For many years our family begins each New Year with Hopping John for lunch or dinner. It’s a family favorite and easy to make. Many people believe black-eyed peas on New Years bring good fortune.
Spicy Hopping John
2 cups of canned black-eyed peas ½ lb bacon (reserve 2 Tablespoon of bacon drippings)
1 medium chopped onion 2 minced garlic cloves
½ teasp. of crushed red pepper flakes ½ teasp. Black pepper
½ teasp. Salt 1 cup white uncooked white rice
Cook rice according to directions. Fry bacon and set aside. Sauté chopped onion in reserved bacon drippings until soft and clear. Add garlic and pepper flakes to onion and heat for a couple of minutes. When rice is done, add black-eyed peas, cooked bacon, and salt and pepper. Stir together and heat on low heat for 10 minutes to allow flavors to blend. Chill leftovers and reheat when you are ready for more.
There are many variations for this southern dish so feel free to experiment and make it your own.
My sons enjoyed it and wondered why we only had it once a year. While we never ate it because it would bring good luck, we enjoyed Hopping John every New Year and hope that our new year would be blessed.
Dictionary.com defines Distraction as that which distracts, divides the attention, or prevents concentration: that which amuses, entertains, or diverts; amusement; entertainment: and division or disorder caused by dissension; tumult.
I’ve been living with distractions for a few weeks.
~ Laddie, West Highland White Terrier joined our family at the end of June. He amuses, entertains, and definitely diverts our attention, making getting much-done very challenging. We love the wee pup, and we are all in the process of “being trained”.
~ A bad bout of lower back and leg pain has distracted and prevented my concentration, along with not being able to sit at my desk or anyplace else. Fortunately, it is finally diagnosed and I’m being treated with meds and the proper physical therapy so it should improve … soon, I hope.
~ My website was down for nearly three weeks causing some division and disorder by dissension and tumult. I’m grateful to now have an up-and-running website.
The answer to all of the above is patience and perseverance.
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” Romans 5:3-4
I’m eager to share some news: A Heart Set Free was beautifully narrated by Cecily White. Cecily did a wonderful job and didn’t let the challenge of some of the characters’ Scottish dialects slow her down. More on that in a future post.
In a little over three months – on October 1, 2018, A Heart For Freedom releases. This is the sequel to Selah Award Winner A Heart Set Free. It is is a stand-alone book that picks up the Stewarts’ five years later, in 1775 when the American Revolution begins. Here is the blurb from the back of the book:
He longs for freedom, but he won’t risk those he loves.
Matthew Stewart wants only to farm, manage his inn, and protect his family. But tension between the Loyalists and Patriots is mounting. When he’s asked to help the Patriots and assured his family will be safe, he agrees.
She’s seen the cost of fighting England, and she wants no part of it.
In Scotland, Heather Stewart witnessed the devastation and political consequences of opposing England. She wants only to avoid war and protect the family and peace she finally found in Virginia. But the war drums can be heard even from home in the countryside, and she has no power to stop the approaching danger.
The consequences are deadly.
When Matthew leaves for a short journey and doesn’t return, Heather faces the biggest trial of her life. Will she give up hope of seeing him again? Will he survive the trials and make his way home? What will be the consequences of his heart for freedom?
A Heart For Freedom is available for pre-order on Amazon. I hope you will enjoy this story and consider writing a review.
I’m so pleased and proud to announce that there is an opportunity for men and women in the Williamsburg, VA area to come and meet Ken Grunst, a local luthier, and my husband.
On November 4, at 8:00 am the Williamsburg Presbyterian Church Men’s Fellowship will host a time of fellowship, a hymn sing, and a home-cooked breakfast.
After breakfast, Ken will detail the process he has used in building twenty-two acoustical guitars and one banjo. He will have several instruments on display.
Anyone interested should contact the church at 757-229-4235 or firstname.lastname@example.org to make a reservation by November 1, so enough food can be prepared. A requested donation of $5.00 is for the breakfast.
It is finally the release day for A Heart Set Free.
Writer’s manuscripts are like children. We pour our time, love, faith, wisdom, imagination, discipline, and hope into them. We want to see them mature into a creation we can be proud of, and something that others will benefit from and enjoy.
This has been a long journey, and today, my heart is full of thanks as a long held dream has been realized.
~ To my parents who instilled a love of reading in their children.
~ To the friends and family who encouraged me so many years ago as I wrote this story. Some of them read it as I completed each chapter. Their impatience for the next chapter gave me the confidence to continue.
~ To my husband, Ken, who read this story and encouraged me to never give up on my dream to write stories that communicate the truths of the Christian faith that will entertain, as well as bring inspiration, healing, and hope to the reader. He urged me to continue to write and pursue publication. Armed with his red pen, he provided wise editing advice.
~ To my friends and writing associates who inspire, teach and continue to encourage me on this journey.
~ To my agent, Linda Glaz with Hartline Literary Agency, who has taught me so much about the craft of writing fiction. Linda’s support, patience, and positive reinforcement has blessed me incredibly. She also does this for her other clients.
~ To Kathy Davis, my managing editor and the rest of the team at Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Kathy patiently worked with this neophyte to help make it a better story.
~ To Eddie Jones at Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas who has a heart to give unpublished authors a chance to break into the market during a season when even experienced authors are struggling to find homes for their work.
~ Last, but by no means least, for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for His provision, mercy, and grace in my life. He put this story in my mind and gave me the heart to write it.
From an article in the September issue of Colony Life Magazine
How do two retired introverts spend their days without stepping on each other’s toes? Married for 13 years, Ken and Janet Grunst’s happy solution is having space to devote to their avocations. “Ken’s Cave” says the sign on the door to Ken’s lower level workshop where he creates musical instruments.
“What interested me was the challenge and reward of unlocking the beauty of the wood,” Ken remembers. “When I put the finish on a chess board I’d made, the grain came alive!” Ken plays guitar, so decided to learn to build one. “I’ve done 23 so far, plus a 5-string banjo,” he says, “and given away about a dozen of them to family members.”
Each is a work of art featuring exotic woods, intricate abalone inlay, and his personal signature carved sound ports representing the flame of the Holy Spirit. “King David was a luthier, a maker of stringed instruments, and played harps that he’d built. I’m captivated by the idea that, like him, I can take a pile of wood and pieces and suddenly it makes music!”
A picture on the wall near Ken’s Cave shows a young Ken Grunst performing with his college folk group back in Michigan. His friend and bandmate, Al Jardine, went on to fame as a member of The Beach Boys, but life as a professional musician never appealed to Ken. “There are the awful nerves before a performance, then the high of the actual playing and singing, but it’s such a downer when eventually the place empties out.”
Ken became a teacher and he and his first wife welcomed a daughter. “Teaching in Maryland with a salary of $5,000 a year, Dee and I would have actually had more money on welfare, so I got into home- building,” he recalls with a laugh. Ken was widowed in 2002, and then he met Janet at a Community Bible Study (CBS) conference. Janet, who was the executive assistant to the director of CBS, had been on her own for a decade and had two grown sons.
Janet’s tidy desk and book-lined corner of their family room is where she writes historical fiction. Her first book A Heart Set Free debuts in early December, and she is excited that persistence has finally paid off. “I refer to the book as ‘my Millennial in the basement’, because after 31 years, it’s just now getting wings,” the author jokes. She wrote her manuscript while her little boys were occupied, a snatched hour or two at a time. She tried to sell it herself. “It was almost picked up by publishers twice,” she recalls. “Then my life changed and I was busy working and raising my boys, so the book stayed dormant.” After Janet and Ken were married, he read the story, the romantic tale of an 18th-century indentured servant, loved it, and encouraged her to try again. This time around Janet found a supportive agent and the manuscript was accepted by Lighthouse Publishers of the Carolinas.
Janet has a second story ready and plans for a third. “Writing makes me feel alive!” she declares. ”Marketing, however, will probably be a challenge,” the self-proclaimed introvert laughs.
Ken and Janet have found the secret of successful remarriage is staying actively engaged in things that bring joy, carving out space for themselves while cherishing time together. Their three children have given them ten grandchildren, including quadruplets born this year, and they jointly serve as small group team leaders for Williamsburg Community Chapel. Their goal is to balance fun social times with peaceful hours of creating beauty, both in wood and on the page.
“Children are a heritage from theLord,offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.”
Last fall my oldest son, Jeff, and his wife, Jill, announced that their prayers for another baby had been answered— but not just one baby. Four!
Their quadruplets, three boys and a girl, were born mid-February and are all
growing and thriving. All but the smallest one is home. The tiny guy will be
having some needed surgery but is expected to do well. We all thank God for these newest little ones and for the huge team of doctors, nurses, and staff that assisted in the birth and in their care at the NICU for several weeks. We also appreciate the care the smallest one is getting at Boston Children’s Hospital as he awaits surgery.
Wrapping one’s head around four premature newborns joining a family with two active children four and under is daunting. Since the family lives over six hundred miles away, my visits to help are limited. Jill’s mother has been a life-saver, traveling there from the mid-west several times to help. I just returned from my second visit to their home. Generous people from their church and my son’s workplace have contributed meals non-stop. They have been blessed to find a wonderful helper/sitter who is equally adept at handling babies, a toddler, and a pre-schooler— and she’s a trained nurse. Other friends have also volunteered to assist.
Having children one at a time is life changing. Adding four at once is mind-blowing. The walls of their home are lined with bins of clothes of varying sizes, diapers, wet wipes, bottles. Other accoutrements are car seats for infants and some for children, boppy pillows, sleeping slings, strollers, cribs, high chairs— you get the picture. It’s everything times four. There are also two changing tables and rocking chairs.
Prayer~ When she learned that they were expecting quads, Jill began a prayer support group that she kept updated with information as her pregnancy progressed. I did also. This prayer group has been such an encouragement and faithful in storming heaven for the family and especially these new babies.
Feedings are challenging ~Jill furnished pumped breast-milk to the hospital while the babies were there and still provides a supply for the little guy. She pumps five times a day. Each evening Jeff and I prepared the 18 bottles needed for three babies every day, each child has different amounts. Jeff, the math whiz, calculates and adds just the right amount of dry formula to create “fortified breast milk” and the totals needed for each baby. My job was to have the 18 bottles and all the four inserts cleaned and ready to go. We color coded the tops for each specific baby to keep it straight. The person feeding records how much each baby takes in at every feeding—also what they put out, but we won’t go there. When the youngest comes home the numbers of bottles go up. I helped with changings and feedings as did Jeff when he was available. Jill, bless her heart, fed all three babies at the 3am feeding with the aid of three boppy pillows. She’s one tired mamma.
Transportation~ The kiddos have 2 double strollers to accommodate their infant car-seats. They also have a quad stroller for when they can sit up. With a four-year old and a two-year old who require car-seats and now four more little ones, it takes more than your average SUV or mini-van to transport everyone. So now they have added a Ford Transit 350 XLT to their driveway. It has room for all six car-seats with space to spare.
Outside Help ~ Jeff and Jill were not the first couple to welcome quads. Hence, there are strollers and all sorts of devices designed to assist parents of multiples. Jill is part of an internet support group of quad moms that share important information like specific health concerns pertaining to preemies and multiples, as well as how to deal with a multitude of other issues. There is even a quad support group for dads. Friends of theirs have not only helped with meals, but with transporting their preschooler, arranging play-dates, and donating clothing and equipment.
Siblings~ The toddler and two-year-old have been so sweet welcoming their little siblings. And remarkably, for young children, they are adjusting very well well having less of their mom and dad’s attention.
Watching how Jeff and Jill have and are adjusting to their new life fills me with awe and pride. They are doing a wonderful job in spite of being sleep deprived and overworked.
Jeff and Jill’s faith, patience, grace, love for their family, and sense of humor are an asset every day.
“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”