Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Climbing Mount Everest is a monumental, life-threatening challenge.  Swimming the English Channel is a dangerous confrontation. Running a marathon is a grand undertaking. Even mowing 5 acres on a riding mower can put me to the test!

But the challenge that I am facing these days is recovering a skill that was once easily accomplished for me.  Back in an earlier time, before technology was instantly accessible from almost any home, intersection, mountaintop or public bathroom, listening was something I could do without having to repeat the mantra, “Remember to listen, remember to listen.” (Of course, even that increases the traffic between the ears!) 

I don’t really blame my cell phone, or computer, or my ipod, or TV, or instant wikipedia, or even the radio. These things do help me to perfect “short attention spans,” but they are not at fault. 

Really, I have no one to blame except the fertilizers and pesticides in our foods.  Just kidding.  I know it isn’t the food’s fault. 
It is the result of what I have been practicing.  The problem is that it seems to take more and more attention to think about the things that I am actually SUPPOSED to think about, and that thinking crowds out my listening skills.  Then, since I become un-used to listening, it seems awkward, therefore easily avoided. 
Alcoholics Anonymous says the first obstacle to overcoming a problem is to face the reality of the situation – admit you have a problem.  So here I am admitting the problem.  I want to listen better.  I want to listen to loved ones better.  And I mostly want to listen to the Lord better.  I do believe that the Holy Spirit is always leading, always speaking.  And I do believe that abiding in Him (John 15) is ‘living and moving and having our being in Him,’ (Acts 17:28). So combining being who we are and who He made us with the fact that He delights to reveal Himself to us and has given the Holy Spirit to do just that, He is always leading, always speaking.  But I also hunger to hear -  His words are life, His voice is life.
My hearing has become dulled by the noise pollution between my ears.  And since I know that I can do nothing by my own power, (no matter how much I want to ‘resolve’ to listen better!) I fall on the constant mercy and kindness of my Heavenly Father.
And I know He hears me! Praise You LORD!
What is the last thing you heard from the Lord?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Strawberry Fields Forever

Freshly picked strawberries - a mound of God's goodness!  Yesterday, my friend and I took our children to Marburger Orchard, a 'U-Pick' farm near Fredericksburg, Texas, (No connection to my last road trip to Marburger Farm Antique Show - or maybe the connection is that I like going to places with the word 'burger' in the name).  It was a beautiful day with perfect weather and row after row after row of bright red dollops of strawberry deliciousness.  This is just one section of the strawberry field.

Our plan for the day was to pick the berries, then go home and make as much jam as possible. This plan has all the elements of a great homeschooling field trip - friends, fun, food, AND you benefit from your work with a year's supply (hopefully) of jam (Home School Objective: where your food is grown and produced.) We piled in the car and headed out about 8:15.  By 3:30, we had driven there and back, picked, washed, hulled, made and eaten lunch, chopped, cooked, and canned 18.5 pounds of strawberries - 36 jars or about 40 cups of jam! And thanks to another friend, we knew how to make jam using only 1/4 of the sugar that regular jam recipes use.
Some of our beautiful bounty!

I am thankful for all the workers that grew those luscious strawberries!  It was a day filled with praise for all the goodness that flows from our Father!
"For you shall eat the labor of your hands; happy shall you be, and it shall be well with you" Psalm 128:2

Friday, April 6, 2012

Road Trip!

Doesn't it seem that when you KNOW you have to get up super early, you can't stay asleep until the alarm dings?  It's like your body goes on "Hyper Alert Standby Mode."  That is what happened to me the night before our Girl's Road Trip!  And I wasn't the only one not sleeping - one mom was up with a throwing-up child.  And the other mom was up diligently getting beautiful so she wouldn't make us late!

So three gals, very little sleep, Chick-Fil-A breakfast, and 3 hours in the car to arrive at our destination:

the Round Top Antique Fair  - one of the biggest Antique Fairs in the USA.

If you ever think, even for the briefest of passing seconds, "Boy, if only I could find a __________," then Round Top is the place you should go.  There are things you never even knew existed.  I was intrigued by this view:

This just says it all: china, horns, mirrors, and a zebra head - all in one place!

But the best part is the time with friends - sharing hefty doses of food, fun, and laughter.  I mean, you can get to know someone over dinners, christmas parties, picnics; but 14 hours in one day really throws the friendship doors wide open (or I guess slams it shut!).  After being trapped in a car for 7 hours, traipsing over 14,000 acres of flea market, and nearly dropping dead from heat exhaustion, you know if you really want to be friends. The result: we were planning our next annual outing before we even got home! 
One requirement for next year - Air Conditioning!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Pie Crusts and Me

I like to try new things.  And I like food.  Therefore, I like to try new foods.  That is one of the reasons I enjoy the Food Network - to watch skilled cooks with new ideas.  Recently, the Food Network debuted a new cooking show by the famous city-girl-turned-country-girl-blogger, the Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond. So I tuned in.  I mean, she has developed her talents, so she embodies hope for the rest of us!

She made something that looked so yummy, and she made it look so easy, that I couldn't resist trying it myself.  She called it the "Flat Apple Pie," with a "fool-proof" crust that is supposed to look rustic instead of perfect.  When I located the recipe online, it was even better - it was called "Flat Apple Pie with Perfect Pie Crust."  Boy  - I was flooded with hope!  I had never made a nice pie crust all on my own!  Even following meticulous directions, keeping in mind all the hints and tips from my granny and my aunts, my pie crusts were crumbly and ugly!

I wish I could find a picture for you.  Ree said the pie is designed to be held in your hands.  She made her family so happy!  I was ready to share the love with my family!
After gathering all the ingredients, I got started.  My handy apple peeler/corer/slicer

went to work on the apples.  My first hint at a problem came when I made the crust.  I noticed that Ree's recipe called for about twice the fat (butter/crisco) than any of my other pie crusts recipes.  But I plunged ahead.  Everything was going according to plan until I started to fold the crust over my spiced apples.  The crust really did look better than any I had made before, but it just didn't seem as 'stretchy' as I thought it should be.  "Oh well," I reasoned, "if there was a catch, surely Ree would have warned me!" So I fold the crust, appreciate the rustic look I have achieved, and pop the pies into the oven. 

Boy, did those pies smell delicious!  But my premonition proved true.  All of the wonderful apple-y juices flowed right out of the crust and onto the pan.  The crust had cracks where the apples poked through, and that heavenly juice was carmelized onto the pan. 

If I had more experience blogging, I would have a picture to show you.  It still tasted okay, and it was the best crust I had ever pulled off, but I wouldn't make it again.  The amount of butter and crisco is just too big an obstacle. Mostly I ate the apples out of the middle.  And they were fantastic.

In case you want to try your hand at this, here is the link to the recipe:

Be sure and let me know how yours turns out!
Happy Baking!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Little Cure

Recently I learned something that everyone should know.  So if you are lucky enough to be reading this, get ready for your whole life to change. 

Okay, maybe that is an exaggeration.  But here is one little amazing cure: Flour for burns. 

Sounds absolutely crazy.  I have no scientific research to back it up.  I have done no googling on the subject.  I didn't even learn about it while home schooling!  I learned about it because I burned myself and I happened to be at a friend's house. 

Here is what happened: I was melting a tiny bit of queso (velveeta and rotel) in my friend's demon microwave.  This microwave is linked to some kind of sunspot surge.  Most of the time it won't get your cup of coffee hot in less than 2 minutes.  Then, for some unseen reason, it decides that it is time to let loose all of its pent up anger and return whatever is in it to sub-atomic particles.  This is what happened with my queso.  So when I innocently reached into the microwave and picked up the little cup, the cup was so hot it melted to my fingers.  I had to shake it off, which then poured melted cheese as hot as lava all over my hands, wrists and fingers.  I immediately ran to the sink and started running cold water over the burns.  They were already red and swelling fast.  I was crying it hurt so bad. 

My friend ran in to find out what happened.  She had heard the clattering and the squealing.  She very sweetly and diligently started pummeling me with questions.  Really, the same question over and over, "What are we supposed to put on burns?"  She was very sincere, and upon seeing my tears, and the welts, became even more insistent, "WHAT ARE WE SUPPOSED TO PUT ON BURNS?!"   I wasn't really any help in answering.  We probably looked like an "I Love Lucy" skit.  I just kept saying, "I don't know!"  She then began helpfully suggesting all of the essential oils that she had in her pantry.  "Lemon??? Wintergreen? Lavender? Oregano?"  To which I kept my wits about me and intelligently continued answering, thru my tears, "I don't know." 

Finally, her eyes lit up like saucers! "Flour!" she jubilantly yelled.

 She dashed across the kitchen.  She poured a gallon ziploc bag half full of plain old enriched bleached flour and told me to stick my hands in it.  I could tell the running water wasn't helping.  I could tell that running water, even if it was fresh off a glacier, would never help the burns that demon microwave had given me.  So what could I do besides call 9-1-1? Plunge my hands into that bag o' flour!  Amazingly, INSTANTLY the pain was almost gone! It was unbelievable!  Right up there with Paul being bitten by a viper, and shaking it off like it was a caterpillar.  The natives wanted to worship him as a god.  I mean it - that flour trick was THAT amazing. As soon as I had my hands buried in the flour, my dear thoughtful friend looked at me with an excited, eager gleam in her eyes, "I have just been WAITING to try that!" She quickly caught herself and added, "I mean, I'm sorry you got burned, but,...."  I wondered if she had been secretly planning to burn one of her kids just to try it out.  What a hero I am, saving her kids like that!  Just kidding, she wouldn't do that.  And I am GLAD she had read some crazy thing about flour helping burns.  And I am glad the Lord was able to remind her what to put on burns - during our highly intelligent conversation.

The end of the story is that I kept my hands in the flour for at least an hour, probably a bit longer. When I took them out, the redness was gone, the pain was gone, almost all trace of the severe burns that I received were gone.  There was just one little red spot about the size of a pea, not even a blister.

Rememer - the next time you or your children get burned - FLOUR FOR BURNS!

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Little Update

Well, I guess I should come clean about my 'no sugar/dessert' activities.  I made it for a while - through a visit with friends, a visit with family, and a graduation celebration (which had specialty cake - specialty! - AND cheesecake).  A grand total of maybe 8 days.  Then I fell off the wagon into Christmas. 

So, I didn't do so well.  Actually, I did very well for a short amount of time.  Man is it hard!  But I read this little quote earlier:

Being overweight is hard, losing weight is hard, maintaining your weight is hard.  Choose your hard.
That is exactly right.  Probably it is true across subject matters - money issues, marriage issues, parenting issues, home remodeling issues!  But scripture has something to say about the hard:

...and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.          Romans 5:2a-5
So all my theories, and activities and tracking what I eat is all part of my purpose - to hope in the glory of God, and to persevere, developing proven character, and hope, and being filled with the love of God through the Holy Spirit who is given to me.  Because really, hope in Him is all I have; who He is, not what I can do. 

Again, I bet that is true across subject matters - money issues, marriage issues, parenting issues, even home remodeling issues! 

And there is rest in that - hoping in who He is, not in anything I can do! Glory!  What an unbelievable time we live in - the era of the church.

Okay, back to the original subject - living free of dessert - Sounds like a B horror movie - "The Attack of the Killer Desserts!" I shall try again - resting in Him, drawing from His strength, and persevering.
Let's Go! Proven Character!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Little Lost Dog

You know, dogs are funny things.  One minute you are thinking, "What in the world possessed us to willingly bring this dirty, hyper, bug-ridden, furry, in-your-face, giant-clawed mess of an animal into our lives?!" Then the next minute you are out in 28 degree weather, at night, with a little flashlight, walking alongside Interstate 10 desperately hoping that you won't find that dirty, hyper, bug-ridden, furry, in-your-face, giant-clawed mess of an animal dead on the side of the road.

How does this metamorphosis happen?  Do they have some kind of brain super-power that takes over all rational thinking?  Because I am thinking the President of the United States of America, one of the most powerful men in the world, should not own a dog.  Children, yes.  Dog, no.  Because one night, when he is exhausted from meetings, deciding to blow up small countries, a $1000/plate dinner, and tucking in his daughters, he will look around to find a friendly, non-argumentative, happy-to-see-him face, and little Fido will be missing.

 First, Mr. President will crawl around looking under the bed to see if Fido is just asleep somewhere.  Then he will proceed to calling him, waking up his wife and daughters,and asking whether they have seen the dog in the last few hours.  Next, Mr. President will enlist the entire Secret Service on a search for Fido.  All the while, Mr. President will grow more and more frantic, thinking, "I shouldn't have ignored Fido earlier today," or "I should have let him lick my plate," or "I shouldn't have kicked him when he tinkled on the United States Seal." In a span of 15 minutes, the whole Cabinet will be assembled in the War Room, sleepy and wondering what kind of national emergency is crashing down upon their heads.  Mr. President will have the FBI and CIA and HSA sending pictures by fax until finally, as pure terror bursts through the President's brain, he will shout, "I don't care if we have to nuke the country!  Get some lights out there!"

As soon as he storms from the room, there little Fido will be.  All wiggles and jumps and licks and wagging tail, so incredibly happy to see his person that it seems his insides will just turn inside out. And Mr. President will drop down on all fours and talk doggy talk (which sounds a lot like Elmer Fudd) and wiggle and wag and happily scoop up and pet that dirty, hyper, bug-ridden, furry, in-your-face, giant-clawed mess of an animal.

I can't explain what comes over a person.  I only know it does.  I just hope we don't wake up one morning to find the charred remains of Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvannia and New Jersey.