The Lie: It will get easier when…

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(Ack!  Look at those little faces.  How were they so little?  And wasn’t this just yesterday?!)

I remember the day somebody looked me square in the face and told me that life wouldn’t always be like this.  They were right.  And they were so wrong.

I had 3 children in 3 1/2 years.  I was a mess of sleep deprived exhaustion.  I was busy just with the keeping everybody safe.  And fed.  And clothed in public.  (Let’s be honest, at home was a free for all!)  I was up to my eyeballs in changing diapers and picky eaters and judgy stares from people watching my youngest dramatically fall on to his stomach and flail his arms and legs in the middle of a parking lot.  Tantrums were a real thing with this one.  Who knew that they weren’t easily curbed.  My pre-children self knew.  My mothering self knew the truth.

The sentiments are right and true.  They do grow up so fast.  It won’t always be like this.  There will come a day when you can sleep in on a Saturday morning and run out to get groceries without your cart being full of children.  Diapers will be a distant memory, as will the worry over them eating enough, learning to print their name and praying to the Lord above that they will use their manners and not hit or bite anyone when they’re in a social setting.

Those days are long gone, for sure.  The work of those days, the drain that comes from constant discipline and correction, yeah those are over.

But don’t be deceived, the job is far from over.  Only now it’s a choice, not a necessity.

They can do so much on their own but the thing is, I don’t want them to and so the work is not any less.  The time required has not changed.  The thought put in equally as great.  The physical drain is less, the emotional, more.

It’s interesting that at the age my boys are (teens and pre-teens) parents seem to find a new freedom.  They take up hobbies that they once couldn’t enjoy for lack of time.  They head out for dates or coffees or rounds of golf sans children.  They embark on personal adventures or goals because the need to be around to feed and change your children is gone.

I understand this.  I’ve felt it.  I’ve taken some of it on.  But I’ve also realized that there are moments when it’s gone too far and I’ve had to pull it back.  The freedom is lovely but too much freedom can be detrimental for our teens.

Don’t get me wrong, I love that I can head out for a run at any old time.  I can meet a girlfriend for coffee at the drop of a hat.  I can answer yes to the request to get in an afternoon hike.  I can catch a movie with my husband.  I can shop the afternoon away.  I CAN do all of those things.  But the question comes into play, should I?
Because if I am doing all of those things, what are my kids doing?  (and let’s be clear, they ARE still kids!)

Well, most of the time it means that they’re home by themselves.  Feeding themselves.  Entertaining themselves.  Mending squabbles between siblings by themselves.  Being free to govern their use of technology by themselves.  Engaging in text message conversations by themselves.  Accepting amazon deliveries at the door by themselves.

All of these things, in and of themselves, are good things.  They need to do them.  To learn them.  To become more independent.  But there has to be a limit on the amount that this is good for them.

So if I do 3 things in any given day, that’s hours spent home alone.  A run, coffee and groceries?  Adds up to 4 hours of alone.  A movie and dessert?  4 hours of alone.  A single hike?  3 hours of alone.

So while these are days of more freedom I’m very conscious of the fact that more freedom for me means more freedom for them and I question whether freedom is what I want for 11, 12 and 14 year olds.

The answer for our family is no.  Moments of freedom, yes.  Hours and hours of daily freedom?  No.

Parenting in this phase of the game, while different, is intense work and it’s easy to not want to put the hours in anymore simply because you don’t have to.  Because they don’t need you in the vital, survival sense of the word need.  Or so we think.

But if you make the choice for your family to stay intensely involved, believe me, the constant and the busy of the toddler years carries on.

It’s driving miles that you never believed you could clock.  It’s waiting outside of events, movie theatres, in parking lots and on driveways for them to come out.  It’s engaging your teen in conversation on these drives about who they’re hanging out with, what they’re doing and whether there may be alcohol involved.  Sure, the rides could be blissful moments of silent but if you want to know your teen then there has to be a level of conscious prying :)

It’s adventure driven.  My boys are no longer thrilled with the swings at the park (Mama’s, I use to cringe at having to push and push and push on the swing too, but in hindsight?  Piece of cake.)  I use to just be able to find a patch of grass and they could run, or be entertained by bubbles or a hula hoop.  But the stakes have been raised.  We not only need a body of water but one that has rocks to dive off of.  We can’t just sit on the beach anymore but we need kayaks to paddle out to islands and boats to pull us up on the wake board.  We don’t just need the yard and the cul-de-sac but we need skate parks and baseball diamonds and mountains with fresh powder.  The adventure level of teenage boys is substantial, I assure you!  Do we NEED to do these things?  No.  But will they seek adventure in whatever way they can find it?  Yes.  And we prefer it to be with us than through cheap thrills like sneaking beers or smoking joints.

It’s hormone riddled.  Remember when your toddler made you want to pull your hair out because they could cry and then laugh and then stomp away all in a matter of 3 minutes?  Right.  Welcome to being in grade 10.  Surely you remember being in grade 10.  You were all manner of cool, I suspect, but to your parents you were borderline toddler.  There are mood swings that make no sense even to the teen.  The waffle from down in the dumps to laughing hysterically at some youtube nonsense is constant.  The feeling of boredom mixed with fleeting crushes and not being understood is intense.  Living and breathing and interacting with this creature takes constant prayer, perfected timing and an amazing sense of humour.

That said, we wouldn’t change it for anything.  The work you put in early on helps your teens to become people that you actually enjoy.  Kids that you love hanging out with.  Humans that you are pleased to spend your days with and that’s really important.  I can’t imagine not liking the people who live under the same roof as I do.

This is just the stage we’re at and because I see how the work doesn’t lessen, just changes, I can only assume the same to be true in future stages.  I can see how it becomes more and more of a choice and less of a necessity but if we want to stay connected to our children then it will take constant adjustments, new levels of engagement, knowing them well enough to be able to serve them well and time.  So much time.

I can’t imagine the new ways we’ll have to discover once they head off to University or move across the world.  I imagine when they marry it’ll change again and once they have children it will become more about how we can involve ourselves in their new realms instead of assuming that they want to be involved in ours.  I believe that at all stages of parenting it takes work.  Whether its making a meal on a Sunday afternoon so that the grandkids will all want to come over or taking time to write letters or send gifts or hanging out at some coffee shop that you feel completely out of your element in, so as to be able to spend time with them, it all takes work.  Living intentionally always does and I think it’s worth it!

**other posts in The Lie Series here:  The Lie: Life will be better when…

I believe.

I believe….

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I believe in opening the windows on rainy days to hear the sound of drops falling.  I believe creativity ignites passion.  I believe that white walls were not only intended for hospitals or veterinarian offices.  I believe in emotion plus logic.  I believe that a mason jar can be used for pretty much everything.  I believe that parenting never gets easier, it only changes.  I believe that the easy way is not the best way.  I believe that facebook has the power to sway our emotions for good and for evil.  I believe that no matter how bad it is for them, teen boys need to wear deodorant.  I believe that breathing the air of the ocean and hearing the roar of its waves is the cheapest form of therapy.  I believe in therapy.  I believe there is beauty in everything if we look close enough, from the wrinkles we dislike around our eyes to the endless beige of the desert.  I believe in honesty.  I believe that the deepest friendships come from sharing both the joys and sorrows of life.  I believe that accidentally hitting a key in imessage and leaving a friend with hours of just 3 dots in a bubble on their screen is a form of torture.  I believe that mismatched patterns make for the coziest looking beds.  I believe in imperfection.  I believe that the smell of an old book makes the words that much richer.  I believe in stripes.  I believe the weirder the better.  I believe that truth will set you free.  I believe that people can change.  I believe that the best memories come from the simplest moments.  I believe that tone changes everything.  I believe I am exactly where I’m supposed to be.  I believe in face to face conversation.  I believe in hand-written notes and mail sent with a stamp.  I believe that your quirks are the best part of you.  I believe that the things that make us the most mad are the things that we need to dive into.  I believe your story won’t surprise me, no matter what it involves.  I believe His power is made perfect in weakness, not in strength.  I believe that you all would be so rad to have coffee with, every single one of you!

It takes a village to raise a child and we’re so thankful for our tribe!

There was a time where I just figured that my children would be a bit more like me.  I mean, I spend the most time with them and thus have the most influence, it only made sense.  I naively assumed that they would enjoy the things I enjoy, have the laid back, let’s just hop in the car and go, attitude I have and be super interested in having all things clean and organized.  Because, you know, I do!

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(This one is a bit like me.  Seen organizing the shoe closet.  *swoon*)

Let me tell you this couldn’t be further from the truth.

The older my kids get the more I realize they are, without a doubt, their own individual human beings.  I know this probably doesn’t come as a shock to you more realistic sort but it truly does to me.

My boys are now 14 (but so close to 15 he can taste it), 12 and 11.  And, well, they’re boys, so they are about as opposite to me as you can get.

This is why I decided a long time ago that it takes a village to raise a child.  I absolutely can not do it by myself.  They operate and learn in ways that I don’t, they are interested in things that I know nothing about and they simply have a different drive than I do.  One is encouraged by reward, another by praise and another simply happy with his own progress, no matter what the world thinks.  It’s all just a bit much for one mama to have a grasp on, amiright?

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(The boy who thinks farming is rad learned how to hang dry garlic.  Skillz.)

My youngest boy is a few things I’m not.  He’s an overachiever, he’s highly ambitious and he pushes himself to the point of exhaustion.

I, on the other hand, am super fine with being mediocre, feel like I’ll get things done when I can and when the going gets hard, well, I’m totally fine with slowing the sprint to a meander and photographing the flowers along the way.

So how do I keep this boy challenged?  How do I give him what he needs in terms of pushing himself when I’m fine to tell him to slow down?  How do I help him to achieve his goals when I’m thinking a smoothie break might be better?

I enlist the village.

Over the years we’ve strived to find people who will help pour into our children.  I assure you this is a difficult task.  For one, we haven’t placed our boys in regular sports programs where they would have a coach pour into them for a few reasons, but most of all because they were never into regular sports.  Second of all, it’s difficult because everyone is dang busy!  So finding someone who is willing to mentor your child in something (for pay or not!) is hard!

It’s also super important to us that the people who our boys are under the direction of are good citizens of this world.  That’s not too much to ask, is it?

Well, it could be when your boys just want to skateboard and snowboard and make movies and shoot things.  The challenge with ‘alternative’ sports and activities is hard!

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(Skate camp by the nicest, most encouraging skater I’ve ever seen)

Thankfully we’ve found a small village over time.  We’ve discovered programs and mentors that work for our children.  We’ve found arty sorts who will invite a boy to help him on his next video shoot and we’ve found camp leaders who are thrilled to have a boy lead groups beside them and we’ve found skateboarders who are kind and encouraging and push my sweaty headed boy to no end.

We are so grateful for this tribe.  We are so thankful when people are willing to take on a child that is not their own and pour into them.  We couldn’t feel more blessed by each one.

Our boys learn so much from these people, more than I could ever teach them.  They find out that the world doesn’t operate just like Mom and that’s okay.  They learn to take direction and guidance from people other than their parents and hopefully they learn the importance of  pouring back into others one day too!

Can we all just agree that this raising kids things is hard?  And we need each other?  And where we have gifts and talents that we can share with the next generation we should?

I think so.  My boys know so.  They wouldn’t be who they are if the people in our village had said no.

The view through a different lens

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Prostitution.  Murder.  Adultery.  Lies.  Betrayal.  Drunkenness.

Sound like an episode of your favourite series on Netflix?

Yup!   It also sounds exactly like the Bible and you don’t even have to make it all the way through season 1.  These are all covered in just the first book.  It puts House of Cards to shame, does it not?

I remember when I was a little girl I thought that people who smoked could never be right with God.  I assumed a beer in the fridge at the house I babysat meant that those people clearly were heading straight for hell.  I was a by-product of growing up in the church and thinking that life had to look a certain way in order to be used by God.  In order to be in right standing with Him.  In order for him to nod your way or pat you on the head and hail you as good enough.

I still can’t fathom how I didn’t see it.  It’s plain as day right there in the scriptures.  Page after page of horrific behaviour.  Story after story of debauchery and sin.  Life after life of poor decisions and self-serving motives and downright evil!

Oh, and did I mention that these were the actions of the people of God?  Because they were.

My mind instantly likes to think that these were the bad guys.  The ones who God used as an example of how not to live.  The drunkards and the thieves  and the sexually immoral, these must be the ones God will strike down with a word.  The stories that should scare us away from this sort of behaviour and right into a life of trying to be good enough.

But no.  These were God’s people.  His chosen.  The ones listed in Hebrews as heroes of faith!

Heard of a guy named Noah?  Sure.  Because, by faith Noah, after he was warned about what was not yet seen and motivated by godly fear, built an ark to deliver his family .(Hebrews 11:7)  But he was also found passed out, naked and drunk. (Genesis 9:20)

How about Abraham?  By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and went out to a place he was going to receive as an inheritance. He went out, not knowing where he was going. (Hebrews 11:8)  But he was also a repeat liar, choosing to speak untruths and drag his wife into it with him because he was scared.  (Genesis 20:12)

Moses?  By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter and chose to suffer with the people of God rather than to enjoy the short-lived pleasure of sin. (Hebrews 11:24-25)  Need I mention this was after he straight up killed a man?  (Exodus 2:12)

Before us women start feeling a bit self-righteous in it all perhaps I should mention Rahab the prositute?  Or Sarah?  Who laughed at God and in so doing basically called him a liar?

I see now, so many years later, what I didn’t as a child.  I see that I can’t point a finger at these people and deem them ‘bad’.  I see that I can’t judge their lives and damn them to hell.  I see that I can’t scoff and shake my head and feel pity on them for just not seeing the right way.  I can’t build myself up for being better than them.  I can’t self-righteously look at them and wish they had just made the wise decisions that I have in my life.

Christian pity is a deadly game.  It creates an us vs. them mentality, all the while breeding arrogance and judgement.

What I see now is so different.  It’s incredible to me how much a new lens changes the entire view and casts a new light on it all.   I see that I AM these people.  I am the liar and the cheater and the mocker of God.  I am the one who makes things up because I’m scared.  I am the murderer and the adulterer and the prostitute.  I am the drunkard and the thief.

I am no different.  I am no better.

Each day I sin against a Holy and righteous God and each day I plead for forgiveness.  Each day He welcomes me back into His arms.  Each day He holds me close and though I fall on my knees proclaiming how unworthy I am, He wipes me clean.

And let’s be clear, I am unworthy.  As was Moses and Abraham and Sarah and David.  Sinners, the lot of us.  Never good enough.  Never strong enough.  Never with enough will-power to muscle our way through.

When we see this in ourselves, that we can’t hold ourselves in higher esteem, that we can’t point a finger, that we can’t look in disgust at the actions of another because we are just the same, it’s then that we can understand grace and forgiveness.  It’s then that we can see that we didn’t earn our way here by not drinking or smoking or stealing.  It’s only by the mercy of Jesus that any of us are forgiven, the murderers, the adulterers, the liars and cheats.  In short, you and me.

Nothing is too big for Him.  No sin is too grand.  No life too lost.  No heart too far away.

All are worthy of dignity and love in an upside-down kingdom

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It’s been a weird week.  It’s left my face scrunchled up trying to figure it out.  I’ve realized that I can’t, though.  Cause some weeks just are what they are and it’s better to just let ‘em roll.

I’ve always thought that I needed order.  Stability.

I’ve always thought that I thrive on routine.  Rhythmic days.  Moving to the tick of the clock.

It was only a few short years ago that we kicked all that to the curb.  The plans and the ideals and the certain way of doing things.  Upon looking back, it seems ages ago that we threw up our hands and fell on our knees and gave it all up.  The job.  The home.  The security of knowing how we were going to pay bills.  But it only seems ages ago because so much happens when you decide to stop deciding and follow paths that seem sort of crazy.

I’m so thankful for weeks like this when I’m reminded that I couldn’t make this stuff up.  There is no way on the planet I could orchestrate the life that happens to us.  Noone would jot this stuff down on their 10 year plan and yet here we are, living it and loving it more than any list that could proclaim ‘bigger house, more vacations and moving up the corporate ladder’.

It may not look like much, I assure you.  From the outside it’s just people.  Just interactions.  But to me it’s relationship and connection and seeing Christ in all and I can’t help but be humbled that he would allow me the moments I have.

I met the deputy health minister of our great province.  I brought my son along because, heck, why not.  It’s not every day you meet deputy’s of anything.  I was nervous because I assumed she was fancy and I’m not fancy and I just wanted to hide behind my racks of used clothing and do what I do at the youth clinic instead of shaking hands and hob nobbing the way fancy sorts do.

Schmoozing is not my forte.  Small talk doesn’t look pretty on me.  It looks like cats getting caught ready to dig up your flower bed, all wide eyed and frozen.  I nod alot.  And agree alot.  And then nod some more, all the while thinking, “Is this almost over?  And does my face look frozen?” So I was worried about the impressing of the fancy person and feeling insecure about my lack of fancy and I figured I’d just stay in my little room with laid out shoes and non-perishables and maybe it would all go away.

And then she pulled in on her motorcycle.

I could have smacked myself in the head because I always forget. Just because people have a title and drive and have accomplished big things in their life doesn’t mean they want to sit around and have their ego’s stroked and be told how wonderful  they are for doing all that they do.

Most often I find that they are really just commited and driven people who have a passion for something and have worked damn hard to accomplish it.  Most often I find that the title means very little to them and is merely a way for them to take what they do to the next level.

So as I shook her hand and explained that I have the privilege of giving clothing and food and dishes and stuff (your stuff, I might add!) to the youth in our community who are in need, she simply smiled and nodded and asked questions about how this works.

And within 3 minutes she was off to the next person talking to them about what they do.

Fast forward 2 days and I find myself on a park bench chatting with a lovely aboriginal woman who use to sleep in this very park.  She had a beautiful smile and such a warmth to her voice but her arms told a tale of life lived hard.

I use to be afraid of people who had lived hard.  Afraid that they would lash out at me for having a seemingly cushy life.  Afraid that they would judge me because I have lip gloss and a place to sleep.

But I’ve learned not to be afraid of marks and bruises because I have a few myself.  Sure, they may not be right out there on the surface of my skin but I assure you, they’re there.

Moments later I’m approached by a man who tells me how pretty I am.  How my eyes sparkle.  How someone told him there would be free food there, at the park, and he couldn’t find it.  Could I help him find it?

And I’m torn between the feelings of meeting fancy people and meeting a woman with scars so real and wanting to help a man find food but being wise enough to the human condition to know that the one he’s calling pretty and sparkly is probably not the one who should take him for dinner. I’m torn because the humans I meet are all the same.  Deputy’s and women with scars and men who need food.  We all have marks and scars and insecurities and bruises.

But I’m torn for a second between kindness and personal safety and I whisper a prayer in my head.

It’s then that our lovely conversation shifts and he asks if my husband is here and I shake my head no with a polite smile.  The words that come out of his mouth next are honey and his hand reaches over too near to my shoulder and I move aside and look him straight in the eye and tell him, with strength and with dignity, that he may not touch me, I belong to another.  I tell him to have a lovely evening and that he may go now and I politely use my no thank-you’s when he tries to shake my hand.

The places I find myself are beyond my dreams.  Meeting important people in our government system and meeting beautiful women with scars and meeting men who have misplaced notions of what is appropriate and all the while God is telling me, “I made them.  They are mine.”

So I can’t be scared of the fancy or of the man or of the scars.  They are his and they bear his image and that might sometimes be hard to see but my heart screams out that they are his image bearers and whatever we say and whatever we do to all of them is what we do unto Him.

I can’t believe I have the honour of interacting with this diverse a crowd within a matter of days.  I’m thankful that the rhythm of our life doesn’t hold us to a certain crowd or stigma.  I’m thankful that my circle doesn’t include people that simply look and sound and dress like me.  Doesn’t lock us into being only in certain situations with people who, in this world, are deemed important.   They’re all important.  Each one.  The one with the title no more so than the man who doesn’t know boundaries.  By the worlds standards they aren’t even comparable but to God, they’re both his.

The upside down kingdom life is my favorite.  You never know where it will lead.

 

Why I Don’t Want My Life to Look Like Stucco’d Walls

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“It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it.”  -Tozer

I’m not really a paint your nails girl.  I sometimes pretend that I am and I choose a colour from my collection of 4 nail polish bottles, all roughly the same tone, but in different brands and I think, “I can do this!”  I curl up in comfies on the couch and set to the painting and I marvel at the change.  How simply sliding that brush right over top of my nail creates a whole new thing.  It’s prettier and sometimes sparklier and makes my hands look so different!

It never fails though.  I paint my nails in the evening and it doesn’t seem to matter how long I wait before I fall asleep, when I rouse in the morning my nails are all bumpy and grooved from the texture of the blankets.  The slight lines in the surface are testament to the fact that I didn’t wait long enough and I always wonder if this could be a look.  Like stucco’d walls.  Can I pull this off?  (Seriously, I think this every. time)

It only takes a few seconds before I realize that the bed sheet look isn’t a look and I wonder why I even bother.  I remember that I’m not really a paint your nails girl and yet twice a year I get suckered.  Trying to be someone I’m not.  Trying to change my exterior to prettier and sparklier.

Turns out when you try to cover up what you really are it is to no lasting effect.

I wonder why we’re never content with who we’re created to be.  Why we look at someone else and see stars in our eyes and want to be like that.  Why we think that who they are is better than what we are and so we slide the little brush dripping with paint over our lives and we marvel at how great we look with the change.

We pat ourselves on the back for how pretty and sparkly we are.  We gaze in the mirror repeatedly and constantly display this new look, this new thing, this way we are and it feels pretty great.

But the truth of it is, if we’re not being who God created us to be, you, me, him,  sister over there and there and there, then it can’t last.

It’s a cover-up.  A fraud.  A shiny coating over the truth of the matter which is that we are called to die to our self and live only in Him.

And it’s when we try to be something we’re not, try to be something we weren’t made for, that we wake up with lines all over ourselves, wrecked from the trying.

We can get the bottle out and apply another coat, of course.  We can smooth it all out with a bit of effort and time.  But it never lasts, sister.  It never lasts.

It’s only when we strip off all that we think we want to be, all the flash that we think we need, all the “I want to be like her’s”, that we can truly let God show us who He’s called us to be.

Some of us need to start picking away at the layers of me.  Let them simply chip  and fall away.  Others of us need to get out a cotton ball and the toxic smelling remover and scrub and scrub and scrub until we get to the bottom.  The fresh and raw.  The natural and simple.

It’s only when we rid ourselves of ourselves that God can take his position.  It’s only when we give up the thoughts and ideals and who we think we are’s and this is what makes me me’s, that we can allow Him to be responsible for the shine.

And I know that the sparkle and shine of a life lived in Him is the most beautiful thing there is.

It’s more lovely than the polish and more amazing than the glitter and it’s longer lasting than anything we can doctor up and it doesn’t ever end up with blanket lines from slumber.

 

Sugar-free Jam?! What?!

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Before this summer making jam wasn’t on my repertoire of things to do.  It seemed like a daunting task.  A full day in a steamy kitchen, sweating and smelling of raspberries just didn’t seem like my idea of a good time.   I know, shocker.

I do love me some jam though and my eldest son consumes it in a similar fashion to the time we saw the lion feeding at the zoo.  His eyes get slightly glazed over and there may or may not be some grunting involved.

So when I learned that there was a way to make Jam that didn’t have to involve 17 hours of work, I was curious.

When I learned that there was a way to can jam without having all of the fancy pants pots, I leaned in a bit and started to eavesdrop.

But it wasn’t until I heard the words sugar-free combined with delicious that my jaw dropped and I raised my hand and jumped up and down repeating, “pick me!  pick me!”

It seemed too good to believe but I knew I had to try it.  I don’t know about you  but I’m a visual learner.  It’s why my favourite recipes are ones that have lots of pictures in the cook book!  The pages with no pictures?  Skip right by ‘em.

So when my friend offered to come over and make it with me I knew life couldn’t get much better than that.

Being taught in person by someone who knows well?  Amazing.

Being able to produce something awesome while chatting and stirring together in a kitchen?  Triple amaze.

I kid you not this is the most amazing jam I have ever tasted.  It also contains not one stitch of added sugar, though of course there are naturally occuring sugars.  And if I told you it only takes an hour would you believe me?  Because it does.  One. Hour.

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I arrived home from the berry farm at 8:30 am and spent the next 10 minutes washing the berries.  So far I’ve made strawberry, raspberry and blueberry. The strawberries are the only ones you have to slice up – so that might take an extra few minutes.  The raspberries and blueberries are fine to use whole.

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Measure out 12 cups of berries and dump them into a largish pot on the stove.

Grate up a green (granny smith!) apple, peel and all, and chuck it into the pot!

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Note: the apple must be green as they have the highest levels of naturally occuring pectin, especially near the center of the apple.  This is your natural Certo!  No more icky preservatives or chemicals under the guise of ‘natural flavours’ entering our jam, thank you very much!  If you like a thicker jam you can add 2 apples.  I did with my raspberries but not my blueberries so we can also use it more like a runnier syrup!

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Squeeze the juice of one lemon and add it to your berries.  I also like to grate the peel finely and add the zest in because in my opinion you can never get enough lemon zest!

Next, measure out one and a half cups of honey.  The local-er and more organic-er the better!  Put that into your berry pot and you are ready to cook!

I cooked mine over medium heat adjusting the temperature slightly along the way to avoid any unsightly boil-over.  As the berries heat up they’ll start to liquify and you want to get a good boil going.  Once that happens, turn the temperature down a bit but still having a rolling bubble.

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Set your timer for 45 minutes and stir at random.  If your berries aren’t breaking down as much as you’d like you can either use the potato masher to mush ‘em or a handheld blender does the trick too.  Depends if you like your jam on the smoother side or with some nice berry chunks in it.

Your jam will start to reduce and thicken and will literally taste like heaven.  After the 45 minutes it should be done!  The most amazing jam you will ever taste and it contains zero added sugar, is completely natural and as organic as the ingredients you choose to add are!

There you have it.  One hour, amazing result, and a great thing to keep your people happy throughout the year!

**I obviously haven’t included the ‘canning’ process here as there are a bazillion youtube videos about that.  however, if you’d like a rhonda tutorial on my simple ways without large pots or fancy racks, let me know!

Making jam is my new jam!  (ha ha too much?!)