Bold with Strength

Until June, Wednesday nights means separating from Nathan and heading to the hospital where I chaplain over night. This is a blessing, really, because Wednesday nights are not as busy so I do get some sleep, and because it is gracious of them to let me get my hours in the evenings and early mornings so I can still work.

It is hard and sad, but a temporary season, and the work I love.

I do not know how I got so blessed to work in such good places.

Specifically, that I am in environments that include playing outside as part of my job. Look here, how this Spring for which I have long awaited, is so near!

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Those are buds on the trees in a park!

I know, metaphorically and literally, that February and March still have more winter to bring, but today was gorgeous! It feels good to be well and healthy and happy. I soaked in every moment I could.

I could have spent lunch hour working, or doing homework, but my mission this year is pacing and self-care, right? It is critical this crazy semester, now more than ever. So I went back at lunch, are my hummus and lentil crackers and a can of spinach and a can of v8, and then just walked. It was glorious.

Now begins my chaplain night, starting with free hospital food for dinner. Tonight is tilapia wrapped sage stuffing that is kind of amazing, actually, with roasted potatoes and macaroni and cheese and a whole pile of green beans.

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Again, I could use the half hour to do homework or something else, but since I already got so much extra done this week, I decided to go with the pacing again. I let myself stop and actually eat, knowing it will be crazy until I finish at 10pm, with no idea of how much rest I will get in the night.

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Now, hours later, nearly 10pm, I am so glad I paced and rested while I could. The evening was intense, and there is no stopping from 6pm to 10pm. I got pages for patients to go see, had pages for advanced directives, had pages for patients dying and families grieving, pre-op rounds to do, and in between all that I visited patients in rooms and checked on families in waiting rooms. I walked nearly four miles, on top of my exercise in the morning and the walks I took during the day. I am so tired!

The best part of a really long day, even when filled with such sacred and holy moments and lunch and buds on trees and faithful families caring for loved ones while others kiss them goodbye?

Face timing with Nathan before bed, for our scripture study and prayer and catching up on our days.

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I miss him and the children, and am so grateful for technology to keep us connected on these long days. How did people do it when called off far away for missions in the old days, or for wars before there was technology?

Tonight was way less scary than last week, now that I know where to go and what to do. I am learning to feel a power come over me, that strong spirit, when a patient or family or staff asks me to pray for them, and I am finding courage to pray with those who family says the patient wants it, even when the patient cannot respond or participate and no one is there. My hands have closed the eyes of the dead, brushed the hair of the dying, and squeezed the shoulders of grieving loved ones. I have smelled the scent of burning flesh, heard the machines that force air into bodies whose spirits have already left, and felt the heaviness of the silence when those machines are finally turned off. I have been blessed by ancient ones, delighted by fighters on the oncology floor, and held an unfinished baby in my hand. This is what chaplains do.

I pray for sleep tonight, at least until pre-op rounds begin for same day surgery people at 5am.

My heart and mind are grateful for homework already done, so that as soon as my meeting is finished in the morning I can focus the rest of the week on my day job and my family – followed by my first ER weekend in almost a month. I count down the weeks of this impossible semester, three weeks already behind me, and grateful for taking each day as its own experience, and this lesson in pacing and caring for myself to get through it well… and in awe at the provision and protection that has come for getting us through this challenging assignment. Psalm 138:3 says:

In the day when I cried out,
You answered me,
and made me bold
with strength in my soul.

RS Lesson: Are We Not All Beggars? #ldsconf

The Stake Presidency has asked us this week to study Elder Holland’s talk from October 2014 conference, Are We Not All Beggars?

Elder Holland opens with:

“In what would be the most startling moment of His early ministry, Jesus stood up in His home synagogue in Nazareth and read these words prophesied by Isaiah and recorded in the Gospel of Luke…”

And then he quotes from Luke 4, to which I would like for us to go ahead and look at some verses following that as well. Let’s look at Luke 4, verses 18-21.

18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.
21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

This is serious stuff! It’s huge, really. Why is this a big deal?

Let’s talk about the Dead Sea Scrolls for a minute, specifically the 11QMelchizedek scroll. This is fascinating to me for several reasons. We had originally been assigned a different talk to study this week, and I had worked to prepare this lesson before the topic was changed just last week. I wondered how to prepare a whole new lesson, but had just studied this very text for another project, so had some things I could share today.

11QMelchizedek (11Q13) is one of hundreds of scrolls found in the Qumran caves near the Dead Sea in the 1950’s. This particular scroll was found by Bedouin in 1956 about two miles north of Khirbet Qumran in cave 11, along with 30 other scrolls (including the Leviticus and the Temple Scroll(1).

Please CLICK HERE to see the pictures of the fragments, as well as to zoom in on them for a closer look.

The 11Q13 text is a thematic pesher, or a Rabbinic midrash addressing several thematically related texts and interpreting them with reflection. In this case, 11Q13 reflects on Leviticus 25 about the Year of Jubilee, and interprets it considering Deuteronomy 15:2 and Isaiah 61:1-2.

If you CLICK HERE, you can see the remaining text we are able to read (in English) (2).

11QM13 begins with Leviticus 25:9-13 as the text, with direct reference to Deuteronomy 15:2. This describes the sabbatical year as being a time for the remission of debts, such as in the Leviticus 25 description of the Year of Jubilee. The phrasing is echoed, possibly deliberately on the part of the composer of the oracle, in Isaiah 61:1” (Brooke, p. 83). Then, this is interpreted through and applied to Isaiah 61:1-3, as a description of the ultimate jubilee as linked to “the end of the tenth jubilee period and initiated on the Day of Atonement”, which is the same connection made in the LXX (Septuagint) by counting each cycle as 49 years (Leviticus 25:8-11) to get to 490 years in ten cycles – which is the same as Daniel’s “seventy weeks” (70×7=490) (Daniel 9:24) (also see footnote in Brooke, p. 83).

This is actually the same text we find Jesus reading (Isaiah 61:1-3) in the synagogue at Nazareth. Brooke points out that the Luke 4 account of this story is actually a “conflation of Isaiah 61:1a, b, d, 58:6d, [and] 61:2a. The presence of this conflated text is one of the keys to appreciating how Luke may have intended an allusion to the jubilee material of Leviticus 25, even including its association with Deuteronomy 15:2” (p. 84). The periodization of history in all three texts (1 Enoch 10, 11Q13, and Luke) is similar and for understanding the genealogy of Luke these Jewish parallels disclose that Luke’s Jesus can be understood to belong at the end of the tenth jubilee period from Enoch.”
The significance of the 11Q13 text lies in the midrash itself. It points out the Torah’s emphasis on the Year of Jubilee, and emphasizes the releasing of debts. It is eschatological in nature, possibly, as it speaks of the full cycle of the years of Jubilee by pointing to the completion of the ninth Jubliee, in the first week of the tenth Jubilee, on the Day of Atonement, atonement will be made for “all the sons of light and the men of the lot of Melchizedek”.

The phrasing of the year of Jubilee appears significant. The phrase [בשנת היובל‏ [הזואת (In [this] year of jubilee) in verse 2 is quoted from Lev 25:13: “In this year of jubilee (בשנת היובל‏ הזואת) you shall return, every one of you, to your property.” It is also a year of approval, or grace, or favor (לשנת הרצון) as part of it being the tenth Jubilee. Fitzmyer (1967), wrote:

“In the course of the midrashic development the year of jubilee mentioned first in line 2 becomes “the last jubilee” (line 7), or “the tenth jubilee” (line 7, at the end). In other words, it seems to refer to the end of the 490 years, or “the seventy weeks of years” of Daniel 9:24-27. It is called the year of “release” (šmth) proclaimed for the Lord (lines 3-4) and of “liberation” (drr), such as was announced to the captives of Isaiah 61:1.”

Part of the drr, or liberation, includes the day of judgment, during which it appears that – either Melchizedek himself, or one with the priesthood after the pattern of Melchizedek, depending on your interpretation – that one with the Melchizedek priesthood will be “given a special role in the execution of divine judgment which is related a jubilee year” (Fitzmyer 1969, p. 29). This makes sense with the verse 13 description of the role as being that of carrying out the judgment decreed by God (ומלכי צ̇דק יקום נקם משפטי א[ל וביום ההואה). This idea seems confirmed by what appears to be a direct quote from Isaiah 52:7 in verses 15-16:

This… is the day (of peace which) he said (… through Isaiah) the prophet, who said: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, the messenger of good who announces salvation, saying to Zion: your God reins.”

Thus, “… in 11QMelchizedek the events of the tenth jubilee are explained through the atonement jubilee text of Leviticus 25:9-13 juxtaposed with allusions to Isaiah 61:1-3, the very text which Jesus claims is fulfilled as he speaks in the synagogue at Nazareth (Luke 4:18-21)” (Brooke, p. 131). It is altogether fitting that Yeshua, the Redeemer, would be so familiar with this midrash, and choose it for teaching when called upon at the synagogue in Nazareth. When He announces himself to be fulfilling the prophecy, He is also confirming the timing of it as described in the jubilee years. When Yeshua sits down and says, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing,” He is not only announcing Himself as Messiah, but also declaring the Jubilee: that the time of Redemption has arrived. This sets the tone for the entirety of His ministry, in which people are set free from that which keeps them in bondage: sickness, debts, and even death, culminating in the work of the atonement itself, even remission from both sin and mortality.

Elder Holland said in this talk:

“Thus the Savior made the first public announcement of His messianic ministry. But this verse also made clear that on the way to His ultimate atoning sacrifice and Resurrection, Jesus’s first and foremost messianic duty would be to bless the poor, including the poor in spirit.”

And that:

“Down through history, poverty has been one of humankind’s greatest and most widespread challenges. Its obvious toll is usually physical, but the spiritual and emotional damage it can bring may be even more debilitating. In any case, the great Redeemer has issued no more persistent call than for us to join Him in lifting this burden from the people. As Jehovah, He said He would judge the house of Israel harshly because “the spoil of the [needy] is in your houses.”

Elder Holland goes on to quote D&C 38:35, pointing out that we are actually commanded to make sure the people around us do not suffer:

“35 And they shall look to the poor and the needy, and administer to their relief that they shall not suffer;”

Elder Holland tells us a story from the life of Mother Theresa:

“A journalist once questioned Mother Teresa of Calcutta about her hopeless task of rescuing the destitute in that city. He said that, statistically speaking, she was accomplishing absolutely nothing. This remarkable little woman shot back that her work was about love, not statistics. Notwithstanding the staggering number beyond her reach, she said she could keep the commandment to love God and her neighbor by serving those within her reach with whatever resources she had. “What we do is nothing but a drop in the ocean,” she would say on another occasion. “But if we didn’t do it, the ocean would be one drop less [than it is].”

Elder Holland says that, “In addition to taking merciful action in their behalf, we should also pray for those in need.” He tells the story of the Zoramites (see Alma 32:22-3), who get kicked out of synagogue for being too shabby and a mess. Their question to Alma is about how to worship, when they cannot go to synagogue. Alma tells them to grow their faith, line upon line, and that this is worship. It brings us back to our Sunday School lesson from last week, when we looked at D&C 93 (see verses 11-20). The Savior grew “from grace to grace” until receiving the fullness. Their question was about where to worship, but their answer was how to worship and what they worship.
Going on to verse 36, we know that “The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth.” This is His work and glory (Moses 1:39): the process of bringing his children through the process of gaining intelligence until they reach a fullness. This is how we worship: by glorifying Him by working at making that progress as we work out our salvation as made possible by the atonement.

Part of our progress in receiving that fullness, in becoming like our Father, is providing opportunities for others to make the same progress. But that means inviting them, testifying to them, and not judging them for where they are in their progress thus far – anymore than we want to be judged in this very moment for our progress so far. It means we must stop finding reasons not to give to others. Elder Holland reminds us that: “King Benjamin says we obtain a remission of our sins by pleading to God, who compassionately responds, but we retain a remission of our sins by compassionately responding to the poor who plead to us” (see Mosiah 4:11-12, 20, 26). Part of our process, the very evidence that we are becoming like our Father, and that we are being transformed, is that we will do as He has done for us, as He would do if He were here, as He has commanded us to do for others. We must care for them as we are able.

Amulek says, “After [you] have [prayed], if [you] turn away the needy, and the naked, and visit not the sick and afflicted, and impart of your substance, if [you] have [it], to those who stand in need—I say unto you, … your prayer is vain, and availeth you nothing, and [you] are as hypocrites who do deny the faith” (see Alma 34:28).

In part, we do this through observing the Law of the Fast. Elder Holland said:

“I bear witness of the miracles, both spiritual and temporal, that come to those who live the law of the fast. I bear witness of the miracles that have come to me. Truly, as Isaiah recorded, I have cried out in the fast more than once, and truly God has responded, “Here I am.” Cherish that sacred privilege at least monthly, and be as generous as circumstances permit in your fast offering and other humanitarian, educational, and missionary contributions.”

Elder Holland closes with a reference to D&C 56:18-19. He says, “In an 1831 revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord said the poor would one day see the kingdom of God coming to deliver them “in power and great glory.” This is the same root meaning as the 11Q13 text, promising a Year of Jubilee, promising redemption and relief for all who suffer. “May we help fulfill that prophecy by coming in the power and glory of our membership in the true Church of Jesus Christ to do what we can to deliver any we can from the poverty that holds them captive and destroys so many of their dreams, I pray in the merciful name of Jesus Christ, amen”

 

Footnotes:

1.  Note that due to the small distance of this cave from the Qumran community site, some theorists believe the items in the cave may have been hidden away by those escaping Jerusalem, rather than actual texts used by those at Qumran.

2.  The complete Dead Sea scrolls in English by Géza Vermès (1997).

 

REFERENCES:

Astour, Michael C. 1992. “Melchizedek.” ABD IV: 685-88.

Brooke, G. 1992. “Melchizedek (11QMelch).” ABD IV: 687-88.

Brown, S Kent. “The Dead Sea Scrolls: A Mormon Perspective”, in “BYU Studies”, Vol 23,
Winter 1983, #1, pp. 56f

Charlesworth, James. The Dead Sea scrolls: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts vol.4 p7 – 1994
“Speculation about Melchizedek is attested at Qumran in Melchizedek (11Q13)”

Commentaries on Genesis, Psalms and Hebrews; for ancient works see W. Smith, A Dictionary
of the Bible, II (1863), 315.

Cullmann, O.The Christology of the New Testament (1959), 38ff.

Eskola, Timo. Messiah and the throne: Jewish Merkabah mysticism and early 2001 p140
“Melchizedek was also called Elohim (1 IQMelch. 25).48 The divine name of the angel here does not necessarily mean … Melchizedek is apparently quite special, since he will also be the one who saves people from the power of Belial.”

Fitzmyer, Joseph A. 1967. “Further Light on Melchizedek from Qumran Cave 11.” JBL 86/1:
25-41.

Fitzmyer, J.A. The Gospel According to Luke 1-1X: a new Translation with Introduction and
Commentary (AB 28; Garden City: Doubleday, 2nd edn, 1988), pp. 137-159.

Garcı́a Martı́nez, Florentino ; Tigchelaar, Eibert J. C.:The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition
(Translations). Leiden; New York : Brill, 1997-1998.

García Martínez, Florentino. Qumran and Apocalyptic: studies on the Aramaic texts from
Qumran 1992 p176 “11QMelchizedek This is a clearly eschatological Hebrew fragment”

Horton, F. L. The Melchizedek Tradition (SNTSMS 30; Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1976): 167-170.

Johnson, A. R. Sacral Kingship in Ancient Israel (1955), 31-46, 120-122.

Kobelski, P.J. Melchizidek and Melchiresa (CBQMS 10; Washington: Catholic Biblical
Association of America, 1981), 115-129.

M. De Jonge and A. S. Van Der Woude (1966). 11Q Melchizedek and the New Testament. New
Testament Studies, 12, pp 301-326.

M. de Jonge and A. S. van der Woude, “11Q Melchizedek and the New Testament from Qumran
Cave 11,” NTS, XII (1966), 318, n. 3.

Martinze, García. 1992. Qumran and Apocalyptic. Leiden: E.J. Brill.

Miller, M. P. “The Function of Isaiah 61:1-2 in 11QMelchizedek”, JBL 88 (1969): 467-469.

Miner, D. F. “A Suggested Reading for 11Q Melchizedek”, JSJ 2 (1971): 144-148.

Rowley, H. H. “Melchizedek and Zadok,” Festschrift für A. Bertholet, ed. W. Baumgartner et
alii (1950), 161ff.

Sanders, J.A. “The Old Testament in 11QMelchizedek”, JANECU 5(1973):373-382.

Sanders, J. A. “From Isaiah 61 to Luke 4” in Christianity, Judaism, and Other Greco-Roman
Cults: Studies for Morton Smith at Sixty (Leiden: Brill, 1975): 86-106.

Van de Water, Rick. 2006. “Michael and Yhwh: Toward Identifying Melchizedek in 11Q13.”
JSP 16/1: 75-86.

Yadin, Y. “The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Epistle ot the Hebrews”, in Aspects of the Dead Sea
Scrolls; Scripta Hierosolymitana 4; Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 2nd edn, 1965) p. 36-55.

Cello

I have always, always wanted to play cello.

The cello has a song that I could feel in my bones before my digital ears could interpret the sounds, and it calls me home with its song for the bones.

I love to listen to it, and it was a cello-special symphony that was my first one to ever hear with my cochlear implants five years ago, and it is my very favorite – maybe because I can tolerate its range.

I love when Nathan plays violin for me, but it’s range is so broad and can be so high that I have no desire for it to be right up by my face while I learn to play it badly.

But the cello?  I’m game for the cello.

And this week I was given another gift card, which I had saved the others I was given, and did not need to use the gift cards for school books as expected because of another scholarship.

And so I did it, in the middle of sweet potato fries after the symphony last weekend.

I bought me a cello, one I had been watching for seven years, on sale for $600 off, and bought with gift cards given to me at Christmas (for “play” they said, not for the family or for kids).

image1It has a bow on it, because it is my early birthday present, and for because it is beautiful, and for because I am so very excited!

To get it that cheaply, though, I had to put the strings on myself, which is one reason I had never gotten it before.  I have no idea how to do that, and am scared of those strings!

But then I married Nathan, with full intent on someday having a cello.

And today it came!

Nathan got the bridge ready:

image2And fixed the strings:

image4And tuned them:

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Because he loves me.

And it is so beautiful, that’s what.

image5And it is just for me, for play, for relaxing, for songs in my bones.

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#WhatChaplainsDo

Tonight is my first on-call overnight during the week for my chaplaincy residency, so I hope I get enough sleep for working tomorrow.  I can’t even write for very long, because this might be the only sleep I get.  We never know with this and the ER shifts being overnight – sometimes it is calm all night, sometimes it is one thing after another.

I am learning what chaplains do, as I get used to this program.  I study theology, of course, including the theologies of others’ – with some of those being very different from my own, some being ones I tried out in past experiences, and some that are new for me.  We must be prepared to work with all kinds of people, though, and to understand where they are coming from and where they are and what they need.  It is fascinating, and I am loving every moment.

The group supervision in the evening is fantastic, and what I have needed to challenge my own healing from the deaths of my parents to a new level.  I am grateful, and knew this would be part of the program, and knew this was the way for me to go.  Other issues get stirred up, too, of course, with me having to address everything from lack of confidence to honoring my own contributions to other grief issues like the miscarriages, or my fears about cancer, or my using humor as a distancing tactic.  Therapy bootcamp is what they should call it, and I am loving every minute.

Once my shift starts in the evening, I do rounds in the hospital until 9pm when visiting hours are over.  During this time, I see the new patients that were admitted today, take Bibles or other sacred texts to those who have requested them, review Advanced Directive paperwork with patients and families who need those signed, and pray with patients and families who have requested that (we do not pray with families or patients unless they ask for it).  In between all that, I do random rounds with patients as I feel led, just picking a floor or an area or a unit that it seems might need me tonight.

I also must respond to every code blue, to pray for the patient who is dying and then sit with the family during the response team working with the patient or after they die.  I make arrangements for the body to go to the funeral home it needs to go to, or do the memorial service here at the hospital if that’s what the family prefers.  I also speak at funerals if the family requests it, even if the service is not here at the hospital.  I also am on-call for dying patients, patients that are being extubated (breathing tubes removed), palliative care, coma patients, families deciding to turn off life support, and bio-ethics for the medical staff.  I also am on call for staff, besides just patients and families.

Tonight my shift started at 5:01, and my first death happened at 5:21.

I almost missed it, because I really had to go to the bathroom (thanks, water bottles!), and then I needed some chapstick, and then I tripped in front of the nurse’s station, and then I took the wrong elevator, and then I couldn’t find the right ICU, and then I brought the wrong notebook with me.

Class act, that’s me.

Off to a good start as Doula of Death, making the dying process easy and smooth and comfortable for everyone around.

Besides getting enough sleep for work tomorrow, my greatest fear is having to sleep in my cochlear implants.  Usually I take them out to charge at night, and sleeping in them is discouraged because of fires possible with the batteries being overheated on a pillow.  But they slip around so much, I have no idea how they would stay on in the night!  I do have the pager on vibrate also, but it makes me nervous, and I am afraid I will not hear a page and just sleep through it.

Then I have to wake at 530, to go visit all the patients having surgery before 745am, and then I am off duty and head back to my dayjob, long as I am functioning well enough.

For the most part, the schedule won’t cut so close, though, and to be sure I am taking care of myself, I already told them I cannot work the chaplaincy shift and the ER shift on the same weekends, because I do need enough sleep and rest in between extra jobs.

The best part of the whole day, though, was calling Nathan tonight for our couple study and to chat for a bit on FaceTime.  I really do love that guy.  I can’t wait to be home tomorrow, if I don’t get lost in the maze of this hospital!

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Date Night

Today was amazing.

Being well and healthy and strong is amazing.

Playing outside is amazing.

Time to myself, with my earphones blasting some Les Mis is amazing.

A brilliant day of brilliant sunshine and brilliant playtime was amazing.

I needed this day, and am so grateful for it.

There is only one thing that could make it better: date night with Nathan!

I even pretended to fix my hair:

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And Nathan got his tux on, except a sweater instead of his jacket just to be safe, and we took our sappy date night picture:

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And his parents came to play with the kids, give them the vegetable soup I had ready, and put them to bed while we went to dinner and Nathan’s symphony!

He surprised me, though, with sunset at the park where we met, sitting on the bench where he proposed to me.

Because it’s a year of rejoicing!

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We had a lovely date there, remembering what those days were like and what we were like and all our adventures since then, and how much we have changed and grown. It was very special, and so romantic – he is so sweet to me!

And then he took me for sushi!

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I was very excited then to meet friends at the symphony to hear Nathan play 1st violin, and it was a lovely concert, and we are so proud of him!

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This was an amazing day, truly, of rest and playtime, sunshine and happiness, and all the romantic sap a girl could ask for, really. I had such fun, and feel so rest and relaxed and nourished and grateful. This is such an important part of my pacing this semester, and taking a break from all the work was exactly what I needed. It’s something Nathan and I have been studying in this BYU talk from 1983, which also reminds me of President Uctdorf’s famous Forget Met Not talk, in which he said:

This is not to say that we should abandon hope or temper our goals. Never stop striving for the best that is within you. Never stop hoping for all of the righteous desires of your heart. But don’t close your eyes and hearts to the simple and elegant beauties of each day’s ordinary moments that make up a rich, well-lived life.

Today was a rich, well-lived life, spent with family and friends and Sunshine.

And it made me happy.

New Hair

The new hair, while playing dress-up, which was cute and gorgeous until she played with it all through church so it fro-ed up by the end. She didn’t lose her bows, though, so we are learning!

Besides, since when was I one to teach the domestication of girls? In most cases, I vote against such nonsense.

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Soup

I make vegetable soup like my grandma always did, and a giant pot will feed us for the weekend.

I cut up stew meat with scissors, because we have little ones, and to remove the extra fat. I brown that in some oil, and then add stock. I chop onions and garlic, and throw in diced tomatoes also. I let that boil while I chop potatoes, and throw them in with more water before adding all the cans of vegetables I can find. It boils all day, and isn’t ready until dinnertime!

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