Wednesday, October 14, 2020

A Fire... with a Miracle

Two weeks ago, on a Sunday afternoon,
 I received a text from my mother with this picture, 
The text said: "Mom was home alone but got out in time".  
Those were all the details we were given.


Looking at this picture now still gives me chills and it just doesn't seem possible. 


Later... we heard the rest of the story. 

This tragic fire took place in New Brunswick, Canada.  My Gram, who is blind and 90 years old, was home alone on Sunday afternoon.  She was waiting for my mother's weekly phone call, sitting in her chair, with the phone in her hand, when she heard what sounded like something falling off the roof.  She got up to go outside when the fire alarm began to go off.  She left the kitchen, walked through the porch, past the fuse box, and through fire and flames reached the outside porch.  My aunt, who lives just down the hill, had run up to try to get Gram out.  She had been banging on the windows and could not get through the door.  She heard a noise and turned to see my Gram standing on the porch steps, bewildered at what was going on.  My aunt grabbed my Gram and helped her walk to safety, and minutes later the porch was in flames, as can be seen in the above picture.  My Gram's animals, a cat and a dog did not make it out of the fire.  The dog was found on the porch that my Gram walked through!  

Gram did not have any smell of smoke or fire on her clothes and was completely unharmed.  It has been a miracle that we have rejoiced over, even as we have grieved the loss of the 103-year old home.  My Gram moved there when she was married, living there for 73 years! All of it, gone, in just a few minutes.  Treasures, keepsakes, pictures, memories, a lifetime of living, gone in just a few moments of time. My Aunt Jenny lived with her as well and had all of her life's possessions in that home too.  Gone in a short moment of time.  One of my uncles had just finished putting in over 10 cords of wood in the basement for the winter.  Gone... in just a few moments of time.  Treasures and keepsakes brought over from Denmark by my great-grandparents when they emigrated to Canada, gone... in just a few moments of time. 

But the miraculous thing is that my Gram was able to get out.  Even the dog, who was on the porch, did not make it out.  But Gram did.  Gram has been telling everyone that the Lord got her out, and we believe that the Lord walked her through the fire on the porch, and kept her safe.  Later, when you see the video, you will see what my aunt saw as she was running up the hill to try to get my Gram out.  She couldn't get to her.  But the Lord walked with Gram out of that fire, and we are so thankful to have Gram with us today! At 90 years old, she has become an evangelist, telling everyone what the Lord did for her! 


A picture of Gram with her cat just a few days before the fire.  She loved this kitty, and it sadly did not survive the fire, was found in my Gram's bedroom.  Had my Gram been taking a Sunday afternoon nap with kitty, it would have been a different story.  But she was sitting up, waiting on my Mom's phone call. God's hand of provision! 

The old home sitting up on the hill, in all of Fall's glory. 

The house that sat on this hill for 103 years... gone in just a few moments of time. 


My beautiful Gram, standing on her porch, this picture taken in early springtime. 


A recent picture of my Mom and Dad with my Gram and Aunt Jenny.  


Family members gathered to go through the ashes and save what little could be saved.  
One of the first finds was this book I made for my Gram after our 2018 visit. 


Out of the flames, a page from the book. 

This devotion was found in the fire... an incredible thing for all of us to see! 

One of the earliest finds was this beautiful devotion that survived the fire, with one of my favorite scriptures on it, Isaiah 26:3  "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee." I had mentioned this verse in my last post, as a verse that was bringing peace to all of us as we mourned the loss of this home full of such treasured memories.  And, the Lord truly has been the support, the glue, the foundation, and the strength for my Gram and Aunt Jenny as they've had to cope with the immensity of this loss in their life. 


More relics found from the fire... 


This picture of our family was also found! 

Another picture found, fire-damaged, but of my Mom, my Gram and myself. 

The grief all of us felt at the loss of this home, what it means for my Gram and Aunt Jenny, and how grateful we are for their lives being spared was shared in many different ways.  One of my cousins organized a GoFundMe account.  They are trying to get a place secured for Gram and Aunt Jenny before winter.  You can find more information about the GoFundMe account here:  Skaarup GoFundMe

Callum Smith, a TV reporter in Moncton, NB with Global News heard about the fire, and reached out to me and asked me if I would do an interview with my Gram.  He didn't realize that I live in Idaho!  I put him in contact with one of my aunts who helped him arrange the TV interview, and my Gram was able to tell her story to the world about how the LORD saved her from this fire.  You can watch the video here: TV interview with Callum Smith

My heart was full of emotion at the loss of my Gram's home of 73 years, and one night I sat down to write about it.  I'll share it with you below... 


The Old House on the Hill

A wooden beacon of love

Standing tall on the winding steep hill

Its stance intact for over one hundred years

With doors always open and its heart always full.

 

This was a home of the extraordinary

As God-fearing and hardworking Fred and Eva

Knit this home together in kindness and love

With generous doses of love and fun

That flowed from its inward being.


The oversized kitchen table with room for just one more

Fed many a hungry belly until they could eat no more

And not just with food for the body

But laughter, love, and great joy

Rich nourishment for the soul.

 

Oh if those walls could only talk once again

And share the memories within

Whispers of late-night conversations

Music played from the living room piano

Steps that ran up and down the stairs

Pitter-patter of furry animals that lived there

Yes, there were the pranks that were played

Jokes that were told, meals that were cooked

All while sharing great fellowship and love.

 

Little toddlers happily played, darting around

With treats on the sly when parents weren’t looking

Mounds of food graced that table

With the kitchen always open, night or day.

And even if one couldn’t eat another bite

Somehow they were pressed to make room for more.

 

Cries of praise and prayer daily lifted their wings

To the lofty heights of heaven’s throne room

From the generous rooms of this home.

While the creaky floors held their own secrets

And walls burst with their knowledge

Joy ran its river out the banks of its doors.

 

Outside great blooms and flowers swung on the porch

With many birds and bees enjoying their bliss,

Apple trees in fall shared their harvest

While wild strawberries in spring were a sweet treat.

Large pastures brought in loads of hay

And baseball games played with cow patty bases

Kept energetic grandkids entertained.

 

Always a bit of excitement when a car sped up the drive

Gram would peer out the large picture window

In the anticipation of a visitor from afar, a friend or a child

Coming to visit and brighten up her day.

 

She knew the cars by their sound in later years

When her eye’s light grew dim with darkness and shadows.

The large chair by the window became her resting place

And she managed the world of her home

With careful scrutiny from that chair.

Nothing missed her gaze and she could spot

A hungry stomach a mile away and insist it get fed.

 

Oh the games that were played at that kitchen table

Skip-Bo and Rummikub the family favorites

Helping hands came often to prepare meals

in later years and to provide company for Gram

As darkness and quiet pervaded her world.

The company of their help a great blessing.

 

The old homestead sat ready for winter

With its large appetite for wood satisfied

Down in the dark basement below.

 

Fall had settled in for a visit while

Winter was just a cold breath away.

 

But suddenly on that beautiful Fall day

the home’s sturdy beams now lay under piles of ash,

as the old house crumbled beneath

the heat of the flames,

its doors never to open again

or its walls to hear the sound of voices

mingled in laughter, praise, and delight.

 

But even though the old home’s remains

lie dark in ashes deep

its voice will ne’er grow silent

and its memories will forever speak

For its grandest work was done in the hearts

Of each one whose footsteps it did greet.

 

The memories made over one hundred years

Live on in sweet places deep within our hearts.

Its grandest days on earth may have ended

But its greatest work will last forever

In the hearts of those who loved and lived here.

 

Indeed, the greatest lesson

this old house aches to share

with all who mourn its loss

is one that we too, all must learn.

 

The lesson is simple yet diligent in its task

It speaks to us today a message,

Listen close and hear its groan

as this old house whispers its last bequest:

 

“Nothing on earth will remain the same

But your soul and its eternity

Will be that which forever will last.”

 

 

Marilyn Moseley, Granddaughter of Fred & Eva Skaarup


I went through some albums I have here with me, and found some old pictures I'd like to share with you of my grandparents and their home. 

A picture of my Gram & Grampie on their 25th wedding anniversary. 

Danielle, with Grampie, and my Mom. 

Danielle's first visit to Canada, she was 18 months old,
standing on the landing of the creaky old steps. 


The porch was filled with beautiful flowers! 







Here is a picture with my dear uncle who passed in a tragic accident 8 years ago, and my Grampie who has been gone for almost 20 years... my Gram busy working in the background... and you can see that table piled with food.  Good times!

From a little child, Danielle loved the piano, here she is trying to play,
while my Mom plays the piano in the living room.  Many happy hours were spent with piano music, as my mother, many of my aunts and cousins play the piano. 



This was the last time I saw my Gram, back in 2018, as we were saying our goodbyes. 
She was sitting in her chair, and it was hard for her to see us all leave, even though we'd had such a wonderful time.  We had plans to be there this summer for her 90th birthday celebration,
but covid changed all that.   

Ryan with Gram, saying goodbye in 2018.

My precious Gram... I miss her so much. 
We are so thankful that the Lord saved her from the fire,
and pray that we can all make it back to visit her someday
when all this covid stuff has settled down. 

Please keep my Gram and Aunt Jenny in your prayers,
this is a difficult time for them, yet the peace from the Lord that passes all understanding
is giving them strength for the days ahead.  

Isaiah 26:3 
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on thee. 












Wednesday, September 30, 2020

A Season of Harvest

The month of September has been a busy one... an early frost visit, a wild windstorm, a local fire, heavy smoke in our area, a birthday, new construction and a season of harvest in the middle of it all! I couldn't believe when I sat down to write this post that it is already the last day of September! Where has this month gone... I know it has been a very busy one. 

I'll let my pictures tell the story... 

I held a neighborhood garden harvest party in my garden. Neighbors brought a potluck dish and harvest to share.  We had a wonderful time sitting around and visiting, as many of us haven't seen each other since March with the covid.  It was such a wonderful event!

I used china for the evening, and everyone enjoyed it so much!
Most people don't use china anymore, but I still love to make use of it :) 


I love gathering flowers from my garden for a bouquet. 

My birdbath stayed busy this summer,
needing daily refills as the birds enjoyed daily baths. 

On Labor Day, we had a wild windstorm come through, uprooting trees on our property.
Thankfully there was no damage done. Because of this storm, several wildfires started, one 10 miles south of us.  Thankfully, that fire was not a threat to us. 

With the windstorm, came cold weather and 'Ole Man Frost
visited my garden on Sept. 7.  

My husband helped me to pick all my tomatoes, green beans, squash and potatoes 
because I knew it was going to frost that night. 


Some of the harvest that we brought in before the frost. 

We gathered the potatoes as well into this plastic tub, but I will be storing them
for winter in cardboard boxes. It was a great harvest! I planted about 2 pounds of potatoes. 

Inside my greenhouse, the tomatoes and peppers planted there are still flourishing, safe from the frost! 


Putting up the produce! I always can my tomatoes,
but I blanch and freeze green beans,
as we prefer to eat them freshly frozen. 

Sadly, the frost left its mark... but my sunflowers survived! 

I celebrated a birthday this month!  I met the kids for coffee and enjoyed a nice long visit with them, and then later in the evening, our son cooked dinner for us.  My daughter lives about an hour away now, and it was wonderful to have her come visit for the day :) 


Because of the wildfires in CA, WA and OR, we experienced
heavy smoke in our area for a couple of weeks. 

Captured this picture of the sun was hiding behind roadside weeds. 
An interesting perspective with the smoke-filled sky. 

Thankfully our sunny skies soon returned,
along with the brilliant colors of Fall!

And despite the visit of frost many times to my garden, still this sunflower stands! 
I can't tell you how happy this makes my heart to see this flower loving the bright Fall sunshine!

A late bloomer, this gorgeous rose with a decadent scent, bloomed late this month,
near the end of September, for the first time this year! What excitement to see such a huge bloom larger than my hand bloom this late in the year! 

On our evening walk with the dogs, it was a joy to behold the beautiful sunsets after the smoke had moved out of our area.  We never want to take for granted our clean fresh air that we breathe! 

Well, hasn't September has just flown by!  I can hardly believe tomorrow will be the first day of October.  We look forward to the brilliant colors of Fall in October, and I hope to share some of those pictures with you soon.  

With all the bad news that is in our world today, we can choose to focus on those things, or instead find beautiful things in our world to find joy and happiness in.  That is what I do each day.  As I walk morning and evening, there is something refreshing about lifting my face to the sky, and talking to the Lord, and just knowing that His creation runs in complete order because He has set it in motion.  This makes me know I can trust His ways, and His knowledge about every life situation, because He's been doing it a lot longer than me :) 

So if you are struggling with the worries and cares of life... take a walk into a forest, down by a stream, in a park or somewhere where there is natural beauty, and look into the skies, and around your world, talk to the Lord as you walk, and I do believe you will find your mind refreshed and renewed again to face whatever challenges lie in your world. 

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, 

whose mind is stayed on thee.  

Isaiah 26:3  

This verse has come to mean so much to my family recently, and in a day or two, I will share with you just why :)  


Many blessings to all of you! 

Monday, August 31, 2020

Summer's Finest Hours are Passing

Harvest season is upon us and summer's long hot days are waning, as cool north breezes begin to blow, hummingbirds have left for warmer climates, and the once lush green shrubbery and trees are beginning to show peeks of yellow and orange.  It always amazes us as we see the seasons so quickly transition from one to another.  This has been a beautiful summer in every way.  We have had no fires locally, and skies have been blue most of the summer.  For that, we are grateful beyond measure! My garden is decked out in glorious blooms, and it is a most delightful place to be this time of year!

These sunflowers grace the world with their glorious golden faces
that follow the sun's direction so faithfully. 

This little banty is one of the new little ones roaming our yard. She is a "Frizzle banty" chicken.. and just as sweet as she can be with her curly feathers! This is my first time to have a Frizzle chicken.  If you're like me and you didn't know what a Frizzle chicken was, here is a link to an article that helps explain them a little better.  Frizzle Chickens

And this orange-haired little boy has enjoyed taking many a nap in my lap
as I drink my morning coffee...
we both enjoy the sweet snuggles :) 

Kale has grown prolifically in my garden this year! 

One of the ways we enjoy kale is by making kale chips. 


They can be baked in the oven, or even on the grill! 


Kale chips are so easy to make! Once you've tried them, I am sure even your pickiest eater will love them.  They are salty, crunchy, and addictive!  

To make kale chips, preheat oven to 350. Strip the leaves from the stalks, about 10-15 large stalks is usually enough for one cookie sheet.  Cover the cookie sheet with tin foil and spread out the washed and dried kale leaves onto the tinfoil.  Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tsp of salt over the kale.  Mix together for several minutes with your hands, until the kale becomes fragrant and dark green.  Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until the kale has become crispy to touch.  Enjoy! 

Tomatoes growing happily on the vine... I am eagerly awaiting their ripening!



I planted sunflowers, pumpkins, and squash in this new bed that I made earlier this spring.  I layered straw, compost, peat moss, and several bags of garden soil in a long raised row.  I did not till this area, but just laid down newspaper on the ground, and built the layered row, as I wanted to try this method of gardening, and so far, things look really good! 

The entrance to my whimsical little tea and prayer garden area. 



Each week dear friends of mine meet for prayer here in my tea and prayer garden. 
It is a treasured and special time of the week for all of us.  I decorate the table with a fresh bouquet from my garden. Today I used kale and dill as well as my gladiolas, pincushion flowers, and one of my dahlias. I just love gathering a flower bouquet from my own garden! 

As the weather has begun to change, with a bit of nip in the morning air,
I decided it was time for a pot of chicken soup to grace our evening meal. 


Have you ever used nutritional brewer's yeast? It adds the most remarkable flavor to meaty soups... so much so that I don't buy chicken bouillon any longer, I just use the nutritional yeast.  So good for you, and really adds the best flavor to the meat dish! 

Enjoyed with a slice of my sourdough bread, with roses from my garden...
this soup was just perfect! 


I now have a website dedicated to the book I published earlier this year.  You can visit it at http://www.mountaintopspice.com    I will be sharing blog posts about the book on that website,
and it is also available to order there as well.  I will still be blogging here as always,
this is just a website dedicated to the book I wrote :) 

I dearly love the season of Fall, and it also means a busy harvest season too.  I have been putting up green beans, squash, peas, corn and tomatoes.  The potatoes are doing great, and I began harvesting them through the late summer.  It is a wonderfully busy time of year with the harvest season.  Are you harvesting produce from your garden or local farmer's market? It feels good to squirrel away food for the long winter months ahead.   

2020 has been such a roller coaster ride of a year... and now we are on the downhill slide for sure, as we enter the season of Fall.  Has Fall begun to make an entrance into your world yet? 

Many blessings to all of you, my dear readers :)