August 27, 2013
Jarring, ME Newsletter, Vol. 6, Issue 35
According to some interesting statistics, Praise outweighs Laments in Psalms.
Sixty-seven psalms are regarded as lament psalms either wholly or in part. Sixty-one are laments in their entirety. I find that a bit jarring.
Mathematically, to personally match that map, I’d be reducing laments to only 1/3 of my daily thoughts. This idea was pre-enforced one full day before I heard this message; phrased as a question after a little summarizing litany. “Did anything go right?” Well, no. The entire month of July and into August, so far, nothing has gone “right.” Nothing was easy; nothing was as it should have been on the first or second or even third try, in some cases.
Back-tracking a bit, back in January I began a praise jar. For a while, I kept up the daily different colored sticky note notes with mini messages to myself about things that made me smile or laugh, people I spent time with, places I went, little bits of self-praise, items on a perpetual to-do list that finally were completed. Somewhere between the search for a new home and the ensuing disasters, I gave up searching for any proverbial needle-in-a-haystack happiness.
Not everything is wrapped up nicely or even resolved, but for the moment, I’ve abandoned those items, too. Now that the furor has quieted, I’m just too underwhelmed. Faced with a domino-stacked list of what has to happen in order for other things to happen so that everything eventually happens in an orderly fashion, has me in an annoying limbo-hold.
Sometime this week, I do need to resolve the near $400.00 difference between the ins and outs of the treadmill disaster. The good news is, (yes I’m going there, so you’d better be proud of me) I really like the Sole. Still have to read the manual. It’s on my list. It’ll probably make it to my praise jar as an accomplishment. I’m also going to attempt to recreate some better moments for praise and for noting.
That in itself is going to be one, for sure, in the brightest color I can find.
August 20, 2013
Summer Freeze, ME Newsletter, Vol. 6, Issue 34
Finally, the wonderful towards-the-end of the summer usual light breezes, low humidity, sunny days are here. Weeks of summer rain, storms, days that eerily remind us of mid-October when the sun sets earlier and the sun rises later, almost had me convinced the season would pass us by. If I could freeze these perfect, sweet days and savor them later, I would.
For some reason, the fruit seems sweeter this year, the vegetables more robust. My gardener friends tell me the opposite is true. Some seedlings drowned, some were overcome with mold and rot. Still, there are plenty of garden goodies being shared: cucumbers, zucchini, corn, musk melon. I’ve been buying boxes of ripe fruit from Costco. Washing, drying; some require slicing. It’s a process; a bit of a labor of love, and requires at least an overnight. Separated as best possible, readied whole blueberries, pitted dark cherries, sliced strawberries, nectarines, and raspberries, end up carefully spaced on waxed paper-covered baking sheets. Once frozen, doled into two-portion baggies, and packed into gallon freezer bags.
Yes, the fruits are a bit mushy after defrost. But, for my uses, they suit. Most often mixed into yogurt, blended into smoothies, added flavor for water, and occasionally used in baking. Buying frozen fruit isn’t that much cheaper, and the ripeness prior to freezing is sometimes questionable.
Sure it’s a lot of work. But then, I accidentally discovered that a smoothie of 1% milk, fruit and flax seed, turns into a lovely “ice cream” when refrozen. If the fruit is super ripe and sweet, only two ingredients are required. I let the frozen, sliced fruit sit in the milk for two minutes, until they weren’t as rock-hard. Blend to frothy consistency, placed into a plastic storage container. Freeze uncovered for 30 minutes.
I also tried it with my hand-pitted cherries. Unfortunately, they were tart cherries, so the outcome wasn’t as sweet. I suppose a little sugar, or maybe some Cool Whip, or a few dark chocolate chips would have helped, but I didn’t have those on hand. That would bring down the healthy side of things a bit, but the end results would still far better than store bought or even a traditional recipe. I saw a recipe using frozen bananas and a bit of vanilla flavoring, too. Another item, I don’t have, but may consider making au natural.
When the mornings light up later and the evenings darken earlier, I'll have prolonged my summer season well into winter. Happy to be knowing my summer freeze will make me feel fine, and I'll be savoring these days after all.
My original recipe contained: ½ cup of 1% milk, one thinly sliced, frozen nectarine, and about 1/2 tablespoon of ground flax seed. Nutrition Estimate: Calories 130, Fat 3, Protein 5, Fiber 2.8, Sugars 17. Without the flax seed: Calories 112, Fat 1, Protein 4, Fiber 2.0, Sugars 17
August 13, 2013
The Story, ME Newsletter, Vol. 6, Issue 33
That was my immediate reaction a few weeks ago listening to a speaker; a planter whose ideology centered about deletion of personal testimony and faithful reiteration of GOD’s story. The message was, “It’s not about YOU. It’s about GOD. So, leave yourself out of it!”
Maybe it’s because I came about my faith through a back door; sort of like the one we used to use to visit that little old Italian restaurant in Stamford, CT. My father’s father took me there, often after spending a day “working” at his office placing postage stamps on legal sized envelopes and using an ink stamp to imprint the return address of the “Niles Adjustment Company.” It wasn’t much to look at, but wonderful scents wafted through the screen door. Pots and pans would be banging, a little bit of yelling in Italian. We always passed through a busy kitchen, and made our way into a small room. Just a few tables, hardly ever anyone else there. I did wonder about it being so small, but not enough to investigate. As explanation, I formed the uninformed opinion that they must sell a lot of take-out pizzas.
Then one day, as a family, not just me and my grandfather, but my parents and others, as well, drove to dinner. I was looking forward to my little Italian restaurant, and sort of wondering where everyone would fit. I was disappointed when we pulled into an unfamiliar parking lot, but I knew better than to complain. Kids who were my age then, and adults who are my age now, know what I’m talking about.
With the hurried help of waitstaff, we assembled in the dining room, helping slide tables and move chairs. Even so, it was a fancier place than where Poppy had been taking me. Cloth napkins, and glowing votives, full sets of silverware, water glasses and wine glasses. Swinging doors with teasingly small windows lead into the kitchen. It wasn’t until menus arrived, that I had an epiphany. We were in the exact same restaurant! We had merely used the front door. That was a whole different story. It turned out that my little room, all of what I knew of the restaurant - was just the on the other side of the kitchen.
In some ways, there is a likeness to my relationship with the Old and New Testaments. As far as I knew, the Bible ended at the Old Testament. I never questioned it. I knew that there was another “different” Bible that others used. I regarded them as “substitution” Bibles; I didn’t really understand that the New was the sequel to the Old. I just thought it was the “wrong” Bible, because that is what I was taught.
I admit my life experiences and my changing paths, make me feel different. Although, they do not make me more knowledgeable. My Judaic roots are surface, at best. Looking behind enables me to see how far I have come. I don’t need to completely turn my back on my past to make it to the future – it’s still a valid reference point. I also might not need the future if I can finally succeed in living in the here and now.
So anyway, going through the back door, then learning there’s more - that is my strong testimony.
I do not believe it is enough to simply tell the ancient story. I believe it is about “me.” It’s about the people I’ve met, who’ve told me and showed me how it was and is for them. It was their stories that lead me backwards – to and through learning. That was one thing I could agree with – a recommendation from the pulpit: “Instead of running towards your future, walk backwards into it.”The more I learn, the more I know – the better I am able to understand: GOD did this for them before me - in ancient times and recently. And then… HE chose to do it FOR ME.
It is equally, or perhaps even more important to share that GOD is still leading us to the right path, still performing miracles. Through the Bible HE is telling us, “I’ve done it before… for Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joshua. For Daniel, and Ruth, the peoples of Israel and the Disciples , and I will do it for you.”
So, No – I don’t see any problem with testimony - You are GOD’s story as much as the Bible is HIS story.” Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It’s good to be included in the company of GOD’s blessings.
August 06, 2013
No, Thank You, ME Newsletter, Vol. 6, Issue 32
“No, thank you.”
It’s one of my favorite phrases.
These days, with short texts, abbreviated emails, acronyms and general confusion over etiquette, the difference between” No” and “No, thank you” is more important to me than Miss Manners or Dear Abby might have imagined. I haven’t done any hard research on the subject, but, well, research and life are mostly subjective, anyway.
I don’t argue with a “No, thank you”… ever. If the conversation stops there, it’s fine with me. If an explanation is offered, it helps ease the doubt about the reason for refusal, but I won’t press. I’d much rather you stop right there than formulate some made-up, transparent excuse.
“No, thank you,” keeps the situation clean, unmuddled, out of the confusion zone. It’s far better than:
“Not right now,” which implies- later.
“Maybe,” which implies- possibly.
“I’ll think about it,” which implies the need to wait for a response.
“No, thank you,” implies graciousness in refusal – “It was kind of you to offer.”
“No, thank you,” implies well thought out standards, established limits and honesty – “I’m not interested, I’d rather not do that – or eat that.”
“No, thank you,” implies a request for acknowledgement of the right-to-refuse – “Please respect my refusal no matter what the secret or shared reason may be.”
“No, thank you,” is the crowning cap of a good, straight-forward relationship – valuable and invaluable.
One of my favorite phrases.