the night my sister told me that my mom has cancer, my mind raced in a thousand directions. by that next morning in early november, i wondered what 2010 would have in store and where it would take our family. weeks before, i had began seeking an opportunity to serve in canada during the summer that we’re now in. suddenly, though, i was reevaluating if i should commit to go until we knew what our action plan against the disease would be. there was no way in heck i was going to be in another country while my mama was undergoing chemo or radiaton.
i prayed and i sought, and i asked her what she thought i should do. unwaveringly, my mom encouraged me not to put the plans that God and i had for serving in quebec on hold. her reassurance made me brave, and i applied to work with this faithful congregation for five weeks in the summertime. earlier this month, i realized something pretty incredible: my mom will complete her last radiation treatment – and subsequently her last treatment period – the day before my plane takes off for canada. no more surgeries, no more chemo, no more nothin’. the very day before my bags will be checked and my passport will be stamped.
could God have sent any clearer of a message? i love it.
when has He smacked you in the forehead and let you know that something was His design?
according to family legend, my papa used to make homemade caramel similar to this recipe and eat it straight from the can. :O my mouth is watering just thinking about it! besides papa, my brother-in-law is the only other person i know who’s embraced this secret to heaven in a can. he introduced me to making a pie from homemade caramel, and the rest is dessert history.
i uploaded this recipe to the pioneer woman‘s tasty kitchen community, and wanted to also share it with y’all! if you’re also a member of tasty kitchen, add me as a friend and let’s swap recipes. :)
homemade caramel pie
- two cans sweetened condensed milk (14 oz. each)
- one graham cracker pie crust
- one container whipped topping (8 oz.)
submerge the two unopened cans of sweetened condensed milk in a stockpot full of water, several inches above the cans’ tops. place this pot on top of the stove and boil for four hours. from time to time, it may be necessary to carefully add more water to the pot to keep the cans submerged.
after four hours, use tongs to remove the cans and let them cool. once they have cooled to a safe temperature, open the cans. pour the caramel into the graham cracker pie crust. place the pie into the fridge for three to four hours.
when you are ready to serve it, spread whipped topping on top of the pie, slice, and enjoy!
Filed under family, recipes
we would usually hit up the akers’ in-n-out convenience store first thing as we pulled into the tiny town of dougherty. it’s where i was first introduced to moonpies and the stars on tootsie pop wrappers. we’d weave through town and take big canyon road out to the country, and i’d get such a fluttery feeling when we’d round the corner closest to the farm. we’d unlock the cattle guard and roll down the long driveway. the neighbor’s black dog, creatively named blackie, would follow us the entire way and wait impatiently outside of the car door to offer his sloppy kisses.
we were home.
my grandparents’ farm in southeastern oklahoma is where i spent weekends and holidays and summer breaks, where i drove a car for the first time and bottle-fed calves in the early mornings. on our 450 or so acres, we raised beef cattle and hay, and picked pecans from the grove just for us. it wasn’t out of the ordinary for a cow to poke his head in the window of the bathroom as i sat in the tub – or for us to name our most beloved hefers and calves (red and junebug were always my favorites). there was an entire closet filled with games, toys, and books that belonged to our mom and her siblings when they were our ages. when we weren’t engrossed with those novelties, we could be found in the kitchen eating granny’s homemade biscuits off of her beautiful pfaltzgraph dishes. papa would sit at the table and read his newspaper when he wasn’t working outside. he always said that farming was the closest to God anyone could get. and when i think about it really hard, i can remember what his sweet voice sounded like.
that beautiful, maize-colored home was taken from us when i was just five. the house caught fire, and my papa got my granny and aunt out safely. they crawled on their hands and knees down that long, gravel driveway to the neighbor’s home. papa wanted to get one of the vehicles out of the garage, so that he’d have something to take his wife to the doctor and his daughter to dialysis in. he was always thinking of someone other than himself. the smoke and flames were too powerful. i miss him so much.
going to the farm was never the same journey it was before the fire. i picked through the remnants of the house and collected anything i possibly could that the flames didn’t consume – pages from my aunt’s old louis l’amour books, broken bits of granny’s dishes, old medicine jars and pieces of the porcelain tub i sat and talked to the cows in. aunt vivian passed away in 1997, and granny followed two years later. we go to the farm these days to tell stories from the past, pick pecans in the fall, and check on how that beloved piece of land is doing. summers’ thirsty acres – it’s my absolute favorite place in the world.
where is your favorite place?
i smiled so widely as i wrote this week’s edition. i’m lucky enough to have four nieces, thanks to my two older siblings. i’m convinced genetics were completely on our side too, for our girls are some of the most gorgeous faces to ever appear on this planet. my brother, who is one of the world’s best fathers, and his wife have sydni kate and zoey grace, who turned four this summer.
eleven days before the twins were given to us in 2005, my phenomenal sister & her hubby had kaitlyn belle – and this may, i drove her to the hospital to have sweet ari jade.
so much potential and endless joy is found in their tiny faces. anything can happen for them. they’re brave and they’re adventurous and they’re kind. among many others, here are 30 things i want for my nieces.
- to fully grasp the height & width & depth of the Father’s love
- the opportunity to travel
- an absence of bullying during their most tender years, from those with hardened & destructive hearts
- to pursue passionately what they’re called to do
- to learn to drive a stick shift
- an ethic of hard work
- to grow into influential leaders
- a love for reading
- for nothing to be simply handed to them, but instead to hunger so much for something that they make it happen
- a holy burden
- to remember & preserve their heritage
- a man who is compassionate & good-hearted – if they choose to have one :)
- responsibility with money & a desire to act with good stewardship
- an awareness that they can always go home
- to release perfectionism, worry, & negativity
- to recognize their own beauty & that of others
- a willingness to risk
- to parent their children as lovingly & brilliantly as their own parents have
- to surround themselves with diverse people whom they can love & learn from
- the ability to forgive themselves
- to learn & thirst for knowledge
- a mentor
- to forgive others who hurt them
- to appreciate all of life’s little pleasures
- to learn how to mourn with those who mourn, & rejoice with those who rejoice
- dreams & visions for their futures
oh hey, blog. my spontaneous absence from this little corner has made me antsy, and with so much going on this semester, i have more to say now than perhaps ever before. but one week ago today, things changed.
i learned my mom has breast cancer.
i swear, it was as if someone had hit me in the chest and taken the breath right out of me.
and then, i came to my senses.
this is no reason to begin doubting His sovereignty. this is no situation over which He is not already in control. and this is certainly no time to forget that He is a God of victory.
the odds are completely in our favor, both literally and figuratively. the cancer is limited to one area, and the fact that my sister is a top-notch mammographer has given us a distinct advantage in understanding which way to go next. :)
this is the beginning of the story: some days, i still get sad. i still want to cry alone in the shower some nights, and i have my moments where i feel alone and helpless. i would love nothing more than to be at all of my mom’s appointments and feel as if i’m making myself useful in her fight. i want to go home. i’m angry that her life is being disrupted and that she faces treatment options that are less than enjoyable.
this is the end of the story: next year, our family will run at race for the cure as we do every fall. this time, we’ll get to watch our mom walk the survivor’s lap.
to keep up with more specific ways you can pray for my sweet mama, click here.
what a day it’s been! first thing’s first – niece number four has arrived! little miss ari jade made an early debut this morning at 9:16, weighing in at 5 pounds 12 ounces and measuring 19 inches. after waiting several long hours for the nicu to clear her respitory monitoring, the entire phillips clan gathered to bathe her, hold her, and ooh and ahh at her every breath. what a glorious, glorious day. :)
i completed my sophomore year of college yesterday and set out for my sister’s home just in time to hear her say, “i think i’m in labor!” that’s right, aunt peanut was the lucky one to chauffer her big sister to mercy. :D tiny job, yes i know, but it was also the one instant i sped and felt pleased with myself for it. be jealous.
after a grueling and extremely brave labor lasting well over 16 hours, my sweet sister gave us another gorgeous baby girl. i’m so so proud of them both. :)
call me crazy, but i think i’m possibly insanely biased toward my three precious nieces. these last three and a half years, i’ve found myself scrambling to etch all of their little moments and eccentricities into memory so that, as my siblings and parents so affectionately do with me, i can relay them to the older versions of sydni, zoey, and kaitlyn. par example, kaitlyn is terrified of automatic flushers in public restrooms. she will refuse to do her business – or, at the very least, complete it with her fingers in her ears – if the toilet flushes without her consent. she also has an imaginary brother named carson who lives at the circus. :) i’ll never forget the time that i asked my mom to pluck my out of control eyebrows, and sydni and zoey began to sob and beg her to stop because they were convinced i was in pain (which we all know is truuue). sydni is also in a phase of adoration for that nasty arm & hammer toothpaste with baking soda. she claims it’s “nice and minty”. priceless. :)
so, of course, this brings me to yet another opportunity for bragging on one of my girls. last week at kaitlyn’s ballet practice, one of the little girls in her group had an accident in the studio. as my sister scrambled to help the girl’s mom clean up, kaitlyn did an amazing job of getting the other dancers to shift their focus away from the embrassing moment. she marched right up to the little girl, put an arm around her, and announced, “it’s alright, i sometimes have accidents too.”
what a kid.