A funny thing happened on the way to my life

We got married in 1982.  It wasn’t very long after we got married, maybe a year, maybe 2, that my husband started making noises about wanting to go into ministry.  I said no.  I said no the way a woman would say no if her husband smilingly asked her if she would like a bucket of spiders poured over her head while cockroaches crawled between her toes.

I mean, there was no room for doubt in my response.  And that response stayed the same for the last 30 years.  No.  I don’t want to.  I married him for many reasons, but I am not kidding when I say that one of the attractions was in no small part that he would never be a preacher.  In fact, when we married, a majority of the attractions at that age and stage in my recovery and escape from growing up with abuse was that there was almost no way whatsoever my husband resembled my father- not in ambition, gifts, weaknesses, strengths, physical appearance- and decidedly not in career choice.  I would never have dated anybody who wanted to be a preacher, let alone married him, not in any circumstances.

Over the years we’ve been asked why, and I’ve mainly said I didn’t want to be dependent on other Christians for whether we could pay our bills that month or not.  Of course, people usually point out we’re depending on God not fellow believers, and I just nod and shrug because the end result looks the same- people.  Money is fungible.  It comes to us through people.  But that probably wasn’t really the reason.  I mean, I did not particularly enjoying being a preacher’s kid growing up.  I didn’t like the looks, the expectations, the double standards.  Not my parents’ double standards, but other people’s.   “I can wear this,” said a deacon’s daughter to me about a skimpy outfit she was wearing, “but you’re the preacher’s daughter. It would be wrong for you.”    I could give you a list of stuff like this, but that really wasn’t it, either.  I was an intensely logical child and at 9 or 10 I was rolling my eyes at her reasoning- rolling them so hard I could see my own brain, because I just that snarkastic even then.

My parents did make a firm and loud point to us and to anybody else who would listen that they did not expect any particular sort of behavior from us because my dad was preacher, that what they expected from us would have been the same if my father was a lay member and we were just ‘civilian’ members of the church and our parents were in used car sales.  I never had any sense that this was not entirely true until high school, when events revealed that for one of my parents at least, this was not really true.  But then, almost nothing was true when it came to that parent.  I am not going to go into the details,  but I will say, I know that my mother, at least, had believed it was true, and it was true for her.  For my dad, the well behaved Christian children were part of his necessary camouflage.

And there we are.  I expect the real reason I have a reflexive recoil at the idea of being a preacher’s wife has already occurred to anybody who has been reading here for any length of time and can read between the lines, especially since the ‘between the lines’ parts are growing less and less faint as I grow older and my dad’s death places him every month, every year, at a safer distance from me.  Abuse casts a long, long shadow.

My dad was a preacher, and he was also a psychopath.  Unless it’s sociopath.  I never can quite remember which is which, but neither is exactly the sort of parent who builds warm and fuzzy connections with the offspring.  Somehow, one of my brothers managed to stomach it all and become a preacher himself, but then, he was, of the 3 of us, the least likely to be thrown into a wall or have his face rubbed in dog feces, or worse.  Not, he would insist, that he doesn’t know it was hell, and from first hand experiences of his own, just that if the 3 of us were to line our pitiful childhood selves up in order of precisely which layer of hell we were in, my youngest brother and I would be hardpressed to admit anybody had it worse than us, and the middle brother would have to agree with us that it definitely was not him.


So I have always known this about myself- I have never  ever, not even for a second, wanted to be a preacher’s wife.  I’m not going to be one now.

However, oddly enough, bizarrely enough, strangely enough- I just-, and I do mean just, as in five minutes before I sat down to write this post- realized that I have  been completely complicit in becoming a missionary’s wife,  In fact, I have not only been complicit in this,  I have encouraged, aided, and abetted this change, and not only is my husband going into missions, I’m expected to partner with him (precisely how, I do not quite know yet, a lot depends on the Cherub’s adjustment to a new country), and it’s entirely self- supported, self-funded.  As in, we have to raise 100% of our support ourselves.

Although I have known this for months, technically speaking, as I say, my brain only allowed me to come face to face with the reality of what it all means about five or ten minutes ago. I am still rather stunned by this discovery.  I am even more stunned by the way my brain has betrayed me, allowed us to get this far, allowed me to do as much as I have already done without letting me in on this little secret-  that I’ve just become a missionary’s wife for a fully self-supporting mission.    Wretched traitor, my brain.

I was tricked, you see, by the fact that the work my husband will actually be doing is creating a special needs program at a school in Davao City which has never had a special needs program before.  I was distracted by the knowledge that there is an orphanage where others at the school regularly go volunteer, and fresh off our own very personally moving, life changing, heart breaking, heart aching experience with orphan hosting four brothers from Ukraine and having them wrenched away from us (no, I can’t talk about it more, not ever), that was an aching throbbing, cavity in my heart I was anxious to fill and I am hopeful there will be a way to fill it through helping other children at that different orphanage in another country. And, let us be painfully honest,  I was seduced by my own wander-lust and lured by a desire to give my youngest and last child (even though he is 18) the chance to experience life overseas, even for a short time, in a very different country with a very different lifestyle.   Bedighted by all these trappings, the plain reality that I was now married to a missionary and was also become one myself in spite of myself was hidden from me- by me.

I just blinked and saw God behind the curtain, laughing at me.


And now that I have gotten that off of my chest and spun the confused ponderings of my bewildered brain into words which make some sense, even if the reality still doesn’t, I have said and done all I ever wanted to do with this blog post.  I merely sat down to do what I often do when I am baffled, bewildered, confused, or in some way feeling more emotional than I like (feelings? Ew.  I got some on me, but shook that stuff off, and I’m better now, thanks)–  Ariadne had a golden thread to help her through her maze. I find my way through my own mental mazes with words. Writing clarifies things for me, including my own thoughts and feelings.  So I wrote.  I thought I was done.

But having written, the topic will not release me until I do this one, uncomfortable, embarrassing, humbling thing I had not planned to do.  You know that recurring dream where one is doing something very public- like delivering a keynote address- only one realizes one is in one’s underwear and nobody has noticed yet, but the fact that one is nearly naked is bound to dawn upon the crowd at any moment?  I hadn’t had that one in five years or more.  It’s back.

I mentioned we are self-supporting in this mission work.  If you are interested in hearing more from us about it- short, chatty, weekly emailed newsletters at the moment, either leave your email address in the comments, or email me at Heartkeepercommonroom (gmail), and I will pass it on, and my husband will add you to his email list.  I write the newsletters, largely based on topics he suggests, he handles nearly everything else because I am still somewhat in denial.


Obviously, yes, we’d be relieved by financial support, also by sharing on social media, and especially, we’d love your prayers and encouragement.  

Thank-you all so much for reading.

Posted in Who We Are | Tagged , , , | 12 Responses

1901- Housekeeping Advice

vintage large family ad The Ladies' Home Journal 1921From Good Housekeeping, volume 33, 1901, some advice on running a summer boarding house, some of which may also prove useful to the mother of a growing family or one with frequent houseguests:


The best dried prunes and apricots when well cooked are delicious. They make an appetizing change and are cheaper than fresh fruit. (Me: according to other recipes I’ve looked up from the time, if you soak it in cold water overnight, it will be just like any other canned fruit, and you can use it in pies, crumbles, cobbler, and as a plain side dish just as you would canned fruit)

Study every method of warming up cold potatoes. For one meal have scalloped potato, for others mashed, brown, creamed, sauted, croquettes, boulettes, puffs, deviled, stewed, Delmonico, au gratin, broiled, rissoles, lyonnaise, omelet, souffle, muffins, or for luncheon in a delicious salad.  (find some of these recipes here)

Variety is the very spice of the boarding house table. Carry out this advice also in bread. Let good wheat bread be a standby. Still the emptying of the flour barrel will not be so frequent an occurrence when the menu is varied every day by rye, graham or corn meal muffins and gems (smaller muffins). Entire wheat, graham and rye bread also ring a welcome change.

Every day after the noonday meal take a quiet hour to study refrigerator left-overs and their possibilities, and plan the menus for the next day. Do not leave your thinking of what supplies are required till you arrive at the market, and never allow groceries to run out. Replenish before the last spoonful is shaken from the bottom of the jar. (Me: keep a running shopping list on the refrigerator and add items to it as you see you are running low)
If the best steaks cannot be obtained, buy good split-bone steak  (Me: I have no idea what that is, but this method should work to tenderize any tough cut of meat)  and purchase the supply two days ahead. Lay the steaks in a large platter, mix equal quantities olive oil and vinegar and pour it over the steaks till every portion is marinated. Allow them to stand in this from twenty-four to forty-eight hours in the coldest part of the refrigerator. The result will be steaks in which every portion is as eat able as tenderloin. The split-bone is an ideal boarding house steak ; there is scarcely a morsel of if that cannot be served.

coffee because crackBuy good coffee and learn to make good coffee. One cup of steaming hot, strong, golden coffee with cream will do more to put your guests in good humor for a day than the most elaborate breakfast with poor coffee.

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Vintage Recipes for Potatoes


Vintage Recipes for Potatoes

Vintage Recipes for Potatoes


“The word boulette signifies ‘ball,’ and is used very seldom except to describe a garnish. Boulettes of potatoes are what is better known as potatoes Victoria. Boulettes of game are made of a highly seasoned mince of cold game, breaded and fried.”- The Culinary Handbook …
By Charles Fellows

Potato Croquettes. Pommes de Terre.

2 Cups of Mashed Potatoes.
1 Tablespoonful of Chopped Parsley.
2 Tablespoonfuls of Cream.
1 Tablespoonful of Onion Juice.
1 Teaspoonful of Salt.
1 Ounce of Butter.
The Yolks of 2 Eggs.
A Dash of Cayenne.
Beat the yolks to a cream and add them to the potatoes. Mix well and then add the cream and all the other ingredients. Mix well, and put into a saucepan over the fire, stirring until the mixture leaves the side of the vessel. Take off the fire, and set to cool. When cold, shape into cylinders about two and a half inches in length and one in width.

Roll first in a beaten egg, to bind, and then in bread crumbs, and fry to a golden brown in boiling lard. … When done, lift out of the lard with a skimmer, and drain on brown paper in the mouth of the oven. Serve for breakfast, or as a garnish for meats.

Utilize left-over potatoes in this way. Serve with fish, fried, broiled or baked.

Boulettes are prepared in exactly the same manner, only thyme and bay leaf, minced very fine, are added and the potatoes are formed into balls, or boulettes. Boulettes are eaten more generally at breakfast, and croquettes at dinner, especially with fish.

~the Picayune Creole Cookbook

Lyonnaise Sauce
1 Dozen Tomatoes.
Two or Three Onions.
1/2 Spoon of Butter.
2 Cloves of Garlic.
1 Sprig Each of Thyme and Bay Leaf.
Minced Fine. 1 Tablespoonful of Flour. Salt and Pepper and Cayenne to Taste. Make a good Tomato Sauce (see below), and add to this the well minced onions browned in butter. Stir well, add a little lemon juice, and serve with any meats.

Tomato Sauce
Sauce aux Tomates
1 Dozen Tomatoes. Tablespoonful of Butter. 2 Cloves of Garlic. 1 Sprig Each of Thyme and Bay Leaf, Minced Fine. 1 Tablespoonful of Flour. Salt and Pepper and Cayenne to Taste. Take one dozen large tomatoes, or one can, and put in a pot to boll, with one-half tablespoonful of butter. Add salt and pepper to taste, and one pint of water. Let it cook for about ten minutes, add the minced thyme, parsley and bay leaf, and two cloves of garlic, minced fine. When well boiled, mash through a sieve, reducing to a pulp. Put a tablespoon of flour in a saucepan, and add a half spoon of flour. When it blends and browns nicely add the tomato juice, season highly to taste, and, when ready to serve, add chopped parsley as a garnish. Serve with meat, fish or game.

Olive Green, How to Cook Vegetables
POTATO PUFFS Grate three cold boiled potatoes, add a pinch of salt, half a cupful of milk, one tablespoonful of minced parsley, and two eggs well beaten. Add enough flour to make a batter that will drop from the spoon, sifting half a teaspoon- ful of baking-powder with the flour. Drop by spoonfuls into deep fat and fry brown.

POTATO RISSOLES Mix a pint of cold mashed potatoes with two well-beaten eggs, seasoning with salt and pepper. Shape into small egg-shaped balls, dip in crumbs, then in beaten egg, then in crumbs, and saute and reheat with it equal parts of cold cooked cabbage and potatoes cut fine. (drizzle with ketchup for small children, or use a tomato sauce recipe above)

POTATOES A LA DELMONICO— I Cut raw potatoes into balls with a French vegetable-cutter, sprinkle with salt, and cook, covered, in butter, shaking the pan to keep from burning.

POTATOES A LA DELMONICO— II Peel and cut into small dice enough potatoes to make a quart. Butter a deep baking-dish, put in a layer of potatoes, sprinkle with salt, pepper, minced onion, and parsley and dot with butter. Repeat until the dish is full, having seasoning on top. Add milk nearly to cover and bake slowly for forty-five minutes.

POTATOES AU GRATIN— Cook together two tablespoonfuls of butter and one of flour, add one cupful each of stock and cream or milk, and cook until thick, stirring constantly. Take from the fire, add four heaping tablespoonfuls of grated cheese, the yolks of four eggs well beaten, and salt and cayenne to taste. Slice cold boiled potatoes and arrange in a buttered baking-dish with alternate layers of the sauce, having sauce on top. Sprinkle with crumbs, dot with butter, and brown in the oven.

POTATO PUFF Beat to a cream two cupfuls of cold mashed potatoes and two tablespoonfuls of melted butter, add the yolks of two eggs beaten with a cupful of cream or milk, and salt and pepper to season. Fold in the stiffly beaten whites, pour into a buttered baking-dish, and bake until well puffed and brown.

POTATO PUFFS Grate three cold boiled potatoes, add a pinch of salt, half a cupful of milk, one tablespoonful of minced parsley, and two eggs well beaten. Add enough flour to make a batter that will drop from the spoon, sifting half a teaspoon- ful of baking-powder with the flour. Drop by spoonfuls into deep fat and fry brown.

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Free Kindle Reads for You

Free Kindle books (aff. links)

How to Improve Concentration and Focus: 10 Exercises and 10 Tips to Increase Concentration

Algebra – The Very Basics

Four Seasons of Creative Writing: 1,000 Prompts to Stop Writer’s Block (Story Prompts for Journaling, Blogging and Beating Writer’s Block)

Shadows of the Past (Logan Point Book #1): A Novel

The Recipe: In this heartwarming romance novella by Candace Calvert, hospital dietary assistant Aimee Curran is determined to win the Vegan Valentine Bake-Off to prove she’s finally found her calling. But while caring for one of her patients—the elderly grandmother of a handsome CSI photographer—Aimee begins to question where she belongs.

Jesus, an Obedient Son
by Michael Phillips

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Watts, Improving the Mind- what do you bring to the table?

Isaac watts judgmentPreviously

V. Mere lectures, reading, and conversation, without thinking, are not sufficient to make a man of knowledge and wisdom. It is our own thought and reflection, study and meditation, which must attend all the other methods of improvement, and perfect them. It carries these advantages with it:

1. Though observation and instruction, reading and conversation, may furnish us with many ideas of men and things, yet it is our own meditation, and the labour of our own thoughts, that must form our judgment of things. Our own thoughts should join or disjoin these ideas in a proposition for ourselves: it is our own mind that must judge for ourselves concerning the agreement or disagreement of ideas, and form propositions of truth out of them. Reading and conversation may acquaint us with many truths, and with many arguments to support them; but it is our own study and reasoning that must determine whether these propositions are true, and whether these arguments are just and solid. It is confessed there are a thousand things which our eyes have not seen, and which would never come within the reach of our personal and immediate knowledge and observation, because of the distance of times and places: these must be known by consulting other persons; and that is done either in their writings or in their discourses. But after all, let this be a fixed point with us, that it is our own reflection and judgment must determine how far we should receive that which books or men inform us of, and how far they are worthy of our assent and credit.

2. It is meditation and study that transfers and conveys the notions and sentiments of others to ourselves, so as to make them properly our own. It is our own judgment upon them, as well as our memory of them, that makes them become our own property. It does as it were concoct our intellectual food, and turns it into a part of ourselves: just as a man may call his limbs and his flesh his own, whether he borrowed the materials from the ox or the sheep, from the lark or the lobster: whether he derived it from corn or milk, the fruits of the trees, or the herbs and roots of the earth; it is all now become one substance with himself, and he wields and manages those muscles and limbs for his own proper purposes, which once were the substance of other animals or vegetables; that very substance which last week was grazing in the field or swimming in the sea, waving in the milk-pail, or growing in the garden, is now become part of the man.

3. By study and meditation we improve the hints that we have acquired by observation, conversation, and reading: we take more time in thinking, and by the labour of the mind we penetrate deeper into the themes of knowledge, and carry our thoughts sometimes much farther on many subjects, than we ever met with, either in the books of the dead or discourses of the living.

It is our own reasoning that draws out one truth from another, and forms a whole scheme of science from a few hints which we borrowed elsewhere. By a survey of these things we may justly conclude, that he who spends all his time in hearing lectures, or poring upon books, without observation, meditation, or converse, will have but a mere historical knowledge of learning, and be able only to tell what others have known or said on the subject: he that lets all his time flow away in conversation, without due observation, reading, or study, will gain but a slight and superficial knowledge, which will be in danger of vanishing with the voice of the speaker: and he that confines himself merely to his closet, and his own narrow observation of things, and is taught only by his own solitary thoughts, without instruction by lectures, reading, or free conversation, will be in danger of a narrow spirit, a vain conceit of himself, and an unreasonable contempt of others; and after all, he will obtain but a very limited and imperfect view and knowledge of things, and he will seldom learn how to make that knowledge useful.

These five methods of improvement should be pursued jointly, and go hand in hand, where our circumstances are so happy as to find opportunity and conveniency to enjoy them all; though I must give opinion that two of them, viz: reading and meditation, should employ much more of our time than public lectures, or conversation and discourse. As for observation, we may be always acquiring knowledge that way, whether we are alone or in company. But it will be for our further improvement, if we go over all these five methods of obtaining knowledge more distinctly and more at large, and see what special advances in useful science we may draw from them all….

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