The Reward for Surviving Rough Seas

The Reward for Surviving Rough Seas
We are all like sea shells tossed about in rough waters and being re-shaped in wondrous ways. But have you ever contemplated the notion that sea shells have to complete their journey through the rough waters before they get to rest on the shore? Yeah, we are ALL like sea shells and Heaven is The Great Shore.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Really Good New Years' Resolution!

Greetings Everybody,

Today I have looked at alot of blogs and have seen a ton of beautiful reflections on the past year.

So I felt compelled to respectfully submit my OWN little chunk of wisdom for the upcoming year...

In 2012 Let's All Try Real Hard To Stay OUT 
of The DOG HOUSE :)
    (photo of Topiary taken by me in 2006 @ Epcot Center in Walt Disney World)

In Him,

Blackeyed Peas, Ham and Cornbread

Greetings Everybody,
When I finish posting this blog entry...
It will be time to start on The Black Eyed Peas!

                                 (NOOO...NOT THAT KIND OF BLACK EYED PEAS )

                                                      I am talking about 
                      This Kind of Black Eyed Peas...minus the sausage chunks

                      (fyi...both of these photo's courtesy of Photobucket...these are NOT my photos)

When I say that I will START on them...I mean that I will have to sort through the package of dried black eyed peas, toss out any bad ones, rinse them, and then soak them for hours and hours in preparation for cooking them tomorrow morning.

WHY Soak Them?
WELL...soaking them softens them, thus causing them to cook faster later on.

TIP:  It also helps if you soak them with a little soda in the water.
-Soda in this case=Baking Soda
-Soda in this case does NOT= Coca Cola
-But fyi, a cup of Coca Cola added to the bean pot when cooking Pinto Beans will do the same thing, plus add a nice flavor too!

WHY should one add soda to black eyed peas as they soak?
WELL...the soda has a very important purpose!

The Soda helps pull some of the....errr....well....the soda helps to reduce helps keep the beans from causing humans to emit copious & window-pane-rattling amounts of methane. lol

Yeah...the soda kinda does what BEANO helps stop the GAS lol.

Sooo... yeah I will be soaking the Blackeyed Peas in water with  some soda tossed in and stirred about for several very important reasons:

1.  I value my window panes.
2.  I value my dignity.
3.  I value fresh air.
4.  I value the fact that we have numerous forms of entertainment to choose from and therefore will not premeditatedly elect to eat food that will cause us to laugh at each others "sounds and smells" as a form of cheap entertainment this New Years Day!

Like I said...Yeah I'm gonna soak the beans. lol

Also, I have a nice Spiral Cut Ham that will go in the oven bright and early tomorrow morning.

Let's not forget the warm cornbread.
And did I mention the butter that will be melted ON the warm cornbread?

It will be simple down-home fare.
And in all likelihood there won't be a green veggie to be found anywhere in tomorrow's lunch... tsk tsk tsk!

I will leave you with a line from the movie "City Slickers":
"The food's hot, brown  and plenty of it."
I now have a theme for tomorrows New Years Day Feast!

In Him,

Friday, December 30, 2011

Confessions of a Coffee Loyalist

Greetings Everybody,
Sitting here sipping my 1st morning cup of coffee and feeling the need to confess.

Until yesterday, I have always considered myself to be a Coffee Loyalist.  
(Furthermore...I like Fru-Fru know...the flavored stuff lol.

Yeah I know, to alot of people that makes me a Coffee Wimp too...but I digress.)

Today however...before I make my full confession...I feel the need to tell my sad but true little story:

I tend to find one brand, and one flavor made by that brand, and I stick with it.

Thus the term "Coffee Loyalist".

I like having MY BRAND  and MY SPECIFIC FLAVOR of that BRAND.

It's comforting.

(lol...and is a type of Identity) 

Consequently I have been emotionally challenged several times when My Brand was suddenly discontinued....and thus have had to find NEW Brands quite a few times.

One day, a good while back, I came across Folgers flavored coffees at the grocery store...and my Eagle Eye landed on Cinnamon Swirl.

I quickly calculated the chances of Folgers being discontinued and deduced that Folgers was indeed a Safe Coffee Brand Bet.

Let's face it, Folgers has been around forever and it's not likely to discontinued by ANY of the major grocery stores around here.

So I purchased my first can of Folgers Cinnamon Swirl and "Viola"...I had found MY COFFEE!

Cinnamon Swirl became my morning Happy Thought.

I have been a Folgers Cinnamon Swirl junkie for quite a while now.

But yesterday...well ...yesterday I cheated lol

I purchased 4 containers of Cinnamon Swirl yesterday...but somehow a container of Folgers Chocolate Silk plopped itself into my shopping basket.

I confess.

It was premeditated.

Just like when David saw Bathsheba taking a bath...I found myself longing after a nice Chocolate flavored coffee.


OH MY's just AMAZING!!!

So OK... I guess I can no longer say that I am a Coffee Loyalist...

But now I don't know what TO call myself...surely this doesn't make me a Coffee Bigamist does it??? lolol

(Funny...I never had this much trouble with my conscience over sipping all sorts of hot teas. In fact, I have a really big collection of various hot teas, and I sample all of them frequently.  Hmmmm....what is it about Coffee that makes me want to Settle Down?  Not sure).


-I will continue to buy Folgers Regular Coffee for my Parents, my Daughter and my Son in Law to enjoy.

-I will continue to buy Folgers Cinnamon Swirl for Me to enjoy.

-And from now on, I will add Folgers Chocolate Silk to the Barista's Repertoire here at Chez Gracie's.'s still all Folgers Coffee...maybe I AM STILL A Coffee Loyalist Afterall?

My New Motto:  Take Life One Cup At A Time :)

In Him,

Thursday, December 29, 2011

WOOT WOOT for Bag Balm

Greetings...gotta give a big WOOT WOOT for a product called Bag Balm.

BAG BALM you say?
Yes BAG BALM I say!

I am now officially a BIG FAN of this stuff!!!

NEVER in my WHOLE LIFE have my hands cracked like they have done since the last round of Prednisone.

There are two deep cracks in every finger I have...yes even my thumbs. 
It's like both of the side edges of every fingernail just sliced open the skin as they grew past the tips of my fingers.

Every finger hurts.

There are multiple cracks on my knuckles, one of them started bleeding today.

And my hands look like I am 310 years old right now.

The Prednisone (Asthma related medication) has attacked other areas of my body too, but that's a different story for another time.

Anyway, one of the multiple errands that we ran today, was to get the antidote to all of this cracked hand stuff.

We went to an Animal Feed Store...thats get Bag Balm.


Because I remembered a conversation from about 20 years ago...with one of hubby's Aunts.

She and her husband have livestock, cows and horses, and she swears by an old product called Bag Balm (originally made for cow udders)...that she uses on her own hands.

She told me that it's the only thing that keeps her hands from cracking, and she told me that I should remember the Bag Balm name in case my hands ever got severely dried out for any reason.

Her words came back to me today.

Sooo in desperation, and for the first time in my life...we bought Bag Balm and I slathered that stuff all over my poor hands...

...and the relief was instantaneous.

It's been about 3 hours since I used it and my hands feel so much better just from that one application.

Tonight I shall slather them again...and put soft cotton socks on my hands overnight...and maybe tomorrow I'll wake up with healed hands.

The consistency is alot like Vaseline...but I tried Vaseline the other day and it did NOT help my hands. Bag Balm has Lanoline in it and contains an Antiseptic as well.

It's WAY better than just plain Vaseline.

It comes in several sizes...this 10 ounce tin cost me just under 8 bucks.

Likely you guys already know about this stuff, but if you don't, here's a picture of it. 

( Disclaimer: I did NOT take this pic. Got it from a random Photobucket selection found when I "Googled".)

Heres the website:           

Also found a reference about Bag Balm (haven't read it yet, but likely will take a look).

            "Bag Balm: Problem-salving for all", John Curran, Associated Press, January 31, 2010

If there is anybody else out there with dry cracked hands...Woot Woot Get Bag Balm! 

In Him.

The Blessings of December 29, 2011

Greetings Everyone,
Woohoo...and I have Happy News.

1. My sister in law has made amazing progress since yesterday.
She is still in the Neurological ICU and still has a feeding tube, and still has an infection, but she is lucid.

She sat in a chair for an hour today.
She turned down pain medication today. 
And she wants the blinds left open so that she can see the sunshine outside.

This is an answer to prayer.

2. My daughters fever has broken and she is feeling better today.  

She said that Little Man still has a cough and a stuffy nose, but that he seems happy.

And so far... my son in law has not caught the cold that his wife and child have.

This is an answer to prayer.

3.  Hubby feels better today.  

The cough is better & the diabetes is in control today.

We had our breakfast date today, ran some errands, and then made the long trip to go see his sister in the hospital (where as I mentioned, we found her tremendously improved).  

Hubby's heart was lighter on the drive back home.

This too is an answer to prayer.

Let's just say we have been rejoicing and that the Ole Family Grapevine has been working overtime today.

Let me also say that OUR Family gives ALL the credit for these blessings to God Almighty. 

We prayed in faith for healings.

He responded with a YES on all counts.

His answer isn't always YES...but today it was!

Sometimes He says NO, and when he does, we have to remember that His Grace Is Sufficient...just like PAUL.

2 Corinthians 12: 17-19 "To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."

But today, His answer was YES.

Ephesians 3:20-21 " Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.


Joshua 24:15 "But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."

But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.

It does make me wonder what would happen if America would really claim            2 Chronicles 7:14
" If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."

I believe with all my heart that HE WOULD RESPOND WITH A YES!

...just a little something to ponder...

In Him,

Huckleberry Preserves and God

Greetings Everyone,
Today I want to focus on one very small gift that we received this Christmas..a little 8 ounce jar of Huckleberry preserves.

My Father in  Law gave this to us, among other gifts, and it would be easy to dismiss the significance of the gift.

But I get it.

We are blessed to live within about 15 minutes of my parents, and within about 20 minutes of my In Laws.

We have a ton of family in this area, and we get to see them all the time.

However, this last summer, during the hottest part of the summer, my In Laws took the RV and went up into the Montana mountains.

If memory serves, they were away from us for a full 2 months.

But clearly they were thinking of us.

Because my Father In Law bought a whole case of 8 ounce Huckleberry Preserves while they were up there, and every single family unit in our extended family got a jar of the preserves this Christmas.

Months ago, he was thinking about how good this would taste on warm buttered biscuits.
Months ago, he was loved us enough to "put aside this small blessing for the perfect time."

And isn't God just like that too!

He sends us blessings, large and small, at the perfect time.

Luke 11:11-13 11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for[a] a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

And He is in charge of time.

Acts 1:7 "He said to them: 'It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority'." 

And yet, most of the time we simply go the refrigerator and get the Huckleberry Preserves out and slather it on our warm buttered biscuits never taking the time to realize that it was not just dumb luck that caused us to have the preserves, or the refrigerator it was in, or the biscuits, or the butter or the oven the biscuits were made in.

We forget that we are blessed.
We forget to say Thank You.
We fail to acknowledge all the tiny pieces of the puzzle of our lives that had to be put in place for us to be where we are today.

But OUR FATHER has been watching over us as we sleep and helping us throughout our whole lives...and we need to remember that HE has been there all along...

Psalms 121: 1-8 
"1 I lift up my eyes to the hills— 
   where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
   the Maker of heaven and earth.

 3 He will not let your foot slip—
   he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
   will neither slumber nor sleep.

 5 The LORD watches over you—
   the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
   nor the moon by night.

 7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—
   he will watch over your life;
8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
   both now and forevermore."

Warm Buttered Biscuits and Huckleberry Preserves sound pretty good right now.

In Him,

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Words All Jumbled Together

Greetings Everybody,

Lots on my mind, words all jumbled together.

Let's see...where to start...sorry if this sounds negative tonight...I'm alright. Just alot going on right now.

1.We are keeping the baby this evening for a few hours cause both of the kids were working this evening.  Son in law will pick baby up around 8 pm, daughter won't get off work till 10.

2. Sister in Law still in ICU...very complicated situation.
Infection, Active Seizures, Kidney Failure at one point (though they THINK that's been corrected now) I said, very complicated situation.

3. Hubby isn't feeling well and has gone to bed already. He has been having issues with the diabetes, and this persistant cough, and fatigue.  Plus he is worried about his sister.

4. Daughter is sick too, but it's not related to the pregnancy.
She has been having asthma troubles and upper respiratory issues too.
She is miserable and because of the pregnancy is limited on what she can take to help with her congestion.

Yet she went to work tonight.

She'll have a hard evening at work, but they need the money and so she went.
She did that because she feels like being able to work is a blessing right now.

I am proud of her for this.

I am proud that she sees that God has blessed her with this part time job.
And I am proud of her for not taking this blessing lightly.
She is being a responsible adult.

Still...I am praying that she will be OK, and that she is not pushing too hard tonight...and that she does not jeopardize herself or the pregnancy in any way.

5.  She is not the only sick one in her family.
My Grandson is sick too and has a nasty cough and a stuffy nose.
He's a little sweetie, but when a fella's nose is stuffy, it's hard to breathe and suck a bottle at the same time.
And that can make a guy pretty fussy.

...So, once I had given him the bottle, and burped him, and changed his diaper...and he was still totally grumpy...I suspected that it was time for a visit to Grandmaws Magic Baby Swing lol.

I'm tellin' ya...that thing is MAGIC.

He went right to sleep.

And he is swinging even as I type...about 4 feet away from me.

Swings are just good for the soul aren't they!

I wish I had a Big People Sized Magic Swing just like his.

I bet I'd sleep good in that thing too.

But since I don't, I can just watch him as he's peaceful to watch him sleep.

When he wakes up, I hope he will be less fussy.

6.  I started this post  with "Lots on my mind, words all jumbled together."
and as I come to the end of this post it is still that way

 The cool thing is that when "Little Man" wakes up it won't matter to him at all...
... cause he has "lots on his mind and his words are jumbled" too lol.

We make a nice little pair tonight! :)

In Him,

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

TOO Much Stuff!!!

taking a wee break...
eating some soup...
contemplating the next round of assault upon the THE JUNK ROOM!

being BRUTAL on STUFF...
sending a ton of Stuff to The Thrift Store...
throwing other Stuff away...
condensing old boxes of Stuff...

Darnit how in the world did we get so much STUFF!


But, I want that room to turn into the Grandkids Room,
so THIS MUST be done lol

Well...the bowl of soup's all gone now, and I am headed back into the fray ....

Wish me LUCK!

In Him, 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Student E and Afghanistan

Greetings Everyone,
Today I get to tell you about a former student of mine with whom I am still in active communication.

Maybe I can "word-paint" a picture of her for you:

She is a light skinned, dark haired, beautiful Hispanic female with a flawless complexion.

She has an athletes body, not an ounce of fat on her.

And she "connects the dots" very quickly, meaning that not only is she intelligent, but she is astute as well.

She has gentle waves in her hair and wears it in a classy style not quite shoulder length.

She has a great smile.

I will call her Student E.

She calls me Momma.

No she is not my child, but I have seen her through a few things.

No she is not my child, but still I am very proud of her.

I can tell you exactly where she used to sit in my classroom and if I close my eyes, I can still see her sitting there.

And I can tell you that I fed her when she had no food to eat and no money to buy any.

It's been several years since she graduated from high school.

She is currently stationed in Hawaii and in January will ship out to Afghanistan with a MEDEVAC team.

How do I know this?
Like I said, we are in communication.

We email, and visit by phone.

She has become a full fledged grown up woman.

And she has fought her way to the top of her chosen profession.

When she first contemplated going into the military, she would come back to my classroom during lunch to sit and talk about her options.

When she went off to basic training, she stayed in contact with me...though her ability to do so was limited.

Through every step, whenever she has gotten "Leave" she comes back to town, sees her REAL family, and then finds a way to see Momma Grace.

She has been calling me Momma for many years now.

I never told her to go into the military.
I never told her NOT to go into the military.

I just helped her itemize her list of Pro's & Con's on the issue.
There were many factors to consider.

She made her own decision on the matter though.

Much to the consternation of some of her family.

She loves her family and she respects her family.

But there was a disconnect there as well.

The cause of the disconnect is fairly simple to diagnose: She is a female.

And unfortunately in Hispanic Culture, sometimes (not always, but sometimes), daughters are not as highly valued as sons.

This was one of those times...

...which has something to do with why she calls me Momma.

We connected.

By Law, Teachers become "In Loco Parentis" (Latin Phrase meaning: In The Place of a Parent) when kids are with us at school.

We are to protect them just as if they were our own.

We know that we are NOT their actual parents, but we are supposed to BE THERE FOR THE STUDENT to watch over, protect and guide them so that they are not harmed.

In this case, my "In Loco Parentis" duties turned out to be bigger than I ever dreamed.

She did NOT get guidance from home about this decision.
There were great difficulties at home.

And school was the secure harbor.

As I said, she has a brilliant mind and she excelled academically.

But culturally, she did not fit "The Mold" that her parents had in mind for her.

She did not want marriage right after high school.

She did not want to be cooking, cleaning, and chasing babies around the house before she reached her 20's.

She wanted something else.

It's not that she didn't want to be married eventually.
It's not that she didn't want children eventually.

But first, she needed to prove herself.

She needed to break out of the cultural mold her family had in mind for her.

She wanted to be In Medicine, but had NO financial ability to go to College.

Her Father lost his job and the small amount of money available would not cover her college.

Because her family was in financial straits she got a job.

She paid for EVERY NEED she had: her food, her clothes, her car, her gas, her insurance, her phone and all the costs associated with Senior Year.

She covered EVERY expense she needed to cover during the last two years she lived at home.

But working came with a cost that she could NOT cover.

Because she had to work the last two years of high school her grades suffered. (She worked 40 hours a week...astonishing huh!)

Because the grades suffered the scholarship opportunities dried up.

No scholarships meant no college. 

Her parents forbid her to file for financial aid for college, and she did not force the issue in order to avoid shaming her unemployed Father.

She took a different tack though.

She researched her goals and how to get there and despite the fact that our country was engaged in war, she opted to go into the military.

Two days ago I got an email from her (the same day I received her Christmas Card from Hawaii).  

She has met someone special. 

He is 9 years older than she is, but is in the same unit, and they will be shipping out together.

She is now "In Medicine".

And she has told me that for the first time in her life, she doesn't feel alone.

It's ironic that she is headed to war-torn Afghanistan with a bright shiny new career as well as someone she loves.

I pray that God protects her and her newfound love.
I pray that they flourish in ways we can't comprehend.
I pray that her REAL family finally realizes exactly how incredible she is.

She has been so hungry for them to value her.
She has longed for their approval and support.
She has craved a loving family.

But Right Now, The Military IS Her Family.


Blood ties are so very strong.
But when blood ties fail to support and value and sustain us...humans will inevitably find OTHER family members who will do what REAL families did not do.

Student E found Me.
Student E found the Military.
Student E found a Man who values her intelligence, her skills, her abilities, and basically everything about her...and they met on a military base in Hawaii.

Who knows, one day she may have it all...the career, the marriage, AND the kids.

Only time will tell.


For those of you who are blessed to have family around you, take a lesson from this story.
CHERISH your family members.
TELL each of them that you LOVE them.
TREAT each of them with dignity and respect.

and if someone does not find STRONG FAMILY LOVE with you, that LOVE can be withdrawn from you and deposited with OTHER people...which is why Student E calls me Momma Grace.

btw...She has asked me to send her pictures from home while she is in Afghanistan.

And I will.


Is there anyone in your life whom you need to FIND time to call right now?

Is there anyone in your life you need to FIND time to go visit today?

Is there someone down the hall in your home you need to go FIND and hug on today?

Just thought I'd ask :)

In Him