wocket in my pocket

Looking for the unexpected in the mundane.

A Quick Note

Let me just take a minute before my husband gets home from work (yes, he had to work 12 hours in the E.R. today, which stinks, but he is almost done with his shift) to say how excited I am about these book suggestions you are giving me. Many of them I have never read and some I have never even heard of. This is like a treasure hunt for me! Thank you and keep them coming!

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Anniversary Giveaway!

WordPress just sent me a congratulatory email saying that I have now been using their blog template for a year. Sure enough, I have. My old archives go back 4 more years but the address I had then was too user surly even for me to remember.  Wocket-in-my-pocket has proven to be a much better address.

The thing that makes blogging so much fun is the feed back from readers. It makes all the difference between, “I wonder if what I wrote was just MUD?” to “Wow, how refreshing to find that there are other people out there like me! or not like me! Either way, they read my stuff!”

I really value your comments. 😉

To show you how much I appreciate you, my kind readers, I am hosting a giveaway! Having been an avid reader of Elisabeth Elliot’s books for many years, I decided to give away one of my favorite of all her books,  a collection of  articles titled “Keep a Quiet Heart”. I pick it up when I feel frustrated, irritated, weary, overwhelmed, etc. You get the idea. 🙂 Her writings have given me courage to carry on when I think I am too tired to “do the next thing”. The most beautiful people I know have this quality… a quiet heart. Isn’t that what we all long for in this very unquiet world?

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Here is how you qualify for the giveaway: Simply leave a comment with a book recommendation for me. See, there is something in this for me too. 🙂 It can be anything from children’s literature to historical fiction to classics. I will leave the giveaway open until August 1. Hope to hear from you!

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The Most Generous Veg of All

Zucchini. I told you that I have a whole post for it. Isn’t it funny that the veggie I dreaded most awfully when I was a child is now one that I crave all year? I used to gag over it, back when my mom cooked it in rounds dredged in flour and fried in butter. In fact, back then I thought the only palatable way to prepare it was in something baked, like cake or bread. Sure, that is a very delicious preparation, but not the best.

My favorite way to eat it is a simple sauté in olive oil with sweet onion, pepper slices and a dash of Nature’s Seasons. I eat that nearly every day for lunch, because you know, with zucchini you have to eat it every day! Even then, I can’t keep up with the generosity of the plants. So here is what I did with one really large squash:

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Yup, that is pizza. I got to thinking one day of a way to replace the crust on traditional pizza, since that is really the worst part of the pizza anyway, health wise. I have made quiche with zucchini in the crust, so it was only an experiment away from this dish. In this photo, you can see rounds of yellow summer squash in the corner, which works just as well. My children struggle to eat squash, but they give this a thumbs up, and you can’t get more picky critics than children.

Here is what you do:

  • 4 cups of zucchini or summer squash, shredded or sliced thin, then gently tossed with
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup flour (I use low carb options, such as almond meal or flax meal. You just need something to hold it together when you serve it.)

Butter a large oven proof frying pan or a cookie sheet and spread the zucchini  mixture onto it. Sometimes I start the cooking process on the stove top to give the crust more of a crust, if you get what I mean, but you can do this totally in the oven. Just use the bottom rack. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and layer on just a smear of pizza sauce, cheese, pepperoni… whatever makes you happy on pizza. In the photo I used bacon because I happened to have some already fried. You could use Ranch dressing, chicken and cheddar or tomatoes and fresh mozzarella with basil leaves. I kind of go with whatever happens to be floating in the fridge.

Return to the oven for another 10 minutes until the toppings are all hot and melty. Enjoy your zucchini  pizza! If you don’t tell the family, they might not even notice. 😉

 

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The Sound of Summer Whooshing By

I want to post everyday, because there is so much stuff going on, and I am barely scraping out one post a week, because there is so much stuff going on. I can’t really think of any cohesive way to make some observations except all hither and yon. So I will just do that, and you can consider yourself warned.

  • Red raspberries. Let’s start there. It is just so delicious to go out and casually pick a quart or two to go with breakfast, and then another bowlful for garnish on the cottage cheese, and then some more to make a rich, gourmet sauce. All this from those ugly, prickly sticks we stuck into the ground a few years ago.
  • Kittens. They are at the most adorable stage of fluffy cuddliness. There are still 10 of them, mostly calicoes and a few cloudy grey ones. We call them our Hutterite cats, because there are 3 mothers who share the care of the kittens. As soon as any of the mothers lies down, there is a scramble of furballs crawling over her to nurse. She automatically starts licking and cleaning any that come within reach of her tongue. They have long forgotten who belongs to who. It is all one happy family. Did I mention that they are incredibly cute? You probably need a kitten or two, yes?
  • Daily showers of rain and very high temperatures. The result of weeks of this is an overgrown garden. I have been trying to pull it back from the brink, and slowly we are making progress. Today I planted 28 broccolis and cauliflowers. Do you know what that means? Fall crop is growing. Already!
  • Eleven pound cabbages and five pound zucchini. Yes, really. I think all the rain and heat contributed to those whales of veggies. Today my sister in law Ruby and I sliced up two enormous heads of cabbage, salted them down and put them in buckets to ferment into the best sauerkraut. Last year we only fermented ours two weeks, as opposed to the six weeks that some people do. It tasted so fresh, almost crunchy yet. I gave Ruby a pint last year, and after eating up the whole jarful herself, she was hooked. (You should know that where some people guiltily eat a whole pan of brownies by themselves, the Peights tend toward whole jars of pickles or whole bags of sour patch kids.) If you even sort of like sauerkraut just a  little bit, you should try the homemade stuff. It is so very easy to make that everyone should try it! If I were a proper blogger, I would have step by step photos and instructions, but there are lots of people out there who will flood to google when you check it out. As for the zucchini, I do have more to say on that tomorrow.
  • Bathtub rings. They are unspeakable these days. I am just so grateful for water running from the faucet, even though we pay for every gallon. Summer is so amazing… and so grubby.
  • Trip to my sister’s in Ohio. It had been over three years since we all went to Ohio to visit my sister. I know, it is like the next state over from PA. But when funds are low, we travel not. So we finally cleared up that bit of neglect and took a few days to spend with Rachel’s family. We showed them how fast 5 children can shred through a box of bandaids printed with cartoon characters (which is why the mother of the 5 children buys Curad strips at discount stores, the number of owies being directly related to the allure of the bandaids.) We spread our stuff all through their little house and made racket and dirt and walked to the corner for ice cream and watched the Apple Creek parade and just had a great time.
  • A grand rearranging of the house in general. We moved the boys into our former guest room now that Gabe no longer needs it to study. Then we restored the room where the boys were sleeping for the last two years back into the den in the basement where the toys and children’s books live. After that the boys’ bunk beds got cleaned up and painted for the girls’ bedroom and the baby got moved in with them in the toddler bed. Guess what the itty bitty nursery will become? My room!!! Not to sleep, silly. To read, to think, to write. I have grand ideas for that room. The bookshelf in our bedroom will migrate over there, and probably the six foot bookshelf in the living room as well. I will have a teeny room, lined with books, a comfortable chair, two sunny windows, and a lock on the door. Hee heee. It isn’t all shuffled around yet, but we are about half way there.  I love moving furniture and changing things around. I do it for fun. Gabe humors me, sometimes a little grudgingly, but he does kindly help me move the heavy stuff. We have this joke that every time we need a new piece of furniture I say, “Not oak. It’s too heavy for me to move it by myself.” Sometimes we switch things up for a while, decide it still isn’t quite right, try something else until I finally hit the feel I am aiming for. All this rearranging is a little busy,(vast understatement there) but it makes me happy that we are utilizing the space we have (900 square feet x 2 with the basement) in a more efficient way for right now. Storing the nursing textbooks that didn’t sell also made me happy. The sociology ones? I kept them out to read in my reading room.
  • Mold. We discovered it growing in our basement rooms, on the doors, on the overstuffed chair, on the leather covers of the books. I went a little mad, washed everything with germicidal bleach, all the walls, the stores of blankets and pillows, etc. Gabe bought a second dehumidifier and fixed the one that was on the fritz, so now it is feeling much drier down there. Again, we had such prodigious amounts of rain, it is no wonder stuff grew. But I detest mold.
  • School. The boys’ DVD’s came. The books are here, but their desks aren’t ready. Gabe wants to make them stations of sorts, movable but fairly permanent. Not oak, please. I feel a little detached from their school preparation since we decided to give ABeka DVD’s a try this year. It feels pleasant, in a way, but I passionately love learning with them, so I am not sure how this will be for me in the long run. I am sure you will hear more about it in future. 🙂
  • Zucchini. Oh, but that is for tomorrow.
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Till Death Do Us Part

Like I do so often, I wrote a post and felt like I need to expand it, just to solidify in my own head what it was I was trying to say.

You see, I really think that a stance of Divorce is not an Option will usually  produce a happier than average marriage. The reason I think that? My husband and I live it. Both of us grew up with parents who were genuinely happy to live together. I see our friends who have this same stance, and I know that they are happy.

Do we not ever irritate each other, are there no problems, no stressors that feel too big to make it through? Of course, we do and there are! There are times when marriage is a lot of hard work, when it feels too difficult to wade through the misunderstandings/differences. There are hormonal shifts, the ebb and flow of the heady honeymoon feelings. There is this thing called Life: one side of the coin is connubial bliss, love and acceptance, roses and chocolate. The other side is life with its brokenness and bills, sickness and babies… 🙂

Think of Life as a river, the water sometimes flowing deep and smooth, sometimes rippling gently, sometimes roaring over big rocks and around logjams. Marriage is the canoe that you got into with your partner, “until death do us part”. The canoe carries the two of  you into some of the most amazing places with breathtaking scenery, but occasionally you do get rudely dumped by some rogue wave that swamps your vessel. Maybe the person in the front of the canoe wasn’t watching for rocks or maybe the person steering in the back didn’t handle his paddle very skillfully and there you are in the water, wet and mad, trying to figure out who to blame.

What if the one partner says, “I have had enough of this! I am gonna walk along on the bank!”  Now that isn’t going to make for very harmonious canoeing. All the joy is gone from the river. The person stumbling through the brush on the bank is having very difficult progress, and the person in the canoe is needing his paddler/rock spotter back. No matter who is to blame, here is what you do. You apologize, you forgive, you dump the water out of the canoe, pick up your paddles, and climb back in.

(I know, I know, that analogy doesn’t hold up completely. Forgive me if you are a kayaker who is having a fine time on the river all by yourself.)

That sounds so simplistic, and it is. Maybe you say, “But don’t I deserve to be happy?” That is the (whiny) chorus that is rising all over our nation as couples split up over their incompatibilities. I think we have lost the way to true happiness. We  assume it is something to find, stumble upon, grab hold of, and hang onto no matter what it costs others.

Jesus said something counterintuitive about life, quality of life, that I think applies well to this question. “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” Matthew16:25  So you want a good life? You want to be happy? You can start by losing your life for the sake of another. That is how you have a good life. Happiness comes from giving, not from some grasping search for that nebulous person that will make all your dreams come true.

One of the major stressors for us has been Gabe’s study. When he is in the books, he gets swallowed into this deep, deep cave where he apparently needs no sustenance or human companionship. As for me, there is this Utopian ideal where we  work the homestead side-by-side 24/7 and just kind of do life happily ever after, never mind everybody else. (Not really, but sort of. 🙂 )

We spent a summer at Faith Builders when Gabe was teaching school. Many days my husband studied 16 hours while I, 7 months pregnant, lived in a hot apartment with 2 little boys. We ate our meals in the dining hall. One day Gabe got so absorbed that he completely forgot about dinner. I waited and waited with two hungry little boys until everyone else had gone through the line.  Instead of doing the sensible thing and going through the buffet line for some food, I took it personally, went back to our apartment and cried. Don’t worry, we apologized, forgave, and got back into the canoe. 🙂

Knowing that nursing school would pose some of the same challenges, we went into it with our eyes wide open. Sometimes the grades suffered and sometimes the family life suffered. But we had lived out 8 years of this Commitment that we would work toward making life sweet and happy together, no bailout plan.  There is a lot of security in that: the two of us, for life! Was it hard? Yes. Did we ever feel overwhelmed? Pretty much every day. Both of us. Did we survive? Are we still in love? Oh yes! We did and we are!

For your information, there are better ways to get attention than crying, ladies. You can always try making a fabulous iced mocha to take to him in his cave. 😉

Think about it. If you know that this is the person that you are spending all of your life with, that is a huge motivation to invest your best into that life. Usually what you give will come back to you, whether that is sour looks and ugly words, or delighted smiles and affirmation. You might as well give it your best shot!

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Any Questions?

In my nest full of birdies, there is one who doesn’t gape his beak open as widely as the others, so I worry sometimes that he will fall through the cracks. When he is sick, he sits very quietly in a corner, demanding nothing more than to be left alone. He has always preferred to be quiet rather than blast his feelings around.

Last week he had a belly ache, and I found him scanning Gabe’s pharmacology textbook. I suppose he was trying to find a drug to help his condition? At any rate, I said, “Gregory, if you have questions, you can just ask Mama. This textbook is probably a little hard for an eight year old to understand.” 

He just looked down, grinned a little, so I probed, “Do you have questions now that you would like to ask?” 

“Well, I have some questions, but most of them I already know the answers to.” And that was all he would say. A little later he came to me with a paper, all folded up. “Here, Mama.”

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Yes, he did copy them out of one of his favorite books, “Encyclopedia of Questions and Answers”. And yes, that was his idea of a joke. On the Stinker Scale, I would put that close to a ten.

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Picking Peas and Marriage

171490Anniversary by Willow Tree

I banned my children from the pea rows. It was just too distressing to me to see them yank heartlessly on the vines, pulling off pods that weren’t filled out, wasting my precious peas. So I made them stay out. I picked my peas all by myself, and I thought long, long thoughts, mostly uninterrupted. 🙂

After that rather cavalier quote from “Just Do Something” about marriage, I kept the cogs turning. Marriage should, after all, never be jumped into lightly. It is irreversible. You can kid yourself that divorce ends it, but it doesn’t. Not in God’s eyes. This is not a popular idea today, even in the evangelical world if the stats are any indication. Fifty percent chance of staying together. That is what they say. That is rather dismal, I say.

So I was picking peas and thinking about this. We have been married nearly 12 years, half another time as long as the average American marriage. Nobody in my or Gabe’s ancestry, not grandparents or aunts or uncles or even cousins, has ever gotten a divorce. Until our parent’s generation, they were all Amish. How is it that they all stayed together in marriage all their lives?

I thought it must be one of three things…

  • They are not as sinful as the average person. Well. We know that isn’t true. Many of our ancestors didn’t even have a solid grip on salvation, and they were definitely sinners.
  • They are just naturally gifted with relationships. Excuse me while I take a little time for a private guffaw.
  • Divorce is simply not an option.

I think that last one is it. I am not going to delve into the intricacies of whether those marriages were all happy or not, because I don’t know. I just know that I value tremendously that heritage of working it out, sticking it out, figuring it out as we live together.

If you want to know what to look for in a marriage partner, look for someone who is born again, submitted to Jesus. Then make sure that they are firmly committed to a lifetime of marriage, no matter what. Because obviously, this doesn’t work so well if only one of the partners hold marriage to be inviolable.

Somewhere I read that a great marriage is always between two people who are great forgivers. You don’t just throw in the towel because he won’t hang up his towel, if you get what I mean.

I don’t want this to be insensitive to those who have suffered the incredible pain of a partner who was unfaithful and left them. I cannot even imagine how difficult that must be.

I am just saying, “Kids, don’t chuck this one away!”

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.”

Mignon McLaughlin

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A New Creation

Just a week ago tonight we got to share with our son the glorious news that he can trade in the burden of a guilty conscience before God for the joy of forgiveness and freedom. It was not a new idea to him. He knew. “I just can’t do what is right, and then I am so frustrated because of it, and it just gets worse. I think about it, but then I just push it away.” He wanted the new heart. We saw him struggle with the decision, knowing he understood, but it was his choice. And oh, joy! We got to witness the goodness of God leading him to repentance. It was so sweet, so simple, so amazing!

My son got a new heart that night. I find myself wanting to hover over him, just like I do over my new born babies. I look into his peaceful eyes and I thank Jesus! I hear him struggle to be kind to his siblings and I see that sometimes it is hard. He is just ten, but already the journey is full of choices.

Here is what I want him to know:

  • Just walk in the light, Son. It is all about that! Jesus will always direct you in ways of light. Take care of the clouds immediately before they block out the sun.
  • It is a long, hard road sometimes, this Way of a New Heart. Believe, no matter how fierce the struggle, that you are already the victor!
  • You are never alone, Son. Never. When you can’t feel the presence of Jesus, find someone who can help carry you there.
  • Don’t lose the wonder of no longer carrying that oppressive burden. Rejoice in the free life!

The list could go on. I don’t want to hover too much, but I do so yearn over my son, my newborn son! What would you say to your son?

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