Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Gift of Thankfulness

When I was a little girl I had terrible dreams, night terrors, really.  I dreamt of running, being chased, dressed in rags, being hunted.  I could feel the cold, hear the dogs.  I ran, under cover of darkness, stumbling through snowbanks and hiding under dilapidated porches.  My dreams were always the same and even as a child they drove me to my knees in prayer.

We didn't have a television when I was little and we never went to the movies. I didn't have any scary images filling my mind. My childhood was wholesome and uncomplicated - and yet I dreamed unspeakable dreams.   I couldn't understand my dreams.  I had no idea where they had come from.  I knew only that they terrified me and filled me with dread.  And then I read "The Diary of Anne Frank".  At 9 years old, I sat curled in a chair next to the wood stove, engrossed in the story of young Anne, knowing in the very core of my being that this atrocious persecution was the stuff that filled my dreams.

That night, as I lay in my cozy, warm bed, I prayed.  I thanked God for warm blankets and a roof over my head.  I thanked Him for enough food to eat and indoor plumbing.  I thanked Him for my family and my gloves and my boots.  I lay in bed thanking God for every good thing I could think of.

My dreams kept coming, however, they didn't scare me as they once had.  I dreamt of running with my family and hiding and always being two steps ahead of my pursuers.  I dreamt of hiding in plain sight yet never being seen.  As a little girl, I began to plan for the future rather than fear it.

I grew up.  The dreams ceased, for the most part anyway.  I got married, had children and chased the American Dream.  Even so, every night when I got into bed, I would thank God with a grateful heart.  When the weather was snowing and blowing outside, I would snuggle into my blankets and thank the Lord for my comfortable bed and warm quilts.  And I would know that this could all end tomorrow.  Tomorrow, I could be on the run, cold and hungry.  But tonight I was warm and impossibility comfortable and I was thankful.

When we moved to our "Little Shouse on the Prairie",  I learned to be even more thankful.  Living without electricity or hot water or flushing toilets make me thankful to have oil lamps, a wood cookstove and an outhouse.  Living without refrigeration made me thankful for my pressure canner and living without a dryer made me thankful for the clothes horse my husband built for me.  But more than all of those things, I have learned to be thankful for every hardship, every inconvenience.  Why?  Because every difficult thing has been my schoolmaster.  Every impossible situation I have endured has strengthened me and built my faith.  Hardships and trials have wrought in me the great gift of thankfulness.  Because I have lived without, because I have struggled, I have the capacity to be truly thankful.

When I crawl into bed tonight, I will thank God for my impossibly cozy, comfortable life.  I will thank Him for the hardships that He has allowed in my life, knowing they have been His way of preparing me to trust Him completely.  I will thank Him for my warm bed knowing that tomorrow I could be running for my life.  And even then, I will thank Him for preparing me, in His perfect wisdom, for just such a future.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sunday Afternoon Tea

Years ago, I felt compelled to continue the traditions I had been raised with -  namely the Sunday Afternoon Dinner.  You know the one - Roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, freshly baked rolls - the tradition many of us grew up cherishing.  I loved walking in from church and breathing in the heady aromas emanating from my cozy kitchen.  I loved the familiarity of Sunday Dinner and the memories it would build for my children.  I loved that I always had dinner in the oven for spur of the moment hospitality opportunities.  But I didn't love the work - the hurried, even frantic Sunday mornings spent barking out orders to my children, just to keep things moving along so that I could have everything ready before we walked out the door for church.  I didn't love the mountains of dishes that awaited me after our big dinner.  And I didn't love never really getting a day of rest.

And so, I changed our tradition.  I began to cook our big family dinner on Saturday.  I varied the menu and rotated between roast, ham, chicken and even pork chops.   Knowing there would be leftovers, I began to plan soups for Sunday dinner.  Making roll dough the night before, I was able to turn Sunday into a true day of rest.  Now, Sunday morning is peaceful, no rushing or hurrying about and with a big pot of soup on the stove and rolls raising in the warming oven, we always have a meal ready for guests.  Sunday has become restful indeed.

Every once in a while, instead of soup, I will make Tea on Sunday afternoon.  Tea is generally light, not involving a lot of work.  Sunday Tea, served on our best china, bathed in firelight, is the highlight of a dreary winter afternoon.

This Sunday, Maid Elizabeth and I served a simple tea of Bacon Onion Galette and Biscuits with Raspberry Jam.  A Galette is nothing more than a savory, rustic tart with a fancy name.  It is quite simple to make - here is a rough recipe.

Bacon Onion Galette

1 pound bacon, chopped (or bacon bits)
3 large sweet onions
1/3 C butter (optional)
2 bulbs garlic, chopped
1 tsp. (or more to taste) Dijon Mustard
Salt & Pepper, to taste
1 C Parmesan cheese

1 pie crust (I used my buttermilk pie crust recipe cut in half).

Chop bacon into small chunks and saute in large saucepan until just beginning to cook.  Add onion, sliced into rings.  Cover and continue to cook for 15 minutes, adding butter if more fat is needed.  Remove cover and continue to saute, adding chives (optional) and garlic.  Saute until the onions until they are caramelized.  Add the Dijon mustard and salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Roll out pie crust into a rectangle (on a cookie sheet or rectangle baking stone).  Sprinkle the crust with about 1/3 C Parmesan.  Pour the onion/bacon mixture into the middle of the pie crust and spread to within 2 inches of the edge.  Sprinkle with another 1/3 C of Parmesan.  Fold the excess pie crust back onto the Galette.

Bake at 350° for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven, sprinkle with the remaining 1/3 C Parmesan and return to the oven for 15 more minutes.  Serve warm.

Sauteing the bacon

Adding onions

Almost there...

Rolling out the pie crust

Parmesan added

I spread out the bacon/onion mixture and sprinkled with Parmesan

The crust has been folded over the Galette

Biscuits fresh from the wood cookstove

Tea is served!

This Galette is rich - you can only eat a small piece - but it is wonderfully flavorful!  Served with veg and a biscuit, it is perfect for Sunday Tea.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Breakfast on the Run

Sunday mornings at our house are often a hurried affair.  Getting 7 people ready for church does not leave a whole lot of time to prepare a hearty breakfast, but not having breakfast is not an option.  The few times I've hustled my family out of the door before feeding them I ended up regretting it - seriously.

Although I am sure that breakfast cereal is the quickest option, I can't quite reconcile myself with throwing sugar-laden fruity-O's at the children right before I expect them to sit quietly for 3 hours.  And so, I am always looking for ways to produce a good, hearty breakfast with the least amount of work in the shortest amount of time.  Well, a girl can dream, right?!

One of my favorite standbys is eggs in sausage cups.  They take about 5 minutes to prepared and 25 minutes to cook (during which time I can get everybody ready).  During the last 5 minutes of baking, I put homemade bread in the oven to toast and by the time the sausage and eggs are done, we have a complete breakfast - hot, hearty and full of protein.

Cracking eggs into the sausage cups

Notice the ones with just the whites?
The sausage cups are ridiculously easy - pinch off about 3 tablespoons of bulk sausage and press into each cup of a muffin tin.  Although the original recipe used olive oil to grease each muffin cup I thought that step was unnecessary since sausage really is self-greasing.  After the sausage has been pressed into the tin, I crack an egg into each muffin cup.  Generally, when I crack the eggs, there is too much egg for each cup, so I reserve a little of the egg white from each cup.  This works out really well since a couple of my children love egg whites but not the yolks.  With the reserved whites, I fill a few sausage cups with whites only - the children love them!  I fill all of the sausage cups with egg, except for the ones Sir Knight and I plan to eat - those we cook without egg.  We allow the sausage cups to cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, pull the muffin tin from the oven and break eggs into Sir Knight and my sausage cups so that the yolks are a little runny when the cooking is complete.  Cooking the eggs for different lengths of time works perfectly.  The children have eggs cooked through thoroughly and Sir Knight and I have eggs "over-easy".  Paired with toast, these sausage cups are a perfect way to start the day!

Mostly cooked - I add Sir Knight and my eggs now

Add some toast and breakfast is ready!

Bake the sausage cups at 350° (or thereabouts) for 25 to 30 minutes (or until the eggs are done to your satisfaction).

Remember, sausage doesn't have to be pork.  Just about any ground meat mixed with sausage spices will work well.

NOTE:  Our children love to eat these cold - grabbing one on their way out the door to work or to play!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Bishop's Song

Finally!  Joe Nobody's newest Holding Their Own installment is here!  At this point it is available in Kindle format only, however, the print version will follow shortly.

Joe weaves an adventurous yarn full of TEOTWAWKI excitement, carrying the reader on a rollercoaster ride of end of the world thrills.  Sir Knight has been anxiously awaiting Holding Their Own VI: Bishop's Song, since he was laid up with a knee injury and devoured the first 5 books.

If you have a Kindle and have been awaiting Joe's new book, you can click on the link below and satisfy your Bishop and Terri craving.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The One True God

The effects of the new "Affordable Care Act" (aka Obamacare) are being realized by nearly every American citizen.  The fallacy of "if you like your insurance, you can keep it" has been widely exposed as patently false and previously insured families have become the latest victims of an overreaching government bent on proclaiming its godhood.

Although our immediate family has not yet been affected (not yet, being the operative phrase), my parents health care has seen a marked change.  For years, they have scheduled a yearly physical.  They have no major health issues and their physical is merely preventative maintenance.  This year, they called to schedule their physical and were told that under the new Affordable Care Act legislation, they were no longer allowed to have a "physical", however, they could make different appointments, each specifically dealing with one aspect of their previously scheduled yearly physical.  During one appointment, they could discuss any health concerns with their doctor.  During another, completely separate appointment, they could have blood tests performed.  Yet another appointment would be required to address any of their previously discussed health concerns and test results.  Wow!  That makes sense - three appointments where one would have sufficed.

While this may not seem excessive to some of you (although I can't imagine anyone who would think this was a good idea), when you take into consideration that my folks live way out in the boonies and have to travel over 2 1/2 hours, one way, to make a trip to their doctor, legislation like this becomes ridiculous.  Not only did my parents have to make three 5 hour trips, they also learned that their coverage had changed significantly.  They had been deemed too old for numerous routine tests yet they now qualified for STD testing and birth control pills.  What?!

As you may have guessed, I am no fan of Obamacare.  I do not believe that the government has any business melding in our health care.  So why do they?  Because we have forced them.  We have become terrified of death and dying.  We have bowed down to worship at the feet of health and youth.  We no longer rely on God for our every breath.  Having dethroned God, we now believe that the State issues life.  And if the State issues life, then the State must also be responsible for health.

The truth is, that our very existence is a gift from the One True God.  The State has nothing to do with it.  I am not the State's responsibility - I am God's responsibility.  He made me, He cares for me and He sustains me.  He numbered the days of my life before I was born.  He counted the hairs on my head and breathed existence into my being.  As a child of God, I have nothing to fear.

I know that I may fall ill tomorrow.  I know that one of my children may be in a horrific accident.  But when push comes to shove, do I demand redress from the State, for help from an unfeeling bureaucrat?  Or do I appeal to the maker of the universe?

We have forgotten where our life comes from.  In our earnestness to make sure that everyone has equal access to health care - to take from one person and give to another, we have forgotten that we already do have equal access.  Rich or poor, healthy or sick, black or white, we all have the ability to kneel before the throne of God and plead our case.  We have forgotten that health is not our god.  That sickness and death may, in fact, be the very path to the salvation of our souls.  We have forgotten that our soul is by far more important than our body and that suffering can be the cocoon from which the greatest blessings and beauty emerge.

I am in no way advocating deserting prudent health care.  That would be poor stewardship and completely ridiculous.  I am, however, advocating that we become less focused on our "right to accessible health care" and more focused on the author of life.  The State is not our god.  The King of Kings alone bears that title.

The State is but a puny god.  Worship in Truth.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

What I Didn't do Today

Today, I didn't roll out of bed, stumble into the shower and get ready for work while trying to figure out how to get all of the kids fed and properly clothed before sending them into the dark morning to catch the school bus.

Today, I didn't spend 15 minutes at a drive-thru coffee shop waiting for my morning cup of liquid energy just to give me the courage to make my morning commute.

Today, I didn't gossip with the ladies at the front desk or file paperwork for my demanding boss.

Today, I didn't spend my hours at the office feeling guilty that I wasn't home with my children.

Today, I didn't spend my hours at home feeling guilty that I wasn't at the office.

Today, I didn't grab lunch on the run.

Today, I didn't stress about missed deadlines.

Today, I didn't feel overwhelmed and resentful while making dinner for my family.

Today, I didn't eat dinner slouched in front of the television.

Today, I didn't get angry with my husband for asking me to do one more thing.

Today, I didn't go to bed feeling guilty about not spending enough time reading to, talking to or playing with my children.

Today, I didn't have to think of any man other than my husband.


Today, I loved my life.


Why do I love my life?  Because I have freedom.  I have the freedom to live my life for my family, to serve them, nurture them and care for them.  I have the freedom to create a beautiful home, cook wonderful meals and raise future heads-of-state (or at least heads-of-households).

Today, I got to have tea with my husband before he left for work.

Today, I got to cuddle with my children and make breakfast for them.

Today, I got to study the bible.

Today, I got to teach my children how to read, how to count and how to reason.

Today, I got to grind grain and make bread.

Today, I got to steam a pudding for dessert.

Today, I got to put dinner in the oven early, do the dishes, peel potatoes and create an impossibly cozy home for all of my family to gather at days end.

Today, I got to have tea with my husband when he got home from work.

Today, I got to read to my children, pay the bills and trek in the newly fallen snow.

Today, I got visit with my girlfriend as we watched the snow fall gently to the ground.

Today, I got to pray for my daughter's friend, shaken as she faces life's uncertainties.

Today, I got to stretch my feet before a warm fire and sip hot cocoa in the candlelight.


I have the best job in the world.  
Wife.  Mother. Daughter.  Friend.  
I am blessed beyond measure.


When asked if I am just a stay-at-home mom, I smile.  Yes, I am just a stay-at-home mom.  It is what I was created for - the job description was written in my DNA.  It is my job - and I want no other.