Thursday, March 31, 2011

Friday, it's Friday

Soon, very soon, I will be singing this song.

Oh, how I have been counting the hours until have no idea.

Since taking Financial Peace University, I have been learning things about money and myself. Sometimes I'm just learning about money. Other lessons pierce my heart. Usually both happen, I feel smarter about financial decisions and more convicted about my own spending habits. 

Oh yeah
With this new system of budgeting, we have an allotted amount of money for things. When the money is gone, it's gone. I have never lived this way and it's a struggle. Denying oneself of the things SHE wants or needs is my Achilles heel. I want what I want when I want it, especially when it comes to food. I'm do not have an eating disorder, we are all within normal weight guidelines but food is my weakness. I like to cook, I REALLY like creating healthy meals. What is wrong with that???

Working in a soup kitchen in a poor village in Peru
Um, I can answer that question. When you spend too much money on groceries and you throw away food, that is a problem. When you have gone to third-world countries and really seen hungry people, trust me, pangs of shame pervade your spirit. I have despaired over my wastefulness and lack of culinary creativity. I have felt embarrassed bringing in bags of groceries when the refrigerator was already full. It's like I'm never satisfied and I really beat myself up afterward. 

My fridge and freezer are emptier than they've been in ages. 
I've always been able to justify my food spending. I don't wear lavish clothing, I've had a manicure maybe twice in my life, we don't live in a mansion. My indulgence is food. The Hubs knew better than to question GROCERIES! Hrmph! Did he want us eating JUNK? Did he want us to starve? Just keepin' it real.

But the Lord is doing a new thing and when the money for groceries ran out this week, I didn't run out to the store or farmer's market. What a battle with my flesh to not go and get some food staples! Instead we have been surviving on what we have in our cupboards, freezer and fridge. No one is starving. No one is deprived. I live with a sweet and generous husband who isn't a tyrant. If I wanted to go to the store and buy bananas, asparagus, flour, quinoa, sweet potatoes, firm tofu, carrots, kiwi, agave nectar, applesauce, butternut squash, rice milk, mozzarella cheese, onions, lettuce, cinnamon, milk, kale, aluminum foil, pineapples, wakame seaweed, etc., etc. (can you notice the zeal with which I wrote this list???)  I could have done that. 

It's obvious Dawn dishwashing liquid is DEFINITELY on my list!
But this has been between the Lord and me. Not the Hubs and I. And oh how I have valued being in contact with like-minded women via blogs like Lizzie, and Mary and Jenn and Julia along with facebook, phone and just regular fellowship. YOU have blessed me and fed me in ways the food couldn't. Thank you. 

I have about a tablespoon of gas in my car. Not complaining, just waiting until FRIDAY!!!!
God has been telling me to hang on until Friday. And with great confidence, He's promised me that this isn't going to be an April Fool's Day joke with Him. He has been saying, "Girl, I got you. I am providing. Let me do this."

I believe every word of this apron I made. 
I'm still going to write my "obituary" but I just had to share. Can you relate? 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What kind of question was THAT?

Contemplate your road
Earlier in the week my friend Michele asked my middle OS a question. She did this in front of me and it wasn't the sort of question most well-behaved women pose...

Not only was the question unusual but so were Aaron's and my reaction. 

Ok, so this was her question -

"Aaron, did you write your obituary today?"

What would you think if your bestie asked your kid that question?

With nary a hint of awkwardness, Aaron smiled and said that yes, he had indeed written his obituary. It was almost as if she had asked my OS if he was going to play his guitar, nothing shocking entered his response.

And if it's possible to be an outside observer of yourself, I was surprised by my own reaction to that question. I didn't smack Michele upside the head nor did I burst into tears, something I can do with the greatest of ease. I just listened to their verbal exchange.

How strange it is that two of my three OS's have written their obituaries. How peculiar that I am telling you. How not surprising that I am NOW crying as I continue to type this post. 

During their junior years in high school, it has been a standard assignment at our sons' school. In British Literature class, students  pen their own obituary. Neither of my OS would have set out to do this independently but I'm glad they did. Trust me, you learn a lot about your kids with this type of homework.

So by now, you're wondering, "Well, what did they write? What did you learn?"

Nate's senior pic 2008
Nate was 85 and he died on a Thursday after saving his grandson from oncoming traffic. (Ok, I find that part funny, I mean, how old is his grandson???) "Nathan lived an exciting life that was marked by service to his country and service to the Lord." My OS achieved a measure of political stature in his lifetime and was well respected in his community. He was married and had a quiver of children.

Aaron was a nonogenerian, just three years shy of being 100. He enjoyed a long marriage and was blessed with six kids, 17 grandkids and ten great-grandkids. He had been a pastor for 41 years.

I love that face. I love that boy. 
Oh how I long for these to be their true stories. Long lives, fruitful, productive, reproductive men who loved their families and the Lord. My heart's cry is for them to breathe their last completely satisfied with what they gave to others, praising God for every page in their book of life. And while the thought of them actually having an obituary is more than this mama can handle right now, I appreciate the exercise of them consciously thinking about how they are living. 

In my next blog post, I am going to share with you my obituary. It is of a different sort and I've been waiting for the right time to put it out there. Since I strive to be honest and don't want to string it along just in the hopes of getting a few more "hits" on my blog, I do not have a terminal disease. 

Have you ever thought about your children's legacy? How do you think you would react to this assignment? I'd love to hear!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Dehydrating the days away

I hesitate to even write this post lest some of you become envious of my exciting life.

my pretty little world
Going hither and yon as I do, one minute I'm dropping a cylinder of salt on someone's head at Trader Joe's, the next I'm waiting for my stepfather to finish his colonoscopy. Oh the thrilling pace of my life!

So if you must, depart from this post immediately. I will understand.

But yesterday was a Red Letter, adrenaline pumping day for me because...

I became a food dehydrator owner!

A large truck deposited 11 food dehydrators to me Wednesday afternoon and according to the delivery person, she's never had someone so excited to see her. Truly I don't need 11 food dehydrators but I gathered almost a dozen other families who were interested in healthy cooking and we all placed a group order. Now the boxes have arrived and everyone is as eager as I am to get started. 

Hello, delivery lady!
Ain't she a beauty?
About an hour after establishing a location for my new toy, two bunches of bananas were sliced, spritzed with lemon juice and ready to christen my Excalibur Model 3926T. Btw, the "T" stands for the 26, yes, 26 hour timer, an outstanding feature, if I do say so myself. :)

Now my first batch of dried bananas sit in the pantry. They look and sound like wooden nickels but taste much better. My orange hair, freckle face OS isn't completely enamoured with them but I'm not giving up. I'm going to make this work in my family. My OS and the Hubs will appreciate my efforts at conservation and nutrition or face my wrath. 

Um, maybe this isn't the right technique???
My new appliance murmurs away the kitchen and today, the trays are loaded with apple slices, strawberries and carrots. The apples were going to spoil soon, it is pleasing to put them to good use and not be wasteful. Don't you admire people that can put things together simply? They use everything and don't squander the smallest morsel. They also don't hoard and that to me, seems to be a challenge. I want to be the kind of woman who is a faithful steward of the things she is given yet I also desire a clutter-free, welcoming home. Striking the right balance requires skill. 
Bananas full of hydration - not for long, you guys!

As silly as getting a new food dehydrator may sound to some, trivial though it might be to a person who pities the stay-at-home mom for the supposed drudgery of her life, I am thrilled with my new purchase. The thought of caring for my family, feeding them healthy things and learning new homemaking techniques brings me contentment.

A not so wonderful reaction to braised daikon radishes

According to Mary Bell's Complete Dehydrator Cookbook, why in no time, I will be making Backpacker Tuna a la King and Fancy Tomato Leather Chips. Yes, my OS's lunch bags will be filled with beet leather and homemade crackers and friends shall crowd around them begging for a mere taste of these delicacies! My West Point OS will plead and beg for boodle loaded with Backpacker Fancy Macaroni and Cheese or pineapple sliced seasoned with cardamom. I can see it now! 

While reading the recipes to Ike, I prophesied a future father/son camping trip complete with Backpacker Rice Balls Wrapped in Nori and kayaking adventures energized thanks to Tom's Red Wine-Marinated Dried Fish. My comments were meant with an impish grin and rolling of the eyes. 

This is the expression I anticipate in the future from my orange hair, freckle face OS!
I'll be sure to capture their noteworthy reactions as my dehydrating repertoire continues! Let the drying begin!