MOMMY MEMORIES

LASDI©

LASDI©

They’re everywhere. And I mean EVERYWHERE. In a container under my bed. In a shoe box on a shelf in the closet. Hanging in various places all over the house. On the fridge. In the attic. In my jewelry box. In guestroom closets. In blanket boxes and hope chests all around the house. On my night stand. IN my night stand. In a basket NEXT to my night stand. And for the sake of this blog post and your sanity, I won’t name the many other places they are.

I know this makes me sound like a hoarder, no matter what it is I am talking about. But these particular things I have found are my pleasure to hoard – all the things The Kiddos have made for me, written for me, drawn for me, or given to me that have managed or stay intact.

Each one has efficacy in its own way; value and worth beyond all measure. They stem from the crayon kindergarten scribble to letters in their own adult penmanship. I have a wire cross that looks like lace that was purchased for me at Summer Church Camp. I have a red teddy bear with a heart on one foot and on the other foot is embroidered the year 2003, even though it was given to me in 2004. I have a heart-shaped ceramic box that was painted for me that I’ve dropped, broken, and super-glued back together four times. I have about a thousand construction paper cards and poems. Could be more.

I even have things I’ve saved from their childhood that weren’t given to me, but at some point belonged to them, like one baby shoe. Or their teeth. All their baby teeth. ALL OF THEM. They’re in a tooth-shaped box in the bottom drawer of my jewelry box. Don’t judge me.

I can’t say I was the best mom that ever was. I mean, at the end of each day – even in their adulthood – I ask myself before I pray for them if I’ve done the very best I could, even if I fell short. The answer has always emphatically been yes. Some days were a home run, and some days I should have stayed in the dugout. But I was always a team mom.

Somehow, I knew that part of my living legacy – and the one I leave behind – would have a more profound effect on both them and me by having these things to look upon. It could be the future: “I’m going to have these twenty years from now to look at and show them and we can smile and laugh about it together.” It could be the present: “Let’s take a selfie and post it to my social media scrapbook.” Or it could be the past: “I can’t believe you drew this for me when you were five!”

Oh I know they probably won’t keep all this stuff after I’m gone. But when they’re going through this landfill time capsule, they WILL smile. They WILL know how much they meant to me. They WILL know I was crazy kookamunga, but all in the name of love.

When they were small, I didn’t understand pursuing them. I just knew I loved them, and that their health and well-being depended on me. I knew I wanted them to be grounded, well-rounded, kind, successful humans. But looking back, I think keeping these things was a subconscious pursuit. As they are adulting so hard now, I know being a mom doesn’t ever stop, but it changes as they do. I mega-pursue them now and try to insert myself into their lives in such a way that isn’t obnoxious (I said I TRY) and that lets them know how much they mean to me, too.

I love waking up every morning and seeing the folded note on my night stand marked “mom” that The DAUGHTS gave me the day The GRAND Daughts was born. I love opening my jewelry box and seeing the tiny pink plastic ring Schmooly-Wooly found in the grass one day that he decided he would hand over to me to have as though he were little, even though he was grown and already a part of this family. I love walking by the lopsided hand-sewn pillow in my room that The Sonster made when he was small and away at camp. I love the delicate string tied around my master-bathroom closet door that The Daughts-In-Law tied a Christmas gift up with. I love the patch from The Kid’s Army uniform he gave to me one day at lunch. I love all of it – and I love all of THEM. And they are amazing humans that love me right back.

Yes, I know we can’t take “things” with us when we die. I know that items of value won’t go to the grave with us. But the things I’m talking about are daily PRICELESS reminders of how hard I work to find joy in the hard times life can bring us; pictures of the blessings that are directly in front of us; reminders of how hard I’ve worked to be the best mom I can be, even when I fall short.

I don’t get mad if I don’t get expensive gifts on Mother’s Day. I don’t get upset if every single thing doesn’t go just perfectly. I don’t even get sad if I have work I have to get done that day. I try to turn that day into a reminder to look for even better ways to show my gratefulness and adoration for the blessings that are The Kiddos; ways to ensure we stand united; ways to leave a legacy of faith, hope, and LOVE.

And I also look for more places to hoard all the Mommy Memories that will be coming my way……

I'LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS

LASDI©

LASDI©

Some people absolutely love Christmas music. Some even start playing it the day after Halloween because they love it so much. I know there are people out there that just can’t stand it at all, but I’m not one of those Scrooges. I love, love, LOVE Christmas music - especially the classics.

So, the other day, I was washing dishes and streaming Classic Christmas Music station and the song, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, came on.

It goes like this:

“I’ll be home for Christmas

You can plan on me.

Please have snow

And mistletoe

And presents on the tree.

Christmas Eve will find me

Where the love light gleams.

I’ll be home for Christmas

If only in my dreams.”

Well. I found myself crying into the dishwater. I have heard that song a thousand times or more and never once can I recall it making me cry. But there were so many things that were rushing through my brain and effecting my heart and crying just seemed the natural response.

The first thing I thought of was The Kid - our youngest son, Jordan. He’s been in the Army for a couple of years now, and we are fortunate if we get to see him for the holidays. But even outside of this time of year, he misses home something FIERCE. He is stationed at a location where there happens to be snow, which is so different from his home here in Texas. So though I don’t think he cares about us having snow, as the song requests, I do know he dreams of being home just the same.

Thinking of The Kid led me to think of all the other soldiers and service people who won’t be home for Christmas. I thought of all the videos and commercials I’ve seen of soldiers surprising their loved ones: a child opening a remote-control car for Christmas and his dad ‘remoting’ it to the front door while the youngster follows it only to find his mommy in her fatigues, crouching with her arms open to embrace the child she hasn’t seen in so long; or the ever-popular soldier-dad who pops out of the basketball mascot suit to his son playing in the game while the crowd cheers. Oh, you can bet by this time, the dish-gloves had come off (as had the false eyelashes) and I had moved to the couch in full-ugly cry mode.

From the soldiers to the civilians who simply can’t get away from their work or who want to go home with all their might but maybe can’t afford it. My mind was racing, and my heart was pounding. And breaking. And my eyes were pouring.

How can I seriously find comfort and joy knowing this? How can I find the silver lining as I try to do in all things knowing people can’t come home for Christmas?

I started running through the song again in my head.

“Christmas Eve will find me, where the love light gleams”……YES. I got it. The love light. Where does the love light gleam no matter where we are?? I hope you know the answer before I tell you: OUR HEARTS! That is why he ends the song with “if only in my dreams”. If he can’t be there physically, he is allowing his heart to be there, just as he dreams it would be if he were.

Even though I wish the opposite of this truth, not everything is a Hallmark movie that has the most-perfect ending. Sometimes we can’t make it home for Christmas. Or sometimes our loved ones can’t make it home to us. Either way, if we let Christmas Eve find us where the love light gleams, we can imagine home and know that the reason we pine for it is because we are loved or have people that love us enough to want to be together! What a blessing. What a love light.

The Hubster and I are always home for Christmas. We put zero pressure on The Kiddos to come see us. Our Fall Family Day, Thanksgiving weekend and Family Festivus, full of traditions are our only requests. They are married now and have other family they may want to be with for Christmas and we do not want them to feel the burden (some of you know it well) of trying to please everyone for the holidays by traversing from one end of the world to the other in order to spend only a few minutes with each family member. In those moments, it seems that we are taking being “home for Christmas” for granted; as though it were something that we grumble about, not thinking of those who wish they had that very opportunity.

But now being home for Christmas has taken on a whole new meaning for me. It doesn’t matter where you hang your hat for the holidays. It doesn’t matter if you are all together or miles apart. It’s where the love light gleams that takes you home for Christmas.

So I will always be home for Christmas. If only in my dreams.

Merry Christmas, Lovelies. May your love light gleam brighter than ever.

SEASONS CHANGE

LASDI©

LASDI©

For the sake of this blog post, I did a quick (un-sanctioned, non-governmental) poll.  The poll consisted of fifty people.  Some I knew, some I did not.  Some lived in my region and some lived in other parts of the country.

I simply asked them what their favorite time of year (or season) was.  Out of fifty people, they all had the same answer: Autumn!  So, fifty-out-of-fifty people all prefer this time of year! That’s some reputation for a season!

I am among those people.  This is the time of year for The Fam when we have our Annual Fall Family Day (NOT Family Fall Day, which means something different entirely!), my birthday, and two of The Kiddo’s birthdays are celebrated, and of course, the holy grail of holidays for my family comes into the Autumnal category: THANKSGIVING!

Some people like it because the leaves turn jewel-tone colors; others simply love the cooler weather.  The pumpkin spice smells, and the chili cooking in everyone’s biggest pot in the kitchen doesn’t hurt, either!  Is it the overcast, melancholy days that make us want to curl up in the quiet with a good book?  There is something special about the energy in the air, regardless of the reason so many people choose it as their favorite.

So why did I want to know in the first place, you ask?  Well, it seems that the energy in people changes a bit as well.  Though it starts to be a very busy season for all, people somehow seem more nostalgic and even a bit more subdued to me.  I notice more grace; more ‘warm fuzzies’.  What is it about a season that can make this change in us?

When I think about that question, I think about seasons in our life.  Not the kind that comes with a solstice, but rather the seasons that come with growth.  I think I can explain it better by sharing an excerpt out of my eBook, ‘Extra Ingredients to A Life of Flavor’:

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The seasons of people that have affected me negatively have engrained in me to be positive.

The seasons of people that have affected me positively have instilled a sense of community and love within me.

We have all had the relationship or relationships that have placed fear or mistrust in us at least once. We have seen seasons of loss and of life. Such is this broken-but-beautiful world.

But the main point from all of it that I have learned and desire to pass on is that every single one of them are valuable and crucial to who we allow ourselves to become.

There are many different circumstances that cause season changes – some of them good and tasty; some of them not-so-good that leave a sour taste in our mouth. Either way, seasons come and go, and they consistently change us.

I have had so many seasonings sprinkled throughout my time here that have shaped me and helped create both my living legacy and the one I leave behind. I can tell you that not all of those seasonings have been ones that I care to recall, though it’s important to my heart and as part of my faith that I do, so that they don’t steal my joy.

Is there a friendship you used to count on daily that has fizzled out and you’re not sure why?

Or perhaps there is a family member you confided in that shared your vulnerability with someone else. Maybe it’s just as simple as someone you love and admire moving to a different place.

And then there’s the accountability factor: what if you are the person that doesn’t feel the same toward a friend, or who abandoned a trust somehow – whether knowingly or not – or had to move away from a loved-one? These seasonings of life happen to all of us – no one is immune.

What do we do with that? We cannot allow these times to make us bitter, but rather to make us better. Making our tiny life mighty depends on that.

Whenever I refer to certain people or times or memories from my own past, I almost always call those seasons ‘seasonings’ because they craft the life of flavor we choose to live. Whether it’s salty or sweet, they’re important to the recipe that creates you.

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So, whether you’re one of the fifty-out-of-fifty people that loves Autumn as your favorite season, or you happen to be a beach lover in the hottest months of the year, know that what you do with the seasons of life that come your way is the most important way to grow.  Make your tiny life mighty – with every single season.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill {defend}, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; ...” ~Ecclesiastes 3:1-22

“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” ~Genesis 8:22

“At no other time (than autumn) does the earth let itself be inhaled in one smell, the ripe earth; in a smell that is in no way inferior to the smell of the sea, bitter where it borders on taste, and more honeysweet where you feel it touching the first sounds. Containing depth within itself, darkness, something of the grave almost.” ~Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters on Cézanne

THE BEACH AND THE PIT

Photo by Adrian Garcia.  This image is subject to LASDI© by Life As She Does It. Please do not reuse without linking credit.

Photo by Adrian Garcia.  This image is subject to LASDI© by Life As She Does It. Please do not reuse without linking credit.

Every year somewhere around the 4th of July, The Hubster and I go camping on our Annual Beach Date Trip.  It's only one night, but it has become a tradition I look forward to so much, that when we are leaving the beach from one trip, I am already talking about the next one to come the following year.

I am a girl who thrives on tradition; the history of things excites me.  I can't explain it.  I'm the one who buys a beat-up torn-down table because it is that way.  I've had someone ask me as I made a purchase like that how I was going to refurbish it, to which I replied, "I'm not.  I absolutely love the cracks and weathered appeal.  It tells me all about it's character."  The person looked at me like I was mad, and it made me smile.

Building traditions is like that for me.  I believe it creates the legacy we live in the present and the one we leave behind.  I don't think anyone is going to remember things I said or did in 100 years, but perhaps I can build traditions in our family that continue to be passed along from generation to generation and that may make a difference both now and long after I'm gone.

It is crucial to part of that legacy that The Kiddos and Grittles (GRAND Littles) see The Hubster and I make time for one another; that we still date each other.  It is vital to the lifeline of their own marriages and relationships.  Hence, the Annual Beach Camping Date Trip!

It's pretty simple, really.  We take our tent, which we set up in the back of the truck instead of on the sandy beach.  There has to be a thermos of wine and two plastic wine glasses.  We take along hot dogs and tortillas to wrap them in - and don't forget the skewers to hold them over the fire!  

Ah, the fire.  It's essential to a successful night, and I mean ESSENTIAL.  We go around the beach collecting wood and shells to create a pit for the fire.  We roast those wieners, sip our wine, look up at the stars, and listen to the roar of the ocean waves (and maybe a little Enya).

We play verbal games that remind us of how rich beyond riches we are.  We play "What's the Top-Five Most-Beautiful Places We've Ever Been" game, and "Top Three Favorite Restaurants", or "Best Family Vacay Memories".  We talk about our wedding, which by no coincidence, took place on the beach.  We never let any sad or unhappy memories interfere with our date - we have enough of those during our regular-life days together!  #Reality

One of our favorite games is something we actually do on our regular days together, but this time with a twist.  On normal days at dinner together, whether we are by ourselves, with The Fam, or with friends, we play "The Pit and the Peak".  This game is where everyone goes around saying the worst part of their day first (The Pit), and then to end on a good note they must say the best part of their day (The Peak).  

Since no worst part of any day is allowed to be discussed on this date, we call it "The Beach and the Pit".  This is where we sit around that fire pit we built in the sand, and talk about all of the best parts of our marriage - the things one has said or done for the other in order to edify them; the times that stand out to us in a great and fond way.  Now sometimes things are repeated from the same game the year before, and that is more than okay.   And there are the new moments from the time we left the beach the year before to the present that we talk about.

It is so easy for we, as mere humans, to cling to the bad.  It is, in fact, easier to place any good on a forgotten shelf if something bad occurs.  We all do it, really.  But life is too short to allow that to happen, so I will fiercely fight for the memories of the happy things - the good parts - even if it means I fight fire with fire by sitting around one and forcing those memories to the surface.  It is the best medicine for those regular days that bring reality back into play.

Do you have beat-up torn-down memories in your own history that tend to make you feel like you need a refurbished life?  Do you allow them to make you feel cracked and weathered or know that it builds character in you and can create a good-and-long-remembered legacy you can leave behind?  Does it make you look back and feel like a mad person or make you smile?

Real life is not always beachy and full of fun and games - trust me, I know.  But it is definitely what you make of it and what you allow it to make of you.  Don't put all the good on a forgotten shelf.  And mark out those times to remember the peaks - even if it means you must fiercely fight to do so.  And in order to see you are rich beyond riches, let the fondest pit be the fire.

beachdate

OH, CHRISTMAS TREE

LASDI©

LASDI©

Christmas is coming!  I love the Christmas season.  I don’t really have a standout favorite thing about it.  Well, that’s not true.  I LIVE for Countdown to Christmas on The Hallmark Channel.  But rather than have to decide what I like best about the holiday, I choose to like all of it equally: the decorations, the Christmas music, the lights; ALL of it!  But there are certain branches of Christmas that kindle special memories and spark a few flames in the heart.

We are definitely a family that stands united and that stands on tradition.  For us, Christmas starts the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  Every year we go pick out the perfect-not-perfect tree. When The Kiddos were Smalls, we went together as a family and it would take us hours to find the right tree.  Even though they all liked something different, we wouldn’t leave until we all agreed on one.  The Hubster and I would nearly always agree on the tree we liked, and of course, each Kiddo would choose a different one.  At that point, it was time for all of us to go to each tree everyone liked and “sell” the others as to why that would be the Christmas tree for the house. 

But no matter which one we ended up deciding upon, we knew what awaited us when we got home.  Christmas-tree-decorating-day meant The Hubster climbed into the attic and brought all the packed-up Christmas boxes down for us to deck the halls, and it also meant cinnamon popcorn and homemade eggnog.  We turned on Christmas music (the classic kind, of course) and away we would go.

Now that The Kiddos are Talls, they still hold that day as the day for putting up the tree and getting their ornaments up in their own homes.  And so, still, do we.  Now each year, The Hubster and I go and pick out our own tree knowing it’s a reminder of times gone by.  For the last few years the tradition has been for Aunt Lu to come with us and help us choose.  The three of us still do the walk-and-find.  My choice is not always what most people would want, though. 

When I go a-tree huntin’, the big winner is always one that stands up straight, because I believe we stand up straight when we’re confident about life.  We shake the tree, and if the needles fall off right away, it doesn’t get picked.  That means it’s not healthy enough to last, and I intentionally choose health for The Fam so that we can last and be together as long as we can.  To pull a tree out and see if it’s rounded all the way around or flat on one side, and that the trunk is large enough to be grounded into a tree stand, is a big deal.  My goal for my family and myself is to be sure we are grounded, and well-rounded in everything we do.  I especially like the ones that are a little imperfect; the ones that maybe have some sort of gaping hole or seem to have some branches that jut out further than the others.  I like the ones that are blemished in ways that show the flaw, though it may be a little hard to see.  Isn’t that how we are as mere humans?  We try so hard to look a certain way or stand out, knowing each one of us is imperfect on the inside, though it may just barely be enough for anyone to see.

Once we find the precise tree, we place vintage ornaments on it with the greatest care.  Each one gets unwrapped and hung in just the right place.  Now I know some of you have that ornament OCD The DAUGHTS talked about in her blog, The Untidy Tribe, but as for The Hubster and I, we just put them on the tree where we really believe they belong.  If that means a couple hang close to one another, then so be it.  Even with that, there is a parallel to what we feel for our family and community not just at Christmas, but every day – we want to hang close to one another, believing we are in the exact right place with the right timing for each season.

Christmas is coming!  How have you stood united with those you love?  What traditions have you kept or created to give a sense of who you are and the legacy you build to tell your story?  Do you embrace your imperfections, no matter how you decorate the outside?  How do YOU choose YOUR Christmas tree? 

“Oh, Christmas tree, how lovely are thy branches.”

BEAUTIFUL GUTS

BeautifulGuts

As All Hallow’s Eve draws nigh, it seems that ghouls, goblins, and grossy guts are everywhere.  I get it.  I get that we have this one day for us to gather in unity to celebrate and glamorize our fears and dark sides.  But for the last few years, I think of Halloween much differently.

To start, I think of a young, gangly girl walking into my home for a midnight premier party I threw for The Hunger Games.  I think of her skinny legs on the highest heels I’ve ever seen – and they were paired up with a mini-skirt and croppy toppy.  Our eldest son had invited her as his date, so she was on the arm of someone I love very dearly, and it put me on the defense instantaneously.  Now I’m a fairly reasonable woman, but when said defense kicks in, I tend to go all “Sheila From The Block” - and that can be quite scary to a youngster like the one I’m describing.  It takes real guts to get through a night like that.

I think of a little sprite who came to a Thanksgiving evening without warning, and started asking for a “sliver” of this and a “sliver” of that, and licking her chops at all the food fare without care.  She was a tiny little thing, and I couldn’t believe the amount of food she ingested.  It reminded me a bit of Gollum referring to his “precious” when anyone came within the vicinity of her eating arena.  It was alarming and charming all at the same time, as she filled her guts with the glorious food feast.

Thoughts take me back to a more mature young lady, filled with quiet countenance as my family embarked upon our Annual Family Festivus at Christmas.  Family picture time came about, and she willingly became the photographer instead of assuming she was to be in the photo itself.  She was content to have been asked to be part of Family Night at all, it seemed, and wrapped arms with me and slid her hand into mine as we crossed the street for dinner.  She then quietly and authentically whispered, “Thank you for having me” in my ear.  And my guts did a butterfly flip.

I think of a quirky young woman, daring enough to be different and wear knee-high socks with the character Jack Skellington from the movie ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’  on them all year long (to go with her Jack Skellington earrings and hair bow, of course), no matter what holiday it is.  Now that takes guts!

I think of someone with so much talent it baffles people.  I see in my mind’s eye all the colorful and creative ways she paints, draws, and pieces things together to make the most incredible art.  I think of the upright work ethic in her gift of artistry, and really anything she does for that matter, and I know how very rare a quality that is.  I see her work her guts out.

I think of a strong female, coming into a family of strong females, somehow knowing just how to graciously fall right in line with them without having to gnarl her teeth in order to prove something.  Gutsy move.

When I think of Halloween, I even think of a hot, breezy day in August near the beach.  I know that one does not necessarily coincide with the other for most people, but for me the two are harmonious.    That was the day a beautiful and blushing bride who looked like an angelic woodland fairy got married.  To my son.  And with all her guts pledged her undying and forever love to him.

Why do I think of Halloween when I think of all of these things?  Because my whimsical and wonderful Daughts-In-Law, Kiren, was born on that day, and we celebrate the holiday much differently from most people.  We don’t celebrate our fears or dark sides.  But we do celebrate in unity.  We celebrate how beautiful she is.  We celebrate how unique and exceptional she is.  We celebrate her ferocious-yet-gentle love for her husband.  We celebrate her fierce loyalty to a family she fits so perfectly into.  We celebrate her beautiful guts.

WHEN THE KUCHEN HITS THE FAN

SHE2016

SHE2016

I was thumbing through my favorite spice magazine.  Okay.  Let's get this out of the way - some people read gossip mags, some like the cerebral-sciency type of mags.  If you're like The Hubster, perhaps you like fishing magazines.  Personally, I find it extremely provocative to carefully peruse the free quarterly magazine sent to our home that houses all the gorgeous spices and seasonings, and all the published recipes sent in by "others" like me.  

So I was thumbing through my favorite spice magazine, and I came across a picture that stopped me in my tracks.  It was a warm photo showing layers of sliced apple, caramelized and formed into some sort of delicacy unlike any I had ever seen.  I did one of those things we do to get an even closer look - you know, like when you fold the magazine in half and then hold it right up to your face, or tilt it from side-to-side as if to see around the item in the picture?  I looked to the left of the photo and saw the title of the recipe: "Grandma's Apple Kuchen".  (pronounced koo-ken)

I knew this recipe was meant for me and I knew I had to conquer it.  I wasn't sure why, but I just knew.  I made my shopping list right away.  There were a few obstacles to overcome in order to make this happen.  Hey, nothing good comes easy, right?  It called for a very specific-sized glass pan I didn't have, nor had I ever heard of, and a few ingredients that were not easily found in a regular grocery store.

As fate would have it, I was in my local Goodwill spot and heard something calling my name.  "I'm over here, She!"  There, with what seemed to be a rainbow with confetti streaming down over it, was the odd-sized glass pan.  $2.99??  I think I can handle that.  Check.  I perused Amazon to find the specific ingredients needed and found them.  CHECK!!  Sunday Supper was looking like the perfect time to make Grandma's Kuchen.  In my mind, I could see the proud faces of my family and hear all the accolades I would be receiving.  Oh yea.  Meant to be.  This was going to be PERFECT.

I carefully did exactly as the recipe said.  I painstakingly sliced the apples so that they were uniform and lovely.  I whisked with fury, and stirred with passion.  I slowly placed each apple slice in layers to be ever-so-exact.  And into the oven it went.  And THE AROMA!!  The smell of the vanilla, the cinnamon, the apples!!  I cleaned the mess that is usually left on the path behind you when you work so hard to achieve greatness.  The kitchen.  But I wasn't bitter.  Oh, no.  Not with what was waiting on the other side of that oven door.

The timer went off.  The potholders came out.  The oven door was opened.  And there, Ladies and Gentlemen, was THE KUCHEN.

I took it out of the oven with tears in my eyes.  I breathed in the hard work I had seen come to fruition, and set it down on my granite counter.  I stepped to the doorway and proudly announced, "The kuchen ...... is cooling."  And the smiles of anticipation spread across the faces of The ManChild and The Hubster.  I was in the clear.  My artwork was complete.  Now all we need do was eat it.

I walked back over to it to rest on my laurels.  Of course I did.  I couldn't help but stare at this incredible beauty as it cooled and brought us all closer to being one with its tasty morsels.  And then, BOOM!

You may find what I'm about to say hard to believe.  But every word is true.  Out of nowhere, the kuchen exploded.  I mean EX.  PLO.  DED.  Glass hit my arms, my neck, my face, luckily missing my eyes.  Kuchen hit the walls, the floor, the ceiling.  The sound of it was deafening.  Cameron and Adrian came running into the kitchen, only to see me standing there, eyes wide with shock and arms out in the air to my sides, as if I were attempting to fly.  "WHAT HAPPENED?!?"  I just stared at them.  "WHAT HAPPENED, She?!?"  And the tears began to flow.  "Are you okay??  What happened?"  I looked up at them, giant tears streaming now, and screamed at the top of my lungs (get ready for it)" "MY KUCHEN EXPLODED!!"  

I wish you could have seen the pity-slash-comical-slash-confused looks on their faces.  The "awwwwwwww"s coming out of their mouths, rolling from deep inside their souls for me as they both put their arms around me to console my broken spirit were so sincere.  All that hard work.  All that mountain climbing to get to the top, only to slide back down.  Everything I had worked SO HARD FOR.  Ruined.

Or was it?  Those two went into action.  They cautiously cleaned me up, and led me to the couch with a tall glass of wine.  They cleaned up the kitchen.  They loved on me.  They offered me kuchen condolences all night.  And I was reminded that life was good, even and especially in the moments we think it isn't.

I changed that recipe to morph it into my own and chose simple ingredients and more practical tools to do so.  I make it often and think of that day every single time I do.  I know it grew me and helped me stretch and climb.  I know it taught me that there is almost always a mess left behind you when you work hard, not to rest on my laurels, and to understand that in all toil there is profit.  I know it helped me see what's really important.  All that because the kuchen hit the fan.

Sometimes the most beautiful things can explode in your face, even if you think you've conquered something after a long, arduous process, and it turns out incredible ...... you feel proud and think you're in the clear.  And then, BOOM.  What was once lovely artwork is in pieces everywhere, reminding you how truly delicate life can be.

Be careful and practical as you stretch and climb, but climb just the same.  Know that when something goes wrong  after you've worked so hard, it is only to show you what's really important so that you don't lose sight of it.  And NEVER put a hot kuchen in a glass pan on a granite counter. 

SHE'S CONDOLENCE KUCHEN

Kuchen:
1 1/4 cups  flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 stick butter, cold and cut up
2 egg yolks
2 tsp milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 medium-sized green apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thin
 
Streusel:
3/4 cup sugar
3 tbs flour
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tbs butter, cold and cut
 
Combine all streusel ingredients into small mixing bowl and blend with your fingers until the mixture resembles small crumbs. Set aside.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and butter. Use your fingers to blend all the kuchen ingredients to large-crumb consistency. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks then add the vanilla extract and milk. Pour milk mixture into the crumbled dry ingredients and mix until it is just blended. Press this dough into the bottom and up the sides of a prepared baking dish.

Arrange the apple slices in three lengthwise rows on top of the crust. Sprinkle the streusel mixture over the apples. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the apples look glazed and caramelized.

EAT SLOWLY.

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1 LIFE 1 MISSION - A GUEST BLOG

Links International - All Rights Reserved  ©

Links International - All Rights Reserved ©

What a special day for Life As She Does It!!  Not only do I have my first male Guest Blogger, he is someone I largely admire and consider a hero of sorts.  In a world that is so profoundly broken as a whole, it can sometimes feel discouraging to even try to help where we are called or needed.  Not this guy.  Jason Bollinger, along with his wife, Holly, are saving the world one trip, one person, one step at a time,  And that's how it's done, isn't it?  One foot in front of the other??  You can find more of Jason's moving words, adventures, and mission stories over at 1Life1Mission.com, or any of 1L1M's social media.  Read on to find out more about the ways Jason is doing it and how we can do it, too - CHANGE THE WORLD!!  Take it away, J-Bo!!

I’m so honored to be the first “HE” on the LASDI blog. My wife, Holly, and I are big fans of SHE, and we are blessed to have a front row seat into all the different ways SHE makes the world a better place. She is the real deal, and our lives are fuller because of SHE and Adrian (HE). 

We work with a mission organization called Links International. A lot of our time is spent traveling to the developing world bringing Good News to the poor. We also spend time working with churches, businesses, and families who are interested in connecting with mission opportunities. Our network provides Gospel-based solutions and resources for poverty’s most devastating affects. 

SHE wears us out all the time telling us we are changing the world. The encouragement is actually awesome, but the reality is that we’re just scratching the surface doing what we can. We go to the needs. We work hard on solutions. We empower people to break free from poverty. We get a front row seat to lives being changed by Good News. 

Our hope is that changed lives become transformed communities and transformed communities become transformed regions and transformed regions...well you get the idea. Big impact usually happens from something small. 

We haven’t always worked in International mission. For 18 years we were in full-time church ministry, but we experienced a turning point in 2010 surrounding the adoption of our girls. We went for what we thought was one daughter under 2 years old and came home with two daughters aged 6 and 8. In a traumatic experience of everything going wrong...almost...God miraculously delivered our girls into our family. We ended up spending just shy of three months in Ukraine. A month of that time included spending time in the orphanage every day.

HollyBollingerPhoto.com ©

That was our first time in a foreign country other than England. It was our first time to spend an extended time with what the Bible calls “the least of these.” It was our first time to get to know missionaries who were sacrificing a comfortable life at home to serve those in need. We didn’t realize it at the time, but we were deeply impacted by those things. While we were there, it was just life. We were focused on our adoption. We weren’t planning a radical transformation of how we would live the rest of our lives. 

I heard Bono say after his first trip to Africa that he wouldn’t be able to unsee what he had seen. Not only that, he would have to do something about it. After we got home, we experienced that to be true. We still loved the church and serving the church, but we couldn’t unsee what we had seen. Not only that, we started to see it in places we had never seen it before. 

The first step was just seeing it. Mission trips are great for this. Before we saw it, we overlooked severe needs and fatherless kids in our own community. They were there all along, but we missed it. We didn’t see it. Or maybe the truth is we didn’t want to see it. 

It was definitely easier and more convenient to not see it, but not seeing it is the barrier to mission. We can’t change a world that we pretend doesn’t exist. When we travel to places that suffer from extreme poverty, “need” suddenly has a name, a face, a sweet hug and a beautiful smile. I don’t think we’re motivated toward Mission until we experience that reality.  

Links International - All Rights Reserved  ©

Links International - All Rights Reserved ©

I like the idea of changing the world, don’t you? I plan on continuing to do all I can to work toward that end. However, I know many think they can’t or don’t have time. Many think they’re not qualified or gifted enough. Some are just overwhelmed thinking about where to start. 

The truth is changing the world may actually be easier than you think. You can be good news to bad news around you. You can bring light to something dark. You can bring hope to something hopeless. Maybe even today. You can change someone’s world. You probably don’t even have to go somewhere you don’t already go. You can make a difference. A meal. An encouraging word. A prayer. A listening ear. A hug. An invitation. Don’t underestimate the significance of what you can do.

Once you see it, you’ll see more. You will even crave more. You might start to set your sights on other needs, bigger needs. You might find yourself rescuing orphans. You might find yourself creating jobs in Africa. You might find yourself doing healthcare training in Nicaragua. You never know. I think we can do it. I think we can change the world. I think you can change the world.

Blessings,
Jason Bollinger

We are available to help you connect with your missional potential. We would love to talk to you about things you’re interested in and places you can plug in. You can contact us at office@linksintlusa.org.

BollingerLove