Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Some Day

Fascinating Turkey
We were four old friends sitting together in a restaurant catching up over lunch.

Judie enthralled us with exotic tales of her trip to Turkey, which she had always said she'd take some day, and finally did.

Joy's fork paused halfway to her mouth and she pensively said, "Some day. I just read about a woman who always said that some day she'd wear the beautiful nightgowns she received every Christmas.

But that some day never came. When she died, they were all folded neatly in her closet with the tags still on them."

"My aunt did that too," Nancy chimed in. "She always had the most frayed, worn towels hanging in the bathroom, so we gave her set after set of pretty new towels, which she said she'd use some day. We found them all stacked beneath her bed after she was gone."

A long silent moment passed. Then Joy said, "I think we need to break free of that way of thinking ... putting off the best for some day. Some day is now."

She's right.

Saving the best for some day resonated with me. Maybe I got that from my mother, who always dressed like a ragamuffin when company wasn't coming and saved her good clothes until she outgrew them and never got the chance to wear them.

Or maybe I just fancy myself too plain, practical and pragmatic to eat on the good china. So it sits in the china cabinet untouched year after year collecting dust.

Why do we do that? Why do so many of us limp along, making do with second best or even rags in life? I'm not talking about just nightgowns or towels, but jobs, relationships, personal accomplishments ... so many areas in which we give up trying too soon.

Do we not think we're worthy of something better?

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Stirred, Not Shaken

Our charred porch

I startled awake from a dead sleep last Sunday afternoon, the word we all dread to hear vibrating through my every molecule.

"Fire!" I heard it again, this time recognizing Chuck's strained voice only a decibel below scream level.

Sitting up and staring dumbly at my surroundings, I groggily realized I was in bed. Then it came back to me - I had been taking a much needed afternoon nap after getting 2 hours of sleep the night before and teaching 9 preschool classes within 3 hours that morning. Ugg. Talk about a lead weight in your head.

What's going on? I thought, still not quite awake. Then I smelled smoke.

I jumped up and ran into the smoke-hazy den, where through the glass porch door, I could see Chuck throwing a bucket of water into the corner. The smoke alarm started screeching. I raced over to the metal porch door, but it was super-heated. Ouch!

Peering through the window onto the porch, I saw glowing embers surrounding a blackened lump that used to be a large potted silk fern. Black soot left a smoke trail up the stucco wall and darkened the white metal ceiling. The floorboards were charred. Chunks of smoldering fiberglass from the four-foot fountain in the corner - the one now sporting a gaping hole in its side - were scattered to the far end of the porch, 30 feet away.

One sizable chunk had adhered itself to a wooden rocking chair leg like one of those cannonball blobs fired at Mr. Incredible on the runway of the secret island computer room. (Now don't tell me you aren't an Elasti-Girl fan - I know you saw that movie!)

We still don't know exactly what happened, but our best guess is that an electrical cord attached to the fountain pump shorted out and somehow caused the potted fern to explode, turning pieces of the fountain into flaming projectiles. By the grace of God (and that is NOT just a flippant expression here), Chuck was home (he usually goes outside to get exercise on Sunday afternoons at that time), sitting in a chair he rarely sits in about as close to the porch as you could get.

He heard the explosion and thought it was a tree falling.(With all the rain we've been getting lately, huge oaks have been falling about every other week.) Then he noticed pretty good sized flames erupting through the glass porch door and started yelling while he ran to grab buckets of water so I would wake up and get the heck out before the house burned down.

Long after Chuck had doused the fire, we were still trembling. What if we hadn't been home when the fern exploded? Two hours earlier or two hours later we would have been gone ... and come back home to a blazing inferno. The entire wooden porch would have ignited quickly, eventually engulfing the house as well. Every single thing we own could be gone. And our sweet little dogs? Can't even go there.

Be still my heart.
This is what a nuked fern looks like.

So you can imagine how immensely grateful we are to Papa God for His mercy and care. I found a new verse I've added to my Life Saver scriptures: "Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken" (Acts 2:25, NIV).

Stirred, yes. Shaken, no. Papa's got our backs.

Now I've just got to figure out how to get the smoke odor out of my sweaters hanging in the closet nearest the porch. I'd really rather not walk around this winter reeking of charred faux fern and molten fiberglass. Ideas, anyone?  

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Stress-Free Cooking

I'm sooo excited to share this first short video introducing stress-free cooking recipes from my Too Blessed to be Stressed Cookbook, releasing online and in bookstores Nov 1. 

Three additional videos are in production and will be released within the next two months. 

Rachael Ray I'm not, but I do enjoy creating quicker, easier ways of doing all things kitchen like she does. I'd love to hear what you think of my videos! (Always open to improvement!)

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Near Misses

KaBLAM. Whoa.

That was close.

My nose hairs are standing at attention, my skin is crawling and my teeth are tingling like I just bit into a wad of tin foil.

Ever felt like this?

Living in the lightning capital of the world (Tampa area), I experience this nasty sensation more often than I'd like. And since my sister was knocked senseless by lightning when we were kids, I have more than a healthy respect for those silver bolts of destruction. I have fear.

(Don't worry - my sister recovered. Mostly. Except for her strange chia pet hair and that crazy twitch of her left eyebrow that makes her look like Mr. Spock flirting with a Klingon.)

My neighbor had a near miss recently. During a severe thunder storm, a particularly virulent bolt zig-zagged strategically through the thick leafy canopy of a 50-year-old oak about 15 feet from his house, leaving a clean slice mark on the trunk but largely ignoring the tangle of oak branches while exploding its wrath on the much smaller crepe myrtle sheltered beneath the eaves of the house.

It was like the bolt was aiming. It snaked through and around the branches of the massive oak and the roof of the house sheltering the little bush to zero in on its target. Ka-BLOOEY! Big time.

The poor little crepe myrtle looked like it had jumped right out of its bark. Its branches were splintered into small shards, spread all over the front yard.  

You could only survey the damage and shake your head, pondering all the disastrous could haves.

 Near misses. You've had your share too, haven't you? Maybe not with lightning, but something that was so close to calamity, it frightened the bejeebies out of you. How did you react? Did you dwell on the could haves and allow fear to kidnap your heart?

Or did you open your palms toward heaven and thank your Papa God that He protected you yet again?

I actually do both. What about you? I'd love to hear about your experience with near misses.