Saturday, February 10, 2018


This is Bekah, our younger daughter- isn't she beautiful?  She's going to be 17 in just a couple weeks.  This picture is just so her.  She's coordinated her hair, the flowers in her hair, her shirt, her skirt. She's not prissy, she just likes pretty things and she's always had her own sense of style.  No way is she going somewhere without thinking about what she'll wear and how she'll do her hair.  It only takes her about 5 minutes, but she always looks put together.  She's practical.  She'll roll her eyes if she thinks you're being a drama queen. If some one is upset, she'll reason with them until they're smiling again. She only cries in the bathroom. She hates people seeing her cry. Occasionally, she'll cry on her Daddy's shoulder, but only if they're alone. If given the choice of going out or staying in, she'll most likely stay in.  She loves babies and children. She's a great artist.  She goes to bed early, so she can have some alone time- living in a house with 11 people can be exhausting for an introvert. She's very smart and quick.  She's decisive.  She's great at making people feel comfortable.  She's just a dear soul and so very easy to love.

Bekah's feast...

It's Spring!!  Well, maybe the snow outside doesn't agree with that statement, but in Bek's world, IT'S SPRING!!!  She decorated her table with vase after vase of spring flowers. (She bought an arm full of them at the dollar tree. As practical as ever, she said she'll decorate with them later, also, and use them in hair creations.) She used some paper from her huge roll and painted a Spring themed picture. Green tree, rolling hills and blue skies with a sun and puffy clouds. She taped this to cover the window. Bek gave each person their own pack of flower seeds- except, Bill who got watermelon.  She also gave us a 6 cell pack of potting soil.  I was kinda surprised at how much the kids enjoyed this gift- especially the boys.  I guess living in the middle of hundreds of acres of farmland might give you an appreciation for dirt- the guys were smelling it like perfume.  Talking about how much they missed gardening.  I'll remind them of this moment in July when they are so over hoeing. After all of our seeds were planted,  her meal started with two small pancakes on a small, flowered, dish and two little smokey links and a sliced and fanned out strawberry. I wish I could describe to you how special everyone felt that she had made their plates not only delicious but pretty.  That's Bek.  She had breakfast for dinner- scrambled eggs, kielbasa, sausage gravy and biscuits, fried potatoes and creamed tomatoes. Wow was everything good! I think almost everyone had seconds.  She had lemonade to drink. Her dessert was key lime pie. Amazing.  It was such a wonderful evening. 

Bill spoke from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8  A time to sow and a time to reap. A time for everything.

Bek's table

Monday, February 05, 2018


This is John and he hates getting his picture taken. So I have my revenge and post all four of them.  He's 21 yo. He works for a commercial security company. He's very generous. Early every morning, before he leaves for work, he makes sure the fire is stoked and ready for the day.  He isn't even going to be there to enjoy the fruits of his labors. He likes getting up early.  Drinking his coffee and watching the sun rise. He can always be called on to stop by the store on his way home from work.  And he never lets me pay for anything. He loves his family. Especially the "Little Ones."  The ones that are younger than him. He is always wrangling them into a movie, a game. He doesn't really care what as long as they are doing it together.  He's very social, but he'll never admit to it.  He was born about 150 years too late.  He likes pioneering and survivalist pastimes. Yes, he's eaten frogs and snakes. And probably a few things he hasn't told his mom about. He's very creative. He's pretty hard to rile. His cousin just told him that he didn't like something John cooked- John didn't ask him for his opinion, mind you.  In my mind, I'm thinking that's pretty rude.  In John's mind, he's laughing at his cousin's ability to be either clueless that he's rude or shameless that he's rude.  Either scenario, John's amused. He's up to no good, but he sure is easy to love.

John's Feast...

John's theme was "Settlers of Catan."  It's a board game that he and his brothers and cousins play. I have never played it, but I got a pretty complete overview of the game.  He set the table with the game board and things that you need to collect to "settle" with- like wood, straw, bricks and coal. He even carved a giant play piece(the robber) as the center piece.  He had boards set up around the room depicting what cards you need to order what's on the menu. The cards were scattered on the table top. When you gave him your cards, he would serve you your dish. For appetizers, he had chocolate and peanut butter stuffed crescent rolls and jalapeno popper dip with crackers. Of course, all the food was slightly encoded. The crescent rolls were happy moon rolls.  The dip was white people and dip. John, John, John. Then he had Chuck Wagon Casserole (Toss Cart Casserole) and Farmer's Pie(Shepherd's dessert). Garlic crescent rolls.  Orange juice, or Capri Sun(Short pants sun). For dessert he had his chocolate peanut butter pie(A nut's anti depressant pie.) He had an assortment of gifts.  He usually gives gifts with his feast instead of Christmas gifts.  There were slippers and yarn. Knives and craft supplies.  And several boxed sets of games. Which have already been a big hit. We were stuffed to the brim- John insisted he make two casseroles of each. And yet, we didn't have as much leftover as I thought we would. It was a great feast.

Bill read 1 Peter 2:4-12  Aliens and strangers in this land.  We might be settling Catan, but we're trying not to get too comfy here. 

Monday, January 29, 2018


This is my nephew, Phil- 21yo. He has been living here in Indiana for almost three years.  My older brother's youngest son.  Are you amazed that he's lasted this long?  I am.  You see, every household does things differently.  It's easy to take it for granted that everybody does things the same way you do.  Then you drop a 19 year old boy in the mix... There's a lot of adjusting and he has done wonderfully.  He's developing into quite the young man.  He has his own flooring company.  He says pets are his job security. He likes wood working, and working on his van. He's basically thoughtful- he is a 21 year old man, after all, so we can't set the bar too high.  I don't think he likes sports, particularly. Now that I think about it, I'm not sure how to describe him. He likes "Good Mythical Morning" and "The Red Green" show.  He gets really, really loud when he plays video games.  His favorite pastime is eating meat. A lot of meat. He does anything I ask of him and he's just an easy guy to love.

Phil's feast...

The older kids take care of their own feasts.  I might stir a pot for them here and there, but basically, they do all of the heavy lifting- including buying the groceries for their feast.  His theme was a cowboy ranch.  Bill was the rancher and I was the wife.  The kids were all cow pokes.  (Phil has been struggling with a cold- he's from Arizona and I'm thinking he doesn't have the same germs out there.  His poor lungs turn to soup whenever he gets sick. To prevent the spread of germs, we had an outlaw fixin' the vittles.  Phil tied a bandanna around his face.)  His appetizers were chunks of jerky and these cookie things that were shaped like cigars.  Apparently cow pokes smoke a lot of cigars.  He fixed two pot roasts- one venison and one beef.  This was our opportunity to compare the beef with the venison and figure out which one we liked beast.  It was unanimous. The venison had the best flavor, and the beef had the best texture.  But given the choice they'd all go with the venison.  Country kids, I guess.    Lots of potatoes, carrots and onions.  Baked beans cooked with bacon in a huge iron skillet. Cowboy bread(No knead bread that's cooked in a dutch oven.  Jacob's favorite.) Sweet tea for his beverage.  He fixed banana cream pies for dessert- that boy loves banana cream pie.  Our gifts were these really cool bandannas in a variety of colors so everyone had their own color. Came in handy as napkins, but Eva and Bekah immediately put them in their hair.  It was a wonderful feast- just homey and warm.

Bill reviewed the scriptures in the new testament that tell us to flee.  Some things you fight and some things you run away from.  Either way, there's a battle to be won.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018


This is Eva and she'll be 19 in a month and a half.  What a girl!  She's a real nurturer.  She takes care of her nieces and she takes care of an older gentleman from church.  And she talks to them the same.  No baby talk or patronizing.  She puts her whole heart into things- whether it's the dishes or her Bible study.  (Some people may not know this about Eva, but she had epilepsy for years and now she is symptom free, but it's put it's mark on her.  I'll never forget that first EEG.  The technician turned the lights down for Eva to go to sleep- she had no problem with that- she was exhausted from the seizures.  As soon as Eva fell asleep, the technician frowned at the screen, raised her hands to her lips and said, "Poor girl." Her eyes started to tear up and she went straight to the phone and connected to the Dr. directly and said he needed to see her, today.  After years of medication, Eva is physically healthy.  But when you have seizures almost every minute of every day, you forget what you just heard or were doing directly before and directly after each seizure.  So there were a lot of gaps for her.  To this day, she gets a little panicky if she doesn't understand your directions right away.  After she calms down and we go over it again, she does the job with confidence.)  She's sweet and thoughtful.  She loves to give gifts- mostly things she has made herself.  She's truly kind. Every one loves her. She's easy to love.

Eva's Feast...

Eva is an artist.  Everything she does and sees is in comparison to something artistic.  So her feast had an "Art" theme.  As her gifts for her guests, she had painted the covers of little notebooks- different for each personality.  Her table was set with multi-colored lights. And lots of bottles of paint and markers and colored pencils.  She placed a couple white paper place mats at each seat for people to draw on.  She had drinks in every color scattered around her table.  She asked if maybe it was too much clutter- no it was perfectly "Eva."  Amid her art supplies, she had a build your own fruit salad thing going on. With the cold weather, everyone loved the fresh fruit. (She did use canned peaches- no way was I paying $1.50 for a hard peach.)  The fruit bowls were topped with a vanilla creme and brown sugar.  When she took the fruit bowls away she replaced them with bowls of fillings for tacos.  She made the soft taco shells herself and did a stellar job.  I know what I won't have to do the next time I make tacos! See?  She's capable. Everyone loved building their own tacos. For dessert she had crepes- chocolate, strawberry, or apple pie. Those were a huge hit.  The guys decided we should make a tradition of crepes every  Sunday evening after church. We had such a good time.  At the end of the meal, she gave us about 3 minutes to draw out our favorite part of the feast.  All the girls and Abe drew pictures of Eva.  Tim drew a fruit salad, but Phil and John drew crepes. John figured he needed to make his different from Phil's, so he added airplane wings and wrote "Go Places" on his paper. I'm not sure where the airplane idea came from.  That's John.  Joe judged the drawings and he choose John's.  The prize was a hat- it couldn't have gone to a more appreciative recipient- he loves hats.

Bill read 1 Tim 6:1-12. Be on guard against the love of money and worldliness. We are to flee from those things as men of God and pursue godliness and righteous things.

Her colorful palette

Saturday, January 13, 2018

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 put 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. 

This year, we've had to postpone our feasting to the month of January.  Bill and I work with an online gift shop and December is crazy busy. We wanted to be able to take our time and really waller in the fun and festivities of our feast days activities. Plus, we figure January needs a major boost in it's holiday appeal- no offense to Martin Luther King, Jr. So here we go!

Tim:  This is our nephew, Timothy. He's my older brother's son.  Tim is 24 and a big man. He's over 6' and is just big to boot. His grandfather calls him "the gentle giant."  And he is very gentle.  It's difficult to describe him as he's very quiet and not the easiest guy to get to know. (A little back story: he came to live here in May of this past year.  His brother, Phil, also lives here.  They work together in Phil's flooring business. They're from Arizona, but they're good sports about the cold weather.)  Tim likes to work.  Video games. Cook. He is one of those unusual guys who doesn't waste time trying to prove he's a man- he just is.  He has a funny way about him- he rarely answers questions- especially if he doesn't want to.  When asked, "What did you do, today?" and he spent the day playing video games, he doesn't want to be judged.  So he just keeps doing what he's doing and ignores the question all together.  While you stand there wondering if he's going to answer.  Nope, I guess not. If you don't expect a big conversation, he's very easy to spend time with. He's easy to love.

Curry House.  That was his theme for his feast.  I asked him if he had every been to a curry house, and he said no, but his sister had made curry for them a couple times.  He'd like to have a curry house, someday.  That's Tim.  I don't usually help the older guys with their feasts- much.  I'll stir for them while they work on something else.  Maybe make a suggestion or two.  But that's the sum of what I do. He had spent the day making these luminary wrappers for candles. Each one had a different letter for the words CURRY HOUSE. He lined them up across the table.  Added to the twinkle lights we already have in the room, the light was really very warm. He wasn't sure how much to make for 10 people.  The recipe he got off a manga website was for 4 people... so he made enough for 20, just to be safe.  No one minds leftovers around here. Now, believe it or not, I have a lot of big pots and bowls. He used every single one of them! The kitchen was like something from a movie- you know, the ones where they have every surface stacked high with messy pots and pans and the chef is at the oven cooking a masterpiece.  Once Tim added the curry to the pan, everyone in the house knew what he was up to in the kitchen.

He invited his guests in and they were suitably impressed with his table settings.  He had brought in a small table(a sewing machine cabinet- I don't know where that came from;-) into the dining room and sat the rice and chicken curry on it for people to help themselves. Eva and Bekah especially love curry and often ask for it for their birthday meal.  There were no complaints.  Apparently that Manga site knew what they were talking about. So we ate and ate.  It was funny- the meal was just like Tim.  There was no appetizer.  No side dishes.  No dessert.  No beverage- aside the iced tea I made at the last minute.  He said he figured everyone would get full on the curry.  And we did. 

Bill read Colossians 1: 24-29.  Christ is in us but we are also in Christ. 

Monday, January 30, 2017

Image may contain: 1 person, standing, hat and indoor

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.