Giving Back

 …I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me… Matthew 25:35

My thoughts at Writer…Interrupted today revolve around the generosity of believers to one another. A month or so ago, we had an inspirational lady come speak to our Mom’s Group at church. She based her hour with us on this old hymn, and it really blessed me. May it bless you as well! Have a great Thursday!

Little Is Much When God Is In It

by Kittie J. Suffield

1. In the harvest field now ripened,
There’s a work for all to do.
Hark, the voice of God is calling,
To the harvest calling you.

CHORUS:
Little is much when God is in it.
Labor not for wealth or fame.
There’s a crown and you can win it,
If you go in Jesus’ name.

2. Does the place you’re called to labor
Seem so small and little known?
It is great if God is in it,
And He’ll not forget His own.

CHORUS:

3. When the conflict here is ended
And our race on earth is run,
He will say, if we are faithful,
“Welcome home, my child, well done.”

Going Back to the Land

I still have a lot more city girl in me than country, depending on how survivalist a mindset you might have. Sure, I love canning and storing up food for my family, and having chickens and eggs and a garden this summer made me as giddy as a little girl playing house in her tree fort…

But I want more! I’m so intrigued by people who can survive without electricity, without purchasing or relying on stores for food, people who know how to make their own herbal tinctures and can walk through the wild identifying edible plants and herbs.

If you’re like me, you could spend hours checking out articles like this one on canning meat or this one on making your own bread (which is about way more than simple breadmaking!) or this long one on raising chickens or practically everything at this Backwoods Home Magazine website!

I recently discovered the best-kept secret in our rural community! We have a CSA farm less than ten miles from us…one that sells shares for summer and winter organic garden produce, as well as raises lambs, chickens and turkeys to sell, honey, and more! In getting to know this Christian farmer through emails and his newsletters, I’ve been invited to come help butcher chickens and turkeys on Monday! What a great learning experience for me and my oldest daughter.

What do you guys think of learning to survive on your own resources? In any case, something like this Emergency and Preparedness Guide might be very handy in the coming year…

I’m adding a pressure canner to my wish list!

Perfect Pancakes and My Day

This morning I got up at 6 a.m. and made buckwheat pancakes. Now buckwheat flour has a really strong flavor, so we always mix one recipe of buckwheat pancakes (using the Arrow Mills Buckwheat pancake mix brand) with our favorite from scratch pancake recipe. Here it is, finally, a recipe I came across this year for truly light and fluffy pancakes!

Perfect Pancakes

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 TB sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 TB oil

Stir together 1st four dry ingredients. Add egg, milk and oil all at once to flour mixture, stirring until blended but still slightly lumpy. Pour batter onto hot, lightly greased griddle, about 1/4 cup each for regular pancakes or one tablespoon each for silver dollar pancakes. Cook on both sides until golden, turning when surface is bubbly and edges are slightly dry.

Makes about 8, 4-inch pancakes or 30 silver dollar pancakes.

If I’m not adding in a recipe of buckwheat pancakes to this, then I double it for our family of five. I also like to throw in a couple handfuls of blueberries…mmm! These are great topped with butter and sugar, jelly or preserves or just plain syrup.

I hope you try this recipe, after years of being less than impressed with my own pancakes, this recipe has saved the day!

Speaking of my day, today’s been a particularly good one. This morning my moms group at church hosted a baby shower celebration with a “spa theme”. Ahhh. Imagine an oasis created out of draped opaque plastic, enclosing a circular retreat that completely transformed our fellowship hall into a relaxing getaway. We moms reclined in comfy chairs surrounded by candles, flowers, soft music, delicious brunch foods…and if that wasn’t spoiling aplenty, a professional massage therapist provided warm foot baths and the deluxe foot care package–an exfoliating rub with peppermint scented pumice/shey butter that was to-die-for and a follow-up with lotion… When she was done with us, another sweet gal came along and painted our toe nails! She treated me to French tips…then later we waxed our hands and got our fingernails done. Too much spoiling for one morning’s stretch…but what a great time with friends. If I had a picture, I’d post one here of our marvelous Orange Juliuses served in hollowed oranges with straws and adorned with perky tropical cocktail umbrellas!

Big thanks to those ladies who planned and worked hard and pulled it off!

There’s a Nip in the Air!

Fall has arrived! Leaves are everywhere, and they’re so beautiful that my oldest has taken to finding the attractive ones and spraying them with a clear acrylic sealant to trap their autumn perfection…

I usually love the gradual change of Fall, from hot summer to winter’s cold, but this year the change seems a little too hurried for my tastes. In our area they’re calling for the first frost tonight, so upon arriving home from our homeschool-co-op classes we heaped two half-bushel baskets with garden produce. Probably a hundred green tomatoes, a countertop full of cucumbers and about 12 bell peppers. Sigh. It’s not like I don’t still have apples and pears staring me down at every trip through my back porch. And I am thankful, really! It’s just a bit overwhelming. I think I’m out of canning jars. Is that possible?

Our chickens are laying about 14 eggs a day now. So far we’re giving some away and using them up here at home with abandon. I can’t describe how amazing it is to retrieve a hot egg, fresh-laid by a hen. Our next project is going to have to be to run electricity to the chicken barn…they’re going to need more light and warmth as winter nears. Wouldn’t I love to have automatic waterers too. These ladies are going to be a lot more work if I have to break ice out of their waterers every day…

NO more winter woes, I promise! ;O)

So what are your favorite things about fall? Here are mine:

Big and little pumpkins. Hot bubble baths. Steaming mugs of tea. Cozy homebound days. Thick sweaters. Slippered feet. Fires in the fireplace. Bonfires. Flannel sheets. Soup. Baking bread. Candles. Thanksgiving. No. more. yardwork. Hallelujah!

Grow the list, my friends…help me muster up some fall spirit! ‘Cause it’s s’posed to reach 36 degrees tonight and I shouldn’t have to be *shivering this post out* from within the folds of my favorite fleece blanket–not on October 15th!

(Indian summer, what happened to you?)

Are You Worried About What the Future Holds?

We in the USA are all wondering “what next?” Financial experts are riding the pendulum, some reassuring us that things will quiet down soon on Wall Street, others predicting huge inflations and urging us to stock up on rice, beans and wheat while we can still afford them…

Optimistically, I could see this crisis as being good for Americans. We’re grossly overspending, both individually and nationally. No one seems to be able to live within their means, admittedly, even my family. I say this because anyone with any debt other than a mortgage is probably not living within their means. Medical bills don’t count, as none of us would choose to go into debt over our health, but many of us are due to the rising costs of both health care and insurance coverage.

When I hear forecasts of doom and gloom, I do tend to wonder. What could be the worst thing to happen to us? Sure a whole lot of hardships could stack up, such as having to sell or give away our horses and Border Collies (if you can’t feed your family, how will you feed the pets?) but in my heart of hearts, the scariest financial bust to me would be losing our home.

Some things you just take for granted. That you’ll be able to always find work. And have gas available to get you to and from places. That eventually you’ll make that final payment, and that America will always be the land of the free, the land of opportunity.

But you know what? God says not to worry about tomorrow, because each day has enough trouble on its own. And worrying about it won’t change anything. In fact, worrying is a sin, it doesn’t glorify God…in fact, it questions His ability to see us through the hard times. Yes, He could allow all of us here in America some real hardships, but “all discipline is for our good”, right?

I’m not getting panicked, and I hope you aren’t either. Meanwhile, I am thinking twice about any extra purchases. I’m thinking we’ll pare down a bit this Christmas and plant a huge garden next spring…I’ve got an extra cupboard that I wouldn’t mind filling with staples, etc.

How do you find inner peace when faced with uncertainty? The same way you do when tragedy strikes out of nowhere. Take refuge in God.

Psalm 46 is an awesome passage that begins with, “God is our refuge and strength. A very present help in trouble.”

I recommend that you read the whole chapter, which you can simply do by clicking on the highlighted link above. But I’m going to skip ahead and go to verses 10-11,

“Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our stronghold.”

The King James Version says, “Be still and know that I am God” rather than “Cease striving.” Can’t you hear God looking down at us like a mother to a fussing little one and saying, “Be still. Cease striving. Relax. Don’t you know I am with you?”

No matter what happens, keep this in mind: God is our refuge, a very present help in trouble. But you’ve got to leave all the turmoil in His hands and relax. Not our first instinct, is it?

I find this passage so reassuring! What more can we ask for than the kind of refuge God offers?

There’s a gospel song called Ahead, sung by Charles Johnson and the Revivers, and a line in it sticks with me…

“I’m not worried about what the future holds, because I know who’s leading, His name is Jesus, and He’s holding my hand…”

May something very good come out of this crisis, amen?

Teaching Humility to Our Daughters

We just got back from our church’s annual Family Camp–a weekend getaway to a beautiful ranch retreat that’s tucked back in amongst hills and trees…so I’m getting laundry done, catching up on emails, etc, and came across this “must-read” post!

Credits go to MInTheGap who has written “Teach Her Humility” at Weekend Kindness. Why am I so impressed with his post? Because we live in a culture that encourages parents to revolve their lives around their kids. Cherishing your children is excellent and Biblical, but babying them and sympathizing with them over every indignity, whether real or imagined, imo, only contributes to the spoiled and “ME-centered” outlook.

Every bad habit can be balanced out by focusing on its opposite…in this case, start young by teaching your children humility, and maybe you’ll avoid the “spoiled child syndrome” altogether. And remember, it’s never too late to re-train. If our kids can learn to be less focused on their own needs and disappointments, they’ll be so much better equipped for real life success in regards to friendships and marriage and ministry opportunities.

So go read MIn’s post!

Wedding, Apple Juice, Baby Showers and Leather Projects

This title about sums up the major points of my week from Sunday’s wedding to this moment.

Tonight I finished canning all the apple juice that we girls and my mom juiced from thousands of apples on Tuesday…okay, after six hours of processing apples, it felt like a thousand! And it’s unbelievable how many apples go into making a few gallons of juice. Also incredible is the taste! This juice needs NO sugar. It’s from three varieties of apples and SO mouth-watering good!

So we processed the juice on Tuesday, or I should say, my girls did…they ran the juicer while my mom and I kept the cored apples coming. Along with the juice we also made more apple pie filling and applesauce for the freezer, and filled my dehydrator trays with more apple slices. For the past two days the juice has been taking up all my available refrigerator space giving the sludge sediment time to settle to the bottoms of the pitchers. Before canning, I had to strain the juice through a double thickness of cheesecloth, and you wouldn’t believe what a slow process that was! Lots of gunk stopped up the cheesecloth, so I had to keep rinsing it out and going again. But we have a few gallons of the best ever apple juice to look forward to consuming! (problem is, I’ve talked about it too much to family, they all want some! my daughters keep shushing me!)

Yesterday was the triple baby shower we hosted for some homeschool mom friends who all gave birth within the same week’s time…a great reason to throw a party! After cleaning up from that, I headed to church to help cook meals for family camp…fun to cook on a grand scale with three other women! We worked the logistics for six meals for 65 people…

Then last night my hubby and I worked till 3 A.M. on these trophy halters for our town’s Junior Ranch Rodeo this weekend (pictured next to several jars of my apple juice)…he and my oldest finished them up tonight at 11:30 P.M. Yawn.

Today we went to town yet again, to participate in a Zoo Education experience that was totally worth it. See my 8 year old manning a fire hose at one of the learning centers?

So, I’ve barely been keeping up with *my* life in between apples, trips to town and daily details like laundry that needs done each morning even when I’m too busy…

Hope you all have a great weekend! See you next week…