Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Turpitude of Mr. and Mrs. Turpin

The Turpitude(1) of the Mr. and Mrs. Turpin of Parris, California
O. Kris Widmer
January 18, 2018

By now, you’ve heard the world-wide news story about the family in Southern California.  A man and his wife keeping 13 children locked up in their various houses.  They moved from state to state when circumstances required a rapid departure.  The ironic and tragic contrast between the images of a happy family at an amusement park and the reality of the horrors of their home are heart breaking.  The fact that they frequently renewed their marital vows (to love, honor and cherish) before their unloved, unhonored and uncherished descendants reveals yet another depth of human depravity.

(Another strange factoid:  though Dad’s name starts with a D and Mom’s name starts with a L…I saw a picture with the names of the adult children.  They all started with “J”…and I assume the other half of the group has similar first initials.)

Praise the courage of the 17 year-old daughter that was able to snap a few pictures in a deactivated cell phone, and then get outside the home and call 911. God bless her and God bless these 13 precious souls.

What is unsettling is that it appears this whole thing may have had a twisted religious motivation.  (1) A pair of grandparents of the children said God told the Turpins to have that many children. (2) It appears this couple may have been motivated by the “Quiver-full” movement, which teaches couples to ditch all birth control and have as many children as God gives them; their application of Psalm 127:3-5 (And the wife is to be in a submissive position to the husband.  “A woman’s place is in the birthing bed.”)

One commentary I found was likely correct when it said that the spirituality of the home was likely based on fear and silence.  “Mummy and Daddy are keeping you from the big, bad world.  The only safe place is here in our home.  We will keep you safe and prepared for heaven and God’s approval.”  Such teaching results in the twisted Religious Stockholm Syndrome that appears to be present in this tragic case.

We certainly don’t have all the details in this story…and more will come out in the future.

I could get all “preacherly” just now for I have been and remain a preacher.  If you belong to Christ, you are a minister too, you know.  But I’ll just share a few thoughts in this little devotional ripped from today’s headlines…and leave it at that.

Certainly the Turpins lived lives of turmoil and desperation.  And strange things always happen in families in such times.  2 Kings 6:24-29 records a family situation where famine resulted in adults making bargains to each others children, and then backing out of such agreements when only one of the children was eaten.  Certainly a prime example of the departure of natural parental love.

2 Timothy 3:3 predicts a time in the last days when people would be “without natural affection.”  We think that fathers and mothers will just naturally be loving and provide the best for their children.  But the daily news reveals that this is not the norm.

Matthew 24:12 predicts future times when “the love of many will grow cold.”  This is proven time and time again in the way bosses treat employees, men treat women, straights treat gays and parents treat children.

Isaiah 49:14-16 speaks of the Israelites saying as the captivity to Babylon approached “The Lord has forsaken us. The Lord has forgotten us.”.  But God says “Can a woman forget the child that is nursing? (Yes…it sometimes happens – women leave unwanted children in dumpsters and toilets every day.)  Are there times when a woman has no compassion on the child of her womb?  (Yes…it happens all the time.)  Yes, these may forget…but I WILL NOT FORGET YOU.  Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands…” which reminds us of Jesus and the scars of Calvary.  When Jesus looks at his hands…he thinks of you.

Now sometimes we might expect fathers to be cruel.  They are quick to take off their belts and give their children the whoopin’ they deserve.  My father wasn’t like that, but I’ve heard stories.  But somehow, we ascribe to mother’s a natural maternal love that will always nurture, feed and protect. My mother was like that.

It is too early to know what Mrs. Turpin was thinking when her children cried out in hunger or asked to take an third shower this year.  Is she too a victim in this dysfunctional home, kept under the thumb of domineering “male headship” kind of marriage?  She must have known that something was not right in the home, for she talked her parents and sisters out of nearly every visit for at least 2 decades.

Did she ever meditate on Jesus’ statement  “If a child ask his father for a piece of bread, will he give him a stone? (or chain him to the bed?). (Jesus’ implied answer is NO!) If he shall ask his Papa for a fish (fillet, sandwich or taco), will he give the child a poisonous snake? (or a slap up side the head?) (Again…the implied No!)  If you being evil know how to give good gifts to your children…how much more shall your wonderful God who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask him.”  Matthew 7:9-11.

Oh how much our world needs the last half of the Elijah message found in Malachi 4:6 (My own church has focused so much on the tithe message found in Malachi 3:8-12, that they have missed the Elijah message.)  The first Elijah message is the message John the Baptist preached.  “Prepare to meet the Lord…Messiah comes.  He is here.”  The second Elijah message is “Prepare to meet the Lord…Messiah comes again.”

And you know what Malachi 4:6 says is the way to be ready for the coming kingdom? It is a restoration of the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers!  It is strong bonds of family love, if I may paraphrase the verse.

Oh how the world needs religious belief and practice that doesn’t fracture the family!  Oh how children need parents that will do them good and not evil all the days of their lives, preparing them to leave eventually and cleave in a healthy way to their spouses!

This is the message I wish Mr. and Mrs. Turpin had been able to hear and follow as she was pregnant with child number 1.

So if you are a parent with children (either under your roof or on their own)…on your next opportunity (and for every opportunity to follow) tell your children you love them.  Don’t complain the long showers they take at your house.  Don’t object to the large pile of ketchup you wash down the drain.  Fix them a big meal and tell them it is a big wonderful world…and God has a plan for you to go out and transform your little corner of it to make it even more wonderful!

Love God.   Love Humanity.
Do Justly.  Love Mercy.  Live Humbly.

Pastor Kris Widmer


(1) turpitude: a depraved or degenerate act or practice.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Cook Book of German Heritage.

This holiday season, I've produced a PDF of my Aunt Esther Chalmers 1983 family cookbook.
It is filled with recipes my great-grandmother and my grandmother fixed for their families on the homestead North Dakota prairie.

This cooking is from the "old country"...Germans from Russia brought these dishes to their new lives in the new world.

Click Here...and enjoy.

Poem - A Christmas Prayer of a Modern Magi Wannabee

A Christmas Prayer of a Modern Magi Wannabe
O. Kris Widmer

Idea: December 16, 2017 – During the Pastoral Prayer at a Seventh-day Adventist Church
Released:  December 19, 2017 – Written Out During Devotional Time with God

Divine/Human Savior,
God with us,
Word made flesh,
Risen and Ascended Christ,
Bethlehem’s Baby;
I come to You not as a wise one,
but as one who has been foolish;
foolish for much too long.

I do not bring gold.
I bring You my gilded reputation,
                  Which is solid paper mache, covered in 14-caret gold leaf.
                  (I did it myself, it took me years of work in my community.)
                  Most people like it; they think it is shiny.  What do they know!
                  I know it is completely hollow.
I bring You the golden moments of my past,
                  Produced by my super ego. 
                  At least I thought they were golden.
                  There are large holes now.
                  And a strange, pale patina.
I am sorry for this pittance.
Forgive me.

I do not bring frankincense.
I bring You francs.
                  Many countries still mint them every day.
                  These are from Rwanda and France,
                  Both places I have been.
                  I regret the current currency fluctuation and devaluation.
I bring You my frankness.
                  I have deceived myself saying - “I’m just keepin’ it real.”
                  With candor, I have been outspokenly blunt.
                  I have not been part of the ministry of reconciliation,
                  Pretending to speak Your verdicts;
                  With spiritual and spirited words, I have rendered MY judgments,
                  And rended[1] other’s hearts in the process.
I am sorry for this pittance.
Forgive me.

I do not bring myrrh.
I bring You merchandise.
                  I have lots of it.
                  It was bought on Cyber Monday and shipped for free.
                  I bought one for Aunt Ellen and one for myself.
                  I thought the size of the pile would make us happy for a while.
                  It didn’t.
                  I bring You my murmuring.
                                    “Where is the promise of His coming!”
                                    “The church is not for everyone.”
                                    “The preacher’s voice sounds like Donald Trump…long S sounds - Ssssss.”
                                    “Solicitude? Huh?
                                                      We need a modern language version of Ellen White!”
                                    I stand condemned for my condemnations.
I am sorry for this pittance.
Forgive me.

I am no wise man or wise woman.
I am a fool.
                  Forgive Me.

I am unworthy of your great gifts in return:
                  The grace grant of your golden streets,
                  The fellowship of being your family,
                  The mirth of receiving your mercy.

All I can do is,
                  with head bowed
                  and from my knees,
                  mumble my appreciations.

[1] rend: verb.   tear, split, slash, shred, rip

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Strudel or Strudla Recipe

During the year end holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas, our family makes the traditional German Strudels.  I've been searching the internet for versions of this treat.  Once I weed through all the "Apple Strudel" postings...I've found several variants on the dough for the "savory" strudel I remember from my grandmother.

My grandma was the oldest of 13 children that came to the USA from the German enclaves of South Russia.  This dish is eaten by the Germans from that region.

First...Here is her recipe...with our current modifications to how we prepare it.
At the bottom of this post, I'll post several different versions of the dough recipe.

Strudel or Strudla

From The Josephine Widmer / Esther Chalmers Book
Katharina Ammon as Told to Maggie Ammon
Modified by O. Kris and Debbie Widmer, as we prepare it today.

Our Family’s Vegetarian / No Potato Version

3 Eggs
2 Cups Cold Water
“Pinch of Salt”
Enough white flour to make a “quite soft” dough

(Double it for holiday meals: 1 cup of flour per person)
(I’ve seen so many variations on the dough via internet searches, I don’t think it really matters.  Any “egg noodle dough” will likely turn out fine.)

Roll out on a table, but not too thin.
Put oil all over on dough
Let dough rest – ½ hour at least
            While waiting…Boil some strongly salted water – 2 cups
Stretch Dough Very Thin
Stretch out – Cover the whole table… no holes.
            (2017: We now do this in 4 stretchings.)
Roll up onto table.
Cut into lengths – 4’’
Put some oil in a fry pan
            (2017: We like the electric skillets of today)
            (We like putting in ½ an onion or so, sliced fine. 
            They cook and disappear into flavor)
Lay strudels in pan
            Pour in boiling salted water
Boil strudels immediately and keep covered.
When all the water has boiled off, and strudels start to sizzle.
            Uncover, turn over and let them fry and dry out.

Our Serving Suggestions
     Sauerkraut,  Dill Coleslaw (See Next), Boiled Potatoes (prepared separately), Protein of Choice

Our “German” Dill Coleslaw – O. Kris and Debbie Widmer

Cabbage – One Head:  Chopped very fine.
Tomatoes – 2-4 Diced fine (We use Roma Tomatoes) – For Color
            Make ahead:  Put in cabbage in a bowl (with lid) and lay tomatoes on top.
            Make up dressing in a separate bowl, put on lid
            Mix dressing in to cabbage/tomatoes5-10 minutes before serving.

Dressing:  Make it up ahead…or add ingredients as you go.

Dill Weed – Fresh or Dry – Add as much as you want!
½ tsp salt.  (This is NOT a sweet coleslaw)
1 tsp salt
Lemon Juice – Add as much as you want
Mayonnaise – Start with a glob…and add more as needed.
Mix until you feel it is a proper salad.


Strudel Dough Variations 

(Sorry...I'm only able to give credit to the last one...that is reposted in it's entirety...ingredients and process.  You can double or triple the quantities as needed.)


1 package yeast
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar1 1/2 teaspoon salt1 1/2 c. water3 eggs (beaten)5 1/4 cups flour
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon sugar 
2 eggs
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) yeast 
1 package yeast
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 c. water
3 eggs (beaten)
5 1/4 cups flour


1 1/2 cups warm milk (around 100-110 degrees)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons yeast
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
5-6 cups flour (I used 5 1/2 cups)
3-4 potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large onion, diced
Water and Crisco for frying

2 cups lukewarm water


4 cups flour, 
1 egg, 
1 teaspoon salt, 
1 teaspoon baking powder, 
1 1/4 cups warm water 

1 cup water,   1 egg,  1 tsp salt,  3 cups flour, 1/4 tsp baking powder 
(Strudel for one?)

2 c   flour
2   eggs
1/2 tsp   salt
1 tsp   baking powder
1/4 c   water, or more to make a soft dough


 6 cups flour
 6 eggs
 1/8 cup salt
 1 1/2 cups warm water
 1/4 cup flour 

Eight  and Last One
Strudels for Dummies – Carolyn Schott
(Start process about 4 hours before serving time.)
With strudels as your main course for heavy-duty strudel-eaters, I usually estimate about 1 cup of flour per person. So this recipe serves about 3. If you’re having other dishes, or you’re more “average” strudel consumers, you would adjust accordingly.
·       3 cups flour
·       2 eggs
·       2/3 cups warm water (I usually end up adding a little more water to make the dough the right consistency)
·       1/8 teaspoon salt
·       1 teaspoon baking powder
·       Oil
·       Potatoes, cut into large chunks.
·       Chopped onions (to cook with the potatoes)
·       Gravy (however you choose to make it – package or from scratch)

1) Mix eggs, water, salt. Add flour & baking powder to make soft dough. (Be careful that it really is a soft dough, too much flour makes the strudels tough. If it’s annoyingly sticky, it’s about right.)
2) Let the dough rest 1 ½ – 2 hours (longer is better).
3) Divide the dough into 3 parts.
4) Let dough rest about 30 minutes.
5) Roll out each ball of dough. Pour small amount of oil (don’t use melted butter) in the center of piece of dough. Fold edges into middle to cover the entire top of the dough with oil, but let it lie flat. (Basically, you just want to let the oil help soften up the dough for stretching.)
6) Let dough rest about 15-20 minutes. At this point, start cooking the potatoes and onions slowly so the water will be simmering by the time you’re ready to put the strudels in the pot. (Some people also cook their meat in this pot and if so, you’ll want to start it sooner. I usually do my meat separately to simplify the timing of it all.)
7) Stretch dough until paper thin, either on the backs of your hands flipping it like pizza dough, or just by holding the edge and letting gravity stretch it. The oil makes it stretch pretty easily, sometimes too easily! When it gets hard to handle, I lay it down on a large cotton dish towel and stretch the edges out a bit more. It’s not the end of the world if it tears some…main thing is to get it stretched thin everywhere, even the edges.
8) Start rolling one edge of the dough, then pull the dish cloth up to let the dough “automatically” roll up.
9) Cut into approximately 2” lengths. Lay strudels on the top of the potatoes; the water should already be boiling. Try not to let strudels lie on top of each other and keep them from being completely submerged in the water. The potatoes should act as a “platform” for the strudels to lie on and steam. Cover and cook ½ hour without taking the cover off.
10) Serve with gravy and any meat dish you might choose to add.
Voila! A scrumptious Black Sea German treat!
I join Carolyn in encouraging you to give this dish a try. 
email me if you need help.

The Turpitude of Mr. and Mrs. Turpin

The Turpitude(1) of the Mr. and Mrs. Turpin of Parris, California O. Kris Widmer January 18, 2018 By now, you’ve heard the world-wi...