Archive - May 2014

Strawberry Jamming
Protected: A High Standard on Serving Guests with Disabilities
Dangerous Love: A Mother’s Day Confession
Armed with Truth!

Strawberry Jamming

I love local food. I really love local pesticide-free food. Especially strawberries. This year we took the whole crew, including my visiting parents, out for some good ol’ strawberry picking fun. With my parents in tow this meant we had a one child to one adult ratio. I’m thinking that must be what Heaven is like.

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We picked 18 pounds of strawberries. We definitely enjoyed a few pounds washed and eaten straight out of the bowl. But we had enough discipline to make jam and bags of frozen strawberries with the remainder. First off here’s the method we used for freezing whole strawberries to save for juicing and smoothies. And now for the ultra-relaxed jam method:

Strawberry Freezer Jam/Strawberry Mint Freezer Jam

(I did two batches for a total of 16 c. strawberries)


8 cups washed and de-stemmed strawberries, 1 cup local raw honey -yes that’s it-

Six 10 ounce jelly jars with rings and tops (Freezer safe)


Wash and Remove stems from strawberries, I use a grapefruit spoon, so easy!

imagePut Strawberries into a pot or large bowl to mash. I just used the pan.


Once strawberries are mashed, put heat on medium high and bring to a boil. Add Honey.

imageimageimageStir, Stir and Stir frequently. Once it hits a boil lower the temp and simmer. Continue to stir periodically and watch.

Begin watching for thickness. I read lots of tips for how to do this but none really worked super well for me. My best tip is to feel the thickness with your wooden spoon when you stir. Hopefully that makes sense! I know… all the recipe followers are like “feel it? really Erica?” I’m not a good recipe writer. But I promise, you will feel the thickness change as you stir. This isn’t totally science. Your strawberries might be in a different mood than mine and take longer to thicken.

Once you’ve “felt the change” move the mixture away from the heat and let it cool a bit. Just for reference, it took my strawberry/honey mix 40 minutes to thicken the way I wanted.

When you make freezer jam without add-ins the texture will NOT be like a jelly. It will be a thick jam with little pieces of Strawberries. And it will be perfectly amazing.

Let the jam cool until you can stick your finger in it comfortably. Yes, I know, there I go with the crappy instructions again. Warm your jelly jars a little by placing them in a pan or sink of warm water.

Ladle jelly into jar and seal with lids. Leave some space at the top of the jar to allow for any expansion that might happen in the freezer. Let the jars hang out for awhile and continue to cool down. Once they have cooled stick those delightful things into the freezer for a rainy day.

imageI added mint from my garden to the second batch. The exact variety I used was chocolate mint and it turned out so yummy. I finely chopped and added the mint about 10/15 minutes before the jam had thickened to my liking.

Oh… and this guy was my helper. He made the jam just a little sweeter.




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Dangerous Love: A Mother’s Day Confession

There are things I’ve contemplated sharing for the past ten months. Things I thought, felt and experienced during a time when the title “mommy” stretched me further than I was really okay with. I’ve prayed about sharing, wondering if there were friends, mommas, daddies that needed to hear my heart. And it’s finally time. And it’s conveniently two days before Mother’s Day.

The refining process is not easy and it’s not over. Especially when you find out that your heart issue is standing in the way of redemption. When Lola became our daughter Lola wasn’t ready to be part of a family. She wanted it, but the transition is harder than little hearts can ever imagine. In addition to being an “older child” Lola has a severe vision impairment. She has a lot to overcome.

We launched into a very hard year. I watched my other 3 children experience hurt and anxiety as we tried desperately to curb Lola’s extreme raging. She got all of us, our energy, our time… or so I thought. I was hurting so badly and honestly if one more person told me how cute she was I thought I might actually punch them in the face. We tried everything and anything under the sun. Read the books, did the therapy, went to Vanderbilt. We had one late night conversation where Calvin and I wondered out loud why we were chosen, even questioning if God got it wrong. Those are dark moments. It’s hard to watch your children who seemed well adjusted launch into anxiety attacks and night terrors. I started to think my calling was hurting them.

But in the morning, which is promised to bring Joy. God impressed truth into my heart. Like mighty, refreshing wind God spoke and my mind was filled with truth.  They aren’t yours, they are mine! They are part of this redemption. They will not be lost. They are loved. They cannot be sheltered from pain, that’s not your job! Teach them to love like me! You are not salvation, I am! Look for me and teach them to look for me too! They will grow up knowing life is not good but I AM!

I surrender. In my imperfection I surrender. In my desire to control and fix and perfect I surrender.

There was freedom in surrender. And with that came the freedom to give Lola all of me. I mentioned above that Lola was getting all of us. I believed that lie for approximately 8 months. And the reality hit me so hard and fast that I could barely stand the weight of my heart-breaking position in her life.

I was so consumed with her hurtful behavior toward me that I closed off a little piece of my heart. I protected it, saved it for the other 3 who wanted to cuddle and could make it through Target without tearing everything off a shelf.

For Lola and I to succeed as Mother and daughter I had to open up that closed door. I had to let her hurt me like a daughter can hurt a mom. When that door is closed, when you protect your heart it doesn’t hurt when your child lashes out at you. It was time to be hurt and hurt with her because that’s what she deserves. Who am I to try to feel safe and warm and fuzzy? Who am I to try to protect myself from my child, my daughter.

So I opened my heart to all the dangerous love.

It’s been about 2 months since that dangerous love started taking place. Did it magically solve the things we struggle with? No. But do I see a change? Yes. Children know when you don’t give them full and complete love. They know how to spot the imposters. They are smart and wonderful and worth it. And they will call you out. Maybe not verbally, but in body language and actions they will CALL YOU OUT.

Healing and redemption are coming. Little by little. And it wasn’t up to Lola to engage this change. It was up to Calvin and I as her parents. To trust God, to trust our hearts and to trust the HIGH calling God has given us as parents. When I think about the family I’ve been given I can’t help but feel so inadequate, so undeserving of this challenge. Why did you trust me to get this right God??

And then I hear that whisper that becomes a roar. You aren’t going to get it all right, but if you take the wisdom and guidance I provide in abundance I will walk with you and I will Lead you and in THAT you will find success.


Armed with Truth!

The kids and I were so excited to receive some very fun mail from Armed with Truth yesterday. We immediately tatted ourselves up with their cool line of temporary tattoos which feature scriptures and designs with biblical themes. Elliott has already started memorizing his first verse and is excited to show them off at school today. This is such a fun way to get scriptures into their little minds and to help them share with their friends as well! And I was getting inspiration for my next real tattoo.

If you’re wondering about the thought and mission behind the tattoos, check out this statement from their site:

”We believe one of the most powerful ways to survive this crazy world is to have the Word of God written on your heart. When Jesus faced opposition, he answered the problem and lies with scripture. We ought to do the same. Yet, the process and practices of memorization are tough. We have tried it all: flash cards, sticky notes, covering one eye, you name it. The snazzy smartphone app was least effective because of the endless distractions that come with smartphones! Ugh!
We knew there had to be a better way….
We set out to make a way to get scripture into your memory bank by allowing you to take advantage of all the micro moments in life. If you don’t have a lot of time (like us), spending 25-30 minutes to memorize scripture isn’t something most people can maintain. We wanted to create a way people to take all their wasted micro moments in life (standing in line, at a stop light, in a drive through, in an elevator, riding a bike and even taking a shower) and make them opportunities to memorize scripture.
Armed With Truth was born to give you a ultra convenient (yet dashingly fashionable) way memorize scripture for a few seconds a day –everyday. The temporary tattoos are made for your inner wrists and will last for up to 7 days and are ready at all times for you to be encouraged and empowered. Each pack contains 10 verses centered around a transformational theme — from knowing your Identity in Christ to becoming a Change Maker. Over 100 verses in all to transform your mind and equip you with the Word of God.”

Check out our pictures and stay tuned, there just might be a giveaway coming up!

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All Content © Erica Ho, Goodbye Normal