Raspberry Jam and Refining my Soul

Recently, my family and I visited an apple orchard close to our home called HoneyHill Orchard, in hopes of picking some scrumptious apples.  My girls love apples so much that I need to always have one on hand.  And I frequently find half eaten one’s randomly lying around the house with tiny bite marks in it from my youngest daughter, who doesn’t like the skin but insist on still eating the apple like her big sister.  Upon our arrival to the farm we quickly learned that we were 4 days to early for the apple picking season. In our attempt to be spontaneous we forgot to check the schedule. So we picked raspberries instead.  My family isn’t too fond of raspberries but will eat them on occasion.  I find the store bought fruit rather tart and shy away from eating them all together.  Since we were there I decided to live in the moment and let my family pick as many as they wanted for the experience.  My middle child ate more off the bush than she put in the bucket, but this momma wasn’t complaining.  It just meant I didn’t have to feed her lunch!  Just kidding of course!

  

  
My youngest got involved too! “Let’s Taco about how cute he is!”   
 

We picked about a 1lb of raspberries and then headed home.  I knew that we would not be able to eat the whole pound so I began researching jam recipes.  I found this Old Fashion Raspberry Jam Recipe and decided to try it.  Thinking it was a somewhat easy process I talked myself into making my very first raspberry jam.  I ran to the store for some mason jars and then began the process while my youngest was napping.  

  

I rinsed the berries and added them to a stainless steal pot.  

   

 I began mashing them until they were in a liquid form.  (Confession:  I used my daughters ikea utensil for the job since I didn’t have an adult size version 🙂 It ended up working out perfect.) 

  
 
Then, I added the warm sugar to the mix and then started the sterilization of the jars.  (note: I forgot this process and would probably work better if done ahead of time)I learned a couple things during this process of making jam.  

  1. I didn’t have proper canning tools but I made it work this time.  Next time I will be a little more prepared and maybe attempt this at night when all the kids are asleep.  
  2. God was showing an amazing refining process that looks messy at first but comes out so sweet in the end.  

This past year God has been and still is working on refining my soul.  Pulling out the bad things inside of me such as rejection & comparison of others, needs vs. wants and my will over His,  just to name a few.  There are so many more but I won’t go into that now!  Youre welcome.  But what that looks like sometimes is a hot mess with lots of tears, the ugly kind.  To begin to pull these things out we have to ask God to reveal these things within us and then let God change us. Hopefully when He’s done something far sweeter will be present.  I would love to get into each of these awesome qualities of myself but for now I want to just focus on the process because that is where I am now.  God loves the process.  Don’t be afraid of the process.  It may take a long time and it could look really messy from worldly standards, but to God it is beautiful.  Embrace the mess, embrace the hurt and go there.  God wants to bring us somewhere more fruitful and nourishing so that we may be fully ready to be used for his glory.  When we have impurities attached to our soul it is hard for it to be used properly.

 

The raspberries were picked with dirty hands and contained lots of bugs, in that state they were not going to get used or eaten by my family.  But a little journey into an unknown messy process turned into the sweetest jam we ever tasted and we will be able enjoy it all year.  

  

   

 

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A Cry for Help & Apple Pie

I’m about to get real friends and it may sound like I’m whiney at times, but hear me out please.  Yesterday was a hard momma day!  Our dryer went out a couple weeks ago and we have been waiting for the new one to arrive.  Finally the day came and yesterday I had 10 loads to do.  On top of the laundry I also had a mound of dishes on the counter awaiting for my hands to tackle their greasy and dried up food spots, and my kids were out to get me.  Then my washer decides to act up once the newer fancier dryer shows up.  I think she may have been a bit envious of the dryer’s new sleek look, he was pure white and had fancy knobs.  She has some age to her,  she is off-white with a brown face and vintage knobs.  Not the cool vintage that everyone is raving about these days, but the no one wants anymore kind of vintage.  But, at 40 years young, I believe she still has some life left in her.  She works hard and gets the job done.  She got over her jealousy and began to work again but in the meantime this momma wasn’t happy.  During this time, my littlest didn’t want to sleep or eat her solid foods and my oldest was craving every ounce of energy out of me.  So, as I sat there mid-morning trying to drown out the screams coming from what seems to be a grown adult getting hurt, my other daughter said, “lets make apple pie.”  Now, I’ve never made an apple pie before and I’m not the greatest of bakers as I mentioned before in a previous post about my rice crispy treat failure, but I looked up the ingredients on Pinterest and said, “why not!”  We pulled out all our ingredients and got to work.  The littlest eventually fell asleep while we made our very first apple pie together, from scratch.  apple3

As we waited for the pie to cook the struggle reached an all time high.  I was struggling in my patience and in my self worth.  I felt I couldn’t do this SAHM(stay at home mom) thing anymore!  I needed out and I wanted out NOW!  I couldn’t listen to another scream, wipe off anymore spit up, clean up another mess, listen to another long winded story, or do another load of laundry.  I was emotionally and physically done!  I wanted to be me, the me I once knew.  I wanted to have a purpose and have time for myself.  I wanted to go after my calling and feel like a woman again, a person.  I wanted to worry about just myself for just a few hours.  I cried out to God, “I can’t do this!!!” as tears began to roll down my face.  My sweet daughter looked at me and told me that it would be ok and she came over, grabbed my head with her tiny hands and gave me a gentle kiss on the forehead.  “Do you need me to wipe your tears momma?”  She is so good to me.  I began to smell the sweet pie’s fragrance coming from the stove and I knew it was done.  I sat with my daugher and we enjoyed our first pie together.  It was perfect, minus the burnt edges, and we savored every bite.  The day was still a struggle but I pushed through long enough until the hubby walked through the door.  Everytime I felt a bit of stress or anxiety I would walk on over to that pie and take a bite, so sweet and tasty.  I was so proud of myself, I’m not a baker guys, this is huge!!apple1

I went to bed that night praying for God’s guidance in my life.  Praying he would help me with patience and wisdom on how to raise my daughters.  I always feel like I am failing at this mothering thing, and I am waiting for the day they come running back to me with how I failed them!  Its a real struggle.  God did something amazing during the night.  He gave me a dream.  This dream was so vivid and very emotional.  Basically, someone close to me died and was now in heaven.  I was sad and I cried a lot, but the amazing thing came when I was able to speak to that person.  As if she was calling from a heavenly phone.  “Audra, Heaven is amazing.  We are looking for a house.  But I needed to tell you this, this is important and urgent.  You need to go read Hebrews 12th.” “You mean 12?”  “yes, 12” I agreed and then she was gone.  I knew they were fine, I knew heaven was awesome and I knew I was going to be ok.  It was as if this person found out something amazing when she got to heaven and just had to tell me!  God used this particular person in the dream, not to warn me of their death, but to show two things.  1.  It was from heaven.  That is why that person died, so that they could tell me from Heaven.  God wanted me to know that this wasn’t an earthly suggestion, but a heavenly one.  And 2. God used the right person.  Someone I look up to and seek out for advice.  Someone I trust with my whole entire heart.  He is so amazing!

I woke up in the morning excited.  I wanted to read the chapter as soon as possible.  I read both the ESV version and The Message to gain full understanding.  Amazing.  I was blown away by how God heard my cry for help and he was giving me His answer.  Go read it, I promise you that you won’t be disappointed.  But, the idea is that we need to keep running the race God has put us on.  Whatever it is, don’t give up.  It could the race of being a SAHM or a working Mom, each have their struggles.  That is the race God has marked out for us and the place we are meant to be.  The trials that we face everyday are God’s way of preparing us, preparing us for the finish line.  He wants to smooth out all those rough edges and get as close to him as possible.  He has us exactly where he wants us and we just need to hang on!!  I hear ya Lord, loud and clear!!apple2

Keep running that race ladies and it is ok if you stop and have a piece of pie on the way.  My pie wasn’t perfect and I will need to keep working on it.  It had burnt edges and a sunken middle.  But when all was said and done and we took our first bite, it was amazing.  Just keep going and learning and trying to get closer to God.  God is working on all of us.  Just because we have a few rough edges doesn’t me he can’t use us where we are at, but he also wants to work those edges out to make us better.  Work out those edges and keep learning.  He is molding us into something great, something sweet.  apple4

Here is the recipe I used for the apple pie!

This blogger has amazing photos & great detail on how to make this apple pie!  My pie was gone in just a few short hours.  If you want one of my next slices, just let me know 🙂