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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!

The Days That Were

Many moons ago, I was a young gal living in the South.  Oh the energy I had and the mounds of work I would attack in a day’s time! Hot, sticky nights playing volleyball with my youth group; the air pungent with the scent of wild onions, and always sweet tea around. Ah the carefree days of one’s youth! And I fondly remember the days that were.

My bestie & I pose by my VW back in the day.

Then I was dating- how could life improve? Those sparkly moments of a budding relationship. Then dreaming of a life together…. Ah those beautiful days! And I fondly remember the days that were.

Dating/2010

Then we were married- I moved far from home. But how thrilling to now make this house our home!  Life now as one was sweet and unique; sharing love, forgiving faults. Ah the sweetness of our young bridal days! And I fondly remember the days that were.

Just married/2011

The most darling little face, made us parents one day.  We’re a real Mommy and Daddy with a daughter of our own! Yet we tremble in awe of this precious soul thrust into our care! Life begins as a family of three, and really, how much better could life be?! Those cute baby moments, those fun little ‘firsts’… And I fondly remember the days that were.

Ok. I got a lil carried away with photos and partiality here… but she was so chubby & adorable!!! I still miss this patch of daffodils we had close to our house in Indiana! 😞

Four years later we welcomed with joy- a darling, red haired, sweet baby boy. Big sister, little brother- we’re now a family of four! Ah those precious baby days! And I fondly remember the days that were.

2019. One blonde. One red. Precious!!

The day is drizzly, windy and gray- I’ve not accomplished much this ordinary day. My little boy wrecks havoc in orderly spaces. There are days he plays with things not even toys. But those mischievous, bright blue eyes- ! His humor and love cover a multitude of faults, still, he wears me out many a day. Will he ever tell me he needs to go potty?! Will he ever learn to control his hot headed temper?! Will it really be 25 years until I’m caught up with my work?! Will my daughter ever learn to work cheerfully with nary a grumbling word?! Will she ever learn to turn her clothes right side out, before throwing them in the hamper?! Oh, wait, these are the days that are!! It won’t be long now and I will fondly remember them.

But in fond rememberance of the days of yore, I should remember that most beauty also had sorrow. Among the flowers, there were thorns. And yet I remember the beauty.

In recent days, this thought came upon me: We tend to remember the good in days gone by and forget the sorrow. Yet in the present, we can be so aware of the thorns in our path that we miss the good. Today, remember the beautiful good that’s in your life!

I have a plaque hanging by my kitchen stove with these words:

You will never have this day with your children again. Tomorrow they will be a little older than they were today. Today is a gift. Just breathe, notice, study their faces and little feet. Pay attention. Relish the charms of the present. Enjoy today. It will be over before you know it.” – Anonymous

I know how tough it is to relish the charms amongst the chaos. How difficult it is to notice their little feet. Unless, of course, they’ve stumbled upon one of those thorns along the path. Accompanied by deafining howls.

This smile & red hair just gets me! And to think that I’m his Mommy! 😘🥰

Parent’s Appreciation Banquet

The end of February we were completing our year of being sponsors for our church youth group. Before our term was up, we thought it would be nice for the youth to do a Parent’s Appreciation Banquet. So in this post I’ll be sharing what we did for that event.

At first I couldn’t conclude on centerpiece decor. I love to decorate and when something really strikes me, I know because of the thrill it gives me. I thought & thought but nothing gave me the thrill.

Then early one morning sleep eluded me long before I wanted.  When you can’t sleep you start to think before you even think about thinking. My brain piled up with a thought jam.  Since I was already thinking, I began thinking of potential centerpieces for the Banquet.  I prayed a little prayer asking God to help me know what I should/could do for centerpieces.  In a couple minutes tulips entered my thoughts. “Yes, pink tulips! With bird figurines, eggs and baskets!” It was an instant thrill, and that was settled. “Thank you God!” Of course I wanted to ask the other committee ladies what they thought of the idea before I forged ahead.

The baskets I found at Target but spray painted them white.  The eggs and bird figurines I bought at At Home. The spanish moss I just picked up at Hobby Lobby. Between me and the other committee lady, we had enough white pitchers to use that night.

We decided to use glass dishes, cloth napkins and goblets for class. My friend Kathryn who was assisting me in this banquet planning,  had globe string lights used at her daughter’s wedding.  She generously allowed us to string them up over the tables for that night.  These were our main lighting which gave a very cozy, romantic hue!

  Now on to the menu…. We wanted something elegant and delicious.  We discussed food options and concluded on the following menu: grilled porkloin, twice baked potatoes,  greenbeans with bacon, crunchy romaine salad, dinner rolls, cheesecakes and layer cakes. For drinks we had Welch’s Sparkling Rose- a Valentines exclusive and coffee. For appetizer: chocolate covered strawberries, meat & cheese cups and a pink punch.

Each couple shared a Sparkling Rose drink. The mini cutting boards were a take home gift for each couple.

I found the cutting boards at Hobby Lobby and the mini jam jars we ordered from Amazon.

Dinner in progress
Credits to my man for smoking and grilling the porkloin.
Twice baked potatoes
Appetizer table

We had the youth do various jobs besides serving their parent’s their food. We had 2 guys do valet parking for the couples. We had 2 girls right inside the door to take they’re coats and hang them up. Next we had a greeter girl who directed them to the auditorium where a young married couple served them appetizers. They stayed in there until we were completely ready. Then we had someone from each family go out to the auditorium and escort their parents to their seats.

The coat girls

After an opening and prayer, the youth filed through to fix their parent’s plates. They were to keep tabs on their drinks or anything they needed all evening. Except for dessert we had self serve so they could pick and choose from the variety.

There were a few more cakes that weren’t put out yet and sadly, I failed to get a picture with all of them on the table.

We had some activities afterwards that were fun for everyone:

We had the boys needing to locate their mother’s hand
And then the girls needed to locate their father’s foot!

These activities made for lots of laughter! The girls got the correct feet but 2 of the guys were very unsure which hand was their mother’s and ended up choosing the wrong one!

Following are photos of the youth with their parents.  There was one couple who was not able to get there until later, hence the two empty place settings in the last picture.

L- R. Everett and Ruth Bender. Katie and Galen Steria. Norman and Kathryn Farmwald.
L-R. Karla and Steve Nisly. Michael and Lois Charlton.
L-R. William and Elizabeth Plank. Margaret and Mervin Miller.
L-R. Fred and Drusilla Halteman. Ken and Sue Miller.

I believe everyone enjoyed the evening and it’s good for the youth to think about how much their parents really do and have done for them. It’s also a great way to honor their parents. I hope this will give someone inspiration to plan an Appreciation Banquet for people you love. ❤️

Shoe Organization

It’s getting time for Spring cleaning and organizing, right? Well, if your last month has been as hectic as mine, you didn’t get much of anything accomplished in that department. This ties right in with my silence of late- it’s March and I have only written twice this year!!

The month of February included kitchen renovations, hosting a couple times, planning a Parent’s Banquet for our youth group plus normal life obligations. Now I feel like a panting puppy with its tongue hanging out, catching my breath!

This way of shoe organizing isn’t anything I did recently. We’ve stuck to this method of organizing shoes for years and it works well for us, so I’d like to share it with you.

* We do not wear shoes in our house. This immediately cuts down on a multitude of dirt. A great many years ago I read that people are more susceptible to parasites when wearing shoes in their house. That thought has stuck with me. And struggling with considerable amounts of OCD, germs are a number one phobia.

So think with me, you wear shoes all over the store, into those icky gas stations and over that spit on (and worse!) pavement. Then you come home and walk into your house….. Me thinks I see them germs a squirmin’!

It’s fine if you choose to wear shoes in your house and I’m not trying to disrupt your methods…..Maybe I’m one of the weirdos? Is there someone else like me out there??

I didn’t line up the shoes in neat rows before shooting this picture, because this is real life. I like to organize but at the same time, you have to be realistic.

* Slip in your shoes as you go out the door. I feel privileged to have a garage entrance, and this is where we keep all our shoes. It’s as simple as slipping into them when we leave and slipping them off when we come home. It’s not a problem for our children, because they don’t know anything different. And the best thing?? We never lose shoes.

* Use a hanging shoe organizer to efficiently utilize space. This hosts 8 – 10 pairs or more. Plus, we use an entry bench with 3 drawers and bins. Both the children and me have a small bin to keep shoes in, plus their own set of boots or flip flops that stay out, ready to slip in anytime. The drawers we use for each of our hats, scarves and gloves. A small, 3 drawer plastic organizer is a cheaper option that also works for hats and gloves, which is what we used until we found this bench.

The bench is nice for sitting to tie shoes as well as a drop area when we come home- purses, water bottles, mail etc. Reality- the children sit on the step to put on their shoes😜

In case you noticed the red thing hanging on the wall, it’s a shoe horn. I know, it’s usually for the oldies but I like it even though I’m not 70! It’s wonderful for getting your heel into any boots or shoes that your finger can’t slide behind. It’s handy for children too! Especially when their shoes are getting snug.

The shoe horn in business

* Store off season footwear somewhere else. We have four metal cabinets in the garage where we store many things. Off season footwear and outerwear are some of them. We try really hard to only keep the most used shoes and boots in the shoe organizer or bins. Also as soon as the children outgrow a pair, it gets put into storage.

* Keep hooks available to hang jackets and coats. We have a line of hooks nearby to hang everyone’s jackets and coats. 4-5 hooks are lower for the children’s convenience.

* Keep your footwear, coats and jackets as close to your main entrance as possible. This really helps with tidiness in the house. You don’t have shoes kicked off anywhere and mysteriously hibernating underneath couches and clothes. You don’t have jackets slung over chairs or dropped in the hallway, because everything has already been slipped off and hung up! (hopefully) My children’s coats do end up on the floor now and then and there’s many times I’m straightening the entrance, but at least it’s out there! We’ve got enough toys and clutter to stumble over already.

I realize this method may not work as well for everyone. It’s a high priority to me, so I would just work with the entrance you have and see if you can’t organize a shoe organization in your home congregation!

Guest Post- Things Teachers Wish Parents Knew

Sometimes it’s good to see someone else’s perspective on an issue. The following article was compiled by Jerald’s brother Jesse along with the help of his co-teachers at Zion Christian School.

  • Take a legitimate interest in what your teacher is doing in the classroom. While teachers appreciate kind words like “You’re doing a great job” or “Appreciate it”, ask questions about what they are teaching or techniques that are being used to help students learn better. Anyone that is enjoying his job and is doing it as well as he can, loves to talk about it; this is no different in teaching. It can also be a wake-up call to teachers that are struggling with motivation in teaching well!
  • Don’t treat your school/teacher as a daycare/babysitter. Teachers appreciate the trust that parents have in them but there is nothing more frustrating to teachers when they feel like they are the only ones working with a child’s bad habits. If a child has bad habits at school, they usually have bad habits at home as well. If you think that it’s up to the teacher to fix an issue alone since it’s taking place at school, there probably won’t be any success on the teacher’s end of it. Yes, the teacher is responsible for them while at school and can be a huge influence on them, but the success or failure of that child is ultimately the parent’s responsibility. Teachers cannot and should not try to be the parent. Our job is to help in their growing process.
  • When you are approached about a problem with your child, follow up in a couple days and then again in a week or two to see if your child is improving. Don’t expect the teacher to always make the first move in communication when discussing where your child is at in his work, behavior, etc. Check in with the teacher at random times throughout the year to see how your child is doing. Your child is only 1 of possibly 20 in a classroom!
  • If you contact the teacher about a problem, do it after school so the teacher has the evening to think about it. Contacting them in the morning before school starts can make a very difficult start to the day and keeps the teacher from being able to focus on the task at hand.
  • What is discussed at home more than likely will find its way to school through the mouth of a youngster. This, of course, gives teachers a peek into homes which can be very encouraging but equally demoralizing. It doesn’t mean that we believe everything a child says at school, but bad attitudes at home towards the school or teachers will eventually express itself in a child’s behavior at school. Problems will develop quickly in a child when he sees that his parents have an issue with the teacher or if his parents do not have a good relationship amongst themselves. Most times, a young child’s heroes are Dad, Mom, and teacher, and when any of those are not a working unit, it causes a child lots of confusion which leads to insecurity. Insecurity creates another whole set of issues at school in that it will cause drama in the classroom and drag innocent students into the middle of it. Disagreements should never be discussed in front of a student. A child should not have to be forced with the decision of “Who do I listen to, Dad, Mom, or teacher?” Keep in mind that this applies to teachers as well, so it is a two-way street.
  • When discussing your child with the teacher, make sure he is not around. And NEVER do it when other classmates are around. It’s not respectful to your child and it’s very awkward for the teacher.  
  • Offer to come do an art project or some type of skills training some afternoon. This can be for both dads and moms. Some examples could be painting, cake/cupcake decorating, making butter, trapping demonstrations, wiring, or anything in which you have a talent or enjoy doing. Depending on the event, you can have boys do one thing and girls another. My experience has been that children love this, especially if it’s their parents.  
  • Your child needs plenty of sleep to function properly at school. It can be very taxing to teachers when they are trying to teach a new concept and a student is half throttle. When he doesn’t understand it, he becomes grouchy and will even cry at times. A healthy diet is also important. Too much sugar, candy, and junk foods make the brain foggy. There is a noticeable difference in children who bring vegetables, fruits, and other healthy things in their lunch versus those who open their lunch box and find it packed with prepackaged foods. Start off their day with a healthy breakfast. Cereal may be the handiest thing for you to feed them, but most cereals are loaded with sugar and other junk. Be aware of how much screen time your child has. Excess screen time can hinder a child’s development. Teachers that regularly work with students who have excess screen time can always tell!
  • Give your child responsibilities at home. Make sure they do them without a lot of prodding and that they do them well. A child should know how to obey voice commands and obey the first time they are told to do something. The voice of a teacher is so important at school. If a student doesn’t learn to listen well and follow instructions, school will be more difficult, especially as they progress into harder concepts. 
  • Make sure your child knows how to tie his shoes before going to school. It is also very helpful if they know how to put on their coats, caps, boots, etc. when going outside for recess. If your child doesn’t know how to properly use the restroom without assistance when entering kindergarten (assuming he’s not handicapped), you should probably reconsider whether he’s ready for school!
  • Just because your child is an angel at home, doesn’t mean he is an angel at school. Remember, the last thing a teacher enjoys doing is calling or texting you with a report that your child has a problem. So don’t shrug it off by saying, “Jonny is such a good boy at home; I find it hard to believe that he has that problem.” It’s rather amusing that sometimes parents will believe their little “angel” more than they will an adult! 
  • “Helicopter” moms (They can be dads too but are usually moms) are a hindrance to a child’s development. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a parent that hovers over their child and never lets them get out of their nest. Many problems would never rear their head if Mr./Mrs. “Helicopter” just stayed calm and trusted the teacher to oversee “Jonny” and “Sue” while they are at school. This does not contradict the earlier points on working together as a parent/teacher team. There’s a balance in this; some things at school you need to just let the teacher take care of. I have seen numerous times throughout my years of teaching (whether in my classroom or another classroom) where a student was more relaxed around his teacher than around his own dad or mom and that is very unfortunate! That is what a “helicopter” parent will do to a child. 
  • Visit your children’s classrooms during school hours. They LOVE it because it shows them that you care about their lives. Remember, this is their life 9 months out of the year. It also shows that you value a Christian education, and it will carry over to your children in their perspective of school. It is one of the best ways to help them understand the blessing of a Christian education. Encourage them to keep going, even if the lessons seem difficult to you. Teach them at home that doing their best is important, not just a passing grade where they can slide into the next grade! Dads, if your wife is bringing hot lunch and it works for you to stop in to eat as well, you will make your child’s day! 
  • Exercise much caution in taking your child out of school. Vacations should be taken when school vacations are given. It’s disruptive to their learning and brings an increase to the teacher’s workload. A lot of teachers may not be local, and parents would be appalled if the teacher just went on vacation whenever they felt like it.
  • Teach your children at an early age that the heart that gave a gift is more important than the gift itself. A teacher that has 20+ students cannot afford buying expensive Christmas and birthday gifts. A lot of Mennonite schools do not pay for Art projects, so money comes out of a teacher’s pocket there too depending on what it is. I have heard of Mennonite children who thought that a gift that they received at school wasn’t enough. I’m sure Dad and Mom would cringe if they knew their child said that but maybe not spending extravagantly on them at home would help that situation! This is not a pity party for teachers. A teacher teaches because he/she enjoys it, not because of the salary!
  • While teachers enjoy cards, small gifts, snacks, lunches, school visits, etc. throughout the year as appreciation tokens, support and communication are so much more a gift!  
L-R Malinda Kemp, Ruby Stoll, Norma Troyer, Ross Rhodes, Jan Schrock, Jevon Schrock, Erica Eshleman, Jesse Rhodes, Judith Miller, Bethany Wagler, Lisa Stoll, Janelle Graber

This compilation of ideas is brought to you by the teachers of Zion Christian School who bring a combined 64 years of teaching in 12 different schools. ZCS has 119 students in grades K-8 and is a patron supported school located in Daviess County, IN. Comments of appreciation can be sent to Jesse Rhodes at imanindianaguy@gmail.com

Winter Warm Ups

Are frigid temperatures and snowy days hounding you? We haven’t had much and I’m the rarity wishing for more snowy weather. I just love me a good old blizzard! Growing up in Maryland, I remember the excitement of heaps of snow, power outages and our trusty cook stove! It kept the kitchen toasty warm and when we didn’t have other cooking options, you really could cook or bake with it! Although in that case, it took skills to a new level. I remember Mom putting a ham bone and beans on to simmer all day. The shelf above it was a perfect place for rising bread loaves …..Ah what cozy memories!!

I admit I’ve never been caught in a blizzard high up on a lone mountain. Nor have I been homeless, hunkered beneath bridges for cover from the snow. I have always been blessed to experience the comforts of home and by large, enjoy winter on the warm side of the windows. So I have concluded perhaps the reason I love winter so much is the indoor coziness of home. Winter is cold and harsh, no doubt. But it’s also invigorating air, sledding, moonlight on snow covered fields, and warmth of home after a hard day! Love of family and supper’s aroma the moment you step inside speak comfort. Add a pretty tablecloth, a good smelling candle, and China dishes. Every once in awhile it’s fun to get out that China just because! Best of all, enjoy each other’s presence together at home. Tangible comfort at day’s end. That warms the heart!

Our supper table

I also think Spring is more special after you’ve been through real winter. Isn’t that true spiritually too? After several rough months, God sends the warm sunshine and tiny shoots of green growth. We revel in that happiness all over again! Joy comes in the morning! No winter lasts forever, all ye down cast souls. Listen to this promise from God– While the earth remaineth, seed time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease. Genesis 8:22

If you need a hot, nourishing supper to warm up from the freezing climate, try out this Black Bean and Pumpkin soup. I’ve made it numerous times and always hear positive things. “Mom, this is the goodest soup!” “It’s my favorite!” Jerald even suggested this would be a good soup to feed a group of men on a cold day. It’s very hearty and filling!

Don’t let the name scare you… it is for true delicious! I also advise not letting certain picky individuals hear the name, particularly the males in your household. For sure if they’re the type to presumptuously conclude on how it will taste ere they put the first bite in their mouth!

Black Bean And Pumpkin Soup

Sauté together: 2 T. Olive oil or butter, 1 green pepper diced, 1 onion diced, 3 cloves garlic.

Add in: 3 cups chicken broth, 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes, (I like adding a 28 oz. can of tomatoes because it makes more soup and also because we love tomatoes in this) 2 t. chili powder, 2 t. cumin, 2 t. oregano, 2 t. salt, 2 T. parsley. Bring to a boil and add in:

2 1/2 cups cooked chicken, 1 15 oz can pumpkin (or 2 cups), 2 15 oz. cans black beans. Simmer about 10-15 minutes. Serve with corn chips, shredded cheese and sour cream. I love the convenience of having my own home canned beans. I use 2 pints for this recipe. Check out how to easily can your own here. Credits for this delicious soup go to Velma Birky.

A tip on the pepper and onion- I always like to dice the extras from the summer garden, fill little ziplock bags and freeze them flat. Later, you can neatly stack them in the freezer in a larger ziplock, for organization. When a recipe calls for peppers or onions I’m all set to grab a baggie, slice or break off what I need and throw them in!

The frozen onions and peppers

And on the garlic, I never keep garlic cloves on hand anymore since I’ve learned the convenience of fresh minced garlic I can buy. A big plus side is that there’s no garlic press mess either!! It’s super simple to add in to many dishes and it will keep in the fridge a very long time. You can also conveniently sneak in extra garlic for those health benefits!

This is what I like to use

The last time I made this soup I tried another time saver. I used my homemade taco seasoning to replace all the seasonings except the parsley and salt. It worked perfectly! I used 2 Tablespoons.

I like making a double batch of the following recipe at a time

Taco Seasoning

1/2 T. Cumin, 2 T. Chili powder, 2 t. Garlic powder, 2 t. Paprika, 2 t. Oregano, 4 t. Onion powder, 1 t. Salt.

Mix all together and store in a small glass jar in the freezer. The freezer keeps it from getting clumpy. Remember, homemade things don’t have that anti-caking junk in it! Use approximately 2 Tablespoons to replace one boughten packet of taco seasoning. I normally just sprinkle some in and kinda guesstimate. I taped the recipe on the back side of the jar. When the jar needs refilled you got the recipe right there!

Now for some dessert! If your feeling a sweet tooth craving coming on, try out these tasty crepes. They’re not that sweet but yet fit the bill! And they’re so good looking you could easily serve them for a tea party or brunch!

Gluten Free Crepes

3/4 c. Almond flour

3 T. Tapioca flour

3 T. Simple sweet- (recipe here)

1/2 t. Xanthan gum

1/2 t. Salt

4 eggs

2 T. Melted butter

1 1 /2 t. Vanilla

2/3 c. Milk or almond milk

Mix first 5 ingredients. Beat eggs and add in to the first part. Whisk in the remaining ingredients and let set for 5 minutes. Pour 1/3 cup batter into a nonstick skillet. Shake pan to flatten out as thin as desired. Cook on low for 1-2 minutes on each side.

Aim for lightly browned like this on both sides

I put a paper towel between each layer to prevent sticking. These are also fine made ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to serve.

For filling you can put in whatever you choose- yogurt, whipped topping, cream cheese or a mixture of these. I’m liable to throw a few things together but here is a recipe if you’d like.

Cream Filling

2 1/2 T. Simple sweet, 3 oz. soft Cream cheese, 3/4 c. Whipping cream, 1/3 c. Greek yogurt.

Beat cream cheese and sweetner until smooth then add yogurt. Beat whipping cream separately until stiff, then mix into cream cheese mixture. Spread this inside the crepes and sprinkle on fresh fruit or drizzle with any pie filling you desire. Used with permission from Simple Foods.

Let the drooling begin 🤤