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Friday, January 17, 2014

"I am my Beloved's and He is Mine"

 When I see something interesting I put it on hold, and often I do it without much thought, so that when I go to get the book I can't even remember why I was prompted to choose that particular title.

Today I walked into the library and, for whatever reason, noticed how perfectly aligned all of those precious titles were.....each one with a slip of paper sticking out, waiting to be claimed by members of my community who are likewise obsessed.

A wave of joy swept over me, and I realized this sight may be my very favorite in the whole universe....books waiting to be inhaled!

So, I marched up to claim my book, and realized it was THE book.  THE book I had reserved two seasons ago.  THE book that I already loved without yet cracking the cover.

And on THE day I was headed out of town for my first UN-Mommy-Mommy-Mommy weekend in 3 years. What timing!  

This is a gift that I now hold in my hands.  

A gift from my Beloved.  

Who knows me.  Knows what thrills my heart.

And the best part of this gift is that I did nothing to manipulate it into existence - it was His idea.

And it does not expand the Kingdom...It doesn't bless my family...It doesn't enrich my marriage....all things that I ask for from my Heavenly Father...and all things I am thankful for.

But this gift is Just.    For.    Me.  

It has my name on it!  It comes at the perfect time when I can enjoy it most.  And it is just because He loves me, and not to further His own agenda.

Because I am His beloved and He is a Gift Giver.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Balancing Act: Healthy Dinners in my Home - Let's Get a Few Things Straight!

You know the Duggars, right?  That amazing family of 22 who live in harmony and orderliness?

Yeah.  That's not me.

I once had an acquaintance remark: "Oh, I love large families!  They are so organized!!"

I was too stunned to snort my drink out of my nose, so I think I just made a choking sound. But this statement deserved a hearty guffaw.  I should have been literally rolling on the ground with laughter, and then picking daisies out of my hair.

I have tried hard to learn...but it just hasn't happened.

You know how Rachel Ray floats around her kitchen making jokes, sharing recipes, making OOH and AHH noises as well as incredible dishes...and absolutely NO mess.

Yeah.  That's not me either.

I know it can be done.  I've seen it in real life.

I have an amazing friend named Robin who would invite our family over to her home almost every Friday night.  She would likewise float around the kitchen...preparing both dinner AND dessert, telling stories AND doing dishes at the same time.  

A dirty utensil never touches her counter....She loads the dishwasher as she is cooking.

I would watch carefully, taking detailed notes....

Open the can
Put can opener away
Dump can in skillet with spatula
Put can in trash, wiping the trash can clean
Open dishwasher and drop spatula inside
Adjust temp for the stove

Measure powdered sugar into Kitchenaid food processor
Hit pulse
Open dishwasher and drop measuring cup inside.
Realize powdered sugar container is dirty.
Start rinsing it out while telling an entertaining story.
Laugh riotously while drying the canister and refilling it with another package of powdered sugar.
(She already has a new package? How did she know she needed a new package?)
(Her scissor were right where she looked for them the first time.  This place is so strange)
Put the sparkling canister back in the cabinet while giving gentle instructions to the toddler underfoot.

Stir the main dish (open dishwasher, close dishwasher).....Boil more water for veggies.....Laugh riotously at the joke she just told....Turn on the oven for dessert....

By this time I've run out of paper.

She would deliver a perfectly cooked, still hot, attractive and healthy, totally delicious meal to the table.  And the kitchen behind her was spotless.  Like a maid had spent an hour in there.  Every. Single. Time.

No open cans.  No spilled liquids on the range.  No powdered sugar in her hair.  No tomato sauce on the ceiling.  

It was like a magical Mr. Clean vortex.

I know it was a vortex, because I tried to replicate this dance in my kitchen.  

This is the part where you snort your drink out of your nose.

It just ain't happenin.'

I'm not a very good cook.
And my timing is perfectly awful.  
My cooking is mushy or undercooked, burnt or stuck to the pan. 

And my kitchen is not Rachel Ray's or Robin's.

More along the lines of... Elmo?  The Guy on Dirty Jobs?  Mr. Wizard during the volcano episode?

So, why in the world am I starting a series about How I Feed my Family?

Well, it's mostly because I have put a whole lot of thought into making a menu, preparing a shopping list, learning about nutrition, and putting meals in front of very discerning and vocal young palates. 

I have scoured the internet for ways to feed my family tasty food despite myself.  

I have tried every trick to fool my husband into eating something green.

And I've tried to reduce the grocery budget in every way possible.  (Except canning.  See above.)

And every once-in-a-while a friend will ask me to share what works in my family.....and so I end up sending them 47 links and last week's shopping list and she starts to look like a deer in headlights.

So, here is my attempt to put all of those years of research and burning things in one spot, so that this disorganized Mama can answer that question without scaring away any more friends!

(This is not my picture. Note how clean it looks.  Clean enough to eat off of.)