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Learning to Cook Gluten-Free

Learning to Cook Gluten-Free: Plus an Easy Gluten-Free Sugar Cookie Recipe

No, not for me, but a grandson.

Which means our whole extended family is embarking on a journey nobody wanted but everyone gets to participate in–which is something every family which has any of various food allergies experiences. I touched on this a few weeks ago, before I had tried mixing up our own gluten-free flour blend, which I learned about from Julie of Mennonite Girls Can Cook fame, here.

So here’s a summary of some of my learnings so far:

  1. My first discovery was wow, you can make a flour out of almost any food that grows in a garden, rice paddy, tree or bush: peas, beans, chickpeas, potatoes, rice, corn, popcorn, nuts! I’ve been cooking over 40 years and did not know some of these flours were possible.
  2. You don’t even have to buy a wheat grinder. You can use a coffee grinder, which I have but don’t use much any more. And of course that takes forever, but you can give it a try.
  3. This stuff can be very expensive in ground forms. But if you don’t have the patience or time or makingflourblendresizedgrinder and can find a bulk food store that stocks these items already ground up, you will likely save megabucks over buying them from a health food store. Nothing against health food stores, except not being able to afford much there. I ended up buying one bag of potato starch (different from potato flour) in a health food store which cost double what I paid for the other bags purchased at Sharp Shopper, (a small chain of grocery outlets that have all kinds of things for less, such as canned or frozen items which are almost past their best “sold by” date). But their bulk food section has a wonderful selection and fresh items not soon expiring.
  4. Help is always at your fingertips online. Here’s a great WikiHow To Do Anything on making your own flour, and storing it. If you are not using such flour right away, do freeze it as it will keep much longer (year or more); just be sure to bring what you use to room temperature before mixing up, especially if using it in a yeast dough recipe.

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    Julie’s Blend Flour that I mixed up at home. I shared half the results with my daughter whose son has Celiac.

  5. Don’t feel you need to reinvent the wheel. I am ecstatically grateful for all the research and experimentation Julie did in coming up with her blend.
  6. But do experiment and adapt. I ended up using Julie’s Blend of flour for a Christmas cookie very similar to our all-time favorite simple sugar cookie recipe of Mary Lou McMillin from my church. These tasted grittier than using normal flour (duh) but my grandson enjoyed his special Christmas decorated cookies.
  7. Stick your neck out. I also tried my hand at Julie’s Winner’s Bread (scroll to bottom of that page) and baked it for James for the holidays. He was able to enjoy grilled cheese sandwiches with our homemade vegetable soup the same as we did. What a treat for us all–that we could eat grilled cheese without feeling sorry for James because he had his own homebread and sandwich. (The bread disappeared so fast I forgot to get a picture of it!)
  8. In some ways, this is like learning to cook and bake all over again. The steps of recipes I have down pat from years of using them—even if I don’t have the recipe totally memorized—are like second nature. Julie adds steps or hints throughout her recipe that I found very helpful—and very new. Instead of kneading this bread, for instance, (which is too sticky and gooey to even think of doing), you wet your hands with warm water to smooth the top of the loaf.
  9. Bring your best concentration game to the kitchen so you don’t lose track of which steps you’ve completed or else you’ll make a big expensive mistake. For instance, the blend called for one cup of most of the flours, but then switched to just ½ cup of two flours, and I accidentally doubled the amount of cornstarch. I did not throw it out when I discovered my mistake, and just went with it.
  10. Don’t first try these recipes while simultaneously keeping a toddler from hurting himself, or walking a baby on the hip while cooking. Aim for naptime!

I know I have a whole lot more to learn.

I adapted Julie’s Lemon Butter Cookies – gluten-free recipe from Mennonite Girls Can Cook blog because the cookies seemed so much like Mary Lou’s, which I decorate with different colored sugars at different times of year/occasions. Here are Julie’s.

Simple Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies

bakedcookies

  • 1 cup butter – salted
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 lg. egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cups Julie’s Flour Blend + 1 rounded tablespoon (or use any purchased gluten-free flour mix)
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • sweet rice flour – for handling the dough
  1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Add egg and beat well.
  3. Add vanilla.
  4. Blend well the xanthan gum into the flour.sugarcookiedough
  5. Using as little sweet rice flour as needed, you can either roll this dough out or form walnut size balls and place on parchment lined cookie sheets. Press them slightly with the bottom of a cup or glass which you’ve buttered and then dipped in plain white sugar (so it won’t stick to dough).pressdowncookies
  6. Top with colored sugar or sprinkles of your choice, or leave plain.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes …  just until the edges begin to turn golden.
  8. Remove from oven and cool on tea towel, paper towel, or cooling racks.
  9. If you didn’t add colored sugar, ice or otherwise decorate as desired, or leave plain.
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These were the Mary Lou sugar cookies (decorated with happy colors) I shared with staff at MennoMedia when announcing we would be grandparents in 2013.

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Allergies in your family? How have you adapted your cooking when sharing family meals? I’d love to hear! 

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If you have gluten-free recipes or websites or tips to share, here’s your space!

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Both cookbooks from Mennonite Girls Can Cook include marked GF recipes suitable for gluten-free diets, and available here.

Mennonite Girls Can Cook

Mennonite Girls Can Cook Celebrations

Fly on a Wall Sunday School Class

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James Madison University, just blocks from our church.

Another Way for week of January 6, 2017

What can you learn listening to secular university students talk about their faith or inner life like it was a reality TV show of some kind? Peers talking candidly to peers, with a bunch of over-50’s listening in?

That was the premise of one Sunday school class for adults at our church recently.

If you were in the student shoes, what do you say? What do you NOT want to say?

I loved the concept of listening in, and soon got out my pen and paper to take notes. Our congregation sits almost next door to a major university of 25,000 students, the “gown” growing larger every year whether the “town” likes it or not. We are realizing—and have for years—that the university should be very much on our radar for outreach. Mission. Engagement. Whatever you want to call it.

Some years we have done better than others and our new young pastor (still in her mid thirties and her husband, also a pastor), are especially interested in connecting with this demographic just because they have enjoyed working with students so very much.

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Fellowship meal at our church, Trinity Presbyterian.

How do you talk about your faith or inner life when this Sunday is the first time you’ve even stepped inside of a church, as one student said, “in many many years”.

One pondered, “I wonder if our generation goes to church less than previous generations?” Well, maybe, but suddenly I am back in college myself. For the first time in my life when I wake up on Sunday mornings, I have the option to NOT go to church. I drag myself out of bed the first few Sundays as a college Freshman and attend “campus church” at my Christian college, which feels like just another version of the weekday chapel services I’m required to sit through. So of course it feels scandalous the first time I just sleep in and don’t go to church. Deliciously naughty. That’s part of going to college, or really just being a young adult and able to make your own decisions (whether or not you go to college).

Another student admits he doesn’t know Christian theology or Bible stories. He’s not alone in that, either.

So it is refreshing when the lone practicing Christian (Catholic) among them pipes up and offers that she actually loves the liturgy, the ritual, and the idea of sacrificing (even Sunday morning sleep), to put your life out there for a larger purpose and reason.

Another fellow talks about how kids on campus complain “There’s nothing to do here” in our comparatively small town and inwardly I roll my eyes. One talks about the “campus bubble” and I recall how I could go weeks without ever stepping foot off my campus, which happens to be on the other end of this same city. When you don’t have a car, and in a time when this city had NO bus system at all, you are definitely in a campus bubble. They hint they would like to be about more than parties and hook ups, though that word is not used.

The Catholic student talks about how in one of her music classes, her professor had the various parts (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) work together to figure out what was off in their singing and how to fix it. Perhaps that’s also a model for areas where colleges or universities seem to represent many lost opportunities—especially where there are major retirement communities like we have here with hundreds of lonely people often living far from their families; refugee and immigrant families struggling with jobs, housing and language; and single working parents still needing help to keep food on the table.

These students could have been from almost any university in the U.S. or Canada—even Christian colleges. How does what they had to say—and the potential to engage with them hit you? Are there possibilities to help them become more connected with your congregation and with faith—or the needs you are helping with in your area?

Thoughts, examples, or stories you’d like to share? I would love to do a follow up with your examples. Email me at anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or write to Another Way Media, Box 363, Singers Glen, Va. 22850.

More on Trinity Presbyterian Church.

 

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books, most recently Whatever Happened to Dinner. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

A Day in My Life at 65

alarmclockAnother Way for week of December 30, 2016

After a lifetime of setting the alarm at least five mornings a week, with most of the last three years getting up at the ridiculous hour of 3:15 a.m., my husband and I are enjoying not setting the alarm.

Yes, I’m still gainfully employed and do indeed need to get to work by 8 a.m. We just don’t have to set the alarm because after getting up all those years as early as we did, and not sleeping as soundly as we used to, well, the sun or the dog or the cat gets us up if we snooze too long.

So, most days after I get up and let the dog out, I make a small pot of coffee for myself and enjoy hobby writing for my blog, my newspaper column, or the magazine I edit before going to my day job. My husband gets up when he feels like it, having retired earlier this year, (a very good decision, by the way, given his circumstances). He makes his own pot of coffee (I drink decaf and he drinks regular) and he seems to enjoy puttering in the kitchen to fix a little breakfast for himself.

Then three or four days a week, he heads off to the wellness center of a nearby retirement housing complex where he works out doing strengthening exercise in a gym and pool. (I never, ever thought I would write those words about my husband. Yes, I’m very happy he’s working out!) Meanwhile, I get myself ready and head to my job. If I have time before I start work, I take a 20 minute walk; if I can’t squeeze it in then, I try to do so over my lunch time.

After work, I throw together a meal: meat, potatoes or another starch, a vegetable or a salad, and usually, vanilla ice cream for dessert. I would say my cooking is less complicated than it was when we were raising our three daughters. In reality, I often don’t cook more than three nights a week; the other nights we have either leftovers, eat out (fast food or cheap restaurant) and every other week, have a Lions Club meeting with an evening meal. So, the fact that my husband doesn’t cook more than steaks, hamburgers and in the ancient past, barbecue chicken, and now fixes himself lunch and breakfast, my cooking has been cut way back. I do enjoy cooking when I have time; I also dig having company, including our children and grandchildren.

bdaymelodie60thAt 65, I do think more now about the time I have left: will I get another ten, twenty or thirty years? Forty was not a big deal for me, joking even when I got to 50 and 51 that “Fifty-one is practically 50, which is not far from 49, and 49 is not far from 40 which might as well be 39.” Follow that? You could say I was in either in rabid denial, or that I was quite happy in my own skin and comfortable with getting older, or something like that.

But 65? That’s a number to reckon with. If I get to live to be 85, wow, that’s only twenty years away. Twenty years is not that long of time so I’m starting to think, what do I want to still do in the next 20 years? Where do I want to travel while still on this earth, and able? Will I be in heaven or the afterlife in 20 years? Psalm 90: 10 in the King James Version says the days of our years are three score and ten, or perhaps four score (if you remember that a score is 20). So the Bible puts the average life at that time 70 or 80.

Thank the Lord, we don’t get to know these things, or at least most of us don’t. So the important thing is yes, get around to doing the things we really want to do, and try to enjoy each and every day or minute as we live it. Like one of my favorite authors, Thornton Wilder wrote in the play “Our Town,” in lines spoken by Emily, “Does anyone ever realize life while they live it…every, every minute?”

So, that is my goal for the New Year: to spend more time reflecting and expressing what is important to do, and then doing it, as time and funds allow. My husband and I have always dreamed of spending time volunteering for disaster work or other longer term assignments. I hope we can still do that, depending on health.

And even though I’m not retired yet, it sure is nice not to set an alarm. There are too many years of that. Time to celebrate!

For a free booklet, “A Loving Legacy” for families with aging parents to fill out together, email me at anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or write to Another Way Media, Box 363, Singers Glen, Va. 22850.

 

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books, most recently Whatever Happened to Dinner. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication. 

Turning Tables: A Christmas Story

Another Way for week of December 23, 2016
Turning Tables: A Christmas Story
Why had Midge insisted they invite her father to move in with them? Didn’t they truly have enough “family” on their hands when their 28-year-old son, Bob, had moved back home?
“Coming, Dad,” Midge sighed in response to her father’s insistent “Midge, Midge, I need some help back here!” On her way past the bathroom, she grabbed a package of corn pads, adhesive tape, and scissors. Of course Cleve couldn’t reach his toes himself. Of course the cushion helped his walking be less painful.
“Can’t you turn up the heat in here?” Dad asked when she got to the door of his room.
“You’re still cold?” she shook her head. He had on long underwear, a thick flannel shirt and sweat pants, plus a plush men’s housecoat. His bushy eyebrows just furrowed in response.
“Well it is December and this is still Siberia to me,” he shrugged. Ever since her mother had first become sick several years ago, Cleve missed not being able to sojourn in Florida for three or four months of sunshine. He said the cold crept into his toes at the end of October and didn’t leave until April.
“Do you want a new corn pad?” asked Midge, holding out the supplies.
“Well no, why would I? You just put one on yesterday,” Cleve reminded her.
“You just took a bath, I thought you’d want a clean one.”
“That costs money,” he shot back. “You think …”
“Yes, I know it doesn’t grow on trees,” she responded. Did fathers ever change?
“But I wouldn’t mind if you helped me get on the computer again,” Cleve said without the edge in his voice.
Midge smiled. It was his favorite pastime. Email, Facebook, they both helped him stay in touch with his family, he said. Friends from longer ago who now lived too far away. There was a daily devotional he loved receiving, and checking to see if there were any new pictures of his great grandchildren posted. For the 100th time she was glad her daughter Bianca had had the patience to introduce him to the computer and then the Internet years ago, while her mother, Olivia, was still living.
Life before her mother’s cancer was so much easier for all of them. Cleve was not quite so, what? Cantankerous? Curmudgeonly? Needy?
All of the above. “I’ll try,” she gave him a half smile without an eye roll. “I just need to gather some Christmas gifts I want to take to the office.” She turned on her father’s tablet which he kept by his chair so it could update.
“Hmph. Christmas. I sure don’t need anything. Don’t you go spending any money on things I don’t need,” her father reminded her again. “What I want I won’t get back.”achristmastree
Of course it was true. None of them would ever get back her mother, and this was their first Christmas without her. Almost a year now. “I know, Dad. I know. But give me a sec and while your computer fires up I’ll find your favorite places for you. And I’ll turn up the heat.”
Whether her father stayed with them longterm was still up for grabs. They had said they’d “see how it went.” It was okay, and she was grateful he was still fine to be by himself each day until she came home at noon and fixed lunch for them both. In the afternoon while she went back to the office, he took a long nap. Together they’d go for a walk in late afternoon: just once around the track (for him) at the nearby elementary school, or inside at the college gym when it was too cold. There was much to be grateful for. Her husband Dave could fill in at home when not seeing clients. She was thrilled their son Bob now had a job–they didn’t actually see him a lot. Yet he could be leaned on in an emergency, or if she and Dave wanted a date night.
So many tables had turned—Cleve and Olivia had often kept Bob and Bianca when they were small so she and Dave could go out.
Midge started the car, finished packing her briefcase, then ran back in the house to help her father get settled with his tablet. “Remember you can always go back to the start up screen if you lose where you are,” she prompted. “Here’s the phone. Call me if you need me.”
“No, I won’t bother you. You have so much to take care of,” he shook his head, his face puckering as if he were going to cry. “But it’s nice to be here,” he finished as he shook himself out of the near sob.
Midge walked back and gave her dad a half hug. “Love you,” she said pecking him on the forehead. “See you.”
He just smiled and started hunting for what his sisters, nieces and nephews were doing or saying on his Facebook community. He was actually humming a Christmas carol. Things would be okay.
 
For a free booklet, “Getting Through the Holidays When You’ve Lost a Loved One,” email me at anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or write to Another Way Media,  Box 363 , Singers Glen,  Va. 22850.
Getting Through the Holidays When You’ve Lost a Loved One
Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books, most recently Whatever Happened to Dinner. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

When Conflicts Happen, Part 2: Joseph and the Great Reveal

Another Way for week of December 16, 2016

When Conflicts Happen, Part 2: Joseph and the Great Reveal

Last week I shared the story of a time my father confronted my husband about a friction that had come up between them. It reminded me of the story of Joseph in the Bible and his conflicts with his brothers who were so jealous of Joseph’s status as beloved son of Jacob’s second wife, Rachel.

But Joseph did seem to be the type of kid who enjoyed rubbing his status in his brothers’ faces. He told his brothers his dreams of wheat sheaves bowing down to him, and the heavens also bowing. What older brothers wouldn’t have been thoroughly peeved and disgusted about a kid brother throwing that kind of junk in their faces? Come on, Joseph! Don’t you have a clue about brothers? Even dear old dad rebuked Joseph for telling the dream about the sun and moon paying obeisance. Joseph was extremely lucky to end up just thrown in a pit and sold to traders heading to far off Egypt, rather than killed as some of his brothers wanted to do.

Eventually there’s a great famine in Egypt. Joseph with his nifty dream interpretation skill is well placed in Egypt and he predicts a famine, and tells how Egypt can prepare. Egypt ends up as the only place with food because of the vast storehouses Joseph had been put in charge of building.

Joseph’s brothers get wind of the fact that there’s food in Egypt. They talk their father Jacob into letting them travel to buy some. When they encounter Joseph the first time as boss of the warehouses, they don’t recognize him; he quickly figures out who they are and just can’t resist the urge to get back at them for selling him into slavery. He demands that if they want more food, they will have to bring their youngest brother, Benjamin, to Egypt.

Like that is going to happen in 100 years, what with dear old dad still grieving the loss of Joseph. The brothers are sick as they return to Canaan with their precious food. Joseph binds and keeps his brother Simeon as a sort of hostage. The famine continues and the brothers need to get more food, and tell dad they must take Benjamin if they want to get food. Jacob finally lets Ben go, saying he lost Joseph and Simon and now, “If I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.”

Image result for free bible story art joseph

freebibleimages.com

When the brothers reach Egypt, Joseph tricks his brothers again—planting a silver goblet in Benjamin’s sack as they leave, and then sending out servants to overtake the brothers and reveal that they have “stolen” from Joseph. The brothers, through all of this, have suffered a hundred thousand times for the ill they brought on their brother’s head, saying, “This is all in payment for what we did to Joseph.”

Finally Joseph’s heart—which is good and God fearing—breaks to see his brothers’ pain. He understands the suffering his dear father has gone through, and sends all of the Egyptians out of the room. He alone is left with his brothers. And Joseph, this great leader of Egypt who reported only to Pharaoh, who indeed had servants who bowed down to him, wails and weeps—the Bible says the Egyptians and the whole house of Pharaoh could hear him. Ponder that sound a minute—the deep sobs of a 30 year old man echoing off the palace walls. Sobbing for the treachery his brothers visited on him, the grief his father lived with all these years, his own deep need to get back at his brothers, his immaturity to brag about his dreams as a kid—we don’t know what all those sobs were about but we can guess. Family conflicts are knotty.

Image result for free bible story art jacob and esau reunite

Reconciliation of Jacob and Esau.

After Joseph explains to his brothers the bigger picture—he says it was not they who sold him into slavery but God who had a hand in seeing that he was well placed for this critical point in Egypt and Israel’s history. The Bible says he “fell upon the neck of his brother Benjamin” and wept. And soon everyone is falling on each other hugging and crying. It is one of the greatest scenes of reconciliation in the Bible, right up there with Jacob and Esau’s own reunion and reconciliation many years earlier. No “reveal” on a modern TV reality show can match the human jealousy, treachery, and backbiting of Joseph’s story. It should remind all of us that no matter what the wrongdoing, misunderstanding, miscommunication, or just plain stupidity has gone before, relationships can be mended. We can be reconciled.

Reconciliation is the great theme of the Bible, but too often, even as Christians, we live with grudges and revenge in our hearts, even or perhaps especially in families. With whom do you long to be reconciled?

Any stories you’d like to share? Email me at anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or write to Another Way Media, Box 363, Singers Glen, Va. 22850

 

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books, most recently Whatever Happened to Dinner. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

 

 

Great Gifts, Rise’n Roll Donuts and Gluten Free Flour

Okay this is a hodge podge.

Great Gifts. A few weeks ago I shared my “I’m working even if my door’s closed” post about my somewhat ramshackle post it notes informing my coworkers of what was going on behind my closed door. See below.

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Sometimes you wonder if anyone, especially your family, reads what you bother to write. Maybe sometimes what you write is not worth bothering to read. One of my daughters was kind enough to comment saying, “Christmas gift idea, eh?”

Yes, but my sister beat her to it. For my recent birthday what did I get in the mail but a handy dandy office door (or refrigerator) message blaster. Otherwise known as the dry eraser board, miniature size.edited1

Pert said “See, I do read your blog!” And I love her gift, especially the Pert-esque note she often includes in her surprise packages.

Only she added a few of her own original examples which I’ve not been putting on my door!

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I must add that my brother-in-law, Richard, also sweetly got one of these handy dandy memo boards when my husband retired, to keep his honey-do lists straight. We keep that on the refrigerator.

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Rise ‘n Roll. Speaking of readers, I opened the stats yesterday a little shocked to see I’d had a ton of new views (for me), coming from Amish365.com to my most visited post ever, about Rise ‘n Roll Donuts (found in various spots across northern Indiana, even Chicago, I hear), in which I tried (and kind of failed) to recreate a recipe for the to-die-for donuts. I was thinking about trying again this fall at a time when some family were around to enjoy the sweet goodness. But one of my grandsons was diagnosed with celiac disease late this summer/early fall. So now I’m on another hunt: yummy recipes he can enjoy too.

Learning Gluten-free. My first attempt at gluten free baked goods were the pumpkin cookies James came to like the weekend of his first birthday—pretty much his first cookie ever. Now he is three, and while sweets are still limited at his house, he (and all of us) were pleasantly surprised how tasty these pumpkin cookies could be with a simple substitution of gluten-free flour.

Soft Pumpkin Cookies (Adapted )

2 ½ cups Pillsbury Gluten free flour
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon*
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cup sugar
½ cup butter
1 cup pumpkin
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Bake 15-18 minutes at 350 degrees until edges are firm. Remove from pan and cool.

Makes about 3-4 dozen.

Glaze-type frosting**

2 cups powdered sugar
3 Tablespoons milk
1 Tablespoon melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine and beat together. Drizzle glaze over cookies.

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Pert’s gift for another occasion. She seems to know what’s perfect.

They freeze well so grandma is keeping pretty much a constant supply of these at her house, because that’s what grandmas do, isn’t it? And for this birthday, when time was in very short supply (because: no vacation time left after spending lots of time with two new grandsons born January and July) my daughter found a food truck in our town specializing in gluten free stuff and they made this simple but glorious cake (made fancy with the construction equipment on top, a favorite toy for little James.)

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So I was excited to read over at Mennonite Girls Can Cook blog just last week of Julie’s recipe for gluten free donuts. They use a flour blend you make yourself, which they’ve called “Julie’s Flour Blend.” I haven’t decided yet whether to take the plunge and invest in all those ingredients. No doubt I will, in time, but I thought the news was worth sharing in this odds and ends post.

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Are you or someone you love a great gift giver? They always seem to have an angle for picking out just the right gift (it may be small) or greeting card?

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What does it take to be a great gift giver?  

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For the cooks on your list, slip over to the MennoMedia store for all kinds of cookbooks, especially those from “Mennonite Girls.”

Mennonite Girls Can Cook

When Family Conflicts Happen (Part 1)

Another Way for week of December 9, 2016

When Family Conflicts Happen (Part 1)

Family conflicts can be very painful. They strike to the core of our being. And unfortunately, they often flare at holiday time—when far flung families come together for several days. Friction crops up.

This true story did not happen at Christmas but it could have. My father was still living and our children were small. My parents came for a visit and spent a couple days with us. They experienced with us the normal rub and bickering of family life. But I didn’t realize how my father was taking the squabbling, a man who always encouraged us to kiss and make up, even when we didn’t feel like it. He was maybe especially sensitive to arguments involving his baby daughter. Me.

Mom and Dad went with us to church on Sunday morning and we did as we always do: passed the peace to others sitting near us, shaking hands. Stuart passed the peace to my father and I don’t know what Dad said back, but we were to find out later that day that the “peace” expressed by my husband hadn’t set well with Dad.

DadStudyingBible

Dad reading his Bible on a 1964 family camping trip in the Rockies.

It was early Sunday evening and we were outside while the children were occupied inside. My dad addressed Stuart saying, “When you passed me the peace this morning, did you really mean it?”

Stuart said something like yeah, sure.

My dad was ready. “Well I don’t see how you can pass the peace when you have said things like you’ve said.” Apparently they’d exchanged words while working on a project that weekend. He also thought Stuart spoke too sharply to me—and I wasn’t even aware of it.

Stuart was stunned. I was smitten to the core. I hadn’t even thought about any harsh words. My husband was speechless—which is unusual for him.

I spoke up, defending my dear husband to my dear dad. Not an easy place to be. Mom started humming which is what she does when there’s a conflict; Stuart just listened, while I stated my piece.

In the end, it was probably good for my dad to air his issue, and we all survived. My husband had always thought a lot of my dad—loved him and enjoyed spending guy time with him, living as he did in our family of all girls. My parents plus Stuart and I went on to all love each other happily ever after, but that evening was not very comfortable. Having situations that need reconciliation are painful.

I was never the same again when it came to passing the peace between Dad and my husband—and it helped me really think about those words when we do pass the peace.

Family conflicts make me think of the story of Joseph in Genesis and his conflicts with his brothers, which came about primarily because of the favoritism his father, Jacob, showed for Joseph. Some of that stemmed back to Jacob’s own father-in-law, Laban, who tricked Jacob into marrying the oldest daughter, Leah, first. Joseph just happened to be one of the sons from Jacob’s beloved second wife, Rachel. Jacob had worked 14 long years to marry Rachel. Then Rachel was barren for many years until Joseph was born to them. That Joseph was doted on by Jacob was no fault of the boy. Family relationships are complicated. We’ll finish my reflections on this story in my column next week.

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Healthy relationships: my mother and my oldest daughter enjoying conversation.

Memories of conflict you’d like to share? Email me at anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or write to Another Way Media, Box 363, Singers Glen, Va. 22850.

 

 

 

 

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books, most recently Whatever Happened to Dinner. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

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Or post your shareable memories–or the takeaways–right here!

 

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