The Shepherd’s Sword: A Christmas Mini-Series

The Shepherd’s Sword

by Leslie Crouse

…continued from The Shepherd.

Belial had not been informed of Heaven’s plan. But Darkness heard the angel’s announcement. All of creation did. He quickly rallied the powers of Darkness for a counter attack. If it was war Heaven wanted, war it would get. This invasion was not to be tolerated. Darkness would not release its hold on earth so easily and this shepherd with his spindly sword was standing in his way.

Shammah took his hand off the door handle. Glanced to the inn. Did no one else sense the Darkness pressing in? Were they all sleeping peacefully while Darkness invaded their city? Jehovah! I am no soldier! A lion or bear here and there, but never this! And why the sword? It’s useless against such… things! Another shepherd, in another time, with another inadequate weapon. The irony.

Or was it? What had David done? Then, like a song on the wind an idea formed. Shammah thrust the sword tip into the ground. Not wishing to attract the attention of the Roman soldiers around the corner, he began to speak in a barely audible voice:

I come in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel… the LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORD’s.

Menacing snarls rose from all around him as they paused in their approach. But it did not last. Darkness wanted the baby inside. Shammah dragged his sword tip through the sandy dirt leaving a line behind him as he spoke aloud the only words his mind could form.

” ‘He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty...’ ”

Shammah rounded the first corner of the stable and proceeded toward the back as the guttural sounds grew in number. Muscles solid with tension, Shammah punctuated each step with the words scrolling through his mind:

“…you will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness…

He turned the third corner of the stable. Almost there. One shadow gnashed his fangs and Shammah’s heart crashed into his ribs. A rancid odor overpowered his thoughts for a moment as he locked eyes with those that glowed red.

“…For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways…”

Shammah was finishing the last words of the psalm just as he was completing the circle around the stable. Lifting the tip of his sword from the sand he noticed a stiff wind began to blow. Over the growls and snarls he heard the ringing of a multitude of swords being unsheathed. Deadly silence reigned for the span of a heartbeat.

Then, a bone-shattering thunder crashed and the earth shook with the force of it. Shammah collapsed with exhaustion.

Thwarted! Belial snarled at his defeat. He would come again. Later. But next time he would use men. Men were proud and pride was his greatest weapon. “Yes,” he hissed. Perhaps that buffoon sitting on the throne would be useful. He was already a promising vessel of Darkness. As his plan formed a low, guttural sound escaped into the night. But for now, he would remind that shepherd of his worth. Belial signaled to Rejection and nodded to the sleeping shepherd.

~~~~

Shammah fell into a deep sleep. He floated above as he watched his father approach an infant. Himself he perceived. Eli laid his hand on Shammah’s head and said, “Son, I love you, but from this day forward I cannot look at you for all of my sorrows are upon your head.” Shammah awakened to the familiar weight bearing down on his soul. He sat up rubbing his beard and focused on a huge man who whistled as he went about his morning chores.

“Shalom, my friend! What a glorious morning! Such a silent, holy night last night. Wouldn’t you say? Don’t believe I ever slept better. May write a song about it.” The man laughed with his entire body it seemed. “My name is Hananiah and I am the innkeeper here. Are you ready to meet the Savior of the world? Is that why you have come?”

Shammah sat staring at the jovial man when the other shepherds appeared. Shammah blinked. Did last night happen? Shammah looked around for confirmation and saw it. The line in the sand. He unsheathed his sword and looked at the newly engraved words, THE BATTLE IS THE LORDS. He turned it over. WORD OF GOD glinted in the morning light. Chills spread over his arms and legs making every hair stand on end.

“Best not let the Romans see that sword. May get the wrong idea. Come!” Hananiah led the way to the stable undaunted by Shammah’s mute astonishment.

A baby’s cry penetrated his heavy thoughts as he followed Hananiah in. Finally! The stable he had set out for hours ago. Shammah approached the couple and the woman held out the baby to him. “His name is Jesus.” she said with a smile.

Shammah looked into the eyes of baby Jesus and felt a deeper connection with this child than any other person before. A tear escaped. He could not explain it, but somehow he knew he was looking into the face of another scapegoat.

Baby Jesus’ tiny hand gripped his thumb and in that moment, Shammah wept. Peace flooded his soul. Where darkness had been, light now penetrated every corner and the burdens he had carried for a lifetime were gone.

Then he wept for the boy. He understood what this boy would face. This boy would grow to be a man of many of sorrows. Rejected by men. Acquainted with grief. This tiny boy would trade his peace for the weight of another’s sin and sorrow. Would there also come a day when his father cannot bear to look him and forsakes him as well? As Shammah wept, a tear slipped down the young woman’s face.

Who was this baby? Why had Darkness attacked so forcefully? Would he set the captives of Darkness free too? “Good news of great joy that will be for all people,” the angel had said. “…On earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.” Was God pleased with Shammah? Is faith all that was needed? It was all so much to take in.

Of this he was certain: never had he felt such light. Love, peace and joy flooded his heart. Overwhelmed, Shammah bowed his head and worshipped.

~~~~~

Thank you for reading my Christmas Mini-Series! If you like what you read please share the stories with your friends! To continue reading, look for Mary’s Hiding Place next!

-Leslie

The Shepherd: A Christmas Mini-Series

The Shepherd

by Leslie Crouse

…continued from The Innkeeper’s Wife.

Shammah slid loaves of bread, raisin cakes and dried figs into his pack. Strapping on his canteen and bed roll he was almost ready. He just needed his staff, his rod and his sword. He did not usually carry a sword, but he had a niggling feeling he would need it. Judea was treacherous.

This week they would move the flocks into the Judean mountains near Bethlehem. David’s home town. He had been a shepherd too. Shammah smiled to himself. Perhaps I could learn to master the sling like David. Then father may take notice.

Eli, his father, stared at the fire refusing to look up. Shammah informed him he was leaving and was granted no more than a grunt in response. Shammah was a blight on the family. Death and ruination had visited them the day he was born and Eli had never forgotten.

Father lost everything when the caravan had been raided. After limping home with only his life spared, Eli discovered Shammah’s mother had died in childbirth as well. Two blows in the span of one day. Grief was indelibly printed onto the fabric of their family.

Eli held Shammah personally responsible. Ruin he had named him. From the moment he entered the world Shammah had become the family scapegoat bearing the grief, sorrow and sin of others. Thus, father had rejected him and assigned him to shepherding duties. Out of sight. Out of mind. Out of trouble.

Shammah did not mind. He was no one’s prize. Shepherding was a dirty business, but he liked to use the oil found on the wool for his beard. He smelled like an animal, but the sheep liked him. Followed him. Knew his voice. Trusted him without question. And he liked the solitude. Better the Judean mountains with their wild animals than my cold father. Resolute in his decision, Shammah refused to look back at the campfire. It was time to move out.

Five days later, Shammah and the other shepherds found what they had been searching for. Green pastures. Quiet waters gliding through the ravines sourced from the higher mountain regions. It had been a grueling journey and everyone was ready to find rest in the meadows. It was no wonder David wrote psalms of worship here. Truly, these remote places restored the soul and brought one closer to Jehovah.

Eli had not been a man of faith. But Rachel, their aged servant who raised him, had taught him the words of Jehovah. As a boy, Shammah had hungered for the steadfast love of a father described in the sacred scriptures. As a man, he was not convinced of the reality. But, out here he felt closer to the Presence of Jehovah. Less distraction.

As evening drew near one of the shepherd boys began to play his flute. Music quieted the sheep and the soul while also keeping predators at bay. It was Shammah’s favorite time. In honor of the city of David, the boy was playing one of David’s psalms. Or, at least it sounded like one of David’s.

Shammah gazed at the unusually bright stars and began humming along trying to remember the words:

“Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; praise him in the heights! Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his hosts! Praise him sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars!”

He shut his eyes and hummed the verses he did not remember and picked up again at the end:

“He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for…

The reedy notes abruptly ceased and Shammah opened his eyes. A giant stood before him! He was so big and shone so bright they all cowered in unmanly fear. And then he spoke,

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” As suddenly as he appeared with the message he was gone.

Then, a cacophony of singing erupted like he had never heard before. All the heavens. Praise from the highest heights. All his angels. All the hosts. All the shining stars. Jehovah’s word is true! Shammah marveled. The horn of salvation! He is here? Tonight?

Bursting with excitement, Shammah shouted, “We must go see!” But no one answered him. The others lay on the ground, passed out with fear. He did not blame them, but would not wait. He started running down the path to Bethlehem when he forgot his sword. Why did he care?! He wouldn’t need it! Ah! It is like my feet are frozen to the ground! I must get it first.

Forty minutes later they began their descent into the far side of the city. That was when he heard it. A feral, blood-chilling snarl. Judean lions? So close to the city? Hand on his sword he peered into the darkness and once his eyes focused, he froze. Not. Lions. Shammah looked to the hills again. What once had been covered in angels’ songs of praise now had writhing, dark figures coming from all directions slinking toward the stable in the hillside.

Nearby two pairs of red, glowing eyes intent upon the stable door. In the light of the moon Shammah saw the glint of unnaturally long fangs. A musky, unclean smell permeated the suddenly very cold air. At the soft cry of a baby from inside, righteous anger welled up within Shammah. He planted his feet and drew his sword.

…to be continued as The Shepherd’s Sword on December 14, 2020.

All quotes taken from The ESV Bible by Crossway Publishers.

The Innkeeper’s Wife: A Christmas Mini-Series

The Innkeeper’s Wife

by Leslie Crouse

…continued from The Innkeeper.

“That MAN! What was he thinking?!” Outside Evie took a deep breath and then another. She knew what Hananiah had been thinking. That infuriating, practical, wonderful man of hers was thinking of her. She saw that look in his eye at dinner. For twenty, long years they had weathered barrenness together but the pain never really lost its edge. When had her pain become so crippling that her husband felt he needed to protect her even at the cost of compassion?

Eve. What had her parents been thinking? Eve meant life. Mother of the living. Thirty-seven years with nothing to show but two heartbreaking miscarriages. Her name added irony to her pain. Expectations never met. A daily reminder of shriveled dreams. But not tonight. She refused to be swallowed up by self-pity. El Roi saw her. Heard her. She and Hananiah had the LORD and each other. Besides, tonight was not about her. And what better way to step out from one’s own pain than by serving another?

Evie looked up at the stars. She always felt closer to the God of Israel when she saw them. Strange. Tonight the stars looked extraordinarily bright. Glorious even. Like they were singing. Though the ever present pain remained a powerful peace entered her soul.

Quietly she slipped toward the barn door and listened. The tell-tale sound of a tiny mewling cry escalated into gusty wails that only a newborn could make. Time to move. She was none too early with these cloths. At least they were clean! She held back a smile at the look on Hananiah’s face when she ripped them up. Serves him right for putting business before compassion.

The young man looked up at her, wild eyed with hair sticking up in every direction. Relief flooding his face, he ran to her and said “I have no idea how to do this! I have wrapped him up four times but his arms keep escaping! Every time he just screams louder and louder.”

Evie smiled. This she could do. Gently she approached the young girl, who was trembling from exhaustion. Compassion overwhelmed her. Vaguely she heard the barn door open and close as Hananiah sheepishly came in with more hot water, blankets and a earthen bowl of warm broth for the young woman. He flicked a glance at Evie as he approached. His face guarded, unsure of where they stood at the moment. Evie knew he would nurse his pride for a bit, but he was a good sort and she loved him.

Finishing a perfect swaddle she glanced up at Hananiah and smiled as a peace offering. Surveying her handy work and the now content baby, she picked up the sweet boy and with Joseph’s permission and cooed to him. She walked over to Hananiah and together they looked into the most amazing dark, grey eyes they had ever seen.  

As she locked eyes with the infant, something broke inside of her. A flood of tears. Sobbing she could feel the healing take place. Deep within her heart all the names she had been called, the accusations that had been launched, the scars she had lived with for so long melted powerless. A warmth began to grow inside her. Beginning in her belly, the heat spread like a fire throughout her entire body. Shaking with the power she felt surging through her, she handed the little boy to Hananiah who was also weeping – with joy it seemed.

Eagerly he took the baby. Holding him high, laughing and weeping at the same time. A glow she had never seen in him shone from his eyes. In this singular moment, she saw Hananiah changed. The anger and bitterness he tried so hard to hide was gone. Replaced with unspeakable joy. Peace. In awe, Hananiah again looked into the face of this little child and Evie knew that he knew. They glanced at each other and again at the baby. It made no sense, but with absolute certainty Evie knew this tiny, red face was the face of God.

Sensitive to the sacred moment taking place between man and wife, Joseph gently reached for the child and said, “His name is Joshua. Or – Jesus, as Caesar’s register will say. For he will save us from our sin.”

Evie watched Joseph as he laid the boy in a feeding trough beside Mary so that he could spoon feed the broth to her. Jesus. What miracles had just taken place! Marveling at the baby in the trough, and the heat that still vibrated through her body, Evie turned to Hananiah as he put his arm around her and led her back to the house.

When they entered all was still. The guests had retired and the lamps burned low. Had hours passed? As they prepared for bed on this silent, holy night they discussed in excited whispers all they had witnessed. Each had experienced the overwhelming power of God’s love when they held little Jesus.

“How can the full strength of God’s love dwell in a tiny baby?” Hananiah asked.

“And how God’s love burns like fire! I am hot all over.” Evie said excitedly while rubbing her tingling fingertips. Hananiah laughed with her.

“It is a miracle! I could not decide if I wanted to shout for joy or fall to my knees in worship! Evie, there is immeasurable treasure in our stable right now. Why us? Why our stable? I was prepared to move them inside, but somehow, I sensed that is where El Shaddai wanted them.” Hananiah said.

That night, Hananiah and Evie fell asleep as he held her close. A once brokenhearted couple basking in God’s overwhelming love.

Almost one year later…

Evie smiled at the sound of her baby’s cries. Hananiah’s eyes were so full of pride and joy as he looked at his first born and then Evie. In a look they shared their remembrance of Jesus, the child who changed their world with one powerful encounter of love. Then Hananiah addressed their family and friends saying, “His name is Samuel because the LORD God has heard.”

…continue reading my Christmas Mini-Series with The Shepherd on December 14, 2020.

The Innkeeper: A Christmas Mini-Series

The Innkeeper

by Leslie Crouse

Hananiah sat amidst the noisy dinner guests watching them fight over the last of Evie’s famous challah bread. His wife was the best cook in Bethlehem and he was big enough to prove it. Evie’s heart was even bigger. He watched her serve their guests with that soft smile and sparkling eyes. After twenty years together, he loved her deeper than he could have imagined.

Over the din he heard, “Where are your children? I do not believe I have seen them running around here with my own.” He cringed and glanced at his wife Evie. Silence fell in the room as Hananiah watched a flood of sorrow overtake Evie’s eyes before she nodded at him and ducked into the kitchen.

He cleared the lump forming in his throat at the sight of his wife’s pain and answered, “The LORD will bless us in His time.” This was no new question. Small talk always led this direction and over the years Evie had learned to let him answer while she avoided the knowing looks.

That quick flash of pain in her eyes was the only indication of their deep sorrow. Does not God hear their cry? Does he not see what a wonderful mother she would make? Anger fought to fill his heart but he pushed it back down. God knew best. Over the years Evie had not hardened her heart and he would honor her by doing the same.

God had blessed them in so many ways and he was not ungrateful. Having been born here, they did not need to travel during this ridiculous census. Hananiah and Evie had been able to stay put and collect the income brought on by Caesar’s decree. Pompous man. If he were God fearing he would know strength is not found in numbers but in the name of El Shaddai. Ah! He must shake this dismal mood or his guests would suffer for it.

At the sound of a knock or, rather a bang on the door, Hananiah began the task of standing up. Difficult after another of Evie’s fine meals. He kissed her cheek as he walked by and whispered something in her ear that made her smile and swat his arm.

Outside stood a young man wringing his hands. “Shalom! Sir, I beg of you, I must find a place to stay tonight. My wife’s pains have begun and I fear we do not have long. I have asked everywhere. Please say there is a place for us.” Hananiah looked at the woman and took a double take. Wife? This was a mere girl! Something did not seem right here. Why can Evie and he not find joy in children while this undeserving couple did? LORD! It is not right! Well, whatever she was, clearly she was in labor.

Hananiah gritted his teeth. He wanted help, but the inn had been full for days and there was no way he would ask a family to leave. Refunds were impossible. They had already spent the rental income on linens, supplies and fresh grain for the animals. With town as busy as it was, food and supplies were scarce and greedy men had raised prices. Again.

The city square was no place for a woman to give birth. Where could they go? He must think.

“Shalom my friend. I see you are in need of… much.” He began leading them to the stable but the young woman paused to brace herself – one hand against the wall and another wrapped around her large belly – suppressing a low groan. She was embarrassed and obviously this was her first or she would have been better prepared.

Where was her mother? Maid? He set them up in the stable with fresh water for them as well as their animals and told them he would return shortly with blankets and food. It was the least he could do. Wasn’t it?

As he walked back toward the inn he heard another of her cries and the sound launched him back in time to when his baby sister was born. He was the second son of nine and had listened to births before.

He supposed he could let them have Evie and his room. It was in the back, separate from the others. But what a noisy business! Messy too. No. I will not do that to Evie. I will not make Evie watch a girl give birth in her own bed and then clean up after her too. Besides, if the other guests are disturbed our inn will always be remembered as such and destroy any future business. It is decided then. The barn it is. Evie would not approve but he would do what he must. His wife and his business needed to be priority.

Another cry pierced the night pulling him from his searing conscience and justifications.  The more he thought about it the more urgent the girl’s need became. This girl needs a midwife now! Where is that servant boy?

“Jacob, go get the midwife and bring her to the stable as fast as you can!” Hananiah yelled.

“But Sir! Grandmother Anna left for her hometown day before last. She isn’t – ” Jacob said.

“Then knock on every door and find one! We have no time!” Hananiah interrupted. At the rate she was going that baby may be here before the boy made it back. He watched Jacob, race down the dusty street. Truly, at this point any midwife would do. Any experienced mother.

Bitterness welled up again. Evie would not hesitate to help but she did not have the knowledge needed. He must tell her about the situation though. Maybe he could put it off until after the baby was born. She had her hands full with their guests. And if the guests caught wind that couple would never get any privacy.

“HANANIAH BEN JOHN! What do you think you are DOING? You told that poor girl to give birth in a barn? A BARN!” Fists planted on her hips, Eve skewered him with that fiery look of hers that withers every argument. She was on a war path now and was coming straight for him.

He had known she would not approve, but he had done the only thing he could. Right? That Jacob and his big mouth! What was done was done and right now they did not have time to argue.

“Eve, you must know given everything going on this was the best option. I will not argue with you about it. There is too much to do.” Eve whirled away in a fury. She began slamming open cupboards and ripping out all the brand new linens he had just purchased for their guests. He turned to get fresh water when he heard a ripping sound and his eyes grew round.

“Evie!” Hananiah’s face blanched as Eve ruthlessly tore their new linens to shreds. Never had he seen her so angry. It gave him pause. He turned his back and took a deep breath searching his heart one more time. Why had the barn seemed like such a good idea again? It is much too dirty for a woman giving birth. He knew that!

Before he could remember his arguments, His shame was punctuated by a loud smack as Eve stormed out the kitchen door arms full of the most expensive rags he had ever seen.

…Continue reading my new Christmas Mini-series with The Innkeeper’s Wife on December 11, 2020.

A Year of Change

Today is the first day of Fall, my favorite season and the change in schedule and weather has brought me back from my blogging sabbatical. This year has been so full of life and change sometimes its best to just be still and embrace it. Which is what I did. However, I do not wish to forget so I am going to start catching up! As I remind myself from time to time, life streaks by as a blur and it is the goal of this blog to remember all the little things that make it so perfect.

Here’s a quick recap since March, all of which I will post about soon:

  • Kitchen: We finished our kitchen! After an 8 week full on kitchen renovation, I am happy to say we survived and I have the pictures to prove it!
  • The Natural Disaster: At the end of April, while my husband was on a trip (of course!) we got about 8″ of rain which flooded not just our valley but our home too.  Let’s suffice it to say I now have a streak of white in my hair and I officially look like Anna from Frozen.
  • Girls Trip: My first girls trip to Nashville, TN for my birthday!
  • Potty Trained: Everyone, it happened. I don’t know how we made it here, but we are finally out of all diapers. Which is a huge accomplishment for anyone, even more so when you consider how many this house went through. Shall we say FREEDOM?
  • First Family Vacation: Okay. This post will be full of vulnerability and lessons learned because it was pretty much a nightmare. So – no, our pictures did not make it to social media. However, we may consider selling movie rights if anyone is interested. (Making lemonade here…)
  • Anniversary: 8 Years in August! This was a different year for us as a couple for several reasons. Mainly because, this season in life tends to be demanding. Brian and I saw growth here in 2019. Growth isn’t always pleasant, but if we want our marriage to be stronger and closer it is necessary to work through all the things this season threw at us.
  • Back to School: We made it. It is always a day of tears for me but gosh I am just so proud of these kiddos!

This is all for now. It’s more of a teaser for you and an outline for me! But, I am happy to say that I am back and excited to be actively posting again. I have missed you all! Besides, what better season for you and I to reunite in than the Pumpkin Spice season?

Question for my followers: How important are the recipes to you? Do you want them in the post? Should I simply add them to the home page menu? Remove completely? Please post your thoughts below, I love to hear from you! 

Leslie

Getting Crafty at Chick-Fila-A!

Forgive my absence! I have been trying to play catch up. These kiddos of ours have been keeping me hopping. The beginning of this year has been a little bumpy for us (as you already know) and I am only now feeling caught up. Yesterday I even did three loads of laundry (to which Micah looked at and said, “Mom, why haven’t you done that yet?” …yeah), the dishes and mopped my floors! And now I need a B12 vitamin.

Over here in our corner of the world it has been birthday mania! In the last two weeks we have enjoyed 4 separate parties for our friends and family. So yesterday, when I heard that Chick-Fil-A was doing a Dr. Seuss story time with free coffee for parents… I said, yes please!

So here we are… stuffed into a booth with each kid happily recreating their version of Oh! The Places You Will Go!  hot air balloon. Up to now, I have avoided taking all five to recreational things all by my lonesome. It’s too hard to protect them and keep them together. Very similar to herding cats actually. But the girls are walking now, so I thought to myself, “Hey Les, if it implodes just get back in the car and go home.” Always good to have an escape plan…

Which we didn’t need! Aren’t they cute?

Heads up: I have been reading lots of books lately and I will be reviewing them on the next two posts in lieu of recipes.


Pray for them

Oh. My. Goodness. I saved this prayer in my BiblicalPrayers app and for a solid year prayed it over myself.  Raising kids is hard and I daily need the help of the Holy Spirit. I can tell you from personal experience that spiritual growth does not happen over night, but this verse is powerful and I can see God moving.

Lord, I ask that self-control – fruit of the spirit- will grow to maturity in (name). “Let [him/her] be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of god.” In your name I pray, amen. – james 1:19-20

Prayers taken from the BiblicalPrayers mobile app. Download today on the App Store or Google Play store.


Book Review: The Sea Before Us

This is the first time I read Sarah Sundin, and I loved her. The Sea Before Us is the first of her Sunrise at Normandy series.  That fateful day at Normandy changed the tide of the war and Sarah Sundin did a beautiful job of representing those who served on the sea that day. More intriguing to me was Wyatt’s beautiful story of redemption and Dorothy’s story of self-worth… I highly recommend!

To continue reading the full review, please see The Sea Before Us here.

Leslie

Kids or Coyotes?

It was later than usual. At least, it was for locking up the chickens. So, I marched out there with a flashlight hoping they would all be accounted for. They were. However, they were running low on  food and water. Brian was inside with the kids, and it would soon be their bedtime too. So I thought, I’ll just do it tonight since I have a moment. Bringing the containers back to the house with me, I heard a lone coyote howl. He was down the valley a ways but coyotes and I have never gotten along. When I meet one, I want to have a gun in hand. Which I didn’t. I had chicken feeders. I wondered if I could land a good blow with the feeder or if it would just make the coyote mad.

It’s childish, I know. Coyotes are nearly worthless animals, more scared of me than I am of them. At least, that’s what my dad used to tell me as a child. You see, I have had this aversion since childhood. I grew up next to them and let’s just say coyotes and I never became friends. I heard it howl again, this time closer. I decided the feeder would not be a good line of defense so I decided to hurry this little project along. Besides, it was probably the chickens it was smelling anyway.

As I was finishing this lovely task, I heard another coyote from the other end of the valley answer the first. They were closing in, anticipating a chicken dinner, and I was there in the middle of them. So, as any courageous adult would do, I forced myself to walk back to the house.

As I approached, I could hear it from outside. Brian had announced bedtime and the three toddlers were screaming and crying in protest of the dreaded event. It had been like this all day. And a long day it had been too. I knew what was next. The kids don’t give in that easily. This was a bedtime fight and they wouldn’t concede until they were all doing nose to wall.

Another howl rent the air. My hand was on the door knob. Coyotes or kids? At that moment, I looked inside and hesitated. It had been such a long day with the kids, the fresh, crisp air felt so good and coyotes aren’t so bad… are they? I doubted the pack would even know I was there. I’ll just hang out outside in the dark for a while, maybe walk around the house until the kids concede and go upstairs.

I’m not a smoker. Never smoked a cigarette in my life. But as I stood in the darkness, listening to the pack close in, I desperately wanted something to do with my hands. Smoking a cigarette seemed like it would have been better than nervously poking them in and out of my pockets. I peeked inside again. Kids were still at it. Brian has always had more patience than me. Finally the house grew quiet and I peeked in a window again. All was clear. Now I could peacefully go in and make coffee before going upstairs to help. So what if there was an extra pep to my step? No one was there to witness it.


pray for them

We live in a culture that loves to microwave, yet we serve a God who prefers to marinate. Perseverance does not come naturally, yet the reward is so much greater than we could ever conceive. Let’s pray for our loved ones to persevere in the face of resistance.


Spinach Tortellini

  • 2 packages Mixed Cheese Tortellini
  • 1 qt San Marzano Pasta Sauce
  • 2 cups Chopped Fresh Spinach
  • 1 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

Boil water and add tortellini. Cook for 8-10 minutes until tender. In a sauce pan, bring San Marzano pasta sauce to a simmer and add 2 fresh cups chopped fresh spinach. Drain pasta and add to sauce. Serve with sprinkled parmesan cheese over top.

 

P.S. Don’t miss a thing! Follow Remember The Blur today for parenting stories, farm life, recipes and daily prayers.

-Leslie

What I Will Miss

Everyone seems to think the best response to a hard day at home is: you’re going to miss this. It’s almost as annoying as the “you’ve got your hands full” statement when your kids are having a horrid trip to the grocery store and you’re about to be in tears yourself. Sometimes I want to snap back, “Actually, no I will not miss the perpetual ringing in my ears from the shrieks and screams that have happened all day.”

We hear it all the time do we not? There’s merit to it. It originates from the generations who have gone before us and look back and know that yes, we will absolutely miss this time of life. I just wish someone would go a little deeper. Break it down more for my fried senses to take it in with understanding. Tell me that while I won’t miss the ringing in my ears, I will miss the joyful sound of laughter and the pitter patter of small feet running through my house.

In an effort to stop rolling my eyes the moment I hear you’re going to miss this,  I decided to queue into the beauty in the mess. Focus on things I know I will miss so that I develope an appreciation of this “now” season. So that when it is over I won’t look back and say, I wish I had cherished it more.

I won’t miss the sleepless nights and the black circles that publicize them. But, I will miss those midnight moments when I rock a sleepy baby who is for the moment content to soak up all the snuggles I will give her.

I won’t miss the pain from boney elbows that pierce my chest when they suddenly want off my lap. However, I will miss the times when they wanted to sit on my lap at all and they were small enough to actually fit on it.

I won’t miss stubbing my toe on a talking toy in the middle of the night thus waking up the whole house. But, I will miss watching my kids toddle around while carrying their favorite stuffed animal– usually bigger than they are– under their arm.

I won’t miss the difficult trips to the grocery store with the five of them knocking things off shelves and dropping things from the cart just to see if it will break. But I will miss the days when they begged to go with me because all they really want is time with their mommy.

I won’t miss the dried oatmeal on the floor that hurts my feet when I walk over it. But I will deeply miss the days when we all sat around the table and there were no phones, no radios, no tvs, and no school meetings or practices to pull us in different directions.

For now, in this moment in our family, it’s just us. We are all here, together. Their love for Brian and I is untainted and unconditional. They hear opinions from others but care only for our praise and approval. Right now, in their tender, young hearts no one means more to them than us. Someday, as they grow and mature this will all change. It is as it should be. I will be proud of the independent and strong men and women they will become. But yes, I will miss this.


Pray For Them

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, over 18% of American adults suffer from anxiety disorders. That’s over 40 million Americans. In a society that struggles so much with fear and anxiety, we need to be battling on the front lines for our loved ones to find peace. Peace that persists in every situation and goes beyond understanding can only be rooted in Christ. Let’s pray today for our loved ones to find true peace in their lives.


Perfect Pie Crust


For all I know, this could be straight out of a 1954 Betty Crocker cookbook. But folks, it was handed down to me all the way from my great grandma and it is delicious. It never fails to be perfect. People who don’t like crust only exist because they haven’t tried this one. Pie season is coming up and you need to be ready!

This makes three 9″ pie crusts. Freeze what you don’t need and when you’re ready for your next pie just pull it out, let it thaw in the fridge and bam, you’re set to go.

  • 3 cups Flour
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 cup Lard
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Tbs White Vinegar
  • 2/3 cup Cold Water

Blend flour and salt. Add lard and cut into flour mixture with a pastry cutter until crumbles are pea size. Beat egg in a cup, add vinegar to it and mix together then add cold water. Pour into flour and combine with a fork until it pulls away from the edges. Divide into three even sections. Turn out what you need onto a floured surface and roll it out. Freeze what you don’t need.

If your filling is already cooked, poke holes in your crust with a fork and pre-bake your pie crust in the oven at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Then add your filling. (You poke holes so the crust doesn’t have big bubbles during baking.)

If your filling needs to be cooked in the oven, just pour it into a raw pie crust (no holes) and bake for 45 minutes at 375 degrees.

Note: If you want your crust to turn out just right, you cannot substitute the lard. It’s a completely natural product and makes things deliciously flakey like pie crusts and biscuits. Shortening won’t do your recipe justice (besides it’s made only from chemicals in a lab) and butter doesn’t have the same abilities.

Pancakes & Pumpkins

Weekends are for family in our world. Saturday is my favorite day of the week. Every Saturday we start the morning off with pajamas and pancakes. It’s the only day of the week we don’t have to hurry and get dressed to go somewhere.

Brian gets up early and starts chopping wood for our winter cache. I shuffle into the kitchen and start the coffee and decide what kind of pancakes we’ll have this week.  (Last week was pumpkin-chocolate chip.) Pancakes are my favorite food. I can literally eat them any day of the week for any meal. This weekend we did Apple Spice. It was delish.

PeeWee Soccer is in full force so our little tribe was there representing the grey team fully bedecked with hats, gloves, coats and shin guards. Afterward they came home with three giant pumpkins ready for carving.

After supper we busted out the carving tools and decided what we should create on our pumpkin canvases. Micah voted Lightning McQueen (of course he did) and the others voted for a kitty cat. We did both.

KACHOW.


Faithfulness

Whether now or later, we know our loved ones will face difficulties. It is the inevitable way of life here on earth. Today let’s pray they will remain faithful in the face of struggles and persecution.


Apple Spice Pancakes

Sometimes chopping, seasoning and frying apples in the morning is just too much prep for me. I tried a different avenue this last weekend and it was perfect.

Toothbrushes and Toilets

We made it, Friends! We made it to Friday. This week was a slow one. By Wednesday I was thinking it had to be Friday because of all the things that had already happened. But it wasn’t. On Monday night, after the kids were in bed I sat down to have a nice cup of hot tea when it sounded like an elephant was going to come through the ceiling. I thought, “I should go check on that.” But then I saw my hot cup of tea and thought, “It can wait a few more minutes.”

Well… it shouldn’t have. I stopped at the top of the stairs to overhear joyous squeals and splashing water. As I rounded the corner I found my two bedtime delinquent boys dunking wads of toilet paper in the toilet and lifting it out again. When they saw me standing there silently with my arms crossed with my best I’m-not-happy-with-you face on, Gabe whispers to Micah who is still going for it, “Look behind you.”

Bedtime Delinquents

Lucky for me, there was only the toilet water in there (as if that is a consolation).  I saw their toothbrushes on the counter and thought, if I ask them “Did you…” they will deny it. So I had to word this just right to get the truth.

“Which toothbrushes did you put in there?” Gabe: “We didn’t!!” Micah looks at Gabe with confusion and says: “Yes we did, Gabe.” Apparently Gabriel has caught on quicker to my scheme. This is about the time silence prevailed and then they both started shifting feet. Micah threw his arm around Gabe in a show of support. Luckily I was not so mad as to miss the beautiful moment when Micah tried to lend comfort and support to his brother by throwing his arm around his shoulders. Sometimes I do you know.

Sometimes I miss the beauty in the mess. It’s easy to do when there are so many other things demanding attention. Like what to do with the toothbrushes. Have they all been used or just Micah’s? Lets just say I threw them all away. The next night we made a flyby trip to Walmart where I purchased 3 new toothbrushes and went over how to use them and what to use them on. Again.

Then, the next day, the tree fell down. A giant, beautiful tree that couldn’t withstand the gusty wind fell trapping a power line to the ground with it. I had to corral all the kids and tell them they would not be stepping foot outside until the utility workers had it all repaired.

Gabe misunderstood. He thought I meant that the tree would kill him if he touched it. Try as I might, I could not get him to understand that it was the power lines he needed to stay away from. Over zealous explanation? Perhaps. Although they are all still alive and that’s a successful week if you ask me. Hopefully he’ll get over his fear of trees soon.


Pray for them

Our words have such a profound impact on those around us and even on ourselves. Let’s pray together that those we love will use their words to encourage and build up others rather than tear down.

 


Salmon Pasty

This week I was craving a salmon pastry something. The only reference I had was salmon puffs and I don’t keep puff pastry on hand. So I created a recipe hoping the kids wouldn’t rebel against me at dinner time. It was fish after all. So I made this with what I had on hand. We all sat down, and before Brian and I knew it we had a conversation about work, finished our plates and all the kids had finished theirs too and were asking for more. I looked at Brian and asked if we missed the apocalypse.

You have to try this! It’s salmon so it isn’t too fishy and it is delicious. Didn’t take me any longer to make than the usual dinner time either. Definitely a keeper.

Have a great weekend!

Leslie