Distress

A Grand Hike in the Woods

May the LORD answer you when you are in distress; Psalm 20:1a

There are times in our life when we feel all alone, carrying this burden that no one else sees or cares about. In reality, we are not alone but watched with a loving heart even when we don’t physically see it. We may see small hints in the peripheral or in a shadow that something much bigger is part of this story. We may never know or find out the “why” until that day we step into eternity. There, with tears in our eyes, in a warm embrace, it’ll come to us. Keep the faith. His eye is on the sparrow, and you (we) are much more valued than any sparrow.

Distress

We’ve all served a time desperate for help
From a friend, a stranger, or God Himself
Wretched in pain, disease, or broken dreams
Grief tearing our core from its inner seams

Memories pass for tears in a salty wash
Bleeding from a soul drowning in thoughts
Some of circumstance of choices once made
Forgotten, left behind, ill-gotten trade

Some brought by nothing of choice or of life
Symptoms arrived from unwarranted strife
Not earned or boughten or placed on account
An error of surmounting unfair amount

Falling to our knees unable to stand
Knocked off composure by an unseen hand
Balled in a knot of weak trembling boughs
In unconscious chorus of woes and no’s

This was David when he lost his son
Or in hiding from jealous spears flung
While holding to a promise heard in part
He was God’s chosen, a man of His heart

The Psalms he wrote still comfort us today
Or give us words when unable to pray
Had his life been easy, affliction free
There’d be no Psalms to comfort you or me

Twenty-Twenty-Three

Small steps forward for the new year. Have faith – the faith of a child.

Belated happy new year and welcome back to what may be considered a “rebranding”. It has been some time since I myself showed up at this doorstep and I must admit, there is a part of me that dearly misses it. I enjoy the pondering, the writing, the internet friends made, and the encouragement received.

I have no excuse for not showing up other than; life, I was busy, I spent 9-10 hours staring at a screen at work, I don’t know what to write, etc., etc. None of them acceptable yet uttered in my defense, I hope to do better.

Last year (2022) I got stirred by a co-worker’s social media post of the 35 books they had read, or listened to, in 2021. It intrigued me and quite frankly, it blew my mind – even though our oldest grandson (in his teen years) finds it difficult to find a book in the city library he has not read. How do they find the time? I learned just like everything else; you don’t find the time, you make it.

I pondered:

Could I equal that feat?

Could I surpass it?

What would it take to say, read one book a week, Fifty-two books, before the end of the year? We were already a couple weeks into 2022. Could I, a mind wondering, slow reader, actually read fifty-two books in 2022? I usually struggle to get through one.

Then I started to consider what the benefits might be.

A new silent challenge.

A worthy goal.

This might be what my head needs to kick it in gear for 2023. Maybe if I saturate my brain in books for a year it would be like a jump-start to that old battery in the parking lot and put some energy into writing next year. Everything I have read about writing says, to write more – read more.

Just to set the record (and brag a bit) by mid-December 2022, I had read a total of 60 (yes 6-0) books and loved nearly every one of them. I read more books last year than I had in most of my life collectively. Some might say; ya, it shows. My goal was 52, two weeks of COVID gave me the bonus of eight for extra credit.

What does all of that have to do with 2023 and this “re-branding”? Well, I’m not 100% sure yet. I’m hoping you’ll stick with me through this and maybe find something to it. For some reason, intervention, call it what you may, I started pondering on Psalm 20 and Psalm 23 as a theme for 2023 around the holidays. Pretty original right? These are a couple of my favorite Psalms for personal reasons and maybe I’ll write about some of that. Psalm 20 is a battle prayer. If ever there was a spiritual and physical battle going on in this world, today is that day. Psalm 23 is one of the most famous chapters in the Bible and yet there is a lot of it that we don’t really understand in today’s perspective, but it still gives us hope and comfort as a shepherd does. Maybe I’ll add some poetry and give you a story, a memory, a reason for that piece, or go back to an old post and give a little behind the scenes there. Where did it come from? What was in my heart. Sometimes it’s obvious, but other times you as a reader have no idea what those lines were really about. I do – some bring tears yet today when I go back to read them.  

So, thankfully and prayerfully – Welcome back. Welcome to Twenty-Twenty-Three. I hope you come back and share in this endeavor.

Psalm 20

(A prayer for victory in battle.)

  1. May the LORD answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
  2. May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion.
  3. May he remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings.
  4. May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.
  5. We will shout for joy when you are victorious and will lift our banners in the name of our God. May the LORD grant all your requests.
  6. Now I know that the LORD saves the anointed; he answers him from his holy heaven with the saving power of his right hand.
  7. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God,
  8. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.
  9. O LORD, save the king! Answer us when we call!

Psalm 23

(God seen as a caring shepherd and a dependable guide.)

  1. The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
  2. He makes me to lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
  3. he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
  4. Even though I walk in the valley of the shadows of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
  5. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies, You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
  6. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Awakened Peace

Queen Mary_2

Photo Credit: N. de Jong

Awakened Peace

By David De Jong

While endless reels of memories play

An old, rustled mind kneels to pray

Whispering words to heaven above

Wondering the merit this gracious love

Blessings a man never could describe

Left to melody its soul provides

More valid in quaint interpretation

Than all the words of imagination

Flow of bow-n-string or solemn wind

Tarry aloft an endearing friend

As notes give scent to history

The mind steeps its savored memory

Priceless treasures born of love now grown

Tend and nurture rare gems their own

Hearts of light to shine beyond the night

Much to an aging father’s delight

If my heart could not see this melody

I fear it cursed in its own tragedy

How dare I deserve this symphony

What was my contributory

Twas not that my life was free of sin

No, I dare not speak of thoughts within

Or numbered times my path so far strayed

Of hearts cleft asunder, of love betrayed

There is no reason, other than Grace

That my heart, my soul, my life, find place

In measures of chorus this earthly lease

For when I look forward, I find peace

Prompted quietly by a tender heart

How our ancestor’s faith gave ours its start

The passages they read, their stalwart accord

Assuring us of a Faithful Lord

While I reminisce this moment in bliss

A tear of joy presents its gentle kiss

As my heart is filled with quiet rejoice

Sacred Psalms once again renew their voice

Finds

Signal Mt 06-2019

Finds
By David De Jong

Wooly black calves prancin’ in golden stubble
Shifts a mind to grin and pass on its trouble
Carefree young yearlin’s full of shine and spry
With nary a woe and pleasin’ to the eye

Scattered snow geese wait their turn takin’ flight
Rested, fed and nourished on a high plain night
They hold no bags nor reservations in tow
Trustin’ in a path hidden to us below

Natures knack of tellin’ time and findin’ place
Could stand a learnin’ by our human race
We chatter and banter beggin’ for a sign
Yet when shown we declare, Lord it ain’t mine

Dance in the wind and face the rain
Give grace to the past, break the chain
Find a peace that’s stronger than any pain
Find a love that’s deeper than any gain

Snow covered summits emerge hidden for weeks
Rays of light burstin’ deflected off the peaks
A chance moment at sunrise or so it seems
Castin’ burdens aside for a glance at dreams

Skies cleared blue again of their frazzle and smoke
As azure stirred once more and winter woke
We mourn the pass of summer while holdin’ fall
Contemplatin’ meanin’, the sense of it all

Like calves of green pasture or birds takin’ wing
Seasons ne’er take time to pause yet live to sing
As the soul that toils yet can live at ease
For it knows its Maker whom it lives to please

Dance in the wind and face the rain
Give grace to the past, break the chain
Find a peace that’s stronger than any pain
Find a love that’s deeper than any gain

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