Bits and Pieces

I realized that I had forgotten to give an update on the camera lens situation from last week’s post. Remember I mentioned the camera was dropped and the lens broken? Well later that same week I was doing some serious cleaning and purging in my closet when I found a box with a brand new never been used unopened 50mm lens!

Crazy, right? The only thing we can figure is that it must have come in a package deal when I upgraded my camera and because I had one I tucked that one away and forgot about it. Which made for a really great surprise and some dry chicken for last night’s dinner because a new lens has such sharp clear focus that I got carried away taking pictures of some flowers. Actually, it was taking pictures of the radishes inside when I started cooking that caused me to forget about the chicken on the stove.  But just wait until you see the pictures…so pretty! Some of them will make there way to Just a Glimpse next week

In other news (and I just realized I am not going to come off well in this story either but that’s just me keeping it real) I made my bed at 5:40 in the afternoon the other day. But I had to do it. I try to make my bed every day but Sunday only Monday got away from me like a greased pig being chased by a bunch of kids at a county fair and on Tuesday I decided to wash my sheets. There is just something next level wonderful about sliding in between freshly laundered sheets, isn’t there? I was determined to have the full experience so I made my bed that late. Totally worth it.

71824FEE-A6EC-465D-B62C-192761826678Yesterday Sam and I made a trip to the library near our house. I told y’all there would probably be pictures. We actually only took a selfie when we reached the library. Wait, did I mention that we actually walked there because he needs a new tire for his bike? Yeah, and it is three miles not two. And that is important to know because with the heat index it was 106 degrees, people. To say I was a hot mess is an understatement. And I mean it like it really sounds and not like the skinny chick in yoga pants who took twenty minutes to make her messy bun look perfect means it. I didn’t ask Sam to leave most of me out of the picture but you can thank him because, seriously.

Things I heard on the walk there:

“I can’t believe I am saying this but I am dying” and “I need a bike. And for it to be autumn”.

I gave him the option to head back home after mile two but he wanted to push ahead so we did. He did go through a list of people we could call to have come pick us up, from his sister on through to one of the deacons in our church.

We passed by a large cotton field and I snapped a couple of pictures of the plants that are already flowering. Did you know that the flower blooms as a yellow/white color but after it self pollinates it turns pink and after a few days will turn a bright fuchsia. Fascinating, isn’t it? I was also surprised to learn that the cotton plant is actually a member of the hibiscus family. Who knew?

Anyway, we did end up calling Rob to come get us from the library but I promise it was only because I needed to get home and get to cooking for some sweet friends that have a newborn.

Which brings me to my last bit and piece…I made homemade buttermilk biscuits (leaving myself plenty of time to go buy a can of Pillsbury to pop open if need be). The last time I tried that I over worked the dough and they tasted dry as dirt and crumbled like a handful of dirt too. This batch won’t win any awards for presentation but they tasted light and yummy. I’m counting on the “made from the heart” vibe to trump the “how they look” vibe. I’m thinking I didn’t handle them enough this go round because the problem was they didn’t rise.

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Plans for the weekend? Why, yes we do. Lots of them actually. Rob and I are doing a nine and dine thing with friends tonight. What’s that you ask? You golf nine holes and then eat dinner. I think it will be fun. Or at least amusing to watch since my golf experience is limited to the putt putt goofy golf kind.

Saturday morning is a baby shower for a soon to be mama at church and in the evening it is nursing home singing and then fellowship time.  That’s always a tough one for me. I’m not super comfortable around old people but they love hearing us sing and they’re so delighted to see us each month, especially the children. I never regret going. I just have to talk myself into each time. (I am leaving this in although when proofing it I could see how dumb it sounds. It is a good thing to do, end of story. No talking myself into it and no complaining about doing it. It brings  some happy to some people who could surely use a little and I have the blessing of singing the Psalms of my God with some of my people.)

So what about you? Busy or relaxing weekend ahead? Whatever it is I hope you find reason to rejoice over the good within it.

Have a great one!

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Part Of The Process

The other day Sam and I were driving down the road and I noticed him rubbing his eyes. I asked him if he had sleep in them to which he gave me a perplexed look. I explained that we sometimes call it sleep or sleepies when there is something in your eyes. He explained to me that that sounded far too childish and we should use a more grown up phrase like gunk. He had gunk in his eyes.

My son is big on adulting these days. And honest to goodness, we had just gotten pretty comfortable having an autistic child when suddenly we were faced with having an autistic adult child. Totally different ball game.

But it does make for some interesting conversations as we try to help him navigate certain nuances of life. Like helping him understand that while yes, he is certainly legally an adult he is not the adult he will be five years from now. And that he isn’t ready for the kind of life that he will have five years from now. And it’s okay for him to not be ready now for the then that is to come. But he is supposed to be working toward that older more mature self.

Are you saying I am immature, Mom? He sounded so incredulous and offended at the thought. He, like the rest of us, has forgotten that immature does not have to be a bad thing.

This is a somewhat silly way to consider immaturity but effective I think.

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Grapes are not wine but we don’t get angry at the grapes for not being wine.  And if we took a bunch of grapes and tossed them into a glass and declared them wine we would recognize such foolishness for what it is. We recognize that in the process of becoming wine, grapes need to be grapes. But we don’t always see so clearly when it comes to each other.

The majority of the time the word immature is being used it is in a negative way. Usually someone is being labeled as childish and juvenile. But, we need to remember that the word also means unformed, undeveloped, at the beginning of something.

Maturity takes time…which means that immaturity is part of the process…which means that immaturity is not always a bad thing. A wise person, a mature person if you will, can see and sort the difference between the one who is immature in a silly infantile manner and the one who is just beginning to flourish and grow.

If we aren’t careful to note the difference between the two we can have unrealistic expectations for those around us. And, just like the fruit of the vine, expecting too much too soon can produce tart, somewhat bitter and less flavorful results.

For people on the autism spectrum dates can carry a lot of weight and Sam knows that at eighteen he became a legal adult. He wants independence and an adult life and it can be difficult for him to understand what he is ready and not yet ready for. A lot of the time he ends up feeling like we are still treating him as a child and boy, does that rub him the wrong way!

We are looking for ways that allow him to feel like he has more control and say in decision making. It’s hard for me to do this sometimes. Mamas all have a protective streak with our kiddos but with a child that has special needs (I typed that and I am not sure I really care for that phrase but I think that is something for me to ponder later) your protective instincts are heightened. I know Sam doesn’t fully process situations accurately sometimes and I know that he isn’t always completely understood by others. The desire to interpret and intervene can be strong and really interfere with his desire to adult. But we’re working on it. He likes going to Walmart with me but we don’t stay together. We basically part ways at the door and when I am finished I can usually find him at the Mario Cart station playing a game, sometimes alone or sometimes with another kid who has wandered up to play. We’ve done that enough times now that I feel comfortable with it.

He’s so funny. He has asked to be allowed to ride his bike to the beach, which is about 20 miles away, so that he can spend the day on the boardwalk and enjoy Bands on the Beach. We had to put the kibosh on that plan obviously but we did find a compromise. The public library is a little over two miles from our house and there are sidewalks available the whole way with a few main street crossings. We rode the route in the car, picking out landmarks and the goal is to let him ride his bike there on his own.

Working through this idea in a very concrete way with Sam has been a good reminder for me to carefully look at where people are and how they are responding and reacting to various situations in their lives. Their response might be less than mature and it may be that is appropriate for the part of the process they are in. I shouldn’t get angry with them for that.  The grape isn’t left untended on the vine to just one day magically become a glass full of wine though. It is nurtured and pruned and made ready for the process of becoming something other than it is in that moment. We are supposed to help each other in this process of growing up.

The moment is actually the same for the times when the response is immaturity in a way that is childish. The dressing of the wayward vine should be the same loving response that our heavenly Father gives us each time He gives us opportunity to grow and mature in our faith and in our walk. We are to help them move along, to grow up, and be who they ought to be in that moment.

The reminder that who we are today is who we are practicing to be for tomorrow is good one for all of us. The woman, the wife, the mother, the friend, the faithful follower of Christ that I will be a year from now or five years from now has a lot to do with who I am today. But it should not be the same. Because always who I am in this day should be striving to be more like Christ in the next.

Think About These Things Tuesday

By insolence comes nothing but strife,

but with those who take advice is wisdom.

Wealth gained hastily will dwindle,

but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,

but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

Whoever despises the word brings destruction on himself,

but he who revers the commandment will be rewarded.

The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life,

that one may turn away f rom the snares of death.

 ~Proverbs 13: 10-14

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Christian Contentment

I have a friend that for ten years, had been the embodiment of all that a godly friend should be. She was not just the hands and feet of Christ to me, but the heart and mind of Christ. She was, and continues to be, Truth to me and for me.

A few years ago her husband’s job moved her away. When she told me they were moving to another state I immediately cried. For three days my heart just ached. I was sort of praying and sort of bemoaning her move when I realized I sounded like I was mourning her death. Like she was gone forever and never again would I be able to see her.

God granted some insight into that moment for me and showed me how foolish, indeed how ungrateful I was behaving. Was it a sad thing that my friend would not be here close by? Yes. But my goodness, I have face timed with another friend that was living in Japan! Susan would only be five hours away…we have phones, and we can text, email and even slap a stamp on an envelop and as old fashioned as it may be, mail letters to each other.

Is it sad that I do not see her everyday as we drop off and pick up our children from school or have the occasional breakfast together? Yes. But not only have I been given the gift of her friendship but I live in a time of great technology that will allow us to continue our friendship almost undisturbed.

The whole situation with my friend showed me how spoiled I am to some very simple and convenient aspects of my life.

It’s like complaining about what a pain doing laundry is when I am doing it in the comfort of my cooled or heated home and basically tossing clothes from one machine into another. I’m not outside washing them by hand and hanging them on the line to dry. And I have so much laundry because God has been abundant in His provision for my family. Of course I have a lot of laundry…He has granted me five children!

Later today I will do my grocery shopping. Normally I can begrudge the process of picking food up off the shelf, placing it into the buggy, going to a register, unloading all the groceries, picking up bags of groceries and putting them back into the buggy so I can go out to my car and unload them from the buggy just so that I can get home and unload them from the car and carry them into my house and take everything out of the bags and put it all away.

But to complain would seem to despise the gift of having not only plenty of food to eat but the ability to go to a store and get a buggy full of groceries so my family can eat in the first place.

It would show a heart that is ungrateful. It is the same with my laundry and my friend moving away and any number of ways I could so easily find to complain. It’s easy to find things to complain about.  I love this quote from Nancy Wilson’s book Learning Contentment,  “Discontent requires no learning, no teaching, and no practice because we are born wanting things, and we are born knowing how to grumble, murmur, and complain.”

It takes work and effort to fight against complaining and being ungrateful. But the more we practice being grateful the easier it becomes. And the really great thing about it? It’s hard for others to stay grumpy and whiny when faced with a person who genuinely practices contentment and being grateful. We are drawn to happy people and we enjoy being around them.

Going into a new week with these thoughts fresh in my mind I am reminded of the old hymn This Is My Father’s World.

This is my father’s world.

Why should my heart be sad?

The Lord is king, let the heavens ring.

God reigns, let the earth be glad.

The writer of that hymn, Presbyterian minister Maltbie Davenport Babcock, also wrote this gem of wisdom:

We are not here to play, to dream, to drift,

We have hard work to do, and loads to lift, 

Shun not the struggle; face it;

Tis God’s gift.

So whatever hard work you have to face this day or the next be encouraged to look for the good of God’s providence in it. Even in the muck and mire He is King.

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Friday Favorites Target Edition

So, I enjoy shopping to a certain extent but I am not one of those store or brand specific fangirls always gushing about the latest thing at Target or TJ Maxx or wherever. However, this week I came across a few things spending time with one of my girls and browsing at Target (one of her favorite stores) and decided I would share them here.

This first thing is the only one I actually bought. The others are just wouldn’t-that-be-nice-to-have kinds of things.

I am always looking for good kitchen towels. I use them a lot plus I am a very tactile person so a good kitchen towel is, well good. I was pretty sure these had a good feel to them and seemed like they would be absorbent but I have learned my lesson in the past so I only bought one to try it out. Loved it enough that I went back the next day for another one.

First, they’re huge which my soul doth love. So does my son. He actually commented on it when he was drying dishes after dinner. Second, they have some nice color accents but no obnoxious pattern. And third, they dry things wonderfully. In a nutshell, I give you the perfect kitchen towel.

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Like I said, I don’t go much for specific brands. Mostly because I want to like something based on the merit of the thing itself and not just the name attached to it. However, there is a reason that Target partnered with Chip and Joanna Gaines. The stuff is really really lovely. Whether I get anything else from them it is just a delight to browse their collection and see what they are doing.

Something else of the Hearth & Hand with Magnolia I enjoyed were some of their candles. I love the look and most of the smells were marvelous. What I didn’t love? The price tag. As pretty as they are at $15 a pop I probably won’t buy them. (I do realize they are less expensive than gold standard Yankee Candles but I don’t buy those either.And these smell way better than the Yankee in my opinion.) If I was going to spend that kind of money on something that I will literally burn up it would be these though, for sure.

When I finally stopped handling the towels and sniffing the candles and moved into the general kitchen section I found a couple of other things I liked. I was actually looking for a table runner but the one I liked was a little more than I was willing to spend on an impulse buy.

(Side note: my husband loves my shopping habits. I will go in and wander and look and pick up and set down without buying much, if anything at all. I have a friend who calls me an unshopper. I guess I just have to be in the right mood to actually spend money unless I really need it or want it.)

IMG-0805 (1)I like pineapples though and how cute are these salt and pepper shakers?

I hesitate to use the word “collect” because then somehow I will end up with 457 pineapples but I do have a few pineapple things already. A couple of white ceramic ones in my kitchen and a key chain. And t-shirt. Okay, I borrow my daughter’s pineapple earrings occasionally too. Oh, goodness I also have a cute tunic dress with a pineapple pattern on it. Maybe I have a problem already and just didn’t realize it.

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So as not to go overboard with pineapple stuff (more than I apparently have already) I also found a line of glass and wood kitchen items that I really liked. How fun is this pitcher? Perfect for orange juice or the lemoncello vodka collins I shared last week on She Feeds Her Family.

What I haven’t found? Napkins. Cloth napkins to be specific. I mean I can find them but not the right texture. And by right texture I mean ones that my love will like.

I guess I will just have to keep wandering and browsing and unshopping until I do find some 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Which I Talk About Rice

I know, a whole post on rice. Really? Really.

I have never been good at making rice. Honestly, rice has always seemed to me to be one of those foods that’s really just a vehicle for other foods like a hot dog bun or such and was best used in casseroles and corned beef hash. I’ve never been very good at making it so I rarely served it as a side.

Kitchen confession: I got really good with minute rice when I did need it. I had no idea what we were missing out on by going this route though. No judgement if you too love those convenient little boil in the bags or dehydrated just add water boxes of rice. I get it. Real rice can be intimidating. It takes more time. It’s tricky to get the water to rice ratio just so to ensure soft fluffy rice. And boy, oh boy, brown rice is a whole other category altogether!

But I have learned some tips and tricks recently that changed my rice making game and maybe they will be of help to you. Or maybe I am the only one who has had a problem with rice making. It is entirely possible I am in a club of one. I know what you are probably thinking. “Woman, why didn’t you just read the package directions and follow them?” Y’all, I totally would! But would somehow still end up with undercooked rice. I will totally cop to it being user error but that’s the simple truth. Making good rice eluded me for years, people. Years.

But I am living in a different rice zone these days so here are the tips and tricks that I found helpful.

IMG-0759Basmati rice. Other more experienced and knowledgable cooks in the kitchen may roll their eyes and say what type of rice doesn’t matter but I have found that basmati rice turns out perfect every.single.time. It’s a little more expensive but totally worth it in my book for the fact of consistency alone. And may I just point out that I had no idea there were different kinds of rice other than white or brown and the cheater minute rice and the real stuff reserved for elite rice cookers? Who knew?

The Rice Association apparently. Guys, there is a fascinating website all about rice! According to them there are over 40,000 varieties of rice. Crazy, huh? Apparently rice plants need a ton of rain in their early days but then require a long dry spell to finish growing. Because the plant is so particular about its water and climate Great Britain has never been able to successfully produce it’s own supply of rice.

Historians believe that America owes it’s original source of rice seed to a storm that blew a ship bound for Madagascar off it’s course. The ship made it’s way to the safety in the harbor of South Carolina and out of gratitude for help with repairs the ships captain is said to have given rice seed as a thank you gift. But then the American Revolution started and we hit a snag but I will let you read about that on your own.

Now where was I before I found that fascinating website?

Oh yes, another tip from a rice making guru…after combining liquid and rice together, bringing it to a boil, cover and reducing heat, walk away for twenty minutes. Literally forget about it. Go paint your fingernails. Fold a load of laundry, whatever, but ignore the rice on the stove. Don’t open the lid to check the liquid. Trust the process. Difficult I know but letting the steam out does something unkind to the rice making magic I think.

Two tricks I have found that make for some really tasty rice are actually pretty simple.

Toast the rice before you make it. Put a couple of tablespoons of butter in your pot and when it is all melted add in you desired amount of uncooked rice. Toast it for about two to three minutes. It will smell heavenly. Add in your liquid and cook as usual.

You might have noticed that I keep saying liquid instead of water. Two words for you. Chicken broth. It adds so much flavor. I even use it to make mashed potatoes. You can use plain old water if you wish but salt is your friend. Either way, when your rice is ready don’t forget to dash some pepper on it too. It’s delish!

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So, that’s that. I’m certainly not some rice aficionado now (although I am certainly much more knowledgable than I was before this post. Thank you, Google!) but I feel confident with a few months of successful rice making under my belt. Maybe I will tackle quinoa next. Slow down there, Scooter! Don’t get carried away.

Here’s a link to this summer’s favorite cilantro lime rice. Enjoy and be sure to check how America almost ended up being a riceless nation.

 

Getting Ready For What Comes Next

I cannot believe that our summer is almost over but we’ve flipped the calendar to August and it’s hard to ignore. It’s time to start looking at school supply lists (I have friends that I know just read that sentence and they’re like, “Start? What do you mean start? We’ve got our stuff labeled and ready to go!” What can I say? I procrastinate sometimes.)

I enjoy our summers with the kids all home and the break from the school routine and I have never been one of those mamas singing hallelujahs and counting down days until they go back. But I do love this time of year. It rings with promise and newness to me just as surely as January 1st or springtime does. I guess I have a thing about beginnings and possibilities.

At the same time it can be easy to look at what all is coming up with cross country meets and volleyball games and what have you and feel a bit panicked. The possibilities are a-plenty to feel overwhelmed and worn out so here are some things I want to keep in mind as we get ready for school to begin at the end of the month and all the challenges that it brings.

1.) Change is good.

This is a doozy for me! Rob has said more than once that we often view change as death. And most of us resist that death, that change, because we like living the way we live. But we are a people called to death because we are a people of the Resurrection and we know that true life comes from the dying. This time of year will afford many opportunities for me to die to myself for the good of those around me…even if it is just keeping a good and pleasant attitude.

2.) Hard does not mean bad.

Having to work hard for some thing makes our appreciation that much greater. Hard means can often bring us to a good end if we will just stay the course. Hard circumstances have a place in God’s working in our lives…suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character and character produces hope. And even more, that hope does not put us to shame.

This one is big in my thoughts as Abby heads into her junior year (traditionally herald as the hardest year at Trinitas) and enters into cross country season. Running doesn’t come easily to her and we were surprised when she asked to join. Surprised but proud that she wants to attempt something that will require hard effort from her. We don’t care if she ever places in a race or not. Giving her best and striving to improve are fantastic goals for all of us.

3.) Busy shouldn’t always be a complaint.

Obviously, too much busy can be bad. And busy for the wrong reasons can be bad. Sometimes, we like the busy because it’s where we get our identity from…how we define ourselves. Or it’s a shield we hide behind so we don’t have to deal with something or think about something. Sometimes we keep busy just so we have something to complain about.

I have a friend who is an accomplished pianists and one morning I was sitting beside her while she played this beautiful piece of music. I mentioned how busy the page looked with all the musical notes and sweeping lines and other notations. She said she never chooses a piece that isn’t busy because it makes for a more interesting listen.

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Wrongly ordered busyness in our lives makes for a cacophony of sound with out of place rests and clanging cymbals of aggravation. But rightly ordered busyness creates a symphony of praise as it is worked out in the day to day doing.

For sure, if we are living the wrong kind of busy and if we allow the wrong kind of hard into our lives (the kind that is a result of our own selfish desires and demands) and the wrong kind of change into our lives (the kind that stems from never being content or just old and set in our ways) then our song follows the tune of the world.

But if we are being and doing faithfully all that He has given us to be and do then our song can be that of Psalm 98,

“Oh sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things!”

Sharing at Candidly Christian