Thursday, February 18, 2016

Run Don't Walk to Heaven

family love
You may recognize the young lady in the top right of this picture. She is Shaan Hawkins. I introduced you to her courageously successful battle with breast cancer a few weeks ago. Pictured from left to right is Shaan's aunt Susan Padgett, her grandmother Eldis Smith, Shaan and Shaan's mom Shena Dodd. The picture was taken in the hospital shortly after this precious Grandmother was diagnosed with bone cancer. Eldis elected to forego treatment. She was released this past Monday with Hospice care in her home.

Eldis is no ordinary woman. She's a mom, grandmother, friend, sister, wife, encourager, songwriter, piano player, drama director, fun-loving gift from God. She survived a double mastectomy from breast cancer, surgery for a brain aneurysm, widowed after 50+ years, raised seven kids (three of them adopted) and I won't attempt the number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren, there are many! In short, there are many, many people who love this lady, including me. She's been one of my spiritual supports for Godly growth and a mentor to me about love; God's love.  I've seen her many times like John the Revelator "caught up" in God's love repeating the same phrase over and over "God is love, God is love!" 

I left the Independent Baptist Church I grew up in after worshipping there with Eldis and her family for 42 years. I joined First Baptist Chatsworth with my family, incidentally or not, the same church where Eldis grew up. I am thankful for my years at Mt. View Baptist. My move left some people scratching their heads wondering why I made such a drastic change from an uber-conservative church to Southern Baptist (also conservative).

The answer is simple. Whether it was self-inflicted or a very present demonstration, I grew up with an "unhealthy" fear of God. Watching Eldis, I grew to realize God is not "out to get me" for something I did or didn't do (not going to church on Wednesday night). He gave his only son, Jesus, so I might have life more abundantly. If I accept his sacrifice, apply it to my life and live for and through him, he is faithful and just to forgive my sin. Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. I've learned fear is respect and acknowledgment, reasoning together, not shrinking in the corner or coming to church because you fear what God will do to you if you don't. I interpret Godly fear similar to the way God wishes us to respect our parents, after all, he is our Father. 

First Baptist Chatsworth has fostered the Eldis creed in me. When I walk thru the lovingly comfortable double doors I can feel the spirit of a younger Eldis chanting to me "God is love, God is love!" I am forever grateful to this extraordinary woman that held to her belief when others didn't fully understand. The basis of Eldis' faith is Jesus Christ and his love for her, mine is too. We will never outlove him.  

As I watched this sweet family gathered around her hospital bed, laughing until they lost their breath, I marveled. Their faith impresses, to say the least. I only hope to possess this attitude when it's time to surrender my parents to their Heavenly Father. After a laughing frenzy, when Eldis regained her composure, she looked at me and said, "Tammy, I've always thought that God wants us to run to him happy when it's time instead of him having to drag us by the hair of the head saying (in the gruffest voice she could muster) "I SAID COME ON!""

As always Eldis, I think you're right!

Philippians 2:16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.

Proverbs 18:10 The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.

***I had to edit this post to include a fond memory. Eldis was the first and last person to serve me ground beef gravy for breakfast. She subs ground beef for sausage in her gravy. Her family loves it!  I had never heard of ground beef gravy let alone tasted it!. Eldis says, "You have to get creative when raising seven kids on a budget!" I didn't like it 35 years ago and still don't but I'm sure it's still a staple at the Smith house! 

Love me some Eldis,
The Happy Handicap

Monday, February 15, 2016

10 Time-Saving Tips for Making Pink Popcorn

time-saving tips for pink popcorn
Ever made pink popcorn? Me neither. But, now I have. I'd be doing you an injustice if I didn't share my 10 Time-Saving Tips for making Pink Popcorn that I learned by trial and much error. First, a bit about me. I have two personality traits that annoy even me. 

1) I think I can do ANYTHING! Really, I can. I mean I hope someone don't ask me to lock myself under water and try to get out like the Great Houdini, but short of that, How hard can it be? 
2) I can't say NO. If there's a need, I think I'm the answer. Sometimes it's just better to say "No, I really don't know anyone who can make pink popcorn." and go on about my day...unless it's for a great cause like the American Cancer Society and Pamper Your Princess Day and the person who needs the popcorn is a long-time friend! Because what Princess don't deserve a mouthful of delicious, sugary, dreamy pink popcorn!

Anyway, I'm schooled in the art of pink popcorn making so it's only fair I share the 10 time-saving tips my mom and I learned. Btdubs, my mom gave me the two horrid traits so she's always my project recruit! Ready to make some popcorn!

We tried several recipes. We found the best one here at Domestic Dreamboat. Her recipe coats 24 cups of popcorn perfectly and is DELICIOUS! After much trial and error, here's our 10 time-saving tips for making pink popcorn.

1. The way NOT to do it. Microwave in a Pampered Chef Rice Cooker with oil, butter, food coloring, popcorn, Karo syrup and sugar. The rice cooker is in the trash. Burnt it up! Don't try the microwave method in a glass container, does not work either. This is what you'll get...

microwave popcorn
2. Give your air popper a rest every batch (24 popped cups). Your air popper will wind up in the trash heap if you don't, burnt up just like the microwave popcorn.

rival air popper

3. Give your microwave a rest every batch (24 popped cups). Your microwave will wind up in the trash heap if you don't, burnt up just like the popcorn. Yes, we lost this microwave too!
burnt microwave

4.  No fancy containers needed to make microwave popcorn. Use a plain brown paper lunch sack and plain old-fashioned popcorn kernels in the microwave. Works beautifully! Pour about 1/3 cup of unpopped kernels in the paper bag, fold closed and pop about 3-5 minutes listening for popcorn to stop popping and remove. Grab a new brown paper sack about every 1.5 cups of kernels popped.
microwave popcorn bag
5.  You'll need two large four-pound dishpans to measure and mix your pink popcorn. Divide a 24-cup recipe using 12 cups of popcorn per dishpan for best results. When popcorn is coated pour all into one pan and continue to mix until popcorn is coated evenly. The kind we used is pictured below.
stainless steel dishpan
6.  Wax paper works well to cool the coated popcorn on. Try to lay your popcorn in a single layer for quick cooling. The pink coating will harden as it cools. Your popcorn should break apart easily for packaging.

ways to cool pink popcorn
7.  Reduce sugar by adding plain popcorn to a batch of pink popcorn. Children eat way too much sugar! We experimented adding some extra white popcorn to each pink batch to reduce the amount of sugar per package. After our 24 cups of popcorn were pink coated, we added about 6-12 cups of uncoated plain white popcorn to the pink and mixed it. Worked very well.

8. We used Wilton Pink Icing Color. Worked well but it's difficult to measure. We had varied colors of pink popcorn which weren't really a problem....see #9.
wilton pink food coloring
9.  We used Wilton Color Mist to supplement color (just spray it on); 
a) to color some of the white popcorn we added, and 
b) to add more color if our pink mixture just wasn't pink enough for princesses!
wilton color mist
10. We produced 80 princess bags of pink popcorn in 4.5 hours containing about 1 1/2 cups of popcorn each! We made four batches of the pink popcorn recipe adding plain white popcorn every batch. We found one of our batches (after compression of pink candy syrup and the addition of 6-12 cups of white popcorn) filled 20 bags. Our time includes trial and error and success and we are not slow studies either. 
A blown up air popper, a burned out microwave, five brown paper sacks and two exhausted old ladies were sacrificed making pink popcorn but no animals were harmed! I told my friend if anyone wanted to know who made the pink popcorn, please don't mention our names (we can't make anymore)! lol Pink Princess Popcorn was a great one-time experience. I hope the Princesses enjoyed every minute of it! Contrary to what this blog might imply....We did!
pink popcorn sucks
She's smiling but can't keep her eyes open!
Resting in pink,
The Happy Handicap

Sunday, February 7, 2016

When You Come to Church Looking Like a Bag Lady

bag lady

When you come to church looking like a bag lady should anyone care?
My recent cashier at Dillard's most certainly would!

My mom and I were shopping the clearance sale at Dillard's Department Store last week. The cashier chatted like we were old acquaintances. Somehow, our conversation turned to tradition. She raved on about her nieces and nephews doing things backward, nothing in the old traditional ways. She shared.  We listened.

She disgustedly disapproved of living together unwed, children out of wedlock and the audacity of her sister inviting her to a nephew's wedding with these important issues ignored! I’ll add here that I don’t consider these topics tradition. God doesn't approve this behavior because it is contrary to his word. I am following the conversation until she says, "And what about the way women come to church dressed like bag ladies? Didn’t their mother teach them how to dress?"  Yep, she's a flaming traditionalist.

Ms. Cashier didn’t know me from Adam or Eve's house cat. She had no way of knowing shoes are a huge obstacle for me. Dressing like a Philadelphia lawyer does not come easy for me. This is where I looked off, mind racing, feeling unworthy and disengaged from the conversation. Politely, I never commented on her question.

I’ve owned the same black jumper for almost 30 years. I LOVE that old, faded, holed-pocket jumper. My safe, trusty knee-high boots are the perfect accessory! My mom HATES my jumper. She threatens to burn the dress. Her twin sister offered to buy me a replacement if I’d throw it away and never wear it again.  My old black jumper is the most comfortable dress in my closet. I feel good about it and think it's stylish too!  I've kidded them about being jealous and envying how good I look in that tattered old plain jumper. Of course, my mom probably thinks I need a mirror! I understand mom and others and the traditions they've been taught like; Easter requires a new dress.  

What people don’t understand about my black jumper is I’ve worshiped Jesus corporately in that dress more than any other article of clothing I own. Jesus has wiped away my tears that spilled down my cheeks, curved under my chin, and rolled down my neck to land softly on the cotton fabric turning it an unfaded black. I gratefully wore the jumper with both of my pregnancies. I am so thankful I can wear this dress with my knee high boots hiding non-traditional feet, looking somewhat stylish and feeling somewhat normal. I can walk into the church with this ugly dress on, unassisted, because of what Jesus did for me. When I walk into the church looking like a bag lady, I’m not thinking about my clothing. I'm thinking about worshipping a King, my Savior!

Leviticus 19:15 Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbor.

When you come to church looking like a bag lady, OWN it! I wear my unattractive black jumper unconcerned about outward appearance because:
  • a redeemed soul carries more valuables inside than a Coach purse
  • a satisfied soul shines more brilliantly than diamonds
  • a thankful heart turns more heads than Prada shoes
  • a happy countenance is beautiful without Chanel makeup
  • a praising tongue says more than a Vera Wang gown
My Mother taught me how to dress, but, who am I pleasing? The fashion police or Jesus? 2 Timothy 2:4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. If I'm more concerned about my clothing than pleasing my leader, I am tangled up in this life. I'd rather please God with him accepting my praise offering than make others happy with my clothes. I'm a soldier of the cross every day, clothed in His righteousness!

God is my designer 365,