Monday, January 21, 2019

Baby, It's Cold Outside

Baby, It's Cold Outside

I awoke this morning here in the deep south and my husband said, "It's 32 degrees outside." My mind went immediately to, "We've got to get up and check all the water lines to be sure nothing has frozen up." :)

I've been away from the farm since 1980 and living in the south just as long. So I have no idea why this came to mind today other than to write a memoir.
I don't recall much of cold weather when we lived in Ohio but then, I was fairly young. But Wisconsin, that is a different story.

Welcome to Wisconsin

The first time I arrived at the farm in Wisconsin was November 1974. I road with my dad to take some equipment up to the new farm we had recently purchased. You can read that story here. What I remember is that the ground was already to frozen to plant any flower bulbs that Mom had sent along in hopes to have some pretty flowers in the spring when we arrived. Those bulbs remained in a bag in a cabinet until the next April. But they had sprouted we found them.

One memory of those cold winter days was trying to keep the water lines from freezing up. The body warmth from the cows usually keep the water flowing but occasionally a pipe would bust and send water everywhere.

Another thing I remember about Wisconsin cold was there always seemed to be an ice storm in March. Even if the weather had warmed up you could guarantee one more bad storm before spring came in full bloom. Since we moved to Wisconsin in the spring of '75, we didn't really "get" to experience winter until the next year.

In 1976, Wisconsin had the worst storm in recorded history. 

Photo Credit: Wisconsin Sentinel
Ice was recorded to have collected on trees and poles as thick as 5 inches. Utility poles came down like dominoes for many miles( I think someone said 100 miles. Don't quote me on that). And several counties were declared to be in a state of emergency, including our own, Columbia County. Schools were closed for about two weeks since there was no electricity.

Now, the ice is quite pretty on the trees but that is about as far as it goes. Ice is heavy and it tends to beak tree limbs or whatever it has frozen onto. Somehow, (I think the Lord's care because we didn't even have a generator at the time) we were one of the few farms that still had electricity. Farms all around us had no electricity. You could hear the cows bawling. They were hungry and thirsty since the wells need electricity to pump water and silos of grain need electricity to unload the grain. It was quite an experience.

We invited the neighbors to bring milk cans and get water for the animals.

Can you guess how much water a cow needs in a day?  

According to Dairy Herd Management,
A milking dairy cow drinks about 30 to 50 gallons of water each day...Water weighs 8.35 lbs/gal, so a milking dairy cow may consume as much as 420 (or more) pounds of water daily.
Our farm had 100 milking cows, plus young and dry stock. So you do the math. Then multiply that by every farm in the county. Yikes!

Now, I haven't even mentioned that you need electricity to milk the cows. So most farmers were back to milking cows by hand. And allowing it to go straight down the drain in most cases. That's a lot of loss.

We were blessed.

We were very thankful that the Lord took care of us. And we used that blessing to open our doors not only to the cows on the neighboring farms but also to friends who came to our home for a shower or a hot meal.

We endured many blizzards over the next few years. Neighbors were always saying, "It isn't usually this bad." But year after year, we could depend on getting a "good" blizzard or two.

Schools in the Winter Cold

No, we didn't have to walk 6 miles uphill both ways to get to school. One thing I do know is that the schools seemed to usually find a way to stay open. Many times school opened two hours late. Other times the buses didn't run but the town kids still had to show up for school. ha, ha!

The most memorable time was when the storm came on the day of the conference basketball championship. Every school around was closed. But not ours. We weren't going to miss playing that conference championship. The local radio announced that they would air the game so that other schools wouldn't be tempted to try to drive out in the weather to see the game. What a day! I'm pretty sure we won the game because in those days we were rated number one and many times played in the state finals.

Well, that's some of my memories of growing up in the cold winters of Wisconsin.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Red Velvet Cake

photo credit: Trisha Yearwood (I didn't have my own pic)
After I married a southerner, a few items were added to our meals at Thanksgiving including this Red Velvet Cake. This recipe is adjusted to my liking from the Barnesville Church of the Nazarene Cookbook - Barnesville, Georgia

Sift Together. Set Aside.

2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 TBS cocoa powder

Cream together

1 1/2cups white sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1 3/4 cup vegetable oil  (i use 1/2c coconut oil & 1 1/4c peanut oil)
2 eggs

Fold in dry ingredients

Mix in

1 tsp. vinegar
2oz red food coloring
1 tsp vanilla

Turn into 3 greased and floured 8-inch circle pans.

Bake at 350degrees for 30-35 minutes.

8 0z cream cheese
1/2c. softened butter
3 1/4 cups confectioner's sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Garnish with pecans or to your own taste.


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

God's Plan A for Regina

  Not long after I shared Pedro and Miguel's stories, I was contacted by their sister, Regina. She also wanted to share her story about how our one simple act of love (welcoming Pedro into our home) made a huge difference in her life. Finally, the other day, I had the privilege of speaking with Regina on the phone. 
  I was in tears and then full of joy as she shared the story of God's Providence and care throughout her life. I was so humbled to see how one simple gift of opening our home to a wayward teenager blossomed into bringing most of a family to know Christ intimately. 
  Her words are more beautiful than I could ever write, so I asked her to write them down and send to me. You will be touched by this story of God, I am sure of it.

Regina's Story

I believe God has had me in His hands from the very start. He knew I would have very low self-esteem so He gave me two very special dreams to help me, to convince me that he was there for me, to show me that I would eventually make my way to Him and become His child.

I also believe that Satan made his very best plans to keep me from God. Revelations 12:11 says, they overcame him (Satan) by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony; well I have applied the blood of the lamb and it is high time I give my testimony.

My name is Regina Milano. I was born Regina De Los Santos. I am number five of seven siblings born in Mexico. I was a twin. My mother told me that my twin brother was born in pieces. Her doctor told her had I not pushed my way out first I may not have made it as they were not expecting twins.

I was sick most of my childhood up until I was about 11. I was nothing but skin and bones. I don't know what all was wrong with me but I could not seem to stay well for very long. One of my nicknames was "Flaca" (Skinny) for obvious reasons and another was "Rapida" (Speedy) that was sarcastic. I did everything very slowly because of my sickness. I didn't develop or learn as fast as most kids so people didn't bother to waste their time trying to teach me anything

My mother was convinced that I was retarded and often told me so. She told me the only thing I had going for me was my looks and that I would never amount to much. I believed her and my highest goal in life was to become a prostitute.

I often thank God that we finally moved to the United States of America when I was 11 years old. In the US, slowly but surely I became healthy. But I had been branded as incapable of learning. I was painfully shy and pretty much a loner. I spent most of my waking hours daydreaming as my mother often would yell at me to not listen to adult conversations. I quickly learned to block everybody out and so, lived in my own little world in my mind where I was smart, strong, and capable and in control.

My Siblings

I have two younger brothers. Chuy was the baby. I helped to take care of him as much as I could. It wasn't much but I actually enjoyed what little I did. Miguel is #6. He was just a couple years younger than me. I stuck up for him on the playground at times – – he gave me no trouble either. I am #5 and Pedro is #4.

Pedro is two years older than me. He terrorized me for what seemed to be an eternity– – I both feared and hated him. I felt so alone and unprotected because, as far as I knew, my parents did nothing but talk to him about his bad behavior a couple of times. I was never as happy as the day I realized Pedro didn't seem to be around anymore. I did not know when or where he had gone but I sure was relieved and happy he was gone. I didn't care if he ever came back! (I learned years later that he had gone to work on a farm just for the summer)

Pedro Returns, Different

Once again, it seemed like an eternity past since Pedro had left – – and now the dreaded day of his return was here. I braced myself to be tormented once again. But no torment came – – – Pedro had changed! I didn't understand how, I couldn't put it into words – but he changed from someone I feared and hated to someone I wanted to emulate – I admired him--he had something I wanted – – I couldn't put my finger on it but from that day on, my nightly prayer was "God, please, I want to be like my brother, will you help me be like him?" The change was so drastic God had to have had something to do with it.

With this baby step, I began my journey to God-it was a very slow start as there was nobody to show me how to get what I wanted or at least tell me what "it" was I wanted because Pedro graduated and left for college.

You see, we had never really talked about what happened to change him – – I really didn't talk about much to anybody – I didn't know how to have a meaningful conversation.

Teen Years

I was approaching my teen years and Satan stepped up his game through my rebellion to keep me for himself. I will share just a few details of my sinful life. For some reason, I was permitted to drink beer when I was 15 years old. I was often taken to an inn where they served alcohol by family members to dance. I drank a lot and fought a lot mostly with my mom.

Regina at 14
I met a guy who wanted to marry me and I jumped at the chance to leave home. However, I was only 15 and legally had to wait until I was 16 years old to get married. It seemed to take forever for me to turn 16 so I ran away from home instead.

That didn't work out so well for me so I returned home only to have my problems multiplied-I was broken, lost and without hope or so I thought. I marched into our bathroom where we had a gas water heater. I blew out the flame, turned up the gas and laid in the bathtub to die. After a while, I could hear a voice in the distance and a knock on the door. I was unable to respond but soon my poor father figured out what was happening. He busted the door and pulled me out just in time. Rescued from Satan's grip!

Big Mistakes

I ended up getting married as soon as I turned 16. Biggest mistake ever!
We were only married for eight months. They were the longest and worse eight months of my life! We hurt each other in every way conceivable including, emotionally physically and verbally. We broke so many laws that if we had gotten caught we would have ended in jail if not prison. He eventually did end up in prison. I left him after he tried to kill our unborn baby.

By the time I was 17 years old I had attempted suicide, been married, divorced and had a baby. With no means of support, I was forced to return to my parent's house to live again. Getting drunk was no longer enough to deaden my pain. I started smoking marijuana along with my drinking. I got high and drunk every weekend until one night really in the wee hours of the morning. I stumbled drunk into my parent's house.

I had broken up with my boyfriend and felt I had hit bottom again. Pedro "happened" to be home on break from school and I ended up at his door. I woke him up and told him I hated my life. I had broken up with my boyfriend for no other reason than I wanted to hurt him like I was hurting. I felt evil, dirty, mean and hopeless. I just wanted to die, to end it all.

Pedro said, "Regina, what you need is Jesus."

That was it! What he had that I wanted so badly but I didn't know what it was! I recognized it even in the horrible shape I was in – – "I want Jesus then" was my simple but heartfelt response. Pedro asked me if I would go to church with him later that morning. I said "Yes" then went to bed.

Pedro woke me up a few hours later. He hesitantly asked me if I still wanted to go to church with him. I got up and went to church, hang-over and all. I honestly don't remember but I probably slept through the service. But afterward, Pedro took me to the pastor’s office and told him I wanted Jesus in my life. The pastor asked me a few questions then led me through the sinner's prayer and I became a child of God!

Some things changed immediately. Others took longer but at least I was on the right path now. Satan's plan to destroy me, to take my life or at least degrade me by planting seeds of prostitution in my head and heart didn't quite work for him.

God had a plan to make me a pastor's wife instead, glory to God!

Regina with her late husband
and their 7 of 8 grandchildren

I don't know what God's plan B would have been. I'm just glad that the Dawson family's plan A worked so well. I'm grateful that the Dawson’s were willing to be used by Him to reach not only my brother Pedro and me, but most if not all of my family. And who knows how many other people must have been touched by Pedro so closely following Jesus.

My Two Dreams

I have given you but the tip of the iceberg of my story – – – but I also want to share with you the two dreams I mentioned at the beginning of my testimony. The first dream I had when I was about seven or eight. Both dreams were unlike any other dreams I had before. They started abruptly and ended likewise. They did not evolve from a previous dream or continue into another dream.

Before I go into my first dream let me tell you that as a child in Mexico we were very, very poor. What toys I had, I had found in the dump near our house. My toy box was a shoebox. I called it my treasure box. It contained broken necklace chains, rubber bands, a bouncing ball and 1-2" babies like the kind they put on cakes for baby showers.

The First Dream

In my dream, I found myself at a dump much like the one I frequented. There were the same old nasty smells. It was night time but there was some kind of eerie glow or light coming from somewhere – – I saw a figure coming towards me. Somehow I knew it was Satan. He had goat legs with hooves. He was not bright red but did have horns and he was coming after me. I was terrified and didn't know what to do. I was frozen to the ground and couldn't run or anything.

Suddenly another figure came into view. I recognized it as my brother, Pedro. He came in between me and Satan. My brother picked me up and put me on top of an old tree stump. It was not particularly high, wide or extraordinary in any way. But I knew I would be safe sitting there. The dream stopped. I never thought about that dream even once after it was over.

I had honestly, completely forgotten it until one day years after I had become a Christian. Pedro asked me if I had ever had a dream about Satan and that dream came back to my memory as though I had just had it.

My interpretation: God was telling me that he has been with me for a very long time waiting for me to come to him. That Satan has come after me and that Pedro would be the one to stand in the gap – – that old tree stump was nothing but the old rugged Cross – – praise God!

Second Dream

The second dream came to me when I was 12 to 14 years old. I think it happened about the time I was in earnest prayer, pleading God to help me become like Pedro. The dream started with Pedro and I walking at the foot of a big hill. It was night time, dark and very windy and cold. We couldn't see where we were going. Suddenly there was a huge brilliant light right at the top of the big hill. I recognized Jesus standing in the light holding a little lamb in his arms. I couldn't take my eyes off of Him-- I just leaned towards Pedro and whispered, "Pedro, what should we do?" He took my hand, as to assist me to my knees and said "let's just kneel before him" and we did! The dream stopped. Once again I completely forgot that dream until Pedro again asked me if I had ever had a dream about God.

These two dreams have kept me in the knowledge that..

I am "His",
He is able,
He has a plan for my life
and He loves me.

Thanks be to God.

Regina Milano


I only have one memory of meeting Regina as a child. I remember her visiting the farm with her small child. I'm thinking it must have been the day Pedro took Regina to church. Later in life, when we connected again with Pedro, I was told that Regina had been saved, visited Pedro at Asbury College and met a seminary student who became her husband.

What a joy to hear this testimony of how God took this lost and destitute girl and turned her life into something beautiful.


P.S. God can make a change in your life as well. You only have to come to Him and ask. Click here to learn more about knowing Jesus.