Broken in a Storm

Sunflower_Broken

This small sunflower captured my eye weeks after we had a fierce thunderstorm during the summer. I initially thought it was a fluke that decided to bloom way before it reached the height of the others. Then I realized – it had been broken. Somehow it mustered its strength and turned back to the heavens and with all its strength – still blossomed. It made me ponder, that if this plant – of all things – can be restored to enough strength to still bloom in all its glory, then shouldn’t we as humans – in all our wisdom – be able to do the same. Stay focused on the Creator and you will be amazed in His Grace and in doing so, possibly bless another.

Broken in a Storm
By David De Jong

Broken in a storm
Tattered and worn
Strength escaped
Wanting
Death

Broken in a storm
Lifeless forlorn
Hope removed
Emptied
Frail

Broken in a storm
Fractured battered
To the knee
Where Grace
Be

Broken in a storm
Faith in a Light
Out of sight
Lifted
Up

Broken in a storm
Praising His will
Into might
Restored
Free

Broken in a storm
With Hope renewed
Reassured
Seeding
Growth

Broken in a storm
Where scars still show
Faintly neath
Blossomed
Hope

Grandfathered

 

Grandfathered
By David De Jong

Lost dreams and broken promises
Gnaw a heart’s rebound
Until the suckled newborn
Births hope in precious sound

No heart can leave the chorus
Amplified of love
This helpless life so cherished
Small angel from above

Purpose for a weary soul
Such a babe as this
That turns a world of turmoil
Into a cove of bliss

Prayers are given new meaning
Breathed unceasingly
For the days and years ahead
This infant dare to see

May God bless and guard closely
While our time turns to gray
This life that gives us reason
And joy for every day

Kickin’ Potato Salad

Potato Salad_Full

Kickin’ Potato Salad
By David De Jong

Tired of that grocery-store-deli’s sorry excuse for potato salad? This one will have your friends and family coming back for seconds and thirds. Bring this to your 4th of July gathering and kick things up a notch. I have made this recipe several times for gatherings and its always a hit.

Ingredients:

5 Pounds Potatoes, (Yukon Golds work well) Peeled, Boiled, Cooled and Diced
1 Bunch, Green Onions, Sliced
1/2 Large Onion, Diced
1 Jar Mayonnaise (Use the real thing, not that fake stuff, 30 oz jar)
1/3 Cup Mustard
9 Spears, Famous Dave’s Spicy Sweet Pickles
12 – 16 Ounces Bacon, Sliced into 1/4” Bits, Browned and Drained
7 – 9 Hard Boiled Eggs, Cooled, Peeled and Ready to Slice
Pickled Jalapeno Slices (Approx. ½ jar)
3 – 4 Stalks, Celery, Diced
Paprika
3 Cubes, Chicken Bouillon
1/4 – 1/2 Cup, Whole Milk

Potato Salad_ Ingr

Old-Timer Potato Tip: Boil Peeled Potatoes slowly. Start with cold water, just enough to cover them, with the Chicken Bouillon and Milk added to the water. Fast and hard boiling breaks them up and you end up with a lot of mush. Once potatoes are done, drain and let them cool in the fridge for a minimum of 2 – 3 hours, or better still, overnight. I generally do not cut the potatoes before boiling, other than in half if there are large ones mixed in with smaller.

Combine Mayonnaise, Mustard and Spicey Sweet Pickles in a separate bowl until mixed well.

Combine Potatoes, Celery, Bacon and Onion (Save some of the Green Onion Tops for final Garnish. Once these are mixed well, add the Mayo/Mustard/Pickle mixture and mix well but carefully.

Spoon mixture into a deep 9 x 13 Cake Pan (Glass or Ceramic).

Dust the top with Paprika.

Arrange Hard Boiled Egg slices across the top of the salad.

Add a sliced Pickled Jalapeno onto each Egg Slice.

Garnish with Green Onion tops saved earlier.

Refrigerate several hours – overnight is best.

Potato Salad_ ClsUp

Easy Peasy Pandemic Pizza

Pepperoni Sausage Pepper

Easy Peasy Pandemic Pizza

By David De Jong

1 hour to fresh and delicious pizza. Simple yet amazing!

Dough – Ingredients

2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Packet (1/4 oz or 2 1/4 Tsp.) Yeast
1 1/2 Tsp. Sugar
3/4 Tsp. Salt
1/8 – 1/4 Tsp. Garlic Powder
1/8 – 1/4 Tsp. Dry Basil
1/8 – 1/4 Tsp. Dry Oregano
2 Tbsps. Olive Oil
3/4 Cup Warm Water (105℉ – 115℉)

Toppings Base – Ingredients

3/4 – 1 Cup Jarred Pasta Sauce
2 – 3 Cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Build Your Dough

1. Mix 1 Cup of the Flour with all the Dry Ingredients.
2. Add Water and Olive Oil mixing well creating a slurry.
3. Add 2nd Cup of Flour mixing until the dough gathers and a ball begins to
form. It may be necessary to add a pinch of flour or oil.
4. Form a ball, coat with a little olive oil and set aside in a covered bowl to
rise for 30 minutes. Dough should double in size. (This the perfect time to
prep your toppings.)
5. Preheat oven to 425℉.
6. Punch dough to deflate.
7. Knead and roll out to pan size and thickness desired.
8. Slightly coat each side with Olive Oil and transfer to pan.
9. Poke a few/several holes with a table fork in the dough.

Build Your Pizza:

1. Spread 3/4 – 1 Cup Sauce. Make sure to go all the way to the edges
2. Add Shredded Mozzarella, or whatever other Cheese you may like.
3. You are ready to add whatever toppings suites you or just keep it plain
cheese.
4. Bake 15 minutes (+/-) at 425℉. Time will very on oven, toppings, etc.

Variations:

Breakfast Pizza

Leave out Oregano and Basil when you make the dough. Instead of Pizza Sauce place a thin layer of your favorite Jelly and use Cheddar/Jack Cheese instead of Mozzarella. Build a pizza with scrambled eggs, bacon, hash-browns, peppers and onions.

Breakfast

Chicken Alfredo Pizza

Use your favorite Alfredo Sauce and Mozzarella Cheese. Build a delicious pizza with Chicken, Blanched Asparagus and Fresh Mushrooms.

Chicken Alfredo

Dessert Pizza

Keep Spices out of dough recipe.
Peal and slice 3 – 4 apples.
Coat with Brown Sugar and Cinnamon, Stir and let rest in a bowl 10 – 15 minutes.
Use a ridged sheet pan and make sure the crust goes up the ridge. Keeps juices inside.
Spread apple mixture over the dough and bake as normal.
Slice and serve warm with a generous dip of ice cream.

Dessert

Answered

Mt Reflection

Photo Credit: C. Irvin

Answered
By David De Jong

We whined there wasn’t enough time in a day
Barely a second to pause or stop to pray
We asked for space, quiet to ponder our thoughts
Room running low on our mounting list of aughts
Fast food wrappers and duffels for practice
Game on to see, who’d be done the fastest
Separate agendas kept the table clear
Where the only sound, was the ring in your ear
Folks coming and going, like bees to a hive
All quite adamant, running to survive

Then came the stir, obscured in the wind
Panic replaced doubt, that turned the world in
Shelves became bare, homes regrouped their hope
Taking stock in their paper, dried goods and soap
Each one slowed, until some nudged to a stop
Life became precious, every breath and drop
We eyed the old neighbors and wondered if
Emptied the pantry for some flour to sift
Meals round the table, turns at dishes
Now replaced the space of empty wishes

Like an answer to prayer in peculiar way
Life came home after being astray
Time for devotions, stories and hugs
Laughter with tears and a heart full of tugs
Joy in moments once taken for granted
While seeds of hope raise, where e’er they’re planted
Prayers have more reason in their earnest pleas
For loved ones at home and across the seas
That the Lord hears our cries, down on our knees
Hope in a future He already sees

The times have changed as they always will
We never need fear what’s over the hill
Our Maker, Creator stands firm and fast
Though our seas be troubled, He holds the mast
The rudder hearkens His voice and the waves his will
With whispers from heaven; peace be still
My God, my Rock, my Hope, in troubles past
My heart clings to thee as You hold me fast
Grant us your mercy in this time of strife
As we count your blessings in this life

Holiday Drive

Threshing Snow

Holiday Drive
By David De Jong

Snow sifts from the clouds on neighboring hills
While geese glean the barley, contending chills
Ghostly grays wandering o’er fields of gold
Beneath barred skies, their plotted paths of old

Traffic surges unconscious, streaming past
Taillights and head lamps myopic this cast
Fence lines guarded by waste-high sentry stands
Hide this festive feeding upon the land

Grazing their own of faded summer green
Amongst sparrow and starling veiled unseen
Working the earth with a scratch and a pick
Grabbing late grubs or what the cattle flick

Wooly calves with backs against the wind
Watching broken sails unable to spin
Vacant farmstead of broken dreams and panes
Where the last windmill longs its missing vanes

Past the fence, wandering, watching, alone
Ambles a long-legged buck-skin roan
Ears tuned to the distant paint running free
It’s mane sinuous to tranquility

My hair stands on end, chills shiver my core
Absorbing the view while the spirits soar
Dusted hills standing beneath snowcapped peaks
My soul amazed the Creator’s techniques

Treasured Memories

Teton - Aspen Ridge

Treasured Memories
By David De Jong

The sun broke over the roofs of main and warmed the street
While the old man left his mule and shuffled his feet
Tattered shirt and vest, weathered skin and ample beard
He slipped in the door, contemplatin’ what they feared
An outsider, loner, crazy stranger to most
Folks turned to suppress their eyes, this old, mountain ghost

Scents whispered of liniment, lavender and sage
Sonnets to his senses, stirrin’ things lost with age
Young lady glanced up as she swept, the worn oak floor
And took notice this figure, shadowin’ her door
A bit startled, she kept composure and said, hello
The old man felt jittery, instinct wantin’ to go

Instead he carefully took off and held his old velvet hat
He mentioned the barber and asked where he was at
With a grin in her heart she gave a welcome sigh
That’d be my grandpa, she said, with softened eye
He’s been gone some time and I’m still sweeping this shop
As a kid he’d pay me a kiss and a spare lolli-pop

Now this old space is mine, but I still sense him here
There’s his tools and clippers and small foggy mirror
The old timer saw the cherry case, lined in felt
Single-edge razor, scissors and polished strop belt
The last time I remember I came to this place
Your grandpa used those; to cut my hair, shave my face

She felt a tinge up her neck and stepped up closer
Grandpa spoke of a friend, a man he called, Moser
He helped him lay every plank, on this old floor
Cut and fit by hand, true craftsman, fit for the chore
The old man couldn’t contain his smile and lifted his head
Yes mam, and he paid me; with trims and fresh baked bread

Now her chills spread to her arms, eyeing grandpa’s pole
Offered a haircut-n-shave to this lonely old soul
Sorry miss, I’m a tad bit weathered and dusty
Don’t fret, she said, I used to shave Grandpa Rusty
She sat him at the sink to comb and clean his hair
As he leaned back nervous, in the old barber’s chair

She hummed an old hymn while she gently touched his face
But stopped when she saw a tear break and Moser brace
She apologized, fearing she had caused some pain
He smiled and sighed then said; No, please let me explain
I lost my wife, in the winter of fifty-one
Forgot how a woman’s touch, felt like autumn sun

I haven’t come ‘round since she and the child passed
And figure with my age, this time would be my last
We were married neath your grandpa’s giant oak tree
It was the preacher, your grandparents, Emma and me
We came from the plains in the rush of forty-nine
Staked a claim to a small spread with an empty mine

Planted some grain and small orchard on the south slope
Tethered an old cow-n-calf on a good long rope
We were happy, healthy, lovin’, livin’ a dream
Workin’ the land, buildin’ our future, so it seemed
Emma was expectin’ our first, we couldn’t wait
Then winter came too early and the birth was late

Snow covered Bitter Pass; the doc, couldn’t get through
We were trapped, there was nothin’, nothin’ I could do
They both rest under the aspens up on the ridge
Just past the orchard and the Red-Rock rapid bridge
My wish was to join them, but that day never came
My plans and the Lord’s just never come out the same

The young gal was tearing now and edging up the blade
As natural as grandpa when he taught her the trade
Her mind flowed in nostalgia, stroking the strop belt
Taking to childhood, with every roll she felt
She could hear his voice guiding in his loving tone
So many things of life he had taught her to hone

The whiskers and skin gave that familiar reply
While the tears slid down her cheek and caught Moser’s eye
He felt love again and a peace beyond compare
Somehow this moment was an answer to his prayer
She finished the shave with a hot mop and a smile
The old man just sat, pondered his life for a while

She took him to the back and opened an old trunk
The rags he was wearing had a faint smell of skunk
These are some of grandpa’s, as she pulled out a kit
You seem about the same size; I expect they’d fit
She walked him to the curtain where he could get dressed
While he put on the new clothes, she packed up the rest

He came out and neither one could believe the sight
A rather handsome old gent, stepped into the light
He said I’d like to repay your kind, loving heart
But I need your help and I’ll tell you, where to start
Go to the back corner and count each floor-board joint
Follow the wall until seven, stop at that point

Then come across due east and count to thirty-one
That’s the day we married in the shade of the sun
The old man knelt at the spot and pried up the board
Then grasped the knot end of a taught hanging cord
At the end, was a small sash, of wrapped up stones
When he gave it to her, she got chilled to the bones.

I hid this here, when I laid the floor, years ago
That old empty mine, had bits scattered, to and fro
Folks always snooped, so I got to chasin’ them away
Figured your grandpa would find it, fixin’ some day
So now its yours it’d be of no use to me
Just see that when I’m gone, I rest, in that ridge of trees

I’m forever thankful, your kindness just the same
And now feel embarrassed, I never asked your name
I was named for my momma, born in fifty-nine
Emma-Jean, but then just Emma, took on a shine
They both got teary, smiled and gathered up their wits
Knowing each entertained an angel in their midst

Reflections of the Tree

Jenny Lake 2019

Jenny Lake, Grand Teton National Park

Reflections of the Tree
By David De Jong

I never met a tree that could not be liked;
Whether feathered in leaves or needled and spiked.
A scraggly blue shrub of painted prairie sage;
Or stately sequoias, giants, veiling age.
Soft-hearted cores, protected by thorn and spine;
To souls of iron, obscured, in supple rind.

Welcome recluse, to a parched and weary glance;
Sprigs of spring, announcing winters lost romance.
Promises kept with the covenant of time;
Erasing worries seared in the blizzard’s chime.
Easter’s calling to come forth from the earth;
And nature resounding, reclaiming, rebirth.

While joys are counted along meadow and glade;
The forest gives summer, a vast serenade.
Cascades of an emerald, macraméd sea;
Filling cleft and plain and all mountain with tree.
The air is refreshed and replenished with life;
Our breaths become easy and sheds confined strife.

Hearts fill with thanksgiving, as the harvest calls;
Leaves clamber the breeze, while the temperature falls.
Aspens’ hues of gold, hidden treasures lifted;
Stirred among willows, with no color sifted.
Red oak, maple and ash contrast chilling air.
Wash mem’ries of summer with glorious flare.

Though cloaks are shed, baring scars of storms and grief;
Their branches become swords, to the wind’s disbelief.
Winter’s snow succumbs resistance, offers peace;
Allowing scenes of enchantment, in frozen fleece.
Where brushwood turns to crystal from fog and rain;
So the faint can rejoice, at the face of pain.

The face of pain found in the heart of a tree;
Its purpose foretold, its Master, one of three.
Shadowed sky, scorned from birth, given sacrifice;
None, but one, was purely perfect to suffice.
Fallen, then hewn, to arms width and human length;
Where my Savior vanquished hell for heavens strength.

Seasons of reasons reflected modestly.
Sound reasons for the seasons, honored in tree.

Missing You

IMG_4692

Photo Credit: Lindsey Tonak

Missing You
By David De Jong

I miss the thunder of a rolling surf, sweeping the coast
Hidden tide pool’s reflections of tiny aquatic ghost
A Mystic fog enveloping our world, to arm length’s view
The haunted peal of bell and horn, warning ships cutting through
I would still rather miss all of these, than be missing you

I miss the strength of my hands and arms, their sturdy support
Swift running legs ample to carry me miles, just for sport
Keen eyes and wit, with a memory able to hold true
Days of old when everything seemed easy, simple to do
I would still rather miss all of these, than be missing you

I miss the wide-open fields, rolling hills of tall green grass
Serenade of the creek and its quaint pools of hidden glass
Calls from the coyote, laughing at midnight, shadowed from view
Restless leaves mingle, while the whitetail rubs and passes through
I would still rather miss all of these, than be missing you

I miss the times of old when we were young and carefree
When we would stay up all night and get steak and eggs at three
Our road trips across the states with three little girls as crew
How we would drive all night so the tiny ones could sleep through
I would still rather miss all of these, than be missing you

My heart holds grateful these memoirs of celebrated life
Thanking the Lord Above for our years as husband and wife

(39 years and going strong!)

 

Small Crosses and Big Hearts

Gnome Church

Small Crosses and Big Hearts
By David De Jong

While the evenings sway cool, quite pleasing
Tiny hammers and saws keep teasing
Until early on this Sunday morn
When eyes gazed in glee at what was born

A charming church with welcoming lanes
Old hand-hewn pine doors and stained-glass panes
Quaintly sized with extra room to spare
Ample space so visitors could share

The door was open, most of the day
Inviting passers, come in and stay
While tools where quiet, enjoying rest
Workers gave thanks, in their Sunday’s best

They talked of more building, future plans
Old wood from the barn and willing hands
Making use of whatever they find
Lumber and stone someone left behind

Their joy shows well, in their craftmanship
A quite thrifty lot, I must admit
Curious to see what they build next
I hope they don’t mind; I keep abreast

Fun to know these small, busy people
Sharing God’s love, beneath the steeple
For now, I’ll just wait, enjoy the view
A little too large to fit their pew

Whether you’re big or small, short or tall
God shares His true love, for one and all
So, find a church that seems to fit you best
Just make sure it’s based on His Holy text