Friday, July 22, 2016

Summer Storms: When Your Mother Heart Gets Rained On

   I wanted to share a cheery missive in one of my July posts about how wonderful our summer is going, and I still plan to do just that. However, along with my joys, I also feel called to share my burdens with you. Sometimes I really need to write out those sorrows to find the blessing. Sometimes, you relate, too. 

   My heart was recently broken by finding out that an opportunity I had dreamed of for Little Mister wasn't going to work out. Even worse, I found out the bad news completely by chance. No one even told me. I had spent a delightful day up until that point, and suddenly it was like hearing thunder in the night. The kind where you wake up and realize that all the windows are down on every vehicle and the wash is still on the line. I won't go into the details of it for privacy reasons, but it all left a bitter taste. Is there anything that makes us more nuts than striving to do something for our children and falling short? Seeing them saddened or disappointed by something beyond our control? Yes, there will be great injustices and things we cannot protect them from, but in this instance, I have chosen to trust God, His plans for us, and to focus on all of the wonderful blessings that my child does enjoy and those that still await him. Mothers, we're already doing the most important thing that a child needs, we are BEING THERE. Being present in their lives, holding their hands on nature walks and errands, eating meals together, and saying "I love you". We are round the clock Directors of a ministry where we are counted on every minute of the day, and we can't do it all on our own. God fills the gap. Moment to moment, we may not see it and I know there are times I can't even feel it. It's there when we step back from the canvas and behold the big picture. Then we can see where a Master Artist filled in the spots we missed. 

   There are some immediate blessings that come when our children face disappointment, too. It nurtures our hearts as mothers, makes us more protective. Ultimately, it may free us to find greener pastures for our children. It shows us that we have choices, and freedom, and if something doesn't work out, maybe we can do something else entirely. Although we may stumble, free will is a gift. 

   Although deeply disappointed, I had also remembered another time when I stepped out of my comfort zone a couple years ago in order to make a similar opportunity happen. It didn't take off in the intended direction, and I felt like a bit of a failure. However, when I recently mentioned that same situation from a couple of years ago to my son, he had no recollection of it at all. It was something that had been important to me, but not him. In the big picture, the fact that it went nowhere didn't really matter. 

   Today, I'm finding hope and grace in the big picture.

   In other news, I'm very pleased with how the raised beds are working out. Everything is growing well and there is a lot less weeding to do than ever before. Sometimes a pirate shows up, though. It's a little disarming at first, but you get used to it. 

   We were recently blessed when an overly optimistic neighbor went to the produce auction for cabbage to make sauerkraut and came home with 80 extra heads of cabbage. When his wife got up off the floor from her fainting spell, it was suggested he disperse the excess goods amongst the brethren. I picked out one nice large head of cabbage and made an old favorite called Pepper Cabbage

   For some of my readers, this is very familiar and you've seen it your whole life. 

   It's a pickled cabbage salad made from finely shredded cabbage, a nice addition to meals in the summer, or anytime. We could eat it year round. I've heard it called "Amish Slaw" or variations on that idea and sometimes made with grated onions or celery. I like it simple, and recalled that our Minister's wife once brought a very good Pepper Cabbage to church, so I called her for the recipe. Naturally, she didn't really have one but she gave me basic instructions and I was able to make a perfect recipe that was just as worthy as what you would get from the salad stand at any Dutch market. 

Pepper Cabbage

1 large head of cabbage, grated

1 medium or large red sweet pepper, finely diced
Combine in a large bowl or stock pot.

In a separate bowl combine:

1 cup vinegar
2 cups sugar 
1/2 teaspoon celery seed

Stir until sugar is dissolved, then pour liquid over cabbage mixture. Using a spoon or spatula, work the syrup through the cabbage until the vegetables have been saturated. Allow to stand before serving. This will keep in the refrigerator a long time and also freezes well. This recipe makes about 4-5 quarts. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

When You Meet an Old Friend for the First Time

    The long days have been too busy for words as I strive to soak in the beauty of every blooming day lily, every roadside bucket advertising squash for a quarter, and pick every last plump, juicy raspberry and turn it into smooth pie filling to be canned for another day. A day when the lilies are no more. 

I fill our evenings with Vacation Bible Schools, especially if a church is doing an ocean-themed VBS. Little Mister loves the ocean and I just can't resist. The days are equally busy, and this was written only because The Mister gave me a break and hauled our boy off to the county fair to feed the goats.

Something else exciting happened this week. I got to finally meet someone who I have known and loved for years, but never before had the opportunity to know in person. 

I have lost track of how many people I have come into contact with through my blog, through social media, and in ye olden days when there was time for it, discussion forums. People who I have come to know and go on to actually meet, and they have continued to be genuine, solid friendships that have lasted for years. Honestly, if you are reading this right now, I might have no idea who you are but you are probably halfway to my house for pizza night. So when Hope Anne told me she and her husband would be passing through the field outside my neck of the woods, I said, yes, yes! We will venture out into the field and make this happen! 

When the day came, I pulled on my comfiest skirt, least worn t-shirt free of any summer stains, and my soft, thick summer covering that protects the thinning hair on my scalp from the sun. We three climbed into the car and messaged back and forth with travel updates until we arrived at our meeting place. I was amused that Little Mister promptly fell asleep in the backseat. Wasn't he excited to see my friend? What is with kids these days? Our meeting was as comfy as cotton and as relaxing as a chat on a wraparound porch with a pitcher of lemonade.

Sisters at heart...and some loiterers we might know in the background.

Longtime blog readers may recall that somewhere around five years ago, I was a supporter of helping to bring home Hope's daughter from an orphanage in the Ukraine. We corresponded for years, have had late night phone calls, sent care packages. In fact, I can still picture myself at my old library work desk tapping out a message to her and complaining about feeling ill when she brought me to the realization that I was most likely pregnant. 
Hope Anne went on to be my unofficial long distance midwife during that extremely difficult pregnancy. She unselfishly gave me time and support while her own difficult journey was beginning with a newly adopted daughter who had a litany of medical and behavioral issues. More than once I thanked God for this friend. 

There was also a that concerned a mutual friend that we weren't immediately aware that we had in common. One day in a phone conversation, Hope Anne was talking about a conservative Mennonite publishing company she worked for many years ago. It wasn't the first time she had mentioned it but this time something awakened in my brain and I threw out the name of a local friend who had also worked there as a single (unmarried) lady. It turned out they had shared an office! Hope Anne was excited, "Do you know where she is? I've been looking for her for a few years!" 
"Yes," I told her, and if you were searching on the internet you would be out of luck because she is not allowed on there, but guess what? She lives two miles down the road. Hold on while I connect you.
Then Hope Anne lamented that she had been invited to our friend's wedding so many years ago, but things in her own newly married life were too hectic and she could not attend the ceremony. 
Well, I didn't go to that wedding either because I did not know our friend back then but I did attend their anniversary celebration where she wore her white wedding capedress and served the exact same meal from the wedding. "I ate your meal!" I said gleefully. It was delicious. 

On a side note, I often take pictures that don't make it on to my blog because they might not exactly fit with the content or some such reason. I've recently started using Instagram and you can follow me there if that is your thing.  

The fishermen.


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