Monday, February 21, 2011
"I am somebody cause God don't make no junk" ~Ethel Waters
The way he said it made me smile (well, smirk). Telling a story about high school he made sure to include the term "varsity" before the word basketball. Whether or not he played varsity ball in high school had zero bearing on the story he was telling. So why include it? I've done it a million times: feeling insecure for one reason or another, I name drop or include useless facts that somehow might impress someone. It's ridiculous. A group a adults turn into insecure 17 year olds trying to be accepted or noticed or one up someone else.
When we first moved here, to Iowa, I was 24. New baby, first time as a stay at home mom, only four years of marriage under my belt, I struggled with my identity. I tried to fit in to my little community but every time I opened my mouth about anything from politics to religion, music to decorating, faith to movies, I received either blank or incredulous stares. That's how I perceived them, anyway.
Then, as more babies came and I continued to struggle with everything in life, the realization dawned that I was depressed.
I read my Bible fervently, endlessly.
I prayed, begging God for relief and healing.
I sought counselling.
I learned coping skills.
I trained my thoughts so I was telling myself Truth.
I took meds.
All of it helped. A little.
After years of struggling with the ups and downs of both major and chronic depression,there's countless times I feel like God made a mistake. I was a mistake. He didn't want me this way. I didn't want to be this way. But try as I might, I couldn't/can't change it.
"I" couldn't...can't change it.
I can do what I'm called to do and responsible to do (basically the above "list") but only God can bring healing or change.
And although He's granted times of reprieve, there's not been healing to this point.
He's also began to teach me that things I've seen as a result of depression, or things I hate about myself are simply part of who I am. They're not always good or bad, they just are. They're part of the personality He gave me.
We walk around (especially as Christians) and make value judgements about things that we have no business judging. Happy people=good people. Sad people=bad people. Happy, positive=faithful. Sad, melancholy=faithless. The thought process goes something like: If you're trusting God (reeeally trusting God) then you'll be happy (joy filled, positive, and probably quoting lots of scripture). If you're doubting, sad or depressed then you must not be trusting enough.
Yes, I've over simplified it, but there it is.
So what do you do? When you think God's made a mistake with you--at the core? What do you do? Keep trying to change it? Give up and give in? Accept it?
God doesn't make mistakes. I'm sure of that.
He also wants to keep stretching and growing us for His purposes. I'm also sure of that.
But beyond those two things, the only thing I'm sure of is Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.
Monday, February 14, 2011
I've read Little Women so many times, the back is worn and many of the pages dog-eared. But no matter how familiar the story, I'm stilled moved, convicted and touched by it. One time, reading in bed late at night, I started sobbing. Brad asked what was wrong and I slobbered through tears Beth died!
But, you've read it before, you know she dies came the quizzical response. I had no answer, just more tears as I continued reading. That's what it does to me.
As I cozied up with my fuzzy blanket, hot chocolate and a storm raging outside, the touching story of the four dear sisters carried me to tears again. No, it wasn't Beth's untimely death that provoked the flood. It was Jo's unforgiveness towards Amy after the younger sibling burns her prized possession: her manuscript. After the incident, Marmee (their mom) admonishes Jo to forgive her sister and "not let the sun go down on your anger". Jo dismisses her mother's wise advice and allows the anger to fester. Later, when they go ice skating, Jo knows that Amy didn't hear the warning about the thin ice and doesn't inform her or even stop her as she glides out toward danger. If you haven't read the book (which is a shame and you really should read it even if you're a guy) I have to tell you that Amy falls through the ice but is saved (thank you Lauri) and there is sweet reconciliation between sisters. Jo, though still prone to rash behavior, never again lets the sun go down without forgiving.
That's when I started crying.
No one else knows the anger, bitterness, envy or secret grievances we carry around with us.
No one knows when we go to bed, night after night, angry for real or perceived wrongs.
Sometimes, people can guess by words we say or how we respond to certain situations, but no one really knows.
Yet, that anger or unforgiveness or envy or jealousy or whatever we harbor, festers like an infected wound.
Sometimes those around us are hurt by it, but most often, we're the ones who suffer the most from our unforgiveness.
Say I love you while you're able.
Don't let the sun go down on your anger.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Gray hair, creaky bones, failing eyesight and now a harsh reaction to rich dairy products round out all the reasons to despise getting older. Not being able to eat cheese is the newest issue and it completely sucks. If you know me, you know I love cheese and use it in and on everything. Well, not anymore. I get sick now every time I eat it...even small amounts. How sad... tragic really that as you grow mature enough to fully appreciate things, you can't have them. Just another evil twist of fate.
Anyway, despite the slow deterioration of my body, I still love cooking. And eating. Brad knows this and offered to take me out for my birthday dinner, but I wanted the whole family to go. Taking all six of us out is cost prohibitive (unless we go to McD's which is not an option), so I opted to make my own meal.
And make it I did...all my favorites and some new ones.
Crostini with tomato bruschetta
Homemade goat cheese
Sauteed green beans with pearl onions
Fresh Italian whey bread
Triple layer chocolate peanut butter cake
The homemade goat cheese (flavored with fresh rosemary, garlic, olive oil, salt & pepper) lusciously spread on the bruschetta and whey bread tasted amazing with everything. A wonderful alternative to give me my cheese fix. Definitely something I'll be making often.
Prime rib is my favorite and frankly one of the main reasons (besides bacon) that I'm a carnivore. Roasted to perfection, every savory bite melted in my mouth.
Italian whey bread was another new recipe. As I researched the goat cheese I found several potential uses for the leftover whey created when the cheese separates. The best option to me was the bread. It was sooo yummy. Dense in texture with a subtle flavor is complimented the rest of the meal perfectly.
The dessert...well, for someone who makes cakes for a living, this wasn't my best. The recipe is great. That's not the problem. The issue was me on the phone while I was making it. I lost track of measurements twice and while it didn't effect the flavor, it most certainly effected the consistency. The end result was not bad...but not great either.
So, the winner in the birthday meal menu?
The homemade goat cheese.
Sorry, I realize this post is uninspiring and I don't even have pictures of the creations...I just wasn't on top of it...maybe next time.
I had a 6.5 pound prime rib roast and rubbed it with a paste of olive oil, thyme, garlic (10 cloves), coarse salt & pepper. I let it sit at room temp for about an hour.
I roasted it on 500* for about 30 minutes (your house will probably get smokey because of the drippings so be prepared). Then turned the oven down to 300* and cooked it until the middle internal temp was 140*--about another hour and a half. I then removed it and let it rest for about 30 minutes. Prime rib is supposed to be medium rare so don't freak out about the red--just enjoy the melt in your mouth texture of perfect meat!
This was so easy it's ridiculous.
*Heat 1 qt goats milk til it reaches 180*
*Add 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
*Gently stir and it will curdle--slightly--it's not chunky.
*Have 4 layers cheesecloth ready in a colander set in a deep bowl and gently ladle the liquid into it. Tie up the cheese cloth and hang on a spoon traversing the bowl and let it drip and separate.
*The whey ends up in the bottom and the cheese is in the cloth.
*Let it drain about 11/2 hours then gently fold in whatever flavors** you want and serve.
*I used the whey to make bread...just google "Italian Whey Bread" if you're interested.
**I used garlic, rosemary, salt, pepper & a touch olive oil. Next time I'm going to go sweet and add clover honey and maybe a little cinnamon. I'm telling you this is rich, delicious, mellow cheese with the consistency of ricotta. Yum! My kids even loved it!
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Sitting in my newly remodeled dining room, enjoying my hot black coffee the view out my window is lovely and you would never guess that if you stepped outside the blast of Arctic air hits you in the face like a two by four.
No, you don't understand.
It's not ordinary winter cold.
It's frigid cold.
18 degrees below zero cold.
My fingers clumsily trip over the keyboard because they're cold. And I'm inside.
I hate cold.
From the safety of my home the day is still beautiful despite the bone chilling winds.
Immune to the hurt and pain around me.
Desensitized by life and reacting to hurts, I erect ice walls brick by brick. Layer upon layer of anger, pride, annoyance, judgement, greed...fill in the blank.
And I see it all around me too-- this cold cold heart. Sometimes it comes out in cutting humor, a critical negative attitude or just a jaded, cynical view of life and people and God. Cold hearts don't discriminate based on race, age, socioeconomic status, intelligence, religion or politics.
Everyone is at risk. No one's immune.
Salutes my ravished ears;
Rejoice, thou ransomed souls, rejoice!
And dry those falling tears!
This wondrous thing to see;
And there the dying Lord behold,
Stretched on the bloody tree.
‘Sinners’, he cried, ‘behold the head,
This thorny wreath entwines;
Look on those wounded hands and read
Thy name in crimson lines.’
The power, the sweetness of that voice
My stony heart does move;
Makes me in Christ my Lord rejoice
And melts my soul to love.
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Playing under the eaves in the attic, I'd don dress up clothes and create my imaginary home. Complete with invisible husband and child I'd play house. Arranging furniture, cooking, speaking with a foreign accent, creating both crisis and resolutions, whiling away hours in my own world I lived contently.
All grown up and on the cusp of my 44th birthday I long for the days under the eaves. And yet, I wouldn't go back if I could.
So what do I pine for from my youth?
Certainly I'd love the energy, stamina and smooth soft skin again.
I'm glad I know more and have experienced more-both the good and the bad.
Perhaps it's the magic and wonder.
Or maybe simply the time to explore and get lost in my own imagination.
Or the daily discovery of life.
But that's still all right here, right at my fingertips.
It's not chronological age that hampers me.
My dad never stops learning and digging and wondering.
And I often see my mom filled with awe.
Tears sting my eyes when I'm lost in a moment with beautiful music or walk through trees covered in hoar frost or contemplate the deep lasting true love of my husband or connect on a heart level with one of my kids or experience the joy of seeing God at work.
All that beauty that stirs my heart points me to a different kind of grown-up life... one that will never end.