Monthly Archives: March 2013

Art Blog


I have another WordPress blog that is just about art. You can see more of my current and past work and the process of making art here at Creative Expressions by TJ.


“You Will Experience Terrible Failure” Later-Post: Written 9-16-2010


This morning on page 14 of  ’66 Love Letters’ by Dr. Larry Crabb, I read these words (it’s written as if God is speaking to us regarding the message of the book of Numbers): “You will experience terrible failure and crushing conflict on the road that leads to where I’m taking you, but it is the right road even when it feels like it’s killing you.

In My fourth love letter, I make clear that the road to life is rough. You will begin every new adventure in life with naive hope and excitement. Every wedding will begin with passion then move into problems. Every decorated nursery will receive a baby that will present unanticipated challenges. Every church plant, every new ministry, every small group that starts with happy hopes – everything you do, no matter how well organized and well intentioned – will run into trouble. If you are in touch with what I created you to enjoy, everything in this life will diappoint you, even the best spouse, the best kids, the best job, the best church, the best vacation.

And that disappointment will lead you to wonder if you’ve missed the right road, if perhaps there is a better, more satisfying, less bumpy road through your life. There isn’t, not one that leads to real joy. I wrote Numbers to tell you that. The road to life will expose you to terrible failure and crushing conflict. But only that road leads to the life you want, the life I give you.”

This was a good reminder for me as I enter the final days of preparation for my 50th Birthday trip to France. I have the hardest time letting go of the unknown and uncontrollable. I tend to go through life trying to prepare myself for every possible scenario. This trip is just a little window into how I deal with everything. ‘No matter how organized or well intentioned – will run into trouble’, I need to accept that and trust that this is part of being on ‘THE path to Life’, real life in a world that no longer functions as it should, with real people no longer loving as we were designed to love. But He is with me, He already knows what joys and sorrows and frustrations this trip will hold for me. My part is to find my balance between preparing and resting. I don’t need to be constantly paddling as if I’m going upstream nor do I want to drift with the current down over the waterfall.

The Breakfast Dance


A perfectly fine Spring morning ruined by words.

Over coffee, eggs and toast, words between us that push the other away.

I said, you are angry. More of an accusation than a question. I did ask a question earlier but that was also met with defensiveness.

It’s your tone, he said. It’s the self-righteous, I can’t believe you would do such a stupid thing tone. He said he would have responded differently if the words were more humbly from a place of I know you struggle with letting go, so do I.

He said, I said, attack, defend, avoid, blame. And the dance continues.

And then I opened my email to find Dr. Crabb’s Weekly Words:

“Once we see that words can have power, we must no longer be content with shallow words that mean little.  We must set out to harness that power with a clear awareness that words can both tear down and build up.”

Encouragement, Page 22

Question for Reflection:

  • How have you experienced the power of words in your life recently?  Did they tear down or build up?

Puff Shell Pastry


Prep: 20 mins

Cooking: About 5 mins

Other Total: About 25 mins


6 tblsp unsalted butter, cut into small dice

1 cup (8 fl oz) water

1 tsp salt

1 cup (5 oz) flour

5 eggs

In a saucepan, combine the butter, water and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often, and removed from the heat. Immediately pour in the flour all at once and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until you have a smooth mixture. Put the pan back on gentle heat and continue to stir until there are no lumps and the mixture pulls away from the pan sides, 1 minute.

Remove from the heat and add the eggs, one at a time, making sure each egg is thoroughly mixed in before adding the next. Work the dough as little as possible after adding the first egg. The dough should be shiny and be stiff enough to hold a shape.

The dough is now ready to be used. It can be formed by spoonfuls or with a pastry bag fitted with a plain or decorative tip. The dough should be spooned or piped onto parchment-lined baking sheets or nonstick baking sheets. The dough may be stored in a plastic bag for 2 days in the refrigerator or for up to 2 months in the freezer.

Makes 1 lb of dough.

(To be used with Cheese Puffs recipe found here on this site.)

From the Williams-Sonoma Guide to Good Cooking c 1996. Published by Broderbund Software, Inc. & Weldon Owen, Inc.

Cheese Puffs


Prep: 25 mins

Cooking: 15-20 mins

Other Total: About 45 mins


1 lb Puff Shell Pastry dough (recipe posted here on this site also)

1 cup (4 oz) shredded Emmenthaler or Gruyere cheese

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg freshly ground white pepper

Prepare the pastry dough. While it is still hot, vigorously beat in the cheese, nutmeg and pepper to taste with a rubber spatula.

Preheat an oven to 450 degrees F. Working in batches if necessary, spoon the dough into a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (one?) inch in diameter. Pipe small rounds about 1 1/2 inches in diameter onto a nonstick baking sheet at about 2-inch intervals. Alternatively, pipe the mixture into muffin-tin wells.

Bake until the pastry is puffed and golden, 15-20 minutes. If serving at room temperature, let cool on wire racks.

Serves 6. Makes about 30 puffs.

From the Williams-Sonoma Guide to Good Cooking c 1996. Published by Broderfund Software, Inc. & Weldon Owen, Inc.

Living Life Fearlessly


” I smiled when I saw the photo, thinking about you living life fearlessly (as you have written about) and taking risks, doing things that put you in harms way. Living life with the possibility of being hurt. These ripped jeans are testimony to me of that. I’m glad that you weren’t seriously injured, but I rejoice with you that you are able to do all the things you want to do and not give into a paralyzing fear that would keep you from them.”

This was written in the comment section of a photo I posted on facebook. A photo of my favorite jeans with a large rip in them just above the knee that was scraped when I slipped and fell while walking down a slightly declining wet ramp to board a mock pirate ship in Hakone Japan. Her first comment was “This is so awesome on so many levels.”


I was confused since it wasn’t awesome to look like a dork in front of so many people. I was actually more sad about the jeans first, then worried I’d be in pain for months to come (serious knee injury or just old lady back-out needing a chiropractor). It is that sort of fear that can lead to older people living a smaller and smaller life. Forgoing opportunities to see the world and connect with others along the way.

I’ve seen people do that, more women than men it seems. I don’t want to be that kind of woman. People who have known me for a long time think this adventure fits my personality. Some have always seen me as more brave than I am. Many think that because I’ve never met a stranger, talk easily and seem to make friends quickly that this has not been a very difficult transition.

Maybe it’s true that I was ‘born this way’, adventurous & brave. But the natural trajectory of (my)  life  since birth has been to pull into myself with each painful consequence of trying to live freely. The risks taken to live out my dreams were met by failure, disappointment and at times, excruciating pain, just like everyone else. I’ve been spared some trauma that others have had to face and I share in shameful secrets many will never admit to themselves, let alone talk about.

It has felt like war to keep pushing through the fear that would immobilize me. As I say this, I want to erase this whole post. The courage required to live my life pales in comparison to what so many women (and men) must deal with every day. This is clearly a “First World Problem”. But I’ll leave the post. It is real and we all must start where we are. Maybe I’ll be given the gift of more profound suffering.

I’m grateful to the people God has used to expose my fear that prompted the ugliest of un-loving interactions with others. I’m grateful for God’s kindness in giving me tastes of His goodness that calls me to trust Him and move into a world with many dangers, but none that can separate me from His love and His purposes. I want to look into the future with a smile, knowing that He will be with me no matter what dark valley I walk through and often times have a child or two of His to reach out and touch me at just the right time.



(Disclaimer: I haven’t made this yet but someone requested it. Turns out this recipe and the Corned Beef & Cabbage and Irish Soda Bread recipes I use, came from a Sunset Magazine back in 1994.)

The ingredients will be for a party of 12 first, will be in parenthesis following the comma for 25. The original had instructions for 50 but who is really going to serve 50?!  And it looks to me like it’s just double the 25 amounts.


  • Russet Potatoes……4 lb., (8 lb.)
  • Cabbage, cut into find shreds…….1 lb, (2 lb.)
  • Butter or margarine,…….. 1/2 cup (1/4 lb), (1 c. (1/2 lb))
  • Milk…..1 1/4 cup, (2 1/2 c)
  • Sliced green onions….1 cup, (2 c.)
  • Salt and Pepper

To serve 12, you will need a 5-6 quart pan, for 25, an 8 quart pan. Peel potatoes; rinse. Submerge in water until all are peeled. Drain; cut into 2-inch pieces. Place potatoes in pan; cover with water. Bring to a boil, covered, over high heat (10-40 minutes). Reduce heat; simmer until tender when pierced, about 15 minutes.

If cooking for 25, remove pan from range so you can cook beef; let potatoes stand in water, covered. until near serving time, up to 4 hours. To reheat, return to boil, covered, over high heat (15-20 minutes).

Drain; mash, part at a time, in a heavy-duty mixer or by hand in a large bowl (I would use potato ricer for smaller amounts). As mashed, transfer to a very large bowl; cover.

Place cabbage and butter in pan used for potatoes. Cover; steam cabbage over medium-high heat until well wilted, (8-15 minutes), stirring often. Meanwhile, stir milk and onions often in a 3-4 quart pan over medium heat until simmering, 8-10 minutes. Stir milk mixture into potatoes until smooth; stir in cabbage. Season with salt and pepper.

(My note: I would add salt to the potato water)