Thursday, December 8, 2016

Chicken Pot Pie

I found this recipe in an old USDA cookbook.

It was old when I got it, or it looked old anyway and that's been 25 years or more ago so now it's really old.

I saw this recipe and tried it, and it's always been my favorite ever since.

Mark's mom, makes this now too and she sometimes makes it ahead and freezes it and takes it out as she needs it.

I never do that because we always want it right now but it's a good idea and one you might want to try.

So here's the recipe.

Chicken Pot Pie

3 TBSP. butter, always use real butter, salted real butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk, (sometimes if I've got it I'll use half and half)
1 1/2 salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 cups cubed cooked chicken
1 3/4 cooked carrots, peas and potatoes
1 unbaked pie crust, top and bottom crust

Melt butter, stir in flour, salt and pepper, add broth and milk, stirring constantly until it bubbles and thickens.
Add well drained chicken and veg. Pour into a lined pie plate, deep dish,  cover with  a top crust, seal edges and slit top.
Bake at 450 for 15 minutes, then reduce to 350 and bake until crust is golden brown and filling is hot.

I always double the recipe and put it in a 9x13 baking dish, I double everything but the salt, I hold back a little on it, you can just add a little at a time until you think you got it right. Or come to think of it...if you decide to go ahead and use the unsalted butter you might be able to go all the way with
 salt.

Of course you can use store bought crust and canned or frozen mixed veggies, I've used canned chicken when I've been in a hurry, it isn't as good but it's still good. You could also get one of those rotisserie chickens at the store and tear it up.

What I'm saying is you can take a lot of short cuts with this but don't take one with the filling, the rich filling is where the flavor is.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Married Names...They Matter

Olivia was talking about getting her name changed now that she is married.

You know what,  there is a lot to that, and I don't just mean a lot of red tape I mean there is a lot of meaning and honor to it.

This isn't a post about the right or the wrong of changing your name when you are  married it's just my take on it.

A name is a  huge thing.

I mean look at all the time and thought people put into picking a name for their child.

Last names mean a lot too.

We all know the thoughts we have when we hear someone's last name.

An image, good or bad comes to our mind.

We wonder if they are related to the Gray's that we know,  and so we say, who are your parents or we say are you related, to Mark or Kelly or whoever?

Whenever Mark does a wedding ceremony he always  mentions the fact that the groom is giving his bride his name.

He says it's one of the greatest things he can offer her.

Isn't that so true?

Your name is one of the most valuable things you own and to trust someone else with it s a great risk so when he offers it he is showing you how much he trusts you and he really is paying you a great honor.

I know it's becoming popular for girls to keep their last name and I'm not here to say they shouldn't do that, but I'll tell you why I'm glad I took Mark's name.

First of all
 in the Bible, names were a huge deal.

They meant a lot.

Now what I'm about to say you are going to have to have some grace on me with, I'm no Bible scholar and I'm not saying this is what the text is saying, I'm just saying it's one of the things that popped into my mind when I read it.

In Luke chapter 16 we read the well known story of the Rich Man and Lazarus.

I always think about how Lazarus had a name but the rich man didn't.

I mean he had one but it isn't given.

I thought about how the Bible says that those that belong to Christ have their name written in the Lambs Book of Life.

I always wonder if the reason the rich man's name wasn't given, is because it wasn't written.

Can you imagine what it's going to be like to hear your name called on that great day and it's not going to matter if there are ten thousand other Kelly Gray's, I have a feeling I'm going to know when it's me.

Names mean everything, they did then and they do now, so that's one reason I think names are of great value but there are more reasons than that.

Another reason I'm glad I took his name when he offered it, is because it made us the same.

I know we live in a time when we are so encouraged to go after our dreams, to be all we want to be and we're told not to let marriage get in the way.  We're told that a strong marriage made up of two independent, capable, confident people can both seek their own dream and should be able to wind up at the same destination.

That might sound good in theory and it might work occasionally but it isn't the norm.

For two people to wind up in the same place they have to have the same destination in mind.

They are going to have to have the same dream to start with or someone is going to have to catch the vision of the other one, then they are going to have to buckle down and start the journey.

Sharing a name is a precious thing.

It connects you.

Before you got married did you sit and write what your new last name would be?

 I did, I wrote Kelly Gray....... I wrote Mrs. Mark  Gray..... I wrote Mr and Mrs Mark Gray.

I wanted to be Kelly Gray.

I wanted to build a name with him.

So back to what Mark says at weddings, when  a man offers you his name,  he is offering you the most valuable thing he has.

It's worth more than  diamonds, or houses or farms.

So when he offers it to you, take it, and value it,  protect it and make it all it can be, because he can pay you no greater honor.

It's not about him being more than you or better than you it's about you being one with him and it's a beautiful thing and you don't want to miss it.







Monday, November 7, 2016

Cooperation and Compromise Are Good But Don't Forget Obedience

Cooperation is a good thing.

We all need to know how to cooperate.

Parents and teachers are told not to work on teaching children to obey, but rather they should teach them to cooperate.

Bosses are told not to expect employees to do what they are told but work on getting them to cooperate on the job.

There is truth to some of that.

It can make things go easier.

The problem is as,  people we have that terrible habit of throwing the baby out with the bath water.

We will hear a thought like that and run with it,  forgetting all the truth that has to be added in with it.

Obedience is becoming a days gone by word.

It seems like a small thing.... but everyone needs to learn to obey,  sometimes it isn't about rather we want to cooperate or not.

You see, sometimes getting someone to cooperate leads to compromise

Now compromise is another good word, we need it but not at the cost of forgetting obedience..

Obedience can be used in a wrong way,   but I'm not talking about the wrong way, I'm talking about it in the good way, the way that will help us.

I was washing dishes this morning and it just occurred to me, I think one reason we have a hard time teaching our children obedience today is that our lives are so much safer and easier than they used to be.

Not so many years ago obedience was a life or death matter.

Children were raised on farms or had to go to work earlier in life.

Many years ago they crossed the country in wagon trains and were in dangerous situations, now we think we can't take ours to the grocery with us.

If a parent told you to sit still or stay where you were or be quite or anything you had better do it.

Because obedience was needed it was taken seriously.

Parents didn't think about getting children to cooperate they wanted obedience.

Now granted we don't live that way anymore, farm families probably do more than most because we have our children with us when we do everything but for the most part life is different now days.

Still though we all need to learn to obey.

We need independence but we need to learn how to yield too.

Let's say you have a small child and you tell them to pick the book up off the floor and put it no the table.

Well, they know what you said but they don't want to do it because as precious as they are they have a mind of their own and they want to call the shots

So, they look at you and pick it up and put it on the footstool.

They might say, "I' put it here"

Now they know what you said, but they don't want to obey,

They want to make the decision about where they will put it.

Sounds harmless enough,  but to much of that and you got yourself a situation.

They start to think they know best.

They begin think you can't tell them.

They start  thinking they are the boss.

Does that mean you can never compromise and say, "okay, that will work"?

Does it mean you are a drill sergeant and demand perfect obedience at every moment?

No,   it means use some some common sense.

It means pick your battles and don't have to many rules.

It means to ask yourself if you are willing to get up  off of the couch and in force what you are saying...if you aren't than you might as well be still to start with.

Your kids need to know you mean what you say.

If something is important enough to be said, go to where they are, don't yell from another room.

Go to where they are, get down on their level, look them in the eye and say what you have to say.

Don't use to many words, just say it and mean it.

Does this mean I never yelled?

No, I don't care what anyone says you are going to be hard pressed to find a real true blue dyed in the wool mom who never yelled or screamed at some point. I know I have and I've done it more than once.

All I'm saying is don't forget that your child needs to learn to obey.

They need to learn it's okay for someone to tell them what to do.

It's okay for them to do something just because they were told too.

Teach compromise, teach them to cooperate and above all teach them to respect authority and obey, one day their life might depend on it.



Wednesday, November 2, 2016

When There Is Just No Way to Understand

What do we do when we just can't understand?

When things  make no sense and there is no way it can be alright what do we do?

Many of us are asking that and it's not the first time we've asked it.

We've had times like this before, times when something so bad happens that we question all we know. or thought we knew.

We can look at the facts.

The facts are God created the earth and all that's in it.

He made man and he wanted things to be perfect for him so he put him in paradise.

God loved the people he made, and he wanted them to love him in return, not a robot, they had no choice type of love, but a real because they wanted to kind of love.

So while he did put them in a perfect world, a world with no disease, no dying, no tragic death or prolonged illness, no abandoned children or abused wives or left husbands, the potential for all those things existed.

As you can imagine this paradise was filled with trees of every kind.

God told Adam he was free to eat from any tree in the whole garden except for one.

It was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

God said when they ate from it they would die.

What he was saying is, this opens a door to everything you don't want.

If you reach up and take a hold of this fruit and you bit into it then in one fell swoop death and sorrow will come over the earth.

Satan comes along and he asks her if God really said they couldn't eat from that tree.

She said, God said we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden but we must not eat any fruit from the tree in the middle or we will die.

Well at this point Satan goes into a full attack and calls God a liar.

He said you will not die you will become like God knowing good and evil, God knows when you eat it you will be like him, you will be like God.

So what happened?

Satan at first cast doubt on what God said, he said, "Did God really say?

He made Eve question.

Then he got bolder and said what God said, wasn't true.

He made it sound like God was holding out on her.

Like she could have more, and be more and God just didn't want her to to.

So she exchanged the truth of God for a lie of Satan.

It's so easy to read over that story or teach it in Sunday school and to miss what happened, oh it's bigger and deeper than my explanation but in a nutshell this is what went down.

Adam and Eve sold their souls to the devil.

They sold it for a piece of fruit.

Now they were going to die, oh not right that moment, but they were going to grow old, their bodies would stop working right, and they would die.

Death and heartache entered the world at that moment.

Now they had themselves a situation.

You could say they belonged to the Devil and had been separated from God.

You know the rest of the story, God comes to the Garden and he talks to them and Satan, he tells all three of them what the consequences of what they did are, and he tells Adam and Eve he is going to have to send them from the garden.

But he doesn't send them out with no hope.

He tells them he has a plan.

He makes a promise in Genesis chapter three that he will send them a redeemer, he will send someone to "buy " them back.

Because of what they have done things are going to get rough.

It's not what God wanted but it's what it is and so he does what he always does for us, he steps in and fixes up what we did.

The die was cast, there was no getting death out of the world, it's going to come as long as time endures, it will come early for some and prolonged for others, some will linger in pain and some will be gone in an instant, others will go ready and full of age.

There is going to be grief and sorrow.

Hearts and homes are going to be broken.

Questions will be asked.

People will be angry and confused.

It's all part of death.

There is no understanding it this side of Heaven, oh we can read  the facts of life and death like we just did, we can see how death came into the world and what the result is but we won't like it.

It will sound hollow when our hearts are broken into a thousand pieces and the one we love is gone and the one we thought we could pray to seems to have turned away from us.

That's what Satan wanted.

He wanted to bring death to the world.

It's our biggest fear, our own death or the death of the ones we love.

Nothing on this earth is as bad as that.

Satan is still doing what he did in the garden, when bad things happen he makes us question God.

He asks us things like,  "Does God really love you?"

"How can a good God let this happen?"

He tells us we can't trust God.

Don't listen to the lie.

Whatever you do don't listen to the lie.

Have you ever heard of the verse in  1 Corinthians,  the one that asks, "Oh death where is your victory? Where is your sting?

You now why that was said?
 It's said because the sting is no more, the victory is no more.

Because of the Redeemer God sent, death can no longer hurt us forever.

There is another verse and it's in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 and that verse tells us that God doesn't want us to be uninformed.  He doesn't want us to grieve like those who have no hope.

He wants us to know that while death does come and it does take our loved one we are not without hope.

That's what Satan wanted but God stepped in and said, "Stop, no more."

When it seems God didn't come through, when it seems he could have stepped in and did something, but he didn't,  it's not that he doesn't care...its because he already did.

We have to let this sink deep in our hearts before we need it.

We have to build our faith before we need it.

When we are in the midst of grief something like all the above might not sound good enough, it might even make us mad.

God knows that, he can handle our questions, our anger and even our doubt.

The Bible tells us he is close to the broken hearted and so he is by our side, when we are ready to cry out to him he will be right there.

Contrary to what Satan whispers in our ear, God does care, and he did do something.

He knows we are going to grieve, and that's okay, grief knows no time schedule.

It physically hurts.

It isn't alright to lose a loved one, it's not like one day we will wake up and go, "Oh, so that's why that happened, I see now, that makes it all okay."

This side of heaven we aren't going to ever say that.

But what we can say is that when our enemy went on the attack against us and tried to take our lives forever, our loving God stepped in and said, "Oh no you don't" and he sent his Son to take away the sting or the victory from death.

That doesn't mean it doesn't hurt, it doesn't mean we don't scream and stomp and kick and cry  and want to fight against it.

We do, it's part of the process but in the end, we settle down, like a child that has exhausted it's self from crying.

Then their father picks them up and they collapse on his shoulder, they take those deep breaths like'we all heard little ones do after they have been so upset and begin to quieten down.
The father strokes their hair and rocks them gently.

He holds them until they are strong enough to get down and go again.

They will never go the same, they will go in a new way but they will go again because he made sure of it.

He sent his Son to take the sting of death, to takes it's power over us and we can live forever, together with him.












Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Help! How Do I Teach My Child To Be Quiet and Still When Need Be?


I get asked questions about how to help children learn to sit still at church, weddings, funerals, meetings or maybe even a doctors office.

Well, as you know I don't have all the answers, I never went to school and learned child psychology or anything like that but I did listen to what a lot of older women said and I did do a lot of what my mom did.

So with that in mind I'll share a few of my thoughts and maybe a couple of them will help you out.

First of all we all know that what goes on at home goes on everywhere else.

If your children are out of control at home, don't expect anything different when you go out.

But our goal today is just a few ideas to help them sit for a little bit when they need to.

Start by making sure you have some quiet time at home each day, and that happens best when you can have a quiet spirit yourself, our kids feed on what we give out.

What I mean by quiet time is no tv, no computer or cell phone. don't have anything but you, them and your lap.

Read a story and talk in quiet, gentle tones.

Sit outside and listen the earth talk.

Tell them you are just going to practice being quiet and gentle, talk in hushed tones like you would talk it you were out.

When you use the word gentle, stroke their arm softly so they start to understand it means this is a time for quiet slow movement.

Don't underestimate them.

Even a three year old can begin to understand this.

The key is not to make them feel like sitting still is a bad thing, or a punishment , the key is to invite them into feeling big.

Praise them, tell them they are being respectful.

Don't be afraid to use that word even with little ones, even if they don't know the definition , they will be able to pick it up from the way you talk and praise them.

They will begin to learn that what is going on, the meeting the waiting room, the church service or whatever it might be,  is to get the attention,... not them  and they are being so good to let that happen.

They will begin to learn it's not about them, but in a gentle way.

Try to limit the time you let them watch a movie when they are in the car.

Let them learn to look outside, let them learn to think their own thoughts.

Let them learn to be okay with stillness.

Another thing I think we sometimes do to sabotage  ourselves, is we take to much stuff with us when we go.

I never packed hardly any toys to go anywhere if I packed any at all.

Packing toys  sounds like a good idea, it sounds like the key.... but more likely  than not the toys will lead to trouble.

They will be  louder than we thought.

They will drop or throw them.

They will fight over them.

You know how I learned that one?

The hard way,  that's how I learned it.

One Sunday at church Mark was preaching, Heidi and Lucas were little, I had both of them on my lap.

Mark was talking about children and he said something about children and sharing.

I kid you not the very time he was saying that Heidi and Lucas were fighting over a loader on my lap and everyone knew it but Mark.

Total mom humiliation.

So, a good rule of thumb is if  you take something take what you use in your quiet time at home.

That way when you are at that meeting or church or wherever you can draw them up close and whisper in their ear you're going to have quiet time.

Tell them you are going to practice and how good they are getting  at it.

Keep whispering in their ear to reassure them  the service or meeting will be coming to a close and  when it does, they can get up and run and play.

Another thought and it's simple but yet it's big, when you hold them try not to hold them to where they are looking back behind you.

Try to keep them facing frontwards.

If they are looking behind them they will be a distraction to those who are behind you.

The person might want to pay attention to the speaker or what is going on but who can not pay attention to a little child?

Plus it just opens up more distractions for your child, I'm not saying they can never look behind them I'm just saying make it a practice to keep them facing frontwards.

I'm not saying this will work like a charm the first time, but I am saying,  if you put it into practice, if you are calm, if you keep distraction to a minimum, and let them learn to be still and most importantly don't sell them short and think they can't understand, but instead you inspire them to want to be good and quiet and respectful, then  you will see it happen,

They are smarter than we give them credit for.




Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Teaching Diligence, Doing It Wrong But Them Getting It Right

When the kids were young and they would get something wrong, or give up to quick, Mark would say, "You gotta think, life is a thinking process."

Now when and if my kids read this they are going to have  a negative feeling shoot through them.

They hated it when he said that, they still hate it.

Mark wasn't quick to help the kids when they were trying to do something, I on the other hand was to quick.

But Mark left them to figure it out.

Looking back, we know he did that to much, it can provoke and discourage a child but thankfully it can also make them strong and determined.

I was to quick to accept whatever they did and that can lead to shoddy work.

You can see how both could lead to problems.

As with so many of our parenting mistakes, God steps in and fixes up what we mess up.

Because of his great grace and mercy and because of his promises he takes what could have been not so good and he brings good from it.

We have to decide to let him do that, we have to decide to weigh out the bad and the good and let the bad blow away and cling to the good.

I'm so thankful that our kids have been able to do that to a large degree.

They are determined and diligent.

They are not ones to quickly walk away.

They are carrying that, "thinking process" theory into their own lives only they are doing it in a better way then we did.

The condo we stayed in while in Alabama had sliding glass doors and  the frame stuck up and you had to step over it.

Well, Ezra forgot that and fell and scraped his knee.

The next time he got ready to go out in his excitement he almost forgot, Heidi was sitting on the couch and she said, "Wait a minute Ezra,   think about what happened last time."   She said, "What do you need to do this time?"

Now Ezra is little but he stopped.

He slowed down and he stepped over.

I'm not saying he understood everything she said to him but I'm saying she is preparing him to be a thinker.

To go back and think about what didn't work and what will work.


I've seen the same evidence in the lives of the other kids, they got the lesson, we maybe didn't teach it right but they got it and I'm so glad they did  and I'm so glad they are applying it in a wiser way than their dad and I did because after all...it's the hope of every parent for their children to be more than they were themselves.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Too Many Toys and To Many Meal Time Troubles

We've all heard the saying, "One thing leads to another."

Well, that must be true because one blog post or one story in a book, is leading to another one.

A new blog post about toys.

Now granted, I'm an old mom, I'm such an old mom that I'm a grandmom.

The good thing is, kids are pretty much made up in the very same way they were made up when I was a young mom.

The blood work or DNA of my kids would be the same of a kid today.

So what's changed?

We have changed?

We've changed.

Some of it is for the better and I think we need to embrace that.

Ezra will get my tablet and he knows how to slide his finger across it so he can see the pictures.

 That's great, I enjoy that.

He knows all about phones and that's okay too.

Like it or not it's where we live and they need to know those things.

They need to be comfortable with them.

So by all means get them some computerized, stuff at an early age.

It's important.

At the same time don't forget the quiet things.

Don't forget to get books.

Don't forget to read books without pictures, I did that often and early with our kids, then I would stop and ask them to describe to me what they saw.

Like when we read Little House on the Prairie I asked them to describe the horses or the wagons or whatever we were reading about.

We played games and we did puzzles.

I had the tv on and I had the tv off.

There wa a time when we didn't have a tv in our living room.

I'm not against tv but I didn't want it to be the focal point of our living room, it didn't want it to be the focal point of our life.

I still don't have a tv in the living room but I want one and as soon as I figure out where to put it I'm going to move one in there.

Now I have one in the kitchen which is probably worse than having one in the living room.

Anyway, back to the toys.

Don't buy to many toys.

Now, when I tell you what we did I'm not saying we did it right, because we did an awful lot wrong, I'm just answering questions.

We had a potato box, a wooden potato box that Mark had built and when the potatoes were gone I asked him to bring it up from the cellar.

I started using it for the kids toys, it was about the size of an average tote.


We had four kids and all of their toys together fit in that box.

They played with all kids of things and not so much with toys.

Sometimes we are the problem, when it comes to toys, we think they need this or they will love that and truth be told they will be excited for about five minutes on average and then they will move on.

Yes, there will be the exception but getting over toys quickly will be the norm so it's up to us not to fall into the oh they want this or need this or I want them to have that trap.

Set about keeping it simple.

Don't talk about keeping it simple, just keep it simple.

Don't think you have to take a trip down the toy aisle every time you go to the store.

When a toy comes in it's okay if a toy goes out, and you don't have to ask the kids about it, you don't have to ask them which one they want to give away.

There will come a time when you can do that but when they are young just don't even go there, you are fixing to upset both them and you, and for no reason.

You are the parent , you make the decision, they will never even notice.

In other words, our kids will follow our lead.

It's the same way with food...people ask about getting their kids to eat.

Just eat.

Sit down and have supper, fix a meal, don't ask them if they like it, don't give them choices, just feed them.

I know that sounds crazy, I don't mean never give them choices but they don't need a lot of choices to early, they can't handle it.

Sometimes it would never even occur to the child to ask for something else but we're to quick to say, "Do you want something else?"

When I said kids had not changed it's true they haven't, we have.

Do you think a child in the 1930s got to say, I want something else?

Do you think their mother would have done that?

No, they learned to eat and  and not complain and because of that, their palate was developed.

Sometimes the easier life gets the more complicated it gets.

We say we don't but we have more money and more time and more ability to waste than any other generation before us and it isn't for the good.

Don't complicate meal time, fix supper, serve supper, don't talk a lot about it, just eat.
If you have already got one that is complaining it's going to be difficult but you can do it.

Take control.

Keep choices simple, don't  be to quick to offer an alternative.

So long story short because really it's pretty simple, just keep it simple, don't over do it on toys and don't over do it at dinner.

Just live and live simply.

I know there are some awful stories about Amish and Mennonite abuse, just like there are stories about people like us abusing our children.

I'm not talking about that right now I want to talk about normal loving Amish and Mennonite parents, mothers in particular.

I've never been in a store
and seen an out of control Amish mother or out of control children.

I've never had them in my home and known them to be disobedient.

I've never been to their home and seen them be that way.

Does it happen, sure it does, but it's not the norm, it's not the norm because they are still parenting the way people parented for years.

They aren't being driven by every new thought or idea about child rearing, they stick with the tried and the true.

The keep it simple.

There is no big program,  there is just common sense and time.

Kids take a lot of that.