Düsseldorf, Köln, and more Christmas Markets

Here’s a look at Dusseldorf where Claire and Graham have lived these last 3 months.  We spent a week here with them, walking all over town and eating lots of delicious German food.  It’s so fun to feel Christmas in the air, and just enjoy it.

We met up for lunch with one of John’s missionary companions from 45 years ago!

On Sunday after church in Dusseldorf, we drove about an hour to Koln to visit the magnificent cathedral there and the 5 different Christmas markets in the area.  It was bitterly cold today, but we really enjoyed what we saw.

This is the bridge over the Rhine that takes you to the cathedral.  All along the bridge are millions of love locks attached to the bridge by lovers proclaiming their everlasting love!

The locks when on and on and on!  There was not a single inch of free space.  Someone once calculated there are 2 TONS of weight added to the bridge by all of these locks.

From Wikipedia:
The Koln Cathedral is Germany’s most visited landmark, attracting an average of 20,000 people a day.  At 157 m (515 ft), the cathedral is the tallest twin-spired church in the world, the second tallest church in Europe after Ulm Minster, and the third tallest church of any kind in the world.  It is the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe and has the second-tallest spires. The towers for its two huge spires give the cathedral the largest façade of any church in the world.

The cathedral suffered fourteen hits by aerial bombs during World War II. Badly damaged, it nevertheless remained standing in an otherwise completely flattened city. The twin spires were an easily recognizable navigational landmark for Allied aircraft bombing.

We spent the rest of that day enjoying the Christmas markets in Koln.

These are the ornaments that went home with us!

A group of Santas stopping for a beer!

Each of the 5 different Christmas markets had a different theme.  This one is the Angel Market.

This has been such a delightful way to spend our holiday!  We love being with Claire and Graham in this corner of the world!

Posted in Lewis Family | Leave a comment

Visiting Ad & Marjo Rietveld in Holland

One of the highlights of our first week was driving into the Nederlands to visit our dear friends, Ad & Marjo Rietveld and their daughter, Susan and her 2 girls.  John and Ad worked together for many years at WordPerfect.  For 3 years they were our neighbors in Orem when our kids were small.  We continue to be EsNet business partners.  What a wonderful reunion we had!

We went to a very fun pancake house for lunch.  They served sweet and savory pancakes, as large as pizzas!

A very small Christmas Market by the pancake house:  

Many years ago Marjo made this hand quilted beautiful quilt for me.  I decided her granddaughters would treasure it and should have it so I brought it back for them.  They were thrilled!

Posted in Lewis Family | Leave a comment

Düsseldorf’s Christmas Markets

After arriving in Düsseldorf this afternoon, the first thing Claire and Graham wanted to show us was one of the Christmas Markets here.  We bundled up and set off on a walk to see what we could see.  Oh, what fun we had wandering through crowds of people who were out celebrating this festive time of the year.

During the Christmas holidays the city centers and plazas are filled with kiosks and small portable shops and lots of food places.  These are some of the different kinds of shops we saw: chestnuts roasting in huge pans, cheeses, all sorts of roasted candied nuts, potato pancakes with applesauce, crepes with different toppings, paper star lights, mulled wine and beer everywhere, ornaments of every kind, woodworking, candles, glass work, scarves, churros, grilled mushrooms, ice rink and skaters, lots of Brats and Wursts, standing tables to eat at that were shaped like CMS Trees, Lebkuchen heart cookies, fried apple pancakes, pofertejes, potato spirals fried, donuts, Spaetzle with cheese, Swiss racklette and fondue, waffles and toppings, stolen and Christmas breads, pretzels, wreaths and ornaments with nice smells, lots of different kinds of toys, hot chocolate and more.

Oh, the Christmas tree ornaments!!

Graham met up with a group of his work associates.

It was a really fun evening and we stayed awake way longer than we expected, after missing a full night of sleep last night.  It’s good to be here, in the land of my fathers, celebrating this wonderful Christmas season.

Posted in Ann Lewis | Leave a comment

Our Christmas Trip Begins!

Last Christmas was our fist home after Africa.  All the kids and grandkids came and we loved celebrating all of our family traditions with all of our little family.  This year Adam and Heidi and their kids will stay in St. Louis, where Adam is tied to his medical residency.  Aaron and Abbey are here by us, but they’ll celebrate with her family in Salt Lake.

Claire and Graham are finishing their 3 months in Düsseldorf, where Graham is working at the main Henkel headquarters.  They invited us to join them there, then travel with them to Israel for Christmas.  On a whim, we decided to take them up on their offer and just go!  Why not?  So today we left our undecorated home and all of our traditional Christmas activities here and we left.  We are on our way to Germany!

I must admit that it’s been a very relaxing and calm December so far.  No shopping.  No decorating.  No gatherings and gifts.  I’ve had other things on my mind and I’ve really enjoyed feeling the burden of making Christmas Magical lifted.  This year will be magical in non-traditional, but very real ways.

I wonder if, as parents, we’ve turned the corner now.  We are no longer the ones in charge of making Christmas happen for our kids.  They are making their own Christmas traditions in their own ways.  We are no longer the main attraction.  We are now on the sidelines, cheering them along.  I’ll admit, it’s a little liberating and a lot more relaxing.  I think I can get used to this way of celebrating Christmas.

Posted in Lewis Family | Leave a comment

Quilt Group 2022 Christmas Brunch

We’ve often talked about our Christmas quilt gathering as our favorite event of the season.  We spend considerable time thinking about the perfect gifts to share with our friends and after a good meal, we exchange those gifts.

This year we decided to meet a bit earlier and have a breakfast brunch since I needed to  leave for the airport this morning.  We met at Karin Crawford’s beautiful home and had a delicious meal with a breakfast egg casserole, fresh fruit, warm cinnamon rolls and French hot chocolate.  It was all yummy.

Then we gathered to exchange our gifts and give thanks for good friendship that has endured for many many years.

I gave something a little different this year, thinking of my friends in Mali:

My dear friends,

This year I thought I’d like to do something to help my dear friends in Ouelessebougou, Mali who are sewing Days for Girls kits. Their names are Mariam Diabate, Mariam Samake and Tenin Samake. I will send you a few photos of them.

These women sew all day, 4 days a week. They each earn $2/day, which is a good salary in Mali. I have made a $25 donation in your name to help pay that salary. I did it on Giving Tuesday, when the donation was 100% matched, so your $50 gift will provide one of them with 25 days of work! With all of our quilt group pitching in, we can provide income for each of the 3 women for 5 months! This will not only bless these sewing ladies and their families, but the hygiene kits they make will bless the lives of 100s of girls who live in the 25 rural villages we serve.

Enclosed are some scraps of Malian fabric these ladies saved for me. When they questioned why I wanted their scraps, I told them I have friends who can make beautiful things out of scraps. I thought you each might enjoy adding a touch of African color to some small corner of one of your quilts in their honor.

Merry Christmas, and thanks for your kind and generous hearts!

Love from Ann Lewis

Posted in Quilting | Leave a comment

Buddha Bowls

Last week was my turn to prepare lunch for my quilt group.  I tried a new idea I’d recently learned about called Buddha Bowls.  It was a huge hit.  If you have a large crowd to feed and if you need to be sensitive to any dietary restrictions, this is a great meal to serve!  Everyone creates or builds their own bowl with the ingredients they like.

“Buddha Bowl” is a fun name for a simple idea: a one-dish meal that’s made by piling a healthy combination of whole grains, vegetables, protein, legumes, and a nice  sauce or dressing in a large, single-serving bowl.  Then you add toppings like nuts, seeds, herbs, dried onions or wontons, or sprouts.

There is some speculation about where the name originated. One article on Epicurious tied the name to how the Buddha would carry a bowl with him in his travels and fill it with food that was given to him given by people he met along the way. Others think the mounded top of the filled bowl looks like a Buddha statue’s belly.

Here are the ingredients I chose to serve last week:

Brown rice
Chicken (Costco rotisserie)
Steamed or roasted broccoli
Steamed or roasted zucchini, yellow squash, carrots
Black beans, garbanzo or kidney beans
Mexican Street Corn (from Costco)
Chopped green, yellow, red peppers,
Chopped celery, cucumber, tomatoes
Toppings:  slivered almonds, peanuts, crunchy fried onions, wonton strips
Asian slaw salad mix (mostly red & green cabbage)
Mandarin oranges or pineapple tidbits
Lime wedges for juice

You could also add sautéed onions or mushrooms

Dressings or sauces: 
Asian Sesame salad dressing  (the favorite choice)
Thai or peanut sauces
Ranch Dressing
Cilantro Lime dressing

You can find lots of ideas about different kinds of Buddha Bowls online.

Here’s some more information by Mary Margaret Chappell (Jan 15, 2020) about everything you need to know to prepare and enjoy a Buddha bowl:

Fill the bottom of a large (2- to 3-cups is ideal) bowl ⅓ of the way with hot or cold whole grains, like brown rice, bulgur, barley, quinoa, or polenta. Whole grains are the most common Buddha bowl foundations, but you can also branch out to other complex carbs like potatoes, whole grain pasta, and noodles, which also absorb flavors well.

Arrange an assortment of vegetables in clusters overtop the base. Choose veggies with colors and consistencies that will play off each other, like crisp steamed broccoli with tender cubes of butternut squash, creamy avocado slices with crunchy corn kernels, or juicy red beets with light, bright green peas. Use as many as you like—or as many as will fit! And don’t forget greens! When prepping, keep all toppings bite-sized so they’re easy to stir together and eat with a fork or spoon.

Fill out the bowl with ½ to 1 cup of super satiating plant-based ingredients, such as lentils, black beans, chickpeas, edamame, and other legumes.

Nuts, seeds, diced fruit (fresh or dried), chopped onion, and herbs all go on the nearly finished Buddha bowl now. Keep add-ons to a tablespoon or two, and limit herbs to about a teaspoon so they don’t overpower the other bowl components.

The sauce you use to season your Buddha bowl brings together all the flavors of the base and toppings. Pestos, pasta sauces, peanut sauce, miso sauce, salad dressings, and dips all make great Buddha bowl options, and sometimes just a squeeze of lemon juice is all you need.

Sometimes a luscious-sounding combo of your favorite ingredients ends up needing a little something to bring all those fabulous flavors together. Here are 10 quick-fix ideas to try:

Squeeze of citrus juice
Sprinkle of nutritional yeast
Shake of hemp, chia, sesame, or flaxseeds
Dash of hot sauce
Drizzle of maple syrup
Pinch of curry or chili powder
Few drops of soy sauce
Drizzle of vegetable broth
Dollop of barbecue sauce
Squeeze of mustard
Swirl of tahini, tahini sauce, or nut butter

I hope you try this!  I think I’ll be making Buddha Bowls for a long time now.  They’re fun, healthy, tasty and easy to throw together with whatever is in your fridge.  Bon Appetit!

Posted in Ann Lewis | Leave a comment

Write Once, Read Forever

I an known to friends and family as “the girl who wrote things down.”  I started writing in a journal more than 60 years ago.  There are some gaps and some years I kept track of things on calendars when the kids were little (I wish I could go back in time and re-do those years, preserving those memories with more words).

I often wonder why I feel so compelled to write my fingers to the bone, every day of every week of every year.  I think part of the reason is because I long to know more about my ancestors and I search and hunt for mention of them in libraries and in archives and in digitized records.  Their lives are interesting to me–what they did, what they thought, how things worked.

John Bushman in his later years, recording his history

For example, here are two random pages I turned to in John Bushman’s 1875 journal which I will post this week.  He wrote this 147 years ago.   John is the brother of Jacob, my 2nd Great-grandpa.  It doesn’t take many words for me to learn a lot about John and those around him, including my dear Grandpa Jacob.

Here is a transcription of his entries:

The most routine things become fascinating with time.  Especially chores and daily routines that may seem unimportant in the moment.

Sunday he went to church.  Monday he killed his pig, then helped Jacob kill his.  Tuesday he did “choring around home.”  Wednesday he put a door and a window in his house, then went to a church meeting.  Thursday he hung a stable door and paid 55 cents for 3 hinges.  Friday he went after a load of wood.  Saturday he made a fence for a neighbor and paid his tithing in pork.  Sunday he went to his church meetings.

That was his week.  He was 32 years old and he lived in Lehi, Utah.  Those few words tell me a LOT about Uncle John–about his faith, his life, his brother, his work.  Any words are better than no words.  If you write them once, they will be read forever.

Posted in Family History, Thoughts and Insights | Leave a comment

Rick Shorten, Local Orem Artist

This snowy evening I ventured out with my friends, Kennedy and Virginia, to visit an open house at Rick Shorten’s home.  Kennedy had shown me some of his work and I liked it.  We went to see what he’s been working on.  His home is about 5 minutes from ours, here in Orem.

It was really fun to meet Rick and look at his work, filled with faces and feelings.  I loved the way he brings two worlds together–here and There.  We are surrounded by family and loved ones on both sides of the veil, and I felt that in his work.

These are the two pieces I settled on.  I couldn’t choose just one:  Mary and Joseph with young boy Jesus, and a woman like me, surrounded by angelic loved ones.  I took them home with me and will love them in our home.

This is Rick in his home studio.   It was a delight to meet him here tonight.

Posted in Ann Lewis | Leave a comment

Prepping a Honeysuckle Quilt Block

When I prepare for a trip, I like to plan some applique to take along for the hours in flight and in airports waiting.  If I’ve got a book to listen to and some stitching for my hands, I’m happy and can pass hour after hour.  This is the last of the blocks for my Star Garden Quilt– a honeysuckle block.  I spent some time this week prepping each individual piece.  This block has 134 pieces and it will be glorious!  That should keep me busy all the way to Germany, then on to Israel!


I also put my snowmen together this week so they can be quilted while I’m away.  I’ll add their eyes and buttons down their fronts after the quilting is finished.

Posted in Quilting | Leave a comment

O Come All You Unfaithful

This is my favorite Christmas discovery this year.  I have listened to this carol over and over and over again.  It’s perfect.

O Come, All You Unfaithful
Song by Sovereign Grace Music

O come, all you unfaithful
Come, weak and unstable
Come, know you are not alone

O come, barren and waiting ones
Weary of praying, come
See what your God has done

Christ is born, Christ is born
Christ is born for you

O come, bitter and broken
Come with fears unspoken
Come, taste of His perfect love

O come, guilty and hiding ones
There is no need to run
See what your God has done

Christ is born, Christ is born
Christ is born for you

He’s the Lamb who was given
Slain for our pardon
His promise is peace
For those who believe
He’s the Lamb who was given
Slain for our pardon
His promise is peace
For those who believe

So come, though you have nothing
Come, He is the offering
Come, see what your God has done

Christ is born, Christ is born
Christ is born for you
Christ is born, Christ is born
Christ is born for you

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Bob Kauflin / Lisa Clow
O Come, All You Unfaithful lyrics © Sovereign Grace Praise

Here is a bit about this music:

The Story Behind O Come, All You Unfaithful

We’ve been really encouraged by the response to O Come, All You Unfaithful, the opening track on our new Christmas album, Heaven Has Come. A number of people have said the song has made them freshly aware of how good the gospel really is. Amen.

I had the joy of writing the song with Lisa Clow, although I really only helped her refine and finish a song she wrote a few Christmases ago. She brought what she had written to the Sovereign Grace songwriters retreat this past January. I’ll let Lisa tell you in her own words how it came about:

I was struggling. It had been a long year and a half. Finances were stressful, I miscarried twins, and on top of it I was battling a deep relational bitterness. My church was having their annual service where they kick off the Christmas season with carols and special songs and I, for once, was not singing. I told them that I wouldn’t be able to sing, but what they didn’t know is that I was too overcome with shame to stand on stage before my church.

That Sunday morning, I stood at my seat as they began to sing “O Come All Ye Faithful” and the first line of the song just clobbered me. It hit me like a giant wave of guilt.

O come all you faithful, joyful and triumphant!

I remember hearing those words and thinking, “I have been so unfaithful. My joy has dwindled, and I am a triumphant…failure.” And I didn’t sing the rest of the service.

I drove home, my mind still churning, “Is that really who is invited to come to Jesus? The faithful? The joyful? The triumphant? If so, then I am hopeless.”

Thankfully, later that afternoon the Holy Spirit reminded me of Jesus’s invitation in Matthew 11:28,

“Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

Rest found in his life, his death, and his resurrection, not my own.

That evening, I had a strong conviction to write a song for myself and for the weary, the broken, and the ashamed.

(You can watch Lisa share this story live here.)

The Original

Here’s what she wrote that night:

O come all ye unfaithful, weary and heavy laden
Fly to the King of Angels, forgiveness is your haven

Christ was born, Christ was born, Christ was born for you

O come all ye destitute, broken and ruined by sin
Behold God in fierce pursuit, chasing and hemming you in
Christ was torn, Christ was torn, Christ was torn for you

We adore you, bow before you
Come and undo our hearts today

O come all ye triumphant, raise up your flags white with blood
Mercy flows in abundance, bought by the King of Love
Christ is Lord, Christ is Lord, Christ is Lord, it’s true

When I saw the title of her song and read the lyrics, I told Lisa I’d love to help out with it. Ever since my daughter, Brittany, wrote Glory in the Darkest Place a few years ago, I’ve been looking for Christmas songs that speak to those who find it difficult to enter in to the joy of the season due to feelings of unworthiness, need, shame, or suffering.

The Process

I was moved by the thoughtfulness and beauty of Lisa’s lyrics. But I thought the song could be more accessible. She had also written the song in 4/4, like the original carol, and it seemed to me 6/8 would fit the lyrics better.

So we worked on it, trying to capture in simple phrases the kind of person who might not realize that Christ was born for them. Unfaithful. Broken. Weary. Ashamed. We went back and forth on using the word, “vile,” but thought it might be distracting to people. So we ended up using “guilty.” Although before a perfectly holy God, every one of us fits into that vile category (Is. 64:6; Rom. 3:9-19). One phrase seemed to sum up the song, and I’m affected every time we sing it: “Come, though you have nothing, come, He is the offering.”

We thought the song needed a bridge and almost included a previously written chorus from one of the other writers at the retreat. But it was too wordy, so we didn’t use it. We ended up with a simple statement of the gospel, which is the reason Jesus being born is such good news.

He’s the Lamb who was given, slain for our pardon
His promise is peace for those who believe

The Video

As we played the song for more people we sensed God might use it to impact a wider audience. So we enlisted the help of Lance Cashwell, who heads up RVLRY, to direct a music video for us. Providentially, I had met Lance when he attended a Worship Matters Intensive in 2019.

At first we thought we’d just record Lisa singing the song. But then Jon Althoff had an idea. What if we invited people into the studio to listen to the song and captured their responses on video as they listened?

So that’s what we did. The video we recorded is made up almost exclusively of people from my church who are processing the song, most of them for the first time, as it relates to their own experiences. A stillborn child. A strained marriage. Feelings of shame. Legalism. Loss. Loneliness. Or simply having a heart that weeps with those who weep.

We think seeing their responses as Lisa sings communicates even more clearly that Jesus wasn’t born for people who have it all together. He was born for those who have nothing.

So wherever you find yourself at the end of this unusually trying and tumultuous year, remember that a Savior has been born, who is Christ the Lord (Lk. 2:11). And he was born to save us from our sins. All of them.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”” (Matthew 11:28–30, ESV)

“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21, ESV)

So come.

You can find the chord chartlead sheetpiano/vocal score, and other resources for O Come, All You Unfaithful at our website.

Posted in Thoughts and Insights | Leave a comment