FavoriteDaddy reading The Hobbit to PinkGirl last night.
In a previous post, entitled “I’m not your ‘fun’ friend.” I said I didn’t have a lot of patience for “surface” conversation because I have issues and that you either get used to me or you avoid me. (CLICK HERE to read that post.)
It set me thinking about why I’m so intense about life and so overly aware of lost opportunity.
I came up with four reasons:
I’m skipping over #2 because I’ve been thinking a lot about #3 lately.
Death. What do I mean by that? Let me tell you a story.
On Tuesday, January 12, 1988, Lee, an attorney, went to a meeting at a doctor’s office with Roger, a potential client. Roger wanted Lee to represent him in a medical malpractice lawsuit. The case had been tried before, but Roger had lost. The consult with the doctor that afternoon was intended to help Lee determine if Roger’s claims of medical malpractice were valid. Based on the doctor’s review and opinion of Roger’s medical records, Lee would make a decision to take Roger’s case or decline.
He decided not to take the case.
The meeting concluded and the doctor later recalled hearing Lee say ”Let’s go home and see our children.” Just moments later, as Lee still sat in his chair, putting papers into his briefcase, Roger calmly and quietly pulled out a .25-caliber handgun, put it to Lee’s right temple and pulled the trigger.
Two more shots were fired before the doctor managed to wrench the gun out of Roger’s hand and when Roger tried to run away, the doctor, his body coursing with adrenaline, chased him down and tackled him, pinning him until police arrived. Roger was arrested and just a few weeks later, he tried to end his life by shoving a 6 inch ball point pen 5 inches into his chest and 3.5 inches into his heart. When they found him, he apologized for failing to kill himself.
I didn’t know Roger. I knew Lee.
I was 23 when he was murdered. He had taken a risk hiring a 21 year old college dropout with no legal experience to work as his secretary. I spent 18 months working for him before I quit to go back to school. At that time, he was a sole practitioner, so most of those 18 months, it was just the two of us working alone in a small office. He used to walk around the office in sock feet while the shoeshine guy in the lobby shined his shoes, he would forget to turn off his tape recorder after he finished dictating in the car and would accidently record himself singing to the radio and he’s the only person I ever met who actually did break a tooth by chewing ice. I washed his coffee mug every day, picked up his lunch orders, and accidently saw him in his skivvies when he walked into his garage not knowing I was in there talking to his wife. I was his house sitter, his dog sitter and his baby sitter.
For nearly 18 months, I spent five days a week working in an office alone with that man and I never, not once, shared my faith with him.
To this day, when thoughts of Lee enter my mind, they are immediately followed by this one: If that man is in Hell, I had something to do with it.
In those 18 months, I had multiple opportunities to initiate a discussion about faith. It’s not that I wasn’t aware of them. I let each and every one pass.
Because I was 22. I was undereducated compared to him. He was important and he was professional and he was intelligent. And I was intimidated. So I stayed safely silent.
When Lee left his house that Tuesday morning in 1988, it never even crossed his mind that he would be shot in the head at point-blank range by a bitter, 72 year old man. When the doctor greeted his visitors that afternoon, he had no idea that less than an hour later, he would save his own life by wrestling a gun out of someone’s hand. When the paralegal left her routine office job that afternoon to attend a simple meeting, she had no idea she would see her boss murdered right before her eyes. When Lee said goodbye to his wife that morning, she had no idea it would be the last time she ever saw him alive. When he hugged and kissed his two little girls goodnight on Monday, they had no idea it was be the last time they felt their daddy’s arms around them.
When I left that job, I had no idea that my lack of courage would later leave me filled with regret; that my choice to stay within the boundaries of my comfort zone would result in such serious or long lasting discomfort; that I would forever wish that I had said something about my faith in Jesus Christ.
But wishing don’t make it so.
Is it possible that Lee was a Christian and I just never knew it? Sure. But that’s not the point. The point is that I didn’t know. How is that possible? This wasn’t a strained, formal or awkward relationship. I was comfortable talking to him from the moment I met him. My job interview took place in his car while he made an emergency trip to the mall to rescue his wife and baby daughter after she locked her keys inside her car.
It’s just wrong that I knew he wore tighty whities but didn’t know if he knew Jesus Christ. And yes. I do know how weird that sounds, but stay with me people, I’m making a point here.
Time’s a wastin.
We all have opportunities to talk to people about how are lives are different as a result of our relationship with Christ. Every single one of us. Every. single. day. Without exception. But if we aren’t intentional about our choices, those opportunities expire.
Sometimes, we don’t get a second chance.
Life is too short to waste it. People are dying every day. People will wake up in the morning and have no idea that it will be their last day on earth – or a loved one’s last day on earth. And too many of us spend this precious gift of time focused on things that fade away. Too many of us slink away from the difficult conversations because it’s easier to talk about “surface” stuff. Too many of us are afraid to look someone directly, maybe even uncomfortably, in the eye and ask, “How are you, really?”
God gives me opportunities to serve Him EVERY day. Every day, multiple times, I choose to ignore Him or obey Him. My prayer is that I choose the latter much, much more often than the former. Because, in the end, after I’ve spent my last day on earth, I’m desperate for God to say “Well done.“
Think back over your life.
What was something you prayed about that you believed at the time turned out very badly but now, in retrospect, you see was the best thing that could have happened?
Can you see situations in your life where God saved you from a negative consequence or used a bad situation as a foundation for something great? Did someone else share their God story with you?
I want to hear about your blessing in disguise!!!
Comment! Email! If you know me in “real” life, tell me face to face!
In my previous post, entitled “I’m not your “fun” friend.” I said the reason I prefer “real” conversation over “surface” conversation is because I have “issues” and that you either get used to me or you avoid me.
(CLICK HERE to read that post – it’s short.)
I’ve been thinking about why I’m so intense about everything. Why do I prefer the deeper conversations? Why am I addicted to learning? What is this freakish obsession I have with setting and moving toward goals? Why does the word “can’t” challenge me to defy it? Why is good enough NOT good enough? Why am I so competitive, even with myself? Why am I so passionate about encouraging other people figure out what they want and GO AFTER IT? Why am I so relentless about being actively engaged in an intimate relationship with God – and inspiring others to do the same?
Why am I so intense about LIFE?
I’ve always been overly aware of the passing of time. Of missed opportunity. Lost opportunity.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about why and I immediately came up with four reasons:
1. Saturday mornings
2. TV Overdose
4. Preparation meets opportunity
Saturday mornings were the first thing to come to mind.
I grew up with a mom who loved to sleep.
When I was little, every Saturday was the same. I would wake up early, because, well, I was a little kid. I would crack open my bedroom door and slowly, as quietly as I possibly could, sneak into the kitchen for some cereal. It was slow progress, because the goal was to be completely, totally silent.
The goal was to NOT wake up my mother.
My dad usually worked on Saturday, and he was out of the house early. My mom’s bedroom door was between my room and the kitchen. The kitchen and her bedroom were connected by a wall. Another bedroom wall – the wall with her bedroom door on it – connected to the living room. Where the TV was.
All I wanted to do was get some cereal and watch Saturday morning cartoons. Simple. Kid simple.
Sometimes, I pulled it off. Slowly and silently opening the normally squeaky metal bifold door of the pantry, getting the cereal box down, silently opening the cabinet for a bowl. Silently opening the fridge for the milk by prying the rubber seal open with my fingers instead of pulling the door handle which would have resulted in the sound of the vacuum being broken. Pouring the cereal was the tough part. There’s nothing silent about Lucky Charms hitting melmac. Sometimes, that would be my undoing. Other days, I got lucky and made it through.
Then came the most difficult part. I’d take my cereal bowl into the living room and sit crisscross applesauce, arm’s length from the TV. Volume controls were manual dials back then, so I could turn the volume all the way down before I even turned on the TV. Then came another tense moment. Pulling the TV power knob on made a click noise. Then the electronic hum that followed as the TV warmed up. Sometimes that was as far as I got.
Other days, I made it through. Then came the channel. The good news was that there were only three to choose from: 2, 6 and 9, so I stood a 33% chance that the channel was already tuned to the show I wanted to watch. Other days, I was paralyzed by the dilemma. Do I watch something I didn’t want to or risk turning the knob? Eventually, I got very good at stealth channel changing: a tight, full-handed grip with a s-l-o-w turn. The worst days were when the channel was on 2. Channel 6 to 9 and 9 to 6 were a breeze. But switch between channels 2 and 9? I’d just watch Heckle and Jeckle.
Once I made it to the channel I wanted, there was no sense of relief. The volume was still all the way down.
This part was something I couldn’t really control, but I still tried. I would sit, still arm’s length from the TV, and slowly turn up the volume until I could hear it. Watching a show required constant monitoring. Turn the volume up for dialog, down for music and effects. When I did get caught, it was music and effects that got me every time.
Sometimes, I got lucky. There was only a voice, calling my name. I would turn the volume all the way down and wait. Silently. Other times, I would turn the TV off and slink to the kitchen with my cereal bowl and silently – always silently – put it in the sink. Or even better, slip back into my bedroom with the bowl and shut the door. That way, if she actually got up and opened her bedroom door to look in the living room, there would be no evidence I was ever there. Unless she walked over and touched the top of the TV. If it was warm, I was discovered. More often than not, she would just look out and then go back to bed. I would wait for a while and start again.
For as many times as I made it, there were just as many times as I got caught. The consequences? Get into my mom’s bed with her and stay there until she woke up. Which – on Saturdays, never ever happened before noon.
The sun would be streaming through the window and my mom would be asleep next to me. Notice I didn’t say “sound” asleep. The slightest movement on my part would be immediately met with “be still.” In an effort to keep me safe and protected while she slept, she would reach one arm over and gently place her hand on my arm or my leg. The slightest movement on my part would wake her. I literally watched minutes tick by on a clock. Way, way, way too many minutes.
How has this manifested itself in me?
I hate sleep.
Literally. I just don’t like it. When I sleep, I feel like I’m missing stuff. Opportunities. Experiences. Life. Sometimes, I think that the only reason I can sleep at night is because there’s nothing else to do. Everybody else is sleeping, so I might as well get it over with. I don’t often nap. I have to be non-functionally exhausted or sick to intentionally take a nap.
I think this sense of missing out on life is one reason I’m so focused on “real” conversation with people. Why I can’t take too much “surface” talk before I start asking people questions about themselves. Why I crave conversations that make me think, that open my mind to perspectives other than my own.
It’s why I don’t “do nothing” well. I’ve done enough “nothing” to last me the rest of my life.
“Here’s what you do,” said Elisha. “Go up and down the street and borrow jugs and bowls from all your neighbors. And not just a few—all you can get. Then come home and lock the door behind you, you and your sons. Pour oil into each container; when each is full, set it aside.” She did what he said. She locked the door behind her and her sons; as they brought the containers to her, she filled them. When all the jugs and bowls were full, she said to one of her sons, “Another jug, please.” He said, “That’s it. There are no more jugs.” Then the oil stopped.
2 Kings 4:3-6 (The Message)
When I was a little girl, I used to pray for an unextraordinary life.
I thought that blessings were limited and were balanced with tragedy – things I feared. There was this imaginary teeter-totter in my head. All the blessings were piled on one seat while challenges and troubles were precariously stacked on the other. One blessing too much would tip the balance and God would have to step in and even things up.
I figured, if nothing really great happened to me, then nothing really bad would happen to me. So I prayed for a balanced teeter-totter.
It was safe.
Kid theology at it’s finest.
I rarely asked for blessings in my life, because in my mind, a blessing would always come with some sort of down side. And the down side wouldn’t always be in my life. If I experienced a blessing, I was always looking for where God would even it up. Who would get the trial? Would it be me? One of my parents? My siblings? Friends?
And there were degrees of blessings and trials. If I got to go to Disney World, some kid out there didn’t – because they came down with strep throat. If my family won the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweeptakes? Someone. might. die.
The blessings I already experienced weren’t often recognized. “Normal” life was taken for granted. I viewed blessings like prizes. Extraordinary.
Like I said. Kid theology at its finest.
It was a long time coming, but these days, I understand that God’s grace – and his blessings – are unlimited (and that teeter-totters are only good for broken tailbones or a chin full of stitches). When I’ve experienced trials in my life, sure God might have sent them, but it’s just as likely He allowed them. Either way, He’s promised that He will work it all for good. Even when, from my own perspective, it didn’t seem like it was for my good.
Looking back at my life, I can see blessings in what I once thought were just trials. Of course, I don’t see a blessing in every trial, but I still believe God worked it for good. Maybe someone else was blessed as a result of some trial God sent or allowed in my life. That doesn’t mean they got a blessing and God evened up the teeter-totter with me.
I’m acutely aware of the truth behind the idea that we are who we are because of everything we’ve been through. Today, I’m praying that God will use the challenges I’ve lived through – and learned through – to bless someone else. I’m praying that – the relentless and exasperating optimist I am – I can be a source of hope and encouragement to someone who might need it.
Today, I’m not afraid to ask God to bless me in an extraordinary way. I don’t need an abundance of jars so God’s blessing will continue to flow. I need one life, continuously open for Him to fill with blessings. Even if the blessings are sometimes disguised as trials.
“It is our faith that fails, not his promise. He gives above what we ask: were there more vessels, there is enough in God to fill them—enough for all, enough for each. Was not this pot of oil exhausted as long as there were any vessels to be filled from it?”
As I watched someone pour Welches grape juice into a goblet, it occurred to me – not for the first time – that I don’t get it.
What am I missing?
When the sacrament of Holy Communion begins during a church service, I begin praying. I intentionally focus my heart and mind completely on God and the examination of my life, the confession of my sins, repentance, genuine and profound thanks for the sacrifice and redeeming blood of Christ. Then an usher steps next to my pew and my focus on intimate prayer is broken. I’m supposed to get up, walk to the front of the church and eat a piece of bread and drink grape juice out of a tiny plastic cup or dip the bread into a goblet. Like an Oreo in milk.
That may sound disrespectful, but if I’m honest, that’s what I think of when I do it. God already knows that’s in my head whether I type it out loud or not.
So here’s the question: Why does the sacrament of Holy Communion feel like an interruption to that intimate prayer instead of the culmination of it?
I don’t know.
I’ve been thinking about it and this is where my mind went:
When I was in junior high (these days they call it middle school), I went through two years of confirmation classes in the Lutheran church before I was allowed to take communion for the first time. My memory tells me we went through the same curriculum twice but I’m sure I’m wrong. It just felt like it.
The best part were the snacks. Those little flower shaped butter cookies with the hole in the middle that you could stick your fingers through so you could eat your way around them in circles.
But I digress.
I remember dreading confirmation class. They used words I never understood and they didn’t explain, like “Gospel of Jesus” and sacrament and catechism and sanctification and absolution.
Okay, to be fair, it’s likely they explained some of it, but they did a poor job, because I was not the only one going through the motions waiting for snack time. Most classes, there was lecture and then they told us what words to write in the fill-in-the-blank questions in our confirmation workbooks.
Then came the day the senior pastor visited our class. He told us a detailed and moving story about twins who were born prematurely. When he got to the part about one of them dying, we were all mesmerized. He was a great storyteller. This was so much more interesting than the lectures and workbook exercises.
The pastor said that a nurse came to the parents and told them that she was able to baptize the baby before he died. The parents were so relieved. Their baby was in heaven.
I had always been cheeky, but the senior pastor had always intimidated me. So formal. Robes, suits, perfect, immovable hair, manicured fingernails. All that, combined with the fact that so many people sat in complete silence to listen to him talk every Sunday morning and waited in line to shake his hand afterward. To top it all off? His name was Pastor Abram. That was just two letters away from Abraham. He was the ultimate authority on God at that time in my young life.
Until that moment.
At that moment, he lost his credibility with me. I realized this authority figure in my life was wrong.
Out came cheeky.
I may not remember the details of 2 years of confirmation classes, but I will remember for the rest of my life what I asked him that afternoon:
“Are you saying that if the nurse hadn’t sprinkled water on the baby’s head before he died and said ‘I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost’ that the baby would have gone to Hell?”
He looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Yes.”
And I said, “Well, that’s stupid.”
You could have heard a pin drop. Every eye was on him.
He handled it with grace and evasiveness. He reminded me that I was young and explained that I didn’t understand. What he didn’t explain was how it wasn’t stupid. He didn’t refer me to a single Bible verse. Bibles weren’t necessary in confirmation class, just workbooks.
What was I too young to understand?
That Jesus’ death and resurrection weren’t enough to save a premature baby . . . but a nurse with tap water and the time to speak the words “in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost” ensured the baby would spend eternity in heaven?”
I’m older now and I DO understand. If what Pastor Abram said was true, all I needed was a nurse with a glass of water who had the ability to speak out loud, not Jesus Christ.
I didn’t learn much in confirmation class, but I learned that the ritual of baptism was meaningless compared to what Jesus did.
How does all this relate to Holy Communion?
Not sure yet. I’m still thinking about it.
We’re long time Disney freaks and I adopted this idea YEARS ago after seeing it at Walt Disney World.
I LOVE me a Disney Christmas and I’m REALLY missing Candlelight this year! But it wouldn’t be frugal. Best time EVER? Front row, smack in line with the sign language interpreter. My FAVORITE narrator is Marlee Matlin.
AFTER getting all my Christmas mugs DOWN from the attic. I do NOT stop drinking coffee in December!
We just don’t have room in the cabinet for all of them at the same time, so I switch them out. (I know I have two Cupids in the picture, Vixen was already in use.)
We hang jinglebells along the stairwell for easy whacking as we go up and down. Not surprisingly, PinkGirl does the most whacking. Sounds of the season.
We had some for the front door knob, but they broke. This post may have prompted their replacement this year.
Fathers, do not provoke or irritate or fret your children [do not be hard on them or harass them], lest they become discouraged and sullen and morose and feel inferior and frustrated. [Do not break their spirit.]
Colossians 3:21 The Amplified Bible
My daughter is a free spirit.
She sings. Loud. She sings Disney princess songs and hymns. Praise songs and jingles. She sings her own personal compositions. Sometimes they rhyme, sometimes not. Her own songs are l-o- n-g. She sings about everything. Love. Jesus. Her Heart. Disney. Sometimes she throws in a line about gross bodily functions before cracking herself up because it is SO hysterically funny. (She’s 7.) She sings in the car and doesn’t care who stares. She will climb to the top of a playground structure and sing her songs to an audience in the sky. She doesn’t care if people can hear her. She wants people to hear her.
Please don’t tell her to be quiet.
She dances. She twirls. She vogues. She bounces. She skips. She runs when and where there is open space. She swings. HIGH. She calls out “Watch me!” and wants me to take her picture. This is what happy looks like.
Please don’t tell her to sit still.
She loves to dress up. She can’t watch “Annie” without pausing the DVD player for multiple costume changes. She “invents” outfits and hairstyles. She wears prints with stripes, pink with orange and mismatched socks for “flair.” She loves lipstick and jewelry. She loves pink. Not pastel pink. PEPTO pink! BOLD pink.
Please don’t “correct” her wardrobe selections.
She loves to perform. The fireplace hearth is her stage. She wrote a play when she was in pre-kindergarten. She sat in a chair for hours on a Friday night, writing on one piece of paper after another. When it was all said and done, written on each piece of paper were the lines of each character in her play. When I typed it up for her later, she knew immediately which paper to read from next as she dictated the dialog for me. The spelling was creative, but the play was complete with a hero, a villain, a quest, and lots of songs to sing.
Please don’t tell her to “act like the other kids.”
She finds wonder in so many things. A lizard hiding in the grass. A crushed acorn. The shape of a cloud. She can’t go for a walk around the block without stopping every few feet to pick up a leaf, pet a neighbor’s cat or point out something interesting. She wants to see everything and go everywhere. And she wants to tell you all about it. Because it’s made such an imprint on her, she believes she should share it.
Please don’t make absentminded comments when she’s talking to you. She’s smart. She knows.
Don’t get me wrong. She’s not wild and undisciplined. She understands that she should whisper in a library, sit quietly attentive and respectfully listen to her teachers in class, and wear her uniform to school. She understands that sometimes she needs to follow directions instead of direct her own elaborate scripts. She knows to share and to take something she finds to lost and found. She knows that if we forget to pay for the case of soda under the grocery cart, that we are going back inside the store to make it right. She knows proper manners for the using the phone, how to handle a laptop computer and how to carry scissors. She understands that she can’t break out of line at school to chase a lizard or twirl. She knows not to run in a parking lot and to look both ways before she crosses the street. She knows to wear shorts under her skirts so no one can see “London” and that she can’t wear makeup to school and church. She even knows the only time her belly button should show in public is when she is wearing a bathing suit.
What she doesn’t know yet is that someday she may be too embarrassed to express herself “out loud” like she does now. She hasn’t spent time with “that” person. You know, the person who will try to convince her that her free and confident self-expression is inappropriate or wrong. The person who will introduce doubt and self-consciousness.
I pray that when faced with that person – that criticism – she is confident enough to stand strong and be herself. I refuse to silence her just because of what other people might think. I refuse to force her to wear what I think she should or tell her that she should only wear two braids, instead of six. I refuse to make her sit down when there’s no reason she can’t run. I refuse to squelch her spirit – just because it’s different than mine.
Sometimes it looks like she is dancing without music. She’s not. The music is in her heart. We can hear it if we just listen.
Dr. Tim Kimmel
Grace Based Parenting
This devotional, entitled “freedom to be different.” was originally posted on Pragmatic Communion on February 19, 2008. It was inspired by the book, Grace-Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel and this little girl.
Continuing in my trip down musical memory lane, here’s another artist I listened to. I tried to find “Strength of My Life” which is the song I used to perform way back in the day, but I only found a live concert performance (the second youtube clip below). I loved this song because I would sign it while I sang. The sign language for it is beautiful.
This first song is contagious.
For years decades, we’ve made something special for my dad for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s his sister’s recipe for Cranberry Salad. I remember making it as a kid, as do my sisters, but since we grew up and moved out, my mother – who fondly calls this dish “cranberry crap” – took over the job again.
This year, since my mother is in Arkansas, my father asked me if I would make it. Actually, my mother also asked me if I would make it for him and offered to give me the recipe. My father thought it would be nice if I called his sister, my Aunt Margie and ask her for it. I hadn’t spoken or seen my Aunt Margie in over ten years – not because of any problems, just logistics and lack of effort. It was a great impetus for renewing my relationship with my Aunt.
We easily fell into a very nice conversation and as she gave the me ingredients and instructions, I realized. My mother had a different version of this recipe. We had not been making my Aunt Margie’s Cranberry Salad all these years. I’ll explain and show photos as I go through the recipe.
2 bags of cranberries
2 apples (peeled and cored)
1 can of pineapple chunks (drained)
1 cup of sugar
walnuts to garnish
Wash the cranberries and discard stems and rotten berries.
Now here’s the pragmatic twist. My father delivered a hand grinder to me when he asked me to make this recipe. A hand. grinder. Serious flashback. I remember hand grinding the fruit and cranberries. Every. Year. What a mess. Cranberry juice everywhere. Seriously. A MESS. As soon as my sisters got old enough to use the grinder without losing a finger, I gladly passed the job to them. In their young naiveté, they thought it would be fun. By the time they realized it was a sticky and disgusting job, the cranberry crushing baton was completely out of my hands. When my mother took over again, I think she switched from hand grinder to blender. So over the years, the whole thing went from cranberry goo (in the grinder) to cranberry soup (in the blender).
Although resistant, I tested the grinder and my memory on the apples first. Yep. Just like old times. Applesauce anyone?
So I pulled out my handy dandy Oster chopper attachment.
And I tried again. MUCH better.
The red pieces in the applies are from the cranberries.
I chopped the cranberries, the apples and the pineapple using the “pulse” button on my chopper. Filling the container multiple times allowed me to chop in different . . . textures? Sizes? Basically, there are three different textures of cranberries and apples, ranging from finely chopped, medium chopped and barely chopped. I didn’t have to chop the pineapple very much since it started out in small chunks anyway.
That leaves the oranges. I made two changes which were a HUGE difference from how I made this as a kid. First, I zested the orange. We NEVER did that. NEVER. Didn’t even have a zester in the house growing up. I don’t own one now. I had to use a small grater. I got the sweetness and the taste, but not the texture. I’m buying a zester for next year.
The second difference with regard to the oranges? My Aunt Margie strongly emphasized removing the “white stuff” from the orange. It’s called the “pith” and while it is actually good for you, it tastes a little bitter. There are a few ways to remove the pith, but I just rolled the orange on the counter, peeled it and then cut away the white layer that remained. I also removed the inner white stuff – I’ve been calling it the “cartilage” of the orange. It’s hard and crunchy and bitter and it is THE reason I would never eat this cranberry salad. I hate that stuff. yuck.
Here’s the finished product sans the walnut garnish. I wasn’t serving any at the time of the photo and I didn’t want to waste the walnuts. I actually prefer pecans, myself. This can be made ahead and I’ve been told it freezes well too. Panara’s got nothing on my Aunt Margie.
My dad said he could tell the difference before he even tasted it, just from the way it looked. So could I. I tasted it, my younger sister tasted it, our dinner guests tried it – all with positive reactions. None of the kids would touch it. Big chickens. My dad took most of it home. I understand it’s great with vanilla ice cream.
I’m wondering, if I retain some of the fruit juice, heat it up and thicken it with cornstarch and stir it into the fruit mixture – would it make a good pie? I may test it next year in a Pillsbury pastry.
As always, I’m providing a print friendly version – CLICK HERE.
I tried. I really tried. I just can’t do it.
I cannot find any joy, satisfaction, relaxation or anything else from trimming photos, cutting paper with various scissor patterns, gluing with non-acidic adhesive, creating pithy quotations, and perfecting my handwriting with non-acidic gel pens. I understand that some people scrapbook as a hobby. It appears that my hobby is limited to the collection of scrapbooking paraphernalia.
Case in point? I’ve been married 17 years and I haven’t finished my wedding album.
So. Thanks to Shannon, this “Doesn’t Work for Me Wednesday” has prompted me into action. I have decided to part with the space hogging plethora of scrapbooking supplies which has lived – for the last 10+ years – on a bottom shelf in my laundry room.
ebay, here I come.
Instead, I’ve signed up for Blurb. Now this is MY kind of scrapbooking. A digital alternative for those obsessed with technology! With prices comparable to the cost of scrapbooks and supplies, “real” books with glossy pages and requiring a LOT less space, this is the freakishly organized way for me!
I was introduced to this site by Chris at Notes From the Trenches. She made a beautiful book and posted some great photos. Check it out!
Don’t miss this special edition of What (Doesn’t) Work for Me Wednesdays over at Rocks in My Dryer!
“Dear God, please help Mamaw understand that real freedom is about caring and sharing with your family and who you love. Please help Pappy not be sad and help him be okay that Mamaw is going away . . .
Then the sweet talking that only happens at bedtime. She is snuggled up under the covers with the stuffed animal chosen tonight, petting a cat who somehow knows she needs him right now, in a dimly lit pink room, with soft music playing. Her night light is a 2 foot Christmas angel, dressed in white, holding a candle lit by a small bulb.
“I love Mamaw, but is it okay if I like Pappy more?”
“Yes, sweetie. I know you love Mamaw, but you do more stuff with Pappy, so it makes sense that you like to spend time with him more. He does lots of fun things with you.”
“I know you’re supposed to love everyone in your family, and I really do, it’s just that Pappy really understands my imagination and he’s the best drawer ever! He can draw anything! He even helps me draw hard stuff.”
“I know. I love Pappy’s drawings too.”
“Even though some of my family lives in Georgia, I still love them too. They live far away and I love them, so now Mamaw will live far away and I can still love her. But some people in my family are more fun to play with than other people. Like TeenageGirlCousin is lots of fun and CollegeBoyCousins are lots of fun to play with but that doesn’t mean that I love them more, it just means I like to play with them more, right?”
“That’s exactly true. I know you love your family and that you love Mamaw too. But I understand that some people are more fun to play with. That doesn’t mean you don’t love the people you don’t play with. I know you love your Mamaw, but I also see how much fun you have with Pappy, and he really does understand your imagination. You’re right.”
Thinking. Petting the cat.
I kiss her soft, sweet smelling cheek , say goodnight and go into the office right next to her room to wait on her to fall asleep. Minutes pass.
“Okay. Goodnight honey. Love you.” (yes, sweetie, I’m still here)
“Love you too.”
My parents were coming over to borrow FirstHusband’s truck. My dad was helping my mom by picking up a bed given to her by a friend and they needed the truck. So we knew PinkGirl would be seeing her grandmother. We knew that my mom would be leaving in 8 days and we knew we couldn’t put it off any longer.
FirstHusband and I sat down on the floor of the family room with our coffee and asked PinkGirl to come sit with us. We wanted to talk to her.
“Because we want to talk to you about something.”
“Well, if you come and sit down, we’ll tell you, silly.”
She sits, looking at us suspiciously.
“You’re not in trouble, don’t worry.”
“oh.” Grin. Giggle.
Now this is all meshed together, so realize I’m pulling things from my memory and they may not be (probably won’t be) in order. And some of the conversation is missing.
“Mamaw (pause) is very unhappy (pause) and she has been unhappy for a long time, she’s just been pretending she was happy. She has decided (pause) that she doesn’t want to be married to Pappy anymore (pause) and that she wants to live in her own house. (pause) Her new house is in another state.”
Silence. Eyes watering. Now she’s in my lap. Arms around my neck, face in my shoulder.
“Why?” (oh. How I have been DREADING this question.)
(pause) then almost simultaneously, FirstHusband and I say, “We don’t know.”
“Why can’t she just stay married to Pappy? Why can’t she just tell the marriage people, ‘Yes, we’re happy?’ When the marriage people ask them, ‘Are you happy?’ they could just say ‘Yes, we’re happy.’ and then they could still be married. They could still live together.”
“Sweetie, (pause) Mamaw and Pappy are already divorced.”
Head buried in my shoulder. “I don’t want a grandmother anymore.”
“oh, honey, why not?”
“Not if she’s not married to Pappy.”
“Sweetie. She’s still your grandmother, even if she and Pappy aren’t married anymore.”
“But why does she have to move away? Does she not want to be with us anymore?”
(Second and third most dreaded questions.)
FirstHusband and I both, first talking over top of each other and then taking turns: “No, honey, this has nothing to to with us . . .” (and all the other stuff you say to kids when you want to assure them that divorce has nothing to do with them.)
“But why does she have to move away?”
I take this one, “We don’t know honey. (pause) What reasons can you think of?”
“Well, maybe she doesn’t want to live in Florida anymore.”
“That could be one reason.”
“Maybe she wants to live where it snows.” (PinkGirl saw snow for the first time in March.)
“Maybe. That could be another reason.”
“Maybe she just wants freedom.”
“Freedom? What do you mean by ‘freedom’?”
“Like, freedom to live by herself. In her own house. And not share it with anybody.”
“PinkGirl, that is VERY smart.”
Then, silence. Thinking.
FirstHusband says, “PinkGirl, we need you to know that Mom and Dad will NEVER get divorced.”
“But what if you . . . “
“Nope. Never. You know who my best friend is?”
PinkGirl points at me.
“Yep. Mom is my BEST friend.”
“And Daddy is MY best friend.” I add.
FirstHusband continues. “When you are thirty and have finished college and YOU get married . . .”
“. . . you need to make sure you are marrying your BEST friend. And you need to date for a long time so you know how he handles things when you disagree with him. Marriage isn’t like Sleeping Beauty, where you are singing and dancing in the forest with a Prince. Marriage isn’t always exciting. You need to make sure you want to be married to him even during the boring times and during the hard times. You need to date a long time and make sure you marry your best friend. “
I jump in, “And most of all, after you get married you have to work really hard at being married. People who get divorced start having trouble being married a LONG time before they actually get divorced. Mom and Dad make sure that we fix the tiny problems when they first happen, so that the problems don’t last and last or get bigger and bigger. If you make sure you work out little problems when they happen, you can stay best friends. (pause) Do you know what Daddy told me once? He said that every day, he asks himself a question. He . . . Daddy, you tell her.”
FirstHusband says, “Every day, I ask myself, ‘What can I do to make Mommy’s life easier or better today?’”
I pop back in, “Daddy does nice things for me all the time. It’s one way he shows me he loves me. I try to do nice things for Daddy too.”
Silence again. Thinking.
“Maybe Mamaw doesn’t know that real freedom is sharing.”
We are speechless. Again.
Then I say, “PinkGirl? You just figured out something really important about life.”
Small Grin. Silence. More Thinking.
“Can I ask Mrs. FirstGradeTeacher to pray for Mamaw? To pray that she will understand that real freedom is sharing?”
“Remember when we talked to Mrs. FirstGradeTeacher last week for our conference? Well, we told her that this was going to happen and you know what she’s been doing? She’s been praying for you.”
Grin. Then recognition.
“You knew already? Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Well, I knew you would be sad, so I didn’t want you to be sad for a long time between finding out and Mamaw moving, so I decided to tell you later, so you wouldn’t be sad for so long.”
“When is Mamaw moving away?”
“A week from tomorrow, honey.”
Tears again. “Why didn’t you tell me THEN? Now I have to be sad for a whole week!”
(Do I know my daughter or what?)
Snuggle hugs, and then I say, “PinkGirl, Mamaw and Pappy will be here in a little while, are you okay with that?”
Thinking. Then, “Well, just act normal. I don’t want to cry in front of her, so act like you told me, but that I’m not freaking out.”
“So you don’t want to talk about it with Mamaw?”
“No. If I talk about it, I’ll cry.”
Then Daddy says, “Hey, there’s something not fair here.”
PinkGirl looks confused.
But, I get it. “Mommy has been getting all the snuggles.”
PinkGirl climbs into Daddy’s lap for a huge hug.
Strategically, I ask, “Hey, would you like to invite someone over to play today?”
PinkGirl spent the rest of the afternoon playing with two friends – sisters. Happy. She went to bed without “tummy worries” as she sometimes calls it when she is upset over something.
There’s still the farewell to go through. But today? She’s doing okay.
Me? I can’t stop thinking about this.
We’re going to have to tell her.
We’re going to have to tell my sweet 7 year old something that will cause her to grieve. It will prompt a sadness in her that I won’t be able drive away with hugs or snuggles. I won’t be able to distract her, to make it better or fix it. It’s a loss she won’t understand. It’s a loss I don’t understand. It just is.
Thank you to Jenn at Mommy Needs Coffee for sharing this amazing post from Breed ‘Em and Weep. It was only after I selected these paragraphs to highlight that I realized Jenn had chosen some of the same words to quote:
Tomorrow we will tell the girls about a difficult loss. It is a peculiar thing to sit on the edge of your child’s bed, watching her sleep, knowing that tomorrow you will say something that will stop her heart briefly and force her through a door she would not have chosen herself. Children do not take kindly to loss, and why should they? As adults we can barely stand it, barely have the ability to comprehend the who-was-who-now-isn’t, the what-was-that-now-is-lost . . .
. . . I rock some more. I think: Loss is loss; there is rarely recovery. Recovery is a myth; change is what comes after a loss, not recovery. There is merely change . . .
. . . I would stand between them and the losses of the world if I could. This is why I cry. Because I am clever; I know well how to create secret compartments and tuck away unpleasantries as needed. It has not served me well over time, not really, but I have a talent for it.
My parent’s divorce is final as of today. My father will continue to live in the home they shared for the last 30 years, twenty minutes away. My mother is retiring and moving to a new home, which is a two day drive from us. She will be leaving on May 11th. Yes. That is Mother’s Day.
11 days from today.
FavoriteSon already knows. But, we are going to have to tell PinkGirl.
This simple tradition is so easy (and inexpensive) and it makes my kids feel very special.
In our house, when a kid has a birthday, they wake up to a room which has been lovingly “T.P.’d” in colored paper streamers. The night before, after the kiddo falls asleep, my husband and I sneak in and run paper streamers all over the bedroom – from one corner to another, all over the ceiling fan, from the curtains, the bed and any protruding toy on a shelf. We stumble in the dark, say “shhhhhh” way too loudly and make confusing gestures at each other in the dark, trying to convey directions. You would not believe how loud tissue paper is when you unroll it in a quiet room! Despite all that, we’ve never had a kid wake up in the middle of the sneaky decorating and catch us!
The next morning, the kid wakes up to a maze of bright, colorful streamers. In the beginning, there would be a balloon or two as well. Not anymore. We can’t seem remember that part until we’re actually streaming the room and we will NOT drive to a 24 hour store in the middle of the night to buy balloons. We love our kids. But not enough to go out and buy balloons at midnight.
We usually leave the streamers up for a week – sometimes two. Lately, we take down all the streamers on the ceiling fan except for the ones draped over the blades. Then we can turn the fan on low and the streamers will twirl and drive the cats nuts.
Last night, putting my 6 (soon to be 7) year old daughter to bed, I said, “hmmmm. We’re going to have a hard time putting streamers in this room tonight. It’s so messy we can barely walk in here.
“Oh my goodness! I need to get out of this bed and get my hiney cleaning up this room!”
(If I knew that’s all it took to get her to clean her room without nagging, I would definitely have been T.P.ing the room more than once a year!)