When Life Gives You Lemons

Lemon Icebox Pie

Aug 7, 2013 by

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When life gives you lemons, I suggest using them to make pie.  With meringue.  Because everything is better with meringue.

Four years ago, I got laid off from my job and it completely knocked me on my rear end.  I know I mentioned that The Husband and I went through some hard times because shortly after I lost my job, he lost his job, and then we found out we were going to have a baby.  Looking back on those struggles now, I know God allowed us to endure those hardships for a reason.  We were a couple of twenty-something year old kids making a whole lot of money, yet making a lot of unwise decisions with what we did with that money.  Going from being able to buy just about whatever you want to not being able to afford anything at all is a humbling experience.

Even though I know we went through all that for a reason, I also know that I never want to go through it again.  We experienced some growing pains that made us smarter adults who learned what it means to “live within your means.”  We stopped using credit cards two years ago, we stick to a budget, and we have been taking strides to become debt-free.


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It hasn’t been easy.  Like last year when we had to skip out on a trip to Chicago to see my extended family because we didn’t have enough cash saved to pay for the plane tickets.  It was really tempting to pull out a credit card and not give it a second thought.

Or like two months ago when my car bit the dust and our options were find something else for me to drive or risk the engine in my old car blowing up.  We were pretty adamant that we were only going to buy something we could pay cash for.  But as we came to the realization that the selection available to us within that price range was pretty limited, it was awfully tempting to go out and finance something bright, shiny, and new.

Or the fact that just about everyone we know is buying or building their second or third house while The Husband and I still live in the small 1300-square-foot-starter home we bought five years ago.  Space in this house is limited and if/when we add another baby, it’s going to be cramped.  It’s tempting to put our little house on the market and start looking for something bigger.

People on the outside looking in will probably make assumptions about our situation.  You know what? Let ‘em.  I don’t care to keep up with the Joneses because the Joneses are in debt.  And to be honest, I don’t like them much anyway.  At least I can say with pride that we own our stuff, our stuff does not own us.




I didn’t realize how important that actually was until last Tuesday when – for the second time in four years – I got laid off from my job again.  Unlike four years ago, this was not completely unexpected.  The industry I worked in has been sluggish and layoffs have been a reality. Even so, there is nothing you can do to prevent that initial jolt of panic that radiates from your chest and the cold feeling that spreads all the way to your toes when you realize – before anyone even says a word – what is about to happen.

However, after a few minutes of sitting in that office chair and listening to an explanation of why I was being let go, an strange calmness came over me.  The panic was replaced by peace.  Later that night, The Husband and I split a bottle of red wine and discussed the future in the same place we seem to hold a lot of our meaningful discussions – on the back porch.

Four years ago, I began writing freelance out of necessity to earn money.  Since then, I have been able to grow my business into a decent part-time career.  As Little Tot gets older, I have thought more and more that one day I would like to transition into a full-time writer.  If you are a working wife and mother, then you know trying to juggle a career and a family is exhausting.  I have never been more tired as I have for the last three years of my life.

That night, over a glass of red wine and the glow of citronella candles, we realized we could make it without my salary.  Several things have transpired over the last eight months that lead us both to believe that God has been preparing us for this from the get-go.  For the next three months, I am going to see if I have what it takes to become a full-time writer.  So far I am hopeful.  Work has been coming in and there are several exciting prospects in the pipeline.

That being said, if you happen to be someone looking for a writer – get in touch with me!

I’m sharing my story because you don’t have to look far to find other people going through the same situation – or dealing with a lot worse.  Take whatever you have been given and turn it into something wonderful.  Just make sure it has meringue.  Trust me, everything is better with meringue.

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Lemon Icebox Pie

Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Pie crust recipe from Betty Crocker's Cookbook: Bridal Edition
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 8
For the graham cracker crust:
  • 1-1/2 cups finely crushed cinnamon flavored graham crackers
  • ⅓ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
For the pie:
  • 3 eggs
  • 5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar
For the pie crust:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine all the pie crust ingredients in a large mixing bowl until crumbs are thoroughly coated with the butter.
  3. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch round pie plate.
  4. Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Allow pie crust to cool completely before proceeding.
  5. Make the pie crust first and let it cool unless you are using a store bought pie crust.
For the pie:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Separate the eggs, reserving the whites and yolks in separate bowls. Set egg whites aside.
  3. Beat egg yolks until frothy.
  4. Add sweetened condensed milk gradually. Leaving the mixer on, add the lemon juice.
  5. Once combined, pour mixture into the pie crust.
  6. In a separate bowl, beat the reserved egg at medium-high speed whites until soft peaks form. Reduce the speed and slowly add the sugar and the cream of tartar. Increase the speed back to medium-high and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Top pie with the meringue.
  7. Bake pie at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until meringue is browned a little on top.

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  1. Juli

    I hope amazing things come your way!

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