Wedding Plans!

The invitations have been sent, the bridesmaids' dresses have arrived, my dress is nearing completion, and praise the Lord--plans are coming together! It's now 31 days and a wake up until the wedding, and life is shifting into high gear between wedding plans, summer trips, and packing up my life for a cross-country move. Please forgive the lack of attention to this corner of the internet the last couple of weeks. In the next month, we'll be posting some of our favorite "oldies but goodies" from five years of blogging, and in September we'll be back in full force, wedding pictures in hand!


American Pie Love

Here is an enlightening insight into the way my brain reasons:
1. It is a fact that Pie is the best food known to man. 
2. The Fourth of July would not be the Fourth of July without Pie.
3. Logically, the only thing better than saluting a flag and singing about your flag and eating Pie is…eating Pie that is a flag! 

With this logic, and inspired by this idea, I rolled up my sleeves and dubbed myself Betsy Ross on the morning of the Fourth of July.  Since I am certain that all of you are as pie-crazed as myself, I'm taking you along for the ride! 

Start with your favorite pie crust recipe.  (Mikaela shared the best gluten free pie crust recipe in the world here!)  After chilling, roll it out and place in your pie pan.  Next, fold a strip of aluminum foil and place in the pie pan to section off about a quarter of the pan for the blue part. 

Now, measure out 5 cups of freshly-picked-from-your-garden raspberries and 2 cups of freshly-picked-from-your-friend's-garden (with permission of course) blueberries. 

In a separate bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, nutmeg, cinnamon, and lemon juice (See full recipe at the end for amounts).  Add 2/3 of this mixture to the raspberries and 1/3 to the blueberries. 

Add another 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sugar to the raspberries, to taste (and taste, and taste!). 
Now for the fun part!  Pour the raspberries into the large section of the crust, and don't worry like I did when some juice seeped through.  When it's all done, you won't even be able to tell--I promise! 

Now pour the blueberries into the smaller section, and then don't forget to remove the aluminum foil!

Next, roll out your chilled top crust.  Cut 3 or 4 strips of dough about 1/4 inch wide. 

Use a star shaped cookie cutter to cut several stars. 

Place the stars over the blueberry section first, then lay the strips down, pinching the edges into your pie crust edge.  When it looks all purty, crimp your pie crust edge to take it over the top!

Now pose it for the camera!

After chilling the pie while the oven preheats, bake it at 400 for 15 minutes, then 375 for 45 minutes, or until the crust browns.  (Helpful tip alert: I was grateful that for once I remembered to put a cookie sheet under the pie in the oven, so I didn't have a mess to clean up!)

I'm fairly certain that first face means: Hold the bus--that is the best pie I have ever tasted!  

After adding a little of this and a little of that to create the pie I wanted, I was pretty pleased with my concoction if I do say so myself!

 With our bellies full of pie, we headed off to our park to watch the 20 minute fireworks spectacular along with some friends plus everyone else in town!

I hope you had a wonderful Fourth of July!  Beneath the joy of celebration and delicious food, this holiday always brings me to tears when I contemplate it.  For the reason I am free to worship Jesus, free to eat a pie with my family, and free to celebrate without fear is because of God's providence and because of patriots no older than me who loved freedom more than comfort. 

The Recipe
1 pie crust (both top and bottom crusts)  Recipe here
5 cups raspberries
2 cups blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
5 Tbs cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4-1/2 cup sugar, to taste

Spread one chilled pie crust in pie pan and keep the other one in the refrigerator.  Section off 1/4 of pie with aluminum foil for the blue section.  

Measure berries into two separate containers.
Combine sugar, cornstarch, spices, and lemon juice.  Add 2/3 of mixture to the raspberries; add the remaining 1/3 to the blueberries.  Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup more sugar to the raspberries, to taste.  Mix well.

Pour raspberries into large section of pie.  Pour blueberries into the smaller section.  Remove aluminum foil.

Roll out remaining crust and cut about 4 strips about 1/4 inch wide.  Cut about 5 stars with a star shaped cookie cutter.  Place the stars over the blueberry section first, then lay the strips down, pinching the edges into your pie crust edge.  Crimp pie crust edge.  

Chill pie in refrigerator while oven preheats to 400.  Bake at 400 for 15 minutes, then at 375 for 45 minutes or until golden brown.  

Let cool, then enjoy!



Lauren and I were spending the day in Portland, combining business with pleasure as we're so talented at doing. To hit only the highlights, you would think it was a charming, uneventful day: drop siblings off where they are reenacting, visit Schuback's Violin Shop, wile away two hours at Powell's bookstore (with Stumptown coffee in hand), pick up a few groceries at Trader Joe's, have a late lunch at The Old Spaghetti Factory, and then pick up siblings and head home. 

Except we got lost. Horribly lost. Multiple times.

When I got my license, GPS was not a commonplace car accessory, so I learned to manage with MapQuest (I have a horrible sense of direction). But in recent years, I've been spoiled with a talking device that tells me when and where to turn and even recalculates like magic when I take a wrong turn. This time, however, Mama was using Mabel (our GPS), and bereft of our gadget and even a simple street map, Lauren and I did the best we could with our printed MapQuest directions (neither of us are quick to jump on trends, so we also didn't have the aid of a smartphone). Did you know that MapQuest doesn't recalculate? Or tell you what you did wrong? Or help you detour around construction? Our day ended up looking like this:

  1. Drop siblings off.
  2. Take a wrong turn, but get back on track within five minutes, and arrive at Schuback's.
  3. Spend 30 minutes driving the 3 minute trip to Powell's (no, there was no construction or traffic).
  4. Uneventful drive to Trader Joe's--hooray!
  5. Spend 60 minutes driving the 9 minute trip to Spaghetti Factory (there was construction, but that only added five minutes to our trip), including getting on the wrong freeway, ending up in the wrong part of town, making a lucky guess to get back in the right part of town, driving back to Powell's (where we KNEW where we were) three times, and discovering that Portland's streets are in alphabetical order in NW Portland.
  6. Take a wrong turn, but get back on track within five minutes and pick siblings up.
  7. Uneventful drive home--hooray!
Remarkably, Lauren and I did more laughing than crying, and we weren't horribly late to anything. Even with the ludicrous amount of time spent off the beaten path, we still had a delightful day.

I couldn't help but think of all the times when I feel just as lost in life as I did that day in Portland. When every moment seems fraught with stressful decisions; the road ahead is foggy and imperceptible; the directions seem unclear; and even my fellow sojourners don't know the way. But if life is a journey, it is certainly not a trip through a maze of big-city streets, where the destination is solely dependent upon my navigational skills! 

Life is much more like a voyage: I and every other Christian are traveling in an immense ocean liner, steaming to the edge of the world. Our passage was purchased by the blood of Christ, and our destination is heaven. Certainly, the web of hallways and decks and rooms are daunting, and we often falter, finding ourselves separated from our fellow Christians and seemingly from the Captain Himself. But we have only to go back to what we know to be true (hint: prayer and Scripture!), before all is right again and we are walking in Truth and Light. Yet all the while--even when our heart races and our stomach fills with the familiar dread of being in unknown territory--the Captain has never abandoned us. We neither leave the ship, nor are we truly lost. Even in the moments when we find ourselves in a dark pit in the deepest bowels of the vessel, we are still cruising at maximum speed for heaven. 


Because Quotes Are Like a Lay's Potato Chip...

...you get not just one, and not just ten, but thirteen of my favorite quotes.  These are mile-markers of my last year: some marking times of tears, some stubborn sin, some silliness, and some the most profound truth that I've yet known.


{If it were possible for C.S. Lewis to be over-quoted, I could be accused of such an infraction.  But since he can never be over-quoted, I will merely hope you enjoy him as much as I do!}








When I read this last quote, I picture Corrie Ten Boom remembering being huddled in her Nazi concentration camp cell, awaiting her own death.  I picture her saying this because of that remembrance, and I am humbled.  

What quotes have changed your perspective?


Alone, Yet Not Alone: A Movie Review

A Guest Post by Joel

Brutal. That's perhaps the best adjective to describe living on the western frontier of the American colonies in 1755. And that's exactly the feel you get from the newly-released historical adventure film, Alone, Yet Not Alone. Filmmakers Ray Begnston and George Escobar pull no punches depicting the extreme brutality of frontier conflict between European settlers and the tribes of the American wilderness. Only 15 minutes into the film, the patriarch of the Leiningers, a German immigrant family freshly settled in rugged Pennsylvania, is murdered with his son in their family's cabin. And it doesn't get much prettier from there. Burnings of buildings (and of people), close-combat fighting with bayonet and tomahawk, and scalps (without the scalpings) are all part of the story, easily earning this film it's PG-13 rating. But the violence is tastefully portrayed, and is largely without gore.

Barbara comforts Regina
The strongest point of the film lies with the historical account it vividly depicts. The tale is incredible: two sisters (and some friends along the way) abducted by fierce Indian warriors manage to survive and adapt to the lives of their captors for several years, ultimately, in different locations. After a 10-year separation, the remaining Leininger family members are reunited by the film's end. This truly is a Providential event, marked by a family's deep faith in God, and commitment to one another in the face of tremendous adversity. 

A tender moment
But the story’s decade-long time frame becomes a hindrance for modern filmmakers. Attempting to capture such a lengthy historical sequence, complete with the political context of colonial America, is a tall order for a less than 2 hour production. As a result, the film tells a compelling story, but is short on character development. Many of the characters we hardly have a chance to get to know before they're either grown or dead. And in some ways, where the character development does happen, it ends up being a bit inverse to the storyline. For instance, the primary romantic element of the film is between Barbara (the older Leininger sister) and her Indian captor, Galasko, in whom we see a growing affection and tenderness for Barbara throughout her captivity. It is, however, ultimately the unthinkable marriage with her father and brother's killer that drives Barbara to flee her captivity. In her freedom, she is reunited with an old friend from the past, whom we hardly know, and they are engaged by film's end without any time for us to appreciate this rather abrupt courtship.

On the filming level, for a Christian, independent, lower budget movie, Alone, Yet Not Alone, has some great successes along with some notable stumbles. The numerous cast members delivered a mixed acting performance. Natalie Rascoosin excellently portrays the young Barbara. Kelly Greyson fairs alright in her portrayal as an older Barbara, though her appearance and mannerisms probably fit better in a modern chick-flick than a rugged historical piece. Ozzie Torres and Tony Wade made a very strong showing in their performances as the two main Indian characters. Portrayals of colonial military leaders such as Captain Armstrong, General Braddock, and George Washington are all solid, as is the rendering of Benjamin Franklin by Barry Bedwell.

Several minor roles are filled by individuals that many in the homeschooling community will recognize instantly. Victoria Edmonds, one of the stars of the pro-life film Come What May, plays the supporting role of Marie, one of Barbara’s fellow captives. Bret Harris, of the Harris
homeschooling dynasty, also plays a supporting role. The majority of the Doug Phillips family appears in the film, some members with somewhat substantial parts. One of Phillips’ daughters plays the role of an Indian girl who befriends Barbara, while the now disgraced Doug Phillips fills a cameo role as a British colonel. Phillips' noticeable presence in the film, along with that of the young woman now suing Phillips for sexual assault, Lourdes Torres (who appears as an Indian maiden), unfortunately hinders the film’s message, though the movie had been shot long before the Vision Forum scandal erupted late last fall.

Overall, the film’s cinematography and action sequences are impressive. A few blunders turn up (we see drops of water on the camera lens in one rapids scene, and in another, a man just slain breaths, making me wonder if he was going to revive in a few moments). Some sequences were surprisingly unpredictable; others became trite (by the third hunting sequence, we all knew that the camera wasn't actually going to show the animal being shot). The musical score by William Ross is simply beautiful, providing the film with a strong boost of excellence and authenticity. 

And that brings me to the hallmark of the film, the title song, "Alone, Yet Not Alone." Sung by the three Leininger women throughout the film (who each do a fantastic job), and ultimately performed by Joni Erickson Tada during the credits, this song captures the beauty of the story and will leave its message in the hearts of viewers, long after they've left the theater.

Alone, Yet Not Alone will be experienced by viewers differently. Some will be distracted because of how much they know about the recent turmoil in the homeschooling community; others will be critical of the mistakes and mediocrity of some aspects of the film. But others, and indeed, a good many, will be understandably moved and inspired by the story's message, and will recognize that this film shouldn't be scolded, but supported. It is a solid attempt in retelling tales that ought to be told, the true stories of our heritage as Americans and as Christians. And no matter what, each person will leave with the truth in their heart, that when we know Jesus--no matter what the circumstance--we're never alone. 

Joel is a man of vision, integrity, and loyalty who loves the Lord with all his heart. He's a home school graduate and an alumnus of Oak Brook College of Law and Government Policy, where he graduated magna cum laude. Born and raised in the Northwest, Joel now resides in Maryland where he works as a legal assistant and tries to keep his brilliant writing skills incognito. (He hasn't been successful at that or at keeping his speaking skills off the radio or at keeping his musical talent in the back row at church.) His writing ability, however, does not extend to composing bios, because his version of a bio leaves out all the aforementioned important details as well as other essentials like how amazing and smart he is. Good thing he has a fiancee to set the record straight!
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