And Now We Are (thirty) Six

Pooh pie
Happy Pie Day to You

Happy Pie Day to You

Happy Pie Day Dear Everyone

Happy Pie Day to You!

I’m thankful that I’m finally done peeling eggs and that I finished before 3am. I’m thankful that all seven layers of my jello salad set up. I’m thankful the rolls are yummy and that Craig and I managed to only eat one each tonight. I’m thankful I can sleep in the van on our way to the farm later today. Oh yes, I’m thankful we have a van again. Our own normal van. And it’s running just fine for now. I’m thankful for my kids who picked out some funny things for me to unwrap later today. I’m thankful for four days at the farm in which we can rest.

I hope you find plenty to be thankful for today as well.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


My Family’s Secret Chocolate Pie Recipe

Chocolate Pie

Okay, so it’s not really a secret anymore if I share it here, is it? I’m not sure why I’ve been possessive of this recipe online before, but I’ve had a few people ask for it and my sister said to share it, so I’m sharing it.

My Favorite Great-Auntie’s Chocolate Pie

2 C evaporated milk
1 T butter
1 t vanilla
3 egg yolks
1.5 C sugar
4 T flour
4.5 T Hershey’s cocoa (remember – has to be Hersheys)
1/8 t salt

Combine the milk, butter, vanilla, and egg yolks together.

Combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, and salt together.

Sift the dry into the wet in a saucepan. Cook on medium high, heat until thick (can sometimes take a long time).

Pour into a pre-baked pie crust. Don’t forget the old wax paper trick!

This recipe doesn’t seem to make enough for a deep-dish pie, so I always triple the recipe and make two pies. You could always 1.5x the recipe too, or just use a regular pie dish, not a deep dish.

Also, I’m pretty sure the rationale behind just using egg yolks was so you could save the whites for meringue. Nobody in my family likes meringue, so I stopped making it a long time ago. Instead, when I triple the recipe, instead of using 9 egg yolks and tossing 9 egg whites, I just put in 5 whole eggs. Seems to work okay.

My Auntie never wrote this recipe down and was never quite sure how to tell someone else to do it – every time she tried guessing it came out different. She didn’t measure, but just knew. Her pies were always perfect. Ours, however, never were. Eventually my sister perfected the proportions. Here it is! But I don’t know what it is about the cocoa. I’ve tried several different kinds (Nestles and Girhardelli) and neither of them work in this recipe. Has to be Hersheys.


12th Week, 1st Week!

Anyone from Eagle Lake Camp still read my blog? Come on, say it with me, "Enthusiasm is… annoying! CONTAGIOUS!!

Yep, still have that stuck in my head even though we left Colorado five years ago and haven't lived up at camp in eight. And as much as that little cheer did annoy the snot right out of me every week, I find myself using the principle of it even now.

Tomorrow is week 12 of our Classical Conversations semester. This means it is the last day for the fall. We'll have our second annual pie feast and then be done for a while. We do have a Christmas party scheduled in two weeks (be still my heart, is it really coming that fast?), but the hard work of weekly class prep will be over until mid-January.

We're all breathing a huge sigh of relief right now. But even still, I don't want to blow off tomorrow. Week 12 is every bit as important as was week 1 or week 5 or week 9.

And I hope it's better than last week and that nobody cuts their chin open during lunch. Please, God. 

So here's to finishing the semester well. And here's to an enjoyable and restful 6 weeks off.

Open Letter to Fellow Choir Parent

Dear Fellow Choir Parent Dropping Your Kid Off This Morning,

Delmar is a street, not a parking lot. When you double park next to other people who are
legitimately parked on the side dropping their kids off (blocking them in), and then
get out of your car and proceed to do your child’s hair, and then see a
friend across the street and start chatting, you cause the driver who is, in fact, waiting for you to finish up and drive off, to experience acute symptoms of road rage.

Please do not do that again.



Another Choir Parent Who Just Wants to Get Home, Darn It

You Wanna Hear Another Secret?

This post by John Lynch could just as easily have been written by yours truly this past Monday. Craig and I had a doozy of a fight on Sunday. Then, on Monday, we were asked to consider speaking at a conference somewhere next fall together as a couple (and with our kids). We got the message before we’d had time to reconcile and were still, as John put it, very fragile.

So fragile, in fact, that when Millie cut her chin open at Classical Conversations over lunch that afternoon I started crying. I don’t normally cry when my kids get cuts. On Monday, I did. So fragile, in fact, that when the van started sputtering on our way home from the ER I started crying again.

I needed this message from John Lynch on Monday, but I’ll take it today, four days later:

I will always display some measure of foolishness, pain and
immaturity, because, well because, there is still foolishness, pain and
immaturity in me! It will never nullify the veracity of “Christ in John
Lynch”. I am fully righteous. I am fully fused with God Himself. I am
fully a new creature. I am fully God’s adored, I have everything in me
I need, I am a man unable to be condemned no matter what I get myself
into…But I am still a kid. And I am not always yet willing to humbly
trust God. There is still something in me that fights this health. And
this new life is undoing stuff all the way back from the goofballs in
my family line. Some of what I am living out will be better seen in my
kids than me.

And if you catch me at any particular moment I may not look much
healthier than someone without Christ. I can get just as loud or
irrational as about anyone I know. But the magic continues on. God does
His beauty. And Stacey, although she might not have admitted it that
Thursday evening, is better and more authentically loved by me than 25
years ago. And so is everyone else I know, including my God.

It is imperative that we who carry this message, who dare take grace
and identity into a religious culture of performance and self-willed
sanctification, that we give ourselves the grace we promise to others.
God is not ashamed, embarrassed or surprised by our junk. He just
smiles, puts His arm around us and says something like, “Stick around
kid. I’m growing you up from the inside out. I know what I’m doing and
I’m proud to be doing it in you.”

So there.

Go read the whole thing yourself.

PS: Nothing helps communication restart in a hurry like having to decide whether or not to take a child to the ER and having to deal with serious car issues. I’m not even kidding.

You Wanna Hear a Secret?

I kind of like being a one-car family.

Wow! Can you believe I just said that? I mean, sure, it’s going to get old here pretty soon. And I’m super thankful we have our pastor’s family’s second van for the weekend. But here’s why I’ve sort of enjoyed the past few days: Families who drive together stay together.

Or something.

You know, life with four kids the ages ours are just gets put on auto-pilot sometimes. Craig and I slap hands and say, “Tag!” as we’re coming and going. This week we had to be very intentional about who was going where and when and how we were going to get various places with only one car.

It meant on one day we had to skip a class we usually go to. It meant on another day Craig had to dash home right after school to pick us up so we could go drop him off before taking the girls to choir rehearsals.

That day was today. Because Craig works the bookstore after school, and leaves before we get up, we usually don’t even see him until 6:30pm each day. But this week it seems we’ve seen him more.

And six people crammed into an Oldsmobile ’98 is just some kind of fun right there.

Sure, I’ll be super happy when I don’t have to beg friends to come get my kids and take them to ballet for me. But for now, this is pretty novel and I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts.

On Having Faith

So I just put up this post on trusting God in the midst of our goofy car situation right now. Commenter number 1 thinks what I said is a cop-out.

All I can think to say right now is that I’m sorry he thinks so. I don’t believe I ever said having faith is easy. But I do love trusting God to care for us because get this: I know this is a situation out of our control.

Maybe that’s a cop-out for him. For me? Relief. How about you?


In teaching the fourth through sixth grade girls Sunday school class at my church, I use the Desiring God curriculum, How Majestic Is Your Name, which details the many names of God. Last Sunday we studied Jehovah-Jireh: “The Lord Will Provide.”

As the girls and I were going through the lesson, I had the opportunity to share with them how I was planning to trust God with our future transportation needs. Our van was having some issues, but at that point on Sunday it was still running. I told the girls that I knew I would have to eventually trust God with the van, but what I didn’t know is that the next day our van would break down for good.

Hebrews 11:1, of course, reminds us, “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what do not see.” Well, we’re living in the tension between faith and certainty right now. Do we sit tight and see how God provides? Do we crunch numbers and see what kind of monthly payment we can afford? If we do the latter, does it negate the former? Is it possible to really trust at the same time you are scrambling to find the solution yourself?

In the past, my mistake is usually that when I trust God to provide, I place parameters on his provision. For instance, in this scenario, I think God’s provision should look like a brand new car in the driveway tomorrow. I realize, however, He has provided for us already by allowing us to test-drive a car from Chevy for the past month and having our pastor offer us his family’s second minivan for the weekend. In addition, when we go to my husband’s family’s farm next week for Thanksgiving, we’ll bring home his parents’ van as a loaner for a few weeks.

At the same time, we will begin looking for replacement options. We’ll sweat a little over it, but we won’t worry. Because the God who can give us a new Chevy for a month, a loaned van for the weekend, and another one for as long as we need it will continue to provide for our needs.

I have faith in that certainty.

WTB: Horse and Buggy

Wanted: Dependable transportation that will seat more than a few (preferably 8). It would be nice to be able to store things in the back, too, like a tent or several bags of groceries.

Our 1996 Honday Odyssey van kicked the bucket on Monday, three days after being reintroduced to our family. As a result, we’re a one-car family for a while until we get things sorted out and figure out what comes next.

It would seem to make sense we would be interested in the new Chevy Traverse that we just spent the last 30 days driving around. And we would, except for one tiny problem: $$$$$. We were told we would get a pretty good deal on a new Traverse if we decided to buy one, but Chevy and I have two different interpretations of the term “good deal.”

So here’s my official inquiry:

  • What do you drive?

  • How many does it seat?

  • How is it on the storage capacity?

  • Do you love it?

  • Would you buy it again?

The Dunhams have officially entered the auto research game. Darn it.

Craig’s Favorite Apple Pie Recipe

This is the best apple pie in the entire world. And next week I won’t even have to make it because Craig’s Aunt Jan will do that for me. But I might not get a piece on Thursday. Her apple pie is so good, cousins, masquerading as grown men (one of them a pastor, the other a Bible teacher of all things), fight over this pie. I kid you not.

Here it is: Aunt Jan’s Apple Crumb Pie:

5 to 7 tart apples (5 cups)
1 9-inch unbaked pastry shell

1/2 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
6 tablespoons butter

Pare apples; core and cut in eights. Arrange in unbaked pastry shell.
Mix 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over apples.

Mix 1/3 cup sugar with the flour; cut in butter till crumbly. Sprinkle over apples.

Bake at 400 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or till done. If pie browns too quickly, cover edge with foil. Cool. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

Who Thinks This is a Coincidence?

I’m preparing for my 4th-6th grade girls’ Sunday School class tonight. We’re using the Desiring God curriculum: How Majestic Is Your Name?

Tomorrow we cover lesson 7: JEHOVAH-JIREH, The Lord Will Provide

I just read through all the stories I’m going to recount tomorrow, namely the story of the widow and Elijah and the jars of oil.

Yeah, ironic timing or a Message From The Lord?

I’m not worried about my van. I have plans to work on the mold tomorrow with my hazmat suit and some bleach. It has a full tank of gas and it runs just fine. It isn’t something we need replaced right now. Sometime soon? Perhaps. But do I believe God to be the JEHOVAH-JIREH now in 2009 or so I just believe He was the Lord Who Provided in the Old Testament?

Sometimes I do live that way. I do believe the Bible to be true. But sometimes I believe it to only be true for the time in which was written. I live in the land of do-it-yourself-and-maybe-just-maybe-if-you-ask-really-nicely-God-will-help-you.

I’m going to be asking my girls tomorrow to think about times with God has provided for them. I will be doing the same.

Because He is indeed, JEHOVAH-JIREH. And He will provide. For me. In 2009. And for you too.