Preserving Tradition

I have wonderful memories of holiday meals with my extended family. We would all gather for every major holiday–Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter–and most of the minor holidays–Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and often Independence Day.

The faces at the table changed over time. Babies came, loved ones passed, and new husbands or wives appeared. Always present, though, was the love for each other. And the Southern Maryland Stuffed Ham.

When Ken and I got married, I insisted on a complete, traditional Southern Maryland fall menu. That had to include stuffed ham. My Dad and my grandmother spent days making enough stuffed ham for 300 people. Ken’s Eastern Shore relatives never again saw holidays meals the same way. Each time we returned from Thanksgiving or Christmas at my Mom’s house, Ken’s family asked, “Did you bring back any stuffed ham?”

Looking back, I’m amazed that Dad and Gram pulled off this feat for my wedding. Stuffed Ham is not your average meat.

If you look closely at the Thanksgiving picture above, you will see the stuffed ham in the middle of the table. “What’s all that green stuff?” you may ask. That, my friend, is the stuffing. It’s not your average stuffing made of some kind of bread and mild spices. This ham is stuffed with a bushel of fresh, leafy kale and a boatload of hot, savory spices. It’s unlike anything you’ve had before, and unlike anything you will have anywhere other than St. Mary’s County, Maryland (yes, Charles County and a small area of Virginia have their own versions of stuffed ham, but it’s not the same) and small parts of Kentucky to which early Marylanders migrated.

While the dish itself is one of the most unique you could ever have, it’s the process and the history that really make this truly different and special.

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Are You Simply a Human Doing?

Lately, I see so many people, particularly young people, desperately trying to figure out who they are.

Most people can’t answer the simple question, who are you?

Morgan the Good Sister

When asked, the majority of people would probably respond, I am so-and-so’s mother, daughter, son, cousin, husband, etc. OR they would respond, I’m a doctor or a teacher or an accountant… The list goes on. But do those answers truly answer the question? At the core of your being, are you someone’s wife, mother, teacher, or nurse?

WHO ARE YOU REALLY?

It seems that people of all ages are still trying to find the answer…

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Sisters in Faith, Love, and Grace

It’s been almost six years now since I first walked on the holy ground of Israel where I met the people who would come to be major players in my game of life. I still can’t believe the many gifts and blessings I received on that pilgrimage and the countless ones I’ve received since then.

2016 Pilgrims
Jan and Amy on the Sea of Galilee

In 2018, one of my pilgrim family members, Jan, invited me to go on a second pilgrimage to the Holy Land planned for February of 2019.

I eagerly accepted her invitation and extended the offer to my sister-in-law, Lisa. That trip forever changed our relationship, making us true sisters in marriage, love, and faith. Since our return, rarely a day goes by that Lisa doesn’t check in on me to send her love and tell me she’s praying for me (she’s a much better sister than I am as I’m terrible at reaching out to people). Those texts mean more to me than she will ever know.

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A Past and A Future

A couple days ago, something I was working on with a friend reminded me of this story.

Michelangelo's David

When my girls were younger (our oldest, Rebecca, was between her junior and senior years of high school), we visited Italy. Rebecca asked her friends what she could bring back to them, and one of them said, “Find me the perfect Italian man, and convince him to come back to me.” We kidded the whole time about guys that we passed and how we would fit them into our suitcases; but when we went to the Academia and Rebecca saw Michelangelo’s David and heard of how the artist painstakingly worked on the marble wonder, making every muscle, tendon, and appendage absolutely perfect, she was entranced. She went right outside and bought two little statues from a street vendor, one for her friend and one for herself. When we got home, all her girlfriends went crazy over it and thought it was the funniest thing ever–that Rebecca had found the perfect man in Italy. Since then, I have never been able to gaze at that statue without thinking of David as the perfect male specimen!

Alas, David was far from perfect.

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How To Stop Living in Fear

Halloween week is upon us, the week when everyone wants to experience a healthy dose of fear. We dress up in scary costumes and parade our kids around after dark, visiting haunted houses and homes decorated like graveyards with spooky sounds drifting from open windows.

There’s something about being afraid, whether it’s while watching a scary movie (I’m a sucker for another viewing of Halloween) or participating in a ghost tour, that gives us an exhilarating thrill. But being in a constant state of fear is not the way we are meant to live our lives.

I’ve written before about the passages in the Bible which implore and even demand that we have no fear and about not letting fear to stop you from living, but I think it warrants repeating. There is something wrong, even dangerous, in allowing fear to have power over us and the way we live.

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Brownies – Good for the Body and the Soul

I am a brownie person, and I’ve raised brownie-loving girls! It’s not unusual for me to come down in the morning (when the girls are home) to find a batch of brownies on the kitchen counter–half-eaten of course! On the other hand, I’ve come down to peanut butter cookies, oatmeal no-bake cookies, and cakes in assorted colors (the green cake with blue icing looked so awful that even the baker–whose reputation I will protect–didn’t even eat it!

My sister-in-law, Lisa, makes wonderful brownies, and I never turn her down when she offers to bake them for any family occasion. And who doesn’t love brownies topped with ice cream like the delicious ones my mother made the last Christmas we were all together?


Alas, I’m on this anti-inflammatory diet, so brownies are off the menu, or they were…

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Rosie the Wonder Dog

Wonder Dog

When I was a child, I loved watching Super Friends every Saturday morning. It was my favorite of all the Saturday morning cartoons, and I have fond memories of lying on our basement floor, wrapped in a blanket, while following the adventures of Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Superman, and the rest of the superheroes. Two of the characters had a dog names Wonder Dog who often helped the crew foil their enemies. Wonder Dog could not speak, but he did have a knack for alerting his humans, Marvin and and Wendy, when danger lurked or when clues were nearby. He communicated through barks, gestures, and even his own form of charades. He always seemed to be one step ahead of his humans.

Those who have been following me lately know that we recently rescued a puppy. Luna is quite active, and to be honest, pretty bad! She truly thinks she’s a circus dog, bouncing and bounding across the floors, furniture, and even walls like they are all part of a giant trampoline park. She chews everything in sight from Rosie’s toys and bones to my throw pillows and even the baseboards along the walls! She’s too smart for her own good and often ends up getting herself and my poor Rosie in trouble. They’ve become the best of friends, and Luna is really lucky to have Rosie for a big sister. In fact, we’ve discovered that we’re all extremely lucky to have Rosie around…

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Reassess Your Gift-Giving

I read this morning that Amazon, Target, and other retailers are having “Black Friday-worthy” sales all this month to encourage everyone to do their Christmas shopping while supplies last. According to the financial newsletter The Morning Brew (which I read faithfully every morning even though I know nothing about finance), “Factories in Asia have been closed due to Covid lockdowns, shipping containers are harder to find than a heat lamp, and companies are struggling to hire workers to staff ports and drive trucks.”

I read this and thought, would it be so terrible if people weren’t able to spend hundreds, even thousands, of dollars on Christmas presents?

Would it be so terrible if all those toys and other items coming from China and Taiwan weren’t available in American stores this year?

Would it be so terrible if kids were *gasp* limited in the amount of presents they receive on Jesus’s (not their own) birthday?

I shake my head and think…

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Be Cured of Your Affliction

For the past few weeks, at the urging of my nursing student daughter, I’ve been seeing a chiropractor for the persistent pain in my lower back. After a three-hour consultation but before treatments began, the doctor sent me for a series of x-rays. I think I had more x-rays done that morning than all of the other trips to the radiologist over 51 years combined. I commented on this, and the tech laughed and said, “Yes, Dr. Roberts like to be very thorough.” So thorough, in fact, that on my return visit, Dr. Roberts went over every single inch of every x-ray, pointing out the arthritis here, the degenerative discs there, the minor scoliosis at the top and bottom of my spine, and many other irregularities that resulted from a lifetime of untreated injuries.

Many of the things that were pointed out to me came of no surprise. I’ve had lower back spasms and pain (sometimes excruciating) for about thirty years, and I’ve suffered from upper back pain for about five years. What did surprise me was all of the trauma he identified at the base of my skull and in my neck. I have pain and stiffness there that I didn’t even know I had…

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Acts of Kindness

This past weekend, I attended the Abbey Faith and Music Fest in Malvern, Pennsylvania, with my daughter, Katie, as a vendor. I’m pretty sure Katie would like to have been somewhere else, but we’d been planning on going for a while, and I knew I’d need help with sales, so she went with me without complaint. It was long day, beginning with a two-and-a-half hour drive from home that put us at the event shortly before 9am. It was a fun ride with Katie playing music and talking non-stop about which songs on Taylor’s latest album are her favorites. It was much better than the unplanned ride home after a dreadful hotel experience, but that’s a different story!

After we arrived at the abbey and got set up, Katie recognized her former RA from her sophomore year of college sitting in a tent across from us. They hugged and reminisced and talked about how much they loved sharing the same floor that semester. It was a great surprise for Katie, and I’m so happy the two reconnected. Just as nice as that meeting was the chance to meet and talk to young author, Sara Francis, with whom Katie hit it off immediately and promptly bought all three of her dystopian novels!

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