His Blue Card, My Beige

When I started this blog, I intended to write about being a military wife. I wanted to connect to other mil spouses. I wanted to share our experiences to civilians and encourage those among the ranks. I wanted to share my heart about a variety of issues and how that relates to my role as a military wife. Yet, lately, I’ve found myself drifting farther and farther from the “military community” as my husband and I find our places among the “wounded warrior community”.

While we have come to love and respect so many members of the wounded warrior community, this isn’t a club we ever planned to join. But I guess we do have that in common with every other member in the club. Nobody plans to be here. We signed up to be military members and military spouses. We signed up for deployments and drill weekends and dirty ACUs on the laundry room floor. Not VA appointments and PTSD classes and Caregiver workshops. But when we said “I do” we knew it was for better or for worse and you won’t find many of us in the “wounded warrior community” that would trade anything in the world for the love we still share with our spouses. The fact remains, though, that we weren’t planning on being here.

Now that we’re here, we realize more and more every day that we’re not where we once were. Sure, we still consider ourselves a military family. That never leaves you. But one conversation with your “active duty” friends reminds you that you’re not in the same world. When you hear about Privates throwing up “stress cards” and talk of the new “green” bullets, you start to hear words like “old school” describe your and your spouse’s time of service. Yet, your heart still pounds when you see a black sedan pull in front of the house. You still have a stack of MREs in the pantry. You still carry his dog tag on your key chain. Some things don’t change.

Someone who loves me wears dog tags.jpg

It’s a strange transition.

I’ll never forget the day that my husband, now officially medically retired, went to get his new military ID. The lady smiled as she pulled up his file and said, “Ooooooh. I see you get the coveted blue card. Congratulations.”

Yes. My husband gets the card that enlisted and officers alike dream of. He gets the great medical insurance. I get to shop at the commissary. We get to fly Space-A and utilize the military rate at hotels. His new blue card. My new beige card. We’re living the dream.

This is not what we signed up for.

My soldier is no longer a soldier. He was a man first and he will be a man last and what I married was a man, not a career. The courage, discipline, duty, honor, and loyalty of the man I married are because HE is all of those things. The Army didn’t give them to him. They’re his. They’ve always been his and they will always be his. And he will always be mine.

His Blue Card My Beige

His blue card. My beige card.

It’s a strange transition.

I’m just glad we’re in it together. I’m glad we’re more than a career. I’m glad we’re more than numbers on a laminated card. I’m glad we’re in it for the long haul. For better or worse. In sickness and in health. Til death do us part. I’m glad that I met a soldier. I’m forever grateful that a godly man loved me.

I’m glad some things never change.

Advertisements

Praying for our Wounded Warriors- a 7 Day Call to Prayer

With Veterans Day right around the corner, it was on my heart to lead others in a 7 day Call to Prayer for our Wounded Warriors. With Veterans committing suicide at a rate of 22 a day, our Veterans need our prayers now more than ever. Every Veteran is wounded. It’s impossible to go to war, to participate in the level of self-sacrifice and self-denial that is required of our military and to not be wounded in some way. A recent survey showed that almost 60% of our wounded warriors feel that there is little meaning in the things they do day to day. No warrior should feel unimportant, unappreciated, or unloved.

Please use the following prayer guide as just that – a simple guide that will steer your prayers in the direction that God lays on your heart. Our warriors deserve more than we can ever repay them. Let us start with our prayers.

mil 4

Day 1 (Nov 5)- Pray for restorative healing from the physical injuries of war.

The Wounded Warrior Project’s 2015 Alumni survey showed that among those with injuries, almost 78% of our wounded warriors suffered from 3-8 different injuries or health problems. Many suffer from amputated limbs (4%), significant burns (3%), and spinal cord injuries (15%), and 72% experience problems with their neck, back, and/or shoulders. For many, the physical pain they are experiencing today will never lessen. Please pray for God’s supernatural healing on their body, for comfort, for advancements in medicine and health technology, and for the care they receive at the VA and through other medical providers.

Psalm 41:2-3

The Lord protects and preserves them—
    they are counted among the blessed in the land—
    he does not give them over to the desire of their foes.
The Lord sustains them on their sickbed
    and restores them from their bed of illness.

Day 2 (Nov 6)- Pray for restorative healing from the mental injuries of war.

Over 76% of WWP’s alumni reported a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Since 2000, the DoD has recorded over 333,000 cases of Traumatic Brain Injuries, over 44% of our warriors. And over 66% of WWP’s alumni reported having had an experience “that was so frightening, horrible, or upsetting that they had not been able to escape from memories or the effects of it.”

Pray against haunting memories, flashbacks, and nightmares.

2 Timothy 1:7

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Day 3 (Nov 7)-Pray for restorative healing from the emotional injuries of war.

Civilians cannot possibly imagine the traumatic events that our warriors have witnessed and experienced in the war zone. This year, 80% of our wounded warriors reported having a close friend who was severely injured or killed in combat, 75% witnessed the death of non-combatants (women, children, civilians), 65% remember actually smelling decomposing bodies, and almost 20% still struggle daily with knowing that they are responsible for the death of a civilian.

It is hard to imagine how one might ever emotionally recover from such events. Our warriors need our prayers because our God can heal the most broken of hearts.

Psalm 134:17-20

17 The righteous cry, and the Lord hears
And delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are [a]crushed in spirit.

19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the Lord delivers him out of them all.
20 He keeps all his bones,
Not one of them is broken.

Day 4 (Nov 8)- Pray for restorative healing from the spiritual injuries of war.

They say there are no Athiests in foxholes, yet I’m sure God often seems millions of miles away from the battlefield. The evil of the terrorism our Veterans have fought has brought an entirely new component to the recovery process of war. Our warriors engaged in jihad…. a religious war with the darkest of enemies. They need spiritual healing, forgiveness (both offering and asking), and an understanding of the true enemy- the thief that seeks to steal and kill and destroy. Pray for peace in their hearts, their minds, and their souls.

John 14:27

27 Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.

Day 5 (Nov 9) Pray for restorative healing from the relational injuries of war.

 Almost two-thirds of our wounded warriors are married and one-third of our wounded warriors require the assistance of a Caregiver. Many have spouses, children, parents, siblings, and civilian friends that do not understand the changed person that came home from war. Misguided anger, fear, and distrust creep their way into what were once solid relationships, creating division and destruction. Pray for our warriors’ marriages, families, friendships, and other relationships.

Ephesians 4:1-3

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

hospital feet

Day 6 (Nov 10)- Pray for restorative healing from the financial injuries of war.

Approximately 35% of WWP’s alumni are currently unemployed and another 7.5% are currently working only part-time. The median income per week is $760 or $39,520 per year. For those requiring a Caregiver (often a spouse) this equals the loss of a second income. Many families have gone from two solid incomes to living off of disability payments. The added financial stress of our warriors only adds to the list of struggles they already face. Pray for the financial stability of our warriors, for work-at-home opportunities for spouses, and for employers that will seek out the skills at talents of wounded warriors that still have so much to contribute to society.

Deuteronomy 28:12

12 The Lord will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand; and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow.

Day 7 (Nov 11, Veterans Day)- Pray for our wounded warriors’ pasts, presents, and futures.

Be thankful for the sacrifices they chose to make. Pray for ways to minister to our wounded warriors now. And ask God to bless their future. Most importantly, pray that each and every warrior would know God’s saving grace, unconditional love, and endless mercy.

Ecclesiastes 3:11

11 He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.

For a printable copy, please click here :Call to Prayer for Wounded Warriors

For more information regarding the 2015 WWP Survey, click here.

The Woman I Want To Be

I have a confession. I haven’t always enjoyed being Heather. In fact, I’ve never liked my name and I’ve spent most of my life wishing I was more like someone else.

In fact, in recent years, I really wanted to be Jayne.

My friend, Jayne photo cred: Radiant Images

My friend, Jayne
photo cred: Radiant Images

I met Jayne at our church in Wentzville, MO a few years ago and immediately attached myself to her. The thing is, I wasn’t the only one attaching myself to her. That’s the thing about people like Jayne… EVERYONE wants to be around her. I mean, EVERYONE. You just want to be in her presence. You want to hear her talk. You want to hear her talk about any one of the number of things she’s passionate about – the persecuted church, women’s ministry, reaching the lost, helping the homeless, raising our children to love the Lord, being real and vulnerable about life with one another…. I could go on and on. People who hear Jayne talk want to hear her more. And they want to hear Jayne pray. Because Jayne is a Jesus girl with a heart the size of Texas and a love for others like no other.

jayne 1

The few years that I lived near Jayne I tried to not be envious of the gifts and talents God had given her. I mean, she’s gorgeous. (HELLO!) And such a good speaker. She never struggles for words. God just flows through her mouth and into the ears of her listeners with such passion and excitement that you can’t help but be completely captivated. She’s asked to speak in so many different venues.

Here she is in Jefferson City, Missouri’s capital, at the prayer vigil held on the anniversary of the imprisonment of Saeed Abedini, a persecuted Christian being beaten and held as a prisoner in Iran. She organized the state rally and spoke in front of the crowd that had gathered. She has a God-given ability to organize and rally people together.

Jayne and her beautiful daughter

Jayne and her beautiful daughter

I could post pictures of her teaching Bible School or speaking at Faith Fest, but I think you get the idea. Jayne is an amazing speaker. And I really wanted to be Jayne. Or be like Jayne. So, I tried to remind myself that God has given me talents, too. Talents that are unique to me. For example, I was a pretty good baker and I taught myself how to make sugar cookies decorated with royal icing. And Jayne always said she wasn’t a very good cook. So, at least I had that.

Then one day Jayne tried her hand at baking and decorating cookies.

My Friends Cookies

My Friends Cookies

My Friends Cookies

And Jayne is obviously MUCH more talented in this area than I am.

Sigh….

But then I moved to Florida, out from under what I “perceived” to be Jayne’s “shadow”.

And I met Shannon.

Shannon

Shannon

Do you see the joy and love and compassion that just exudes out of this woman’s smile?? It’s no surprise that she’s the head of the Women’s Ministry of our church here in Florida.

Shannon and I became instant friends and I was THRILLED when she invited me to join the Women’s Ministry team at church. And it wasn’t long before I wanted to be Shannon. Or at least be LIKE Shannon.

I mean, she’s lived in Florida her whole life and she has been in this church for sooooooo long. She knows everyone. And everyone knows her. And everyone trusts her. She’s everyone’s friend. She makes everyone feel loved and welcomed. And she knows how things have been done, and they should be done, and who can get them done. And everyone knows that Shannon is the lady that can GET things done.

Shannon painting for a ministry project at church

Shannon painting for a ministry project at church

Unlike Jayne, Shannon possesses skills that God hasn’t even BEGAN to cultivate in me. For example, Shannon is an AMAZING artist.

She paints. She paints for fun. She paints by request. She paints things she sees in her mind’s eye. She paints things other people suggest she paints. She paints. And when the creation in her mind hits the canvas… well, it’s breathtaking. Shannon oozes with talents that I could never even imagine. She’s organized. She’s creative. She thinks out of the box. She’s just amazing.
Shannon 5

And she has a great eye for seeing and capturing beauty in nature with her camera.
Shannon 6

Yep. There are some days I wish I was Shannon.

And then there’s Megan. I reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally want to be Megan.

Megan 2

Megan is my Team Manager with Jamberry. Her title keeps changing but it’s something like Executive or Elite Executive or Jamberry Goddess or something like that. She’s a big deal.

Megan and a fellow JAM rock star

Megan and a fellow JAM rock star

Not only do we allllllllll want to be Megan because she’s making over 6 figures a year selling nail stickers (WHAT!?!?!?!? I know, right!?) but the thing is…. she’s seriously like the nicest person on earth. She’s a mom of 3. She’s married to a hot lawyer (her words, not mine 😉 ). And oh yeah, she’s a NICU nurse. Nicest. Person. Ever. And she’s HYSTERICAL. Her personality is HUGE.

Megan @ Jam HQ

Megan @ Jam HQ

Ummm… and did I mention that she’s gorgeous? Here’s a pic she posted on FB when she called herself “a wreck” (again, her words, not mine).

Megan

Megan

I don’t look this hot at my BEST.

But mainly, I want to be Megan because she is really successful at the things she’s passionate about. So much so that her little Jamberry team of over 2,000 women have coined the phrase (and the picture) “What Would Megan Do?”

WWMMD?

WWMMD?

But this is me.

Just Me

Just Me

I’m not a gorgeous blonde. I don’t draw huge crowds. I don’t make $10,000 a month. I don’t know everyone in this town. I can’t paint. My cookies aren’t gorgeous. My husband’s not a lawyer. Nobody fights for time with me. And when I’m a wreck…. I am NOT a bombshell.

But fortunately, God reminds me of who I am. And who I SHOULD want to be.

I am the wife of a wounded warrior. I have a unique opportunity to minister to Veterans and their families.

Me and Bob photo cred: Dawn Wagner

Me and Bob
photo cred: Dawn Wagner

I am a full-time college student that is setting a standard of educational excellence for my children. I will graduate next month, Suma Cum Laude (3.87 GPA) from Arizona State University.

Graduating with my AA; on my way to my BS

Graduating with my AA; on my way to my BS

And I’m a homeschooling momma of these 5 beautiful gifts from God.

My babies

My babies

What God is showing me is that it doesn’t matter if I rise to the top of my business. It doesn’t matter if I rise to the top of my class. What matters is that I rise to do what He’s called me to do. What matters is that I do EVERYTHING that I do as if I’m doing it for Him…. because that’s what His Word says I should do.

I can hug a new woman in our church that Shannon won’t have a chance to see. I can reach Veterans on the street that Jayne will never meet. I can be successful in my ministry to one person that has more eternal value than all of Megan’s sales put together. Not because I’m better. Not because they’re better. But because God has completely different, unique, individual, specific plans for each of us.

I’m not Jayne. I’m not Shannon. I’m not Megan.

I’m Heather.

So, today, and everyday, I must purposefully and INTENTIONALLY choose not to be envious of the beautiful women in my life. I should emulate the things I see them do only if God’s calling me to do those same things. And I should look first and foremost to HIM to see the woman I want to be. The woman I am. The woman God has made me. The woman God has called me to be. The woman I want to be.

Flavor Combo #2: Greek Chicken

I got very excited about sharing with you some of the tried and true flavor combinations that I switch up every now and then to make our dinner meals a tad more exciting… and then life got in the way and all I shared was our Buffalo Chicken favorites.

Well, that’s going to change right here.

Introducing…. GREEK CHICKEN. I know. That doesn’t sound any more exciting than Buffalo Chicken. But my kids love all things “Greek chicken” making it worth the effort to find multiple ways to serve it up. So, here we go…

I. Mission: To create a basic Greek chicken recipe that can be used in multiple dishes.

II. Service Support:

*Chicken! Baked boneless, skinless chicken breasts (whole or shredded, depending on the recipe)
*Cavender’s All Purpose Greek Seasoning
*Feta Cheese
*Red and/or Green Onion, diced
*Fresh (or dried) dill
*Cucumber (optional)
*Tomato (optional)

cavenders

III. Execution:

It’s amazing how many things these simple ingredients can make. Here are a few of our favorites:

*Pizza! Use your favorite homemade (or store-bought, if you roll that way) pizza crust. Spread some warm cream cheese mixed with a little ranch dressing and some fresh dill on your crust. Drop a few generous handful of shredded chicken down and sprinkle with Cavender’s. Top with feta cheese, onion, and maybe a little mozzarella or Colby Jack cheese…whatever you have on hand.

This is probably our kids’ favorite. It’s rich and creamy and while you’re eating it you think to yourself, “Why aren’t all pizzas this rich and creamy.” Trust me. You do.

greek chicken pizza

*Roll-ups! My kids are obsessed with these. Mix some shredded chicken, Cavender’s, dill, onion, tomato, cucumber, feta cheese, and cream cheese together in a bowl. Spread onto a tortilla wrap and roll up. Yummmmmmmmmmo. Use warm chicken. Use cold chicken. It doesn’t matter. These are fast, easy and great on the go.

*Greek chicken salad! Mix chicken, Cavender’s, dill, onion, cucumber, and feta with a little greek yogurt and/or light mayo. Add chopped olives if you’d like or a little sugar to make it sweet. Serve on your favorite roll. We like it on croissants. We like everything on croissants.

*Greek chicken! Yep. Just good old Greek chicken. Throw the chicken breasts in the oven, coated in Cavender’s. Top with some red onion slices and feta cheese and throw it in the oven.

*Pita pockets! Let the kids make their own combination of the above in their own little pocket. Maybe add some lettuce, spinach, or olives to the line-up. And some easy tzatziki sauce on the side. Sooooo good.

And there you go! Greek Chicken five different ways!

Why I Don’t Pray for My Husband to Join My Ministry

I’ve heard countless women…good women, humble women, godly women… pray for God to please move in their husbands’ lives to bring them to a place of ministering together. I love that thought. I love the idea of husbands and wives in ministry together and I’ve been blessed by countless husband/wife duos who serve God together, arm in arm. I love the husbands and wives that co-teach Sunday School. The husbands and wives that co-lead Celebrate Recovery teams. The husbands and wives that open their homes together for small group Bible studies. I love it.

But I’m not going to pray for that anymore. Ever. I’ve been guilty of that before.

My husband is not what you would call a social individual. He’ll talk to anyone who approaches and he’ll give them the shirt off his back, but he won’t seek out someone to talk to. In fact, he’ll do his best to stay out of the way by himself. So, praying for God to bring him to a place of ministering with me in church, in groups, was just asking God to make my husband someone who he isn’t. But God stopped me in my tracks. In one weekend God managed to show me three different ways that He was using my husband, right where he is.

First, we got a message from a soldier that Bob and I met on the WWP Soldier Ride last November. My “I don’t need friends” husband had befriended a younger Vet on the ride and talked to him at great length about overcoming some of the obstacles that he had in his life. He shared candidly about his own problems and how slowing his life down and focusing on God had saved him from a world of hurt. This young Vet wrote us to thank Bob for believing in him and for sharing with him and to tell us that he’d gotten himself squared away and was going to church. Bob ministered to this guy – not in our church, not in our home, but right where he was.

Second, we got a phone call from a very good friend of ours who happens to be a Captain in the Army. One of the men he had served with in Iraq was out of a job, living in a very poor community, and needed help. He asked Bob if he would call him and see about helping him find some work. Bob immediately got on the horn and called this young man, offering him some hope. Again, he didn’t meet this soldier’s needs in our church or in a Bible study in our home, but he used Bob right where he was.

And last but not least, we attended a minor league baseball game with some military friends of ours one very hot, steamy, Florida evening in July. The heat index was well over 100* in the shade and we were already feeling miserable before the game began. A few rows above us on the other side of our section we heard a woman start screaming for help. Her elderly mother had passed out in the heat. My husband did not hesitate to join the first responders that came to her aid. Although he never had a chance to put his schooling into practice, my husband graduated from med school a few years ago at one of the best med schools in the country. He never thought twice about being bothered to help her. He knew what to do. He knew how to help. And he didn’t give it a second thought. Not in a church. Not in a Bible study. But at a minor league baseball stadium.

I will never again pray that God will form my husband into the man that meets my expectations of ministry. God’s plans are so much better than mine and He has a much better idea of how to utilize my husband in His kingdom work than I do. Maybe he doesn’t speak to congregations. Maybe he doesn’t pray over large groups. But to the individuals God has used my husband to reach, he was a blessing. And what more could a wife truly ever want than to know that her husband is right where God wants him?

Conflicting Comments

They say that men are like waffles; women are like spaghetti. Men can easily compartmentalize things while women tend to connect and intertwine every thought, event, and action like a big ole pile of slippery spaghetti.

It seems like everyone from your mother to your mechanic has advice to offer on a daily basis. We love to criticize the media for their role in negatively impacting our self-esteem but the same barrage of criticism in the form of advice often comes from the pulpit, the women’s Bible study, and our own posts on social media. And not all criticism is bad. Constructive criticism has saved me from many poor decisions. Yet, how do I sift through the onslaught of advice I receive every day?

I wish I was a waffle.

But I’m not. It takes me forever to detangle the mess of critical remarks that the world throws my way… especially when they are conflicting comments. You know exactly what I’m talking about.

*It’s good to get up early before your children so you can pray, spend time with the Lord, and enjoy alone time before your day begins.

**A tired mommy does nobody any good. Get plenty of rest so that you can be the mom they need.

*We need to cleanse our bodies from the impurities that we put in them. It’s important to drink water, eat healthy foods, and get plenty of exercise every day.

**It’s harmful to compare ourselves to others. Be happy with who you are and what you look like. We can’t all be a size 4. Embrace your body the way it is and stop living for the acceptance of others. Besides, God loves you just the way you are.

*If you make a commitment, you should keep it.

**Your family should always come first. If they need you, you should break all other commitments.

*It’s our job, as parents, to protect our kids from the outside world.

**If we shelter our children, we are not providing them with opportunities to learn and grow.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

That’s why it’s so important to have Truth to filter such comments through. While it’s certainly a blessing to have experts in the fields of medicine, marriage, health, children, employment, and so on, there’s only one Expert that I know will never give me conflicting advice.

God.

It’s not easy to know what to do. It’s not easy to make decisions as a mother, a wife, a woman. It’s not easy to muddle through the piles of advice we receive every day and to clearly discern which advice is worth applying to our lives and which advice should line the bottom of the bird cage.

And often both sides of conflicting advice are good…. given the right circumstances.

Only God knows the plan He has for our lives. So ultimately, it should only be Him that we seek when we are unsure of what to do.

Only he can make a waffle decision out of my pile of spaghetti.

Amish Cinnamon Bread

This recipe has been floating all over Pinterest. So, like usual, I took it and gave it my own twist.

This “bread” is much more like a cake than a bread. I like baking it in a bundt cake pan or a 8″x8″ cake pan.

Last week our family made some homemade butter during our homeschool study of colonial America, so I whipped up a quick batch of this bread so we’d have something to apply our creamy butter on. It did not disappoint.

butter 1

Here’s my twist on the popular Amish Cinnamon Bread recipe that makes 2 pans.

Batter:
1 cup butter, softened
1-1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda

Cinnamon/Sugar mixture:
2/3 cups sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Cream together the butter, sugars, and eggs. Add milk, flour, and baking soda. Put 1/2 of the batter into 2 greased loaf pans, square pans, or bundt pans (1/4 of the batter in each pan). Mix the cinnamon/sugar mixture together in a separate bowl. Sprinkled 3/4 of this mixture on top of the batter in each pan. Add remaining batter to pans. Sprinkle with last of cinnamon topping. Swirl with a knife. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 min or so until an inserted knife comes out clean. Cool in pan for at least 15 minutes before serving. Serve with delicious, creamy butter for best results.

Everything’s Better with Butter

Ft Tabers Christian Academy (what we call our family homeschool) kicked off in full swing last week with all things new and exciting. It’s hard to believe I have a sophomore in high school, two 8th graders, a 6th grader, and a 2nd grader. I have THREE KIDS in middle school. Pray for me.

But all kidding aside, we had a great first week – even with an extra kid in the house since we were watching a sweet little friend of my youngest’s while her parents were out of town.

The highlight of the week was making homemade butter during our review of life in Colonial America.

butter collage

Making homemade butter is fun, easy, and oh so yummy. Here’s how we did it.

1. Fill a mason jar 1/2 – 3/4 full with heavy cream. I also suggest throwing in a pinch of salt. We made a batch of salted and a batch of unsalted. The salted butter tastes better.

If you have a couple of marbles, or an agitator like this one which is used in health shakes, you can throw it in to speed up the process, but that’s totally optional. If you DO add an agitator, you’ll have to dig it out of your butter later.

butter 2

2. Start shaking your jar of cream. Shake it up and down. Shake it sideways. Shake it in your right hand. Shake it in your left hand. Pass it around the table so everyone gets to shake it. Just keep shaking. Eventually, it’ll look kinda like this.

Butter 3

3. Once it’s real thick, you’ll still hear a little sloshing around. Feel free to drain off some of the liquid. That’s buttermilk. Feel free to save it for baking, if you’re into that sort of thing. But you have to use it fairly soon ’cause it won’t stay fresh very long.

butter 4

4. Continue shaking until you have a solid lump of butter. Ours was extremely soft and delightfully creamy.

butter 5

5. I couldn’t help but make some homemade Amish Cinnamon Bread to slather it on. The kids approved and we all decided that while it’s cheaper and easier to grab a tub of Country Crock at Walmart, nothing beats the taste of real, homemade butter.

butter 1

Book Review & Giveaway!

I’m not gonna lie. I’ve always been a sucker for a good romance. But over the past couple of years I have absolutely fallen in love with “historical romance” and “inspirational historical fiction” novels. I love the idea of taking the bits of knowledge we have from history and weaving a beautiful, creative story from them. There have been a handful of books that have really inspired me and deepened my love for this genre. I’m excited to share two of the books with you today.

TCHH Header

Rebecca DeMarino has recently published her second book in The Southold Chronicles series. I fell in love with “A Place in His Heart” so I couldn’t wait to read “To Capture Her Heart”. Rebecca didn’t disappoint! This second tale is filled with a web of “love, legends, and lore” as only Rebecca can spin. The story line… the characters…. the writing, itself…. it all blends together to tell a story you just can’t put down.

So, what’s this book about?

In an uncertain time, Heather Flower faces a choice that will change her life forever.

It is 1653 and Heather Flower, a princess of the Montaukett tribe, is celebrating her wedding feast when a rival tribe attacks, killing the groom and kidnapping her. Though her ransom is paid by an Englishman, she is bound by her captors and left to die—until she finds herself rescued by handsome Dutch Lieutenant Dirk Van Buren.

Still tender from her loss, Heather Flower begins to heal in the home of the Hortons, English friends of her people. Torn between her affection for Dirk and her longtime friendship with Ben Horton, Heather Flower must make a difficult choice—stay true to her friend or follow her heart.

TCHH1

I’ve heard countless people say that they dislike romantic movies or romantic novels because the outcomes are so predictable. Despite the twists and turns, it is usually pretty easy to discern the outcome in most romantic novels. That’s just another reason I loved “To Capture Her Heart”. As each chapter of the story unfolded, I became more and more unsure of what the heroine of our story would do. Even in the final chapter, I was waiting for that surprise ending. And yes, I was pleasantly surprised.

If you’re looking for some enjoyable summer reading, I highly recommend “A Place in His Heart” followed by “To Capture Her Heart”. And if you have teenage daughters, you’ll be happy to know that Rebecca’s novels are truly wholesome novels that encourage the kind of pure, unconditional love that they’re not seeing in the movies. I love that my girls gained a greater historical perspective as well as a better understanding of what it looks like for someone to put their relationships in God’s hands.

Annnnnnnnnnnnnd…..

You know I love to eat. And bake. And eat what I bake. So you know I LOVED that Rebecca included one of her family’s recipes that has been passed down for generations in her book! And I REALLY love that she’s letting me share it with you here!

Grandmother Horton’s Pippin Pie

Pie Crust:
2/3 C lard or 2/3 C + 2T shortening 2 C flour 1 t salt 4-5 T water
Cut lard into flour and salt until combined to the size of peas. Sprinkle in water, one tablespoon at a time, tossing with a fork until pastry leaves sides of bowl. Hint: use ice water. Gather into ball, divide in two and roll into two pastry rounds on floured board.

Filling:
¾ C sugar ¼ C flour ½ t cinnamon ½ t ginger pinch of salt
6 medium Newtown Pippin Apples or any tart baking apple 2T butter

Heat oven to 425 degrees
Mix together the dry ingredients in large bowl. Mince apples or slice thin. (Should equal 6 cups) Stir apples into flour mixture to coat. Hint: put apples and flour mixture into a large zip-lock bag and massage until coated. Line a 9” pie pan or plate (Hint: spray with canola oil) with pastry round. Pile apple mixture into pie plate, dot with chunks of butter. Cover with second pastry round, crimp edges to seal. Cut slits in top. Bake 40 – 50 minutes, until top is browned and juice bubbles from slits. Halfway through baking, brush cover (top crust) with rosewater and sprinkle with sugar. Hint: Cover edges with foil last 15 minutes of baking.

THE GIVEAWAY!

Click on the image below to enter Rebecca DeMarino’s giveaway! You could win a gift card, copies of the book, and more!

TCHH Giveaway

Rebecca DeMarino

TCHH Rebecca

Rebecca DeMarino writes love, legends and lore as a historical romance author and lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She inherited her love of baking and gardening from her mother, a love of horses, reading and writing from her dad, and the wanderlust gene from both parents. Her travels have taken her from Alaska to Nebraska and Florida, from Long Island to England and Italy, and from Washington DC to Texas, California and Guam. But usually you can find her at home, enjoying her grandchildren and baking crisp little ginger cakes. From Publisher’s Weekly ~ DeMarino’s … strong suit is recreating history and relating it to readers.

Today, We Remember

Growing up, I loved having a birthday that often fell on (or very near) Memorial Day. It felt like the entire country was celebrating with me. It meant a special cake with the BBQ. It meant everyone was off work and all our friends and family could gather. It meant red, white, and blue decorations along with birthday balloons. I was a child born and raised during a rare period of time in this nation’s history that was relatively peaceful. I loved my uncles and grandfather who had served during their respective wars. I understood and appreciated their sacrifices. But even though I considered myself a patriotic little girl, that was all that Memorial Day meant.

Today it means more. So much more.

dedication 1

Today, I am the wife of a wounded warrior. Today, I am a grown woman who has cried as loved ones have gone off to war, prayed for their safe return, and mourned when they did not. Today, I finally understand what Memorial Day means.

Today, I also celebrate my 37th birthday.

It’s hard to celebrate your birthday when the country mourns the deaths of heroes. Yet, the sacrifice of those heroes gives me so much more reason to be thankful for the life that I have to celebrate. It’s a bit of a paradox. It’s bittersweet. It’s beautiful and tragic. It’s my reality today.

I was born during a time of peace but I live during a time of war.

So today, we remember.

fallen table

We remember by setting a special place of importance and memorial in our home for the fallen that are not able to join us around the barbeque grill today. The table is set for one, reminding us of the significance one life can make.

The table cloth is simple and white as it represents the purity of their intentions to respond to their country’s call to arms.

We place a white candle on our table, to represent the light of hope. We know our one true hope is in Jesus Christ.

fallen 4

We place red roses on our table to remind us of the families who mourn their loved ones today and of the blood that was shed in sacrifice to ensure our freedom.

fallen 6

We tie a red and yellow ribbon around the vase because yellow represents the loyalty of the families who have waited for their loved one’s return and red symbolizes the memory of and search for those missing in action.

fallen 1

We place a slice of lemon on the plate to remind us of the bitterness of the fate of those who are not able to be with us. We sprinkle salt on the lemon and the plate to represent the countless tears that have fallen from the eyes of friends and families.

fallen 3

We invert a glass to remember that the fallen are not able to partake in our celebration today.

fallen 5

The empty chair at the head of our table reminds us of the special seat of honor that these heroes will forever hold in our hearts.

Today, we remember.

The Fallen Comrade Table (often called the Missing Man Table) is almost always displayed at special military dinners. Every military ball or Dining-Out I’ve attended has given special honor to those no longer with us. But I also know of countless military, Veteran, and gold Star families who have Fallen Comrade Tables set up in their homes today. Why?  Because the sacrifice of our heroes is to NEVER be forgotten.

Today, we remember.