936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting
Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!
I am that mother who fills her child’s plastic Easter eggs with organic raisins.
On Saturday night, we had some friends and family over to celebrate Easter. We baked a ham rubbed with mustard and raw sugar, and served alongside it roasted asparagus, sautéed cabbage, whole wheat rolls, and homemade pierogi. Pierogi are a Polish dumpling, boiled and then often baked or fried. They are traditionally filled with potato and cheese, sauerkraut, ground meat, or fruit. They were also my inspiration for Easter dinner. My memories of growing up are often centered around these delicious little pockets of cheese and potatoes, made by my mother with her own homemade pasta dough. A few years back I held a “Pierogi Party” in our home, where I invited a few ladies over to make pasta and pierogi. In my preparation for our party, I came across a recipe for pasta dough that I’ve been using ever since. On Friday, armed with some basic ingredients for the dough, a few pounds of golden potatoes, and a hunk of Wisconsin Farmers cheese, I got to work in the kitchen preparing our pierogi for the next day’s Easter celebration. One batch often runs me about 2 hours, so I opted to prepare these the day before and store them in the fridge, ready to drop into boiling water and toss in butter the next evening. I must admit that for our Easter celebration, I “cheated” and made our pierogi with white flour. There is just something to be said for tradition. However, yesterday I went back to the fridge to pull out the extra pierogi filling, determined to not let it go to waste, and whipped up a batch of whole-wheat pasta dough to create our first ever batch of whole-wheat pierogi.
Saturday night our friends arrived and we enjoyed our time together centered around a delicious meal and the celebration of Jesus Christ rising from the dead after He was punished in our place. What a blessing it is to come together on a common belief, one which drives how we live and love, one which gives us hope and a future.
After dinner I spread out some plastic Easter eggs on the floor. One of Ezekiel’s good friends, Addison, joined him in opening each egg and discovering the raisins inside. Very quickly the treats were consumed, and the eggs served to entertain them the remainder of the evening.
On Easter day, our “big Easter dinner” already consumed and digesting in our bodies from the night before, we took the day to relax and reflect on Easter itself. After Zeke awoke from his after-church nap, we sat down to read him the Easter story out of his children’s Bible. We then let him open his Easter basket, which had arrived in the mail from his Grandma earlier that week. My family is quite young yet, and each holiday leads me to consider what types of traditions we should be starting; traditions that will leave our children with fond memories of fun, as well as the true meaning behind these celebrations. I’m eager to know how you and your family celebrate Easter, and why those traditions mean so much to you. Please comment below on the blog with your thoughts on Easter traditions.
As a mother of a toddler, I’ve found it quite interesting to observe my young child during holidays. I ask myself often, what does this mean to him? To him, opening little plastic containers to find a treat inside is just another game. Receiving an Easter basket is just another new toy. Even sitting down to read the Easter story is just another story time on Daddy’s lap. However, next year he will be almost 3 years old, and perhaps he will understand gratitude to a little deeper level, and better appreciate the eggs, treats and basket. More importantly, with another year of language learning, and us pouring into him the grace and love of God, he will more clearly understand the Easter story. Perhaps he will comprehend the weight of this story over, say, “One Fish Two Fish, Red Fish Blue Fish.” Our hope would be that he’ll begin to grasp, after another year of us telling him how much Jesus loves him, just why Jesus had to die, and why it is so great that He rose again and lives today! I pray for that day when he will understand, and I quicken it by committing to read him these stories, and exemplify their messages in our life and home now.
When I was a child I had a nagging question on my mind. Being raised in the church and a Christian family, I knew and understood that Jesus, God’s Son, came to earth as a human to die for me. I had heard the story over and over. There was one part of the story, however, that didn’t make logical sense in my little mind. Why did Jesus have to rise again to life? His death, after all, is what saved me. Of course, I figured God wanted His Son back, and so it was nice for Him that Jesus didn’t stay dead. But in my selfish little head I kept asking myself, what’s in this resurrection stuff for me? I don’t remember how old I was, I mustn’t have been too young to have such a boggling theological dilemma before me. Whatever age I was, I decided I should just ask God to tell me why Jesus came back to life, and so that is what I did. I said a simple prayer asking God to help me understand why it was so important that Jesus be alive now.
God’s answer to me would be years in the making. Each year, each month, even each day God is answering this question in my heart. You see, there is a hero in this story. And what kind of story is it when the hero dies? Sure, the people celebrate over those the hero saved, but there remains an ache and a longing for a better ending, for a continued fellowship and relationship with the hero. When the hero dies, there is an overwhelming, overarching sorrow. When the hero lives, there is hope. Our hope is that like Jesus, because of Jesus, we will also be reunited with our heavenly Father!
“…because I live, you also will live.” Jesus made this promise to His followers as He told them of His imminent death. Little did they know the whole scope of this promise–that Christ would not stay dead, and because He would not stay dead, they neither had to remain in their own fate of death. Even in their physical deaths, which history attests to, they would have eternal life, life forever with Christ. His life would grant them this everlasting, perfect life. His life grants us life.
“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;” John 11:25
“Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Romans 6:8-11
We want our boys to understand this. I want them, when they read of how Jesus died, was buried, and rose again, to understand the full and abundant scope of truth in this story, and the implications it holds for their lives. We want to raise our sons in such a way that our beliefs make sense. When they have questions as I did about why we believe what we believe, I want them to know how to seek God, and through reading His Word find the answers they are searching for; and for their own beliefs to be based upon that personal interaction with God, and not solely the beliefs of us, their parents.
I find a strong parallel here of my desire for their understanding of spiritual issues, and their understanding of why we eat the way we do. I want them to understand far beyond the explanation of, “It’s good for you”. I don’t want my children to be confused about why we don’t want them to eat certain things that other children may be eating. Of course one of our aims in this is to not segregate them, or make them feel left out at birthday parties by denying them cupcakes. I know at a certain point they will realize that we’ve decided, as a family, to eat differently than most of our society does. With this realization will come questions, and we need to be prepared to answer them with thorough reasons, understandable to their young minds. I want them to see the benefits themselves, and how tasty and fun it is to eat real food that makes us feel good! This begins, of course, with us developing a sound understanding ourselves of why we are doing what we are doing, as well as sticking to our beliefs about food and wellness, and manifesting these beliefs in the everyday choices we make. Although what we buy, cook, and eat in our home will strongly influence the way our children eat, if there is no strong reason or belief behind the food we eat, what’s to keep them from choosing a less wholesome way of eating when they leave home?
My job as a mother is to serve our children delicious, fun, colorful, wholesome meals. Meals which they themselves have had a hand in choosing and preparing. Not only this, my job entails instilling within them a strong sense of pride in eating well; in knowing how to choose and prepare delicious real foods. A mother holds many responsibilities, and one of these is to teach our children how eating better enables us to enjoy life more fully. I want them to see how real food gives them the energy and focus to kick that soccer ball into the net at the end of a long practice, and to have the mental energy and focus to give their 100% to their studies. I want them to connect how appreciating real food gives us a broader understanding of how God has created this earth, and the abundance of food it supplies, to sustain and nourish us, enabling us to better serve God with our lives. I hope our children do not simply to hold to a “blind belief” about spiritual topics or food, based solely on what we tell them or what they hear from others. I desire them to be investigators, to thoroughly search out the answers to the tough questions they will encounter in life. This is setting them up for success far better than telling them a story and leaving it at that.
Homemade pastas are definitely a labor of love. They demand time and effort, especially without a pasta machine. However, one of their redeeming factors is how well they freeze. With extra filling leftover from our Easter pierogi, I whipped up a batch of pasta dough made from whole-wheat pastry flour, and made a batch to put into the freezer for when that hankering for pierogi comes knocking, which is often. Today for lunch I pulled out a few frozen pierogi and dropped them into some boiling water until floating and heated through, about 8 minutes. While they cooked, I sautéed some chopped mushrooms and red onion in 1tbs butter, salt, pepper, and Herbes De Provence. While the mushrooms and onion cooked, I whisked together 2/3 cup chicken stock with 1.5 tbs whole-wheat flour. Once the veggies softened, I stirred my chicken stock mixture to the pan. I use this mixture often for a quick, tasty pasta sauce. I stirred the sauce over medium heat until it thickened, then added a small handful of organic baby spinach, and finally my cooked whole-wheat pierogi. Lunch, indeed!
**Note, if you have a bread maker, you’ve struck gold. I simply put all above ingredients into my bread maker (liquids first, then dry ingredients), and put it on the dough/pasta setting. It does all the mixing and kneading in 20 minutes, handling most of the elbow grease for me.
I must admit for pierogi themselves, I have no exact recipe. I simply whip up some mashed potatoes (from actual potatoes, not flakes, please…). To about 2lbs of boiled potatoes (skins on or off) I add a good knob of real butter, a splash of whole milk, and a large handful of shredded cheese (cheddar or farmers works well). I then roll out and cut my pasta dough into circles, and place about 1tbs of filling onto each circle. I use a finger to paint water onto the edge of one half the circle, and pinch the circle together into a half-moon. I seal the circle with the back of a fork. Coat a baking sheet with flower, place your pierogi onto the pan in one layer, dust with another thin layer of flour, then place into the freezer for about 1.5 hours, until frozen. Then transfer the pierogi into freezer bags and store in freezer for a quick meal later in the week. Trust me, they will only last a week, at most.
Raising kids stirs something deep in our souls — an innate knowing that our time is finite. Taking my kids outside in creation, I’m discovering how to stretch our time and pack it to the brim with meaning. God’s creativity provides the riches of resources for teaching the next generation who He is and how He loves us. Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!