HOMEMADE GRAHAM CRACKER VALENTINES

February 13, 2016

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Mary Beth Johnson is a wife and mum to four schooners, as she's dubbed her children. On a normal afternoon, you would find her in moccasins, skinny jeans and a comfortable tee, camera in hand. Recently moving to the suburbs of Atlanta, Mary Beth spends her days homeschooling, sneaking away to the bookstore, trying to act the part of a southerner, and sifting through recipes in The Vegetarian Times. Food is her love language.

There are times in my motherhood where I feel on the top of my game - teacher's gifts are prepared well in advance, homework is checked off the night before, and the birthday cakes are planned meticulously. I feel like a careerist with my calendar and our days are jotted down in perfect balance with a routine looking like a little bit of school...a little bit of extra curricular...a little bit of prayer...and a little bit of fun. I feel so in control of my/our lives. And it feels good.
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But there are times in my 8 years of mothering where I feel so terribly incapable of handling the job I've been given that our planner looks like the tangled web of mismatched socks sitting on the top of our ironing board. For two months now. I can't decide what is most important - should the baby nap or should we hit the gym? Should we drag out supplies for a craft or should we mop our muddled floors? Do they know their ABC's and that Jesus Loves Me? Let's check. Wait, the baby is screaming.  

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I'm tired and I just want to hide in the bathroom and cry, but I'd rather read a book, so I wash down a couple life-giving sentences in the time it takes me to brush my teeth. I feel like I am putting out fires wherever we go and I need an extinguisher. Stat. I hear myself praying, "Lord, don't let my children remember me this way. Let me be perfect for them. Let me sing all of the right songs and have energy for Lent and get my floors clean before the ants come." I think I hear God laughing just a smidgeon because he sees my hair frizzing with age and my nerves getting stretched almost to the point of breaking and all He wants is for me to run to him with a straightener and a few good yoga moves for peace. He wants me to give up my original plan (which is a nice way of saying control) and confess the five chocolate chip cookies I ate to feel somewhat better and the cycling class I took after that to feel better about the cookies and realize - none of this stuff will make me feel perfect. That I need Him just as much on the days I'm nailing it as the days I'm putting out fires. That my kids will remember a mom who says "Sorry, I blew it today." more than they'll remember Valentine's Day stickers.
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On the days we make crafts and roll out homemade graham cracker dough, I want to remember that this is not all a mom does. She nurtures, apologizes, writes, works, teaches, cleans, and yes. Hides in the bathroom to read sometimes. There will be ebbs and flows to this journey, but I want love to be the thread that binds those seasons together and to have grace for myself when it doesn't all get done. Though I will fail at so many things, I want my kids to see that Jesus is continuously on my lips and that He is woven into the fibers of our life. When we sprinkle wheat flour onto the cutting board and I ask, "Where does wheat come from?!" They'll say, "God" because somehow in the never-enough sleep and never-enough never-enoughs I showed them what was most important. 

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These graham crackers bake up like a cookie with just the right marriage of sweet + healthy and were so simple to make we will keep them on rotation in our house. I love anything you can customize, so we made these into hearts for Valentine's Day. I think they would be positively adorable as s'mores! Give me alllllll the chocolate. 

 //HOMEMADE GRAHAM CRACKERS 

Makes: 24 crackers, about 1/4 inch thick | 

Cook time: 12-15 minutes 
 1 1/2 cups graham flour or whole-wheat pastry flour 
 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (plus extra for dusting your surface to roll) 
 1/2 tsp. baking soda 
 1/2 tsp. salt 
 1 tsp. ground cinnamon 
 1/2 cup packed brown sugar 
 1/2 cup cold butter cut into cubes
 6 tbsp honey 
 1/4 cup cold milk 

 Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well using a stand or a hand mixer. Add cold cubes of butter and mix until it resembles cornmeal, almost as if you were making a piecrust. Add the honey and milk, and mix until the dough just forms into a ball. The dough will be slightly moist. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and roll it out into a rectangular shape. Use a butter knife or square cookie cutter to cut the dough into squares or desired shapes. Bake on a lined baking sheet for 12-15 minutes, until the crackers start to turn golden brown.


 Source: Danielle Kartes via Deeply Rooted Magazine