Dec 13, 2017

Do it when it hurts

As I bent down this evening,  to place the Christmas tree skirt around the finally-bought-and-decorated-tree and then tie the opening of the skirt together in three bows, I heard the thought while still on my knees:

"Do it when it hurts."

I've found that GOD thoughts float by and sometimes I grab onto them and other times, unfortunately, I let them pass by.

As I tied the last strands of the skirt together and straightened it to the best of my ability before getting up off my knees, the tears had started to sting my eyes.  Because only The LORD knew that I didn't want to put a tree up last year, and it was only at the encouragement of a longtime friend at this Thanksgiving, that I was putting up the Christmas tree this year.

Let me start at the beginning, because, well, it's a really good place to start:

I did not put up a Christmas tree last year.

The last couple years seem to be categorized more by loss and sadness than I'd care to admit.  The biggest loss was the passing of my dad.  My mother died in 1989 and I missed her dearly; but the reality of my parents being gone as a unit has been on my mind much.   Last year at Thanksgiving and Christmas we traveled; but no matter where I went, the reality that mom and dad were no longer here to celebrate holidays together as a family unit was fresh on my mind and my heart was tender.  My mother always made every holiday special.  Thanksgiving was always celebrated with her family and Christmas - oh my, she knew how to do it right. I have a rich treasury of memories of my parents and family at holidays. I know that I am a blessed woman to have had parents that loved and cared for me.

So, last year, I didn't put up a tree.

Why didn't I? I rationalized that we were going to be in New York City for the Christmas holiday and why should I put up a tree when we weren't even going to be here?  I had planned to host a bridal shower for my best friend at our home in December, and she and her love went off on a trip of their own.  So, no holiday events were to be hosted here, and on top of that, we weren't even going to be home.  I thought it made perfect sense. Anyone agree?  I'm not the only one, am I?

But what I didn't realize that I was letting my grief win.  My joy was stolen by an unseen thief in a not-so-jolly-red-suit.

I mean, for as long as I can remember,  I'd celebrated Christmas with a tree in my home.  Some of my favorite family memories were from the holidays. And then the people who I'd known and loved all of my life, the ones who had given me life and loved me like no other, were gone. And I didn't feel like putting up a tree to commemorate a holiday that wouldn't be celebrated by, or with, my parents.  I mean, what does a holiday look like without family?

To me, it looked like a home without a tree.

I hurt too much to want to be joyful or "happy and bright", right? Anyone agree? I'm not the only one again, am I?

So, I didn't put up a tree last year.

And my reasoning seemed so rational, until Victoria Leigh came home from college for Christmas break and walked through our home and asked where the Christmas tree was!  My logic didn't sound so logical to Victoria.  Well, she went to Goodwill and bought an eight dollar, white, vintage Christmas tree.  It was pre-lit with multi-colored bulbs that we cut off the tree.  It was not the jolliest of experiences cutting each individual light off those white branches. In fact, it was a tedious and time consuming activity and we made the biggest of messes!  We can look back and laugh about it now though.

When we finished our labor, Victoria placed the tree in the dining room against the bronze walls and we decorated it, and I thought it was the most beautiful tree ever!


It was beautiful!

And it reminded me of the gift of life, the gift of a child, the gift of a friend, the gift of family, the gift of going on when life hurts.

I purchased a new white tree on Monday, The Salesman brought it in, and I made a royal mess getting it set up. Then there was the deciding where it should go... I had a Hansel and Gretel type trail of white pine needles in several pathways between three spots in the living room and one in the dining room. A tradition that was fun for many years, had become a ritual that I did not want to do.

And last year I didn't.

I did not put up a Christmas tree last year.

So, while kneeling, I hear the:

"Do it when it hurts" phrase and I think why is it so necessary to sacrifice in times of hurt? Why must I rise above the current stresses and pain, heartache and loss and make an offering of praise? Why? Why did the very simple tradition of a decorating a tree seem to be a sacrifice for me to do to The LORD? Why is life not unicorns, daisies and Skittles?  And pointy toe shoes? And scarves? Reality is hurt and heartache and loss.

But that is where the sacrifice of praise comes in at a great cost,
There in the trenches of heartache and loss:

I must praise,
All of my days...
I must praise!

YOU, are the soo much more GOD,
And with reason, and purpose and destiny, I have been shod.
YOU, are the giver and taker of life.
YOU JESUS, know heartache, loss, and strife.

YOU laid down your life.
YOU laid down your life.

YOU were born to die,
And I have dwelt in my sorrow and continue to pout and cry...
YOU were born to die.

I have wanted to curl up, and from Christmas, take a rest,
YOU say continue on, do your best!
I can rest,
Or do what is best.
Don't let it come down to the end,
And be found unwilling to bend.
When GOD gives us a hurt,
We can find beauty in what is lost and burnt.
Take it all LORD.
Be true to YOUR Word.

Help me to do life and praise, even when it hurts.
And thank YOU for lessons from tying a Christmas tree skirt.

Written December 6, 2017

And I have one picture that I took of the tree and I notice the tree skirt is perfectly clear and it is very blurry of the tree!

Dec 11, 2017

Trim Healthy Mama - Bring on Da Buttah Pancakes

Good morning!  Happy Monday!!! I hope you had a wonderful weekend! 

Last week, on a very busy work day, I had a new friend stop by for a one hour visit.  It happened to be on a morning that The Salesman had asked for pancakes and bacon.  I do try to serve him Trim Healthy Mama items any time I get the opportunity to, and this particular morning was one of those mornings! 

When my new friend, Emily, came by, I offered her some hot tea and a chair, and told her that we'd visit while I made The Salesman (and us) brunch.  We had a good visit and the brunch turned out well, too.

I had made the Bring On Da Buttah Pancakes before and I even had Trim Healthy Mama syrup to pour on top of them that I'd made too.  The Salesman requested real Maple syrup!

This recipe is an S (satisfying) single serve portion.  It is on page 262 of Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook. You will find the recipe in the Pancakes, Waffles, Crepes, and Donuts chapter. I tripled the recipe, since there were three of us.  It was easy to make and is a pretty good alternative to gluten filled pancakes.  I would make them again.  I did find that I have a hard time multi-tasking - talking and following a recipe.  I kept thinking that I'd forgotten an ingredient...

I served the pancakes with turkey bacon, butter, syrup and raspberries.



Dec 6, 2017

Looking Up

 Good morning! The early morning hours has me reflecting on our trip to St. Louis...  When we were first married, we lived and worked there.  Recently, we returned to visit family and friends and do some sightseeing.  The arch is pretty amazing as far as architecture goes. It is a weighted catenary arch. A hanging chain is a regular catenary - think of a necklace - hanging down. Without going into all the specifics about the architecture that I don't know, I want to share some thoughts that this memorial has me considering.

Like a necklace, life presents many opportunities for me to be in the posture of a chain around the neck - down. The realities of everyday life can be depressing and discouraging. It is easy to get caught up in negativity. I love the posture I have to take to enjoy the full beauty of the arch: I have to look up!

I love the rays of sunshine captured in this picture. A good reminder that the love of the LORD shines down on me, on us.  If I remain in the downward posture,  I might never see the fullness of the goodness of the LORD shining on me.

And we can choose to be a reflection of The Son. Even though we may not feel like it, we are made in the image of Our Father.

 And of course, I love this picture with the lamp light because I so enjoy lamp lights.  May I, may we, live life by The Lamp Light.

Look up, my friends!
There is joy in Him!

Dec 4, 2017

Trim Healthy Mama Deconstructed Stuffed Peppers

Good morning!

Hope you had wonderful weekend! Mine was full of fun activities: we were gifted tickets for an evening of Christmas music, attended an amazing gathering at a friend's home, and enjoyed the cast party for the play. Oh my goodness, the cast party was so much fun! Also mixed in was a visit from a friend, church, and our eldest daughter, Audra Elizabeth, came by for a visit and to help us with an insurance decision.  Shew! It was a great weekend though.

I wanted to share another review of a recipe from the new Trim Healthy Table cookbook: Desconstructed Stuffed Peppers.  It is an S (satisfying) meal and is in the Speedy Skillet Meals chapter and on page 54.

The Salesman's father had sent us a bag of fresh peppers from his garden and we have been eating them like they were candy. Seriously, so very tasty. When I came across this recipe, I knew I'd use the father-in-laws garden gold for this recipe that called for 3 to 4 peppers.  I used four.  This recipe calls for either rice or cauliflower rice and I used the cauliflower rice.  I followed the recipe closely except for the final ingredient which was the topping of cheese: the recipe called for cheddar and I used half mozzarella and half cheddar. The picture in the cookbook looked like a white cheese to me. I realize my pictures look like mostly cheese; but there are some yummy veggies tucked underneath: peppers, cauliflower, onions and tomatoes.

I must say, that I believe cauliflower is my current favorite veggie...well, right behind kale, of course!  Kale is such a power packed veggie! Any kale lovers out there? I made a recipe over the weekend that called for fresh spinach and I substituted kale and it was perfect in the dish. Kale is so good for you and if you visit my house, you will probably be served kale in some form or fashion.  So many benefits to kale: vitamins, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, cardiovascular support, fiber, etc.  Yes, I know I could serve on the Kale Council.  Wonder if there is such a board? I'd be a great promoter of kale.

Ok, back to the current recipe...

I made the family serve portion of the Deconstructed Stuffed Peppers and we enjoyed several meals from this dish.  The Salesman thought it was ok. I think it was better the second day and was glad to eat the leftovers! This recipe was so much quicker than stuffing peppers, I will be making it again!


Dec 1, 2017

For the Love of Lamp Lights - Houlihan's

Happy Friday!!! And happy December!

I hope you have had a great week and that you have a restful weekend ahead of you.

It's been a busy season here; but the play is done now and I have the cast party this weekend! It will be fun! Our company from Africa has gone back home and we have just returned from a six day trip to St. Louis where we were blessed to visit family and friends and were also able to do some sightseeing and relaxing.

The first night we were in St. Louis, I convinced The Salesman that we should eat at Houlihan's - one of our favorite restaurants when we lived there.  Although everything about the restaurant seemed different than we remembered it being 29 years ago, I really enjoyed the light fixtures...  I mean seriously, look at this Tiffany style shade - it is gorgeous!

Look up my friends!

Have a relaxing weekend.

Nov 29, 2017

Me and my curls

Good morning, lovely friends! How are you? I hope you are well.

Yesterday I went to get my hair cut and colored and highlighted and styled by my cousin, Deana.  We've been friends since as long as I can remember making the trip from Illinois to Tennessee as a young child.  Who knew that one day I'd be living in this state and sitting in Deana's chair getting my hair done? So glad to know her as family and as my hair wizard!

Every time I go to get my hair done, we have fun visiting and catching up on family while Deana curls my hair and I just feel pretty when I leave.  Yesterday, was no exception.  I don't take the time to curl my hair every day; but I certainly do enjoy the way she styles my hair on hair wizard day.

What about you - do you take time daily to "do" your hair? I usually just wash and blow dry mine and then spray it with hairspray.  When Audra got married, Deana did the most fabulous up-do for me and it stayed looking picture perfect the entire wedding and beyond.

When I arrived at the salon yesterday, Deana told me she had taken a new full time job! Oh my, the joy I felt for her! And then the sadness I felt for me, because - I so like how she does my hair.  This new job just fell in her lap and I am so happy for her. And I'm happy to report that she is still going to work me in around her new job.  Do you hear angels singing?!?

Since it's been a while since I shared a current picture of me, I thought I'd share one from yesterday.  It was finally cool enough in the morning to wear a ribbon sleeved sweater that I really liked and I snapped a picture of me and my curls and the sweater.

I hope that you have a good rest of the day! I hope that you find something that will bring a smile to your heart.