Friday, February 20, 2015

Blessings in the Grief

I hit the floor running this morning. The alarm went off a little after 5am and I flew down the stairs.
I’m anxious to put the lid on this really crummy week.
Pain. Grief. Tears. Mourning the loss of not just a family member, but my favorite uncle. The one who loved to laugh and make others laugh, too. The one who lived and loved with his whole heart. The handsome one who adored his beautiful bride after 50+ years and breathed his last while holding her hand. He was the one who always took the back roads in bouncy jeeps and trucks and each path led through tall pines with a lake at the end and there would be fishing and memories made for tomorrow.

I get a pot of strong coffee going and head to my box of L'oreal, medium brown. I can’t let people I haven’t seen in 20-30 years know about all this gray eager to make a statement – one that says, “Hey! Yeah, the years have been good and I’m blessed an’ all but the rough patches have been deep and wide and I have all this gray and wrinkles to prove it.”

The sink is full of yesterday’s dishes.
The dogs have tracked in remnants of an untidy back yard and there’s a little something dear daughter tracked in from the chicken coop now smeared across my floor and it’s all screaming at me…but the clock.
Time ticks on and I’m 15 minutes away from being a secretary again and answering phones and smiling and folding papers.
But it’s the day we've been dreading and we have to pack and leave for this sad and final good-by trip.

Then the phone call – the one needing a few minutes of my time and signature and needing it today.
And where in the world are my keys?
And the clock ticks forward.
And I’m late.
And it all burns inside.
This hurry. This stress. The pain of this wife without a husband and grown children still needing their father and I can’t believe he’s really gone. I heard there will be bag pipers churning out Amazing Grace for the believers and the non and white doves released as if chasing him toward Heaven.
And the voice on the phone wants an answer and wants it now…
            and my tears come.
It’s too much. I bubble over in frustration and hand the phone to my husband…
            and breathe.

From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. Psalm 61:2

Yet in the middle of the grief, the condolences, the memories with their fuzzy edges and the tear-stained photos in black and white, the blessings emerge.
They show themselves in the reuniting of family and friends. Relationships rediscovered that never really died. There are blessings as we strengthen, love and encourage one another and whether the believer or the non... 
              all glory to God.

Friday, January 16, 2015

My Old Friend

I’m going to visit an old friend today.
Or maybe tomorrow.
She holds a huge piece of my heart, as we’ve shared so much together over the years. She’s watched my children grow. She’s experienced the thrills, the disappointments, the tears and the triumphs of life right along with me. She has seen it all and has always been right there for me. Though I’m not able to visit as often as I would like, she’s very forgiving and understanding and seems all too happy with the moments I can afford.
I hope that in our time together I’m able to give back just a portion of what she gives me. I feel like I’m always the one doing the taking while she's all about the giving.
She’s not looking quite “herself” these days, but I know that with a little time spent together, we’ll both be sparkling once again from the inside out.
I do miss my old friend…it’s been far too long.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Grout Lines

I woke up yesterday to a very unpleasant discovery in the living room…right next to the Christmas tree. Seems my yellow lab had been left inside all night and decided that right next to the wrapped presents beneath the tree would be the best place to leave a rather unsightly deposit.
Bless his heart.
Thankfully, we have tile floors which makes clean up much easier than carpet.
Unfortunately, tile comes with grout lines which means that any substance of a “loose” nature hits those lines and immediately heads in all four directions.
This dog-sized surprise covered 2 very large tiles and yes, it was heading down all surrounding grout lines straight for the gifts beneath my Christmas tree!
Quickly, before my coffee and before I’d cleared the morning cob webs from my brain, I put the dog OUTside then grumbled and growled my way through cleaning up the whole mess.
Finally, after 2…no, 3…trips out to the garbage can I settled myself with my much-needed and well-deserved cup of coffee.
But I couldn’t help but see the analogy in the moment.
God showed me that whatever we put out there, whatever we share of ourselves, whether God glorifying or otherwise, SPREADS! What we say and do truly effects others. The words we speak can pour out of our mouths and hit those grout lines in the form of friends, family, social media, etc., and cast an immediate light on our state of heart. Our actions and our words, when shared with the rest of the world or just one on one, says a lot about who we are and to Whom we belong.
In essence, we have the power to either repel or attract.
The choice is ours.

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds  and glorify God  on the day he visits us. (1 Peter 2:11-12) NIV

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Random Thoughts for 11/20/14

I have a dream. I’m sure you do, too.
It’s a hope and a wish, really. Something to strive for. A great big sparkly desire held tight in my heart of hearts.
I see glimpses of what the dream will look like when it’s finally realized...when I’m standing there in the big middle of it smiling and breathing deep. 
But like anything else in life worth waiting for, the biggest, grandest of dreams seem to take the most time. The most sleepless nights. The most prayer.
It takes a precise measuring out of ingredients. Mixing in a little of this and a lot of that. And then the wait.
Oh, the process!
And all the while, I’m being “processed,” too. It’s an ugly battle of releasing my impatience, worry and anxiety from tightly-clenched fists and handing it over to the Giver of dreams. Trusting Him. Growing faith in Him. Following Him. Allowing Him to work the dream at His pace...not mine.
And in all that waiting and hoping and trusting, I’ve realized that I’m only supposed to see the glimpses. For now, I’m to only hear the rustling of angel’s wings. For now, I’m to only catch its slight, sweet fragrance on a passing breeze.
For now....
I press on(A) toward the goal to win the prize(B) for which God has called(C) me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3:14) NIV


I'm beyond blessed to live so close to where I work. Each day I leave the church office and drive around the corner to my house for lunch.
Today it was bacon and eggs. Nothing else sounded good, as it's been one of those cloudy, cooler, come-on-and-rain-already, I-even-wore-a-turtleneck kind of days.
Bacon and eggs isn't a quick, "gotta get back to work" kind of meal. It's comfort food plain and simple. The kind that lets you know you're "home," settled. Ready to hang out and relax awhile.
It's funny how just a few minutes of the true comfort of "home" can recharge me for the rest of the day...much like spending a precious few minutes in God's Word and in His presence through prayer recharges my soul. His Word brings peace and joy to the very heart of me.
Whatever struggles or challenges, whatever weight is pressing in on me, spending just a few minutes with my Jesus resets and recharges my spirit. With Him, I know I'm "home" and in that safe place.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, 
equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)


Oh, and THIS happened again. My son, now a whopping 22 years old and just under 6 feet tall...well, you can read all about it Here

Thanks so much for stopping by and letting me share my random thoughts with you.
Wishing you many blessings today and always,

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Stuff of Life

I remember how much I used to love the swings at the playground when I was young. I’d swing higher and higher and then jump/fly off to see how far away I could land.
And then there was the merry-go-round. My playground friends and I would pile on to see just how fast we could spin before one of us either got sick or until we’d had enough of the bouncing, the spinning and the squeak of rusty metal. We’d then drag our feet on the ground to slow it down before jumping off dizzy and giggling.
Life, for me, lately has been that merry-go-round (hence the inconsistent blog posts).  One thing cascades into another and then another and sometimes I just want to stop the spinning and jump off the ride.

It’s a busy time, and in the midst of the chaos, my house is suffering from a sort of identity crisis. It’s decorated half-way between fall and Christmas. I’m doing a little bit here and there and the tree is going up this weekend.

And then there’s the magazine. All SORTS of to-dos associated with this right now.

Oh yeah…and we’re remodeling 2 bathrooms at the same time. So, right now, we’re 4 people under 1 roof sharing ONE bathroom. Upstairs, there’s an almost-done bathroom where we can actually shower and even flush the toilet! (Don't you go gettin' jealous now, LOL). The main one downstairs, sadly…well, you know.
And then during the day, I’m here at the church office pushing papers around, typing away at my computer, answering phones and offering a prayer or a listening ear for those who need it.

After that, I’m back at home cooking, cleaning, picking up dog hair, doing laundry…the usual…

all for these precious people.

And in between the busy and the running and the spinning…God offers little glimpses, little reminders to carve out little moments in the day to be still and quiet. To simply breathe. Reminders to inhale His peace and His joy and exhale ALL the rest. 
(Taken this morning - zoomed in from my not-so-clean kitchen window.)
This life is a gift. His design. We take each day, each moment as He prescribes. 
We go about our days breathless and harried. 
Always the clock.
Always pressed between the minutes.
And the merry-go-round keeps spinning.
Take time to be still. To be quiet. To simply breathe.

And the world is passing away along with its desires, 
but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:17)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Eager to Be Heard

I wish I was better with bird names.
I wish I could just hear their sweet song coming from high up in a tree somewhere and announce with great confidence, “Oh, that’s a red-winged something-something.”
Sadly…I cannot.
Like a couple of days ago – I happened to glance up from the kitchen sink to see what looked like someone's run-away canary sipping from my patio fountain. I just stopped and stared not wanting to scare it away. It stared back at me through my dirty window, (water spotted from my doves who splash around in their water dish) bright yellow and alert waiting for my next move. It quickly fluttered away toward the pepper trees and I returned to filling the dishwasher.
Minutes later, the little darling started in with such a beautiful call. Such a sweet song from such a tiny creature eager to be heard.
Hmmm…aren’t we all eager to be heard?

It seems the enemy’s running at full speed through our world today
trying to silence the voice of the believer.
Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—
    those he redeemed from the hand of the foe, (Psalm 107:2)
2 Corinthians 5:20 says we are ambassadors for Christ. We’re to be fishers of men (Matthew 4:19). The gospel is to be published among all nations (Mark 13:10).
How can we NOT share His amazing work in our lives???
I just want to encourage you, friend…Share. Your. Story. Share what the Lord has done for you. Share how He’s pulled you through. Share who you were then and who you are now and let the world know that it’s all because of Jesus.
Write it. Speak it. Sing it. Share it. Talk it up and never let the story wane because it hasn’t ended yet. Your story isn’t over. If you’re still here, He’s STILL working! There’s more to be done. There’s someone who still needs to hear about Him through you! Someone out there is hungry for the joy and the peace and the power of our one true living God.
Let your story sing bigger and louder than those trying to silence it. 
Oh, dear friend...your heart beats because of the Lord. 
If it beats for the Lord…let the world know it.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Amazing Salmon Bisque

So, I brought out my boots and socks today and tossed the flip-flops aside. Just a little sign that I’m officially ready for fall (even though we’re expecting hot, dry Santa Ana winds down in our area later this week…grumble and growl). I love all things autumn, but it looks like I'll have to wait a few more days.

I also especially love Mondays; it’s my errand day. Grocery shopping day. My pay the bills day. Buy massive quantities of bird seed day. AND…it’s also cook and bake and don’t be afraid to try new recipes day J And today was no exception.

I noticed a box of seafood stock in my pantry this morning so the wheels started turning. I threw this together today after all the groceries were put away (after I’d made the recipe in my head about 14 times, LOL) and I’m happy to share it with you. My measurements aren’t exact – you’ll have to be the judge, depending on how large your fillets are.

What you’ll need:
3-4 small to medium Salmon fillets (Not whole fillets - I just used packaged, frozen fillets)
1 shallot, diced
2 celery stalks, diced small
½ red bell pepper, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. flour
26 oz. seafood stock
2 c. white wine
1 c. heavy cream
¾ of small container sour cream
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh Italian parsley
Seafood seasoning (I used Old Bay)
Olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
Red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper

Pour a Tbsp. or so of olive oil in a large pot (with a lid). Cook salmon fillets, both sides. Season with your favorite seafood seasoning. Once cooked, removed from pot and set aside.
In same pot, scrape up little bits of salmon from bottom. Add 1 Tbsp. of olive oil and a pat of butter. Sautee shallots, bell better and celery until translucent. Add a little salt and pepper while cooking. Add minced garlic and cook another minute or so, but don’t let garlic brown.
Add white wine. Bring to a slow boil and cook until liquid reduces by about half (about 7-8 minutes).
Reduce heat and sprinkle flour over mixture. Cook a few minutes to thicken (I use a whisk to mix it in well). Add tomato paste, rosemary and red pepper flakes and mix.
Whisk in seafood stock and bring back to a boil. Add heavy cream and sour cream. Mix well.
Break salmon into pieces and add to the pot.
I used an emulsion blender to blend it all together and thicken it.
Add Italian parsley.



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