Tuesday, July 29, 2014

I'm not flunkin' the Dunkin' test...

For 5 months, I've passed the sign, about 1/2 mile from the area where I live. 


Now it's almost ready to open.

I have a long standing love (craving, weakness...) for Dunkin' Donuts. Krispy Kremes were never a big temptation, they just didn't taste the same.

But THIS is a serious test, one that will be a daily red flag as I drive by. I wish it were not that way, but I know it will be. Certain foods just draw you in, so here is my plan...

I'm not going there. 

If I never park my car in front, or drive through their drive through... I will not eat donuts!

The reason this is important is because I am not one of those who casually orders a donut and goes on her way.

I am not a one donut Dunkin' Donut girl. 

If I only had one, I would be thinking of the one I ate and the one I didn't eat, until I went back and got the other one, and you just can't do that every day as you pass the place. Some of you would be fine with just doing it once in awhile, not me.

So... if I never have a Dunkin' Donut (and for about 35 years I've managed not to), then I will be fine. That's my plan.. to just keep driving.

(Of course, if I ever DID stop and have one, it would be either Bavarian Creme filling, Lemon or raspberry filling or even just the plain old cake donut, but for sure, one of each.)

I know there is a spiritual lesson here...

There are certain things, certain areas of life, that for us, are better left alone. We know what they are. They may not be sinful in and of themselves, but it may be risky territory for me.

Sometimes The Message says things in a way that makes me laugh out loud...

Proverbs 23 
Restrain Yourself ] [ 6 ] ... Don’t gobble your food, don’t talk with your mouth full. And don’t stuff yourself; bridle your appetite. ...

Rather than gobble and stuff, I intend to bridle. 

That's my plan and I'm stickin' to it!

(Dedicated to my family, who knows this about me, but loves me anyway! :) )

Friday, July 25, 2014


This photo and scripture doesn't need a further sermon from me. 

It's at the very core of the gospel. It's what makes ALL the difference. 

God... loved me enough to create me... then to give his life for me. 

The knowledge of this truth is what sets us free... At my darkest, my greatest need was to know that he loved me. It still is. If he loved me then, he will love me always.

He did... and he does!

How about THAT truth to begin this new day?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Welcome to my castle...

No... really!

This is the castle in Germany that remains in my father's family name... Gossweinstein. My maiden name was Gesswein, the spelling was altered down through they years

My dad's ancestors lived here and reigned here. Had the tradition continued, the oldest son of the family, my father, would have become the king. 

I would be a princess!

I wrote about Norway last year on this adventure, where my mother was born. Dad was born in the U.S., but this castle remains today in the Black Forest area of Germany. It is partially open to tourists.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Christmas in July... in Norway!

Please join my friend Anita, here... as her viewers share their European adventures, in person... or in their dreams. Mine have included both. 

Take a little break from the summer heat and enjoy... Christmas in Norway. I am sharing a blog from a few years ago...

Tromso, Norway...

Way up in the cold frozen northern part of Norway, beyond the arctic circle, is where my Christmas traditions began, in the childhood home of my mother.

In her words, as she shared this story with women's conferences and church groups all through her life, and as I read them tonight on these now fragile sheets from her journal...

"Let me invite you to take a trip with me to the land of the midnight sun, to my country, Norway. We will fly over the top of the north pole, but you won't see much there, only snow and frozen land, and finally, after landing in the capitol city of Oslo, we board a small plane and fly much farther north to Tromso. Now I invite you into our large old home to share Christmas with us...

My father was the mayor of the town, and there were 7 of us children, and a constant flow of guests coming and going. Christmas came like a bright light every December, and we children were filled with expectation and excitement and we all pitched in to help shine the copper pieces that hung on the walls, and bake the never ending sheets of cookies that went in and out of the oven. All month the cookie baking continued and they began to fill the jars and tins, which were stored up in the attic.

For days, leading up to Christmas Eve, friends and neighbors would drop in and visit each other in their homes, bringing their cookies and baked goodies, and their children. They would sing Christmas carols together and no one seemed to be in a hurry.

We celebrated each day as 'tiny Christmas', until Christmas Eve finally arrived and all the planning and baking and cooking was almost finished. All the children were scrubbed in a hot steam bath in town, and our braids froze on the way home. The shoes were lined up to be polished, the goose was filled with apples and prunes and ready to bake, and the last excited secrets were whispered between us as we wondered with expectation what would be in the boxes. The gifts and the Christmas tree were decorated and kept in the large parlour where NO ONE was allowed to go until Christmas!

I remember as a child hiding up in the attic about 3 or 4 in the afternoon and listenting to the church bells ringing in Christmas. I hadn't yet come to know Him, whose birth I was about to celebrate, but I stood by the window, looking out at the blinking lights and boats in the harbor, and I knew that God had sent Jesus to be born at Christmas, and I worshipped in a child's way, Him who I didn't yet know.

And then suddenly, the bells started from one church, then from another, and soon together they joyously chimed all over the city as they rang in the news 'Unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord"...

Now me...

When I visited Norway more than a year ago, we had to fly that same route from Oslo far to the north, into Tromso... There, on the main street of this most picturesque and beautiful city, was my mother's family dry goods store. When we were there, we saw the building, it has been modernized, and like many things that have changed, the new isn't nearly as wonderful as the original! (This photo isn't the store, but looks like it...)

In northern Norway, during the winter months, it was not only cold and piled high with snow everywhere, it was also dark. One of the most cherished memories she shared were the lights, all around Tromso, in homes, in the windows, in the stores and on street lanterns, tiny dots of light made the whole scene like a dream. Candles and lights were always part of our growing up Christmases in California, and I still love them.

Side note on the attic in her home... During the winter, they hung their washed sheets in the attic to dry and they were as stiff as boards from the cold frozen temperatures. My mother did confess to playing among those sheets and if I know her... there was probably some peeking and snooping along the way as Christmas came closer!

At her dad's store in town, each window was decorated with a different Christmas scene. She said they covered all the windows with brown paper while they got busy and created a picture for the people of the town. When the windows were unveiled, people came from all around excited to see what this year would bring. Each family had candles which they lit as they viewed the now gleaming window scenes. One window depicted a cozy warm home with a fireplace with a Christmas tree and candles glowing everywhere, one might be a candy store scene or a church choir... it was magical to the children to be part of such a tradition.

Then Christmas Eve finally arrived...

The whole family bundled up and headed out into the snow to their large 'state church', for the Christmas Eve service where by candlelight they joined together singing Silent Night and heard the familiar scriptures read. Finally they all headed back home for the feast ahead and 'the gifts'...

As the final preparations were put together and the goose was browning for the last few minutes, my mother would take a quick walk through the empty snow piled streets with her father, and pass by the lovely homes where they could often watch through the windows at the people singing and walking around their Christmas trees, hands joined, in a circle, babies to grandparents.

After the feast had been devoured, her father read the Christmas story one more time from Luke, and prayed with the family. Then they all shook hands, wishing each other a Merry Christmas, she said their was a lot of handshaking with 7 kids and all the relatives. Then they each sat in one place until every gift tag was read by her father and distributed, before anyone could open a gift. And then, the papers and ribbons flew!

I can't sing or hear Silent Night, without thinking of Norway. It's a funny thing, but I have tears in my eyes, good tears, as I write this and remember Christmas in Norway, even though I was never there in December. The memories and stories and the twinkle in my mother's eyes as she shared her December dreams of long ago, are as real to me as if I had been there myself. When she met and married my dad, and followed him to America to begin life as a preacher's wife, all that was familiar and dear to her was left behind in her beloved country, but she instilled it in each of her 3 children with great joy. She kept her traditions going in our home as I grew up.

I am keeping that love for Norway alive in my heart and in our home...