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Friday, December 31, 2010

The Sail Adjuster

Elizabeth Edwards died recently, in December, 2010.  She was the wife of presidential candidate of 2004 and 2008 John Edwards, senator of North Carolina. Mrs. Edwards lived a very public life as political candidates and their families do. 

Mrs. Edwards was diagnosed with breast cancer originally in 2004. Her battle with breast cancer was a roller coaster ride with it returning in 2007.  It was also during this time frame that she was forced to deal with the unfaithfulness of her husband. In 2010, at the age of 61, her fight with breast cancer ended.

While I didn't agree with much that Mrs. Edwards stood for politically, I found her role as a mother to be inspiring. From all that I could tell, she seemed to truely love and care for her children. She tried to protect them, shield them...something any mother would do. I could relate to that.  She had a 28 year old daughter and two other living children, a daughter and a son, who were 12 and 10.

Her memoir, Resilience, was released in the spring of 2009.  When asked the question about what she considered was the most important lesson to teach her children, Elizabeth Edwards responded this way.
 “I have said before that I do not know what the most important lesson is that I will ever teach my children, Cate and Emma Claire and Jack. I do know that when they are older and telling their own children about their grandmother, they will be able to say that she stood in the storm, and when the wind did not go her way — and surely it has not — she adjusted her sails.”
He asked her if that’s still the message she hopes people come away with.
It is,” she said. “I hope that it is when bad things happen, you have the strength to face them."
I read that quote and thought, you know, that is one of our main jobs as a parent - to teach our children how to adjust their sails when the wind does not blow their way.  I've heard it said that life is 10% what happens and 90% how we respond. Sometimes when life happens, it's in our favor; sometimes it isn't. How do we respond?  When we respond inappropriately, we teach our kids the inappropriate way to respond. It's that simple.

Don't know about you but I think I have some work to do in the sail adjusting department.



Thursday, December 23, 2010

What They Were Saying in 1957...

Below is an excerpt from a story written by my Dad, Jerry Sutton. These are some things he remembers growing up.  These are just a few of the things that folks were saying back then. Kind of makes you smile just to think of them.

1.  I'll tell you one thing, if things keep going the way they are, it's going to be impossible to buy a week's groceries for $20.00.
2.  Have you seen the new cars coming out next year?  It won't be long before $2,000 will only buy a used one.
3.  If cigarettes keep going up in price, I'm gonna quit.  A quarter a pack is ridiculous!
4.  Did you hear the post office is thinking about charging a dime just to mail a letter?
5.  I read the other day where some scientist thinks it's possible to put a man on the moon by the end of the century. They even have some fellows they call astronauts preparing for it down in Texas.
6.  It won't be long before young couple are going to have to hire someone to watch their kids so they can both work.
7.  The drive-in restaurant is convenient in nice weather, but I seriously doubt they will ever catch on.
8.  No one can afford to be sick anymore! $35.00 a day in the hospital is too rich for my blood!
9.  If they think I'll pay 50 cents for a hair cut, forget it!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Great Truths That Adults Have Learned

1. Raising kids does require time and effort but if you do it right, you get so much more out of it than you put into it.
2. Wrinkles don't hurt.
3. Families are like fudge...mostly sweet with a few nuts.
4. Today's mighty oak is just yesterday's nut that held its ground.
5. Laughing is good exercise. It's like jogging on the inside. Laugh every day.
6. Middle age is when you choose your cereal for the fiber, not the toy.
7. What happens to you in life is not the important thing. How you handle it is.
8. The best way to keep kids at home is to make the home a pleasant atmosphere. If you don't work to do that, the loss is yours.
9. Growing up is mandatory; growing old is optional.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Giving Thanks...

I Thank Thee O God
                                                       
... to be called a child of Yours.
... to have been raised by a mother and father who taught me God's worth from my youth.
... for the example of my Mom who taught me not with words, but with her life. Actions speak so much louder.
... that I have been given the privilege of birthing 4 children and they all kind of, sort of like me, sometimes.
... that I have had the honor of "mothering" many more.
... that I realize that contentment does not come from the "stuff" that we possess but from within.
... that my children are pretty much level headed, most of the time, and that my days of panic with them are getting farther and farther apart.
... that Tim not only showed up in Tuscaloosa about 30 years ago where I happened to be a student living at the time but that both Tim and I wound up worshipping at the same congregation where we became friends and that our friendship grew into much more.
... that we've been happily married for almost 28 years now. So many aren't.
... that my children not only are trying to do the right things but have chosen to surround themselves with others who are trying to do the right things. Influence is huge.
... for the courage of my brothers and sisters, both physically and spiritually who help me stay on the narrow path - even when I don't particularly want to hear what they have to say and for those who teach me patience and love and faith, real faith by the lives that they live.
... that You loved me so very much.



Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It's Just Wrapping Paper

I watched a movie the other day that left me thinking...thinking about our way of seeing things.  Thinking about our "built-in" prejudices, pre-judging of folks for various reasons, assigning traits or characteristics to others solely on how they look before we know anything about them.

One particular quote that stuck with me in that movie was, "Jake,  when you see me, you don't see a man.  You see a black man." As much as I hated to think about that, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there was an element of truth to it. We have a hard time seeing just people.  We see black people, white kids, Asian babies, etc. The character in the movie went on to say,  "You don't mean to be that way but you are. It's how you was raised." "You see me different."

We are all a product of how we were raised; there is no denying that.  Most of us are who we are to a certain extent because of how we were raised but when we reach the point in our lives that we are able to think with our minds and reason on our own, we become responsible for our thoughts and actions, not our parents.

Do I see people solely as people, as God's creation?  Do I get so caught up in the outer covering, the wrapping paper of people...the skin, that I fail to see past that?   Do I think that others are somewhat inferior to me because their outer covering isn't the same as mine?  Unfortunately ,there are those who do.  How arrogant to think that the God of this Universe would place any value on the color of a person's skin.

God help me and all of us to look past the wrapping paper for when we are able to do that, we open up the possibility of seeing people for who they really are: not a black man or a Hispanic woman or an Asian girl, but human beings created with the same free will to serve God and the same ability to love and care for others just like me.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Half Empty or Half Full

I know some folks whose cup is always half full. It just doesn't matter what life seems to throw at them, they find a way to think positively about it or come up with a positive response to it. These are the kind of people who never seem to question the circumstances they find themselves in. Their focus is not to concentrate on the problem but to work to find something good to think about.  It's these people also that seem to be the ones who are typically the workers, the servants,  the ones who are out doing for others. They don't look inwardly but outwardly searching for what they can do for others. What a joy it is to be around people like that! They make me want to do better.

Rick Warren, author of the book, The Purpose Driven Life has some interesting things to say about how we should view life. It's worth your read.

"Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it's kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life. No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on. And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for. Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you're just coming out of one, or you're getting ready to go into another one. You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems. If you focus on your problems, you're going into self-centeredness, which is my problem, my issues, my pain. But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others.

What is your focus? What is my focus?...my life and my difficulties or others? God help me to realize that my cup is not only half full but overflowing.




Monday, November 8, 2010

The Struggle

I don't think any of us come to a point in our lives when we want things to be difficult or hard either for us personally or for anyone that we love or care about.  We would much rather prefer that everything float along easily the way we would want it to float without any bumps in the road.  Unfortunately, that's just not the real world...or not the world that I live in anyway. We aren't immune to tough times. As a matter of fact, oftentimes, it's those tough times that allow us to see what kind of intestinal fortitude that we have inside of us.  It can very well be that the struggle is what makes us stronger. The following story is a great example of that.


A man found a cocoon of the emperor moth and took it home to watch it emerge. One day, a small opening appeared, and for several hours the moth struggled but couldn't seem to force its body past a certain point. Deciding something was wrong, the man took scissors and snipped the remaining bit of cocoon. The moth emerged easily, its body large and swollen, the wings small and shriveled. The man expected within a few hours the wings would spread out in the natural beauty, but they did not. Instead of developing into a creature free to fly, the moth spent its short life dragging around a swollen body and shriveled wings. What the man learned was the constricting cocoon and the struggle necessary to pass through the tiny opening are God's way of forcing fluid from the body into the wings. The "merciful" snip was, in reality, cruel. Sometimes the struggle is exactly what we need.
 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A LITTLE HISTORY LESSON...(with thanks to BJ)

                                    

                                                                             

APRONS
Notice that a "MEDIUM" is a 14-16...
Remember making an apron in Home Ec? Read below:

The History of 'APRONS'

I don't think most of our kids know what an apron is.

The principal use of Grandma's apron was to protect the dress underneath because she only had a few. It was also because it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and aprons used less material. But along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.

It was wonderful for drying children's tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.

From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.

When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids.. And when the weather was cold grandma wrapped it around her arms.

Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove. Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.

From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.
In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.

When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.

When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men folks knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.

It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that 'old-time apron' that served so many purposes.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Power of a Compliment

-not an original but worth your time to read...

In an earlier grade, she'd taped Mark's mouth shut for talking too much in class.  Now, he was her student again in her junior high math class.

His class had worked hard all week. By Friday, the students were getting cranky.  So, for a break, she asked them to write the nicest thing they could about every student and hand it in.  She compiled the results for each student and gave out the lists.

Several years later, Mark was killed in Vietnam. After the funeral. most of his former classmates gathered with Mark's parents and me their junior high math teacher for lunch.  Mark's father took a wallet out of his pocket.  "They found this on Mark, when he was killed," he said.  He carefully removed a folded, refolded, and taped paper - the one on which the teacher had listed the good things Mark's classmates had said about him.

Charlie, another classmate smiled sheepishly and said, "I keep my list in my desk drawer." Chuck's wife said, "Chuck put his in our wedding album."  "I have mine, too," Marilyn said, "in my diary." Vicky reached into her purse and brought out her frazzled list.

"The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary" - Isaiah 50:4

I think this little story shows just how much our words can affect others. Do we use the opportunities that we have to "speak a work in season to him that is weary"? Something to think about. Everyone has "weary days" and we can turn a blind eye to them and their difficulties or we can do our best to lift them up. We may soon forgoet the kindness that we've shown but the recipient probably will never forget.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Corn Pudding Casserole



Looking for a great side dish to go with a meat and vegetable for dinner? This one will make the cut for sure.  It comes together very quickly and cooks while you're getting the rest of your dinner ready.  Serve with green beans and a meatloaf and you'll be happy to take the leftovers to work for lunch the next day!




Corn Pudding Casserole

Ingredients

1 (15 ounce) can creamed corn
1 (15.25 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 stick butter, melted
1 (8.5 ounce) package corn bread mix
1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
2 eggs


Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

2. Mix all ingredients together.

3. Pour into a  2 quart casserole dish that has been sprayed with Pam.

4. Bake uncovered approximately 30 -40 min. until "set" in the center and slightly browned around the edges. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Treasures from the Trash Can

"Mom, Mikayla is going through my trash can!" Oh the joys of being an older sister and the joys of having an older sister!

When they were much younger, our oldest daughter, Katie, would fuss at her younger sister, Mikayla, for going through her things. These usually weren't things that were of any value to Katie. They were typically things that she had thrown away but the act of someone else going through her things, even if they were in her trash can just didn't seem right to her. Mikayla, on the other hand, was a sort of pack rat. She had a habit of keeping things. She enjoyed going through her sister's trash hoping she would find something of value, at least something of value to her.  One year, at Christmas, I became the recipient of one of Mikayla's new found treasures -a walnut shell split perfectly down the middle. That walnut shell became the housing for my Christmas gift from her that year, 73 cents neatly tucked inside with a piece of scotch tape wrapped around it securing the two pieces of the shell together.

I have some things that I call my treasures.  They are things that mean a lot to me but really would mean very little to anyone else. They're things like an old cook book that belonged to my Granny, a small painted flower pot that was a Mother's Day gift,  and almost empty perfume bottles that belonged to my mom just to name a few. When I remove the cap of one perfume bottle in particular and smell the scent of the perfume, it seems like she's right there in the room with me. We all have things that mean so much to us but really nothing to anyone else.


It is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. While others may see these simple items that I cherish as trash, their beauty shines brightly to me.  It is those things like the empty walnut shell, the almost empty perfume bottles, the little flower pot that has found its resting place beside the "good china", that serve as reminders to me. They remind me of the value of the relationships that those items represent and the value of those relationships cannot be measured.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Debt Forgiven

Susie Larson, says in her book, Growing Grateful Kids, that we can't grow beyond our ability to accept correction.  I've heard it said that you can't fix what you don't acknowledge.  Children as well as adults aren't always happy recipients of correction. As parents, it can be hard to determine when correction is needed and when the event that occurred has taught the appropriate lesson. It's a fine line that we walk. We understand the need to use situations to teach life lessons but we often wonder if the route we're taking is the best one.  I'm sure there's not a parent alive who hasn't at one point questioned something they've done.

Mrs. Larson  tells the story of a 16 year old son who had recently received his driver's license. Freedom at last, he thought! With permission and on one condition, this new driver borrowed his mom's Chevy Blazer for the evening. The only condition given by his mom was that once he arrived at the friend's house, the vehicle would stay parked until the next morning when he would return home.

When he arrived at his friend's house, the young boy and his buddies began the activity they had planned for the evening, working on a car. They had been at it a few hours when they realized they needed a part to continue working. Without even thinking about it, they all hopped into the Chevy Blazer and headed to the store...the same Chevy Blazer that was not to be driven once it arrived at the friend's home.  Cruising along in the truck with his new found freedom and vehicle full of friends, the boy's buddies challenged him to pull into a school parking lot to do a few doughnuts on a thick blanket of fresh snow. The pressure from his peers was more than he could bear so he gave in to their wishes only thinking "in the moment".  He soon realized that living in the moment isn't all it's cracked up to be. While doing the doughnut with the truck, the boy slammed into a concrete structure in the school parking lot. Thankfully, no one was physically hurt but obvious damage had been done to the Chevy Blazer. 

When he arrived home the next morning with the side of the Blazer smashed in and the side mirror dangling, the young boy told his mom what had happened. Her initial reaction was thankfulness that no one was hurt, then anger and shock for his disobedience.  There were lessons to be learned in this. The parents had to use this opportunity to teach their oldest child but how would they go about doing that?

After talking it over, the husband and wife decided the predominant lesson to be learned in this accident was that actions have consequences.  Even actions that are accidental can have consequences.  Thankfully, his consequences were not life-threatening for him or anyone else. None-the-less, there had to be consequences.

The monetary amount of $3000 came into this 16 years old's life and didn't leave for quite some time.  You see, that was the amount necessary to repair the damage that had been done to his mom's Chevy Blazer. Even though it was accidental, the amount stayed the same - $3000. He would have to be responsible for that amount. The parents realized that $3000 was a lot of money to a 16 year old but they just didn't see any way around it. So, the boy began working.  He picked up weekend jobs, odd jobs, doing just about anything that would contribute to the $3000 debt that he had acquired.

About a year and $1200.00 later, the boy seemed to be slipping into despair and discouragement from the whole ordeal. He had worked hard and willingly, placing all funds toward the debt that he owed but he began to feel that he would never be able to repay it.
With a 17th birthday, just around the corner, the teen's parents asked what he'd like for his birthday, He replied, "Just dinner at a restaurant with a few of my friends...that's all." Steak and cheesecake were two of his favorite things on earth, so they went about making the plans for their oldest's birthday.

The steakhouse was the perfect place...just what he loved.  The friends that the boy had invited were good kids, fun to be around and the boy thoroughly enjoyed his special dinner on his birthday. The waitress brought out the final plate for the evening.  It was his 17th birthday dessert, cheesecake, with candles blazing. She sat it down in front of the birthday boy.  As he looked down at the cheesecake to blow out the candles, he saw two words drizzled in chocolate on the plate - "Debt Forgiven". The young boy couldn't believe what he was seeing.  Could it be real?  Through tears, he looked across the table at his mom and dad, jumped to his feet so forcefully that it almost tipped his chair backwards and wrapped his arms around his family. You see, those 2 words that were drizzled in chocolate on the plate were the only two words necessary to lift the tremendous burden that this young man had been carrying.

Mrs. Larson went on to say that "forgiveness took on a whole new meaning for all of us that day.  With forgiveness in its structure, a family can withstand sins, mistakes and missteps and come out on the other side strong, loving and steadfast."

If you're blessed to be a parent, use your opportunities wisely and teach your kids those valuable life lessons like responsibility and actions having consequences. That's your job. Just remember to not make those lessons so difficult that your kids will never achieve what you're asking. Know your child.  Be "in touch" enough to know when enough is enough, when it's time to allow them to wipe the slate clean and start over.

I'm not sure I've always been good at that as a parent, especially early on but this is one of those times when learning from other's mistakes, namely mine, can be as valuable to you as those life lessons are to your kids.  


Monday, September 20, 2010

Great Truths...

Great truths that little children have learned:
 
1. No matter how hard you try, you can't baptize cats.
2. When your Mom is mad at your Dad, don't let her brush your hair.
3. If your sister hits you, don't hit her back.  They always catch the second person.
4. You can't trust your dog to watch your food.
5. Don't sneeze when someone is cutting your hair.
6. You can't hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk.
7. Don't wear polka-dot underwear under white shorts.
8. The best place to be when you're sad is Grandma's lap.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Lessons from the Mayonnaise Jar

The following short story has been around a while.  I'm not sure when I first heard it but the application is still relevant in my life. Hopefully, you'll get some good out of it too.  If you are anything like me,  life can get overwhelming. There's so much going on, so much to accomplish and 24 hours in a day isn't nearly enough to get everything done on your "to do" list.  This little story is it's a great reminder to me of setting priorities.

A professor stood before his class on the first day of the semester. As class began, without a word, he picked up a large, empty mayonnaise jar and filled it with golf balls.  He then asked the students if the jar was full.  They agreed that it was.


The professor picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar.  As he shook it lightly, the pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf ball. He then asked again if the jar was full. The students said it was. He then took out a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand fit in the crevices. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a hesitant "yes". He then produced 2 cups of coffee and poured them into the jar.  The students laughed.


"Now," said the professor, "this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things. These are the kind of things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, would still make your life full, like God, your family, your health, etc. The pebbles are the other things that matter, like your job, your house, and your car. The sand is everything else - the small stuff.


"If you put the sand in first," he continued, "there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all of your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for things that are important.  Take care of the golf balls first, the things that really matter. Set your priorities."


One student raised her hand to inquire what the coffee represented. He smiled and replied, "It just shows that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for coffee with a friend."

Monday, September 13, 2010

A New Normal...New Beginnings

All of us have things to happen in our lives that are unexpected.  Some are just part of life, the consequences of our actions. Even though we may not like the consequences, we understand why they are what they are and work to try to get back to normal as quickly as possible. It so often takes longer than we had planned or anticipated.  Other unexpected happenings tend to lend a harder blow, a deeper pain.

What we've always done, what has always been normal to us may take on some drastic changes. I think of some of the many situations that I know of when what was once normal is no longer that. It may be the new normal that comes when relationships change within a family. It may be the new normal that we're forced to accept when we lose a loved one whether through death or for other reasons. It may be that a change in career or career plans is necessary due to unforseen circmstances.It may be that a new normal came into being because of someone else's actions entirely. Regardless of the cause, we are forced to step back and rethink some things at a time when that really is the last thing that we had planned on having to do.

"New Beginnings", new normals are not always what we hope for. They're aren't always what we would classify as being a good thing or a happy time in our life.  They can be times when as hard as we try, we can find nothing positive about the event that has caused our life to take such a drastic turn.  

It's those times when we have to work hard to remember that God is still the same God today that He was yesterday...that He will not leave us. Our lives may have changed, but He has not. Our role in our life may have changed, but His has not and our motivation to do right during those difficult times cannot waver.

If you are facing a new normal, a new beginning, don't sit by without goals, without a purpose and let life happen to you. Take charge of your life and send it in the direction that you want it to go to the best of you ability.  You may not have chosen to be where you are, but the fact is, you are there. Now is the time to get busy making it what you want it to be.

The rain falls hard at times. The storms can be brutal but I'm confident we can face life’s difficulties with God's help. Even when the gray skies seem to linger for a long time, so long that we may begin to wonder if they’ll ever clear again, we can look to our Father and know that with patience and perseverance, the clouds will part and the sun will shine again.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Them Old Cotton Fields Back Home

When it gets to be this time of the year and the cotton fields here in North Alabama begin to turn white with "southern snow", I can't help but think of the song, "Them Old Cotton Fields Back Home" No, I never picked cotton seriously but I actually have picked cotton. I can remember being a little girl and my dad taking me and my brothers down to Mr. George's place. Mr. George farmed cotton. I really can't tell you how many acres he had but that  field surely looked pretty big to me as a young girl. The field was solid white! We were given long muslin cotton sacks that hung over our shoulders and trailed behind us as we walked between the rows of cotton. We would pull the cotton from the bolls, then drop the fluffy white stuff in the sack. My cotton sack never did get very heavy. I obviously wasn't a serious cotton picker, but those who were serious about it would have to pull those cotton filled sacks down the rows as they went from plant to plant pulling the cotton from the bolls. Even cotton can be heavy if there's a lot of it! Once the bag was almost full, the cotton was dumped into a big trailer. I can remember jumping in that big trailer of cotton as a little girl. If you've ever been around a trailer full of cotton, you never forget that smell. It was a good smell.

I know a lot of people make their living by farming cotton but it's much different now than when I was a little girl and even much more different than when my dad was a boy. That kind of cotton-picking that my dad did was hard work...hard, hot, back breaking work.

My dad wrote down some things several years ago that he remembered about picking cotton as a boy. This is an excerpt from some of the things that he wrote in a booklet he entitled, "Some Things I Remember" by Jerry Sutton.

When I was in school, we had six weeks of summer school, then school turned out and gave us six weeks to pick our cotton. Most of the school children at that time lived on farms and the children were needed in the fall of the year to pick the cotton. We managed to get most of our cotton picked during that six week period. If picking wasn't completed during that period we finished it up after school started back.


I remember picking cotton each year and how your fingers around your finger nails would get sore and sometimes bleed. This would happen because the cotton bolls had sharp points on them and you would stick your fingers into the sharp points as you were reaching for the boll to pull the cotton out. My mother would make what she called a stall to slip over our sore fingers.
When I was ten years old, I remember picking 200 lbs of cotton in one day. The next year, when I was 11 years old, I picked 300 pounds of cotton in one day. As a general rule, I would pick about 250 pounds per day. During cotton picking season in the late 40's, my dad would pay us boys $1.00 for each hundred pounds we picked. We had to take some of that money and buy clothes for winter. I would have 2 changes of clothes to wear to school during the winter. Each set would be a pair of pants and a shirt. One would be brown and the other gray. I would wear one set 3 days a week and the other 2 days a week.


The cotton we picked in the fall had to be chopped during the summer. Farmers didn't use chemicals to kill the grass and weeds as they do today. With a hoe in your hand, you would cut the grass from around the cotton plants and pull it out between the rows. Then with a plow attached to the tractor, the grass would be plowed up and would die. I remember on one occasion, when I was about 11, I was sharpening my hoe with a file and my hand slipped. I cut my hand pretty bad on the hoe. My mother poured some coal oil on it and wrapped it up. I got out of chopping cotton for about a day and a a half. The place healed up real well but I still have a scar on my hand.



That was a time when life was hard but much simpler. It was a time when farmers worked the ground by the sweat of their brow and families worked together to get the farm plowed or the crops planted or the cotton picked. It was a time when very few folks suffered from insomnia. It didn't take long to figure out that it was time to rest the body after working from sun up to sun down. It was a time when homemade blackberry jam on a hot biscuit was the rule instead of the exception. It was a time when you knew your neighbor and didn't worry quite so much about that stranger walking up to your front door. It was a time when a man's word meant something.

While I definitely wouldn't want to go back to the times of picking cotton by hand, I hate that we've gotten so far away from the good things that came with that period of time in our history. I think we've thrown out the baby with the bathwater failing to carry some of that "good stuff" forward. What a shame.




I can remember going to the cotton field and waiting for daylight to come so we could start picking. I have also been in the cotton field when it got too dark to see how to pick the cotton.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Thanks but no thanks, Mom

It was his birthday.  He was twelve years old.  Only one more year to be a kid I thought. Only one more year until the big teenage years would hit. We had already done the breakfast-in-bed thing at home and I had already sung the "Happy, happy birthday, Aaron" song  in my most obnoxious, raspy voice to wake him on his birthday morning. Then, it was off to school for the day. (It's such a shame that we have to go to school, or work on our birthdays.)  Anyway, I decided to take him lunch to school. I usually did that for the kids when it was their birthday.  When the kids were in elementary school, I would take cupcakes or cookies or something like that so they could share with the class. That was before the days of school systems not allowing parents to bring in home baked items to school and before the ban on baked "junk foods" at school. As the kids got older, I would just usually take a special lunch to them on their special day, then we would celebrate at home later that day.

I ran to the Subway Sandwich shop and picked up a Pizza sub. to take to Aaron at the middle school.  I also picked up a bouquet of balloons and tied them onto a bag of Starburst candy.  Starburst was one of the birthday boys favorite kinds of candy. When I arrived at the middle school, I went to the front office and had them call him up so I could deliver his surprise to him. 

Aaron was glad to see me and tickled especially to see the Sub sandwich. It didn't take him long to take hold of the Subway Sandwich Shop's sack that his birthday lunch was in. He was also happy to get the Starburst candy.  That was icing on the cake for his birthday lunch but much to my surprise, he declined the balloons. 

I'm not sure what I was thinking.  I guess I wasn't thinking. He was in middle school and much too big to be carrying around a bouquet of balloons at school even if it did have a bag of Starburst candy tied onto the end of it.  I think the balloons sort of embarrassed him. So, I gave him the pizza sub from Subway and the Starburst candy and brought the balloons back home. On the short drive home, I thought...at this age, two out of three is probably not so bad. At the same time, and with a sigh,  I also thought...he's growing up way too fast for my liking.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Asian Lettuce Wraps...It's a Winner, Folks!

Hey y'all!  I saw a recipe being prepared in passing the other day on the Food Network. You know I think I could live just fine with only 3 channels on the television - Food Network, HGTV and ESPN in the fall.  Fellas, you can pick yourself up off the ground now! Yes, I said ESPN! But I also said in the fall.  I'm a graduate of the University of Alabama so I bleed BAMA blood.  I really do try to not be an obnoxious college football fan though.  Those knotheads really get on my nerves.

Anyway, back to the show on Food Network.  I think it was called "Quick Meals" but I haven't seen it often enough to really know?  From what I saw, the chef (She would probably be called a chef. I'm a cook.) prepares maybe 2 meats ahead of time and then prepares 5 different dinners with those 2 meats.  The meat that she used in the recipe that caught my eye was beef brisket and the meal she prepared was Asian Lettuce Wraps. I thought about  PF Chang's wondering if it was anything like they serve.  It looked easy and we love any kind of food that is  close to Chinese food so I knew I had to try it.  I did and let me tell you, it was really good.  I was very pleasantly surprised. Easy and delicious for a meal?  That to me is a perfect combination. 

Let me say this ahead of time.  Unfortunately, I didn't really measure when I made it.  I just kind of dumped stuff together, so the recipe is not going to be exact. If you like more meat than vegetables, then do that or if your a vegetarian, then leave the meat out.  Either way, you'll have a winner! 


Asian Lettuce Wraps

Medium sized Beef Roast (Your choice on the cut -Chuck, Sirloin, or Brisket - I used chuck.) )
Onion Powder
Salt
Sesame Oil
Onion
4 cups shredded cabbage or 1 bag of coleslaw mix
2 cups matchstick carrots
1/4 cup Hoisin sauce (found in the Chinese food section at the grocery store)
1/8 cup Soy Sauce
Romaine lettuce

Place the roast in an oven proof dish.  Sprinkle with onion powder and salt.  Cover with foil and bake on 250 degrees until the meat can be easily pulled apart with a fork.  This will probably take 3-4 hours at least depending on the size of the roast. This can also be done in a slow cooker so it will be ready when you gt home from work. Once it is cooked and cooled a bit, shred with 2 forks or your hands.

In a large wok or skillet, and on medium high heat, drizzle about 2-3 Tablespoons of sesame oil in the bottom of the skillet.  Throw in 1 large onion that has been quartered and sliced.  Stir fry for a couple of minutes just until the onions lose their raw flavor.  Add 4 cups of shredded cabbage and 2 cups of matchstick carrots.  I used a bag of coleslaw mix found in the produce section in grocery story. To the vegetables, add the shredded meat, 1/4 cup Hoisin Sauce and 1/8 cup Soy sauce. Stir fry just long enough to "wilt" the cabbage. Use Romain lettuce leaves as your wraps.  Place some of the stir fry mixture in a leaf, roll up like a burrito. Enjoy!

Variation:  You could also throw in some bell pepper strips along with sesame seeds which would add some more great flavor and crunch to the wraps. 











Monday, August 30, 2010

The Guy's Side

Ladies, sometimes we have to extend a little sympathy to the other side. I received this not too long ago and thought it deserved being shared with y'all.  I can hear the guys shouting in the "amen corner" already!

Rules from the Male Side.

1.  Learn to work the toilet seat.  You're a big girl.  If it's up, put it down. We need it up, you need it down. You don't hear us complaining about you leaving it down!

2.  Shopping is Not a Sport. And no, we are not ever going to think of it that way.

3.  Crying is Blackmail.

4.  Ask for what you want.  Let us be clear on this one.  Subtle hints do not work! Strong hints do not work! Obvious hints do not work! Just say it!

5.  Yes and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question.

6.  A headache that lasts for 17 months is a problem.  See a doctor.

7. Christopher Columbus did not need directions and neither do we.

8.  If it itches, it will be scratched.  We do that.

9. If you ask a question you don't want an answer to, expect an answer you don't want to hear.

10. When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is fine...really.

11. You have enough clothes.

12.  You have too many shoes.

13. I am in shape. Round is a shape.

14. ALL men see in only 16 colors, like Windows default settings.  Peach, for example, is a fruit, not a color. Pumpkin is also a fruit.  We have no idea what mauve is.

15. If we ask what is wrong and you say "nothing", we will act like nothing's wrong.

16. Don't ask what we're thinking about unless you are prepared to talk about things like baseball, the shotgun formation, monster trucks, hunting, etc.

17. Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument.  In fact, all comments become null and void after 7 days.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

One of My Many Stupid Moments

Have you ever had a "stupid moment"? You know what I'm talking about...one of those times when you did something and then immediately after, you thought, I can't believe I just did that! If you haven't, congratulations. If you have, welcome to my world.

This summer, Tim discovered a nest in a dogwood tree in our front yard when he was trimming some branches from the tree. Upon discovering it, he got a ladder at my request so he could climb higher to see if there were any eggs in it. When he climbed the ladder, he didn't see any eggs. What he saw was 2 little baby robins! His face lit up when he discovered the babies. "There are little birds in here!" The little babies had probably been hatched for about 4 or 5 days when we discovered them. They were not attractive at all - no feathers, skin so thin you could see their organs, a little bit of fuzz on them, big heads, etc. They had the kind of face that only a mother could love at that point.

After climbing the ladder and taking some pictures of the newly found nest and its occupants, and after being fussed at tremendously by the parents, we left them alone so they could grow in peace...until the next day. From the day that Tim first discovered the nest and for the next 11 days, I would go outside to the dogwood tree with my ladder in one hand and camera in the other. I would place the 6 foot aluminum ladder as close to the nest as I could, then climb the ladder up 3 steps, hold the camera as high as I could and aim it toward the nest hoping to get some good pictures. I couldn't climb the ladder high enough to actually get above the nest, so I just had to "point and shoot" and hope for the best. It was such a joy to see their development from day to day through my camera's eye. On the 11th day the nest was getting very full and the babies no longer had faces only a mother could love. Those little "bird faces" were growing on me!


Let me back track just a bit.  When I would go out daily to check on the babies the parents would become quite upset with me and voice their displeasure!  They would squawk and fly in and out of the little dogwood tree letting me know that I was in their territory and that I was not welcome there! I tried to get in and out as quickly as possible but some days took longer than others.  On this day, the 11th day after finding the babies, I climbed the ladder to take the pictures and check on the babies.  The mama and dad seemed to be more agitated with me than normal but I continued on with my mission.  Camera...check, ladder... check, full steam ahead! I reached the 3rd step on the ladder, leaned in with camera in hand to get the perfect shot when all of the sudden, I felt something on my back! I reached behind with my hand and realized that one of those adult robins had left me a little present on my back! I could not believe it! What did he/she mean? I was a bird lover! I had worried and fretted over those little baby robins in that nest.  All I wanted was a few photographs and that thing pooped on me! So, here I am standing on a ladder with my head stuck up in this little tree when all of the sudden out of my mouth comes, in the kind of voice that I used to use to scold my kids, "You pooped on me!  You pooped on me!  Why did you poop on me?!" Then it hit me... I was shouting at a bird! I was fussing at a bird! What happened next was just the icing on the cake!


My shouting must have startled the babies, because not long after those words came out of my mouth, one of them fluttered out of the nest to the ground! He escaped! Oh no! I only thought the adult robins didn't like me before!  Now, they left no room for doubt! I had Bird War III on my hands.  Adult robins appeared out of nowhere! What was 2 quickly turned into 8 or 10! It wasn't exactly like the Alfred Hitchcock movie, The Birds but their goal was to make me sorry I had messed with them!

So, I think to myself...I'll just get it and put it back in the nest...no problem. Even if the birds dive-bomb me, it'll be okay. I climb down off the ladder and follow the hopping baby robin...and follow the hopping baby robin...and follow the hopping baby robin.  This went on for what seemed like forever.  Anytime I would get anywhere close to him, he would flutter and hop farther away from me, at one point, even going across the street into my neighbor's yard. At the same time that I'm following this baby, the adults want me out of not only that baby's life but their life and they are letting me know it. What am I gonna do?  Birds were going nuts...the baby robin was scared to death...and I felt horrible! I very well might be the cause of this baby meeting an early death! What to do...what to do...

For the next hour and fifteen minutes, I sat and watched and worried, feeling terribly guilty. I wondered how "the bird world" would handle the mess that this human had made. I would hear the mom chirping loudly to the little robin and the baby chirping back.  It was so pitiful to me.  I felt terrible! The little one finally found a resting place underneath the tree in which his momma was sitting.  She had been chirping so loudly to him for the last hour and 15 minutes trying to tell him where to go and where not to go.   It was sweet and sad at the same time.  I had read in some earlier research that I had done when Tim initially found the nest that the adult robins would do that...they would sit in a tree close to the nest when one got out of the nest, and chirp loudly, to make sure the baby knew the direction to go to get back home. But he couldn't fly and the nest was way too high for him to be able to hop back in!  What to do...what to do...

I stood it as long as I could.  The adult robins had little if any chance of  getting  him up in the nest on their own.  I just didn't see that happening and I was the reason he had gotten out of the nest so I had to brave the elements- the birds dive bombing me, the bird poop, the loud squawking - and get him back in that nest, plain and simple.

I put on some gloves and went over to the baby. He was exhausted by now and didn't put up much of a fight. I laid a butterfly net gently over the baby robin. When he was unable to hop away, I easily picked him up and took him back over to the nest.  After carefully climbing the ladder to the 3rd step for the last time, I laid him in the nest and breathed a huge sigh of relief that he was back safe in his home where he belonged. Whew! I'm not sure if that event was more traumatic for the birds or for me! What was even better was the fact that later on, I saw him sitting comfortably on one of the brances in the little tree.  He was safe. Both his bird world and my human world were at peace for now.

We all do stupid things sometimes.  We use poor judgement and don't think things through. I think that's part of being human.  Hopefully, those episodes diminish a bit with each passing decade. I'm not convinced that our lack of judgement is what we really need to focus on though. I have done some things over the years that could clearly be put in the category of  not using the good sense that God gave me! Those who know me well know how true that is!  I'm thankful though that God has blessed me with some years to grow a little bit and hopefully mature. It may just be that what we do after we do the stupid thing is what really matters. I've heard folks say when speaking of others, "They're just that way. or You'll have to overlook them". Do we excuse the messes that we make too easily?  Do we chalk it up to us or someone else just "being that way". Do we walk away from encounters, situations where we've clearly used poor judgement, where we've clearly messed up with no thought of how to correct it? It may not be possible to fix everything that we ever mess up on. Our human ability may place some limitations on what we are able to do. But I do know that it is not only possible but necessary for the child of God to develop the attitude that we're surely gonna go down trying... that not even an act of Congress could stop our trying to correct wrongs and mend fences.  I wish I had been better at that when I was younger but that was then. I can't turn back time. What I can do is look to the days ahead and be determined that those days will not only be in the past but will be a thing of the past. Sounds like a pretty good plan to me!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Chocolate

My sweet husband and my sweet mom
 in mom's kitchen
When I was growing up my mom use to make this delicious treat for us. She would usually make it for breakfast but every now and then, she would serve it for dinner when we were having "breakfast for dinner". We just called it chocolate, plain and simple.

If I had to describe it to you, I would say that it's something like a hot, pourable homemade chocolate pie.  You know, the kind of homemade chocolate pies that your Granny or Grandma made. That may not sound very appetizing to you but let me assure you that if you are a chocolate fan of any kind, you will love this!

Mom also made homemade biscuits to go along with the chocolate. When those biscuits came out of the oven, she would butter 'em real good and that butter would just be oozing out the sides of those biscuits.  We'd take a biscuit or two, open them up and lay them on our plates, then spoon that chocolate over those biscuits.  Talk about good!  The only thing that made that meal any better was the glass of ice cold milk that we drank with it. 

I asked my mom one time where the recipe came from.  She said that she learned how to make it from my Grandmother, my Dad's mom. Apparently, that was something that could be made from the ingredients that they usually had around the house, things like sugar, flour, milk, cocoa.  During the depression years, most families had no money to spend on special treats and this was something that my Grandmother could make as a treat without going out and spending money for special ingredients.

Well, let me tell you - depression or not, this is a real treat. If you've never had it, try it. You won't be sorry! It's very easy to make. Even though my Mom and my Grandmother made it in an old cast iron skillet on top of the stove, I actually make mine in the microwave now. You don't have to watch it as closely as it cooks and it's less likely to stick and burn. I also serve it with hot, buttered biscuits but mine are the kind that come from the frozen foods section at Wal Mart. There are some things in life, to me, that just aren't worth the trouble of making when I can get them frozen and pop them in the oven. To me, good, frozen biscuits fit perfectly into that category.

My Grandmother made this for her family when my Dad was growing up.  My Mom made this for her family when I was growing up and I made this for my kids when they were growing up. As a matter of fact, I still make it for them and they're basically grown. Who knows, maybe they'll  pass it along to their kids when they have some. That's a nice thought...

"Chocolate"

1 1/2 cups sugar
3 T. flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups milk
1/2 stick butter

Mix sugar, flour and cocoa together well in a microwave proof bowl until you see no lumps of cocoa or flour remaining. Stir in milk and vanilla. Place bowl in microwave and cook on high for 3 minutes.  Take out and stir with a whisk well.  Cook for 2 minutes more, take out and stir well.  Cook for 1 minute more, take out and stir well. Continue cooking for 1 minute at a time and stirring until mixture begins to bubble and thickens. Make sure you stir well  after each cooking time to keep lumps in the chocolate from forming. You want the consistency to be very smooth.  When the chocolate thickens, add 1/2 stick of butter and stir until melted. Serve over hot, buttered biscuits.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Sweetest Lemonade I've Ever Had!

We've all had times when we wanted to just disappear into thin air...times when something happened to embarrass us. It's times like those when we would like nothing more than to be able to wave a magic wand and turn back time 5 seconds!

I’m not sure that I can adequately describe my feelings at the time it happened - my most embarrassing moment that is.  I don't believe that there are even words in our English language that I could use to clearly paint the picture for you. Suffice it to say that it was total, complete embarrassment, probably my most embarrassing moment ever  (and let me assure you that I have had some pretty embarrassing moments in my lifetime.)

I was at my usual Sunday morning place - church services.  The auditorium was quite full; we had a lot of visitors that morning.  The Bible classes has just concluded and the young folks along with their teachers were coming into the auditorium from their classes. We have about a 15 minute break during this time.  It gives everyone time to get up and stretch a minute, go to the restroom, get a drink of water, etc.  I try to use some of this time to meet any visitors that we might have so I was up walking around. The auditorium of our church building has 2 sets of pews, one on the left and one on the right, with an aisle up the center of the bldg. leading to the front of the auditorium.

I had made my way around and spoken with several of our visitors and I proceeded to walk up the center aisle toward the bench that Tim and I usually sit on. Tim was talking with someone about half way up the aisle so I just stopped and stood behind him while he carried on his conversation.

The day was great. As I said, we had a lot of visitors which was such an encouragement to us. You see, we are a relatively new group of the Lord's church.  We've been in our current church building for a couple of years after meeting at places that we rented for about 2 years.  The auditorium was bustling from folks conversing with one another.  It was about 5 minutes before time for our worship service to begin.

As I stood there in the center aisle behind Tim waiting for him to finish speaking with some folks, I felt the weight of my left foot begin to shift a bit and press outwardly. When that happened, the weight on the left side of my body was no longer resting evenly on my high heeled shoe. Uh oh! "Houston, we have a problem!" When the left side of my body weight was no longer resting evenly on my left high heeled shoe, my left foot became off-balance and my left ankle pretty much gave way on me.  Actually, not pretty much...it did! Now let me stop to remind us all how very, very important our ankles are in the scheme of things like holding up our body weight. It's a small member of our body but trust me, it plays a very important role in our well being! If our ankle isn't supporting our leg, guess what? We're not being supported! It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that one out! On with my humiliation... When my left ankle gave way, my left leg gave way, and when my left leg gave way, I went down!!!!!!  Yes, you read right! I went down!  I would love to tell you that it was a graceful fall, one that movies are made of but I dare say that it was probably the kind of fall that folks send in to those shows that highlight people looking stupid!

At any rate, I am confident that it wasn't pretty.  And it wasn't one of those things that, as a participant, you see happening in slow motion. At least I didn't.  It was fast!  Before I knew it, I was sitting in that middle aisle on my backside! (Yes, ladies...at this moment, it is appropriate to feel horrified for me!) There literally was a gasp...an "ohhhhhh" coming from those who saw it happen. Tim turned around, saw me on the floor and was shocked when he realized that I had fallen. (His back had been turned to me the entire time so he didn't actually see what happened.) He helped me back to a standing position, the position I prefer to be in most of the time. With many eyes on me and feeling my face get redder and redder, I waved to the crowd in the auditorium and let them know that I was OK.  "I'm fine...really I'm fine.", I said, and I was ...physically. Note to self - Be extremely thankful for deciding to wear an extra full, rather long dress that morning.

Tim held onto my arm and escorted me to the bench. I'm sure that my face had in it's coloring every shade of red that has been and that will ever be known to mankind.
Embarrassed?  Oh my! That word isn't strong enough.  It just doesn't do justice to how I felt as I sat down.

After services were over, several people showed their sincere concern for me and my physical well being as well as my mental trauma. One of the sweetest, most caring people I have ever been blessed to be associated with came up to me immediately after church and asked,  "Are you okay?" as she gave me a warm hug. I knew she felt my embarrassment. There were several who asked if I was okay. Some thought I had twisted my ankle or that the heel of my shoe had gotten caught in the fibers of the carpet. Two people in particular said when speaking to me about the fall..."Well that’s nothing to be embarrassed about! Everyone falls! " Those statements happened to come from men. I think probably that falling for men isn’t nearly as traumatic as it is for women. It's normal for men, teen boys, little boys and even baby boys to spend a lot of time developing an up close and personal relationship with the ground. Ladies...not so much. Most folks were just puzzled that one second I was standing and the next second I was on the floor.  I was kind of puzzled too!

I survived that episode that morning and went home for the afternoon but every time "the fall" would pop back into my mind, the same sick, embarrassing feeling would come to the surface all over again. You know that feeling where your heart just sinks and you feel like you have Sumo wrestlers going at it in your stomach?  Yep...that was how I felt.

On Sunday evening we returned to Kelly Spring Rd. for the evening worship service as usual. I, of course, was hoping that I wouldn't have to relive what had happened and that no one would bring it up anymore.  As I was standing in the center aisle once again talking with some people before church began a kind man, who had visited with us several times asked me in a rather loud voice, "Are you okay from your fall this morning?"  I kind of chuckled a bit and said, "I’m fine, really I am.  But thank you for asking." He went on to say as he continued in his rather loud voice, "Well that’s good as long as your okay. That’s all that matters."

Those last two sentences that he said all of the sudden made a lot of sense to me. The more I thought about it, the more I realized. Yes, that really is all that matters...that I wasn't hurt...that I was okay.

Now, don't misunderstand. I still was embarrassed, terribly embarrassed!  I can say that I don't believe I have ever had a more embarrassing moment in all my years of life on this earth, but I was okay. That was the important thing. That visitor along with many members of my Christian family helped bring that to the forefront of my thinking.

I received a big old bushel basket full of lemons that day and I didn't even ask for it.  I also received some of the sweetest lemonade that I’ve ever had and I didn’t even have to make it. My sweet family in Christ made it for me and handed it to me on a silver platter.  



Wednesday, August 11, 2010

And the Two Shall Become One

From the time I met them almost 30 years ago, I knew something was different about them. They just seemed to get along so well...two peas in a pod. They didn't just love each other, they really did enjoy one another's company. It was rare when you would see one without the other. What they did, they did as a couple. When they were thought of by others, it was usually as a couple, not individuals. They were very different physically. He was tall and slim. She was quite petite. He was a few years older than she was but when she caught his eye, he knew that she was special.

That couple has been married for 55 years now. That tall slim man is in his 80's. His hair is white, hers is gray. He walks with a little less pep in his step these days and sometimes forgets things but their love for one another has not diminished. It has, in fact, grown stronger as the years have passed.  The love that they now share is not the same kind of love they had when they were married for those first 20 years.  It's more of a caring, nurturing kind of love. It's the kind where she fusses at him for trying to do things that he really shouldn't try to do. You know, things like going outside and working in 100 degree weather or climbing a ladder to do some work on the house. It's the kind of love where he still comforts her when life and the worries of life get her down.  I have no doubt that either one of them would willingly give their life for the other.

Their example to me has been a great one of what it means in a practical sense to no longer be two individuals going their separate ways but to cleave to each other as a married couple. During the time that I've known them, they haven't "done their own things" without considering the other.  They've loved and supported each other, even showing support to the extended families that they married in to.

That's a lesson we can all learn whether we've been married for 1 year, 25 years, or 50 years. We live in a world that encourages us to do "what's best for us", individually, to put "us" at the top of the totem pole.  I think we've forgotten what it's like to put others needs and desires above our own. There's no other relationship where this is more important than in the marriage relationship. It may be in reference to a specific need or sometimes it may just be a desire of our spouse, something that we'd really prefer not to do if we were thinking only about ourselves. It's times like those that I need to remember the examples that I have been fortunate enough to have in my life and specifically the example of my mother and father-in-law, Mary and Joe Smith.

In-laws have been the butt of jokes as long as I can remember. They have gotten a bad rap over the years.  They're portrayed as bossy and meddling. While I'm sure there are some who fit that description well, there also are some who can teach us valuable lessons if we open our minds to that possibility.

While we haven't always agreed on everything and although we've gotten on each other's nerves at times, I'm thankful for mine. They've taught me volumes about what it means to no longer be two but one, not through any lecturing or meddling but by their example. Hmmmm...It is true...Actions do speak so much louder than words.


November, 2010


Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Ever...Really!

If you're looking for a good, I mean really good chocolate chip cookie recipe, then you need to try this one. There is a bakery in New York called Levain's Bakery. http://www.levainbakery.com/ They are known for their giant, colossal, delicious, buttery, chocolate chip cookies. Their recipe is apparently a top secret so this recipe is a copycat version. This recipe made 45 - 2 1/2" cookies when I made it. Making it their way? It will make 12 huge cookies! That tells you how enormous they are! This is a thick cookie, one that's crispy a bit on the outside and chewey on the inside. It's not like the typical "Toll House" cookie that is flat, so if that's what you prefer, you won't care for this one but we love it!
The Very Best Chocolate Chip Cookie

Ingredients
2 sticks of unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups all purpose flour or bread flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 cup good quality semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup good quality milk chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions: In a mixing bowl, beat butter and both sugars until creamy. Don't over beat. Add eggs and vanilla and beat just until incorporated.

Stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. When thoroughly mixed, add to batter and stir just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.

Chill dough for 1 hour.

Baking - their way: Divide dough into 12 big 4 oz. sections. (Use a 1/2 cup measuring cup and fill. That's the approx. size of 4 oz.) Form into cookie shape and bake on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in a 375 degree preheated oven for 8 minutes. When timer rings and without opening oven, reduce heat to 325 and bake another 8 minutes or until cookies appear set. 2nd way: You can choose not to bake at 2 different temps and bake totally at 350 degrees for 18-22 min. Yield: 12 ginormous cookies

Baking - my way: Scoop a "heaping teaspoonful" of cookie dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in a 375 degrees preheated oven on the bottom rack for 9 -10 minutes. (Begin checking on them at the 9 min. mark. You want them set but not really brown - just a little bit golden. That way, they aren't hard and crispy but more chewy.) Yield: 40 - 45 normal sized cookies

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

You Must Win

You Must Win
Bev Smith
August 1, 2010


Nate and Aaron
When my kids were preschool age, there were days when it seemed like all I did was correct them. As a matter of fact there were times when I would get to the end of the day and try to think of a pleasant, fun experience that we had had and some days I had a really hard time coming up with even one! I'm sure you've had some days like that too.

On this Wednesday in particular, it had been one of those days...fussing, arguing, time outs, paddling. You name it. If it was of a negative nature in reference to behavior, it happened with the kids on that Wednesday. We all had dinner and had gotten dressed for Wednesday night Bible class. We arrived at the church building and I walked into the Bible class that I was co-teaching. With a huge sigh, I relayed some of the difficulty that I had experienced that day to my co-teacher, Mary Jo. I told her that I not only felt like I had been at war all day but that I was exhausted! Mary Jo looked at me and with a gentle voice said, "But you must remember, you have to win." That happened over 20 years ago but I have never forgotten what she said.

It is true. As a parent, you must win. Your children must know who is boss...who is the authority in the house. I believe that at almost every age until adulthood, most children believe they know what it best about any given matter and sometimes it coincides with what mom and dad think is best and sometimes it doesn't. What they are missing in the mix of things is the life lessons and the experiences that you have gained over the years. Most kids aren't privy to that because of their youth. That usually only comes with time.

When you were blessed to become a parent, God automatically put you in the role of being a teacher. Your responsibility to both your children and to God is to teach them diligently what is best. Teach them diligently when the days are calm and easy-going and teach them diligently when it seems that you're at war all day. The reward comes not just when your children show their respect for you and your authority but more importantly, when they show their respect for God and His authority.
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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Amazing Love

We sang a song at church not too long ago. It was a new song to me. I don't recall ever hearing it before. There are some hymns that we sing at church that cause me to look more introspectively than others. They cause me to think about what I say, how I act, whether I'm really putting God at the forefront of my life like I should. Am I truely a servant of God doing my best, not perfect, but doing my best? This was one of those songs.  Since this was the first time I had heard the song I was paying extra attention to the words while trying to follow the music at the same time. We had sung about 1/2 of the song when I stopped singing. I could no longer form the words as tears welled up in my eyes. They weren't sad tears though. They were tears of gratefulness to my Father. Those words"...that You, my God would die for me!" really struck a cord with me at that time on that day. It touched me to the core as I sat on the bench and listened to the rest of the song.

I think sometimes we're afraid to show emotion. We're afraid of what others might think. Thoughts of God and the sacrifice of His Son should cause emotions to stir within us - emotions like sorrow for his suffering, and thankfulness for His mercy in allowing us to be called children of God.

Although I've heard the song several times since that initial time, it still touches me every time...every time. If we ever reach the point where words like that don't stir emotion in us, we need to try to figure out why. They should.

I needed that song that day. I needed to be reminded to do better.

If you haven't sung or heard the song before, I've posted it below. This is the arrangement that is in our song books at Kelly Spring Rd. I understand the arrangement that we sang is different from how it was originally arranged when it was written. Either way, the words should make you want to do better.


And Can It Be
by Charles Wesley Arranged by Darrell Bledsoe

And can it be that I should gain an int'rest in my Savior's Blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who scorned, His perfect love.

Amazing love, how can it be that You, my God, would die for me.
Amazing love, how can it be, that You, my God, would die for me.

Boldly I come before Your throne, to claim Your mercy immense and free;No greater love will e'er be known, For O, my God, it found out me.


Amazing love, how can it be that You, my God, would die for me.
Amazing love, how can it be, that You, my God, would die for me.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

You Can Call Me Granny

Aaron and his real
sweetie, Emily
Our 2nd oldest son, Aaron, will be finishing up his Bachelor's Degree in Nursing in December at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.He worked during the summer in an Internship Program sponsored by the University and the local hospital, DCH (Druid City Hospital.) Aaron had applied for the job and was happy to be one of several to receive it. That meant he could quit the job that he had been doing for a couple of years in Tuscaloosa...making sub sandwiches. There was definitely no love lost in leaving the old job. This internship was a paying job and in his field of study.  The best part was that it paid more than the job that he previously had at the Sub Shop. Life was good!

Aaron was placed in the TICU at DCH.  TICU stands for Trauma Intensive Care Unit. He quickly grew to really like that area of nursing. Aaron said that it was basically one- on-one care. He liked that. He didn't care for being stretched between several patients. As a matter of fact, that is probably his favorite area that he has worked so far.

During the summer internship, a sweet little lady was admitted in TICU. The way Aaron said would describe her the best would be to picture in your mind a little old granny. That would be her...white hair, short, sweet, elderly. As a matter of fact, if I'm recalling the story correctly, she was 88 years old. Aaron said that when she was admitted in the TICU, she introduced herself by saying, "You can call me Granny." So, that's what they did. They called her Granny.

Granny wasn't your typical TICU patient. She was able to speak easily, didn't seemed to be in a lot of pain, and had just a good attitude about life in general. Even though Granny wasn't Aaron's specific patient, he had helped Granny's nurse with Granny a couple of times. Granny took a liking to Aaron. Now, seeing that I'm Aaron's mom, I will say that I don't think that taking a liking to Aaron would be a very difficult thing to do but I am just a little bit biased in my opinion. But 88 year old Granny took a particular liking to Aaron. She even told the other nurses that she thought Aaron was cute and that he was her boyfriend. That didn't really bother Aaron though. He was happily married and a newlywed. Besides, she was 88 years old! She was definitely not a threat by any wild stretch of the imagination!

Granny was being discharged from the TICU and Aaron's work with the patient that he had been assigned was caught up so he went down to help Granny's nurse get her ready to leave the floor. Granny didn't often ask the nursing staff for things; she would tell them...and they usually would fill her request. After Aaron had helped get Granny ready to leave the floor, she turned to him and said, "Now you can give Granny a kiss." Aaron thought, "What? I know she didn't say what I thought she said!" Contemplating what to do, Aaron began to think about the possibilities. What was he going to do? He knew that she didn't have any communicable diseases. There was nothing that she "had" that he could catch, so he thought..."What's the harm. I'll just give her a little peck on the cheek. She's a sweet little old lady, then she'll be gone." So, Aaron bent down to give 88 year old, sweet, white haired Granny a peck on the cheek as she was sitting in her wheelchair before she left the TICU floor. The next thing that happened was not even within the realm of thinking of this student nurse working as an intern at DCH.  But, in his own words, "SHE WAS FAST!" Before he knew it, she had turned her head and it was no longer a cheek peck but a full mouth-on peck!!!!! Maybe no communicable diseases but OH MY!!!!

Aaron said that once little old Granny left the room, he immediately went over to the sink and used a lot of soap and water on his face and mouth! Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, washing your mouth out with soap, huh?

According to Aaron, there are some patients that just leave a lasting impression on their nursing staff because of their personality, their illness, their compliance, their grumpiness.  Granny will definitely be one that leaves a lasting impression on Aaron as she welcomed him into the world of nursing in a way he never expected...with a kiss!

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