Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I See Him (video with lyrics)

I ran across this after listening to Joey and Rory on a cd I checked out from the library.  This song is how I feel most often.


I hear people putting God down
Saying that when they look around
All they see are the bad things heading their way
We'll I'll admit that watching the news
Can sure give a person a case of the blues
But it's all in where you look for him each day

'Cause I see him in the seeds I grow
I hear him in the rooster's crow
I feel him when my husband's hand is in mine
I taste him in the meals I make
I smell him in the bread I bake
When I look around I don't have to wonder where he'll be
I see him in you
And I hope you see him in me

There was a time when hard as I looked
In the pews of the church or the words of the book
I couldn't find him
I didn't know where to start
But then one morning I realized
He's been right there in front of my eyes
But I couldn't see him until I looked with my heart

Now I see him in the seeds I grow
I hear him in the rooster's crow
I feel him when my children's hands are in mine
I taste him in the meals I make
I smell him in the bread I bake
When I look around I don't have to wonder where he'll be
I see him in you
And I hope you see him in me

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Monday, May 26, 2014

Decoration Day 2014

Today is Memorial Day, once known as Decoration Day.

Years ago we would load up in the pick up and take flowers up to the cemetery in Ottumwa, Iowa.  It was a good 2 hour drive or so from the farm in Missouri.  Mom, Dad, and I would plan the day, visiting mom's sister along the way before going out to the cemetery to put flowers on stones that were weathered and beaten with age.  Family members from a century before or more laid there, some of them early early members of Ottumwa and Wapello county.

It's been a long long while since I've been back to decorate the graves.  I've moved a long way away from Iowa.  Mom now lays in that same cemetery in Ottumwa after losing a battle with cancer, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.  Shawl has been her earthly home for 11 years.  Dad moved to the cemetery in Bevier, Missouri in 2001 after a battle with cancer and Parkinson's disease and diabetes.

Dad served in WWII, in the Pacific Theater.  He was in the Philippines right after the liberation of the Bataan POW camp.  He was 18 or so at the time.  What he saw he wouldn't speak about, but showed mixed feelings on his service.  He was drafted into service from the farm, he had to do things that scarred him for life, but he was proud serve his country when they called.

Dad's funeral flag stays in a place where you can't help but see it.  It stays atop a big wooden shelf, in a triangle driftwood glass front box, that you can't miss when you're in the living room.  If you look in our windows for that room, you will easily see it.  It is my "memorial" to remember him by.  Mom's "memorial" is in a different way.  It is in the shape of a quilt that is coming together, with pieces of her dresses stitched in the blocks.  It is in cookbooks she left me, that I cook with regularly.  These things the family see, but they don't see the things they left inside that I use and remember each day.  Those are the real memorials.

Today, don't forget who fought for your freedoms, who died for you on the battlefield, and who died for you on the cross!

Shared at:  The Modest Mom

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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Set the Captive Free

Years ago I worked among a population that were kept inside a fence, separated from the rest of the world.  My job was to carry a loaded 12 gauge shotgun or AR 15 semi automatic rifle and make sure everyone stayed all snug and tight within the fence.  I was a Correctional Officer at two different facilities, one that housed high medium/max security men and another that was not only an intake processing facility for women but also a drug treatment facility and max security.

While working within the men's facility, I spent half of my shift on the ground walking and working in housing units or even the chow hall.  The other half I spent on the fence row in a tower, loaded weapon ready in case someone had the bright idea to hit the fence, and also keeping an eye out for some who may try to aid an inmate from the outside.   Most of the time, due to my youthful age and position waaaaaaaaaaaaaay down on the seniority ladder, I spent my ground time in "the hole", also known as the jail within the prison.

"The Hole", so infamously depicted in movies, is the place where those who choose not to follow rules within the confinement they're already in, get to go and have some alone time.  All movement is highly controlled.  The entire facility can be put on shut down if some one from the "hole" is moved from the building to another building, in order to protect him or her.  He or she is confined to a tiny 6x8 cell with the absolute bare minimums for needs.  To simply take a shower, go to or from the cell, or any kind of movement, he or she places their hands through a door within the door (a chuckhole), cuffs placed on them, and then the door opened.  Showers are monitored, clothing and toiletries are state issued and very bland and definitely not "new".  Meals are brought 3 times a day on a cart and officers like myself delivered each meal and picked up all trays.

In the men's facility, the "hole" was 2 tiered, with a fenced catwalk that overlooked the floor below.  It was noisy, with the slightest sound echoing through the entire hall.  The keys were old fashioned Folger's keys (see picture at the top of the page) and the locks were so worn you could open them with a ball point pen.  The heating was poor in the winter, and there was no air conditioning in the summer.  The ventilation lacked seriously.  It was like a scene out of Shawshank Redemption or other prison movies set in old styled facilities.  Summers were stifling inside the "hole", and honestly, the rest of the facility, due to the outdated ventilation and no air conditioning, along side tight quarters.  Bugs were rampant, as were mice and rats, skunks along the fences, and even a few deer.  It wasn't paradise to say the least.

At the women's facility, it was more "cush".   There was sufficient heating and air conditioning, sufficient space for the amount of people housed, pests weren't a problem, and everything was on one level.  The "hole" wasn't nearly as violent nor stifling, although similar practices were used for movement.  It was a much newer facility, borne from need due to flooding in Jefferson City that overtook a facility there.  At this facility, I was a "yard dog", meaning I worked the yard escorting people during closed movement times, assisting in secured counts, conducting random UA's, and also did roving patrol outside the fences as well as inside the fence checking the alarms.  The inside was nice, the outside was in a swampy area, and during the hot steamy summer months my uniform, though blue and black, was constantly brown in being covered with mosquitos.

During the times I worked in the facilities, I wasn't saved.  I was more against God, all for the pleasures of the flesh in various forms, and had a love for drink.  The things I saw in the facilities, the things I heard, they wouldn't leave my mind when it was time for me to leave the post.  So I spent off days drinking and partying and doing other things.  Nothing illegal, but not very smart either.

I was just as captive as the people inside those fences.  Sure, I could walk out the gates at the end of shift, but I was still a captive.  I could go home to my nice house, do as I pleased, but I wasn't free.

My sin held me captive.  I didn't realize it then, but I was in my own prison.

One of my many job functions within the women's prison was to process out those who were leaving on parole.  I made sure paperwork was in order for my Sargent , and had to do strip searches (yeah, ewww) on all out going inmates.  I then walked them to the edge where the gate then opened for them, and then escorted them to their awaiting ride to where ever they were going to.  To each one, I'd say, "you're a good woman, you have a chance at a new life, don't come back to see us."  And then she'd leave.

I don't know how many inside those fences knew the Lord, and at the time I couldn't have cared less.  I saw everything religious in nature as "jail house religion", a way of looking good in the eyes of the parole board and getting an early release.  I didn't believe it when an inmate would tell me about Jesus.  I mean, that was an inmate doing hard time, why should I believe them when I've been trained not to believe anything I'm told and to listen with a strong filter to detect gang activities and anything else that could be used to hurt folks?  I didn't know it then, I didn't see the true believers who were walking inside the fences.  Why?  They wore a different uniform than I.  They were the inmate, they were the "captive", I was their supervisor and more or less trained to treat them like herding cattle.

Those couple of years working inside hard core places changed my world.  I came out harder, tougher, more black and white on things.  I also believed then after seeing what all I'd seen and heard and dealt with, that if there was a God, then He wasn't in those facilities.  I mean, I even worked with 2 pastors who had congregations outside the fence, and if they wouldn't even talk about God inside, then there definitely wasn't a God.

The inmates in the facilities at some point in time will be released, either by going 12/12 (serving entire time), parole, or death.  Some have been set free by Jesus Christ while inside the fence.  Caring pastors go inside the gates and work with them, if the inmate chooses, and tries to bring hope and light to a very dark place.  Saved inmates spread the Gospel to others, and ministries are born.

It took me another handful of years to be set free after I left working in the prison system.  It took a while for me to see that I was just as guilty as the inmates were, that I deserved punishment, and that I couldn't pay for the sins I'd done.  Only Jesus could, and did....

And in 2003, this captive was set free!

Shared at:  The Modest Mom

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Made From Scratch Buttermilk Sourdough Bread (Recipe)

Something I've been enjoying lately is buttermilk sourdough bread.  My family really enjoys it, insists it be toasted with extra butter and garlic.  Hubby prefers I use a garlic press and put garlic in the dough as it runs through the hooks.

We love our breads!  LOL

To get this bread, it's a fairly easy recipe.

Take a cup of sourdough starter (if you don't have a home brew, you can start one and wait a week, or buy one at the store and follow directions for it).  This one is rye and has brewed going on 2 years.

Put that starter in a large mixing bowl.  If you're using dough hooks, this is a good time to put the bowl under the hook(s).

Now, take 1 to 2 teaspoons yeast and add it to the starter.  Add in a drizzle of honey or molasses to get the yeast happy and bubbly with excitement.  I personally use a lot of local honey, and in the winter time a lot of molasses.  Add 1/4 cup of warm water--whatever temp you can get out of the tap works.  Use the hook(s) and mix it all together, then let it sit until it gets foamy.

Once the mix is foamy and bubbling over with yeasty goodness, add in a cup of buttermilk.  I get ours through Braum's, which is a local dairy chain with amazing milk and cheese and ice cream.

If you're feeling adventurous, add in an egg.  I get ours from local folks, brown eggs and some with double yolks (sweet!!).

Then, put in a half cup of an oil--whatever oil you like.  I use mostly olive oil but if we're out, no biggie, I'll throw in what's available.

Mix that all together a few seconds, and then we start the flour.

Start with 4 cups of flour, kneading it all in as much as the hooks can handle.  Add more flour beyond the 4 cups until you get a dough that pulls away from the bowl and makes a ball.  Depending on the hydration of your sourdough starter, it could take 1 to 3 more cups of flour.  No biggie, just use the amount you need to get the job done.  Throw in a dash of salt, and keep on kneading.

Once all kneaded, put it into an oiled bowl and cover it.  It can take an hour, 2 hours, 8 hours to rise.  I've had all those depending on the temp of the house.  De-gas it and form into whatever loaf shape you're wanting, and let it rise again.

Bake at 350 F for about 30 minutes or until golden and hollow sounding.  I highly recommend putting a pan of water in the oven when you preheat, to add moisture to the heat and get a higher (usually) rising loaf.

When it's done, take it out, pop it out of the pan, butter the top and let it cool.  Slice up and enjoy!

Shared at:  The Modest Mom

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Sunday, May 4, 2014

Finding Him in Baking

Third Sunday Dinner Blog

The past weeks have been busy, as the school season winds down for the year and outdoor activities increase.  My own activities inside the house have picked up as well.

Especially baking!

I've been especially adventurous this spring, trying out new and different recipes, looking for something our family will eat up fast and beg for more.  My specialty is in the yeasted doughs, so of course I navigate that direction.

I find joy in trying out new recipes, especially baked ones.  If it has yeast, I can at least try it.  I especially love it when one recipe can make a variety of different items, from bread to pretzels to rolls to bagels....or another one that's sweeter and can make doughnuts, danish, and cinnamon rolls from the same ingredients.  This to me is something good, practical, useful...

While I'm working up the recipes, I listen to the radio most often.  Lots of good old fashioned hymns come on, lifting the spirit as the yeast lifts the dough.  I sing about God and Jesus and praises to Him as the dough hooks do their wonder.  To me, this is something special, the time working in the kitchen and creating from a little flour and oil, and making things our family and friends enjoy.

Finding Jesus in the little things is easy when you go looking for Him there.  It may be something as ordinary as baking up some bread or goodies, or as deep as preparing to lead the Sunday School class or even Sunday services.  Just go looking for Him wherever you are, whatever you're doing, and you're bound to find Him there.

As a housewife, I find Him at home, working inside me as I tend to home and family, baking, cooking, cleaning, sewing, tending the plants and yard.

Where do you find Him in your life?  Is it only at the church house, or do you see Him in daily things?

Shared with:  The Modest Mom

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Saturday, May 3, 2014

Looking at the Little Things

It's spring (finally!!) and our daily world here has grown busier by the day, with work inside and out that demands attention that was left mostly abandoned during the long lasting winter.

The house inside begs for more light, uncovering the doors once blocked with layers of blankets to push back winter's cold.  Windows need a good washing, ceiling fans need a good once over, and the cleaning materials change to reflect a spring floral scent that remains once cleaning is done.  Warm comforters and blankets line up to take a turn in the washer before napping in a storage bin until the chill of fall.

Outside, we've been busily building and planting a new flower bed in the front of the house.  In this we've planted purple petunias, pink snapdragons, violas, echinacea in pink, chocolate mint, sweet mint, lavender, pineapple sage, italian oregano, lemon thyme, and encouraged a creeping myrtle that was already in that spot.  A pot of mini sunflowers has sprouted and will be ready to transfer into this bed for an added pop of yellow.  Other pots of chamomile and queen anne's lace are in the early stages of germination, with hopes of putting them in the back of the flower bed as well.

We've also transplanted peonies, creeping phlox, and echinacea, and have many irises left to divide.  We've discovered many daffodils, grape hyacinths, a small cactus, chives, and green onions as well.  This is a year of discovery for us, as we moved into this house in November, after everything had died off for the year.  It's been exciting to see what awaits us!

So far this year, we have many seeds out, many purchased starters, some perennials brought with us from our old home, and transplants given to us, alongside the bulbs and perennials already here.  To date we have:  citrus mint (times 4--mine brought over, plus 3 I found in a large area by the back door), spearmint, sweet mint, chocolate mint, lemon balm, rosemary, German thyme, lemon thyme, Italian oregano, Greek oregano, pineapple sage, regular sage, purple basil, sweet basil, borage, echinacea, chives, green onion, parsley, dill, black seeded simpson lettuce, spinach, queen anne's lace, chamomile, 18 inch sunflowers, mammoth russian sunflower, grape hyacinths, violas, lavender, snapdragons, creeping myrtle, creeping phlox, irises, daffodils, grape hyacinth, a hardy little cactus, marigolds, zinnias, and sweet williams, peonies, and a large yucca.  Some of the seed hasn't sprouted yet, but there's a lot that have so far.  Our yard is a regular city lot size, and things aren't necessarily all organized, as this is our first growing season here.  But, that's the fun part--figuring out what to do with what's here, moving things to suit a better growing spot, and present them all as a pretty grouping.  There's plenty of creeping thyme around, it's everywhere in the yard and large flower bed at the side of the house.  Purple dead nettle is extremely rampant here as well.

This is my favorite time of year, not too hot, not too cold, with new life turning green and sprouting.  I love seeing what God brings forth each season, and this year is no different!

What are you doing in your yard this spring?

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