Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Out and Among the Living

 


Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. (KJV 1 Thessalonians 5:11)


Can you remember the days when we used to get together with family and friends, comforting each other during the hard times and edifying (building up) one another? Can you remember the days when people weren't afraid to get close to you because you had germs that might pass onto them? Can you remember the days of hugs and kisses and those visits to loved ones in nursing homes or the hospital?

In our country and around the world, things are heating up and that heat is not a warm, comforting feeling. Two years ago, we were all shocked to hear that a lab grown virus had been let loose and people were dying as a result. Then, the inevitable happened. People were told that they must stay away from other people. Businesses were forced to close and churches were told that they had to close their doors. 

Let me say that again - CHURCHES WERE TOLD THAT THEY HAD TO CLOSE THEIR DOORS!

So when is it ever okay to tell the Church that she must shut down and forbid the gathering together of which the Bible speaks? The verse referenced above says to comfort one another and edify one another. That meant, and means, gathering together. In another verse, we are told to not forsake "the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." (KJV Hebrews 10:25) 

God actually wants us to get together. It's good for us. It's good for others. Here's why:

When we gather together, we encourage one another - edifying

When we gather together, we are stronger - "A cord of three strands is not easily broken" (CSB Ecclesiastes 4:12)

When we gather together, we are healthier in Spirit and sometimes in physical health - we are comforting one another and that makes us stronger and healthier in our faith. Part of the reason that so many people died in nursing homes during the last two years is because they had lost hope. It's not enough to have someone wave to you from behind a window pane, or on a video chat, or any other form of "interaction". We crave physical comfort in the form of a hug, a kiss, a snuggle. It's the way God made us. When God made Adam and Eve, He didn't tell Adam that he could wave to Eve from six feet or more whenever he felt that he needed company. Instead, God said that "it is not good for the man to be alone". (NIV Genesis 2:18) He told Adam that Eve was God's gift to him and that together, they should have children and multiply. Hmmmm. You need physical contact for that.

I could go on and one, but I think you get the picture.

Life needs to go on and we need to get out and among the living. If we don't, who is going to be found faithful, going about the Master's business until He returns? (See Luke 19) 

The Master's business is to preach the Gospel (the Great Commission) unto the ends of the earth. That's going to require that we tell as many people as we can about Jesus, about HIs saving grace. People need to get saved. People need to know that there's hope (and it's not in this dying world). People need to know about - gasp - the Book of Revelation. The day is approaching (we don't know when but we sure can discern the signs of the soon return of Christ, birth pangs if you will). 

Are you ready? Are your loved ones ready? Are those that the Holy Spirit has put upon your heart ready?

Let me encourage you to live in freedom. The apostle Paul said, "To live is Christ and to die is gain." (NIV Philippians 1:21) We need to stop living in fear of losing this life and really live in Christ. It means risk, but we have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Disclaimer: I am in no way saying that people should go out and spread disease if they are sick. Also, they might need to isolate for a time because of serious conditions. What I AM saying is that we need to dispel fear. For fear is a form of enslavement. And how is that any way to live?



Monday, January 31, 2022

Menu Planning - January 31, 2022

 


Please Excuse the yucky looking ring around my burner in the picture above. Looks worse in the picture; believe me.

This morning I made a homemade soup/stew and it was wonderful for lunch. The rest of the gang will have it tonight for supper. When making soups and stews, I rarely follow a recipe. The best soups seem to be made when you throw in whatever you have and whatever you like. If you want an approximate recipe for the one above, here it is:

Vegetable Stew

1 quart of canned tomatoes, undrained
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pint canned black beans, undrained
2 large potatoes, diced
1 handful dehydrated mushrooms (I use morels), crushed
2 or 3 dehydrated peppers (I use a sweet pepper), crushed
1 or 2 large pinches dried basil, crushed
1 pinch dried oregano, crushed
Several asparagus shoots, cut in bite sized pieces
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 or 2 TBSP good oil
2 large leaves fresh kale, chopped
Freshly ground peppercorns to taste
A pint of water or vegetable broth if to thick

Saute the onion, carrots, garlic, and celery in the oil until softened and aromatic. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Then lower heat to gently simmer until the veggies are tender. 

Here is my plan for the week:

Monday

Breaded Fish Strips (from Schwan's)
Vegetable Stew (above)

Tuesday

Skillet Lasagna
Green Beans
Tossed Salad

Wednesday

Baked Chicken
Mashed Potatoes
Green Beans
Deviled Eggs

Thursday

Left-overs

Friday

Pizza & Pop

Saturday

Meatloaf
Baked Potatoes
Cubed Red Kuri Squash

Sunday

On Your own

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Garden Planning with Frances Hodgson Burnett

 


This year, I intend to shake things up in my garden just a little bit. I guess I have been inspired by a book I have been reading - Unearthing The Secret Garden. Marta McDowell has done a marvelous job of giving the reader a glimpse into the life of Mrs. Burnett, especially of her love of nature's beauty and abundance that in turn inspired the massive success of The Secret Garden (available in about any form you like, even a movie of the same name starring Margaret O'Brien).

Here are only some of the trees and plants that Mrs. Burnett enjoyed and that may have inspired her books:

  • Violets
  • Scarlet Pimpernel
  • Indian Corn
  • Dahlias
  • Chestnut Trees
  • American Linden
  • Maple Trees
  • Delphiniums
  • Crocuses
  • Oak Trees
  • Petunias
  • Roses
  • Snowdrops
  • Crotons
  • Poppies
  • Snapdragons
  • Primrose
  • English Bluebells
  • Tulips
  • Hyacinths
  • Daffodils
  • Clematis
  • Jasmine
  • Larkspur
  • Anemones
  • Marigolds
  • Lilac
  • Lilies of all sorts
  • Sunflowers

I have watched lots of gardening videos online featuring the best in the practice from Wales to the southern United States. These people have been working outside to prepare for spring and it's an appealing process right now. But, since winter, with its accompanying snow and cold, is in full force here in the north, I am in planning mode. That's all well and good for me because it gives me the opportunity to take time to rest and to dream, and plan, for a different or better garden.

Here's where Frances Hodgson Burnett and The Secret Garden come in. My plan is to incorporate more beauty and possibly more herbal health into my garden.

As far as size goes, I don't plan to increase anything in that area. However, I do intend to make the most of the space that I do have. After all, I do not have the luxury of being able to pay a gardener to help me. 

I have four small beds in the back of the house, mostly under pine trees with pheasant pens providing additional shade, that the previous owner had planted. In one of the beds, is a large amount of Yarrow which is quickly taking over the entire area. I will keep some of the Yarrow (it's a great ground cover as well as useful in homeopathic medicine for blood clotting). I would like to pop in some California Poppies (useful for a relaxing tea and other purposes), a bit of Calendula (use in tea, balms, etc.), and maybe a mint like Bea Balm along with some Sage.

The other beds are filled with lovely flowers such as Roses, various Lilies, herbs, and even Asparagus and Chives. I just need to do some weeding to clean up the beds. 

Out front, I have Echinacea, Roses, wild violets, and other flowers that I still have not identified. Again, a heavy weeding and cleaning will do wonders there. I think I will put in a few Nasturtiums to add a pop of color and variety - and it's a blessing that the sun shines nicely in that area.

As for the actual vegetable garden area, I already have Lavender, Bee Balm, Lemon Balm, Chives, Bergamot, and Sage. Last year I put in some Thyme, but it would take a great miracle for any Thyme to reseed and come up given the cold winters. This year I intend to pop in some Basil and Calendula, along with some Marigolds here and there. 

Shall we talk about Sunflowers? The flowers below are a type of sunflower; they grow low to the ground, however. What variety are they? I don't know. They were there in the beds in front of the house when we moved here and I will be sure to keep them. They bloom every year and are a beautiful perennial.


I will put tall sunflowers someplace where they won't shade my sun loving veggies and/or flowers.

Hopefully, I will have a freshened up garden space(s) that I will enjoy. When planning your own beautiful garden, try to pick plants that you enjoy, be they edible or not. I chose to include mostly plants and flowers that are culinary and/or medicinal. You might just want lovely plants that bring you joy.

That's the largest blessing from gardening - the joy that you inevitably get from it. Wishing you the best season yet!



Monday, January 24, 2022

Menu Plan Monday - January 24, 2022

 


So, it's been forever since I posted a Menu Plan Monday. Today, I just felt like doing so. It seems that I have been feeling a little down in the dumps, maybe just tired of all of the arguing, the high prices, increase in crime, lines being drawn in the sand ... you know what I mean. Since cooking and writing are both passions of mine, or at least they used to be, I am counting on them once again for creativity and a little more joy. And in case you've ever wondered, you can feel depressed and still have joy. Joy is not the same as happiness and it is not dependent upon your circumstances, but rather on your express choice to praise God for who He is. 

That's where I am at tonight as I type in this menu plan. I know it is a basic plan, but I have jury duty this week and with my job, it's enough to keep me pretty busy.

Monday

Beef Stew

90 minute Dinner Rolls

Cole Slaw

Tuesday

Potato Soup

Salads

Blueberry Pie

Wednesday

Chicken Tacos (using my home canned chicken breast)

Thursday

Left-overs

Friday

Pizza & Pop

Saturday

Sloppy Joes

Green Beans

Salads

Sunday

On Your Own

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Preparedness

 

Coreopsis Lanceolata

Enjoying the beauty of nature is important to mental health. It's also tied to physical health because it often reduces stress in people, and we all know how critical dealing well with stress is.

The photo above of the lance-leaf tickseed above (from the garden bed by my house) really has nothing to do with the subject of preparedness, but it is pretty and, therefore, I want to include it in this post.

This year, as in the past thirty some years, I have grown food in order to "prepare" for the coming winters. In the case of those of us in the north, there's also spring and fall in which to rely upon harvest. We can never be too prepared, can we? 

Every year, I stock up on essentials just in case we get a blizzard and end up stuck in the house for days on end. I also grow as much of my own food (herbs, some berries, and vegetables - I have to buy most fruit). I love trekking to the woods and finding wild blackberries and mushrooms. I have just this year discovered wood sorrel and other delectable salad fixings. Putting food away in the forms of canned, dehydrated, and frozen goods has been therapeutic - and necessary for our family.

I have watched some great online videos and read books and articles concerning the importance of making "prepping" more of a priority than ever before. For the most part, I would have to agree. I don't know if you have noticed, but grocery products have soared in price over the last few months. So have gas prices - both automobile gasoline and heating gas (lp and natural gas). Then there are lumber prices. That's the one everyone talks about these days. And have you thought about purchasing a home? Forget it unless you want to make an offer above and beyond the listed price of whatever property you can actually find available.

No matter what the cause of the rising prices (I have my own theories, but do not wish to elaborate), times are getting tougher for most of us and they are probably going to get a whole lot tougher in the coming days ahead.

The question remains, though. Can we be too prepared? Is there such a thing?

In my own opinion, I would have to say that we can surely overdo it. The reason I think that way is because I know that, as a Christian, I must rely upon God. He said in the Gospel of Matthew that He cares for the lillies and the birds - how much more does He care for us? He has promised to take care of our needs (not our wants - don't confuse them). 

I do believe that part of that providing comes through opportunities to grow and harvest, and then preserve the harvest. I do believe that the Lord expects us to be prepared. Proverbs 6:6-8 says, "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer and gathereth her food in the harvest." (KJV)

Proverbs 31 says in verses 10-31:

"A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."

 So, God does expect us to make the best use of our resources and be ready. Yet, we can become so focused on our efforts to provide for ourselves that we forget the One who is the real provider. We can do nothing good apart from Him.

And that leads in to which we really need to prepare. Yes, we need to prepare for difficult "moments" in time. But there is certainly something far more important that should grab our attentions and help us to become even more "prepared". 

ETERNITY

I believe, by drawing heavily upon what the Bible says about the future, this world is moving rapidly toward that which Ezekiel and the Book of  Revelation speak about. And not just those two Biblical books. Daniel speaks of the great tribulation. 

1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 says, "Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, 'Peace and safety,' destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape." (NIV) 

Obviously, we are to be ready for the Lord Jesus Christ's return. It could happen today, next month, next year, whenever. We don't know the "day nor the hour". But we can discern the times. Things are unsteady in the middle east. Things are unsteady in the United States. Things are unsteady in the Church - yes, the (collective) Church has been moving away from the Church in Philadelphia and becoming more and more the Church in Laodicea. I don't know about you, but I really do NOT want the Lord to spit me out of HIs mouth. 

So, my conclusion concerning preparedness is that to prepare for the physical needs of our families is good. It affects mental and physical health. It's what we should do as Proverbs 31 women. But to prepare for the coming "taking away" (or rapture) of Christ's Church is even more important. This affects our spiritual state - which Jesus said is more important than the body (Matthew 10:28).

* I know that not everyone agrees concerning a pre-tribulation rapture. Some believe it will happen mid-tribulation or even post-tribulation. I don't think that's the crux of the matter. Christ is coming for HIs bride. We are told to be watching and be ready. I look up every morning and wonder, is this day? Personally speaking, I can't wait.

Monday, June 07, 2021

Menu Plan Monday - June 7, 2021

 


I have taken a break from blogging for a short while, mostly due to busyness, but also due to just feeling as if nothing matters in this world, least of all homemaking. However, while I am still busy, I also believe that having a voice about conservative things - and homemaking as well - matters. The United States of America, as well as the rest of the world, is in a bit of *Ahem* disarray. Everyone is looking for something or someone to solve their problems. But the fact of the matter is, there is nobody or no thing that will do the job other than Jesus Christ. Today I can continue blogging and talking about what matters to me - faith. We still have that freedom and I refuse to take it for granted.

I also believe that planning is important, but I don't hold too tightly to it. I plan with the knowledge that tomorrow is not guaranteed. I plan while keeping in mind that "God willing" I will be able to complete a task or a trip or whatever. And menu planning is at the top of my list. It helps me stay organized and I never have to waste time wondering what's for supper. I only have to look at the list on my refrigerator.

My garden is hopping right along and that means fresh vegetables for the table and maybe a full freezer and pantry for the winter months later on.

Wishing you a blessed week and, God willing, I will post more often.

Monday

BBQ (smoke flavored) ribs in crock-pot

Baked potatoes in microwave

Green beans

Tuesday

Sicilian Supper

Garden salads

Birthday cake & ice-cream

Wednesday

Cauliflower Shepherd's Pie

Thursday

Left-overs

Friday

Pizza & pop

Saturday

Eating out with a gift from friends

Sunday

On your own

Monday, January 25, 2021

Menu Plan Monday - January 25, 2021

 

Our warm winter is coming to an end and the cold has begun in earnest. I guess that we people in the northern part of the country should expect that, but of course it throws us into a tizzy when it happens. December and January is not normally nearly as warm as it has been (sometimes days with temperatures well above freezing) so I will be grateful for what I had.

On Friday, I went to the barn to feed my two ewes when I took a peek into my daughter's goat stall. Standing there was a tiny buckling, dried off but shivering. We left him with his mother until Saturday morning, but noticed then that he was very cold and could not nurse. After some research, we determined that he was hypothermic and simply could not latch on enough to nurse. At that point, we had to bring him in the house and get him warm really quick. We did give him supplements along with colostrum from the mother goat. Well, long story short - when this happens you just have to keep the baby inside in the warmth until the cold snap ends or he's big enough to withstand the temperatures. 

So...we are keeping this little guy in the house and bringing him outside every two to three hours (with a doggie jacket on) to nurse from his mother. Then, we take a screaming baby from his screaming mother and bring him back inside, where he basks in the warmth on the hearth rug in front of the wood burner. No kidding. Lots of fun. By the way, this is a nigerian dwarf goat and he's really tiny. Right now he's 5 lbs. and gaining weight slowly. Lots of energy and pretty spunky when he's not sleeping.


For this week's menu plan, I decided to do some warming soups. Thursday has become our left-over night, but often I find we don't have left-overs. We do have grown boys that eat a lot 😃. On those days, I just search through the freezer and pantry and try to come up with something easy. Sometimes it's a package of hot dogs (which I loathe but they can come in handy) or a can of whatever. I do prefer to have a plan, though. Here's mine:

Monday

Cheeseburger Soup

Tuesday

Vegetable (with cabbage) Soup

Parmesan Chicken Strips with Salads

Baked Potatoes

Wednesday

One Pot Ham and Veggie Pasta

Thursday

Left-overs and Whatever Else

Friday

Pizza

Saturday

Brats

Warm Potato Salad with Capers

Baked Beans

Sunday

On Your Own