mom + strawberries+ me = jam

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Yesterday, at 3:45 P.M. my Mum texted, “no strawberries.” What a bummer! We had been planning all week to make strawberry jam, so this was a bit of hindrance to our plans.  Strawberries, are truly a big part of making strawberry jam.  So, our redirected plan was to try for early next week, maybe Monday.

At 5:20 Mum called to say – there were berries after all! She and dad would be over shortly with 8 quarts of fresh-from-the-field Tidwell’s berries.     We were on!

JAM!

With the event of my parents moving to Chattanooga recently, Mum and I keep recognizing all the things we’ve never done together as adults.  And so far we seem to be good partners in crime.

The jam-making was lots of fun – and sticky – and almost a huge disaster.  We got into a bit of a jam, while making our jam.  We had lids pop off of two of our jars while they were processing in a pot of boiling water.  We almost had a hot, sticky mess on our hands!  But, mom, after 30 years working as a surgical nurse in the operating room, thinks faster on her feet than anyone I know,  and we managed to take care of things efficiently and quickly.

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You know, there are many times I go it alone.  I’m independent, quite a bit hard-headed – and I strike out to accomplish projects without help.  But, I don’t believe that is how God made us to really function.  He made us for relationship,  with Him, and then with others.  In the small things, and in the big things – Life is better in community!

I keep thinking of this Scripture from Ecclesiastes 4:

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!

Jam-making in my kitchen is the perfect example – My prior jam making skills, and my mom’s quick thinking added together is what made our adventure a satisfying success!  Loving one another and encouraging one another thru all of life’s jams is a big part of life in Christ!  Here’s to many more jams with you, Mum!DSC_0439

being a mom

 

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Last weekend was Mother’s Day.

I don’t really remember the Mother’s Days we celebrated over the course of my childhood. I’m guessing, but, that’s probably because I was a pastor’s kid – and Sundays were always so busy, so… there wasn’t time to make a big deal over the Hallmark Holiday.

With that history, why is Mother’s Day so hard for me?   Some years my little family celebrates more than others. True confession:  I always end up ruining it.  I get my panties in a twist, and it gets ugly if things don’t turn out how I’ve dreamed.

Why do I need so much approval and recognition?  Why do I wrap up all my worth as a mother, in that one day?

Why? Because I’m a sinner, that’s why.  I’m complicated and ridiculous.  And, well, being a mom is hard.  No one told me how hard it was back before I became a mother.  Or maybe I wasn’t listening.  Regardless,  I had no idea just how needy and selfish I was, until I was a parent.  It was then that my heart was totally exposed.  And that, is HARD.

But, God is at work.  Yes, I struggle, but by His grace, He is making me into the woman, wife and mother that he wants me to be.   More and more I am able to find my worth in Him, as His daughter.  I’m letting go of my need for others’ approval.  He is helping to love my children, more deeply and genuinely than I ever imagined possible, with a love that He has put in my heart.    Thankfully,  He’s given me children who love me and forgive me.  Believe me, they have to offer forgiveness to me A LOT!

I’m reminded of a little song I’ve been singing with my children this spring, from Ephesians 2:10″For we are God’s masterpiece, He has created us new in Christ.  So we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.”

What a beautiful reminder:  I am His masterpiece. He is continuing the good work in me, so that I can do all of the good things He planned for me, before the beginning of time.   I’m so grateful to see His promise come alive in my own heart.   

These are my lovely children, from this year’s Mother’s Day.    I love them so. Even on the hard days, they make being a mom wonderful!

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a beautiful, delicious marriage…

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Friends.  Today, I went out on a limb.   There’s a church picnic tomorrow and I’d committed to bringing a dessert.  Unfortunately, no matter where I looked, on websites, in my cookbooks, in my recipe box, I couldn’t find a thing I wanted to make.  Not even in my May edition of Southern Living.  What a travesty!

After all that searching, I found myself in the mood to create something new.  I got to thinking about the holidays and remembered two of my baked goods that were favorites this year : a chocolate pecan bourbon pie and my coconut rum cake.    I decided to marry the two, and this is what came out!

a chocolate coconut rum cake.

I actually made two cakes.  One to taste and be sure it was yummy.  Another to take to the picnic.  I couldn’t take something to the picnic not knowing if it was good, could I?  And, I couldn’t take a half-eaten bundt cake!

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Here’s the recipe.  It is rich.  decadent.  delicious.  The rum glaze enriches the deep chocolate with a buttery, caramel flavor.  Definitely yummy! -the calories are worth every bite!

Cake:

  • 1/2 cup coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
  • 1  18 ounce box devil’s food cake mix
  • 3.4 ounces (4-serving size) chocolate pudding mix
  • Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips (maybe a half cup?)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup cold milk
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup Coconut Rum

Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup Dark Rum

Instructions:

Cake: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour 12-cup Bundt pan. Sprinkle coconut on bottom of pan. Combine all cake ingredients (except chocolate chips). Beat for 2 minutes on high with electric mixer. Mix in chocolate chips. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour. Cool in pan for 15 minutes. Make glaze while the cake begins cooling.  Prick bottom of cake (still in pan) with wooden skewer. Drizzle 1/2 of glaze over holes in bottom of cake. Let sit for 40 minutes.  Invert cake onto cake plate and poke holes in the top with wooden skewer.  Poor or brush remaining glaze over top.  I made extra glaze (with a little less water) to drizzle on the cake  just before serving.  Next time I would omit it.  The cake has more than enough flavour without it. *** dark rum can taste a little spicy and strong, depending on what brand you use.  You could use coconut rum in its place.***
Glaze: Melt butter in saucepan. Stir in water and sugar. Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in rum. Note: The rum will cause steam. Be careful not to burn yourself.
suggestion:  The longer you let the cake marinate in that rum sauce, the more those rum and chocolate flavors combine and the better it tastes.  If you can wait, let it sit for 24 hours before serving.   
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You are Mine

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I stood next to the keyboard in complete disbelief, – unsure of my next move.  In just an hour, maybe less – the women of North Shore Fellowship would arrive for the weekend.  We were spending two days of fellowship together at Camp Vesper Point.

And I, I was supposed to lead worship.

Except the keyboard I brought had a problem.  I could not get the sustain pedal to work – and the more I tried to manipulate that pedal, while still singing and playing, the worse things sounded.

oh.  no.

I was a sweaty nervous mess.

Well, the ladies arrived, dinner was finished in the dining hall and everyone gathered in the great room for a time of worship and teaching.   I took a deep breath and plunged in – and it went so-so.  I mean, it was not so good.  No one seemed to notice too much though, so we sang, and I sat down to hear the good news of God’s Word.

Our key verse for the weekend was Isaiah 43:1:

But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
 he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
  I have called you by name, you are mine.”

As I heard these words, I thought to myself, “Lord, if you know me by name, and you claim me as Yours, surely you know I need help with this crazy pedal!”  I didn’t think much more about it and went on with the evening!  There were plenty of fun activities to distract me, thank goodness.

Snuggled up in my sleeping bag later that night, disappointment crept in; I wanted the weekend to be smooth and without difficulty – and more, I had hoped it would be a special time of worship for everyone!  I prayed for the Lord to help me play better, or give me wisdom to fix it!

The next morning, I went in to the room where we would soon gather and I turned on the keyboard. For some reason, I decided to select a new “setting” so that maybe the keyboard would sound a little different.   I took a deep breath. And do you know? When I started playing, the pedal worked. I have no idea why – it just did!  As I played the song I was going to lead in just a few minutes, my heart began to swell with it’s truth.

He knows my name.  He knows my every thought.  He sees each tear that falls, and hears me when I call.

He knew all about my situation.  He heard my prayer – and He helped me!  The very song He had led me to choose to sing with the ladies, He knew I was the one who needed to hear it the most!   What an amazing example of His faithfulness to me!    I was so grateful that He chose to rescue me – and bless us with a wonderful time of worship that morning!

What a beautiful promise He proved true to me:  I am His!

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clean up as you go

Saturday was a full day in my kitchen.  In my calendar, the day was free of appointments or commitments- so I was quite carefree!  I made plans to get my shopping done and get lots of food preparation done for the coming week.  There were  loaves of bread, muffins, and brownies to bake; soup to be made as well as hard boil some eggs; and there was fruit and veggie prep for easy snacking access.

When I got home from the store, and everything was unloaded and put away – I started with the bread dough.  As things were moving along in my kitchen, I found myself at the sink washing the same few utensils and bowls over and over again- in the middle and at the end of projects.   It is how things have always been done in my kitchen, my mom’s kitchen and my grandmother’s kitchen.

You clean up as you go.

Not long ago my cousin, Ang, and I created a Brubacher family cookbook full of recipes from our family.  But, it also included pearls of wisdom from my Grandma’s kitchen.  And do you know what was the first thought she shared with us?  Clean up the kitchen as you work.  Don’t leave a big mess for the end.  I think my mom and my aunts will all vouch for her.  This is how my Grandma has always operated.  It is good advice.

Its not just good kitchen advice.

When life really gets cooking, there are things that I tend to neglect.  And before I know it, I’m full of junk.  Let me be more specific – sin- I let sin pile up like a big load of nasty, dirty, sour-smelling dishes.   I can feel the weight of it, hanging heavy on my heart.  The more build-up, the more daunting it is.    It is so much better to keep a short account of my heart – to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to help me notice the sin, to acknowledge it and to confess it.   My Heavenly Father promises to forgive.

I love how the Psalmist describes it in chapter 32:

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
    whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
    and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
    through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
    my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah

I acknowledged my sin to you,

    and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
    and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

I’m grateful to a Heavenly Father who has provided the only way for my heart to be made new.  There is forgiveness in His hands and He is prepared to make me clean, if I’ll only ask.  What a refreshing promise!

And thank you Grandma for being a godly woman of wisdom, not just in kitchen matters, but matters of the heart!

 

the long journey to patience

James 1: 4&5 : But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

Last week Michael took time away from his day job to get the flooring down in  the shop.  He got a few other things taken care of too – the awning over the front door is up and the drywall is finished with the walls painted.  What a week of accomplishments!

You know, I haven’t updated much on the progress of the shop lately, because frankly sometimes there’s not a lot to see.    But I can tell you with confidence we are near the finish line!  Compared to what’s behind us, only the small details are left now.

It was just four short years ago, that Michael and I decided to spend our efforts towards following his dream in our backyard.   Initially he swore he thought we’d have the shop up and running in 6 months, a year at the most.

ummm.

Okay, he was a little off on his predictions – on the time and probably the budget too.  But, none of that matters when I look at the project; his attention to detail and his careful craftsmanship on each step has blown me away.  My heart bursts with pride when I look out my kitchen window and see that little building standing in my back yard.

Soon the process of guitar making will be underway.  But for now, I can tell you I have learned to let the fruit of patience bloom in the process.  Truly, I’ve come to appreciate the joy in each small step – even the ones that seem invisible.   I love to see my husband learn this craft and take pride in a job done well.    Whether its watching him problem solve how to lay the flooring, or figuring out how to fix a crack in the drywall, the list is endless, really – I have seen him grow each step of the way.

Reality check?  Of course I have moments of impatience!  But, even if we’re moving at slower pace than I’d like, I am grateful to be up close and personal on the journey.    And I’m even more thankful that the Heavenly Father chose this particular way to grow my patience and my love for my husband at the same time.    I am one lucky girl!

Here are a few recent photos of our efforts.

Making the cuts for the flooring.  (also, notice the awning over the door!)

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Walls and ceiling were painted a lovely shade called Dolphin fin (thanks to the Hudsons idea on paint color)  White trim work will be done soon.

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Michael’s favorite board, a bit deeper color than the others.

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The flooring is down – a simple oil finish will be applied soon as well!

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pay it forward: the soup edition

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A month or so ago,  on the heels of a whirl-wind trip to Ontario for my Uncle’s funeral , a dear friend provided our family with a meal.  It was such a blessing to us during such a busy and emotional time.  And as my dad would say, “It was a blessing to my stomach” – which really means, “Man, it was delicious!”

This dear one, who lost a loved one in the fall, knows what it means to be in need and have friends give love in the form of food – and so, she was doing the same for us.  And it was good food – Brunswick stew and jalapeño cornbread.   Oh, it hit the spot.  It is a good thing to have friends who are good cooks.

Not long after we finished our stew, when I saw her again I asked her if she wanted the jars back that had been filled with her Brunswick stew.  And she said, “Oh no!  I don’t want them!  You just fill those jars up with soup and give them to someone else in need!”  I promised her I would.

Yesterday, the time came.  I was on the phone with a friend  – who had a sick little boy.  There was no rest for the weary and a day of doctor’s visits.  As she was telling me all of the details, all I could hear was my friend’s voice saying, “You just fill those jars up and give soup to someone else in need…”

So, I did. I said, “Let me bring you some soup and bread tonight, so you don’t have to worry about dinner later on this evening.”

And this is what I put in those jars…  it turned out quite yummy!

Veggie Beef Alphabet Soup

Ingredients:

(Left over) Pot roast (chopped into pieces, maybe 5 or 6 ounces?)
4 carrots, sliced
4 yukon gold potatoes, cubed into 1/2 inch pieces
beef broth (about 4-5 cups or so)
1/2 cup (left over)muir glen tomato basil spaghetti sauce
(leftover) tomato soup (progresso tomato basil, about a cup)
1/3 of a jar of heinz chili sauce
a few tablespoons of kikoman soy sauce (I just shook a few “glugs”into the pot)
a tablespoon or two of molasses
1/2 a small bag of frozen peas
1/2 a small bag of frozen corn
a cup or two of water
a good shake or sprinkle of pepper, cumin, chili powder (to your preferred taste, really)
about 1/3 cup of dry alphabet noodles (Publix brand)

Instructions:  Combine the liquids in a large dutch oven, add vegetables, meat and seasonings – bring to a boil, then lower temperature to a simmer and cook until potatoes are tender.  Then, add alphabet noodles at the end – and continue for a few minutes to cook the noodles.

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