Tuesday, July 29, 2014

I Love My Kids...

I miss my daughter being so far away, and I know she and her hubs are making a wonderful life for themselves. But sometimes I'm reassured that "there's no place like home!"
From my daughter's blog: " La Goes Domestic "

It’s been two and a half years since moving to California. We’ve found a nice apartment that suits us, for the most part for now, though we dream of (and are jealous when we hear of friends/family with) a house with a yard and no crazy neighbors stomping or slamming or yelling etc. We have the cutest dog on the planet (who is cute or else he’d be…well, let’s just say it’s a good thing he’s cute), who we adopted at a local pet store just over a year ago. We’ve made some amazing friends, a fun variety of people. We’ve seen a lot of the cool areas of CA and know we still have  an endless list of other places here to explore. I quit a secure job where I felt I did an excellent job to start my own business, with the limited connections here and business knowledge I possess, yet with help it’s going fairly well. I just got asked to be vice-president of a networking group I’m in because they like my leadership and energy. We hustle, bustle, and keep quite busy, and are settling in as well as could be expected. We smile and laugh a lot.
And yet, days like today, I can’t help but admit, I wish I was home. I need a hug from my momma, a laugh and ever-encouraging word from my dad, an inside joke shared with my siblings, a goofy shot and dancing with my old friends, a drive on a back road with my windows down, chilling out with my extended family who is so good for my soul, to go to mass in the church I grew up in, a night out on the deck with a cold beer and just the sound of cicadas.
Maybe it’s Silicon Valley that drives you a little kooky, maybe it’s because I’ve just become too type A/OCD/controlling, who knows…but somedays, I feel like I just can’t quiiiiiiite hold it all together anymore. And that leads to crying at silly things like that I dropped an entire head of lettuce on the floor where the dog just trekked his muddy paws. Or feeling like I’m failing at everything and don’t know what I’m doing and wanting to just admit defeat and eat an entire pint of Chunky Monkey in bed.
Maybe that feeling never goes away. I think I’m truly realizing there never will be a place like home. And that while I love my life and the adventures and road we are on, I’ll always need home. And I’ll always need the reminder that, you’re not supposed to hold it all together all the time, no matter how badly you want to. And yeah, yeah, they always TELL you that growing up, but come on, we all think we can handle it all and be 100% at everything (because we’re also told THAT growing up). And then I remember Mrs. Payne telling us in 5th grade how we will sometimes just cry at silly things because we’re girls (human, whatever), or my mom telling me my art project really DOES look great, I don’t need to redo it for the 500th time, it’s fine, it’s fine, it’s fine. My dad telling me I shall not be Marsha Brady, I cannot do everything, and must guard my heart. I need to remember that. And I need to remember that I have needs. And those needs matter, and always will.

“If this world makes you crazy
And you’ve taken all you can bear
Just call me up, because you know I’ll be there”

And now, I need a glass of wine and a reminder that, I am doing all right.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

... Like A Girl

   It's funny, but in our household we have never used the term, "Hit (run, throw...) like a girl" to mean anything other than doing your best.  Without loosing any of our femininity, we girls try hard and usually accomplish what we go after.  God made us as partners with men. No one is better than the other and we complement each other. That's why God made our union so beautiful. 
   While this video is made by a commercial company who specializes in women's products, it is trying to help girls at a certain age not lose their thought of self worth; building up confidence in young women the right ways, how to be strong and confident but not arrogant should be our goal. In fact, the same goes for teaching young men, you can be strong and confident, but not arrogant.
Like A Girl

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Good Dating Advice!

  Here are some great words of dating advice from a fave new blogger! 

"Why do guys date psycho girls? Lately I feel like all of my guy friends, acquaintances, and relatives have been telling me horror stories about psycho girls they have dates, are dating, or want to date. My reaction to their stories is always the same, “Why would you want to date a girl that is constantly up and down and who probably belongs in a place far from decent society?” And I kid you not, every guy replies “Because they’re fun and exciting.”"     

 read more at  Justsayinso!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Saw A Rainbow and Other Signs Of Help!

   So...it's been a little stressful the last six months, what with the church renovation and then our Pastor being reassigned and job duties changing. Whew... I needed a day off!  I finally decided last Monday would be the perfect day to go floating.
    Many, many years ago I learned from a good high school friend the joys of taking an old tire inner tube and plopping down on top of it and setting sail down an icy cold Ozark stream!  For two to four hours you had your own little world of nature, lazily kicking back and soaking up the sun and ride along on river time.
   The only dangers were scrapping your bottom on the rocks in the shallows, gliding too close to overhanging 'tick' trees, slamming into a snag; the tumble of trees and other debris flash floods sometimes leave in the middle of the river and the occasional motorized johnboats that come up river.  Though these 'dangers' may lead you to think floating is a little on the risky side, be assured, it's not as long as you are in a small group taking turns on keeping lookout for those blips on your floater's radar.  For the most part, you are able to lay back, watch the sky and the banks of the river go by and dream about Mark Twain's journeys on a much, much smaller scale.
     So, after thirty some odd years of on and off floating, I've taught my husband and kids how to watch for the 'dangers' and I myself can get some stress-free time just dangling my legs and arms in the cool waters of the Current River, near Van Buren.
    Monday we packed up the car with snacks, SPF, towels, a change of clothes, picnic lunch and headed the two hours southwest. The only danger was I had switched on a weather radar earlier at home and noticed several summer bubble-up storms around our area and in-between the river.  We debated whether to go.  Maybe it was all that stress bubbling up inside me, but I said, I don't care, we're going no matter what. If it rains, it rains, if it's stormy we'll do something else. I was going to get out of town no matter what.
   We were 15 miles down the road, when I saw clouds rolling in and everyone in the car groaned. "Not to worry," I yelled, "Look! A rainbow!" And sure enough there in the western sky was a beautiful rainbow. I was sure our trip would be successful!
  Twenty miles later we were stuck in the midst of a horrible rainstorm, thunder and lightning, torrential rains; this was sheer madness. Should we turn around? I kept checking my weather app and it kept showing the rains moving away from our trip area.  Just keep going...
   Sure enough, we got to our destination and the sky was blue and clear. A more gorgeous day could not have been ordered. We had the most marvelous float and relaxing time. Letting go of stress, phones, messages and worries as we floated through God's nature spotting eagles, turtles, waterfalls and trees. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Black Walnut Bread Pan Miracle

      Sometimes you have to wait a very long time to get answers on things. I was always slightly jealous of people who talked about receiving 'signs' from God.  It seemed it was a very rare thing in my life for there to be any kind of signal from the Lord, even when I prayed hard for one.
      I am well aware of my lack of patience, it is a virtue I highly praise and highly wish for more of. So I guess it makes sense that our wonderful God is teaching me in little bits and pieces about how to be patient especially when it came to signs.
      So my story is this; about a year ago, I got to cleaning one of the cabinets in my kitchen, the one that has the overflow of plastic and paper bags, the dog's treats, extra baking pans and cooling racks and casserole dishes.  I am not an overly neat and organized person so this cabinet is more a disorganized catch-all than a helpful storage area.    I marked two trash bags with 'Pitch', and 'Don't Pitch'.
   First to come out of the cabinet were 100 aluminum personal size bread pans my youngest daughter had baked bread in for her teachers when she was a senior in high school; five years ago. They hadn't been used since and I didn't plan on doing that much baking for at least another five years. They got pitched. I grabbed two dark looking objects that were slightly greasy to the touch. Ah, Grandma Long's bread pans.  My husband's grandmother had been an awesome cook and baker. She worked at restaurants and made meals for other people in her home. She had left those bread pans to my husband because he shared her love of baking.  Those definitely belonged in the "No Pitch" bag.  Finally I could see light and the cabinet was cleaned up. The Pitch bag went outside to the trash and the 'Don't Pitch' downstairs to be stored.
     Several weeks later, my hubs was in a bread baking mood, he began looking for the heavy bread pans but could not find them in the cabinet. I also looked but could not find them.
     "No worries, they are in the "don't pitch" bag downstairs!" I said, feeling very bad I hadn't kept them in the cabinet.  I searched the bag and found the 100 aluminum pans but his special pans were not there. My heart fell to my stomach as I realized I must put the wrong bag in the trash, weeks ago.  I could not apologize enough and felt horrible. I bought him new pans but as all bakers know, new pans are not the same as well seasoned ones, especially ones your grandmother passes down to you.
     He used these without complaint and the bread he made was good, as always, but I still felt bad to have disposed of something of his so valuable in sentiment, if not in good baking.
     Several months went by and on a bike ride along a trail we frequent, we found walnuts lying on the ground. Not only were they just walnuts, they were black walnuts, a highly tasty treat for baking!
     When I was young, my dad would receive a burlap sack full of black walnuts from my grandparents' farm. They fell from a tree near the gravel driveway. My grandpa run over them with the car and the tractor to work the green hulls off of them. Then he would pick them up, bag them and send them along with us when we would visit them at Christmas.  Then each January while watching football games, my dad would go out in the garage, crack open the nuts and bring them inside to a table in front of his chair where he would pick out the fragrant meat inside.  My mom would then bake them into chocolate chip cookies and I would put them in fudge. Wow, it was heaven!  For several years my grandparents collected the walnuts and dad would pick them.  Then my grandpa died, and grandma sold the farm and moved into town. No more black walnuts.
     So when I discovered these black walnuts along the trail I shrieked as if we had discovered gold! We went back home and grabbed some bags and picked them up off the ground and brought them home.  Now black walnuts are covered in a green hull and if you break it open when they just come off the tree your hands are covered in a black walnut stain that forever marks you!  So they must be dried out over several months then the covering peeled off.  You must use a hammer to crack them open because the shell is that hard. Even then you never get a whole nut, it comes out with a nut pick in small pieces. But the taste is awesome.
     Last weekend I got out my hammer and began cracking. Immediately the sight and smell of those walnuts took me back to watching Dad coax the meat out of those gnarly black shells. I took them inside the house and began looking for the nut cracker and pick I remember my mom giving me after Dad died. I knew I had seen them last when I was cleaning that cabinet.  I got down on my hands and knees and reached into the organized cabinet and felt something greasy and rectangular.  I pulled out the well seasoned bread pans that belonged to my husband's grandmother.
  What?  How in the world did they get in there?  I stood there holding the bowl of black walnuts and the pans incredulous. I had searched and searched that cabinet for those pans!  How did they just now appear?  Just then I thought of Dad and big fat tears fell down my face, thank you, Dad!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Comfort Food

   You knew it would come to this one day, right? After all this blogging I was bound to blog about food!  Why?  Because it doesn't matter if we are stressed, happy or somewhere in between we love food. We love to eat it and talk about it!
  I'm no different!  I actually bought a book this week because one of my fave bloggers, Julie Davis, had a quote in her book about this book. It's "Talking With My Mouth Full" by Bonny Wolf. Bonny is a funny writer who also has a stint with NPR as a Weekend Edition Food Commentator.
  I wish I knew how you get to be a Food Commentator because I would LOVE that job!  Talking about food, testing, tasting...ahhh...such would be the life of a writer.
  But I digress!  Back to Comfort Foods and how even reading a book about comfort foods can make me think and want some!
  Comfort foods aren't always bad things either, I love a good salad. Sometimes I even crave a good salad! Yes, it's true!  But I also crave chips, chocolate and my all time, never be without, no matter what the season, Iced Tea.
  We all have our comforts in life, the things that help us get through a difficult time or day.  I have another food comfort.  I am blessed because I work in a church office which means, Jesus is just next door all the time!  And I visit Him very frequently when my day is going nuts and even better I get to receive Him in the Body and Blood during Mass. 
  There was a very good reason Jesus made the Last Supper THE place to be with his apostles the night before he died. The guys were enjoying a good meal, a comfort meal. Times had been hard, Jesus was talking about some worrisome happenings and Judas was acting strange.  Then, Jesus right there and then declared that the common wine and bread they were enjoying would become his body and blood.  What better way could Jesus have explained how He would always be with his apostles and with us by using the comfort of food and wine, the companionship of our loved ones and friends at a table renewing His sacrifice and remembering just how very much He loves us?  We all have the opportunity to receive Him when we go to Mass.  He has all the comfort we need!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Roll With the Punches

 My mother-in-law had a wonderful saying as my husband was growing up. When life dealt you disappointment or sadness you had to ‘roll with the punches’.   

 By definition, this phrase has come to mean, “a boxer’s ability to deflect the full force of an opponent’s blow by moving his body.”

  At times during your life you must be like the fighter standing in the ring.  You are in the ring to fight, but you will also get hit. No good fighter ever escapes without a few punches to the face, stomach or head and to lessen those blows you need to move and keep moving or roll with the punches if you want to be standing at the end of the fight.

  That is a sentiment that is echoed in many of our Gospel readings, ‘life is hard, living your faith will be hard’ but because you always have God by your side, you can make it through.’ 

  In John 16, Chapter 16, Jesus even tells his disciples that they will be persecuted, They will expel you from the synagogues, in fact, the hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God. They will do this because they have not known either the Father or me. “  But then He goes on to reassure them that they will not be alone in this life to face these hardships and trials, “ For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you…”  “...But when he comes, the Spirit of Truth, he will guide you to all truth.   (John 16: 1-13)

  Jesus is reassuring us that though the world may deal us blows, and trials and sorrows, we have the Holy Spirit with us always to help us get along. 

    We can teach our children the same roll with the punches attitude to have in life. Just because life is hard does not mean you lose your faith. Our faith is what helps us roll with the punches, get up and keep walking toward Heaven.