Posts tagged ‘personal growth’

For Better or for Worse, But Better is Better

Heart figureIt is the day after Cupid’s Day and I’m chomping sour grapes.  I’ve managed to convince myself that the only reason I didn’t win a Valentine dinner out with my sweetie is because the local newspaper’s “Greatest Love Story” contest was judged not by the quality of the mini-essay entries, but by who was able to round up enough acquaintances willing to help them stuff the electronic ballot box.  But who wants a fabulous gourmet meal at one of the finest Italian dining establishments the Twin Cities has to offer, anyway?  (Pit-too-ee; these Concord  seeds are hard on the teeth.)

Now that I have that all rationalized, my thoughts are free to explore more consequential things.

On the day before Valentine’s, I interviewed a warm, delightful woman who survived over three decades  of marriage to an emotionally unbalanced man who had never given her one compliment or word of encouragement in 33 years of living together.  A specialist in the art of non-parenting, he overtly favored his first-born son, and virtually ignored his only daughter and son number two.  Looking back, Trudy struggles to forgive herself for not “taking the kids and leaving” that dismal family environment years earlier.

But her children bear no ill feelings.  Somehow, with the help of a gracious God, Whom their mother led them to in quiet moments alone together, all three turned out to be high-achieving, well-adjusted adults.  “Forget it and put it behind us,” they counsel  their mom, appreciating the fact that it was a blessing to have been mostly ignored by this narcissistic man, who bought himself $300.00 suits while his wife and children shopped at second-hand stores.  And the fact that Mom’s loving ministrations had more than compensated for Dad’s neglect and verbal abuse.

Within a year or two of finalizing her divorce from the charmer who shed his niceness like a molting reptile  the moment he had walked down the aisle, Trudy met a wonderful man for whom it is second nature to treat her with loving respect and to be an equal partner in every aspect of their lives.  Her gratitude for this union radiates with every relaxed smile she beams and every endearing southern expression she utters.

My husband’s 2013 Valentine card to me sums it up quite nicely:  “When someone means a lot to you, you need to let them know.”  Inside he had hand-written, “I’m sorry I don’t say it and show it, better and more often.”  He’s not given to grandiose displays of emotion, this is true.  But he shows me his heart in a million ways, large and small, every day of every week of every month of every year.  And that’s more than I would have ever thought to ask for.

My Valentine to him this year is the little blurb I wrote for the newspaper contest:

My husband Jack and I live in Fridley, which is where we first met in high school.  We came close to dating back then, but ended up going separate ways, with separate spouses, until – both single again – we re-met at a reunion years later.

Even after 25 years of marriage, it seems a bit presumptuous to claim to be the world’s greatest romance:  we didn’t exchange love letters across a war-torn continent or have the honor of donating a major organ, one to the other.  But we did give each other that cherished second chance to discover true devotion – the kind that survives rebellious stepchildren, career disappointments, the loss of loved ones, and personal health crises; the kind that hangs in there for the ebb and flow between passion and friendship.  And that particular blessing may just translate to the best gift this earthly life has to offer:  someone who will always, bottom line, invest the time and effort to figure you out, to help you over the rough spots, and to guide you toward your better self.

I only hope that my appreciation for my second chance shows forth like Trudy’s does.  But I know one thing for sure:  I don’t need to win some silly contest to confirm my great good fortune.  And that’s not the sour grapes talkin’, either.

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February 15, 2013 at 10:10 pm 2 comments

Now Sings My Soul

Ingram Publishing

Ingram Publishing

I wasn’t planning to publish another post this week, but I just returned from a funeral service for a 52 year old member of my church, a father of two who died of leukemia after a few months of attempted treatments leading to cardiac complications.

I remember with a shudder that I once, in my rebellious younger years, would have sat at such a Christian service with my mind slammed shut, harboring a cold heart and refusing to participate in hymn-singing or prayer recitations.  Turning away, in other words, from the very sustenance that my angry, hungry soul was starved of.  And how I hated weddings back then, with their ritual and scripture readings and rosy expectations.  If I couldn’t avoid one, I would sit in the pew in recoiled posture, like a vampiress confronted with a bouquet of garlic, hawthorne, and wild rose.

When funerals or weddings take place in our humble sanctuary these days, I can’t help but glance around at the faces of the crowd and wonder how many of them are not participating because the words are unfamiliar, and how many are hunched behind a wall of resistance.  My prayer, always, is that the legacy of the departed believer’s faith will soften stony hearts and open narrowed minds to the full peace and comfort to be gained by accepting the balm of God’s Word.

The opening hymn for today’s service says it better than I could ever hope to.

What a Friend We Have in Jesus

Text: Joseph M. Scriven, 1820-1886
Music: Charles C. Converse, 1832-1918

What a friend we have in Jesus,

all our sins and griefs to bear!

What a privilege to carry

everything to God in prayer!

O what peace we often forfeit,

O what needless pain we bear,

all because we do not carry

everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations?

Is there trouble anywhere?

We should never be discouraged;

take it to the Lord in prayer.

Can we find a friend so faithful

who will all our sorrows share?

Jesus knows our every weakness;

take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden,

cumbered with a load of care?

Precious Savior, still our refuge;

take it to the Lord in prayer.

Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?

Take it to the Lord in prayer!

In his arms he’ll take and shield thee;

thou wilt find a solace there.

January 18, 2013 at 7:28 pm 2 comments

Autumn Awakening

A few days ahead of its official debut, fall has fallen upon us with a decisive “plop.” Last evening I heard my favorite local weather guy issue a hard frost warning for the upper regions of the state.  For those of you living south of the snow belt – for whom the term “seasonal vegetation” is an unfamiliar concept – a hard frost is when temperatures are sufficiently cold, for a long enough period, to seriously damage all those “annuals” we delusional Minnesotans spent good money on last May.  It’s also when the neighbors’ flower beds start looking like a linen sale at Goodwill, in one last desperate attempt to stave off the inevitable.  Like I said, delusional.

But after a summer that was more swelter than anything else, I am savoring every energizing snoutful of crisp morning air, every watercolor wash of cloud across the pale autumn sky, and every creeping stitch of crimson lace embroidering itself around the edges of fading green leaves.  I am also taking a few days to unplug, literally, from the quasi-reality of play-by-play political narration, and focus on events closer to home.  Stuff like friends fighting the good fight against medical challenges, the hope of a positive career change for loved ones, and delightful anecdotes issuing from the mouths of babes.

A friend recently told me that her school-shy grandson, Zachary, answered an inquiry about his first day of fifth grade thusly:  “It was the longest six hours of my life.”  No doubt some facial dramatics accompanied his response.  I sympathize.  I recently spent a grueling six days trying to respond to the IRS charge that we had underpaid our 2010 taxes by $624.00 – the same year, mind you, that they had sent us an unrequested $550.00 refund of overpayment.  At least little Zach will outgrow his grade school desk and move on; barring some miracle of rational legislation, the IRS will be hovering always.

Another closer to home event is the publication by an acquaintance of a lovely little recipe collection titled Desserts in Jars:  Fifty Sweet Treats That Shine.  Now, I am constantly thinking that I’ve come up with a novel recipe idea, only to do an internet search for, say, “peach and fig chutney,” that turns up a dozen variations of my brainstorm that have already saturated the web.  Storm indeed.

Once I got a hold of a copy of Shaina Olmanson’s brightly illustrated gem of a book, I was astounded with the creativity, skillful writing, and beautiful photography – which she does herself – that landed her in this cozy little niche of the cookbook market.  When I cornered her at church last week and further learned that her very professional, award-winning web site has thousands of subscribers, I first reacted like a slightly dazed boxer.  Should I take a TKO, and give up my own meager efforts?  If this is what the field holds – young, ambitious, MFA-seeking bombshells of talent, with the savvy to cut through the jungle that engulfs the path to publishing success – should I even fool myself into thinking I’ll ever have a shot? Apples to oranges, I know, but still…

Fortunately I have another acquaintance who also happens to be a gifted fellow writer and a dear friend, and who helps me past these spasms of self-doubt.  Bless her.  Everyone with a dream should have a half-dozen friends like mine.  “Apples to oranges is correct,” she reminds me in an email.   But it’s more than that.  “The entire focus of why [you and I] write is very different, and our drive to write is also.  I lament that some of the old avenues for publishing are not available today.  Where do I fit?  Or do I even fit?  Apple, orange, pear, or kiwi, I will figure it out, or God will hit me over the head and show me… [but] what and how He is using me outside of writing is the most important.”

She concludes,  “Finally, I get to the Luther quote:  ‘To have faith, to love, to endure suffering, these three should be enough to keep us delightfully busy.’  And by love he didn’t mean the warm fuzzies, he meant love that acts.”

I have been so certain that I was being called to write – profiles of inspiring people of faith; nutrition and recipe pieces promoting good health; advice for a life of purpose and moral courage – that I forget, sometimes, that taking my mother-in-law to the grocery store on Thursday mornings can be an act of love.  But only if I approach it with a right heart and mind, not resentful of time taken away from the keyboard, but consumed with gratitude for the opportunity to serve.

I may not be published, I may not be unique, I may not know exactly what to do next to ensure that I’ll have justified my existence by the time I leave this earth.  But I can learn to listen with an unbiased ear to the echoes of my Lord’s voice, and to maintain my soul “open to the facts of God’s creative purpose, and not muddle it with my own intentions.”  (Oswald Chambers.)

So we work toward goals, as best as we can define them, but we take care not to lose track of the small graces we are invited to participate in every day.  And we don’t compare ourselves to other varieties of produce.

Now, I unabashedly offer you my own modest, not-particularly-original rendition of a Ghirardelli cookie recipe, revised and tweaked and, I think, rather delectable.  I didn’t take a picture, because photography isn’t really my thing, but I’ll trust you to put your imagination in gear.  Can’t you almost feel your nostrils tingle with the taunting aroma of freshly baked cookies on a hard-frost-warning September afternoon?

Coconut, Pecan, Butterscotch, Chocolate Chip Cookies

1-1/4 C unbleached flour                                                          1 C white wheat flour

1 tsp baking soda                                                                        ½ tsp salt

1 C softened butter                                                                     ¾ C sugar

¾ C brown sugar, packed                                                         2 tsp vanilla

3 eggs                                                                                             ¾ C bittersweet chocolate chips

¾ C butterscotch chips                                                              ¾ C sweetened flaked coconut

¾ C chopped pecans

Whisk together flours, soda, and salt; set aside.  Beat butter with sugars on low speed until creamy.  Continuing on low speed, add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, until mixture is well blended.  Gradually blend in flour mixture.  Stir in chips, coconut, and pecans and drop by 1/8 cup measure (or cookie scoop) onto ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake on middle shelf of oven for approximately ten minutes, rotating cookie sheet after five minutes, until golden but still a bit soft.  Cool on wire racks.  Pour large glass of cold milk.  Enjoy.

As I prepare to hit the “publish” button, I am hearing that the city of Duluth got a dusting of snow last night.  Plop, plop.

September 24, 2012 at 3:35 pm 2 comments

An Ode to J.R.

Rest assured; this is not a declaration of diehard devotion to a certain Texas-based, primetime soap opera, although my J.R. did spend a decade in the Dallas area and all three of my stepchildren still call that region home. 

No, the focus of my devotion is the husband with whom I recently celebrated a 25th wedding anniversary – an occasion that inspires poeticizing like none other.  (Also a stark reminder of how quickly time scoots by, and how precious is each month, week, day, and hour, to be wrung limp with an appreciative squeeze.) 

As for the object of my reflections:  I am an impatient sort.  Because of my personal history, I have expectations that aren’t always realistic or fair.  And I often project my own urgency onto those around me – whether they be ditzy drivers or my own dear, less manic spouse.  My 25th smacked me right in the kisser with a minute-by-minute awareness of just how much I have to stop and give thanks for, and to cherish.  I will, of course, elucidate. 

First of all, I am blessed with a life-mate who pays attention to the right small things.  He may ignore, guy-like, the fact that I haven’t dusted in weeks, but listen intently as I ramble on about the specific kind of tank-top I’ve been searching for, and then show up a few days later, having hunted down the perfect match for my description.  Six perfect matches, in fact.   

He might wait patiently, reading in the car, as I make multiple frantic stops trying to accommodate the demands of an allergy-elimination diet, then later spend his entire lunch hour driving to the one health food store that carries Rice Dream dairy-free frozen dessert, to replenish my supply.  He can seem not to be fully tuned in while I describe in tiresome detail what I am looking for in a watch, and then surprise me with the ideal model at the next appropriate special occasion, i.e., Happy Friday! 

The man, and this will never cease to impress me, will patiently troll the clothing racks looking for items he thinks I might like while I’m locked in a dressing room, slogging through the tedious process of Trying On Clothes.  Many of my favorite wardrobe additions resulted from his keen-eyed efforts.  All this without any of the melodramatic self-importance that motivates reality show fashion experts. 

Also, while I am an animal lover, my husband is an animal liker.  Having said this, my guy welcomed both of the feisty felines I brought into our marriage, supported me through related bereavements, and once back-tracked several blocks in the family vehicle because I saw a confused-looking kitty wandering around a commercial area and wanted to try to rescue it. 

At that point, I was not surprised at his capacity for indulgence.  After all, hadn’t he once piled into the same vehicle with me to rush to Wal-Mart and buy a cage and seed for the injured bird that had bounced off our front window and landed in the flower bed, only to discover on our return home that the stunned critter had recovered and flown away?  U-turn back to Wal-Mart to return the emergency items.  Again, no drama, no recriminations, just a patient tending to the needs of the situation.  My needs.

 And when I felt compelled to take in a pup who was facing her third home placement at the age of two because her ultra-distracted owners were moving, he resisted initially – for practical reasons.  Three years later, he is almost as delighted as she when he gets home from work and she threatens to turn herself inside-out in a joyful welcoming ritual of leaps and back flips.  Scene two, she is flopped  in his lap, eyes rolled back in her head, sopping up tummy-rubs like a thirsty sponge, and he is chuckling and murmuring softly as his blood pressure rolls back about 20 points.  The tranquilizer manufacturers will be out of business if a photo of this ever goes viral. 

My sweetie and I are very much aligned in all the important areas.  On some smaller issues, there is an occasional Venus/Mars split.  And then there is the day-to-day stuff.  I am pretty fanatical about conserving things, while my honey takes a more common sense approach.  Still, when he is finished with a shaker of body powder, a bottle of liquid soap, a tube of toothpaste, or a jar of mustard, he will open another, but leave the carcass behind for me to shake, scrape, dig, squeeze, or swoosh the very last drop or tittle from, knowing that it satisfies something within me to use the last drib and drab of anything. 

Then there was that phase I went through where I was reassessing how much toilet tissue I was reeling off the roll, and would sometimes lay the extra, unused squares back on the dispenser for later use.  Lesser men might have used this as material for ridicule.  My J.R. used it as material for bathroom art, creating a soft-sculpture Cottonelle gallery. 

It started out simply, with a four-inch paper doll, but soon I was finding a three-dimensional, if monochrome, humanoid; an elaborate sail boat; and even a palm tree – complete with fringed foliage.  You have to laugh at a situation in which more paper gets wasted with each escalating “retort” than was ever saved by means of my obsessive little fetish. 

Ah yes; the everyday stuff.  My guy always walks on the traffic side of me when we take a stroll, insistently offers his jacket even when I’ve rejected his pre-walk suggestion that I might want to wear one myself, and will get up from a restaurant table to drive blocks down the road, seeking out a menu I find more appealing. 

After two-and-a-half decades, you’d think we’d know all there is to know about one another, but just a few weeks ago I learned that the reason he always insists on going with me to run errands is, “Because I would never forgive myself if I was here and available to take you but didn’t, and something happened to you when you were out.”  Talk about a silver anniversary present to remember. 

Forever interesting, my multi-faceted husband continues to present sides of his quiet self that I’ve not yet become acquainted with, like the side that will spend huge chunks of energy helping out a neighbor with household challenges or polishing his Spanish to better communicate with our new friends down the block. And who knew he would become a fan of Bollywood cinema at this stage in life, and through that budding interest discover some true gems of touching, values-based entertainment that we can enjoy watching together – our own unique in-house date nights, no makeup required.  

What is no surprise is that he allows himself to be used by God in so many ways, as when the Lord led me-of-lapsed-faith to this decent, forgiving believer, and changed my life forever – and forever. 

I sometimes call this life-mate of mine Hank, because the night we re-met at a high school reunion, I spilled sparkling water on my lap, and he whipped out a real cloth handkerchief for me to use in the cleanup; he calls me Hanes because he rather liked the look of my gams.  And no matter how time ravages our once-youthful bodies, that chivalry will always be a part of Hank.  It is his core.   

And generosity is his heart.  Cars, computers, an unexpected check; re-gifting all of his birthday cash to help out a struggling co-worker.  This man of modest means has, without a second thought, carried on his parents’ legacy of giving to others whose need is greater, and we are both the richer for his servant’s spirit. 

I have a friend who has said of her husband, “He lets me be me.”  I am similarly blessed, although the balance dips to his side in our male/female dance of life:  He is much more likely to let my quirks go uncommented upon than I am to allow his.  I really must work on that. 

Alas, 25 years later I am still learning to be the wife God meant for me to be.  Meanwhile, I recently came across the following crossword puzzle clue:  Name which translates to “gift.”  Answer:  Isador. 

J.R.  He is not perfect, of course; that would be intolerable for both of us.  But he is my Isador, and that is definitely something to celebrate.

June 7, 2012 at 5:29 pm 3 comments

A Legacy of Endurance

 “I’m here; the party can begin!”  So declares Erma Florentine Reiss, arriving at a large gathering of friends and relatives in 1999.  And indeed, she lights up the room with her entrance.  At 82 – with a beautiful head of curly white locks, a smile like sunshine, and the bouncing gait of a much younger woman – she has already been widowed three times and raised seven children to healthy, productive adulthood.  Some people wear hardship like a dented suit of armor, but not Erma.   

Born the first of five children to Paul and Lydia Engel in 1917, Erma and her siblings grew up in rural Minnesota during hardscrabble times.  The Great Depression overlapped drought conditions, only to be followed by World War II with its scarcities and the rationing of essential goods. 

“Love and sharing saw us through those difficult years,” writes Erma in a recounting of her family history.  There were extended family get-togethers for birthdays and special occasions, with homemade ice cream made with ice chipped from the family farm’s stock tanks in the winter months.  Visitors brought cakes and cookies, but no gifts were exchanged.  “We [children] didn’t know we were poor.  We were happy and healthy, as our Heavenly Father led us.” 

Much of that health and happiness derived from mother Lydia’s example of taking delight in helping others and in making the most of what you have.  At age ten, Erma would read bible passages to her grandmother, who suffered from cataract blindness, and watch and learn as her mother sewed children’s clothing and household linens from colorful cotton feed sacks.  “Sugar came in smaller white sacks.  They were softer and more absorbent and were saved to use as ‘Sunday dish towels,’ and to make petticoats and bloomers for the girls.” 

In that home, Erma learns that the basic, forthright offerings of time, grace, and talents are the true   acts of giving.  “All her life, my mother was quietly useful, gentle, and friendly.  She gave us all the simple pleasures to remember forever.”  Simple pleasures like perfecting the role of hostess with only the barest necessities at hand; giving parties for neighborhood children in an era when no one else did this; always having time for a game of checkers with her children; making mittens, doilies, and braided rugs for those in need; and filling long winter evenings with piano playing and singing. 

After graduating from the high school department of Dr. Martin Luther College in 1935, Erma moves to Larsen, Wisconsin, as a woman’s home companion for the disabled wife of the Reverend Weyland.  (more…)

May 9, 2012 at 9:47 pm 1 comment

An Easter Confession

I am a Christian. I don’t often just flat-out say those four simple words, in an unequivocal declarative statement.  I do attend church on Sunday mornings with like-minded believers.  And I would hope that my writing reflects my beliefs, that my words and deeds suggest a faith with roots deep enough to deflect the buffeting that worldly snares and my own frailties of character subject it to.

I once complimented a young woman driver on her courageous personalized license plate that reads:  JHN315.  (“That whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”)  Her only regret, she responded, was that the designation JHN316 was already taken.  (“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son.”)  I couldn’t help but reflect on how easily the frustrations of driving can bring out the worst in us. Displaying an emblem of faith that identifies you, that ties your actions  directly to the name of the Lord you love and serve, should inhibit one in a good way.  Should.  But would it, in the tightly-wound emotional package that is me?

The same idea applies to my favorite bumper sticker:  “If tomorrow you were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”  Evidence.  That trail of proof that lends credence to verbalized claims.  Many “declare faith in or adherence to” Christian doctrine.  For some that means a sincere dedication to enlightenment via the inspired word of God, unadulterated by man’s efforts to update His timeless  message to suit modern sensibilities.  For others, it is a vague reference to trying to be kind, do good works, and seek physical peace among the earth’s multitudes.

My own conscious efforts to adhere seem paltry to me at times.  I try to work the language of faith into my casual conversations; to plant the seed that all good things come to us from the Lord as blessings; to dangle before others the concept of a loving Creator God whom they may not have felt any need to consider in their immersion in earthly pursuits.  I always attach a note referencing the Heavenly Father to plates of cookies brought to new neighbors or ailing acquaintances. But would there be enough hard evidence

I am reminded of the real-life cases documented in weekly television newsmagazines like 48 Hours Mystery or Dateline NBC. Quite often, a spouse on trial for murdering their partner has complicated their own defense with infidelity, sometimes serial infidelities.  The physical evidence may be sparse, the circumstantial evidence refutable, but the scale is tipped heavily against them by the weight of their own indiscretions.  Is my scale tipping in a God-pleasing balance, or do my lapses outweigh my more warm-hearted inclinations?  Fortunately, the Triune God anticipated this dilemma.

Which brings us back to defining what it means to confess Christian faith.  To avoid any confusion, perhaps I should have opened this piece by saying, “I am a Christ-believer” – a term coined by a venerable pastor and biblical scholar to differentiate the concrete from the wispy.  If Christ confirmed it, I have no reason to question it.  He said, “It is finished.”  He stood trial in our stead.  He bore the unfathomably difficult burden of taking on all of our insufficiencies, even down to the most blatantly self-serving and reprehensible acts imaginable.  He became the author of our eternal salvation in history’s only demonstration of love perfected.

I was walking the dog a few days ago and encountered some sweet neighborhood children I hadn’t seen in some time.  They called out to little Muñeca, and I approached to let them pet her.  After we exchanged basic information – our dogs’ names; how many siblings were in their household; their names – the oldest brother, Joshua, a poised and gracious nine-year-old, said, “Have a nice day.” And as I walked down their driveway toward the street, he called out, unselfconsciously, “God bless you!”

I almost cried.  “Thank you, and the same to you,” I called back. From the mouth of this babe had come my most treasured moment of the day.  God’s influence is like that, unpredictable and inexplicable. Only exposure to His Word can convey an understanding of what it means to be moved by the Holy Spirit.  The ultimate in mysteries.

What is not a mystery in the peace that comes to the Christ-believer in accepting the Gift that has no equal.  Some hymns come close to describing that peace, and some lay out in gruesome detail the price that was extracted to purchase it.  When I came upon these verses on Palm Sunday, my throat clamped tight with emotion and I could not continue:

“By thine hour of dire despair

By thine agony of prayer

By the cross, the nail, the thorn

Piercing spear and torturing scorn

By the gloom that veiled the skies

O’er the dreadful sacrifice…” 

Last Christmas I read the statement of an accomplished Christian journalist, who confessed to having lived a life of blatant, unrepentant sin in his early years.  As I’ve revealed in the past, I can identify.  My rediscovered faith gives me much comfort, but the singular message I would hope to witness to is this:  I know that my sins are forgiven.  I gratefully accept that I receive everlasting life through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, and I will not knowingly tarnish that golden offering by clinging to my guilt, yet the knowledge of my past actions will be with me as long as my memory holds.  And on occasion, when my weak flesh succumbs to fatigue or depressive thoughts, that memory, that shadow of shame,  can begin to feel like an immobilizing encumbrance.

Imagine then, I say to myself in moments of calmer reflection, the truly smothering weight of that burden multiplied a million-fold.  A trillion-fold.  Yet, He stepped willingly into being “wounded for our transgressions [and] crushed for our iniquities” and “upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed.”  Isaiah 53:5

I once composed a hymn verse while walking under the crystal-blue dome of a perfect summer day.  On this Easter eve, I pray for the courage to follow the inspiration that led me to put the words to paper:

Stand up, stand up for Jesus

Your savior and your friend

Stand up, stand up for Jesus

Whose mercy has no end

He lived on earth to serve us

He died to set us free

Stand up, stand up for Jesus

He stood for you and me.

April 7, 2012 at 6:56 pm Leave a comment

On Being Careful About What You Wish For

You’ve heard the saying:  Some days you’re the windshield, some days you’re the bug. Of course there are plenty of roles to play between those two extremes, but last week I was definitely identifying with the bug.

As for being careful what you wish for, let me back up yet another week to the two days my husband stayed home from work, ill.  His ailment was one of those weird, amorphous “things” that fit no familiar pattern.  The classic stomach flu symptoms never fully developed.  No upper respiratory stuff was going on.  He just felt lousy, slept a lot, didn’t have any appetite.  And ambition?  He might as well have been an oil reservoir with a missing drain plug. Not a drop left to be eked out.

As I scurried around doing laundry, working out, walking the dog, grocery shopping, plugging away at writing projects, cooking, serving, washing dishes, cleaning out the kitty litter box, paying bills, and organizing tax records, I paused to peek in at my snoozing husband.  “Gee,” I caught myself thinking.  “Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to have an excuse to just put on the brakes for a few days; to slow my roll and pull the rug out from under the daily grind; maybe catch up on some reading.”

I guess my husband doesn’t complain enough, because the minute I’ve finished my Tae-Bo and downed  my oatmeal the following Monday morning, I discover the true meaning of having the rug pulled out from under.  Soon I am crawling back into bed, feeling so limp and miserable that I want to cry.  I also want to throw up, but that relief is never visited upon me – and being recently educated about the casual offering up of wishes, I am reluctant to pursue the matter.  Oh, and my head aches.  A dull, persistent, wrap-all-the-way-around-the-shoulders ache that will not be massaged away.

Three hours later, Miss I Haven’t Been Sick in Six Years is slowly fluttering her way back to consciousness, and praying for forgiveness for both that boast and her thoughtless presumption that a change in routine “might be nice.”  I am not one to skip a meal, but I skipped several those first two days of high intensity wretchedness.

Having slogged through Day One disabled by fatigue and edgy from the sound of my stomach clunking out spasmic “gorka-gorka” rhythms at the mere thought of solid food, I go to bed early, feeling slightly better and pleading for continued improvement.  Come 2:43 a.m. and blam, I am ripped back to awareness.  It’s as if the original ton of bricks has been gathered up and re-released from 40 feet above my Sealy Posturepedic.

After 30 minutes of moaning and groaning, blessed sleep returns, and by sun-up I am able to work out and eat breakfast once again before Day Two shows itself to be merely a paler version of its predecessor. As the week passes and the symptoms gradually subside I continue to need plenty of rest, so I decide to wring a little something out of this unfortunate situation by chipping away at my reading pile.  Some light distraction is my goal. (more…)

March 28, 2012 at 9:22 pm 2 comments

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Recipe. According to Encarta, "a list of ingredients and instructions for making something." The thesaurus offers the alternate terms, "formula, guidelines, directions, steps, technique."

And what is the "something" we are aiming for here? Simply a life of robust good health in every important area - spiritual, physical, cognitive, and emotional.

To that end we offer inspirational real-life stories about PEOPLE OF FAITH AND COURAGE; menus and cooking directions meant to fuel your creative inclinations and your healthy body in the form of MUSINGS OF A MIDWESTERN FOODIE; and ADVICE FOR LIFE from the perspective of those who have lived it to maturity. (Click on the green category tabs at the top of this page to learn more about each section.)

Have a taste and see what you think. If you like what we are serving up, please tell your family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors to stop by for a visit, too.

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© Sue Anne W. Kirkham and www.yourrecipesforlife.com 2009-2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sue Anne W. Kirkham and www.yourrecipesforlife.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.