Sunday, January 4, 2015

With a Side of Grace

I recently heard the term gospel bird and was instantly taken to another time with the memories those two words conjured up.
Fried chicken and Sunday dinner.
Being from the South, I heard supper and dinner used interchangeably for the noon day meal. In fact, I've heard arguments over which is correct! Growing up, Mother referred to mealtimes as breakfast, lunch and dinner...except on the Lord's Day and that was always dinner. Didn't matter if we ate after church or in the evening, it was always Sunday dinner...period!
A special meal, made even more special by what was served. Pot roast, cooked all morning, so tender a fork was all that was needed for digging in. Coconut cream pie with meringue high as the sky and lightly browned. Freshly snapped string beans, floating in a rich pot liquor, spiked with bacon drippings.  New potatoes awash in peppered cream gravy. And cake...lovely, decadent cake.  Sometimes a Hershey bar chocolate drizzled with ganache and sometimes a rich pound cake, but always made from scratch...never from a box. It's a wonder I didn't weigh two hundred and plenty by the time I was a teen. Second helpings weren't only expected, but encouraged!
You would have thought my mother and grandmother were feeding Coxey's army the amount of food they fixed, but they knew there would always be at the very least, one extra pair of shoes under their table when the dinner bell was rung. Sometimes the preacher and his family, sometimes a friend brought home from church, but always enough for everyone.  No one ever left that dinner table hungry...not if those two had anything to say about it!
Chicken and dumplings, chicken and dressing, all hard to beat, but my most favorite Sunday dinner had to be when my grandmother fried chicken. To this day, I've yet to meet the or woman...who could fry up a chicken like my grandmother. She always cut up her fresh fryer and used a perfectly seasoned iron skillet to fry it up in. Slowly and painstakingly, she let it turn brown before turning, but only after it was the right shade of brown would she lower the flame and cover it with a heavy, vented lid.  How she got that bird so perfect is a mystery to us all. Never burnt, all the beautiful, perfectly browned, crispy crust in place, tender, moist, but never greasy. The special piece, the pulley bone?  That she set aside for Mother, her only child and no one dared reach for it. Only after Mother was licking her fingers, were we given it to pull apart and make a wish.

What I would give for that bone. I promise y'all up and down, my one wish would to be sitting at the table with all of them just once more.

Nothing was wasted including the drippings. Law, armed with a can of Pet Milk, she turned those little flakes of fried goodness into another brown masterpiece.  Brown gravy, liquid gold, call it what you want. All I knew was as she slowly stirred until the gravy took on a glossy sheen, the waiting seemed like eternity.  Just waiting for my turn to take a hold of that big old serving spoon and start ladling it over fluffy, buttery, creamed potatoes whipped together with guessed it...Pet Milk seemed like forever. It was an art and sadly, a secret recipe she took with her to the better world a'waiting.
Gospel bird?
Marie's fried chicken was a religious experience commencing with prayers of thankfulness, a chorus of hallelujahs and ending with heartfelt amens.

I feel certain she arrived at Heaven's gate with the perfume of fried chicken clinging to her like a robe of silk. And if God, in His infinite wisdom, sees fit to have it on the menu for Sunday Dinner?

For me, that will be heaven indeed.

~Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never grow hungry and whoever believes in me will never go thirsty.~John 6:35

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Year of the Sheep

~My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.~John 10-27

How many times do we hear the phrase "Where did the time go?"
I say say it...shoot fire, we all say it, but honestly, I have never felt time fly as much as I did this past year. Seems like I had just put a fresh out of the package 2014 blotter on my desk like yesterday. But as I rip off December, I see a lonely brown piece of cardboard as the only remainder of 2014 and I know another year has slipped away.
And boy oh boy, what a year it was!

2014 was a year of change and challenges.
Cat Daddy retiring. Brandon graduating and starting college. Graycie moving to Middle School and Bella starting Kindergarten. My best friend Sherry being diagnosed with breast cancer. Losing some very dear friends. All important. All tests of my faith, strength and sanity. Adjusting, stretching, learning things happen when least expected. Coming to understand red letter days aren't always big events, but are often times composed of small victories.  But mainly learning a calendar is just to remind me what day of the week it is, not what rules my life and remembering to always use a pencil with a good eraser when making plans.
I'm not going to start the new year off with my Top Ten Posts of 2014. That would be an exercise in futility and y'all know how I feel about any form of exercising! With only 13 posts under my belt for the entire year, it would be silly of me to list 10. Besides, the 3 left out might feel slighted and gang up on me!
For the record...don't expect a list of New Year's resolutions either.
I make 'em...I break 'em and end up feeling guilty as all get out. Why on this green earth would I be foolish enough to set myself up for failure? Why indeedy when I can just as easily set myself up for success by reaching for goals I have the ability to complete.
Why resolve to lose 20+ pounds when I know, short of having my lips sewn together, that's never going to least not while there's a cookie left in the world.  Instead, I'm going to give away 20+ items gathering dust in my closet to those who need them more than me...starting with those size 10 jeans that would never see the light of day otherwise!
I could resolve to once and for all organize my pantry...and I really could. It's not rocket science for corn's sake, but with C.D. around 24/7, I ask you any guesses on just how long before it would be one hot mess again? Why set the stage for an argument over which shelf the jar of butter beans should be on when that's a fight that...well...isn't worth a hill of beans. Instead, I'll use that energy to fix a pot of butter beans for supper, making us both happy as pigs in sunshine.
Oh I could say...with the best intentions I might add...I'm going to set aside 30 minutes a day for exercise. But y'all do the math. 30 minutes exercise + 1 hungry and chubby lady = Pie. And I don't mean the trig one! I might manage for one, maybe two days, but in the end feel guilty for the 363 and a quarter days I didn't. Pi is an irrational number which leads to the conclusion it's irrational for me to think I'm going to do anything other than go 'round in circles fussing at myself for having the will power of a gnat.
Rather than setting aside time for something I don't like, doesn't it make better sense to spend those 30 minutes doing something I stepping outside for starters? Hearing the birds, smelling the rain, breathing in the fresh air...this I think would do my body more good than sweatin' to the oldies.
And speaking of outside!
I could promise y'all up and down to be more faithful about blogging on a regular basis, but I won't and can't lie. Simply put, until He gives me the words, I won't be doing posts on random ramblings. I can't. Words are too important to be thrown about willy nilly...leastwises they are to me. So until the right words come, rather than having my face stuck to this screen, I think I'll throw on some suncreen instead, step outside and feel the sun on my face.
The only challenge I've given myself for 2015?  To stop just pinning recipes to Pinterest boards and actually try fixing one a week. With over 400 recipes pinned, (assuming I don't add any new if!) according to my calculations, that oughta keep me busy for the next 8+ years!
I guess what I'm trying to say is this. Rather than be burdened down with what I should be doing or what others are doing, I'm planning on spending 2015 being happy, grateful and blessed whenever and whatever the situation is because nothing is random. Not the good, not the bad. All serve a purpose, His. And while I don't pretend to have the answers as to the why, I know in His time all will be revealed if I listen closely and seek Him daily.
In the meantime, I will be happy to have been given this man by my side, children a phone call away and beautiful grandchildren...all who love me. Because God has chosen them for me, I have riches untold.
Grateful to God for Sherry's friendship, her triumph over cancer and for allowing me to be with her as she's needed me.
And blessed?
It would take one mighty big abacus for me to be able to count my blessings...beginning with each of you.

 As I roll into 2015, I know I'm greatly blessed and highly favored and for that, I'm most beholden.
I also know my strengths, talents, shortcomings and weaknesses. But I also know the power to use the first two to overcome the last two is within me and that's what I'm planning on doing in 2015...all the while praying for His guidance in every step I take.
So not to toot my own horn y'all, but I lift my glass to 2015 and to me being me in all my chubby apologies.
Or as the great Popeye was fond of saying...
~I y'am what I y'am and that's all that I y'am!~
(Gifted to me by the amazing Lisa of Tarnished and Tattered fame. What a lovely way to be seen through someone else's eyes!) 
Toot Toot!