Step by Step by Faith


The three oldest grandkids on Halloween Day - 2015

Our family would covet your prayers today for that sweet little blondie granddaughter in the middle of the picture. The last couple weeks have been difficult ones, as we puzzled over her diminishing motor skills, constant tripping and falling, difficulty chewing, poor grip, and other troubling symptoms for a 3-year old. Last week, an MRI told the story...she has an arteriovenous fistula, or a connection of an artery and a vein in her brain (resting on her brain stem) and the ballooning pressure of the vein is putting pressure on her brain and causing her neurological problems. We are praising God for clarity in the diagnosis so that leaving the problem alone was not an option, because it will rupture at some point...with fatal results.

Today, she is going in for an angiogram and (hopefully!) an embolization (disconnecting and tying off the connection of the artery and the vein) in her brain. 

’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
And to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”
  • Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
    How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er;
    Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
    Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

"Oh, for grace to trust Him more!" has been the constant refrain of my heart since the diagnosis came. The procedure is a delicate one and not without risks.  But the all too real, all too much to dwell on possibility is that the Lord, in His infinite wisdom and absolute Sovereignty, will take her home to heaven. Could we then say, with Christian resignation and fortitude, as our Puritan forefathers, "It pleased the Lord to take her..."? Could we say that without bitterness or a grief that threatens to swallow our very souls? 

We are praising God for the faithful ministers who have preached the full counsel of God to us, so that the strength we draw from His Word has kept us from being overwhelmed. His Spirit has ministered to our hearts and minds, and for that trust and strength we are grateful and give Him all the glory!

 "God, the great Creator of all things, doth uphold, direct dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least, by his most wise and holy providence, according to his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his own will, to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy."
-Westminster Confession, Chpt. 5:I

We know that He directs all things for His glory. Things too incomprehensible for our puny minds to understand. And we rest in His omnipotence and His matter what the outcome. 

We are encouraged that her doctor is "the best in the nation" and possibly the world at this sort of surgery! We are encouraged that he is optimistic for a good outcome! We praise God that He moved us all the way across the country seven years ago, so that some day, this little girl would need this very doctor and she would live an hour from the hospital where he practices! Oh, praises be to God for His Providence in all things! And yet, we are reminded...

 My hope is built on nothing less 

than Jesus' blood and righteousness. 
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, 
but wholly lean on Jesus' name. 

On Christ the solid rock I stand, 
all other ground is sinking sand; 
all other ground is sinking sand. 

We would be blessed if you join us in praying for her today, and in saying with our family,

"This is the day the Lord has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it."
-Ps. 118:24

Sola deo gloria!

Sabbath Rest

Come, ye thankful people, come,
Raise the song of harvest home!
All is safely gathered in,
Ere the winter storms begin;
God, our Maker, doth provide
For our wants to be supplied;
Come to God's own temple, come;
Raise the song of harvest home!

- Henry Alford (1844)

Simple New England Autumn

Seen in Walpole, NH.

One of the delights of living in New England in the autumn is seeing the joy that everyone has in the season. And this joy finds expression in their homes. Nearly every door and doorstep boasts a portly pumpkin, a simple gathering of Indian corn, a shock of cornstalks, a spray of wheat. This little corner of the world is celebrating the harvest time to its fullest!

Bomber Hats for Winter

Winter will be here before you know it! It's a joy to me to see children who are properly bundled up against the elements...a sign of love, really. So, I also get joy from making warm hats...for my own grandkids and for my shop!

My sewing room has been a veritable bomber hat factory for the last few days! And now there are 16 of them in the shop...eight of each type. All made from American- or British-made wool. All lined with soft fleece and accented with sherpa suede. 

Click here for this one:

And click here for this one:

Homemade Applesauce Tips

Homemade applesauce is one of those simple delights of the autumn season. And it really couldn't be easier to make. My biggest tip for the best tasting applesauce is: use a variety of apples...some sweet, some juicy, some tart.

Then follow these easy steps:

- Peel, core, and chop apples.

- Put in a saucepan with a little water; bring to a boil; lower heat and simmer until apples are soft.

- Mash with a potato masher.

- Add brown sugar and cinnamon to taste.


Pumpkin Patch Time

Monday night was pumpkin patch time with my little punkins...all four of the world's cutest grandkids!

It's this little one's first autumn, and he's looking mighty cute!

Rainy Autumn Baking Day

Rain, rain, and more rain fell on New England last night and intermittently throughout the day today. The sky was full of swirling leaves falling like so many enormous, golden snowflakes. I always love the sparkle of the raindrops on the windows and the hazy image of the vibrant leaves beyond.

It seemed like a perfect day for baking! 

Lately, our family has been enjoying some homemade biscotti in a variety of flavors. My personal favorite is almond biscotti. Click here for the link to the recipe I've been using. It's a keeper! The guys like it dipped in their coffee. And Colette and I like to dip it in hot cocoa.

Wattle Fence Stored for the Winter

This summer, Colette spent many, many hours making wattle fencing for around each of our garden beds. We loved the definition it gave the garden and the charm it added.

But lurking in the back of my mind was the coming winter. The fencing would have to be removed. The thought of all that work being undone was a bit heartbreaking. But Saturday was the day set aside to put the garden to bed for the winter, and the time had come.

The upright stakes pulled out of the ground easily and were stored in bushel baskets.

The branches were separated between the long ones (that ran to the corners of the garden) and the short ones, and bundled and tied and stored in the shed for the winter.

We're happy that the branches can be used again. And we're even mulling over the idea of using the long branches upright in the front porch urns with Christmas lights entwined come December.

Autumn Gatherings

The weather has been so lovely of late that I try to take a walk nearly every day. Cool crisp air making it necessary for just a lightweight jacket, but allowing for brisk walking without working up a sweat. The roadsides are thick with fallen leaves, windfall apples, and the occasional acorn neglected by the local squirrels. This pretty bouquet of leaves, all contained on a single stem, was scooped up just before I returned home...a little momento of another autumn walk.

Sabbath Rest

"When Satan tempts me to despair
and tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died
my sinful soul is counted free,
For God the just is satisfied
to look on Him and pardon me."

- William B. Bradbury (1859)

The Withered Garden

The garden, which was simply fabulous in its production this year, is done. One recent evening, with overnight temperatures below freezing, all the leaves died, hanging brown and forlorn come dawn. And last night was another one of those exceptionally cold autumn nights. As I let the dog out this morning, and stood shivering in the open doorway, I couldn't help but think there's a bit of beauty left in the garden with the early morning light adding a transparency to the thin leaves.

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;"
- Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

But herbs are born of heartier stock, for the parsley, chives, and sage live on, despite being covered in frost this morn.

Hudson's Golden Gem

I like to try out new (to me) heirloom apples from local orchards. We're so accustomed to having a choice of maybe eight different apple varieties at our local supermarkets. But in past centuries, there were thousands of varieties from which to choose. I have the greatest admiration for the orchardists who nurture and propagate these rare apples for their preservation for future generations.

This autumn, I discovered one with which I'm completely smitten! It's called Hudson's Golden Gem.

It's skin is not tough, but is slightly textured. It's quite round in shape. It's nice and crisp. And best of all, it tastes like a cross between an apple and a pear! My apple reference book even says that in a blind taste test, it can be mistaken for a pear. It's good for: eating, pie, and cider.

Ask around and see if one of your local orchards grow Hudson's Golden Gem. If you live in New Hampshire, you can find them at Poverty Lane Orchards in Lebanon, Alyson's Orchard in Walpole, and Gould Hill Orchard in Contoocook...and probably more, but at least those orchards. Happy apple picking!

A Chill Autumn Day in Boston

On the last day that our friend from The Merry Hearth was with us, we drove into Boston to do a whirlwind tour of some of our favorite sites. After parking beneath Boston Common (did you know there's a parking lot under all that grass?), we caught the subway to the North End. 

We didn't want to walk all of the Freedom Trail, Boston's famous trail that winds through the city's most historic places, but just hit a few of the highlights. Walking shoes on. Ready to go!

There we visited the Old North Church, from whose belfry the lanterns hung the night of Paul Revere's famous ride.

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere.
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,--
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."

The North End of Boston is where the Irish settled during their great wave of immigration to the United States. And eventually, they were displaced there by the Italians, who still occupy it in a most delicious way...the aroma of garlic, Italian restaurants and grocers, gelato places, and a bustling conviviality pervades all. Mike's Pastry is one of those delicious places, where, I must confess, we had desert before lunch...Mike's famous cannolis.

Then we continued following the Freedom Trail (in reverse) through many streets, crowds of Saturday visitors, and traffic back to our starting place and beyond to the quiet, quaint streets of Beacon Hill. We took our time admiring the classic architecture of this sanctuary in the bustling city.

We had a late lunch at Figs in Beacon Hill. Then, with the sunshine slanting low across the city, we strolled through the Public Garden, saying "hi" to the Make Way for Ducklings statues.

We popped in a coffeehouse on Newbury Street and a couple of shops, including the Ralph Lauren store.

The girls paused for a picture at Trinity Church in Copley Square.

This is my favorite picture of the day. There's something really charming about a queue for chocolate...especially when it's out the door!

We had such a wonderful time with our friend, and hope she comes back soon! Be sure to check out the blog she keeps with her sister by clicking here!
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