Bread Crumbs…

I don’t like wasting hard earned money on things I can make myself, especially on groceries.

I use breadcrumbs in many dishes, from meatloaf to chicken breading. Store bought is not only ridiculous in price it normally has additives.

I like using left over bread I’ve baked, but any stale (not molded) bread works fine.

I use my dehydrator to completely dry the bread after cutting it up into cubes. You can use an oven on the very lowest heat. You want to make sure there is absolutely no moisture left in any of the bread.

Next I toss the cubes into my ninja blender and pulse until the crumbs are the texture I prefer. You can also add in dried herbs or dehydrated onion, ramps and or garlic if you like for seasoning.

I keep one jar with an easy access Los for immediate use and other jars I will vac-seal to store in the pantry.

I hope you enjoyed this frugal tip for your kitchen.

Until next time,

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice

Preserving Wild Ramps

Wild Ramps, also referred to as Wild Leeks, are an amazing spring treat that grows in the wooded areas around the same time that morals (mushrooms) and Pheasant Back Mushrooms start to peek out.  April to the end of May these wonderful natural treats cover select patches of wooded areas.  They originally were gathered and enjoyed in the Appalachia Areas (that I know of).   Ramps taste like sweet garlic.  Some people say they taste like green onion, but to me they are more garlic.

This year my husband and I went foraging and were blessed with an abundance of Ramps and some Pheasant Back mushrooms.

Since I work in the city all week, I long for my evenings and weekends in the country.  I love coming home to simplicity, and it doesn’t get much more simple than this.  Enjoying the gifts strait from God.  The wonderful afternoon hike proved to be more than just good for my soul, but it provided a bountiful addition to our pantry.

We love both of these items fresh, but honestly their natural shelf life is not very long.  So what to do with all the wonderful goodies, without over eating or worse, wasting them?

My favorite recipe this year is Pickled Ramps.  A very good friend of mine from church sent me a link for a recipe she uses for her pickled radishes.  I’ve tweaked it a tad to include water bath canning time and preferred taste:

Recipe 1:  Spicy Pickled Ramps  (Makes 2 pints)

Preparation:  Clean your ramps.  Wash thoroughly, peel away the outer layer, cut off the roots and just below the leaves.  (Keep your leaves separated for the next recipe)

 

Once you have your ramps ready, pack them tightly in clean and sterilized Pint Canning jars.  I pack mine to where there is a layer bulb down and a layer bulb up so that they are nice and tight but not squished.

In EACH Pint Jar Add 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes and 1/2 teaspoon of whole mustard seed.

Set the jars two the side, while your water bath canner is heating up.

Off to the side on another stove burner in a Simmering Pot Add:

  • 3/4 cups of Apple Cider Vinegar (canning grade)
  • 3/4 cups of Water
  • 2 teaspoons of canning salt
  • 3 tablespoons of raw honey

Heat your liquid mixture, constantly stirring until it is boiling.  Make sure you don’t stop stirring so your honey doesn’t scorch.

Pour your liquid over your ramps in your jars until the ramps are covered (1/2 inch head space for the jar).

Wipe down your jar rims from any splash.

Place your lids on the jars and tightly (but not like Hercules tightly) put on your rims.

Place the jars one by one in your water bath canner.  Water should be one inch over your jars after all jars are loaded into your canner.

Once your canner comes to a boil, you will want it to remain boiling for 20 minutes.

At the sound of the timer, the end of twenty minutes, I turn off the heat to the canner and let it sit until the boil is gone.  Then using canning tongs I take my jars out and put them on a clean covered area where they can cool for the next 12 hours.  Each sealed jar will give you that wonderful “POP”.  Let cool for 12 hours and put away in the pantry.

These are best if you can wait 5 days before opening, however, we opened one jar 24 hours after it was canned, we couldn’t stand it any longer, and it was absolutely heavenly.

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Refrigerate after you break the seal.

Recipe #2: Dehydrated Ramps

Remember when I said, don’t throw away those leaves?  Well here is why, they make yummy soup & stew & Stock greens.  Using your dehydrator (or oven on the lowest temperature), spread your leaves out and dry, then crumble up.

For the bulbs, we slice thin and put in the dehydrator at 100 degrees for overnight (or until they crumble).  Dehydrated ramp bulbs are so yummy to just eat like chips if you like garlic, which we do.  They are also perfect for dried goods for your pantry to be used anywhere you would use leeks, garlic or green onion.

We have a Vac-u-Sealer with a lid attachment, so we put our dehydrated goods in a canning jar, then using the lid attachment vac-seal the jar.  This is a great way to store without crushing your dehydrated goods.  NOTE:  You must use a clean jar and a clean canning lid each time you seal the jar.  You can not reuse lids.20180508_200148742386972.jpg

We also cleaned, diced and stored our Pheasant Back mushrooms this way with the dehydrator and the vac-u-sealer with the lid attachment.  The centers will be used for stew and soup stock while the tender outer areas will be used for pretty much anything.

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I really hope you enjoy this recipe and ideas to use what you have and venture out into nature to enjoy the beauty and bounty provided there.

But remember this, don’t take more than YOU can use.  Don’t be greedy.  Use a netted bag when collecting mushrooms (that way the spores will fall to the ground and make more next year).  Leave plenty for the animals and nature.  Oh and if you don’t know for sure if something is not edible, don’t eat it.  😉

Until next time,

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice

 

 

 

Christmas Cards

Bear with me with me on this little blog post.

I miss getting Christmas Cards.  Oh, I get plenty on social media, you know, the generic ones with snow and a dancing snowman.  What I miss is real, paper, delivered by the postman, Christmas Cards.  I miss birthday cards, letters and stuff in the mail other than bills and ‘junk’ mail.  I miss Carolers coming to the house and singing.  I miss singing traditional songs at Christmas.  In fact, here lately I cringe at some of the Christmas songs I hear on the radio.

carolers

I miss the celebration, the deliberation and the honesty behind all of the things now deemed old-fashioned or out-dated.  Perhaps I’m out-dated, don’t care, I am am who I am.   I admit I have fallen into the techno mentality myself, I’m working on a computer as I write this right now.  But what really hit me was when I sent a text to my husband, who was downstairs, last night as I was upstairs in my office.  REALLY???? NO!  At that moment I wanted to throw my cell phone out the window.   Honestly, I almost cried.  Why?  Because I consider myself very blessed to have a very close, honest and loving relationship with my husband, and the last thing I want is to put technology between us.

I woke up early this morning, with a lot on my heart and mind.  I spent extra time in prayer over a morning cup of coffee and I am almost finished with my Christmas Cards.  I sat this morning putting in a letter in each one to be sent to family and friends who I rarely hear from anymore, but still, it’s a Christmas Card and it will be delivered through the postal service and I hope it brings a smile.

Take the time to sit down and play a game WITH a person AT a table and enjoy each other’s company.  Take the time to write a letter and send a smile to someone.  Most of all, unplug.

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay L. Rice

The Secret to Happiness

There is one simple step that I have found that leads to happiness.  Acknowledge that happiness does not rely on a person, place, thing or even a circumstance.  It depends on your choice.  Yup, its that simple.  It all depends on how you look at everything, how you react to situations and people.

It seems more and more the ‘world’ pushes that happiness can only be gained by being tied to things, people, position and money.  Prestige and placement in life are preached to our children so heavily at a young age that it’s no wonder we are seeing so much depression and and stress in our youngins.  The constant flood of being plugged in is always screaming at us what the world says we have to be, have to do, have to go.  It’s time to turn it off.  School is important but college is not a necessity.  There is nothing wrong with having a career based on skill and talents, working with your hands or with the land.  Technology has its uses, but more often than not, it seems to have more misuses.

Here are some basic rules for embracing the now, for finding happiness.

  • Live well beneath your means.
  • Don’t give away what you can’t give at home.
  • Return everything you borrow.
  • Serve with your talents and your heart, not out of obligation or guilt.
  • Stop blaming other people for your bad choices.
  • Pray Daily (sometimes every second if need be).
  • Have daily walks and talk with God.
  • Admit it when you make a mistake.
  • Give unworn clothes to charity.
  • Give outsized clothes to charity.
  • Do something nice for a total stranger (and don’t post it on social media).
  • Listen more; talk less.
  • Find a reason to be outside.
  • Strive for excellence, but not perfection.
  • Be on time.
  • Don’t make excuses.
  • Organize your day in the morning.
  • Don’t argue or insist on being right or having the last word.
  • Be kind to unkind people.
  • Let someone ahead of you in line.
  • Take time to be alone with God.
  • Always incorporate good manners.
  • Don’t lie.
  • Be humble.
  • Realize and accept that life is not fair, but it is all in God’s plan.
  • Enjoy your time for rest and sleep.
  • Know when to keep your mouth shut.
  • Practice not criticizing others.
  • Turn the TV/Computer/phone off.
  • Learn from the past.
  • Live every day to its fullest.
  • Always give a kind word.
  • Make due with what you have.
  • Focus on the good, not the bad.

Happiness is how you view your life.  I like to tell people that every day is a good day as long as I wake up and my feet hit the floor and my face doesn’t.  I figure that leaves the rest of the day wide open for great things to happen.

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay L. Rice

 

A New Beginning

For some time now, I have been lost and living in the “city”.   I’ve been longing to return to having some land and the ability to have a large garden, having my hens again maybe a few meat rabbits, a house with a cellar for canned goods and a place that felt like me.

Well, prayers have been answered and we have found our little house in the woods.  We know that God placed this place in our hands to love and care for and we are now moving along and getting settled in.  I’m so excited to plow up the garden so its ready to go in spring.  I’m looking forward to building a coop and having some nice hens making their home there.  Most of all, it will be wonderful for my husband to tell me he’s going hunting and will be late for dinner instead of being back in 2 weeks.

With all that said, its been a bit of a struggle preparing the house to be moved into, moving AND preparing the pantry for winter.  No the canning doesn’t stop just because we are moving.  The crops don’t hold off and winter is right around the corner.  I look around my office /sewing room in the loft and I have a beautiful view of the woods (and deer) in our back yard.  The birds and crickets are such a pleasant sound compared to the busy noise in town.

So we are home.  The Lord has abundantly answered our prayers for a place that is us and we are very grateful.

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay L. Rice

Living Simple

The one thing that can be the most difficult in today’s world is to not be wrapped up over money.  We are bombarded continuously from all sides on wants over needs and blurring those lines. We are told self is a top priority and that things and money are the path to happiness.  The world lies.  You can not fill emptiness with things, only Christ can fill emptiness. 

I was told today that simple living can not be achieved in today’s world.  I’m here to tell you that it can.  Simple living and being frugal doesn’t mean loosing; it allows you to gain the important things in life.

Collect Change

Keep a change jar on your dresser.  Pennies, nickels, dimes they all add up.  When your jar gets full don’t take them to one of those change machines in the stores because they cost you money to count and sort YOUR money.  Banks still do this for free.  Put the money directly into a savings account.

Live Below Your Means

In short don’t max out your paycheck.  No matter how much or little you make find ways to tighten your belt.  When you get a bonus, overtime pay, tax return whatever it is put it “away” in a savings for later or use it to pay down bills.  Make a monthly budget and intentionally set aside 10% of your regular pay for savings. Of course the first 10% goes to tithing.  Keeping the purpose of purchases for need instead of want.

Save for the big things

There are many things that need to be saved for and even have loans.  That’s life. But knowing this and preparing for it by not wasting your money will help avoid anxiety and arguments.

Second Hand

I love my second hand stores and I’m not ashamed to admit it! The cost savings here is amazing and you can find some amazing treasures.  Clothes, books, furniture the list goes on.

Eat at Home/Pack Lunches

Eating out is expensive and most of the time isn’t really good for you.  Save a trip to a restaurant as a special treat not a go-to.  When you travel, pack picnic meals.

Kick The Starbucks Habit

Any drink at Starbucks can be made at home and without the loads of sugar.  You can gain back alot of money not stopping at Starbucks.

Buy In Season or Bulk

I preach this one all the time.  If you don’t can, then freeze.  Canning however is a skill well worth learning and can save you lots of money.

Cut The Cabel

You don’t need Cabel anymore with services like Netflix and Hulu.  But also if you pull away from filling your time with TV and such you’ll find yourself filling your time being more active instead of watching more TV.

Grow a Garden

Start small and start to enjoy your own fresh produce.

These are just a few ideas to trim your expenses.  Living simple.

Until next time,

Mrs. Kay L Rice

Winter is Coming… Preparing your Pantry

The purpose of home canning and meal prepping is to prepare for times when fruits and vegetables and meats are not as abundant naturally.  When an item is in season, it is more abundant and less expensive, this is the time to prepare for winter, especially when you live in the northern and Midwest areas.  Winter can be harsh.  We believe in canning what is in season, naturally, to help with budget costs, health benefits and being more ‘God sufficient’ than man sufficient.  The other side point to preparing and budgeting your food storage is to better understand what a REAL portion of food is.  America has gotten really bad at ‘super sizing’ and over convenience everything.  We’ve gotten into the mindset of “getting our money’s worth” instead of planning and looking at what our body needs.  The sugar and preservative addictions are just as bad as the “bad addictions”.  Look at the rise of obesity, health issues, enabling etc.  If we are stressed, we head strait for the candy jar, if a child is crying we hand them a sweet treat.  I could go on and on about this subject, because I myself suffer from stress eating and weight issues.  I come from a long line of Southern Cooks.  I love my butter, gravy and I melt with Shrimp and Grits.  Which is all fine, IN MODERATION.

But, back to preparing your pantry.  Each year it is essential to take stock of what your family will need for the upcoming year until the next season arrives with more goodies.  Also knowing crop rotation years help too.  One year may be a great corn year, the next nothing.

Now the big thing I want you to really take notice of is the PORTION of each item.  If we ate this way, I’m willing to bet, the weight loss programs out there would loose a lot of money and we would have more in our savings!

The Canner’s Pantry Planner:
Food Times/Week Serving Jars/Person Jars/Family(4)
Meats, Poultry, Fish 4x week, 36 weeks 1/2 cup 36 Pints 144 Pints
Soups 2x week, 36 weeks 1 cup 18 quarts 72 quarts
Jams, Jellies, Preserves 6x week, 52 weeks 2 tablespoons 40 1/2 pints 160 1/2 pints
Relishes 3x week, 52 weeks 1 tablespoon 5 pints 20 pints
Greens, carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash 4x week, 36 weeks 1/2 cup 18 quarts 72 quarts
Pickled vegetables 2x week, 52 weeks 2 1/2 tablespoons 13 pints 52 pints
Juices and Tomatoes 7x week, 36 weeks 1 cup 63 quarts 252 quarts
All Other Fruits and Vegetables 14x week, 36 weeks 1/2 cup 76 quarts 304 quarts
Pickled Fruits, Pickled Eggs 2x week, 52 weeks 2 1/2 tablespoons/ 1 egg 13 quarts 52 quarts

Did you slightly freak out over the portions? Puts things into perspective doesn’t it? Here is the thing I have discovered, when you utilize the mentality of using what you have on hand, you waste less, you eat less, and you have that pride of providing. It’s amazing how the world’s perspectives dissolve when you start living like this.

There are other items to consider as well, the meat covers what you should have in your freezer as well as canning, but there are dry goods to consider:  Flour, Sugar, Baking Soda/powder, yeast, dried beans, rice, powders.  Then your wet goods such as honey, syrups, molasses.  Also your perishables, eggs & milk.  There is also cellar storage to consider, potatoes, sweet potatoes, hard squash, apples.  But all in all the portions stay the same.  Now my favorite:  Cheeses.  I love real cheese, love it!  But a portion is only 2 ounces.  That’s the size of 2 dice.

I credit the knowledge of this from my Grandma Inez and my go to book “The Encyclopedia of Country Living” by Carla Emery.

So learn to enjoy and appreciate what you have and you will find that your body and your savings will thank you!

Enjoy and let me know of your thoughts.

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay L. Rice

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Canning Basics

With the gardens being in full swing now that we reach the beginning of August, it is a very, very busy place here in the Rice household.  Nothing and I do mean NOTHING goes to waste.  God is truly blessing us this year with a bounty of fruits, berries and vegetables!

I have been receiving a lot of questions about times and what can be water bath canned and what has to be pressure canned.  So, I decided to lay it out simply here.  My two tried and true resources are my Grandma and Mom of course and my absolutely favorite resource book.  The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery.  When my husband and I first started to become close, we discovered we had the exact same book.  We truly are two peas in a pod.  But anyway, here are the outlines for Canning.

Water Bath Canning (think fruits and pickles) The times and sizes are for after reaching a full boil in your canner.

  • Apples  Pints 20 min.  Quarts 20 min.
  • Applesauce  Pints 20 min. Quarts 20 min.
  • Apricots   Pints 25 min.  Quarts 30 min.
  • Berries    Pints 15 min.    Quarts 20 min.
  • Cherries (pitted)  Pints 25 min.  Quarts 25 min.
  • Cranberries    Pints 15 min.   Quarts 15 min.
  • Currants         Pints 15 min.   Quarts 15 min.
  • Figs                  Pints 45 min.   Quarts 50 Min.
  • Fruit Juices    Pints 5 min.       Quarts 10 min.
  • Peaches          Pints 25 min.     Quarts 30 min.
  • Pears             Pints 25 min.     Quarts 30 min.
  • Plums            Pints 10 min.      Quarts 10 min.
  • Preserves      Pints 20 min.       Quarts 20 min.
  • Rhubarb        Pints  10 min.       Quarts 10 min.
  • Strawberries  Pints 15 min .       Quarts 15 min.  (Better frozen)
  • Tomatoes (yes tomatoes are a fruit) (you must add citric acid or lemon juice! To water bath tomatoes!!!!! More to come) Pints 35 min.   Quarts 45 min.
  • Tomato Juice Pints 35 min.      Quarts 40 Minutes.

These are the times for Ohio, if you live in a higher altitude location it can range from 5 – 15 minutes additional.  Check your local agriculture site.

Now comes the fun one!  PRESSURE CANNING.

Please learn how to use a Pressure Canner and maintenance and check it well before you use.  They can be dangerous.  You will be canning at 11 lbs of pressure but you want to check for the altitude adjustments for you area.The vegetables listed here are for NON PICKLED.  Canning pickles is another category for another time.

  • Meats        Pints 75 min        Quarts 90 min
  • Fish            Pints 100 min      Quarts 100 min
  • Asparagus Pints 30 min        Quarts 40 min
  • Beans (snap, wax, green, yellow, purple) Pints 20 min  Quarts 25 min
  • Beans, Lima   Pints 40 min     Quarts 50 minutes
  • Beets             Pints 30 min      Quarts 35 minutes
  • Broccoli        Pints 25 min      Quarts 40 min (better frozen)
  • Brussels Sprouts  Pints 45 min  Quarts 55 min (better frozen)
  • Cabbage         Pints 45 min    Quarts   55 min
  • Carrots        Pints 25 min         Quarts 30 min
  • Cauliflower   Pints 25 min        Quarts 40 min
  • Corn             Pints   55 min.         Quarts 85 min
  • Greens          Pints 70 min           Quarts 90 min
  • Hominy        Pints 60 min           Quarts 70 min
  • Mushrooms   Pints 45 min        QUARTS NO NO NO!
  • Okra             Pints 25 min            Quarts 40 min (Better frozen)
  • Onions         Pints 40 min              Quarts 40 min
  • Parsnips      Pints 20 min            Quarts 25 min
  • Peas              Pints 40 min            Quarts 40 min  (much better frozen)
  • Peppers, green  Pints 35 min     Quarts 35 min
  • Peppers, hot     Pints 35 min        Quarts 35 min
  • Potatoes NO NO NO NO NO NO NO
  • Pumpkin (in chunks not pureed)  Pints 55 min  Quarts 90 min.
  • Rutabagas    Pints 35 min         Quarts  35 min.
  • Squash, winter (in chunks not pureed)  Pints 55 min   Quarts 90 minutes.
  • Turnips      Pints 20 min.            Quarts 25 min.

So those are the times for the sizes of what I do most.  If you have any questions please feel free to send me an email and I will get back to you.

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay L. Rice

 

 

Budgeting 101: An Honorable Responsibility

All members of a household hold a responsibility to be financially reliable.  But for a wife, it is crucial. One of my very favorite scriptures is Proverbs 31:10-31 and it lays it out very clear on what we are to do as the woman of the household.

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Proverbs 31:10-31New International Version (NIV)
Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character
10 [a]A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

What does this have to do with budgeting?  Well, it pretty much puts it right there in black and white, we are to manage our households.  Not by wasting, being lazy, nagging, passing blame or wasting away funds on frivolous things, or adorning ourselves in the latest of fashions.

This is a pretty big responsibility over all, if you think about it.  The world tells us all these pretty little lies to get us to spend when in reality, we are to be mindful and manage wisely.  Our beauty comes from within and from honest work and care and wisdom.

Here are some things to be aware of and put into practice:

  • Think first, never impulsively.  Is the item a Want or is it a Need?
  • If it is a need, what is the priority?  Be honest, talk about it with your spouse or accountability partner.
  • Save that change.  I use an old coffee can that I throw my pennies and change in, it does add up!  (Plus I use it for weekly egg money to pick up our fresh eggs.)
  • Plan your meals!!!!  It really doesn’t take long, meal prepping will become a habit in no time.
    • Plan at least 2 weeks in advance work your way up to a month at a time.
    • Cut down on quick runs to the grocery store.
    • Meal Prep
  • Buy in bulk in season and learn to freeze, can and dry food.
  • USE COUPONS!  Now days it’s fairly easy to use apps on your phones.  My favorite is ibotta!
    • Go to https://ibotta.com/
    • Download the app for your phone.
    • Feel free to use my referral code: phjhroe
    • Earn cash that you can put in your account from coupons, and shopping you have to do.
  • Resale!  Whether buying or downsizing!  Use the MarketPlace app on Facebook or go to your local resale shop!
  • Plan a No Spend Month!  I will be writing more on this in the future.
  • Choose to fix meals at home instead of eating at restaurants or fast food.  Your body and your wallet will thank you!
  • You don’t need a gym!!! Find activities that keep you active that you enjoy! Walk, bike, fish, garden… you get the idea.
  • Buy Local and find your local farmer’s markets.  You are helping them, they are helping you.
  • Use your talents to bring in extra money.  I love etsy.com!  Do you cook? Crochet? Knit? Sew? Write? Garden?
  • Cut the cable cord!  There are many ways you can spend your time without the TV, but if you do need it, antennas and internet can fill that void.  In the meantime, enjoy a board game with your spouse and or kids.
  • Make it a goal to be “God Sufficient”.  Meaning, don’t put the priorities of the world before the priorities of the Lord.
  • Most of all, pass these down to your children and your children’s children.  Give them the wisdom of how to budget and be responsible to avoid the pitfalls of being foolish.

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay L. Rice

 

Tears…

Blessed-are-those-that-mourn-by-StudioJRU

I’m going to get very real and raw this evening.  I am going to open up and share the tears behind my smiles, the ones that I work so hard to hide.

My greatest joy(s) have been the only that brought me heart wrenching sorrows.    On January 1, 2016, my greatest heartbreak happened, my first born son committed suicide.  He would have been 30.

For all that I have been through in my life, nothing has devastated me as much as that phone call telling my that my son was found dead.  No parent should ever get that call.  No parent should ever have to bury their child.  I remember feeling so numb and even after over a year it still feels like it isn’t real.  But it is.  I cry a lot.

Without getting into deep personal details, I will say that the only thing that saved me from darkness was faith.  I know my son is in God’s loving arms and that is what gives me comfort.  I know in my heart he is not suffering anymore.

I’ve heard others say they become angry at God when a child is taken away, whether from illness, crime or accident.  I suppose I was too.  But if anything it drew me closer to God.  My faith has grown stronger from all of this.  But more than anything it has created a desire, so strong, to help others that I can’t ignore it.  To let others know that they are not alone.  God is with us always, he is a very loving Father and he cries with us when we hurt and bad things happen.   It’s also helped me to understand that this living world is not our final home and I know I will see my son again, someday.  But in the meantime, I need to be an instrument of change in this world, there is so much to do.

It really doesn’t take much to change someone’s day, week, month, year, maybe their life.  Maybe that sandwich you give to a homeless person on the street gave them the energy to get to a place where they can heal and get help to help someone else.  Maybe, that smile and happy greeting you give someone at work prevented them from ending their life.  Maybe, just maybe, that hug you gave a child, helped them see hope in their dark world.  You don’t know until you begin to do God’s work by just being you.

And you know what, when you start doing things for others, your own clouds disappear. You heal.  Your heart may always feel “broken” but the funny thing is that we are continuously filled when we have cracks, because we always have more room to be filled up with better things.

I see my son in the eyes of others.  I never want them to feel alone, because they aren’t.

Just something to think of in today’s busy world.

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay L. Rice