Sacrifice Or Reasonable Service?

There’s been much mulling in my mind of how I will handle the very busy holiday season that’s almost upon us. I’m talking about church events and responsibilities/ committees we’re on etc. These things are out of my control.  How can I be serving cheerfully without becoming stressed when it feels like life really is too busy? How can I enjoy the moments instead of focusing so much on what needs done that I miss out on the special events, even when I’m present?

Every Friday night or weekend for the next 5 weeks, we have things going on that were distinctly involved in and/or responsible for.  Each event is clearly mapped out in my mental and physical calender. A trip, a variety of church/school functions, and a local wedding which means hosting and more. Besides this, I also happen to be on to clean church, be Sunday host and teach the ladies Sunday School class one Sunday in the next month to 6 weeks.  Facing it with dread because I’m unsure how I’ll handle everything, isn’t the best route, but it’s the most natural for me. (Praying about it comes naturally too, just sayin’.)  Any more prayers for survival are welcome. Jerald reminds me these are all opportunities to serve Jesus and I heartily agree.  A willing spirit, ready to serve is super important in church life. If we don’t possess that spirit, it tells things about our heart. I think my heart is willing, but the Bible also says the heart is deceitful. (Jeremiah 17:9) I should probably do a heart check. (Psalms 139:23 & 24)

I do love to serve Jesus but I wish these shindings and responsibilities weren’t arranged in one big splat. I wish it was more spread out and it wasn’t at such a busy season. What am I indicating by this wish?  Do I like to serve Jesus at my convenience?? That doesn’t sound like the Bible I read where it speaks about sacrifice and self denial. Sometimes we’d like to congratulate ourselves for the multitude of sacrifices were making in all our serving. But that goes kersplat when you read Romans 12:1 where it speaks of presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice which is your reasonable service. We’re only doing what we’re called to do. We can never sacrifice enough to repay the sacrifice Christ made for us. Debtors indeed! Am I living like I’m grateful for His sacrifice?!

Its true. The Christian life isn’t about serving at our convenience. Yet at the same time,  how do we balance church related functions which, indeed make us busy, combined with our own family/personal needs? I become irritated that life has to be so busy.  I’ve felt it before this time of year. It annoys me that the beautiful Thanksgiving/Christmas season is dotted with so many activities that I’m nearly left panting. What’s a person to do? You can’t cut out church events like the Thanksgiving or Christmas supper, the youth functions, the school Christmas program, the caroling. You can cut out things like shopping for gifts, but that’s not a project on my agenda.

How do we keep from becoming overworked and underslept? Some of us women are more apt to feel overwhelm than others. Are you feeling like me? There’s times I wish I could just run away and hide until its over. Kinda like Elijah who was depressed with life and asked God to let him die and the Lord said “no, I still have work for you to do.” (1 Kings 19)

I wonder, Is God testing me to see how I respond? I’ve been praying that He would heal me and He has been. There’s no way I could have handled everything I have going now, a year ago. Is He putting me to the test now, to see if I’m willing to serve Him even if it makes me extra busy? The quote ”busy is blessed” is so true.  I’m blessed to be involved in a good church!  I’m blessed to have health to serve!  What if I suddenly broke my leg and would be laid up for the next 6 weeks? Beyond a doubt I would repent in dust and ashes immediately or sooner.  How much rather I’d be up busy and serving, than to be laid up needing to be served!

So how do we find balance? Here’s a few points I came up with but it’s not a conclusive list. I’d be happy to hear yours!

☆ Be diligent in Bible reading. We have many responsibilities, but it’s also our personal responsibility to maintain daily efforts to stay engaged in our walk with God. If I’m losing my connection with God because these other activities (which are good and right!) are so involving and stressful, then I have erred.

☆ Spend time in prayer. If I’m only praying on the run instead of on my knees, I’m missing out. Praying on the run is fine and I do it all the time but I still need that solo time in dedicated prayer.

☆ Ask God each morning for wisdom to know exactly what’s necessary to do and what I can cut out. This can be very hard to discern.

☆ Ask God to fill my heart with peace instead of the ruffled feelings of stress.

☆ Ask God to help me be grateful and serve with joy. Maybe there’s more of my attitude that hinges on ungratefulness than I realize.

☆Be intentional with limiting my own projects at home, so that I’m able to give where God has asked me.

Examples. Maybe I can’t clean that space that’s bugging me. Or sew that dress for the Christmas supper. Maybe I’ll have to give up baking sourdough bread right now.  I can’t plan my own days so full and expect to still serve elsewhere with a heart of love. If I’m low on sleep and high on stress, its nearly certain I’ll inadvertently pull on the coat of martyerdom. I’ll feel picked on and be huffing and puffing about why I have to work so hard and why we have to be helping with this and on and on I’ll stumble down Complaining street. (Psalms 144:14) And I completely miss the opportunity for joy in serving. 

☆ Before the events, ask God to help me be fully engaged in, and enjoy the moments of serving. Not just plowing through with a survival attitude.

Here’s a poem about Elijah that I wrote many years ago. Can you relate?

Under The Juniper Tree

How often are we like Elijah of old? We’re tired of life and the duties we hold

So we find ourselves a “Juniper tree”- From cares of this life we ask to be free.

The Lord may answer and grant our request, But He wants us to grow by passing the test

The Lord may speak with something quite great, Or sometimes He’ll answer, “for now you just wait.

In a still small voice He often will speak, To find that Voice we must diligently seek,

So listen real close what He has for you,  Arise and work with strength anew!

♥️ Wishing you Christ’s Peace and Joy in serving this Holiday Season. It is only our reasonable service.

An Intro And Welcome

A hearty hello to you my faithful readers and an extra howdy to all the new ones!! I’m happy to gird up my loins and write again. Praise God I’m feeling better than I did a couple months ago and heaps better than a year ago! My mental capacity is more stable, though still prone to sink below sea level if my ship is over loaded. But I’m blessed for the healing God has given!

I’ve had a stack of new subscribers in the last months since I took a break from writing. How they happened to come while I was on strike I’d like to know, so if you want to tell me who you are I’d be pleased to hear from you. And thank you for being here!

In light of that, I thought I would reintroduce myself… No, my name and height hasn’t changed and I’m not in the habit of sharing my weight. (Sorry if you were getting your hopes up.) If you want to know where in the world we live read my home page.

Quirks to describe me:

I love healthy food but not the effort it takes for those meals to appear on my table.

I love naps but not the time it takes out of my day. Most days it’s a ‘have to’ thing.  Some days I’m able to plow through without one which always feels like a great time saver. But then I drop in bed rather early so I don’t know which saves more time.

I love to declutter, organize, or decorate my house. Frequently I find myself caught in any of those without previous intentions.

I find it hard to make conversations with new  people or those you bout half know, but not enough to dive into heart stirring conversations. In my head I’m trying to think of what to say but as soon as anything comes out it sounds awkward. Sometimes the conversation goes better thanks to the other person’s contributions. Then I relax and enjoy visiting. I come away pleased with myself for being involved in good discussion with a perfect stranger.

I’m a task oriented person who loves to cross things off the list and it takes discipline to stop working. But no matter how fast or hard I work, the house never stays free of crumbs, dust, and detached hair. Nor do meals drop onto the table through the ceiling. Or clean laundry glide into the drawers. And so I keep working, hoping to- no, make that wishing to, someday reach the end of my mental ‘to do’ list. Maybe when I’m 89. 🤞

Now some words about my family. I don’t like bragging but neither do I want to bring up their faults. I’ll try to provide average information.

My good man Jerald is covered up being salesman and secretary for the local Mid-America Structures. (He switched from being a BigIron Sales Rep last winter.) He manages their dealer network plus has a couple lots where he sells sheds himself. He’s often meeting customers who want to look at or buy sheds. Him and I endeavor to make a weekly appointment with each other to nurture our relationship. Tuesday night is date night. It generally consists of early bedtime for the children so we can visit uninterrupted. I applaud him for being good at protecting our evening. These nights will get trampled quite easy in the roar of life, if not protected.

Reece is 3 and plays all boy- Its tractors, combines, boards, and tools. He doesn’t give slack for quietness aside from sleeping, for he is in the question stage of life. My most used answer is “I don’t know”. You would think a Mom in her 30s would know a few things but the amount of times I say “I dont know” in a day’s time is alarming. His questions are simple such as “who’s vehicle is that?” (Parked beside the road) “What’s that man doing?” (A random walking stranger) But how am I to know these answers? He digs out the bathroom scale to “check my feet” he says. (I wish feet were the only thing for me to check when I stand on it.) We rejoice he’s F I N A L L Y potty trained! I despaired the child would ever learn. We persevered, prayed about it, and had him pray about it and eventually he learned. Indeed, we praise God!

Josie is in a growth spurt. She requires extra food and lots of sleep.  At 7 years old she’s a social bug like her Daddy and school is her world! Saturdays are dreaded because it means a day at home. Often her first questions as soon as she’s home from school are: “Can I have a snack” and “what are we having for supper?” In this case an “I don’t know” is hardly acceptable even if it’s occasionally true. She’s matured to sleeping in her own basement bedroom and wakes with her alarm clock.  She enjoys reading in bed at night or when she wakes before her alarm. I’m grateful for the good collection of story books from back when I taught school or that her Dad had growing up. She polished off the Laura Ingalls series in surprisingly rapid succession.

And here’s a Summer family photo

Tell me, what makes you unique?

You can reach out to me at jeraldsflower@gmail.com, I would love to hear from you!

Guest Post- The Magic Of Sourdough

This post is written by my friend Valerie Miller. We’ve been besties for years and both find healthy living intriguing and necessary. Though miles apart, we still often chat a couple times a week.  A year ago she graciously sent me sourdough starter by mail. Since then my family and I happily devour sourdough bread on a regular basis. If you’ve not yet given it a try, there’s no better time than now to delight your taste buds and digestive system!

Sourdough: the rage in many a kitchen across the world. Although sourdough is a hot topic, and a popular trend these days, it’s a trend I’m very happy to subscribe to, so much so that my sourdough starter has taken the status of a pet, and making yummy, nourishing sourdough goodies has become a hobby.

Bread is Biblical! Its interesting to take note of the way bread was a staple, and necessary for physical survival in Bible times. Of course, most special of all is the fact that Jesus proclaims himself as the Bread of Life, in a spiritual sense.  Sourdough is believed to originate in ancient Egypt and remained the main method of leavening bread until bakers yeast replaced it a couple hundred years ago. In recent years, bread has become a villain because so many people have difficulty digesting it. And rightfully so. The bread you find on the grocery store shelf has been made with less than stellar grains, added preservatives, artificial flavors, and synthetic vitamins!

Sourdough bread can be made with 3 simple ingredients: flour, salt, and water. How incredible! I’d love to meet the person who discovered the magic of sourdough! 
Sourdough starter contains a mixture of lactic acid and wild yeast. During the fermentation process, these beneficial bacteria partially break down and “predigest” the starch and gluten proteins found in grains. Sourdough is not gluten free, but because of this process that has taken place, many people with a gluten sensitivity can enjoy sourdough bread. This process also puts sourdough bread lower on the glycemic index. In other words, it doesn’t spike your blood sugar like yeast bread does.

Baking with sourdough isn’t hard! I’ll admit, I was intimidated by it at first. I thought it was a finicky thing that would produce only nice bread for the professionals. And I’m not a professional, so I anticipated ugly, flat bread! It’s true that I’ve had my share of flops, but those aren’t the norm. And flops are the perfect opportunity for the yummiest French toast!

Get a starter from a friend. You can also make your own starter, but its much easier to start out with an established starter. To feed your starter, you will want to feed with equal amounts of starter to flour and a little less water. It’s important to use unbleached flour, and non chlorinated water to feed your starter. My favorite flour to use  is King Arthur bread flour. It yields a robust, bubbly starter. Starter stored on the counter at room temperature needs to be fed once a day to keep it alive. Here’s the good part (and what I do): you can store your starter in the fridge if you’d like, and feed it only once a week. When you’re ready to use your starter for baking, take it out of the fridge, feed it, and after several hours, it’ll be ready to use. 
Before attempting to make bread, you’ll want to take note of how active and mature your starter is. A good rule of thumb is that it must double in 5 hours to be strong enough for a good rise in bread. The day before making your bread, feed it 3 times, morning, noon, and evening. It will be ready to go the next morning. For the recipe below, I start out with ¼ cup starter, feed it ¼ cup flour, and a little water. By noon, I have a ½ cup of starter to feed with ½ cup flour, and water. Before bedtime, its grown to 1 C, which I feed 1 cup flour, and water. The next morning you’ll have 2 cups starter, the perfect amount for your bread! (Be sure to save out a tablespoon or 2 of starter to set back and feed for the next time!)


Sourdough Sandwich Bread
2 C fed sourdough starter
1 ½ C water
2 T honey
2 T melted butter, or oil
Mix all together in your mixer bowl. 
Add: 
5 Cups bread flour
Mix for 3-4 minutes
Turn the mixer off and let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
Add 2 ½ tsp salt, and mix/kneed for 10 minutes
Remove the dough from the mixer, put it into a dish, and cover with a lid or plastic wrap. Let it rise till double, approximately 3 hours. Punch the dough down, divide and shape into 2 loaves. Put the dough into well-greased bread pans, prick with a fork, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rise till double. (Approximately 3 hours)
Bake at 375 for 35 minutes. Butter the tops and let the loaves rest in the pans till partially cool. This will help keep the loaves soft and prevent the bottom from getting crusty.

Sourdough pancakes
2 C fed sourdough starter
2 eggs
1/4 C melted butter
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Mix the starter, eggs,butter and salt. Add the baking powder and soda and mix just until incorporated. Fry pancakes in lots of butter!



If you’re interested in making artisan sourdough bread, this is my favorite recipe. I do prefer a different baking time, 30 minutes covered and 5 minutes uncovered.
https://littlespoonfarm.com/sourdough-country-loaf-recipe/

I enjoy selling sourdough goodies at a local Farmer’s Market

I’m Valerie Miller, wife of David and mama to Austin, Felicity, and Eric. We reside in Athens, TN. As a busy mom, with a side of homeschooling, I don’t find much time for hobbies these days. Healthy living/eating, of which sourdough is a large part, has become my “hobby”, and it’s so satisfying to know I’m fueling my family with nourishing food! You can contact me at fivesouthernmillers@gmail.com

Gardens And Greenbeans

Mary Mary quite contrary, how does your garden grow?

Well, the picture  shows the answer for ours. There’s little produce found amidst the weeds. Jerald is the gardener around here and I help him sometimes with mulching or such. But this year something went koo koo to a greater extent than normal.  It’s an overall flop of about 90%. I wouldn’t be suprised at all if this was the norm if the garden was my responsibility. (Actually, there wouldn’t be a garden if I had to do it- I’d patronize Farmers Markets.) Because of bad experiences like this year, gardens depress me. And some people say gardens are therapy?! Life. Growth. They feel so close to nature.  I see weeds, bugs, probable death of plants and imaginative snakes. I feel close to dirt.  Occasionally there’s actual food to eat.

The poor green beans produced a couple pans of beans instead of buckets like usual. We ate corn once and decided we can buy corn on the cob that’s much better, so we never tried it again.  The cucumbers gave a measly crop of 3 or 4 tiny ones that were actually eatable. The melons look promising but the coons have been feasting on them well before their time, so we have yet to see if we’ll get to enjoy any.  The tomatoes finally started ripening last week.  (Way behind times I know, but I’m just grateful to even be getting any!) But that could change too.  It’s either feast or famine on zucchini and this year we hit famine. Not only did the zucchini perish but the summer squash died right along with it. I’m holding my breath for this volunteer summer squash at the edge of the garden. Don’t ask me how it got there.  Just maybe I’ll get a few to eat fresh?! That off colored leaf there worries me.

As far as I know we have a good crop of potatoes because we haven’t dug them yet.  The sweet potatoes look green and viney so I have my hopes up about them too.

If you have a good crop of green beans and want a slick way to can them, try out oven canning! Here’s how I did mine last summer.

Fill quart jars with your clean and snapped beans. Add: 1 teaspoon salt and 1 Tablespoon lemon juice. Bottled is fine.  Fill about half full with water, wipe rims and screw on lids and rings.

Place cookie or bread racks in the oven on top of your oven racks. This gives stability to the jars. Do not place jars on a baking sheet! The jars will need even heat circulating  throughout. 

Fill your oven with jars. Turn to 270*. Begin timing after oven has preheated. Bake for 3 hours. Turn oven off and let the jars inside until they’re mostly cooled. I like to do it in the evening then I can turn the oven off at bedtime and by morning the jars are cool enough to remove. (They may still be warm but will be sealed)

This method can be used for pints but reduce the baking time to 2 ¹/² hours.

I love the simplicity of oven canning!  No need to run that pressure cooker all day long,  getting only 7 quarts canned at a time. You can chuck your oven full of jars and have them all done in one whack! And no pressure to keep you on edge either!

For more oven canning recipes read here.

May you feel blessed that your garden is hardly as bad as mine and if it is, know your not alone! 

I’m not a gardener, so my  flowers should be admired. Only one germanium has died so far! 😜 And we love our front porch at day’s end.

On a different note, I will be taking a break from writing for some time.  Because of my mental health the last two months, we are trying to cut out any possible stress factors. I enjoy writing and don’t like to count it as a stressor, but my hubby thinks otherwise.

I do have a guest post coming in the next month, so will still be posting that. 

Thank you for reading and understanding!

Sew Basic Cape Dress Patterns

Before I met Sew Basic dress patterns, I had an old pattern that I used back when I was in my twenties. As any Mommy knows, going through pregnancies & nursing can change your body a lot. I would just guess around on my pattern, adding or cutting off here and there, or exchanging my regular bodice for a nursing pattern when I needed it. I had to play around with it until I got it perfected. But then if you loose weight after baby, or perhaps can’t loose that weight, your previous dresses may or may not fit. I did a lot of changing around and adjusting with many dresses I sewed! Seams didn’t always match up either. Also, with my old pattern I would use the bodice piece for the cape- I  had to remember to fold in the side, & not cut as wide, but then cut wider at the top, making my own guesstimated slant cut. (Actually not as complicated as it sounds) But its another thing I love about the Sew Basic patterns- they have a separate cape pattern included!

Around 2 years ago I finally tried out the Sew Basic Cape dress patterns for myself and absolutely love them! Yay what preciseness and yay what beautiful seams!! I’ve used the little girl dress patterns quite awhile for Josie. It’s super easy to just order the next size whenever she needs it! Or for myself, I have lost over 30 pounds in the last year, and it was so easy to simply order a smaller pattern!

Sew Basic dress patterns were designed by a Mennonite lady, Michelle Oberholtzer. She has an Estsy shop where she sells a wide variety of sizes.  From little girls dresses all the way up to women’s size 48. They are just as the name suggests- basic and simple.  I love the design and easy to understand pattern! These patterns are also available at many Mennonite or Amish fabric stores.  Mt. Hope Fabrics & Gift Shoppe in Mt. Hope Ohio carries these patterns as well as a beautiful selection of fabrics. They have prompt shipping services too! You can look them up online or call them at 330-674-5292.

I haven’t used these yet but Michelle has added a nursing bodice to her line of patterns. What a brilliant idea! Now when you need to have nursing access you can simply use the nursing bodice in your size!

The dress patterns come printed on large paper, which you will then need to cut out  yourself. It comes with a sheet of step by step instructions on how to sew the dress as well as a sheet of pattern adjustment how to’s if needed. She thought of everything. And these are beautiful patterns!

The patterns all come with a variety of options. You can do a fitted or gathered sleeve. You can do a fitted, gathered or elastic waist. There’s different skirt patterns clearly marked with the style.

To figure out your dress size, you simply measure your bust and that number will give you the size of dress. If your between two sizes, you choose the one you think would fit you best.  Example, when I first started with these patterns I ordered size 42 even though I measured a little smaller. (I hate tight dresses and would rather err on the side of having it a bit loose than too snug.) It fit well for me, although I made some minor adjustments to my liking- I felt the sleeve hole was a little snug, so I cut the pattern a tad deeper. The bodice tends to be more short waisted, but that’s not a problem because I just cut the bodice pattern a little longer.  If your really short waisted, there’s the option of folding up the bodice to make it shorter.

Bodice & cape patterns

The neck line in these patterns tend to be a bit large, so you may want to keep that in mind. Just don’t cut quite as deep and don’t sew the neck line as deep either. Snipping the inside of the neck almost to the seam line really helps the neck to lay neatly.

When I first started with this pattern, I had  used the fitted skirt pattern which only has darts in it. It fit nice but later I decided it was not ample enough. So now I use the gathered skirt, cutting it just a tick smaller and then I have plenty of extra to put in two good sized pleats- approximately 2″ each.  I really like my dresses this way. It provides fullness without the bulkiness of a bunch of gathers. I feel it’s important to have enough fullness in the skirt for modesty and only a dart or very small pleat will not give you that fullness.

The skirt pattern I use. I have the side folded in where I cut it smaller.

I don’t care for puffy, gathered sleeves, so I use the fitted pattern. Although its fitted, there’s enough extra that it doesn’t fit tightly over my arms. That’s something I would  caution against; don’t have your fitted sleeve so tight that it fits snugly over your arms. It can easily happen. Tight sleeves aren’t modest just as tight skirts aren’t either.

My sleeve pattern

These adult dress patterns have a lot of darts. I don’t like the time it takes to sew them in, but it truly is worth it! (And it really don’t take long to sew them in, it’s just that I’m always in a hurry and I don’t like the extra step.) The darts in the bodice makes for a neat fit. And I especially think the darts in the back cape, helps so the cape doesn’t awkwardly stand away from the bodice. I don’t utilize the darts in the front cape but instead, I cut it wider to allow for pulling in gathers. Without an elastic waist, I feel gathers really help with adding fullness in the cape, so that it doesn’t outline what shouldn’t be seen.

One of my favorite dresses using the Sew Basic pattern.

These dress patterns are great for anyone but especially for someone learning to sew because they’re so simple. If you’re looking for a quality pattern for yourself or daughters, I would urge you to try one of these! I love to sew and what’s more rewarding than turning out a neatly sewed dress? It always makes me feel accomplished!

I like to organize my patterns in plastic sleeves in this large folder. Using masking tape & a sharpie makes it easy to see what style pattern I’m looking for. 

The Quiet Days

For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; in returning and rest shall ye be saved;  in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.  Isaiah 30:15

To clarify- The quiet I’m talking about in this post is quiet as in uneventful. Not quiet as in silence. Here is a glimpse of an ordinary day:

I rise out of bed a great while before my children. After rinsing my mouth and a gulp of water, I dip my finger in a jar of coconut oil and poke a glob into my mouth. Coconut oil has antimicrobial properties so oil pulling refreshes the morning mouth. I do this while getting dressed and tidying the bedroom. 

I gather laundry and start a load. Next I prep my supplements for the day. The early morning sun begs me to stroll in its beauty. By the time my walk is completed I am starving hungry.  I fix breakfast of avocado toast, bone broth and fruit. Whenever possible I like sitting on the deck to enjoy my breakfast and read my Bible. I cherish these precious morning moments and find this stillness very refreshing.

I feed my children whenever they wake; my husband doesn’t eat breakfast. After the children are dressed, the breakfast mess is cleared away and the house tidied, I start my day’s work which might only consist of changing laundry loads, or making food. Or maybe mixing up a batch of sourdough bread, cleaning or a sewing project.  Naps or quiet time isn’t until two thirty or three, so the hours until then is the main time I have to accomplish my work for the day.  After naps its time to get laundry off the line and put away before starting supper. I slide a casserole in the oven and chop a salad. Josie is the table setter. Brewing sweet tea for my man takes a meal just a notch higher. After supper dishes I’ll sit in the sauna for 30-40 minutes. At 170 degrees, the pores roll with sweat. With an open lymphatic system, it boosts detoxification. After showering and family devotions, getting children tucked in bed is priority.  This is the end of a quiet day. I like ordinary. How about you? 

I don’t think its the vacations, the weddings, the company, or the social events that are essential for quality of life. Those are all enjoyable in moderation but I can’t properly focus on the important things of life when my mind is in a whirl of intense activities going on around me. Don’t we all need the quiet days when we can muse on life in an unhurried fashion and remember what life really is about? Maybe you thrive on social life which is fine. But can you be faithful and fulfilled in the quiet days?

Think with me about Queen Esther in the Bible. We don’t how she lived her life prior to becoming queen. This particular story recorded in the book of Esther covers only a few days of her life.  But what we read of her reveals a deeper level of dignity and righteous living.  I’m confident many of her days were quiet and ordinary.  She had no idea she would someday be a queen with a life or death matter hinged upon her! She was a wise woman to ask the Jews to fast and pray for her, while she and her maidens did the same. She could not have been the courageous woman she was had she not been faithful in her quiet days.

Among the Jews, women were expected to be quiet and serve in their home. But Esther stepped out of the cultural norm and risked her life to help God’s people.

Many of us are quietly serving in our homes day after day for year after year. Who notices when we strive to teach our children obedience when we are bone weary? Who notices when we take the time to prepare nutritious meals? Who notices when we faithfully wash the clothes and put them back in the drawers? Perhaps nobody but God. And as soon as we don’t do it, somebody notices!!

But how important it is to live faithful lives! We have know idea what prominent place we could be called to yet in our lives.  But if we were, could we be courageous like Esther? Only if we’re rooted deeply in faithful obedience to the Lord in the ordinary can we also be faithful in the prominent.

He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.  Luke 16:10

On a typical, hanging out laundry type of day, be grateful for a quiet day at home. Think of some eventful things your glad are not happening today. Are you glad you don’t have a court hearing to attend? Are you grateful your not on stranded beside the road with vehicle trouble in downtown New York city? Something I often think of is how glad I am I’m not scheduled for surgery that day. Or how grateful I am were not in the hospital with a child. Think your life is boring and uneventful?  Be grateful for the ordinary, and keep on faithfully serving where God has placed you right now. Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?  Esther 4:14

Here’s a few more snapshots of quiet days at home.

Spruce up your water with fresh mint sprigs
Recently I tried making artisan sourdough

Two Lovers In The Big City

The morning dawned with a dewy mist of splendor. The sun’s brilliant rays matched the beaming smiles of the bride and groom. Could it really be true that today they were saying “I Do”?!! A perfect dream come true!  Well, not perfect but pretty close.

Eleven years later and we’re still a perfect pair- perfectly imperfect. But how love grows and changes along the way! It certainly does change and at times, quite rapidly. Only a week before this, I was feeling irritated at Jerald and full of despair. Weeping with tears and discombobulated thoughts, I meditated seriously how we probably need marriage counseling. How I prayed! And also prayed I would feel better by the next week. Sure enough, God answered my prayer! When I was feeling emotionally stable again and mentioned all this the next week, Jerald laughed at me and shared his wisdom.

Last year when we celebrated our 10 year anniversary, we enjoyed a few days in Gulf Shores which you can read about here. We took the children along. While we thoroughly enjoyed the beach, I actually enjoyed this year much more since it was only us two and the travel was minimal- I’m not a traveler!

This year we celebrated a few weeks post anniversary. On June 10, we woke the children, finished up a few things and headed south to drop off the children with Steve and Karla. What a blessing to have such trusty caregivers! The children were too excited about staying there to be sad they weren’t going with us.

Then we were off to Kansas City with no younguns in the back seats. A delightful drive indeed. No squabbles and none of this “he hit me” “It’s my turn” type of talk. No deadlines or appointments to meet. And what pleasure to chatter uninterrupted to the one I love most! (Uninterrupted being the key word here.) We discussed a wide variety of ideas and possibilities. I saw a jet low in the sky and nearly burst out with “look at the airplane”! But caught myself just in time.

Now we’re simple country folk not up with city life. We got into downtown looking for a place to park. Spending money on something as simple as parking wasn’t what we were here for. Seeing nearly vacant lots, I piped up “There’s a spot”! “Or there”! I kept yelping out suggestions to my knowledgeable husband. Advice freely given, you know. Every answer came back the same. “You can’t get in there”. “You can’t get in there”. Finally we tried one but had no clue what to do to lift the parking bar. So we hit the ‘help’ button. “Can I help you”? the lady answered. “Yeah how do we get in here” Jerald asked. “That’s for employees”. “Oh”. The wife should have kept her mouth closed, because I think, under such noisy influence, the husband gave in to trying out a lot. “But we’re not in a hurry,  we have nothing planned,” we assured ourselves. We put it in reverse, drive back up the way we had just come and resigned to the parking garages.

I hate parking garages. They give me claustrophobia.  Scene 1- All I can think of is the concrete floors crashing down beneath thousands of tons of vehicles. Of course this would happen while I’m looking for a parking space or walking out to find my vehicle. I can imagine myself instantly crushed to bits. Or partially crushed but yet alive, yelling in tortureous pain to be delivered. Scene 2- Just by looking at those dingy low ceilings reminds me of being stuck in prison or in some vacant dungeon, by kidnappers. I have no experience in either but my brain is creative in imaginary scenarios.  I take deep breaths when I’m out from underneath the despairing possibilities.

The depressing outlook. Doesn’t it give you the creeps?!

After the uneventful walk out from the parking garage and some deep breathing of fresh air, we amble hand in hand, to Panara Bread, which is located inside a massive building of some sort. Eating lunch outside gave such a touristy feel.

Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

We walked up the streets to visit the Federal Reserve Bank to learn about Federal reserve notes. These are the kind of notes everyone loves because they’re worth so much! Watching the inspection of bills was informative and super interesting. The machine is hand loaded with bills. The machine checks each bill for counterfeits, graffiti, or tears. When one is discovered, it automatically shreds it and a brand new bill gets put into place. This way the exact dollar amount stays the same. The robots moving pallets of cash was intriguing. The realization of the billions of dollars so close to you and yet so far, was fascinating! One full pallet of $100 dollar bills is worth 64 million!!! If the vault is full of 100 dollar bills it would equal more than 138 billion!!!! And we were right outside the window of these millions of dollars!! The thought was enriching.

There were bags of free money available which held approximately $83. We grabbed one but unfortunately it was unusable. Otherwise we would tour this place more often.
Here’s how you increase your face value.
This block of gold weighs 28lbs and is worth over 600,000.

After touring that rich place, we trotted back to that parking garage, climbed in our vehicle and drove out completely unscathed. We headed over to Crossroads Hotel and checked in….at the grand hour of 3:00 pm. But we didn’t have any schedules except relax and enjoy each other! I kept exclaiming how relaxing it is without the care of the children. Normally when we’re at a motel, we’ve been traveling. Often it’s nigh bedtime and I keep trying to collect my brain, figuring out who should use the bathroom and get cleaned up first, how to keep noise levels to a minimum, cut out the bed jumping or how exactly to occupy the ones who aren’t getting ready for bed.

But there was none of this since my hubby is not in the habit of bed jumping or hollering. We could simply lounge around in the unique, old fashioned hotel. The room was completely adorable and the glass, walk in shower luxurious. We headed out around 5 to eat supper and do some shopping.

To be sure, we are not in the habit of patronizing such luxurious hotels. This was a splurge! But we had points on our credit card that could only be used for travel. And besides, Anniversaries are special to celebrate! Every year together is truly a gift from God!!

Crossroads Hotel
Isn’t this cute?!
We’d give this place a 5 star review
His and Hers
Red Lobster was happy to feed us supper. The Baja bowl I had was drool worthy. And don’t ask how much peach tea we drank! 😋

We shopped a variety of stores that evening looking for decorative bed pillows. It’s something I’ve never spent money for. But recently we redid our bedframe which resulted in a large open space on the wall. Just what we wanted- because minimalism is so peaceful. We had agreed to get some large pillows to add color. Indecisive me, could never conclude on this alone. Thus it was the perfect time to shop together. And we did. I was unsure of the ones I found. After he gave his opinion, I put those back and we headed over to Target. We found some we both liked but I was still reluctant. I didn’t want to spend so much just for pillows! We made the purchase but concluded to stop at an At Home the next day just to make sure we weren’t missing something better. I was convicted I nearly exhausted my long-suffering hubby’s forbearance levels. It was a good thing we had no deadlines. Or maybe not?!

Saturday morning we had breakfast delivered to our room.

After our leisurely morning we headed towards home, stopping along the way at a couple stores and then also ran into town wide yard sales. But it was past bargain time since it was Saturday afternoon. We made a purchase at the first sale. Otherwise we got a good walk in and that’s it.

And sure enough At Home was worth the stop. They have aisles and aisles of pillows! We found the perfect 3rd pillow to add color to go along with the one pale green wall in our room. I have plants in clay pots which go along with this terra cotta color. I’ve learned to love my houseplants! The ‘throw’ you see under the pillows were cheapies- two beach towels.

The only thing that disappointed me about our trip was that I started feeling ill Friday evening. Sore throat and slightly achey. I didn’t sleep well at all which was a shame in such comfortable conditions with no children to wake us. Unfortunately I felt sick on Saturday but managed to drag myself around. We picked up the children and arrived home about 4 pm. It was wonderful to be home again- all together ❤️ Our trip wasn’t perfect, but pretty close.

Home: the best hotel ever!

On Eating Out And Pie

Spring hobbled in hesitantly this year with so  much huffing and puffing it sounded like it would blow the house down! The weather kept throwing cold spells at us with only a sprinkling of mature warmth. But finally. At the very end of May- Yay!!! Yay for bright sunshine, blue skies, the scent of fresh cut grass and pleasing temperatures! And its an all time triple yay for NO wind!! I’m confident its been worse this year. I don’t want to complain, but can I squeak out one negative comment? I promise to also include positivity. I love fresh air but I only wish it wouldn’t move at such an energetic speed!  When we have a day with sunshine and zero wind, it’s in order to pause and meditate on the fact. And for sure, thank the Creator of the wind that there’s no wind! 

With the arrival of Summer, we must eat out. At least, if you ask my children. And I doubt yours are much different than mine.  Eating out, but not in town. Eat in the country. In Nature. In the shade. In the grass. My children absolutely love to eat outside and I do too. It’s simply enjoyable to eat food outdoors plus it cuts down on tableside crumbs, which makes it a win win! It’s my belief that it takes minimal effort to take the food and accessories outdoors.

Here’s the method I use: First off, just cook whatever you have on your menu. You don’t have to grill or have picnic foods. A casserole or pan of pizza is fine and often more simple than grilled hot dogs or hamburgers with all the toppings.

I keep a beautiful Hearth & Hand magnolia tray that’s extra large, within easy reach. This was a Mother’s Day gift from my husband one year and I love and use it so much! On this tray I pile our food, utensils, plates, cups etc. Utilize every possible space. On top of the plates I’ll set the casserole dish or a bowl of food. Stack the cups together.  On the very top I throw on the tablecloth. There might be a pitcher of tea and maybe one or two other items to carry separately but my big tray holds 90% of things. 

This tray comes from Target
We ate meatballs, fried potatoes and broccoli cauliflower salad this time

  Then you just haul it outside. You’ll need the tablecloth first so that’s why you place it on top of everything else. Throw that on the picnic table (or grass), then set out the plates and food and voila! You’ve got an outdoor meal without making a dozen trips back and forth!

We love our grain bin gazebo Jerald built last Fall! If you’d like info on how to construct one yourself, you can read about it here

This tray method may not work as well if you have a large family.  But you could still use the same idea except you’ll need to solicit help to carry out the serving bowls of food, because obviously it won’t all fit on one tray.

Sometimes even for lunch, I’ll fix the children’s plates with leftovers then pile that along with their water cups on a cookie sheet and take it out to where they’re playing.  It’s fun for them besides it helps keep the kitchen neat! On a rainy day recently we even had an indoor picnic in their tent under the bunk bed.

When it’s only our family, there’s several reasons I prefer using real dishes and utensils for picnic eating above disposable. 1) It doesn’t blow away in the energetic air. 2) Especially for children who need stability in more ways than one, real plates are much more practical to eat off of. I use a malmac type. 3) The heavier dishes help hold down the tablecloth in the energetic air.

When I’m hosting large groups of people I do like disposables for easy cleanup.  But I’d still recommend having a couple malmac bowls if you have small children in attendance.  But if you don’t live in Nebraska this may not be necessary. 

Now I’m coming at you with that piece of pie-  a refreshing orange pie which tastes like Summer in one bite. Not hard to make. Perfect for eating out.

Mandarin Orange Pie

1 ¹/² c water- heat to boiling

5 T. Clear jel

1/2 c water

3/4 c sugar

1 pkg. orange koolaid

2 15 oz. cans Mandarin Oranges, drained.

While water heats, whisk together clear jel and half cup water. Then stir in the sugar and kool-aid. Pour this mixture into the boiling water and cook until thick. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Stir in the oranges. Chill.

White filling: Beat together 4 oz softened creamcheese & 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Last beat in about 3/4 of an 8 oz cool whip.

In a baked pie shell or graham cracker crust, spread a layer of the white filling then top with the orange pie filling. Last, spread with remaining cool whip. Garnish as desired. This can be served immediately or chilled for a few hours. This will make one large pie.

This week, take time to eat outside. That is, if the air isn’t too energetic.

Homage To My Mother

You never fully realize a Mother’s work and influence until you are one yourself. 

My beautiful Mother at her 75th birthday this past February.

She married my Dad at 24 years old. He came from a vastly different background than she.  My dad says with certainty it was the Lord which allowed her to love him.  He was, as he likes to say, a Tennessee hillbilly and she a beautiful Beachy girl. I can only imagine her adjustments after marriage, yet I never heard her enlarge on that. 

She birthed 8 children in 13 years, of whom I am the youngest.  Was she rundown and weary through yet another pregnancy? Did she pray for grace to mother another child when she was already busy to the brim? For by this time she was also the minister’s wife. Did she complain when her husband was gone to yet another church related meeting? Did she feel overwhelmed when Dad was heading out of state for another week of revival meetings?  I do not know.  I have never heard her complain about such things.

When I was growing up, our church had no Sunday host family, as many do now.  There were two others in the ministry but with my Dad now also being the Bishop, it seemed people took for granted we would invite any visitors. So it was many a Sunday found us hosting impromptu visitors for lunch.  My Mom didn’t go to church without being prepared for lunch.  We were a large family as it was, thus we needed to have a meal in waiting. She would often prepare extra but many were the times we still added to that food and accomadeted visitors. One Summer in particular we had visitors almost non stop.  I grew weary of company yet again!! Use hospitality one to another without grudging. (1 Peter 4:9) was an extremely convicting verse that I didn’t care to ponder. I know Mom struggled some with that but I don’t remember her grumbling around about it every weekend either. Once, Dad went through our guest book counting the number of folks we hosted in our home. In a 3 year span we had approximately 1,800 people!!! He still has those statistics downpat today- I just asked him for this post.

One Summer I vividly remember another incident. By now I was about 12- 14 years old. My Dad was gone to Cuba helping establish a small church there.  This was a communists country, but he risked his life to further the gospel. This exact trip he was baptizing and holding communion there.  They did it at night for less chance of discovery.

One night while he was gone, Mom had a terrifying experience. Her bedroom was downstairs in our old house and we children all slept upstairs.  She woke about midnight to see her bedroom door slowly opening. (The door naturally swung open unless propped.  She had a habit of propping the door open at a narrow angle with a slipper, incase any of we children needed something, we could come on in.) As she saw it opening she supposed it to be one of us. So she called out “Marc. Marc”. She thought it’s just my oldest brother getting up for work and needing something. Until she saw the clock showing almost midnight.  There was no answer to her name calling, and the door stopped opening. Indeed, fear struck deep!! She began praying fervently, wondering what she should do! She lay there unmoving, feeling hot with terror. After a minute or two she got a sudden urge to get up, slam that door shut and bolted it! It was an old door with a knob that didn’t lock, but had a sliding lock further up.

She sat back on the bed and decided she will be locked up until morning. ”Certainly there is no going back to sleep,” she thought. Then, ever so lightly, she saw that door knob wiggle!!! She prayed urgently for safety and wisdom to know what to do.  By now a half hour or more had elapsed. She continued in fervant prayer and kept wondering what to do.  She had heard no footsteps or any noise. After about 3 hours, she felt at peace and decided she will open that door, quickly turn on the lights and check all around.  There was not a person in sight, and definitely no evidence to be seen.  She turned back to her bedroom, now shut and locked the door again and slept well the remainder of the night.  

As we children appeared the next morning, she questioned all of us. “Were any of you down here last night?!” Nobody had been. We had windows open that night as we often did. We checked for footprints or any evidence. There were none. After that night, my brothers took turns sleeping on the living room couch until Dad returned home. The event remained a mystery, until Dad came home.  The date and hours of that happening were discovered to be the very hours that Dad, miles away in Cuba, was involved in intense church work. Intense because of the knowledge that they could be caught and imprisoned at any minute. Him and the other bishop had went to pick up the converts, held the baptism ceremony and communion service in a dilapidated building, then drove the converts back home again. A 3 hour event. Satan was fiercely upset at Dad’s activity that night.  Dad was kept safe and so was Mom, but we feel Satan tormented her because she was wife to this man of God.

There are hundreds of sacrifices of a Minister’s wife and do not think they are exempt from troubles, temptation, or torment. God bless every faithful preacher’s wife!! There is much, much behind the scene work, tears, and prayers in supporting her minister husband! Appericiate your ministers and their wives!

The years we lived in Alabama, my Mom also served by sewing coverings for many of our church ladies. She enjoyed it and fitted many hair buns. When there was an interest, she also taught others how to sew them. Sewing coverings is no simple task.

When my Mom is the cook, no one will be exempt from numerous attempts offering more food. “Can I get you anything else? Are you sure you don’t want more?!” I mean, she feeds you a cooked breakfast and asks if anyone wants cold cereal yet! It makes me chuckle just thinking of that. When I was still at home, I’d get petrurbed at all the food and variety she wanted to serve especially when having company. “Shouldn’t we add applesauce yet? Oh we need to put bread on! Let’s have butterscotch and pumpkin pie incase someone don’t like one or the other they have a choice.When having company, she’d often worry whether she would have enough food. I’d be like “Mom just chill! You never run out of food. It’ll be just fine!” But now for some reason when I host, I keenly remind myself of my Mother. And to this day, when I’m at Mom’s house, she has way more food on the table than actually necessary. If you’ve eaten at Mom’s house you know what I mean.

At nearly 72 years old, with divers health ailments, my Dad no longer serves in the ministry. Diabetes, heart disease, and Parkinsons leaves him quite feeble. But Mom faithfully cares for him year after year. She rarely leaves him for more than an hour or two. He’s not able to travel much anymore, so neither does she. I know she’d love to visit her children and grandchildren more often but she sacrifices that desire and remains faithful to her marriage vows, ”in health or in sickness.” They celebrated 51 years together in February of this year.

Mom and Dad and their devoted puppy Paula.

Not only has Mom been a supportive godly wife in big things but even in the small things like honoring his food choices. And believe me when I say he doesn’t eat too healthy. He also enjoys coffee, Lipton tea, and his diet soda. She doesn’t drink any of these herself but still she serves him. And doesn’t harass him of his choices.

Why am I so blessed to have a godly Mother? And to still have her with us at 75 years old and in relatively good health?! Many do not have that privilege. Many have said goodbye to their Mother, perhaps even at a young age. I keenly remember my Mother’s sister Bertha King, who died when her children were very young. My cousins were close to my age. But they grew up without their Mother and I still have mine. Why?

Maybe you are facing your first Mother’s Day without your precious Mother. Maybe your Mom didn’t care much about you and you mostly have sad memories. Maybe your Mother didn’t want you and were raised by another Mother. Maybe you are a Mother but you never got to Mother your darling baby because you said goodbye before you ever met. Maybe you are praying you can be a Mother but God hasn’t answered your prayer.

My heart goes out to all those with grieving hearts today. May God bestow His grace upon you! I don’t have answers why God allows these seemingly unfair things of life. I only know that God would not be God if we could understand His ways.

Treasure your Mother while you have her.

Resurrection Rolls

Sunday in church it was announced that we won’t be having school on Friday because it’s Good Friday. This news was taken with a disgruntled puff of disgust by my first grader sitting beside me. She adores school and the daily activity that involves. “Staying home from school is boring!” she says. Josie hasn’t missed a day of first grade yet, so we’re crossing our fingers for perfect attendance! I perceive we’ll be noticing substantial withdrawal symptoms when school dismisses in a few weeks.

Knowing she’ll be home on Friday, I began thinking what we could do to make it special as well as teaching the real meaning of Easter.

I knew it had to be simple and not majorly time consuming. Josie loves helping with food prep so I knew she would be thrilled to help make something yummy to eat! These Resurrection Rolls is what I came up with. No, its not original with me. I’m not brainy enough to think this up myself. But they are super simple and fun to make! I also plan to have a Bible reading time with the Easter story, then explaining what each item of the rolls represents. Reece and I made these while Josie was at school. It will be a surprise for her on Friday.

Here’s what you need:

1 can refrigerated crescent rolls, 8 large marshmallows, 1/4 cup melted butter. In a small bowl, mix together 1 Tablespoon cinnamon and 1/4 cup sugar and set aside.

Use a sprinkling of flour and flatten out the crescent rolls. Dip marshmallows into butter and roll into cinnamon and sugar mixture. Roll the dough up around the marshmallow and pinch the sides well. (I had trouble with the marshmallows leaking out with some of mine.) Place in greased muffin tin. Bake at 350* for 10-11 minutes. Doubling the recipe might be a good thing- this recipe only makes 8 scrumptious rolls!

These are delicious fresh but if you let cool completely, you can add a cross on top, with white icing. I had some leftover frosting in the fridge so I simply put it in a ziploc bag, snipped off a tiny corner and squeezed it to draw the cross.

Reece had fun playing with the leftover sugar and cinnamon. I saw a drop of something wet in the bowl and asked him if he spit in it. “Yes, I didn’t like it” he said. So be sure there’s plenty of germs equally divided among the rolls! I also asked him to get a rag to clean up the frosting on the floor. He quickly volunteered to lick it up instead.

Explaining the rolls-

The marshmallow represents Jesus: He is pure and white. Sinless. Jesus never did anything wrong but there was still people who didn’t like him, so they crucified him and hung him on the cross.

Dipping the marshmallow into the butter and cinnamon mixture: Jesus’ friends and family were very sad when he died. Because they loved him, they rubbed special oils and spices on his body to prepare him to be buried.

Wrapping the marshmallow in the dough and sealing the seams: Jesus’ friends wrapped his body in special clothes to bury him in.

Place the rolls in the muffin tin: They laid Jesus’ body in a Tomb. The soldiers sealed it with a big stone and guarded it.

Baking the rolls: Jesus was in the Tomb 3 days then He rose from the dead!

Take a bite out of the rolls: And there is the empty Tomb! Praise God, Jesus arose from the dead! Now He is in heaven!

This idea may not be new to you but it was for us. I hope it’s something you can do with your children, to teach the Easter story. This would be a perfect project to do on Easter day. Or if there’s more children off school on Friday, you can have in home art classes! Be sure to include any preschoolers around home too!