In The Eye of the Storm

During my lifetime, I have encountered many changes, witnessed a few miracles, seen devastation, had my fair share of surprises, blessed to have more happy times than I can count, encountered more than enough sadness, but I have never encountered a time like our world is facing today. A friend of mine made a recent Facebook post about feeling as if she were living in a dystopian society. After considering this statement for a few minutes, and being well-read in the dystopian genre, I found myself agreeing with her.

As I set here this morning drinking coffee and counting my blessings I also began to reflect on the events that are happening in our state, across the nation, and all over the world. We have entered a time of many unanswered questions, many predictions of which some have proven to be accurate, while others remain just predictions.

This week as I was reassuring my students and trying to alleviate their fear about the massive changes that they have encountered in less than week, I was gently reminded that our hope lies within our heavenly Father. I began to council them that all would be well, and that our school, the state, and all of the professors were working together to make sure this time of uncertainty would not hinder their coursework, or their graduation. I recalled reading a post on face book from one of my favorite children’s authors and began to provide them with examples and a comparison to the novel, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, which we are currently reading in our class. I have to give credit where credit is due. This wonderful children’s novel is one of my favorite Kate DiCamillo books, and was always a favorite of my students when I taught in the public school. In this wonderful children’s novel, the character of Edward travels on a long journey of uncertain events, new adaptations, and meets many new characters along the way. This heart-warming novel is also a novel of self-discovery for Edward, who grows immensely in many ways while traveling on this uncertain, yet miraculous journey.

I began to think about the journey that lies ahead of each of us, our families, and our neighbors. We are not on this journey alone, much like Edward wasn’t. I reassured them during this time, each of us needed to take time to rediscover and maybe even re-evaluate our principles, our religious beliefs, relationships, and our goals for life. I too, took my own advice and did a little soul-searching. I also realized that there will be days of uncertainty ahead of us, unanswered questions, and a menagerie of emotions that I, as well as others, will encounter. I also realized that I would have to be strong for my family, my children, grandchildren, husband, mother, my students, and my neighbors. I know that I cannot carry the load for all, but I can lighten their load a little, without increasing mine.

When my students began to think about the situation that we are facing and comparing the situations that the character of Edward faced, they began to delve deeper into the text, their fears subsided, and they were inspired that they would be okay at the end of this difficult journey, just like Edward was. I know, and they know, that life is not a fictional fairytale where a happy ending is commonly found. However, as a result of our comparison, our analyzation, and our discussion my students, as well as myself felt a sense of relief, accomplishment, and were inspired to take our newly found message out to others that God is still in control.

I encourage each of you to take the time that you have been given at home to love your family, yourself, and to dig deep into your own self-discovery. Re-evaluate your relationship with your family, yourself, and with your creator. Make this a time of self-discovery, new discoveries, and a time to love your family. Be strong and be there for them. Take time to read, study the word, and pray. This is a time more than any other time in my lifetime where prayer is warranted. Be the prayer warrior that others can rely on. Be the neighbor that can take a covered dish and leave it at the doorstep of your elderly neighbor, check on friends through social media, phone calls, or even FaceTime them, which gives allows them to realize that you are there for them.

Through all of the unanswered questions, uncertainty’s, and all of the worrying, I am reminded of a prophetic word that our church received quite some time ago. The words that were revealed to our church were simply, “preparation time.”

Members, as well as our Pastor, wondered if this meant a great revival, souls dedicating their lives to the Lord, preparing for the unexpected, or even still…all of the above. We, as a church, prayed for answers and prepared in a variety of ways. We have seen a spiritual revival break out within the hearts of our congregation and in our church, souls have been added to our church, and now we are facing uncertain days with many unexpected changes and unanswered questions looming over all of us, but we feel better prepared than we would have a year ago. We have been reminded that the Lord has been and continues to be with us, even in the eye of the storm.

I hope you enjoy this post. Feel free to comment and or follow. Wishing you a safe and wonderful Memorial weekend and day. God bless from the mountains of Kentucky!

The One Who Makes All Things Possible

Good morning from the mountains of Kentucky. I awoke this morning with the thoughts of miracles on my mind. The miracles that only come from above. After, a morning cup of coffee and a little Bible study I walked outside to enjoy some of the fresh mountain air and the unique smell that lingers here in the mountains after a summer rain, which is just another one of the simple pleasures that I love about living in the Appalachian Mountains.

Mornings in the Appalachian Mountains

A feeling of gratitude and blessings washed over me as I absorbed my surroundings. The fog lingered over the upper field and raindrops from the nighttime shower still clung to the green blades of grass. Breathing in a deep breath of the fresh mountain air, I whispered a thank you to our Heavenly Father, “Thank you for blessing me with another day.”

The mountains seemed more vibrant and alive than the day before. Yet, another reminder of why I call these mountains home. I’ve always felt secure being in the mountains, even as a little girl, I loved the mountains and the many adventures that awaited me. It’s hard to explain, but they have always given me an unexplainable feeling of comfort and security. The older I get, the more I realize I feel even closer to the Lord when I’m outside walking within the nurturing comfort of the mountains that surround our home and talking to Him.

The lonesome call of the doves stirred me from my thoughts and reminded me of my intended purpose outside. I had gone outside for a breath of fresh air and to give my herbs a little tender loving care. While I watered the tender herbs, they again reminded me that there’s no place like home. The fragrant leaves reminded me of days gone by that I cherish more now than ever before. Days that were carefree and full of adventure running through my grandparents fields of corn, looking for buried treasures buried along the creek bank, and romping through the hills in search of the next big adventure. The comforts of home, quiet time with the Lord, and reminiscing about days gone by help me to deal with tough days that face all of us.

The rocking chair seemed to call my name to come and sit for a while. Resting in the morning air I reflected on the rough weeks that were now behind us and the difficult ones that lie ahead of us. I was also reminded of the lifetime ahead of us. Of course there would be hard days, but I expected many days to be filled with joy, victories both large and small, some tough times and many happy times. With morning silence came a feeling of determination. The gentle whisper in the morning breeze seemed to say, “Hold on, it will be okay.”

I am always amazed at how the Lord get’s His message across to us. Sometimes it’s through his written word, sometimes through a prophetic message, a sermon, a friend, and sometimes He speaks through a gentle breeze. I felt more determined than ever to stay close to the Lord and press in as there seemed to be a spiritual warfare unlike any other I’ve known in my forty years as a Christian. I am reminded of my grandmother’s wise words, work while it’s day.

I will continue to pray while I have breath, and believe with all of my heart for those that are suffering from disease, afflictions, addictions, and loss. I am believing for my mother to regain her strength, her bones to heal, and for her spirit to be rejuvenated and revived. As I sat there in the still of the morning watching one of the yearly birds build its tiny nest, I was reminded of His small miracles that happen every day. I am also reminded to count my blessings one by one, both big and small. Even though it’s been a tough semester, unexpected struggles have occurred, my mom falling, which resulted in multiple broken bones, a long recovery that’s still underway and many other unexpected events in our lives… I am still blessed. We are still abundantly blessed. We are alive!

Sometimes the Lord gets our attention boldly, while other times in a gentleness that impacts and reaches to the depths of our soul. For me this morning, the gentle breeze, the magic of a new morning, dew that sparkles like diamonds on the grass and on the leaves, the silent vapor that lingered over the creek water and dissipated before my very eyes, and the gentle cooing of the doves reminded me to take my eyes off of what seems impossible, and remember who makes all things possible.

Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. Feel free to leave comments. I love to hear from my readers. Click follow to be notified of new posts. God bless from the mountains of Kentucky!

Winter in the Mountains

Winter has arrived full force in the mountains of Kentucky this week. Just when the countdown until spring has begun, winter rears it’s almost unfamiliar head. Winter can be rough in the mountains, and we’ve had our fair share of rough winters, but considering our winter weather for the past few years, we really can’t complain. During the past few days we’ve transitioned from sleet to, rain, back to freezing rain, and now snow. I feel humbled and blessed that I am one of the fortunate people that can work from home and do not have to travel. Because of my blessings, I feel compelled to check on others, pray for those that have to travel, the first-responders, homeless, and the elderly. It’s during times like this that I appreciate my mountain roots, heritage, cultural ways, and the knowhow of how to survive hard times such as those that we live in today more than ever.

The ice is clinging to the trees in the mountains.

With winter weather also comes the desire to cook, which I think is a cultural thing as well. As far back as I can remember when snow started flying in the air, laying on the ground, and filling the trees, someone was cooking. Cooking what? Veggie soup, chili soup, pinto bean better known in the mountains as soup beans, and always a side of cornbread. This was only a few family cavities! Some may think that vegans and or clean eaters can’t enjoy tasty dishes or cultural meals. However, being a clean-eating vegan doesn’t mean that I have to sacrifice flavor or my favorite foods. No, I still enjoy savory meals that I’ve always enjoyed, only a healthier version of them.

So, what’s on the menu for this bitter cold and blustery day? Organic soup beans, cooked in the insta pot without oil, but with plant based beyond bullion base. This great tasting base also decreases the amount of salt that’s needed to flavor many dishes. I use this base when I saute mushrooms, I add it to soups, beans of all kinds, and more. I’ll bake cornbread for my husband and plan to make myself roasted potatoes. I discovered along this high-starch journey I could line a sheet pan with parchment paper, spritz the cubed potatoes with vegetable broth, season them and cover them with aluminum foil and after they’ve reached the desired tenderness, I place them for the final minutes under the broiler and allow the potatoes to crisp up. What I discovered is that the potatoes are crispy and tasty. I also occasionally place them in the air fryer, spritz and season, and air fry for a faster dish of roasted potatoes. To add to the deliciousness m, I’ll add a side of sour kraut, which I canned last year, and maybe a skillet of mustard greens stirred up with diced mushrooms, more of the vegetable base, and finally a crumbled tofu to replace the scrambled eggs. This is a supper that is mountain worthy, culturally acceptable, vegan friendly, and filled with starches and high-powered greens. The only thing that makes this dish better is a jar of my canned red tomatoes chilled and served on the side. An all clean, organized, healthy, and tasty on this cold snowy day!

A great source of seasoning that adds a lot of flavor!

Eating vegan, plant-based, and healthy does not mean that you have to sacrifice flavor, culture, or deny your family who doesn’t follow a vegan diet. What I have learned along this journey is most of the time my husband doesn’t realize I prepare the mustard greens without oil, without eggs, and limited to no salt. He still brags on the taste, reaps the reward of less oil, and salt, and also that he loves sauteed portabella mushrooms. He still indulges in cornbread, but often made with less oil, egg replacement, and almond milk. The bread is still tasty, and he eats it without complaining about lack of flavor, but often brags on how tasty it is. Many times we think we need more salt, or we need to add a splash more of oil, or some other fat, when in reality we just need to focus on the flavor of the food…not the seasoning. One of the greatest benefits he has discovered is that a plant-based diet is much better for his gout, which is an entirely different post for later.

Snow and ice fill the trees and the mountains.

For now, I’m off to put beans in the insta pot, grade assignments, tidy the house up, and catch up on a little reading while snuggling beneath my favorite quilt in my favorite chair. I am so thankful for a warm home and knowing that my family is safe at home. I will also enjoy my favorite coffee, the spectacular view of the snow-covered mountains that lies just beyond my windows, and all the comforts of home. Blessings from the snow-covered mountains of Kentucky. I have found that in an impersonal world filled with more struggles than I can recall, a high-tech technology world where social media has replaced much of the personal communication that we once cherished, not to mention the uncertainty of the pandemic, I cherish the simple things in life more than ever before.

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Finding Joy During Uncertainty

It’s been a while since I have posted. I’ve been working on this post for a few weeks, but kept encountering interruptions, or starting over to find the right words, and still just setting it aside to work on later. Sometimes I’m not the best at multi-tasking. I have been in a routing of focusing on what needs to be done first, which often results in me neglecting my blog that I enjoy so much. Life has been very different since the outbreak of COVID. We’ve encountered many changes along the away and have had to learn to adapt, and in some cases still adapting as it seems every day brings about new changes and a new, or resurrected sense of uncertainty. I, like many of you, have gone through a roller coaster of emotions with the changes and devastation that have occurred in our world within the last year. My emotions ran amuck from fear and worry to joy, and so the cycle continued for weeks that turned into the months. However, all change that has occurred in my life hasn’t been a fearful change, or a change that came with a dread. No, life is not perfect, nor will it ever be. But, change can bring a freshness, personal growth, and also time to rise up to the challenges, goals, or tasks that we’ve put on the back burner far to long ago. It’s time to find beauty in the ashes!

A peaceful time of prayer while admiring God’s creation.

The way we socialize, shop, worship, educate, vacation, and even dine out have all encountered changes in one way or another. However, I was reminded several months ago of the words given to me by a previous boss. Things were continually changing with the district where I taught, and if you are an educator, parent of school-aged children, or work in the public school system, you know about change. He simply stated, “change is good.” He further explained that we could take what felt like an uncomfortable change, a scary journey, or a dread and turn it to our good, and to our student’s good. Shame on me! I had neglected the wise words from a long-time friend from many years ago. Why had I not used those same words and applied them to our situation today. Please don’t misunderstand. I am not saying that this wicked virus is good by any means. But, what I am saying is that with all of the changes we’ve encountered…also came time. Time, that I seemed to lack when life was rushing by so quickly. It was time to rediscover and renew my prayer life, my creativity, bring a sense of newness to my classes, encourage and bring hope to our students, and bring hope to our family.

These changes would occur one day at a time, overcoming one obstacle at time, living in the day and being thankful for the time that I have. I would not waste time sitting and worrying, wondering about what the future held, when would all the sickness end, or when life would get back to normal? Key word here is, life. I was reminded that I was allowing life to slip away, right before my very eyes. Think about it, for those old enough, it seems we turn around and twenty years of our lives have vanished. We’re left asking ourselves questions such as; What did we do with those twenty years? Were they spent feeling sorry for ourselves, living in constant fear, complaining, spending far too much time on social media, which by the way will deplete our joy, if we allow it to. Or were days, months, and or years spent doing things that we love to do? Were we spending time bettering ourselves through meditation, prayer, reading, breathing the precious air that we have been gifted, spending time with family, or cherishing the life that we have been given?

Through this journey of change, I was also reminded wise words of my pastor’s wife shared. During one of the most difficult times in her life as she battled for her very life of having diverse diseases the doctors thought would take her life, she had a profound encounter with the Lord. While feeling down and or discouraged one day, she felt the Lord express the following question; are you going to sit there and die or get up and live? I have pondered this question many times since then, and actually asked it of myself, and asked others who were going through a rough time. Some might find it hard to believe that the Lord actually speaks to us, but let me say my friends that the Lord has a way of reaching us through His word, in our thoughts, a gentle breeze, kind words of others, in the lyrics of a song, in dreams and in many other individualized ways. It’s about believing and being willing to receive what He has for us that is so very important. It’s what we do with what He says, whether it be directly from Him in a still small voice, a prophetic word, that gentle breeze that stirs when we need reassuring, or from a bold statement such as my pastor’s wife and friend encountered. Fast forward, my pastor’s wife was healed over twenty years ago, and today is one of the busiest women that I know. But, she’s not too busy to neglect her duties as a pastor’s wife, a friend, a mother, grandmother, her career, and her sincerity as a prayer warrior.

Be strong, be bold, be steadfast, and together we’ll brave the storm.

She has shared those wise words with our church and myself often. In the early fall I was reminded of those words just when I was tired of being down-trodden, tired of living in fear, tired of doom and gloom, tired of negativity everywhere I turned, tired of feeling isolated, tired of politics, tired of what seemed like endless changes, tired of so much sickness, and simply tired of being tired. Her words resonated with me one morning as I sat quietly pondering the events that lay ahead of me. I was now teaching full time at home, advising from home, shopping from home, and doing almost everything from home. I needed a positive change. Was I going to sit here and die or was I going to get up and live. I whispered a quiet thank you Lord, for the gentle reminder that I wanted to get up, I wanted to live and make the most of the day that I had been given. I began to count my blessings. I counted the smallest and largest blessings. I found it difficult to count them all. I felt inspired to write them down. Anyone that knows me, knows I have a passion for journals. Quickly, I found just the right journal from among the many blank journals that I had stowed away in my office. I would make a gratitude journal. The pages were filling quickly, my load seemed lighter, and I felt a sense of control and positivity returning. I found that by writing and recording my blessing daily, it was more therapeutic, it was real, it was a reminder of the blessings that were being overlooked and shelved like a competed novel. This was an area that needed to be revisited daily, relived, and an area that needed to be a focus of a dark time in our world. There is light in the midst of the storm, there is hope, there is joy during the crying, there is God and He did not deserve to be shelved. Rereading the Bible daily became a time of joy, a time of learning, re-learning, and a time of connections. Seeking out new inspirational books to read, books that were filled with joy, hope, happiness, and testimonies of triumph became beneficial and an inspiration that I have been able to share with others. Making time to pray, meditate, and sometimes just sit quietly and reflect on the goodness that surrounded me, rather than watching the news, or browsing social media, became an even larger part of my daily routine, and one that I found myself looking more forward to every day. It was time to get up and take back what seemed to slowly be fading from my view. I was reminded that as long as we have breath, we have hope, and without hope we can’t have faith, and faith is what moves what feels like mountains. Faith will sustain us and help us overcome.

For me, preserving and finding and making time to do what I loved, to write, cook, create, spend time outside, read, prayer time, socialize, even if it’s by phone, or zoom, care for others who may be hurting, and simply counting daily blessings, brought joy during the times of uncertainty. No, life is not perfect, yes, changes are still occurring, and yes the virus is real. We have family and friends who have suffered the cold and vicious symptoms, some still battling the side-effects, and others who have lost their lives to this horrible disease. But, through it all we have had family who have overcome and won the battle with the virus, who have lived to help others, and who have become stronger in their faith as a result. We must find a positive in the negative and remember that change is good. The change that I have encountered through it all is a closer relationship with our savior and a new appreciation for the simple things that are too often taken for granted. I have learned to step back and count my blessings and recount them. I have learned to make time when we often say we don’t have time. I have decided to live by the wise words given to my pastor’s wife, I choose to get up and live rather than sit down and die physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Life is precious. I choose to make the most of it every day, even through the changes of uncertainty. Remember, no one can rob you of your joy. Happiness is a daily choice. I choose to dance in the rain, and find beauty in the ashes.

I’ll leave you with two book suggestions.

Love is Real written by Adam Reid. This is a book that will forever change your mindset and your life. Also, When Women Pray, by TD Jakes. This is a book that allows you to connect to the lives of prayer warriors in the bible, grow spiritually, learn how to persevere, and how to get up and keep living, even when life is hard and uncertain. Both books have made a profound impact on my life and helped intensify the desire to get up and live even more than before.

God bless each of you! As always, thank you for stopping by my blog. Feel free to leave comments or feedback. I love to hear from my readers. FYI…upcoming is a new recipe that I have been working to perfect. My family has enjoyed it thus far. If you love lemon, you’ll enjoy my new lemon trifle. I hope to post the recipe soon.