“Into each life some rain must fall” is a line from a poem written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The same lyric is also declared in a song featuring Ella Fitzgerald and the Inkspots. Both of these depict a hard season of existence. However, there is another way to think about rainy days.
Ask any farmer or gardener and you will hear that rain can be a blessing. Thirsty plants gain much-needed moisture to help them along their path to maturity. Without that rain, crops wither and die. (I know that there can also be too much rain, but that doesn’t work for my story.)
Sometimes there are people in our lives that are like nurturing rain is to a dry plant. They bring love and acceptance when we need it the most. Their actions give us hope and a sense of belonging. We become better persons due to the choice they made to involve themselves in our situations. Then time marches on; before we realize it, those folks have faded from our lives, leaving nothing but the memory of their influence.
A couple that played a meaningful role for my sisters and me lived in a different state. David and his wife, Patty, had no children of their own at the time. During Christmas break one year, they were visiting David’s mother (our Aunt Margaret) and arrangements were made to take the four girls in our family home with them for a week or so. My sister Cindy decided not to go, but the rest of us were quite excited about the trip.
Patty took us shopping one day; one of the things I recall purchasing was a pink flannel nightgown. In the toy department, Patty urged us to choose a box that held several games – checkers is one I remember for sure. We, however, had our hearts set on a boxed version of a popular TV show – The Match Game. She reluctantly let us get what we so desired, thinking that we were making a mistake spending as much money on one game when we could have had several for the same amount. She didn’t realize that we had most, if not all, of the other games already.
The thing that made a strong impression on my young life was the time David took each night to have a devotional time with us before we went to bed. He read Scripture to us, and then we discussed what he had read. Although I can’t recollect all the Biblical accounts he chose, I haven’t forgotten the story of Eutychus falling out of a window while listening to Paul preaching. (It is in Acts 20, for anyone who wants to check it out.)
Time marched on, my sisters and I returned home, David and Patty adopted a child, and we rarely saw them after that. But the memories made during our visit are some that will never be erased. Like rain to dry ground, they made a difference in the lives of three young girls who needed a little extra tender, loving care. Thankfully, I was able to reconnect with them a few years ago, and I tried my best to convey how meaningful their time with us had been .
Some health professionals inform us that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Here are some recipes to jump-start the morning (the muffins go great with the casserole):
Good Morning! Breakfast Casserole
8 frozen hash brown patties, thawed
2 cups shredded mild cheddar cheese
2 cups diced cooked ham
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Place hash browns in a greased 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese and ham; set aside. Beat together eggs, milk, salt, mustard and pepper; pour over ham. Bake, covered, in a 350 degree oven for 50 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 to 15 more minutes or until golden. Serves 8.
Note: for variety, add ingredients such as chopped onion and/or chopped bell pepper. Cooked sausage or crumbled bacon could be substituted for the ham.
1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon light sour cream
3 small ripe bananas
1 large egg
1-1/2 cups pancake or baking mix
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Stir together pecans, brown sugar, and sour cream; set aside.
Mash bananas in a medium bowl; add egg and next 3 ingredients, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.
Place 12 paper baking cups in muffin pans, and coat cups with cooking spray.
Spoon batter evenly into muffin cups, filling 3/4 full. Carefully spoon pecan mixture evenly in center of each muffin.
Bake at 400 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden. Remove from pans immediately; cool on wire racks. Makes 1 dozen.
Blackberry Breakfast Bars
16 ounces frozen blackberries, or canned (I used strawberries)
2-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup brown sugar
1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup butter or margarine
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Thaw berries if frozen. Warm berries in saucepan until the juices run. (If using canned berries, omit this step and simply drain berries from can, reserving juices.) Reserve one cup of juice, adding water if necessary to make one cup. Combine cooled reserved juice with cornstarch & lemon juice. Cook and stir until thickened. Gently stir in blackberries. Set aside. Combine flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, salt and spices. Cut in butter until crumbly. Press 2/3 mixture (about 4 cups) into greased 13-by-9-inch baking pan. Bake 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly; spread blackberries over crust. Crumble remaining flour/oat mixture over berry layer and press lightly. Bake 20-25 minutes more, until lightly browned. Cool in pan.
Hearty Breakfast Skillet
1/2 pound (8 ounces) bulk pork sausage (or 1 pound turkey sausage)
2 cups frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
1 can (10 ounces) diced tomatoes and green chilies, drained
1/2 pound (8 ounces) Velveeta cheese, cut up
2 tablespoons water
Brown sausage in large nonstick skillet on medium heat; drain. Add potatoes and tomatoes; cook 5 minutes or until potatoes are browned, stirring occasionally. Top with Velveeta.
Beat eggs and water with wire whisk; pour evenly over ingredients in skillet. Cover. Reduce heat to low.
Cook 10 to 12 minutes or until egg mixture is set in center and Velveeta is melted. Let stand, uncovered, 5 minutes before cutting into wedges to serve. Makes 6 servings.