“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1.

Every week when I receive the Opelika Observer I turn quickly to Ann Cipperly’s Southern Hospitality Column to look at delicious recipes from many wonderful cooks in our community. Too, we get to read about our neighbors, their families and their traditions.

This month is recognized as National Cookbook Month. Right before the holidays it is so good to look in kitchen cabinets and pull out those age-old cookbooks to review family recipes. There is something so personal and heartwarming to me about family-favorite dishes. As I look at the yellow, well-worn pages, happy memories of family and friend togetherness, love, hugs, sit-and-chats and joy are such a blessing to reflect on and give encouragement.

Cookbooks have been around for hundreds of years. I have held on to my church cookbooks, “A Dame’s Cookbook” by Chick Anderson and southern cookbooks, but my favorite cookbooks were compiled by my aunts, who have written cookbooks of family favorites for the whole family. The time my aunts spent writing these, typing and compiling spells love to the family for generations to come.

My grandmother, Lillie Mae Jones, shared her gifts of cooking not only with her family but with the whole community. Her home in the Salem community was always full of neighbors and friends who loved to stop by for a ‘bite to eat.’ Community fund raisers, whether they be for schools, fire stations or church, always had my grandmother’s Brunswick stew on the menu. Too, she would take us grandchildren all over the community to deliver her delicious made-from-scratch cakes and farm-raised hen eggs. My grandparents always had a vegetable garden that they would share with the family, neighbors and friends.

Every summer my grandmother included her grandchildren in jelly-and-jam-making. The smells of different fruits (apple, peach, blackberry, strawberry and scuppernong) have been annual memory makers for me.

“But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control.” Galatians 5:22-23

Not only did my grandmother cook delicious foods for her family and friends, she lived out the fruits of the spirit in front of her grandchildren as well as children in the community. To celebrate National Cookbook Month, I’d like to share some recipes to teach our children about life. Let’s follow the recipe of the Fruit of the Spirit.

1. Take a gallon of love. This ingredient is one we need so much of. In fifth grade I can clearly remember our teacher had us memorize 1 Corinthians 13:13: “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” Young children love to sing songs of love for each other. Those of us who teach young children are blessed with hugs and hearing the words “I Love You.”

2. Sprinkle in a dash of joy. Children seem to understand the path of journeying to joy. Possibly “fresh from heaven,” an infant’s smile seems to indicate that God delights in His creation; they recognize God as joyful. Children love to clap and sing. Happiness is conditioned by and often dependent on what is “happening to me,” but joy is truly a divine dimension not shackled by circumstances.

3. Weigh out a pound of peace. When teaching young children about peace as parents and teachers we can promote peace in a child’s relationship with others. Sharing and getting along with family, siblings and friends promote peace in a child’s understanding. Too, offering forgiveness to others when they have done wrong or hurt other people’s feelings practices peace. Even infants can discern peace in a caregiver as they are being rocked and cared for. Peace is achieved as we submit every situation to the Lord. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

4. Throwing in a pinch of patience is such an asset in this fast-paced world. Classroom teachers begin the school year by teaching children to wait their turn and not interrupt others. I instruct my young students to put their fingers over their lips if they are having a hard time being patient. This gently reminds them to be patient and courteous to others. Too, I ask them to hold that thought until it is their turn. Teaching patience early in a child’s life is very important and will lead to happiness and contentment.

5. Pour in a cup of kindness. Have you ever noticed how raspberries spread everywhere? This is what we hope kindness will do, spread everywhere. “Love talked about is easily ignored. But love demonstrated is irresistible.” Children are taught not only by our words but our actions as we parents and teachers model kindness.

6. Measure out a tablespoon of goodness. Goodness is doing what is right in the sight of the Lord and man. It is doing the right thing for the right reason. We can guide our children during these uncertain times to hang on to a rope of good when they are disappointed or discouraged. Outreaching in goodness to others overrides bitterness and leads to deep-hearted joy.

7. Pouring in a quart of faithfulness is love hanging on. Young children love to pray. With their young hearts, they believe in prayer. They trust and know that God will keep his promises. Establish faith early in a child’s life even when there are disappointments and discouragements. They will not quit because they have childlike faith. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

8. Pour in a pint of gentleness. When we think of gentleness we think of humility, lack of pride and mercy. In explaining this to young children I go back to the Greek language definition that gentleness is “power under control.” I use examples of a wild horse that has been tamed. Water under control rushing through the turbines of a dam versus water out of control, a flood. Children seem to understand this when given examples of thinking of other people first. For children to look for the good in other children is a wonderful activity of gentleness. It can be a simple game of children telling each other that they like or love about another child because, for example, they share.

9. A bowl of self-control rounds out the flavor of this life recipe. Self-control for children means that they obey and submit to their parents, teachers and rules. Teach  children, to come in from outside or to come to a family meal when they are called. Being on a schedule contributes to good self-control. Assigning chores to your children such as picking up toys, cleaning their rooms and doing schoolwork helps children to develop discipline, responsibility and self-control.

As we mix all the ingredients of the Fruits of the Spirit remember to add, blend and mix the golden rule of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This truly will help our children and ourselves to live a recipe that will shine love into the lives of others. Opelika and Lee County not only grows fruit for us to eat but it provides fruit for us to live by and to share with others.

Classroom Observer Beth Pinyerd