Things I Learned in August

Y’all, I love this ”Things I Learned” link up with Emily P. Freeman. It’s right up my alley; observing, remembering, celebrating and sharing. Paying attention to what I learned connects me to what's happening in my heart.

August held good lessons for me. Here are just a few things that made my heart sing during the dog days of summer.

First,
My Poppa Mayerle ate cake and smiled!

This is a correction to my remembering. It is always good to get closer to true!

My memories of my great-grandfather were of a hard-working man, gruff with us kids. You may have read about him in Dickie Daddy

I'm sure we were loud and underfoot. I hate to admit it even now, but I remember being kinda bored. My sister and I slept in an old iron bed and fell asleep to the noise of a significant attic fan, late and sticky with sweat. It was Louisiana in the summer with no air-conditioning. We were all on each other's last nerve.

I came across this photo last time I was home in Texas and just look! That's a genuine smile. Joy! I'm the one who looks less than thrilled and it looks like I might be getting cake.

I have my own genuine smile as I type this to you. This particular scene from his 63rd birthday is how I will remember him from now on, in my heart right next to Lily Belle.

Second,
After 40 Years, I still may not know how to pray.

I told you last month that I seem to re-learn things. Well, I'm still at it.

Church had been hard for Kyle as a boy. It was hallways full of noisy people, separation from home, lots of words, too many words, too like being in school, all trying for his mind and body. I didn't always get it at the time, but Autism makes for lots of disconnect inside and out.

On our first visit to a smaller church, tiny really, I remember Kyle asking the pastor after the sermon why he told us to bow our heads for prayer. Kyle told him he liked to look up when he prayed so his face was turned toward God. (The deep things our kids are thinking. We can have no idea.) He was maybe 10 or 11 at the time. Our pastor was such a good shepherd that the following Sunday he told the congregation to bow their heads or look up in prayer. I have never forgotten Kyle's shy smile that day. That church has been our home ever since.

Try looking up the next time you pray.

Then came August . . .
I ran into a friend the other day who told me her daughter was expecting her third child who was trying to choose an early birthday. I said I would pray and promptly prayed that baby would stay put for a few more weeks. That's wisdom, right?

Just a few days later, my friend texted to say the baby's coming today! Later she sent a photo of her daughter and baby boy, healthy and doing fine. Then she shared the backstory. The baby had been born with the umbilical cord wrapped around his little five pound body and tied in a True Knot. He needed to be born sooner rather than later to avoid cutting off his life supply.

What do I know? It's good to pray specifically, but maybe just not so bossy.

Third,
In my kitchen, I discovered homemade caramel for everyone!

You won't find many recipes on my blog, but y’all I had to tell you about this.

When our family gathers around the table, I try to keep it simple. But with 3 vegans, 4 meat-eaters, 1 gluten free and 1 cheesey mccheeser, that isn't always easy.

Before you think I am just a lily-livered mama catering to picky eaters, consider this. My husband had double heart bypass surgery a year ago and needed a heart healthy diet. He’s doing great now and we're all eating a little less fat and a few more vegetables, so that's good. And my youngest daughter has not had a migraine since going gluten free 2 years ago, so the dietary madness is working for our family.

I have learned a few secrets for making everyone feel loved and welcome around the table while not going crazy as the cook/host. I can give you full details later, but this caramel is what I just learned.

It is a simple recipe for beautiful, gorgeous caramel! (vegan & gluten free) What?!

4 simple ingredients:
1/2 cup of honey
1 1/2 T palm shortening
1/2 cup coconut milk (canned)
1/2 t sea salt

Method:
1. Bring the honey to a low boil in a saucepan over medium high heat. Simmer on medium heat for 5-7 minutes, swirling occasionally for even browning and a dark amber color.
2. Remove from heat and carefully whisk in the palm shortening, coconut and salt.
3. Return to the heat and cook for 15 minutes.
4. Cool to room temperature, then store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

I made it for a new version of our all time favorite 7 Layer Bars but you can drizzle it over ice cream, cashew milk (the best of the dairy-free ice creams in my non-vegan opinion) or homemade brownies and make everyone very happy as well.

I found the recipe in this beautiful cookbook by Danielle Walker.

The full Seven Layer Bar recipe is on Danielle’s blog Against All Grain. You'll enjoy a visit to her website. I loved the look of her kitchen, lots of white alongside rustic touches. Of course, the space is what catches my eye.

Filling up my pitcher with August and pouring it out for you,

Terri