Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Fully Empty Day

Yesterday the Mr. and I both took a secret day off and stayed home in our jammies all day. This morning I feel 200% better than I did on Sunday. Rested, refreshed and looking forward to what the new day brings.
If we push and push using up all of our awakeness with things...fun or work; eventually we'll lose the joy in all of it. And yes, there should be joy in work too!
Listen to your heart when you feel like saying, "Stop the world, I wanna get off!"
On Monday we actually had to take ourselves off the radar. We shut the computer off early, turned off the cell phones and stayed home home home. Yes, there were things we could've done that would've been productive. But we didn't. Guilt-free and shameless we laid around reading and watching DVDs.
My advice to you is that if you cannot remember the last day where all you accomplished with soul refreshing, you're over due.
Don't be one of the majority who have lost the talent for quietness.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Nature Of Satan

1 Peter 5:7-9 (King James Version)
Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

Maya Angelou once said when someone shows you who they are, believe them. Yet, I spend much time feeling caught unawares when the enemy comes against me. I'm embarrassed to say that it can take me some time to find the hand of satan pushing pain in my direction, it so often feels out of the blue. This then is why it is so much the utter demand of the Christian to be slow to respond to the hurt and disappointment delivered on us by those with faces. They are only the courier of the one who keeps his face hidden. For myself, I am often my own courier.
I had a week with one or two or ten blows to my feelings, offenses against my sense of honor as well as my heart. I so wanted to speak to the offenses, if not the offenders, but found myself with only emotional words that felt weightless in my mouth. My speeches were without substance even before they were spoken and I wanted satisfaction, so I continued to wrestle with my responses trying to form words that would bear weight. Like trying to write a poem, no two sentences would link.
By this morning I found myself with a heavy but very quiet spirit. Even the emotional weightless words had deserted me. In the miraculous way of the Holy Spirit, he was found where I did not expect him. On a rainy Sunday when I could find no benefit to being at work, God awaited me.
There was no word of wisdom spoken to me today, in fact I had very few conversations at all. I did my usual routine of rounds and settled into my office, popping in a gospel CD. A tiny flicker sparked in my spirit, a hunger began to grow until the noise of it drowned out the noise of my weightless words. For no reason other than the prompting of the Spirit of God, I googled a local church (Second Ebenezer) and linked to You Tube to listen to their choir while I worked.
And here, with a choir of worshipers, battle was done on my behalf by strangers. No answers came. No speeches to right the injustices were inspired. Instead I sat at my desk losing track of time for 2 hours with tears washing away my make-up.
There is great beauty in recognizing the face of satan, for he cannot exist in the absence of the Face of God. When I turned to point my finger at my attacker, heaven shifted and my enemy was defeated. Satan was brought down in the spirit, the weapons of Christ were launched when I was broken into a courier of worship.
Like Jacob who wrestled with the angel, you must insist of God, I will not let go until you bless me. In the presence of God, there is no desire to bless myself with my own justice.
May God bless you with brokenness.

John 10:10The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

Psalm 90:17
And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Worth The Work

1. Homemade dinners.
2. Organized office.
3. Clean house.
4. Stocked pantry.
5. Losing weight.
6. Exercising (or so I've heard.)
7. Education.
8. Gardens.
9. Children.
10. Grace.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Home Therapy

Today I am doing home therapy. The Mr. is on his way to take his dad for some tests, Mac's at school and I am sipping coffee and watching "Hello Dolly" with Barbra Streisand. That is one of the foundations of home therapy; good coffee, a quiet house and if the television is on it must be only gentle and sweet programs. Health reform & mortgage adjustments are counter-productive.
Shortly I am going to the second phase, house keeping. In a few hours the washer will be humming along and one by one the rooms will sparkle and smell fresh and clean.
Phase three, grocery store. Don't like grocery shopping very much but I am more than aware and grateful to have a place a few minutes away with everything I need to feed my family and a car to drive me there and back. And the list-making is fun, menu planning and always a few surprises for my guys. This week, peanut butter cookies!
Home to an organized and waiting house and then banana bread baking. The staff have put in their request for this weekend's treat. Going to try another buttermilk bread recipe too.
Finally dinner plans, I am thinking about lasagna although being Friday we may opt for a dinner out to wrap up what is going to be a busy day for us.
I'm thankful today to have been raised by generations of women who practiced and taught me home therapy. It seems such a simple thing but I think there are many who have lost the desire for it. That's because they don't know the real secret.
Home therapy isn't for the sake of the home, it's for the homemaker. From the quiet morning when I close our proverbial doors to the outside world to the room by room reclaiming of the house to the preparations to nourish my family every step of home therapy smooths out my rough edges and gives me real purpose and pleasure. Putting things right around me gives me pause to realize just how much I have and even when I have to walk out the door tomorrow, I will have prepared a place to return and rest.
Time for another cup of coffee.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Week That Was

With every intention of doing some blog writing this week, here we are on Thursday with no updates since Sunday. It's all inside my head, I promise! Hmm, I think I heard that from a few patients. It's been a less than easy week at Smith Care U.S.A. The players, Ben (f-i-l), Marty (m-i-l), the Mr. and a few who won't be named have been busy.
Ben was seen by the behavioral neurologist for the second phase of his assessment at the Henry Ford Memory Clinic. It was about three hours long, this following a 2 hour assessment by the nurse practitioner the week prior. He did very poorly on all of the testing, by the finish Ben was crying and paranoid; asking what "they" had done to him to cause him to be so confused. In short, it seems he was unsuccessful pretty much across the board. Finally he has a diagnosis of Lewy Body Dementia which is something of a crossbred Alzheimer's Disease and Parkinson's Disease. Ironically, Parkinson's meds makes Alzheimer's worse and vice versa. After this appointment Dean took his mom to an appointment at the pain clinic which was not pleasant either, he had to help her disrobe. By the time he got home literally 12 hours later he was wrung out. I've never seen him quite so low. Until...
Sunday evening he called his mom to check in and was told that his dad took two falls on Sunday afternoon. Which was very worrisome until...
Monday evening he called to check in and was informed that in the middle of the night his dad had gotten up, dressed and left the apartment while his mom slept. A neighbor found him and brought him back and shortly thereafter, the police stopped in to check on them. Dean had installed door alarms which mysteriously are broken. We ordered new ones online. This was almost more than he could stand until...
Starting on the guardianship process we are informed that some family members may decide to challenge him. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be anyone who wants to take the job; only want to contest him doing it.
So you can see that the Mr. has had a rough several days. Haven't we all had those times when it seems like you can't quite dust yourself off from something before something else knocks you down? Tomorrow he has a 6:30 a.m. MRI for his dad at Wyandotte Hospital and a 9:00 a.m. EMG in West Bloomfield.
Please pray for Dean? Strength and wisdom of course. But also, as a great fan of laughter and ridiculousness, pray for joy.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

2 Thessalonians 2:13-17
But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Good Old-Fashioned...

1. Birthday cards (or letters or anything personal) in the snail mail. I sent a co-worker a card in the mail and it made his day when he opened it up! Worth the stamp!
2. Butter. Real butter.
3. Shopping all day with my mom for baking supplies! Hello 1956, we've missed you!
4. Taking home made goodies to work, why not use your co-workers as a test kitchen?
5. Plain wedding bands.
6. All white linens washed in bleach (& lined dried.)
7. Wooden spoons.
8. Aprons.
9. Libraries.
10. King James Bible.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Bonus Day!

Such a silly day today.
I scheduled a vacation day to accompany the Mr. & the folks to a few doctor's appointments. Yesterday I realized that taking the day off would result in one manager covering for three of us due to multiple days off & off-site conferences so I decided to go ahead and work. I wasn't really needed as an escort and with the nice weather and recent acquisition of a handicap sticker, it's a little easier to get around with ma & pa. So I slept in, taking advantage of not being expected at work, as the Mr. left for the day with his parents. When I finally awakened and checked my e mail I dropped a line to the manager on duty that I would be in shortly to help out. She immediately responded that I was not to come in, she had it covered and the day was too pretty to come to work on a scheduled vacation day. So here I am, Mr. already gone and no one wanting me at work.
Bonus day! Did I say that out loud?
I'm going to update my photo blog, maybe change up the header on this one. Already took a few pictures of the yard waking up. I made two loaves of bread last night for the staff, think I'll freeze them until Monday. Every week I make a batch of cookies so today I'm thinking oatmeal raisin.
I have a few things I need to purchase online and a few things I need to pick up from the store.
Did I mention I am finding myself on a bonus day?
Not sure what I'll get done, maybe nothing. But it sure is a nice day to do nothing.

Monday, March 15, 2010

On Saturday we threw caution to the wind, skipped our usual errands and had a day-long date. That's the upside to the Mr.'s lay-off, he'll be able to do the groceries and laundry next week while I'm at work so we could take advantage of all day Saturday with wild abandon! A few days earlier in the week I was driving down the freeway on a lovely spring morning and thought about how much fun it is to get in the car and just head out. When I got to work I texted the Mr. with my plan...DIA & lunch on Saturday!

We slept in Saturday morning, had a light breakfast and headed down to the Detroit Institute of Arts. The last time we went a few years ago the exhibits were all squeezed into a few small galleries but now the renovation is done. Wow! What a great day! Since the museum is so nearby, we didn't feel the need to push through and see every little item since we can go back any time. We just wandered from room to room, talking about the art or just standing quietly by ourselves taking it in. For me there is another bonus, I'm as enthralled by the architecture of the museum as I am the exhibits! We spent about three hours walking around, took a break half-way through to stop in the courtyard for a cold drink. Had one moment of revealing our lack of culture as we caught one anothers eye in the modern art gallery and got the giggles. You see, there was this shelf with three soup pots and three basket balls and a lengthy explanation about the bleak excess of the society of the blah blah blah. So the Mr. threw his keys on a bench and started this monologue about one key pointing away from him and the remote start button being facing down signifying that no matter what he tries he cannot start his car...Well, it seemed funny to me. But other than that, we acted like grown-ups.
After the DIA we headed in the opposite direction from home to find a restaurant that we'd never been to before. Stopped at an Italian restaurant called Pasquale's, shared a deep dish and a salad and headed home around 6:00.I made some chocolate chip cookies, we put in a DVD of The Practice season 7 and wrapped up a wonderful day trip in front of our fireplace with cookies & a blanket.
As the Michigan winter starts to withdraw making room for sunshine and clear skies, we are definitely going to make day trips a part of our weekends. Life is too short to go no farther than Kroger's on the weekend. Even if that does mean you have to grocery shop on Monday night.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Birthday Gift Suggestions (For your convenience.)

1. Stand mixer
2. Bread maker? (not sold on this, will it make my life easier?)
3. Cement garden bench
4. Coffee grinder.
5. Aprons (just love 'em!)
6. Freezer.
7. Blender.
8. Loaf pans.
9. Baking stone.
10. Gift certificate to Home Depot.

Psalm 50:2
From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Bread Of Life~Wheat, French, Punkin & Heavenly

As promised last week, I remain low(er) tech around here. I've found a new pass time that I hope will become an ongoing source of satisfaction for me and that is made-from-scratch cooking. You might think it would be fairly simple to make the switch but it's turning out to be a fascinating learning experience for me. And good for me in more than one way.
As for my weight, I continue to play with the same five pounds up and down but this week I am noticing that hoped-for change of being physically satisfied and without cravings. I am surprised sometimes to find myself at bedtime not having thought about snacking. The next step for me is to maintain this accomplishment and move forward to portion control that will bring my weight into a healthier range. I'm no longer striving for a size or a number, just a body that is leaner and smaller and that feels healthy. Now I still feel the extra fat and that this weight is too much.
I'm happy to say that I am 99% headache free! I have always been a headachy person and most days I have needed at least one dose of Motrin. I have stress headaches, cluster headaches, sinus headaches, hormonal headaches, bad hair headaches and possibly headaches that predict earthquakes. It's been at least two weeks since I've experienced my usual headache pain. I did still experience the PMS headache but it was much shorter in duration and required just a few Motrin as opposed to the usual 48 hours and 800 mg every 4. Also my infamous insomnia? Greatly improved. No sleepless nights in a few weeks. AND! Finally, my energy level is better than it's been in years; maybe ever. I am staying awake easily until....9:00 p.m.! And by that I mean I'm going to bed to read at 9 and usually not turning off the lights until after 10! Last night in fact, the Mr. went to bed at 8 because he's been pretty sick all weekend. I however, stayed up until 11:00 and made pumpkin wheat bread while I visited with Jay and watched television. Waking up more rested too!
It has been about three weeks since I've indulged in my strongest weakness which is potato chips. We have them in the house but I'm not experiencing any cravings. This is nothing short of miraculous I tells ya. What I do notice is that my 1% remaining headaches are usually within a few hours of drinking pop or eating "junk."
So that's where I've been. Not all that interesting but important to me. The Mr. is laid off and I am off today (worked the weekend.) I have a loaf of French bread rising at the moment. I'm going to do a little housework and get myself together, bake my bread and maybe just hit a matinee or the library. Or both. That might not seem significant but for me, a day off after the weekend at work would be a day of recovery with no thoughts of leaving the house. The warm sunshine (well it is warm even if we can't yet feel it!), the bright Spring-promising days and a content heart are keeping me busy. Not to mention the experimental Smith kitchen!
Love you guys & see you here & there!

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Psalm 35:28
My tongue will speak of your righteousness and of your praises all day long.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

The Best Parts Of The Day

1. Turning off my blackberry.
2. My first sip of coffee in the morning.
3. The first laugh of the day.
4. When Donny hops into bed.
5. When Dean kisses me good night.
6. After my hair and make-up are done, I hate doing my hair and make-up.
7. Watching The Practice on DVD.
8. When Mac shares his day with me.
9. When Jay shares his day with me.
10. When I'm laying in bed reading.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

The Season of Thursdays

Ahh, Thursday night. I like Thursdays. The Mr. has band practice and it's my evening to go at my own pace, turn off the television and do a few housekeeping chores. I usually crawl into bed early to spend an extra hour reading. I never leave the house, I just sort of nestle in.
I used to hate Thursdays. For our entire relationship (28 years!), the Mr. has been in a "group." A gospel group that traveled or the church worship band, usually both. Somehow practice has always been on Thursdays since 1983.
I hated Thursdays in high school because it interrupted our usual evening telephone chat.
I hated Thursdays early in our marriage because it took him away from me.
I hated Thursdays after daboyz were born because after all day with two little ones I was faced with all evening without a break.
I hated Thursdays because on Thursdays, something else took precedence over me. Or so I believed.
You could say that Thursdays no longer upset me because after almost thirty years, I don't need to chat every single evening. Or because I'm glad to have a break from the guy or because the kids are grown and I don't need any help. But you'd be wrong. I no longer dread Thursdays because a dark season in my life is behind me.
This dark season used every single Thursday to taunt me with lies that I was unimportant. Lies from satan whispering that Dean had some great life away from me where he would go and completely forget about me. People would tell me all the time how very blessed I was to have this guy who had devoted his music to the Lord but I couldn't appreciate the wonder of it. All I knew was that it didn't matter if I was sick or the kids were puking or I'd had a terrible day and was crying on the couch, he left for practice without a look back.
I felt that he should take a break from practicing every Thursday while the kids were small because we needed him. I really wasn't altogether out in left field on it. He did use practice to escape our ugly marriage and the general stress of life. But that wasn't really my problem. My problem was the season of lies.
Now I like Thursdays. I enjoy Thursdays evenings when I clean the bathroom and change the sheets on our bed. I like 7:00 bed time with a book. I don't feel alone anymore on Thursdays. What I realize now was that somehow those few hours once a week had me utterly convinced that this separate life of his was just a tiny portrait of how easily he could separate his life from mine altogether. I could never be reassured, I could only stand there every Thursday evening being hurt all over again as Dean drove away.
Thank God the season of lies has passed into the Season of Truth. I no longer need to throw down a gauntlet (after gauntlet after gauntlet) to see if he'd stay or go. And this really isn't about our love story but about the love story of Christ & me. There is no love outside of Jesus, there is only a frail humanity grasping at shadows, peering through a dirty window...seeing through a glass darkly. When I found my way into the light of God and allowed myself total immersion in Him and foolishly threw aside the ideas that I was unworthy, I no longer chased after proof of love. Many say there is a gift of loving others. I'm not terribly impressed with that gift. I am convinced that there is a greater gift, that of receiving love. Being able to let the people in my life fall short of my needs without the darkness descending back into my spirit came only when God's love was truly revealed in me and in that, every crevice, crack and fissure caused by disappointment was filled with peace and joy. Filled with Christ.
Have you ever seen a volcano? The mountain shakes and explodes causing huge cracks down its surface and then the lava streams over the top filling every gap. The volcano quiets and the lava cools and the mountainside becomes whole and smooth again.
God's love is not a gentle cloud that descends on us with angel's song. It is a mighty force, it is magnificent and unimaginable. It's surprising but more than that, it's shocking. It trembles the earth and breaks out of ground and dominates the landscape.
I have crawled through the season of lies. I have danced in the Season of Truth.
The landscape of my life trembles at the fury of His love.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Being home with, ahem, female issues for a few days has sidelined my work calendar but given me an opportunity to move a little more slowly at home. As the whole food/additive-free diet continues I am continuing to learn how to cook things differently. One of my promised goals this week was baking bread from scratch.

Having read every book in the house and done as much housework as I feel up to, it was time to face the bread. I used the honey wheat recipe off of the Gold Medal Whole Wheat flour bag only I used all whole wheat instead of adding white flour per the recipe. This was not entirely due to a health commitment so much as that I had no white flour in the house! Lesson learned, most whole wheat-using recipes still require some white flour. According to my disorganized research, even replacing half of the flour used with whole wheat is of great benefit. I'll let you know what the vote is on the bread although I can't blame Mr. Gold Medal if it's not a winner this time since I didn't exactly follow the directions.

For dinner, chicken & rice casserole. I even made a roux from the chicken juices instead of the traditional can of cream of ______ soup! Once again, we'll see what the masses think.

Either it'll be a wonderfully wholesome meal of chicken casserole with rice & fresh veggies, home made honey wheat bread and spinach salad OR, it'll be back to the drawing board.

Maybe it's a good thing I am usually at work instead of experimenting!
Update: The bread was a success! Yumalicious! The casserole was good too, although the Mr. didn't like it. Oh well, can't win 'em all!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Little House In The Suburbs

Yes, I'm still out here! I'm definitely on a blog reduction right now. Actually you could call it a low-tech streak altogether. I'm working longer hours just by virtue of no longer working hourly but salary and the Mr.'s schedule has changed to 4 ten hour days a week which means we're both getting home at 6 p.m. or so. We used to both get home around 4. Add to this the winter weather which doesn't make me blue but does make me want to hunker in with a blanket in front of the fire reading, watching old DVDs or dozing. And finally our new dietary lifestyle which means eating home a lot more and making meals that are a bit more time-consuming (all from scratch.) So there you have where I've been!
Every one in a while I seem to go through a computer-free phase. I use a computer quite a lot at work so when I come home, I'm less than enthralled with it. Lately I'm enjoying more of a Little House On The Prairie existence here in the suburbs. Even the books I'm reading are all gentle and sweet, none of the usual crime & mystery I usually enjoy. When I have those pockets of down time I'm experimenting with making homemade snacks (like oatmeal honey cookies.) I'm planning on making bread this week. It's not that I'm busy, I'm just otherwise occupied.
Does it ever feel like just a little too much tech in your life?
I'm still here but if you notice a lack of current posts you can presume I'm just contentedly nesting, enjoying the occasional sunshine and tracking the earlier and earlier morning sunrises as Spring approaches. I may suddenly snap back to daily posts or maybe not. But I will be sure to let you know how that bread turns out!