Another Day on the Farm

Penny- a blue splash Wyandotte Hen

I love Mondays.  Mondays often get such a bad reputation, but around here I love them.  Due to the nature of our business, Tony and I are usually working on Saturdays.  Now, it is usually very enjoyable- teaching a workshop on herbs or composting, selling our herbs at a Farmer’s Market or First Monday, or some other farming activity- yet it is still work.  Sundays are our days of rest, very little house work gets done and that isn’t done until the evening.

But come Monday, I am at home doing laundry, preparing the schedules for the week, getting our home school plans laid out, and generally putting the house back together.  I get a deep sense of satisfaction when we all sit down to a good meal at the end of a Monday knowing that my house is in order, my family is provided for and we are happy.  Like it or not, as mothers the atmosphere of the home rests on us.  How our week is going to go has everything to do with what I do on Monday.  So, I love Mondays.

Now, what about Tuesday?  This Tuesday was a day for me to catch up on my chicken chores.  I do love my chickens, they are such funny creatures and very productive.  It used to be that Monday was also my day to clean out nest boxes and do general house keeping chores in the hen house, however, as the needs of the human house have grown I have had to move that chore.  To be honest, it has been a bit neglected as of late.

Many folks believe that a chicken house stinks.  Well, if all you know is a commercial enterprise with way to many birds in a locked down area then yes, it does stink to high heaven.  But, when chickens are given plenty of room, deep bedding and time to get out of the coop and scratch for bugs- there will be basically no smell.  I know when it is time to add more litter and bedding to the coop floor when I start to notice the hen house with my nose.  So, old hay, dead plant matter, fallen leaves, straw are then dumped in the floor in piles and the chickens will spread it around quite nicely.  Given enough time, those girls will shred it, mix it, compost it, and add there own special “fertilizer” to the mix.  They are first rate composters.  They benefit from the antibacterial properties of compost, the heat in the winter given off from the breakdown of the organic matter, and the good bugs that come in to help compost get eaten by the birds adding organic protein to their diet.  I benefit by having some first rate compost to add to my gardens- not to mention the tastiest eggs you ever had!

So, with muckers on my feet and a mask on my face (no matter how well managed a flock is, there will always be dust) I was busily cleaning out the old litter from the nesting boxes and breaking up the compacted litter on the floor with my trusty shovel.  I found a new use for the cardboard that makes its way onto our farm.  It is great for putting in the nesting boxes to keep the fresh litter from dropping through the air holes in the bottom of the nesting boxes.  This saves the girls in the lower row of boxes from getting showered with shavings or little bits of hay. Once the cardboard has served its purpose it can go directly to the compost pile and become a piece in the organic gardening chain.  I have also began to add surplus herbs to the boxes and coop floor.  This adds nutrients to the girls diet and add a fresh scent to the coop.

Now, I was in need of some new litter for the hen house floor.  Usually, by this time of year I have plenty of leaves to rake and deposit in the coop.  However, due to the drought we suffered summer before last, we have lost quite a few trees.  It seems that the trees we lost were the first to loose their leaves in the fall because there weren’t enough leaves on the ground to  do the job.  Then I remembered that I had 3 bags of leaves left from my curb raiding last winter.  I will stop and throw bags of leaves into my truck that have been left at the curb to go to the landfill.  You know you may have crossed some sort of threshold when your composting habits cause you to so such things.  But, I need organic matter and the landfill does not- so why waste those wonderful leaves?

While I was busy emptying the bags and congratulating myself on being so clever, I failed to notice that the last bag was filled with ants.  I was completely unaware until I was bit on my hand- inside my glove- that I had a problem.  When I looked down I had ants all over my boots and my jeans.  Thus began the dance to get them off.  To anyone who may have seen me I am sure I looked goofier that any of my birds!  Once I began feeling bites under my shirt I gave up on knocking them off and made a beeline for the house.  Shucking any and all clothing permissible on the porch, I lost know time getting inside to shed the rest.

You see, once I felt the bite under my shirt all I could think about was the possibility that I could have ants biting me on parts of my person that do not ever see sunlight.  Only mildly crossing my brain was the thought that I should not strip completely down in the utility room due to the fact that my eleven year old son was somewhere in the house and I did not want him scared for life.  I did make it to my bedroom before I was finally free of my ant infested clothing.  Thankfully, I only suffered a few bites under my clothing and none where the sun don’t shine!

A silver laced Wyandotte looking for bugs with her friends. They will also eat ants, so I will though a bunch of scratch into the coop and those ants won’t know what hit them!


So what is your favorite day of the week?  Do you have the joy of having farm animals?  If so, what are they?


Our Food For Thought…

As we homeschool, great emphasis is place on character and knowing God.  One of the best ways to get to know God is to read the book He wrote.  Each week I choose a verse that the Sierra and Jonathan will use as their copy work and handwriting lessons.  This takes care of two things- scripture memory and handwriting.  Most weeks, the verse comes from Proverbs.  Proverbs is a book filled with simple, one line instructions on how to live, treat each other, and relate to God.  The best way to change nasty attitudes is to change the stinking thinking with the truth.  Proverbs has lots to say about the heart and the mouth.

I have always been able to find a scripture to address any problem that I have ever faced in training my children.  Lately, bickering has been a problem so this weeks scripture is about bickering.  Now, when ever they start in on each other I can say “What does the Bible say about that?”  Then, they can quote this back to me and the bad activity is quelled.  Does this mean that once we learn this we never have to go back and re-teach it?  No, kids brains leak out of their ears while they sleep, so you have to put back what they lost the next day.  For this reason, we stay on one scripture for one to two weeks.  In this way, their minds are renewed and filled with truth.  Then later on in life, when their Spirit wants to do what is right and their flesh wants to do what is wrong and it is up to their souls to break the tie, there will be truth stored up in the heart for them to chose what is right.  If there is no truth on file, the flesh will win out.  I have seen very good fruit in my older two children who are now in college and a senior in high school and I know that the Word of God made all the difference.

I painted the end of my kitchen island with chalkboard paint. This is a perfect place to put our Scripture of the Week.

The Scents of Home

My grandmother & my sister Windy. Grandmother has made a lot of memories for a lot of us.

“Nothing recalls the past so potently as a smell, ” Winston Churchill.

How true this statement is, nothing can take you back like a smell.  Everyone in my family- I’m talking all those descended from my great-grandmother, about 20- think of her, Katie Mae Hoops or MawMaw to us all, whenever we smell a certain rose scent.  She loved roses, they were planted in her garden, she kept rose scented air freshener by Wizard at all times, and her lotion was Rose Milk.  Needless to say, every grand kid and great-grandkid had to spray the air freshener thus imprinting that scent with that equally memorable woman.

I realized how strong a scent memory can be long before MawMaw was a memory brought back by roses.  One day I opened a medicine cabinet and immediately thought of my great-grandfather- Papa, who happened to be married to the rose loving MawMaw.  I was fortunate enough to have some memories of him, but given that he passed away when I was only 6, those memories were limited.  There are two distinct memories, though. One was from the evenings when we spent the night.  Family was always plentiful and there would be cots and pallets laid out all over the house.  As I would be getting into mine he would say, “Goodnight, Irene”  I thought this was so funny given that my name was Holly and not Irene.  What can I say, I was and still am easily amused.  The second memory is from the morning.  I am an early bird, but on those mornings at their farm I would stay in my cot until he came in.  I just had to have him say, “Wake up, sleepy head.”  And then of course he would have to “count my ribs” to make certain I had not lost any while sleeping. A good batch of giggles for going to sleep and a good laugh for waking up, what more can a kid ask for?

So, I stood there looking into this medicine cabinet wondering why he popped into my head.  Then I noticed it.  The owner of the medicine cabinet wore the same aftershave or cologne that he had worn.  I thought is so unusual that for me to have so few memories of him, I could remember the scent of him.  I realized then how scents and aromas affect us.  Who has not felt comforted walking in from the cold to smell a favorite winter dish waiting in the kitchen.  To this day, a pot roast with potatoes and carrots makes me think of Sunday dinners, my mother frequently made that so it was ready when we got home from church. Our nose is a powerful thing.

It may seem odd, but given the above mentioned memories, I have been very purposeful concerning scents in our home.  I wear a rose scented perfume, rose scented bath products and try to keep rose scented sachets in my clothes closet.  Years from now I want the scent of a rose to bring memories back of me- a woman that loved my children and grandchildren and great grandchildren more than anything in the world.

Scents in the kitchen are important also.  I cook a lot and there are certainly family favorite recipes.  I love a house full of good scents that will remind my children that some always has and always will care for them.  My grandmother is a wonderful cook.  I come from stock that likes to feed people.  If you are sad- we feed you.  If you are happy- we feed you.  If you are lonely- we feed you.  Just about anything makes for a good reason to feed you.  So, needless to say there are many aromas associated with her kitchen.  All of them tied to memories of being loved and loving those around me.

Creating a home filled with happy memories is a priority for me and should be for all mothers.  The home hinges on us, the mothers, wives, keepers of the home.  Think about what you love to smell.  Think about what you love to remember.  Now, think about what you want your children to remember.  These are the things worth making time for in our daily lives.  Soccer games will be forgotten, all various awards assemblies will be forgotten along with all those many events that had no eternal value, but what went on in your home will be remembered for all the next generation.  Lets get busy making good memories for our kids.

What is you favorite scent?  Why?

The First Eagle To Fly…

Cheyenne Kay in her new room

Today was a big day in the Ross household.  The first of our four children moved out.  Now, it was just down the highway a bit to Athens, Texas and Trinity Valley Community College, but it was a really big step.  It feels so odd as I sit here and type this knowing that she will not be coming home tonight or tomorrow… Of course, she will be back, after all, the college food holds no comparison to my home cooking.

There were only a few misty eyes for us today.  I had a good cry yesterday and got it all out of my system.  I don’t grieve that she is leaving, I am happy for her.  I grieve because a season of my life that I really enjoyed is coming to a close.  I am more than half-way done with the “raising” of my children.  There are no more preschoolers, no chubby thighs that I get to squeeze & kiss, no bellies painted to look like Indians with squished up berries as paint, & no more kiddos that will sit on the counter while I cook (now, they do the cooking which is not so bad)- those days are over.  But, what a GREAT ride it was.  I do miss Cheyenne, but to want her to stay would only be selfish on my part.  I was entrusted with an amazing gift and now I get to watch as she takes flight.

And taking flight she is!  She has earned a spot on the TVCC show team and got herself a job as a ranch hand at TVCC’s ranch all the while making A’s in her ag classes.  For those of you who know Cheyenne, you know that she is in her element!  Another great perk of the really  nice dorms that she calls home is that her room over looks the practice field for the football team.  Her deep brown eyes just lit up when we raised the blinds and saw the goal posts. She & I had a really great day, I loved every minute of it! I am really impressed with Cardinal Hall.  What a really nice layout the rooms have and they also have their own bathroom with separate vanities.  This dorm is brand-new and didn’t even have that peculiar smell that usually resides in old dorms seeming to have a life of its own.  She just doesn’t know what she is missing!

Speaking of missing, I maybe missing her and her dad may be missing her, but her sisters- not so much.  Cheyenne hadn’t even made it out the door before Sierra was taking up residence in her old room.  Apparently Sierra wasn’t moving fast enough- for Savannah was moving Sierra’s things out of their once shared room while Sierra was doing her chores.  Ever heard the phrase, “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out”?  That was pretty much the atmosphere around here.  You could just feel the love oozing.  Jonathan, however, maybe missing her, too.  He gave her a Lego figurine to take with her.  A twelve year old boy doesn’t part with legos thoughtlessly.  The significance was not lost on Cheyenne, the little guy is now sitting on her desk in the dorm room.  Jonathan’s pain was eased by the fact that he is on his first Boy Scout camp-out this weekend.  He was all smiles when I dropped him off this evening.

So, here I sit the newest member of the group of parents that have adult children.  Wow, how the time flies by!  I am very pleased with the person that left my home as an adult.  I could not have asked for more.  Proud just doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel.  Now, I hear that not only will I get used to having the kids leaving home but I will actually grow to like it.  Thankfully, Cheyenne’s dad is also my best friend and I look forward to sharing an empty nest with him- even though that is still a few years away and I intend to squeeze every bit of fun out of the years left with children in my home.

These milestones come regardless- might as well celebrate & enjoy them all.


Zuccinni-Corn Fritters- Mmmmm Good

Today was a full day- as they all are.  Mondays are spent at home most usually.  After the weekend I always need to regroup and put the house back together.  It is after 8pm as I write this and I could probably still fill another 8 hours with things that need doing.  But, that is just the norm.  I have also found that the first day of the week sets the tone for the rest of the week.  So, we focus on our school work, get the menus made for the week, and layout the chore schedules.

So, with 10 loads of laundry washed, sorted, and delivered to the kid’s rooms, we can start the week with clean clothes and empty hampers.  The menu for the week was done and groceries bought.  I had a recipe that I had been wanting to try, so it went on the menu.  Lately, I haven’t been able to try a lot of new recipes because of the time it takes to make the new ones has just not been available. However, thanks to Tony and a strained back (a whole other blog), I have been delegating dinner preparation to each of the kids and even Tony has been taking a turn he has always offered but I preferred to do it my way despite the fact that he cooks good food.  I am impressed with just how good of cooks my children are!  This has also allowed me more free-time in the kitchen to be creative again.  Anyway, Tony did steaks tonight and I thought it would be a good time to try out the recipe for zucchini-corn fritters.  I must say, they were good.  I didn’t get a picture of them before the plate was clean.  Clean clothes and full tummies- a good way to start the week.

These fritters remind us of the fried cornbread that my grandmother makes.  I never got the hang of the fried cornbread, but these turned out great.

The recipe is below, I hope you give these a try.  I also hope that you get to make them with zucchini from your own garden next spring.

Zucchini -Corn Fritters

serves 6-8

2 medium zucchini, coarsely shredded

Kosher salt

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 small onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves- minced

2 ears of corn, kernels cut off

1/2 cup cornmeal

1/2 cup flour

1/4 tsp baking soda (or baking powder- I do not like the taste of baking soda)

freshly ground pepper

3/4 cup buttermilk

1 large egg

olive oil for frying


1. Toss shredded zucchini with 1/2 tsp salt.  Let stand for 10 min. Wrap zucchini in a towel and squeeze dry.

2. Heat the butter in large non-stick skillet.  Add onion cook until clear and softened about 4 minutes, add corn and garlic cook about 3 minutes. Set aside

3. Whisk cornmeal, flour, baking soda, 3/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper in a medium bowl.
Whisk the buttermilk and egg together in a large bowl, then stir in corn mixture and zucchini.  Add cornmeal mixture, stir just until combined.

4. heat oil in large skillet, working in batches, pour a scant 1/4 cup of batter into the frying pan.  Use the back of the ladle to smooth out the fritter.  Cook until fritters are golden brown on each side- about 3-4 minutes per side.  drain and serve hot.


Ohh so good!  What is your favorite way to cook zucchini?


So Many Herbs, How Do I Choose?

A wonderful looking herb with lots of great benefits.

Of all the plants we offer in our shop, herbs definitely draw the most attention.  And for good reason, the uses are too many to list, most are extremely hardy, and they are beautiful.  For a beginner gardener, herbs are a great place to start because of the ease of growing.

Before I get into the different aspects of herb gardening, I would like to clarify some vocabulary words.  Herbs are generally grown in all temperate regions of the planet.  For the most part, it is the aerial parts, roots, and blossoms of these plants that are used for cooking, medicine, and fragrance.  Spices, on the other hand, are grown around the equator and it is the seeds that are used for the fragrance, cooking, and medicinal qualities.  But then to muddy the waters, you have some plants that are both.  Cilantro is an herb as you use the leaves in your cooking but, if you let it go to seed then you have Coriander- a spice.  Now, some herbs are herbaceous and some are not.  Herbaceous mean that the plant parts die back to the ground each winter and the roots put out new plants each spring.

Now, let’s get planting.  Regardless if your yard or garden is shady, full sun or somewhere in between, there are herbs for you to grow.  The things to consider as you choose you plants are their origin, water requirements, growth habits,  and their function.  Each of these factors will determine what plants you choose and where you put them.  If given a little bit of research, you will be amazed at the wide variety and functions that herbs provide.  Not only will you derive great joy from your herbs, but the good bugs will love them, too.  Basically any herb that flowers is a favorite of butterflies, hummingbirds, and ladybugs.

Understanding where herbs come from will tell you a lot about the growing conditions they will need.  If a plant originates in the Mediterranean region, you can bet it will be a tough plant that has relatively low water requirements, sun loving, and tolerant of poor soils.  Lavender, Rosemary, and Oregano are examples of such plants.  I had a Rosemary plant that doubled in size in the worst drought in Texas history with no extra water.  Needless to say, when folks come to me asking about tough shrubs that will tolerate our heat- I recommend Rosemary.  On the other end of things, if a plant is naturally found in moist woodlands, you will need to provide a shady spot with rich soil for that herb.  Goldenseal is an example, due to over-harvesting in the wild, Goldenseal is in danger and there is a great need for gardeners to grow this herb.  Their origins also point to their water requirements.  Obviously, you don’t want to put a plant that likes dry conditions with a plant that needs regular watering.  Thus, mint and lavender are not good roomies.  Mint with Calendula or Pineapple Sage are good choices, with Lavender, Sage, and Rosemary being good buddies with oregano acting as a ground-cover in a sunny spot.

Just as you would plant a flower garden with tall plants being at the back and low growers being located at the front, these same considerations need to be given to the growth habits of herbs.  There are so many sizes and shapes to choose from along with blossom color, scent, and function.  Let your imagination be free, there are no rules.  If you like the formal gardens with clipped boxwood as edgings, then plant that type of garden.  For those of you with free spirits drawn to the rambling, free forms of plants then plant away and enjoy the seed heads blowing and nodding in the breezes.  Joy is one of the great harvest reaped from herbs.  Some things you plant will die.  Don’t let that discourage you, plant again.  If it lives and thrives, plant more of it.

Beans, and Texas natives make good companions with herbs.

Herbs I love in Texas:

Thyme- creeping lemon, Sage (Salvia Officinallis), Italian Oregano, Lemon Balm, Lavender- English, Spanish, & Fern Leaf, Citronella, Mints, Salad Brunet, Parsley, Texas Tarragon,  Roses, Lemongrass, Anise Hyssop, Borage, Dandelion, Dill to name a few.

Here are some other article on herbs:,

Summer’s End Herbs,    The Farm On Holly’s Hill: Could You Use A Little More “Thyme”?,  

Dill- an easy herb,

What is your favorite herb?  Tell me about your gardens, I love to learn from other gardeners.

Sierra + Birthday= Chicken Jalepeno Soup

That is a lot of candles! She blew them all out in one try, make your wish

My third daughter, Sierra Anne, turned 13 this past January.  My how time does fly.  Sierra is very petite, but don’t let her size fool you.  She is a firecracker.  But, she is every bit as sweet as she is feisty.

When it is your birthday on the farm, you don’t have to do your chores.  The other siblings chip in and get them done.  All of the kids like this perk.  I also cook the birthday person’s favorite meal for dinner.  So, on her night we will be having chicken jalapeno soup.  What is funny about this recipe, it that I leave out the Jalapenos!  Cheyenne and I like it hot, but we are about the only ones, if only 2 out of 6 like it I will tone it down.  No matter, this soup is still awesome!  Sierra also has a thing for jello.  She will choose the Chinese food place in town just for the jello, the food there is not that great.  So, I told her that I would get her some jello- one flavor for every day of the week.

The birthday banner goes up and stays up for about a week.  Why not?  I am so glad that God sent these wonderful people to be my children, so why not let the celebrating linger on?  Birthdays are fun and we enjoy them. Regardless if people admit it or not, everyone likes to have a fuss made on their birthday.  It feels good to know that there is someone who is delighted that on that certain day in history, you entered this world.

Here is the recipe for the birthday girl’s favorite food:

Chicken Jalapeno Soup
1 whole chicken
1 tbsp of olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
garlic clove

To the broth add:
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
2 cups cream (half/half will work great, plain milk is ok, but not nearly as creamy)
2- 4 oz cans of green chillies
1 jalapeno seeded and chopped
1/2 cumin
1 lb velveeta cubed.

Boil chicken until tender, remove from broth (save broth- you should have about 8 cups add water if you don’t), pull chicken from bone and tear into small pieces

In skillet heat oil and cook onions until clear, add garlic and cook for about 1 minute.  Add onions to broth, then add the ingredients listed above except the velveeta.  Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add velveeta and cook over low heat until melted.  Stir in chicken and cook on low until warmed through.  Serve, this tastes great with cornbread.

Sisters, Savannah and Cheyenne teamed up for this cake

Homemade Soup- so good!

The family enjoying homemade soup and NCIS Los Angeles

If there is one meal that speaks comfort to me, it is a bowl of homemade soup with cornbread.  My mom made this soup a lot when we were growing up and it was probably the first recipe I learned to make.  I have memories of making it when I was 5.  You may not believe me, but I did!  I have lots of preschool memories, plenty from 2 and 3 years of age.

The memory that stands out regarding the homemade soup is from Kindergarten.  While in kindergarten, my Grandad and Uncle Kenny picked me up from school and kept me while my mother ran her afternoon bus route.  I absolutely adored both of those men and loved seeing them waiting for me after school.  One of those days the subject of dinner came up.  I informed them that I could cook homemade soup and they let me.  This must have  been one of the reasons that I loved hanging out with them, they let me do a lot that my mother would not have turned me loose on.

Homemade soup is a simple affair with basic ingredients, which is usually the case with comfort food.  One pound of ground meat and chopped potatoes boiled fork tender are the base of the soup. After that, its any one’s game.  Mostly, corn, green beans, English peas, carrots and stewed tomatoes are added.  At this time, canned veggies were common place in the kitchen and because they are already cooked, once the meat is browned and potatoes boiled, it is just a matter of assembly and bringing to a boil.  I had watched my mother do it many times and I am sure that she had let me pour in the cans of vegetables.

I have no idea how long it took me to peel the potatoes and brown the meat.  However, I received no burns or cuts, so it must have been going pretty well.  Just before I was getting ready to pour the veggies in the pot, Uncle Kenny  came in the kitchen.   Now in my five year old brain, I knew that you didn’t pour off the water in the cans of vegetables because this juice has lots of vitamins in it as did the water that held the potatoes.  What did not compute in my little brain was that all the contents of the cans, the pot, and the browned meat would not fit in the stock pot I was using.  Kenny walked in and saw what was going to happen if I attempted to put all this in the same pot.  Now, I was fit to be tied that he had come in the kitchen and was insisting on draining the canned veggies!

To fully understand just how mad I was, you would have had to have had first hand knowledge of what it was like to be Kenny Ray’s niece.  He hung the moon as far as I was concerned.  But, he would pick and aggravate until you were ready to inflict bodily harm.  The problem was that, being about a dozen years older than me, he was too big for me to actually do any damage- except to myself.  Like one time, I was so infuriated with him that I decided that I was going to kick him in the shin.  That was a great idea until he lifted his foot up and I kicked the bottom of his cowboy boot.  My toes were black and blue for weeks.  Of course, I would start crying and run and tattle- only to be told ” Don’t come crying to me, you know what is going to happen when you start playing with Kenny, why do you keep going back?”  Why?  I don’t know, we just loved him.  He was kinda like chocolate, you just can’t leave it alone.  He was the Uncle all the little kids adored. Period.

So, he had a history of making me mad and as far as I was concerned this was just one more injustice at his hand.  Stomping angrily, I left the kitchen determined not to participate in the ruining of a perfectly good pot of soup.  In due time I was told dinner was ready.  Being hungrier than I was miffed, I went to get my soup.  As we sat in the living room watching tv- which would have either been cartoons or westerns depending on whether or not he picked the program or I did- we ate our soup in silence.  After a few minutes, he looked over at me and said, “Now, isn’t this good soup?”  To which I replied, “I’ve had better”  I can still remember the look of shock and humor in his eyes and then he replied, ” So have I, but if we hadn’t drained the water it would have overflowed.”  The truth was, as much as I hated to admit it, it was good soup.  I loved it, but I just couldn’t give him the satisfaction of telling him so.

If you doubt that a five year old is capable of all this and remembering, you just don’t know me.  I did and if you ask any of my cousins you will know that everything I have said about Kenny is the honest to God truth.  Between Uncle Kenny and my mom’s homemade soup, I had a very rich childhood.

Uncle Kenny, still a favorite with the nieces and nephews!

Recipe for Homemade Soup

1 lb of ground meat or ground turkey
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 medium potatoes peeled and chopped
2-3 cups of mixed veggies- any kind you like
1- 13 once can of stewed tomatoes
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp ground sage
1 tsp cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

In medium skillet, brown the ground met with the onions.  In an  8 qt stock pot or dutch oven (you can use a larger stock pot- then you don’t have to worry about over-filling) bring water and potatoes to a boil.  Add enough water to boil the potatoes, but not so much that you have to pour a lot off, because the water does have lots of nutrients in it.  If you are using fresh or frozen veggies, add them now.  Boil until the potatoes are fork tender.  Add the ground meat, stewed tomatoes  and veggies- if you are using canned or leftovers.  Add seasonings and more water or broth as needed to achieve the desired consistency.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes then let  cool a bit.  This soup is great with cornbread or crackers.

And Great Shall Be Their Peace

My four, Oh How I Love THEM!

There are many scriptures to which I cling like one would cling to a scrap of wood while floating in the sea filled with hungry sharks smelling blood in the water.  These have been my guide posts, the light at the end of the tunnel of motherhood, and the happy promises of what this life can be today.  I do believe Proverbs to be the best book for common sense, practical advice.  It has been from Proverbs that I have taken most of the scriptures that I have trained my children with and used to teach them how to function in this world.  But for encouragement, nothing beats the book of Isaiah.

Now, if you are familiar with the Bible or have been around the religious establishments, you may find this odd.  After all, this whole book of prophecy is about the Israelites blowing it once again and having judgement come down from heaven. But, that is what makes it so encouraging.  God has passed judgement on them and then He makes them these beautiful promises.  We all blow it every day, we fail to live up to the standard but take heart, God makes us so many great and mighty promises in spite of ourselves.  These promises were given to a people in the old testament before our Savior, Jesus Christ, had come to make right all the wrongs, but never the less, once we accept Jesus as our Savior all the promises become ours new and old testament.  All we have to do is believe Him.  For me, the chapter I have poured over has been chapter 54.  It is so great.

As I have walked through the years of parenting, one verse in particular has stood out as a huge ray of hope to me.  Isaiah 54:13 “All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children.”  Isn’t that great!  Who doesn’t want their children to be at peace?  This doesn’t mean without challenges, the Word is clear that we will have challenges on this earth, but through it all, great shall be the peace of my children.

The first translation I read this in said “Your children shall be taught of the Lord“. I took this to mean that I taught my children of the Lord and they would have peace.  A perfectly good and true thing to do.  But then I read it with the word “by the Lord” and I realized that I was not in this mothering thing alone, God was right there with me teaching my children about Himself, hallelujah!  Thank you Jesus.  How many of us know, left to our own devices we are not the mothers or fathers that we want to be and this whole parenting thing can, at times, be overwhelming?  I was so encouraged to know that the perfect Father was by my side- actively involved.

This revelation came to me back when my children were just preschoolers- the older two, the younger two were still just a glimmer in their father’s eye.  Now, those two are 19 and 17.  They are amazing, they have never rebelled, our house filled with teenagers (we have 3 in residence at this time) is not filled with anger or fighting, it is a home of peace because great is the peace of my children.  Does this mean that there is never any friction? No, there will be growing pains and friction as children become adults and are ready to move out on to their own.  This is normal.  What is not supposed to be normal is rebellion, anger, antagonistic behavior by both parents and teens.  God did not entrust me with these precious gifts for me to accept societies ways as “normal”.  We are a living testament that you can have a great time and a great peace with teenagers or preschoolers- the peace just looks different.

Some of you may wonder about the “how” to receive the promise of God.  This is how I would pray this scripture (and still do) over my children as they were growing up:

“Father, I thank you that your Word is true and you promise that “My children, Cheyenne, Savannah, Sierra & Jonathan, will be taught by You and GREAT will be their peace.  Thank you, Jesus, for the blood you shed on the cross to make this my promise. Thank you!”

Then when all hell wants to break loose in your home- You remember this prayer and repeat it.  You cling to the promise regardless of what you see in front of your face.  Our children’s flesh does not always- hardly ever- want to cooperate with the Word of God or you, but hold tight and you will reap a harvest of PEACE!