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0 In musings/ women

Post-Mother’s Day post

Last week I shared that Mother’s Day was all about me. Well, I lied. And I have Shaunti Feldhahn to blame. . . no, to thank.

On Saturday I went to a half-day conference where Shaunti spoke about the differences between men and women and why that’s so special. She’s written books For Women Only and For Men Only which is based on 8 years of research on this topic.

Whenever I find myself in the audience instead of on the platform, I try to make a commitment to myself before I arrive, that I will take away at least one key point to incorporate in my life. Otherwise it’s easy to attend conferences, not experience any growth as a result and then wonder why I even bothered committing the time and expense.

When I got home, my well-trained husband asked me, “What are we doing tomorrow? You know it’s your day!” That’s when I made a decision. My initial thought had been: curl up, read a book, take a nap, but instead I decided we would do something that absolutely shocked him. We went for a hike in the woods and did some geocaching (treasure hunting for gps geeks). Two things my husband loves to do! You see, I listened to Shaunti. I realized life is not all about me and when I celebrate the people I love most in this world, I make it easy for them to celebrate me!

We actually had a blast. I picked a trail I knew would be easy and beautiful. We took the dogs. Found two caches. At 5:00 pm we headed home when I was ready to call it quits. My husband was smart enough to remember it was my day. All the way home he said, “I can’t believe you picked hiking for Mother’s Day.

Once home, he cooked salmon on the grill. We avoided the crowds at the restuarants and I helped him clean up. It was a good day. . . a very good day.

I just ordered copies of Shaunti’s books for both my son and his NEW wife and my now-engaged daughter and my HOT soon-to-be son-in-law plus a copy for me.

As women, we are ingrained with the desire to do and to be everything for our families, but that often takes a huge toll. How can we celebrate the people we love, without ending up frustrated and resentful?

0 In musings/ recipes

Happy Mother’s Day!

I watched the show The Middle last night. It was Mother’s Day and actress Patricia Heaton’s end of day conclusion: “I’ll never do that again.” That was my Mother’s Day 1997.

Mike and I, newly married, were a month away from leading our second teen mission trip and some well-meaning church members suggested “Why don’t you hold a Mother’s Day Brunch to help kids raise money?” Instead of analyzing this idea, I immediately, obediently set out to hold a brunch to end all brunches. Each of the 20 teens cooked my favorite egg casserole. I spent Saturday shopping, planning and cooking all the rest. Because mothers are special, I also decided to purchase 50 potted plants, wrap them in foil and a big, fat bow to create that perfect “must-have” gift. I envisioned the crowds that would fill the church, laughing, celebrating, gorging themselves on a spectacular culinary feast. . . throwing cold, hard cash into the donation bucket. 10’s, 20’s, no maybe $100’s. . . all for a cause.

At 6 AM Mother’s Day, Mike and the kids tossed in bed, alarms not even close to buzzing, as I unloaded a packed SUV at the church. My plan was to transform the gray, drab Mason’s Hall basement into a festive, culinary experience.

Church service went off without a hitch that morning. I snuck out early to take my place at the head of the mile-long buffet table culminating with twenty egg casseroles and an assortment of potted plants. Each one of the mission kids politely bowed out as soon as they delivered their casserole, reporting, “we have plans.” Only my daughter and the Pastor’s kid helped with serving. Mike wisely joined in when he accurately read my body language that suggested this was going to be a very long day. Well, it turned out the whole church had plans: visiting family, restaurant reservations, lots of fun thing to do. So, there I stood. Smiling, nodding, acknowledging, yes, Mothers are special and “you, go. . . enjoy.”

In the end, $17 was netted, not by happy, satiated diners, but a sympathetic few who tossed a dollar or two into the donation bucket as they headed out the door. With clean-up, a dismantling of decorations and return of 48 unsold potted plants, I dragged my tired, ticked butt into our house around 4 PM.

Why, oh why, do we women do this to ourselves? I now have a policy: Mother’s Day is all about me. And my second policy: I don’t even feel guilty about it!

I still love my egg casserole recipe, but I serve it on Christmas morning. Enjoy.

Egg Casserole

9 eggs beaten until blended
3 cups milk
½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp dry mustard
3 slices bread, broken into pieces
1 ½ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Optional:
Cooked bacon broken into pieces
Crumbled, cooked sausage
Chopped ham
Chopped, sautéed veggies: mushrooms, peppers, onions, or whatever you
love.

Sautee your selection of optional items, drain and set aside. Mix eggs, milk, salt and mustard. Stir in bread cubes and cheese. Pour into a 9 X 13 casserole dish that has been sprayed with Pam. Cover with plastic and keep in fridge overnight. In the morning, uncover and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until done.

Note: this can be done with egg whites only, just increase to 18 eggs.

Happy Mother’s Day!

0 In musings

The Power of Words

Sometimes the words we choose are spot on, exactly as we intend, just what the listener needs to hear.  Sometimes we miss the mark.  We blow it.

Two years ago, after adopting a rescue black Lab through an online organization of dedicated Lab lovers, it took one look to choose her name.  I figured God saved me by His grace.  Now I had saved this sweet Lab, so her name would be Gracie.

As Gracie and I bonded I decided she needed to learn a few tricks.  She could be carefully molded into my new evangelism tool if I taught her to throw her paws into the air every time I squealed “Hallelujah!”  Gracie was a quick study.  After one afternoon of practice she was well on her way to spreading joy.  Besides, with every Hallelujah performance, Gracie garnered a treat.  It was a win-win arrangement.  Soon Gracie realized she could significantly advance the distribution of treats if she sat back and threw her arms up in joy every time someone walked through our door.  Gracie was relentless and she now praises the arrival of everyone from the UPS driver to invited friends.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhLQDpsofm0]

Recently I conducted the children’s message at our church. The morning’s topic was Jesus, our best friend.  I asked myself, who my best friend?  It was Gracie, of course, and so she merited an invitation to come along to church as my prop.  She was a big hit.

When Phyllis Harmony, my speaker friend, was staying at my house, she offered to take Gracie for a walk.  I quickly accepted knowing Gracie would enjoy the exercise.  What I didn’t know was that Phyl would turn into the neighborhood evangelist.  Every few steps Phyl would toss her hands in the air and cry, “Praise the Lord!”  Gracie, at her side, just sniffed the myriad of scents along the side of the road.  But Phyllis was not deterred. She kept at it, moving up and down the streets of my neighborhood, crying out “Praise the Lord!”  Gracie continued to sniff.  One neighbor who was also out on a walk decided to cross the road as Phyl and her charge approached. Finally Phyl returned home convinced my dog was somehow defective.  I suspect Gracie held similar thoughts about Phyl.  “Praise the Lord” didn’t do it for my Lab, but say “Hallelujah” and she’s all yours.

Have you ever, despite good intentions, found yourself saying the wrong thing? Does it keep you from saying anything at all?  Perhaps you’ve experienced someone saying something to you that so misses the mark you wonder, “what is she thinking?” Upon hearing I was headed for my second open-heart surgery at the age of 46, an acquaintance declared, “I knew something was wrong.  You look just awful.”  Or those well meaning people who said to me when my first husband died at age 43, “Well, at least you have the kids.”

There is incredible power in the words we choose and it’s with our words we can uplift and encourage or tear down and harm. I suggest we not choose the easy way out of remaining silent, but rather we need to ask ourselves “how are these words received?”

0 In musings

Roadkill

I was out photographing roadkill this morning.  Some furry little squirrel must have zigged when he should have zagged and a vehicle caught him off guard.  From the looks of him, it must have been an 18-wheeler. His face showed the anguish of his final breath, so out of respect I found a squished beer can and covered up the gory stuff.  It was sad.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m an animal lover extraordinaire.  I even love that family of skunks who keep suggesting to my bubbly black Lab that they are not interested in starting up a relationship.  My own animals are my family, children who just happen to walk on four legs instead of two. My screen saver is a picture of my daughter’s kitty, Jaden, my only grandchild to date.  Jaden is mentally unbalanced, as many kitties are, and that makes her all the more lovable.

Jaden: crazy cat, precious granddaughter.

As I was carefully setting the scene for the squirrel’s photo shoot a nice driver lady assumed I was trying to cross the road. So she stopped and waved me across.  Traffic began building behind her.  Then she noticed the camera in my hand and the roadkill at my feet.  I chose to smile and wave as the line of cars lurched past me.  Those drivers just didn’t understand.  I was photographing the little squirrel not out of some morbid need to document, but as a gift for my friend, Phyllis Harmony of Ohio.

Phyllis and I met in the late 1990s at a speaker-wannabe conference and we’ve been dear friends, albeit long-distance ones, ever since.  Recently Phyllis had the opportunity to speak at my church’s annual Women’s Retreat. We were all blessed.

At the retreat, Phyl shared a hysterical but poignant story about roadkill.  It’s a story every mother, grandmother, and daughter needs to hear.  It’s about family and life – not  death – and the power of humor.

Phyl has gone back to Ohio and as I returned home with camera in hand, I noticed a squirrel dancing on my front step. Phyl’s “Thinking of You” roadkill card will be in the mail later today.  I felt a feeling of joy.  Life goes on.