What would your mother do? Encourage.

What can one mom even do to make a difference?

We moms need to know this.

Here’s the next part of a short series about all the huge little things moms do. It’s not a contest, but let’s all tell about our memories of those little things that mean so much, that only moms know how to do best.

Mom gave us baked beans for lunchMy mom encouraged me. I remember one of the first encouragements she gave me, when I really might have needed correction on any other similar occasions: I’d been playing with my food on my plate.

The menu that day was hot dogs and plain old pork ‘n’ beans, so everything I needed was at the table already.

I began stirring relish, ketchup, mustard, salt, pepper, and a bit of sugar into the beans on my plate. After a sample, I told my mom how good it was. She questioned me, I explained, and that’s when it happened: A new gourmet cook was born at that very lunch table. My mom exclaimed that if I could determine exactly what should go into carefully-crafted old style “baked beans”, then I must be a natural-born cook.

I felt pretty pleased with myself and I never forgot it.

Encouragement can go the other way, too, dragging a person up from a low place, where I was during third grade.

It was election time in our country and in school, we had a mock election, dividing the class into three political parties.

It was rigged. All the popular kids were in one party, the brilliant-student-types in another, and we misfits (the sickly, overweight, or otherwise unacceptable ones) were in the third party. I leave you to guess who won, but will add: I perfected the art of sickly by having one of my semi-annual cases of step throat during the vote. Yeah, we came in last. Amazing, no? We’d had such hopes. We did our best. We mined our mom’s ideas for sure-fire campaign tactics, made posters, and delivered speeches, all for naught.

After a phone call came to our sick-house regarding the results, my mom so tenderly relayed them to me. I cried. She held me and asked me to try to be a big girl, to think what the other children would think of my crying…

I remember the moment so clearly, like the movie re-run it has always been in my mind. I remember feeling rebellious and sort of amazed at myself for what I said at that point.

“I don’t even care what the CRY-BABIES think!”

She did not reprimand me. She did not scold my out-lashing little self. She just held me until it blew over.

And that quiet response told me far more than any words could. She understood. She cared. She had my back.

So when did your mom encourage you? Share.

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All the joy can be such a burden for the birdies and other lving things!

How to prepare for a winter storm watch:

You know you’ll wish you could think of everything at once, should a storm come. Here is a starter list, not in any particular order:

  1. What to do, how to do it, a checklist for you to be really ready this time!Go to the store for white bread at the last minute. (Just kidding! Real list to follow!)
  2. (For real) make sure you have enough foods to eat that do not have to be cooked unless you have a cooking alternative to electricity.
  3. If you have electric heat, only, look into some other heat source, such as kerosene or fireplace or wood stove.
  4. If you have a fireplace, consider cooking on it. You will need covered, long-handled pans because of heat and ash, a few bricks and a grate to elevate pots, and really good potholders. Oh, also firewood, which is cheap around here, due to last year’s drought.
  5. Rock salt or other means of de-icing porches & sidewalks, for safety.
  6. Plastic sheeting for over the windshield, if you park outdoors.
  7. Prescriptions filled. Don’t run out during an ice storm!
  8. Really good batteries in flashlights. Candles and matches. ETC.
  9. A generator would be nice, with fuel for it stocked up. And make sure you know how to operate it without killing a lineman.
  10. Extra bedding for cold nights. If one room is warm, you can close it off until bedtime and then sleep under tons of blankets with coats on, just fine.
  11. Water for drinking, if power is out over a week and tower is pumped electrically, which most are.
  12. Survival includes a lot more than white bread! Read to find out what all you need NOW!Watch the skies and think about livestock and pets. They need more feed than usual and some sort of shelter, if only a piece of plywood leaned against a building. Being wet makes them colder and hungrier, and more prone to illness, and they hate eating snow for their drinks. Many creatures benefit from a little sugar added to water during these times. Chickens definitely do.
  13. A bag of wild birdseed, in case your feeder is snowed under. Birds die when they cannot access wild food sources while they are fighting off cold, wet weather. Even if you do not normally feed wild birds, do so, please, when all their normal sources are hidden under snow or ice.
  14. If the lights are out, do not open fridge or deep freeze except in emergency. Check it maybe after two days and if it is too warm, use the outdoors for cooling food. Protect eggs, though, from freezing, or they will break.
  15. Make sure all vehicles are filled with gasoline.
  16. If all your phones are cellular, you must provide for recharging them. Vehicles running with an adapter in the lighter socket is an option. Hand-cranked rechargers are available, sometimes. And there are those little battery things that will recharge a phone; make sure yours are charged up.
  17. Read about The Last Snowing Hurricane!

There you have it! Hope you won’t need it!.

 

That Man! And His Incredible Gift!

I’ve written about this table before, twice. Here. And here. You just about need to read these, to prime the pump, so the rest will make tons more sense to you.

Otherwise, you’ll think I’m some kind of doddering old nut.

So, go ahead and read. This’ll still all be here when you get back. And I’ve arranged the links to open in new windows, so you won’t lose this page. You’re welcome.

Now, if you’ve read, or if you remember the story,

Let me tell you Chapter Three

Those of you who have hung with me for years may think you are tired of hearing about “the table”, but the story simply has gotten WAY better.

Basically, there is a table in my life that has not much monetary value, but lotsa nostalgia going for it. I’m not immune to nostalgia at all, but this thing rang all my bells and has humbled me to no end.

If it is possible to be in love with a table, then I was.

First, it is important to realize when I thought the table was destroyed, it was because it was old and I could not remember having it for years and years. Then, one day I wrote about it and later I discovered my son had it at his house. Wow. You cannot imagine my happiness.

When we were helping them move, it was so close to totally rotten we debated photographing it and giving it a funeral.

I voted a big “NO” and I won. Eventually the table came back to be mine, but finally in pieces. It lived, along with all its pieces, in our shop, for several years.

Well the other day, my newly-retired husband asked me if I wanted to see what he’d been doing all day, and you guessed it:

The table has been resurrected:

Sweet new old table

You can imagine my pleasure (but only if you’ve read the previous stories!) and the poor, simple table has brought tears to my eyes, one more time, and here it is, the way I saw it when I first learned it had survived surgery.

I know it doesn’t look like much, but it was a sight to behold, for me.

Old table made newNow, here it is, newly repainted and pressed into service, again, making everything around it look in need of a Spring spruce-up.

Isn’t it like that with us? Our Father created us, and loves when our parents dedicate us to Him, and when we love him back and serve Him. But sometimes we get worn out, or worse yet, we get away from Him. Then He finds us and fixes us.

So this love gift has been given to me thrice. What a thing to make such a deal about, but really, it’s the love that has overwhelmed me.

Some days the blessings just come. Ever had a day like that?

very near hell, the apex of descent

10,080 Minutes Very Near Hell

Where is the place that is very near hell?

It is the apex, the place where ascent weakens to the weakest possible point, the beginning of the end, the molecule of time before the descent.

It is a place of deep sorrow and pain. It is a place of helplessness and confusion. It is a place of crushing and fainting.

Do we want to know where this is? Do we want to read about it?

No.

It is a place of regrets and blame, of requirements and inability, of surroundings and enemies of all that matters. A place of conflicting opinion and constant flood of words. A place of never doing it right. A place of agony and of tears and of darkness.

But it is not hell.

It is only death.

We were not programmed to die. We were not created to deal with death.

We were created and intended to live, to vibrate with joy, to glow in the dark.

But we die.

But not all of us at once. We each have his own appointed time. Some of us must remain survivors and feel the loss, mourn the loss, die a thousand deaths during the loss.

And some of us must stand by and watch, very near hell.

It is a duty, a privilege, an honor, to be standing by and watching the descent, the mourning, the loss, the thousand-times death. To stand by, to help, to helplessly watch and wait, is a gift that rebounds to the giver in humble thanksgiving in the soul. To mind quietly the senseless, necessary tasks of the earthbound, standing next to the earth-ending descent, is a miracle and a reverie, nearly a trance.

To remain alive ends all words.

Kids in the Kitchen

Children learning in kitchen

All my children are taller than I am. But when they were little, oh, did we have funny times!

One day our five-year-old came up with a great one-liner: “I know how to make brown bread–toast it!” We laughed, but he was serious. He honestly was exploring with his mind, the finer points of food preparation.

Our canning successes and failures have impressed our children. As we ate peas for supper one night long ago, the seven-year-old said, “I’m glad God made seeds because if you plant just a small pack, you get a LOT of peas to eat!” Me too, Dearie.

Our pickled peppers always received rave reviews from all the hot stuff eaters. And the muscadine jam–you’d have to taste it to believe it.

They learned so much.

When the deer got our peaches and crab apples and drought got our pears, their joy at what we had was sobered by what we lost. They couldn’t wait to start again, to do better. But in the meantime, we could open jars and remember.

One thing they loved helping with in the winter was apple leather. It is so easy to spread applesauce on a lubricated pan and set it near the fireplace to dry for a few days. How they loved making funny shapes of it with scissors! It was a favorite snack for them.

Actually, nothing beats the Winter Doldrums like the warmth and aromas of something happening in the kitchen. Whether Big Sis is rescuing some old bananas in yummy banana bread, or everyone is taking turns at the handle of the apple-slicing/coring device for apple crunch, we get miles of smiles from being close family in a simple kitchen full of love.

Kids love to cook. It’s a part of growing up.

They love to break eggs, dump ingredients, stir, set the timer, read recipes, etc. The kitchen, to them is like a big friendly science learning lab where we get to eat the experiment. Happy the child who feels welcome in the kitchen!

So is there a way a five-year-old can make brown bread? Probably not, but if you are making bread and let him count and dump in the part that makes it brown, wouldn’t he love it? How easy to launch from there into an explanation of differences in flours, complete with a microscope!

If his twelve-year-old sister does the bread making, she’ll beam when Daddy cuts himself a second slice. The seven-year-old could coat the pan with wonderful squishy grease. Teens love to rescue everyone when the hot pan is ready to exit the oven; the challenge of facing actual danger is like a tonic to them.

Are there any recipes a five-year-old can really do himself? Yes, the apple leather is one of them. He could make the butter for Big Sister’s bread: just shake 1 cup room-temperature cream in a quart jar for about 15 minutes and it makes butter. You strain off the remaining liquid for him, and let him pack it into a bowl. Or how about pie dough crackers? Hand him scraps to roll, cut, and sprinkle with milk and sugar or salt. Of course, you bake it for him.

A slightly older child can do more.

Let him slice some ice box cookies and arrange them on the cookie sheet. He can help you form the dough into the short, fat snake before you freeze it.

You might try a batch of coffee-can ice cream. Have him put a layer of ice cubes and salt into a large coffee can. Set a small, sealed coffee can ¾ full of ice cream mixture into the large can. Place ice and salt around the sides and over the top. Seal the large can and let the children roll this on the floor about 15 minutes until the ice cream sets. What fun!

When it comes to much older children, we know our future homemakers belong in the kitchen, but perhaps we’re lost about how and where to begin with them.

The first step is mentally to prepare for a mess.

Face it: you are neat and tidy in the kitchen because you learned the hard way it’s better to clean as you go. Your recipes are common to you and it’s no problem to fix a mess crisis while you cook. For the beginner, to cook IS the crisis and spills are commonplace. You can wipe up for her as she goes—an option that is good only for a while—or ask her to clean up when she’s done. We all must learn to police our own area.

So expect splatters from ceiling to floor. Grin and bear it. When my husband’s mother and I experimented with throwing pizza crust instead of rolling it, we gained a laughable moment that helped bond me to her like little else can. You want to bond with your own young chefs so they can feel loved and feel good about family life.

And don’t be surprised if your young men want to join in. I suspect when Jesus cooked fish for His disciples, it was scrumptious. And He did not learn that in the carpenter shop, either.

For beginning cooks, I like a mix.

Store bought or homemade, a mix is perfect for learning, because there is some fun measuring and beginners can concentrate on technique. Add skills gradually, layer over layer. You will know when you have come to the point where you can show her a recipe and do something else nearby. You can keep an eye on her and she can ask questions without leaving her station.

So, how old is old enough for each task?

Often I measure by height. No one should ever cook on a stove while standing on a box or chair. If you cannot reach the knobs, you are too young.

A lot has to do with motor skills. I have a cute photo of my daughter and one of her brothers when they were young—so young they sat ON the counter with the brownie bowl between them. It was their first try at egg-breaking. The egg was not exactly in the bowl. They were too young.

Invite them in, though. If you have many very little ones, start slowly, perhaps with licking the spoon. Do what you think is best for you, not forgetting the purpose: to have fun with Mom and be prepared for life.

Here are some easy or fun recipes to get you started:

No Knead Bread

2 cups white flour
1 package dry yeast
1 ¼ cup milk
½ cup butter
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 ¼ cup whole wheat flour

Mix white flour and yeast. Warm milk, butter, sugar and salt to 120 degrees. Add to flour mixture with egg. Mix on low speed of mixer for 30 seconds, then on high for 3 minutes. Stir in whole wheat flour by spoon. Let rise 1 hour. Stir. Pour into greased bread pan. Let rise 30 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Makes 1 loaf, 12 slices. Calories: 215 per slice.

Fast Fruit Ice Cream

1 can evaporated milk (not sweetened condensed milk)
1 quart individually frozen peaches OR 5 peeled, ripe frozen bananas
sugar or honey, to taste

Place into blender, cap, and blend on high until fruit is well blended. Place into ice cold container and freeze for about 3 hours. Or eat as is for a milk shake. Serves four. Calories: about 395, using peaches and 1 cup sugar.

Play Clay

1 cup flour
½ cup salt
1 teaspoon powdered alum
2 teaspoons cooking oil
1 cup water
food color (opt.)

Place all in medium saucepan. Stir and cook on medium for 3 minutes, or until dough leaves sides of pan. It will not be too hot, only very warm. Knead. Store in covered jar, or air tight plastic bag, in refrigerator. Looks, smells, and feels just as they hoped.

Have a great weekend!

 

Wrapped in Nothing But a Bedsheet?

Christ with the Woman Taken in Adultery, o/t, ...The powers-that-be have just dragged her from the bed of a man to whom she is not married.

Perhaps all she is wearing is a bedsheet.

Perhaps he is one of the powers-that-be.

Nevertheless, there she stands, exposed, before her authorities. They do not care about her. They do not care about right or wrong. The have stalked her, captured her, and reduced her to the status of rubbish for one purpose: to trick a popular counselor of that day.

“The law demands this woman be stoned to death,” they announce. Then they wait. They are so sure. They have Him this time. The Man of Mercies will have to admit that mercy does not always win.

Or so they think.

He is unperturbed.

He stoops and writes in the dust. A list of their sins? Perhaps.

Do they look around themselves, worriedly, confused? Perhaps.

Meanwhile, the life of a woman hangs over eternity. Perhaps, thrown down to the ground, does she cower? Perhaps.

In a culture that forbids her uncovered state, in a land filled with huge stones, she waits, uncovered, for her stoning.

Finally the Man stands to speak. “And whoever is without sin should throw the first stone.” Then he resumes writing.

Beginning with the eldest–perhaps wisest–each man drops his gleeful attitude, drops his stone, drops his case.

Point taken.

The kind Counselor turns to ask the woman, “Where are they? Who is accusing you?”

The answer, from inside a bedsheet: “No one.”

“Neither do I condemn you.”

Notice He does not say she did not sin, but only that He does not condemn her.

She stands obviously guilty and shamed, but for her, there is now no condemnation.

Stoning is not prevalent in our society, but prostitution is. I want to ask you: How many of us have been there–a blackened past forgiven by the mercies of God?

How many of us throw away that forgiveness?

How many of us hug our sad past close and get it out to look at it and mourn over it, to relive it to its fullest?

How many of us labor with all our might to get out from under sin that no longer is over us?

How many of us, on stormy days, add to the bad past by letting it create for us bad choices, bad attitudes, bad excuses?

A bad present? Even a bad future?

Jesus asked only one thing from that woman, that day, and asks it of us, too: “Go, and sin no more.”

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