Mountain Mama (Season II)

  • Remember how hard it was for me to leave the mountains–how I pined over the beauty and clung to my little trailer like the security blanket that it was? No? Well, to be honest, I really can’t remember what I blogged back about a year ago, and I don’t feel like looking it up. Anyway, as it turned out, it was equally as hard for me (harder) to leave Missouri. And no, I have yet to miss the humidity, the mold, the fleas, the ticks, the definite possibility of snakes… I do, however, truly miss the people. I also miss the twelve acres of paradise (tick ridden paradise, but still paradise) we had found ourselves living on. But I’m back here, now…and in a beautiful house that I’ll blog more about later. Stay tuned for many pictures of snow.

 

  • For those of you who follow the Torah Cycle, we’ve passed Simchat Torah, and I’ve just posted the children’s lesson plan for the year’s second Torah Portion. Click the Torah Portions link at the top of the page; it will take you here. I’ve included ideas for children’s ministry administration, just in case anyone might be looking for ideas for their new congregation or home fellowship. It’s the format I’ll follow if I can ever get people to come to my house. Sigh.

 

  • Did you all have a happy Sukkot? Do you celebrate Sukkot? The kids and I made a [purely decorative] sukkah in our yard (out of scrap wood, twine, and branches). Our second try actually stayed standing (for three days). We also had a more practical sukkah on our porch, but it was a very cold week and we spent most of our time inside. We spent that time singing carols, making edible sukkahs, talking about the birth of Yeshua, talking about the second coming of Yeshua, and eating just a little too much (I think I gained ten pounds which I now have to lose so that I can gain them again during Hanukkah).

 

  • My fabulous illustrator is working on a project that I’m super thrilled about. Oh, OK, I’ll tell you. It’s a children’s book based on the ideas in this post. I’m working on a little promo video, and I really could use your help. All I need is your beautiful face! If you’d be willing to pose by your children (or not, if they’re not interested) and hold a sign, then please have someone standing near to snap the shot. On the sign, I need the word/phrase that answers this question: What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of having the “sex talk” with your kids? E-mail me the photo, and I’ll e-mail you back a giant hug!

 

  • That’s it for now. It felt weird leaving this little scrapbook hanging without an official ending. More soon.

 

 

 

 

My Father’s Daughter

This is the short story of four orphaned boys. Their lineages vary from unimportant to scandalous, but at early ages they were all adopted by loving and affluent families. The way these boys responded to their adoptions is the reason I’m telling their story. This is not a true story, mind you…or is it? I’ll let you decide for yourself.

The first boy fell in love with his parents from his very first glance of them. He was excited to meet his new brothers and sisters and to find his place in the family. He wore his new name like a crown upon his head, and he spent rainy afternoons doodling his name in a notebook. He’d never owned anything of value before, and his new name was a thing of beauty that no one could take away. More than the riches of the household, he valued his home and family. He would never be an orphan again.

He’d had the same diet and done the same chores for his eleven years in the orphanage. His family’s rules were different to him, but he dedicated himself to knowing and doing those things that would please his parents. He loved his brothers and sisters, and he was careful to be generous, loving, and grateful, but it was his parents he endeavored to please. Within a few short months he had found his place. He no longer referred to himself as “adopted,” though his history left him with a gratitude that his siblings couldn’t quite understand. He was simply his father’s son, now. His adoption had been a success.

The second boy’s reaction was different. Of course he was grateful for his adoption, and he expressed that gratitude often. He did not think himself worthy of full adoption, however. He did not accept his new name. He tip-toed around his new siblings, always afraid of what they might think. Did they think he was overstepping? Was he trying to be more than his birth would allow? He did his chores dutifully; he participated in family activities, and he tried to be very good. But until the day he died he never stopped referring to himself as his father’s adopted son.

The third boy’s reaction was similar to the second’s. He also felt unworthy of his adoption and of his new family’s name. He was inwardly jealous of his siblings because he thought they were loved more than he was. Though his parents accepted him unconditionally, he maintained an attitude of second-class. He wore a badge of poverty in the wealthiest of households, and he refused to eat at the same table or to participate in family activities that seemed to be traditions unique to his family. He thought he was acting humbly as he maintained his orphan identity. He wanted sincerely to please his parents and siblings, but he often felt far from them. He insisted on the chores and diet that he’d grown accustomed to in the orphanage. He lived his whole life as an orphan, though he was offered his father’s house.

The last boy’s reaction may shock you; it seems unlikely, though I’ve seen it happen. He entered his new home with excitement, but in that excitement he quickly usurped the place of his parents’ natural born children. He demanded the best room in the house. He gave little thought to the chores or rules that guided his siblings’ lives. He’d heard that one cannot disown an adopted child like they can a natural born; his parents had promised to love him forever, and he felt confident in their promise. That confidence did not produce a heart of service, however, but an attitude of entitlement. He felt as much right, more right, to the family name as the children who had been born in the house. He felt strongly that his adoption also afforded him special privileges. “Freedom” was the banner he carried; he was free from his family’s archaic ideas. He served his parents as he pleased, and he enjoyed the unconditional wealth of his father.

If you’ve been adopted into the family of God, you may see yourself in these boys’ stories. I see my past in the third and fourth. I grew up as an adopted orphan. I would never just be “His child”. The rules and discipline for me were different; I was adopted, not a real child. That lie alone left me outside when I so desperately wanted to be included, but I also enjoyed what I thought of as “freedom.” I was free from the rules of His house, though that freedom left me wanting.

Today, I see myself in the first boy’s reaction. I am my Father’s child. My Father’s rules apply to me because He’s given me His name. I doodle my name on paper. I wear my name like a crown. There is no difference between me and the children who were born in His house. There is no difference in our rules. There is no difference in our food. There is no difference in our traditions. I do not serve Him to earn His love; I serve Him because He loves me. I’m not His adopted child; I’m Sarah of the family of Israel. I will walk as Israel walks. Everything He has is mine, and I will inherit what Israel inherits. If your adoption has been different than this, it’s not too late to change your mind.

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Ephesians 2:11-13 (KJV)

Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

Ready-to-Use Torah Portion Lessons (from the beginning)!

My kids and I love reading through the Torah Portion each week; it’s our favorite part of the school day. If the term “Torah Portion” is unfamiliar to you, a better explanation might be “Portions of the Pentateuch”. The Torah (the first five books of the Bible) are divided into fifty-four sections that are to be read throughout the year. The new cycle begins immediately after the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot). Starting with the new Torah cycle, we’ll be sharing our lessons with you! We’d we honored if you would use these simple lessons in your congregations and in your homes. Hard work and many hours will go into making the lessons accessible, and your one-time or monthly donations will be very much appreciated.

Each new week’s Torah lesson will be posted shortly after the close of Shabbat. They’ll be available through the “Torah Portions” link at the top of this page. Take a sneak-peek at the first lesson below! If you plan to read through the Torah alongside us, please e-mail me and let me know. We’d love  a headcount before we get started, and we may organize an online group for sharing additional resources and ideas. See you after Sukkot!

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Portion 1

Administration

 

 

I Heard an Old, Old Story

I feel like telling a story. I would make one up, but there’s this old one that’s my very favorite. Every time I hear it, each time I tell it, I’m struck by something new. You’ve probably heard it before, but you might like hearing it again.

Once upon a time there was a man. He was a wanderer, and he had no children. He did have a beautiful wife and many faithful servants, but he longed for children of his own. Maybe he longed for children more than any man has ever longed for children. He longed so, because He followed God. And when you closely follow God, He will soften and mold your will until you yearn precisely for the things that He intends to give you. And God did intend to give this man children; He intended to give this man an entire nation of children.

Though He ended up giving him two nations.

One night in the dark God talked with this man–consoled is more like it. Out of obedience to his God, this man had just rejected the fortune of a king–a fortune he’d very much earned. This man had taken a small army of three hundred men and with it defeated four kings of five nations. He’d come back with their spoil and had tithed of it to God; then God asked him to give it all up. He gave up the wealth of five nations! Some people say that all God required of this man was faith, and I guess that’s true; but I’ve never walked out my faith like that. So under a blanket of stars God promised this man land…land that He would give him. He promised this man protection. He promised this man great reward, and He promised this man many children.

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We call this man Father Abraham.

That night under the stars, God and Abraham made a deal. In God’s world, the word is “covenant”. When a covenant is made in blood, as this one was [Genesis 15], death is required of the one who breaks it. If this had been a typical covenant, one a man would make with another man, it would have gone something like this:

“I promise to give you everything I own so long as you are loyal to me. Do you agree to pledge yourself to me in the way I have defined it for you?”

“I agree.”

Then both men would walk through the blood of a freshly sacrificed animal. With each step they took, they were declaring, “I swear on my life.”

But this is not what happened in the dark that night in the covenant God made with Abraham. When it was time to walk through the blood, God passed through as fire and smoke. God walked through as fire. God walked through as smoke. Abraham was never required to place his feet in the blood, because God had walked through for them both.

If you are familiar with the old, old story of God dying on behalf of mankind, you may have read that last line and sighed a long, deep breath exhaling with the word, “Messiah“.

The covenant God made with Abraham was not made with Abraham only. God also made these same promises to Abraham’s generations. So the covenant passed to Isaac, and then from Isaac it passed to Jacob. Jacob is a favorite character of mine–so wonderfully and beautifully flawed. In “Little Children. Big God.” I wrote the following passage about Jacob:

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Jacob’s twelve sons from four mothers made one heck of a dysfunctional family, but their calling was larger than life. God delights in choosing the unworthy, that way we can clearly see Him. And so we know the twelve sons of Jacob by a much more glorious title: They’re the twelve tribes of Israel.

The tribes of Israel’s family flourished and grew while they were enslaved in Egypt. God had sent them to Egypt to keep them alive; when it was time for them to leave, not even Pharoah himself could stop them. Once rescued, God reminded His people of a different way to live. They had been living in Egypt as slaves. Now they would live as free men. Beginning in Exodus chapter twenty, God begins to explain this freed life. These instructions are called God’s Torah. Someone has told you that the Torah is bondage, but that’s not what the Almighty says.

Exodus 19:5 KJV Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:

The nation of Israel continued to grow and to learn; they eventually entered the land God had promised to their Grandfather Abraham all those years before. They would not stay, however. Disobedience would lead to the exile of the ten northern tribes of Israel. Eventually Judah (along with Benjamin) would be exiled as well, though their sentence would not be as long. Just as God had warned He would, He scattered His people throughout all the world. Still, He wanted His people back.

Jeremiah 3:12 KJV Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, ‘Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the Lord; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the Lord, and I will not keep anger for ever.’

 

To be continued…

Rocking the Christmas Tree

I don’t expect this post to go viral. I know it will ruffle some feathers…maybe even evoke a few tears among relatives who might feel I’m stealing from them or from our history. Still, the carved pumpkin display in front of Kroger today kinda forced my hand in this matter. It’s time to tell y’all the truth—to fess up. I’m not writing this post to persuade you of anything. This is simply an explanation of me and my life and choices.

And no, this post isn’t about Halloween. I never celebrated Halloween, so it’s not something I lost with “my new religion.” I know not celebrating/celebrating Halloween is controversial in itself, and I do understand the potential for community outreach at that time. It would be a loss to miss any opportunity to win souls. As a teen I attached a homemade tract to only the best bars of candy. I still buy candy in case the kids swarm my door; I’m not about to turn a child away. Even still, this post is not about Halloween. This is a much…a much touchier subject than that.

Last year in late December, I took my youngest daughter on a date to the dollar store. Wait, let me back up a bit. Last year in early December, I took all of my children to the dollar store. They wandered through the tiny aisles while I stuffed pre-planned items into my basket. When we got to the register, I distracted the kids with quarters which they merrily plunked into the gumball machine that dispenses plastic hands. I felt like a big spender that day.

I had five of most things. Of the pinker things I’d grabbed three, and of the bluer things I had two. “Are you filling Christmas boxes?” the checker asked cheerfully. The toothbrushes made that a logical question.

“Not today,” I told her. “Just Hanukkah shopping for my kids.”

Five kids. Eight nights. Less than forty dollars.

There was silence for just a few seconds as she continued to scan my finds. I worried she’d stay quiet forever. I don’t mind silence unless it’s loud. “I’ve been thinking about how Christmas is nowhere to be found in the Bible,” she blurted as if we’d been carrying on a telepathic conversation that suddenly burst into song.

“You’re right! It isn’t!” I said a little too enthusiastically. “But Hanukkah is (that’s the Feast of Dedication),” I added with a grin. She smiled back, then she looked down. Her face quickly processed a hundred expressions, and I watched the wheels in her head spin around. I imagined what she was thinking; perhaps she knew He was Jewish but hadn’t thought of the implications. Then, “You’re right!” she said.

Fast forward to late December. Hanukkah was over, and it was the day before Christmas Eve. On the way to the store I had warned my daughter, “Now, people are going to wish you a ‘Merry Christmas’. You respond however you’d like, but at least say ‘thank you’ and smile.”

The man behind the register was tall and young. Somewhere around twenty-five. He flashed a big smile at Miss C. His eyes twinkled with holiday cheer as he leaned his forearm on the counter. “Are you excited for Santa?” he asked her. She froze with an expression that looked like someone had licked her face, and she stared at me in horror because I hadn’t prepared her for that. “We don’t do…” I started. And “Oh, I’m sorry!” he caught on. We both smiled pleasantly at each other. Nothing could have prepared me for what happened next, however, because then (without even the hint of an inaudible conversation) he said, “What winter holiday do you honor?”

“Hanukkah, we like Hanukkah,” I answered. Then, with an exaggerated frown to Miss C, I said, “But it’s over now, isn’t it?” She returned a sillier frown.

Keep in light. Keep it loose. Keep it happy! That’s my motto when it comes to confrontation.

As he continued to scan my purchases (I do a lot of shopping at the dollar store), I stood and wondered why on earth he would assume that we don’t celebrate Christmas simply because we don’t “do” Santa at our house. I grew up keeping Christmas, and there was never a Santa to be seen. There were no elves on our shelves. “Since when are Santa and Christmas inseparable?” I thought. But seeing he was a good ten years younger than me, I figured that he would know. I just stood puzzled until he began to speak again.

“My girlfriend’s family is Jewish,” he said.

That’s when I braced for the worst. I assumed it was an anti-semitic lead-in like, “My best friend is black; so I can insult black people whenever I want.” What he did say was even odder.

“We have kids,” he said (Can I admit I found that a little ironic?). “When she first got pregnant, we were talking about the holidays: they celebrate Hanukkah, and we celebrate Christmas. I told her, ‘Your family can do whatever they want, but our kids are going to be Christians!’ ”

I wore a wide-eyed kind of stunned smile. His exuberance was humorous, and it clearly wasn’t meant as an attack. Worried it might have seemed like an attack, he quickly added with even more spark and passion, “But I believe that we should honor everyone’s beliefs!”

I smiled again.

On the way to the car I kept kicking myself, and I apologized to my daughter. “I’m a Christian. I’m a Christian! Why didn’t I tell him that I AM a Christian?”

She patted me on the back, because she’d heard me say that before. “It’s OK, Mom. It’s OK,” she said. The hardest part of this journey to The Old Ways has been the reaction from fellow believers. I’ve been accused of denying the One most precious to me—and this accusation has not come merely from dollar store checkers.

 

Jeremiah 16:19 (KJV), says:

O Lord, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, ‘Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit.’

 

This is how I’ve spent the past two years: Is it in the Bible? That’s what I want to know. ‘Cause the truth is, we’ve added a lot of things to the religion our New Testament apostles lived, and more isn’t always better. In the adding, we’ve lost some precious things that would connect us to our roots. It’s those roots I want to find because I just want to know my Savior. I want to know the road He walked down day-by-day, and, where possible, I want to walk that road now. He’s the only One to have ever lived who has fully preached the Torah. That’s pleroo, the Greek word we translate, “fulfill.” So, I want to eat what He ate, serve like He served, love like He loved, teach what He taught, and celebrate the days He celebrated. Where’s the crime in that?

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Will I fail? I know I will fail! That’s why He had to die. But in my trying to honor His ways, it’s my brothers and sisters whom I have made unhappy. I haven’t denied our Savior because I’ve traded Christmas for the day He gave me: Sukkot (Tabernacles). I certainly haven’t forgotten His death because I’ve traded Easter for the Feast He fulfilled: Passover!

Stories of red, red blood and hearts made white are sweetly told through candy canes. But stories of a tabernacle for a king in the wilderness, a baby king born to tabernacle with the world, and our soon-coming thousand year tabernacle in the heavenly kingdom He’s prepared are so, so much sweeter than that. They’re sweeter because He wrote them. Gospel candy canes and new-birth Christmas trees: He didn’t make that up; WE made that up. That makes it a “doctrine of men.”

It’s in my nature to apologize, and I am sorry for causing offense. I don’t mean to step on toes, and I’m sorry for any walls that my beliefs seem at times to build between us. I hope this post tears those walls right down. I know you’re not upset about the missing Christmas presents from me…I could never afford many, anyway. If you’re upset because you cannot buy for me: you can buy for me whenever you’d like! I’ll still do the same for you. Why should any day dictate generosity? But I think it’s not about the presents. I think it’s not about the tree or the food or the songs… I think it’s about the feeling of being judged, by me or by others, for the way you are choosing to honor your Savior. So as much as I can, I want to put that to rest: I am not the judge.

 

Sugar-free, Gluten-free, Pain-free (I hope)

It’s morning. It’s raining outside and my room is still dark, but I know it’s morning because I’m awake. I never wake before seven without a reason, and often it’s much later than that. My children are still sleeping, too; so is the little dog. I see the clock blinking haughtily at me– pretending it knows the time. We both know it’s full of it. I toy with the idea of going back to sleep, but the big dog comes to get me and I realize we both have the same problem. I let her outside, and then I run to the nearest bathroom.

Run might be an understatement, though I have the ability to run. When the little dog chases a chicken, or I hear a blood curdling scream from one of my quieter children…then, I will run. If I need to move quickly, or I get upset, or I face unwanted confrontation, or I need to perform a mundane task that, heaven forbid, involves leaving the house, my body will take every ounce of energy (the energy I was saving for the next couple of days) and haphazardly dump it into my blood stream. It does this without my permission. My heart races from the uncomfortable surge of adrenaline; all at once I have the strength of ten infirmed and very elderly men.

After one of these rushes happens, I am left completely drained. The strength of the rush determines the strength of the crash. A light crash leaves me shaky and tired (but too shaky and tired to sleep). A serious crash feels like the flu, and it might last a couple of days.

This is what life is like. I don’t usually talk about it, ‘cause it’s hard to sound sick without sounding depressed. And I am not, in fact, depressed.

Still, I wake with bone pain from my toes to my neck. “Bone tired”? That’s how I wake up. I often also wake with the sneaking suspicion that I am a sleep-marathon-runner. I have the sore muscles to prove it, but I’m lacking the fabulously toned bod that one might expect of a late-night, all-night runner.

I wander into the kitchen to make the coffee I know I shouldn’t drink, and then I settle into my favorite chair to read or to study or to spend a few minutes dorking around on Facebook. When the children emerge from the hallway, I get up to make an egg cake, some gluten free carrot pancakes, or some eggs and turkey bacon. If you’ve been coming here for a while now, you know I’d rather be making bean bag-sized cinnamon rolls with gobs of sugary frosting. But that’s no more, at least not until we figure some things out.

My youngest daughter has had a few migraines. I suffered with migraines for years. While seeing doctor after doctor and receiving [negative] test after [negative] test, it turns out that what they did do (drugs) only exacerbated the problem down the line. I was finally set free from this drug addiction by a wise neurologist who (while he couldn’t diagnose the underlying pain) informed me, very bluntly, that I was slowly killing myself with drugs.

My daughter also has the same severe growing pains that I had when I was her age. Right now I cannot help but think that my issues, and hers, stem from an undiagnosed gluten allergy. In my case, celiac plus candida induced adrenal fatigue explains every one of my symptoms. And I know, gluten allergies are so trendy. Trust me, I’d rather have something obscure…something they could name after me. Still, gluten is my primary target of suspicion at the moment. Since the celiac tests are often inconclusive, we’re simply removing it from our diet and waiting and watching what happens. So far, so good. There’s no change in me, but Miss C’s leg pain has completely subsided, and she hasn’t had a headache all week. I’ve been gluten free (again) for a couple of months, now. After quite a bit of wrestling with God, I consented to adding gluten to my year-long sugar fast. This will be my third attempt at shunning the gluten. This time I promise I’m serious.

Since in Missouri, I’ve had the privilege of sitting down and talking with so many different people…hearing their stories and marveling over both our similarities and our differences. Sometimes it’s in the talking things out that we realize we already know what’s what. My pediatrician over-prescribed antibiotics, and that set me off on a road I haven’t recovered from, yet (candidiasis). That’s usually my lead-in when I’m recounting my medical history. It takes a long, long time to make up for years of antibiotics, especially if you were raised before Google and your parents were at the mercy of the “professionals” (and then you spent years as a raging bread addict). And, of course, those professionals were at the mercy of their teachers. No one could research like we can, today. With all the misinformation out there, I am still incredibly grateful for our ability to study online—to connect with people, to read their stories. I have nothing against physicians as a profession. Godly men in doctors’ coats have saved my life on two separate occasions. Medical science has been my worst enemy in more insidious ways, however. And so food, as much as is possible, will be my medicine now. He created it to be just that.

In a conversation this spring, I talked with a dear friend as she sat doubled-over my kitchen table. I’d accidentally “glutened” her with a contaminated corn chip; she knew how badly I felt, so she tried to act like she wasn’t hurting. I asked her about her life with celiac, and I asked her if she thought celiac was a “new” illness due to GMOs and such. That’s when she shocked me. “My mother died from celiac,” she said. I wanted to cry as she told me the story of her tragically misdiagnosed mother who spent years being treated for acute depression when she was simply allergic to a tiny protein found in wheat and a few other grains. Her grandfather drank; he used alcohol to numb his severe leg pain.

It wasn’t until my friend was grown (and had grown children) that she was diagnosed with the illness she’d suffered from her entire life (and the skilled doctors were able to work backward through time to diagnose both her mother and grandfather). Her adult son was also diagnosed. Every word she said felt like both hopeful confirmation and an attack on my entire identity. I’m the pizza lady! Could I actually become the gluten-free pizza lady?

Only time will tell.

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Lots of homemade Kombucha. I think this batch was mango flavored. 🙂

For now, this is the path I’m walking. And I’ve decided to blog about it because I know I’m not the only one walking it. I’ve been fermenting and kombucha-ing, and gardening, and egg “farming”. I’m hoping to raise a little barn at our new place and get some milking goats as quickly as possible. In the living of it, I haven’t had much time or energy for the blogging of it. But I will try. I want to be the mother my children deserve–and someone who is around for the long-haul. Even if that means no more donuts.

The Vodka I Didn’t Drink

Last week I posted this picture to Facebook. Do you follow us on Facebook?

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The shot was meant to feature our new dog (and her fabulous kissy face). We call her Maxine (Max for short). I say we call her “Max” ’cause that’s not officially her name…yet. The eight year old beauty shares a name with one of my daughters, actually. And while my daughter thought that was so cool, her mother felt differently about it. So, we call her “Max”. She’s beginning to answer to it. She comes, sits, stays, protects…Max is the new love of our lives. She’s good around chickens and has a ferocious bark (which is what I was looking for).

When I saw that the picture featured something else, too, I posted to Facebook that I needed a bottle of vodka (and that the reason could be spotted in the picture). Do you see what I saw? Right behind Mr. P’s head?

The plant behind his head was actually the shortest of the stevia plants. Yep, the day I had been waiting for had come. The stevia was ready to harvest!

I realize that this wonderment produced by ample stevia may not be something you can all relate to. I am, however, two full months into a one-year, no sugar healing plan. Stevia is the only sweetener I can have, and I have to turn my nose up at all of the so-called stevia in my grocery store. So I’ve really been looking forward to this.

I picked, washed, and dried a large batch of stevia leaves, and then I headed to Wal Mart for groceries and vodka.

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The check-out line is where things got interesting.

We had a cart-full, like we always do. The kids love to unload the cart, and I love to not have to unload it. Miss S grabbed the decent sized bottle of medium quality vodka and plunked it down on the belt beside a loaf of gluten free sandwich bread and a large tub of organic spinach. That’s when the wrist to neck tattoo behind the register looked straight into my eyes and said bluntly, “I cannot sell you that.”

Now, y’all know that grocery shopping with kids is not exactly a walk in the park. I had reached the finish line, and I was just eagerly begging  to cross it. I searched for the little sign informing me that my line was not the line for liquor. I looked at the fully loaded belt before me and wondered just how badly I needed that stevia. The checker saw my confusion and reached his hand for the bottle. “He has a solution in mind!” I thought. I always assume the best, y’all. But when he began to explain my predicament to me, the scene went a little something like this:

“Ma’am,” he said with a glint of power in his communist eyes, “a minor put that bottle on the belt, and I have the right to refuse to sell it to you.”

In my head I thought, “AAAHHHHH!”

Out-loud I said, “A minor? Do you mean my nine year old daughter who was helping unload our groceries?”

“Yes,” he said. “She handled the bottle. I have the right to refuse to sell it to you.”

In my head I thought, “What?!” And I looked at him through squinted eyes that feigned a willingness for confrontation.

Out-loud I muttered, with just enough confidence to impress my watching children, “Well, then can you please change your mind?”

“I can call my manager and let you speak to them, but they usually agree with me, ” he said with the worst kind of self-assurance.

In my head I thought, “Oh, some stuff is gonna hit the fan.”

Out-loud I said, “Yes, would you please call your manager.”

And at the end of the day, I made this:

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Fill the jar with dried stevia, cover in vodka for 20-48 hours (somewhere in the middle is best, taste-wise). Strain out the leaves and reduce the extract over low heat for 30 minutes. Done!