Sometimes I think I am the luckiest woman alive. I have a spouse who loves to cook … and is good at it! He likes to cook, and bake, and smoke meats, and has even dabbled with drying fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Most everything he has attempted has turned out wonderfully. Italian. Mexican. Chinese. American. Cajun. German.
He makes all of our meals, meaning lunch and supper and the occasional “something special.” Waffles. Biscuits and gravy. Norris omelets. Cookies. Cakes. Chex party mix. There are very few foods he doesn’t make. Tuna salad. My mom’s potato salad, coleslaw, and macaroni salad. And pies.
He also loves to cook with fresh food … better yet, home grown … so he raises a huge garden. Huge, because there’s a little bit of everything, I swear! He likes to plant enough so we will have what we need and there will still be some to share with neighbors.
Toward the end of June, as the strawberries, rhubarb, cherries, and asparagus were winding down, I told Mr. Pat that if he harvested it, I would process it. This was not wise on my part. July has been harvest time … and processing has required both of us!
We’ve been freezing sweet corn. Yay! We’ve been eating broccoli nearly every day because we have so much in the freezer from prior years. We’ve been canning dill pickles because those little boogers are prolific AND ours are turning out just like Lucille said they should if we followed the recipe.
We made pickled beets, using my mom’s recipe. Then we used this brine to make pickled eggs, like his mom used to make. We even put 19 homemade runzas in the freezer, using only half of the cabbage he had grown!
The night after making runzas we sat down to a supper of bacon-lettuce-and-tomato sandwiches, sweet corn, and cucumbers and onions sliced into vinegar. And I said, “Now this is MY definition of summer … when you can eat BLTs, corn, and cucumbers, fresh from the garden, all at the same time!”
Thank you, God, for all things good! Grace and peace … --Pastor Pat
My husband had said he would like to go back to San Antonio sometime. Lackland Air Force Base is there. He had been there in 1963, arriving for boot camp 3 days after his high school graduation. And we had been there together in 1990 when his son graduated from boot camp. The Riverwalk is also there, and is where we spent much of our time in 1990.
Last week we went back to San Antonio. To relive some memories. To make some new ones. To relax and rest.
Our hotel was 2 blocks away from the Riverwalk. Nice, because we didn’t reserve a car. We walked everywhere. To the restaurants and pubs, to the shops, to the movie theaters, to Walgreens for our daily dose of chocolate.
We didn’t make it to the base. We did make it to our favorite restaurants more than once!
Our last night in San Antonio was extra special. Lorenza drove up from Brownsville to join us after dinner. We hadn’t seen each other in five years, not since Arizona when I joined her on the streets for a week. And it’s next to impossible to catch up on five years in a couple of hours. So, instead, we talked about our present realities and our future possibilities. And laughed. And loved. And called it a night before we drove our waiter nuts.
As we walked with Lorenza to her vehicle, we passed Homeless Jesus, a statue outside of St. Mary’s Catholic Church. One recognizes he is Jesus because of the holes in the tops of his feet, which is the only part of his body peeking out from under his blanket. A vivid reminder that Christ is among us. Always. Everywhere. In every one.
And I remember … the man we had spoken to who sat in the shade with his two beautiful dogs each day. The wheelchair-bound man we chatted with while walking the same path. The young man, Steve, who had attended a Mennonite camp in North Platte as a boy and for whom we bought a meal. And my sister, Lorenza, who bought our meal, laughed with us, and showed us love. Christ among us. Always. Everywhere. In every one.
Grace and peace … --Pastor Pat
It is early in the month of July as I ponder today. My thoughts are scattered this morning. But I have a deadline. So, first I will pray for Holy Spirit direction and the weaving together of whatever bursts forth in these moments.
Come, Holy Spirit, come. You have a way of guiding my thoughts and making sense of them as I move through them and through my day. Take the plethora of ideas and memories and considerations that are swirling around in my head and heart and make of them an offering of thanks and gratitude.
We had so much fun last night! It was a girls’ night out to see the movie, Book Club. Hadn’t been to a theater in years. Loved the movie. But getting there was just as much fun.
So that we could all ride together in one vehicle, my niece had asked to borrow the guys’ recently purchased party bus, a 1970s model van, complete with shag carpet on the walls. No air conditioning so at least some windows needed to be open. But not all of the windows; otherwise, you couldn’t breathe because of the gas fumes.
She picked up passengers in Davenport, Bruning, and Hebron. We laughed all the way. We laughed during the movie. And laughed some more. Our two rows, I think, were the most vocal in the theater.
Here we were, three generations of women. Connected by birth or marriage or just because. We laughed even more on the way home. And all agreed we need to do this again. Soon.
Earlier that afternoon, my sister and I had taken the meandering way from Bruning to Davenport, thinking her grandson might nap on the way. Nope. Instead we picked up Mom, played with the little guy some more, then made our way back to Bruning … again, taking the scenic route.
I had not known until then where our little family of three was living when we became a family of four. But my mom and sister knew.
It was a wonderfully restorative, uplifting, memorable Sunday, O God.
Grace and peace … --Pastor Pat
I hadn’t been in the area six months before I learned that housing was hard to come by in Schuyler, Nebraska. In early December, a phone call late at night sought housing, with heat, for a mother and her three children. In 2013, it was especially difficult for immigrant families to obtain adequate, affordable housing.
In 2014, several substandard rental properties changed ownership, were renovated, and quickly leased.
In July 2015, Schuyler Ministerial Association became determined to initiate and support a faith-based housing rehab effort in Schuyler.
By January 2016, Schuyler Hospitality and Housing Team had formed to address the housing challenge for immigrant families. Over the next 18 months, the team formed a partnership with Columbus Habitat for Humanity in the hope of building the first of several homes for a diverse population.
Countless hours were involved … learning the Habitat way, finding a lot, finding a project manager and construction manager, seeking donations from businesses, groups, and individuals, sharing the story of how God was involved in meeting the needs of God’s people.
In June 2017, I left Schuyler Hospitality and Housing Team in very capable hands, knowing that, in time, God’s vision would come to fruition. Well, friends … it is finally happening!
Last week I learned that Yessica Marino has been selected as Schuyler’s first family partner/home owner. She has made her $500 down payment, and construction will begin in July! PGFWABF!
Here’s how you fit into God’s plan … we are being asked to form and support build teams, and select our Saturday, July through September, to help Yessica build her home. Consider it a one-day mission trip to fulfill God’s purposes. For Yessica and her family. And in your life.
All of this because a wise and faithful woman and her pastor asked, “What can we do about the housing situation for our neighbors?” Thank you, God, for answering.Grace and peace … --Pastor Pat
Ohmygoodness! It seems like such a long time since I’ve gotten to do this! Yes, as I write, we are on vacation for a few days. But that’s not what I’m talking about. What I mean is: I got to sleep in this morning! Until I felt like rolling out of bed. And it was wonderful!
This seldom happens at home. Arapahoe and Xian have taken to barking far more than they used to. We’re not sure if there is more activity in the neighborhood, or if they are getting more fussy in their older age.
Living in town also means there are traffic sounds that can disrupt sleep. The school bus that stops to pick up kiddos daily … right in front of our bedroom windows. Garbage trucks from at least two different companies … picking up refuse on different days of the week. And the trains, oh, the trains. Need I say more?
But when we’re on vacation, there are none of those sounds to interrupt sleep. Ahhh. We are off the beaten path. Our room is on the second level instead of street level. And we arrived on a weekday, not a weekend. Ahhh.
With nine of hours of sleep last night, I’ll be ready to enjoy the shows Mr. Pat has booked for this afternoon and tonight. We still haven’t decided how we’re going to celebrate on my birthday. Wonder if I could talk him into shopping? That’s probably not going to happen!
At any rate, vacations are so worth it. Whatever we decide to do. Wherever we decide to go. However long it takes to get there. Whatever mode of transportation it takes.
Rest and renewal are so important. Time to pause and breathe deeply is necessary for us to gain perspective on what is really important in life. Time to savor the richness and beauty of art, music, food, nature, and relationship affords appreciation and gratitude. Let’s face it. We simply may not recognize the significance and depth of God’s goodness until we step away from our norm.
Experience your world differently. Grace and peace … --Pastor Pat
Pastor Pat Norris
Something to Ponder is by Pastor Pat and is printed on the back of the bulletin each week.