Let’s Bake an Apple Cake

Apples
Three varieties of apples: Zestar, Sawa, and Crabapple

When a grandchild asks, who can refuse? I cannot find it in myself to deny any good thing my grandson asks of me. This is true when we are talking about matters of faith in Christ, when we are “searching up” information about how things work, or when we are putting our creative juices to work in the kitchen. 

I love it when my (not so) little sidekick asks if we can join forces to cook or bake one of his favorite dishes. Here is the recipe for an Apple Cake he requested – multiple times.

Apple Cake Ingredients and Recipe

For the cake

3 cups all-purpose flour

3 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick), softened

½ cup applesauce

¼ cup vegetable oil

2 cups sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

3 large apples, peeled and cut into ½ inch chunks

For the topping

1 tsp cinnamon

1 Tbsp turbinado sugar (such as Sugar in the Raw)

For the icing

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

5 tsp milk

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10-inch tube pan, dist with flour. Set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together flour, 3 tsp cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In an electric mixer, cream together butter, oil, applesauce, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy (about 2 min). Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Working in two batches, add dry ingredients into butter mixture. Fold in apples.

Spoon batter into the prepared pan and smooth out the top. Combine 1 tsp cinnamon and turbinado sugar. Sprinkle over top of batter.

Bake until top is golden and a tester inserted in cake comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 min.

Allow cake to cool in pan for 15 min before transferring to a plate right side up. Allow to cool completely. Whisk confectioner’s sugar and milk together in a bowl to make icing. Drizzle over cake. Serves 16.

Do you have a favorite recipe using apples? Share it at barbhowe.org.

Endless Summer

Northern Pines beach

Some of life’s best experiences are eternally engraved into our consciousness. Summer days spent lakeside come to mind. Nothing quite compares to the chattering sounds of kids playing at a beach or splashing in the water.

This year, my husband and I took one of those “first” kind of vacations with our grandson at a Christian camp in central Wisconsin: Northern Pines. Their advertisements promoting the week long experience as a “vacation with a purpose” was spot on.

Following breakfast, morning programs had children age 0-8 attending Vacation Bible Study activities with others in their age categories while parents and grandparents attended their own studies. Families regrouped for lunch, afternoon free time, and dinner. All meals were included, eliminating any need to cook – or clean up. (That kicked the experience up a notch or two, possibly 10.)

Youth and teens participated in separate programs at adjoining sites with special times to spend with their families. During the evenings, Child Care Assistants, a.k.a. CCAs, cared for their assigned children while the adults attended worship and study time. (Whoever came up with this system had heavenly inspiration.)

Midway through the week I found myself sitting in the dining hall marveling at the way families interacted with old and new friends. It brought home the reality that heaven is not about floating around on clouds playing harps. Heaven is described in Revelation 21 as a place of fellowship for those who put their trust in Jesus. Now that is one endless experience I look forward to having.

Share your thoughts about heaven at barbhowe.org.

Integrity Speaks

One-way street
Photo by Andres Urena on Unsplash

“Whoever walks in integrity walks securely,” (Proverbs 10:9).

One of my early “Dad” memories is from a time we were returning home from an ice cream parlor. Quite by mistake, he drove the wrong way down a side street that had recently been designated one-way in the opposite direction we were traveling. Realizing his error, Dad attempted to turn off at the first intersection. However, a police officer who was parked beyond the intersection saw Dad.

I vividly remember sitting in the car and listening as Dad calmly explained the reason for his error. He received no sympathy. The officer issue a ticket that Dad respectfully accepted and paid without grumbling. 

A person’s true character is revealed when they do not get the answer they want. It has been more than 60 years since that event and nearly 40 years since Dad’s passing. Still, my memories of Dad are filled with examples that showed he was a man of integrity and honorable character.

Most of what children learn from adults comes not by the words they hear but by the actions they see. Kids have a way of knowing when these two things are incompatible. Integrity, or the lack of it, is especially notable when we choose to do what is right in the eyes of God instead of doing what “I want” to achieve a short-term personal gain.

How would you measure up? The question should give you pause. A large part of the spiritual legacy you leave to your grandchildren will be evidenced by the integrity you display on a daily basis. Jesus demonstrated how to do what is right under all circumstances. And, He promised to help us stay strong when temptation hits us in the face. Ultimately, your reputation for doing what is right will show your children’s children the right way to live. And that is more valuable than gold.

Share your thoughts at: SpiritualLegacyMemoir.com.

Take a Little Trip

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Photo by Deanna Ritchie

Many of my friends have shared stories of vacations they took with a grandchild, one-on-one excursions to destinations of shared interest. I’m looking forward to the time when my grandson and I can do that. I’m even starting to consider options; the Grand Canyon, Yosemite National Park, and London, England are some of my preferences.

Right now, his vacation dreams lean in the direction of adventure parks and fast action entertainment. Hopefully, his ideas and mine will fall more closely in line by the time we are ready to travel together.

Travels such as these allow sufficient time away from daily life to bond more deeply with a grandchild. There is something spiritual about stepping aside to engage with the heart of another person. Changing the scenery and schedule also affords a natural setting to share innermost ideas, thoughts, and feelings.

Of course, it may not be necessary to leave home at all. Grandparents who don’t live near their grandchildren are stepping out of the routine simply by welcoming them to come for a visit. I know a few grandmothers who periodically arrange visits with out-of-state grandchildren. Sometimes their visits are a springboard to travel with one grandchild at a time to places of shared interest.   

For me, the most important incentive for spending time alone with my grandson is to speak intentionally about my faith. If there is only one memory about me that he can carry throughout life, I hope it is that I was a devoted follower of Christ. If you knew your grandchild could only carry one memory of you through life, what would you want that memory to be? I encourage you to share that word with them.

Share your grandparent-grandchild vacation ideas at: SpiritualLegacyMemoir.com.

Marriage Prep

Preparing Children for MarriageWhen was the last time you had a meaningful conversation with your grandchild about marriage? Perhaps I should rephrase that to ask if you have ever talked with your grandchild about what it means to be married in the context of God’s plan? My grandson first brought up the topic when he was around the 4-year-old mark. That was my early warning to prepare for a lot of questions in the future.

These days, I’m gleaning significant insights from the book, Preparing Children for Marriage, by Josh Mulvihill. In his book, Mulvihill addresses marriage, sexual purity, and dating within the context of God’s perfect plan. I appreciate his no-nonsense approach and targeted references to Bible verses that support his points.

In today’s ‘anything goes’ culture our grandchildren need all the help we can give. Mulvihill encourages adults to speak boldly and honestly with their children and grandchildren about the real reason God created marriage. 

During a recent overnight visit, I tucked my now 7-year-old grandson in with a prayer for his future wife. It’s not too soon start, especially in light of his early warning. I am thankful for Mulvihill’s insights, and his encouragement to be intentional when talking with  grandchildren about such an important topic.

Send your thoughts about this important topic to: SpiritualLegacyMemoir.com.

Calculations

Calculation

I’m one lucky woman who regularly spends time with my first grade grandson. That means learning first-hand what he is learning in school. These days, one of his favorite classes, aside from recess and lunch, is math. His enjoyment of math shows up in interesting ways.

One morning while we were mixing waffle batter, he threw out a math problem for me to solve: 100 x 100 x 1000 + 4 (divided by) 10. We worked on it together, first in our heads, second on paper, and third on a calculator. Then while I was pouring batter into the waffle iron, he rattled off another math challenge: 800 x 7000 + 4 (divided by) 10. (There must be something about all those zeroes that makes math more exciting.)

God has created each of us with unique gifts and talents. Part of our responsibility as grandparents is to help our grandchildren develop their talents and teach them the Word of God. After our math exercises and breakfast dishes were finished, I read a chapter to my grandson from his children’s Bible.

Have you calculated the importance of our role as grandparents? We are to teach our grandchild to know and love the Lord. I encourage you to take time to learn your grandchildren’s interests, and take advantage of opportunities to share your faith.

FYI, the answer to the first math problem is: 99,999,999. When you figure out the answer to the second math problem, post it to my website at: SpiritualLegacyMemoir.com.

Sliding Into Second Childhood

Lake Ann Sledding

The whole thing started when my grandson wanted a play date with a boy in his class. His request snowballed into two boys, five girls, one mom, two grandmas, and a grandpa congregating at the unofficial sledding hill of a local park.

As soon as our sled and Sno-Tube were out, the boys skidded their way down the hill. They tried every conceivable position to increase their speed: standing, sitting, or flattening themselves out. Their ultimate objective appeared to be ramming into one another with enough force to knock themselves into the air.

The girls took a little bit longer to finesse their way down the slope. They tested a brightly colored stack of plastic sleds from the back of another SUV until each found her perfect fit. Before long, their attention turned to snowball fights, building snowmen, and making snow angels.

All four adults stood at the top of the hill observing the crisscross of trails carved into the snow. “Are you going to try it?” the other grandma asked as she looked my way. Too late! I was already on my way down the hill. Everyone got into the act, screeching and laughing all the way down. 

By the time our shared play date came to a close, the adults were planning our next outing. My childhood flashed before my eyes. I reminisced about the days when a dozen or more kids escaped outside to construct forts, lob snowballs, and race back indoors for hot chocolate and dry socks.

Snow is falling as I write this. I’m smiling. It won’t be long before I’m sliding into the childhood excitement of winter with my grandson once again.

Leave a comment at: spirituallegacymemoir.com

True Treasures

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Among my collection of old family photos is one taken about 80 years ago. I know this because I recognize a toddler in the photo who is now in her early eighties. The photo includes faces of many other people, mostly adults. It’s interesting because some of the faces fade into the background.

This photo serves as a visual reminder of my own temporary imprint on earth. In a few short years, my face and name will begin to fade into obscurity. And 80 years from now, someone might pull up a digital photo of me and wonder who I am.

Don Moen wrote and performed a song titled “When It’s All Been Said and Done”. It’s one of my perennial favorites, probably because it tells such a compelling story. His message speaks about our life on earth in relation to our eternal home. The lyrics challenge us to consider whether we are living for something that matters beyond ourselves, or something that brings us temporary pleasure. 

In Ecclesiastes 1:14, King Solomon advises his sons that pursuing wisdom, pleasure, or success for our own satisfaction is like chasing the wind. At the end of his life, he admits that all his earthly treasures have become meaningless. He concludes Ecclesiastes with an admonition to revere God and obey His commands. What a spiritual legacy!

Do you find yourself chasing the wind? Or have you embraced the words of Matthew 6:19-20: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

At the end of life, we will all face the measure of how we choose to live today. Will your life count for meaningless treasures of earth, or eternal treasures in heaven? This will be the spiritual legacy you leave for generations to come.

Urgent

nasa-89125
image courtesy of NASA

Time is running out… The American family is in crisis… These are messages I’ve heard repeatedly during the past few days, warnings that few would dispute.

A pastor wisely shared a quote: “Crisis is a good editor.” It referenced a commentary he read about the 9/11 tragedy, when the basics of life were broken down to the few that really mattered. For the briefest of moments, nobody cared how their portfolio stacked up, what kind of car they drove, or whether their fashions were trendy. At that moment, we contemplated our own eternities.

Sometimes crises cause us to see the urgency that exists in everyone’s life. If you would, take a few moments to watch the video In My Seat – A Pilot’s Story from Sept 10th – 11th

After you watch the video, please share your thoughts with me at: www.spirituallegacymemoir.com.

Party Time

Three Generation FishermenQuestion: Why would any self-respecting, sensible, mature woman choose to go fishing with her family to celebrate her birthday instead of spending a day hanging out at a spa or tasting her way through multiple courses at a gourmet eatery? Here are five reasons.

Reason #1 – Because her family consists entirely of males, all of whom jump at the chance to fish – especially if it involves fishing off a pontoon on a beautiful day. Plus, they get really excited about your birthday when it involves something they really like to do.

Reason #2 – Because said males made the effort to pull together a gourmet picnic lunch to accompany said fishing trip and you didn’t have to lift a finger. You just have to sit and smile a lot.

Reason #3 – Because cruising around a lake on a pontoon for an entire afternoon on a beautiful day is something you enjoy, even if no fish make it onto the vessel.

Reason #4 – Because spending time with your family can be more fun than spending the day alone – even if it means no masseuse is involved. 

Reason #5 – Because, hey why not? Maybe, just maybe, said woman likes to occasionally dangle a little bit of fishing line in the water. 

The big lesson I learned about choosing how to celebrate special occasions is to tap into the things everyone in my family loves. It is a blessing to think this will undoubtedly become a fond memory for all of us, especially my grandson. One of the best moments was when my he said, “I want to do this for my birthday.” I could have guessed that one. 

Visit my website at: www.spirituallegacymemoir.com.