3 days ago
The menu I made the previous week said we'd be having Kale Lasagna on Sunday night. However, when I got ready to make it, it seemed I was missing a key ingredient: Lasagna noodles. Lasagna just isn't lasagna when you substitute another noodle.
I don't know about you, but on Sunday evenings, the last thing I want to do is run to Kroger, so I postponed that particular meal and decided to make up something using the kale I had, some whole wheat ciabatta rolls I'd just gotten from Sam's, and some white button mushrooms and portobello mushrooms I needed to use pronto (read: Manager Specials from Kroger).
What I ended up doing was water-sauteeing the kale with the chopped white button mushrooms, some minced garlic and a hint of salt, and then water-sauteeing the portobello mushrooms. I intended to grill the portobello mushrooms, but in the end, didn't want to get that many pans dirty, so I just threw them in the pan I'd just done the kale in.
I toasted the ciabatta rolls and put a big heap of wilted kale/mushroom on the bottom roll and then layered on a few slices of the portobello mushrooms.
It may not be a photogenic sandwich, but it was truly delicious, not to mention crazy healthy. And I am happy to say my kids DEVOURED theirs.
Proof of the devouring...
To be honest, I didn't make one for Dorien. He's not keen on greens. He is great with veggies and fruit, though, so he chowed down on kiwi and other fruit.
I think I'm getting better at creating my own meals...I usually rely almost entirely on recipes. So it felt really good to think up this one on my own and have it really be something I enjoyed!
I sit here on my bed this afternoon, with Dorien asleep beside me. I am surrounded by my latest knitting project, my Bible, Scripture Memorization book, prayer journal, iphone, and a book from the library called My Ideal Bookshelf.
And as I have circulated through each of the above mentioned items, I find myself thinking about things that might be things that you, too, think about.
The most pressing of those thoughts is on the topic of GUARANTEES.
Because we live in a culture that takes pretty good care of us and we have come to expect that from our lives, we unconsciously begin to think that things in our life should be guaranteed to work. To survive. To last for a certain amount of time.
And to be honest, that thinking is fostered by the sheer number of guarantees which are out there, plastered over products and attached with strings. It makes sense that we have come to this place of expectation.
Only it is a false promise.
There really aren't guarantees that truly make our lives painless.
Because our lives weren't meant to be painless. Yes, we may be able to exchange our vacuum cleaners if they peter out on us unexpectedly, but that's less of a heart-break and more of an inconvenience.
What about the things you really love?
Husbands, wives, children, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, dear friends, beloved pets, even our homes sometimes, or our place in life, our jobs, our roles, our happiness.
When we receive a diagnosis that stuns us or rips our world apart. When a pregnancy stops unexpectedly. When a job is taken away. When a tree falls on your car and totals it. When your pet disappears and doesn't come back. When your baby is hospitalized for a heart condition. When you think the next day will be exactly like the one before it and yet, it unexpectedly just isn't.
Right about then, you're wishing for that guarantee.
In July, our family got a new Golden Retriever, Singer. This was a purchase that was made after significant research and thought and prayer and time and waiting and if there were ever to be a line of breeding that should guarantee us at least 11 years of a happy, healthy Golden Retriever, it would make sense that it would come from this place.
Yet, out of the blue, this past Monday, as Singer was at the vet to get spayed, I received a call from our vet who had Singer hooked up to an ECG machine and noticed some odd heart beats. He was requesting my permission to fax the ECG to a cardiologist in Dallas.
Come to find out, for reasons as yet unknown, Singer was experiencing Premature Ventricular Contractions (PVCs). She was immediately pulled off anesthesia and her surgery delayed indefinitely. We're now trying to figure out what is wrong with her. The day before, I would have sworn she was the picture of health!
After hours on the phone with her breeder and even more hours on the phone with my vet and even more late hours on the internet searching for everything I can find regarding PVCs in dogs, the etiology, treatment and outcome, I find myself at a place of having more knowledge on the subject, but no more clarity on what's going on. And remarkably, I'm not freaking out about this.
It's funny because often you really do see contracts for puppies with a "health guarantee". All a breeder can really do is make good choices with her breeding stock to avoid the main breed problems, but there's never a true guarantee that something random won't show up that only God could foresee.
That may be what I'm dealing with here. I should know more in about a week.
But I do know that I wanted that guarantee because I want to be kept free from hurting over the loss of another dog that I love deeply. Just as I have friends who are looking at dramatic changes in their life when they pretty much thought they were nestled in to their current place for the rest of their adult lives.
We like guarantees. But obviously we don't need them, or God would have them literally built in to everything.
What we do need is faith in a plan greater than our own. Faith in a God who sees ALL when we just imagine shadows and flickers into stories and plans. We need faith that a God who says that He cares, does. Even when the world we live in presents us repeatedly with unexpected heartbreak and trials. We're supposed to have those things in this world, but take heart - God has overcome the world!
This life is about learning. Learning to love even when there are risks. Learning to trust when you don't see the next step before your foot lands. Learning to listen to that still, small voice of the Holy Spirit as He guides you. Learning to ignore the loud clamoring distractions of the worry and anxiety and fear that wants to dominate you. Learning to focus on the things that matter and choose not to concern yourself with the rest.
Learning to surrender and rest and persevere when it isn't easy. To make the difficult choices and follow that path which looks increasingly narrow and difficult compared to the one everyone else is walking.
Learning to embrace grace. Learning to stop hoping for guarantees and begin relying on God's promises.
Our job, our task in this life is to fear God (respect and esteem and worship Him for the little we understand and the vast amounts we don't) and keep His commandments. His instructions for living that are designed to keep our eyes on Him in the midst of a raging storm.
My kids are memorizing Isaiah 26:3 this week and it seems strangely timely...(and I'm not embarrassed to tell you that as I write these words, tears are in my eyes and my heart is broken and humble before my great God...)
"You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You."
In the search for guarantees, that's a pretty strong one.
The hardest person to buy Christmas gifts for is my mother. Even when she gives me a list. Well, that does make it slightly easier, I'll admit, but there are times when I try to go outside the box. Gift-giving is made even more challenging in that her birthday is only a few days prior to Christmas, so I try to think of something that will stand on its own as a birthday present.
This year, as it was my year to make hand-made gifts, I decided to knit my mom a teensy little ornament sweater and embroider her initial on it.
I was very pleased with how it turned out! I used a little pipe cleaner as a hanger/tree-hanger.
Dorien was very helpful in holding it for me so I could take a photograph.
Brooklyn, age 6 years, 10 months
If you're wondering why you didn't receive a Christmas card from us this year, it isn't because you fell out of favor with me, it's just because I didn't send any!
As prepared as I was for the holidays this year, the one thing I could not get excited about was putting together our family Christmas picture, picking out the card, and then mailing all of them. And when you put off something like that, it becomes an unconscious decision that you're just not sending out cards this year.
I hated not sending them out, because I personally love getting everyone's cards and seeing how big everyone's children are getting, the new children in their family, new hairstyles, etc. I love hanging them up on my walls and hearing the kids talk about the people they recognize and ask about those they don't. It really is a great thing, but this year, it just wasn't my thing.
I even had one Great Aunt call me multiple times and leave warning messages on my cell phone that if she didn't get some sort of Christmas picture....the threat was left open-ended. I caved on that one and just found a family picture my mom had taken of us and sent it to her. It seemed to hold off the reprisals.
I did manage to remember to take pictures of the kids in front of the tree. But just barely. And obviously not wearing anything particularly cute. But what's Christmas without the "in front of the tree" shot?
So, here are mine, in all their splendor.
August, age 4 years, 5 months
Me, holding a very reluctant Dorien (age 21 months). All attempts to get him standing in front of the tree on his own were thwarted by his stalwart resistance.
So a heart-felt thanks to those who graced us with your beautiful family pictures - please do not mark me off your list for next year! I promise to be more on top of things and send out a family card next year!
It's early January.
It's pouring rain outside and all my little ones are sleeping in their bedrooms
(or playing quietly behind closed doors).
Singer is drying off from her recent potty break.
A pot of beans is simmering on the stove.
A loaf of warm wheat bread rests on the counter, awaiting a dollop of salted butter.
Things could be worse.
My sister-in-law, Anna, gave Kyle and I this fantastic mounted buck for us to use as a decoration in our house. She knows I love the look of a deer head on the wall, but really don't want an actual deer head. She found this bit of ingenius design made out of laser-cut cardboard! I assembled it the other decided it needed to be in August's room. To add a bit of manliness!
It fit perfectly on one wall of August's room!
Is it not the coolest thing??
I love it.
Last year, Anna also gave me some invisible bookshelves which I also put to use in August's room!
They're equally fantastic. Thank you, Anna, for your wonderful assistance in putting August's room together!
If I were superstitious, which I am not, I would say the year 2013 has had an inauspicious beginning.
Isn't 13 supposed to be an unlucky number?
We're 5 days into this new year and thus far, it has thrown my family some very unfortunate curves.
I show you the beautiful face of my son August to cast a more happy light onto our situation.
And of course, this beautiful fur-ball makes me happier. Particularly when I bury my head in her soft fur and just breathe. She's very accommodating in that regard.
This is another ray of sunshine in our lives. Always.
Despite a very happy New Year's Eve in which my family did absolutely nothing more than hang out together and entertain ourselves in various ways - Legos obviously being involved...
Dorien, unfortunately being banned from the construction activities.
So far, this year, we've lost our cat, Ingrid. We've even gone door to door around the neighborhood to no avail. We are all heart-broken and continue to pray that she'll return to us. She is not the kind of cat to run away. In fact, I suspect she may have wandered into the van of our heating/air guy last week and gotten herself taken away. We're going to be following up on that Monday.
And Dorien has RSV. Hence the breathing treatment you see above.
My poor little guy has been sick as can be for a week now and has been very demanding as it is difficult to be sick and small.
I also tried to change phones and managed to wipe out all of my phone's contacts and pictures,etc. I managed to get lots of contacts from Kyle's phone and had backed up most of my pictures on my computer, so all was not completely lost, but it dampened my spirits considerably. And that's hard to do around Christmas time, because I absolutely love winter and Christmas!
Today, I took down our Christmas tree and holiday decorations and made the mistake of listening to a Tory Amos station on Pandora. To me, it is always sad to take down Christmas decorations, and on top of the other things going on in our lives right now, the music just made me tear up.
I tell you all the things happening with us not to depress you. I believe God is in control and that things happen in our lives that aren't pleasant and can work to our good for His glory. Doesn't mean I like going through it, though. Any more than you do.
As Kyle told me as we were talking about these things the other day, this year is young and could very well turn out to be the best year of our life yet.
Any way you look at it, even amid the bad things that happen, I am covered up with blessings. I hope you feel the same way, and no matter how this year has begun for you and your family,
I pray it turns out to be your best year yet.
(that's what we call those tiny hiney buns)
In all his glory!
Another picture? Really?
(DD - notice those teeny-weeny Timberlands? They have gotten some USE this week!)
The kids received these Hulk gloves for Christmas and have had more fun fake fighting each other.
Out of nowhere, Dorien adopted a pratfall, where he just crumples slowly to the ground after he's punched. Unless, of course, the punch wasn't something he was expecting, as you'll see in the video.
Also, one of Dorien's favorite phrases is "______'s PUSHIN me!"
Very often, Dorien is not, in fact, being pushed at all - he's usually the one DOING the pushing. But you wouldn't know it if you just listened to him throw accusations.
His other favorite (and relatively new phrase) is "STOP IT!"
He uses this anytime things don't go his way.
Which, judging by its frequency of use, is quite often.