Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Chocolate and Peanuts and Ice Cream Anyone? The BEST Ice Cream Dessert!

What's summertime without ice cream? For that matter, what's a Monday, Tuesday or any weekday without ice cream? lol, I'm having a serious struggle with it this summer. Nothing cuts the heat and humidity like ice cold ice cream here in South Carolina.
And if you like Dairy Queen Buster Bars, this recipe makes a 9 x 13 pan full! Warning: DO NOT EAT IT ALONE, I cannot imagine the calorie count!
Even though I've cut the sugar and the butter of the original recipe, it's still very rich and sweet. So bring it along to the church picnic, or divide it up in smaller foil pans to save for smaller get-togethers. In fact, why not invite other widows over for a movie night or go to a ballgame or  the fireworks together and serve this treat afterwards?

1 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 of a 13 oz. can of evaporated milk
1 pkg. (6 oz.) chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp. vanilla

1 pkg. (15 oz.) Oreos cookies, crushed (use regular Oreos, not the Double-Stuff)
1/4 cup melted butter

1 1/2 cups roasted peanuts (Use your favorite kind: dry-roasted or Spanish work equally fine...salted or lightly salted... you can't go wrong).
1/2 gallon vanilla soft-serve ice cream from your favorite ice cream shop

Combine confectioner's sugar, evaporated milk, chocolate chips, and 1/4 cup butter in a pot. As it melts together, low boil for 8 minutes, stirring constantly.
Add vanilla and let it cool.

Combine crushed cookies and 1/4 cup melted butter. Pat lightly into 9" x 13" pan (or two smaller pans, or a number of mini-loave foil pans).
Freeze crust until firm.

Sprinkle peanuts over cookie crust. Spread soft serve ice cream over the peanuts. Spread chocolate sauce over ice cream.
Keep in the freezer until ready to serve, and then give it just a few minutes to soften up enough to cut
it into servings.


Monday, June 27, 2016

Memory Doors: Are Your's Open or Closed?

Today I'm on the red-eye flight back from the west coast where I've been visiting some of my kids for the last week. Since I dare not write in my sleep-deprived state I'm posting the following piece. I wrote it a few years ago but it still applies today. How do you handle grief and memories?--Please add your comments. Your participation and the words you write are the most important element of this blog! No one person--certainly not me--can express all the individual facets of life, love and widowhood. I hope to hear from you soon.

When I walked through the door on my very first visit to the only grief support group in my area (this was after I'd already been widowed a full year), the air was so heavy I had to catch my breath. It was like memories weighted the atmosphere and almost crushed me. But I went back each week, hard as it was,  and we slogged through the heaviness, leaned into those memories, rode out the waves of grief. And then, finally, the air lightened after a few weeks. Faces brightened. We started to remember more than the pain. We remembered the life, the goodness, the love. Choosing to remember and choosing to face those memories, became a way to deal with the pain.

But some individuals and cultures deal with grief by choosing to forget. Its like they shut the door to that period of life; take the pictures off the walls, get rid of all the person's belongings, start dating right away. . . I once read the story of a man who escaped the genocide in Rwanda and Burundi, Africa in the 1990's. The way his culture grieves is called gusimbura: you don't talk about the dead, you don't name them. You're reminding people and it's not acceptable.

How about you? . . . What do you think? Are you a rememberer, or a forgetter when it comes to grieving? I'm not asking if one is right and the other is wrong. Something tells me there's probably a time and a place for both. But, are you naturally inclined towards one or the other? Does one of these styles of grieving come easier to you than the other? Talk it through here in the comment, with your Lifeboat group, or print this out and take it to your neighborhood or church group. How do you feel about memories? Our culture usually insists we must grieve "properly" or it'll come back to bite us. But what's "proper?" Sometimes it's OK to put those pictures in a box and put it in the back of the closet. What plans or traditions do you think will help you?

Tributes are important for many people, so here on the WCP is a Memorial Wall. It's getting pretty long now, so each month, on the first Monday, each month's tributes appear as a blog post. It's a lasting tribute to your love, it helps others feel they're not so alone, and others will use it to pray for you. If you'd like to include your tribute too, please use these instructions. Once I receive your info, I'll post it as soon as I possible can.

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Awkward Author Mom & Her Kids

Here's what I'm up to this week---my kids! I'll be away from the computer, the Internet, Facebook, emails, texting and even my phone as much as possible. It seems like everyone has vacation traditions---and I'm finding that mine is to go off the grid. My closest family is 500 miles away, my parents are in Wisconsin, the in-laws are in New York and Michigan, and my kids are far and few between! One is in Ohio, two are in Washington state, and one is in Delaware--all a long way from me in South Carolina. So when I get to see them I concentrate on them.
So this week I'd like to repost the only blog I ever wrote about two of my kids and what they thought about their mom going public with her book about widowhood in 2012.

I hadn't seen Brad and Lisa for over a year, so my trip to Seattle over Thanksgiving was really special for me. Just in case they were interested, I took along one of my books, Postcards from the Widows' Path. I don't push this book on anyone---not even my kids! Can you imagine my surprise when they asked for their books? "You brought me a copy of your book, right, Mom?" They were each expecting one!

The Seattle branch of my family:
my son Brad, and daughter Lisa
Uh oh...Since I had to cram a week of thick warm sweaters and an umbrella (I'm in Seattle, right?)  into one carry-on suitcase for the plane, I'd only brought one book. I didn't think either one of them wanted to read it anyway. And if they did, I thought they could share. But---just like when they were little, they didn't want to share! They each wanted their own! Brad firmly told me he wanted his book mailed to him with a personal note and autograph. Yikes! This brought me up short! What could I say about the profound and personal experience of his father's death and the birth of my book?

After I got home from Seattle, I stewed and stewed. What would I write? A few days ago my time was up and I simply had to mail it. Here's what I finally wrote:

Dear Brad, When I had no words, God did. And His words filled my silence and pain just like your dad said they would. Here's my heart. Love always, Mom

After that, I thumbed through Postcards from the Widows' Path for the first time in several months, looking at it from a fresh perspective. And you know what? Please don't take this the wrong way, but it's really good! I can't believe I wrote it! It's honest, and gentle, and alive. And the wonderful thing is that as you read the story of Ruth, Naomi and me--- your own hope begins to grow.

The various Bible verses I found are so rich and truthful, speaking directly to the pain and needs of grieving people. The prayers are simply stated but deeply saturated with the character of God and the human condition. Naomi and Ruth step out of history and into daily life. And woven throughout the pages we see that the veil of eternity is only a heartbeat away.

Others have told me the book is powerful . . . it's one of the best books for widows . . . I felt joy and wonder as I read . . .

So, since I mention resources for widows on Thursdays, please allow me to recommend my own resource. You know I won't mention it often, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't. It's just that I feel awkward when talking about it to anyone, even my kids. Click right here to order, or pass this link along to "Santa." Consider getting an extra copy for your church library or for a gift for another widow.

Thank you for letting me share a bit of my personal life and family with you today. And if your holidays don't live up to the traditional pictures of the past, I hope you can take some comfort in knowing that mine don't either. Life's an adventure, not a re-play. We never know what to expect and that keeps our eyes fixed on following Jesus through it all. ferree

Thursday, June 16, 2016

SAVE THE DATE! Weekend with the author

Date: December 2-4, 2016
Place: Hampton Inn + Suites, 3000 West Radio Drive, Florence, South Carolina. Click here for the hotel website. For TripAdvisor reviews click here. If you came last year you'll be delighted to see that all the renovations are complete now and just beautiful!
Rooms and Rates: Standard King-size bed or Standard 2 Queen-size beds, $109.00/night (Costs may be split among any who decide to room together). King-size bed w/suite, $139/night.
How to reserve a room: Call Hampton Inn 843-629-9900 and mention the "Weekend With the Author/Ferree Hardy" so you get this lowest rate of $109/night. Room will be held with a valid credit card provided by you. Each guest is responsible for her own charges. You must call and reserve your room no later than November 18th. BUT call as soon as possible because the group size is limited to only 20 individuals! (Hotel rooms are eligible for cancellation until 6 pm the day of arrival).
Once you reserve a room you must contact me through email to WCplace@gmail.com or by a private message on Facebook and let me know you're planning to come. I'll set up a Facebook page so you can communicate with other attendees and perhaps find a roommate to share costs.
Transportation: Florence, South Carolina is conveniently located at the eastern end of I-20 and halfway between New York and Miami on I-95. Mapquest the hotel if you're driving. If you prefer to come by Amtrak or airplane, let me know your ETA and I'll pick you up at our Amtrak station or at Florence airport, the world's most adorable little airport. (If you fly, make your destination Florence, SC. You'll have to transfer at Charlotte NC airport to the American Airline commuter flight to Florence, it's the only carrier.
If you do fly I recommend taking a morning flight or coming a day early. The airline is notorious for cancelling and delaying flights. Schedule your return flight for Sunday late morning or early afternoon).

You're responsible for your own lodging and transportation to Florence.

Once you get here we'll carpool with other attendees.
Saturday lunch will be  brought in and less than $10 and we'll collect payment at that time. Breakfasts are at the hotel, and suppers are on me! :) You're my guests!

Our schedule will be the same as last year's except for a few adaptations for alumni. I'll post the new schedule mid-July but once again it will be very casual and centered around fellowship, food, and fun!
Here's what we did last year so you have a general an make your plans:
check in starts at 3 pm.
Supper provided 
Discussion groups about "How to Turn Going Through Grief to GROWing Through Grief
free breakfast available at the hotel from 6-10 am.
10:00 Workshop and Q + A time with Ferree and Tom
12:00 lunch in the hotel hospitality room (approx. $10).
2:00 we'll leave for The Living Christmas Tree concert at Florence Baptist Temple
Evening: Christmas party and supper at Ferree's house. Please bring one small gift for a gift exchange.
free breakfast available from the hotel from 6-10 am.
8:00 devotions and farewell with Ferree in the hospitality room. C
atch a ride for morning worship at Florence Baptist Temple if you'd like.
12:00 noon: hotel check out
If you'd like to stay an extra day or more either before or after the event, simply add on the days when you make your room reservation


Here's what to bring: dress---casual and easy to pack. I'll be in slacks or jeans all weekend. Weather here in early December is generally mild, so you don't need a parka. Bring a light jacket or raincoat and a sweater and you should be good. Canadians might want to bring their swimsuits for the outdoor pool at the hotel. lol
WCplace@gmail.com ferree
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Tips for Father's Day

Father’s Day is dreaded by many fatherless children and their mothers because it accentuates their loss and loneliness. But did you know that Father’s Day grew out of a loss? It began because there was a girl who was motherless. In 1909, upon hearing a Mother’s Day sermon at a church in Spokane, Washington, Sonora Smart Dodd wanted to see a similar day for fathers. She had been 16 years old when her mother died in 1898, and her father, William Jackson Smart, raised her and her five younger brothers by himself on a farm in eastern Washington.

Because of her persistence, churches in Spokane observed the first Father’s Day on June 19, 1910. Father’s Day slowly gained recognition across the United States and in 1972 it was placed on our calendars by a proclamation from President Richard M. Nixon. Today it’s celebrated in over 50 other countries too!

This world-wide event is one example of how loss can produce a great blessing. But if Father’s Day tops your list of “worst holidays ever,” here are some ideas other widows have shared with me in the past. Why not choose one to try or adapt for this year?

1.  Even though he’s gone and won’t get to read it, I buy my husband a Father’s Day card every year. It might seem strange or silly to some, but it’s important to me. I write a gratitude list in it for things he wove into our life. I cried in the drugstore buying that card the first two years. Facing the whole display of cards was overwhelming, but picking one out helped neutralize the pain. I don’t cry over cards anymore; now I actually look forward to this tradition.

2.  Last year I spoke individually with all five of my children, saying I loved them and wanted to know how they were doing. I also mentioned something about them that their dad especially loved. I was grateful to get through the day, and it wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated.

3.  I give both of my sons a gift to thank them for being such good dads to my grandchildren. They are good fathers because of their dad.

4. We go to a neighboring town that has a “church in the park” without the Father’s Day message. It’s a place I can cry without anyone making a big deal out of it.

5. The children and I bought “him” a gift that we wanted, and chocolate that we ate. We went to the river and spent time as a family and wrote some funny memories in a book. Father’s Day was very soon after his death and the day loomed large but it was good to do those things.

6. For my first Father’s Day I invited other widows from church to have lunch at my house. The table was filled with ladies older than me, but they had survived widowhood. Those wise women, amidst their laughter and joy at being together, seemed to pass some of their wisdom and strength to me. It was the beginning of many friendships.

7. The children and I spent a quiet day at home. I realized it was important for them to know that the day was dedicated to fathers. The littlest one drew pictures which we stored in her memory box. For dinner we cooked Daddy’s favorite meal together and everyone was happy!

8. For me, another widow put a different spin on the day by reminding me about our wonderful heavenly Father who loves us and never leaves us. So I celebrate “God the Father’s Day,” instead. To honor my Father I do a secret act of kindness.

9. My husband never liked making a big deal about Father’s Day. He would acknowledge the day but not plan anything specific. We will do the same.

10. Both my dad and my husband died within a short time of each other. The first year of Father’s Day was a double load of grief so the kids and I went away to a favorite park. It’s now become a great vacation weekend and I praise the Lord for that! I work hard to keep heart, to focus on the Lord, and to teach the children to do the same.

No matter what you do for Father’s Day this year, count on the Lord to help you through. And perhaps someday, in the same way a national day for fathers grew from the loss of a mother, God will grant something wonderful to grow from your loss. “To console those who mourn…to give them beauty for ashes…” Isaiah 61:3 (NKJV)

Mother And Child Silhouette clip art Vector clip art - Free vector for...

Monday, June 13, 2016

Better Or Bitter?

A widow going on her third year mentioned how each year seemed to present an entirely different set of challenges and it seemed that just as she began to get a handle on one, the calendar page would turn and she'd be looking down the barrel of a whole new ominous cloud.

I could see that the Lord had given her a lot of wisdom though. She realized she had some hard choices to make between the better path and the bitter path . . .

Some of our choices on the long road of widowhood popped up in a sermon I heard on suffering at about the same time I was corresponding with my widow friend. Don't you love the way God brings things together? Here's what I jotted down from the sermon to share with my friend:

"Most friends will not continue to sympathize with you---be tolerant of them anyway . . ."

"God will often be silent and seem very distant to you--- trust Him anyway . . ."

"There's a big difference between God's silence and His absence . . ."

And here were the main points:
  • Accept your experience as a test
  • Repeat the spiritual disciplines even though they seem empty at times
  • Be realistic--you may be in for the long haul. So dig in.
  • Remember that God promises to reward those who endure
I wish I could formulate this sermon into a pill and take one every day! Many thanks to my pastor back in Ohio, Cornelious Hancock at Springboro Baptist!

What are some of the quotes and ideas that have helped you the most?