A cold winter’s night

It is 4am.

Sleep evades me — again. Insomnia, my friend, I would like it better if you were less present in my life and more like a distant relative that just sends fruitcake once a year. But you are a tenacious little bugger. So you give me no choice but to acquiesce to your demands and surrender the night.

Again.

The snowfall has ceased and a light blanket of powder and ice glisten in the evening light. The street lights bank off the overcast sky and create a pink hue which encompasses the space between heaven and earth. I watch through the window and truly enjoy the beauty of nature. All the leaves have fallen, the trees are barren and I find it to be shockingly — peaceful.

Winter has begun.

winter

Delicious garden produce

I decided to start a garden again this spring.  I had visions of grandeur about all the beautiful veggies this garden would produce for my family and maybe even some neighbor-folk.  I had the best of intentions with staying up on the pictures of it to record the progress it was making but then life got in the way.  I managed to snap a pic or two though and I am pleased with what this little green patch has provided.

I planted the zucchini (we LOVE our zucchini) and it produced quickly and plentiful for a few weeks.

This is  the way they began.  The plants had been in the garden about 2 weeks and I was pleased to see such large blooms on them so quickly.

beautiful blooms

And then the tomatoes began to sprout to life just after the zucchini.  We were so excited!

tiny tomatoes

Then the zucchini looked like this…..growing an inch a day – no lie!

lookie here

Once both of these were ripened and ready to put to use, we did.  Now the fun could REALLY begin!

very full of flavor

yummy tomatoes - vine ripened

lovely tomatoes from the garden and now its time to slice and dice

add a little of this……

The broccoli was the only store-bought veggie I used in this dish.

3/4 cup each of zucchini and broccoli (give or take)

2 TBS olive oil

1 – 2 tomatoes

1 TBS lemon or lime juice

2 TBS minced garlic (optional)

Sometimes, I add julienned carrots for a touch of sweetness.  It just depends on what I am making to go with it.

Simply toss the broccoli and zucchini in a pan with the olive oil and turn the heat on MEDIUM.  Add the salt, pepper and garlic.  (You want the veggies to cook warm through but retain their crispness.)  At the end and only at the end, add the tomato and lemon/lime otherwise (because of the acid in both) it turns the whole thing to mush – yukky, yukky mush.

yuuuuumy!

And then serve it up like this…….tonight we had it along side onion – garlic chicken breast.

dinner is served

It is so easy to make and D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S!

Blessings,

Selena

stretching and testing and mountain climbing

Over the last several weeks I feel as though the Lord is stretching my spiritual muscles.  Ever feel that way?

It is like when you decide this is the time to get into shape and you begin going to a gym.  Oh, how difficult those first few weeks are!  You can barely breathe through the workout and you have pain in places you didn’t know existed but you keep up the routine because you know in the end the prize is worth the effort.

But, OH. THE. PAIN!

I have been faced with just such a challenge in my life only on a different playing field.  The situations I find myself in are spiritual in nature, difficult to breathe thru and I hurt in ways I did not know I could hurt.  These issues cause me to have to be in an almost constant state of prayer — I think that is the intention — so I do my best to be the dutiful servant and execute the Master’s plan and my part in it.

I PRAY….. AND I PRAY SOME MORE……AND I PRAY EVEN MORE.

But in the midst of the storm, I am ravaged.  I am nearly shipwrecked and about to capsize when I see the next wave coming straight for me.  I fear it will rip to shreds the remains of my spirit but I know the Lord has other plans for me in the middle of this uncertainty.  When I will let Him be in control, I can relinquish my thoughts, my plans, my insecurities and I can rest in the assurance of His love for me.  He knows what I need to bring me back to his loving arms.  He knows just how much I can take before I would do irreparable harm to myself or those around me.  I could be unkind, moody, pushy, loud and forceful,

AND. HE. LOVES. ME. STILL!

As I circle this mountain, I am reminded of how many times I have been around it already.  I say to him “Lord, I thought I learned what You were teaching me.”  When He does not answer I know the lesson has not been completely taught so around I go again only this time I will take a different approach.

I have made the decision to carry out the task set before me and not complain about my part in it.  Maybe that is part of the lesson –((don’t belly ache to anyone who will let me get away with it)).  We can not change the mistakes made by others in their lives and I really struggle with this concept.  My head can readily see why this is not prudent but my heart battles with the emotion of it.

See, I’m a “fixer”.  I want to do whatever I can to make the situation better for the person who is in a difficult position but life doesn’t work that way all the time.  You and I can give others the tools to help themselves but they have to be willing to do their part and make the necessary change.  WE can not, nor should we do the work for them, THEY must do it themselves because this is THEIR mountain.  Their teachable moment.  Stepping in and “fixing” the situation(s) only robs them of the opportunity to soak up the benefits of the lesson they are being taught.

Sometimes the mountain feels like a tiny ant hill and I, the large human, need only take a few small steps to complete the journey and learn the lesson.  But other times, like now, the mountain I am circling seems the size of Mt. Everest and I am the size of an ant.  During this time of stretching and testing I will continue to look to the Lord for guidance and clarity as well as His tenderness and mercy.

Today I am sore, I am weary and I am tired but I am reminded of a phrase in a song I love,

Sometimes, He calms the storm, but other times He calms His child

So I will keep a steady course.  I will weather this storm and no matter what path He chooses for me … I will press on.

I will press on until…

Blessings,

Selena

thrifty thursday

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a bargain hunter.  I don’t mean only buying things on sale and with coupons, though that is near and dear to my heart, I mean going to the Goodwill store, thrift stores, yard sales or estates sales.

I have been known to stop and pick through garbage piles on the curb, much to the chagrin of my daughters.  It has always been like a treasure hunt as far as I’m concerned.  I will brake suddenly, cross multiple lanes of traffic and do u-turns when I spy a sign on the side of the road.  I also like to go around to the back of businesses and see what kind of “quality” trash they put out beside the dumpster.  I just LOVE it!  I don’t think I will EVER stop.

My last trip to Goodwill profited me with a few great finds.  Here’s one that caught my eye.

crystal sherbet bowl

When I saw it I thought “oooooh, that’s pretty”, and it was only $1.98.  Then I thought, “but what can I do with it”?

Suddenly, I had a mental picture…the Fancy Feast commercial!  I could use the beautiful dish for feeding our sweet Roscoe.

I grabbed it.  So glad I did!

See who else is happy I snagged it…

our boy enjoying dinner from his new bowl

He seems to like the fact that it sits up higher and his collar doesn’t constantly go “clink, clink, clink” on the bowl while he is eating!

Roscoe is soooo cute and such a poser

I picked up a few other things this last trip which I will share in upcoming posts.  Way cool finds!

What do you do to make your dollar stretch?

Blessings,

Selena

Ladybugs and little girls

I have a great affinity for ladybugs…..always have and probably always will.  But the reasons are different for me now than they were when I was a little girl.

When I was a child, Mama introduced my sisters and me to those pretty little bugs.  The bright red color with the precision black polka dots made them stand out on the leaves and therefore, easy to locate for my pudgy, stunted fingers.  I would catch as many as I could then put them all together in a jar just to see the impact of their collective beauty.  I simply LOVED watching them.

Ladybugs could take me to a different world.  A place where fairy tales were real and life was lived confined only by one’s imagination and wishing and dreaming.

But, that was a lifetime ago….

Now I am older (by far) and a bit wiser (by a little)  and I know these bugs do not possess the abilities my young mind once thought they did.  BUT they still hold a special place in my heart and now remind me of a special little girl.  She is the daughter of one of my oldest and dearest friends, “KM”, and therefore, an extension of my family.  I am blessed to be part of her life and she holds the honorary title of “God Daughter” and “niece”.

She came to us (my friend and her husband) many years ago by way of Russia. The first time I saw her was when KM showed me a video she’d received from the adoption agency.  It was of a child approximately 16-18 months old.  She could hardly walk, wore shoes that didn’t really fit her tiny feet and had only a whisper of hair to cover her little head.  When the video was complete my friend asked me what I thought.  I simply smiled and said, “I think you just found your daughter”.

As KM began planning for the arrival of her little girl, “E”, she worked hard to make the toddler’s room just right.  She painted stripes on the walls, used pinwheels for flowers and had ladybugs crawling around —- it was just perfect.  Seeing those bugs took me back to that era in my childhood when they were all I could think of, but now, seeing them will be forever linked to this special little girl who changed our lives.  I hold dear a gift E made for my garden several years ago….it was a large smooth stone she’d painted red with large black polka dots and glued-on googly eyes.  I still have it and smile when thinking of the love that went into making it for me.

Last week, I received an announcement in the mail from KM for a promotion ceremony for E.  In Arizona, (where they live) there is a tradition of celebrating the end of a student’s time in middle school and the beginning of a whole new phase in their academic career, high school.  For most of us it was some of the best times of our lives and it was a time of growth, character building and life-long friendships blossoming into life.  I am looking forward to what this time in her life will bring for her.

It has been a joy to watch her grow from that little girl I first saw on a video into the beautiful young woman she is today.  She can be lovely and sweet.  She can be loud and spirited.  She can be distant and aloof one day and be your clinging shadow the next.  She can be sullen and enraged one moment and calm and contented the next.  In other words, she is a typical female and all that word encompasses.

Sweetie, this new season of your life will come with its own set of challenges and triumphs.  You will hate it and love it all at the same time.  You may be overwhelmed and you may be tired but, in the end, I know you will overcome anything life has to throw your way.  Your heavenly Father hears your every prayer and when everything else fades away, HE REMAINS.  Never let the weight of your circumstances to cause you lose sight of that power.

FOR I AM CONVINCED THAT NEITHER DEATH NOR LIFE, NEITHER ANGELS NOR DEMONS, NEITHER PRESENT NOR FUTURE NOR ANY POWERS, NEITHER HEIGHT NOR DEPTH NOR ANYTHING ELSE IN ALL CREATION WILL BE ABLE TO SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF GOD – Romans 8:38,39

AND, don’t ever stop chasing ladybugs, they are magical!

I love you,

Auntie

We were just kids

Years ago my life began a new direction.

I was born and bred in the deep south (for which I am grateful) and I had rarely ventured more than a couple of hours away from my home at any given time.  Life had been fairly normal, at least what I knew as normal, until the time when it was discovered my father was having an affair with one of the young girls in our church youth group.  He decided to leave his family because his selfish desires were more important than his commitment to his wife or family or the Lord.  Mama never had to support a family before and had never really worked outside our home but now she would have to in order to support us all.  We had to move closer to my maternal grandparents for help and support while Mama tried to figure out what our lives would look like, sans my father, her husband of 17 years.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

After several years of being a single mom she reconnected with an old friend in the state of Arizona and our path began anew, again.  A long distance courtship for her and a cross country move for us all removed me from everything I had always known.  It was frightening for me, starting over, not knowing anyone or anything about my surroundings.   I came to understand in a way I’d not known before that my life course was one I would steer, not anyone else.   I would have to step up and take responsibility for my actions and choices and bear the consequences of both.  I was only 16 yrs old.

Fast forward to the winter of 1983………

Our journey from Georgia was complete and I came into my new home, new state (not in the south, boo-hoo ) new people, new surroundings and new school.  It was a whole new world for me and an opportunity to recreate the person I was.  It was mid school year and students had already chosen classes for the entire year which meant my choices were limited.  I was placed in all my required classes but the elective courses were a different story all together because they were so limited.  It seemed the only available courses were ones like weight-lifting, shop or mechanics and I was less than thrilled with any of those choices.

But off in the corner of the page of electives listings was a theater class schedule that might be able to take on one more student…….and BOOM …….. my life changed …….  FOR – EVER.

In that one happenstance (though I know it was the Lord working behind the scenes for my good )  I was able to find my passion, my voice, my new life-long friends and my new path.  I was venturing into un-chartered territory and for the first time, I felt like I belonged.  These people were crazy, silly, funny and fun in ways I had not experience in my 16 yrs on this earth.  Little did I know at the time, this decision was going to be life-altering in ways I had not anticipated.  Because the next thing I know………

In walks “Curly” –  the lead in the spring musical “Oklahoma”  (aka Steve Murphy) and oh! I was smitten.  One might even say it was love at first sight although I made him work hard for that first kiss.

I couldn’t get enough of him.  I wanted to spend every minute with him.  I wanted to spend my days doing nothing but talking to him.  I wanted my every waking moment to be with him.  He was everything I never knew I always wanted.

And I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him……..

So 26 years ago today, we made it official.  Committing our lives to one another, and as a couple, to the Lord – accepting His blessings and His life lessons but always keeping Him at the center of our relationship.  We have weathered quite a bit over our years together.  We have dealt with what we sometimes felt were more than our fair share of ups and downs but we have survived – even thrived through it all, always coming back to our little nucleus of two.  Best friends facing the world together no matter what life threw our direction and here we are today, stronger than ever.

We would never have made it to where we are today without the hand of God in our lives.  I know beyond a shadow of a doubt I am where I belong and with whom I belong.  The Lord knew the desires of my heart and granted me His favor.

Life has never been the same…..its been better.

Baby, I love you more now than I ever thought possible…….Happy Anniversary!

And here’s a little something to think about……it all began because of one little drama class, with one little opening, for one more little student, from a one little southern town.

FOR I KNOW THE PLANS I HAVE FOR YOU, DECLARES THE LORD, PLANS TO PROSPER YOU AND NOT TO HARM YOU, PLANS TO GIVE YOU HOPE AND A FUTURE.         JEREMIAH     29:11