Monday, August 22, 2016

Five Minute Friday - TEAM

Five Minute Friday - a free write, which means, as our hostess, Kate Motaung, says, "...no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write."

This week's prompt is TEAM.

Go!

I don't feel like much a team player anymore. It's been months since I've posted anything on my blog...not even a Five Minute Friday post.

With life's twists and turns, writing has become increasingly difficult. Work, home, family...my days all blend together to the point that sometimes I can't tell where one ends and another begins.

My dad passed away in May. His health had been declining for years, but the past two years have been especially difficult. For the past decade he had been treated for COPD; five days before he passed away the lung specialist at the hospital correctly diagnosed him with silicosis...a lung disease caused from breathing silica sand at the stove foundry he worked at in his younger days. 

Dad came home on Hospice Saturday, May 7th in the evening; he passed away about 2:30 the next afternoon...Sunday, May 8th...Mother's Day. His parting was peaceful and it was a good day. His family was there and he was no longer suffering...no longer struggling to breath. I've had my ups and downs since. I'm thankful that he's no longer suffering, but oh how I miss him! 

Since my dad's been gone, things have gotten harder. Sometimes I feel that I've gotten harder. Like I said, not much of a team player anymore...on any front. 

Right now we're working on my dad's house. It was his desire that, after he was gone, that we move in there and that's what we're working toward. I'm hoping that once we're settled, that I will settle...settle myself down...settle into a new routine...settle down to writing...become a team player again...on all fronts. 

Stop!

All My Love,
~Rebecca

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Five Minute Friday - Focus

It's time for another Five Minute Friday - a free write, which means, as our hostess, Kate Motaung, says, "...no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write."



Go!

Sometimes it's hard to maintain my focus. There are so many things I want to do...so many things that I need to do...but there never seems to be enough time...and, if there's time, there's no energy. Just like these Five Minute Fridays...I am weeks behind! In fact, this prompt...focus...is one that was assigned back on Friday, February 4th! Am I the only one who lives like this?

When my focus is where it should be...on God's Word, my husband and famiy, my home, my ministry...things naturally seem to go better and fall into place, but if I don't deliberately and purposefully focus on those things first, before long all kinds of little things sneak in...situations arise and lower priorities pull at me from every direction...and, before long, I become completely and utterly side-tracked once again.

Focusing on what matters takes time, determindation, prioritization, and single-mindedness. I am determined to make a plan and do better in the days ahead.

Stop!

Have a blessed and beautiful day!
~Rebecca

Friday, February 12, 2016

Recipe: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Valentine’s Hearts

Cookie Dough Truffles

I made these irrisistably delightful and scrumpciously delicious treats for the grandlittles for Valentine's Day this year. I'm pretty sure they will turn out to be a big hit! <3


Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Valentine’s Hearts

Ingredients
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter-softened
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ⅛ cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 7 oz. sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chip morsels
  • 10 oz semi sweet baking chocolate for dipping
  • 1.5 oz white chocolate for garnish
  • A few drops of pink or red food colors
Instructions
  1. Beat softened butter and brown sugar until fully combined, then add vanilla and peanut butter and beat until fluffy.
  2. Add flour and sweetened condensed milk and beat until combined.
  3. Fold in the mini chocolate chip morsels.
  4. Press the mixture into an 8 x 8 inch baking dish lined with parchment paper and set in the fridge to chill.
  5. Pull off the parchment paper to lift the dough from the baking dish. Using heart shaped cookie cutter cut off the truffles and place them on a tray lined with parchment paper. Set in the freezer while melting chocolate.
  6. Using a fork dip the truffles into melted chocolate ( one at the time), slightly tap the fork against the side of the bowl to trim the excess chocolate and place the truffle back on the parchment paper. Set them back in the fridge until chocolate is firm.
  7. Melt white chocolate, stir in a few drops of red food color, transfer into a small bag, cut the corner off and pipe melted chocolate on top of the truffles.


Original recipe found at OMG Chocolate Desserts.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Five Minute Friday - Quiet

It's time for another Five Minute Friday - a free write, which means, as our hostess, Kate Motaung, says, "...no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write."

This week's prompt is QUIET.

Go!

January certainly did not start off as planned (you can read more about how the month started off here if you wish) and, as a result, the entire month has been a whirlwind of activity as we have divided our time between caring for my dad (daily care, meals, doctor appointments, etc.) and spending as much time as possible with our daughter and son-in-law in Kansas City (most visits have been made to the hospital, but our last visit, which was just this week, was the first since Phillip's release). In addition to that I have tried to keep up with my part-time job at Prairie State Park and home life as well. Needless to say, there have been many stressful days and not a lot of down time.

Thursday evening turned out to be unusally quiet so I spent the evening deliberately quieting my heart, praying, and thinking through the many notes I've made over the past few weeks concerning the areas that I need to focus on in the coming days, weeks, and months. I am thankful for the quiet as I plan and prepare my Plan A, yet, I stand ready, willing, and able to yield myself wholly to whatever Plan B the Lord sees fit to bring, or allow into, my life.

Stop!

Have a blessed weekend!

All My Love,
~Rebecca

Five Minute Friday - 4

Five Minute Friday - Present

It's been a long and busy week and, all of a sudden, here it is...Thursday night and time for another Five Minute Friday prompt...and I'm still working on last week's prompt! I thought it was too late to add it to the official Five Minute Friday board, but it's not...so...here goes!!!

Last week's prompt...PRESENT.

Go!

Present. "The past follows hard on the heels of the present" and "the present is a gift...that's why they call it "the present".

Cliches? Yes, but, nevertheless, true. The past does follow hard on the heels of the present and the present is, indeed, a gift...one that we should value and use wisely.

For some reason, though, I'm a very slow learner. Not in every area, of course, but in the most important areas it seems...like doing life and doing it well, making wise life choices, and moving ahead. I keep thinking that at some point I'm going to wake up and figure things out...and maybe I am...but really? At 54 I really should be further down the road than I am.

I've always prided myself on being easily pleased and content with however things fall. I mean contentment with godliness is a good thing...right? But I'm starting to realize that, far too often, I am content with things...not because I'm walking in God's plan for me, but because, out of fear of what might happen if I do, I have made foolish choices and settled for much less than God's best for me. I tend to settle for 'less than' because 'less than' is how I see myself. I'm afraid that I have tricked myself (or maybe allowed others to trick me) into believing that having a low estimation of self and settling for whatever is tossed to me is equal to Biblical humility. It is not! 

It's time to take charge of my present by dealing with my  past and, purposefully, moving past it and into all that God has created me to be and to do what He has created me to do. I need to see me as God sees me. Through prayer, perseverance, and a commitment to the Lord...to His Word and His ways...I know I can overcome every obstacle!

It begins right here...right now!

Stop!

Have a blessed evening!

All My Love,
~Rebecca
Five Minute Friday - 4

Five Minute Friday - a free write, which means, as our hostess, Kate Motaung, says, "...no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write."

Monday, January 25, 2016

Celebrating Burn's Night and Scottish Recipes - Reprint from 2012

Reprint from 2012...

Our Beautiful Crockpot Haggis

As home educators our family has always enjoyed celebrations of all kinds...especially ones that celebrate our Italian and/or Scots-Irish heritage. Well, today we celebrated a new holiday for the first time. One that, in truth, we didn't even know existed until late last night!


Last night I was on Facebook and something was posted on one of the Scottish groups that I'm on about Burn's Night (an annual celebration in Scotland commemorating the life of bard, Robert Burns, who was born on January 25, 1759). After doing a little research, I decided that, while it might not be completely traditional, we were going to celebrate Burn's Night anyway!

In researching I discovered that the traditional Burn's Night supper consists of haggis, tatties, and neeps. Now...how was I going to pull that off? I mean...haggisCooked in a sheep's stomach? Uh-uh! Not happening here! I looked around and, after a while, found a recipe for haggis made in a crockpot. I tweaked it a bit and made it my own. Here is a link to the original story and recipe which I enjoyed reading very much!

http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2008/08/crockpot-haggis-recipe.html

(I will share the recipe I made in just a moment.)

I also made the traditional tatties (mashed potatoes) and neeps (mashed turnips), and added my own favorite version of Scottish Oatcakes (recipes included). It all made for a delicious meal! One that I will definitely make again and again! (Probably every January 25th!)

To make it even lovelier and more special we were joined for supper by our daughter-in-law and three of our grandchildren. It was fun to share a new experience with them!

We ended our celebration by listening to two of Robert Burns works...Auld Lang Syne and Address To A Haggis (which I absolutely delight in!).

Here are those recipes as promised...

CROCKPOT HAGGIS


1 pound lean ground turkey
1 chopped red onion
1 cup whole oats
a pinch each of nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. salt
1 egg
1/2 cup chicken broth

In a large mixing bowl, mix all of the ingredients, minus the broth, the same way you'd make a meatloaf. Plop it into your crockpot that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Press meat down to form in the shape of the crockpot. Pour broth over top. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours, or on high for about 4. This is cooked fully when it has browned on the edges and is beginning to brown on top. Don't overcook and risk drying out. Using a large spatula, carefully remove from crockpot and place on cutting board (I loosened ours by running a table knife around the edges first and it came out beautifully). (Save broth to serve over top.) Let rest for 30 minutes before slicing.

TATTIES AND NEEPS

1¼ lb. potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
1¼ lb. turnips, peeled, roughly chopped
A generous pinch of grated nutmeg
4 tbsp milk
4 tbsp butter
Sea salt and pepper

Tatties - Place the potatoes in a large saucepan, cover with cold water, add a pinch of salt, cover the pan with a lid. Bring the potatoes to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until tender (approx 20 mins). Drain the potatoes and keep to one side. Add half of the butter and half the milk to the pan the potatoes were cooked in. Melt the butter and warm the milk, add the cooked potatoes and mash. Add the nutmeg and stir well to create a smooth, creamy mash.  

Neeps - Place the turnips in a large saucepan, cover with cold water, add a pinch of salt, cover the pan with a lid. Bring the turnips to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until tender (approx 20 mins). Drain the turnips and keep to one side. Add half of the butter and half the milk to the pan the turnips were cooked in. Melt the butter and warm the milk, add the cooked turnips and mash.

SCOTTISH OATCAKES

2 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c. old-fashioned oats
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 c. light butter
1/2 c. water, or more if needed
In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal. With a fork, stir in the water. Dough should just cling together. Divide into 3 portions.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out each portion as thin as possible. Cut into triangles. Place 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 10-15 minutes. Oatcakes should not be brown but be still quite blonde when done.

Happy Burns Night!

~Rebecca

Monday, January 18, 2016

Five Minute Friday: Time




This week's prompt is TIME...

Go!

Time...there never seems to be enough of it and it often eludes me. The consistancy in my postings prove it.

I know...it's Monday. Usually, when I miss Five Minute Friday ON Friday, I just skip it in hopes of catching it next week...but, I have found over the past year and a half or so, if I skip it because I didn't catch it on Friday, I usually skip it altogether in fear of being behind. Besides...I LIKE posting and I MISS being a part of the blogging community...even if my part in the community is quite small. So...yes, it's Monday and I'm three days late in posting, but I've come to the conclusion that posting late is better than not posting at all.

Maybe I just need to take a closer look at how I spend my time and determine to make better use of the time I do have.

Stop!

Have a wonderful week ahead!

All My Love,
~Rebecca

Five Minute Friday - 4

Five Minute Friday - a free write, which means, as our hostess, Kate Motaung, says, "...no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write."

Friday, January 8, 2016

Five Minute Friday - First



This week's prompt for Five Minute Friday is 'first' and this first week of 2016 has been quite eventful to say the least!

A week ago today (Friday, January 1st) started off with our annual 'First Day Hike' at Prairie State Park. 53 people came out to go on the 2-mile, naturalist-led hike in hopes of viewing the bison a little more up-close and personal than they normally would be fortunate enough to do. I don't think they were disappointed.
Bison At Prairie State Park - Mindenmines, Missouri
I worked the 2nd of January (Saturday) and did my dad's, and a friend's, grocery shopping after church on Sunday the 3rd. When I got home from shopping I discovered that my dad wasn't doing so well. He hadn't been well for weeks, but was obviously worse than he had been. By Monday morning (the 4th of January) he decided that it was time to do something different, so we headed to the ER in Joplin. He was diagnosed with pneumonia and promtly admitted to the hospital.
This picture of my dad with three of the great-grandgirls was taken almost a decade ago, but it's still one of my favorites!
On the following morning (Tuesday, January 5th), our daughter in Kansas City called to tell us that our son-in-law, her husband, Phillip, had suffered a couple of really bad seizures back to back and she was headed home to take him to the ER in North KC.
Our son-in-law, Phillip.
 A few hours later, while we were on the way to see my dad in Joplin, Amanda called to tell us that Phillip had a brain tumor. Wow!
Our daughter, Amanda.
After breaking the news to my dad in Joplin, John and I headed to North Kansas City on the morning of the 6th (Wednesday) to be with our daughter and son-in-law for a few hours. While we were there, it was decided that Phillip would have surgery to remove the tumor the next day.

We came home Wednesday night. Went to Joplin early yesterday morning to see my dad, then turned right around and headed back to North KC, arriving mid-afternoon shortly after Phillip had been taken into surgery.

The surgery took about 4 hours and and everything went beautifully! The Lord's presence was over all and Phillip did great! He's got a long road of recovery ahead, but praise God! We are believing for a full and complete recovery and in record time!

We spend the night at the hospital with Amanda last night, then got the call this morning that Dad was being released from the hospital in Jopin this afternoon...so...after breakfast in North KC, it was back to Joplin to get my dad out of the hospital and get him home where he is so happy to be.

I don't know what tomorrow holds, but I do know Who holds it and that, whatever happens, He is already there. I do hope, though, that the rest of 2016 is a little calmer than this first week of the new year has turned out to be for our family.

Happy 2016!

All My Love,
~Rebecca


Five Minute Friday - 4

Five Minute Friday - a free write, which means, as our hostess, Kate Motaung, says, "...no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write."

Saturday, December 19, 2015

For Those Who Have Suffered The Loss Of A Child - 12/19/15



Another year has come and gone and here we are...December 19th...again. Had he lived, my Nathan would have been 33 today, but he didn't live...and, because, he didn't live...in my heart and mind...he will forever be that beautiful, tiny, yet-perfectly-formed-on-the-outside, baby boy...the one with the teeniest-tiniest fingernails and the teeniest-tiniest toenails and the teeniest-tiniest every other body part that I have ever seen...the one that had more hair on his head when he was born than all my other babies had during their first year combined...the precious son that came into my life for, oh...so brief a time, on that cold December night so long ago.

As I have done over the past several years I will share that story with you again, but, as I do, I am thinking of another momma...one who has endured great sadness over the course of this past year. Last December about this time she lost a son...her youngest...and she didn't even get to attend his funeral due to the fact that she was laying in a hospital bed recovering from heart surgery. A few short months later that same momma lost her only daughter. Only one of her three children remains with her now and my heart goes out to her and her family...and to other aching mommas...and daddies, too.

A year ago I met a man who had lost his 37-year-old daughter just before Thanksgiving. He said, "You can bury your parents and your grandparents, your aunts and uncles, but no parent should ever have to bury their child" and he cried. I so wanted to speak to him again, but the opportunity never presented itself, so, tonight, I lift him and his wife up in my thoughts and prayers as they've just hit that first year anniversary mark and it's got to be hard.

I've shared this story before...four times in fact...but, tonight, I share it again in hopes that it will minister to someone, somewhere...even if in just some small way...

*********************************************

It was 33 years ago at this very time (December 19th at 12:04 a.m.) that Nathan Andrew was born. Something had been wrong for a very long time. I had been bleeding off and on since my second month of pregnancy...at times very heavily.

On the 18th of December I was out Christmas shopping with my mom, my aunt, my 1 1/2-year-old daughter, and my three little cousins. All of a sudden I went into labor. My aunt took my daughter home with her and her children, and my mother rushed me to the hospital. Next thing I knew I was being strapped to a gurney and was being shipped by ambulance to a bigger hospital...one that was attached by a walkway to Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.

Even though I had been given a lot of medication and was pretty much out of it, I could hear the doctors and nurses talking.  If they didn't get me to the other, better-equipped hospital soon, they were going to lose me AND the baby. It was one of the most frightening experiences that I have ever had. All I could think about was what would happen to my little daughter at home if I died.

I arrived at the other hospital in record time and was immediately surrounded by all sorts of doctors and nurses. I was plugged into every kind of equipment they had, which wasn't nearly as good as what they have now, but, at the time, it was state-of-the-art. Immediately, the head doctor wanted to know who my doctor was and how long I had been bleeding. She said that the placenta had torn away from the uterus wall and that this baby should have been "taken" months ago.

What was she talking about??? I would never have allowed my baby to be "taken!"

Long story short...27 hours of intense labor later (I had been given every kind of pain medicine imaginable, but nothing seemed to help) and Nathan Andrew was born...in the hallway...on the way to delivery. He was immediately rushed across the walkway to Children's Mercy Hospital and I was taken on into delivery where a D & C was performed. A few hours later the doctor came into my room with a nurse who was carrying my dead baby. Nathan had fought hard and had lived for two hours, but his lungs were just too underdeveloped. Now days they probably could have saved him, but, back then...there was nothing they could do. There was just nothing that they could do. :'(

Nathan was perfectly formed. He had long, black hair, had perfectly formed features, ten perfectly formed tiny little fingers and fingernails...ten perfectly formed tiny little toes and toenails...on the outside he was just that...perfect! Tiny, yes (he was 10 inches long and only weighed a pound), but still...on the outside...perfectly perfect!

Not having money for a funeral left me with few choices. I would not be allowed to leave the hospital without signing papers for Nathan's body to, either, be donated to scientific research, or be cremated in the hospital crematory. Not wanting to do either I chose what, I felt like at the time, was the lesser of the two evils...the hospital crematory. To this day I have regretted that decision, but, at that point, I didn't know what else to do under the circumstances. It still hurts me beyond anything that I could ever express and there's never been any real place to mourn Nathan's loss. (In recent years I have chosen the Precious Moments Chapel in Carthage, Missouri as my place to remember him.) I came home on Christmas Eve with two very blurry pictures taken by a nurse with a Poloroid camera, a set of tiny footprints on a piece of paper, and a poem that the hospital chaplain had given to me.

Until just recently I had never written about all this, but, in years of late, I have felt a need to do so. Perhaps there is someone else out there who has been through a similar experience...someone who needs a word of encouragement. Even through all that I went through was, and still is, very sad...there are two things that have ministered to me over the years since Nathan's death...

#1 - The poem that the chaplain shared with me. It was entitled FOOTPRINTS IN THE SAND. I had never read it until the night that she gave it to me there in the hospital and, to this day, it it is still very special to me.

#2 - There is a verse of scripture that the Lord gave to me many, many years later, and it is still the verse that comes to mind whenever I think of Nathan. The verse is found in Psalm 30...verse 5...and it says, "...weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." I know beyond the shadow of any doubt that Nathan is with Jesus and that some sweet day I will see him again! Not as a premature baby, but a the spirit man that God created him to be!

And, if you've suffered the loss of a child...whether it be due to miscarriage, premature birth, at birth, or in infancy...know that, if you are a born-again, Bible-believing, follower of Christ, and child of God, then you, too, will see that precious child again and be reunited with them in days to come because that child is with Jesus right now!

As you remember that trial that you've been through...perhaps you're asking (or have asked), "Why God? Where were You when I was going through all that? Why weren't you there for me?" I leave you now with that beautiful poem that was shared with me by that wonderful, old chaplain at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri on December 19th, 1982...

FOOTPRINTS IN THE SAND

One night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the LORD.

Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand. One belonging to him and the other to the LORD.

When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of his life there were only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times of his life.

This really bothered him and he questioned the LORD about it. LORD, You said that once I decided to follow You, You'd walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life there is only one set of footprints. I don't understand why when I needed You the most You would leave me.

The LORD replied, My precious, preciou child, I love you and I would never leave you! During the times of trial and suffering when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Five Minute Friday: Frost

Today's Five Minute Friday assignment was a little different than most weeks. For the final Five Minute Friday of 2015 Kate Motaung let everyone pick their own one-word prompt and the word I chose is frost.

Here's why...
Frost On The Windshield
Upon going out to warm up my van this morning before work, I discovered that, overnight, Jack Frost had completely covered my van windows in an intricate frosty pattern. A few minutes of heat on high and the beautiful artwork of nature gave way to nothing but water droplets that rolled away with a swish of the wiper blades and a rush of wind as I drove out onto the highway.

Frosty-Backed Bison At Prairie State Park
At the park (I work at Prairie State Park in Mindenmines, Missouri), I was greeted by four great beasts, their brown backs white with frost, against a backdrop of white-frosted prairie grasses. Over the crest of the hill and the whole herd of white-backed bison encircled the nature center where I work.
Bison Dot The Landscape At Prairie State Park
As I pulled into the parking lot, the morning sun spilled across the tall grasses, instantly melting the guazy frostiness that only moments before had grasped them in misty whiteness. The massive beasts (bison) that dotted the prairie landscape separated lazily and made their way around and behind the building. With each grunt and snort, the chilly air made their hot breath come out in billowy puffs of icy whiteness.
Frost Flowers At Prairie State Park
As I made my way to the building I noticed that frost flowers were in great abundance in the wildflower garden out front...
Mullin Outlined And Covered In Frost
...and that every plant was outlined and covered, sparkling, and glistening white, with frost.

I love frosty mornings on the prairie and wish that I could share one with YOU! They are soooo beautiful! <3

All My Love,
~Rebecca

For more information about Life On The Tallgrass Prairie click: HERE!

For more information about Frost Flowers click: HERE!





Five Minute Friday - 4

Five Minute Friday - a free write, which means, as our hostess, Kate Motaung, says, "...no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write."