Thursday, June 28, 2012


I’ve come to realize that in the blogosphere one does not always have the most positive of things to blog about.  Such is today’s blog, although it is a bit complicated and downbeat, if you stick with me until the end, you will see the happy ending AND the silver lining.  This is a story that I have only shared with my sister and my two closet friends, but the Lord has laid it on my heart to share it this morning.

It was exactly 2 weeks ago today.  I guess it was around 11:30 a.m. when I awoke in unfamiliar surroundings.  I looked over and saw my husband sitting next to me.  “Where am I, Jim?”

“Well, you are in the ICU.”

“I am? When did I get here?”

“You don’t remember? I brought you in last night.”

No, I didn’t remember – I didn’t remember a thing, until hours later when my head cleared and I began to think back on the night before.

We have been going through quite a rough spell the past few weeks.  After 26 years, Jim was called into the administrator’s office at the hospital and told that he and his 5 partners no longer had jobs.  It was such a shocker! Something I never expected, or saw coming.

After the initial shock of realizing that a 26 year life investment had been so flippantly disregarded by someone in a minor spot of authority, we have begun to put all the pieces back together and figure out where we are headed.  God is good though, and there is hope, and light at the end of the tunnel.  I have always believed He watches over me and guides me in this life, and although I didn’t like the initial thought of all of this, God is showing us daily that He is still with us, just like all the dozens and dozens of times before.

Having set that up, I can begin to tell you the rest of the story. 

Jim and I had come home form a long arduous day in Santa Fe.  I was still reeling from trying to wrap my head around figures of how to continue to put my boys through college, pay a few taxes and figure out where I could pick up a job.  It had been kind of tense as emotions were running a little higher than usual.

Upon arriving home, I sat down and enjoyed a nice glass of wine.  At that point, I was tired, actually, I was rather exhausted.  I had given blood 2 days earlier.  I hadn’t given blood in 30 years.  Being the last patient of the day (and because they hadn't met their projected quota), the guy at the blood drive told me I should give a double, saying it was actually better for me and I would feel fantastic. I agreed and we began pumping away.

What he failed to ask, and what I failed to mention, was my heart condition.  Never should I have been allowed a to give a double, and well, I will most likely never again give blood.  I have had 2 weeks of pure exhaustion and my heart has had a tough time keeping up with it all.

After the glass of wine, I decided I just wanted to go to sleep.  I guess there is that part of natural thinking that thinks if we can sleep we can just forget all the garbage we are going through.  So I took my nightly ambien.  Now for the record, I have a terrible sleep problem.  I think I have taken half an ambien, nightly, for 5 or 6 years.  This night I decided to take a full one.  As I took it I thought, “Dang, it’s only 7pm, I want to sleep through the night, I best take 2.” Stupid, right?

The problem wasn’t 2 ambien, the problem came 15 minutes later.  About 15 minutes into my sleep I woke up and had absolutely NO memory of having taken the 2 previous ambien.  I thought the same thing, “Hmm, I better take one to sleep – no, two, just so I can sleep through the night.”  So I did.

At this point I have taken 40 mg.  My usual nightly dose is 5 mg. With the glass of wine and the blood loss, well, you guessed it. I was crashing, rapidly at that.

Jim was out in the yard and was inspired to come in and check on me.  He was able to get me to the car, which I do not remember, and get me to the hospital.  At that point I became unconscious and woke up somewhere around 11:30 am the following day.

You’ve all heard the saying, “It was a perfect storm?”  Well, this was. It was a perfect storm of honest, yet stupid mistakes.  A perfect storm of what happens when we take our eyes off God and place them on ourselves. A perfect storm of  trying to find peace in a deep sleep rather than in the grace of God.

You know, I can’t imagine what that was like for him to have to take me to the place where he works, in the condition I was in.  I guess in a sense, I am lucky I don’t have any recollection of it all.  In time all I have remembered is the actual event of taking the ambien. Maybe that too, is God’s grace in showing me that it was an honest mistake.  I had no intention to set out to kill myself, I swear by that.  But I did have the intention to crash into a deep sleep.

Jim has never brought it up again.  He just says he is glad I’m still here.  He is like that you know, I have made so many mistakes along the way, and he never brings them up.  I am so blessed by his presence in my life.

In the aftermath, I have given up the ambien, completely! I was so worried I would not be able to sleep without them, but God has given me rest each night that I cannot even begin to explain. I am so grateful and sleeping like I never have been able to before!  I am also clear headed again, less irritable and feeling fantastic.

What I have learned from this terrible mess are several things.  I should never take my eyes of my Jesus, He alone will see me through everything.  The verse, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding: In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.  Proverbs 3:5-6, reminds me of such things.

I’m disappointed in myself for having had that singular moment of doubt. Like Peter, the moment I took my eyes of the Lord and allowed doubt and fear to crept in, I began to sink.

In the aftermath of all of this drama, God is doing amazing things in our lives.  We are not quite out of the woods on the job ordeal, but He will bring us through them. Of this I am certain.  On my side, I have not felt this clear headed in years.  I am sorry for the way this came about, but it has brought me to a place where I could get rid of something that was fogging up my head, and likely my life. I feel great!

In the end, all I know is this: God knows the very number of our days and nothing we do can add to them or take away from them.  I am so happy that His hand (and Jim’s) were on me and that I have more days to fulfill.  I just pray I can show them both how much I love and appreciate them with the time I have left :0) And I know God has wonderful things in store for me. "For I know the plans I have for you, " declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11 

Now, those are words to LIVE for....

Oh, and my sister has always been the first responder in my life. I am grateful for her.  My buddy Stu has always offered a listening ear and a broad shoulder to cry on. He stands without judgement when I take things to him.  And Aaron - he has always guided me sweetly with words of wisdom.  I feel God's goodness and love radiate from him. Thanks guys.

Might I suggest:

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Kitchen Treats

It began with the sound of the mixer, whirrrrr... The next thing I heard was the scampering of little feet running, sliding, skidding across the hard wood floors, then a thump! as all 3 1/2 lbs of my teacup poodle came crashing into my leg.  He knew that it would only be moments before he would have his beater to lick and he was excited!  I'm not sure when this ritual started, I think it had to be 8 or 9 years ago, right after I got him.

As I looked down at his precious little face I began thinking about how Boppy came to be in my life.  It was about a year before my 40th birthday.  Jim told me he wanted to get me something extra special for my birthday.  I told him I wanted a teacup poodle. I think he was less than excited about this choice.  I had been intrigued with them since high school when the urban legend about teacup poodles was floating around.  You know, the one about the lady drying her teacup poodle in the microwave.  As horrendous as the story was, I was intrigued that a dog could actually be that small.

Jim went to work, locating a breeder in Nashville, TN.  Next thing I know, the deposit had been made, the plane carrier bought, and Jim boarded a plane to Nashville to pick up my, at the time, 1 lb puppy!  I remember the boys and I driving to Albuquerque to pick Jim up at the airport. As we looked up and saw Jim approaching security, dog carrier in hand, the boys and I took off running.  You should have seen the smile cross Jim's face.  It is almost as if I could hear what he was saying inside his head, Oh! They missed me, they really missed me!!

The moment we reached Jim we eagerly snatched the carrier out of his hands and ran for the nearest bench.  We couldn't wait to see our new dog! Jim just kind of stood there as we oohed and awed over Boppy. He was so small, so frail.  It was a blessing Jim brought him with him on the plane.  Due to Boppy's size, he is so frail that he crashed twice on the flight and Jim had to do everything but mouth to mouth resuscitation to keep him going. Later we assured Jim we actually were happy to see him as well :0)

Boppy has been a faithful companion and family member.  True, he is spoiled beyond all definitions of spoilage.  He has his own doggie couch, handmade quilts, 4 beds strategically placed in sunbeam paths throughout the house.  He sleeps on the bed, has puppy stairs, and a heart shaped pillow he props his little head on.  He eats from the table and his favorites are pasta (cooked any way), french brie and filet mignon.  He has a heightened palate and even shows a bit of food snobbery from time to time (this, I am sure is the french poodle side).

Boppy has games he plays with each of us.  He plays sock, ONLY with Jim. Morning back scratch is with Dalton, snuggle up is with me, and I-bet-I- can-ignore-you-better-than-you-can-ignore-me, well, that is reserved for Austin. Especially when he comes home from college.  He does these things and plays these games, solely to please us.   He monitors our moods and really picks up the playfulness when we are down.  

Jim is always teasing Boppy about his size. (Yes, we talk to him like he is one of us - to do otherwise is simply rude). Where we live hawks are one of our local birds.  Over the years I have watched in horror as a hawk has swooped down and carried off one of my baby ducks or geese.  We have to constantly monitor Bop when he is in the yard for fear of this happening to him.  Jim always tells him that if teacup poodles were to run in packs, the most they could take down, collectively, are butterflies. That image always makes me laugh.

Back to the beater...Whirrrr... after I have knocked the last glob of creme - for my Strawberry Creme Pie - back into the bowl I set the beater on the floor for Bop to lick.  He daintily approached the beater, gives it the once over, moves into the middle, and delicately begins his lick-o-rama. I stand amazed, watching him.  He does it with such precision, not a drop on his face!  As I watch how he cares about how well he performs this task, I am reminded of a verse, So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 When is is finished, you will never have a clue that it had once been covered in creme.

I wish I were like Bop. I want to take the time to do things correctly, precisely, as close to perfect as I can.  Often I fall short, very short of that.  I want to work on the areas of my life that are lacking and give glory to God in all I do.  I think about God and I recognize that everything I have in my life comes from Him. I often can't wrap my head around the fact that not only has He forgiven me, but He turns around and blesses me on top of that! Wow, all I can say is WoW!

Boppy doesn't have any idea the surprise in store for him.  You see, it's a two phase pie.  After I have washed the dishes and allowed the base of the pie to chill for a few hours, I start on the whipped cream topping. Whirrrrr.... Wait, no running? No scampering? No collisions into my leg? It's then that I feel the small tap of paws on my knee. I look down, only to see Boppy standing on his hinde legs, front legs stretched high into the air and he is dancing! Doing the dance of beater joy!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Almonds in the Grass

Have you ever tried to find a needle in a haystack?  How about a four-leaf clover in a clover patch? What about an almond in the grass? I know, right?  Who looks for almonds in the grass? And what are the chances, that if you drop one in tall grass in a 1 acre yard that you will find it again, especially after wandering all over the yard once you tossed it from your mouth (yes, mouth).

Such was the case with Zeddicus the Wonder Dog, and I.  Well, actually, he’s not a wonder dog, he is more of a doofy dog, but you just gotta love him.  He has a spirit that soars.  I watch all 100 lbs of him chase cars from sun up until sundown.  He covers every single inch of our fenced, 1 acre yard.  I honestly believe he has covered more of this yard in 3 summers than I have in 26 years.

When Jim is working in the yard, Zed will follow right at his heels.  Jim sets a tool down; Zed picks it up with his mouth and follows.  Jim is always saying how he wishes Zed had opposable thumbs, he is certain he would join in, in everything we do.  (Psst: Just between us, I think Jim really wanted those thumbs last week when he was calking the exterior walls of our log home)…..

Every time I head out to feed the chickens Zed loves to greet me on the back steps and walk to the chicken house with me.  I open the door to walk into their yard to throw them some scratch and he waits until the chickens come near the door then he thrusts his head through in an instant, sending chickens squawking and scattering about the yard.  He then retracts his head from the doorway and I swear I hear him laughing.  He does it every day, without fail!

Zed is pretty remarkable, and I think there are many lessons to be learned from him.  He has learned to tolerate others in a way I find hard to do some days.  For instance: Austin was recently home from college and walked into the back yard to head out to the man cave.  It was a little after midnight, and we heard a scream.  Austin came flying in the house (screaming like a little girl).  Apparently Zed was sitting on the back porch with his pet skunk.  I think Zed got sprayed, once.  After that he realized it was easier to cohabitate with the skunk and share his food each night rather than try to shoo him away.  They have an odd little friendship and they even play together.  It’s pretty cool to watch them.  They play, they rest, they tease and no one gets hurt :0)

I got his summer pool out the other day and he has passes the time by playing in it, lying in it, and drinking from it.  When we bought the pool the summer we got him, Zed weighed 20 lbs and the pool swallowed him up.  Here, 3 years and 80 lbs later, Zed still acts as though he’s a puppy playing in his pool.  It’s rather fun to watch. 

But what does all of this have to do with an almond?  So, yesterday I walk out of the house and I’m munching on my daily handful of almonds.  Zed approaches me with eagerness and begs for an almond.  I had never given him one so I sat it in my hand.  He sniffed it and snatched it from my hand running gleefully into the yard, tossing it into the air, having it land in the grass, never to be seen again.

“That’s the end of that," I said to myself.  (Mental note, never give Zed almonds again, he wastes them.)  He was completely uninterested in the almond because I was headed to the chicken pen.  We walked through the grass, performed our morning ritual (those dumb old chickens never learn about the Zed scare), and headed back to the house.  I came in, had another cup of coffee and started about my day.

Having to go back outside for something, I noticed something peculiar.  Sitting on the top step near the back door, was - you guess it, an almond.  Like a token of appreciation, or like a dandelion flower offering I used to get from my boys, there sat the beautiful, uneaten almond that had been lost earlier in the grass. 

I stood amazed! How, in a yard the size of mine, with country grass, (not that manicured city stuff) but tall, wild, dense, country grass – Zed had gone back out and found something that he knew I had paid attention to, even when I was certain he hadn’t.

I started laughing and he rounded the corner of the house, pleased that I had noticed his offering.  As I was laughing, God reminded me of something -  a favorite verse of mine. Thy word I have hid my heart, that I might not sin against thee.  Psalm 119:11

Like Zed’s almond, or his chew bones that get squirreled away somewhere, so are the things I gleen when I read my bible, or the things I learn from God in or daily wanderings.  Zed is able to go and find something so small, so obscure, something that was lost in a sea of grass.  God’s teachings are the same.  When I study and read His word, when I hide them in my heart, I am able to extract them in times when I need reminding of just how Great He is, or how He is always with me. In remembering these things it keeps me on a path with my creator that I like walking down.  A path that keeps me close to Him, conscious of my decisions and choices I make, remembrances of why I don’t want to sin, because I want to please my creator, much the same as Zed wanted to please me.

In watching Zed I realize how much I can learn from him. Like his chasing the illusive car. I to, do frivolous things, just because I can. Or with his chicken scare, I love a good daily laugh.  I don’t lay in an ice cold pool, but a  hot bath brings comfort to my soul. And, I try to be helpful, and I am learning to play well with others and accept their differences, even if they stink up the room from time to time.

Monday, June 25, 2012


Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit with in me,

As many of you know, I have more men friends than women friends. It has just always been that way for as long as I can remember. 

In grade school, it was guys and I who would meet at the park in the afternoons for games of baseball.  They never treated me like a girl and they never used a whimpy little softball. We played marbles, and when I lost, they never thought twice about taking my marbles, they kept me on equal ground. 

In high school it was jumping in the car with the guys and heading to McDonald’s for a burger.  I listened to them share their woes about their girlfriends or the girls they were hoping would soon be their girlfriends.  In college, it was the guys and I  who would meet regularly (probably too often) for beers and whiskey. Unfortunately, I learned to win the beer chugging games and swear like a sailor, a drunken sailor! I have just always had my inner circle full of men. Thank God I have married a man who understands that!

I like men friends.  They are honest, sometimes to a fault.  They don’t possess the emotional factor that most women possess, when they speak or give an answer it usually comes from a straightforward, logical standpoint.   Men don’t get all tied up in games or feelings, they aren’t (for the most part) overly reactive and they usually tend to listen.  I don’t find the jealousies that exist like they do with many women, and they can be very sweet in offering flatteries from time to time.

With this being said, I can’t even begin to understand why a direct answer from a friend affected me so adversely. 

Do not cast me aways from your presence,
And do not take your holy spirit from me.

 Here’s how it all went down.  I’m up late a few months back talking to a friend of mine through FB chat.  I have developed a sweet friendship with him over the years and it has always been filled with honesty and speaking our minds, (Ok, maybe speaking my mind) but he always listens .  I had something that had been bothering me for a while so I thought I would pose the question to him and get his take on it all.  So, after giving it a bit of thought, I typed it out.

 "Hey, Can I ask you a question?  And before you give me an answer, I want you to be truthful. I promise I won’t ever bring it up again, even if I don’t like the answer."

 "OK, ask away."

  "I want to better myself, improve myself. Is there anything about me that you like less than when you first met me?"

 "Oh, that’s easy, it’s ……………."

Oh My Gosh! Whaaaat? SO many things went so wrong for me in that split second!  First, this friend does not type quickly. Sometimes, when we are on chat, he takes 3-4 minutes to give a two-word reply.  Maybe my initial shock was that it took exactly a nano second for him to write, ‘Oh, that’s easy.” Or maybe it was the fact he said, “Oh, that’s easy.” 

I have to admit, my initial goal was wanting to honestly improve things about myself, but knowing that there were such obvious improvements needing to be made took me off guard. I have to admit, there was a part of me that hoped to hear, “Are you kidding me?  There is absolutely nothing about you that needs improvement!”

Wouldn’t that have been grand? To be viewed by someone as a model of perfection? To be told that you are practically perfect in every way? The sun shines because you are good, the moon adds more glimmer to the midnight sky because your goodness enhances it’s own glow-ability. You are enchanting, fabulous, I-wouldn’t-change-a-thing-about-you! But no, I got an honest, “Oh, that’s easy.”  He didn’t even have to think, ponder the question or even try to figure out how to say it.  He gave a direct, split second answer. It’s like he had been waiting to finally have an outlet for telling me this. I was devastated.
It has taken me a while to process this.  The point he made was valid, it IS something I need to work on and I think I have made great strides since then on improving in this area.  In retrospect, it wasn’t the fact that he actually had a quick rebuke for me; it was the fact that I have had to take a deeper, harder look at myself to see who I am.  I obviously wasn’t the person I thought I was, or the person I want to be. Others were viewing something I assumed was a positive trait in my personality, as annoying and aggravating. Wow, it’s been a long hard look in the mirror, but one that I was forced to see.

It’s kind of that way with God too.  I want Him to show me the areas of my life that I need to improve in.  I want my walk with Him to be so close that He can show me anything that need’s fixing and then we, (God & I) can fix it.  Sometimes, when He points things out to me, I do the same thing I did with my friend.  I stop and try to think of all the positive things I have done that He should adore about me, but that wasn’t what I asked for, was it? I am sure had I asked, “Do you find anything good about me?”  my friend would have been gracious and listed at least one thing, but I asked the opposite, I asked for what was apparently wrong that I could fix.  He gave me an honest reply.

It’s a long journey through this life.  I want to be kind and pleasing to people.  I want to be funny and happy and come off as one who has it all together, but in being me I am far from being the person who God has designed me to be.  I am imperfect and someone who needs fixing, someone who needs to make changes to stay happy in this life.  Someone who can’t do them on her own but needs a father, a higher power to guide me. I have confidence that God will change me slowly into the person He wants me to be, the one who can serve Him best and bring the most glory I can to Him, but only when I allow Him to show me the areas in my life that need to be tweaked or changed.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
And sustain me with a willing spirit.

Now, as the late great Paul Harvey would say: "And now for the rest of the story." Just how did I handle the immediate situation of the nano-second reply?  I did what anyone would do; I got on the phone and called my best friend. I asked him the same exact question in the same exact way, and I told him what my other friend said, and oddly I was on the verge of tears. 

He had a completely different answer for me.  He said, “Jones, if there is one thing that I find wrong with you, it’s that you place too much faith in God in your life.  But I would never change that about you because that is what makes you, YOU.”  

I thought about what he said, and what my other friend said.  One answer forced me to look at myself; one forced me to look at my creator.  In doing this, it brought me to a place where I am my happiest, on my knees, seeking guidance from my God.  Although both of my friends had a different answer for me, they both used their gifts of friendship to guide me in the right direction!
Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
And sinners will be converted to you.
     Psalm 51: 10-13

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Batman, Robin, and Action Figure Jesus

When Austin was 3 years old he loved playing dress-up. He had more costumes lying around this house than you could count.  I would go in the day after Halloween and scoop up all the leftover costumes at a fraction of the asking price and he would have costumes to last throughout the year.  I found some awesome face paints and read tutorials on how to do the perfect tiger, dragon, ninja…you name it, we did it.  Our house felt like it was inhabited by carnies 24/7.

After Austin graduated from small animals to super heroes, our life took a turn for the, er – let’s say, more adventurous.  He soon discovered that every thing in this house could be turned into a cape, and if he felt extra invincible he would wear said cape and jump from any object that offered him a pedestal looming over the ground below.

One of my favorite memories of this role playing occurred when Austin was 4 and attending a little private pre-school here in town.  I was constantly being reprimanded by the teacher for allowing my son to run wild with such a vivid imagination. Apparently he spent his lunch hours trying to show the others how to fly, take down villains with the use of swords, and jump (fly, in his mind) across the classroom furniture.  Anyhow, his favorite superhero was obviously Batman.  I think he chose Batman because it was a given that he had a sidekick (Robin, of course). Robin drove a mini van Bat mobile and always kept Batman in juice boxes and fruit snack power meals.

Whenever it was time to go to pre-school, Austin would don his cape and mask (the one with the pointy Batman ears), and we would prepare to leave the house.  I can still see his little hand grab the corner of the cape thrusting it over his left shoulder and he headed for the door shouting, “To the bat mobile, Robin!” 

Of course, like any good sidekick, I would grab the keys, the lunch, and extra clothes and follow him to the car.  Sometimes, as I was slowly backing up in the driveway I would leave the side door open and he would run and jump in the bat mobile – which was obviously moving faster than the speed of light in his little mind.  Those were precious times.  I can tell him the story over and over and over again but it will never hold the same depth of endearment to him that it does to me.  You see, during these moments of play, Austin needed me (really, what good IS Batman without Robin?)  He counted on me not to let him down, and I was incorporated into his world of all things important.  I wish those days could have lasted longer because it’s a precious thing to be loved and needed like that.

I was looking on my dresser yesterday and I saw something that my best friend Stu gave me…..Yes, Action Figure Jesus! I love AFJ!! When I am sad I stretch His arms out like he is reaching for me.  When I am happy, His arms reach to the sky with joy.  When I am disappointed in myself I hang His arms to the side. And when I have really screwed up I can bend one arm so his hand looks like it is smacking his forehead. I can project my own feelings onto AFJ and it reminds me of the things I need to pray about. But when I think about the real Jesus, I don’t think He would do any of those things except hold His arms straight out towards me waiting for me to run into them, fall into them or use them to help me stand when I just don’t think I can do it on my own anymore.  Yes, I guess you could say He is my real life Superhero! I know He will never leave me, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Matthew 28:20b   He fights for me, The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord. Proverbs 21:31  And He loves me, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  John 3:16  I know without a shadow of a doubt that He is on my side.  I also know that with Him in my life I can do anything. I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me. Phillipians 4:13

My days of role-playing with Austin are done.  I thank God for those times, because with his over active imagination they lasted for a few years.  He’s in college now and I have a far different role to play in his life.  He still needs me to love him for who he is, to always be there for him no matter what! He needs me to be no further than a phone call away and to know that he can count on me to help him in his time of need.  I guess those are the same things I need from Jesus.  But unlike Jesus, I will fail Austin from time to time, try as I might, I will likely fail him somewhere along the way.  I can’t always be with him, help him, listen to him or protect him.  I can’t fight his battles for him and may not always be there to fight along side him.  But I can offer Austin (and Dalton) the one superhero who will never fail them, forsake them or let them down.  I will NEVER desert you, nor will I EVER forsake you. Hebrews 13:5b   Lucky for him, he has the real life action figure Jesus to be all of those things and more!

It’s a special relationship I have with my son.  I have been blessed with two amazing boys, each presenting a completely different personality, but both uniquely precious.  I know they are with me till the end.  I may be crazier than they remember, I am more set in my ways, I still bug them from time to time, but they seem to understand.  I just have this hope that when the day comes for me to go be with my real superhero that Batman may be there to turn me over to my new partner until he joins me later on down the line, after he has lived out his lifetime of crime fighting adventures.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Life Blossoms

I absolutely love summertime and the Farmer's Market!  I quickly rose this morning with great anticipation as it was going to be my first trip of the season to the Farmer's Market.  I couldn't have asked for a more picture perfect morning.  There was just a hint of cool in the morning air, it was perfectly calm, little birds tweeting every where I went.   Even the rose bush outside of my front door is in full bloom and smelling particularly rosier this morning.

I arrived at the Market about 8:15 and found a lovely parking spot in the shade.  As I walked into the market, the frist 5 men I saw all greeted me with a very cheery, "Good morning Miss." I then ran into my Herbology teacher and told her I would bring her some beeswax next week.  She insisted I take a heart shaped bottle of Love Potion Bath Salts she had just made. They smell amazing. It was starting to be a lovely morning!  I continued on, meeting friends, sharing stories over the miniature zucchini and micro greens.  Everyone seemed to have a smile and a hug to share.

As I made my rounds, meandering through the baskets of freshly picked greens, testing some local sprouts and pondering the raspberry vs. the cranberry scone, I spotted my favorite little old german woman who sells the most exquisite little tarts. Being that I was her first customer I was able to snag the ONLY full rectangular raspberry tart she brought to the market. I had scored! I have a dinner party tonight and said that I would bring dessert, being that I had NO clue what to take, well - this was a find indeed!

I had a lovely conversation with her husband for 20 minutes or so and then found what I had come there for - the Squash Blossom! Lovely, fresh, vibrant, squash blossoms! I was simply giddy as I began picking out each individual blossom, making sure each met my specifications of size, color, appeal.  As I was walking away I heard a, "Hello Vecina! Have a wonderful day!"  It was Manuel, my neighbor from Mexico.  Manuel and his friend play the guitar and accordion at the market and sing their hearts out.  I had been listening (and tapping my foot in time with the music) when right in mid-song he gives me a shout out.  Man, you gotta love small town living.  I looked around, I thought for a moment, and I said to myself: "These ARE my people. This IS my home." I felt happy, fulfilled. 

The joy and the kindness I felt from everyone this morning reminded me of a verse I read before I left: Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves, do not merely look for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.  Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.  Phillipians 2: 3-5  I had a glimpse of this everywhere I went today.  I couldn't help but wonder what  it would be like to live in a world like this, all day, every day. 

I left the market thinking how many wonderful things had just transpired.  I continued to the health food store and was the only one in line! (Never happens)...I then went to Smiths and not only was gas $3.40, but my pump clicked off on exactly $40.00. A quick dash into the grocery store and I run into my sons best childhood friend, a boy I love and haven't seen for 3 years. WOW! This was shaping up to be an amazing day - and it was only 10 am...

I love days like this. I have now fed my bees, taken care of the chickens and set up a swimming pool for my 100 lb german shepherd Zed.  It's these simple things that make me pause, make me smile and make me say, "Wow God - you rock! Thanks for the awesome morning."

I thought you might like a Stuffed Squash Blossom recipe.  I make them once a week while I can get them.  Next week I think I will attempt a squash blossom pasta and soup.


For the batter:
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 extra large egg
1/2 cup cold water

Mix all ingredients together and place in a covered dish in the fridge for 30 minutes.

For the stuffing:
6 Tbs Ricotta ( I am making fresh goat milk ricotta)
1 Tbs Freshly grated parmesan
1 tea chopped shallot or scallion
1 Tbs chopped fresh basil (or fresh herb of your choice. Thyme is great as well)
1 Tbs chopped parsley
1 Tbs chopped mushroom (I used some dried chanterells & morels)
1 small clove of garlic, minced
Salt & pepper to taste

Hot oil, about 4 cups so you have a good depth in your pot.

10-15 Squash blossoms preferably with stems attached

Mix all ingredients together.  I use a sandwich ziploc bag and put all of the ingredients into it. I snip one corner off the page and use it as a piping bag.  Dry brush off any debris you see on the blossoms. Gently open the petals and remove the long stamen. It will be bitter if you use it.  Slowly squeeze about 1/2 a tbs of filling into each blossom.  Slowly pull the petals together and lightly squeeze the tops together so that they close.  Repeat with each blossom. Now, depending on how many blossoms you have and how big they are, the filling amounts will vary.  Often I make a double batch of this batter.  You just don't want to overfill the blossom.

Once the blossoms are stuffed, remove the batter from the fridge.  Bring your oil up to 350-375 degrees. Take the blossoms, one at a time and dip them in the batter (keeping an eye on the tips of the blossom, make sure they stay closed together). Gently and carefully lay each dipped blossom, one at a time in the hot oil. Do not overfill your pot! Cook in stages if needed.  When they are fluffy and golden brown on all sides, remove from oil and drain on paper towel.  Keep covered until you serve. They will be delicious!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Hopelessly Devoted to Q

Morning is always an interesting time for me, especially when I am fixing my hair and make up. It's that time of the day you have to look in the mirror.  I can't help but notice when I am staring at myself, who I really am. The mirror doesn't hide much, it shows us who we are and if we are lucky, who we have been.  A mirror gives us the reflection we need in order to see if we are happy with ourselves.  If we don't care for what we see, well, we can always make adjustments. Hm, maybe I should speak more on the mirror sometime, but this morning, standing in front of the mirror with a Q-tip in hand I realized something profound. I am completely devoted to my Q-tips.

Yes, I said DEVOTED! I love Q-tips! Nothing removes mascara splotches or water from the ears quite like a Q-tip.  I use several a day, I simply love them. I have special travel cases for them and I almost never leave home without them.  But what hit me this morning, is that no forces of evil could ever make me stray from the hard stemmed Q-tip.  Oh, I've tried those ones with the plastic middle, once! Never again! They fail me, they have no rigidity to them and they crumble under pressure. Who want's a Q-tip that does that?  I want to know that when I grab a Q-tip (from the special brass Q-tip container on my countertop) that it will serve me well.  If I had to choose between a meal or spending the extra bit of cash for the hard stemmed Q-tips I would gladly forgo the meal. They are that important to me.

Standing there, examining my Q-tip I realized that I am completely and totally devoted to the strong, sturdy, dependable brand I use.  I smiled to myself thinking that I even splurge from time to time and buy the small box of fancy schmancy ones with the beveled tip.  Oh! They are glorious to use around fresh mascara!  As silly as this revelation was, it forced me to look back into the mirror.  Here I was, standing solemnly with Q-tip in hand doing a one on one comparison with it and myself.  And sadly, the Q-tip won the argument.

I thought about how devoted I am to it, and had to ask myself if I am nearly as devoted to God.  I think I failed the litmus test.  I crumble under pressure from time to time (from not trusting solely in His power).  I do not stand rigidly on His word or promises.  Sometimes I set them aside and try to fix things on my own or use my own powers to get me through.  I fail Him in the fact that I don't always reflect the beauty He has placed in my life. He makes me all clean and presentable to the world and what do I do? I don't let Him shine through me so that they see His beauty. People see various sides of me, most of them are not glorifying to God at all.

He proved to me again this morning how He loves me and guides me.  I prayed for Him to be with me through this current mess we are in (which I will discuss in due time).  He led me to open up to January 19th in my book Grace.  When I grabbed the book to open it, the page I slid my finger onto WAS January 19th. (Audible WOW! Are you kidding me!! You ROCK!)  The verse He gave me was simple, I will be with you always.  Matthew 28:20

I sat amazed, laughing.... Jim asked what was up and I read it to him. We both just smiled.  We smiled because we know that even when we fall short, God goes beyond the finish line.  He finishes every race we start!  How could I not be compelled to stand in awe of that?  I read earlier this morning: It is a trustworthy statement, For if we died in Him, we will also live with Him; if we endure, we will also reign with Him.  If we deny Him, He will also deny us; if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.  2 Timothy 2:13

How can I find myself so devoted to something as worthless as a Q-tip and yet my creator, father, savior, friend - gets far little devotion from me? Wow.  I think it's time to go back to the mirror. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Unexpected Joy!

I absolutely adore flower anticipation. You know what I mean, the time between the florist calling and telling you they have a delivery, to the time they show up and you get to read the card to see who they are from. I call that space in time, flower anticipation.  As silly as it sounds, it's is one of the happiest feelings in the world for me.

Today I got to experience that feeling again. I'm going about my morning, changing the sheets on the bed, finishing a second cup of coffee when, ring ring..... I hear, "Hello, Mrs Jones? This is Bud's Floral Shop, we have a delivery for you. Will you be home for the next few minutes?" I'm thinking, Of course I will be home. Even if I had plans I'd delay them, oh my gosh - flowers!

I now have the next 15-20 minutes dedicated to putting my detective skills to work. I ask myself over and over, 'who would be sending me flowers.' oh, and, 'why would they be sending me flowers?' I find myself quickly changing from my pj's to clothes, fixing my make up really quickly and putting on a dash of perfume so I don't look like a total hag when the floral delivery man appears.

He shows up and I practically run to the gate to meet him.  We have our usual conversation about life and the weather, he gives me instructions on keeping my flowers alive and I give him a dozen fresh chicken eggs. We exchange a hug and he leaves.  At this point I can't wait to get inside the house to see from whom my flowers came.

Just before I open the card I notice something wonderful about my flowers. They are a mixture of blues and yellows.  These just may be my favorite flower colors. Yellow, because I love this color but cannot wear it. It washes me out and I look terrible in it, therefore I have very little yellow in my life.  And blue, well, mainly because blue is such an unlikely color for a flower that it always reminds me that there is a great creator who had a hand in making them.

Now men may never understand this, but flowers are the one thing most women just love getting.  They are bright, cheery, aromatic, beautiful to gaze upon.  They are just awesome.  I find that even though I buy myself flowers quite often, they are always more special when they come from someone else.   Perhaps it's the fact that whoever sent them had to take the time to recognize they would in some way cheer you.  You know that you are in their thoughts and that brings a great comfort to you.  Or they are an expression of love, what is better in life than knowing you are loved? 

I open the card and see that they came from my dear friends at Calvary de Taos and I am reminded of each of them and their sweetness and touch they have each had on my life.  When God led our family to Calvary de Taos many years ago we found our true family.  I always loved that this church was full of people just like me. People who had suffered, people who had won and lost, grieved, sinned, and carried on.  I didn't feel like an outsider, I felt like I belonged. It is the same group who has survived, excelled, been forgiven, live with joy, and trust in God. Yes, I found my family.

I have set my flowers in a place where I can look at them all day long. Each time I see them I smile.  I have stopped many times this morning to smell them and marvel at the little patches of yellowish hairs that creep up the inside of the iris petals.  The stamen in the lily is always so covered with pollen. I noticed as I reached in for a big ole sniff, my nose touched it and I had a fine layer of orange on the tip of my nose.  The gladiolus are gorgeous, and just the name bring joy to my heart. There are also delphiniums. Why do I love delphiniums so much? Well, in all honesty - besides the fact they are beautiful - I've always felt like a smarty pants when people say, "What is that flower? I can't remember the name," and I spout off, "why, those are delllphinnnniums." 

 A friend loveth at all times. Proverbs 17:17 . Thank you my friends, for loving me, for praying for me, for thinking of me, and yes......for the FLOWERS! 

I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.
I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, who has sight so keen and strong
That it can follow the flight of song?
Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hope & Grace

I have these two little devotional books I like to read everyday, (oops, first call to honesty, So, I don’t read them ‘every’ day). But when I do read them I just sit and crack up with God. One is called, Grace for the Moment by Max Lucado and the other is, Hope for Each Day by Billy Graham. They are those small, 365 day devotional books designed to give you a reading each day of the year.

Now, on the mornings that I read these devotionals I always read the passage in Hope for the exact date that we are on. For instance, I read June 20th this morning.  When I read from Grace, I always pray and ask God to give me a page number.  I know, I know, this all sounds a bit wacky Christian to you, but for those of you who pray for things like this, well, I am fairly normal.

What has amazed me 99.9% of the time is that when God gives me a date and I find the devotion, it goes hand in hand with the exact thing I prayed for before I began the reading. It’s always so funny to me, that I usually end up laughing before I am faced with the absolute awe of the situation.

Take this morning for instance. We have been going through a very bad situation that has been brought on unnecessarily and has evolved beyond our control.  Although some days appear pretty bleak, other days are filled with hope that, ‘This too shall pass.’  There is an instigator behind our dilemma and he has fueled this fire with nothing but deceit, lies and treachery.  I have had to resolve that I cannot hate this person, but that I need to place all of this in God’s hands and let Him not only lead, but let Him fight this battle for me. As often as I think of ways to torture and destroy this man, that little voice keeps reminding me that that is simply not my job.

In my bible reading I decided to read Proverbs chapter 20. Since today is the 20th I wanted it to coincide with the date. (There are 31 chapters in Proverbs, if you read a chapter a day you have one for every day of the month). Ok, on with Proverbs.  One verse in particular stood out and I wrote it down.  Do not say, “I will repay evil.” Wait on the Lord, and He will save you.  Proverbs 20:22 (NASB Version)

I finished my reading and picked up my book, Grace.  I prayed again and asked that God give me what I needed to hear from Him today.  I was led to open my book on July 1. The title of the devotion is, Judgment is God’s Job, and the verse in the upper right corner reads, Wait for the Lord, and He will make things right.  Proverbs 20:22 (New Century Version)

I almost died! Immediately I started laughing. I was stunned that it was the same verse I chose to write down earlier. I mean, in a bible full of verses, God gives me the same verse – again! Wow! Only God knows what I need and ‘when’ I need it.  He once again reassured me that He was in control and a wonderful peace blanketed me. It is a familiar peace, the same one He has given me in every trial of my life.  I know whatever the outcome of this trial, God is in control and He alone is the one who will make things right.What an awesome comfort.  Someone asked me once, “And just how do you know that it is actually God (Jesus – same guy for me folks), who answers your prayers?” Well, it’s actually quite simple.  When I pray, which is often, I do not pray to Buddha, Krishna, Shiva, Mary, Kwan Yin, or any other deity. I pray to Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ alone.  When my prayers are so obviously answered, I know WHO answered them, and that has given me a rock like faith, because I don’t question if He is real or not, I have no need to.

Once again I find myself pretty excited. Tomorrow I will wake, I will study, I will pray, and I will read my devotionals. I can’t wait to see what God has to teach me!

If you think you need therapy, start a blog...

Man oh man, life is so full of changes! I have recently been going through some rocky roads I never thought I would have to travel down.  While out mowing my grass today I was hit with the greatest revelation. Start a blog... I don't think it was a whisper I heard while mowing under the aspen trees, or a vision I got when I had to rub the dust from my eyes (the yard IS rather dry). But it was that still small voice, the one I hear so often, the one I have always believed is the spirit of God - gently talking to me. 

He reminds me of why He loves me, how He shows me He loves me, and why my life is so much better with Him in it. So, as I drove around the yard, event after event, time after time (that God has blessed me) came rushing into my mind and I thought, 'Hey! I will start a blog!'

I can assure you if you read along from time to time you will see just 'why' I think God is the coolest of the cool, and why He deserves a great big AWESOME in my book!  I can assure you it won't be a typical journey, but it will be a worthwhile journey. I will show you how God has taught me valuable lessons and how He has gotten me through times that seem hopeless. Thanks to Him my life is wonderful, and as always, Far from Ordinary!

I will also guarantee I have horrific grammer and I can't spell worth a darn. Also, from time to time I will use things other people have said, and although I can't remember their names or where it came from, I will NEVER take credit for something that did not originate with me. I will be truthful ( often to a point of personal embarrassment ), and I will always 'try' to stay within safe limits of story embellishment! :0)