The back yard bar-be-cue fun of Memorial Day was changed for me in 2003. That's the year our oldest son, AB, enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. I suddenly realized, on a very personal level, that not only have countless men and women made the ultimate sacrifice in serving our nation, but so had their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, wives, children, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews and close friends.
Our family, and our oldest son, AB, were and are abundantly blessed. AB served our nation within the safety of U.S. borders. However, today, one of our other sons, JP, a U.S. Sailor, is currently deployed outside the comfort and safe boundaries of the United States that we Americans take for granted every day.
For me, personally, not only has Memorial Day become a day of somber remembrance and appreciation, but it has also become a day of prayer. I pray for the peace and comfort of the families our service men and women have left behind to mourn their sacrifice. I pray that our Lord, Jehovah Shalom (The Lord Is Peace), will bring peace to their aching hearts. I pray that our Lord, Jehovah Rapha (The Lord That Heals), will heal the wounds inflicted by this loss. I pray that our Lord, Jehovah Jireh (The Lord Will Provide), will provide for the spiritual and physical needs of these families. I pray our Lord, Jehovah Nissi, (The Lord My Banner), will remind these families that they did not give the ultimate sacrifice in vain.
To the families of those who have sacrificed all while serving us, I not only thank you, I also mourn with you. To the men, women and their family members who are currently serving, I pray for the safe return of you and your loved ones.
Last week definitely looked and felt like spring. The hay fields have turned green. The farmers' spring wheat is coming up. On numerous occasions, we've caught the animals napping in the bright sunshine.
This weekend's rain also brought in cooler temperatures and gusty winds. The temps dropped so significantly on Friday that while the littles and I were removing sod from our garden plot, we actually saw a few snow flurries!
Since this coming week's temperatures are forecasted to be significantly cooler than last week's (down to the mid 50's & lower 60's), I'm planning to prepare plenty of hearty and comforting suppers, but since it is spring time I'm also serving fresh salads as accompaniments.
Sunday - BBQ ribs, grilled corn on the cob, salad (rain day back-up: taco salads)
Monday - oven fried fish fillets, rice pilaf, salad
Tuesday- beef pot pie, salad
Wednesday - French onion soup, buttered bread, salad
Thursday - chicken cacciatore, herbed spaghetti, salad
Friday - homemade pepperoni and sausage pizzas, salad
Saturday - fried rice, egg rolls, egg drop soup
Here's a yummy & easy crock pot dish that we enjoyed yesterday evening. It is perfect for a busy day or a day that's rainy and cold.
Crock Pot Gingered Beef & Carrots
(if desired you may substitute venison, pork or lamb) adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Crockery Cookbook
1 1/4 lb. boneless beef round steak, cut into 1in. cubes
4 medium carrots, bias-sliced into 1/2 in. pieces
1/2 c. bias-sliced green onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 c. water
2 1/4 tsp. beef bullion powder OR 2 beef bullion cubes
1/4 c. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. grated ginger root* OR 1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
3 Tbsp. cold water
1 9 oz. pkg. frozen peas, thawed
1 4 oz. jar pimiento, drained
3 c. hot cooked rice
Place cubed beef, carrots, green onions and garlic in crock pot. In a small bowl combine 1 1/2 water, beef bullion powder, soy sauce, ginger root, and red pepper flakes; add to crock pot. Cover; cook on low setting for 10 - 12 hours OR on high setting for 5 - 6 hours.
If using low heat setting, turn to high heat setting before combining cornstarch and 3 Tbsp. water in a small bowl or jar; stir into meat mixture. Cover and cook on high setting for 20 - 30 minutes or until thickened, stirring once. Stir in peas and pimiento. Serve over rice.
Makes 6 servings; 393 calories per serving
* I store my fresh ginger root in the freezer in a zip lock bag. When needed, I simply take it out remove some of the skin with a potato peeler and grate it while still frozen.
Mr B. and Grandpa, both, have 3 days off this Memorial Day weekend. Lately, it's been a hit or miss having them around to work on larger projects. Realistically, there is only so much the children and I can do on our own. Sometimes I simply lack the resources of knowledge, physical strength and experience for specific projects. Such as building our new hen house and chicken coop or loading an old cast iron 4' tall 3 ' wide forge and other very large iron scraps onto our trailer to haul off to the scrap iron recycle yard. Lately having those two home at the same time has been a real challenge. This one weekend that they are both off work and home, the 1st in several, the weather man has forecasted rain. Thus far, he's right on target.
"When he takes him back up to the highway, he had better drop him at least 10 miles the other side of town because I don't want him put out close enough to walk back and murder my children in the middle of the night." THAT, my dear readers, was the comment I made to Mr. B when Grandpa phoned late Saturday afternoon announcing that he'd picked up a hitch-hiker, who seemed to be a pretty alright fellow, and thought I could feed him a hot meal before being taken back up to the highway. I then proceeded to think, "Well, I guess I won't be making an appearance at our home school library open house this evening. I suppose I'll have to phone Mrs. O and schedule a time to drop that curriculum off."
When Grandpa showed up, I was in the house getting prepared to start supper. I stepped out to call in one of the littles. When I saw the back of this "fellow" leaning near the tailgate of Mr.B's truck, I immediately knew it was my younger brother, ..Bo - I'd know that stance anywhere. It was a pleasant surprise, it's been 5+ years since we'd seen each other - the last time we saw him EJ was so young he doesn't remember ever meeting his Uncle ..Bo.
The littles enjoyed listening their Uncle ..Bo's recounts of our early childhood. (Our parent's divorce caused ..Bo and I to be permanently separated at the ages of 11 & 12.) As I listened, I was astonished at our differing perspectives regarding the relationships we had with our family. Growing up I always thought certain individuals in our family strongly preferred ..Bo AND these folks never made any attempt to disguise that preference. Honestly, their blatant and unapologetic preference burned very deep wounds into my little girl heart. After growing up, having my own family, and committing my life to serving Jesus Christ, I thought that maybe I always judged these certain individuals too harshly. After all, it is possible I was looking at all those memories from the perspective of a wounded little girl's heart - not the objective and rational viewpoint of an adult. For a while, I let myself wallow in guilt for my harsh judgments. I believe guilt is an emotion instilled in us by God that helps lead us toward repentance of our sins. I eventually repented and sought forgiveness from the Lord for my negative judgments of these folks. Since listening to Bo's recounts, I am so very happy that I've repented and allowed the Lord to use the healing balm of forgiveness to sooth the wounds in my heart. Why? Because as I listened to Bo's perspective of our childhood I realized that our family not only preferred Bo BUT they outright DESPISED me. Had I failed to forgive and repent of my harsh judgments and unforgivness, the things I learned from ..Bo's memories would have only further rooted and grown the anger and bitterness I once held in my heart towards these individuals. How unattractive is an angry and bitter woman? How pleasant can one's life be when saddled with an angry and bitter wife or mother?
Luke 6:35-38 - "Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged; condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned; forgive, and ye shall be forgiven."
Ezekiel 18:21-22 - "But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, and he shall not die. All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live."
Matthew 9:13b "...for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
Repenting of my own bitterness, anger and lack of forgiveness has set me free from the bondage certain childhood wounds had caused. Those wounds brought me destruction through very self destructive behaviors. Repentance and forgiveness has brought me life and peace. You see, when we hold on to the hurt, anger, bitterness, resentments, etc. caused by the wounds inflicted upon us by the sins of others, we in turn sin against God. When we allow someone else's sin to control our lives we are in turn allowing their sins to lead us into damnation. My repentance and forgiveness does not excuse the actions of others, BUT it does allow me to leave the past in the past and move forward toward life - a peaceful and abundant life.
Growing up JP was our funniest kid. Lately it seems that EJ is determined to out do his older brother's comedic childhood. Today, while we were in the little city (the one that's only 60 miles from home) returning the rented tiller that didn't work out (see previous post), we decided to stop by a local fast food restaurant. Now that we live so far away form these sorts of things this is a real treat for the kids. After finishing his "meal", EJ asked if he could have some cinnamon twists. I relented, handed him $2 and instructed him to bring me the change. He arrived back at the table with a huge grin and my $2. I inquired, "Did she give them to you for free?"
EJ answered, "Yeah, that lady must think I'm REALLY hot!"
If you ever decided to move from a semi-rural area to a VERY rural area with out challenges, don't be fooled. One really needs to LOVE country living a whole lot more than the conveniences of city or semi-rural living. The past couple weeks seem to have been wrought with challenges. Please bear with me as I lament, BUT don't fret because I will not leave you without a couple upbeat happenings.
1. It all started with a less than favorable report from the doctor. Now, more tests - driving a minimum of 60+ miles one-way, maybe even 200 miles one-way if I have to go to the Big city.
2. The lawn mower, which, by the way, is only 6 months old and has been used less than 5 times, isn't working. With the arrival of spring the grass in our yard is beginning to get quite tall & thick. The upside ... the mower is still under warranty.
3. While Grandpa was helping with the mowing one of our pastures, with what we southerns commonly refer to as a brush hog, (they haven't been mowed or used in nearly a decade) so we can work on our fences, he "bumped" a water spigot breaking a water line. It took me 3+ days to find someone with a backhoe (water lines are buried six feet deep) who was willing to come out here and dig it up for a 5 minute repair.
4. Our two year old microwave has stopped working - not a major crisis, but an inconvenience. We have the extended warranty, BUT the manufacturer can't seem to find anyone who is willing to come all the way out here to repair it. It's beginning to look like we'll have to purchase a new one & the built in one's are of course the most expensive. I do expect the cost of the extended warranty to be refunded.
5. I drove 60+ miles, one-way, to rent a rear-tine tiller so I could break up our vegetable garden area. The ground is SOOOO hard the tiller won't even begin to do the job. It looks like we'll need to purchase a plow AND I need to have everything planted by the 1st part of June, otherwise we'll run out of growing season up here.
However, I did promise to end on a positive note, here we go:
Our mama cat, Spook (we call her this because she is totally black and has super green eyes - just like a Halloween cat), and her new kitten. She has finally decided to introduce him to the outside world and us. Isn't he adorable? OG and EJ have named him Willow. He looks a whole lot like Smudge did when he was a young kitten, don't ya think? I personally find it kind of weird that, so far, our dog and cats are either totally black or black and white paints.
Despite the broken water line situation, Mr. B has finally been able to get a start on mowing the pastures. He's made quite a bit of progress since the taking of this photo. Our plan is that by mowing and fertilizing the pastures for a couple seasons we will eventually have some nice summer grass for a couple horses and maybe ... a cow. We will also be able to do some fence work, which is required, to keep the horses and other livestock within the boundaries of our property.
Thanks for bearing with my lamenting and I hope the positives, no matter how small they may seem, encourages you to also find the upside of any downs you and your family may also be experiencing.