I can CAN!

I can CAN!

I developed a new super power.

It’s called “canning”.

I sliced my thumb open with the corner of a peach pit, I burned my hand with the steam from the water bath canner, and I got so excited, I kept having to go back and re-do things because I would inadvertently skip a step. I also took a #crockpotselfie.

crockpotselfie

But then, somehow, I sealed 12 half-pints of fruit butter. When I heard the ping!-pop! of the lids, I felt like I could do anything.

I made the kids breakfast at 7:30 yesterday morning and I was in the kitchen until 5:00 last night. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and the ever-loving fruit butter had me on my feet the entire day.

Was I tired when it was all said and done? Absolutely. But it was the kind of tired you feel when you’ve accomplished something of incredible significance. I was excited, I was empowered, and I was encouraged.

I’ve wanted to try canning for years. I kept browsing Amazon for canning equipment, but never pushed the “add to cart” button. Canning scared me. Giving people botulism isn’t what I wanted to be remembered for. I put the idea of canning on the shelf.

Until now.

Now, I’ve replaced the idea of canning with the products of it. Fruit butter. Beans. Peaches. I’ve got a list made up of what I’ll be getting from Farmer’s Market this weekend. I need to make salsa. Sauce. Jellies. Jams. I NEED TO CAN ALL THE FOODS.

A few days ago, our entire apartment smelled like a detox kitchen, because I was dehydrating kale. I made kale chips, people. And they’re tasty. They don’t hold dip, but they taste great.

I’m pretty much a food-preservation expert over here.

(Not even close, but I am learning so much and enjoying every single step of the process!)

So much of my life, I’ve told myself I can’t do various things. Things I really wanted to do, I talked myself out of doing. Things I wanted to try, I let the fear of failure keep me from even attempting.

I’ve missed out on so much because of daggum fear! Fear of canning food! Ma Ingalls slapped a freaking bear, and I’m himming and hawing over putting food in a jar.

SLAPPED. A. BEAR.

Now that I have canned – and succeeded – I regret not doing it sooner. I can make our own food for pennies on the dollar, it tastes great, I control what’s in it, and it looks so pretty in the glass jars! Even in making kale chips – I bought a giant bag of kale from Costco, and I still have only used just under half of it. (so. much. kale.) If I were to buy a bag of pre-made kale chips from the store, I’d be paying over $4 for a small snack bag. WHAT!

But look at me go!

It may not seem like a big deal to others. People have been canning and dehydrating for decades, after all. What’s all the excitement about pantry food?

I don’t know. I don’t have an eloquent answer for you. All I can tell you is I feel superhuman, and knowing I’m putting healthy, homemade food on the shelf for my family has filled me up. It’s fun and productive.

I think I’ll go knit myself a hero cape…

Patrick & Annette
Our dear friends, P & A, walking away with a prized product of Val’s Little Apartment On The Prairie canning success!

When The World Says “You Can’t”

You guys. This. Sometimes I sit down to read my Bible and no matter how many times I’ve read the passage before, it suddenly comes to life and speaks to me so very powerfully. That was the case with what I’m about to share with you. Some of this will probably end up in my book (that I’m stuck on, but still trying to plug away at ~ prayers and encouragement appreciated), but it was such a poignant illustration, I thought some of you may benefit from reading it today.

You Can't

First, the back story:

King Hezekiah. Ever heard of him? He became King of Jerusalem when he was 25 years old, and reigned for 29 years. He restored the temple in Jerusalem and led his kingdom under the will of God.

The king of Assyria, whose name I won’t try to pronounce but am more than happy to type out for you, King Sennacherib, invaded Judah and intended to make war with Jerusalem as well. This, obviously, didn’t sit well with King Hezzie, so he cut off the water to the land, making sure the Assyrians didn’t have any.

Hezekiah then encouraged his men by saying, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.” A-to-the-men, Hezekiah. But it gets more involved.

Sennacherib sent a messenger to Jerusalem to have a word with Hezekiah and his people. This messenger taunted Hezekiah and his people. “On what are you basing this confidence of yours?” He goes on taunting them saying, “When Hezekiah says, ‘The Lord our God will save us from the hand of the king of Assyria,’ he is misleading you, to let you die of hunger and thirst.”

Say what, messenger man?! Oh, but his words get darker and more divisive.

He continues on, “Do you not know what I and my fathers have done to all the peoples of the other lands? Were the gods of those nations ever able to deliver their land from my hand? Who of all the gods of these nations that my fathers destroyed has been able to save his people from me? How then can your god deliver you from my hand? Now do not let Hezekiah deceive you and mislead you like this. Do not believe him, for no god of any nation or kingdom has been able to deliver his people from my hand or the hand of my fathers. How much less will your god deliver you from my hand!”

Sennacherib had, in fact, annihilated every other nation he rose against. He was on a warpath that favored him greatly, and dared the God of Hezekiah to save him and make his story different from every other nation he went up against.

And that’s exactly what God did. Hezekiah called out to God after Sennacherib’s threat, and was reassured God was for him. Sennacherib’s army was laid out in one night by an angel of the Lord, and the king himself was put to death by his own sons. God had absolutely delivered Hezekiah – and all of Jerusalem – from the hands of this wicked warrior.

(Passages from 2 Chronicles 29-31 & Isaiah 36-37)

Sennacherib tried to shake the very core of Hezekiah and his kingdom. He called their faith into question. Publicly. He decried against any help they sought. He denied them hope. He denied them victory. Or so he tried to.

What are you facing right now that threatens to overpower you? What lies are worming their way into your heart, causing you to doubt or question your strength and power in the God who created you? What is the devil taunting you with? What is the enemy talking about saying, “you can’t”?

Look at these marriages failing! What makes you think your marriage will survive? You’re no better of a couple than anyone else, and God didn’t really join you together – you did that on your own and were destined to fail anyway.

You’re so inadequate! You had all these plans and aspirations, but you’re dreaming way too big! No one in your family amounted to anything, because it’s just not possible! You’re a chip off the old block, and you’re destined for average whether you like it or not!

You can’t accomplish anything in life because of your past! Everything you did back then will follow you for the rest of time! Every wrong choice you made discounted your worth, and no one will want to have anything to do with you if you try to rise above it and pretend like you’re a better person today than you were back then!

Friends. Stop listening to the enemy. As he taunts you from behind his lies, do not waver in your faith. He may have won a battle here and there, but your God has already overcome and claimed victory.

You serve a God bigger than any mistake you’ve made. You serve a God bigger than any hurdle you’ve come across in life. You serve a God bigger than any enemy you face.

When the world (or the enemy) says you can’t, you remember you serve a God who says, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

With God all things are possible.

Whatever you’re facing, whatever you’re battling, whatever is choking the confidence, strength, and power out of you – your God cares. Your God loves you. Your God will fight for you. And He has already won.