New Kitchen Toy

My husband recently gifted me with a new toy for my kitchen that he found on Brad’s Deals.  An 8-qt. pressure cooker that he got for $50!  WooHoo!  Isn’t it pretty?!

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One of the first things I made in it was a super cheesy Mac n’ Cheese, from scratch, in about 20 minutes!  It was awesome and really tasty!

Since then I’ve cooked a roast from frozen to fabulous in about 90 minutes, Egg Roll Bowls in less than 10 minutes start to finish.  I’ve made Curry Chicken, Lentil Stew, and even yogurt!  I am loving this thing!

The kitchen is a more challenging place for me since my diagnosis and as a result, we’ve been eating out more, which isn’t good.  It takes me longer to prepare things and there is a level of frustration that causes me to get a little discouraged and take even longer, or give up altogether.  Then, there’s the whole, “I forgot to thaw the meat!” thing.  With this new pressure cooker, both of those challenges are alleviated.  Even if it takes me longer to do the prep, the cooking time is cut so short that it balances out.  We dont end up eating at 8:00 (which I hate) because I’m a slow poke in the kitchen now, or abandoning the prospect of cooking dinner altogether because I forgot to thaw the meat out.  It’s a win-win!

I’ve only begun to learn all the things I can do with this time-saver.  I’m very excited to try new things in it.  I’m especially excited that I can make my own yogurt again via a much easier process than the crockpot or stovetop, not to mention it’s quicker.  I’m also excited that we got such a great deal!  These things aren’t cheap.  If you’ve never heard of Brad’s Deals you might want to check it out.  Not that this is a plug for them, it’s not.  If you’re in the market for a pressure cooker, that just might be another place to keep an eye out for a deal.  Either way, I’d say a pressure cooker is a good investment for any kitchen!

👩🏻‍🍳😊👍🏻

 

How Exactly?

One of the first things I did after being diagnosed with Cervical Dystonia was find a support group on Facebook.  I wanted to know how to live with this condition; what to expect and how to function in it.  I found a wonderful group of people who share resources and information, and listen when a little venting is needed.  What I did not find was step-by-step directions which is how I roll.  Drawing me a picture is even better or actually seeing someone live their day out with this condition would be ideal.  Funny thing though, I don’t know a single person with Cervical Dystonia except those I’ve met on the Facebook page.  I have never even seen anyone who seemed like they might have it in my comings and goings out in the world.  Where are they all?

That question was asked on the support page once and someone answered, “We’re hiding in our homes.”  That would be one way of dealing with it I suppose.  I spend a lot of time at home anyway and some days it is definitely the more comfortable thing to do, but comfortable gets boring after awhile.  I don’t want it to be said of me after I’m gone, “She lived a comfortable life.”  I want to be remembered for having done something with my life, for having triumphed over adversity, for being brave and bold – not comfortable.  I’m not quite there yet though.

I think I’m still coming to grips with my new reality and still mourning a little for what I’ve lost.  I’m still trying to figure out new ways to continue doing the things I enjoy. I’m still searching for my step-by-step directions.  And that’s the thing.  I’ve been trying for months to figure out how other people live day-to-day wth CD.  What I really need to figure out is how am going to live day-to-day with CD.  How other people live their lives is not as important as how I live MY life.

I’m not saying it’s not helpful to seek suggestions from my fellow afflicted.  I believe that is absolutely valuable.  The problem was that I was looking for someone who could tell me exactly how and I don’t think that’s realistic.  We are all different.  We do different things in different ways and in different environments.  I need to figure out how to cut vegetables, for example, in my kitchen with my knife while my head is moving without cutting off my fingers.  I need to work out how to sit and support my head so that I can at least semi-focus on whatever crochet project or book is in my hands. Thank God I can type without looking at the screen or the keyboard.  😂

Most importantly, I think, I need to let myself cry when frustration overtakes me and I want to throw whatever I’m trying to do against the wall (I don’t think I should do the throwing though.  Crying is less destructive.)  I need to be okay with being broken and cut myself some slack.  I need to stay as positive as possible, let the tears come, rest when I need to rest, then get up and get back at it.  Life is a gift and I want to enjoy as much of it as I possibly can.  I think one way to do that is to accept the fact that there is no EXACTLY how and just find MY how.

🗺😊

The Dark Side Has Cookies

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“Let Jesus comfort you in your pain. When we suffer, yet show joy, we glorify God because we can’t do this on our own. This is the work of the Holy Spirit in us. God wants you living in freedom and joy now regardless of what you’re going through. If you focus all your time on what isn’t, you will lose focus on what is.” -Just Jesus Devotional

This was part of my devotional commentary this morning and it really spoke to me.  Living with Cervical Dystonia is a painful and frustrating experience.  It could be a very dark place if I only focused on what I can’t do anymore or just the pain and frustration.  I am a melancholy personality and it wouldn’t be that hard for me, but even I can’t stand the thought of such a negative life.  How sad and wasteful!

Every life that God creates has value.  Regardless of what society says about our worth; whether we’re pretty enough, rich enough, productive enough.  God says we are enough and we all have a purpose here.  Not only that, but there is beauty all around us to bring us joy.  Sunshine, blue skies, sunsets, bird song, the sound of rain, cool breezes, the scent of flowers.  There’s something for all the senses.  If we can’t see it, we can hear it, if we can’t hear it, we can smell it or feel it.    Focus on what IS – find your purpose and find a way to bring beauty into your life.

There is always a way.  Sometimes it takes a lot of thought and determination to find it, but I believe there is always a way to find good in a seemingly bad situation.  For me, Jesus is my comfort and He reminds me of the good in my life when I am tempted to the dark side.  On those days when I start to focus on what isn’t He reminds me of what is; He loves me no matter what, I have a husband who is my best friend and supports me unconditionally, my life has purpose, I have people who love and depend on me to stay positive (little and very important eyes are watching me).  And there are so many things I am still capable of doing and doing well.  I am grateful and thankful for all of my blessings and most of all that I don’t have to do this alone.

Jesus has physically healed me in the past.  In 2005 He healed me of Fibromyalgia.  You can read about it here if you’d like.  So, I KNOW He can.  Whether He wills it for right now remains to be seen, but whether He heals my physical body or not, He has healed my soul for all eternity and that is even more important.  I WANT to live life now in the freedom and joy that is mine in Jesus Christ.  That is a choice I get to make every day – joy or despair.  For the glory of God, the good of myself and my family, joy is my choice. It’s not always easy and, like I said, some days the dark side beckons hard.  They have cookies, after all.  😂(that’s sort of an inside Star Wars joke.  I couldn’t resist).  See!  Joy everywhere!  Even with cookies though, it’s not worth the negativity and I always have help resisting, praise Jesus!  Whenever I call, He’ll pull me back.

🍪😡🙏🏻😃

A Very Thankful Thanksgiving!

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The food table. We did buffet style this year.

I know Thanksgiving has passed, but now that I’ve had some time to reflect, I’d like to share some important things that happened and for which I am truly thankful.

As most of you know, for the past six months or so I have been living with Cervical Dystonia.  What that means is that doing simple tasks is no longer simple.  Pain, frustration, and a soft neck brace are now my daily companions.  So, as you may imagine, the thought of cooking a Thanksgiving feast was a bit daunting.  The past few years my sister has been doing most of the cooking with everyone else bringing a dish or two.  This year, however, she was blessed with the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving in Hawaii with her son.  So, Thanksgiving at my house was on this year.

Praise Jesus, I had some help!  My sweet daughter brought several dishes, two of which were family traditions that I handed over to her.  My son and husband were big helps as well.  I feel I should stop here and explain that my idea of a Thanksgiving feast includes appetizers, a plethora of desserts, and a drink station to rival Buccee’s (that’s Texas for 7-eleven on steroids).  Just for fun, this was our menu plan:

164C0249-4EDB-42CC-8A38-B5681764275BOh!  We added deviled eggs which I boiled, two of my grands peeled, and Shauna deviled once she got to the house Thanksgiving day.  I also added Pumpkin Bread to the dessert list and the cocoa was homemade from scratch, as was everything, actually.  So, what happened that made me so thankful besides the availability of all this amazing food?!

Aside from all the help of my awesome family (my grand-girls Leah and Karlyn were especially helpful), I was able to do all that I did!  Two days of shopping and three days in the kitchen – cooking, baking, cleaning, and prepping.  I wasn’t sure that everything on the menu would make it to the table, but it did and then some!  We fed eleven people at a beautifully set table and the food was amazing!  In addition to all of that, we also had a thankful tree that my grands crafted and hung by the front door.  Beside that was a basket of leaves, pens, and tape so everyone could fill out a leaf with what they were thankful for and hang it on the tree.  I think we filled it up pretty good.  😊

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I am amazed at God’s goodness! At one point during our planning and doing, my daughter, Shauna, said to me, “Do what makes you happy!  If it’s more stressful than happy, just step back from it and breathe instead.  We’re gonna love you either way, it’s going to be a great day!”  How sweet is that?!  And, she was right.  That’s exactly what I did and it all came together . . . beautifully!  In spite of missing some significant loved-ones, it was a fantastic day!  Great food, lots of love and laughter, and much thankfulness!

And today I rest!  I’m not gonna lie, I’m a little wiped and my neck muscles are a little more unhappy than usual.  All-in-all though, I feel extremely thankful, grateful, and blessed!  Bring on Christmas!!

🎄😃💕

The Strength of His Presence

“When I let Jesus walk with me through fiery trials, what I remember most is not the suffering but knowing a God so great and so good, that my life was forever changed not because of my pain but because of the Strength of His Presence.” -Just Jesus Devotional

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This was a quote from my devotional this morning.  I want this!  I want to know the Strength of His Presence in the midst of my suffering.  I want Him to be glorified through my life.  I want His goodness to be obvious in spite of  the pain, or maybe because of the pain.  Sometimes I struggle with the whole “good God, bad things” situation as much as anyone.  My brain is too literal and analytical sometimes and I just don’t get it.  He is good, loving, and all-powerful so why doesn’t He just make all the bad stuff go away?

I’m not a theologian and God’s ways are way above mine.  I know He has a plan and a timeline, and apparently things need to play out a certain way.  Why?  I’m not entirely sure.  What I do know is that regardless of anything I think I know, God knows it all!  He sees the whole world  and all of time in a way we can’t.  That is why we Christians walk by faith and not by sight. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” –Hebrews‬ ‭11:1‬ ‭NASB‬. ‬We are convinced.

I am convinced that Christ died for me, was resurrected for me, loves me and wants good things for me.  I am also convinced that His “good things” are not always the same as my “good things”.  I am convinced that His Word is true and that He knows best.  I am convinced of these things and many more, and cannot be swayed from them because my Heavenly Father was gracious enough to make Himself known to me in very personal ways during the 23-years that I’ve known Him.  Once you experience the Presence of God, you will never be the same.

So, even though I don’t “get” it all, I have faith that Jesus is in control.  He has a plan and a purpose for all of this and one day I will understand.  In the meantime, He allows things to happen in my life that I would not ask for.  Through those experiences He walks with me.  He strengthens me, comforts me, teaches me, and is raising me up to be the person He created me to be.  Sometimes it’s really hard and painful, and I can’t see any good coming out of it.  Like Peter though, when I keep my eyes on Jesus, I can walk above the waves.

Father, help me to keep my eyes on Jesus and walk above the storm.  Let me know the Strength of Your Presence in my suffering.  Let me come through this stronger, wiser, and more able to help others who have walked my path.  May You be glorified in all I say and do.  Walk with me through this fiery trial and let me feel that You are here.  In the healing name of Jesus I pray.  Amen!

🙏🏻💕

C.D. Journals – October 23, 2018

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This morning has been a little rough.  I dreaded getting out of bed and starting the fight.  My muscles still contract, but my head can’t really go anywhere when I’m lying down.  Especially if I’m on my left side, which is the side my head goes to when the muscles contract.  I can almost feel a little normal then.  At least for a few minutes.

As soon as my feet hit the floor though, the owl inside me tries to come out and spin it’s head around.  I get so tired of it!  I know there are others who have it a lot worse and that doesn’t change how frustrating it is and how weary I grow of it.  Some days are worse than others.  Yesterday was a particularly challenging day in that my head was turning A LOT and my brace wasn’t helping as much.  Maybe that’s why this morning was so tough.

The muscle contractions are basically constant, but on good days they’re more like twitches or tremors, with occasional head spinning contractions.  On not so good days, like yesterday, they’re the head spinning kind with occasional tremors.  I never know what I’m going to get from one day to the next, but I know there will be pain and discomfort.  That I can count on.

Thank God for good friends!  I asked my bestie, Angel, to pray for me this morning as I was lying in bed not wanting to get up.  Not only did she say she would pray, but she texted me her prayer!  I felt so encouraged.  She asked God to help me “be in this day”.  I think that’s a beautiful way of putting it because that’s basically what I was avoiding.  Being in this day that I knew would contain almost constant discomfort and frustration.

I thought about what I would be missing by not being in this day and the trade-off wouldn’t really be worth it to me.  In exchange for less pain and frustration I would miss out on time with my son, daughter and grandchildren with whom I have an outing planned.  I would cause my husband more concern than he already has over me.  I would miss out on the cool fall weather, which I eagerly anticipate every year.  And, I would simply spiral downward into depression – a very ugly place that I don’t want to be in.

God has healed me before.  March 9, 2005 He healed me of Fibromyalgia.  I have no doubt whatsoever that He can heal me again.  I also believe that He has allowed this in my life for a reason and healing won’t come until that purpose is fulfilled according to His timetable.  In the meantime, I want so desperately to weather this nightmare with grace and a positive attitude.

I don’t like being depressed and I don’t like being the cause of anyone else’s sadness.  I want to be strong for those who are concerned about me, but I also want to be real when I need help.  Asking for prayer when I especially need it, like this morning.  I knew from the beginning that there would be a battle.  Staying strong isn’t easy sometimes.  We humans get weary.  I am so thankful for my God who is always there for me and who has blessed me with friends whose prayers He hears.

I’m out of bed, praise the Lord, and getting ready to spend time with kids and grandkids who bless my life immensely!  I don’t think there’s anything that’s worth missing out on that!

😊💕

Moments of Mourning

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Once upon a time I had small children.  My life was full and busy.  Sometimes I resented the demands put on me by motherhood, but most of the time I cherished and enjoyed it.  I actually had children in my home for 37-years.  There’s a big spread between my children.  Their ages are 37, 30, 24, and 21, and I took care of one of my grandchildren for awhile who will be 12 in November.

My children are all grown now and my granddaughter spends most of her time with her mother, which is a good thing.  I am finally, at the age of 58, basically an empty-nester.  My 24-year old son still lives with us, but he’ll be leaving for the mission field soon.

These days, instead of making breakfast and waking kids up for school, I wake up to a quiet house.  I make myself some coffee, turn on some instrumental worship music, and start my day with a devotional.  To young mothers, that probably sounds like heaven and some mornings it is.  Other mornings, not so much.

I try really hard to not make my life completely about my children, to have hobbies and other interests.  I don’t want to be that mom that falls apart without her children to take care of.  Now is the season to be just me again; rediscover passions and interests that there was no room for while raising children, reconnect with my husband in a whole new way and actually have time for him, deepen my relationship with Jesus and spend more time with HIM.  The world is my oyster again!

That’s my attitude some mornings, but other mornings, like this morning I find myself mourning the loss of my young children.  I miss them!  Their laughter, their sweet little faces, watching them play together, the way they’d sit in my lap and say adorable little kid things, and their pure love for their mommy.  Those wide-eyed little faces saying, “I love you, Mommy!”  God, I miss that!  I miss seeing things that I’ve seen a million times, brand new through their eyes.  I miss so many things!

My youngest is 21-years old!  He’s technically been an adult for three years now and still, from time to time, I find myself heart-broken and crying.  Will it always be like this?  Will there always be these moments of mourning?  I really don’t know because I’ve never been here before, in this empty nest.  They come to visit, children and grandchildren, but it’s not the same is it?

Some mornings the peace and quiet is really nice, and some mornings not so much.  Moments of mourning show up uninvited.  The question is will I let them in and visit awhile or will I embrace this new season of life and shut the door on them until they stop coming?  Good question.