I found this article by a friend on a remote and challenging mission field (to an unreached tribe) very worthwhile reading, and thought it might be an encouragement to some others here:

Motherhood is Ministry


We are to confess our faults to one another and to pray for one another. So I think I ought to confess that for several years now my home filing system has been composed of an inappropriately sized moving box, a few manila envelopes leftover from things that had been mailed to me, white envelopes of the same basic size from different mailings, dilapidated and unlabeled folders which have somehow fallen into my hands, small envelopes which seemed like the perfect place to tuck spare things in, a few plastic file carriers of different colors which seem too pretty to use, a 31 day organiser the pockets of which contain all sorts of interesting papers, an useful clear plastic folder from the Red Cross and so on.

The result is that most of the papers which ought to be neatly and regularly filed wind up strewn about me on the floor every couple months while I try to figure out what belongs where and how to group it all accordingly, under the great mental and emotional strain that it necessarily involves for certain personality types to sit on a floor surrounded by papers.

And so I am a very bad secretary; useless in a secretarial crisis. The vital receipts are likely to be found, or simply lost, anywhere.  I practice Avoidance when it comes to needing to look for them.  And this is very, very bad.

I feel that if I only had file folders and labels and markers and a magic box I could unleash the awesome and mighty filing force within. Terrible and unconstrainable would be my filing deeds. But then I pause to remember that once before at a temp job, having unfettered access to these powerful implements and a whole wall of business files, I found my inner filing freak; and it was shortly thereafter that things began to go badly betwixt myself and the office admin . . .

I truly do feel a bit despairing about this aspect of my nature, among those other aspects which do not recognise the knife sharpener on a knife block, make rice automatically when daydreaming about something else in the kitchen, and so on. I must find a way to be more practical. I must.

I Resolve to Be A Better Practical Person, At Once. And I am willing to smite the back of my own hand with the clam prodder (ie, knife sharpener) if I do not shape up immediately.

Our own dear Lauren’s book, Good Housekeeping for the Chronically Fagged, has appeared in kindle edition! Lauren has a number of painful, often prostrating, very demanding, illnesses and is both an excellent housekeeper and writer, so she is well qualified to take on such a book: this expert guide is well worth the token amount she is charging for it! I am quite excited about delving into the first chapter: ‘a house is not a home without a routine’ (something I have long thought to be true, but Lauren often puts things into words for me), which starts off with an acknowledgement of that first insurmountable thing one comes up against in chronic illness: that our strength is so erratic we simply cannot keep to a steady pace.

Yours truly has contributed a smallish essay to this book. What could I possibly contribute to a book on housekeeping you might wonder, especially one already authored by Lauren? I wondered the same and said as much :-). What more I said is protected by copyright! I cannot reveal it to you here! You must buy the book!

Congratulations, L!  You will notice, by the way, if you visit Lauren’s ‘author‘ page on Amazon that she has also burst upon the astonished sight of the world a most fanciful book of poetry about cats (also very enjoyably priced), which is just the sort of thing Lauren would do, just when the world was least expecting it.

I saw this recipe last year on a forum and tried it. They were easy to make and were delicious too!
In top of double boiler melt together:

2/3 c. of sweetened condensed milk (Eagle Brand)
1 1/3 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

Mix together until well blended then refrigerate for several hours. Roll into balls.

Melt 2/3 cups semi sweet chips and 2 tsps oil in top of double boiler until chocolate is melted. Use spoon to roll each piece in the melted chocolate until covered. I used the remaining chocolate to drip over the tops of the candy. Let the chocolate dry and enjoy!

Homeschooling is always full of surprises. This morning after breakfast, the kids had a little bit of free time before lessons, while they were waiting for me to finish something I was doing on the computer. While most of the kids were playing with the baby or dragging out every blanket in the house, Andrew, our oldest at age 11, decided to write some poetry.

I was quite surprised, since I never taught him to write poetry. In fact, we don’t really do any type of formal grammar lessons at all, except for the little bit that is included in his Latin lessons; we instead focus mainly on reading good literature, both aloud and each child on their own. We do plan to get to the more formal grammar lessons someday, lest you should think that I just don’t care about grammar at all, but, with several children to teach I have chosen to put off some of the more detailed lessons until more of the children are old enough to grasp them.

I was even more surprised after I read the poem. I thought that it was fairly good for a first venture. So, for anyone who is interested, here are the verses.

The Apple and the Blueberry
by Andrew H. Meng

How do you do Mr. Blueberry, Mr. Blueberry
How do you do in these days?
How do you do when the fruit grows ripe and
the harvest is near?
How do you do when the river is clear and
the garden is fair?

I do very well Mr. Apple, Mr. Apple
I do very well in these days.
I do very well when the fruit grows ripe and
the harvest is near.
I do very well when the river is clear and
the garden is fair.

He was definitely paying attention when we read all of those nursery rhymes when he was little.

There was a man standing on the corner of the street last week with a sign that said, ‘God loves you.’ — I am sure it is theologically incorrect in some way, but I was so glad for the reminder. Afterward, I sat in the Kroger parking lot listening to Kathleen Battle sing ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ on my cellphone, while the sky turned every imaginable shade of sunset color. Ruben drove me around in the car for a long time that evening, chasing the dying light.

The next day, I wrote a dear friend about how someday those rainbow colors would never die: I would see them forever in the heaven of seeing my Saviour. She wrote me back about how her children had saved all their money to give their pastor a special present, and how the joy on his face was one of those small things that make it worthwhile to be here, while we are.

I found out that another dear friend passed away this week. I have not known many losses in my life; and this one has been particularly painful. For I keep thinking of how many opportunities I lost to make those small gestures of love which are like a sign that says ‘God loves you’. This friend was especially thoughtful about those gestures. He doesn’t need such a sign now; but it would have been a comfort to me to have stood on one of the corners of his life, holding it more often. For that is one of the comforts we have while we are here.

In the face of death we know more than at other times how harsh life can be. My friend of the special pastoral present says that we wrap ourselves up in love, like a blanket. Some days our calling seems very inconsequential. Our calling is only washing dishes, dusting, clearing clutter, making beds – dealing with sick children, running load after load of laundry, making 99 trips to the grocery store. But we are weaving a blanket with all these things to wrap around our loved ones: a blanket they will always be able to hug tighter around themselves the colder it grows. We are standing on a corner of their life they will always remember, holding a sign that says ‘God loves you’. We are making a rainbow for them out of the light of an earthly hour, so that even though this is only Kansas, they will know a little bit of what it is like to go home.

One thing have I desired, my God, of Thee:
That will I seek: Thine house be home to me.

(Amy Carmichael)

This is not really a post for playing ‘catch up’, and I’ve stayed in touch with most of you anyway. Susan and I still send each other quotes about our eternal home: I sent her the above recently. I expected that I would find ‘home’ again — that glimmering reflection of it, like light from a candle house cast up on the walls — waiting for me quite naturally here in this lovely home in Indiana: for the house simply stood here and was a real home the first time I walked in. But since moving in there has been one thing after another — one of those things being my approach to homemaking itself — preventing any sort of settledness; and as usual, I’ve not been very well; and somehow like Gollum’s ‘precious’, my idea of ‘home’ is always slipping through my fingers. I was able to do some things like laundry and dishes on our anniversary that I hadn’t done in quite some time; and Ruben told me what a comfort it was to him have me standing at the stove cooking his dinner, with laundry running in another room, again. I remember that sort of comfort — coming into the house and hearing my mom up in the kitchen when I was little, after she had been sick for a few months; and it was odd to realise that anyone finds that adjustment of the world into its rightful place in my movements.

Recently, watching the light cast the few remaining shadow leaves over patches of color and texture around this kitchen, I remembered that comfort of my childhood in my mother’s routines again. And I realised, returning back over my memories of a number of places, that a place feels like home to me not because the walls themselves become so familiar, or because I have hung up familiar things on them; but because of the familiar movements of light I have often traced on the walls. I can try to create ‘home’ out of my own raw materials — things I have managed to hang onto from previous places, a certain regularity of motion, the ephemeral scents or sounds of cooking or running laundry — but ‘home’ is the little, hourly ‘place of our own’ in the abiding love of another. And it is the Lord’s movements in my kitchen, the faithfulness of His daily routines, that gives me that comfort now.

It was poignant and precious to realise that though I may never leave behind anything substantial to mark my pilgrimage on the earth, while I am here, my own routines are in a small way that sort of ‘home’ for someone I love. That seems — in a world torn by wars and rumors of wars, and earthquakes, and diseases, and divorces, and upheavals and distresses and uncertainties of all sorts — worth being.

Here’s our favorite recipe for brownies. It’s a recipe I came up with by using substitutions. The original recipe used baking chocolate and butter. One time I ran out of baking chocolate so substituted cocoa. Another time I substituted some Crisco in place of part of the butter. It turned out well so I still make it that way. A lot of people have asked me for my recipe. I’ll try to post a picture the next time I make it. Enjoy!

Mix together the dry ingredients:
3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder

In small bowl beat together:
4 eggs and set aside

In a large mixing bowl add:
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 1/2 tsp water
9 TBSP + 1 tsp melted Crisco (over medium heat, watching closely) 150 ml mark in measuring cup
1/3 cup melted butter (5 1/3 Tablespoons)
nuts if desired

Melt Crisco and butter. Blend the melted Crisco and butter with the sugar, vanilla and water.
Cool enough to add the eggs and blend well. Mix in the dry ingredients. Because of the Crisco, it will become stiffer as it cools so try to stir in the dry ingredients quickly. If it gets too stiff to stir, you can put it in a warm oven for a few minutes then stir. Spoon into a greased glass 14″ X 9″ pan. Sprinkle top with broken nuts before baking, if desired.

Bake at 325 degrees for 30-35 mins or till toothpick comes out clean. Brownies will rise then fall
when done.

Happy New Year everyone!
I read this article recently and wanted to share it with you. It was written by Pastor Ken Pierce who used to be my mother-in-law’s pastor before he relocated to Mississippi. It’s about yearning for our eternal home.
The Quiet Protest Blog

Our older hens spent last month molting so we’ve had to buy eggs for awhile. They’ve finished molting now but because of the cold weather we’ve still had to buy eggs. One of our Rhode Island Red pullets has started laying every other day, and sometimes every day. Then about a week ago, one of our older New Hampshire hens started laying again so we’ve been getting an extra large egg every other day and sometimes every day too.

It’s been bitter cold here and the chickens hate the cold. They don’t like to get their feet in the snow so they usually spend all day hanging out in the chicken house. They always have layer pellets available. My husband has been taking them hot water which freezes in a short time. In the evenings before they go up for the night, they get some chicken scratch for a treat. They rewarded us with two eggs again today. I hope they will give me enough for all my Christmas baking.

August 2019
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