Thursday, May 19, 2016

How To Pack Salad In A Jar

A few years ago, we grew a vegetable garden and I learned how to preserve the bounty in mason jars. Being the first year and a huge garden, I had to buy a lot of jars!  Now we don't garden as much, but I still have all those jars and always look for ways to use them!
Salad in a Jar is popular right now.  It allows you to pack up a variety of ingredients for a salad and quickly take it where you need to go.

One of my sweet hubby's food peaves is mushy lettuce. He just can't do it! So after a little research, there is a technique to pack a salad in a jar:  Here it is with a few tips to keep it fresh and crunchy.

  • Start with salad dressing. By putting the dressing at the bottom, gravity will do its just and will keep it separated from the greens.   Therefore, no soggy greens.(YES!)
  • Add your veggies. After the salad dressing, throw in your vegetables.  The harder more dense vegetables (e.g. carrots) should go first, then add the softer vegetables like peppers or tomatoes. The denser vegetables will not get soggy when touching the salad dressing.
  • Add your leafy greens. This should take up at least half of the jar.  I like to use spinnach or kale. 
  •  If you aren’t using packaged lettuce, then make sure it is completely dry before adding or else it’ll go bad.
  • Put protein last.  This includes cooked meat,  grated cheese, nuts and seeds. The weight of these should help push down the other items to fit more in.
  • Screw the cap on tightly and store in your fridge.

When you are ready to eat, just shake the jar thoroughly and you are go good to go.
 Tip: make sure to keep the jars upright to prevent the greens from getting into the dressing.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Prayer Before the Day Begins

“Prayer should be the key of the day and the lock of the night.” — Spurgeon

Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul. – Psalm 143:8

Believe it or not there is a lot to pray about before our feet hit the floor.
We can begin with thanksgiving. While some of us may not feel like being thankful that morning has come, once we begin looking for things to be thankful for our attitude will change.
So what can we be thankful for at the crack of dawn?
  • That we have a bed to sleep in.
  • That we were able to spend the night without having to fear for our lives.
  • That He gave us the amount of rest He wanted us to have for that day (even if children woke us up or we found ourselves lying awake at night for no apparent reason).
  • That He has given us work and prepared us to tackle our daily tasks.
  • That no matter what our day holds, nothing can take our salvation away.

Then of course we can come to God with all of our requests.
  • That we will glorify God in our conduct and words that day.
  • That we will encounter all things with gratitude.
  • That God will help us trust instead of worry no matter what our day holds.
  • That He will remind us to use His time wisely.

Spending time in prayer each morning, before our schedules start pulling us in a hundred different directions, will help us anchor our minds on Christ. He is the one who gave us today, He is the one who sustains our life, He is the one whom we are to glorify in our day. He is our help, our strength and our wisdom.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Mothering All Year

Mother's Day is over a week past now. Our beautiful flowers have died, that special lunch is a cherished memory, cards have been put away and another year of honor and appreciation hopefully have recharged our mother batteries.  

In the past week since Mother's Day we have probably spent a lot of time doing the mundane tasks of, grocery shopping, cleaning up messes and of course laundry!  Mothers vastly vary in ages and stages of life, but we all can identify with the same basic routines that come with the job.  Most mothers can also agree that motherhood stirs up emotions untouchable by any other relationships.  That precious life that was planted by the hand of God into our bodies, nourished by us, inside of us, then brought forth through birth is a true miracle.  One we can watch unfold day after day, year after year.  A true mission, and purpose that offers opportunities every day to mold, train and prepare for life. But in the midst of the everyday tasks, sweet blessings can abound if we look for them.  A baby's smile, child's laughter, even glimpses of light come in those teenage years!  Then as adults, even as they grow and mature, learn to live life on their own and don't 'need' us, our influence lives on!

Mom, your job is hard, and it is a blessing.  It can be filled with sorrows and with joys.  But your influence is vital and so needed.  Until Mother's Day comes around next year, may we seek to let that Mother's love make a difference every day!

Motherhood is more than a stage—
it’s a lifelong calling from God.
With it He gives us hearts that love deeply,
hands that serve tirelessly, and vision to see
His blossoming image in the precious ones
entrusted to our care.

Friday, May 6, 2016

When Mother's Day Is Difficult

May has arrived in all it's beauty.  Our highways are a sight to behold with wildflowers spreading masses of color on the sides. The weather is beautiful, the school year is almost done, it is a beautiful month.  If you haven't noticed is also the celebration of Mother's Day!

You can hardly enter a store without the bright, colorful display reminding us of the approaching of Mother's Day. Beautiful cards, gift ideas that target the feminine senses of things we as women love, gorgeous plants and flowers bombard us as we enter stores. 

These are great reminders of the upcoming special day for mom and an exciting time to choose a special gift to let mom know how special she is to us.  But even amidst the joy of Mother's Day, we can find hurting women among us. These can also reminders of the pain of grief and loss.

Mother's Day changed drastically for me once my own mother passed away. The first year, I couldn't bring myself to attend church. Time does bring healing and God's grace gives us the strength to go on, but the feeling of grief is never far away. A few years back, I remember sitting in church on Mother's Day. It was the year my oldest son was a few weeks away from getting married. A cute skit was played in honor of the day depicting the stages of motherhood from baby days all the way through to embracing grandchildren. Somehow in the midst of the reminders of the importance of a mother's influence, my emotions got the best of me.  A dear friend had recently lost her mother and the two of us ended up in the church parking lot crying together, with lots of hugs and words of comfort and eventually smiles which came from sweet ministry to one another in the moments of grief. 

Mother's Day may be a difficult day for women for a variety of reasons. Some have lost their mothers. Some may have lost children and their identity as a mother. Many long to be a mother but infertility or miscarriage seem to rob them of the blessed opportunity. If we look close enough to the women we know, we probably can recognize some of these ladies.  Mother's Day provides a perfect opportunity to share grace.  The grace found in God's love, reaching out to each other.

Mother's Day is a beautiful day - a day to give, to receive, to be thankful and to show love. 

Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

A Tale of Two Lunches

Within a few weeks we had two different unexpected visits from family on a Sunday. The first time, an aunt and uncle were in town and surprised us at church. Of course, we wanted to spend some more time with them, so we decided to go to a local restaurant for lunch. We arrived to find the place full and waited outside a while before sitting down together. The crowd and the noise made it difficult to hear one another, but we managed to catch up on each other's family and activities. The meal was rather quick and we said our goodbyes with promises to stay in touch and visit more in the future. 

 The second visit was from a brother and sister in law who made a weekend visit that was packed full of activities and finding time to visit two separate families. It had been months since the family had been together, so finding some free time Sunday afternoon we planned a lunch at home. A quick phone call to my dear mother in law asking if we could pull off a Sunday lunch for around 20 gave assurance we would have plenty of food. 

One of my special memories when dating my husband was his family's Sunday lunches. After church we would gather at his parent's or grandparent's house for a home cooked lunch and tons of sweet fellowship. That was many years ago and the family has grown tremendously in numbers and branched out in different directions which made Sunday lunches a rare treat. 

Back to the recent visit, we pulled off a spectacular Sunday lunch complete with relaxed fellowship, plenty of food and a time to relax and enjoy each other's company in a peaceful and cozy setting. Front porches were filled, tables were full, a birthday was celebrated and the day was filled with laughter and fun. So, two lunches, two families, equally loved but the atmosphere makes all the difference. Home seems to make everything sweeter!

The guys gathered together...

Sisters and Sister In Laws...lots of girl time!:

A little birthday celebration!