Cherries, America, Revival

Where can we connect, or often, re-connect?
As most people here in the US celebrated a very different Independence Day in 2020, it was an important time to remember what America means.  As there is so much upheaval, change, and discontent, it feels more important than ever to pull together, to help our neighbors, and to reevaluate our priorities.

What Are You Called To?

I was thankful to be able to spend my Independence Day weekend home in Oregon with my husband and had time to reflect on these things.

Without hesitation, I can say that I firmly believe that although America feels battered, and at times broken, is still the land of the free. The land of the opportunity, and a country worth fighting for.

I want to be a part of the positive change that we need in so many areas, but I also will not surrender the freedoms that men and women have fought and died to give me. To guarantee to me in our land.

I believe that God has created each and every one of us for a purpose.  I believe that when we can live and operate in that truth, we will all be what our world so desperately needs.  I believe in the New Covenant that Jesus ushered in when He came to the earth and fulfilled the law.  As a perfect sacrifice He died so that I can be fully alive, a redeemed Saint.  Am I perfect or without sin?  Of course not!  But I am a child of the one true King and a Saint. In my human flesh, I sin, but that sin is not who I am.
This freedom allows me to focus my life and love on God, others, and the world. I am not competing to find salvation or live a life worthy of acts that might redeem me. That deal is done.

America is ready for this.  This love, this freedom to live out your God-given purpose to serve and be a blessing to those around you. I believe God is calling His people to revival. The broken world we see is built on sin. Where light becomes dark, and evil is called good.

Let us gather as believers, to humble ourselves as those called in His name, and to pray for our nation and our world.  I can’t think of anything more important to our country and our people than asking for them to be filled with the Holy Spirit and bring revival to our nation.

What did you reflect on during Independence Day?  Read to the bottom for my Vanilla Tart Cherry Jelly recipe!  

Independence Day

So as I reflected this Independence Day, I decided I wanted to celebrate because America and our freedoms are not canceled.

I had the privilege of going to my friend Jeri's home to partake in gleaning from their overflow of beautiful tart cherries.  They had trees that produced such an abundance that they were seeking others who could benefit from their bounty.

It was a lovely summer day and my husband and I were able to join them for fresh air and some sticky cherry-picking. While we picked and visited, we had such a great conversation about our nation, its current state, and how we could be a part of the change that is so desperately needed.  We recounted our experiences and told stories to learn from one another. Time seemed to slow down at this moment together in community together in this way.  We talked for what felt like hours (but really wasn’t), we filled our bucket, and we enjoyed the woodpeckers as they flew around a dead tree they had inhabited near the cherries.  Check out my long-distance phone photography:

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You can see how I had to brand this image, it's pure photography gold. Obviously!
We headed home with our hearts more full and with a mission to try out my friend's special jam recipe.  Because I am following a specific meal plan right now, it was even more special to create something wonderful knowing I wouldn’t be eating it, but it would be a gift to others.  While I am still learning the conversion ratios for Stevia and honey to replace white sugars, it turned out okay and I used my special collector jars to fill with this beautiful creation.

The perfect way to spend my day celebrating freedom!  Free speech, freedom to travel, and the genuine love of helping one's neighbors.  I hope that every Independence Day I have the opportunity to share wisdom with friends and neighbors, listen to stories and expand our horizons, and share in our abundance, big or small.  God bless America.

Tart Cherry Vanilla Jam

Of course, you know I am going to share some of the wonderful health benefits from these adorable little summer cherries.  That's how we roll; fun, health, and adventure for #RealLife.  Check out 10 Health Benefits of Tart Cherries!



  • 4 cups of chopped tart cherries (if you were using regular cherries, adjust the sweetness accordingly)
  • 2 Tbsp. organic lemon juice
  • 1 cup of water
  • 3 Tbsp. Ball® Classic Pectin (I chose to use low or no-sugar pectin)
  • 1 Tbsp. organic ground cinnamon
  • 1 Vanilla Bean, scraped (or 3 Tbsp vanilla extract, I love this brand for lots of projects, they are a legit company)
  • 2 cups sugar (again, I substituted Stevia and you could try with honey as well).  
I like this company NuNaturals as they are local to me in Oregon, are family owned and operated, and have been rocking healthy products for over 30 years!  Use my link for their site directly and you can use the coupon code WELCOME20 to save 20% off your first order. #winning


  • Combine chopped cherries and lemon juice.
  • Combine prepared fruit, water, cinnamon, vanilla, and Ball® Classic Pectin in a 6-qt. stainless steel or enameled Dutch oven.
  • Bring mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, over high heat, stirring constantly.
  • Add sugar, stirring to dissolve. Return mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for 1 minute. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes.
  • Ladle hot jam into a hot jar, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band, and adjust to fingertip-tight. 
  • Optional to can (otherwise use fresh in the refrigerator)
    • Place jar in a boiling-water canner.  Repeat until all jars are filled.
    • Process jars for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude.  Turn off heat; remove canner lid, and let jars stand 5 minutes. Remove jars and cool.
Tip, try a stainless steel straw if you don't have a cherry pitting tool (yes there is such a thing).  Plus, these are great to keep handy to make staying hydration fun and easy as well.  I chatted about those in Sustainable Living Part 1, check that out here!


Also, prepare your kitchen for some bright colored juice splatter!  That last one might be a reminder to myself for the next time I hand-pit cherries in my white kitchen 🤣

Download and print this recipe to take it into the kitchen without and keep that cherry splatter off your devices! Tart Cherry Vanilla Jam Recipe_EO4RealLife.pdf

Did you enjoy this info?  Head over and check out the Not My New Normal blog!  You can find it right HERE.

Disclosure: This site contains affiliate links to a few select products I use, enjoy, or recommend. I may receive a small commission for purchases made through these links, and your purchase supports companies and products I believe in.

Information courtesy of Echo Alexzander


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