So Many Changes in a Week

IMG_5525 2What a difference a week can make!  Last week at this time we were watching flood waters rise, snow melt at an alarming rate and pumping water away from the house. This morning we sat on the deck in the sunshine and enjoyed the warmth immensely.

Our river is making it’s way back into the banks where it should be, ice bergs are turning dirty and look lonely in the middle of fields. The ice jam on the river has made it’s way downstream and I have a tulip blooming in a pot.

I am reminded of the fact that downstream all is not well and won’t be for a very long time. Nebraska is suffering greatly. Ranchers have lost herds, ground and are overwhelmed. Entire towns have been submerged with ice floes inside buildings where people used to gather. Wells have been compromised so water restrictions are in place in many locations.

Someone was questioning on Facebook how come there were no stories of looting going on in these locations. I have done some thinking about that question; because it is a good one.

I think one of the biggest reasons is that these are real communities. People know who lives next door. They know the guy they buy their groceries from and more than likely know the family of the checker in the grocery line.

People in rural communities are neighbors. They worship together…maybe not at the same church or in the same denomination but they worship together. These people sit side by side and watch their children play at sporting events…many times against each other at these sporting events.

These people in the heartland have worked hard for their place in life and they respect each other and hold each other accountable. It would be hard to steal from someone you have prayed with, laughed with, cried with and know.

These people have that old-fashioned sense of community with a strong emphasis on unity. They don’t always agree….often don’t agree….. but get along anyway. It is family and family has your back.

These Nebraska towns are what American used to be all over this country. They are the best of us and don’t let you off the hook when you have acted your worst. They say it like it is and you know they tell you things because they care. It is honesty….it is integrity….it is unity.

I am in awe of these Midwesterners and hope I can be counted among them. They are a lot to live up to. My mind wanders to how can we help people who are used to giving instead of taking? I am going to try post some links below of places that can be contacted.

HOW TO HELP

Orphan Grain Train, Inc

In NW IA there will be a trailer parked at Livestock Manufacturing and Equipment at the corner of Hwy 18 & 75, (west of Hull, IA) starting Saturday where you can bring supplies such as: Milk Replace, Fencing needs, bottled water, cleaning supplies and so on.

Fremont, NE has been putting out lists of places to go to volunteer and list of supplies needed by communities and individuals.

The Red Cross and Salvation Army are also great places to find out what is needed by way of supplies and/or volunteers. I have a feeling they will be needing things for a long while.

I am trying to also post a video someone made of the damage in Nebraska this past week. I hope it works!  I am not confident in that but we will see.

The lesson I am learning from this past week is that it is good to have neighbors you know. It is good to be that neighbor. It is a blessing to have someone’s back and they have yours.

I have learned quiet people are often underrated. Their courage isn’t noisy…it isn’t loud. Their integrity is the kind that often needs a second look….but when you really see that person…you see someone you want for your neighbor.

Our prayers are with you Nebraska. Our help is on the way and your courage in this devastation will be the quiet roar that shows a nation what America was and still is.

Courage doesn’t always roar,
sometimes it’s the quiet voice at the end of the day whispering
I will try again tomorrow.

Mary Anne Radmacher

Sorting The Bits and Pieces

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I peered into my craft/laundry room today (mainly because I needed to wash some clothing) and decided I needed to start cleaning. This room has been sadly neglected the last while and the craft side was overrun with stuff.

It was hard to know where to start because there was just so much stuff! I decided to try find my counter back….I knew this project was going to take more than one day…..and I was right.

My paper stash was overflowing and that seemed like a great place to start. I had been in the habit of saving every little scrap of card stock because I just might need that small scrap for a card or project.

Today was the day to get a bit vicious with that paper stash. I took my basket and sorted by color and finally got it under control. I decided the small bits and pieces were going to go into a box for future crafts with the grandkids. My grandson seems to enjoy creating things and it might be fun seeing what he will create with that box of stuff.

That box of card stock with it’s bits and pieces and so much color just screams of potential. It is so much like the start of a new day….you just have no idea what the day will turn out to be anymore than I know what wonders will come out of that box.

I love the idea that there is potential…even in those scraps. I love the thought that the “scraps” of our lives can be used to make something beautiful and unique. That box of paper reminds me that we are indeed masterpieces in the making.

May this weekend find you putting together the “scraps” of your life. May those bits and pieces turn into a thing of beauty and blessing. We may not see how those bits can turn into something amazing…but I am assured that they can.

 

In crafting
there are no mistakes….
just unique creations.
Unknown

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD
Jeremiah 29:11a
New International Version

 

Cold Days and Warm Food

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This past weekend our weather has changed.  I am not totally sure it was for the better! There were winter storm advisories but that kind of bombed out for us and I was good with only getting a small amount of snow.

The weather guys were right on their prediction of  cold temperatures. Sunday saw us in the sub zero range with a wicked wind chill to go with it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look to change any time soon. (This always makes my husband wonder why our ancestors settled here!)20190121_112554.jpg

Today just seemed to be the kind of day where a good pot of chili soup needed to be simmering on the stove. The only problem with that is my husband is not in favor of chili soup.

Chili soup was kind of out of the question for him for a meal; so I also went with one of his favorite cold weather foods…..Balken Brei. I made him a loaf pan of it last week when I heard the weather was going to nose-dive temperature wise.

I am NOT a fan of Balken Brei but I do like how it smells. For those of you who have no idea what this “delicacy” is I will try explain. When you render the lard from a pig you end up with these crunchy little bits called cracklings.

You take those cracklings and fry them out till they are a crisp golden brown and kind of dry.  At this stage you can go ahead and make Balken Brei or you can freeze your cracklings till ready to use.

For the brave among you I am going to give you the recipe so you can try this Dutch treat for yourself.

Balken Brei
1 Pound Cracklings
Water
Salt and Pepper to taste
White Flour
Allspice to taste

Put the cracklings in a sauce pan.
Cover, till just covered, with water.
Add about 1 tsp. sald and 1/2 tsp pepper.
Bring to a boil then let simmer till most of the water has been absorbed by the cracklings.
Remove from heat and add flour. You will keep adding flour
till the mixture is very stiff and hard to stir.
Add Allspice to taste…start with about 5 teaspoons.
You may have to use your hands to mix at this point.
Put mixture in loaf pan lined with wax paper and press in firmly.
Cover and put in fridge to cool.
Once it is cool and firm you can slice into thin slices.

To prepare:
Cut into thing slices and fry in pan in melted butter.
Fry till golden crisp.
Serve with syrup.
My husbands favorite is Dark Karo syrup.

Some people use buckwheat flour. Some people add other meat to this recipe. My husband prefers the basic one so that is what I go with. It think he likes it this way because that is what he grew up with.

I am pretty sure this is NOT a heart healthy recipe. For years my sons have called this “fried fat”. I am also not sure what cracklings really are! If they were fat they would have melted? If anyone knows please let me know.

Being of Dutch background, I often wonder if our Dutch ancestors were just so tight thrifty that they did not let anything go to waste…not even cracklings! I also wonder if there is any other use for them….other than feeding the girls…..

And now…..I really want to know….what is your favorite cold weather food? When those temps dip close to zero and the snow flies (assuming you live where this happens) What is your go to food for comfort? If you have a favorite recipe please feel free to leave it in the comments or link to it if you have already posted it on your blog.

Have a great week doing things for those you love…..and if you live where it is cold….stay warm and make a family favorite!

Cooking is like love
It should be entered into with abandon
or not at all
Harriet Van Horne

 

Time

James 4 14

I cannot believe how quickly time passes. My goal after getting sick was to at least put out one blog post per week. Needless to say I have failed that goal. Strangely….I find I can live with that!

I also cannot believe 2019 is already here. It seems like just yesterday various women family members and I were planning a cruise…that is already almost a year ago. It is hard to imagine all the things that have happened between that planning time and this new year.

We have had the normal ups and downs and then a few abnormal ups and downs. Spring saw the normal planting of fields and then the abnormal flooding that had the river so high that we saw fish swimming over the black top road south of us.

Summer saw us preparing for my son’s wedding and enjoying that. Late summer also saw me having a stay in the hospital which started my journey of recovering from the West Nile Virus. (That is still an ongoing process but I am very much improved!)

Fall saw some more flooding but it didn’t seem as dire as the spring flooding because when the water only kills the weeds that grew from the first flooding it is okay. The upside of the weeds…. we see more pheasants that we have seen in a while.

Winter, so far, appears to be normal. We have had nice days and now we have sub-zero temps at times. I do favor the nice days!

This holiday season we had the great fun of going to grandparents day at our grandchildren’s school and watching them in school and church Christmas programs. What a blessing that was.

This year we celebrated our third grandchild’s first birthday…another wonderful blessing. We gathered, as family, for various things throughout the year and finally this past Saturday I had my entire family under my roof for our Christmas celebration.

It has been an entire year since I had them all under my roof at the same time. It did this mom’s heart a great deal of good to see them all together. I am not sure, but I think God put that longing into a mother’s heart and when it actually happens it waters the soul.

Someone asked what my goal or resolution for the next year was. I know my goal after September was to write a post per week. I have since changed that goal to finding a gratitude moment in every day. I am not sure which goal is the most difficult…but I do know that finding gratitude moments, big or small, will be a blessing in ways I can only imagine.

I pray your 2018 was fulfilling. I pray your 2019 will be even more of a blessing. I have discovered this past year, that neither wealth or health is the key to this fulfillment  or blessing…but being grateful for the big and small things in daily life is that key. May you have gratitude moments in the days of 2019.

“Write it on your heart that everyday is the best day of the year.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Christmas Ornaments

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There is something special about Christmas ornaments. We even heard about Christmas ornaments during the children’s sermon at church this morning. The couple doing the Children’s sermon asked the kids if any of them had angels on their Christmas tree.

A few of the kids raised their hands, some did not. They then went on to explain why angels are on Christmas trees. They explained that angels brought great news of joy that long ago night.20181223_160618.jpg

My husband leaned over with a smirk, and whispered in my ear that our tree had a spaceship ornament…..and he is right. I have no idea if it really is a spaceship. It just kind of resembles something off the movie “Men in Black”. It is an ornament from my husband’s childhood and always finds a place on our tree.

I often wonder if my husband loves that ornament because of childhood memories or if he just thinks it looks kind of funky….maybe it is a bit of both. I love that ornament because it speaks of my husband’s childhood. It is a link to his family history. I also love the fact that it is plastic and therefore durable enough for grandkids to handle!

Strangely…or maybe not so strange that “funky” ornament brings to mind the story of Christmas for me. Maybe it is because it comes back to family. Our family history becomes entwined with the history of that night in a stable.

I think Christmas speaks of beginnings and babies are definitely a new beginning. It speaks of the fact that over 2000 years ago Mary and Joseph became the earthly family of Jesus….Immanuel…God with us. It speaks of promises kept from the beginning of creation. It speaks of faithfulness and the fact that He always provides.

Which brings me back to angels…..all those little kids this morning knew that the angels told of a wonderful thing on that first Christmas. Their faith was confident and sure. May we have the confidence of a child that angels indeed brought the greatest news ever. May we find joy in looking at our ornaments, whether angels or spaceships, and may those ornaments remind us of the reason for this Christmas joy.

“Late on a sleepy, star-spangled night,
those angels peeled back the sky just like you would tear open a sparkling Christmas present.
Then, with light and joy pouring out of heaven like water through a broken dam, they began to shout and sing the message that baby Jesus had been born.
The world had a savior!
The angels called it ‘Good News,’
and it was.”

—Larry Libby

“Lo” is Good

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My husband always finds it funny that we spend hours baking and preparing treats for the holidays. We spend time eating all those sweet treats…usually to excess. Then suddenly it is January and we are all worried about the holiday pounds that have appeared out of nowhere….(well maybe out of our fridge and into our mouth).

Today I figured I would check out the scale so that I might either be impressed to keep it off or depressed to take some weight off. (Like that is going to happen these next few weeks!!)

When I stepped on the scale I was pleasantly surprised. The only thing it told me was “Lo”. I have decided this scale is a wonderful scale. I did go purchase new batteries for it, but part of me really wants to just leave the old ones in till after the holidays have come and gone.

You have no idea how good it is for your esteem to find your scale telling you your weight is “Lo”. At least I thought it was great.

This past weekend we attended grandparents’ day at my grandson’s school. As we were standing in line with my grandson I overheard the best conversation ever. Two fellow first graders were looking at a drawing one of them had done. The drawing resembled and apple with a head; and a couple sticks coming out of it. The conversation kind of went as follows:

1st boy: “What is that?”
2nd boy: “My grandma.”
1st boy: “hahahahaha…..your grandma?”
2nd boy: “Yea….she’s fat.”  (this was said very matter of factly)

I love that little boy. It did not seem to matter to him if his grandma resembled an apple. It was a great reminder that children see with eyes of love and that is a great lesson for us all.

That child looked deeper than his grandma’s shape. He looked at the love they shared for each other and the beauty of that love.

That being said……I really don’t want my grandson drawing me as an apple shape!  I think it is time to go put those batteries in that scale…..

I’m in shape….
round is a shape.
Unknown

My favorite exercise
is a cross between a lunge and a crunch….
I call it lunch.

Anonymous

 

 

Joy

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Last weekend we had a good taste of winter.  It was the type of weather that had schools getting out early, canceled events, canceled church services and late starts for schools on Monday.

I used to be a fan of that type of weather but that was a long……very long time ago. It was, however, good weather to finally motivate me to put up the Christmas tree and the ornaments. There is something about the wind howling, the snow flying by the window and the fire warmly burning in the woodstove that energizes me to decorate for the holidays.

There is a joy to this season. There is a joy in bringing out the familiar decorations and placing them about the house. So many memories are wrapped up in those decorations. Some are from when our parents were young and they have now ended up on our tree.

Those special ornaments have a way of ending up way near the top of the tree. I figure that way they are safe from the hands of small grandchildren. I am hoping that someday my grandkids will help me decorate the tree. I think that would be a very memorable experience!

I enjoy the decorating; but the joy of this season runs so much deeper than the surface stuff. I love the promise of this season that was given two thousand years ago. I love the fact that, that promise never changes. The Hope that was born at that time has never failed me yet and I trust He never will.

I pray that same joy and hope for all of you. I pray that while you prepare for this season there is a real deep river of joy that runs through your life. There are struggles that will come and go but the promise remains constant.

If this season finds you in the middle of a storm….the wind howling and trouble all around, may you find peace…..may you be blessed and may joy find you.

“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.”
Hamilton Wright Mabie