Monday, April 30, 2012

Living a Happy Life No Matter What Comes.....

Life throws many twists and turns at us, especially when we don't expect it. The theme at church yesterday seemed to center on that topic as all talks and lessons were geared towards trials and how we handle them with faith and grace.
Lately I've been anything but graceful and it's been hard to remember to be grateful because of pain. My foot blew out on me and then the back went wearing a brace at night to hold the foot steady. Ugh! Bad timing as we are supposed to be moving into my mother-in-laws home to help take care of her, but with the 110 miles between our two places I'm living in two homes trying to get one ready to move into, and one packed to move stuff out of. That's another challenge as some things will go north to our Oregon home, and some to Mom's. So here I am, a crippled up grandma, trying to juggle all the balls thrown at me right now.

I suppose I could sit down and cry, and believe me, there have been times that the pain has had me in tears, or I could listen to the doctors and learn a new lesson in patience. If I don't listen to them I may end up worse off than I am now, sooooo I will learn to enjoy the down time. I am able to hobble around the yard and do a bit of gardening, if I'm careful of how I get up and down and bend. I can sit with Mom at night and crochet pretty things while watching Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune, or Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.

I came to a new sense of gratitude as Mom and I enjoyed chicken salad sandwiches and fresh fruit for lunch. I'm not sure what got us on this topic, but she mentioned a family member who wouldn't talk to his brother, and when the brother died, they had never had a chance to make peace. I mentioned some of my family members and how they are angry, or hurt, or hold me at arms length for events that happened years ago, that caused everyone a lot of pain and anguish. It's been hard to deal with the one person who uses me as a punching bag because she can't get over the loss of our mother and rather than be mad at our real mom she takes it out on me. Then there are those who don't want to spend much time around me and hold me at arms length because I remind them of Mom. What they don't understand though, and have forgotten is the pain our mother went through in her life due to abusive people, and they won't accept that she was living in anguish because no one would face the truth and help her work through her pain. What's even sadder, is that they don't know that all the pain and anguish and suffering will be washed away when we go back home to Heavenly Father. All the evil, the ugliness and heartache will melt away and we will be able to live together with a peace we can't even imagine right now. I'm so thankful to know that.

So, how do I help them get beyond the pain? We have so much to live for right here on earth! There have been too many years that have flown by with missed opportunities to make memories and glean a bit of what it will be like in the hereafter. Oh, I reach out on occasion, and I get the occasional card or note in return, but I often feel like the annoying puppy, nipping at the ankles of the nearest human, seeking attention only to be brushed off when I get too close. Funny thing, I wonder if anyone knows that I have feelings as well sometimes. But let's not go off on a pity party, because that is not productive and only wastes time.

I know that some of my friends and family wonder why I'm Mormon. Family, pure and simple. We believe that family is central to the gospel plan for us. We believe that we have a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother, and that we will be able to work out all our earthly family strife, if not here, on the other side. Justice and mercy will be served in a godly manner, with compassion and love. If our own family has a hard time connecting with us here on earth, there is always a ready made family within the confines of church fellowship.

Sure, there are those who get caught up in the what and how of living a gospel centered life, but it's the why that matters. People matter, love matters. When we leave this life, the only thing that will matter, the only thing we take with us is our relationships with those we love, be they in or out of our immediate family.

It can be hard to focus on what truly matters when physical pain, or strife hit's us up side the head, but I like what President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said at conference last year about not walking around with our eyes on the ground, but looking up and seeing the beauty that surrounds us. We should share what we see with those we love. My mother-in-law says her father was always coming home with a branch or twig, or pretty leaf to share with his 8 children after a hard day of work. When I ask her what makes her happy, one of the things she mentions is nature. Her father gave her that gift. My mother did the same for us.

As my pain slowly subsides, and I toddle around precariously, trying to do my daily tasks and pace myself, I hope I can remember that I'm still walking, albeit not very far but I'm walking, that I still can garden, I can still drive, paint, sing, call someone, play Upwords with Mom, love on my husband, and so the list goes. How about you? What challenges are you trying to work through right now? What makes you happy?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tasty Tuesday, Easy Chicken Curry Soup

Time to take a break from the craziness on Facebook and share a delicious recipe schemed up by me yesterday. I'm a hobbling, babbling crazy woman due to pain and meds right now, so I will not be held accountable for telling all people to back off of Ann Romney and get a life.  For now, let's take a look at a recipe perfect for rainy Spring days.

Chicken Curry Soup
 1 chicken hind quarter
6 cups chicken broth
1 cup each diced or chopped onion, celery, carrots, zucchini, and baby bok choy.
1 3 inch cinnamon stick
1 star anise
1 tsp or to taste of curry powder
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2-3 whole allspice
tsp. peppercorns
I 10 oz. can of cream of mushroom soup
1/4 cup each jasmine rice and barley
Season to taste.

In a large pot toss in your chicken, onion, carrots, celery along with the broth and spices. Simmer for an hour or until chicken is tender and ready to fall off the bones. Take chicken out and add rice and barley. Simmer until just done, about 30 minutes, and add soup, zucchini and bok choy. Take chicken off the bones and discard fat and skin, then add to pot. Fish out the cinnamon stick and other large spice pieces. This is so easy, and makes enough for 6 to 8 servings. Enjoy! Now go hug someone and tell them you love them. Taa taa. :-)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Becoming Self Reliant - Part 1

 I was fortunate to have a mom who was willing to teach me whatever I wanted to learn. I know it probably annoyed my sister to death as Mom always tried to include her in whatever I was interested in, whether it was crocheting, embroidery, cooking or art, but Joanne was more interested in playing outside and running with her friends. That wasn't my cup of tea so I spent a lot of time with Mom, learning domestic diva skills.
It's been fun to see a resurgence in hand made and hand crafted clothing, jewelry, aprons, and the re-purpose, re-cycle, re-use movement. I grew up with folks that naturally thought that way, but we lost those skills somewhere along the way.
The LDS church recently put out a publication "Daughters in My Kingdom" a veritable jewel of wisdom and knowledge, designed to enhance what we women do best. On page 51 of this publication there is a side note box with tips on becoming self-reliant. In light of the turmoil going on today in the world I was drawn to what is listed in the box. So today I'm going to tackle the first tip which is "Learning to love work and avoid idleness".
Vacation versus being home and working, most would say no contest there, but have you ever noticed and perhaps it's my type A personality, that when on vacation, sitting around gets old quickly. Okay, I might be the only one Really though, it's okay to take a break from work, but there is a pervasive thought that being a domestic diva and all that goes with that is boring and just not fun. Having raised a few children myself, or dealt with them in our home, I can attest to how hard it can be sometimes. I think though, we tend to dwell on the negative and not look at the positives, such as hugs and kisses from little ones, having the opportunity to be creative in the kitchen, decorate our homes the way we like, create something uniquely us. I love how so many young moms are getting into sewing and knitting and crocheting, and how many folks are discovering the joy of raising a garden and eating the fruits of their labors. It's refreshing to see all the DYI shows on TV and publications in the stores on raising farm animals, making cheese and bread and so on. There are other ways to take the work we do and make it enjoyable, like having a purpose when we cook, perhaps adding extra ingredients to take an extra casserole to a sick friend, or as in the case of the collar you see above, bring joy to the receiver of a hand made gift. My mother-in-law loves to watch Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune as well as Who Want's to Be a Millionaire so I sit with her at night and crochet. She loved the yarn I was using to make this, which for me was a test of my skills, so it became a gift for her. I can't just sit and watch TV unless I have a bowl of popcorn or something to occupy my hands, and popcorn 5 nights a week would not be a good idea as much as I love it. Mom lost her husband recently so sitting with her is the least I can do, and since she doesn't see well enough to do most things we understand her need to keep her mind active by the shows she watches.  Learning to love work is not as hard as it seems, and avoiding idleness can help us find what we didn't know we could do, as well as bring joy to someone else.