Monday, May 21, 2012

A Delivery System for Grace and The Freedom to Be Different and Vulnerable (Grace-Based Parenting by Dr. Tim Kimmel)

Dear friends,

I guess it's been a while since I wrote another installment in my Grace-Based Parenting series on the book by Dr. Tim Kimmel.   I'm sure you'll give me a little grace on that, won't you?   

If you are new to the series, you can read the other posts here:

In today's post, partly to make up for lost time, I am going to cover three chapters:
  • Chapter 6: A Delivery System for Grace
  • Chapter 7: The Freedom to Be Different
  • Chapter 8: The Freedom to Be Vulnerable

Here we go!   Dr. Kimmel's words from the book are in italic, interspersed by my commentary in normal font.


In this chapter, Dr. Kimmel again contrasts parenting by legalism vs. parenting by grace.

"In one sense, legalism is a lazy man's religion.  It's an empty Sunday suit that doesn't require much of a personal relationship with God. It doesn't require much thinking either.  You simply memorize the list of things that good Christians do, and then you try to check off as many as possible during the week.  You also study a much longer list of things that Christian's don't do.  You have to work overtime to avoid doing those things, while at the same time avoiding anyone who does them as well.  My parents slipped into the narrow groove of legalism and found its predictability quite soothing."

"There's something instinctive about turning a belief system into a checklist and faith into a formula.  It's also easy to distill beliefs into programs and rituals that substitute for true intimacy with God.  When God gives you children, you head to church to see if someone has some answers in a prepackaged and predictable plan for turning them into strong Christian kids."

How do you walk away from that kind of legalism, either what you grew up with yourself, or what you have already imposed on your own children?  First you have to recognize it for what it is.  Then you have to form a picture in your mind of what you want instead.  What does grace look like to you?  What does it need to look like to your children?

"One thing I knew:  I didn't want my children to grow up in a home where they felt that God's pleasure was determined by their behavior.  Nor did I want them to feel that there was no latitude in how they lived out the different nuances of their personalities.  Strident parenting formulas have a bad habit of using spiritual molds to create look-alike, sound-like, and act-alike Christian kids.  I wasn't interested in that.  It ran counter to the way God operates in his grander relationship with His creation.  There's nothing about that kind of plan for parenting that encourages an original relationship with God, let along original kids."

After 20 years in the Christian home schooling movement, it is easy to see the kind of peer pressure on parents to make their families conform to some outward ideal or standard.  I certainly got sucked into this for a while, and unfortunately, I even promoted much of it in my own writing.  This is ironic, since one of the beauties of home schooling is supposed to be the freedom to be creative to meet the needs of your own children.  And yet like Dr. Kimmel says, somehow home schooling gets turned into a lifestyle checklist of sorts.  Ultra-conservative curriculum with Bible verses sprinkled liberally (oops, that's a bad word, isn't it?) throughout?  Check!  Ban network TV, Disney videos, and all secular music?  Check!  Girls wearing home-sewn skirts and dresses and preparing to be only wives and moms?  Check!  Courtship only? Check!  Go to church with a bunch of home schoolers?  Check! Homesteading?  Che...  No, wait, I never got to that one, though I have made my own yogurt and once or twice I attempted to grow strawberries and tomatoes!  And we have a pet bunny. Does that count?  To be honest, we never did completely comply with all of those rules.  But they sure looked attractive, and we sure dabbled in them!   And there are many good things to be said about living that way. Unfortunately, we also made it seem like outward performance was what really mattered.  Compliance with our sometimes arbitrary rules was mandatory, and dissent or even reasonable appeal sometimes brought swift and harsh parental judgment.  We're still working our way out of these negative patterns of parenting.  It's hard when it is ingrained!

I just looked up from my keyboard to see my 17 year old daughter sitting on my bed across from me with her sketchpad.  Today she drew a potted plant, a green apple and an onion on the dining room table.  Now there seems to be no model in sight for her to draw -- except for me?!?  Yes, she is sketching me!  I'm curious to know how she sees me, her 48 year old mother with tired eyes and gray hairs popping out left and right.  She is giggling, telling me that her drawing is "humorously bad."  But I'm even more curious to know how she sees the inside of me. Hopefully it is not humorously bad.   Does she see a passion for living and loving well?  Does she see a heart of acceptance and grace?  Does she see her own value and worth reflecting in my eyes?  Does she see someone she can trust and respect?  I hope so!

"Grace-based parenting works from the inside out. Fear-based parenting works from the outside in.... Grace-based families are homes where children are given:

1. The freedom to be different
2. The freedom to be vulnerable
3. The freedom to be candid
4. The freedom to make mistakes"

The next four chapters of the book cover these four freedoms.  In this post, I'd like to go over the first two, the freedom to be different and the freedom to be vulnerable.


"It is not a grace-based home when parents allow their children to be free but then punish them for being different... Declaring war on his differences just because they don't fit our fancy is a good way to snuff out a child's sense of wonder and amazement for a lifetime."

Of course, finding the wisdom to give our children the freedom to be different can be very tricky!  What is a matter of taste and what is a moral issue?  What is a senseless fad and what is a trend to embrace?  And what are the true meanings of worldliness and godliness?  To tell you the truth, I have an almost allergic aversion to the words "worldly" and "godly" because I've seen them so misused over the years.  I confess that my disillusionment over this needs to give way to a more positive discernment!  Why totally ditch the words when they still have some good use in them?  Why not use their power for grace rather than for legalism?

So what is real worldliness?  According to Kimmel, "If we want to understand how the "world" shows itself, don't like at things or actions but rather at attitudes: the lust of the flesh (the desire for sensual pleasure), the lust of the eyes (covetousness or materialism), and the boastful pride of life (pride about our position in the world).  This means that almost anything can have a worldly or a redemptive application depending on who (or Who) we're focusing on in our hearts."

"I'm not advocating raising out-of-control, over-the-top kids.  But inside the boundaries of respect and honor, there's room for our children to be the creative individuals God made them to be."

So does it really matter if your son wants to dye his hair purple if his heart is already gold?  Sure, there might be practical ramifications to discuss, but is even the mention of it seen as rebellion?  What if your daughter tends to laugh a lot and be a bit rambunctious, and you are naturally a quiet introvert?  Should you project your preference as being the "godly" way for a "lady" to live and disapprove at her "prideful" attempts to "call attention to herself"?  Is there the freedom to be ourselves?  (I just ordered a Christian book called Strong-Willed Child or Dreamer? by Ron Braund and Dana Spears. I think it will address the topic of kids who just want the freedom to be creative rather than boxed in by rigid rules.  I'll let you know what I think after I read it!)

If you want respect as parents (and you should), then you should be willing to grant that same courtesy to your own children.  Listen.  Respond, not react.  Look at the heart through the lens of grace.  Don't be quick to judge.  Seek to understand, then to be understood.  Go for a workable and cooperative relationship -- and this goes both ways!  I know that the same goes for our spouses.  We are different, but do we grant each other that freedom to not think or act the same?  Is the popular phrase "being on the same page" used to unite or divide?  (As in, "How can we understand each other and come to some sort of agreement?" rather than "You don't think like me and I know what's right, so you obviously must be wrong!")

Slice-of-life side note: Because we have a large family, when I bake chicken thighs, I do two pans.  We each have our own different tastes, which I try to reasonably accommodate, so I usually do one with teriyaki sauce and one with barbecue.  I usually end up eating both kinds!  I got up from the computer a little bit ago to get our dinner  in the oven, and asked my 11 year old daughter to get out the barbecue sauce and pour it over some of the chicken.  She wasn't exactly wearing a frilly apron; in fact, she was standing on her skateboard, right there in the kitchen, just like a modern day Caddie Woodlawn!  


"One of the great things about God's grace is the safe haven it offers to a transparent heart.  He doesn't require masks in the throne room."

"There's no sin too bad, no doubt too big, no question too hard, and no heart too broken for His grace to deal with."

"Children are born with an unsophisticated set of emotions.  It's not that their emotions are underdeveloped.  It's simply that they haven't had the time to temper them within the crucible of daily life.  Their immature emotions can often prove unreliable for the situations they find themselves in.  They are prone to vast mood swings, vain imaginations, and inordinate fears.  They need to be in a home where parents don't overreact, underreact, or write them off."

Yes!  I agree!  Wow, these childhood years can be full of fluctuating emotions.  We expect them to think and act rationally.  Do we even always think and act rationally ourselves?  Add in a night of poor sleep, a bad day at school, or a friend who has slighted them, and it gets even more complicated.  Our homes and communities are laboratories for learning how to deal with the realities of life. It's a lot of trial and error.  We shouldn't expect the right answer the first time we do the experiment.  Remember Thomas Edison, failing 999 times to get the light bulb right?  It took all of those failures to get to the one success!  Hopefully it won't take us that many failures in a row to figure out basic parenting, but I'm sure I've made at least 999 motherhood mistakes -- each year!

Also, as Dr. Kimmel reminds us, our feelings don't always match up with the facts.  That improves with time and maturity, as we learn to interact intelligently with our surroundings and not get jerked around by momentary impressions.  For a child, though, this is particularly challenging.  They need us there to help them think it through, to ask questions, to clarify impressions, to counter false information, encourage their hopes, and console them in their disappointments.

I want my children to know that they can talk to me about anything, that I won't react in shock, horror, hasty assumptions or harsh judgments.  At times, I've done a halfway decent job at this.  Other times, I have failed miserably, and I know how hard it is to regain a child's trust after I've broken it again and again with my lack of discretion.  I hope I have learned my lesson and that my kids will  know deep down that it is safe to be vulnerable with their mother.

I know that I need to feel safe being honest with God.  It seems like a no-brainer, doesn't it?  But if you've been disappointed with life and especially with other Christians who seemed to have all the answers, it might not seem like he is a loving Heavenly Father after all.  That's when it helps to remember that grace is not based on my performance, but on the sacrifice of Jesus for you and me.  How much more loving could God get than to die for sinners, taking their punishment, and, much more (!) offering them true, intimate fellowship with himself?

As I am reading these three chapters, I see how much I need grace as a mother.  I must get a good grasp of it in my own life before I can ever hope to deliver it to my children.   Our home can so often be filled with chaos, conflict and confusion.  There are so many areas where I personally need inner healing, true godly wisdom, and a reasonable perspective for handling the challenges of each day.  How about you?

A few last words from this chapter....

"Children with parents who find their ultimate love, their profound purpose, and their supernatural hope in Jesus Christ have parents who can show them how to face their vulnerabilities with a love that is secure, a purpose that is significant, and a hope that is strong."

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9)

You might also like to read:

    And, from one of my other blogs,

    "Encourage with discretion all that is good in your pupils; let them feel your support without being embarrassed or hampered by it.  Education, as the very word shows, means helping someone to develop himself, to draw out all that is good in him.  It is the greatest of all benefits.  That too is the meaning of the expression to direct¸ direction.  Unless interpreted in this sense, I like the word formation less; it seems to me to carry the suggestion of a preconceived form into which one is to force people whether they like it or not.  But people do not lend themselves to this kind of treatment and so the form remains empty. 

    Remember that it is our souls which are God’s joy; not on account of what they do for Him, but on account of what He does for them. All that He asks of them is to gladly accept his kindness, his generosity, his tolerance, his fatherly love.

    Do not worry any more about what you are or are not. You are the object of His mercy. Be satisfied with that and think only of that."  

    Abbe de Tourville

    Virginia Knowles

    Sunday, May 20, 2012

    One Mom's Trash is Another's Treasure

    Dear friends,

    Over on the Simple Design blog, they are asking folks to share their favorite "thrift hauls" -- items they have obtained free or cheap from yard sales, thrift shops, Craigs List, or, my favorite, the neighbor's curb.

    On the way home from church today, we spotted a yard sale at a home that has had great sales before.  So we stopped, and I found a cheery serving bowl for 75 cents.  I brought it home, washed it out with hot soapy water, and immediately filled it with a pile of Granny Smith apples to put out on the table. 



    I found the 24" x 24" big pillow on top of a trash pile down the street a few weeks ago.  There was a matching one, but the ruffles were torn on it, so I left it there.  I should have taken it anyway, and seen what I could salvage from it, even if just the fabric. Did I mention that I snatched it as the garbage truck was rumbling down the street?  

    My all-time favorite curb side treasure: the rocker recliner I have spent countless hours in over the past 10 years.  Has it really been that long?  This was my favorite go-to spot while I was pregnant and nursing my last two babies (now 6 and 9 years old), and it's still my favorite place in the house to sit!  Now I get to rock my two grandsons in it!  It's in my bedroom right next to my bookcase.  Years after I found this chair around the corner with a "free" sign on it, I noticed the homeowner in his yard and thanked him.  He said the chair was in the house when they bought it, and didn't go with their furniture.  He figured someone else could use it.  He was right!  We also got a white bookcase from his curb about the same time.

    This is really only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the dozens of items in our house that I bought cheap, found for free, or received as hand-me-downs from a thoughtful friend.  I'd be here all day if I took pictures of all of them!  I am thankful for God's provision for our needs, even if it is something someone else has already used and enjoyed.  I don't like junk, but it doesn't take fancy to make me happy!  With 8 of my 10 kids still living at home, thrifty is the name of the game here!

    Virginia Knowles

    Saturday, May 19, 2012

    Motherhood (A Little Word to the Weary)

    This weeks's theme for the P52 photo project is Mothers.  The best time to post submissions is early in the morning, and here it is noon Friday, so I'm late for the party today!  Oh, but wait!  P52 just moved to Kent Weakley's blog, and the new submission day is Saturday!  Phew!  I guess I'm actually early after all!  I'll post here today and link there tomorrow.  I usually try to write something encouraging to go along with my pictures.  I feel like my blog visitors get more bang for their click that way.

    Anyway, what do bubbles have to do with moms?  Well, moms wash a lot of dishes.  I happened to be filling up a pot with soapy water and loved the visual effect of the bubbles.  If you stretch your imagination, this blob of bubbles almost looks like a heart!  Yeah, I'm sentimental like that.  There are some days that are so mundane I would wish for anything to be more exciting than a sink of bubbles.  Others days are so complicated, that I wish that's all I had to deal with.  Yes, there are the fun times, the warm and cozy times, the profound insight times, the "this makes it all worth it" times.  But we all have those moments, those days, even those years when we wonder how much longer we can hang on.  I'm sorry I don't have too many profound answers for you right now, but I do want to leave you with a quote from Alexander Pope that I heard at my daughter's induction ceremony into the Thespian troupe at her high school.  The words in large font are their motto, but they would be just as good for us moms, don't you think?

     "Honour and shame from no condition rise; 

    Act well your part, there all the honour lies." 

    You can't always control what happens to your family,

    or how much money you have to pay for that,

    or what your children will choose to do or not to do, 

    but you can do your very best as a mom, acting well your own part,

    not the part of the mom down the street or on your favorite blog.   

    Don't let that be a heavy burden to you.  It shouldn't be.

    Talk to God.  Talk to an understanding friend.

    If times are tough, remember:

    "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning."

    If you need a little extra encouragement, may I recommend:

    And, let me give a huge shout out to a sweet friend who has made my motherhood experience so much more enriching for the last 19 years.    Happy birthday, Cheryl Bastian!  The rest of you, go take a peek at her web sites and enjoy the warm-hearted inspiration and ideas for mothering and educating your kids!

    Virginia Knowles

    My family, including two sons-in-law and two grandchildren

    This blog post will be linked at the P52 photo project.

    Project 52 – P52 with Kent Weakley

    You can see my other P52 photos here: P52 Photo Page

    Sunday, May 13, 2012

    Knowing That She Hath Wings

    While cleaning yesterday, I found this little book of inspirational sayings wedged between my favorite reading chair and my bookcase.  I flipped it open to this page and stopped.  Yes, that speaks to me right now!  I thought it might encourage other ladies, too.

    It's Mother's Day, and I was curious to see our how our pastor would handle a day that can be so difficult for those who long to be mothers, or who have lost their mothers or a child to death, or who have wayward children, or who have strained relationships with their own mothers.  I am grateful for the sensitivity of his prayer for all of these women.  Being a nurturing woman, whether to your own children or to others God sends on your path, can be very challenging and sometimes disheartening.   It is tempting to give up when the going gets rough.  That is why I like Victor Hugo's words so much: 

    Be like the bird
    That, pausing in her flight
    Awhile on boughs too slight,
    Feels them give way
    Beneath her and yet sings,
    Knowing that she hath wings.

    There is much in my life that gives way, that can't hold the weight of my expectations.  Yet I am not at the mercy of circumstance, nor held captive by what others say and do.   Every day, including today when things haven't exactly gone as I planned, I have to remind myself to rise above it all and fly.  God has empowered me with wings.  

    On the last day of our home school co-op on Monday, I wanted to give my English students one more life lesson.  I told them how Jesus, during the Last Supper, knew where he came from and knew where he was going, so he had the security to wash their dirty feet, humbly serving his disciples instead of demanding the honor that was due to him as the Creator and Redeemer.  I know my identity in Jesus as one who came from the creative love of God and is destined for an eternity without sorrow or shame.  That gives me wings. It helps me find my own voice to sing.

    So do these kind Mother's Day words from my 19 year old daughter Joanna: "My mom has raised the first five of her ten to adulthood and still has 12 years until the youngest of the following five graduates high school. Some people may say that is crazy, yes. Some days she feels at the end of her rope and calls herself crazy. I say that she is a woman of commitment, a woman of love, and a woman of intuition. Over the past several years in particular, I have watched her blossom even more into being a woman of strength who develops her own convictions (not blindly accepting the ones of those around her) and lives them out boldly, yet graciously. This speaks worlds to me. Mom-- you are beautiful, you are unique, and you will always be in the hands of God. I love you."

    I leave you with a few verses from one of my favorite Psalms, which I memorized when I was a newlywed.  Friends, even in times of tears, you have a safe place, you have strength, and you have wings.

    "Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young -- a place near your altar, O LORD Almighty, my King and my God.  Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.  Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have their hearts set on pilgrimage.  As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools.  They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion." Psalm 84:3-7

    If you have had a negative experience with a church or other Christian organization, you may wish to read: Recovering, Still...

    Virginia Knowles

    Saturday, May 12, 2012

    Aldi Product Review: Blueberry Pancakes and Syrup

    This morning I wanted to take my youngest daughter (age 6) out to breakfast at Bob Evans since she's never been there and has asked about it, and all of the other younger kids were away from the house.  Unfortunately it didn't work out (not in the budget right now) but I had a great alternative.

    One of my co-op students gave me a box of Aunt Maples blueberry pancake mix and a bottle of Berryhill wild blueberry syrup as a thank you gift for on the last day of class, which was Monday.   I figured we could do just as well as Bob Evans right in our own kitchen.  I whipped up a batch and they certainly are delicious.  The only thing I needed to add was water, and the oil for frying them in my skillet.  They came out nice and fluffy and yummy.  The syrup is thick, so it goes a long way. These brands are from Aldi, where I shop every week, so I know I'll be buying more of the same!

    My friend Tonya has an on-going series of Aldi Product Reviews on her blog Mrs. T.'s Thoughts From a Titus 2 Mom.  She often includes recipes (such as stroganoff using Aldi sour cream) or preparation tips (such as how to cut up a fresh pineapple). Take a look!

    You might also like my posts:
    Virginia Knowles

    Tuesday, May 8, 2012

    A Day in My Kitchen (Nine Years Ago)

    A Day in My Kitchen

    from my archives: August 20, 2003

    Last week while I was grocery shopping, I called my daughter Mary (16) to ask what ingredients we needed to prepare an authentic African meal to go along with our "Around the World" unit study. By divine coincidence, as I doubled back to the spice aisle to get some ginger, I met (for the first time) a Hope Chest reader, Lataine! She seemed fascinated by what really goes on in the Knowles house, where to an outsider, life seems like such an organized and educational adventure. So, Lataine, welcome to my recollections of what happened in my cozy kitchen on Wednesday, August 20. Let’s see how adventurous and (un)organized we can really be! Here’s the rundown.

    Inspired by the arrival of a sample Taste of Home magazine, and the fact that I hadn’t had to cook for the previous two nights, I decided to have a "day in the kitchen" home ec class with two of my middle children, Joanna (10) and Lydia (8). They were rarin’ to go, but at least they let me take a shower first. Before we started, I neatly wrote a list of 6 goals for the day:
    • Make an African dinner, with two kinds of chicken, banana-coconut bake, and peanut butter candy.
    • Prepare sub sandwiches for a beach trip the next day.
    • Make brownies to take to the home group Bible study that evening.
    • Make dinner for tomorrow night, using ground beef I had browned earlier that morning.
    • Reorganize the cabinets and refrigerator.
    • CLEAN UP!
    Here’s what ACTUALLY happened:
    • I dropped and broke my favorite French White casserole dish, which I had used almost every day. After nostalgically moaning over the fact that it had been a wedding present, I realized I had broken the original one years ago, and this one was a replacement anyway. Cleaning up shards and splinters of glass definitely set back my schedule.
    • With Julia’s help, Lydia typed in a menu for The Africafe’ (my nifty name for our "ethnic restaurant" that evening) on the computer. I told her not to print it yet, because there might be some changes. That was certainly prophetic... Later, when she actually went to print it out, the printer wouldn’t work, and she had to write it out by hand. This took two tries.
    • Joanna cut up the onions, which made her eyes water fiercely. I discovered that she was painstakingly cutting each little piece. I had to show her how to slice the onion into several pieces in one direction, and then, holding it together, make slices in the other direction. Lydia diced the garlic, after I showed her how to pull off a clove and peel its natural papery covering. (Isn’t it amazing how God preserves even a lowly bulb of garlic?)
    • I had planned to use leftover potatoes for one of the recipes, but found out at lunch time that they were almost gone. So we had to choose another recipe.
    • It’s a good thing we had a little honey left over from the peanut butter candy, because it made a good substitution for the brown sugar in the Akwadu (banana-coconut bake). I THOUGHT we had some brown sugar in the cupboard, but it turned out to be Spike seasoning.
    • Joanna wanted to make macaroni and cheese for lunch, but we discovered that we were out of butter, too. (Strike three! What IS this about running out of things I thought we had! So much for shopping efficiency... ) Joanna begged me to go to Sam’s and buy some, but I had already been to Sam’s the day before -- and the day before that! I had also been to Winn-Dixie the day before. Joanna made cornbread instead, which supplied continuous crumbs for our floor for the remainder of the day.
    • My little boys were acting like a thundering herd of elephants, stampeding through the kitchen at regular intervals, despite me barking "OUT! OUT!" We finally sat them down to watch the Veggie Tales video The Ballad of Little Joe. Even I started dancing to The Belly Button Song!
    • The only kitchen organizing I got done was putting my spice jars on a lazy Susan in the cupboard. That’s when I discovered that I had recently bought a tiny $3.29 jar of curry in vain -- we already had some!  (I did finally get around to organizing the kitchen on Saturday.  I hope everyone can find the stuff I moved around!)
    • I had perched the cookbook on a book stand to keep it clean. Somehow, while I was putting Naomi (2) down for her nap, the book ended up flat on the counter, covered in peanut butter and honey. And it was a library book! (This cookbook is wonderful! It’s The Multicultural Cookbook for Students by Carole Lisa Albyn and Lois Sinaiko Webb j641.59)
    • I also ended up with honey and other assorted sticky foodstuffs all over my clothes. It’s a good thing I remembered to change into a clean dress before my husband walked in!
    • Speaking of my husband coming home, he hates to see dishes in the sink. We ran three dishwasher loads (mainly bulky stuff) before then -- but he still ended up scrubbing out the serving dishes! Sigh... Mary did a fourth dishwasher load after we left for the Bible study. Yes! Also, one child who had to help with dishes earlier in the day kept whining, "I hate dishes! I hate dishes!" Double sigh...
    • The beach trip got cancelled due to a scheduling conflict, so I didn’t make the subs. I never did get around to making an extra dinner, either. Rachel (12) stepped in and made brownies for me when I was at the point of meltdown.
    • All of this cooking adventure was interspersed with diaper changes, baby bottles, preschool mischief, potty messes, apple juice spills, several phone calls, and tutoring sessions with Julia (14), Rachel and Andrew (6). Rachel was trying to do an experiment for Physical Science which called for a 9 volt battery. We thought there was one in our science supply box, but it was a D battery, so I took one out of our smoke detector. The experiment involved hooking two pieces of insulated wire to the battery terminals, then submersing the other ends in a glass of water and baking soda to see them make the water bubble and turn blue. One wire end was supposed to turn blue, but it fell off. The other wire’s end turned black. Rachel was upset that the experiment didn’t turn out like the book said, but I told her just to write down in her lab book what actually happened and not worry about it. Of course, I was simultaneously trying to make sure that the Galinha Muambe (fried chicken marinated in lemon juice, garlic and onion) didn’t burn!
    • There seemed to be way too much water in the Chicken Moambe, which is stewed. I asked Mary, who had just gotten home from work, whether I should pour it off or keep it in before adding the other ingredients. She wisely advised me to pour some off and keep some in. I guess I’ve taught her well, huh? I decided to use this extra broth to make a vegetable and rice curry dish with squash, carrots and turnip. Gotta use up all that curry powder! By the way, did you know that curry powder is not a single spice? It’s actually a blend of turmeric (which gives it that delicious yellow color), coriander, cumin, fenugreek, ginger, cinnamon, red pepper, cloves, allspice, mace and cardamom. Imagine that! I’m getting an education in my own kitchen!
    • One of the kids, noting the similar recipe names, wondered if "moambe" and "muamba" both mean "chicken." One of her sisters retorted, "Of course not, because then Chicken Moambe would mean Chicken Chicken!" We conjectured that Moambe means stew, casserole or something like that. Does anybody out there know? Rachel wanted to know why I made TWO chicken recipes. "Because I’m crazy and like to make extra work for myself," was my tired reply.
    • We finally got to sit down to our authentic African meal, which had cooled off by the time we sat down. Rachel informed me that she doesn’t like chicken, and would only eat the curry dish. Micah (4) didn’t want to eat his rice, but I told him to eat one more forkful. He had dropped his fork under his chair, so I said he could pick some up with his hands and eat it. He grinned and picked up one little grain of rice! Nobody complained about eating dessert, although a few of the little ones balked at the peanut butter balls until I told them it was candy. Sure enough, they liked it! After all, mother knows best! (HAH!) 
    So there’s the real scoop. Laugh if you want, but that’s what goes on in the Knowles house sometimes. Oh, and don’t think I do this every day, either.   I'm not THAT crazy!  Usually we have something easy and tame like spaghetti.  (However, there is a method to my madness.  This experience served as a practice run for a meal we are bringing over to my mother-in-law's house soon to share with her part-time caregiver, Dorothy, and her family.  They are from Lusaka, Zambia!)

    Note in 2012: We had another little girl, Melody, two years later, and she's learning to cook a little and make a lot of new kitchen messes. Mary and Julia are both married and in charge of their own kitchens, and Mary has two small sons.  Rachel and Joanna are both in college, though living at home.  Cooking for 10 can still be chaos, and getting kids to do dishes is still as difficult as it was then. :-)  For more on what we do in our kitchen, check out my Recipe Box and Food Page at my other blog.

    This post is linked here:
    Raising Homemakers

    Equip & Encourage Blog CarnivalThis post will also be linked at my Equip & Encourage blog carnival and to Ann Kroeker's Food on Fridays.  Click the pictures to come join the fun, whether it is adding your own link or visiting the other participating blogs!

    Friday, May 4, 2012

    Fiesta and Siesta, Celebration and Rest

    Yellow Iris at Cranes Roost
    Last Friday night, my husband and I wanted to go out for a date night.  I looked on a friend's blog and found that there would be a free blues concert at one of our favorite places to stroll, Cranes Roost, a park with a boardwalk around a lake adjacent to a shopping mall.  The picture of these yellow irises looks out over the lake, with lighted buildings and the night sky in the background.

    project 52 p52 my3boybarians.comThe theme of the Project 52 photo meme this week is "Fiesta or Siesta."  Thinking of that, truthfully, both of us were so exhausted that we crashed at home for a half hour before we even went out for our date.  So I guess we had our "siesta" before we had our "fiesta."  The park was full of loud music and people, since apparently they were hosting a wine festival at the same time, and two other musicians were playing not too far away from the blues group.  We really only listened to a few of the songs before heading off to walk around the lake, and then going home to crash again.  We are such party animals aren't we?  Hey, it was free!  Anyway, the irises seemed so quiet and restful in the middle of such goings on.  At the same time, the colors of the yellow petals under the street light (or is it path light or boardwalk light?) seem a little gaudy and festive, like they were flamenco dancers or something.  Yeah, flamenco and the blues and a little James Taylor from the other band.  What a mishmash.

    I thought some more about "fiesta and siesta" or in Bible language "jubilee and shalom" or simply "joy and peace." In my life, I know that authentic celebration and rest flow out of trust.  It is hard for me to genuinely celebrate or rest with someone I can't trust.  My guard is up too much.  That certainly goes for relationships with other people.  That goes for God, too, though in his case, it's not that I can't trust him (since he is utterly trustworthy) but that my misconceptions of who he is sometimes sway me from being confident of his love and grace.  And when it is hard to trust, the problem is compounded by the shame that comes from doubting him.  What kind of Christian am I, anyway?  A normal one, I guess!  God is big enough, tough enough and yet tender enough, to handle whatever doubts I have.  The more I trust, the more I can calm the angst and learn to worship freely again.

    Product DetailsMy counselor, Roger Shepherd, recently handed me a book, The Cure: What If God Isn't Who You Think He Is and Neither Are You? by John Lynch, Bruce McNichol, and Bill Thrall.  I haven't finished reading it yet, but even the opening chapters remind me of an audio message by John Lynch that I heard a couple of years ago, as well an on-line video clip called "When You Get Tired Enough" covering much the same material. You can find it on my other blog here: Grace.  It's about living by God's grace rather than striving after religious performance.  It certainly ties in rather closely with the celebration and rest theme.  I'll try to write more about it later when I've finished it.

    “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

    "You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever."  Psalm 30:11-12

    "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these."  Matthew 6:27-29

    Peace and joy, my friends!

    Virginia Knowles

    project 52 p52