The Cracked Pot

A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years, this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water in his master’s house. The perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.XGltYWdlc1xjb250ZW50XG5zanU0eXhsazJfY3JhY2tlZF9wb3QuanBnfDMwMHwxODB8My8xNi8yMDE3After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you”.  The bearer asked, “Why? What are you ashamed of?”  The Pot replied, “For these past two years I am able to deliver only half of my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house. Because of my flaws, you don’t get full value for your efforts”.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion, he said, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.”  As they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it somewhat. 

pathway-clipart

The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.”

(This story is reposted from:  Moral stories:  The Cracked Pot.  Images are free clip art.)

My takeaway from this story is all flaws are subjective and based on our own interpretations and perspectives. We are all cracked pots with our own unique flaws. As we age, the wrinkles or sagging skin, less mobility, the emptiness of a marriage gone stale, the children who grow up and move away, the feeling of no longer feeling needed or appreciated can contribute to the insecurities of looking at yourself as being “flawed”.

But the truth is we are all valuable in ways we can’t always see. Sometimes, it’s the “cracks,” or what we perceive as imperfections, that create something unexpected and beautiful. These “cracks” allow something to change and ultimately make the whole much richer and more interesting. Do not underestimate yourself by comparing yourself with others. It’s our differences that make us unique and precious.

Remember ~ enjoy the perfume of the flowers on your side of the path.

2018 Masters

The Masters Golf Tournament, held each year at Augusta National Golf Club, in Augusta, GA is currently the hottest ticket in town.  Getting a ticket to the actual tournament is extremely difficult and can cost $$$.  This tournament is unlike the others because the golfers are “invited” to participate. There are about 20 qualifications for invitation, such as being a former Masters champion, U.S. and British Open champions, etc. but it doesn’t guarantee these golfers will actually receive an invite.

There is a lottery held each year which gives people the opportunity to purchase tickets for the practice rounds.  We enter the lottery every year and the last time we got tickets was 15 years ago.  This year, however, we were able to get two tickets and made plans for the two and a half hour drive.

IMG_E5671

You are not allowed to bring in cell phones or any other type of electronic device as these are prohibited at all times.  Cameras are only allowed on Practice Round days.

We arrived early on that lovely spring morning and the place was already packed with people. You are not considered a “fan” but a “patron” once you enter through the gates and therefore you are treated as a valued attendee.  In exchange for viewing one of golf’s greatest spectacles, patrons are expected to behave with the utmost dignity and act courteously to other patrons and the golfers.  No running, booing or shouting phrases like “You’re the Man!” will be tolerated and could result in dismissal.  If you are a ticket holder this privilege could be taken away for good if you are one of the violaters.

One of the first things we noticed was the line for the gift shop.  Unbelievable! I later read in the paper that it only took about 11 minutes to get in the shop and the check out system was fast and efficient. Once you got inside, as long as you weren’t claustrophobic, you could shop to your heart’s content!  As we wandered the course, we noticed a few small pop-up shops that just sold sunglasses, hats, and chairs so we jumped in these very short lines and bought M. a hat.

fullsizeoutput_1d6a

The course is so lovely in the spring, and these photos just don’t do it justice.  The holes are all named after plants and are adorned with the plant for which it is named. For example, Pink Dogwood is the second hole, the eighth hole is Yellow Jasmine, and the 18th hole is Holly.  Azalea plants are everywhere on the grounds and look so pretty! I am sure these dates are the peak season for these lovely flowering plants giving the course this small window to really shine.

fullsizeoutput_1d69

12th hole.

fullsizeoutput_1d74

13th hole.

Located on the grounds are 10 cabins providing lodging for members and their guests.  The cabin on the right is the Eisenhower Cabin built in 1953 for President and Mrs. Eisenhower.  He is said to have visited this course 45 times before, during, and after his presidency.  When Eisenhower was not in residence, it was used by other members.

 

One of the most famous traditions of this tournament is the presentation of the green jacket.  Not sure who these guys are, but you have to be the creme de la creme or a member of the press to be standing in this area of the clubhouse.

fullsizeoutput_1d6e

The jackets are a symbol of the club’s elitism, and of its mystique. Only members and winners of the tournament wear these jackets. A winner is only permitted to remove it from Augusta for the first year after his triumph – after that it joins the others, kept by the club, to be worn when they return. It is the Augusta National’s way of preserving its status, of ensuring that no jacket goes missing (although Gary Player made so many excuses as to why he hadn’t returned his that he was eventually allowed to keep it in his personal museum in South Africa).

fullsizeoutput_1d77

The highest of standards were evident in every aspect of this facility. The southern hospitality of the employees made you feel special and welcomed. The pine straw islands were twig and rock free; and the grass almost looked fake it was so flawless.  The efficiency of the traffic management from the restrooms to the concessions was a breeze.  The price of food was amazingly cheap.  I got an egg salad sandwich and a generous glass of lemonade for $3.50.

This is a day we won’t soon forget.

Side note: It was recently announced they are going to host the final round of the first Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship next year in the week before hosting the Masters.  In the 85 year history they have never hosted an amateur tournament. 

 

 

Savoring Sprinkle

The anticipation of waiting for the birth of a grandchild is a feeling that never gets old.

We are a blended family and we have 15 grandchildren between us so far ~ 14 of which are living here on this Earth and one we will meet in heaven some day.  We have twice as many boys as girls. M. and I have been in each others lives long enough to have welcomed 11 of these precious souls together.  It is still a thrill to welcome a new life.

It is interesting to see the changes in accessories and technology since I had babies.  For one, I never had an actual photo of any of my children while they were growing inside my womb.

IMG_E5636

Side note: Ultra Sound was a fairly new option to determine the gender when I started having children. There was no need for me to have one when I was pregnant with my first baby.  I saw my second child, because it was offered, but I was clueless what I was looking at.  The nurse would say, “Here is a hand, here is a foot.”  I would look very hard, but it was nearly impossible for me to see. With my third child I miscarried his twin during my pregnancy.  When they showed me my son’s image on the screen to reassure me everything was okay, I could clearly see him and knew before they confirmed it that he was a boy.

One of my bonus daughters had a “sprinkle” recently.  In case you are new to this term, a sprinkle is just like a shower, but the gifts are not usually too large because you already have most of the big-ticket items from previous children.  In fact, there really isn’t much point unless you have a lot of children and really need new clothes or accessories for the newest member of the family.  Otherwise it is a nice opportunity to gather with family and friends to celebrate this exciting time of life.

 

Soft onesies, cuddly swaddling blankets, adorable outfits, and a lot of interesting small ticket items like a “Windi the gas passer” (check it out here if you are curious) were given as gifts.  Giggles and “aaah’s” were heard as each gift was opened.

 

The refreshments were light and these cute cookies were as delicious as they are adorable! Yes, she is having a boy in about 6 weeks!

IMG_E5632

I am looking forward to meeting you in a few weeks baby Sam!!

Thursday Twist

Yes, these are petunia’s surrounded by poinsettia’s sitting in my backyard.  The red color of the poinsettia’s added such warmth to my home that I hated to move them outside.  It did get a little awkward when guests came over and commented especially now that Easter is approaching.

I removed them from their sturdier containers, but did not have the heart to throw them out.  They are so healthy and full of life.   It is also getting too warm for the petunia’s and they are not happy anymore.

The large pot will soon be moved into storage and replaced by either flowers that do well in the hot, humid south or raised containers to grow some fresh vegetables.  Goodbye winter!

IMG_5555

All Things New

We all have someone in our lives who is in need of healing whether it be physical, emotional or spiritual. It’s hard to watch someone we love suffer with an addiction, a disease or the consequences of a poor decision.  Perhaps this loved one has blamed God for their suffering and has turned away from their faith.  They no longer trust or believe or they feel betrayed because of their pain.  Maybe they still believe, but can’t let go of the desire to control their life, even though their life, as well as those they love, is falling apart.

They are so caught in the eye of the storm, the center of the hurricane they can’t see the ripples.

P1010461

Their spouse and children find themself at the epicenter of each and every earthquake and feel the effects the worst.

The ripple extends and reaches other loved ones – parents, siblings, and friends whose world is now trembling too. Some decide to withdraw because they feel numb, frustrated or maybe disgusted, while others decide to ride out the waves although uncertain of the result.

At first, it is not always easy to see the greater good that may come from suffering.  Job—a man who underwent immense suffering—reminds us that we may never know the reason why we suffer. Job did not understand why God had allowed the things He did, but he knew God was good and therefore continued to trust in Him.

There is a poignant scene in the movie “The Passion of the Christ” that stands out to me. The bloodied, broken Jesus fell under the weight of the cross he was carrying.  There are flashbacks of the early days of her son falling as a toddler while his mother, Mary, rushes to him frantically whispering, “I’m here!”

The words “I’m here!” is put into action when our loved ones are suffering.  We push the pause button in our own lives. We give them our love and our time. (“I’m here!”) We take over duties and hope that this makes things easier. (“I’m here!”) We talk to them, encourage them, and love them even more. (“I’m here!”) We try to be brave even though we are scared to death. We assume new roles, and wish we didn’t have to. (I’m here!) We are their voice in prayer when they can longer find the desire or the words to pray themselves. (“I’m here!”) We cry in private, we pray without ceasing even though we can’t understand why God doesn’t just heal the situation – just make it go away – just let life be normal again.

Sometimes it is hard for us to trust.

Later, an eyewitness to the crucifixion (the apostle John), included this telling detail in his account: During the ordeal, Mary was standing “by the torture stake of Jesus.” Nothing could prevent that loyal, loving mother from standing by her son to the very last. We, like Mary, stand by our loved ones.

The final shot of that scene (when Mary gets to Jesus after his fall) is we see the image of her son – disfigured and swollen. He looks her in the eye and stammers, “See, Mother, I make all things new.”

These words give hope.  The bloody mangled body of Jesus who suffered unimaginable pain and suffering was made new again. Our own lives were made new again by the ultimate sacrifice of our savior.

These words give hope that our loved ones will emerge with a determination to make a fresh start and the courage to face their trials. A desire to maintain this new life, this new resurrection.  That their lives will be a reflection of the words of Jesus in that movie “I make all things new.”

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

fullsizeoutput_1d64

Timing

As soon as we arrived home I called our insurance company, researched car collision centers, and began the two and a half week wait for my car to be repaired.  I soon discovered these inconveniences were insignificant.

“What just happened?” I asked with a puzzled expression as I heard a “whump” and then the sound of metal dragging on the roadway as I fought for control of the car. “You hit a deer! exclaimed my husband.

What might have been

About a month ago around 7:30 on a dark Friday evening I was driving my husband and myself home from a relaxing dinner at one of our favorite restaurants. We were enjoying a pleasant conversation and were in no particular hurry to get home. We live near a lake and were approaching a bridge when out of nowhere a deer appeared.  The first and last thing I saw in that moment was its face in front of the headlight on the passenger side. After the impact, we were able to pull over to the side of the road and so did the car behind us. As we got out to assess the damage and comprehend what had just happened, a young man in his early twenties approached us.  He was on his way home and saw what had happened and wanted to make sure we were okay.  I could not help but notice how pleasant, reassuring, and kind spoken he was as he shined his flashlight at the damage on the car.  Once he realized we were okay he got back in his car and continued his drive home.

 

A day or two later the realization of just how lucky we were became visible in my mind. If the deer had been say eight or twelve more inches across the road the results of the impact would have been much worse.  Just eight or twelve more inches and my husband could have been injured since that is the side of the car that received the damage.  The impact of the hit might have thrown the deer up onto our windshield or into the path of other cars.

I also began to reflect on the effect it could have had on that kind young man. What if we had not been the car in front of him?  That deer would have probably been full body in front of his car in its quest to cross the road, and the results might have been devastating. That young man could have suffered grievous injury, or even death.

As I look at the big picture, we sustained minimal damage in a situation that could have ended in tragedy.  I have replayed the timing of those moments before and after the impact in my mind.  Perhaps God used us to be placed in the path of that deer, allowing us to take the hit because He still has plans for that young man.  I offer thanks to our Heavenly Father for the “what might have been” that was avoided.

When I was in my twenties, I felt somewhat invincible and I can only imagine that young man does as well.  He probably never gave the incident a second thought.  Probably never considered the “what might have been” if another car had not been in front of his that evening. I wish I could tell him I think God has big plans for him.

Beef Bone Broth Recipe

The weather has turned colder this week so I was thinking about how to use some of my bone broth so vegetable soup came to my mind. I had a request for the bone broth recipe I wrote about in a recent post.  I used several sources to create my own recipe so here it is.  I hope you enjoy it!

IMG_5561

  • 4 pounds beef bones, preferably a mix of marrow bones and bones with a little meat on them such as ox tail, short ribs, or knuckle bones, (cut in half by a butcher)
  • 2 medium unpeeled carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 medium leek, end trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 1 garlic head, excess skins removed, top chopped off to expose the cloves, cut in half
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 Tablespoons black peppercorns (you can also add some fresh thyme or dried mushrooms, even 2 Tablespoons of tomato paste)
  • 1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
  • Water (I use filtered, but it probably wouldn’t matter that much)

Special equipment: 6-quart (or larger) stockpot or a large slow cooker

  1. Blanch – cover the bones with cold water, bring to a boil, and let them cook at an aggressive simmer for 20 minutes before draining and roasting.
  2. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Place beef bones, carrots, leek, onion, and garlic on a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes. Then take out of the oven, toss the contents of the pan and continue to roast until deeply browned, about 20 more minutes.   Place any crisped brown bits on the bottom of the pan (loosen them with a little water and a metal spatula) and pour into the stockpot or slow cooker for added flavor.
  3. Place roasted bones and vegetables into your pot. Add celery, bay leaves, peppercorns, and vinegar. Make sure you added the browned bits from the roasting. Add just enough water to cover the bones and vegetables. You don’t want them to float.
  4. Cover the pot and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to a very low simmer and cook with lid slightly ajar, skimming foam and excess fat occasionally. (I rarely have to do this because I blanch the bones first.)
  5. Simmer for at least 8 hours but I have done it for up to 2 – 3 days. I do not cut it off at night if it is on the stove top. The longer it simmers, the better your broth will taste. If you use the crock-pot, I start it on high until it begins to simmer, and then reduce the setting to low and leave it alone. (Because the bones used are thick and hardy, they have a lot of flavor to offer up. This is in contrast to the bones in chicken stock, which are smaller and thinner and could disintegrate after a few hours and won’t add much flavor.)
  6. You can add more water if necessary to ensure bones and vegetables are fully submerged.
  7. Once you have determined you think the broth is complete, cool it as quickly and efficiently as possible. First, remove the bones with a slotted spoon and/or tongs. Strain the stock into a large bowl (this will remove the vegetables and any small pieces of meat or bones left from the beef bones). I usually add some ice to help the broth lose heat more rapidly. (The ice does not dilute the broth if you roasted the bones and simmered them for a very long time.) Then scoop the broth into mason jars to freeze. (If you used bones that created a lot of fat, I usually pour it in my fat separator to maximize the broth in my mason jars. It is okay to leave it you want the additional fat.)
  8. You know you simmered it long enough if the texture is gelatinous. If not, it is still delicious!
  9. I usually add a little Himalayan salt or sea salt to bring out the flavors.

My favorite method is using a large stockpot. Each time, the broth has been gelatinous and flavorful. (Once the gelatinous broth is heated it melts to make a smooth broth.) I especially love to use the broth in vegetable soup, to cook rice, and just about anything else I need a broth.  This is a photo of the bone broth in my vegetable soup recipe I am cooking this afternoon. It gives it a rich and hearty flavor.  Look below the photo for general tips in making the bone broth.

IMG_5565

General Tips:

  1. Try to use several types of beef bones. Grass fed beef is better, but not necessary for a delicious flavor.
  2. Don’t skip the blanching step. It removes any impurities (nasty bits) from the bones. If you are using the right bones, there will be some nasty bits. I usually have to skim off scum or foam at this stage.
  3. ALWAYS ROAST THE BONES. This browns and caramelizes them and this results in better flavor. This is really the most important step. I cook mine up to 40 minutes total and even longer sometimes taking them to the edge of “too done.”
  4. Do not skip the vinegar step; it draws the minerals out of the bone.
  5. Make sure to deglaze your roasting pan with hot water and get all of the brown bits, pour this liquid into the pot and then add additional water to cover the bones and vegetables. See * in the next step.
  6. Use a large enough container to cook your broth. When you *add just enough water to cover the bones and vegetables. You don’t want them to float. Too much liquid will result in a watered down taste.
  7. Make sure you simmer it long enough. I have read some people simmer no less than 12 hours and no longer than 72 hours.  I cooked mine for 60 hours.
  8. Don’t let the hot broth cool slowly.

If you use a crock-pot the water doesn’t evaporate as quickly as with a stockpot. So be careful not to add too much. Make sure the lid is weighted down and that simmering can’t move the lid around or you will have water everywhere.