Recipe: “Come on Over” Mini Meatloaf (and Meal Idea)

My mom knows that I say this, because she says the same thing: my mom did not make good meatloaf when I was a child, so I grew up disliking it. Only recently did I learn to enjoy it, and after gathering tidbits of helpful hints from friends, tweaking various elements from multiple sources, and creating my own unique recipe, I can tell you that this is pretty much the favorite meal at our house! In fact, Tuesday night we had this very meal, and Joe (my husband, who previously was not a major meatloaf fan himself) said, “I think if there were a TV show named Meals to Die For, this recipe would win!” (Um…love him!) Additionally, he often says that I should sell the sauce by the gallon and basically states that he would buy every gallon! Now that, my friends, makes this a meal worth blogging about, worth making, and worth saying to friends, “Come on over for some seriously tasty meatloaf!”

So here’s the point of this recipe: make it ahead in small loaf tins; freeze it; put it in the oven one hour before your meal (directly from the freezer), and enjoy a meal that you can serve to any age group at just about any time! Be sure to read the remainder of the blog post following the recipe. I share some serving ideas and entertaining thoughts to truly make this a crowd favorite!

“Come on Over” Mini Meatloaf

Prep time: 30 minutes-ish
Cooking time: 60–70 minutes, 350°
Serves: 8 (simply cut the recipe in half to make 4 Mini Meatloaves)
From the kitchen of Brenda Henderson

Ingredients:

Mini Meatloaf:

  • (Cooking spray to grease the loaf tins)
  • 2 lbs. ground beef (80/20 or 90/10…it needs a little fat in it!)
  • 2 ¼” slices of large onion, diced (optional)
  • 1 ½ cup Panko (or use croutons, place in plastic bag, and crush with a rolling pin)
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp yellow mustard
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk

Sauce (heat and drizzle over the Mini Meatloaves just prior to serving):

  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp yellow mustard
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Directions:

  1. Use cooking spray to lightly grease the sides and bottoms of eight miniature loaf tins (like those that are used for bread). In a large bowl, add the Mini Meatloaf ingredients in the order in which they appear on the Ingredients list above, using your hands and/or a large wooden spoon to thoroughly mix them together.
  2. Divide the mixture evenly into eight oval “loaves” and place them in the miniature loaf tins, “tweaking” the shape so that they fit securely in the tins. Cover each tin securely with plastic wrap (such as Saran® Wrap) and place each of them in the freezer.
  3. After the Mini Meatloaves are fully frozen (at least overnight), remove them from their tins and store them in an airtight container (I separate mine with waxed paper or parchment paper). DO NOT THAW BEFORE BAKING!
  4. To bake: Place frozen loaves on a cookie sheet (evenly spaced for best results). Bake at 350°— 8 loaves, 70 minutes (1 hour, ten minutes); 4 loaves, 60 minutes (one hour). Remove from oven, plate the Mini Meatloaves (do this in the kitchen) on each guest’s dinner plate, and drizzle with the heated sauce mixture. Optional: plate the side dishes as well and serve the entire meal “plated.”

Meal Idea:

Our favorite side dish for this (official hat tip to our friends Terry and Diana for this one) is to serve a baked potato with the Mini Meatloaves. Using one potato per guest, place the potatoes on a cookie sheet; they cook the exact same time and at the exact same temperature as the Mini Meatloaves, making your before-the-meal preparations minimal. In fact, if space allows, you can bake them together on the same cookie sheet. Here’s how I do my baked potatoes (though it is not original with her, my sister Karen receives the hat tip for sharing this one with me):

  1. Wash potatoes.
  2. Use a dinner fork to poke each potato in about 6–8 places around the potato.
  3. Lightly spray the outside of the potato with cooking spray (or rub with vegetable oil or olive oil).
  4. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt.
  5. Bake on a cookie sheet for one hour at 350°.

(These are soooo good! Slightly crispy outside and perfectly done inside.)

Optional toppings include: butter, sour cream, toppings (chives, bacon pieces, onion, crushed red pepper etc.), salt, and pepper. I recommend you keep it simple and only have a minimum of these options available on the dinner table.

Feel free to add a side salad, a small dish of applesauce, green beans, dinner rolls, or another side dish of your choosing. But always remember that simple is best. No more than three items on the plate is a great rule to follow!

Because this “down-home” meal is pretty filling, we generally pass a dish of miniature candy bars or a plate of cookies for dessert!

The wonderful thing about preparing the main course ahead of time (the Mini Meatloaves keep well in the freezer 4–6 weeks) is that it allows you to follow one of my most important rules for entertaining:

Spend more time with your guests than you spend in the kitchen!

__________________________

Petals from the Basket is a devotional blog that provides ideas and resources for everyday Christian living. I haven’t forgotten that! Joe and I have both been uncommonly sick in these first months of 2017 and between that and travel to visit family members, we’ve been a little negligent in keeping the blog posts consistent with our desired timing! Our general schedule goal is to post one or two devotional blogs a week and to include a “Come on Over” recipe idea on Thursdays. We know you have thousands of blog options to choose from, so we thank you for joining us at Petals from the Basket and hope that you’ll consider reading our posts here on a regular basis!

Recipe: “Come on Over” Cobbler

So here’s the wonderful thing about hospitality—you don’t have to have people over for a meal! During a time when my food budget barely allowed enough to feed me, let alone a table full of guests, my sweet mama lovingly reminded me that having guests over at 7:00 p.m. for dessert and games can be a wonderful—and inexpensive—way to entertain. She made this dessert often when I was growing up, so even though it’s not original with her, I’m crediting her for sharing this recipe with me.

This week’s “Come on Over” recipe is for one of my favorite “go-to” desserts. In fact, it’s so easy that I’ve been known to spontaneously invite someone over after an event and make it once we got home, and then we played a game or just enjoyed talking until it was ready! It’s perfect for a “dessert-only” night or a midafternoon gathering (served with coffee, tea, or water), and it’s also the perfect finish to a “Come on Over” meal! (When I serve it at the end of a meal, I have it ready to go and put it in the oven right before we sit down to eat. That way it’s piping hot when we’re ready for dessert!) And no, this isn’t truly a cobbler in the technical sense, but I call it that, nonetheless!

“Come on Over” Cobbler

Prep time: 7 minutes-ish
Cooking time: 30 minutes-ish, 350°
Serves: 8–12 (depending on how big you slice/scoop the pieces)
From the kitchen of Brenda Henderson, shared with me by my mom, Lorraine Strohbehn

Ingredients:

  • 2 20-ounce cans of pie filling(s) of choice (or you can make your own from scratch)

We usually like apple or cherry, so my husband thought this would be a fun time to use both!

  • 1 stick Imperial margarine, room temperature (any brand is fine; I just always bake with Imperial)
  • 1 box packaged cake mix (yellow, white, or spice)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Pour canned pie filling into an 11 x 7 pan (or similar size; I sometimes divide the ingredients in half and use two different pie plates to bake them in).
  3. In a separate bowl, cut margarine into dry cake mix, using pastry cutter or fork until thoroughly combined.
  4. Sprinkle cake mix/margarine mixture over the top of the pie filling and spread evenly so all the pie filling is covered.
  5. Place pan on cooking sheet (it often runs over!).
  6. Bake 30–35 minutes, until golden brown on top.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes-ish and then cut into pieces or scoop onto plates and serve alone (that’s how we like it best) or with a small scoop of ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream on top.

Stores well, tastes great cold, and reheats easily in the microwave. And…I confess…it’s good for breakfast the morning after you’ve had guests! (Joe eats his in a bowl with a little vanilla coffee creamer poured over the top of it. Not my thing, so I eat mine plain, but hey, when you’re grownups, and you’re eating cobbler for breakfast, you can eat it however you want to!)

Enjoy! I certainly loved reading your e-mails and messages about the Come on Over Chicken many of you made last week, so I’d love to hear your follow-up reports in the comments below once you’ve tried THIS recipe and have said to friends or family, “Come on over!”

 

Trusting the Instrument Panel

The Captain’s Corner

When I think of my career as a pilot—starting at age fifteen and lasting nearly fifty years—I am fascinated by how much the word trust surfaces in both the physical and mental activity of flight. Trust is relying on someone or something completely external to one’s person. It extends to the design and construction of the aircraft, its maintenance, the loading and fueling of the aircraft before flight, and also the professionalism of the air traffic controllers during flight to keep two airplanes from being in the same place at the same time. Of course, the passengers are trusting the pilots and flight attendants to help them have a safe and enjoyable flight to their destination.

But let’s focus on the pilots and their environment. In flying’s early days, the idea was commonly accepted that pilots could and should fly in any kind of weather—just take off and settle down in the clouds, though they couldn’t see the ground. Soon (and often with the tragic result of the pilot losing control of the airplane) the aviation industry realized that pilots could not rely on their natural sense of balance to keep the plane right-side-up in the clouds. Thus, the concept of “blind flying” (as it was originally called) came into practice.

Blind flying became known as “instrument flying.” In instrument flying, the pilot is trained to completely ignore his or her sense of equilibrium and trust the instrument panel to tell him or her the balance, position, and direction of the flight. This trust in the instruments is absolute. The life of everyone aboard the plane completely depends on it. “Trust your instruments; don’t believe your sense of balance!” flying instructors would preach. With training, practice, and experience, this trust becomes second nature and routine.

Trusting the flight instruments pictures the example of saving faith (trust) in Christ Jesus as personal Savior. Author Paul Chappell, in his book Disciple, writes: “Everyone trusts in something. Even atheists rely on their faith that God does not exist. Far more important than the quality or nature of our faith is the object of our faith. It is only when we trust in Jesus Christ that we find salvation, the forgiveness of our sins, and eternal life with Christ” (emphasis mine).

“It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man” (Psalm 118:8, KJV).

“And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12, NASB).

Who is the object of your trust?

____________________________

Joe Henderson, Brenda’s husband, is a retired international airline captain and now blogs in “The Captain’s Corner” on a regular basis.

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Priorities

Your spouse matters.

Your children matter.

Your extended family matters.

Your work matters.

Your community matters.

Your church matters.

Your “down time” matters.

You matter.

God matters more.

When He matters most, the rest of what matters falls into place.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness;
and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33, KJV).

Recipe: “Come on Over” Chicken (or Beef)

We love to entertain. Seriously. It’s like our favorite pastime. So I’m always on the lookout for following or creating a great recipe that’s also easy. I confess that I’m not an amazing cook, but I am a fairly good one, and when my husband says, “Let’s have that again…soon,” or when a guest asks for the recipe, I know it’s one I want to use again! [I must add here that I’ve had some total flops, but we’ve laughed and moved on to the veggies and dessert to fill us up!]

Recently, while reading through the book of Titus, it struck me that the word hospitality is used only a few times in the Bible. Twice it refers to all of us (men and women) who are believers (see Romans 12:13 and 1 Peter 4:9), and twice it is given as a description of the men who are leaders in the church (see 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:8). So dear friends who speak to ladies’ groups, may I lovingly ask that you please not twist the truths of Scripture or guilt the women into feeling that they must spend hours on Pinterest searching for unique entertaining ideas and gourmet recipes to display their godliness and as though hospitality rests entirely on their shoulders. Hospitality comes from the heart of an individual (man or woman) who  focuses on others—using his or her time, talents, and resources to be an encouragement to others! It takes neither great wealth nor great time—just a great big ol’ heart!

So I’ve started a little recipe file of my own, and I’m calling the items that go in there “Come on Over” dishes: Come on Over Meatloaf; Come on Over Steaks; Come on Over Chicken (or Beef), etc., because I want our home to be a place where things don’t have to be perfect and where we can therefore have the freedom to say, “Come on over” without cause for panic! Ya’ll are honestly the best readership in all of blogdom, so I simply must share some of these with you! I won’t promise to post one every Thursday, but I certainly will try! That way you can have them in time to try them out over the weekend and say to someone, “Come on over, I’m trying out a new recipe tomorrow!” If I made up the recipe, I’ll take credit. If I got the recipe somewhere, I’ll give credit.

But first, there are three basic principles I would encourage you to follow:

  1. Buy ahead, prepare ahead, freeze what you can. But if you have to buy it that morning, that’s fine too!
  2. Keep it simple. For an informal gathering, I generally serve a meat, a vegetable, and a salad/or sliced fruit/or applesauce. Three items. One beverage option for the meal (water…with lemon slices available—if I remembered to buy a lemon). One dessert…a simple one (more on that next time).
  3. Set the table early. It’s a mental thing for me. When I can picture the table and “see” the food on the plates, I know more clearly what I have to do to make that actually happen! Again, it’s a mental thing, but I generally set the table once our noon meal is complete and once the dirty dishes are cleared away. (We happen to have a formal dining room, so when we’re going to eat in there, I generally set the table the night before!)

No pictures of the food this week, but I’ll try to add some photos now and then in the future. Seriously, I’m almost embarrassed to share this first recipe, because it’s obnoxiously simple! I totally cheat and serve it with canned or frozen green beans and applesauce from a jar. That way, we can see someone at church and say, “Come on over for lunch after church today!”

“Come on Over” Chicken (or Beef)

Prep time: 5 minutes (seriously)
Cooking time: 3 hours-ish in a crock pot
Serves: 4
From the kitchen of Brenda Henderson; based on a recipe from my friend Linda Taylor

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (add more time and a little more sauce if you want to make 6 or 8 of either the chicken or beef)

OR

4 ground beef patties (1/4 pound patties — I buy ground beef in 5-pound packages and make the patties ahead, keeping them in the freezer and ready to use)

  • 1 jar salsa (whatever “spiciness temperature” you like)

OR

1 regular-sized can of stewed tomatoes (we like the “Italian Blend” because of the spices)

In other words, you will only use TWO ingredients!

Directions (Seriously, I’m embarrassed at how simple this is!):

  1. Put the meat in the crock pot. (I put mine in straight from the freezer, but thawed is fine too!)
  2. Cover the meat with the salsa OR the tomatoes.
  3. Cook three hours-ish on low. (In other words, if it’s in there longer, it won’t hurt it. I’ve cooked it four hours before, and it was just fine. That’s what I love about the crock pot and about the sauce that keeps it from drying out!)

I plate our meals in the kitchen (rather than passing serving dishes) and put a little of the sauce on each piece of meat. If there’s any sauce (salsa or tomatoes) left in the crock pot, it put it in a bowl and pass it like a gravy that the guests can add to their meat if they want more.

Enjoy! I’d love to hear a follow-up report in the comments below if you try THIS recipe!

When Your Hope Chest Is Full and Your Ring Finger Is Empty

Disclaimer: This post is not a generic blanket-statement regarding all who have no spouse in their house. It is written in love, from my firsthand experience (and therefore from my limited viewpoint), with a desire to lift up the weary arms of those who from time to time find themselves questioning their current marital status.

___________

About twenty-five years ago, my friend Diana gave me two mugs and made me promise not to use them until I was married. I kept that promise, primarily because I simply forgot about them most of the time. Every now and then, I’d open the cedar hope chest where they were stored, and I’d think, “This is silly. I should just go ahead and use them since it’s clear that I’m never getting married.” But a promise is a promise, so I’d close the lid after taking out Mugs Worth Waiting to Usethe blanket that was stored there, and they would be out of sight and out of mind.

About a month ago I once again found the mugs in that cedar chest, which now serves as a decorative place for extra storage in our guest room. But this time was different! That night, my husband, Joe, and I enjoyed cappuccino from our “new” mugs while sitting by the fire.

I find it no coincidence that in the weeks since then, three different individuals have asked me this question: “When do I ‘give up’ on hoping that I’ll ever get married?” For those who are new to following this blog (and, “Welcome,” by the way!), it may help to know that I was married just a little over five months ago—for the first time…at the age of fifty-five. So to some who are longing for marriage, I am a great source of hope, because, “Hey, if Brenda can get married in her fifties, then there’s hope for me too!” To others, I am their worst nightmare: “You mean, I may not get married until I’m in my fifties? Ugh. I don’t want to be her!”

No matter the viewpoint, the answer to that very common question of, “Should I give up hope that my dream will come true?” is the same for everyone, regardless of their age or their reason for having no spouse in the house (single, divorced, widowed). However, the initial answer is as double-sided as the responses to my wedding-day age! The final answer generally depends on the attitude and motive behind the question.

I believe there are two guiding factors in the answer to this question, and both are found in Scripture verses.

Think on Truth

Ask yourself this question: “What is true about my marital status today?” The key word here is today. You can’t change the past (though you can learn from it), and you don’t know the future. But you do have the truth of today. And today, there is no spouse in your house. Yes, I know that some of you have lost your spouse within this last year, and I cannot fully fathom the changes you are facing. But I know that truth, God’s truth, found in His Word, is unchanging—and so is His love!

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:8, NASB, emphasis mine).

Today, and every day, fix your mind on what is true—God’s Word! In focusing on the promises and truths in Scripture, you will also more clearly see a simple, earthly truth: today, there is no spouse in your house. But let me remind you that you don’t know what God has for you tomorrow, so don’t use up the gift of today worrying about it or wrestling with the “what-ifs” that tomorrows always seem to hold. Use the gift of today to its fullest. Use your skills, talents, and abilities with joy. Reach out to others with empathy in your heart. Serve God in the place where He has you today.

Is it wrong to dream about tomorrow? To have desires/hope for tomorrow? To plan for tomorrow? No. Of course not. But allow me to lovingly share that dreams and desires must never become demands. (I previously wrote a blog post on that very thought. Later, you can find it here.) God created you. He knows your frame (personality and traits), your desires, your hopes, and your longings. Therefore, the most joyful hope of all can be found when you focus on His truth, because He knows, cares, understands, and is Himself the Truth (John 14:6).

Protect the Playground

As I’m writing this, I am reminded over and over again that these two principles are true for every faith-friend reading this post—whether there’s a spouse in her house or not, and that means that they are true for me as well! God’s Word was written for all of us!

I shared the story of my stored mugs because each of the women who asked about “giving up” on her dream of marriage mentioned having a closet area, drawer, or box filled with “someday” items, ranging from a wedding dress to baby clothes (yes, you read that correctly) to “His” and “Hers” towels. So before you mock them or become defensive of your own tucked-away-for-future-use items, let me share that while I think it can be wise to buy ahead and plan ahead, with every purchase you are risking the likelihood of increasing the size of the devil’s playground.

You see, the mugs I received were gifts. Additionally, I did not go to the hope chest for the express purpose of staring at them, holding them, and dreaming of the Mr. Wonderful who may or may not one day hold one of them in his hands while sitting by the fireplace. I did not use my own resources or tell God what to provide for me. My playground had a fence (the confines of the cedar chest) protecting it. Yet often, those with no spouse in the house will purchase items such as these under the guise of “faith,” citing that they are showing God their faith by purchasing what they, in the moment, believe to be the wedding dress of their dreams and telling Him that it is a demonstration of their belief that He will fulfill their desires.

You may be far more capable than I would have been to avert the attacks of the evil one. I, however, would have become discontent, sullen, and probably even angry if I would have had a space where those items I had purchased would have served as frequent reminders of my solitude. But even if you feel that you can handle it, let me lovingly just remind you of the principle that the Bible itself states:

“Neither give place to the devil” (Ephesians 4:27, KJV).

My personal paraphrase of this verse would be: “Don’t let the evil ick have any real estate in your heart or mind where he can build a playground!” The best way to do this is to follow the words of the psalmist in Psalm 119:10–11 (NKJV): “With my whole heart I have sought You; oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” (In other words, meditate on His unchanging truth!)

As you protect your mind and heart from the distractions that the evil one throws your way, you will have the freedom to speak truth to yourself and others. Go ahead—dream, hope, plan wisely, pray. But focus first and foremost on God’s Truth, because it will greater enable you to dwell on the truth of His plan for you today, and it will more fully strengthen you to positively protect the playground of your mind!

God’s Truth is enough—more than enough—for all of us!

Pilots and Copilots — Husbands and Wives

petals-photo-of-joe

The Captain’s Corner

One of the greatest joys of working for the airlines—and there are many—is the relationship with the passionate professionals with whom one flies. Among the most personal of these is the pilot–copilot relationship.

The pilot, also known as the “Pilot in Command” (“P.I.C.”), is by law and tradition fully in charge for the conduct and safety of the flight. Therefore, he or she may take any action—emergency or otherwise—to accomplish this. The copilot, also known as the “Second in Command” (“S.I.C.”), is to assist the pilot. He or she is fully qualified to fly the airplane and to take over the controls if the pilot is impaired or incapacitated. One is not greater than the other, but when each fulfills his or her professional role, the result is not only teamwork, but a successful flight!

A now well-known and outstanding example of good pilot–copilot teamwork was demonstrated by the crew of the recent “Miracle on the Hudson.” This was the successful water landing on the Hudson River—without fatalities—by an airplane with no functioning engines. The pilot and copilot worked together in intense cooperation. They communicated fully and efficiently, enabling them to make critical decisions. This example confirms the principle that is taught in Ecclesiastes 4:9–10, declaring that “two are better than one.”

In many ways, the pilot–copilot relationship resembles that of the husband and wife, as set forth in Ephesians 5:22–33. Good pilots set the tone of the cockpit relationship. They accept and encourage help from their copilots, especially concerns and conflicts that can be resolved through good communication. Additionally, they value their copilots. Good husbands, as author Beneth Jones explained, “Know their wives, love their wives, and value their wives.”

A good copilot is free to point out problems. In fact, he or she may be more qualified or have more experience than the pilot in working with that airplane. Good pilots use this knowledge and experience to achieve the common goal of a successful flight, sometimes asking, “Do you know of a better way?” A husband should feel confident to ask the same question of his wife, recognizing that she may have greater insights and stronger abilities in certain areas. He should appreciate and value his wife’s contribution to the team. Just as the copilot in the cockpit, a good wife is a knowledgeable and integral part of the team and works alongside her husband—not ahead of him or behind him.

God’s pattern in the Scriptures for marriage—and life—works! When each member of the team/family recognizes his or her role and values the other members of the team/family, it’s sure to be a successful journey!

____________________________

Joe Henderson, Brenda’s husband, is a retired international airline captain and now blogs in “The Captain’s Corner” on a regular basis.

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Cleaning Grandma’s Cupboards

Thoughts from Grandma

Today’s post comes from one of our favorites, Lorraine Strohbehn (Brenda’s mom)!

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It’s already the end of January! The holidays with family and friends are long past, and it’s that time again. Yes, it’s time to clean the cupboards!

When I tackle this start-of-the-year task, I begin at one end and take everything out behind the first set of doors, wash things that haven’t been used often, wipe the shelves with soapy water, dry them, and return the dishes. I usually just return them to their original places, because those places were chosen early on so that items are stored nearest to where they are used.

Rather than taking on the entire project at once, I do only two or three sections each day. The one that takes longest is the area where I keep my spices, followed by the section with special kinds of flour. (A funny side note: This year I discarded my angel food cake flour, which had expired in 2011. With my failing vision, somehow I had seen it as 2017 before!)

Once I complete the upper cupboards, I do the lower ones, then under the sink, and finally the oven. With the inside areas complete, I give the outside surfaces their Murphy’s Oil Soap wash, and the job’s done!

The next week, I do bathrooms in the same way.

No, things don’t look any different to anyone else, but I know they are clean, and I love it! As I work on this project, I am once again reminded that the Lord has faithfully entrusted to me everything that I need.

Early in the year, it is a great habit to do the same spiritual inventory and cleaning that we do with our cupboards. For example, we should ask: “What worked well last year for my daily time with the Lord?” and “What should I change?” Because of my impaired vision, I now must listen to the Word instead of reading it, requiring a change of plans. For the past several years, I could read my Bible chronologically. Now I need to read (listen) beginning in Genesis and go straight through. Regardless of the sequence or methods, it’s always a blessing to begin each day with the cleansing power of God’s Word (see Ephesians 5:25–27, which surely can apply to all of us though it speaks especially to husbands).

The challenges we find in God’s Word are a daily joy, but if there is something in our lives that needs change or a talent or skill that we have not been using to its fullest, the early months of the new year can be a catalyst to take action. Let’s strive to have things decent and in order (see 1 Corinthians 14:40) so that we have the peace of knowing that all is well with the Lord, and that we are ready for another year to serve Him!

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Lorraine Strohbehn, Brenda’s mom, occasionally contributes posts to Petals from the Basket.
Her wisdom, experience, and advice make her a reader-favorite contributor!
To read more from Lorraine, you may click here
to purchase her book Petals of Wisdom from Grandma on Amazon!

Of Healers and Heroes – A Tribute to Dr. Robert Abel

 

“This won’t hurt a bit, Brenda. I promise you that.”

My five-year-old self relaxed as I raised my left arm to receive my required prekindergarten immunizations. If Dr. Abel promised that it wouldn’t hurt, it wouldn’t.

“I’ll count to three, and then I’ll give you your shot. Ready? Count with me.”

I looked into his trustworthy, kind, and caring eyes, and said with him, in unison, “One…two…three!”

But as we simultaneously spoke the number “three,” he didn’t insert the needle into my arm; instead, he removed it! In spite of his fulfilled promise that it wouldn’t hurt a bit, I began to cry uncontrollably. When Dr. Abel and my mother, both surprised by my outburst, asked what was wrong, I spoke through broken sobs, “No…it didn’t…hurt. But…Dr. Abel…lied…to…me, and he’s not…supposed to…do that!”

With his tender words of apology and explanation, he renewed my faith in him, and with a small red lollipop, he silenced my tears!

A few years later I fell from the pinnacle of the highest slide on the school’s playground. Those in charge could get no response from me and covered me with a white sheet until my parents could arrive. Nearly fifty years later, my mother still recalls that as she and my father drove onto the school property, they saw Dr. Abel running to the playground from the town’s only medical clinic. Before my parents could reach me, they were comforted by the fact that Dr. Abel was already by my side, kneeling and assessing my condition. I don’t recall much about that fall, but I do remember that the first person I saw was Dr. Abel, which meant two things to my young mind: 1) I must have been hurt, and 2) I was going to be okay.

In between those two stories and many times thereafter, there were visits to Dr. Abel’s office brought on by earaches, sore throats, measles, and flu. But the visits to his office were not the ones I remember in those cases. It was the house call he made when I had an extreme case of chicken pox that stands out in my mind, even as I type this. He was there late in the evening, because he had been caring for so many others during the day that it was the only time he had available. But he came to our home as though there were no other options. And he cared. He always cared.

Perhaps that’s why he came back to our small town after finishing medical school. Because he cared—not about money, fame, or prestige. Those were not to be found in Wakarusa, Indiana, at the same level to which he could have found them in a larger city, where his work hours may have been less time-consuming and where his notoriety may have brought greater wealth.

When I was in my twenties—long after my family had relocated to another state—it struck me just how good I had it back in the small town that I had always considered my “hometown.” So I sat, then, as I do now, to write my thoughts of gratitude. I wrote a personal, handwritten note, thanking Dr. Abel for not only his care for those of us who lived in Wakarusa but also for his generosity of spirit that we experienced on a regular basis. I thanked him for his care through the years. I thanked him for opening his family’s private pool to the public a few days a week so that we could have a “public pool” in our diminutive community. I thanked him for quietly leading the youth of our town through his love for and support of the athletic programs. He brought in “outside” speakers such as Gale Sayers and other well-known sports figures to speak for the sports banquets at our local school; he served (seemingly) tirelessly to encourage other businesses in our town, and I wanted him to know that I was grateful for all of this. I expected nothing in return. I simply needed to share the gratitude that was in my heart.

To this day I weep when I recall the eight-page, double-sided, handwritten letter I received from Dr. Abel in response to mine. He told me of his own activities within the community, updated me on the current locations and vocations of his children, and in true Dr. Abel form, spent at least one of those pages asking about my family members—by name. It is quite possibly one of the dearest and most thoughtful letters I have ever received.

When my father passed away, Doc Abel was first in line at the visitation, tenderhearted and gracious—caring beyond the walls of his title or his office boundaries. And since that time, I have seen him care for my mother’s health with the same sincerity of concern and care that I recalled from my early years in that sweet, blessed small town.

So why use an entire blog post on a devotional site for women to remember a small-town doctor? Because, when I heard on Saturday of his passing from this earth, I was reminded that though he was as human and prone to do wrong as the rest of us, Dr. Abel used his gifts, talents, and abilities to help others. He gave; he served; he cared. In doing so, he taught multiple generations the joy and the importance of doing the same. This is the stuff that true heroes are made of.

In conversations with one another nearly fifty years ago now, my father and Dr. Abel, friends made so by their love for the people of this small Indiana town, spoke of their mutual faith in the one true and living God. They both now worship that God in heaven, face to face. So I close by simply stating that my prayer for the family and friends of Dr. Robert Abel, my hero, is that they will allow the joy of his gain to eclipse the sorrow of this true earthly loss.

 

Destination: Known

The Captain’s Corner

petals-photo-of-joeWelcome aboard!

This was my familiar and repeated greeting to passengers boarding our airline flights. Now I greet you, dear reader, and welcome you to the inaugural writing of “The Captain’s Corner.” Yes, welcome aboard!

My goal for the “Corner” is to share life lessons that I have learned—not because I’m superior in example or exceptional in achievement, but because of what God has taught me through His Word.

Thinking of an airline flight and passengers reminds me that life is full of what I call “be sure” situations: “be sure” that the fuel is on board; “be sure” that the right destination is planned; “be sure” that this switch is on or that this switch is off; “be sure” that the flight plan is correct; and the list goes on.

All flights have a destination. The pilot wants the navigation—also known as getting from origin to destination—to be certain so that there is no doubt that the destination will be reached. Be-sure navigation (my own terminology) begins with making a good departure—always starting from a known position.

“If you don’t know where you’ve been, you can’t find out where you’re going” (original author unknown). In a similar way, every life has a destination—a forever living place. That’s why believers need a “be-sure” verse. A be-sure Bible verse provides a specific beginning—a definite departure point for walking with God toward an eternal destination.

During my college years, claiming a be-sure verse put a stop to my doubts of God’s forgiveness of my sins, ending my dependence on what I thought I had to do and helping me to receive and accept what God had already done to give me an eternal destination with Him. My personal be-sure verse is Romans 10:13: “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Because I knew that I had called on His name, I knew that I was saved!

If you have not already done so, you can be certain of your departure point; ask Christ to be your Savior, and He will! A be-sure verse will help to give you the confidence that your destination is secure and that your path is firmly established!

I look forward to our next “flight” here in The Captain’s Corner!

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Joe Henderson, Brenda’s husband, is a retired international airline captain and will be blogging in “The Captain’s Corner” on a regular basis.