A Tale and a Treat When Plans Fail and Other Acts of God’s Love (Part 1)

Just this morning my husband remanded me that last Christmas I gave him a note which read:

 Now you can THINK about going back to school for your PhD.


This is one of those life-goals Jeff has had for himself—something that he has always wanted. You will find it right at the top of his Bucket List.

After we were married and had children we both returned to school for more education. Each of us took turns supporting the other. Working more than full-time with two children was a challenge. We tried to keep our priorities straight and we made it through. The PhD continued to be his goal—allowing him to teach more than just adjunct classes at the university. However, this time there seemed to always be a “but.” But we just bought a house. But we are saving for the boy’s education. But your mother is ill. But I’m unemployed . . . and the years marched on. It has taken me more than 10 years to get to this point: the point where I felt I could handle the necessary schedule that I knew it would take. Now we are virtually empty-nesters, I have a job I love, it calls for a demanding schedule anyway and an hour and a half commute every day. No time like the present.

I think Jeff was on the Web December 26th checking out programs. Since both of us were employed and our youngest son was almost finished with his undergraduate degree, it seemed like things were lighting up enough for Jeff to start making some plans to finish his own education. So we continued to pray for God’s blessings on our plans.

That is where I think we went wrong.

Life started to fall apart. The poor economy hit all private schools. They are down by 20% on average. Since most early childhood centers operate on a shoestring anyway a 20% shortfall over a year or more can lead to disaster. His school was holding its own but administration did not want to take the hit of his salary for one more year so they decided to eliminate his position and run the school from their other location. Jeff was no longer going to be employed in the fall.  Perhaps the time was not right after all. Then Jeff’s pickup truck caught on fire and the extra car our youngest son used at college broke down. Suddenly we were a one car family without income to purchase another car. Sound familiar? So many people I know are in similar or worse situations these days.

And we began a new prayer. Lord, our plans never quite work out the way we think that they ought to. We know that you have plans  for us more wonderful than we can imagine. We are hanging on. Show us the way.

Have you been there?

The main character, Riley Morgan, of Long Trail Home has been there. Riley hasn’t heard from his family or his fiancé in more than a year. At the beginning of the third book in the Morgan Family series, Riley returns home from the Civil War in 1865. He left home an innocent, young man of 19 and was returning a war-weary man of 23.  

Riley had plans when he returned home. He planned to apologize to his parents for the foolish words he uttered the last time he saw them, and beg their forgiveness. Then he planned to snatch up the women of his dreams and take her to the altar as fast as he could. He and his bride would settle on his pa’s ranch until they got their own place. This is something he had always wanted. It was right at the top of his Bucket List.

He returned home to find his parent’s ranch burnt and empty. There were two new graves in the family plot. His parent’s crosses joined his younger brother’s on the hillside. Riley’s family was gone.

Riley galloped toward Miranda’s house. Hoping, praying that his fiancé was alive and that she still loved him. He was welcomed into the Cooper’s home only to be told that he has lost Miranda too. She married another man while he was away at war. Devastated he refused to return to his parent’s home,  refused to face the memories. He had no job, no money, and no place to live.

The haggard Riley wandered across The Wilcox School for the Blind looking for work. In some ways he reminded the Headmaster of the girl, Annie, who they accepted into the school seven years earlier. She too, lost her home and family—and presumably her sight. But Annie had a secret.

Riley starts over living in a small room out back of the school. Doing odd jobs, he works for little and begins to let the pieces of his life come back into place.

But how could God have allowed him to lose so much?

Check in next week for the second part of Tale and a Treat.  God assures us that he will not let us stay the way we are regardless of our present condition; he has plans better than we can imagine.



Cornbread is a wonderful addition to chili which we talked about last week. The two really go hand in hand. Just talking about this combination is making me yearn for fall and all of its belly warming food. I like my cornbread with a little kick and I also like to be able to eat it alone as opposed to it being so dry that it can only be used to soak up soup or chili. I add a half can of green chilies to my cornbread recipe which adds a little flavor and a little heat. If you eat a slice warmed with melting butter and a touch of maple syrup it is a great combination of sweet and savory.  You will notice that a skillet is mentioned in the instructions and I will say it really is the way to go. I was just talking to Deb about cornbread and she informed me that she has a skillet that is meant only for her cornbread. That is a special skillet. Check out the recipe here and don’t wait for fall to whip up a batch. 

  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup canned creamed corn
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend
  • 1/2 can green chilies, drained

Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 400°F. Butter 8-inch square baking pan. Whisk cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in large bowl to blend. Add creamed corn, butter, egg, and chilies. Stir just until blended. Spoon batter into a skillet.

Bake until edges begin to pull away from skillet sides and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool in skillet on rack.


  1. August 12th, 2011

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