all the things, Uncategorized

Memaw’s Strawberry Preserves

Well, by May, we were all going stir crazy in this house, so we decided to take a little trip south of us to Verbena, Alabama.  They have a U-pick Strawberry field.  It was so fun, we picked 5 baskets full!  The last time I picked strawberries was with my momma and grandma.  I was in the second grade.  I distinctly remember them in the kitchen with our freshly picked fruit, the time together, and making strawberry preserves.  I have always wanted to do that with my kids, but we never seemed to have time to do it.  There is something about being made to slow down and your calendar all of a sudden cleared that allows you to do the things that always seem to get put off.  So, we set out early one morning to go strawberry picking.  

There is a simple little mahogany box sitting in my kitchen that my uncle made me for a wedding present twenty-seven years ago.   Inside are notecards with recipes on them.  My mother, my mother in law, and our aunts and grandmothers wrote their favorite recipes on those notecards and placed them inside the recipe box to give to us when Steve and I got married.  Several of our family members are no longer with us, and a dear, sweet aunt has Alzheimers.   We have our family recipes written in their handwriting inside that recipe box and I treasure it!  It just so happens that Steve’s mom wrote her strawberry preserves recipe on one of those cards and that is what Lauren and I used to make several batches with our newly picked strawberries.  After his first bite, Steve looked up with a big smile and said they tasted just like his mom’s.  He was so happy.  Lauren and I made a total of 18 jars!  I love that we have our family recipes to pass down to our children along with special memories. 

Memaw’s Strawberry Preserves

1 quart strawberries

1 cup sugar

pint size mason jars

Wash and cut up strawberries.  Put berries in large pot on stovetop.  Boil 5 minutes.  Add 1 cup sugar.  Boil 10 minutes.  Pour in sanitized jars and seal.  

all the things

What Do You Dispense?

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When they were younger, one of my kids’ favorite things were PEZ dispensers. Remember those?  I loved them, too.  I liked the sweet candies that popped out when you flipped the top up.  PEZ candy was first created in the 1920’s.  Did you know that in the 1960’s, some unusual candy flavors were featured?  Have you ever wanted to taste chlorophyll flavored candy?  Once upon a time, PEZ offered chlorophyll flavored PEZ.  Yep.  You also had the options of licorice, coffee, cola, or pineapple.  I sure am happy they had grape, lemon, and orange by the time I got my first PEZ!

Today I want us to think about what we dispense.  I woke up early one morning last week thinking about love and what God says about love.  The first fruit of the spirit mentioned in Galatians 5 is love.  As children of God, this product of the Holy Spirit lives inside every believer and as we grow spiritually, the holy spirit gives us the power to reject our sinful desires and begins to work in and through us to make us look more like Jesus.  By following the guidance of the holy spirit, fruit becomes evidence that we are becoming more like Christ.

Love is vital.  It is indispensable.  It is necessary to be effective in sharing love with others.  Romans 5:5-8 says His love is poured out abundantly in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.  That love is in us.  Sealed by the Holy Spirit as we see in Ephesians 1:13.  We should burn with the love of Christ, for without love, we cannot be effective in sharing that love with others, which is our entire reason for being here.  1 Corinthians 13:1-3 says, If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.  Without love, people tune us out.  We become unimportant to them, untrustworthy, and invalid.  To them, we have nothing of value to offer.  This is why it is so important to be in constant communion with the Lord, in His word and in prayer.  God’s presence breeds love, because God is love.  Perfect love.  And the closer we come to Him, the more consistently we feel His strength, His comfort, and His guidance.

I had the wonderful opportunity to lead worship at our Women’s Spring Retreat this year and it was such a blessing.  I enjoyed it so much, but to tell you the truth, I did not want to go.  When I was asked, I was in a deep pit of depression and had been for some time.  Finding myself in this all too familiar place was embarrassing and I stepped away from anything where I would be in front of anyone because I didn’t feel like I had anything positive to offer.  I feel like I make a mess of things.  If I feel like I hurt someone’s feelings or make someone angry, fear and avoidance take over and I find myself in a pit.  It took me several months to dig out of that pit and I was just starting to feel like myself again right before the retreat.  I would like to share with you what I learned about God’s love as I walked that journey.  Hopefully, it can help someone else.

One of my familys’ favorite movies is Star Wars.  I’ll never forget one of the many times watching the series.  Over Christmas break, we have been known to have a Star Wars movie marathon.  You know that famous Yoda quote:  Fear is the path to the dark side.  Fear leads to anger.  Anger leads to hate.  Hate leads to suffering.  I remember thinking, great,  I’m Darth Vader!  Lovely!

Seriously though.  Fear brings torment.  It really does.  When we are tormented, there is no love in torment.  It is actually quite ugly.  When we are fearful, many times we are irritable.  We lash out at the ones we love or at others.  1 John 4:18 says, There is no fear in love.  Perfect love casts out all fear.  God’s love is inside of you.  It is internal.  His perfect love casts out all fear.  Fear is going to come, but our response should be totally different than an unbeliever’s,

  1.  because of our prayer life.  We have a direct connection with God through His Holy Spirit living in us.  Prayer should be our first response, not our last resort.
  2.  because of our intimacy with God.  He speaks to His children through His word and through His Holy Spirit, and through others.

We cannot afford to allow fear to have a resting place because that will impede the flow of God’s love through us.  Our peace comes from God.  We have to remember that God is still on His throne.  What is true in the light is also true in the dark.  God tells us in His word, I will complete the good work that I began in you.  I will carry it on to completion and that all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose. We must focus on God and His promises for good things. Be still and know that I am God.  The Lord says, “I’ve got you.”  Whenever I start stinkin’ thinkin’, I have trained myself to stop in the middle of the negative thought and say, Whatever is true-  okay Cindy, what is true right now?  because I am worst case scenario girl.  I am.  Whatever it is on my mind that I am concerned about,  I’ve already got it playing through in my mind and somebody’s gettin’ a tongue lashing.  Well, hold up.  I don’t even know what’s gonna happen.  Do you even know how much time and energy I have wasted on worrying about how I think things are or aren’t?  Oh my goodness!   And, you know what?  Even if sometimes things were the way I thought.  She really was talking about me.  They really don’t like me.  The teacher really did forget to give Michael extra time and his grade is not good.  Whatever it is, God’s got it and my worrying about it is not what I am called to do.  One of my favorite songs right now is Like You Love Me by Tauren Wells.  The first verse and chorus are:

Always something trying to steal my mood
My crazy thoughts trying to kill my groove
That’s when I hear a voice, whisper through the noise
That brings a bigger picture into view
Whenever the clouds come into my mind
I won’t forget it’s You who tells the sun to shine
Every worry, every night
Every second thought about tomorrow’s wasted time (Ay)
You give the sparrows everything they need
You light the stars and You paint the leaves, eh
You clothe the lilies with Your majesty
And You don’t even love ’em like You love me
No, You don’t love ’em like You love me, no
Steve and I were sitting outside on our back patio one morning, eating breakfast.  We love to watch the birds.  This particular morning it wasn’t sunny.  It was raining.  We noticed the birds were quiet.  The trees aren’t fully in bloom yet, becuase it is still early Spring, but the birds are still there.  The rain started getting heavier.  We noticed one bird on the fenceline between our house and our neighbor’s.  It just stayed perched on the fence.  The rain kept getting harder and harder.  You know, sometimes we are going to have to weather storms in life.  For me, it is depression.  It may be something different for you.  It may just be a particular season you are in.  It may be a health issue, a mariage issue, a job issue, one of your kids, all of your kids.  Whatever the storm,  we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us and we can be very confident that nothing will be able to separate us from His unfailing love.  Our confidence should be sky high in God!  We are more than conquerors through HIS love.  His perfect love.  Ephesians 3:18-19 tells us that His love is endless.  It surpasses knowledge.  Think about that… and we are to be filled up to all the fullness of God.  We should be overflowing.  Overflowing onto others.  How can we do that?  The more openly we invite God into our hearts…where the hurt is, where the pain is, where the fear is, His love can heal us – Jehova Rapha my healer.   Jehovah Jireh my provider.  His love can deliver us – Jehova Mephalti my deliverer.  He gives us our identity – Jehovah Nissi the Lord our Banner.  God’s perfect love, inside of you, will make you more than a conqueror, and then you can be a dispenser of love through the overflowing love inside of you.  Love covers a multitude of sins.  Love is an action word.  As believers, people should know you by your love.  John 13:35

Be Blessed!

Cindy

 

 

aip, health and wellness

Entering the World of AIP

Well, if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you know that Lauren went to see a functional medicine doctor recently.  She has been dealing with severe eczema, asthma, and life threatening food allergies for the majority of her life.  Due to her bloodwork results, she is now on an aip diet to try and get some out-of-whack numbers back in line.  She tested positive for ana, antinuclear antibodies, which basically means an autoimmune disease is lying dormant.  Lovely.  We’ll add that to the list.

AIP stands for Autoimmune Protocol or Autoimmune Paleo.  It’s goal is to eliminate certain primal foods that can sometimes trigger inmflammation in people with autoimmune disease (dairy, eggs, nightshades, nuts, and seeds).  This includes spices that come from seeds, such as celery seed, which I use in Lauren’s German potato salad…  Potatoes! aww 😦  Basically, for foods that are allowed, think meats and vegetables, as long as it is not a nightshade, and bone broths.  Fruit is allowed, but in small amounts per day.  The only sweetener allowed is the occasional use of honey or maple syrup.  Her sheet says 1 tsp a day.  Yikes!

We came home with a mini booklet of 8 1/2 x 11 papers listing what foods she cannot have and those she can.  I will have to admit, at first, my eyes and mind went straight to, “What!? No potatoes!  No tomatoes?!  That means no chili!  No chocolate?! ”  I know.  I know.  A real negative Nelly stance.  Don’t worry.  I got over it and reframed my mindset to what we can have, and honestly, there are a lot of I cans out there.  They are just not what we are used to having. Some foods we have never tried or even heard of.  It’s like an adventure.  Like traveling to a place we have never been.  Dare I say exciting, even.  Okay, maybe not quite that far.  New flavors, new textures, new combinations will be our friends on this quest to fight inflammation and build up the body with good nutrition.

I had put her on lots of vitamin D3 and magnesium earlier this summer, as well as a good multi-vitamin with lots of B vitamins.  She was already taking a probiotic and vitamin c, along with an anti-oxidant.  Her bloodwork showed that her vitamin D was good.  Yay!  Success!  It had been rock bottom at her allergist appointment a few months earlier, so this is progress.  We’ll take it!  We already eat mostly organic, but Lauren craves a good cookie or some type of bready texture, which is hard to come by with food allergies.  Because she doesn’t get much of that, and now that we are on aip, that eliminated sugar, nightshades, and seeds.  Ugh.  I will say that, so far, we have had some fairly decent meals, so I feel encouraged at the moment.  I hope she does, too.  We are thankful for friends that have reached out with recipe suggestions.  We appreciate it!  In fact, we tried a few over the weekend with great success.

The first recipe we tried was on Friday evening.  We made a crustless chicken pot pie from a Paleo Instant Pot cookbook that I have.  It uses 2 heads of cauliflower florets, along with chicken broth, and the standard onion, carrots and celery.  It was really good!  Everyone liked it.  Score!  I was kind of skeptical about the whole cauliflower thing going in, but it gave just the right texture, a kind of thick, heartiness to it.  Who knew?  On Saturday, I made Lauren’s chicken noodle soup, mainly for Michael because he came home from school congested last week and I believe in the power of garlic and onions and homemade chicken noodle soup.  Remember, we just started this journey on Friday, so I didn’t realize how many no no’s were in that soup.  The noodles, for starters-rice based.  That’s a grain.  No no.  Black pepper- no no.  I did use arrowroot starch as a thickener, so that was okay.  We will figure out the rest.

Lauren had the sweetest friends come visit her on Sunday afternoon from school.  They drove over from Tuscaloosa just to see her.  I have tears in my eyes writing this.  They are all members of the discipleship group that Lauren was a member of.  None of them are from Alabama, but from all over the United States.  We cooked lunch for them.  I made one of the suggestions from a sweet friend that has experience cooking the aip way.  It is called Cracklin’ Chicken and the recipe can be found on nomnompaleo.com.  So simple, yet so delicious.  We also made roasted baby organic sweet potatoes, and pan fried squash and zuccini.  My husband also grilled burgers, so we would have options.  It was a beautiful afternoon of eating good food and getting to meet some of Lauren’s college friends.

Last night I made another friend’s suggestion: Swedish meatballs.  You can find that recipe on forestandfauna.com.  I will say that I didn’t use all of the spices recommended in the recipe this time, simply because I didn’t have all of them.  Time to go shopping.  I made spaghetti squash and green beans to go along with the meatballs.  They were delicious.  I think due to not having all of the recommended spices, the meatballs weren’t as flavorful as they could have been.  Still learning.  In making the green beans, I fried a couple of slices of bacon to add in.  After dinner, I dove right into re-learning how to make Lauren’s German potato salad with sweet potatoes, instead, so that she would have something to eat for breakfast.  Yep, breakfast.  Think a breakfast hash.  It’s hearty and has protein from the bacon.  It makes a delicious breakfast food. There are many types of sweet potatoes.  There is the typical orange flesh sweet potato, but there is also a Japanese sweet potato that has purple skin and white flesh.  There is also an Okinawan sweet potato that is gray or tan in color and has purple flesh.  There are pale yellow skinned and purple skinned sweet potatoes, as well.  So, lots to choose from.  I used three different types in her new German potato salad.  I traded out the celery seed salt to a pinch of garlic salt.  I just left out the black pepper and kept the pink Himalayan salt.  I used a bit of maple syrup, instead of the sugar or coconut sugar I have used in the past.  Instead of a tablespoon of her flour, I used arrowroot flour (starch) to thicken.  Those are really the only changes.  I kept everything else.  It turned out beautifully.  I think we’re gonna make it.  New food adventures await!

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family, food allergy friendly

Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and a green

Nothin’ fancy.  In fact, many people you ask don’t like meatloaf, but our family loves it.  Actually, anything that has a tomato based product (ketchup) Michael is all in!  This was one of the first meals I cooked that was Lauren friendly, she liked, and would eat.  It is a simple recipe because you basically just mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl and then transfer to a loaf pan and into the oven.  Boil a few Russett potatoes, drain, whip with some chicken broth or a non-dairy milk (I use whichever I have on hand) and mashed potatoes are finished.

Now, don’t forget a green vegetable to go with everything!  True story:  When Steve and I were in college, my mom came over to take us to dinner one evening and the one rule she had was we had to get a green vegetable to go with whatever we chose to eat off the menu.  She wanted to make sure she got one good meal in us because, as most college students did back then, we ate as cheap as possible.  Lots of Taco Bell, ramen noodles, and soft drinks filled our bellies.  That rule has stuck with me.  So, at our house, if there is a food that isn’t your favorite, you must still take some, but it is called a no thank you helping (a smaller portion than normal, but you are being respectful of the person who cooked the meal, and whether you want to admit it or not, you are benefitting from a balanced meal, not leaving out the vegetable because you happen to only like tomato based products 😉  The vegetable rule was my moms.  The no thank-you helping I learned from Steve’s cousin, Jan.  I thought that was ingenius and adopted it right away.   So, we either have english peas, or green beans, or maybe squash and zuccinni.

We had this meal last night before going to the high school football game.  We were a little late for kickoff, but our tummies were full of a home-cooked meal and we sat down at the table to eat dinner -together.  I think that’s important .  So, as much as humanly possible, we do it…and without further ado- Let’s eat!

 

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Ingredients:

  1 1/2 lbs ground beef                                 1/2 tsp pepper

  1/2 c chopped onions                                 1/4 cup ketchup

  1/4 cup bell pepper                                    1/4 tsp garlic powder

  1 tsp baking powder                                  1/2 tsp salt

 3/4 cup rice milk (or non-dairy milk)

 

 

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together.  Pack into a loaf pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

 

 

family, marriage

A Chord of Three Strands…

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Well, it has been a little over a year since my very open post on married life and all the things and I thought I might visit with you about where we are.  Steve and I have been married now for 26 years.  Last year we hit a pretty rough patch.  I confessed how we didn’t seem to be on the same page anymore.  At the time, it felt more like not even in the same library!

We have become more intentional in our relationship.  Praying together before we walk out the door to go to work, school or whereever happens every morning.  Every morning.  Do we still have moments of frustration with each other or times we don’t see eye to eye?  Yes, but it is less often and less intense.  We seem to have found a new rhythm.

It was really different with both the girls out of the house and just Michael under our roof.  I recognized Steve’s need for BMX and all that entails and I think he has recognized that I needed to decompress from my former job and just be mom and wife for a while.  I needed to get our home back together.  We have also discovered that I have been dealing with some health issues that explains my exhaustion all of the time and why I couldn’t seem to do all of the things and keep up like I used to.  I am feeling much better, sleeping again, which helps alot!  I guess the pace of the Bierman household has slowed down compared to when there were five of us here, but we still have plenty to keep us busy!

I have noticed that Steve and I both acknowledge what is important to the other more readily.  We definitley make time for each other.  We are much more intentional about our relationship.  I guess it’s just that it was easier before kids, multiple kids and all that goes with that.  It sounds so simple yet we somehow still wound up where we did and had to fight our way back to each other.  It was worth the fight.  It is easy to just build a wall and do your own thing when things are tense.  It is difficult to stay affectionate with someone you feel at odds with.  However, choosing to show our spouse love and affection, even when it would be easier not to, benefits the both of us.  I have found that when we do the hard work, God blesses that.

The most powerful change we have made is praying with each other.  To some people it may sound kind of corny, but to me, it has made a big difference.  I’m not saying that when we pray all of the clouds depart and a rainbow appears and all of our problems go away.  I am saying that I believe and trust in God’s word and that He is faithful to keep His promises.  According to Lamentations 3:22-23, His lovingkindnesses never cease. For His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is His faithfulness.

I began writing this post back in May or June, I think.  It is now August.  School has started.  Our college girl is not at school, but is home dealing with some pretty heavy health issues.  An unexpected change that we didn’t see coming.   We’ve had lots of unexpecteds this summer.  So the new rhythm will have to become a new, new rhythm.  Ha!  Anyway, new challenges and new stressors, but we still have the same God with us and I know that we will work through these new challenges together, too.  Praying all the way.

A chord of three strands is not quickly broken.  Ecclesiastes 4:12