Monday, August 31, 2009
I found this dude about 30 minutes ago as I was trying to hang a swing from a tree in our backyard. I saw something tremble out of the corner of my eye and discovered a cicada shell. I've seen those before, but this one had a whitish looking thing coming out of it. Since I know nothing about cicadas, I thought maybe it was one that died while he was trying to molt. And then I saw it tremble again and realized it wasn't dead. Oh, no! This baby was reborn! So I quick grabbed my camera and took about 60 photos of him from every possible angle.
The ones I want to share here are the first one I took, where his wings are all shriveled up and stumpy.
Then as he emerged and the wings dried off, they spread into a pretty glorious sight. (As glorious as a bug can get, for me.)
The wings are so thin and gossamer, and truly beautiful. God's handiwork.
This month also marks some other pretty big highs and lows. The anniversary of Mom’s death, both Mom and Dad’s birthdays, and also one pretty special day to me: Dan’s birthday. We have one week until that big day, so I’d like to spend the days leading up to that marking all the ways he’s changed my life by highlighting seven things I adore about him.
First up, Dan’s sensitivity and tenderness and patience. I was completely blown away the first time I ever saw the movie “The Color Purple” with him. It was only the second time I had ever seen him cry. I was stunned that this man had such sensitivity inside of him. And I love that after knowing him for 17 years, that sensitivity hasn’t diminished. In fact, I think it’s deepened – especially when I see “that look” in his eyes when he watches our babies.
I love that Dan is sensitive and watchful over my needs. He knows that if “Amazing Grace” or “It Is Well with My Soul” or “How Great Thou Art” is sung at church, he better hold on tightly to me because I will become unglued. And I love that he knows WHY those songs affect me so deeply. After 17 years together, sometimes he knows what I need before I even know what I need. (And, yes, there are times I have to beat him over the head with it too.)
I love that he doesn’t hide his tenderness, and that he uses his arms for holding on to the things that matter. I love that his tenderness translates into patience for me and our kids. All three of us use up lots of it, daily!
And I love that he still cries at the end of “The Color Purple.”
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
Last night, I went looking for my next book to read. I pulled open the drawer in my bedside table and looked at a stack of books I had put there. They were on my "Next To Read" list.
I saw The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran and thought to myself, "Oh. I've been meaning to read that."
I lay down in bed, and held the book. I noticed there was a piece of paper stuck inside it. I opened the book and then opened the piece of paper. My breath caught in my throat when I realized what it was.
On a piece of yellow paper were the notes I jotted after my last true conversation with Dad. Here's what I wrote:
~fading, slipping away
~told him to let go when time
~asked if funeral plans, burial
~I love you, miss you, thank you
~see Mom, Jackson, ask God your questions
~promised to stay to end, take care of Maureen
~come back to me if you can
On the other side of the paper is a list of visitors he had those last few days of his life. I was dumbfounded by this scrap of paper, and then I looked at the book, and saw the page these notes were marking. That was enough to make me whimper out loud. The paper was marking the passage in The Prophet that is "...of Joy and Sorrow." Have you ever read this?
"Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Some of you say, ‘Joy is greater than sorrow,’ and others say, ‘Nay, sorrow is the greater.’
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.
Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.”
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Watch over my children. Draw close to them so they can feel you in their lives. Not just now, but when they’re old and gray too.
Thank you for their presence in my life. Help me to be present in theirs. Not just when they need a drink or a meal, but when they find a true joy and surprise in life. Let me be there to experience the newness that sneaks up on them every day.
Give my children just enough loss to make them appreciate what remains. Crack their hearts - but only if you have to, and please do it gently. And barely enough just to make your point.
Give them a sense of gratitude. Help me teach that to them. Let their days start with an invitation to you, asking you to walk alongside them. And then let their hearts overflow with gratitude for your companionship.
Teach my kids what being a good friend means. Open their hearts to your example. And speaking of examples? When I mess up, can you erase that from their memories?
And, please, Dear God, let them outlive me. I’m so afraid of losing them. Bless me (even more than you already have) with the reward of seeing their children.
Show them how to dance, Lord. Sometimes with wild abandon, other times with ache and sorrow. Let me help you teach them that the tempo can change, but the dance partner is always waiting for them.
Thank you for lending them to us and for using them as a conduit for your lessons to reach my soul. I know you speak to me through them, as you do through every aspect of my life.
I am blessed, because you have made me so.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Pork Chops with Dijon Cream Sauce
(makes 4 servings, at 5 points per serving)
4 (4 oz.) boneless center cut pork loin chops (1/2 inch thick)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
½ cup fat free reduced sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup fat free half and half OR fat free evaporated milk
1 ½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
Trim fat from chops. Sprinkle both sides evenly with salt and pepper. Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; place over medium-high heat until hot. Add chops to skillet and cook 6-8 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove chops from skillet and keep warm. Add broth to skillet, stirring to loosen browned bits. Combine mustard and half and half, add to skillet. Reduce heat and simmer 7 minutes or until sauce is thickened slightly. Spoon over chops.
(Makes 26 at 1 point each.)
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chiops
Half box (16 oz.) Fiber One cereal
1 tablespoon peanut butter
Melt chips in microwave on full power about 2 1/2 minutes. Stir until smooth and melted. Add peanut butter, stir well. Add cereal. Stir until well-coated. Drop onto cookie sheet in 26 stacks. Refrigerate.
(Makes 6 servings at 1 point each.)
1 cup Cool Whip Free Whipped Topping
4 serving fat-free sugar-free instant vanilla pudding mix
15 oz canned pumpkin
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
First, mix all ingredients together in a blender, except the cool whip. Then fold in the cool whip to create "mousse" consistency.
Speedy Moo Shu Chicken
(Makes 4 servings at 5 points each.)
3/4 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs cut in strips
1 (4 oz.) package fresh shiitake mushrooms
1/8 tsp. salt
3 cups coleslaw mix
2 tbsp. hoisin sauce
4 (7 inch) fat free flour tortillas
Spray nonstick skillet with spray and heat on medium-high heat. Cook chicken 5-6 minutes and transfer to plate. Use more spray. Add mushrooms and salt, cook 2-3 minutes until mushrooms are softened. Add coleslaw until wilted (about 2-3 minutes). Add chicken and cook about 1 minute. Remove skillet from heat and add hoisin sauce. Warm your tortillas. Use 1/2 cup of filling in each tortilla.
Monday, August 17, 2009
I must now name five blogs that I think deserve the Official Seal of Awesomeness. Hmmm... that's a hard one. My brain hurts right now, after a whirlwind evening of gymnastics and making Sit Upons with the Daisy troop. So I will ponder for a moment and get back to you.
Okay. I'm ready! Drumroll, please!
- Pillow Astronaut - This is a blog that my sister got me hooked on. I am not at all into science, but love reading Heather's thoughts on all things space. Besides, Katie wants to be an astronaut (and also a princess and a mommy), so I have to get my info somewhere!
- My Home Wellingtontown - Scrappy Sue is creative, funny, and foreign. I like that!
- Michelle Sidles - I found Michelle's blog through Jodified, which is the same place I found Gina. I love me some Jodified, but chose not to award her here because I think she has a lot on her plate right now! But I wanted to give a shout out to Michelle and Donna (see the next nominee, below) because I have so thoroughly enjoyed their blogs and getting to know them. They have both inspired me to work my camera and dig deeper.
- Diary of a Dingo - See above! But Donna is also foreign (an Australian), which I like. (See above above!) And Donna and Michelle are neighbors in real life. How cool!
- (in)courage - This isn't quite a blog, but it kind of is. It is brand new, and I heard about it from my bloggy friend Janera. I only just subscribed to the feed a few days ago, but I have truly enjoyed reading some of the inspirational writings on the site. It is a beauty, y'all. Go check it out.
Happy awesomeness, bloggy friends!
Sunday, August 16, 2009
I think one of the ways we do that is to focus on what is good in our lives, not what is bad. Showing gratitude to God and those in our lives opens our hearts for more joy.
I came across this post, and love the idea of finding five good things every day. I printed a booklet and will fill it out this week. Maybe I'll post the five things (or 35, after seven days) in a week, to let you know the good that is flowing through my life.
Why don't you experiment with me? Focus on the good, even when things might not feel so good. I'd love for you to share your five/35 things with me too!
Jeremiah 29:11 says, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" Even in exile.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
How's that for cryptic and uninformative? Go check the links, y'all. GO!!!
Monday, August 10, 2009
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
UPDATE: Thanks to my great friends, who gave me their phones and ink cartridges. I donated 22 phones and 10 ink cartridges. Awesome!