Category Archives: Uncategorized

Tis the Season . . . .

00snowl was born in December. I came home from the hospital on Christmas Eve. I was the best gift to the family that year! Strangely enough, I never liked winter. It was cold and bleak. The sun goes down early in the day when you live in a place that has daylight savings time. I really disliked winter when I was working, and had to go home in the dark every day. I love sunshine. I tell everyone that I am solar. I have more energy on a sunny day.

00autumnAs autumn is upon us and I see the leaves changing on the trees, the flowers slowing down and about ready to wilt from the first frost, I am thinking about winter. Living in the city, winter meant icy streets. After a nice clean snow, it all becomes dingy and dirty snow as our cars drive through the slush and kick it up on the roadside. It used to make me sad to see autumn. It was a precursor to the end of warm and sunny. It was like the signal of things dying. Although I am not a fan of these colder seasons, I know it is necessary for new life to regenerate. The old must die, and new life returns. It is a life cycle that will always be there.

00birdsFour years ago I moved to the country after getting married to my sweet husband. He retired to the country after working his whole career in busy cities running a railroad. Our home sits on a little lake or a large pond, however one wants to describe it. It is serene. I have found the winters serene. We have three fireplaces in our home, but I love the one in the living room the best—it is a wood burning fireplace. The living room has 16 windows and a double sliding glass door, so the sunlight shines in, and nature is right outside the window. In the winter, when it is really cold, we will build a fire and sit in the living room and watch the beauty out of doors. Dennis put a bird feeder on this property right past the deck. I can sit in the living room on a cold, snowy day and watch the abundance of birds come to feast on the suet and seeds. Of course, a few rude squirrels will try to chase the birds off so they can feast 00poolalso. We have enough to share.

Summer is my favorite season, and that has not changed from when I lived in the city and moved to the country. I love the fact there is a pool out back and the lake behind it. I can swim, lay out, or paddle in the boat across the lovely little lake. In the summer, the abundance of trees make it is hard to see the neighbors’ homes that are around this small body of water. In the winter, I can see two of the homes.

As spring arrives, there are signs of trees budding, the spring flowers such as tulips, daffodils, and irises are popping out of the ground. Those flowers don’t last long like summer flowers, but they are some of my favorites. The April showers come, and bring moisture to the ground to allow the flowers to sprout to their beauty once again. It is a sign of new life. It is energizing. It fills my soul with hope for a new day.

00sprinklerWhen summer arrives, it is life at its fullest. Trees are rustling in the warm breezes, flowers are blooming, geese are swimming across the pond with their new babies. People are outside mowing their lawns, weeding their gardens, swimming, riding bikes, playing ball, and enjoying the warm of the season. Everyone is active. The bees are landing on the flowers sipping the nectar to produce the rich honey. You can hear children in the distance playing outside, laughing and just being kids.

00 springIt is the cycle of life. We are born like a new spring. Sprouting into this world, receiving love and nourishment to become young, active people with hopes and dreams. We run around in life as if the summer of our lives would last forever. We feel the sun shining on us all the way to our souls and we feel refreshed. As the years go by, our autumn comes upon us. It is still beautiful, but different. Like the leaves changing, our hair color may turn to white, a few wrinkles come along, and we may have a little more trouble moving along. It is just the slowing down of nature. But . . . it is beautiful in its own way. We delight in the beautiful changing of the leaves. Why don’t we delight in the beautiful changing of ourselves? It is a wonderful time of life. Slowing down, retiring from our busy work schedules to enjoy life as we wish it to be. As the winter of our life approaches, we will lose many of our friends before it’s our time. We will see the pain of our icy roads and lost leaves in our bodies not working as well as they did in the past. There is still a quiet beauty in these days. Those peaceful, snowy days are like the peaceful later days as we prepare to meet the one who created these life cycles.

IMG_0724I look at my life in the different seasons, and I see how it all fits together. My first years as a child and becoming an adult are like the spring of my life. I was young and full of energy. I was nourished with love, food, education, faith, and friends that helped me grow and become strong. Everything I encountered was new and fresh and I was excited to move on to the next steps in my life. As I moved into the summer of my life, I became a mom. Four little boys ran around the house and I relished in the aliveness that was around me. I also had a heavy drought in the summer of my life. It was my hardest years, and I thought I wasn’t going IMG_3692 - Version 2to survive, but everything came back to being, and life continued to go and grow. I moved into my loved career and continued thriving as I have moved into the autumn of my life. There is a slowing down. I am now retired. My hair has changed colors (but not fallen out, as have happened to some of the men!). I enjoy the coolness of season. I can reflect back on the earlier years of my life (childhood, young adulthood, parenthood, and my career) with 00 birdfondness. These years have taught me many lessons and have made me the person I am today. I don’t know how long my autumn season will last. For some of my friends, the autumn and winter has taken them, for some autumn has been hard on them. But we will all be there. As I relish this time in my life, I know there will be a day, the winter of my life, when things will seem harsh and cold. I will not move around as easily as I do today. I will know that this is part of life as surely as the spring of my life was. As the winter of my life approaches, I will be looking forward to the spring of a new life for eternity, one that will be all the seasons and the best of all the seasons. I will have no regrets.

These seasons of life are all beautiful in their own way. Each cycle of life we encounter has its blessings and its problems, but it is what makes that season in life so special. I realize that I need to slow down and appreciate season I am in, and every season in my life as it comes and goes. Each season is so different. Just slow down and see the beauty in our lives as we go. Appreciate every encounter one has with others, what special times we have to connect and communicate. Appreciate the nature around us — the trees, every blade of grass, the animals, birds, flowers, even those pesky little bugs that run around on six legs. Embrace the creation we have been given. Understand that none of it is forever–it is ever changing in order to continually bring new life.

How are you enjoying and embracing each season of your life? What do you want to hold onto? What do you want to change? What beauty do you see as you think of the seasons in your life?00 Psalm 118

What Do You Expect?

What kind of expectations do you have? Are they realistic? Why do you have expectations? Years ago I learned to put expectations aside. That doesn’t mean I allow anyone to do anything or nothing and it is okay.

00 divorce 2When I got divorced, my children were pretty young. They were entering a whole new world with me—the world of a single mom, and kids with only one parent with them at a time. No longer were there two of us in a united front, ushering our children along.

Divorce is messy. I am always amazed when someone says they had a friendly divorce. Really? So, if you are so friendly, why aren’t you still married? Divorce is not natural. I believe in married for better or worse. But, sometimes things happen, people cannot adjust for whatever reason, and when divorce happens, many times there are two people at fault, not one. It has been so long since I became a single mom, that there is a lot of water under the bridge. I don’t remember everything, nor do I think I want to remember everything. Time has a way of healing.

00 socksI do know that I had expectations. I had four little boys who were in my charge approximately 26 out of 30 days. We muddled our way through those days. I will not even try to convince you that I had my act together. To tell the truth, I was overwhelmed. I went to see a counselor, and I distinctly remember being in tears saying, “Whenever I eat a meal, I have five dishes to wash, whenever I wear a pair of socks, I have five pair of socks to wash, and on and on and on. I was overwhelmed that all this was on me only. I couldn’t turn to someone when I was tired, and ask that they take over if even for five minutes. My counselor said to me, “It would be overwhelming being a single parent with two children, I cannot imagine how overwhelming it must be having four.” Really? That is supposed to make me feel better? That’s supposed to give me hope to move forward? I changed counselors!

00giftAs I started my single motherhood journey, the holidays came, birthdays came. I took my boys shopping and had them pick something out for their dad (small, of course, because I wasn’t going to spend a lot), but because I wanted them to know they needed to continue to celebrate his birthday, Father’s Day, and Christmas. I assumed (expected) he would reciprocate so that the boys would know that is the right thing to do. You know what they say about “assume”! I never received a card or gift. When he remarried, I stopped, and decided if she wanted them to celebrate their dad, it was now the step-mom’s job. I think the real truth of this was that I was hurt, and was tired of doing something that didn’t get rewarded.

That most likely is codependent behavior. I acted in a certain way, hoping that someone will take notice and act accordingly. But, people don’t see those signals. People many times just don’t notice. Sometimes people just don’t care. I have learned over the years to state what I need, or what I want. I’m not always very good at that, but it is a work in progress. I will always be a work in progress. You would think that after 68+ years, I would have this thing called life all figured out. It’s just not that easy.

Over the years I expected that all my bosses and coworkers would like me. Why not? I’m a likable person. The truth is, not everyone likes me. I no longer take that reality personally. I am not going to relate to everyone, and not everyone is going to relate to me. I have always wondered why bosses end up not liking the person they hired. Do we have a tendency to see and hear what we hope for when we interview someone, and are they not being their true selves in the interview?

00 red flagWhat about when we are dating and selecting the person we want to do life with. When I was young, I totally ignored red flags. I was never taught to look for them, so if something didn’t seem quite right, I was sure I wasn’t understanding enough. Yes, codependents have low self esteem. It must be my fault, even though I know it’s not. Or, if I knew it wasn’t me, I was really good at making excuses in my mind for that other person. It’s a dangerous road to go down.

The serenity prayer states, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”  This is a prayer written by American theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr in the 1930’s.  This prayer is used in 12-step groups to help participants realize that they can only control their own 9309cb2621bc670597eac2ad2bf52066 2actions, and not the actions of anyone else.  It is such a shame that most people don’t know the full prayer.  The prayer continues to say, ” Living one day at a time; Enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardships as a pathway to peace; Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever and ever in the next. Amen.”

I love this prayer.  It teaches me that I have no control of others, I can only control myself.  Not only that, it says I must live one day at a time, and that I should be reasonably happy.  I don’t have to be overjoyed constantly, but reasonably happy, or as I would word it, reasonably content.  I love the contentment much more than giddy happiness.  It is about accepting things as they are, the things I cannot control.

I was recently asked what I wanted for my children. Understand, that all my children are adults. We as parents have hopes and dreams for our kids. It surprised me when I answered that it was not a place I should go. I have absolutely no control over my adult children. For me to say the things I want for them, which I cannot do for them, and they must do for themselves, even if they want those things, just puts me in a place of setting myself up for worrying, bursting my way in to save, and many other things that would be harmful to either them or me. What do I want for my children? I want them to figure out life. I want them to be strong and independent. I won’t be here forever. I want them to be able to live life abundantly without me. And, yes, I want them to think of me, to spend time with me, to make me feel appreciated. The problem with that is that they have to do it the way they are comfortable. It may not be my way. I will not place those expectations on them because, 1) they may not be able to deliver; and 2) they may not do it the way I want.

I am thrilled if they call me just to talk. I am thrilled if they remember my birthday. I am thrilled if they want to come visit me. I am thrilled if they teach their children and nieces and nephews by example.

I want a lot of these things. I just don’t expect them. So, now when it comes, I am thrilled. I am thrilled to watch my kids relate to each other and care for each other. I hope they continue to have each other’s back when I am long gone.expect

What Makes You Laugh?

Today I need to write my blog. I have had a crazy and busy week. I was out of town all of last week, and I am working on a training presentation that I will do in Wisconsin next month. Toe2Saturday my husband broke his toe—not just any break—he slammed his foot into the coffee table, and his little toe was no longer facing north, but facing east! Ouch! Yeah, he had to see an orthopedic doctor to get a special insert in his shoe to keep his foot flat when walking, and at least 6-8 weeks of not taking our 3 mile daily walk. A friend of mine died rather unexpectedly Monday, and Tuesday out-of-town visitors came to visit. It’s Wednesday, and I publish on Thursday. What am I going to write? I googled, “I need a topic to write about.” I clicked on a link that said, “Writing Topics | Thoughtful Learning K-12.” Yes, that’s what I need. What would kids write about? I’m picking my “kids” topic, and writing an “adult” answer! This link is loaded with topics that I could write about. Who thought it may move me off dead center? I have picked the topic, “What Makes Me Laugh.” By the way, this website stated this topic is for Grades 1-3. That even made me laugh—I am such a child when it comes to humor!

With such a trying week, I need something that will make me smile. I will miss my friend who passed away. We weren’t best friends, he was from my high school class (see my class reunion blog), and it has been 51 years since we graduated, but he became a friend over the last 12 years as we both worked on reunion committees together, and shared life with our former classmates.

Sometimes laughter is the best medicine. I won’t tell you every thing that makes me laugh because you might call the men in white coats to take me away. I have a weird sense of humor. One of the things I love about my sweet husband of four years (see blog about him) is that we laugh a lot, and we laugh at stupid stuff. Here are a few examples of what has caught me funny. Laugh along, and think of the things that make you laugh, and enjoy some humor and lightheartedness that you may need when times are tough.

Story #1: Cheesy Poofs
One of the first vacations I have taken with my husband took us from Missouri through the southern U.S. all the way to Los Angeles for my son’s wedding, then up to San Francisco, through Utah and Wyoming, coming east on a northern route back to Missouri. We were driving through Wyoming, not where Jackson Hole and all those beautiful magnificent sites of the mountains and Yellowstone are located. We were driving through the southern part of Wyoming where everything looks the same, and there are very few exits with anything of interest. We are heading east, expecting to arrive in Sheridan, Wyoming by dinner time. That would be our evening stop for dinner and the night before moving on to our next day on the road. It was getting near lunch time and we saw nothing—no towns big enough to have any kind of restaurant. We got to an exit, and got off. Time for a bathroom break and maybe something to eat. We arrived at a service station/diner. I wish I had taken a photo of this place. It looked like an abandoned building, but it was not. I was kind of creepy looking, like you would see in the middle of nowhere in some movie where some nefarious incident is likely to happen.

IMG_3103I told Dennis that I am not eating at that diner. We can buy a prepackaged snack in their convenience store to hold us over until we get to Sheridan where we can have a good dinner and a place to sleep. I wandered throughout the store, and finally selected a bag of Cheetos and a Diet Coke. When we got back in the car, my cell phone rang, and I proceeded to answer the phone. I was chatting with one of my sons as Dennis is back driving down the highway. After a lengthy call, I hung up and commented that we should be getting closer to Sheridan, and Dennis commented that he hasn’t seen any signs lately stating the distance to Sheridan. I pulled out my iPad, and went to the Maps app. The blue dot that shows my location on the map is moving to the left. It should be moving to right if I am going west to east. So what did I do? I turned my iPad upside down! Of course, the map turns itself around, and once again my blue dot is going from right to left. I declared that we are driving west instead of east. Everything looks pretty much the same on that highway—of course it does—we saw it all from the other window before we made the rest stop!

Dennis found the next exit and turned the car around so that my blue dot was now going from the left to the right. After driving east for about 45 minutes, it is time for a bathroom break again (old people!!), and Dennis pulled off at the next exit. We saw a service station, and it sure looked like the same one we were at before, but surely it couldn’t be—had we gone that far out of our way that we were back where we started? I suggested that it was a chain of service stations, and Dennis reminded me that no one on this planet would make a chain of these abandoned looking service stations in the middle of nowhere. As we pulled in, I commented that if the signs on the garage building next door was an advertisement for something I no longer remember, we were back where we started. Sure enough, we were back there! Dennis got out of the car and went inside. When he was finished and came outside, he discovered that I was sitting in the driver’s seat, which I promptly told him to get in the other side because I was taking over the driving. He got in the passenger side, I started the car, looked over at him and we burst out laughing. We laughed so hard, we could hardly breathe! It was probably five minutes before I was no longer laughing so hard that I could pull the car out and drive to Sheridan. To say the least, we got into Sheridan after dinner time.

That’s not the end. We were finishing our trip home the next day. We left Kansas City and were driving east. We needed gas. Dennis got off the highway and drove to a service station on the north side of the interstate. I was a little hungry. I pulled out the bag of Cheetos I had bought the day before, and started nibbling. Dennis filled the car with gas, pulled out of the gas station and proceeded onto Interstate 70 going west! I immediately pointed out the error, and of course, we could not turn around until we reached the next exit. We both stared at the bag of Cheetos. I exclaimed, “Never again will I buy Cheesy Poofs! Every time I eat them, we get lost!” Four years later, when we are in a grocery store and we see a bag of Cheetos, we still burst out into laughter, and we have NEVER bought a bag of Cheetos since!

Story #2 – Driving past Auxvasse, MO
When you drive from St. Louis to Fulton, where we live, the exit one takes is Hwy 54, which takes you to Fulton, MO, Mexico, MO, and Auxvasse, MO. For the longest time I did not know how to pronounce that name. (The correct pronunciation is “Of Oz” with more of an ahh sound on the word “of”. So I called it “Ox-a-vaussie,” and everytime I said it, I thought of “Auct-a-mahee” and then either Dennis or I would say, “Wear the fox hat,” and we would burst out laughing. I will not tell you why. You have to watch this video and you will know! For me, I had to see it three times before I caught the joke. Why does it strike me funny?  I think words can be funny, and misinterpretation of words can be really funny.

Speaking of funny videos that make me roll in the aisle no matter how often I watch them are the Trunk Monkey videos. Have you ever seen a Truck Monkey video? Trunk Monkey was a series of advertisements done by Suburban Auto Group in Sandy, Oregon over a decade ago. They are amazingly funny. I don’t know if it sold many cars, but the commercials sure entertained me. You can go to You Tube to watch all of them, but I am going to share my three favorites. Hope you enjoy them!

This is only the tip of the iceberg of what tickles my funny bone. I hope you had a smile as you read about my silly life. I hope that if you are having a tough week, these few things will make you smile, even if just for a minute. Remember, life is not always tough. There are some funny moments. It’s okay to get a good belly laugh once in a while, or a lot. Do it as often as you can.

joyful heart 3

 

Baking Queen

When I was a teenager, my parents’ company office had grown out of our house to a location a few miles from home. Therefore, when I came home from school, my mom would call and tell me what to prepare or put into the oven to start dinner. It was my job to start dinner. She would complete it when she got home from work. I was pretty good at this task except for when I fell asleep watching TV, or when I would be on the phone with my friend, Frannie. Fortunately, Frannie’s parents were also business owners whose office was in their home. If my mom would get a busy signal trying to call me, she would call Frannie’s mom. They had two business lines, so she could always get through. She would ask if I was on the phone with Frannie, and if so, she would ask to have Frannie to tell me to call my mom. Answering machines, then call waiting, and texting has eliminated that issue!

00 roast beefI would get instructions on what to start for dinner. I became quite adept at cooking meals through my teen years, that served me well later in life. Cooking meals didn’t excite me. I am still good at it, but it doesn’t excite me. What excites me is baking.

There is such a difference between baking and cooking. When I stick a roast in the oven, no matter what ingredients I add to the roast, it comes out looking like a roast. Yes, it is delicious, but there is no magic. Chicken looks like chicken, green beans look like green beans, on and on and on.

00 flourNow baking — that’s a different story. There is magic in baking. I take a group of very different and strange ingredients, and the final results are something that looks nothing like the original ingredients. Most of those ingredients do not taste good alone. Don’t try to eat flour or shortening alone. Depending on the quantity and what ingredients are added, magic happens. Actually, this is probably chemistry that happens, but since I am not very scholarly when it comes to the sciences, I prefer to call it magic. The truth is, it is probably all chemistry or physics (too bad I never took those courses in school)!  When I take these baking ingredients in different quantities, depending on the recipe, the final results look nothing like the ingredients from the start.  Amazing cookies, cakes, pies, muffins, and desserts magically appear from these ingredients.

There are a few basic ingredients that go into most baking recipes:

00 rollsFlour – Oh, that white stuff.   I use King Arthur’s general purpose flour. I just feel better that it is not bleached with chemicals, like regular white flour.  I won’t go into all of that except that Canada and Europe have banned the use of the chemicals that bleach flour, so it just seems safer to use unbleached flour. It looks the same and works the same as bleached flour. There are plenty of different types of flour, but for my purposes, my recipes I am discussing are using general purpose flour.

Salt – It is the key to waking up flavors, creating balance of sweet and salty in the recipe. In bread and rolls, it controls the fermentation rate of yeast. It has a strengthening effect on the gluten protein in the dough.

00 cookiesLeavening –  There are three commonly used leavening agents:  baking soda, baking powder, and yeast.  Both baking soda and baking powder are considered dried leavening. Baking soda is a sodium bicarbonate and it reacts quickly when it encounters an acid, whereas, baking powder is sodium bicarbonate along with two acids, thus “double acting” that you see on the label of baking powder. This causes the leavening action to be slower over a period of time allowing rising, in such things as cakes and muffins. It will give a lighter texture than rising with just baking soda.  Yeast is a single-cell organism, which needs food, warmth, and moisture to thrive. It converts its food (sugar and starch), through fermentation, into carbon dioxide and alcohol. It’s the carbon dioxide that makes baked goods rise.

muffinsFats – Which is more evil, fats or sugars? It depends on who you read or whose documentary you are watching.  I think both can be dangerous. We just have to keep all things in moderation. Fat in baking contributes tenderness, moistness, and a smooth mouthfeel to the finished products, and can serve as a flavor enhancer of blended ingredients while contributing its own distinct flavor. Fats include anything from butter, oils, shortening, or lard. (I have never baked with lard).

Sugar – This is the yummy stuff, that adds sweetness to the recipe. Granted there are several things that can be used for sweeteners, such as honey, agave, a number of tasty (but scary) artificial sweeteners, and then, of course, brown sugar. Granulated sugar is scary enough, but this isn’t about health, this is about the magic of baking.

Eggs – What eggs do in a recipe is pretty easy to explain. I’m not talking about egg yolks or whites only (they have some differing results). When you cook an egg it gets hard, fried, soft boiled, hard boiled all hardens the egg. So when an egg is added to a recipe, as the item is baking up such as a cake or muffin, the egg gives it firmness. It holds everything together.

Other ingredients – chips, nuts, fruit, cocoa, etc. – used for flavor and texture.

00 assembly lineI learned how to bake in home economic classes in high school. Before that, I did what I would call minor baking at home. We used a box cake mix, a box muffin mix, and pie crust sticks (I have never touched one of those things since I have learned how to make a crust). I think I found the magic back in those days. I learned how to bake quantities, doubling cookie recipes for Christmas, making several pies at one time for Thanksgiving. I have become more adept at my baking skills and organization. If I have a lot of baking to do at one time, such as for IMG_0001Thanksgiving, I measure all my ingredients, put it in small zip-lock bags, and label the bags. The day I am doing all my baking, because pies must be fresh in my opinion, I have all these bags lined up with the ingredients and it becomes an assembly line of quickly putting together each pie. Rather than being overwhelmed baking all my Christmas cookies in a day, I make one kind of cookie a day. I hold out a few for tasting, and the rest get put in freezer bags and frozen immediately.  I don’t see them for weeks, and they don’t call my name, tempting me to eat them before its time.

00 oven cookiesThere is something therapeutic about mixing the ingredients. I put a musical playlist on the speakers in the house—Christmas music, or something that just makes me feel good. A year ago, we did a minor remodel of the kitchen. I had the cooktop removed from the island and moved to a counter on the perimeter. Then a new top was put on the island which gives me an 8 foot prep area. I have worked in kitchens with next to no counter space, so this is a joy to be able to have room for all the ingredients and work area, and it helps me stay organized and focused during preparation. I have found that if I am rushing, I will miss an ingredient or not make the recipe properly. That’s why the music plays, ingredients are in order, and I have the kitchen to myself to concentrate.

rollsFlour, sugar, fat, and salt, seem to be the basis of baking recipes. Then take those added flavorful ingredients, be it fruit or chocolate, vanilla, other flavored extracts, add it, and bake. Magic happens! Nothing looks like the basic ingredients that I began with.  I am always in awe seeing the recipe rise in the oven, brown, and its look is totally different that what it looked like when I slipped it into the oven.  Magic!

Add apples, sugar, and cinnamon, and I have the ingredients for an apple pie. Yet, if I take the ingredients of flour, salt, fat, eggs, and baking powder, I may have muffins or a cake. All of these ingredients are basic with the exception of the flavoring and how it is put together. Put together the same basic ingredients in different quantities with blueberries, and make great muffins, or once again, those same ingredients, with added cocoa powder, and baking powder, and make a chocolate cake.

little cooksOh, this is magic! I love to see the smiles, the ooh’s and ahh’s, from those to whom I serve these recipes. It is in the creation.

I have even taught the grandkids how to bake.  We have had many baking sessions, and they have fun and especially enjoy the fruits of their labors.  We try to make enough for them to take some of their creations home.  They have experimented by making gooey butter cake with a devils food cake, they have made skeleton cookies for halloween, learned to makes cinnamon rolls, and black bottom cupcakes.  A couple of them have loved baking (or maybe just the results) that they IMG_6634continue to do baking at home.

All this is so wonderful, and laden with enormous calories.  I have struggled with weight all my life, so I have found ways to enjoy these magical delights, and not pack on the pounds.  I bake now only for special occasions.  That includes having guests, or attending a party, and of course, holidays.  As I stated earlier, I freeze my Christmas cookies as soon as I remove them from the oven.  If there are any leftover desserts when guests go home, I love to load them up with the goodies to enjoy in the following days.  Who doesn’t love receiving a gift of baked goods? I try not to have any left over for me afterward.

I believe that we are created in God’s image, and when we create, be it photography, cooking and baking, painting, quilting, writing, singing, playing an instrument, and too many other creative things to mention, we are sharing God’s image. What a blessing. What a joy. What a privilege!

Stop by my home sometime. Give me a heads up. Maybe you will see and taste what new creation has come from my oven!

P.S.  Did I make you a little hungry?

00 Verse

Who Changed The Rules?

00 NothumsMy dad was an immigrant. He came to the United States in January 1930. Yes, just as the Great Depression was going on, and my dad’s family saw this country as the land of opportunity even during this time.

These boys grew up and started their own businesses. The ones that did not start their own businesses were somehow involved in business with their brothers. Here is the list of their entrepreneurial endeavors from this group of brothers: building contractors, land developer, inventor of the machine that makes seamless gutters, owner of HVAC company, owner and manufacturer of food processing systems, owner of of a gutter and siding installation business, and the list goes on and on.

None of this came easy for them. They worked hard to support their families and to build their businesses. The boys served the United States in the military. They appreciated what this country had done for them, and they honorably served to protect our freedoms.

00 little meWhen I was a little girl, I learned the “Pledge of Allegiance” and the “The Star Spangled Banner,” our national anthem, along with “America the Beautiful,” in school. It was part of our daily school life.  We learned about pride of our country and those who served our country.  I am very proud to be an American.

On September 11, 2001, many of our citizens of the U.S. and others around the world died from a senseless act of terrorism in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C.  I remember people displaying their American flags. We began singing “God Bless America” during the 7th inning stretch of the baseball games. There was great pride in the symbol of freedom, of our country, and the courage we had to stand in the midst of our suffering.

Since these days, something has turned upside down. Our American flag was the symbol of our freedom—all the freedoms that are in the constitution, and a symbol of the American dream. It was a symbol that our veterans fought and gave their lives so we could enjoy the free speech and the right of assembly. Work hard, be honest, treat others with respect, and succeed. It never represented a president, or an administration, or a particular issue in our history. It represented the freedom for ALL in the United States of America.

I have voted in every presidential election since I became voting age. That is a lot of presidents. I didn’t vote for all winners or all losers. I have never voted one party over the other. My political leanings covered all parties. Some of our leaders I was satisfied with, but on the most part, I learned that they are all flawed. None of them will be the perfect leader. Regardless, we are required to honor whoever is in charge. We don’t have to like them, and there were plenty of presidents I did not like. My faith says that I should respect them. God has allowed these leaders in place for whatever His purpose may be. As a Christ follower, I must respect that.

I think that is the operative word — respect. People seem to have lost respect lately. Children are raised without rules. Parents want to be their buddies rather than their parents, instead of guiding them and setting boundaries for their children’s protection and to teaching them how to behave in the world.  Part of parenting is setting rules (boundaries) and if not followed, consequences ensue. This will teach children how they must get along in a world where their actions, good or bad, will always have good or bad consequences.

Social media and entertainment has made fun of authority. It is no longer an honorable thing to be one in authority, it is mocked, and the children pick up this from the adults and media. They don’t have to follow any rules, there are no consequences for breaking any rules.

00 kneelingI quit watching sporting events and a lot of television, because I am tired of the mean-spirited action of others. I didn’t stop in this presidential administration. I did it earlier. I got tired of “satire” in which we make fun of human beings who were created in the image of God. I refuse to watch professional football because it breaks my heart that players dishonor the country that gives them the freedom to play sports and chose whatever career they want. I know we have have some deep issues that need resolving, but refusing to show respect when the national anthem is played at a sporting venue is the ultimate of disrespect to me. It hurts me deeply.

Kneeling doesn’t solve the problem that makes them angry. If you don’t like what is going on around you, run for office, volunteer to serve in your community. Remember the old saying, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” You may get my attention by kneeling during the National Anthem, but you won’t win me over with that. Love, yes, love is what is needed. I will listen when someone reaches out in love. Show me you mean these things by the actions in your life. Don’t make the divide bigger, use love to close the gap. I will listen to you when you quit telling people they are wrong—and that is for everyone on all side of an issue.

Its time for adults to be adults. Entertainment to be entertainment. There is a time and a place for everything.

DadsflagI love the country in which I live. It is far from perfect. It has real problems. But it is no different than the people who inhabit this country. We all have problems. We all see the world from the perspective in which we were raised, educated, and continue to be educated. It is what we call diversity. If we educate out of anger, all we teach is anger.

Right now, I am embarrassed by what I see going on in this country I love. I would just like to hide away from it all. Someone give me a call when this is over and we are all friends again. That’s what I would like to do, but that is not reality.

I am not sure how to reach out. I have struggled with this. I have come to the realization that for me it is to love whomever I come in contact. A few years ago, I wrote an ignition statement (the thing that catches me on fire), and a vision statement for my life. It states:

I want to enjoy each day to the fullest, show love to others, be a light to those who want direction, accepting others where they are, being their cheerleader, showing passion, forgiveness, love and connection. My Life Vision is: To let others know they are not alone in their challenges, they have value and worth and a voice. I want to be surrounded by those I love and enjoy the grace of their love to reach out and share it with others.

I am not perfect with either of those, but on occasion I pull these statements up and read them and remind myself what I think my mission is here on earth.

Everyone, take a deep breath. When is the last time you prayed for our country? Prayed for those in leadership? Prayed for your neighbor? When is the last time you reached out to someone in need, no matter how large or small that need may be. When we are self focused, we lose sight of the big picture. When we no longer put ourselves in the selfish middle, and look to see who is standing next to us, we can begin to work together.

All people has value and worth. Everyone has a voice. I want to use our voices harmoniously. I can shout and scream, or talk over someone. Or, I can harmonize with others, singing different notes, but blending the sweet music of our thoughts and lives together. What beautiful music we can make, if we just try.  Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39).  It’s all about love.

00 Verse

Please understand and respect that these are my thoughts and feelings. I welcome comments, but do not welcome name calling by any side. Discussion, in my opinion, should always start from a position of love. We don’t have to agree with each other. Disagreement is not the same thing as hate. If  you want to make a comment that agrees or disagrees with my thoughts and feelings, you may do so if done in a respectful way.  Thank you.

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