Monday, January 30, 2017

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John's Feast...

This is John. He's 20 and a real sweetheart. He has a sunny disposition and a twinkle in his eye. He does drive me bonkers, sometimes. He has the disconcerting habit of blowing things up, knocking things down, catching things on fire, cutting things... you get the picture. Most people don't know that John has dyslexia. While reading can be a real challenge- one he meets head on because he's just that determined, it also means that his brain looks at things differently. Amazingly. We go outside and think- it's windy. John goes outside, thinks it's windy and says, " A windmill would be cool. I'll make one." And he does. No YouTube or Google required. He just has it in his brain. He's a puzzle solver without realizing it was a puzzle to begin with. He's a real DaVinci engineer. John likes people and finds them entertaining. He's not easily offended. And he's a joy to be around.
His feast had a "Warfare" theme. Because nothing says "peace on earth" like war. The first room involved sitting on the floor in the dining room- a few kerosene lamps and some wood in the center to represent a camp fire. With theme music, we were transported to the Civil War. He served beanie weenies, hoe cakes and sliced peaches/pears for his appetizer. When we were finished that, we were bombarded(pun intended) with the sounds of gunfire and bomb blasts. John was screaming that we needed to evacuate as he handed us helmets. We were forced to duck through a tunnel into the living room where the couches were arranged like trenches. Yep, WWII. He served noodles and Balkan meatballs in cans- which he harvested from the peaches and pears. The sound of bullets whistling past. Ok, that was kind of fun. A band of brothers and all that. Next thing we know, helicopter noises are drowning us out and John's yelling at us to bug out. We had to belly crawl under razor wire to make it to a jungle of bamboo hanging from the ceiling. Jungle noises all around. Yep, Vietnam. We all crawled into a tent and ate cheesecake cupcakes with cherries and an army man on top. Shew. His feast was a real work out! He took most of the day rearranging furniture, constructing sets, cooking and finding his sound tracks- I think Sonia played a big part in all of that, too. Bless her heart. It really was a great feast.

Monday, January 02, 2017

Abraham's Feast...

This is our dear Abraham.  He is 13 years old and our youngest. He's shy, not awkwardly so.  Quiet.  He is an avid reader and gamer. Abraham is a big thinker, but unlike most deep thinkers, it doesn't seem to cause him angst. Harry Potter is very popular with him.  I think he's as attached to my chickens as I am- and that's saying something.  They love him and will perch on him any chance he gives them.  Most chickens aren't cuddlers, but they are around Abe.  He is a dedicated worker and doesn't give up until the job is done. Everyone enjoys his company.  He's peaceful, calm and even tempered.  Come to think of it... I don't think I've ever seen him angry. Maybe I should be worried.  But he is the least worrisome kid I've ever met. Abraham is a delight.  

He had an amazing feast.  Each year, I expect there to be a problem with the children coming up with something new, and each year, they bring it home.  Something new and imaginative.  People always ask me where they get their ideas from and I can honestly say, I have no idea.  Are you ready?  

Abe had a "midnight snack" feast.  We've had to celebrate our feasts later in the evening, this year.  Joe closes his store at 7pm and by the time he gets everything squared away, he usually doesn't get home until close to 8:30pm. We are all happy to wait as it just wouldn't be the same without him.  Our son Jacob gets up at 3:30am for work and so it's past his bedtime, but he's been a sport. Technically, it wasn't midnight, but it worked.  

When Abe invited his guests to his feast he told them that they had to wear their pajamas.  Everyone was more than happy to comply. The table was set with one of my favorite possessions- an old white enameled kettle- filled with poinsettia and berries.  Some twinkly lights. Other than that, the table was bare.  No one sets the table for a midnight snack.  He handed out fuzzy socks for the girls and thick wool socks for the guys.  Everyone knows your feet get cold when you sneak downstairs to satisfy those late night munchies.  They do around here, anyway.  His appetizer was cereals- the good stuff.  No bargain brands.  Golden Grahams, Cocoa Puffs, Reeses, and Apple Jack's. Kinda funny how much everyone enjoyed that. He used Styrofoam bowls so there wouldn't be any dishes to wash.  (That boy hates washing dishes.  But he does that chores one week out of every three.  I don't care how much of a "Betty Homemaker" you consider yourself, there's nothing fun about washing dishes- with no dishwasher- for 9 people.) He had milk as his beverage- with strawberry and chocolate Quick.  He walked his guests to the kitchen- in the dark- to retrieve their cold cut sandwiches from the frig.  Ham, roast beef, turkey.  Pre-made and individually wrapped.  He brought out a vegetable tray and condiments, chips to go with them.  The mood in the room was just the way it feels to raid the kitchen when you're hungry late at night. Relaxed and chill- just like Abe. Everyone was laughing- some to the point of tears. His dessert was ice cream, of course.  Chocolate chip cookie dough, death by chocolate, and Butterfinger.   Everyone was primed to climb into bed. 

This is where things get fuzzy.  I've had just a terrible head cold- is there any other kind?  But I can't remember Bill's talk. I hope this doesn't make me a bad person.  I'm sure it was something encouraging.  

Monday, December 19, 2016

Evabeth's Feast...

This is our sweet Evabeth.  She'll be 18 in a couple months and that seems hardly possible.  Eva is a dedicated artist- she draws and paints every day.  She loves to read.  Not as much as she likes to draw.  She's a hard worker and a big help to me and to others.  She is sensitive and kind. She's concerned about people and does what she can to make sure they're taken care of. She has a goofy sense of humor.  It's almost more than she can bear to pull up beside someone on the road and not make a silly face at them. I wish you could see some of the looks she gives people.  Adults bust out laughing and kids look completely shocked that someone her age would do that.  Eva skips through stores and across parking lots.  She's a joy to be around.

Eva started her feast with meatball appetizers.  Then she offered everyone appetizers... and then she offered them appetizers... She had a deja-vu feast.  We're all like, "Wait.  Didn't we just have appetizers?"  It took a little while for everyone to realize what was going on.  She kept repeating herself and had some people thinking we were having an Alzheimer's feast. She set the table with a cloth covered in wildflowers.  (I have quite a collection of table clothes thanks to my good friend, Sandy.)  She lit all of the oil lamps and there was a nice old fashioned feel to the room.  Eva is kind of like that.  Old-fashioned.  Her main dish was a thick venison stew in crusty bread bowls- no one minded the whole deja-vu theme when it came to getting seconds of the stew.  The weather has been quite nippy, so it really hit the spot.  She had banana punch for her drink. For dessert, she made a huge jumble berry trifle with both sponge cake and angel food cake and a cream cheese filling.  It was wonderful.  Her gifts were little squishy animals that would light up when you bounced them. 

Bill spoke on Hebrews 12:1 "Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us."  It takes a conscious effort to lay aside encumbrances.  Things that drag us down when we're running a race.  Things that entangle us.  Reminds me of when I was a child.  We would go up on the mountain to pick blackberries.  You would pick one berry and then another, reaching ever deeper into the brambles for that one berry just beyond reach.  Before you knew it, you were entangled.  The thorns would grab a hold of you and it would take acrobatics to unwind yourself from their grasp.  Sin is like that. You drift closer to it without even realizing it and then it has a grip on you.  No way to get out without some pain and bloodshed.  But being free from it is so worth it. Lay it aside. Disentangle. Endure.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Bekah's Feast...

This is our sweet Rebekah. She's almost 16 and she's an introvert.  Most people assume she's shy.  She really isn't.  She just doesn't seek people out.  She likes people- if you take the time to start a conversation with her, you'll never find someone more personable.  She likes to read and draw. She draws pictures of fairies with antlers.  I'm not sure what that means. She isn't overly emotional- if the book has a sad ending, she's still likely to say it was a great book (where Eva wouldn't even want to talk about it.)  Bekah's my Barnabus.  She's full of encouragement.  If you're doing well, she cheers you on and when things aren't going so well, she'll put things in proper perspective and cheer you up. She's great at reassurance.  She's very grown up for her age- in spite of the whole girls with antlers thing.  She's a joy to be around.

Her feast was Saturday night.  She had a Jane Austin theme.  It was spectacular!  She was dressed for the part and had her hair swept up in a torrent of curls.  Borrowed my pearls.  The table was set with linen and lace, china and crystal.  She had candlesticks with white tapers.  The napkins were lacy handkerchiefs- Joe whispered to me during the meal if it was alright to use them.  She had the theme music from the Pride and Prejudice movie playing when she invited her guests in.  Upon each plate, sat copy of Captain Wentworth's legendary love letter, folded neatly and sealed with wax.  I can hear all of the women out there swooning!  Every male family members' copy had lines highlighted and they had to take turns around the table reading their lines, out loud.  Bekah figured a great love letter should be in every man's repertoire.  Hearing Phil get all poetical... now that was funny.  But he gave it a very good effort -as all of the guys did.  And with the candle light... yeah, it was very romantic.  

All of her dishes were set on the table- pretty bowls and platters. Her appetizer was scones- fresh cranberry and chocolate chip.  She had a variety of teas.  And I was surprised by how the guys jumped on that boat.  Abe has taken to drinking hot tea ever since.  Her main dish was a spiral sliced ham, boiled red jacket potatoes("What excellent boiled potatoes. Many years since I've had such an exemplary vegetable." ~Mr. Collins Pride and Prejudice),  steamed peas, steamed carrots, gravy(in a real bowl and gravy ladle.  I didn't even think I owned one!  Around here, gravy usually involves a soup ladle.) fresh pineapple and mandarin oranges, and buns. (Can I just take a moment and relate a reality that may only exist in the Koen household?  We don't pass dishes at the table.  Ever.  There are so many people, the dishes that hold that much food are just too heavy or ungainly to pass.  Plus, we have no dishwasher that doesn't sound an awful lot like someone's name. So we either set the pot in the middle of the table and a couple people help dish it out for everyone else or we eat buffet style from my Grandma's hutch.  On Bekah's feast night, we passed dishes.  How cool was that?  Like real people. Boy, did that girl have a lot of dishes to wash!)  She kept  everything replenished so we never ran out.  The food was excellent. She had sparkling punch for her beverage.  Dessert was orange sherbet and biscuits(Danish butter cookies.)  For her gifts, she gave pens with big feathers taped to them. I almost forgot, she had little quotes from some of Jane Austin's books written on slips of paper scattered around the table.  The kids had fun guessing which book the quotes were from. If you're considering reading a Jane Austin novel, we all agreed that Persuasion is the best. It was a magical night. 

Bill spoke on Philippians 4.  Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest,  whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. 
 ~think on these things  ~do these things  ~not optional. 

Captain Wentworth's letter to Anne Eliot:

I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in F. W.
"I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father's house this evening or never."  

Friday, December 09, 2016

Joe and Laurie

Feast Days!!!!!!

It's that time of year, again, for the Koen family to celebrate December with feasts.  Each child secretly prepares a feast for the rest of family. As you know or, as you'll learn, they pt a lot of creativity in preparing and plotting and planning for this special opportunity to amaze their brothers and sisters. I love how excited they are to be generous in their thoughtfulness towards their family. They would never choose a food that they knew someone didn't care for.  They are amazingly knowledgeable about each others' likes and dislikes.  It's a true feast.  Complete with decorations, food food and more food, gifts, rowdy laughter and lots of thankfulness.  Nothing like having someone serve you to make you realize how blessed you are to have people who love you and care about you. 

Joe and Laurie...

Joe is our oldest son and Laurie is his sweet wife. I don't think they're very much alike.  But they are both very unique so I guess that makes sense.  Joe is serious with a sharp wit. In a good way.  He's very quiet.  Not shy, he just doesn't get rowdy.  Ever.  He's the epitome of "calm cool and collected."  If you ever see him in a panic... you'd never know it.  He's the top dog around here and nobody messes with him. And yet, he's very gentle. He's generous and kind. He likes to smile. He's a joy to be around. Laurie is sunny.  She's easily amused in a charming way.  Yes, she's charming.  She has a very southern accent, but she doesn't think she has an accent. She likes big hugs. She has a strong bond with words- ones she reads, ones she writes and ones she speaks.  She's caring.  She's game for anything.  For all her girlie ways, nobody messes with her, either.  It might be her association with Joe, but I suspect it has something more to do with her. She really is a joy to be around.

Epic Feast
Their feast was EPIC.  That was the theme.  An epic feast. After all of the years that we have been having feasts, it's hard to believe one would be more epic than another... but this one certainly lived up to its name.  The table was left suspiciously clear.  No table cloth or twinkly lights.  No china or silverware.  But then, the epic feast started to arrive.  First there was the "wienie bag."  Everyone got a wienie bag.  First, if you felt you needed to use the wienie bag, you had to put on the pink tiara provided.  The bags held a big plastic serving spoon, a baby bib, and a tiny little cup.  Bear with me. The drinks arrived in personalized two liters.  Each person had their own 2-liter of their favorite pop.  No cups... do you need a cup?  Then put on the pink tiara and retrieve the tiny cup from the bag. A sissy cup because you can't bring yourself to swig from a 2-liter bottle.  Then there was the appetizers.  Laurie had never made yeast bread before and now she made the hugest bread sticks you've ever seen- they were bread logs. They were wonderful.  We were all impressed.  Queso- a crock pot of queso.  (There's an unusual habit of people in East Central Indiana.  They eat queso- a traditional Mexican cheese sauce- with their pizza. Weird, huh?  But we are in the Midwest and we put cheese an everything.) Got some queso on your fingers?  Well, put on that pink tiara and get yourself a bib 'cause only babies need a napkin. So the main course was epic pizza.  There were two epic pizzas.  Each involved  5 pizzas, with smaller pizzas in between the pizzas, and pizza rolls in between the pizzas and queso and bacon and sausage and more cheese and one had sauteed veggies in it.  They must have weighed 20lbs, each!  Baked til steaming hot and epic.  Phil was in awe and John was speechless. I think they were intimidated.  Cutting into it had everyone rolling with laughter.  It was just so over the top!  One slice was like ten!  Need a fork for your pizza?  Yep, put on the pink tiara and use that big serving spork.  There were a lot of tiaras worn around that table.  And it was very tasty.  Boy, did we have leftovers...  no one has complained.  Dessert was epic.  She had made chocolate eclair cake in my roaster that holds a 30 pound turkey. She had to remove two shelves in my frig just to get it to fit.  It was delicious. The gifts for their guests were these nifty flashlights- who couldn't use a flashlight? It was an epically epic feast.

Bill read from James 4.  "To the man who knows the right thing to do and does it not, to him it is sin."  We know that verse.  But in the context, there's a lot of discussion about arrogance and selfishness.  Those are two big things that keep us from doing the right thing.  The thing we know we should do but don't because we don't want to or we don't think we should have to.      

Saturday, January 02, 2016

L-R Dan, Sonia, Laurie, Joe, Phil, Eva, Bekah, Kim, Paul, John, Mary, Jacob, (Abe- who didn't quite get in the frame)

Nines Feast...

Well, this is it.  The conclusion of Feast Days 2015.  Kinda hate to see it go.  But we sure did have fun. 

My feast is always a simple affair.  I don't have a theme or give gifts.  I just cook all day long.  Which is fun for me.  I don't curtain off the kitchen and keep the menu a surprise.  What's the fun in being sequestered from my beautiful family?  I fixed a turkey and ham dinner with all the fixings.  So much food we had to string it along the counter and then the stove and then the counter some more.  But, that's a lot of people needing to eat. 18 in all.

William and Nines
Joe and Laurie
Dan and Sonia
Jacob and Mary, Esther and Lidia
Paul and Kimberly, Onesimus

My whole family with their feet under the table.  That's a good feeling and I admit to sobbing my head off after the prayer.  How embarrassing, but it couldn't be helped.  I was just that happy. Can you imagine a day when all of my friends and family will have their feet "under the table?"  I want to make sure you're all there.  Hear God's word and believe it.  Confess what you believe. Turn away from the wrong that you've done. Wash those things away with baptism.  Live a new life. I'll be sobbing my head off with joy when you get there.  

Saturday, December 26, 2015

William's Feast...
This is my sweet William.  The guy in the scarf. We have been married 28 years and he's my best friend.  I love hanging out with him- whether it's dinner and a movie or cleaning out a storage locker. I just don't want to be anywhere else.  He's always been a caregiver and he takes care of everyone who will let him. He's not afraid to get into your life, find out what you're needing and try his best to help you. He tends to think he's funnier than he really is which is funny in and of itself.  He sticks to what he believes is right and has a very good sense of logic. He's the father of all eight of my children.  A better Dad you couldn't ask for.  He's interested in his kids and is known to give really long lectures.  They say repetition is key to remembering things.  The proof is in the pudding and our kids are stellar people.   

 This is a Minion.  Just in case you didn't know.  Minions are adorable little creatures with a gleeful ambition of working for the world's biggest villain and dominating the world.  An oxymoron if ever there was one. 

William had a Minion feast.  He's "Gru" the world's greatest villain- complete with dark circles around his eyes. Ala Despicable Me.  It's a kids' movie.  When his guests arrived at the feast, they had to don their Minion costumes.  He thought that up all by himself. It was just hysterical. The goggles, head wear and mittens- because Minions don't have 5 fingers.  His table had a map drawn on it with strategies for dominating the world and yellow post-it notes with inspirational sayings on them.  Things like: "Not everyone has a death ray- but everyone wishes they did," "Rome wasn't built in a day- but it was destroyed in one" and " Even the mushroom cloud of an atomic bomb has a silver lining."  I wish I could remember all of them.  He had posters- pretty pages from a calendar- hanging all over the room with things like "Nuclear holocausts can make beautiful sunsets" and "Go green- as in money!"  Advice the Minions could use to dominate the world. 

He said that they had made the attempt twice before but had failed.  They needed more practice.  He assured me that I wasn't going to like this one. I hid inside the kitchen under the ruse of holding the baby. I did get some pictures. He gave them squirt bottles with some water in little cups.  They had to fill the bottles- with their mittens on- and spray each other.  Practice.  It was a good thing they had goggles on.  His senior Minions had squirt guns to fill and use because they were more of a challenge and he had higher expectations of them.  


His menu consisted of Twinkies- 'cause they look like Minions- and chocolate chip cheesecake dip with graham crackers. He had chili dogs and fries for his dinner and chocolate cake for dessert.  Lemonade to drink.  I grossly underestimated the number of hot dogs needed for this crowd.  I made 40, but with Philip eating 6- and wanting more- well, who knew it would be a competition?  (We were playing charades the other night and I drew "Phil."  All I had to do was act like I was eating and everyone guessed it.)  But we had a great time in spite of the hot dog shortage. 

Just to balance all this talk of world domination, Will read Matthew 6:33. "But seek first His kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you."  We have one job and God takes care of the rest.