Tips on Being In and Out of Jams

I’ve been thinking a lot about the give and take of living with and loving other people, and although it’s obvious that children are more often on the receiving end of life, I want to point out that children can be extremely giving.

For instance, last week we went cherry picking at Robinettes. The kids were so industrious and diligent that we came home with many buckets of cherries—so many, in fact, that I wasn’t at all sure we’d be able to use them before they spoiled. NOT TO WORRY! Not only did some of my kids come to the rescue, some of my granddaughters worked tirelessly to pit literally gallons of sweet, black cherries so we could make pies and jam.

I made two pies, and then I had to run to the grocery store for more supplies, so while I was gone, my daughter-in-law Gerlinde and the girls did a splendid job of finishing up with the jam. Gerlinde (who grew up in Africa on the mission field) even taught me two new tricks. I usually just count on the heat from the jam to self-seal most of the jars and then eat the rest fresh or freeze them. (See recipes here:

However, Gerlinde shared that if you boil the lids first to make them super hot, and then close the lids tightly on nearly full jars of jam and turn the jars upside down, this ups the number of jars that will self-seal to almost 100%. (They didn’t have canning equipment in Tanzania.) She also pointed out that if you’re unsure about whether or not the jam is done, just dip your spoon into the pot and let the jam on the spoon cool on the counter for a minute or two. Once it’s cool, you can tell if it’s firm enough to suit your taste. Good tricks from an expert jam maker! Thanks, Linda! 🙂

In preparation for our reunion, I had also made about 10 quarts of freezer jam (only a few jars of which are pictured here), because “bread and jam, jam and bread” (and toast and jam) are one of the family’s favorite snack-time treats. (I can’t get away with serving too many cookies, as that’s not considered very healthy by the younger generation of parents!)

You can never have too much jam, so my grandchildren decided to gift us all with a treat of their own! They went out and worked for a long time gathering wild black raspberries from our woods. Rather then eating them all fresh, they saved them ALL so we could make some black raspberry jam! I was deeply touched by their generosity and desire to gift us all with more wonderful jams!

Giving and receiving gifts is really a way of giving and receiving love, and the young can be just as generous and eager as any of us to express love.

Have you ever wondered why Jesus taught that it’s more blessed to give than to receive? I used to think it was perhaps because only the rich have the resources to give to the poor, but I’ve learned over the years that this is completely wrong, because many of the most giving people I know share out of their poverty rather than their wealth. Here’s what I think: Giving brings us joy, because ultimately we are giving love, and there is no greater joy in this world than giving and receiving love.

So, whether we’re old or young, rich or poor, in a jam or not, it’s good to give to others—not by compulsion, but as a free-will offering of love! It brings joy to our hearts and helps those around us. Life is always richer (and sweeter!) when it’s shared!

Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

Please share your thoughts too!

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