shalom & jam & jam & jam (#wholemama)

A week or two ago, I found myself in a funk. A funk, quite really, that didn’t make sense because the sun was starting to show its summer self, and normal, year-round activities were coming to a sudden, freeing halt. Instead of seeing an open schedule as an opportunity to roam and explore and balk against nap time rigidity, I froze. We holed up in the house, watching too much Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, clawing at the walls and at each other, like at a cat on one of those carpet-covered cat mansions.

Heart eventually worn threadbare, I declared a moratorium on our in-house gloom. Raising my fists in the air, I made a list of things I wanted to do with the boys this summer: Go to the Discovery Museum. Visit the Jelly Belly Factory.  Check out (the potentially creepy) Fairyland. Go berry picking. Do overnights with out-of-town friends. Attempt to go camping, even if it’s just in the backyard.

I suppose this is why people say you shouldn’t make lists and you shouldn’t publicly declare your intentions to the world: because it just might happen.

And today, our adventures began. Today, wholeness was birthed.  

We decided to go berry picking.

We marked the day on our calendar, and we invited our favorite friend and babysitter, Faith. Then as Faith and I got to talking, we realized that we couldn’t just spend our morning picking berries, we must make jam in the afternoon.

Faith – or Faif, as she is more commonly called in our house – arrived at our house at 8:30 on the dot, all to realize that most try as we might to pick berries on a Monday, they’ve been picked clean by zealous weekend U-pickers (and by the nasty Californian drought).

So we did what any normal, red-blooded American person would do: We went to Costco.  

It’s a win-win in my book. Cancan gets to hold a two-pound carton of blueberries whilst simultaneously stuffing as many as he possibly can into his mouth (just like picking). We get to peruse the best of the free samples (just like picking), and the gargantuan twenty-one pound infant man-child can sit in the cart instead of further kneading into my sorely appointed back muscles (so much better than picking).

After a pit stop at Whole Foods for pectin (because, contrary to popular warehouse-sized beliefs, we didn’t actually need a ten-year supply of gelling agents), we arrived home. We fed the barbarians and we attempted to put them to sleep. Then, as luck would have it The Parentals arrived, right in the middle of our jam-making conundrums.

And one such Parental happens to be a whiz in the gelatinous world, a lover of sterilizing Mason jars and mashing unripe fruit and teaching the next generation her ways:

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 8.41.28 PM

So this beautiful intersection of my own childhood memories and the memories I yearn to make with my children happened – past and present kissed, the beauty of creating something out of near-nothing burgeoned.

My soul sparked a wholly hello, a most shalom smile.

My heart fluttered an awakening beat.

I felt most alive.

Four hours and five jams* later, we dumped the last of the dishes into the sink and walked out the doors of the well-loved kitchen. We’d done it.

For one afternoon, at least, we’d been made whole.

So, what about you? Today’s post is the first in the #wholemama series this summer, with this week’s theme on wholeness, or shalom. We’d love for you to enter into the conversation. Otherwise, how are you being made whole? How are you experiencing shalom? 

* = strawberry peach jam, blackberry fig jam, raspberry jam, blueberry apricot jam, and peach jam, if you must know. 

23 thoughts on “shalom & jam & jam & jam (#wholemama)

    1. Something out of nothing …ain’t that the truth! Can’t wait to read yours (it’s on my list of things to do;)

      Cara Meredith

      writer, speaker, musician.


  1. So glad mama came when she did! Memories are jammy and delicious. Have a great time. (HE’S 21 POUNDS? Wasn’t he just BORN?)

  2. Sounds like a perfect day. You made me wish I had been a part of it. Wholeness comes through the most unexpected means. It’s not so much something to schedule in as something that comes from engaging wholeheartedly in life and the pursuit of each day’s dream. I love how your story demonstrates this so beautifully.

  3. That’s one of the best wholeness/shalom stories I’ve ever read, Cara. Finding it in Costco and Whole Foods and your busy kitchen with parental units swooping in to join you is awesome. I’ve found another song to add to your jammin’ soundtrack (to go along with the Bob Marley selection I put in that FB comment):

    1. You’re killing it, Fall! And next time we have a jam-off in our kitchen, I’m inviting you to be the DJ!

      Cara Meredith

      writer, speaker, musician.


      1. If you have me along, you’ll get such hits as this one, because I’m like the guy in the song. “He likes bread and butter. He likes toast and jam …”

        1. And I could probably sing along to every word, as I grew up on oldies. My parents only let us listen to the best of the 50’s and 60’s. 😉

          Cara Meredith

          writer, speaker, musician.


  4. I’m sure you made all of us wish we were there, so, so fun! I’m guilty of the activity list making, but getting out and doing and meeting and experiencing can bring such joy (and peace and wholeness).

  5. Jam, jam, jam!! Good for you holding your joy with an open hand. A little risk…a little compromise…a little sticking to it… And you’re out of the trap! Well done.

  6. Oh this sounds so perfect. We used to have a blackberry bush just across from our house growing up. We’d stuff ourselves the whole of August. Last year I was wandering through the city and discovered the most enormous blackberry patch on an abandoned plot. Picking and cleaning and making jam and ice cream and crumble – it took me right back. I always feel the presence of my mama and grandmas most closely in the kitchen with the apron tied on…

    1. Oh Fiona, I can perfectly imagine what you’re describing …and it makes me want to search out the wild blackberries that used to grow along the side of the road in Santa Cruz (when I lived there). Here’s to further finding our fruit!

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