What’s cooking in your kitchen that brings a lesson or two?

The tomato vine grew taller and fuller. Tiny yellow blossoms developed. Then, little green globes dangled securely from lean branches. Seeing such a delightful yield in my garden reminded me of the movie Fried Green Tomatoes, and the first time I had prepared this iconic side dish.

The cookbook I received as a wedding gift didn’t have recipes for fried green tomatoes. The novel and the movie came out long after I had married. But somehow, I heard about this intriguing side dish. So, I fried up a delicious batch for my groom who thought his bride had lost her mind. . .until he tasted them.

Then, one evening, I did something even stranger. I served waffles for dinner. . .most likely because I forgot to thaw out beef or poultry.

The idea of eating breakfast at dinnertime felt improper to his rigid upbringing. His tone and shocked expression spoiled my proud moment. Seeing my wounded face, he did what all husbands (eventually) learn and said, “thank you dear.”

Over time my groom adapted to new traditions and foods…including burnt meals.

When responses aren’t what we expect, it’s okay to feel hurt.

We have a Healer of the heart, body, mind, and soul.

When practices flip-flop, it’s okay to feel unsure.

We have the One who reassures us that change can be good.

When relationships are hard, it’s okay to feel disappointed.

We have the One who doesn’t disappoint, who lifts our spirits with sweet assurance.

In my upcoming novel, Molly and Ted are learning about these truths. Their struggles are much deeper and more complex than a new recipe or altered traditions.

They try to find God’s grace while deception thwarts a dream and a dream prevents a proposal. This isn’t easy for Molly or Ted.

Life isn’t easy for anyone.

We’re too busy with self-focus or stuck via outside influences to move forward.

Although you’ll have to wait for the unfolding of Molly and Ted’s struggles, YOU can ask God right now to heal a hurt, to help you accept change.—

He’ll never fail you.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 (KJV)

Hello friends! Welcome to where I live

This week’s Welcome to My World challenge is to Give one word that best describes where you live.

E d e n:

Rolling hills, grand oaks, and wide open space filled my heart beyond its capacity. The depth of God’s exquisite taste to create beauty, peace, and bounty lay before us. I thought it to be a bit like the Garden of Eden.

My husband and I viewed the country real estate beneath a deep blue sky and a bright winter sun. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to purchase the land. A few months later we moved onto the property where we’ve lived for nearly thirty years.

In the evenings, the stars and a moon are visible. Coyotes and owls call out mysterious legends. On rare occasions deer pass through. A distant moo reminds me of my grandparents’ dairy and the song, Home on the Range, I learned to sing as a child.

Written by Kansas homesteader Dr. Brewster Higley in the 1800s first as a poem, its original title was My Western Home. The verses which you can read here—reveal Higley’s deep affection for nature and where he lived.

In my memoir’s WIP (work in progress) I express this same love for my country home.

But you don’t have to be a country dweller or live on a range to be content. You just need to love home.

You just need to love home.

Since the pandemic, people, worldwide, have spent a lot of time at home. We’ve learned much about our spaces, our family members, ourselves, and time. How we spend it homeschooling, exercising, ordering necessities on line, Zooming with co-workers, doctors, elderly parents, and grandchildren.

We’ve had to be creative, seek support, take a deep breath and pray for a miracle to help us get through these strained and trying days.

Psalms 91:1-2 (ASV) reassures us that, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of Jehovah, He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in whom I trust.”

He is my refuge and my fortress.

I’ve said these words many times to the Lord. Only then can I block out pandemic depression, cabin fever, loneness from lack of human contact, or fear of COVID attacking my family and friends.

There are so many reasons to feel anger, hopeless, or out of control even when there isn’t a pandemic.

I’ve lived in a 10×50-foot mobile home in an almond orchard, a triplex with a yard half the length and just as narrow as a bowling lane, a three-room rental infested with mice, and a fifth-wheel camper.

There are also reasons to resist feelings of anger, hopelessness, and lack of control.

There are also reasons to resist feelings of anger, hopelessness, and lack of control.

The mobile home where I lived had plenty of shade on hot summer days. I got acquainted and chatted with a neighbor my age over the fence in our tiny triplex yard. The infested rental had a working kitchen, shower, and a kitchen-living space large enough to gather with friends. The fifth-wheel provided shelter while my husband built our house among the rolling hills.

This is where we experienced our first encounter with a serpent. But unlike Adam, my husband protected me and our young sons. Who says we can’t learn from the Bible?

Who says we can’t learn from the Bible?

There have been, and continue to be, deep satisfaction and contentment where I live among rolling hills, grand oaks, and wide open space. After all, in my mind, it’s a bit like the Garden of Eden.

What word or phrase describes where you live?

How do you overcome negative symptoms of the pandemic?

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The Books We Read

This week’s Welcome to My World blog challenge question is what new thing have you learned this last week?

I learned that crushed eggshells DON’T stop snails.

But this post isn’t about snails or eggshells or my half-eaten sprouts. It’s about…well, I’m guessing you read the title.

I admit to researching—strictly from curiosity—books about my garden foe. There are lots of children’s books with fictional snail characters. But only a few snail books appeared in the adult nonfiction category with titles like, the world of snails and snail farming.

Regardless of age or topic, fiction and nonfiction can entertain and be educational.

My preference is nonfiction. In fact, my interest in real-life accounts began with slick magazines.

Their charming essays, striking captions, and feature stories drew me to the many creative lifestyles and elegant words.

When my monthly issue of Victoria arrived in the mail, I’d plop onto the sofa, recline with my knees pulled up, and then rest the magazine against my legs. I’d turn to the last page, delight in the writer’s childhood memories of summers on the lake, Sundays after church, that last remaining china cup filled with tea, and more.

The essays so inspirited me I wanted to write my own. This is how God began a work in me to become a writer.

I didn’t know at the time that reading essays in Country Living and Victoria magazines was part of God’s plan for my life. I simply enjoyed the lovely stories. It was through these narratives that I related to the musings of Bo Niles. Some of my favorite lines written by her include:

 “While I work, tall grasses whisper to me. I listen to them, and feel good.”

Country Living October 1995

“That is the best thing about traditions. They grow to embrace other traditions, like a tree with many branches.”

Country Living December 1995

“We cannot let the sense of wonder wither and die in our children. It is the key to our humanity.”

Country Living July 1997

At bookstores, I browse the nonfiction section first. I love books about people who accomplished a dream. Who beat the odds and established a hopeful path for others. Who learned to trust God with their careers, hobbies, or personal growth.

I also look through the fiction books offered on display tables. For me, fiction is about the author’s creativity, skill, and compelling characters I love or love to hate. (The latter group sure stirs us up, doesn’t it?) Fiction allows me to get lost in the writer’s make-believe mind and experience extraordinary plots. I can go through a time machine, be a detective, visit fairy lands and make-believe worlds.

At home, I keep my fiction and nonfiction print books on different shelves. They are almost equal in number. But nonfiction wins. On my Nook and Kindle, fiction wins.

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