Blooming Cactus - July 2010

"The grass withereth; the flower fadeth; but the Word of our God shall stand for ever" (Isaiah 40:8)

Several years ago, my niece Bonnie called and asked for my mother's Fruit Malt and Green Drink recipes. Every time anyone came to visit, my mother would offer these drinks. No excuse not to accept was satisfactory because they were "good for you!" Bonnie and I recalled other goodies -- her sweet potato pies, pineapple upside down cakes, fruit cakes, biscuits with fig preserves! Bonnie said, "Just send me ALL of her recipes!"

Mother didn't have recipes. She just threw ingredients together and they came out scrumptious. From time to time, I'd insist she measure items before dumping them in the big blue china mixing bowl so I could have a recipe. I sent Bonnie all I had, plus the above mentioned.

I put a copy in the Family Tree Journal, which I've been working on for YEARS! I also added recipes collected from aunts and great-aunts…some dated in the '30's.

Christmas 2008, I told my family this was the last time I could make my "family famous" Banana Pudding, because I can no longer stand and stir the necessary time length. For the same reason, I announced at Christmas 2009 that this would be my last year to make Santa Claus Malt, which they have had every Christmas since they were born!

It is now May, 2010, and Wanda has requested for her birthday cake, the family favorite: Angel Food Cake with Gelatin Whipped Cream and fresh sliced strawberries. My daughters and granddaughters wanted my recipes for the pudding, malt and cake.

After writing these up, I thought of other favorites my children grew up with: the popular casserole dish of meat and vegetables called "More," lemon-orange ice-box pie, buttermilk pies, ham and green pea salad, German Chocolate Cookies, Cinnamon Rolls. Others. I began typing…

Really? Does one type using a computer? I do not have internet connection, or E-Mail. I do have a computer which is super wonderful to use as a typewriter for writing-up all my "Happenings." Although it is very frustrating at times, I'm soooooo lucky to have Ray next door to get me untangled…like today. I'm on page 9 of MY recipes when I accidentally hit a key that wiped out all 9 pages, in spite of the fact that I had hit the "save" button numerous times!!!!!

Ray came over and spent at least 30 minutes trying to recall my work. It was gone forever I was almost in tears! Eight hours wasted. I had to do research for some things I couldn't remember -- like how long and what temperature you cook meringue and unbaked pie crusts! It's been 30 years since I made one of my custard pies! I explained how to plump raisins; scald milk.

Ray tried to convince me that my children would treasure my recipes on the 3"x5" cards. He even went home and returned with a recipe book he created with the Carrabba children of their mother's hand-written recipes, mostly on scraps of papers…still being used by cooks in the fabulous Carrabba's Italian Grills. He said, "Give me your recipes and I'll make books for you."

I wasn't impressed to do this for my grandchildren. They wouldn't know how long to cook the meringue; or pie dough for cooked fillings. Or, like my 1-2-3-4 Cake, the basis for ALL good homemade cakes, which just says l c. shortening, 2 cups sugar, 3 cups flour, 4 eggs. They might not know how much baking powder, salt and milk to add. No, they need step-by-step instructions so it will turn out just like mine. I explained each step, like "always add scalded milk to beaten eggs; never add eggs to hot milk!" Besides, my cards are OLD, faded; some soiled!

Ray was sympathetic that I had to spend another 8 hours retyping AND rethinking my recipes. I said, "It's o.k. I'll be more careful next time. Perhaps copy each page when it is finished. I had to double-check each recipe for every ingredient and amount. I get on a roll to do things sometimes. I had this time between "Happenings" -- soon as I finish the mail-out of this July "Happenings", I'll redo my recipes. It's o.k. I have plenty of time. I'm o.k."

I walked with Ray out of my house and to the driveway. Then I screamed:

"RAY!!! LOOK!!! My cactus is blooming!"

We were both ecstatic! This wild Texas cactus bush that began as a single leaf from a huge bush in cousin Nada's yard in Lampasas, Texas in 1970, never bloomed in Houston! She had several bushes in her yard, 5'-6' tall, just loaded with all colors of blossoms. I HAD to have one in my yard. I brought several leaves home. The only one that has survived is planted in front of my garage, left side. It definitely looks 40 years old. From the ground is a grotesque trunk, oval shaped about 3-inches thick and 6-inches across, gray in color. About 10-inches from the ground, it branches out in large, very thick ugly gray leaves. Then, leaves of gray with several shades of green appear. At this point the bush is about 3 feet high and 6 feet across. From here, there are pretty thornless bright green leaves. One leaf had a gorgeous bright yellow blossom. Across the bush was another leaf with two yellow rose-like blooms.

While Ray and I were admiring and sniffing the fragrance of this miracle bush, the mail- man walked up the driveway. He too was excited, and whipped out his camera to take pictures.

I said, "God is so Wonderful! He's sorry my computer malfunctioned and I lost 9 pages of work. He's saying He's sorry by giving me these gorgeous flowers!" The men laughed, and I laughed with them, declaring, "God gives me flowers!" I could tell about hundreds of times! Sometimes, He led me to fabulous wild flowers for the church altar on Sundays at Hidden Valley Baptist Church illustrating the pastor's sermons. When Jack and I would visit his grand- parents in Lampasas, I'd bring home blooming bear grass and purple thistle blossoms to put on the altar. God never calls anyone to do something without seeing that they get everything they'll need to do the job. I also used flowers and objects to create interest centers to illustrate the Sunday school lessons in front of the sanctuary at Baptist Temple. Every Easter I decorated a large area with a garden of limbs of Dogwood Tree Blossoms, and six-inch silver letters spelling, "HE IS NOT HERE. HE IS RISEN" (Matt. 28:6).

The Lord called me to do this for 15 years. I've never known of anyone doing this.

I've written before how it happened. Jack and I helped organize the first Hidden Valley Baptist Church. Someone put an orange clay pot of artificial red geraniums on the pulpit table.

Terrible! I thought. The third Wednesday night, as I stared at them, the "Voice" said, "You put flowers on the altar!" Where did that come from? Not ME? All I knew about arranging flowers was cutting them and sticking them in a fruit jar. When I began walking out of the church, my feet felt like I was wearing shoes of iron. I knew then that the Lord was calling on me. When I asked, and received, permission to do altar flower arrangements, it seemed like my feet barely touched the floor as I left the church

In many instances in the Bible, God never called on the qualified people to do a job for him -- He qualifies those He calls. I went to the public library; checked out books on flower arranging; practiced with flowers in my yard. The Lord also gave me the idea of illustrating the pastor's sermons. I put the key verse in 2-inch black letters on the pulpit with flowers and any object from his sermon.

My life has been filled with blessings over and over again. It's just too wonderful for words to explain. If you, like me, have a close daily relationship with God, you know what I'm talking about. I acknowledge His presence all through the day.

I was discussing my writings with a pastor. I said, "I spend so many hours writing and researching; studying; praying for the words to be worthy of the time spent by my readers. The messages come from God; but translating His love and caring according to my feelings isn't easy. I think everyone I write to is a Christian who reads the Bible and prays and knows more about living a life pleasing to God than I do. I don't know if I've reached an unsaved person."

He said, "Christians need encouragement, constantly. Your writings strengthen their faith give them hope. You are in God's will. He meant to help someone through you with each letter -- like Romans 15:4, 'For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.' People need testimonies of God in their lives." If just one person's faith is strengthened, my time is well spent.

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