What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


I took one picture on Easter (of my Dad) and one the day before (of Mary)~ the rest were taken yesterday cleaning up.  No spiffy, smiling children in fancy Easter clothes.  No "first Easter" shots of a certain Ineke Beaneke.

It was an interesting weekend... I forgot all about the Easter egg dying.  I hadn't thought about Easter until about a week before at which time I spent about a nanosecond considering making everyone spiffy new duds (as is my custom)-five in six days- and then immediately unconsidered it.  So, no spanking new dresses/ bowties made by Mama.  No braided challah. (All keystones of a Newman Easter celebration.)  They did get their summer dress sandals, in lieu of Easter baskets...and I made sure there were fresh flowers on the tables so I am not a total failure.

We had company (my brother and sister-in-law) all day on Saturday.  We had many more bodies coming on Sunday.  Our kitchen sink drain has been broken for three weeks, the whole upstairs is a construction zone and on Saturday morning Matt put his coffee on the stove and the flame fizzled out in seconds.  He checked and sure enough, 0 pounds pressure in the propane tank for our stove/oven.

Thankfully, the propane guy came and filled us up in time for feasting.  My brother and Matt fixed the drain in the sink.  After 3 weeks of washing and dumping basins of water, it was sweet relief to see the water swirl on down.   It was cold and windy so plans for eating outdoors changed to eating indoors- but it was not raining so the passel of children were not cooped up inside wondering what to do.  Fifteen children scattered over acres instead of cooped inside an under-construction house is (I can assure you) a very good thing indeed.

Lots of yummy food.  Lots of smiling faces.  And, most gloriously of all, a Risen Lord.  He lives!

Monday, March 21, 2016

His New Beginning

Anton van der Jagt
my beloved Opa
died on
March 12th 2016

Almost seven years to the day since Oma died.  
His obituary was very nice, words to sum up a life.  The funeral service was beautiful, the most beautiful I have witnessed
It is hard to say goodbye but much, much easier to say goodbye when the staying brings so much pain and difficulty while the going so full of promise and hope and healing.  

When I got home from the funeral, I felt the sudden urge to buy orange flowers (which I did) in honor of him.  And I scrounged some old photos I borrowed in order to make copies.  Can I celebrate and share this man and his enormously large life with you?

After the funeral and while eating lunch, many people said many beautiful things in his memory.  

When I first heard about Opa passing away I began writing- writing is therapeutic for me.  I didn't know if I would be able to stand before a group of people and read it in my grief but, surprisingly, I was able to do it without blubbering at all.  

This is what I said:

The day that Opa died was the day that my daughter Corynn’s chicken died.  It was devastating to her that her beloved Pinecone would die and she sat on the couch, all weepy and forlorn about her chicken. I thought she was ridiculous that she would mourn so profoundly the loss of a chicken as I inwardly mourned the loss of my own dear Opa.
I admit I was a bit unsympathetic as I rebuked her for caring more about a silly farm animal than her own great-grandfather.  And then she said something that was pretty revelatory.  She said “Mama.  I only knew Opa as the man who said I looked like a ‘nice-looking girl’.”

Wow.  A sucker punch to my soul.

It’s true- as Alzheimers progressed and his memories became more and more elusive, he himself grew more and more clever at disguising his forgetfulness with generic terms like “M’lady” and “You’re a smart cookie” and “You look like a nice boy...”  With each passing season and each subsequent visit, Opa had lost a bit of himself, a bit of his greatness, until he was merely a shadow of who he once was.

Long life is a great gift from God…but the tragedy of time is that those promised generations that you have helped create, those branches and shoots of children and grandchildren and great grandchildren cannot know the vibrant and glorious and capable person behind the dull eyes and the tired bones and the weak muscles.  They cannot see the passions, the playfulness, the principles, the experiences, even the little idiosyncrasies that drive a person to be singularly their own.

I cannot blame Corynn for not cherishing Opa…Corynn had no opportunity.  Even I, as his tomboy granddaughter, didn’t often take the time as a young girl (when I did have the opportunity) to cherish who he was.  And when I grew wise enough to realize I wanted to know him, I had grown into a woman who had a husband and a household and a gaggle of children to care for and exponentially less opportunity to take the time to do so.

The man who was confined by lack of strength and fog of memory in the nursing home, that shadow of a man, is not the man who Opa was and I choose not to remember him that way.
For my childrens’ sake, and my own, let me tell you who I knew Opa to be.

I know that he was adventurous and brave.  Not the kind of pseudo-adventure and bravery we find so often today, seeking opportunities out like skydiving or mountain climbing but the kind of adventure that doesn’t need being sought after but find you anyway.  The kind of adventure that forces you to hide inside a church organ, escaping death in order to continue the work of helping those persecuted Jews flee to safety during World War II.  The kind that causes you to leave your family, your country, your home and everything familiar to you in order to make a better life for your family.  The kind of adventures that beget bravery.

I know he loved fiercely.  He adored his ‘Bep’ and remained faithful and steadfast to her every day of their 62 years together and beyond.  He brought her flowers every single week and would steal kisses as Oma scolded.  

I know he loved truth and fought for it, debated it, sought it, reflected it.  He was intensely proud of his children.

He sipped tea with a handled cup atop a porcelain saucer and stirred with a dainty spoon.  He walked miles and miles...on all sorts of days, in all sorts of weather.  “Fresh air is good for you!”  His stride was hard to match; his long legs were quick and steady and strong.
He sat with knees crossed like a Dutch gentleman, not at all like the other, American men I knew.  His smile lit up his whole face and his laughter filled up a room.  He spoke with that wonderfully foreign Dutch brogue and the beauty of those sounds is one I will miss tremendously.

He would debate and discuss and ask you questions and then wait…wait…wait for you to have an answer (that he could then refute).  He made you think things through, even when doing so made you squirm.

He was a storyteller and could spin a tale as if it was nothing at all.  I loved reading the Escape and The Secret Mission and took such pride in knowing that it was MY grandfather who had written them...real books!   He left a piece of himself in the books that he has written and the stories he has told.

His life was an adventure story of epic proportions.  Son of shoestore owner defies evil dictator, works in an underground movement risking life and limb for the sake of humanity, leaves home and nation for a land of freedom and plenty for his children, works tirelessly with a team to create a lens for the Hubble telescope- a scientific breakthrough for the whole world to glance higher up and further in to God’s glorious masterpiece.

As C.S.Lewis once said… “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.”

Opa’s life was full, his accomplishments were many, his legacy is great. He was a good and faithful servant. 

It was so heart-breaking in the end, he did not even know or remember those things about himself.  Alzheimer’s robbed him of his memories and of his past and truly, of who he was as a person.  He couldn’t console himself that he had lived a long life and lived it well.  With no past to remember and no future to anticipate, it became, in the end, simply a time of waiting to die.

He didn’t remember then what he knows now.  That death is not the end…but rather, the very beginningHe lives again.

This moment…this very moment…He lives.  And because of Christ in his life, he is smiling. He is overcome with wonder. With joy.  He is reunited with Oma, with his family, with his brothers and sisters in Christ.  He is in the presence of God, his father.   His strength is renewed.  His mind is more clear than every possible even at the height of his life.  That wonderful laughter of his is filling the heavens.

It is not true of everyone who dies, but it is gloriously true for those who seek after and live for Christ.  For those who understand the sacrificial work of Christ on the cross.  And Opa emphatically did.

While I mourn the loss of Opa for myself, for my mom, for his children and loved ones, all of us here today who have been touched by him in some way... I rejoice with him, knowing that his joy has finally been made complete. He is living his reward…and he will, for all eternity. 

To quote Lewis once more, Opa is “beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”  

I’m so happy for him.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

The Evolution of a Smile

It begins with bright eyes... 

then the tongue starts working...


corners start to creep...

here it comes...it's working its' way out...

Whoop!  There it is!

But you haven't fully arrived until you see...

the telltale eye squint. 

And all of the sudden...
the world is a much brighter, happier place.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Last week of No-Grocery challenge

Where did last week go?  With a wedding, an out-of-town trip, sickness, etc., I guess a week can pass pretty quickly.  It's late, but here is the last week of February's no grocery challenge menu.  I am so over blogging about food for awhile....I am posting this just for some closure.  And so I can move onto more interesting things on this blog without feeling guilty.  ;-)

Breakfast: Honey nut Cheerios (a friend gave us a box at church...you would have thought it was Christmas!)
Lunch: queso blanco cheese, apple slices, meat stick
Dinner: goulash (sauce), green beans

Breakfast: scrambled eggs, slice of ham
Lunch: sandwiches
Dinner: stirfry over brown rice, applesauce

breakfast: omelets
lunch: macaroni and cheese (milk, cheese)
dinner: Beef roast au jus, creamed corn, asparagus, pudding

B: cornmeal mush (with milk)
L: zucchini soup (zucchini, cream cheese, milk)
D: Peach pineapple picante chicken over quinoa & rice, applesauce

B: yogurt
L: tuna salad
D: Pizza night!  (mozzerella, sauce) Carrot sticks

B: loaded omelets (cheese)
L: had lunch at SIL's
D: pizza, carrot sticks

B: yogurt and granola
L: SNACK LUNCH.  cheese, meatsticks, leftover communion bread, snacks
D: tortilla chips with pepperjack cheese sauce, salsa, sour cream; smoothies (blueberries, peaches, strawberries, yogurt, leftover apple cider, leftover buttermint icecream)

B: yogurt and granola
L: sandwiches
D: cube steaks with brown gravy, cheesy vegetables, quinoa & rice salad (with tomatoes, corn, black beans, etc.), cinnamon pickles


tin roof sundae ice cream
hot cocoa and whipped cream
apple cider
chocolate chip cookies (made by Corynn and Andrew)
granola (made by Corynn)
communion bread
chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream

In Conclusion:

The only necessities I ran out of for the WHOLE MONTH of not grocery shopping was salt (for cheese) and coffee (for Matt).  I thought I had run out of citric acid, veggie oil and olive oil but I later found brand new containers squirreled away in different areas.  I think that is pretty impressive since the only thing I did in preparation for this challenge was to buy a big bag of flour and a big bag of sugar.  Turns out, I must be a bit of a food hoarder.  I nestle food here, there and everywhere like a squirrel preparing for winter.

I used plenty of canned goods and a good amount of frozen things but didn't empty out a freezer as I had hoped.   The stand up freezer is much easier to use from than the chest freezer (particularly, if you have a stained glass project sitting on the lid of the chest freezer) so I emptied that out more than the other.

We didn't feel deprived a single time during February, despite not going to the store.  One thing I did realize was that sandwiches are a convenience meal.  A simple sandwich-when you don't have convenient storebought bread becomes a major affair when you have to make it from scratch.  Oi.  It was hard to find food to fill bellies when I didn't feel like cooking.  And without sandwiches for lunch- I was cooking three times a day.  Every day. (And making dairy products in between). Those pioneer women who made big breakfasts and big dinners and washed everything by hand and baked all their bread- and basically LIVED in the kitchen without going absolutely mad...  boy,  those ladies are my heroes.
This month I am going to continue to focus on using things up in the chest freezer.  That one holds mostly meats.  A lady from church suggested getting out a week's worth of meat and putting them in the fridge to dethaw in a drawer which I thought was a brilliant idea.  As the meats thaw, you've got yourself supper options!  De-thawing is my biggest problem when it comes to supper.  I always forget to do it and then it is suppertime and too late.  (We don't have a microwave to dethaw things.)  So, I'm excited to see how that works out for me.

Another trick I learned about this month was to soak a whole bowlful of beans at the beginning of the week and then store them in the fridge instead of trying to soak only the beans you intend to use for a meal.  Having the beans ready to cook, you can think about how to use them throughout the week instead of making a single meal a big deal.  Probably common sense to most folks, but I had never thought of that.

And here is something you may not have known- when making macaroni and cheese, you can skip the whole boiling-draining-making a flour paste step and simply boil your pasta in milk.  Did you know that?  The starch from the pasta acts as a thickener to make a delicious cheesesauce without all the fuss.  Just use milk enough to cover the pasta and when the pasta is ready- turn off the heat and stir in the shredded cheese.  Be sure to turn off the heat.  If you keep the heat on, the cheese might turn gritty and overcooked instead of smooth and creamy.  Easy peasy.

Am I glad I did it?  Absolutely.   More money in the checking account because of less trips uptown.  Less nasty looks and comments from those who think a mother with a handful of children following behind her should be stoned in the streets.  More time for schooling without a day being interrupted each week for shopping.  Less food waste, Less garbage.  More creativity.  All good things.

Once a month grocery shopping requires planning and diligence but it might be just right for us.