja)

Deja sent this recipe this morning and it provided the perfect diversion for our King of Meltdowns when he needed to be removed from the neighborhood hubbub this afternoon. 

1/2 c butter
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c white sugar
1 egg
1/3 c peanut butter
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 C flour
1 C old fashioned oats
1 C chocolate chips (Optional??????)

Cream butter and sugars. Add egg and peanut butter. Mix well. Stir in dry ingredients. Press into greased 9x13 pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips (and nuts?) over top.

Bake 20 - 25 min until golden brown. Cool then serve.
These two like cleaning the bowl best!

*I used Rapadura for both sugars - worked fine....let them COOL - or the chocolate will burn the roof of your mouth and the bar will crumble.

Notes: Deja planned all sorts of healthy things with these (leaving out the chocolate must be an option in our family). My kids devoured these....and I will copy Deja and double or triple the batch and freeze some...great take out snacks.

I think I'll use craisins and take them to PWOC - the ladies probably wouldn't think chocolate is a suitable breakfast option. LOL

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

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...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Misc. Things

Zander attacks a snow ball
It's no secret we have always planned to find another dog to love after Beatrix died...but it's been hard to do here. We have been actively looking for over a year. We would like a Beagle and they are not cheap in Japan. We have almost gotten a shiba but we just aren't sure their reputation (cat-like dog) fits our boisterous and active, home all day family.....while we search, we adopted these fish from Kyle and Erika. 

Michael began to share how Erika swims right up to the glass and follows you when you go to feed her. She moves her flippers really fast and seems to get very excited.  Then Arielle began to teach her "tricks".  I suspect we need to either buy a dog from the states or get a shiba soon. LOL   I did find  a Beagle to dog-sit so we can see for ourselves if the breed will fit our family. We've heard all the bad things about the breed - but it sounds really similar to our beloved Beatrix. LOL
Erika  - assigned the personality of a dog by my family

See the hoop - they are teaching Erika to swim through it 
Helping Mom with Dinner 
Pretty proud of themselves....
My goal is to have two kids help me prep dinner each night. I used to do this. Recently, we've been content to let them rage around the neighborhood as dark comes so quick....but they need to learn to cook and I love the company..... 

An added bonus to Zander and Stacia helping is we learned Stacia LOVES peas. She ate all the "extra" peas from everyone else's plates. LOL 

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

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Transition Week

This week between Christmas and New Years is always a "light duty" week which we look forward to all year long...especially during the busy "Holiday" season.....this year our base had an inspection thrown in to the holiday mix so we've all been looking forward to this week. LOL  This is also a great "transition week" between the old year and the new year. I love this week. 

Monday Michael went in to the office.  We played in the snow, had neighbor kids in and played games.  No PWOC, PYOC, Human Video etc to attend. 

Tuesday Michael went in to the office. I also went in to the base. No PWOC, drama or baby-sitting...but  I went to beta test a small portion of 2012's PWOCI WILD Curriculum. 
 What is WILD? Women Intent on Leadership Development. Every year International trainers and regional trainers host a WILD in each PWOC region for the local executive board members.  This was a fun way for me to get back into the saddle after my 6 week sabbatical from PWOC duties. ::grin:: 

The younger kids are LOVING a new series of videos we purchased for them. I like them pretty much myself! Good stuff. Arielle plans to use one section a week for the home school room at PWOC.  Click here for more info.....our kids don't watch maybe these appeal to them more than the normal kid - but they're funny, informational....good stuff. 
Today (Wednesday) both Michael and Jared have OFF. Michael got up early and took Arielle in to base for an orthodontist appointment. Isn't he a hero? I really hate driving on ice and snow and so he does as much as possible during the winter. 

I answered and sent a few ministry emails....worked on a bit of ministry stuff....Wowed Stacia by making some candy. 

This afternoon Michael and I went for a walk on the snow covered beach - alone. No one wanted to come with us - but that really suited us fine.  There were signs about not driving in - so we parked by the signs and walked.....not sure of all the words on the construction signs - but I love the admonition to Pray for Japan. Tsunami rebuilding.....

They're rebuilding our beach area! YES. 

Rebuilding the sea wall - no higher but rebuilt.

Doesn't this scream "cross country skiing"?

We walked back through the woods....nice day...wonderful time together...good conversation...and I'm thankful to have Michael home this year.

I continue to enjoy jet-lag induced, early morning quiet times....and God continues to minister to me about resting and hiding in Him......and I think I know what my "memorial stone" for 2012 will be.

That's about all for our family the last few days.

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

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Cateling Anyone?

This from our favorite local restaurant - Karinbas.....the "r" seem to give trouble as we noted a "poek plate" as a special....... and note the only thing they're open for  on the 30th and 31st!

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

Jesus' Brownie/Ice Cream Birthday Cake

  It's time for a Birthday Cake for Jesus. It needs to be our best and it needs to be special. We've done various things over the years (search if you'd like to see). Our Birthday family favorite cake is....Mike's Famous Ice Cream Cake. The younger two Gherkins want to decorate the top.....we thought of making a traditional cake...but Mike came up with this idea; which we executed together.
Cross, heart, blood at hands/feet, soldier with sword 

Bake your favorite brownies in a spring form pan. I like these (minus the peanut butter/honey) or Moosewood Brownies.  In any event

Preheat oven to 325*.

Mix up a batch of brownies. If using a prepared box mix get the 8x8 one.....eyeball it if using from scratch brownies (really depends on how much brownie YOU want).  If you have extra brownie mix make some Brownie Bites or a few Brownie Bombs.

Pour into a spring form pan - choose your size. I used 10 in and am baking 35* and checking.

Cool Brownie.

Top with 1/2 gal of favorite ice cream.

Scatter a lay of mix ins: hot fudge, hard shell, crumbled cookies, candy bits.

Top with another 1/2 gal of ice cream.
Personally, I would have added many more goodies between the layers of ice cream but this was RICH as was! 

Top with hard shell etc.....we let the kids decorate this as it's for Jesus' Birthday.

Freeze - overnight is best. We just did it for the day and it was fine.  It was YUMMY!

Remove from freezer 5 min before serving (unless, of course, you made this together Christmas a.m. to eat Christmas night).

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