Iâ€™ve been reading this biography of Spurgeon (did you know he was the eldest of seventeen children?!?), and I find that one passage has stuck unyieldingly in my head [chapter 1]:
C. H. Spurgeon had been announced to preach at Haverhill in Suffolk, andâ€”an exceptional incidentâ€”he was late in arriving. So his grandfather began the service and, when the expected preacher did not arrive, proceeded with the sermon. The text was "By grace ye are saved." He had gotten some way into his discourse when some unrest at the door made him aware that his distinguished grandson had arrived. "Here comes my grandson," he exclaimed. "He can preach the Gospel better than I can, but you cannot preach a better Gospel, can you, Charles?"
Thereâ€™s so much graceâ€”so much truthâ€”in that simple assertion! The best preacher in history still canâ€™t improve on the Gospel.
Our car shop is in walking distance, so S left after he got home, on foot, to pick up our car. This conversation promptly ensued:
E: Where did Daddy go?
Me: He went to get the car.
E: Oh, it’s fixed already!?
E: Where did Daddy go?
Me: He went to pick up the car.
E: He can’t lift up the car, it’s too heavy!
Me: (laugh) that’s true… I mean… he went to get the car, to bring the car.
E: Oh. (long pause) Did the neighbors fix our car?
It’s finally finished, almost two weeks earlier than last month’s! My goal is to have the February plan up before the ordering deadline, so you can order the boxes after you get a good look at the plan. But this is what it is, for January:
Ordering: This plan uses the 2 Bountiful Blessing boxes and 1 S3 (premium fresh fruit and veggies) box. Total $105. The only thing I’m using that’s not in the 2 BB boxes is some of the vegetables, so you could just buy the 2 BB boxes (total $82) and buy the produce at the grocery store for probably less than $10.
If you’re only going to the grocery store once, at the beginning of the plan, cook the recipes with celery, bananas, and/or fresh bread first.
I’m using some of the same recipes as last month, because I didn’t actually get to cook them thanks to the arrival of number 3. I won’t usually repeat recipes that fast. Exceptions are the Sausage & Potatoes recipe and the Blackeyed Pea Soup recipe, which are just really good (hearty, healthy, yummy, and inexpensive)recipes that we actually want to eat as often as I want to cook them!
I divvied up some vegetables, but a couple meals still need the addition of a can of green beans or something.
Goal: As usual, to feed my family of five (including three little people) 30 meals, while buying little from the grocery store. I’m not using the hot dogs, the fruit, or the meat box in the plan, and we’ll give away one of the bags of fries. This also doesn’t use nearly all the breaded chicken–I’m still learning what to do with it. This plan feeds 28 meals. I’ve been trying to find somewhere to squeeze out the extra meals, but the truth is that we don’t eat that many meals a month at home, that there will be some leftovers anyway, and that I really don’t want to squeeze out the extra meals this month–I like the recipes I’ve picked!
He has finally arrived, and already the brain cells are coming back.Â Unfortunately, the synaptic connections are accompanied by a great deal of busyness and a great lack of sleep, so writing is still not forthcoming.Â A few more weeks, I hope.
I did want to mention the Angel Food order that my menu plan will be based on for the upcoming monthâ€”hopefully when things settle down, Iâ€™ll be posting the actual plan itself before the orders are due, but thatâ€™s not going to happen this month (and in point of fact, my menu plan for this month may be even more chaotic than last monthâ€™s).Â Nonetheless, if youâ€™re following along with my madness, then Iâ€™m ordering: 2 Bountiful Blessing boxes; 1 S2 (Steak & Chicken Combo) Box; and 1 S3 (Premium Fresh Fruit and Veggie) Box.Â I have greatly enjoyed the oranges and tangerines from this monthâ€™s box, and am sorely tempted to order two S3s just to double the orangey goodness, but I donâ€™t know what Iâ€™d do with twelve pounds of potatoes!
So, I had great plans of publishing this weeks ago–it was complete in the particulars–but I wanted to finish/polish a few things and life has not exactly cooperated! Â Hopefully this will be better (and earlier) in future months.
Here’s the plan (DOC), based on two Bountiful Blessing boxes and one fresh fruit and veggie box:
Download a PDF.
The main thing I had hoped to accomplish before publishing it was to come up with a good ordering to the meal plan in order to use the fresh ingredients (celery, onions, potatoes) before they went bad. Â Instead, just keep that in mind and pick the meals off in the order that makes your family happy! Â I’ll try to get this all straightened out by next month. Edit: just FYI, I’m beginning with the chicken fried rice tonight and the slow-cooker black-eyed pea soup tomorrow to use up a good chunk of the produce without going to the grocery store yet.
Mom’s Sausage Stovetop Casserole — this is my mom’s recipe. Basically… if the sausage/hamburger is raw (it’s supposed to be, but I’m using cooked this month because that’s what’s in the AF box, just going to dice it and toss it in), then you cook it, drain it, and mix all the ingredients together on the stove. (It’s also supposed to be made with noodles and Velveeta, not mac-n-cheese packages, but I think this will turn out to be quite good and use lots of the mac-n-cheese which is otherwise a bit of a mammoth on this month’s menu.) Adjust proportions according to whimsy; the recipe also handles substitutions well. Onions are good too.
Chicken de Provence — My recipe. Rip up / dice the chicken, season quite heavily with herbs de provence, cook it on the stove in lots of olive oil, then add alfredo sauce (1/2 a jar or so), a dash (1/3 c) of tomato sauce, and maybe 3 oz of cream cheese. Stir till all melty and bubbly, serve over rice. This is not a giant recipe, but it’s very easy and yummy and we almost always have all the ingredients on hand–this is one of my what-am-I-going-to-make-in-10-minutes recipes.
January Angel Food boxes:
I’m very excited about next month’s boxes; they look like they rely even less on pre-prepared food and are generally healthier. Â My current plan is to order:
2 Bountiful Blessing boxes ($41)
1 S2 box (steak and chicken, $23)
1 S3 box (fruit and veggie, $23)
That’s probably more than we can eat in a month, but the S2 box is too much in line with what we like to have on hand in the freezer to pass up! Â Maybe I’ll shift some of that to dinners and use some of the more lunch-like items in the Bountiful Blessing boxes for lunch and extras!
I am a poor record-keeper.Â Which is a bit odd, since I enjoy writing, but somehow these thingsâ€”the days of first steps, first words, trials and triumphsâ€”they escape my notice.Â This attitude was quite solidified the first time E got into some â€œpreciousâ€ item of my own past and did it some damage, and I realized that the here-and-now reality of my little daughter was more important to me than the memory of times and people past.Â Things burn and turn to dust.Â And I struggle, likewise, with finding events particularly important in the context of eternity: far too much, I think; there is surely some value in baby books and memorials, and it is my own fault for having trouble finding it.
At any rate, Eâ€™s life has been more chronicled than Râ€™s, in no small part because people bugged me about it more.Â Did you write it down?Â Did you get her footprints stamped?Â Did you send off for her birth certificate? (Yes, we do have Râ€™s birth certificate, but it was literally months later in arriving than Eâ€™s was!)Â But there is one thing that has really struck me lately about R, and so I thought it was perhaps worth a post: I do believe the child talks more now, at 14 months, than E did even on her second birthday.Â Itâ€™s probably Eâ€™s â€œfault,â€ because she talks to R from sunup to sundown and Râ€™s vocabulary is clearly reflective of her elder sisterâ€™s more than my own.Â And Iâ€™m not implying a difference in intelligence, either: I frankly donâ€™t really follow milestones at all anymore, but Iâ€™m pretty sure thereâ€™s a wide range of â€œnormalâ€ in speech development and the girlsâ€™ personalities could easily put them at opposite ends of the spectrum even without their own interactions.Â That said; Râ€™s words, as nearly as I can recall them all; words she says spontaneously/unprompted, consistently, and clearly:
names: Ellie, Mommy, Daddy, Mammaw, Grandad
bye, hi, night night, mmm-wee, up, me, I (love you), awwww, whee, please, no, baby, milk, eat, boo, uh-oh, ice, eyes
she sings, semi-recognizably (you can tell which one sheâ€™s trying for): ring around the rosie, the alphabet song, twinkle twinkle, itsy bitsy spider, and old macdonald
I also want to remember something that is incredibly special to me to watch: while the girls have long played with each otherâ€”and nicelyâ€”lately theyâ€™ve actually been moving into a stage of being actively affectionate with each other.Â It astounds me to see how patient E is with Râ€™s physically clumsy attempts to hug, tickle, tackle, and give her kisses, and itâ€™s also unfathomably neat to see R initiating said hugs and playfulness instead of just being on the receiving end all the time.Â There are few moments in my entire life that have made me as happy and almost giddy as walking into a room and finding them sitting next to each other playing, â€œreadingâ€ a book together, or just plain hanging out.Â They have their small moments of disgruntledness, but theyâ€™re much less than Iâ€™d expect given that theyâ€™re both still pretty clumsy (prone to flatly knocking each other down by accident!) and that the lines of communication are distinctly limited.
I have been thinking about why I like Halloween so much, especially since so many other Christians think itâ€™s Satanic. But itâ€™s probably my second-favorite holiday, after Christmas.
Itâ€™s the most neighborly holiday we have. If Christmas is when weâ€™re nice to strangers, Easter is when we go to church, and Thanksgiving is when weâ€™re nice to family, then Halloween is surely when weâ€™re nice to neighbors. We feed them candy! We go to their houses and talk to them! We talk to tens or even hundreds of people in our neighborhoods, exchange names, make new friends, and have an opportunity to spend the entire evening with some neighbors by teaming up for the trick-or-treat rounds. Itâ€™s a holiday chock-full of opportunities for witnessing, even without handing out tracts.
Itâ€™s not particularly Satanic. Iâ€™ve read a lot of articles in the past month about why Halloween is â€œwrongâ€ because of the importance it holds on the Wiccan calendar. But the reality is that Wiccans stole it just as much as the church did. Itâ€™s a Celtic end-of-harvest festival. Thereâ€™s no historical connection back to some human-sacrificing-Wiccans, and in fact the church has been celebrating it (as All Hallows Eve) much longer than Wiccans have.
Itâ€™s the one day of the year when the world looks its fallenness full in the face. Decorating our yards with skeletons, ghosts, and tombstones? Pretending to be dead people? Thinking about dead people? Telling scary stories and creeping through graveyards? The whole event is a festival of death, in more ways than one. Itâ€™s a definite fall festival, taking place as the last leaves are falling off the trees and the summer warmth is fading for the last time until spring. And it is definitely based on human death as well, as both the decorations and the costumes (which traditionally over the centuries were people dressing up as the dead) attest. In a certain wayâ€”Halloween is the holiday when the world is honest with itself and acknowledges the reality of death and even of the afterlife, all very openly, bluntly, and gruesomely. Itâ€™s not the Gospel, but itâ€™s one of the first steps. I hadnâ€™t appreciated this fully until this year with a highly inquisitive two-year-old along for the ride: just try explaining Halloween decorations, even just the ones you run into in store aisles, without talking about death and dying and even Hell. Not possible.
Itâ€™s an honest holiday. This is one of the things that bugs me tremendously about Easter and Christmas: theyâ€™re so taken over by the church that people actually complain that the world is taking them over. It just isnâ€™t so. Theyâ€™re all pagan holidays. Halloweenâ€™s just the only one that we actually admit is a pagan holiday.