Listening Hearts: Day 86

Our family has been working on a new daily practice: listening. Active, reflective, engaged listening that says to the other person. My desire is to understand you as you are, not to correct you or improve you or educate you.

To that end, we’ve been writing questions to help us get to know each other better. Some of these questions are serious; many are silly. Sometimes we laugh at things that are meant to be serious, and sometimes our silliness leads us into serious places. Our goal is to publish one each day on our blog. We hope you find them useful, either as prompts to think about yourself or as questions you bring to the car ride or the dinner table. They’re written by all of us, and you’ll see the diversity of our thoughts and interest in them, so in the questions themselves, you’ll get to know us a little better too.

Subscribe to our blog (or follow our Twitter account @familyfoxhole) to have them appear in your inbox or Twitter feed daily.

Today’s question:

What’s the best book you’ve read or had read to you recently?

Prayers during a Pandemic: For Teachers

Our family is taking time daily to pray about the current global health crisis. Our prayers will likely reference the Christian tradition, but we’ve written with an ecumenical and agnostic audience in mind.

If you’d like us to pray for you, let us know. If you’d like us to write a prayer for you or for a concern you have and share it here, just ask. You don’t have to share your name if you don’t want to, and we won’t share it or any other identifying details about you here or elsewhere.

Today, we are focusing our prayer on people teachers at every letter.

Today we remember teachers, including childcare center teachers, those in pre-K centers, those teaching kindergarten through 12th grade, and those who teach college and beyond.

We pray for those we don’t know, and we pray for those we do know, including [all those who serve as teachings, including ourselves]. We pray for their families, friends, and neighbors who support them, the administrators who guide them, and the students who learn from them.

Our hope for teachers is peace in the midst of rapid transition and change, clarity of mission and role when they may feel overwhelmed, energy and strength when they are challenged, and support as they care for themselves and others around them. We pray for them assurance that the lessons they have taught so far will be put to good use and that the students they love will be safe and cared for.

We are grateful for all teachers, for their work with vulnerable students, and for their roles as leaders in our communities.

Above, Jan Steen’s School Teacher (1668) shows four young pupils working, two of them writing and others with papers in their hands, and their school teacher works with one of them, a child rubbing their eye with one hand and pointing to a word on the page with the other. In the next room, visible through a curtain, a person in a red cap has their back to the viewer.

Listening Hearts: Day 85

Our family has been working on a new daily practice: listening. Active, reflective, engaged listening that says to the other person. My desire is to understand you as you are, not to correct you or improve you or educate you.

To that end, we’ve been writing questions to help us get to know each other better. Some of these questions are serious; many are silly. Sometimes we laugh at things that are meant to be serious, and sometimes our silliness leads us into serious places. Our goal is to publish one each day on our blog. We hope you find them useful, either as prompts to think about yourself or as questions you bring to the car ride or the dinner table. They’re written by all of us, and you’ll see the diversity of our thoughts and interest in them, so in the questions themselves, you’ll get to know us a little better too.

Subscribe to our blog (or follow our Twitter account @familyfoxhole) to have them appear in your inbox or Twitter feed daily.

Today’s question:

What is your favorite time of day?

Blood Orange Curd

We recently had a porch visit from friends who gifted us with pickles (our favorite!), olives (also our favorite!), and blood oranges, which are nearing the end of their season so you must enjoy them while you can. I mostly use them in salads, but since we hadn’t recently gone out for our once-a-week trip to the grocery store, we were short on greens. Instead, we made blood orange curd. It’s delicious snuck out of the jar on a spoon (no double dipping, of course!) or spread on soft slices of white bread or stirred into oatmeal. Or, let’s be honest, topping vanilla ice cream, with a sprinkle of black pepper. (Trust me.)

Ingredients:

  • 8-10 blood oranges, or enough to yield 1 1/2 c. juice (If you need to supplement with other citrus, do)
  • zest of 4-5 blood oranges
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 7 Tbs butter, cut into pats

Directions:

  • Reduce juice to 2/3 c. on stove.
  • In mixing bowl, combine zest, sugar, and egg yolks. Mix until pale yellow.
  • Slowly add juice to mixing bowl, continuing to mix. Add salt and mix further.
  • Return to stovetop and heat over medium high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until curd is thickened. To test, lift spoon from curd and run a knife down the back of the spoon to create a line. The line should remain, revealing the wooden spoon.
  • Remove from heat and add butter, stirring constantly until melted.
  • Store in glass jars in the refrigerator.

 

Prayers during a Pandemic: For the Elderly

Our family is taking time daily to pray about the current global health crisis. Our prayers will likely reference the Christian tradition, but we’ve written with an ecumenical and agnostic audience in mind.

If you’d like us to pray for you, let us know. If you’d like us to write a prayer for you or for a concern you have and share it here, just ask. You don’t have to share your name if you don’t want to, and we won’t share it or any other identifying details about you here or elsewhere.

Today, we are focusing our prayer on older people around the world.

Today we remember those all those who are older, around the globe. We remember those who are only beginning to enjoy the pleasures of old age as well as those who are preparing for the end of their lives.

We pray for those we don’t know, and we pray for those we do know, including [the older people we know, including ourselves]. We pray for all those who love and support them, including family members, friends, neighbors, and workers in healthcare, eldercare, and other fields.

We pray for those whose aging bodies sometimes surprise them with changes, unexpected or not. We pray for those who are transitioning to new roles as retirees, especially those for whom economic downturn or health concerns have forced into unplanned retirement. We pray for those who suddenly serving as caregivers for children in their family as well as those who are grandparents-as-parents who now have children in their home during the school day. We pray for those who worry about their health, their safety, and the future of the world.

Our hope for older people is that they experience wholeness and coherence in their lives, that they accept themselves and others and find acceptance in the love and support of others. We pray for them safety in a world that too often capitalizes on their fears. We hope for them hope about their future and the future beyond them. We hope for them a release from all fear.

We are grateful for older people, for their contributions in the past, now, and in the future. We are thankful for their presence in our lives and in our world.

Above, John Prine sings “Hello in There.”

 

Listening Hearts: Day 84

Our family has been working on a new daily practice: listening. Active, reflective, engaged listening that says to the other person. My desire is to understand you as you are, not to correct you or improve you or educate you.

To that end, we’ve been writing questions to help us get to know each other better. Some of these questions are serious; many are silly. Sometimes we laugh at things that are meant to be serious, and sometimes our silliness leads us into serious places. Our goal is to publish one each day on our blog. We hope you find them useful, either as prompts to think about yourself or as questions you bring to the car ride or the dinner table. They’re written by all of us, and you’ll see the diversity of our thoughts and interest in them, so in the questions themselves, you’ll get to know us a little better too.

Subscribe to our blog (or follow our Twitter account @familyfoxhole) to have them appear in your inbox or Twitter feed daily.

Today’s question:

Which room of your house is your favorite?

Potluck Dishes and Party Tricks: Strawberry Pretzel Dessert

What is this? Jello? A no-bake cheesecake?

I don’t know, which is probably why it’s called “strawberry pretzel dessert” rather than something more specific.

Is it a Southern delicacy? A Lutheran potluck staple? A summer camp favorite? The myths abound.

Ingredients:

  • 3 c. crushed pretzels
  • 1 /4 c. sugar
  • 3/4 c. butter, melted
  • 1 8 oz. bar cream cheese, softened
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 8 oz. Cool Whip, thawed
  • 2 16 oz. containers of frozen, sweetened strawberries
  • 2 3 oz. packets of strawberry Jello
  • 2 c. boiling water

 

Crust:

  • Mix 3 c. crushed pretzels (spring for the Snyder’s of Hanover Butter Snaps), 1/4 c. sugar, and 3/4 c. butter, melted. Spread into a greased 9×13 pan. Bake at 350 8-10 mins. Cool.

Cream Cheese Layer:

  • Mix 1 bar of softened cream cheese and 1 cup sugar well. Fold in 8 oz. Cool Whip. Chill.

Strawberry layer:

  • Add 2 c. boiling water to Jello; stir for 3 minutes. Add frozen strawberries and stir until thawed. Spread over cream cheese layer. Chill for 6 hours.

 

 

Prayers during a Pandemic: For Essential Workers

Our family is taking time daily to pray about the current global health crisis. Our prayers will likely reference the Christian tradition, but we’ve written with an ecumenical and agnostic audience in mind.

If you’d like us to pray for you, let us know. If you’d like us to write a prayer for you or for a concern you have and share it here, just ask. You don’t have to share your name if you don’t want to, and we won’t share it or any other identifying details about you here or elsewhere.

Today, we are focusing our prayer on people who fulfill essential duties in our society and who we have asked not to leave their work, even at risk to themselves.

Today we remember those whose employment we deem essential and who we’ve asked to risk their own health to continue to work. We pray for those who provide our food, water, sanitation, and healthcare, including those who manufacture, inspect, transport, and make available the goods and services we need to survive.

We pray for those we don’t know, and we pray for those we do know, including [all those who work in agriculture and food distribution, those who work in healthcare, those who work in public safety, those who work in sanitation, and those who work in needed manufacturing, including ourselves]. We pray for all those their families, friends, and neighbors who support them. We pray that the dignity and necessity of their work will always be recognized and honored. We pray for a collective recognition of the value of labor and respect for those whose work keeps us fed, safe, sheltered, and healthy.

We pray for those whose work tires them, for those whose bodies collapse at the end of the day and for those for whom even rest is exhausting. We pray for those who are both necessary and undervalued. Our hope for them is dignity, self-worth, and justice. Our prayer for all of us is solidarity.

We are grateful for every one who labors for the common good and for all hearts that remember them.

File:Painting of factory workers by Toni Anton Wolter.jpg

Painting of Factory Workers by Toni Anton Wolter, from the public domain. This painting reminds me of one of my favorite memories of childhood: the day each year when Buck Iron, the foundry where my father worked swing shift for much of my childhood, opened its doors. The blackness of the interior–everything metal, everything dark–underscored the seriousness of the work. I was delighted to touch the controls of the crane that lifted scrap metal, but it was also clear that this day was special: the one day of the year when the doors were open and the outside light came in. Other days, men died, and I knew my own father had scars–on his forearm, on his inner thing–from work. Though he showered at work, his clothes were often so dirty that us kids were assigned the task of beating them, away from the backdoor so we didn’t track the dirt back inside, before they could be put in the washing machine. In this painting, I see men working together, proud of their effort, but risking their lives.

Listening Hearts: Day 83

Our family has been working on a new daily practice: listening. Active, reflective, engaged listening that says to the other person. My desire is to understand you as you are, not to correct you or improve you or educate you.

To that end, we’ve been writing questions to help us get to know each other better. Some of these questions are serious; many are silly. Sometimes we laugh at things that are meant to be serious, and sometimes our silliness leads us into serious places. Our goal is to publish one each day on our blog. We hope you find them useful, either as prompts to think about yourself or as questions you bring to the car ride or the dinner table. They’re written by all of us, and you’ll see the diversity of our thoughts and interest in them, so in the questions themselves, you’ll get to know us a little better too.

Subscribe to our blog (or follow our Twitter account @familyfoxhole) to have them appear in your inbox or Twitter feed daily.

Today’s question:

Who was your first good friend?

Prayers during a Pandemic: For Those with Babies on Their Minds

Our family is taking time daily to pray about the current global health crisis. Our prayers will likely reference the Christian tradition, but we’ve written with an ecumenical and agnostic audience in mind.

If you’d like us to pray for you, let us know. If you’d like us to write a prayer for you or for a concern you have and share it here, just ask. You don’t have to share your name if you don’t want to, and we won’t share it or any other identifying details about you here or elsewhere.

Today, we are focusing our prayer on people who are pregnant, those who have recently lost pregnancies, those who struggle with infertility, those with young children, and all the people who love and care for them.

Today we think of people who are pregnant, those who have recently lost pregnancies, those who struggle with infertility, those with young children, and all the people who love and care for them.We think of mothers and fathers soon-to-be, who recently are, and who yearn to be. We remember the people who love them–their children, their parents, their partners, and their friends. We think of the doctors, midwives, doulas, and many others who care for them. We especially lift up those who do not have the social or medical support they need as they face scary times without the strong care of a community or  healthcare, as well as those experiencing high risk or complicated pregnancies. We pray for them strength. 

We pray for those we don’t know. We pray for those we do, including [names of people who are pregnant, have recently lost pregnancies, who wish they were pregnant or had children, or are new parents, and those who care for them, including ourselves]. We hope for them calm minds, clear thinking, healthy bodies, and peace of heart.

We hope for assurance for all people with pregnancy and babies and young children on their hearts and minds that the fears they have are normal, and that, if their fears, depression, anxiety, or anger are too much for them to carry, they are not too much for others to carry for them. Our prayer is that they allow others to share their burdens, physical, mental, and emotional.

We receive a gift when others ask us for comfort and assurance. We are thankful for the gift of vulnerability that others share with us when they invite us into their lives and ask for our care. We seek to be worthy of that gift always.

Image result for klimt hope

Above, Hope II (1907) by Gustav Klimt. A pregnant woman bows her head, Three women at her feet also bows their head in prayer. Are they are in a posture of prayer? Of grief? Both? A small skull near her abdomen reminds us of the dangers of pregnancy, childbirth, and infancy, but the rich colors and patterns on her robe remind us of the beauty of the world. Klimt called the painting Vision but because it continues themes from another painting of a pregnant woman titled Hope, it is known as Hope II. Even this reminds us that the whole world is pregnant with possibility.