Screen Free Week

Dear Friends, just so you know what’s going on, my family and I are participating in “screen free” week starting tomorrow, May 1- Sunday May 7. I will be online for very limited times in relationship to my work, but I won’t be scrolling through news feeds and will probably miss a lot. Should you need or want to reach me, please do so via email or Facebook messenger and I will respond when I can, or use the old-fashioned method of calling. 

The children and I practiced an electronics-free evening last night. We lit oil lamps and had a story-telling contest. They couldn’t wait to do it again. 

I hope many of you will also participate in some way or another and that we all enjoy our families, our friendships, and our solitude in a new way. 

See you on the other side. 

Happy Adoption Day

It is with unspeakable joy that we officially introduce our daughter, Korana (CORE-ahna) Sky Harlow.


We are not naive to the sorrow that brought her to us, and we are especially mindful of our own sorrow that opened our hearts to receive her as our own. Our first-born daughter, Sadie Rose, would be 10 this year. She died less than twenty-four hours after she was born. Korana and her birth family have had their own sadness that is not ours to tell, but Korana has truly come “By Way of Sorrow.” (Song references and words used by permission of the writer, Julie Miller.)

The nights joy slept for us have finally awakened to days of laughter. The healing addition of two more rockstar biological children, a non-profit in our daughter’s memory, and this sweet babe complete our family. 

We are eternally grateful to all who supported us on this incredible journey of preparation to become foster parents, caring for us upon her arrival, and walking with us on the uncertain road of fostering through the social services system. Thank you for those who prayed for us as our own hearts were torn between genuinely believing for a fully restored birth family and the unimaginable reality that until now she wasn’t ours to keep.

Many times I fell to my knees, unable on my own to support, pray, and accept all the twists and turns of this journey. Many times I re-lived the hours after Sadie’s birth as life and loss hung in the balance. Many times I could hardly catch my breath as fear and hope tangoed in my heart. Many times I surrendered it all to God. Many times I took it back, scared to hold on, terrified to release.

Much more about this journey in my forthcoming book, “By Way of Sorrow – a story of life, death, adoption, and hope.”

With genuine compassion for all who are part of this story, her story, our story, we celebrate our “gotcha day,” April 24, 2017.

Below is a seven minute video summarizing the past eighteen months. The first accompaniment song is “By Way of Sorrow,” written by Julie Miller and recorded by the Wailin Jennys. The second song is “Happy Adoption Day,” written and performed by John McCutcheon.

 

 

A New Name

I didn’t have a name for three days when I was born. My parents were waiting for the perfect moniker to dawn on them for their fifth child. Finally, they named me after a protagonist in the novel, “Not Regina,” by Christmas Carol Coffman. 

My first website, moons ago, was “inspiredramblings.” Later I started a new site, “myinspiredramblings,” but my writing was sporadic and I left it sitting there like a book collecting dust on a shelf. At one point I also had a recipe blog called, “The Kitchen Chic.”

Last year, I decided to start blogging with intention under the identity, “Spicy Spirit Sister,” the name a reference to recipes, food, soul care, and ministry, all of which I love.   

Many of you started following me under this name and I’ve truly appreciated your friendship and feedback. However, the moniker still didn’t feel authentic. I could just as well have titled my site “the conservative hippie,” (explanation warrants a post of its own) “the grief companion,” “my plant-based-ish family,” or “the ordinarian,” and all of them would have represented parts of the whole.

As I take my writing career to the next level, I’ve returned to the name so thoughtfully given to me at birth for my web address. This name encompasses all of the nuances that make me, me. The title of my site returns to “Inspired Ramblings.” 


I look forward to continuing our connection and friendship here. 

Tip for getting out of the cooking rut

I’ve finally gotten back in the kitchen to create a well-rounded meal. I like to come up with different challenges to get out of my usual cooking habits. Something I do occasionally is try to create a complete meal from one recipe book. I did that this evening with this book. 

This evening I made chickpea and spinach stew served over cooked and fluffed cracked wheat. 


Topped with garlic mayonnaise. 


Our side was honey mustard glazed carrots. 



I also have two loaves of cracked wheat-honey bread in the oven. (Except I used bulgar and molasses.) 


Here they are rising in the pan. 

We will top it off with an evening snack of homemade snickerdoodles (not from the cookbook) and mango sherbert (from the cookbook.) 

Even though I get frustrated with menu planning, finding new and different things everyone likes, cooking and baking on a tight budget, serving my family in this way brings me great joy. 

What do you do to get out of a cooking rut?

The Scent of Grief


Liquid gold, drinking in the aroma of Gain laundry detergent, regular scent
Inhaling deeply the month of June, sterile hospitals, funeral homes, and her, still covered with the fluid of my womb

Whispers of family and friends on soft summer breezes, gathered fully together for the first time in years, to mourn our lost love
Eyes averted, conversation avoided, but inhabiting one space
Tears and laughter juxtaposed
Could it be? Heart healing in our greatest pain?
Cleansing communication, only love remains
Empty bassinet, unfinished nursery
Tears washing grief from our eyes
Hearts united in the sacred dance of grief and joy
Her scent now faded from her soft white blanket
But not from the laundry that hangs on the line  

Just for fun, Ozark Carp

You probably won’t hear much from me in this forum over the next couple of weeks. I am working hard to complete my book, “By Way of Sorrow, a story of life, death, adoption, and hope.” (Much more on that soon.)

But I was planning my menu for the next week and saw this recipe, long forgotten, in the back of “Pantry Gems II,” a favorite cookbook of mine. 

Read instructions carefully and completely before trying it for yourself. Enjoy. 🙂

Potpourri; factory seconds, Sears catalogs, and nostalgia

I don’t do many chips around here, but when I do, my favorites are these Factory Seconds. $1.79 a bag at our local discount grocery and bursting with character and flavor. 

As I munched on some today, I thought of how these potatoes, for whatever reasons, were not chosen for the first and finest batches, and yet I love them more than perfectly shaped and colored chips. 

They reminded me of life. Some of us get knocks and bruises. We come in all sizes and colors. The final outcome is not what fits into a perfect mold. But oh the character, the flavor, the uniqueness we posses at the end of the day. Don’t sell yourself short. Don’t let anyone tell you you’ve gone too far, messed up too badly, failed to miserably, to be made into something lovely and desirable. You are worth it, you are loved, and your experiences are what makes you who you are. 


I was talking with mother-in-law about these Sears “wish books” recently. Nostalgia almost swept me off my feet when she found these 1992-1993 Fall/Winter annual and 1993 Spring/Summer annual treasures in her basement. We didn’t order much from these because most everything was “too worldly,” but I would page through each one when they came and daydream about what I would get if it wasn’t worldly and we could afford it. (We mostly used them for our hineys to make us sit taller on the benches at the supper table.) Paging through them again brought back special memories of a child dreaming about something far beyond her reach, but I loved dreaming. 


We had a beautiful gloomy rainy day. At the very end the sun broke through for a glorious display. I was reminded of a hymn from my childhood, “Lo, Behold The Western Sky,” by Ruth R Martin and Carol Stroop, copyright 1985. 


I made four batches of fresh buttermilk biscuits and two gallons of my famous sausage gravy to feed the BBQ chicken crew at church in the morning. This is our first one of the season. We sampled the fare for dinner and it was satisfactory. 🙂

Now downstairs for some much-needed family time. Have a great weekend, everyone. 

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